It’s not that Liam disliked Jared, he just didn’t like him. He was neutral about him. A little bitter because of the situation that led to Jared staying up and joining the team full time, but that wasn’t anything Jared could control. Liam just thinks Jared is a bit bitchy and sometimes mean and isn’t about to make friends with him (ironic, considering that he’s in love with the grumpiest fucker to ever wear skates). He doesn’t even know if he’s ever seen JMaths smile .
Until now, of course. Jared’s talking softly into his phone, attempting to hide behind a large potted tree in the airport lounge as they wait for their flight back to Edmonton at the end of a California road trip, and he’s smiling. Liam stares and then Jared looks up and Liam looks down, pretending to play a game on his phone. He puts his earbuds in but doesn’t actually play any sound, just eavesdrops. A smile from JMaths must mean he’s talking with someone special.
“Gotta go, we should be boarding soon,” Jared mutters. “And so should you. Why the fuck did our bye weeks have to line up with each other’s roadies?”
Huh. Not that special then, probably. Just a buddy on another team.
“I can’t even use the time to work on the plan since you won’t be around to give any input.”
Liam furrows his brow- what type of plan would Jared need his buddy around to work on? It’s only January so it can’t be summer plans already.
Suddenly one of the other teammates calls out, “Fitzy, Mattheson, time to go.”
Liam looks up to see everyone filing towards the door and misses the end of Jared’s call.
_/ _X_ \_
A month later they’re in Calgary and Liam has (mostly) forgotten about the call he eavesdropped on. He’s walking through the arena after the game looking for OJ, who he knows is with JMaths but unlike JMaths he doesn’t have a pass for the night, when he rounds a corner very nearly walks right into someone’s back. Stupid corners.
The person whose back he’s facing isn’t OJ or Jared, but they are there. No one notices Liam (he can be sneaky like that) so he stands there for a minute and watches because JMaths is smiling again and that’s just a mystery that needs to be solved. And so is whatever is going on between his teammates and the Flame?
“I still vote cupcakes. You should have cupcakes for your wedding,” OJ is arguing.
Liam is confused. Who’s getting married, one of the Flames, maybe?
“No. That’s a stupid idea. We’re not doing cupcakes,” Jared declares.
JMaths is engaged? Liam didn’t even know that he wasn’t single.
Julius pouts, “What does Elaine think of cupcakes?”
Liam wonders if Elaine is Jared’s fiancee.
“She also thinks we should go with a more traditional cake, since so much else of the wedding will be non-traditional. Not that it matters, my future mother in law does not get to pick my wedding cake.”
Elaine is not the fiancee, then.
The Flame Liam thinks might be Chaz Rossi snorts, “Why not- she’s planning enough of the rest of the wedding.”
OJ cackles gleefully as Jared pouts. “She is not! She gave us some very big hints for Christmas that we need to do our own planning. She’s just doing some of the legwork since, you know, NHL schedules.”
“That’s not the impression he’s given me, any time the wedding has come up,” Rossi retorts with a laugh and Liam’s mind freezes.
He. JMaths is engaged to a guy. JMaths is gay? Bi? Liam knows, statistically, that he’s not the only one on the team who’s into dudes, but he wouldn’t have guessed Jared. To be fair he probably wouldn’t have guessed Mike, either, if he hadn’t been dead set on getting into his bed. Remembering the phone call he’d listened in on in California, maybe Jared’s engaged to the buddy on another team? Rossi knows him, apparently, so someone from juniors? Someone on the Flames?
Suddenly Liam realizes that maybe he shouldn’t be listening to this conversation and backs away down the hall, back around the corner. He stands there for a few seconds before walking back towards them, this time making noise.
“OoooooJaaaayyy. Holla if your name is Halla!” Liam declares, goofing around, back to his original task of finding Julius.
The group goes quiet as he rounds the corner.
“There you are bud. Bus is leaving soon.”
_/ _X_ \_
Liam signs with Detroit over the summer but keeps in touch with a few guys from the Oilers. He’s browsing twitter one day during training camp, waiting for some of the other new guys, when he gets a text from Rogers.
Mattheson got married over the summer. Being super secretive.
Liam winches, remembering the conversation he’d overheard. Yeah, there was a reason for the secretiveness. He responds.
hes a private guy. he and oj stick to each other and like no one else
Fair. OJ apparently went to the wedding, but neither of them have any pictures. Half the team think its a prank.
what do you think?
I’m thinking maybe he would have benefitted from knowing that he had a teammate with a boyfriend last year.
not my fault he and oj are hermits
but also dont speculate about that shit or say anything to him. its up to him if he wants people to know.
you could be wrong anyways
Fair. But I wouldn’t spread shit. You know that.
Liam knows he’s not wrong, but if JMaths doesn’t want people to know, that’s his business and Liam respects that. He also knows that Rogers wouldn’t spread shit- he never did about Liam and Mike, even when he very strongly disapproved, but, like, Liam felt obligated to say something.
The conversation ends and Liam goes back to twitter, scrolling past a post speculating about Bryce Marcus’ secret marriage and scoffs. Secret marriages. Must be a theme to the day.
_/ _X_ \_
It’s a few weeks later when Liam connects the dots. He’s sitting down in front of the TV to watching the Battle for Alberta (he may not play in it anymore but part of him is still invested ) when he notices a few things that strike him as odd.
Mattheson, who has been playing well, is a healthy scratch. And every time the camera goes past the press box he’s either looking at the Flames bench or glaring at where the GM is two boxes over (most wouldn’t notice this, but Liam knows what his former teammate’s glare looks like). Glaring at Deslauriers makes sense, Jared is obviously pissed at the GM, who must be behind the scratch. The scratch itself, though, is odd. The other odd thing is that Bryce Marcus keeps looking at the Oilers pressbox, pouting, and also glaring at the Oilers GM.
It’s not until he accidentally opens the texts with Rogers from preseason that it clicks in Liam's mind. The phone call in January, complaining about bye weeks clashing with roadies. The conversation with Halla and Rossi, who obviously knew JMaths' fiancé and spoke with him regularly. The secret off-season wedding that he’s apparently very tight lipped about still. Bryce Marcus also having a secret off-season wedding that he’s tight lipped about. Coincidences? Maybe. But also maybe not. But if Deslauriers scratched Jared because his husband was on the other team? Talk about a dick move- makes Liam glad he doesn’t play there anymore.
Liam shakes his head, trying not to think too much about it and to just focus on the game he’s watching. It’s not like he can get a confirmation. A little smile creeps onto his face as he thinks of the response Benny would probably send him if he tried to tell him all of this- that meme of the funny guys ‘you haven’t connected shit’ or whatever.
But he’s pretty sure he’s right.