The guy at the bar is vaguely familiar, in a ridiculously hot kind of way, and normally Patrick wouldn’t put himself through the rejection without a significantly higher BAC. But Sharpy seems to think the best way to show his support since Patrick came out is to make fun of him for not being able to pull with either women or men – and has somehow roped the rest of the team into his general horrible-ness – so Patrick finds himself sidling up to the bar, trying to ignore the fact that half of his teammates are being completely unsubtle about watching him from their table in the far corner. At least they’re far enough away that they’re mostly blocked by the crowds. Small favors.
Patrick doesn’t really have a plan, just leans against the bar – not quite in the guy’s space, but not quite out of it, either – and tries to get the bartender’s attention. He’s bopping a little to the music, sort of half singing along while he waits, wonders if he can accidentally bump into the guy, or if that would be too obvious. Turns out, he doesn’t have to worry about it.
“You like this music?” the question is almost monotone, but still manages to be incredibly judgmental.
“Excuse me?” Patrick turns to face the guy fully, and almost swallows his tongue. What he hadn’t realized from across the room in a buzzed haze of ‘wow, he’s hot’ is that this guy is Jonathan Toews, Out’s hottest model three years running. Patrick is going to kill Sharpy.
“It’s pretty crass.”
Patrick swallows back the instinctive So’s your face, says, “Don’t yuck my yum,” instead, and instantly wishes he hadn’t. Sounding like a teenaged boy somehow seems less embarrassing than sounding like a teenaged girl.
One elegant eyebrow goes up, and Patrick goes from wanting to facepalm to wanting to punch the guy in the space of half a second. “I have sisters,” he says defensively, “but I stand by it. If you don’t like it here, leave. I’m sure there are plenty of other places that would be happy to let you do your little turn on the catwalk.” He walks his fingers in midair to emphasize his point.
Both eyebrows go up this time.
Patrick rolls his eyes and turns back to the bar.
Toews leans down next to Patrick, bumping him lightly from shoulder to elbow as he settles against the bar. “He’s too busy chatting up that girl to notice anyone else,” he says when Patrick turns to glare, nodding at the bartender like Patrick doesn’t know who he’s talking about.
Patrick turns automatically, and swings back, shrugs. “She’s hot.”
Toews sniffs. “Not really my type,” he points out, then adds, “and he’s working.”
“He’s hot, too,” Patrick says, glancing at the bartender again like he needs the confirmation. Toews huffs a little, and Patrick looks back at him. “You saying you wouldn’t be interested?”
“He’s still working,” Toews says. “And he’s not quite my type either.”
“Tall, dark, and handsome isn’t your type?” Patrick’s fairly sure tall, dark, and handsome is everyone’s type, even when it’s not.
Toews huffs again. “Too tall,” he says. “And I prefer blonds.”
Patrick barely manages not to snort. “A gentleman,” he says, and has to swallow hard when Toews’s mouth quirks up in a lopsided grin.
“I was raised right,” Toews agrees, then quickly holds out his hand, like just saying it reminded him of his manners or something. “Call me Jonny,” he says.
“Patrick,” Patrick tells him, takes his hand, and tries not to shiver at the contact.
“Pleasure to meet you.”
Patrick smirks at him, and Toews – Jonny – winces slightly, looking abruptly awkward like the response had been automatic and he’d only just realized how it sounded.
“So, do you like any decent music?” Jonny asks.
It’s clearly a bid for a subject change, but Patrick – very maturely, he thinks – allows it. And it’s not like he can let that slide, anyway. “You mean besides what we’re listening to now?”
Jonny makes a face. “I was thinking more along the lines of something that doesn’t encourage behavior you should be arrested for. Or at least slapped.”
That startles a laugh out of Patrick, and a pleased smile spreads across Jonny’s face in response.
“You should laugh more,” he says, and it sounds completely genuine, matching his smile, and a little at odds with everything else around them.
“Well, you should smile more,” Patrick retorts, feeling a little off-balance.
The smile in question widens, just a bit. “Yeah?”
“Will you give me your number?” Patrick asks impulsively, somehow manages not to rush it. He hates this part, it somehow never stops feeling awkward. He usually waits until it’s time to go – or before he leaves in the morning, if things get that far, but. His gut is telling him not to leave this one until the last second, and he trusts his instincts implicitly on the ice, figures maybe he should start doing it in the rest of his life.
Jonny’s smile turns into a smirk. “My number? You’re not trying to pick up tonight?”
