Jordie has never begrudged Jamie anything.
He knows most people don't believe him when he says that. He gets why it's a hard thing to believe. But even when Jamie was just a tiny wrinkled bundle in their mama's arms, Jordie had wanted to give him everything. And whenever Jamie got something he wanted, Jordie was always proud of him, because Jamie was a Benn through and through, and Benns worked hard to earn everything they got.
Well. Almost everything. Everything they actually wanted, anyway.
Things they didn't actually want, that was a different story.
The less said about the time their dad tried to take them deer hunting, the better.
When Jamie was fourteen, Liv, the neighbor girl from down the street, decided that Jamie would be the perfect first boyfriend and eventually managed to flutter her lashes at him long enough for him to get the hint. They were both freshmen in high school and were thus completely incompetent at dating, but they managed to make their relationship stretch for a good few months. Liv was sweet, big-eyed and soft and demure, and Jordie's pretty sure the reason they broke up is that she deferred literally every single decision to Jamie until finally neither of them could take it anymore.
Jamie's next girlfriend, Andrea, was a no-nonsense student council type who Jamie seemed content to let run his life for their entire sophomore year. He caught them "studying" once, in Jamie's room, her sitting on his bed and Jamie stretched out with his head in her lap, her fingers carding slowly through his hair.
Jennie, the third one, didn't seem to have an obvious dynamic at all. After about four months, Jordie ventured a question to Jamie about it.
Jamie shrugged. "Jennie says she's a switch? I mean, I guess I might be an alpha? Kind of? But we've been trying different stuff, and, you know. Andie. She's definitely an alpha. But I didn't mind."
"You… didn't mind?" Jordie was having some issues wrapping his mind around this.
"Nah." Jamie shrugged again. "She's so hot I probably would've been okay with anything she wanted. Same with Jennie."
"Huh," said Jordie. He fiddled with the video game controller he was holding. He could tell Jamie wasn't done. Sometimes you had to give him space to say stuff, or he'd hold onto the end of the conversation for days before finally blurting it out at the worst possible moment.
"And, uh." Jamie took a deep breath, let it out slowly. "I think." He cleared his throat, then rushed out, "I think I only like girls."
Jordie blinked. "Huh." That… actually made sense. Jamie played baseball in the summers, the same team for three summers running, and one of the other outfielders had the most obvious crush in the world on him. Jamie had never noticed. He'd never caught the hints his Peninsula linemates kept throwing at him about team bonding, either. Instead they'd just watched a lot of action movies together.
Still. He couldn't stop himself from asking, "Are you sure?"
Jamie huffed out a tiny laugh. "Yeah." When Jordie looked over at him, his mouth had a wry little tilt to it. "Pretty sure."
Jordie nodded. "Well, then." He shrugged, smiled. "Okay."
"Okay." Jamie grinned back, clearly relieved. He tapped his controller against Jordie's leg. "Now can we get back to the game?"
The thing about Jamie is that he's a fairly unassuming guy off the ice, friendly and relaxed as long as there aren't any cameras or reporters around, but also pretty self-contained. So it usually takes a while for people to notice, and some of them never do.
In the vast majority of cases, this is not a problem.
Tyler, though. Tyler Seguin is a problem.
Oh, Segs is a lot of other things, too, like the franchise center the team has so desperately needed on the ice and a charming, expansive ball of social energy off of it.
He and Jamie click right away and click hard, and soon the three of them are spending more time together than apart. It's easy and seamless, except.
Except those moments when he sees Tyler's eyes snag on Jamie's hand when he reaches out and curls it around a post-workout bottle of Gatorade. When he notices Segs darting glances to the side in the locker room at the way Jamie's undershirt stretches across his shoulders. When they make the playoffs and Jamie actually says a few words into the mic for the crowd, and Segs looks like he'd sink to his knees right there if could.
Jordie never begrudges Jamie anything. But it almost hurts to watch, because Jamie never notices.
Most guys eventually realize what it means that Jamie never notices.
Jordie probably should've remembered that Tyler Seguin is not most guys.
Which is how he ends up sitting on a couch watching a slow-motion trainwreck from across the room, short of breath and hard as a rock and too overwhelmed with unexpected want to be able to do anything to stop it.
