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A Sure Thing

Chapter Text

Patrick gets the call a little past noon on Friday. He's just finished working out at the gym and takes his phone out of his locker for a quick check to see if Julie's got an appointment set up for him that evening; there's nothing from her or the agency, but he's surprised to see that he's got seven missed calls, all from an unknown number. Huh. He knows it's probably one of his clients, but the few who do have his business number usually don't bother calling this many times when a text suffices for what they need.

He's still looking at his phone when it starts buzzing in his hand, lighting up with the unknown number again. Whoever this is, Patrick thinks, is clearly desperate to get hold of him.

"Hey, this is Patrick," he says, pitching his voice low and sultry. It's always wise to sound sexy around potential business, even though he's uncomfortably sweaty and all he really wants is to get into the shower and peel his soaked clothes off.

"Hi, Patrick?" a deep voice says. "This is, uh, Jonny. Jonathan Toews. We - met last week, if you remember."

Jonathan Toews. Patrick remembers him all right - how could he not? He remembers being stunned when he stepped into the hotel room and was greeted by the Blackhawks captain; he counts several Chicago politicians and minor celebrities in his clientele, but Toews was probably the last person on earth he'd think would require his services. He remembers Toews was good with his mouth, and his hands, and, well, everything else. Nice guy, too. Called a cab for him, walked him out of the hotel to where the cab was waiting, sent him off with a thousand-dollar tip and a surprisingly sweet kiss.

The tip was what made Patrick give Toews his namecard with his business cell number. He likes giving the high rollers direct access to him, and that way he gets to keep the payments entirely to himself without the agency taking their twenty per cent cut.

As for saying they met - that's a polite way of putting it, Patrick thinks, when what really happened was that Toews made a booking with his agency, they sent Patrick, Toews spent three hours fucking his brains out, and paid for the privilege of doing it.

But he really had been nice, and actually kind of - gentlemanly about it all, so -

"Of course I remember you," Patrick says, letting his voice turn warm and soft. "I had a great time meeting you."

"Uh, well, yes," Toews says, and Patrick hears the catch in his voice. He frowns. The Jonathan Toews he'd been with last week had been confident and self-assured, knew exactly what he wanted and how he wanted it; it's miles apart from the strangely hesitant, uncertain way Toews is speaking now.

"Is something wrong?" Patrick asks.

There's a pause that stretches so long that Patrick speaks again. "Mr. Toews? Are you still there?"

"Listen, I'm really sorry if I'm intruding on your time," Toews says. His words come out in a rush, and yeah, there definitely seems to be something up with the man. "But - I really need to meet you right now. Do you have time?"

"I - well, yes," Patrick says, "but - "

"Good, great, fantastic," Toews says distractedly. "Where are you? I'll send a Lyft for you."

"Mr. Toews, wait a minute," Patrick says. "I have - there are terms we need to discuss before you can expect me to go rushing off to you."

"Terms?" Toews repeats. "What do you - oh. Oh. Fuck, no, I'm not asking to meet you for - that. This is something else, but it's very urgent. Please, I really need to speak with you, face to face."

And - what the fuck. Patrick's mind flashes onto all kinds of unpleasant possibilities as to why Toews would need to meet him this urgently when it's not for sex. What is he even playing at? Patrick doesn't think Toews is like, a murderer or something, not someone as high profile as he is, but still.

"If it's just to talk, you can tell me over the phone."

"No - listen, I'll pay you," Toews says. "Same amount I paid last week - that's fine for you, right? I just - we need to talk, and I can't tell you over the phone."

"Let me just - get this straight," Patrick says. "You want to pay me my usual rate - just to talk?"

Toews sighs audibly down the phone, and Patrick suddenly realises how - tired he sounds, his voice a little scratchy. "Yes," he says. "Please."

As if Patrick's going to turn down money for not having sex; and well, sex is only part of his job, after all. There are some clients who book him for doing nothing more than being their arm candy at a dinner gala sometimes, no sex involved. Besides, he's kind of curious now to know what got Toews this worked up. "Where?"

"Uh, my home," Toews says. "Just so we can have some - privacy."

Okay, Patrick thinks, this is really weird now. Why would Toews want privacy if he doesn't intend to fuck Patrick? Unless - okay, yeah, male escort, wouldn't do at all for the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks to be publicly seen in his company, he guesses. Not that a random passerby is going to know Patrick's an escort, obviously, but maybe Toews is one of those men who think they're too good to be seen with Patrick in the light of day. God knows he's met enough of them, the ones who are glad enough to paw at Patrick in darkened hotel rooms, and then turn the other way if he happens to run across them in a restaurant.

Patrick's been in the business too long to feel any kind of disappointment at the shit men do, but he'd thought Toews was a nice guy. Maybe he'd been wrong. He's usually not wrong; he's learned to trust his gut about people, but there's always a first time for everything.

"I charge a higher price for house calls," he says slowly. If Toews is going to be a dick about him, he might as well upsell himself, charge him more. It's not like Toews can't afford it.

"Okay," Toews says immediately, as if he doesn't even need to think about it. "Can I - could you just give me an address, for a car to pick you up?"

Patrick gives him the name and address of his gym, and then says, "Give me twenty minutes, I need to shower. I just finished a workout."

"Of course," Toews says. "I'm really sorry I interrupted your day. And - thank you for agreeing to meet me. I appreciate it."

There's Mr. Nice Guy again. Honestly, Patrick's getting confused. Is Toews a jerk or a nice dude? He has no idea right now.

"Sure," is all he says in response.

---

"Thanks so much for coming, really," Toews says when he buzzes Patrick up to his apartment, relief evident on his face alongside the signs of strain: dark circles and frown lines around his eyes.

Toews lives in a swanky, luxurious condo building in the Gold Coast; of course he would live in a place like this, Patrick thinks. He remembers reading in one of those gossip sites a few months ago that the building was newly built and that Toews had spent seven million on a three-bedroom apartment in it. He certainly hadn't thought he'd be here one day.

The view is great, though, with floor to ceiling wraparound windows overlooking the lake. Patrick gazes out, staring at the wide expanse of blue waters and equally blue skies. He wonders how it feels to live in a place like this, to have millions just to splurge on a view.

Toews is walking past him into the open-concept kitchen. It's very modern, all stainless steel and chrome, with pale grey granite countertops that match the huge island in the middle. There's a Macbook open on the island, and some papers scattered around it. "Do you want a drink?" he asks. "I've got wine, beer, grapefruit juice, kombucha - "

"Kombucha would be nice," Patrick says.

Toews gets him a bottle out of the fridge; it's one of the good brands too, more expensive than the stuff Patrick usually buys.

"Thanks," Patrick says, and watches as Toews settles himself on one of the high stools at his island, in front of his Macbook. He's wearing a tank top, and his biceps bulge visibly when he lifts himself onto the stool with his palms flat on the island. Patrick remembers the strength in those arms and how it had felt when Toews lifted his hips bodily off the bed like Patrick weighed nothing, and -

Nope. That's not a road Patrick wants to go down right now.

"Have a seat," Toews says, nodding at the stool next to him.

"So," Patrick says carefully as he climbs up and swivels the stool around to face Toews, "is something wrong, Mr. Toews? To be honest, if you had an issue with me, you could have provided your feedback to my agency, and - "

"Oh - no, it's not that at all," Toews says. "I had - no issues with you at all. It was really - yeah, it was good. You were great."

"Okay," Patrick says, dragging the vowels out. "If that's the case - what exactly is wrong?"

Jonny sighs and scrubs his hand down his face. He's got some scruff going on today; he'd been clean shaven that night last week. It doesn't detract from his good looks. "Okay, well, the reason I asked you to meet me here and talk is because of - this."

He tilts his laptop towards Patrick as he speaks; it's open to a page on Barstool Sports. The headline blares in stark black letters: Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is GAY. Below that is a picture of Toews - and himself, Patrick realises with a start. It's dark in the picture, but it was taken from fairly close by, and it's clear enough that neither Toews' nor Patrick's faces can be hidden. Patrick recognises it right away; it was in front of the hotel he'd met Toews at, when they were done and Toews was walking him out to the cab. Toews has his arm around Patrick's waist, and when Patrick reaches out to the laptop and scrolls down, there are more pictures. They've even captured a picture of Toews and him kissing just before Toews put him in the cab.

Patrick skims the rest of the article quickly; the first line says Jonathan Toews was spotted last Wednesday evening canoodling with a mystery male companion outside the Waldorf Astoria Chicago…, and further down, he catches the words "scandal" and "gay", helpfully repeated several times throughout the article.

The last damning paragraph says: We hear from a source that Blackhawks brass are furious at Toews for the scandal. Does that mean Toews will be on the trade block soon, with the deadline coming up on February 25? We'd think Chicago would never trade its two-time Stanley Cup winning captain, but there's no doubt the front office will be hopping mad about all of this, and looking to shut down the bad publicity by any means possible.

Well, shit.

Patrick lifts his eyes to Toews; he's looking kind of - embarrassed, actually. Sure, Patrick thinks with some resignation. He's embarrassed about me, and he's going to offer me money to keep my mouth shut about sleeping with him, and -

"First off, I just want to say that I'm really sorry I got you involved in this," Toews begins. "It's not fair to you, because you're not - I mean, you were doing your job, and it was pure shitty luck that you were with me, and now your face is going to be all over gossip sites, and I'm sorry about that."

Wait, what? Patrick blinks at him. That was unexpected.

"The second thing is - well, obviously this thing is going to blow up - has blown up, and the front office - they are pretty mad at me."

Patrick frowns. "For you being gay, or for you fucking an escort?" he asks bluntly, throwing off all semblance of being mannerly or nice. Fuck Jonathan Toews if he's going to put the blame on Patrick for this, when he was the one who'd called an escort agency.

"Okay - shit, I'm going about this all wrong," Toews says, an edge of frustration creeping into his voice. "They know I'm gay. It's - "

"Okay, yeah, so it's because you fucked an escort, got it," Patrick says, flinging the words at Jonny with as much viciousness as he can muster.

"No, not really," Toews says. "I mean, the organisation knows I'm gay, but the public doesn't - and well, that's why I, uh, would call for such services. Because people didn't know, and I needed to be discreet. But they sure as hell know now that I'm gay, and that in itself has blown up enough but - look, it's not your fault. I know it isn't. I was the one who called for you, and I was going to own up to that publicly so you wouldn't be harassed - "

And now Patrick's stunned again.

He doesn't know how his face must look, but Toews pauses, and adds, "I'm not judging you, okay? I wouldn't do that - hell, I'm the one who booked an escort, you're doing nothing except making an honest living. I promise, I don't - I would never judge you for your job. You've done nothing wrong."

"Uh, okay," Patrick says slowly, wondering what Toews is going to say next. Everything that comes out of his mouth is a surprise to Patrick right now.

"The thing is, the Blackhawks - and I feel like I need to apologize to you for this - don't exactly, uh, feel the way I do. I'm sorry," he says quickly. "Essentially, the main thing they want to do is to contain the scandal - and these are their words, not mine - and they think they can spin the gay thing into a positive narrative, but they don't want anyone finding out that their captain is, uh, booking escorts. So - "

He trails off and rubs his hand over the back of his neck, looking embarrassed. There's a slight flush high on his cheeks.

"So I need you to uh, pretend to be my boyfriend, and kind of - go along with it for a couple of months, and then have an amicable breakup with me," Toews says, his words tumbling out in a rush. He puts air quotes around 'amicable', and despite his head reeling, Patrick finds that stupidly endearing in the dorkiest way possible. "Honestly, if it was up to me, I wouldn't want to put this on you, but the organisation thinks this is the best way to defuse most of the worst parts of the situation. And - I mean, I know this is asking a lot, but it really would help me if you agreed to it, and I'll pay you. Obviously. Two months of work, and all you need to do is move into my condo so it looks like we're really living together, go out with me sometimes, hold hands in public, stuff like that. Nothing else. I'll pay whatever you ask for."

And - holy shit. Holy shit. Patrick's head is spinning.

"Like I said, I intended to own up to all of this," Toews says, sweeping his arm out in a vague gesture that Patrick takes to mean 'paying for the use of your hot body', "but the Blackhawks are strongly against it. I don't care about what people think of me, but - they're right in a sense, it'll reflect badly on them as an organisation. And I can't - do that to them. I hope you understand."

Patrick wets his lips, trying to think. God, why is it so hard to think right now? Too many bombshells, he thinks abruptly, and has to work to suppress a bubble of hysterical laughter rising in his throat.

Only he and his life would end up like this.

But - as he stares at Toews' hopeful, anxious face - he's beginning to think it might not be as bad as he thinks. He looks around, just to break the intense eye contact Toews is holding with him, and takes in the luxurious surroundings of the condo with all the blond wood and marble, the amazing entertainment system setup in the living room in front of a gorgeous sectional which looks wonderfully wide and soft, and that breathtaking lake view.

Two months of living here. Two months of pretending to be Toews' boyfriend and getting paid for it. And really, it's not that different from what he's doing now, is it? He gets paid to have dinner and dance with men, with sex thrown in.

But Toews had said -

"You said we're going to just - pretend to live together? And go out on dates? And - nothing else?" he asks.

"Nothing else," Toews says firmly. "I'm paying you because I know I'm asking for a big favour, for you to help me out like this. Not because you're - what you do."

Patrick bites his lip and looks down at his hands. He's rubbing his fingers together; it's a nervous tic, he knows, and he makes himself stop, forces himself to place his hands on his knees instead.

"How - how much are you going to pay?" he asks slowly.

"Whatever you ask for," Toews replies immediately.

Patrick swallows against the little knot of bitterness swelling in the back of his throat. It must be nice, he thinks, to have this much money to throw at all your problems.

"Really? Just like that? You don't even - I could ask for all of your money. I could ask for ten million."

Toews shakes his head ruefully. "And I'd deserve it if you did, because this was my mistake. But - and I don't think I'm wrong here - you don't seem like that kind of person."

Patrick barks out an incredulous laugh. "You don't even know me. You met me once, and let's be honest, we weren't doing a lot of talking that night."

Toews just shrugs. "I've learned to go with my gut when it comes to people."

And that - that really resonates with something in Patrick, actually. Going with his gut, trusting his instincts - that's how he's been able to protect himself in this business.

He turns Toews' offer over in his head again one more time. It's tempting, he can't deny that. Two months of work that's barely even any work at all, and he could have enough money to pay off the remainder of Erica's and Jess' tuition costs, maybe even enough to set aside in a fund for Jackie, when it's her turn to go to college. And then he can actually quit escorting, get a normal job -

He does some quick mental calculations and makes up his mind; then he's surprised at how quickly he's actually decided on this.

But it's good, easy money, and he needs it. The girls need it.

"A hundred and fifty thousand," Patrick says out loud; that should be enough, and if it's not, it'll still go a long way towards the girls' education. Enough that he won't have to work at escorting for much longer. He watches Toews' face closely as he speaks, waiting to see if he'll balk at the sum, if he'll try to bargain it down -

"That's fine," Toews says right away; Patrick can see his shoulders, held taut throughout their whole conversation, sag visibly with relief. Damn. He really wasn't kidding about how much he needed Patrick's help for this. Patrick thinks about the Blackhawks, about how much pressure they must be applying on Toews over this, that Barstool article mentioning their fury, and guesses that he can maybe understand why Toews needs to do this.

"I want half now and half at the end of two months," Patrick says; he can play nice with Toews, but he's not stupid.

For the first time, Toews narrows his eyes at him. "And then how do I know you're not just going to take seventy-five grand from me and walk out?" he asks, and - yeah, okay, Patrick can get where he's coming from on that.

"I'll sign a contract, if you get it drawn up," he says.

Toews nods. "Fair enough. I can get my lawyers on it now. And - "

He stands up and holds his hand out to Patrick; Patrick stares at it dumbly.

"Thank you," Toews says, and he looks and sounds so formal that Patrick finds himself dumbstruck for a moment at the juxtaposition of Toews in his tank top and sweatpants, waiting for a handshake like they've just completed an official business deal - which, in a sense, they kind of have. He reaches out and grasps Toews' hand; it feels just like he remembers, firm solid grip, calloused from hockey, strong thick fingers that felt good on his bare skin.

"I really do appreciate your help," Toews adds. "I hope you know that."

Patrick shrugs uncomfortably. "Hey, you need help and I need money. Win-win."

Toews gives him a strained sort of smile. "Here's to our shiny new relationship," he says, sardonic, and pumps Patrick's hand twice before letting it go.

It's not exactly how Patrick imagined himself getting a new boyfriend, but he'll take it for a hundred and fifty grand, thank you very much.

Chapter Text

"This just sounds - wrong to me," Erica says.

Patrick sighs into the phone where it's cradled between his cheek and shoulder. "It's a huge sum of money, Erica. This would really help all of us." He looks distractedly between his open suitcase on the bed and the clothes in his closet; two months, Toews had said. Or Jonny - he'd told Patrick to call him that. "Can't have you calling me by my last name when we're out together," he'd said, a hint of a smile playing about his mouth. It was the first time Patrick had seen him smile since he stepped into his condo that afternoon.

"Yes, but for what, acting as a rich man's pet boytoy?" Erica argues. "Getting your face splashed all over Chicago as Jonathan Toews' new boyfriend, maybe getting abuse for it? Hockey fans aren't that progressive yet."

The stress of this wild, crazy day is already closing in on Patrick like a thick choking fog; Erica's incessant questions are the final straw that tips him over the edge.

"What do you think I've been doing the past couple of years?" Patrick snaps. "I've been those pet boytoys for a whole lot of rich men. I've been getting abuse from people I thought were my friends and then decided they didn't want to talk to me anymore once they found out about my job. I'm used to this shit! At least Toews doesn't expect me to spread my legs for him for money!"

He feels bad almost the moment he stops talking; he doesn't mean to snap at his sister, or say things this bluntly to her, but his head is pounding, and today - it's been a hell of a day.

"Uh, he already did that," Erica points out. She's being unreasonably reasonable, Patrick thinks, sullen. "You're going to be living with him - how do you know he's not going to expect more from you than just having you on his arm on your fake dates outside? Or worse - what if he forces you? Patty - "

"It's in our contract," Patrick says stubbornly. He doesn't actually know what's in the contract yet, but Toews - Jonny, dammit, Jonny - had said it would be ready for him once he was done packing up what he needed from his apartment. But what Erica says still sends a cold prickle of dread down his spine; Jonny had seemed to be very clear about what he needed, and that it wasn't sex, but what if -

"You'll be totally at his mercy once you're living with him," Erica says. She's not wrong either, Patrick knows.

"But he's at mine, too," Patrick counters. God, he hopes he's right about this, and about Jonny. "I'm in on this whole charade too, remember? I'm the main character, even. I could ruin him, and he knows this."

"God," Erica says, and she sounds so drained and miserable that Patrick has to stop his obsessive clothes folding to sit down on the bed and clutch the edge of it, just so he won't give in to the urge to - go running back to Buffalo, to hug her and Jess and Jackie. "Patty - I hate that you have to do this. I really fucking hate it."

Patrick takes a deep breath. "I know," he says. "But it's just two months. And then I won't have to do this anymore. Not just being Toews' fake boyfriend - all of this. I can stop escorting. I can come home."

"I just hope things work out as well as you seem to think they will," Erica says miserably. "And - I hate that we made you do this. That you had to do this to get money for us - "

"Stop," Patrick says right away. "You didn't make me do anything - this isn't your fault, none of it. Mom and Dad's accident - that wasn't caused by any of us, it wasn't in our control. I made my own choice to support you girls through school, and I'm going to get it done."

"Yes, but I hate it so much that you - you have to do what you do," Erica says. Patrick can hear from the raw shakiness in her voice that means she's going to cry, and fuck, fuck, now tears are welling up in his eyes too. "I worry about you all the time, you know that? I worry if you'll meet someone awful, who'll hurt you, or - I don't even know. And I can't tell Jess or Jackie anything about what you're doing, and it's like - every day I just wonder if you're okay, if you're hurt. Patty, you can't do this much longer."

"Exactly," Patrick says. His voice is all scratchy now, fuck, and Erica's going to know he's crying too. "And that's why I took up Toews' offer. So I don't have to do this anymore. I've already told my agency I'm taking a break for a couple of months, and after this, I'll be able to quit entirely."

He's told Erica over and over about how his agency is a good, reputable one which screens out potentially risky clients, and bars any man who doesn't abide by their rules, but he knows she can't help worrying about him. He gets it. Even knowing what he does about his agency and their vetting processes, he still gets that spike of dread and fear each time he goes to a new hotel, meets a new client. Because you just never know if this day in your job could be your last, especially if you're entertaining wealthy, powerful men who can make you disappear without it being any more than a blip on anyone's radar.

But Jonny - he doesn't know why he thinks so, but Jonny seems like a man who'd keep to his word. A genuinely good person, and Patrick hasn't met that many of those.

"I hope you're right," Erica says. "I love you, Patty. Call me if - if anything's wrong, okay? Please? And then come home when this is done."

"I will," Patrick says softly. "Love you too. Just two months."

---

"Thank you," Jonny says again, for like the - fifth? Sixth? Time, since Patrick came back to his condo with his bags and things. He almost wants to tell Jonny to stop it, but the earnest gratitude on his face each time he looks at Patrick makes him keep his mouth shut.

They've gone through the contract, which had been quickly drawn up by the Blackhawks legal team and Jonny's agent. A hundred and fifty thousand for two months, as agreed, half to be paid now and the rest at the end. Jonny to cover all of Patrick's living expenses during the period while he lives in Jonny's condo, including the rental on his own apartment - a tiny, shitty one that he's not at all regretful about leaving behind for eight weeks - all his food, clothes, entertainment. Patrick to accompany Jonny for any Blackhawks or PR event where Jonny has to appear with a plus one. And at least a couple of public appearances together each week, so they can be photographed with each other as much as possible.

There's nothing in the document that mentions sex, or anything else Patrick needs to provide, so Patrick guesses he can at least point to that to deny Jonny anything sexual, if Jonny ever brings it up.

He watches Jonny now, as Jonny adds his signature to the document, and his initial on every page, next to Patrick's. When Jonny puts his pen down and slides the papers into an envelope, Patrick gets the strangest feeling that he's signed his life away to something very, very important. Not a bad feeling, but just - weird. Like this contract means something, somehow, in a way that the numerous NDAs he's signed throughout his time escorting pales into comparison against.

He gives himself a little mental shake to clear his head.

"And - here," Jonny says, looking up at him. He maintains eye contact as he slides something across to Patrick, a little rectangle of paper.

It's a check made out to him. For seventy-five thousand dollars.

The check feels like it's burning hot in his hands. Jonny really did it. He really means to do this with Patrick. He kept his word.

"Thanks," he manages to mumble, as he forces himself to look away from Jonny, folding the check into two with shaky hands, and tucking it into his shirt pocket. The first chance he gets, he's banking that into his account and paying off half their debts. That tense knot of anxiety that's been sitting in the pit of his stomach all day loosens up a little; he exhales slowly, and it makes him feel like he's been holding his breath for hours.

"So," Jonny says, standing up and rubbing his hand over his neck awkwardly, "I've got to drop the papers off with my lawyer, but before I go - I can show you around the apartment, tell you where things are and all that?"

Patrick eyes his bags, dumped in the middle of the living room floor. "Sure," he says. He's moving towards them to pick them up; but Jonny gets there first, and hefts them both in his hands like they're nothing more than feathers. He's still in the tank top he was in earlier, and his biceps flex as he lifts the bags.

Okay, so Jonny's hot, but Patrick's not blind. He'd thought Jonny was hot even before the fateful night Jonny booked him; he's lived in Chicago long enough to catch a few games, see Jonny's face all over TV and magazines in the city. But he really needs to quit checking Jonny's body out each time he flexes, or the next two months living with him is going to be long and awkward as hell.

"This way," Jonny says, apparently not noticing the inner conflict going on within Patrick.

Patrick's kind of resigned himself to sharing a bed with Jonny while he's here - there's still a part of him that doesn't quite believe Jonny's not going to ask to fuck him while they're playing at being boyfriends - but the bedroom that Jonny leads him to is not really big enough to be the master bedroom, even though it still has that gorgeous lake view. It's nicely furnished, like the rest of the apartment, with a large queen bed, soft rugs, and a couple of art pieces hung on the walls; but there are no personal items in here, no photos of Jonny or any framed hockey memorabilia. When Jonny slides open the door of the closet - built-in, Patrick notices, not a walk-in like he'd expect - it's completely bare and empty.

"It's a guest room," Jonny explains when Patrick turns to look at him quizzically. "You can use it while you're here. It does have an ensuite bathroom, so you'll have all the privacy you need."

"You - oh," Patrick says softly. A guest bedroom. Not Jonny's bedroom.

Jonny looks at him, understanding dawning on his face. "My bedroom's down the passageway, right at the end," he says. "And I told you - we're just going to be dating. Or pretending to be dating, whatever. I'm not expecting anything else, and you're already doing me a huge favour."

Patrick swallows. "I wasn't thinking of - anything else," he lies. The look on Jonny's face tells him he's not buying it, but he bites his lip and says nothing else, and thankfully Jonny lets it slide.

"Anyway, yeah," Jonny says eventually after a long pause, "this will be your room. You can unpack whenever you want, and - if you need toiletries or anything like that, you can write a list, and I can grab them when I go out later. Obviously all of this happened so fast I didn't have time to stock up your bathroom." He grins at Patrick, a little sheepish, and despite himself Patrick musters a small smile at him. At least Jonny's trying, he thinks. He's trying to be nice, and make this comfortable for Patrick, and the least Patrick can do is be civil in return.

Jonny drops the bags in the closet, and leads the way back out. He shows Patrick the third room, which has been converted into a home gym with state-of-the-art equipment, and tells Patrick he can use it whenever he wants.

The attached bathroom for the gym has a sauna. An actual infrared sauna built into it. Holy shit. No wonder Jonny sank seven million into this place, with all these customisations.

"You have full use of all of this obviously; you know I'm not home much, with games and practices and road trips, so, you know, have fun in the sauna, make use of it as much as you want," Jonny's saying, apparently unaware that Patrick's staring at it with his mouth gaping open. A sauna in your home. Patrick still can't wrap his mind around this level of luxury, or the fact that he gets to live here, even if it's just for a short while. "Oh, and there's an indoor pool in the basement of the building; I've never used it, but you can."

He's heading out to the kitchen as he speaks, and Patrick follows him, still feeling kind of dazed; he points out to Patrick where the dinnerware and cutlery and cups are kept, lets Patrick check out the contents of the fridge, and reminds him that if he needs anything, all he has to do is let Jonny know.

"Whatever you want; just remember I'm covering your living expenses, so don't worry about asking for something you need," Jonny's saying, while Patrick's still trying to absorb all of this, the knowledge that he can ask for whatever he wants, and Jonny's actually legally obligated to provide all of it. "This is going to be your home for the next couple of months, after all - I'd really like you to treat it as such and make yourself at home, you know?"

