"No, I’m still working on it," Ryan sighs at Connor’s questioning, clicking away from his PowerPoint presentation, or whatever the fuck Apple calls them. "I’ll be down in 10 ish."
"The chicken is gonna get cold," Connor says, shaking his head in disappointment. "What can be that important, anyway?"
"It’s a project I’m working on," Ryan allows, saving the presentation—he always, always remembers, especially after that one history incident freshman year—and closing the computer. "Just something I’m interested in."
"Writing a blog?" Connor asks, following him down the stairs as Ryan trails a hand down the railing just in case. "Complaining on a random Tumblr account using obscure terminology and vague phrasing?"
"Big words for a guy who skimped out on Michigan," Darnell says from the dining room, and Ryan lets out a tiny smile.
"It’s...something like that, Davo."
Best case scenario, he works on it after dinner, shows Connor next Wednesday (Ryan doesn’t dare say the holiday’s name), and charms him half to death. Worst case scenario, he doesn’t finish it in time and never confesses his feelings and dies alone.
It’ll be fine. Hopefully.
* * *
Ryan immediately flips open his computer, still bouncing on the mattress in the empty bedroom of the house Nursey and Connor share. His PowerPoint—okay, it’s called Keynote, whatever—is saved and ready to face another round of editing and adding.
"This photo," Ryan murmurs as he scrolls down the Oilers Instagram. He drags it to the presentation, proud that he actually looks good. It’s probably the fact that he’s surrounded by cute dogs, but hey, anything helps. He’s got a nice smile, too.
He has a dorky smile, I have a cute one, Ryan decides in his head, opening the folder stealthily labeled "CCM" on his home screen.
Maybe he could put a slide of just smiles, since theirs go so well together. They’re both unique, adorable (Ryan at least hopes his is), and a little mismatched. It’d be perfect for—
"Nuge!" Darnell is standing in his doorway and looking expectant.
"What?" Ryan still has a photo of Connor and his dumb-cute, massive smile filling up his screen, so it’s a little hard to concentrate right now. Sorry, not sorry.
"Do you want dessert?" He repeats slower. Ryan glances down to his screen again, a little desperately.
"It’s Davo’s fancy, stupid—I mean, special and healthy ice cream," Darnell says with an eye roll, and Connor makes a protesting noise from down the hallway. "It’s stupid expensive!" He yells as Ryan stares at Connor’s teeth a little too intently.
"Whatever you say, man, just not too late," Darnell sighs, yelling something back at Connor. "He’s being a brat about his diet again." He pauses. "Whatcha looking at?"
"Just some project," Ryan says, hopefully calmly enough that it’s not questioned. Judging by Darnell’s raised eyebrows, he failed, but like the temporary blessing he is, Darnell just steps out.
"Close the door!" Ryan calls after him, but Darnell is already gone.
* * *
The Keynote presentation is completely cheesy and kind of ridiculous, but Ryan loves it. His title slide could be a land joke on the front of a Valentine’s Day card, no doubt.
"'You fill my heart with joy when you fill the net with goals'," Ryan reads aloud off of slide 4. "'The next time you score on the ice, you can come home and score with me, too.'"
Ryan bites his lip as his cheeks flame, embarrassed even in the solitude of his own (technically his, until he gets back on the ice) bedroom. Some of them are almost painful cheesy. If Connor was lactose intolerant, he might just die.
Maybe a fancy box of dark chocolates and a heart-shaped balloon would go over better.
Ryan looks back to his list of slides and scrolls down them, frowning in determination as he studies all his hard work, formulated through educated research and the power of inference. He can’t give up yet.
* * *
The boys win a totally unexpected game when they host the Lightning—hashtag, how many hatty’s does your 21 year-old Captain have?—and Connor can’t stop talking the second Ryan gets in his car, as if Ryan could have missed anything from the press box.
A fucking hat-trick—and more. Goddamn.
"—the last goal didn’t really mean anything though," Connor is saying as he drives, presumably to a bar to celebrate his fucking fantastic night. Ryan is still star-struck, to be honest. He’ll definitely include tonight in his slideshow. "But it was kinda good, I think, that we boosted the team’s plus-minus by 4–"
"Don’t get too excited without me," Ryan says, obviously joking, but Connor looks confused.