“I have to be up early for work tomorrow,” Patrick explains, hates his schedule just a little bit in that moment.
The smirk sours slightly. “I do know who you are,” Jonny tells him, a little more snarkily than the situation warrants. “I don’t live under a rock.”
Patrick blinks at him, confused. “Okay?”
“If you’re not interested, you should just say so.”
Patrick blinks some more. “I asked for your number and you assume I’m not interested?”
“You don’t play hockey games in the morning,” Jonny points out.
“No,” Patrick agrees slowly. “But I have an early flight to Vancouver, and practice skate almost as soon as we land, so I need to actually be functional when we get there.”
Jonny’s face goes through a rapid series of expressions, before settling back into something mostly blank, but a little awkward looking. “Oh,” he says. “Right. Sorry.”
“Who says I was trying to pick up, anyway?” Patrick scowls, feeling a little belligerent, now. “You talked to me first. I was just minding my own business.”
“So the table full of hockey players craning their necks in our direction is just a coincidence?”
Patrick turns his scowl towards the other side of the room, and everyone falls over themselves trying to look like they aren’t paying attention to him. “Fuckers,” he mutters, and turns back to Jonny. “You still talked to me first,” he points out.
Jonny opens his mouth like he’s going to argue, and then shuts it again. Patrick feels a little soothing glow of victory. He loves being right.
“So will you give me your number?” Patrick asks, doesn’t want to be pushy, but.
“Yeah, okay,” Jonny concedes, but there’s something about the way he says it that makes Patrick think he doesn’t believe he’ll actually call.
Fuck that, Patrick thinks, irritated all over again. He’s got this.
Because he might forgive, but there’s no way he’s planning on forgetting any time soon, Patrick sends a picture of his plane at ass o’clock the next morning, a scarce handful of hours after he’d left the bar and Jonny’s somewhat grudging company. He forgoes any awkward social niceties like offering his name with his initial message, just writes ‘told you i had to be up early for work’ under the image, and sends it along.
He sleeps on the flight, and wakes up to a response that just says ‘Fuck you. I’m sleeping.’ He grins and sends another picture – this one of Vancouver as they drive to the arena with the caption “Oh, Canada” – and can’t quite smother his laugh when he gets back a picture of a sad and soggy looking teabag in the sink with ‘Americana at its finest.’ written underneath.
“What’s so funny, Peeks?” Sharpy peers over the seatback, trying to get a look at Patrick’s phone.
“Nothing for you,” Patrick tells him, shutting off the screen and tucking the phone back into his pocket.
Sharpy gives him an unimpressed look, but they’re pulling into the arena, so he doesn’t push it.
Jonny doesn’t send anything else while Patrick is in practice, or during his pre-game nap, and Patrick is feeling unaccountably twitchy while he dresses for the game. He takes a quick picture once he’s suited up of his legs down to his skates, hockey stick leaning against his knees, and adds “Nice work, if a man can get it” before sending it.
He feels more settled after, and gets a goal and an assist in their victory over the Canucks, so he’s feeling pretty smug when they go out after, drinks maybe a little more than he should. It’s late when they all stumble back to the hotel, but they don’t fly to Calgary until afternoon, and there’s no morning skate.
There’s a message notification on his phone when he fishes it out of his jeans to double-check his alarm before he goes to sleep, and it’s from Jonny. No text this time, just a picture of what looks like a photo shoot, a slice of Jonny visible in one of the mirrors, bright lights sinking into the inky blackness of his suit and picking out the lighter strands in his hair.
Patrick doesn’t let himself think about it, just hits the call button.
“Hello?” Jonny’s voice is raspy, not all present.
“Not fair of you to look like that when you’re halfway across the country,” Patrick tells him, then, “Two countries,” he corrects himself. “Halfway across two countries.”
“Patrick?” Jonny’s sounding more with it, and not particularly pleased. “The hell are you calling for? Do you have any idea what time it is?”
“I said I’d call,” Patrick reminds him. “And I wanted to call. And you sent that picture, and I didn’t want to wait until I got home – it’s going to be another –” he tries to count the games, and gives up “– too many days. And I didn’t want you to forget me.”
“Are you drunk?” Jonny’s tone is only half-disbelieving.
“Possibly,” Patrick admits. “I had a good night.”
There’s a silence that stretches just a moment too long, and Patrick hurriedly adds, “The game. I had a good game. And we went out afterwards. And there were shots. For the game.”
