"Captain Sniffles is back!" Sharpy exclaims as Jonny walks into the locker room a few days later. "And looking marginally less murderous, thank god."
Patrick bites down on a grin as Jonny's face goes pinched, glower out in full force. Easy.
"Sharpy I swear to god if that nickname sticks I will put purple hair dye in your ridiculous, expensive shampoo. Don't think that I won't," Jonny threatens.
Sharpy lets out a mock gasp. "What, not even red, Tazer? Where's your team pride?" He grins. “Besides, you’re not so sniffly anymore, so the nickname doesn’t even make sense. Guess you’re stuck with Toes,” he says, ruffling Jonny’s hair.
Jonny bats him off. “Lucky me,” he says sarcastically, but there’s a smile tugging at his lips.
Patrick goes over, knocking his shoulder into Jonny’s. “Feeling better?” he asks.
Jonny looks good, skin flushed a little pink from the cold, the bags under his eyes gone.
“Yeah, Peeks,” he responds, reaching out to give Patrick a light squeeze around his bicep. “Thank you,” he says, voice a little soft, and Patrick knows he’s talking about the other night.
“Of course,” Patrick says, pleased. “Anytime,” he adds, only registering how true it is after he says it. There aren’t many things in the world that would stop him from helping Jonny when he needed it.
“What kind of crazy shit do you think Jonny did to try to get better?” Duncs asks loudly, nudging Seabs with his glove. Seabs pauses midway through lacing up his skates.
“Hmm. Snorted grapefruit juice? Tried to meditate his body into an alternate dimension?” he ponders, reaching up to scratch his stomach.
Jonny opens his mouth. “Hey—”
“Ooh, what about acupuncture?” Saader suggests from his stall. “He would totally do that shit.”
“I’m starting to feel attacked here,” Jonny starts, but everyone ignores him.
“Hey, let's ask Kaner, he like knows knows,” Saader says.
Duncs snaps his fingers. “That’s right!” He turns towards Patrick. “Come on, Kaner, spill the beans. What did Jonny do?”
Patrick smiles a little, eyes flicking to Jonny’s annoyed face. “Nothing special, really,” he shrugged. “Just some Mucinex and good ole’ chicken noodle soup.”
“Is that true Taze?” Seabs implores, one arm looped through his jersey while the rest hangs off his body.
“Why were you guys asking Kaner?” Jonny grouses. “I’m literally right here. But yeah, actually,” he says, quirking a small grin at Patrick. “Mucinex and chicken noodle soup. Also, acupuncture is actually really effective—”
Duncs and Seabs groan.
“Ah hah!” Shawzy crows. “So it is true. Kaner’s Jonny voodoo is real.” He turns to Saader. "Pay up, bud."
Saader goes over to his stall and fishes out a twenty dollar bill from the wallet in his locker. "Unbelievable," he mutters, shoving it into Shawzy's open hand.
"You bet on me?" Patrick says incredulously.
"What the hell is going on?" Jonny asks, voice flat.
"Kaner can read your mind," Duncs informs him.
"No he can't," Jonny says automatically. "Wait, what?"
“Sharpy said he totally can,” Shawzy adds, launching into a description of what had occurred the other day at practice while Jonny’s face grows darker with every word.
“Wanna help hide me in the equipment room before Jonny strangles me with his bare hands?” Sharpy murmurs, edging close to Patrick.
Patrick snorts. “Not a chance. You brought this on yourself. I told you to keep that shit to yourself.”
“Come on, Peekaboo think of Abby and the kids,” Sharpy pleads.
“I’ll take very good care of them,” Patrick says brightly. “I’ll even give a speech at your funeral, special slideshow included.”
Sharpy sighs. “Is this any way to treat a dear friend?”
“No,” Patrick allows, “But it is the way to treat an enormous trouble-maker that opens his big fat mouth way too often.”
“Ugh, fine.” Sharpy says. “It was nice knowing you, Peeks.” He gives Patrick a grave salute, scrambling back to his stall to hastily finish up putting on his gear.
Shawzy had finally finished talking—Patrick can practically see Jonny twitching.
Jonny starts storming towards Sharpy’s stall.
Sharpy drops the glove he’d been trying to put on, speed-walking towards the door and slipping out right before Jonny can get to him.
Patrick snorts. What a moron.
Jonny sighs, changing directions to come stand next to Patrick.
“Patrick—” Jonny starts. Patrick holds up a silencing hand.
“Listen to me. Let it go, Jon.”
Jonny frowns. “But—”
“You know how they are,” Patrick continues. “They’re complete idiots. Just ignore it until they find a new fun thing to be annoying about, okay?”
“You can’t read my mind,” Jonny says with conviction. “That’s not a thing.”
“Nope,” Patrick agrees. “Not a thing. But you know if you complain about it, it’ll just encourage them.”
Jonny snaps his mouth shut, lips pursing tight. “I guess you’re right,” he says grudgingly.
Patrick grins. “I always am, baby.” He pauses. “Also, do me a favor? Try not to kill Sharpy during practice, okay?”
Jonny snorts. “No promises there.”
Sharpy makes it out of practice alive, thankfully. A little bruised from where Jonny had checked him into the boards, but otherwise in one piece. The guys hadn’t really brought it up in the locker room after practice, and Jonny is happy and relaxed during the drive to Patrick’s apartment, apparently having forgotten about the whole thing. Well that went unusually well, Patrick thinks gratefully. It’s surprising but awesome that Jonny actually lets it go.
Jonny doesn’t let it go.
“What number am I thinking of right now?” Johnny asks abruptly. Patrick’s mouth hangs open a bit, the chicken he’d been holding between his chopsticks plopping back down into his bed of rice.