"I - I'll try," Patrick says, and gets another small smile from Jonny in return.

"Okay, so, I'm going to get changed and go over to my lawyer's - in the meantime, think about what you'll need me to get, just text me your list while I'm out, okay?"

Jonny's disappearing into his bedroom as he speaks, shutting the door behind him with a click; but as Patrick stares at the closed door, an idea begins to take shape in his head.

He waits till Jonny opens it and comes back out; he's wearing jeans and a thin, flimsy white t-shirt, far too thin for February, Patrick thinks, trying not to stare at the way the shirt is stretched over Jonny's shoulders and pecs. But then Jonny reaches for a coat that's been flung carelessly over the sofa, and Patrick relaxes a little. At least Jonny's not entirely crazy.

"See you later," Jonny says. "I'll leave an extra set of keys here for you. And I can get dinner for us on my way back. Do you like Japanese? There's a great sushi place - "

"Wait," Patrick blurts out, and Jonny stops talking. "I thought maybe I could - "

"Yeah?" Jonny asks, looking a little wary. Patrick realises Jonny doesn't trust him a hundred per cent yet, but that's okay. He's not trusting Jonny entirely either. But he hopes the idea that's just sprung up in his head is going to go some way to helping them both with that.

"I was thinking I could go with you," Patrick says slowly. "If we're going to do this - we might as well start now. Give the people what they're looking for, am I right?"

Jonny looks a little stunned. "Now? Really? I mean, I thought you might want to stay in and rest, or something - it's been a crazy day."

"Yeah, it has," Patrick agrees, "so what's one more bit of craziness at the end of the day, right? I'll come with you. You can drive to your lawyers first and give them those papers, and then take me to dinner. It'll be our first date."

"Are you sure you're ready for this?" Jonny asks carefully. "You know, the news about me just broke, so it'll probably be pretty bad out there. Lots of people taking photographs, maybe bothering us. It's okay if you want to lay low for a few days, and start being seen with me later. You didn't sign up for that sort of harassment."

"Except I actually did," Patrick says, pointing with his chin at the envelope in Jonny's hand; Jonny at least has the grace to look embarrassed. "It's fine, really. I'll be fine. I know how to handle myself. And besides - you have to admit, it'll look a lot more plausible, if we act like we're not - ashamed of each other, if we go out together as much as we can and behave like a happy couple, instead of me hiding away and you breaking me out only at PR-organised events."

Jonny seems to consider it for a moment, and then he finally nods, his jaw set. "Yeah. Okay. You do make sense."

"I know I do," Patrick says, and despite himself, he can't help smiling at Jonny. He's nervous, his hands a little shaky from the adrenaline coursing through his body, but by god, he's going to do his best for this and earn that money the right way.

Jonny smiles back, and it's a real smile this time, a warm, wide one that makes his eyes crinkle, and Patrick finds himself just that little bit less nervous after that.

---

There's an audible hush the moment Jonny and Patrick stroll into the sushi restaurant Jonny had mentioned earlier, the diners' conversations stilling to a few seconds of stunned silence before the buzz of chatter resumes, louder than before. Patrick's very conscious of the eyes on them as they're led to their table, even a couple of distinctive clicking sounds from a phone camera or two.

He makes sure to hold his head high. Next to him, Jonny gives his hand a reassuring squeeze, their fingers interlocked, and Patrick holds on tight until they're at their table and he can slide gratefully into the seat Jonny pulls out for him.

"You okay?" Jonny asks him quietly over the menu, once their waiter has stepped away. Most people seem to have turned back to their food now, but Patrick can still see out of the corner of his eye where some of them still turn around to stare at him and Jonny occasionally.

"I'm fine," Patrick says, and smiles, even though Jonny's face is creased with worry lines. Jonny's hand, the one that isn't holding up his menu, is flat on the table, and Patrick notices that he's tapping his fingers on it, in a quick, uneven beat.

On impulse, he reaches out and folds his hand over Jonny's, slipping his fingers into the space between Jonny's own. Jonny looks up at him in surprise; but his face slowly smooths out like wrinkles being ironed out of cloth, and he winds his fingers around Patrick's before looking down at their joined hands.

"I really do appreciate you doing this," he says. "Honestly - can't thank you enough."

Jonny's hand is hot and dry and envelopes his; his thumb pad is resting lightly on the knob of Patrick's thumb, and almost as if he's not aware that he's doing it, he rubs a slow circle around it, and then another. It's kind of - soothing, actually, the slow repetitive motion of it, the feel of Jonny's calloused thumb on his own softer skin. It helps remind Patrick that they're in this together, that Jonny's got even more at stake than he does.

"You don't have to keep thanking me," he says. He wonders what people must see, if they're looking over at them now. Probably that they look nice and coupley, holding hands like this, their heads bent close together, like they're having a romantic tête-à-tête. They'd better look pretty real, Patrick thinks.

The check still nestled in his front pocket seems to burn into him like a brand.

"Tell me a little about yourself," Jonny says abruptly, and Patrick starts at the non sequitur. Jonny's still rubbing his thumb over his; circle, stroke, circle, stroke, his touch warm and gentle. It makes Patrick think of that night last week which had kicked all of this off, of Jonny's fingers on him and in him, and then he's hit with a bolt of annoyance. Why the fuck is he thinking about that one night with Jonny so much? He's slept with more than enough guys by now, he knows that it's all business and nothing more.

But Jonny had really been nice. Took his time with Patrick, had been shockingly gentle, even made sure Patrick got off first before he did, and then he'd fucked a second orgasm out of Patrick an hour after that in a breathtaking display of stamina, before they parted ways. It had been fun, and Jonny was fantastic in bed, but the important thing was that he'd talked to Patrick nicely too, before and after, and made him feel at ease. Basically - Jonny had treated him like a human being, and not just a hole he'd paid to fuck, and Patrick liked that.

"Hey," Jonny says, a hint of laughter in his voice. "You with me?"

Patrick blinks, pulling himself back to the present. When he looks up, Jonny's smiling at him, looking amused.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm here," Patrick says. "Uh, it's a bit hard to just start talking about myself, you know? I don't even know where to start. Why don't you ask me questions, and I'll answer."

"Okay," Jonny says. "Hmm - birthdate?"

"November 19, 1988," Patrick says. Jonny's smile grows wider.

"Did you know we're born in the same year?"

"Huh," Patrick says. "No, I didn't know that. Come on, you're not that famous that I'll look up and remember your birthday."

He means it as a joke - Jonny's obviously famous, at least in Chicago, which is at its core a hockey town, and Jonny's the favoured son who brought the Stanley Cup twice to the city - but it occurs to him that he might have come across kind of rude, or hurtful. It's on the tip of his tongue to apologise; but to his surprise, Jonny simply throws his head back and laughs, a hearty one that makes a smile tug at the corners of Patrick's mouth too, until he can feel himself break into a full-on grin.

"Oh, you're a livewire," Jonny says. "Okay, next one. Where are you from?"

"Buffalo, New York," Patrick answers.

"Ah, Buffalo - the city with the four feet high snowfalls."

"You're one to talk, Winterpeg," Patrick counters.

Jonny laughs again. "Would you prefer it if I said 'the city where we're always thrashing their hockey team'?"

"Listen here," Patrick says dramatically, puffing his chest out, "you can insult me, you can insult my city, but don't you ever insult my Sabres."

But he's laughing too, and both of them are still grinning when the waiter comes up with their first sushi course, a delicate piece of threadfin bream nigiri for each of them, and then a flask of warm sake that he pours into tiny porcelain cups. Jonny takes his hand off Patrick's to reach for his chopsticks, and Patrick - he kind of misses that weight and warmth. He pulls his hand back as well and takes a sip of his sake, trying to cover up his sudden awkwardness.

It's been a long time since someone held his hand without wanting anything more from him than that.

"So - hockey," Jonny says, taking a bite out of his nigiri. "Oh man, this is so good - anyway, yeah, you're a Sabres fan?"

"My dad used to have season tickets," Patrick replies. "He'd take me to games a lot, when I was a kid." He bites into his nigiri too, and damn, Jonny wasn't kidding, this place does sushi the right way.

"Wow, that's pretty awesome," Jonny says. "Your dad still lives in Buffalo now?"

"He's dead," Patrick says bluntly; he can hear the sharp intake of breath Jonny sucks in. "Both he and my mom. Car accident four years ago."

"Fuck," Jonny says. "Patrick, I'm so sorry."

There's a heavy, genuine sincerity in Jonny's voice as he speaks, and when Patrick looks up at him, his eyes are soft and a little sad. That's actually the worst. Patrick doesn't need anyone's pity.

"No biggie," he says, short and clipped. "Next question?"

Jonny hesitates; Patrick's blunt admission has clearly thrown him off, and it takes him a while before he says, "Favourite food?" He sounds like he's fumbled for something random to ask, just to change the subject, but whatever - Patrick's willing to go along with it.

"Steak," Patrick says.

Jonny tilts his head. "Bearnaise, au poivre, horseradish, other?"

"Au poivre, one hundred per cent."

"Not a bad choice," Jonny says. "I like steak frites, personally. We could do steak on our next date night."

Date night. Jonny says it so naturally and easily, like he's really fallen into this role they've played for less than an hour. Patrick gets the impression that whatever Jonny does, he puts all of himself into it. No backing out, no turning back, nothing less than his full effort.

For a moment, Patrick wishes he had the confidence - and the money - Jonny has, cocooning him like a suit of armour against the crappy parts of the world. Then he remembers that Barstool article talking about the Blackhawks possibly looking to trade Jonny - just for being gay, what the fuck - and the fact that he's having to pay an escort an obscene amount of money to pretend to be his boyfriend for a couple of months; and figures that despite all the wealth and luxury and talent and fame Jonny has at his fingertips, his life isn't perfect either. A week ago, if you'd asked Patrick if he wanted to swap lives with Jonny, he'd have said yes in a heartbeat. Now - now he's not so sure.

"Sounds good," Patrick says out loud in response. "Yeah, date me good, Jonny."

The grin he gets from Jonny makes his heart jump a little in his chest.

The sushi keeps coming, and so do Jonny's questions. Where'd you go to school? NYU. How long have you been in Chicago? Three years. Patrick can tell from the way Jonny pauses after that, that he's probably figured out Patrick moved to Chicago after his parents died, that it must have been the reason that he started escorting; but he doesn't ask about that. Instead he continues asking the innocuous questions, the ones in safe territory. Favourite movie? The Dark Knight. Hey, Christian Bale's hot, okay. Do you play games? Yeah, Call of Duty, some Mario Kart sometimes. Cool, we can play together at home. Do you want to come watch Blackhawks practices and games sometimes? Um, definitely yes.

Sometime in between the sea urchin and freshwater eel nigiri, Jonny says, "Hey, you have a little bit of soy sauce there." He points to the corner of Patrick's lips.

Patrick lifts his napkin to dab at his mouth; but he thinks better of it when an idea lights up in his head. "It'd look more real if you cleaned it off for me," he says. "You know - more coupley."

Jonny looks stunned. "Wait, what?"

Patrick inclines his head at Jonny's hand. "Use your hand, clean the sauce off my mouth," he says. "Just a suggestion - but if you wanted this to look, well, real, you could definitely do that."

Jonny swallows; Patrick watches the bob of his adam's apple. Jonny's got a nice neck, he thinks. He remembers licking over that adam's apple too.

"Yeah, that's a - good idea," Jonny says. "You sure you don't mind - ?"

"I suggested it, I don't think I'd mind that much," Patrick says.

Jonny reaches out and swipes his thumb over the corner of Patrick's lower lip; he presses gently into it as if he's feeling the give of Patrick's mouth, and Patrick's wondering if it'll give any of the patrons watching them a heart attack if he sucks Jonny's thumb, or licks over it. Or maybe it'll give Jonny a heart attack. So he sits quietly and lets Jonny clean the sauce off his lips, before he lifts his thumb away and rubs it on his napkin. The place where Jonny had touched feels warm, and Patrick licks it without really thinking, flicking the tip of his tongue out over the corner of his mouth.

"Uh, okay," Jonny says, a little hoarse; and Patrick's not blind, he can see the way Jonny's eyes are following his tongue. "I mean - yes, good suggestion, yeah."

Good to know that Patrick's probably - most likely - not the only one thinking about the night they fucked, then. It makes Patrick feel a little better about all of this.

---

For a first date - sort of - that went well, Patrick thinks later that night when he's lying in his new bed, in Jonny's guest bedroom. Better than well; it was really good, actually, and there were a couple of points Patrick realised he was really enjoying himself, that it felt like a real date and not like the contracted business arrangement it really is.

The one time it felt weird was when they were leaving the restaurant, Patrick's arm tucked into Jonny's this time, murmurs and the click of camera phones following them out again, and someone who spotted them outside the restaurant while Jonny was waiting for a valet to bring his car over had asked to take a picture together with the both of them.

Patrick had been kind of taken aback by that. "Um, wouldn't you rather take a picture with Jonny? I can do it for you," he'd offered, holding his hand out for her phone.

"No, I'd like to have one with the two of you," she'd said, her eyes gleaming. "I think it's so brave of you both, that you're not letting the awful things people are saying get you down, and you're still going out together."

And - well, that had definitely been weird. Both he and Jonny had exchanged a look that thankfully the girl missed because she was fumbling with her phone; but the selfie was taken, thanks were exchanged, and Patrick had thought that was that, until the girl said as their car had come up, "Chicago supports you both, I hope you know that."

The car ride home had been quiet, both of them lost in their own thoughts, until Patrick had said, "Your fans really have your back."

Jonny nodded. "They always have, mostly. But - it's always a relief to hear it from someone. Especially after the front office - I mean, they really blew up. It's good to know I still have that fan support."

"You - you're not going to get traded, are you?" Patrick had asked, carefully.

Jonny's jaw hardened. "Not if I can help it."

"I'll help in whatever way I can," Patrick said. Suddenly it had been very important to him, that Jonny knew Patrick would do whatever he could to hold up his end of their bargain, to help Jonny. Jonny couldn't be traded - he was Chicago's golden boy, the Blackhawks captain. If he was traded for something he couldn't change or control, for being gay, for being himself -

"I know," Jonny said. "You're already helping. Promise. It looks a lot better to management, now that we've got our - thing in place."

Patrick thinks about that as he turns over onto his side. He thinks about Jonny, away in his own bedroom, and wonders suddenly what he's doing. Is he lying awake, still worried about being traded? He'd mentioned that he was supposed to have a press conference in a few weeks, to answer questions about the whole situation. Is he stressed about that?

Shit, Patrick doesn't know how he's helping. It feels like Jonny's got so much weight on his shoulders, and Patrick's just an addition to that weight. It's because he was spotted with Jonny that caused this whole mess, after all.

He flips back onto his back, blinking into the darkness, feeling very tired all of a sudden after what's possibly been the longest, craziest day of his life. The bed is so soft, and the down comforter so thick and warm, that -

Tomorrow, he thinks. Tomorrow, he's going to wake up, and he's going to make sure he's the best damn boyfriend Jonathan Toews could ask for. A boyfriend worth every penny of that hundred and fifty grand. He'll do it for the girls, and for Jonny's career. Jonny's a good guy - Patrick can't let him be traded because of this.

He falls asleep with that thought firmly lodged in his head.

Chapter Text

Patrick settles quietly into his new, weird life as Jonathan Toews' boyfriend.

It's not really as difficult as he'd imagined; there's nothing difficult about living in a place like Jonny's. Even Jonny himself - he's easygoing and fairly considerate of Patrick's time and space, even if he does tend to leave unwashed cups and dishes out, and half-drunk bottles of water and kombucha just lying around. Patrick ends up doing a lot of picking up after him, and doesn't say anything when Jonny doesn't seem to notice him cleaning up. He knows Jonny's got a lot on his mind.

His schedule is kind of packed too, anyway - practices and morning skates a couple times a week, flying to and from games; when he's home, he spends his afternoons napping, or working on his laptop. Patrick finds out that he's just set up a foundation for inner city kids, teaching them the benefits of healthy eating and growing their own food, as well as supporting several key environmental issues; it keeps him pretty busy in his off time.

But they do go out for dinner several times the first couple of weeks after Patrick's moved in, when Jonny's home and doesn't have a game, and Patrick makes sure to always be holding Jonny's hand when they're in public, or be seen kissing his cheek. It's a strange feeling to see his own face on Twitter and Instagram a lot, or on gossip sites alongside Jonny; he's in a profession that demands discretion, and with Jonny he has to run in the opposite direction of that and make sure they're seen, pack on lots of PDA.

It's not like it's a hardship, of course. Jonny takes him to very nice restaurants, and pretty much spoils the hell out of him, and Jonny's gorgeous and kind and treats him well. It's also very different for Patrick - in a good way - how Jonny doesn't ask for anything from him, doesn't make any demands on his time - or his body, for that matter. He's circumspect and respectful and never touches Patrick without Patrick touching him first; so Patrick ends up taking the initiative a lot on their nights out. But it helps to settle his nerves about living with Jonny and spending time with him, and it's starting to slowly sink in that Jonny meant what he said, that he's not going to demand anything sexual from him. It's a relief to Patrick, and also refreshing, to be going out with a man who doesn't expect the use of his body at the end of the night.

Two weeks after Patrick moves in, Jonny's schedule rears its ugly head, and he's away nearly the entire week on a three game road trip in Canada; he's home only two nights that week. But he's also been nice enough to set up accounts for Patrick on his food service and groceries delivery apps, so Patrick can get whatever he wants with all of it charged to Jonny. He still can't get used to it: this life of utter luxury where he gets a huge condo (with a sauna! And a pool!) all to himself, and buy everything he wants to buy, if he wants to buy it (which he doesn't, because Patrick's not an asshole who's going to take advantage of Jonny's credit cards while he's away).

He'd thought he would have been bored staying in the condo all week, and that he'd itch to go out and do stuff, but it turns out to be - pretty nice, actually, just chilling on the enormous, ultra-comfortable sectional Jonny has, flicking through Netflix and Hulu, working out in Jonny's home gym, sometimes calling Erica to chat and to assure her that yes, he's fine, Jonny's not Hannibal or someone like that. He can't deny either that it feels really, really good to go to bed each night not having to think or worry about the girls' mounting tuition costs, and knowing that he doesn't have to go out and meet clients and come home aching and exhausted, feeling like he needs to scrub himself under a steaming hot shower to get clean.

He also watches all the Blackhawks games on TV while Jonny's away. He usually doesn't get to - tickets are too expensive, and at night, when games are televised, he's with a client most times. There had been one client who had taken him to a few games: a nice man, owned an up-and-coming boutique advertising agency that had been winning awards for several of their campaigns, and he'd liked the ease and convenience of booking Patrick over going out and meeting people and going through the whole process of scouting and dating. He always got them amazing seats, right on the glass, and one time they were behind the bench. Patrick hadn't been able to see much of the ice with the players blocking his line of sight, but he remembers looking at Jonny each time he came off a shift, dripping with sweat, watching him give orders to the guys before they went back out. He remembers when Jonny sat on the bench right in front of him, giving him a great view of that flushed, sweaty neck and his broad shoulders.

He'd thought Jonny was super hot, especially right there in his element, captaining his team in the United Center. He certainly hadn't thought that a few short months later he would be actually living with the man.

Kind of funny where life takes you, he thinks, as he stares at the screen. The Blackhawks are playing Calgary; it's the second game of a back to back on their road trip, and the guys are tired, he can tell - but Jonny's been playing like he's got something to prove, which, in a sense, he does. The camera's zoomed in now on Jonny's face as he takes a faceoff, and he looks deadly focused, his jaw set. It's a good look on Jonny.

He's really hustling out there too; charging up and down all two hundred feet of ice like a beast, muscling down Sean Monahan, setting up plays. He nearly scores shorthanded on a penalty kill once, and Patrick groans out loud when the puck hits the post and bounces out. Jonny's spitting a stream of invectives at his missed shot as he skates off the ice; the camera shows him slamming his stick against the bench in frustration before he sits down.

It gives Patrick some pause for thought.

It kind of - does something to him, actually, seeing and knowing how passionate Jonny is about his sport, how serious he is about wanting to be a good leader and a good player. Patrick has no doubt Jonny's one of the best players in the NHL today; but the fact that he has to play under the shadow of being forcibly outed and possibly traded by the team he's given and done everything for - well, that's a hard fucking pill to swallow. Patrick may have been judged for his choice of job, but at least he's fortunate enough to never have been openly judged for being gay, and neither he nor Jonny can change that that's who they are.

He's still thinking about Jonny and how - good, really, and dignified he's been under this crazy pressure, when the final horn goes and he looks up at the TV; the final score is 2-1 to the Blackhawks.

On impulse, he reaches for his phone and shoots off a text to Jonny; it occurs to him that it's the first time he's ever texted him just to talk, really, and not just to plan more of their fake dates. Hey Jonny, that was a really good game. Congrats on the win. Four points down, two more to go.

Jonny responds nearly an hour later, just as Patrick's getting ready for bed. Hey, thanks. You watched the game?

Yup. Good game, you looked good out there.

We could have been better.

A win is a win, man, and getting two points on the second half of a back to back away from home is always a good thing. Be happy about it!

I am happy!

Patrick stares at Jonny's last text. Are you really? he wants to ask.

But then his phone buzzes again with another text from Jonny. What are you doing?

Getting ready for bed, he types back.

Oh yeah? Thought you might be out, doing something fun.

Nah, I'd rather stay in.

What have you been up to the past few days?

Patrick pauses. He wonders if Jonny's checking up on him, maybe trying to see if he's burned down his condo, or taking clients back there, or something. It makes him roll his eyes; their contract did stipulate that Patrick would stop escorting during the period he has to live with Jonny, after all. But when he thinks about it, he's basically still a stranger to Jonny after all, and he's now living in his home, with some access to his money. It makes sense if Jonny doesn't trust him.

He texts back: Nothing, really. I've been staying indoors, working out, watching TV a lot. Nothing much for me to do out there.

When Jonny's reply comes, it stuns him a little. Hang on, why are you cooping yourself up? Go out, have fun, meet friends. You do know you're not locked indoors, right? You can go out whenever you want.

And - wow, Patrick was not expecting that sort of response. He stares at his phone, biting his lip; he's not sure how to tell Jonny that he doesn't have friends in Chicago. Well, apart from Julie, who does his bookings at the agency; but he's told her he's 'taking a break' and anyway, they're more like coworkers than friends, with a strictly working relationship. They've never had the kind of relationship where he can just go out and have a meal with her and shoot the shit. He's always been focused on working, saving money; he never had the time to really get to know people in the city, especially not in the kind of unconventional job he's doing. Plus, eating out and clubbing in Chicago is expensive. Patrick needs to save every cent he earns.

He settles for just replying: Don't worry, I'm totally okay with this. Nice to have some time just lazing around doing nothing, I'm not gonna lie.

As long as you're happy. Jonny responds.

Patrick pauses again. Happy. What a strange sentiment. Jonny's probably not happy - how could he be, with the mess Barstool created for him? And Patrick - he's an escort, paid to fake a relationship with Jonny, working to pay for his sisters' college education. In what world could Jonny think he would be happy with all of this?

He gives himself a little shake. He's probably overthinking this. In fact, he definitely is. All Jonny meant is that he wants Patrick to be happy staying in his home. And - even if Patrick's not exactly happy, he's not torn up about it, either. He's having a perfectly nice time, to be sure.

Yeah, I'm all good. Don't worry about me.

Guess I better let you go to bed now, huh? Wouldn't want your exciting schedule of TV and gym workouts to tire you out.

It takes Patrick a couple of seconds to realise that Jonny's trying to crack a joke - but it makes him smile, the weird tension he's been holding in his mind while reading Jonny's texts finally relaxing a smidge. Jonny's trying, and he's actually - really nice, and kind, and Patrick did promise himself that he's going to be the best boyfriend Jonny's money could buy, after all.

What, you're just gonna let me sleep without asking me what I'm wearing? ;)

Jonny actually takes a while to respond to this one, and for a moment Patrick feels kind of stupid; maybe it's too early and too inappropriate to make a joke like that? Or maybe - Jonny thinks he's being slutty as fuck, since he's an escort, so Jonny probably thinks he talks like that all the time to everyone -

It's gonna be like that, is it? Go ahead, tell me what you're wearing. Even better if you have a pic. ;)

Fucking hell. Patrick stares at the message and starts actually laughing. Jonny is an absolute fucking dork, and every time Patrick thinks he's got his number, he just surprises him with something completely unexpected.

He likes it, he can't lie. It's cute to be able to text Jonny like this, to be playful and fun.

He climbs into his bed and sits up against the headboard, arranging himself so his Buffalo Sabres t-shirt and his huge, shit-eating grin can be seen when he snaps a quick selfie. His curls are a mess, with one long curl drooping over his forehead, but it's not like he can do anything about it now, so Jonny's just got to deal.

Wearing something reeeeeal sexy, he texts, and sends the photo.

HA HA HA, is Jonny's response. Cute face, but the Sabres t-shirt really knocks points off.

Rude, Patrick texts. How could you treat your boyfriend this way?

Hey, I said your face was cute.

Patrick grins down at the phone. He knows Jonny's just being nice - there's no way he looks cute right now with his stretched-out old Sabres tee with the hole in one shoulder, and his crazy bedhead. Ok, I really have to sleep now. Wild day tomorrow. Gotta do 50 laps in the pool.

Sounds fun. I'll see you when I'm home on Sunday night, and then we can do something super boring in comparison to those 50 laps. Text me if you need anything in the meantime, yeah?

Yeah, thanks. See you Sunday. Night, Jonny.

Night, Patrick. Sleep well.

Long after Patrick's turned the lights off and wrapped himself up in his comforter, he's still thinking about Jonny, and how he's a really, genuinely good guy. Patrick's glad he didn't read him wrong, and even more glad he'd agreed to help Jonny out. Jonny deserves all the help he can get.

---

The Blackhawks' charter gets into Midway at nearly 1 A.M. on Sunday, so Jonny doesn't get home until two in the morning. Patrick's still awake and working on his fantasy football league when Jonny comes in, a Blackhawks duffel slung over his shoulder, his eyes droopy from tiredness. They've been texting all week, and it's been - really good, comfortable and natural like he's been friends with Jonny for years instead of a virtual stranger pushed into a fake relationship with him, but nothing prepares Patrick for the sight of Jonny up close in his game day suit with the shirt collar casually undone and open, and it feels like an actual punch to the gut, how good-looking Jonny is even in the middle of the night after a tough road trip and a flight.

He stops in the hallway when he sees Patrick on the sofa, his clunky laptop perched on his knees. "Hey," he says, looking surprised but - Patrick's sure he's not imagining it - a little pleased. "What are you doing up so late?"

Patrick sits up and puts his laptop on the coffee table; it's an old piece of shit laptop, barely able to run SPSS now, and he's been fighting with it for the past hour trying to build his models. "Just some of my fantasy football stuff," he says. "How are you doing?"

Jonny shrugs. "Tired as fuck," he says. "But also hungry as fuck. Have you had dinner?"

