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we are still kids (but we're so in love)

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Patrick wakes up on his thirteenth birthday to his sisters jumping onto his bed and his mom’s cheerful voice in his doorway.

He thanks the three girls around him and then his mom for the stack of pancakes she leaves for him on the counter when he walks downstairs. It’s a nice way to wake up but Patrick has other things to worry about today.

He’s got a math test, which sucks, but then again, Patrick’s always been good with numbers so he doesn’t exactly mind it that much. The thing is, today is also the day Coach wants to start working Patrick into the top line – Jonny’s line – and Patrick can’t help but be distracted. He needs to prove himself in practice today.  

Jonny overheard the conversation between the two the other day, and when Coach Tiller walked off, Jonny tapped his stick against Patrick’s and gave him the biggest grin. Patrick just smiled back and skated past him to shoot another puck into the open net. They’ve grown up playing together from the time they met in grade three when Jonny moved to Buffalo, until now. Being on the same line as him somehow makes Patrick better and he’s ready to kill it on the ice after school.

“Patrick!”

Patrick turns to see Jonny tromping up the hallway, schoolbag swung on one shoulder and a hat fit over his ears. He comes close enough to knock his shoulder against Patrick’s and give him a smile. “Happy birthday, man,” he says and leans against the locker near Patrick’s.

“Thanks,” Patrick replies and lifts his hand for a fist bump.

He goes to unlock his locker and Jonny stays to talk to Patrick before they both have to go to class. Jonny briefly mentions the practice they have after school and Patrick hopes that Jonny’s just as excited as he is for it.

“Did you watch the game last night?” Jonny asks when Patrick turns around to reach up and grab his math textbook from the top shelf.

“Nah, I had to babysit my sisters,” Patrick replies, “I did get to watch around six episodes of Lizzie McGuire, though.”

“Sounds like you definitely had more fun than me, then.”

“Haha.” Patrick keeps his voice monotone and Jonny just grins.

He closes his locker and checks the time to see that he has exactly two minutes before class, and tells Jonny to get moving as well. 

Jonny smiles and tells Patrick that he’ll see him at practice, turning around as he starts walking to his own class. “You better bring your best game tonight,” he calls over his shoulder.

“You know I will.” Patrick grins and turns to head in the opposite direction.

*

Practice is as good as usual. Patrick feels drained by the end of it, but it’s a good feeling, and he follows the rest of his team down the hall to the locker room. Their school has a small arena attached to the side of the main building, with renovated seats and ice, which is one of the main reasons Patrick asked his parents to let him come here instead of the private middle school that’s relatively closer to his house.

He loves hockey, and skating here with the team and Jonny is the best.

“You coming over tonight?” Patrick asks as he walks over to where Jonny is standing outside the locker room, refilling his water bottle at the fountain.

Patrick’s gotten showered and dressed pretty quickly but Jonny’s already hanging around, clearly waiting for him.

Jonny looks up just as Patrick places a firm hand on his shoulder. He stares at it with a squinted look on his face and Patrick raises an eyebrow because he’s glaring as though Patrick’s hand was dirty. It isn’t.

“So,” Patrick says after Jonny still hasn’t answered, the same pinched expression on his face.

It helps because Jonny straightens his back and goes to cap his water bottle, Patrick’s hand falling in the process, and finally looks him in the eye. “Yeah. I’ll be there.”

“Cool,” Patrick replies and walks off to grab his bag from the floor where he dropped it before.

He heads to the door to wait for Jonny since they always walk to the bus stop together after practice, watching Jonny pick up his own bag and meet up with him at the exit. Patrick smiles wide and cracks the frown that started to settle on Jonny’s lips, a small grin showing instead.

“Sweet pass at the end,” Patrick hums, walking besides Jonny as they exit the school doors.

“Yeah,” Jonny agrees, “Coach has got to put you on the top line after that last goal.” He shakes his head, almost in disbelief, and Patrick shakes a little with joy.

They reach the bus stop in silence and Patrick nods a goodbye at Jonny before going to the door. Jonny doesn’t live far from the school and prefers to walk most days, despite the ever escalating cold weather, so Patrick just tells him that he’ll catch him later and gets on the bus.

*

Patrick is in his room that evening when he hears his mom’s voice from downstairs, “Patrick!”

“Yeah?” He calls back. He looks in the mirror and sweeps a hand through his hair, then turns to walk downstairs.

His mom appears at the bottom of the stairs and nods her head at the door. “It’s for you.”

It’s exactly seven o’clock so he doesn’t even question it as he pulls open the door to reveal a casually dressed Jonny standing on the other side. Jonny’s got a knack for being either on time or early to everything in his life which is something Patrick could never understand or want to do.

“Hey, Jonny,” Patrick says and moves aside.

Jonny greets him back and passes him to get inside. He looks at Patrick and lifts his arm, a small, precisely wrapped box in hand.

“Dude,” Patrick sighs. When Jonny doesn’t say anything, he adds, “You didn’t have to give me a gift.”

“Take it, Kaner,” Jonny huffs and shakes the box a little in front of Patrick. Only when Patrick grabs the gift does Jonny smile again, pleased. He walks past Patrick to enter the kitchen, greeting Patrick’s mom with a happy tone.

Patrick places Jonny’s gift on the table near the door and follows him into the kitchen. Jonny’s politely asking Patrick’s mom about her day and they talk for a bit before Patrick pulls him away to go downstairs.

“Are we ordering pizza?” Jonny asks later. They’re lying on opposite couches, Patrick setting up the game station and Jonny shuffling through the Xbox games that Patrick gave him, even though he’s probably going to end up choosing the same racing game he always does.

“Yeah, but we should probably wait for everyone,” Patrick says, barely moving his eyes away from the TV screen.

“Considering I’m already here, I’d say we’re in the clear,” Jonny laughs but he looks up at Patrick, a small furrow in his eyebrows.

Patrick shrugs. “I invited some of the guys from the team.” He turns back to the TV and continues scrolling through the channels.

Jonny’s quiet for a few moments and when Patrick glances at him, his mouth is open stupidly and he looks a bit upset.

Patrick squints and is about to question it, but Jonny beats him to it, “Why?”

“Why not?” Patrick shrugs again. He doesn’t get why Jonny’s being so weird about this. These guys are on the team with them. “Because, they’re my friends.”

“You barely know them,” Jonny ultimately attempts to mutter under his breath, though it’s loud enough for Patrick to hear.

“I know them enough to invite them for my birthday.”

“Did any of them even know it was your birthday? You know, before I said it in the locker room today?” Jonny’s sitting up now, and he’s got that pissed off expression on his face, a tight line on his lips.

“God, why are you being such an asshole about this? It’s not like you’ve ever had a problem with them before,” Patrick shoots back. “You’re on the same team as them.”

“Yeah, I know. I don’t have to be reminded like I’m an idiot.” Jonny’s face is hard for another second and then visibly deflates. “I just thought—”

“Yeah?” Patrick can’t keep the annoyed tone out of his question. It’s involuntary, really.

Jonny stays quiet at first and then, “Never mind.” With that, he turns back on the couch and leans further down. He has a blank look on his face now.

Patrick doesn’t want the conversation to be over. He wants to figure out why Jonny is being so weird, closed off and acting like the two of them hanging out tonight is supposed to be special. He’s just about to open his mouth, ready to yell at Jonny some more, but gets interrupted by his doorbell going off. Patrick ignores the little grunt he hears from Jonny and goes upstairs to open the door.

He’s greeted by Tucker and Johnson, the top two defensemen on their team, and they each cheer loudly when he swings open the door. “Kaner!”

They walk in before Patrick has the chance to move out of the way, and Patrick has to sway a little to keep upright. It’s just how they are, Patrick reminds himself though, and directs them towards the stairs going down. Already surpassing him in height, the D-men are among the more popular group at school and they always manage to have a girl hanging off their arms. Not that Patrick is jealous. And anyway, they’re on his team, which makes them his friends, so it’s not like Jonny’s got a point or anything.

He shakes the memory of the team only telling him happy birthday thirty minutes into practice out of his mind. Patrick walks to the kitchen to grab a couple of soft drinks from the fridge and smiles at his mom.

Donna’s sitting at the table, reading through a stack of papers, and she looks up at him through her glasses. “Your other friends are here?”

“Yeah,” Patrick replies, “We’re just gonna be downstairs playing some games.” He uses his shoulder to close the fridge and juggles the four drinks in his hands. “Can you make sure the girls don’t bother us?”

Patrick loves his sisters and hopes that doesn’t sound as awful as it did in his head. It’s just the first time any of the guys on the team are over at his house, excluding Jonny. His mom understands, thankfully, and nods her head. “Do you want me to order pizzas for you boys?”

“Please,” Patrick says and walks over to peck her cheek. After that, he walks out, thankful no one was there to chirp him about it.

When he gets downstairs again, Tucker and Johnson are hovering over his gaming station and Jonny is still sitting on the couch. His face is solemn and the stack of games sits lousily on the table next to him. As predicted, Offroad is at the top, his and Jonny’s go-to, but Jonny makes no effort to move and put it in the system.

It continues like that for most of the night. Johnson comes over to ask Patrick why Jonny’s been keeping to himself all evening and all Patrick can do is shrug. He doesn’t have an answer to that and he honestly doesn’t feel like defending Jonny right now. So the three of them play NHL, even though Patrick would much rather be racing, and they share the pizzas that Patrick’s mom ordered.

