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Kent

Jack: Want to come to Samwell with us Friday or are you guys doing something?
Kent: …you want me to?
Jack: Is that weird?
Kent: No. Just surprising.
Jack: I know it’s not the way we talked about.
Kent: I know. But I want to go. I mean, I’m here for Tater’s Cup Day so we have pictures for later when we can actually post them. But I want to be there with you too. On one condition.
Jack: Seriously? What’s that?
Kent: You have to be at my next Cup Day.
Jack: Yeah, Kenny. I’ll be at your next Cup Day.

***

Mills: You know how you said if I was ever scared to tell you something, but I needed help, then I should tell you?

Kent’s in Providence with Alexei when he reads the text from Mills. It’s mid-afternoon and his plane back to Vegas leaves in two hours, but he packed everything up in the morning so they’d have time to have sex one more time. It might be the last time he has to do this. Alexei and his agent are meeting with the Aces management for a second time in two weeks. If everything goes right, Alexei will be an Ace and he and Kent will get married.

When he asked Alexei to marry him, they’d both planned to wait a few years, but every time Kent answered a Skype call and saw Alexei upset over talking to his parents, it was harder to remember why. Alexei and his parents are still talking. Kent doesn’t want to give up on them, but it’s not great. They want him to come back to Russia and change. Kent won’t feel like he’s safe until they’re married, and no one can just take him away. And the more they talked about Alexei signing with the Aces, the less they wanted to spend that time lying to everyone about their real relationship.

He doesn’t want anything else to be hard right now, but he did mean what he said when he told Mills he’d always be there for him. And if Jeff could fly to Sweden three weeks after having surgery because Kent was having a breakdown, then Kent can do this for Mills.

Kent: Yes. And I meant it. What’s wrong? Are you ok? Is everyone else ok?
Mills: Depends on how you define ok. Physically yes. No one is hurt. Oh. And Kit is totally fine. I swear I did not endanger Kit at any time.
Kent: Ok. So?
Mills: You’re going to be mad probably.
Kent: Maybe. I’m still going to help you and love you. What happened?

Mills types for a while but Kent doesn’t call. If Mills wanted to call at this point, he’d do it. If he’s scared to tell Kent, he’s probably texting on purpose. Kent uses the wait to switch to his iPad. It’s so much easier to have long text conversations with a keyboard.

Mills: Cupid came over a couple days ago. Also, Vikki and Lauren. We were just hanging and drinking. Not drunk. Just like a drink or two each I swear. We were in the hot tub. And things kind of got a little crazy.
Kent: Crazy how? If you just think I’m going to be mad about the hot tub, I’m just making you drain it and clean it if you did something in it.
Mills: I already did that.
Kent: Is there more? You’ve been kind of talking to Vikki for a while. I’d prefer you not have sex in my hot tub, but I’m not totally shocked?
Mills: It wasn’t just me and Vikki.
Kent: Explain.
Mills: Vikki and Lauren said they make out with each other sometimes and I KNOW fetishizing lesbians is wrong and all those things but they offered and it’s hot, ok? I knew they were bi. I just didn’t realize they had this friends with benefits thing going on.
Kent: I’m not mad about that either. If they’d only had one drink and it was their idea and everyone was fine with it…
Mills: I thought everyone was fine with it. I swear.
Kent: Someone wasn’t?
Mills: I don’t know. The girls said they’d make out if we made out. And Cupid’s my friend and I figured it wasn’t really that big of a deal. It’s just kissing so it’s not that different. And I asked him first and he said, ‘sure, why not?’
Kent: Mills. I’m not mad. You asked. And that’s it and now something is wrong?
Mills: We didn’t just kiss. The whole thing kind of escalated. I touched him some and he touched me and then we just had sex with the girls. But um, we were all in the same hot tub.
Kent: Cupid had sex with Lauren??
Mills: That’s what you’re focusing on? Yeah. And it was kind of crazy but I didn’t think it was a huge deal. But then he freaked out and told Lauren he was really sorry and left. And he won’t answer my calls or my texts. Lauren said she talked to him and he apologized for freaking out on her and they’re fine, but he won’t talk to me. :(
Kent: First, I’m not thrilled, but I’m not mad, ok? You asked and he agreed and I’m not exactly going to judge you for drinking and hooking up with your best friend. I’m not that much of a hypocrite. Give him some space. I’ll text him and try to talk to him on the way to the airport.
Mills: I just wish I knew why he won’t talk to me. Is he freaking out that he’s gay now? Or that I’m gay? (I’m not. Just, you know, it didn’t feel like a big deal I guess?)
Kent: I’ll be home late tonight. Stay at the house if you’re upset, ok? I’ll try to talk to Cupid. I’m leaving for the airport now.

“Something wrong?” Alexei asks as they get up and get dressed.

“Remember how I told you one of my teammates came out to me but not who?”

“Yes?”

“Well, I can’t really tell you what’s wrong without outing him, so I can’t tell you yet.”

Alexei nods. His concern is obvious, but he lets it go. He doesn’t blame Kent for being distracted through their goodbyes until Jack comes to get him.

Kent texts Cupid after Jack drops him at the airport and he gets through security.

