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a real grind

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Patrick hates working for Starbucks, especially in a city like Chicago.

The hours are for shit, it’s way too fucking busy, and he gets yelled at a million times a day for things that aren’t even his fault. Okay, most of the time it’s not his fault. Still, it pays the bills, and he refuses to go back to Buffalo with his tail between his legs like some stray dog. His mom tells him every day how his degree is useless (not in so many words) and that he needs to find THAT job, the one that’s going to give him everything he wants, but he’s trying. It’s just hard to find the time between sleeping, eating, and arguing with coffee machines.

He’s working the late shift one night and it’s unusually slow, so Patrick notices when Jonathan fucking Toews walks in. He knows who he is; you’d have to be blind not to know Jonathan Toews when you live in the fucking city. He looks good, he ALWAYS looks good, but Patrick has practice not letting shit like that show. Instead, he takes Toews’ order with a huge fucking smile on his face. He’d received a care package from his sisters that morning filled with chocolate, a signed Sabres jersey (they’re assholes), and his lucky Mexican hat. He’s feeling so great that he fills Toews’ order—nonfat, no whip, mocha with one pump chocolate, one pump vanilla, and one pump peppermint—and scrawls a #19 on the side. For all his effort, he only gets a raised eyebrow. Patrick’s feeling a little cheated considering it’s not the worst interaction he’s had with a Hawk; he once ran into Seabrook in a club bathroom and offered him a blowjob before realizing it wasn’t his jerkoff ex-boyfriend, but a defensemen for his city’s hockey team. He then proceeded to throw up all over Seabrook’s shoes. He’s willing to forgive Toews, though, as long as he and the Hawks manage to keep up this winning streak they’re on at the moment.

When he says so, Toews just gives him a weird look and leaves. He’s probably filing it away under ‘interactions with weird fans’, but Patrick has a Mexican hat, so fuck him.

---

Toews comes back a few days later during the morning rush. Patrick’s getting good at remaining cheery despite the grouchy and irritated customers, and his forced cheerfulness at the early hour is quickly giving way to genuine happiness. It’s not that he likes his job, fuck no, but sometimes it’s more effort to get angry and moan than it is to just get on with it and wish the bitch with the longest order in the history of the fucking world a good day and watch her screw up her face like she doesn’t know whether to snap at him or apologize. She spins on her heel and Patrick looks up to greet the next customer, only to discover that it’s Toews. Feeling pretty fucking awesome, he decides to mess with the guy a little, because it might do him some good. He scrawls SIDNEY CROSBY :D on the cup and hands it over with a huge smile, dimples and all. The scowl he gets in return is worth every other bitchy customer that comes his way.

Patrick’s paying as much attention to the hockey as everyone else in Chicago is, so he knows that the Hawks’ hot streak has ended, but that they’re still playing pretty fucking baller. He knows when they go on the road, and Patrick keeps up with their progress as best he can while he pulls double shifts. One of the new kids is out with flu and he’s got the most experience, so he offers to help even if he’d rather plunge forks into his eyes. He faceplants into bed every night and wakes up to Kanye blasting in his ear and he just wants to die.

He’s dead on his feet the night Toews walks in again, toque pulled down over his ears and managing to rock the jacket and jeans despite the fact that he looks like he just rolled out of bed. Patrick’s filled out his order before Toews even opens his mouth, and this time Patrick scribbles the Hawks’ road run down on a napkin he hands over with the cup. He scrawls ON THE HOUSE! on the cup even though he knows it’s going to come out of his paycheck. He doesn’t really care, though, when Toews looks at the cup and does a twitchy smile/scowl thing that absolutely delights Patrick.

Toews narrows his eyes. “Are you always this happy?”

Fuck, he even sounds attractive. Patrick leans on the counter. “Are you always this constipated?”

Toews looks like he doesn’t know whether to snap at him or stalk out of the cafe in anger. He’s lost for words, so Patrick grins and turns to fill out another order, laughing inwardly when Toews actually stalks out of the cafe, fingers tight around his cup and scowl firmly in place.

---

Patrick’s beginning to think that the scowl is a constant thing, when three nights later, Toews is standing near the counter as Patrick starts his shift. He’s looking all intense, attractive, and yeah, still constipated. Patrick fills out his order and writes A SMILE A DAY KEEPS THE CUP IN THE BAY! and laughs out loud when Toews just looks confused.

