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here with me a couple more days

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1

Dylan proposes on the couch in his parents' basement, his feet tangled with Zach's on the sofa. They paused Call of Duty more than an hour ago, now, and they're just talking, poking at each other's legs with their toes and making faces. There's a few empty beer bottles on the table, next to the wrappers for their ice cream sandwiches.

Zach isn't drunk, but he's not sober either. Tired to his bones from a few days of hard training, a little too warm from the alcohol and from Dylan's skin against his, because even with the air conditioning, it's July and the heat seeps into you. He closes his eyes and lets his head fall back onto the arm of the sofa, and whines, just a little bit.

It's pointless—he doesn't expect Dylan to change anything, or apologize. It's just—sometimes you have to sulk about stuff. Dylan can't change the draft, and he shouldn't decide whether or not to come back to school based on how much Zach whines, but it sucks.

Dylan stops trying to tickle Zach with his feet. His face goes weirdly serious—Zach has to crane his neck to see it—and he frowns briefly.

"Marry me," he says.

"What," Zach says, because how the hell else do you answer something like that.

Dylan softens his voice, but his expression is sure. "We should get married."

Zach looks at him for a minute, and—this is Dylan. "Okay," he says.

 

2

For a while, they don't do anything about it. It just exists between them—a plan or a promise or an agreement. Something that matters but that Zach can't quite put a name to. He doesn't bring it up, and neither does Dylan, but sometimes when they curl up on the sofa after training, drowsy and worn out, Zach looks at the lines of Dylan's face and thinks, he asked me to marry him.

 

3

Dylan brings it up, faux-casual—Zach can tell—on a Saturday afternoon in early August.

"You still wanna get married?" he says. Zach does a double take, nearly dropping his phone on his face. He's lying splayed on his back on the floor, holding it over his face to read a boring email from his uncle.

"Obviously," he says, even though it probably isn't.

Dylan is lying on Zach's bed even though he's kind of gross and sweaty from fucking around outside earlier. Zach likes him enough to not complain about it.

"Cause," Dylan continues, "I don't have anything to do today so I thought we could buy rings. Or something."

Zach makes a face, mostly at the idea of moving. The idea of buying rings sounds—permanent. Permanent is nice.

"Can you do that online?"

Dylan makes an uncertain noise, and Zach can hear him wiggling around looking for his phone. "I assume you can," he says. "You can do fuckin' everything online now, right?" He taps at the screen a few times, and then dangles one arm over the side of the bed. "Get up here, dumbbutt, I'm not doing this alone."

"Come down here," Zach whines, a plea he doesn't really think will work. The bed is definitely more comfortable than the floor, Dylan would be stupid to forfeit that.

"If you come up here I'll blow you after we pick out rings," Dylan says.

Ruthless but effective. One of many things Zach loves about him.

The rings they end up picking out are plain gold; Dylan calls them classic and Zach calls them boring. "We should get the Michigan logo," Zach says, and Dylan looks vaguely horrified.

"Don't you love me?" Zach asks, beatific. Dylan starts to move and Zach adds, "If you push me off the bed, I'm not getting back up here."

"Then I can pick out better rings," Dylan says, sounding unperturbed. He doesn't actually shove Zach though, so Zach's taking it as a win. He curls closer, resting his head on Dylan's shoulder.

"These are expensive," he says, his voice small.

"Might as well put my signing bonus to good use," Dylan says. Zach doesn't answer, just shrugs as best he can pressed to Dylan's side. "Hey," Dylan continues. "You know I'm not leaving you, right? That's the whole point of doing this, I'm leaving school, not you."

"I know," Zach says. The words are muffled by Dylan's shirt, which is good because his voice is a little wobbly.

Dylan sets his phone down on his stomach and twists his neck to kiss the top of Zach's head. Zach feels like he's going to cry, and he doesn't know how to react to that aside from burying his face farther in Dylan's shirt and trusting Dylan not to comment if he does. One of Dylan's hands combs through his hair, and he can feel Dylan's lips against his head.

"I love you," Dylan says. Zach sniffs loudly and, honestly, this whole thing is getting kind of embarrassing. "But you know we're farther apart at our parents' houses than we will be next year."

"It's symbolic," Zach mutters.

"That's the point of the rings, jackass," Dylan says, but he doesn't sound annoyed. "I'm going to buy those now, by the way. It's my money, I get the final say."

Zach doesn't actually move from where he's half smothering himself in Dylan's chest, but he does hum pointedly. "Isn't the whole point of this that it's going to be our money?"

"Fuck," Dylan says quietly, sounding awed. "I'm going to need you to stop getting your snot on my shirt so I can kiss you."

 

4

They don't, like, write their own vows or anything. Mostly because it's all kind of spur-of-the-moment when they actually go to City Hall, but also because Zach is sincerely afraid he'll cry and that's a mess he'd like to avoid.

Dylan holds his hand while he repeats the standard ones, stuff about to have and to hold, until death do us part, and he's uncharacteristically serious. It feels heavy, which Zach supposes is the point, but still. It's as important as getting drafted and—important things are scary. That's kinda just how it goes.