Kent: Hey kid. Mills told me what happened. I didn’t tell him anything, but he’s worried that you won’t talk to him. How’re you doing? I’m at the airport to come home, but my flight doesn’t leave for an hour.
Kent: If you want, I can send Swoops to check on Mills and come to you when I get back. That would involve telling Swoops what happened with Mills, but not anything else.
Cupid: Are you mad?
Kent: Like I told Mills, I’d prefer you not have sex in my hot tub, but I’m not mad. Just worried about you.
Cupid: I fucked everything up. I told Lauren the truth bc I felt so bad and she’s not even mad at me.
Kent: I was surprised about Lauren, but it doesn’t sound like she was serious about any of it. I don’t know why you think she should be mad.
Cupid: That’s what she thinks. She apologized to me. She didn’t really mean to push me into it. Obviously, I didn’t tell her everything.
Kent: I’m a little confused. What didn’t you tell her?
Cupid: Ugh. Seriously? Remember how you’re the only person who knows I’m gay?
Kent: Yes?
Cupid: Well, I haven’t had sex with you, so…
Kent: Oh. Ok.
Cupid: Don’t start telling me that it’s not a big deal and virginity is a social construct.
Kent: Ok, I won’t. But I’d like to come check on you when I get back.
Cupid: Yeah. If you want to. You can tell Swoops if it helps Mills.
Kent: Okay. I’ll see if that’s okay with Mills.
Cupid: You can tell Mills I don’t hate him. I just don’t want to talk to him right now.
Kent: Okay kid. I’ll come see you tonight.

Kent feels kind to stupid for assuming Cupid hooked up at some point. But in his defense, when he counts the people he’s out to, he doesn’t really count the two random guys he had sex with in Sweden. Kent’s plane gets called so he ends up having to board before he can text Mills.

Kent: I texted with Cupid. He’s not ready to talk to you right now but he wants you to know he doesn’t hate you. How do you feel about me sending Swoops over? I’ll come by the house and drop off my stuff, but I wanted to go check on Cupid. He says it’s okay with him if Swoops knows what happened, but that’s up to you.
Mills: Is he mad I told you?
Kent: Not at all.
Mills: You can send Swoops over if he has time, but it’s been two days. I just finally chickened out on telling you in person and I knew you were coming home today. I’m fine by myself.
Kent: Well, I’ll worry less if he’s with you.
Mills: Are you going to tell Swoops for me or make me tell him?
Kent: That’s up to you. I’m on the plane so I’d have to text him. Or I can screenshot your texts or something. Or I can help you tell him when I get there.
Mills: The last option, please?
Kent: Sure. I’ll see you in a few hours.

***

When Kent drops his stuff off at his house, he’s not at all surprised that Mills blurted out the whole story to Jeff while Kent was still on the airplane. The only reason he kept it quiet as long as he did was that he managed to not see either of them for two days. Kent suspects that Jeff knows exactly why Cupid is insistent on only talking to Kent, but he doesn’t ask.

Cupid’s in sweatpants and an old Aces shirt when he lets Kent in his apartment. He’s freshly showered, and his apartment is clean. There’s a full trash bag that needs to be taken out. By Cupid’s standards, that probably means everything is a disaster.

Cupid accepts a hug after the door closes behind Kent, but he pulls away as soon as he has to choke back a sob.

“You can tell me this was stupid. I know it was stupid,” Cupid says when they sit down.

“I’m not just pretending not to judge you. I’m really not judging you,” Kent says. “Seriously. Have you not put any of the hints about my past together? I literally crashed my ex-boyfriend’s party to beg him to come back to me four years after we broke up. You didn’t even really do anything wrong.”

“Yeah, except now I know exactly what his dick feels like and what he looks like when he comes. And what it felt like when he touched me. When I told Lauren I was gay, she wasn’t even surprised because I was looking at him almost the entire time we had sex. Not that he noticed. He wasn’t really looking at me by that point.”

It’s the most Cupid’s ever talked to him about his feelings ever. If Kent wasn’t so worried, he’d be proud.

“I know it probably doesn’t help a lot, but he does love you. He’s so worried about you. And he’s terrified that he fucked up your friendship forever.”

“I know. It helps a little,” Cupid shrugs and gives him a small smile. “But he still doesn’t have a clue why I’m upset, does he?”

“No. I think Swoops suspects, but he’s suspected someone else on the team was gay and it even took him until this happened to consider it might be you.”

Cupid nods. They’ve talked about it before and there’s no point in rehashing the obvious. He’s not like Kent. It’s been two years and not a single player on the Aces seems to suspect Cupid is gay. Even with all the experience the Aces have with queer people, they’re still not going to suspect a guy who meets every standard of masculinity that society thinks he should. Tony Valentino is still going to be the biggest guy on the team even after Alexei signs. He’s solid muscle, with dark brown skin. Even though his Spanish is worse than Kent’s French and Russian, he throws out a few phrases and everyone sexually attracted to men in the vicinity falls for him. He’s the only Ace better than Kent at attracting women in a bar even though he barely talks to them. He has horrible taste in music, and he dresses like he never has a need to do anything except workout. He’s always the first guy pulling off his tie and jacket when they have to dress up, and Mills still has to tie his tie for him before and after every game—though that might be more of a want than a need. Kent knows that what comes off to some people as being serious is really just shyness.

“I don’t know how to talk to him again without telling him the truth,” Cupid says after a minute.

“You could do that,” Kent says. “He’s not going to hate you.”

“I know that. But he’s going to feel bad and guilty and pity me.”

“Because he cares.”

Cupid shrugs.

“You know I’m not going to make you do anything, but you can’t avoid him forever. And do you really want to avoid him until training camp starts up?”

***

Kent feels bad for getting distracted and only checking on Cupid through text when two days later, Cupid points out the obvious.

Cupid: So if Mashkov signs, I’ll have to see Mills at your shotgun wedding, won’t I? I should probably talk to him before then.
Parse: 1. Are you guys going to insist on still calling him Mashkov if he’s on your team?
2. I’m not pregnant. It’s not a shotgun wedding.
3. Probably. Unless you really want to explain to all the guys why you’re avoiding him.
Cupid: His name will definitely be Reaper’s call.
Cupid: I keep trying to do it and I can’t. Can we meet up at your house? I don’t think I want you to actually be in the room, but you know.
Parse: Sure. Tonight?
Cupid: He’s been staying with you, hasn’t he?
Parse: Basically. He goes home sometimes so Ty can feed him and he can see the kids. Alexei gets here tomorrow so things might get crazy after that.
Cupid: My drama is interrupting your wedding.
Parse: Your drama is distracting me from whether my wedding is happening or not. It’s probably helping. Come over tonight. I’ll tell Mills.

