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"Don't take anything too seriously," Carey says, their last night in Montreal. PK’s spread out next to him on Carey's bed, legs spread wide still from Carey trying to fuck him through the mattress. He'd known that was coming. Losing in OT of game seven, with Nathan Horton of all the fucking people to bury the game winner. PK had known Carey wasn't going to be gentle and to be honest, he'd wanted it. Maybe he didn't have as much to prove as Carey, but he had enough that losing to the Bruins in seven was like salt in a wound he hadn't known he had.

"Huh?" he asks stupidly, trying to turn onto his side so he could look at Carey.

Carey keeps staring at his ceiling, frowning. "Everything," he clarifies, though it didn't make it very clear at all. "You can't take it seriously, can't let it in. It doesn't mean anything."

PK keeps staring, trying to make this into something besides Carey breaking up with him, or whatever it was called when two people hooked up and fucked a lot but never went on dates and one of them wants to end it before the other is anywhere even close to ready. "Yeah," he says, because he couldn't figure out what else to say. "Of course."

"Good," Carey says and turns over onto his side so he's facing away from PK. Ordinarily, PK would shove in against him, try to be the big spoon. He's not sure if he's supposed to now though, so he turns over onto his back and tries not to feel as disappointed about this as he is about getting bounced out of the playoffs.

Carey texts him from BC. He takes a picture of some kids smoking pot outside of the airport in Vancouver and PK doesn't know what to do with it. When he thinks of Carey and pot, he thinks about getting high and riding Carey until both their legs were shaking. He thinks about how embarrassed he was the next day, when it felt like he was skating through syrup and Martin yelled at him about his conditioning.

"Is he saying the legs feed the wolf in French?" PK asked Carey between sucking down water. Carey had just laughed at him, slapping his ass while he skated back to the goal. It had hurt, but PK hadn't minded.

Two weeks later, Carey sends him another picture of what PK knows is his backyard. It's set up for Carey's roping, PK can tell that much. His rope or whatever is draped over some practice dummies and it's definitely his real rope, bright green and highly visible, not the one he keeps mostly for looks back in Montreal.

"How does this even work?" He'd asked, frowning at how much he was failing at roping the lamp in Carey's room. He wasn't even sure he was swinging the rope right.

"Like this," Carey said, coming up behind him. He pressed along his back, putting his hand over PK's on the rope, adjusting his grip. He showed him how to rotate his wrist, swing the rope in his hand and this time, when PK let it go, he actually managed to throw the rope around the lamp.

"Thanks, Carey," PK said, turning his head to grin at him. Carey had just smiled.

"You could tie me up if you want," PK told him later, when they were in Carey's bed and Carey was leaning against the wall, running the rope through his hands.

"It's the wrong kind of rope," Carey had said, which wasn't really a no. "It'll hurt."

PK shrugged. "I don't mind," he said, reaching out to run his fingers over the rough surface of the rope. His hand sweeps across Carey's in the process and Carey grabs it, dropping the rope. Carey doesn't tie him up, instead he pins PK's wrists against the bed and fucks him so deep PK can't do even groan properly, just pant against Carey's skin and try to spread his legs a little further.

PK gets wasted the night Bruins win the Cup. He'd known it was coming. He'd watched Marshy punch Sedin over and over again without Sedin even bothering to get pissed and knew, with a sick feeling in his gut, that there was no way the Canucks would win it in seven. He'd watched anyway and got completely shitfaced.

Carey texted him a picture that night, of the sticky surface of some bar out in BC with row after row of empty beer bottles and shot glasses lined up. Something about being this drunk let's him reply to this one.

u didnt drink em all urself, rite? he texts back. He gets a blurry, clearly self-taken picture of Carey flipping off the camera. PK's never seen Carey as drunk as he is in that picture. Even in the low-quality blur of a cell phone camera, Carey looks visibly wrecked.

hve 1 4 m2 he texts him back, fingers clumsy against his cell screen. He goes back to drinking with his buddies and little brother, trying not to think about how warm Carey would be right now, sloppy and loose-limbed like Carey so rarely is. If he was with Carey & they hadn't broken up or whatever, they could be fucking in the bathroom of whatever dive bar Carey was drinking at. He'd sat next to his little brother, ordered him a mother beer and tried to ignore how hard just thinking about it got him.

