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Vinny lays it out

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Thomas takes a minute, staring at Carms’ ceiling, which has become familiar, and then shuffles out to the kitchen in sweats and a t-shirt Sandro loaned him. Sandro and Sylvie are already there, Sylvie fully dressed and Sandro in sweats and a sleeveless Celtics shirt that Thomas wrinkles his nose at in automatic defence of the Raptors, even though he hardly ever watches basketball. Sandro seems to notice the look, and gives him finger guns in response.

“Hey Vinny — uh, is it okay if I call you Vinny?” Sylvie asks. “Or is that just team?”

“You are team,” Thomas says.

Sylvie exchanges a look with Sandro that Thomas can’t figure out.

“He is always that cute,” Sandro says.

“You are,” Thomas says. “You work for the Habs.”

Sandro makes cooing noises.

“Shut up, Carmen,” Thomas says.

“Yeah,” Sylvie says. “Shut up, Carmen.”

“In my own apartment,” Sandro says sadly.

Sylvie rolls her eyes. “Eggs, Vinny?” she asks. “Coffee?”

“Both please,” Thomas says.

Sylvie sticks around for about five minutes, then sets her mug down. “Okay, I’ve got to go,” she says.

“Stick around,” Sandro whines.

“Some of us work,” Sylvie says.

“I work,” Sandro argues.

“You show up, beat guys up, and leave,” she says, but she’s grinning.

“Vinny, tell her I work,” Sandro says.

“He works more than me,” Thomas says.

Sandro smacks him.

“Ow,” Thomas says. “What’d I say?”

“Stop saying mean things about my goalie,” Sandro says.

“Idiots,” Sylvie says, still grinning, and leaves with a gulp of coffee, a squeeze to Thomas’ shoulder, and a quick kiss for Sandro.

“Good, she’s gone,” Sandro says.

Thomas frowns.

“I can ask now,” Sandro says.

“You were asking when she was here,” Thomas points out.

“Yeah, but she was trying to protect you,” Sandro says. “I’m not an idiot.”

Thomas opens his mouth.

“You’re better than that comment, Thomas Vincent,” Sandro says, trying for the French pronunciation and butchering it.

Thomas shuts his mouth.

“Are you going to tell me what Petrov did?” Sandro asks.

“Nope,” Thomas says, then rolls his eyes when Sandro pouts at him.

“Don’t make me guess,” Sandro says. “I’ll think of something horrible.”

“He didn’t do anything,” Thomas says. They already dislike one another, the last thing Thomas needs is Sandro adding fuel to the fire.

“What, did you finally tell him you’re madly in love with him?” Sandro asks.

Thomas, mid sip of coffee, ends up spitting it on the counter.

“Huh,” Sandro says. “I thought spit takes only happened in movies and shit.” He goes to the sink, gets a cloth, leaning over Thomas to wipe the coffee up.

“That joke’s getting really old,” Thomas mumbles.

“Not a joke,” Sandro says. “I mean, yeah, okay, we tease you, but you’ve been in love with the dick as long as I’ve known you. Why do you think I haven’t punched him?”

“Because he’s your teammate. And because he’d punch you back,” Thomas says.

“Yeah, but we both know who’d win that fight,” Sandro says. “Did you, then?”

“Did I what?” Thomas asks.

“Did you tell him?” Sandro asks. “If he was an asshole about it, I swear to god, I will actually punch him.”

“I’m not in —” Thomas starts, and quiets when Sandro gives him the most sceptical look he’s ever seen. “No,” he mumbles.

“But it’s got to do with that, right?” Sandro asks.

Thomas shrugs. “Does everyone know?” he asks finally. No one ever seems surprised when he tells them, and it’s a small sample size, but still.

“I don’t know about ‘know’, but like, if you walked into the room holding Petrov’s hand I don’t think anyone would be surprised,” Sandro says. “Fournier would fly in from Chicago just to shake you.”

“Fourns doesn’t know,” Thomas says.

“Oh my friend, Fourns without a doubt knows, sorry to break it to you,” Sandro says. He doesn’t sound very sorry. “Why do you think he’s so crazy around the eyes?”

“Fourns isn’t crazy around the eyes,” Thomas says.

“Only a goalie would say that,” Sandro says. “Oh great, now you look crazy around the eyes. Eat your eggs.”

Thomas dutifully does, then steals Sandro’s shower, reluctantly gets back into yesterday’s clothes. Sandro’s in the living room tooling around on his laptop, and Thomas shuffles in, sits beside him, holding his phone, which feels way too heavy in his hand.

There’s a part of Thomas — a big part, a part he’s not proud of — that wants to hide at Sandro’s until the game. He’d swim in one of Sandro’s suits — they’re the same height but Sandro’s built for, well, beating guys up — but he could maybe go out and buy an adequate game day suit, if not a good one.

But even if Thomas isn’t doing anything but bench warming tonight, Anton’s going to be on the ice practically half the game, and he doesn’t take things the way Thomas does, he doesn’t get hurt easily the way Thomas does, but Thomas thinks it’d be pretty shitty of him to leave things unresolved before the game, before Anton has to focus, especially since they’ll be in the same room at multiple points.

Still, when he texts Anton with r u home?, he’s hoping, a little, that the answer is no, that Anton’s at his girlfriend’s. Instead, he gets a text before his phone can even dim, a yea. He swallows.

“Vin?” Sandro says, and Thomas looks up at him. “You can stay here as long as you want, okay?”

“Thanks,” Thomas says, pocketing his phone. “I need to go, though.”