“So, I’m thinking of breaking up with Christina,” Tucker says, pizza sauce smeared around his mouth as he talks mid-chew.

Patrick vaguely remembers hearing about Christina in the locker room so he widens his eyes a little to show interest. Jonny hums.

“No way, man. Didn’t you just start dating her, like, last week?” Johnson asks.

“Yeah, but Vivianne just dumped Ed so I’m thinking I may have a shot here,” Tucker replies and Patrick crinkles his nose.

He hates when the guys do this but he stays silent, even when Johnson lets out a loud, “Nice, bro,” and high fives Tucker.

The two laugh and Patrick is sure he hears Jonny snort so he looks back to where he’s sitting on the couch behind them. Jonny’s not even looking at them, his eyes are drawn down to his pizza and he’s busy separating a pepperoni slice off of the cheese to notice Patrick turning around. Patrick rolls his eyes.

“What about you, Kaner? You got your eyes on a girl?”

Patrick looks back to the two guys sitting across from him. He hears Jonny drop the slice of pizza back onto his plate.

“Nah.” Patrick tries to play it off casually, waving his hand.

It’s enough for both of them to shrug and change the subject to something that happened in their class that day. Patrick sighs, focuses on eating, and for the first time, he wants his birthday to be over already.

*

“You’re still not going to talk to me?” Patrick asks later, hand on his hip, staring at Jonny from across the room. It’s five minutes after Johnson and Tucker left and Jonny’s been sitting in his spot on the couch, staring ahead at the TV. There’s no way Patrick’s giving up on this conversation to watch NHL highlights.

“You don’t get it,” Jonny replies and how lame, Patrick thinks.

Patrick scoffs and waves his hands a little frantically. “Don’t get what? You being jealous of our teammates for no reason? Being a complete asshole to them and me all night?” He catches Jonny’s eye, “It’s pretty easy to get.”

Jonny’s silent for a second before he says bluntly, “I’m gonna go,” and he looks at Patrick, almost challenging him to argue with him.

“Yeah, whatever.” Patrick can’t keep his voice normal and he watches Jonny’s body shrink a little at his reply. It sort of makes him regret it a little but he doesn’t say anything else, just stares as Jonny hesitates, before making his way to the stairs.

Patrick goes to follow Jonny upstairs anyway, but isn’t quite quick enough. When he gets to the top, Jonny’s already darting out the door and closing it right behind him. Patrick looks at the table near the door and it’s empty, Jonny’s gift gone from where Patrick put it before.

He angrily walks to his bedroom and closes the door behind him, flopping down onto his bed with a sigh. Patrick barely understands what’s happened tonight, still a little angry and upset from the way Jonny has been acting and how they left things off. He shuts his eyes tightly and curls up on his bed and wishes, with everything in him, that he was literally anywhere else.

*

When Patrick wakes up, the first thing he notices is that he definitely feels heavier. Which is as equally weird as it is true.

The second thing is that he’s not in his room; he opens his eyes and is met with walls that are not their usual grey colour and he’s lying in an unfamiliar bed that’s two sizes bigger than his. Patrick squints and rubs at his face, wondering if maybe he did chase after Jonny after all and reach his house, but this isn’t Jonny’s room either and him forgetting about the whole thing is just as unlikely.

Patrick reaches over to where he sees a lamp on the side table and flicks the switch on. It lights up the room enough for him for spot a hundred more things that are definitely not his and he moves to get out of the bed. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get to because when he pulls the covers off, those are not his legs, which is pushing it way too far.

He’s confused and a little freaked out as he races to the bathroom, or where he’s hoping there’s a bathroom, on these legs that might be his if he worked out thirty more times a week than he does now.

It doesn’t help that when he looks in the mirror, an entirely different person is blinking back at him. So, Patrick does what any sane person would do in a situation like this.

Patrick yells.

Well, he yells and then decidedly goes to call out for his mom.

He tries around the house - apartment? - first, walking through several different rooms that don’t look anything like his own two-story home he shares with his family. It’s empty too, so Patrick halts in the expensive looking kitchen and takes a deep breath. He needs to calm down and think this through. There’s no logical explanation to what could have happened and right now, he’s not entirely convinced that this is real.

There’s a bowl of fruit next to him so Patrick reaches forward to grab an apple, noticing he’s hungry even in his stressed state.

He walks across the room to where there’s a kitchen table lined with papers. None of the words jump out at him as he skims through the papers, until he sees his own name and freezes mid-bite. It’s a small clipping from a newspaper that Patrick’s never heard of, but that’s his own name on the headline and he has to pick it up to read.

Patrick Kane nets hat trick against Coyotes to bring Blackhawks up 6-3 in third period

Patrick needs to sit or lie down because he’s verging on the edge of freaking out again. That’s his name in the same title as an NHL team, an original six team, and he has to try really hard to not cry or something because this Patrick, whoever he is, made it big and did exactly what he’s dreamed about forever.

He walks around the massive apartment, yanking open the first door down the hallway, right next to the bedroom. At first glance, it looks like an office, but he gets close enough to the desk to see picture frames and glass cases. There’s pucks in a bunch of them, each wrapped with tape and scribbled with a black marker, and they all mark special goals that he’s scored over the years. The pictures are all of him with trophies he’s won and a couple of them are with his teammates. He fawns over the ones with the Cup and can’t stop himself from smiling.

He stops smiling when he remembers this isn’t real because there’s no damn way all this happened and he can’t remember a single moment of it.

Patrick looks up when an annoying ringing starts coming from somewhere in the bedroom. He tentatively walks around until he spots a small device on the bedside table. It’s buzzing loudly and the name Seabs is displayed on the screen, before it goes silent and turns black.

He carefully moves closer and sees that there’s exactly one button on it, so he presses it.

6 Missed Calls

1 Voicemail

11 New Messages

The messages are all from people he doesn’t know, of course, but he scrolls through them, confused. The one from someone named Seabs is particularly interesting, warning Patrick that he better have a good excuse as to why he’s late for morning practice. Your captain is not happy so can you just get over here, is what the last message says and even though Patrick has no idea what is going on, he feels almost obligated to listen to the text.

He’s about to write a reply back when he hears keys jiggling from outside the apartment. Patrick freezes when the door opens wide and he barely has time to hide behind his bedroom door before he sees a man walk in. The guy drops the keys onto a small table and continues to saunter in as if belonging there, grabbing a small stack of mail and shuffling through it.

“Patrick?”

Patrick holds his breath and wishes for him to leave because obviously this guy knows him, or well, future him, and that’s just something he doesn’t want to deal with.

“Babe?” The guy calls out again and now Patrick is just freaking out all over again. He stays out of view, sliding across the wall of the bedroom, until he reaches the bathroom and shuts the door.

He’s not sure how long he stays in there, staring at his reflection in the mirror. It’s crazy to see someone who looks similar yet so different stare back at him, almost as if he had an older brother. He’s definitely aged and his hair has gotten longer from what he remembers, but he’s also taller and built, which is what really impresses him. Patrick's not sure what year it is but he’s had to be in the NHL for years at least to get his body like this. He’ll have to do a Google search on himself later.

Patrick hesitantly opens the bathroom door, peeking out and checking to see that the room is clear. He walks out into the hallway to the direction of the kitchen and stops when he hears someone mutter, “There you are.”

It’s the same guy sitting on a stool at the counter. He’s sipping from a large coffee mug and his dark eyes are staring at Patrick incredulously. He grabs his coffee and gets up, coming to meet Patrick near the sink. Patrick stiffens when the guy gets close enough to start leaning in close, and he turns his head and steadies a hand on the stranger’s chest.

The guy stares at Patrick with a confused look but eventually laughs, as if Patrick were joking. He sits his mug in the sink and Patrick is still jittery as he asks, “Who are you?” He ignores the shock he feels when he hears his own, rough voice.

“C’mon, Patrick. We didn’t have that much to drink last night.” The guy turns to start washing some dishes lying in the sink. “Although, you did get pretty handsy and I’m definitely not complaining.”

Patrick scrunches his face at that but for the sake of not wanting to know more about it, he ignores it. “I’m serious.”

“Fine, I’ll play along,” he says and turns his body to Patrick, “Hi, I’m Kyle and you’re Patrick Kane. Nice game last night.”

Patrick wouldn’t know but he’s reminded of the article and feels happy for a second. Then, he remembers the text on his phone telling him to get his ass to practice and figures he’d better get there soon to prevent his future self from getting in trouble.

He has to Google where the Blackhawks practice takes place, typing it into the small buttons on his phone after figuring out the basics of it. It’s only ten minutes away but Patrick has never been behind a wheel and probably shouldn’t attempt it now.

“You want me to drop you off? You don’t look too well.”

“No,” Patrick answers Kyle quickly. He isn’t sure what he looks like but he’s glad he doesn’t need to make up an excuse as to why he can’t drive. Still, Patrick would rather not be stuck with Kyle in the car. “You must have, uh, work or something.”

Kyle stays quiet but then nods and Patrick breathes out in relief. “At least let me call you an Uber,” Kyle tries, reaching for his phone on the counter.

