“Fuck me, Zimms.”
“Don’t play dumb.”
“I don’t know--Kenny--, what?”
Jack’s face, bright red, he hides underneath a pale blue baseball cap, eyes looking everywhere but at Kent.
“Can we stop pretending that whatever’s here isn’t here or whatever. Because I know it is and I know you’re feeling it too.”
They’re sitting in Jack’s dad’s truck after practice, two large Tim Horton’s coffees in between them, a double double for Jack, a French Vanilla for Kent. Kent takes a sip of his coffee. He’s not looking at Jack, just looking through the windshield at the parking lot in front of them. Jack’s index finger taps impatiently on the fancy leather of the steering wheel.
Kent turns and looks out the window, desperately hoping he hasn’t made a mistake.
“What do you mean,” Jack says slowly.
“I mean…” Kent trails off, “Well I’m not quite sure what I mean but you should still fuck me.”
“Like actually. You mean like. Like fuck you?”
“We gotta stop pretending, bro,” Kent says.
“Kent can you just spit it out and tell me what you mean,” Jack’s words have an edge to them.
Kent takes a deep breath.
“We both want to. We gotta stop pretending that none of it means anything.”
“There’s a reason I end up in your lap every time we’re at some party, there’s a reason you don’t push me off. You kissed me last weekend, you can’t tell me you don’t want something.”
“I was drunk,” Jack says.
“You know what they say… sober thoughts, drunk actions or whatever.”
“You’re being… okay I don’t know what you’re being but just because I blacked out and kissed you, doesn’t mean I want to have sex with you.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“You don’t have to,” Jack says.
He sets his coffee down and turns the key in the ignition.
“Sorry, man,” Kent says.
“Don’t,” Jack says, “just don’t mention it.”
Bad Bob is there when they back to Jack’s house. Retired NHL players don’t really do a lot. There are banquets and ceremonies, alumni games. He wrote a book when Jack was like 12, but mostly, Bob sits in a lazy boy recliner in front of a TV that’s bigger than anything Kent’s ever owned and watches game highlights. Sometimes he’ll watch something that Alicia was in when she was younger, relive the glory days. When Jack and Kent get home, he springs up.
“Jack,” he says.
Both Jack and Bob extend Kent the courtesy of speaking english when he’s around. A few words slip in every now and then.
“Salut,” Jack says.
“Hey Mr. Z,” Kent says.
“Help yourselves to the fridge, Alicia’s coming back with groceries anyway,” Bob says.
They’ll take him up on his offer. Jack throws a loaf of bread on the counter. Kent’s certain that Jack has never made a bad sandwich in his life. He hands Kent a sandwich. Kent eats it in what can’t be more than four bites.
“Damn Zimms,” Kent moans with his mouth full.
It’s a joke, he’s made it before, but Jack goes bright red and sets down his plate with more force, perhaps than he anticipated because the plate cracks on the marble countertop.
“Are you boys okay?” Bob shouts from the living room.
“Fine!” Jack answers quickly.
It’s an answer Kent has heard him give before, quick, terse, reassuring. Something that’s shouted through walls and closed doors. It’s just confident enough that no one comes looking. Jack cleans up the pieces, throws the sandwich in the trash and wraps the shards in paper towel and sets them on top.
Kent can’t stop thinking about how adept his hands are, how capable… what else they might be good at doing. Of course, Kent knows.
“You okay?” Kent says.
“Yeah,” Jack says and it’s a bit too cheerful for Kent to entirely believe.
Jack’s phone starts to vibrate, Kent knows the alarm, it rings everyday at 4:30. Pretends not to.
“I’ll be back,” he disappears into the bathroom.
Kent’s alone in the kitchen. He taps his finger against the grain of the marble, it’s white, and clean and smooth and it just feels rich . It’s not Jack’s fault that he’s rich, obviously, but Kent can’t help but resent how easy it is for Jack sometimes. He never had to worry about how his parents would pay for his equipment. There’s no such thing as pinching pennies when you’re dad’s an NHL legend and your mom’s a movie star/supermodel/hotshot producer.
Kent gets tired of waiting and stands outside of Jack’s bathroom.
“Jesus!” Jack curses, he jumps at Kent’s unexpected presence.
“Sorry,” Kent says, “Your kitchen’s kind of depressing.”
