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He’d been dreading today. He knew it sounded bad — dreading one of his best friend’s wedding, real nice William — but he couldn’t help it. It’d been 3 months since they’d seen each other, he thought as he tied his tie. Ok, clarification. 3 months since they’d seen each other face to face.

So he has notifications on for her posts, big fucking deal. It was basically Kappy’s idea anyway. He’d joked at the end of the season that she’d likely post more pictures of him this summer than he would in a lifetime. So, for three months, Willy’s breath caught in his throat every time his phone buzzed. He got to see Kap, but he also had to see her, hear her ...

He tried to rationalize it. He missed his best friend. That’s it, that’s all. But as Pasta had pointed out over FaceTime, Willy didn’t have notifications on for anyone else — especially not anyone else’s girlfriends. “To be fair dickhead,” Willy had weakly argued, “your girlfriend doesn’t post you that often so it’s not like I’d need to follow her.” “And you don’t want to suck my dick as bad,” Pasta had responded with a smirk.

They texted on and off but Willy didn’t want to bother him. He knew he was busy. You would know, the voice in the back of his head sneered. Willy shook his head, hoping to shut up his subconscious or whatever that was. He knew how hockey worked — you leave each other in the summer, reunite in the fall. But why did it feel so much harder to leave Kap this year?

You know why, said the voice. That was true. Willy knew exactly why.

---

He’d woken up late that morning. He’d stayed up to watch the game the night before. His dad had told him not to watch, that it would just make everything harder, but Willy couldn’t stay away. He missed the team so much his chest ached. He missed Mo’s pregame talks, skating up the ice on Auston’s wing, even Babs’ ridiculous metaphors. But how he missed Kappy was different. He felt as if he’d lost an arm. Like a vital part of him was missing.

Groggy, he picked up his phone. There were a handful of notifications from Instagram, a missed call from his mom, and three texts from Kappy.

dreamt you signed

really sucked to wake up lol

miss you

How he managed to type, he had no idea. Hands shaking, vision blurring with tears Willy texted his agent.

I want to go home let’s get me home.

---

So he was dealing with this. Somewhat. Kind of. Or, according to Auston, he was “doing the complete opposite of handling it, you fucking moron.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be getting ready?” Auston asked, irritation visible through the screen.

“I am getting ready, thank you very much. Can’t you see that I’m dressed? God forbid I call my friend while getting ready for our friend’s wedding that you are conveniently missing. Some friend you are. I hope Zach refuses to ever get you a birthday present again.”

“Willy, you’re deflecting.”

“Well fuck Auston, how am I supposed to survive today? Did you know we’re driving over together? Kappy thought it would be a great idea considering we live in the same building. Me and him and her. What a fun time for me! And we’re definitely sitting together for the reception because why wouldn’t Zach sit us together -- we’re best friends don’t forget! Will she pronounce his name correctly once tonight? WHO KNOWS!”

“Well, you won’t have to ask them what they’ve gotten up to this summer since you already know. That’s a plus.”

“Are you even trying to help right now, Aus?”

Auston sighed, pity seeping into his expression. “I’ve told you what you should do, but you won’t listen. Instead, you've been sulking over his girlfriend’s Instagram all summer. You know I care about you and want you to be happy but I can’t keep having the same conversation with you. You’re the one causing yourself the most pain right now Willy,” he concluded sadly.

Willy opened his mouth to reply when he heard his buzzer: If you don’t hurry up I’m telling everyone how long you spend doing your hair. We’re going to miss out on the good seats.

“Your carriage awaits,” Auston smirked. Willy knew he was right. He was always right. Nobody had forced him to follow her, to turn on notifications. He was torturing himself. And what for?

“Uh, thanks for listening to me ... I mean I uh, really appreciate it.” Willy mumbled, cheeks flushing.

“It’s either listen to you bitch or have Mitchy tell me about his new suit for the third time, so you win bud. Go enjoy the wedding.”