There are rings and kissing and the whole predictable thing and just—Zach wants to be chill about it. It's not going to change anything, that's the whole point. They're getting married to prove that things aren't going to change between them, even if things do change around them.

It feels like a change, though, when Zach laces his fingers through Dylan's as they kiss and feels the cold metal of Dylan's wedding ring—his wedding ring—against his skin.

Zach kisses him and kisses him, glad in a tiny part of the back of his mind that there's no one here to wolf whistle or laugh or applaud uncomfortably, that he can just slide his lips across Dylan's until he forgets that there's anything else to the world but the two of them. After what seems like a long time, though maybe it isn't, Dylan winds a hand around his neck and pulls him closer.

The officiant clears her throat.

Zach flushes as he pulls away, and Dylan chases his mouth, pressing a last quick kiss to the corner where Zach can feel his lips quirking up, an involuntary smile. There's giddy excitement pooling in his stomach, making him almost as jittery as he was when he walked into the room, but somehow better in every possible way.

"Let's go have newlywed sex," Dylan whispers as they walk away from the officiant, audibly excited.

Zach grins at him. "Are you gonna get us a hotel room?" he asks. "A honeymoon suite? You gotta treat me right, I'm your husband now."

 

5

Turns out, Dylan actually did that.

 

6

The morning after they get married, Zach wakes up naked in an unfamiliar bed, with white sheets tangled around his legs and Dylan's face pressed to the back of his neck. His breath is warm and damp against Zach's skin, and he has one arm draped across Zach's waist.

Zach closes his eyes, and tries to let it all sink in.

Behind him, Dylan shifts, pulling Zach in closer and, in the process, pressing his morning wood against Zach's ass. Zach's pretty sure he's still asleep, from the rhythm of his breathing and the languid way he's moving. He exhales slowly, reminding himself to enjoy this while he can have it. Dylan will wake up soon enough.

Dylan does wake up pretty quickly, dropping a string of kisses across the back of Zach's shoulder and then shifting to kiss the curve of his ear.

"Good morning," he says, his voice rough. Presumably from when he let Zach fuck his mouth last night. Zach's hips jerk slightly at the memory, and Dylan makes a noise, warm and pleased. "Someone's eager," he says against Zach's ear.

Dylan is probably trying to tease him but it's not very effective, given his obvious boner. He actually shifts so his dick slots against Zach's ass better right after he says it, and Zach laughs softly. "I'm not the only one."

"What, like I'm not allowed to have a hard-on for my husband?" Dylan says. He sounds so fucking smug about it, like getting Zach to marry him was a goddamn prize. It makes his heart hurt, but in a good way.

Dylan works his hips a few times, letting his dick slide against Zach's ass. It's nice, slow and lazy and mindless. He pushes his hips back against Dylan's, and Dylan gasps, the sound low and rough.

They fucked twice last night, Dylan's hands firm on Zach's hips while he slid into him, kissing loose and breathless through it. Zach came with Dylan's hand loose on his dick and Dylan fucked him through it, until he was shaking and too strung out to move.

Obviously that's what he thinks about now, with Dylan's boner pressed against his ass. It would be amazing, probably, if Dylan slipped back in and fucked him slowly. He probably wouldn't even need any prep, not after last night.

"I have to skate tomorrow," Zach says reluctantly. Dylan hums, dropping a kiss on his shoulder.

"Too bad," he says. "I had all kinds of fun things planned."

"Mean," Zach says. It's unconvincing even to him. "Rain check?"

"Definitely," Dylan says. "I wanna find all kinds of new ways to make you come."

He's evil. Zach whines sadly. "You try skating after you've had a dick up your ass, Larkin," he says.

Dylan makes a considering noise. "I mean, we could try that," he says. "But in the meantime, I have an idea." They can't kiss, not at this angle, but Dylan is scattering kisses across Zach's neck and shoulders, which is almost as nice. The slide of his dick between Zach's cheeks is hot and somehow perfect despite being too dry.

Zach presses back against him, the motions arrhythmic and lazy, and lets himself zone out, not paying attention to anything but the warmth of Dylan's body, the friction where they're moving against each other and the soft comfort everywhere else. He has no idea how much time passes like that; he's hard, his dick smacking softly on his stomach every so often, but not in a desperate way. He's into this—he's really into this, he's into everything Dylan does—but he's not in a hurry.

When Dylan rolls away, Zach starts to complain. Dylan strokes a soothing hand down his hip. "Just a sec, babe," he says. "I'm just getting the lube."

"Fine," Zach says, plaintive anyway. He listens, too lazy to move, as Dylan opens the lube and slicks himself up. "Ugh," he says, wrinkling his nose. "I said you couldn't fuck me."

Dylan laughs, a fond noise. "I won't," he says. "Trust me, I just wanna try something I saw in a porno."

"Oh my god," Zach says. "What the hell are you going to do to me?"

"I'm gonna fuck you but like, between your thighs instead of your ass," Dylan says. He sounds a little unsure, but it's not the worst idea he's had, and it seems like it would be hard for him to fuck it up in a way where they got hurt, so whatever.