Patrick has no clue what Uber is but he agrees anyway, if so to get out of the apartment quick enough. Kyle goes to call for one and rattles off an address at the top of his head, which Patrick figures must be his own. It’s clear that these two have some sort of romantic relationship and it confuses the hell out of Patrick, but he forces himself to keep his cool until he’s clear of the building.

He escapes to go change, letting Kyle know he’ll be back. Kyle hums and returns to the paper he was reading, completely normal. Patrick walks idly towards the dresser in the room, wondering if his morning could ever get weirder at this point.

The Uber is outside in the next five minutes, Kyle tells him, so Patrick practically runs out the door, not responding to the “Don’t I get a goodbye kiss?” he hears as he closes the door. He rides the elevator down and rubs a hand over his face, feeling emotionally exhausted from this morning already.

When he gets out of the elevator and goes to leave, the older man standing at the door of his building greets him with a cheerful, “Have a good morning, Mr. Kane!”

Patrick doesn’t know his name nor why he would ever ask to be called Mr. Kane, so he just nods and exits swiftly. He leans down to get into the car that’s clearly waiting up front for him, letting the driver know where to bring him. Patrick settles into the backseat and pulls out his phone to click on Seabs’ name. He texts on my way and sends it before locking the phone and letting his head fall against the window, exhausted.

*

Patrick arrives at his destination quicker than he thought he would. He freezes for a second, unsure if he even has money to pay but is thankful when he feels a wallet in his front pocket. He finds enough change to hand the driver and then turns to walk into the building.

Seabs says that he’ll meet him in the locker room and Patrick has to walk about several halls and ask one worker where exactly that is. He gets a strange look for that but the woman just points and directs him, wary. When he finally reaches the door, he swings it open to find an empty locker room besides the man sitting at one of the stalls. He’s taller than Patrick and has a beard that covers the bottom half of his face, complementing the nice flow of dark hair on his head. His face isn’t too happy though, so Patrick takes small, hesitant steps forward and wonders what he’s supposed to do.

Seabs just puts a hand up to stop him and then points to the left where there’s a stall filled with untouched gear and a shiny plaque with Patrick’s name on it. “Get suited up.”

Patrick hurries to sit down and then goes to grab the Under Armour. He’s dressed up for practices and games before but this gear is so unfamiliar that he stares at it a second too long, resulting in Seabs shooting him a weird look. Patrick flushes but continues to keep his face neutral, hoping he doesn’t give too much away.

Seabs must get tired of waiting on him because he tells Patrick that he’ll see him on the ice and then leaves the room. Patrick breathes out in relief. He needs a second to calm down; he’s about to go out there and skate with a real NHL team that think he’s their Patrick and he has to convince them of it. It’s just a lot to digest.

Patrick is out of the locker room soon enough though and lingers a little at the end of the tunnel leading to the ice. He hears the sound of skates on ice and various shots being taken off sticks and for a second he actually misses it. He clutches the stick in his hand tightly and tries not to think about the games that he inevitably is missing back in his old universe.

He wonders how this whole body swap/parallel universe thing works as he trudges down the hall, closer to the rink. To say that Patrick is warming up to the idea more is a bit of a stretch but he’s definitely controlled his panic a lot more.

“Kane!”

Patrick jumps slightly at the booming voice and spots a man skating towards the bench Patrick is standing close to. He isn’t dressed in hockey gear and is clearly older than all the guys he’s seen on hockey teams so Patrick figures he must be the coach. Which, crap.

“You better have a good reason to be almost forty minutes late to a mandatory practice,” He speaks loudly as he gets closer to Patrick’s face.

“Yes, Sir.” Coach. Whatever. “I, uh,” Patrick stops dumbly. Got sent through time? Actually am thirteen years old and not thirty like you strangers believe? “Overslept.”

The coach is glaring but his face softens a little and he releases a quick chuckle. “You overslept?” He asks, amusement in his tone.

Patrick shrugs, for the lack of response, and for the fact that he has no idea how he’s getting away with it.

Coach looks at him skeptically but seemingly backs up a bit. He nods his head towards the ice. “Go get in line,” he says and he doesn’t sound mad at all now.

Patrick hurries to walk down the rest of the hall to join the guys on the ice. He spots Seabs down near the goalie, surrounded by a jumble of red jerseys. When he looks up from the puck on his stick towards Patrick, he starts skating over towards him and attracts the attention of the other players.

Patrick awkwardly steps onto the ice and almost immediately falls forward, catching himself on the boards and steadies his legs. He’s not used to the new proportions of his body, especially on the ice and new skates.

Luckily, no one sees his little misstep and he skates a few strokes forward to get used to the new balance.

“You’re skating with Panarin and Anisimov today, as usual.” Patrick hears Seabs say as he gets closer.

Now, several of the other guys are staring his way and Patrick almost lifts his hand to wave, before realizing how dumb it might look. He squints and tries to find the two names that Seabs said on any of the guys’ backs.

“Let’s hope Cap doesn’t chew you out for missing drills this morning,” Seabs laughs and gives him a hard pat on his shoulder. It jostles Patrick a little, but he’s bigger now so he’s able to take it. Seabs doesn’t say anything more, just turns away from Patrick and calls out, “Tazer, come here man.”

Someone looks up from his conversation at centre ice with the coach and Patrick sees the guy’s eyes flicker between him and Seabs, before making his way to them.

Patrick feels a puck hit the bottom of his stick so he looks down to shoot it back towards the net softly. One of the guys shoots it towards the goal and goes into a mini celly that Patrick has to smirk at. When he turns back towards Seabs, the captain is in front of them and Patrick has just a few moments of eye contact before he feels the ice clip out from underneath him again.

He’s not sure how he doesn’t almost fall on his ass again but Patrick’s sure the air stills around him. He’s got two eyes on Jonny – his best friend, Jonny – who seems to have gone through some age aggression thing as well where he too is older. And taller. And hotter.

It’s the first time Patrick’s thought of Jonny like that, or allowed himself to, but then again, he’s thirteen. It’s not like he’s exactly looking.

“Kaner?” And yeah, Jonny’s voice is rougher too, having gone through puberty and aged for all these years. He sounds concerned and is staring at Patrick like he might try and fall over again.

“I’m good,” Patrick reassures and nods his head as if trying to convince himself of that as well.

Jonny gives him a skeptical look but lets it slide. His eyes search Patrick’s face for a second, seemingly looking for something in it, something he can’t find, and Patrick freezes.

Jonny eventually breaks eye contact and turns to where some players are lining up along the boards and Patrick tries not to stare too hard at his profile. He looks enough like himself that Patrick was able to recognize him, but the firm lines and new sharpness of his features are unfamiliar to Patrick.

Jonny talks to Seabs for a bit and Patrick tries to listen in to become familiar with the new play. After a while, Jonny nods, tells them to get in line, and then skates off.

Jonny is pretty much all Patrick can think about for the greater part of practice. It distracts him a bit from the plays he’s supposed to be making, but honestly it wouldn’t have been better if he was focused anyway. This future Patrick, though it’s oddly annoying to admit, is better at hockey than he is and clearly has great chemistry with his linemates. Patrick can’t get the puck to Anisimov’s stick once during the first couple of runs and he hears Coach Q say, “Kaner, you know these plays already,” as another puck flies too far for him to grab.

Patrick doesn’t really. He knows his old plays, and how to get around some mediocre high school kids, but this is not any of that. He huffs in annoyance and exhaustion as he skates off the ice at the end of practice, following the rest of the team to the locker room.

Jonny stays on the ice after they leave so Patrick doesn’t get to stop him in the hall and when he finally walks into the locker room, he goes straight to his stall on the other side of the room between Crawford and Hartman. So, Patrick finishes undressing, goes to shower and then leaves, barely speaking besides calling out a goodbye to people he mostly doesn’t know.

*

Patrick finds his way back to his apartment easily enough. Luckily, his phone has the address registered into the navigation system so he tells the cab driver and then waits the full ten minute ride, quiet in the backseat.

After he’s arrived back to his building and nodded to the doorman on his way up, Patrick winces in front of his closed front door. He almost completely forgot about Kyle during practice and prays that the guy went home.

He unlocks his door and walks in, toeing off his shoes and walking deeper into the hallway. He turns the corner and sighs, seeing the TV playing a show that Patrick doesn’t recognize and Kyle lounging on the couch, his feet propped up on the coffee table.

“Hey,” Kyle drags out the word when he sees Patrick standing there, “You’re back.”

He makes no move to get up and Patrick’s fine with that. He mumbles a greeting and then continues towards his bedroom. He doesn’t know exactly how to get Kyle to leave but Patrick would rather nap now than deal with it. His muscles feel fine for the most part, thanks to the new body, but time travelling to where he’s an NHL superstar and meeting adult Jonny is emotionally tiring.

He dozes off on his bed for about an hour but is woken up by the sound of the buzzer going off in the apartment. Patrick hears Kyle’s voice calling, “Who is it?”

Patrick can’t hear the reply back. He gets up to get dressed as Kyle buzzes the person in, and walks to pick out some clothes from the dresser. He crinkles his nose at the minimal variety of shorts and t-shirts that are somewhat folded in there but pulls out a pair of plain, black sweatpants. He keeps the same shirt on and then goes to leave the bedroom, curious to see who came over.