***

Cupid

“We’ll be upstairs. If you just stare at each other for longer than half an hour, text me or Swoops and ask for help,” Parse says. He ruffles Cupid’s hair before leaving them.

Cupid sits on the couch instead of sitting next to Mills on the loveseat. He stares down at his own hands because he can’t look at Mills.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve told her no,” Mills says after a minute of painful silence.

“It’s not your fault,” Cupid says. It’s true. It’s not. He’s still not even sure if he regrets that it happened. He just hates how he feels now.

“Parse said you said that, but it feels like my fault. I didn’t even know you weren’t okay until it was over.”

“It’s not your fault,” Cupid says again. “Parse says not to worry about if it’s anyone’s fault, but if it’s one of our faults, it’s mine. I knew what you were thinking. I knew you were only doing it for the girls, and I told you that was okay. I let you think that was what I was doing, too.”

“I’m confused. I’m sorry. I feel like I should get it, but I’m really confused. I thought you were just upset because it was casual. Or um, well, I entertained the idea that since I’ve never known about you hooking up, maybe it was your first time and that was a really weird first time.”

“It was,” Cupid says. “But that’s still not your fault. I knew what I was doing.”

“Fuck. I’m sorry,” Mills says. “I guess, I just assumed…”

“I know. It’s not your fault. Parse assumed I’d just hooked up before and not mentioned it, too.”

“Is that why you’re upset?”

“Not really.”

“If you’re freaking out about being gay, I don’t think it makes us gay. Or bi even. It was just a thing.”

Cupid laughs even though it’s not funny at all.

“No. The fact that I’m gay makes me gay. Having sex with Lauren didn’t change that.”

Mills is quiet for a few seconds and then it’s like his brain clicks on and reminds him that he has to say something.

“Sorry. Sorry. You know that’s okay with me, right? I mean, obviously. I’ve basically been living with Parse since he got back.”

“You’re not mad I didn’t tell you that before we…” Cupid waves his hand. It’s not like they actually had sex.

“Oh. No. I mean, you didn’t make me do anything. It was just a thing or whatever.”

“It wasn’t just a thing for me,” Cupid says because clearly Mills is never going to figure things out on his own. “I didn’t do it for fun or because I was drunk. I did it because I knew it was the closest I’d ever get to be to being with you.”

“You did it to be with me?” Mills says.

“I’ve kind of been in love with you since some time in our rookie year. I didn’t come out to you because I didn’t want you to figure it out.”

“Oh.”

“I know you’re straight,” Cupid says because he knows he doesn’t want to hear Mills let him down gently. “I’m not asking for anything. I’m just explaining. And I’m sorry I let all that happen without you realizing it was a thing for me.”

“You’re sorry? I’m sorry,” Mills says.

“You don’t have anything to be sorry about,” Cupid says. “Really. I knew what it was. I knew it might fuck things up. I knew it didn’t mean anything to you. I knew what I was doing, okay? I knew it wasn’t real for you, but I went along with it because I knew it was probably my only chance to kiss you. And when they asked us to…touch each other, I was just hoping you didn’t notice how into it I was. I’m the one who should be sorry!”

“No. No,” Mills gets up from the loveseat and comes to sit next to him on the couch. “Maybe neither of us has to be sorry, okay? Just because I didn’t know why, that doesn’t mean I didn’t fully consent to what we did. We both did. We’ve listened to Swoops lecture about consent way too much not to be sure. I knew what I was doing. I’m sorry you’re hurting because you’re my best friend and I don’t want you to be hurt, but you didn’t do anything wrong, okay? Don’t beat yourself up over that.”

Mills puts his hand on Cupid’s shoulder and Cupid looks at him for the first time. He’s not angry or grossed out. He’s just concerned. Of course he is. Mills isn’t an asshole. That’s why Cupid loves him. Of course, that’s what makes it impossible to not start crying.

Mills holds him because he’s perfect. It’s awkward because even though Mills has gained a couple inches since Cupid met him and packed on a bit of weight, Cupid is still a lot bigger. When Cupid calms down, Mills doesn’t let go.

“You know I love you,” Mills says.

“Just not like that,” Cupid finishes for him.

“Honestly? I’ve never thought about it? I mean, I wasn’t completely grossed out.”

“Stop it. Don’t give me false hope, okay? Not grossed out is very different than turned on. You weren’t looking at me when you were having sex with Vikki. I know. Because I was looking at you,” Cupid says out of frustration. Then he immediately regrets the last part.

“Hey,” Mills says, squeezing his shoulder. “I’m not freaking out. I knew you were there. I’m not mad if you were watching. But okay, I’ll drop it. I don’t want to hurt you more.”

“You’re not really hurting me. I’m doing that myself. It’s not your fault you’re straight.”

“Okay,” Mills says. “So, um, do you need more time away from me or not? Because I will totally give it to you, but I also miss the fuck out of you.”

Cupid laughs again. It’s more real this time.

“I, um, don’t ever actually want time away from you,” he says. He’s glad he doesn’t blush when he’s embarrassed.

“Same,” Mills says. “Totally still the same on that one.”

