It’s one of the best ways to start the summer, a barbeque at Sharpy’s house. Most of the team are there, and Jonny spends the first part of the afternoon sipping on beers and chatting with the guys in the kitchen. The children are running riot in the garden, and of course Kaner is playing with Sharpy’s girls.
Eventually, Jonny wanders out into the garden, and whilst most of the kids are playing some kind of tag, Patrick is sat with Maddy Sharp, amongst the flowers, and as Jonny steps closer, he can see that Patrick has a wreath of daisy nestled in amongst his perfect blonde curls. Jonny’s struck breathless, the sunlight is dancing in Pat’s hair, making it paler, more gold, the flowers stir something inside him, and for a moment he’s struck by the image of a pair of double doors opening at the opposite end of an aisle to him, turning to see Patrick walk in, a pale suit, those flowers in his hair. Most of the time Jonny ignores how he feels about Patrick, the way he wants him, he’s resigned to having him as a best friend, but that moment, those flowers in his curls, Jonny wants him as his husband.
He’s so lost in thought, that he doesn’t notice Sharpy stood beside him, chatting away to his daughter.
“Uncle Jonny,” Maddy grins, “Don’t you think Uncle Peeks is the prettiest princess?”
Jonny’s mouth moves, but there’s no sound coming out, he can’t make any words happen.
Sharpy’s elbow finds the gap between his ribs, “Go on Tazer,” he laughs, “Tell Peeks he’s the prettiest princess”
Jonny shakes his head, trying to get his mouth to make words, any words. “Sure Maddy, Uncle Peeks is the prettiest bride… “ His brain suddenly catches up with exactly what his mouth just said, “erm… princess.” He corrects himself quickly. Jonny’s never been more thankful for his tan to hide the flush that he knows has spread as far as his ears. “The prettiest princess.” He shakes his head, and pulls his eyes away, he needs to go and find another drink. Pronto.
He almost thinks he’s gotten away with it, until Sharpy nudges him quietly a few moments later. “Prettiest bride huh?”
“Oh fuck off.” Jonny rolls his eyes, “Brides wear flower crowns with more regularity than princesses do.”
Sharpy hums thoughtfully, “Nothing to do with your badly hidden desire to bone peeks then?”
“I don’t want to bone peeks.” Jonny snaps, a little too suddenly, and perhaps a little too honestly. It’s true after all, just sleeping with him is unimaginable to Jonny.
“No?” Sharpy reaches out to ruffle his hair affectionately, “You just want to marry him then.”
“I hate you.” Jonny glares at him. “You’re my least favourite Patrick.”
Sharpy snorts into his beer, “That’s not a fucking insult Tazer,” he smirks knowingly, “I could be your second favourite person in the world and that would still be true.”
“I’d rank Bisson above you too.” Jonny says, just to be spiteful.
“It’s fine Jonny,” It’s impossible to ruffle Sharpy’s feathers, “We know all of us lesser Pats pale in comparison to your future bride.”
“Will you fucking drop it.” Jonny can feel the blush coming back. He glances around desperately for someone else who needs to talk to him urgently, someone who isn’t called Patrick.
He should have known that Sharpy wouldn’t drop it, and later that afternoon when the three of them are sprawled on the lawn, the damn daisy chain still adorning Patrick’s curls, Sharpy turns to him. “Go on then Taze, Shag, Marry, Throw off a Cliff… Me, Shawzy and Peeks.”
“I’m throwing you off the fucking cliff for asking that question.”
“Ok, then it’s shag and marry for Shawzy and Peeks.”
Jonny rolls his eyes, “Shag Shawzy, Marry Peeks I guess.”
“Dude no!” Kaner objects loudly, “Like, we’re terrible together. We hated rooming together. Why would you marry me?”
Jonny shrugs, “We’re rich enough we could be married and have our own houses.”
Patrick wrinkles his nose in disgust, “Not fucking likely babe, if you’re marrying me, you’re spending time with me, and I want a date night every two weeks.” He pauses for a moment, thinking, “Weekly in the off season.”
“Can I change my answer,” Jonny grins at Sharpy, “I didn’t realise Peeks was going to be this high maintenance.”
“You’d rather have the mutt?” Sharp waves a hand over to where Andy is currently chasing the kids round the garden, laughing like a maniac. The other adults had got tired of playing chase hours ago…. Shawzy never gets tired.
“Puppy training classes are a thing right?”
It’s at that point that Duncs and Seabs come and sit with them, and Sharpy is once again struck with inspiration.
“Shag, marry, throw off a cliff, Duncs, Seabs and Kaner.”
“I can’t marry Duncs or Seabs!” Jonny laughs in outrage. “Whichever one I married would kill me for marrying the other one.”
“That’s why you get to throw one off the cliff.”
“Naw,” Jonny grins at him, “I’m throwing Peeks off the cliff.”
Patrick rolls back, clutching his heart in mock heartbreak. “You wound me Taze,” he laughs.
“Peeks then!” Sharpy turns his attention on Patrick, “Same question.”
“I mean, I’m gonna have to cliff Duncs,” He shrugs apologetically, “Sorry babe, but I feel out of you and Seabs, only Seabs is gonna be man enough for me.” He leers at his other teammate.