Patrick is down the hall when Kyle reaches the front door and opens it. Jonny is there, hand lifted, looking as if he was about to knock. He stares down Kyle after the door opens all the way and then flickers his eyes to Patrick and back to Kyle twice.

“Hi,” Kyle is the first to speak and he looks slightly annoyed.

Jonny mumbles, “Hey.” He waits until Kyle finally moves out of the way so that he can walk into the apartment. “Hi, Kaner.”

“Hi, Jonny,” Patrick replies. “What’s up?” He’s on edge here, not sure exactly how to talk to Jonny.

Jonny glances back to Kyle, who stands tall behind Jonny, arms crossed at his chest. Patrick doesn’t get why the two seem wary around each other but the way Kyle bores holes into Jonny’s head makes him dislike the guy more.

“You were acting really weird at practice today. Just wanted to make sure you’re alright,” Jonny says and his last words sling together to form a hint of an accent that reminds Patrick of his thirteen year old self.

Patrick opens his mouth to answer but Kyle beats him to it by saying, “Patrick is fine.”

Patrick glares at him; he can speak for himself. “Kyle,” he says, flatly. “Can you give me and Jonny some privacy?”

Kyle turns to him and loses any sort of annoyance he gathered from staring at Jonny. He straightens up and nods, “Sure, babe.” Then, in one swift motion, he walks across the room and kisses Patrick, almost like he’s trying to prove a point.

Patrick figures this isn’t their first kiss but it’s the first time he can ever remember kissing a guy. He doesn’t like the fact that it was practically forced onto him or that Kyle’s lips are dry and scratchy against Patrick’s, but the whole guy thing surprises him less than he thought it would.

Jonny stands in the hallway, his head turned from them as Patrick stays limp in Kyle’s grip. He releases Patrick soon enough and then grabs a set of keys from the table near the door.

“Are you okay?” Jonny repeats after the door closes behind Kyle.

“Yeah. It’s just been a weird morning,” Patrick answers, staring at the door that Kyle just walked out of. When Jonny doesn’t look any more reassured, he adds, “Really, I’m fine.”

Jonny does relax a little at that. Patrick can still feel the awkwardness surrounding the room so he starts walking towards the kitchen. “Do you want something to drink?” He calls over his shoulder.

Jonny’s voice carries through the house. “No, thanks.” He appears in the doorway just as Patrick reaches to open the fridge. He looks as though he wants to say something, or ask Patrick something more than if he’s okay, but he doesn’t.

Patrick turns to the fridge and grimaces. He’s glad Jonny said no because the only things in it are a carton of soy milk and some takeout containers.

Jonny spots them over his shoulder and shoots him a look that says ‘really?’

And just like that, Patrick can remember the exact same look on a thirteen year old version of Jonny. He’s seen it and handled it enough times that he just snorts. “When did you become the health police?”

It’s a weak one, even Patrick knows, and Jonny stands there unimpressed for a second. “Haha,” Jonny states, monotone. “You and the team need some new jokes. The ‘Captain Seriously Healthy’ ones get old after a while.”

Patrick doesn’t get the joke or know who came up with it, but it sounds terrible. Still, he lets out a small laugh for the sake of his act. He’s about to invite Jonny into the living room to watch TV, even though he has no clue what even airs on it anymore, when Jonny clears his throat to say, “I’m actually just going to head off.”

“Huh?” Patrick says. “You don’t have to.”

“I have to go home anyway to do some stuff and I really just came to check if you were okay.” Jonny looks a little uncomfortable now. “Plus, you kicked out Kyle,” he adds, exasperated.

Patrick doesn’t really care about Kyle but he doesn’t protest. He figures he has to at least look like he cares about their relationship.

“Yeah,” Patrick says but it falls flat, Jonny already walking to the front door.

“See you tomorrow,” Jonny adds lastly, hesitating at the door for a second before he shuts it softly behind him.

Patrick is left with an annoying feeling in his stomach. He’s not used to such awkward conversations with Jonny – they used to flow so easily.

Patrick all but runs to his phone that he left on his bed. He opens the Safari app and types in his name, fingers a bit shaky. He still can’t believe that he and Jonny are here, in the NHL, together. Patrick and Jonny did that and his mind can’t get around it, considering just a day ago they were skating at their own practice, back in their universe when Patrick was competing to get on Jonny’s line in a high school league.

Patrick breezes through several articles about his evident point streak last season and the many, many awards he’s gotten over the years. He almost gawks when he finds out about the cups - three of them - and how they’re on the right track to another one this season. There’s a small video on that website that Patrick clicks on out of curiosity.

It’s after one of their cup wins, the team in their home colours, and Jonny and Patrick are holding onto each other as though their lives depended on it. Patrick’s hand is fisted into the back of Jonny’s jersey and they’ve both got large grins plastered on their faces, mouthing something to each other that Patrick can’t decipher. It makes him wish he could remember this moment and all the other ones he’s most probably had with Jonny.

He’s almost overwhelmed with pride as he remembers how Jonny skated around the ice that morning, the ‘C’ on his chest white and heroic; and yeah, it makes sense, this is what the two of them were meant to be doing.

*

They have the next day off. Patrick eventually found where he keeps his schedule, in an organized drawer inside his desk. He was ruffling through some stuff, looking for anything to help him keep up his act of being thirty, when he heard the front door open. He knew it had to be Kyle, the guy doesn’t quit, so he quickly shoved everything back into its place and climbed into bed, ignoring the sound of boots walking around the bedroom until he fell asleep.

In the morning, Kyle is still asleep when Patrick gets up to shower. They have a practice and game tomorrow but he doesn’t want to lie in bed anymore, so he gets up to go to the kitchen to get something to eat. There’s a coffee machine in the corner on the counter so he fiddles around with it until it starts pouring out into a mug. Patrick’s never been a big fan of the taste but he knows it’s a pretty adult thing to do, so he sits and waits for it to finish.

Kyle gets up sometime after Patrick’s done sipping half of his coffee. He walks in slumping, and ignores Patrick the whole time until he makes his coffee and downs most of it. He turns to Patrick and says, “You slept on my side of the bed last night.”

Patrick looks up squinting. He usually prefers the left side which is what he chose yesterday and doubts that could've changed with age. Still, he only responds a curt, “Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Kyle says and now he looks confused. “What’s going on with you?”

“Nothing. It’s just been a weird couple of days.”

“You were fine before yesterday,” Kyle argues and then angrily adds, “Was it Jonny? Did he say something to you again?”

Now, Patrick has to furrow his eyebrows because he’s lost. What could have happened between him and Jonny? “No. Jonny and I are fine.” He hopes they are, at least.

Kyle grunts at that and looks like he’s about to say something else but Patrick’s phone pings with an incoming text.

It’s only Seabs reminding him that they have a practice tomorrow morning at the same time and Patrick cringes. He gave his future self a babysitter.

“I have to take this,” Patrick lies and goes to escape to his bedroom. He doesn’t want to have to answer any more questions about why he’s being so weird.

When Patrick walks into his room, he immediately goes to flop face down on the bed. His phone is still in his hand so he unlocks it and scrolls through several unfamiliar apps before coming across his contacts, and he hurriedly opens them up.

His mom’s phone number is there, right in the middle of the M section, and he clicks the call button quickly. It rings once, twice, before Patrick hears a click on the other side.

“Hello?”

“Mom?” Patrick asks, hesitant and a little nervous.

“Pat?” His mom’s voice is warm, even over the phone.

“Yeah.” Patrick breathes out in relief. “How are you?”

“I’m good, honey,” she replies. There’s a pause where Patrick is just happy to hear her voice. “Did you need anything?” she asks when he doesn’t say anything for a moment.

“Not really.” Yeah. He needs his life back and an explanation for everything that’s happened in the last couple of days. “I just wanted to talk. How are the girls and Dad?” He holds his breath.

“They’re good,” she says and Patrick slowly exhales. “Erica just called from Dubai with news that she’s going to come home for Christmas.”

His little sister is in Dubai? “That’s awesome.”

His mom hums. “What about you? Are you coming home during your break?” Her question makes him doubt that she expects him to.

Patrick makes the promise either way. “Yes, of course, Ma.”

She squeals with excitement and suddenly, Patrick misses her even more. He hangs up the phone with her soon after she tells him that she has to go and he feels reassured enough to let her leave. All he needed was that short, simple conversation to finally feel better about his current situation.

The rest of the day is spent lounging around in sweatpants, watching anything he can find on the TV. It’s all confusing and there’s over three hundred channels so he settles with flicking through a bunch for a while. Kyle leaves and comes back from work, immediately showering and Patrick wonders how much longer he can let this go on for. He doesn’t feel comfortable telling some random guy about what’s happening but he also feels awful for stringing this relationship along.

He doesn’t fix the problem. Instead, he eats the food Kyle cooks, quietly, and heads to bed early.

*

The next morning, Patrick wakes up a half an hour before his alarm is supposed to go off. He remembers practice so he skips the shower that morning, getting his stuff ready instead and heading to the kitchen to get something to eat.  

Kyle wakes up a few minutes before Patrick needs to go, and walks into the kitchen to head straight to the coffee pot. “Morning.”

“Hi,” Patrick replies, standing up to put his dish in the sink and grabbing his bag.

“You already leaving? It’s kinda early,” Kyle says, glancing at the clock.

