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Marry Me A Little

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Patrick has a way of fucking shit up for himself that somehow manages to drag Jonny into situations he’s unprepared for.

Crashing out of the playoffs for the second year in a row pisses Jonny off, and he just wants to go home and rest. While his preferred method of dealing with the loss is to do what Patrick likes to call his, sitting in the dark and staring at a blank TV screen routine, Patrick has a completely different way of dealing with things. They’re both angry; Jonny’s pissed off that he was injured, that he played through the injury and made things worse for himself and for the team. Patrick’s angry that he couldn’t fill in for Jonny the way that everyone seemed to expect him to and at Jonny for not being truthful about his concussion. Jonny remembers all too well the look on Patrick’s face as he’d said If you ever do this again, I’m going to kick your ass.

No amount of guilt that Jonny’s still holding on to is enough to forgive Patrick for the way he behaves after they part in the locker room. He doesn’t call and ask for help and instead, lets Jonny find out from Sharpy and the goddamn internet how he’s been spending his time since the playoffs. Jonny’s had his suspicions about the radio silence and the fact that Patrick’s never once forgotten his birthday in five years, and this year there’s been nothing, not even a text. Patrick is Jonny’s best friend - and Patrick’s always proclaimed himself as such - and he’s always trusted Patrick to come to him, trusted that Patrick knew he could come to him.

The text he gets from Sharpy is just a link to Deadspin, and Jonny’s expecting a few laughs out of whatever rumors they’ve decided are trustworthy, followed by a text exchange that will no doubt spill over to the rest of the team. What he gets instead are pictures and twitter updates from Patrick’s Madison vacation—including pictures of Kaner lying face down in bars and wearing a douchey t-shirt that leaves no doubt as to who he is. Jonny forces himself to read it all the way through, ignoring the way his fingers tighten around his laptop, the whites of his knuckles prominent against the black casing. Anger blossoms in his chest and threatens to spill over, and he grabs his phone, punching through to Patrick’s number.

Patrick picks up after three rings and Jonny doesn’t give him a chance to speak before he’s biting out, “Where the fuck are you?”

There’s a long, drawn-out silence before Patrick finally answers. When he does, he sounds groggy and distracted. “Jonny?”

Jonny’s suffered through enough of Patrick’s hangovers to know that’s what this is. He growls in the back of his throat, trying to find words. It’s rare that they manage to have a conversation that doesn’t end with them shouting at each other but that won’t solve anything. He hates trying to be fucking responsible when he just wants to kill Patrick.

Patrick finally lets out a breath and Jonny can hear the snick of a door in the background. “You know Deadspin, man.”

“Patrick,” Jonny warns. “Don’t fuck with me right now.”

“What do you want me to say?” Patrick sounds angry, and Jonny wants to reach through the phone and throttle him. He has no right to be angry with Jonny. “Jonny—”

“No.” Jonny pinches the bridge of his nose. “Get a flight to Buffalo, Patrick. You’re twenty-three years old; you’re not a rookie anymore. You can’t keep doing this shit and expecting it to be okay.”

Patrick snorts. “You sound like my mom.”

“She’s a smart fucking lady.” Jonny shuts the lid of his laptop and glares out the window at the Chicago skyline. “I’m serious. Fly home.”

“Are you—”

“You’re better than this,” Jonny interrupts. Sometimes it feels like he signed on to look after Patrick when his contract was extended, and he’s damned if he wants that responsibility. “I’m disappointed.”

Patrick’s silent on the end of the phone, but Jonny hangs up before he can say anything else. He texts a quick apology to Donna, because he knows what she always goes through whenever Patrick does shit like this, an ETA to his mother to let her know what time he’ll be arriving in Winnipeg, and goes to take a shower.

When he gets back, the only text he looks at before packing his bags is the one from Patrick.

3pm, Buffalo.

Jonny’s still angry enough that it’s easy to tamp down on the brief flare of satisfaction and text back, congratulations, asshole before ignoring any and all texts Kaner sends after that.

---

“Jonathan. Welcome home, darling.” His mother hugs him a little longer than he’s accustomed to when he arrives at his parents’ house in Winnipeg. She touches his cheek when she’s done, making him feel like he’s sixteen again, searching his face and no doubt reading everything. “He’s still young.”

Jonny doesn’t want to talk about it, the anger still pounding through his body. “He’s not even a year younger than me,” he snaps.

His mother isn’t daunted by his tone, just clucks her tongue and leads the way into the house. “You brood-” She holds up a finger to forestall his response. “You brood about your losses. Patrick acts out.”

Jonny knows this, he’s always known it. It’s different this time - the rumors are merging with a lot of truth and it makes Jonny uncomfortable. The guy in the Deadspin article isn’t anyone that Jonny wants to be associated with. When he says so, his mother doesn’t look completely surprised.

“Maybe you should tell him that’s how you feel. He deserves as much.”

There doesn’t seem to be any point in that. Patrick doesn’t deserve anything from Jonny right now, least of all interaction. His mother looks disappointed in him, but Jonny doesn’t know why; she’s always had a soft spot for Patrick because he’s Jonny’s—still, even if Johnny wishes it weren’t so right now—Jonny’s best friend. Patrick just needs to stop doing this to him.

He climbs into bed that night and finds a text from Donna which is equally as confusing. Don’t apologize. He’s hurt you as much as he has us. Call if you need anything.

Jonny texts something nonsensical in return, ignores Kaner’s twelve attempts at an apology, and turns off his phone. He’s not hurt, he’s angry. He’s not sure he cares enough right now to be hurt.

---

Patrick stays with his parents when he first arrives in Buffalo, and endures a week of lectures from every family member he knows including a conversation with his Grandpa that left both of them in tears, before he takes a day for himself and hides out in his Hamburg house. He spends an hour trying to get Jonny to answer his texts, even though it’s been pretty futile up till now. He’s not above being a pain in the ass about it, enough so that Jonny caves and answers him, even if it’s just an angry retort.

When it’s clear that he’s not going to get anything, Patrick has to settle for asking Andree if Jonny’s okay. She replies with a quick, he is here. you’ve got work ahead of you, and that doesn’t sound good at all, but Patrick at least knows Johnny hasn’t drowned himself in Lake Toews out of despair and disappointment in him.

He deliberately doesn’t touch the alcohol in his fridge, because his mom’s lecture was way too distressing to remember in its entirety, but this part he does. He needs to stop before he permanently screws up his life and his game. It’s the thought of losing hockey that gets to him, the look on her face as she was screaming at him, the heavy silence his sisters bestowed on him for the entire week.

Jackie caves first, asking him if he’s going to change and stop being the asshole he’s always warned her about. He knows he’s done little to make her proud of him lately; there’s nothing more embarrassing than his sisters having to see pictures of him on Deadspin falling out of bars. He can’t pretend he’s not bitter about their vilification of him, but he also can’t remember much about his time in Madison, and most of all, he’s aware that he fucked up. Fixing this epic shitstorm is going to take a hell of a lot of work but Patrick’s willing to do it, for himself.

---

It doesn’t take long for Patrick to get tired of moping around in a house that is way too big for him. He’s still not entirely sure what he was thinking when he bought it, only that Jonny had a house and a lake in Winnipeg and Patrick wanted the same. He’s really not going to analyze it too much; the point is that it’s too big and he doesn’t want to have to worry about whether or not anyone is actually going to talk to him right now.

It’s not entirely fair. Sharpy texted him just after he started hiding out and told him that it would be fine, just Lay low, peeks. Jonny’ll come around. Patrick would worry more about everyone fixating on Jonny’s reaction to his little co-ed booze-up, but he’s pretty sure shoving your face into couch cushions because your best friend refuses to speak to you isn’t the behaviour of a sane and rational person, so he lets it go.

Patrick does lay low. He texts a few of his Buffalo buddies—the ones that don’t make his mom raise her eyebrow, the ones that make even Jonny laugh—and asks if they want to shoot around a puck. They’re either totally sympathetic to his plight or they just want to mock him because most of them say yes, something that hasn’t happened a lot since Patrick made the NHL and could easily wipe the floor with them.

Focusing on hockey is the only thing he’s going to care about right now. He’s still good at hockey, still got hockey even if nobody else is talking to him, so he can play and remember what it feels like to shoot a puck around the ice, to own it. Being tossed around from line to line had royally sucked ass but Patrick’s not going to complain when he was up front and center and even participating in face-offs. He got lucky but he knows what makes him comfortable and it’s hugging the right side of the ice with Jonny to back him up down center.

He deliberately doesn’t think of any of these things, though, as he plays keep away with the guys on the street. It’s weird to miss a game that you were playing right up until a few weeks ago, but it’s still true. Things were kind of shit for the team through January—for reasons that Patrick is still mad at Jonny for even if he’s never going to say so again—right up to the playoffs and Patrick knows they’re going to be better next year, but it still hurts. It’s still good to toss a puck to his buddies even when it’s street and not ice. Still good to have the stick in his hands and be playing again.

He spends a couple of days alternately playing street hockey and coaxing his sisters into actually interacting with him enough to watch movies, even if they just end up crying and awkwardly hugging until, by the the third day, Jackie falls asleep on his shoulder and Jessica and Erica look this close to caving and joining in.

Still, every night when he crawls into bed, he stares at his phone and thinks about the gazillion ways texting Jonny is a terrible idea and how he’s only going to be greeted with stony silence. He does it anyway.

---

The weekend before he’s due to leave for Chicago, Patrick’s mom comes over to his house and helps him clean up. He’s not overly messy, but there’s a lot of shit that goes into looking after a house when you’re not in it and Patrick’s man enough to admit when he needs his mom’s help. Shit is awkward because she’s still mad at him, and he knows he deserves it but she’s his mom and they’ve always been close. It hurts a lot that they can’t talk in the same easy way that they’ve always seemed to manage before.

He gives up trying to talk to her seriously after a few attempts. He knew he couldn’t fix everything with this trip to Buffalo, but he’s hoping she’ll at least go back to being his mom soon. It’s not a fair thing to think, but whatever, he’s hurting too.

When they’re done, Patrick drops down onto the couch and runs his hands through his hair. He’s trying to figure out what he can say without making her angrier at him than she already is, when she sits down next to him. “I’m still disappointed in you.”

“I know,” Patrick says, poking at the leg of his jeans. “And I am sorry.”

His mom leans over and grips his chin, turning his face until he’s looking her in the eyes. He resists the urge to drop his own gaze to the floor. It’s uncomfortable but whatever, he knows it’s the least he owes her. “You’re much better than this, Patrick Kane. I raised you better than this.”

He’s heard it so often over the last few days that a part of him expects it to get monotonous. It doesn’t, because he’s forcing himself to hear it, to listen and to act on it. He’s never seen his sisters look at him like they did when he turned up in Buffalo after the playoffs. He swallows. “It won’t happen again.”

Looking sceptical, his mom lets his chin go. He doesn’t move away from her. “Don’t make promises—”

“Mom,” Patrick presses, rubbing at the back of his neck. “I don’t want—everyone’s mad at me.” He doesn’t say it so she’ll feel sorry for him, because he doesn’t want that. “Everyone looks like—I never meant to make everyone ashamed of me.”

There’s an expression on his mom’s face that he hasn’t seen before. When she speaks, it’s gentle. “Has Jonathan spoken to you yet?”

Patrick frowns at the shift of subject, sort of, and shakes his head. “I don’t see why that matters.”

“He’s as good as family, Patrick.”

He’s been Jonny’s friend for a long time, and maybe sometimes Patrick kind of wants something like that, but he’s pretty sure he’s never told his mom. “What?”

His mom doesn’t look impressed, but she smiles and squeezes his knee. “He’ll come around.”

“I don’t want him to,” Patrick mumbles. “Not yet.”

This time he gets a brief, small smile and it feels pretty fucking great.

He wants Jonny to be proud of him because he made it so, not because time wore him down.

---

Patrick’s phone isn’t even in the room when Jonny finally decides to contact him. When he hears Carly Rae Jepsen shouting about how she’d like him to call me maybe—he’s a masochist, so what—he practically jumps up off of the couch and scrambles for the phone vibrating across his bedside cabinet. It’s a little embarrassing how fucking excited he is to hear from Jonny but it’s cool, Patrick is one hundred percent okay with that part of himself.

He thumbs the call receive button and manages to not completely disgrace himself by crying down the phone. “Jonny?”

It’s not like he hasn’t envisioned a hundred different ways this phone call could go, but he’s pretty sure Jonny at least said hello, because his mom raised him the right way—the Canadian way. “Patrick. You need to come home.”

It’s gruff and to the point and Patrick is (sort of pathetically) grateful to be hearing from Jonny but whatever, he hasn’t done anything. He’s been crying on his couch with his sisters and playing hockey. He hasn’t even had a drink—well, okay, not a lot to drink—since he came to Buffalo. “What the hell, dude?”

Jonny lets out a breath and Patrick wishes he could see his face, wishes he knew what expression went along with the exasperation. “I’m not fucking around, Patrick. You need to get back to Chicago now.”

So Jonny’s still mad at him, this is not something Patrick is surprised by, but there’s something else in Jonny’s voice that isn’t anger. Maybe a little bit of apprehension. And Jonny—Jonny just doesn’t sound like that. “What’s going on, Jonny?”

“I’m asking you to come home because I don’t want to talk about this on the phone.” Jonny’s tone is harsh and clipped ,but he sounds distracted so Patrick doesn’t think it’s all for him. He hopes it’s not all for him. Whatever it is, it’s fucking serious.

Fear settles in Patrick’s gut. “Are you in Chicago already?”

Jonny replies with a quick, “Yes,” and then doesn’t say anything, just breathes down the phone.

Patrick closes his eyes. “I’ll be on the first flight home.”

He’s not completely surprised by the hang-up, but something has Jonny worried—because that was fucking worry, not apprehension—and Patrick’s scared about what it means that Jonny called him.

---

Jonny is no stranger to trade rumours. Maybe not for himself, but there’s always going to be talk of trading Patrick, even if Jonny regards it all with a sense of bitterness on Patrick’s behalf. Nobody as good as Patrick deserves to have those kinds of things hanging over his head, especially not when he’s the kind of person who will listen to every single one, even when Jonny’s specifically told him not to. He’ll worry and worry at the idea in his head until he’s almost convinced himself it’s going to happen, and Jonny has to step in and convince him of the contrary.

This year is the first time Jonny’s ever felt like they might be true. When he first read the rumours and thought, viciously, good, he had to close the laptop and stare out of the window, breathing through his nose until he calmed down. He gave himself shit for it afterwards because no matter what Patrick does, no matter how badly he fucks up, Jonny is never going to be okay with Patrick leaving the ‘Hawks without him.

Which is why, when the call comes in from the front office, Jonny hears the words coming out of the receiver but is not okay with what they mean. He asks for clarification and sits down heavily on the couch, rubbing the back of his neck. This is not—this is not something he ever thought he would have to deal with.

It’s not official, of course it’s not, because Jonny shouldn’t know yet. When he and Patrick first joined the Blackhawks, the two of them made a point to make friends with the guys behind the scenes. They weren’t very good at it because they were barely past eighteen, and Jonny was exceptionally bad at talking to people, not that hes much better now, but they managed to forge some connections. It’s one of those guys who contacts Jonny and tells him that there’s a rumour around the office. Despite knowing that they hear things first, Jonny doesn’t always trust that everything they say is a hundred percent accurate. The guy who calls him—Karl—is subdued when he tells Jonny what he knows. The words hit Jonny like a punch and he knows why he’s getting the call and not Patrick.

Jonny isn’t the kind of person who’s going to lose his head at every little rumour, but he feels as if the world has shifted and he’s off kilter. It’s the same way he felt when he realized what secondary concussion and you’re an idiot, Jonny meant for his game. He never wanted to feel that way again, but now he is and it’s because of Patrick.

He has another surge of anger, because Patrick’s an asshole and he’s always doing this, always making Jonny clean up after him because he can’t just—

Jonny drops his face into his hands and takes a deep, calming breath. He has to call Patrick. He really doesn’t want to; Patrick deserves every moment of silence he’s already had and more, but he can’t do this alone. He’s angry, but he’s not vindictive enough to let Patrick go through this alone, to let him go through it at all.

With a sudden burst of fierce determination, Jonny knows that he’s not going to let it happen. Whatever he has to do, whatever promises he has to make: Patrick isn’t leaving the Blackhawks.

---

He doesn’t offer to pick Patrick up from the airport and Patrick doesn’t ask. Jonny’s capable of putting his personal feelings aside in order to make this as easy as possible, but part of him isn’t ready to see Patrick. Despite his radio silence, he’s texted Donna a couple of times to check up and make sure Patrick’s been okay. The replies had been swift and short but they all told him the same thing; Patrick was fine, take care of himself.

He isn’t waiting for Patrick to show up but he’s not entirely sure what to do with himself. He’s settling down to watch a game on TV, a bottle of beer uncapped and ready on the table, when he hears the key in the lock. He reaches for the bottle, grip tight around it as he raises it to his lips. It’s just fucking like Patrick to not knock even if he does have a key; he has to know Jonny’s pissed at him. When he doesn’t hear anything for a while, Jonny sighs. He’s already berating himself as he puts his beer down, because he’s obviously got to do all the work and he’s so fucking mad about all of this. When he steps into the hall and sees Patrick, he’s brought up short.

Patrick’s empty handed, looking ridiculously small and out of place in his jacket and beat-up sneakers. He’s got dark smudges under his eyes, and his cap is pulled down so far on his head that it’s hard for Jonny to read his expression.

He’s surprised by how angry he doesn’t feel, and that just fucking confuses him. He should be mad at Patrick, should be so furious at how he’s behaved, how he’s made the team look.

“I’ve always gotten it,” Jonny says, when the silence lasts too long. Patrick flinches, but Jonny doesn’t care, just keeps speaking. “I get most of the shit you do, Kaner, but I don’t get this. I saw you like a week before.”

Patrick just shrugs a little. “I don’t know, okay?”

He sounds fucking lost, but Jonny’s angry enough at himself to get angry at Patrick, now. “You could have come to me, for fucks sake, I would have helped.”

How?” Patrick looks animated for the first time, tipping his head back instead of pulling off his cap, and it looks so fucking dumb but that’s Patrick, that’s always Patrick. “What was I supposed to say, Tazer, you tell me.”

The Tazer hurts, which is so fucking hypocritical, because Jonny can’t even look at Kaner without feeling something low in his stomach, let alone call him Patrick.

“This isn’t a team thing,” Jonny says, his voice low. “If you fucking—”

“I don’t know! I don’t know why I did it, man, okay? I don’t know what you want to hear, but I don’t. Fucking. Know.”

It’s not good enough, and when Jonny says so, snaps it so loud and angry in the air that Patrick finally takes off his dumb hat and steps into Jonny’s space, his face is screwed up in anger. “Is this why you called me back, huh? Just to yell at me some more?”

“No!” Jonny yells, taking advantage of Patrick’s proximity to shove him in the chest. “Because you’ve fucked up enough to get traded, you asshole!”

There’s a ringing silence in the wake of his words and Jonny thinks, shit. Fuck, this wasn’t how he was supposed to say it and jesus, Patrick’s looking at him wide-eyed and mouth open. “That’s not fair. Dude, you can’t—”

“It’s true.” Jonny’s voice sounds far away to his own ears. “I didn’t want—they told me, Pat.”

“Oh jesus,” Patrick whispers.

“Patrick—”

Patrick stumbles into the kitchen and clutches at the island. He’s pale, sucking in deep breaths like he’s hyperventilating. Jonny has the ridiculous urge to call his mother and ask her what he should do, but he shakes it off. Patrick manages to get out, “Fuck, fuck are you—”

“Karl from the front office called me.”

It’s the name that gets to Patrick, his whole body just curling in on itself, and he looks even smaller than he did before. They stand in the kitchen, silence heavy and tension too much. Jonny’s fighting for the right words, tries to process what he’s thinking. The anger deflated with the fight in Patrick, and now he’s just standing in the middle of the room like an asshole. He’s a fucking captain, he should have this shit down already. Guys have been traded from the team before, guys who won the cup with them, but Patrick’s always been there afterwards, always been the guy to throw his arm over Jonny’s shoulders and crack jokes until Jonny’s pissed off, laughing or both. This time—

“I can’t play with another captain,” Patrick says, finally, so quiet that Jonny almost misses it.

Jonny feels cold; remembers the shitty season that Patrick’s just had and the Olympics, team USA not utilizing Patrick in the ways he should have been. He crosses the distance between them in two strides, grips Patrick’s shoulders and shakes him a little. “We’ll fix it.”

To his surprise, Patrick shoves him away. “Fuck you, Tazer. You can’t say shit like that.”

“You think I’d lie to you?” Jonny snaps, indignant. “You think I’d promise that if you think I couldn’t do it?”

“I don’t know,” Patrick says. He drops down onto one of the stools and runs his hands over his face. “I don’t fucking know, Jonny, okay?”

“You think—” Jonny starts and then stops. He can’t make this about him, but he wants to shout it, wants to shove Patrick against the wall and ask him, You think I want to do this without you?

He gets irritated sometimes with the amount of time the two of them are thrust together, despite the comfort of it, the familiarity enough that they’re best friends. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want it; he’s used to the way they fit together, maybe not the perfect fit but they’ve made it work for five years and they’re going to continue to make it work.

“You always have my back,” Jonny says, frowning. Patrick raises his head, eyes red-rimmed and shit, Jonny doesn’t know what he’ll do if Patrick actually cries. Unless they’re watching some shit, sad movie he can’t deal with it. “I’ve got yours.”

“Even though—”

Jonny shakes his head. “Don’t. Look, just. I’ve got your back now.”

Patrick snorts, closing his eyes and pressing the palms of his hands to them. “Probably gonna need you to”

---

Patrick’s asleep on the couch, still pale and exhausted. Jonny hates how conflicted he is about this. He hasn’t forgiven Patrick, but this isn’t about that. It’s about keeping Patrick with him because he’s good, so good, but if May taught him anything, it’s that Patrick’s just not ready to be anywhere else but Chicago.

Jonny can rein him in, keep him under control. He still feels partly to blame; if he hadn’t given himself a concussion, Patrick would never have been thrown from line to line and spent most of the latter-half of the season in confusion.

He sits on the arm of the couch, rests a hand on Patrick’s ankle. They need to sort this out, he just needs to figure out how.

Jonny retreats to his bedroom, sits on the edge of the bed and dials his mom’s number. From where he’s sitting, he can see tufts of Patrick’s hair sticking up over the arm of the couch, and the arm he has slung over the side, knuckles brushing the floor.

“Mom,” Jonny says when she answers. “They’re trading Patrick.”

There’s a heavy silence on the end of the phone. “Mon chéri.”

Jonny presses the palm of his hand to his eyes and takes a deep breath. “He can’t go, Maman.”

“Jonny, sweetheart, if this is meant to be—”

“I’m not going to let him go,” Jonny says furiously. He’s mad at Patrick, so angry sometimes that he wants to punch him in the face, but he’s not prepared to lose him. They’re Blackhawks, have been Blackhawks for years, and that’s not going to change. At least, not without Jonny figuring out what the fuck he can do to change it.

His mom sighs. “Jonny, I know how much you love him,” she says, gently. Jonny frowns but doesn’t say anything. Patrick is his best friend; of course he cares about him. Even if sometimes he wishes he didn’t. “Your father and I miss each other when we’re apart and I promise—”

“What?” Sitting up straighter on the bed, Jonny swallows. Your father and I rings through his head. “You can’t compare Patrick and me to you and Dad.”

“Jonathan, if you think I don’t know how much you want that boy around, you are sadly mistaken. But perhaps this trade is for the best.”

“No.” Jonny shakes his head even if she can’t see that. He feels like he has an idea, or at least the beginnings of one, stirring in the back of his mind. “I need to talk to the front office.”

His mother lets out a soft laugh.

“Maman?”

“Go, Jonathan. I should have known you wouldn’t let this go.” She doesn’t sound surprised and he’ll probably wonder what the hell that’s about later, but for now, he needs to concentrate on Patrick.

“It’s Patrick,” he says quietly, sure now, that he knows what he’s going to do.

“I know, darling. Good luck with whatever you decide.”

Jonny hangs up and stares out into the living room at Patrick’s sleeping form. He can’t figure out the emotions raging through his body, but he knows one thing for certain: he’s willing to give up his own captaincy if it means that Patrick can stay a Blackhawk. The realization is a little startling, and he has to clench his fingers around the duvet and breath hard.

---

Being at the United Center during the off-season never gets any less disconcerting for Jonny, but he’s not thinking too much about it this time, mid-conversation with Patrick. They’re texting because Patrick refuses to call him while he’s still got a voice raw as fuck, and Jonny can accept that. The night before, Patrick spent two hours talking to his family and crying so much it startled Jonny; he’s used to Patrick crying, has been there with him on the road enough to see it, but this was different. Jonny tried to leave, uncomfortable, but Patrick had gripped the leg of his pants to stop him from leaving and Jonny had dropped back down, resigned to feeling useless about the situation.

where did u go?

i’ll be back, Jonny texts, sending it just as he reaches Stan’s office. He turns his phone off and shoves it into his pocket, glaring at the sign on the door. He can do this; he can walk in there and list a million reasons why they should keep Patrick on the team. He just hopes one of them will actually work.

He knocks and enters at the reply. Stan is seated behind his desk and, thankfully, Q is already here, leaning against the windowsill. Good. Jonny doesn’t have to hang around, convincing himself this is the right thing to do.

“Jonathan,” Stan says, smiling. It’s the kind of smile that puts Jonny immediately on alert. “What—”

“I know you’re trading Kaner,” Jonny says without preamble. He knows he’s being rude, but he doesn’t let himself think about it until the words are already out of his mouth.

Stan exchanges a quick look with Q and then links his fingers, resting them on the desk in front of him. He doesn’t say anything for a moment and then gestures at Jon. “Have a seat.”

Jonny takes the seat in front of the desk, leaning his elbows on his knees. “I know you’re trading Kaner,” he repeats. “And I wanna ask why.”

He knows why, of course. He just wants to hear them say it, wants to hear the reasons so that he can refute them, so that he can convince them that this is the wrong thing to do and Kaner should stay.

“Those reasons would be discussed with Patrick, his agent and this office, Jonathan. You know I can’t divulge them to you.” Stan looks apologetic, but Jonny narrows his eyes.

“It’s not as if I don’t know—this whole Cinco de Mayo shit—stuff—has put the team in a bad place, and as the captain, I get it.”

Stan just nods, rubbing his thumb along his chin. He’s attentive and Jonny appreciates that, appreciates that Stan isn’t just dismissing what he has to say. “Patrick is a great player, Jonathan, we know that. But—”

“He is a great player and he needs to be here, in Chicago.” Jonny shakes his head a little. “You can’t trade him because of off-ice behaviour that a hundred other players have done before him!”

“I don’t feel comfortable talking about this with you when I haven’t spoken to Patrick, because I don’t think it’s fair to him to do so. “

“I know,” Jonny says, feeling frustrated. He knows he should have had Patrick come with him, but Patrick couldn’t even listen to Jonny tell him he was getting traded, he didn’t want to have to expose him to this until it’s necessary.

Q shifts from his position against the windowsill and gestures at Jonny with a hand. “What did you think you could do, Jon? Change our minds?”

“Yes,” Jonny says, trying not to let his frustration bleed into his voice. He’s not entirely successful. “I came to ask if you’d at least reconsider. Look what Patrick has done for this team—this franchise—already. When we first came on board, when we signed with the ‘Hawks, you told us you wanted us to change this entire game in Chicago and we’ve done that. The team, Patrick. He gave us the Stanley Cup.”

“Things change, Jon,” Stan says gently. “You know what Patrick is worth in the trading world. You know what we need. Right now, that’s looking extremely valuable to this office.”

“Patrick’s valuable to me,” Jonny says suddenly, vehemently.

The office goes quiet, both Stan and Q looking at him, stunned and thrown. Jonny thinks, shit, because that’s not how he wanted this to go at all.

“I—“

“Jon,” Q says, moving away from the window and coming to stand next to the desk. “What are you saying?”

“You asked if I came to change your minds.” Jon pauses, rubs at the leg of his pants. “What if I were to say Patrick and I—were together.”

Stan sounds stunned when he answers, distant and almost quiet. “Together how?”

Before Jonny can answer, Q says, “You better be damn sure you know what you’re saying.”

“I do.” Jonny takes a deep breath. “You want to trade Kaner, and I want you to know that if you do, you’ll be taking him away from me.” There’s a long, drawn out silence, but now that Jonny’s started, he can’t seem to stop. “We’ve been together for—for a long time. You asked when I became captain if I wanted a room to myself and I said no—now you know why. I know that this isn’t a good enough reason to keep him here, but I want you to consider it.”

Q rests his hands on the desk, dropping his head a little. Stan is just looking at Jonny speculatively. “Are you implying that trading Patrick will affect your game?”

Jonny doesn’t say anything, just holds Stan’s gaze. He doesn’t want to lie, so he lets his silence talk for him.

“Right,” Stan says, finally. “You’ve put me in a difficult situation here, Jonathan.” Jonny opens his mouth, but Stan holds up a hand to forestall his reply. “I’m between a rock and a hard place. I appreciate what you’ve told me, and I thank you, I know that’s not easy.” Jonny nods. “But at the same time, we both know that Patrick’s behaviour has put us in a difficult position. Now you’ve now informed us that, should we trade him, it would put you in a difficult situation, separating the two of you. So what are we supposed to do now?”

Jonny just waits. When it’s clear that Stan isn’t going to say anything else, he frowns. “You want me to answer that?”

Q’s looking at him carefully and Stan nods. “You want us to reconsider a trade, you tell me why we should do that.”

“If I could promise...” Jonny starts, trying to find the right words. This is it. What he says here, now, will make all the difference. “If I could promise that this wouldn’t happen again. That Kaner—Patrick—wouldn’t do this again-“

“Son,” Q interrupts. “How do you propose to do that?”

Stan looks intrigued. “You’ve been in a relationship for this long, far longer than you’ve been captain, clearly. Why should we believe that you could get this kind of promise from him? And what are we supposed to do if he breaks that promise?”

Jonny hadn’t thought that far. “If I married him,” he blurts out, quickly. And shit, this is so far outside the realm of anything he thought he’d have to do for Patrick.

“Jon,” Stan looks like he needs a strong drink, and even Q looks like he’s taken a puck to the face. Jonny can sympathise—he’s going to need to get so fucking drunk after this. “Do you want to think about this? This isn’t just going to affect you.”

Jon narrows his eyes. “This is what you want, isn’t it? A reason for Patrick to stay on the straight and narrow. It’ll keep him there, keep him—“

“I meant,” Stand says, not unkindly. “Does Patrick know what you’re doing?”

Jonny swallows thickly because no, no Patrick doesn’t know what Jonny is doing. Jonny doesn’t even know what he’s doing and god, this is such a fucking nightmare. Patrick will know, Jonny would never—he has to want to stay, though, has to want it like Jonny wants it. This will make them okay, make everything okay. “He knows I’m here,” he says, finally. “He doesn’t know that marriage is something I—something that I would consider. It’s been long enough that he’s maybe—that he would say yes, I hope, but...” He trails off, never good at revealing shit about his relationships at the best of times but when it’s not real, when he has to make it up, he’s even worse. He hopes they take, his pauses as nervousness rather than the lie it is.

Stan just nods, still shocked. Jonny doesn’t even know what he’s saying, he just needs them to see. “Jon, this is still something that could affect the franchise, if you’re willing to go this far.”

“If you don’t think I’m serious about this,” Jonny says quickly, with strength and not a little anger. “Then you can have my C back, right here, right now.”

Jonny feels as shocked as Q and Stan look. Oh shit. That wasn’t something he was ever going to tell them, tell anyone. He’s not even sure he knows what to do now, hopes that one of them will start talking. He feels so hideously out of his depth and he hates it, hates not being in control of this situation. He knows what he came here to do and the more he talks, the more his goal seems farther away. He’s not prepared to accept that he’s hurting Patrick’s chances here rather than helping, so he shakes his head. “I know he’s done some stuff that’s not okay, not from your position, but he’s so good and I can’t believe you’d want to lose that. You wouldn’t have used your first draft pick on him if you were willing to trade him on a shitty season and a little bad press.” Neither of them move to stop him from talking, so he continues. “If I marry him, if we do this, it’ll stop. We’re not even—open—about—well, we would—if you’re trading him, what’s to stop us?”

Finally, Q speaks up. “Jon, we’re not saying you’re not committed to him.”

Stan nods. “You have to know what you’d be getting yourself into, what you’d be getting this franchise into.”

“I do,” Jonny says, the reality of it settling about his shoulders. “If I thought I had any other choice, I’d take it. But I can’t be a Blackhawk and not have Patrick here.”

Stan looks thoughtful. “Before we even think about this, you know what scrutiny that would bring on the both of you?”

“I do,” Jonny says, even though he doesn’t. He can’t think about that, not until he knows for sure what they’re going to do.

“I’m a little surprised,” Q adds. “You’ve been a great captain, Jonathan, and I never thought there would be something you’d put above the team.”

Jon feels that the most, like a punch, and he has to take a moment before he can reply. “I didn’t think so either.”

Stan looks between Q and Jonny and then leans forward. “Perhaps that, in part, is why I’m willing to talk about this with Patrick.”

Jonny feels like this can’t possibly be happening. “You are?”

“Yes.” Stan taps a finger on the desk and then nods. “I want to hear from him how willing he is to have this happen—this situation isn’t just going to affect you. When we’ve spoken to him, we’ll discuss this. We’ll also reserve the right to trade anyway if we don’t like how this plays out.”

Jonny swallows. “Sure, yes. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think he could cut out the shi—off-ice behavior.”

“Then we’ll talk,” Stan says, with finality. “Providing everything goes smoothly, we’ll draft a new contract based on...what you’ve just told us.”

“Okay,” and yeah, Jonny needs to go and throw up somewhere. “Thank you.”

---

Patrick totally isn’t pacing when Jonny comes home. He just can’t sit down right now because there’s stuff to do. There are dishes to do—which he takes one look at and then walks away—and Jonny needs to learn how to pick up after himself. The fourth time Patrick picks up a glass and moves it to somewhere that is absolutely nowhere near the kitchen, he resigns himself to the fact that yeah, he’s agitated.

He hasn’t heard from Jonny since the last text, and he can’t help but be nervous about it.

He flips the TV on, deliberately shying away from anything vaguely hockey related, and sinks into the sectional. He fiddles with his phone distractedly, aware that whatever happens with Jonny and the front office is going to—

He can’t think about the trade without a tight feeling in his chest that makes it hard to breathe. He’s no stranger to the rumours, they’ve been chasing his career for a while, but that doesn’t make it any easier to think that he might be traded away, might have to leave, and he swallows thickly, tries to focus on the commercial currently advertising fuck-knows-what.

He’s just about to switch channels to something he can actually pay attention to when he hears the key in the lock and snaps his head towards the doorway so fast he has to take a second to reorient himself. “Jonny?”

Jonny pushes his way into the hall and Patrick frowns immediately. “Dude, you look like hell.”

Jonny just glowers at him. “Thanks asshole.”

Patrick ignores the irritated tone and pushes himself to his feet, gesturing at the pinched look on Jonny’s face.

“You should go lie down.”

Jonny searches his face, but Patrick doesn’t know what the hell he’s looking for. “Don’t you—“

“Of course I do, asshole,” Patrick says, shoving past Jonny and walking into the kitchen. He pours Jonny a glass of water and then digs around for some aspirin. “You look like you’re about to throw up.”

“I already did,” Jonny admits grudgingly. He watches Patrick move around the kitchen. “What are you doing?”

Patrick pauses as he pulls down the bottle of Imitrex from the cupboard in the kitchen that Jonny insists on keeping his medicine in. He can’t bring himself to look at Jonny. “Are you still suffering concussion symptoms?”

“Patrick—“

“Fuck you, Jonny.”

He turns in time to see the anger on Jonny’s face. “Oh no,” he says, voice hard. “You don’t get to be angry at me right now.”

“Seriously, fuck you!” Patrick shouts, slamming the glass on the counter, water sloshing over his hand. “Me making mistakes doesn’t stop me from caring about you, you asshole!”

Jonny opens his mouth to reply and then shuts it. Patrick feels his cheeks flame with embarrassment but what the hell, Jonny is so fucking wrong if he thinks Patrick is okay with this.

“If your head is hurting because you were dumb enough to play hockey through symptoms again, then you can take some of your migraine medication and get your ass in fucking bed.”

He stares at Jonny angrily and gets an equally confused but determined look in response. Patrick isn’t angry because Jonny is hurting, he’s angry because Jonny is determined not to admit to himself that he’s weak in any respect when it comes to hockey. They both know he’ll push it with the front office to keep Patrick playing—and they’re going to have to talk about it when Jonny isn’t so obviously in pain—but that goes both ways. He doesn’t want Jonny to ignore the fact that he’s not fully recovered if it could damage his game.

He shoves the glass back under the tap and tops it up before shoving it at Jonny with the medication. “Take this.” He stares down at the floor and then sighs, quietly. “You promised, Jonny.”

“Patrick,” Jonny says, just as quietly. Patrick raises his eyes, determined not to let Jonny talk his way out of this. The look on Jonny’s face is something Patrick hasn’t seen before, but he doesn’t know exactly what it is. “Don’t let me sleep too long.”

Patrick snorts, relieved to have something that breaks the awkward tension surrounding them. “As if. You’d never let me forget it.”

---

Jonny still hasn’t surfaced in a couple of hours, so Patrick grabs another glass of water and makes his way into Jonny’s bedroom, knocking first because he’s not going through that conversation again.

Jonny is buried under his duvet; the only thing Patrick can visibly see of him is a tuft of hair on the pillow and a foot stuck out of the bottom of the covers.

Patrick snorts and replaces the water on the bedside table with a fresh one, checking to make sure Jonny’s still sleeping.

He pulls down the covers a little to find Jonny staring back at him. He jumps back. “Jesus christ, dude.”

“S’creepy, Pat,” Jonny says, managing to glare even though he’s not really awake.

Patrick shrugs. He’s totally a badass best friend, making sure Jonny isn’t like, dying from concussion symptoms he totally should have told Patrick were still around. Not that he’s still mad or anything. “Want some more meds?”

Jonny tugs his exposed foot back under the duvet and shakes his head a little. “Fuck off and let me sleep.”

“Sure, grouch.” Patrick makes sure to round the bed and shut the curtains because Jonny is apparently dumb and can’t do that for himself.

He leaves Jonny to sleep it off again and queues up a couple of movies on Jonny’s TV, settling in for the long haul. He’s totally waiting for Jonny to be well enough to tell him what’s going on, that’s all.

---

Patrick wakes up to a hand shaking his shoulder. He groans and opens his eyes to see Jonny standing over him, rocking an epic case of bed hair and looking a hell of a lot better than he did when he went to bed. “Hey dude,” Patrick says, yawning and stretching. “You don’t look like you’re dying anymore.”

“Thanks,” Jonny says, dryly. There’s a cup of coffee on the table—which Patrick suspects has been refilled with how awake Jonny looks—and Jonny’s holding out another to him.

Patrick takes it with muttered thanks and eyes Jonny as he drops down next to him on the couch. “Are we going to have to talk about this now?”

Jonny shrugs. “I figure you wanna know, right?”

There’s something there, a reluctance almost, and whatever, the worst he can tell Patrick is that he’s getting traded regardless and, well, Patrick’s already resigned himself to that. When he says as much out loud, Jonny just glares.

“I already told you that’s not going to happen, would you cut that shit out?”

“Sorry,” Patrick says, not sorry at all. “If this was you—“

Jonny reaches over and grips Patrick’s wrist hard enough to hurt. It’s his bad one, the one that twinges more often than it doesn’t and Patrick forces himself to suck down an exclamation, to focus on Jonny’s face. “For fuck’s sake, it is. I don’t want to play without you, asshole, don’t you get that?”

“You would though,” Patrick presses, because he doesn’t have a filter. “If it comes down to it.”

Jonny’s eyes are a little wild and, okay, Patrick maybe misjudged this a little. “Fuck you, if you think I would. If you think I wouldn’t fight this all the way to the day you left the city.”

“Jonny—“ Patrick says, voice catching. “I don’t want you to—“

“Well,” Jonny says, finally releasing Patrick’s wrist. Patrick twists it a few times but Jonny’s still talking. “You’re a little too late for that.”

Patrick frowns, because that doesn’t sound ominous at all.

“What are you talking about? What did you even say?”

Jonny runs a hand over his face, but Patrick isn’t getting a bad feeling. He’s kind of flattered, actually, that whatever Jonny’s done is enough that he’s freaking out about it. Which is kind of a big deal.

Jonny stares pointedly at the wall above the TV instead of at Patrick’s face and says, “I told them we were dating.”

He sounds like the words are being wrenched from him but there’s a buzzing noise in Patrick’s head. What. The. Fuck. He can’t even— “What.”

It doesn’t even come out as a question because what the fuck. This is not on Patrick’s list of top ten things Jonny would do for him. This didn’t make the top 50, it doesn’t even make the list.

This is like, something he’s sure he’s never wanted consciously, because if he thinks about it too much he’ll want it.

“They believed me,” Jonny’s saying, but he sounds far away and Patrick’s finding it difficult to breathe. “And I—holy shit, are you hyperventilating?”

Patrick nods dumbly because yeah, he kind of is.

“Um, okay shit, wait, breathe, buddy,” Jonny’s saying, and he has a hand on Patrick’s back, pushing his head between his knees. Patrick breathes, harsh, gulping breaths.

“No,” Jonny says, rubbing Patrick’s back gently. “Slower, come on.”

Patrick listens, slows his breaths and closes his eyes. “Sorry,” he mumbles when he’s got his breathing under control. “Shit, sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Jonny says. “You okay?”

“Um,” Patrick says, lifting his head. “I—you really did that?”

“I assume that’s not something you want?” Jonny asks, face cleared of emotion. Patrick hates that face—more so when it’s directed at him.

“NO!” He shouts, then shakes his head. “I mean yes. I mean, I don’t care, I was just—thanks.”

Jonny looks confused but nods. “It’s—that’s not all.”

Patrick doesn’t think he wants to hear any more.

“You’re not going to like, hyperventilate again if I tell you, are you?” Jonny looks skeptical.

Patrick glowers at him. “No.”

“They want to talk to you before anything is finalized, but I kind of...” Jonny mumbles the last part.

“Um, louder, Jonny. I’m not really sure I got that.” Patrick’s sure he did but yeah, he needs Jonny to repeat it because this, this shit doesn’t happen to him.

“I said,” Jonny snarls, “that I would marry you, asshole.”

Patrick blinks. Opens his mouth to say something and then closes it. God. This is, well, he’s not sure what it is.

“Are you—is this a joke?” Patrick’s fairly sure that Jonny’s concussion isn’t bad enough that he would pull this. “You’re not messing with me, are you? Because even for you, that’s a dick move, Jonny.”

“What?” Jonny frowns. “What are you talking about?”

“When you said you’d help me stay, I wouldn’t have thought you’d do something like this, okay? I was serious, I am serious,” Patrick says, getting angrier and louder as he goes on because this is fucking—this isn’t funny.

“Patrick,” Jonny says, not sounding angry, but a little confused. “This isn’t a joke.”

Patrick holds his gaze.

“Seriously, Pat. I wouldn’t mess around with this.”

“You really—“ Patrick swallows. “You’d really marry me to keep me on the team?”

Jonny sighs. “It just came out, okay?”

“...It just came out?” Patrick smiles a little. He feels kind of at a loss. He’s still not a hundred percent sure that Jonny is being truthful about this. Then again, they’ve never seemed to have lines and boundaries like other people.

“Yes,” Jonny says. “You’re staying a Blackhawk, I told you that.”

“This is really fucking weird, even for us.”

Jonny grins, finally. “I guess. You sure you can pull this off?”

Patrick shrugs. Hell fucking yes. “I don’t know. Might take some faking.” It’s not like he hasn’t been “faking” it for years. Not that he’s about to tell Jonny that.

Jonny rolls his eyes and punches Patrick in the arm. “Asshole.”

---

“They tell you when they’re going to call me?” Patrick says later, when they’re both watching a movie.

Jonny shrugs. He’s sunk right down into the couch, beer cradled in his hand. He hadn’t even raised an eyebrow as he’d handed Patrick his, which was a first since Patrick had gotten home.

Patrick turns back to the movie but can’t stop jiggling his leg. What if whatever he says ruins it? What if Jonny worked so hard only for Patrick to fuck it up?

“You’ll be fine,” Jonny says, abruptly. “Stop fidgeting and watch the damn movie.”

Stopping his leg, Patrick tears at the label of his beer bottle instead. Jonny being so calm is just annoying. It wasn’t as if his career was riding on Patrick’s off-ice behaviour. Jonny leans over to rest on Patrick’s arm, and Patrick meets his gaze slowly.

“Seriously. You’ll be fine.”

Patrick snorts. “What if I say something dumb?”

“That’s different from usual, how?” Jonny asks with a smirk.

“Fuck you,” Patrick says, affably. “I’m just saying. You didn’t have to do this shit, dude. I don’t wanna make it for nothing.”

They sit in silence for a while, and Jonny breaks it a little while later. “It won’t be. Whatever happens.”

And well, there isn’t a whole lot Patrick can say to that except, “Thanks.”

---

Patrick’s just pulled into the parking lot of Trump Tower when he gets the call from Stan. He stares at the call display for a second before hitting answer. “Hey Stan.”

It’s a bit informal, but Patrick doesn’t know what else to say, hasn’t ever replied any differently. He doesn’t think he should start now just because he’s on the block.

“Patrick,” Stan says. “It would be foolish to assume you don’t know why I’m calling.”

Patrick has to grin at that. Yeah, even if he wasn’t getting traded, the office pretty much knows that telling Patrick something means telling Jonny too, and vice versa. “Yeah. Jonny says you want to talk to me?”

Stan sighs. “In person, yes. Can you make it into the office this afternoon?”

“Yeah,” Patrick says quickly. Jonny’s already bullied him into training later, but Patrick knows this is more important. Jonny will know it’s more important. “I can be there.”

“Good. Be at my office by 2pm and we’ll talk.”

“Thanks,” Patrick says quickly.

He hangs up as soon as it’s clear they’re done and sits in his car for a while, staring out at the apartment complex and trying to figure out just what the hell he’s going to say to convince Stan that this is real. It’s not that he can’t fake it—he’s been faking not being attracted to Jonny for long enough that it’s not going to be difficult to actually act on his feelings for a change. He just has to be careful that Jonny won’t realize it, because he doesn’t know how much of what’s happening is Jonny helping him out because they’re friends, and how much of it is genuinely Jonny’s feelings. Patrick just doesn’t get why Jonny would want to do this at all, actually. They’re best friends, sure, have been in this together since their respective drafts, but this is something different. This is fucking committing to Patrick for better or worse, and god, he can’t even make that joke in his head. Whatever Jonny wants this to be, it can be.

He just has to get through this meeting first.

---

Patrick’s only thinking Jonny, Jonny, Jonny when he gets back from the front office, so he doesn’t knock or announce himself when he barges into Jonny’s apartment.

Jonny’s in the kitchen, frying something on the stove, and he curses and moves the fryer off of the heat as Patrick says, “Jonny.”

His voice sounds so fucking weird, but whatever, Jonny’s head comes up, and he looks slightly annoyed as he sucks his burnt finger. Patrick waits because god, he doesn’t even know what he should say, but all too soon Jonny’s face is clearing.

“Wait. They said yes?!”

Patrick grins so fucking wide his face hurts. “Marry me, you fucker, and we can stay in Chicago.”

He says we because they’re a fucking team now, always have been, but god, god, Patrick hasn’t felt like this in months.

“I resigned myself a long time ago to a lifetime chained to your ugly face, douchebag,” Jonny’s saying, but his face is mirroring Patrick’s own, his smile so wide it looks weird. But Jesus, Patrick could get so used to seeing it.

“If I wasn’t so happy, I would punch you so hard.”

“But you are,” Jonny presses. “Happy.”

“Jesus,” Patrick says and steps forward, punching Jonny in the shoulder. “You just kept me in Chicago, dude. How could I not be?”

“We,” Jonny says vehemently. “We kept you in Chicago.”

Patrick nods, and they stand awkwardly for a second until Jonny’s face turns serious.

“Promise me, Pat.”

“What?” Patrick would promise him anything right now, he has to know that.

“Don’t fuck this up. You can’t fuck this up.”

Patrick shouldn’t feel offended, but he does. He gets it, so he tries not to sound angry when he replies. “I would never. Not for you.”

It sounds so ridiculous, but fuck that, Jonny’s just single-handedly kept him in Chicago. That deserves some outright declaration of eternal friendship, or whatever. Well. Marriage, he guesses.

“Not for me, huh?” Jonny says, sounding—pleased? What the hell.

“No,” Patrick says with a shrug, aiming for nonchalance and missing by fucking miles. “Your mom would kill me, dude.”

Mentioning Jonny’s mom has Patrick paling suddenly. Jonny catches on just as quickly, turning back to the stove. They’re going to have to tell their moms.

“Not yet.” Jonny picks at the egg in the pan and gives Patrick a look over his shoulder. “You and I have to figure this shit out before we bring families into it.”

Patrick nods distractedly. It’s weird. Lying to Jonny about not having feelings for him seemed so easy this morning, and now he’s going to have to lie to his parents about the opposite; that Jonny loves him like he loves Jonny and that shit isn’t easy. He’s going to have to pretend like he and Jonny have been together for years, and how is he even supposed to pull that off after his Madison freak out?

“Stop it,” Jonny says, watching him. “We’ll deal with it together. Help me fix dinner, since you burned it.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick says with a grin, moving to help Jonny with the meal. His family can wait for a little longer.

---

“We’re going to need to tell Brisson,” Jonny says the next morning, leaning against the doorframe. Patrick’s lying in the guest bed, because Jonny’s at least letting him stay —and when did Jonny even get up before him? He’s probably going to be freakish about sorting this stuff out now.

“He’s going to be so pissed.”

Jonny nods, looking like this conversation is going to be one he really doesn’t want to have. “Yeah, well.”

“He probably should have been at the meeting,” Patrick admits. “I guess blind-siding Stan and Q didn’t help.”

“Up, out,” Jonny says, gesturing behind him at the living room. “Let’s get this over with.”

Patrick groans and buries his face in the pillow. He feels a tug at his ankle and peers back over his shoulder to see Jonny pulling on the duvet.

“Get your lazy ass out of bed, Kane.”

“Fine,” Patrick grumbles and waves Jonny off. He kicks off the duvet, giving Jonny a stunning display of his boxer-only clad body and Jonny mutters, “Put some fucking pants on,” like he doesn’t do practically everything in his underwear when they’re on the road.

Patrick grins as he does just that, grabbing a t-shirt from the dresser he dumped his clothes in last night under Jonny’s watchful gaze, and pulling it on over his head. He is really not looking forward to having to do this at all. Brisson is going to blow his fucking nut and probably refuse to take them on anymore.

Whatever. It’s not like they can change anything that’s happened. Besides, he’s been dealing with the Giroux and Briere clusterfuck—and it totally is a clusterfuck no matter what anyone says—for years, so this should be a walk in the fucking park.

Jonny’s left a glass of juice on the island for him, so Patrick grabs it as he makes his way into the living room. Jonny’s already on the couch, staring down at his phone as if it’s going to call itself.

“You have to actually dial, dude,” Patrick says, dropping down next to Jonny.

Jonny glowers but doesn’t say anything. Patrick takes a few gulps of his juice.

“You don’t think...we should say something?”

“No,” Jonny says immediately, eyes dark. “I don’t think.”

Patrick shrugs. “I don’t care either way. I just wasn’t sure—“

“You and me, Peeks. That’s it.”

Patrick’s a little startled by the nickname; Jonny hasn’t called him that in forever, but he shuffles closer. “Sure.”

He picks up the phone, certain Jonny isn’t going to, and dials Brisson’s number. This is not going to be pretty.

“Brisson,” Pat says briskly.

“It’s Jon and Patrick,” Jonny says.

There’s a pause. “Both of you together?”

It’s not unusual, but Patrick feels like he already knows everything and starts jiggling his leg. Jonny curves his fingers around his knee and squeezes gently.

“We have something to say that you need to hear.”

Brisson doesn’t say anything for a moment, and Patrick realizes it’s a prompt. He wants to let Jonny do all the talking, but he feels like he should pull his weight here, considering he’s the one that got them into this mess.

“We’re together.”

Jonny squeezes him again, reassuring from the smile on his face, but Patrick holds his breath anyway.

“Together how?” Brisson asks, his tone leaving no argument that he knows exactly how.

“Dating, together,” Patrick says quickly, afraid that if he takes too long, he won’t be able to say it at all. “For a while.”

There’s another, longer silence, and even Jonny is starting to look nervous.

“Right.” Brisson sounds impassive. Patrick’s sure that’s to mask something, but he’s not sure exactly what that is. “How long is a while?”

Jonny takes over, leaning forward a little on the couch. He closes his eyes, though, like he can’t bear to look at the picture of Brisson, even on the phone. “Since training camp -rookie year.”

And jesus, jesus, that’s so close to the truth that Patrick wants to throw up. At least he knows he’s going to be better than Jonny at faking this.

“Jesus Christ.” Finally Brisson sounds as taken aback as Patrick expected him to. “Why the hell would you want to come out?”

Patrick swallows. “They were going to trade me. There was due to be a meeting in a couple of weeks, but me and Jonny got there first.” This bit they can’t lie about. If Brisson is going to be on their side, he has to know. “If we get married—they’ll alter my contract and my no movement clause will come into effect this season instead of 2014.”

“Right.”

Patrick feels like he’s going to be sick, and Jonny must see something on his face, because he moves his hand from Patrick’s knee to the back of his neck, rubbing slightly. Patrick sucks in slow breaths, focusing his attention on Brisson’s voice.

“You’ll need to make a statement about this, something we can have ready for the press when news about your nuptials inevitably gets out.”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, no doubt taking hold of it because it’s something he can control. “We can do that.”

“Good.” Brisson lets out another, quieter expletive. “Get the statement to me and we’ll work out how we’re going to do this. Just don’t do anything until then.”

“We’ve kept it quiet this long,” Patrick says bitterly, because he’s supposed to, because he wants to. “A few more weeks isn’t going to make a difference.”

Jonny lets out a soft snort, but whether it’s disapproval or amusement, Patrick doesn’t know.

“Right. Email me as soon as possible,” Brisson says, and then ends the call.

Patrick drops his head into his hands. “Jesus, Jonny. What the fuck are we even doing.”

“I don’t know,” Jonny admits, after a pause.

---

They sit down the next morning with a pad of paper and a pen, because Jonny is the kind of ridiculous human being who likes to plan out what they’re going to say on paper before writing it up on the computer. Like Bill Gates didn’t bless every laptop computer with a delete button. Seriously. Patrick settles into it with minimal amounts of bitching because this is serious shit, and he doesn’t want to piss off Jonny before they even get started.

“You know this is dumb, right?” Patrick puts his phone on silent—he really doesn’t need to be interrupted by his sisters sending him ridiculous photos when he’s concentrating—and frowns at Jonny. “How are we supposed to convince the media that we’ve been in a loving relationship for years when we’ve slept with other people?”

Jonny looks unimpressed. “We just have to come up with a statement that will appease everyone.”

Patrick snorts. “Right, because appeasing Deadspin is everything I want in my life.”

“Patrick,” Jonny says, and there he goes with the captain tone again. “Take this seriously, okay? This is the difference between us getting it right, and nobody believing us.”

“I’m just saying,” Patrick puts in, doodling little hockey sticks in the margins of the notepad. “We can say whatever the hell we like, Jonny, and it’s all going to be for nothing if some former girlfriend does one of those dumb reveal all stories.”

Jonny’s still scowling. He can make faces all he likes, but Patrick is totally right about this and they both know it. He’s not dumb—and he isn’t sorry about sleeping with other people—there’s only so long you can pine after your seriously unattainable teammate before it gets to be too much. And he’s totally aware of the irony in that. “We just have to think about it.”

“Great!” Patrick says brightly. “You do that, I’m going to—“

“Look, I get it okay? It’s not going to be easy, Patrick, but this is important.” Jonny sighs, and Patrick can already tell he isn’t going to like what comes out of Jonny’s mouth. “If we don’t fix this, you end up somewhere else.”

“God, Jonny,” Patrick snaps. “Thanks for that reminder, I had completely forgotten.”

It’s all he can fucking think about. Jonny doesn’t fucking get it. Yeah, he might be upset that Patrick’s getting traded, but he isn’t the one actually getting traded, doesn’t know what it feels like to know that you staying in Chicago depends on how well you can sell the idea that you’ve been dating your teammate. Patrick doesn’t even know how to be in a relationship that’s actually going to last. He’s had some before, had girlfriends who criticize everything from the way he dresses to how he acts in public, and there’s only so much of that he can take.

He’s aware Jonny does the same on an almost daily basis, but it’s different because Jonny doesn’t expect Patrick to be a different person, and that’s just it. Patrick could probably sell this thing if it was just him, because what the hell, it’s not like he hasn’t been pining after Jonny for years anyway, but he didn’t stay celibate because he’s only human. Therein lies the problem.

“Patrick—“

“No,” Patrick says. “You don’t get to question my fucking commitment to this, Jonny. I know you always feel like you have to fix shit by out-stubborning it or whatever, but you can’t just handwave these people away. It’s not like you can just make everyone we’ve ever slept with sign a non-disclosure agreement.”

“I know that, asshole,” Jonny snaps, even though he looks like he’s entertaining that very possibility. “We have to have this statement ready pretty fucking quick, Pat. You think we’re going to be able to hide the marriage forever?”

“No.” Patrick shoves the pad away and drops the pen on the table. “I need to go home, yeah?”

Jonny sighs. “Don’t. Just—“

“Please,” Patrick asks quietly. “I just need—maybe we can come up with something separately.”

Jonny looks skeptical but, thankfully, he doesn’t stop Patrick. “Sure. If that’s what you want.” It isn’t, not even close, but if Patrick has to spend one more second looking at Jonny’s determined face and feeling like he’s failing him every second, he’s going to go insane. “Thanks. Call me if you come up with anything.”

Jonny nods distractedly. “Sure. You too.”

Patrick gathers up his stuff, something he’s done so many times before, but it feels different this time, like leaving shit this way is the wrong thing to do. He just can’t be around Jonny right now.

He lets himself out, standing in the hall for a while and just leaning against Jonny’s front door. Everything is so fucked up right now, he doesn’t even know what he’s doing.

---

Patrick flees to his house, actually unpacks his bags and does laundry because he hasn’t been home since Jonny called him back to Chicago. He really doesn’t know what the hell they’re going to do.

Somebody is going to come forward and say they like, slept with them or whatever and then the entire thing is going to collapse. The longer he thinks about it, the more frustrated with himself he gets, until he starts to realize that maybe his family was right about this whole disappointment thing. He’s so fucking dumb for doing shit like ending up all over the media for reasons like this; he’s managed to get himself potentially traded—possibly still so unless he and Jonny can come up with some great reason why nobody will come forward.

Patrick spends the afternoon texting his sisters just so that he can feel better, and by the time the evening rolls around, he doesn’t feel like such an epic failure of a human being. He’s not closer to actually coming up with anything but whatever, it’s not his fault they’ve both slept with people. He’s the idiot that went on a bender, but there’s so much fucking pressure to be perfect sometimes and it’s overwhelming. It’s no excuse and he knows it, so he buckles down and tries to think.

He frowns, staring down at the last text he sent Erica, but he’s struck by the idea that maybe there’s something they can say that would make this alright. Actually, not them. Him. He’s pretty sure he’s got something, but he doesn’t tell Jonny. It’s the kind of thing Jonny would take the wrong way or try and talk him down from and, frankly, it’s not something he actually feels comfortable discussing with Jonny. So he settles for ignoring Jonny’s texts asking after his progress, and instead starts to write an email to their agent.

---

Jonny’s on his third mug of coffee when he feels awake enough to check his email. He’s been putting it off because he knows there’s going to be an email in there from their agent asking for progress, and he doesn’t really know how to admit to not getting very far at all. He’s not surprised to see Brisson’s name show up in the inbox. He is, however, when he opens it.

 

Jonny, Patrick,

Thank you for the email last night. This is a good statement and one that will definitely work in your favor.

I’ll be in contact again,

Pat Brisson.

 

Jonny frowns. They didn’t even send a statement. Fuck, he didn’t send a statement. With some amount of trepidation, he hits the quote link at the bottom of the email, and almost drops his coffee cup when he sees what’s written there.

Sometime in the night, Patrick actually took the time to write out a statement that’s—Jonny sucks in a breath. It’s emotional, is what it is. He talks about how he has always loved Jonny, almost since the day he met him, definitely after they both completed rookie training camp, and they’ve been together off and on since then. He talks about how hard it’s been, and that they haven’t been together in the conventional sense the whole time, even though they have loved each other, because being a gay hockey player is hard enough with the pressure and scrutiny, and sometimes that gets to be too much. He ends it by talking about how they weren’t ready to come out before, that they wanted it to be about hockey and not their relationship. Now, however, they’re ready to commit to each other and from here on out it’s just Jonny, always Jonny for him.

Jonny’s kind of—stunned isn’t the right word. He feels like the floor has been ripped out from beneath his feet and he’s finding it hard to think about what he’s reading. Jesus, it feels like Patrick’s bearing his soul. It feels real, not something that Patrick’s come up with about a fake relationship, and it’s confusing. How he can put something like this into words that he doesn’t actually feel? This is the product of so much longer than a day and Jonny doesn’t get it, but their agent seems to. He shuts his laptop, ignoring the coffee on the table as he grabs his phone and keys. He’s still not sure what he’s going to say when he gets to Patrick’s apartment, he just knows that he does need to get there.

---

He knocks because he’s actually got fucking manners, but Patrick takes a long time to answer, so long that Jonny thinks he isn’t going to.

Finally, the door opens and Patrick’s standing on the other side, looking nervous. Jonny doesn’t understand.

“Fuck,” Jonny says, shoving Patrick back a little, hands on his shirt. “Where did that come from?”

Patrick’s eyes are wide but he smiles, that fucking smirk that hides the real Patrick, and Jonny hates it. He hasn’t seen it directed at him in forever, and that hurts.

“I just figured that’s how I should feel, right?”

There’s something there that Patrick isn’t telling him, and it grates on Jonny. Obviously, they don’t tell each other everything because there’s still some limits to how far they’ll trust each other, right now at least, but Jonny thinks that something related to this he wants to know. Just because he wants to know it, however, doesn’t mean that he should. “It’s good.”

Patrick’s smile dims to something more genuine. “Yeah?”

“Fuck yeah, Patrick. If Brisson thinks it’s good, we’re good.”

Patrick relaxes under Jonny’s hands and okay no, Patrick shouldn’t feel like Jonny was mad about this.

“I wasn’t ever going to be mad if you couldn’t come up with something.”

“That’s not—“ Patrick starts, shrugging. “That’s not what I thought you’d be mad about.”

Jonny frowns, but Patrick slips out of his grasp, heading back towards the kitchen.

“You want a drink?”

Jonny says, “Sure,” even if he’s not totally sure what just happened. He’s willing to let it go for now, content that this is actually working in their favor. There are some things they’re actually going to have to get straight between them, but it can wait. Patrick’s staying in Chicago, with Jonny, and they’re going to be fucking great this season. That’s all that counts right now.

---

They come out of the office after having the signed contract, and Patrick is a little pale faced. It’s been a difficult couple of days and Jonny elbows him gently. “How about we go home for a drink?”

There’s a flash of surprise on Patrick’s face, but it’s chased away quickly by a tired grin. “Mine or yours?”

It takes Jonny a little while to figure out what he means. “Oh, yours? I mean, your stuff is there?”

“Dude,” Patrick snorts, finally perking up a little. “Like I don’t have shit at yours. Besides, I think I left my keys at your place.”

Jonny knows for a fact that Patrick has his keys in his pocket, but he doesn’t call him on it, just remains comfortably silent as they make their way out of the UC and towards Jonny’s parked car. The ink is finally dry on the contract, and Jonny is deliberately not thinking about what this means for either of them right now. He just wants to go home and get drunk—and then they’re inevitably going to have to talk about it.

The drive back to Jonny’s apartment is punctuated by small talk; a little bit awkward because Jonny knows they’re contemplating their future. He’s not used to Patrick being this quiet, but then neither of them has ever had the threat of trade hanging over them before. Patrick heads straight for the refrigerator when they get inside, grabbing an entire case of beer which, yeah, okay, Jonny doesn’t question. They don’t even turn on the TV as background noise; they’re going to need all their attention on actually communicating like functioning adults.

“Kaner,” Jonny says slowly. “You know—“

“We have to talk about this?” Patrick looks like he’d rather jump out of Jonny’s window, but he nods. “Yeah, I guess.”

There’s a long silence which Jonny doesn’t know how to break, and it frustrates him. What the fuck are they supposed to talk about?

Patrick breaks it eventually, staring down at the bottle in his hands. “Did I say thanks, yet?”

Jonny starts, not expecting that. “What?”

Patrick gives him a wry smile. “My mom’s always talking shit about my manners and how I need to use them. It’s...what you did is fucking amazing, you know?”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, uncomfortable. “It’s what you’d do for me.”

“Oh?” Patrick raises an eyebrow. “Propose marriage to keep you in Chicago?”

“Asshole,” Jonny mutters, punching Patrick in the thigh. “It was spur of the moment.”

Patrick nods but doesn’t say anything else.

“You’re welcome.” Jonny doesn’t look at Patrick, just grabs another beer from the table and pops the cap. “You would have.”

Patrick nudges him with his leg, rubs at his eyebrow—a nervous gesture. “Yeah, I would have. Not marriage, maybe, because seriously dude, but I would have, like, given up my spot or whatever.”

Jonny opens his mouth to say something about giving up his captaincy but Patrick is still talking, steamrolling over anything Jonny tries to mumble.

“And like, I’m not against the marriage? So don’t think I’m going to run out on you at the first opportunity or whatever.”

“You can’t,” Jonny says quickly. “If this is going to be believable..”

“I know, I know,” Patrick snaps. “I meant like, we could...we’re going to have to...”

He fidgets and Jonny wraps his fingers around Patrick’s arm. “What?”

Patrick looks him in the eye for the first time. He looks a hot mess; still pale-faced and hair all over the place from constantly running his fingers through it. “I didn’t forget my keys.”

Jonny knows this, knows exactly this, but he lets Patrick finish.

“We’re going to have to live together.”

Jonny nods. He made a list of all the things they’re going to have to do to make this work. When he tells Patrick, Patrick outright laughs.

“Oh my god, Jonny.” He’s still grinning, but he also looks impressed which, he should be. Jonny is fucking great at this shit, okay? They’re going to make this work and people will believe them. “We’re really going to make this work, right?”

“Yes,” Jonny says, determined.”We are.”

Patrick just nods, face schooling itself into determination and Jonny can admit to himself privately that he’s proud of him. He’s expected Kaner to have a private meltdown over the last few days but it’s like the Patrick that flew back to Chicago was determined to make things right, and he is.

“You okay?”

“No,” Patrick answers quickly. “Or yes. But no. I don’t fucking know, man. This is all...not real, you know? We signed the contract, but what the hell do we do now?”

“We told Brisson,” Jonny says. “But if we’re getting married, there are other people who are going to need to know, Kaner.”

Patrick frowns. He opens his mouth and then shuts it, thinking. Jonny lets him, taking a generous gulp from his bottle. Liquid courage is needed and he knows it.

“Oh shit,” Patrick says eventually. “My mom is going to flip her shit.”

Jonny laughs. She really, really is. Then he thinks of his own mom’s reaction and groans. “We’re calling your parents first.”

“No way,” Patrick says, turning to face Jonny. “Why do we have to call my mom first? Yours will take this better, Jonny, please?”

Jonny has his reasons for wanting to tell Patrick’s family first. “We have more of your family to tell.”

It’s dumb logic and Patrick knows it, but he stares Jonny down anyway. He’s going to lose because Jonny is fucking boss at this staring shit and they both know it.

“Fine,” Patrick says, giving in eventually. “Fine.”

Jonny looks at the beer bottles still on the table. “You wanna get sober before we tell them?”

Patrick snorts. “Fuck no. Don’t wanna get drunker though.”

Agreeing, Jonny grabs the last of the beer and carries it back out to the kitchen, just so that he can get ahold of his emotions. This is not going to be easy. After the conversation he had with his mom before he went to the office, he’s pretty sure she’s going to see through everything and know it’s a lie. He’s not altogether sure how he feels about that, whether she’ll tell Donna or whatever, and that’s the reason he wants to tell Donna first. He’s not ready for his mom to think less of him because he’s lied about something like this. This isn’t just something that could ruin Patrick if the truth came out—it’s something that could ruin Jonny, too.

When he gets back into the living room, Patrick is staring down at his phone, thumbing through the contacts. He’s sitting on the edge of the couch, one hand hanging between his legs. He looks comfortable despite what he’s about to do, and Jonny figures that’s a good sign.

“You ready for this?”

“Hell no,” Patrick says quickly, but he turns to give Jonny a quick grin. “But we gotta do it, so.”

Jonny sits down next to Patrick on the couch and pats his knee. “You said it, buddy.”

Patrick makes a production out of hitting the call button and then putting it on speaker. He taps his knee with his fingers and then Donna is answering.

“Hi, sweetheart!”

Patrick grins, even though Jonny expects him to get embarrassed, and Jonny feels a little bit uncomfortable. He’s used to Patrick calling his parents on the road, but he’s never felt quite right about it. “Hi, mom. How’s it going?”

“Patrick Kane, you wouldn’t be calling unless it was important.”

Jonny grins despite himself as Patrick rolls his eyes.

“Mom, can you get everyone together?”

There’s a pause and then, “What’s happened, Patrick?”

“Nothing bad, Mom. I swear. I just don’t wanna have to do this like five separate times.”

Jonny pokes Patrick and he gets a slap on the hand in return. Donna’s calling something in the background but as soon as she comes back on the phone, Jonny leans forward. “You’re on speaker too, Mrs. Kane.”

“Jonny!” Donna sounds delighted and Jonny grins, poking Patrick again because yeah, his mom totally loves Jonny. “How are you?”

“Oh, he gets a ‘how are you’?” Patrick says.

“Shut up, Patrick. Fine, thank you, Mrs. Kane.”

“Jonathan, I think you can call me Donna by now. I don’t know how many times I have to ask.”

Jonny makes a face. “Okay Mrs—Donna.”

Patrick snorts and starts laughing at him but whatever, Jonny can ignore him as more voices filter into the phone.

“Is that Patrick?”

“Patty!”

“What’s going on?”

“I was just going to ask that myself,” Donna says over the voices of her daughters. “We’re all here, Pat.”

Patrick’s looking a little pale, so Jonny grabs his thigh. Patrick nods quickly. “It kinda involves both of us, which is why Jonny is here.”

“Jonny’s there? Patrick, what the hell have you done now?”

Jonny watches Patrick wince as he answers. “Nothing. Look, it’s just that Jonny and I—we’re—“

He trails off and Jonny rolls his eyes, frustrated. “For god’s sake, Pat—“

He gets a punch in the arm. “I’m trying, dude! It’s not easy to tell them we’re getting married!”

The two of them freeze. There are clearly a hundred ways this could have gone better, but there’s a deadly quiet on the other end of the phone and Jonny realizes they’re both staring at it intently.

“Patrick Kane, what are you talking about?”

“Mom,” Patrick says, swallowing. “We’re getting married.”

Almost immediately, Patrick’s sisters start screaming in the background and Donna is shouting for quiet. It’s Patrick’s dad who talks first. “What are you talking about, Buzz?”

“Dad.” Patrick sounds pretty fucking terrible, but Jonny doesn’t know what else to do but sit here. “Jonny and I—“

“I heard,” his dad says again. “How did this come up?”

“Pat,” Donna says quickly. “This seems sudden. You and Jonny—“

“It didn’t seem right to tell you,” Patrick says and then shakes his head. “I don’t mean—I mean we didn’t want to tell anyone because we weren’t sure. Not about us. About being—“

“We were afraid of repercussions,” Jonny says smoothly.

There’s another pause. “That’s understandable, Jon. I just wonder why you didn’t tell us.”

Patrick drops his head, rubbing a hand over his hair. He looks—well, he looks a little like they do after they’ve lost a game, or the way he had after Jonny had told him he was being traded.

“I’m sorry,” Patrick says, quietly. “I didn’t know how to.”

“Did you think we would be upset about this?”

“I don’t know.” It feels a little bit like Jonny’s taken a check to the boards when he looks at Patrick. It’s uncomfortable to the point that he wants to leave, but he’s in this too, now. It’s not as though he can just walk out when things involve Patrick, and he’s not entirely sure how he feels about that.

“I just wanted it to be me and Jonny. I didn’t think—I guess I didn’t think. Again.”

“I’m not mad at you, darling,” Donna says gently. “I just want to know why you’re getting married, why now.”

There’s a silence that Patrick doesn’t feel. Jonny wants to help him, wants to find something to say that will make this easier.

“It was a mutual decision,” he says eventually.

He needs to make this about hockey; it is about hockey, even if they’re stretching the truth, twisting around to suit their needs. Lying feels fucking awful, but they don’t have a choice.

“Patrick, you’re a fuckwit. We love you anyway!” Erica shouts and Patrick smiles, finally, however small.

“Erica!” Donna admonishes. “This is a surprise, of course it is, but we’re behind you, Patrick.”

“Thanks mom.” Patrick pats Jonny’s hand on his thigh and then rests it there, the palm of his hand hot against Jonny’s. “You can stop worrying I’ll never settle down now.”

Donna laughs lightly. Jonny thinks she has a great laugh. “Right. Jonny, are you sure about this?”

“Sorry?”

“Being tied to my son forever.”

Jonny snorts, laughs when he sees the incredulous look on Patrick’s face and the, “Hey!” he yells into the phone.

“Managed this far,” Jonny says quickly.

“Well, I imagine you want to tell your mother?” Donna asks gently.

Erica, Jessica and Jackie start talking over each other again, squealing about the marriage, and Patrick grins despite himself.

“Girls, you can talk to your brother later.”

Patrick snorts. “Thanks mom.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Dad?”

“I’m here, Buzz.”

“You mad?” Patrick stares down at his hands again.

“I don’t pretend to understand why you felt you needed to hide it, but you’re my son and I love you.”

Patrick swallows thickly and Jonny hopes he isn’t going to cry. He doesn’t think he could handle that. “Thanks Dad.”

“Go, Patrick. We’ll talk later.”

Patrick says goodbye to his parents and with one last quick, “Take care, Jonathan,” they hang up.

Jonny feels emotionally drained already, and he still has to call his mother. Patrick rubs at his eyes with the heels of his hands and then looks at Jonny with a small smile.

“You wanna break before we call your parents?”

Jonny wants to rip the bandaid off so he just shakes his head. He moves to get his own phone but Patrick tightens his grip on Jonny’s hand. “I have her number.”

Patrick scrolls through his phone and Jonny figures he should be asking when Patrick put his mother’s number into his phone, but he’s staring down at their joined hands. Patrick’s linked their fingers and he’s flexing his own a little. Jonny frowns. He feels like he does when Patrick celebrates with him on the ice, screaming in his face that they’re fucking awesome. He doesn’t hate it, but it’s confusing.

Snapping out of it, he hears his mother say, “Patrick!” Patrick grins as if to say your mom loves me best! and Jonny snorts and shoves Patrick’s shoulder. “Maman, it’s me.”

“And me!” Patrick pipes up, because he’s immature as fuck.

“Well,” Jonny’s mom says. “It’s nice to hear from you both. I’m assuming this isn’t a social call?”

Jonny glowers down at Patrick’s phone. “Maman—“

“Jonathan, I assume you fixed your problem?”

Patrick looks between Jonny and the phone, confused. “What the hell, dude?”

“Don’t curse in front of my mom,” Jonny says automatically, and then feels like a parent. His mom laughs on the end of the phone and even Patrick is grinning. “I spoke to the front office.”

His mom makes a noise and, despite the look on Patrick’s face, Jonathan switches to French.

”Maman, I took your advice.”

“Speaking French when Patrick is listening is rude, Jonathan.” She sounds amused, like Jonny’s life is endless entertainment for her. If Jonny didn’t love her to death, well. ”What advice would that be?”

“We’re—“ Jonny pauses. It wasn’t really her advice, but he knows she put the idea in his head somehow. ”Patrick and I are getting married.”

Before Jonny can get a reaction, Patrick punches him in the shoulder. “What are you saying?”

“He’s saying,” Jonny’s mom cuts in. “That the two of you are getting married?”

Patrick pales. Jonny takes momentary comfort from his discomfort. “Well, that is, if you—“

Jonny’s mom laughs. “Patrick, do you want to marry my son?”

“Uh—“ Patrick looks to Jonny for help but he just shrugs. His mom is taking this better than he thought she would, and it’s oddly calming. She’s perceptive at the best of times—and mostly about Patrick.

“Well, yes.”

“Well yes or yes.”

Patrick snorts, and then his grin softens into a smile. “I wouldn’t have said yes if I didn’t want it, Andree.”

“Well then,” Jonny’s mom says. “That’s settled.”

“Dad—“ Jonny cuts in, because that’s not a conversation he ever wants to have, but he needs to do it. If Patrick has the balls to tell his entire family, Jonny can too.

“I’ll tell him,” Jonny’s mom says. “You know he won’t mind, darling.”

“You’re not mad we kept it from you?” It’s Patrick that asks, and Jonny’s torn between being grateful and being annoyed.

Jonny’s mom, when she replies, sounds almost fond. “It’s going to be your life together, you’ve told me when you needed to.”

Jonny rubs the back of his head. ”Thank you, Maman,” he says, in French. Then, for Patrick’s benefit, speaks English. “Will you tell David?”

His mom laughs, not as kind this time. “Jonathan, that is your duty, not mine.”

She hangs up, then, after a final promise to tell Jonny’s dad.

Patrick finally lets go of Jonny’s hand and it startles him; he’d forgotten they were even doing it.

“You want me to leave?”

Jonny frowns. “Why?”

“When you call David,” Patrick says, slowly, as though Jonny’s a little dumb.

Jonny shrugs. He wants to say yes, because David and Patrick have—well. Their relationship - as new as it is - is strained at best, but Jonny tries not to think about it too much.

“Yeah, thought so,” Patrick says, standing.

Jonny doesn’t even know what that means. Before he can say as much, Patrick puts a hand up.

“Fuck Jonny, I know this isn’t easy, okay?”

Yeah. Okay maybe he does.

“Thanks,” he says, awkwardly. Patrick disappears out through to the kitchen and Jonny picks up, knowing he’s probably going to have to get his own phone because he doesn’t remember David’s number, but is surprised to see it in Patricks contacts. He dials through and waits for David to answer.

“Has something happened?”

Jonny frowns, and then realizes that he’s calling from Patrick’s phone. “It’s Jon.”

“Hey,” David says easily.

Jonny feels guilty as fuck sometimes that David’s stuck in the minors while he gets the NHL, but there’s not a lot he can do about it. It makes things difficult sometimes, but David is his brother and Jonny—well, he’s Jonny’s brother.

“How’s it going?”

“Good. You coming back to Winnipeg once you’re done there? You left kind of abruptly.”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, leaning his elbows on his knees. “There was shit I had to do in Chicago.”

“Patrick shit,” David says, with a tone. Jonny hates that David and Patrick don’t get along like he wishes they would. He doesn’t pretend to misunderstand; David’s looking out for him while Patrick is...Patrick.

“David—“

“No, sorry.” David sighs. “Everything alright?”

Jonny shrugs, even though David can’t see it. “I have something I need to say.”

“That doesn’t sound ominous at all.”

Jonny snorts, sobers quickly. “Patrick and I are—in a relationship.”

There’s silence on the end of the phone and Jonny fucking hates waiting.

He looks up at a noise in the doorway, and sees Patrick standing there, looking guilty but unrepentant.

On the end of the phone, David is muttering something.

“Dave, look,” Jonny cuts in, not wanting to know what David is saying. It doesn’t sound particularly charming. “We’re getting married.”

“Jonny, fuck,” David says, and he doesn’t swear often, but this is vehement.

Patrick finally moves. “Tell him I’ll treat you right.”

Jonny says, “What?” just as David says, “Is that him? Put him on the phone.”

No,” Jonny says to David and glares at Patrick.

“Jonny,” David snaps. “Put him on the phone.”

Patrick notices the look on his face. “Tell him, Jonny.”

“No,” Jonny tells both of them. Christ, this is going to give him a headache.

Patrick comes across the living room, stands next to Jonny. “Please, Jonny.”

David is silent, waiting, and Jonny doesn’t want to do this but he knows they’re both as stubborn—if not more—than he is.

Jonny holds out the phone and Patrick takes it slowly.

He watches them; the way Patrick says, “Hey,” and then frowns a little at whatever David says in return.

“I swear,” Patrick says, and then looks right at Jonny. He’s nodding, and Jonny wants to know what the hell is going on, wants to ask Patrick to put David on speaker phone.

Then Patrick says, “I would never hurt him, David,” and Jonny freezes. He sounds so sincere, and it hits Jonny like a puck to the face. He curls his fingers around his knee as he looks at the expression on Patrick’s face; apprehensive but soft and real and fuck, Jonny doesn’t know what to do.

Patrick is nodding again. “Yeah, okay, yeah. Want me to pass you back?”

Jonny takes the phone on autopilot, tries to register David saying, “Okay, Jon. I’ll—you told Maman?”

“Yeah,” Jonny says. He shakes his head a little. “Yeah, I have.”

“Cool. Look, just—keep me updated, and congratulations, yeah?”

“Yeah, thanks.” Jonny sounds weird, knows he does and hangs up after David’s goodbye. Patrick is hovering next to him, the vibrating, jittery thing he does when he’s nervous, but Jonny doesn’t know what the hell to say.

Patrick opens his mouth and then shuts it again, frowning at himself. Jonny stares at the side of his face, trying to figure out what’s bothering him. Patrick raises his eyebrows at the scrutiny and snaps, “What?”

“What?” Jonny replies.

“Look,” Patrick starts, and then snaps his mouth shut. “I just—maybe I should...my stuff is in the guest room, right? Should I bring...some of my other stuff?”

Jonny stares up at him with a frown. “Why?”

This time the look he gets is one of exasperation. “We have to live together if anyone is going to take this shit seriously, dude.”

“Yeah, but why my apartment?” Jonny’s defensive and he doesn’t even know why. It’s not like he wants to live with Patrick in Trump Tower, he just wants to know why Patrick’s so quick to choose his apartment.

“Apart from like, one night, I’ve been here since I came back to Chicago, Jonny. Besides, your guest room has an attached bathroom.” Patrick wiggles his eyebrows like an ensuite shower is a deciding factor in buying an apartment. He knows how dumb that sounds when he himself bought the apartment partly because of the connected shower, but Patrick is frustrating him.

“Just like that?”

Patrick shrugs and makes a face. “I’m not saying I won’t bitch about moving because I hate that shit, but it’s all good.”

Things get quiet, because Jonny doesn’t really know what the fuck is going on. “...as easy as that, eh?”

Patrick nods, and then grins that fucking dumb smile he always does when Jonny says anything even remotely stereotypically Canadian.

“Shut the fuck up,” Jonny snaps, even though Patrick hasn’t said anything. He doesn’t know why he’s getting so worked up about this, and getting mad at himself about it is just fucking dumb but whatever, Patrick’s just taking this. He’s not bitching or whining or essentially making Jonny’s life a living hell in any way, and this is not like Patrick.

“Also,” Patrick says, dropping down on the other end of the couch and kicking Jonny in the thigh. Jonny grabs his ankle, fingers painfully tight, but Patrick just keeps grinning. “We totally have to share a bed.”

“No,” Jonny says automatically.

“Right, Jonny, because most couples who are about to get married sleep in separate bedrooms.” Patrick’s eyes are shining with something that makes Jonny want to punch him in the face.

Maybe this is what having a breakdown feels like. Jonny doesn’t have breakdowns, but if anyone was going to cause him to think he was, it would be Patrick. Fucking Patrick.

---

Patrick storms into the kitchen where Jonny’s decided to run and sulk. “What the fuck is your problem?”

“We’re not together!” Jonny’s leaning against the counter, somewhere Patrick’s having serious concerns they’re going to spend all of their fights. “I’m not sleeping in the same bed as you when we’re not together.”

Patrick shoves his clenched hands in his pockets because fuck, that kinda hurts. “We’re getting married,” he says, staring down at his sneakers. “We have to sleep in the same room, Jonny.”

Jonny just glares down at his own hands. Patrick’s glad he’s not the one being glared at, but Jonny needs to get over himself.

“So, what, we’re supposed to pretend?” Patrick asks, hating the idea even as he says it. “Sleep in separate rooms until someone comes along?”

“The alternative,” Jonny says, “is that you sleep in my bed and shit is fucking awkward because we’re not actually in a relationship?”

Fuck. Patrick wants to walk out at that. He knew, objectively, that Jonny probably didn’t feel like that about him, but hearing it just fucking sucks.

“I don’t know what you want from me,” Jonny says, sounding honest for the first time. “What am I supposed to do here, Patrick?”

He sounds frustrated, but Patrick doesn’t even care. “I don’t know, Jonny, why don’t you figure out an alternative?”

Patrick shakes his head and leaves the kitchen, heading into the guest room that he’s been using anyway, staring at the empty bed.

He hates fighting with Jonny when there’s no point to it, when it’s not on the ice and helping them learn to be better around each other. This is just fucking pointless.

He fucks around on his laptop for a while, because what the hell else is there to do when he’s in Jonny’s apartment. They’ve always had the option to leave, and Patrick thinks that maybe he should, maybe that’s what Jonny wants. He shuts the lid of his laptop and pokes his head into the living room. Jonny is watching some shitty fishing documentary on TV, but he’s not really watching it, running his phone through his hands and scowling at the entertainment center like it’s personally pissed him off.

Patrick walks into the room, leans against the wall. “I’m gonna head back to my apartment.”

“No,” Jonny says, looking up almost immediately. Was he waiting for Patrick to come out? Jesus, he is such a dumbass. “You don’t have to leave, Patrick.”

Patrick sighs, exhausted. “Then tell me what the hell we do, Jonny.”

Jonny shrugs and turns back to the TV.

“It’s not like we’ve never share a bed before before,” Patrick says eventually, quietly.

Jonny closes his eyes and rubs his fingers over his face. “That’s different.”

“Why?” Patrick asks. “The guest room can’t look lived in, right? So we have to do this, fuck Jonny, what are you afraid of?”

Jonny finally looks at him, brow creasing in the way it does when he’s concentrating on a play. Patrick isn’t hockey, but Jonny’s never seemed to realize—or even care—that Patrick’s not a hockey play, that he can’t be dissected like that. “Why are you pushing so hard on this?”

Patrick swallows, shrugs and tries act like this doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t, hasn’t for so long. Patrick can’t start having feelings around Jonny after burying them for so long just because they’re getting married. He can’t answer. He doesn’t know what the right thing to say is, and that’s never mattered before but it feels like it might, this time.

There’s a silence in the room, the kind that Patrick hates because it makes you want to talk, want to fill it just so that it will go away but if he does, if he starts talking, he’s kind of scared that Jonny will know everything and give up on this whole plan and Patrick will end up in like, buttfuck, Canada and shit—

“We can—“ Jonny starts, cuts himself off with a frown.

“I’m fucking lonely, you asshole,” Patrick snaps eventually, the words feeling like they’re being ripped from his chest. “What the hell do you want me to say, Jonny? I don’t wanna sleep alone if I’m going to be married to you.”

Jonny opens his mouth, shuts it. He looks blindsided, a little like he did when Patrick told David on the phone that he cared about Jonny. Patrick’s not sure why his mouth is betraying his brain and saying all this shit without consulting him first but god, he fucking loves the way Jonny shifts from surprise to confusion to—to, well, he smiles in a way Patrick hasn’t seen before. It’s not his full, dumb grin that Patrick gets more often than most, but something smaller, kind of stunned. He doesn’t say anything for a moment, but then nods.

“Yeah?” Patrick asks because whatever, he’s still unsure about this shit. He’s not used to being able to feel like this without feeling like he’s pining after something unattainable or whatever. He and Jonny are going to be married. And, apparently, moving in together—and sleeping in the same bed.

“Yeah,” Jonny agrees, looking back at the fishing show, this time sinking into the couch and relaxing.

Patrick waits a few moments for the stupid rush of fuck yeah in his head to die down before crossing the room to join him, kicking his feet up into Jonny’s lap to be a dick, and a little taken aback—in the good way—when Jonny curls his fingers around his ankle again.

Patrick gets bored of the fishing show pretty quickly but he can’t bring himself to bitch about it, liking the way Jonny’s relaxing, still has his fingers around Patrick’s ankle like he’s forgotten they’re there. There’s something normal about it that’s giving Patrick mixed feelings because he wants it, god, he’d be dumb not to, but he also feels like he’s holding his breath a little bit, waiting for Jonny to realize and then stop.

Jesus, he’s really fucking gone on this douchebag.

“This show is so fucking awful.”

Jonny snorts but doesn’t change the channel, of course he doesn’t, but he does turn his head lazily, without lifting it from the back of the couch. “My house, my rules.”

Patrick grins, feels it soften (god, he needs to cut that shit out). “Our house, right? So I get a say in the TV watching, dude.”

Jonny snorts again but Patrick sees the shift in his face, the flush of apprehension before he shrugs. “Living together doesn’t take away my right to the remote, Kaner.”

“Whatever,” Patrick says, cheerfully. “When you fall asleep during the commercials, I’m totally switching.”

Jonny laughs, Patrick hears the surprise in it, but he feels good. It’s late and it’s been an exhausting day, and Patrick wants to sleep but they’ve only just gotten over the dumb fight about it, and he’s not sure he wants to mention it yet.

“Fine,” Jonny says, “get your ass up off the couch and into the shower. You’re not—“ His face twists and then he grins, a shit-eating smile, the asshole. “You’re not getting into my bed smelling like you’ve just come off the ice.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick says affably, and kicks out with the foot not currently in Jonny’s grip.

Patrick bitches all the way to the shower, because he can, and shouts, “Fuck you!” when Jonny throws a towel at his face. “There’s one in there already,” he grouses, tossing the spare towel on the heating rack.

“It’s mine,” Jonny replies. “There needs to be two in there now, right?”

He stares at Patrick intently, and Patrick flushes at the heat in it. What the hell, he needs to get a hold of himself.

“Yeah. I guess there does,” Patrick says with a grin.

He shuts the door to the bathroom and leans against it, smiling down at his feet like a loser. Fuck everything, he’s happy.

When he’s done with the shower, he wraps the towel around his waist and opens the door, tossing his clothes into the hamper by the door. He notices Jonny on the bed, watching him, and shrugs. “It’s okay, right?”

Jonny’s staring at him kind of weirdly. He frowns and then nods. “Yeah, sure.”

Patrick snorts. “What’s your damage?”

“Nothing,” Jonny snaps, and then shakes his head. “Nothing. Get your ass out of the bathroom so that I can use it.”

“Bitch, bitch, bitch,” Patrick mutters, but does as Jonny asks and moves out of the bathroom. “I even managed to keep the water in the stall.”

“It’s a fucking miracle,” Jonny says, pulling a face like he’s remember every “hellish” day on the road with Patrick. Whatever, Patrick is a fucking dream to room with.

Something Jonny will find out himself.

Again. For real.

Whatever, Jonny will fucking love this, and enjoy bitching about it even more.

---

Patrick goes to change in the guest room because his clothes are still in there. He contemplates moving his stuff into Jonny’s room but shrugs and tugs on some boxers. Maybe he should put a t-shirt on? The few times they’ve slept in the same bed before (mostly because Sharpy and Bur were assholes who decided ruining Kaner’s bed by throwing a shitload of water over it three times was hilarious), Kaner’s worn a shirt and pants. Jonny sleeps in his underwear because he does every fucking thing on the road in his underwear except play hockey, apparently. Annoyed at the overthinking, he just grabs a shirt in case Jonny bitches and wanders back into Jonny’s bedroom—right into Jonny’s very wet, very naked body.

“Nnrgh,” Patrick says, and then turns on his heel. “Shit, sorry dude.”

“Fuck—Patrick!” Jonny shouts. “Jesus, warn a guy.”

Patrick feels like he should probably leave but whatever, Jonny’s a glorious specimen of humanity and Patrick’s comfortable enough with his dumb attraction at this point to admit it to himself. “...Are you even putting clothes on?”

“I’m dressed,” Jonny grouses.

Patrick turns around. Dressed apparently means underwear in Jonny’s world but Patrick’s not going to complain. He’s standing in his own, after all. The two of them stand there awkwardly for a little while, staring at the bed and not at each other.

“So,” Patrick says eventually. “You gonna bitch about which side of the bed you have?”

Jonny raises an eyebrow. “It does belong to me, Patrick. You’ll have to take whatever scraps I give you.”

“Whatever,” Patrick mutters, tossing the t-shirt on the dresser. “We both know that once you’re asleep, trying to move your fat ass is impossible.”

“Fuck you,” Jonny snaps, but he moves to the right side of the bed, so Patrick figures he’s safe with the left. The dresser is bare on his side but for a framed picture of Andree and Bryan, and a lamp. Patrick grins down next to the smiling face of his mother-in-law to be (hell yes) and sits on the edge of the bed.

He thumbs through his phone for a while, listening to the rustling behind him, waiting until Jonny’s actually stopped moving.

“You actually getting in?”

“Quit moaning,” Patrick says, putting his phone down, and turning to look over his shoulder. “I know you need your beauty sleep, princess.”

Jonny just glares until Patrick is settled. Well, not settled, because he’s keeping himself deliberately still, not wanting to move and disturb Jonny. He stares up at the ceiling, feeling awkward as fuck.

“I’m not gonna get pissed off if you move.”

Patrick turns his head to find Jonny’s back to him. Fuck that. Patrick just shrugs and turns away from Jonny onto his own side, not bothering to tug the blankets with him. Jonny’s already curved them around himself and Patrick has a corner at best. Not that it matters; Jonny keeps the heating up so fucking high, Patrick will probably dream of deserts and shit.

He stares at the wall. This is more awkward than he thought it would be. Maybe Jonny was right about having them keep to separate rooms.

Patrick closes his eyes in the hope that sleep will come, sometime. Maybe if he does, it will stop being awkward and start being—well, something else.

He debates checking his phone, but the light will probably disturb Jonny and he’s a bitch if he gets woken up for dumb reasons.

Patrick’s never lied about Jonny snoring—but he maybe lied about it being an issue. Patrick’s usually able to get to sleep anyway, hates how much he can’t when Jonny isn’t, like he’s gotten so used to it or something. His life is so hard.

Jonny’s snoring now, the light kind when he’s just drifting off and he, apparently, doesn’t find it difficult to sleep in the same bed as Patrick anymore, so why the hell is Patrick having doubts now?

Patrick turns again, this time facing Jonny. He gets the same view of Jonny’s back, not quite fully wrapped in the duvet. Jonny’s hair is getting long, curling at the bottom, and Patrick fucking loves it like that. He follows the line of Jonny’s shoulder until it disappears under the blankets, watches the rise and fall of it as Jonny breathes and blinks slowly. He rests his head on one of his hands and keeps watching, keeps imagining what it would be like to watch Jonny’s face as he sleeps—not in the Edward Cullen hella creepy way, just in the holy shit I’m gonna be married to this dude way. Jesus. They’re getting fucking married. Patrick clenches his eyes shut, breathes through his nose. He hopes it stops blindsiding him at the worst of times.

He sighs, rubs at his eyes with the heels of his hands and tries to sleep.

He wakes a little later, blinking blearily in the dark. He doesn’t know what time it is, but it’s still dark. He realizes a second later that Jonny’s arm is around his waist, fingers splayed against the small of his back. Patrick sucks in a breath and Jonny’s hand twitches. He lets it out slowly. This is fucking weird, but also, well, not. Patrick closes his eyes again, shifts on the bed a little closer to Jonny and falls back asleep quickly.

It’s not until he remembers that this is Jonny’s bed and he’s sleeping with Jonny that he cranks open one eye to see that yeah, it’s Jonny’s body he’s sleeping up against and well, this could be awkward.

Jonny’s still asleep because he sucks at mornings—never not hilarious—and Patrick has time to stop freaking out about how not awkward it is.

He wants to move, knows he should probably get up, but Jonny is still sleeping and it would be a shame to wake him. Besides, how often is Patrick going to get this? He’s about to close his eyes when Jonny grumbles out a, “Get the fuck off me, Kaner.”

Patrick snorts. “You’re the one that’s cuddling me, loser.”

Jonny just moans and lifts his arm, letting Patrick roll away and up. Jonny, true to form, turns over into the spot Patrick’s just vacated and pushes his face into the pillows, groaning.

He’s such a fucking loser in the mornings.

Patrick grins at whatever Jonny incoherently mumbles into the pillows and pulls on his t-shirt, heading for the kitchen and the coffee maker.

He’s used to Jonny being incoherent and dumb until he’s had at least two cups of coffee in the morning, but what he’s not prepared for is the complete and utter delight that is an unfiltered Jonathan Toews.

They don’t usually talk on the road because they have a practised routine of moving around each other until they’re ready to leave. They don’t talk much at all in their room, actually, and Patrick doesn’t know if that’s because they’re usually napping or sleeping, or just because they’re comfortable enough that they don’t need to, unless it’s bitching.

Patrick’s cursing at the new coffee machine and trying to get it to actually work—and why Jonny had to exchange the old reliable one with the most expensive machine with a million buttons is beyond him—but he’s coaxed it into making a noise that Patrick thinks sounds okay. Jonny stumbles out of the bedroom, mumbling to himself, and Patrick catches the tail end of, “—such a fucking mess in here, need to clean this shit up.”

Patrick raises an eyebrow but doesn’t say anything. Jonny’s not one for muttering to himself, usually frowning or seething silently in his own head because he’s too self-sacrificing to actually bitch people out under his breath. If he’s got a problem, he’s more likely to shout it or make it clear with his epic bitch eyes. The mumbling is kind of new.

Jonny looks at him, and besides his epic case of bed hair, he also looks half asleep. Patrick knows he’s come out to the kitchen on an epic quest for coffee, and he shrugs. “Sorry dude, I just got it working.”

Jonny frowns and shoulders him aside. “It’s not that fucking hard,” he says. “You just have to shove the fucking buttons, Pat, it’s not like—what the hell have you done?”

He pokes at the buttons. “Jesus, I cannot even believe you fail at coffee machines, why the fuck do I have to do this.”

Patrick has no fucking clue what is even happening here, but it’s great.