Jonny makes a noise that might be agreement, might be a yawn. “Right. Whatever. I’m going back to sleep.”
Patrick feels himself frown. “But I –”
“I won’t forget you, it’s barely been twenty-four hours.” The eye roll is practically audible. “Call me during daylight hours, asshole.” And then there’s nothing but dead air.
“Right,” Patrick says out loud. “Daylight hours. I can do that.”
By the time the roadtrip is winding down, Patrick has fallen into a pattern of talking to Jonny more than he talks to anyone except his family. Jonny’s schedule is even more erratic than Patrick’s, but what that mostly seems to mean is that he’s available to talk when all the nine-to-fivers in Patrick’s life are at work.
It feels like it should be stilted, or forced. They don’t really have a whole lot in common. Jonny’s Canadian, but moved with his family to Paris when he was little for his mom’s job. He started modeling in France – had tagged along with a friend to a shoot and been volunteered by her when one of the male models hadn’t shown up. He’d been offered another job by the end of the day, and things had just sort of snowballed from there. He hasn’t even skated since they moved to France, though he follows the NHL a bit, since his mom’s family are all Habs fans, and he and his brother got roped in young. Patrick promises not to hold it against him.
“That’s big of you,” Jonny sounds like he’s trying not to laugh.
Patrick can’t help the grin on his face, knows it’s coming across in his voice. “I thought so.”
Somehow, though, it all just seems to work. At least from a distance, and Patrick is very pointedly not thinking about how sideways everything might go when he sees Jonny again in person. They swing from laughing to furious and back so fast that Patrick feels like he gets whiplash from half of their conversations, but he finds himself enjoying it more than he’d thought possible. Jonny seems to be enjoying the challenge of it as well. At least, he hasn’t stopping calling, so he must be getting something out of it. Patrick is a goddamned three-time Stanley Cup Champion, an Olympic medalist. He does not need to be nervous about asking a guy he’s already been talking to for two weeks out to dinner. And yet.
The day before Patrick flies home, Jonny calls to bitch about one of the other models he’s working with while Patrick futzes around his hotel room, trying to get himself sorted before he takes his pre-game nap.
“It was completely unprofessional,” Jonny’s saying, “and anyone else would have been fired on the spot, but his father is the editor-in-chief’s grandfather’s third cousin’s plumber, or some horseshit, which is how he got the job in the first place.”
Patrick blinks, trying to process. “His father is what?”
Jonny makes a noise that is clearly the vocal accompaniment of an eye roll. “I was being hyperbolic. He has connections. Vague connections. But they’re enough to get him in the door, and get him extra chances no one else would have been given.”
“So he was a dipshit, but you’re still stuck with him,” Patrick sums up.
“So he was a dipshit, but I’m still stuck with him,” Jonny agrees.
“That sucks,” Patrick says, and then, a little impulsively and apropos of absolutely nothing, because he’s been trying to figure out how to ask for over a week now, and he’s flying home in less than twenty-four hours, “We’ve already played the Habs at home, but you could come to another game? If you wanted to.”
There’s silence over the line for what feels like hours, but is probably only a few seconds. “I could do that,” Jonny says slowly, something in his voice that might be amusement, but might be indigestion. “Or,” he pauses for another unnecessarily long moment, “you could ask me out on a real date, where we can both be in the same place without glass between us.”
Which. True. But, “Who says I want to be in the same place as you without glass between us?”
Patrick can almost hear Jonny judging him, but what he says is, “Patrick, would you like to have dinner with me when you’re back in Chicago?”
It takes far too long for Patrick to get his face under control, and he gives up and just hopes Jonny can’t hear the ridiculous smile he knows he’s sporting when he says, “Yeah,” just on the dignified side of breathless. “That would be. Yes.”
“Great, that’s. Great,” Jonny says. “Tomorrow? No, you’ll be exhausted, you probably –”
“Tomorrow’s great,” Patrick cuts in, because it has been two weeks already, and this is ridiculous.
“Great,” Jonny says again. “Tomorrow. I’ll pick you up at seven? Is that –”
“Seven’s great,” Patrick says, and promptly wants to hit his head against a wall. Neither of them should ever use the word ‘great’ again. “I expect flowers,” he adds, just to be a dick. “If you’re planning on wining and dining me. I’m classy like that.”