“This makes no sense. Chicago isn’t a bay.”

Patrick shrugs. “Well, I couldn’t think of anything that rhymed with “lake” quick enough, so that will have to do, Mr. I-have-a-lake-named-after-me.”

To his surprise, Toews laughs, taking his cup and leaving a tip that makes Patrick almost swallow his tongue.

---

Patrick’s irritated as fuck when Toews walks in a week later with his usual impassivity. His rent’s gone up and his mom had a lot to say when she called the night before about his apartment, his job choices, his everything, and he absolutely fucking hates his life. He’s barely alert enough to draw a hockey puck and a stick with BAUER written jerkily along it when he fills out Toews’ order. He hands it over with a smirk and Toews snorts. “You clearly have too much time on your hands.”

Toews should appreciate the fact that he’s a fucking ARTIST with a sharpie and a Starbucks cup when he’s only had four hours sleep. “I wish," Patrick mutters and then blushes. “Anything else?”

Toews shrugs. “Not if you’re going to give me more attitude.”

“I’m a fucking gift, man, and you know it.” It’s probably too forward with a guy he only knows from shitty news blogs and NHL Gamecenter, and maybe a few chance encounters in a coffee shop, but whatever, his mom’s always saying he never knows when to keep his damn mouth shut (her actual words).

Toews just smirks. “Gift, huh?”

“Shut up, you wish you could get up on this.” He gestures at himself and gives Toews his best leer. He should probably stop dicking around and serve the guys at the counter behind Toews, but they’re practically shitting themselves at the fact that they’re standing behind an NHL superstar, so he leaves them to their mini freakout, and tries not to have one at the look on Toews’ face. He doesn’t know how to begin deciphering it, but Toews just walks away, smiling as he does. Disconcerted, Patrick screws up the next two orders.

---

The next time Toews comes back, Patrick decides what the hell, and scribbles his number on the side of the cup and serves the next customer so he doesn’t have to look Toews in the eye.

That night he gets a text. it’s jonny. toews. jonathan toews. uh. hi.

Patrick laughs for a full minute and sends back, nice grasp of using text there, toews.

When all he gets back is fuck off, he grins, turns off his phone and climbs into bed.

---

If Patrick keeps texting Jonny stupid shit throughout the day, it’s nobody’s business but his own. On his rare day off, Jonny’s in St. Louis playing hockey, so Patrick ends up sitting in front of his TV watching the game, knocking back a few beers and texting Jonny increasingly drunken texts. He’s pretty sure he offers to blow Jonny if he puts the puck in the fucking net at some point, something that’s confirmed the next morning. He wakes with a pounding headache, a fuzzy mouth and one text from Jonny that says, did you just offer to get down on your knees for me????

Patrick’s so turned on by Jonny writing get down on your knees in any context that he whacks one out in the shower and thinks about Jonny the entire time. He’s always been shameless. Erica says more than is good for him, but she’s supposed to say shit like that, so whatever.

The next time Jonny comes in, he makes a crude drawing on the side of his cup, out of sight of his manager. In return, Jonny slips a napkin with an address on it and it takes Patrick an embarrassingly long time to realize it’s Jonny’s. Fuck. He calls Erica because he has a date and she always knows what to do.

“Who’s it with?” Erica asks. Patrick is absolutely not going to tell her the truth. She’s the only one who remembers his embarrassing crush on Jonny when he played in juniors.

“A guy I met making coffee.” It’s not a lie because he totally did.

Erica repeats him mockingly, and he knows the face she’s making. “Fine. But only because I hate your polo shirts and you’re not wearing one.”

“I look baller in anything, thank you.” He vetoes the polo shirt he’d chosen, and she totally knows because she laughs.

“I’m doing the world a favor by refusing to let you wear one.” There’s a long pause where he takes a photo of the outfit he’s picked and she hums into the phone. “It’ll do.”

“Yeah?” It’s not like Patrick wants to make a good impression or anything.

“Man up and stop being a baby. Just leave and get off the phone, loser.”

Patrick at least remembers to hang up before he thanks her.

