The doctor release Alexei from the hospital two hours after Kent had made his post on twitter. Two hours after he had turned his phone off, knowing full well that he was going to get an angry call not only from the PR department of his team, but possibly Alexei’s as well.
“How are you feeling?” He asked Alexei, as they get into the car that they called for. He was still unsteady on his feet. “I’m kinda surprised you haven’t been nauseated.”
“Oh no. That happened while you were on your way here. Six hours were being most miserable time, Kenny. Am glad I am not having flow. Would have been sick on it.”
Kent wrinkled his nose, “Well. We’ll just get you to bed when we get home.”
“You come to bed too?” Alexei grinned wolfishly.
Kent’s eyes flicked to the driver, and back to Alexei. “For a nap, if you want.”
“I was thinking...”
Kent stared. “You are recovering from a concussion. I’m not sure that---”
“ Лучик , I asking doctor. He said is okay. Just be careful. We just be careful, yes?” Alexei grinned.
“Xi...I really don’t think the nice driver wants to hear about our sex life. We’ll talk about it when we get home.” Kent leaned against Alexei’s good arm, and took his hand. It was so hard being the adult. He wondered if that was how Alexei felt much of the time.
“Is fine. We talk at home.”
Kent hummed his approval, and threaded their fingers together. Alexei’s hand was warm in his own. One more thing that was different from Jack. That was a comfort. He needed all the comfort he could get considering what he was going to have to deal with.
“Okay, we can talk then.” He leaned heavily against Alexei and wondered when the other man’s home had become his as well, but it was. Just like his Apartment was Alexei’s as well. When he this even happened. He was blind-sided. “I’m tired, Xi.”
“We nearly being home. It be fine.”
“I don’t think it will be,” Kent said in a tiny voice. “Everyone saw us. You know that picture is everywhere.”
“Shhhhhh...breath. We talk at home.”
There was paparazzi outside of the gates, and Kent thought to find out whoever thought to send a car with tinted windows, and was doubly grateful Tater had moved into a gated community.
They finally arrived, they both thanked the driver and made their way inside. The house was quiet. Kent knew that Bittle and Jack would swing by in a few hours with Katya and the cats. It was a good thing not to have to worry about that at least. Not when there was a mountain of worry about other things.
Kent shook. He knew he should be strong. Alexei was hurt, but it was just too much. He had never wanted to come out like this. He didn’t want to talk to PR, or the lawyers, and definitely not the press. “I’m just going to hide in here forever. I can be your house husband. It will be great.”
Alexei squinted at him, wobbling on his feet. “No, this is not option. You are not making good stay at home Kent. You are not Bittle.”
“You know. I resent that. I really do? Rude, Alexei. Rude.”
“Truth. You are not baking delicious pies. Although short and blond. Tiny. Крошечные блондинка котенка.” Alexei laughed, and then winced, putting a hand to his head. “Come, nap time.”
“Just a nap. Don’t get any ideas in your head I don’t care what that idiot of a doctor said. I won’t be responsible for you being sent back to the hospital.” Alexei grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the bedroom. Alexei shucked off clothes as soon as they are in the room, or at least tried to. Kent ended up helping him carefully remove his shirt. He got a good look at the dark blue, black and yellow bruises that covered Alexei’s torso.
Kent stepped back to look at the damage. “Fuck.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? This is the farthest thing from fine.” Kent stepped close again, but doesn’t reach out for him. “I don’t want to hurt you. Maybe I should go sleep in the guest room.”
“Is fine,” Alexei say again. “Need to hold you.” He strips and climbs into bed leaving Kent shaking his head.
Kent didn’t have the heart to even chirp him for it. He needed to be held. He rummaged through the drawer, dragging out a pair of his own PJ pants, and one of Alexei’s Falconer’s t-shirts. At least one of them had to be decent to get the door when Bitty and Jack came over.
Alexei wrapped his arms around the smaller man, as much as he could, all things considered, and was asleep shortly thereafter. It wasn’t a surprise to Kent. It had been a fucking long (and stressful day), and he couldn’t not imagine that the meds that Alexei was on were helping much.
He put in a notification on his phone when Alexei was supposed to take his next dose, then flipped over to messaging when the notification popped up.
Bittle:Talked to Karen. Cats on plane safe. Picking up @ 8.