Jonny lets out a huff that might be a laugh. “I’ll wine and dine the hell out of you,” he murmurs, voice gone abruptly low and husky, and Patrick. Patrick was not prepared for that.
“Yeah?” he asks, and that’s definitely the less-dignified side of breathy. Patrick isn’t quite sure how this went south quite so fast. He’s pretty sure they were discussing obnoxious co-workers only half a minute ago.
Jonny hums down the line.
Patrick opens his mouth to retaliate, and catches sight of the little clock on the nightstand, glowing green numbers telling him cheerfully he should already be asleep if he’s planning on napping before the game. He lets out a frustrated groan. “Hold that thought? I needed to be asleep ten minutes ago if I want to wake up in time to not be a zombie for the game.”
Jonny says something in French, vicious enough that Patrick’s positive he’s cursing, and low enough that he’s equally sure he wasn’t supposed to hear, because all Jonny says a moment later is, “Good luck with that. Let me know how the time travel works for you.”
It is far more difficult to hang up than it should be. Jonny swearing like that in French isn’t something Patrick realized he needed in his life until he heard it, and he’d really like to explore that further, but he really needs to be asleep already. He thinks a few choice swears to himself, in English. “Time travel is an art,” he tells Jonny, then, “Tomorrow night?” just to be sure.
“Tomorrow night,” Jonny confirms.
Official first dates aren’t something Patrick’s really done a lot of, but as he flops backwards on his bed to try to sleep, he realizes he’s not even nervous about this one, just excited. He’s pretty sure it’s going to be fantastic.
The nerves hit hard mid-afternoon. Patrick’s already been home for a couple hours, had lunch, picked up his mail, unpacked, and sorted out his laundry, and with nothing pressing left to do, he’s just staring at his closet, trying to figure out what to wear. He has no idea where Jonny’s taking him, and he doesn’t want to be too casual, but he also doesn’t want to be overdressed. He’s never really cared, before, but Jonny. Well. Jonny’s a model, and he grew up in Paris, and Patrick really does not want to look like an idiot in front of him. He’s mostly not thinking about why it’s so important not to look like an idiot, but that’s not stopping him from worrying about it.
Working out seems like a good solution, at least temporarily, so Patrick goes down to the gym in his building, blasts his music over his headphones, and determinedly doesn’t think about anything.
An extra-long shower kills some more time, but six o’clock finds Patrick back in front of his closet, still with no idea what he’s doing.
For lack of a more appealing solution, he texts his sisters. Desperate times, and all that. He’d rather be laughed at by them than by Jonny.
Sux to be u bro, he gets back from Jackie almost immediately, which is no help, though not unexpected.
Short skirt, cute top, is Erica’s contribution, then, Not too short, and not too low cut, you don’t want him to think you’re easy, followed by, Unless you do, in which case, very short skirt and lots of cleavage. No judgement.
Not what Patrick wants to hear from his baby sister. Before he can reply, though, Jessica’s calling, and Patrick almost fumbles his phone trying to answer.
“If you have actual – useful – advice for me, I will buy you whatever you want,” Patrick promises before Jess can even get out a hello.
“You do that anyway,” she points out, but then proceeds to walk him through his entire wardrobe to find something “less terrible than the alternatives, oh my god, Patty, how do you make as much money as you do and have nothing that’s just simple but classy?”
It’s almost seven by the time Jess (and Jackie and Erica, who demanded pictures) declares Patrick “acceptable. I suppose you won’t shame the family, at least, which is really the best we can hope for, at this point.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Patrick responds, only a little sourly.
There’s a huff of laughter in his ear. “You’ll be fine, Patty,” Jess says, more soothingly this time. “And if this Jonny guy doesn’t appreciate you, than he’s not worth your time.”
“I really want to be worth his time,” Patrick confesses, “and I don’t even know why.”
Jess hums at him, but all she says is, “You’re worth anyone’s time, Patty.”
“Thanks,” Patrick says, smiles a little. “For that, and for helping me out.”
“Anytime, big bro,” Jess is laughing, now. “We’re going shopping next time I see you.”
Patrick grins a little wider, even though she can’t see him. “You bet,” he tells her. “I’ll get you whatever you want.”
“I know you will,” Jess says, “but I meant we’re going shopping for you. You need real clothes. Love you!” And she hangs up while he’s still sputtering.
“Sisters,” he gripes at no one, stares moodily at his dark phone for a minute, then shakes himself, takes one last glance in the mirror, and goes to make sure he has his keys and wallet.