***

Kent

Planning for a wedding that might not happen is nerve-wracking. All of their close friends know the situation, so even Rusher is back early from Russia just in case. They don’t want to hide anymore, and they’ve agreed that they’ll come out as soon as Alexei has a safe contract. If he signs with the Aces, Kent doesn’t want to lie while they’re on the same team, but no matter what his paperwork says, Kent doesn’t feel like Alexei will be safe to come out unless they’re married. Thankfully, neither of them have their hearts set on anything specific (except each other), and Kent lives in a city where it’s easy to throw together a wedding in a few days as long as all your friends can afford to book quick flights. Besides, Vegas has taken care of him. There’s something Kent likes about having a last-minute wedding in a Vegas chapel and a reception in his backyard.

The waiting is still so nerve-wracking that Swoops is around way more than he should be considering he’s supposedly retired. Apparently, that means still showing up to training with Kent and Mills but just half-assing everything. Kent can’t complain because it’s only the thought of Alexei being with him that’s keeping him from panicking again about playing without Swoops for the first time. When the press asks why he still has a roommate even though he’s way past being a rookie, he blames superstition, but everyone who has ever been on the Aces knows why. It wasn’t even until his third year that someone explained to him that still having a roommate was unusual because for Davy, it was a superstition and half the Aces followed suit. They don’t admit to his face that they wanted to keep Jeff babysitting him at least. Still, he convinces Jeff to go home to his own fiancée. He’s driving Mills back to Reaper’s house when Mills mumbles something Kent doesn’t quite get.

“You’re going to have to say that again,” Kent tells him.

“How’d you know you were gay?” Mills asks.

Kent puts on his turn signal so that he can reroute to his own house before he answers.

“I don’t really remember. I remember already knowing when I was about eight and knowing that it was a bad thing then. That’s the earliest memory I have of it. Obviously, that was before I met Bob and Alicia and anyone told me it wasn’t wrong. Anyway, I assume I probably said something to my parents when I was young, and they told me not to be like that, but I don’t remember.”

“How did you even know what gay sex was when you were eight?”

“I didn’t. I didn’t know what sex was at all. I think that made it easier. I just knew I wanted to be with another boy, I guess,” Kent says. “Um…also, maybe don’t tell Reaper this story.”

“Because then he’ll start worrying too much about Mason all over again? I’m pretty sure he asked a bunch of child psychologists and they agreed that if Mason says he’s gay, then the best thing is to just accept it. He doesn’t care.”

“I know. He just worries so much about doing everything right.”

“I’ve heard that’s just what good parents do.”

“Supposedly,” Kent agrees.

“So, if I was gay, I’d probably know already,” Mills says.

“Maybe,” Kent says. “I don’t think everyone knows right away.”

“I’m almost twenty-one.”

“So, you probably know that you’re into sex with girls. But Zimms didn’t know he was bi until he was fifteen, and then he thought he might just be gay for a while because I’m that awesome. Then I think he decided on bisexual when he was nineteen. My friend Holster says he basically always knew he was bi. Bitty says he knew he was gay when he was six. Holster’s boyfriend lets people assume that he’s bi, but he’s actually bi-romantic and heterosexual. They confuse the shit out of me, but it works for them. And Jack’s friend Lardo is pan and she figured that out in college, I think.”

“So, I could still be bi. Or pan.”

Kent pulls into his driveway and stops the car so that he can look at Mills.

“I think you could be anything. But are you questioning because of yourself, or because you want to make your best friend feel better?”

“I don’t know,” Mills says. “I know I love him.”

“Okay. But I love you and Jeff and Bitty. And face it, I love just about all the guys on the team. But how I love Alexei is different. How I love Zimms is still different because of what we had before.”

“I don’t know. It’s not like I was totally grossed out touching his dick,” Mills blurts out and then buries his face in his hands.

“Okay, but I think there’s a wide variety of how people feel about things like that. I’ve touched boobs and kissed girls. I wasn’t totally grossed out, but it doesn’t do anything for me either.”

“I don’t know. I just…I wasn’t focused on him, you know. I was focused on making things look good for the girls and touching him was just kind of weird because I was thinking of them watching. So, I don’t know how I’d even feel about him.”

“I don’t know. Have you talked to Cupid about it?”

“I can’t. I pointed out that I’d never considered it before, and he said not to get his hopes up for no reason.”

“Okay. I want to help you, but I’ve always been sure. You could talk to Zimms. I know he questioned a few times.”

Mills scrunches up his face at the idea. He’s worse than Jeff. He’s warmed up to Alexei completely, but he’s still weird about Zimms.

“Okay. Fine. You’ve met Ransom and Holster a couple times. And they are kind of two different examples. They’d probably talk to you about if it you wanted.”

“Maybe,” Mills says.

“Though you should know they sometimes have sex with other people. Which is fine for them, but I think you know Cupid well enough to not bring that up regardless of what happened already.”

“I know. I’d never even bring that up and risk him agreeing to it again even though he’d hate it.”

“Why don’t you come in, and I’ll order food. If you want, I’ll text Ransom and Holster and tell them you might want to talk. They’re not going to tell anyone about it if you talk to them.”

Mills nods and follows him inside. Kent picks Kit up when she greets him at the door as always, but he hands her off to Mills. She goes easily. She’s always been good at knowing when people need her comfort. Mill turns on one of the Harry Potter movies and curls up with her on the couch. He’s been quieter than normal since Kent got back. It makes it easier for Kent to not get sick of having him in the house more than normal, but it’s concerning. It doesn’t help that Reaper knows something is wrong and all Kent can tell Reaper is that he had a disagreement with Cupid.

Kent orders food for them both before texting Ransom and Holster. He doesn’t text both of them very often. He texts Holster more because he got to know Holster over text when he and Alexei first started dating. Honestly, he still doesn’t totally get how their relationship works.