Carey keeps texting him after that, sending him pictures of his strength and conditioning coach during the week and his horse on the weekend. PK doesn't know what it means, but Carey keeps doing it, so he texts back. He sends him a picture of his brother in some goalie pads, during their summer game of shinny and a picture of his sister with the new baby. It's awkward and PK doesn't know what's okay and what isn't and that pisses him off, so he just sends Carey pictures of whatever. He spends half a day sending pictures to Carey of almost every stupid thing he sees: street signs, the one-legged dog he runs into in the park, the kids in his parent's neighborhood having a water fight.

Carey sends him a picture of a flyer for a rodeo in Alberta and PK recognizes it as a city Carey's talked about before. He told PK about the rodeo he participated in there, recounted how hard it was and how badly he did. PK doesn’t really think anything of it until he gets another picture of what looks like a program for the rodeo with Carey’s name on it. According to the flyer, the rodeo is set for the weekend.

His plane lands a little after noon the next day and he feels kind of dumb when he realizes he has no idea where to go now. where r u stayng he texts to Carey.

? Carey texts back.

4 the rodeo? PK responds.

Carey sends him the address, including his room number and PK passes along the address to a cabbie. He’s not nervous. It would be stupid to be nervous about seeing fucking Carey. It doesn’t really stop him from shifting from one foot to the other while waiting outside of Carey’s room though.

“Hey,” Carey says when he answers. He opens his door and PK steps inside, smiling at him.

“Sweet digs you got here, Carey,” he says, looking around. It’s a motel room, plain and kind of shitty. He’s sure Carey loves it.

“I keep it low-key when I’m roping,” Carey says and PK laughs at him.

They go out for dinner and Carey says he can help him carry his gear around the rodeo the next day, if he wants. PK’s grateful for any reason for him to be here, even a stupid one like that, so he nods and eats his plain chicken. He hates sticking to his diet but Carey’s on a similar one, so he couldn’t steal any of his food even if that was okay.

There are two queen beds in Carey’s room and PK threw his bag on the other one when he showed up out of habit. Now that they’re back at the motel and Carey’s making noises about heading to bed and having to get up early, PK sort of awkwardly looks at his bag and the bed it’s on, frowning.

“Something wrong, PK?” Carey asks when he gets out of the bathroom. He’s wearing boxers and some sleep shorts, no shirt, smells like mint and PK wants to follow him to bed and spend an hour making out with him. Carey crosses his arms when PK doesn’t say anything and PK just shakes his head.

“No,” he says, grabbing his shaving kit and heading for the bathroom. “No, I’m good.” When he gets out of the bathroom, the room is dark and Carey’s laying on his side in one of the beds. PK lays down in the unoccupied one, laying down on his back and tries not to listen to Carey’s breathing.

He has no idea what he’s doing here.

In the morning, he and Carey eat breakfast with some of the other guys from the rodeo. Carey’s easy enough with them, he shares some of their jokes and takes part in everyone laughing at PK for not knowing anything about steer or horses and for leaving his plaid at home.

Carey and his roping partner win and PK knows enough about the rules to know that they had a really good run. Sure, it helps that a couple of the other teams jumped the barrier, but still, Carey was good. He was fast and everyone on the sidelines with him were cheering really hard once their run was over, so that has to mean something good.

“So,” PK says, when Carey makes his way over to him in the bar. “Everyone tells me you were pretty good. So, congratulations, I guess.”

Carey smiles and rakes along pull on his beer. “Ease up on the praise, PK. Can’t rope with my head swelled this big,” he says, voice as flat as possible.

PK laughs. “Like you need to hear about how good you did from a Southern Ontario boy,” PK answers, poking Carey’s arm. It’s a familiar jab, one of Carey’s favorite insults to throw at him because in Carey’s head, being from Ontario is some sort of terrible burden PK has to bear. It never fails to make PK laugh.

“I could do with hearing it from you,” Carey says. He’s leaning into PK’s side and PK can see that he’s had enough to drink that the hair on his forehead and temples are already dark with sweat.

“You were very, very good,” PK tells him, trying to ignore what having Carey this close does to him.

“Yeah?” Carey asks and PK knows that tone, knows the look on his face. He recognizes it but he thought they weren’t doing this anymore. Carey had said- “Want to get out of here?” Carey asks, interrupting his thoughts.