“So you’re marrying Taze then.” Sharpy asks, like it’s a forgone conclusion.
“Obviously.” Kaner grins at him, “I mean, just for the in-laws man, Andree loves me already, plus Davey would be a cool brother in law to have.”
Jonny nods, bizarrely, he actually gets on quite well with his brother, “I feel in the in-laws stakes, you definitely come out on top there.” He sticks his tongue out at Kaner.
“Fuck you Jonny,” Patrick shakes his head, “My sisters are awesome.”
“Your sisters are terrifying.” Jonny corrects him. He’s suddenly struck with a memory from when they were much younger, “Remember that time when Jackie tried to convince Erica to marry me just so I could be an extra big brother for her.”
Peeks starts to giggle, “God that was funny.” He grins at Jonny, “My mum was totally on board though, she totally wants you as a son-in-law.”
Jonny shakes his head, “I think everyone was totally on board with that, except you, me and Erica.”
Patrick shakes his head, “Erica was more OK with it than she’d have liked to admit at the time.”
Jonny’s eyes widen, “No way!”
“Like, she’s totally not into you anymore, but way back then, yeah.” Patrick grins at him.
“Well,” Sharpy interjects, “I mean, if Mrs K wants Jonny as a son-in-law, you’re totally going to have to marry him Peeks.”
“Why are you so obsessed with me and Jonny getting married?” Kaner shakes his head at Sharpy.
The older Patrick shrugs, “I can just totally picture it.”
“He’s not wrong.” Seabs added, “Like, I can see you guys getting married.”
“You’d probably wear a white suit and everything.” Sharpy teased.
“I would not!” Pat objected, glaring sullenly, “I’d wear pale grey linen and look fabulous.”
Duncs snorts with laughter, “I can’t believe you’ve already planned what the fuck you’d wear during your gay wedding with Tazer.”
This time, it’s Patrick’s turn to go bright red, and he’s got no tan to hide it – his pale skin flushing all the way up to the daisy crown, that he still hasn’t taken off. “I’m just a fast thinker.” He lies.
“What’s Jonny wearing?” Sharpy asks, still stirring, as always.
Patrick grins, “A suit patterned in stars and stripes, obviously – he’s becoming an honourary American.”
“Fuck you!” Jonny points at him outraged, “You’re becoming an honourary Canadian.”
“That’s a point,” Sharpy looked like he was considering it, “I mean, would you get married in Buffalo or Winterpeg?”
Jonny and Patrick glare at each other for a moment, eyes narrowing in disagreement, before Kaner suddenly breaks out into a grin. “On the shores of lake Eeri, but the Canada side…”
Jonny’s eyebrows go up in surprise, “Wow, that’s….” he’s suddenly lost for words. He’d expected Patrick to fight ruthlessly for getting married on American soil, but on the shores of the great lake that Kaner grew up next to, in Jonny’s country – it’s beyond perfect.
“That’s actually kind of perfect.” Seabs stares at him in amazement.
Patrick just shrugs, “What can I say, I’m a genius.”
It’s at that moment, Shawzy flops down next to them, finally having run out of steam for playing tag with the kids. Maddy follows him, collapsing into Patrick’s lap.
“What’re you a genius for?” Shawzy asks him.
“Wedding planning.” Patrick shrugs. “Apparently we’re planning mine and Jonny’s wedding.”
“You’re getting MARRIED?” Maddy clasps her hands to her face in joy.
“Not really Mads,” Patrick is quick to assure her. “We’re just being silly.”
“Oh,” Her little face falls, “That’s a shame.” At the confused faces she continues, “Alicia in my class got to be a bridesmaid because her uncle got married, and I’ve never even been a bridesmaid not ever in my whole entire life.” Her bottom lip quivers slightly.
Sharpy, long immune to the trembling bottom lip, snorts with laughter. “Look at his face.” He crows to Shawzy, “Peeks is genuinely considering marrying Tazer, just so as to not upset my child.”
Patrick glares at him – he’d only considered it for half a second.
“I promise you.” Tazer speaks up, “That if Peeks and I ever got married, we’d let you be the bridesmaid.”
Patrick sighs, “I’d probably have to have like a million bridesmaids.”
Jonny nods, “All the sisters, Maddy and Sadie, plus if any of your sisters have kids by then.”
“And then if David has any.” Peeks adds.
Jonny shrugs, “Biggest wedding party ever.”
“What colour will my dress be?” Maddy asks, twirling one of Pat’s curls around her finger.
“Erm…” Peeks looks desperately at Jonny, hoping for inspiration.
“Red, obviously.” Jonny shrugs, no way they’re getting married in anything other than team colours.
“Only if our first dance is Chelsea Dagger.” Patrick grins.
Jonny starts to giggle, “Heck yeah!”
Later, when the sun has gone down and the children are being put to bed, Jonny surprises himself by bringing it up himself – perhaps it’s the beers talking, he’s been drinking pretty steadily since noon. “It is problematic though, Marrying you.”
“Yeah?” Patrick looks up at him through pale blonde eyelashes.