Dinner goes better than Patrick could have hoped. Jonny shows up exactly on time (Patrick wouldn’t be surprised if he’d lurked outside for several minutes just so he could be smug about it), with a bouquet of actual flowers in one hand, because he’s a dick like that.
“You didn’t really have to buy me flowers,” Patrick tells him, but he takes them anyway, trying to think where he put the vases he knows his mom picked out when she helped him decorate.
“I know,” Jonny shrugs, “I wanted to. I’m classy like that.” His mouth twitches in just a hint of a smirk, and Patrick’s not sure if he wants to hit him or kiss him. The way Jonny doesn’t even bother trying to hide how he’s checking Patrick out has him leaning towards the latter.
“Well, thanks,” Patrick says, voice only a little gruff. He knows it’s useless to fight the blush he can feel starting, turns instead to the kitchen to get the flowers in water before they leave.
They’re only interrupted by fans twice. The first is at dinner, by a couple with a young daughter who just started playing hockey and wants an autograph. The second is afterwards, while they’re walking aimlessly, by a handful of teenagers who ask for a photo. Jonny deigns to take the photo so everyone will fit, and then proceeds to laugh at how awestruck the boys had all been – though at least he has the decency to wait until they’re out of earshot.
It’s refreshing how blasé Jonny is about the whole thing. Patrick hasn’t dated a lot, not properly gone out on dates, anyway, but in the past, people have tended to get frustrated – irritation over the interruption or jealousy for the attention – or seemed to like it a little too much, like it made them more special by association. Jonny is neither. After the first, he’d carried on like nothing had happened – though Patrick is pretty sure he was at least a little endeared by the little girl’s enthusiasm – and the second clearly just amuses the crap out of him. And Patrick, well. He doesn’t love being laughed at, but Jonny’s laughing with him at least a little bit, and it’s just. Nice.
They walk for a long time, just talking. It’s different from their phone calls, but they still agree on everything and nothing, and it turns out to be far more fun than Patrick would have thought.
At one point, Patrick is waving his hands, trying to make his argument clear, because Jonny is wrong, so wrong, and Jonny catches one flailing hand to pull it out of his face, red creeping higher up his neck as he argues back, and just. Doesn’t let go. Patrick twists his wrist a little to twine their fingers together, and carries on waving his other hand, wonders how far the red will go, if it’s as hot to the touch as he imagines, can’t decide if he wants to get his fingers on it first to find out, or his mouth.
Eventually, they wind up back near Patrick’s place, and Patrick’s a little nervous, still, and a little ready to come out of his own skin with the want that has been building slowly for weeks now.
“I had a really good time tonight,” Jonny says, looks half like he might be preparing to kiss Patrick on the cheek and leave, and that is just not acceptable.
Patrick tightens his grip on Jonny’s hand just a little, bites his lip, and looks up at Jonny through his eyelashes, hopes it works and he doesn’t just look like an idiot. “Come up?” he asks, and his voice comes out a little huskier than he’d meant.
Jonny stares at him, at his mouth, then drags his gaze back up to Patrick’s with enough obvious effort that Patrick figures he probably doesn’t look too much like an idiot, after all. “Hell, yes,” Jonny breathes out, and Patrick doesn’t even have time for a mental fist pump before he’s being tugged inside.
The next several weeks seem to fly by. They see each other when they can, but they’re both busy. Patrick has practices and games – both home and away – plus his personal training schedule and more PR appearances than he’d like, even when he knows it’s for a good cause. Jonny, meanwhile, is back and forth to New York, spends a weekend in LA, three days in San Francisco for a shoot, then an overnight in DC for a private show, and another in Montreal. He goes to London in January for Men’s Fashion Week, then to Milan, then Paris, and New York again in February.
It shouldn’t work. Patrick knows this. But, somehow, it does. They’re both trying, and that makes a world of difference.
They go on actual dates, to dinner, to brunch, sometimes just for coffee in between other commitments, whatever time they can find when they’re in the same city. The ‘Hawks play the Capitals the night Jonny’s in DC, and neither of them has any real time, but Jonny stays in Patrick’s hotel room that night, and they order room service after the game, stay up later than they should.