“Yeah,” Sandro says. “But after the game or whatever, you’re free to come home with me.”

“Are you hitting on me, Carms?” Thomas jokes weakly.

“Don’t worry, you’re my gay exception on the list Sylvie and I made, she’s cool if I woo you,” Sandro tells him, and Thomas laughs.

Sandro reaches over, ruffles his damp hair. “You want me to drive you over, lurk in your driveway or something?” Sandro asks. “I could be your getaway driver.”

“I’m good,” Thomas says. “Really, thanks.”

“Any time, buddy,” Sandro says, and won’t let Thomas leave until he gets a hug, which Thomas didn’t realise he needed so badly until he’s got his face tucked in Sandro’s neck and Sandro patting his back.

He nearly turns around half a dozen times on the drive back to Anton’s, and considers it an achievement that he doesn’t. He thinks he needs to take the little victories today. He hesitates on the porch once he gets there, wonders if he should use his key or if that’s inappropriate, if he should knock instead. But knocking would just bring attention to the whole issue, and even though they need to talk about it, they’re going to talk about it, it seems like a bad idea to start there, so he lets himself in, toeing off his boots and locking the door behind himself.

“Tony?” he calls, maybe quieter than he should, but he still gets an “in the living room,” in response.

Anton’s sitting on the couch, a bottle of Gatorade in his hands. The TV’s off — Thomas doesn’t know if he shut it off when he heard Thomas come in, or if he was just sitting there, and doesn’t really want to think about it.

“Hi,” Thomas says, standing, tentative, in the doorway.

“You in a hurry to get out?” Anton asks. It’s not a joke, really, too barbed, but Thomas takes the hint, sits down on the opposite side of the couch, pulling his knees up to his chest.

“Where’d you go?” Anton asks.

Thomas shrugs. He doesn’t think mentioning Carms would be a good way to start things off. “I didn’t want to cramp your —”

“Stop acting like this is my decision,” Anton snaps.

“Sorry,” Thomas mumbles.

“I broke up with Amanda last night,” Anton says.

Something in Thomas’ stomach drops. “Tony,” Thomas says.

“That was the problem, right?” Anton says. “I fixed it. So there’s no problem.”

“But it’s not the problem,” Thomas says. “Not really.”

“I can’t read your mind, Thomas,” Anton says. “I can’t—”

“It’s your house,” Thomas interrupts, and Anton flinches, minute, but enough that Thomas notices, feels guilty about, even though it’s not like it isn’t true. It’s Anton’s name on the lease, Anton paying the mortgage. “It’s not. It’s your house.”

“It’s yours too,” Anton says.

“Not really,” Thomas says. “I mean, you’re going to want to move in with a girl at some point, and then what? ‘Hey babe, I stuck Vinny in the attic, that okay? He’ll babysit for free when we have kids!’”

Anton huffs out a reluctant sounding laugh. “And what about you, then?” he asks.

“What about me?” Thomas asks.

“Like you’re not going to settle down?” Anton asks.

Thomas shrugs a shoulder. “No,” he says. “Not like that.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Anton asks.

“I just,” Thomas says, fiddles with a loose thread on his pants so he isn’t looking at Anton. “That’s never — I’m never going to settle down with anyone. No one wants—” he starts, then bites it back.

“No one wants what?” Anton asks.

Thomas shrugs again. “Just nothing’s ever going to happen with anyone,” he says. “That’s all.”

“Oh come on,” Anton says. “You have Megan in your bed, Veronique keeps—”

Thomas starts laughing.

“What?” Anton snaps.

“I don’t know how many times I have to tell you I’m not into them before you believe me,” Thomas says.

“You told me you’re not gay,” Anton says.

“I’m not,” Thomas says, and when Anton frowns deeper, opens his mouth, “I’m not anything, really.”

“The fuck is that supposed to mean?” Anton asks.

“I don’t want anyone,” Thomas says, eyes back on his knees. “Not like — I don’t want to have sex with anyone. So. It’s not going to happen. No one wants to live happily ever after with someone who doesn’t want them.”

Anton’s quiet.

“Can you say something?” Thomas asks. “Please?”

“I’m an idiot,” Anton says, and Thomas looks up. “You — really, no one?”

“Nope,” Thomas says.

“I probably should have known this, huh?” Anton asks.

Thomas shrugs. “It’s not like it’s anyone’s first guess,” he says. “I think the rumour was I was staying a virgin to be a better goalie.”

Anton smiles a little. “It was a stupid ass rumour,” he says.

“I know,” Thomas says. “I’m not even a very good—”

“Shut up, Vinny,” Anton says. Him and Sandro are a lot alike sometimes. Thomas doesn’t think he’ll tell either of them, though.

Thomas zips his lips, tentatively nudges Anton’s thigh with his foot. Anton reaches out to squeeze his ankle.

“Can I, uh—” Anton says, laughs self-consciously.

“What?” Thomas asks.

“Moral support?” Anton asks. “Or I don’t know if you still don’t like me very—”

Thomas tugs him into a hug. Anton’s stiff for a moment, but relaxes into it once Thomas tucks his face into his neck the way he does when Anton’s the one doling out the moral support.

“Are we good?” Anton asks.

“Of course,” Thomas says, and then into the dip of Anton’s shoulder, because he’s maybe still a little bit of a coward. “I’m still moving out.”

Anton moves to pull back, and Thomas holds on harder. “It doesn’t change anything,” Thomas says. “I depend on you too much, so. I’m going to try not to.”

“I told you, I don’t mind,” Anton says quietly.

“I know,” Thomas says. “I think that’s the problem.”