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Nate won the Calder. Even Sid hadn’t won the Calder, but Nate wasn’t going to rub that in his face. Well, maybe he would a little bit. He probably had three strikes to spread out over the next few decades before Sid got tired of his shit. But he knew he could tease Sid a little bit when they caught a late dinner after the awards, because Sid had added some hardware to his collection too. 

They sat at a long table, plates long scraped clean of matching bloody steaks. Everyone in their party had done their share of sneaking Nate beers all night, except for Sid who splurged on a nice bottle of port to close out the night and poured Nate a questionably large glass. Nate was red in the face, his mouth sticky sweet, and he was feeling invincible.

“Like I could just—aah, you know?” He shook his hands in front of him for emphasis. “You and me, bud. Can’t believe it. And now I get to destroy your ass at beach runs for two weeks.”

“Oh yeah?” Sid was smiling, rosy-cheeked, fat lips pressed together. It was the smile he had when he was trying not to be too proud of himself but couldn’t help it; pleased. “Are you coming to Los Angeles?”

Nate faltered. Wasn’t he? “Yeah, man, I thought that was the plan.”

“Yeah, you know, my plan,” Sid replied, and oh my God, he wasn’t joking. Nate sobered up in a second. “Andy’s plan. Uh, we do it every year, so.” 

Nate remembered Sid and Andy going off the grid for the last half of July the summer before, and how he had tried not to feel left out after training with them for a solid month. But he’d barely been drafted yet, so he figured maybe that had something to do with it. They were already hitting it off so much at that point, but maybe Sid didn’t want to push him too hard. And then they’d invited Nate to the Vail camp, which felt so huge at the time that it basically eclipsed any self-pity Nate had about being left out from other things.

“Oh, shit, uh.” He didn’t know what to say now. He had packed like, a month’s worth of underwear and all his gear. Sid had seen it in his hotel room earlier that day and hadn’t even said anything. “Sorry, I knew that. Just the way you and Andy were talking about it made it feel kinda. I dunno. I thought I was invited.” 

Sid blinked a few times, like he was trying to process each sentence individually. “I mean—“

“Please don’t invite me now, man, it would be weird.” Nate balled his lap napkin in his fists under the table and tried to act cool. He was red up his neck, he could feel it. Being so close to Sid sometimes still made him hot under the collar. Nate was worried he would never get used to how handsome Sid was in person. It made him feel stupid. 

“No, no, no,” Sid replied, ignoring the way Nate was being a complete fucking baby. “I think, well—I would need to ask Andy. Andy!”

Andy was three people down and on the opposite side of the table talking to Pat about the neurologic benefits of eating blueberries or some shit, but he stopped mid-sentence when Sid called him. Pat looked thrilled, and excused himself from the table altogether. 

“Yeah?” Andy asked. Unlike Sid and Nate, he was stone cold sober, eyes bright and wide. 

“C’mere,” Sid said, nodding to the space between him and Nate, and Andy got up and moved around to their side of the table, squatting in between them. Nate continued trying to protest to Sid, just a stream of hey man, it’s cool, hey, please, come on, but Sid held a hand up to quiet him. “Nate wants to come to the condo. That cool?”

“Yeah, uh, I don’t see why not.” Andy looked at him, and then back to Sid. “It’s your place.”

Sid’s mouth screwed up a little at that.

“I really don’t have to come, please don’t let me invite myself.” The dinner had gone from fun to tense to excruciating. Of course both Sid and Andy waved their hands dismissively at him to shut up, like the fucking pod people they were. 

“Don’t worry about it,” Andy said, while Sid more straightforwardly said, “Now you don’t have a choice, you gotta.” 

Andy clapped Sid on the thigh twice and then stood up to go back to his seat, no doubt desperate to hound Pat or whoever would listen to him some more. “Hey, we’ll talk about this later, okay? But yeah, I’m fine with it.”

He was talking to Sid, who nodded and then turned his attention back to Nate. “See, that was easy. Los Angeles!” 

“Los Angeles!” Nate cheered back weakly, before turning away and taking a too-big gulp of port.

 


 

Here’s what Nate knew about the Los Angeles condo: Sid bought it back in 2011 when he regularly started seeing a doctor for his concussion recovery in Santa Monica. Andy had told him a little bit about that time, because Sid didn’t talk about it at all. When Andy talked about the condo he was more into talking about the benefits of the backyard beach for low-impact cardio, the nearby markets with super fresh produce and high-quality meats, the juice bar down the street he wanted to franchise for his gym in Toronto. He had left out a lot of other details. Vital details.

Like it was small, bare bones with only one bedroom. How had Andy and Sid spent so much time here? There was an office with a fold-out futon, but it just seemed really out of character of Sid to make Andy sleep on something like that regularly.

“You can get a hotel too, don’t feel like you have to sleep here,” Sid offered, catching Nate’s grimace at the bed. 

“But where will Andy sleep?” Andy wasn’t going to fucking sleep on the floor, was he?

“Oh, he’s gonna, uh. He can sleep with me. We’re pretty—“ He stopped and stared into the middle of the white wall in front of him, looking for a word.

“Co-dependent? Yeah, I know, bud,” Nate said, but he still felt weird. Maybe not bad, because at least Andy wasn’t sleeping on a shitty fold-out, and if Nate got a hotel room then maybe Sid wouldn’t let him sleep in his own cush bed. But he couldn’t let go of the feeling that he was missing something obvious. Sid was being too cagey and Andy had been too nice and talkative on the drive from the airport, like he was trying to fill a void left by something else unspoken.

“I’m gonna, uh, oh hey,” Sid said, hands patting his pockets, looking down to the living room where Andy was dragging in their gear.

Andy saw him and said, “Groceries?” 

“Yeah.” It was unreal how they communicated sometimes. “Keys?” 

“Here,” Andy replied, fishing them out of his pocket and tossing them down to Sid. 

“Bathroom’s there.” Sid nodded at the open door across from the office and then headed back down the hall toward the stairs that led to the garage. Nate pushed the door open to reveal a bathroom that fit a shower, a tub, and a toilet, and very little else. When he looked back up, Sid had already disappeared down the stairs on the other end of the condo, door slamming shut behind him. He was being weirder than usual. 

“You wanna see the ja-kooz?” Andy asked, popping his head in from around the corner of the hall again.

Ja-kooz . Stay lame, Andy,” Nate replied, fond as hell. Everyone talked about how easily he got along with Sid, how close they were, but no one ever saw he was even closer with Andy. There was a comfort there from knowing each other a few years longer than he had known Sid. Andy had had faith in him to put the work in from day one. “Just call it a fucking hot tub.”

“Sorry, you wanna see the fucking hot tub?” Andy nodded to the patio, through the sliding glass door. 

It was small like the rest of the place, but had enough room for a grill and the hot tub, with another rickety set of stairs that led down to the beach. A tall wire gate was the only thing between them and the expanse of sand that ran straight into the Pacific. 

“Not bad, not bad. I mean, I’ve seen better,” Nate joked once they were out there. He leaned against the deck railing on his elbows and faced back toward Andy and the house. 

“You’re welcome to stay someplace else,” Andy said, reminding Nate all over again that he invited himself here. 

He cringed inwardly, shaking his head. “No, you know I’m kidding. For real, man, I can get out of here. Don’t want to get in the way of Sid and his routines, eh?”

Andy shrugged. “It’s not that. And you should stay. But we should talk. Sid and I—”

It was him saying Sid and I that did it. Andy said Sid and I, and it didn’t just dawn on Nate that Andy and Sid were fucking: moreso the realization slammed into him like a truck doing one-twenty down the highway. 

“You’re fucking,” he said, like an idiot. 

“Yeah, I mean, we’re married, so,” Andy replied. “I guess, yeah. We’re fucking." 

Nate thought he was going to have an aneurysm right then, right there. “You’re married? Since fucking when?”

“Last fall. Not long.” Andy was looking at him coolly, his back lit up by the sun, his gaze unflinching. 

Nate’s hands flexed involuntarily, and he shifted his weight from side to side, looking away. “But you’ve uh. You’ve been together a lot longer than that, huh?”

“A little while,” Andy admitted. “Listen, Nate, you know you can’t tell anyone.” 

“Of course I’m not gonna fucking tell anyone,” Nate replied. He understood why Andy had stayed and Sid had left: it was this conversation, and Andy was the best one to have it with him. Everything was clicking into place, and Nate felt like a fucking idiot, but not just because he’d missed out on something happening right in front of him. “You tell him about me?” 

“You liking guys?” Andy replied, almost incredulous. Nate had been crying when he admitted it, years ago, right when he’d started in the Q and had been so fucking scared of himself. Andy never made any kind of move to let Nate know he wasn’t alone then, and here he was now acting all cool married to Sidney fucking Crosby. “Of course not. I don’t go telling anyone’s secrets. That’s not me.”

“Yeah? Not even your husband?” Nate hoped he didn’t sound bitter.

Andy didn’t seem to take it that way, because he smiled a little bit, almost coy. “No, not even my husband.”

Nate shook his head. He wanted to be hurt that Andy had never said anything when he was younger, had never said oh, me too, it’s normal when he had the opportunity. But he got it, because it was Andy and Sid, who probably had their marriage certificate stored in a safe deposit box in Switzerland. No one was entitled to that shit, but Nate felt some sort of way about it. Complicated, to say the least.

“Thanks for telling me,” he said finally. 

“You know how it is,” Andy replied.

Nate was starting to. He was still mad.

“We both wanted you to know. We talked about it last summer before Vail." 

That made Nate perk his head up a little bit. “Yeah? Who else knows?”

“No one at Vail,” Andy replied. Sometimes when he emphasized things he made his eyes go extra wide, and they did that now, like he was surprised at himself all over again. “I think that’s what spooked Sid then. I think like, two guys on his team know. Some of the staff, and his family. My family still think they’re waiting to meet my fiancé I told them about two years ago.”

“Jesus,” Nate said. “Well then uh, extra big fucking thank you then. For telling me. You sure Sid is okay with this?” 

Andy laughed and nodded a few times. His palms slid down his thighs, and Nate was distracted for a second by the flex of his forearms. “Yeah, yeah. He’s like—you know how he gets. You two are so much alike, it’s crazy. And he’s just coached himself so much, it’s either he won’t say what he needs to say, or he’ll give too much away all at once, like, way too much. And I think he’s afraid, because he doesn’t know, you know.”

“That I’m a cocksucker?” Nate suggested, trying to finish his sentence. 

“Well, I mean— Wait, did you? You and Jo?” 

“Me and Jo, made it happen,” Nate confirmed. He didn’t realize he’d never followed up his tearful confession, his obsessive questioning of whether he’d be good enough if he felt gay about dudes sometimes—the way he had felt for a teammate in the moment that had turned into something harder and abstract last season. “For a little bit, at least. Not anymore. But uh, yeah.”

“Well,” Andy replied. “Welcome to the club, I guess.”

“Good to be here,” Nate said, even if he didn’t quite feel it. He held up an invisible glass to toast Andy with, and Andy did the same. 

 


 

Sid came back with thirteen bags of groceries and wouldn’t look anyone in the eye.

Nate stole a beer from a six-pack while he watched Sid shovel different cuts of steak, chicken, and pork into the freezer drawer. “Need help, bud?”

“Nah, I’m good, I’m,” Sid said, and he was sweating. He had pit stains and he was wiping wet streaks from his neck with his wrist, scrubbing too hard, pink. “Andy talk to you?”

“Yep,” Nate replied. He cracked his beer open on the counter and took a pull. “You should talk to him too. That guy is full of secrets.” 

He went out to join Andy back on the patio, and they watched surfers coming in and out with the tide while Sid stress unpacked in the condo.

“He likes this part,” Andy said in a conspiratorial voice. “Like—he’s stressed, but also he feels bad if he doesn’t do everything. Eventually he’ll crack open some wine and offer to grill some steaks and we’ll talk. It’ll be fine.”

Andy knew Sid like the back of his hand, it turned out. It was probably appropriate that they were married then, Nate thought, and felt dumb again. He both couldn’t believe it, and also knew them well enough that he absolutely could if he really considered it for even a second.  

They spent the time waiting for Sid with their calves in the hot tub while the jets gurgled to life, the waves in the distance rolling up higher and higher, the sounds of some family two houses down arguing about the Kardashians. Andy was funny in a quiet way when he wasn’t trying too hard. He didn’t really fall in with pop culture, but he knew it, so his deadpan questions about it and social commentary tripped Nate up. He was the kind of guy who could push Nate so hard up a hill until it made him puke, and also get a laugh out of Nate just as easy. 

Nate didn’t want to press him too hard about personal shit. He worried people saw him as a snoop with some adolescent obsession whenever he was around Sid, even though he had put in the work to earn both their friendships, moreso with Andy. And it wasn’t like finding out Andy was married to Sid, another man, was some great revelation about either of them. Well, it was, but it wasn’t like it made them any more similar as people, like sucking dick was something to bond over. Nate was so determined to separate that part of himself. Andy and Sid were able to do the same, clearly. 

They could still talk the same as they always did, having known and worked together for years. It didn’t change anything fundamental about them, so Nate didn’t want to act like it did.

Sid finally slid the door to the patio open with a plate of raw steaks and foil-wrapped potatoes in his hands. “You boys hungry?”

“Jesus Christ, took you forever,” Nate said, and Andy said, “Starving.”

Sid smiled and finally stopped looking like a hunted animal, stepping out to join them. “Good. Hey—you didn’t start the grill?” 

He looked at Andy, and Andy shrugged back. “You didn’t tell me you were making steaks.” 