PK nods and they leave together, heading back to Carey’s motel room. Carey pushes him down onto his bed when they get there and starts tugging PK’s shirt off and his flies open. He helps Carey pull his jeans down, kicking them away and tries to pull Carey on top of him. Carey doesn’t go with it though, instead he pulls away, leans down to press his mouth against PK’s stomach. He feels Carey’s mouth through the thin fabric of his underwear, wet-hot mouth right over his dick and then Carey’s pulling them down.

“Carey,” he says and Carey doesn’t even look up, just closes his mouth around PK’s dick and starts sucking. Of everything PK was expecting tonight, this wasn’t it. He thought this was going to be celebrating Carey’s victory, not Carey’s tongue doing that thing that PK fucking loves over the head of his dick, sliding his thumb back behind his balls.

Carey pulls off just enough to scrape his teeth lightly over the head of PK’s dick before going back down, sucking hard and PK’s hips buck, of their own accord up into it. He doesn’t stop him, doesn’t hold PK’s hips down or punch him in the thigh or anything. Carey just takes it, opening his mouth wide around him and letting his thumb press against PK’s hole, dry, chapped skin catching against his rim.

It’s been a while. It’s been the entire summer because PK didn’t feel like finding someone else to fuck back home so he doesn’t feel all that embarrassed by how quickly he’s coming. He does feel bad for not warning Carey first, but Carey doesn’t seem to mind. He keeps his eyes closed and swallows, even though Carey doesn’t really like to swallow, before opening his eyes.

“Wow,” PK says, a little breathless. He reaches down, tangles his hand in Carey’s hair and Carey pulls off with a little smile. He’s still fully dressed

“Better?” he asks and PK frowns.

“Huh?” he asks, confused.

“Whatever you’re pissed about,” Carey says, rolling onto his back and then sitting up. He pulls his shirt off and PK has to concentrate despite being faced with the expanse of Carey’s bare back. It’s broad and his skin is dark, probably from being outside so much but Carey said something stupid, so PK looks at his face.

“I’m not pissed,” he says, because he’s handling them breaking up or whatever really well. Carey looks back over his shoulder at him and rolls his eyes. “I’m not,” PK insists. “I’m... I’m really great about all of this. I just came so we could hang out, you know, be buddies.”

“You’re pissed at me and you have been all summer, PK,” Carey tells him. “Otherwise I wouldn’t have had to work so hard to get you to text me back.”

“I needed-” now it’s his turn to roll his eyes. “I just needed to think. I wasn’t ready for everything to be over and then it was. It was weird to still be talking to you so much because that’s just not how this all usually happens for me.”

“How what happens for you?” Carey asks and he looks really confused.

“I never really had to go through the awkward “I don’t want to fuck you anymore” phase,” PK explains. “Usually it’s been mutual and both of us just sort of... stopped.”

“Wait, when did we stop fucking?” Carey asks and now it’s PK’s turn to look confused.

“Back in Montreal?” he reminds him. “We fucked and then you said we were done and then we both left. Did you fall off a horse or something? This all happened less than two months ago, Carey.”

“I never said we were done,” Carey says, eyes narrowed. “I wouldn’t say that.”

“We were talking, afterward and you said-”

“Wait!” Carey says, holding up his hand. “Is this about... is this about what I told you about Montreal and how you shouldn’t listen to what anyone says?”


“I told you not to take it seriously, not to think it mattered what everyone thought of you,” Carey explains and now that Carey puts it that way... PK can see how that could be what he was saying. Carey hadn’t sounded very steady when he’d said it and his hands had been in fists at his sides.

“You were trying to protect me?” PK asks, breaking into a grin because this meant they were un-broken up or whatever. Carey punches him and stands up. “No, c’mon, Carey! Come back! Protect me some more! Tell me about how no one can hurt my feelings! Give me the strength to carry on!”

“You’re a fucking dick,” Carey says and slams the door to the bathroom. A few moments later, the shower turns on.

PK leans back on Carey’s bed and puts his hands behind his head, grinning smugly. Sure, Carey thinks his sophomore season is going to be shitty enough to get him booed, but at least he still wants to bone. PK can always just train harder to make sure Carey’s wrong about next season, he can’t really make Carey want to fuck him again. He listens for the shower to turn off, wondering how they should actually celebrate Carey’s win. Carey has to have his rope around here somewhere.