---

He walks the couple of blocks to Jonny's apartment. It looks way too fucking rich for him and he almost decides to forget it when the doorman gestures him inside. “You here for Jonny?”
Patrick frowns. “How did you know?”
“He gave me a picture.” The doorman waves him up, but Patrick suddenly doesn’t think he’s joking and what the fuck, Jonny is a psycho. When did he get a picture?

“Oookay.”

He makes it to Jonny’s floor after an incredibly awkward elevator ride with a woman, a dog, and a man who smells like potato chips, and he’s only too glad to get out. Jonny opens the door, but with a frown. “Patrick.”

“You gave me your address, dude.” Patrick tries to look unimpressed with the greeting—or lack of. “And your doorman a picture.”

“You’re supposed to call ahead, moron.” Jonny’s comebacks are lame, but he’s letting Patrick in anyway, so whatever. He’s also blushing slightly. “The picture was an accident. I thought the doorman should know who he was letting up.”

Patrick doesn’t know how you can ‘accidentally’ take a picture of someone and then give it to your doorman for recognition purposes, but whatever. If Jonny wants to have a picture of his hot bod on his phone, that’s all good. Patrick knows that his apartment is the epitome of squalor—an exaggeration because his mom and his sisters helped decorate, so he knows some of it is awesome—but it’s something else to see Jonny’s apartment. The dude lives in luxury and he even has a patio hot tub, what the fuck.
“Nice investment you have here, man.” Patrick knows he’s being rude (again), but whatever.

Jonny glares at him. “It’s not an investment, asshole, it’s my home.”

Patrick wisely keeps his mouth shut, because he doesn’t wanna piss Jonny off enough that he won’t get any of that sweet ass. His mom would be proud. “I like it.”

It’s not a lie because he does, but Jonny eyes him skeptically anyway. “You always this rude to people in their own houses? That you’ve invaded?”

“Only when I want to hit that,” Patrick informs him cheerily, gesturing at Jonny’s (very accentuated) ass.

Jonny snorts. “You wish.”

Patrick does, actually. “You gave me your address.”

There’s a long, awkward pause. Jonny’s face does something amazing and complicated and then he points a finger at Patrick. “You thought I was offering a booty call!?”

There’s something both hilarious and wrong with Jonny saying ‘booty call’, but Patrick will re-examine that when he’s not on the verge of losing said booty call. “You didn’t?”

Jonny’s doing an awesome impression of a goldfish Jessica once had. “No, asshole, I thought you might wanna play video games or something.”

Patrick eyes him. Seriously? The dude hands a guy his address in a coffee shop and he wants to play video games?! Hockey players really are fucking weird. He’s disappointed he’s not getting laid with an NHL superstar, but still, he’s not going to pass up on an opportunity to whip said superstar’s butt at NHL 13. (Most hockey players are narcissistic and obsessed with hockey enough to own a copy.) “Cool. We can do that. You’ll be sorry.”

Jonny tells him that he’s going down, but Patrick doubts it. Jonny hasn’t seen him play yet. He heads straight for the living room, spotting Jonny’s sweet entertainment set up straight away. “Dude, this is awesome.”

Jonny’s still looking constipated and intense about Patrick’s challenge, but he actually preens at the praise. “You know it. It helps to know I’m kicking ass on it.”
“We’ll see,” Patrick informs him with equal fervor.

They’re pretty evenly matched, but Patrick finds it hilarious when Jonny loses, because he throws an epic bitch fit and uses slurs and put downs that Patrick remembers from his high school days in Buffalo. He really can believe that story in the Trib, or by that Lazerus asshole on Twitter, about him calling Seabs a fatty. “Dude! You need to work on your comebacks.”

“Fuck off,” Jonny snaps, glaring down at the controller he tosses onto the floor. “It’s clearly broken.”

Patrick snorts, but drains the rest of his beer now there’s a lull. “You might be all that on the actual ice, but I’m clearly superior at the Xbox.”

Jonny just glares.

Patrick pats his knee sympathetically. “You need to get this competitive streak looked at.”

“You need to shut your mouth,” Jonny snaps. Apparently deciding he’s had enough of being beaten, Jonny gestures at Patrick’s empty bottle. “You want another one?”

“Nah. I better get home. I have the early shift in the morning.”