“Yeah, okay,” Sid says, rolling his eyes. “Hey, I opened some wine like ten minutes ago and left it inside, could you grab me a glass? Nate, you want?” 

Nate glanced at his own beer bottle that now just had warm backwash swirling around the bottom. “Yeah, sure, sounds good. Andy, grab me one too.”

“For fuck’s sake,” Andy said, like he didn’t love being bossed around by the both of them the second they got the chance. 

Sid watched the door slide closed behind him as he went back inside and then turned to Nate. “We good?”  

“We’re golden, man. Thanks for letting me in,” Nate replied. Andy’s parents didn’t know their son was married, but Nate did. It was 2014 and his best friend was his childhood hero, and his childhood hero was married to another guy, and they were all about to eat steak and drink wine together while watching the sun drift toward the ocean horizon. Nate couldn’t begin to parse what that meant. “I mean it. I know it’s a lot.”

“It’s not easy, that’s for sure,” Sid said. He had already turned on the grill and was brushing the grates. 

“You wanna talk about it?” Through the sliding glass door Nate could see Andy struggling admirably with three glasses of wine and the bottle. He waved and didn’t move to help. 

“Maybe after wine. Or a few more days, or you know. Never, if you don’t want to.” 

“I feel that,” Nate said, and Andy finally got the door open. “We don’t have to talk about it.”

 


 

Nate went to bed that night when the sun was still up. He grabbed a bottle of water and brushed his teeth and stole a foam roller from the living room to do some private exercises in his room. The walls weren’t thin, but they weren’t thick either, and in such a small space he could hear the illegible murmurings of Andy and Sid crawling into bed together.

He had been trying to look and see if there were any missed cues, hidden moments of intimacy that they left in plain sight. The truth was that there was nothing different except maybe the context Nate saw them in. Like, Sid spanked Andy when he walked past Andy doing dishes, but Sid spanked everyone. He did it in a friendly “good game” kind of way. There wasn’t anything new now that the veil had been peeled back. They were just Sid and Andy, as always.

But caught in the shadows between the soft, violet light coming in through his blinds, listening to the voices quiet through the wall, he couldn’t help but think about the two of them in the privacy of their own room. He expected it to be like overhearing your parents. It was worse. 

It was listening to two off-limits older guys say goodnight to each other in the same bed because they were married. Was Nate gonna hear them fuck? Nate wanted to hate the idea of it, but he knew he wouldn’t hate the reality. He was eighteen and he was horny all the time and he was a millionaire living his fucking dreams and nothing these days felt truly off-limits. Just like the first time he’d taken Jo in his hand and brought him off, he felt too brave and afraid of himself all at once. 

The next morning was awful. He hadn’t slept enough and Andy had them up before five to run six miles in the sand. Nate was a professional who could handle it, and it was better than pavement for his recovery, but he also hated sand and how unforgiving it was. He could push himself harder out of a desire to show that he could, but that was what the sand wanted him to do, eating away at any attempts to propel himself and gain speed.  

The tide was out and the air smelled like rotting fish. His blood was pumping thick and loud in his ears, and somehow over that he could still hear in his head the sound of Sid and Andy whispering through the wall from the night before. Sid was at his heels and if he caught up that would mean having to look at him in the early morning light. Nate had the mental stamina to be bag-skated for eight hours without mercy. He didn’t have the mental stamina for knowing Sid and Andy how he did now, because there wasn’t an end-goal to that kind of lizard brain fantasy like there was to the NHL. 

He threw up twice toward the end. Sid said, “Might have to get an IV in this one,” pointing over his shoulder as they came back into view of the condo. Andy got him a Gatorade while he bent over his knees and let thick spit drool out of his mouth into the dirt. He felt like a fucking wimp. 

“You want first shower?” Andy offered, and Nate shook his head. He deserved to sit in his own stink for a little bit longer.

“You go ahead,” he said, waving Andy off. He just wanted to lean against the condo’s fence and hate himself for a little bit. His foot hurt. His stomach twisted. His dick was confused.

Andy took the hint and went upstairs to shower. Sid didn’t.

“Hey,” he said. Nate wanted to be annoyed. Sid had beat him by a full forty-five seconds back to the property and smiled all smug waiting for Nate to catch up, while Nate had to suffer from being slow and knowing too much for his own good. 

“Hey,” he replied, before he coughed and spat a huge loogie at his feet. 

“Andy and I talked when we went to bed last night.”

Nate wanted to say something smart like, oh, is that all you did?, but he was too in himself to be smart about anything. He had listened to them talk. He had tried to make out their voices and the occasional word and had slept fitfully when he couldn’t, hoodie cinched tight over his eyes so he couldn’t see the twilight trickling in. 

“Yeah?” he managed.

“I didn’t know about you. You know, being the same.”

“I’m not married,” Nate replied, and okay, he could still be a little smart. Sid leaned back against the fence with him just so he could elbow him in the side. 

“Shut up, you know what I mean. Andy told me and said you were cool with me knowing. I just feel like shit, because like, had I known—I would have told you so much sooner.”

“It doesn’t change anything,” Nate said, because he didn’t want it to. “About us, right? About me. We’re still the same people, eh?” 

“Yeah.” Sid was staring at the ocean. The sun was fully up now. The sky was blue. “Of course we’re the same people. I just wanted you to know I’m here for you too. And I won’t talk.” 

Nate rolled his shoulders up and arched his back away from the wall. “Thanks, man.”

“Last night I didn’t want to talk about it, and maybe now you don’t either. I don’t know how you feel about it. But I have uh, Jesus, at least I have a therapist if you need one. Andy said you’d seemed upset when you told him the first time, but last night was fine. And I am happy to talk about it, you know, with you.” Sid was fumbling with his own Gatorade cap, and he spun it off to drink a quarter of the bottle after he finished talking. Nate wanted to laugh.

“Yeah, therapist might be good. I don’t know, I’m still working through it.” 

“Cool. I’ve just been thinking like, all this morning on the run that when I was just starting out in the league it might’ve helped me to know like. You can have this and be happy.” Sid wiped at his mouth with his sweaty forearm and turned to Nate, gesturing to himself, arm hair streaked wet down his wrist. “You know?”

Sid couldn’t even say gay. Neither could Nate, but he wasn’t married. Still, he got it. “I get it. Thanks.”  

“Cool,” Sid said again, and he smiled when Nate looked at him. Tucked away from the rising sun in the last seconds of the early morning, his skin was sweat-shiny and red-orange, eyes wide open like two fat almond slices. Nate’s heart swooped being this close to him, being looked at like this by someone he had admired and come to really know. 

He didn’t know what to say in return. Maybe it was okay to say nothing. 

And then the sliding door opened above them and Andy called, “You still out here?” over the railing, before suddenly he was pouring another Gatorade out on top of both of their heads. They both cursed and jumped away from the fence, Nate flipping him off with both hands. 

“Fuck you, Andy!” he yelled, and Sid laughed, bouncing on one foot while he took off one of his shoes to throw at Andy. Andy ducked out of the way and blew them both a kiss.

 


 

The longer he spent around them, the more he realized things were different even though nothing on the surface changed. Sid and Andy weren’t buddies the same way he’d always known them, the same way Nate was buddies with both Sid and Andy; the same way he’d been buddies with Jo before they started fooling around, and the same way he was buddies with Jo after they’d stopped, because he didn’t think you could be buddies with someone you were in love with. Those were two different things, and you had to draw the line somewhere. At least that’s what he had thought.

What Sid and Andy were was an impossible thing. They were best friends and they were in love and they were married. Presumably they were going to spend the rest of their lives together. Sometimes Nate would catch Andy lean in and kiss Sid at the corner of his eye, and Sid would curl in on himself like an anemone, tickled. It made Nate hurt down to his bones. It made Nate hungry.

It was like—they all went to the gym together, the rink together, parks together, museums together, restaurants together. Not a hair was out of place were someone to take photos of them, because Andy and Sid were the same in public as they’d always been, and they treated Nate the same, which was why Nate liked being with them. He liked being one of the guys in their group. He had sought out that affection, and had never felt like a third wheel when he had assumed they’d all been just friends.

It was only now on the drive home that Sid and Andy would hold hands when Sid would drive. Sid would kiss his hand at every red light, and kiss it again when the light turned green. It wasn’t something they announced, just something they did; casual tenderness that Nate was unsure whether he wanted with someone, or wanted specifically with them. Was anything as easy as Sid or Andy ever made it seem? Nate thought he was going crazy. Just because they could have this, did that mean Nate could have it too? Did he want something for himself, or did he want what they had, with them? And why even torture himself thinking about it when it wasn’t even an option? He’d never considered any obstacle he’d come across in his life as simply insurmountable, but this seemed finally a step too high for him. 

The worst part was that Sid and Andy had morning sex so early it was barely even morning, right when first light would creep in. They knew Nate wasn’t a morning person, so maybe they assumed he would sleep through it, but he never could. It was like every other part of their morning routine: Sid and Andy would try to quietly fuck around at four and finish by five, when Andy would knock on Nate’s door to get up and prepare for cardio. 

Nate had to jerk off to it. It was his only defense. Yeah, he could wake up and walk around with piss wood each morning and grunt leaned over a toilet bowl after suffering through the half hour of muted fucking they subjected him to through the wall, but why would he? There were soft, wet noises coming in through a half foot of plaster that sounded nastier and more desperate than anything he’d ever heard in real life. He couldn’t make out anything specific, but he had a great imagination. 

Like, who fucked who? Was there penetration? Sometimes he could make out a hey, hey, hey, and some rustling like they were positioning for something, and in Nate’s mind it was always like, Andy’s steady hands on Sid’s hips while Sid was on top of him, curling his fingers over the headboard to mute the bang, bang, bang while sinking down on his dick, and— 

Nate had to jerk off into something, because he didn’t want to ruin their futon mattress or comforter, even if they were cheap. He felt all of thirteen again, nutting into a single pair of boxers over and over again that he designated just for jizz so he didn’t seem suspicious. He got an unscented lube from a drug store when he went out on a run for KT tape and Icy Hot, so he could jerk off comfortably without the office he was staying in smelling like stripper ass. His mom had called him out at like, age twelve for hand lotion and tissues near his computer. He was a professional at this point. He didn’t want them to know. He felt intrusive enough already.

 


 

The next day was supposed to be a rest day, which meant that Andy got them all up at seven to go on a hike instead of five. It also meant that they were out doing cardio later, trying to get in as much time outdoors while also evading the heat of the day during summer. They wound up on a long run with a cool-down at Palisades Park.  

“Let’s stretch and just call an Uber home,” Sid said, spinning on his heel to seek out Andy’s approval. 

Nate snorted. “Feeling tired in your old man bones?”

Sid’s gaze darted over to him. His eyes were like honey with the sun going down, bright and mischievous. His cheeks were round, shiny, pink when he smiled. He looked like a whole fucking dessert. “I would race you back if you wanted, but I don’t want to embarrass you. Looked like you were struggling those last few miles.”

“As your trainer, I am not allowing either of you to be complete dumbasses trying to race home,” Andy called from a little further behind Nate. “Don’t even think about it! We are absolutely getting an Uber.” 

“I could take you,” Nate mouthed at Sid.

Sid tilted his chin up like accepting a challenge, mouthing back, “You’re on.” 

They both were trying to stay stoic, but Sid couldn’t help the laugh that sputtered out of him when Andy called, “You two! Do! Not!” 

“Your husband’s a buzzkill, man,” Nate said.

“Tell me about it,” Sid replied. “He never lets us do anything fun.”

Truth was as soon as Nate continued to slow his jog into a walk, hurt started to reverberate through his recovering foot like he had stepped on a hot brand. He was still probably pushing himself too hard coming out of the break, and he’d never let anyone know it. But Andy caught up to him and gave him a look that clearly said watch yourself

Truth was Nate needed to be pushed this hard to get anything done. Working out with Andy and Sid had him exceeding a constant pain threshold where he couldn’t think in a single language. Thoughts were all about compartmentalizing his hurt, muscle by muscle, ligament by ligament, bone by bone. He welcomed the quiet of it. 

They finally stopped to stretch at a clearing looking over the ocean. Nate tried to keep his mind clear by leaning into his pain until it made him go blind. When he could see again, he looked up to catch Sid and Andy just standing there, facing the waves. Andy was in a one-leg standing stretch, holding his heel against his ass with one hand, his other hand gently touching Sid’s waist. Sid just stood there taking it in. He seemed to never get tired of staring out at the water wherever they were.

Nate’s chest flooded with something unnameable, heavy and primal. He turned his head away, moving into another stretch. Andy and Sid kept standing there, just enjoying touching each other like they weren’t afraid of anything at all.  

The summer sun inevitably faded, and it was suddenly hours later than it felt. Nate’s sweat had long run cold on his skin, and the winds that rolled up from the water made him shiver. “You guys done? I’m calling an Uber.” 

When the car finally arrived, he had trouble walking the thirty feet to the curb and Andy finally called him out. “Your foot bothering you?” 

Nate tried to shrug it off. “Might have tweaked something. Nothing major.” 

Andy clearly didn’t believe him. He made Sid sit in the passenger seat so as soon as they were back at the condo, Andy could corral Nate exactly where he wanted him. Or, as he said with his hands on Nate’s shoulders to firmly direct him to the living room, “Sid gets first shower. Sit down.”

“Okay?” Nate said, but did as he was told. He heard the shower turn on as Andy got him in position, sitting with legs stretched out in a hip-wide V on the floor.  