This, it really does hurt to watch. When Jamie tells Tyler he doesn't understand, Jordie feels it like a punch to the stomach. Because he forgot, somehow. He forgot that Jamie wouldn't be able to see what Jordie sees. That to Jamie, Tyler on his knees would be just that, and not the most gorgeous thing it was possible to see.
After Tyler runs out of their apartment, Jamie turns to stare at Jordie. Whatever he sees in Jordie's face makes him blink, and then walk over to the couch to sit down next to him.
They sit there in silence for a few minutes, Jamie's hands clutched tightly in his own lap. Jamie sighs deeply, then slumps over to lean his head on Jordie's shoulder. "Shit," he says.
"Yeah," replies Jordie after a minute. He unfreezes enough to pat Jamie on the knee. "Shit."
After another few minutes, Jamie sighs again and stands up. "I'll let him sleep it off, check on him tomorrow morning. You okay with chicken and pasta for dinner?"
Jordie looks up at Jamie. His eyes are soft and sad.
Jordie swallows. "Yeah." He drops his gaze, stares down at his own hands. They feel blocky and useless. "Sounds good."
The next morning, Jordie wakes to the sound of the front door banging shut. He's just about gotten back to sleep when it slams again, followed by the click of Jamie's bedroom door closing and the creak of Jamie throwing himself onto the bed. Jordie hauls himself up to hover outside of Jamie's closed door.
"Jamie? Did you talk to him?"
There's another bed creak, like Jamie just flopped himself over from his front to his back.
"Yeah, I did." Jamie's voice through the door sounds somewhere between anguished and embarrassed. "I explained, he said he didn't care, I was still just Jamie to him. Then he told me to leave. I think he was going back to sleep."
"Is he… okay?"
"I think so? He looked okay. Tired."
"Okay. He's coming to practice, right?"
"Yeah, he said he was."
Jamie leaves early for practice, says he's meeting some of the other guys for lunch. Jordie thinks about going with, but the twisted-up feeling in his gut keeps him at home.
He makes a whole mess of eggs, twice as many as he usually makes for himself. It's not until he's shifting half of them to a plate that he realizes. He's worried about Segs.
He needs to see for himself that he's okay.
When he sees him, he thinks, shit, he's not okay. And he spends the rest of the day trying to fix that, a little at a time, the way Segs clearly needs. The gentlest way he knows how.
He spends the whole afternoon thinking about how right it feels. Like it's the only solid ground he's found since that first glimpse of Tyler on his knees set him adrift on an ocean of deep desire and uncovered dreams.
Like it's everything he could barely admit to himself that he wanted, before now. Not some abstract, perfect sub, pliant and trusting.
But a Tyler who's not in love with Jamie.
He watches them during practice. They're awkward at first, but that's practically Jamie's middle name in times of uncertainty. They both throw themselves into the drills and come out the other side… well, a little less awkward, anyway. Tyler still looks exhausted, but more in the good way than before. He even smiles at the dumb little wave Jamie gives him as he's leaving with Val, and when he follows Jordie out to his truck, he doesn't look back.
Maybe Jordie has a chance. He didn't get this far in life by assuming otherwise. And he didn't get this far by beating around the bush, either. So he asks.
When Tyler says maybe it wasn't actually about Jamie, specifically, Jordie's breath stutters in his throat, just for a moment.
When Tyler asks for a kiss, he can't stop himself from giving it to him. He can feel himself pouring everything into it, he can't help it, wave after wave of hopes and dreams and promises he probably shouldn't even be letting himself want to make.
And when Tyler says yes, tells him he wants him to try, Jordie's heart almost stops, and his brain starts kicking a mile a minute with plans.
They work. They all work. They fit seamlessly into the new rhythm of Jordie's life, the one that has Tyler at the center of it like he was always meant to be there.
Every few days, he has to spend ten minutes alone in the dark of his room, being overwhelmed by how right this all feels.
Nothing he has ever done has felt as right as this.
He doesn't know if it feels the same for Tyler.
He can tell it feels good, at least.
It's probably a sign of how far gone he is that he already knows: for him, that's enough.
Jordie is used to taking what he can get. He is better than most at turning it into what he wants. He knows that even if it's not everything he wants, each little part is worth all the energy he has. Every time Tyler feels good, it's enough.
Even if it's just one day, one moment, one smile, Jordie works hard to earn every single one of them. That's what Benns do.