In Chicago, they go to the movies, they go bowling, they go to comedy shows. They go to a couple concerts and trash each other’s taste in music, but they both have fun anyway. They go to a gallery opening for a friend of Jonny’s, and Patrick isn’t as bored as he thought he’d be, gets to talking with a couple of people, and Jonny’s the one ready to leave first. They go to a little pub that has no food, but a bunch of board games, and Jonny gets so mad when Patrick beats him five times in a row at Connect 4 that he knocks the board over, and Patrick almost falls off his chair he’s laughing so hard.
“You’re a dick,” Jonny tells him, flicks one of the pieces at Patrick’s forehead.
Patrick just laughs harder.
The first time Jonny goes to a ‘Hawks game, he doesn’t tell Patrick he’s going to be there. He ends up on the Jumbotron, and Sharpy catches Patrick staring from the bench, smacks him on the back of the helmet and laughs. Patrick thinks about saying something, but it’s early days yet, and he doesn’t want to jinx it. It’s not the time, anyway, in the middle of a game.
The next time, Patrick gets him a ticket. Jonny comes down for warm-ups, and Patrick almost trips over his own skates when he sees him standing there in Patrick’s jersey, watches Jonny smirk, arms crossed over his chest, jersey pulling tight over his shoulders. Jonny raises an eyebrow at him in challenge, and, yeah, okay, Patrick can do this. He gets two goals and an assist, and Jonny ribs him afterwards about not getting the hat trick. He also blows him against the wall just inside Patrick’s front door, though, so Patrick can’t be too pissed at him.
“Wow,” Patrick pants later that night, sprawled across his bed, half on top of Jonny as they both get their breathing back under control, heartbeats slowing. “You are trouble, aren’t you.”
Jonny tips his head a little to the side so he can give him the same smirk he wore earlier. “Who, me?” he asks, and even like this, naked, tangled in the sheets and Patrick’s arms, sweat barely cooled on his skin, he somehow manages to look perfect and poised, like butter wouldn’t melt. But, man, he is Trouble with a capital Trouble, and Patrick kind of loves it.
Jonny comes to open practice once, twice, three times. He has a friend with him the first two, a woman with a very professional looking camera, who moves around the space, taking pictures. Patrick meets her briefly afterwards, her name is Tara, and she and Jonny met years ago on a shoot. She can’t stick around either time, but promises to tell Patrick stories at a later date.
“He thinks he’s so smooth,” Tara says, tossing Jonny the most shit-eating grin Patrick’s seen since Sharpy and Bur were roommates. “But ask him about Toronto, summer of ’14. Fun times.” She waves as she walks off, and Patrick turns promptly to Jonny, who looks a bit like he just bit into a lemon.
“What happened in Toronto, in the summer of ’14?” Patrick asks, and watches delightedly as Jonny goes brilliant red.
“Absolutely nothing,” he mutters, and refuses to speak the entire drive back to Patrick’s place.
The third practice Jonny comes to, he comes alone, and all the young guys are talking about him. Arty recognized him, and said something to Seabs, and then everyone knew that That Model Jonathan Toews had been hanging around their practices. It’s Duke who connects the dots, though.
“Wasn’t he the guy Sharpy made you go talk to a couple months back?” he asks Patrick in the locker room, at the end of practice. “At that bar, in, like, November?”
And Sharpy, the fucker, jerks around like his strings have been pulled, unholy glee shining from his face like Christmas and his birthday have been rolled into one and come early.
Patrick starts pulling his clothes on faster.
“Kaner knows a model?” Forsy asks.
“November’s a long time ago,” Brinksy points out at the same time, and Patrick realizes abruptly that, yeah, November is a long time ago. It’s been over four months, and he hadn’t even noticed.
“Are you dating Jonathan Toews?” Sharpy demands, ignoring the others, and Patrick. Patrick doesn’t know. They haven’t talked about it.
Seabs must see something on his face, though what, Patrick has no idea, because he cuffs Sharpy over the head. “Leave him alone,” he says, “maybe he didn’t even know the guy was here.” The last is directed more at Patrick, not quite a question, but then everyone’s off talking about what a weird coincidence that would be, and Duncs says something about “that chick with him last time – the one with the camera” and Patrick manages to finish dressing and get out before anyone realizes he hasn’t answered any of their questions. He’s pretty sure Sharpy is just biding his time, but hopefully he’ll be able to sort himself out before he has to talk to him about it.
Patrick doesn’t see Jonny again until the next night. He’s got a couple days off between games, but Jonny’s in the middle of a shoot for some online fashion charity thing. Patrick could call, but he’s pretty sure this is a conversation he wants to have face to face.