“I’m gonna press against your foot and I don’t want you to show me any resistance,” Andy said, cradling his bad foot in both hands. “You don’t have to do anything. Just tell me when it hurts.”

Nate nodded, and started breathing in through his nose. It was a better way of managing his own pain in the moment, and when he was prepared he could breathe his way through the kind of hurt that would have made his younger self scream or cry. The last thing he wanted to do was slow everyone else down even more with his months-old injury acting up. It was just an old fracture.

“How’s that feel?” Andy asked, sitting across from him and pressing his palm up through the ball of Nate’s foot. He twisted Nate’s ankle in different directions and pressed again and again. “That good?”

“Yeah,” Nate said each time he adjusted and pressed. It wasn’t actually bad at all. 

Then, in a moment of bright white clarity, Andy twisted his foot in a direction and pushed through in a way that hurt so bad Nate felt it behind his eyes all over again. He exhaled wet and smooth, trying not to give anything away even as his stomach swooped.

“Still okay?” Andy asked. 

Nate nodded. “Yeah.” 

“Okay,” Andy said, and moved away from the pain. It was everything in Nate’s power not to get shaky with relief, his body wanting to relax after such precise, sharp hurt. He breathed in through his nose again, out through his mouth, confident that Andy hadn’t noticed.

And then without warning, Andy returned to the exact angle and pressure that had hurt him, this time swift and mean. Nate wasn’t prepared and screamed, palms digging into the living room laminate to push himself away from Andy on instinct. 

“Fuck!” he managed, unable to scoot away while Andy kept a tight hold on him. His blood throbbed at his heel and the wind was knocked out of his chest, furious. He didn’t know what to say. “What the fuck, Andy.” 

“I know, right?” Andy replied. “That’s what happens when you try to fight your injury instead of taking care of it. Getting regular steroid shots through the post-season doesn’t hurt, but I’ll tell you what: you keep fucking with this and your career is going to be a lot shorter because you never let yourself heal in the first place.” 

“Fuck you,” Nate said, before hanging his head because he knew Andy was right. “I mean, not that. You’re right. I just feel like I should be better by now. It was feeling better. It hasn’t been a problem for months.”

“You need to redefine ‘problem.’” Andy looked up at him, directly at him, and Nate felt drawn in by his gaze like he could swallow Andy down. Andy dug the tips of his fingers into each side of his leg above the ankle and dragged them down in a smooth line, thumbs gentle up his arch. “This has definitely been a problem. If you want to stay in this league, you’re going to take a broken foot seriously from now on, okay?”  

“Okay,” Nate said. He wanted to think Andy was overreacting; Sid’s concussions had probably contributed to some culture of mortality between the two of them, and Nate would have said that before he knew their relationship was anything more than professional. But this was his foot, not his brain. He was eighteen. He would heal.

“We’re gonna run through some stretches now,” Andy continued. Nate just did what he said, pressed and pulled and lengthened accordingly. 

“Good?” he asked eventually. He heard the shower turn off down the hall. 

“I get that you think I’m being overcautious, that I’m blowing something out of proportion,” Andy replied. He crossed his own legs and then drew Nate foot-first into his lap, so he could massage the muscle from his arch up through his ankle. “You have to know that if you don’t take care of this shit now, it’s gonna heal wrong and you’ll be retired at thirty. I know you want to believe you’re better than that, and that you’ve put in the work, that your body won’t fail you. But it will. I need you to know that.”  

Nate’s breath hitched. Andy never bullshitted him, which was why he liked Andy from day one: Andy wanted him at his best. “Sure.”

Andy started to rub up his leg thumbs first, kneading into the muscle in more of a massage. This was always the more rewarding part of physical therapy, and it meant that Nate had passed whatever test Andy was putting forward about overworking himself. 

“You and Sid are so fucking alike sometimes, you know that?” Andy leaned forward to dig his fingers in the meat on either side of Nate’s tibia. Nate had heard it a lot since he was just a kid: same schools, same development, same leagues. But from Andy, it was personal. “You’re both such stubborn shits, I swear to God.”

The floorboards from down the hallway creaked as the bathroom door opened. Sid appeared, coming around the corner in a clean pair of basketball shorts and a towel over his wet shoulders. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Andy replied, curling his fist in to roll his knuckles into the inside of Nate’s ankle. “It drives me crazy.”

Sid seemed thrilled by Andy’s gripe, staring fondly down at the both of them, chest blooming pink up from his navel. Then he looked to Nate and grew even pinker, like a tomato going ripe on the vine in a second. He was smiling, eyes crinkled, like they were in on the same secret. It was the kind of look that made Nate burn too, and he relaxed even more into Andy’s grip. 

“What if I ordered pizza?” Sid asked, in the same tone that some people would suggest robbing a bank, or burying a body.

“Extra mushrooms,” Andy replied, looking up to him with big doe eyes from underneath the brim of his hat. Sid leaned down to kiss him, smiling. Andy didn’t let go of Nate, but his grip went lax for a second, and in that nanosecond Nate found himself flexing into the retreating contact like some touch-hungry nerd. 

“You want anything?” Sid turned to him. His curls were wet and lying awkward over his forehead. It was hard not to reach out and touch them.  

Nate shook his head. “Nah, I’m good.”

It wasn’t the truth.

 


 

They ran through laundry like crazy and had a washer-dryer unit in the downstairs garage. Sid was anal about doing laundry because he hadn’t been when he was young and got fungal growths in all his sweaty base layers from ages fourteen through eighteen. Now he did it every day like everyone else had that problem. 

On the fourth day, he was like, “You wanna bring down your sheets for this load?” and Nate figured he could sneak in the crusty pair of boxers he’d been unloading into while listening to Sid and Andy fuck muted through a wall. 

“Yeah,” he replied. They had practically crunched in his fist that morning when he’d heard Andy make Sid cry gentle and overwhelmed, oh, oh, fuck, oh. He didn’t know what they were doing, but he could think of several things: Andy sucking Sid’s dick until it pulsed thick and twitching down his throat; Sid easing just the head of his dick in after too much foreplay; the both of them tangled up athletic and strong, Sid in Andy’s lap rocking forward to take him in gentle but deep, right where it mattered until he was painting Andy’s chest white.  

Nate had never gone that far with a guy. He didn’t know where he would fit—would he be the one fucking or getting fucked? He felt so greedy hearing Sid, wanting everything. 

Sid was starting the daily laundry load after a luxurious Andy O’Brien lunch of lettuce wraps with too much harissa that made Nate’s eyes water. Nate managed to stuff one and a half into his mouth before peeling off to grab an energy bar, his dirty clothes, and a nap. The jizz underpants were a last-minute consideration, but he felt a little bit better about disposing of the evidence time-to-time instead of trying to last the entire two weeks nutting into what was quickly turning into a plaid-patterned come nugget. 

“Hey, I got this,” he said, coming down the stairs with an armful. Sid was untangling the legs of his jeans and checking the pockets with such astute seriousness it made Nate’s heart swell. “Want me to finish up?”

“Sure,” Sid said, shoving his own jeans into the machine. “Oh hey, you dropped something on the stairs.”

Nate looked behind him, arms full of linens and coming around to Sid’s side to see his scooge-laden underwear clinging around a slat of the bannister.  

“Oh,” he said, and dropped everything in his arms at the same time that Sid reached up to help him out. The undeniable crinkle the boxers made when Sid grabbed them made him flinch. 

“Been busy, eh?” Sid asked, making an experimental fist, amused.

“Shut up, I’m almost nineteen,” Nate said in response, trying not to die on the spot. “That’s like, a man’s sexual peak.” 

“I’m not saying anything,” Sid replied, reaching down to scoop some of the sheets Nate had dropped into his arms. He still had a fist full of Nate’s ruined boxers. “You could do it in the shower, you know.” 

“And ruin your pipes?” Nate asked immediately, proud of the lie for coming to him so quickly in a moment of need. He made a grand gesture, arm sweeping upwards, because he couldn’t decide if he wanted to be funny or serious to deal with Sid holding several days of jizz in his hand. “I don’t trust the plumbing in this place.”

“Oh, is that it, eh?” Sid stuffed his sheets in the machine, and then bent back down to grab a few towels off the floor. He wouldn’t let the boxers go. 

Nate felt paralyzed. He flexed his fingers at his side and it felt like he was glitching. 

The door from upstairs swung open, and Andy came down the stairs with his own laundry. He grabbed the towels out of Sid’s hands without the boxers and shoved them in too before shutting the washing machine door with his knee. “You guys doing okay?”

“Yeah, just giving Nate shit,” he replied, and tried to unwrinkle the fabric from its ball at his waist, transfixed. “Found his jack-off boxers.”

“Gross,” Andy laughed, and he nudged his way past both of them to go back upstairs. The door swung open and closed again. 

Nate looked at his boxers, then up at Sid. Sid was smiling smugly like when he won a game. Nate rolled his eyes. “Okay, you done? I’ll take those, thank you." 

Sid wasn’t done. “Back upstairs? I dunno, these are—,” and he took a pause to bring them up to his face and breathe in the sweat-come funk they’d been marinating in, “these are really ripe, man.”

“What the fuck,” Nate croaked out helplessly, staring at Sid’s knuckles. 

“I’m just fucking with you,” Sid said, and he pressed the boxers wadded up into Nate’s chest. “Throw these in and start the wash, eh?” 

He went upstairs, leaving Nate alone feeling heated and exposed, whittled down to the bone.

 


 

Nate spent the time he was supposed to be napping that afternoon trying to rationalize Sid’s behavior. If he considered the version of Sid he had known for years up until this weekend, it kind of worked: Sid was one of the grossest, most TMI people he had ever met in a long history of knowing almost exclusively hockey players; he had no sense of personal space or modesty with the guys he was closest to, and had no problem holding a ten-minute conversation in the locker room naked, foot up on a bench to let his dick and balls hang freely on display. Last summer he’d had a case of athlete’s foot so bad he needed three months of antibiotics, and every time Nate showed up to work out with him, he’d always taken off his shoe and sock and said, “Hey, take a look at this.”

It would make sense if Sid flirted without regard for hygiene, the same way he did everything else in his life. But it wouldn’t make sense for Sid to flirt. Sid was married. He was comfortable enough to let Nate into the handful of people that knew that, and he maintained the status quo of being the weirdest, grossest friend that Nate was lucky enough to have. 

But he couldn’t shake the feeling that Sid knew exactly why and when he was jerking it. There was no way to confirm it without straight-up asking, something he wasn’t planning on doing ever. He would keep on acting like things were normal and that he wasn’t too confused and horny to live.

Sid was taking a nap in his own room, so Nate’s thoughts were only intercut with the sound of Andy fussing around the living room, cleaning shit, prepping for dinner, probably listening to some nutrition podcast while doing burpees or whatever noisy shit he did when he was bored. At one point Nate heard him go downstairs to move the laundry into the dryer and he felt embarrassed all over again, burying his face into the stripped-bare mattress he was on. Andy wasn’t easy to gross out, but he was probably full of pity, handling Nate’s soggy boxers thinking Nate was just some kid with a crush. 

Nate had to just like, get the fuck over it. He had plenty of swagger. He could swag his way through any awkward situation and just own it usually, so why was he letting this one thing trip him up? 

Eventually he heard the master bedroom door open up and Sid came down the hallway, past his door. 

“Nate up?” They were easier to hear in the living room.  

“Nah, still conked out. Hey, what do you want to do for dinner?” 

“Hmm, let me think.”

Nate could hear the floorboards creak, and then quiet. They were definitely making out. Nate could imagine Sid leaning in, one knee up on the arm of their couch, big hand rough and tender around Andy’s neck to bring him in. Absolutely cool and allowed, and Nate was fine with it. This was their house.

“What about that Greek kitchen that just opened up down the street?” 

“We have food here.” 

“It’s a rest day, I wanna rest.”

“You just want to eat like, three of those domed pita things the size of a truck.”

 “God, yeah I do.”

“We’ll see what Nate wants. He has more respect for, you know, the system though. So he might want to eat something healthier than his weight in carbs. Not show up at camp a total fat ass.”

Sid said something that Nate was ninety percent sure was you love my fat ass , and Andy more clearly said, “Yeah, I do,” and then they were definitely making out again. Nate rolled over in bed to find his phone and play Candy Crush for five minutes so he could focus on literally anything else. 

When he could hear the sound of them moving around separately again, he finally got up, stretched for a few seconds, and went out to meet them. Andy was tapping away on his laptop from the kitchen, and Sid was leaned up against him with the newspaper folded just so against his thighs as he worked on the daily crossword. 

Andy saw him first. “Hey, Sleeping Beauty. You hungry?” 

“We were thinking Greek, you in?” Sid said, not letting him get a breath in.  

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine with whatever,” he replied. He wasn’t just fine, he was cool, he was chill, he was ready for anything. 

 


 

Dinner was good. They split twelve plates between the three of them and took a long route home to walk it off. The heat of the day was starting to cool off, but it was still plenty warm and bright out, and Nate could only think about how badly he wanted to sun his bloated carcass on the beach for an hour when they got back. 

It was a perfectly normal night between the three of them, where Nate and Andy took turns making Sid laugh so hard he was practically purple, trying to stifle his giggles by shoving more flat bread into his mouth. Andy and Sid weren’t super into social media the same way Nate was, but they put a lot of effort into remotely managing so many of their friendships, and took the downtime between courses to go over texts and snaps and whatever from colleagues and friends. The Penguins had just hired a new coach, and Sid was deeply involved in upcoming negotiations that he wasn’t supposed to talk about, but did between the three of them anyway. Nate continued to be in awe of his quiet power; he didn’t know shit about what was going on in his organization, no matter how much he pried. 