"Yeah, of course," Patrick says. "But - I guess I could join you if you want to eat something. You wanna go shower and change? I'll look for something to order."

Jonny brightens up. "That'd be great - you know what to get me, right?"

"Yep, gluten-free and dairy-free, but cheese is fine," Patrick says as he pulls up Yelp on his phone, and Jonny shoots him a grateful smile. He's already explained before on their date nights that he's got gluten and lactose intolerances, but even without that, Patrick wouldn't have been surprised that Jonny's diet is so restrictive; he figures most pro athletes are on gluten-free diets anyway.

There's a Mexican place still open that offers gluten-free options, so he gets tacos for himself and a burrito bowl for Jonny, with extra chicken; he thinks Jonny would appreciate more protein.

He's back to coaxing his laptop into running a statistical model without lagging when Jonny comes back out; he's topless, his hair damp, and Patrick very carefully tries not to look at him when he slumps into the sofa next to him. It's weird; it's not like Patrick's never seen his shirtless torso, obviously. He's seen hell of a lot more of Jonny than that. But - it feels strange to be next to Jonny like this, in his home, in a situation where they're not about to fuck.

Jonny picks up the remote control and turns the TV on; it opens to some baking show on the Food Network, which Patrick had been watching earlier. Jonny doesn't change the channel, though, just turns the volume down and keeps the TV on, like he needs some soft white noise in the background.

"Is the noise going to bother you?" Jonny asks, glancing over at his laptop.

"Nah," Patrick says, frowning at his screen. The model's finally populating, but something doesn't look quite right. "Watch whatever you want, I'm good here."

"What are you doing anyway?" Jonny asks, leaning over a little. His bare arm presses against Patrick's, warm and solid. It's getting harder for Patrick to not just turn and look his fill.

He still hesitates, though; it's been years, maybe, since he showed anyone his site. He doesn't really like people knowing about it, but - it's Jonny. Jonny's who's warm and curious and interested, and plays hockey, and would know enough about analytics that he might think Patrick's site was kind of cool, and not too nerdy. "Well, in college, I was doing a double major in math and statistics - "

"Whoa," Jonny interrupts, sitting up straight; Patrick misses the warmth and weight of Jonny's body against his right away. "Really?"

"Yes, really," Patrick says. Jonny looks stunned, but there's admiration in the way he gazes at Patrick, and it makes Patrick feel strangely warm, even a little shy. He looks away from Jonny and back down at his laptop. "Anyway, for one of my projects in my senior year, I built this site as a data resource, to be used mainly for fantasy football leagues. So it tracks football stats, both team and individual, and I built in models that people accessing the site could use to extract the metrics they needed from the raw data. And, well, I guess it kind of took off, and got pretty popular. So I expanded it to include hockey analytics. I don't get paid for this, obviously, it's kind of just a hobby, but I still work on it a lot. Especially since my - job, you know, is mostly at night, so my days are free for me to keep it running. I get about two, three hundred thousand unique hits on it each month now."

"Well, shit," Jonny says, looking and sounding absolutely amazed, like Patrick's just told him he's a secret Stanley Cup winner, or something. "That is - this is fucking awesome. Why didn't you ever mention it?"

"I - didn't think there was a need to?" Patrick says, biting his lip. "Why would you need to know about my nerd hobbies?"

"This is far from a 'nerd hobby'," Jonny says firmly. "I'm serious, Patrick. This is so fucking cool. Can you show me the hockey analytics?"

"Really?" Patrick asks, flicking a sideways glance at him from under his lashes.

"Yeah, show me."

Jonny leans in against him again as Patrick navigates to the hockey page of the site, and it's really nice for Patrick to feel Jonny against him, somehow. Comfortable. He can't stop himself from leaning into Jonny's perfect, broad chest, just a little.

He shows Jonny the usual stats - his faceoff percentages, his Corsi and expected goals, the quality of competition metric he built using Fenwick - everything takes a while to load because his laptop is shit, but Jonny waits patiently, asking questions, pointing out certain things on the site. When their food finally arrives and they're eating on the couch like a couple of slobs, he pulls up the stuff he's really proud of: graphical time-lapse portrayals of each team's shot attempts and chances of winning, player and team shot maps, his scatter plot tool for users to plot whichever two statistics they want, and a whole arsenal of other comparison tools.

The wonder on Jonny's face has given way to a warm, appreciative respect. "My god," he says. "This is amazing. I can't believe you built all of this on your own."

"I've had lots of time," Patrick says. "Most other sites are run by groups or teams of people, but those people all probably have full-time jobs, and I don't."

"No - don't sell yourself short like that," Jonny says. "Job or no job, this is fantastic. I'm really impressed."

"Thanks," Patrick says, feeling his cheeks heat up. He stuffs the last of his taco into his mouth, and doesn't miss the way Jonny's eyes flick down before dragging his gaze back up again, like Jonny's consciously reminding himself not to stare openly at Patrick's mouth. Patrick must be tired, because he's finding this whole chivalrous schtick kind of charming on Jonny in a way he wouldn't on the vast majority of other guys.

"You know," Jonny says after a pause, "the Blackhawks have an analytics team in-house. They use their data to assist our scouts and coaches."

"Yeah, I think every NHL team now has staff working on analytics for them. Hockey advanced stats have really taken off - "

"No, I'm trying to say, if you wanted - when this is done - I could give you a recommendation, and they might interview you for a job. You're amazing at this - look at what you've done with your site. You could totally join the analytics staff."

"Fuck," Patrick says out loud, nearly jumping. Of all the things - this is the last thing he expected. Holy shit. A job with the Blackhawks? A job doing something he loves, something he knows he's good at? This is his dream, he thinks. This is all he ever wanted, before his parents died and left him the girls to look after and took his dream with them. But -

He wants to yell, to shout, to hug Jonny and say yes, so badly. To grab this opportunity with both hands and never let go. But he has the girls to think of. He can't take up a normal job that wouldn't pay as well as escorting, until he's certain he has enough to see all three girls through college. Jonny's payment for their fake boyfriends scheme is going a long way to offset that, but he needs to be sure.

"I - I appreciate that," he says slowly, and looks at his laptop screen so he won't have to look at Jonny. The little numbers and figures on the screen are slowly melding into a blur. "But - I can't. I need to, you know, work a little longer at my, um, job. Until I save enough."

Jonny's silent for a little while; then he asks quietly, "Can I ask what you're saving for? I know, I know, it's your own business." He puts both hands up, as if to forestall Patrick's reaction, and then shrugs. "You don't have to tell me, but - I can tell you work hard. I'm not judging. I told you I wouldn't. I just think, there must be a good reason for you to be doing what you are."

Patrick swallows. He doesn't know if he should - if he wants to tell Jonny. But Jonny's just sitting still, looking at him patiently, and Patrick knows he means it - that he'd back right off if Patrick tells him he doesn't want to talk about it. It's been a long time since someone showed this much interest in him and his life and what he's doing - and why he's doing it.

"I have three younger sisters," he says finally, slow and hesitant. "I'd just finished college when my parents - you know. We didn't really have much money - with the four of us kids, my parents didn't have a chance to put away that much in savings. Erica - she's the oldest - was a junior then, Jessica still in high school, and Jackie was in ninth grade."

Jonny is very, very silent next to him, but Patrick feels him push the slightest bit harder against his arm, like he wants to press Patrick closer to him.

"So - you know, it's not like jobs are thick on the ground in Buffalo, so all I managed to get after graduating was a job as a teaching assistant. I worked there for a year, and it became pretty clear by then that it would never pay well enough to cover all our bills and the girls' expenses. And I had a friend who was working in the Manhattan branch of the agency - he was the one who told me how much I could make, if I went into escorting. So I signed with the agency and moved to Chicago. And honestly, it does pay a lot. I could quit after just a couple of years more. Even faster now that I have this - arrangement with you."

He offers Jonny a tremulous smile, still not looking him in the eye. "So - yeah. I'd love to have that chance at an interview, but I can't. Not until I'm sure I have enough put away to pay for college for my sisters."

Beside him, Jonny sighs. "Patrick - " he begins.

"Don't even think about offering," Patrick interrupts quickly, and watches with a mild detached amusement as Jonny's mouth hangs open for a second before he snaps it shut. "I know what you're going to say. You're a good guy and I really like that. But you were right when you said it's my business. There's nothing more you should do for me."

"It feels - wrong," Jonny says. "I have all this money - more than I know what to do with. I could help you easily. I want to help."

"I know," Patrick says. He gives in to the impulse he's been fighting all night, and scoots close to Jonny so he can lean his cheek against Jonny's shoulder, wanting to just - be close to someone. Their bodies are a line of warmth from shoulder to hip; Jonny's skin is smooth and so warm it's almost hot to the touch, and this close, Patrick can smell him: a combination of clean, soap-washed skin and earthy, musky male scent. "You were right earlier - this is my own business. It's something I have to do for my family, and I'm not going to expect someone else to do it for me."

Jonny sighs again; his breath rustles over the top of Patrick's head through his curls, and Patrick feels him curl his arm around his shoulders, holding him gently, like he's afraid Patrick might break into pieces.

"I can't see a friend in need and not help out."

A friend. Patrick likes the sound of that. He and Jonathan Toews are friends. Why does he feel this weird, ice-cold stab of disappointment at the same time?

"This isn't your problem to solve," he says, frowning into Jonny's neck, trying to chase that strange, sad feeling away.

Jonny squeezes him a little tighter. "But you'll tell me if you really need my help, right?"

"I will," Patrick says. He doesn't mean it. Jonny's doing enough - more than enough - and he's got his own burdens to bear right now.

He pulls away from Jonny reluctantly; Jonny's arm falls away from him, and he wants it back in the worst way. God, how long has it been since someone held him - really held him, and not as foreplay?

"Go to bed," he says, shutting his laptop down and placing it on the coffee table. "Come on, you need rest, dude. It's past 3 A.M. and you've had a crazy road trip."

"I'm used to road trips," Jonny says; but his statement is spoiled by a huge yawn. Patrick hides a smile, biting the insides of his cheeks.

"We both have to sleep," he says, standing up. There's a faint red mark on Jonny's shoulder, where Patrick's head had been. "Goodnight, Jonny. And - thanks for listening to me."

He holds out his hand for Jonny to take, and Jonny reaches out for it and pulls himself upright, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

"Anytime," he says, smiling a little. "Goodnight, Pat."

Patrick feels strangely empty when Jonny lets go of him, and they have to go to their respective bedrooms.

---

It's just a couple of days later when Patrick wakes up and wanders out of his bedroom that he sees it on the coffee table, next to his laptop: a large box wrapped in glossy paper, tied with a silver ribbon.

He really shouldn't; it's none of his business who Jonny's giving presents to, but well, the box is right there in plain sight, and Patrick's curious.

There's a card tucked into the bow of the ribbon that he spots when he gets closer to the box; he tilts his head, trying to make out what's on the card, and his heart skips a beat when he sees For Patrick scribbled on it in thick black Sharpie.

For him? What the hell.

He eases the card out from the bow and flips it over; behind, all it says is Thought you might need this. Enjoy it! - Jonny

He gapes at it in shock. Jonny got him something - why and what for?

He sits down on the sofa and perches the box on his lap as he pulls the ribbon loose, and then sets to work carefully tearing the paper open. When he realises what it is, he has to put his hands over his mouth just so he won't yell out loud. He has to struggle to remember how to breathe through his amazement and excitement.

It's a laptop - a brand new Macbook Pro, identical to the one Jonny himself uses.

He can't - his hands are shaking as he opens the box and sees the shiny silver laptop resting inside. Holy fuck. Jonny got him a laptop. Jonny saw him struggling with his old shitty one, and went out and got him a new one.

Abruptly he feels tears prickling at the backs of his eyes. How many years has it been since he got a gift? And this is more than a gift - it means that Jonny notices him. Jonny's seeing him, and taking note of what he needs, and what he likes to do, and gave him this amazing, wonderful present, just so he can continue doing what he enjoys.

His fingers tighten on the side of the box. It's stupid, because it's just a laptop and Jonny can probably afford a billion of them, but it feels like it's so much more than just a gift.

He's got it out of the box and is working on setting it up when he hears the snick of the door, and Jonny comes in, holding a small box of donuts from a bakery nearby that Patrick loves. He's only mentioned it once to Jonny, that the donuts there were great and that he liked them. And obviously Jonny's gluten-free, so he's not going to be eating these donuts - which means that he remembered what Patrick told him, and went to get him some while he was out running his errands and shit, which is -

It's too much. It's all too much for Patrick. There's no reason for Jonny to be this nice to him, and yet.

"I see you're already having fun with the Macbook," Jonny says, smiling, like he doesn't notice the riot of emotions roiling inside Patrick.

Patrick can't answer. He thinks if he opens his mouth now, he might actually burst into tears, and wouldn't that be humiliating.

Jonny comes over and sets the box of donuts on the table in front of him. "And I dropped by Petunia Bakery and got you these. You said you liked their donuts, right?"

Patrick swallows. "Yes," he manages, and pretends to cough to hide how gravelly his voice is.

"Great," Jonny says, grinning down at him. "I'm going to work out for a while in the gym - have fun with your new toy."

He turns to walk away, and Patrick manages to reach out and snag his shirt by the hem; Jonny turns back.

"Yeah?" he asks.

Patrick lifts the laptop off his lap and places it on the coffee table; then he stands up and, before he can stop himself, leans up to give Jonny a kiss on the cheek.

"Thank you," he says, blinking up at Jonny.

Jonny looks stunned for a moment; then he reaches up to rub the back of his neck in what Patrick recognises as his 'aw shucks' gesture. "It's nothing, really," he replies, but he looks pleased. Surprised, but pleased. "Just thought you might like having a better laptop, since you were having trouble with your old one."

"No, but really - thank you," Patrick says. He doesn't know how to say more than that - but he hopes Jonny understands how much it means.

Jonny gazes at him for a moment, and then leans forward; for a breathless second, Patrick thinks Jonny's actually going to kiss him, but Jonny brushes his lips briefly over the middle of his forehead instead, and the wave of disappointment that follows after catches Patrick off guard.

Oh fuck. He actually wants to kiss Jonny - or for Jonny to kiss him, whatever. Oh, fuck.

"As long as you like it," Jonny says, and smiles down at him.

There's nothing Patrick can do but smile back helplessly.

Chapter Text

There's a muscle twitching in Jonny's jaw; even on a laptop screen, the frustration and barely-held anger emanating from him is almost palpable. He's only six minutes into the press conference and Patrick can already tell that Jonny's done with a capital D.

He really can't blame Jonny. The questions being put to him are inane at best, and downright rude at worst.

"What's it like being the first gay out player in the NHL?" some reporter asks. Patrick has to bite back a smile when he sees Jonny's completely unsubtle eyeroll. He's already been asked about three different permutations of this question.

"Like every other player, I'm guessing," Jonny says, droll as fuck; a soft titter rises in the assorted gathering of reporters. "There's nothing different, or exciting, or special about me. I still play the same way I always have, do the same things. Being gay doesn't magically make me a different person, or different player."

"How long have you been with your boyfriend, Jonathan? Anything you can tell us about him?"

"No," Jonny replies curtly. "He - my boyfriend didn't ask for this, any more than I did. He doesn't deserve to be hounded or harassed or gawked at - he's not a celebrity, he's not anyone well-known or famous. Please don't ask me any questions about him; I'm not going to answer any of those."

There's a long pause as the reporters in front of Jonny take in what he's said. Patrick sits very still in front of the laptop, warmth spreading in his chest. He hadn't expected it, but he's glad Jonny's playing the part of protective boyfriend, shielding him from all of this. Jonny's tight, strained expression, though, makes him wish the next moment that he could have been there with him somehow, just so he wouldn't have to deal with this alone, without a shield of his own.

"Jonathan, what are your feelings about being outed by Barstool? How long were you intending to keep your sexuality a secret?"

Jonny's face shuts down - literally closes off until it looks like a blank mask, devoid of any emotion whatsoever. His eyes, though - they're black with fury. Patrick doesn't exactly know Jonny that well yet, but he knows people; he knows how to read them, and he knows how it looks when someone is inwardly seething like Jonny is now.

"First off," Jonny says slowly, "I want to say that it's flat out despicable for any media outlet, or any person at all, to out someone without their consent. Maybe the media doesn't think I have a right to privacy - but someone's orientation should be their own business, and theirs alone, whether they're a celebrity, an athlete, or your average Joe on the street."

He sweeps his eyes over the crowd, dark and cold. Patrick feels a shiver run down his spine; he thinks that if Jonny was looking at him that way, he'd be - afraid, and very worried about what would happen to him next.

"And that brings me to my second point," Jonny continues. "I wasn't intending to keep anything secret. I simply thought it was my business, and I should have had that choice, that power to decide when to come out, if I wanted to come out. And that choice has been stripped from me for the sake of some gossip and a few extra clicks on a website. Let me ask: why does it matter so much who I'm seeing, or what my orientation is, as long as I'm doing my job? And last I checked, I'm doing my job fine."

The man seated next to Jonny - John McDonough, the Blackhawks president, Patrick recognises him - shifts in his seat, and subtly leans towards Jonny to whisper something quickly to him. Probably asking Jonny to tone it down, Patrick thinks.

Maybe it's a little selfish of him, but Patrick doesn't want Jonny to tone it down. The strength and fearlessness Jonny has on display is kind of - breathtaking to Patrick; he's not the least bit afraid or intimidated of this crowd of probing, rude reporters. Patrick's suddenly reminded of the nasty things he hears people say loudly in his and Jonny's hearing sometimes when they're out, the even nastier stuff people are putting on social media, and the fact that Jonny still doesn't know for sure if the Blackhawks will trade him; the trade deadline has passed, but both he and Jonny are acutely aware that he could still be moved in the summer, if the Blackhawks decide that he's a liability with his gayness, or some such bullshit. In these circumstances, he thinks Jonny's entitled to be as angry as he wants, to push back against these vultures until they leave him alone. He wants Jonny to blow the fuck up and tell all these people to back off and let him live his life.

"Are you worried other players will treat you differently? Both your teammates in the locker room, and opposing players on the ice?"

"No," Jonny says shortly. "For the record, my teammates have been incredibly supportive. And before anyone asks, no, I don't get a shower or a room all to myself; no, I don't spend my time checking out other men when I have a game to focus on. Any other ridiculous questions?"

Patrick has to admire the way Jonny's totally unafraid to say what he thinks, even if it might jeopardise him and his career.

"Jonathan, there are people who still say gay men don't belong in pro sports, and some fans have threatened to boycott Blackhawks merchandise and games unless you're traded. Do you have anything to say to that?"

Jonny's lips thin out visibly, going white and bloodless, but an angry red flush is rising on his cheeks. Jesus, Patrick thinks, these reporters have absolutely no sense of self-preservation.

"Yes, I do, actually," Jonny says, loud and clear. "That kind of homophobic, close-minded attitude has no place in a sport like hockey, for one. Or any sport at all. And for another, I'd be more than glad if such people stop coming to our games. I'm not playing for them, after all. I'm playing for the fans who are decent, good people, who don't think someone's orientation has anything to do with their skill or work ethic. And if they want me traded - well, I captained the team to two Stanley Cups in three years. Any straight men done that lately for any other team?"

The roomful of reporters goes very, very silent. Next to Jonny, John McDonough makes an abortive movement as if he's about to reach out and grab Jonny's shoulder or arm, but then seems to think better of it and settles back in his seat.

Jonny stands up. "We're done here," he announces, and without a backwards glance, stalks out of the room, the camera panning across the group of staff and reporters to follow his retreating back, before it cuts out abruptly.

Patrick sinks back into the sofa, feeling like he's just emerged from an ice-cold bath. He can hardly breathe. Holy shit.

Please be okay, he thinks, flashing back on McDonough's face, cold and stony, as Jonny had walked out. Please.

---

Jonny comes home a couple of hours later, just as the sun is sinking below the lake, turning everything a shimmery gold, including the wood and marble in the condo. For the first time since he's moved in, Patrick can't appreciate the view; he's too busy wondering whether Jonny's okay after that horrible press conference, and he's on his feet the moment he hears the key in the door and the click of it opening.

"Hey, you," he says as Jonny walks in. Jonny's face is tired and drawn, lines radiating from the corners of his eyes and mouth. He's still in the suit he'd worn in the press con, but his tie is yanked loose, the top two buttons of his shirt open, revealing a triangle of tanned skin.

"Hey," Jonny says, stopping. He even sounds tired, his voice scratchy and low. "You okay?"

"I should be the one asking you that," Patrick says; he's touched at how Jonny's checking in on him, even after what he'd just gone through. Jonny heaves a sigh and scrubs a hand over his face.

"I'm - as okay as I can be," Jonny says. He heads towards his bedroom, and Patrick follows, stepping in right behind him.

Jonny turns in surprise. "Patrick?"

Patrick's never been in Jonny's bedroom before. It's nearly twice the size of his guest bedroom, with a king-sized bed at one end of the room, and a little sun nook with a day bed facing the windows and a coffee table scattered with papers and magazines. The room smells of an earthiness that's all Jonny, overlaid with the faint scent of his cologne. It smells - nice. It smells like Jonny, and Patrick likes it.

He can see Jonny's hands fumbling at the buttons of his suit, tugging at them without really undoing them, like he doesn't quite know what he's doing.

"I'm fine," Jonny says as if he knows what Patrick's thinking; he watches Patrick as he takes a couple of steps closer, until there's a scant two inches of space between them.

Bullshit, Patrick wants to say. Instead he says aloud, "Let me do that."

He gently tugs Jonny's hands away from his jacket and begins unbuttoning it for him - one, two, and the jacket falls open, before he lifts it off Jonny's shoulders and hangs it on the coat stand close by. Jonny's looking down at his face, his expression troubled.

"You don't have to - " he begins.

"Let me do it," Patrick interrupts softly. "Please."

He does this - did it - a lot, of course. Some men wanted nothing more than to be waited on hand and foot, maybe have their shoulders rubbed, while they talked to Patrick, while Patrick made all the right commiserating noises, only half-listening most of the time. Sometimes there wasn't even sex involved; the men just wanted a listening ear. But this is part of Patrick's job, and part of the role he's paid to play, to ease a paying customer's stresses and burdens. This is something he's good at doing, and he wants to do it for Jonny.

He reaches up to Jonny's tie next, starts to work the knot loose. Jonny stands motionless, but Patrick can feel his eyes on him as he works, and when he glances up as he pulls the tie loose, Jonny's gazing down at him, his eyes softer and calmer than they'd looked when he'd first walked in.

Patrick rolls the tie up into a ball and sets it aside; he'll take care of it later, after he's taken care of Jonny. He smooths out the fabric of Jonny's shirt at the shoulders, feeling the muscles tense under his touch, and leaves his hands on Jonny's shoulders when he looks back up at him.

"You want your shirt off?" he asks. He knows Jonny does; Jonny's always wandering around at home shirtless. Not that Patrick's complaining, because Jonny's body is a magnificent view.

Jonny, however, still looks ill at ease, despite the soft warmth in his eyes. "Patrick," he says, and then pauses when Patrick slides his hands down over his chest, slow and careful, to undo the first button. His fists clench at his sides, like he wants to touch Patrick, and he's making himself not do it.

"Jonny," Patrick says in reply, a little snarky.

"You don't have to - I'm not asking for anything. I don't want to ask for anything."

"I know you're not," Patrick says. "I just want to make you comfortable. Just let me, okay?"

Jonny exhales, a soft susurration of breath that ghosts over Patrick's cheek. "Okay."

He's silent as Patrick slowly unbuttons his shirt, all the way down; it hangs open while he works on undoing Jonny's cuffs, the strip of golden skin showing contrasting nicely against the starched white of the shirt. Once he's got the cuffs undone, he slides it off Jonny's shoulders, revealing an expanse of smooth, tanned skin and solid, sharply delineated abs. Patrick remembers the way those abs felt under his mouth that night, how they'd tensed and jumped when Patrick licked over Jonny's belly on his way to his cock. He doesn't mean to do it, but the thought makes him stroke the palms of his hands down over the warm bare skin of Jonny's abs until they catch on his belt buckle.

Jonny grabs hold of his hands abruptly. "Stop," he says, a little too quick and rushed. "You don't have to - I can do this myself."

Patrick glances up at him. Jonny's cheeks are flushed red again, but Patrick knows it's not from fury this time.

"Hey," he says quietly. "It's okay, Jonny. Let me."

Jonny doesn't take his eyes off him as Patrick works at his belt; Patrick's unfastened enough belts in his time that it's only a couple of seconds before he's sliding it out of Jonny's belt loops and rolling it into a neat coil. When he reaches for the button of Jonny's dress pants, Jonny sucks in a deep breath, but he keeps his eyes fixed on Patrick's; and Patrick finds that he can't look away either. The intensity and depth of Jonny's gaze is all at once thrilling and overwhelming and a little breathtaking. It makes Patrick want to - he doesn't even know what he wants. He wants to go to his knees and nuzzle into Jonny's groin, he wants to go on tiptoe and burrow his face into Jonny's neck. He wants Jonny to feel better; he wants Jonny to feel good.

He tugs Jonny's zip down, and then pushes the pants over his hips until they fall to the ground at his feet. Patrick allows himself to look away from Jonny's gaze and down; Jonny's half hard, cock bulging out the front of his boxer briefs, and his hands are clenching and unclenching at his sides, fingers flexing, like Jonny needs to touch something. Touch Patrick.

Patrick sweeps his hands upwards over Jonny's abs again, marvelling at his hot, smooth skin, the solidity of his abs, before he gives Jonny a tiny push with his palms flat on his chest. "Go lie on the bed," he says.

Jonny blinks like he's emerging from a fog.

"Go on," Patrick says, nudging him again. "Lie down and wait for me. I have to get something from my room."

"Patrick," Jonny says again, voice tinged with a hint of desperation. "I told you, you don't have to - just because this is what you used to do doesn't mean I need you to do it for me now. I'm not - we have a deal, I'm not going to take advantage of you - "

Patrick presses his index finger against Jonny's lips. "Calm down," he says. "We're not going to fuck."

He doesn't miss the flicker of disappointment that flits over Jonny's face, before he gets his expression under control. Jonny does want me, Patrick thinks giddily for a moment. He doesn't know why this makes him so strangely happy when just a couple of weeks ago he was desperately hoping Jonny wouldn't want to fuck him while they were pretending to be boyfriends.

"But - you - " Jonny says, speaking against Patrick's finger; Patrick resists the temptation to slip his finger into his mouth.

"I'm just going to get you comfortable and make you feel better. Okay? Now will you go lie down?"

Finally, Jonny nods. His eyes are very dark as he stares at Patrick.

"I'll be right back," Patrick says.

In his room, he digs through the toiletries he's arranged on his bathroom counter; it occurs to him that even though he's only been living here for less than a month, he's started thinking of this bedroom as his, spreading his things over it like he would at home. He pushes the thought to the back of his mind. He needs to do this for Jonny first.