Jonny actually manages to look sympathetic, which, Patrick might not be a hockey player, but he still works damn hard, thank you very much.

“Maybe I’ll see you around?”

“I dunno,” Jonny sounds unconvincing. “I think I might buy my coffee elsewhere.”

“Screw you,” Pat says cheerfully. “I’ll have your order waiting if you come in with a smile.”

“I always smile,” Jonny lies, scowling.

“Keep telling yourself that, buddy.”

It doesn’t hit Patrick until he’s back home and trying to fall asleep that he just spent the night shooting the shit with Jonathan Toews in his apartment. It takes him another hour to stop having a completely stupid freakout and go to sleep.

---

He deals with this knowledge in the way he does most other things: completely ignores it. Jonny is just a dude he met at work, who has a competitive streak longer than the list of mistakes Patrick’s made in his life, and he likes hanging out with him. And hang out they do. Often. Usually at Jonny’s apartment, because Patrick doesn’t really want Jonny to see where he lives and freak out, remembering he’s hanging out with some loser who works at Starbucks. Not that he could fail to realize this, what with Patrick filling his morning order and all. Whatever. It’s too much of a headache, so Patrick just goes around to Jonny’s apartment.

He gets talked into ‘fixing’ Jonny’s coffee machine the third night he’s there. It’s not broken at all, it’s just stupidly complicated and Jonny’s too manly to admit that he needs help. Moron.

“It’s easy,” Patrick tells him, going through the instructions for a fourth time. “Maybe if I made it into a hockey play.”

“Fuck off,” Jonny snaps, glaring down at the coffee machine like it’s personally offended him by not being easier for him to figure out. “I understand just fine.”

“Make a coffee then.”

Jonny stares down at the machine, back at Patrick, and crosses his arms. “That’s childish. I won’t.”

“Jonny,” Patrick says patiently. He can be patient. He can wait Jonny out all fucking day. (He deals with Starbucks coffee machines; those things are a pain in the fucking ass.)

“No.” Jonny sounds petulant, and Patrick rolls his eyes.

“Look,” he says, and outlines the instructions like a coach would a hockey play. When Jonny successfully makes a mug of coffee, Patrick looks at him smugly. “Told you.”

“Get out of my apartment,” Jonny says, but he’s looking at the mug like it’s the best fucking thing he’s ever seen, so Patrick doesn’t take it personally. He doesn’t leave, either, but moves back into the living room and drops down onto the couch.

He flicks on the TV and grins up at Jonny when he sits down next to him. “We’re watching Duck Dynasty. Don’t pretend you don’t love it.”

Jonny makes noises about switching it over just to spite Patrick, but he relaxes back into the couch pressed all along Patrick’s left side. Patrick doesn’t quite manage to pay enough attention to the TV to know what’s going on. His body is hot everywhere Jonny’s touching him and he needs to get that shit under control ASAP. It won’t do to keep having these thoughts when Jonny’s already had a freakout over a potential booty call. Whatever, Patrick can deal. He doesn’t need Jonny’s fine ass anyway. Much.

---

Things come to a head (heh) one night when he’s round at Jonny’s, feet up on the coffee table despite Jonny’s constant admonishments to get them off, and the doorbell rings. Jonny grumbles about late night visitors and, “Who the fuck needs me this late?”

Patrick relaxes down into the couch and keeps his eyes on the TV, shovelling popcorn in by the handful, just to spite Jonny for not getting the right gatorade. He hears voices in the hall and Jonny still hasn’t come back, so he peers over the back of the couch and sees Jonny in the kitchen, but can’t see who he’s speaking to. “Hey, Jonny, you coming back?”

There’s an obvious lull in the kitchen conversation, so he drops the bowl of popcorn on the couch beside him and goes to see what’s up, his barefoot padding on the linoleum floor. “Um.”

Patrick knows Jonny’s mom, okay, he’s seen her on the ice after cup wins and seen the awesome interviews where she’s talked about Jonny being super seious and he’d laughed his ass off for hours at the responding look on Jonny’s face. He thinks she’s awesome, but now he’s aware that he’s standing barefoot in Jonny’s kitchen, in one of Jonny’s t-shirts because he’d just spilled shit on hiw own and he can see the second she thinks she knows what’s going on.