"Okay," Zach says.

Dylan presses a smacking kiss to his cheek. "I love you." He slides back down onto his side, his chest pressed to Zach's back, and Zach can feel Dylan's dick slick against the back of his thighs. There's a moment of shifting and then Dylan's dick is sliding in between them, smooth and easy from the lube.

"Keep your legs close together," Dylan says, his voice rough. He moves his hips slowly a few times, experimental, and Zach can feel his dick moving. It's kind of weird, the slickness of it between his thighs but—Dylan's breathing is already going ragged and the friction is close enough to where he wants it to be good. Teasing, but good.

Every few thrusts, the head of Dylan's brushes against Zach's balls, and he shudders, his hips moving involuntarily. The first time, Dylan gasps and jerks forward, his skin smacking against Zach's. It's not the most amazing thing they've ever done and, all other things being equal, Zach would rather that Dylan actually fucked him, but it's still hot, the way Dylan is mouthing at the back of his neck and breathing hard.

Dylan is enjoying it, and frankly that's enough to have Zach leaking against his own stomach. Two more hard thrusts, and he comes, his come splattering across the sheets and Zach's dick.

That's—okay, that's pretty hot, the streaks of it across Zach's thighs and hips. One of Dylan's hands slides across his stomach, smearing the come into his skin and cruelly avoiding his dick.

"Come on," Zach whines. "You got off."

"Flip over," Dylan says, instead of doing anything useful with his mouth, like putting it on Zach's dick.

"I'm covered in your jizz, that's gross."

Dylan hums like the smug bastard he is instead of acknowledging how fair Zach's complaint is. "I'll make it worth your while."

"Fine," Zach says, rolling onto his stomach with Dylan's hands on his hips urging him.

It is gross, the jizz still sticky on his thighs and his dick pressed into the mattress. Dylan kisses a line down his spine, lingering at the dip of his lower back and curling his hands around the backs of Zach's thighs, running his thumbs down the still-slick spot he was fucking into moments ago. The skin there is probably red, and Zach shudders.

Dylan kisses lower, to the curve of Zach's ass, and then even lower, across his thighs and the spots his hands were just touching.

Zach is genuinely surprised when Dylan slides his mouth across the curve of his ass, lips soft as they trail kisses over the skin there. He presses a few fingers between the cheeks of Zach's ass and then, seemingly out of nowhere, presses a light kiss right over Zach's hole.

It's—surprising, mostly. Zach jerks, and he's not sure if it's in a good way or not. He's still a little sensitive from last night, and he can tell that Dylan is using deliberately light touches but it feels like overstimulation anyway. His mouth is so, so gentle as he presses another kiss in the same spot, and then licks a few times.

This time, when Zach shudders, it's definitely in a good way. Dylan keeps licking at his hole, slowly and gently, opening him with his tongue instead of with fingers. It's a slower process, and a wetter one, but it's—fuck, it's so much more intense than fingers, too. Dylan isn't even like, using his tongue to fuck Zach, he's just. Licking and kissing and occasionally sucking around his hole, and Zach is shaking against the bed. It shouldn't be this good, it's not—

But it is.

Zach forces himself to focus on his breathing for a few moments, which doesn't do much to steady him, but it helps him refocus and still his hips. Dylan has one arm slung across the small of Zach's back, but he doesn't have the right leverage to keep him still and Zach can barely stop himself trying to rub off against the sheets.

And then Dylan stiffens his tongue and just—sticks it in and Zach jerks so hard he's momentarily concerned he's going to hurt Dylan.

"Fuck," he hisses. Dylan thrusts as best he can with his tongue a few times and Zach closes his eyes and tries to remind himself to breathe.

He doesn't think he can come from this—he's never come untouched before, and not for lack of trying on Dylan's part. Maybe—with the friction from the sheets. But. He makes a low noise when Dylan pulls back and presses a sucking kiss against the overworked skin. He hooks a finger into the rim and Zach thinks, for a split second, that he's going to come, but then he doesn't.

It feels like every nerve in his body is sparking but he can't—Dylan fucks Zach with his tongue a few more times and he still can't, not with the way he's holding himself still.

"Please," Zach says, low and hoarse and maybe the only word he can remember right now. Dylan hums and the vibrations are maddening.

"Are you sure you can't come like this?" he asks, pulling away. Zach whines at the loss.

"Please," he says again. "I can't—"

Dylan doesn't say anything else, just rearranges Zach so that he's on his elbows and knees. His thighs are shaking. Dylan pushes his knees apart, wider than his hips. The angles are terrible and Zach definitely can't hold this too long. But he doesn't think he'll need to, not with the way his dick is leaking, streaking precome across his stomach.

Somehow, Dylan has the coordination to wrap a hand loosely around the base of Zach's dick and lick his ass at the same time, which nearly makes Zach fall over. And then Dylan fucks his tongue in, and jerks Zach hard and—that's it.

Zach collapses forward when he comes, unable to balance on his elbows anymore. His whole body feels like it's tingling. The bed is disgusting and he's definitely lying in the wet spot and he isn't sure he can move yet.