He finds what he's looking for soon enough - a small bottle of oil - and takes it with him, along with a towel, back to Jonny's room, holding it between his palms to warm the oil up as he goes. When he pushes Jonny's door open and goes in, his breath catches in his throat. Jonny's lying in his bed like Patrick had asked him to, stretched out on his back, looking like some kind of bronzed Greek god with his tan and musculature. It's actually kind of unreal how attractive Jonny is. Unreal, and absolutely unfair.

"Hey," Jonny says, his voice deep and a little rough. "I'm in bed. Like you wanted me."

Patrick doesn't know if Jonny means that innuendo or not, but he chooses not to dwell on it. "Turn over onto your stomach," he instructs. "I'm going to give you a massage."

Jonny's eyes widen when Patrick holds up his little glass bottle of oil. "Seriously?"

"I'm very good at it," Patrick says. He had to be good at it; he took a course in aromatherapy and massage when he first started escorting. There are a surprising number of men who like to be touched and rubbed and massaged, both before and after sex. "Come on, flip."

Jonny arches an eyebrow at him, but he rolls over onto his front, grabbing his pillow and stuffing it under his chest, so he can hug it as he lies on it. The muscles of his back shift and ripple as he moves; it's a pretty glorious sight. Patrick has to give himself a little mental shake, so he'll stop staring and start moving instead.

He climbs onto Jonny's bed and settles himself on his knees next to Jonny's hip, dropping the towel and bottle next to him. Jonny turns so his cheek is resting on the pillow and fixes his gaze on him again.

"You really gonna give me a massage?" he asks, sounding a little uncertain, but there's a hint of something else in his voice, something darker and sensual to it. "When I said you didn't have to do anything for me, I meant it, you know."

"I know," Patrick says. He picks up the bottle and unstoppers it, pours a generous amount of the oil into his cupped palm. "I just want to." He looks down at Jonny's body, laid out before him like the most delectable buffet, and pours more oil onto him, in a long line down the middle of his back from the top of his spine to the dip of his lower back.

"Close your eyes and relax," he says, before spreading his hands out over Jonny's back. He swings his leg over Jonny as he speaks and rests himself on the backs of Jonny's thighs; Jonny doesn't even flinch under his weight. He simply shifts his body a little, and props his head higher on his pillow, so he can look back towards Patrick.

"Nope," Jonny says, his breathing coming the tiniest bit harsher. "I think I'd rather look at you."

Patrick feels his cheeks heat up. "Okay," he says, soft, and then ducks his head so he can concentrate on rubbing the palms of his hands in broad, slow, sweeping strokes over Jonny's back and shoulders, spreading the oil out across his skin.

Doing this is almost therapeutic for Patrick himself sometimes, the slowness and repetitiveness of the motions of a massage, working on the body section by section in proper order. He lets himself sink into the rhythm of it, working the knots out of Jonny's broad shoulders, feeling the tension in them give way under his ministrations. Jonny had come home earlier with his neck and shoulders held stiff; now Patrick feels them loosening under his fingers and palms, Jonny's skin nicely warm and fragrant with the oil.

As if he can read Patrick's thoughts, Jonny speaks. "That oil smells really nice," he says. His voice is sandpaper-rough now, and Patrick knows it's from tiredness, that Jonny's finally starting to relax.

"Do you want me to tell you what's in it?" Patrick asks. Sometimes it helps, during a massage, when he talks low and soothing; it might help Jonny to fall asleep quicker.

"Mm-hmm," Jonny hums.

"This oil is a blend of several essential oils," Patrick begins. "You probably already know this, but different essential oils have different beneficial properties. This one has lavender, which helps with stress and works to relax the mind - "

He strokes his hands lower, towards Jonny's lower back, and applies pressure there with his knuckles; beneath him, Jonny makes a little punched-out sound of pleasure. It sends a warm rush of heat straight to Patrick's groin.

"I added frankincense, which has that really nice woody, deep, subtly sweet scent, and promotes inner peace," Patrick continues. He shifts to arrange himself better on Jonny's thighs so his dick, slowly filling with the way Jonny's skin feels under his palms, won't press into Jonny. Jonny's back is thick and strong, and the muscles flex beautifully every time Patrick increases the pressure. "There's also sandalwood, which is a little earthy and sweet as well, and helps to calm the mind."

"Mmm," Jonny says. He's still staring at Patrick, but his eyes are half-closed now, soft with pleasure.

"You'll notice the scents lean heavily towards earth and wood elements, so it's quite a masculine fragrance," Patrick says. He leans over to run his hands up and down Jonny's arms as well, knuckling over his biceps and triceps, before he takes Jonny's hands up in both of his and rubs his thumbs in careful, firm circles over his palms, first his left hand, then his right. Jonny's hands are large and thick, like the rest of him, and Patrick's aware of the strength and skill they possess, how Jonny's hands earn his living for him; but now they lie limp and rested in Patrick's fingers.

"You said - you added the oils?" Jonny asks. His voice is so low and scratchy now that Patrick can hardly hear it, even in the silence of the bedroom.

"Yeah," Patrick says. "I blended the oils myself. I took a massage course before."

Jonny makes another soft, pleased sound. "That's why you're so good at this."

"I told you I'm good," Patrick says. He pauses to add more oil to Jonny's back, and then rubs his hands over it again, in long, firm concentric ovals from his shoulders to his sides to his spine.

It feels - intimate like this, in a way it never did for Patrick with other clients, even though those times everyone would be naked and right now he's still clothed in his t-shirt and sweatpants and Jonny's in his boxer briefs. Maybe the difference is that he wants to do this for Jonny. Other times were always a means to an end, just a job he had to do. But now - it's somehow really important to him that Jonny gets taken care of, that he remembers he's not in this alone, and he has Patrick with him.

Patrick thinks of the money Jonny's paying him at the end of this; even with that, it still doesn't feel like something he's obligated to do. He likes this, he can admit to himself - looking at Jonny, feeling him under his hands, learning his body and where he likes to be touched, which parts of him are more tense and how they unlock with the firm pressure of Patrick's palms. He likes touching Jonny like this, when there's nothing around them but each other and no noise apart from Jonny's heavy, slow breathing, and his soft groans when Patrick works open a knot in a muscle just right.

Jonny's skin is very hot now, warmed by Patrick's hands and the oil, and it feels good to be stroking over his skin like this; his eyes have slid closed, and Patrick eases up on the pressure, uses his palms more instead of his knuckles or the heels of his hands. It also means he can stare freely at Jonny's face without Jonny looking back at him in that intense way of his. Jonny's an unfairly handsome man - Patrick's always thought this - and even earlier today at the press conference, when his face was hard and set with anger, he looked amazing, all dark fiery edges and radiating danger. Now, though, his face is relaxed and mellow, his mouth soft.

Patrick wonders what Jonny would do if he maybe leaned down and just - kissed him. They'd kissed a lot that night they fucked, Patrick remembers. Jonny had liked kissing him, told him he had a gorgeous mouth. Patrick's heard that from probably every man he's been with, so he hadn't thought more of it apart from thanking Jonny with a coy smile.

Now he wishes he'd spent more time kissing Jonny. Maybe he could, this moment - but no. He can't afford to get any more entangled than he already is.

He thinks Jonny's finally fallen asleep, so with some regret he sweeps his hands over Jonny's broad back one last time before he picks up the towel and cleans his hands, wiping as much oil off as he can, and lifts himself up on his knees, off Jonny's thighs. His cock's still chubbed up, and he adjusts himself regretfully before he gets off the bed, careful and slow, so as not to wake Jonny.

But once he's on his feet next to the bed, Jonny cracks an eye open, and gazes at him. "We're done?" he asks. His voice is hoarse, and Patrick feels some satisfaction that he did that, he got Jonny sleep-soft and pleased like this.

"You're supposed to be sleeping," Patrick says, smiling a little.

"I wanted to say thank you," Jonny says. He rolls over onto his back with a satisfied sigh of pure relaxed pleasure, and Patrick can't help it; his eye is drawn right away to the crotch of Jonny's briefs, where his cock is obvious and big, pressing thick and hard against the fabric. It's a good cock. Patrick remembers it really well, and his own dick fattens up a little more. There's probably no way he can hide it in these sweatpants, but well, it's not like Jonny's any better off than he is.

There's a charged moment when they both stare silently at each other; and then Patrick makes a decision. Fuck it, this is what he does for a living; he can get this done without entanglements. He takes an uncertain step forward, saying, "I could - " and gestures at Jonny's dick.

Jonny sighs and shuts his eyes for a second before blinking them open. "You should sleep too," he says. He's still looking at Patrick, his eyes soft and sure, and that's the only thing that keeps the rejection from slamming into Patrick.

Patrick stops where he is. "I just want to help," he says quietly.

"I know," Jonny says. "You're already helping. So much."

"But I want to do more for you."

"No," Jonny replies. "You're doing so much for me - I can't ask for any more from you."

Patrick takes a step closer. "You're not asking. I'm the one who wants to give you more. Just - let me."

He reaches out and places his hand on Jonny's belly, over the trail of hair leading out of his boxers up to his navel. Jonny swallows visibly and catches Patrick's hand by the wrist.

"You know that - I'm not expecting this, right? Just because I'm paying you to help me out? I don't - I'm not going to take advantage of you. I don't want you to feel like you have to do this to, I don't even know, thank me or something crazy like that -"

"I know," Patrick whispers. He slides his hand lower, freeing it from Jonny's grip, until he's cupping Jonny's cock over his briefs. It jumps under his hand, warm and thick and hard, and god, god, Patrick wants him. Not just out of a sense of charity or obligation or whatever Jonny thinks, but he wants Jonny. "I just want to."

There's a long, interminable pause. Patrick doesn't look away from Jonny, and he doesn't take his hand away either.

"Okay," Jonny says, soft. Finally.

He reaches for Patrick; Patrick slides into Jonny's bed next to him like he's pulled by a magnet, and Jonny drags him half on top of him to kiss him.

When they'd kissed that night, Jonny had been a confident, sure kisser. Now that he's limp and relaxed from the massage, his kisses are soft and languid, his tongue licking slowly into Patrick's mouth instead of the firm way he'd kissed before that had been bordering on forceful. He slides an arm under Patrick's head to cradle him, before Patrick feels his hand cup him on the back of his neck, holding him close while they kiss, slow and lazy and unhurried.

Patrick tugs Jonny's briefs down as far as he can reach until Jonny takes over and kicks them off the rest of the way; then he curls his fist around Jonny's blood-hot cock. Jonny sighs into his mouth at the touch and dips his hand into the waistband of Patrick's sweats as well, taking hold of his dick. Patrick feels him stroke the pad of his thumb gently over the head, where he's slick and wet from precome, and shudders at it; he's so sensitive and overheated and Jonny's barely touched him, god.

"Wait," he says, wrenching himself away from Jonny's mouth. "Wait, use this - "

He fumbles for the bottle of oil which he's dropped somewhere in the sheets behind him, and sits up to pour some into his palms, rubbing them together. Jonny lifts himself on one elbow and leans up to nuzzle into Patrick's neck and bite a kiss into his jaw. It makes Patrick gasp out a laugh, but he tips his head back, allowing Jonny more access; Jonny takes full advantage of it, licking over the tendon in his neck before sucking a kiss into it, and Patrick's dick jumps in his sweats when he realises that tomorrow there'll probably be a mark there. He's never allowed any client to leave marks on him; but fuck, the thought of a bruise on his neck in the shape of Jonny's mouth is somehow incredibly erotic to him in this moment.

"Here," he says, taking Jonny's hand and rubbing the oil over it and into his palm, while Jonny licks over the bite mark on his neck, breathing hard enough for Patrick to hear.

Once Jonny's hand is sufficiently slick, he yanks his sweatpants down over his ass and then kicks them off until they're tangled around his ankles; then he slides back down until they're face to face like they were before. Jonny's mouth finds his again, hungry and warm like he can't keep his mouth off Patrick. It's almost - sweet, really, even as Jonny wraps his hand around his cock again, stroking up and over the crown, then back down.

He gets his hand back on Jonny's cock, relishing the weight of it; it's full and thick and heavy, his fingers just barely meeting around its girth. Jonny's the biggest guy he's ever slept with; he remembers how it felt in his mouth when he'd sucked Jonny off that night, how he could only take half of it before it was bumping gently into the back of his throat, and almost without thinking about it he starts sucking on Jonny's tongue in a mini simulacrum of what he really wants.

He remembers, too, when Jonny fucked him, how full and satisfied he'd felt, how good it had been to be stretched wide on that big cock. His hole clenches a little at the thought. Fuck, he's thinking of Jonny's cock inside him now, while he's jerking him off, rubbing his palm over the sensitive head with each upstroke of his fist, listening to Jonny's rapid breaths, the pleased little 'mm' sounds he's making.

Jonny brings him back to the present with a clever flick of his wrist, his thumb sliding over his wet cockhead, and Patrick gasps into his mouth, pressing himself closer to Jonny.

"This is good?" Jonny murmurs against his lips.

"Yeah," Patrick says breathlessly, his hips twitching, fucking his dick in little minute motions into Jonny's fist. "Yeah, s'good. Come closer to me."

Jonny worms himself close to Patrick until their chests are pressed together; Jonny's chest is broad and firm, his skin hot even through the fabric of Patrick's t-shirt. He cradles Patrick's head again, his fingers moving automatically into the curls at the nape of Patrick's neck, and wow, Patrick hadn't known this before, but he kind of likes being held this way a lot. His wrist is trapped in an awkward position like this, though, and he's not getting much leverage to work his fist up and down Jonny's dick anymore; but as if Jonny knows his difficulty, he gently tugs his hand away.

"Let me," Jonny says, and wraps his hand around both their cocks.

"Oh, fuck," Patrick groans, hitching his hips helplessly upwards. "This is - yeah, I like this."

He feels Jonny smile against his mouth, and he'd smile back, if not for the fact that he's preoccupied with sucking on Jonny's lower lip, his body hot from the sensation of his cock pressed up against Jonny's thick one, Jonny working them both in a sweet, tight grip. They're both slick with the oil and their mingled precome, and Jonny's hand glides over Patrick's cock smoothly. Patrick feels like he's burning up, all of his nerve endings singing, narrowing down to where Jonny's holding him.

"You feel really, really good like this," Jonny whispers. He presses Patrick closer to him, his hold on the back of Patrick's neck tightening. "Like having you close."

"I'm here," Patrick says breathlessly. "Oh, god, Jonny, please - "

"Tell me what you need," Jonny says. He pulls away from Patrick's mouth as he speaks, to lick over the sharp jut of his jaw, before he goes back to kissing him.

Patrick's trembling, his body lighting up. "Just - tighter."

Jonny squeezes them tighter, and Patrick feels his cock swell, buttressed up against Jonny's thick dick like it's a support pillar. He's still rolling his hips restlessly, Jonny's big hand holding him firm, and he feels the beginnings of his orgasm start to crest, rising in his lower belly.

"Faster," he begs, and Jonny speeds up his strokes, pushing Patrick closer and closer to the edge.

"Come for me," Jonny says, and bites Patrick's lower lip, and that does it: Patrick goes right over in a wave of pure, mind-consuming pleasure.

"Oh - fuck," he chokes out, his body snapping taut, white noise fizzing in his ears as he feels himself spill over Jonny's fist. It's so good, far too good, and Patrick's brain goes on the fritz for a few seconds while his body gives itself over to Jonny's clever, strong hand.

He hears Jonny groan, and the next moment Jonny's cock seems to swell against his own pulsing one, and then Jonny's making these deep, inarticulate noises into his mouth as he comes as well, spurting over Patrick's cock and belly, adding to the slippery mess between them.

"Holy shit," Jonny says, panting hard. "Fuck - shit."

Patrick can commiserate. His body's limp and boneless in Jonny's arms, legs trembling. Jonny's still stroking them both, slow and deliberate, his fist loose, and Patrick curls up a little from the oversensitivity, clasping his hand over Jonny's to stop him before he tips over the fine line from pleasure into too-much.

Fuck. Who ever knew a simple handjob could feel like this?

"Patrick," Jonny says. Patrick blinks until his vision clears, and looks right into Jonny's face, a mere couple of inches from his. Jonny's eyes are very black, but he radiates contentment, and when Patrick glances at his mouth, his lips are swollen and red from Patrick's teeth and mouth. It makes Patrick's stomach flip over to see it, and he thinks again of the way Jonny had sucked on his neck earlier, how he'll have a mark there. "You okay?"

"I'm so good," Patrick says. "More than okay."

He pushes himself upright with some reluctance; the moment he sits up, he misses Jonny's touch, the warmth of his skin. He looks away from Jonny so he won't be tempted to lie right back down and curl into him, and gropes around in the sheets until he finds the towel he'd brought with him earlier.

"Give me your hand," he says, and Jonny lifts it. There are streaks of come splattered over his knuckles, sticky on his palm, and Patrick just - he can't help himself closing his mouth over one of Jonny's fingers, sucking the come off. Jonny groans, squeezing his eyes shut.

"You're going to fucking kill me," he says.

Patrick pulls off his finger with a pop, feeling both smug and weirdly, unaccountably shy. He shouldn't be shy - he's done too much to be shy about this. But he puts the feeling out of his mind and works efficiently after that; he wipes Jonny's hand clean, and then cleans off Jonny's abs and the area around his cock, gleaming sticky with their come.

He wipes himself off last, and by this time Jonny's cracked an eye open to look at him again.

"You look gorgeous," he says, voice hoarse, and reaches out to thumb along Patrick's lower lip, swollen and sensitive from Jonny's kisses. "This is a good look on you."

"What's this?" Patrick asks, teasing a little.

"Orgasms," Jonny replies. He yawns right after saying that, and Patrick bites back a smile.

"You really have to sleep now," he says, sliding out of Jonny's bed, bending down to pick his sweatpants up. His legs are actually wobbly, god. "Get some rest, okay?"

Jonny looks surprised. "You - where are you going?"

"Back to my room."

"Oh," Jonny says. The surprise on his face melts away into something that looks very much like disappointment - but it can't be, because Jonny was so against them doing something in the first place that Patrick had to practically beg him. He wouldn't be wanting Patrick to stay in his bed. He'll probably start talking about how he expects nothing from Patrick, and how their contract doesn't say he needs to spend the night in Jonny's bedroom. "Um, okay."

"Goodnight," Patrick says, and is about to turn to leave when Jonny grabs his wrist.

"Patrick?" Jonny says. "You're amazing. Thank you."

He sits up then and, before Patrick can even register it, he kisses him on the lips. It's a sweet, brief kiss, nothing at all like the deep, hot kisses they'd shared just a few minutes earlier - but it makes Patrick tingle all the way down to his toes.

"Nothing to it," Patrick says, flustered, taking a step back; Jonny lets his wrist go. "Sleep well."

Long after he's showered and changed into a fresh set of sweats, cocooned in his bed in the guest bedroom, he's still thinking of Jonny - but not the way he'd shook and shuddered and come over Jonny's fist. Instead he's thinking of that kiss, of the way Jonny had looked at him, like he'd wanted something more.

Patrick closes his eyes. It's just four more weeks till the end of their contract.

There's nothing more either of them could - should - want or ask for.

Chapter Text

"I think I - really really like him," Patrick says. "I mean like - like him."

He's spreading PB&J on a slice of white bread, his phone set to speaker mode and sitting on the counter in front of him. It's not something he normally eats, and even less so now that he's living with Jonny and all his gluten-free, dairy-free, clean-eating pro athlete dietary requirements; but he'd woken up to find Jonny gone for morning skate and the evidence of their - hookup, whatever - in the bathroom mirror, where the mark Jonny had sucked into the skin of his neck last night is a blooming purplish-red today and his lips are still tender from Jonny's mouth.

He'd panicked, texted Erica in a frenzy, and now he just needs something loaded with sugar and preservatives to quiet the churning in his gut. Counter-intuitive, maybe, but Patrick needs that damn processed sugar.

"Oh god," Erica sighs. She'd been at work when he texted her, and now Patrick can hear in the background the sounds of people typing away at their keyboards, phones ringing. Erica works as a realtor for the biggest real estate company in Buffalo, and she's almost always out showing people houses, but by some miracle she'd actually been in the office and able to call him back right away. "Patty, you're a fucking cliche. You know this, right?"

"What do you mean?" Patrick says, immediately on the defensive.

"Uh, an escort booked by a rich man who gets pretty-womaned up, and falls in love? Is this not the biggest cliche you've ever heard of?"

Patrick looks down at himself: frayed white t-shirt worn thin and stretched, old ratty boxers, and yellow furry socks on his feet, because they get cold on Jonny's marble floors. He has to work to suppress the laughter bubbling out of him. "Trust me, I'm not being pretty-womaned. Far from it."

"What's really going on?" Erica asks quietly.

"I - don't really know," Patrick says. He takes a bite of his PB&J sandwich and swallows; it seems to stick in his throat, and he has to swallow again, several times, before it goes down. "I just - I don't know. I like him. He's a really good man."

"Good men don't pay escorts to pretend they're having a relationship," Erica says, a sneer in her voice.

"He is a good man," Patrick insists. "He didn't have a choice - god, if you could see the stuff people were saying about him. And he could be traded, Erica. He's done so much for this city, he has a foundation set up for the kids here, he's won them cups - and they could trade him, just for being gay. Does that sound fair or right to you?"

"Okay, yeah, I know that's shitty for him, but - I think you're rushing into things. You're going into this too fast, and it worries me. You barely even know him."

I do know him, Patrick thinks. He thinks about the way Jonny looks at him sometimes, eyes soft and a little longing, his smile warm. He thinks about the ways Jonny makes sure he's taken care of when he's out of town, and Jonny remembering little details about what he likes, even his brief throwaway remarks, and how Jonny wanted to help him and pay for the girls.

Most of all he thinks about last night, the way Jonny had cradled him and kissed him as he'd made Patrick fall apart, and how he could so easily have taken anything he wanted from Patrick, even if Patrick wasn't willing to give it. How he could have pushed Patrick onto his bed and forced himself on him and - Patrick would have let it happen, would have let Jonny do it. But Jonny didn't.

"He respects me," Patrick says, soft. "To him - he doesn't see me as just an escort, or anything like that. He's kind, and he's amazing, and he respects me as a person. He's just - I've never met anyone like him, you know? I've never met someone who didn't want to take something from my body. And it's the same for him, because he's wealthy and famous. Everyone just wants a piece of him. But he's never like that with me."

Erica stays quiet for a long moment. Then she says, "Oh my god. You've gone and fallen in love with him."

"I told you that at the start," Patrick replies snippily. Then it sinks in what Erica actually said, and he freezes, fingers sinking into the soft bread.

"You did!"

"Fuck," Patrick says. "I said I like him. Not - anything else."

"That's bullshit," Erica says, stubborn as hell. "I've never heard you talk like this about anyone before."

Patrick shrugs helplessly, even though he knows Erica can't see it, and looks down at his sandwich, where he's squeezed it hard enough for finger-shaped depressions to appear on the bread and the PB&J to spill from the sides.

"He's a genuinely good person," Patrick says. He presses again at his sandwich, distractedly trying to flatten out the obvious finger marks. "There are so few of them around, because this world is shit. And he's just - he's great. He's so good to me, and he doesn't have to be, you know? He could ignore me the whole time and only pretend when we're in public. But he talks to me like - like he wants to know me. Like he's interested in me as a person. And he - he takes care of me."

Erica sighs again. "Patty - god, why did you have to go and fall for the guy and complicate things further for yourself? Couldn't you just have taken his money and not - have feelings?"

"Like I can control having feelings? For fuck's sake."

"I just don't want you to get hurt," Erica says. "And - Pat, this is just a contract to him. To save him from being traded, or whatever. It's not permanent. You're going to get hurt."

"I fucking know that," Patrick snaps. Erica's words feel like dull punches right into the pit of his chest. He puts his sandwich down, suddenly no longer hungry. Fuck.

"What are you going to do?" Erica asks. She's very quiet now, as if she can feel what he's feeling.

"What can I do?" Patrick says bitterly. "Just finish out this contract and then we're done and I can forget that the best two months of my life ever took place."

"Patty, I'm sorry," Erica begins.

"Yeah. It's fine. You weren't wrong. I'm just for temporary hire," Patrick replies. He's really struggling to hold back the hurt and anger now, and he needs to hang up before he says something really awful to his sister that he'll regret. It's not Erica's fault that any of this happened to them. She's just looking out for him because she cares.

Jonny cares for me too, a little voice whispers in the back of his mind. Too fucking stubborn to just give up on this pipe dream.

"Patrick - "

"I've got to go. Talk to you soon."

"Love you," Erica says, her voice small and plaintive.

Patrick swallows against the resentment clogging his throat. "Love you too," he says.

She's wrong, that little voice says in his head again.

Patrick doesn't know who to listen to.

---

When Jonny gets home at noon, Patrick's waiting for him with a bottle of Jonny's usual post-practice smoothie. He's seen Jonny make it enough times to kind of guess at what he likes to have in it, and it's probably a pretty good approximation of the one Jonny makes. Or at least, Jonny doesn't complain when he hands it over, just widens his eyes in surprise and gives him a warm smile.

"Thanks," he says, looking down at it. He's still smiling, as if Patrick had handed him a diamond instead of a tumbler filled with a gloopy mixture of almond milk, chia seeds, bananas, carrots and kale. "You made me my smoothie? Really?"

"Yeah," Patrick says. Jonny's still flushed from morning skate and his workout, and all Patrick can think of is how he'd looked like this last night after he'd come all over them both. He looks away, licking his lips; he'd wanted to act normal today - that's why he made Jonny the smoothie so he could act like he was totally cool about the whole thing and nothing's changed between them, but seeing Jonny again up close in the bright light of day - it's making him fidgety and unaccountably nervous. "I just kind of - guessed at what you put in. I hope it's okay."

Jonny takes a sip of it and grins. "It's delicious," he declares. "Maybe I should put you on permanent smoothie-making duty, eh?"

"Make your own smoothies, I'm not your housewife," Patrick says archly, but it only makes Jonny laugh and take another gulp. The fact that Jonny's being so natural and his usual easygoing, slightly dorky self is helping Patrick to relax a little more, though, enough that he manages to grin back at Jonny.

"Oh, hey," Jonny says suddenly, as if he's only just remembered it, "I wanted to ask you something."

He turns as he speaks, walking away from Patrick to flop on the sectional and turn the TV on. There's something about that - the deliberate casualness of his movements, the way he's choosing to keep his eyes on the TV instead of on Patrick, that makes Patrick think whatever he wants to ask isn't so casual after all. Fuck. What if Jonny wants to ask him about last night? What if Jonny asks - jesus, what if he wants to know how Patrick feels about it? Patrick's still a little raw and open from his conversation with Erica; he's not sure he's ready for that kind of talk with Jonny at all.

"Um, yes?" he says slowly. His lips feel dry, and he licks them again, sucking his lower lip into his mouth.