"I wish you were back, for one," Connor defends, glancing over at Ryan as Ryan merely sighs. "I can’t speak for all the guys, even though they all love you and your mysteriousness—but all of Oilers Nation misses you too, don’t think we don’t, I—"
"Con," Ryan says amusedly. "I was joking."
Connor is definitely embarrassed. "Oh."
"Keep telling me about the hatty," Ryan prompts instead of letting Connor suffer any longer. "And I’m not the press, obviously, so you can say whatever you want. Obviously."
"We played hard and solid against a difficult team, I’m proud of the unified group effort—" Connor giggles as Ryan punches his shoulder, watching Connor from the corner of his eye. "Fine, fine, okay, so—"
Ryan watches Connor’s mouth move as his eyes dart back and forth across the busy road, scanning for pedestrians and idiotic drivers alike. He licks his lips every other sentence, like they can never really get wet. He hardly hears Connor’s words, only the sounds and tones of a familiar, easy-going Connor-voice that he’s grown used to, despite how rare it can be.
Ryan’s just a little bit screwed.
* * *
Ryan inserts a video into his slideshow, one that someone else made that combines Connor’s four goals in under 30 seconds. It’s probably the best thing on the presentation, if Ryan is being honest.
At least Connor’s won’t be here to see him pace around the house at all hours of the day—sometimes night, too—thinking of good ideas.
The Internet has proved useless—light some candles, scatter rose petals, write sweet things on sticky notes around the house, write a poem, Snapchat them a cute Bitmoji thing, buy heart-shaped chocolates and red balloons, invite them to a not-date at a park, have a romantic movie night—
Absolutely useless, he says. No good ideas at all.
* * *
Ryan conveniently forgot that not only is he going on a road trip, the only time Connor will be in town even close to Wednesday is the 12th. Not counting the fact that Darnell lives in the same house as Connor, and Ryan is not in love with Nursey. He’s a good guy, just not—Davo. He has no idea how he’ll get the project through to Connor.
"'You’ve got the key to my Hart'," Ryan mumbles, inserting a photo of Connor in front of his three most recent trophies. He takes a moment to reflect on Connor in his high standard of clothing, wishing he was in a slightly greater state of undress. Not with the trophies though, just—never mind.
Ryan needs a distraction.
"'I may be fastest on the ice, but I can take it slow in the bed.'" Ryan blushes as he backspaces on that, the image not leaving his head. Great distraction. "Fuck."
"You doing okay?"
"No, um—what?" Ryan blurts out, barely having time to click the save button before Connor’s taking a step into his room. Connor raises an eyebrow as Ryan gently closes his laptop, sets it to the side, and affects a look of drowsiness. "I’m doing fine. Might take more pain meds after my nap."
"Are you sure you’re okay?"
"Oh yeah, just some—" Ryan jabs his thumb at the computer. "Technical difficulties. Got it covered." Connor stares for a few seconds, trying to get him to break, but Ryan just stares right back, only breaking their gaze to fake-yawn in his face.
"See you Monday?" Connor asks instead, reaching out for a fist-bump.
"Score me some goals," Ryan smiles, bumping it gently. "See you Monday."
"More goals?" Connor clutches his chest in surprise, and Ryan laughs as he stumbles back. Dramatic Davo isn’t very common these days, either. "How could I ever?"
"Catch your flight," Ryan says instead of You’re kind of adorable and I really wanna kiss you. Connor rocks on his heels, looking like he’s about to speak. "Go." I wish you would stay with me.
"Bye Nuge!" Darnell calls from the hallway, and Connor gives Ryan a soft smile before disappearing, the door clicking shut behind him. Ryan can’t help but smile bigger. Connor knows just what Ryan likes.
Fuck, he needs to get this over with.
* * *
R: nice goal
C: the game sucked tho :<
R: not entirely no
R: talk about smthn else ok?
C: ok uhhhhh
C: what r u doing for v day?
C: u should FT us @ dinner XD XD
R: how romantic
R: might as well mail me a card and flowers eh?
C: I just might :)
R: what lol
C: jk hahaha theyd rot anyway
C: gtg ttyl?
Ryan sets down his phone on the kitchen table and wonders how the fuck he fell in love with such a dork. He wonders it every day.