“My mother built that kitchen.”
“Did she build it or did she pay someone else to build it?” Kent asks.
“It’s really not.”
“Do we have to fight, Kenny?” Jack says.
“No,” Kent answers.
Bob appears in the hallway, “You boys want to squeeze some extra practice in?” He asks.
The Zimmermans are the kind of rich people with a finished basement. Bob has some synthetic ice on one side, a net set up against the wall. Jack and Kent stand on the ice in socked feet while Bob gives them stickhandling pointers. Kent jumps at the chance every time Bob suggests they head into the basement.
“Just gotta be careful not to break any of your mother’s stuff, eh?” Bob jokes every time they head down the stairs.
Jack cracks a wrist shot to start. Kent doesn’t like the sound of the stick scraping against the fake coated plastic but it’s the best they can get before the pond freezes.
Bob just stands and watches. He doesn’t say anything unless it’s absolutely necessary. When he does speak, Kent watches Jack tense up.
“Loosen your grip,” Bob says.
“Use your power.”
Jack takes a step back. He claps his blade down and rips a slapshot so hard that the puck goes through the twine.
Bob claps slowly.
Kent lets out a low whistle.
“Damn Zimms, that was hot,” he says.
Bob laughs. It’s not an unusual thing for anyone to say, not really. Hockey is a sport full of homo-erotic rituals, works pretty well for Kent.
Jack turns bright red. Looks down at the puck.
“Shut up Parse.”
Kent smirks to himself.
They don’t stop until Alicia calls them upstairs for dinner. Kent revels in it. What he wouldn’t give to be Jack Zimmerman.
They’re in Jack’s room after dinner. Kent always plans on going back to his billet by curfew, but he spends the night at Jack’s more often than not. They’ll stop by his billet to get his school stuff and a change of clothes in the morning but neither one of them wants to be apart for longer than they have to. Jack and Kent fall into a rhythm, they just talk for hours, about hockey, about plays, fantasizing about a future that both of them know is impossible.
“How sick would a Zimmerman-Parson no look one timer be on TSN, NHL ice. Damn,” Kent says leaning back in Jack’s desk chair.
Jack is laying on his stomach on his bed. He’s absentmindedly flipping through a history textbook.
“Is that even the one for this year?”
“I borrowed it,” Jack says.
“Fuck Zimms, you nerd. “
“What about it?” Jack asks.
“S’cute,” Kent teases.
That’s what a good chunk of their relationship is, Jack being an obtuse nerd, and Kent mercilessly flirting with him.
“Kenny?” Jack sets his book down and sits cross legged on the bed.
“What?” Kent says.
“Just… when you say that shit--” he plays with his light blue comforter.
“No. I euh. Do you mean it?”
“Like do you…” his voice lowers, Kent can already see the regret seeping into his expression as his voice falters, “do you mean it… I dunno. Do you mean it.”
Kent interrupts himself by standing up. He lurches forward. His hands fall on Jack’s thighs. Jack looks up. Kent doesn’t meet his eyes, just sends his lips crashing into Jack’s like two magnets. Jack’s lips are soft, they taste like cinnamon gum and salt. Jack doesn’t know where his hands are supposed to go, they cautiously rest on Kent’s shoulder. Jack doesn’t push him away, rather it’s Kent that stops it. He straightens up. Shoves his hands back into his pockets and takes a step back.
“Fuck. I-- uh.”
“Kenny,” Jack wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.
He looks disgusted, to Kent at least. His eyebrows are furrowed and his hands are twitching. Jack licks his lips.
“Why’d you stop?” Jack says.
“I thought… I shouldn’t have.”
Jack stands up, and it’s in these rare moments, when neither one of them is wearing pads or skates, that Kent remembers just how tall Jack is. He doesn’t tower over him, but Kent has to look up to meet his gaze.
Jack cups his cheek, pulls Kent’s lips up to his.
It’s like Jack has taken all the breath out of his lungs. He stands on his toes, doing everything he can to press his lips to Jack’s.
Jack steps back and Kent follows, no way his lips are leaving Jack’s.
Jack stumbles, falling over the edge of his bed. Kent falls with him, landing half on top of Jack and half on his comforter.
Jack’s bed is a double because of course Jack’s bed is a double, why would a Zimmerman have anything less.