Kent: You guys remember Mills, right?
Holster: Your rookie? The hyperactive one?
Ransom: If he ever meets Chowder, no one else will ever get a chance to talk again.
Holster: And Jack will be so over-stimulated that he has to hide.
Kent: haha. Yes.
Kent: He’s kind of trying to figure out if he might be bi or not or somewhere in the middle. Alexei and I are so gay we’re useless. And Jeff is just so straight.
Ransom: Oh! Yeah. We are happy to text or skype if he wants! Been there.
Kent: Yeah. I’ll let him know you’re available if he wants.

***

Mills

Parse gives Mills both Ransom and Holster’s numbers, but Mills waits a few days to use them. He figures that he’s probably not bisexual. He’s never liked guys before. He’s never even noticed most guys before. And he’s never cared at all about having gay guys in the dressing room, but he knows Parse is careful in how he interacts with the other guys. It was obvious as soon as he knew about Parse. With Cupid, he’s not sure, but he’s never paid attention either.

Then he finds himself thinking of Cupid’s face when he’s jacking off.

Maybe the thing with the locker room is that it’s a locker room. He ends up texting Parse about that one. If the situation was different, he’d worry that Parse wouldn’t want to be truthful. But he knows Parse and Parse knows him and he’s never been able to talk about this kind of stuff with anyone else either way.

Mills: So I think maybe I’m sexually attracted to Cupid. But like, if that’s the thing, why have I never thought about this before? I’m around naked guys all the time. I know we’re all told the locker room isn’t like that to you, but is that really true? I’d react if I was in a room with a lot of naked women.
Parse: Honestly? Yeah. Locker rooms are gross no matter what porn tells you. But also, I think it’s a context thing that straight people don’t get. I’ve always had guys change in front of me since I was a kid. I was careful not to look too much of course, but also, it’s not like I could really get turned on every single time. It’s not a sexual context so I’m just kind of used to it. If you were in a room with naked women every day and it wasn’t sexual, you’d probably get used to it.
Mills: Fair. Hockey team sweat smell is not hot. I don’t want to have sex with anyone in a locker room. Thanks.
Parse: Of course.

Mills tries watching gay porn. It doesn’t totally freak him out, but it doesn’t turn him on either. Then again, he’s never really cared for straight porn either. He’s always been more of a Victoria’s Secret catalog guy. Is there a male equivalent to that? Cupid was part of the shirtless calendar they did last year for charity. Mills has a copy somewhere and tries that. Reaper: no, gross. Parse, eww. Tucan…maybe? Mills flips back to February for Cupid because he wants to be able to talk to Tucan again. Definite maybe on Cupid.

Finally Mills gives up and texts Ransom.

Mills: Hey. It’s Mills. Kent’s friend. He told you I might text you, right?
Ransom: Hey! He did. And we can talk. They only person I won’t promise not to tell is Holster, but he won’t tell.
Mills: So you’re not actually bi, right? You just let people assume you are?
Ransom: Well, it’s more complicated than that. All my friends have heard the long version. Random guy in my class can just assume I’m bi or gay. I’m with Holster so it doesn’t matter unless I want to talk about it.
Mills: How are you not bi if you’re with Holster? Or do you guys just like, not do anything? Sorry. That’s probably way out of line.
Ransom: It’s ok. Considering the reason for the conversation, it’s ok to ask that. Long version is that I’m not really sexually into dudes. But I’m biromantic and obviously I love Holster.
Ransom: We do some things. Jacking him off and stuff is good for me because I want to make him feel good even if it doesn’t specifically turn me on. Pretty sure anyone’s mouth on my dick is always going to be good. There are certain things we just don’t do. Other things we only do if I’m in the right mood and then it’s less about the sex and more about the connection if that makes sense. And sometimes, we swing with other couples but we don’t actually date them.
Ransom: So I don’t really think I’m totally bi, but yeah, not totally straight either. If I was not me, I’d just be that person who refused labels. But I like labels. Labels make me feel safe. So instead, I think of it with like multiple complicated labels. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Mills: I don’t know if that would work for us. I know other couples won’t work. The guy I’m thinking about would be upset.
Ransom: It’s not for everyone, and it took us a long time to figure our shit out. We had some shitty times where we thought it would be fine if we just hooked up separately. We both kept freaking out that the other would leave for a ‘real’ relationship. We thought swinging with other couples would totally work. It mostly does, but that’s also how we found out that if someone else fucks him, I can’t handle it. We learned to communicate a lot! So I guess some of it has to be experimentation to see what you actually like.
Mills: That’s hard because I don’t want to lead him on and then realize I’m just not into it.
Ransom: Fair. Holtzy says communicate with yourself then. Think about each thing. Think about if it turns you on, if you just don’t mind doing it to make him feel good, or if you can’t handle doing it at all. Then talk to him about it and see how he feels about where you stand. And well, if *he* turns you on, then it’s not like you wouldn’t be able to say no to certain things either way. Some women don’t like to give blowjobs even if they’re attracted to men. Some gay guys never want to bother with anal. Holster doesn’t mind that he doesn’t get blowjobs from me. Though I think that was a reminder for me and not you. Sometimes I feel bad about it and he has to remind me that it’s fine.
Mills: Ok. Thanks. That actually helps a lot. And thanks to Holster too.
Ransom: No problem. And Holster says if you need anything, or have questions you can ask any time. He claims that he and Parson became friends bc he was able to answer all Parse’s gay sex questions. I’m not sure I actually believe that though. He’s probably exaggerating.
Mills: If there were detailed kinky questions, I don’t want to know! Parse had a bruise on his ass once and I wish no one had pointed it out to me ever.
Ransom: HAHAHA.

***

Kent

Jeff calls a few hours before Alexei’s flight gets in. It’s the first time Kent is picking him up from the airport. It’s public knowledge that they’re friends, it’s not that much of a secret that he’s talking to teams besides the Falconers as a free agent, and it’s only been a few days since Kent saw him, so Kent should be able to refrain from jumping Alexei in the airport.