Dylan crawls up next to him and kisses his cheek, loud and smacking. "How'd you like that?" he says, unbearably smug.

Zach doesn't actually answer, because he's not going to enable Dylan's terrible smugness and also because words are really difficult right now. Which probably means that Dylan's smugness is justified, but whatever.

"I'm not falling asleep here," he says eventually. "It's gross."

Dylan grins at him. "We could go shower?"

 

7

The first night back at school without Dylan is weird. He has a new roommate, some freshman kid he barely knows yet, and it's weird. Their room is more or less the same as the one he shared with Dylan but it's so distinctly not the same. They're not going to cuddle on either of their beds, at least not until well into the season.

Even if they do, it won't be the same.

He calls Dylan from the bench outside the dorm. They don't talk about anything, not really, but it's good to hear his voice. Zach is wearing his ring on a cheap gold chain around his neck, which means he has to remember to take it off before practices and games. It would probably be safer to keep it in his wallet, which is what Dylan does. But it's hard to not have it on his body, even if it's not on his finger.

He falls asleep slowly that night, apparently too used to the sound of Dylan's breathing to sleep easily without it.

 

8

Zach feels a little weird about wearing a Red Wings shirt to Dylan's game because—they're not his team anymore. That's how it's supposed to work. He does it anyway.

It's symbolic. Like the rings.

Besides, the only other thing he can think of to wear is one of Dylan's Michigan jerseys, and that would raise even more eyebrows.

Dylan scores twice, and Zach cheers until he isn't sure if he'll have a voice in the morning. His ring is tucked in the pocket of his jeans and he keeps having to remind himself that he can't take it out and fiddle with it during the game.

After, they take some pictures, and then Dylan gives Zach a pointed look—you're coming home with me, right, he asks without words. Which, obviously. Like Zach is gonna watch his husband score two goals and not suck him off afterward, god.

 

(8.5

"You thought about wearing one of my Michigan jerseys?" Dylan asks, speaking quietly into the phone.

"Yeah," Zach says, because it's not like Dylan can hear him if he shrugs. "I didn't wanna be a traitor to the team that drafted me."

There's a silence that drags on and then Dylan says, even softer than before, "That's really hot."

"Possessive," Zach says, trying not to sound pleased.

"Mmhmm," Dylan says. "Can I fuck you while you're wearing my jersey and your wedding ring and nothing else?")

 

9

Dylan's apartment is sparse—he doesn't even have a coffee table yet—but Zach has more important things to think about. He pushes Dylan against the back of the door, and kisses him hard. Dylan makes a broken noise into his mouth, one of his hands scrabbling at the skin of Zach's lower back, tugging at the Winter Classic shirt he's still wearing.

Dylan is already breathing hard, already trying to pull Zach closer with uncoordinated hands and grinding against him. He's visibly keyed-up, and Zach just—wants to drink it in for a minute.

"Fuck," Dylan hisses. "I'm so horny, fuck."

"Yeah, okay," Zach says against the corner of his mouth and then, after one last lingering kiss, he drops to his knees. The floors are carpet, and frankly—the chance to suck Dylan off when he's like this just doesn't come around frequently enough to pass up.

He undoes Dylan's belt, careful not to brush against his dick at all, and then works his pants down with as little friction as he can. Dylan makes a frustrated noise high in his throat, and Zach ignores him. When he peels Dylan's boxers down, Dylan is already hard.

Zach wraps a loose hand around Dylan's dick, giving himself a moment to appreciate the weight of it in his hand. It's been too long. (It's been a few weeks, but still too long.) He presses a sloppy kiss to the tip, and Dylan's hips jerk forward. His dick slides across Zach's cheek, leaving a trail of spit and precome that Zach wipes away with the back of his hand.

"Hold still," he says before he wraps his mouth around the head of Dylan's cock. Dylan, to his credit, mostly succeeds. His hips barely move, even though he makes a guttural noise. It's a familiar feeling, Dylan's dick in Zach's mouth, but it still takes him a moment to get used to it.

Giving blowjobs has never been Zach's favorite sex thing—obviously he does it because Dylan loves it, and he likes getting them and fair's fair and all that stuff, and there's something heady about the way Dylan goes weak and pliable under his mouth, but it's not like, inherently his favorite thing to do. Jizz tastes weird, and he can't touch Dylan as much as he would prefer, and it's hard to see his face.

But the way Dylan's thighs start to shake after Zach's had his mouth on Dylan's dick for only a minute or two is just—it's unlike anything else they do. And he scored two goals tonight—preseason or not—which is more than deserving of a blowjob.

Dylan threads one of his hands through Zach's hair, tugging just a little bit. He's wearing his ring, he must have put it on in the car, and it's cool against Zach's scalp.

Zach pulls off and rests his forehead against Dylan's hip, just long enough to take a steadying breath, and Dylan says something, too soft for him to hear. He nods anyway, breathing in the familiar scent of Dylan's skin.