Jack’s hands are in his hair and damn that’s nice.
Jack doesn’t push harder than Kent can push back but that’s still pretty hard.
“Kenny,” Jack murmurs against Kent’s lips.
“Fuck Zimms,” Kent says back.
He swings his leg over Jack without ever breaking the kiss and straddles his hips. He can feel Jack, already hard underneath of him. Jack’s hips buck up. Kent smirks. Jack laughs, his breath comes out hot against Kent’s face.
“Kenny I don’t know what I’m doing here.”
“We’ll figure it out together, bud. Seems pretty self explanatory.”
Kent joins in on the laughter. Jack reaches over and turns on his stereo, presumably so his parents don’t hear whatever’s about to transpire. Jack doesn’t care about music (or anything much other than hockey) so he settles on the first station that isn’t fuzzy. Kent can’t believe he’s about to lose his virginity to a black eyed peas song.
“Are you sure about this Zimms?” Kent asks.
“Don’t talk,” Jack says and pushes Kent back down on the bed.
Kent doesn’t complain.
He lets his hands wander under Jack’s shirt. The man’s absolutely fucking stacked, and it’s not like Kent’s small but Jack is a speciment of a man. Jack shrugs his shoulders, helping Kent take off the gray t-shirt. Kent takes off his own shirt too, quickly popping the buttons loose. It feels wrong to throw it, so he just puts it gently on the ground next to the bed.
Kent kisses Jack’s neck, and god he’s always wanted to do that. To gently bite, just hard enough to turn his skin pink, just hard enough to make Jack squirm underneath of him.
Their both impatient so it’s only a couple minutes before Jack’s hands are pushing Kent’s toward his jeans. Kent undoes his belt, throws it on top of his own shirt. Jack squirms, he only takes his pants off to about his knees, neither one of them will fully undress while his parents are still home.
Kent grabs at Jack’s boxers, moves the waistband out of the way and grasps Jack’s dick in one hand… that’s nice too, because it’s Jack’s and everything that’s Jack’s is nice.
Jack hisses, his eyes are closed.
“Hands are cold,” Jack mumbles.
Kent smirks, “I’ll fix it.”
He licks his palm, doesn’t know where any of this is coming from. He grabs the base of Jack’s cock with his hand and slowly, but enthusiastically lowers his mouth over the head of Jack’s dick. Jack slaps his hand over his mouth and bites down on his fist. Kent takes that to mean he’s doing something right. He swirls his tongue over the shaft, takes more of Jack into his mouth. Jack groans, regrets the noise and winces as he bites his hand once more.
It’s kind of just instinct from here, Kent doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s got a pretty good idea of what’s making Jac+k feel good.
Jack’s hips buck up into Kent’s mouth, Kent gags.
“Oh fuck, Kenny, sorry!” Jack says.
Kent waves him off and bobs his mouth over Jack’s cock. The hand that Jack isn’t biting down on is firmly planted on Kent’s head. He tugs at Kent’s hair, the closer he gets, the harder he pulls, and it’s making Kent feel a certain kind of way. Kent comes off Jack’s dick with a pop, he looks up at him and smirks.
Kent’s grinding down into Jack’s sheets, the noises Jack’s making, the faces, it’s all going straight to his dick.
“Keep-- Oh!” Jack groans again when Kent bites down on the skin between his thigh. Kent sees his dick twitch. He runs his tongue up the side of Jack’s shaft and then takes the rest of Jack’s dick down his throat. It’s not long until he’s coming down Kent’s throat. It’s kind of gross, if Kent’s being honest, but god, Jack looks so hot in this moment that he wouldn’t even think to complain.
Jack grabs Kent by the shoulders and pulls him back up for another kiss. It only takes a few hard, capable tugs from Jack’s hand to make Kent come all over his stomach.
“Fuck,” Kent says.
Jack’s staring up at the ceiling, dumb and sleepy. He runs his hands through Kent’s hair again, slower this time, less urgently. He can tell that Jack’s trying to move his cowlick into place, trying to get it to stay in place. It’s a losing battle he’s fought before.
Jack and Kent hook up three more times before fate and a prescription pill bottle tears them apart. Once in the bed of Jack’s truck, once in Kent’s room, and once more time in Jack’s room. But it’s never as soft as that first time, and it’s never something they talk about after.