Jonny reaches for some mugs and Patrick watches, grinning, as he glares angrily at the coffee maker, like it’s not moving fast enough for his peace of mind. “I fucking hate mornings.”

“You do, huh?” Patrick can’t help but ask, and he knows he looks like a dick, smiling at Jonny like this, but it’s a fucking gold mine. He should be filming this shit on his phone. Sharpy would love the hell out of this.

“Jesus, Jonny, it’ll be done in a minute.”

“Easy for you to say,” Jonny mutters. “I need fucking coffee. Dealing with your ass so early on the morning is enough to drive anyone insane.”

“Hey!” Patrick says, slightly offended.

Jonny snorts. “I don’t mean it like that, asshole, but if I told you I didn’t really care, you’d never let me live it down.”

There’s a pause—where Jonny considers what he just said and pales, and Patrick grins like a fucking loon.

“I knew it!” Patrick says, punching Jonny in the arm. “You do care about me, asshole.”

Jonny’s face does some weird shifty thing, and then he just looks resigned. “I need fucking coffee.”

Patrick’s grins softens into what’s probably a dumb smile as Jonny finally gets the machine working and starts to pour some coffee. He’s kind of an idiot when he first wakes up, and Patrick rethinks his filming thing. Well. He’s not rethinking that so much as what he’ll do with it after. He’s not sure Sharpy would appreciate this side of Jonny in the same way Pat does. He also isn’t sure he wants Sharpy to see this side of Jonny.

Jonny hands Patrick a mug of coffee once it’s done, smiling tightly. It looks more like a grimace, but Patrick smiles in return, grinning a little.

Jonny frowns after a while. “What?”

“Nothing,” Patrick says, sliding onto one of the stools around the counter.

“No, seriously,” Jonny says, sounding more awake with every sip. “What the hell?”

“Just enjoying you in the morning, Jonny.” He snorts at how that sounds.

Jonny’s lip twitches, but then he just looks frustrated again. “Enjoying my what?”

It’s an open question and Patrick just grins at him. “Well.”

“Fuck you,” Jonny says over him. “Why are you grinning like you’ve just won the fucking cup?”

“Well,” Patrick says, dragging the word out. “You’re kinda awesome in the mornings, Jonny.”

“Oh shit,” Jonny says, closing his eyes and taking a huge gulp of his coffee.

Loving his level of discomfort, Patrick just shrugs. “I mean, it’s nice to know how much you care about me and all.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Jonny mutters, coming to stand next to Patrick’s stool. “I hate you.”

“Lies, Jonny, we both know that.” Patrick throws an arm around his shoulders. “I care about you you too, my darling husband.”

A blush rises on Jonny’s cheeks, but it only seems to piss him off, and he shrugs out of Patrick’s arm. “Whatever. Get dressed, loser. We’re gonna go and train.”

“Ugh,” Patrick groans, choosing to believe Jonny’s little pissy fit is over his lack of being a morning person. “I hate you.”

“No,” Jonny says, finally giving Patrick his smug grin. “You adore me. I’m pretty sure you told my brother.”

“Fuck.” Patrick drops his forehead onto the counter.

“No thanks,” Jonny jokes, because he is a loser.

They do train, because they’ve pretty much put their schedule aside while figuring out what the hell they’re doing with this marriage thing, but that’s no excuse.

Patrick feels ready for it, ready to get in shape for hockey, ready to focus on hockey, even if he knows they still have a wedding to plan and jesus, that sounds so fucking terrible.

“I don’t wanna do it,” he whines, as they’re riding the elevator back up to Jonny’s—their—apartment.

Jonny looks at him. “What?”

“Plan a wedding.”

Looking vaguely horrified by the very prospect, Jonny rests back against the rail, rubbing at his hair. It’s slick with sweat but still looks fucking great, and Patrick’s not okay with how that makes him feel. “Maybe we can get it over with quickly?”

Patrick nods, loving the idea of that. “How?”

Jonny shrugs, but he already has the look on his face that Patrick knows means he’s running a million ideas through his head and disregarding all of them.

“Well,” Patrick says. “You can go to the courthouse, right? I mean people get married there all the time?”

“Uh.” Jonny shrugs, looking at Patrick quizzically. “We could look it up?”

Patrick nods.

As soon as they get back to the apartment, that’s exactly what they do. They shower quickly, Patrick using the one in the guest room, and surreptitiously moving some of his shit into Jonny’s bedroom while Jonny is in the shower.

They settle in the living room, both of them on the couch, Jonny’s laptop set up on the coffee table in the living room, while Patrick scrolls through on his phone. He’s pressed up against Jonny’s side, all too aware of how close they’re sitting, while Jonny clicks through to Google.

“Okay so, courthouses in Illinois?” Patrick frowns down at Safari, and the results he gets back are less than stellar. “Uh, Jonny, we can’t get married in Chicago.”

“Why the hell not?” Jonny snaps, fingers sliding over the mousepad.

“They don’t allow gay marriage, dude.”

Jonny turns to look at him, incredulous. “That’s...something we should have thought of.”

Patrick can tell Jonny’s going to glare intently at the screen of his laptop, inwardly cursing states for not allowing them to get this shit over with quickly.

“This shit doesn’t happen in Canada,” Jonny mutters and then raises his eyebrows.

Hell no, that is not happening. “I’m not getting married in Winterpeg, Jonny, don’t even think about it.”

“There’s nothing wrong with Winnipeg,” Jonny snaps, scowling. He’s googling some shit about Canadian weddings, and Patrick rolls his eyes. “If this shit is easier in Canada, Patrick, we’re doing it.”

Patrick pinches Jonny’s thigh. “You’re not the boss of me.”

“I am, actually, “Jonny says, smugly.

“This is not hockey,” Patrick points out. “Marriage isn’t like hitting a puck into a net.”

If it was, Patrick thinks, they’d be fucking baller at it and they wouldn’t have to resort to Google to look this shit up.

Patrick lifts his arm onto Jonny’s shoulder and rests his chin on his wrist. “Marrying an American citizen can’t be that difficult, right?”

Jonny shrugs carefully. “Dunno.”

He searches it anyway and then squints down at the links, like he can glare them into submission.

“What the hell are we even looking for?” Patrick asks, watching Jonny click through and then back button almost immediately. “You kinda need to take the time to look at the pages, Jonny.”

Jonny elbows him but keeps flicking through links.

An hour later and they’re still at it. Jonny’s flat out glaring at the laptop screen, muttering curses in English and French, a sign he’s close to losing his shit completely. Patrick’s sprawled out on the couch, his head resting against Jonny’s thigh and feet tapping uncoordinated rhythms against the arm.

“Jonny, seriously, this shit is way too complicated to understand.” Patrick rolls his eyes at the angry noise Jonny makes. “I know you wish you could will the answers into existence, but you can’t.”

Jonny mutters something that sounds suspiciously like asshole. Patrick ignores him. “The Land of Hope and Glory is not down with gay marriage, and trying to figure out Canadian shit is as complicated as your love for maple syrup.”

Patrick tips his head back against Jonny’s leg and looks up to see Jonny staring down at him, eyebrow raised and one of his infamous dealing with Patrick Kane expressions on his face. “I have a big fucking house in New York where we can like, get married and hide and it’s listed as one of the states that accepts gay marriage. Can’t we just do it there?”

Jonny just keeps staring down at him. “My love for maple syrup isn’t complicated.”

Patrick opens his mouth and then closes it, scowling. “You’re such a dick.”

Smiling smugly, like he’s some comic genius, the loser, Jonny shoves at Patrick’s body.

“Get up. We need to sort this shit out.”

“So?” Patrick prompts. “How about it?”

Jonny looks long-suffering. “I’m lodging a complaint that I have to endure a U.S. marriage.”

“You’ll endure something if you don’t nut up and just accept that I am clearly a master at deciding what to do.”

Jonny looks even more skeptical, but at least he nods. “Fine. We’ll do it in Buffalo.”

---

Jonny capitulates because it’s the easiest thing to do. It would be nice to get married in Canada, but figuring out the logistics is time-consuming, and if Jonny has to stare at one more site explaining the issues with Canadians marrying U.S citizens, he’s going to throw his laptop out of the window. Patrick looks much happier now they’re not researching how they go about getting married. Instead, he’s looking up courthouses in Buffalo, and talking a mile a minute about how badass their bachelor parties are going to be (they’re not having any), how much his mom is gonna cry when she finds out (Jonny doesn’t like to think) and how badass they’re going to look in their suits (hopefully Patrick will find one that actually fits).

Jonny tunes most of it out, picks up the bottles and moves from the floor to the coffee table. He’s comfortable; Patrick’s shifted on the couch again, his feet up against the back, and head dangling over the edge. He’s scrolling through his phone and Jonny really hopes he gets a head rush. It would serve the idiot right for not being able to sit properly. He’s grinning to himself when Patrick kicks his shoulder.

“We need witnesses.”

Jonny scowls at the offending ankle in his face. “Asshole.” Then he registers what Patrick’s actually saying. “Oh.”

That’s—“We’re not asking our moms, right?”

Jonny frowns. His mom will absolutely kill him if he tries to get married without informing her of where and when it will be, but he would much rather suffer her wrath than have to watch the look of glee on her face as she completely destroys his life with a ridiculous wedding.

“I’ll call David,” he says, instead. He knows that his brother can keep his mouth shut. “I want to get this out of the way.”

Jonny only sees the flash of hurt on Patrick’s face because he’s looking at him. It gets shut down pretty fast and Patrick grins up at him.

“I’ll ask Erica. She’s the most reliable.”

Jonny just nods.

Patrick focuses back on his phone, but Jonny nudges his shoulder.

“I hate shit like this,” he says, slowly.

“Uh, yeah, I know.” Patrick looks confused, like he’s not sure why Jonny’s saying this. Jonny doesn’t really know, except that what he said hurt Patrick for whatever reason.

“I just—it’s not because I don’t want, you know. To. With you.”

Patrick blinks. “Uh. Okay?”

“Marriage,” Jonny says.

“Oh.” Patrick’s cheeks fucking dimple as he smiles and jesus, it’s like that time Sharpy had slung an arm around Jonny’s shoulders and said, with glee in his voice, “That fucking smile is gonna make someone real happy one day, Toe-ez.”

It’s a stupid smile, fucking annoying the way Patrick uses it to get his way so often, but Jonny’s kind of struck by it now and he doesn’t know why. He hopes this isn’t going to keep happening. He and Patrick are best friends—he’s doing this to help Patrick stay in Chicago to play hockey.

He scowls down at his laptop as he shuts it. Patrick finally says, “Awesome,” under his breath, quiet, like he’s hoping Jonny won’t hear that he finds Jonny wanting to marry him cool.

The scowl gives way to a smile but whatever, Jonny can smile as long as Patrick doesn’t think it’s for him or whatever.

Patrick disappears into the main bedroom to call Erica. Jonny’s kind of glad; he doesn’t think he can take another group call. He grabs his own from the coffee table and dials David’s number.

“Hey Jon,” David says after the third ring. “Change your mind yet?”

Jonny knows it’s a joke, David uses a dumb voice when he thinks he’s being funny, but he still feels a flash of defensiveness on Patrick’s behalf. “Fuck you.”

“Easy,” David laughs. “I was kidding. What’s up?”

This is so fucking dumb. Jonny should have the balls to ask his brother to be a witness. “You can’t tell mom about this.”

David snorts. “Woah, I’m not agreeing to that until I know what you’re asking for.”

“I need you to be a witness.” Jonny says it quickly, hoping it will stop being so awkward if he does.

There’s a long silence on the other end of the phone. “I’m definitely not telling mom about this, bro. No way am I letting her know that her beloved eldest child is getting married without her knowledge.”

Jonny sighs. Younger brothers are such a pain in the ass. “So you’ll do it?”

“I guess.”

“Thanks a lot,” Jonny snaps.

“Chill, Jon. As long as you’re sure this is the way you want to do it,” David reassures him.

“You’ll need to come to Buffalo,” Jonny says, not bothering to answer. He doesn’t do things he isn’t sure he wants to do. Most of the time.

“Cool. Text me a date and a time or whatever and I’ll be there.” David pauses. “Congratulations, you know?”

“Yeah,” Jonny says. “Later.”

It’s easier than he thought it would be but god, this whole thing just needs to be done. Jonny wants to go back to focusing on hockey, something that actually makes sense, and keeping Patrick from being a dumbass for the entire summer.

“So,” Patrick says, walking back into the living room. “I think I just told Erica I’d give her like, my first born child, but she’s doing it.”

Jonny snorts. “Why would she want anything that springs from your—“

“Don’t say it,” Patrick says, hurriedly. “My children will be fucking awesome, don’t front.”

“If by awesome you mean awful, sure.”

“Don’t diss my future offspring, Toews.” Patrick shoves his phone at Jonny. He has the site up with details about an Erie County license. “This is the shit we need to take with us.”

Jonny scrolls through the list. It’s fairly simple and, although they’re not allowed to get married for another 24 hours after the license is issued, Jonny isn’t worried. They can get the license, spend the next day at Patrick’s Buffalo house and then get married. The quicker it’s done, the better. “I’ll call and set up a date,” Jonny says. “We should be able to get this out of the way as quickly as possible.”

“Cool.” Patrick turns on the TV and puts it on ESPN. There’s a ball game on, but Jonny doesn’t care who’s playing. It’s background noise as he calls through to get their license sorted.

He contemplates name-dropping when the clerk on the phone takes forever to come up with a date that’s workable. He wonders how long he and Patrick can possibly get away with keeping this marriage a secret—especially if they’re getting married in Erie County, where the Kane surname is going to stand out.

He gets a date that’s workable for everyone, including what he hopes is good for Erica and David, and then hangs up, rubbing the back of his head. “How long can we keep this a secret?”

Patrick looks away from the game. “What?”

“Getting married in Buffalo isn’t going to make us anonymous, Pat.”

Patrick chews his bottom lip, shrugging. “Maybe we can like, pay off people?”

Jonny snorts. “Everyone we come into contact with between now and whenever we decide to reveal it? I don’t want the world to know we’re getting married.”

“Well don’t look at me like I have a solution, Jonny. Jesus, this whole thing is fucking crap.”

Jonny shakes his head.

“I don’t think,” Patrick says slowly. “That we can prevent it if it does happen. You can’t control every aspect of this.”

Jonny doesn’t want to hear that, doesn’t want to know that his private life could be sold like it’s just another interesting story. It’s happened before, he’s not stupid, but this is a marriage—and something that could fuck shit up if they’re not ready for it.

He doesn’t say anything, lets Patrick just nudge him. “We can always—“

“I just want this done,” Jonny says, running a hand over his face. “This is shit.”

Patrick hums his agreement, but neither of them seem to have a solution for this. Jonny scowls. He knows he can’t control this situation in the ways that he wants to, and it frustrates him.

Patrick rubs the back of his head. “We have the statement with Brisson. If people talk about it, we can just release that, Jonny, this doesn’t have to be the world ending shit you’re making it out to be.”

“I’m sorry,” Jonny snaps, “If I’m being too melodramatic for you, Kaner.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick says. “I’m just saying.”

Although Jonny’s reluctant to admit it, Patrick does have a point. They have a plan, even if it’s not one that he really wants to entertain. It doesn’t feel like enough.

Patrick sighs. “We could just do it our way?”

Jonny’s head snaps up. “What?”

"Reveal this on our own terms.”

No. “No.” Jonny shakes his head. “I’m not doing that.”

Patrick searches his face, frowning. Jonny’s not afraid of what he will find. “Then what the hell do you want us to do?”

That’s the thing right there; Jonny doesn’t know. Neither of those options are good ones, but the lesser of the two evils, the statement, is the one he goes with because it will do until he can come up with something better. He will come up with something better. “We’ll stick to the statement.”

---

When they go to bed that night, Jonny immediately spoons up behind Patrick. He doesn’t know why he does it, it’s just easier then having Patrick flail around everywhere, almost punching him in the face as he turns over. To his surprise, Patrick doesn’t complain too much, just bitches that Jonny’s going to make it even hotter, that he’s probably going to suffocate, but he doesn’t make any move to pull away.

Patrick’s still dead to the world when Jonny wakes up, face mashed into Jonny’s arm, and leg thrown over Jonny’s. He looks uncomfortable, body twisted at an awkward angle, but his face looks as dumb and peaceful as it does after they come off ice after a win, so it can’t be that bad. Jonny feels like that creepy vampire dude Patrick was talking about from those books, but he can’t help it; he doesn’t know why Patrick isn’t putting up more of a fight about this.

Jonny’s been there when he’s bitched about having to share a bed with people, wanting to kick them out after he sleeps with them because he can’t stand having to deal with someone else next to him. He accepted this so easily, and it’s confusing.

Shaking his head because he really doesn’t want to deal with this right now, he untangles himself from Patrick and gets out of bed. He should probably text David the date he has to be in Buffalo and start breakfast. He can mock Jonny all he likes for not being a morning person, but unless there’s something edible within reaching distance when Patrick wakes up, he bitches like a motherfucker.

Jonny sits at the breakfast bar, texting David the details and then checking his email. He’s just reading some dumb email from Sharpy which probably isn’t worth his time (they’re usually just spam emails that Sharpy takes way too seriously) when Patrick comes into the kitchen. He’s bleary-eyed and his sweatpants are low on his hips. There’s a patch of skin that’s too fucking distracting, and Jonny forces himself to stop looking. What the hell is wrong with him? This is Patrick. Kaner. Patrick blinks, self-consciously tugging at his pants when he realises where Jonny’s looking.

“I texted David,” Jonny says, trying to cover the awkwardness. “You should text Erica.”

Patrick nods. Jonny pushes a mug of coffee across the table and Patrick smiles at him, surprised. He slides onto the stool next to Jonny and nudges him with his shoulder. “Thanks, dude.”

Jonny waits, but Patrick doesn’t move, just keeps pressing up against Jonny’s body and drinks his coffee. Fine. If he’s not going to talk about this, then neither is Jonny. They eat their breakfast in silence, Patrick typing on one one hand as he does so.

“So we should—” Patrick cuts himself off as his phone vibrates. He goes pale. “Um.”

“What?” Jonny says, tensing. That expression has never meant anything good.

“My mom.” Patrick turns to look at him, eyes wide. “She knows.”

Jonny choses on his eggs. “The fuck, Patrick?”

Patrick mumbles something about big-mouthed sisters, but Jonny is not okay with this. This is not what was supposed to happen, and he kind of wants to throw Patrick out of a window. He stares down at his plate of eggs, watching Patrick drop his head to the counter out of the corner of his eye.

“Sorry.” Patrick turns his face, cheek against the counter. He’s looking up at Jonny through wide eyes. “What do we do?”

Jonny snarls. “Why the fuck would I know? It’s your big mouth.”

“Hey!” Patrick sits up, glaring. He opens his mouth to say something else but Jonny doesn’t want to hear it. He stands and walks out of the kitchen.

It’s a little while before Patrick makes his way into the bedroom. He hovers in the doorway, looking mulish, and that’s just great. Jonny wants peace and quiet and Patrick won’t leave him alone. This living together situation is definitely going to need to be bullied into something close to workable if they’re going to manage it without killing each other.

“First, my sister spilled this shit, Jonny, not me.” He looks angry as well as mulish. “Second, we gotta stop talking in your kitchen, dude, I think it wants us to fight all the time.”

Jonny snorts because Patrick’s such a fucking idiot. Not that he doesn’t have a point. He thinks about the fact that Patrick’s mom knows that they’re trying to get this marriage out of the way. “Jesus fucking Christ, Patrick.”

Patrick sighs. “I could call her?”

Jonny’s about to open his mouth to tell him that’s a great fucking idea, when his own phone rings. His mom’s picture flashes up on the screen, and that’s just great. “Shit.”

When he answers, he does so reluctantly. “Maman.”

She starts speaking immediately, voice rising as she does so. It’s a steady stream of angry French and from the look on Patrick’s face, he can hear her even without speakerphone.

I raised you better than this, Jonathan Bryan Toews. What would possess you to marry in secret when you know that your family will want to be there? I have never been more disappointed in you.

Ma—

Worse, you asked David to cover for you! Oh, don’t think I don’t know about that, young man! It’s a good thing Patrick’s sister told Donna, otherwise we would both have been absent from your wedding, and how do you think that would have made me feel?

Jonny wants to hang up. He hates it when she does this, now he feels guilty and he just wanted this to go away and be over with. “This wasn’t about—

I’m so angry with you right now. You’re going to apologise to your brother, and put Patrick on the phone.”

Jonny pauses. “Pardon?”

“Now.”

Glaring, Jonny holds out his phone for Patrick, who stares down at it like it’s on fire. “She wants me?”

“Obviously,” Jonny snaps.

Patrick takes it. “Hello?”

There’s a pause while Patrick listens. His mother has quieted down, so Jonny can’t hear what she’s saying, and has to settle for the only half of the conversation he has. “Well, we were—no, Andree, we just—yes ma’am, I do—I know it’s not, I just—” Patrick pauses, sends Jonny a pleading look. It would be funny under any other circumstances. “Of course I want you to be happy—well my mom—yes. Okay, fine, yes.” He shakes his head. “I mean of course you can, I just—Jonny?” Patrick’s eyes flick up to Jonny. “Well, we were just going to wing it.”

This time Jonny can hear his mother’s angry, “You are not ‘winging’ this marriage, Patrick Kane!”

Patrick swallows. “I didn’t think—I know my mom says that too but—yes, Andree, I’m sorry. Okay, bye.” He hangs up and stares down at the phone in shock. “Wow.”

Jonny just nods. Yeah, he knows.

“Your mom is awesome.”

That’s not exactly where Jonny thought this was going, but he’ll take it. “Of course she is. What did she say?”

“She’s calling my mom. Again. She says they want to plan it.”

Jonny feels his heart sink. “Fuck.”

This is not something he’s comfortable with at all. This was what he had been hoping to avoid by asking David and Erica. This is going to be such a huge fucking thing and he doesn’t want it.

“It might not be that bad?” Patrick says, hopefully.

Jonny just stares at him incredulously. “I’m so mad at you.”

Patrick raises his eyebrows. “Like, not winning a game levels of mad, or drinking and passing out in Madison levels of mad?”

“Don’t fucking joke about that,” Jonny snaps. “That’s what got us into this mess.”

Patrick shrugs. He looks down at his feet and makes a face. “If I don’t joke about it, Jonny, I—”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, uncomfortable. He doesn’t want to hear what Patrick has to say. He feels mad about this situation, he doesn’t want to think about the reasons they’re having to do this. Not right now.

There’s a long, awkward silence that Patrick breaks by reaching for his hoodie. “I’m gonna—I’m gonna go back to my apartment and pack up my shit.” He looks at Jonny. “I’ll call my mom while I’m there.”

Jonny wants to ask if he wants help, but he thinks maybe it’s best if he doesn’t. They’ve been on top of each other for a couple of weeks and it’s getting hard. “Yeah?”

Patrick nods. “I’ll be back tonight.”

“Sure.”

Patrick looks a little put out, but Jonny doesn’t ask. He might not want space like Jonny does, but they’re suffocating each other and Jonny feels like something’s going to break if they don’t get away for a few days. He doesn’t want it to break.

---

Walking into his apartment for the first time in days, Patrick takes a moment to stand in the hall and look around. He’s not sorry to be leaving this place behind, but his freedom, something he’s kind of taken for granted over the past few years, isn’t exactly going, except for how he’s going to be married now. Jesus. He’s not ashamed to hyperventilate for a while in the kitchen before he actually starts picking up shit that he wants to take with him.

He’s sitting in the middle of the living room surrounded by piles of stuff, when he remembers to call his mother. She’s angry, of course, but thankfully, not as angry as she was when he’d come home from Madison.

“I shouldn’t have had to find this out from Erica, Patrick.”

Patrick toes at a pile of DVDs. “I know, mom. We just wanted it to be over.”

His mother doesn’t say anything for a moment. “Don’t we deserve to share in this occasion with you?”

“Yes,” Patrick says reluctantly. “Seriously, there was nothing bad mom, it’s not like either of us want to—”

He trails off. He can’t tell his mom that they don’t want to think about it; if this was a real wedding, they’d be excited, wouldn’t they? Well, with Jonny it’s doubtful. He’s Patrick’s best friend and they know each other as well as they’re going to by now, and Patrick knows Jonny prefers low-key events. A wedding borne from their mothers’ combined might is not something that Jonny is going to enjoy. “We just wanted to be married already.”

He doesn’t think his mom buys it, but she says, “We’ll be discussing this more in person.”

Patrick winces. “Fine. Can you put Erica on the phone?”

Thankfully, his mom doesn’t question it and a second later, Erica is saying, “I’m so sorry Patty. I didn’t even think.”

“It’s fine.” Patrick’s no saint; he’s not happy, and a blind person could see how mad Jonny was, but he’s not about to blame Erica for it. “Just—I need you to keep mom from going too insane with this.”

“Why?”

“Jonny,” Patrick says, automatically. If someone like Jonny, who almost loses his shit confessing that he feels bad about a loss in hockey, is subjected to a wedding of too grand proportions, well. Patrick doesn’t even want to know. He explains this to Erica and snorts. “I fear for my own safety. He’ll stab me with a dessert spoon or something.”

Erica laughs. He is also under no illusions that she sees right through him. “You’re just as terrible admitting to stuff, Pat. Like the fact that you want him to be happy.”

She is totally wrong about that. That’s not it at all. Except. Maybe a little bit. “Can you?”

“Sure,” Erica agrees, and he can see the smug smile on her face. Whatever. She doesn’t know anything.

Patrick hangs up and texts Jonny. He doesn’t want to have to move this shit by himself, and a few days of space is not what he wants at all.

come and help me move boxes, asshole

need someone with actual upper body strength?

fuck you. i could bench press an elephant.

You misspelled mouse.

Patrick snorts. you coming?

He kind of hopes Jonny says yes. He gets why Jonny didn’t offer to come, even if it was a little bit dickish. Whatever, Patrick is big enough to get over it.

Jonny texts back, Ten Minutes. and Patrick grins.

---

When Patrick opens the door, Jonny stares past him into the apartment. “This is all you want to take?”

Patrick’s piled some stuff up by the door, and he looks at it. “Uh, yes? You have shit already, dude, it’s not like you need my cheap-ass plates.”

Jonny frowns, but whatever, Patrick’s lived with Jonny over the past few weeks, and he’s only packed the things he’d wished he’d had. And some shit from the kitchen that Jonny’s always needed to purchase but was too lazy to go out and get. It’s kind of dumb to clutter up Jonny’s apartment with his stuff when it’s not needed.

Obviously, Patrick’s word isn’t enough, and Jonny pokes around in the kitchen. When he starts picking stuff up and throwing it in boxes, Patrick sighs. Even more so, when Jonny’s face turns to one of disapproval at the state of Patrick’s packing.

“It’s our apartment now, asshole,” Jonny says, continuing the conversation he’d ignored in favour of being a complete and utter headcase. (He’s taking Patrick’s emergency tealights, like he doesn’t have enough to start a small bonfire in his own kitchen). Patrick’s broken out of his thoughts as a dishtowel hits him in the face. “If it doesn’t have any of your ridiculous shit in it, how will people realize it belongs to us as opposed to just me?”

“I’m not the one with my jerseys on the wall, you self-absorbed jerk.” Patrick’s reply is amiable. He shoves the dishtowel in a box, prepared to defend his “ridiculous shit” to the end. “Canadians.”

“Says the guy with all his memorabilia filling his bedroom in Buffalo.” Jonny smirks. “I saw that video, Kaner.”

Whatever. Jonny doesn’t know anything. “My stuff is not ridiculous, is the point. My stuff is awesome.”

Jonny looks skeptically in the direction of the living room and sure, Patrick’s made some interior design mistakes, but Jonny has absolutely no legs to stand on. Well, not metaphorical legs. Patrick knows for a fact that Andree came down from Winnipeg to give Jonny design tips—and people call Patrick a mama’s boy. Although Andree is just as badass as his own mom, so.

---

They decide to shove Patrick’s stuff in the guest room for now, because sorting it out is not something they want to do after packing it all. They collapse onto the couch, Patrick sitting sideways, feet tucked under Jonny’s thigh as he answers Jessica and Jackie’s increasingly excited texts. He feels it a little; the excitement just under his skin. There’s nerves and a little apprehension too. And so much fucking guilt. Lying to his family is so not what he wants to be doing. When he looks at the side of Jonny’s face, the tense lines of his body, he doesn’t think he’s the only one feeling it.

“You wanna do this, right?”

Jonny sighs. “I’m not reassuring your sorry ass every time you get second thoughts, Kaner.”

“No,” Patrick says, frustrated. “That’s not what I’m saying, asshole.”

Turning to look at him, Jonny’s expression doesn’t change. Sometimes he’s too hard to read, and Patrick hates that even after five years, he still can’t figure him out. “What are you saying?”

He sounds like he doesn’t want to know, but fuck it, if he’s going to ask, then he’s going to have to deal with the answer. “Tied to me forever.”

“There’s always divorce,” Jonny says with a smirk.

Patrick drops his head. He snorts and thumbs through his phone. He feels Jonny’s fingers curl around his ankle and squeeze.

“Look at me.”

Patrick doesn’t. He keeps reading Jackie’s text until Jonny’s grip actually hurts, and Patrick lifts his head, glaring. “What?”

“It was a joke,” Jonny says.

Patrick gets that, okay, he’s not dumb. “Whatever. I guess you’re right though, huh? We can always get divorced.”

Jonny shrugs. “Pretty sure that voids the contract.”

Patrick rolls his eyes. Of course. The contract. “Oh, okay.”

He still doesn’t look happy, but Jonny lets go of his ankle and sits back. Great, Patrick’s made things awkward again. He’s just the king of dumb situations.

“Hey,” Jonny says. “I wouldn’t be doing this shit if I didn’t think it was worth it.”

Patrick grins. “Yeah?”

Jonny rolls his eyes. “I’m not pampering your ridiculous ego again, asshole. Shut up and watch.”

---

They’re halfway through a wildlife show which Patrick is pretending to hate, but he’s totally tearing up at the heartbreaking parts. Jonny’s been wanting to laugh at him for a while, but every time he thinks it would be a good idea, Patrick leans heavily against him and sniffles, and Jonny has to pause and remember just why he wants to laugh.

Patrick’s phone starts ringing, singing about how someone is a superwoman, and Jonny stiffens because that’s Donna’s ringtone. He lifts his hips from the couch and pulls his phone from his back pocket, staring down at it for a while before reluctantly answering. “Hi, mom.”

Jonny nudges Patrick, but before he can get anything in return, his own phone starts ringing, a generic ring tone, because he’s not a douche that programs different tones for different people. Of course, that means Jonny doesn’t know it’s his own mother until he looks down and sees her picture and ID on the screen. The fact that their moms are calling in tandem can mean nothing good.

“Maman.”

Patrick looks at him with a raised eyebrow, muttering something under his breath. Out loud he says, “Why don’t we just put everyone on a conference call?”

It’s not a bad suggestion, and Jonny cuts across whatever his mom his saying. “Maman, I’m putting you on speaker.”

Patrick’s saying the same thing to Donna, and they put their phones on the table.

“Boys!” Donna says. “I think we’ve both yelled at you enough for not telling us, so we’re just going to talk to you about what you want from this wedding.”

“It over?” Patrick says, nudging Jonny, with a wry smile. Jonny snorts.

“Patrick,” Donna warns. “Take this seriously. It’s important.”

“Mom—“

“It’s okay, Donna.” Jonny stumbles over her name, god, still not used to calling her by her first name. “We don’t want anything crazy.”

“It won’t be crazy,” Donna assures him gently. “However this works, there are some things that you’re going to need.”

“Jonny’s made lists,” Patrick says, catching Jonny’s eyes and waggling his eyebrows.

Jonny has made lists, but Patrick needs to keep his mouth shut.

“Oh has he?” He can hear the laughter in her voice, god. This is the worst. Fucking Patrick.

“I’m prepared,” Jonny says quickly. “Left to Patrick, nothing would get done.”

“Whatever,” Patrick says, waving his hand.

“Boys,” Andree says, finally, and Jonny feels kinda rude that he’s not acknowledged his mother yet. “How long do we have?”

Jonny and Patrick exchange looks because yeah, they’re not going to take this part of the news well at all.

“Two weeks?” Patrick says, posing it like a question.

“What?!” Donna sucks in a breath, presumably to start saying something they won’t want to hear.

Jonny’s really, really thankful for his mother in that moment, because she says, calmly and firmly, “Okay. We’ll handle it.”

Donna hums an affirmation and then asks, “Why only two?”

There’s an awkward pause where Jonny and Patrick don’t want to say anything, not sure how to explain quite why they’re having to do it this way.

Jonathan,” his mom says, switching to French. “Is this related to Patrick’s trade? And you saying that you would fix it?

It’s not really a question. Jonny doesn’t know how to answer, doesn’t know what she’s looking for. Patrick’s frowning; he always looks uncomfortable and put-out whenever Jonny speaks French and he can’t understand. “Um.

Um is not an answer, young man,” His mom says.

“What’s going on?” Patrick asks, before Jonny can say anything.

Ignoring him, his mom is on a roll, not even letting him gather his thoughts before she’s pressing again. “Tell me, Jonathan, that this trade has only affected timing. Tell me this is what you want.

Shit. This is Jonny’s mom. He looks up at Patrick, knows the expression that must be on his face because Patrick looks concerned, angry and confused all at once. Jonny doesn’t know what to say. He can’t lie to his mom, tell her it’s fine, that this is what they’ve always wanted. This is—Jonny doesn’t know what it is, but Patrick’s staying if they do this, if they get married and make it believable.

Patrick’s dropped his gaze to his phone, his mom’s picture gazing back at him and yeah, Jonny isn’t the only one lying to his mother. He isn’t the only one suffering and if Patrick can do this, Jonny can do no less.

Oui maman.” He nods, as if to affirm, even if she can’t see. “I swear.”

He doesn’t need to hear his mom say she believes him, but it would be nice.

Good.”

“So?” Donna says, when they’ve finished. Jonny jumps; he’d forgotten she was even there for a moment.

“The trade,” he says, quickly.

Patrick rolls his eyes. “He means,” he says, like Jonny’s failing at explaining which, fuck him anyway. “That we have to get married if I want to stay in Chicago.”

Donna curses but she covers it quickly. “Okay. That’s—okay.”

There’s another awkward silence. Jonny’s getting a little bit tired of them, but he understands. This isn’t a situation any of them thought they would be in.

“That still doesn’t get you off the hook,” His mom says. “There are still things we need from you.”

“Like what?” Patrick asks. He’s leaning heavily against Jonny—and when did that happen?—and his hand is curled around Jonny’s knee. “We’re pretty much ready to go with this, so—“

“Your vows.” Donna’s tone indicates that she doesn’t believe for one second they’re done with them.

“Vows,” Jonny says weakly.

“Vows?” Patrick repeats, face falling a little. “Can’t we just go with the traditional ones?”

Jonny’s mom laughs. “Neither of you are suited to a traditional wedding. Don’t you have anything personal you want to say to each other?”

There is absolutely nothing in the world Jonny wants less than that. “No. We’re good.”

Patrick nods. “So, so good. I’ll just ‘I do’ it.”

“’I do”’ it?” Jonny frowns. “You’re not going to just ‘I do’ anything.”

Patrick opens his mouth to reply. “Dude, you’re not my mom.”

“No,” Donna cuts in. “But I , Patrick. You boys have the opportunity to say whatever you want.” There’s a pause.

“On second thought,” Jonny’s mom says. “Are we sure we want to let them do this?”

Jonny’s staring at Patrick, still, caught up on the whole “I do” thing. Patrick’s looking back, confused.

“What’s wrong with “I do”? Most people say it, Jonny.”

“We’re not most people,” Jonny presses. “I bet you’re just scared to confess how you really feel about me.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick snaps. His fingers flex into fists and Jonny’s momentarily startled but Patrick lifts his chin eyebrows raised. “My vows are going to be so fucking badass you’ll cry.”

“Doubtful,” Jonny says skeptically. “Mine, however.”

Patrick punches his leg. “Fine. Write vows to wow me, asshole, and we’ll see just who writes the best ones.”

Jonny’s mom is laughing at him, and Donna is no better. Their moms are terrible people.

“Mom,” Patrick says. “What else can we possibly need to do?”

“I think,” Donna says, through her laughter, “that your vows will preoccupy you for a while. Why don’t you work on those, and if we need any more input, we’ll ask?”

“Actually,” Jonny’s mom interjects, “you’ll need to decide you who want to invite.”

“Families.” Patrick shrugs and looks at Jonny. “Right?”

Jonny nods. That’s all they need, right?

“You don’t want anyone from the team?”

Jonny isn’t quite sure which of their moms said that, because he’s suddenly having a moment of panic. Shit. Why hasn’t he thought of that? The team are going to find out, are going to know, and oh—

He looks up to see a similar look of panic on Patrick’s face.

“Oh god,” Patrick says. His fingers are painfully tight on Jonny’s knee.

Donna must sense that something’s up because she just says, “Get back to us, okay? We’ll call you later.”

Patrick fumbles with the phone, taking his mom off speakerphone. Jonny does the same with his own and says, “Thank you, maman.”

Leave it with us, sweetheart,” his mom says. “It will be okay.”

Jonny laughs, and it sounds horrible to his own ears. “Sure. Bye, maman.

Bye, cheri.”

Jonny drops his phone onto the couch. He doesn’t want to think about how they’re going to explain this to anyone on the team. It should have been something he’d thought of, something he’d had a plan for.

“Jonny,” Patrick says, still staring down at the phone in his hands. “Relax, dude. It’s not like Sharpie’s gonna judge us or anything.”

Jonny’s really fucking glad he picked Sharpie. Not so pleased that Patrick’s asking it like a question, as if he has the answers. Sometimes the pressure from holding Patrick’s fucking hand his entire life is really shit. Not that that’s a fair thing to think; Patrick didn’t ask for this. Well. If he hadn’t gone drinking they wouldn’t—

Jonny forces himself to stop thinking about it. They’re here, it’s happening, and no amount of getting angry about it will change what’s happening. He’ll be angry about it when he’s on his own, when he doesn’t have any of this shit to worry about.

“I mean,” Patrick continues, when Jonny doesn’t answer. “Sharpy's Sharpy. And Duncs and Seabs probably wouldn’t—“

“I don’t fucking know,” Jonny says, sinking back into the couch. “How the fuck would I know?”

Patrick looks back over his shoulder at him, scowling. “What crawled up your ass and died?”

“Nothing,” Jonny says. He doesn’t want to deal with this right now. He runs a hand over his eyes. Sharpy. They can probably tell Sharpy. If he doesn’t accept it, then it’s a pretty fair bet that none of the other guys will.

It’s a testament to the fact that neither of them know how to even approach Sharpy, that they go to bed that night without doing anything about it. They don’t lie close this time, almost as far away from each other as it’s possible to be.

Jonny stares at the opposite wall, trying not to think about the team and their reactions, and failing. What the fuck is he supposed to do if they don’t like it? He’s the captain, and he’s supposed to be able to handle this shit.

He stares at the wall for what seems like hours. Cursing under his breath, he shifts on the bed, turning to see Patrick dead to the world. He’s turned himself, facing Jonny, hand on the pillows between them, and Jonny feels a little pang about that. He watches Patrick sleep, again feeling a little creepy but whatever, and wondering what the hell he’s supposed to do. He and Sharpy have a good relationship, but he knows that Kaner and Sharpy are close, with Sharpy acting like the older brother Kaner never had. (He’s the same for Tazer, but seriously, Jonny doesn’t want an older brother.)

He turns, grabs his phone and turns it back on. It’s like, 2 AM but if he texts Sharpy to call them back whenever he can tomorrow, maybe he’ll be able to sleep.

Kaner and I need to talk to you tomorrow. Call us when you’re free.

It sounds ominous, he knows, but whatever. Sharpy’s had similar texts before. If he’s on his guard before he calls, better for him.

Jonny shoves his phone under his pillow when he’s done, and casts one more look over Patrick before closing his eyes.

---

Patrick wakes to the sound of his phone blaring Chelsea Dagger. He can hear Jonny’s groan in his ear—god, they’re cuddling again—but Patrick tugs a little out of his grip to grab for his phone.

“Hello?”

“Peeks!” Sharpy sounds disgustingly awake.

Patrick is getting there quickly, as soon as his brain registers that it’s Sharpy. “Fuck.”

He elbows Jonny, who curses. “The fuck?”

Sharpy is laughing. “Did I wake you, Kaner?”

“Fuck you,” Patrick groans, as Jonny says, “Who the fuck is it?”

Sharpy snorts. “Did you guys fall asleep together on the couch again?”

Patrick feels his heart in his throat. “Uh, yes?”

“Well,” Sharpy says. “I haven’t got all day, Peeks. Jonny says you wanna talk?”

“He does?” Patrick turns to look at Jonny who’s frowning at him. “Sharpy says you want us to talk to him?”

Jonny doesn’t look unrepentant which, yeah, is kinda normal, but Patrick’s still angry. Thanks for consulting, Jonny. He puts the phone on the pillow between them and puts Sharpy on speakerphone.

“You’re on speaker, dude,” Patrick says, glaring at Jonny. He’s the one that wanted to do this without asking Patrick, he’s the one that can say it.

Jonny glares back.

Patrick is going to punch him in the face. “We’re getting married.”

There’s a long, tense silence and then Sharpy starts laughing.

What. The fuck. “Sharpy.”

“Guys, what the hell? You two have made up and now you’re—“

“We’re serious,” Jonny says.

This time the silence is worse. “Guys—“

Patrick closes his eyes. Dammit. “We thought you should know.”

Sharpy sounds stunned. “How long have—“

“Since we were rookies,” Patrick says, before Jonny can say anything. “On and off. More serious after the cup.”

Jonny nods like he’s said the right thing, but Patrick ignores him.

“Shit.” Sharpy laughs again, this time a little surprised. “Congrats, I guess? Shit guys, this is kinda out the blue, you know?”

“Yeah, we get it,” Patrick says. “But you’re not like, mad, right?”

He holds his breath, ignoring the look on Jonny’s face, judgemental as shit. Fuck him anyway. He can pretend he’s not worried about it, but he totally is.

“Jesus, Kaner, you think I would be?”

“It’s not something you expect to hear from your teammates,” Jonny interrupts.

Sharpy snorts. “This is you and Kaner, Toe-ez. Nothing about you guys has ever been normal.”

“Thanks,” Jonny says, dryly.

Patrick is kinda relieved. Not that he’d ever admit it, but Sharpy’s opinion kinda counts. He’s a tool sometimes but whatever, he’s awesome most of the time.

“So,” Sharpy says, after another silence. “When’s the wedding?”

“Two weeks,” Patrick says

He grins when Sharpy lets out a curse, and even Jonny’s lip twitches into a small smile. “Christ, guys. Shotgun?”

“Fuck you,” Patrick laughs.

Sharpy’s laughing like an asshole. “I dunno, Peeks. It would just be like Toes to knock you up and have to marry you.”

Patrick winces because shit, turn it around and that’s almost as bad as what actually happened.

Jonny covers up Patrick’s silence with a dry, “Our mothers would kill me if I ever allowed that,”

“Speaking of,” Sharpy says. “If you guys have given your moms two weeks to plan, you’re in so much fucking shit.”

“Ha ha.” Patrick rolls his eyes. “Fuck you, Sharpy.”

Jonny starts to sit up and Patrick deliberately doesn’t look, even if he wants to laugh at Jonny’s hair. Seriously, his bed hair is always so great. “You should come.”

Sharpy says, “Yeah?”

“Fuck yeah,” Patrick says, finally giving in to the grin. “You can see my epic house in Buffalo. But you have to bring Abby and Maddy.”

“I’m not leaving them behind.” Sharpy’s using his “Kaner is dumb” tone, fucker, but Patrick takes it in good grace, grins so hard he feels like his face is going to break in half.

“This is going to be fucking awesome.”

Jonny’s watching his face carefully, and Patrick doesn’t know what that’s about, but he ignores it. “We’ll text you details.”

“Sure,” Sharpy says. Then, gentler, “Anyone else know?”

Patrick swallows. “We weren’t—“

“We wanted to tell you first,” Jonny says quickly. He looks like he wants to ask something else, and Patrick knows exactly what it is. Not that he will ask, because as the captain, he thinks that he’s not allowed to ask any dumb questions. Patrick knows better; sometimes Jonny needs help and needs to fucking take it.

“You think the guys will mind?”

Jonny’s scowl disappears reluctantly when Sharpy sighs.

“That’s not something I can answer. Duncs and Seabs, well, those guys are just as fucking weird and co-dependent as you, so they’ll probably get it. The others—you’ll just have to ask.”

Patrick and Jonny exchange looks. Exactly what they were afraid of and Jesus, what if they upset the dynamic so much they ruin the ‘Hawks? Patrick should just—

“That’s fine.” As usual, Jonny steamrolls right over Patrick’s thought process, reaching over and squeezing Patrick’s shoulder. “We’ll deal with it. Thanks, Sharpy.”

“Anytime, Toe-ez, Peeks. Enjoy your freedom while it lasts, guys. From here on out it’s pain and despair and—“

“Fuck you,” Patrick laughs. “I know you adore Abby.”

“Of course.” Sharpy sounds incredulous. “But neither of you losers is anything close to the perfect specimen of humanity that I married.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick says again, just as Jonny snorts. “Bye Sharpy.”

“Later.”

Patrick thumbs off his alarm—like they’re going to need it now—and then pulls up Seabs’ number on his phone. “I want breakfast so fucking bad, but you wanna just get this shit over with?”

Jonny looks like he’d rather drown, but he nods anyway.

“Cool.” Patrick hits Seabs’ number and puts it on speaker straight away. They can pretty much guarantee that Seabs will be easier. He’s not a morning person, so hopefully they can tell him while he’s still in the throes of sleep, and get out quickly.

Seabs answers with, “Hey Kaner,” and he sounds distressingly alert. So much for that plan. “How’s it going?”

“Well,” Patrick says.

Jonny’s staring intently down at his hands on the blankets. “We’re together, Brent.”

“Oh hey, Jonny. You guys hanging out in Chicago?”

The fact that Jonny says Brent is bad enough, but it’s worse because Seabs misses the point. patrick rubs at his forehead. “He means we’re in a relationship.”

There’s a long pause, before Seabs says, “Like dating?”

He doesn’t laugh like Sharpy did, but Patrick isn’t quite sure what he sounds like. Kind of stunned, but then that’s kinda understandable.

“Yeah.” Patrick raises his eyes to the ceiling. “Since rookies.”

“Oh.” Seabs talks to someone in the background, and Patrick is just about to ask who when Seabs says, “You telling me now for a reason?”

Patrick turns his head to stare at Jonny, only to find him looking back. “We’re—“

“—getting married,” Jonny finishes.

Seabs sucks in a breath, and this time they hear him say, “Kaner and Tazer are getting married.”

“Who the hell is there with you?” Jonny says, hotly. Patrick kinda hopes he doesn’t call Seabs a fatty again. They need these guys to be on their side.

“Duncs,” Seabs says, like it should be obvious. “We were getting breakfast.”

“At 7 AM?” Patrick knows Sharpy is an early riser, but what the actual fuck. like Jonny, its almost impossible to pry Seabs from a bed until it’s absolutely necessary.

“Dayna and I have been staying with Duncs and Kelly-Rae for a couple of days.”

“So...” Patrick says. “You’re not—“

“One second,” Seabs says, and then, louder, “You’re on speaker.”

Jonny shrugs. “So?”

“Some things make sense,” Duncs says, knowingly, and what the hell.

Patrick frowns. “Like what?!”

Jonny interrupts, frowning. “You’re okay with it?”

“Were we not supposed to be?” Seabs says, at the same time Duncs makes a noise.

“Fuck, Tazer, we’re not going to think less of you for wanting to be with Patrick.”

“Fuck you!” Patrick snaps, but there’s another sense of relief there.

Jonny’s grinning. Patrick notices it looks less strained than it did. Thank fuck. He’s not sure what else he can do to keep Jonny from like, going insane or whatever.

“Sorry, Kaner. It’s not that we don’t love you.” Duncs says.

“But we don’t,” Seabs laughs. “So. When’s this wedding?”

Patrick snorts. “Two weeks?”

“The fuck?! You guys don’t hang around.” Duncs lets out a breath. “Who else knows?”

“Sharpy.”

Patrick frowns. “You guys wanna come?”

“To the wedding?”

“No, to Texas.” Patrick rolls his eyes. “Yes, to the wedding, dumbass.” There’s some muttering that neither Patrick nor Jonny can pick up, from the look on his face, but eventually Duncs says, “Kelly Rae and Dayna?”

“Sure,” Jonny says, affably.

“Great. Text us the stuff.”

Duncs adds, “You telling anyone else?”

Patrick closes his eyes. Jonny doesn’t say anything, just breathes out his nose like he’s a raging bull or something. “No,” Patrick says eventually. “Not yet.”

There’s not much else to be said, and they hang up with a promise to talk again in a few days.

Patrick pushes his phone onto the nightstand and closes his eyes. “Fuck.”

Jonny doesn’t say anything, but he doesn’t have to. Patrick can feel the heat of his gaze on the side of his face, but he doesn’t want to look. “What?”

“You—“

“I’m fine,” Patrick snaps. “Or as well as I’m gonna be.”

Jonny mutters under his breath and Patrick feels the covers being tossed aside and land in his lap. He still doesn’t open his eyes, just listens to Jonny pad into the bathroom and close the door.

Patrick rolls over onto his side. Sharpy, Duncs and Seabs are okay with it. That’s good, that’s—better than Patrick could have asked for. But he knows three people don’t make a team. There’s still opportunity for the other guys to hate it, to not want to play with them, and if that happens—Patrick rolls out of bed, grabs a shirt and pulls it on. Jonny’s the captain and he’s supposed to -- Patrick wants to not tell anyone else.

Jonny isn’t going to be okay with that, isn’t going to not tell everyone just because Patrick’s having a crisis of confidence, and especially not now that he’s told Sharpy and Duncs and Seabs. Patrick’s never wanted to talk about anything less in his life, but he knows they need to, knows they need talk about how they’re going to tell the other guys, because Patrick can’t do another dozen phone calls like that without wanting to drown himself in Lake Erie.

“You going to shower sometime today?” Jonny says, when he comes into the room. His hair is damp and he has his shirt in his hand.

“Was waiting for you,” Patrick mutters. It’s not like there isn’t a guest shower, but the one in the master bathroom has the perfect pressure. Or something.

Jonny stares at him, frown on his face. He needs to stop doing that so often or his face will stay like that. Patrick’s good at pretending he isn’t the cause of most of them, so he keeps on doing so. “What’s the matter with you?”

“I’m not calling anyone else,” Patrick says as he stands.

“Pat—“

No,” Patrick says. “You fucking told Sharpy before I was ready, asshole. You didn’t talk to me. Now you’re going to listen.”

Jonny’s scowl deepens. “You know—“

“After the wedding, Jonny. Look, I want Sharpy and the guys there, I do. But not the entire fucking team.”

Jonny keeps looking at him like the answer to whatever questions he has will be on Patrick’s face. “We have to do it.”

Patrick glares. “I know. I’m not dumb.”

“Okay,” Jonny says eventually. “We’ll wait.”

Patrick nods and makes to walk into the bathroom, but Jonny grabs his arm.

“I didn’t mean—“ His face twists. “I’m sorry.”

On a different day, maybe Patrick would make him work for it but he doesn’t this time, just nods. “Yeah.”

Jonny gives him that dumb half smile, and Patrick winces. It’s not his real one, it’s his uncertain one, the one he uses when he’s not sure if he’s doing the right thing and Jesus Patrick doesn’t want to be the strong one here.

“I’m gonna shower.” Patrick eases his arm out of Jonny’s grip and walks into the bathroom.

---

Telling Sharpy, Duncs and Seabs hadn’t been what Jonny thought it would be, but he’s not sorry. They’re accepting and that’s good, really good. He’s not optimistic enough to believe that everyone will be as good.

A team has to be able to work together if they want to get shit done and Jonny’s the captain—if he’s the cause of any discord...

He’s glaring at the blank TV screen when Patrick finally gets out of the shower. He still looks, well. He gets small when he’s unsure about something, usually himself, and Jonny hates it. He knows it’s the wedding and everything that goes with it; the pressure, the worry, all of it. He frowns. “The vows.”

Patrick raises an eyebrow, shrugging on a shirt. “What about them?”

“How are you going to convince me that you care about me?”

“Asshole,” Patrick mutters and makes his way into the kitchen. Jonny follows, hands in his pockets and leaning against the wall. Patrick’s better at making eggs than he is, so he watches as Patrick breaks a few into a frying pan.

“How the hell do you even write vows?” Patrick asks as he watches the eggs. He pauses. “You ever think about marriage?”

Jonny frowns. “In what way?”

“Like, not to me,” Patrick asks, rolling his eyes like, what, Jonny’s going to understand his weird disjointed rambling? “Before this.”

“No,” Jonny answers honestly.

Patrick laughs, eyes crinkling in the corners, and it’s a better look than he’s had in a while. “Too focused on hockey?”

“What else is there?” Jonny asks honestly. He’s had girlfriends, it’s not like he’s been alone, but he’s just—it’s always been hockey.

“Jonny, Jonny, Jonny,” Patrick mutters.

Jonny scowls. “Like you have game.”

Patrick snorts. “Excuse you, I have plenty.”

“Sure, Kaner,” Jonny says with a smile. “So. Vows.”

“I might not know how to do them yet,” Patrick says with a wave of the spatula. “But mine are going to knock yours out of the fucking park.”

“You wish.”

“Picturing it.” Patrick grins, shrugging a little. “You standing beside me, weeping over how great my vows are.”

Jonny pulls a face. That’s not going to happen. Ever. “You’ve never managed to make me cry. Ever.”

“No,” Patrick says. “But I’ve made you laugh. And that, my friend, is much more important.”

Jonny raises his eyebrows. Patrick doesn’t seem to realize what he’s said, pushing the eggs around the pan.

“Well, you could always fail to make people laugh while I genuinely make you cry.” Jonny leans against the counter. He knows he’s probably smirking, but it’s not like making Patrick cry is hard.

Patrick is obviously aware of this too, because he stabs at the eggs viciously. “Get some plates, asshole.”

He laughs as he does it, bumping Patrick’s hip with his own because, whatever, he is going to be so fucking great at this.

Patrick curses, but smacks Jonny on the arm with the spatula. “Fuck you. Just don’t do anything dumb like try and give me a Stanley cup ring instead of a real one, yeah?”

Jonny snorts because, please, a) Patrick already has his own Stanley cup ring and b) like Jonny’d give him another one, considering his has a far superior number on it. He watches Patrick distribute the eggs—with slightly more to himself, Jonny notices, but whatever, it just means Jonny can force him to work out a little longer—and tosses the pan and spatula into the sink.

“Maybe I’ll just present your vows on a hockey stick and see how you like that,” Patrick smirks.

Jonny pauses with a forkful of eggs to his mouth. “What?”

“I was joking,” Patrick says. “Not that it wouldn’t be hilarious to like, throw the vows thing back at Mom. She can take the hockey player off of the ice but she can’t like, take the ice, whatever. The point is, hockey sticks.”

“...You’re serious.” Jonny puts his fork back on his plate. “I am not writing my vows on a hockey stick, Patrick. I am not that obsessed with hockey.”

Two days later, Jonny is hunched over his laptop, poking around to find people who will willingly write shit on hockey sticks. This is such a dumb idea, but whatever, he’s not going to be the one to lose this whatever it is, let Patrick show him up with a hockey stick and not give one back of his own.

Besides, it would be nice to have a little bit of control over one aspect of his wedding. He’s steadily ignoring the fourteen texts he has waiting on his phone from his mom, Donna and David. He’s taking a leaf out of Patrick’s book; if he ignores it for long enough, it will go away. It’s a lie, but whatever, they wanted him to write vows, he’s going to write them and then deal with whatever else he has to do.

Patrick’s still working out, probably bitching to Erica about what nice things he can say about Jonny. He’s already whined down the phone to Sam Gagner about it of all people—and he needs to shut the door of the guest bathroom if he doesn’t want Jonny to hear—after confessing that he was marrying Jonny. Thankfully, Jonny hadn’t heard any laughing, but he had heard copious amounts of mocking, so he’s content to extend an invitation to the guy if he wants it. He can’t help playing for the Oilers, after all.

It does mean that Jonny is absolutely calling T.J. about this and telling him that he can come to the wedding, can even mock Patrick to his heart’s content if he wants. Jonny doesn’t encourage their whatever-the-hell-it-is, because he would like his current best friend to get on with his former good friend, but he’s uncomfortably aware (thanks, Sharpy) that they’re too alike for that to ever happen.

Still, if Patrick invites Sam, he’s going to invite T.J. They can bond over never making the playoff finals or whatever. Whatever they do, Jonny is seriously considering just writing down his strong points and giving them to Patrick, just to help the guy along. He’s clearly in need of it.

He’s already got a list made about Patrick’s high points.


Sub Category One: Hockey

  1. Finding me on the Ice
  2. Trickshots
    • saucer pass
    • triple deke shootist move
    • no-look backhand pass
    • spin-o-rama
  3. Hands
  4. Puck handling
  5. Speed
  6. Work with the rookies

Sub Category Two: Not Hockey

  1. Generous with people he loves
  2. Steps up when needed
  3. Gets my (awesome) jokes
  4. BEST FRIEND
  5. Fights me—makes me better
  6. Doesn’t let me win
Jonny surveys his list. He feels more comfortable having it—clearly he is going to write some badass vows with this, which will make Patrick cry—and maybe his mom too—and clearly win.

Once he has his list, it’s just a matter of narrowing it down to a few things, something that will have the right kind of impact. It’s hard at first, not able to think of anything even with what he’s written down, until he stops thinking of it as a marriage. It’s not that he doesn’t want to, he’s been over this a million times and he’s getting sick of it, but if he thinks about it as just Patrick, it gets easier.

They’re best friends, Jonny is quite capable of admitting that in his head—and on paper—and he’s grown apart from some friends, drifted away because they wanted different things. He doesn’t think—doesn’t want—to drift away from Patrick. He’s not stupid, he knows there are some aspects of that he can’t change, but he forces himself to think about Patrick as a best friend, as someone he’s proud to call that. It’s been a few weeks since he got the news about Patrick’s trade, and in that time, he’s seen Patrick shift from someone he was ashamed of, to someone he’s seen rise above everything and make this wedding everything it can be. He’s proud of Patrick.

From there, it’s easy to write the vows.

---

Now that he has his own vows written and ready to go, he can’t help but try and figure out how well Patrick’s doing with his. He doesn’t seem to be doing much at all, spending time bitching on the couch, talking to his mom about wedding things that Jonny really doesn’t want to focus on, and hanging out in the kitchen, eating way too much food. He never seems to be focusing on what he should be.

“Are you done?”

“With what?” Patrick’s upside down on the couch, feet up against the back and head hanging over the side. Jonny is really beginning to worry all the stress is regressing Patrick back to childhood.

Jonny drops down next to him, plucking the remote neatly out of Patrick’s hands. “Your vows.”

Patrick makes a grab for the remote, but it’s half-hearted and weak. He wiggles his eyebrows. “Are you trying to get insider secrets, Jonny? I’m still going to show you up.”

Jonny snorts. “You can try.”

He keeps flicking through channels, trying to find something that won’t have Patrick bitching.

“There’s plenty of time.”

Jonny raises an eyebrow. “We have a week and a half before we’ll be saying them, Patrick.”

Patrick doesn’t look half as concerned as he probably should. He focuses on the TV and Jonny’s drawn to the line of this throat. “I bet you’ve got yours written and engraved onto your heart already.”

Engraved somewhere, Jonny doesn’t say. Instead, he punches Patrick lightly in the side. Patrick lets out a noise and starts laughing, meeting Jonny’s eyes. “Asshole.”

“Whatever, you love me,” Patrick says, poking Jonny in the side. “You’re marrying me.”

Jonny rolls his eyes.

“You better hope, for your sake, that you get them done. I don’t think your mom will take your lack of vows well, Kaner.”

Patrick stares at him. “Pulling out the mom card is a dick move.”

“Yeah, well,” Jonny says. “I thought you were bringing it. I’d hate to win by default.”

“Oh my god,” Patrick laughs. “You are such a competitive asshole.”

Shrugging, Jonny doesn’t dispute it. He came to terms with that part of himself a long time ago.

“Fine,” Patrick says. “Maybe they’re done.”

“And?”

“I’m not going to tell you.” Patrick scowls. “You can’t catch me out, dude. I am going to be super stealth about keeping this secret.”

It’s the first time Jonny’s felt comfortable in a long time.

“My vows will be better,” Patrick says. “And then I’ll kiss you so hard, you won’t even know what hit you.”

“What?” Jonny’s mocking thoughts are derailed by the word kiss.

Patrick laughs at him. “Dude, we’re going to have to kiss at the altar.”

That wasn’t anything Jonny had planned for. “God no.”

Instead of being insulted, Patrick just grins. “Please, don’t front. You totally want a piece of me.”

“Sure Patrick,” Jonny says, dryly. “You’re a real catch.”

Patrick’s smirk morphs into a smile and he rests a hand on Jonny’s thigh. It’s a little high, because of the way he’s lying, but Jonny doesn’t focus on it too much because Patrick says, “if you’re worried, we could practice.”

Jonny freezes again. “I’m not worried,” he says, automatically. “Like kissing you is going to be difficult.”

“Are you saying I’m easy for it?” Patrick scowls.

Jonny shrugs, smirking, because he’s content to be an asshole sometimes.

“Right,” Patrick says. “I bet if I was to kiss you now, you would be so hot for me.”

Jonny stares at him. “Are you serious?” He’s not exactly sure what’s happening here.

“Yes,” Patrick says. He sounds like he’s joking, but Jonny is fairly sure the look on face is not compatible with his tone.

“I’m not kissing you, Patrick.”

“Don’t you want your mom to believe this?”

“Oh my god, Patrick.” Jonny rubs a hand over his face. “Mentioning my mother is not the best way to convince me to kiss you. This is why you have no game.”

Patrick glares at him. “Fuck you, douchebag.”

“But,” Jonny says, shrugging. He can be the bigger man, here, especially where Patrick is concerned. “If you think you’ll need to practice, we can.”

Patrick’s eyes widen, fingers flexing on Jonny’s thigh. Jonny had almost forgotten they were there. He moves, dropping his feet and turning on the couch until he’s sitting up, face turned towards Jonny. “I don’t think we do.”

Jonny opens his mouth to reply.

“But we could always test it. I mean, we have to convince people.”

This is like some terrible romantic comedy, Jonny thinks vaguely. But Patrick is so fucking close all of a sudden and okay, yeah, he does want the kiss at the wedding to not be a complete failure—especially not if that’s going to be the factor that seals the reality of the marriage—that will have people believing them or not.

If he can’t kiss Patrick now, he’s not going to be able to kiss him then.

“Whatever,” he mumbles, and then presses forward, curling a hand around the back of Patrick’s neck and tugging him in. It’s not—it’s not like kissing any of his girlfriends. It’s messy and uncoordinated because it’s a surprise; Jonny’s overthinking it in the back of his head, wondering what Patrick’s thinking, whether it’s okay, believable.

Patrick makes a noise in the back of his throat, and his fingers slide up Jonny’s leg to his shirt. He splays his fingers against Jonny’s chest and Jesus, Jonny’s kissing Patrick and it should be weird but it doesn’t feel weird and he’s confused as fuck. He gets caught up in it, though, slides his fingers into Patrick’s hair and just holds him there. He wants to deepen it, wants to feel Patrick’s responses, but before he can Patrick’s shoving him back, dropping his eyes to the floor.

“That’s—“ Patrick cuts off, looks up at Jonny with a grin that isn’t half as real as it usually is. “I think we’re good.”

“Are you—“

“I’m good,” Patrick says, rubbing the back of his head and climbing to his feet. “I need to—“

“Patrick,” Jonny says again, standing himself. He moves to put a hand on Patrick’s arm, but Patrick moves away shaking his head. “Did I—“

“It’s not you,” Patrick says quickly. “I just need to go.”

Jonny frowns, because what the hell? “Why are you—“

“Please,” Patrick says, looking up at Jonny for a beat and then stepping away, moving around Jonny and disappearing into the hall.

Jonny doesn’t go after him. He doesn’t even know what the hell is going on. By the time he’s turning to tell Patrick to stay, the door is already closing and Patrick is gone.

---

Patrick gets as far as his car in the garage, plants his hands on the steering wheel, and wonders if he’s just permanently screwed everything up. He can’t bring himself to start the car and drive away, so he gets his phone out of his pocket and scrolls through his contacts. He decides to call Erica, because she’s the one who deals with his freak outs without mocking him too hard.

“Hey Patty.”

“Erica,” Patrick says.

She immediately says, “What’s wrong?”

Patrick drops his head back against the headrest and closes his eyes. “I don’t know how to fake it.”

There’s a long, drawn silence. When she replies, Erica’s voice sounds weird, kind of like it did when she first heard about his Cinco de Mayo fiasco. “What the hell are you talking about, Patrick?”

Patrick opens his mouth to reply. Shit. “I—“

“Fake what?”

“Jonny and I are—“

“Patrick,” Erica says, slowly, carefully, and it’s the voice she uses when she’s really fucking angry, and if Patrick hadn’t screwed things up before, this has probably done it. “What are you saying?”

“I was going to get traded,” Patrick says, quickly. He rests his forehead on the wheel and swallows. “Jonny and I are marrying but it’s not—it’s not what everyone thinks it is.”

“You can’t tell me this,” Erica says, pleads. “Patty—“

Patrick is the worst fucking brother in the universe. “I didn’t mean to put this all on you.”

“Fuck you,” Erica says. “Fuck you for doing this to me.”

“Erica—“

“What did you do?”

“I think I—it’s serious, for me, but I don’t think—I think he’s just saving me. RIght?”

Erica lets out a slow breath and says, “I don’t know.”

There’s another silence, and Patrick wants to break it but doesn’t know how.

“How am I supposed to keep this from mom, Patrick? You have to—“

“No!” Patrick yells, sitting up. “Please, Erica, you can’t.”

“Then you shouldn’t have told me!” Erica snarls back. There’s a muffled noise in the background. “God, Patty. I need to go but you—you need to talk to Jonny, okay? Tell him.”

Snorting, Patrick just drops his hand to his lap and wonders why the hell he can’t just have one day lately without screwing something up. “Yeah, sure.”

She hangs up after a quick goodbye, and he’s left to stare at the door leading back up into the apartment complex. He want to go back up and apologize to Jonny, wants to figure out why the hell he can’t keep his mouth shut and just do this right.

He doesn’t know how, if, he’s ever going to be able to confess to Jonny that Erica knows.

---

When Patrick gets back up to the apartment, Jonny is in the living room, sitting on the couch and scrolling through his iPad. There’s a moment when Patrick thinks they’re not going to talk about it, when he gets as far as sitting down next to Jonny on the couch and Jonny looks at him without comment.

“I’m—“

Jonny’s glare cuts him off. “I guess you’ve had better.”

Patrick wants to laugh because it’s funny, but he’s sure if he does that, Jonny will forget this whole thing. He stares down at the floor so that the next words out of his mouth will actually matter. “It’s different.” He pauses. “It’s you.”

When the silence drags on just a little too long, Patrick looks up to find Jonny staring him, anger still lining his face but there’s curiosity there, too.

“Because I’m a guy?”

“No!” Patrick says, a little too loudly. At Jonny’s surprised look, he sighs. “It’s not that—I’m kinda into both?”

“What?” Jonny doesn’t look angry anymore, just stunned. “Since when?”

Patrick makes a face. “I don’t know, Jonny. Not since one time. It’s just something I’ve done, you know?”

“You never said anything,” Jonny says. He’s also got that look in his eyes, the one he gets when he’s analyzing a new play and doesn’t like it. Patrick really fucking hopes he hasn’t just made yet another mistake telling Jonny. He wants—needs—Jonny to be okay.

“It’s not something you just bring up in a conversation. ‘Oh, by the way, I’m kinda into dudes sometimes.’”

“Right, because those aren’t the sorts of things you tell your best friend.” Jonny actually looks hurt.

“Why do you care that I never told you?” Patrick snaps. “Look, I’m sorry it never came up. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you that sometimes I fuck guys, okay?”

Jonny doesn’t wince like Patrick thought he would. Instead, he just grips Patrick’s elbow in his hand and shakes him a little. “Patrick.”

Patrick deflates. “I just wasn’t sure how you were going to take it.”

“About what?” Jonny asks, gently, and fuck it all, Patrick doesn’t want him to be gentle about this.

“Like being gay and stuff. Well, sort of. And we’re always gonna be like, us, right?”

Jonny frowns. Patrick knows he’s not making that much sense, but he kind of has to know that he and Jonny are going to be okay with this, like this. “Yeah Patrick, but that doesn’t—“

“So if you had a problem with it,” Patrick explains. “You’d have a problem with me.”

Jonny’s face clears, like he gets it. “Pretty sure that if I had a problem with the ‘gay stuff’, I wouldn’t be marrying you.”

Patrick opens his mouth. Fuck, that makes sense. Whatever, it’s not like Patrick can be logical in the face of so much fucking emotional shit.

“Besides,” Jonny carries on. “Do you really think I’d ever be as shallow as to judge you by who you slept with?”

Patrick doesn’t know how to answer that.

“You know me,” Jonny stresses. “I hate this emotional bullshit, but Patrick, you know me, asshole. If I didn’t leave when you drank yourself into a trade, do you really think I’d leave you for anything else?”

Patrick’s throat feels tight, and he shakes his head quickly. God, he needs a drink. He rubs his hands over his bowed head instead. “I didn’t want things to be different.”

They still would be, Patrick knows, if Jonny ever found out that he’s been legitimately harboring some ridiculous attraction to Jonny since they were rookies.

“They’re not going to be,” Jonny assures him with one last squeeze to his elbow. “If you freak out like that at the wedding—“

“I won’t,” Patrick says, shrugging. “You weren’t that good.”

“You ran out of the apartment,” Jonny says. “And you didn’t complain. Clearly, I was so good you had to go and like, gather yourself in the parking garage.”

“’Gather myself’?” Patrick laughs. “Oh my god, Jonny.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Jonny mutters, and turns back to his iPad. “I hate you.”

“Not true.” Patrick nudges him and gets a small, reluctant smile in return.

Later that night, he texts Erica to apologize and ask that she call him back when she has time. He’s surprised when his phone immediately starts buzzing. He disappears into the bathroom and shuts the door, thankful that Jonny’s busy watching TV in the living room.

“Hey,” he says. “Look, I—”

“Shut up.” There’s rustling on the end of the phone, and Patrick can almost imagine her sitting up in bed, scowling at the far wall. He misses her fiercely, and runs a hand through his hair as she talks. “I’m here for you, Pat, you know that, but this is stupid.”

“It was the only thing we could think of,” he says weakly. “I gotta be in Chicago, Erica.”

There’s a long silence. “You could have been traded to Buffalo.”

Patrick doesn’t smile. He could have been, and it would have been great to be close to his family but he can’t imagine leaving Chicago, not after everything he’s been through with this team.

“This is a bad idea,” Erica says eventually, when it’s clear he’s not going to say anything. “You need to know that.”

“Fuck, Erica, we do.”

“Do you? You’ll be lying to everyone, Pat. And not just for weeks, but months, years if this contract has a no divorce clause.”

Patrick does know that, hasn’t let himself think about it. “We don’t have a choice.”

“There’s always a choice,” Erica says shortly. “But you know I’m here to listen.”

“You’re the best.”

“I know. Go to sleep Pat,” she says, before hanging up.

---

Jonny’s just considering what to make for breakfast the next morning, when Patrick comes out of the bedroom, laughing, “What?”

Patrick grins and sits down at the counter, placing his phone next to the mug of coffee Jonny’s already poured him. “Sam says thanks for the invite.”

Jonny shrugs. “Seems fair. Him being your former line buddy and all.”

Patrick grins. “Best friend, dude.”

Jonny glowers over his shoulder, and he knows he’s playing right into Patrick’s hands when he gets a smirk in return.

“Kidding! You’re my best friend forever and always,” he says, batting his eyelids like a fucking tool.

“What if I burned your eggs,” Jonny says, turning back around to the stove.

Patrick snorts. “You’d burn yours as well.”

He has a point.

“Fine,” Jonny says. He scoops the eggs out onto the plates and then says, “What if I invited T.J. to the wedding?”

Patrick pauses, mug of coffee halfway to his mouth. “Fuck no.”

Jonny shrugs. “If you get Gagner...”

“They’re different people!” Patrick stresses, leaning forward on the counter. Jonny barely manages to avoid putting the plate down before Patrick gets a chest full of eggs. “Broshie is a tool.”

Jonny just stares at him. “You’re calling Broshie a tool.”

“Hey.” Patrick sounds affronted and Jonny ignores him, putting both plates down on the counter and going back for cutlery. “Everyone knows he’s just me but less.”

Jonny snorts. “Less is right. Some people prefer less.”

Patrick gapes at him. “Dude, I am clearly five million percent better than Broshie. He can’t come to our wedding.”

“I already asked him,” Jonny says, tucking into his eggs. He ignores the sputtering and indignation from beside him quite easily. Tuning out Patrick becomes second nature after a while.

“Look,” Patrick says, turning on his stool to face Jonny. “It’s Broshie.”

“I’m not changing my mind,” Jonny says.

Patrick sighs dramatically. “Maybe I can extend an olive branch. A really, really long one.”

Jonny rolls his eyes. “One day you’ll get along.”

“Yeah, no.” Patrick elbows Jonny hard and jostles his fork. Ignoring the glare he gets in return, Patrick just pokes at his own eggs. “The things I do for you.”

“Right,” Jonny says, dryly. “Because I haven’t done anything for you.”

Patrick just smiles at him, kind of dumb-looking. “You have and I appreciate it, Jonny, from the bottom of my Broshie-hating heart.”

Jonny refrains from reminding him that T.J. does have a first name. Or, well, initials. He knows from experience that Patrick will just laugh in his face.

Patrick pushes his plate away when he’s done, still running the fork through his fingers. “So, those are the only hockey guys we’re inviting, right?”

Jonny shrugs. “Your mom put you on invite duty, didn’t she?”

“Hell no,” Patrick laughs. “You think she’d trust either of us to invite people?”

Jonny snorts. She has a point where Patrick is concerned, but he’s pretty good with lists. “I could have helped.”

“Please,” Patrick says. “You’d have like, stuck to about three people you would force to sign confidentiality agreements to keep them from blabbing, and our immediate families.”

“And Broshie,” Jonny adds, just to dig it in.

Patrick rolls his eyes. “Fuck you.”

“Families are good though, yeah?”

Patrick nods. “We don’t have to get crazy with it. I know my backyard is huge—“

“It backs onto Lake Erie,” Jonny reminds him. “I think you could fit the entire Western Conference in there with room to spare.”

“Eww, I’m not having the Canucks cluttering up my yard,” Patrick says, missing the point entirely.

“You’re so dumb,” Jonny sighs.

“Such a burden on you,” Patrick agrees, not affronted in the least. “Seriously, though. Families and the guys—Sharpy, Duncs and Seabs.”

“Gagner and T.J.” Jonny adds. “Anyone else?”

“No,” Patrick says. “As long as you remember to actually be there.”

Jonny’s kind of touched by that which, god, this is fucking weird. “Probably should be there. Someone has to make sure you’re on your best behaviour.”

“It doesn’t have to always be you,” Patrick adds, a little more seriously.

Shrugging, Jonny grabs both plates and carries them to the sink. “Bit late, I think.”

“Yeah,” Patrick agrees eventually. He doesn’t look sad about it and the truth is, Jonny isn’t either.

 

Patrick is sulking in the bedroom, annoyed that his mother has demanded he go for a proper suit fitting because she was not, “Allowing my son to get married in a polo shirt and blazer.”

Jonny thinks it’s hilarious, mostly because Patrick’s ill-fitting suits are a joke in the locker room. The fact that Patrick is short has provided endless amusement for the guys, especially Shawsy, who gets shit for being shorter than Patrick, when even that’s questionable.

“Kaner,” Jonny yells. “There’s mail for you.”

He stares at the two identical packages as Patrick comes out of the bedroom. “Dude! Awesome. Wait, why are there two?”

“Did you actually engrave your vows on a hockey stick?” Jonny asks.

Patrick gestures at the packages. “Pretty sure you can’t mock me for it, considering the evidence says you did too.”

“I wasn’t mocking,” Jonny says. “Did you spy on me?”

“What? No.” Patrick grabs the stick with his name on the label and holds it in both hands. “I totally spied on your internet history.”

“The fuck, Patrick?” Jonny is really glad he wrote the damn vows on paper and not on a file on his laptop. “I told you to leave my laptop alone.”

“Relax,” Patrick says dismissively. “When you’re being a detective, there’s no such thing as privacy.”

Jonny doesn’t even know where to start with all the wrong things in that sentence, so he doesn’t bother. “Mine is still going to be better than yours.”

“Whatever,” Patrick says, scoffing. “We’ll see who really brings it at the wedding, won’t we?”

Jonny ignores him and goes to put the stick with his suitcase. It’s half empty, waiting for the rest of the clothes he wants to take, but he notices Patrick’s already sneaking shit into it. “Patrick, you have your own suitcase.”

“It’s full!” Patrick yells from the living room.

“With what?” Jonny mutters. “Caps and sneakers?”

He grabs the offending shirt and folds it neatly, because the last thing he wants is Patrick showing up with creased shirts and embarrassing the hell out of the both of them. He puts it on top of his own shirts and flips the lid.

He wants to undo the package and look at the stick, but he knows better than to do that with Patrick still in the apartment. He lays it on top, texting his mom to ask if she wants any last minute things, and then joins Patrick in the living room.

---

They wake up the morning of their flight, tangled in a heap of limbs, Patrick’s phone alarm blaring in Jonny’s right ear. He groans and reaches out for it, shutting it off out of habit. Patrick groans and presses his face further into Jonny’s neck. Jonny stopped being weirded out by the way they woke up a while ago, but sometimes he’ll look down and think he shouldn’t be so used to it. If he thinks about how good it is for the authenticity of their marriage, it gets easier.

“I wanna sleep,” Patrick mumbles.

Jonny untangles his legs from Patrick’s, but doesn’t move his arm from Patrick’s waist. “We have a flight. Get your ass out of bed.”

“You have to let me go,” Patrick says, reasonably.

Jonny sighs. “This is going to be torture, isn’t it?”

There’s no answer, but Jonny doesn’t expect one. They’re both freaking out about this, even if he’s doing a fucking great job of pretending he isn’t, and it’s not like they can stop it now.

“We’re getting picked up in an hour, Patrick.” Jonny finally pulls away and rolls over to sit up. He stares down at his own phone, which is blessedly blank. His mom has been texting non-stop the past day and a half, asking him questions that he really doesn’t know the answers too, and generally making him believe that his wish for this to be understated and calm are pretty much shot.

Patrick burrows back under the covers. “Five more minutes.”

Jonny rolls his eyes. “Fine. If you’re not out by the time I get out of the shower, I’m tipping you out of it.”

Patrick is up when he gets out of the shower, towel around his neck and still looking half asleep. He passes Jonny wordlessly in front of the bathroom and disappears inside. It’s been tense between them all night, and Jonny hates it; hates that this wedding is ruining things even before it’s begun. He hopes once the ceremony and shit is dealt with, they’ll be able to go back to being them.

He dresses quickly, grabbing last minute things from the bedroom and throwing them into a carry-on. Patrick’s charger is lying discarded under the bed and Jonny grabs it, snorting. He shoves it into Patrick’s bag and makes his way into the kitchen. Their suitcases are propped up next to the door, hockey sticks alongside, and the closer they get to leaving, the more real it becomes.

When Patrick eventually comes out of the bedroom, Jonny is quietly freaking out in the kitchen.

“Hey,” Patrick says, sliding onto the stool next to Jonny.

Jonny just nods, playing with their passports lying on the counter. “Are you ready for this?”

“Fuck no,” Patrick admits with a shaky laugh. “Fucking this up isn’t an option, you know?”

Jonny nods. Yeah, he does. “We’ve come this far.”

They sit in silence for a few moments. “You know,” Patrick says, leaning heavily against Jonny. “If I have to fake marry anyone, I’m glad it’s you.”

They’ve had some variation of this conversation before, but it kind of means more, sitting here, about to leave for Buffalo. The next time they’re in Chicago, in this apartment, they’ll officially be married.

“Yeah,” Jonny agrees. “I guess being chained to you for eternity isn’t the worst.”

Patrick laughs, less nervous this time. “Come on, dude. Let’s do this.”

Chapter Text

Predictably, Patrick falls asleep before they’ve even left the gate. He’s got his feet up on the seat next to him, head resting on Jonny’s shoulder. It’s nothing they haven’t done on flights before, but those are usually full of hockey players and not first class of a domestic flight. Jonny ignores the looks the attendants give them, like they’re cute or something. He scowls until they cut it out, coming by only when he calls for them.

The flight passes pretty quickly, which Jonny’s grateful for. Patrick wakes just before landing and grins at Jonny. His nervousness gave way to excitement in the airport, talking non-stop about introducing Jonny to everything awesome in Buffalo.

He starts up again as they leave the plane and make their way through to security and arrivals. Jonny ends up carrying both of their bags, grabbing it when Patrick left it sitting on the seat in his eagerness to leave the plane. Thankfully, they’re out and into baggage claim before Jonny gets too worked up about the wait, but as soon as they see Patrick’s family and Jonny’s mom waiting for them, even Jonny can’t help but grin.

“Patty!” Jackie screams, launching herself at her brother as soon as they reach them. Jonny drops the bags and envelops his mother in a hug, letting her kiss his cheek.

Jessica and Erica exchange hugs with Patrick, and Jonny notes the way Erica looks disapprovingly at Patrick. Donna and Pat shake Jonny’s hand and there’s an uncomfortable moment when Pat sizes Jonny up before grinning and tugging Jonny into what is undoubtedly one of the most uncomfortable hugs of his life. He’s almost relieved when Jessica interrupts their hug to request one of her own.

Jonny looks over at Patrick, mostly to be a dick, but also because he’s a little overwhelmed. True to form, Patrick breaks the tension. “I guess you can hug her, seeing as you’re marrying me and all.”

Everyone laughs as Jessica glares at Patrick and then hugs Jonny. It’s not as weird as he was expecting it to be, but then it’s a little like hugging his mom; they’re of a similar height, and she doesn’t cling like some of the fans do.

Erica and Jackie then demand hugs of their own, and if Erica gives him a long, hard look afterward, he doesn’t know what to make of it. By the time they’ve done the family rounds, Pat’s returned with their bags.

“Thanks,” Jonny says, as he takes his. Patrick grins up at him as the two families leave the airport. “What?”

“Nothing,” Patrick says, but he doesn’t stop grinning.

Jonny lets it go, asking his mom when David is getting in, his attention only breaking when Patrick jostles his shoulder, falling into step with him.

They make it back to Patrick’s ridiculous house—seriously, what the hell, this is like Patrick’s mid-life crisis and he’s only 23—and Jonny’s already overwhelmed by what he sees They’re steered away from the backyard before he can properly get a look.

“When you see it, it has to be a surprise,” his mother says with a smile. She pats his cheek, like they don’t have four days before the actual wedding and he can just look out of a window.

Patrick insists on giving Jonny the tour of his house and okay, Jonny maybe gets why Patrick would want this when he sees it all laid out. It’s the perfect house for retirement—not that Jonny wants to think about that for too long—and raising a family.

Jonny has to pause in the threshold of the main bedroom to contemplate what that means for the both of them. Their marriage is being built on convenience, but Patrick’s probably going to want out at some point, to marry and have kids and whatever. Jonny frowns as Patrick pokes him in the back.

“Dude, there’s more of the house to see.”

“Yeah,” Jonny says. “Your mid-life crisis house looks pretty hot, Kaner.”

“You’re just jealous.” Patrick leads the way back down the stairwell as Jonny laughs.

“Come back to me when Lake Erie is renamed Lake Kane.”

“Are you ever going to stop riding the Lake train?” Patrick asks, as they head back towards to the living room.

“Probably not,” Jonny admits eventually.

Their families are gathered in the living room. Jonny’s mom and Donna are taking up the coffee table, sheets of paper littering the surface, and Jonny doesn’t even want to know.

Brian and Pat are having a conversation on the couch while Jessica, Erica and Jackie are watching cartoons. It’s pretty weird, but Jonny’s been more uncomfortable at weird family gatherings, so he can handle it.

“Patty,” Jackie says, as soon as she spots them. “You’re buying me a dress, right?”

Patrick shrugs. “Sure.”

Jonny always feels a little fucking proud of the way Patrick is with his sisters, sometimes. How he’s so effortless with his agreement to get them what they want, to be around when they need him. It’s a side of Patrick that he wishes more people would see, but that he’s also glad people don’t see.

“Yes,” Donna says, looking up from the table. “Why don’t you both take them shopping tomorrow?”

Jonny stares back at her. “Dress shopping?”

He knows that Patrick is finding this hilarious, and he doesn’t even have to turn to look. “Yes, Jonny. it will be fine.”

His mom is looking at him, and he can tell she’s laughing at him as well. Fuck everyone. “Fine.”

“Great!” Erica says. “We’ll stop off for lunch while we’re out.”

Jonny’s feeling a little overwhelmed with everything and, while the girls start interrogating Patrick about how much they’re allowed to spend, Jonny escapes to the hall. Their bags are still by the door, waiting to be taken up to the rooms, and Jonny grabs his carry-on.

He’s rooting around in it for some painkillers when he hears Patrick come up behind him.

“You want these?” Patrick’s holding out the bottle of Imitrex, and Jonny’s kind of ashamed to say he forgot them.

“Thanks.”

They walk into the kitchen so that Jonny can grab a glass of water. “You should have said if you had a migraine.”

“I thought it was fine,” Jonny says, frowning. “It’s just—“

“—overwhelming, I know.” Patrick smiles wryly. “Go lie down, dude. Your mom knows anyway.”

Great. Now she’s going to be checking up on him the entire time they’re out here. As if reading his mind, Patrick raises an eyebrow. “Pretty sure a guy who forgets his migraine medication for the concussion symptoms he’s pretending he still doesn’t have doesn’t get to pull faces about people checking up on him.”

“Whatever,” Jonny mumbles, pretending he’s not grateful. Patrick walks him right up to the master bedroom—and Jonny’s not an invalid—and leans in the doorway as Jonny drops down onto it.

“Shit, this is nice, Kaner.”

“See?” Patrick says, smugly. “My ‘mid-life crisis”’ house totally pays dividends when you want to sleep, asshole.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jonny groans into the pillow. Patrick rounds the bed and closes the curtains. “Wake me up in an hour?”

“Fuck no,” Patrick says. “You’ll wake up yourself when you’re ready.”

Jonny frowns, opening his mouth to say something about his sleep schedule being off, but closes it against the look on Patrick’s face.

“This shit is serious, Jonny,” Patrick says.

“I’m fine.”

“You didn’t let up when it was my wrist,” Patrick says slowly. “You’ll deal with it because it’s important.”

They stare at each other for a while, and Jonny’s not quite sure what he’s supposed to do, so he nods. “Fine.”

“Good,” Patrick says. He shuts the door as he leaves, and Jonny drops his head back onto the pillows and closes his eyes.

---

Jonny wakes up in the early evening, mostly pain free and able to climb out of bed. Patrick’s left some painkillers and a glass of water on the dresser, and a sweatshirt on the end of the bed. Jonny’s lip twitches as he tugs on the sweatshirt and grabs both the pills and the water. It’s quiet when he finally gets downstairs. The girls are in the kitchen, pouring over one laptop and doing what he assumes is some preliminary dress research from the images he can see. Donna is talking to them as she heats up what looks like dinner. When he gets into the living room, Pat and his dad are asleep in the armchairs while his mom is peering over Patrick’s shoulder at something on his iPhone.

Patrick looks up as he comes in and gives him the once over. “Feeling better?”

Jonny nods and ignores the look on his mother’s face. They’re going to be talking about this later no matter how much he wishes they weren’t. He drops down onto the couch next to Patrick and jostles him with an elbow. “What you looking at?”

“Nothing,” Patrick says, but he doesn’t shut down the phone before Jonny sees a picture of himself, in bed in his apartment, deeply asleep.

Jonny grabs the phone and gives Patrick his best glare. “You realise how creepy this is, right?”

“Oh shut up,” Patrick says, and snatches the phone back. “You looked so cute.”

“Cute,” Jonny snarls, distastefully.

“He’s right,” His mom says with a smile. “I have plenty of—“

“No,” Jonny says, before she can get any ideas. “No, you don’t.”

Patrick’s eyes widen, and he’s grinning like a tool. “I don’t know, Jonny. Aren’t partners supposed to see their significant other’s baby pictures?”

Jonny punches him in the arm. “There are enough on the internet.”

Patrick shrugs, like that’s a fair point. “Still.”

“One day,” Jonny’s mom promises. “I’ll show you.”

“Over my dead body,” Jonny mutters.

They fall silent, Jonny’s mom presumably leaving for the kitchen, and Patrick throwing his legs over Jonny’s and kicking him a little. “You prepared for A) dinner tonight and B) shopping?”

Jonny shrugs. He’s better now that he doesn’t have a migraine. It’s overwhelming but only because Patrick has three sisters, and he’s not used to it. Then again, he hangs out with a team of assholes on a regular basis, and it’s not like they aren’t cattier and bitchier than high schoolers.

“Sure,” he says. “Are you going to be alright shopping?”

“I’m not pretending it’s not terrifying,” Patrick admits. “But I have a pretty awesome fashion sense.”

Jonny keeps his laughter low so as not to wake their dads. He keeps laughing, even when Patrick kicks him, a little harder this time.

“Remind me again why I’m marrying such an asshole?”

“Patrick,” Donna admonishes as she comes in. “That’s no way to talk to Jonny.”

Jonny grins at Patrick smugly and gets a scowl in return. “See?”

“Ugh, I hate you.” Patrick says, sticking his tongue out like the child he is.

Jonny just keeps laughing at him.

“Dinner’s ready, boys. Better get in there before your fathers.”

Patrick kicks his legs back down to the floor and Jonny stands, patting Patrick’s legs as he does so.

“Come on, asshole. Dinner awaits.”

He throws an arm over Patrick’s shoulders as they make their way into the kitchen. He shrugs. “I dunno, dude, marrying you isn’t that much of a hardship.”

“That’s good to know,” Patrick says, dryly.

---

Dinner goes better than Jonny expected. His family and Patrick’s have always gotten on well, but it’s the first time they’ve been in one place all at the same time for something like dinner. It’s nice. Jonny sits between Patrick and his sister Jessica, who he discovers is a lot quieter than her two other sisters.

Jonny’s seen Patrick in an environment with his sisters before, but it’s a whole new thing to see the way he interacts with them in a private setting, as opposed to a hockey one. He gets into a kicking war with Erica under the table, which only ends when Patrick kicks Jonny instead and gets an elbow to the side. Erica smiles sheepishly at him from the other side of the table, and he accepts it with a nod. Jackie and her mom are arguing over something wedding related (of fucking course) and Jonny’s mom and dad are talking to Pat about something non-wedding related (thankfully). Jessica talks to Jonny about hockey, but she also has a surprising amount of knowledge about Canada—which he discovers is because her best friend is Canadian and she’s thinking about spending some time across the border. She begs him not to tell Patrick, of course, which Jonny agrees to. He might not keep the secret forever, because this is something he will absolutely hold over Patrick’s head with joy. When their conversation dies, Jonny looks up to see Jackie and Patrick engaged in some ridiculous lyric war about the wedding, which reminds him of the times they texted each other back and forth after the cup win, and he snorts into his drink. Patrick elbows him with a scowl, predictably following Jonny’s train of thought.

“Our rap lyrics are always flawless, Jonny,” Jackie says with a straight face.

Jonny nods solemnly. “Yours are. I guess the lyrical talent bypassed the genetics of your brother.”

“Hey!” Patrick says, poking Jonny in the side, right between his ribs. “You’re an as—“ He catches himself. “You’re the worst.”

Jonny makes a face. “Whatever. I guess I should be thankful you’re good at hockey.”

“I am badass at hockey,” Patrick agrees. “You know it, you love it.”

“I guess,” Jonny says doubtfully.

“You love something,” Erica mutters, and Jonny looks up to see everyone else staring at them with varying degrees of amusement and happiness. He’s also mildly dismayed that the expression on his mother’s face is the one she wore when he told her about his first girlfriend. Jesus.

He goes back to eating his dinner silently.

“Overwhelming huh?” Jessica asks when conversation has started up again.

He nods tightly. “Weddings always are.”

“Worse when it’s your own,” Jessica shrugs. “I hear it’s worth it.”

Jonny mutters, “he better be,” into the rim of his glass as he takes a drink.

Jessica grins. “Someone had to take him.”

“I heard that,” Patrick snaps from Jonny’s other side, and Jonny laughs.

Jonny’s still tired from the plane journey and his subsequent migraine, so he begs off a movie that night and climbs the stairs to their bedroom. He decides he needs a long shower and the time to breathe before he’s thrown back into the fray of family life with the shopping trip tomorrow. He’s surprised when there’s a knock on the door and Patrick pokes his head in. “You decent?”

“The fact that you stuck your head in without waiting for an answer makes that question kinda dumb, Kaner.”

“Whatever,” Patrick shrugs, coming into the room and closing the door.

They stand awkwardly for a moment and then Jonny frowns. “You didn’t have to come up on my account.”

“M’tired,” Patrick says and jumps onto the bed. “Mom moved our bags up here while we were in the living room.”

“I can see that?” Jonny says, confused.

Patrick roots around in his suitcase and brings up Jonny’s wash bag. “You forgot it. I was in the bathroom and thought you might want it.”

Jonny takes it with a grin. “Thanks.”

“Whatever.”

Jonny gestures at Patrick’s carry-on. “I picked up your charger.”

Patrick snorts and moves to grab it. Jonny studies his face; he knows when Patrick is nervous about something and he’s giving off all the signs. “What is it?”

“This isn’t our apartment.”

Jonny ignores the tightness in his chest at the word ours because he’s not sure what it means, but he frowns. “I know that.”

“I mean, if you wanted separate beds—“

“We’re still getting married,” Jonny says over him. He’s not about to admit that he’s used to sleeping in the same bed as Patrick, used to waking up curled around him like this whole thing is genuine or something. “It would look weird to everyone else if we were to sleep in separate rooms.”

Patrick nods, but he’s smiling now and the tension has eased from his body. “Awesome.”

That was weird. Whatever. Jonny grabs his wash kit and a towel and gestures at the bathroom. “I’m gonna take a shower.”

Patrick’s still shoving clothes aside in his suitcase, and Jonny winces. He’s glad he doesn’t have a suit to screw up, yet. “Sure. I’ll have one after.”

Once they’re both showered and in bed, Jonny flicks on the TV. “Anything in particular you want?”

When Patrick doesn’t answer, he turns his head to see Patrick already sacked out, face tucked into Jonny’s shoulder and one arm slung over Jonny’s waist. He grins and puts the TV on low, making sure it’s not going to wake Patrick up, and settles in for the night.

---

“It’ll be fine,” Patrick promises, as they’re waiting for everyone to grab their coats. Patrick has a cap on, turned backwards in his douchey way but whatever, Jonny can admit that he looks good, relaxed, like that. He’s got his hands in his pockets and he’s rocking back on his feet, grinning at Jonny like a moron.

“If you jinx us with that, asshole,” Jonny says. “I’ll punch you.”

“That’s not nice.” Patrick pouts and shoulders Jonny. “You’re such a mean husband-to-be.”

“You’ve put up with it this far,” Jonny says, watching Erica and Jessica come down the stairs. He’s always thought they were good looking, objectively speaking, but he knows better than to say that out loud. Patrick’s overprotective thing had been a joke to the media, but they don’t even know how real it is; Patrick’s vehemence that they not date hockey players had been strong and unwavering for months when he first joined the team—and it hasn’t lessened any over the years. Not that Jonny’s ever had designs on them. He’s pretty sure that Patrick’s more than enough Kane for him.

“Where’s Jackie?” Patrick asks.

“Here!” Jackie says, bounding down the stairs. She’s always grinning, Jonny’s noticed. She reminds him a lot of the best parts of Patrick, without the douchey, fake parts. He wonders if that’s what Patrick would have been like without hockey. Jackie’s nice enough, but he’s not—always—sorry with the way Patrick turned out.

“Let’s do this,” Patrick says, throwing open the front door and gesturing for them all to leave. They’re taking Patrick’s “Buffalo car” which, thankfully, isn’t a Hummer.

“I knew your Hummer was a size compensation thing,” Jonny says as he climbs in.

“Screw you,” Patrick says, still grinning. “You’re just jealous.”

“Really not.” Jonny makes a face. “Still sure you edited your own wiki entry.”

“And the NHL website,” Jessica chimes in. “He gave up half his ‘07 pay for that one.”

“Ha ha,” Patrick says, through everyone’s laughter. “I am not the shortest person here.”

“Actually,” Jackie says, leaning forward. “I’m officially taller than you.”

Jonny snorts and buckles in. Patrick starts the car with a scowl, but he’s not serious about it, shaking his head and grinning softly as they pull out of the driveway.

The ride to the mall is filled with chirping and bickering, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. It’s not that Jonny and David didn’t fight or play around, but he’s not sure they had the same relationship the Kane siblings seem to have, and he’s not quite sure how to deal with that

“Right,” Patrick says, as he pulls into the parking lot. “You know your budget. Please try not to stab, maim and/or kill each other.”

Jonny gives him an incredulous look. “They’re shopping, not going off to war.”

Patrick laughs at him. “Oh, Jonny, Jonny, Jonny.”

The three girls are already climbing out of the car, so Jonny pales a little. “Seriously?”

“Think of it like this. Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux locked in a room for five minutes with one hockey stick.”

Jonny blinks at him. He gets what Patrick is implying, but seriously, he’s sure Erica, Jessica and Jackie would at least fight better than Giroux and Crosby.

“Fair point,” Patrick says, when Jonny mentions it. “Still. That level of resentment if they want the same dress, dude.”

“Great,” Jonny says, wishing he had put up more of a fight with his mother. How underfoot can he possibly be? He’s capable of sitting in the living room, watching TV and not interfering.

“Get your ass out my car, and let’s get this over with.”

Jonny shakes his head, but gets out of the car anyway, making sure to grab his phone from the dash. He’s probably going to want it at some point, especially if he’s being dragged from shop to shop for the rest of the day.

It becomes apparent pretty quickly that Patrick has zero fashion sense, which isn’t a great surprise to Jonny. Seriously, this is a dude that wears a polo shirt and dress pants to someone’s wedding; he is not going to have any fashion sense.