Bittle:Do u want us to bring dinner?
me:Please...omg PLEASE. UR the best. And ginger ale. щ(ಥ◡ಥ)щ Tater didn’t tell me he had been sick.
Bittle:It was v.v.bad. threw up on Snowy.
me: Wait...why was Snowy there?
Bittle:I know what you’re thinking, and don’t get jealous. He’s an Emergency contact. They got ahold of him first.
He set his alarm for a little bit before eight, and set it off to the side. He closed his eyes, using Alexei as a big giant pillow he was soon drifting towards sleep himself. The steady beat of the Russian’s heart was soothing, and for once he didn’t fight it. He let himself drift and fall into it.
Bittle:OMW w/Jack. And Cats. And Alexei’s monster.
Bittle:Also...food. Hope you like Pho!
me: <3 it. How are my kitehs?
Bittle: Loud. They are very loud. Also cute. ↖(^▽^)↗↖(^▽^)↗↖(^▽^)↗↖(^▽^)↗
Stealing Kit. Sorry not sorry.
me: (ノ °益°)ノ 彡 (\ .o.)\
Bittle: lol. See you n a bit.
Eight-thirty rolled around and Kent went into the bedroom with a cup of water and the pain meds for Alexei. “Wake up, Alexei. Jack and Bittle will be here any minute.”
Alexei cracked an eye open. “Back to bed, Kenny. Sleep.”
“No, Xi. You need to get up.” He handed the medicine and the glass over once Alexei finally sat up.
Alexei hummed, “You are being the best, Kenny. Take such good care of me.”
“I don’t know about that. I feel like this is all my fault, and...the thing with the paparazzi. I just...I’m sorry. I know you didn’t want anyone to know. I’ve just ruined it all.”
“Stop it, Kenny. I will be having none of that. I am being glad you weren’t with me. You could have been hurt...killed.”
“Right. Well. You should get something on.”
“Pfft, is fine. Zimmboni sees me in locker room all the time.”
“No. It’s not fine. Like at all.” He crossed the room and threw a pair of boxers ar Alexei. “Need help?”
“Not if you want me decent for Itty Bitty, and Zimmboni.” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. “Yes?”
“Yes, my Kenny?”
He was saved from seeing Alexei pouting by the doorbell. He opened the door and stood aside to let Jack and Eric in. Eric brought in the cat carriers, and Jack led in Katya in with one hand, a big bag of food in the other. “We’ll get dinner together, eh?” Jack said and pulled Bittle towards the Kitchen.
Kit growled in the carrier. She never traveled well. Spud on the other hand was sleeping soundly in the other carrier.
Alexei wandered in and gasped. “Cats here already?”
“Yes, they are. Kent opened the carrier, and watched Kit saunter out. The Scottish fold gave him a sour look as she stretched and rubbed herself against Katya’s legs. The husky made an excited yip. She loved the little cat (or all cats for that matter).
Spud was slower to leave the carrier. He cracked open one eye and stared at the people around him. It was several minutes before he wobbled out of the carrier, already purring loudly.
“Can I pick him up?” Alexei asked.
“Sure thing,” Kent said. “He’s a sweety. You might want to go put on a shirt though. Otherwise he might claw you up.” He stood on tip-toe and pressed a kiss against Alexei’s cheek. “I’m going to help Jack and Bittle in the kitchen.”
Kent watched Jack and Bittle move about the kitchen, pulling out bowls and pulling out the cartons of food from the bag. They looked comfortable and at ease together. Sure of themselves in a way he never really felt. His mother had always said ‘fake it till you make it’. He never felt like he had ever quite got there, and this thing with Alexei was not so different. His hands were shaking. He pressed them together, hoping to hide it.
“Need some help?” he finally spit out.
Eric looked him up and down, and frowned. “Oh...hun. You look exhausted. Why don’t you sit.”
“I’m fine,” Kent said. “I mean. It’s not like---I’m not the one that is hurt.”
Eric and Jack exchanged a look. “Kent---”
“I’m fine. I’m just mad that our privacy was violated. And---I should probably call my therapist.” He wrapped his arms around himself tightly.
“I can hook you up with someone to talk to, if you need it,” Jack said quietly.
“I’m---no it’s fine.”