The walk home was nice too. Sid mentioned having a pair of rollerblades at the condo and how he wanted to take them out, which led to a solid ten minutes of razzing. Andy was wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses and Nate could still see every inch of his face resisting kissing Sid then and there, saying, “Yeah, you got a mesh crop top to go with those blades, sweetheart?” 

“Hey, I used to crush a half-pipe when I was growing up, it’s not easy,” Sid replied, elbowing Andy so hard in the stomach he stumbled two steps into Nate. “Show you guys a thing or two.”

“Yeah, okay, you show us. We’ll definitely turn up,” Nate said. It was easy to make Sid laugh, but he still felt proud of himself every time. 

When they got back to the condo, Nate mentioned wanting to lie out for a bit, and Andy and Sid decided to join him. Andy brought three fucking real-ass academic journals he’d picked up from the library, and Sid brought a war biography as a big as a tombstone.

“You nerds deserve each other,” Nate said flatly, before unfurling his towel and lying face down so he didn’t have to look at them.

If Nate were with his boys, his team, they would have probably been on the nth consecutive night of killing a 24-rack of Corona and sending the older guys to the store to grab a second handle of tequila. He appreciated the balance of Sid and Andy, the grounding force of them compared to the kids he knew, but sometimes he hated doing the work of dealing with his thoughts and feelings instead of getting fucked up about them. By the time he rolled over to get sun on his front, he was parched.

“Andy, can you grab me a beer?” he asked, trying to fold a second towel to cover his eyes. 

“You can’t grab yourself one?” he heard Andy say, which: go figure.

“You’re literally wearing a t-shirt and highlighting your science magazines, please. If you were taking this seriously I might consider it, but you can afford to grab me a cold one.” Sid laughed, and Nate could hear the crisp turn of a page from his book, the pause of something unsaid between them, and then a meaty thwap of Sid hitting Andy in the shoulder with his book. 

“You heard him,” Sid said. “Get me one too, eh?” 

“Christ,” Andy replied, but then he was getting up.  

In the distance there were kids laughing, the roar of the ocean. Sid turned another page of his book and shifted on his own towel. 

“Have you ever heard of a proximity fuse? Radar is wild,” Sid said out loud, but mostly to himself. Still, Nate’s Grinch heart seemed to grow three sizes, absolutely bursting at how fucking dorky Sid was in private. He didn’t say anything, instead fishing for his headphones so he could drown out the sound of everything. The ocean wasn’t providing the comfort he needed.

When Andy came back down, he pressed the cold butt of a beer bottle to Nate’s naked stomach, causing him to flinch up in shock. 

“Fuck off!” he said, throwing the towel off his face and reaching up to snatch the bottle from Andy, who looked entirely too smug about it.

“You’re welcome,” Andy said. He was nursing his own beer. “Hey, I’m gonna pack up out here. Thinking about maybe cooling down with a movie.”

“What’re you thinking?” Sid asked.

“You guys watch movies?” Nate was curious. He’d seen the TV in the condo, but they hadn’t actually used it, and in the time he’d known them both, even Sid had proven himself to be painfully out of touch with some things. “What? Look, when I was at Sid’s place in Pitt last October, he couldn’t even figure out how to turn on his cable box.”

“It was literally brand new,” Sid said immediately. “I knew you were gonna bring that up.”

“Nate, we aren’t a thousand, come on,” Andy replied. “That Ryan Gosling movie is on Netflix. The one where he’s a, uh, driver.”

Drive?” Nate asked.

“Yup.” Andy didn’t look amused. “Whoever wants to watch is welcome to join me. Then I’m going to bed. Another early day tomorrow, fellas.” 

Sid perched himself up on his elbows and looked over to Nate. “I’m in. You gonna head in with us?” 

Nate tamped down on any instinct to overthink the question. “Yeah, I actually haven’t seen it. Heard good things though.” 

They hung their sandy towels over the balcony before heading inside. Andy was already in a t-shirt and his swim trunks, but Sid was just in shorts getting onto the couch. Nate considered for a second changing into at least some sleep pants and a shirt, but he was still warm from the sun. He would change if he got cold, he told himself. 

There was a couch that could seat three in the living room, and that was basically it. They hadn’t spent too much time there before, so he hadn’t really thought about it. He’d honestly thought the TV was just for show. 

“Just looking at you guys is making me cold,” Andy said, making Sid scoot into the middle so he could get the other end. He had the remote in one hand, a small glass of red in the other. Sid leaned against him heavy enough to make the wine swish back and forth in the glass, and he let out a little oof , wrapping an arm around Sid’s shoulders.

“Better?” Sid asked.

“Yup,” Andy replied, and he turned on the movie. The remote slid down Sid’s chest to the couch, and Andy’s free hand curled around his shoulder.  

The movie was fine as far as Nate could tell, but his unfortunately amazing peripheral vision couldn’t help but catch the way Andy’s hand traveled up slowly through the first act until he had his fingers twisted in Sid’s hair. Andy would stroke patterns right there and scratch to the even fade down the back, making Sid’s eyes blink open and closed sometimes. It just looked really fucking nice. 

Sid got up halfway through when the movie was in a quiet stretch. “You want another beer?” 

“Please.” Nate had been absently peeling at the label on his empty bottle for ten minutes at least. Sid took it from him and went around the back of the couch to the kitchen. Nate felt Sid’s fingers trace the line of his shoulders as he passed, almost so light that Nate thought he was hallucinating. If Andy had noticed, he hadn’t reacted, eyes firmly on the movie, arm curled around the space where Sid had been. 

A fight on-screen shocked Nate’s attention back to the movie. He barely noticed when Sid got back on the couch, handing him his beer before sprawling out entirely, his head in Andy’s lap, his feet in Nate’s. 

“Oh hey, you comfy?” Nate asked, eyebrows raised when Sid toed him playfully in the solar plexus. He caught Sid’s foot in his hand and looked over to see Sid smiling at him, teeth pressed against the lip of his own beer bottle. Nate rolled his eyes, but he kept a gentle hold on Sid’s foot. If Sid was fucking with him, he would eventually pull away and maybe sit up like a person. If Sid wasn’t, then—well, then that could imply a lot of things, plenty of them friendly. 

He tickled the underside of Sid’s arch with a curious finger just to make Sid squirm and then stopped, attention returning to the movie again. Sid stayed stretched out exactly as he was, and eventually Nate moved his grip up to Sid’s ankle. His thumb rubbed against the curved bone there. Sid shuddered. No one said anything and Ryan Gosling kicked some guy’s face in on the TV screen. 

The movie continued its quiet, gritty violence through to end with all of them sitting like that, touching carefully in the dark. The credits rolled to a soft song, and Nate realized he’d been rubbing circles into Sid’s skin. 

“Good movie,” Andy said.

“This is nice,” Sid said. He rolled onto his side and pressed his face into Andy’s stomach, his feet flexing to wrap around Nate’s side. “I don’t want to get up.”

Nate picked both of Sid’s legs off his lap by the ankle and unceremoniously dropped them back down hard after getting up. It wasn’t the move he wanted to make, but it was probably the smartest. Andy shook Sid gently by the shoulder, staring up at Nate with a possessive hand still brushing Sid’s scalp. His eyes were so bright in the dark, and so was the expanse of Sid’s naked torso, his shorts pulled taut around his thighs. His other hand was at Sid’s knee, and if he just moved up slightly, even touched the hem of Sid’s shorts, Nate would lose it in a hot second. “You guys need some privacy?” 

“No, it’s just past our bedtime,” Andy replied, squeezing Sid’s thigh. “C’mon, doofus.” 

“Hey,” Sid said, but he untangled himself from Andy to get up and scratch at his stomach, pick the beer bottles off the floor. He turned to Nate. “Man. Good movie, huh?”

Nate smiled and looked at the dark space over Sid’s shoulder where he didn’t have to focus. “Yeah. It was great.” 

 


 

The routine was back to normal the next morning: 45 minutes before Nate’s alarm went off, he woke up to the sound of grunts through their shared wall, the rocking of a bedframe against another. Nate had redressed the mattress before passing out last night, and had tucked the fresh pair of underwear he’d been jizzing into under his pillow. He twisted in his sheets to grab them and got to work.

It was easy enough, just remembering Sid across from him last night, mouth around the neck of the beer bottle, fat lips a little swollen with beard burn. He thought about what it would sound like: Andy’s soft, strict tone directing Sid to get into place, saying, let me help you, let me get you, is that good, how does that feel? What about if I touch you right here?

He went off so fast he still had another thirty minutes before the alarm, before they would finish clean and quick. He ended up asleep for five, genuinely jumping half out of his skin when Andy knocked on his door. 

It was their first scheduled ice day that week, and Nate was buzzing to finally skate again. When they got to the rink, Andy made him stay in the car while Sid got out. 

“What the hell, dude?” he asked.

“New plan, bud. We need to work on that foot a little more,” Andy replied, which was bullshit. Any tenderness Nate had been feeling evaporated, and suddenly Andy was just his asshole coach again from grade ten, overprotective and skeptical, like Nate would never be able to take care of himself on the ice. 

He stayed quiet, and they turned out of the parking lot to travel an uncomfortable distance to a PT clinic three neighborhoods away. It was early and Nate was tired and everything he wanted to say felt too needy like a little kid. When they got there, Andy didn’t pop the trunk so Nate didn’t grab any of his gear, and they walked inside a building to the welcome of strangers who probably though Nate was some weak-ass stranger. Andy, oblivious or just careless, escorted him through the facility, where he knew the entire layout and everyone inside, right to the hydrotherapy tanks.

The ice bath was another wake up call for sure. No matter how much PT Nate had endured through his life, no matter how routine it had ever become, it always felt like a punishment. He would never be used to it. He hated it. The cold hurt like breaking his foot all over again, every time. 

He glowered for the eternity he spent in the tanks staring through the windowed wall where Andy was catching up with several friends, arms crossed in front of his chest, smiling and confident and completely unsympathetic to Nate’s suffering. Nate may have been lucky growing up where he did, getting to work with Andy from a young age, but he wasn’t lucky being Andy’s friend; everyone was friends with Andy. Nate wasn’t special. He was just a client, and not a very good one. 

Andy waved off his colleagues eventually and came to collect Nate, hand him a towel, and direct him to another room where he could get Nate laid out face down on a treatment table. He always told Nate out loud the things he was doing in his own brand of soothing, conversational monotone that Nate had learned to tune out years ago. Nate knew all the places to hum accordingly while he ignored everything Andy was saying to just stew in his own misery. 

Today was different. Andy guided an ultrasound wand up his foot. “You’re quiet today.”

“I can be quiet.” Nate tucked his face into the crook of his arm. 

“Okay,” Andy said, and he dropped it. 

The room was too quiet, and Andy clearly knew something was up. Nate could be quiet, but it only ever happened when he was too upset to do anything but marinate in it. He always cracked fast enough, because he did want to talk about it, he just hated being the guy that brought shit up. 

“Okay, so like,” Nate said, fumbling. “Maybe I’m not in a great mood. It’s like—I’m wondering if you’re punishing me, or maybe this is your way of saying you don’t want me here.” 

 Andy didn’t stop what he was doing, just kept even pressure up Nate’s shin and ankle. “Wait, you mean us being here right now?” 

“I mean crashing at your place, inviting myself.” 

“Nate, I don’t know how else to tell you this, but if we didn’t want you to be here, you wouldn’t be here.” He put down the ultrasound wand. “And if I was punishing you for something, I would have just left you here and made you work with Brad. That guy does not shut up.”

Nate laughed a little and turned his head to the side again. “Okay, okay. I just—You sure I’m not like, intruding?”

“I’m sure. It’s one thing if you want to leave—”

“—I don’t want to leave,” Nate said, pushing himself up on an elbow to face Andy. “You guys are like, the best part of my summer. 

Andy was cute when he smiled; thick eyebrows raised, thin upper lip disappearing to show off his crooked, bleach white hockey teeth, his cheeks rounding out with dimples. Nate had been trying not to think about him for years. 

He smacked the underside of Nate’s foot. “Well, we want you to stay, alright? So stay.”

 


 

Andy and Nate spent the rest of the morning doing PT until Nate was ravenous and begging to go get lunch, after which they would hopefully do something else. 

“Don’t think that we’re done with this,” Andy said in an ominous tone, but he pulled his phone out to text Sid that they were coming to pick him up. 

Sid was freshly showered when he climbed into the car, and as Nate pulled away from the curb, he leaned forward to kiss Andy in the passenger seat. 

“Why do you taste like Reese’s?” Andy asked, pulling away. Nate saw Sid lean back and look smug, not sorry at all in the rearview mirror.

“You guys were taking forever and I’m starving. As far as I’m concerned, you left me no other choice.”

“You make my job impossible,” Andy said, sighing and turning away from him. “You keep this up and I’m quitting. Nate would never do this to me.” 

“Yeah Croz, you’re gonna be a bad influence on the rookie,” Nate said. He caught Sid’s eye in the mirror, and Sid kicked the back of his seat, laughing.

“Oh please, between the two of us you are absolutely the bad influence."

“Watch it, I’ll pull over and make you walk.” 

Sid and Andy really were the best part of his summer, and he felt a renewed confidence that they wanted him here, that they wanted him to stay. It was starting to feel less like their relationship was something he’d accidentally stumbled upon and more like they were just inviting him deeper into the fold. They trusted him with this, and maybe it wouldn’t be too much to ask them more about it, to see if what they had was something he could have too. 