“He’s good with shoes,” Jessica says, in the first shop. “Hopeless with anything from the ankle up.”

Patrick thankfully doesn’t hear her, because he’s arguing with Erica over a yellow strapless dress which even Jonny can admit would look terrible on her.

They’re in their third shop when Jonny starts to thumb through his phone, deciding to review old game tape, because when they start getting back onto the ice, he’s going to want to know where they can improve, and hockey is always calming. Reviewing game film segues into watching Patrick’s goals ,because fuck, Jonny kinda missed some of them when he was out with a concussion, at least the first few weeks. He’s always struck by the way Patrick plays, the speed and the puck handling. He’s always known how good Patrick is, how much better he could be if he would apply himself to some other areas.

He’s replaying one of Patrick’s goals when someone sits down next to him and says, “Watching your boyfriend play hockey?”

Jonny immediately shoves his phone into his pocket and looks up into Jessica’s grinning face. “I’m reviewing.”

“Right,” Jessica says, and he really hates that smug Kane smirk.

Jonny glowers at the dress racks, because he’s pretty sure he shouldn’t glare so forcefully at Jessica.

“He is good,” Jessica admits, sliding closer. “I don’t think I saw that one.”

Jonny frowns and looks at her, trying to judge if this is one of those sibling mocking things that she’s just transferring over to him now that he’s marrying her brother. When she doesn’t move away or stop smiling at him, he pulls his phone back out and replays the goal. “It’s okay.”

“Please,” Jessica says, with all the force of a protective sibling. “He wiped the floor with those assholes.”

Jonny snorts and doesn’t dispute it; she’s not wrong. Patrick’s always been good at skating so fast and handling the puck so well that by the time he’s scored a goal, the other team is left standing there, bemused. It’s why he loves playing on a line with Patrick; while not necessarily getting as many goals as he would like himself, it’s great to see the way the other teams react to their style of play. The fact that it reminds him of the game winning goal at the Stanley Cup final doesn’t hurt.

“You’re supposed to say that, as his sister.”

Jessica laughs. “Like I haven’t heard you gushing about his goals.”

“He’s terrible, I know.” Jessica covers her grin with a hand when Patrick turns around to glare at them.

“What are you two doing?”

“Wondering what you’d look like in one of those dresses,” Jonny says with a skeptical look.

Jessica bursts out laughing as Patrick blinks back at them.

“I could pull it off,” he says eventually, scowling.

Jonny just raises his eyebrows with a grin.

“I hate you.” Patrick turns back to Erica and immediately tells her the colour is wrong. Jonny doesn’t bother disputing him, because Erica is doing enough of that for herself.

Jessica gets up a little later to try on dresses herself, and she comes out of the dressing room in a red dress that Patrick says looks great on her.

“I’m going with the opposite of whatever you say,” Jessica says, and turns to look at herself in the mirror.

Jonny makes a face and puts his phone in his pocket. “You should go with the blue dress.”

“What?” Jessica asks, frowning. “I didn’t try on a blue dress?”

Jonny nods to the dress rack behind her left shoulder.

Erica grabs the dress in question from the end and holds it up. “This one?”

“Yeah.” Jonny shrugs.

Patrick’s looking at him skeptically. “What the hell do you know about dresses?”

“Nothing.”

“Well,” Erica says, diplomatically. “One of you has to have some fashion sense, and it obviously isn’t you, Patty.”

Jessica disappears into the dressing room while Patrick cusses out his sister, taking the dress with her. When she comes out a few moments later, she’s grinning.

“Holy shit,” Patrick says.

Jonny smirks. “See?”

“You look amazing.” Erica guides her into a twirl so that they can see her from every angle.

Jessica looks pleased. “It’s perfect.”

“Do me!” Jackie squeals, coming around Patrick to grab Jonny’s arm. “Which one would look good on me?”

Jonny sends Patrick a panicked look, and only gets a smug smile in response.

“Oh no, I’m not helping you now. This is what you get for dispensing good fashion advice.”

Shit. Jonny sighs as Jackie pulls him up.

He spends the next hour picking out various dresses which the three girls immediately declare perfect and he goes along with it, kind of weirded out, but willing to give them his honest opinion. He can tell that Patrick’s not pleased by this turn of events, if his scowl and constant muttering is anything to go by, but when Jonny throws an arm around his shoulders and pulls him close, he wraps one of his own around Jonny’s waist and leans against him.

“You realise they’re going to request you on every shopping trip now, right?”

Jonny pales. “There’s a reason you’re so terrible at this.”

Patrick laughs. “Dude, when you have three sisters, you learn to play your cards close to your chest.”

“Thanks for the advice,” Jonny says dryly. “A little too late, buddy.”

“Anytime,” Patrick grins. Erica is leading the other two back towards them, arms full of dresses and cardigans and jackets, and they nod at the checkout counter.

“We’re ready,” Jackie says.

“Out with the money, Patty.” Erica kicks his ankle as they pass.

Jessica gives Jonny a smile and says, “Thanks,” to Patrick.

“This is why you’re my favourite, Jessica,” Patrick replies, tugging on Jonny to get him to move. He doesn’t pull away or let go, so Jonny keeps holding him as they walk. “You remember your manners.”

Erica flips him the finger over her shoulder. “Screw you.”

The three girls deposit their purchases on the counter. Jonny’s eyes widen as the amount on the register steadily increases. “Wow.”

“I know, right?” Patrick sighs. “They cost me so much.”

“You love it,” Jonny replies, because he knows it’s a fact. Patrick’s confessed that the best part of having so much money is being able to buy his sisters what they want.

Patrick shrugs and hands over his card. “There are worse things I could buy, I guess.”

---

Jonny finds himself being dragged into a shoe shop next, and is glad when Jackie says, “Patrick, help me pick out some heels!”

Erica grins at Jonny’s confused look. “Patrick’s actually pretty great at shoes. We know where his strengths lie.”

Patrick rolls his eyes. “Jackie, you don’t want high heels, we’re outside.”

Jonny is feeling a little overwhelmed after all the dresses, so he sits off to the side and watches the flats or pumps argument expand to include Erica. Patrick is talking a mile a minute, hands flying everywhere, and Jonny can’t help but be amused. His vehemence over girls footwear is so hilarious, he considers texting Sharpy about it.

Before he can pull out his phone, Jessica drops down next to him, a pair of flats already in her hand.

Jonny looks at her in surprise. “You’re done?”

Jessica smiles wryly at him. “Shoes aren’t big on my list. If we were shopping for bags, however—“

Jonny’s face falls. “We’re not doing that today, right?”

Laughing at the look on his face, Jessica shakes her head. “Relax. We did the bag shopping before you arrived.”

Jonny can’t help the relief at that.

“You’re not enjoying this much, are you?” Jessica asks, as Patrick picks out a pair of flats for Jackie.

Jonny stares at her. “Yes.”

Jessica gives him a look. “Not the wedding,” she says. “I mean this whole shopping thing.”

“I have a brother,” Jonny admits. “We don’t really go dress shopping.”

“Oh my god,” Jessica says, covering her mouth with a hand. She’s laughing, Jonny thinks. He’s surprised that someone other than Patrick actually gets what Sharpy’s called “his confusing and dumb sense of humour”.

“I’m not sure what’s worse,” she says through her laughter. “Picturing you in a dress, or Patrick.”

“Definitely Patrick,” Jonny says, looking up as Patrick holds out a pair of pumps.

“These are not appropriate for the back yard,” he’s saying, gesturing at Erica. “Seriously, flats are much more comfortable.”

“Wear high heels often?” Jonny calls across the room, just to see the way Jessica collapses into giggles next to him.

Patrick calls him an asshole and turns his back on them.

“Oh man, Jonny, are you sure you want to marry him?”

“I don’t know,” Jonny says with a shrug. “Maybe I’m making a mistake. What do you think?”

“I think,” Jessica says, with a wide smile, “you’ve always been good for him.”

Jonny doesn’t quite know what to do with that, so he stares back at Patrick. He thinks how often his mom has said Patrick is good for him and maybe Jessica’s right.

---

The next morning, they’re due to get their wedding license. It’s the only part of this entire wedding that Jonny and Patrick have had any control over and it’s nice to be able to spend some time away from the house and not get swept up in the commotion of the upcoming wedding. They make it downstairs together in time for the tail end of breakfast, taking a seat at the almost empty table.

“You boys want to get a move on if you’re going to get your license,” Donna says, clearing away some of the plates.

Jonny frowns at his watch. “It’s open till four thirty. Why do we have to leave so soon?”

His mom is washing dishes in the sink, and she gives Jonny a look over her shoulder. “If you leave now, you’ll be able to pick up the Sharps from the airport on the way home.”

Jonny shoves his bowl away and turns to face his mother. “They’re not due until the day after tomorrow.”

Andree frowns at him. “We spoke about this, Jonathan. Patrick - not you,” she squeezes Ptrick’s shoulder, “- has agreed to officiate your wedding and marry you on Saturday.”

“Oh god,” Patrick says, dropping his head down on the table. “Tell me this isn’t happening.”

“We told you about this,” Donna says, standing at the end of the table, looking disapprovingly at them. “On the phone a week ago.”

In all fairness, Jonny—and Patrick—tuned out 99.9% of the phone calls they received about the wedding. Obviously, this is Jonny’s penance for not paying attention. He ends up having to have Sharpy officiate his wedding. Leaving Patrick to nod and ask weakly what time the flight is getting in, Jonny scowls down at his phone, as if he can single-handedly glare a hole into the side of Sharpy’s head as he texts him. You’re an asshole. It doesn’t matter that he won’t get it until he’s actually landed. Jonny is pissed off. He is absolutely going to punch Sharpy when he sees him. Well, maybe not punch him considering Abby is frightening when she wants to be. Scowl disapprovingly, maybe.

When it’s clear they’re not getting out of this, and Sharpy is apparently going to actually be the one to marry them, Jonny resigns himself to the next few hours being a rush of clerk offices, signatures and an airport run. Patrick grabs his car keys from the table in the hall and hands them over as soon as they’re outside. Jonny takes them gratefully and tries to shake the bad mood on the way into Buffalo. He concentrates on driving. whilePatrick taps along to the music he puts on, ignoring Jonny’s pointed look,and generally looks pleased.

“You’re happy.”

Patrick shrugs. “You’re not?”

Jonny actually thinks about it for a while. “No, I am.”

He’s not totally surprised to realize that it’s true. Despite the overwhelming activity in the house and his apprehension about how well they’re going to be able to deal with tomorrow, he’s happy. Happier when he sees the look on Patrick’s face. He’s got a soft grin on his face as he looks out of the window, the one that brings out his dimples, and Jonny narrows his eyes as he focuses back on the road. It takes them about half an hour to make it into town, and then to find out exactly where the clerks office is. When they pull into the parking lot, Patrick grabs the birth certificates from the glove box, hastily shoved into their hands before they left the kitchen by Donna. Jonny puts his phone and wallet in his back pocket and locks the car, waiting for Patrick to join him before making their way into the office.

They don’t have to wait too long to be seen, which Jonny’s grateful for. He’s beginning to get a headache, and he really doesn’t want it to blossom into anything more fierce. It would be a fucking kick in the ass to have to suffer a migraine again today. He gets up from the plastic chair and Patrick pats him on the back. “You okay?”

“Great,” Jonny snaps. “Let’s just get this over with.”

Patrick follows him up to the counter and smiles in what he probably thinks is a winning way at the clerk. “Hi. We’ve come to fill out a marriage license?”

The clerk seems unimpressed with Patrick’s expression, and Jonny sympathizes. He waits patiently as they’re handed a form each to fill out and directed to one of the tables. Patrick snatches his paper almost immediately and starts to read it over. “I’m not changing my name.”

“Thank god,” Jonny says, taking the seat across from him. “I’d hate to have you walking around with my surname all over you.”

Patrick looks at him skeptically but thankfully doesn’t say anything, just starts filling in details in his blocky handwriting. Once they’ve filled in the required forms, it’s just a matter of signing their name in the presence of the clerk, and they’re done.

“That was surprisingly quick,” Patrick says, jostling Jonny’s elbow as they leave.

“Thankfully,” Jonny mutters. They approach the car and he unlocks the door, staring at Patrick over the top of the car. “You ready for the mocking we are about to receive?”

“Oh my god, are you using like, wedding par- par- wedding words at me, but in regards to Sharpy, dude?”

“Parlance,” Jonny supplies helpfully and slides into the car. Patrick rolls his eyes and mouths ‘parlance’ back with a face, and it’s ridiculous, but it makes Jonny laugh anyway. He starts the car—and Patrick thankfully chooses a station that isn’t Radio Disney—and they make for the airport. Twenty minutes later, they’re pulling into the parking lot, and Jonny checks Sharpy’s arrival details on his phone.

“We have about a half hour before they land,” he says.

“Coffee?” Patrick asks, opening the door.

They grab a coffee and wait for the Sharps near the arrivals gate, Patrick leaning against Jonny. He’s just looking up at something Jonny’s said when Sharpy comes out of arrivals with Madelyn and Abby. Jonny wonders what he sees; they’re standing really close and Patrick’s still wearing that dumb smile as he talks to Jonny.

There’s an unfamiliar expression on Sharpy’s face, but it’s Abby who says, “Wow, you guys aren’t holding back anymore, are you?”

Maddy squeals when she sees Patrick and waves her arms in his general direction. Abby lets Patrick take her, and Jonny is once again struck by how natural Patrick is with kids. He’s drawn back to Abby’s remark and says, “What?”

“It’s nice to see you being open about you how you feel,” she says, leaning up to kiss Jonny on the cheek.

Sharpy’s giving Jonny a calculated look. “How’s it going?”

“Better if I had known exactly what you were going to be doing,” Jonny says, scowling.

“Aww, Toe-ez,” Sharpy says, grinning because he’s a tool. “You know I do it out of love.”

“Why the hell would you want to marry us?” Patrick asks, making faces at Maddy as he does so.

Sharpy’s grin is almost shark-like. “I get to hold something like this over your heads for the rest of your married life? Fucking gold, Peeks.”

“I hate you,” Jonny says stiffly. Now that his anger is receding, he just feels weird.

Sharpy pulls him into a hug, and says, “I told you it was fine,” into Jonny’s ear.

Jonny relaxes a little after that, rolling his eyes at the way Patrick’s cooing at Maddy and poking her in the stomach, much to her evident delight.

“Thanks for booking us into a hotel,” Abby says, as Jonny takes her suitcase from her.

“Yeah,” Sharpy cuts in. “It would be terrible if we had to hear the wedding night sex.”

“Patrick!” Abby admonishes.

Jonny pauses. Married sex. Jesus. He’d forgotten that anybody would even expect that. When he looks over at Patrick, he has an odd look on his face, like he’s deliberately ignoring Jonny’s gaze.

When they get back out to the car, Sharpy takes one look at the back seat and raises his eyebrows. “Are you sure this isn’t a shotgun wedding?”

Patrick kicks him in the ankle. “I have baby cousins.”

“Sure, Peeks,” Sharpy says, taking Maddy back and belting her into the car seat he brought with him. “Whatever you say.”

Abby climbs into the other side of the backseat and rolls her eyes. “I am so sorry for anything he might say, boys.”

“You should give up apologizing for Sharpy,” Patrick says, getting back into the passenger seat. “Except when we get back to the house, and my family see how he really is. You should apologize then.”

Jonny shuts the trunk and comes back around, hip-checking Sharpy as he climbs into the backseat. “Yeah. Still not sure we should have invited him.”

“You invited Broshie,” Patrick says, with disgust.

“Back up, Peeks,” Sharpy says, leaning forward. “Oshie’s coming to this shindig?”

“Who even says ‘shindig’ anymore,” Jonny snaps, completely ignoring the dig at T.J.

“I do,” Sharpy says. “And don’t avoid the question, Toe-ez. I know you and Oshie are like, drinking buddies or whatever, but to your wedding? Just try not to get arrested.”

“That was one time!” Jonny snaps. “We are not drinking buddies.”

Patrick laughs. “Dude, chill out. He’s trying to make me jealous.”

Abby cuts in. “I think it’s working.”

Patrick scowls but doesn’t say anything, but Jonny feels better, so he feels like it’s a battle well won.

Once the bags are dropped off at the hotel, Jonny drives them back to the house. Donna and Jonny’s mom are there to greet them, welcoming the Sharps with more enthusiasm than Jonny thinks they warrant, but it gives him and Patrick a chance to escape from what is bound to be discussion about their impending marriage. Patrick shows him into the entertainment room—something he left out of his tour on the first day.

“You have a movie theatre in here, Patrick?”

“Eh,” Patrick shrugs, and drops into one of the seats. “This house had like, four TVs before it had a couch.”

“That I believe,” Jonny snorts. He sits in the seat next to Patrick. They don’t even watch anything, just sit there, thinking about the next few days, which are undoubtedly going to be insane. “You ready for this?”

Patrick doesn’t answer for a while, but he is smiling. He tips his head back against the seat and turns to meet Jonny’s gaze. “Who can possibly be ready for a wedding?”

Jonny nods at that.

“But,” he adds, nudging Jonny’s leg with his foot. “Worth it, right?”

Jonny thinks about it, really thinks about it. “Yeah.”

---

If Jonny thought he was overwhelmed before, it’s nothing compared to the day before the wedding. He wakes up, curled around Patrick, to the sound of activity already happening downstairs. He closes his eyes and wills it away, not wanting to get out of bed and have to face it.

“Can we stay here?” Patrick mumbles.

Jonny’s spooned up behind him, tucking him against his body, so he can’t see the expression on Patrick’s face, but he pretty much knows what it is. “Someone will be up if we don’t move.”

Patrick groans. “Seriously. Can it be the day after tomorrow already?”

“Really?” Jonny says, affecting hurt. “You don’t want to experience marrying me?”

Patrick snorts. “You’re a douchebag.”

Jonny shrugs. “You’re still marrying me.”

“Only because,” Patrick says, turning in Jonny’s arms so that they’re facing each other, “if I was to walk out on you now, I think our combined families would kill me.”

“Jonathan!” There’s a knock on the door and his mom’s voice filters through. “You’re doing an airport run in half an hour! You better be up!”

“He is, Andree!” Patrick grins and pokes Jonny in the stomach. Jonny scowls at him.

“Don’t think you get out of it, Patrick. You have a suit fitting this morning!”

“Damn,” Patrick mutters. “Fine. I’m up.”

“Be downstairs in twenty minutes or there’ll be trouble.”

“That’s her serious voice,” Jonny says, as her footsteps disappear down the hall.

“Please,” Patrick says with a look. “Your serious tone has nothing on hers; I know.”

Jonny shoves Patrick out of the bed.

---

He’s downstairs in twenty minutes, leaving Patrick to shower and dress, and immediately feels like he’s walked into a crazy zone. Someone must have already been to the airport, because there are two of Jonny’s cousins in the kitchen, and an unfamiliar guy corralling some children. As he passes, the guy holds out his hand. “John Kane.”

“Jonathan Toews,” Jonny says, and makes a face when John laughs at him. “Habit?”

“It’s fine,” John assures him. “Pleased to meet you, Jonny.”

Jonny nods. “You live with Patrick’s grandpa, right?”

“Uh-huh. He’s in the garden with your dad, I think.”

Jonny snorts. “Mom always says he’s well into his retirement phase,” he jokes, awkwardly.

Thankfully, John laughs. “I better get these kids into the designated play area. Pleased to meet you.”

Jonny nods. A designated play area? Jesus.

He passes his mom on the way to grab his keys and, surprisingly, she looks less harried than he would have expected. “Who am I picking up, Maman?”

“Your aunt and uncle and Madison. They’re staying in the Hamburg Holiday Inn. Drop them off there first and then bring them back here when you’re ready. I programmed it into the GPS in Patrick’s car already.”

Jonny takes the keys she holds out and nods. “Sure.”

She pauses and puts a hand on his arm. “Everything okay?

He smiles at her, as reassuring as he can make it. What he’s feeling has nothing to do with her. “Oui, Maman. Fine.”

It takes about an hour to drive to Buffalo International airport and back to Hamburg. It’s nice to see Madison and her parents again, and he gives perfunctory answers as he focuses on not getting them lost. It’s nice to have something else to focus on, even if most of the questions are wedding related.

Madison asks him if Patrick is a “nice lady”, and Jonny wants to laugh. He explains that Patrick is a boy, and that he plays hockey with Jonny. She grins up at him, unphased, and says, “He gave you the cup?”

Jonny frowns. “Not by himself.”

He ignores the laugh his aunt and uncle share in the back, and focuses on Madison’s cheery face. “Well, I’m sure he’s good, then.”

Jonny pulls into the hotel parking lot and turns back. “You want help?”

“We’re just dropping off the bags, “ his aunt assures him. “Will you stay with Madison?”

Jonny nods and settles back in his seat, letting Madison play with the radio until she’s satisfied. Patrick would find it hilarious that she settles on Radio Disney, but Jonny contents himself with the knowledge that it’s proven fact Patrick listens to the same radio station.

He’s quick to hide it, but Jonny’s driving his car, and the fact that it’s programmed in is damage enough.

He’s totally going to mock Patrick for this when he gets back to the house, and it’s the kind of information that gets him through the ten minute drive back to Patrick’s—his? their?—house.

Patrick’s still hanging around, even though Jonny knows he has his suit fitting in about an hour, and is a little surprised when he’s barely out of the car before Patrick’s tugging him around the corner of the house, to a secluded spot.

“I’m not sure we have time to make out,” Jonny says, with a smug grin.

“Oh shut up,” Patrick says. “I think everyone’s gone crazy. I just had to hand roll pastry for sausage rolls, Jonny. Hand. Roll.

“Don’t be such a drama queen,” Jonny admonishes. “Seriously, Patrick. This is not the worst thing you have ever done. Just imagine the pastry is Kesler’s face.”

Patrick takes a moment to think about that. “Damn. That would have been good.”

“As good as Radio Disney?”

“Oh fuck”, Patrick says, eyes wide. “Shit, did you drive my car?”

Jonny just grins. “Mom gave me the keys. I just drove. And Madison found your dirty little secret.”

“It’s not dirty but it is a secret. Please don’t tell Sharpy about this.”

“I’m hurt that you don’t think I can mock as well as Sharpy, Kaner.”

Patrick glares at him. “I have just as much dirt on you, you idiot.”

Before Jonny can reply, Donna is striding around the corner. She gives them both a glare, and Jonny holds up his hands. “I just got back. Patrick’s the one lamenting his pastry rolling.”

Patrick glowers at him. “You’re dead.”

You are,” Donna corrects. “Unless you get your skinny butt to your suit fitting.”

“Fine,” Patrick says, flipping Jonny the bird and walking away. Jonny doesn’t laugh, but only because Donna is still standing there, watching him.

“Um.”

“When are the guys arriving?”

Jonny runs through his mental list. “Duncs and Seabs got in last night and made their own way to the hotel. Sam and T.J. are due this evening.”

“Great,” Donna says. “You okay to help with some food prep?”

No. Jonny really, really isn’t. “Sure?”

Jonny manages to escape the hell that is Patrick’s kitchen, and goes to find his brother. David has someone managed to escape their mother’s endless job list, and is sitting in the den with Patrick’s grandpa Donald and some of the kids. “You wanna get out of here?”

David looks up. “Where?”

“Fishing or whatever?”

“Sure.”

Patrick’s grandpa winks at Jonny. “Your secret’s safe with me, son.”

“Thanks,” Jonny says with a smile. “You okay in here?”

“I got the kids,” Donald says. “Go have some last minute fun. If Donna catches you—“

Jonny winces. “I can imagine.”

Jonny and David leave the house together. David nudges him.

“For real though, you okay?”

Jonny shrugs. “I’m about to get married to Patrick Kane.”

David grins. “Well, I didn’t ask if you were sane, just if you were alright.”

“Fuck you,” Jonny says. “I have no idea where Patrick keeps his fishing shit.”

David shrugs. “We could go back in the house and look for it?”

Jonny doesn’t like the idea of that at all. “You can.”

“Hell no,” David says with feeling. “It’s crazy in there. Mom and Patrick’s mom are more intense than you during the playoffs.”

“Whatever. That’s a good intense. Mom is just—“

“What am I, Jonathan?”

Jonathan turns and gives his mother a tense smile. “We were just—“

“Oh, I know what you were ‘just’. Hoping to escape into Lake Erie?”

“Well,” David says. Jonny thinks he’s brave to face down their mother when she’s got that face on. “We were going to fish for dinner?”

Their mom doesn’t buy it for a second. It’s a pretty lame excuse, even for David, who was never all that good at excuses.

Jonny sighs. “It’s overwhelming, Maman.”

“I know that, Jonathan,” she says, softening a little. “You don’t think your boy is freaking out as well?”

“You wouldn’t think it,” David mutters.

He has a point; apart from his little pastry freak out, Patrick has taken this wedding in stride. The few days they’ve been here, he’s been busy helping everywhere. Jonny thinks that if he’d been put to work looking after the kids or even entertaining the families, he’d have been in his element.

“What do you want us to do?” Jonny asks.

“David, I need you to go and help your father set up the tent. Pat’s already around there with John and your uncles.”

David nods and with one last commiserating look at Jonny, he leaves.

“Now,” Jonny’s mom says. She grabs his arms and looks up at him. “You need to act like the man I know you are, Jonathan, and accept that this is what’s happening.”

You don’t think I am?” Jonathan asks, switching to French.

I know you weren’t prepared for it to happen this quickly,” she says, insightful as always. “I wish you had more time to acclimatize, but this is the way it is.”

Jonny looks over her shoulder at the house and the activity he knows is going on around it. “I’ll be fine. It’s not as if I’m sorry it’s happening.”

His mom smiles softly. “I am proud of you, sweetheart.

Jonny ducks his head, uncomfortable. “I’m not doing anything.

His mom touches his cheek and squeezes his arm. “You’re making Patrick happy.

He is? Jonny hasn’t really taken the time to assess how Patrick feels beyond the nervousness. He thanks his mom, and lets her lead them back to the house.

---

When he gets there, he settles in helping move some of the chairs from the bedrooms down to the den so that there’s enough room for everyone. He’s glad this house is so large; it would feel way more claustrophobic if it was any smaller.

When Patrick gets back from his suit fitting, Jonny takes the suit from his hands immediately, knowing Patrick’s propensity for creasing, and carries it upstairs. Patrick follows and stands in the doorway, watching Jonny hang it up. “It’s a little crazy, huh?”

“Yeah,” Jonny says. He gives Patrick the once over, and he does look happier to be in Buffalo than he did back home. Jonny isn’t sure how right his mom is—and how much of it is just that Patrick is back home.

He shoves Patrick around and back out the door. “Come on, Kaner. Let’s put you back to work.”

“You have to do something too!”

They help out for a little while longer, going where directed and helping out with whatever needs to be done. Eventually, they manage to escape to the kitchen, which is thankfully empty, and grab some food for lunch.

Donna and Andree come in while they’re making sandwiches. “Duncan, Brent and their wives arrived while you were helping to sort out the back yard. They’re all out in the den with the rest of the guys.”

“Great,” Patrick says, through a mouthful of sandwich. Jonny rolls his eyes and kicks him under the table. “Ow! Fine, I’ll swallow.”

Jonny smirks. “Yeah?”

“Oh fuck off.”

Donna and Andree sit down with them at the table, looking happy but exhausted.

“How’s it going?” Jonny asks.

“There’s still a lot to do,” Donna admits. “But it’s all coming together okay.”

“Good,” Patrick says. “You know, uh, thanks for doing this for us?”

Jonny nods. “We appreciate it.”

“Left in your hands,” Jonny’s mom says. “I doubt it would have been half the occasion.”

“There’s nothing wrong with a quick service,” Jonny puts in. Seriously, he is still not okay with this thing. “What’s happening tomorrow, anyway?”

“You’re getting married down by the lake,” Donna says. “There’s a tent up for food, and in case it rains. But the weather looks good.”

Patrick shrugs. “I think it’s awesome.”

“It is,” Jonny agrees, because their moms have done great.

“We want you to be happy,” Jonny’s mom says.

Jonny and Patrick exchange looks—and smiles. “We are.”

They spend that evening in the den, packed out with family and friends alike. Everyone is mingling well, so Jonny retreats to the backyard, where David’s having a few drinks with Sharpy.

“Hey guys,” Jonny drops into one of the chairs set up on the deck.

“Ready for this wedding tomorrow, Toe-ez?”

David snorts the nickname and takes a drink from his beer.

Jonny rolls his eyes. “Yes.”

“Looks more understated than I was expecting,” Sharpy points out, gesturing at the tent and decorations lining the backyard.

Jonny gets what he means; even with the combined might of his mother and Donna, it’s just less than he would have imagined.

David shrugs. “Yeah, that’s Patrick.”

“What?” Jonny asks. What the hell?

Sharpy’s looking interested with whatever David has to say. David ducks his head.

“Well. I wasn’t actually supposed—“

“David,” Jonny presses. “What are you talking about?”

David looks at Jonny’s face, and obviously takes whatever he sees there seriously. “Look, Patrick asked Erica and Mom to take it easy, you know? He knew you wouldn’t want it to be crazy or whatever.”

Jonny’s kind of touched at that. Sharpy’s looking like all of his Christmases have just come at once, and fuck that. “Not a word,” Jonny says. “Don’t think about it, Sharpy.”

“Toe-ez, I’m hurt you would think that I would.”

“Good,” David interjects. “Seriously, I don’t think he wanted anyone to know.”

“It’s so sweet of him,” Sharpy says, his tone belying the expression on his face. He is absolutely going to mock Patrick for this—and it’s one thing Jonny doesn’t want him to be mocked for.

“Don’t,” Jonny says, his voice low.

Sharpy raises an eyebrow but it only takes a moment before he nods. “Sure, Jonny.”

---

Things wind down eventually, and Jonny and Patrick get out of hotel runs, since they’re getting married in the morning. They escape upstairs to the master bedroom, Patrick sprawled out and watching Jonny sort out their suits for the morning.

He’s flicking through the TV channels but he’s not really paying attention, content to mock Jonny for being so preoccupied with creases. “Seriously,” He’s says. “There is an iron in this house. I think.”

Jonny rolls his eyes. “If you didn’t insist on rolling your clothes into balls and shoving them into your suitcase, you wouldn’t need the iron you only think you have.”

Patrick screws up his nose and shrugs. “Whatever. I always look great.”

“Sure.”

“Hey!” Patrick pouts. “Why are you being so mean to me?”

Jonny actually folds Patrick’s clothes and starts putting them in the drawers and hanging them up. “I don’t know, maybe I’ll feel bad mocking my husband, so I’m getting it all out.”

“Ha ha. As if you’ll ever feel bad about mocking me,” Patrick says, sticking his tongue out.

“You’re such a child,” Jonny says, sighing. “Why do I even put up with you?”

“Because I’m amazing?”

Jonny looks back over his shoulder. Patrick’s giving him his best sultry look, and it just ends up making him look like a creeper. “Never make that face again.”

“Screw you,” Patrick says. “This face has gotten me laid.”

“What, once?”

“Hatred,” Patrick says. “Absolute hatred for you.”

Jonny just turns back to the clothes.

There’s a knock on the door and Donna peers her head in. “Patrick! Out you come.”

Jonny and Patrick stare at her. “Um, why?”

“You can’t share a room on the night of your wedding!”

Patrick pulls a face. “But mom—“

“Out!” She stands in the doorway, hands on her hips.

“I’m not the bride,” Patrick grumbles. “It’s not like Jonny’s going to spontaneously combust if he sees me before the wedding.” He goes anyway, blowing Jonny a kiss like a tool. “Bye, lover!”

“Fuck off, Patrick,” Jonny says, and then apologises to Donna. She just shakes her head, and Jonny sees his mom standing behind her. “Maman.”

Donna leaves them in peace, and Jonny’s mom stands in the doorway, looking at him folding Patrick’s clothes with raised eyebrows.

“They crease?” He’s not used to having to defend his actions with his mom, but something makes him want to.

“You think I don’t still fold your fathers clothes?”

Jonny really wishes she’d stop comparing him and Patrick to her and his father. That’s what got him into this mess in the first place.

“Tomorrow is a big day.”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, and pushes the empty suitcase into the corner of the room. “It’ll be fine.”

“Only fine?”

“I mean, obviously it will be amazing, with the effort—“

“I was kidding, sweetheart,” his mom says. She crosses the room to the bed, to where Jonny’s still got the vow-engraved hockey stick. “What’s this?”

“Um.” Jonny sighs. Not able to get out of it, he’s totally going to have to explain. “When you said we had to write vows, Patrick and I got into a competition.”

“Of course you did.” His mom holds the still-packaged stick in her hands. “I shouldn’t be as surprised as I am that you chose to engrave them on hockey sticks.”

They’re interrupted when Jessica pokes her head in to say, “Patrick says do you have his charger?”

“Oh my god,” Jonny mutters. “I already told him where it was and he took it out.”

“Oh,” Jessica says. She catches sight of the hockey stick. “What’s that?”

Jonny debates whether or no to tell her, because she’s still Patrick’s sister. His mom just gives him a soft smile and pats his arm. “I’ll leave you to decide this one. See you in the morning, darling.”

Goodnight, Maman.”

Jessica is still hovering in the doorway, so Jonny shrugs. “It’s my vows.”

Frowning, Jessica gestures at the stick. “On a hockey stick.”

While Jonny explains the completely valid explanation, despite the look of incredulity on her face, he watches her unwrap it, surprisingly not annoyed that she’s doing it.

“Can I carry it for you?”

Jonny pauses. He’s not sure what they were going to do with them, but now that he thinks about it, it would be nice to have someone else carry it for him. “Sure.”

“Sweet,” Jessica says, sounding way too much like her brother. She turns the stick in her hands, reading down the handle. Jonny’s a little uncomfortable that she’s seeing what he wrote about Patrick laid bare, but then she freezes, and starts to get that look that Patrick gets when he’s about to cry. Why is she crying?

“Are you okay?”

Jessica nods, swallowing. “This is so—Jonny.”

Jonny stares at her. “What?”

“If I—“ She cuts herself off and holds the stick almost reverently. She meets his gaze slowly, and he doesn’t know what the expression on her face means. “This is perfect.”

“I just—“ Jonny shrugs. “I’m just telling the truth.”

To his surprise, Jessica lays the stick on the bed and walks over to hug him, tighter than he’s expecting. When she pulls away, she looks him in the eye, serious. “If I could have a boyfriend that loves me the way you love Patrick, I would be set for life.”

She pulls away and leaves rubbing at her face Jonny is stunned, staring down at the hockey stick in surprise and confusion. He wrote this shit to make Patrick cry, to win a stupid bet. He’s not sure what about it makes it so perfect to Jessica, but he can’t stop thinking about it, even when he climbs into bed a few hours later, feeling weird and uncomfortable without Patrick in the bed with him.

---

Patrick wakes up in the morning, feeling a little off because the bed beside him is empty and unfamiliar. He shakes it off, staring at the suit hanging up on the front of the closet. It’s not creased, whatever Jonny says about the way he hangs his clothes, and he grins. He’s going to look fucking amazing, and screw Jonny anyway. He turns over to look at the time and groans. It’s not even 7, even though he’s sure his mom is going to be walking into his room in like, ten minutes and pulling him out of bed. He pulls his phone out from under his pillow and shoots off a text to Jonny.

You awake

He doesn’t have to wait long for a reply, thankfully.

i am now.

Patrick doesn’t know what to say now that’s he actually woken Jonny up, which is probably a lie because Jonny turns his phone off when he sleeps. There’s a reason Patrick’s always been the one to get them both out of bed and downstairs to the coach when they’re on the road.

Don’t tell me you’re nervous?

as if. are you though?

Instead of texting back, Jonny calls Patrick instead. “Morning, lover.”

“Stop calling me that,” Jonny says. “Why would I be nervous?”

“Um, I don’t know, because we’re getting married.” Patrick shoves his free hand back under the pillow, staring at the wall opposite his bed. The room is kinda empty in here and, he thinks, of course Jonny gets the master bedroom while he’s relegated to the guest room in his own house.

Jonny makes an assenting noise. The silence drags on, but it’s not uncomfortable. “This house is ours now, right?”

There’s a long pause while Patrick tries to figure out where that came from. “What?”

“I mean,” Jonny says, still sounding a little sleepy and distracted. “We’re getting married, so what’s yours is mine.”

Patrick snorts. “Figures this would be some possessive thing you have going on.”

“I’m not possessive,” Jonny says almost immediately.

“Right.” Patrick rolls his eyes. “These are just the things you think about when you first wake up?”

“Your house is empty. It should have shit in it, Patrick.”

Patrick sighs and turns, splaying out across the bed. “It’s a great house, screw you. We have enough chairs for this wedding. I’d say I’m pretty great at putting shit in my house.”

Jonny grunts. “You have chairs. Congratulations, Kaner.”

“Oh whatever. Yes, asshole, this house is ours now. But this means I get to drive your car whenever I feel like it.”

“Uh, no,” Jonny snaps. “Not on your life.”

Patrick pulls a face, even though Jonny can’t see it. “So this sharing only goes one way?”

“No,” Jonny says slowly, drawing the word out. “It does. Just not my car.”

“You’re the worst,” Patrick laughs. “Fine, dude. Get your lazy ass out of bed.”

There’s rustling on the end of the phone. “Yeah, like you’re even up.”

Patrick grins. “I’m moving now.”

“Liar. I can’t even hear any rustling.”

“Oh my god,” Patrick says, kicking off the covers and sliding out of bed. “There? Did you hear my feet hit the floor?”

“You’re an asshole,” Jonny informs him.

“An asshole you’re marrying,” Patrick replies sweetly and hangs up.

He spends a long time in the shower, standing under the spray and trying to pretend that he’s not about to get married in a few hours. He wonders how long it would take someone to realize he was missing if he chose to just stay in the shower all day and not come out. Jonny would never let that happen, he guesses, and shuts off the shower. He pulls on some sweats and a t-shirt because he doesn’t want to wear his suit before it’s necessary, and makes his way downstairs to the kitchen. The house is eerily quiet compared to what was going on yesterday, and it’s a welcome relief to be the only one in the kitchen. There’s noise on the stairs, and Patrick peers around the doorjamb to see Broshie scratching the back of his head and yawning. Great.

“Hey, Br-Oshie.”

Broshie looks up in surprise. “Hey Kaner.”

Patrick supposes he should be polite for Jonny’s sake, but he really doesn’t want to be. “What the hell are you doing in my house, dude?”

It’s Oshie. “Uh, your mom said it would be okay?”

 

Patrick scowls into his mug. Did she? Well. It was probably Jonny, buttering up his mom like they’re best friends or whatever. Nobody bothered to ask him if it’s okay for Broshie to stay in his house or anything. There’s an awkward pause, which Patrick figures he should break. “How’s it going?”

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” Broshie asks, taking a seat at the breakfast bar.

Patrick wonders if he should maybe refer to Broshie as T.J. in his head, and if it would stop him not-so-accidentally calling him Broshie out loud. He gets up to make him a cup of coffee anyway, because his mom raised him to be a polite host. “Who’d be nervous about marrying Jonny?”

Broshie raises an eyebrow and takes the proffered cup. “Thanks, dude.” He shrugs. “Maybe someone who’s like, in love with him?”

Patrick leans against the counter and raises an eyebrow.

“And yet I’m not nervous?”

“Maybe you’re doing it wrong,” T.J. says. “If I remember right, being in love with Jonny is nerve-wracking all by itself.”

Patrick freezes. What. The fuck. “What the fuck?”

T.J. doesn’t look embarrassed by the admission, just smirks a little. “Oh? Sorry, did I say that?”

“Fuck you, Broshie,” Patrick snaps and leans forward, poking a finger at T.J.. “’If I remember right’?! You were in love with Jonny?”

T.J.’s smile is surprisingly less douchey than it usually is. “I said—“

“Are you in love with him now?” Patrick asks, talking right over him. “Are you-“

“No.” T.J. doesn’t even hesitate with the answer. “I mean, it was a long time ago, Kaner. And no, not gay. More - open to my options”

Patrick blinks at him. T.J. was in love with Jonny and he’s open, what the fuck does that mean? This is some trippy shit. “So when?”

“North Dakota,” T.J. says, like it should be obvious. “He was different at college, man.”

“You’re not really giving me a lot here, dude.”

T.J. raises an eyebrow. “You want the history of my attraction to Jonathan Toews?”

“Fuck you,” Patrick snaps. “You can’t just—what the fuck happened?”

T.J. leans back in the chair, starts playing with the edge of the placemats on the table. “Jonny not being into dudes?”

Patrick frowns. That doesn’t—what? “You say something to him?”

Searching Patrick’s face, T.J. eventually shrugs. “I hit on him a couple of times. He just brushed it off, you know? I assumed that was how Jonny did it when he didn’t wanna let you down or whatever; act like it never happened. I’d seen it before with a couple of girls who wanted to date him. So I just stopped.”

Exhaling slowly, Patrick just stares at the floor. It sounds different coming from T.J. Patrick’s getting married later today, to Jonny. Jonny who, apparently, deals with rejection by pretending nothing’s wrong. It goes some way to explaining some of his actions, and that just makes Patrick feel worse. He can’t say that to T.J., so he shrugs and says, “Sorry, man.”

“Fuck that,” T.J. says. “I’m not pining.”

Patrick snorts. Whatever, he can tell it still bothers T.J. from the way he’s not meeting Patrick’s eyes. Not that it’s any of his business.

They sit in an oddly companionable silence, and then T.J. says, “You making food?”

“That depends on whether or not you’re going to eat it all.”

“That happened one time,” T.J. protests. “It’s not my fault you make sweet scrambled eggs, you know? Besides, Jonny said you were out all day.”

Patrick scowls. “I’d just made eggs! Why would I be going out if I literally just cooked eggs?”

“Sorry?” T.J. just grins. “I mean, people will be down soon, pretty sure they should have something to eat.”

Patrick pulls a face. “It’s my wedding. People should be making me breakfast.”

He needs to stop saying that. Every time he thinks about it like that, like an actual thing he’s doing with Jonny, he gets a tight feeling in his chest and wants to die. He’s going to be fucking married to Jonathan Toews in a couple of hours. He really doesn’t want to hyperventilate in a kitchen with T.J. fucking Oshie, so he shuts down the part of his brain that’s going crazy and sighs, reaching into the refrigerator for the eggs.

He’s halfway through cooking when his mom comes into the kitchen. “Morning boys. Patrick! Why are you cooking? You should be getting dressed.”

“Mom,” Patrick whines, pushing the eggs around the pan. “It’s like, 7:30. The wedding isn’t until lunchtime.”

His mom stares at him past the point of comfort, but he hunches over the pan and focuses on the eggs. Maybe if he doesn’t look at her she’ll go away. “So you thought it was a good idea to cook eggs for breakfast?”

“That was me, Mrs. Kane,” Oshie offers. Patrick’s lip twitches, but he focuses back on the pan. “I asked.”

“Oh. Well, okay.”

What? “What?” Patrick asks. “You’re not mad?”

His mom just looks amused. “Why would I be? It’s nice to see you actually thinking of our guests, Patrick.”

Oshie’s giving him a shit-eating grin, and Patrick takes his frustration out on the eggs instead of punching Oshie in the face like he wants to. Jonny will have to deal with it; they’re just never going to get along.

---

As more people start to come downstairs, Patrick is ushered back to his room and told to actually get ready. People filter in and out of the room all day as he’s pulling on his suit. His mom comes by to grumble and readjust something she doesn’t like, his sisters come in to squeal and run out again, like they’ve regressed to three-year-olds, and his dad comes in just after. The two of them stand there for a long time, his dad looking prouder than he did at the NHL draft, which, fuck, and the hug that follows ends up with his dad crying and Patrick starting right after. When he’s finally left alone, he stands in front of the mirror and allows himself the chance to hyperventilate a little bit.

He’s resolved to never open his door again, when there’s a knock and Jonny’s voice comes in. “You in there?”

Patrick wrenches open the door and pulls Jonny inside. Jonny looks—fucking great, actually, and Patrick stares at him. “Uh. Hi.”

Jonny stares down at himself. “What? Is something wrong?”

“No,” Patrick grins, wryly. “You look good, dude.”

“Oh.” Jonny gestures at Patrick. “You, uh. Yeah, and you.”

Patrick will never not be amused by Jonny’s inability to say anything the right way. “You freaking out?”

Jonny shrugs and stands there awkwardly, hands in his pockets. “I wish it was over.”

“Of course you do.” Patrick says, sitting on the edge of his bed and playing with the cuffs of his shirt. “Well. Pretty soon, we’ll be married, and we can run away back to Chicago and forget this day ever happened.”

Giving him a funny look, Jonny crosses the room to sit down next to him. “Do you want to? Forget it ever happened?”

Patrick shakes his head. “Not the part where we, you know—” get married “—but the part where everyone’s here and it’s crazy? That part, yeah.”

Jonny grins and nudges his shoulder. “I guess we could think of it as a hockey game.”

It would be hilarious, how often Jonny applies hockey to his everyday life, if Patrick was any different. “I’m not sure you can win at weddings, Jonny.”

“We could,” Jonny says, confidently. He rests his hand awkwardly on Patrick’s knee. Taking a deep breath, and really hoping Jonny doesn’t pull away, Patrick rests his own on top of it and nods.

“Yeah, we could.”

The moment is interrupted by voices coming down the hall, and before they can move apart, Andree is in the room and pointing at Jonny. “You, out.”

Jonny throws a look at Patrick and does as she commands, ducking behind her and out of the room. Patrick gives Andree a sheepish smile. “Morning.”

Andree doesn’t look impressed for a moment, but then her face softens and she pats Patrick’s cheek. “Not long now.”

Patrick doesn’t trust himself to speak, so he just nods.

“You want anything?”

“A drink?” Patrick asks hopefully, and then realizes that might not go down well at all.

Thankfully, Andree just laughs. “After the ceremony.”

They’ve handled pretty much every other aspect of this wedding in the best way, so Patrick’s content that it’ll go off without a hitch. “Great.”

“It’ll be fine,” Andree says.

---

Just before they’re due to go downstairs, and Patrick’s getting antsy now that he can hear everyone arriving and filing out into the backyard, Jackie and Erica come into the room. Patrick frowns. “Where’s Jessica?”

“She’s in with Jonny,” Erica says, and gives him a look when he opens his mouth to say something about that. “She wants to be there for him. He has David and Jessica, you have us.”

Patrick’s kinda conflicted about Jonny’s relationship with his sisters. On the one hand, he has the brother-protectiveness issues he’s always had with anyone getting to know his sisters, but on the other, he’s really glad they get along. They’ve met before anyway, but if they can’t get along better now that they’re part of the same family, it would kill Patrick just a little bit. “Cool. You have the ring?”

“Yep,” Erica says, showing him the box and stowing it away in her purse.

Jackie holds up the stick. “And I have this.”

“Great,” Patrick says, putting his arm around Jackie’s shoulders and squeezing. She wasn’t lying about being almost taller than him, he’s dismayed to realize. “Let’s do this, huh?”

Both sets of parents are going to be waiting outside, with the other guests, and Patrick’s glad they won’t have to see him like this, visibly nervous and feeling like he’s going to go insane at any moment. It’s like the moment before a shootout, wrecked and convinced you’re going to fail. When he steps out onto the landing and Jonny’s already waiting, he feels some of the tension leave. He can do this if Jonny can. Jonny gives him a tight smile and, when they’re standing next to each other, pulls Patrick into a hug.

“You got this.”

Patrick nods. “Don’t crease my suit, dude.”

Jonny laughs and pulls away. “Come on, Kaner.”

Jessica’s standing behind Jonny with David, grinning as she holds Jonny’s stick. Patrick wonders if he can like, sneak a look and see if he can see what it says, but Jonny’s already got a hand on the small of his back and they’re walking down the stairs. The door to the backyard is open and decorated with the same flowers as the ones lining the garden—flowers—and Patrick tries not to feel like he’s going to pass out before they even make it to where Sharpy is no doubt waiting with a grin on his face. Patrick leans against Jonny in a way that’s probably way too heavy, but Jonny goes with it, keeping his hand on Patrick’s back as they move out into the garden.

It looks fucking amazing. Patrick isn’t all that sold on the flowers, but the tent and the chairs have been set up in two columns, with an aisle between them. The families are mingled, Toews and Kanes alike on both side, and Patrick gives his grandpa a thumbs up as he passes. Jonny snorts softly in his ear but Patrick knows he’s totally soft when he returns Madison’s wave with one of his own. He’s such a giant softy for kids, it makes Patrick’s chest tighten sometimes. Oshie and Sam are hanging out a few rows back, grinning like morons, and Duncs, Seabs and Kelly-Rae, Dayna and Abby are up at the front with his and Jonny’s parents, all of them smiling. Patrick’s mom is already clutching tissues, Jesus. Patrick lets Jonny guide them all the way up between the chairs, to where Sharpy is waiting with a grin, but it’s not his usual one. It’s almost soft and gross, and Patrick wants to tell him to cut it the fuck out, but he’s kind of overwhelmed himself. He and Jonny stand next to each other, Erica and Jackie coming around to Patrick’s left, David and Jessica moving to Jonny’s right.

Patrick looks up at Jonny with his heart in his throat, rubbing his palms down his sides because fuck, he feels nervous all of a sudden. He wants to keep telling himself this is a lie because it is, a farce of a marriage because he wants hockey, but the expression on Jonny’s face - tight and uncomfortable but with the smile he keeps for Patrick just coming through - makes him rrealize he’s no the only one thinking like this. If Jonny can do it, Patrick can. He smiles back, as wide and happy as he can because this is what he wants, exactly what he wants and, fuck it, he’s going to take it.

“I’ve known these guys a long time,” Sharpy says, his voice crisp and clear. “Since they were wet-behind-the ears rookies and convinced they were going to make things happen for the Blackhawks.”

Patrick smirks. Yeah, they totally fucking did. From the smug look on Jonny’s face, he’s thinking the same thing.

Sharpy’s grin sharpens. “They may have egos the size of Lake Toews,” because of course he makes a dig about that because he’s awesome, “but they’ve earned it. They took our team to the 2010 Stanley cup playoffs—not without a little help from myself, and all the other boys.” A laugh runs through those gathered and Patrick grins. Jonny’s rolling his eyes. “It’s been five years since they came to Chicago and, I have to admit, it’s been a little intense at times. They fight like they hate each other, but then they come out the other side like nothing’s happened. I gotta admit, their relationship was confusing a lot of the time.”

Patrick pulls a face at Jonny, who shakes his head. He reaches out, grabs Patrick’s hand and Patrick’s eyes widen in response. He thinks about everyone looking at them and guesses it’s gotta be something to do with that.

“I know better now, of course. Being together for that long, knowing each other so well and growing into their relationship to where they are now, has been an experience, but one that I’d never change. These guys are forever.”

Patrick frowns a little at Jonny, who’s looking back, brow furrowed. He’s not sure what the hell Sharpy’s talking about, but when he glances back at the rows of chairs, there are very few dry eyes. Nobody looks uncomfortable, which is good, not even Oshie and Gags.

“I’m assuming these hockey sticks mean you’ve gone above and beyond with your vows,” Sharpy says, dryly.

Jonny throws him a glare and there’s another laugh. “We have.”

Jessica steps up behind Jonny and hands him the hockey stick. “I know you’re supposed to say this, so here goes, I guess.” Patrick’s palms are sweaty again, but he ignores them as Jonny stares at him, eyes dark and intense, like they usually are, but with a hint of a challenge. Patrick swallows as he looks at the stick, which is red and black with the Blackhawks crest emblazoned on the top in gold. Patrick reaches out to run his thumb over the feathers and then pulls back as Jonny turns the stick in his hands, reading out loud. “Patrick, you are an amazing hockey player.”

He pauses and Patrick has to smirk at that, but Jonny keeps reading, and Patrick feels his throat constrict with every word, his heart pound in his chest as Jonny runs his fingers over the engraving. “But more importantly, you make me a better person. Everyone knows we fight—our fights have been publicly mocked.” Patrick snorts, and there are a few laughs. Patrick also notes a few sniffs and yeah, this is fucking awful. He doesn’t want to cry but jesus, Jonny. “But you and I know that we come out better, and so much stronger, and I’m lucky—” Jonny pauses, his voice catching on the words. Patrick blinks furiously. “—to have someone who will fight me; someone who will not just back down and let me win, who will tell me when I’m wrong.” Fuck, Patrick’s crying and god, he doesn’t want to be but Jesus, Jesus. “And show me how it can be done differently. And that’s you. It will always be you.” Patrick swallows, and sees a bit more text on the head of the stick and he closes his eyes, has to gather himself but Jonny keeps talking. “I don’t know where I end,” he says. “And where you begin.”

There’s a hushed silence. Patrick isn’t sure what to fucking say. He looks up to see Jonny staring at him, half-smirk in place, but also something else, something new. Not shock, but surprise maybe. “Jesus, Jonny.”

Sharpy coughs, and Patrick turns to see even he looks a little wet-eyed. “You uh, you ready, Pat?”

Jackie steps up, a hand on Patrick’s back as she hands him Jonny’s stick. Jonny is still holding his own in a white knuckled-grip, one of the first visible signs that he’s taking this as hard as Patrick, but he gives Jonny a smile. “I’m gonna make you cry now, asshole.”

The laugh from that peters out as Jonny looks the stick over. The design is Blackhawks related, the red, black and white of their team colors, but but there’s a gold maple leaf at the top. Jonny’s smile goes soft and weird as he looks it over. “I thought you hated all things Canadian.”

“Well,” Patrick offers. “Obviously not all things.”

Jonny gives him a sharp, calculated look but nods. He runs his hands over his stick for Patrick as Patrick starts to read, his voice low. “Jonny; you are not the easiest person to care for.” He gets a raised eyebrow but Patrick ignores him and keeps going. “Your constant, ridiculously high expectations are frustrating sometimes, but they make me better.” Jonny looks uncomfortable, like this is the worst thing he has ever had to listen to. “Your relentless want to make me better is everything.” He gets another, searching look for that. “It doesn’t matter how anyone else looks at me, because if I have your respect—if you think I’m worth it, Jonny, then that’s all I’ll ever need.” There’s a long silence, and Patrick meets Jonny’s gaze steadily. He means every fucking word. “You always seem to have complete and utter faith in me, that I can be the kind of person you deserve.”

There’s obvious crying from their families, now, and Patrick’s tearing up again at his own words, Jesus. Jonny shakes his head, and Patrick continues. “And I don’t think I live up to that sometimes,” Jonny glares down at Patrick’s stick, as if it’s personally offended him. “But you make me want to. Because making you happy—that’s all I want. I want to be the person who can make you smile—not that stupid half-smirk or your media smile that’s always too tight—but the dumb, ridiculous one.” Jonny snorts and Patrick gives him a dumb look in return. “The ridiculous one where your eyes wrinkle but are still so wide, and your mouth goes crooked, but not smirky. That smile is mine, and being able to do that is better than hockey.” Patrick’s voice catches on the word, but the look Jonny gives Patrick is—it’s wrecked. He swallows visibly and Patrick blinks in return. “Better than a Stanley Cup, an Olympic silver medal and a Calder trophy all together. You’re worth more to me than hockey.”

Jonny holds his hand out and Patrick gives him the stick, takes his own in return. They stare at each other for a long time before Jonny says, “Yeah?”

Patrick nods, still fucking crying but whatever, he can totally do this. “Yeah.”

There’s a lot of white noise as Patrick looks up at Jonny, Sharpy’s saying something but he’s caught in this moment, right until Erica steps forward with his ring for Jonny. Patrick starts, hands over the hockey stick when she prompts him for it, and takes the ring. Jonny has already switched with David, and they take a step closer, Jonny clutching Patrick’s left hand, bringing it up between.

Sharpy doesn’t embellish the rest of the ceremony. Turning to Patrick, he says, “Do you, Patrick Timothy Kane Jr., take Jonathan Bryan Toews as your husband?”

“Yeah,” Patrick says, choking on it. “I mean yes, I do.”

He takes the ring from Erica and slide it onto Jonny’s finger. He tries to ignore how much his hands are shaking. Jonny is, as always, unnervingly calm.

“Do you,” Sharpy says, turning to Jonny. “Jonathan Bryan Toews, take Patrick Timothy Kane Jr. as your husband?”

“I do,” Jonny says, his voice loud and clear but there’s an odd note to it, awed almost, and Patrick watches the ring slide onto his finger, feels his chest and stomach tighten. “Hey.”

Patrick looks up.

“Breathe.”

Huffing out a laugh, Patrick laughs.

“I declare you husbands. You can—”

“Kiss me, asshole,” Patrick says, wanting it more than anything. Jonny cups the back of his head, pulls him up and kisses him, lips dry but so fucking perfect. He smells of aftershave and shampoo and something inherently Jonny and Patrick drinks it in, hearing nothing but white noise and the soft, contented noises Jonny’s making against his mouth. The kiss deepens, Jonny sliding a hand down Patrick’s back, and Patrick leans into it, fists his hands in Jonny’s jacket and lets out a small groan.

When they finally pull away, everyone’s clapping and Jonny’s looking at him soft and easy and Patrick feels like he’s just won the cup. Again.

---

The ceremony disperses into the makeshift reception, with Jonny and Patrick at the head of the tent, much to Jonny’s discomfort. Patrick is grinning like an idiot, shuffling his chair closer to Jonny’s even though it’s going to make eating really difficult. Jonny catches him rubbing his thumb over his wedding ring a couple of times, but when he looks at Patrick’s face, he’s deep in conversation or focused on something. An unconscious thing, then. Jonny’s still kind of distracted by the vows he’d had to read aloud. They were—as personal as the statement had been, and Jonny doesn’t know quite what to do with that. They’re best friends but they’re not the kind that says shit out loud, or confesses to things like that in private, let alone in front of witnesses. He’s pulled out of his contemplation by Patrick’s elbow in his side. It’s an accident, Patrick waving his arms around as he tells a ridiculous story to his father. Jonny rolls his eyes and relaxes back, letting his arm rest along the top of Patrick’s chair. The buffet has already started, people threading through tables to grab food and eat. They’d foregone speeches; Sharpy’s ridiculous wedding ceremony had been bad enough, but that’s not stopping a drunken T.J. explaining to a table full of Patrick’s cousins about their drunken escapades at North Dakota. Jonny’s scowl in his direction doesn’t seem to have much effect.

Patrick leans into him. “Sucks to be you, no?”

“Fuck you,” Jonny says.

Gagner approaches the table with two plates of food. Jonny raises his eyebrow as Sam hands him one. “Congratulations.”

Jonny nods. Patrick is much more enthusiastic. “Sam! Dude!” He stands, leaning across the table to give Sam a bro hug and take his own plate of food. “Having fun?”

“You put me at a table with T.J. Oshie,” Sam says wryly. “It’s interesting.”

Patrick snorts. “You could say that.”

Jonny picks at the food on his plate and listens to them talk, catching up and shooting the shit. Sam doesn’t seem inclined to want to sit down, and Jonny’s mom elbows him. “Okay?”

Jonny nods. “Yeah.”

“So,” she says, tapping his ring. “Married now.”

Jonny looks down at the band on his finger and smiles wryly. “Ever chained to Patrick Kane.”

“I heard that, douchebag,” Patrick says, kicking him under the table.

Jonny just smirks. “You were supposed to, asshole.”

“Tell me those aren’t going to be your pet names for each other,” Donna interrupts from further down the table.

Jonny just shrugs, setting of a round of laughter.

Things dissolve, as they are wont to do at weddings, and the tables are pushed to the side to allow room under the tent for a makeshift dance space. One of Patrick’s uncles gets out his laptop and what is apparently a hastily put together playlist of songs, both old and modern, and Jonny’s mom is calling for the first dance.

“Shit,” Patrick says, turning to Jonny with a wide-eyed look.

“You should be used to dancing,” Jonny says wryly. “You do it all the time.”

“Yeah, for like, Blackhawks shit,” Patrick says. “And I don’t have to slow dance with my arms around anyone or whatever.”

Jonny stands, gesturing at the dance floor. “It’s not like I want to do this any more than you do.”

“Could have fooled me,” Patrick mutters, but he stands and follows Jonny out into the middle of the floor. “Ugh, you better not step on my toes, asshole.”

“I’m a fucking dream at coordination,” Jonny replies. “We’re hockey players, Patrick.”

Patrick just rolls his eyes and holds his arms out awkwardly. “How the fuck is this even—”

Jonny lets out a huff of anger and pulls Patrick in, resting both hands on Patrick’s waist. They fit together perfectly and Jonny’s struck by it, by the way Patrick relaxes into his grip as the soft strains of some dumb love song, that is no doubt the result of their mothers’ combined reasoning, begins to play throughout the backyard. Jonny tries not to focus on the people watching them, on the soft murmurs and laughs filtering through the dude crooning about eternal love or whatever, and instead, lifts a hand to the back of Patrick’s neck. Patrick says, “S’kinda awesome, you know?”

“What is?”

Patrick shrugs a little in Jonny’s arms. “Being married to you.”

Jonny feels something tight in his chest. “In what way?”

Patrick doesn’t say anything for a moment and then he rests his chin against Jonny’s chest. His hair tickles Jonny’s cheek but he doesn’t move, almost holds his breath as Patrick says, “Always knew it’d be you.”

It’s—Jonny doesn’t know what it is. Patrick’s had a few drinks, under his own watchful eye, but he’s also been a little punch-drunk since the vows, and Jonny isn’t sure how much of this is Patrick. It doesn’t feel like it’s for show, there’s nobody close enough that they can hear. Jonny thinks about what Jessica said, about David and his mom and Sharpy, the way everyone seems to just know. Jonny wants to understand but he can’t; how could he not know if he felt this way?

He stiffens a little as he thinks about it, and Patrick pulls away to look him in the eye. “What’s wrong?”

I love you. Jonny swallows and forces himself to say, “Nothing,” because he’s not going to say that, not going to let it affect the way they are. He was never supposed to fall in love with Patrick. He stares down into Patrick’s eyes, wide and so fucking blue that Jonny’s struck by them and not, he realizes with a little surprise, for the first time. He pushes his hand up into Patrick’s hair, threads his fingers into blonde curls and smiles. “I’m okay.”

He tucks Patrick back against him and they dance, awkwardly probably, to the rest of the song. The entire time, he feels Patrick’s hands on his waist, the puffs of air against his neck and lets himself have it, even if it’s only for this moment.

---

Once their dance is out of the way, the songs gather in tempo and volume, and most people are either chattering at the tables, or dancing in various states of sobriety. For someone who Jonny knows for a fact is limited in his drinking today, Patrick is doing a very good job of dancing like he’s wasted. To those who know him, Patrick is just doing what he likes to think are ‘sick moves’, but aren’t in fact that at all. Jonny’s migrated to a table with the rest of the guys from the Hawks, and T.J.. Sam is on the dance floor, large hands eclipsing Madison’s as he twirls her around, to her endless delight. It’s kinda nice—Jonny has nothing against Gagner, and Patrick seems to really fucking like him. Whatever, he’s good with the kids. Abby is rocking in her seat, Maddy fighting sleep to the bitter end, but Sharpy seems oblivious as he throws an arm around Jonny’s shoulders and says, loudly, “Toes, my man, your vows were the sweetest fucking words I ever heard.”

Jonny snorts, shaking his head, but Duncs agrees with a tip of his glass. “Gotta say, man, I thought Seabs and Kelly-Rae were gonna use up all the Kleenex. Dayna and I managed to control ourselves.”

 

Kelly-Rae casually lips Duncs off, and Dayna hides her laugh behind her hand.

“Fuck you,” Seabs says, good-naturedly. He gestures at Patrick on the dancefloor, who is doing something weird and wrong with his hips. “I dunno, I think Kaner was giving him a run for his money.”

“They,” Sharpy says, pointing at Seabs, “were words of beauty.”

Jonny sighs. “You’re drunk, Sharpy.”

Sharpy opens his mouth to retort, when there’s a resounding cheer from across the room. Jonny sees Patrick, Erica, Jessica and Jackie doing what he assumes is one of their dance-offs. It’s pretty fucking great and—

“Holy shit, is that the Kaner shuffle?” T.J exclaims. “Dude, this is the best thing I have ever fucking seen.”

True to form, Patrick is in fact doing the Kaner shuffle. They all are. Jonny doesn’t know whether to be horrified or amused. He settles for a mix of both, when the four of them decide to add in some moves that Jonny doesn’t remember at all from that dumb video. He’s a little surprised when Jackie grins at him and waves her arms. “Jonny! You gotta come do the shuffle!”

“No,” Jonny says, immediately, even as Sharpy grins evilly.

“Come on, man. I’ll give you twenty bucks if you do it.”

“I’ll give you fifty,” T.J puts in, grinning like he’s having the best fucking time of his life.

Jonny hates everything. “No.”

“Aww, come on baby,” Patrick says, throwing his arms out. “For me?”

Hell no,” Jonny retorts. He can see their parents laughing at the head table, no doubt amused by this carnage that they have created.

“I bet he’s afraid he’ll be shown up by you, Patty,” Jessica says with a sweet smile. Jonny stares at her.

Duncs snorts and elbows him. “She has your number, Tazer.”

“What the fuck ever,” Jonny mutters. He’s still not doing the dumb shuffle.

Patrick starts to grin. “I guess he was the only one that came off looking dumb in that video.”

That, Jonny thinks, is a fucking lie. “Screw you,” he says, pushing back his chair and guiding a listing Sharpy back over to Abby. “I’ll show you dumb.”

He strides over to the dance floor and knows he’s going to regret this. He gets a cheer for his efforts, though, and Jessica and Jackie fight over who’s going to stand next to him, while Patrick slips in on his other side, whispering, “I’ll make this worth your while,” which, what the fuck even does that mean?

Jonny looks at him sharply. “What are you talking about?”

Patrick just wiggles his eyebrows and Jesus, what the fuck has Jonny gotten himelf into?

“Oh my god, I want a divorce.”

“Sorry, no can do,” Patrick says, and the music almost seems to get louder as the combined might of the Kane siblings drags Jonny into what is undoubtedly one of the most embarrassing moments of his life.

He does the shuffle.

---

Jonny’s enjoying a drink and actual conversation with his father and Patrick’s dad, when Patrick comes up to the table and drops into a chair next to Jonny. He pokes Jonny in the chest. “Why is your brother hitting on my sister?” Amused, Jonny watches as he screws his face up in concentration. “That came out right, right?”

Snorting, but looking out on the dance floor to see what Patrick’s talking about, Jonny sees David dancing with Jessica, grinning at her with his hands dangerously low on her waist. Jessica doesn’t seem to mind, hand curled around David’s neck and smiling in return. Jonny shrugs. “Because they wanted to?”

“You are so wrong,” Patrick says, eyes wide. Pat is smothering a laugh behind his hand, and Jonny’s dad is looking away politely, but even he’s smiling. “I mean, what if they do something?”

“They’re dancing,” Jonny says. “What are you talking about?”

“Jonny,” Patrick whines. “You just don’t get it.”

“No,” Jonny agrees. Patrick sinks against him, burying his face in Jonny’s neck and Jonny puts an arm across his shoulders, awkward in the position they’re in. “How drunk are you?”

Patrick shrugs. “Not as drunk because mom was watching. And I didn’t wanna make you mad at me.”

This time, both their fathers make their excuses and leave. Jonny’s grateful, if a little embarrassed. “You wouldn’t have.”

Pulling away a little, Patrick looks at him. “Might’ve.”

“But you didn’t,” Jonny stresses. “I trusted you.”

The grin he gets back in return is dopey and wide, Patrick’s dimples even more evident when they’re up close. “Hey Jonny?”

“What?”

“You gotta keep on keeping on, okay?” He leans back, tugging on Jonny’s arms to get him to stand. Jonny goes willingly, rolling his eyes as Patrick walks them backwards, to where the brave are still dancing to the songs that are definitely from the nineties now. “I mean, you even did the Kaner shuffle.”

Jonny makes a face, but lets Patrick manhandle him until they’re pressed up close again. “I hate you for that.”

“No,” Patrick stresses, his grin turning into a half-smile. “You mean love, Jonny. You did just put a ring on it.”

He waves his hand in front of Jonny’s face, as if Jonny has somehow forgotten in the space of a couple of hours that he’s married him. Jonny catches his hand and tugs it back down to his waist, resting his own on Patrick’s. The song is somewhat slower than the last couple, but still not the ridiculous lovey kind of slow that they were subjected to for their first dance. It’s nice, for lack of a better word, and Jonny can’t help but grin at Patrick’s flushed face, his own dopey smile and the way he’s half-shimmying to the music. Patrick rests his chin on Jonny’s shoulder for the second time that evening, content to look around the dance floor as he pushes one hand up under Jonny’s jacket, splaying his fingers against Jonny’s spine. His other hand rests on the back of Jonny’s head, threading into his hair.

It doesn’t feel like too much or like he wants to run; it feels good. He’s not even embarrassed to be dancing like this in front of everyone. Jonny likes it, wants it.

“You mom is crying,” Patrick says, with a soft laugh.

“Oh god really?” Jonny closes his eyes, because that’s so fucking embarrassing.

Patrick nods against his neck. “Understandable. I am quite the catch.”

Jonny pulls back a little, resting his hand on the back of Patrick’s neck. “Yeah,” he agrees softly, watching the smile soften on Patrick’s face. “You kinda are.”

Patrick wets his lips, fingers flexing against Jonny’s back and head. Neither of them lets go, neither of them moves. The moment seems to drag on, and Jonny doesn’t want to break it, but it’s enough that he needs to do something.

It’s Patrick that says, “C’mon, dance with me,” and Jonny can’t refuse. The music is still a good speed for them to dance to. “Get hot and heavy with me, Toews.”

Jonny snorts and rolls his eyes. “Maybe later.”

Patrick freezes a little. “Oh.”

“I mean,” Jonny says. Shit. He didn’t mean—“We don’t—”

“Are we gonna?” Patrick asks, not looking at all like that idea scares him.

“Um, I don’t know.” Jonny answers, honestly. It’s their wedding night and sure, Sharpy made the joke the night before, but Jonny’s never considered it because it’s not like they’re actually together.

Before he can say any of that, Patrick pulls Jonny closer. “I mean, it is our wedding night.”

Jonny touches his thumb to Patrick’s bottom lip and, now that it’s been brought up, he can’t stop thinking about it. “Yeah, Pat, it is.”

Patrick swallows, Jonny drops his thumb to follow the line of Patrick’s throat, dipping into the hollow and resting it there, feeling Patrick’s throat work. “Can we leave now?”

“That would be impolite,” Jonny says, pressing gently against the column of Patrick’s neck.

“Screw impolite,” Patrick says, and his eyes are a little dark. He pushes up against Jonny and drags him in for a kiss. It’s just like the first kiss, after their rings, and Jonny’s hand slips up Patrick’s back, holds him in place. Patrick clings again, just like he did before, and groans into the kiss, running his tongue against Jonny’s. They break for a breath but Jonny doesn’t let Patrick get too far away, tugs him back in for another, wanting it all now that he knows he can have it.

“Boys.”

They jump apart, looking over at Donna in surprise. She’s wearing an amused smile but Jesus, Jonny feels embarrassed.

“Mom,” Patrick says. “Can we—”

Jonny’s mom is standing behind Donna and she grins at him and oh god, he is never living this down. “Are you leaving?”

He hesitates, because it would be impolite to leave.

“Go,” Donna says. “We have help to clear this up.”

“Are you—”

“Jonny,” Patrick whines, pressing his hips up against Jonny’s even though their moms are right there. “If you stop to say goodbye, I will punch you in the face.”

“Get out of here,” Jonny’s mom assures them, a hand on Jonny’s back. She gives him a gentle shove in the direction of the house. They get catcalls from the hockey table because of-fucking-course they do, but Jonny’s content to ignore them as Patrick presses back against him, making it awkward to walk but Jonny doesn’t care, he doesn’t want to stop touching.

They stumble in the back door, and Jonny almost immediately presses Patrick up against the wall and licks into his mouth, one hand on his waist, the other curled into his hair. Patrick’s mouth is unfamiliar, but Jonny’s willing to learn it, especially with the noises Patrick’s making in the back of his throat, the feel of his fingers on Jonny’s face.

“Come on,” Patrick groans, slipping out from Jonny’s hold and tugging him towards the staircase.

Jonny stops them at the bottom of the stairs, reels Patrick in, back flush against his front as he mouths at the curve of Patrick’s collarbone. There’s something intoxicating about the taste of him, the way he shudders in Jonny’s grip but pushes against him. Jonny can see how hard Patrick is, how much he wants it with how he’s reaching back to grip Jonny’s hair, rolling his neck to the side so that Jonny has easy access, and he just fucking wants.

“Pat.” His voice is low as he reaches down to cup Patrick through his pants, not enough pressure for it to be enough, but Patrick pants anyway, thrusts his hips into the palm of Jonny’s hand.

“Fuck, come on, Jonny.”

Jonny wants him naked right fucking now, so he pushes forward. They stumble up the stairs, touching as much as they can and pausing on the landing, Patrick pressing this time, a good shove that has Jonny’s back hitting the door to their bedroom. He crowds into Jonny’s space and leans up for a kiss. His eyes are as blue as they were on the dance floor, and Jonny kisses him, over and over. Patrick whimpers into his mouth, almost slack in Jonny’s hands as he responds to the pressure of Jonny’s lips, teeth and tongue.

Jonny’s fascinated by the reactions; Patrick’s oral fixation is common knowledge, but Jonny’s the one reaping the benefits, his mouth sliding against Jonny’s, wet and desperate. It’s easy to let him, to slide a hand down to his ass and haul him in, grind their dicks together, gettng a full body shudder for his efforts.

“Fuck me,” Patrick says, his eyes wide and dark, and Jonny thinks yeah, yeah.

He reaches for the door handle, opens it quickly and they fall inside, Jonny almost immediately closing and locking it.

Patrick’s standing in the middle of the room, looking back at Jonny, and he’s fucking wrecked. His hair is mussed from Jonny’s fingers, his lips swollen and wet, tongue sliding against the curve of his bottom lip as he reaches down to touch himself. “Jonny.

Fuck. Jonny lurches forward, uncoordinated in his want. He tugs off his jacket as he goes, tossing it to the side because he doesn’t care, just wants Patrick.

“Take it off,” he grinds out, voice rough.

Patrick nods jerkily and fumbles with his jacket, unable to look away from Jonny. Jonny knows the feeling, can’t stop watching the way Patrick’s reacting, the hitch in his breath as, when he doesn’t move fast enough, Jonny reaches for his jacket and pulls it off, leaning down for another kiss.

He reaches into Patrick’s pants and tugs his shirt free, slides his hands up Patrick’s back, his skin hot beneath Jonny’s fingers. He grinds forward, feels the thick line of Patrick’s dick against his own and groans into Patrick’s mouth, bites at his bottom lip.

“Jonny,” Patrick’s saying, over and over. “Come on, Jonny.”

Jonny complies, pushes Patrick down onto their bed, and watches him climb up it, splayed out like he’s the fucking prize. And he is, everything Jonny wants. He crawls between Patrick’s legs, slides his hands up his thighs, stomach, chest. “You want this?”

“If I fucking didn’t,” Patrick says, fisting a hand in the front of Jonny’s chest. “I’d have kicked you off the bed.”

Jonny stares him down, and Patrick lifts his hips and Jonny can do this, wants to do this. He wants Patrick, is so hard for it.

It’s like being back on the dance floor, feeling Patrick under his hands and knowing, just knowing that he loves him, wants him.

He pushes Patrick’s shirt up, exposing his well-toned stomach, the curve of his hip bones as they dip down beneath his pants. “Fuck. Take your shirt off.”

He watches, hands on Patrick’s waist as Patrick fumbles out of his shirt. They’ve seen each other naked before, Patrick tells enough stories to the press about it for fuck’s sake, but this is different. This is all for Jonny, is his if he takes it, and he will.

“Yours too,” Patrick says, rubbing his hands against Jonny’s chest, catching on his nipple. Jonny shudders, breath catching in his throat.

“Yeah, okay.” Jonny pulls his shirt off, over his head, wants the skin on skin that Patrick’s eager for.

He tosses the shirt off to the side and leans down, drags his tongue against Patrick’s collarbone, nips at his jaw and catches his lips in another kiss. He reaches down between their bodies, pops the button on Patrick’s pants and slides his hand inside. There’s only the fabric of Patrick’s boxers between his dick and Jonny’s fingers.

Patrick lets out a dumb noise, closing his eyes and breathing through his nose, making soft panting noises against Jonny’s mouth. “I want—Jonny, I want—“

Jonny doesn’t move his hand, just applies a steady pressure, Patrick’s hips making quick, erratic thrusts against his hand.

“Come on,” he says, voice throaty and he breaks off, fisting his hands in the sheets and jerking, like he can get off from just this.

Jonny leans down, takes the soft skin of Patrick’s neck between his teeth and bites a little, not enough to break skin but enough that Patrick feels it, shudders violently as Jonny brushes his free hand over one of Patrick’s nipples.

Patrick’s gasp is loud, and it’s almost a sob as he tips his head back against the pillows. Jonny watches his reactions intently, catalogues the flush down Patrick’s neck, the spit-slick lips and the curve of his eyelashes against his cheek. He’s fucking gorgeous, and Jonny doesn’t know why he’s never noticed before.

He’s so fucking hard, even more so as Patrick makes little ah noises into the air as Jonny flexes his fingers around Patrick’s dick, rubs his thumb over the fabric-covered head.

Patrick’s eyes shoot open, and they’re so fucking dark, all pupil. Jonny doesn’t think he’s ever seen anything hotter.

“Fuck me,” Patrick says, quiet and wrecked. “Please, Jonny, I—“

Jonny has to groan and pause, reach down to grab his own dick through his pants to keep from coming. “Yeah, okay Pat.”

He rocks back on his heels, lets go of Patrick’s body so that he can pull off Patrick’s pants and boxers, so fucking slow, and distracted by the curve of Patrick’s dick against his stomach. Patrick looks so fucking—god, Jonny wants him.

He discards his own pants and boxers and pauses. “I don’t—“

Patrick waves weakly at the nightstand and what the fuck—Jonny tugs open the drawer. “I wanted—“ Patrick starts and then flushes again, ducking his head away from Jonny. “I thought—“

“Fuck,” Jonny curses, pulls out lube and a condom and yeah, he’s going to fuck Patrick, going to have him. He drops them onto the bed and pauses, watches the rise and fall of Patrick’s chest. “You’re so fucking hot.”

Patrick just stares back, fingers tight around the sheets, and he hasn’t moved since Jonny pulled off his pants and Jesus, Jesus. He runs his hands up Patrick’s thighs, digs his thumbs into the grooves of Patrick’s pelvis and listens to the hitch of breath that follows.

Jonny’s never given a blowjob—why the fuck would he?—but he wants to, wraps his fingers around Patrick’s dick and looks Patrick in the eye. “I haven’t—“

Patrick blinks and then swallows, licking his lips, his face clearing a little. “You don’t have to.”

“You want it?”

Patrick nods. “Do you?”

Jonny nods because yeah, yeah he does.

“Kay,” Patrick says. “Just careful, yeah?”

Jonny’s watched porn, knows how this is supposed go, but he knows there’s a huge line between what he sees and what he can give. He wants to make this good, wants to watch Patrick shudder apart because of his mouth, his tongue, his hands. He drops down between Patrick’s legs, rests his free hand on Patrick’s hip to keep him still if he needs to. He takes a deep breath and licks at the underside of Patrick’s dick—it’s what he likes and yeah, it’s what Patrick likes. He lets out a strangled gasp, fingers reaching out for Jonny’s head. He doesn’t push, just tangles his fingers in Jonny’s hair. “Oh fuck, fuck Jonny.”

Jonny licks a little more, tongues the head and watches Patrick for his reactions, having to rub his own dick against the sheets for friction at the look on Patrick’s face. He looks even more wrecked if it’s possible, and Jonny hasn’t even done anything yet.

“You look—“ Patrick says, breaking off into a moan as Jonny’s swirls his tongue against the head. “Shit, Jonny, you’re so—“

Jonny isn’t sure he’ll ever get used to the feel of Patrick’s dick against his tongue, but they’re married—fuck—and Patrick is looking at him like he’s the best fucking thing he’s ever seen so he keeps going. He makes sure to avoid touching Patrick’s dick with his teeth, just licks at the shaft and swirls around the head, pumping the base with his fist. Patrick’s heels dig into the bed on either side of Jonny’s body and he’s shaking, fingers flexing against Jonny’s head.

Taking heart from his enthusiasm, Jonny bobs his head, picks up a steady rhythm as Patrick’s hands slide against his head, like they’ve got no sense of coordination.

“Jonny, I’m gonna—“

Jonny likes it when girls swallow, wonders if Patrick is the same. Patrick is looking at him with wide eyes, face flushed and lips slick with spit where he keeps licking and biting at them. He looks—Jonny moans around Patrick’s dick as he rubs his own against the bed, shuddering from the friction he gets. Jesus. He hums in the back of his throat and feels Patrick tense, the flex of his fingers in his hair, painfully tight.

“Fuck,” Patrick says, low and drawn out.

Jonny keeps his rhythm up, and when he tongues the head of Patrick’s dick one last time, Patrick grunts out Jonny’s name and shakes apart with his orgasm.

Jonny swallows as much as he can; the taste is fucking awful, but the reaction he gets from Patrick, eyes blown wide and shaking under his hands, is more than enough to keep him there, to keep jerking Patrick’s dick and sucking the head until Patrick whimpers, paws at Jonny’s head weakly.

Jonny pulls off, licks the corner of his mouth and climbs back up Patrick’s body, dragging his dick against Patrick’s thigh for some friction. Patrick’s hands slide sloppy against his body, reaching down to cup Jonny’s ass in his hands. Jonny shivers, hips thrusting down into the curve of Patrick’s hipbone. It feels so fucking good and he wants Patrick’s hands on him, wants to be inside Patrick, making him come again.

Patrick drags Jonny down for a kiss, licks into his mouth and groans at the taste. “Fuck, Jonny.”

“I want,” Jonny says, mouthing at the corner of Patrick’s mouth, so turned on he can’t even kiss. “I want to—“

“Yeah,” Patrick says, reaching down with his left hand to stroke Jonny’s dick. His ring catches against Jonny’s skin and oh shit, oh shit. Jonny looks down between their bodies, at the slide of Patrick’s gold band against the shaft of his dick and he has to clench his eyes shut, has to breath really fucking hard not to come.

“That turn you on?” Patrick asks, voice low. “My ring?”

Jonny swallows, doesn’t nod but looks Patrick in the eye anyway, lets him see it on his face.

“Fuck me, Jonny,” Patrick says, voice raw.

Grabbing for the lube, Jonny pops the cap and doesn’t look away from Patrick as he coats a finger. “You gonna take it?”

Patrick’s eyes slip closed but Jonny thumbs the corner of his mouth.

“Keep them open.”

Complying, Patrick swallows as Jonny parts his legs a little more, strokes Patrick’s still-sensitive dick once as he slides his fingers back behind Patrick’s balls. “You ever—“

“Myself,” Patrick says, almost immediately. He looks like he’s having trouble concentrating, his fingers sliding against the sheets of the bed.

Jonny closes his eyes and breathes once, twice. “You fingered yourself?”

“Fucking want it,” Patrick says, and that’s not what Jonny asked but he’ll take it, thinks about Patrick stroking his dick with one hand, sliding his fingers into his ass with the other, the flush on his face and his lips, his fucking mouth—

Jonny’s coated his left hand with lube, wants to see the gold of his wedding band against Patrick’s skin as he rubs his finger over Patrick’s hole, hooks his free hand under Patrick’s right knee. “Fuck, Pat.”

“Jonny,” Patrick moans. “Jonny, Jonny.”

“Yeah, yeah okay.” Jonny presses in with his finger, slow and steady, letting Patrick adjust to the feel.

“Oh god,” Patrick groans, tosses his head back against the pillows and shudders. “Do it.”

Jonny slips his finger in slow, buries it to the third knuckle and stills. “God.”

Patrick’s panting again, his chest heaving as he nods. “Come on.”

Jonny pulls back, watching his index finger sink into Patrick. “Wanna use my ring finger, Pat. Want to see it sink into you, the gold sliding against you.”

Patrick’s dick is filling again, semi-hard and he groans, throaty and low as Jonny pulls back, adds a second.

“You can take it.” He doesn’t ask, just slides two fingers in and out, then back, scissoring them a little as he goes.

Patrick mumbles something but Jonny doesn’t catch it, doesn’t ask him to repeat. He contemplates adding a third. “Want me to?”

Patrick’s eyes closed some time ago but they’re opening now, watching Jonny with a gaze that’s almost all incoherence.

“My ring finger,” Jonny says. He spreads more lube on his fingers, watches it coat his ring as well and fuck, fuck, if he gets inside Patrick, he’s not even sure he’s going to last all that long.

“I—“ Patrick says. He blinks, shudders and when he opens his eyes, his face is a little more alert. “Fucking do it.”

Jonny does, watches his ring finger sink into Patrick and fuck, fuck. Patrick’s looking down his own body and Jonny says, “I wish you could see. Wish you could watch it, Pat.”

He lets the ring catch on the rim, holds there for a second and Patrick whimpers, writhes on his hand.

“Fuck, Jonny, fuck.” his voice doesn’t sound right, sounds fucking gone. His dick is full again, hard and curved against his stomach, and Jonny doesn’t want to wait any longer.

He pulls his fingers out, grabs for the condom and lube. Patrick’s watching him, huffing little breaths as Jonny rolls on the condom and strokes himself a couple of times.

Patrick licks his lips. “Want me—“

“I got it,” Jonny says, pushing forward, lining up his dick and fuck, fuck, fuck. It feels so fucking tight as he slides in, and he has to pause for a second and try not to come. Patrick squeezes around him and Jonny grabs his hips in warning. “Don’t fucking do that.”

Patrick’s eyes are wide. “Are you gonna—“

“If you don’t stop,” Jonny says. When Patrick nods, he starts to push back in, sinking deep. “Oh god.”

Patrick doesn’t say anything, just smiles, not his smirk, not a grin, but a soft fucking smile, like he can’t help himself. Jonny follows the line of his body, the curve of his arm and the fingers he has splayed against the sheets. Patrick sees him looking, lifts his left hand curls it around the back of Jonny’s neck. “Fuck, Jonny.”

Jonny groans, starts to pull back and push in, caught up in the feel of Patrick’s tight heat, the contrast of the cold wedding band on the back of his neck, the glint of his own on Patrick’s pale hip.

He can feel his orgasm building at the base of his spine, doesn’t want to come, doesn’t want it to be over yet, but he’s not going to fucking last. Patrick’s moaning Jonny’s name, breaking off into groans as they move together and Jonny has to, rests his right hand next to Patrick’s head and drops his right back down to cup Patrick’s dick.

“Jonny, Jonny,” Patrick says, looking down to watch Jonny’s hand work his dick. “I’m gonna—“

“We’re fucking married,” Jonny says and Patrick shudders, groans and comes again, spilling over Jonny’s hand and his own stomach.

He clenches down on Jonny’s dick and Jonny feels his orgasm roll through him, doesn’t make a sound as he buries his face in Patrick’s neck and comes.

“Hey,” Patrick says, when Jonny’s recovered enough to look at him. “You gotta move.”

Jonny does, pulls out slowly and, as Patrick groans and winces, rubs his thumb over the curve of Patrick’s eye. “Fuck.”

“Yeah,” Patrick replies, as Jonny flops down on the mattress next to him. He turns his head, has a fucking dopey grin on his face. “Hot, huh?”

Jonny doesn’t think he can work up a smart remark so he just nods.

Patrick reaches over, takes Jonny’s left hand with his own and Jonny watches their rings clink together and thinks yes.

Chapter Text

Patrick wakes with the sunlight shining right on his face. He groans and turns away, rolling back into the curve of Jonny’s arms. He burrows in, one hand resting on Jonny’s hip and the other tucked underneath his body. He feels pretty fucking great, sore in the best kind of way but content with what he has right now. He has Jonny—which is really fucking weird, when he’s spent so long without him.

Whatever, Patrick will take it. He closes his eyes and lays there for a while, considering waking Jonny and making him go down to breakfast with him. He’s hungry, he hasn’t eaten since the buffet yesterday, and needs some coffee.

When Jonny finally does wake, he tugs Patrick in closer even before he’s opened his eyes, mumbling, “S’early.”

“Yes,” Patrick says, grinning. He’s kinda looking forward to seeing what dumb things Jonny will come out with today. “I’m hungry.”

“Then go get s’thing to eat,” Jonny grumbles, still not opening his eyes. Whatever, Patrick’s in no hurry to actually get out from under the duvet.

He squeezes Jonny’s hip and hums a little. “So how turned on would you be if I called you ‘husband’ now?”

Jonny’s eyes snap open. “Holy fuck.” He looks down at his hand and gives Patrick a look he can’t decipher. “Turned on?”

“Yeah,” Patrick shrugs. “I mean, some dudes find it hot to be married.”

“Hot?” Jonny raises an eyebrow and he’s totally judging Patrick, but it’s not like Patrick finds it hot or anything. “Maybe if I was married to someone else.”

“Ouch,” Patrick says with a grin. “Asshole.”

Jonny’s grin is kinda dumb and smirky but whatever, he’s totally married to Patrick now, and Patrick’s the one with the raw end of this deal, thank you.

Jonny leans in, but Patrick puts his hand over his face and pushes him away. “You’re not kissing me yet, dude.”

Seriously, Patrick was drinking last night, so Jonny probably doesn’t want to kiss him yet either.

Jonny’s actually fucking pouting, or looking constipated enough in a way that Patrick knows would be a pout on anybody else. “Fine.”

He rolls away from Patrick and rubs at the back of his head in an attempt to flatten his hair, succeeding only in making it stick up in tufts instead. Patrick smothers a grin and gets up himself, padding into the bathroom and grabbing his toothbrush.

Jonny walks up behind him, blocks him against the sink and curls an arm around his stomach. It’s his left, like he has to remind Patrick all the time that they’re married or something, and he grabs for his own toothbrush. Patrick rolls his eyes at Jonny in the mirror, wanting to let him know exactly how he feels about all this touchy, feely nonsense, but Jonny just stares him down.

When they’re done, Jonny wastes no time in turning him around, pressing him back against the sink in an uncomfortable position, but before Patrick can open his mouth to bitch, Jonny’s kissing him, just as hard and full-on as last night. Patrick doesn’t need any reminders of last night, Jesus, or he’s going to like, pop a boner in their bathroom.

Jonny’s grin says he wouldn’t mind but whatever, there are other people who will hear it this morning and hell no, Patrick is not going there.

“Get the fuck out, I’m going to shower,” Jonny says, belying his own words by leaning back in for another kiss.

Patrick’s stomach rumbles again and he laughs into Jonny’s mouth, pushing him away. “Fine. Shower.”

Patrick grabs a t-shirt from the dresser on his way out of the door and tugs it on as he’s walking downstairs. He’s about to turn to go into the kitchen when he pauses, hearing voices from the den. It sounds like David and, yeah, that’s clearly Jessica. He scowls, intent on storming in there and like, protecting Jessica from Jonny’s brother, when he registers what they’re actually saying.

“—and I saw one of Jon’s ex-girlfriends in town the other day.”

Patrick frowns.

David continues, “I didn’t know what to say to her, you know?”

“Would she have cared?” Jessica asks, and Patrick’s kind of interested in the answer, too.

David pauses. “I guess it’s just sudden. I had no idea Jonny even liked guys until he and Patrick called me up.”

Jessica says something in reply but Patrick doesn’t know what it is because holy fuck, why didn’t he even think about that? He’s never considered it, never wanted to, maybe, but Jonny even said last night that he’d never given a blowjob, and he never replied when Patrick admitted to liking guys and—fuck.

Patrick shrugs it off, frowning as he walks into the kitchen. Whatever, there’ll be time to figure this shit out later. He’s hungry.

Except he can’t stop thinking about it. When Jonny finally comes downstairs, most of the others are already awake. Apparently most of the guests moved from the house to the local hotels, which is good, because it means there’s just the two families in the kitchen for breakfast.

T.J. is still in the house, and he’s already at the table when Jonny makes his way into the kitchen. Patrick stares down at his plate intently, because now he’s thinking about what T.J. said. Maybe he didn’t want T.J. because he’s not gay.

So maybe he doesn’t really want Patrick. Anyone will sleep with someone if they—

Patrick’s train of thought gets cut off as Jonny rests his hand on the back of Patrick’s neck as he greets his parents good morning. He can’t help but tense under Jonny’s fingers, and he knows Jonny’s gonna feel it but whatever, Patrick’s a little fucking confused right now.

He’s pretty sure he deserves to know if Jonny likes dudes, right? Or doesn’t. He got bent out of shape because Patrick never told him, and it’s a little hypocritical of him to not do the same.

“What did the plate do to you, Patty?” Jackie asks from across the table.

Realizing he’s been glaring pretty hard at his plate, Patrick looks up. Erica’s looking at him speculatively, but he doesn’t want to go into that. “Nothing.”

Jonny squeezes. “You okay?”

“Fine,” Patrick says quickly, tipping his head back and giving Jonny a smirk. “Peachy.”

Jonny’s frown isn’t great, because it means he’s going to be like, worried about Patrick now. Screw that. Patrick’s fine.

“Sure.”

“Breakfast, Jonathan?” Donna asks, standing to get him a plate. She’s been sitting next to Patrick and she gestures at her seat. Jonny hesitates before dropping into it, his hand moving from Patrick’s neck to his leg.

“Thank you.”

Patrick focuses back on his food and tries not to think about the hand on his thigh, or the million different things that don’t make any sense.

Apparently hosting your own wedding means there’s a lot of clean-up to do the day after. Patrick thinks it’s the worst having to tidy up when it’s essentially your honeymoon, but Jonny is too fucking noble to allow that, so they end up helping out. Sharpy and Abby come over, along with Duncs and Kelly-Rae, Seabs and Dayna, and Sam, who offered to help out because they’re losers.

It’s kinda fun once they get going, throwing shit out and putting Patrick’s house back into some sort of order. Everyone’s pretty happy, and Patrick can even take the good natured teasing about him being tied to Jonny forever now, or something.

Seabs nudges him when they’re both outside, picking up garbage because Patrick’s clean-up job list is glamorous as shit. “Surprised you and Jonny didn’t beg off and hide out somewhere.”

Patrick snorts. “You know how responsible Jonny is, man.”

“Yeah.” Seabs tosses a paper cup at Patrick and he catches it in the garbage bag. He’s staring at Patrick with an odd look on his face.

“What?”

“It was a great ceremony, Kaner.”

“I know,” Patrick says, with a smirk. He doesn’t say anything else, doesn’t know how to make Seabs realise it was fucking perfect because no thanks, he’s not the kind of guy who wants to spill his guts to like, the entire Blackhawks team or whatever.

“Just leave the honeymoon behind in Buffalo, yeah?” Seabs says, elbowing Patrick in the ribs. “The locker room doesn’t need that shit.”

“Please,” Patrick snorts. “It gets enough of it whenever Sharpy sees himself in a mirror.”

It feels good to talk to Seabs, and it gets Patrick through the rest of the clean-up. He and Jonny have been so caught up in sorting this shit out, they haven’t had time to relax and just be them.

He considers telling Jonny that he wants to spend a day, just them, shooting the shit and acting like nothing’s out of the ordinary and they’re friends or whatever, when they have to say goodbye to everyone and Patrick’s reminded, again, why he’s felt so off all day.

They’re walking Duncs, Seabs, Kelly-Rae and Dayna to the door, seeing them off in a cab for the airport, and they’re done with the customary hugs. Jonny moves in next to Patrick and, because he’s actively watching Jonny, Patrick sees his hesitation before he puts his arm around Patrick’s waist.

It feels fucking terrible. Patrick frowns before smoothing his face into a smile.

“Tamp it down before you get to Chicago, yeah?” Duncs says.

Jonny flips him off.

Patrick’s kinda focused on the arm around his waist. God. Is he projecting? Jonny’s obviously not comfortable with this shit and it’s pissing Patrick off.

As soon as they’ve seen them off, Patrick disappears into the kitchen to grab a drink. He makes it juice because he doesn’t need anyone on his back about alcohol right now.

His mom pokes her head around the doorframe a little while later. “Here you are. We’re all in the den, you joining us?”

Patrick shrugs. “Sure, whatever.”

She frowns at him, but he doesn’t give her a chance to ask him anything, just puts his glass in the sink and pushes past her to get to the den. The chairs are all taken by various family members, and Sam and T.J. are playing David and Erica at cards, Jesus, seriously?

Patrick opts for dropping down in front of Jonny, who’s taken the end of the sofa next to Patrick’s grandpa. There’s some pretty terrible cookery show on the TV which Jessica and Jackie are debating with Patrick’s dad and Bryan. It’s all pretty fucking domestic, and it just makes Patrick angrier. Jonny’s a dick. This was his idea and if he doesn’t want it, it’s not fair to put this on Patrick. He should have just—

Jonny’s nudges Patrick with his foot. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing,” Patrick bites out. He keeps his attention on the TV despite the crappy show, and ignores Jonny as best he can.

His grandpa goes off to bed a little while later, and Patrick moves to take his seat. The show has switched to a documentary about wolves or something and Patrick’s actually interested. He feels Jonny tense next to him for whatever reason, but it’s not until Jonny slides an arm around his shoulders that he gets why.

Patrick turns to look at him, deliberately skeptical, but Jonny’s talking to David, saying something over the back of the couch. What the fuck ever. Patrick doesn’t get it. Jonny’s never been tense or weird about touching him before. Put a ring on his finger and it’s like—

Maybe David and T.J. were onto something.

Maybe Jonny really doesn’t want this and his noble, self-sacrificing shtick is genuine. God. Patrick wants to be angry at him, but it’s still Jonny. He’s pissed at the situation, at being the reason this is even happening because fuck, he’s kinda ruining this shit.

He nudges Jonny. “I’m gonna go up to bed. You coming?”

Jonny searches his face a little and god, Patrick really hopes he doesn’t think—

“Yeah,” Jonny says, climbing to his feet. To the room, he says, “We’re gonna call it a day.”

“Night, sweetheart.” Andree says. “Same to you, Jonny.”

“Ha ha,” Jonny says, deadpan.

Patrick grins. He really fucking loves Andree. “Night, guys.”

He kisses his sisters and parents goodnight, and joins Jonny in the doorway.

“Come on, sweetheart,” Patrick says, because if Jonny can put a brave face on this, so can he.

“Whatever,” Jonny says. “Get your ass upstairs.”

It’s not until they’re brushing their teeth side by side in the bathroom that Patrick really gets how fucking difficult this is going to be. He still wants Jonny,, God, does he - but he isn’t going to be the guy who forces Jonny into physical affection in private when he doesn’t really want it. So when Jonny goes in to kiss him as they’re climbing into bed, Patrick turns his face and backs off. “You want the left side?”

