Patrick meets Jon because Pete declares Patrick’s lack of hockey knowledge a threat to the band’s future licensing endeavors and drags him to a January home game against the Blues.
Once Patrick figures out the rules enough to be able to follow along, the game ends up being pretty cool, but that doesn’t mean he’s entirely thrilled when some guy who works in the Blackhawks’ Front Office tracks them down after the game and offers them a deal: he’ll get them in the locker room to meet the players if they’ll call his kid and give him a couple of autographs to take home to her. Patrick would be fine making the call and signing the autograph and then letting Pete meet the team by himself, to be honest, but Pete looks like he’s about to piss himself in excitement, and his ex-jock heart is ill-equipped to handle that level of joy without his bestest buddy by his side.
Or so he says, the jerk.
And whatever, it’s not like Patrick hasn’t been doing whatever Pete wanted since he was sixteen years old. Now is no time to start listening to his better judgment, he supposes, even if that better judgment is telling him that being stuck in a locker room with a couple dozen sweaty, half-naked professional athletes is going to do absolutely nothing good for his self-confidence levels and a whole lot of really shitty things for the profound dry spell he’s been going through recently, sex-wise.
Once they get in there, Patrick tries to hang back while Pete does his best to act cool while simultaneously bro-hugging every guy within arm’s reach. Patrick is checking Twitter and trying not to seem like a standoffish, antisocial dick when the music that’s been pumping through the locker room speakers switches over to a new song, different than the ones that have been playing up to that point. It’s been fairly standard-issue jock jams until then, so he’s a little surprised when the music kicks in and it’s more dancey than he expected. It sounds kind of like the stuff he was listening to when he was coming up with ideas for Soul Punk, and after a second, he realizes that he actually recognizes the beat from somewhere; it’s familiar, he knows that, but he can’t quite remember where exactly he heard it before. That in and of itself is weird. His musical memory is usually pretty flawless.
He’s actually got his ear tilted toward the nearest speaker when he notices one of the players, a big burly guy who Patrick thinks maybe got in a fight in the first period, watching him with amusement. He grins when he catches Patrick’s eye.
“It’s different, right?” the guy says, pulling his jersey over his head and turning to hang it in his locker stall. “Blame the Swedes.”
Patrick gets briefly distracted by the span of his shoulders before answering; he’d assumed the guy’s brawn was at least seventy-five percent shoulder pads, but it’s really more like twenty-five percent. The guy’s not really his type—like, at all—but those are some impressive shoulders. He shakes himself out of it while the guy’s back is turned. “Yeah, I—I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it before,” he says. “I like it, though. It’s a good choice.”
The guy shrugs. “It’s not really my taste, but—yo, Oduya!” he yells out at a massed group of bodies across the locker room. “Someone else likes your weird-ass Eurovision shit!”
The mass of bodies shifts a bit, and then suddenly there’s—there’s a guy who is legitimately maybe the hottest fucking person Patrick has ever seen in real life zeroing in on him and smiling, and if he thought the other guy’s shoulders were impressive, they have nothing on this dude’s pecs and arms and abs and, fuck, his everything.
Time honest-to-God shorts out for a while, then. Patrick only snaps back into himself when the guy—Oduya, he thinks, the other guy called him Oduya—is tugging a t-shirt on and looking at him expectantly.
“Sorry, what?” he asks, fighting against the blush he can feel rising up in his face. He’s twenty-eight years old, for fuck’s sake, but it’s been a really long dry spell.
Behind him, he hears the burly guy stifle a laugh. Pete, who apparently wandered up at some point, doesn’t even try.
“I said you have good taste in music,” Oduya tells him, and the little trace of accent he carries makes Patrick want to press his mouth against Oduya’s jaw and feel the difference in the way he shapes the words. “None of these guys like what I like.”
And maybe Patrick is imagining it, but it feels like the words have added weight behind them. He hedges his bets, just in case; Patrick doesn’t want to make assumptions about the guy just because he’s a jock, but all the same, he’d rather not read the situation wrong. “Well, uh, obviously I don’t know what she’s saying, but I like the production on the chorus.”