Everybody thinks they know what happens next. Kent gets drafted, Jack does not. The details of the OD, Jack’s time in rehab all hit the media eventually. They ask him about it in scrums. Polite, practiced questions asked with a tinge of regret. Everyone would rather talk about hockey. Editors need a headline. Kent gets it. Doesn’t mean he likes it.
Being a hotshot in the NHL is easy shit when it’s compared to the other monumental task that he has, getting over Jack Zimmerman. He calls him at least 30 times his first month in the NHL. Jack only answers once, but he doesn’t actually say anything. Kent just wants someone to talk to, someone to tell about the new bullshit he’s putting up with. Jack’s always understood in a way no one else does. It’s not like he’s going to confess a longstanding love for Jack, he was never going to do that.
Kent loved Jack but he knew that Jack couldn’t love him back. He doesn’t know if it was the pills or just who Jack is as a person that put that block up between them, but either way, Kent got over it when he was 16.
Vegas is fine. It’s distracting, which is what Kent needs. He needs hockey, and he needs distractions. His team, for all their shortcomings, are damn good on the ice. They push him to win the Calder in his rookie year. There’s one person he wants to talk to. He wants to show it to Jack, wants to fill it up with cheap beer and drink out of it with Jack. Wants to life it with Jack. Every trophy felt better when he was lifting it with Jack. Last year, they had this fantasy that they’d go to the same team, put up points like they had in junior and the NHL would have let them share the Calder the same way that they were going to share Stanley.
So when Kent wins with the Aces, of course he wants to show Jack. He knows where Jack is. It’s not like he’d been completely shut out. There were a couple texts here and there, Alicia calls more often than anyone else, and he reads the blogs. He knows Jack is at Samwell. Knows when that party that they throw every year is. So that’s when he picks his day with the cup to be. It’s Jack’s second year at Samwell, so he’s living in that death trap of a house. He shows up in a fancy rented car, with the cup in the back because that’s who he’s supposed to be now, right?
Some dude with the sickest flow Kent’s ever scene and a moustache straight out of the seventies is the first person to greet him.
“Brah!” He shouts, “You’re Kent fucking Parson!”
“So I’ve been told,” Kent says.
He’s trying to sound cooler than he is. A small girl with an undercut is standing behind moustache bro.
“I’m Lardo, that’s Shitty,” she says, her arms are crossed.
“Kent,” he says, even though they know.
“You any good a flip cup?” She asks.
“Oh, I kick ass at flip cup,” he says.
Kent lets himself get distracted by the party, he leaves the cup on the deck, no doubt the kids are taking pictures with it, he only really cares about one person knowing he has it. He hopes he’ll run into him organically but it doesn’t look like he’s actually at the party. Shitty heads upstairs and when he comes back, Jack’s behind him. He looks at Kent, there’s none of the warmth that they used to have. His eyes are just as piercing, but now it feels like he’s being studied rather than known.
“Miss me?” Kent bites his lip.
Jack shakes his head, smirking, “Nice to see you, Kenny.”
“Wanna see the cup?” He says.
“It was hard to miss,” Jack shakes his head, “Why are you here.”
“My day with the cup.”
“And you took it here?”
“Your the only one I felt like I wanted to share it with.”
“Come upstairs?” Jack says.
His room is exactly what Kent would have expected it to be. Books are littered all over the bed, no posters, just a picture of him and his mom and dad on his desk.
“History, huh?” Kent asks.
“Neat,” Kent says. He flips through one of the books sitting on Jack’s desk.
Jack walks up behind him.
“What do you want?” He says.
“I wanted to share it with you…” Kent trails off.
“Really? Or did you want to remind me of what I don’t have.”
“What? No. Dude. I just… always wanted to share the cup with you.”
“Did you ever consider that maybe I wouldn’t want you here.”
“I’m sorry. I can go,” he says.
“You’re already here,” Jack says.
“I didn’t think…”
“Course you didn’t.”
Kent knows that everything he has is because Jack doesn’t have it. The Aces, the Calder, the cup, all things that should be Jack’s, things that would be Jack’s if he hadn’t swallowed those fucking pills.