“Clearly it isn’t, hun,” Eric said quietly. “You are shaking like a leaf.” Eric hugged him, and it was his undoing. He sniffled, feeling like an idiot as tears trickled down his cheeks.
“Why are you being so nice? You don’t even like me?”
“Oh, Kent. You are...you realize we are friends right?” Eric rubbed his back gently, seemingly okay with the way Kent hung on and cried his eyes out. “This is going to work out. Things are going to be okay. Promise. You are liked and loved, and we all care about you.”
“People saw,” he whispered. “It was private. I just f-feel so violated. I didn’t want it to happen this way.”
Eric held him more tightly. “I’m sorry.”
Kent sniffed. “Not like it’s your fault. I just wasn’t prepared.” he pulled away, and wiped at his face. “I’m ready for this to be over.”
“I can imagine,” Jack said. “Dad said to keep your chin up. Also said to tell you if you and Alexei want to hide out in their cabin out in Halifax you are more than welcome.”
“Really?” Kenny bit at his lip. “That is tempting.”
“It’s an open offer,” Jack said. “Just think about it. Staying out of the spotlight for a while wouldn't be a bad thing.”
“Guess it depends on what Allison and George says. And how the press conference goes.” Kent looked sick at the thought of it.
Alexei finally came into the room, carrying Spud. “Kent! Kent! Little me is being the cutest. Look at the fuzziness.”
Kent couldn’t stay sad with the picture Alexei presented. “You both are. Where is Kit?”
“Growling on the couch. Kit is not being happy. Not at all,” Alexei said, and gently pet Spud’s fur while Katya circled him, yipping in an excited tone.
“Ya’ll need to wash your hands so we can eat, already,” Eric said. “Foods getting cold.”
“Zambonni and I are having same ‘type’. Short, mouthy blondes.” Alexei smirked, his gazed settled on Kent and laughed at the way his face scrunched up. It was only a moment before all hell broke loose and both Parse and Bittle were yelling.
“I’m not MOUTHY!” Bittle yelled.
“I’m not SHORT!” Kent yelled.
“Now you look here Mister! You can’t sit there and Compare me to him.” Bittle stabbed a finger at Kent. “My goodness, I will not stand for it! All of you go wash your hands, now!”
Alexei snickered as he walked towards the bathroom to do just that.
“Thank’s Alexei, you’ve got him all riled up now,” Jack said, but he didn’t seem to put out by it. It anything he seemed amused.
He sent a message over to Allison- ‘Free for a meeting’
‘I’ll send you a link when I get it set up. Have some news.’ Came her immediate reply.
He scrolled down the call log. He sent off a text to his mother: ‘All fine. Hiding at Alexei’s if you want to drop by tomorrow.’ and one to his sister ‘Hey, Jen. Have you talked to mom?’
There wasn’t an immediate reply from either, but he didn’t expect there to be.
He opened the message from the first of his teammates, Taz, and smiled. ‘We’ve got your back, brah.’ And from Bravo: ‘Just let us know if you and Alexei need anything. Congrats on FINALLY figured that out.’
And a puzzling from Reeder: ‘We’re flying out.’ Which didn’t make much sense until he read the next one from Foxtrot: ‘Probably should have told you sooner. Since we knew about you.’
Then it slotted all together, and so many things made much more sense. He dialed Foxtrot’s number and wasn’t surprised when he picked up on the first ring.
“So...you and Reedy?” It came out more of an accusation than he had intended.
“Three years. We do live together,” Finn said on the other end.
“I just thought that...wow. You and Reedy. I just don’t even. Are you happy? And what is this about you flying in?”
Finn Yardley smiled on the other end of the phone. “Yeah. Well. We’ve got your back.”
“So...you are going to be in the press conference too?”
“Seems like a good time. I mean...the timing sucked for you, but this is salvageable. The teams got your back, Kent. We had a meeting about it today. We’re going to shoot some PAs for You Can Play and It Gets Better. Anyway, we are leaving in a couple hours. We’ll see you then, okay?”
“Yeah. Sure. Sounds good. Take care man.”
“The PR team is flying over tonight. We will meet at the Falconers office tomorrow to finalize our plan for the press conference. It’s scheduled four days from now,” Allison said.