He’s actually just on time, maybe even early, to make up for last practice. “Yeah. Coach wants us a bit earlier today.”

“Hm,” Kyle mutters, “you good?” And there goes that damn question again.

“I’m just nervous for the game tonight,” Patrick says, and it’s the truth for some reason, and not him chewing Kyle out for asking the same, useless question.

“It’s just Toronto,” Kyle jokes, shrugging and Patrick knows exactly what Jonny - or at least the old Jonny - would say to that. He’d reprimand him for not taking every team seriously, no matter their points or place in the standing, and Patrick would only slightly chirp him about being so invested in their high school division.

“The Leafs do have a lot of new talent in Matthews and Marner though,” Kyle adds when Patrick tunes back into the conversation.

Not even knowing who those players are, Patrick just nods and goes to grab his bag to leave. Kyle offers him a lift again but Patrick refuses, quickly lying that one of the guys is going to pick him up. When Kyle leaves the kitchen to get into the shower, he rushes out of the building and into the Uber that he called for a half hour ago.

*

Patrick is one of the first guys to get there, unlike yesterday, so he sits in his stall to start rummaging through his bag while the rest of the team trickles in.

Once he gets on the ice, Coach Q tells Patrick to get with Panarin and Anisimov again today, so he skates to the other side of the rink and nods a hello at them. They’re discussing the same play that Patrick messed up on last time and trying to find a way to get the puck to him this time. It doesn’t help; when he skates with the puck on his stick, it’s almost like he’s going too fast. He has no one to pass to when he reaches the net, so he has to shoot it backwards, resulting in another messed up play.

“For God’s sake,” Jonny mutters, clearly growing frustrated with the lack of chemistry between Patrick and his linemates. “Just put him on my line for the next shift.”

Q begins to protest but Jonny interrupts. “He has the skill so it’s not his fault. You’ve already checked him for any health problems and he’s fine. So let’s juggle him around lines until he can find chemistry with someone.” His tone isn’t angry, not to Patrick, but he is wildly gesturing with his hands. It’s enough for Q to nod and instruct Patrick to stand with Jonny and his left winger, Schmaltz .

Patrick was doubting a line change would help but he’s not about to turn down an opportunity to practice on the first line. Besides, playing with Jonny is something that Patrick wants and actually knows how to do.

As soon as they start skating and Patrick begins carrying the puck down the ice, it’s like they’re back in high school. He’s well aware of Jonny’s presence near him and when he hears him call his name, Patrick knows exactly where Jonny’s going to be in front of the net. Patrick gets the puck around a player he can’t even recognize because it’s so quick, and then it’s off of his stick.

He’s only a hundred percent sure it worked when he hears Jonny let out a loud whoop. When Patrick skates behind the net, he finds himself in Jonny’s arms so fast that it surprises him.

“There we go!” Jonny is yelling into Patrick’s ear and even though it was an easy assist on a goal at practice, Patrick can’t help but grin widely.

They continue drills: five on five, three on three, two on one, and it’s as though Patrick and Jonny are connected. Q and some of their teammates stand near the bench, impressed, as Jonny’s pass hits Patrick’s stick and Patrick finishes off with a spinorama. The shot is saved by Crawford but Jonny is still smiling at him as they skate towards the rest of the team.

“There’s the Kaner we know and love!” someone calls out. Q waves them quiet as he writes something down on his board.

Patrick tries to listen as Q addresses the whole team but it becomes a blur after he tells Patrick that he’ll play on the first line during tonight’s game. He knows the intensity of the game that night is going to be huge compared to what he’s used to but he can’t help but be excited for it.

Patrick follows the team back to the locker room once practice ends, his legs sore from pushing so hard but he knows it’s worth it. He sits in silence mostly, stripping the gear off of his body and chuckling when one of the guys include him in a joke. He’s showered and ready to go when he hears his name being called.

Jonny is walking towards his stall and Patrick flickers his eyes left and right, making sure no one is going to be snooping in on their conversation.

“Do you wanna go for lunch?” Jonny asks.

Patrick tosses the idea around his head, realizing just how awkward it could be on his part. He doesn’t want a repeat of last night and he still needs to go home and deal with Kyle, so he shakes his head.

“Another time, man,” Patrick replies, leaning down to pick up his bag. When he looks back up, Jonny’s face is solemn. “Why don’t you see if the rookies wanna go?”

Most of the time, Patrick can’t even tell the rookies apart from the rest of the team but he’s slowly getting better with names.

“Maybe,” Jonny answers but he makes no move towards where the rest of the guys are hanging out.

They end up leaving together. Jonny doesn’t ask anyone else out for lunch, just waves goodbye and tells the team to get rested before tonight’s game, his tone curt and quiet. Patrick follows him to his car, feeling bad, before taking out his phone to call for a ride.

Patrick notices Jonny sitting in his car, unmoving, as he types the address into his Uber app. Once he’s almost done, he hears a car door open and Jonny call, “Kaner, what are you doing?”

“Calling an Uber,” Patrick replies. “My car’s in the shop,” he lies when Jonny still looks confused.

It’s believable enough because the furrowed lines around Jonny’s eyes relax and he sighs. “I’ll give you a ride home.”

He doesn’t want to look like he’s trying to avoid Jonny, even if he technically is, so Patrick nods and thanks him, moving to get into the car. Jonny unlocks the door and waits until he’s seated and buckled in to start driving.

The ride isn’t as awkward as Patrick was expecting. Jonny turns on the radio to fill the silence, tapping his thumbs on the steering wheel to the music, and Patrick relaxes into his seat. It’s not exactly comfortable between them but the ten minutes pass quickly enough that Patrick barely notices them pulling into the front of his apartment building.

“Thanks for the ride,” Patrick says once Jonny puts the car in park, and then turns to face him.

“It’s no problem, you know that,” Jonny replies and he has a soft smile sitting on his lips that makes Patrick smile back at him. “Call me if there’s anything you need.”

For some reason, Patrick doubts this is how normal their relationship usually is. He sensed the awkwardness when he first woke up as a thirty year old and he knows that something must have happened over the years to derail their normal, good friendship that Patrick remembers.

He nods and agrees, moving to open his door and get out of the car. Patrick walks to the lobby’s front door and turns back to see Jonny waiting, probably until he gets inside. He waves at him one last time, and then to the doorman, and walks over to call for an elevator.

When Patrick reaches the door of his apartment, he gets out his keys and unlocks the front door. Stepping inside, he toes off his shoes and hears sounds coming from the kitchen. He follows it and is not at all surprised to find Kyle in there, rummaging through a cupboard.

“Hey, Pat,” Kyle says when he notices Patrick at the doorway. “I was just about to cook some lunch.”

Patrick has never had a girlfriend, let alone a boyfriend, so he musters up whatever knowledge movies have taught him and asks, “Can we talk?”

Kyle pauses for a second but doesn’t stop what he was doing. “Sure.”

“It’s just,” Patrick starts and he really wishes he knew where this was going. “I’m not the same -” person that I was before two days ago? he thinks and almost laughs, “person and I have a lot on my plate with hockey and it’s unfair to you.”

Despite it being a mess, Kyle lifts a hand to get Patrick to stop talking, to which Patrick sighs, thankful. “It’s alright. I know what’s going on here,” he says, “you don’t have to continue.”

Patrick’s eyebrows furrow.

“It’s Jonny,” Kyle states and Patrick is about to argue before he says, “He said something to you or something happened between you two.”

Patrick doesn’t deny it, even though nothing did happen, and just asks, “Why do you always assume it’s Jonny?”

Kyle shrugs. “‘Cause it always is. There was something there before I met you and there’s always going to be. You can’t deny it.”

Well, he’s right. Patrick can’t. He doesn’t know what Jonny and his older self got up to but he is insanely curious. He stays silent, unknowing.

“It’s okay. It’s not you I’m mad at,” Kyle adds. His eyes are glaring though.

“Okay,” Patrick tests, slowly.

There’s a bit of an awkward pause before Kyle gets up and walks to the front door. He grabs some things from the table beside the door and his jacket from the closet, and then turns back to Patrick. Without speaking, he nods and then leaves.

Patrick is left confused and curious but he sighs out of relief at how easy that was. Then, with the sudden need to get his questions answered, he pulls out his phone to text Jonny.

You still wanna get lunch?

*

“You owe me twenty bucks in gas,” Jonny says when Patrick walks over to his car. The window is rolled down so Patrick can see his face and tell he’s joking, so he laughs.

“Please, you love driving me all around Chicago, admit it.” Patrick climbs into the passenger seat, at ease.

“Hm.” Jonny shifts the gear into drive and then takes off after Patrick buckles in. “How long is your car in for anyway?”

“Another week,” Patrick lies. He really hopes he isn’t stuck in this body for longer than that, no matter how famous he is in this life.

The rest of the conversation is easy, questions that Patrick can keep up with and not mess up. Jonny drives by streets and highways that Patrick has never seen before and then pulls into the parking lot of a small restaurant.

Patrick figures the team must be regulars here because the lady that seats them isn’t fazed at all when they walk in, just shows them to the table and asks Jonny if any of the other guys are going to join them. Jonny shakes his head and she smiles, handing them two menus before sauntering off.

Patrick browses through it quickly and when the waitress comes back, he already has his order ready. He gets a burger and fries and hopes that Jonny doesn’t comment about proper game day meals.