"Oh, I just wondered if you'd like to come to the game tonight, that's all," Jonny says. He's still staring at the TV, and when Patrick glances at it, it's showing a rerun of some dumb brain-dead reality show which Patrick knows for a fact Jonny doesn't watch, so yeah - clearly this question, and Patrick's answer, is more important to Jonny than he's letting on, despite the air of studied insousiance he's putting on. Then he wonders, inexplicably, why Jonny isn't wanting to talk to him about last night. Which is dumb, because he doesn't want to talk about it, or about his feelings. Nope.

But also - a Blackhawks game, watching Jonny play. Except this time he'll be going there with Jonny, in public view as Jonny's boyfriend - even if they're not really boyfriends. Shit.

"You mean - like, is this a PR thing?" he asks slowly. "The Blackhawks want you to take me? Put me in front of a camera or something?"

"What - oh," Jonny says, swinging round to stare at Patrick, looking startled. "Oh, no, nothing like that - it's just, I thought you might like to go. I was thinking, you've been here with me for a month, and you haven't gone to any of our games - and you like hockey, so I really should have asked you much earlier, but - yeah. I'd love it if you came."

"Oh," Patrick says, exhaling. Jonny wants him to come to the game. Not Blackhawks PR. Not for any special event, but just - he wants Patrick there. "Yes. Yeah. Of course. It'll be great."

Patrick can see the relief wash over Jonny's face; and all at once he realises just how worried Jonny had been that he'd turn him down and not want to come. And then it occurs to him that the Blackhawks have been doing incredibly well over the past few weeks and in fact are on an eight-game win streak right now; which only means Jonny wants Patrick to watch him play, watch his team do well, show off a little for him.

Oh god. Jonny wants to fucking peacock for him. Patrick has no idea why he's taken so long to realise this, but now that he does, it's hard to stop the smile spreading across his face and the warmth growing in his chest.

"I'll definitely come," he repeats, and finds himself loving the sight of Jonny's smile directed at him, fond and pleased.

"You'll be okay, though? I'll put you in the family suite, obviously, but if you're seen around the arena, you know you'll be photographed - "

"Jonny," Patrick interrupts, walking over to him. He puts a hand on Jonny's arm, feeling the muscle jump under his skin. "I'll be fine. Don't worry. I know what I signed up for."

"Okay," Jonny says. He reaches up and grasps Patrick's hand, squeezing it; it makes Patrick start a little, because this is the first time Jonny's touched him without his explicit permission. He likes it, though; likes Jonny's touch on him. "I'll - we'll play well. For you."

And - well, that's the sweetest thing someone's ever said to Patrick. He likes it a lot, even though he feels his cheeks heat up and he has to duck his head so he won't look directly at Jonny. Jonny keeps his hand on his, and Patrick doesn't try to move it away.

"Just one thing," he says. "Do you have a spare jersey? That I could wear?"

The smile that grows on Jonny's face is almost blinding. "You want to wear my jersey?"

"You're my boyfriend - sort of, at least," Patrick says. "Of course I'm wearing your jersey. Unless you want me to wear, I don't know, Patrick Sharp's?"

"Fuck no," Jonny says, so quickly that Patrick almost laughs out loud. He jumps up. "I do have one," he says, and goes into his bedroom, almost at a run.

He comes out a minute later, holding a red Blackhawks jersey in his hands, and shakes it out in front of Patrick. When Patrick looks closer at it, he realises this isn't a brand new jersey - it's a game worn one, used and laundered before. Holy shit, Jonny's letting Patrick wear one of his game worn jerseys.

"So - I wore this jersey once before," Jonny says. "Just once. You know when?"

"When?"

"2013, Game 6," Jonny says. "When I scored that goal." That goal being the game winning goal against the Bruins, with 59 seconds left in the game. The goal that won the Blackhawks their second Stanley Cup.

Patrick feels his mouth fall open.

"I've been meaning to get it framed," Jonny continues, "but I never managed to get around to it, for one reason or another. So it's just been hanging in a bag in my closet all this while - but I guess it was just waiting for the perfect moment to be worn again."

He holds it out to Patrick. "So - wear this."

Patrick has to swallow when he reaches out with shaking hands to take the jersey from Jonny. Holy shit. He's holding an actual piece of sports history in his hands. The actual jersey Jonny wore in that Game 6, the jersey he won a Stanley Cup in. It's unbelievable. The jersey feels strangely heavy, like it's too much for Patrick to carry.

"Are you sure?" he manages. "What if I ruin it? What if I spill something on it or tear it, or - "

"Hey," Jonny says softly. "It's okay. You won't ruin it. I want you to wear this."

Patrick looks down at the bundle of precious red fabric he's holding. "Are you sure?"

Jonny reaches towards him then, takes the jersey out of his hands; and for one dreadful moment Patrick thinks that Jonny's changed his mind, that he's taking it back. But all Jonny does is shake it out and slip it over Patrick's head, before nudging Patrick to put his arms through the sleeves, which he does, feeling like he's in a daze.

When Jonny tugs the jersey down over his body, Patrick feels warm all over. It's far too big for him - the hem hangs down below his ass, and the sleeves fall over his fingertips - but seeing the C on his chest and the 19 emblazoned on the sleeves, knowing that Jonny wore this jersey to win a Cup - well, it's a lot to take in.

"Perfect," Jonny murmurs, looking down at him.

Patrick feels like he's just been given the adult, wealthy, pro hockey player version of a letterman jacket.

"Thanks," he whispers, and realises that he is stupidly, ridiculously happy.

The wide smile on Jonny's face is all he needs in response.

---

The family suite at the United Center is located on the club level, with a perfect view of centre ice. The nice lady who leads Patrick there - Marie from PR, she'd said - tells him that the suite is mainly used by the Wirtz family and family members of senior front office executives, and that the players' wives and girlfriends usually prefer to sit in the level 100 seats, amongst the crowd.

"You could join them there, if you want," Marie offers. "Dayna Seabrook and Abby Sharp are here most nights."

Patrick stares at her in shock. Join the wives and girlfriends, like he's one of them? Marie's from the PR department, which means she probably knows about him and his arrangement with Jonny - so she'll know he's a fraud and not really a partner or a family member, even though she's been really nice to him and is nothing but professional. Why is she offering to seat him with the real spouses and partners? And amongst fans, who might be really nice and leave him alone, or they might heckle him and Jonny - Patrick never knows what's going to happen when he and Jonny go out, much less when he's seen at the UC for the first time. He'd much rather sit in the spacious, quiet family suite, even if he's all alone in here, and just concentrate on watching Jonny play.

"No, I think I'm fine here," he says. "Thank you so much."

Marie nods, like she's not surprised. "Enjoy the game, Mr. Kane," she says. "I'll check in with you at both intermissions and come back at the end of the third to collect you and bring you down to the family room. You can wait there for Jon to finish up with media and post-game workouts and all that. For now - would you like something to drink? Some snacks?"

Patrick's quite overwhelmed by this special, frankly over-the-top service. He's nothing, no one, he's not even a real boyfriend; but here Marie is practically putting out the red carpet for him. "Um - no, I'm good, really," he manages.

Marie arches a perfectly-drawn eyebrow at him. "It's going to be a long, thirsty three hours if you're going to sit here without any food or drink," she says, and Patrick immediately feels like he's doing her a disservice if he doesn't ask for something.

In the end, he gets nachos and guacamole - served to him in pretty crystal bowls, not paper boxes like he'd expected - and a bottle of white wine. Marie thoughtfully has a few water bottles brought to him as well, and then leaves him alone, reminding him to buzz her if he needs anything.

Patrick settles himself into a plush armchair in front of the glass, still feeling like he's in some sort of alternate reality. He can't believe he's here, at the United Center, sitting in the private family suite as Jonathan Toews' boyfriend, wine and nachos on a little table next to him.

It kind of hurts that in a few short weeks, all of this will be over.

He's thinking about that when he hears the sound of the horn, and when he looks down, the players are skating out for warmups to the cheers of the crowd and the thumping beat of some dance song the UC DJ is playing. Jonny comes out last, the 19 on his back large and clear, and it gives Patrick a little warm jolt when he looks down at himself and sees the 19 on his own sleeves.

It's not even all the luxury and perks that Patrick's going to miss. He doesn't care about all of that - has never cared about it. But he's going to miss being Jonny's boyfriend, even if it's nothing but a thin veneer of falsehoods laid over the truth. He's going to miss Jonny.

---

Jonny on the ice is a force.

He's good, of course, Patrick's always known that. He's built statistical models of Jonny's on-ice performance, after all. But there's always something breathtaking about watching Jonny in the UC.

He's playing tonight like a man possessed - and for a midweek game in early March, against the Stars, there's really no need for that - but Patrick remembers that Jonny wants to show off for him, and the thought makes his body heat up and his jeans grow a little tighter.

He shifts in his seat, thanking all the powers that be that he's alone in the suite, and grabs another handful of nachos.

The Blackhawks are playing well - quick and responsive, the defence tight against a fast Stars team, but both teams stay tied with no goals until less than thirty seconds to the end of the first, and Jonny breaks the deadlock with a spectacular solo effort where he forces a turnover in the neutral zone, takes the puck all the way up the ice, and flicks it coolly and confidently over the goalie's shoulder blocker-side with a wicked backhand.

The UC erupts; the crowd is so loud that Patrick can feel the sound echoing and thudding through the walls and the floor. He finds himself on his feet, cheering and clapping even though no one can see or hear him, suffused with pride. Fuck, Jonny is amazing.

Jonny's heading back to the bench for fistbumps, and Patrick watches him, his cheeks aching from smiling. But then he sees Jonny turn away from the bench to face where the family suite is, and sees him raise his stick to him, and his breath catches in his throat.

That was for him.

Patrick can't stop smiling.

---

Jonny scores a hat trick.

Jonny gets a fucking hat trick, and the UC sounds like a crowd of stampeding elephants are rampaging through the arena once the final horn goes and Chelsea Dagger starts blaring. Patrick's heart is thumping so fast he thinks it might never slow down again, but fuck, he's so proud of Jonny he could burst.

And whenever he thinks of the way Jonny had turned to face him and lifted his stick to him after each goal - well, he really can't be blamed for the boner he's got going on now. Who ever knew he had a competency kink? Or maybe it's just a Jonny kink.

Either way, he's very glad for how loose and baggy Jonny's jersey is, when Marie comes back in to escort him to the family room situated next to the locker room. By the time he's introduced to Dayna Seabrook and Abby Sharp and Chaunette, Andrew Shaw's girlfriend, the nervousness of that has calmed his dick down enough that he's not going to embarrass himself - or god forbid, Jonny - in front of them.

"So you're Patrick," Abby Sharp says as they shake hands, her younger daughter perched on her hip and her older girl in the back of the room, playing with Dayna Seabrook's oldest son.. "It's so nice to meet you finally. Jonny can't stop talking about you, according to my husband."

Wait, what. "He - really?" Patrick stammers, flustered.

Abby laughs. "Pat says Jonny's crazy about you. We've never seen him this happy in years."

For a moment Patrick's confused by her saying Pat - it takes him a second to remember that she means her husband. Holy shit. Patrick Sharp himself discusses him with Jonny. And with his wife. Patrick Sharp knows who Patrick Kane is. This is - insane, and also amazing.

But then it sinks in what Abby said, and Patrick starts feeling a little faint because it's all kind of -- too much for him to absorb at once. Abby and Patrick Sharp think Jonny's crazy about him? Really? Maybe Jonny's just putting on an act for them - Patrick knows for a fact that their arrangement is known only to Blackhawks senior executives and their PR and legal teams; Jonny had told him before that he wasn't intending to tell his teammates the truth, just to make the deception easier and more believable, and to minimise the risk of it being leaked.

But then his mind flashes back to earlier that day when Jonny had given him his jersey - his Stanley Cup winning jersey - and the way Jonny had looked at him then, and again when Jonny had raised his stick to him after each of his goals. There's no way all of that was an act. He's seen Jonny's commercials, he's not that great of an actor. No one is.

The happiness spreading slowly through him is almost too much to bear.

He's still distracted thinking about Jonny, Jonny talking about him to his teammates, being crazy about him, and almost misses Abby saying, "It's awful what they did to both of you, outing you guys like that - but there's a silver lining, I guess. Jonny's free to live his life openly now, and Pat says you really make him happy."

Patrick flushes. "Um, I guess," he manages. He can feel himself blushing, and pretends to sniffle and rub his nose with the back of his hand in a poor attempt to cover his face. He remembers a second too late that Jonny's jersey is hanging over his hands and he's rubbing the fabric over his face, and lets his hand drop in a panic, hoping he didn't dirty it.

God, he needs to get it together and stop acting like an idiot.

"... maybe in a couple of weeks, after they're back from their East Coast road trip," Abby's saying.

Patrick blinks. "Sorry?"

Abby just smiles, like she knows he's discomfited, and hitches her daughter - Sadie, Patrick remembers her saying - higher. "I was saying - I could put together a little dinner thing or something in a few weeks, have you and Jonny over."

"That sounds - really good. Thank you," Patrick manages to say. Dinner with the Sharps. Like he's really part of their circle now. Oh god.

"Perfect, I'll pencil a date in and let Jonny know," Abby says cheerfully.

The door opens at that moment and Jonny himself walks in, eyes scanning the room until they land on Patrick and - Patrick's sure he's not imagining this - light right up.

"Oh hey, here's our hat trick hero," Abby says as Jonny walks over. He has his coat on over his suit, a long herringbone wool one that hangs open casually, because Jonny is a walking space heater who never feels the cold, and it makes Patrick weak in the knees to see how good he looks. He actually ignores Abby when he reaches them, his eyes still fixed on Patrick, as if he doesn't even realise Abby's right there.

"Hey," he says; he makes a movement as if he wants to put an arm around Patrick's waist, and then stops. Patrick remembers Jonny's stupid thing about never touching him unless Patrick gives him permission, and subtly leans in towards him until Jonny gets the message and gets his arm round him, drawing him close. He's warm and smells of soap, and Patrick wonders what he can do to get Jonny to hold him like this all the time without thinking he needs Patrick's explicit consent.

"Oh, okay, ignore me then," Abby says laughingly.

Jonny looks over at her, startled, and Patrick tries not to laugh at the surprise on his face. God, he really hadn't noticed Abby because he'd been totally focused on Patrick. "Abby! Sorry, hey, great to see you - Sadie, how are you, baby? Where's Maddy?"

He kisses Abby on the cheek as he talks, then Sadie, and something seizes up in Patrick's heart to see the way he smiles at Sadie and rubs his nose against hers.

"Back there with Carter," Abby says, pointing, and Jonny glances back and smiles at the sight of Maddy engrossed in some kind of game involving building pyramids of warmup pucks. The something in Patrick's heart squeezes a little tighter.

"Listen, I'd love to stay and chat, but I'm starving, and I bet Patrick is too. Plus, we should maybe go out and celebrate a little, right?" Jonny says, looking down at Patrick with a grin. He's radiating smugness and it makes Patrick want to laugh - but hey, Jonny fucking deserves to be smug, he has a hat trick after all - and Patrick just presses himself closer to Jonny, loving the way Jonny's hand tightens on his hip.

"It's okay," Abby's saying, "I know you guys are eager to go - great game tonight, Jonny. I was telling Patrick here we should do a dinner thing soon at my place - maybe at the end of the month?"

"Sounds good," Jonny says. "Let me know when you want that. See you soon, Abs."

"It was really nice meeting you, Patrick," Abby says, smiling.

"You too, see you soon," Patrick replies, and follows Jonny out of the room, feeling both relieved and happy. He hasn't embarrassed himself or Jonny, and he's managed to have a whole conversation with Abby without her suspecting anything. He counts it as a win.

"Everything good?" Jonny asks him. "Did you have a good time?"

"I had an amazing time," Patrick tells him honestly. "Everyone was so nice to me. And you - you scored a fucking hat trick. You're a fuckin' beast."

Jonny just looks unbearably smug again. "I'm glad we did well for your first time watching as my boyfriend."

"Don't even front," Patrick says, as Jonny opens his car door for him and he slides in. He waits for Jonny to get to the driver's side and climb in as well, before he adds, "You're just happy you got to show off for me."

Jonny doesn't reply as he turns the engine on and puts the car in gear, and for a few long frozen moments Patrick wonders if he's said something wrong, if maybe he's read Jonny all wrong the whole time; but then he realises Jonny's smiling.

"I did want to show off for you," Jonny says finally. "The hat trick. That was for you. I wanted to score at least one goal - but hey, not gonna complain about three. But that was all for you."

And that's just - Patrick thinks about Jonny turning round to face the glass wall of the family suite up on club level, raising his stick to Patrick, and all at once the rush of emotion and pure want that slams through him is almost too much. He shifts in the car seat, feeling his dick stir again like it had earlier.

For him. Jonny scored those goals, all for him.

"I know, I saw you," he says quietly, and impulsively leans over to kiss Jonny on the corner of his lips. "You were so amazing. Thank you."

Jonny's air of smugness stays throughout the whole drive to the steakhouse.

---

Patrick's almost crawling out of his skin by the time they get home. He's been in a low level of arousal throughout their dinner, and he can't even explain why; just the proximity of Jonny close to him, holding his hand, watching him laugh, thinking of Jonny saying he scored his hat trick for him - all of that is combining into a heady, unstoppable rush of pure want.

It should scare him, this wave of desperation and need. He's never felt like this about someone before. Sex has always been a job, a means to an end. But now - now he just wants Jonny, in every way possible, for no reason other than that he's really, really into him.

He steps into the condo behind Jonny, toeing his shoes off, steeling himself for what he's about to ask.

"Jonny?" he says.

Jonny's shrugging his coat off, his back to Patrick; he turns round to face him, his mouth shaping into a question, and Patrick takes a step forward, goes on tiptoe and kisses him.

The coat falls to the floor and crumples around their feet; Patrick doesn't even care. He loops his arms around Jonny's neck, pulling him closer, licking his way hungrily into Jonny's mouth, and feels Jonny's big hands come up to close around his hips as if on autopilot, fingers pressing gently into the curve of his ass. His dick, which has been half hard all night, roars to life so fast Patrick feels dizzy. He can't help but press himself forward, pushing his cock into Jonny's huge, muscled thigh -

Jonny wrenches his mouth away from Patrick's. "Patrick - what are you doing?" he asks, looking and sounding confused as hell, but he keeps his grip on Patrick, doesn't let go of him

Okay, maybe Patrick should have actually told him what he wanted before springing surprise kisses on him.

He licks his lips, wanting Jonny's mouth back on him again. "Do you - not want this?" he asks, and waits for what Jonny's going to say.

Jonny sighs, and his fingers tighten on Patrick's hips. "Patrick - I've told you. You don't need to do this. You don't owe me anything."

"That's not an answer to my question," Patrick says quietly. "Do you want me, or do you not?"

"Do I want - jesus," Jonny says with a long exhale of breath. "Fuck - what kind of a question is that? You can't tell?"

Patrick can tell, of course. He's seen how Jonny's eyes linger on him all the time, as if Patrick's the sole focus of his attention; he knows how Jonny treats him, like he's something precious and fragile; and he thinks about Jonny giving him his 2013 Game 6 jersey, telling him: that was all for you. And he remembers the way Jonny had kissed him the night before, how he'd been so intent on Patrick's pleasure even though it was supposed to have been all about him, and how disappointed he had looked when Patrick slipped out of his bed to go back to his own bedroom.

He thinks - he knows Jonny wants him. But he wants to hear it.

"Do you?" he asks, insistent. His arms are still looped around Jonny's neck, and he cards his fingers into the short hair at the back of Jonny's head.

"Of course I want you," Jonny says, his voice deepening to a low growl. "You - you're living with me, and you're beautiful, and smart, and sweet, and - I've wanted you since the second week you've been here, probably."

There's a thrill that ripples down Patrick's spine at Jonny's words, and it makes goosebumps rise on his arms.

"But I can't," Jonny says, and he looks so miserable that Patrick almost wants to laugh, because god, he's putting it on a serving platter for Jonny right now, and Jonny's just denying himself out of some misplaced sense of nobility or whatever. "I can't make you do this."

"You're not making me do anything," Patrick says. "I do have personal autonomy, you know that, right? Just because I'm an escort doesn't mean I don't get to choose who I want to sleep with."

"I know that," Jonny says, an edge of frustration creeping into his voice. "It's just - look. You have to sleep with men for money. I understand that. But I don't want to be - just one of those men. I don't want to be someone who uses you and then thinks they can pay you off for it. I want to be -"

He trails off abruptly, but he's still staring at Patrick like he can't tear his eyes away. His fingers are pressing into the meat of Patrick's hips, tightening and loosening, las if Jonny simultaneously wants to take his hands away and keep on holding Patrick.

"You want to be?" Patrick repeats. His voice comes out whispery-low; it almost doesn't sound like himself to his own ears. He doesn't know what he expects Jonny to say.

"More than someone you're sleeping with just for money," Jonny says finally. Patrick wants to fucking scream, because god, how will he get it through Jonny's thick skull -

"I want to be someone you want to be with," Jonny continues, and it makes Patrick jerk back in surprise; Jonny's hands tighten on Patrick, like he doesn't want him to move away even an inch. "Someone who takes care of you like you deserve. Someone who would be proud to have you, just like you'd be proud to have him."

Patrick lets out a breath he hasn't realised he's been holding all through Jonny's little, wild, stunning monologue. Jesus. Jonny really does want him. And maybe even more than just that. Patrick feels like his skin's on fire, his heart rate speeding up rapidly.

"And - I don't know if you want that," Jonny says, a little quieter than before. "Maybe to you I'm just another client. Maybe you think you have to sleep with me because I'm paying you. Maybe you expect this from me. But I don't want you to think this way about me, about us - "

Patrick reaches out and puts his hand over Jonny's mouth, cutting him off mid-sentence.

"Jonny," Patrick says, as slowly and clearly as he can. "Shut up and take me to bed."

Jonny keeps right on staring at him, his eyes very dark above Patrick's hand.

"I want you to be that someone you were talking about," Patrick says. "Don't you get it? I like you, Jonny. I really, really like you. And I want you. Not as a client. As someone I'm - falling in love with."

Jonny's eyes widen.

"Now take me to bed," Patrick demands, removing his hand.

Jonny continues to stare at him for a long, interminable second, his Adam's apple bobbing - and then just as Patrick thinks he might refuse yet again, he cups Patrick's face in both his hands and bends down to press his forehead against Patrick's.

"Fuck," Jonny breathes. "Me too. Me too. I like you so much, and I think - I'm in love with you too."

The smile that tugs Patrick's lips up is so wide he feels his cheeks start to ache. He's floating on air; he's never before felt this unbridled, perfect happiness that's suffusing him now from head to toe, but he thinks he maybe could get used to it if he was with Jonny for real.

Jonny wraps his arms around his waist and lifts him up unexpectedly; Patrick's caught off guard and lets out an undignified squeak that he'll deny to his grave he ever made, but he grabs Jonny's shoulders, hooking his legs around Jonny's waist automatically, and his cock, which had been flagging through all of their emotional spillage, starts coming back to life again. He loves how strong Jonny is, how Jonny can lift him up and walk and kiss him, like it's nothing.

"I'm going to take you to bed," Jonny says, and Patrick laughs into his mouth.

"Fucking finally."

---

Jonny doesn't stop kissing him, won't stop touching him, not even when he's undressing Patrick, not when they're both on his bed. Jonny's mouth is warm and hungry and everywhere he touches on Patrick heats up like his skin's been set on fire. He's stroking his hands up and down along Patrick's flanks now, over the sides of his waist and his hips and thighs, fingertips digging with purpose into the swell of his ass. Patrick's still got his legs wrapped around Jonny, and he likes it because in this position Jonny can rock gently against him, his cock slip-sliding against the cleft of Patrick's ass.

Patrick wants that in him in the worst way.

It's strange, because obviously he's slept with Jonny before, but this feels - new. Different, and new, like it's their first time, and Patrick wants to experience all of it.

He reaches down between them and presses Jonny's cock to where he wants it to be, fits it in between his cheeks so Jonny can fuck over his hole. The drag of Jonny's skin and the slide of his slippery cockhead over his fluttering, sensitive rim makes him gasp; he arches his back, chasing that feeling of Jonny rutting against him, wanting more.

Jonny breaks free of their kiss and lifts himself up to look down at Patrick's body. "God, you're beautiful," he murmurs. The first night they'd met and fucked, Jonny had said he was pretty. Now - now he's gazing down at Patrick like Patrick's something precious and stunning, like he's a buffet and all Jonny wants to do is feast.

Patrick's - not at all opposed to that, actually.

He lifts his hips off the bed, rocking himself against Jonny's cock, slippery with precome, and Jonny groans when the head of his cock catches on Patrick's rim. It's too dry for them to do anything, really, but Patrick reaches between his thighs and takes hold of Jonny's dick again to press the head against his hole, just liking the feel of it there, threatening to push into him and split him open.

"You are so - " Jonny says, and breaks off when Patrick starts to rub his cock on his hole, dragging it up and down over the ridge of his rim, loving the way Jonny's dick seems to swell in his hand as he does so. He's so tempted to just - push Jonny's cock into him even though it's dry, to have Jonny make him take it, except Jonny's cock is really pretty fucking big, and Patrick wants to thoroughly enjoy it.

"So?" Patrick says, a little challenging, sucking his bottom lip between his teeth and watching Jonny's eyes darken even more until they're deep, midnight black.

"You are a fucking tease," Jonny says. He tugs Patrick's hand off his cock gently and replaces it with his own, and Patrick sucks in a breath when Jonny starts doing what he's been doing, rubbing his wet cockhead over his hole. When he taps his cock against Patrick's hole in a teasing slap, Patrick almost jumps, heat sparking under his skin. Fuck, it's stupid how hot he is for Jonny.

"I'm not teasing," he says breathlessly. "I'm not stopping you. I want you to fuck me. Come on, Jonny."

Jonny leans down and kisses him again. "Oh, I'm going to," he says, his voice a low growl that sends a delicious shiver down Patrick's spine.

Patrick's trembling with anticipation by the time Jonny finally sits up to rummage through his nightstand, where he pulls out a bottle of lube and a box of condoms and drops them next to the pillow with a grin that makes Patrick spread his legs open, wanting and waiting. But Jonny still takes his sweet fucking time after that - he kisses his way down Patrick's chest first and licks over both nipples, sucking gently until Patrick's arching his back, pushing his swollen nipples into Jonny's mouth.

"Oh," Jonny says, sounding surprised, "you're sensitive here."

He blows a cool breath of air over one of Patrick's nipples as he pinches the other, and Patrick gasps, his cock drooling a pearl of precome that smears between their bodies with the way Jonny's lying between his spread-open legs to kiss and suck at his nipples, two bright points of pure pleasure that feel like they're knotted directly to his cock. It makes him realise that Jonny's still learning his body, learning what he likes and where he likes it, because they didn't have a chance to do this their first time.