Jonny looks confused, and hurt, and Patrick fucking hates it, but he’s done it now. It will be fine; Jonny will appreciate it later, when he doesn’t have to do it in private as well as public. He climbs into bed and raises an eyebrow at Jonny, who’s still standing by the end of the bed. “You coming?”

“...Yeah,” Jonny says, still looking at Patrick oddly. He gets into bed, though, sliding in next to Patrick. They position themselves like they always do, Patrick flush against Jonny’s body. This is something Patrick’s not willing to let go of. Not until Jonny does, anyway. He wants something he doesn’t have to sacrifice.

“Night.”

Jonny’s fingers twitch against his stomach, and Patrick’s really fucking glad he doesn’t have to look at the confused expression on Jonny’s face. “Night.”

If it takes Patrick a long time to fall asleep, well, it’s just because the light under the door is keeping him awake, is all.

---

Jonny wakes before Patrick. He looks at the clock, which shows 10:23, and curses. Nobody’s come up to wake them, which is maybe not as weird now as it might have been a couple of days ago, and Patrick is still sleeping. He’s not usually one to sleep in, but Jonny’s not about to wake him up yet.

He lets himself tangle his hands in Patrick’s hair, rubs his thumb gently over Patrick’s temple. His ring glints in the low light, and it’s another punch to the gut to think that this is it for them now. It’s not that they can’t do it— they can do anything they want and Jonny’s always believed that—it’s just that he’d really fucking love for it to not have happened in the first place.

He’s not angry anymore, not at Patrick, who’s spent so long trying to fix it, but there’s some resentment, even now. But Jonny—Jonny wants him, has settled something inside himself at the thought of having Patrick with him for—well, the ring means forever but—he’s going to have Patrick for as long as he can.

He feels that fiercely; wants Patrick for himself and isn’t going to settle for letting him go. Unless Patrick specifically says he doesn’t want Jonny - and Jonny’s deliberately not thinking about last night - then he’s Jonny’s.

Leaning down to press his lips to Patrick’s cheekbone, Jonny slides out of bed, watching Patrick mumble something incoherently, and roll over onto Jonny’s side of the bed, burrowing his face into Jonny’s pillow.

When he gets out of the bathroom, rubbing at his hair with a towel, Patrick is still burrowed into the sheets.

Jonny drops the towel onto the dresser and leans over to shake Patrick’s shoulder. Patrick groans.

“Mmm’up.”

“Don’t be lazy, Kaner,” Jonny says with a grin. “You’ve missed breakfast.”

Patrick raises his head from the pillows and looks at Jonny blearily, running a hand over his face. “Morning.”

“Morning,” Jonny replies, grinning. Patrick’s answering smile is sleepy but he leans forward, and Jonny moves to meet him, except then Patrick’s not there, he’s rolling over on the bed and sitting on the edge. Jonny stares at the back of his head, confused. What the hell? He knows he’s not imagining this. It’s the same thing as last night and he doesn’t get it.

“What’s wrong with you?”

Patrick peers back over his shoulder, frowning. “What?”

“You. There’s something up.”

“No,” Patrick shrugs, and he looks like he usually does when he’s hiding something, eyes a little guilty. Jonny doesn’t get it.

They stare at each other a little longer until Jonny shakes his head. “Fine. I’ll see you downstairs.”

He’s at the door when Patrick says, “Jonny?”

Jonny pauses, his hand on the door, but he doesn’t turn around. “What?”

There’s a long pause. Finally, Jonny looks back to see Patrick studying him, a look of confusion on his face. “Sorry?”

“For what?” Jonny says.

“I just thought—“ Patrick trails off. He’s playing with his sweatpants, and Jonny wants to tell him to stop, that he’ll make a hole or something, but he doesn’t.

“I’ll see you downstairs,” Jonny says eventually, when the silence drags on too long.

“Morning sleepyhead,” Jackie says, punching him on the arm as she passes him on the stairs. Jonny stares down at his arm. Getting to used to Patrick’s sisters has been a learning curve, but he likes to think he’s doing okay. It’s weird to go from one brother to having such a large extended family, and it’s a little overwhelming. He likes them well enough, always has, but he’s also not dumb to think it’s going to be easy to get used to this.

Jonny walks into the kitchen to make himself some breakfast and finds it empty.

He looks through the fridge, trying to find something that’s going to take a long time to make, when someone throws an arm around his shoulders. “Toews!”

Jonny raises his eyebrow at T.J. “You want something?”

“I thought you were going to marital sex your way through my exit.” T.J. waggles his eyebrows.

Jonny says, “We weren’t having sex,” almost immediately. He regrets it just as quickly. Fucking T.J.

“Riiiight,” T.J. drawls. “Because when you’re married, you totally just cuddle in bed.”

Jonny turns back to the fridge and grabs a shake that someone (probably one of their moms) has thoughtfully put in there. He hipchecks the door closed.

T.J.’s studying his face, and frowns. “Wait. You are just cuddling in bed.”

“What’s it to you?” Jonny snaps. He absolutely does not want to talk about this, especially not with T.J.

“I thought for sure your little man would want to hit that as soon as he got you in bed.” T.J. drops into one of the chairs at the tale.

God, Jonny kind of wants to be outside. “Please stop talking about this.”

“Hey, I’m just saying.”

“Well you can just ‘not say’.” Except that T.J. really doesn’t look like he’s moving anytime soon. Jonny doesn’t want to explain that he kind of wants to have sex with Patrick, but Patrick’s not on the same page or whatever. He settles on, “Our parents are in the house.”

T.J. raises his eyebrows. “Like you didn’t fuck him on your wedding night?”

Jonny colors. “T.J., for fuck’s sake.”

T.J. holds up his hands, but he still looks like he’s judging the hell out of Jonny. Whatever. It’s none of his fucking business. “Okay, okay. Chill, dude.”

Jonny pops the cap on the shake and sits down next to T.J. “There’s nothing wrong.”

T.J. snorts. “Sure, Jonny. Whatever you say.”

They sit in silence for a few minutes. Jonny drinks his shake and doesn’t even think about telling T.J. about Patrick being weird. A) It’s none of his fucking business, B) Patrick’s always been weird and C) it’s none of his fucking business.

“Married life suits you,” T.J. offers, throwing one arm over the back of the chair. “You’ve looked less murderous since you said ‘I do’.”

“Fuck you,” Jonny says, punching T.J. in the hip.

T.J. shifts out of the way, laughing because he’s a douche. Jesus, maybe the jokes Sharpy makes about him having a type is legitimately a thing. T.J. kicks him under the table and Jonny scowls, grabbing T.J. in a headlock.

“Oh, you wanna go?”

T.J. wrestles back, and Jonny grins as he tightens his hold. He’s just kicked T.J.’s chair out from under him when someone comes into the kitchen.

Patrick’s standing in the doorway, mouth open, like he’s going to say something, but he’s looking at Jonny and Jonny’s not exactly sure what the expression on his face is.

T.J. says, “Hey Kaner,” from under Jonny’s arm.

He doesn’t get a reply; Patrick turns on his heel and leaves the kitchen.

Jonny’s still staring at the space Patrick had occupied not five seconds ago, when T.J. elbows him in the ribs.

“Let me go, fucker.”

Releasing his hold, Jonny grabs his shake from the table angrily and stands. This is fucking dumb, he doesn’t even know what the hell is wrong with Patrick at all, and it’s pissing him off.

“Jonny,” T.J. says. Jonny looks down at him. “You—“

“Whatever,” Jonny says. He doesn’t want to hear whatever advice T.J. feels like dispensing. He drops back down into his chair. If Patrick wants to be an asshole, he can be. Jonny can ignore Patrick just as well as Patrick’s been ignoring him. “When’s your flight?”

Jonny offers to drive T.J. and Gags to the airport, and isn’t surprised when Patrick calls shotgun.

The entire twenty minute drive, Patrick talks like a fucking machine, chirping T.J. and walking down memory lane or some shit with Gags, and Jonny gets increasingly more annoyed.

T.J. keeps trying to catch his gaze in the mirror when Gags and Patrick are having a pretty intense game of “which team is better” (Jonny agrees with Patrick on this one, obviously, so the whole fight is dumb.) Jonny ignores the raised eyebrows, because it’s still none of T.J.’s business.

When they pull into the parking lot, Jonny does the customary hug goodbye and ignores the, “Talk to him, asshole,” T.J. whispers in his ear as they part. He says, louder, “See you on the ice, losers!”

Patrick flips him off, but does that dumb brofist with Gags they’ve been doing the entire time, and leans against the car to watch them go in. “So.”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, turning to get back into the car. It feels like something is coming to a close; the only people back at the house are their parents and siblings. Jonny kind of wishes there wasn’t anyone there, and then maybe he and Patrick could fight their way out of whatever is happening here. He’s not comfortable doing that with a house full of people, family or no.

If the ride to the airport was tense, the ride back is awkward. Jonny and Patrick aren’t awkward. They get mad and frustrated and they’re fucking weird, sometimes, which Jonny can admit just fine thanks, but they’re not awkward. They know each other well enough by now that it’s not an issue. Except now something’s gone wrong, and Jonny doesn’t know what it is.

“You’re an asshole,” he snaps, just before they pull into the driveway.

Patrick looks up from where he’s been playing some dumb game on his phone, surprised. “What the hell?”

Jonny stares straight ahead, waits for Patrick to punch in the code for the house gates, and then drives through. They’re parked before he turns to Patrick and says, clearly, “You’re an asshole.”

He doesn’t wait for a reply, just climbs out of the car and slams the door, leaving Patrick to do whatever the hell he wants.

Jonny spends the afternoon on the couch next to his mother, watching awful shows in French. Jessica joins them in the late afternoon, planting herself between Jonny and his mom, and he can’t even bring himself to be mad, not when she’s squinting at the screen like she’s trying to understand, and asking Jonny’s mom politely what things mean.

Jonny watches out of the corner of his eye, at his mom who’s happy to help, and the way Jessica listens and then repeats the phrase to herself, with an increasingly better grasp.

Jonny’s steadily ignoring the looks that Patrick’s been throwing him across the room. He’s in the armchair, Erica resting against his leg, reading a book. Patrick’s own book is balanced on the arm of the chair precariously, and he hasn’t touched it in about a half hour. Not that Jonny’s been paying attention.

He’s fidgeting, the leg Erica’s not resting against jiggling a little, and Erica’s put a hand on his ankle a couple of times to stop it. He’s also worrying at his bottom lip, deliberately not looking at Jonny. It means he’s going to want to talk to Jonny in a second and Jonny’s content to let him do the work; he hopes he’s actually going to get an explanation or something.

When Patrick finally says, “Jonny, can I—“

Erica says, “Thank God,” under her breath and Jonny nods. “Sure.”

He stands, pats Jessica on the knee as he does, and waits for Patrick in the hall outside.

When Patrick comes out a minute later, he gestures at the kitchen. Jonny follows, leaning against the counter as Patrick hovers awkwardly in the middle of the room.

“Mom wants you guys to stay for the fourth of July.”

“Yeah?” Jonny says, confused. He was pretty sure that was always the plan, even if he and his family don’t celebrate it as a holiday.

When Patrick just shrugs, not saying anything else, Jonny growls under his breath.

That’s what you wanted to talk about?”

Patrick looks up sharply, eyes dark with something and Jonny’s sure he didn’t lose the ability to tell what Patrick was feeling, so why is this time different? “You were expecting me—“

“Quiet the fuck down,” Jonny snaps. He doesn’t want this to be a fight that their families can hear. “You’re the one being weird, here.”

“Me?!” Patrick says, but he keeps his voice low this time. He does lean in and poke Jonny in the chest, though. “You don’t fucking know—“

“Know what?” Jonny says over him. “I don’t know, Patrick!”

Patrick scowls. “Like hell you don’t! You wanted this!”

Oh for fuck’s sake. “Are we back to this? You’re upset we got married? Well wake up, Patrick, it’s too late now!”

“Fuck you, that’s not—“ Patrick breaks off as Donna pokes her head in the doorway.

She looks between them, frowning when she takes in how they’re standing. “Everything okay in here?”

“Just great,” Patrick mutters.

“Fine,” Jonny says, giving her a tight smile.

He knows she doesn’t believe them, and isn’t surprised when she sighs. “Work it out, boys.”

When she’s gone, Patrick drops into one of the chairs at the table. “I’m doing my best to be what you want.”

“What do you think that is, Patrick?”

Patrick shrugs, opens his mouth to say something and then closes it.

Jonny pinches the bridge of his nose. “Just stop being weird about everything.”

“I’m not,” Patrick says, indignant. “It’s hard, okay, asshole?”

Jonny scowls. “I’m not saying it isn’t.” He’s not one hundred percent okay with going from nothing to having fucking feelings for Patrick, either, but he’s not going around being weird and pulling away. Jonny studies his face as he says, “Yeah, okay.”

Jonny’s confused as hell and Patrick’s smiling up at him, but it doesn’t feel like anything’s right at all.

---

Jonny’s talked into playing board games that night, ganged up on by Patrick and his sisters. He accepts, thankfully, but insists on dragging David into it with him, despite protests that Jonny is going to get super competitive and it won’t be fun.

Patrick snorts. “He’s right, but whatever, it’s fun to mock the shit out of you.”

Jonny flips him off and sits at the table. “I hope this isn’t a game I’ve never played before.”

“Relax, Jonny,” Patrick grins. “I know for a fact that you’ve played this before.”

Patrick and his sisters have a thing for playing Pictionary, which Patrick knows Jonny hates because he can’t draw.

David groans but sits next to Jonny anyway. “This is going to be awful,” he says.

Erica grins at Jonny. “Don’t worry, Jonny. I’m sure you’ll do okay.”

Oh. Oh. Jonny’s not going to let that go. Patrick sits on Jonny’s other side, and it’s decided it will be boys on girls. That’s good enough for Patrick; he can be just as competitive as Jonny, and it’s better if he doesn’t subject his sisters to Jonny’s intensity and frustration when he doesn’t get his own way. Sometimes Patrick wishes Jonny was more like he is when they lose a game; except then he gets super angry at the team and tries to drown himself in the shower afterwards, so maybe it’s better if he gets competitive about it. Whatever happens, Jonny knows how David plays and Patrick knows he’s going to be confident in his ability to boss Patrick into making the right decisions—or at least he thinks he has that ability. Patrick isn’t going to disabuse him of that.

It doesn’t go according to plan.

The game is ridiculous even without Jonny’s need to win at everything. They’re mid-game and Patrick’s kneeling on his chair, leaning over Jonny’s arm so that he can see what he’s drawing. Is been going okay for the most part; even though Jonny’s drawing is for shit, Patrick can work out most of the time what he’s trying to do. Jonny’s looking torn between frustration, anger and amusement, and Patrick’s determined to wring more of the amusement out of him. He peers back over his shoulder to grin, snorting when Jonny’s eyebrows do a weird thing where he tries to frown but fails miserably.

He sits back on his chair as Jackie takes her turn, and nudges Jonny’s shoulder. “We’re losing.”

“I hadn’t noticed,” Jonny says, deadpan. “You gonna pick up your game?”

Patrick snorts, “It’s Pictionary and you can’t draw. We’re fucking screwed.”

“Fuck you,” Jonny snaps. “That was obviously a dog!”

“It had five legs!”

“That’s it’s tail.” Jonny looks unimpressed but Patrick elbows him.

“Excuses,” David says from Jonny’s other side, grinning at Patrick. “Be better at drawing, Jon.”

Patrick laughs, delighted. Jonny’s scowl is pretty impressive.

“Jonny,” Patrick says, leaning forward and resting his chin on Jonny’s shoulder. “I guess I love you even though you’re being dumb and competitive.”

Jonny’s head whips back to stare at him, surprised.

Patrick keeps grinning, hoping Jonny takes what he’s offering.

“I’m having fun,” Jonny allows grudgingly, and Patrick can see how visibly distressing it is for him to have to say that out loud.

David and Patrick’s sisters are staring at them, but it’s a mix of surprise and delight.

The game gets better from there; Jonny’s still intense, it’s not like he’s going stop being competitive, but he’s more relaxed and he even gets involved with a good-natured argument with Jackie, much to Patrick’s delight and shock.

David’s more at ease than he was at the beginning, chirping Patrick’s sisters without Patrick wanting to punch him in the face. It’s progress, Patrick supposes, though he’s not sure Jonny would allow them to have a relationship that was anything less than civil.

Patrick leans more heavily against Jonny the longer the game goes on, and Jonny’s arm wraps around him, sliding Patrick’s chair closer to his when he teeters precariously on the edge.

Erica, Jessica and Jackie win; Patrick hi-fives each of them, and even Jonny gets over himself enough to mutter, “Well done,” grudgingly. They stay behind to pack up the game, while the girls and David leave for the living room.

“So,” Patrick says. “Good?”

“It was okay.” Jonny shrugs as he puts the lid back on the box. “We should have won.”

“It’s okay to lose once in a while, Jonny.” Patrick rests a hand on Jonny’s leg. Jonny stares down at it and then curls his fingers around Patrick’s, hesitating only slightly before he does it. “When it’s not hockey.”

Jonny snorts, smiles as he squeezes Patrick’s fingers.

When they go to bed that night, Patrick finally allows himself to curl up against Jonny. From the tightness of Jonny’s arm around his waist, Patrick guesses he’s not the only one that missed this.

---

Jonny knows how much Patrick loves the 4th of July. He’s heard everything there is to know about the way the Kane family celebrate Independence Day. He wakes up before Patrick, watches him until Patrick stirs, a dumb grin spreading on his face as he realizes what day it is.

“Fuck yeah, Jonny!” He punches the air with his fist because he’s ridiculous, and gives Jonny the stupidest smile. “S’Murrica day!”

Jonny makes a face. “Yay.”

Patrick’s eyes widen and he rolls over until he’s leaning over Jonny. “Don’t give me any of your Canadian sass, Toews.”

He hovers there a second and Jonny almost thinks he’s going to lean down or do something. An expression Jonny can’t actually read flickers across Patrick’s face and then he’s rolling away again, sitting up and covering the awkward moment with a grin and a punch to Jonny’s shoulder. “Get up and shower. I got surprises in store for you.”

Unless the surprises include a reason for Patrick’s weirdness, Jonny’s content to wait. He gets out bed anyway, rubbing at the back of his head and frowning; when he closes the door, he sees the look of annoyance on Patrick’s face—but the kind of annoyed expression he gets when he’s mad at himself, not Jonny.

Patrick’s still in the bedroom when Jonny comes out of the bathroom. He’s scrolling through his phone and half-smiling, so whatever he’s looking at must be amusing. Jonny pads over to the bed, rests a hand on Patrick’s shoulder. Patrick turns his grin on Jonny, but his eyes flick to Jonny’s chest before settling on his face. “Done?”

Jonny nods. “You better shower before the day ends and we haven’t done anything.”

“Never!” Patrick says, standing and grabbing Jonny’s shoulders, shaking him a little. “Independence Day will always wait for me!”

“Sure.” Jonny looks at the clock on the wall skeptically. “It seems to be moving along just fine, yet you’re standing here in your pajamas?”

Patrick sighs. “Jonny, Jonny, Jonny. You gotta relax, buddy. This day is going to be awesome.”

Pretty sure that Patrick went to sleep Patrick but woke up a pod person, Jonny watches him disappear into the bathroom, door closing on Patrick’s wink. Rolling his eyes, Jonny grabs jeans and a shirt from the closet. Seriously. He married a moron.

He decides to wait for Patrick, unsure exactly what is in store for him, and not quite ready to relinquish the calm they have. Patrick’s in a good mood for the first time in days, or at least a mood that isn’t disappearing in fits and bursts like it has been. Then again, Jonny might just be projecting his hopes onto the day. It has, after all, only been an hour or so since they woke up. He’s just putting on his wrist watch, the glare of his ring catching against the window, when Patrick comes out of the bathroom, towelling off his hair.

“Jonny! You don’t want breakfast?”

“I was waiting for you, obviously.” Jonny leans against the dresser, watches Patrick root around in the closet for his own clothes.

“Oh obviously,” Patrick mutters. He holds up a checked shirt and Jonny winces. “I saw that.”

“You were supposed to.” Jonny stalks over and plucks the offending shirt from Patrick’s hands. “Choose another. I’m not watching you walk around looking like we’re going to eat food off of you at any minute.”

Patrick narrows his eyes. “You’re an asshole.”

“And you’re really not wearing this shirt.”

Fine,” Patrick snaps. “God, I don’t see what’s so wrong with it.”

Jonny raises his eyebrows, holding up the shirt. “You know Giroux gets mocked for the plaid, right? I’d hate for people to put you in the same Bad Shirt category.”

Patrick smirks. “That’s a double standard, asshole. Your closet isn’t exactly free from plaid.” He looks pointedly at Jonny’s clothes hanging up.

Whatever. Jonny can totally fucking rock the plaid, okay. Giroux just looks dumb. “You wish you could pull off plaid as well as I do.”

“Sure, Jonny,” Patrick says, skeptically. Whatever. At least Patrick’s stopped objecting about the shirt. He pulls another out and holds it up, looking petulant. “Does this pass inspection?”

Jonny pretends to take time contemplating it. He shrugs.

“Oh fuck off, dickbag,” Patrick says. He shoves Jonny away, but he’s got a smile on his face so Jonny totally wins.

“Ready?” He says, pulling on a cap. Patrick nods. “Good, get moving.”

“Always ordering me around,” Patrick whines. “Off the ice you’re supposed to treat me as your equal.”

Jonny just stares at him. “Oh?”

Patrick punches Jonny’s arm. “I hate you.”

“No.” Jonny’s certain as he says it, follows Patrick down the staircase. “You really don’t.”

“You’re so lucky arguments are healthy for a relationship.” Pat grins from the bottom of the staircase.

Donna slaps her husband’s arm. “Stop it.”

“Oh God,” Patrick says, leaning into Jonny. “I’m sorry for my parents.”

Jonny snorts. “I remember interviews where we’ve spoken about this. Pretty sure the entire league knows about our arguments by now, Patrick.”

“Yeah,” Patrick mumbles. “On ice.”

“And off!” Jackie chimes in helpfully.

Patrick opens his mouth to say something but Jonny puts his hands over it and nods at Donna. “Everyone down for breakfast?”

---

Jonny sits next to his dad at the breakfast table, aware that they’ve spent little time together, the boat trip the day before notwithstanding. Jonny’s always enjoyed a great relationship with his parents, but apart from few trips home to Winnipeg in the summer, and the games they manage to get to during the season, he doesn’t get to spend a lot of time with them. It’s not difficult; it is what it is.

“You set for the day?”

Jonny shrugs. “I don’t even know what I’m doing.” He scowls. He doesn’t like not knowing, and Patrick’s smugness about being the one calling the shots isn’t exactly filling him with confidence.

His dad laughs at him which is totally uncalled for. “That must be really bothering you, huh?”

Jonny glares down at his breakfast.

“Cheer up, Jonny,” Patrick says from across the table. He kicks Jonny’s ankle. “I promise you’ll have fun!”

Jonny contemplates throwing a forkful of egg at Patrick’s face but he catches his mom’s eye and she doesn’t look like she’s in a forgiving enough mood for that. He settles for kicking Patrick back, harder. “You’re an asshole.”

“I know.” Patrick looks pleased by that. God, he’s such an idiot.

“Boys,” Donna admonishes. She looks amused, though, and what is with the Kane family and amusement on his behalf? He’s totally noted Jackie sniggering behind her hand at them since they came down from breakfast.

Jonny pushes his plate away. “Maybe I don’t want to celebrate Independence Day.”

The looks he gets from around the table are all tinged with a little bit of shock. Thankfully, Patrick seems to get that he’s joking and his eyes widen. “Jonny, why you gotta be this way? Being Canadian doesn’t mean you get to beg out of the awesome things I have planned for you!”

Erica giggles from Patrick’s left and Patrick sticks his tongue out at her. “Not sure we care to know.”

“Erica!” Donna shakes her head. “Honestly. Patrick, be nice.”

“Jonny’s the one being Canadian about this. Uh, no offence, Andree, Bryan.”

Jonny’s mom is laughing. Figures she’d find it funny. Patrick’s practically got her wrapped around his finger.

David looks up. “Hey! I’m Canadian too!”

Jessica pats his arm. “Don’t be sad. If he didn’t mention you, he sees you as an honorary American.”

“No higher honor,” Jonny replies, deadpan.

Patrick opens his mouth, frowns, and then closes it. “I hate you.”

Jonny thumbs at the ring on his finger. “Oh?”

“We could always divorce.”

“You are not divorcing,” Jonny’s mom says with a steely tone. “Not for a couple of months at least!”

Everyone laughs, but Jonny drops his gaze back to the table. Well, fuck. Instead of kicking him, Patrick rubs his ankle against Jonny’s gently. Looking up in surprise, Jonny sees the look of apology on Patrick’s face.

“I’d never divorce you, Jonny,” Patrick says, tone light. It saves anyone from noticing Jonny’s silence but Jonny can hear the determination behind the words and doesn’t know what it means.

---

Patrick tells Jonny where they’re going while the plates are being cleaned up for breakfast. They’re standing out of the way, close to the window, so as not to be in anyone’s way.

“We’re taking out a boat?”

Patrick rubs at his nose, not meeting Jonny’s eyes. “Yeah. Well. I mean, they let fireworks off over Lake Erie, and—”

“Well,” Jonny cuts in. “I guess that’s okay.”

There’s a pause while Patrick studies his face. “Yeah?”

Jonny crowds up against Patrick, hands on his shoulders. “You don’t have to impress me, Patrick. Pretty sure this,” he waves his ring finger in Patrick’s face, “means I’m pretty sold on this whole thing.”

“No,” Patrick says, seriously. “It means you saved me from myself.”

“This again?” Jonny feels the frustration build in his chest but Patrick shakes his head angrily.

“No, that’s not what I—I meant. I’m not trying to impress you. Fuck’s sake, Jonny, I know you don’t have to be here.”

“But I am,” Jonny says. “I’m here.”

Patrick lets out a breath. “That’s—that’s good.”

Jonny doesn’t really know what’s happening here, but Patrick rests his forehead on Jonny’s shoulder and it’s the first time he’s initiated contact, so Jonny takes it.

They’re interrupted by a polite cough. Donna is standing there, gesturing at the table—which now has an array of foods on it. “One of you is going to help in here with the food. The other is going to help set up the boats.”

“But—” Patrick flicks his gaze between Jonny and his mother and Jonny shrugs. “You’re splitting us up?”

“We don’t want you making out while we’re trying to work!” Jackie yells from the other side of the counter.

Jonny snorts as Patrick flips her off and gets a smack of his mother’s hand on his arm. “Ow! But she—”

“Out,” Donna says. She doesn’t look to see if they comply, and Jonny guesses she’s confident that they’re going to obey.

“I’ll go outside,” Jonny says, before Patrick can.

Patrick scowls. “I get stuck with the butter knife?”

“You make a better sandwich than I do.” Jonny shrugs, like it makes sense. It does, obviously, and he tags along with David, Pat and his dad out to the jetty. Jessica jogs out to to join them as they’re walking out the door.

“I have great upper body strength,” she says, grinning. Jonny noticed David checking her out but doesn’t say anything; it’ll be amusing to see Patrick lose his shit and satisfying to see brother pay for what he’s doing.

“Better than your brother’s.” Jonny nudges her.

She laughs a little like Patrick only not as, well, good as it feels to make Patrick laugh. Jonny scowls internally that he’s thinking that. Patrick’s two boats—and honestly, Patrick has boats.

“It’s nice, no?”

Jonny watches as his father helps Pat pull back the tarp on the boat. It’s—a boat. Jonny doesn’t really rate the aesthetic of boats but he can admit that it looks new, looks like a boat that will get them where they want to know. He isn’t surprised to see that the seats are red leather and the pontoon has black and red trim. He snorts. “Subtle.”

Jessica rolls her eyes. “Yeah, he’s obsessed with hockey.”

“That’s because it’s hockey,” Jonny answers, distractedly. It’s a Blackhawks custom job, because of course it is.

It’s then that Jonny catches sight of the name, written in cursive on the side, big and bold. Chelsea. For fuck’s sake.

“Jesus,” he mutters.

“Please,” David cuts in. “Like you wouldn’t have named a boat after something hockey related.”

Jonny just glares at him. It’s not really that he thinks it’s dumb, he gets it, it’s that Patrick made everything Blackhawks related and it makes something in Jonny’s chest tight and uncomfortable.

Patrick loves Chicago, Jonny’s never doubted it. He loves the Blackhawks and he’s not really though about how much the potential trade must have messed with Patrick’s head.

“He loves the team.” Jessica says, and Jonny studies her face.

She’s looking at him like she understands what he’s thinking. Not all of it, she can’t possibly know that, but she looks like she understands Patrick and yeah, of course she does.

“I knew that.”

“Well,” Jessica says, gesturing at the boat. “You realise he would have called that Jonny if he could right?”

David snorts.”Yeah?”

Jessica shakes her head and elbows David in the side. “I mean, that the Blackhawks and Jonny are the same thing to him.”

Jonny kind of feels that one like a punch to the stomach.

“He’d play no matter where he was,” Jonny hears himself say. He doesn’t want validation, he knows, but he sees the way Jessica flares up at that but she’s smiling, like she has no clue what are words are doing inside of Jonny’s head. “He wanted to play me at the all-star game.”

Jessica raises her eyebrows. “Yeah but the season’s where it counts. The playoffs. There’s no way Patrick’ll ever be happy unless you’re his center.”

Before Jonny can reply to that, Pat calls them forward and Jessica jogs away. David’s staring at him, curious, and Jonny can’t even bring himself to say anything.

He moves forward to help with the boats and tries not to think about Patrick until he’s walking out to the boats with their mothers, his sisters and food.

Jonny and Patrick are cornered by Erica, Jessica, Jackie and David while their parents are putting the supplies onto the pontoon. It’s a little suspicious and, considering even Patrick doesn’t seem to know what’s going on, Jonny’s not sure what he’s supposed to think. Erica, who is still holding one of the boxes, and it’s too big to be food, hands it over.

“What’s this?” Patrick asks, taking it from her.

Jackie looks way too pleased with herself, Jessica is rocking back on her heels and Erica is smug. Not to mention the look of amusement on David’s face. Jesus, what has Jonny gotten himself into?

“It’s your wedding present!”

Patrick looks positively gleeful at that and Jonny rolls his eyes. Tearing into the box with abandon, Patrick grins over the tip of it at Jonny. When he finally gets it open, and Jonny puts it on the ground so they can both look inside, he pauses.

Water-skis.

Standing abruptly, Patrick hisses, “I told you that in confidence!”

Jonny’s pretty sure he mentioned only once to Patrick that he’s always wanted to water-ski and he wasn’t even sure he was being payed attention to. Patrick’s looking at him, expression stubborn but with apprehension that he’s trying to hide.

Jonny decides to put him—and their gathered siblings—out of his misery. “You sure you’re going to be able to do this?”

Patrick takes the bait. “I’ll be better than you.”

Giving him a look that conveys his skepticism about that, Jonny says, “You can try.”

Erica chimes in. “You’re going to let us have a little go, right?”

“Oh I see,” Patrick smirks. “Buy us a present and want to use it?”

Jackie kicks him. “Sharing is caring, Patrick!”

“Yeah, Kaner,” Jonny says. “Sharing is caring.”

Patrick opens his mouth and then closes it again. “Pot, kettle, black.”

“Ugh guys, seriously.” Jessica shakes her head. “Please. Just get on the boat before we’re forced to throw up.”

Jonny grins, nudging Patrick with his shoulder. “Fine. Come on.

Patrick picks the box back up. “Let’s take this on the boat then, yeah?”

Jonny throws an arm around his shoulders. “Pretty sure I’m going to hate this celebration.”

Patrick smirks, relaxes under Jonny’s arm. “Whatever, Toews. I’m going to knock your fucking socks off. Get ready for some awesome shit, man.”

It is awesome shit.

The picnic sounds...well. He’s not a big fan of picnics but if it’s a Kane family tradition, which obviously now extends to the entire Toews family, Jonny’s not going to say anything against it.

“You’re going to love it, asshole.” Patrick interprets Jonny’s look correctly. “I promise you don’t have to look like you’re enjoying yourself, though.”

Jonny scowls and flicks Patrick with the life jacket Pat hands to him, raising his eyebrows and when he gets a, “Hey!” in return. “It’ll be fine.”

“Trying to convince yourself?”

“No.” Jonny shrugs. “But it won’t be fine for you if you don’t shut your mouth.”

“You wound me.” Patrick says, clutching at his chest like a moron. “Why you gotta be this way, Jonny?”

“You love it.” Jonny says, with utter confidence.

Patrick bumps his hips against Jonny’s. “Yeah.” He draws it out. “I guess.”

Jonny slips an arm around Patrick’s waist. There’s a momentary twitch that Jonny’s come to expect but Patrick just leans in closer to Jonny. “Am I going to have to do anything?”

Patrick snorts. “Eat food? Attempt to enjoy yourself? Pretty sure if all else fails, we can come back to the house and you can convince me to shoot a puck around with you.”

Jonny’s a little surprised by that; he hasn’t thought much about playing hockey over the past few days. He’s not accustomed to that and he looks at the top of Patrick’s head, thoughtful. He remembers Q’s words from so long ago, telling Jonny he’s found something more than hockey in Patrick. He’s not really sure what to do with that.

He doesn’t have to think about it for too long, because Bryan and David are climbing into the motorboat, and, once everyone is settled on the pontoon comfortably, the two boats pull away from the shore.

The trip out onto the lake consists mostly of Patrick baiting his sisters and suffering when they give back as good as they get. Jonny spends most of the time sitting next to his mother, watching her fall a little bit more in love with Patrick every moment. He’d hate it if he wasn’t doing the same thing. It’s just—now that Jonny knows what the feeling is, he can’t help but think about it, about every awful thing Patrick is and has ever done, and how much they make up this ridiculous, American asshole that he’s decided to not only love, but marry and he kind of needs to take a moment to let that sink in.

He’s not as afraid of it as he thought he might be. Looking around the pontoon, and the motorboat keeping pace alongside, he wonders when he accepted this extended family so readily.

---

The water skiing is as good as Jonny thought it would be.

They settle a decent distance from Patrick’s house, enough that it’s not visible to the naked eye. Jessica pulls a beach ball from somewhere and declares they’re playing a game of water polo. Of course, Patrick is one of the first to get involved but Jonny bows out.

“Spoilsport,” Patrick says, wrinkling up his nose.

Jonny gives the water skis a pointed look. “We brought them for a reason.”

“Fuck yes!” Patrick fist pumps and apologizes to Jessica. “We’re testing out this baby.”

The girls and David decide on two teams, Jessica immediately teaming up with David and Jonny’s not sure anymore which one of them most wants to drive Patrick insane.

Thankfully, Patrick’s too busy climbing over into the motorboat to notice. Jonny hands him the skis and then joins him, leaning against the side of the boat as Patrick starts the motor.

“Not going to try and drive her?” Patrick asks.

Jonny shrugs. “I’m having first go on the skis. Figured I should probably let you have something.”

Let me-.” Patrick opens his mouth and then says, “Fuck you!”

Jonny does get first go at the water skis, and Patrick is delighted when he realises he gets to be the one pulling Jonny along. They’re not dumb enough to do anything stupid, mostly because watching Patrick ski out along behind the boat, the laughter on his face, the way he looks at Jonny, like this is the best fucking thing-

Well, Jonny wonders what Patrick sees on his face. It’s not hockey levels of awesome, fuck no, but it’s something close to it. Just the two of them, the open water and nothing else.

They’re both in the boat, driving back to the pontoon, and Jonny’s rubbing out his hair with one of the towels his dad had handed them before they’d driven off, and watching Patrick’s face. He looks happier than he has in a long time. Catching him looking, Patrick shrugs. “What?”

Jonny doesn’t say anything, just keeps staring. It’s good to see Patrick like this.

“Shut up,” Patrick says, eventually.

“Didn’t say anything.” Jonny leans in closer and nudges Patrick’s shoulder. “Food now, right?”

“I dunno,” Patrick says. “The girls are probably gonna wanna play with our present.”

“Yeah,” Jonny allows. “Guess I should let David have a turn, too.”

Patrick throws back his head and laughs. “Fuck, Jonny, you’re such an asshole.”

Jonny smiles, smug, and doesn’t stop, even when they reach the pontoon.

“You guys are back!” Jessica yells, waving her arms.

Patrick snorts as Jonny leans in and says, “She knows we can see her just fine, right?”

“Fuck you, Toews,” Jessica says. “I can hear you, too.”

Obviously delighted with his sister, Patrick just keeps on fucking grinning but Jonny ignores him, staring down at Jessica. She isn’t phased at all by what Patrick calls his ‘patented Tazer stare’ and just flips him off. “We were gonna start eating without you.”

“Liar,” Patrick says, jumping onto the pontoon. He waits for Jonny to climb over and then pulls him over to the seat David’s only just vacated to get food.

“Hey!” David says, kicking Patrick in the shin. “Get your own fucking seat.”

“Children,” Jonny’s mom says. “Language.”

She says it sing-song and Jonny knows she’s bullshitting; she’s usually the one swearing like a sailor back home, in French because his mom is nothing if not a brilliant woman, but swearing nonetheless. Patrick just keeps grinning and Jonny’s going to have to be careful with this. The last thing he needs is Patrick and his mom getting close enough that he’ll tell her every-fucking-thing going on with him.

“Seriously,” Jonny says, leaning in and glaring. “Cut this shit out, Kaner.”

Patrick doesn’t look surprised, just smirks, which means he knows exactly what he’s doing. Jonny should just stop doubting the asshole; Patrick knows how to dig deep and get to Jonny in the best and worst ways, just like Jonny knows how to with Patrick.

“Why, Jonny? Just making nice with my mother-in-law.”

“You don’t need to make nice, asshole. You knew her before.”

“If it makes you feel better,” Patrick says, leaning in close enough that his mouth is right by Jonny’s ear. “You’re the only Toews for me.”

“I better be,” Jonny says, deadpan. He holds Patrick’s gaze as he pulls back. Patrick’s face smooths out into surprise, but then he smiles, quick and easy.

“Duh.”

“Eeew,” Jackie says, dropping down on the seat next to Patrick. “Could you not?”

“Jackie, Jackie,” Patrick says, leaning over to steal a sandwich from her plate. “When you’re married, which you should never ever be, you will understand the nuances of love.”

“Do you even know what that word means?” David shoots across from the other side of the boat. He grins sweetly at Patrick and Jonny’s lip twitches.

Patrick goes to hold up a finger, flicks a gaze to Jonny’s mom and settles for poking his tongue out instead. “Hate you, David Toews!”

“Same, Patrick Kane.”

“Eat your damn food, children,” Pat throws out, perched at the front of the boat.

Jonny grabs Patrick and himself food and they eat it in a silence punctuated only by the bickering and friendly arguments that come from being amongst family.

---

“No.” Jonny glares at Patrick. “No.”

Patrick’s grinning like an idiot and, behind him, his sisters are all grinning too. God it’s like they planned this. “But you gave such a poor display at the wedding.”

“I did not,” Jonny snaps.

“I don’t know,” Jonny’s mom says. “It lacked your usual standard, mon cheri.”

Jonny stares at her. “Maman!”

“You know,” David says, leaning around Donna to grin at Jonny. “The video is pretty fucking hilarious.”

Jonny flips David off, takes the admonishment from his mother and snaps, “Fine!”

The girls cheer and Jonny knows, knows that he’s going to regret this. For the next hour, he suffers through Patrick’s sisters teaching him the “correct way to Kaner shuffle,” while alternately glaring at Patrick’s dumb fucking grin, and ignoring the video his mom is no doubt taking with her phone. He was pretty damn great at it in the first place, not that he wants to be because it’s some dumb dance Kaner did when he was being a dick—even if it was funny—and it gets even worse when Patrick insists on joining in.

Jonny would never admit, even under pain of death, that he was having fun, but he’s pretty sure it’s written all over his face anyway, much to his chagrin.

Thankfully, once they’re done with the Kaner shuffle, and he’s actually allowed to sit down and enjoy the gentle rocking of the boat, David offers to take the girls out water skiing.

Patrick stands and says, “David, with me,” like he’s the father or something and Jonny actually catches Pat laughing behind his hand as Patrick details exactly what David is to do and what he is not to do with his sisters in the boat while everyone laughs at him. Jonny doesn’t do it out loud, but he’s definitely doing it inside his head.

When Patrick sits back down next to him, he glares and socks Jonny in the thigh. “I know you’re laughing at me, asshole.”

“Just reminiscing,” Jonny says, because he is an asshole. “I remember being similarly lectured by you.”

Patrick shrugs and opens his mouth to speak but Jonny’s already talking over him.

“Should have told me the real Kane I’d have to worry about was you.”

The blush creeps up the back of Patrick’s neck and Jonny watches it, fascinated. “Jonny—“

“Yeah?” Jonny says.

Patrick searches his face and then ducks his head, shrugging, feet either side of his legs on the bench. “Nothing.”

Jonny settles back himself, watches the girls and David in the distance.

They’re called back just as the sun is beginning to set. Patrick’s sitting next to Jonny’s mom and Jonny knows she’s teaching him French swear words just from the look of glee on Patrick’s face, the steady way she holds Jonny’s gaze when she looks at him, and the fact that Patrick actually says one of the words out loud, grinning.

“Fuck you,” Jonny says. “Donna—“

“Don’t worry,” Donna says, patting Jonny’s shoulder consolatory. “I’ll tell you everything you want to know about the young Patrick Kane.”

“What isn’t already on the internet,” Patrick mutters.

“Your easter outfit was kinda cute, Kaner,” Jonny says, which makes both sets of parents laugh. Jonny’s a little smug after that, even when Patrick’s glare turns into a reluctant roll of his eyes and a small smile.

Jonny helps Jackie and Erica back onto the pontoon as they pull up alongside, but David insists on being the one to help Jessica and then says, “Just be chivalrous,” to Patrick, with a shit-eating grin.

Jonny’s pretty impressed. He and Patrick have been best friends for years and not even he would test Patrick where his sisters are concerned.

“It’s okay,” Jessica puts in. “Patrick stop being an overprotective brother. David and I are just being friendly.”

Patrick settles back next to Jonny and doesn’t say anything out loud, but Jonny catches the, “above the waist friendly, Toews,” that he tries and hides.

“Patrick. My brother isn’t going to try and do anything with her.”

“How do you know?” Patrick asks. “Gotta watch out for you Canadians.”

Jonny scowls. What is it about Patrick and Canada? “And after I spent the entire day celebrating your dumb separation day.”

He says the last just to watch the pained look on Patrick’s face. “Jonny, Jonny, I know you know it’s called “4th of July”. Please.”

“Boys,” Donna admonishes. “The fireworks are starting soon.”

Jonny curls his arm around Patrick’s shoulders as they wait. “You do this every year?” He asks low, voice barely above a whisper.

Patrick nods, his hair brushing against Jonny’s cheek. “Yeah.”

“Thanks,” Jonny says, eventually, when they’ve the first eruption of fireworks.

Patrick turns to look at him, brows furrowing a little before his expression settles into something close to happy. “Thanks for being here.”

“Where else would I be?” Jonny murmurs, pulling Patrick closer.

For the first time in forever, it’s like Patrick melts into the touch, actively seeks it instead of just going with whatever Jonny wants. The fireworks are going off overhead, and the wind is rustling Patrick’s hair. Jonny runs his fingers through the soft curls; Patrick tips his head back a little and Jonny brushes his nose against Patrick’s cheek. He wants to kiss but it feels—it feels good like this, with the soft slow, breath that Patrick lets out against his cheek and then Patrick’s pushing forward, nuzzling Jonny in return.

Their foreheads are pressed together, and their lips are so fucking close to touching. Patrick just says, “Jonny.”

“Yeah.” Jonny’s hand is still in Patrick’s hair, the other curled around the soft, exposed skin of Patrick’s neck. “Happy 4th July, Patrick.”

Patrick laughs softly. “Idiot. But yeah. Yeah, Jonny.”

There’s a click of a camera phone and Jonny groans, even as Patrick turns his face a little, forehead still touching Jonny’s. “Mom!”

“Sorry sweetheart,” Donna says, sounding anything but sorry. Jonny’s pretty sure he hears his own mom ask for a copy and, what the fuck.

“Should have gone on a separate boat,” Jonny says.

It dies down a little, again, after that, and Jonny settles Patrick back against him as they watch the fireworks. Patrick’s leaning heavily on his shoulder, clutching at the arm Jonny has curled around his chest.

He’s pretty sure Patrick’s close to dozing, from the way his words start slurring a little as he explains why “Murrica is a good country, Jonny, you gotta love it,” and yeah, Jonny finds it an acceptable temporary home while he’s playing hockey, but he does want Canada. Barring any life changing things.

Like Patrick Kane and his deep rooted love of America.

“You’d live with me in ‘Merica right, Jonny?” Patrick says, tapping Jonny’s wrist as he speaks. “In my house.”

Jonny doesn’t say anything for a while, nose pressed to Patrick’s temple. When Patrick squeezes his wrist he says, “We’d talk about it. Watch the fireworks, Kaner.”

Patrick does, lets out a soft sigh and watches the rest of the display in silence.

---

Patrick’s a dead weight by the time they start the boats back up to go home. Donna’s handing out blankets to keep warm, and throws one over Patrick, pulling it up so it covers him. She pauses and smiles at Jonny, resting a hand gently on his shoulder.

“Everything okay?”

Jonny nods carefully, feeling the steady breaths Patrick expels over his arm. “Yeah.”

“You’ve had a good day?” She’s staring down at Patrick as she asks and Jonny looks too.

Patrick’s done a good job with making the celebration of an American holiday an acceptable way to pass the time. When he says as much, Donna’s expression is amused.

“Acceptable?”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, feeling his cheeks heat up. Fuck.

Donna grins and yeah, she knows it too. “Sure, Jonny.”

She moves away and Jonny shakes his head. When he looks down, Patrick is looking up at him, eyes a little clearer than they were before and his grin is dumb.

What?” Jonny says.

Patrick leans up to flick Jonny’s chin with his fingers. “You love ‘Merica, Jonny! Admit it.”

“No.”

“Awww,” Patrick says. Then, with a wicked smile, he tips his head back and, in a fucking terrible off-key voice, starts singing Star Spangled Banner. “Oh say can you seeeee—“

“Why am I even married to you?” Jonny says, loud and cutting across Patrick’s terrible singing.

The pontoon erupts in laughter. Jonny shakes his head as Patrick grins back at him. God. Jonny really does love this stupid asshole. His hair is fucking dumb, he’s American and his family is large and loud and brilliant and they’re his, now.

“God,” Jonny says, closing his eyes and leaning back against Patrick. “What have I done.”

“S’okay Jonny,” Patrick says, patting Jonny’s arm and then slowing down, fingers stroking down the length of Jonny’s wrist. “I did it too.”

Yeah. Yeah they did. The thing is, Jonny doesn’t think either of them minds all that much.

---

Patrick wakes up, groaning into the pillow. He stops groaning and grins when he remembers yesterday, showing Jonny that his Canadian pride is nothing in the face of badass 4th July celebrations.

He turns his face, only to find Jonny already watching him. It’s totally Edward Cullen but Patrick doesn’t care, just rolls over onto Jonny and shoves at him. “Dude, you totally had an awesome day.”

“So obnoxious,” Jonny says, shaking his head but whatever, he can’t fool Patrick.

Patrick grins and rests his chin on Jonny’s chest.

“Get up,” Jonny says. “We have to fly out later this morning.”

Patrick pulls a face. “You know how to dampen my mood, asshole.”

He rolls off and away, sitting up on the edge of the bed and running his hands through his hair. “Ugh packing.”

“Good job,” Jonny says, walking around in his underwear like the freak he is, seriously, Patrick was never lying about that. “I packed for you, then.”

Patrick pokes his head in the closet and yeah, Jonny’s totally put his clothes in his bag. “Dude! I fucking love you.”

Jonny smirks as he disappears into the bathroom and shuts the door. Ugh. Patrick really needs to stop saying that out loud. Or no, he totally doesn’t. He’s got this. He and Jonny are going to be the best fucking married hockey players ever. Except secret ones.

Patrick snorts, and bends over to find some clean underwear and clothes. God. He’s going to be glad to get back to Chicago and start season prep. Not that he doesn’t love his family, but this wedding has kinda overshadowed everything and it’s been full on and Patrick’s looking forward to peace and quiet.

Well. Some measure of it. Life with Jonny can never be totally peace-free, because he’s a weirdo who likes to make Patrick’s life difficult.

Patrick stares at his hockey stick, which Jonny has placed neatly against the wall next to his bags, and runs his fingers along the handle. He’s not going to start crying again or anything, he isn’t, but he remembers the look on Jonny’s face when he’d been reading and fuck, fuck.

“Hey,” Jonny says, and Patrick jumps. He hadn’t even heard the door open. “Shower’s free.”

“Cool,” Patrick says, snapping his hand away from the stick, like he’s been caught doing something he shouldn’t. He darts past Jonny and ducks into the bathroom, closing the door and leaning against it. “Get it the fuck together, Kane.”

When he comes out the bathroom, Jonny’s moved the bags to the doorway, but he’s not in the room. Patrick figures he wants to say goodbye to his parents privately or whatever. Patrick hovers, making sure he’s got everything he needs and hasn’t left anything behind.

“Packed your charger?” Jackie asks from the doorway.

Patrick snorts. “Jonny would never let me forget that.” He gestures at the bag he uses for his carry-on. “See?”

Jackie nods and watches him tug on his hoodie. “When will you be back in Buffalo?”

“I dunno, Jack,” Patrick says, honestly. He gives her a one-armed hug. “Promise you can come visit if you get lonely.”

Jackie rolls her eyes. “As if I wanna come and stay with you and Jonny in your love nest.”

Screwing up his nose, Patrick frowns. “Love nest? You are hanging out with the wrong people.”

The looks she gives him is one he deserves but not one he should ever have to see on her face.

“Fine, look, I’m just saying.”

“I know, Patty,” she says. She squeezes him and rests her head on his shoulder. “But you can’t like, run off to Winnipeg or whatever either, right?”

Patrick winces. He feels his chest tighten and he pulls her into a proper hug, resting his chin on her head. “I swear, I’d talk about it with you guys first.”

Jackie sighs and squeezes Patrick a little too hard. “You being married is weird.”

Patrick closes his eyes. Fuck. He knows.

“Sorry,” Jackie says, pulling away. Her eyes look wet but she isn’t crying. Patrick hopes she doesn’t; the last thing he wants to do is have to face his family with a post-crying face. “If you moved to Winnipeg, I wouldn’t hate it.”

“I would,” Patrick says, trying his best at a grin. It’s not that much of a lie because he’s mocked Winterpeg so often it’s second nature. But if this thing with Jonny was real, and if Jonny asked, he’d go. He’d bitch about it, of course, but god, he would go.

He walks downstairs with Jackie and the two of them make their way into the kitchen. Andree and Patrick’s mom are the only ones in there. Jackie kisses him on the cheek and backs out, abandoning him.

“Where’s Jonny?” Patrick asks, adjusting his cap as he sits at the table.

Donna sighs and tugs it off his head. “How many times, Patrick. Not at the table.”

Patrick says, “Sorry,” as Andree gestures outside to the cars. “He’s helping Bryan put the bags in the car. We’re flying out this evening.”

Patrick relaxes back in the chair. “Going back to sunny Winter-innipeg?”

Andree snorts as Donna sighs. Whatever, Patrick knows Andree kinda maybe likes him, so he figures he’s okay. “I know you know it’s snowing in Winnipeg, Patrick.”

Patrick grins and leans across the table. “I know. Sorry, with Jonny—“

“Don’t worry,” Andree assures him with a pat to the hand. “I’m a Quebec woman.”

Patrick’s still laughing when Jonny comes into the kitchen, a gatorade in his hand. He gives Patrick a look, then narrows his eyes at his mother. “What now?”

“Don’t worry, Jonathan. We were just talking about Winnipeg.”

Jonny looks at him sharply. “Dammit Patrick.”

Patrick smiles sweetly up at him. “Relax, dearest.”

Jonny flips him off and then apologizes to Donna. “Come on Patrick, help me put the bags in the car.”

Moving to comply, Patrick grabs the shake his mom holds out for him and follows Jonny out of the kitchen.

“You mom totally gets me, dude. We’re solid on Winterpeg.”

“Winnipeg,” Jonny corrects automatically. “And I’m sure my mom was placating you. She knows how much you dislike anything remotely Canadian.”

“Except her,” Patrick says, falling into step with Jonny. “And your dad.” He pretends to think for a little longer. “And you.”

Jonny snorts. “Sure.”

Carrying the bags and everything else down the stairs is pretty hilarious unless you’re the one carrying them, so the fact that Jessica doesn’t move in to help until the very last second is pretty fucking annoying, but Patrick’s only too relieved to hand off some of the bags to her. Jonny, the stoic asshole, refuses to relinquish anything.

Of course the only thing Patrick clings to with an iron grip is his hockey stick. He’s just wondering if he has any spare gear bags lying around, when Jonny peers back over his shoulder. “Your mom found one your old hockey bags for the sticks.”

Patrick nods dumbly. Sometimes he forgets that they’re on this freaky wavelength thing. It usually startles the rookies; it’s not supposed to startle Patrick, who’s kind of party to it. He helps Jonny load up the car and then stands back, surveying their haul. “Is there room in your apartment for all of this?”

“No,” Jonny says, automatically. And then, when Patrick looks at him weirdly, says, wryly, “There is in our apartment, though.”

“Oh,” Patrick says. Then, feeling like his smile is going to split his fucking face, turns back to the house. “Yeah.”

Jonny tucks his arm around Patrick’s waist and tugs him back a little, until he stops. “Back to reality.”

He makes it a statement but Patrick can read the question in his eyes. “It’s Chicago. We’ll be fine.”

Jonny nods, lessens his grip but Patrick doesn’t move.

Sighing as he notes the time on his watch, Patrick nods back at the house. “We better say goodbye.”

Patrick cries, obviously, because he is Patrick Kane, star forward for the Chicago Blackhawks, and he’s a notorious cryer.

Whatever, it’s his family.

He takes ages hugging Erica, who tells him she’s going to make him call her when he has time, and then Jackie, who actually does cry, starting him off.

His dad kind of looks a little teary as he pulls Patrick in. “I’m proud of you, son.”

Patrick swallows down the tears and just nods tightly. “Thanks dad.”

When they pull away, his dad looks stern. “I’m not kidding, Patrick. You’re different from the kid who came back from Madison.”

“I’m not,” Patrick says quietly, but he can’t help looking at Jonny.

“Yeah,” his dad says. “He’s good for you. Like you’re good for him.”

Patrick swallows again, scrubbing at his face with a palm. He just wants them all to stop talking about it. “Dad—“

“We’ll see you soon, Buzz.”

Patrick nods tightly and then lets his mom envelope him in a hug. “Mom.”

She kisses the top of his head, squeezing him tightly. “I’m proud of you, too, sweetheart. So proud.”

Patrick can’t help crying then, but he grits his teeth and lets himself. It’s his mom. When they pull away, Patrick has to look for Jessica before he can start crying all over again. To his surprise, she’s hugging Jonny, who looks even more startled than Patrick; he laughs, delighted, and decides to retaliate by pulling David in for a brohug. He’s not sure they’re at the clutching hug stage yet.

David pulls away quickly and nods. “It was good to get to know you.”

“Yeah,” Patrick offers. “Still not sure you’re not after my sisters, Toews, but you’re kinda okay.”

David snorts, a smile on his face which, yeah, Patrick’s totally got this.

“Hey,” Jessica says. “I’m ready now.”

Patrick laughs and tugs her in, hugs her tightly. When he pulls away, he brushes his nose against hers. “Thanks for taking care of Jonny.”

“No problem,” she grins. “I kinda like him,”

Patrick mock narrows his eyes at her and they both dissolve into laughter.

While Jonny says a thank you and goodbye to Patrick’s parents, Patrick does the same to Bryan and Andree. “Thank you for making this awesome.”

Bryan’s been quiet the entire time but Patrick knows from the golfing trip and shit like that, that Bryan’s a pretty chill and quiet dude. When he tugs Patrick in for a hug, Patrick’s surprised but pleased. “Nice to get to know you better, Patrick.”

“Yeah, you too.” Patrick pulls away. “We’ll come up to Winnipeg sometime.”

“You better,” Andree says, taking over the hug. Patrick lets her, smiling into her neck. “We’ll come see some games when you’re in Canada.”

“Yes,” Patrick says, giving her a little fistbump. Unlike her loser son, she totally gives him one back immediately. “Your cooking is the greatest.” His mom coughs and he blushes. “After mom’s.”

Andree laughs and squeezes him one last time. “Get out of here before you upset someone.”

“Yes Ma’am,” Patrick grins, and then grabs his carry-on bag from the stairs. It’s time to go home, back to Chicago and back to hockey.

---

The flight to O’Hare passes pretty quickly. Patrick sleeps, as usual, feet up on the seat underneath his legs, arm rest up, and head on Jonny’s shoulder while Jonny reads a douchey French magazine. It’s not weird when they do it on the Blackhawks charter plane because the guys all know it’s just how they are. But when Patrick wakes up before touch down, he notices the smile on the hostess’ face and the way she’s looking at them like they’re adorable or something.

Jonny’s glaring at her retreating back but Patrick’s already panicking. Shit. What if--

“We gotta be careful,” Patrick says, buckling himself in for landing. “In the airport, I mean.”

Jonny frowns. “What are you talking about?”

“She thinks we’re cute, Jonny. In Chicago, we can’t be like that.” Patrick looks down at the ring on his finger. “Are we going to have to take these off?”

He hates the sound of his voice, hates more how much he doesn’t want to be having this conversation. He wants to wear Jonny’s band proudly, not have to hide it. Then again, he also wants to love Jonny freely, not that he’s ever going to admit that out loud, but he doesn’t get that either.

“Yeah,” Jonny says, quiet and annoyed. “We should probably do that before we land.”

Patrick pinches the ring between his fingers and starts to pull it off. There’s a stark white band of skin underneath, where he’s tanned over the wedding and he swallows as he stares own at it.

Jonny lifts his hips, tugs his wallet from his back pocket and opens it. Patrick watches him place the ring in the zip section carefully, closing the wallet and then holding it tightly.

“Weird, huh.” Jonny doesn’t reply, but he doesn’t have to. Patrick doesn’t want to put his ring in his wallet. He tugs the chain and cross from around his neck instead, and pulls it over his head. Jonny watches him closely as he threads the ring onto the chain and tries not to flush under the attention. He makes sure the chain is well hidden under his hoodie and then rests his head against the chair.

The sooner they get out of O’Hare, the better.

They’re walking through arrivals, Jonny pressing close to Patrick, when Patrick sees the kid with the Blackhawks cap. He’s no stranger to getting stopped at airports and isn’t surprised when the kid catches sight of them and practically has a heart attack. Patrick steps away from Jonny, who immediately frowns and opens his mouth to ask what Patrick assumes is why, when he sees the kid. Realisation hits him a second later and Patrick knows that look; knows it’s frustration and irritation and guilt all rolled into one.

Patrick turns as the kid bounds up to them, asking for a photo. His mother apologises profusely and Patrick smiles at her, tells her it’s fine. It usually is, but both he and Jonny are distracted. He hopes it doesn’t show and ruin the kids experience totally or whatever, but he seems pretty happy when he walks away, plus two signatures and a photograph.

“We are going to have to be careful,” Jonny says, echoing Patrick on the plane.

Patrick doesn’t bother answering. “This fucking sucks.”

---

“This fucking sucks,” Patrick says for the hundredth time, shoving their bags into Jonny’s car. It’s still in the parking lot, thankfully, and Patrick’s only too happy to slide into the passenger side and close his eyes. He can feel the cool metal of the ring against his chest and he sucks in a breath as Jonny slams the door.

“We’ll be home soon.”

Patrick nods. He pulls his phone from his pocket and turns it on, figuring he should probably see if he has any messages from anyone while they were mid-flight.

He’s surprised to find a waiting call from the Blackhawks office on his phone and reaches across the dash to grab Jonny’s.

“Fuck off,” Jonny snaps and reaches for the phone.

Patrick hugs it close and says, “I got a message from the front office.”

Jonny drops his hand back to the steering wheel and doesn’t look particularly pleased by this information. There’s no voicemail on Jonny’s phone but there is a message telling him that they have, “Information they need to discuss with him, see Patrick’s voicemail.”

Patrick frowns and hits play.

“Patrick, this is Karla from the front office. We’d like you to get in contact with us as soon as you get this message, if possible. There’s a situation arisen with regards to your marriage certificate and we’ve had enquiries from a media outlet.”

Karla keeps talking but Patrick’s tuned it out, is caught on the enquiries from media outlets and he’s pretty sure he’s forgotten how to breathe.

Jonny slams his hands down on the steering wheel. “Fuck!”

“Jonny,” Patrick croaks out. “Jonny, fucking pull over.”

Glaring at him, Jonny looks like he’s going to fight.

“Pull the fuck over Jonny, I mean it.”

Relenting, Jonny pulls the car over to the shoulder and puts the blinkers on. “What the fuck—We should have been ready for this,” Jonny says, shaking his head like he’s clearing it or something. “I told you—“

“Fuck you,” Patrick says, shoving Jonny’s phone back at him. “Just fucking—“

Jonny stares down at his phone, looking angry, frustrated and confused all at once. “Sorry, I—“

“Whatever,” Patrick interrupts. He doesn’t know what the hell they’re going to do now, but he’s only just got to a place where he can accept this as something he has to do, he doesn’t want to have to deal anything else right now. “What the fuck are we going to do?’”

“We’ll fix it,” Jonny says, decisively.

Patrick doesn’t know how to tell him some things just aren’t fucking fixable, but he’s already starting the car, so he keeps quiet, looks out of the window and watches Chicago pass him by outside.

---

They pull up into the parking lot for Jonny’s apartment complex and Patrick feels something settle inside of him at the thought of being back. Not that his Buffalo house isn’t home, but he’s moved into Jonny’s apartment now and it’s Chicago, which is just as much home as Buffalo. He helps Jonny grab the bags from the trunk.

“We could just nap first,” Patrick says, hopefully. He knows ignoring it isn’t in their best interests, but he just wants to sleep and forget the world exists right now.

Predictably, Jonny just stares at him. “Really?”

“Yes really, Jonny,” Patrick says with a sigh. “I’m tired.”

“And we’re about to be outed—“

“I got the same message you did, asshole. I’m fucking tired.”

Jonny slams the trunk and frowns. “You don’t think I am? I get it, Kaner. But I also know—“

Jonny’s using his media voice and Patrick glares. “I’m not asking for a fucking soundbite, Jonny. Stop fucking using your captain tone, you fuck.”

“We have to deal with this now,” Jonny says, and this time there’s an edge of anger to his voice. “We’re not napping when we have shit to sort out, Kaner. We don’t sit on the bench when there’s a play to be done.”

Patrick stares at him. “Hockey analogies? Now?”

Jonny’s eyes are dark with something that Patrick can’t place. “Did it work?”

He doesn’t want to say yes because he really does want to go to sleep, but he knows better, knows they can’t let this wait. “Yes, fuck you.”

He turns on his heel, loaded down with bags, and leads the way into the building. He’s so fucking happy to be back in Chicago that he doesn’t even care when the elevator seems to take an age to get up to the penthouse floor. He leans against the back, closes his eyes and lets himself breathe.

This is so fucked up. They’ve been married for a week, haven’t even had the time to get used to that and now the whole world is going to know. He forces himself to breathe calmly; the last thing he wants to do is hyperventilate in front of Jonny for the second time. They can fix this; if he doesn’t fuck around, if Jonny has a plan, they can fix this.

“Come on,” Jonny says gently, as the doors open. Patrick lets Jonny go first, he has the keys after all, and tries not to drop anything.

Jonny’s—their—cleaning lady has been around and aired the apartment while they were gone, thankfully, so they don’t have anything to clean up or whatever. Patrick dumps his bags in the corner of their bedroom, and then sits on the edge of the bed, running his hands through his hair. He’s surprised when Jonny does the same, patting Patrick on the knee awkwardly.

“Let’s get this over with,” he says, voice tight.

Patrick nods. “Why the fuck would someone leak that?”

Jonny snorts. “We’re hockey players, Patrick. Even in Buffalo, especially in Buffalo, people are going to read ‘Patrick Kane’ and know what they’re holding in their hands.”

“I just—“

“I know,” Jonny say, over him. There’s an awkward pause that Patrick doesn’t know how to fill, and then Jonny’s standing. “Come on, Patrick.”

Patrick pulls his phone from his pocket as he follows Jonny into the kitchen. He’s already bringing up the number for the Hawks front office when Jonny offers him a beer. “Uh, no. I’m not doing this even mildly affected by alcohol.”

A weird expression, and Patrick hopes for Jonny’s sake it’s not surprise, crosses Jonny’s face but he puts the beer back and offers a water instead.

Patrick sits at the island, dials the number and hits speakerphone. Jonny leans against the island as they wait for the call to go through.

“Meghan Bower, Blackhawks PR.”

Patrick rubs a hand over his eyebrow. “Meghan, It’s Patrick. Kane.”

There’s a pause. “Hi, Patrick. One second, I’ll just pass you to Brandon.”

There’s a rustle on the other end of the phone and then Brandon’s saying, “Patrick?”

“Hi, Brandon. I’ve got Jonny on speaker.”

“Guys,” Brandon says, not even pausing for pleasantries. “I’m sorry that this has come up but we need to get this locked down as soon as possible. We got a call from Buffalo’s WKBW news who have managed to get a copy of your marriage license.”

“Fuck,” Patrick says. Hearing it a second time is no less easier.

Jonny’s scowling down at his water bottle. “What are our options?”

“Well, I think the first thing you need to do is call Brisson. See what he suggests that you do. We’ve been working on a couple of things this end and we think we can probably rustle up some archive footage for a press release of some kind.”

Frowning, Patrick exchanges a look with Jonny. “Are you talking about a video or something?”

“You Can Play,” Jonny says, looking like that’s the last thing he wants to do.

“I’m not saying that,” Brandon says, gently. “How we handle this is up to you. I wanted to notify you, and I suggest you call Brisson. If a You Can Play video is where you want to go with this, that’s fine. If you just want to release a statement, that’s fine too.”

Jonny’s getting the look he does when he thinks he’s solved a difficult play, so Patrick’s content to let him steer the conversation. “I’d rather not have to do anything. But as that’s no longer an option, we could do both. This isn’t going to stay contained to the one station and I’d prefer not to have my life splattered across America.”

“And Canada,” Patrick chimes in. He ignores Jonny’s scowl. “But if we released both, we would cover all those things, right? The stations will talk about shit no matter what we do, but if we give them the statement so that they have something, the You Can Play video would handle the ‘coming out’ before anyone else does it for us.”

This time Jonny’s look of surprise doesn’t anger Patrick as much. It’s kind of nice, actually.

“Hmm. Yes, that could work.” Brandon says something inaudible away from the phone and then, “Call Brisson. Get back to us when you’ve made a final decision, and in the meantime we’ll see what we can put together this end. We have the BHTV crew around to film whatever we need them to, even if that’s a makeshift You Can Play video. And Patrick?”

“Yes?”

“If you still have Burke’s number, I suggest you call him, too.”

They end the call and Jonny’s got an eyebrow raised at Patrick.

“What?”

“You have Brian Burke’s number?”

Patrick shrugs. “He was my GM at the Olympics, dude. Of course I have his number.”

He scrolls through his contacts and calls up Brisson’s contact information. He’s pretty sure Brisson’s going to get sick of them calling all the time but whatever, they’re paying him to deal with shit like this. Patrick knows he’d rather find out from them, too, than have to deal with shit getting revealed before he’s had a chance to do any sort of damage control.

“Brisson.”

Patrick opens his mouth to speak, but Jonny steamrolls over him. “Pat, it’s Jonny and Patrick. We have a problem.”

There’s a heavy silence. “Are we going to need to release that statement we had you draft up?”

Patrick fucking loves how Brisson is all business immediately. He digs his nails into the counter and focuses on that, tries not to think about the fact that in a matter of days, the news about his marriage will be everywhere, and his ability to play hockey will be scrutinised for it. Fuck.

“We don’t know,” Jonny admits, frustrated. “Brandon Faber got a call from Buffalo WKBW, who got word of our marriage licence. He thinks we need to make a statement or something.” Jonny’s eyes meet Patrick’s. “Patrick—Patrick and I think we should do a You Can Play video as well.”

“Good.” It’s like nothing phases the dude, even though Patrick knows that isn’t the case. “That’s a good suggestion. It lets us get a hold on the gay angle that will arise from this. Have you spoken to Bowman?”

Fuck. “No. Not yet. We just got back from Buffalo.”

“Faber was the first call we made before you,” Jonny says. “Stan will be behind us whatever we decide. He wouldn’t have agreed to this marriage otherwise.”

Jonny’s faith in Stan is kind of carrying Patrick right now. He feels that fucking regret and fights it off. They’re in this now; no amount of regret and self-loathing will fix what he’s done to them.

“I have Brian Burke’s number,” he says, just for something to say. “I’m sure he’ll be fine with us doing it.”

“You’re gold for the organisation, Patrick. If he says no, he’s a fool. Call Brandon back; tell him we’ll release a statement in 24 hours about the situation. Tell him to get this station on board by offering them first shot at the story.”

Patrick feels a little overwhelmed by everything and he can’t work up enough energy to make a joke or say something dumb. This shit is make or break for them—not even for the marriage, but for the team and the organisation and fuck, this is it.

“Yeah,” Jonny says, leaning over to grab Patrick’s wrist. He squeezes.

“We’ll handle this boys,” Brisson says, with authority. “This will go smoothly as long as we get all the parts right. We do need to know what you want to do if people ask for interviews.”

“Nothing,” Jonny says abruptly. Patrick shoots him an exasperated look.

“You’re going to have to do something,” Brissons says, diplomatically.

“Who says we have to?” Patrick snaps. “Being the first gay players doesn’t mean we have to go out there and talk about shit. This is private. Let them make us into gay role models or whatever they do, but we just want to play hockey.”

“Patrick.” Jonny gives Patrick a look and then runs a hand over his face. “Sorry, Brisson. He’s right, though. We’ll do You Can Play, but we don’t want to talk to anyone else.”

There’s a long silence before Brisson continues. “Okay boys. This is your call.”

“Thanks, Pat,” Patrick says, and his voice sounds weird as shit.

“Yeah,” Jonny agrees. “Thanks.”

“No problem. Call Burke and Faber and I’ll make some calls of my own. We’ll contain this; it’ll be done on your terms. At least this first part,” he ads, wryly.

Patrick snorts as Brisson hangs up.

“Patrick.” Jonny’s voice drags him up from his shock. “Okay?”

“No,” Patrick says honestly. “But what choice do I have?”

They sit in silence for a couple of minutes, Jonny tapping his fingers absently against the island and Patrick working up the nerve to call yet another person about his endlessly public private life.

Burke’s number hasn’t been touched since the Olympics because Patrick’s had no reason to call. He takes a drink from his bottle of water, before pressing the call button.

The dial tone seems to take forever to go through, but eventually Burke answers with a, “Patrick?”

“Uh,” Patrick says. He’s a little stunned that Brian knows who’s calling.

“Mr Burke,” Jonny says, covering Patrick’s silence with determination. “This is Jonathan Toews. You’re on speaker phone.”

“Patrick’s there with you?”

“Yeah,” Patrick says, recovering his voice. “How are you doing?”

“I know you didn’t call me to ask how I am, son.”

Patrick huffs out a laugh, thankful. “No, sir, I didn’t.”

“We have a problem,” Jonny says. “And we need your help.”

There’s a long pause. “My help?”

Patrick can do this. This is the guy who gave him his number because Patrick was a twenty year old kid at the Olympics who was was facing the press with a sense of bravado he didn’t feel behind closed doors. Better to just bite the bullet and get this over with. “The You Can Play organization—“

“Yes,” Burke says. “You guys up for making a video? Patrick will like that.”

Patrick can’t help but grin. Jonny looks more serious but whatever, he can’t fool Patrick. He’s got that wonky mouth thing going on that he gets when he’s trying not to be amused. “We do. But,” Patrick says quickly, “we think we might be able to give you what you and Patrick have wanted since he set it up.”

This time the pause is longer and, when he comes back on the line, there’s a tremor to Burke’s voice. “What are you boys saying?”

“We’re coming out,” Jonny says, taking control of the situation. Patrick feels on edge, skin tingling all over, like he’s a little unsettled.

The silence is so long this time that Patrick has to check the phone to make sure Burke hasn’t hung up. He says, “Brian?”

“I’m here. This is—“

Burke trails off and Patrick feels for him. He doesn’t know what he must be feeling right now, but to have two NHL players calling him, telling him they’re ready to come out; to give his son’s organization what it sorely needs, he doesn’t know what that has to mean.

“We understand,” Jonny says, and he sounds like he’s giving a talk to Q or someone and it’s good, probably better for Burke to hear it like that. “We know what this means, Mr. Burke. The ‘Hawks front office are willing to work with you. Unfortunately, this is going to be short notice.”

“How short?” Burke asks, recovering enough to do so.

“Two days,” Patrick says, hoping that Burke doesn’t hang up on them there and then.

“That is short notice.” Brian hmms. “But doable, especially if your front office is willing to help. The crew we use—”

“The Blackhawks TV guys would be only too willing to help,” Patrick interjects. “And, um, there’s something else you should know.”

Brian laughs a little at that. “Better than you two coming out?”

Patrick’s lip curves up into a smile, and he twists his hand so he can squeeze the fingers Jonny’s still using to grip his wrist. “We’re married.”

There’s heavier silence from the phone. “Excuse me?”

“Jonny and I,” Patrick says, loud and clear. “We got married a week ago in Buffalo.”

“Oh,” Brian says, a little breathless. “Congratulations, Patrick. I always had a feeling. This is good—great - news.”

Patrick’s a little hung up on the had a feeling, but Jonny’s already thanking Brian, telling him they want to base their video on that, that this is only happening so quickly because of the leak of their wedding certificate.

“Necessity makes us do things we sometimes would have liked longer for,” Burke agrees, when Jonny’s done speaking. “This is definitely workable and we’re behind you a hundred percent. Obviously this is everything Patrick and I have been working towards since Brandon’s death and we appreciate what you’re willing to do here, both of you.”

Oddly enough, Patrick doesn’t feel guilt at that. He knows that parts of this are fake, and the prospect of what’s to come isn’t anything he wants to think about for too long, but hearing the gratitude in Burke’s voice feels pretty fucking great.

“Thank you.” Patrick avoids looking Jonny in the eye. “I can give you the front office number and then they can call us when they’re ready to film it.”

Jonny nods as Burke says, “That sounds good.”

Patrick reels off the number, glad at least this part is done with and he can stop thinking about what’s going to happen, even if it’s just for a couple of hours.

“Thanks Mr. Burke,” Jonny says, when they’ve settled everything. “We appreciate this.”

“Boys, it’s my pleasure. Patrick will probably want to talk to you. Can I forward your number on to him, Patrick?”

Patrick swallows. “Sure. Thanks.”

“Congratulations, boys. I promise, we’ll be behind you with this no matter what happens.”

“We appreciate that,” Jonny says, brow furrowing as he watches Patrick’s face. Patrick doesn’t know what he sees, and doesn’t really care.

As soon as the call ends, Patrick drops his head onto the island and groans. “This is so fucked up.”

“It is what it is.”

“Aren’t you angry?” He peers up to see Jonny’s glare.

“Would that help?”

“I don’t know, would it?” There’s no point to fighting like this, as much as that wouldn’t normally stop them, so Patrick slips off the stool and grabs his phone. He collapses onto the couch in the living room, face down and feet stuck over the side. He closes his eyes and groans. Maybe he can sleep the entire way through the next few days and Jonny can just prop him up when he needs to do something.

His phone beeps from somewhere underneath him, so Patrick wrestles it from between his stomach and the cushions. It’s a text from Sharpy which, yeah, will be something else to focus on.

bbq at mine on saturday evening. if you’re not there, i’m sending abby round to get you.

Patrick snorts. He doesn’t doubt that at all and would never tempt the wrath of the superior Sharp. “BBQ at Sharpy’s on Saturday?”

He yells through the open door, grinning when Jonny tips sideways a little on the chair to peer at him. “What time?”

“Dunno, he doesn’t say. We’re going.” Patrick types out a response to Sharpy without looking, keeping his eyes on the emotions on Jonny’s face. It’s clear just from that they need to go to this thing. Patrick doesn’t want them to forget why they’re doing this in the first place. “We need to tell the guys anyway.”

Jonny nods tightly at that. “If Sharpy hasn’t already told him.”

Patrick shrugs. “Pretty sure we’d have had a cascade of texts by now, dude.”

“Whatever.”

Patrick doesn’t want to touch that grumpy tone with a pole, so he decides to text his mother and finally let her know he’s home. After a brief pause, he does the same to Andree on Jonny’s behalf and then drops his arm to the floor, staring up at the ceiling. “When did things stop being about hockey?”

“I could answer that,” Jonny says, grabbing Patrick’s ankles and swinging them to the floor. Patrick curses but shifts around so that he’s sitting on the couch. “But I’m not sure you’d want me to.”

“I feel guilty enough, thanks.”

Jonny doesn’t apologize which, while it hurts, isn’t unexpected. Maybe the quiet isn’t going to be so good for them after all.Patrick slumps down, bringing up the Words with Friends game with Crow he’d abandoned while he and Jonny were in Buffalo. He’s sure they’re hiding a secret genius behind the goal line, but maybe he’s just not as good at this as he thinks he is.

“What are you doing?” Jonny peers over his shoulder and Patrick angles his phone away.

“Hey! I could be texting shit about you, asshole.” He ignores the derisive snort. “Trying not to think about the hundred ways our lives are about to be turned upside down.”

Jonny’s face doesn’t give anything away and Patrick hates it. He elbows him sharply in the side.

“Are you even freaking out about this?”

Finally, Jonny looks pissed. “Do you want me to be? Because keep up with this shit, and I’ll do that.”

Patrick can meet Jonny glare for glare, anger for anger. “Right now it feels like I’m alone in the shit scared department, Jonny!”

Jonny’s jaw tightens and he’s gripping the remote so tight Patrick wonders if it’ll break. “If you want me to be angry, I can go back to blaming you for everything. Would that help?”

“Asshole, you’re the one who told everyone we were dating!”

“Well,” Jonny says, and Patrick knows by the tone that whatever Jonny’s about to say is going to fucking break him. “If you didn’t constantly fuck up enough to get traded—”

Patrick gets up and walks out of the room.

---

He’s still sitting with his back to the guest room door half an hour later, when his phone rings. He doesn’t look at the caller ID before answering. “Hello?”

“Patrick, it’s Brandon.”

Shit. “Hey. Jonny’s not here right now. Sorry.”

He doesn’t want to have to go out there and be anything less than angry at Jonny. Not that Jonny’s bothered to acknowledge him at all since Patrick stormed off.

“That’s fine. It’s just a brief call to let you know that we’re going to be filming tomorrow at midday. Where would you prefer this to be done?”

Patrick doesn’t really want to be in at Johnny’s icehouse, so he says, “Here?” without thinking about it. Whatever, Jonny can deal with it.

Brandon sounds pleased. “That’s a good choice. We can work well with you guys in your own place. Okay, Patrick. We’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah.” Patrick rubs his sweaty palm against his thigh. “Thanks.”

He drops his head against the door and knows he should go out and say something to Jonny, tell him what time they’re supposed to be filming this thing, but all he can hear ringing in his ears is constantly fuck-up and fuck Jonny anyway. He doesn’t have to make out like his only aim in life is to save Patrick from himself like, what, Patrick’s some kind of wayward kid he has to take under his wing.

“Fuck you,” Patrick says under his breath. He wants to say it to Jonny’s face, wants to shake him until he gets it, gets that this isn’t about Patrick anymore, isn’t about Jonny, or anything they did. This is something much worse than that because he doesn’t think Jonny really gets that-

“We screw it up for everyone, do you get it?”

Jonny’s staring up at him, a little slack in the mouth from surprise. Patrick has just burst out of the guest room and started talking a mile a minute, but he needs Jonny to keep up. “Patrick-”

“No, look, we’re not the only gay players in the league, right?”

Jonny’s hand shoots out and grips his wrist. “What are you talking about?”

“I mean,” Patrick says, staring down at Jonny’s fingers. “If we come out—“

“No,” Jonny says, voice tight. “What did you say?”

Patrick swallows. “This isn’t us.” He shrugs. “Not just us.”

“Fuck,” Jonny curses, his hand slipping from Patrick’s wrist.

Patrick presses on, frowning. “What if we get it wrong?”

“We’re not going to get it wrong,” Jonny snaps. “Fuck, Patrick. We’re not going to get it wrong. There is no wrong. Only how we deal with it when the scrutiny is all on us.”

“Fuck you, then, for saying I can’t handle it.” Patrick’s never felt so angry about this, wanted to punch Jonny more.

“You’re freaking out just thinking about it.”

“I am not! What’s at stake for you here, huh? You get a slap on the wrist but probably a congratulatory pat on the back for trying to change me, steer me on the right path. I get fucking traded.”

“If you think Stan thinks so little of you that he’d do that to you—”

Patrick snarls, “It’s in my contract, you asshole!”

They’re at a standstill, yet again and Patrick fucking hates it. Their arguments are like this, make no sense to anyone else but they usually make sense to them at least.

“I’ve told you,” Jonny says, voice deceptively calm. Patrick knows he’s angry, and see it in the shape of Jonny’s body. “They’re not trading you Patrick, not without me. Stop it. You signed a new contract that prevents that. Stop being a martyr!”

Patrick shuts his mouth but, scowling, goes into the kitchen to get himself a drink. They don’t have any more calls to make, so he can totally drink and not worry about it. He just needs something, because having to deal with Jonny, with everything, takes something more than what he has left.

“Patrick.” Jonny walks into the kitchen but doesn’t say anything about the beer in Patrick’s hand.

“Yeah?” Patrick doesn’t drink anything, just puts the bottle on the island and leans against it.

“If I could—”

“Well you can’t.” He doesn’t want to hear what Jonny wishes he could do. Just wants to know what they’re going to do. “We do this video and then what? Deal with the shit fans and players put on us?”

Jonny looks confused, and whatever, if he’s not following Patrick that’s his deal. “Chicago would never—”

Patrick snaps his head up.“Not Chicago, Jonny, fuck. Chicago wouldn’t—but other fans. You don’t think they’d use it?”

Jonny comes around the island, leans in close. “I don’t know. I don’t know what you want from me here, Kaner.”

“Fucking lie to me if you have to,” Patrick says.

“No.” Jonny fists his hand in the front of Patrick’s shirt. “I don’t know what it is you want me to lie about, asshole. And I wouldn’t.”

Patrick sets his jaw. Fuck, he’s not explaining this. Doesn’t think he even could. “I don’t wanna be the one—“

He trails off and grabs the hand Jonny has on his shirt. He wraps his fingers around Jonny’s wrist and doesn’t know if he wants to pull it away or just keep it there.

“Sometimes I don’t get you,” Jonny says honestly. He reaches for Patrick with his free hand, tips Patrick’s head up so he can look him in the eye. “You are worried about something. I know you.”

“Yeah?” Patrick says, snidely. “You know me so well, tell me what I’m worried about.”

Jonny can’t; they both know it. Patrick’s tired of being treated like a fuck up, wants Jonny to know he’s got this; that he’s not going to be the one to let this all fall down. Jonny has to trust him.

“Look, just,” Patrick presses into Jonny’s hand before he can stop himself. “I just wanna sit on the couch and pretend like the world doesn’t exist for the night. Can we do that?”

Jonny looks like he might protest, like he wants to keep this fight going, but they both know when they’re beat, when they just can’t argue about shit anymore. It’s not good to let it lie, something else they know from experience, but Patrick just wants something fucking normal before he has to go on camera and admit that yeah, he’s been gay since rookie camp and it won’t even be a lie.

“Yeah,” Jonny says eventually. “Whatever you want, buddy.”

Patrick tugs away from Jonny and pats his hip. “Turn your phone off. I don’t wanna have to deal with any marriage shit except this.”

He gestures between them and Jonny snorts, nods.

It doesn’t feel good, because there’s still tension and shit between them, but it’s good enough that when they settle onto the couch, Patrick leaning heavily against Jonny’s shoulder, he feels like he might actually be able to deal with this.

---

That only lasts until the morning.

Patrick wakes up, face mashed into Jonny’s shoulder and limbs splayed everywhere. Jonny’s breath is ruffling Patrick’s hair, and he keeps his eyes closed, enjoys the moment.

He wants to take what he can; evens out his own breath and dozes. He’s not looking forward to what they have to do later, just wishes it could be done and over already, and they were free to be them again. He wants hockey back; at least with that, with the effort of trying to be better than he was last year, he could throw his focus into something.

Jonny shifts under him but Patrick doesn’t open his eyes, just lays there until Jonny expels a huff of breath that Patrick knows is a laugh. He wonders if Jonny knows he’s awake; Patrick doesn’t think so, especially not when Jonny’s hand comes up to this head, and his fingers thread into his hair. It’s an oddly intimate gesture from Jonny, and it’s not like anyone can see them in here. Patrick’s not going to question it; just stretches a little, like he’s only just waking, and opens his eyes.

Jonny’s hand falls away. “You up?”

“Yeah,” Patrick says, turning so that he can flop onto his back next to Jonny, Jonny’s arm tucked under his head. “Not that I wanna be.”

“Suck it up, Kaner.” Jonny knocks his knuckles against Patrick’s hip. “It’s not like we can get out of this.”

“Damn,” Patrick says, lips quirking into a smile. “Was totally planning to run just before the guys get here.”

Jonny growls low in his throat. “I’d find you.”

Rolling his eyes, Patrick turns his face to grin at Jonny. “As if.”

“As if I’d find you?” Jonny’s scowl deepens.

“No, idiot. As if I’d run away. You wouldn’t last two seconds on camera without me.”

“Fuck you,” Jonny says automatically. He shifts his arm, gets his fingers in Patrick’s hair and looks a little intense with it.

“Trying to get used to it, huh?”

Confused, Jonny pauses. “Used to what?”

Patrick just shrugs, and buries his face in Jonny’s arm. “Can we stay in bed all day?”

“No. Get your lazy ass into the bathroom.”

“Ugh,” Patrick slaps Jonny’s arm and takes an age to sit up. “I hate you.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Jonny stretches his arms above his head. “Yet here you here.”

Patrick snorts, slips out of the bed and scratches the back of his head. “Someone has to save you from yourself.”

It’s scarily close to what Patrick thought of Jonny last night, so he just grins back over his shoulder as he enters the bathroom.

Adam’s at the door with the BHTV crew and Patrick’s only too willing to let them set up on their own, although he does sit on the back of the couch, heels digging into the cushions. Jonny passes through once, tells him to, “Get your fucking feet of the couch and sit on it properly,” to which Patrick flips him off.

Patrick’s used to the crew, filming more embarrassing things than this, and it feels a little more comfortable than a lot of what he’s being doing lately.

Adam’s deep in conversation with Jonny which makes sense; Jonny’s the one who’s going to try and make this the best it can possibly be, and refuse to accept any cock ups, so when the doorbell rings, Patrick threads his way through the crew and equipment and pulls the door open.

On the other side, looking a little jetlagged and worse for wear, is Patrick Burke. Patrick’s only seen his face a couple of times, mostly through You Can Play shit that Jonny made him watch.

“Patrick Kane?”

Patrick nods. “Yeah, come in, dude.”

Burke does, slips between the doorframe and Patrick and stands awkwardly in the kitchen. “My dad called and said—“

“This is for your organization,” Patrick says, shrugging. “You’re more than welcome. Come in, I’ll introduce you to Jonny.”

Burke is about to follow when he gestures at Patrick’s hand. “Where’s your ring?”

Patrick freezes. Shit. He completely forgot they haven’t been wearing them on their fingers. “Uh, we didn’t know about the leak until we landed.”

“We were trying to keep it a secret,” Jonny says, walking up behind Patrick and holding out his hand. Burke takes it with a brisk nod. “Jonathan Toews.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Burke says. He looks tired, but underneath that he’s alive in a way that Patrick can empathize with. “I just wanna say thank you, for what you’re about to do.”

“We have selfish reasons too,” Patrick says with a wry smile. “But you’re welcome.”

Adam calls to them from the living room, but before they follow, Patrick grabs Jonny’s wrist. “You got your ring?”

Jonny’s eyes go dark and he nods. “Of course I do.”

“We need to wear them in the video.” Patrick doesn’t phrase it like a question but he feels like he’s asking anyway.

Burke leaves them alone in the kitchen, ducking through to the living room to no doubt introduce himself to Adam and the BHTV crew.

Jonny’s frowning. “You think I wouldn’t want to?”

“No,” Patrick says quickly. “Yes?”

“You’re an idiot.” Jonny’s voice has no business being that fond, and Patrick busies himself with undoing his chain and taking off his wedding ring. “You ready for this?”

“Like I’m ready for a regulation loss,” Patrick says.

Jonny snorts, puts an arm around Patrick’s shoulder and squeezes him a little. “S’just another game, Kaner. Just another play to win.”

“Yeah,” Patrick breathes out against Jonny’s neck. “We fucking got this.”

---

They do; or at least, Patrick does. Adam gives them the breakdown of the video, what they have to say and when, and what he wants from them. Jonny reads down the sheet and feels his chest tighten. Jesus.

Patrick’s looking determined next to him, but Jonny can see the tension in his body, the tightness around his eyes. When it comes to recording what they have to say, Patrick’s smooth with his lines, but Jonny’s sitting ramrod straight because this is the last place he wants to be, and something in him seems to lock up and he feels sick. Jonny fucking hates this. Nothing seems to be coming right, he gets caught up on what he’s saying like he’s the rookie that used to fall over his words every fucking shot and he’s better than this.

He’s on their fourth take when he stands up and says, “Fuck this,” stalking out of the room and into the kitchen.

Patrick follows, coming to stand next to him, arms folded. “What the hell is going on?”

“I can fucking do it,” Jonny snaps. God, he doesn’t know what’s wrong with him, doesn’t know why he can’t just get this over with.

Patrick leans in. “I didn’t say you couldn’t. Jesus, Jonny, think of it like the dumb popsicle shit; the sooner you get it done—“

“I’m trying,” Jonny bites out.

“Look.” Patrick nudges him in the ankle with his foot. “Make like you’re talking to me, alright? Like at the wedding or whatever.”

Jonny makes a face. “Seriously?”

“Screw you,” Patrick says with a smile. “I’m not the one flubbing my lines like a rookie.”

Jonny snorts, but the tightness in his chest isn’t so pronounced anymore. He thinks about it, thinks about what they’re doing, make a video about gay hockey players and-

He pauses, shooting a quick look at Patrick, who’s still smiling.

Fuck. Fuck, that’s it.

He loves Patrick. Loves him. And it’s not—

He’s filming a video about being a gay, married hockey player and it’s taken him this long to realise that makes him part of that, if he’s not gay then he’s bisexual but it all matters; maybe this is what Patrick had been so weird about the night before, like he’s worried that people will hate him or dumb shit like that just because he’s gay.

Jonny straightens, feels a lot better about what he has to do, and rests a hand on Patrick’s hip. “Focus on you, huh?”

Patrick flushes. “Screw you.”

“Come on,” Jonny says, pulling Patrick forward a step by his hip. “Let’s do this.”

The segments they film in their living room are pretty straightforward.

“Okay, Jonny,” Adam says. “We can do this all in one go if it’s easier?”

“No,” Jonny says, sitting down next to Patrick again, left hand settled on his knee in full view of the camera.

The camera starts rolling, and Jonny’s lip curves into a smile. “I’m Jonathan Toews.”

Next to him, Patrick’s chin comes up a little. “I’m Patrick Kane.”

“I’m the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks,” Jonny says, focusing his attention on the camera in front of him, but he feels the heat of Patrick’s body next to him, narrows his sense of space down to just them, and the red glow of the recording button.

“And I’m his right wing,” Patrick says.

They’ve been doing a lot of things in unison in the years they’ve been Kane and Toews, so it’s pretty easy for them to get the, “And last week we got married,” perfectly in synch.

Jonny’s hand twitches on his knee but he feels himself relax a little into the next part. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be Captain.”

There’s a brief pause and then Patrick shifts a little closer to Jonny. “And don’t let them tell you that you can’t score the most goals in your rookie year.”

He thinks of Patrick’s Calder trophy, of his own Olympic medal. Thinks of what the both of them have achieved over the past five years.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t play in the Olympics.”

“And if you want to,” Patrick says, “you can win a cup.”

Patrick’s leg is jiggling a little next to his, and Jonny really hopes the filming is above the waist. He moves his hand onto Patricks knee and squeezes a little, feels Patrick still.

“Because we can play,” Jonny says, with a lot more conviction than he gave in the beginning.

“We play,” Patrick gives in return, smirk softening into a smile.

There’s a beat and then, again in perfect unison, “So if you can play, you can play.”

Adam nods at them, cutting the video and Jonny sucks in a breath. Patrick’s grinning, and punches Jonny in the arm. “Fuck.”

“Yeah.” Jonny rubs a hand over his face and then looks up at Patrick Burke. “That go okay?”

Burke looks more than a little pleased. “That was more than okay. This is going to be great.”

You Can Play is still a fairly new organization, even though he knows they’ve got twenty plus videos on their account. This, though - he and Patrick—they’re going to be the crowning glory. Four months into their organization and they have their gay hockey players—and married ones at that.

Jonny resents being that, he can’t hide it, but it’s not within his control anymore; his hand has been forced and he shoves the anger down because it’s not going to do anyone any good. He needs to focus on making this work for Burke, for himself and for Patrick.

“Hey,” Patrick says, nudging him. “I think that went well?”

Snorting, Jonny nods. “Yeah, it did.”

The guys show them the tape before they leave and yeah, it looks good. There’s discussion about threading in the shots of them playing on the ice, and Jonny takes it all in, takes the promise of the footage being forwarded to them first seriously.

“Thanks for coming,” he says, shaking Adam’s hand in the doorway.

Adam nods. “No problem. We’ll get this to Brandon as soon as possible.” He pauses. “Congratulations, Jonathan.”

Jonny follows Adam’s gaze to where Patrick is chirping some of the tech guys and helping carry their equipment out into the hall. “Yeah,” Jonny says, distracted. “Thanks.”

The BHTV crew leave a little later, along with Burke, who’s even more thankful when he leaves. Jonny kind of just wants him to go, but he can understand the guy’s enthusiasm.

“Seriously welcome,” Patrick’s saying, his grin so fucking wide he might as well have just scored a hat trick.

“Dad’s right you know,” Burke says, addressing Jonny. “We’ll be behind you 100% on this.”

“We appreciate that,” Jonny says shortly. “Thanks for coming.”

“He means,” Patrick interjects, scowling. “That we know how much of a grind short-haul is.”

Burke doesn’t look phased by Jonny’s shortness. “Don’t worry, I appreciate you taking the time to do this in your home. You have our numbers if you need them.”

Finally everyone’s gone and it’s just them, their messed up living room, and the promise of uncertainty in their future.

“When did my life become about something other than hockey?” Patrick’s voice is tight when he speaks.

“You don’t cherish me as much as a hockey puck?” Jonny says, deadpan.

Patrick socks him in the arm. “You’re such a fucking loser, Jonny.”

Jonny rolls his eyes and heads into the living room to put it back in some order.

They’re pushing the coffee table back into place when Jonny sees the blush spreading up Patrick’s neck. He’s deliberately not looking at Jonny when he says, “Yeah I do.”

They collapse onto the couch when they’re done, sinking low in the cushions.

“We don’t have long,” Jonny says, looking at the clock.

“Ugh Sharpy’s,” Patrick groans, pressing his face into the arm of the couch. “Can we just bow out?”

“You want to?” Jonny looks sceptical. It’s really not like Patrick to decline an invitation from Sharpy.

“No,” Patrick says with a sigh. “But we’ve just thrown up our feelings all over the BHTV crew and pretty soon they’re going to be all over the internet.”

“Well,” Jonny says, patting Patrick’s leg sympathetically. “You can be content that within five seconds of being within Madelyn’s presence, you’ll have forgotten about it.”

“Maddy.” Patrick glows with his dumb smile and fuck, Jonny is so, so screwed.

He’s also uncomfortable with the realization that seeing Patrick with children in this new light, and away from a wedding environment, is going to be about as welcome as a dinner with the entire Canucks team.

“At least we can get the team shit out the way,” Patrick says. “I’m so sick of having to tell people.”

“It will be fine,” Jonny says automatically and, at the look on Patrick’s face and remembering last night, he squeezes Patrick’s leg. “Seriously. Stop fucking worrying.”

He holds Patrick’s gaze until Patrick shifts and looks away. “Yeah fine.”

“Yeah?” Jonny presses, needing to hear Patrick say it.

“Yes, okay? Yes, fuck.” Patrick’s smiling, though, so Jonny counts it as a win.

---

Sharpy opens the door with a huge ass grin and fuck, Jonny’s aware that the last time they saw him, he’d just fucking married them. “Toes! Kaner!”

He shifts out of the way so that they can walk into the house. Maddy totters towards them immediately, little hands waving up at Patrick.

“My girl!” Patrick says, sweeping Maddy into her arms and she giggles.

“Jesus,” Sharpy says, clapping Jonny on the back. “You got it bad, man.”

“Fu-screw you,” Jonny snarls, turning his back on Patrick so he doesn’t embarrass himself anymore. “Who’s here?”

“All business,” Sharpy tuts. “You’re the first, unsurprisingly.”

Jonny’s about to retort when Abby steps into the hall with a smile. Jonny’s only too willing to accept the hug she gives him.

“It’s good to see you, even if it has only been a couple of days.” She pulls away from him, smiling. “How are you liking being back in Chicago?”

“Oh, we’re about to come out,” Patrick says, because he’s completely fucking tactless.

Sharpy and Abby exchange a look. “Jonny,” Sharpy says. “What’s going on?”

“Don’t you trust me to explain it?” Patrick asks, hurt, but they ignore him.

“The clerks office leaked our licence,” Jonny says, completely without venom. He’s angry, but he’s not about to let that out here, in Sharpy’s house. “We had to do something.”

“Which was?”

Jonny shifts uncomfortably. “A You Can Play video.”

There’s a moments silence and then Sharpy bursts out laughing. “You went on camera to talk about your feelings?”

“It was fucking gold man.” Patrick’s grinning like an idiot, but Abby raises an eyebrow. “Oh, that’s two dollars for the swear jar, right?”