Surprisingly, Jonny orders a similar one but with a ton of veggies on the side. He gets an iced tea also, which sounds good to Patrick, who gets one as well.

Then the lady leaves and the atmosphere sort of shifts around them. Patrick can sense the air stilling and he doesn’t want it to be weird, so he asks Jonny about his family, hoping that’s what future him would do also.

They share small talk while they eat, Patrick refusing to let it be awkward, but he shuffles in his seat, uncomfortable as it drags on. Jonny keeps glancing at him and Patrick thinks that maybe he should tell him the truth, however weird it may sound.

“What’s up with you?”

Jonny is holding his fork in his hand but he’s still, staring at Patrick. Yeah, Patrick should definitely tell him.

“I have something I need to talk to you about,” Patrick says. He hopes Jonny doesn’t run out of here when he tells him, yelling about how Patrick’s lost his mind.

Jonny’s eyes widen slightly that Patrick almost missed it. He clears his throat. “What?” Jonny asks, hesitant.

Well, it’s now or never, so Patrick takes a big breath.

“I’m not actually Patrick Kane,” Patrick starts.

“Uh–”

“Well, I am but I’m not your Patrick Kane,” he says, trying to recover quickly.

“I know you’re not my Patrick,” Jonny says after a pause, a little upset, and Patrick shakes his head. “But Kaner, I don’t think we need to talk about this.” Jonny glances around his head, probably looking for the waitress and their check.

“Oh, but we do,” Patrick insists. “Remember a couple of days ago when I was late to practice?”

“And then proceeded to mess up every play?” Jonny must attempt to go for a weak punch, trying to differ the conversation, but it falls flat to the point Patrick’s trying to make.

“Yes. That’s because I’m actually thirteen years old and I don’t belong here. I’m from a different universe or something,” Patrick confuses himself as he talks, “anyway, I was brought here and I don’t remember anything besides going to sleep as a thirteen year old and waking up as a thirty year old.” He talks so fast and broken that he has to make sure Jonny understands.

Jonny who, as it turns out, is looking at Patrick like he just said he wanted to quit hockey.

“Look,” Jonny speaks slowly. “I get you might not want to talk about what happened the night before but you don’t have to pretend th–”

“Hold on.” Patrick waves a hand in front of Jonny. “What happened?”

Jonny lets out a squeak like sound that Patrick knows he didn’t mean to. He looks even more tired now and frankly, a little hurt. Patrick can’t exactly do anything to help that.

“I have to pee,” Jonny pretty bluntly says and then gets out of his chair.

Patrick stays in his seat, mouth open as he stares at Jonny’s back disappearing behind the wall leading to the bathrooms. The waitress comes around after a minute to pick up the last of their plates and Patrick tells her that Jonny will be back in a second, even though he’s pretty unsure of that himself.

It takes longer than a second. Patrick watches a family come into the restaurant, sit, and order their food before he sees Jonny walking back to their table. His face is unreadable but his body looks swiftly determined.

“Okay,” Jonny says and his voice is steady. “Let’s say you’re telling the truth and this is not some dumb team prank.” Pause. “It isn’t a team prank right?”

Patrick shakes his head.

“Okay,” Jonny repeats. “So, let’s say you’re actually thirteen and you were transported,” he does air quotes around the word, “to a different universe. Why would they send you here out of all places?”

So, Jonny’s trying to find the logic in this, Patrick realizes. “I don’t think you can find the logic here.”

Jonny continues to look determined. He thinks for a second and asks, “Do you remember something happening before you switched?”

Patrick sighs. “It was my thirteenth birthday party, man, I don’t know.” He notices the way Jonny stills at that. “We had just gotten into a dumb argument.” He gestures between the two of them.

“Yeah,” Jonny mutters quietly. “I remember that.”

“Good.” Patrick is excited now; he might be able go get some answers. “Do you know what happened with us after?”

Jonny stares at him, hesitant, and Patrick encourages him a little by letting out a, “please.”

Jonny glances around them. The restaurant hasn’t filled up too much since they first walked in but there are a couple of people sitting near them now. The waitress comes around again so Patrick looks Jonny in the eye and when he nods, asks for the bill.

They go back to Patrick’s place. Patrick’s not even sure Jonny notices, his body looks almost in autopilot as he drives and doesn’t speak to Patrick the whole time. They get back to Patrick’s building and he unlocks his front door, well aware of Jonny standing a foot away, looking nervous.

Without even offering a drink or something, Patrick leads them to the living room and sits on the couch. He looks at Jonny expectantly.

“This is dumb,” Jonny mutters under his breath but Patrick still hears him. He agrees.

“I don’t know if I’m much help to you, anyway, if you can’t remember your whole life. We didn’t talk for years until you came to the Hawks,” Jonny says.

Patrick furrows his eyebrows. “Really? What’s up with that?”

“Lost touch or whatever,” Jonny replies. He shrugs his shoulder like it’s no big deal but Patrick can see how it bothers him at least a little.

It bothers Patrick too. “But, we still went to the same school? And what about the team?”

“You changed schools. There was a private one uptown that had one of the best little league teams apparently, so your mom switched you over there.”

“Wait,” Patrick interrupts in disbelief. “This was all over a stupid fight about who I invited to my party?”

Jonny settles back into the couch and visibly blushes. “No,” he says quietly. He doesn’t say anything more even though Patrick wishes he would.

“Alright, so,” Patrick says, still curious to know more. “We lose touch and then both get drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks which.” He pauses to motion with his hands. “Is huge. What else?

“Nothing, really.” Jonny shrugs. “You were good; you won the Calder.”

“You got captain,” Patrick adds.

“Yeah, I was good too,” Jonny retorts, chuckling.

Patrick shrugs. “We still are,” he points out. He hasn’t forgotten all the stats he’s found on Google.

Jonny is silent for a second. He shakes his head. “I knew it was weird when we somehow had chemistry on the ice again.” He notices Patrick’s raised eyebrows. “We haven’t clicked like that in forever.” His tone is sad and Patrick’s heart squeezes.

“What happened to us in this universe?” Patrick hates the thought of losing his Jonny as a friend.

Jonny stays quiet and Patrick has to glance at him. Jonny’s sitting, staring ahead of him at the blank TV. He starts speaking quickly, “Everything was fine until I screwed it up. I had to go ahead and tell you I loved you.”

Patrick’s mouth falls open. “What?”

Jonny shifts uncomfortably.

“What did I do?” Patrick asks, almost regrettably. The thought of his Jonny liking him in that way confuses him and excites him at the same time and he doesn’t know how he would react.

“You freaked out,” Jonny says simply, “you told me you weren’t gay and that was that.” He notices Patrick staring. “You were okay with the fact that I was though, so.”

“God,” Patrick breathes out.

Jonny isn’t done talking apparently. “Then you went ahead and started dating Kyle.”

“Oh,” Patrick winces. Jonny nods.

It’s quiet in the room again. Patrick wishes he had something to distract him but Jonny is right in front of him, looking nervous, and he sighs deeply. He’s disappointed in himself.

“Maybe I just hit my head or something, y’know,” Patrick says, starting to rethink everything. “And I woke up the next morning with no memory of it and I’m actually thirty year old me.”

Jonny clears his throat and Patrick doesn’t miss the look on his face. “What?” he asks when he sees Jonny’s eyes dart to the floor.

“You didn’t hit your head, Kaner.”

“How are you so sure?”

“I was with you that night. I think I would've noticed,” Jonny replies matter-of-factly.

Patrick remembers something. “You said,” he pauses, “you said something happened between us that night.”

Jonny stuffs his head down, away from Patrick. “I kissed you,” he whispers, “the night before that first practice.”

Patrick’s eyes widen. His heart flutters and he stills, unsure of how to move and react to that.

Jonny’s voice sounds small and young when he says, “I thought you didn’t want to talk about it afterwards. During practice, you didn’t say anything and I thought –” His voice trails off as he looks Patrick in the eyes. “I thought you didn’t want to mention it in front of the guys but then you avoided me this morning until we were on the same line and after when I asked you out for lunch.”

“I broke up with Kyle,” Patrick explains. He does feel a twang of guilt in his chest for avoiding Jonny even if he didn’t know. “He figured there was something between us and at the time I didn’t know but clearly, I was wrong.”

Jonny’s staring at him now.

“I’m sorry,” Patrick says after another silence sets in, “I don’t know if the older me ever said that, but for everything, sorry.” He shrugs, helplessly.

Jonny chuckles, dryly. “It’s fine.”

Patrick becomes painfully aware of how close Jonny is now. They somehow migrated towards one another as they were talking, Patrick’s knee touching the side of Jonny’s thigh as they sit side by side. He looks up to see Jonny staring at exactly the same spot, blushing.

Patrick realizes that even though he’s not used to their appearances, Jonny must still be attracted to this older version of Patrick. He’s not turned off by the idea, more of the opposite really, and he thinks back to the Jonny he remembers.

He was baby faced, not this grown, well-built man that Patrick is staring at now. If this was his Jonny, he wouldn’t have ever thought about leaning in like he is now, of capturing Jonny’s lips in his own.

“Patrick,” Jonny breathes out when their lips are barely brushing.

“Hm,” Patrick says and he’s glad his older self has moves as he presses their mouths together in one quick movement.