“I think Alex just tried to ask me if I gave permission for Mashkov to marry you,” Swoops says. “Which was kind of nice because Mashkov didn’t ask me.”

“Because asking anyone except the person who you want to marry is weird and offensive and he knew I’d be pissed if he did that. Our moms agree with me that you need to stop pouting about it. But what are you talking about?”

“He called. He asked things he already knew the answers to because he’s still trying to give me some kind of a job. Then he tried to casually ask if I thought everything you had planned for the next year was a good idea or something.”

“Maybe he’s worried that I’m going to have a breakdown without you there every day.”

“That was not it. He’s asked things like that before. It’s always about how you’re feeling if it’s that. He asked about your plans for the future. It was really weird.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I told him that you didn’t have any plans that I thought were a bad idea.”

“Thanks.”

“Stop worrying,” Jeff says. “If he suspects, and they’re still negotiating with Mashkov, then it’s probably good. Maybe it’s why they’d rather offer him a shorter contract with more money.”

“Because they think I might fuck it up.”

“Because if it doesn’t work out for any reason, they want to protect you first. You’ve never even come out to Alex, so whatever he’s thinking, it’s all a guess. He doesn’t know how serious you are or how long you’ve really been dating. He’s probably not even sure you are dating.”

“You really think he knows? It’s not like he sees me all the time like the guys and the coaches.”

“Mashkov is about to take a three-year contract for less than he’s worth. It’s suspicious. Either he has a good reason for wanting to be in Vegas, or his agent is horrible and needs to be fired. They know they only have Reaper one or two more years. Mashkov is exactly what they need, and they’re getting him for less than he could push for.”

“It’s not like he needs that many millions,” Kent says because it’s easier than thinking about how many millions of dollars Alexei is willing to give up to be with him. It’s not like he’s taking an unfair deal. Just not as much as the Falconers would give him if he pushed. They can pretend that it’s because Alexei’s contract is up and the Aces have Kent locked down longer. They all know it’s because Kent can’t imagine leaving the family he’s made.

“I know. It’ll work out,” Jeff says.

“What if they think having married players is a problem?”

“You’ve both talked to people about this. There’s no real reason it’s worse than having family members on the same team or playing against each other. Technically it’s more risky for you than it is for them. If you break up, they can make you still play with him. If you don’t, but they want to trade him, they can. Women have made it work in various ways. The NHL is just behind.”

***

Kent expects Alexei to call as soon as he gets out of his meeting. He doesn’t expect Alexei to call before he’s even driven away from the practice facility where Alexei and his agent are meeting with management.

“We sign contract,” Alexei says as soon as Kent answers. “Alex say I better be planning to marry you if he take this risk.”

“What?”

“He know. Ask if you come back in and we talk with PR.”

Kent agrees and goes back in. He meets Alexei outside their GM’s office.

“Alex say he want to talk to you before we meet with Janet,” Alexei tells him and nods toward the door.

Kent leans his head in the open door before he goes in.

“Parson, come in. Close the door. Sit down,” Alex says.

Kent follows his instructions even if he’d rather have Alexei in the office with him. He reminds himself that he likes Alex and generally Alex has always liked him. Even when he was nineteen and a mess they had to force into therapy, Alex was never harsh about it. He just said that it was their responsibility to care about his mental health as well as his physical health.

“To be honest,” Alex says. “I don’t know if I would’ve wanted you to tell me before or not. If we officially knew before the contract was signed, it might’ve been a problem. This isn’t something we’ve done before. We had to consult lawyers just in case, but officially, neither of you told us anything until after the contract was signed and there’s not much we can do about it now. It’s not like it’s normal to include in a contract that players can’t have a romantic relationship with each other. I can’t promise you we’ll never trade him. We have to treat him like anyone else. But I think you know he’s not the kind of player who gets traded for no reason.”

Kent nods. He doesn’t really know what to say to that.

“So, Mashkov says you’re planning to rush the wedding?”

“We don’t want to lie to half the team while he’s here. We want to come out and I don’t want to risk him having to go back to Russia. It’s…it’s not good there.”

“I know. I already made sure Janet had time for you today. I hope you knew enough to know you’d have our full support with or without him.”

“Thank you. It means a lot,” Kent says.

“He knows basically the entire staff and team is going to threaten him if he doesn’t treat you right, doesn’t he?”

When Kent groans, Alex just laughs.

“I assume some already have.”

“Too many.”

***

Mills

Between the Aces’ PR and both of their teams of publicists and advisors, they end up setting the wedding for two weeks later. It’s enough time for the Aces to announce Alexei’s signing and for everything to be planned. Kent’s sister surprises him by showing up, and Elena flies in as soon as everything is set.

Kent ends up with Jeff, Reaper, Matty, and Mills on his side and Alexei has Snowy, Jack, Thirdy and Marty. Kent caves and lets Bitty make the cake and a few pies and basically plan the whole reception, but he stops him from making all the food and hires a planner to run things during the reception. There’s a lot of non-disclosure agreements around the entire thing.

Despite all the jokes Mills had to endure in group chat about being the ring bearer—which he thinks Parse would’ve done if he hadn’t objected—Mills is more than happy to stand up at the wedding. Parse is happy. And it’s not a lie when the guys joke about his new step-dad spoiling him rotten. It’s not exactly like that though. He loves Parse completely, but he’s over-protective to an extreme sometimes. Tater is much more chill, and he’s good at making Parse calm down when he starts worrying too much. Maybe it’s stupid to pretend Reaper and Ty and Parse and Tater are his real parents, but it’s easier than thinking of his first set of adoptive parents who missed all their playoff games because they’d rather be in the Hamptons.

His eyes wander to find Cupid’s in the crowd while everyone settles and the two grooms take a minute to look at each other. Cupid looks away when their eyes meet, like he didn’t want to get caught watching Mills.

