The summer after Cam and Eric started their thing - whatever it was; Eric wasn't going to pressure Cam to label it - Cam decided to stay in Raleigh for the most part, to get conditioned with Pete and stick to a routine and everything. Eric stayed too, flying his parents and brothers down. He was expecting a decently relaxed summer until their first morning, when Cam woke up at eight A.M. and said, "Oh, you're up."
Eric only got up a few minutes ago. He blinked at Cam and said, "I made coffee?"
"You don't know how to turn it off, do you," Cam said. He grabbed the coffee, though, and his mouth was curling up in what Eric recognized as a more or less approving smile.
"Not really," Eric said. "So what're your plans for today?"
Cam checked the clock. "I'm going to go running. Shower. Hang out. You?"
Eric blinked. "Like, to the gym?"
Cam shook his head. "I run outside in the summer," he said. "Pete says it's good for endurance. I tend to agree."
"Oh," Eric said. "Okay." He glanced outside. The air conditioner was already running; it looked hot. "We should play Xbox when you're done," he said.
"Sure," Cam said.
All in all, it's a nondescript moment. Eric's only remembering it now because it's a few summers later, Jordy's been signed, and he's bought a house near Eric's. They got a little too drunk the night before, so now Jordy's stretching and saying, "Hey, where's Cam?"
"Upstairs, getting his running clothes on," Eric says. "Wait, how do you know Cam's over? He -"
"Come on," Jordy says, rolling his eyes. "You guys are dating. Don't deny it."
Eric doesn't. It's probably easier in the long run not to, anyway.
"Wait," Jordy says when Eric doesn't answer. "Did you say running clothes?"
"Yes?" Eric hazards.
"Eric," Jordy says. "It's like, nine hundred degrees out. Celsius."
Eric glances out the kitchen window at the thermometer hanging on the deck. "It's ninety-five, actually. Fahrenheit."
"And he's going to jog in that shit?"
Eric shrugs. "He wants to stay in shape. Whenever the season starts, he needs to be ready."
"Right, and there are tons of ways to condition that don't involve -"
"I'll see you two in a bit," Cam says. He crooks a hand.
"He doesn't even have Gatorade." Jordy sounds like he's being strangled.
"He drinks it when he gets back," Eric says. "Um, bye," he adds, because Cam's just standing there, looking vaguely amused.
"Bye," Cam says, and leaves.
Jordy stares at him for a minute longer, then shakes his head. "Nothing," he says. "Forget it. I'm gonna go shower."
"Don't use up all the hot water," Eric calls after him, then goes back to his coffee.
Two days before training camp would have started, Chad comes over with three bottles of Patrón. "Might as well, right?" he says when Eric raises his eyebrows.
"I guess," Eric says. He knows Rosey's right. "Come on in. Jordy and Cam are in the living room."
He pours out shots and uses a plate as a tray to bring them out - along with one of the bottles, because like Chad said, might as well. They all do a shot, then another one, and put on Anchorman.
It's not as good as talking the DJ into putting on Nickelback in a Toronto club, but then, he almost got thrown out a couple years ago for that stunt; and it's up on blowing a ton of money on Marc's stag party in New York (Eric dimly thinks that if he gets married, he'd really rather his stag party was in the middle of nowhere, with fewer cops and no cover fees). And it's kind of nice to have Cam here. Rosey doesn't give a shit that they're dating, and Eric suspects he knew there was a thing before Eric himself did. That's not that unusual - Rod knew too, and Ladd, before he was traded - but in practice it means Eric can down his fourth shot and lean against Cam, laughing at Will Ferrell and not worrying about someone reading into his arm around Cam's shoulder.
"God, you guys are gross," Jordy slurs after awhile. Anchorman's done, and they've put on the second Hangover movie. "Like...whoa."
Eric blinks and looks at Jordy, then at Cam. Cam's staring in that way he has when he's drunk, kind of hilariously intense. He's all tense and stuff, too. Eric laughs and gives in to temptation, reaching out and running his fingers over the short spikes of Cam's hair.
"This is nice," he says.
"Eric," Jordy says.
"Wow, huh, it's been awhile since I saw that." Rosey waves a hand in front of Cam's face. "Cam, you in there?"
Cam's voice sounds lazy and amused. Happy, even. Eric gives up on figuring out what's up with Jordy; he's seen Cam's death glare in practice and stuff before, so that can't be it. He pulls Cam to him and kisses him, grinning when they pull apart and Cam's glare intensifies.
Dimly, he hears Rosey say, "Have another shot, it makes it easier to deal with."
"Oh God," Jordy groans, but Eric hears tequila being poured.
He's too busy kissing Cam again. This is awesome.
After awhile, when it becomes worryingly likely that there won't be much of a season at all, it turns into just Cam, Eric, Jordy, and a couple others. Cam starts practicing with a grim look on his face that Eric remembers from the summer of 2007, after they missed the playoffs, when health problems meant there was all kinds of talk about how Cam wasn't in good enough shape. He's in goal without practice gloves, as usual, but it's more noticeable considering that there's only a few of them.
Eric doesn't think much of it until Jordy skates up to Cam during a lull and says, "Dude, where are your practice gloves?"