It doesn't take him long to get Dylan off after that, not with how keyed up Dylan's been probably since he scored. Zach is good at it by now anyway, swirls his tongue and hollows his cheeks and even manages to use his hand in the same rhythm as his mouth, which he can't always pull off. Dylan pushes his head away slightly, because he knows that Zach doesn't like the taste of jizz, and gets a hand around himself.

"Come on," Zach says, "You can't come on my face." His voice sounds completely fucked.

"Not even for scoring two goals in the NHL?" Dylan asks, whiny. Zach rolls his eyes.

"Just because you're into that—"

Dylan pouts openly. Zach drops his shoulders. "If you get a hat trick, we'll talk."

The look on Dylan's face is unconscionably smug. He's going to have a hat trick by January, Zach is sure of it. He stands up and gets his hand around Dylan's dick, leaning in to kiss him.

"You taste like me," Dylan says against his lips, and Zach shudders involuntarily. Everything is always different—everything is always more—with Dylan, and it's wonderful and overwhelming every time.

Zach only works his hand a few times before Dylan is coming in hot spurts over his wrist, a few streaks across the bottom of the winter classic t-shirt Zach is still wearing.

"Covered in my come is a good look for you," Dylan says, right against Zach's ear.

"Why are you so possessive?" Zach asks, trying to make it whiny. It's hard, because he's really into it, and Dylan knows that, but he gives himself credit for trying. Especially when he's this hard.

Dylan gives him an impressively flat look for someone who just came. "You love it," he says. "Can I show you my bedroom now?"

"Are you gonna get me off?" Zach says.

"Are you gonna wear one of my jerseys?" Dylan asks, pushing him away and walking down the hall.

Zach thinks about it for a split second and then—"Yeah, okay," he says.

 

10

Zach's used to waking up next to Dylan by now, though it's nice to do in a real bed instead of smashed into an XL twin together, with his arm pressed against the wall weirdly and Dylan nearly smothering him.

This morning, Dylan is starfished across most of the bed, snoring a little bit, and Zach is next to him, one of his legs over Dylan's. Dylan's arm is probably asleep, since Zach is lying entirely on top of it, and he's not a small guy, but if Dylan doesn't care, Zach's not going to move. Zach might fall back asleep for a while, or maybe he just drifts, but when he opens his eyes again, Dylan is awake, using one hand to play around with his phone.

"My arm is asleep," Dylan says. Zach squirms, lifting himself up on his elbows so Dylan can put his arm somewhere else, and then immediately flops back down onto the bed. He rolls so that he's draped even more across Dylan, and Dylan puts his phone down to draw idle circles on the skin of Zach's back. Zach hums happily, tucking his face into Dylan's shoulder.

"I missed you," Dylan says. His breath is warm against the side of Zach's face.

"You're the one who left," Zach says and—it's mean, but he can't stop himself.

Dylan voice is a little sad when he says, "I know." He doesn't stop moving his fingers over Zach's skin, and he doesn't push Zach away, but it's not like Zach doesn't know he's hurt. Zach kisses his shoulder but he doesn't say anything else.

It's not that he begrudges Dylan for hockey being the most important thing to him, because it is to Zach too, and that's why this works. It's just easy to forget how much being second-best hurts sometimes.

"I wish the Wings had drafted you," Dylan says, and that hurts too, because he knew that was what Zach wanted, and he'd been sitting there at the draft, his fingers laced through Zach's, and he'd been one of the first people Zach hugged when his name was called.

"Yeah," Zach says. His voice is small; he's not sure if Dylan even heard him. And then, even smaller, "I understand why you left. I just miss you."

Dylan sighs. "Yeah." He pauses for a moment, and his hand stills on Zach's back. "It's easier to sleep when you're here."

Zach huffs a low laugh. "You're welcome in my tiny dorm bed whenever you want."

Dylan signs again, longsuffering this time, the kind of fake exasperation that always makes Zach laugh at him. "The worst thing is, I love you enough to do that."

"I love you too," Zach whispers. Then he sucks a hickey into the skin above Dylan's collarbone, because it'll be nice and obvious where everyone can drag him for it.

 

11

They spend the morning lazing around together before Dylan goes to practice in the afternoon. Zach irresponsibly plays hooky from all his obligations, saying he's a little sick, and lies around on Dylan's couch all afternoon. It's comfortable enough, even if the lack of coffee table makes it hard to find places to set things.

Dylan gets back in the early evening, and he brings takeout, because Zach has the best husband. Zach kisses him hello at the door, and they talk about Dylan's practice, and Michigan, and how terrible it is to have a roommate you're not sleeping with over slightly cold burgers.

"At least he's not as messy as you," Zach says. "But he snores sometimes and I can't kiss him until he wakes up and stops."

"You better not be," Dylan says, scowling ridiculously. Zach kisses his cheek, because how can he not, when Dylan looks that ridiculous.

After dinner, he sulks around for a few minutes, resting his head on Dylan's shoulder and closing his eyes. Eventually, he forces himself to say that he needs to leave. "I can't ditch everything again," he says. It sounds like he's pouting. He kind of is.

"Leave in the morning," Dylan says, and Zach sighs.

"You know I won't, we'll have morning sex and then I'll fall asleep, and then I'll miss practice and get kicked off the team."