It’s a quick ceremony. They use standard vows because Tater writing his own vows and trying to say them in English was a stress Tater didn’t want to add to something that was supposed to be happy.

After the food and the first dance, the formality is gone from the crowd in Parse’s backyard. Mills finds Cupid at table. Neither of them have dates. When a wedding is secret and planned in two weeks, inviting dates just to have a date is too risky.

“Hey,” Mills says when he sits down.

“I thought you weren’t going to be weird about it,” Cupid says right away.

“I just said ‘hey.’”

“You have a face.”

You have a face,” Mills says automatically. Seriously, why on earth is Cupid in love with him?

Cupid laughs.

“Want to dance with me?” Mills asks.

“Dude, really?”

“No one will think it means anything. Everyone’s switching around. Shitty has danced with every guy in here. Swoops is dancing with Parse right now.”

“It would mean something to me,” Cupid says.

“I know. It would mean something to me. too.”

“I told you not to get my hopes up,” Cupid says. His face is a mix of anger and hope that just makes Mills want to fix everything.

“I’m not. Or I don’t think I am.” Mills takes his hand because really in this crowd, who cares?

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking,” Mills says. “About you. About me. About how I feel and what I want. I can’t promise I’ll never freak out because there’s only so much I can be sure about without actually doing anything. And I’m not going to go find some random guy to test things with. But I want to try. I love you.”

“Mills, you can’t make yourself gay for me.”

“I’m not. And if I ever decide on a label, it’ll probably be pan. I’m sorry I didn’t figure it out sooner, but I didn’t know that you were an option. So, I think because I didn’t know that, and I wasn’t looking at other guys, I just didn’t think of it. Since things with Jenna ended, I just never felt like finding a new girl. I thought it was because I didn’t want to get hurt again or because I hadn’t met the right girl. I think maybe you were just meeting everything I actually wanted so what was the point?”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. So, will you dance with me?”

***

Kent

“You’re horrible at leading,” Kent says when Jeff almost steps on his foot for the third time.

“I told you that. Mom taught me, and she always leads.”

“Fair, but we’re switching. You’re retired, and my feet are worth a lot more money,” Kent says as he readjusts. He guesses that he’s switched back and forth more than anyone else at this wedding. He learned to lead like most of the guys, but then Mom insisted on dancing with him every Christmas so following is almost easier now. Between their moms and Shitty, gender roles have basically been tossed out of this reception.

“You can teach Krystle to lead for me, right? I’m not going to be better at this by my own wedding.”

“If Mom doesn’t beat me to it.”

Jeff laughs and then cuts off when he sees something over Kent’s shoulder.

“Do I want to know what you’re looking at?” Kent asks.

“Yes, but subtly.”

Kent manages to rotate them without Swoops making them fall over. It’s really a miracle, but it’s worth it to see Mills and Cupid dancing together. If he didn’t know better, he wouldn’t think anything of it. At this point, he’s not only danced with Zimms and Bitty, but half his own team. He suspects Swoops stole him back just so that Reaper could take Alexei for his 300th shovel talk under the guise of dancing.

Cupid catches his eye over Mills’ shoulder and when Kent smiles at him, he ducks away with a small smile. It’s enough to tell Kent that they aren’t just dancing together because all the other guys have been doing it.

“I should probably be more worried about team drama than I am,” Kent whispers.

“You’re a romantic. Admit it,” Jeff says.

“It’s my wedding. I think I’m supposed to have all these feelings at my own wedding.”

The song ends, and Mills and Cupid break apart. Mills turns to go in the house while Cupid walks back to their table.

“Don’t be too hard on him,” Jeff says as Kent turns to follow Cupid.

“Seriously? I don’t think he’d even believe me if I tried.”

“So. You and Mills are working things out,” Kent says in a low voice as he sits down by Cupid.

“I didn’t even know he was thinking about it until two minutes ago. Did you?”

“I knew he was questioning. Neither of us wanted to get your hopes up before he’d sorted out how he really felt.”

Cupid nods and looks back toward the house. Kent laughs.

“You waited two years. He can wait an extra minute for you to sneak off after him. If you’re hooking up, just keep it in his room. There’s a box of condoms in the cabinet of my bathroom.”

“Seriously, Parse? We’re just going to talk about it. We haven’t even kissed again. Why do you think you need to give us condoms already?”

“Because you already had an orgy in my hot tub?”

“I hate you so much. We’re not going to hook up in your house during your wedding reception.”

“You love me. And if I don’t get another chance to say it, please text me if you guys need to talk. Tell Mills.”

“You’re going to be on your honeymoon.”

“I said text me. I didn’t say I’d stop in the middle of sex to answer you.”

“Can I go now?”

Kent laughs and waves him off.

***

Cupid

Cupid finds Mills in the bedroom he claimed as his when Parse declared that Mills was his rookie whether he lived with Reaper most of the time or not. Mills stands up as Cupid closes the door behind him. He looks nervous. Like he really thought Cupid was going to just leave him there because he took an extra minute to come inside.

“Sorry. Parse saw us and cornered me so he could be embarrassing.”

“Do I even want to know what he said?” Mills asks.

“Definitely not.”

Cupid steps closer to him but stops before they’re actually touching.

“Are you really sure about this?” he asks.

“Yeah,” Mills says. “Well, as sure as I can be.”

“And what if we start this, and you get to the part where I have a dick and want to stop?” Cupid asks. Before Mills can answer he adds, “I mean, then you stop. Obviously, I don’t care how much it hurts me, if you want to stop, I want you to stop.”

“I know. I know. And I might want to go slow, and I’m not sure I’ll like everything. But I’m sure I’m not turned off by you.”

“How are you even sure about that?”

