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Let's Come Closer

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It starts like every game. The puck drops at center ice. Nursey and Dex give Chris a quick nod from their starting positions, reminding him that they’ve got his back. The first period goes quickly. There’s a few shift changes.

The other guys are good, great even. But it’s nothing like the feeling he gets when he plays with Nursey and Dex. They’re his boys, in more ways than one.

Chirping really picks up during the second period. Chris can’t always hear it because the players aren’t always nearby. Most people like to keep their chirping clean in front of the refs, or else keep their voices low. This team, however, is doing neither.

They’re loud and callous. Their chirps start small, but they get harsh and scathing quick. Chris watches Nursey seethe and Dex barely restrain his temper. They’re focusing on the puck and the game more than the shit being spewed at them. They nudge each other subtly, like a gentle reminder that the other person is there.

It makes Chris grin momentarily behind his mask. But just as soon as it’s there, it’s gone. Game time means getting gritty and staying focused. There’s no room for softness during a game.

Five minutes into the third period, Samwell’s up by one. Which means their opposition is bitter and enraged.

Chris hears one of them tell Dex something. He blinks, thinking his hearing is busted. He mulls over the words a second time, and a third. He thinks his ears might be playing tricks on him.

But the forward says it again clear as day.

Don’t you need a dick to be out here, tranny?

Time slows eerily still.

To be fair Nursey has a dangerous gleam in his eye. But he backs up as Dex skates forward, dropping his gloves. The refs try to get to him and the guy before they start fighting, but Nursey blocks one of them and Whiskey blocks another. Bitty and Tango keep the other two distracted.

So there’s nothing keeping Dex from breaking the guy’s nose in two. The guy gets a punch in, but Dex swings harder. He knees the guy hard in the groin. The guy falls to the ground.

“How’s your dick working now?” Dex chirps.

Dex gets put in the box for five minutes. Hall and Murray don’t let him play for the rest of the game. Chris is almost relieved.

Until they’re walking out of the locker rooms later, and three of the guys from the other team are waiting for them.

The guy Dex beat up is leaning heavily against the wall, his ego almost as bruised as his eye. Chris notices the way the guy looks at him and Nursey holding hands with mild disgust. Dex doesn’t let the guy get a word in before he’s in his face.

“You back for more? You think your precious dick can handle it?” Dex says as he cracks his knuckles.

Normally, Chris would let Dex have this guy. He’s clearly a racist, homophobic, transphobe who deserves to have his ego knocked down a few pegs.

But they’re not in Boston right now. They’re in rural New York where the cops are white and probably just as “helpful” as these guys. He doesn’t want to start a fight they can’t win, even with the coaches in the other room.

Chris lets go of Derek, walking forward. He puts a hand on Dex’s shoulder. Dex snaps his necks tensley, looking at Chris for a moment before taking a deep breath. The four of them have been dating long enough that they know how to communicate with just expressions and gestures.Dex can see Chris wants him to back off just as much as he can see Dex trusts him to handle this.

Chris gets in the guy’s face, holding up a hand to his friend who’s trying to step closer.

“You’re going to walk away,” Chris says with a steely voice. “You’re gonna go back to your mediocre life of getting a C average on every test until you graduate with a second rate business degree. You’re gonna go home to someone, who you don’t deserve, and you’re gonna keep taking them for granted. You’re gonna spend the rest of your life sad and miserable because you push away anyone who could make you a better person.”

The guy swallows.

“You’re a piece of shit,” Chris says. “Get over yourself.”

The guy blinks at Chris, stunned. Chris pulls Dex and Nursey in the direction of the bus. He tells Murray and Hall about the players from the other team when they file into the bus. They nod, assuring him that they’ll file a complaint.

Chris collapses against the second to last window seat on the left side, just like every game. He usually lets Nursey and Dex figure out who’s sitting where. But tonight, he has other plans.

“Dex, c’mon,” he groans as he pulls his hoodie over his head.

He faintly hears the sound of Nursey grumbling, “dibs on Farmer cuddles.”

Chris smiles to himself.

He feels a head fall gently against his shoulder. He wraps an arm around Dex’s shoulders. They don’t say anything for a while. Nursey sits in the row in from of them, popping his headphones in and turning on an episode of The Mindy Project . The back three rows are quiet for most of the ride.

“Hey,” Dex says at some point.

Chris pulls off his hood, eyeing Dex who’s tracing patterns into both their pants.

“Yea?”

“Thanks,” Dex says.

“For what?”

“Stopping me from doing something shitty,” he says. “For standing up for us and being smart about it.”

“You didn’t fuck up,” Chris insists, inferring what Dex is really saying. “That guy was an asshole.”

“Yea,” Dex agrees.

“Did he say anything about Nursey?”

“Nothing that I let him hear.”

“Good,” Chris says tersely.

They settle into a quiet lull again. Chris thinks that for as much as they take care of each other, lift each other up when they’re down, he doesn’t know if Dex realizes that it’s not on him to be their bodyguard.

“How do you feel?” Chris asks.

“Why?”

“He said shit about you too, do you feel safe?”

Dex blushes. He shrugs, and nuzzles further into the crook of Chris’ neck.

“You don’t have to talk about, I just thought—”

“I’m ok,” Dex says quietly. “We’re out of there. I’m with you.”

“You sure?”

“Yea,” Dex assures him. “Thanks. I love you.”

“No problem, babe,” Chris says softly. “I love you too.”   

Dex is a lot of things. He’s passionate, short tempered, and sometimes short sighted. But at the end of the day, he’s a man who just wants to keep the people he loves safe and happy.

Chris kisses Dex’s temple as he drifts off to sleep. He’s ok with life getting harder. He has three partners he wouldn’t trade for the world.

They can make it through anything. Together.