"Ugh," Dylan says, and then, "Just come be my husband full-time." The words are clearly joking—Dylan would never seriously ask that of him—but his voice is serious anyway. Like he wishes it didn't have to be a joke.

Zach kind of wishes that.

Instead of saying anything, he climbs over Dylan's thighs to kiss him, long and slow and hard, and then leaves before he can be tricked into staying longer.

From his car, before he gets on the road, he texts Dylan love u miss u .

 

12

It's not the best holding pattern, but they can make do like this. Zach doesn't get to touch Dylan as much as he wants, but—it's enough to wear his ring when he sleeps and pretend he can feel Dylan's hands tracing gentle shapes on his skin.

 

13

In November, Zach gets hammered at a party. It's been a while since he did, because he spends as much of his spare time as possible curled up in Dylan's apartment, but well—Dylan's on the road, and Zach doesn't have any big assignments this week, so why not?

It's fun for a while, playing flip cup and shooting the shit and arguing loudly about football, but it turns out that having Dylan around makes a difference in his mood because Zach ends up the morose kind of drunk, curled at one end of the couch and sulking.

JT drops onto the seat next to him, and Zach drops his legs in his lap. "You're a fucking downer tonight, man," JT says. Zach halfheartedly kicks him, but he knows it's true. He shrugs, and doesn't say anything. It's not worth the effort to deny it. "You gonna be okay?" JT asks.

Zach shrugs again. He will be, but he's a little worried that if he starts talking right now, it's just going to be a lot of rambling about how much he misses Dylan. Which like—the guys mostly know that he does, but he doesn't know how much he would say.

JT stares at him for a long moment, and then pats his calf a few times. "I'm gonna take you home, bud," he says, and Zach doesn't argue. He doesn't really want to be here anyway. There's music thudding around them and it's dark and smells like cheap alcohol and Kool-Aid. And Dylan's not here to play bad drunk ping-pong with him and pretend to make him dance.

Because JT is a good person, he herds Zach all the way into his dorm room and makes sure he's in bed with two bottles of water on the dresser next to him.

"Drink both of those before you go to sleep," he says, and then, "Do you have any Advil?"

"'s in the desk," Zach says. His eyes are already closing. He's drifting when JT shakes him a couple of times and tells him to sit up so he can take the Advil. Zach doesn't argue, it's just that moving is hard. "Where's my phone?" he asks, and JT rolls his eyes.

"Are you gonna call Dylan about how drunk and sad you are?"

Zach nods, and JT shakes his head. "You two are fuckin' codependent, I don't fuck with that." But he hands Zach his phone and leaves the room. "Don't forget to drink your water," he says as he closes the door behind him.

He calls Dylan as soon as the door is shut, but Dylan doesn't pick up. He's probably asleep, because it's late and he played earlier. Zach mumbles, "I love you and I miss you and you should come home," into Dylan's voicemail and then hangs up, chugs one of the bottles of water, and goes to sleep.

 

14

Dylan calls him the next afternoon, when Zach is still pretty hungover but mostly functional. He's curled up in his bed against the wall with a cup of coffee and a textbook he's supposed to be reading. Mostly, he's looking at Instagram on his phone.

"Hey," Dylan says when Zach answered. He's speaking softly, which Zach appreciates. "How's your head?"

Zach makes a noncommittal noise. "It's been worse."

"You sounded pretty hammered last night," Dylan says.

"Yeah, a bit. It's not a big deal," Zach says. He remembers what he said to Dylan, but it was hardly his proudest moment. It would be nice to play it cool.

Dylan isn't really the type to do that, but it's worth a shot.

"Hey, Zach," Dylan says. "If you're—if you're not happy, we need to talk about that. Figure out a way to fix it."

"I'm too hungover," Zach says.

"Okay, fair point," Dylan concedes. "But when you're not hungover, I want to talk about this. Because I love you, and I want you to be happy."

"You make me happy," Zach mumbles. Dylan makes a pleased noise and Zach just—he wishes Dylan was here, making that noise against his skin.

"You make me happy too," Dylan says gently. Zach curls up with the phone against his ear and Dylan stays on the line until he falls asleep.

 

15

Dylan is good to his word, and they do actually talk about it.

Not for a few weeks, and not until they're sprawled on the floor of Dylan's parents' living room after Thanksgiving dinner. Zach's parents are in the other room too, talking about—parent things. Dylan had a glass of wine too many, and he's loose and smiley, poking at the muscles of Zach's arm. Zach is just kind of floaty with it, good food and good company and plenty of time to spend with Dylan.

After a long time of lying on his back, Dylan rolls onto his side and stills his hand, letting it rest across Zach's bicep.

"Hey," he says, in the same tone he uses when Zach is too hungover to be a real person. "We were gonna talk about you being drunk and sad, right?"

"Do we have to?" Zach says, but he doesn't mean it and he immediately adds, "I know we do."

Dylan presses a soft kiss against his cheek. "What can I do?" he asks.