Jonny thinks it’s pretty fucking weird to have a swear jar for a girl who doesn’t even know what a swear word is yet, but it’s not like he has children. The doorbell goes again as Patrick’s handing Maddy back to Abby and reaching for his wallet.

onny moves out of the hall and into the kitchen because there’s not enough room for the entire Blackhawks team in Sharpy’s hall, and isn’t surprised to hear Duncs’ voice.

"Seabs!”

Jonny rolls his eyes and grabs a beer from the table and, after pausing, picks up a second.

The house fills pretty quickly after Duncs and Seabs arrive, guys trickling through in ones and twos until Jonny’s pretty sure the entire team and the Rockford Icehogs are in the house.

"Be nicer to the rookies,” Patrick says, elbowing him. “They’ve been called up, asshole.”

Whatever. Jonny’s their Captain and he’s made it a point to know their names, but Patrick’s the one who takes the rookies under his wing and makes them into his little posse or whatever 90’s word he’s using to describe them this week. They’re comfortably leaning against the low wall in Sharpy’s garden, watching Duncs and Bollig argue over who’s going to take over the cooking. Sharpy’s the host, but that doesn’t mean he actually knows how to cook a burger without poisoning the entire team.

Luckily he’s distracted by keeping up the trolling of the entire team, however that chooses to manifest itself.

Before Sharpy can get to the punchline of his story, Corey, who’s been side-eyeing Jonny and Patrick for pretty much the entire time, says, “I knew there was something off about you guys!”

Patrick and Jonny, and half of the rest of the team, turn to face him. Jonny frowns. “What are you talking about?”

“Did you get married after the playoffs?” Corey gestures at the ring on Jonny’s finger that he’d forgotten to take of after filming.

There’s an awkward silence, not helped by the shit-eating grin on Sharpy’s face, or the way Duncs and Seabs are snorting into the drinks. Jonny fucking hates everyone.

“Well,” he says, but Patrick’s rocking back on his heels.

“Come on, Jonny,” he says softly. “Like ripping off a band aid.”

“Fuck you,” Jonny hisses.

“Toes!” Sharpy calls, still grinning because he’s an asshole. “Just tell them who your lucky bride was!"

“Screw you, Sharp,” Patrick snaps, flipping him off, which, fuck him anyway, isn’t subtle at all.

“What the fuck,” Hammer crows. “Kaner’s your bride? Did you marry each other?!"

“No,” Duncs puts in. “Sharpy married them.”

The back yard erupts into a mess of noise. It’s like a team of kindergarteners and Jonny rubs his hand across his forehead. He’s saved from having to say anything himself by Abby shouting, “Quiet!”

Immediately the yard falls silent, broken only by the occasional mumble, and Jonny’s never been more fucking grateful for anyone in his life.

"Yes,” he says, exasperated. “I married Kaner over the break.”

Patrick’s standing too close but Jonny doesn’t ask him to move. “Is that a problem?” Patrick asks, body rigid.

“You’re both too high maintenance for anyone else,” Stalberg says, cutting through the tension effectively.

That starts a discussion over which of them is the worst to get along with and what the fuck, sometimes Jonny doesn’t even know whether he’s grateful or annoyed by his team.

Now that the news has been broken, it starts Sharpy, Duncs and Seabs off with stories of the wedding including (false) declarations of love and the amount of crying that had been going on. Jonny hopes they realise that, as he doesn’t mention that they totally cried as well, they owe him.

“Hey,” Patrick says gently, a little while later. “You see anyone looking uncomfortable?”

Jonny’s a little annoyed that he wasn’t even looking, so he shrugs. “You?”

“No. Is that weird?”

“No,” Jonny says, frowning. “Why would it be?”

Patrick snorts. “A whole team and not one of them is uncomfortable with this?”

Jonny sighs. “Stop looking for trouble where there isn’t any, Kaner.”

“Whatever.”

Before he can say anything to that, Jonny’s phone chimes and he scrolls through to see the message from Adam.

Provisional video sent to your email. Finished copy ready for broadcast tomorrow. Good luck!

Jonny feels sick. “Hey.” He nudges Patrick. “Look.”

Patrick takes the phone from him. “Wow. That was fast.” Patrick starts thumbing through his phone, no doubt to go through his emails, and Jonny snatches his phone back. “Dude!”

“You’re not snooping through my phone.” Jonny doesn’t know why it matters; he doesn’t even bother to close his tabs or delete his history when Patrick uses laptop; he’s pretty sure there’s nothing Patrick doesn’t know at this point.

I just wanted to see the video,” Patrick pouts.

"What video?” Sharpy comes into the kitchen, empty bottles in his hands.

Jonny and Patrick exchange a look and yeah, there’s no way they can keep this from Sharpy and not suffer for it for the rest of eternity.

“Adam emailed over the video.”

The video?” Sharpy asks, lighting up like all his Christmases have come at once. “Hand it over.”

“For fuck’s sake,” Jonny snaps. “Why don’t you just get the whole team in the living room and we can play it for you all?!”

His sarcasm fails when Sharpy claps his hands.

“Good idea, Toe-ez!” He’s already walking back out the door, yelling for everyone to get their asses into the living room before Jonny can stop him.

“Fuck,” Jonny says, ignoring the way Patrick’s laughing like this isn’t about him too.

“Relax, Tazer,” Patrick says. “You knew this was inevitable.”

And yeah, it kind of was.

---

Jonny hates the video.

It’s not bad, they’re doing a pretty good job of talking to the camera and not coming off like tools, but Jonny hates it because he can see his feelings all over his fucking face.

Everyone else in this room knows it too, from some of the smirks and douchey thumbs up he’s getting. Oddly enough, it’s Sharpy and Patrick who are the quietest. Patrick, because he’s looking a little pale, a little apprehensive and shit, yeah, Jonny’s pretty sure getting blindsided with Jonny’s emotions when he wasn’t expecting them is a dick move, but it’s not like he was going to say anything.

Sharpy’s quiet for a whole other reason, which becomes clear when he steers Jonny away from the guys as they demand a replay.

“You know what this is going to do?”

“How could we not?” Jonny snaps. “We didn’t have a choice.”

Sharpy frowns. “You have a statement ready?”

“Yeah,” Jonny nods. “But this way I get to tell people what I want, not the other way around.”

“And Patrick?” Sharpy’s eyes are way too intense for Jonny, but fuck Sharpy if he thinks Jonny would do anything to make this worse for Patrick.

“If he didn’t want this, I wouldn’t have done it, fuck you.”

“Hey,” Sharpy puts his hands on Jonny’s chest, holds him in place. “You know I want what’s best for you two assholes.”

Jonny sags a little. “What else were we supposed to do?”

“Fucked if I know,” Sharpy admits. He shakes his head. “I just hope you know what you’re doing.”

---

Jonny retreats into the kitchen after that, talking and hanging with Abby, helping her clean up as the guys start to leave. They all make sure to come to him with their private congratulations, some riddled with mocking, others more serious, and Jonny appreciates all of them.

He can see Patrick out in the yard, wrestling with Stalberg, because of course he fucking is, but it feels a little better when it’s just the Sharps, Patrick, Duncs and Seabs.

“Shit’s about to get intense,” Duncs says, saluting Jonny and Patrick with his bottle. “You ready for this?”

Patrick shrugs. “If we can win a Stanley Cup, this is child’s play.”

Jonny snorts but doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t really know what’s going to happen, but he puts an arm around Patrick’s shoulders anyway, appreciates the way Patrick sinks against him on the couch, picking at the hole on Jonny’s jeans.

“We got this,” Patrick mutters.

“Yeah, Peeks,” Sharpy says, and his voice is serious for once. “I think you do.”

---

Hanging out with Sharpy was pretty fucking great, and Patrick’s in a good mood on the way back to their apartment. He tests Jonny with the radio, leaning over to flick it on. He’s watching for the flinch, but it doesn’t come; he gets a narrowing of the eyes, but Jonny doesn’t say anything so Patrick counts that as a win. In concession, he chooses the station least likely to drive Jonny insane.

He sinks back into the seat, tapping along with the music against his leg.

“You’re in a good mood,” Jonny says, lips quirking.

“Dude,” Patrick says. “The guys were totally okay with everything, it’s all good.”

Jonny pulls a face, but doesn’t say anything else.

Patrick’s not lying but there’s a part of him that’s really nervous about how shit is going to go down once the video gets released and the world and their dog knows about him and Jonny.

He should know better by now, though. Should know Jonny reads him better than anyone else.

Jonny steers the car into the parking lot and into their space. As he shuts off the engine, he turns in the seat. “You’re panicking.”

“Fuck you, I’m not.” Patrick unbuckles his seatbelt, but Jonny curls his fingers around Patrick’s wrist, squeezes tightly. Patrick meets his look tilting his head a little. “What?”

“It’s—“

“If you say it’s going to be okay,” Patrick snaps, voice low. “You don’t know what the hell it’s going to be like, Jonny.”

“Patrick.” Jonny’s voice is soft, the voice he uses when he thinks Patrick’s going to lose his shit because they lost a game.

Patrick ignores him, grits his teeth and looks down.

Patrick.”

“What?” This time Patrick’s voice isn’t as strong, but he keeps looking down, stubbornly.

Jonny doesn’t say anything until Patrick raises his head, about to snap at him. He stops at the look on Jonny’s face. “It is what it is.”

Patrick snorts. “That is the worst pep talk I have ever—“

“Patrick, shut up.” Patrick’s mouth shuts abruptly. Fucking Jonny. “We’ve got this. It isn’t hockey, but it’s about hockey. We’ve got this.”

“This isn’t hockey,” Patrick says. He hopes Jonny knows what he’s trying to say.

“You don’t fuck up at everything that isn’t hockey, Patrick.”

“Yeah.” Patrick shrugs a little, knows that sometimes that’s true, but more often than not, he’s making mistakes that escalate into shitstorms that hockey blogs love to pick up on.

“Hey.” Jonny squeezes his wrist again. “This time if it’s a fuck up, we both fucked up, right?”

Patrick holds Jonny’s gaze. “Having company can’t hurt?”

Jonny’s lips quirk up into a smirk. “Yeah. Right.”

Finally, Jonny lets him go and he can get out of the car. He rubs at his wrist a little as they head up to the apartment and catches Jonny watching him out of the corner of his eye. Patrick’s happy to follow him out of the elevator and into the apartment.

“You know,” he says, as he tugs off his jacket. “The video was pretty great, right?”

Jonny’s back stiffens a little, which, what the fuck is that even about? “Yeah.”

Patrick snorts. “Don’t sound too enthusiastic about it.”

“Seriously,” Jonny says, turning to face him. “It’s just a video.”

“No,” Patrick says, slowly, because Jonny’s being pretty dumb about this. “It’s a video that is going to get trotted out every time we fucking play, you get that, right?”

Jonny’s scowling again, but at least this time it’s not directed at Patrick. “Whatever. I just want to play hockey.”

Patrick laughs, kicks off his sneakers. “You married me, too late.”

Rolling his eyes, Jonny tucks his shoes against the wall and then, with a brief look of exasperation at Patrick, puts Patrick’s there too.

“But whatever, I feel you, man. Maybe we can win enough games that they’ll stop talking about marriage?”

“There’s nothing to say they’ll even talk about it that much.” Jonny doesn’t sound very certain of himself which is the only reason Patrick doesn’t laugh in his face.

He grabs two bottles of water from the fridge and gestures at the living room. “Come on, Jonny Kane, let’s celebrate a successful team reveal!”

“Never call me that again,” Jonny orders, cuffing Patrick up the back of his head.

“It has a ring to it,” Patrick teases.

Jonny’s glare doesn’t lessen, even when they settle onto the couch, Patrick pressing up against Jonny almost as soon as they’re comfortable.

“Relax,” Patrick says, poking him in the side. “I was kidding.”

“Whatever.”

Patrick tries his luck with Jonny’s affection later that night. He tries to be stealth about the way he folds up against Jonny’s side in bed, head burrowed into Jonny’s shoulder. He holds his breath but, thankfully, Jonny just lifts his arm and wraps it around Patrick’s shoulders.

“It’ll be fine,” Jonny says, gruff and quick. Patrick snorts because hearing Jonny trying to get his emotions out quickly, pretending he’s not getting them out at all, is the best fucking thing.

Patrick smiles into Jonny’s neck. “Yeah, I know, Jonny.”

“Stop laughing at me.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Jonny’s grip on him tightens and Patrick closes his eyes, drops into sleep quickly.

---

Patrick wakes slowly in the morning, a little hot from the press of Jonny’s body right against his. Jonny’s still asleep, head tipped towards Patrick.

He rolls over a little to grab his phone from the nightstand and almost has a heart attack when he sees the display. He has about 36 voicemails and four times that amount in texts. Jesus. The story’s broken, then.

He groans and puts the phone back and doesn’t even want to know what Jonny’s looks like. He turns back in time to see Jonny blinking at him slowly, a little unfocused as he says, “What?”

“Let’s sleep in today,” Patrick says, sliding back into the warmth of the duvet.

Jonny’s eyes narrow but he shrugs a little, mumbles something unintelligibly, and throws his arm back over Patrick, tugging him in.

Patrick’s grown pretty good at not thinking about things he doesn’t want to, and is able to fall back to sleep pretty quickly. That doesn’t mean that the calls and texts aren’t still there when he wakes up to Jonny stroking his shoulder.

“Patrick, wake the fuck up.”

Groaning, Patrick cranks open one eye. “Fuck off.”

“Up, asshole. The story broke.” Jonny kicks him gently in the ankle.

“I’m up,” Patrick snaps, rolling onto his back and stretching again, reaching blindly out for his phone. “This should be fun.”

Most of the calls are from his mom and sisters and yeah, he probably should have warned them that the story was going to leak. He slides his thumb across the screen to unlock his phone and listens to his mom’s voicemails. They start off angry and get steadily more upset, then surprised and finally, after she’s obviously watched the video, a little tearful. “-So proud of you, Patrick, do you hear me?”

Patrick rubs a hand over his eye which, he’s not crying, he’s just a little tired still is all.

On the other side of the bed, Jonny’s called his mom; he’s talking in rapid-fire French and Patrick doesn’t even want to know what he’s saying. His voice is tense, but Patrick doesn’t know whether that’s out of anger or embarrassment.

He doesn’t listen to his sister’s phone calls, instead tunes into Jonny’s. Jonny catches him listening and scowls but doesn’t tell him not to or anything so Patrick keeps listening.

Eventually Jonny says, “Maman, it’s only been two days—“

Patrick snorts. “Excuses, Jonny.”

“I don’t see you calling your mom,” Jonny snaps and then drops his attention back to his phone. “Non, Maman, Patrick.”

Jonny scowls harder with whatever Andree says and drops his phone onto the bed, hitting speakerphone. “There.”

“Patrick, darling, a text would have been nice.”

Jonny’s vindictive smile at that is completely uncalled for, the asshole.

“It was a pretty busy two days,” Patrick says, floundering for words. This feels worse than talking to his own mom, for crying out loud. “It felt like the right thing to do.”

“Oh, of course it was,” Andree says, sounding a little soothing. “I’m proud of you. Of both of you.”

Jonny flips him off and whatever, it’s not Patrick’s fault Jonny’s mom totally loves him best.

Andree says something muffled into the phone and then, “You boys be careful out there, okay?”

Patrick frowns and opens his mouth to say something, but Jonny pinches his hip. “Ow, fucker!”

“Shut up,” Jonny snaps. Before Andree can interrupt to berate either of them, Jonny picks the phone back up and takes it off speaker.

He speaks in French again and Patrick glowers at him, rubbing the sore spot on his hip. “Asshole,” he mutters, picking up his own phone.

He bypasses the messages—mostly consisting of WTF PATRICK?!?!?!—and heads into his email, which is just as daunting.

Thankfully he finds Brisson’s email first and opens that. If anyone’s going to be calm and sure about this, it will be him.

Jonny, Patrick,

There’s a lot of traffic with regards to this leak. I’ve collected a few sites that are the most vocal and/or important for you to see at the moment. Take a look at these.

We’ve got our eyes on them, so take a look and we’ll keep on top of this.

Regards,

Pat Brisson

Patrick looks over at Jonny, who’s finally hung up the phone with his mom. “Jonny, you need to see these.”

Jonny raises an eyebrow. “I’m kinda—“

“It’s Brisson,” Patrick says, handing over his phone.

Jonny takes it, scrolls through Brisson’s message. Patrick can see his expression shift as he looks through the links Brisson’s sent them.

Patrick leans over. “Like ripping off a band aid right?”

Jonny frowns a little. “Yeah, fine. Come on, then.”

---

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---

Mrs. Twenny Cent,” Patrick crows, throwing his arms up and punching the air. Fucking Deadspin. Maybe they’re not always that bad - and they did do that article one time where they basically said they were laughing with him rather than at him. This time they’re laughing at Jonny and it’s glorious.

Jonny’s already pretty impressive scowl deepens. “Shut the fuck up, it’s not funny.”

Patrick disagrees. “It’s fucking hilarious! You’re just mad because it’s not me they’re mocking.”

“They photoshopped you into a wedding dress,” Jonny says, deadpan.

What the fuck ever. “That timeline, though.”

The look on Jonny’s face is delightful. “Most of that didn’t even make sense! Like this one,” he says, thrusting the phone under Patrick’s nose. “We weren’t even in the same country.”

“I can drive forty minutes from Buffalo and be in Canada, Jonny. They’re not that far apart.” Patrick snorts, pushing Jonny’s hand away from his face. “Think I might get Mrs. Twenny Cent jerseys printed.”

Jonny thumps him on the hip. “Fuck you. You hate that nickname.”

Patrick shrugs. “I could learn to appreciate it for what it is.”

“You’re a moron,” Jonny tells him.

“And you’re an asshole.” Patrick gestures at Jonny’s phone display. “That Kluwe guy is pretty good.”

Jonny’s expression softens into something thoughtful. “He’s certainly on our side.”

“I dunno dude.” Patrick wriggles further down into the covers, turning on his side and resting his head on his hand. “Pretty sure if we fucked up this whole statement or whatever the fuck people think it is we’re making, he’d come down on us like —”

“Puck daddy,” Jonny says, interrupting him which, rude.

Patrick’s been trying not to think about that one. “They can’t know anything. They’re just reaching—they do it all the time.”

Jonny looks at him over the top of the phone. “Right, because it’s totally reasonable to make the assumption that it’s convenient?”

“It is,” Patrick presses. “Think of how this looks to people that aren’t us, man.”

Which is the wrong thing to say and Patrick knows it; now Jonny is going to do that. He just hopes Jonny doesn’t see fit to make them work harder at making this seem legitimate to people. If he asks for too much more, Patrick’s going to give something away for real.

“We have the convention in a couple of weeks,” Jonny says. “We gotta have our shit together by then.”

Patrick rolls his eyes and throws back the covers. “I always have my shit together,” he says and, at Jonny’s mocking laugh, flips him the bird. “Screw you.”

Jonny’s not really looking at him anymore, though, so Patrick just scowls at himself in the mirror. This is so fucking dumb; he’s faced press over shit before, this is just a wedding. Sure it’s gay and it’s to Jonny, but it’s not punching a cab driver or any of his many other million fuck-ups. That’s gotta count for something.

---

Things don’t calm down.

Objectively, Patrick knows that they won’t. You don’t come out as gay hockey players who got married over the holiday weekend and not face a shitload of publicity and unwanted attention. Seriously, Patrick’s used to driving to Target in sweatpants and a hoodie to buy shit and maybe getting noticed once or twice, but now there are people asking where Jonny is, if they can see his ring, and what’s it like being a husband, Kaner?

He tells Jonny later, but doesn’t get much sympathy; apparently Jonny’s getting worse attention because it’s like they’re mocking his taste in men. Whatever, Jonny is lucky Patrick said yes. Okay so it’s probably the other way around, but Patrick doesn’t have to say that shit out loud. The point is, Patrick is a bit daunted by the attention.

“Ignore it,” his mom had said, echoing advice she’s given him so often before, but it’s hard to when he sees the stuff they’re saying. After their initial posts, Deadspin and Puck Daddy have been relatively quiet and even TSN, while supportive, are trying to bring them up only when it’s in relation to hockey.

That doesn’t stop people calling or being shits about it. Bowman and Q were both called on to make statements about the wedding and even Rocky, Jesus, was vocal in his support. Logically, Patrick knows the majority of Chicago fans will be behind them as long as they score goals and win games, but they’re not playing hockey right now and the last thing they watched Jonny and Patrick do was aid their team in crashing out of the playoffs.

Jonny’s taking the stoic captain shit to heart and walking around the apartment like he has to permanently protect Patrick—well, the both of them—from the scrutiny. Arguing is becoming their second most popular activity after dodging photographers and phone calls—and not their usual kind. This feels worse and Patrick doesn’t know why.

“Something’s gotta give,” Patrick says, falling dramatically onto the couch and burying his face in the cushions.

“I can’t hear you through pillow,” Jonny snaps. He’s flicking through the TV channels, scowling every time they come up. Considering he has a tendency to hang around SportsCenter, that’s thankfully not a lot.

Patrick twists on the couch, feels the vibration of his phone going off in his pocket. “I said something’s gotta give.”

“Right.”

“It does! I mean, we can’t—oh hey, we have our own hashtag on twitter—oh man, even better.” Patrick sits up, thumbing through his phone eagerly. “Dude, they’re calling us Kazer! We’re totally the next Brangelina.”

Jonny’s peering back over his shoulder at Patrick in horror like Patrick’s just told him he’s taking an offer from the Canucks. “What.”

“Like, you know, mashup names and cool kids?”

“We’re not having kids,” Jonny snaps, apparently bored with glowering at Patrick, because he turns back to the TV. “And I have such a deep seated hatred for you.”

“It’s okay,” Patrick says sympathetically. “My hatred blossomed into something beautiful. Not long before yours does too!”

“In your dreams,” Jonny mutters, but Patrick totally wins this one because his lips are doing that twitchy shit again. “You were saying something about giving?”

Patrick shrugs and doesn’t answer. He’s still scrolling through his twitter feed, checking out their hashtag and seeing what other people are saying about them. “You know, people are asking other players about us.”

Jonny makes a pained noise. “I don’t see why. It’s none of their fucking business.”

“Nothing is ever anyone else’s business, but it happens,” Patrick says, which he thinks is pretty diplomatic, actually. “I’m just saying, if Broshie brings up the wedding—”

He gets a look for his troubles. It’s Jonny’s Broshie look that he only ever wears when Patrick’s putting down his best buddy. Whatever, he totally spent the entire wedding period being nice and learning shit from Broshie. They’re good. That doesn’t mean Patrick can’t still mock him sometimes, though.

“Like you won’t be scouring the internet looking for whatever comments Gags makes about you.”

Jonny shrugs, comes around the table to drop down next to Patrick. “T.J.’s not an asshole. And Sam Gagner never talks about me.”

“No,” Patrick grins, leaning over and stealing the remote from Jonny’s hands. Jonny doesn’t even fight for it, and Patrick raises an eyebrow. “But he loves talking about me.”

Turning his scowl on the television, Patrick watches Jonny’s fingers curl against his knee and snorts, nudging Jonny’s hand with his knuckles.

“Don’t be jealous,” he says, kicking his legs up onto the sofa and turning his back to Jonny’s side. Jonny’s arm automatically comes over his shoulders, wraps around his chest and hauls him in closer.

“I’m not,” Jonny says, but he’s totally lying.

Patrick grins, sinks into Jonny’s embrace and gestures at the television. “Shut up and watch the game.”

---

Jonny’s just coming back from the downstairs gym when he hears Patrick swearing from outside the door. Frowning, Jonny pushes it open, and doesn’t have to walk far to find Patrick. He’s pacing the living room, the hand not holding his phone to his ear waving angrily in the air. “-The fuck do they think they are?!”

Patrick looks up as he walks into the room, and, when his angry expression doesn’t change, Jonny waits him out.

“One second, mom,” Patrick says into the handset. He jerks his chin at Jonny. “Fucking reporters ambushed Jackie outside the mall. The fucking mall, Jonny.”

Jesus. This is getting out of hand; asking their families for a statement is one thing, but Jackie’s only eighteen, she shouldn’t be getting that kind of shit. “Where is she?”

“Home,” Patrick says quickly, and then turns his attention back to his mom. “How are we supposed to stop it?”

Jonny opens his mouth but Donna must be already saying something, because Patrick’s fist clenches tighter.

“So I’m just supposed to do nothing?” Jonny comes up behind Patrick, rests a hand on his waist. To his surprise, Patrick doesn’t stiffen but relaxes back, running his free hand over his face. “I get it, mom, but making Jackie cry is so fucking—“

“Patrick,” Jonny says, turning him around and looking at him. “Give me the phone.”

Patrick opens his mouth to retort angrily, but then sighs, sagging a little and handing over the phone.

“Donna?”

“Jonny,” Donna says, and she sounds a little relieved. “Please don’t let him do anything stupid.”

“I won’t,” Jonny promises. “How is Jackie?”

He pulls Patrick in and Patrick stiffens a little, but turns his face, cheek pressing to Jonny’s shoulder. He’s shaking with anger and Jonny gets it; if David were younger, if it were him, he knows he’d be taking this the same way. He’s angry himself; Jackie’s got a great personality and she’s lovely and the thought of someone cornering her, making her cry just because they came out; he doesn’t like that at all.

“She’s fine now. She was just a little shocked.” Jonny can hear muffled talking in the background and then Jackie herself is on the phone.

“Tell him I’m okay? I don’t wanna make him angry or cry or anything.”

Jonny smiles a little at that. “Okay, I will.”

“Good. Mom says to tell Patrick it’s fine. She’s not taking any shit from the reporters here, it’s great.”

“They’re at your house?” Jonny asks, scowling.

Patrick snorts and stiffens again, but Jonny tightens his grip on Patrick’s shoulders and he stills.

“Yeah, don’t worry. Mom and Dad are keeping them off the premises well enough.”

Jonny shakes his head. This is so stupid. He wants to call his own mom again, ask if she’s experiencing this.

The phone passes again, back to Donna. “Jon, we’re fine here, I promise. Just take care of yourselves okay?”

“We have the convention at the end of the week,” Jonny offers, not knowing what else to give her.

“Good. That’ll be a distraction for the both of you. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this.”

“We’re fine,” Jonny nods. “It’s you guys—“

“We’re okay. And so’s your mother, Jonny, but call her if you need to.”

Jonny blushes a little at that and then scowls at the fact that he’s blushing. “I will. Bye, Mrs- Donna.”

Donna laughs a little at his slip. “Goodbye, Jonathan. Say goodbye to Patrick for me.”

“I will.” Jonny shuts off the phone and then stares down at the top of Patrick’s head. “Okay?”

“Fuck, she’s my sister, Jonny.” Patrick’s voice is a little raw and Jonny wonders how long he’d been shouting before Jonny came back.

“I know,” Jonny says, hand rubbing Patrick’s back a little. “It won’t last forever.”

Patrick doesn’t say anything. Jonny doesn’t even know how long they stand there, but he knows by the time he lets Patrick go and they head for the kitchen, that if this happens again, he’s not going to be so willing to let it go.

---

Patrick’s covering up his nervousness about the convention.

Jonny’s used to the many ways Patrick hides how he’s feeling, he’s had five years to learn them all, after all. They both love the convention, love connecting with the fans even if sometimes the attention gets a bit much. Jonny loves playing hockey, knows if it wasn’t for the fans they wouldn’t be anywhere, but he’s also not totally comfortable with the amount of time they have to spend interacting with them.

“You’re just not good with people,” Patrick says, when Jonny makes the mistake of actually mumbling it to him. Patrick pats him on the back and leans down to tie his sneakers. “I mean, it’s a problem, but thankfully there are other guys to pick up your slack.”

“Screw you,” Jonny says automatically. “I love the fans.”

Patrick rolls his eyes, letting out a huff of a laugh. “Obviously. Nobody’s saying you don’t, dude. But that doesn’t mean you have to like interacting with them for long periods of time.”

Jonny screws up his face, hating to hear it said like that. “You make it sound like I’m—“

“-Uncomfortable around people? Seriously, when you meet fans you’re pretty great. Kids love you, girls fall at your feet, dudes wanna be you.” Patrick pats Jonny’s cheek and Jonny jerks his face away, scowling. “It’s just that you get super awkward and weird.”

“I do?” This isn’t the first time Patrick’s mentioned it, and not the only time recently, but being awkward and weird meeting fans, who deserve better from him, doesn’t sit well.

Patrick sits next to him at the island, shrugs a little. “If they think you’re less of a person, screw them.”

“Great pep talk,” Jonny says, skeptically.

Patrick shakes his head. “This is why I don’t get the A, right? I am terrible at pep talks.”

“You’re good with the rookies,” Jonny points out, because it’s true. Nobody gets to the rookies quite like Patrick and it’s good for Jonny. What he doesn’t know, Patrick does.

“I just tell ‘em to listen to you, dude,” Patrick shrugs. Always downplaying his abilities, which usually makes Jonny angry. Maybe he’s feeling generous, but he doesn’t bring it up.

“Yeah,” Jonny says. “It’ll be a great weekend.”

Patrick laughs. “Sound more enthusiastic, Jonny, please.”

Jonny glares into his mug of coffee. “I’m happy enough.”

“’Happy enough’? Jonny, please, try and smile a little more when we’re actually there, okay?”

“I don’t know,” Jonny says, raising his eyebrows at Patrick. “I would hate to lose my Captain Serious moniker.”

He loves getting the laughs out of Patrick, the stupid dumb ones that are more giggle than laugh. He looks dumb when he does, nose wrinkling and tongue poking out and whatever, Jonny is totally comfortable with how he feels about this. Mostly.

“Oh man,” Patrick says, still grinning. “You’ll never lose that, Tazer. It’ll be like, etched onto your gravestone.”

“Rather that than Mrs. Twenny Cent,” Jonny mutters, which only sets Patrick off again.

When he stops laughing, Patrick jumps down from the stool. “Come on, asshole. What time we leaving?”

“As soon as you change into something decent.”

Patrick looks down at his outfit. “What is it with you and my polo shirts, dude?”

“They make you look douchey,” Jonny says, unapologetically.

“So do flip-flops, dickbag.” Patrick turns his back, but he’s walking in the direction of the bedroom. Jonny will get Patrick out of the habit of wearing polo shirts - if he has to walk around with Patrick and a popped collar ever again, it will be too soon.

“It’s for like, literally a couple of hours,” Patrick’s still moaning when he comes out of the bedroom. “Seriously, then we’ll be coming home and sleeping, so I don’t—“

Jonny tunes him out and grabs his car keys from the dish on the side. He makes sure he has everything he needs, and then gives Patrick an appreciative once over. “Good. Let’s get out of here.”

“Yes, captain, my captain,” Patrick says, mock saluting.

“You’re a douchebag.” Jonny shuts the door behind them and ignores the finger Patrick’s giving him as they make their way into the elevator. “I’m regretting every decision I’ve ever made with regards to you.”

Patrick’s face shifts, bottom lip jutting out. He’s fucking laughing at Jonny, though, his eyes crinkling in the corners. Jonny puts his hand on Patrick’s face and pushes him back. When he pulls away, Patrick is outright laughing.

Jonny can’t help his own smile in return. Dammit.

---

The ride to the Hilton is mostly spent bitching at Patrick for his choice of music, even though he doesn’t really give a damn what they’re listening to. Patrick bitches back, making faces that Jonny shouldn’t really be watching when he’s supposed to be focused on the road.

“You’re an idiot,” Jonny says, snorting. He turns into the Hilton Parking lot, and Patrick immediately stiffens in the seat next to him.

“Hey,” Jonny says, parking and nudging Patrick with his arm. “You can fucking do this.”

Patrick shrugs a little and gives Jonny a shit eating grin which misses the mark by miles.

“Pat,” Jonny says, voice hard. “This is hockey.”

“It’s still—they’re still going to be picking us the fuck apart, Jonny.”

Jonny knows that, god does he know that. “The fans are in there and they came to see the Blackhawks. They didn’t come to hear us talk about our marriage and shit, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Patrick says. He shakes his head a little. “Come on then, the guys are waiting.”

There are press in the lobby entrance, of course there are, and all the questions that go along with them. They ask about the marriage, how they feel about being groundbreaking players for the NHL, and asking for comments. It’s all Jonny and Patrick can do to make their way into the hotel and through to the conference rooms set aside for the team to relax in when they’re not at panels.

Bicks, Bollig and Sharpy are already present and, as Patrick angrily recounts Jackie’s experience with the press, Jonny reviews the weekend schedule on his phone, trying to figure out which panels are going to pose the most problems. Thankfully, none of them stand out, and he’s confident that they can get through this with minimal problems. He snorts as he sees the schedule for that night; Patrick’s apparently doing some comedy shit with Second City, which should be hilarious for Jonny to watch, and Jonny’s got an interview with Comcast. It also means that neither of them will have to talk about their marriage with anyone—especially if Jonny can get Bowman to step up on his behalf and convince SportsNet not to ask.

Besides being able to interact with the fans, the thing Jonny loves most about the convention is that it’s all about hockey. He gets to talk about the team, about the game and how they all fit together as a team, and it doesn’t require him having to delve too much into his personal life or anything off-ice. He and Patrick do the Olympic panel together and while they’re both expecting a barrage of questions, however related to the Olympics they might be, they get nothing. Jonny spends the entire panel on edge, toying with his water bottle, trying not to glance too often at Patrick to see how he’s handling it, but by the time they’re both back in the conference rooms, he’s feeling pretty great and can see the relief echoed throughout every inch of Patrick’s body.

They both start to loosen up the longer the panels go on, and Jonny’s so relaxed in the BHTV panel, that he sees footage of Patrick’s dumb laugh at his saltiness during the popsicle eating contest and snorts out loud. He gets mocked before the captain’s panel, Sharpy and Patrick both making dumb comments about his leadership.

“We paid someone to ask a question about you getting too uppity,” Patrick says, grinning like a dick.

Jonny opens his mouth to retort, but Sharpy throws an arm around his shoulders and pats him on the chest with his free hand. “Don’t worry, Toes. Everyone knows you’re mostly marshmallow wrapped up inside that tough exterior.”

Patrick laughs and Jonny wants to smack Sharpy’s smug grin right off of his face. Some of the rookies—Hayes and Olson—look like they want to start laughing but clam up pretty quick when Jonny turns his glare on them.

Patrick tuts. “Jonny. Be nice to the rookies. Feel free to laugh at your captain, guys. His expression is worse than his bite.”

“You’d know,” Sharpy says, wiggling his eyebrows. “I bet he bites good, huh Kaner.”

Jonny watches the flush creep up Patrick’s neck as he shoots a look at Sharpy. “Screw you, Sharpy.”

“Nah.” Sharpy pulls away from Jonny and slaps Patrick on the back as he passes. “I’ll leave that for our illustrious Captain.”

Thankfully Jonny escapes after that, but the conversation plays in his mind a little through the panel. Why shouldn’t Sharpy think he and Patrick are sleeping together? They’re married after all. That doesn’t stop it being fucking weird, and a little embarrassing to hear. The last thing he needs is his leadership to be undermined or whatever just because he’s theoretically sleeping with Patrick.

“Relax,” Sharpy says, after the panel. “Nobody thinks you banging Kaner is affecting your ‘be better’ attitude, Toe-ez.”

Not that he is banging Kaner but whatever, if that’s what Sharpy wants to think, let him.

“I can’t believe you can talk about it without feeling a little sick inside,” Stalberg put in. “Not that either of you is gross looking,” he amends. “I just don’t want to know anything about you two sleeping together.”

“Pity,” Patrick says, dropping down into the seat next to Jonny. “We were planning on giving you all a powerpoint presentation when we were done here.”

Stalberg flips him off.

“I‘ve never asked any of you to be better,” Jonny says, and the table erupts into laughter. Jonny grins around his fork, as he shovels chicken into his mouth, and feels Patrick kick him under the table. When he looks up, Patrick’s eyes are kind of wide and happy and Jonny feels pretty fucking great.

---

Jonny’s pretty much free after lunch to do whatever, while Patrick gets the kids panel. He seems pretty pleased about it, but Jonny still thinks he’d have made a better option. Or both of them. Whoever decided Bolly was a good choice for the kid’s questions, well. Jonny kinds resents that they didn’t ask him, is all.

Sharpy’s still hanging around, even though he’s got a wife and kid at home, probably because he likes making Johnny’s life as miserable as possible at every given moment. Stalberg and Car Bomb are in the corner, playing Words with Friends or whatever app they’ve decided is their next challenge. The room’s pretty quiet, and Sharpy keeps his voice low when he leans down, arms across the back of the chair next to Jonny’s.

“Not watching your boy with the kids?”

Jonny doesn’t bother gracing that with a reply. Fuck Sharpy anyway.

“Just sayin’,” Sharpy says, poking Jonny’s shoulder. “Once marriage is done, the kids are next.”

“We’re not having kids,” Jonny says, trying not to sound as horrified as he feels. Sharpy has a kid, after all. “It’s fucking impossible when we both play hockey—”

“So you’re not discounting it if one of you didn’t?” Sharpy says with a raised eyebrow and what the fuck.

“But we do.” Jonny frowns.

Sharpy looks incredulous. “Toes, I worry. Are you deliberately obtuse, or do you honestly have so much hockey up there,” he pauses to tap Jonny’s forehead, “that you don’t have room for anything else.”

“Fuck off,” Jonny says, wrenching out of Sharpy’s way. “We’re not having kids. We’re not even—”

He trails off, angry at himself. Fuck Sharpy. Fuck him.

“Not even what?” Sharpy doesn’t sound suspicious, just curious.

“Nothing,” Jonny bites out. Maybe if he actively pushes Sharpy out of the door, he’ll leave. “What’s it to you if we have kids or not, anyway?”

Sharpy shrugs, and actually sits down in the chair which is the opposite of what Jonny wants right now. This day has been considerably better than the last few, for fuck’s sake. “You ever think about what Peeks wants?”

Jesus, no. Jonny actively tries to do the opposite. He knows what Patrick wants; that it’s not Jonny, but as if he even wants to think about that, let alone tell Sharpy. “It’s none of your business.”

He uses his captain voice, the one he doesn’t use that often off-ice, no matter what’s getting said about him this weekend, hoping it would shut Sharpy up. Thankfully, Sharpy just sighs.

“You just might wanna think about it.” Sharpy stands, pats Jonny’s back and goes to bother Carcillo and Stalberg.

---

“What crawled up your ass?” Patrick asks, walking through the door a half hour later. Jonny and Carcillo are the only ones left; Carcillo for the last panel, and Jonny because he’s Patrick’s ride.

Jonny studies Patrick’s face and then steers him to the corner, out of Carcillo’s ear shot. “You’re okay with, you know, right?”

Patrick’s eyebrows raise. “What the hell? Where is this coming from?”

“Answer the question,” Jonny snaps. “Are you?”

“Fuck,” Patrick pulls his arm out of Jonny’s grip. “Okay with what, asshole?”

“This,” Jonny gestures between them. “I’m not, holding you back from, whatever, right?”

Patrick frowns and then shakes his head, eyes narrowing. He stares at Jonny for a long moment, studying his face. Eventually his face clears and he shakes his head again, softer this time. “This isn’t anything I didn’t sign up for.”

That’s not the answer Jonny wants, dammit.

“What brought this on? You were fine before I left for the kid’s panel.” Patrick’s face shifts again. “Kids? Really?”

“It was Sharpy,” Jonny admits, grudgingly. “He thinks you might want ‘em and I know I’m not—”

Patrick snorts. “As if. Dude, I’m not mature enough for kids, you know? I like being able to give ‘em back. Maybe when I’m not playing hockey.”

“Yes,” Jonny says, because thank fuck.

“This whole marriage thing happened because I’m an immature fuck, Jonny. Why did you ever think I was ready for kids?”

Jonny scowls. “You’re not a fuckup. And I didn’t mean right now, moron. I meant in the future.”

“Well,” Patrick says, carefully. “We’ll talk about it if I ever—yeah?”

Jonny shrugs, nods. He doesn’t want to be having this conversation anymore. Thankfully, Patrick seems to be on the same page because he grabs his jacket from the back of one of the chairs.

“Let’s get out of here. We might actually get to sleep before we have to be back in the morning.”

Sunday looked pretty chill to Jonny when he glanced at the schedule the night before but he’s on the same page as Patrick; the conventions are always tiring and being able to fall face-first into bed when you get home is the best thing.

Bowman corners them before they leave, and Jonny doesn’t have time to wonder what he’s still doing there, before he’s asking how they’re doing.

“Great,” Patrick says, plastering a smile on his face. Anyone who knows him will see right through it and Jonny doesn’t know why he bothers; both he and Bowman do know Patrick. Under both of their stares, Patrick deflates a little. “How are we supposed to be?”

“There’s no right way to answer the question,” Stan says. “We can get you out the back way so you’re not set upon by the press. You’re going to have to answer them at some point, though.”

Jonny knows that’s more instruction than advice. “We just wanted—”

“-to focus on hockey, I know. I appreciate that. But if you don’t say anything, that can look worse than if you do.”

Exchanging a look with Patrick, Jonny nods tightly. “Fine. We’ll do it. After the convention.”

Bowman nods. Smiles a little. “We can get Brendan to go over stuff with you, make it a controlled release. In the meantime, I just wanted to let you boys know that you’re handling this better than we could have hoped. We’re proud of how you’re handling this.”

“Thank you,” Jonny says stiffly. He hopes his discomfort doesn’t show but, like Patrick, he’s in front of two people who know him well.

Stan nods. “See you tomorrow.”

When he’s gone, Patrick leans against Jonny. “For fuck’s sake. Can we go home now?”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, curling his arm around Patrick’s neck. “We can.”

---

The next morning, they’re ushered in the same way they were led out, so they escape the press yet again. They don’t actually have to be there until the last panel of the day, but they’re both interested in seeing the Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull Q&A. They hang out with Duncs and Seabs in the morning, most of the team are in the room, and it puts Jonny at ease; makes him feel like he’s back in the locker room and they’re shooting the shit, waiting to get out onto the ice.

“Only a couple of months and we’ll be back at the UC,” Seabs says.

“Some of us,” Hayes mutters.

“Cheer up, Hayes,” Shawsy says, tipping his chair back on two legs and intently staring down at whatever he’s doing on his phone. “The Icehogs are just as badass as the ‘Hawks.”

Hammer snorts, kicks Shaw’s chair down. “Less badass, more annoying little brother.”

Shaw bites back, something Jonny doesn’t catch, because Patrick nudges him at the same time.

“It’s like we don’t have two months before we’re back on the ice, huh?”

Jonny snorts. “Don’t worry. I promise that with the training we have to do over the summer, you won’t even notice the time pass.” He pats Patrick’s cheek and grins.

Patrick shoves his hand away, kicking him in the ankle. “Asshole. I can train myself. Not,” Patrick continues, holding up a hand. “Up for debate.”

“Whatever,” Jonny mutters, kicking Patrick back. The kicks degenerate into wrestling and Patrick grins, pokes his tongue out as he tries to get Jonny in a headlock.

“Awww,” Sharpy says. “Husbands wrestling.”

“Hey, Jonny,” Seabs interrupts, as Jonny manages to grab Patrick’s arms and pin him down in the seat. “Are you gonna sit on him and call him a fatty?”

Patrick cackles from under Jonny’s arms. “I’m skinnier than you, Seabrook.”

Jonny snorts. “Plus, he’s short. I’d hate to break him.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick snaps, elbowing Jonny sharply in the side.

“Ow!” Jonny finally releases Patrick, who backs away, grinning like a moron.

Stalberg makes a face. “It’s disgusting, this domesticity they’re not even trying to hide.”

There’s a small laugh at that when Jonny flips him off.

Shawzy, never one to miss an opportunity to be a brat, smirks. “Pretty sure they’ve always been this way.”

Sharpy clamps a hand over Shawzy’s mouth. “Ignore the rookie, boys. You enjoy your married bliss.”

Jonny lets that one go, dropping back into his seat and smirking at Patrick, who’s trying to resettle his hair. “There’s not that much of it, dude.”

“Ugh, if it looks terrible when I go out there—”

“You had a playoff mullet,” Hammer informs him, incredulously. “Are you sure you want to start complaining about terrible hair?”

Patrick tells the whole room to fuck off and then sits back down next to Jonny. “Can we leave now?”

“We just got here. Stop being a baby.”

“But Jonny,” Patrick whines, leaning over into Jonny’s space. “Everyone’s being mean to me.”

“So?”

“Some husband,” Patrick declares loudly. “Not even protecting me from ridicule.”

Jonny’s not surprised when that earns snorts from half the guys in the room, but he pats Patrick’s knee gently. “You’re a hockey player, Kaner. One that doesn’t even make 5’10.”—and yeah, Jonny’s always wondered how many people he had to bribe to get that as his recorded height pretty much everywhere—“I’m sure you’re used to ridicule by now.”

This time the punch to his side actually hurts but Jonny’s too busy laughing to really focus on it.

They’re called out to the first panel a little while later, and it’s a pretty great show. Jonny’s met Stan and Bobby a couple of times since joining the ‘Hawks, so it’s not quite the same holy shit you’re awesome feeling he got the first time, but it’s still enough. He mostly wants when he’s around them; wants the notoriety, the recognition that he’s a fucking great hockey player.

Patrick leans over as the video is playing at the front and says, “You’ll have your own monument outside the UC one day, you know.”

Jonny just shrugs. He’s not going to lie, that would be pretty much everything he’s dreamed of since he was a kid—well, being recognised as a great, not necessarily a monument outside Chicago, but he thinks that would be good. “Retire my jersey, huh?”

“Fuck yeah,” Patrick says, brushing his knuckles against Jonny’s thigh. “Nobody can wear 19 for Chicago after this and not have to live up to your ridiculously high standards. Your records. Shit, man, nobody will want to wear 19 for Chicago when you’re done with it.”

That’s pretty great praise and Jonny refuses to blush under it. Jesus. Patrick’s not usually one to say shit like that, not really, so Jonny’s surprised when he turns to look at him.

Patrick’s looking back, eyes wide, mouth quirked up into a small, honest smile and Jonny finds himself smiling back in response, leaning down to wrap his fingers around Patrick’s, even if it’s only for a moment. “You too, you know.”

With a shrug, Patrick turns back to the screen so Jonny pulls on him, tugs him around. “I mean it. You’re better at hockey than you think you are, Patrick. I wouldn’t do this—” he gestures between them, “if I didn’t think that.”

“Is that,” Patrick starts, licking his lips. “The only reason?”

Jonny doesn’t know how to answer that, not really. “I want you here.”

Patrick nods quickly, squeezes Jonny’s fingers. “Kay.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Patrick says, still smiling as they both turn back around to the front.

---

They make it through the rest of the day and finally, it’s their last panel. It’s more press heavy than the rest of the convention has been and Jonny’s immediately on edge as he, Patrick and Sharpy take their seats on the stage. There are fans there, but most of the front few rows are taken up by press. Jonny doesn’t recognise them all, either, which doesn’t bode well.

“It’s hockey,” Sharpy says. “It’ll be fine.”

Thankfully he pulls back from the microphone to say it but Jonny doesn’t trust anything to not pick up his voice, so he just nods. Patrick’s on the other side of Sharpy and, beyond him, Quenneville and Bowman. It’s a panel about the 2012/3 season and Jonny’s pretty excited to talk about where they wanna go with the next season, where they’re hoping they can take the team now that everyone’s up to full strength again, and they have the rookies back from Rockford.

It starts out okay; everyone seems pretty enthusiastic to hear what they have to say, but it doesn’t stay that way. One of the reporters near the front, and Jonny wishes he was close enough to see where they were from, speaks up and brings up the one subject that Jonny specifically doesn’t want to answer.

“So my question’s for Patrick.” The guy nods a little. “People have been noticing all weekend that you’re wearing your wedding rings. You wanna talk to us a little about that?”

Jonny scowls, curls his hands into a fist and only calms when he feels Sharpy’s hand on his leg. He looks down the table to see Patrick shrug a little, a smile on his face, the edges of it tense.

“We’re married. What else is there?”

A small ripple of laughter carries through the room and Jonny relaxes a little. Right up until the guy says, “Yeah, but it must be pretty weird being married—especially to your captain.”

“Why?” Patrick asks. “Jonny’s still Jonny, except he bitches way more now that I’m with him 24/7.”

Another laugh and Jonny’s starting to think maybe this will be okay; Patrick’s handling himself, and Jonny would never want to admit that he doubted him, but he also knows Patrick is the worst for taking criticism seriously.

“There are some who think this is bad timing on your part—that this comes immediately after Patrick’s off-ice meltdown—”

“-it wasn’t a meltdown—” Patrick mutters, but the guy is already continuing.

“-was this timed deliberately to detract from that?”

There’s silence from the panel and Jonny really, really wants to get up and walk away; this is supposed to be about hockey, not about them. Fuck.

“Absolutely not,” Quenville says.

“Are you saying the front office has known about this for a while?”

This time Bowman leans forward. “We’ve known about it as long as we’ve needed to. This was a private matter between Jonathan and Patrick, and they came to us when they were ready to take this public.”

There’s a moment and then someone else, a few rows back, pipes up. “So it was always a plan to make it public?”

Jonny shakes his head in disbelief. “When two hockey players get married, their marriage license isn’t going to stay hidden - there’s always a risk it’s going to get out. As we well know.”

He says it dryly, and some people laugh, but the air of the room is still somber. Jonny glances at Patrick, who’s looking a little less enthusiastic than he was before, shoulders tight. His smile is growing more fake with every question and Jonny hates it, can feel his own anger tightening in his chest.

“Are you sorry about your trip to Madison?” A woman asks Patrick, her expression hard to read. Jonny really fucking hates reporters in situations like these. When it’s hockey, when they’re in the safety of the locker room, he knows exactly what to say, how to behave. Out here it’s different.

“Of course,” Patrick says, and he sounds like this shit is getting to him. “I’m sorry for the way I acted then, for the people I hurt through my actions and for the negative attention I brought on myself and this organisation, my family and friends.”

“And Jonny?”

Jonny doesn’t look away from Patrick, even though he wants to know who asked that question.

Patrick looks down at the table, eyebrows drawn into a frown and he shrugs a little. “Especially Jonny.”

Fuck. Jonny looks up, and wants to ask Bowman to stop this, to direct attention back to hockey. Even Sharpy looks angry, his other hand on the back of Patrick’s chair. This isn’t fair; they’re picking on Patrick, thinking he’s the weak link or something, and Jonny knows he’s not, but he wants this to fucking end.

Before he can open his mouth to say anything, another reporter is gesturing at Patrick. “So you’re worried this will bring negative attention on Jonathan? The way you behave?”

Patrick opens his mouth to reply and then closes it, not sure how to answer, maybe. He just shrugs. “I don’t think it will. This is on me, not Tazer.”

People look sceptical down the front. Fuck them.

“Well, there have been some conversations with other players in the league. They seem to have mixed feelings about this relationship.”

Jonny’s had enough. He leans into the microphone, tugging it forward and glaring down at the guy in the front row. “So? We’re here to talk about hockey, not the state of our marriage, or our place in the NHL.”

“Jonny—” Sharpy starts, away from the mic, but Patrick’s still sitting to his other side, looking like he wants to crawl off the stage and never show his face again.

Jonny’s pissed off. “You asked before if Patrick will make me look bad and that’s not something you get to ask. He never has, never will and that’s not something I should have to tell you. This marriage is between Patrick and I, nobody else. Everyone’s going to have their opinions - about me, about us, about Patrick. The blogs can make all the comments they like and people can talk about us, about our place in the NHL, in North American sports, even. They can talk about what our marriage means in places like that.” Jonny’s fist is still clenched and he can hear the whispers of the other guys but he doesn’t stop; feels like he does when he gets into fights on ice, like everything’s narrowed down to this one moment, he’s shaking with it. “You don’t get to talk about it to Patrick—not here, not ever. That’s not what this panel is for. This is for hockey, for the team. The marriage—that’s our business. The league can be proud of this, that this is a big thing, but nobody gets to question Patrick’s motives, gets to question how he feels about me—but me. We’re not—he’s not here to be paraded around like that. This is just us. What happens behind closed doors, what happens when we’re not on the ice, that’s all about me and Patrick, nobody else.”

He pulls back from the microphone, stares out at the sea of faces and shit, what the fuck did he just do. The silence seems to drag on for minutes before someone finally asks about their team for the next season.

“You okay?” Sharpy asks, low, in Jonny’s ear.

Jonny nods. He’s done harder things at worse times. He knows his answers are distracted, that he’s not really focused on anything but wanting to get the fuck off the stage. Eventually they do, Jonny immediately stepping down and making his way to the conference room, banging through the door and leaning against the table.

“Hey,” Patrick says, hand on the back of Jonny’s neck. “Jonny, talk to me.”

Jonny’s anger is receding now he’s not out there and shit, what he’s feeling is infinitely worse. “What the fuck do you want me to say?”

“Look at me, asshole,” Patrick says. He doesn’t wait for Jonny to do it, pulls him up until Jonny’s facing him and he looks—he looks concerned. Jonny wants to snort. He should be; Jonny’s pretty sure that whatever he’s just done is bad for them. “Why’d you do that?”

“It was supposed to be about hockey.” Jonny doesn’t know how else to answer.

Patrick nods. “It would have calmed down. They would have stopped with the marriage shit.”

Jonny glares at him, feels his fists start to clench but Patrick reaches down, grabs his wrists. “But they didn’t.”

“I meant what I said.” Patrick shakes Jonny’s arms a little. “I don’t need you to protect me.”

That wasn’t—“It doesn’t mean I don’t still want to,” Jonny snaps. “I—”

Patrick looks shocked, reeling a little. “Well, that’s—” He pauses and then starts to smile, slow and easy. Jonny doesn’t understand. “Thanks.”

Jonny shrugs, unable to look Patrick in the eye. “Whatever.”

“Hey,” Patrick says again, softer this time. “Thanks.”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, just as quiet. “Wait till this shitstorm passes before thanking me.”

Patrick snorts but doesn’t let Jonny go. Jonny’s glad he doesn’t.

---

Patrick drives them home from the convention. Jonny’s got his fingers curled against his jeans, doesn’t trust himself to speak. He’s angry at himself, a little embarrassed because he doesn’t do stuff like that, doesn’t get so angry his filter shuts off and he-

“Jonny.” Patrick’s voice cuts through the whirl of emotions.

“What if I fucked it up?”

“Then we deal with it,” Patrick snaps. “You having an emotional meltdown in the car isn’t helping.”

“Pretty sure I had that at the convention,” Jonny says back, just as harshly. He glares out of the windshield because looking at Patrick just makes him feel kinda sick to his stomach.

Patrick mutters something under his breath that Jonny doesn’t catch but then he’s saying, louder, “Self pity doesn’t suit you.”

Jonny doesn’t reply. So maybe he’s still angry, feels it simmering just beneath his skin and he’s got no outlet but Patrick now. He knows better than to give in to it. He and Patrick fight more often than not but never just because it’s convenient. Jonny’s not going to do that to Patrick. Not after the shitshow of the final panel.

Patrick pulls the car into the parking lot. “You’re an idiot if you think I’m blaming you for anything. Pretty sure if we start that game, I’d come out top, Jonny.”

Jonny gets it but that doesn’t stop him being angry. He’s never liked having his private life shoved out for everyone to see. He doesn’t like doing the photo shoots and ads that Blackhawks PR seem to think he and Patrick are the best for. He doesn’t like doing any of that; it doesn’t feel right. He just wants to play hockey, he’s never wanted to be the face of anything. He appreciates what he’s getting from the ‘Hawks and gives back because it’s expected. This—Patrick, the marriage, the press that goes along with it—is all self-inflicted and this is the first time he’s regretted it.

He feels sick again, unbuckles his seatbelt and turns. Patrick’s still got his hands on the wheel, frowning.

“We’ve still got this, right?”

Jonny doesn’t want to lie, so he doesn’t say anything at all. Patrick obviously takes that for what it is and gets out of the car, slamming the door and not waiting for Jonny before he starts stalking towards the lobby.

“Fuck,” Jonny bites out. This is so fucked up. If he’d just kept his mouth shut-

Patrick hasn’t gone far. He’s leaning against the wall by the elevator, even as the doors are opening. He looks confused, angry and disappointed all at once. He doesn’t say anything as they get in the elevator, take it to the top floor, and walk towards their apartment door. He doesn’t say anything through them getting ready for bed, climbing into it and pressing together. It’s only when they’re comfortable, settled and close to sleep that Patrick takes Jonny’s arm, pulls it over him and says, “We’ll fix it.”

“Patrick—”

“Shut up, dickhead. You keep saying we should think of this as a hockey game, right? So suck it up, take the loss and move onto the next game, the next play.”

Jonny closes his eyes, sucks in a breath and holds it. He thinks about their 9 game loss streak and knows he can do this, they can do this. “Which one of us is the captain here?”

“Sometimes you need an A to punch some sense into you. Guess I have to be the A in this relationship.”

“You guess?”

“Well unless you have someone else on the side,” Patrick asks, slightly hesitantly like he doesn’t want to know the answer.

“No,” Jonny says certainly, squeezing Patrick gently. “Nobody else.”

---

Jonny wakes first the next morning. Patrick’s spread-eagle on the bed, one arm and leg thrown over Jonny and the other half poking out from under the duvet. He’s not drooling, thankfully, but he does have his face pressed between the pillows. Jonny doesn’t think he’s in a position to suffocate, but he nudges his pillow out of the way a little anyway. Patrick stirs but just shifts forward, burying his nose in Jonny’s neck and falling back into sleep.

Jonny lifts the hand tucked under Patrick’s head, manages to get his fingers in Patrick’s hair. He knows he should check his phone; there’s probably messages from family, the front office and Brisson. His phone is on Patrick’s nightstand and leaning over to grab it would dislodge him. The last thing he needs to deal with is Patrick grumpy and being a shit, so. He needs to get his shit together. The way he was behaving last night was pretty shitty and not at all the way he knows he should. Even thinking that he regrets making the decision to marry Patrick is pretty fucking awful and he scowls, angry at himself. He has to be better with this, with getting this thing for Patrick under control.

“Mmmjonny,” Patrick says, shifting his hand up to fist it in Jonny’s t-shirt. “Cofffffeee.”

Jonny snorts, threading it through Patrick’s hair. “Get your lazy ass off me.”

Patrick pouts, opening one eye slowly. He’s still squinting it when he pokes out his tongue. “You’re the worst husband ever.”

“You keep saying that, it’ll lose all meaning.” Jonny rolls his eyes. “Move.”

“Fine, fine,” Patrick bitches, rolling off of Jonny and flopping onto his back. Jonny catches himself watching the way Patrick’s shirt hikes up as he stretches, exposing a sliver of skin just above the waistband of his boxers. Jesus. He walks out of the bedroom and into the kitchen before he can get caught staring.

He’s pouring out the coffee when Patrick finally makes his way into the kitchen, bleary eyed and dragging his feet. And he mocks Jonny for not being a morning person.

“Morning sunshine,” Jonny says, because he’s an asshole sometimes.

Patrick grunts and grabs his cup, looking over the rim at Jonny in disgust. “You’re surprisingly alert this morning.”

Jonny shrugs and leans back against the counter, ankles crossed and arms folded. He stares out the Chicago skyline, allowing the press of Patrick’s body against his.

“We facing this together, like champs?”

Jonny screws up his nose. “I couldn’t enjoy one cup of coffee?”

“Please,” Patrick says, shoving Jonny lightly. “As if you haven’t been worrying about it all morning.”

It’s accurate but Jonny isn’t going to let Patrick know that. “I haven’t.”

“Right.” Patrick draws the word out. “Of course not.”

Jonny contemplates going to get his phone because whatever, Patrick’s right, but he’s not quite ready to face the reality the texts and voicemails will no doubt bring.

He’s nudged by Patrick a few minutes later. “If we can face the press after the mess of last season, we can face this.”

Jonny’s phone is shoved under his nose and he takes it. “Thanks.”

“Like ripping off a band aid.”

“Nothing like,” Jonny mutters, but he turns it on. As predicted, there are messages and voicemails aplenty, not as many as their post-marriage leak, but enough. He ignores them all but Brisson’s for now, knowing that if anyone is going to be diplomatic about this, it will be their agent.

Jonathan,

I know I don’t have to tell you that there’s been a lot of media reaction to your outburst at the convention. None of it seems to be particularly bad but you may want to keep your eye on the fact that the media are focusing more on the two of you now that you’ve given them a reason to—not that any of them will be doubting the sincerity of your feelings any longer.

Jonny doesn’t know what the fuck that means until he sees the collection of quotes that Brisson’s collected and pasted into the email. The first is an embedded form of the video one fan has obviously posted to YouTube and Jonny clicks on it hesitatingly. He’s not sure he really wants to watch it.

Patrick’s peering over his shoulder, and Jonny opens the video. It’s like watching particularly bad plays, or the few fights he’s actually gotten into over the years. It feels embarrassing, but more than that, he realises just what it is he’s watching; this isn’t him protecting a teammate, it’s not even about him stopping reporters from ganging up on Patrick. This is about him—and how much emotion he’s actually displaying and fuck, this is why he doesn’t like talking about shit. His feelings are written all over his face, in the tightness of his body as he leans over the mic, the anger on his face as he talks about leaving Patrick the fuck out of it. He understands what Brisson is saying about sincerity. There’s no way anybody looking at this, at him, can think he’s anything less than one hundred percent invested in Patrick.

He feels sick; more that people have seen that side of him than for what he’s saying. He likes his private life to remain that for a reason.

“Shit.” He closes the video while he’s still mid-sentence. When he risks a look at Patrick, it’s too see him still staring down at Jonny’s phone, brows drawn into a frown. “What?”

Shaking himself a little, Patrick looks up and shrugs. “Just, seeing it again, you know? You were a little—you don’t even let shit like that happen in the locker room, Jonny.”

“Yeah, well,” Jonny says. He’s not sure what else to say, though, so he scrolls further down in the email to see what some of the websites are saying.

“It’s nice to have Deadspin on our side for once, huh?” Patrick says, softly, and Jonny can see the smirk out of the corner of his eye.

Jonny snorts. It is, but he knows the flipside is that they’ll be on them again in a second if they fuck any part of this up. Jonny suspects the next few quotes are from the reporters who’d been pressing Patrick for answers; they’re not apologetic but they’re respectful of Jonny’s reaction.

Sometimes, getting caught up in the media rush of having two gay hockey players, it’s possible to forget that there are actually people beneath their jerseys and Toews made damn sure people knew he wouldn’t tolerate invasions into their private life are two of the quotes he gets stuck on, can’t seem to scroll down.

Patrick nudges him gently. “Hey, there’s only a couple more.”

“I don’t need to read them,” Jonny says, pushing his phone onto the island.

“It’s not all bad,” Patrick quips, putting the coffee maker back on. “Most of them seem pretty okay with you flipping your shit, dude.”

“I didn’t ‘flip my shit’,” Jonny mutters. He pushes off of the counter and turns, regarding Patrick with a raised eyebrow. “Having them accept my outburst doesn’t mean they’re not going to still be watching us, you do get that, right?”

Patrick’s silent for a moment, staring down at the coffee maker. Eventually, he makes a face. “I’m not trying to say they won’t, asshole. I’m just saying, you can stop internally freaking out or whatever it is you’re doing right now. And if you think I can’t tell that you are, you’re messed up worse than I thought you were.”

“Messed up how?” Jonny snaps. “Messed up because I tried to stop them verbally giving you shit about everything but your play?”

“No,” Patrick says, finally turning. His voice is more level than Jonny’s, which isn’t something Jonny is used to. It startles him into actually listening. “Messed up because you seem to think this whole thing, the marriage and protecting me, which isn’t something you’ve ever had to fucking do, is just on you.”

That’s not true, Jonny has never—

“You think you have to be the strongest person and for fuck’s sake, Jonny, I’ve been standing up for myself for years, long before the NHL. You have to trust that I can, or this isn’t going to work.”

Jonny wants to believe that he’s never thought that about Patrick, but he knows he can’t say that with any certainty. He makes a face, looks down at the floor. “I trust you.”

Patrick tilts his chin a little. “Yeah?”

“Yes, asshole,” Jonny grits out. He looks Patrick in the eye. “I trust you.”

“That hurt, huh?” Patrick crosses the distance between them, a new mug of coffee in his hands, and tilts his head back a little. “Admitting that?”

Jonny glares down at him. “No. I’m quite capable of saying it.”

Patrick pushes the mug into Jonny’s hands and smirks. “Your secret’s safe with me.”

Jonny grabs the back of Patrick’s head, pulls him close, their faces inches apart, intends to say fuck you. He pauses when Patrick’s entire face shifts into shock, eyes wide and mouth slack. Even his body has relaxed against Jonny’s. Oh.

There’s a horrible, tense moment that Jonny has to break. “Fuck you,” he says, voice a little more unsteady than he’d planned.

Thankfully, it doesn’t take Patrick long to back away, expression mock-outraged, but even he looks a little unsteady. God, god, what the fuck.

“I—”

“It’s cool,” Patrick says, grins a little. “Fuck you too, asshole.”

There isn’t much that Jonny can do in the face of that except snort, drink his coffee and focus on anything but the way he’d been this close to kissing Patrick.

---

It takes a few days for the attention over Jonny’s outburst to die down, and Patrick loves every second. He watches the video a couple of times—all with Jonny still in the apartment—because watching embarrassment and exasperation warring on Jonny’s face is the best fucking thing. It’s got nothing to do with liking the way Jonny gets this super hot, super intense angry look on his face when he’s cutting down reporters on Patrick’s behalf or anything. Which is exactly what he tells Erica when she texts him about it, asking if he, found that shit a turn-on, right?

Wrong.

Well. Mostly. He likes watching it, trying to determine which parts of Jonny’s anger are situation related, and which are Patrick related. Not that he doesn’t think Jonny cares, when he thinks about it, which isn’t that often, he knows Jonny does. He’s just trying not to read into it too much. Again, when he tries to text Erica this, he gets a highly skeptical response.

you keep saying it’s not genuine but through the wedding and this: I SEE GENUINE FEELINGS PAT.

He wants to believe her but she’s not around 24/7, not around to see shit like the weird moment in the kitchen where Patrick thought they were going to kiss but Jonny froze up and yeah, Patrick’s not okay with that. He doesn’t want it to be something Jonny does if he doesn’t want it.

Over the next few days, as the stories die down and they focus on getting back into their training ready for the new season, Patrick finds himself thinking about it more. He doesn’t know what he’s looking for, not really, and tries not to get caught looking at Jonny or anything. He’s not obvious about it.

After the almost-kiss, it seems like Jonny’s stepping up the affection shit, touches lingering longer than they have to, which Patrick would totally call him out on if he didn’t enjoy it. He also tends to wait a few moments before disentangling from Patrick in the mornings which isn’t new, but Patrick’s finding himself liking it more and more.

Is it wrong?

Erica’s probably going to get sick of him asking questions, but he’s not afraid to call on people when he needs help. He knows how to ask for something, contrary to popular belief.

She doesn’t answer him for a couple of hours and he doesn’t have to do anything training wise until late in the afternoon, so Patrick manages to convince Jonny to actually sit down and watch a movie with him. It’s halfway through when Erica finally gets back to him and all she says is, you’re fucking dense which doesn’t actually answer his question.

He considers texting Jackie or Jessica but then he’d have to explain to them that what they saw during the wedding was fake. He’s not that much of a tool, even if it feels bad enough that he’s leading them on. Lately it feels like he’s not which is just confusing and annoying.

It’s not until he’s worked out in the gym for a while alone, convincing Jonny he could last a while longer, that he wonders if he’s just projecting. That’s something that happens, right? Patrick was so much better off when this was just something he had to hide and not examine. He makes his way back up to their apartment, towel in hand and exhausted to the point that he’s looking forward to his bed. He leans against the back wall of the elevator, frowning down at his sneakers. Maybe what’s happening between them is genuine because Patrick wants it to be. When they’d gone to kiss, Jonny hadn’t been into it, had stiffened up like it was, like he-

Fuck. Patrick’s just going to have deal with this, shove it down and act normal, keep it the same way it has been. He’s been hiding his real feelings for years and if that’s the way Jonny wants it, that’s the way he’s going to get it.

---

Patrick loves being in Chicago over the summer; he gets a little cabin fever from laying low and training all the time, but that seems nothing compared to how weird Jonny’s been behaving around him. Sometimes he’ll get the affectionate weirdness he’s been getting since the conference, and at other times Jonny pulls away from him enough that it seems like they’re not even friends. Patrick calls him on it once or twice and they argue so long and with so much anger that Patrick sleeps in the guest room for two days straight.

When Jonny finally talks to him, standing awkwardly in the doorway and refusing to meet Patrick’s eyes, he admits that there’s rumours of a lockout.

Patrick’s not stupid; he’s known the CBA ended in February, but he’d thought maybe shit would get worked out. To be honest, he’s had more things to worry about, but Jonny’s been way more into the whole NHLPA stuff because he’s like, best buddies with Sidney Crosby when they’re not playing against each other, and pays attention to everything.

Patrick frowns. “So what, there’s no hockey?”

“Dunno,” Jonny admits slowly. “Doesn’t look good.”

Patrick doesn’t know what to say. Fuck, if they don’t get hockey after the end of last season and this summer, Patrick’s not sure what he’s going to do. Some of Jonny’s behaviour over the last few days makes sense, but Patrick’s not ready to let it go just yet.

“You were an asshole because what, you didn’t think you were getting hockey?”

“Patrick—”

Patrick stands, shaking his head. “No, that is bullshit, Jonny. I get it, we both want hockey but that doesn’t mean you get to treat me like shit in the meantime.”

“I haven’t,” Jonny snaps. “It’s not like you’ve been walking around like fucking sunshine, either.”

Patrick doesn’t want to fight again. He’s so tired of that being the only thing the two of them seem capable of recently. He misses how easy it’s been and maybe that’s the problem; it’s been too easy and they’ve been so busy trying to make it that way for each other that now they’re finally getting back into their groove, fitting back together how they did before, that it’s not working. Patrick doesn’t like it, feels a little—not scared, but hates that they don’t fit together the same way now that there’s a ring on his finger.

“Sorry,” he bites out. “It’s just—”

He doesn’t know how to explain it but thankfully he doesn’t have to. Jonny comes to sit down next to him. “Yeah. You know, me too.”

Patrick nudges him with a tight smile. “We’ll figure it out, right?”

Jonny doesn’t answer him right away and Patrick’s getting ready to full on panic about this shit, okay, when he finally nods. “Yeah. We’ve come this far. We can do this.”

Patrick really, really wants him to be right.

---

They’re down in the building gym at the tail end of a workout session, when Patrick notices something’s not quite right with Jonny. He’s been chirping Patrick from his position on the treadmill, the douchebag, and he reaches over to bring his session to a slow finish. It’s between the moment that the treadmill stops and Patrick opening his mouth to say something, that he notices Jonny take an uneasy step towards the bar, and reach out for it.

Patrick frowns. It’s not the first time he’s noticed something like this with Jonny; there was his stumble and tiredness after the water skiing, and there’s been a couple of times they’ve been working out that Jonny will take a moment to right himself.

“You getting sick, dude?”

Jonny’s head comes up a little fast, and he blinks before saying, “Why?”

“You literally clutched at the railing like you were going to fall over.” Patrick shrugs. He climbs off of the bike, feels the burn in his legs and knows he’s had a good session. God, it’s not that he misses this sort of thing during the off-season, but he likes to know that he’s earning his ice-time by being in the best shape he can be. Hockey is something he’s never going to be anything less than completely dedicated to. Not the only thing that deserves his complete focus, at least not anymore, but one of the most important ones.

“I just came off too fast,” Jonny snaps, wiping the back of his neck with his towel. He’s not looking Patrick in the eye, though, not the way he usually does when he wants Patrick to understand just how little Jonny appreciates his input.

Patrick calls bullshit, but he doesn’t say anything. This is just going to end up being another pointless fight and he’s not sure how many more of those he can take before he goes insane. “Sure, Jonny.”

Jonny looks back over his shoulder and there’s a beat or two, frowning like he’s considering how genuine Patrick’s being which, fuck him okay, Patrick’s completely sincere. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to be watching Jonny, but that’s his problem. Husband’s prerogative or whatever. Husband. Jesus, that still feels, even now, pretty fucking great to say, even in his own head.

“You ready to go back up?” Jonny asks, when he’s done assessing Patrick’s sincerity level.

Patrick nods, threads his way through the machines and joins Jonny in the hall. “You’d fucking tell me, right?”

“What?” Jonny pushes the button for the elevator. He looks genuinely confused, the idiot, and Patrick wants to punch him in the face on a regular basis so this isn’t really anything new. Still, Jonny’s an asshole.

“If you were getting sick or something. The last thing I wanna do is pick up your germs.” Patrick makes a face.

Jonny snorts, pushes Patrick gently into the elevator. “I’m not getting sick and if we were, you’ve already got whatever it is. We’re sleeping in the same bed. Calm down, princess.”

Patrick mock-pouts and leans across Jonny to punch the button for their floor. “Just saying. It’s a genuine concern. You’re a bitch when you’re sick, is all. I don’t think I can handle your whining and bitching.”

“I don’t whine and bitch.” Jonny scowls. He pauses, actually contemplating it, because he’s a fucking dick. “I’m in genuine distress.”

Patrick doesn’t know how to answer that. He lets out a surprised laugh. “Genuine distress. What the fuck, Jonny.”

Of course Jonny’d be smug about making Patrick laugh. He’s smirking, self-satisfied and pats Patrick on the shoulder. “Don’t sorry, Kaner. I’ll still take care of you when you’re being a baby.”

“You’re lucky I love you, asshole,” Patrick says, rolling his eyes and leaning back against the wall. Jonny stiffens next to him and Patrick cranks open one eye. “What?”

He thinks back over what he just said and oh, oh fuck.

“You—”

“I—” Patrick starts, straightening up. “Um.”

Jonny’s looking at him intently, eyes wide but expression serious. “Yeah?”

Patrick shrugs. He doesn’t know why Jonny’s asking. “I mean, buddies, right?”

The shift of expression on Jonny’s face is lightening fast, goes from shock to anger to blankness. “Sure.”

“No, I—” Patrick goes to lift a hand and thinks better of it, lets them hang awkwardly by his sides. God, why does he do this shit and then—“I mean—”

“It’s fine,” Jonny says, smiling tightly and it’s so fucking fake that Patrick aches to say I love you and mean it. Jonny’s reactions don’t make sense. Patrick just wants to know what the hell is going on inside his head but god, he knows better than to ask.

When they’re back up in the apartment, and Patrick can hide in the shower for as long as he wants, he ends up scowling at the tiled wall for about ten minutes, imagining it’s Jonny and wanting to punch him in his dumb, ridiculous face. So Patrick doesn’t really have the high ground here, because it’s not like he wants to talk to Jonny about this. There’s nothing he wants less, but Jonny runs hot and cold on a moment’s notice and it’s just so confusing. Patrick thinks he’s sorted his head out, and then Jonny does something that confuses the fuck out of him all over again.

There’s a bang on the door after a few moments. “You drowned in there?”

“Fuck off!” Patrick’s tone is harsher than he means it to be, but Jonny doesn’t knock again. He shuts off the water anyway. So much for not wanting to fight with Jonny. Something has to give and it has to give soon.

He grabs a towel from the rack and wraps it around his body. When he rubs the condensation off of the mirror and looks at himself, he makes a face. This shouldn’t be hard. Putting a ring on his finger doesn’t mean he and Jonny are different people. They have shit surrounding them now and it’s going to be tough, but haven’t they always? He lets it get to him, even when Jonny tells him not to, so now it’s gotta be his turn to force Jonny to see that they’re still them, that even if people take their relationship and twist it into something repulsive, something they don’t like, it won’t matter; their friendship is what matters most and Patrick’s not willing to let anybody take that away—not even them.

When he finally leaves the bathroom, padding down the hall to the living room, Jonny’s standing by the window in the bedroom. Patrick kind of loves the views in the apartment, the spread of Chicago below them, like nothing can touch them all the way up here.

“Hey,” he says, watches the lines of Jonny’s body tense a little. “Look, I just wanna—”

“Is this going to be another fight?” Jonny asks, his hands clenching into fists by his sides.

Patrick frowns. “No, I’m trying to apologize, asshole.”

That at least gets Jonny turning around, looking at him. “What?”

“I don’t know what the fuck’s happening here Jonny, but we’re still us, yeah?”

He wants Jonny to get it, wants him to understand so that he doesn’t have to explain it. They stare at each other for what feels like a stupidly long time, and Patrick wants to squirm under it but doesn’t. He tilts his chin, stands there, probably looking ridiculous in just a towel.

Eventually, Jonny nods, just once. “Yeah. I get it, Pat.”

Patrick’s smile probably looks more relieved than he wants it to. “Okay.” He digs around in his closet for a shirt and pants. “So how much longer are we gonna hang around the apartment for, man? We gotta get out and like, experience Chicago in the summer.”

Jonny snorts, sits on the edge of the bed and doesn’t look like he’s contemplating giving Patrick privacy anytime soon. “You getting sick of me already, Kaner?”

It doesn’t feel like forced lightness, so Patrick hopes that maybe they’re just getting better at like, communicating shit post-fighting. “Of course. There’s only so long I can stare at your dumb face.”

He does know that the reason they’re getting into so many fights, that things are so tense, is because they’re spending so much time together and not having anything to break it up.

“Call Sharpy,” Jonny says, sounding a little reluctant. “He’s always complaining that we never go over there.”

“Hell to the yes.” Patrick grins over his shoulder as he makes his way into their bathroom. “I get to see my baby girl!”

He closes the door between them, cutting off whatever smart remark Jonny makes.

---

Predictably, Sharpy’s pretty happy to hear from them, and jumps on a chance for them to come around. He says it’s because he hates to think of them killing each other in their apartment, which is a little close to home. Patrick knows, though, that he loves any chance to rag on Jonny, mostly because he’s completely irrational in his responses to teasing. Unless, Patrick knows, you get Jonny and his sense of humour.

“Peeks!” Sharpy says, grinning like an idiot as he pulls Patrick into a back-slapping hug. “Toning up well, little man.”

Patrick narrows his eyes. “Stop calling me that, I’m not little.”

“I don’t know,” Jonny says, tone dry. “You’re pretty short, Kaner.”

It’s lame, so fucking lame, but Patrick grins anyway because it’s Jonny. When they turn back to Sharpy, he looks disgusted. “Get inside the house and keep your ridiculous PDAs to yourself.”

“It wasn’t a PDA,” Jonny says, brows furrowed.

Patrick ignores both of them because Abby’s coming into the hall with Maddy, and Patrick’s occupied with greeting one of his favourite girls in the whole world. She reaches out for him and he’s only too willing to take her from Maddy, grinning and poking her on the nose with his finger. “Hey Maddy.”

Maddy says something that is clearly supposed to be his name whatever Sharpy says, grinning her toothy little grin, and waving her arms around.

Sharpy and Abby lead the way into the living room, and Patrick deliberately ignores the look he knows is on Jonny’s face, the look he always get whenever he sees Maddy and Patrick together, soft and careful and something else Patrick can’t name.

“Jon, you wanna come help with dinner?” Abby asks.

Jonny looks like he’d rather have a romantic dinner with Ryan Kesler, but he goes, tapping Patrick on his lower back as he passes.

“So,” Patrick says to Maddy. “What are we playing with today?”

He’s still playing with Maddy and her mis-matched blocks when Jonny comes back into the room. Sharpy’s been making comments about Patrick being a father, and what’s his deal anyway, but Patrick ignores him.

Jonny kicks him on the bottom of his foot as he drops down onto the couch. “Dinner’ll be ready soon.”

“Cool,” Patrick says, looking back over his shoulder to grin.

Sharpy elbows Jonny in the side. “Your boy’s been having more fun with blocks than Maddy.”

Patrick flushes and wants to flip Sharpy off, so he makes do with mouthing fuck off and passing Maddy another block for her to mostly chew on.

Jonny doesn’t say anything, just nurses his beer, eyes boring into the back of Patrick’s head. Patrick lets the small talk wash over him, punches Sharpy in the calf when he tells Patrick to, “Let the adults talk, Peeks,” and pokes Maddy until she shrieks with laughter.

It’s not until they’re standing up to finally eat, that Patrick notices something off with Jonny again. He’s got his eyes closed when he stands, and wobbles a little on his feet. There is clearly something wrong and Patrick wants to ask but they’re in the middle of Sharpy’s house. He settles for watching Jonny throughout the meal. He’s not obvious about it, even if he catches Sharpy’s confused look a couple of times. He manages to engage both Sharpy and Abby in conversation, while poking his tongue out at random intervals and watching Maddy clap her hands in glee.

Sharpy’s in the middle of asking Jonny about their long term ‘marriage plans’, what the fuck, when Patrick leans over and says, “Pass the bread?”

He only sees it because he’s looking Jonny straight in the face when he does so. His left eye isn’t tracking as well as it should and Patrick’s whole body freezes up, the hand he’s just used to take the bread plate from Jonny still stuck halfway between them.

Jonny’s expression is impassive but Patrick feels anger well up in his chest, his eyes narrowing.

“Patrick?” Abby asks, looking between Jonny and Patrick carefully. “Everything okay?”

“No,” Patrick says, and his voice doesn’t even sound like him. He puts the bread back on the table and clenches his hands into fists either side of his plate. He’s still got his eyes on Jonny’s face. “You need to tell me what the hell’s going on right now.”

Jonny looks stubborn but Patrick isn’t in the fucking mood for this. “Patrick—”

“Okay,” Sharpy says, cutting through the tension easily. “Abby and I are going to take Maddy into the other room.”

“No,” Jonny says, and even his voice is stubborn. He needs to stop fucking doing that because Patrick is going to punch him in his stupid, idiotic face. “You don’t—”

Patrick knows Sharpy’s looking at him, though. “Yes, Jonny, I think we do.”

Patrick waits until Sharpy and Abby have taken Maddy out and closed the door, before he snarls angrily, “Why the fuck haven’t you fixed this shit?”

“What?” Jonny asks, jaw clenched.

Fuck. Him. “There’s been something wrong for weeks! Your eyes are doing weird shit, not tracking or whatever it was Mike said they were supposed to do, and you get dizzy spells.”

Jonny looks like he might argue, and Patrick isn’t in the mood for that, not right now. He knows logically the anger in his chest is masking the blossoming panic at the thought of Jonny still having lingering effects of his concussion even now.

Jonny’s face shifts through many different expressions before he settles on resignation. “I was fine.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick says. “You wrapped your fucking car around a pole!”

“That was before!” Jonny snaps, voice rising. “It was fine.”

“We went water-skiing,” Patrick says with rising horror. “I knew something was wrong and I didn’t—if you’ve fucked this up and you can’t—”

Shut the fuck up,” Jonny says, voice tight. “You think I would ever do that?”

Patrick snorts. “You are now, you asshole! You’re doing shit when you know your head’s not right.”

Jonny sits in stony silence and Patrick’s too angry to really know what he wants to say.

“You said,” Patrick says, keeping his voice as even as he can. “You said before we crashed out that you were fine and you—”

“I meant to,” Jonny admits, sounding like he’s wrenching the words out. “It just got sidelined.”

“Because of the marriage?” Patrick asks.

Jonny immediately shakes his head. “Hey, no, Patrick. Not like that.”

Patrick snorts. “You had a migraine back when this first started. Were you still, then, getting shit like this?”

It seems to take an age for Jonny to answer. “Sometimes it’s like, I move too fast and shit gets weird. Mostly it’s double-vision when I move my head a certain way.”

Patrick rubs the heels of his hands into his eyes. “Christ.”

The silence drags on. Patrick can see Jonny playing with his knife as he looks down, expression dark. Patrick doesn’t want to console him because he’s an asshole and he should know better than to fuck shit up like this. “You gotta get help, man.”

Jonny shrugs.

“No,” Patrick says, reaching over to grab Jonny’s wrist tight. “You gotta go somewhere and sort this out, I swear, Jonny.”

“Yeah okay,” Jonny says quickly, as he takes in Patrick’s expression. Patrick doesn’t even know what he looks like, but if Jonny lets this concussion fuck up his play after he’s spent so long trying to keep Patrick in Chicago, with him, Patrick doesn’t know what the hell he’s going to do. “I will.”

Patrick lets Jonny go, drawing back. “You better.”

They sit in awkward silence for a few minutes, before Patrick breaks and pushes back his chair. “Come on. We should go back out.”

“Kaner,” Jonny says. “You know I’m so—”

“Yeah,” Patrick says, not actually wanting to hear it. When Jonny starts to actively sort it, when Patrick knows he’s getting help, it’ll be fine.

---

Jonny doesn’t start looking into getting treatment for what Patrick’s taken to calling his ‘movement disorder’. For all that Jonny’s the one with lingering symptoms, it’s Patrick who’s going online and finding centers who have good neurological departments, deliberately leaving pamphlets in Jonny’s line-of-sight and giving Jonny the silent treatment when he finds them in the trash.

It’s not that Jonny doesn’t want to get the problem fixed, he’s just more focused on the potential lockout. He only relents when Patrick convinces Sidney Crosby of all people to step in.

They’ve been texting back and forth about the NHLPA and discussing potential plans, but when Sidney texts, Carrick Institute at Life, Jonny scowls at the back of Patrick’s head, where he’s lying on his side, still asleep. Jonny looks it up anyway, has to admit they have a good program and if Sidney’s sending it to him, the guy whose career was threatened by his concussion, Jonny should really book an appointment with someone. The fact that it’s in Atlanta is pretty inconvenient, especially with rumours of the lockout becoming more and more certain with every passing NHLPA conversation.

What did Kaner say to you?

Sidney doesn’t reply for a while, and Jonny contemplates slipping under the covers and falling back to sleep. He’s dozing when his phone vibrates in his hand.

not getting involved in marital stuff. looking out for you. book an appointment, jon.

Sidney Crosby is talking to Jonny about marital stuff. Or, not talking, but still. Jonny has to take a moment to look at the line of Patrick’s shoulder above the duvet, wonder when his life took such a weird turn that this is where’s he’s lying, married to Patrick, and Sidney Crosby giving him concussion advice via text.

He’s jolted from his musing by another text from Sidney.

fix your head. fix hockey. ignore anything else.

Jonny does know Crosby was asked about their relationship by the press, and that he was brief and to the point, which is to be expected. He doesn’t really care what other players think about his relationship with Patrick but Sidney’s different. Not that Jonny would care if he had a problem with it, but there’s a certain amount of respect between them, and Jonny wants to keep it intact.

Thanks., Jonny shoots back, and then turns his phone off. He throws an arm over Patrick, and isn’t surprised when Patrick shifts back in sleep, slotting against Jonny’s body as perfectly as he ever has.

When he wakes again, this time to Patrick’s breath ruffling the hair on his neck, he stares up at the ceiling. He’s not sure what the hell he’s feeling right now. He’s always just had hockey and the fact that a lockout is pretty much a certainty at this point is something he’s never expected to have to deal with. He’s used to training camp in August, games starting up in late October and just being with the guys, at home in Chicago and on the road. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do if they can’t play.

He’s going to have to think of something; he’s the captain and he needs to have some sort of plan in place in case the guys come to him. He’s aware that the last time the NHL had a lockout, guys went overseas to play. He’s not sure he can deal with the change of style Europe or the KHL would present, not sure he wants to play in any uniform that isn’t a Blackhawks uniform.

“Thinking too loud,” Patrick whines, shoving away from Jonny and rolling onto his back.

Jonny doesn’t say anything. Whatever happens, he knows that he and Patrick will do it together. “The lockout looks pretty certain at this point.”

Patrick lets out a slow breath, taps his chest with his fingers. “What do you wanna do?”

“We might be able to come to an agreement before games start up again.”

Turning his head, Patrick blinks. “But you don’t think so?”

Jonny doesn’t know what he thinks. “We’ll lose something.”

Fuck,” Patrick mutters. “You ever- think about what you’d do without hockey?”

“It’s a season,” Jonny says abruptly. “At best. Don’t say—”

Patrick doesn’t look apologetic. “I’ve thought about it.” He turns onto his back, stops looking at Jonny. “Don’t much like the options.”

Stop thinking about it, then,” Jonny says. “We’ll figure something out.”

“Together, right?” Patrick says, grin crooked.

Jonny nods. “Yeah.”

A beat. “Are we Europe bound?”

“It might not even happen yet, Kaner,” Jonny says, but the words sound hollow even to himself. He doesn’t want to go to Europe, doesn’t want to play anything but NHL hockey, but he’s also not dumb enough to discount it. As long as he’s on the ice, a stick in his hands and a puck to shoot, does it matter where he plays?

Patrick reaches across to rest his hand on Jonny’s hip. “You’re just going to have to end the lockout before it begins.”

Jonny snorts. “Your faith in me is—”

“Encouraged?” Patrick grins. “Appreciated? Loved?”

“Yeah, encouraged,” Jonny says. “Definitely encouraged.”

Jonny savors the moment after, the both of them laughing, and the lockout seems less daunting and destructive than it did just a few hours ago.

Chapter Text

The first time Brisson calls them about potentially playing overseas, Jonny’s adamant that he doesn’t want to take any offers. He’s still confident that they can work this out with the NHL before anything really happens with regards to the season. He tries to bring it up with Patrick, before Brisson contacts them, but he gets little to nothing in return. It’s frustrating; Jonny knows Patrick loves and cares about hockey, but he seems pretty impassive about the lockout and Jonny doesn’t know why.

“What’s the point?” Patrick says, when Jonny asks. “Nothing I do is gonna change the outcome.”

Jonny frowns. “That’s not true.”

Patrick leans back on the couch, tucking a foot underneath his thigh. “You? Sidney Crosby? Guys listen to the captains, Jonny, not the problem children.”

“You’re not—” Jonny starts, then cuts himself off at Patrick’s look. “Being the problem child doesn’t stop you speaking up.”

“About what?” Patrick gestures widely with a hand. “That it’s shitty for the fans? That owners get to like, lock down a season and we pay for it? They know this shit already, Jonny. Besides, I’d end up saying something that would potentially get me traded. Again.”

“You have a no-trade clause now, you idiot,” Jonny says, with more affection than he means to. Patrick gives him a dumb, pleased smile. It’s not an argument, but it’s definitely something they’ve spoken about more than once. Jonny knows Patrick can take on more responsibility, has shown it in his work with the rookies, but Patrick’s never outwardly wanted anything. “Move over.”

Patrick glares at him. “I know you got junk in your trunk, Jonny, but there’s plenty of room to park it where I’m not sitting.”

Jonny keeps standing over him, and eventually Patrick shakes his head, shifting over a little so that Jonny can squeeze between him and the arm of the couch. “Maybe I just wanna get close to you.”

Patrick snorts, giving Jonny one of his lop-sided smiles. “Yeah right, asshole.”

To prove him wrong, Jonny throws an arm over Patrick’s shoulders and slouches further in his seat, feeling what little tension there is in his body leave. “What do you want me to tell Brisson?”

Patrick shrugs, resting his hand on Jonny’s right thigh. “We’re not abandoning Chicago. Ever.”

Jonny words it a little differently when he replies to Brisson’s email but he hopes that gets the message through.

A couple of days later, the lockout becomes official. Jonny gets a phonecall and several text messages, all of which he ignores in order to work out his frustration for longer than he probably should.

He knows can already feel a headache building at the base of his skull, and he’s definitely going to regret having to step off the treadmill in a second. When he looks up to see Patrick leaning against the cross-trainer, he doesn’t bother looking sorry. He’s grateful for the water bottle and painkillers that Patrick hands to him when he finally steps down, though.

“Thanks,” he mutters, washing down the pills with the entire bottle of water.

Patrick still has his arms crossed. “You know how long you’ve been down here?”

“Don’t,” Jonny warns. He tosses the water bottle in the trashcan in the corner.

“Jonny.” It’s the tone of voice that has Jonny actually looking him in the eye. “I’m as pissed off about this as you are. Working out down here for hours on end and jeopardizing a health that’s already pretty fucking sketchy isn’t helping.”

Jonny shoulders his way past Patrick. He doesn’t want to talk about this at all, but Patrick doesn’t look like he’s running out of steam anytime soon, and he’d rather do this in their apartment.

“Are you—”

“Yes I’m listening,” Jonny says. The elevator comes quickly, thankfully, and he tugs Patrick inside. “Stop shouting in the hallway, for fuck’s sake.”

Patrick’s still glaring as he enters, standing as far away from Jonny as it’s possible to be. “Are you determined to fuck yourself up?”

Jonny stares angrily at the ground. “Stop being a dramatic asshole about it, Kaner.”

The use of Kaner is probably not a good move. Patrick’s eyes narrow. “Dramatic asshole?! Fuck you, Jonny! The lockout happens, and it fucking sucks, I get it.”

“Do you?” Jonny says, not letting Patrick have a breath to keep ranting with. “You don’t seem to care too much about it.”

Patrick uncrosses his arms, steps into Jonny’s space. “What am I supposed to do? Workout until I fuck up my wrist again? Sulk because we’re not able to play hockey?”

Jonny doesn’t bother answering that. He hates when Patrick gets like this, doesn’t understand that Jonny needs hockey because he doesn’t have anything else. He’s a name that matters in a rink alone and it fucking sucks to have that taken away from him.

“-nny!” Patrick grabs his arms, shakes him a little. “Talk to me.”

Jonny looks him in the eye, doesn’t know how. “I—”

The silence stretches, broken only by the ping of the elevator and the opening of the doors. Patrick looks unhappy, eyes dark and mouth slack. He shakes his head, drops his arms and walks out of the elevator.

Jonny follows eventually, wondering why the hell it’s impossible these days to have a discussion with Patrick that doesn’t dissolve more often than not into an argument.

He shuts the door with his foot, watches the back of Patrick’s head retreat into the bedroom and doesn’t bother following. This isn’t something he wants to deal with; he’s fucked off with the owners, with the loss of hockey, and with Patrick’s moods, which are giving Jonny fucking whiplash.

When Patrick comes out of the bedroom, he shoves on one of his Twilight movies without acknowledging Jonny at all. It’s this that makes Jonny think about bitching to his mom (never), Donna (ha, never) or Sharpy. Sharpy is the lesser of the three evils, and frankly Jonny isn’t even sure he really wants to go there, but he doesn’t actually have to say anything of substance. He settles on spoken to Kaner lately? and is surprised when Sharpy replies almost immediately.

Trouble in paradise?

Jonny really, really hates Sharpy. have you?

“Who are you texting?” Patrick asks, eyes on his dumb Twilight movies.

“Your mom,” Jonny says, watching the way Patrick’s lips curve into a smirk before looking back down at his phone. As if on cue, it buzzes.

Communication is key in relationships Toe-ez. Try asking what’s wrong w/him.

so there is something wrong. Jonny frowns, shuts off his phone, and slides it into the front pocket of his jeans. “You wanna tell me what’s up?”

Patrick frowns, rolls his head where it’s resting against the back of the couch so that he can look at Jonny. “What?”

“Why you’ve been running hot and cold for days. Something’s not right with you.”

“Because something has to be wrong.”

He doesn’t say anything, content that Patrick will answer him if he gets frustrated enough by the silence. Predictably, Patrick shuts off the TV and turns to face Jonny. Instead of looking angry, his frown is more concentration. He’s gearing up for something and Jonny doesn’t like the implications of that.

“I called Brisson about Europe.”

Jonny stares hard at Patrick, trying to figure out just how he feels about that. When he speaks, his tone is cold. “And?”

Patrick doesn’t look sorry but he does wince a little, rubbing at his knee. Nervous. As he fucking should be. “I asked him to see if anyone would be willing to take me. He said a team in Switzerland were willing to make me an offer.”

Jonny closes his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. He has to take a couple of deep breaths before he can say anything. “You’ve only just gone on record saying we’d go together or not at all.”

“No,” Patrick says, voice tight. “I said I’d like to play with you if I played with anyone. Fuck, Jonny, you think I want this?”

“Yeah.” Jonny looks up, voice angry and cold because fuck this, fuck Patrick. “I think you do. You called him, Patrick. What else am I supposed to think?”

Patrick’s face shifts to outrage in a split second. “About me, you asshole! I want to play hockey. It’s all I have!”

Jonny stands, looming over Patrick. He’s pissed off, feels the anger vibrate through him. “You don’t think it’s all I have?” He needs to stop thinking about it like that. This isn’t about hockey or not playing or anything except Patrick saying they weren’t going to play, that they were in this together, and now Patrick’s going. “We were staying here, for Chicago. And, what, now you’ve changed your mind?”

“Jonny—” Patrick’s looking confused. “What are you—”

“You went behind my back and spoke to Brisson about playing. The fact that you weren’t willing to tell me about it makes you a fucking dick, Kaner, and tells me you knew it was the wrong thing to do.” Patrick starts to look a little guilty, a little sick, too, but Jonny doesn’t care. Patrick broke his trust with this, had to have a reason not to tell Jonny, and that doesn’t make sense. Jonny gets hockey—gets Patrick and hockey—but he doesn’t get this, doesn’t understand. Fuck, he hates not understanding. He looks at Patrick sitting on the couch like he knows what he did was wrong, but not why. “You should go.”

“What?”

“To Switzerland. You should go.” Jonny makes sure to look Patrick in the eye as he says it, wants Patrick to know he’s serious about this.

“Are you sending me away?” Patrick says, incredulous. Jonny just stares at him, and he doesn’t know what Patrick sees on his face but he’s immediately taking a step forward. “I didn’t mean it like that. I didn’t think the lockout would last this long and I told you, I want hockey. You can’t—”

“Can’t what?”

Patrick shakes his head. “For fuck’s sake, Jonny, you can’t play! You were going to fix your fucking concussion!”

Jonny doesn’t know what to say that. Fuck. He’s so fucking done with this concussion. He knows he was stupid about it, about taking care of himself, but he’d let shit get to him, believed the stories people told him about it being career-ending. He’d hid it, paid for that. Dealt with it, felt good and then ignored the lingering effects. “You don’t know what it’s like.”

Patrick tilts his chin. “I don’t? You don’t think that when I broke the bone in my wrist I wasn’t like ‘this is it’? My hands are everything I have, Jonny. I’ve thought about it—I knew. I want you to fix this so I don’t have to play without you.”

“Patrick—”

“You think I broke your trust?! You promised me you’d taken care of this before the playoffs. You said you were fine, that you were a hundred percent. This isn’t a hundred percent. This isn’t even—fuck, Jonny.”

They’re at an impasse and they both know it, frustration in every breath, every movement, every word. Jonny doesn’t know what he hates more; the concussion, Patrick’s betrayal, or the fact that he betrayed Patrick.

Patrick deflates suddenly. “Do you want me to decline?”

“No,” Jonny says, shaking his head. “That’s not what I—fuck, Patrick, I just want you to—”

“What?” Patrick’s voice is a lot calmer than it was before. “What do you want?”

