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waste the hours

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The first time they meet, Jack dislikes Kent, sure - but in a general way. At that age he kind of dislikes everyone. Kent makes it easy.

He's taller than Jack, for one... loud... plus everyone else already likes him. And sheepherders (as Jack thinks of them in his head) can always suss out the outsider in a group. Or the quietest. It's Jack, either way.

So they all get introduced in a general lineup, coaches talking over their heads. Parson's already paired off with Leclerc, chattering happily in terrible French. Basically more of the same, Jack concludes. Leclerc has problems with Jack because he's bad at passing, Horowitz has problems with Jack because he's bad at aiming, everyone has problems with him--

Kent passes the puck to him.

Jack stops short. Looks up carefully.

'What,' says Kent, grinning, skating slow circles around him, 'you never seen a puck before?'

 


 

Kent's still a nightmare on the ice. And he doesn't even bother gloating about it anymore.

'Well, the NHL's so small, y'know,' he says, after the Aces win and he has to face the inevitable barrage of Zimmerman-Parson questions, 'everyone knows someone from somewhere.'

'Kind of like a big family, eh?' says the new TSN correspondent. She has, Jack thinks, very long lashes.

Kent raises his eyebrows, laughs. 'Certainly a big something,' he demurs.

 


 

When they're 15 - well, when Jack's 15, and Kent a few months from it - they split an entire tub of Foster's strawberry ice cream between themselves and eat it, melting and messy, after dinner.

Jack has a feather-sensitive stomach, spends half the night in the toilet. Kent rolls his eyes and wipes Jack's forehead and upchucks right on the ice the next morning.

'You didn't have to buy it, is all I'm saying,' mumbles Kent, in the car. Taking it out on Jack, as usual.

'Ok,' Jack whispers, 'so next time you're whining about missing your family, I'll just tell you to shut up, eh?'

'Yea, you do that,' Kent says airily, blinking hard and fast out the window. Jack undoes his seatbelt so he can stretch out his arms (and maybe elbow Kent in the face a few times). He wakes up to find that they're nearly home - his home - and Kent's fallen asleep on his shoulder.

Kent, he thinks, staring, falls asleep very easily.

 


 

He used to think Kent did everything easily.

 


 

The way he would come, for example, precisely when Jack told him to. It was first and foremost a matter of timing. They couldn't be in this stall forever, obviously, so hurry up and come, already.

'Obedient, huh,' Jack chirps, after he gets over the, the--surprise. Kent goes mottled red and furious and slams out of there with his flies still undone. Not only does he not return the favour, he also doesn't talk to Jack for a week. A week!

'If you're done being a princess about this,' he says heavily, after six-and-a-half days' worth of snubs.

Kent tries to punch him and totally misses. 'Shut up!' he says.

Jack catches him in a headlock and laughs, completely relieved. Kent stops trying to scratch his eyes out after only a little bit, and just starts pouting instead.

'You're a real jerk, you know that?' he huffs.

'Yea, yea,' says Jack, staring down Leclerc until he finds something better to do than stare at them.

 


 

Juniors is a real funny time, Kent says once, just another talking head on-screen. You think it'll last forever. Really it's not that long at all.