"Maybe a little," Patrick says, and moans embarrassingly loud when Jonny sucks one nipple into his mouth, rolling it gently between his lips. Jonny just looks pleased, the smug asshole. But Jonny looking pleased and smug, Patrick's rapidly finding out, is really really good for Patrick's libido.

Jonny keeps his fingers on his nipples as he trails kisses down further, over Patrick's flat stomach, and Patrick holds his breath when Jonny stops right before he reaches his dick and lifts his head. His lips are reddened from kissing Patrick, and all Patrick can think of now is having Jonny's mouth on his dick. He can't help but lift his hips a little, helplessly chasing Jonny's mouth, hovering tantalisingly out of reach.

"Shh," Jonny says, as if he's calming a wild animal. "I got you."

He strokes down Patrick's sides again, closing his hands around his hips, and holds him down when he licks a long, wet stripe from the seam of Patrick's balls all the way up to the head of his cock. Patrick lets out another helpless whine, and finds himself glad Jonny's holding him, because he might actually start thrashing about, and that would be extremely embarrassing when all Jonny's doing is licking him.

"Jonny," he says, a little pleading, and when Jonny looks up at him, he doesn't think he's playing dirty by licking his lips with a slow swipe of his tongue from corner to corner, staring at him with half-lidded eyes. "Need you. Please."

"I got you," Jonny says again, and then he finally, finally wraps his lips around Patrick's cock and swallows him down.

"Oh, fuck," Patrick groans, knocking his head back into the pillow and squeezing his eyes shut. But he blinks them open again, because he needs to see this, Jonny's big hands pressing him into the mattress so all he can do is take it, Jonny's red mouth around his dick. Jonny sucks cock with the same single-minded, furious focus that he plays hockey with, and it's just - it's a lot, having all that narrowed down on him, Jonny's hot, wet mouth sealed around his dick. He can't do anything but moan and try and remember how to breathe, his hips twitching fruitlessly against Jonny's hold.

They hadn't done this that night; Jonny hadn't sucked his dick, but he had sucked Jonny off, and he'd liked it, with the heavy choking weight of Jonny's cock in his mouth, but now the thought that Jonny's so intent on his pleasure instead of his own is sending delighted frissons through Patrick's nerves. For years he's been the one bringing people pleasure; now the tables are turned and Jonny's making him feel good, and all of that is combining into a sweet, heady rush of even more rampant need.

"Jonny," he gasps. "Your fingers - please."

Jonny pulls off his dick and Patrick watches as his cock slips out from between Jonny's lips, red and swollen and glistening. Fuck, he's never been this turned on in his whole life.

"Pass me the lube," Jonny says, and presses a kiss to Patrick's cockhead, following it with a slow lick down to his balls, and Patrick spreads his legs wider so Jonny can lick even further down over his taint, his body prickling hot even as he gropes next to him for the lube bottle. He's so sensitive all over, his skin covered in goosebumps and his nipples tight and swollen, but especially so on that soft sweet spot behind his balls, and Jonny seems to realise that because he's taking full advantage of it now, licking up and down over his taint, sucking kisses into it that make Patrick jerk and moan.

He doesn't even realise Jonny's slicked up his fingers until he feels the wet touch of one against his rim; before he can even breathe, Jonny licks back up and swallows his cock again at the same moment that he pushes his finger in, sliding past Patrick's tight rim. It slides in smooth and slick until Patrick feels Jonny's knuckle bump up against his hole, and then Jonny's carefully working his finger around inside him, stretching him out.

Patrick had come for his appointment with Jonny that night already prepped and opened; he always made sure he opened and lubed himself up first, because some clients didn't like waiting, so there had been no need for this then. Now he wishes he'd let Jonny finger him open instead of doing it himself; and then it hits him that Jonny can do this to him, any time they want, over and over.

The thought makes him clench up around Jonny's thick finger, hungry and needy. God. Jonny's in love with him, and Jonny wants him. Patrick almost wants to shout with joy; and the next moment he really does shout, when Jonny's finger strokes over his prostate, perfectly precise.

"Oh fuck," Patrick moans. "Fuck, yes, there - that feels good."

Jonny smiles up at him as he pulls off his cock, and Patrick feels the push of a second finger against his hole.

"This okay?" Jonny asks, and Patrick nods. Fuck, he's more than okay; he's so eager for this he's actually trembling. He pulls his knees up and spreads himself open wider, giving Jonny more access.

"You're so gorgeous," Jonny says, warm naked admiration in his eyes. "I'd keep you like this all day if I could. Watch you on my fingers and my cock."

"You totally could," Patrick gasps. He feels slutty as hell, widening his legs like this, his hips working around Jonny's finger inside him and the second one stroking around his sensitive rim. "I'd let you do whatever you want."

Jonny grins. "We're definitely going to do that one day, when I have no games."

He pushes his second finger into Patrick as he speaks, smooth and easy, and rubs over his prostate again with unerring aim. Patrick arches his back and cries out, his mind going blank for one beautiful second, his cock twitching and drooling a stream of precome that Jonny licks right up before he sucks Patrick's dick back into his mouth as he works him open.

"Oh fuck," Patrick sobs; it's too much, it's too good, Jonny's mouth on him and his fingers in him at the same time, and feels that delicious burn of the stretch when Jonny presses another finger into him, slow and careful.

"That's it, babe," Jonny murmurs, lips moving around his cockhead. "Open up for me." And Patrick does, helpless and hungry for it, needing more even as Jonny fucks three thick fingers in and out of him. He pulls his knees up to his chest so he can reach behind his thighs and find Jonny's hand; he grasps Jonny's wrist, keeping his fingers still inside him, and begins to rock his hips on them, fucking himself on Jonny.

"Jesus," Jonny breathes, looking down where his fingers are swallowed deep inside Patrick's greedy hole. Patrick doesn't know how he looks, but judging by Jonny's face, he's definitely into it, especially when Patrick clenches tight around his fingers, just because he wants to feel the drag of them against his rim. "You look so - fuck. Gorgeous."

"Fuck me, Jonny, please," Patrick begs. "I'm ready." Even if he's not, he thinks, he absolutely refuses to wait another second for Jonny's cock.

Jonny sits up on his knees and leans forward to kiss him, sweet and soft. "Okay."

Patrick watches, heart thumping, as Jonny rolls a condom on and adds lube over it; he remembers doing this for Jonny that night, acting all sexy and seductive and shit, but now Jonny's doing this on his own and all Patrick has to do is wait. Jonny fits his cock at his hole, bumping against it gently, and Patrick hooks his legs around Jonny's waist.

"Kiss me again," he demands; he loves this, loves that he can tell Jonny what he wants and ask him for everything he needs, and Jonny's going to give it to him. Such a contrast with their first time together, and it's because Jonny loves him. His heart feels like it's about to burst.

Jonny leans down and presses their lips together, swallowing Patrick's long, low moan when he pushes his cock into him, slow and steady.

"Okay?" he asks into Patrick's mouth, pausing, and Patrick pushes Jonny a half inch deeper into him with his heels against the small of Jonny's back, letting himself sink into the feel of Jonny's cock opening him up so wide, filling up all the space and air inside him.

"Don't stop," he gasps. Jesus, Jonny's big, and even with all the prep it's still a stretch, but fuck if Patrick wants Jonny to stop moving.

And, thank fuck, Jonny listens and doesn't ask anything more, just kisses Patrick as he works his cock deeper into Patrick inch by inch. Patrick feels like he's full to bursting, his eyes watering, by the time Jonny finally bottoms out, thighs flush against the curve of his ass. But it's good, it's so good, even as his body strains and works to adjust around Jonny's fat cock. It's pushed up snug against his prostate inside, and all Patrick has to do really is squeeze tight for those nerve-tingling starbursts of pleasure to light him up.

"Feels so good," he says, sucking blindly on Jonny's lower lip. "Fuck, I love how your cock feels."

"Did you like it too? That night?" Jonny asks, bold and grinning, but Patrick kind of forgets how to speak when Jonny begins to fuck him properly, grinding his cock deep inside him and pulling out to hold him open around the fat, flared head before fucking in again. He rubs over Patrick's prostate with each pass, and it's making Patrick hot all over, from his hole to his toes to the tight points of his nipples.

"I - what?" he manages to say, squeezing his eyes shut.

"Did you like my dick that night we first fucked?" Jonny says, and sucks a kiss into his neck, right over the still-bright bruise he'd already left there from the night before.

"Jonny, for fuck's sake," Patrick gasps; it's hard to think and even harder to speak coherently when Jonny's fucking him this good. "It's the biggest dick I've ever had, obviously I liked it."

"Right answer," Jonny murmurs, the smug asshole; but he rewards Patrick by fucking into him harder, picking up the pace, and Patrick - all he can do is cling to Jonny's broad shoulders and whimper, rocking his hips into Jonny's thrusts, listening to the obscene slap of Jonny's skin against his own.

"I kept - thinking about it after, when I met you again," Patrick says with a little moan. "Thinking about you fucking me. And when I moved in - I kept remembering. How good it was."

Jonny licks over the bite mark on his neck and goes back to his mouth, biting gently on his lower lip, sucking it into his mouth. "Me too. Every time I looked at you - I remembered how you felt. Your mouth, your hands, everything. You felt like you were made for me."

Patrick whimpers, trembling, arching his spine as Jonny fucks into him, his rhythm perfect and steady and sending mind-numbing tingles of pleasure through Patrick's entire body. Made for Jonny. Yeah, he can roll with that, with the way Jonny feels in him now, filling him up so perfectly and absolutely full to the brim. Made for each other.

"More," Patrick gasps. "Please - Jonny, I'm nearly there."

Jonny fucks into him, fast and impossibly deep, his cock prying Patrick open, making Patrick's body take it, and Patrick feels the beginning of his orgasm crest in his lower belly, in the tightening of his balls. Jonny's rhythm doesn't falter, not even when Patrick starts to squeeze tight around him, clenching and unclenching, feeling the waves of pleasure rise and rise. He's about to reach down for his cock, but Jonny straightens up and pushes his thighs back further, presses Patrick's knees closer to his chest, and tugs his hand away.

"I want you to come on my cock," he says, and Patrick's dick literally jumps at his words; his hole squeezes up instinctively and Jonny's dick pushes up against his prostate again, sending off yet another shockwave of pleasure through Patrick. "Can you do that?"

"I - don't know," Patrick gasps. It's never happened for him with a man, though he's managed to with dildos. But - Jonny's fucking him so good, his dick rubbing over his prostate again and again, and Patrick can feel he's getting close. "Maybe - don't stop, please don't stop."

"I won't," Jonny promises. "I'm gonna fuck you just like this as long as you need. Wanna feel you come on my cock."

Jonny hitches his hips up a couple inches off the bed, and fuck, that's really hot, especially with the way Jonny looks, flushed and sweaty and his biceps bulging; but more than that it lets him fuck right up against Patrick's prostate, his thick cock bumping against it over and over, and it's too much, Patrick can't hold it back, he's definitely going to come soon and there's just a small part of his brain that's absolutely amazed that Jonny can fuck an orgasm out of him untouched.

But it's Jonny. Patrick thinks about Jonny scoring a hat trick for him, just because he wanted to, and fuck, Jonny can do absolutely anything, can bend the universe and a hockey puck and Patrick's body to his will if he wants to; and the pleasure building in Patrick is rising to an almost unbearable level, like a dam that's going to break. His cock is leaking nonstop now, dripping a stream of precome that puddles on his belly, more than he's ever seen from his dick in his life.

"Oh god," Patrick sobs, shivering at the sweet drag of Jonny's cock inside him, his rim stretched tight with that little bite of pain each time Jonny moves, and all of this, it's too good, Patrick's going to come for Jonny just the way Jonny wants it. "Oh my god, Jonny - "

"Yeah, come on, babe, you can do it," Jonny says, voice rough, and the next time he fucks in and rocks up against Patrick's prostate, Patrick's dick spurts a little burst of come, and Patrick cries out, his body wound tight as a spring. He's going to come, he can feel it, he's almost there, and Jonny hasn't even touched him, god -

"Let go, sweetheart," Jonny says again, persuasive and demanding, and Patrick arches his back and comes completely untouched.

It feels like his body is splitting into pieces with the force of it; he clamps down tight on Jonny's cock as Jonny fucks spurt after spurt of come out of him, and through the wild, all-consuming wave of pleasure rushing through him Patrick can feel it hit his open mouth, his cheeks. He's clawing at the bedsheets, rucking them up, shouting and gasping as his entire body shakes apart on Jonny's perfect cock.

"Oh, that's good," he hears Jonny say through the roaring of blood in his ears. "So good, Patrick." And then he feels Jonny's rhythm pick up, becoming more erratic as he chases his own orgasm. His prostate is oversensitive and his rim is sore, but he lets Jonny fuck him through it until the very end of his climax, sobbing and shuddering, his body wracked with the clenching spasms of the best damn orgasm he's ever had in his life.

"Fuck, you're so tight," Jonny gasps, sounding strangled, and then he shoves himself in deep and Patrick feels his cock swell inside him, stretching him impossibly further, before he's coming as well, panting hard over Patrick.

He slumps on top of Patrick, arms wrapping around him, and Patrick burrows against him, still shaking and breathing hard, Jonny's dick still buried deep inside him. He wants it to stay there forever.

"Baby," Jonny murmurs, and Patrick's heart leaps at the endearment. He manages to turn his head and look at Jonny; fuck, his whole body is buzzing and relaxed and he doesn't want to move, but he wants to see Jonny. "Are you okay?"

Trust Jonny's first question to be concern for his welfare. Patrick wants to laugh, the endorphin rush making him a little loopy. He just got fucked out of his mind, the best sex he's ever had, and Jonny thinks he's not okay.

"I'm so okay," he says; his voice is sandpaper-rough. "So good."

Jonny eases himself down beside Patrick; his dick slips out of him as he does so, and for a moment Patrick's hole clenches, stretched wide around nothing but air. Patrick whines a little, and even though he hasn't said anything, Jonny seems to magically know what he wants, and presses two fingers at his hole, slides them in to keep him full. Patrick feels himself relaxing; he should maybe feel a little ashamed about how needy he's being, but he can't, not with the way Jonny's gazing at him, soft and pleased and full of wonderment.

"What are you thinking?" he asks, inching closer to Jonny, wanting his lips on his.

"Thinking that you look gorgeous," Jonny answers. "And - I still can't believe you're here with me. That you want this. Want me."

Patrick chokes out a soft laugh. "Fuck, Jonny, have you seen you? Whatever made you think I wouldn't want you? You're so good to me."

"You really think so?"

"You always treated me as a person, not as an escort or someone to be used," Patrick says. "In fact - I should be the one saying this. I can't believe you'd want me. You're Jonathan Toews - you could have whoever you wanted in this city. Not someone like me. Not an escort with a shit ton of baggage."

Jonny kisses him; he slips his fingers out of Patrick so he can cup his cheeks in both hands while he does it. They're slippery from lube but Patrick doesn't care, just leans gratefully into the kiss. He thinks he might never get enough of kissing Jonny. "You're not just an escort."

"But that's what I am. And you - you're captain of the Blackhawks."

"That's not what you are. That's what you do. There's a difference. It doesn't matter what you do," Jonny says slowly. He places his hand on Patrick's chest, over his heart, still beating rabbit-fast. "It matters what you are. And what you are is - you're the strongest, bravest, most caring person I know. You look after your family. You take on so much by yourself, all on your own. And you're intelligent, and beautiful, and - "

Patrick can't speak. His chest feels like it's swelling, pumped full of air, his body so light he feels like he could float.

"And I've made this clear already, obviously, but I'd really love to - date you. For real. If you want that," Jonny finishes.

Patrick can't do anything except climb on top of Jonny, pressing himself against all that warm flushed skin, and kiss him and kiss him until they're both breathless and laughing and happier than Patrick can ever remember being.

It almost scares him, this happiness. Like it's too fragile and fleeting and Patrick's going to lose his tenuous hold on it soon. It's the kind of happiness that feels too good to be true, that makes him feel like he doesn't deserve it. But Jonny's holding him in a tight grip, almost as if he's afraid Patrick's going to slip away too, and all Patrick can do is keep kissing him, feeling Jonny against him, real and solid and here.

"Is that a yes?" Jonny asks, laughing into Patrick's mouth.

"Yes," Patrick says, clinging on to Jonny, trying to breathe. "Yes."

Chapter Text

Patrick feels like he's floating on air over the next few weeks. And then there are the times he spends worrying about crashing back down to earth.

It scares him, sometimes. He's never thought he could be this happy - never thought he'd find someone like Jonny, who could overlook his past and his occupation, who'd love him and treat him with respect. And the fact that he has that now - sometimes it's too much for him to think about. Who'd have thought a nobody sex worker from Buffalo would end up falling in love with Jonathan Toews, captain of the Blackhawks, and even more unbelievably still - have Jonny love him back?

So - it's scary, really. There's still a little something in his head that keeps telling him something's going to go wrong, that Murphy's Law always happens, that all of these good, wonderful things - having Jonny, being loved, being safe - aren't meant for someone like him. It's like he's waiting for the other shoe to drop all the time - and sometimes it gets exhausting.

Even now, when he's in Jonny's bed, tucked in close against Jonny's body skin to skin and listening to his soft, steady breathing, that little niggle of doubt and insecurity is still keeping him awake. He blinks into the darkness, wishing he could just - relax. Jesus. He's got everything he's ever wanted, so why is he feeling this way?

He thinks, maybe, he should get out of bed and go make himself a cup of tea in the kitchen. Jonny has some chamomile tea; that should help him fall asleep. He sits up carefully; Jonny's arm, slung over his stomach, rolls down until it's draped over his bare upper thighs, and he gingerly lifts it off his body, placing it onto the bed between them both.

Unfortunately, Jonny stirs, rolling over onto his back. "Pat?" he says, his voice cracked from sleep, and Patrick feels bad immediately. The Blackhawks aren't playing tomorrow, but Jonny has practice in the morning, and in the evening they're supposed to go to the Sharps for that dinner Abby promised them.

"I'm here," Patrick says, lying back down; he doesn't want to let Jonny know how he's staying awake worrying about stupid things. Things that probably will never happen, except his dumb brain isn't listening to reason. "I was just going to the bathroom."

"C'mere," Jonny says, sleepy, groping for him again, and Patrick gives up the idea of chamomile tea when Jonny drags him close, cradles him against his chest, and presses kisses on his cheeks and lips. "Don't go."

"Don't go to the bathroom?" Patrick says; he can't help smiling and teasing a little when Jonny's like this, warm and sleep-soft, enveloping Patrick with his body so Patrick feels safe, and wanted, instead of - whatever his lizard brain wants to tell him. "You want me to pee in your bed?"

"Our bed," Jonny murmurs, nuzzling into the curls at the top of his head. "You pee in it, you sleep in it. It's yours too."

And god, god, Patrick doesnt even know why that makes him so happy, but it does. Their bed. Their home. Jonny thinks of him as part of his life. Not something temporary, not something ephemeral that's going to disappear.

It definitely settles the little worm of insecurity in his mind, at least for now.

So he burrows his face into Jonny's neck, taking in deep breaths of Jonny's warm scent, so familiar to him by now. He thinks he might not be able to sleep at all without Jonny's body and smell wrapped around him like this anymore.

And yet he's still scared, but it's something else that does it. It's the depth of feeling he has for Jonny that's shaking him now. It's so much, so fast. How do you fall in love this quickly? How do you protect yourself when you love someone so hard and so fast?

"I'm not going anywhere," he says out loud. He doesn't want to. He wants to be right here where Jonny's holding him tight and chasing all the gloom and doom away. He wants to believe Jonny loves him just as much.

Jonny sighs; his breath ruffles over Patrick's hair. "Good," he says. "I don't want you to." He cups his hand over the back of Patrick's head as he speaks, the way Patrick likes it, as if he knows Patrick needs this right now; and like his body's on autopilot, Patrick feels himself relax, the tension draining out of him.

He's not going to lose this. He won't. He can't.

Jonny wants him - Jonny doesn't want him to leave. That means something, Patrick thinks. That means much more than all his doubts and fears, because Jonny chose him.

He just hopes he's worthy.

---

The next morning, though, Jonny piles onto the sofa next to him, and gives him a look that makes Patrick kind of sit up straight. Jonny looks serious - well, way more serious than usual - and it's obvious he wants to talk to Patrick.

"What is it?" Patrick asks, feeling his anxiety spike again. Oh god, oh god, what if - Jonny wants to break up? What if Jonny wants him to leave right now?

He doesn't know how he looks, but Jonny stares at his face, and his eyes widen a little. "Oh, baby," he says, reaching out and wrapping an arm around Patrick's shoulders. Patrick feels himself sag a little in relief, both at the endearment and the touch. Jonny's big on endearments, peppers them freely in conversation, and Patrick - before Jonny, he'd have thought it would be incredibly cheesy, but he finds that he really, really likes it. "You - why do you look so worried?"

"I - do?" Patrick says, biting his lip. "No, I'm not, I'm just - "

"I just wanted to ask why you haven't been sleeping," Jonny says gently. "And now you look like a deer in headlights, just because I'm asking you a question. Wanna tell me what's going on?"

"How do you know I haven't been sleeping?" Patrick says, before he can stop himself. Damn it.

Jonny arches an eyebrow at him. "I feel you toss and turn next to me all night. And I know you sometimes get up and go out of the room, and come back in. I know you're having trouble falling asleep, and I want to know why. Are you worried about something? I can help, whatever it is. Is it the girls?"

Patrick blinks at him. That's - totally unexpected.

Jonny hesitates, and then he holds something out to Patrick, a folded piece of what looks like cream-coloured paper. "Take it," he says.

Patrick takes it from him, utterly bewildered at first; but when it's in his fingers he realises all at once what it is. It's a check, and when he unfolds it, it says seventy-five thousand dollars.

It feels as if he's transported back in time to that moment weeks ago, when he'd sat at the kitchen island and Jonny had given him his first payment. Except - except he doesn't know what this one means, now. Their contract - do they even still have a contract, now that they're actually dating? Or - oh, fuck - is this Jonny's way of paying him off, wanting Patrick to leave? If he pays Patrick this money, it means he no longer owes Patrick anything, and -

"Okay, wait, wait," Jonny says, breaking through his increasingly panicked thoughts. "Patrick - I know what you're thinking, and this isn't it. I promise."

Patrick tears his eyes away from the check in his hands; they're starting to tremble, the numbers and words on the paper blurring before his eyes. "But - "

"No, listen," Jonny says. "This is why I wanted to talk to you - I thought maybe this was what you were worried about. That you were thinking us being together - maybe it renders the payment void, or whatever. And I know you need the money. So here's the thing: I'll still pay you what we agreed, but I'll talk to my lawyers, we'll void the contract. We don't need it anymore. You're not a - you're not someone I'm paying to fake it with me. You're my boyfriend, and I want to help you. That's it."

And - holy shit. Patrick feels a little dizzy with the way his emotions are being spun one way and then the other. His first reaction is relief that Jonny's not actually intending to break up with him; and then he's overwhelmed by the fact that Jonny's willing to nullify that contract and make it - all of this - real after all. And still pay him the money he'd agreed to, on top of it all.

The worst part, maybe, is how Jonny actually thinks this is what he's anxious about: money. That's the last thing on his mind and basically the last thing he chose to be with Jonny for. He just - he doesn't know how to make Jonny understand that he's not in this for the money, not anymore. But telling Jonny hey, I worry constantly that you're going to dump me or decide you're making a mistake sounds kind of stupid.

He looks back down at the check in his hands, biting his lip. He shouldn't take this, especially not when Jonny thinks this is why he's hanging around. Hell, if he's going to get completely pedantic about this, he didn't even finish out the full two months.

"You know that - you don't need to give me this, right?" he says. Shit, his voice sounds all - cracked. "I mean - I'm a sure thing. For you. Whether you pay me or not."

Jonny shuts him up with a sweet, abrupt kiss. "I know," he says, soft and reassuring. "Just take it."

Patrick swallows. "I need to tell you - I'm not here with you because of this. Because of money. Even if you didn't give me this, I'd still be here. And I really - I need you to understand this, Jonny."

"I know," Jonny says again. There's a small smile playing about his lips. "And I love you for it. Take it, babe."

Oh. Oh.

"I - love you too," Patrick says, and tries to ignore the truly embarrassing, high-pitched whimper in which his words come out. Fuck. Jonny loves him. And Patrick - he's never said this to anyone, never felt like he could actually be in love with anyone - but he's saying this to Jonny.

Maybe - maybe he should stop worrying so much about Jonny leaving.

"I guess I've been - overly worried about things," Patrick says quietly. "Not about money - it was never about that. I just thought, maybe, you'd - change your mind. About us."

Jonny nods calmly, like he already knows. "You don't have to worry about anything anymore. I'm here. I'm always going to be here."

Patrick believes him, and feels himself relax for the first time in months.

---

Now that he's Jonny's real, actual boyfriend, he goes to every Blackhawks home game he can, and even feels confident enough to sit out in the crowd with the other players' spouses and partners. They accept him into the fold naturally, spend time chatting with him and making him feel comfortable, introducing their kids to him; and Patrick loves kids, so it's not like he minds having Theo or Colton or Maddy on his lap while he takes in a game. There are a lot of pictures popping up on social media of Patrick with the players' kids, and apparently all this positive publicity surrounding Patrick really pleases Blackhawks PR, so he guesses it's win-win for everyone involved.

One night, when Patrick's waiting for Jonny in the family room as usual after the game, Jonny comes in with someone - Patrick doesn't know who he is, but he's seen him occasionally around the arena, usually with Stan Bowman, so he's obviously one of the front office executives. He's surprised when Jonny comes up to him, the man following right next to him, and says, "Patrick, I'd like you to meet Al MacIsaac, our head of hockey operations."

"Hi," Patrick says, standing up and shaking Al's hand, even though he's kind of weirded out by this. "I'm Patrick."

"Al, like I told you - Patrick's got a double degree in math and statistics from NYU - what'd you graduate with again? Summa cum laude?"

"I - yeah," Patrick says, swallowing. Holy shit. He wishes Jonny had kind of given him some prior warning about this, so he'd at least have done something about his messy curls and maybe worn something nicer than baggy jeans and Jonny's even baggier jersey.

"And he's got that great analytics site I showed you," Jonny continues; and he sounds and looks so unbearably proud that Patrick feels himself turning red.

"Yeah, I thought that was amazing work," Al says. "Really great job with that."

"Thanks," Patrick manages. "But, uh - "

"Jon mentioned you might be interested in looking for a job in sports analytics, and honestly, we're always on the lookout for someone smart and good at statistical analysis, so we'd like to set up an interview for you. How's next Wednesday?"

Patrick feels like he's been stunned over the head, or something. Wow. He hadn't actually thought Jonny would do this - had forgotten about it, really, since Jonny first mentioned it all those weeks ago and he'd turned him down. But here it is, Jonny giving his dream back to him.

For some reason, this is the moment it really, really sinks in for him, that he's got a chance at getting his life back, that he can take care of the girls without needing to continue escorting, that Jonny's truly got his back.