Jack’s kissing him before he can ask him to. Pushing him up against the wall, tilting his head back, pushing Kent, not harder than Kent can push back, which is even harder than before.
“Fuck me, Zimms,” Kent whispers.
Jack growls. Nips the side of Kent’s neck. Kent yelps. Lets out a small moan.
Jack pulls Kent onto the bed, he’s on his hands and knees above Kent. He kisses either side of his face. Kent’s hips buck up. They expertly strip off one another’s clothes. Jack’s hands know just how to pop the buttons of Kent’s flannel open so he can kiss his chest.
“D’you have…” Kent trails off, he’s not labouring under the illusion that Jack isn’t having sex with anyone else. It’s been more than a few years.
He nods, rolls over and pulls a bottle of lube and a condom out of the drawer.
He coats his fingers in lube and presses them against Kent. Kent hisses as Jack pushes his fingers into him. It’s not gentle, or kind, but both of them wants this very badly. Jack stretches him out, opens him up, still planting kisses on his back.
“Fuck Zimms,” Kent can already feel himself going limp under Jack.
He hears the condom wrapper and turns around to look at Jack. Jack is looking down.
Kent yelps into the pillow as Jack slowly but surely slides his cock into Kent. It feels good, they never did this when they were teenagers but Kent would be lying if he said he’s never done this.
Jack’s hands are big on Kent’s hips, he pulls him closer, Kent backs into him.
Kent just goes stupid. Jack’s hitting every spot that Kent needs him to hit and he’s doing everything he can not to cry out Jack’s name and tell him he loves him. Jack’s hand reaches around to jerk Kent off. Kent hisses again, but Jack keeps his hand there, his other hand grips his thigh so hard it might leave a bruise. He’s glad the season’s over because those marks would be hard to explain in the dressing room.
Jack finishes in the condom with a groan, the sensation is enough to send Kent over the edge, he comes sloppily, all over Jack’s bed. Two years ago he would have relentlessly apologized for messing up Jack’s expensive bedsheets but this Kent is different. This Kent is trying to be cool and aloof. This Kent hooks up with people and doesn’t call them back. This Kent goes to gay bars wearing sunglasses and a fake moustache, this Kent is writing the Aces record book with a pen that can only spell his name.
Kent grabs a washcloth for Jack and pulls his jeans back on. He does up the buttons slowly, sitting at the edge of Jack’s bed.
“It was good seeing you, Zimms,” Kent says.
Jack nods, Kent doesn’t know if he actually means it.
Jack doesn’t answer his phone for the next six months. He texts to congratulate Kent on being named captain and after that it’s radio silence.
There’s an endless list of hookups. Men that he hides from his teammates. There’s even an anonymous grindr profile for a couple months in the summer. Kent Parson is getting fucked but it’s not by Jack Zimmerman. He can deal with that. Not fucking Jack Zimmerman anymore, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss him like hell.
He tries one more time. Zimms is a free agent coming out of college, he’d be one hell of a player to have for the Aces, that’s what he tells the GMs when they ask why he wants Jack on his team so badly.
He shows up to the house party again. Throws his keys at some kid with a lacrosse t-shirt on and does the whole “kent parson” thing. Someone asks for an autograph, a tiny blonde twink asks for a selfie, Kent takes one happily. He has business to attend to.
“Hey Zimms,” he says.
It’s Kent now, not Kenny.
“Didja miss me.”
Jack maintains an air of pleasantness as he drags Kent up the stairs.
“What are you doing here?”
“Am I not allowed to visit?”
“You’ve never come without a reason.”
“Is wanting to see you not enough of a reason?”
Jack pulls him into his room. They both sit on the edge of Jack’s bed. Nether one of them dares to make a move.
“I wanted to catch up,” Kent whispers.
“Yeah,” Jack says.
He looks tired, like he has too much on his mind. Kent wonders if he’s sleeping enough.
“What’s your plan for next year.”
“Graduation,” Jack shrugs.
“Probably sign a contract somewhere.”
“Somewhere… you have no clue?”
“I mean… it could be Montreal, could be L.A. Okay?” There’s an edge to his voice, “I don’t know,” he sounds dejected now.
“What about Las Vegas?” Kent asks. It’s more vulnerable than he meant to make himself sound.
“I… I don’t know. Okay ?!”