“Is that enough time?” Kent asked, and hated the way his voice shook.
“It would have been better if it was sooner, actually. We are going to make it as painless as possible. You make your announcements, take a couple of questions, and then we’ll turn it over to Eliot and Whitney to take over. We’ll give them information that they can release,” George said.
“Please stay off of social media until then. I’m talking to you, Kent.” Allison’s voice sounded tired. “I know this is a stressful time for you all, but it’s going to pass, and you do have the support of the team, the managers and the owners.”
“So you are just wanting us to hide out until then? What is happening with the photographer?” Alexei asked. His face pressed into a frown. It was an odd look for him, one that Kent was not overly fond of.
George cough, “I’m sure that the lawyers will want to talk to you, but yes, he has been located. As has the person that allowed him into the hospital. Or I should say people. The hospital is cooperating.”
Kent rolled his eyes, and leaned against Alexei. He didn’t hesitate to grab his hand and give it a tight squeeze. “Of course they are, they’re fucking scared of a lawsuit.”
Allison sighed, “Yes. There is that. As I said. Our lawyers will want to talk to you. From both teams. This never should have happened, and we apologize. There should have been security present.”
“We’ll send the video crew over tomorrow, Eric, like we talked about,” George said. “I already have went over the vids you sent me I think that would be fine to release on your Vlog. It was charming.” There was a smile in her voice. “Just be sure you and Jack tweet it Midnight the day before. And We are having Yardley and Reedy do the same.”
“Hold on,” Kent said. “They are what...”
“They got married last month. They were just waiting for the right time to break the news. We already had the video setup to go we were just waiting to release it. I had hoped it would be under better circumstances, but they both agreed that this was it. Deflect and diffuse boys. We’ll get through this, I promise.”
Foxtrot:We touched down. OOW. You sure this is cool?
me:Alexei is fine with it. Guest Room is ready. How was the flight?
Foxtrot:Rough. Lots of turbulence. Reeder threw up. Wow. Big guy never flies well.
Foxtrot:Dude. At least you weren’t there. You okay anyway?
me:Nope. Not at all.
Foxtrot: Don’t be that way. This will pass. They will get bored and move on.
me: Before my career is ruined?
Foxtrot: :( Don’t be like that. We’ll all be fine.
me: Also. A bone to pick. Why was I not your best man? Dude. I’m hurt.
Foxtrot: You know...the only one there was my mom and sister? Right? I guess you didn’t. It’s a sore point. Reeder’s family...
me:Oh. Wow. I’m sorry.
Foxtrot:Not your fault. Like farthest thing from your fault. I’m just not what they wanted their son to marry. We kinda knew that going in. Even after we told them I was his ‘boyfriend’ and then his fiance, they were always like ‘that roommate of yours’.
me: I’m...I’m so sorry.
Foxtrot: Hey, Kent. It’s fine. I’m sorry we didn’t tell you. You’ve always been a good friend. And a good Captain. Just keep your chin up, okay?
me:I will. See you in a bit.
Jameison Reedy @JameisonReeder_Official Big news! So excited. #vaguepost #travelingmakesmesosick #LasVegasAces
@omgcheckpleaseliked your Tweet
Eric Bittleand 6 others followed you
@JameisonReeder_Official @TheFinniganYardley So glad to finally meet you. There is pie waiting.
Finn Yardley @TheFinniganYardley
@omgcheckpleaseWait? What? Pie you say?
Eric Bittle @omgcheckplease
@TheFinniganYardley Yes. Pie. Hope you like Chocolate Chiffon.
Finn Yardley @TheFinniganYardley
@omgcheckplease \(◦'⌣'◦)/ Love that already! Can’t wait!
Eric Bittle @omgcheckplease
@JameisonReeder_Official @TheFinniganYardley our mutual friends says hi.
Jameison Reedy @JameisonReeder_Official
@omgcheckplease He okay?
Eric Bittle @omgcheckplease
@JameisonReeder_Official ಥ_ಥ Not really. Looking better though.
Крошечные блондинка котенка
how are you being?”
Kent gave him a weak smile, it wasn’t fake at least. “Tired. Just really tired. I think that we should take Bob’s off and go up to the cabin. I just want to...be alone with you for a while. I talked with the GM about it. Frank’s fine with it. God he even thought it would be a good idea, but I wanted to talk to you before I gave him an answer.”