"I don't know," Zach says. "Spend more time with me?" He feels desperately needy, like this might be the time he's finally asked for too much. It's—neither of them is ever going to be more important than hockey. That's just how it goes. If Zach was in Dylan's position, he'd have made the same choices.

Dylan pulls himself closer to Zach, throwing an arm across his hips. "You could move in with me," he says. "It's not too far to commute to school."

Zach honest to god forgets to breathe for a solid fifteen seconds. He stares at the lines and curves of Dylan's face, the twist of his mouth, serious and fond all at once. "That's—" he starts to say, but he doesn't know where the thought is going.

They're married, but somehow this feels like even more. Like they're adults.

"Only if you want to," Dylan says, his voice uncertain now.

"I don't know," Zach says, because if he can't be honest with his husband, then what's the point. "But I'll think about it?"

"Good," Dylan says. He kisses Zach's cheek again.

 

16

Instead of thinking about whether he wants to move in with Dylan, Zach thinks about free agency. Not even in a serious way, just idly, in his walks between classes and while he's counting reps in the weight room.

He texts Dylan about it one day, wrung out from an exam and a bag skate in the same day, and Dylan answers with "" which isn't even a real answer, forget a helpful one.

Besides, on other days, he thinks about playing in the NHL—next year, or the year after—and it's hard not to want that. At least he doesn't have to decide now.

 

17

Zach wears his ring home from school by accident; he put it on while he was throwing a few things in a suitcase, because his roommate had already left, and doesn't think to take it off. It feels so natural on his finger now that he's started keeping it tucked under his pillow and sleeping with it on.

It was his idea, but he told Dylan he was going to do it, and Dylan smiled at him, and—it helped, a little. Not as good as having Dylan in bed with him, but better than nothing.

Either way—he's still wearing the ring when he walks into the kitchen from the garage, his suitcase in one hand and his phone in the other. His gear is still in the car, and he's texting Dylan that he got home safely. Everyone hugs him, even though they come to games regularly. He doesn't even think about it until he's hugging his dad, the kind of manly, back-patting hug they always do, and his mom says, a strange tone in her voice, "Zach, are you wearing a ring?"

"Uh," Zach says, mostly to buy himself time but it's not like there's any point in lying. It's clearly visible on his finger, the weight of it suddenly very present in his mind. "Yes."

The silence is deafening. He waits for a minute, hoping someone will say something—anything—and save him the trouble of explaining, but no one does. "Dylan and I got married?" he offers. "Last summer. After the draft."

He's faced with a room of blank stares, which is a pretty fair reaction. He's not actually sure how many of them knew he and Dylan were together rather than just good friends. His mom looks like she might cry, and he doesn't know if it would be in a good way or not.

"Sorry for not telling anyone," Zach says. "We didn't know how—"

He spins the ring on his finger nervously, and forces himself to make eye contact with each of his parents in turn.

"Why don't we talk about this after dinner?" his mom says. She doesn't sound angry, she just—doesn't exactly sound happy either.

Zach nods. It's not like he can say no.

Dinner is mostly normal. Zach lets the conversation flow around him and fiddles with his ring. He doesn't eat very much, and his mom shoots him a few concerned looks. After everyone else finishes eating, and Zach finishes pushes his food around and pretending he's going to eat it, he lets his parents herd him into the den. They sit on the sofa and he sits in a chair across the coffee table from them.

It feels distinctly like an interrogation.

"So," his mom says. At least her voice is kind. "You and Dylan got married?"

Zach nods.

"Why?" his mom asks.

Zach shrugs one shoulder, and then, glancing at his parents' faces, elaborates. "Dylan was leaving and it seemed like—I don't know, it was a good way of not letting that change everything."

There's a lengthy silence, and then his dad speaks. "Are you happy?" he asks.

It's—not the question Zach expected.

"Yeah," he says. His voice is soft. "I am."

"Okay," his mom says. His dad nods. "We're going to need some time to process this," his mom continues. "But you should bring Dylan over for dinner before Christmas."

And then his mom hugs him again, longer this time, and his dad claps his shoulder. Zach closes his eyes, takes a deep breath. That wasn't so bad.

 

18

"You said we needed to talk?" Dylan says, as soon as Zach answers his phone. He sounds worried, which Zach supposes is fair. "We need to talk" almost never leads to good things.

"Yeah," Zach says, and then, because he might as well spit it out, "My parents know. About us. That we're married."

"Oh," Dylan says. He sounds underwhelmed.

"I accidentally wore my ring home from school and they asked about it." Zach shrugs even though Dylan can't see. "They're a little upset, I think, but they didn't yell at me or anything. They want you to come over for dinner."

Dylan sighs. He doesn't say anything for a while, and Zach tenses. He forgets to breathe for a moment, too focused on the sound of Dylan's breathing over the phone.

"Dylan?" Zach asks, when the uncertainty is too much for him. "Are you mad at me?"

"No," Dylan says immediately. "Just ... thinking." He pauses again, but only for a moment this time. "Ask your parents when they want me to come and I will. And I guess we should tell my parents?"

"I guess," Zach says. "The longer we wait, the more upset they'll be, right? Especially if my parents know."