Patrick kisses him softly at first, testing the feeling of it - the feeling of Jonny. His hand snakes around to the back of Jonny’s neck and finds a place there as Jonny lets out a soft, little sigh into the kiss. Jonny toys at the hem of Patrick’s shirt, his touch warm against Patrick’s waist.

The emotions Patrick’s feeling hit him all at once. It’s overwhelming and calming at the same time and somehow it all makes sense to him. He tilts his head to the left and the kiss gets more intense, with Jonny pushing into him a little more, almost like he has to. Patrick finds just the right amount of pressure to push back and he can’t get his mind off the fact that this is his Jonny, at no matter what age; Jonny is supposed to be his.

He pulls back and Jonny’s hand falls into his lap. He’s slow to lean away from Patrick and when he opens his eyes, Patrick can see the dazed look in them.

“I just screwed over my younger self, didn’t I?” Jonny says slowly and Patrick furrows his eyebrows. “Well, now you know I like you. Cat’s kinda out of the bag.”

Patrick laughs, “I’m sure you’ll appreciate it. And who knows, maybe I won’t have any memory of this when I get back.”

Jonny hums. “I hope you do. For our sake,” he says and the room falls silent.             

“We have a game tonight.”

“Yeah.”

“Do you have to go nap?” Patrick asks and watches Jonny pull out his phone to check the time.

Jonny nods. “You should too,” he says, voice stern.

“Yeah, yeah,” Patrick replies, waving his hands in dismissal. He gets up when Jonny does and follows him to the front door. He would invite Jonny to stay over to nap but he has to remember that he’s not Patrick’s. At least, not in his life and not yet.

Jonny’s cool in the future, Patrick cares to admit. He’s not used to looking at him in any way that’s more than friendly but he can picture himself getting back to his life and finding Jonny, fixing what they have before he can ruin it.

“See you later?” Jonny asks as he walks out the door, looking back at Patrick and smiling.

“See you, Jonny,” Patrick says and nods. He’s smiling as he closes the door.

Patrick walks down the hallway and looks around his empty apartment, before making his way to his bedroom. Taking Jonny’s advice, he takes off his pants and shirt and falls flat on his bed, letting himself nap before their game that night.

*

Patrick arrives to the United Center happy and relaxed. Sure, the nap helped a little, but Patrick can’t keep the smile off his face when he sees Jonny already at his stall. He’s leaning over to his left to talk to Duncs, another veteran on the team that Patrick befriends in the future, so he doesn’t notice Patrick right away.

Duncs is pretty cool. Patrick’s only spoken to him a couple of times but he can’t help admit he’s taken a liking to the guy in the short time he’s been here.

Jonny looks up just as Patrick is getting to his own locker. Patrick smiles when he sees it’s right near Jonny’s so he sits and drops his bag at his feet.

“Hey, Kaner,” Duncs chimes in, nodding at Patrick.

“Hey, man,” Patrick replies, “hey, Jonny.”

“Hey,” Jonny says, “you ready to go?”

His question should be harmless but Patrick is reminded again that this is his first technically NHL game. His nerves kick in just like they used to over the first couple of games he played with his team back in high school, but he suppresses them and plasters a grin on his face instead.

“Always.”

Jonny raises an eyebrow at him but he still has a smile on his face and lets the subject go. He hops into play talk and Patrick and Duncs listen in as more players show up.

By the time warmups come around, the locker room is buzzing and Patrick watches everyone line up. He gets into his normal spot, at the back and right before Jonny, and waits, tapping his stick on the floor to distract himself.

The crowd is insane, cheering before they even hit the ice and Patrick has to breathe hard a couple of times to calm down. He skates around the ice with the team, stickhandling a couple of pucks, and his nervousness slowly fades away. He hasn’t realized how much he’s missed playing hockey against another team in the past few days, and he looks up to where the Leafs are warming up on the opposite side.

He doesn’t recognize any faces or names so he turns back to his team and grabs a puck to shoot at the net. Crawford saves it and lets the puck fall easily out of his glove and Patrick grins. Man, is he excited.

They don’t do much before the actual start of the game. Jonny gathers them in the locker room to give a small speech and while he stands there, Patrick can’t help feeling proud. As they skate out onto the ice again, Jonny bumps each of them once and when he gets to Patrick, Patrick lifts his hand for a fist bump instead. Jonny smiles for a second, then goes back to his serious face, but bumps Patrick nonetheless.

Patrick works harder than he’s ever done before during the first period. Being on the first line means he’s on the ice a lot more so he takes the moments where he’s on the bench to cool off and get ready for his next shift.

It’s not that different. Sure, the NHL is nothing to kid about but Patrick has enough skill to skate circles around Toronto’s defense, passing to Jonny whenever he can and hoping a goal comes out of it. There’s only one goal that first period and Panarin is credited with it, scoring with a nice one timer that Patrick is wildly impressed by.

The second goes by with a goal from each team that Patrick has nothing to do with. He cheers on the bench along with his teammates and the crowd when they’re up 2-0, and groans when Toronto manages to get one past Crawford.

Q talks to them during the second intermission and Patrick promises himself that he won’t let them lose this game. It’s equally helpful and sad when he thinks about how this could be his only NHL game for a while.

“Kaner.”

Patrick hears his name getting called as soon as they hit the ice for the third. Jonny’s near the faceoff circle with Schmaltz right next to him and Patrick skates over. Jonny briefs them on a play, a simple one that they tried out in practice and worked, and Patrick grins as he gets into position, feeling excited.

Their first couple of shifts don’t result in a goal but Patrick would be lying if he said they weren’t close to one. He misses a shot on goal by an inch and skates around the net to retrieve the puck before passing to Jonny. Jonny shoots and it’s gloved in an easy save and Patrick has to sigh, skating towards the bench for another line change.

He gets his goal ten minutes into the third period, off of a beautiful pass from Schmaltz to Jonny and a small tip towards Patrick. The puck connects with Patrick’s stick almost instinctively and a moment later, it’s in the back of the net.

The horn blares out and it’s followed by the loud goal song, but Patrick can still hear it when Jonny hugs him and yells, “Fucking right, Kaner!”

He gets squashed by Schmaltz a second later, who also cheers loudly in his ear. Patrick grins and pulls out of the huddle to skate alongside the bench, fistbumping the team.

It’s not his first NHL goal, not technically and not according to his career stats, but it feels even more important to Patrick.

He feels happy for the rest of the game. No one else scores so the Blackhawks come out with a nice win, cheers and whoops flying as they walk down the hall and into the locker room.

Jonny’s smiling when Patrick finally spots him in the crowd of people. He’s got Seabs on his left and they both laugh, eyes happy, and for a second, Patrick wishes he could have this all the time. When Jonny looks up, his eyes lock with Patrick’s and he throws him a grin. Patrick sits down happily, letting others congratulate him on the goal, before stripping off his jersey.

*

“It was so fuckin’ awesome, man. And that goal at the end.” Patrick whistles while climbing into Jonny’s car.

Jonny’s right behind him and he walks to the driver’s side before getting inside as well. He offered to take Patrick home and Patrick really could not turn that down, not now.

“I know,” Jonny says for the third time that night while Patrick talks excitedly about the game. Jonny doesn’t sound annoyed though, instead, he has a glint in his eyes, almost admiring the way Patrick beams with happiness. “Patrick, you’re good.

Patrick grins.

“I’m just so excited for this and to be here as me, you know,” Patrick says and Jonny’s face contorts a little. “It feels surreal.”

“It is.” Jonny’s statement rings true. This is all temporary and Patrick could wake up as himself again at any moment.

Jonny’s got a sad look in his eyes as he pulls out of his parking spot and starts driving out of the arena’s lot and Patrick wonders if Jonny is realizing the same thing. He can’t vouch for his older self and promise Jonny that they would still be together if it wasn’t for the switch, so he stays silent as they drive off.

They get to Patrick’s a little after 11 o’clock. Jonny doesn’t turn to look at Patrick, both of them sitting in thought. Before it can pass the edge of awkward, Patrick speaks up.

“Do you want to come in?”

Jonny finally looks his way. “No,” he says, shaking his head.

Patrick gets it. He’s not this Jonny’s Patrick and he can’t come between what those two had. Despite him considering his two selves as one now, it still wouldn’t be right. Patrick misses home.

“I’ll see you tomorrow?” Jonny asks when Patrick reaches to unbuckle his seatbelt. His tone is unsure and Patrick is hesitant to answer.

“Yeah,” Patrick decides. Even if he doesn’t make it to tomorrow, it won’t matter anymore. His run in this universe was good, refreshing.

Jonny considers Patrick’s face for a second before leaning in slowly, as if waiting for Patrick to push him away. He doesn’t, and instead, Patrick moves an inch forwards to let their lips press softly against one another. It’s short and sweet, Jonny tasting clean after the shower he just took, and Patrick smiles as he pulls away.

“Bye, Pat.”

“Bye, Jonny,” Patrick says once he’s out of the car, and he watches Jonny, the older, stronger version, drive off in his sleek black car. He wonders how long it’ll be until he sees that image again.

Patrick climbs up to his floor and unlocks the door. The apartment is still, no noise from the outside at this time at night, and Patrick gets ready for bed. He’s left with a weird feeling in his stomach, satisfied and happy, as he lays down and lets sleep overtake him.