Jonny nods. “Going to have to rethink my best man plan.”
“Awww,” Patrick clutches his hands to his heart, “I’m touched, that I’d be your best man, if you weren’t totally marrying me.”
“Eh.” Jonny shrugs, “It’s cool, I’ll ask TJ.”
Kaner’s eyes go wide with outrage, “Like fuck are you asking Broshie. You can ask David.”
“It’s my best man!” Jonny laughs, loving how passionate Kaner’s being about this.
“And it’s my wedding.” Kaner counters back, “And I’m not having TJ fucking Oshie standing there at the altar with me.”
Duncs is literally rolling on the grass, clutching his side, Seabs has had to put his beer down for fear of spilling it through all of the giggles.
“You are such a bridezilla.” Sharpy teases, poking Kaner affectionately in the cheek.
“Fine.” Patrick pouts. “Broshie can be an usher.” He sticks his tongue out at Jonny. “See, I can compromise.”
“That’s what you think,” Jonny grins at him, “I haven’t even started on the flowers yet.”
That makes them both crack up laughing, like they’d either of them would ever care about the flowers.
“I like the way Peeks just dropped ‘altar’ all casual there,” Sharpy chirped, “Planning a church wedding are we Peek-a-boo?”
“Obviously,” Jonny speaks for both of them, “It’s not like our mothers would let us get away with just having a civil ceremony.”
Patrick looks over at Jonny and they share a moment, “That’s a fight just not worth having babe.”
“Exactly,” Jonny holds out his fist, and Patrick bumps their knuckles gently together.
“So,” Sharpy starts counting points off on his fingers, “Canada church wedding, but on Lake Erie, Peeks is wearing a pale grey suit, Jonny’s wearing…”
“…a dark grey suit.” Jonny interrupts him, before they can start designing him a monstrosity based on the American flag.
“I like that,” Shawzy nods approvingly, “Like matching, but tonally.”
“The bridesmaids are in red,” Sharpy continues, “And include my girls, and Pat’s sisters. Davey’s best man, and Oshie is an Usher, and the first dance is to Chelsea Dagger. This is literally more planning than I did for my wedding,”
“I’m not surprised.” Kaner grins at him, “If I were Abi, I wouldn’t let you plan a wedding either.”
The woman in question swans over to them, having finished coaxing the children into bed, “I’m incredible at wedding planning,” she grins at him. “Who’s wedding are we planning?”
It’s just the core crew left eventually, too many beers in to drive home, dividing up spare rooms and sofas between them.
“Jonny can share my room,” Patrick waves his arm magnanimously. “I’m used to his weird now.”
“Woah,” Sharpy holds up a hand, “Are we sure we’re allowing that, I mean, you guys aren’t married yet, do you get to share a bed?”
Jonny waves his middle finger at the older man, “Fuck you.” He laughs, “Peeks doesn’t have any virtue for me to ruin.”
It takes far too much giggling and stumbling to get their teeth brushed and strip down, climbing into their usual sides of the bed. Jonny waits until Pat’s safely in bed before turning out the light, it’s not that they do this a lot, but they have a routine.
“Our wedding would be awesome.” Jonny isn’t sure why he says it, except he’s a little tipsy, and it’s true.
“Yeah.” Even in the dark he can hear the smile in Kaner’s voice, “Like, I’m a little bit sad it’s not actually going to happen now.”
For a moment, there’s nothing, only the sound of their breathing, they’re both on their backs, staring up at the ceiling, not looking at each other, not touching, but they’re breathing in sync with each other. Darkness breeds honesty, that’s Jonny’s only excuse. “It could.” He says softly, barely audible.
Patrick lets out a soft huff of laughter, “That’s the shittiest proposal ever Jon,” he rolls over onto his side, propping his head up on his hand so he can gaze at Jonny’s face. “Ask me properly.”
Jonny can feel the blush rising again, but this time he doesn’t hate it. “I don’t have a ring.” He mumbles, refusing to meet Pat’s eyes.
Patrick laughs, rolling back over onto his back. Then, he reaches up, and takes his flower crown off his head, disentangling one of the daisies, he twists it round into a loop, and then hands it over.
“For real?” Jonny asks, staring at the looped flower in his hand.
Pat shrugs, “Yeah.” He says softly. “For real.”
He should take a moment to think about it, but it’s Pat, who’s been at his side for years now, it’s Kaner, who’s one half of him already. He rolls out of bed, and wanders round to the opposite side, before dropping down on one knee, holding out the flower ring. “Marry me Peeks.”
Patrick’s sat up in bed, and he grins. “Yeah.” He holds out his hand, letting Jonny slip the ring onto his finger. “Yes.” He leans forward so his forehead presses against Jonny’s. “Yes.” He repeats.
Jonny takes a moment, just breathing the same air as him, as close as if they were kissing, something they’ve never done. The absurdity of it strikes him, and he laughs a little and pulls back.
Jonny grins at him, “It’s funny, I’ve asked you to marry me before we’ve even had our first kiss.”
“Well,” Patrick holds out his arms, “You’d best come fix that then.”
Jonny climbs up into the bed, onto Pat’s lap, and fits their lips together – it’s like coming home.