"I'll tell them tomorrow," Dylan says, softly. "Maybe you can come over for a while on Christmas or something."

Zach exhales, and he can feel the tension leave his shoulders. "That would be nice."

"It'll be nice to have some people know," Dylan says. "I'm going to miss having you all to myself, though."

"Me too," Zach says, and then, because Dylan's possessive streak makes it easy to provoke him, "I guess that means I'm not getting a threesome for Christmas."

"Fuck no," Dylan says.

 

(18.5

Zach doesn't get a threesome for Christmas, but Dylan does get to fuck Zach in a Larkin Michigan jersey, his wedding ring, and nothing else. It goes, in Zach's opinion, extremely well.)

 

19

Dylan brings a bottle of wine over to dinner, and Zach stares at him for a long time when he answers the door.

"Did you make your parents buy you a bottle of wine to bring over?" he finally asks, completely failing at keeping the laughter out of his voice.

Dylan turns pink, high on his cheeks, and smiles sheepishly. "Yeah," he says. "It seemed like the polite thing to do."

"You're ridiculous," Zach says, but he leans in and kisses Dylan quickly. "Now my parents are going to think I'm married to someone who casually breaks the law."

"But they already like me, right?" Dylan asks, and he sounds genuinely nervous. It's fucking adorable. Zach kisses him again for it.

"They do, you nerd," he says. "Come inside before the dog gets out."

 

20

The Larkins come over on Christmas night, ostensibly for dessert. It turns into a lot of wine and a little dessert, and, predictably, Zach and Dylan end up lying on their backs on the floor of the den, with one of Dylan's legs tossed over Zach's. Zach can hear their parents talking in the other room, over the low drone of the stereo playing the same CD of Christmas carols they've listened to every year since he can remember, but it's too quiet to make out the words.

He may have had too much wine.

"I'm glad you're here," he says, and Dylan makes a pleased noise. Dylan may also have had too much wine. There was a lot of wine.

"Me too," Dylan says.

Zach doesn't actually move, because moving is hard and he had a lot of food earlier, but he fumbles his hand around until he can lace his fingers through Dylan's. It's his right hand, but it's Dylan's left, and he's wearing his wedding ring.

"I'm glad we're married," Zach says, quieter this time. "I love you."

"Fuck," Dylan whispers. He squeezes Zach's hand. He doesn't say it back, but it doesn't matter. Zach knows, in the bone-deep way he knows that his parents love him, that hockey is the right thing for him to do with his life. Death and taxes and Dylan loves him, or something.

"I'm kinda drunk," he says instead, and Dylan laughs.

"Me too." And then, after a few seconds, "Want more wine? I bet we can steal a bottle and no one will care."

"Mmm," Zach says, which isn't really an answer.

"My parents think I'm going to dd for them but there's no way I'm sleeping without you tonight," Dylan continues, a little rambling.

"Are you trying to get me drunk and seduce me?" Zach laughs, delighted. "Because you definitely don't need to work that hard."

"I just wanna get drunk and kiss you," Dylan says. Zach's whole body feels warm and he doesn't know if it's the wine or Dylan or the heat seeping across the floor from the fireplace. Dylan kisses his cheek and stands up, groaning a little. He looks slightly off-balance.

Zach contemplates the ceiling for a few minutes, and thinks about how great his life is right now.

When Dylan gets back, he drags Zach onto the couch with him, saying that Zach's parents will decide to hate him if they get wine all over the carpet. He even brought glasses—"I didn't want everyone to think we're slobs," he says, looking sheepish.

They don't use the glasses. Zach throws his legs over Dylan's thighs, bending them so can lean against Dylan's side. Dylan curls a hand at the back of his neck, and Zach leans his head into it. They pass the bottle back and forth a few times. The wine is sweet. Apparently Zach's mom said it was dessert wine when Dylan grabbed the bottle.

Dylan's drawing circles with his thumb on the top of Zach's shoulder, and Zach doesn't ever want him to stop. He twists himself around until he can rest his head on Dylan's shoulder, even though he nearly knees the wine bottle in Dylan's hand in the process.

They're silent for a long time, listening to the music they can barely hear.

"Are you still open to having a roommate next year?" Zach asks. The words are muffled against Dylan's skin, but it doesn't matter. The room is quiet anyway.

In the other room, the dog barks twice. Someone laughs. The music gets briefly louder, and then quiet again.

"Do you even need to ask?" Dylan says. He sounds a lot like he did when said he did take Zach as his husband. "But only if you're the roommate. I don't wanna live with anyone else."

Zach curls himself in closer. Dylan keeps talking, because he's a jackass. "I can't just lie around naked with anyone else. They complain."

Zach shoves at him, but not very hard because he doesn't have leverage and he doesn't actually want to stop snuggling. "Good," he says. "I don't want you lying around naked with anyone else anyway." He wrinkles his nose at the thought, even though Dylan can't see.

The bottle of wine is half empty now, and Zach grabs it and takes one more long pull before he sets it on the floor. "I wanna make out now," he says. Dylan grins at him.

"Good," he says, pulling Zach into his lap for real. "I always wanna make out with you."