*

Patrick wakes up in a panic, sitting up in his bed and throwing the sheets off of his body. They fall in a heap on the floor next to his schoolbag, which has books spilling out of it. Patrick squints and his math textbook catches his eye, causing him to practically jump out of bed to scan the room.

It’s all the same, how Patrick left it all those days ago when he was still thirteen. It seems like forever but his walls are back to their normal colour and his desk is still disarranged in a scatter of school stuff. There’s even the water bottle that Patrick threw when he was angry with Jonny, lying on the floor across the room.

Still, Patrick can’t help but feel upset.

He knew the change was coming soon but he wishes it wasn’t right after he and Jonny made up and Jonny confessed all those things to him. Patrick finally learnt how Jonny’s felt about him for all these years and it’s frustrating to get sent back to another universe where he has to deal with it a second time. He remembers Jonny kissing him, holding him, and it’s enough to have him pacing around his room, antsy.

Patrick thinks hard for a good minute, trying to decide how to fix this before it spirals into something worse. He stops when the idea hits him and he rushes out of his room quietly, not sure who’s awake. It’s probably really late but Patrick has to do this; and besides, it’s not that stupid.

*

“Do you love me?”

“Patrick, what the hell are you doing?” Jonny’s eyes widen from his spot at the window. His Jonny, a voice whispers in Patrick’s mind. “Are you insane?”

Patrick’s sort of glad this ladder was too short to reach Jonny; he would have probably pushed Patrick down for being such an idiot. But, Patrick has to know for sure. “Do you?”

Jonny sighs and runs a hand over his face. “Can you just,” he huffs, pausing mid-sentence, “I’ll open the front door for you, just get down.”

It takes longer than it should for Jonny to open the door while Patrick takes down the ladder he found on the side of the house. When Jonny finally swings the door open, he pulls Patrick in by his shirt quickly and then holds up a finger to his lips to tell Patrick to be quiet.

Patrick doesn’t even know what time it is, having run over here as soon as he switched back, but Jonny’s house is quiet so he assumes everyone must be sleeping. He follows Jonny to his bedroom and goes to sit on the bed while Jonny shuts the door softly.

“What were you trying to do there?” Jonny half-whispers. His eyebrow is raised and he’s staring at Patrick, who sits tall, determined.

“Earlier tonight,” he starts, even though it feels like a week ago now. “You were hoping that it was just us, right? That’s why we got in that stupid argument?”

Jonny’s eyes widen. “What?” His eyes unsettle from Patrick and begin flickering around the room. “Where did you get that from?”

“Uh,” Patrick mutters, unsure how to explain it all. “A hunch?”

“A hunch?” Jonny repeats. “You came all the way over here in the middle of the night over a hunch?” His voice starts to raise as he speaks but he ends almost whispering, worried to wake up anyone in the house.

Patrick straightens himself up. “Well, am I wrong?”

Jonny doesn’t say anything. Patrick can hear him breathing loudly in the quietness of the room.

“I’m angry at you,” Jonny says after a second. His face is pinched but Patrick hears through the tough tone of his voice.

“I’m sorry,” Patrick says before Jonny can continue. “I was an ass.”

He tries for honesty and a small smile, feeling relief when Jonny visibly deflates, the lines around his eyes fading into soft, smooth skin. Then, Patrick is not prepared for Jonny walking swiftly across the room to where he is, stopping right in front of the bed. It’s a bit awkward with Patrick sitting, so he gets up to face Jonny. He’s forgotten that they used to be nearly the same height, becoming used to looking up to Jonny in the last week, but now he’s back to normal, staring right at Jonny. It’s nice.

“I’ve realized a couple of things,” Patrick explains.

Jonny raises an eyebrow. “Like?” He places a hand on his hip, waiting.

“Like,” Patrick emphasizes the word, “I was stupid to invite those guys tonight.”

“Mm.” Jonny doesn’t sound angry, just slightly amused, but his eyes still look unsure, like he doesn’t know what Patrick is going to say next.

“We’re good together, you and me, and at first I couldn’t see that but now I can,” Patrick says softly.

A moment passes before Jonny asks, “What are you saying?”

Patrick rolls his eyes. “I’m saying, Jonny, that I like you and hopefully you like me back or I just embarrassed myself a fuck load tonight.”

It’s the first time he’s uncertain and when Jonny looks a little shocked at his reply, Patrick worries that he might have it all wrong. Future Jonny told him that he liked Patrick from all those years ago but standing here, Jonny just stares at him, quiet. Patrick’s chest clenches. His eyes cast downwards to both their feet, and he breathes hard.

He hears Jonny breathe out as well, letting Patrick’s name slip past his lips in the process in a soft, broken, “Patrick.”

Patrick looks up and Jonny finally has an emotion lying on his face. Shock and happiness, and Patrick doesn’t really know what else, but he has no time to figure it out because Jonny leans forward quickly, pressing his mouth to Patrick’s.

It’s different than when he kissed the other Jonny and it’s a whole lot better. Patrick feels it throughout his whole body when Jonny’s hand finds a spot right on his waist, a small gentle touch.

Patrick has seen the future with Jonny, and it’s a hell of a lot better with him than without. So, he lets Jonny kiss him, slowly and softly, almost too afraid to push further than he thinks Patrick would let him.

Patrick does what he knows best and pushes against Jonny’s mouth, almost as a challenge. It wakes something up in Jonny because he opens up his mouth more, licks into Patrick’s, holds onto him tighter.

It’s passionate and full of making up for missed opportunities, and Patrick has to pull back after a while. He knows the room right next to Jonny’s probably has Jonny’s brother, David, sleeping in it right now.

“Wow,” Patrick breathes out. He’s not far from Jonny, their bodies are still close together and he’s aware of the growing hardness between his legs. It’s not surprising. “That was, good, Jonny, very good.”

Jonny chuckles. “Thanks,” he says, jokingly rolling his eyes in exaggeration. “I like you too, by the way,” he adds as an afterthought.

“You better after that kiss. That was some of my best work.”

“Meh,” Jonny shrugs. Patrick feigns being offended. “Shut up, you know you were good.”

“I was, wasn’t I?” Patrick grins and receives a slap on the arm from Jonny.

He rubs at the spot jokingly before hopping onto Jonny’s bed. “C’mon, Jonny, I’m exhausted.”

“You were the one who climbed up to my window at two in the morning to tell me you liked me,” Jonny says and raises an eyebrow, mockingly.

Patrick laughs. “You gotta admit, it was romantic.”

“Mm,” Jonny hums, “maybe next time, add a boombox and a heartfelt poem about me.”

“Done,” Patrick says and clears his throat. “Roses are red, violets are blue. You’ve got a nice face, and your ass is hu—”

“We get it,” Jonny exclaims, fitting a hand over Patrick’s mouth. Patrick squints his eyes and prepares himself before— “Don’t lick my hand, asshole.” Jonny stares at him pointedly.

Just because he can, Patrick does. Jonny yanks his hand away quickly and wipes it on his jeans, before punching Patrick in the arm. He’s still standing near the bed where Patrick sits so Patrick motions for him to get in.

Jonny stares at him weirdly as Patrick lies down.

“What?” Patrick asks.

“You’re on my side,” Jonny points out.

Patrick is on the right side and he grins, remembering Kyle, and flops over to the left. “Happy?”

“Very,” Jonny smiles and moves towards the bed, lying down right next to Patrick. His arm snakes around Patrick’s waist and his lips brush over the nape of his neck. It feels right; they’re both going to have some explaining to do in the morning when Jonny’s family wakes up but Patrick can’t seem to care right now. He’s focused on their bodies, aligned in the small space on Jonny’s bed, and knows that this is how it’s going to be for a long, long time.

*

When Patrick goes first overall, Jonny is right there with him, clapping happily among the crowd of people. They go to camp together, proving themselves and eventually doing the same thing for the thousands of Blackhawks fans in the crowd at their first NHL game.

Patrick watches Jonny get his first NHL goal and cheers right with him in disbelief. It’s not long before he gets his own, his first official one, and he cellies so hard he almost sees stars. It’s euphoric the feeling, the team and crowd happy and loud in his ears, Jonny bounding towards him on the ice, smiling from ear to ear.

He gets off on the feeling; he’s eighteen and in the National Hockey League, playing alongside his best friend and boyfriend, and proving to everyone that he can make it. He can get there.

*

When Patrick lifts the first cup over his head, he spots Jonny down the ice, being congratulated by a cluster of people, and he can’t help but smile brightly at him and at the crowd, who chants wildly for him.

The celebration later in the locker room, and later at night, and alone with Jonny: they make all his hard work so worth it.

It’s the same for the next two. Patrick watches the third cup being lifted over Jonny’s head in 2015, his face ecstatic, red jersey bright against the stark white of the ice. He can hear Jonny’s cheers fade up into the crowd as he skates away.


He hadn’t remembered this moment, his little adventure at thirteen pushed to the back of his mind as he focused on hockey and Jonny for the last fifteen years. But when Jonny gets close enough to him, Patrick practically throws himself in his arms. His body feels on fire and when he yells, “You’re a fucking beauty man. I love you,” into Jonny’s ear, Jonny just holds onto Patrick’s jersey tighter. Patrick hopes he never lets go.