It’s unfair that blushing isn’t really a thing for Mills, but Cupid knows him well enough to read the shy look on his face. Still, Mills takes a deep breath and answers even if his words are quiet.

“I’ve thought about it. You, I mean. While, you know…”

“You thought about me while you jacked off?” Cupid doesn’t mean for it to sound like an accusation. He’s definitely thought about Mills often enough that he has no right to be bothered. And he’s not. Well, not in a bad way.

“It was an accident the first time. Then, you know, I was trying to figure things out.” Mills shrugs and keeps his eyes on the floor until Cupid walks closer and puts his hand on Mills’ cheek so he can tilt Mills’ face up to look at him.

“And it just didn’t turn you off or it turned you on?”

Mills looks back at him for a few seconds before answering.

“I had to rip your picture out of the Aces calendar because I can’t enjoy it if it’s that close to Parse.”

Cupid laughs. Once he realizes that Cupid isn’t laughing at him, Mills laughs too. Mills loves him. Mills wants him.

“Can I kiss you?” Cupid asks. He needs to be sure. He needs to know Mills wants it.

“Yes. Finally.”

It’s so much better than their first kiss. This time, Mills clutches his dress shirt and pulls him closer. His hands wander over Cupid’s back and chest like he’s reminding himself who he’s kissing. Cupid told himself he was going to take it slow and not get carried away, but after a minute of having Mills’ tongue in his mouth, he decides that he’s allowed to be over-eager after waiting years for this. When Mills breaks away to catch his breath, Cupid mouths down his throat and pushes aside his dress shirt to get to his neck. The plus side of it being the off season is that if he accidentally makes a mark, they won’t be in the locker room for anyone to see.

“Fuck, fuck,” Mills moans and pulls him closer before gasping. “Fuck. Sorry. I need, fuck, I need to slow down.”

Cupid pulls back, but Mills tightens his arms around Cupid’s waist to keep him from going away. He snuggles closers and buries his face in Cupid’s neck, so Cupid holds him instead.

“Don’t apologize,” Mills says into Cupid’s neck as Cupid starts to do just that. “You didn’t do anything wrong. Seriously. I’m definitely not straight. How are you so good at this if you’re practically a virgin? I needed to stop because I’m not going to hump your leg until I come in my pants at Parse’s wedding. And that is definitely where I was headed.”

“I’m not a virgin. You should know that because you were there,” Cupid says, but he laughs and kisses the top of Mills head. He’s too happy to be upset about anything at all right now.

“Ugh. Don’t remind me. I could’ve totally taken your virginity for myself if I wasn’t so clueless.”

“Pretty sure we still have enough firsts for each other.” For one thing, while the making out was amazing, getting to hold Mills like this is just as good. Mills has always been a cuddly guy to the point where Cupid couldn’t decide if it was torture or not, but this is so much better.

“Yeah.” Mills sighs and snuggles closer for a moment before releasing him and stepping back.

“We should probably get back downstairs. I told Parse directing me to the condoms was overkill and if we don’t go downstairs, he’s not going to believe us.”

***

Kent

They kick everyone out early enough to have sex on their wedding night because Kent refuses to be that person who just goes to bed. Lying in bed with Alexei, Kent can’t help smiling. Everything is going to blow up for them tomorrow, but he’s too happy to worry about that yet.

“I thought I’d be scared,” Kent whispers with his head on Alexei’s chest. “I always thought I’d be so scared when I had to come out. I thought maybe I’d even wait until I retired. But I don’t even care right now. Are you scared?”

“A little,” Alexei admits in the dark. “Other Russian players that don’t know may not like. Is nice Rushupkin already know. But is worth it. And not your fault. Was always gay. Being with you make better. Easier.”

“I love you,” Kent says because there isn’t much else to say.

“Love you, too. You family now. And we try to sponsor Elena so she can be here.”

***

When they come downstairs the next day, Bitty has already made enough brunch for the small group coming over in the morning. They go through the pictures they all have from the day before. The professional pictures won’t be back for a while, but the personal ones seem better for this anyway. Zimms has the best ones. Kent picks one that Zimms took of their foreheads pressed together after their first kiss. Alexei picks one Jack took during their first dance.

The plan is that he and Alexei will post at the same time right before they get on the plane for their honeymoon. Jeff, Reaper, Zimms, Mills and the Aces’ official account will post their support shortly after. That’ll be everyone else’s cue to post their support whenever they want. Everyone has had their posts checked in advance by the head of Aces’ PR and Kent and Tater’s publicists. Apparently, Janet has been putting a plan in place for years and just wanted to double check a few things with the You Can Play team now that it’s happening. Mostly all the guys should be fine, but they don’t want anyone to accidently say anything they have to take back when so much attention will be on them.

Kent accepts long hugs from everyone before they finally get in Jeff’s car to go to the airport. Kent’s probably being paranoid about wanting to stay in the country, but he tells himself that Hawaii is a reasonable place to go for their honeymoon anyway.

Jeff hugs him a long time at the airport. He’s leaving with Krystle in a couple hours to finally take the trip to Aruba that Kent promised him months ago.

“It’ll be fine. We’ve all got your backs. Wear sunscreen or you’re going to hate yourself.”

“Okay Dad, seriously,” Kent says laughing and pushes him away.

After they’re already seated in first class, Kent loads the picture he picked on his phone and stares at it before clicking through to paste the caption into Instagram.

Married the love of my life yesterday. Thank you to all our friends and teammates for their support. Thank you to the Aces for not getting mad when we only gave them a week warning about this! ; )
#Patater #youcanplay #GoAces #gaypride Photo credit: @JackZimmermanOfficial

He looks at Alexei to find Alexei looking back at him.

“Ready?” Alexei asks. Kent nods and reaches for his hand. They post the pictures together. That’s it. They’re the first out NHL players.