---

The wedding had been beautiful. The way Zach and Alannah looked at one another, Willy felt a dull ache in his chest. He wanted that. He craved that. Willy had tried to catch Kappy’s eye several times throughout the ceremony, but Kappy only had eyes for her. Whispering in her ear, playing with her hair, his hand gripped on her thigh. Willy has shifted in his chair, focusing very hard on the flower arrangement at the front of the room. A wedding didn’t seem like the appropriate place to be imaging Kappy’s hands gripping his thigh, playing with his hair.

Thank god there’s an open bar, he thought to himself, dreading the night ahead of him. He nervously ran his hand through his hair as he waited for his next drink. What the fuck was he doing? He shook his head as he took a shot, trying to clear his thoughts. Kappy was his friend … he should be happy for him, not virtually stalking him through his girlfriend’s Instagram. How embarrassing was that? Was he some 13-year-old girl, pining over her crush? Liquid courage coursing through his veins, he pulled out his phone to turn off those fucking post notifications. He’d barely gotten his phone out of his pocket, however, when he felt a large hand clap his back.

“What a fuckin’ wedding, eh?”

“Hey Kap,” Willy replied, rolling his eyes. Of fucking course, he sighed. Kappy’s eyes were sparkling, joy shining out of his pores. He was the sun and Willy couldn’t look away.

“Are you doing shots by yourself bud? Fuck, we really should’ve found you a date. Although a fuckin’ stud like you, you’ll bag a bridesmaid in no time.” Kappy pulled Willy in close, ruffling his hair as he spoke, and the ache in Willy’s chest returned. He had no idea what he did to Willy, how his heart was threatening to burst out his chest, and how Willy would rather die than leave the warmth of his touch.

Kappy was smirking as he pushed another drink in Willy’s hand, “for real though man, how are you single? I saw your stories from Mykonos. They’re missing out bro.” Did he just fucking wink at me? Willy thought to himself. He glanced down at his drink. It was nowhere near strong enough for this bullshit.

“Coming from you? Fuck off. I think I’ve seen more of your abs over the summer than my own thanks to her,” Willy joked, jerking his head towards Kappy’s girlfriend. He was thankful she was giving them some space. He missed time alone with Kappy.

“Ha, yeah I guess she posts a lot,” Kappy replied bashfully, running a hand through his hair. Fuck, Willy loved his hair. He’d spent long nights wondering what it’d be like to feel those curls in his fingers, how soft it would be, what noises Kappy would make if he were to tangle his fingers in there and pull. Willy took a swig of his drink, desperately needing to change the topic. As he went to open his mouth though, he found he couldn’t speak. Kappy was staring at him so tenderly, the world seemed to stop moving around them.

“I’ve really missed you this summer,” Kappy said, almost under his breath. He had yet to break eye contact with Willy as if he was trying to communicate something his lips weren’t saying. Willy wanted so desperately to break the contact. He felt exposed like all his hidden desires were flashing across his face on display for anyone to read. Any second now, Willy was sure he’d see understanding flash across Kappy’s face, that he’d pull away ever so slightly, and Willy’s world would come crashing down but Kappy hadn’t moved. If anything his gaze had intensified. Willy felt himself shrink beneath Kappy’s gaze; he was so fucking gone for him.

Kappy finally broke his gaze after what seemed like minutes, although Willy knew it couldn’t have been more than a few seconds. He felt his body relax and realized he’d been holding his breath the entire time Kappy had been looking at him. He took a frantic gulp from his drink just for something to do. He needed to get out of there. Splash some water on his face or something. If Kappy couldn’t read what was so obviously plastered across his face before, he would now for sure. Willy had tried to keep everything inside, pushed down, but eye contact was going to be the thing that pushed him over the edge? This was all so fucking embarrassing. But, before he could make his escape Kappy snaked his arms around his waist. “I love this song,” he whispered in Willy’s ear as he maneuvered him towards the dance floor. His breath smelled like mint and gin and all Willy wanted to do was taste. Shivers ran through him as he nodded, throat refusing to work for a second time. God, you’re such a mess, the voice in his head sneered but Willy couldn’t care less.