Jonny shrugs, runs his hand over his eyes. This whole situation is fucked and he hates, despises, Gary Bettman for a fierce, long moment. “For you to be happy.”

Patrick expels a slow breath. The silence drags for a beat, and then Patrick leans in, rests his chin on Jonny’s shoulder blade. “You know if I—I’d be here, right? But it’s hockey, Jonny.”

“Yeah. I wish—” Jonny closes his eyes, curses the lockout and not for the first time. “Fuck. You should go.”

The hair on the back of Jonny’s neck ruffles as Patrick breathes, his hand coming up to rest against Jonny’s back. “You gotta stay. Get your damn head fixed.”

Jonny snorts. “Yeah. Sure.” \

“And I want you to—you bring me home quick, yeah?”

Jonny nods again, not saying anything else.

They don’t move for a long while.

---

Patrick should have expected the media furore over his decision to play in Biel. He’s not really thinking about anything but hockey—and by extension, Jonny’s reaction to him wanting to play hockey—when he makes the decision. EHC Biel’s offer is generous, and Patrick likes the sound of their style of hockey, knows that Tyler Seguin is already out there. He wants Jonny to realize that he doesn’t have to carry the weight of the entire team and fanbase on his shoulders, but that’s like asking the sun not to rise in the morning. Even now, Jonny’s holding impromptu practices for the Blackhawks—and some former teammates as well—and taking it on his shoulders to keep them focused. Patrick’s resigned himself to a solo Euro trip.

Patrick and Jonny are in downtown Chicago, shopping for shirts. Patrick’s determined to get Jonny doing something monotonous so he doesn’t work himself to death, and appealing to Jonny’s sense of wanting to destroy every polo shirt Patrick owns is working out great.

Jonny’s scowling his way through All Saints, judging the clothes for having the audacity for being the wrong colour or size or whatever else he’s complaining about.

“Cheer up, Jonny,” Patrick says, brightly. “We bought you some shirts!”

Jonny glares down at the bag. “I don’t see why. This is supposed to be so that you don’t wear hideous shit, not me.”

“I always look fucking great.” Patrick slings his arm up around Jonny’s shoulders. “Don’t tell me you wouldn’t hit this.”

It’s probably a mistake to talk about that with the way things are, but thankfully Jonny only snorts. He opens his mouth to reply, but is interrupted by the flash of a camera. They look up to see a young girl in a Hawks jersey with her camera out, her friend next to her looking a little shocked. Jonny immediately stiffens up so Patrick squeezes his shoulder.

“Chill,” he says, voice low. Louder, to the girl, he says, “Hey.”

She flushes, slipping her phone into her bag. “Uh hi.”

Patrick drops his arm, but slips it in the back pocket of Jonny’s jeans, content to act like any other couple would. To Patrick’s surprise, Jonny sinks into it, smiling stiffly, but nodding at the girl.

“Sorry. I know you’re just—”

“It’s fine,” Patrick says. “You want an autograph or something?”

“Oh god, can I?”

Patrick kind of loves meeting fans, and immediately tugs on Jonny’s jeans, propelling them both forward. The girls digs in her bag and pulls out a piece of paper and a pen.

“Hey,” Patrick says, gesturing at her jersey. “How about we sign that instead?”

Her mouth drops open, like she can’t quite believe what’s happening, but nods jerkily. Patrick exchanges a quick grin with Jonny and then turns the girl a little so that he can get at her back. “Who am I making it out to?”

“Laura.” The girl holds her hair out of the way as Patrick signs. “Ohmygosh, I can’t believe this is happening.”

Her friend is still looking a little shocked but she recovers enough to ask, “Is it true you’re going to Biel?”

Patrick’s startled enough that he almost screws up the ‘88’ part of his signature. “Uh, yeah.”

Jonny looks torn between scowling and keeping the smile on his face as Patrick hands over the pen.

“I think it’s great, that you still wanna play hockey.”

Patrick nods, doesn’t want to talk about this, but she’s still a fan. “Obviously it would be better in Chicago, right?”

The girl grins. “Right.”

Laura turns when they’re done, takes back the pen. “Are you sad?”

Her question is directed at Jonny, who looks a little like he doesn’t know how to answer. Patrick’s kind of intrigued to know, too, so he raises his eyebrows.

“Of course.” Jonny shrugs, leans over to tug Patrick in next to him. It feels weird to be doing this in front of anyone, right now, let alone fans, but Patrick goes with it. Can’t not when this matters—when it has to look genuine. “But I have to stay here.”

The girls look set to talk for longer, or at least ask Jonny what he means by that, but Patrick just wants to get out of the shop, pretend that the real world isn’t happening and Jonny isn’t like, pretending this shit for the good of their image or whatever.

“It was a pleasure,” he says, trying not to sound like too much of an asshole. “Have a good day, girls.”

He’s glad when they get far enough away that Jonny can let go of him, or at least put a little distance between their bodies, but he doesn’t, just keeps Patrick tucked up against him as they buy shirts and mundane shit. Patrick hates how much he likes it, hates how much about them is out there for the public to see. Just generally hates everything but the feel of Jonny’s body against his, the easy smile on Jonny’s face the entire fucking day.

Things get worse from there.

The media seem intent on speculating about trouble in paradise, some sites trotting out the regular ‘Patrick Kane sucks’ line and trying to paint him out to be some kind of asshole who’d do that to Jonny.

Jonny tries to stop him, tells him to, “Cut this shit out, Kaner, I mean it,” when he sees Patrick on Deadspin but he can’t. No matter what the fuck he does, it’s always the wrong thing. He just wants to play hockey.

“Look,” Jonny says, actually kneeling in front of Patrick like he’s some kind of wayward child or whatever. “You think I give two shits what they’re saying about you?”

“No.” Patrick closes the laptop. “But it’s not like you can make a public statement every time someone says something shitty. So I have to deal with it.”

Jonny sighs, frustrated, and Patrick wants to punch him.

“This isn’t something you have to fix,” he hisses. “This isn’t any different from the shit we got about being out, Jonny. We’re married and people aren’t going to forget that just because there’s a lockout.”

“I know that.” Jonny stands up, hovers over Patrick looking disapproving. “I just wish you’d stop ignoring what I—what your family—has to say. Choosing to focus on that is stupid.”

What’s stupid is their constant need to fight about shit like this. Patrick tips back against the couch, sinks into the cushions and closes his eyes. “I just want hockey.”

His voice sounds small and whiny, but Jonny’s resting his hands on Patrick’s shoulders, curling his thumb against the line of Patrick’s throat. “I know, buddy.”

When Patrick opens his eyes again, Jonny hasn’t moved, is still looking at him with dark eyes. “Sorry I’m so high maintenance?”

Jonny snorts, lets go of Patrick so that he can sit next to him. Patrick doesn’t even care how easily they fit together, how easy it is to give into the want that’s always sitting heavy in his chest. “I haven’t given up on you yet, Kaner.”

“Yeah, you better not, asshole.”

Jonny doesn’t say anything, but Patrick’s content with the way Jonny presses his face into Patrick’s hair, that he’s replying anyway.

---

Patrick’s given a reprieve from the media attention by Burs calling them up and asking them to participate in his charity hockey game.

Watching Jonny’s face light up in the subtle ways Patrick’s learned to look for is pretty much the highlight of the phone call. The only hockey he’s been playing have been the training sessions he’s still holding on occasion, so the chance to play at the Allstate Arena against a team not comprised of Hawks—former or current—is great.

“Of course we’re in,” Patrick says, directing his attention to the phone on the coffee table. “As if we’d say no, dude.”

“Gotta get the captain’s approval, man,” Burs says with a laugh.

Jonny rolls his eyes. “Assholes.”

“Hey now.” Burs still sounds amused. “Play nice, Toews. This is for charity.”

“Doesn’t stop you being an asshole.” Jonny’s stupid proud of his retort even though it’s completely lame, and he looks pleased and Patrick’s pretty sure this is terrible.

“Right, right. Well, get your assess to Rosemont in two weeks and let’s play some hockey.”

“Sharpy’s on board, right?” Patrick asks, knowing it’s probably a yes.

Burs laughs loud this time, delighted. “He was the first person I called.”

Jonny mock-frowns. “Not me?”

“Well, it would have been Kaner next, but now that you’re all married and shit, I killed two birds with one stone.” Burs sounds smug and amused all at once and Kaner grins at the scandalised look on Jonny’s face.

“Like I said,” Jonny says, even. “Asshole.”

Patrick snorts, leans over and picks up his phone. “Thanks Burs. I’m the one that has to deal with the bitchfits.”

“Married life,” Burs sighs. “Fine, fine. I’ll see you in two weeks. Later, Captain Serious!”

Jonny shouts, “Fuck you!”, as he walks out of the living room, towards the kitchen.

Patrick’s grinning as he says goodbye to Burs and puts the phone on the arm of the couch. “Hockey,” he crows, loud enough for Jonny to hear. “This is going to be so fucking awesome!”

He can practically see Jonny’s eyeroll even through the walls. “You’re going to Switzerland right after, moron. Pretty sure you’re going to have ‘hockey!’ consistently for the next few weeks.”

Patrick raises his eyebrows as Jonny comes in the door. “Days, Jonny. Days. I’m counting on you not leaving me in the European wilderness for too long.”

“No promises,” Jonny shrugs, flipping on the TV. It’s basketball, fuck yes, and Patrick’s content to engross himself in a night of Jonny, beer and sports. Jonny’s watching him closely when he says, “I’ll do it.”

“Yeah,” Patrick says seriously. “I know.”

---

Jonny still holds his informal practices right up until the charity game. Patrick attends some of them, takes Jonny directing them on the ice as well as he usually does, which is to say with no small amount of heckling and chirping. Jonny alternates between being strung-out and wearing a dumb, pleased grin on his face. Patrick likes the latter and is trying not to let the former get to him, mostly because he notices the notes Jonny leaves pointedly around the apartment, numbers and details of anyone and everyone who’s good with concussions. It’s a little overkill considering Patrick knows that Jonny’s ultimately going to go to Georgia. He contacted Crosby himself, put up with the skepticism (iI can do it!) and the doubt until Sidney realised that yes, this is a legitimate call and no, Patrick wasn’t going to troll him or anything. Jesus, he’s not Sharpy.

He wasn’t pleased with the knowing tone Sidney laid on him or the, “It’s okay to care,” afterwards. It makes him uncomfortable to hear from other hockey players, because he’s not used to it. He likes the chirping and the shit. The well wishes and stuff... well that’s just awkward.

The practices that he doesn’t attend, he spends trying to get himself sorted for Switzerland. He knows exactly when he’s leaving, but he and Brisson are doing their best to keep it under wraps. Jonny knows, and that conversation had been fun. Patrick knows Jonny is still angry and frustrated about Patrick going but he doesn’t know what else to do. Jonny needs to get his head fixed, and Patrick had tried to convince him that he could come out to Europe then, with Patrick. Jonny’s still on-committal. They both know he won’t; that his sense of duty to Chicago, to their fans, will keep him in America.

Patrick feels the same way, wants to give hockey back to their fans, but he knows he can’t be like Jonny; can’t stop playing hockey because if he stops, if he lets himself sit out—he doesn’t have the same raw talent as Jonny, doesn’t have the height and the size. He needs to work for what he’s got and if skating in Switzerland will help him, well, he’s going to go.

The press-conference they hold mid-October is the first time Patrick’s seen some of the old ‘10 Hawks off-ice in a while. They slip back into chirping and shit-talking as easily as if they were all still in the locker room at the United Center. Burish pulls Patrick aside just before the start and tells him it’s about fucking time.

Patrick’s surprised but covers it with a smug grin. “What can I say? Had to tie him down sooner or later.”

Burs’ face doesn’t shift, but Patrick recognises his look as contemplative, the way he used to look at he and Jonny sometimes. “Yeah, guess so.”

“Come on, dude. We should get back out there.”

“Patrick,” Burs says, and Patrick freezes because he’s never been Patrick. “Are you happy?”

Patrick snorts, makes to throw Burs off with a smart remark, but something about the look on his face holds his tongue. After a hesitation, he gives Burs what he hopes isn’t too sappy a grin. “Yeah. Yeah I am.”

“Good,” Burs says, grinning and slapping Patrick on the back. “Let’s do this, Peeks.”

He’s used to the reaction; Soupy and Brouwer both gave him the third degree, and were pretty amused by the marriage. Patrick’s getting so used to the marriage being seen as expected by former Hawks, that he wonders just what it’ll be like if someone disagrees with it.

Ladd is the closest, looking a little surprised and thoughtful. He’s not outright disgusted or anything, but it takes him almost the entire two week break to actually speak to Patrick about it. Patrick doesn’t like to wonder when he became the one they decided to approach but he can sympathise; he’s discovering more about Jonny than he ever thought he would know but it’s a slow, laborious process and he wouldn’t want to expose anyone to that. Because it’s his.

“It’s true you guys were together the entire time?” Andrew asks, face impassive.

Patrick doesn’t want to feel wary; this is Laddy and they won a fucking cup together, but it still puts him on edge. “Sort of.”

“Sort of?!” Laddy snorts. “Are you not more confident?”

“Yes,” Patrick frowns, adamant. “It’s been on and off, you know the press. You’ve seen me do stupid shit yourself.”

There’s no denying that.

 

“You have a problem with it?” Patrick wants him to say no. He’d really hate to have to get pissed off here.

“I don’t know.” Laddy says, honest. “It’s just—god, I’m not a homophobe, Kaner,” he says, at the look on Patrick’s face. “I played with you for years and didn’t have a fucking clue, you know?”

 

Patrick gets it, he does. “I know it’s not—god, man, you know this isn’t the easiest shit, yeah? There’s a reason we didn’t talk about it.”

Ladd at least gives him a wry, small, smile at that. “Guess it is a little overwhelming, huh?”

Patrick doesn’t know what else to say, wishes Jonny were here with a fierceness. He’d know how to handle this, would like, browbeat Ladd into accepting it or something. On second thoughts, maybe there’s a reason Andrew sought out Patrick. “I’m not going to convince you to like, accept us, you know that, right?”

“Yeah,” Ladd says. “That’s not—I just wanted to hear it from you, you know. It’s one thing to hear it in the press, and everyone knows how Jonny lost it.”

“Look,” Patrick says. “It’s okay to hate it, it’s okay to be uncomfortable but we’re not—we’re still Kaner and Tazer.”

Ladd shakes his head. “That wasn’t anything I doubted. I just—I don’t know what the hell I wanted.”

Patrick doesn’t want to talk about this any more, but doesn’t want Ladd to feel like he’s uncomfortable with it. “I don’t know what me to say here, man.”

For an uncomfortably long time, Laddy just stares at him. Eventually, something in him seems to relax and he gives Patrick a half-smile. “It’s just something to get used to, you know?”

“Tell me about it,” Patrick agrees. “Being married to Jonny isn’t a piece of cake.”

“Yeah,” Laddy snorts. “Can’t imagine it, myself. It’s not the gay thing I have a problem with, you know that, right?”

Patrick nods, doesn’t trust himself to speak.

“I just—I shared a locker room with you guys for three years and I just never—it’s a shock, is all. Not necessarily a bad one. Just one that’s going to—“

“-Take a while, I get it man.” Kaner reaches out, throws his arm around Ladd’s shoulders and is almost pathetically grateful that Ladd doesn’t flinch. Not that he thought he ever would, but they’re talking about being uncomfortable about his marriage, for fuck’s sake. “Just do me a favor and don’t tell Jonny about this.”

“As if.” Laddy elbows Kaner in the side. “I saw how he treated press that cut you down, dude. A former teammate would end up at the bottom of Lake Toews.”

The conversation with Ladd takes a backseat to the press conference where Patrick gets caught up in shooting the shit with the guys. As soon as it’s done, as soon as they’re making plans to meet up with the guys at Rockit for a meal and a couple of drinks, Patrick can’t help but think about it.

He makes the mistake of mentioning it to Jonny. “You ever wonder what’ll happen with the guys who are like, uncomfortable or whatever?”

Jonny gives him a sharp look from the driver’s seat—and it forever amuses Patrick to see Jonny driving his Hummer. “Did someone say something?”

“No,” Patrick says, a little too quickly to be believable but he can’t help that right now. “We’re not always going to have the same team, you know? Fucked if I wanna go through wondering what their reactions will be every time.”

“Kaner.” Jonny stops at lights, throwing Patrick a searching look. “It’s not going to happen every time. It’s not as though every hockey player in the world has their head in the sand. They’re gonna know.”

“Yeah, and what if Chicago can’t trade for anyone because they hate us?”

“Stop being so dramatic.” Jonny rolls his eyes and shifts the car into first, then second. “Chicago hasn’t lost their ability to trade for players because we’re married. Keep your pants on.”

“They are on, asshole.” Patrick flips him off as well, just for good measure. “I just—“

“I get it,” Jonny presses, tone hard. “Don’t worry about it.”

Right. “Good advice, Jonny, thanks.”

“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit,” Jonny intones, turning into the apartment parking lot.

“So a step above you, then.” Patrick gives him a toothy grin.

“Seriously,” Jonny says, after he’s mumbled something that sounds suspiciously like little shit. “They’ll play if they want hockey. And if it fucks up team morale, that’s on them, not us.”

Patrick shrugs, doesn’t unbuckle his seatbelt, even when Jonny parks and shuts off the engine. “The team is hockey, dude. If we don’t get on—“

Jonny turns in his seat, faces Patrick as best he can. “You can’t have that much control over a situation.”

Patrick grins at how much that must have hurt Jonny to say. “This from you?!”

“Fuck you.” Jonny pinches his thigh. “It’s stupid to focus on it now. Let’s get through this game, the lockout and we’ll see what happens from there, yeah?”

After a beat, Patrick nods. “Yeah.”

---

The game comes a lot quicker than Patrick’s prepared for.

His bags for Switzerland are packed and by the door, one of them filled only with Kraft Mac & Cheese because he has his priorities, okay, and Jonny can shut his stupid dumb face.

Jonny’s been pretty silent, when he’s not chirping Patrick about the game like they’re not going to be on the same team, the asshole. They’re going to be playing on the same line again, which, thank fuck. Patrick’s missed it, not that he would ever say so out loud to Jonny. Ever.

“Quit moping,” Patrick says, draping himself over Jonny’s back as he stands at the stove. “You know I’ll be home as soon as possible.”

“I’m not moping.”

Patrick smirks into the curve of Jonny’s shoulder. “Right, because glaring the eggs into submission is totally how to cook, Jonny.”

“Fuck you.” Jonny’s lip is curving into an all-too familiar smile, though.

Patrick steps back as Jonny lifts the pan off the burner, dividing the eggs up into two. “When’s your appointment?”

“Next week,” Jonny says, almost immediately. “Staying in Atlanta for the week.”

Patrick feels satisfied, really glad that Jonny isn’t going to be a dick about this anymore and will actually get back to normal. “You’ll thank me when you can train without wanting to throw up.”

Jonny gives him a look and sits at the counter. “Eat your food. We have a game to prepare for.”

“It’s for charity,” Patrick reminds him. “You don’t have to go at this like it’s game seven, Jonny.”

The thing is, Jonny doesn’t.

Patrick agrees with what people say afterwards, that Jonny looked ridiculously happy to be playing, to be on the ice with former and current Blackhawks, connecting with the fans and skating like he’s on fucking cloud nine.

It’s all a bit much for Patrick, who doesn’t quite know how to handle the way Jonny’s overly tactile. Not that he isn’t anyway, since they married they’ve been more affectionate than ever, but this is different. He tugs on Patrick’s jersey a lot, keeps grinning at him on the bench like an idiot and even takes Patrick’s idea to bowl them over as a celly seriously. He makes a comment to Sharpy, asking whether Jonny’s been replaced by a pod person, and gets a delighted look in return.

“Maybe it’s marriage to you.”

Patrick rolls his eyes and punches Sharpy in the arm. It makes him think, though, that makes him think that maybe it’s Jonny trying to be overly happy on Patrick’s last day.

Shit. He refuses to feel melancholy about it. He’s Patrick fucking Kane and he has a husband who’s pretty much the fucking greatest, idiotic person on the planet who Patrick’s only just starting to realise he’s going to miss like crazy.

In the locker room afterwards, everyone’s smiling, chirping each other still, even with the media guys in the room. It’s like nothing’s changed, like they’re still Blackhawks and still aiming for that Stanley Cup. Patrick hates nostalgia, is always striving for the next big thing but he remembers what it was like to win with them; he wants to join them for the meal, but his mom is coming at ass o’clock to pick him up and he’s kind of looking forward to spending his last night with Jonny.

He gives his usual sound bites, except he drops something about Switzerland being his home now, and regrets it immediately. It’s difficult to remember sometimes that he can’t give the same answers as old, has to remember the ring on his fingers, the guy the next stall over who’s with him at every moment. “I mean, mom’s gonna be with me, so it won’t be completely terrible, you know?”

He watches the expressions on the reporters shift and realizes what he said a beat later. Oh, fuck. “Of course I wish it was Jonny, but someone’s gotta be responsible and handle this, right?” He smiles in what he hopes is a winning way, but knows the damage is already done.

Jonny slips in next to him, throws an arm around Patrick’s shoulders. He’s not smiling, not really, but Patrick knows Jonny’s not mad. “Switzerland doesn’t even know what it’s in for.”

Patrick snorts, dreads to think what he looks like, smiling up at Jonny like he is.

He doesn’t know what answers they give together, just knows he has to look pretty dumb, that he can feel the heat from Jonny’s body everywhere he’s pressing against Patrick. Thinks about this being their last night and then he’ll be in Switzerland.

He wants it, has been living in Jonny’s back pocket for long enough that they’ll actually kill each other if they have to do it for too much longer, but he knows he’ll miss Jonny. God, he needs to stop getting in so deep. It’s really going to fucking hurt when Jonny decides they’re safe enough and he wants to move on to someone else.

“Hey,” Jonny says, when the reporters have dispersed and they’re alone. “You ready to go?”

Patrick nods slowly but doesn’t move just yet, doesn’t let Jonny move away. He turns his head, presses his forehead into Jonny’s hip and after a moment, feels Jonny’s fingers thread into his hair.

“Bring me home quick.”

“I already told you I would,” Jonny says, quiet and just for Patrick.

“You wanna grab a drink with the guys?” Jonny asks on the way home. They’re still close enough to town that it would be easy enough detour to make, but Patrick shakes his head.

“Nah. Beer at home, right?”

Jonny nods, eyes crinkling in the corners as he smiles. “Right.”

Patrick knows the next few days are going to be a bit insane; flying to Switzerland, getting settled in, meeting the team and seeing the rink. He just wants something not that for tonight.

They’re both tired after the game, crashing as the excitement wears off and it’s all Patrick can do to shower, change into some sweatpants and a t-shirt and collapse face down on the couch. He closes his eyes, wants to just sleep here for eternity. He’s dozing when he feels the couch dip on either side and Jonny settles half on top of him, sliding between Patrick and the back of the couch. Patrick turns his face into Jonny’s chest, feels Jonny’s hand rest on his hip, the other stroking the back of his head. “Mmmwake me up when mom gets here?”

He feels a feather light touch against his forehead and then Jonny, sounding just as sleepy as Patrick feels, says, “Yeah, Pat.”

Patrick’s not sure whether he’s glad he gave his mom a key, or whether he regrets it. He wakes to the feel of someone saying his name, of his really comfy pillow shifting. He doesn’t want to wake up; he’s warm and still sleepy, but there’s a hand in his hair, tugging him up from his really nice dream.

“Patrick?”

Shit. That’s his mom. Patrick opens one eye, peers over the expanse of Jonny’s body to see his mom standing in the doorway, looking way more amused—and endeared, god—than she has any right to.

“Mom.”

“If we’re going to catch that plane, you need to get up,” she says, not unkindly.

Patrick looks back down at Jonny. He’s blinking sleep from his eyes, lifting his hands above his head to stretch. When he looks back at Patrick, he looks so fucking—god, why is Patrick even going to Switzerland. He wants to kiss Jonny, wants to run his hands down Jonny’s well-toned chest and—he needs to stop thinking about this when he’s still lying half on top of Jonny.

He shakes his head a little, grins down at Jonny. “Morning sunshine.”

“Screw you,” Jonny mumbles, still looking like he’d rather be asleep. Patrick understands how that feels. “Flight?”

“Yeah,” Patrick says, sadly. “You wanna come?”

He doesn’t want Jonny to say yes; doesn’t think he’ll be able to leave if Jonny’s standing there, watching him. It’ll be like the worst romance movie.

“No,” Jonny says, but he presses his hand to Patrick’s neck. Maybe he’s conscious of Patrick’s mom in the room, maybe he just doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s looking at Patrick all soft and weird. “You’d only cry.”

“Fuck off, would I,” Patrick says. He absolutely does not turn his face into Jonny’s hand. “I’d walk away with no problem.”

He’s lying and they both know it. When he does leave, half an hour later, freshly showered and dressed for a too-long plane ride, Patrick’s hovering in the doorway, knows his mom is getting frustrated with his dawdling but this is fucking weird, okay? He’s leaving Chicago and it’s not even as though it’s for Buffalo. He’ll have his mom but not his dad, his sisters. Not Jonny.

Jonny’s leaning against the kitchen wall, still dressed in his sweatpants and UND shirt, smiling lazily, his hair stuck up in all directions. “You leaving anytime soon?”

Patrick rolls his eyes, presses up into Jonny’s space. There’s an awkward moment where neither of them are sure quite what to do, but then Jonny pulls him in, hugs him tight. Patrick sinks into it, hates that he wants it so much, resting his face into Jonny’s neck. “I’m gonna miss you, asshole.”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, and thankfully his voice sounds as wrecked as Patrick’s. “I’ll see you soon.”

Patrick doesn’t want to lie, doesn’t want Jonny to have to lie, so he pulls away. Giving Jonny a wide smile, he grabs his hat from the counter and tugs it on. “Call me.”

Jonny snorts, but he looks kind of sad and fuck, Patrick has to leave before he does something dumb like stay.

---

Patrick’s glad his mom doesn’t insist he talk to her during the flight or anything. He texts Jonny just before they take off, telling him that if he doesn’t go to Atlanta, he’ll tell his mother.

He gets, fuck you back for his trouble. Then, a second later, i’ll be there. safe trip. tell me when you land, asshole.

Patrick grins, slips his phone into his hoodie pocket and ignores the amused look on his mom’s face. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Thinking about. Whatever, she doesn’t know. The flight itself is pretty terrible as long-haul flights go, but Patrick manages to sink into his music, the shitty movies on the in-flight entertainment system, and using the wi-fi to text his sisters, who are all sad he’s leaving but agree that it’ll be good for his sex life if he gets away for a while. He replies all, fuck you and then sends a barrage of texts to Jonny, telling him how shitty the flight is, the boring details of movies Jonny won’t have any interest in, and all the sad emoticons he has on his phone.

i hope this isn’t what i have to look forward to while you’re over there.

Patrick grins, but doesn’t reply. Whatever, Jonny’s going to be weeping into his pillow after a day if Patrick doesn’t send him texts, remind him that they’re continents apart.

He manages to fall asleep somewhere near the tail end of the flight and has a weird dream involving Jonny, a long hallway and not being able to touch him no matter how fast he runs. It startles him so much when he wakes, that he takes a moment to collect himself before he can even move. Dammit. That better not be one of those dream meaning things because Patrick can pretty much guess what it means.

“Hey sweetheart,” his mom says. “You missed the meal.”

“Not hungry,” Patrick says. He rubs at his face and stretches in his seat, staring out the window at the expanse of land below. “How much longer?”

Donna snorts. “’Are we there yet’? Really?”

“You’re the worst mom ever,” he informs her, tucking his hands into his hoodie pockets.

“I’m going to deliberately mishear that, Patrick Kane.”

He grins at her, sinks lower in his seat. He hates layovers even more than he hates long-haul flights and he wants to bitch to Jonny, but he’s pretty sure if he sends him anymore texts, Jonny’s just going to ignore him for the next week.

The only text he does send is a picture of himself looking desolate in a mostly empty Zurich airport, cap low over his eyes, hood pulled up and slouching low in the seat. He attaches it to a frowny emoticon and isn’t surprised when Jonny doesn’t text back. He’s probably asleep or whatever. This time when he puts his phone away, it stays there until they land at Biel

“So this is home,” his mom says.

Patrick just wants to get through immigration and security and get to the hotel where he can sleep for the next hundred years.

His phone vibrates but he doesn’t look at it until they’re actually outside, in the afternoon air, and his mom is sorting out a cab for them. It’s from Jonny, just telling Patrick to please sleep before you use up your texting plan just sending me emoticons and Patrick can’t help grinning.

He does what Jonny says, though, as soon as they get to the hotel and he can sink into the warm, soft mattress. He doesn’t even bother to undress, just closes his eyes and is asleep in seconds.

It’s weird as fuck waking up alone. He’s used to having Jonny wrapped around him, warm breath in his ear, legs tangled together. He buries his phone in the pillows, doesn’t want to move until it’s absolutely necessary which, considering he’s supposed to head to the rink and meet the team today, is pretty fucking soon.

He doesn’t think texting Jonny after doing it so often yesterday is a particularly good idea, so he ignores his phone and shuffles off the side bed, sitting up and staring out the window of the hotel.

It’s just as disorientating as waking up alone and he blames the ridiculous windows in their apartment in Chicago. He’s used to seeing the spread of the Windy City not Switzerland and god, whatever apartment he rents out here is going to have no windows.

He snorts to himself, and decides to tackle the suitcases he should really have done something with when he went to sleep. Obviously, he doesn’t touch the one with the Kraft shit in, and digs around until he finds an outfit that isn’t completely douchey. He stole one of Jonny’s henleys which he totally won’t notice because he’s Jonny, and slips that on with some threadbare jeans he should really think about replacing. Whatever, he looks baller for his first day at the rink, and he’ll totally win everyone over no problem.

“Patrick?” His mom knocks on the adjoining door.

“Yeah, decent.” Patrick’s just tugging on a hoodie when she comes in, but not fast enough that she doesn’t notice the henley.

Obviously it’s not his style and she knows that but whatever, she doesn’t get to judge. Despite the fact that she totally is, smile delighted and endeared at the same time. God. She is the worst. “What?”

“The honeymoon period does last a while,” she says, sitting on the edge of his bed.

Patrick makes a face, reaching across her to grab his phone. There are notifications on his screen but he ignores them. They can wait. “Shall we?”

On the way out, his mom reminds him that he’s going to need to sort out his apartment and a car while they’re over here and Patrick sighs. “Sure mom.”

She pauses, pokes him in the center of his chest. “I refuse to live in a hotel for the duration of our stay, Patrick.”

“I know, mom,” Patrick says. “It’s just weird. I don’t want an apartment and I don’t want a car.”

She looks at him seriously. “Sometimes we have to do the things we don’t want to do. Like leave our husbands at home.”

Patrick flushes at that, refuses to meet her eyes. “It’s not so bad.”

“How many texts did you send him yesterday?”

Patrick refuses to answer her, just flags down a cab. His mom doesn’t know anything.

---

“So how’s Biel,” Jonny asks, slouching low on the couch.

Patrick feels a pang of loss to see the way he’s relaxed, lazy smile just like the one he’d worn when Patrick left, seeing their apartment in the background of the Skype screen. Patrick shrugs at Jonny’s question. “It’s Biel.”

With the iPad propped up against his pillows, Patrick is stretched out on his bed, chin resting on his hands. He’s exhausted, and he wants to take his mom out to dinner to say thank you, but he’s content to hang here with Jonny until then.

“You planning on actually leaving the apartment any time soon?” Patrick asks.

Jonny makes a face. “I fly out to Atlanta next week, asshole. Maybe I’m resting up.”

Patrick snorts. “The whole summer has been a rest up.”

The camera wobbles as Jonny shifts in his outrage. “Fuck you. One of us is spending time training up, Kaner, and I don’t think it’s you.”

The no, I’m playing hockey dies on Patrick’s tongue, because it’s not Jonny’s fault—this is what Patrick wanted after all. “Don’t pretend you don’t need to work off all those carbs you consumed at the wedding, fatty.”

Jonny flips him off. “You’re not funny.”

“Screw you,” Patrick says, grinning happily. “I’m fucking hilarious.”

“Hilarious looking.” It’s sad that Jonny looks so self-satisfied with such a lame comeback but it can’t be helped. He’s obviously deluded himself into thinking he’s funny.

Patrick shakes his head. “Jonny, Jonny. I worry about you.”

Jonny opens his mouth to reply when the door to Patrick’s room opens and his mom pokes her head in. “Patrick, are we- oh, hello Jonathan.”

“Hi Donna,” Jonny says, giving her a lame little wave.

“You boys Skyping already?” His mom looks more amused than annoyed, though, so Patrick figures that’s a point in his favour. Although he’d like to know what exactly is so amusing about this.

“I’ll just finish up with Jonny?” Patrick says, absolutely not embarrassed to be caught Skyping with his husband. Totally natural.

His mom smiles. “Sure. Bye, Jonathan.”

Jonny just waves this time, looks pretty lame as he drops his hand and looks a little sheepish. “Guess it is a bit—”

”It’s totally normal to Skype your husband, I’m told,” Patrick says, waving his left hand in front of the camera. “Not that we need an excuse to talk, obviously.”

“Oh, obviously.” Jonny’s grin is going soft at the edges and god, they should probably stop this or Patrick won’t ever want to go out with his mom.

“Get off Skype and go work out, asshole.” Patrick pulls back from the camera and sits on the edge of the bed, pulling his iPad into his lap. “You need it.”

Jonny rolls his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Go wine and dine your mom, buddy.”

Standing, iPad tucked against his arm, Patrick heads for his closet. “Sure, asshole. Skype you later?”

Shrugging, Jonny grabs his phone from the table next to him. “Text me when you’re available and I’ll see if I have a space in my busy schedule.”

“Screw you,” Patrick says, saying goodbye before shutting off Skype and tossing his iPad back on the bed.

---

Patrick’s barely met Tyler Seguin before, but he’s pretty much the only person besides his mother who knows English, and who doesn’t judge Patrick for being a failure of a human being for pretty much the whole of last season. He’s pretty great at hockey, is playing a hell of a lot better than Patrick at the moment, and is absolutely dedicated to making the best of the lockout.

“Dude, your mom’s hot,” is the first thing out of Segs’ mouth, which is not okay.

“What the fuck.” Patrick slugs Segs in the shoulder. “That shit’s not right, asshole.”

Segs holds up his hands and grins like a fucking moron, but he’s okay the rest of the time, so Patrick lets it go.

During practices, there are moments when Segs will look at him weird, kinda intense, like he’s trying to work something out. The next time they pass, Patrick taps his stick against Segs’ hip. “What’s up with you, dude?”

“Nothin’.” Segs skates around Kaner, looking like he wants to ask something, but then he’s called up and skates away, giving Patrick an apologetic look.

Whatever, the guy is weird.

Although, as weird as he is, he’s still pretty cool and Patrick’s not surprised that Biel tend to stick them together a lot of the time. He’s reminded of being partnered with Jonny so often when he first arrived in Chicago, not that this is even on the same league.

“You never talk about him,” Segs points out. They’re sacked on Patrick’s couch, the apartment Patrick’s mom had pretty much shopped for and leased herself. Patrick’s pretty sure his apathy is not lost on her, but it feels weird living in an apartment that doesn’t have Jonny’s shit lying around, because he’s a messy motherfucker.

Patrick doesn’t bother pretending he doesn’t know who Segs is talking about. “Why would I?”

Segs shrugs one shoulder. “I dunno, man. Just thought you’d be all over your husband lovin’ or whatever.”

“The fuck.” Patrick gives Segs a weird look. “Jonny’s an idiot. There’s nothing to praise there.”

It’s a lie and his voice gives it all away. Thankfully, Segs doesn’t call him on it, just keeps his mouth shut and watches the game. Patrick’s not ashamed of Jonny, but he doesn’t really know Segs, either. He’s not about to have a heart to heart with his mom about his relationship with Jonny, let alone Tyler Seguin.

“He’s okay, I guess,” Patrick says, eventually, rubbing his thumb over his wedding band. “For a competitive, emotion-phobic asshole.”

Segs laughs at that, and Patrick grins around the rim of his bottle. Jonny’s pretty awesome, but it wouldn’t do to go on record saying that too often.

---

Jonny’s on his way home from Atlanta, sitting in the airport and frowning down at his phone. He’s not dependent on Patrick’s texts or anything, but it’s been almost a week since he last heard from Patrick and that’s not actually normal. He can usually expect to get at least gets some sort of emoticon about the training or the team or Switzerland in general.

He shoots off a text to Patrick that just says, on my way home because whatever, he’s not rude about informing someone of his whereabouts, thank you. He doesn’t get a reply, not even when he lands at O’Hare and he’s pretty pissed off. He got a cab to the airport, so he takes one back home, spending the whole time home googling Patrick because when he doesn’t come to Jonny, Jonny’s just going to have looking. What he finds is a well documented, apparent, bromance between Patrick and Tyler Seguin.

Jonny scowls his way through most of the articles and tries to quash the horrible feeling in his chest. It’s not as though he’s in any position to dictate who Patrick can and can’t hang with—like he’d ever want to, but he’s not dumb; he knows it’s jealousy coloring everything he reads.

It gets worse over the next few days; blogs running with pictures of Patrick and Seguin, captions about the state of their marriage and Deadspin, of fucking course, running an article on whether or not Patrick’s falling back on old habits and sleeping his way through Switzerland, one hockey player at a time. His hands curl into fists and he has to shut off his phone and laptop. Patrick’s always hated his shut-himself-in-the-dark routines but whatever, Patrick’s not around to stop him and he’s the problem anyway. It’s not until he’s glaring at the fourth unanswered text that his anger blossoms into something else. He doesn’t know what it is but Patrick’s got to know what’s being said about them. He’s got to know he’s being a complete fucking asshole about this.

He decides he can’t stay in Chicago any longer, doesn’t want to have constant reminders of Patrick not being around, so he contacts his mother about staying in Winnipeg. He doesn’t mention Atlanta, but he doesn’t have to, just hopes that she’ll assume it’s to do with recuperating from his treatment and not fucking anger over Patrick Kane. Of course she’s his mother and it feels a little bit like it did when he got news about Madison, standing on his mother’s doorstep as she pulls him into a hug. This time she leads him into the kitchen, sits him down at the table and demands he tell her what’s wrong.

“Nothing.” Jonny pokes at the placemats on the table and his mom stops him, fingers wrapping around his hand.

“Sweetheart, there’s something wrong.”

Jonny’s always thought he couldn’t lie to his mom, which turned out to be a fucking joke with the whole marriage, but obviously not small lies. He sighs. “You’ve seen the news about Patrick?”

“Oui,” his mother says, patting his hand. “He is alone in an unfamiliar country, Jonathan. Your jealousy doesn’t become you—and you know better than to believe the rumours.”

I would, if he would actually talk to me.”

He gets the mother look, the one that tells him to shut his mouth and listen. “Consider the situation reversed. You getting overly friendly with a player Patrick doesn’t know. Would you want him to be jealous and judge you when he doesn’t know the circumstances of such a friendship?

Jonny hates it when his mother applies logic to what’s bothering him. “If he doesn’t talk to me, how can I?

There are communication problems in every marriage.” His mom says it with an edge and Jonathan almost dies when his dad pumps his fist into the air. Jesus, they’ve been spending too much time with the Kanes. Specifically, Patrick. “It’s how you deal with them that determines the success of that marriage.

Great. Communication; something he and Patrick have never been all that good at. “Fine.”

His mother nods, the discussion at an end, and pulls away.

Jonny doesn’t man up and send Patrick a text for a couple of days, and fuck, he’s a captain of an NHL team, he ca text Patrick, for fuck’s sake. Except he doesn’t want to sound as angry as he is, not if his mother is right and there’s a reason. Whatever it is, it better be a fucking good one. He sends it late at night, telling himself that if Patrick doesn’t answer this one, he’s just going to have to wait and see what happens. We need to talk. ASAP.

What he’s not prepared for is the barrage of texts he gets from Patrick the next morning, all of them in quick succession and in varying degrees of panic.

ARE YOU OKAY?!

Jonny? Is it your concussion?

Are you breaking up with me?

Shit, are you sleeping?

You’re sleeping

i’m soorrrrrry ;(

Jonny stares at the last one, frowning. Nothing’s wrong. You haven’t been answering my texts.

To his surprise, he gets a reply almost immediately. Jonny?! Skype?

It doesn’t take long for Jonny to grab his laptop and boot it up. Watching the little Skype icon take forever to connect is an annoyance he could do without, but eventually he’s in and Patrick’s calling him almost immediately. Jonny’s a mix of relieved and annoyed to see Patrick, but it softens into something familiar when he takes in the dark room, the impressive bedhead Patrick’s rocking, and the look on his face. “Hey Jonny.”

His smile is so fucking annoying. Jonny wants to be mad at him, dammit. “Why did you think I was breaking up with you?”

That’s not what he wants to be saying, but Patrick doesn’t seem to think the question is rude or abrupt. Catching him at the tail end or beginning of sleep is apparently a godsend. “I didn’t hear from you for ages, dude. I thought you were like, shunning me or whatever, or found some hot dude in Atlanta and wanted to run away with him.”

And people say Jonny has a filter problem immediately after waking up. “‘Some hot dude’?”

Patrick makes a face. “Well. Obviously there are people hotter than me out there. In some places.”

Jonny sounds more amused than he means to when he says, “We’re kind of married, stupid.”

“Not really,” Patrick mumbles, flopping back onto the pillows. “You’re free to run away with any dude.”

“You’re being an idiot, Patrick,” Jonny informs him. “You weren’t talking to me either.”

“I’ve been playing hockey.” Patrick’s protests are pretty feeble and they both know it. “And I was worried about you, I mean, like, with the concussion? I didn’t know if calling or texting you would be allowed.”

“I wasn’t sequestered anywhere,” Jonny points out, fighting a frown. “It wasn’t a prison. And I sent you texts that you didn’t even bother to answer.”

Patrick’s eyes are boring into Jonny’s and he looks annoyed. “You being jealous and angry over this whole Segs thing was fucking dumb, Jonny, and you know it.”

“It wasn’t—”

“Please.” Patrick snorts. “You can claim, and I’m quoting from one of your texts, here, that it’s fucking dumb to throw our relationship under the spotlight like this, but we both know it’s jealousy. Just man up and admit it, for fuck’s sake.”

“Why? Would that make you feel better?”

“No,” Patrick says, anger dissipating quickly into weariness. “You know what would make me feel better? If you actually trusted me to stay faithful to you.”

That hits Jonny like a sucker punch, and he has to take a moment. “Fuck, Patrick, I’ve never not trusted you.”

Patrick snorts and yeah, Jonny knows that’s a lie, has said as much to Patrick, but this is different. Patrick just shrugs a little. “You don’t trust me to handle this relationship well, though. That you have to admit.”

“I’m just—” Jonny closes his eyes, takes a deep breath. “God, fuck.”

“It’s okay.” Patrick’s voice is low. “If it had been you—”

“My mom said to picture us reversed,” Jonny admits without quite meaning to.

Patrick perks up at that, smiling a little. “You’re in Winnipeg?”

“Yeah.” Jonny grips the edge of the laptop so tight his knuckles start to whiten. “I didn’t wanna stay in Chicago.”

They stare at each other for long enough that Patrick has to get it.

Eventually, Patrick smile widens into a grin. “Good. Get her to make some pie and you can keep it and take it home.”

“What, no.” Jonny snorts. “Ask her yourself.”

“Fine.” Patrick makes a face. “You are the worst husband, but I guess I’ll cope.”

The mood’s a little lighter and they make small talk for a while, Patrick talking about hockey and Jonny updating him on his concussion symptoms—which he is now free of, thankfully.

Patrick’s sinking lower and lower into his duvet, until he finally asks, “How’s it going with negotiations?”

Jonny shrugs. “Annoying, irritating, frustrating.” He stops and watches Patrick’s smile widen into a grin. “Everything you’d expect. They’re done mostly over the phone. Bettman’s being an asshole.”

Snorting, Patrick rubs a hand over his face and catches the front of his hair, messing it up further. Jonny refuses to give in to the endearment crashing through his chest. “What’s new? He’s always—”

“No,” Jonny interrupts. “I mean, he’s using the marriage against me—us—the NHLPA.”

Patrick’s whole demeanor changes, his eyes sharpening in the webcam, and body stiffening as he regards Jonny. “What?

Jonny makes sure to keep his eye on the top of the laptop, rather than have to look Patrick in the eye. “Not overtly. Veiled assassination attempts on my character, shit like that. Says the players aren’t cooperating.”

“The fuck is wrong with him?” The look of indignation on Patrick’s face, on Jonny’s behalf, feels like just what Jonny needs. “Did anyone fucking stand up to that shit?”

“Crosby put him straight, Kaner, relax. I just hate that it’s a thing affecting hockey, that other players are seeing it as me letting the side down.”

“Hey,” Patrick says, face evening out into a reassuring smile. “This isn’t on you, okay? This is on Bettman. He’s the one being a douchebag about this, not you.” Jonny shrugs, opens his mouth to reply. Patrick’s already pressing closer to the screen, eyes wide and certain. “Not sure you’re capable of letting your side down, Jonny. They do know you, right?”

Jonny nods. “Yeah, they do, and I know.”

They fall into a comfortable silence, and Jonny notices Patrick start to drift off, eyes slipping closed and then opening again, jerking awake. Jonny shakes his head gently and smiles.

“You should go back to sleep,” he says. “Sorry for calling so late.”

“S’okay,” Patrick says. His smile is warm and brilliant, even half-asleep he looks—Jonny closes his eyes for a second, takes a moment. “My fault for not contacting you, right?”

Jonny shakes his head a little. “Yeah, let’s not do that again.”

Patrick press his hand to the screen. “Promise. Later, loser.”

“Same to you, idiot.” Jonny waits for Patrick to cut the connection, and then shuts down his laptop.

---

Jonny spends a couple more weeks in Winnipeg. He gets a call from Laddy asking him to participate in another charity match, which he’s only too willing to do. This time it’s against the Winnipeg constabulary and it promises to be a great day. Jonny knows Ladd, knows some of the other guys from playing against them, but he’s never spent a lot of time outside the rink with any.

He’s lacing up when one of the guys, Tanner Glass, drops onto the bench next to him. “Think it’s great what you did.”

Jonny gives him a sharp look. “You do.”

Tanner nods. Jonny’s played against him, knows him only because he’s just been traded to the Pens. “Pretty brave to come out like that.”

“Oh,” Jonny says, trying not to grind his teeth. “It is what it is.”

There’s a long silence which is the wrong side of comfortable, until Tanner claps him on the back. “Still, you’ve pathed the way for other guys who might be in the same situation. That’s gotta feel great.”

Jonny sits back, gives Tanner what he hopes is a suitably impassive stare. “We just want to be left alone.”

To his surprise, Tanner nods sharply. “That’s fair. Guys aren’t going to bother you on the ice.”

Before he can ask what that means, Tanner is standing and moving away.

Things only get weirder after that; Byfuglien tells him that he’s proud and that he respects what Jonny and Patrick have done, but it’s Ladd who surprises him the most.

“I didn’t think,” Andrew says, standing next to Jonny at the edge of the rink. “That I’d be talking to you about this.”

“I saw you a couple of weeks ago, man. You didn’t say anything.” Jonny focuses on the play, watches the guys skate and can’t wait to get out there himself. He can forget about everything, Patrick, their marriage, the lockout. He can just play.

“I spoke to Kaner. Don’t think he appreciated what I had to say.” When Jonny looks at Andrew’s face, he looks sufficiently contrite. That doesn’t mean Jonny’s not paying attention to every word. “I don’t have a problem with it.”

Jonny frowns. “It wouldn’t matter if you did. You don’t take that shit on the ice.”

“I know,” Laddy says. “Geez, Jonny, I played with you guys enough that I know. “

“So what are you trying to say?”

“Congratulations, I guess? And I can promise you that none of the Jets will be giving you shit about this when we play.” Jonny opens his mouth to say something, but Andrew is already raising an eyebrow. “Don’t tell me that wouldn’t affect you anyway because we both know it wouldn’t be you that you’d be worrying about.”

Scowling down at his skates, Jonny doesn’t want to continue this conversation. Thankfully, Andrew gets it. Jonny always liked that about him when he played for the ‘Hawks; he could always be counted on to get the guys to cut the shit when it was crunch time.

“Whatever happens, I hope you’re good.”

“We are,” Jonny says, confident.

Now that the talking is over with, Jonny can get his focus back on the game, back on skating, and back to ignoring everything but the sounds of his skates on the ice, the slide of a puck against his stick.

---

“What are you doing for Patrick’s birthday?” His dad asks him over dinner when he finally gets back to the house.

Jonny leans back in his chair, shrugs a shoulder. “Neither of us planned on being in a different country,” he says. “I have his present. Just don’t know what to do with it.”

His mother looks at him reproachfully. “You could take it to him.”

“That’s—” Jonny trails off, frowning. “He’ll be busy playing hockey.”

“Jonathan, if you think he wouldn’t make time for you,” his mother warns.

Jonny does know that Patrick would. They should probably meet; a lot of shit’s happened between Patrick leaving and Jonny coming back from Atlanta. He can’t fight the part of him that wants to see Patrick, either. It wouldn’t take much to book a flight and go out to Switzerland, spend the day with Patrick and make him remember what he has back in America, in Chicago. Jonny’s over the jealousy, but reminding Patrick that he’s married to someone far superior to Tyler Seguin won’t hurt.

“I could fly out for the day,” he concedes.

His mom smiles brightly. “Good. You can take the package I have for him with you.”

Jonny stares at her. “You made him a package?”

“He is our son-in-law,” Jonny’s dad puts in helpfully. “Plus, you know how she feels about Patrick.”

Jonny doesn’t appreciate the look on his dad’s face, or the smile on his mom’s. “You don’t have to buy him anything,” Jonny complains.

While he’s upstairs packing an overnight bag and booking flights through his phone, his mom comes up and hands him a wrapped parcel. It’s just a generic box and when Jonny asks, his mom just shakes her head, refusing to tell him what’s inside. “It’s for Patrick, Jonathan, not you.”

“Fine,” Jonny says, making sure to wrap it in one of his shirts deep in his bag.

“Do you have your gift?” His mom pushes him gently out of the way. “Book your flights, I’ll pack your bag.”

Jonny chooses a flight that gets him into Biel about 8am. It’s not ideal but he doesn’t really have a whole lot of time to get there. “He better appreciate this gesture,” he mutters.

His mom makes a disapproving noise. “Patrick’s always loved having you around on his birthday.”

“Usually we’d be playing a game or at least training.” Jonny shrugs. “Hang out with the guys in Chicago.”

“Exactly.” His mom turns, resting her hands on Jonny’s upper arms. “This year he’s in Switzerland with his mother, no friendly faces and no you.”

Jonny and Patrick don’t talk about it like that, have never committed to always be around each other on birthdays but save Jonny’s in April, it’s always just happened like that. And, if they can’t be in the same place, they pretty much spend the whole day talking, whether it’s over the phone or by text. Jonny grabs Patrick’s gift from the dresser and puts it on the top of the bag. “If I don’t see you in a couple of days, I’ll come visit over the winter holidays.”

His mom smiles, pulling him in for a hug. Jonny goes willingly, it’s his mom, and if he clings to her just a little, nobody has to know but them.

---

Jonny calls ahead to let Donna know he’s coming, he wants to surprise Patrick, but he doesn’t want to intrude if Donna has something planned. She sounds pleased when he tells her he’ll be arriving in the morning and asks only that he pick up a couple of things for her. When he gets to the baggage carousel at Biel, he has two bags to pick up instead of just one. He texted Patrick while he was still on the plane, just a cursory happy birthday and ignored the two phone calls he received afterwards. He doesn’t want to upset Patrick, but if he talks to Patrick today, he wants it to be face to face. He’s tired from the long flights and the layover, but as soon as he steps out into the cold air of Switzerland, he’s a little more awake. He hands over the hastily scrawled address he’d obtained from Donna over to the cab driver and climbs into the back seat.

When he looks at his phone, he has two texts from Patrick. thanks :) and y don’t u want to talk 2 me :( it’s my bthday jonny :((((((((. Jonny wants to train Patrick out of using so many emoticons to get his point across, but more than that, he wants to be where Patrick is. He’s managed, successfully, not to think about it too much over the last few weeks, but it hits him at the weirdest moments, how much he wants Patrick. When he gets to the apartment block, he pays the cab driver and heads into the lobby. The apartments are nice and, while he knows Patrick’s only leasing, he resents the fact that Patrick has to live anywhere that isn’t the condo he shares with Jonny in Chicago, or the Buffalo house.

He texts to let Donna know he’s arrived and when he reaches the third floor, the door to Patrick’s apartment is slightly ajar. He can hear voices inside, Patrick bitching about something and Jonny can’t keep a smile off of his face as he pushes open the door.

Donna’s in the kitchen and she smiles brightly when she sees Jonny. Thankfully she doesn’t say anything so that when Patrick walks into the room a moment later, eyes on the card in his hand, he doesn’t see Jonny right away.

“-I just don’t see why—”

“Happy Birthday, Peeks.”

Patrick’s head shoots up and the look on his face is worth the two flights and the kid who spent two hours shrieking on the plane. His face breaks into a huge, bright smile, like the one he wore the night Jonny called from Winnipeg. “Jonny.”

Donna’s taking Jonny’s bags from his hands and looks amused when neither he nor Patrick seem to quite know what to do. It’s only when she coughs that Jonny snaps out of it, crosses the distance between them and pulls Patrick into a tight, warm hug. Patrick squeezes back just as hard, laughs a little into Jonny’s neck. “I missed you.”

It’s only been two weeks and it should feel a little ridiculous to miss Patrick as much as he does, but he doesn’t care. He buries his face in Patrick’s hair, hiding his smile. “Missed you, too.”

They don’t pull away for a long time and it’s only when Jonny realises it’s rude to leave Donna standing in the kitchen while they spend the entire time hugging, that he pulls away. Patrick’s grinning stupidly when they part, keeping one arm around Jonny’s waist as they turn.

“What’s in the bags?” Patrick asks, perking up like a little kid and geez, some things remain the same.

“Nothing for you, nosey,” Donna says. “Get out from under my feet.”

Jonny’s only too happy to do so, but he grabs his overnight bag first. It’s only fair that he gives Patrick his presents as he’s come all this way. “Come on, Kaner. Maybe I’ll give you my mom’s gifts.”

“Aww yes!” Patrick fistpumps. “Your mom totally loves me, dude.”

“Can’t think why,” Jonny mutters. Patrick’s apartment is nice, small but sparsely decorated so it looks bigger. Thankfully, the couch is impressive, big enough for the two of them with room to spare. There are a couple of cards propped up on the TV in the corner. Patrick drops down onto the couch, making grabby hands. Jonny raises an eyebrow. “Really?”

Patrick actually sticks out his tongue. Jonny married a child. “It’s my birthday,” Patrick complains. “Give me my presents and stop being mean, Jonny.”

Jonny lets out a put upon sigh, but they both know he’s just bullshitting. He pulls his present out first and sets it on the coffee table. Patrick eyes it, scowling when Jonny bats his hands away as he reaches for it. “Wait. My mom’s first.”

The scowl drops off in favour of glee.

“She wanted to send pie,” Jonny informs him, looking exasperated. “She says you get to request one the next time you’re in Winnipeg.”

Patrick laughs. Jonny knows he’s never going to understand the relationship Patrick has with his mom. He always feels awkward around Donna, feels like he has to prove himself worthy somehow. He doesn’t resent that Patrick’s managed to forge something great with Jonny’s mom, but he’s a little jealous of the ease with which he does it. He shakes it off as he hands Patrick the parcel, wrapped in glossy red paper.

Patrick waits until Jonny’s sitting down next to him to tear into the package, mindless of the mess he’s making as he tosses bits of paper on the floor at his feet. Jonny’s as interested as Patrick to find out what’s in the present; some people think his mom’s presents are great, but she has a tendency to buy things that make little sense unless you’re the person receiving them.

“Dude!” Patrick exclaims. He holds up a bottle of maple syrup, cackling. “For my pie, apparently.”

Jonny sighs. He’s definitely going to be experiencing some Canadian-style mocking for this.

Patrick rests the syrup between them on the couch, and then pulls a t-shirt out of the box. Jonny’s almost afraid to see what’s on it. His mom’s gifted questionable t-shirts before and Jonny’s prayed for the ground to swallow him up.

Proud to be Canadian (by marriage).

Dammit. Patrick’s laughing again, the dimples in his cheeks more prominent from the angle Jonny’s sitting at. God. Nothing about this is okay. He’s not sure he’s going to be able to survive this day.

“Your mom is so fucking great, man.” Patrick folds the t-shirt and rests it on the syrup.

That’s great. Jonny’s seriously considering disowning her if she continues buying Patrick Canadian-related gifts. She has to know that’s asking for trouble.

Patrick pulls out the last gift in the parcel, a gift box from a high end jewellery store Jonny didn’t even know his mom knew about. Patrick pulls up the lid. “Holy—”

Jonny peers over his shoulder, sees what’s in the box and okay, his mom can be pretty awesome. The charm resting on the ridiculously silky cushion is a 19 that matches the 88 already on the chain around Patrick’s neck.

Patrick wastes no time putting it on. He sets the box and packaging aside, reaching for the clasp of his chain at the back of his neck. Jonny leans down to pick up the trash as he does, not wanting to get distracted by the expanse of Patrick’s neck he’s exposing as he takes off the chain. If he keeps his gaze on the floor, he’s not going to want.

“Hey,” Patrick says, tapping Jonny on the shoulder. When Jonny looks up, the 19 and 88 are nestled next to each other just above the collar of Patrick’s t-shirt.

“Looks good.” Jonny’s voice comes out lower than he means it too but either Patrick doesn’t notice or he’s choosing not to say anything about it.

Gesturing at Jonny’s parcel on the table, Patrick grins. “I can have yours now, right?”

Jonny’s not sure if he wants to give it to Patrick now or make him wait for it. Patrick reads him too well, slugs him in the arm and grabs the present anyway. He tears into the packaging with more enthusiasm than he showed Jonny’s mom’s present. Jonny’s not nervous about his reaction, but he doesn’t look at Patrick’s face when he opens it. He stares intently at the floor, but brings his head up when Patrick says, “Jonny.”

Of course Jonny knows what’s in the box, but he looks down anyway. There’s a photo wrapped in tissue paper. It’s of Patrick, Jonny and Patrick’s sisters. It’s from the 4th of July, on the boat, and everyone looks ridiculously happy. Patrick picks it up and Jonny knows he’s a crier, has seen him lose it at the dumbest of things, but he’s not prepared for the look on Patrick’s face.

He’s uncomfortable, doesn’t know what to say, but Patrick’s already tugging him in for a one-armed hug. “Thanks,” Patrick says, low and gruff in Jonny’s ear. “I—”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, cutting off whatever Patrick was going to say. “There’s something else.”

Patrick lets go, lifting the photo from the box. He frowns when he sees what’s underneath. “A Blackhawks jersey?”

Jonny doesn’t say anything until Patrick’s pulled it from the box and unfolded it enough to the see the Toews on the back. At Patrick’s puzzled look, Jonny smirks. “Don’t think I didn’t hear about you stealing one of my shirts.”

Patrick stares at the jersey for a long time. He smirks, but there’s a touch of hesitation when he says, “Is this my letterman jacket, Jonny?”

When he doesn’t get an answer, Patrick swallows and folds the jersey back up. They don’t say anything for a long time until Jonny gets his shit under control long enough to say, “Yeah.”

It feels like he’s admitting something more than just a dumb jersey, or the symbolizing of a jacket. He hopes Patrick gets it, can’t think of anything worse than having to explain it, but thankfully Patrick’s cheeks warm a little and he ducks his head. “Thanks.”

Jonny nods, wraps an arm around Patrick’s shoulders and pulls him in for another awkward, one armed hug. Patrick lets out a huff of breath and turns enough that it becomes a proper hug. Jonny closes his eyes. “Happy birthday.”

Once they’ve cleaned up the trash and Patrick’s escaped to the bedroom to change his shirt, Jonny checks in on Donna. She’s taken the food Jonny bought, all American foods not available in Switzerland and Patrick’s favourites at that, and laid it out on the table. She’s sitting at the island, scrolling through her phone. When Jonny enters, she gives him a quick smile.

“You need any help?” Jonny asks.

“No.” Donna peers around Jonny to where Patrick’s coming up behind him and, oh god, he’s wearing the Canadian shirt. “Nice shirt, sweetheart.”

“Thanks, mom,” Patrick says, grinning like an idiot. “It’s from Andree.”

Donna laughs because she is just as evil as Jonny’s mom, apparently. She looks at Jonny knowingly, and then gestures at the food. “I had Jonny bring some food from home for you. You guys enjoy it. I’m off out for the afternoon.”

“Where?” Patrick asks. “You don’t know anyone in Switzerland.”

“Patrick Kane, I am a grown woman. I think I can find things to do while you and your husband enjoy your birthday.”

Jonny doesn’t like the emphasis on husband or the way her voice dipped on enjoy. Thankfully, Patrick looks like he wants to die, so Jonny’s not suffering alone.

As if knowing exactly what she’s doing to them, Donna grins wider and grabs her bag from the counter. “Have a good day, darling. Take care of him, Jonathan.”

“I will,” Jonny promises.

“Bye,” Patrick says, sounding faint. As soon as the door is closed behind Donna, Patrick’s running a hand over his face. “She is the worst.”

“I don’t know,” Jonny says, gesturing at the table. “I think she’s done a pretty great job. On this and on you.”

Patrick looks at him for so long that Jonny knows he’s blushing, but fuck that. Refusing to acknowledge it, he elbows Patrick in the side. “Let’s eat and then I’ll kick your ass at xbox.”

“Like fuck,” Patrick protests. “It’s my birthday.”

Which they both know means nothing when they’re playing video games.

The rest of the day passes in a blur of food, video games and movies. Patrick doesn’t stop grinning the entire day, even when he loses. It makes Jonny’s victory a little less sweet because he has to stop and think about kissing the dumb smile off of Patrick’s face, which leads to ten minutes of him internally berating himself and externally beating the crap out of some bad guys in the video game. Patrick’s too engrossed in the game to notice anything’s amiss.

They’ve eaten most of the food on the table and they consider takeout as afternoon draws into evening. Patrick digs around in the kitchen drawer for a menu and then proceeds to think he’s impressing Jonny when he accurately translates the words and calls in the order with minimal trouble. He grins down at Jonny when he’s done, like he deserves a reward, but Jonny just shrugs. “Learning a new language is easy.”

“Screw you,” Patrick says. “You grew up speaking French.”

Jonny doesn’t want to concede the point, so he ends up wrestling Patrick instead, the two of them a heap on the floor when the doorbell rings. Jonny stays sprawled out on the ground and watches Patrick upside-down as he straightens his clothes and goes to pay for their food. Jonny feels pretty good about the whole day, gives into the smile fighting its way onto his face. When Patrick walks back in, sliding the food onto the table and looks down at Jonny. There’s an expression on his face that Jonny’s only seen once or twice, and mostly since the wedding, but he doesn’t know what it is.

They shove on The Proposal as they eat dinner because they both have a thing for chick flicks, that they will never admit to beyond the walls of their own apartment, and Patrick loves Sandra Bullock in ways Jonny will never understand. Patrick’s going to start crying towards the end because he always does, and Jonny’s prepared for it. What he’s not prepared for is the way Patrick leans against him, tucks himself under Jonny’s arm and physically manhandles Jonny until they’re both lying sideways on the couch. Jonny remains silent until he’s sure Patrick’s done moving them around. “Comfy, Princess?”

Patrick elbows him sharply in the side but nods. “Yes. Now shut up and watch the movie.”

Jonny really tries to keep his eyes open till the end but it’s been a long day and he hasn’t slept since his flight. He’s dozing lightly, Patrick’s curls brushing his cheek, and thinking about moving before he actually falls asleep.

“S’okay,” Patrick says, and he sounds as tired as Jonny feels. “Sleep if you want.”

Jonny wants to protest but he has Patrick warm against his body and between one breath and the next, he falls asleep.

---

Patrick wakes slowly, feels his back protest when he tries to shift. There’s a heavy weight against his left side, and he automatically knows it’s Jonny. It feels normal, and he’s missed it. Sometime in the evening, his mom must have thrown a blanket over them as it’s now wrapped around them, mostly covering Jonny.

Jonny still looks dumb when he sleeps, but Patrick hasn’t been able to wake up to it for weeks, so he grins into Jonny’s neck, looks down at the hand he has pressed to Jonny’s chest. His wedding band stands out against the blue of Jonny’s t-shirt and Patrick desperately wants. He wants the marriage to be real, wants what he has with Jonny to be real. He closes his eyes, burrows deeper into Jonny’s side and doesn’t move until he feels Jonny waking up.

“Morning,” Jonny says, smiling a real, honest smile that Patrick rarely gets to see. Patrick kind of likes that he’s the only one that does, that it’s him that gets this soft, pliant Jonny who says dumb shit in the mornings and always has epic bed hair no matter how short he cuts it.

Patrick wants to kiss him so fucking badly. “Morning.”

He knows Jonny has to leave sometime today but he doesn’t want to know when. Wishes Jonny would just fuck the lockout and come play in Biel with him. He doesn’t bring it up.

“Yesterday was awesome,” he says, resting his chin on Jonny’s shoulder. “I guess you’re an acceptable husband.”

Jonny snorts. “Acceptable, huh? My mom bought you maple syrup.”

“That makes her awesome,” Patrick informs him. “You still have a little work to do.”

“Oh yeah?” Jonny asks, looking completely ridiculous and giving Patrick what he probably thinks is a challenging stare. Patrick’s seen enough of those and Jonny’s smiling too much with this one to make it work.

He grins. “Yeah.”

Jonny shifts his head to look Patrick in the eye and Patrick sucks in a breath, stupidly aware of how close their faces are. Jonny pauses, a moment’s hesitation before he lifts a hand to Patrick’s face, resting his thumb against the curve of Patrick’s jaw. They don’t say anything for a long time and Patrick wants to lean in, it wouldn’t take much. Just when he thinks something’s going to happen, that one of them is going to move, his mom comes out of her bedroom. She makes a soft noise.

“Sorry.”

Patrick closes his mouth and exhales, feels Jonny pull his hand away and greet Patrick’s mom. Jonny’s hand is still in his hair, which is something, but Patrick aches for that moment, the one where he almost thought he was going to get what he’s wanted for months.

It’s not until he’s helping Jonny collect up his things that he realises this is the last time he’s going to see Jonny until Christmas, or the lockout ends. He’s silent right up until they leave, when Jonny puts an arm around Patrick’s shoulders and tugs him close.

“Soon, Kaner, I swear.”

Patrick just nods. “Whatever, as soon as you’re gone it’ll be like you were never here.”

“Except,” Jonny says, looking Patrick in the eye. “It won’t be.”

Patrick frowns, doesn’t know what Jonny’s asking for.

“You know I—” Jonny starts. He shakes his head, scowling. “Seguin—”

“Jonny,” Patrick says, knowing that the expression on Jonny’s face, the one he’s trying hard to hide and the one Patrick sees rarely, is vulnerability. “Hey, I swear. I promised. Just you.”

Jonny lets out a slow breath. “Yeah?”

“Yeah, you idiot.” Patrick smiles. “We’re friends. Nothing more.”

“Good.” Jonny looks satisfied.

---

Patrick feels anything but good when they’re standing at the departures gate and he has to say goodbye to Jonny. Patrick’s mom is waiting in the car outside, having already said goodbye to Jonny. Patrick doesn’t want to be here, wishes he was getting on the plane with Jonny, or Jonny was coming back with him.

“I said I’d bring you home,” Jonny says, pulling Patrick into a hug. “I meant it.”

Patrick’s had enough of holding back and pulls Jonny in tighter, clings to him a little too much but god, he just wants to keep Jonny with him. He’s startled by the intensity of it, the reluctance to let Jonny go. “I fucking hate this.”

Jonny says, “I know,” vehement and sounding just as wrecked as Patrick feels. He pulls back a little, presses their foreheads together. Patrick doesn’t even care what this looks like, doesn’t care about anything but the press of Jonny’s body against his and how much he wants this to be his, wants it so desperately.

Jonny.”

There’s a moment when Patrick’s sure it won’t happen, when he thinks they’ll be interrupted or Jonny will pull away. He’s tensing for it, for the rejection, when Jonny closes the distance between them and tugs Patrick forward into a kiss. Patrick immediately sinks into it, fisting his hand in the front of Jonny’s jacket and making a soft, needy noise against Jonny’s mouth. It’s been so long since their wedding, since he last let himself have this and god, god, it’s just as intense as the first time. Jonny’s biting into his mouth, hand on the back of Patrick’s head like he has to keep him there, like Patrick isn’t begging for it with mouth and body. He doesn’t want to pull away, doesn’t want to lose a second of this and even when they have to break for breath, Patrick chases Jonny’s mouth with his own.

They kiss once, twice more and then Jonny’s pulling away, looking dishevelled and pleased and god, he’s Patrick’s.

“I’ll see you in Chicago,” Jonny promises when they finally part, biting at the soft part of Patrick’s jaw. “Real soon.”

“You better.” Patrick shoves his hands in his pockets.

Jonny pulls his hand away from Patrick’s head and does the same. With one last goodbye, he turns his back on Patrick and doesn’t look around. Patrick watches him until he disappears from sight.

---

Patrick’s mom wakes him up the next morning, holding out his phone and telling him that there’s something he needs to see. She sits next to him on the couch as he thumbs through his phone, frowning at the amount of messages he’s got.

The guys have all texted him varying degrees of holy shit, Kaner, except Sharpy, who always makes it his personal mission to go above and beyond with the art of text messaging. He’s written out a poem that spans five texts and ends with lots of flower and love heart emoticons and Patrick doesn’t know what the fuck is going on.

It’s only when he opens up his email and sees one from Jonny with no subject or body, that he knows this is what he needs to see. The attachment is a picture of a tweet sent the night before and as soon as Patrick opens it, he feels his blood run cold, his chest feels too tight and he’s really fucking glad his mom is on the couch next to him.

The picture is of him and Jonny kissing in the airport. It looks as intimate and private as it had felt at the time and god, he doesn’t know what to do. He wants to text Jonny, feels embarrassed for the amount of emotion he’s showing on his face and remembers all too well the feel of Jonny’s mouth, the press of Jonny’s body warm against his.

Mostly, he wants to keep staring at the picture until it’s burned into his brain.

He forces himself to close the email and decides to google himself and Jonny because he needs to know. The picture is the topic of choice on the first three pages of google and he doesn’t know what to do with that. Doesn’t know how to take the knowledge that people are both pleased and outraged on their behalf; that such a private, intimate moment was put onto the internet. Patrick cares, but he’s not surprised by it; he’s used to his life ending up on the internet but this is the first time he’s wanted it and hated it at once. The fact that people are finally seeing the real Patrick and Jonny for the first time and it’s this that makes Patrick feel sick.

This isn’t the real Patrick and Jonny. It can’t be because Patrick doesn’t even know who the real Patrick and Jonny are. It’s something that he desperately wants to know for himself, wants to know if what he can see on Jonny’s face, isn’t a projection of what he wants, but is real, genuine affection.

---

Dude,” Segs says, when he turns up for morning skate the next day. “You don’t even like talking about your boy, now you’re eating his face in public?”

Patrick rolls his eyes, hits Segs on the back of the leg with his stick. “There was no face eating. I was seeing him off at the airport.”

Segs looks at him sympathetically. “That’s what you give him when you see him off? Got me wondering what’ll happen when this lockout ends.” He immediately back-pedals, holding up a gloved hand. “I mean, feel free never to tell me, that wasn’t an invitation.”

“Right,” Patrick laughs. He’s called in to shoot and leaves an embarrassed Segs behind. It’s not until they’re back in the locker room that Segs talks to him again, knocking against his elbow.

“You wanna go out for lunch somewhere? Your birthday treat or whatever.”

Patrick grins, a little touched. “Sure. As long as you’re not planning on bringing up that photo again.”

Segs pulls on his jacket, looking a little contemplative as he does so. “I dunno. It’s not everyday one of your teammates gets caught in an embrace like that one.”

“Didn’t you hear?” Patrick tilts his head, knows his grin is the shit-eating one that irks Jonny so much. “We’re not only married, but we set the precedent for gay players. We’re totally allowed to make out in public.”

Pouliot, one of the only other guys on the team who actually speaks English, is watching them both, amused. “Looked pretty loved-up to me. I don’t even kiss my girlfriend like that, Kaner.”

Patrick shrugs, wants to say you live in the same country as your girlfriend but stops himself. The silence drags on a little too much to be natural and Patrick tries to force a grin, doesn’t want Pouliot to think he’s said something wrong, even if it stings a little to be reminded. “Sometimes you gotta shut him up, you know? The longer you kiss him, the less time he spends talking.”

“I don’t know,” Segs says, skeptical. “Toews isn’t your typical talker.”

“Trust me,” Patrick says. “He talks more than you think he does. It’s usually about hockey or how much everyone on the team needs to work harder or some shit, but he talks.”

Segs still doesn’t look convinced. “I think you’re bullshitting. No way does Jonathan Toews talk that much that you’d have to kiss him to shut him up. Are you sure it’s not the other way around?”

Pouliot laughs. “Yeah, that sounds more accurate.”

“Hey!” Patrick’s a little offended. “I don’t talk that much!”

Pouliot and Segs aren’t the only players in the room who react to that statement and Patrick narrows his eyes. He is not going to rise to this, so he sits there in silence. He’s not sulking, no matter what Segs says as they walk out of the door.

“I’ll make you pay for lunch and dinner if you’re going to be an asshole about it,” Patrick informs Segs as they climb into his car.

Segs snorts. “Sorry, Kaner. I don’t pay for that much food unless I know for a fact the person I’m dining is putting out.”

Patrick laughs, starting the car but not moving them just yet. “I’d like to see what Jonny’ll do to you if you try and dine me, asshole.”

“Maybe someone will tweet a picture and we’ll find out.”

Patrick really needs Segs to stop saying shit like that.

---

He refuses to acknowledge any text Segs sends him after he sees the picture up on twitter. He’d known that Segs was tweeting during the meal, what Patrick had hoped was just text, but was actually a picture Patrick hadn’t realised was being taken.

just a meal, i swear, he texts Jonny, who will no doubt be freaking out about it. Not actually freaking out, but like, Jonny freaking out where he stares at the screen of his laptop for an underdetermined amount of time, scowling and clenching his hands into fists. Jonny doesn’t reply all afternoon which means he either hasn’t seen it (unlikely) or he’s still seething (definitely). Neither of those options would promise good things for Patrick, so when he gets a Skype notification from Jonny, he resigns himself to getting bitched out and hits connect.

“I promised it would just be you,” Patrick says, before Jonny can open his mouth. He looks good, better than he has any right to after the flights he’s just been on. “So chill.”

Jonny’s frowning, but it’s more confused than angry. “You just had lunch.”

“Yes?” Patrick’s not sure if that’s a statement or a question. It’s never easy to tell with Jonny. “He wanted to wish me a happy birthday, I guess.”

“Well.” Jonny relaxes back into the couch, picking up the laptop as he goes and Patrick gets a spectacular view of Jonny’s bare chest, because apparently he’s the kind of guy who Skypes without a shirt, now. “If I had problems with everyone you ever ate lunch with, Kaner, I’d never stop being jealous.”

Patrick preens a little at that. “Not saying that would be a bad thing—”

“I am.”

Jonny looks impossibly good-looking all of a sudden and Patrick’s not sure whether that’s like, left-over feelings from the kiss, or if he’s actually trained himself to be able to think that way now that they’re married and making out in Swiss airports. He wants to bring it up but this is Jonny who, despite talking more about them over the past few months than Patrick’s ever known, would rather shove his emotions in a bag and bury them at the bottom of a permanently frozen lake.

“We both know you’re bullshitting.” Patrick leans in closer to the screen. “You didn’t have to Skype me right now, dude. You look like you’re about to crash.”

Jonny gestures at his bare chest, the asshole. “I am. You insist on trying to get a rise out of me, Kaner, so I called to tell you it’s not working.”

“Again, bullshit,” Patrick says with a grin. “You missed me and wanted to hear my beautiful voice.”

“Patrick,” Jonny says, the expression on his face more fond than he probably realises. “There is nothing I find beautiful about you.”

“My sparkling personality? My hot bod?”

“No and no.” Jonny’s smirking because he’s an asshole but whatever, he totally wouldn’t kiss Patrick in public if he didn’t think something about Patrick was beautiful, hot or sparkling.

When Patrick tells him so, he gets a short, sharp laugh and then a look that’s way too much for Patrick to take after his birthday and the kiss. Jonny needs to back the fuck up before Patrick actually says I love you when Jonny’s not asleep or bullshitting.

Jonny adjusts the screen again, until he’s lying sideways on the bed. Patrick considers doing the same thing; it’s been a long afternoon and catching a nap before the game that night is sounding really fucking good right about now. “Hey, Kaner?”

“Yeah?” Patrick watches Jonny as he pushes his absurdly long hair back out of his face. He needs a haircut, but Patrick’s not going to mention that for a little while; he can be selfish about something, whatever.

Jonny looks like he wants to say something, frowns and opens his mouth. “I—” There’s another long pause and, eventually, Jonny sighs. “I’ll see you soon, yeah?”

Patrick tries not to feel disappointed, doesn’t want to think about what he was hoping Jonny would say, and just nods. “Yeah, Jonny. You will.”

Jonny cuts the connection just before he falls asleep. Patrick rolls onto his back, stares up at the bland ceiling of his apartment and wills his stupid hopes to shut the fuck up and get back down. This thing with Jonny is working how it’s supposed to, he guesses, and if Jonny’s content with how things are, so is Patrick. Saying I love you won’t change that.

It won’t.

---

The first time Patrick wears Jonny’s jersey out in town, he’s not really thinking about it. He offers to take his mom out shopping because he is a considerate son, and he appreciates how bored and lonely she has to be. He texts all of his sisters and asks for tips on which Swiss shops are the best for the ladies and gets mostly shit for it. Obviously he knows that his mom will tell him where she wants to go but he’d still like to be at least a little bit prepared for this.

“It’s cold out,” His mom shouts through the bedroom door. “Grab a jacket or something.”

Patrick left his jacket at the rink the day before, because he’s an idiot and because Segs had been pretty adamant that they had to leave then and there and now for an NHL 13 marathon. He grabs the next best thing—the jersey that’s still sitting on his dresser—and pulls it on.

When he walks out into the living room, his mother raises an eyebrow but doesn’t say anything. Patrick frowns. “What?”

“Nothing. You ready?”

Patrick nods, grabbing his car keys from the island. “Let’s do this.”

The look he gets for that is unimpressed. “You could sound a little more enthusiastic.”

“The last time I went shopping was with Jonny,” Patrick whines. “He spent about four hours refusing to choose shirts because I was picking them, but then got judgemental about every single thing.”

“I promise to make quicker choices than your husband.” His mom has no right looking that smug or amused.

The journey into town doesn’t take that long, and thankfully it’s not as busy as Patrick’s expecting. “At least things aren’t as busy in Biel as they are back home.”

His mom gives him an odd look. “Buffalo?”

“No,” Patrick says, shutting off the engine and digging around for his wallet. “Chicago.”

The odd look remains, even when they’re out of the car and heading up the main high street. It softens into something close to motherly pretty soon and Patrick wonders what the hell he’s said to get that. She leans over to give him a one-armed hug. “I’m proud of you, sweetheart.”

Patrick tries not to squirm because you can never have too many hugs from your mom, even when they’re public. “Why? What did I do now?”

She gestures at the jersey he’s wearing. “You’re wearing Jonny’s jersey and talking about Chicago being your home.” She tilts her head. “You’re wearing your marriage well, darling.”

Oh. Oh. Patrick takes a moment to think about that. The jersey thing isn’t that big a deal, except that maybe it’ll get Jonny feeling a little possessive rather than jealous, which is never a bad thing. Chicago being home—that’s kinda big and Patrick’s not really sure how he feels about being able to say it so easily. They got married in the house he’s been considering his future home since he bought it, but the apartment he shares with Jonny feels better, feels right.

He’s never really thought about playing anywhere else except Chicago, but it’s never felt like it matters until right now.

Shopping with his mom ends up distracting him for a couple of hours, but as soon as they’re back in the apartment, sitting on the couch and watching terrible reality TV without subtitles, Patrick’s thinking about it again.

where do you consider home? He texts Jonny because he has to know.

If this is you asking for a “wherever you are” response, I’m not biting.

Patrick snorts. Jonny’s an idiot. technically you gave me that response, but no. it’s a legit question.

Jonny takes a moment to respond, which Patrick thinks is fair. Just because he’s having an emotional crisis in the middle of the day, doesn’t mean Jonny has to. It helps that it’s early morning in Chicago and Jonny will be half asleep. winnipeg’s my home. but so’s chicago. why are you asking?

He contemplates not asking, because he’s only going to get mocked and he doesn’t want that.

patrick?

mom asked me today and i said chicago. didn’t know until i said it, you know? Patrick hates how much he’s scared of Jonny’s response to that. It feels like he’s admitting something pretty big and if Jonny does mock him, or make light of it, that’s going to feel pretty fucking terrible.

Instead of getting a text back, Patrick’s phone starts vibrating across his knee. He gives his mom a quick look and then escapes to the bedroom. He doesn’t want his mom to hear this. He slides his thumb across the screen and says, “Hey.”

“Why Chicago?”

Patrick rolls his eyes. “It’s kinda polite to say hello first, Jonny.”

“Patrick.”

“I don’t know,” Patrick admits. “I was talking about how busy it gets in Chicago, you know, but said ‘home’ and mom got all soft and weird about it.”

Jonny lets out a slow breath. “So why do you care where I think is home?”

“I don’t care,” Patrick lies. “Obviously I knew it would be Winnipeg.”

There’s a silence that doesn’t feel comfortable, but doesn’t feel tense either. Patrick’s just waiting for Jonny to say something.

“If you tell anyone that I said this, I’m going to kick your ass,” Jonny says, eventually. “If we lived in Buffalo, that would be home. If we lived in Winnipeg, that would be home. But we live in Chicago, we play in Chicago. That’s home too.”

“So,” Patrick grins. “You are saying that home is wherever I am?”

“I’m saying that home is wherever we are.”

Patrick doesn’t even know what to do with that. “Jonny. You’re—”

“-going to kill you if you ever—”

“Repeat this, I know.” Patrick sits on the edge of his bed, still stunned. “So, you should get me back home pretty fucking quick, shouldn’t you?”

Jonny laughs. It’s the one Patrick likes, the surprised one that he doesn’t try and control and so it feels natural rather than forced. “I’m trying, Kaner.”

Patrick knows that but he still says, “Try harder.”

“I can’t do any more than I am.” Jonny sounds anything but happy to be admitting it, but Patrick gets it, knows that what he’s asking for is impossible. He just thinks that if he and Jonny were in the same place, it would get better—things between them would get better. Maybe he’d know for sure how Jonny felt about their marriage now.

---

Patrick and Segs have taken to hanging out at Segs’ apartment, mostly because Patrick’s mom isn’t there and Patrick doesn’t want Segs hitting on her whenever he’s in the apartment. Patrick’s explained that, while Jonny won’t kill him for spending time in Patrick’s apartment, Patrick will if he keeps making passes at his mom. Patrick manages to convince him one night, and they’re watching a movie that neither of them can understand, but making up dialogue because it’s pretty fucking hilarious when you’re on your way to buzzed.

“So,” Segs says, gesturing at Patrick with his bottle of beer. “How do you know so much about the lockout?”

“Jonny.” Sinking lower against the couch, Patrick props his feet against the coffee table. “He has a complex about making sure he personally brings hockey back to Chicago.”

Segs laughs, but he also looks a little like he doesn’t get it. Patrick understands; unless you really spend time with Jonny, he just comes across as some super serious and intense hockey player. There’s a lot more to Jonny but Patrick’s spent five years figuring him out and he’s not about to spill those secrets to anyone, especially someone who isn’t a Hawk.

The silence that descends as they watch the movie is comfortable, but it only lasts a little while, before Segs knocks his knee against Patrick’s.

“Don’t know if I could have done it, man.”

Patrick adjusts his cap before looking at Segs. “Done what?”

Segs narrows his eyes at the TV. “You know, come out and shit.”

Shrugging, Patrick doesn’t have to search hard for an answer to that. “It wasn’t something that came up a lot.”

The look he gets is incredulous, and Segs snorts. “Are you serious? You’ve been in a relationship since you were like, baby Blackhawks and you didn’t talk about maybe coming out one day?”

Patrick really needs to remember that they’ve been together for years, and this isn’t something they cooked up to save Patrick from trade. “No. It’s nobody else’s business, man. That’s the thing that you gotta watch.” He pats Segs’ chest with the back of his hand. “Making sure you don’t let shit that happens outside stay inside, you know?”

Segs is nodding, taking all this in and Patrick’s feeling pretty proud of himself for being like, a role model, even if it’s only to Segs.

Patrick’s mom comes home soon after, and she kicks out Segs because there’s only so many days a week she can handle having him in her home, not that she ever says so aloud, but Patrick knows anyway. He’s brushing his teeth in the bathroom, listening to his mom talk on the phone to someone who sounds suspiciously like Andree, when Jonny calls him.

Patrick reaches for his phone and puts Jonny on speaker.

“You there?”

“Brushing,” Patrick says, around the toothbrush.

“Oh.” Jonny pauses for a second. “You’ve been wearing my jersey around Switzerland.”

There’s something in Jonny’s voice Patrick hasn’t heard for a long time and he raises his head, spits into the sink so that he can talk. “I’ve been doing it for weeks, dude. Thought you knew I’d wear it.”

Yeah,” Jonny says, voice tight, like Patrick’s supposed to know what that means. “Some reporter here has done a story on it.”

Patrick’s intrigued by this, perking up a little. “They must be strapped for stories.”

Jonny makes an assenting noise and then nothing.

“Did you really call me just to talk about me wearing your name all over Biel?”

“Yes, Patrick,” Jonny says, sarcasm dripping from his voice. “That’s exactly why I called.”

Patrick picks up his phone and shuts the bathroom door, flipping off the light as he heads for bed. “Dunno what else I’m supposed to think. Is there a purpose to this call? Or did you hear that I was hanging with Segs today?”

Jonny snorts. “You hang with Segs every day. I’m not worried about you spending time together.”

“I know,” Patrick says, softly. He settles under the duvet and stretches a little, the phone resting on the pillow by his head. “Coming home for the winter break soon. You pampering me over the break?”

“Hell no.” Patrick can practically see the expression Jonny’s wearing on his face. “Your turn to treat me like fucking gold, Kaner.”

Patrick can’t keep the smile off his face. “So where we going?”

Jonny stays silent for a moment and then clears his throat a little. “I thought we could stay in Chicago. Obviously if you want to-”

“No,” Patrick says quickly. “I mean, I’ll see my family at some point but yeah, yeah I’d like that.”

“Yeah?” Jonny sounds pleased. Patrick understands how he feels.

Patrick nods and, realising Jonny can’t Jonny see him, says, “Yeah.”

What Jonny doesn’t explain to Patrick is that the article run about his jersey is one he gets interviewed about. Patrick looks for the article, because he still has precious little self-preservation, and sees the picture they’re talking about. He’s with his mom, looking dumb and happy and he’s not even sorry about that, but the 19 and Toews is obvious. He reads the interview and then gets caught on one of the quotes near the bottom. They’re asking Jonny how he feels seeing Patrick in his jersey in another country and he says, I’ll just have to bring my husband home, won’t I? and Patrick stares at the screen for half an hour before he can shut his laptop and fall asleep.

---

Jonny spends the next couple of days Skyping with Patrick about their final plans for the winter. They’re both busy with their own things; while Patrick’s playing games every other night, Jonny’s on the phone almost constantly to various people about the lockout. He doesn’t think he’s ever had so many calls from Crosby in his entire life, and if he has to accept another phone call from Kesler, it’ll be too soon, but he seems to be spending his lockout recovering from injuries and Jonny can empathise with that. He doesn’t have to like Kesler - or the Canucks - but he can appreciate they’re all in the same boat.

That doesn’t stop him hanging up the phone the instant Kesler starts talking about how loved up Jonny looked in the twitter picture and Jonny can’t wait to play the pissed off voicemail he got in return to Patrick when he gets home. Which Jonny is assured will be as soon as Patrick drops his mom off in Buffalo and hangs around for a couple of days catching up with his family and convincing them that missing one Christmas isn’t the worst - especially if it’s his first with his new husband.

Jonny spends the few days waiting for Patrick to get back cleaning up the apartment. He’s not messy, no matter what Patrick says, but that doesn’t mean he wants to deal with the bitching. He’s carrying a bunch of stuff that really doesn’t need to be out in the living room to the closet when he catches sight of the hockey sticks he and Patrick had given each other at the wedding. They were put there, on display as much as Jonny’s other hockey sticks; in a rack of their own, by the glass window.

After dumping the stuff in the closet, he picks up the stick Patrick gifted him and runs his hands over it, half smiling as he remembers the way Patrick had looked giving it to him.He doesn’t want to forget that look or the feeling that went along with it, even if he’s still a little uncomfortable to know how many people saw him look that way.

He picks up Patrick’s stick next, knows the tight feeling in chest that goes along with the words on this one, and while it’s fucking scary to think he wants to give in to that completely, wants Patrick that completely, he doesn’t have to deal with it right now. He can wait for Patrick to get home.

He can do something with the sticks, though, and carries them into the kitchen to rest them on the table next to his laptop. He has some internet searching to do before Patrick comes home and he better appreciate what Jonny’s doing here.

He’s just coming through the door after a run to hardware store when his phone rings. Balancing his keys and a bag of supplies in one hand, Jonny fishes the phone out of his pocket with the other.

“Hello?”

“Jonathan,” his dad says. “How are you, son?”

“Fine,” Jonny drops his keys and bag on the table as he shuts the door. “Everything alright?”

His dad isn’t usually the one to call. Jonny’s used to speaking to his mother and having the phone passed over, not the other way around.

There’s a long pause. “Are you staying with Patrick this Christmas?”

Jonny leans against the counter on one arm and pushes the other through his hair. He was kind of hoping he could get away with Skyping but he should have known his parents would call about it. “Did you guys want me to come home?”

“No, Jonathan, of course not.” His dad sounds a little reluctant, though, and Jonny frowns.

“Are you sure? Patrick would understand.” He’s not sure Patrick would, but he’s not about to upset his parents if they want him to come home.

Jonny’s dad laughs a little, at that. “Now I know that’s not true, son. I think your mother’s just upset that this is the first Christmas that she isn’t spending with all of us.”

Jonny closes his eyes. He doesn’t know what to say to that.

“Listen,” his dad says, when it’s clear Jonny’s not going to answer. “Spend Christmas with Patrick and we’ll come down for New Year or whenever suits you best. You’re married now and that’s something your mother’s going to have to accept will change family things.”

Jonny glares down at the countertop. He never expected to have to make a choice between his family and Patrick. It’s not really a choice, because he’s still going to have both of them, but he risks upsetting one no matter what choice he makes. “Dad-“

“Jonathan.” His parents both have the same tone when they’ want him to really listen. “I know what you’re thinking and I want you to stop. Your mother knows as well as I do that you were never going to be around every year, especially not now that you’re married.”

“I’ll Skype,” Jonny promises. He pushes off the counter. “With Patrick.”

His dad chuckles. “If you don’t remember, I’m sure your mother will find sufficient ways to wake you up.”

Sufficient ways usually translates to embarrassing ways which Patrick’s used to by now, what with how long they’ve been sharing a room on the road, but Jonny grimaces anyway.

“We’ll remember. Thanks for calling, dad.”

“We’ll speak soon.” His dad hangs up, then, and leaves Jonny glaring down at the bag of supplies on the table.

He has something to take his frustration out on, at least.

---

Patrick calls him the night before he’s due to leave Switzerland, while it’s still early afternoon in Chicago. Jonny’s stretched out on the couch, playing Call of Duty and drinking the beer that’s probably been in the fridge for far too long. He puts his phone on speaker and balances it on his thigh so that he doesn’t have to pause the game.

“Hey loser,” Patrick says by way of greeting. “So four days until you see my beautiful face, are you excited?”

Jonny snorts. “Kind of sad that you’re coming back at all, but I guess I’ll take one for Switzerland and have you back.”

Patrick sounds mock outraged. “Asshole. See if I come home at all. Maybe I’ll just spend Christmas here with my family.”

Jonny takes a moment to start shooting shit in the game and then says, “What if Segs has been sending me pining updates.”

“.... Pining updates?” Patrick asks. He sounds half-torn between laughing and outrage and Jonny can visualize the look on his face all too well. “As if you’d text Segs about anything but keeping his hands off me.”

“You assume I have his number,” Jonny points out, finally pausing the game and picking up the phone.

Patrick snorts. “I bet you like, round robin-ed the entire Hawks team - former team mates even - to find someone who would have his number.”

Jonny is absolutely not admitting to anything. “I don’t have his number.”

“Right,” Patrick says, amused. “I believe you, Jonathan.”

Jonny closes his eyes at that, fucking hates being called Jonathan by anyone other than his parents, but he’s not adverse to Patrick saying it like that. “You better, Peeks.”

He’s playing dirty pool and he knows it, relishes the slight hitch of breath he hears on the other end of the phone.

“You’re an asshole,” Patrick says, quieter. “Just for that, you can pick me up from the airport.”

Jonny rolls his eyes. “As if I’d leave you to brave Chicago traffic all on your own.”

They stay on the phone a little longer, neither of them really saying anything of substance but content to shoot the shit anyway. It feels comfortable and normal and Jonny’s not felt this at peace with himself for a long time and he doesn’t even have hockey right now.

“Jonny,” Patrick says eventually, slurring a little with tiredness.

“Yeah?” Jonny leans further into the couch, rests the controller on the cushions next to him.

“I’ve really- you know, hated being out here.”

I’ve missed you. Jonny’s lip curves into a slight smile. “Yeah, Pat. Me too.”

Patrick lets out a slow breath. “Yeah?”

“I told you,” Jonny says. “I told you when I came to Switzerland. You’re still gone aren’t you?”

“Not in four days,” Patrick points out.

Jonny’s anticipating that reunion as much as he’s not. He wants Patrick back in Chicago, wants him back here, but he’s still uncomfortable with how much he’s showing. He’s used to adjusting with Patrick, for Patrick even, so he’s sure the anticipation will win out.

Not enough that he’ll be willing to make out with Patrick in any more airports - especially not Chicago airports - but enough that he would behind closed doors.

“Guess you’ll just have to get home quick then, right?”

Patrick sounds pleased when he says, “Right. Later, Jonny.”

“Bye, Peeks.”

He grins at Patrick’s squawk as he hangs up the phone.

Jonny tries not to think about Patrick too much over the next four days. He gets the customary texts, like usual, a steady stream of chirping and ridiculous photos of Patrick with his sisters that Jonny makes a point to save. He ends up hanging out with Sharpy one afternoon, spending time with Maggie and deciding and that not all kids are terrible, although Sharpy spends the whole time watching him, the dick, because he doesn’t want Jonny, “making my daughter crazy intense, Toe-ez.”

He ignores the look Abby keeps giving him and avoids the how are you doing talk like a fucking pro. He doesn’t need to talk about his feelings ever, let alone with Abby Sharp.

“How’s Peeks?” Sharpy asks, when Jonny’s pulling on his coat to leave.

Jonny huffs. “You don’t text him yourself?”

“He’s been suspiciously silent on his well being,” Sharpy says with a frown. “Usually I can’t shut him up.”

Jonny shrugs. Whatever’s happening between Sharpy and Patrick isn’t any of his business. “Let me guess, you chirped him about the photo?”

Sharpy looks positively gleeful. “It was a thing of beauty, Tazer, you can’t expect me to pass that up!”

“I remember,” Jonny says darkly, thinking of his own barrage of texts and chirping. “Maybe he’s just giving you the silent treatment.”

Sharpy narrows his eyes. “Peeks would never-“

“I don’t know,” Jonny says, smugly. “He’s talking to me just fine.”

Sharpy narrows his eyes. “I do not appreciate this new tone of yours, Tazer. Non-hockey related smugness does not suit you.”

Jonny doesn’t bother gracing that with a reply. He kisses Abby on the cheek, waves at Maddy and claps Sharpy on the shoulder. “Don’t sweat it, Sharpy. You couldn’t always be Kaner’s favrite.”

He turns to leave but still hears Sharpy’s muttered, “I was never his favorite.”

coming home with presents for you, Patrick sends the next evening. Jonny’s not waiting for the next morning or anything, he just can’t sleep is all. It’s happened before.

Mom says she’s got yours when we go to Winnipeg. Jonny didn’t actually speak with her, choosing instead to text her because it’s not that he’s scared of what his mom has to say, just that he was really busy at the time, okay?

I GET PIE TOO?!?!?!?!? when r we going 2 winnipeg?

Jonny rolls his eyes. Whenever we have time. If this lockout continues, pretty fucking soon, he thinks viciously.

TOMORROWW!!!!!!! is the last text he gets before he finally gets into bed and tries to sleep.

---

Patrick really, really hates O’hare on any day, but even more so when people won’t get out of his fucking way when he’s laden down with two suitcases. He has a cap jammed low over his forehead and, even if that didn’t stop him from getting stopped twice by enthusiastic fans he tries really hard to smile for, he just wants to get out of the mass of people and find Jonny.

The crowd spills out into the arrivals hall and he gives the room a quick cursory scan before he picks out Jonny in the mess of people. He’s bending down to talk to some kid in a Hawks jersey, of fucking course, but that just means Patrick’s smiling as he makes his way over.

The kid’s mouth drops open as Patrick comes to a stop next to Jonny, letting both suitcases come to rest behind him. “Hey.”

Jonny’s head snaps up and he’s grinning, loose and easy and Patrick just really, really wants to kiss him.

“Ohmygosh,” the kid says. “Patrick Kane!”

Patrick nods. “Hey. How’s it going, little man?”

“Can you sign this for me please?” The kid holds out his little notepad and a pen and Patrick takes them eagerly, signing next to Jonny’s name. “Are you going to play real soon?”

“We hope so, buddy,” Patrick says, as he hands over the pen and pad. “You watching?”

The kid nods eagerly. “I always do!”

Jonny nods, like this is a good thing and the kid looks even more starstruck, if possible. Just as Patrick’s about to ask another question, the kid’s mother, who’s been hovering just out of the way, comes forward.

“I’m so sorry if he interrupted you coming home,” she says, looking pointedly at Patrick’s cases.