Alexei hummed, “I think that is best idea.” He reached out, pulling Kent close. “Other than tired?”
“You know how I feel. I want this to fucking be over. I’m just scared. My sister is willing to house sit, so we won’t have to board the kids.”
Alexei snickered. “Only you.”
“Hey, i love our furry kids.”
Alexei tucked Kent’s head beneath his chin, hugging him tightly. “As do I. Katya is liking Jennifer very much. Is good. How is she and you mama?”
“They are fine. Well they were when I called them. Mom offered to drive down again. I told her we were fine, and we’ll just be there for the Fourth like we planned.”
“Is good plan,” Alexei said, tilting Kent’s face up his stole a kiss and then another.
Kent’s cheeks flushed. His breath caught in his chest, and seemed to flutter there. “I love you,” it slipped from his lips before he even thought about it. “I love you so fucking much.”
Alexei laughed, pressing their foreheads together.“Я люблю тебя так сильно, что ты не представляешь, насколько.” Alexei gave him a weak smile.
“We’ll make it through this, right?”
“I am having no doubts,” Alexei said, and finally pulled away. “Will be good to get away from it.”
“Well, we just have to get through tomorrow, and then we can do a strategic retreat.”
“In meantime, rest, Kenny. Tomorrow is being looong day.” oOoOoOoOoOoOo
“We have a lot to go over,” Eliot was saying. Kent had always liked him. He was level headed and was the easiest to deal with when it came to the PR department. “I understand that you have a lot of questions,” he said addressing the crowd, “But please hold them until the end. Kent?”
“Yeah, thanks Eliot. I’m sure you’ve already seen the picture. It’s not been a secret among my coworkers, or management.” Alexei grabbed his hand under the tabled giving it a squeeze. “I have been in a relationship with Alexei Mashkov for the past seven months. As I said it was never a secret to those who needed to know, or those we wanted to know. It has not affected our playing, it has nothing to do with that.”
“Shouldn’t you apologize to the fans,” someone yelled from the crowd.
“I’m not going to apologize. We have done nothing wrong. I would like our privacy to be respected, it has already been violated once. We were---we were outed and it is unacceptable. If either of us had been ready to announce that we are gay we would have announced it. Instead the choice was taken from us.”
His hand shook, and he found himself standing and leaving before he could even stop himself. Alexei was not far in his wake. He walked to the back, still shaking. He could hear Eliot talking, and then Jack.
“It’s fine, Kenny.”
“No. It’s not. They are going to be pissed, but if I sat out there much longer I would have said something we would all regret. They are going to have a field day with this. Fuck. I just.”
“Is fine. Eliot and Whitney have things under control. We knew that---”
“You thought I might fucking fall apart,” Kent snapped.
“No, no. Is emotional thing. Is fine. Is really fine, Kenny.”
“You guys okay?” Bittle asked as he walked up. It was only a few more minutes before Jack, Foxtrot, and Reeder were walking back to them.
“Got your back,” Foxtrot said, throwing an arm around Kent’s shoulder. “They forgot about you when we started talking. Secret marriage tops everything.”
Reeder rolled his eyes. “Why do I even put up with him?”
“I don’t even know,” Kent said, and found himself smiling.
“Dinners at our place, y’all,” Eric said. “Hope you like Key lime pie.”
“God, you need to marry me,” Foxtrot whooped.
“A. You are taken. B. He is taken. C. No, Finn. Just no,” Reeder said, and ruffled Finn’s hair. “You are the absolute worse.”
“Don’t care, gettin’ pie. Again. Our nutritionist is going to have a fit,” Finn said with a grin, he let go of Kent and flung himself at Reeder, who caught him with a laugh.
“God, you weigh a ton.”
Eric grabbed Jack’s hand as they passed, and turned back a second to watch Alexei and Kent. “You guys coming.”
“In a second,” Kent said. He grabbed Alexei’s hand, holding on tight. They watched everyone clear out before Kent turned to Alexei. “You know...you're right. I think this might actually work.”
“You are just figuring that out?” Alexei chuckled quietly.
“No. Well...yes. Maybe.”
“Oh, Kenny. We go to Canada then?”
Kent took a breath. “Yes.”