Jack leans over and kisses him, holds him by the face, pulls him close, slips his tongue underneath of Kent’s. Kent’s hands, out of instinct more than anything start to hitch up his shirt.
“Pars--” He groans.
Kent starts to unbuckle Jack’s pants. Jack deepens the kiss.
“You and me,” Kent whispers, “It’d be just like in the Q,” he says hoping this will be what pushes him over the edge.
“-- Kenny… I can’t do this,” Jack pulls away just as quickly as he initiated the kiss.
“... Jack come on,” Kent’s hands are still on Jack’s thighs, Jack’s made no attempt to relocate them so Kent keeps them where they are.
“No, I--uh.” Jack stammers when Kent kisses his neck.
“Kenny--” Jack gives Kent a final shove.
Kent moves away.
“--Zimms, just fucking stop thinking for once and listen to me!” he puts his hand on Jack’s shoulders, “I’ll tell the GMs you’re on board and they can free up cap space and then you can be done with this shitty team. You and me,” it’s a promise to Kent.
He wants to promise that it can all go back to how it was. That’s what he wants.
“Get out,” Jack says.
He stands up, his voice is firm.
“Jack!” Kent says.
Kent and Jack rarely argued, but when they did they went at it. Neither of them was opposed to throwing a low blow, or at least that’s how it used to be. Jack’s pulling punches now.
“You can’t-- you don’t come to my fucking school unnanounced!”
“Because you shut me out!”
“--And corner me in my room!”
“I’m trying to help--”
“And expenct me to do whatever you want--”
“FUCK-- JACK!!” Kent finally explodes, he stands up, faces Jack, eye to eye.
“What do you want me to say?” His voice is biting harsh, “That I miss you? I miss you, Okay?” he can’t help the well of tears that sting the bottom of his eyes “... I miss you.”
Jack takes a step back, looks him over with those icy blue eyes that have turned to steel.
“You always. Say. That.”
Kent starts to burn with rage. He wants Jack. He thought he would get Jack. He told him he misses him, and what more could Jack possibly want from this.
“Huh. Well, shit, OKAY!” Kent raises his voice, “You know what, Zimmerman. You think you’re too fucked up to care about? That your not good enough? Everyone already knows what you are but it’s people like me who still care.”
And who the fuck is Jack to turn down the opportunity Kent’s giving him. He stuck his neck out in front of the GMS and Jack just wants to throw it away? When it could just as easily be just like old times, except this time it wouldn’t be Jack with the best equipment and shiny toys and connections, it would be Kent, and what’s so fucking wrong with that.
“You’re scared everyone else is going to find out you’re worthless, right?”
Jack’s face falls.
“Oh, don’t worry. Just give it a few seasons, Jack. Trust me.”
“G-get out of my room,” Jack’s voice is small. An angry but firm whisper.
And Kent doesn’t feel good about it. He’s imagined what he would say, the things he doesn’t really mean, the things he knows aren’t true, but the things he knows would cut Jack down in a second. It’s mean, and Kent doesn’t know why he expects it to work.
“Fine. Shut me out again,” he knows he sounds like a child.
“And stay away from my team.”
“Why? Afraid I’ll tell them something?” It’s his last card. The final thing he has over Jack Zimmerman.
Kent opens the door ready to storm down the stairs, but the kid is sitting in the middle of the hallway. He and Jack drop their eyes to focus on him. Kent takes his hat and puts it back on, clears his throat and turns away.
“Hey, well. Call me if you reconsider or whatever.” He won’t, “But good luck with the Falconers… I’m sure that’ll make your dad proud.”
And there it is. The lowest of low blows. Kent peels out of the laneway so fast you’d think someone was chasing him. He pulls over. Finally gives in to the tears stinging at his eyes.
Every awful thing he’s said to Jack plays on a loop in his head. He won’t forgive himself for this. He punches the side of his car so hard he leaves a dent. There goes the deposit. He doesn’t know how else to get Jack to see that what he’s offering him is legit, Kent feels sick to his stomach thinking about the things he just said, but he doesn't feel sorry for Jack. He feels sorry for himself. Jack seemed happy until he showed up, hanging out with his friends. His room finally seemed like it was his own. But isn't what Kent has to offer better? it’s a way out. A way back to the good ol days, why wouldn’t Jack want to be back there?