Kappy had his arms wrapped around him, swaying to the music. Willy had never heard this song before, but suddenly wished it’s all he’d hear for the rest of his life. He wrapped his arms around Kappy and began to sway with him. He could feel Kappy’s hand gripping his shoulder; protective, possessive. He felt Kappy’s hair tickling his cheek, his breath hot against his throat. He felt Kappy’s leg pressed against his own, warmth spreading through him. Willy closed his eyes as Kappy whispered into his ear, “you think everyone’s looking at us? We’re probably the best looking couple here.” He felt Kappy laugh against him — the exhale of breath against his cheek, the vibration against his chest. And then, as quickly as it began, it was over. Kappy pulled back, laughter lighting up his face. Willy couldn’t help but break out into an ear-to-ear grin.

Maybe tonight wouldn’t be that bad.

—-

Willy wasn’t even sure how he’d made it home. What a fuckin' wedding. His bed had never felt more comfortable; exhausted was an understatement. Forcing himself to drink some water before he passed out, Willy scrolled through his notifications. He’d barely looked at his phone that night, having too much fun drinking and dancing with some of his best friends in the world. Kappy had left just after midnight, slipping away with his girlfriend. He’d found Willy before he left — holding onto Mitch’s discarded shirt as the owner violently threw up — and gave him a quick one-armed hug.

“Have a good night eh, keep the babysitting to a minimum,” Kappy laughed, head nodding in Mitch’s direction.

“I’ll do my best. Can’t leave this one alone though, you know that,” Willy smirked. Exhaustion was beginning to seep into Kappy’s face, but his eyes still shone as they had earlier at the reception. A familiar tightness spread through Willy’s chest as he looked into his face. He could do this. He could get through this.

Kappy dragged his eyes off Willy, glancing towards the sound of puking.

“Feel better Mitchy!”

“Puke and rally baby!” Mitch cheered into the toilet bowl. Kappy and Willy caught each other’s eyes and burst out laughing.

Willy was barely keeping his eyes open as he scrolled checked his messages. Why’d Auston text him so many times? he wondered.

u & kap look like you had fun

did u tell him!!! fuckin looks like it

heart eyes motherfuckkerrrrr

Willy sat up, fully awake. What was Auston talking about? He hadn’t been tagged in anything. Did someone send Auston a video? His heart rate was accelerating as he scrolled through his notifications and then his palms went cold. She had her phone out while he and Kappy were dancing, he remembered. And there it was, a fucking notification that she had posted a story. Why hadn’t he turned those off when he had the chance?

Willy took a deep breath and tapped the alert.

He had to watch it three times just to comprehend what he was seeing. There they were in nearly matching suits, draped over each other, swaying to some sappy fucking country song. He watched it again. Watched Kappy grasping his shoulder, using his forearm to press Willy against him. Watched him whisper in Willy’s ear, laughing, before practically licking his neck. Watched his face light up as Willy turned to look at him. He watched it again. And again. And again. He didn’t know when he’d started crying, but the tears had started dripping from his chin. He watched it again. Watched as Kappy looked so at peace holding Willy close. As if nothing else in the world mattered. He watched and watched and watched.

But then he listened.

He heard the music and the chatter of the crowd around them, but her laugh; her laugh cut to his core. Broke apart whatever was left of his heart. Her laugh was his pull back to reality. A reminder that Kappy was in a relationship with her, not Willy. He had gone home with her. He had held her hand throughout the ceremony. Played with her hair. It didn’t matter how Kappy had looked in the video. He was hers; not Willy’s.

Willy swept a hand across his face in an attempt to wipe away the tears that blurred his vision. He felt numb. He felt broken. He needed to get some fucking sleep. He needed to deal with all of this but first, he needed to get some sleep. Willy turned on his alarms and texted Auston he’d call him in the morning. As he went to close Instagram, he felt a pang in his gut. Whoever the fuck invented autoplay deserves to burn in hell, Willy thought to himself as a miniature Willy and Kappy swayed on his screen. He knew he should just put his phone down, stop torturing himself, but he couldn’t. He didn’t want to let go of the William in that video — so happy, so joyful, just so fucking in love.

It was as if his brain switched onto autopilot. Before he knew what he was doing, he’d pulled up the screen recorder, saving the video for later. This late-night decision was a future Willy problem. As he wiped the last of the tears from his face, Willy pulled up her account and turned off the post notifications.

Two steps backwards, one step forward? Auston was right. He was a fucking moron.