* * *
There’s something frustrating about the Keynote, Ryan realizes just after he gets off the phone with Connor, who needed to rant a bit to get himself to sleep. It’s just not—him. It’s not either of them, really, minus the fact that it’s totally the cheesiest, dorkiest, most clichè thing that Ryan’s ever seen, never mind created.
He loves it anyway.
* * *
"Honey, I’m home!" Darnell yells the second the door bursts open, and the sound of bags dropping on the floor echoes. Ryan rolls his eyes from the couch and doesn’t respond.
"Shut up, he’s trying to work," Ryan hears Connor say in a low voice, and Darnell laughs.
"He can work later. Right Nuge?"
"Mm." There’s some clattering around, and Darnell shouts about the milk having gone bad. Ryan winces and slowly looks up from his computer. That was the list he needed to do...
"I’ll be home later, I’m doing some shopping," Darnell sighs, swinging the keys around his finger and walking out. Ryan makes his way into the kitchen after he waves goodbye, computer open in his hands as Connor searches through the cupboards for something.
"Need any help?" Ryan asks, and Connor jumps and drops the plate in his hands.
"Shit, sorry, oh my god," Connor babbles, not knowing what to do with his hands as Ryan sets his laptop on the counter—facing the wall, of course—and roots around for a cloth to clean up the porcelain.
"It’s fine," Ryan repeats, after Connor’s apologized for the fourth time in 11 seconds.
"I really am though, I shouldn’t be making you clean up with your injury and—"
"I can pick up a broken plate," Ryan interrupts, shaking his head to himself at Connor’s concern. "Right now, I’m more worried about you."
Connor doesn’t even bother to ask why, and as Ryan tosses the shards in the trash, he looks back to see Connor staring at his computer with a look of utter shock. Oh.
"Forget that," Ryan says as calmly as he knows how (his voice shakes a bit, so he’s not entirely saved), trying to cover his embarrassment as he closes his laptop and tucks it under his arm. Connor looks like he wants to speak, but isn’t sure if he wants to hear the words in the open air. Ryan knows that feeling.
"You can get the little bits." He gestures to the floor as he hastily makes his way out, but Connor latches a hand onto his forearm.
"Ryan, can I—"
"No—Ryan." Ryan exhales through his nose as he glances back at Connor’s guilty, maybe even hopeful expression.
"You don’t have to use some hockey pick-up line to be like, cute," Connor blurts out after a pause, flushing pink and looking everywhere but Ryan’s face.
"I—what?" Ryan asks, trying to coax more information out of Connor.
"I mean..." Connor looks troubled. "I already like you, so." He shrugs, as if Ryan’s life hasn’t been so drastically flipped onto its side. "I dunno if that’s what you were going for, but I just thought you should—"
"Thank god," Ryan mumbles to himself. Connor hears it regardless and slowly smiles, wider and wider, until it’s that huge, ridiculous thing that Ryan has as a central image on one of his slides.
"Happy Valentine’s Day?" Connor says, gripping one hand in the other, still a bit nervous as his voice wobbles. Ryan just smiles softly at him and steps closer.
"Happy Valentine’s Day, Davo."
Connor still somehow looks unsure, as if he missed the memo—all the fucking memos—that Ryan’s kind of into him, so Ryan takes the initiative and sets a hand on the side of Connor’s neck.
"'We may not be at the Olympics, but with you, I’ve won the gold'," Ryan quotes, and Connor laughs brightly before leaning into the kiss.
It’s a bit off-center, with Connor beaming and Ryan holding a computer under one arm, but they get situated when Connor’s hands come up to cup Ryan’s face—his weakness. Ryan huffs and nips at Connor’s lip, but he only giggles and bites back.
"Stop smiling," Ryan says when he pulls back, yet unable to tame one of his own. Connor only kisses him again, harder and more forceful, as if he wants to prove he can kiss well no matter what his mouth is doing.
He can. Ryan has verified it.
In their kitchen, standing near the fridge by the wall, Ryan has a not-so-dramatic revelation: at least he didn’t have to present his masterpiece to get his boy.
"Stop staring," Connor returns, giddy and red-cheeked, but Ryan can’t stop. That giggly, sweet, red-cheeked, bright-eyed hockey boy is his.
Happy Fucking Valentine’s Day, Edmonton.