Lunch was take-home grocery store salad bar with some other groceries to restock the fridge they’d cleaned out like locusts. Sid unpacked the groceries with Andy while Nate grabbed bowls and silverware for the three of them, and it struck him suddenly how familiar he’d become with their home. It felt good, like they were all on a team together. 

Instead of an afternoon run, Andy suggested Sid and Nate pull the kayaks out of the garage for low-impact cardio while he continued doing some reading on the beach. Nate fell out of his kayak three times and pulled Sid out of his the third time he got his head above the waves and saw Sid was taking a video on his phone. 

“You are so lucky I didn’t drop my phone,” Sid said. Nate got so distracted watching him blink water out of his too-long eyelashes that he was caught off guard by how hard Sid kicked him underwater before launching his entire body at Nate’s to knock him into a wave. 

Nate got salty sea water straight up his nose and in his mouth and pulled Sid under with him, and the cords keeping them with their kayaks got tangled together while they wrestled in the tide. It was the least productive workout of Nate’s life, worse than wrestling with Tyson in an away game hotel room or playing a round of mini golf, but the most fun by far. 

They took turns showering after while Andy started on some fish tacos for dinner. Nate was in and out quick, worried that they’d be done and every last piece would be long gone by the time he was finished. Instead, he came out in a clean pair of shorts and a t-shirt to find Sid had pressed Andy against the counter, kissing him, the back of his own shirt covered in wet beer batter from the fish that had yet to make it to the stove. 

“Jesus Christ, you guys,” Nate said, nudging past them to grab the cheap beer Andy had opened for cooking and took a swig. It was warm, and he made a face, but took another drink. “A reminder that I’m the teenager here, not you two. Aren’t you supposed to stop doing this shit after you get married?” 

Never mind the whole ritual morning sex thing, which was the last thing he wanted to talk about, especially if they knew that he knew. 

Andy finished wiping his hands on Sid’s shirt while Sid scoffed and rubbed at his own mouth. Andy wouldn’t stop looking at Sid when he said, “It’s called ‘the Honeymoon Phase.’”

Nate pursed his lips in mock judgement and took another sip of the warm beer. “Didn’t you say you guys got married in November?”

“Well, yeah, but we’ve maybe seen each other like, five times since then,” Sid said. He ran a finger through the batter Andy had smeared on the front of his shirt and put it in his mouth with the self-control of a toddler. 

“And before you say anything, no you aren’t intruding,” Andy continued, turning to Nate finally. “We’re going to be in this phase until he retires, so probably another fifteen years.” 

Sid went red, and he swatted Andy on the ass. “You’re killing me tonight.” 

“Love you too,” Andy replied. “Now let me finish dinner.”

The whole exchange brought to the forefront of Nate’s mind something he’d been wondering ever since they got here and he’d learned the truth: “Wait, so when did you guys first get together?”

Andy clicked a stovetop knob to high and grabbed a pot and some oil out of the overhead cabinet. “Uh, well I would say it was fall 2011, the middle of Sid’s concussion and on our second or third trip to Georgia, and—”

“C’mon man, that’s the story we tell my parents,” Sid said, interrupting him. 

“The story you told your parents,” Nate repeated.

Sid shrugged. “Yeah, well, I didn’t want them to think Andy was a creep when I was the one who—”

“No, shut up, I’ll tell it, let me tell it,” Andy said, holding a hand up, “Fine, it was in 2009, right after Sid had won the Cup. It wasn’t any—Sid was 21, it wasn’t like—God, this sounds bad no matter what.”

“It wasn’t bad,” Sid said, softer.

“You guys have been together since 2009?” Nate thought back to that Cup win, seeing Sid wave at where Nate had been in the crowd during the Cole Harbour Cup parade; he’d been only 13 years old and so fucking excited about hockey and the Pens and Sidney Fucking Crosby. 

Sid said, “We weren’t together then, just started hooking up or whatever. I wanted to—”

“No, I’m telling it, here’s what happened—” Andy cut him off. The oil on the stove was starting to crackle, and he brought his plate of fish over to drop them in. “We were driving up from Pitt back home a few weeks after the win, and we were on the stretch of the One where we kept losing radio signals, so we were joking like you do sometimes, and making up fake radio shit, and I was doing this dumb—”

“—it was so fucking funny—”

“—sportscaster voice, and keep in mind, Sid was driving—and I asked him in this stupid voice, making fun of all these guys he’d been doing press with for the past month, ‘So, Sid the Kid, you’re the youngest captain to ever hoist the Stanley Cup, what are you going to do next?’ And I shit you not, he doesn’t even slow down, and maybe it was just because there was no one else on the road ahead of us, but still—he looked over at me, and I was looking at him, and he uh, grabbed my face and kissed me while driving, just hard and fast.”

Sid was watching Andy tell the story, arms crossed over his chest, his whole face long gone red, delighted. “Andy was like, ‘what the hell was that?’ And I was like, ‘that’s what I wanted to do next.’”

“Are you fucking serious?” Nate whistled. “Sid, those are some moves.” 

Sid scrunched his nose up a little at the thought. “Nah, they’re not. I don’t have moves. I just know what I want and go for it. Anyway, we stopped at a cheap motel in New Brunswick and fooled around for a night, and then Andy moved to Calgary about it, because he was freaked out.”

“That’s not—”

“Yeah, it is,” Sid said.

Andy grabbed a wooden spoon from drawer at his hip to flip the fish, but he shook it twice in Sid’s direction first. “We’re not arguing about this again.”

Sid rolled his eyes and returned his attention to Nate. “We still saw each other every summer and kept hooking up, but it wasn’t until that year-and-a-half period when I was out with concussion symptoms when we officially got together. And that’s the part we tell my parents. Andy took care of me the entire time. I told him I wanted a real relationship, and he told me if I felt the same a year after I was back in the game, or a year after I was out because I couldn’t play—he said he’d marry me.”

“Anyway, now we’re married,” Andy finished. “Sid, can you grab me some paper towels?” 

Nate was closer and reached for them first. Sid’s fingers touched his as he passed over the roll. Andy took it next and tore off a dozen-something sheets to put down the fried fish. He started to move the filets out of the oil one by one while Sid moved to his other side to ready the second batch to throw in.

It sounded so easy when they talked about it, and not for the first time Nate wondered what it was like to have Sid’s brain or his vision; what was it like to have no path cut before you but still see something on the other side you knew was good enough to blaze your own trail to reach it? Nate would have always been good at hockey, but would he have known how to make it to number one, to have the confidence he could do it if Sid hadn’t been there first? 

People liked Nate and he was never lonely, but would he ever have considered he could fall in love for real the way he yearned for, the way he had told himself for years was impossible, just because it was with another man? He looked at Sid and Andy in front of him, settling into comfortable silence cooking dinner together and knew maybe he would never have exactly that—but his dreams felt a little more tangible, now, the world a little bit smaller and easier to navigate all over again. 

“Okay, okay, that’s enough,” Andy said, nudging Sid out of the way when he tried to overcrowd the pan. Sid backed off, but curled an arm around him to grab one of the fried fish to Andy’s left and blew on it before popping the entire thing in his mouth, only for Andy to hit him in the wrist with the spoon. “Watch it!” 

“You watch it!” Sid laughed, wincing away and licking the grease off his fingers. Nate couldn’t look away. “Fuck, that’s good.”

“God, you guys are married,” Nate said, feeling pretty helpless about it.

“Yeah,” Sid said, reaching for another piece of fish only to have Andy go for his wrists. “What about you? Andy said there was a guy.”

Andy must have meant Jo. It wasn’t like there had been anyone else, not realistically. 

“Pfft, that was like. Teammate, road roommate, it’s not gay if it’s dark and you’re the one getting your dick sucked, you know? That kind of relationship.” It had meant so much at the time, and it had felt like the world to lose when he lost it, but now it seemed like nothing next to Sid and Andy. “You can’t compare that, and you know”—he gestured weakly in front of him—”this.”

“I get it,” Sid said. He didn’t look at Nate when he said it, but he meant it, something tugging at the corner of his mouth, concerned. “I’ve been there.” 

“Yeah?” Nate asked.

Andy was laying down another layer of paper towels and snorted. “Oh, yeah. Anyone with any kind of inclination in the league, and then some.”

“Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck,” Sid said.

“Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck,” Andy repeated, and God, wasn’t it true. 

“Anyone’s ass I gotta kick?” Sid asked, and he looked serious.

“Nah, no,” Nate said, but then he thought about it. “Well, maybe next season when you play Tampa, you could throw your body around a little, don’t worry about hitting too hard."

“Got it,” Sid said, and his smile was worth more than any stupid thing Jo had said to him in the dark, fingers in his hair, what felt like forever ago.

 


 

Jerk-off fantasies lived in a room with a door Nate knew how to open when he needed them and keep closed for the rest of the day while he lived his life. He felt safest living in that room during the early mornings when he was half asleep, listening to Sid and Andy through the wall with his dick in his hand wondering what it would be like to have their hands on him.

He wanted to know what it would be like, how it would work if it were all three of them. It wasn’t like he hadn’t watched porn, but he also knew gay sex wasn’t really dudes spitting in each other’s assholes while holding them open all the time, you couldn’t just fuck in clean. And while any guy who said he’d never played with his own ass in the shower was lying, he’d never tried anything more than the tip of his finger, because it freaked him out. 

He would let Sid or Andy fuck him if it came down to that, but he hoped it wouldn’t, because even in his fantasies he wanted to know what he was doing. He’d seen Sid’s dick, already fucking huge hanging flaccid in the locker room, and the thought of it breaching him, just the tip, made him so nervous that he started fixating on the thought of it just to hold his orgasms off a little bit longer.

There were too many unknowns. What did they like? He imagined Sid’s fat lips with a cock in his mouth, Andy’s dark eyes over him, brow sweat dripping down on him. All he wanted was to be good for them, even if he knew it wasn’t real. It wouldn’t be real with them. But he wanted something real someday, like whatever they had with each other. 

The realest, most vivid thing he could imagine was his favorite thing to do with Jo when Jo would let him; he wanted to suck them both off so deep they would lose control, take turns fucking his face until his mouth was nothing but cock and thick, sticky spit. He wanted the salt of their loads to hit the back of his throat and not be able to make any noise at all while he choked it all down. 

He rolled over and shoved his face into the pillow, rocking his hips against the bed and into his fist with the thought of it. They’d make his eyes burn with tears and pull at his hair and he could feel it, the memory of it, and they’d be so impressed by how good he was, and they’d kiss their own come out of his mouth when they were done.

He couldn’t stop the groan that shook his whole body as he came, spilling wet between his fingers and into the boxers he’d wrapped around his knuckles to keep from making a mess. The orgasm ripped through him like he was learning how to get off for the first time, vulnerable, shaking and loud.

He wanted the both of them so bad in that single second, he didn’t care if they knew. In that split second, he wanted them to hear.

He shuddered to a stop with the comedown. He gulped a few breaths in and his muscles shook like he’d just run suicides, and his blood pounded hard in his ears as the wave of shame crested and broke over him. 

Nate rolled on his side to hear over his heartbeat, to see if Sid and Andy had stopped, if they knew.

The steady sound of the bedframe rocking against the wall next door was present as ever. Sid was saying something, maybe just oh, oh, oh. Nate wasn’t sure if he wanted to be disappointed or ashamed. 

He didn’t know what he wanted at all, and he hated it. He dug his face into his pillow a little deeper and tossed the ruined boxers over the edge, stomach full of butterflies waiting to see if he could tell whether Andy or Sid would come first. 

At exactly five, Andy knocked on the door, same as always. Nate got out of bed and pushed past him, cheeks still burning.

 


 

After the two serious-feeling talks with Andy, Nate now expected nothing but grueling PT mornings between the two of them while Sid went off to enjoy the ice on his lonesome. It wasn’t how Nate wanted to spend his summer training, but training was never about what he wanted, and was always about what he needed. Same for Sid, same for Andy even, who had to keep up with the literature and the trends and the culture of professional athleticism. (Nate was mostly sure Andy enjoyed that part though.)

So it was weird that they didn’t drop Sid off at the rink that morning, same as the first. Nate didn’t realize they were at the PT clinic until they were in the parking lot, and then he did a double take because Sid was still in the car.

“Wait,” Nate said, gripping Sid’s headrest. “Why are you here?”

“Kind of hard for us to work out together if we’re not together, eh?” Sid replied, unbuckling his seatbelt. “I was able to get us later ice time at another rink. Andy said you were pissed about not making it yesterday and I get that.”

Nate turned to look at Andy, who was an absolute traitor. Andy just shrugged and got out of the car.

That morning while Andy shot the shit with his colleagues, Sid did some stretches next to the cold tank and talked Nate’s ear off. His knuckles gripped the lip of the tub as he went into a backwards lunge. “This thing’s the fucking worst, right?”

“Just put me out of my misery,” Nate groaned.

Sid switched legs and grinned a little too smug. “Yeah, okay. Later.”

The agony of the tub went by quick, and even after an exhausting series of plyometric work with Andy in the weight room after another ultrasound, Nate felt electric at the thought he would finally see the ice for the first time in almost a month. He practically choked himself on his seatbelt getting out of the car when they finally made it to the rink. 

He wasn’t just excited about getting back on the ice. He’d lived his entire life for every second he spent on the same ice with Sid. He wouldn’t trade it or risk it for anything, he was sure of it. 