He has to sit down for a moment because he's feeling a little dizzy at the enormity of it all; and then he makes himself stand up again, because Al's staring at him, and - fuck - he just made himself look ridiculous in front of who could possibly be his future boss.

"I'm sorry," he says. "It's just - it's a lot to take in right now. But - Wednesday's perfect, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity. Thank you."

Al smiles, very genial and understanding. "That's great. I'll have someone call you soon to set it up."

"Thank you so much," Patrick says, and manages a smile. Jonny puts his arm around him and gives him a squeeze; so proud, he's so proud of Patrick, and it makes Patrick's heart feel full to bursting.

---

Jonny stretches himself out on the sofa once they're home and turns the TV on to watch whatever West Coast game is on; a cursory glance at the TV tells Patrick it's the third period of Vegas against Anaheim. Good. That means the game will be done soon and Jonny will be coming to bed.

He hops into the bathroom for a quick shower and gets himself ready, his skin prickling with anticipation. Jonny's going to be away for the next three days on a road trip to St. Louis and then to Minnesota, which means he's probably going to want to fuck Patrick through the mattress the moment he steps into the bedroom, which - Patrick's not at all opposed to.

The best thing about sex with Jonny now, Patrick thinks, is that a couple of weeks ago Jonny came home with a piece of paper, which he'd basically shoved in Patrick's face as soon as he'd stepped indoors. "I got tested," he said without preamble. "I'm clean."

Patrick had been stunned into silence for a while; and then all at once it had hit him, what Jonny meant and what he wanted, and a rush of warmth had flooded his body at the implications of it.

"Oh," he'd said, stupidly happy. He'd never been exclusive with a guy before, never dated anyone long enough that they'd get to this point; and when he started escorting he had to be painstakingly scrupulous about safe sex. "I - I'll get myself checked out too. Tomorrow."

Jonny had smiled and kissed him, and that kissing had turned into Jonny fucking him over the day bed in their bedroom.

That had been the last time they'd used condoms. It still makes Patrick smile to think about it.

The heating in the apartment is always turned lower than what Patrick would like, thanks to Jonny and his overheated body, so the cool air on his bare, damp skin makes goosebumps rise immediately and sends him straight to the bed. He climbs in, shivering a little, and burrows under the thick down comforter, sinking gratefully into the softness of the sheets.

And then he waits. And waits. And waits.

No Jonny appears; Patrick's getting more restless and impatient by the minute.

He tosses and turns, looking over at the door, which remains resolutely closed. Damn, what if Jonny's somehow fallen asleep on the sofa, while here he is, lying naked in bed, lube making his inner thighs uncomfortably sticky as he waits to be fucked? Wouldn't that be annoying, not to mention embarrassing, if Jonny stumbles in a couple of hours later and finds him waiting like this.

Patrick sits up; the comforter falls off him and the cold air that hits his body makes him suck in a breath. He looks around and sees the Toews jersey he'd worn to the game earlier tonight; not that one that kickstarted this whole thing - Patrick's taken it to get framed after that night, since he figures Jonny's never going to do it - but a normal one, and he grabs it on the way out of the bedroom, slipping it over his head. It falls nearly to mid-thigh, just barely covering the swell of his ass, but it's enough to keep him fairly warm, at least until Jonny warms him up the rest of the way.

The thought makes him bite back a grin as he slips into the living room; the TV's still on, Patrick can hear it, and when he comes into view of it he can see it's showing some fishing show - Deadliest Catch or something similar. Jonny's wide awake on the sofa, staring at the screen, and Patrick has to smile, because this - this is the man he's fallen in love with, this dork who watches shows about fishing and giant tuna late at night.

"Hi, you," he says as he approaches Jonny. Jonny looks up, and the surprise on his face melts into a warm, soft smile as Patrick climbs into his lap, perching himself on his thighs, and loops his arms around Jonny's neck.

"Hey," Jonny says, his hands coming up to slide under the jersey - his jersey - and close around Patrick's bare hips, squeezing gently. "What are you doing?"

"I was waiting for you," Patrick says. "Why aren't you coming to bed?"

Jonny tosses a guilty glance over Patrick's shoulder at the TV, but Patrick's gratified to see that he's no longer focused on the show but on him. "I guess I got distracted," he says, and tugs Patrick a little bit closer until Patrick can feel the half-hard bulge of Jonny's cock in his boxers nestling into the cradle of his cheeks.

"I can see that," Patrick says, amused. "Fishing is that interesting, huh?"

Jonny leans forward and catches his lips in a sweet, breath-stealing kiss. "It's relaxing," he murmurs against Patrick's mouth. "You'll see in the summer. I'll take you up to the lake in Winnipeg. We can stay in my cottage and I'll teach you how to fish."

Patrick sucks in a shocked breath and sits upright, pulling himself away from Jonny's mouth. "Really?" he asks, barely believing his ears. Jonny wants to take him to Winnipeg, spend the summer with him?

"Yeah," Jonny says, pulling Patrick towards him again, nosing along the hinge of his jaw. "I'd love to show you - it's my home, you know? Unless - maybe you want to stay in Chicago. Or go back to Buffalo. And I'm fine with that, you know, we don't have to spend the whole summer together -"

"I'd love to," Patrick interrupts. The happiness that's rising in him is making him feel almost breathless; every day that he's with Jonny brings him some new and wondrous reminder that Jonny's with him, and Jonny loves and wants him, and Patrick wants this intoxicating joy to never end. "And maybe we could - go to Buffalo too, for a while. And you can meet my sisters."

Jonny chuckles against his skin. "Yeah, we can do that. Anything you want." He moves up to kiss Patrick again, deep and slow this time, and Patrick feels him trail his hands down lower until he's cupping Patrick's ass, lifting and hefting it gently in his hands. "Are you wearing anything under this thing?"

Patrick wriggles a little more purposefully against Jonny's cock, stirring under him. "Why don't you take it off me and find out?"

Jonny pulls back and runs his eyes over Patrick up and down, in a slow intense way that makes Patrick's dick chub up even more under Jonny's jersey. Jonny's fingers are skimming over the cleft of his ass, tips just barely dipping in, where he'll find Patrick loose and open and slick if he pushes in further.

"No, you know what, I don't think I will," Jonny says after a long beat. "My name and number look good on you."

Patrick laughs, leaning his forehead against Jonny's. "Yeah?" he asks, licking his lips. "Guess I'd better keep it on then."

"Yeah," Jonny agrees; and then Patrick feels his fingers slip in between his cheeks, sliding over his rim, sticky-slick with the lube Patrick had used earlier in the shower. Jonny takes a deep breath and looks up at Patrick; his eyes are darkening to nearly black, a smile curling about his lips.

"You're already - ?"

"This is why I was waiting for you," Patrick says, grinning. He rocks his hips down with purpose, sucking in his bottom lip when the tips of Jonny's fingers dip into him, easy and smooth with his prep.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Jonny says, all sarcastic and teasing and shit, the asshole, and pushes in deeper; Patrick gasps against the feel of his thick, amazing fingers stretching him open, filling him up in a way he never can himself. "Let me make it up to you now, eh?"

"You better," Patrick says, tipping his head back, he lets his eyes flutter closed as he grinds himself down on Jonny's fingers, working to find that perfect angle which - fuck, yeah, he's got it, fingertips pressing firmly into that spot inside Patrick that makes starbursts appear behind his closed eyelids. "Oh, that's good, you're right there - "

Jonny bites a kiss into the exposed column of his throat, right in the hollow where his clavicle meets his chest, and Patrick's skin tingles. "Ride me," he says, a growl low in his voice which brooks no argument. Not that Patrick's going to argue against that.

He has to lift himself off Jonny's fingers, regretfully, to get Jonny's boxer briefs off him; his cock juts up from between his thick thighs, fat and wet at the tip, and the sight of it makes Patrick's mouth water. He has to bend down and press a kiss to Jonny's full, swollen cockhead, even if it means he's perched uncomfortably on the very edge of Jonny's knees, and is rewarded with a low groan from Jonny when he sucks the head into his mouth, relishing the bitter-salt of his precome on his tongue, the breathtaking thickness of it.

"Oh, you look good," Jonny sighs from above him; when he reaches down to press his thumb at the corner of Patrick's mouth, Patrick lets his mouth go slack, lets Jonny push his thumb in alongside his cock, his lips stretched tight around them both. "So gorgeous."

Patrick flicks a glance up at him through his lashes, and then very deliberately drags his lips down the shaft of Jonny's cock, taking more of it into his mouth inch by slow inch, until Jonny has to pull his thumb out and allow his cock to bump softly into the back of Patrick's throat, Patrick's nose nestled into the thatch of dark hair at the base of Jonny's cock, filled with the earthy, musky scent that's all pure Jonny. Jonny gasps, hips twitching, and swears when Patrick swallows around his dick, throat muscles working.

"Fuck, so good," Jonny says hoarsely. "Fuckin' love this."

Patrick loves this too: the weight and thickness of Jonny's cock plugging his mouth full, the way his cockhead slides so easy into his throat, like it's meant to be there, meant for Patrick milk him with his mouth and tongue and throat until he loses it. But he feels Jonny grip the back of his neck, gently coaxing him upright and off his cock; he pulls off it with a wet slurp, licks the drool off his lower lip as he blinks up at Jonny.

"No - come up here, baby," Jonny says, pulling him up until he's sitting in Jonny's lap again, the jersey puddling around his thighs, Jonny's spit-wet cock sliding between his cheeks. The feel of it riding over his hole, so close to where he wants it, makes Patrick clench up a little, his hole empty and grasping at nothing but air. Fuck. He wants Jonny so much, in every way, and it's just - he's never before wanted and needed someone this much. "You're supposed to ride me."

"I want to," Patrick rasps. And he does, he really does, but he also wishes there was a way he could ride and suck Jonny at the same time, because he absolutely loves that dick.

Jonny tugs him closer, getting his hands under the jersey again, squeezing handfuls of his ass. "Come on, babe," he says persuasively, and spreads Patrick's cheeks open, fucking his cock in between them, the fat shaft riding over Patrick's soft, open rim. "Take it if you want it."

"Yeah," Patrick breathes, rising up on his knees and bracing himself with his hands on Jonny's shoulders. "Can you - ?"

Jonny gets what he wants, and grips his cock by the base, holding it upright and steady as Patrick positions himself over it. Jonny's shoulders are thick and solid under his fingers, traps bunching, when Patrick seats himself on his cock; it slips at first, not quite catching on his slippery hole, but Jonny adjusts his hold, and Patrick feels his cockhead slip in.

"Oh fuck," he says out loud, catching his breath; they hadn't lubed Jonny up apart from Patrick's spit, and even though he's wet and open from his prep earlier, there's still a sharp bite to the feeling of Jonny's cock stretching him wide open. But Patrick likes it; he likes to feel Jonny inside him all the way till the next day, reminding him of how good it feels like this, sinking down slowly on Jonny's dick. "Jonny - come here."

"Mm," Jonny murmurs agreeably, and kisses him, swallowing his breathy gasps and moans as Patrick lets himself go down the tiniest bit further, the friction of Jonny's cock almost too much to bear.

There's always a moment whenever they fuck, when Patrick feels like Jonny can go no further, that he's too big and he's too much and Patrick's too tight for this; it's an interminable wait when he gets to that point, his hole clenching tight, his eyes squeezed shut as he tries to breathe through it. Then Jonny says against his lips, "Baby, you're doing so good - relax for me", and Patrick feels his body opening up with a shudder to let Jonny in the rest of the way, until his ass is flush against Jonny's thighs and Jonny's fully seated in him, his fat cock stretching Patrick's hole wide.

Fuck. This is, beyond a doubt, one of Patrick's favourite things in the whole world, stuffed so full with Jonny's dick that he can't move, can't breathe, can't do anything but roll his hips gently, letting Jonny's cock work him open. It's still a little too dry, and that edge of pain is making Patrick's eyes water, but - fuck - it's also making fire dance along all his nerve endings, his body thrumming with need.

"Is this okay?" Jonny asks, like he knows, and Patrick's filled with a rush of gratitude that Jonny always seems to know exactly what he needs. "Do you need more lube - "

"No," Patrick gasps, "no, this is - this is good."

He lifts himself on his knees again, relishing the sweet, delicious drag of Jonny's cock inside him as his hole reluctantly gives up its tight clutch on it; Jonny's fingers press deep into the meat of his ass as he moves, and Patrick thinks there might be finger-shaped bruises on it tomorrow, but Jonny knows by now how much he likes to be marked up, how he likes to see these visual reminders of Jonny on his body.

It's strange, he thinks to himself, feeling slightly loopy; when sex was his job, he'd never let any client leave a mark on him. But with Jonny - he wants Jonny's teeth and fingers all over him, he wants to see these marks in the morning and press into them and remember how Jonny made them.

"Pat," Jonny says, and before Patrick can react, he rocks his hips upwards, fucking his cock back into him. "You with me?"

Patrick gasps out loud, pleasure humming across his entire body. "Fuck - yes," he says, feeling hot and desperate all over. He rises up on his knees again until Jonny's cock is halfway out of him, and then pushes himself back down, listening to Jonny's low groan of pleasure. "God - it just - it always feels so good like this."

"That's it," Jonny encourages, kissing him again; it's almost sweet the way he's pressing kisses to Patrick's lips and jaw and neck, in contrast to the dirty-quick grind Patrick's got going on his cock, lifting up and sinking back down. Jonny's dick is pushing perfectly against his prostate with each rise and fall, and when he lifts the hem of the jersey to look down at himself, bleary with the feel of Jonny pressed into the deepest parts of him, his cock is leaking clear drops of precome onto Jonny's abs, red and swollen and so hard he thinks he might explode.

He moans when Jonny strokes a finger around his rim, where it's stretched so tight around the width of his cock, swollen and puffy from being just that bit too dry for Patrick. "Love feeling you like this," Jonny breathes. "When you've got me so deep inside you and you're still wanting more."

"Jonny," Patrick says breathlessly, squeezing his eyes shut. He lets go of Jonny's shoulders, leans back and braces himself with his hands on Jonny's thighs instead; the change of angle allows Jonny's dick to rub right up against his prostate with every movement, whichever way he moves, and it's easy, so easy like this to chase his orgasm. "Oh fuck, Jonny, you feel so good - "

He feels, dimly, Jonny running his hands over his arms, lingering on the numbers at the sleeves. "I fuckin' love seeing you in my number," Jonny murmurs. "My name on your back. Fuck - you know how good you look with my name on you?"

Patrick can't speak; all he can do is grip Jonny's thighs tighter as he fucks himself up and down on Jonny's cock, breathing hard, trying to slow himself down so he won't come too fast, because he wants to savour every second of this. But Jonny's making it hard for him with the way he's touching Patrick all over, kissing his lips and cheeks and neck, his hands sliding under the jersey to find his tight, peaked nipples and pinching them the way Patrick likes it. It makes Patrick jerk and cry out and his cock leak a little more precome over them both, his balls drawing up tight.

"So gorgeous," Jonny says, closing his fist around Patrick's cock, stroking the pad of his thumb over the wet, slick head; and that's it, that's all he needs, just that little touch from Jonny and the delicious, sweet drag of his cock against Patrick's oversensitive rim and hole, and Patrick's orgasm hits him in a glorious wave of pure, mindless, choking pleasure.

"That's good, you're so good," he hears Jonny say, soft and blurred, and the next thing he knows is Jonny's hand clamping down hard on his hip, and Jonny's long low groan as he empties himself into Patrick, his hips stuttering, shoving his cock in as deep as it can go while Patrick shakes apart on him.

He's almost sobbing by the time it ebbs away into little shudders that wrack his body, clinging on desperately to Jonny through the aftershocks of it. Jonny's got a hand on his back, running it up and down in a slow, soothing motion, like he's calming a wild animal, and Patrick blinks the haze away from his eyes, looks down to see the wet patch on the jersey where he's come all over it and Jonny's hand.

"You okay, babe?" Jonny says, looking at him with a small smile. His eyes are soft and heavy and content, and Patrick wants to sink into this look, into Jonny, and just - stay here forever.

"Mm," he mumbles, leaning forward blindly to search for Jonny's mouth; Jonny gives him the kiss he needs, deep and careful and slow. The movement makes his cock slip partway out of him, and Patrick sucks in a breath at the feel of the warm, slow flood of Jonny's come trickling out of him, over his sore, sensitive rim.

"Did I hurt you?" Jonny asks, immediately concerned.

"No," Patrick says, clinging on to him, breathing in the scent of sex and Jonny and them. "No, you could never hurt me."

"Good," Jonny says into his mouth. "I don't want to."

Jonny's not going to. Patrick has never been more sure of anything in his life. He knows this in his heart, in the way Jonny cradles him close and holds him like he never wants to let Patrick go, and all he has to do is hold on tight and let Jonny love him.

---

The rest of the week, Patrick spends most of his time brushing up on his statistics; it's been a long time since he's really actually had to apply his knowledge to actual analysis instead of just building tools for his site, so he works on that as much as he can. He doesn't know what he's going to be asked in his interview, but the lady who'd called him up to arrange it had told him he'd need to sit for a written and a software test before the actual interview, so he digs around online until he finds some sample test papers he can work on.

He's relieved to find that he hasn't forgotten that much; doing the sample tests kind of kicks his memory into gear again. Math and statistics are just logic, after all; remember the first step in a formula, and the next step follows easily as long as you've got the logical progression down.

He probably should feel more nervous about the interview, but he's mostly excited about it. This is really all he's ever wanted to do, and now that he has a shot at it, he's going to make the most of it. And he's good at this; he knows he's good, and the fact that the Blackhawks aren't going easy on him just because he's with Jonny and he still needs to sit through tests and three rounds of interviews - it all makes him feel oddly glad.

On Monday morning, after breakfast, Jonny tells him that his lawyer's going to be coming by in a while.

"Oh yeah?" Patrick asks, barely listening; he's distracted writing an algorithm on MATLAB, trying to see if it works.

"He's bringing over the papers for us to sign," Jonny says, coming over and pressing a kiss on top of his head. "You know, the ones to void our contract thing."

Patrick looks up. "Oh," he says, and can't help the smile that spreads helplessly across his face.

"Yep," Jonny says, popping the P, and then ducks to steal another sweet kiss, this time on Patrick's mouth. "I'm going for skate now, but he'll be here in an hour or two and he'll explain everything in there to you. Rob Bennett - that's his name."

"Okay," Patrick says. "I'll buzz him in when he's here. What time will you be back?"

"About two, maybe," Jonny says, frowning; Patrick hears the clink of his car keys as he grabs them from the keyholder near the door. "There's a video interview I have to do for the NHLPA after practice. So I'll be home a bit later."

"That's okay," Patrick says. "I'm going to be working on this algorithm for a while more. See you later."

"Think about where you want to go for lunch!" Jonny calls as he leaves.

---

When the intercom rings, Patrick starts; he's been deeply engrossed in his work, and he's a little shocked to see that it's already noon. Wow. He hadn't even realised how much time had passed. Maybe he should take a break, he thinks as he clicks the intercom on, and rubs his eyes. "Hello?"

"Hi, my name is James Moretti," an unfamiliar male voice says. "I'm representing Rob Bennett, here to drop some papers off for Mr. Toews?"

"Oh," Patrick says. He's surprised that Jonny's lawyer sent a representative, especially when Jonny hadn't mentioned anything about someone else coming, but it makes sense when he thinks about it. Of course a lawyer wouldn't make these deliveries personally - they'd send a courier service or something, and maybe Mr. Bennett is going to wait till he can get both Jonny and Patrick together to explain all the stuff he needs to. "Sure, I'll buzz you up."

The doorbell sounds a minute later, and Patrick opens the door; the man standing outside is younger than he'd expected, perhaps in his late twenties, tall with carefully-styled dark hair. When he smiles at Patrick, his teeth are very white. "Hi, I called from downstairs. James Moretti."

"Yeah," Patrick says, stepping aside. "Come in, Mr. Moretti."

Moretti turns another blinding smile on him. "Please, just call me James."

Patrick can't help but run his eyes down his body as he enters - he's not dressed in corporate attire, instead wearing a pair of jeans and a tight t-shirt that shows off a gym-honed body, a backpack slung across his back. He's surprisingly good-looking, with broad shoulders and that charming smile, and when Patrick looks up again, he realises, to his embarrassment, that Moretti has been looking at him, and probably noticed Patrick checking him out. Damn.

"Have a seat," he says, clearing his throat and gesturing at the dining table. "Would you like something to drink first? Jonny said Mr. Bennett would be here personally to go through the papers with me, so I'm not sure if you - "

"Mr. Bennett's not coming," Moretti says, settling himself down at the table. He's still smiling, and his grin seems to grow wider.

"Oh," Patrick says, confused. "Are you going to discuss the papers with me, or - "

"Actually, I just want to talk to you," Moretti says. He digs in his backpack as he speaks, and takes out something small and white that he puts on the table; Patrick hears an audible click as he presses a button on it.

Patrick has no idea what that thing is, and he's about to ask when Moretti speaks again. "So, you're Patrick Kane."

"Uh," Patrick says. Weird, he thinks. This is weird. "Yes."

"The escort who somehow managed to seduce the captain of the Blackhawks. Not a bad feat, I'd say. You've done well for yourself, huh?"

Danger. Danger. An alarm is beginning to toll in Patrick's head now, loud and getting louder by the second. Something's wrong - he just doesn't know what it is, he's not getting it.

"What - what are you talking about?" he manages to say. Danger.

"How about this," Moretti says. He leans back in the chair and crosses his long legs at the ankle, looking unbelievably relaxed, while the weird tension is ratcheting up in Patrick's body. "You've heard of the term quid pro quo? Let's make a deal. I'll tell you who I am, and you tell me exactly how you managed to get your little escort claws into Toews. How's that?"

"Who are you?" Patrick blurts out before he can stop himself. His heart is pounding in his chest, picking up speed. Something's desperately wrong. He needs to call Jonny, maybe. He needs to get Moretti out of here.

"Well, I'm not actually from Bennett's law firm," Moretti says, flashing another grin at Patrick. But now it's no longer charming; there's a dangerous, predatory look to it. "I'm a reporter, and I'm on the edge of my first big story. Come on, Patrick. You could make it big with me. All you have to do is tell me all about your little business arrangement with Toews, and what a lying shitheel he is, deceiving paying Blackhawks fans like this. Maybe spice it up a bit, tell me how you seduced him into believing you're actually in love with him. Readers love that kind of salacious detail."

Danger.

"Get out," Patrick says. "Get the hell out right now."

Moretti doesn't move and the infuriating, insolent grin doesn't slip from his face. "Listen up, pretty boy. I know all about it. I know he paid you. I also know your arrangement is due to expire soon. And I know Toews told his lawyers to void your original contract. So - you've been paid, there's no reason for you to stay loyal to him. If you give me this story, it'll blow up and you could make a lot more going on the tabloid circuit."

Jesus. Patrick feels sick at heart. How did this guy find out about all of that? Oh god, he thinks frantically to himself. Jonny - if this guy does what he's saying, if this story gets out, Jonny's career is going to be destroyed -

"You don't know what you're saying," he says, trying to keep his voice steady. "Get the hell out."

Moretti stands up and for one brief moment Patrick thinks he did it, that he's really going to leave; but instead of moving to the door Moretti starts coming towards him. Slowly, step by deliberate step. Almost like a hunter stalking its prey, Patrick thinks hysterically, and finds himself taking a step backwards before he forces himself to stay in place.

"I mean, now that I'm seeing you, I totally get why Toews fell under your spell," Moretti says. He drags his eyes down Patrick's body as he speaks, purposeful and calculated, and now the alarms are all going off in Patrick's head and gut and everywhere else. "You're very pretty. That mouth! And that tight little body of yours. Delicious. I bet Toews has had lots of fun with you."

Patrick's been stared at countless times in his life. He's had worse things said to him. He's slept with too many men, and not all of them have been respectful. But none of them have ever made him feel the way Moretti does now with the way he's looking at Patrick - dirty, humiliated, scared, trapped with nowhere to go in his own home. The home he shares with Jonny, the one place he's supposed to be safe.

"Shut - the fuck up," Patrick hisses, forcing the words out between his teeth. He clenches his fists when Moretti steps closer and keeps his feet planted, even though every fibre of his body is screaming at him to run, run now.

"And you're a whore, so I bet you knew exactly what you were doing." Another step. "Made Toews think you were so into him, didn't you? And now the poor man's fallen hook, line and sinker for you. Just another money-grabbing gold digger."

"I'm not," Patrick bursts out; he doesn't mean to speak, he knows he shouldn't, but -

The grin on Moretti's face grows sharper, and now - now Patrick really feels sick. There's a heavy weight in his throat and his chest that feels like it's choking him. Fuck, fuck, he's fallen right into the trap.

"Alright, I get it," Moretti says. "Wanting to protect your golden goose, huh? Drain him a little longer? Hey, I can't blame you. He's worth, what, like twenty million? I get it. I'm in this to make my name for the big bucks too - which I'm sure is something you're familiar with. So you know, you're going to have to give me a little something, make it worth my while to not run the story."

"Get out," Patrick says. Moretti's stopped advancing towards him, standing three paces away, still with that sharp, dirty smile. Patrick wishes he could punch it off his face. "I don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Just - go away."

"I'll make it easy for you. Toews is worth a lot of money. He could share that love. I mean, he's paying you off already, so what's a couple million more for me, right? Pocket change to keep his nice, captainly reputation intact."

"Fuck you," Patrick manages to say. He can't breathe. It feels like someone's gripped his rib cage with a giant's hand, squeezing, squeezing.

Moretti's grin grows even dirtier. There's something about it that makes Patrick feel like he's being stripped, even though Moretti's not moving, not standing close. "That's a good idea, actually."

And then he begins to undo his jeans.

Run, Patrick's brain screams.

His body moves automatically, turning towards the door, taking two strides; and then the breath is knocked out of him when Moretti grabs his arm and shoves him against the wall.

Fuck. He's tall, and he's big, and Patrick's twisting and struggling, but his grip is so tight that he can't break free. And Patrick knows there's no way he could outrun this guy even if he gets free.

Moretti is looming over him, still smiling, his torso pressed up close against Patrick, so tight and close the smell of his cologne is filling Patrick's nostrils, choking him. When he moves closer, Patrick realises with a shock that he's got his dick out. He's got his fucking dick out and he's pushing it up against Patrick's thigh.

Patrick wants to knee him in the balls. But he can't move. He's frozen, unable to breathe, unable to speak, his body shutting down.

"If you're not going to pay me," Moretti says, "you can give me something else. You can either tell me what I want to know, or you can give me this." The half-boner he's pressing against Patrick's body leaves Patrick in no doubt as to what 'this' is.

He can't. He can't do this. He left that life behind when he found Jonny. He'd rather die than betray Jonny, when Jonny saved him, saw something good and beautiful in him that no one else ever has.

"It's nothing you haven't done before anyway, it's your job, isn't it?" Moretti says, taunting. "So why don't you show me what that pretty mouth can do? And don't pretend you don't want this - I saw you checking me out when I walked in. How about it? Give me some of that magic you worked on Toews."