“Oh,” she says, smiling easily at Patrick. “I’m Andree.”

“I know,” Patrick says. He flushes and shakes his head. “I mean, I’ve seen you on TV and shit. Stuff. TV and stuff.”

Jonny’s face is doing that confusing thing it does, so Patrick ignores him and focuses on Jonny’s mom, who’s looking at Patrick with something like amusement and interest. “I raised two hockey players,” she says with a grin. “I know you all have dirty mouths.”

“I’m not a hockey player,” Patrick says, before he can stop the words, and Andree looks surprised. “I mean, I used to be, but I went to college and it stuck, I guess.” She doesn’t give a shit about this stuff, probably, but Patrick babbles when he’s nervous, okay, and she probably thinks he’s banging her son and he’s not good enough because he doesn’t play hockey and he can feel his face falling even as he tries to give her his best winning smile. He obviously falls short because both Andree and Jonny look at him funny, but he’s already clapping Jonny on the back. “I should go and let you catch up with your mom, dude. Call me later or whatever.”

He grabs his sneakers from by the door before Jonny can protest, even though it looks like he’s just going to stay silent while Patrick has his freakout, and shoves his feet into them. When Jonny still doesn’t say anything, even though Andree is pointedly elbowing him in the side, Patrick shakes his head and grabs his wallet and keys from the kitchen side. He slams the door shut behind him and berates himself the entire way down to the parking lot.

---

“Seriously,” Patrick moans, poking at his own coffee machine to get it to work. He really needs to buy a new one, but he doesn’t have the spare cash, and besides, he usually just gets one at work or goes round to Jonny’s and takes advantage of his state-of-the-art shit. His phone is on speaker, resting by the toaster, and Jackie’s tinny voice reminds him that he started this whole thing.

“I wrote some stuff on his coffee cups,” Patrick protests. “Besides, Jonny’s mom totally jumped to conclusions.”

Jackie snorts. “You were wearing his shirt, barefoot, and she’s probably heard just as much about you as we do about him.” Jackie doesn’t sound like she minds, but whatever, Patrick just has a lot of feelings, okay, and who better to dump them on than his sisters? “Maybe you should call him. You totally overreacted.”

“I did not,” Patrick says immediately, even though he kind of did. “He didn’t even say anything. I could have just been some dude who spilled shit on this t-shirt and likes being barefoot.” Which was, you know, the truth.

“Patrick.” Jackie sounds patient, which is pretty much the norm these days. “Call Jonny and talk to him.”

“No.” Patrick finally manages to get the coffee machine to respond to his prodding and looks at the clock. “I gotta go, Jack, I’m gonna be late for work.”

Jackie makes a noise into the phone and sighs. “You have the late shift again? We never talk anymore.”

Patrick rolls his eyes and slides the phone closer, shoving his travel mug into the coffee maker and letting it do its thing. “Lies. We spoke yesterday. Get off the phone, loser, I have work to do.”

“Fine, fine.” Jackie makes a kissy noise into the phone and Patrick responds in kind, smiling because he loves his sisters no matter how awful they are at trying to make him see sense. “Love you, Patty.”

“Love you too.” Patrick hangs up and shoves his phone into his back pocket, already knowing he’s going to be late for work, but whatever.

---

Jonny texts him a couple of times during his shift. It’s all nonsensical and completely avoids what happened with his mom, and Patrick absolutely does not smile and reply to every single one, even if they really need to talk about it and make sense of what’s going on. Still, it makes him feel better enough about having to work at all, that he can deal with every customer who comes his way, including one who changes his order seven times and then stalks out without a thank you, which, whatever, Patrick doesn’t have to stand there and fix a drink he changes his mind about every second, but whatever. He’s still angrily moving about the kitchen when he hears a familiar cough and, “Excuse me,” behind him.

He’s the only person working, but he takes a long time to turn around anyway, giving Jonny a smirk when he turns around. “Can I help?”

Jonny blinks and then shrugs. “Uh, I think I need to, um.” He pauses, and Patrick would take pity on him, but it’s much more fun to see him struggle. “About the other day.”

“I like your mom,” Patrick says, conversationally. “I can see where you got your everything from.”