They ran several one-on-one drills, and Nate won eight out of twenty. It was the best feeling in the world. He was getting better. Someday he would win them all, and it wouldn’t be because Sid was too old or let him. Nate would beat him because he would be good enough. Nate would beat him because he would be the best. It was what kept his blood pumping every shift. 

On the ice Sid made the same kind of noises he made through the wall early in the morning getting off with Andy. Nate tried not to think about it. He tucked that knowledge away where he could pull it out when he was alone and drown in it.

They didn’t stop until Nate’s body was so heavy he thought he would have to be wiped off the ice with a sponge. Everything ached and his lungs felt like paper lanterns set on fire. He was lucky he didn’t eat shit just stepping into the showers, and he felt so, so good about it. 

He fell asleep in the warm back seat of the car and woke up to them pulling into a parking garage.

“You up for a game?” Sid was laughing when he asked it, looking down on him. Nate wiped at the drool on his cheek. Andy was holding up his iPhone between their seats, the screen lit up with ticket barcodes for the Dodgers.

It wasn’t like he had a choice, but he always liked to take in live games when he had the chance, and it wasn’t like he thought he wouldn’t be up for some baseball. Seeing a game in the city was something they’d talked about in the past without any date in mind. All three of them liked it. Nate had been to a game or two in Toronto before. 

“You’re buying me a hot dog,” he said to both of them, and got out of the car.

He thought he was fine, but five innings of sitting in the cheap plastic seats Sid and Andy had sprung for did their work. They were up toward the top of the stadium, still early enough in the season that the arena felt near-empty, and the wind blowing around them felt cool. Sid went and got him a beer and handed it to him with a knowing look, but no matter what direction he stretched his legs, no matter how much space he took up, Nate felt disjointed and achy.

“I’m gonna need to borrow your hot tub when we get home, boys.” He knocked his knee against Andy’s. 

“Yeah, sounds good,” Andy replied. He was looking at the baseball diamond. The Dodgers were up one to nothing.

It stayed like that the rest of the game. Sid ate two foil-wrapped hot dogs and all three of them yelled things down below, and Nate had at least two more beers snuck to him. It was hard to remember past the ache in his legs, the way the pain in his shin crackled up his leg that made him want to scream, even months after a clean break. 

By the time they were home, before the ninth inning even started, he was out of the car and limping upstairs. It was still light outside, but barely. Sid pushed past him gently to get the tub going. 

“You okay?” Andy asked. He’d waited behind Nate just in case he needed help. The pain was so bad, but it wasn’t like Nate wasn’t used to it. They were treating this like it was abnormal, like he was weak. He was fine.

“I’m fine,” he said, but he let Andy put his hand at the small of his back and guide him inside anyway.

When he got upstairs he saw Sid outside through the sliding glass door window, pulling his shirt off, shoulders flexing the fabric to capacity when he got tangled in it overhead. He’d left the Brita pitcher out on the kitchen counter, and Nate poured himself a glass, even though he was considering another beer. Andy slid past him to get outside and closed the door to the porch behind him, fucking with the temperature panel of the hot tub while leaning into Sid. There was no space between them, and all Nate could think about was how he wanted everything they had, how he wanted their tenderness and their meanness and all the intimacy they shared. He wanted them to want him too. 

He felt the water roll over his knuckles as he overfilled his glass, and then he shakily put the pitcher on the counter and drained his cup before refilling it again to go out. His thighs hurt. His calves yearned to melt into the hot tub where Andy was climbing in, over the lip Sid was leaning on to kiss Andy backlit by the tail-end of sunset. 

By the time he opened the door to join them, Sid was sliding into the tub with Andy, who seemed fine stewing in eighty-whatever degrees up to his tits in the summer. Andy had left his briefs on, but Sid was full-ass nude, letting his arms relax from corner to corner of the jacuzzi, his mess of shoulder muscles visible as he faced Andy and the ocean. Nate pulled off his shirt and hobbled over to the corner against the railing to Sid’s left, slipping his calves in while sitting on the ledge. He pretended to ignore the way Sid’s knuckles brushed against his thighs and traced down toward the hem of his shorts. 

The sky was a deep violet. Sid curled his fingers to tickle the backside of Nate’s knee and Nate took a sip of water to steel himself through it. 

“You ever come down here in the winter to enjoy this?” Nate asked. Underneath the blue-purple LED lights, Sid’s legs were spread wide, one in Andy’s lap and the other brushing Nate’s knee to rest his ankle in the corner with his junk buoyant in between looking fatter than usual underwater. He turned his chin toward Nate with his full attention.

“Nah,” he replied. His hand flicked toward the end of Nate’s shorts floating in the water. “The tub’s leftover from the old couple that used to live here. Some snowbirds from Ohio.”

“Oh, is that gonna be you guys in a few years then?” Nate asked, laughing, nudging at his knuckles. “Come down for the winter, grab a Kings game?” 

Sid scrunched his nose and Andy laughed, rolling the back of his head on the mouth of the tub to expose his neck. Both Sid’s and Nate’s gazes flickered over to catch the stretch of his Adam’s apple. 

“We might still come down,” Andy said eventually. “I think we’re gonna be Maritime lifers though. Or Pitt. But I’ll follow Sid anywhere when the time comes.” 

Sid’s foot slid up Andy’s chest to push him playfully in the ribs, but his fingers curled in the hem of Nate’s shorts. Nate tried to ignore it, looking at Andy catch Sid’s foot to lay a gross kiss into his big toe. 

“Fuck, you guys are cute,” Nate said.

“Yeah?” Sid laughed. He turned up to Nate again, pinching his thigh. “You like what you see?” 

It was so cheesy and so stupid, and it clearly meant zip, and still Nate felt burned by it, because somehow it also felt intentional. It was probably obvious at this point how Nate thought and felt, how he was just doing the bare minimum to survive the both of them for another week. It wasn’t fair. 

“Stop it,” he said, a little pitchy, trying not to be pissed.

“Stop what?” Sid replied. He dipped his finger inside the leg of Nate’s shorts again and traced a curved line like a question mark there. Maybe he wasn’t joking about anything at all. Maybe he wanted Nate to name it, whatever it was that was coming to a boil between the three of them. 

Nate risked a glance at Andy, who was watching the both of them carefully, eyes dark. He wasn’t smiling, but he didn’t look mad either, just cautious and calculating. Nate’s lip curled, uncertain.

“C’mon, man. Don’t fuck with me.”

He tried to swat Sid’s creeping hand away, but Sid caught Nate’s hand and tugged a little. Nate leaned into the pull, confused and uncertain. He didn’t want to scare anyone away. He knew he was an intense guy. 

“Nate, hey,” Sid said, tugging again, “get into the fucking tub, Jesus. You know I wouldn’t fuck with you about this, right?” 

Nate slid in, letting the heat overwhelm him. It was too hot. Sid was too close, and they were holding hands and Sid wasn’t letting go.

“Right?” Sid asked again, bringing his other hand up to curl against Nate’s chin so they were staring at each other head-on now, a breath away. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Nate said dumbly, and Sid smiled, leaning in to kiss him.

Any self-preservation instinct that had been ingrained into Nate over the years vanished. It was the easiest thing in the world to close his eyes and let Sid kiss his mouth open. Sid’s hand dragged down his jaw, and Nate surrendered to it, surrendered to his deceptively soft lips and anything else Sid wanted to give him, if just for a second. 

Sid held him in place when he broke the kiss, but stayed close enough that Nate could taste his warm breath. Nate blinked his eyes open just to stare at Sid’s smiling mouth. 

“What do you want, Nate?” he asked, stroking the scruff collecting under Nate’s chin with a finger.

Nate didn’t know what he wanted. Some variation of this to be sure, he knew, but beyond that? He chanced a glance at Andy. “I dunno, I’m—What do you guys want?” He looked back at Sid, then at Andy again.

Andy’s expression hadn’t changed at all, face unsettlingly neutral, brow furrowed and lips parted to show a little teeth. He tilted his head. He seemed cautious. “Us?”

Nate couldn’t take it, trying not to shrivel like a slug buried in salt. “I mean, obviously, yeah, are you kidding? You guys drive me crazy.”

Andy turned to Sid, who smiled back at him, fat lips pulled to the corners of his face all smug. Nate’s gaze traveled the space between them back and forth.

“You owe me,” Sid said, almost laughing it out like a hiccup, staring at Andy. Andy’s face finally broke into a crumpled-up scowl. 

“What?” Nate asked, lost.

Sid’s thumb dragged down the curve of Nate’s jaw to the long line of his neck. “Andy thought you were just interested in me. I bet him you were into the both of us.” 

Now Nate couldn’t look at either of them. He was already in a fucking hot tub under pressure, and Sid was making him feel fucking drenched, soaked with embarrassment and shame.

Before he could sink down and drown himself at their feet, Sid caught the meat of his shoulder. 

“No, hey, come here. It’s good, it’s good,” he said, laughing, leaning in all easy and kissing Nate again, chastely, just once. “I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Both of us want this. You’re good.” 

Nate couldn’t even imagine it. He ducked his head to stare at the water, glowing more and more as the twilight deepened into night. “It wouldn’t work if it wasn’t both of you.”

Sid hummed, tilting his head towards Andy. “Yeah, I know that, but tell him.” 

Nate burned, following the movement. Andy’s eyes were on him more intense than ever, bottom lip caught between his teeth. Nate wanted Andy the same as he wanted Sid, and his pulse beat wildly in his ears with the thought of having Andy touching him too.

Sid chased the twist of Nate’s neck with his mouth, kissing at the pulse point beneath his jaw in a way that made Nate’s dick hurt. His hands flexed and his toes curled under the water, and he gasped a little bit when Sid moved lower to catch some baby fat between his teeth. Nate couldn’t stop looking at Andy the entire time, and Andy didn’t blink for a fucking second looking right back.

“What are you staring at?” Andy asked softly, tilting his chin up. For the first time in Nate’s life, he looked vulnerable. Every inch of him was on edge, and his dark eyes were too wide. 

Sid sucked a kiss into Nate’s collarbone, and Nate let go of a shaky breath.  

“You,” he croaked out.  

Andy sighed, and all of his features softened. “Fuck, Nathan.” 

He crossed the short distance between them in a single, smooth movement and was just suddenly there, taking up the empty space that Sid had left as he started mouthing down Nate’s torso. Nate shuddered as Andy wrapped an arm around to trace down his spine with his fingertips, and Andy caught his shaky breaths with another kiss. His hands were wet, the other gripping Nate by the cheek and sliding back to dig into his long, ratty hair.  

Where Sid teased, Andy was undeniable, unquestionable, hungry and assertive, practically gulping Nate in and licking around his mouth like an animal. Sid was dragging his hands down Nate’s ribs and around his ass to lift him enough to make him feel exposed everywhere, tongue lapping at his nipple, and Andy held Nate’s face in one big palm and just kissed him. Nate felt consumed. He dug a fist into the curls at Sid’s nape, and wrapped his other arm around Andy’s waist to keep him there even if it suffocated him.  

“Okay?” Sid asked from where he was marking Nate with little bites above the solar plexus. His hands were sliding lower again underneath Nate’s thighs, teasing at the hem of Nate’s shorts and pinching the exposed skin. 

Nate didn’t fucking know. It was so much that he had wanted all at once, and he wanted it to be good, and he wanted them to think he was good, but also he just wanted to kiss them both and fucking get off, because he was so hard he couldn’t see straight. He had no control over it.

“Worried I’m,” he said disjointed, while Andy moved to suck on his earlobe in the most devastating way imaginable, “I’m just gonna nut, boys, it’s a lot.” 

“It’s fine,” Andy replied, easily. “You’re young, it’s nothing. I think Sid wants to get you off.”

“Yeah,” Sid agreed, squeezing Nate’s ass again and tugging him closer, so Nate’s balls were tight and heavy right against Sid’s stomach. “Let me?”

“Jesus,” Nate said, and Andy laughed. Nate could barely handle Sid talking about his dick, much less touching it or sucking it. 

“Bet we can get you hard again just as quick,” Andy murmured into Nate’s ear, all wet and breathy. “We’ll take you to bed.” 

“You gonna let me take care of you, Nate?” Sid asked, looking up at him. He already had his fingers curled into the elastic of Nate’s shorts, pulling them down past the balls to let everything hang out all flush, tip bobbing angry purple where the water met the night.

“I’m not gonna say no,” Nate said, only half ashamed, and Andy tilted his chin up again for another kiss so he wouldn’t blow it immediately as Sid ducked down to swallow his fat, needy dickhead, mouth full of water and cock. 

Sid maneuvered Nate by the hips up more, water flooding out the corners of his lips so he could get a tighter grip, gulp more of Nate down. He made Nate cry loud enough to be self-conscious that someone would hear, and Andy shut him up with another kiss. 

“Quiet,” he said, and Nate came just like that, groaning like unspooled thread and twitching against the back of Sid’s throat, hips thrust up awkward in the hot tub while Andy just fucking held him. He was saying, “Good, that was so good. You good?”

Nate was shuddering and trying not to fall apart with Sid swallowing around every pulse of come. He finally let Nate’s dick slide out of his mouth just to twitch against his cheek. Andy leaned down and kissed Sid, sucking at the clear trail of spunk and drool left on his cheek.  

“How are your legs feeling?” Sid asked, staring up at Nate.

Nate hadn’t thought about his legs for a hot second. “Why, you gonna carry me to bed?” 

“I can try,” Sid replied, and he kissed Nate’s sensitive dickhead again, making him curl into Andy.