Cam shrugs. "At Eric's, maybe. I don't use them much."
Jordy looks over at Eric. "You let him?"
"Uh, I'm not really in charge."
"Tom thinks it's fine."
"Oh, well if - wait, who's Tom?"
"Cam's coach," Eric says, amused. "You've met him."
Jordy groans. "Tell me you've noticed," Jordy says. "Please tell me this is weird to you."
"He's a goalie. Isn't Fleury like this?"
"No," Jordy says. "Dude. No."
"Oh." Eric shrugs. "Well. We should get back to practice."
Jordy looks kind of like he's about to cry, but then, he looks like that a lot. Eric ignores it and skates to the other end of the ice.
It's Eric's fault, really. Jordy said he might come over, but when he doesn't show up by noon Eric wraps his arms around Cam's waist and kisses him, saying, "Hey, day off. Want to do that thing with the handcuffs?"
It would never have occurred to Eric on his own, but Cam likes it, and Eric has been kind of surprised to find that he does, too. He tests them once he's cuffed to the headboard, as usual; and as usual, they don't give. He grins at Cam, who looks back with a completely solemn expression.
"Well?" Eric says. He tilts his hips. "I'm waiting, here."
So really, it's Eric's fault when Jordy comes in as Cam's teasing Eric, kissing him everywhere but his dick, and Eric's tugging on the handcuffs and begging in a low voice, "Cam, please, come on, please."
"Holy fucking shit, no," says a strangled voice from the door. Eric looks over and freezes. "Jordy -"
"I'm going home!" Jordy all but yells. Eric's bedroom door slams shut, and Eric hears Jordy bounding down the stairs.
"I thought he wasn't coming," Cam says. He doesn't really seem bothered, but then, it's not his brother who just saw him handcuffed to a bed.
"Guess he was," Eric says. "Um."
Cam quirks an eyebrow at him. "Mood killed?"
"Yeah," Eric says. "Sorry."
Cam shrugs and uncuffs Eric. Eric has bruises - he usually does, though he's a little surprised they're there before they really got to the main event. Cam loosely circles Eric's wrists with his own hands, then kisses the palms of Eric's hands.
It's a weird kind of apology, Eric thinks; weird and unnecessary, really. Being tied up isn't that weird. Jordy's always been sensitive about his brothers having sex. But Cam's eyes are all dark and serious, so Eric just smiles back.
Cam moves in the July after the lockout. Eric doesn't think much of it until Jordy comes over about a week before they're due in Thunder Bay and says, "So, um, the room I normally crash in is full of shit?"
"Oh," Eric says. "Right. Cam moved in."
Jordy snorts. "And he's totally your roommate and not your roommate, right? Dude, you don't have to pretend with anyone who's gonna see your guest rooms."
"No, he just likes having his own space," Eric says. "I mean, he's got a lot of crap, and sometimes he sleeps alone. I think he meditates. Why?"
"He meditates? Seriously?"
"Do you not do that with Heather?" Heather's been living with Jordy for almost six months now. Eric's pretty sure Jordy's going to propose any day.
"Meditate?" Jordy shakes his head. "I should just stop being weirded out," he mutters, then adds, "It's not a big deal. I was just surprised."
"Okay," Eric says dubiously. Privately he thinks 'surprised' might be pushing it a little, but hey, if Jordy's comfortable then Eric's not going to get on him for it or anything. "Anyway, Cam's coming home with us. I told Mom and Dad already."
"Are you guys going to share a room?" Jordy says.
Eric smacks the back of his head. "Obviously," he says. "I don't know why you act like me and Cam are some kind of freak parade."
Jordy laughs himself so hard he's almost sick. Eric's not even going to try to analyze that.
Eric is not a pregnant woman or a teenage boy, but sometimes he wakes up at midnight and just really, really wants a snack. He's gotten creative with it over the years, because Pete really is kind of a lunatic about nutrition, and Eric will be damned if post-retirement Rod shows him up when they work out together. So really, open-faced pickles and fancy cheddar on whole wheat bread is far from the weirdest thing he's eaten.
But when Cam stumbles downstairs and blinks at Eric sitting at the kitchen table, it's obvious he doesn't agree.
"I was hungry," Eric says.
"Are those pickles?"
"I like pickles."
Cam shakes his head. "That looks disgusting."
"I like it," Eric says, and takes a giant bite just to prove he's not lying.
"Well." Cam looks a little uneasy. "You put up with a lot from me," he says finally.
Eric reminds himself to propose to Cam soon. He keeps forgetting, even though he's had the ring for a month and doesn't think it will really be that big a deal. Happy, sure, but not a huge thing. "Sure," Eric says when he realizes Cam's waiting for a response. "I mean, I guess. I don't know. I really don't mind."
Cam smiles a little, then goes to the sink and gets himself a glass of water. "I'm going back to bed," he says. He leans down and kisses Eric's temple; since Eric has pickle breath, he can respect that.
"Night," he says. Cam smiles at him, and on impulse Eric sticks his pinkie through a pickle that fell out of the sandwich and waves it at Cam.
Cam's laugh is fond. "You freak," he says, and goes upstairs.
Eric smiles and takes another huge bite of sandwich.
Really, when you get down to it, he's pretty damn lucky.