He really likes Jonny, is the thing. He likes his juvenile sense of humor, and how smug he gets when he thinks he’s said something funny. He likes that he’s just as competitive as Patrick is, and that he’ll get pissed when he loses, but doesn’t hold a grudge for long. He likes his work ethic, and the stupid things he eats, and the way his neck gets red and hot to the touch when he’s embarrassed or angry. He likes his eyes, and his hands, and his ass – god, does he like his ass – but he likes his laugh and his smile and the sound of his voice when he’s half asleep and slurring a bit into French even better.
It’s not like he thinks Jonny doesn’t like him. He can’t imagine Jonny would be spending this much time with him – would be sleeping with him – if he didn’t. But. But.
They spend a lot of time in different cities. They both have very demanding careers. The Blackhawks are in a race for a playoff spot, and Jonny’s gearing up for spring and summer, just signed a new contract with Versace. It’s entirely possible that Jonny doesn’t want anything serious.
Won’t know until you try, Patrick tells himself firmly, then sends a mass text to his sisters for moral support.
Rn’t u already dating? Jackie sends back.
Sex first, then ask, Erica suggests. Or dinner first. Best way to a boy’s heart is through his dick or his stomach.
Jess’s reply doesn’t come for nearly five minutes, but when it does, it says, You can do it! because she’s the best. She follows it up with, You’re a grown-up. Don’t embarrass us. Clearly the bar is not all that high.
Going on dates is not the same as dating, he tells Jackie, and Great pep talk, Coach, he sends Jess. I am concerned about your life. Who are you dating? he asks Erica, because, really, this is not the advice his little sister should be sending him.
“I brought dinner,” Jonny yells from the hall when he lets himself in. “Hope you’re hungry.” He grins when he finds Patrick in the kitchen, drops a big brown paper bag on the counter and a kiss on Patrick’s forehead as he goes to pull plates out of the cupboard. Patrick really kind of likes how comfortable Jonny is in his space.
“Do you want to date?” Patrick’s mouth asks without his say-so, and he sort of wants to drown himself in the sink.
“Uh.” Jonny freezes in the process of pulling silverware out of a drawer, and turns slowly to look at Patrick.
“Properly, I mean,” Patrick says, and then his mouth keeps going. “It’s been a few months, and it seems to be going really well, and I don’t really want to see anyone else, but I know you have a lot going on, and I have a lot going on, so if you’re not, you know, interested in –”
“Woah, woah,” Jonny holds up his hands, realizes he’s still holding plates and forks, puts them down on the counter, and holds up his hands again. “I thought we were dating,” he says, and now it’s Patrick’s turn to stare. Jonny frowns at him. “You gave me a key,” he points out, like that answers everything.
And maybe it does. “Huh,” Patrick stares for another moment, then looks at the bag of take-out Jonny brought with him, the way he’s halfway to setting the table in Patrick’s home. They exchanged keys weeks ago. He can’t remember the last time they were in the same city and didn’t sleep in the same bed, even if they hadn’t had sex beforehand. “I guess we are,” he says at last.
Jonny rolls his eyes, but instead of picking up the plates again, he walks right into Patrick’s space, tilts Patrick’s chin up so he has to meet his gaze. “Is this okay?” he asks, voice softer than usual.
Patrick can’t help the smile that crosses his face, feels it get wider at the answering grin from Jonny. “No,” he says. “It’s better.”
Jonny laughs, then leans in to kiss him, gentle at first, then harder, hands slipping along his jaw and up into his hair.
Definitely better, Patrick thinks.
Jonny comes to their next game, sits right on the glass in the jersey he stole from Patrick’s closet.
“Isn’t that the model from practice?” Brinksy asks during warm-ups, because of course he would.
Sharpy swivels around until he spots Jonny across the rink, then smacks Patrick on the shoulder with a gloved hand. “Your boyfriend’s wearing your number,” he says, laughing like it’s the best joke, but Patrick just grins.
“He’s wearing my jersey,” Patrick corrects, lets his grin grow at the matching looks of shock that appear on both Sharpy’s and Brinksy’s faces, and then skates off to take a shot at the net, grinning even wider when he hears Sharpy start to laugh again.
And if he shows off a little for Jonny, well, who wouldn’t? He knocks his fist against the glass in front of Jonny when he skates by, sees him smirk. We’ve got this, Patrick thinks, and watches as Jonny’s smirk turns into a smile, as if in answer.