“I can help,” Andy said, easily reeling him back in, stubble scraping the curve of his jaw. “You wanna go to bed?”

Nate wanted. His dick throbbed and his legs ached down to the bone and he didn’t even give a shit, he wanted so bad nothing more than to skip every self-care routine in the world to crawl in bed with the two of them. He wanted to get off again and he wanted to get them off and he wanted them to think about him just as much as he thought about them. “Yeah, let’s go to bed.”

He hadn’t actually been in Sid and Andy’s room since getting to the house. They made their bed every morning like fucking pod people, and from the doorway it looked like a hotel room, duvet folded over near the headboard neatly, pillows laid out just so. Nate was still half sopping wet and trying to towel off when Sid wrestled him forward from the doorway and Andy climbed on top of him.

“Hi,” Sid said, equally wet, radiant in a room with all the lights on, his attention overwhelming and entirely focused on Nate. 

“Hi,” Nate said back. He was so nervous he felt like laughing, unsure of what to do between Andy kissing his shoulder and Sid peeling off his soaked-through shorts to throw them against the far wall so he could fondle Nate’s balls. 

“Obie, get naked,” Sid said, watching his own knuckles as his fingers curled and uncurled to feel for Nate’s taint. 

“Don’t call me that,” Andy said, but Nate could feel him get off the bed to shake his shorts loose from around his hips anyway. 

“Obie?” Nate asked, twisting around to face him, wanting in on the joke. 

“Shut up,” Andy said, sidling back into his self-shaped wet spot, “or I won’t let you fuck Sid.”

He said it right against Nate’s ear, hand curling around the sharp edge of Nate’s hip bone. Nate went frozen under his grip. He hadn’t even thought about that, and he didn’t want to overthink it now. He’d fucked a few girls through Shattuck and Juniors just to see if he could, but he wasn’t necessarily a pro, and he for sure didn’t like it as much as he knew he was supposed to. 

“Oh yeah?” he said, gulping and unsure. “Obie?” 

“Seriously, fuck off,” Andy said, and he grabbed Nate by the shoulder to push him so his back was flat against the bed, Sid on one side, Andy on the other. He pushed another heavy, mean, tender kiss into Nate’s mouth while Sid kept playing with his junk. “You want something else?” 

Something else probably meant getting fucked, which Nate for sure didn’t want, at least this time. He wanted a lot of things, but in the moment he just wanted so badly to be good. He didn’t want to be three thrusts and twenty seconds deep into Sid just to blow another load while Sid was barely half hard.

“Just let me warm up a bit,” Nate said, trying not to feel like a total amateur. “My guy is still kind of sensitive.”

Sid, still idly playing with him, pulled his hand away to place on his chest and looked too serious when he said, “Oh, sorry about that.”

“It’s fine, it’s,” Nate tried, shaking his head, but Sid was staring at him with big brown Bambi eyes, and his face was so close. He didn’t finish his thought, just leaned in and kissed Sid again, slower and deeper than he had outside. He wanted to savor him, memorize every part of his mouth, every noise he made and when he made it, so Nate could tease them out on a whim. 

Andy was still kneeling on his other side, and feeling brave, Nate reached out blind to find his hairy thigh with one hand, sliding up until he found Andy’s dick, hot and hard, hanging straight out. He sluggishly started to jerk Andy off, pulling his loose foreskin up to the head to make Andy moan and relax under his touch. 

This was the part Nate was good at. When he and Jo were fooling around, it was always more of an endurance test. It had started out between them seeing who could last longer while jerking off, eventually turning into who could get the other off quicker. Things had ended when Nate got too good at winning.

Sid and Andy both let Nate take his time, being slow and thorough as he grounded himself in both of them. Sid shifted to be more on his stomach so he could rock against Nate’s thigh and let his dick leak a needy patch of pre-come like he was marking his territory. His kisses grew hungrier and wetter and Nate’s mouth started to sting raw between him and Andy’s stubble scraping him up. 

Nate pressed a few decisively final kisses to Sid’s mouth, then the corner of his lips before finally turning around to Andy. Andy looked down on him through half-lidded eyes and thick lashes, and after a second of hesitation got his hand back in Nate’s hair and pulled him in to suck his dick.

Nate went down easy. Andy’s dick was above average and straight, nothing fancy, and Nate knew with a little practice he could take Andy down to the hilt and milk him dry. As it was now, Nate could still take him deep and let the sense memory of salt and funk on the back of his tongue make his mouth water. He let his motions get sloppy and couldn’t help but squeeze his own dick a little when Andy hissed at the sensation, grip getting tighter at the back of his neck. 

It was a gratifying kind of power, making another man weak like this, that made his guts turn molten hot and churn. Andy let out a breathy fuck that Nate recognized from being on the other side of their bedroom wall, and he chased it like a win, driving himself deeper, gulping down as much of Andy as he could. 

“God, you’re good at that,” Andy said, reverent enough to make Nate’s legs weak and shaky in his position. “Are you gonna show Sid how good you are?” 

Nate opened his mouth to lick up the underside of Andy’s dick, letting it rest fat on his tongue while gazing up with open eyes. He was worried about looking stupid but Andy exhaled shakily, like Nate had shot him or something, so he figured he was doing good. 

“You wanna show me what you got?” Sid asked, curling around him from behind. Nate shuddered, and Andy smiled down on him.

“Yeah you do.” Andy’s grabbed his dick from Nate’s open mouth and held it against his own stomach, fist squeezing. He nodded at Sid over Nate’s shoulder. “Lay back, babe, let me watch you.” 

“God, you’re so fucking horny sometimes,” Sid said, but Nate could feel the shift of weight, Sid relaxing back into the mattress.  

“Yeah I am,” Andy replied without an ounce of pity. He brushed his thumb over Nate’s swollen lips. “Don’t go easy on him, eh?” 

Nate twisted around to look at Sid and almost choked. Sid was bigger than Andy, a lot of girth like the rest of him with a beautiful curve, and he tugged at himself slowly to tease out his own length. He smiled at Nate. Unlike Nate, he knew exactly how good he looked. His other arm was tucked behind his head, triceps like a goddamn melon. 

“Jesus.” Nate ached looking at him. “I get it, okay, you’re a fucking stud.”

It was almost a chore to crawl toward him and get between his legs when Nate could have just stayed in place and humped the bed staring at him to get off. Sid’s grin was self-satisfied, smug. “Thanks.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” Nate said. He leaned in on both elbows and licked a clean line up from the base of Sid’s dick, pausing halfway up the underside to just kiss him there and exhale hot and wet against his skin.

“Oh shit,” Sid said, and Nate pushed the hand he was still holding himself with away to get his own grip on Sid, get steady enough to show Sid how much he already knew. “Nate.” 

“Yeah,” Nate said, instantly thrilled at the way Sid immediately squirmed underneath him. He popped Sid’s dickhead in and out of his mouth like a sucker. Sid shivered and Andy laughed, collapsing against Sid’s side to smother the errant noises coming out of his mouth with his own. 

The noises Sid was making, the noises Andy was swallowing down, washed over Nate like the best tidal wave of praise he’d ever heard; it was more satisfying than the weight of a Rookie of the Year trophy in his hands in front of the league he spent his entire life hoping to break into. He’d grown up adoring Sidney Crosby, and here was Sidney Crosby underneath him being adored and flush with it, restless, practically begging for it. 

He shifted his weight, feeling brave, and got his arms under Sid’s raised thighs to lift them a little more, get him to buck his hips. Sid’s balls were already getting tight, and that felt good to see too, dizzying and validating all at once. He suckled one in his mouth, then the other while managing to jerk Sid off in lazy strokes, and Sid twitched like he was being shocked. 

Nate had to break away for a second after that just to fish a pube out of his mouth, and Sid actually whined the same way he did when he was frustrated on the ice, missing the net by a quarter of an inch. 

“Fucking baby,” Andy murmured against Sid’s lips.

“Shut up,” Sid said back, before making a grabby hand at Andy’s dick until Andy hitched his hips enough for Sid to wrap a hand around it and let Andy fuck his fist. 

While he was distracted, Nate wiped his hand on the sheets before palming at Sid’s nutsack again and tugging him closer to get a good look at his asshole. It felt like a big moment. Jo never let him go this far, and he’d asked toward the end of it if he could get his mouth down there, because he heard it felt good, and maybe if Jo wanted to get him off faster for once he’d consider the same—but it had remained the line they weren’t meant to cross, so he’d never done it. 

He wanted to, though. Sid’s fat ass would be temptation enough if he didn’t. He got his palms on the backs of Sid’s thighs and pressed up even more, so much so that Sid stopped making out with Andy for a second to stare back down at him, breath hitching up another notch as Nate angled in to nose underneath Sid’s balls and lick down his taint to his hole. 

Sid just about deflated into it, groaning, and Nate could only imagine what he looked like now. He was too busy breathing Sid in to see, overwhelmed by the dank musk thick against the back of his throat, sweaty skin ripe on his tongue. He could barely handle how good it was to keen into it, to hear Sid come apart above him as he dug his face in more and started lapping against Sid’s hole. He rocked his hips into the mattress, not really able to stop himself at this point and not really wanting to. 

“Is it good, babe?” he heard Andy ask, voice warm, reverent. 

“So good,” Sid said. Approval rippled down Nate’s spine and now he couldn’t stop, swirling his tongue around and opening his mouth to breathe heavy against as much skin as he could, hands kneading at the meat of Sid’s hamstrings. Nate felt untethered and wild.

“He could probably just open you up with his mouth,” Andy continued. “You’re gonna be so soaked he could probably slide his dick in without any lube and fuck you just like that.”

“Jesus,” Sid replied. He brought a hand down to Nate’s hair to pull him up, but Nate kept going, slipping the tip of his tongue past the rings of muscle inside Sid. “He could make me come just by eating me out.”

“And I always thought you had a slutty mouth.” Andy hummed, and they were kissing again, the wet slip and slide of their mouths unmistakable. 

Nate let go of one of Sid’s thighs on a whim, thinking about the nasty shit Andy was saying to Sid, and brought the tip of his thumb to Sid’s asshole to stretch open along with his tongue, and Sid fucking cried. He buried his thumb in deeper and worked it in and out, marveling at how tight Sid still felt at the rim. 

“Easy, easy,” Andy said, moving away from Sid’s side to Nate. He was using his Coach Voice which was still somehow, inexplicably hot. “You gotta pace yourself. Draw it out. Really make him beg for it.”

Nate didn’t feel close to finished, but Andy managed to pull him away and after chasing the taste of Sid’s ass with a kiss he turned Nate by the jaw to look at Sid lying back on the bed, pink all over and sweating, heaving, desperate. 

“You want to take him apart?” Andy asked Nate, and all Nate could do was nod dumbly, rendered quiet by just how fucking beautiful Sid was, by how fucking stupid hot Andy was, by just how fucking lucky he was. Andy spanked him on his bare ass. “Good. Open the drawer on the other side of the bed. Lube should be right on top.” 

Nate rolled over to open the drawer and dig it out obediently. For some reason he expected to see more shit, and had forgotten they didn’t live here full time. Andy had a few pairs of spare reading glasses, a worn-in Stephen King novel, and a thick black pump bottle, which looked a lot nicer than the shit Nate always tried to act innocent about buying at the CVS. He threw it back on the bed near Andy’s knee. 

“You should slick him up,” Andy said. “But you gotta be gentle, he’s right on the edge.”

“I don’t know if I have the restraint,” Nate admitted, looking back down at Sid. His dick was painfully hard against his stomach, dribbling. 

“C’mere, I’ll show you.” Andy squeezed Sid’s ankle and Nate crawled back into their space, eager. “Lucky for us Sid is so easy.”

“Hey,” Sid whined. He was pawing at his own pubes. 

“No touching yourself,” Andy said sternly, and Sid sneered.

“I’m not.” 

Andy ignored him and returned his attention to Nate. “Okay, number one, don’t trust him for a second. Two, we’re gonna take a few pumps of that and really grease up Sid’s asshole. Even though you did a pretty solid job with just your mouth.”

Nate pretended to preen with the praise like he genuinely wanted to, getting a fat wad of lube in his fingers to tease against Sid’s opening. It was still somewhat cool and Sid gasped, hips rocking up. Andy put a hand on his thigh to still him.  

“You ever done this before?” he asked Nate. 

Nate tried not to feel flustered as he rubbed circles to work the tips of his fingers back into Sid’s ass. “Uh, no, not really like—no. I haven’t.”

“You’re doing great so far,” Andy told him. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Nate’s shoulder. “Keep teasing him open like that. Look at how relaxed he is already. He can’t even look at you, he’s so turned on.” 

“Yeah?” Nate was getting a little short of breath himself and burning all over, feeling as red hot as Sid looked underneath them. 

“Yeah.” Andy kept his hand on Sid’s thigh but reached around Nate with the other to hold him by the hip, light but steady. “Now as you work your fingers in, don’t worry about getting any more in or stretching him out or anything. Just work your way in until you’re knuckles deep. But take your time, you know, really make him suffer.”

Nate grinned. He could do that. “For sure.”

“You’re the worst,” Sid said, covering his eyes with the crook of his elbow. He was sweating so much his chest was glistening wet. 

“Oh?” Nate replied, and he slid his fingers back out a little too quick, making Sid moan and clench, rock forward and try to suck him back in. “Jesus, Andy was right, you’re so fucking easy.” 

Sid just groaned and rocked his hips forward again, keeping his face hidden while Nate slowly started to work his fingers back in.

“He loves it,” Andy said. He was smiling and had started rubbing circles at Nate’s hip bone. “Now—you’re almost fully in, you want to flick your fingers just a little bit up.”