He’s a little taken aback at first and then realises what she’s saying. He hopes he’s not blushing. God, that would be embarrassing. “It’s fine.”

“Well, thank you,” she says, smiling. “I think it’s great, what you did. And I wish you luck for the next season.”

“Uh, thanks,” Jonny says, as she guides her son away. He looks at Patrick and hesitates before he curls his hand around the back of Patrick’s neck. “Hey.”

Patrick peers up at Jonny from beneath the rim of his cap. Things are a little awkward and he’s all too aware that the last time they were in an airport like this, they kissed and got themselves plastered over magazines and the internet. “Not here, yeah?”

Jonny nods, and of course he’s already thought about this. “Home?”

Home,” Patrick moans, the best fucking thing he’s heard all day.

Usually the drive home would take too long, especially when neither of them are saying anything, but Jonny picks the radio stations, raising his eyebrows when Patrick snorts at his choice of music. He’s happy enough to be in the same car as Jonny, watching Chicago roll past the windows rather than a European city he doesn’t care to know. It doesn’t stop him wanting to kiss Jonny again, to give into the impulse when they pull into their designated parking spot and reach across to pull Jonny into a quick kiss. He stops himself.

“I wanna kiss you so fucking bad, man,” Patrick says. “But I don’t want want this shit to end up as news.”

The expression on Jonny’s face is sad for a moment before it clears and he nods. “We’re in a parking lot. I think we’re safe enough here.”

“No PDA in public.” Patrick drops his head back against the headrest. “And in front of the guys?”

This time Jonny looks a little horrified. “No way.”

“Ever?”

Jonny’s expression is serious. “You - want that?”

Patrick shrugs. He doesn’t know. Maybe if he could believe it meant everything. Maybe then. “Yeah, maybe. I don’t know, dude.”

“We’ll talk about it later,” Jonny says, and rests a hand on Kaner’s thigh. “Yeah?”

“Sure, whatever.” Patrick turns his head, half-smiles at the look on Jonny’s face. “I still really wanna kiss you.”

Jonny eyes are way too fucking dark. “Don’t start what you can’t finish, Kaner.”

“I can finish,” Patrick leers. “Right here.”

Jonny snorts at that, squeezes Patrick’s hand. “As if the first time I fuck you after our wedding night is going to be in this car. Get your ass out, Kaner.”

Patrick really likes the sound of that and groans. God, he can’t even believe this is happening. He pinches himself as Jonny climbs out of the car just to make sure and, yeah, it’s really happening.

Jonny demands they take Patrick’s cases up because he is the fucking worst, and Patrick complies because he knows Jonny and knows the threat of nothing happening if they stay in the trunk is a legitimate one. They ride up to their apartment in silence, although Jonny makes a point to press against Patrick’s side, to rest his hand on Patrick’s hip and lean down to suck at the skin just below Patrick’s earlobe. He’s a fucking asshole and Patrick melts into it, moaning because he can’t stop himself - that spot is just really, really good for Patrick.

“Jonny, fucking stop.” He shoves Jonny away, licks his lips. “Not fair.”

Jonny’s smirking like the asshole he is and doesn’t move away, not even as they roll the cases up to the door and Jonny reaches for his keys. God, Patrick’s so fucking turned on now that he knows he’s getting it, that he can have this when he’s spent so long thinking he can’t.

Patrick shuts the door and then Jonny’s on him, pressing him up against the wall and kissing him like Patrick’s been gone for months, like they didn’t see each other for Patrick’s birthday. He’s got one hand on Patrick’s throat, thumb resting against the curve of his jaw and the other on his hip, thumb slipping beneath Patrick’s hoodie and t-shirt to rub at the skin of his hipbone.

“Jonny,” Patrick whines against Jonny’s mouth, his own hands fisted in the front of Jonny’s shirt. “Jonny, Jonny, I want-“

Jonny pulls away and his eyes are so dark that Patrick can’t help staring at him. His hairs a little dishevelled from the way he’s been pushing against Patrick’s cap, lips swollen from their kissing. He’s all Patrick’s.

“Fuck,” he says, leaning up to kiss Jonny again, biting at his lower lip. He can be as pushy as Jonny, wants to be as pushy as Jonny because he hasn’t had sex for months, has been so intent on not fucking this up, because he’s wanted it so badly. He doesn’t get to control the kiss for long; Jonny’s hand pulls of his cap and slings it on top of the suitcases they left in the doorway, tilts Patrick’s head back so he can bite a path down Patrick’s jaw and throat.

Patrick’s so hard he thinks he’s going to die if Jonny doesn’t touch him soon, doesn’t do something. “Come on, Jonny, please.”

Jonny spends a moment to suck a bruise into Patrick’s collarbone and Patrick wraps an arm around his neck, fists his hand in Jonny’s hair.

“Asshole, come on, come on.” Patrick head thunks back against the wall as Jonny reaches down between their bodies to cup Patrick through his jeans, work him softly as he licks at the bruises he’s making.

“Jonny, Jonny,” Patrick says, over and over, like he’ll never tire of Jonny’s name. He won’t. His world has narrowed to the feel of Jonny’s hand on his dick, the touch of his tongue to his throat, the expression on his face when he holds Patrick’s gaze.

“You want it?” Jonny leans in to ask, hot breath against Patrick’s ear and it should be gross but Patrick just shoves his hips into Jonny’s hand.

“Of course I fucking want it, asshole,” Patrick gasps out, burying his face in Jonny’s neck. Shit, he’s going to shoot his load in his pants if Jonny doesn’t stop working him like that.

“Maybe I’ll just take you here,” Jonny says, gaining confidence with every word and fuck, fuck, Patrick’s filled with a new appreciation for this side of Jonny; confident and sure in Patrick’s want of him. God, Patrick hates to think what he looks like for that to be the case. Not that it’s wrong. If Jonny turned him around and fucked him against the wall-

His groan turns into a strangled moan as Jonny replaces the hand on Patrick’s dick with his thigh, lets Patrick rub off on him, gasping and muttering Jonny’s name the entire time.

“I don’t wanna - not like this,” Patrick gets out, even as he thrust against Jonny’s leg.

Jonny presses his thumb to the corner of Patrick’s mouth, eyes as intense as they always are, but narrowed a little, like he’s cataloguing Patrick’s reactions. “You can go again,” Jonny says, eventually, certain in a way that drips confidence in Patrick. Patrick moans and jerks his hips, holds for a second because fuck, fuck. “I can fuck you then, in our bed.”

Patrick’s so fucking close to coming. He just needs-

“Get my ring back on your dick, you want that, Patrick?”

Fuck. Patrick shudders, fingers gripping the back of Jonny’s shirt hard as he comes, sticky and wet in his boxers, and shuddering against Jonny’s thigh.

Jonny’s breathing hard in his ear and he has to be just as hard as Patrick was by now, but he just keeps his hand on Patrick’s neck, says, “So fucking hot, Pat.”

Patrick turns his face into Jonny’s neck. “Fucking asshole. Haven’t done that for years.”

Jonny snorts, pushes away from Patrick so that he can kiss him, hot and hard. “Welcome home.”

“It will be home,” Patrick gets out. “When you come, too.”

Jonny’s breath hitches and yeah, Patrick’s fucking got this. He tugs on Jonny’s arm and leads him into the bedroom, feeling disgusting but knowing he’s gonna be naked real soon, and Jonny’ll welcome him home properly.

---

“Fuck.” Jonny rolls onto his back.

Patrick’s pretty sure he replies but his face is pressed into the pillows, melting into the bed because holy fuck.

Jonny sounds amused when he says, “Patrick?”

“Mmmm?” Patrick’s not sure he can remember how to make his mouth work properly. He needs to chirp Jonny or he’ll never hear the end of this but he just really wants to lie here blissed out for a little longer. For someone new to gay sex, Jonny’s second attempt was really fucking great. If Patrick didn’t know him better, he’d think he spent the entire time Patrick was in Switzerland practising or something.

“That good huh?” And yep, there’s the smug tone.

“Asshole,” Patrick says, mostly muffled by the pillows. “Next time I get to fuck you.”

Jonny runs his hand through Patrick’s hair, tugging a little. “Maybe.”

Patrick tilts his head a little, blinking lazily. Whatever, he feels really good and he’s not about to deny it just because it’s Jonny.

“Pitching isn’t just for the captain, Jonny.” He whines, but it’s mostly swallowed up as Jonny kisses him, deep but without any real direction. Patrick could get used to Jonny’s kisses really fucking quickly.

When they finally make it out of the bed, Patrick pulling on a pair of sweatpants that he’s not entirely sure are his own, they head for the kitchen to make food. Patrick’s been hungry since he landed but sex with Jonny was clearly more important. Patrick’s still a little startled by it, by the way he catches Jonny looking at him, really fucking pleased and a little content. It’s everything he’s wanted since he was a rookie and it’s kind of overwhelming.

It’s not bad. Just overwhelming.

Patrick leans forward on the counter, rests his cheek on the cool granite and stares out at the Chicago skyline. “I really missed this,” he says, eventually, refusing to chicken out. It’s easier because he’s not looking at Jonny. “You too, I guess.”

“Yeah?” Jonny says, from the direction of the stove. He’s smiling, Patrick can tell, and probably wearing that dumb smile. “Not saying I didn’t appreciate the peace and quiet-“

“-asshole-“

“-but I did too. Miss you.”

Patrick doesn’t lift his head but he grins, watches Jonny’s reflection in the window, moving around and cooking them something to eat.

He’s surprised by how much he doesn’t hate the domesticity of it.

They carry the food into the living room, because the stools are really uncomfortable after sex, and Patrick’s faces of discomfort grow steadily until Jonny takes his plate out from under him and carries it into the living room. “Come on.”

“Best husband,” Patrick mutters as he follows, frowning because something feels off.

He’s standing in the middle of the room, trying to figure out what it is. He gets an odd look from Jonny. “What?”

“There’s something different,” Patrick says. He knows he’s right when Jonny’s face looks a little weird. “What did you do?”

Jonny shrugs and flicks on the TV. Patrick’s head turns towards it and he knows.

Jonny..”

Hanging on the wall above the TV are their engagement hockey sticks, one above the other, Jonny’s on top because he has problems even in home decorating, but they’re mounted on the wall.

“You-“

“They were getting in the way,” Jonny says, dismissively. It’s a lie because Patrick put them in the rack by the window himself, where he was sure they’d stay. Obviously Jonny was really bored over the lockout and needed something to do.

Patrick steps up to them and tilts his head. “Don’t you think it’s a little-“

“No,” Jonny says, cutting across whatever he was going to say. “Do you?”

Patrick doesn’t think it’s anything but really fucking great that Jonny wants to put their marriage on display, even if it’s only in their apartment. It makes Patrick feel like - like this is more real than he even thinks it is.

“You-“

Jonny comes up behind him, wraps an arm around his chest. “Kinda proud of my idea.”

“Asshole,” Patrick says, elbowing Jonny softly enough that it won’t go anywhere. “I think they were my idea.”

“I meant the marriage,” Jonny says, and his voice is right by Patrick’s ear.

God. “Yeah. I guess you can take credit for that.”

Jonny laughs softly, kisses the curve of Patrick’s ear. “You guess?”

Patrick shrugs. “Wouldn’t want you to think I totally approved or anything. Bad for the ego.”

“That right?” Jonny says, turning Patrick around. God, that smile is so fucking dumb Patrick has to lean up to kiss it off his face.

---

They put up the Christmas tree the next day. Patrick’s content to let Jonny do most of the work, watching him from the couch as he moves around the huge fucking tree Patrick didn’t even know could fit in the closet.

Their stockings are hanging on the window by the tree, some cards they’ve already received from family propped up on the counter. Patrick really loves Christmas. He’s not afraid to admit that he’s going to miss his family; this is the first Christmas he hasn’t been around them, but he knows Jonny feels the same and they have each other. He’s looking forward to it, to shit talking as they play each other on the XBox, watching dumb movies and lazing around the apartment as much as possible.

“You gonna help anytime soon,” Jonny asks, looking over his shoulder. He’s not irritated so Patrick shrugs.

“Kinda like the view from here, man.” Patrick leers, smirking when Jonny rolls his eyes and turns back to the tree.

He’s blushing a little, red creeping up his neck and that just makes him hotter. Patrick rests his feet on the edge of the table.

“We can put the presents under, right?”

Jonny snorts. “Should have known you’d be a kid about this. Yes, Patrick, we can put the presents under.”

Patrick shrugs. “Whatever. Christmas is fucking great, dude. The only holiday better is-“ He pauses to think about it. “Nope. Snow and presents and music, dude. Fucking awesome.”

The look on Jonny’s is still sort of new but Patrick’s seen it a couple of times and he knows what it is; a soft kind of contentment that’s still a little startling. It’s a big fucking thing and Patrick knows they should talk about it, wants to tell Jonny I love you but he’s not sure he’s capable of hearing anything less than the same back.

When Jonny’s done and he drops onto the couch next to Patrick, Patrick immediately shifts until his head is in Jonny’s lap and his feet are tucked under the arm. He thinks he can almost believe that Jonny will say it back in moments like this, with just the low murmur of the music, their apartment feeling really Christmassy and it’s just them. He never gets around to it, doesn’t want to break the comfortable silence between them because it’s the best it’s been.

Jonny’s hand comes up into his hair. Patrick’s not going to complain if it’s turned into something unconscious that he does now. He pushes into it and Jonny responds by threading his fingers through it. “What we doing tomorrow?”

“You’re helping me cook dinner,” Jonny says, lips curving into a smile. “Apart from that, whatever you want.”

Patrick closes his eyes because someone’s fingers scratching against your scalp is a really great feeling. “You’re kinda okay, I guess.”

Jonny laughs and Patrick feels the rumble of it where his face is pressed against Jonny’s stomach. “I’m the best thing you’ve got.”

Patrick opens his eyes, giving Jonny what he’s sure is the ridiculous one-sided smile he only gets around Jonny. He doesn’t say anything, wants to, wants to say yeah, you kinda are, but he doesn’t.

That night before they go to sleep, Patrick slips beneath the covers and settles between Jonny’s legs. Jonny’s peering down at him, eyes wide and mouth open a little. It’s the first time Patrick’s blown him, not that he hasn’t wanted to. He takes Jonny in one hand, works him to fully hard in a couple of strokes and Jonny lets out a low groan, closes his eyes and sinks into the mattress.

Patrick given a couple of blowjobs but not for a long time; he’s careful of his teeth but learns quickly the things Jonny likes and the things he doesn’t. He knows how much Jonny likes his hands, has commented offhandedly enough about them on the ice and he makes a point to use his free hand to trail up the inside of his thighs, the other curled around the base of Jonny’s dick.

He bobs his head tracks the rise and fall of Jonny’s chest, the choked off moans that turn into a long continuous stream of curses and Patrick’s name and he gives Patrick a seconds warning before he’s coming.

Patrick swallows, works Jonny through it, stroking up to and through Jonny’s breathy whimpers to cut it out. When he does pull off, swiping at the corner of his mouth with his thumb, Jonny’s looking at him with eyes that are a little crazy even though he’s just come, and he pulls Patrick up and into a kiss, tongue thrusting like he can’t get enough of tasting himself in Patrick’s mouth. Patrick goes with it, is hard because he fucking loves giving blowjobs, whatever, and once Jonny’s hand wraps around him, twisting his wrist in the best possible ways, Patrick’s coming on Jonny’s thigh and his own stomach and god, he fucking loves Jonny, okay?

He thinks he mumbles it into Jonny’s shoulder but Jonny just says, “What?” and Patrick’s asleep before he can repeat himself.

---

Patrick wakes up feeling sticky and gross and needing to pee, but he’s got Jonny’s face mashed into his shoulder for a change and he’s dead to the world.

Patrick’s not going to be so solicitous in a couple of minutes when he really needs to pee, but for the moment he’s content to ignore how much he needs a shower and watch Jonny sleep. It’s still a little bit creepy but they’re married so there’s probably like, a little bit of leeway there. If there isn’t well, tough, Jonny’s just really fucking great to look at. Even when he’s pissed off on the ice, screaming at them to get it to together and smacking his stick into the boards. It’s not a tantrum-y way like some players behave, but more in a “I know you’re better than this, assholes, stop letting me down,” kind of way. Letting Jonny down isn’t like, kicking puppies or whatever. It’s more like disappointing yourself. Which makes sense to Patrick, so.

He really needs to pee. He shoves Jonny off of him and watches the fucker roll over and bury his face in the pillows, still fast asleep. Rolling his eyes and grabbing a pair of sweatpants, Patrick heads to take a shower.

Just to be a dick, and because he wants to open his presents, he leaves the door open and sings O Christmas Tree at the top of his lungs in the same, tone-deaf way he sang on that stupid Hawks video.

He grins in surprise when Jonny pads into the bathroom, glowering at him through the stall door. “Morning sunshine.”

“I fucking hate you,” Jonny snaps, and just keeps staring.

“You wanna come in?” Patrick’s smirk softens into a smile, because whatever, Jonny just looks really dumb and attractive, even when he’s just woken up.

Jonny screws up his face. “No. I’ll take one after. Hurry the fuck up.”

“Yes dear,” Patrick says, tipping his head back to rinse out the shampoo. When he looks back at the door, Jonny’s still standing there watching, except he’s leaning against the wall and looking steadily more awake. “What?”

Jonny smirks this time and god, if Patrick knew this would wake Jonny up faster he’d have done this during their road trips. Okay so he wouldn’t have, and even though he knows the effect it has now, he probably still won’t. It’s nice to think about.

“Seriously, I might charge if you stare any longer.”

Raising an eyebrow, Jonny just brings his left hand up, plays with the ring on his finger because he’s an asshole. “Thinks this gives me free admission.”

Patrick laughs at that. “Oh my god, shut up you idiot.”

He doesn’t bother shutting off the water, just slips out and grabs a towel from the rack. Jonny kisses him as he passes, biting at Patrick’s bottom lip and then letting go and stepping into the shower.

Patrick’s still smiling when he’s made it back out into the living room, sinking into the couch and waiting for Jonny to join him. He’s gotta stop grinning like such an idiot before they have to start interacting with people but here, at home, Patrick’s going to indulge.

The day moves slow and awesome. They open the presents from their families on the couch, wrapping paper littering the floor and Patrick revelling in how well his sisters know him,

and how weird David is.

Patrick holds up the moose socks and stares at Jonny. Jonny’s lip twitches but he shrugs. “I didn’t ask what he was buying.”

Patrick narrows his eyes. “Oh, I see how it is, Toews.”

“Are you talking to me?” Jonny asks but he knows full well Patrick means David, so Patrick ignores him.

“I need to buy him something obnoxiously American to counteract these monstrosities.”

“Big word there, Kaner. And I bet you ten dollars you’ll be wearing them by the end of the day.”

Patrick laughs. “Fools bet, Jonny.” He shakes Jonny’s hand, content that by the end of the day, he’ll be one up on David Toews and ten dollars richer.

Patrick’s sisters have showered Jonny with clothes - obviously they know as well as Patrick how badly Jonny needs to expand his wardrobe so that Patrick can expand his - and obviously his mom probably told them what he’d said about their shopping trip.

Patrick’s kind of nervous about giving Jonny his gift but he wants to wait for the evening. It feels like an evening gift or something.

Jonny, likewise, seems content to wait to give Patrick his gift. Not that Patrick’s expecting anything but Jonny doesn’t forget shit like this.

Sharpy’s gift is completely inappropriate because he’s Sharpy and Patrick’s pretty sure Jonny’s burying the handcuffs at the bottom of the closet never to be seen again. Abby has more tact and her gift of furniture store vouchers are pretty great, not that Patrick knows what he’s going to do with them. When he looks at Jonny, Jonny just shrugs and looks shifty.

“What? Jonny, what?” Patrick pokes him in the thigh. “What aren’t you telling me, asshole?”

“You’ll see,” is all Jonny will say and Patrick spends the next ten minutes glaring at the side of his face before he gives up and heads for the kitchen. He’s getting hungry and he can’t wait for their dinner.

It won’t be the same as his mom’s cooking because what is, but Jonny’s a pretty competent cook and he refuses to fail at anything, so the turkey will come out looking perfect or find itself flying out the window and landing on some unsuspecting passerby.

Patrick really hope it cooks.

Unfortunately, for all that Jonny has a perfectionist streak, the turkey comes out blacker than intended and it’s all they can do to scrape off enough to make turkey sandwiches.

Patrick finds it pretty fucking hilarious even as Jonny’s cursing and stabbing the turkey at intervals as he tries to tear off edible chunks.

They eat the sandwiches at the table, Patrick hooking their ankles together and grinning. “It’s fine, Jonny. We can grab takeout this evening or something.”

Jonny scowls. “I don’t know what went wrong.”

“Well,” Patrick says carefully. “Next year you can try again.”

It takes a moment, but Jonny looks over. “Yeah?”

Patrick snorts. “Unless you’re planning on like, divorcing me any time soon, I’d say yeah.”

Jonny settles down after that and, once they’re done with the sandwiches, they leave the mess in the kitchen for later - even though Patrick knows fat is a bitch to clean off a tray if left for too long - and Jonny tells Patrick to wear something warm and get ready to go out.

Patrick stares out the window, at the fine spread of snow that’s still falling and wrinkles his nose. “Really?”

Jonny smirks. “You want your present or no?”

“I knew it, asshole!” Patrick says, punching Jonny in the arm and going to do as he says.

---

“You taking me on a Christmas stroll?” Patrick asks, burying himself deeper in his jacket and sticking his gloved hands in his pocket.

Jonny’s watching him with narrowed eyes, and pulls him in, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and tucking him up against Jonny’s body. Patrick allows it, relishes the heat coming off of Jonny’s body like he’s a personal furnace or something, and kind of likes the walk.

The drive up to Warren Park was pretty chill and Patrick’s never been here before, so it’s cool. To be honest, he hasn’t explored much of Chicago beyond the ice rinks and travelling to the other guys’ houses and downtown Chicago. It’s kind of nice in the snow, cold but great and, when Jonny pulls their skates out of the trunk, Patrick lets out a slow breath and grins. “Did you bring me on a skating date?”

“You’re an asshole,” Jonny says fondly, but he tucks Patrick under his arm and they make their way towards the outside rink.

It’s busy, but it’s Christmas, so they’re not too worried. Patrick hopes that means they don’t stand out like a sore thumb. Maybe he can fake how well he can skate or something.

“Lace up, and lets get out there.” Jonny says, sitting down on the ground which is covered in snow.

“I’m not nursing you if you get sick.” There’s not much room for them to change anywhere else, so Patrick drops down next to him with a long suffering sigh. He laces up quickly, and takes Jonny’s proffered hand to stand up.

They step out onto the ice and it’s not so bad. Jonny looks like a fucking kid to be on the ice after so long off it and Patrick lets himself look. Jonny’s got a hold of his hand and, with their caps and hoods up, he’s pretty sure they’re not too noticeable. He’s not dumb, he knows they’re pretty well known around Chicago, but he likes to think people will leave them alone.

They skate around the pond, pretty close, and chirping each other about skating skills - Patrick making quips about Jonny being rusty and Jonny calling him an asshole. The suns been setting for a while and the park looks really kind of great in the low light. Patrick’s grip on Jonny’s hand tightens a little and Jonny turns to look at him, spinning Patrick around so that he’s skating backward.

“If I fall over, you’re going down too,” Patrick says, lifting their hands.

“You’re not going over,” Jonny says confidently, wrapping a hand around Patrick’s waist. It’s an awkward angle and Patrick probably is going to fall over, but they slow down a little and they’re close, really close, Jonny’s face inches from Patrick’s. He knows people are looking at them and that they’ve probably been recognised but he hopes they’ve been in the news enough by now that this isn’t anything new. Patrick just wants to not care. He smiles up at Jonny, presses up and catches Jonny’s lips in a quick kiss, even though he knows they spoke about this and public PDA is out. He just wants and Jonny can always push him away if he doesn’t like it. “Merry Christmas, Jonny.”

Jonny’s cheeks are red and warm and the smile on his face is really awesome because Patrick put it there. “Merry Christmas, Peeks.”

Patrick’s laugh is quick and sharp, and he punches Jonny in the arm. “Asshole.”

Jonny grins as he lets Patrick turn around, but keeps his arm around Patrick’s chest, skates right behind him and jesus, Jonny’s intent on having them fall over or something. Patrick keeps skating anyway and, if he looks a certain way, it’s almost as if they’re the only ones on the rink.

He knows this isn’t true. When he turns his face to look at Jonny again, as Jonny’s leaning in to catch Patrick’s earlobe in his teeth, he sees one of the girls with her phone out. He squeezes Jonny’s hand. “Hey, think we’re being filmed or something,” he says, knowing it’s going to end up on youtube or someplace, and wants to leave before they give anything away.

Jonny nods, looking at the girl with an odd expression on his face. “Okay. We can grab dinner on the way home.”

They climb off the ice, having to stop twice to sign autographs, but they manage to get away quickly and back into the warmth of the car.

“Thanks,” Patrick says, buckling up. “That was awesome.”

“Yeah.” Jonny sounds self-satisfied. “I do have great ideas.”

Patrick rolls his eyes but doesn’t comment, doesn’t say anything the entire ride back into town. “You want take out?”

Jonny nods. “Chinese?”

Patrick doesn’t care what it is as long as he can eat it. They pick it up from a 24 hour place halfway between Warren Park and home and, thankfully, it’s still hot when they get back to the apartment. Patrick’s cradling the hot food in his arms as Jonny opens the door and tells Patrick to dish it out. He disappears in the direction of the bedroom.

Patrick shrugs and pulls the cartons from the bag, grabbing cutlery from the drawer and carrying it into the living room.

“You wanna watch something?” He calls through to the bedroom and gets only a muffled affirmative in response. He chooses Miss Congeniality, which is guaranteed to tug Jonny’s heartstrings even if he’ll claim otherwise, and settles on the couch. He remembers Jonny’s present a second later, which is probably what Jonny’s gone to do, and heads for the bedroom.

“You still in here?” Patrick pokes his head around the door just as Jonny straightens up and steps out of the closet. What the hell. Patrick’s been grabbing clothes from there all the time and he never once spotted his present.

Damn. He glowers at Jonny who just shrugs smugly. “Not my fault you’re oblivious, Kaner,” he says, hip checking Patrick as he passes. Still cursing his own stupidity, Patrick heads for the case he still really needs to unpack and grabs the gift he made for Jonny over the holidays.

They settle in the living room, sitting on a pile of cushions on the floor instead of the couch, so they don’t have to reach far for the cartons on the coffee table. Their focus isn’t really on the movie, they’re half-eating food, half trying not to be shifty about the gifts they’ve laid on the table.

Jonny breaks first; he throws his chopsticks back in the carton, says, “Fuck it,” and hands Patrick his gift.

Patrick isn’t graceful as he tears the paper off, still chewing on a pot sticker. The box in his hands it plain, A4 sized, and Patrick doesn’t know what to expect when he lifts the lid.

He knows it’s a contract, he’s seen enough in his life to know that, but it’s what it says that has him freezing up, mouth falling open which he knows is gross, okay, but fucking Jonny.

“Are you fucking serious?”

Jonny looks torn between disgust and apprehension but his face smooths out into his usual expression. “You don’t want it?”

Want it? Patrick grabs the contract out of the box and waves it between them. “Want it?! You bought me an apartment, Jonny. What the fuck even.”

“Technically,” Jonny says calmly, and how the fuck can he be calm when Patrick is holding a contract to a condo in his hands that is bought, paid for and Patrick’s, holy fuck. “I bought us an apartment.”

“Oh jesus,” Patrick says. This is so fucking - “But this-“

“Is small for us,” Jonny says with a shrug like it’s normal to buy your husband a condo after six months of marriage. No big fucking deal. “I thought we could have somewhere bigger. For, you know, two people.”

“This is Hoss’ old apartment,” Patrick says, faintly. Remembers what it looks like and fuck, it has a hot tub. He shakes his head to clear it, the contract is getting scrunched up in his hands and oh god, Jonny bought him a condo in Chicago. “I- is this about the home thing?”

Jonny meets his eyes then, serious and still so fucking calm. Patrick forces himself to take a few deep breaths, how can this be anything less than Jonny saying he loves him?

“Do you-“ Patrick starts, then waves the contract a little. “Is this you-“

“You wanted a home in Chicago, right? Told your mom that?”

Patrick looks him in the eye, wants to know if this is about them or about Jonny giving it to him because it will look good. Patrick wants it to be about them because they’re sleeping together and Jonny seems like it- just bought him a condo. He needs to ask, needs to say something, but then Jonny frowns.

“Is it not good?”

“It is,” Patrick nods, feels something tight in his chest as he lurches forward, spilling the contents of Jonny’s carton all over the floor but fuck that, he has a condo. “You’re so fucking-“ he says, before cutting himself off by kissing Jonny.

He can’t stop once he starts, practically clambers over Jonny to keep kissing him, one hand still holding the contract, the other on the back of Jonny’s neck.

When he finally pulls back, Jonny’s smiling, more natural than smirk. “Merry Christmas?”

“Yes, you asshole,” Patrick says, fondly. “Oh, wait.” He leans across to grab his own gift from the table which- “This is going to pale in comparison to yours, but-“

Jonny gives him a sharp look and takes the gift anyway.

He unwraps it carefully and Patrick can’t watch his reaction, pretends to read the contract that he doesn’t really understand because his mind is on Jonny not being disappointed with his present.

“Patrick.”

Patrick keeps looking at the contract, knuckles white around the paper. What the fuck, ever. If he’d had enough time, he could totally have come up with a condo instead of whining at his mother, who called Andree, who called Patrick with the perfect gift. But now he has a condo and Jonny has a-

Patrick.

Patrick looks up and Jonny looks, he looks pleased.

He’s holding up Patrick’s mock airline ticket like it’s a prize and waves it in Patrick’s face. “So, you’re not going to complain if I like, choose somewhere with like, a lot snow?”

“Nope,” Patrick says, knowing he’s smiling so hard his dimples have to be fucking showing and Jonny is the worst. But also the best. “Not even then.”

“A vacation,” Jonny says. “Anywhere.”

“Yes,” Patrick shrugs. “Anywhere, for however long you want, whenever you want to cash it in.”

Jonny’s eyes are soft and warm and fuck, fuck.

“Well, then,” Jonny says, leaning in to kiss him. “I’d say our presents are pretty even.”

It’s a little harder to settle down and watch the rest of the movie after that, but Patrick likes to think they make a gallant effort. He pulls on the socks David got him - reluctantly because this means he loses the bet - and just complains that none of his socks are warm enough. Jonny smirks anyway, mocking him fairly sufficiently and then demanding his ten dollars before they climb into bed.

“I hate you,” Patrick says, burrowing under the covers and giving Jonny the evil eye.

“I have proof that says different,” Jonny retorts, smugly.

Patrick can’t really refute that. He can turn his back on Jonny, though, and refuses to turn around for at least half an hour before he shivers, gives up on being difficult,and turns back into Jonny and his abnormal body heat.

“Better,” Jonny says, and Patrick doesn’t even mind the smug tone he uses, or the hand he has stroking through Patrick’s hair as he falls asleep.

Patrick gets asked by Brisson whether or not he’s going back to Switzerland just before the end of the year. He thinks about it for a long time. He doesn’t talk about it with Jonny because he doesn’t want to hear Jonny tell him it’s a good idea to go. He gives Brisson a statement: “I’m here to support my husband until the lockout ends.” He decides no matter what, he needs to be here with Jonny, that they need to talk about things and get them settled.

Before they can, before he can work himself up into the right frame of mind to do so, Jonny gets official notification from the NHLPA that a tentative agreement between the two parties has been agreed and all Jonny can think is hockey.

Chapter Text

The best Christmas present, however belated, comes during the beginning of the New Year, after Patrick and Jonny have done the customary parental visits.

Jonny spends time getting showered with love and affection from Patrick’s family and he’s a little weirded out by all the attention, but he knows they missed Patrick, so he endures it stoically. Erica’s warmed up to him over the last few months and Jonny’s kind of thankful for it. He knows she and Patrick spoke about something when they first arrived, the two of them going off somewhere for long enough that Jonny started to get worried. He managed to distract himself by talking to Jessica, who’s getting seriously involved with a boyfriend from college who doesn’t sound like a great guy at all, but Jonny’s not about to like, go all postal on someone he doesn’t know.

Eventually Patrick and Erica come back, and whatever they say does good for Jonny, too, apparently because she immediately hugs him and tells him he’s the, “Best fucking husband.”

Jonny’s a little startled and looks over her shoulder to where Patrick’s grinning like an idiot so Jonny hugs Erica quickly and says, “Great?”

“You’re so fucking awkward,” Patrick says, when they finally climb into bed that evening.

“Whatever. I didn’t even do anything and she was mad at me.”

Patrick looks a little shifty, ducking Jonny’s gaze and shrugging as he throws the covers back. “I don’t know, man. She’s just super protective sometimes.”

Jonny accepts that, even though he’s sure there’s something else. He’s not going to interrogate Patrick on why his sister doesn’t like him because whatever, Jonny doesn’t care that much.

When they finally make it to Winnipeg, and to the pie Patrick’s been raving about for fucking ever, Jonny’s glad to see his parents.

Andree fusses over Patrick (of course) and Jonny’s dad is pretty chill about everything, and David’s still around, chirping Patrick over his socks, and looking at the stuffed toy eagle Patrick bought him in disgust.

“You’re not funny,” David says.

“Am too,” Patrick says around a mouthful of pie. “Ask Jonny.”

“Hilarious,” Jonny deadpans, and goes back to reading his magazine.

It’s a good trip but it feels even better to get back to Chicago. They rope in some of the other guys to help move their furniture across from one place to the other, deciding to buy a whole new bed and sectional because Patrick’s adamant that he wants to use his vouchers and he wants a new couch. Jonny gives in on the proviso that he not accompany Patrick to Ikea(?) and lets Abby go with him instead.

“So domestic,” Sharpy says, standing in the middle of the new condo and admiring ir with satisfaction. “My little rookies, all grown up.”

Ignoring Stalberg’s snigger, Jonny punches Sharpy in the arm. “We’re not your anything. And we’re not domestic.”

“Pretty sure buying him a condo is somewhat domestic,” Kruger puts in unhelpfully. “Sorry, Tazer.”

“Whatever,” Jonny says. “There’s more furniture, move.”

Crow turns up towards the end of the day, not even bothering to make excuses, but staying to at least help set up the new bed. When they’re done, and the six of them are scattered around the sectional and chairs in the living room, he looks at Jonny and says, “You’re happy?”

Tazer knows from intense and Crow’s looking a little crazy. He is a goalie, so there’s some amount of explanation right there, “Yes?”

“You?” He turns his gaze on Patrick’s who’s spent his whole NHL career facing down Jonny and his so-called crazy-eyes so he just shrugs and says, “Yes.”

“Good. I gotta get out of here.”

Jonny’s not entirely sure he understands what that’s about, but Crow’s a pretty weird guy.

Stalberg rolls his eyes. “Probably would have killed one of you for saying no.”

“Shut up Stals,” Patrick says, kicking Stalberg’s ankle from his perch on the arm of the sectional. “Crow’s just looking out for his best teammates.”

“But he didn’t ask me,” Sharpy says with a grin and totally deserves the dead arm Jonny gives him.

Eventually the guys leave and it’s just Jonny, Patrick and their new condo.

“We ready for this?” Patrick asks, staring out at the skyline which is, thankfully, still impressive.

“Yes,” Jonny answers, unquestionably. “If the lockout would end-“

“We’d be fucking grand,” Patrick agrees, resting against Jonny’s side.

Jonny gets the call later that night. Hangs up and stares at Patrick. He doesn’t know what’s on his face because Patrick doesn’t even have to ask, just grins wide and stupid.

“We got it?”

“48 games,” Jonny says, hardly daring to believe it. “Oh my god.”

“Jonny,” Patrick says, grabbing his arms and shaking him a little. “You fucking did it, Jonny. You did it.”

Jonny can’t say anything, just kisses Patrick because it feels so much better than talking. He has hockey, and Patrick and he feels better than he has in months.

---

They go out to Rockit for a couple of drinks with the guys to celebrate. Jonny and Patrick are paying, but manage to get out of going up to the bar by sliding into the centre of the booth, Jonny’s arm almost immediately draping over Patrick’s shoulders. It’s nice to be back with the guys, catching up despite seeing each other a couple of times over the lockout, and taking part in informal practices. It’s the first time Patrick’s really had a chance to talk with them and Jonny’s content to sit back and tune everyone out, feel the occasional shift of Patrick’s body under his arm, and try not to drink too much to quickly.

Jonny’s money keeps the drinks flowing fairly frequently - he’s feeling fairly charitable and even waves of Sharpy when he tries to buy a round.

“On me,” he says.

Sharpy raises an eyebrow. “Usually we’d have to pry open your wallet with a crowbar. What gives, Toes?”

Jonny frowns. “I buy rounds,” at the same time Patrick snorts. “He got hockey back.”

Jonny can’t refute that, so he doesn’t say anything, just hands Sharpy a few twenties and looks pointedly at the bar.

“We are going to make you get a round,” Sharpy mutters as he walks away.

“Krugs would have to move,” Patrick laments, even though Sharpy’s long gone.

Kruger just rolls his eyes, and drains the last of his beer. “Who am I to deprive Kaner of watching your ass walk away?”

Shawzy groans at that. “Can we not.”

Patrick reaches down between them but before he can get anywhere near Jonny’s ass, Jonny grabs his wrist. Patrick doesn’t say anything but he looks startled.

Jonny clears his throat as the silence drags a little. “No,” he says, keeping his tone as light as he can. “Keep your hands to yourself.”

“I’d hate to have to bleach Shawzy’s brain,” Stalberg puts in. “Kid looks like he’s half a second from weeping.”

“I don’t weep,” Shawzy snaps. “Just, seriously, groping.”

Jonny puts his glass back on the table and stares Shawzy down. “Nobody is groping.”

“Not for lack of trying,” Stalberg says, looking pointedly at Patrick’s wrist still in Jonny’s hand.

Sharpy chooses that moment to come back to the table with a tray of shots. He raises an eyebrow. “I leave the table for five minutes and miss the good stuff.”

Shawzy mumbles something Jonny can’t make out into the crook of his elbow but some of the other guys laugh. Jonny gives him what he hopes is a suitably scathing look even though he can’t see him, and grabs one of the shots.

He’s clearly going to need them.

“Take it easy,” Patrick says, amused, when Jonny picks up his third. “I know we’re getting a cab but one of us actually has to be able to get us home.”

Jonny makes a face. He is perfectly capable of getting them home no matter how many shots he’s had. Just because Patrick has no concept of pacing himself, doesn’t mean Jonny is plagued with the same lack of foresight. When he says so, Patrick punches him in the arm.

“Kaner, the responsible one,” Stalberg snorts. “Who’d have thought it.”

Patrick flips him off. “Screw you, I’m plenty responsible.”

As they descend into chirping everything from Stalberg’s scoring ability to Patrick’s hair, Jonny contemplates picking up a fourth shot. He’s reaching across for it, ignoring Sharpy’s amused glance, when someone bumps into the table, spilling some of the drinks and definitely breaking up the conversation.

The guy’s drunk, but his eyes are startlingly clear as he takes in the table. “You’re the hockey guys!”

Jonny settles back in his seat and feels Patrick tense up next to him. Sharpy and Leddy, who happen to be closest to the guy, both nod slowly.

“You a fan?” Leddy asks, cautiously. They’ll sometimes get asked for autographs but more often than not, most people leave them well enough alone.

“Hell no,” the guy sneers. “S’them gay ones I wanna talk to.”

Jonny feels like a bucket of ice has been poured down his back, and hears the breath Patrick sucks in.

“Hey,” Sharpy says. “Looks like you’ve had a few. Why don’t you go find whoever you came with and leave us to our drinks.”

The guy plows on, oblivious to Sharpy. “Don’t need nobody like that playing sports for this country.”

There’s a horrible sort of silence around the table that Jonny knows he has to break. Before he can, Shawzy’s leaning across the table, anger evident in every movement he makes.

“That’s a pretty close minded view, asshole. Besides, it’s none of your fucking business.”

“Shawzy,” Patrick says, voice low but serious. “It’s okay.”

“The fuck it is, Peeks,” Sharpy snaps. He turns to the guy, who’s red in the face and looking like he’s about to reach across the table and punch Shawzy. “I think it’s time you left.”

“We don’t want to fight,” Leddy puts in. “But you approached a table full of hockey players, dude. Bad call on your part.”

Jonny shakes his head. “Nobody’s fighting. We’re not ending up as fucking headlines.”

“Again,” Patrick mutters, but he’s still tense and his fingers are white-knuckled against his glass.

Jonny squeezes his shoulder.

The guy’s face is clearing a little, looking around the table and beginning to realise that he’s not in the best position. “Whatever. Shoulda kept it off the ice. Hockey don’t need people like you.”

“It doesn’t need fans like you,” Sharpy says, glaring at the man’s retreating back.

The silence at the table is awkward and tense and nobody seems to know what to say. Jonny’s a little sick to the stomach and concerned that Patrick’s just staring down into his drink, eyes vacant. He digs into his wallet for some money. “More fucking shots, Sharpy.”

That gets an awkward laugh.

Sharpy looks at Jonny for a long while and then takes the money. “Maybe you should give me an extra twenty. The way you’re tossing ‘em back, Captain.”

This time the laugh is more genuine and Jonny relaxes back against the booth, leans in close to Patrick’s ear.

“Later,” he says.

Patrick looks up but he doesn’t look surprised, just nods in resignation. Jonny doesn’t want to talk about this but if Patrick needs it, wants it, then Jonny’s just going to have suck it up.

They’d planned on staying out a lot later, but the mood of the night has changed and some of the guys start making noises about leaving. Jonny thinks he and Patrick should probably make a move, still uncomfortable about being responsible for the awkwardness.

“Hey,” Sharpy says, when Jonny comes back from the bathroom. “That guy is an asshole. Nobody thinks-“

“Yeah,” Jonny interrupts. “They do. He’s not the only one. Not going to be the only one.”

Sharpy knows this, Jonny can see it on his face, but he still looks determined. “And just like tonight, you’ll have people who’ll stand with you. Fuck, Jonny, you think we’d let that shit happen on ice?”

Jonny blows out a breath. “That’s not it.”

Sharpy nods. “I get it.”

He doesn’t, but Jonny doesn’t say that. Nobody can get it, not really. It’s not about getting shit like that on ice, or having to deal with it when they’re out having drinks at a fucking bar. They didn’t stop being good at hockey just because they stuck rings on their fingers. That’s the bit Jonny doesn’t get; he’s still Jonny.

“Take Kaner home,” Sharpy says, clapping Jonny on the back. “Do whatever it is you co-dependent assholes do in the evening and think about hockey.”

Jonny nods. He’s pretty sure Patrick’s not going to let it go just like that, but he doesn’t tell Sharpy that. “See you at camp.”

“You know it, Captain.” Sharpy tosses him off a sloppy salute and Jonny snorts.

“Patrick,” he says, as he approaches the table. “We’re going home.”

Patrick looks grateful to have an excuse to climb out from between Krugs and Shawzy, and tosses back his drink before standing. “Later losers.”

Jonny surveys the guys still at the table and gives them his best scathing look. “Don’t drink so much you’re still hungover at training camp.”

“That’s in two days!” Shawzy scoffs, waving a hand. He’s been listing slightly to the left for the last half an hour.

Stalberg’s propping him up, looking more amused than put-upon. “Which is as long as it’s going to take to sober you up.”

Shawzy opens his mouth to say something, frowns, and then shrugs, like he forgot what he was going to say.

“Jesus,” Jonny mutters, but he’s horrified to find he’s almost smiling, so he turns his back and only Patrick sees.

“Fucking softie.” Patrick elbows him gently in the side. “Careful, if anyone sees, that’ll be your new nickname.”

Jonny slaps his hand over Patrick’s mouth. “If you shut your mouth, it won’t.”

Patrick wiggles his eyebrows and licks Jonny’s palm.

“Fucking gross,” Jonny snaps, wiping it on his jeans. “Get outside, idiot.”

Patrick grins, but leans against Jonny as they make their way outside to catch a cab.

The cab ride home is quiet and a little tense. Patrick’s got one hand on Jonny’s thigh, scrolling through his phone with the other. “Sam says thanks for single handedly bringing hockey back.”

Jonny snorts. “He’s welcome.”

Patrick taps something out on his screen. “Stop hogging half of Crosby’s credit. He probably guilted them into submission with his fucking sad eyes or something.”

Jonny stares. “Sad eyes.”

Patrick shrugs. “Look, the guy is like the Stanley Cup personified, okay? Dude needs hockey to breathe.”

“I like hockey.” Jonny frowns. “Are you saying I don’t like hockey?”

Patrick grins at him, the fucker. “No, Jonny. But if I had to take sad eyes or your intense creepy be better stare...” Patrick looks at Jonny and draws it out. “You know I’d pick the crazy eyes, dude. You just don’t end with hockey.”

“Do you even know what you’re saying right now?”

“Not a fucking clue,” Patrick admits with a laugh.

Patrick starts to nod off the closer they get to home and when they finally pull up outside the apartment block, Jonny shakes him awake gently. “Up, Patrick.”

“Mmm bed,” Patrick whines, drawing out the word. He manages to stumble out of the cab and onto the sidewalk, jiggling up and down in the cold.

“Idiot,” Jonny says, affectionately, and pays the cabbie before climbing out the same side as Patrick.

“Mmmm I want my nice warm bed,” Patrick says, voice muffled where it’s pressed into Jonny’s shoulder. The elevator seems to take forever to get to their floor but Jonny’s in no hurry. Patrick’s somewhere between buzzed and off his face, and Jonny’s always noted how handsy he gets when he’s drunk, but it feels weird this time, like it’s a little too much for Jonny.

His fingers are hooked in Jonny’s belt loops, and he’s pressing kisses against Jonny’s jaw. He’s not being handsy so much as affectionate and, when Jonny looks down at his face, Patrick’s half-smiling, the dimples prominent. Jonny reaches up to curl a hand around Patrick’s neck.

“What?”

“I don’t care,” Patrick says.

Jonny frowns. “I’m not in your head, Patrick.”

Patrick snorts. “God, that would be terrible. I’m talking about that asshole at the bar.”

Jonny doesn’t want to talk about it and looks away. “He was-“

“Hey,” Patrick says, pushing Jonny’s face back so that he’s looking him in the eye. “He’s not gonna be the only one. We just gotta play great fucking hockey. Show ‘em all marrying you was a fucking great choice.”

“Of course it was.” Jonny drops his gaze the moment he’s able. He’s not sure how he feels about what happened at the bar and he does know they’ve got to show everyone. He just needs to reconcile these two things in his head.

“Fuck you,” Patrick says, hitting Jonny in the chest. “I’m trying to say, asshole, is that - it was an okay choice. I’m not like, rushing to divorce you or anything.”

“Good to know,” Jonny says, dryly. He gets it; they’ll play great hockey, show everyone they’re the same players they always were and just do what they want to do. “We got this, huh?”

“Fuck yeah,” Patrick says, tugging on Jonny’s hand as the doors open. “We’re gonna fucking light it up, Captain Toews.”

---

The training camp lasts for five days and Patrick plays his heart out the entire time. He can see Jonny working just as hard, both of them pushing themselves to their limits in the hope that people will stop talking about their marriage and start focusing back on the hockey.

For all that they’re both sure they’ll light it up, the rumours have already started; reporters running stories that the ‘gay players of Chicago’ are going to have prove their worth and shit that Patrick’s used to reading, but not used to taking to heart quite like this. He knows better, Jonny knows better, but that doesn’t stop it being a problem.

Patrick’s mom calls one night in the week. He’s on the couch with Jonny, laptop propped up on his knees and back pressed to Jonny’s right side. He tips his head back against Jonny’s shoulder and says, “Hi, mom.”

“Hi honey. How’s camp?”

Patrick feels tired right down to his bones; the kind of tired he feels when he knows he’s worked hard and done well for. “Good. We’re playing like we should be.”

“Should be? Patrick, you know-”

“You know what they’re saying, mom.” He feels Jonny tense a little behind him, but the fingers against his chest don’t flex. “The marriage has nothing to do with hockey.”

His mom makes a soft sound into the phone. “I know, sweetheart. You know that, we know that. Everyone knows that, but they’ll drag it up because it’s what they do. You’ll prove them wrong.”

Patrick does know this. He also knows that the stories are going to keep being written because obviously having a whole summer and a lockout to get over a marriage means nothing in the hockey world and it’s just as much news now as it was then. “I just wish-”

Jonny rests his nose against the curve of Patrick’s ear. “Wish what?”

“I’m talking to my mom, fuck you,” Patrick says without heat. Focusing back on his mom, he sighs. “We’re still us.”

“And you’ll show them where it counts, Patrick. On the scoreboard.”

Patrick will. He’ll show everyone that being married - being derisive about them being hockey players, gay and married - doesn’t mean anything in the face of what they can do for the sport of hockey.

They’re showing Q in training; he pulls them aside before they get really stuck in, leans against the boards and doesn’t look at them as he speaks. “How are you guys holding up?”

Patrick opens his mouth to speak but Jonny’s already talking, leaning against his stick and looking down at his skates. “We’re handling it.”

Q nods, like he expected that. “Good. It’s gonna get tougher when we start playing.”

“We know,” Patrick answers quickly. “But we’re not sacrificing anything for hockey - not even at the expense of our rel - of us.”

Jonny nods even though Q’s not looking at them. “We’re good, Coach.”

Another nod. They keep watching the younger guys at it, watching Sharpy mock everyone who crosses his path and Patrick’s missed this - loves being on the ice but loves being on Blackhawks ice even more.

Q finally looks up, then, clapping them both on the shoulder. “You’re doing me proud, both of you.” He looks a little uncomfortable as he says it and it’s a little weird to hear but Patrick preens under it anyway. “We’re looking at switching the lines up.”

Patrick freezes, exchanging a look with Jonny. “Jonny and I?”

For his part, Jonny seems to take it in stride. “We’ve been working with different people out there.”

Q nods. “Just looking at options.”

“Are you telling us for a reason?” Patrick asks, knowing he sounds like a brat.

Thankfully, Q’s used to it. “Like I said, just looking at options.”

Patrick knows that isn’t it, though. He can expect to play games and not being on Jonny’s line and he wants to curse. This is the fucking point. He wants to be on Jonny’s line, it’s how they’ve always worked and he doesn’t know how it’s going to be with someone else. Look at what happened last season. He pastes a smile on his face anyway and nods. “Cool.”

He skates off without waiting for a reply and ignores Jonny when he slaps the back of his legs.

---

They lose Hayes to Rockford, which kinda sucks, but they get Leddy, Oduya and a healthy Montador back. Their roster looks pretty great and Patrick’s feeling good about it, about heading to Los Angeles for their first game against the Kings.

They know as well as anyone that the Kings are going to be playing their best after their Cup win but the ‘Hawks are all determined to shut them down. They don’t have much time to themselves in LA and, due to the new contracts drawn up in the aftermath of the lockout, Patrick and Jonny get a call asking them about their rooming situation.

“You wanna keep rooming together?” Patrick asks, running his phone through his fingers so that he doesn’t have to look Jonny in the eye.

Jonny kicks him in the ankle. He’s bending over the counter, flipping through his paper. “Sure. Why?”

“Well, we don’t have to?” Patrick shrugs. He doesn’t want to admit that he’s worried about the fact that they haven’t been as affectionate as they used to be - haven’t slept together since the night Jonny shut him down after they’d been out for drinks. “Says so in the new contract.”

Looking him in the eye, Jonny’s expression is hard to read. “You don’t want to.”

Patrick rolls his eyes. “I mean, you’re a mouth-breather and you do shit in your underwear - shut the fuck up, you know you do - but I can’t say I hate having you as a roommate.”

“We’d have a fucked up marriage if you did,” Jonny says.

“Word to that,” Patrick mutters. “Fine, I guess rooming together wouldn’t be the worst.”

Jonny nods, turning back to his paper. “We’re married. Don’t they expect this of us?”

Patrick freezes a little, pauses in tapping out a text. What the fuck is Jonny talking about? He thought they were done with expectations and that Jonny was legit about this. He’s not even sure what to make of this. He wants to snap at Jonny, something about being done with what people expect from them, but he’s spent the last two weeks moaning to anyone who will listen about expectations of marriage vs hockey. “Yeah.”

If Jonny notices the lack of inflection in his voice, he doesn’t say anything. He gives Patrick a look but Patrick doesn’t say anything.

Bowman takes their request in stride, and promises to take care of it. Patrick doesn’t care as long as he and Jonny don’t have to get used to sleeping apart again. He doesn’t want to think about the nights he spent in Switzerland being unable to sleep without some contact with Jonny beforehand. He doesn’t know what the fuck is up with that but he’s not going to analyze it too much. He’s having enough trouble focusing on hockey, something Jonny seems intent on, alongside sacrificing focus on them - on the marriage.

Two days before their game, Jonny starts to look a little pale and complains more than usual. Patrick frowns, not sure if he’s just being extra bitchy because it’s the first game or something different. He wakes up groaning and spends the whole day walking around like his body refuses to do what he wants it to do. When Jonny doesn’t finish his dinner, Patrick stands over him, hands on his hips. “Are you sick?”

“No,” Jonny complains, but he still looks pale and refuses to meet Patrick’s eyes.

“Get in bed.” Patrick points into the bedroom.

Jonny scowls. “No.”

“Jonny.” Patrick grabs Jonny’s arms and hauls him off of the chair, propels him towards the elevator. “If you want to play tomorrow, you’ll get into bed.”

“What about-“

“I’m not going to ask again,” Patrick says. “We’re going up to the room and you’re resting, you asshole. “Get changed. I’ll get you some water and something for your headache which you can’t tell me you don’t have.”

Jonny’s expression is petulant. “Taking care of me, Kaner?”

“Screw you.”

Morning skate is weird for Patrick. He leaves Jonny behind and frowns when they get to the rink and there’s a few people standing outside with signs. “What-“

“Ignore it, Peeks,” Sharpy says, throwing an arm over Patrick’s shoulders and leading him into the building. It preys on Patrick’s mind the entire time, enough so that he’s pretty shit during practice. Jonny’s still in bed, still complaining but resting like Patrick told him too, and Patrick’s trying not to worry that he’ll miss the first game – and now he has shitheads standing outside with signs.

Thankfully, by the time he gets back to the hotel room, Jonny’s looking a little better and insisting that he’ll be okay – that he can play. Patrick looks at him, makes him drink a full glass of water and take some more meds. “If you’re feeling better by tomorrow and Q says it’s fine, it’s fine.”

That doesn’t stop Patrick from berating Krugs for giving Jonny the flu and joking that nobody else better get it.

“Like you’re not going to pick it up when you’re sharing a room with Jonny anyway,” Krugs mutters and everyone laughs.

Patrick snorts. It’s not like he and Jonny are kissing or anything, he thinks, scowling into his drink.

By the time the game rolls around, Jonny is looking a little better, even if he’s not a hundred percent. He’s the guy that played through a concussion, though, so Patrick’s going to be watching him like a fucking hawk – no pun intended.

Before they leave for the stadium, they’re told that there’s been added security set up outside the Staples Center in preparation for the picketers that have tripled in size since the practice.

It’s a fucking joke. Patrick feels sick to his stomach as he sits in the locker room. He could hear them as he walked through the corridors and he doesn’t want to, wishes he could scrub it from his brain. He and Jonny are separated in the locker room - something they know is going to roll over into their own locker room, and Patrick knew it was coming. There have always been complaints about reporters having little room to move when they’re doing post-game shit but now that’s it happening, now all this shit is going down outside, Patrick misses Jonny. Not in any co-dependent way, not matter what Sharpy says, the douchebag, but in a way that’s been a constant for five years.

Jonny catches him looking but doesn’t say anything, just nods and gives him a little half smile. It’s supposed to be reassuring but it’s not. Patrick’s sitting next to Shaw, which promises to make his life pretty awesome, but there’s nobody on his other side, which is just as good. Patrick nods at Jonny anyway, and then goes back to focusing on his skates.

"Fuck 'em," Shawzy says, nudging Kaner's elbow. "If they say anything-"

“Relax, Shawzy,” Sharpy says. “You’re like a little terrier.”

“Fuck you, bad enough they call me the mutt,” Shawzy mutters. “Fucking nicknames.”

“Shawzer, I promise, nothing is worse than Peekaboo.”

It’s a lie; there’s nothing worse than Peekaboo in the locker room but when Jonny says it, with that dumb smile like he’s done something great and is waiting for Patrick’s recognition, that’s pretty fucking awesome, not that Patrick will admit that under anything less than torture.

Jonny gives his usual pre-game pep talk but Patrick tunes him out, works himself up to play and breathes, feels like he’s holding his breath right up until he steps out into the stadium and sits on the bench, the roar of Kings and Hawks fans alike settling about his shoulders like a well-worn blanket. It feels a little like coming home.

---

Fuck,” Patrick says, unable to stop grinning as they step off the ice. He hangs back, waiting for Jonny, and hip-checks him as they make their way to the locker room. “Five-Two, Jonny.”

Jonny’s trying to keep his captain face on but they both have a goal and an assist and even Jonny can’t keep the grin off of his face for long. “Tamp it down, Kaner. It’s the first game.”

“Whatever,” Patrick mutters. Jonny’s not fooling him, and they both know it.

During the interviews, Patrick sits there and takes questions as much about their marriage as he does their hockey.

“Does your marriage have anything to do with the way you’re playing?”

“Is there some irony in you and Tazer both getting one goal and an assist?”

“How do you feel about the picketers outside?”

There’s also an entirely inappropriate, “How are you planning to celebrate?”

Patrick looks at her with a scathing look. “No doubt Tazer will want to review the entire game and pick up my faults,” he says with a grin, so they can’t take it the wrong way. Conversation diverts to his hockey, thankfully, but by the time they head for the bus, and have to work their way back through the picketers, Patrick’s in a bad mood. Some of the signs are nasty, and Patrick ducks into the bus as quickly as possible. The mood on the bus is subdued, with everyone shooting looks at Jonny and Patrick both and Patrick has to dig his nails into his leg to keep from snapping at them.

“Fucking fuckers.” He bangs into the room, tossing his suit jacket on the bed and heading for the bathroom. Jonny hovers in the doorway, looking uncertain and it just serves to anger Patrick more. “What the fuck is their problem?”

“Kaner-”

Patrick reaches for his toothbrush, glares at Jonny’s reflection in the mirror. “We get five goals, win the first game of the season and we still have to answer questions about the fucking marriage - then we have to walk through ignorant bastards who can’t mind their own fucking business!”

“It’s the first game,” Jonny says, tone low. “I had to answer questions too. And if I could do anything about the picketers, I would.”

Brushing his teeth, Patrick settles for ignoring Jonny. He’s not sure he wants to do anything less than climb into bed and sleep. Jonny disappears into the main room to do whatever, and Patrick relaxes against the sink, spits and puts his brush back in the holder. He feels the ache and soreness of the game, now, and sleep’s looking really fucking great.

Once he’s showered, he comes out of the bathroom to see Jonny pacing the length of the bedroom, talking on the phone to Andree. Patrick tries not to listen and thankfully it’s a steady stream of French that he doesn’t understand anyway. When Jonny hangs up, he stands at the foot of the bed, looking at Patrick and standing awkwardly, like he’s torn between doing one thing and another.

“What?” Patrick says, eventually, his tone more tired than he wants it to be.

“We’ll show them, Pat.” Jonny grabs Patrick’s ankle and squeezes. “We shouldn’t have to prove shit but we will.”

Patrick shrugs. “We can say that all we like but what’s the fucking point? Everything we do will be measured up against our marriage.”

Jonny’s face shifts into anger and what the fuck, what does he have to be angry about? “So you don’t lie down and take it. You’re better than that, Patrick. Show them for fuck’s sake, show them.”

He lets go of Patrick when it’s clear he’s not going to say anything, and it’s awkward, but he grabs a shirt from his bag and heads into the bathroom. Patrick feels a little shitty for it, so he dicks around on the phone until Jonny comes out.

“Hey,” he says, as Jonny climbs in beside him. “We’ll kill the Coyotes game.”

Jonny frowns a little, searches his face. What he finds must be enough to get his lips to twitch. “That’s what I told you.”

“Alright, asshole.” Patrick shoves Jonny down and manhandles him into a position that’s more comfortable for both of them. “Don’t be so fucking smug.”

“Why?” Jonny’s hand rests on the back of Patrick’s head, brushing through the strands carefully.

Patrick punches him in the shoulder, not enough to bruise, and snorts. “God, go to sleep.”

---

They fly to Phoenix for their game against the Coyotes. When they’re presented with yet more shit in the form of picketers and people being asshats, Patrick just wants to fucking cry. He begs off dinner that night, hides in the bathroom and calls his mom because she’s usually good at this. He cries, of course he fucking does, and she talks him through it, tells him that it will be okay.

“Sweetheart, they just don’t understand.”

Patrick has a hand over his face and he swallows. “I just want to play.”

“I know, darling, I know. You have Jonny.”

“He won’t talk to me.” He doesn’t talk to Jonny either, but he doesn’t know how to say that without blurting everything out. He thought they were better after Christmas, thought this was going to be when they started being a them for real.

His mom lets out a breath. “Then you need to talk to him. Tell him how you feel, and don’t make that noise, Patrick.”

“Why does being gay have to mean I’m hurting people who love hockey?”

“Oh, sweetheart.” His mom doesn’t seem to know what to say after that, so he doesn’t keep her for much longer. Smiles and tells her he’s fine, before hanging up and staring at himself in the mirror. He looks gross, so he splashes water on his face and then leaves, running right into Jonny as he does. Jonny doesn’t have to ask to know, just pulls Patrick into a hug and doesn’t say anything.

Patrick hugs back, buries his face in Jonny’s chest and lets himself have this because he needs it. “Do we have to keep doing this?”

He feels Jonny tense, feels the press of Jonny’s lips to the crown of his head. “If we say anything now-“

Closing his eyes, Patrick swallows. “I know. I just fucking hate this.”

“I trust us, trust that we can do this, Pat.”

They win the game, though the victory is a little hollow as they leave the stadium. Patrick doesn’t harsh the team’s enjoyment, though, tells them he’s going back to the hotel room because scoring two assists is hard work. He gets jeered and laughed at, and feels a little better when he climbs into bed. Jonny’s gone with the guys, which hurts a little, but Patrick’s asleep before he gets back.

Their first game at home is against the Blues, and even there they get told there’s extra security. Patrick ignores it as best he can, throws himself into thoughts about hockey because he’s pretty sure he’s going to go insane if he thinks about anything else. T.J.’s coming in of-fucking-but Patrick can’t bring himself to work up to the usual mocking he does. He and T.J. haven’t exactly been prolific in their contact but they’ve exchanged a couple of texts and Patrick’s feeling pretty solicitous. Enough that he extends an invitation to go out for a couple of drinks after the game ends. T.J. accepts and when Patrick tells Jonny, he gets a surprised look which morphs into one of his comfortable, real smiles.

“I’m going to regret this sometime in life.”

“Probably,” Patrick grins.

They stick to Rockit, their usual club of choice, and thankfully the offer was extended to players from both the Hawks and the Blues. It’s the Blues suffering the loss and not the Hawks, so Patrick’s feeling good enough to throw an arm over T.J.’s shoulders.

“You’re not so bad I guess,” he says, leaning in too close to T.J.’s ear.

T.J. snorts. “That’s a ringing endorsement, thanks Kaner.” He tosses back his shot and waves a hand at the table. “I guess hanging with you guys isn’t the worst decision I made.”

“Damn right it’s not,” Seabs says. He’s looking pretty proud of himself and Patrick thinks he should; his goal was baller. Duncs seems to agree with the amount of drinks he’s been feeding Seabs with a grin on his face.

T.J. flips him the bird. “Screw you, I had a goal.”

“It was okay,” Jonny puts in from Patrick’s left. He’s doing his possessiveness routine, which is weird enough considering the hug in the hotel bathroom is the last time they touched. “Could do better.”

Patrick’s pretty content with the mocking that follows of Jonny’s incessant need to pep everyone into working harder. He drops the arm he has around T.J’s shoulder, but doesn’t lean into Jonny.

“You’re all assholes,” T.J. announces finally, grabbing his wallet. “The last round’s on me.”

A cheer goes up around the table, even the usually taciturn Hossa jeering T.J. as he walks away. Patrick’s trying to feel good about this. He scored a goal and he’s racking up a good amount of points but every time he tries, he thinks about the reporters running stories about the fuss around the stadiums as much as what’s happening in them.

It only gets worse at the next morning’s skate when they realize they have a problem with some of the new guys. It’s not the first time Patrick’s noticed; during training camp he’d seen the way some of the guys had taken the news of the marriage, looking a little uncomfortable with it.

Patrick wouldn’t choose to talk about it, but Jonny’s noticed - of course he has - so, inevitably, Jonny brings it up at the end of practice, the two of them staying out on the ice longer than they should.

Jonny looks angry at himself, but for what Patrick doesn’t know. “This team can’t work if people don’t feel comfortable here.”

“I know that,” Patrick says softly. “What are we supposed to do? Cycle out everyone who doesn’t agree with gay marriage?”

“No.” Jonny gives him a withering look. “We could -”

Patrick snorts. “Talk to them? You offering to actually talk about feelings, who’d have thought?”

Jonny doesn’t reply to that, just smacks his stick against Patrick’s stomach. “This shit is serious, Patrick.”

“I know. You don’t think some of the other guys feel the same? But they get on with it because it’s the fucking job. I don’t want them uncomfortable anymore than you, but they gotta be better at dealing with it.”

Jonny looks surprised. “How compassionate.”

“Fuck you.” Patrick gestures towards the locker room, frustrated. “I’m tired of having to justify my fucking relationship with you to everyone who can’t handle it.”

“Hey,” Jonny says, skating closer to Kaner and gripping the back of his neck. “Patrick.”

Patrick’s anger doesn’t dissipate because touches from Jonny don’t mean too fucking much right now and Patrick doesn’t want to have to talk about this with his teammates. They get enough shit from people who don’t even care about hockey, they just want to comment on the state of two hockey players because they have the gall to be together.

Jonny is saying, squeezing Patrick’s neck. “We ask them what’s up and we talk it out. They’re team, Patrick, they deserve that.”

Patrick lets out his breath, slow and steady. He stares past Jonny’s shoulder. “Fine.”

Once they end up at the bar, Patrick has no clue what he’s going to say. Jonny buys everyone a drink, slides into the booth next to Saad and figures getting them a little tipsy before bringing up the marriage is a good idea.

“I’m a little disturbed this was your idea,” Patrick says. He’s deliberately keeping a little distance between Jonny and himself and keeps his voice low as he speaks.

Jonny rolls his eyes. “This will work.”

“I’m not so sure,” Patrick says, eying their distressingly sober teammates as they drink their way through both his and Jonny’s wallets.

He’s forced to eat his words when, two hours later, Saad is almost sprawled over the table and swiping his finger through the wet ring the glass has made on the taker. “It’s our rookie year, you know? And we like, respect you as a captain.”

Jonny preens. “Thank you.”

“No,” Saad says, waving a hand. “Like, we’re on the gay team. Everyone sees it that way. They talk about it and it’s like, whatever we do is overshadowed by you.”

Brookbank clears his throat. “Hey, Saader, you wanna ease up on the booze?”

“It’s fine,” Patrick says. He pulls the glass away from Saad, though, and shoves it in front of Jonny. It’s nothing he hasn’t been thinking about himself.

Jonny’s looking down at the table and Patrick elbows him. He’s not going to do all the work here. “Do you all feel this way?”

Their silence says enough. Patrick doesn’t really know what to do. He taps his fingers against the table and locks his jaw.

“Are you going to be able to play with us?”

Saad’s head immediately comes up. “Uh, this isn’t me trying to - yes, yes of course.”

Patrick lets out a breath. “It’s already bad though, right? With the picketing and shit.”

Everyone looks at him, including Jonny, and Patrick tilts his chin up. He’s saved from saying anything, by Roszival’s frown. “Being uncomfortable with it doesn’t give anyone the right to act that way.”

Jonny sits back, his eyes still on Patrick’s face. “I’ve tried to tell you that already.”

Saad slaps Patrick’s shoulder companionably. “If anyone gives you shit, we’re here, right? I mean, it sucks we’re being overshadowed but we’re still teammates.”

“Yeah,” Brookbank agres. “We’re behind you.”

Looking like he’s the best fucking thing, Saader says, “Just not as much as Jonny.”

There’s a laugh that goes round the table that feels comfortable. Something eases in Patrick’s chest and he nods.

Brookbank looks between Patrick and Jonny carefully. “Seriously, though, this doesn’t affect the game,” he says, eventually. “We’re good to go.”

Patrick finally leans back, more relieved than he thought he’d be. They stay out a little longer, Patrick always likes to know the rookies he’s going to be playing with, and by the time they split up to go home, Patrick’s comfortable with the fact that Saad - and the others - aren’t uncomfortable with Patrick and Jonny’s marriage, just with the effect it has. Patrick wishes he could say the same thing.

---

Patrick’s two assist streak continues over the next couple of games. He’s scoring well and it’s reflected in the news stories. He’s asked to do an interview for the NHL website and gets asked about his feelings on his ‘maturing’. Patrick doesn’t know how to answer that – doesn’t want to answer that. He’s playing the same way he always has and he knows they’re talking about his off-ice shit.

They make the connections between his answers and his marriage to Jonny anyway, and Patrick begins to feel like this dull anger will be a constant companion as they play hockey. Their first overtime loss, to the Wild, fucking sucks and it feels a little like they lost in regulation. Despite the fact that they still have a point, Patrick gives only the customary responses and, when he doesn’t even rise to the inevitable marriage question, the reporters leave him alone pretty quickly. It’s getting a bit stressful; he’s playing well and he knows he is but they’ve barely had a couple of days to themselves since the season started. They’ve got more to come and Patrick’s trying to keep himself going, focus on hockey and let himself fall into the trap of over thinking anything.

Thankfully, Jonny’s pretty quiet whenever they go home, whether it’s to the hotel or their apartment. He’s still being the same Jonny, still telling dumb jokes but not kissing Patrick. He touches Patrick a little but it feels more like he’s doing it to soothe the anger Patrick’s been wearing that’s obvious to most people who look at him. It fucking sucks but when he tries to talk to Jonny about it, they end up fighting.

When they get back to the hotel in Minnesota and Patrick shifts on the bed until he’s pressed against Jonny’s side, Jonny sucks in a breath.

“We’ll be better next time.”

Patrick frowns. “I know. This isn’t the fucking locker room, asshole. We’re good.”

Jonny raises an eyebrow but fuck it all, Patrick doesn’t need a pep talk. He gets it. People are already making noise about this being a good streak, but Patrick’s not thinking about it like that, he can’t. Tries not to think of much of anything.

“Just sleep. Save the captain talk for the guys.”

---

Jonny’s pissed after they lose to the Canucks. It’s not a terrible loss; it’s in overtime so they still get a point, but he makes sure to inject a little bit more determination into his voice when he gives the pre-game talk that most of the guys probably know off by heart for its similarity. He’s startled to see how attentive Patrick’s being in the locker room. He’s used to hearing the customary shit-talking from everyone, but with an undercurrent of Patrick being an idiot. There’s been less of that, more of Patrick sitting in his stall, talking when spoken to but not throwing himself around so much that his voice seems to fill every corner of the locker room. Jonny doesn’t hate it but he doesn’t like it, either.

Reporters comment on it, ask if it’s a product of being married and if he’s quieting down due to Jonny’s influence. His replies vary from amused to shrugging it off depending on the mood he’s in. Lately, he’s mostly angry and Jonny knows it’s because of the picketers, of the people talking about their marriage in the worst kinds of ways. When someone asks if he’s proud of Patrick, he shrugs it off because it’s not different. Patrick’s always had the talent, always had the means to be the greatest player but he’s been overshadowed by his off-ice antics. Other people are seeing what Jonny’s seen all along and it feels a little bit like vindication except that Patrick doesn’t seem to be taking anything positive people have to say on board. Patrick’s used to bad press, Jonny knows, but this is different; this feels much bigger somehow and Jonny’s always watching but he doesn’t say anything, mostly because he doesn’t know how. It’s not that he doesn’t feel the same anger, doesn’t wonder why it has to mean anything, but he’s focusing his attention on hockey, trying to narrow everything down to what’s happening on the ice. He’s never paid much attention to what anyone thinks of him and it’s easy enough to do so now.

It’s not just Patrick; there’s an undercurrent of something affecting the whole team and Jonny can’t put his finger on it - not until they play the Coyotes in Arizona. Jonny hears all manner of things after the game - they discussed it in the locker room, Jonny specifically asked for it, that it was pre-planned. They’re all wrong; when Mayers goes for Torres it’s a purely instinctive thing, settling a score that’s been hanging over their heads since Hoss hit the ice so many months ago. It also feels a little bit like the tension snaps in the locker room after that, like they can breathe. It’s showing in their results, most of the talk surrounding the team is focusing on their winning streak rather than the marriage of Toews and Kane and Jonny finally feels settled.

Both he and Patrick are happy about it; there’s something easing in the way they move around each other, both at home and in hotel rooms, but it also feels like there’s still a barrier between them. Even when Patrick’s pressed up against his front in bed, Patrick fingers splayed against the hand Jonny has on his stomach, there’s a wall between them Jonny doesn’t know how to break. There’s still something not right and, for all that Jonny’s determined to find it, Patrick’s just as determined to hide it.

They get their first shutout against the Preds and it feels fucking great. When the reporters have left the room, Corey’s buried under a wealth of congratulations, even as he’s biting back on an obvious urge to tell everyone to fuck off. Stals and Krugs start making noise about going out for drinks in Nashville which Jonny’s a step away from giving in to when Patrick says, “I’m just gonna crash.”

Jonny frowns down at his skates, not sure what’s up with Patrick. They share a bed, but he might as well be on another fucking city for all that Jonny can read him. He’s not used to not being able to gauge Patrick’s mood but for all that Patrick gives when they’re alone, for all that he accepts the kisses and the touches Jonny wants to give, he’s closed down in other respects.

“Captain?” Stals asks. He looks at Patrick pointedly and what the fuck ever, they’re not joined at the hip.

“I’m good,” he finds himself saying. He scowls even harder at that, curses himself. Patrick’s shoulders tense a little at that, but Jonny doesn’t give a fuck.

He and Patrick climb on the bus with the other guys as they make their way back to the hotel. Patrick doesn’t kick up a fuss as Jonny slides into the seat next to him. He seems resigned to having Jonny follow him, right up until they shut the door to their hotel room.

“You gonna quit following me, now?” Patrick bites out, slamming his way through to the bathroom.

Jonny’s not sure he’s in the mood for a tantrum but he doesn’t know what the fuck is happening. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing,” Patrick says, voice drifting out of the open door. “I’m deliriously happy. We’re winning games and I have the best fucking husband. What’s not to be happy about?”

His voice drips sarcasm and Jonny doesn’t want to do this. He fucking hates arguing with Patrick when it’s clear he’s not going to give. Maybe he would have before but they’ve had plenty of practice fighting - more so since they married and there has to be some irony in that but Jonny doesn’t know what the fuck it is.

He ignores Patrick, just changes quickly and takes over the bathroom when Patrick comes out. He gets an odd look, like Patrick’s trying to figure out what his game is, but Jonny doesn’t have one; he doesn’t regret going out with the guys, but Patrick’s getting exhausting and Jonny thought they were past this.

“Jonny?” Patrick’s leaning against the doorjamb, arms crossed and looking down at the floor.

Jonny turns, leaning against the sink. He doesn’t say anything, just waits.

Patrick looks a little frustrated, but at himself or Jonny, Jonny doesn’t know. “You could have gone out with the guys.”

“Yeah, I could have.” Jonny pushes off from the sink, slides past Patrick in the doorway and heads for the bed. Patrick doesn’t move, stays in the doorway.

“Why’d you stay?”

Jonny doesn’t know where Patrick’s going with this, so he sighs, tosses back the covers and grabs his phone from his back pocket. “Why’d you stay?”

He looks Patrick in the eye and watches the way Patrick relaxes under the attention, the tension bleeding out of his body as he slumps in the doorway. “I’m fucking tired.”

Jonny’s not sure how to take that. Patrick’s been working hard, they all have, but Patrick’s still playing like he has something to prove to someone. “Get in the bed, Patrick.”

Patrick looks for half a second like he’s going to refuse or fight it, but he crosses the room anyway, putting his own phone on the dresser after thumbing through for his alarm.

They’re side by side and Jonny stares up at the ceiling. “What’re you trying to prove, Pat?”

Patrick lets out a breath, and he rolls over, his back to Jonny. “Nothing. I’m just playing hockey.”

Frustrated and now knowing how to snap Patrick out of whatever this is, Jonny shifts in the bed until he’s pressed up against Patrick’s bed. Patrick doesn’t tense up, does the opposite in fact, pushing back into Jonny’s embrace. “What do you have to prove, Patrick?” Jonny asks again, mouth resting against Patrick’s ear.

“That I’m not -“ Patrick breaks off with a frustrated noise. He wraps his fingers around Jonny’s wrist, pulls it over his body. “I’m just trying to play hockey.”

It’s a lie but Jonny lets it go for now, listens until Patrick’s breath evens out and then closes his own eyes, squeezing Patrick gently before he does so.

---

They’re fourteen games into the streak when they play the Sharks for the second time. They’re playing at the UC for the home crowd and it feels pretty good; Patrick’s feeling a little happie playing at home third time, and Jonny’s in a great mood, right up until Thornton checks him and finishes it with, “And your little boytoy is next, asshole.”

“The fuck did you say?”

“Always wondered whether he sucked dick,” Thornton says, gesturing.

Jonny sees red. Fuck Thornton anyway because he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about. Patrick isn’t his boytoy, deserves respect that has nothing to do with who he chooses to sleep with and fuck him. Bad enough he’s the asshole who contributed to Jonny’s concussion. Before he’s really thought about it, he’s thrown down his gloves and initiated a fight. He knows he’s not good at it, he’s joked and had jokes made about him enough times that fighting is something he tries to steer well clear of, but this is different. This is about Patrick, who doesn’t seem too pleased about it. During the game he’s good enough - gives Jonny a customary pat on the back as he comes off the ice post-fight. It’s not until they’re back at the apartment that Patrick pads silently into the kitchen as Jonny changes and climbs into bed.

Patrick doesn’t look pleased as he comes back into the room and hands Jonny an ice pack. “You’re an idiot. What the hell did you do it for?

Jonny isn’t going to explain it to him. He doesn’t want to have to tell Patrick what Thornton was saying.

“Giving you a concussion is shit,” Patrick continues. If he wants to make assumptions about it, Jonny lets him. He stays silent. Patrick’s expression doesn’t change as he sits down on the bed, hooks his ankle around Jonny’s and sighs. “You only recovered in October, idiot. Do you honestly feel better?”

Sometimes Jonny forgets that Patrick is more perceptive than people think he is. “Am I supposed to?”

Patrick snorts, tugs the ice pack out of Jonny’s hands and presses it gently to his eye. “You fought. Shouldn’t you know?”

“It fucking sucks,” Jonny says through gritted teeth. “Having a concussion from a hit like that.”

Patrick doesn’t say anything, just shifts until he’s more comfortable next to Jonny on the bed, his thumb running over Jonny’s cheek and catching water droplets from the ice pack.

Jonny closes his other eye and lets out a slow breath. “I promise not to fight again?”

“You’re an idiot,” Patrick tells him. “You’re not supposed to pose it like a question if you want to be reassuring.”

“Not reassuring,” Jonny says slowly, quietly. “Promising, Peeks.”

Jonny knows it’s the name that gets to Patrick; feels it in the twitch of Patrick’s fingers against his cheek, hearing the soft intake of breath. “You better.” Patrick’s voice is a little hoarse and he leans down, his lips brushing over Jonny’s, soft and quick enough it can’t turn into anything.

Jonny pushes the ice pack off of his face, tugs Patrick down next to him. He gets bitching for his efforts but Patrick stretches out, props himself up on his elbow and picks up the rubbing of Jonny’s eye, smoothing the hot and no-doubt bruising skin surprisingly gently.

“You’re gonna distract me,” Patrick says. “Who’d have thought you’d be hotter fighting someone.”

Jonny grins. “Yeah? Maybe I should do it more often.”

“Didn’t you just say you wouldn’t? Already breaking promises,” Patrick says, mock-sighing. He’s smiling though.

It’s not that Jonny doesn’t want to sleep with Patrick. He’s just not sure how invested in this Patrick is. He doesn’t want to keep sleeping with Patrick if he’s just - nothing’s changed for Patrick. He’s not being any more affectionate than he was before they spent months apart. It really fucking sucks. Jonny wants to give Patrick everything but he can’t if Patrick’s not going to do the same.

---

The USA warriors are amazing. Patrick’s pretty humbled playing with them. They’ve gone through shit he can’t even begin to comprehend but he has a pretty high respect for them as men, soldiers and hockey players. They’re baller and Patrick - and Jonny - stay so long on the ice with them, that they’re told to leave.

They give their customary interviews, Patrick joking about Jonny’s shiner when he’s asked about it, but mostly trying to stick to talking about the Warriors. They’re amazing guys, but when one of them pulls him aside to congratulate him on being brave enough to come out, it throws Patrick a little off kilter.

It’s not that he cares about the lie, it doesn’t feel much like a lie anymore because it’s always been true, always felt like Jonny’s it for him. It’s just when they’re back at their apartment, Patrick looks at Jonny and doesn’t know what the hell is going on. Jonny kisses him, pulls him close like he wants everything. But he’ll pull back, looking a little sad and Patrick doesn’t know why. He’s right fucking here and it would be so easy to solve if they could talk to each other but every time Patrick tries, every time he thinks they’re going to say something, they talk around it like they’re afraid of the answer.

It’s so bad that, when they play the Oilers a week later, he ends up drinking a bit too much and bitching at Sam that he’s probably a terrible husband, and receives a less than sympathetic response.

“Marriages take work,” Sam says with a shrug. “He loves you, Kaner. God knows why, but he does.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick says even though Sam has a point. He’s never heard Jonny say, ‘I love you’, and he’s never said it himself - not with the right kind of meaning. Maybe not addressing their issues is doing them more harm than good but he doesn’t know how to bring it up. Jonny’s notoriously bad at talking about his emotions and Patrick’s not exactly rushing to tell Jonny everything, either. “This is serious shit.”

“Of course it is,” Sam says. He sounds a little more serious, which is surprising enough. “Have you spoken to him, Pat?”

Patrick snorts into his glass. “Yeah right.”

“Christ, Patrick. You were always pretty bad at communicating.” Sam sits back in his chair. “You’re good - you and Jonny. He makes you happy, right?”

Patrick nods. “Yeah. Of course he does. That’s what makes this worse.”

Talk to him,” Sam presses.

When Patrick gets home that night he’s a little more sober than he wants to be. Jonny’s already in bed, body splayed half over Patrick’s side and Patrick’s chest goes tight as he climbs into bed beside him. What he’s got is pretty fucking great and he’s afraid that, if he does talk to Jonny, he’ll hear something he doesn’t want to. Sure they’ve slept together, but they slept together after their wedding, too, so Patrick knows that you don’t have to be in love with someone to be willing to sleep with them.

He rolls over onto his side, rests his hand in the crook of Jonny’s elbow and falls quickly to sleep.

---

Getting drunk and spilling shit that he doesn’t want to seems to be something Patrick’s doing a lot lately. The Hawks are out in St. Louis with T.J. after their win and Patrick’s well on his way to drunk when Sharpy slides into the booth next to him. Patrick’s been watching T.J. and Jonny play pool for the last half an hour and he’s glad of a distraction. “What’s up, Peeks? Afraid Oshie’s stealing your man?”

“Uh,” Patrick says. Sharpy sounds amused but at least he doesn’t shy away from human emotions like other people he could mention. It’s not a fair thing to think but Patrick’s not about to talk to Jonny when he’s afraid of the answers he’s going to get in regards to them. “I think Jonny doesn’t love me.”

Sharpy makes an amused noise. “I think you’ve had too many of these,” he says, tugging the glass away from Patrick’s hands. “Come on.”

“No.” Patrick frowns, poking the table hard to make his point. “You don’t understand. I didn’t think I’d have to - I didn’t think it would be this hard to lie. To not know.”

There’s a horrible silence and Patrick turns his head to see Sharpy looking at him with a weird look on his face. “Lie about what?”

Patrick wishes Sharpy would keep up. “You know, the marriage?”

“No,” Sharpy says, and now his voice sounds weird, too.

Patrick’s sure he shouldn’t have had quite so much to drink. He keeps talking, unable to stop, and he can see Sharpy’s face looking increasingly more sick as he does so. “He was saving me from being traded to fucking Winnipeg or something and then I loved him and I shouldn’t have because we got married and he isn’t even gay.”

“Patrick-”

“But then we slept together and it was fucking awesome -” He ignores the sound Sharpy makes and barrels on. “-And he doesn’t get feelings but he bought me an apartment and I really fucking love him, Sharpy.”

“Patrick,” Sharpy says again. He throws a quick look at Jonny and Patrick focuses on his face, squinting. “The marriage is a lie?”

“Oh,” Patrick says. He feels a little light headed as he nods, and has the odd feeling that he’s going to be sorry about this in the morning, but he doesn’t know why. “I shouldn’t have - can we-”

Sharpy grips Patrick’s shoulders and shakes him gently. “You two are so fucking - look at me, Kaner.”

His voice cracks through the haze in Patrick’s head and he blinks, stares Sharpy in the eye. “What?”

“You’re both idiots. For fuck’s sake.” Sharpy visibly takes a breath and he looks simultaneously angry and shocked. “You’re going to go back to the hotel with Jonny, get into bed and sleep this off. Then, in the morning, you’re going to talk to Jonny about this.”

“He won’t talk to me,” Patrick whines. “Why won’t he just tell me that he wants to divorce me?”

Sharpy closes his eyes and Patrick drops forward, resting his forehead on Sharpy’s shoulder.

“Sorry I’m such a fuck up,” he mumbles.

“Jesus.” Sharpy rests a hand on the back of Patrick’s head. It doesn’t feel good in the way it does when Jonny tangles his fingers in Patrick’s hair but it’s nice enough. “You’re not a fuck up, Patrick. You and Jonny just have serious communication issues.”

Jonny chooses that moment to come to the table, Oshie trailing behind him with a dumb grin on his face. “Everything alright?” Jonny says with a frown.

“I think you need to take him back to the hotel,” Sharpy’s saying, his voice still weird and Patrick rolls his head so that he can look up at Jonny with a dopey grin. “Talk to him.”

“Sure.” Jonny doesn’t look too annoyed that Patrick’s cutting their night short, but he has that weird mixed expression of annoyed and concerned that Patrick’s growing way too used to. He lets Jonny pull him up and listens to the apology he gives Oshie.

“Yeah,” Patrick says, holding up his hand for a fistbump. “Sorry.”

T.J. knocks his fist against Patrick’s and gives them a weird look. “S’all good. You’ll just owe me a drink next time we’re in Chicago.”

Jonny’s silent on the way back to the hotel, one arm around Patrick’s shoulders and Patrick leaning heavily against his side.

The silence stretches until Patrick can’t take it anymore, and he presses his face into Jonny’s shoulder. “You mad at me?”

“No.” Jonny looks down at him. “Getting used to you getting drunk whenever we go out.”

Patrick scowls into the fabric of Jonny’s shirt. “I told you, I have it under control.”

Jonny bites back on saying something and stares out of the window.

“I do,” Patrick says, poking Jonny in the side.

“We have a game tomorrow,” Jonny says eventually.

“Are you pissed because I got drunk on a game night, or because I’m not living up to your expectations?” Patrick snaps as he pulls away. The look Jonny turns on him is confusion but what the fuck ever. “Because I’m getting real tired of not being what you need me to fucking be, Jonny.”

Jonny opens his mouth to say something, but Patrick turns away from him, presses his face against the window and ignores Jonny the three times he says his name.

“For fuck’s sake, Patrick,” Jonny mutters.

Patrick keeps ignoring Jonny right up until they reach the hotel and he can stumble out of the cab, forcing Jonny to pay, because he just wants to be in their room already, buried under the covers and able to shut out everything. He wishes he could shut out Jonny and, for the first time since the season started, wishes he and Jonny weren’t sharing a room.

When they get upstairs and Jonny starts to get the look on his face that he always gets in the locker room when he’s about to ream him out, Patrick turns on his side, his back to Jonny, and closes his eyes. He feels like as much of a tool as he looks, he knows it, but he just can’t do this right now. Now that they’re in the room and he’s sobering up, he’s realising what the fuck he’s done. He told Sharpy that the marriage was fake. It was bad enough when it was Erica, when he was spilling his secret to her because he couldn’t fucking take it, but this is Sharpy who’s more likely to say something to Jonny and Patrick doesn’t know what the fuck to do. He sucks in a breath, but thankfully Jonny just climbs into bed and shuts off the light.

“Night Kaner,” Jonny says eventually.

Patrick clenches his eyes tightly. Through gritted teeth, he says, “Night.”

---

Patrick has to film a video for Hossa’s 1000th game; Hoss is a great guy and Patrick’s proud of him for making it this far, for hitting this milestone, and he hopes that comes across in the video. He’s seen shit on the internet over the past few days about how sad he’s looking, like he has to have a smile on his face every fucking time he takes the ice. Things between him and Jonny are tense right now and Patrick knows that he should apologize. Every time he tries, he gets shut down, the tense lines of Jonny’s back the only things he sees as they climb into bed. It’s the first time he and Jonny haven’t been wrapped around each other when the sleep since he came back from Switzerland, and it hurts somewhere low in Patrick’s chest, makes him feel like everything he didn’t want is happening anyway.

He manages to focus on Hoss for the Wild game, feels pretty fucking great about it. He and Jonny have perfected the art of never letting a fight bleed over into the game but that doesn’t stop their customary bitching on the bench having a hard edge to it, a small bite of truth as they yell and have to be separated. The rest of the game is almost a blur; Patrick takes to the ice and feels pretty fucking great when he comes off of the ice because his goal is baller, Hoss made third star on his 1000th game and everything feels right.

Except that when he and Jonny get back to their apartment, the silence seems so much worse between them. Patrick doesn’t know how to break it. He tries a couple of times, but then Sharpy’s injured in the game against the Avalanche and they hear noises about being out for weeks.

“Fuck. Are you serious?”

Sharpy nods. “You’ll be fine, Peeks,” he says, his eyes dark.

Patrick doesn’t care what he has to say about that. He’s just worrying about how well they’ll play without him, is all. “Whatever, it’s not like we need your sorry ass anyway.”

“Keep telling yourself that,” Sharpy grins.

Patrick stays for as long as they’ll let him, not admitting that he doesn’t want to have go home and face Jonny. Thankfully, Sharpy’s not dumb and he manhandles Patrick to the door, wincing a little.

“Kaner, you’ll fly out to Colorado and you’ll beat the Avalanche. First, you have to go home and sort shit with Jonny.”

There’s a long silence before Patrick says, “Yeah okay.”

He doesn’t. When he steps into their apartment, Jonny’s already in bed and facing the window, his back to Patrick. It hurts, but Patrick can’t get mad, doesn’t even know what the fuck to think. He climbs in next to Jonny, sets his alarm and doesn’t fall asleep for a long time.

Despite Sharpy’s encouragement, they lose to the Avalanche. Despite what they’ve been saying about the streak not mattering unless they make it to the playoffs, it still feels terrible. It feels like they’ve let their fans down, the mood in the locker room sombre. It doesn’t help that they have to fly home and face those very same fans and the Oilers at the same time.

The mood in Chicago feels just as sombre as it did in Colorado, and Patrick has to endure yet more stories about them letting people down, about their challenges ending. He and Jonny get more focus on them, their performance during the lockout and Patrick throws every magazine and paper in the house in the trash and seethes on the couch. Jonny doesn’t even try and talk through his anger, just sits next to him in stony silence until they go to bed.

Their game against the Oilers, maybe because of their synchronicity being out of whack, or just general depression over losing their streak, is a disaster. They’re ahead until the last period when, like fucking usual, they lose the thread of the game and everything falls down around them. Patrick can’t even make himself go out with Sam after the game. He leaves the UC without Jonny for the first time since this shit started. When he gets into the eerily silent apartment, a different type of silence that Jonny leaves in his wake, Patrick goes to take a shower. He lets the water pound down on his back, feels the weight of the losses dragging against his shoulders, the tenseness between him and Jonny seemingly fitting for the moment. He closes his eyes and presses his forehead into the tiles of the shower stall. “Fuck.”

He’s still standing in the shower when he hears the door to the bathroom open and Jonny curse. He should probably move, tell Jonny to fuck off, do something but he can’t.

“Come on, Kaner,” Jonny says eventually, shutting off the water even though his shirt’s getting wet, and wrapping a towel around Patrick’s shoulders. “How long you been in there?”

“Since I got back,” Patrick says, letting Jonny tug him out of the shower.

He can’t read the expression on Jonny’s face, just lets himself relax into the rub of the towel against his body as Jonny dries him off. He could bitch, make noise about being able to do it, that he’s been drying off for years without Jonny’s help, but he doesn’t.

“The fuck is wrong with you, Patrick,” Jonny says, but it’s not a question.

Patrick wraps his arm around Jonny’s bicep. “We fucking lost. Twice.”

Jonny’s eyes darken. “I know that. I’m on the team too.”

“I-” Patrick closes his eyes. He wraps an arm around Jonny’s shoulders and tugs him down, desperate for the first time in days for Jonny to touch him. “Jonny.”

Jonny’s tense as Patrick goes in for the hug, but he relaxes pretty quickly, presses his nose to the hair just behind Patrick’s ear. “It’s okay.”

It’s not even close to okay, but Patrick breathes out, closes his eyes. He’s still a little damp and Jonny’s shirt is wet from the shower, but Patrick can’t bring himself to pull away. He just wants things to be okay.

“We should-”

“Come to bed,” Jonny says. He kisses Patrick’s neck and then pulls away.

“Jonny-”

Jonny cups the back of his neck, presses their foreheads together. “To bed.”

Patrick closes his eyes as Jonny pulls away and stands in the middle of the bathroom, one hand still clutching his towel and watching Jonny’s back as he walks away from him.

---

They have two days off before they’re due to play again and Q gives them leave to do whatever they want, not even calling them in for morning skate. Jonny knows they need it after the two losses they suffered, the attention and excitement of the streak dissipating into a desperate need to win. Jonny doesn’t think they were ever complacent, the mood in the locker room was always tense and charged, but he never let the streak go to anyone’s head. They’re at a good point and, the two losses aside, Jonny knows they can beat the Jackets.

They made history but, like he’s told the press, none of it counts unless they make the playoffs, which they’re all still determined to do. They have the skill this year, they’re hitting the other teams in the scoreboard which is the only place it has ever counted. As they’re stepping out onto the ice, Jonny lets his focus narrow down to the game and what he needs to do, score, get the hawks the win they need and drag the team back into fighting form.

It’s not a spectacular win but it is a win. Jonny gets a goal and, more importantly, Patrick gets one in overtime and seals the game. Jonny hopes it wakes him up out of whatever stupor he’s gotten himself into.

He tries not to look over too much during the interviews but people start commenting on how Patrick’s been playing and Jonny can’t help it. He catches glimpses of Patrick talking to the press but he’s doing what he usually does when he’s desperate to get out of the conversational adjusting his hat and playing with his hair. It’s clear that Jonny needs to talk to Patrick before whatever is between them explodes in the worst way. It would be easier if Sharpy were around; he’s the only other person Jonny knows who can tell what Patrick needs.

Jonny gets done with his interviews - only to find that Patrick has already left the locker room and disappeared. Again. The only people willing to meet his eyes as he stomps around the locker room getting changed are Duncs and Seabs, who corner him after spending ten minutes with their heads bent together. He’s not up for dealing with whatever weirdness they’ve concocted today. He just wants to get back to the hotel room and figure out what the hell is going on with Patrick.

“Hey, Tazer,” Seabs says. “You wanna come out with Duncs and I?”

Jonny’s shoving the last of his gear into his bag. “No. I need to go and find Patrick.”

“Uh,” Seabs says. He looks at Duncs briefly, who nods at the door.

“Kaner already left. He’s headed back to the hotel.”

“The fuck,” Jonny mutters. If Patrick doesn’t care enough to stick around and wait then Jonny’s not going to run around trying to fix shit. Jonny’s tired of being the one who has to fix everything that goes wrong between them and he turns to Duncs and Seabs with a nod. “Fine.” It’s not like he and Patrick had to go home together every night. “I’ll go with you guys.”

“Okay,” Duncs says, even as Seabs looks a little surprised. Whatever, if they didn’t want him to go out with them, they shouldn’t have asked.

Jonny tries not to be a complete buzzkill that night, but as he nurses his beer, he can’t help but think of Patrick back at the hotel, probably dicking around on the internet and completely ignoring the fact that they have a huge fucking problem that needs fixing.

“So you and Patrick-” Seabs asks, nudging Jonny’s elbow. “Everything alright there?”

Jonny nods. “Fine.” He scowls down into his drink. He knows their problems can’t help but bleed over into the locker room but the last thing they need is interference from the other guys. There’s nothing that will get Patrick to clam up faster. He realises belatedly he should probably be asking them the same thing. “You guys?”

Duncs and Seabs exchange a look - and he wishes they would stop doing that. It’s like they have some great secret he’s not party to and it just makes him frown harder. “Yeah, Tazer, we’re good. But-”

“That’s good.” Jonny nods.

He likes hanging out with Duncs and Seabs, they’re weird enough but they have a great sense of humour and they seem pretty invested in making sure that Jonny has a good time, that he has a steady stream of drinks.

“How’s Patrick?”

Jonny frowns into his glass. “Patrick is Patrick. He’s playing well, you think?”

“Yeah man,” Duncs says.

“His goals have been fucking baller,” Seabs agrees. “You miss him on your line?”

Jonny snorts. “Saad is good. Actually listens to me.”

Seabs and Duncs share another look which Jonny ignores. “Not that you seemed to care before.”

“I can yell at Patrick just as well at home,” Jonny points out.

The drinks slow down after that, Jonny knowing he should get back to Patrick. He’s not too drunk, but he knows he’s going to have to fly home tomorrow and he hates doing that with a hangover.

“Look, guys,” Jonny says, pushing his glass away. “Not that I’m not grateful but I should go.”

“You sure?” Duncs asks. “Sharpy said we should-“

“What the fuck does Sharpy have to do with anything?”

Seabs shrugs. “Nothing. If you wanna go-“

“I do.” Jonny’s more than discharged his captainly duty of staying for a couple of drinks and he needs to get back to the hotel. “I need to get back to the hotel.” He doesn’t say to Patrick but he doesn’t have to; it hangs in the air anyway and with a dual sigh from Duncs and Seabs, Jonny’s laying a twenty on the table in apology and leaving to call for a cab.