"No," Patrick chokes out. He tries, fruitlessly, to pull free of Moretti's grip, but his body won't listen to him, and all he can muster are a few ineffectual tugs against Moretti's hand. "Let me go."

"It's your choice, pretty boy," Moretti drawls, and his fist clamps down so tight on Patrick's wrist that Patrick can feel the bones grinding; he goes limp right away, and stops struggling just so his wrist won't be broken.

Moretti must take it as a sign of surrender or something, because his smile grows dangerously wide, and then Patrick feels his other hand pull at his sweatpants, yanking them down roughly. He can't help the sob that escapes him; and then he clamps his mouth shut, because he's fucked if he's going to let this scummy piece of shit know how terrified he is.

And it'll be even worse if Moretti figures out that he's not afraid for himself. He's afraid for Jonny.

Moretti's not wrong. This isn't something he's never done. Trading his body for something in return, using it as a transactional chip - it's been his job for the past three years. What does it matter if he uses it one last time?

He'd thought he couldn't do it, that he'd be betraying Jonny.

But what's the bigger betrayal - letting Moretti do what he wants with him, so he doesn't run his story, and Jonny's kept safe; or fighting back, and watching Jonny's whole career and life and everything he's worked so hard for end up in flames?

When he turns these options over in his mind, it's not really a hard choice after all.

Jonny's done so much for him. Jonny saved him. And now he's been given a chance to save Jonny in return, and all he has to do is shut his eyes and grit his teeth and let Moretti do - whatever it is. It'll be over in a few minutes. Just a few minutes, and he can buy Jonny's security.

Patrick lets his eyes fall shut against the tears that are already threatening to fall.

And then he hears, suddenly, the click of the front door opening, and Jonny's blessed, welcome voice saying, "Babe, I'm home, the interview got cancelled - "

He forces his eyes open just as Jonny comes into view. The tears are making his vision blurry, but he can make out Jonny standing at the other end of the living room, taking in the scene in front of him.

All at once it occurs to him how this must look: Patrick, pushed against the wall by a strange man Jonny's never seen, his sweatpants halfway down, Moretti's dick hanging out of his jeans and hard.

Oh god, oh god, if Jonny thinks Patrick's been - cheating on him, or something -

It's more than Patrick can deal with right now. He can't lose Jonny. Not because of this, not because of someone like Moretti.

"Jonny," he says, his voice choked up in a sob. "Please - "

Jonny moves so fast that Patrick doesn't even see it happen. One moment Jonny's standing twenty feet away; the next moment Patrick feels Moretti being dragged off him, and he takes in a great, gulping, cleansing breath of air as the stink of his cologne is lifted away. He blinks, and Jonny's holding Moretti by the throat, slamming him against the wall next to where Patrick's still standing and shaking, over and over.

"Who are you?" Jonny's shouting. "What the fuck did you do? What did you fucking do, you fucking - "

He's taller than Moretti by a couple of inches, and much stronger; Moretti looks like he's a rag doll, struggling against Jonny's chokehold on his neck. Jonny slams him one more time into the wall with a loud, audible thud, and pins him there by his throat. He's breathing hard, his face red, and he looks more furious than Patrick's ever seen him. The waves of anger and danger emanating off him are almost palpable.

"Jonny," Patrick manages to say. He can barely get the words out past his bone-dry throat and tongue.

Jonny doesn't even look at him. "Patrick," he says, the veins in his neck popping. "What did he do to you?"

Patrick can't speak. Because if he does, Jonny might know that he'd actually - thought about it, thought about letting Moretti touch him, and he won't be able to explain that it was all for Jonny. All he can do is shake his head, biting his lip until he tastes blood, so he won't start crying.

"He was trying to - get me to fuck him," Moretti says, his voice garbled through the tight hold Jonny has on him. "Like how he seduced you, probably. He's a slut - "

Jonny punches him right across the face with his other hand, splitting Moretti's lip open. Patrick catches a glimpse of a smear of blood across Jonny's knuckles when he pulls his fist back, ready for another blow.

"You lie," Jonny says, and his whole demeanor's changed. He'd been furious and yelling before; now his entire being seems to go calm and still, the blood flush in his face rapidly ebbing until his face and lips are white and bloodless. But Patrick knows, he can see, all the tension and strength coiled up in Jonny, barely held in check.

Waiting to strike. Like a python with its fangs in its prey.

"Now tell me who the fuck you are and what you're doing in my home."

"Told you," Moretti rasps. "Your whore wanted me to fuck him."

Jonny punches him again, but the wild savagery from earlier is gone, replaced by a deceptively mild stillness that somehow makes Patrick even more afraid; there's a sickening crack as Jonny's fist makes contact with Moretti's cheekbone, and despite himself, Patrick winces when he jerks and grunts in pain. The blood from his already-cut lip is flowing faster now.

"Who. Are. You," Jonny says. His eyes are cold and dark, his voice low and menacing, and Patrick almost can't recognise that this is the Jonny who kisses and cuddles him and laughs with him and takes care of him.

"Jesus - fuck, I'm a reporter, okay?" Moretti snarls. "I found out about your dumb fucking arrangement with your escort, and I needed a big story - "

"So you thought you'd break in here and try to rape my boyfriend?"

Patrick's first reaction is a massive wave of pure relief. Jonny believes him. Jonny believes him, and he hasn't even needed to say anything or explain anything. His second thought is that he wants to pass out, or throw up, or something, because jesus. Fuck. It had been so close, and if Jonny hadn't come back when he had -

Patrick thinks he genuinely might be sick. His legs and hands are still shaking, tiny tremors rumbling through his body. He's not sure how he's still standing upright.

"I didn't break in, okay?" Moretti's saying. "Listen, I found out your boy here was working as an escort, because after his face came out in all the blogs and papers, someone from his agency called me up and told me all about him. Seems like he thought of Kane as a competitor, but in any case he was furious that Kane managed to get himself a rich man like you and quit the agency. And then after that, it was easy for me to find out who was representing you, get into his office with my press credentials pretending I needed some legal advice on some copyright bullshit, and tap up his phone."

Holy shit. Patrick almost can't believe his ears. This man is crazy.

"You - wiretapped Rob's phone?" Jonny says. His voice is still low, deadly.

"It wasn't hard," Moretti says. He makes an attempt to shrug Jonny's hand off his neck; quick as a flash, Jonny slams him back against the wall so hard his head cracks back against it. Patrick can see the corded muscle standing out starkly under the skin of his forearm, he's grabbing Moretti by the throat so tight.

"Fuck - fine," Moretti chokes. "I needed a big story, yeah. But more than that - I needed money. And when I found out about Bennett's appointment with you from the wiretap, I got this idea. I called him up and told him I was calling from the Blackhawks, that your meeting would need to be postponed. And then I came here."

"And then?"

Jonny's grip must be tightening, because Moretti reaches up with a flailing hand and grabs hold of Jonny's wrist, where he's pushing into Moretti's throat with the heel of his hand. Patrick has a sudden, abrupt flashback to earlier, when Moretti had grabbed his wrist, and it's only when he glances down that he can see a dark bruise forming in a ring around it.

"Thought I could - tell your escort to pay up, if he didn't want this getting out," Moretti gasps, and he's definitely struggling to speak now. "He refused, so I figured, I might as well fuck him and have some fun, since we both know he doesn't give a shit about you, he's just protecting the money he's gonna get from you - "

His words are cut off as Jonny squeezes; Patrick watches with growing horror as Jonny's knuckles whiten, as Moretti's face begins to turn a shade of pale red that grows progressively darker with each second, as he starts to grab hold of Jonny's hand on his throat with both hands. He's trying desperately to peel Jonny's fingers off his throat, but he can't. Patrick knows he can't, not when Jonny's hands are as strong as they are, built for a professional sport where he relies so much on his hands.

Moretti's choking now, his gasps for air growing laboured, and Jonny's not letting up. The look on his face is pure, cold fury, and it sends a chill down Patrick's spine.

"You bastard," Jonny says, deadly quiet. "You fucking piece of shit - "

Patrick finds his voice. "Jonny," he says, fighting against the looming panic in him.

Jonny doesn't respond, but he's now gripping Moretti's throat so tight that Patrick can see his fingers sink into either side of his neck. Moretti is practically clawing at Jonny's hand now.

"Stop, Jonny!" Patrick cries. He lunges forward and grabs Jonny's arm, shaking him as hard as he can. "Stop - please, you're going to kill him - "

"I should kill him," Jonny grunts.

"No," Patrick says, pulling at his arm, fighting against the scared tears prickling behind his eyelids. "Listen to me - stop, think about what you're doing - "

And slowly - too slowly for Patrick's liking - he sees Jonny release his death grip on Moretti's throat, fingers unclenching from around it. Moretti crumples to the floor when Jonny lets go fully, coughing and choking, taking in huge gasps of air, his face nearly purple.

"Get the fuck out of my house," Jonny says coldly to the pathetic, snivelling heap at his feet, fists clenched.

Moretti struggles upright and throws Jonny such a terrified look that it would make Patrick laugh, if not for the whole crazy, horrifying situation right now. He stumbles towards the dining table where he'd left his backpack, and suddenly Patrick remembers that white thing he'd clicked on and put on the table. He still has no idea what it is, but something makes him dart across and swipe the thing before Moretti can reach it.

Moretti sees him holding it, and his face turns pale.

"Jonny," Patrick says, handing it to him. Jonny glances at it, and his face grows darker.

"So you thought you'd try to trick Patrick into talking about us, and record him doing it?" he asks.

A voice recorder. Fuck. Of course Jonny knows what it is, after the thousands of interviews he's sat through before. And of course Moretti would try to do that. He's wiretapped Jonny's lawyer, tried to assault and blackmail; there's nothing too low for him to stoop to.

But Jonny's now looking at Moretti with a sort of grim satisfaction on his face, as he slips the recorder into his pocket. "I want you to get out," he says. "And I want you to count yourself lucky that I'm not taking this recorder to the police or my lawyers right now. I can get you run out of town and put in jail, and you know I can do it. I've got proof you tried to blackmail and rape my partner. Proof that you illegally wiretapped my attorney."

The fear visible now on Moretti's face is probably close to what Patrick was feeling earlier when he'd been trapped between him and the wall.

"And if you ever write or say anything - anything at all about us, for the rest of your miserable life - I'm taking this straight to the police," Jonny says, almost spitting. "Now fuck off."

Moretti can't even muster a response; he turns tail and flees, slamming the door behind him. Coward, Patrick thinks bitterly. Such a coward, when he'd come in here bold as brass, tried to touch Patrick, tried to destroy Jonny's whole life -

Fuck. Jonny.

Patrick turns around, and Jonny's still standing there, like a statue in marble. He's breathing hard and fast, like he'd been holding his breath all this while and needs to breathe now, and he's staring at the door through which Moretti disappeared as if he wants to punch through it. It makes Patrick remember the way he'd punched Moretti, and the blood on his knuckles.

He steps close to Jonny, and finds Jonny looking at him but his eyes are unseeing; he reaches out tentatively, takes Jonny's hand, still fisted at his side. He'd cut his knuckles when he hit Moretti, and his blood is mingling with Moretti's, smeared over the backs of his fingers.

And this, of all things, this is what makes Patrick start crying, seeing the cuts and the blood on Jonny's hand, because Jonny could have hurt himself, he could have broken his hand, and his hockey -

Jonny only moves when he begins to cry, as if galvanised into action, and then there's the familiar feel of Jonny wrapping his arm around him.

"Baby," he hears Jonny say, through the shock and the tears, and then Jonny's folding him into his chest while Patrick holds on to his bloodied fist and cries and cries. "It's okay. You're safe now. He's not going to bother you again. You're safe."

And how can Patrick explain that he's not crying because of Moretti - he's crying for Jonny, for the kind of shit Jonny's probably going to have to go through, time and time again, just because he had the misfortune to bring Patrick into his life?

He's a liability. All he's ever going to do is drag Jonny down with his past. For the rest of his life, Jonny's probably going to have to fight off blackmailers. Moretti's just the first - but what would have happened if Jonny had actually hurt himself, or if Moretti had hurt him? What if Jonny had lost control and actually killed him?

Liability, Patrick thinks. Blackmailers aren't who will destroy Jonny's life. Patrick's the one who will.

He wants to vomit. He's going to ruin Jonny and Jonny doesn't even realise it.

"You're safe," Jonny repeats, curling his hand around the back of Patrick's neck, soft and gentle, and all Patrick can think of is how Jonny almost killed someone because of him.

He keeps crying.

---

It's his fourth sleepless night in a row when Patrick pulls himself upright into a seated position, leaning against the headboard. He's not going to be able to sleep again tonight.

He turns to look at Jonny, sprawled on his front next to him. He's fast asleep, his breathing regular and soft, his face relaxed. It helps to settle the roiling anxiety inside Patrick a little to see Jonny sleeping deeply like this. His hands are spread out on both sides of his pillow, and Patrick can see the cuts on his knuckles almost totally healed, save for some yellowing bruises.

Jonny had been fine, thank fuck, nothing wrong with his hands that would have kept him out of a game, apart from the cuts and bruising. He'd been busy too, the past couple of days; he'd had lots of meetings with his lawyer and agent and the Blackhawks high-ups, to tell them what happened, and dealing with whatever he needs to deal with from this whole mess.

But these days Patrick feels jumpy, anxious; every time the bell rings or the door clicks, it makes him startle. He can't sleep, waking up in a cold sweat each night before he turns to make sure Jonny's next to him, that Jonny's okay. Jonny had noticed, of course, except that he thinks Patrick's scared for himself. He'd offered to pay for a bodyguard for Patrick, which Patrick had shot down immediately.

There's just no way for Patrick to tell Jonny how absolutely afraid he is that something like this is going to happen again, and the next time they might not be so lucky. The next time Jonny might get seriously hurt. Or even if he comes to no physical harm, he could be destroyed just as easily, if someone else gets wind of all this and exposes them both. A bodyguard for Patrick isn't going to save Jonny from that.

He keeps turning the incident over in his mind: Moretti's predatory grin as he advanced towards Patrick; the sickening feel of his dick against his thigh; the things he'd said about Patrick and Jonny. And most of all, he can't forget the sight of Jonny's white, cold face as he throttled Moretti, seconds away from losing it all just because Patrick's too dangerous for Jonny to keep in his life.

He's been stupid. So fucking stupid. He'd actually believed someone like Jonny was meant for him, that this whole perfect life could be his.

He remembers when they'd first got together, how happy he'd been, and how scared he'd felt, because it had felt too good to be true. He hadn't been wrong. It is too good for someone like him.

Patrick stares at Jonny's face and feels his heart seize up. He loves Jonny, so fucking much, and he's going to bring about Jonny's downfall if he stays with him.

He should have known, really. After all, it was with him that Jonny got outed; it's because of what he does that Jonny's at risk of blackmail.

He can't do this anymore to Jonny. He can't tear his life down any further. Jonny's got too much at stake, has worked too hard his whole life, to risk it on someone like Patrick.

He draws his knees up to his chest and drops his forehead to his knees, curling into himself, wishing he could disappear so Jonny's life can right itself again, back to the time before he'd met Patrick and let Patrick break him apart.

---

Jonny has to fly to Toronto for a day, for some shoot with Canadian Tire. "You'll be okay, right?" he asks, standing at the door with his overnight bag.

He asks Patrick this all the time now, every time he leaves the condo, even if it's just for a few hours; Patrick practically had to peel Jonny away from him and push him out of the door, the first time he had to leave for a road trip, after the incident. And each time he hates himself a little bit more for making Jonny feel this insecure about leaving him.

"Yes," Patrick says. "Go already before you miss your flight."

"Love you," Jonny says, and Patrick swallows against the lump in his throat.

"Love you too."

Jonny bends down to kiss him, and Patrick - he wants to cling to Jonny and keep him here and never let him go. His fingers actually twitch with how badly he wants to hold on to Jonny.

He settles instead for kissing him back, instead of letting Jonny peck him once and leave. Kisses Jonny slow and deep, savouring every second of it, committing to memory the taste and feel and scent of Jonny like this, lips pressed to lips, Jonny's hands on his hips and his body pressed close against Jonny.

He needs to remember this, because it's the last time he's going to have it.

When he finally drags his mouth away from Jonny's, Jonny looks down at him, pleased and a little dazed. "Wow," he says. "What was that?"

"Just - gonna miss you," Patrick tells him. It's not a lie.

Jonny's eyes turn soft. "It's just for a day," he says. "I'll be home before you know it. Call me if there's anything, okay?"

"Okay," Patrick says.

Jonny takes a step out, and Patrick - he can't help himself.

"Jonny," he says, and Jonny turns around. "I love you. You know this, right?"

It's really important to him that Jonny remembers this. That Jonny knows how much Patrick loves him and cares for him. Enough to give him up.

"I know, babe," Jonny says, smiling, and Patrick knows this isn't a lie too.

When Jonny enters the elevator and the door shuts on him, Patrick feels like someone's twisted a knife in his gut.

He takes a deep breath, and goes into the bedroom to start packing.

---

His apartment looks even more grimy and dirty than Patrick remembers. There's a film of dust on the floor, and it's only been three months since Patrick left.

He just feels grateful that he hadn't cancelled the lease. Jonny's been paying the rent on it, but they were going to cancel after they'd signed the papers to void the contract. He needs to make arrangements to stop Jonny's payments on his rent, he thinks, as he wanders numbly around the tiny, dark space. Back here again. Back home - to his real home, his real life.

He hadn't cashed the check for the seventy-five thousand dollars Jonny had given him, so he'd left it in Jonny's condo. He's got a little money put away, so he should be okay for a few weeks, but after that - he'll need to go back to work.

It's soul crushing to think he's going to have to go back to that life after he'd thought he could leave it behind him - but he needs to.

These three months with Jonny? Just a beautiful, unreal memory.

This is what's real.

---

Jonny starts calling him the next morning.

Patrick can imagine it in his mind's eye - Jonny coming into his condo, calling out for him, completely unsuspecting. Going into the bedroom, seeing the empty spaces where Patrick's clothes and stuff had been. Finding the check and Jonny's credit card that he'd given him, placed neatly next to the Macbook Pro on the bed, so there's no way Jonny can miss it.

Maybe Jonny panicked. Maybe he got angry. Maybe he still doesn't get it.

Either way, he's blowing Patrick's phone up now.

Patrick looks at it, at Jonny's face flashing on his screen. He'd stupidly changed Jonny's call profile picture some time ago to one of the both of them together, Jonny's arm around his shoulders, cheek pressed against his. They're both laughing into the camera, Jonny's eyes crinkled at the corners with happiness.

So happy. They'd been so happy.

Patrick really should delete this picture. Or better still, change his phone number.

Remember to change my number tomorrow, he thinks to himself dully as he switches his phone off.

He just feels - numb. He wishes he could feel something, anything. Sadness. Rage at this situation. But all he feels is this sort of weary numbness. It's weird.

Patrick sits silently on the lumpy, dusty mattress of his bed and stares at nothing until the shadows lengthen on the wall, until everything grows dark around him and he can't see anything anymore.

---

He must have fallen asleep, because the next thing he realises is someone hammering on the door; he jolts upright, his heart pounding. They're beating on it really hard too, like they're about to break it down.

Patrick's first fearful thought is that it's Moretti - he's found out where Patrick lives and he's here to take his revenge - and looks around wildly for a weapon. But the apartment is bare and empty, because Patrick's never kept much in here anyway, and fuck -

His heart's pounding so fast that he can hear it throbbing in his ears. Stay calm, he tells himself, groping around for his phone. Shit, why did he turn it off? He can't find it in this darkness.

And then he hears Jonny's voice. "Patrick? Patrick! Please, open the door."

What the fuck.

Jonny's not supposed to know where he is. He never gave Jonny his address, not even when he signed the contract. What the fuck?

Maybe it's not Jonny. Maybe his brain's going crazy, because he's been so stressed and upset and thinking of Jonny so much.

"Patrick, please. I know you're here. Please open the door."

And that is Jonny's voice, no doubt, Patrick would know it anywhere.

He somehow stumbles over to his front door and manages to get it open; and it's really Jonny standing out there, hair wild, a deep frown cutting into his forehead. There's a sunken, panicked look in his eyes that makes him look like death warmed over, and it sickens Patrick to see Jonny like this.

"Jonny?" he croaks.

"Oh my god," Jonny breathes; and then he's reaching out, grabbing him, folding him into a tight hug. "Oh my god. I thought I'd lost you. I thought you'd - "

It takes Patrick some time to get what Jonny means, and the horror that dawns on him feels like a splash of ice-cold water in his face. Holy shit, Jonny had actually thought that Patrick maybe - hurt himself or something. That Patrick hadn't just left him, but had left him -

"No," he hears himself say, moving on autopilot to grasp Jonny's shoulders. "No, I'm here."

"Oh my god," Jonny says again. "Patrick - why - what happened? Why did you go? Did something happen again - "

"No," Patrick says, pulling himself away from Jonny. "Nothing happened. I just - I had to leave."

"Why?"

Jonny's really not getting it, Patrick thinks. He'd left quietly, just to avoid a confrontation like this, but now Jonny's found his way here somehow.

"How did you - find me here?" he asks.

Jonny scrubs a hand over his face. "I got a P.I. to look for you."

Patrick looks at him, disbelieving. "I've been gone for like, less than a day."

Jonny laughs, a short mirthless sound. "I gave him eight hours to find you, once I got home and saw you were gone. It took him three. I guess he should get a bonus for that."

"I'm sorry," Patrick whispers.

Jonny shakes his head. "There's nothing to be sorry for. I know you got scared. I know maybe you don't feel safe in our home anymore. But I promise, I'll do anything you need. Get more security, find a new place to live, whatever. Please, just - come home."

Patrick swallows the lump forming in his throat. "I can't."

"What do you mean?"

"I didn't leave because I was scared for myself," Patrick says. "I left because I was scared - for you."

A beat ticks by, then two. Jonny's staring at him. He really doesn't understand.

"Don't you get it?" Patrick says. He licks his lips; they're dry and chapped, and he feels like there's cardboard in his mouth. "If I stay with you, this is always going to happen. Over and over. People are going to find out about me and my past, and they're going to use it as a weapon to hurt you. And - I can't let that happen to you. You've worked your whole life to build your career and reputation - I can't watch that be destroyed because of me."

The furrow between Jonny's eyebrows is deepening as he stares at Patrick; Patrick has no idea if Jonny's absorbing what he's saying, but he ploughs on.

"I'm a liability," Patrick says. He looks right into Jonny's eyes. They're laser-intense, boring right through him, and he takes a deep breath to steady himself. "Staying with you means I'd be making you risk it all. You can't protect yourself, if you're trying to protect me. And I can't do that to you. I'm sorry."

He takes a step back, his hand on the door.

"Thank you for everything," he says softly. "Forget me, Jonny. You and me - it was always too good to be true."

He tries to shut the door; and Jonny's hand shoots out, keeping it open.

"No," Jonny says, sounding strangled.

"Listen to me," Patrick says. A wave of exhaustion sweeps over him, making him dizzy; he shuts his eyes for a moment. "You cannot - cannot - lose everything you've worked your entire life for, for me."

"But I'm willing to," Jonny rasps.

Fuck. Patrick's heart thumps in his chest.

"I love you," Jonny continues. "Enough to risk it all. Enough to lose it all. And I wouldn't even care if I did. Because none of this - it all means nothing without you. Yeah, hockey was the most important thing in my life - you're right, I've spent my whole life working towards this goal. But that was because - I hadn't met you. I didn't know I could meet someone I'd love more than hockey - and then I found you."

Oh god, oh god. Patrick - he's going to cry, and he can't, he needs to be firm. Why is Jonny making this so hard?

"That's how much you mean to me," Jonny says. "And - I need you to want me enough to try. At the very least, to try this with me. But if you don't - "

He pauses, swallows; Patrick watches the bob of his Adam's apple as Jonny gathers himself together.

"If you don't, I'll walk away. If that's what you really want. If you don't want me."

I do want you, Patrick shouts in his mind. Oh god, he loves and needs Jonny so much that it hurts. But - he'll hurt Jonny even more if he stays, he knows this -

"Please, Patrick," Jonny says, his voice breaking, and it's the most awful sound Patrick's ever heard in his life. "I love you. Please tell me you love me enough to try."

It's on the tip of Patrick's tongue to say it. He wavers, wobbles, caught between his love and his fear, like Odysseus between Scylla and Charybdis.

He can't. He can't. He doesn't know what to do. He can't give Jonny up. But he can't ask Jonny to risk this for him. It's too selfish.

He bites his lip hard, letting the pain ground him, staying silent, trying to think.

And then Jonny - he steps backwards, and the look on his face hits Patrick like a stab in the chest. He looks devastated, worn out; he barely even looks like Jonny anymore.

"Okay," Jonny says, and his voice - oh fuck - it's all choked up, and Patrick doesn't think he can bear to see and hear Jonny like this for one more second. "I understand."

He takes a step back, and another. He's still staring at Patrick, his face white, and all Patrick can think is no.

"Take care of yourself," he says, and turns to leave.

Jonny's leaving. He's going.

Patrick stares dumbly at his receding back as he walks down the hallway, his head down, looking like a man who's been beaten down.

When Jonny enters the elevator and the doors shut behind him, Patrick's body jolts, as if it's coming alive from a paralysis that he couldn't break free from.

What is he doing? He just - he let the love of his life walk away from him. Like Jonny meant nothing at all, when Jonny means everything. Enough for Patrick to want to give it all up.

The thought strikes him like a lightning bolt in his head. Suddenly, Patrick feels that he's made the biggest mistake of his life.

"Jonny," he says out loud, shaking. The elevator doors remain resolutely closed.

And then Patrick knows what he has to do.

---

"Jonny!" he shouts - nearly screams, to hell with all the neighbours and barking dogs - as he bursts through the door of the fire escape, where he's just run down five floors. "Jonny!"

And oh god, thank god, Jonny's there, halfway across the debris-strewn parking lot in front of the building, slowly turning towards him, his eyes widening.

"I do want you," Patrick cries, running towards him; he sees Jonny open his arms automatically to catch him, and he flings himself the last few steps bodily into Jonny, slamming into him with a force that knocks the breath out of his lungs.

"I love you," he says, clutching at him. Greedy for this, the feel of being in Jonny's arms. "I do want you. I do want to try. But I - I'm so afraid. Not for me - for you."

"There's nothing to be afraid of," Jonny says, and his voice is shaking just as much as Patrick is. "I promise you. Whatever happens - we can get through it together. I'm proud of you. I'm proud to have you. And no one's going to destroy that."

Patrick can't speak. All he can do is press his face into Jonny's neck and try to remember how to breathe.

"Come home," Jonny says quietly. He squeezes Patrick's waist, a warm reassuring touch, and it makes Patrick feel like - like he's already home.

"Okay," he says out loud, and breathes Jonny in.

He is home.