Oduya’s expression turns a little sharp at that, and his voice drops suddenly, becomes something dirty without actually changing very much. “I could translate,” he says, “but basically what it boils down to is, she wants to fuck.”
No imagination needed there, at least, Patrick thinks.
“We should get some dinner,” Oduya continues, his voice snapping back to normal. “Are you free? I know it’s kind of late, but we could talk music some more.”
And, well. No one ever accused Patrick of keeping quiet on that particular topic of discussion.
“Sure,” he agrees, and is rewarded with a flash of pink tongue against blindingly white teeth.
Patrick is sure Oduya has many fascinating opinions about European electro-dance music, but in that moment, he really fucking hopes dinner was a euphemism.
Patrick has never been gladder to be kind of a tiny guy than he is in the moment when they get back to his place and Oduya just grabs him and lifts him up, getting his hands under Patrick’s ass while Patrick wraps his legs around Oduya’s hips and pulls him in. Sometimes he has issues about guys using their height advantage too obviously when they’re having sex—he’s got Napoleon syndrome, whatever, he’s come to terms with it—but for some reason it doesn’t bother him with this guy.
They do talk about music, eventually, but not until later. Much, much later.
They end up talking about a lot of stuff, eventually; Oduya—Johnny, technically, but, “You can call me Jon,” he offers. “Honestly, it’s weird hearing anyone other than Tazer called Johnny”—turns out to be a smart, thoughtful guy, with a sense of humor that creeps up on Patrick and a way of saying things that cuts through all possible forms of bullshit without ever inching over into asshole status.
It’s kind of a crazy spring for both of them, what with Patrick traveling around promoting the new record and Jon traveling around helping his team break an old one, but they keep in touch when they can. They text just about every day, Skype at least a couple of nights a week, and try to see each other whenever they’re both in Chicago. That isn’t as often as Patrick wishes it were. It seems like their schedules never quite line up, but when they do manage to see one another, it’s pretty consistently great. The sex in particular remains a level of amazing that Patrick finds it difficult to wrap his head around.
It’s serious before Patrick realizes it, and when he does, he’s kind of surprised to find that he’s not freaked out by it; he’s never had commitment issues, exactly, but if he’d known in advance how things with Jon were going to go, he probably would have thought twice about getting involved with him. Patrick’s not famous enough for most people to care about his personal life, thank God. He dated guys when Fall Out Boy was at its most famous and never had to put much effort into concealing it, but Jon is a professional athlete on a team having what is apparently a once-in-a-lifetime season, and the rules are different. He’s not one of the Blackhawks’ big stars, so the media don’t hound him like they do some of his teammates, but still, there are some lines Patrick knows Jon just can’t let himself cross.
It’s not fair, and it’s not always easy, but Patrick’s up for it anyway.
And then it’s time for playoffs, which are a thing Patrick has never once in his life cared about, but now he feels the tension like a nightly punch in the gut. Game One of the Detroit series falls in between two shows on the spring tour, so he gets to be at the Madhouse for the series opener, gets to see Jon score the game-winner, and afterwards gets to go back to Jon’s place and get fucked until his knees give out and he collapses face-down in the pillows.
So that’s a decent night, all told.
The next one is even better.
They’re playing Chicago that night, and the Riviera is packed out, stacked to the rafters with writhing bodies just waiting for them to take the stage. The tour opener was incredible, the kind of night Patrick has dreamed about for most of his life, but the air in the room tonight is practically combustible. Jon’s said it, too, about the Madhouse: something about Chicago is just different, better, than anywhere else.
Jon should probably be resting tonight, but instead he’s here, standing next to Patrick in the wings, waiting for the band to get their cues to take the stage. In the murky half-light of the side-stage, where there are no cameras, no media, and it doesn’t matter who can see them, Jon runs a thumb across the inside of Patrick’s wrist and smiles down at him, looking exhausted but keyed-up at the same time, and yeah, Patrick knows the feeling.
And when the house finally goes dark and the screams raises to a fever pitch, Patrick leans in and kisses Jon, fast, because he wasn’t supposed to be here but here he is, and then he goes out to meet the crowd, and they light it up.