When he makes it back to the hotel, Patrick’s already in bed and the lights are off. Jonny doesn’t bother to check whether he’s faking or not, just climbs in next to him and faces the window. He’ll call Sharpy in the morning and see if he can’t talk some sense into Patrick. It feels a little like failure to have to rely on someone else, but Jonny’s efforts are falling far short.

Jonny’s the first to wake. Sometime in the night, Patrick’s shifted in the bed and ended up so close, their legs have tangled together. Jonny doesn’t move- it’s the first contact they’ve had since the hug in their bathroom. Patrick wakes not long after, rubbing the heel of his hand into his eye and stretching.

“You ever going to talk to me?” Jonny asks, while Patrick’s still trying to get his bearings.

Patrick stares at him, mouth open and brow drawn down in confusion. “Wha?”

Untangling their legs, Jonny pushes back the covers. “You can give me the silent treatment all you like, Kaner, but it fucking sucks-”

“I’m not giving you the silent treatment,” Patrick snaps. “I’m fucking tired, dude.”

Jonny stares at him, incredulous. “Too tired to open your mouth and say words to me before you check out?”

“Screw you.” Patrick sits up. He doesn’t say anything else and Jonny could fight him but he really doesn’t want to.

Before they head out for the bus, Jonny stops Patrick with a hand to the chest. “We need to talk about this when we get home.”

Patrick’s jaw tightens and he tilts his chin up. He doesn’t have anything to prove to Jonny and Jonny’s startled enough by Patrick’s reaction that he doesn’t bother to stop Patrick as he shoulders past him.

---

They have three more games on the road before they get home and now that Jonny’s laid down a timeframe for them to get their shit together, Patrick seems to loosen up a little, both in the locker room and back at whatever hotel room they’re staying in.

“You wanna watch something?” Patrick asks, holding out the remote.

Jonny doesn’t take it, just goes right back to reading his magazine.

“Jonny, don’t be a dick.”

Snorting, Jonny flips the page harder than he means to and tears it a little. He curses, folds the magazine up and tosses it in the direction of his bag. “There’s a difference between tired and silent treatment.”

“This again,” Patrick mutters. “Let it go, Jonny.”

“Why?” Jonny presses, leaning in. “Why the fuck should I?”

Patrick glares down at the covers for a long, tense moment and Jonny gears himself up for another fight. “I’m asking you to leave it alone.”

Jonny just keeps staring at the side of Patrick’s face. He wants to keep fighting, to shake Patrick and make him see that they can’t keep fucking doing this. Something has to give. “Till when, Kaner? We can’t even be in the same fucking room.”

“I know,” Patrick says, quietly. “I’m dealing with it as best I can okay? I promise, I’ll have it locked down by the time we get home.”

“Have what locked down?” Jonny asks. He has no idea what the hell is going on. “What are you talking about?”

Patrick closes his eyes and runs his tongue across his bottom lip slowly. “Jonny, you gotta give me time.”

Jonny relents. He doesn’t have a clue what’s going on, doesn’t know why Patrick is asking for space or what shit he has to lock down. The look Patrick’s giving him - a look he hasn’t seen since everything started back in May, a plea for help - is enough to shut him up. He nods quickly. “Fine.”

“When we’re in Chicago,” Patrick says, hesitantly. “You gotta give me until then.”

“I said fine.” Jonny doesn’t have to solicitous about it. Thankfully Patrick goes back to whatever show he’s watching on the TV, leaving Jonny to thoughts he doesn’t want running through his head. He has a horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach that he isn’t going to want to hear whatever Patrick has to say.

Unfortunately, they lose Hossa in the next game. It’s a shitty thing to happen, especially as they’re already down Sharpy, but Jonny tries to keep his focus on the game. Patrick agrees to double-shift and works fine, Jonny likes being on Patrick’s line, but it’s still hard. He sees the way Patrick looks when he comes off of the ice and it only gets worse when he has to do the same thing the next game.

Patrick won’t say no; he’s trying to impress everyone, trying to show people they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about when they criticise their relationship still, after all this time.

“I’m as angry as you,” Jonny says, when they climb into the hotel bed that night. “But don’t fucking kill yourself, Kaner.”

Patrick gives him a look. “Like you’re one to talk about pushing yourself where hockey’s concerned.”

“That’s different.” Jonny scowls. “I don’t want you to fuck yourself up.”

“Why? Because then we’d be down three player?”

Instead of rising to Patrick’s anger, Jonny curls around him, tugs him close and buries his face in the back of Patrick’s neck. “I trust you to know where your limits are, Peeks.”

There’s a long silence and then Patrick lets out a shuddery breath. “I do, Jonny.” His voice is low, and he rests his hand over Jonny’s. “I would never.”

“Okay.”

Patrick presses back against him and Jonny closes his eyes, wishing he was any closer to understanding what they’re supposed to do.

---

When they finally get back to Chicago it’s on the tail end of a loss to the Ducks. It was a terrible fucking game and they all sucked. Jonny feels the weight of it on his shoulders, hates talking to reporters most after a game like that, but he sucks it up and gives perfunctory answers until they leave him alone. It’s only when they’ve dispersed that he catches the tail end of Patrick talking across the locker room.

“I wasn’t good enough and it was the reason we lost the game,” he’s saying, head tilted up to look at the reporters.

That’s fucking bullshit. Jonny doesn’t know if he’s saying that because he genuinely believes it, or if he doesn’t know what else to say, but it’s fucking crap. He’s no stranger to taking on the losses himself, accepting blame for the loss like he’s the only person out there but if there’s anything he’s learned over the past few years, it’s that he can’t carry the weight of the team on his back. He doesn’t get sole credit for a win, so he doesn’t get to shoulder the blame of a loss and Patrick’s no different.

Jonny doesn’t say anything about it until they get back home. They’re both tired from the travelling and as soon as they dump their bags in the bedroom, Jonny grabs a towel from the closet. “I’m taking a shower. Then we’re talking.”

Patrick’s crouching on the floor, rooting around his bag for something - probably his fucking charger. Jonny grabs the spare from his bag and tosses it at Patrick who catches it on reflex, looking a little startled.

Jonny disappears into the bathroom before Patrick can say anything. He turns the water on as hot as he can stand and spends a long time under the spray, washing away the dirt and aches of the game. He’s steeling himself for another night of battling Patrick into telling him what the hell is going on with him.

When he finally climbs out, wrapping a towel around his waist, he steps out into the bedroom in time to hear Patrick say, “-should never have told you it was fake.”

Jonny freezes in the doorway. Patrick’s shoving clothes into the hamper and his phone is on his bed - obviously on speaker. Fake. Patrick’s told -

“Too late for that, Peeks,” Sharpy says.

“You told Sharpy?” Jonny hears himself say, tone flat and angry. He feels angry, the frustration and confusion he’s been feeling for months bursting into a flare of hot anger that he can’t control.

Patrick jerks up, eyes going almost comically wide in shock. “Jonny-”

“Hang up the phone,” Jonny snaps.

“Jon-”

Now.”

For once Patrick does as he’s asked, reaching for the phone and hanging up. He can apologize to Sharpy later, when Jonny’s done with him.

“Do you have any fucking clue what you’ve done?” Jonny clenches his hands into fists. He wants to punch Patrick, wants to leave the fucking apartment and never come back.

Patrick looks stubborn, fingers white around the casing of his phone. “Sharpy isn’t going to say anything.”

“It’s not about that,” Jonny grates out. He can’t think past the roaring in his ears. “You’ve been spilling shit to Sharpy and I’ve had nothing - I’ve been trying to figure what the hell has been up with you for months and all this time-”

“It’s not all this time!” Patrick shouts back. “Sharpy’s known for a week, two at most. Fuck you if you think I would ever put us in danger like that.”

Jonny wants to laugh. “What did you tell him?”

“Nothing, Jesus.” Patrick looks annoyed and fuck, he doesn’t get to. “I just told him because I needed to talk to someone okay? Erica’s been pretty busy and-”

“Erica?” Jonny watches Patrick’s fall and fuck, fuck. “You told her too?! I knew something was wrong and she wouldn’t even talk to me like it was my-- you fucking asshole.”

“I told you, I needed someone to talk to. She’s known all along and hasn’t said anything, so-”

Jonny doesn’t even know what the fuck he’s even doing, but he’s across the room and shoving Patrick against the wall before he’s even thought about it. “You fucking asshole.”

Patrick’s looking at him, eyes wide and blue and Jonny just wants to shake him. “Jonny-”

“Shut the fuck up and listen. I’ve spent months dealing with this shit in my head and the whole time you’ve had someone you could talk to, someone who knew what the hell we were going through. I lied to my mother and you-”

“It wasn’t like that!” Patrick shoves back, fingers gripping Jonny’s arms hard as he does. “I thought you didn’t want me. I thought you were only doing this to keep me in Chicago.”

I slept with you,” Jonny says, incredulous. Patrick’s so fucking dumb sometimes. When he says so, he gets an angry look in return but he ignores it. “You’ve had people and what have I had? I’ve had me!”

“You could have had me!” Patrick shouts, right in Jonny’s face. He looks wild, nails digging into the skin of Jonny’s arm. “But you never say anything and I don’t know what the hell you’re feeling most of the time, you emotionless fucking-”

“Fuck you, I’m not actually a robot!” Jonny thought Patrick knew better than that - knew what he was feeling because most of the time he can’t keep it off of his fucking face.

Patrick’s still angry, Jonny’s known him long enough to be able to tell, even now, that the tense line of his shoulders promises another explosion. Jonny’s not inclined to prevent it; he’s still angry, still one second from punching Kaner if he says the wrong thing because he’s had months of frustration with nothing but his own head and wondering if he was going fucking crazy. “You could have talked to me,” Patrick snaps eventually.

“I tried.” Jonny shakes Patrick then, not hard enough to do anything but get him to listen. “You refused to talk to me even when we were sharing the same bed. You made it more than clear how you felt about me.”

“How did I?” Patrick looks genuinely confused. “I thought you didn’t want me!”

He’s been saying that a lot and fuck, what else does Jonny have to do? “I was willing to give up my captaincy for you.”

Patrick lets out a rush of air. He opens his mouth and then closes it, like he doesn’t know what to say. Jonny regrets saying it immediately. He never planned on telling anyone - hoped it would stay between him and Q and Bowman. He didn’t want anyone to look at him the way Patrick’s looking at him now, like he’s out of his fucking mind. “Why the hell would you do that?”

His voice is rising with every word, and he punctuates the that with a shove to Jonny’s chest.

“Because I love you!”

The silence in the room is almost deafening and Jonny steps back, drops his arms from Patrick and stares at him, anger fading into shock. Patrick’s mouth drops open, his fingers still in the air from where he’d been holding onto Jonny. Fuck, fuck fuck.

“I-”

“Jonny,” Patrick says, and Jonny doesn’t want Patrick to touch him, doesn’t want to hear what Patrick has to say because it - “Jonny, you have to know that I -”

Jonny closes his eyes. God, if he’d just kept his mouth shut.

“Hey,” Patrick’s saying, his hands touching Jonny’s face. “Look at me, asshole.”

“Patrick,” Jonny starts, opening his eyes. He cuts himself off at the look on Patrick’s face. “What-”

“I love you too.” Patrick’s fingers curl around the back of Jonny’s neck, squeezing gently. “Of course I do, I have since - I’ve loved you since fucking training camp.”

Jonny doesn’t know what to say. God, they’re both so stupid, they could have been - “You should have talked to me,” he says, through gritted teeth. “We could have saved months of-”

“Rookie year,” Patrick says, his eyes as blue as they were on the dance floor at their wedding and Jonny -

He frowns. “That statement. You weren’t lying?”

“Draw on real life, right?” Patrick says with a wry smile. “I told Brisson what I was feeling, just like we were supposed to.”

Jonny doesn’t even know what to say to that. Patrick wasn’t lying in the statement and he’d known, it had seemed too fucking personal when he’d read it and he’s missed signs the entire time. “Months,” he says, fisting Patrick’s shirt in his hands. “If we’d just talked.”

Patrick gives him the half smile he saves just for Jonny, the one Jonny’s not afraid to take anymore now that he doesn’t have to wonder if Patrick’s going to walk away. “Years, Jonny. I’ve loved you since I fucking met you.”

“Fuck.” Jonny drops his head down, rests their foreheads together. “It’s so stupid.”

“Not anymore,” Patrick says with a smirk. He closes the distance between them, presses his lips to Jonny’s and it feels better than it ever has.

Jonny pulls Patrick closer, gets a hand on the back of Patrick’s head and holds him there. “I love you.” He says it again because he doesn’t have to worry if he can.

Patrick’s grin is blinding in its intensity as he says, “Yeah. I love you too.”

Jonny can’t stop himself from shoving Patrick back until he’s against the wall. Patrick pushes back, kisses Jonny like they haven’t done it for weeks and god, they haven’t. He twists the hand he has in Patrick’s hair and pulls him back a little, bites along the line of his jaw.

“Jonny,” Patrick says, voice strangled. His hands are resting on Jonny’s hips and he shoves at the towel, trying to get it off. “Come on.”

“Wait.”

“Fuck you.” Patrick shoves Jonny back, plants his feet and pushes until the back of Jonny’s legs hit the bed. “We’ve been waiting.”

“Whose fault’s that?” Jonny asks, tugging Patrick’s bottom lip between his teeth. Patrick groans, pushes up against Jonny’s body and kisses him hungrily. It’s more desperate and fast than it’s been the last couple of times because Jonny just wants. Jonny remembers every spot that makes Patrick beg for it, every pressure point that will leave Patrick a shivering mess on the bed. He spins them around, shoves Patrick back until he’s sprawled out on top of it. He’s wearing the sweatpants and threadbare t-shirt he wore on the plane and his mouth is red and wet, hair stuck up at the back where Jonny’s had his fingers. He’s looking up at Jonny with the single minded focus he keeps for the ice and it’s all Jonny’s, so he takes.

He climbs on the bed, his thighs bracketing Patrick’s legs and he leans down for another kiss. Patrick pushes up to meet him halfway, gets his hands back on Jonny’s hips and tries to grind their bodies together.

“I wanna fuck you,” Jonny says against Patrick’s mouth and watches Patrick’s eyes flutter closed. His hips push up involuntarily and Jonny grins into his mouth, reaches down between them to cup Patrick’s dick through his pants.

Patrick’s hands drop to the bed and he fists the sheets in his fingers. “Fuck you, asshole, come on.”

Jonny complies, shoves Patrick’s sweats and boxers down only far enough that he can wrap his hand around Patrick’s dick and stroke him slowly, watching the way Patrick’s bottom lip catches between his teeth. He runs his free hand lightly along Patrick’s inner thigh and is rewarded by Patrick’s low groan, the way he tips his head back against the bed, exposing the long line of his throat. Jonny leans down to bite at the soft tendons of his neck, feels Patrick swallow.

“Could make you come like this,” Jonny says. He makes sure Patrick’s looking at him, a little dazed but focused enough, when he slides back down Patrick’s body. “Or like this.”

He takes the head of Patrick’s dick in his mouth, tongues at the slit and Patrick says his name, strangled and loud. He curses as Jonny sinks lower, takes Patrick as deep as he can before pulling off. He gives Patrick only enough to time to catch his breath before he’s ducking back down. It’s only the second time he’s done this but it’s like the first time; he remembers everything that pulled the kind of noises from Patrick that Jonny’s never going to tire of.

“Jonny,” Patrick whimpers. “Jonny, please, you gotta-”

Jonny ignores him, takes Patrick deep again and holds, looking up through his eyes to see Patrick staring back, eyes wide and blown black, mouth swollen. He looks so good that Jonny moans, reaches down to squeeze his own dick. He doesn’t want to come yet.

Patrick’s fingers are scrabbling against the covers for purchase, sinking back onto the bed. He’s panting, hips making little thrusting motions that he doesn’t seem to be able to help. Jonny holds him down with one hand, fingers sliding into the indent of Patrick’s hip and pressing so hard he knows there’ll be bruises there tomorrow. “Jonny.”

He sounds wrecked and Jonny wants him to come, wants to watch Patrick shake apart but he doesn’t want to do it this way. He pulls off and Patrick lets out a noise that’s half groan, half sob.

“Easy,” Jonny mutters, reaching across to the nightstand. He feels the weight of Patrick’s gaze on him as he grabs the lube and condoms.

Patrick licks his lips and blinks. “Fuck easy. Weeks, Jonny.”

“Thought it was years,” Jonny says with a smirk. He pops the cap. “You wanna do this on your front?”

“No,” Patrick says quickly. “Wanna see the look on your face.”

“Fuck.” Jonny settles back between Patrick’s legs, coats his fingers with the lube and watches the way Patrick tracks what he’s doing. Wrapping his fingers back around Patrick’s dick, Jonny waits for Patrick to fall back into the rhythm of it, head pushed back into the pillows and fingers clenched around the sheets. He’s so fucking hot like this, spread out for Jonny, moaning garbled attempts at Jonny’s name. Jonny runs his fingers behind Patrick’s balls, teases the skin there until Patrick’s words stop making sense, tapering off into nothing as he shudders against the bed.

When Jonny slides in a finger, Patrick’s back arches off the bed, his heels digging into the mattress on either side of Jonny. Jonny’s name, when it comes, is low and wrecked and Patrick’s eyes are blown so wide, the black swallows up any hint of colour.

It’s like they’ve never fucked before, like Patrick’s experiencing this for the first time. Jonny can’t help but watch his finger as he pulls it back, waiting only a second before pushing it back in, feeling Patrick tight and hot around it. “Jesus.”

“Please,” Patrick whimpers.

Jonny wants to get his dick in Patrick right the fuck now, but he gets caught up in the way his fingers sink into Patrick, the way Patrick falls apart around them. It’s been a long time since they last did this and he pulls his fingers out, the moan Patrick lets out no more than a rush of air. He’s looking fucked out already and Jonny hasn’t even -

“Oh fuck,” Jonny says, as he pushes in, pausing to let Patrick adjust as he does. Patrick nods, eyes on Jonny’s face and he keeps moving until he’s tight against Patrick’s body. Patrick’s face is slack with pleasure, his tongue running over his bottom lip every few moments and Jonny wants to kiss him.

He reaches out for Patrick’s left hand and curls their fingers together. Patrick’s gaze drops down to their hands as Jonny rubs his thumb over the gold band on Patrick’s ring finger. “Oh.”

Jonny pulls out slowly, groans at the feel of it, at getting to fuck Patrick after so long, after wondering if this would ever feel as real as it does now, the way Patrick’s looking at him, looking at their hands and they’re married, they’re bound together for-fucking-ever and Jonny wouldn’t choose anything less.

As he pushes back, presses their hands into the bed and draws Patrick’s orgasm out of him with every thrust, he can’t help leaning down, pressing his mouth to Patrick’s, too light to be a kiss. “We’re married,” he says, voice barely above a whisper. “I love you.”

Jonny.” Patrick swallows and comes, a litany of I love you spilling into the air as he tenses up. Jonny groans, arms shaking from holding him up. Patrick’s a little dazed but he turns his head and leans in to kiss their entwined hands. “S’mine.”

Jonny clenches his eyes shut. “Patrick-”

Patrick taps Jonny’s own ring, clenches down around Jonny’s dick and oh, oh fuck, he’s so fucking close that it would only take-

Patrick pushes up, drags Jonny in for a kiss and says, “You’re mine,” against his mouth.

Jonny comes with the feel of Patrick’s mouth on his, the press of their hands into the bed.

---

Patrick doesn’t want to open his eyes. He’s awake and he really needs to go to the bathroom but he’s comfortable. Jonny’s lying half on top of him, arm slung over Patrick’s back and face tucked into the back of Patrick’s neck. It feels really good to have Jonny wrapped around him again and Patrick’s selfish enough that he doesn’t want to move until the last possible moment. He feels sore in all the best places and has to turn his face into the pillows until he can get the grin on his face under control. God, the last thing he needs to do is let this go to Jonny’s head or something. He’s already told Jonny he loves him so many times it’s embarrassing but he figures after months of not knowing what the fuck is going on, he’s allowed.

When he really can’t hold off anymore, he shifts a little in the bed, trying to move out from under Jonny without waking him up. He gets one leg to the edge of the bed and then Jonny’s fingers tighten against his side.

“Wake up, asshole, I gotta piss.”

Jonny makes a discontented noise and tugs Patrick back.

“Jonny,” Patrick says, freeing his arm and starting to rise.

“Mmwhat?” Jonny opens his eyes slowly, then squints, closes them and rolls over onto his side.

Patrick snorts and climbs off of the bed and, fuck, Jonny definitely knows how to make him feel it. He stumbles into the bathroom, looking back over his shoulder and tilting his head so that he can see the tufts of Jonny’s hair sticking out from under the covers. Before he leaves the bathroom, he reaches for his toothbrush, making a face at his reflection in his mirror as he brushes. His hair looks fucking ridiculous and there’s a bright red bruise just under the right side of his jaw that he has no chance of covering up. He spits and rinses, and, after dropping his toothbrush into the holder, presses his fingers into the bruise.

He sucks in a breath, wonders if this is what it felt like for Jonny with his black eye and, yeah, he can imagine why people get turned on by this shit. He hears Jonny coming up behind him and doesn’t object to the hands sliding around his waist, or the lips pressed against his neck.

“You gonna keep this up?” Patrick asks, tilting his head even as he says it. Jonny just sucks at the skin and Patrick shifts, pulls away. “I don’t need a matching set.”

Jonny grins at him. He looks dopey and stupid but Patrick knows his smile looks just as dumb. “I think you look pretty good.” Jonny lifts his hand to Patrick’s neck, thumb rubbing against the mark.

Patrick closes his eyes. He shakes his head a little, snaps out of it. “Stop. Don’t start what you’re not going to be able to finish.”

“Who says?” Jonny gives him an intense look and Patrick rolls his eyes.

I say. We’re not having sex until we’ve actually had a conversation about this.” Patrick loves the myriad of expressions that cross Jonny’s face, torn between knowing they have to talk and being uncomfortable by it. “I know you hate it but we just spent months-”

“I know,” Jonny cuts him off. He tugs Patrick close again, kisses him hard but not enough to start anything. “Fine. Get your ass out of the bathroom, I wanna shower.”

Patrick pretends to look put out. “And you’re not inviting me?”

“You’re the one who wants to talk.” Jonny smacks Patrick’s ass as he walks away and Patrick jerks, flips Jonny off over his shoulder.

“Asshole.” He’s grinning as he walks into the bedroom. He swipes his phone from the bed stand and makes his way into the kitchen. He’s hungry and Jonny will start bitching after his shower about the same, so he digs around in the fridge for something to make. He figures he should probably call Sharpy. After the way Jonny had him hang up last night without saying anything, Patrick’s feeling pretty guilty about dragging him into this, however unintentional it was.

He makes them eggs because he knows to stick to his strengths, and dials Sharpy’s number with his spare hand.

Sharpy picks up on the third ring. “Still alive?”

Patrick snorts. “Jonny’s bark is worse than his bite, you know that. I uh- Sorry about, you know.”

“Peeks,” Sharpy cuts across him. “You work this shit out?”

Patrick can feel the heat of the blush on the back of his neck. Fuck Sharpy. “We fought.”

“I’m completely surprised,” Sharpy deadpans. “Did you talk?”

“Not exactly.” Patrick pokes at the eggs in the pan and hears the shower shut off. “You know how fights end up sometimes, man.”

“Oh god, don’t tell me.” Sharpy sounds put out. “I want nothing to do with anything Toes chooses to do with you.”

“You shouldn’t ask, then,” Patrick says. He grins down into the pan as Jonny comes into the kitchen. “We’re good.”

Sharpy hums. “How good?”

Patrick looks back over his shoulder at Jonny, at the way he’s leaning against the counter, one of his old Shattuck shirts tighter across the shoulders than it has any right to be. “It’s legit.”

“So your fake marriage is-“

“Definitely not fake anymore.” It comes out more of a question than he wants it to, but Jonny nods sharply. “We’re good.”

“We’re fine,” Jonny says, voice loud enough that Sharpy can hear. “If you make him burn the eggs, I’ll kick your ass.”

“You and whose army, Captain?” Sharpy says in reply, and Patrick rolls his eyes. “Good luck, Peeks. Sounds like you need it.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick says cheerfully. “I can handle him.”

“I don’t need to know,” Sharpy whines as he hangs up.

Patrick’s grinning as he pushes his phone onto the counter. He focuses back on the eggs, not quite sure how to bring up conversation with Jonny. He’s saved from having to figure it out by Jonny coming up behind him, hands on Patrick’s hips and chin resting on his shoulder. “You can ‘handle’ me, eh?”

“Oh fuck you,” Patrick says, elbowing Jonny gently in the stomach. Jonny’s a douchebag but he keeps biting and licking at the skin behind Patrick’s ear and fuck, “If you don’t stop doing that, I will burn the eggs.”

“Tragedy,” Jonny agrees. He pulls back, though, resting with his back against the counter next to Patrick, arms folded across his chest. “So talk.”

Patrick gives him a look. “Seriously? That’s your lead in?”

“You’re the one who-“ Jonny starts, and then cuts off at the look Patrick gives him. “I didn’t realise there was anything until the wedding.”

Patrick turns off the stove, moving the pan over to a free burner. “That makes sense. Broshie - T.J - said that you didn’t know when someone was into you.”

Jonny frowns. “What does T.J. have to do with this?”

“He said shit when we were in Buffalo. Said you never knew that someone was into you so I spent months thinking you weren’t like, gay or whatever. Especially when David said-“

“Patrick,” Jonny says, grabbing Patrick’s hip and turning him around. “I’ve never thought about it.”

Patrick frowns. “Not even-“

“You’re different,” Jonny admits slowly. “You’re - I wanted you and it felt like every time we got somewhere, it would go to shit.”

“After Christmas, I thought it was okay, you know? Then you pulled away for whatever reason, and I thought you didn’t want me, that it was just because you didn’t have hockey.”

“You’re an idiot,” Jonny says softly. Patrick opens his mouth to refute that, but Jonny keeps talking, fingers tightening on Patrick’s hip. “I wanted it to - I was playing again and it was good but people were being asshats about it and I wanted - I didn’t want us to be in the focus. I just wanted everyone to talk about the hockey and for us to be private.”

Patrick knows he should have known that all along; Jonny’s never liked their relationship to be anything but private. “You said last night about us sleeping together and I thought - I wasn’t sure why you slept with me after the wedding. I thought I was there and it was convenient or-“

Jonny looks angry at that, shaking Patrick gently. “You think I would ever - fuck, Patrick, you know me better than that!”

“I know,” Patrick snaps. He pauses. He doesn’t want to get mad at Jonny, not now that they’re finally on the same page. “I don’t want to fight with you. It is what it was, Jonny. But I did, you know, want you. All the time.”

“And I wanted you,” Jonny assures him quietly, pressing his nose into Patrick’s cheek. “Still do.”

Patrick grins. “Why wouldn’t you? I’m a fucking catch.”

“Keep telling yourself that, Kaner.”

“You married me.” Patrick will never tire of saying that, especially not now that they’re fucking official or whatever it is they are. “By accident, but.”

“But not anymore,” Jonny finishes. His eyes are crinkling in the corners and his smile is dumb but he still manages to look hot and it’s all for Patrick.

“Husbands, huh?” Patrick’s always liked the sound of it, knows Jonny will take advantage of this completely embarrassing and terrible thing he has about their rings and being called husband while having sex. “I can live with that.”

“You better,” Jonny says, but he leans in to kiss Patrick anyway.

---

The eggs are ruined by the time they stop kissing and their stomachs remind them of what they were doing in the kitchen in the first place, so they call for takeout instead. Jonny’s pretty clear about his intentions for the next couple of days, considering they don’t even have morning skate.

They’re on the couch, surrounded by take-out cartons, Jonny braced above Patrick, and making out. Patrick wants to get used to this, the feel of Jonny’s weight pressing him into the cushions, the slide of Jonny’s mouth against his and the hand Jonny has on his ass, grinding their hips together.

They’re not stupid enough to forgo their workouts, but Patrick’s pretty happy to be making up for lost time, spending as much of their days off having sex and making out like this as much as possible.

He plants the heels of his feet into the cushions and shoves his hips up, feels his dick rub against Jonny’s. “You gonna-“

“Maybe,” Jonny says, his mouth still on Patrick’s. He runs his tongue alone Patrick’s bottom lip, twists his fingers into Patrick’s hair. “Kissing you right now.”

Patrick can work with this, relaxes his entire body under Jonny and lets Jonny have control; just for now. He’ll be more than happy to take it back again the next time.

Despite his words earlier, Jonny works his hand into Patrick’s sweatpants, fingers curling around his dick.

“Fuck.” Patrick shoves up into the curl of Jonny’s fingers, rests his own on the back of Jonny’s head and keeps him close, bites and licks into his mouth. God, Patrick’s not stupid enough to ignore the fact that Jonny’s getting really good at doing this with his left hand, the fucker, so that Patrick feels the slide of the wedding band against his dick.

“You’re a fucking asshole,” he pants, mouthing at Jonny’s jaw, not even really kissing or biting. God, he needs- “You do this on purpose.”

Jonny smirks down at him and twists his wrist and -

“Oh fuck, do that again.” Patrick feels like every nerve in his body is on fire, Jonny’s eyes dropping to the mark on his neck and Patrick knew he had a possession thing.

Jonny’s still jerking him off but Patrick’s more than capable of reciprocating, working his hand between their bodies and tugging down Jonny’s pants.

“You got a thing about marking me, Jonny?”

“Shut up,” Jonny bites out, but it goes a little tighter and raspy as Patrick’s hand wraps around his dick, thumb sliding over the head. “Jesus.”

Patrick’s thankful Jonny takes jerking off as like, a challenge or something so that, even while Patrick’s driving him insane with his fingers, he keeps his hand moving around Patrick’s dick.

“Bet you loved seeing me in that jersey,” Patrick pants out, groaning as Jonny’s ring catches and fuck, fuck, he’s never going to be over this shit.

Jonny gives a full body shudder and, oh, Patrick loves that.

“Mmmm the marks on my skin. Letting everyone know I’m yours, hmm?”

“You are,” Jonny bites out, his eyes black and wide, serious. “Mine.”

He pushes his face into Patrick’s neck and bites at his collarbone. Patrick bats Jonny’s hand away from his dick, takes over so that Jonny can plant his hand next to Patrick’s head and work his teeth and tongue over the skin of Patrick’s neck.

“Fuck,” he says, working his wrist over his own dick and Jonny’s. “Jonny-“

His entire body is alive with the feel of Jonny’s mouth, their dicks sliding together beneath his hand and oh, oh, fuck-

Patrick comes first, shaking apart and barely managing to keep his wrist moving. Jonny reaches down to grip his wrist in his fingers, looks down between their bodies and it’s enough. He lets out a strangled moan that turns into Patrick’s name as he comes, coating both of their stomachs.

Jonny drops down next to him, flopping onto his back. “Fuck.”

“Yeah.” Patrick lifts his hand, drops it onto Jonny’s hip and pats it. “Making up for lost time?”

Jonny gives him an unimpressed look. “We could always-“

“I’m not fucking complaining,” Patrick says, rolling over a little so that he can kiss Jonny easily. His fingers rest against Jonny’s jaw, thumbing at Jonny’s bottom lip. “We have four days off.”

His grin is as sleazy as he can make it and Jonny just rolls his eyes, twisting his hand in Patrick’s shirt. “Between working out-“

“Fuck yes,” Patrick says, leaning down for a kiss. They’re going to have to move and shower soon but Patrick’s pretty content until then.

---

“We were pretty fucking terrible teammates,” Patrick points out the day before their game against the Kings. “We should probably invite the guys round.”

It’s last minute and pretty terrible planning on their part but, as Sharpy says when they send the invite, “Typical you.” Asshole. Jonny’s Canadian upbringing and Patrick’s less-Canadian but no less awesome childhood pretty much mean they’re on top of the whole cleaning thing and by the time the guys arrive, they have the apartment looking a little less like they’ve spent the entire three days in bed, alternately sleeping and fucking.

Not that the guys aren’t able to tell.

“Tazer using you as a chew toy?” Stalberg says, patting Patrick’s cheek. “Nice medals, Kaner.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick says, affably. He makes sure to press against them when Jonny’s looking in his direction, though, and likes the way his eyes darken. Stalberg feigns throwing up and moves out onto the balcony, taking the beer Jonny holds out to him.

Guys trickle in in ones and twos, until over half the Blackhawks are filling up their condo and balcony.

“Fucking assholes,” Krugs says. “Lavish condo, amazing views and a regular sex life.”

Krugs,” Sharpy says, scandalised. “It’s bad enough we have to see the evidence of their sex life without talking about it.”

“I will punch all of you,” Shawzy puts in, waving his beer bottle around for emphasis. “I had enough of that last time, fuck.”

Patrick throws an arm around his shoulders. “Aww, Shawzy, but Tazer’s so-”

“Fucking shut up.” Shawzy twists out of his grip and Patrick laughs because he’s come to terms with his dickishness. “Ugh, why am I even on this team of assholes.”

Jonny’s over by the wall of the balcony, deep in conversation with Carbomb. Patric doesn’t even want to know what they’re discussing, but involves their phones and Jonny’s competitive face so he doesn’t really want to ask.

“We’re happy,” Hoss says, coming up behind Patrick.

Patrick jumps, jesus, Hossa is like, fleet footed or whatever and maybe they should start making him announce his presence. “Huh?”

“For you,” Hoss says, waving at Jonny. “You’ve been -”

“-Fucked up!” Shawzy yells.

“Sulking!” Saader throws in.

“-Unhappy,” Hossa finishes, throwing a glare at Saad and Shaw. Patrick snorts at the looks on their faces.

“We’re good,” Patrick assures him. “It got a bit- you know,” he waves his hand, “when we started playing hockey.”

Sharpy throws his arm around Patrick’s shoulders and drags him in for a one-armed hug. “Don’t worry, Boss. The kids have it sorted. They’re as loved up as they could ever be.”

He pinches Patrick’s cheek and Patrick laughs, ducking away from him. “Fuck off, Sharpy.”

He goes to join Jonny against the balcony, his back to the Chicago view, and wrapping both hands around his beer bottle. It’s a nice night, cool but not enough that he wants to go inside just yet. Jonny’s done with Carbomb, slides a hand around Patrick’s waist.

“Alright?”

Patrick nods. “Awesome.”

He means it; the team are relaxing, getting pumped for the next leg of the season, he and Jonny are actually working shit and out and maybe finding the ways they fit together in this marriage.

When they’ve finally cleared the condo of Blackhawks, Patrick’s about to call it a night when his phone buzzes with a text from Jackie.

What should I buy Jonny for his birthday?

Patrick panics for half a second before he remembers that, no, it’s not Jonny’s birthday yet. He’s pretty sure he set a gazillion alarms this time around, adamant that he wasn’t going to have a repeat of last year, especially not now that he and Jonny are married and Jonny managed to make his birthday the fucking best. Patrick’s pretty sure he’s going to have no idea what to get Jonny right up until his actual birthday, so he’s not sure why Jackie’s asking.

i dunno. ask mom.

Jackie shoots back with you’re a terrible husband and that’s a total lie. Just in case, Patrick sends texts to his mom and Jessica asking what they’re getting. He makes a mental note to call Erica when he has the time but sends her a text anyway.

Jessica sends, none of your damn business. luv you, his mom sends, go to bed, Patrick and Erica’s text, when it comes, is a little saltier. Call me, asshole. Maybe I’ll tell you. It’s fair. Patrick’s been a pretty terrible brother since Christmas and he knows it. He makes a mental note to call her when he doesn’t have back-to-back games and climbs into bed beside Jonny.

---

They lose to the Kings.

Patrick’s pissed off, hates how they played and wishes, not for the first time, that Sharpy and Hossa were fit enough to play. At least he’s not double-shifting anymore, and only has to play on his own line. He’s been exhausted the last couple of games, emotionally and physically, and it’s nice to have some energy when he comes off of the ice. He knows better than to give anything but textbook answers to the press, and changes quickly. The guys are pretty quiet in the locker room; nobody likes a loss, and it always feels a little worse when it’s by one goal, especially with a game where letting them get too many past Crow is unacceptable.

When he and Jonny get back to their condo, they move around each other in silence. Unlike previous weeks, the silence is comfortable, the two of them standing side by side at the sink, Jonny’s hand running through Patrick’s hair before he leaves the bathroom to let Patrick finish up, and being able to sink back into the bed in their own bedroom instead of a hotel.

“We’ll be better tomorrow,” Jonny says decisively.

Patrick just nods, shoves Jonny around until he’s in a position more comfortable for Patrick.

Jonny looks amused. “Everything to your liking?”

“Fuck off,” Patrick mumbles. They have skate tomorrow morning but he’s content with that, watching Jonny set his alarm and settle back down with his arm around Patrick’s shoulders. Patrick closes his eyes, falling asleep to his mental litany of playing better tomorrow.

They wake at the alarm, Jonny’s arm flailing around ridiculously until he grabs his phone and shuts it off. Patrick groans into the pillows, as he rolls off of Jonny. He just wants to sleep forever. “Fuck skate.”

Jonny says nothing, just mumbles incoherently into Patrick’s shoulder. They doze, comfortable for another ten minutes until Patrick’s phone starts vibrating across the bed stand, strains of Rock you like a Hurricane erupting around the room.

Jonny snorts. “So self-centered.”

“Screw you,” Patrick says, wondering why the hell Jonny’s not more incoherent. He looks back over his shoulder to see a dopey grin on Jonny’s face and god, he needs to put that thing away before morning skate. “Your face sucks.”

“Sure, Kaner,” Jonny says, way too smug for someone who’s usually the worst morning person.

“Why are you so cheery this morning? It’s disgusting.” Patrick buries his face back in the pillows and groans as Jonny’s fingers thread into his hair. He’s not sure which of them has grown to like that more. He pushes back into Jonny’s hand, ignoring Jonny’s amused hum.

“Up,” Jonny says, pulling back and patting Patrick’s thigh as he tosses the covers off. “Move it, Kaner.”

“You’re the worst,” Patrick moans.

While Jonny’s in the shower, he manages to get out of bed and pull together pants and a shirt, one of Jonny’s just to be a dick. He ducks around Jonny when he comes out of the bathroom and finds a spare towel already on the heating rack. Jonny smirks.

“Such a considerate husband,” Patrick mock-swoons and shuts the door in Jonny’s laughing face.

By the time he’s showered and dressed, Jonny’s already waiting by the door, the douchebag, car keys in one hand, phone in the other. Patrick’s hockey bag is against the wall and he raises an eyebrow. “You got my stuff ready? You really are a considerate husband.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Jonny mutters.

He can front all he likes, Patrick knows the truth.

They grab breakfast on the way to the rink and Patrick’s still got half a bagel in his mouth when they walk into the locker room, most of the other guys already changing. Sharpy, because he’s the biggest fucking tool in the locker room, takes notice of Kaner’s shirt immediately.

“Peeks! Run out of shirts?”

Jonny looks a little startled, like he’s only just noticing that Patrick’s wearing one of his shirts. The expression on his face is hilarious, until Sharpy sees it and zeroes in on it like a jerk. He grabs Patrick’s shoulders from behind, one hand resting low on his chest.

“He fills it out nicely, huh, Captain?”

“Sharpy,” Patrick says, trying to wriggle away. “Quit being a jerk.”

“Good luck with that,” Seabs laughs from the bench and fuck them all.

Jonny’s at his stall, the blush obvious across the back of his neck.

Sharpy lets him go. “I can understand. You’re packing this season, Peeks.”

Patrick grins, running a hand over his abs. “I always look great, Sharpy, screw you.”

“I dunno,” Stals says. “I think maybe you grew a few inches too, Kaner.”

Jonny’s lip twitches and Patrick slugs him in the arm. “You might actually meet your recorded Wiki height.”

“Oh fuck you,” Patrick says emphatically. “I already told you, I’m not the shortest.”

He looks pointedly at Shawzy who flips him off, saying, “I’m not actually shorter than you, fucker.” Laughing, Patrick turns to change into his gear.

Sharpy doesn’t let up with the whole shirt thing the entire skate. He grins obnoxiously the entire time. When Patrick pauses for a drink, Sharpy skates right up. “So the shirt thing.”

Patrick rolls his eyes and ignores him. He watches Shawzy and Bollig take their turn at shots on goal.

“Seriously, Peeks. Is this a carry-over from you wearing his jersey or what?”

“The fuck?” Patrick asks.

“Your pining in Switzerland?” God, Sharpy is such an asshole. “I thought you guys were solid.”

Patrick pushes off the boards and skates backwards, shrugging at Sharpy. “So invested in our happiness.”

“I did marry you,” Sharpy shoots back.

“Not this again,” Duncs says as he skates past. “You don’t get credit for getting them together.”

Shawzy and Bollig both mime throwing up and Patrick’s opening his mouth to berate them when Jonny barks, “Pay attention!”

He’s glaring at all of them, and not even Patrick’s, “I didn’t do anything,” is enough to get him to relax. Whatever, everyone sucks. Patrick throws himself into practice, determined to be baller enough that they’ll win against the fucking Flames.

---

“There’s gonna be scouts from like every team in the NHL,” Saad’s saying when Jonny comes out of the shower.

“Iginla.” Bicks nods knowingly. “Although a slight exaggeration there, Saader.”

“Not by much.” Carbomb is still rubbing his hair dry and he nods at Bicks. “Iginla’s hot shit for them right now. We all know it.”

“Not for us,” Jonny says, taking note of the younger guys and the expressions on their faces. He’s not sure what Bowman is looking for but with the way their team’s been playing, he hopes they’re not about to pull a trade. They’re already down Sharpy and Hoss, for longer still with their injuries, and Jonny doesn’t need any of the guys to start worrying about getting cut.

Duncs nods. “You kids should focus more on your game.”

Saader, Shawzy and Bollig start bickering about whose game is the worst. Jonny rolls his eyes and looks at Patrick - who’s keeping his head down, pulling on his jacket. The amount of trade rumours surrounding him seem to have faded, and rightfully so, not that Jonny’s ever let him really pay attention to them. Somewhere in the building there’s a contract that says Patrick is in CHicago for as long as Jonny as, as long as they both keep producing and he knows that’s not going to be a problem.

Jonny doesn’t think that anyone is getting traded out but he knows better than to say anything. He lets Duncs manage the kids - and he has to stop thinking about them like that and quickly - and knocks Patrick in the shoulder with his fist. “You ready?”

“Yup.” Patrick shoulders his bag, slipping his phone into his jeans pocket. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Hey Peeks,” Sharpy calls, looking up from lacing up his sneakers. “No trade for you! You’re hotter stuff than Iginla right now.”

“Damn straight,” Patrick says, adjusting the cap on his head. “Someone’s gotta make sure Jonny’s actually getting pucks that he can shoot into the net.”

There’s a chorus of jeers and laughs at that. Jonny shoots him an offended look. “Screw you?”

“Promise?” Patrick’s grin is sleazy. The jeers turn into fake throw-ups and scandalised expressions.

“Not if you keep this shit up,” Jonny says, but he throws an arm around Patrick’s shoulders and leads them out of the locker room.

---

The rest of the season passes in a blur. Patrick’s scoring points on goals and assists and the younger guys are working just as hard - all four lines are making it onto the board and Jonny’s proud of all of them. He doesn’t let himself - or them - get complacent, keeps the entire team focused and doesn’t let up when they lose, even if it’s only by a goal. They can’t afford to do anything less than play their best this close to the playoffs. They win games, they lose them and sometimes they scrape through on overtime. By the tail end of the season, Jonny’s confident that they’ll make it into the playoffs, and they’re contenders for the President’s cup.

“We’re gonna lose it to the Penguins,” Patrick says, dropping down onto the couch. He has a sandwich in his hands and shuffles around until he can rest his feet on Jonny’s thigh. “Not that I care.”

Jonny scowls. “You know how I feel about that shit.”

“Thing’s cursed.” Patrick wiggles his eyebrows. “Riddled with terrible shit, dude.”

“Shut up, Patrick.” Jonny turns the volume up on the TV but Patrick keeps grinning, digging his right heel into Jonny’s leg. Grabbing Patrick’s ankle, Jonny tugs him off a little. “Stop being an irritating little shit.”

Patrick settles down, tucking into his sandwich. “Can’t.”

Jonny snort. Why is he even with this asshole?

“You know even if you don’t believe in jinxes or superstitions, the evidence is right there, dude. Win the President’s cup, lose the playoffs. Now,” Patrick says, shoving his plate onto the coffee table and leaning forward, grabbing Jonny’s jersey and pulling him. “Do you want us to win the trophy or that huge ass fucking cup we need back in Chicago?”

“You know the answer.”

“Exactly.” Patrick’s smile is wide and huge and Jonny’s. “And you can get us there.”

Jonny closes the distance between them and kisses Patrick hard. Right. That’s what he’s doing with this asshole. Not just the kissing - the everything. Patrick shoves Jonny back, rests one hand on the back of the couch and the other on Jonny’s chest. He looks down at Jonny until Jonny shifts. “What?”

“I wanna lift that fucking cup with you, asshole. Make you kiss me right there on the ice.”

“As if,” Jonny snorts. There isn’t any way in hell that he’s going to let that happen.

Patrick just grins and leans in for another kiss.

---

Their last game is to the Blues two days before Jonny’s birthday. T.J. calls before they arrive and tells Jonny not to plan anything for the evening they’re in St. Louis and Jonny acquiesces. He’s not sure what T.J.’s got planned but from the hushed conversations Patrick keeps having on his phone from everyone to his sisters to Jonny’s mom, he’s sure it’s nothing compared to whatever Patrick has up his sleeve.

“You gonna tell me?”

“Nope.” Patrick shoves his phone in his back pocket and turns, resting against the counter. “Dude, you told me zero about your trip to Switzerland. Payback’s a bitch, huh?”

Jonny shrugs, aiming for nonchalant and missing by a mile. “No. I’m fine.”

Patrick leers. “You are fine.”

Ducking out of the way of Patrick’s hands, Jonny gives him a look. “In your pants till tomorrow. We have a game to win, first.”

“And Sidney Crosby to steal a President’s trophy off.” Patrick actually fist pumps. God, he’s so awful. Jonny’s willing to do the world a favor and keep him off the market.

“I thought you didn’t want it?” Jonny asks with a raised eyebrow.

Patrick looks unrepentant. “I just don’t want him to have it.”

Jonny brackets Patrick against the counter, hands either side of him. “If we weren’t married, I’d worry you were jealous.”

“Of your crush on Crosby?” Scowling, Patrick plants his hands on Jonny’s chest but doesn’t push him away. He doesn’t pull him in, either. “ can be married and jealous.”

“Not of Crosby,” Jonny tells him. It’s dumb. Jonny admires Sidney, of course he does, but so do a million other people. The only guy for Jonny is standing right in front of him. When he says so, Patrick’s face goes all soft and stupid.

“Good.”

“Oh yeah?”

Yes,” Patrick says. “Come on, loser. We have a game to prepare for.”

The locker room is noisy when Jonny and Patrick arrive. It’s their last game and there’s always that rush of elation at the end of the season, knowing you’ve made it to the playoffs. They have every right to be happy; they’ve been yo-yoing the top spot of the league table for the past sixteen games with the Penguins and they’re, mercifully, still a few points ahead of everyone in the Eastern conference. They’ve made the playoffs no matter how badly they play tonight, not that Jonny’s going to let anyone get away with playing anything less than their best.

“I hope you guys aren’t getting complacent.”

“As if you’d let us,” Seabs says as he passes, hitting Jonny in the chest with his glove.

Sharpy clutches his chest. “Captain, how could you even think that.”

Rolling his eyes, Jonny drops his bag in his stall and watches Patrick cross the room to his own. “You’re all assholes.”

“Not the motivation we need!” Bollig calls.

“Still assholes,” Kaner sing-songs. “I’m with Jonny.”

Shawzy nudges him with his shoulder. “Of course you are.”

Jonny lets the chatter wash over him. They need this game to be good. He doesn’t want to go into the playoffs with a loss - he wants to remind people that the Hawks are still as good as they were on their winning streak. He sits on the bench, watching the other guys change and work himself into the mindset for the game.

By the time he takes the ice, he’s ready to beat the Blues and head for the playoffs on a win.

---

Dude, that was awesome!” Shawzy hi-fives Patrick across the table. “That puck on your stick, man. People will be talking about that goal forever.”

“How many drinks has he had?” Jonny asks, deadpan, and Patrick kicks him under the table. “What?”

“Be nice. We just won the President’s trophy.” Patrick drags the last word out, hanging on Jonny’s shoulder. “And we’re gonna break that curse!”

Rolling his eyes, Jonny tugs Patrick in closer. “Eh. Maybe.”

“No maybe about it, Toews,” T.J. says. “You got the team this year, man.”

The Hawks around the table cheer to that with someone shouting for another round. Jonny settles back in his chair, content and yeah, maybe they can break the curse but he’s not stupid enough to think about it too long or mention it out loud. He doesn’t have superstitions but he doesn’t like to get too cocky.

Patrick looks around Jonny. “You’ve made it to the playoffs, Brosh. You could win the cup.”

T.J. has to look at him for a long time but Jonny’s already cracking a smile. When T.J. realizes Patrick’s having him on, he scowls. “Asshole! One day St. Louis will claim Stanley for themselves, you’ll see.”

“Stanley yes,” Sharpy throws in from across the table. “The cup, no.”

“You’re all assholes!” T.J. proclaims, taking the beer offered to him by Stalberg. “Why did I offer to come out with you?”

“My birthday?” Jonny reminds him with a raised eyebrow.

“And what a present.” Patrick wiggles his eyebrows.

“Are you talking about sex?” Shawzy asks loudly, listing heavily against Bollig. Bollig looks more amused than he has a right to and Jonny contemplates telling him to take Shawzy home.

Patrick nudges Jonny in the side. “Let him, dude. We don’t have a game for a couple of days.”

T.J.’s looking at Shawzy in amusement. “They all get like that?”

“About our sex life?” Jonny shrugs. “They’re assholes. So yes.”

Patrick grins into his drink when Jonny looks over, and then loops his ankle around Jonny’s. “One day they’ll grow up and have adult relationships too.”

“Fat chance,” Sharpy says. “There’s nothing adult about this team.”

“Are you including yourself?” Hoss asks, sending off a round of laughter.

T.J tosses back his drink and shoves his glass across the table. “I’ll tell you one thing. You’re all fucking crazy.”

Jonny thinks about contradicting him but, as he looks around the table, he can’t help but agree. They are crazy, but they’re the kind of crazy that just won a President’s trophy - and the kind of crazy that he hopes is going to win a Stanley Cup.

A few hours later, Patrick’s leaning heavily on Jonny, playing with the glass in front of him. Shawzy was close to passing out a few drinks back so Bollig offered to drive him home. Most of the other guys trickle out in ones and twos until it’s Jonny left at the table with T.J. and Patrick.

“Hey,” T.J. says, nodding at Patrick. “You wanna take your boy home?”

Jonny looks down at Patrick whose eyes are closed and his fingers slack on the table. “Kaner?”

Patrick mumbles something but doesn’t move.

“Yeah, I guess I am.” He looks apologetically at T.J.

“Seriously, don’t worry about it. I got to buy you birthday drinks. And I’ll take you out once the playoffs are over.”

Jonny spends ten minutes nudging Patrick awake and then onto his feet. Patrick looks at him with half-closed eyes, licking his bottom lip slowly.

“Christ,” T.J., says. “I knew you were gone for him, dude, but you might wanna put that face away.”

Jonny makes a face, but gets an arm around Patrick, who goes right back to leaning on him, hooking a finger in his belt loop.

“We going home?” Patrick slurs.

Jonny looks helplessly at T.J. who just laughs, nodding. “Take him home, dude.”

“Fine.” He gives T.J. an awkward, one armed hug and then gets Patrick moving. “Let’s get a cab.”

They’re standing by the side of the road waiting for the cab when Patrick lifts his face from Jonny’s shoulder and squints at him. “We’ll win the cup, right?”

Jonny rolls his eyes. “Kaner-”

“No like, we will. We can.” His eyes are oddly bright and Jonny doesn’t know what to say. “Because we can show ‘em, yeah?”

“Show who?”

Patrick scowls. “Them. Everyone who thinks we can’t play because we’re like, gay and married and shit. I wanna show ‘em, Jonny. Wanna show ‘em even gay we can win a cup.” He drops his head, scowling down at his sneakers.

Jonny feels something tight in his chest and cups the back of Patrick’s neck, thumb against the curve of his jaw. “Hey, Patrick look at me.”

Patrick tilts his head, frowning. “What?”

“We will, yeah? Twice in three years. Not bad.”

Patrick’s smile is lop-sided but wide, nodding. “Fuck yeah.”

---

Patrick settles into his seat on the plane, making sure to take the window seat because Jonny has a complaint about not being able to have easy access to the aisle for whatever reason he’s using now. Jonny sits in the seat next to him and becomes engrossed in a French magazine almost immediately. So all of his magazines are usually douchey and French but whatever, Jonny’s the one reading them.

Patrick texts his mom about attending the playoffs but gets a completely unrelated, Jonny’s package should be there when you get home. Patrick rolls his eyes. He challenges Jackie to a game of Words with Friends and settles back into play, twisting in his seat until he’s leaning against Jonny.

“You done?” Jonny asks a little later, looking over his shoulder at Patrick’s game.

Patrick shrugs. “Best of seven dude.”

Jonny snorts. “Getting in practice?”

Tilting his head back with a grin, Patrick gestures at the phone. “Not sure that finger workouts are gonna help on the ice.”

“Maybe not,” Jonny acquiesces. He keeps watching Patrick, though, pointing out words Patrick doesn’t see. He’s sure Jackie would call cheat if she knew what they were doing but, whatever, she’s always cooing about their co-dependency; she can suffer through it now. The flight passes in a blur of words and mocking and Jackie screeching about cheats once she realizes he has to be having help because he is not this good, WHO’S HELPING.

Patrick tucks his phone away as they near Chicago and puts the rest of his stuff in his overhead bag. Jonny scowls as he clambers over him to sit back down and Patrick rolls his eyes. “Quit being bitchy. We’ll be home soon enough and I’ll make it up to you.”

“Oh?” Jonny grins. “My birthday?”

No,” Patrick says emphatically. “Just a ‘yay we won’ thing. Your birthday deserves something special.”

“It does huh?” Jonny says, leaning in close. He doesn’t kiss Patrick though. “Like what?”

Patrick doesn’t say anything, just keeps grinning until Jonny shoves him a little and sits back. He’s not going to tell Jonny what he has planned, mostly because he’s a terrible fucking person and it took him like a million hours to come up with something and it’s probably still terrible. It’s certainly not going to beat an apartment. Jonny has serious issues.

Patrick likes being back in Chicago, likes being in their apartment even more, so he’s grateful when they finally push the door open and he can relax. The package for Jonny is tucked under one arm and he dumps it on the floor by his bed, watching the curious looks Jonny keeps giving it. It’s not that Patrick knows what’s in it, either. Patrick ignores him and drops face down on the bed.

“You’re not sleeping.” Jonny’s using his judgemental tone which Patrick promptly ignores.

Patrick waves a hand vaguely in Jonny’s direction. “Resting.” Jonny grabs Patrick’s ankles and pulls him. Patrick squawks, turns to look back over his shoulder. “You’re an asshole!”

Jonny looks disgustingly proud of himself and darts out of the way of Patrick’s kick, ducking back out into the kitchen. “Unpack your shit.”

“Fuck you!” Patrick shouts and god, he’s smiling. This shit should not be endearing. Jonny is awful. He reaches into his pocket for his phone and frowns at the low battery. God, if he’s going to field calls from his family, he’s going to have to charge it. “Jonny, where’s my charger?”

“Fucking hopeless,” he hears before Jonny pokes his head around the kitchen door. “In your carry on.”

Patrick rolls his eyes and grabs it, giving Jonny’s present one last look before he leaves the bedroom.

Later, while Jonny’s sacked out on the couch, watching some shitty nature program on the TV, Patrick grabs his keys from the table. “I’m headed out for a couple of hours. Back soon.”

Jonny peers over the arm. “Where are you going?”

“Out.” Patrick raises his eyebrows. “Want me to grab dinner on my way home?”

“Carbs,” Jonny warns.

“I know, asshole, chill the fuck out.” Patrick waves a hand as he heads for the door, shoving his phone in his back pocket in case Jonny wants to call. He’ll only complain, but whatever, Patrick’s used to that by now. He drives to Cabela’s, the only outdoor store Patrick knows is in the area.

When he gets there, he heads for the aisle he needs and stands at the end, looking overwhelmed. Jonny better fucking appreciate this is all because Patrick has no clue what he’s doing. Jonny bought him a $2 million fucking condo - Patrick can do this.

---

He wakes Jonny up in the morning with a blowjob.

Jonny makes a strangled sound as he wakes and garbles out Patrick’s name before snaking his hands under the covers to seek out Patrick’s head. He gets his fingers in Patrick’s hair, kneads his scalp and tugs at the strands in desperation. Patrick closes his eyes and sucks, hears the pants and noises Jonny’s making and loves it, loves that he’s the one making Jonny losing his shit like this. He presses one hand into Jonny’s hips to come him still and relaxes his throat. He’s new to this so he chokes but before Jonny can open his mouth to tell him to pull off or something, Patrick tries again and Jonny’s dick hits the back of his throat. Fuck.

There’s a yell from Jonny and then, “Fuck, Kaner, Patrick, please.”

Hearing Jonny beg is hot as fuck all the time and Patrick pulls back, keeping his hand wrapped around the base of Jonny’s dick. When he starts back up with his mouth, he makes sure to relax his throat, taking Jonny as deep as he can and is rewarded by Jonny’s hands sliding over his head, like he’s losing motor control.

Patrick sucks hard, lets Jonny’s dick hit the back of his throat and, with a yell, Jonny’s coming. Patrick swallows because he doesn’t have much choice, but he pulls off after a second, coughing and turning his face.

“Fuck,” Jonny mutters, drawing the word out. He flicks the covers off and looks down at Patrick, eyes wide and dark. “Get the fuck up here.”

Patrick does, watching Jonny intently as he grabs Patrick’s shirt and hauls him up for a kiss. It’s hungry and hard and Patrick groans, feels his own dick drag against Jonny’s thigh.

“Come on,” Jonny says, getting his hand between them.

“S’your birthday.” Patrick whines, even as his hips jerk forward, the delicious friction he needs.

Jonny gets his hand in Patrick’s sweatpants and around his dick, leaning in closer, dragging Patrick’s earlobe between his teeth before letting go. “And if I want to see you come on my birthday?”

Patrick groans, shudders and fucks into Jonny’s fist. “Guess I’d have to let that happen.”

“Yeah.” Jonny’s looking fucked out and awesome. Patrick knows he’s gotta look kinda dumb, with his hair in disarray and come on his face probably, but Jonny’s focused on him like he’s the hottest thing he’s ever seen and that shit’s kinda intense. He thrusts into Jonny’s fist, the head of his cock dragging against the fabric of his sweatpants and it feels so good.

“Jonny-”

“Yeah, come on,” Jonny encourages, getting his teeth on Patrick’s neck and biting down.

Patrick moans, long and drawn out, coming with another pump of Jonny’s fist. He collapses onto Jonny, letting him deal with the weight, and says what he hopes are actual words. “Happy birthday?”

It comes out slurred but what the fuck ever, Patrick is the best husband.

“To me,” Jonny says, amused. “Is that my birthday present?”

“Fuck no,” Patrick says, leaning into Jonny’s shoulder. “You’re getting fucking spoiled today, I guess.”

He thinks of the package his mom sent, the gear for Jonny he bought the night before and the parcels Jonny’s family sent over. He’s not going to begrudge Jonny today, not when he made Patrick’s birthday so awesome and when he’s actually taking a break from worrying about their potential playoff performance to enjoy himself.

Jonny looks content enough to lie around some more but Patrick pats his hip. “Come on, lazy. Get the fuck out of bed.”

“Why, do we have plans?” Jonny looks like he’s fishing for something.

“No,” Patrick says. “I just wanna move to the couch. Up.”

They relocate to the couch and while Jonny’s getting food from the kitchen, Patrick moves the two family parcels into the living room and onto the coffee table. He settles down with most of the cushions bracketing him and gives Jonny a wide grin when he comes back.

Jonny raises an eyebrow. “Want me to sit on the floor?”

Patrick adjusts some of the pillows. “You have to open shit first.”

Ignoring Patrick’s carefully arranged pillow structure, Jonny grabs the two boxes and drops down next to Patrick, scattering cushions everywhere.

“You’re such an asshole.” Patrick grumbles, elbowing Jonny back so he can lie mostly on top of him. He’s discovering that Jonny makes one hell of a pillow when he’s in the right place. He puts SportsCenter on mute while Jonny opens his presents, throwing packing and wrapping paper onto the floor when Jonny throws it on him because he’s an asshole.

Patrick’s sisters are pretty awesome with their gifts, getting Jonny mostly clothes - he’s pretty sure they’re doing it on purpose because it’s all stuff Patrick’s pointed out he likes. God, his sisters are the worst. He digs his phone out from between the cushions and sends one text to all three of them; Stop encouraging his possessive behaviour.

Don’t front, you love it.

Wouldn’t happen if you wore your own clothes.

Jonny doesn’t need help encouraging possessiveness.

He hates all three of them. Passionately.

“What did they say?”

“They’re mocking me,” Patrick says, scowling down at the clothes on the floor.

Jonny smirks like he knows exactly what’s going on. “You would look good in this shit.”

“Oh fuck you.” Patrick kicks him in the thigh. “What did your mom get you?”

He peers over Jonny’s shoulder to see into the box. It’s mostly food because Jonny’s mom is a goddess where that’s concerned.

“Man, where does she find time to be so badass at cooking? She’s like, an awesome business lady and shit, right?”

“Yes Patrick,” Jonny says, deadpan. “‘Awesome business lady’ looks great on her resume.”

Patrick grabs one of the candies out of the box for that. He bites into it before Jonny says, “It’s a maple syrup candy.”

There’s a moments pause where Patrick considers spitting it out. He only doesn’t because Jonny’s looking at him and because it tastes pretty fucking good, actually. “It’s gross.”

Jonny just raises an eyebrow. “Sure. You’re not spitting it out.”

Patrick flips him off and swallows, eyeing the rest of the candy as Jonny rests the box on the floor. Jonny grabs the remote from Patrick’s other side and turns the volume up a little. There’s some segment on the NHL and Patrick rolls his eyes. Of-fucking-course. “Checking up on our chances?”

“It’s my birthday,” Jonny says. He gestures at the screen. “i wanna watch hockey.”

“You’re a moron,” Patrick informs him warmly. He climbs over Jonny and off of the couch, heading for the closet. Jonny was asleep when he came back from Cabelas and he managed to shove Jonny’s present in the closet. “It’s not wrapped.”

“What are you talking about?”

Patrick rolls his eyes. “Your present.”

He throws open the door and a fishing pole immediately falls out and hits Patrick on the head as it goes.

“Ow, motherfucker!”

Jonny’s laughing but he comes up behind Patrick, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Patrick-”

“Fucking shitty fucking poles,” Patrick mutters, grabbing the poles and gear he’d bought out of the closet. He straightens and smiles, feeling tension bleed out of him at the look on Jonny’s face. “Happy birthday.”

Grinning, Jonny shakes him a little. “You realise we have fishing gear in Buffalo, right?”

“Ugh whatever.” Patrick gestures at the floor. “This is for like, Lake Toews.” At Jonny’s sceptical look, he shrugs. “Look, you’ve never been there which is fucking weird, dude, It was named after you and having to get a helicopter there is no excuse when you can buy your husband a $2 million condo.”

Jonny looks a little taken aback. He opens his mouth to say something but Patrick pokes him in the chest.

“I hate fishing as much as I hate losing to the Canucks but I will absolutely sit on a shitty bank at Lake You so that you can catch fish or whatever.”

After a long silence, Jonny just says, “Patrick,” and pulls him in for a kiss. When they pull apart, Jonny’s frowning over the supplies like, what, Patrick’s going to forget something when he bought literally three of everything. “You did buy bait?”

Patrick blinks. “Buy what now?”

Jonny rolls his eyes and shoves Patrick back against the wall, kissing him again, with more fervor.

They have sex on the couch after they’re finished with dinner and then move it to the bedroom for round two just before they’re set to crash for the night.

“So,” Patrick says, flopped on his back and staring at the ceiling. “Better than mine?”

“And people call me the competitive asshole,” Jonny mutters. “It’s a competition?”

“Isn’t everything?” Patrick turns his head to grin.

Jonny hits him on the hip and goes back to dozing a little. “It was okay.”

It was awesome and they both know it. Patrick lets Jonny think he got away with being a douchebag, though. It’s his birthday.

---

Two days later, they’re set to play San Jose in the first round of the playoffs and Patrick’s fucking ready for it. They’re pretty much taking advantage of playing at home. Playing away has been better for them, but they’re taking the wins back to Chicago, and having just won the President’s trophy means they end up playing the first game of the first round at the UC. Patrick’s usually jittery before the playoffs start and he can tell he’s pissing Jonny off but whatever, it’s not like Patrick didn’t irritate him last year, coming around to Jonny’s apartment every day to annoy him.

“Sit the fuck down,” Jonny snaps when Patrick’s done his second round of the living room, not able to sit down.

“Jonny,” Patrick whines, dropping down onto the couch. “I can’t.”

“You’re a fucking child, I swear to god.”

Jonny’s looking a little tense around the eyes which is normal for him. Patrick can read the tension in his body as much as he feels the anticipation in his. “We’re going to be awesome.”

“It’s the playoffs,” Jonny says, derisively. “It doesn’t matter how we played during the season if we fuck this up.”

“Shut up,” Patrick says, kicking Jonny’s leg. “There’s a difference between being logical about approaching a game and being a dickwad. We’re not going to fuck it up. We’re going to play as well as we can and that’s all you can ask.”

Jonny gives him a look and Patrick sighs, shifts on the couch until he can slug Jonny in the arm and crawl into his lap.

“A normal captain would ask for that. You’re just never going to be satisfied, we all know it. But if you think the guys would let you down, Jonny, well, you’re wrong. They’ll play as well as they can. And, if for some reason we don’t, you’ll be there to slam your stick into the boards and berate us while still on the ice.” He grins, leaning in for a kiss when Jonny’s scowl deepens. It’s always hilarious to remind Jonny that was a thing he actually did. Jonny kisses back, however pissed off he might be right and, by the time Patrick pulls back, his thumb against Jonny’s chin, Jonny’s looking less annoyed. “We can do this. Make it to the third round, at least.”

“Fuck that,” Jonny snaps, as Patrick hoped he would. “We’re getting that fucking cup.”

“Fuck yeah we are.” Patrick leans in for another kiss, aware they’re going to have to nap and actually get ready for the game in a couple of hours.

Patrick’s silent for the ride to the UC and most of the time he’s getting changed into his gear. It’s not that he doesn’t react to teasing and chirping, but he’s trying to get his head on right. HIs only disturbance comes in the form of Saader, who drifts over from the other side of the locker room.

“What’s up?”

Saader looks a little wide-eyed and Patrick knows the feeling; he remembers the playoffs his rookie season. “How do you, you know, it’s the playoffs?”

Patrick finds himself grinning. “You have a question?”

“God, sorry,” Saad says, and then straightens. “It’s the playoffs. Is there anything I do that-”

“Saader, look,” Patrick interjects. “Why aren’t you asking Jonny?”

Saad looks over at where Jonny’s pretty much glaring down at his skates like they hold all the answers to the unsolved questions of the universe. Patrick rolls his eyes. “He looks like he doesn’t want to be bothered.”

“He’s weird,” Patrick agrees. “You gotta think about it like this. At the end of this round, we’re one step closer to the cup, right? You play like you want to put your hands on it, like you won’t be satisfied until you’ve embarrassed the team you’re playing and you helped bring that cup to Chicago.”

Saad looks thoughtful. “Doesn’t everyone do that?”

Patrick shrugs. “Sometimes the other team is better. You can’t let them. You show them why you were called up to Chicago, show them why you’re the best fucking rookie in the league, you got it?”

“But I’m-”

Saader,” Patrick says, resting a hand on his shoulder. “You gotta forget stats, buddy. Think about what you really want.”

“The Stanley Cup.”

“So play like you want it.”

Saader nods then, and gives Patrick a tight smile as he walks away. Patrick’s grin falters as he turns back to his stall and sees Jonny looking at him from his own, expression torn between grim, impressed and proud.

Patrick tries to take his own advice; he plays like he wants the cup in his fucking hands, because he does. He wants to show every doubter, every person who said he and Jonny don’t belong in the league if they want to be married that they do, that they can play hockey as well as they ever have. He wants to prove to himself that he can still play like he did in the 2009 season.

They win the game 2-1 and it feels fucking great.

“Only another three at least, right?” Stals says, dropping down into his stall.

Jonny looks murderous but that’s probably because, like usual, they were sloppy in the third period and turned over one too many pucks that ended with Marleau scoring in the last few minutes. He sulks all the way through getting changed and leaving the UC. They have a days rest which Jonny will no doubt spend muttering around the apartment about things that need to change but Patrick’s used to it by now, so he lets Jonny do whatever the fuck he needs to and tries to keep his attention on the game.

The playoffs usually pass in a blur of wins and losses for Patrick but he tries to pay more attention this time; the days gap between games is a relief and he always takes advantage of the time to get his head back together if they lose. That doesn’t seem to be a problem where San Jose are concerned; they take the first three games, including the first in San Jose, and Patrick tries to ignore the gay jibes the fans still throw down from the stands.

“That’s not going to change,” his mom says later, when he calls her while Jonny’s asleep on the couch in Patrick’s lap. He’s tired from playing like he’s possessed and wearing himself out.

“It fucking should,” he says, and then apologizes for swearing.

His mom sighs. “I know sweetheart. But you’re showing them where it matters the most. You have three wins.”

“Two of those are only by one goal,” Patrick mutters. Most of their season wins have been by one goal so it’s not really the problem.

“Keep playing like you are, Patrick, for the people who matter - your teammates and your fans. They’ve never given you cause to not play your hardest.”

Patrick relaxes back into the couch, his hand still on Jonny’s head where it’s resting in his lap. “Yeah okay. Thanks, mom.”

“You’re welcome. Your father and I will come down for a game if you like.”

Snorting, Patrick nods. “Yeah sure. The Stanley Cup final.”

“Well, then,” his mom says, matter of fact. “You better get there.”

---

“Are we really through the first round?” Saader asks, standing in the middle of the locker room like he’s forgotten where his stall is.

Pulling off his pads, Shaw grins and nudges Patrick. “Was I ever like that?”

Patrick pretends to think about it and then nods. “Worse.”

The locker room feels lighter now that they’ve passed through the first round. It was four fucking straight wins and it’s the first time they’ve gotten through the first round in two seasons.

“Fuck, this feels good, huh?” Patrick asks, when he and Jonny are on their way out of the building. Jonny looks set to give Patrick his usual don’t get complacent talk so Patrick rolls his eyes. “Feel it, man. We’ll be better, but you gotta let yourself have the small things.”

“Patrick-”

Patrick turns, shoves Jonny against the car and curls his fingers into the lapels of Jonny’s jacket. “I swear to god, Jonny. Feel the fucking win. We have six days off for you to go all captain on us, okay?”

Finally Jonny nods and leans in for a kiss. “Second round.”

“Yeah,” Patrick nods. “We got that, too.”

He smiles confidently enough that Jonny snorts and shoves him back. “Get in the car. Let’s go home.”

They spend the next couple of days checking out how the other teams in the conference are progressing. Patrick also checks the Eastern conference because he’s a masochist and whatever, it’s not like the entire fucking league doesn’t know the Pens will make it to the final. They won their first round, not by as far a margin as the Hawks, but that doesn’t mean anything.

When they learn the Blues were knocked out, they send a commiserating text to T.J but don’t get a response, which isn’t really a surprise. Patrick knows how he reacted to their first round loss and, while he knows nobody is probably going to react like that, T.J. will at least be getting drunk tonight.

“We’re playing Minnesota,” Jonny says, shoving the laptop around so that Patrick can see the stats.

Patrick frowns. “They beat the Kings? Fuck.”

Jonny just shrugs while Patrick scrolls through the rest of the results. Anaheim and Vancouver are the other two teams to make it through and Patrick scowls. He’s not sure he wants to play either if they make it through the second round.

Vancouver because it’s Vancouver and Anaheim because they can’t seem to pull a fucking win when they play the Ducks.

“Don’t lose that enthusiasm,” Jonny says, pulling the laptop away. “We can beat all of those fucking teams.”

Patrick focuses back on the TV. “We’re a fucking mess against the Ducks every time man, don’t front.”

“So we’ll play better.” Jonny shuts his laptop. “I want that Cup.”

They do play better. Their first two games against the Wild are at the UC again, which Patrick is beginning to think is a bit of a good luck charm. Their home crowd is at their back all the time and he knows hearing the Let’s go hawks! chant every game does good shit for team morale. Not that their fans have ever been lacking there, even when playing away during the regular seasons, being able to hear their fans in another team’s rink was always a lift.

The first game they take by one goal, and then the second with the same result. Like the beginning of the regular season, all four lines are producing goals and assists and Patrick’s feeling pretty elated by the time they board the plane to fly to Minnesota. The guys are in a good mood and, unfortunately, it sounds like it on the plane. Patrick likes to sleep as much as he can when they fly, so he’s pretty bitchy by the time they land, and he’s not even sorry.

“You deal with the brat,” Sharpy says as he passes, knocking his hand into Jonny’s side. “Should be fun.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick snaps. He wants his bed.

Jonny rolls his eyes. “Remember when I called you a child?”

Patrick elbows him hard and shifts his bag onto his shoulder. Whatever. After some sleep he’ll be fine.

He feels pretty terrible over the next few days but it’s not until the second game that he starts to feel like shit and god, he aches all over but he takes to the ice anyway because whatever, he needs to play.

“Patrick,” Jonny says, sharp and angry when they come off at first intermission. “Look at me.”

Patrick blinks quickly and looks Jonny in the eye. “What?”

“Are you getting sick?”

“No?” Patrick shakes his head. He’s not. He’s just tired or something, that’s all.

Jonny squints, and grabs Patrick elbow to drag him into a corner out of the way. “Tell me the truth, Pat.”

Patrick sags a little and shrugs. “I dunno. I feel like shit but it’s just because I didn’t sleep on the plane.”

“No,” Jonny says, matter-of-fact. “It’s not. You shouldn’t be on the fucking ice.”

“I gotta play,” Patrick snaps. “You can’t-”

“I’m telling Q,” Jonny says, and it’s his captain tone, the one that brooks no argument. Patrick can act like a bratty child all he wants but he knows Jonny will follow through. “We have a day off tomorrow.”

Patrick nods, still a little angry, and knowing that Q is going cut back on his shifts because of this, but he’s not about to fight it. He is pretty tired and his bed sounds just as inviting as it did when they were on the plane.

Jonny wraps a hand around the back of Patrick’s neck and sucks in a breath. “God, why didn’t you say something?”

“It was like, five seconds before we boarded the plane.” Patrick lets his head drop forward onto Jonny’s chest, not even caring that they’re in the locker room. It’s not like any of the guys are going to call them on it.

“Next time tell me.” Jonny sighs. “We’ll get a later flight if we need to, but you’re gonna rest when we get back to the hotel.”

Patrick lets out a slow breath. “Fine. Can we finish this game, now?”

They do finish the game but at a loss. It’s a one goal loss so it’s not their worst game, but Patrick still feels pretty terrible anyway. Jonny looks angry but it drops off pretty quickly when he looks over. Patrick’s changing pretty slowly, aching in the worst ways. Jonny played through his flu, so Patrick can totally do the same, if Jonny would just let him.

“Come on,” Jonny says, keeping his voice low. “I told Q I’d update him in the morning.”

“Are they gonna scratch me?”

Jonny shrugs. “Depends how you feel on Wednesday, Patrick.”

Patrick’s pretty grateful to be able to fall into bed when they get back to the hotel. He falls down face first and spreads out over the covers, groaning. “Sleep.”

Jonny mutters something Patrick doesn’t catch, and then grabs Patrick’s left ankle.

“What are you doing?” Patrick turns his head so that he can look at Jonny through half-lidded eyes.

“Calm down, I’m just helping.”

Patrick dozes a little as Jonny tugs off his shoes, socks and pants. He’s almost totally asleep by the time Jonny makes him sit up. He groans, his body protesting the movement, as Jonny pulls his shirt over his head. “Mm’tired.”

“I know, Pat.” Jonny gets Patrick under the covers and then leans down to kiss him on the cheek. “Go to sleep.”

Patrick’s awake enough to frown. “Aren’t you getting in?”

Jonny’s smile is warm and small. “Yeah, I’m just gonna get changed. Sleep.”

Patrick is aware of Jonny climbing in beside him but wakes only enough to curl around him, face in Jonny’s shoulder, and then falls back asleep to the feel of Jonny’s fingers in his hair.

He wakes a couple of times in the night, alternating between shivering and being too hot and knowing he’s annoying Jonny. Jonny gets a little irritated sometimes but his expression almost immediately smoothes out.

“Fucking hate being sick,” Patrick mutters, watching the numbers on the clock turn over to 5am and then closing his eyes again.

Jonny groans something that might be an affirmative. He’s been pretty great through the night but Patrick’s still feeling shitty when he wakes a couple of hours later, still aching and feeling like his head is going to explode.

He wonders if this is what it felt like for Jonny with his concussion and whimpers when Jonny goes to move.

“I’m just getting you some water,” Jonny says, slipping out of the bed. Patrick refuses to open his eyes until Jonny’s got a hand on his elbow. “Take the meds, Pat.”

Patrick does, sinking back into the bed when he’s done. He’s almost asleep when he hears Jonny on the phone.

“-flying back with you guys.”

“We can,” Patrick says. He sounds like shit but whatever, they have to fly home tonight. “Don’t wanna be sick here.”

Jonny stares at him for a long time, assessing whether or not he believes Patrick, probably. Patrick tries not to look too pathetic and eventually Jonny says, “We’ll be flying back. I don’t think he’s contagious - I feel fine.” Jonny nods a couple of times before hanging up. “How do you really feel?”

“Like my head’s going to fall off,” Patrick admits. “And I ache like I’ve been pounded against the boards for four games straight, but I’m fine to fly home.”

“Right,” Jonny says, but he still looks dubious.

He has every right to; the journey back is like the worst kind of torture. The second they get to their seats, Jonny lifts the arm and arranges Patrick to his liking, until he’s sprawled out mostly over Jonny. Patrick manages to sleep this time, his face against Jonny’s shoulder and hand clenched in Jonny’s shirt. He’s not embarrassed about it; Jonny’s a good pillow and Patrick’s feeling like shit. He wakes at Jonny’s nudge.

“We’re landing,” Jonny says quietly.

Patrick’s got a blanket thrown over him and he’s still pressed against Jonny’s chest.

“You feeling alright, Peeks?” Sharpy asks from across the aisle. He actually sympathetic for once so Patrick just nods.

He doesn’t feel alright but he’s sure only Jonny can tell. He stays curled up against Jonny until he’s forced to move as they land, making sure all of his things are back in his bag. He closes his eyes, head still pounding, and is grateful for Jonny’s arm on the small of his back as they work their way through the airport.

“You’re not playing tomorrow,” Jonny says, when they’re in the cab on the way back to the apartment.

Patrick’s got his eyes closed, head back against the seat and he sighs. “We gotta win.”

Jonny wraps his arm around Patrick’s shoulders, kisses the top of his head. “We will,” he promises. “Then you can help us with the third round.”

Patrick’s half-asleep when Jonny comes home from the game. He feels the bed dip and breathes out slowly. “We win?”

“Yes,” Jonny says, sounding as pleased as he ever does during the playoffs. He pulls Patrick back against him, sliding his hand under Patrick’s shirt and splays his fingers over Patrick’s chest. “You’re still hot. Doing okay?”

“Better,” Patrick mumbles. He still doesn’t feel one hundred percent but, by the time they start the third round, he’ll be ready. “Who we playing?”

“Don’t know yet. Anaheim have the edge.”

Patrick groans but rests his own hand on Jonny’s arm. “Sleep. Talk later.”

“Sure,” Jonny agrees, kissing the back of Patrick’s neck.

He feels a little better in the morning, enough that he can actually get out of bed and join Jonny on the couch. He knows he’s the worst patient in the world and tells Jonny that, only to get a shrug.

“Pretty sure I was just as bad.”

“Yeah, well,” Patrick snorts. “At least I didn’t play a whole game with flu.”

Jonny scowls. “You don’t have much moral high ground. You played a your shifts.”

Patrick can’t argue, so he just nods and eats the toast Jonny gave him. It’s the first food he’s had in a few days, but he’s not stupid enough to eat it too fast, however hungry he is.

They catch the stats that night, Patrick with his head in Jonny’s lap and holding his iPad up so that he can see it. “We got Anaheim for sure.”

“Eh, we can beat ‘em.” Jonny sounds confident. “You’ll be back for the first game.”

---

It’s some sort of twisted karma that they lose the first game. It’s a shutout and it feels pretty shit. Patrick feeling better, finally, but he knows he’s not playing his best and it shows in the stats - and in the gameplay he watches later.

Jonny gives a distinctly angry lecture in the locker room which they all pay attention to. It’s their worst loss of the playoffs and they know they’ve got to improve all over the board if they’re going to actually beat the Ducks.

Shaw nods when Jonny’s done, sitting in his stall with his head in his hands. “They play possessed.”

“They’re a team, just like any other. They know how to make our weaknesses work for them. We just have to do the same thing.” Jonny says, pausing long enough to get a nod from everyone. “Good. Rest up. We’re going to win the next one.”

Somehow they fucking do. Like most of their playoff games it’s only by a goal but it’s still a win. The beat reporters seem to have a good time running with stories about their first win against the Ducks and Patrick’s feeling too elated to worry about any references to his performance. He’s been fucking sick, okay, it has nothing to do with him losing enthusiasm for the game or whatever shit they’re saying.

“Score and they won’t care,” is the only advice Sharpy has, not that Patrick asked. “You’re playing like you’re on fire, Peeks.”

“Gotta show you up,” Patrick says. “Then again, it’s not really hard.”

“Oh, fuck you.” Sharpy laughs, so Patrick backs away with a grin.

Jonny’s looking a little better than he has the past few days and Patrick makes sure to kiss him extra hard before they go to bed that night. “Thanks for taking care of me, dearest.”

Jonny screws up his face. “You’re an asshole.”

“But you love me,” Patrick insists, sprawling across the bed.

“For some reason,” Jonny agrees. He’s standing at the end of the bed looking fucking hot, not that Patrick’s allowed to do anything about it for another few days. He was cockblocked by flu and now he’s being cockblocked by the third round. His life.

“I’m gonna need celebratory sex if we get through this round,” Patrick informs Jonny when he finally climbs into bed.

“Oh, you are, eh?” Jonny grins against Patrick’s neck. “I might be washing my hair.”

“For a whole day?”

Jonny snorts. “Score three goals over the next four games and I might think about it.”

“Oh you’re on,” Patrick says, turning his head enough to kiss Jonny one more time before falling asleep.

Patrick does get his three goals - over three games instead of four. They’re up on the Ducks by one game - they lost one but won two - and now they have one left to play. They’re in Anaheim for the last game, and Patrick’s pacing the hotel, a little wild. Fuck. “We’re one game away from the finals, Jonny. Are we going to fucking-”

“Sit down,” Jonny says, putting his phone back in his pocket.

Sitting down on the edge of the bed, Patrick stares down at his hands. “One game away.”

“We haven’t played it yet,” Jonny says, diplomatically. “Whatever happens will happen.”

Patrick stares back over his shoulder, incredulous. “Are you kidding me?”

Jonny raises his eyebrows. “What do you want me to say? ‘You better fucking win or I’ll kick your ass?’”

“Yeah,” Patrick says, grinning. “That’s exactly it.”

“So. We better win or I’ll kick your ass.” Jonny smirks, asshole, and Patrick crawls up the bed to kiss him.

“I did what you said.” Patrick rocks back on his heels. “Which means the moment we get back to Chicago, you’re blowing me.”

Jonny just looks at him, smirking, so Patrick leans in to kiss it off his face.

---

Jonny comes off the ice in a bit of a daze. The locker around him is alive with sound because they did it. They beat the Ducks in overtime, taking the Conference Final and earning their place in the Stanley Cup final.

“Holy fuck,” Saader says, sitting in his stall. “Holy fuck.”

“Calm it down, kid,” Duncs says. “We don’t have the Cup yet.”

“We will.” Patrick looks pretty confident and Jonny gives him a look. “What? We can beat the Pens, Jonny.”

“Oh?” Jonny has already seen the results of the Eastern Conference. The Pens beat the Bruins with four games to one, which leaves the Hawks facing them in the final. It’s been a final people have been whispering about all season and now that it’s here, Jonny knows they can’t get complacent. “Like Duncs says, we don’t have the Cup yet.”

Patrick just shrugs. “Well, we have two days to get in shape before we take them on here at home, right?”

“Yes.” Jonny looks at everyone pointedly. “Which means keeping up with-”

“-your training-” Seabs says.

“Making sure you-”

“-Stay focused,” Sharpy puts in, helpfully.

“And-”

“-Love the game,” Patrick, Shaw and Stalberg all chime in together.

Jonny flips them all off with both hands. “Fuck you all.”

“Patrick has monopoly on that,” Krugs says.

Jonny hates his team. Hates them. Patrick’s grinning like an idiot, so Jonny just rolls his eyes and changes back into his street clothes. He has to endure a flight home of Patrick going out of his mind with excitement at making the final, but Jonny makes a point to remind him that they have to call their parents. Jonny’s not a hundred percent sure he wants their families to mingle at the Cup finals of all places, but having them there isn’t going to affect their luck or anything.

“I thought you didn’t believe in luck,” Patrick says, checking his ridiculous haircut in the mirror.

Jonny runs his hand through the curls, tugging them a little. “I hope you’re cutting this when we’re done,” he says, avoiding the question.

Patrick narrows his eyes but doesn’t call Jonny on it. “Maybe. Come on, asshole,” he says, turning and grabbing Jonny’s wrist. “You owe me a blowjob.”

Sighing, looking put upon, Jonny lets Patrick lead him into the bedroom. “Guess I better reward those goals, eh?”

“They were fucking baller, dude.” Patrick looks pretty proud of himself and, yeah, they were good. Jonny gets hot watching Patrick stick handle, not that he’ll ever admit to that. He thinks Patrick knows from the way he behaves in morning skate sometimes, but then again they spent months unable to figure out they were in love, so Jonny doesn’t think either of them are able to say they’re perceptive.

Jonny pushes Patrick down onto the end of the bed and drops to his knees and proceeds to give Patrick exactly what he asked for.

“Fuck.” Patrick draws the word out, turning his head to look at Jonny. “You’re getting pretty fucking great at that.”

Jonny preens. “Well. Can’t have you being better at it.”

Patrick snorts. “Right.” He pauses to run a hand over his face. “You call your mom yet?”

“Nice subject change there, Kaner.”

“Fuck you.” Patrick hits him weakly in the arm. “Did you?”

“Yeah. She and Dad are coming down with David for a game at some point. Says she called your mom?”

Patrick nods. “Yep. Mom says they’re co-ordinating or something, I don’t know. It’s a conspiracy.”

“Yes,” Jonny replies. “Our moms do such terrible things when they get together. Like plan our wedding.”

Patrick’s face immediately softens. “Don’t remind me. What a terrible fucking affair that was.”

Jonny rolls over, hovering over Patrick’s body with a look. “Oh? That bad, huh?”

“Yeah,” Patrick says, grinning a little. “The guy I married is awful.”

“Awful,” Jonny says, skeptically. “Really?”

“No.” Patrick sounds a little breathy, and he tugs Jonny down. “Awesome.”

“Damn right.” Jonny kisses him.

---

Jonny spends most of the next few days alternating between happy, frustrated and angry. The Pens have been playing well all fucking season but having to play against them is fucking difficult. They know each others’ weaknesses and what the Pens lack in defense, they make up for in offense. What the Hawks lack in faceoffs and hits, they make up for with keeping the puck the hell away from the Pens and goaltending. They’re too well matched to make the goal difference between them too high, and both teams scrape wins by a goal, two at most.

By the time the Hawks are up 3-2, they’ve given away too many goals and everyone in the locker room is bone deep tired. It’s not like the 2009 season, where they’d been pretty consistent with their game. The stories about them are everywhere. He gets what Patrick means, now, when he says he wants it for the doubters; he and Patrick have been in the news a lot lately, their play getting stripped down to the bare essentials and held up against their play during the regular season. It’s the normal way of things, people deconstructing them. What’s not normal is the amount of times their performance in relation to their marriage is brought up, with people being tools about either of them looking tired - and people making noise about what the fuck they might have being doing the night before.

It’s made Jonny more angry than he’s ever been - that this sort of shit doesn’t apply to married couples of the opposite sex. He knows they’re just reaching, trying anything to throw them off and it works. They’ve just come off a 6-1 loss, the worst loss of the season full stop, and as their day off draws on, Patrick’s temper is getting shorter and shorter and Jonny knows he’s no better. It’s bad fucking timing when their parents call to say they’ll be there in time for the game the next day and he and Patrick end up having a screaming fit about nothing. It’s their first fight since their explosive, clear-the-air fight back in March and it feels weird afterwards, like Jonny wants to fucking apologize.

When he tries, standing in the doorway to their bedroom and watching Patrick sit on the edge of his bed, fiddling with his phone, he doesn’t know what to say.

“It’s fine,” Patrick says eventually. “I haven’t exactly been great either.”

Jonny moves to sit next to him. “We have one game left.”

Patrick snorts. “I don’t think that means much right now. The Pens want this - maybe more than we do.”

“Nobody,” Jonny says, gripping Patrick’s neck. “Wants this more than we do.”

Neither of them says anything for a while; sharing the same space and thinking about what it would mean to be able to say they’d won the Cup for the second time by this time in two days.

“I fucking want it,” Patrick says, with vehemence. “You know it’s like, eight days till our anniversary right?”

Jonny didn’t. He’s thrown himself into hockey so hard that he hasn’t had much time for anything. He can admit to himself that it would be a pretty sweet anniversary present, as well as a fuck you to everyone who doubted them.

“What if we don’t,” Patrick says eventually. “What if we have to walk off of that ice for the third fucking time without it.”

Not knowing how to answer, Jonny just closes his eyes.

---

They pick their families up from the airport the next day. Their flights are landing within a half hour of each other, which means they get time to greet Patrick’s family before Jonny’s parents and David arrive.

“Hi, sweetheart,” Donna says, sweeping Patrick in for a hug. Jonny exchanges a handshake and backslap with Pat and then greets Patrick’s sister in turn. Jackie gives him a huge hug, Jessica just slugs him in the arm, and Erica tugs him a little way away to say, “It’s fine, yeah?”

Jonny nods. “We’re good.”

Erica’s expression is hard to read. She’s not as obvious as Patrick. “I’m sorry he told me.”

“I’m not.” Jonny’s given himself time to think about it. “He should have - he needed someone to tell.”

“You’re good for him,” Erica says at last. “I’m happy for you.”

She hugs him hard, only letting him go when Patrick starts making noises and slides his own arm around Jonny’s waist.

“Get your own, Patrick says, sticking out his tongue.

Jonny’s saved from having to endure the two of them bickering by his parents arriving. Patrick lets him go only when they’re a few steps away, meaning he gets to embrace Jonny’s mom before Jonny.

“Andree!”

His mom grins as she hugs Patrick, asking him if he’s okay.

Jonny focused on his dad, accepts a hug and then lets him greet the Kanes.

“Everything okay?” David asks, searching Jonny’s face.

Jonny nods because, despite their hockey at the moment, everything is good.

Finally Patrick releases his mother, and she comes over to hug Jonny, pulling him close. “How are you, Cheri?”

Fine, maman. Patrick and I are - we’re good..” Jonny doesn’t need her to ask.

She smiles, pats his cheek and then pulls away. “Good.”

She moves away to greet Donna and Patrick slips back against Jonny’s side.

“Ready for this?”

“Yes,” Jonny says, vehement. “You?”

Patrick looks thoughtful for a second and then grins. “Gotta reward them somehow, right?”

Jonny doesn’t need to answer. He just rounds up both families and leads the out of the airport. He and Patrick have plans to take them for dinner and then get them set up in Jonny’s old apartment - which they’re holding on to until the season ends - and in their spare bedrooms in their condo.

The dinner is good; Jonny likes dining out with their families, even more so when he has Patrick’s there too, and they even get some young fans asking for autographs. The one place Jonny hasn’t ever been angry about being is Chicago and he knows they got lucky with their fans.

“You’ve both made us proud,” Andree says, as the evening draws to a close.

Pat’s nodding, patting Patrick’s hand where it rests on the table. “Whatever the outcome tomorrow, you’ve shown people that you can play, no matter what you do outside of the rink.”

Patrick leans a little heavier against Jonny and Jonny squeezes his leg under the table.

“But,” Jessica puts in with a grin. “If you could keep Sidney Crosby from getting the Cup, it would be pretty awesome.”

Everyone around the table laughs. It’s a good evening, they’re happy and Jonny wants to be happier still - wants to have the Cup on top of this, wants to have the recognition and the ability to show people what they can do, married or no.

---

Time runs out on 1-1 and they’re going into overtime. It feels just like before except orange jerseys have been traded for white and Sidney Crosby is looking determined across the ice. Jonny’s just as fierce in his want to win and tells everyone on the bench that they’ve got this, they can fucking do this and he gets serious, focused nods in return.

Patrick’s scored the only goal of the game, and yet he still looks as hungry as he did when they started. Jonny’s heart is thudding in his ears as gameplay starts up again, and he watches the ice like he can devour every play, every slide of the puck, every scrape of a skate. Time flies away and he knows it can’t go to a shootout.

Patrick slides up next to him on the bench. “Fuck, fuck, fuck. Can we do this?”

Jonny’s watching Sidney’s line on the ice, crowding the Hawks’ goal and making Corey work every fucking second. Jonny doesn’t answer, not that he has to. Patrick’s looking back at the ice as Shaw’s line takes their shift.

Fleury’s been a fucking demon the whole game but even as he moves to block the shot, even as the puck leaves Shaw’s stick and heads for the goal, time seems to slow and Jonny doesn’t even know what the fuck he’s shouting but the puck is in the net and they’ve won the Stanley Cup.

Patrick yells next to him, throws his stick to the side and grabs Jonny. “Jonny. Jonny, we fucking won!”

Jonny’s in a daze as he hugs Patrick tight before letting him go, following the rest of the team out onto the ice. Shaw’s looking stunned but skating down the ice towards Corey with a huge grin on his face. They end up at the their goal end of the ice, crowding up against the boards and it feels like 2010 only better because he has Patrick, throws his arm over Patrick’s shoulders and says, “We did it!”

Shawzer’s crying, which is right, and even Sharpy and Duncs have tears in their eyes, like they can’t believe they’ve done it again.

“Shit,” Seabs says, pulling Jonny in for a hug. “The second in three years.”

“Yeah,” Jonny says. He lets go, accepting hugs from other guys as they continue to cheer and celebrate. Things calm down for a while as they skate down the ice to do the handshake. Jonny knows how it feels to lose a game that feels this important, takes Sidney’s hands and pulls him for a one-armed hug. “Great fucking Series.”

Sidney nods, looks like he wants to say something but Jonny knows, lets him go because fuck, he doesn’t know how to be unhappy for someone when he feels this elated, this fucking great about bringing the Cup back to Chicago. He congratulates Fleury - the guy knows how to shut shit down quick - and then he’s done, can turn back to his team and let it wash over him.

There’s awards to be had and he wants to lift that Cup, wants to hand it over to his team because they’ve played so fucking hard and he wouldn’t be here if they weren’t.

Patrick skates up to him, wraps his arms around Jonny’s neck and pulls him in. “Fuck. Jonny. Jonny.

Jonny closes his eyes, holds Patrick as tight as he dares right now. “Yeah.” His voice sounds gravelly and low. “We did it, buddy.”

They pull away only when Bettman comes out on the ice to award the MVP trophy. It goes to Corey, like it should, he’s been consistent and awesome all fucking season, and then it’s the Cup. Their Cup. Again. He’s going to hold the Cup in his hands and it feels too intense as he skates over to the red carpet, his hands shaking.

He ignores Bettman as much as he’s able, sore over the half season and remembering all too well how far he was prepared to go get them to back down but fuck it all, Jonny’s holding the Cup for the second time and fuck, he knows exactly who he’s handing it off to, exactly who deserves this Cup.

When he skates over to Patrick, a huge grin on his face, he watches Patrick’s face shift from elation to want to elation and he can’t even help himself. Patrick lifts his arms and Jonny lowers his a little. They’re both holding it, the light catching off of the cup and the gold of Patrick’s ring and fuck it all - they’re married and they have a Cup and Johnny feels like he’s going to go insane if he doesn’t-

-he kisses Patrick right there, the Cup over their heads and the crowd’s elation ringing in their ears.

Patrick kisses back just as hard, he’s crying and god, Jonny doesn’t pull away until he has to, lets Patrick skate away with the Cup and breathes. They’ve done it; they’ve won a Cup, shown everyone that being married didn’t stop them from holding it, they’re in Chicago and giving back to the city that’s given them so much.

When Patrick skates back after handing it off to Shaw, who looks like he’s about to die from how happy he is, Jonny pulls him in again. “I love you.”

Patrick buries his face in Jonny’s neck, arms tight around Jonny’s back and god, it feels so much better standing in the UC with their fans screaming and cheering around them, and his husband - husband - right here with him.

“I love you too,” Patrick says, voice wrecked. “I fucking love you, Jonny. We did it.”

“Yeah, Peeks,” Jonny says. “We did.”

Chapter Text

Jonny is on the ice at the same time as Patrick, both sides warming up. Patrick’s in Team USA colors and he’s joking around with Kesler by the bench. As Jonny skates past he hears Kesler say, “-other guys won’t stop complaining it’s fucking cold here.”

“I dunno,” Patrick replies, catching sight of Jonny and grinning. “I’d say my honeymoon was pretty fucking cold.”

Jonny laughs as he skates back to the Canadian side of the rink, nodding at Carter and Sidney, who are both looking at him with identical expressions. “What?”

They’re about to go over to their respective benches when Patrick yells, “Will you sleep with me tonight?!”

Jonny shows him the middle finger. They’re supposed to be rivals, are rivals, but Jonny can’t help but think that whatever happens, the only gold he really cares about is on the ring finger of an obnoxious American asshole.