“I have some of my dad in me,” Jonny protests, like Patrick’s offended him or something. Jonny’s complicated, but Patrick’s pretty sure he’s not that difficult to figure out if you know what you’re looking for, and he can see the apology if he looks really fucking hard. He waits, and Jonny looks around, like some reporter is going to be hiding in Starbucks just to see Jonny try and make up with a dude he wasn’t even banging. “She thinks we’re, you know.”

Patrick does know. “It’s a tragedy that we’re not, but whatever, you don’t owe me anything.”

Jonny glares at him. “I’m trying to apologize, asshole.”

“For what? I kind of walked out over nothing.” Patrick shrugs. “It’s not like we were, you know.”

There’s an awkward pause and Jonny shifts a little uncomfortably. Patrick would put him out of his misery but he’s not quite sure what he’s supposed to say anymore. “Um. You know where I live. If you want to come around.”

“For a booty call?” Patrick’s intending for it to be a joke, but Jonny goes a little pink around the cheeks and ears and what. The fuck. “Are you serious?”

“Well my mom thinks we’re already fucking,” Jonny says, getting more confident by the second and Patrick doesn’t know what the fuck is going on.

He should probably tell Jonny to get lost and they can talk about this later, because the few patrons in Starbucks don’t need to know his—and more importantly, Jonny’s—business. “Um. You should—I’ll call you later?”

Jonny’s face falls. “Oh. Sure. Yeah.”

“Hey,” Patrick says, gripping Jonny’s wrist and squeezing. “I’m not saying no, duh, obviously. You’re hot and I’d do you in a second. I just—people, you know?”

Jonny looks around again, shaking his head as though he forgot they were even in public, but he’s smiling when he turns back to Patrick. “Sure. Yeah. What time do you finish?”

“Eleven,” Patrick says, eyes flicking to the clock.

“I’ll pick you up.” Jonny twists his wrist so that he can squeeze Patrick’s hand and then lets go. Patrick watches his ass the entire time he’s walking out of the shop, but he’s totally getting to hit that later, so he’s allowed.

---

True to his word, Jonny’s waiting for him when he closes up later that night, and he knows he looks like an idiot, coat that’s way too big for him bunched up around his shoulders and trying to shove the keys into his bag so he doesn’t lose them. Jonny waits until he’s done before throwing an arm over his shoulders and pulling him in. Patrick goes, even if it’s unexpected and kind of awkward. He gets over it pretty quickly, sinking into Jonny’s side, and absolutely does not think about the blush that’s creeping onto his face, or that he’s smiling wide enough that his dimples have to be showing. God, he hates it when that happens.

“Hey,” Jonny says, leaning down to press his nose against Patrick’s temple. It’s cold and Patrick shies away.

“Dude, get off me.” He totally doesn’t mean it, though, and grabs hold of the lapels of Jonny’s jacket, pulling him down. “Actually, don’t get off me.”

Jonny smirks and then huffs out a laugh, resting his thumb against Patrick’s chin and raising an eyebrow. “You sure?”

Patrick doesn’t bother answering, just pushes up and kisses Jonny. Fucking finally. It’s nothing like he thought it would be, because Jonny’s pushy and stubborn and ridiculous even when he kisses, but it’s better and Patrick breaks to breathe only to haul Jonny back in, turning it dirty and wanton.

Jonny breaks off and cups the back of Patrick’s neck, holding him there while they catch their breath. “We have time.”

It’s Patrick’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “You sure?”

“You make good coffee,” Jonny says with a shrug, the grin on his face more than telling Patrick what he really thinks.

“Whatever, dude.” Patrick kisses him again, giving him a grin when he pulls away. “Your mom thinks I’m awesome.”

“She thinks we’re, you know,” Jonny says, looking pained.

“Yes,” Patrick says, talking slow because clearly Jonny doesn’t get it. “But she told you to fix it and here you are, so clearly she does think I’m awesome.”

“How did you—” Jonny breaks off, and he punches Patrick in the shoulder. “She doesn’t think you’re awesome.”

“But you do,” Patrick tells him, completely confident that he knows what’s up.

Jonny leans in for another kiss, fingers tangling in Patrick’s hair and it’s totally awesome. “Yes, Patrick, I think you’re awesome.”

Fucking yes.

THE END.