Nate did as he was told, tips brushing against something solid inside Sid, and Sid practically cried like it was ripped out of him. “Like that?”

“Like that. God, he must be so fucking swollen from being played with already. That’s his prostate.” Nate didn’t want to tell Andy he kind of, sort of figured, because it wasn’t like he was stupid; he was at the very least a reluctant bisexual who had watched enough gay porn to theoretically know about the basics, he just would never have had the kind of courage or know-how to get there so easily on his own. “You should tease him for a little bit. See what you can do without letting him get off immediately.”

“I hate you so much,” Sid said to the entire room.

“You love me,” Andy replied, and he let go of both of them to grab the discarded lube bottle and pump a few squirts into his own fist to start getting his own dick wet. 

“Yeah,” Sid said with a sigh, before Nate curled his fingers in again to feel where Sid was desperate and flushed inside. “Fuck, Nate.” 

“Feel good?” Nate wanted to genuinely know, pressing up just so, making Sid practically writhe against the mattress. 

“Uh-huh,” Sid managed to reply weakly. His breath was so steady, practiced but deep, clearly the one thing keeping him tethered to earth in the moment. 

“Can I touch you?” Andy asked Nate right in his ear. “Stroke you off?” 

“Yeah,” Nate said, nodding. He was so focused on Sid underneath him it almost didn’t register what Andy had said until Andy got fully behind him, arms around him and chin on his shoulder, lubed-up hand finally squeezing around Nate’s now semi-chub to coax it back to life. He hissed and fucked right up into Andy’s tight fist instinctively. “Fuck.”

“You’re doing so good.” Andy jerked him like he was touching himself, taking brief breaks to dig his finger in at the base or squeeze at his balls. “You’re amazing.”

Even when Nate was beating Sid up sand dunes nine times out of ten, Andy didn’t praise him this much, and Nate could barely handle it. He let his head loll back and his movements got more aggressive, less refined. His fingers fucked into Sid a little harder, finding his prostate in jerky, hungry thrusts. 

Underneath him, Sid squirmed and got louder, gasping and fisting the sheets with one hand, his heels kicking into the mattress as well. “Nate, Nate, you’re gonna, you’re gonna make me, fuck, fuck—”

“There you go,” Andy said. “Attaboy, Sid.”

Sid’s dick, untouched, bobbed against his stomach, come flooding out in thick, white globs. 

“Sid,” Nate said, at a loss for any other words. Andy was kissing the curve of his shoulder and rocking them together while Sid just unloaded in front of them, crying helpless into his arm. He was so beautiful, Nate couldn’t help it. 

“This is how he likes to be fucked,” Andy said, while Sid’s dick still twitched bright red, his entire body heaving. 

“Wait, now?” Nate asked. He slid his fingers out of Sid’s ass and wiped them against Sid’s thigh.

“All blissed out and loose? Yeah.” Andy pressed another kiss into his shoulder and continued to play with his balls. “He’s all yours if you want.”

Nate wanted. As if he was even on the fence, Sid peeked out from where he’d been hiding his face with a self-satisfied, shy smile. He looked like he’d run a marathon. “You gonna give me that dick, Nate?”

“You think you can handle it?” Nate was kind of serious. He wasn’t huge or anything, but Sid looked and sounded like a stripped engine. 

“Yeah,” Sid said, dismissive almost, kind of dreamy. “Stick it in me, bud.”

“Fuck,” Nate said. 

Andy laughed, helping him grab the lube. “Get a little more on there before you go in.”

Nate did as he was told, greasing up his own dick, now dark red and shiny, smearing any excess over Sid’s hole and taint. “You ready?”

“I’m gonna fall asleep soon if you don’t start,” Sid replied, scooting his hips forward impatiently. 

Nate caught his thigh and rolled his eyes. “Jeez, okay, hold the fuck on then. 

He got Sid’s leg over his shoulder and crawled over Sid so he was right on top, and pressed his forehead against Sid’s chest to get a good look down. It took a little maneuvering to get the positioning right, but Andy was still behind him to hold him by the hips where he was needed, and get a steady hold on Nate’s dick to press its head against Sid’s opening. 

“Okay,” Nate said, more to himself than anything, and pressed in. He was met with the familiar resistance of muscle, but still slid in quick and smooth, and suddenly found himself overwhelmed by the tight, hot heat of Sid’s hungry ass engulfing his dick. 

Sid made a few obscene, gasping noises, going absolutely boneless underneath him, and Nate moaned with him, hands coming up to Sid’s shoulders to hang on for dear life, face pressed against Sid’s sternum. Nate’s times with girls—well, he hadn’t been an idiot for one, and he’d used a fucking condom, but the sensation of pussy had still been different. Being inside Sid was like being buried miles underneath the earth, all molten hot pressure suffocating his dick. He couldn’t believe how good it felt.  

“Just like that,” Andy said behind them, sliding his palm up Nate’s back.  

Sid rocked up to try and take him deeper. “Feels so good, Nate, keep going.”  

“Okay,” Nate said again, and he rolled his hips in another shallow thrust, then another. He finally looked up at Sid, who was staring down at him slack-jawed, looking high on getting fucked. It was impossible not to kiss him, and Sid returned the kiss sloppy and loose.  

Andy squirted more lube into his palm and started jerking himself off again, shuffling up closer behind Nate on his knees. He leaned in as Nate was doing his best to fuck Sid in even strokes and not just slam into him recklessly like he wanted to. “Nate, I promise I’m not going to fuck you, but I want to tease you a little. Is that okay?” 

Nate broke from kissing Sid for a second, panting. “Uh-huh.” 

Andy’s hands were slick as he grabbed both of Nate’s ass cheeks in a mean squeeze and then spanked him. Nate groaned and Andy laughed. “Good?” 

“Good,” Nate managed. It was so much more than good. 

He went tense for a second as he pulled half out of Sid and Andy’s dick was right there behind him, lined up against his crease. Andy’s right hand caught him again by the meat of his ass, thumb slipping up to run against his hole, but not inside. Nate shuddered. There wasn’t even a word for how much more than good it felt. All he could do was groan and press into it when Andy did it again. 

Andy’s expert touch was like striking a match, like flipping a switch, and Nate suddenly wanted it. He didn’t know if he could take it, especially with his dick sinker deeper and quicker into Sid, but he wanted it. 

“You know, you could, Andy,” he choked out, glancing over his shoulder. “You could fuck me, Andy.”

Andy spanked him again lightly, smiling cocky and mean down at them both. “Yeah?” His thumb swooped in again and rubbed a firm circle at the rim of Nate’s hole, and Nate’s toes curled where they were already digging into the mattress. “Maybe not tonight. But I’ll play around a little. We’ll work you up to it.”  

It almost sounded romantic: we’ll work you up to it. The promise of this happening again, the three of them in a new configuration, Sid and Andy folding him into their intimacy. 

Andy pressed against his opening slightly, and it felt dizzyingly good. He felt his dick get heavier and thicker inside Sid, where his thrusts had grown sloppy. Andy said, voice lower, “As it is, I think you’re too close for it right now. And I could get off just seeing you like this.”  

He pulled his hand away, and instead pressed his wet dickhead there instead, rubbing it up and down to Nate’s taint. Nate let him. His own movements were getting too erratic. The sensation was getting too much, and he was going to come. 

“I think I might,” Nate said, but he couldn’t finish the sentence. He was white knuckling the sheets at either side of Sid to ground himself.

“You think you might what?” Andy asked, while Sid asked, “You gonna come in me, Nate?” 

“I’m gonna,” Nate practically cried, and he let go any restraint he had left, slamming down twice into Sid before just unloading. He collapsed on top of Sid, who brought a hand up to hold the back of his head, fingers running through Nate’s sweat-soaked hair gathering at the nape of his neck. 

“Yeah, like that,” Sid murmured. “That’s it, Nate.” 

Andy had started jerking himself off harder. Nate could hear him faintly beyond the roaring in his ears from the orgasm, and his other hand had slid up to the small of Nate’s lower back. In a few seconds, Andy was making his own choked-out, frantic noises, jizzing all over Nate’s ass. 

“Fuck,” he said eventually, rolling onto his side next to Sid and Nate. “Jesus Christ.” 

Sid hummed and tilted his head over for a kiss while Nate continued to pant against his chest, recovering. “That was good, eh?”

“Great,” Andy agreed, breathless.

“You okay, bud?” Sid asked Nate, who still hadn’t said anything at all. 

“There are no words,” Nate finally managed, looking up at both of them. They were smiling back, both looking wiped out, and it made Nate’s chest want to burst wide open. “I can’t believe you guys do this every morning.”

Sid barked out a laugh. “I knew it!”

“Oh my God,” Andy said, his head tilting back into the headboard. “You’re just right about everything tonight.” 

“You’ve been jerking it into your boxers listening to us, haven’t you,” Sid asked Nate accusingly, smile too big for his face. “I fucking knew it." 

Nate buried his face into Sid’s chest again, embarrassed, before sliding his dick out to push himself away. “Well, boys, thanks for that. Think I’m gonna hit the shower.”

“No, come on,” Sid said. “I’m teasing you, like I don’t love it.”  

Nate’s face burned, and he scratched at his pubes, looking at the floor. “Uh huh. Yup, okay.” 

“You should both grab a shower,” Andy said, shoving Sid up too. “I need to find some clean sheets and remake the bed. Virtually every inch of this is a wet spot at this point.”  

“Yeah, all right,” Sid said, He bit his lip, staring at Nate. “Come on, you know I think it’s hot as shit, right?”

“Whatever,” Nate replied. He couldn’t stop blushing and just turned away to step off the bed and leave the room as fast as possible. 

Sid caught up with him in the bathroom as Nate was turning on the shower. “Hey, I mean it.”

“Okay.” Nate reached under the spray to feel it warm up.  

Sid wrapped his arms around Nate’s waist. His dick pressed against Nate’s hip, softening, and he kissed the back of Nate’s neck. “Can I shower with you?”  

“Of course you can shower with me,” Nate replied. He was trying not to feel like a kid. Sidney Crosby wanted to shower with him after letting Nate fuck him in the ass. Things were, objectively, good. 

They took their time in the shower. Nate let Sid scrub him down and wash his hair, and then they switched places so Nate could return the favor. 

“You gonna sleep with us tonight? Bed’s big enough,” Sid said after, stepping out of the tub to towel off.

Nate did, but he also didn’t want to intrude. “Should you talk to Andy first?”

“You both are absolute idiots about each other,” Sid said, laughing. “Andy and I have been talking about this all week.”

“Oh,” Nate said. That was it, then. “Okay.” 

Sid snapped his towel at Nate’s ass as they shuffled back into the bedroom, where Andy was putting the last of a series of fresh pillowcases on the pillows.

“You assholes save any hot water for me?” he asked.

“Nah, it’s all gone, but you could use a cold shower,” Sid joked, dropping his towel on the floor and leaning into kiss Andy. “Kidding. It’s all yours.” 

“You sleeping with us tonight?” Andy turned his attention to Nate as Sid crawled to the far side of the bed, messing up Andy’s freshly tucked in comforter.

“Guess so,” Nate said, trying to act cool about it. He looked back at Andy, hoping for some kind of reassurance and was relieved when Andy smiled. 

“He’s middle spoon,” Sid said. “Get over here.”  

“Fine,” Nate said. He had the decency to hang his wet towel over the top of the bedroom door. “Do you guys have a pair of boxers I could borrow? My room is like, five feet away, just way too far.”

Andy laughed and turned around to the closet and shuffled some drawers around. He came up with a pair and pushed them into Nate’s chest with a kiss. “Here you go.”

“Thanks.” Nate’s stomach swooped, and he tugged them on before collapsing onto the bed and getting under the covers next to Sid, who was still comfortably nude. He hesitated for a second before turning onto his side to wrap around Sid, who made a happy sound and shifted into his hold as Andy turned the lights off to go take a shower. 

Nate became much more aware of himself in the dark, and it sobered him up somewhat. Down the hall he could hear the water turn back on, and Sid turned around more in his arms so he was facing Nate. 

“Don’t be surprised if he makes us breakfast tomorrow. He likes doing stuff like that. He thinks it’s romantic.” Sid’s voice cut through the dark in a good-humored whisper, like he was sharing a secret. “I like that he takes care of me.”

It was kind of a secret, though. Who else knew these things? Who else had seen this side of either of them? “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Sid said with a sigh. “He would take care of you too, if you wanted. We both would.”

“I,” Nate said, but he stopped himself. It sounded so good, but at the same time he was young and worried and everything was happening so fast. How much had he changed in a year? Who was he going to be next year? “I don’t know what I want.” 

Sid yawned. “I figured. We both do, me and Andy, but you know. It’s on the table, whatever you want, whenever you want it. I think it will be for a while. We both care about you a lot.”  

“Sid,” Nate said, trying and failing not to fall in love too quickly.  

“I know,” Sid said, leaning forward to kiss him, before turning back around to curl back into Nate. “Good night, Nate.” 

“Night.” Nate breathed out slow and finally relaxed into the mattress, hand resting on Sid’s chest, feeling where his heart beat strong and steady. He heard the shower turn off down the hallway. Andy was whistling something unrecognizable, and Nate let it rock him toward sleep like a lullaby. He managed to stay awake in the time it took the bathroom light down the hall to turn off and Andy to come back in the room and weigh down the space at his back. The last thing he remembered before falling asleep was the feeling of Andy’s arm, strong and secure, wrapping around his waist.