“What?” he says blankly, trying to figure out what the hell Jonny was talking about. They’d been having a perfectly nice afternoon, napping and then settling on the couch to eat a depressing pre-game meal of chicken, broccoli, and rice.
“You know, if you can read my mind, what number am I thinking of right now?” Jonny challenges. He’d set his plate down on the coffee table, leaning forward intently.
Oh good lord.
Patrick rolls his eyes. “I thought we established we were moving past this.”
Jonny gives a shrug. “Changed my mind.”
“Gonna fucking kill Sharpy,” Patrick muttered to himself.“You know, I’m not actually a fucking mind reader, moron,” he says to Jonny. A moment of silence passes. “But, 19, obviously. ”
Johnny flushes a dull red, deflating. “Fuck you,” he mumbles out, leaning back into the sofa, tugging the hood of his sweatshirt over his face.
“You narcissistic fuck,” Patrick says fondly.
“This is complete bullshit,” Jonny says, voice muffled from the fabric. “That was a lucky guess.”
Patrick pauses. “Well, I mean, not complete bullshit,” he says. “It was just, like, logic. But yeah it was a guess.”
Jonny doesn’t answer, face still hidden by the hood. His fingers are twisting around the drawstrings.
“Jon, are you actually upset right now?” Patrick asks suspiciously. Jonny looks ridiculous, with his face barely peeking out like that. Like a sad turtle or something. Patrick can practically see the pout of his bottom lip.
Jonny leans his head back and lets the hood fall off. “I don’t like it,” he says, not looking at Patrick. His hair is a total mess. He doesn’t bother to fix it.
Patrick blinks. “What?”
Jonny waves.“The whole thing. It’s stupid,” He pauses. “You don’t—you can’t know what I’m thinking. That’s absurd,” he says tightly.
“Yeah I know,” Patrick says slowly. “I agree with you.”
Jonny scowls, face creasing in irritation. “Can you, like, stop doing that?”
“Stop doing what?” Patrick asks, bemused.
“That stupid calm voice thing, like you’re a fucking zen master or some shit and I’m some crazy person.” Jonny’s going kind of flushed, that tell-tale spot of pink spreading across the top of his cheekbones.
Now Patrick’s starting to get pissed too. “Okay, well maybe you should stop acting like a crazy person then?”
Jonny doesn’t answer, staring at the copy of Golf Magazine on top of his coffee table like he wants to burn it with the force of his gaze.
“Like, seriously, what is wrong with you?” Patrick snaps. “You need to chill the fuck out, man.”
Jonny turns towards him, something ugly tugging at the corner of his lips. “Oh, so now you know what I need too? Great,” he says coldly.
Patrick reels back. “What the hell is your deal?”
Jonny snorts. “Thought you were supposed to know—isn’t that your whole thing?”
“I don’t see why you’re so fucking twisted up about this?” Patrick asks incredulously. “I knew the guys going on about it would annoy you, but they’re not even here right now. So what the hell? ”
Jonny doesn’t answer. His fingers are digging into the tops of his thighs, and he’s sitting so fucking stiffly, and Patrick just doesn’t understand.
“Look,” Patrick starts. “I just know you, okay? That’s why I can kind of, like, predict stuff about you. It’s not that fucking complicated, okay? You’re not that complicated.”
“That came out wrong,” Patrick winces, but it’s too late. Jonny’s looking at him, face crumpling.
“I think you should leave, Pat,” he says quietly, hurt etched into the lines of his face, and fuck it’s so, so much worse than Jonny’s anger.
“Jonny—” Pat starts, throat tight.
Patrick hovers for a second, but Jonny’s not looking at him anymore. He just doesn’t—how did this happen? One second, they were talking and laughing, and now—
Patrick puts his plate down on the coffee table.
The sound is so loud in contrast to the quiet of the room that it almost makes Patrick flinch.
He gets up, makes himself walk to the door.
He looks back, though, because of course he does.
Jonny’s still sitting there, unmoving.
Patrick could say something. Apologize, maybe. But he knows better. Knows that when Jonny asks for space, it’s more of a command.
When Patrick gets outside, he has to lean against the door for a minute, mulling over the words he didn’t say.
He likes that Jonny is easy to read. That he can slip into their friendship like an old sweater. Jonny is—safe, comfortable, makes Patrick feel warm. Not just an old sweater, Patrick’s favorite sweater, Patrick’s favorite person. Jonny isn’t complicated. But not because he’s boring or predictable, but because he isn’t —but so many years spent side-by-side means that Patrick has learnt to untangle the knots.
He knows that when Jonny’s nose twitches, that means he’s lying. That he’ll toss a coin into a fountain if he has one and is secretly disappointed if he doesn’t. That he really does make a wish every time. He always buys that stupid sugar-free ice cream because it’s healthier but he’ll never eat it. That he genuinely, unironically likes those shitty Hallmark Christmas movies. Patrick knows these things. And that’s because, well, Patrick knows Jonny . Knows him in a way that other people don’t. And knowing Jonny, for Patrick, is—it’s a privilege, an honor. Because Patrick has seen every part of Jonny, the good and the bad, and he can still say, with 100% certainty, that Jonny’s the best person Patrick knows.
And Patrick hurt him.
That night, Jonny draws his stick back fast, body positioned towards the net. The angle is shit, and there are four Avs crowding around the goal.
Jonny’s going to take the shot.
But Patrick sees the slightest shift of his skates, the minute angular rotation that tells him when Jonny’s about to pivot.
Patrick rushes to the net, slipping by Zadorov. Jonny twists at the last second, sending the puck shooting through three sets of Avs’ legs towards Patrick instead. It’s a gorgeous pass—all Patrick has to do is tip it in.
Patrick meets Jonny’s eyes.
No matter what happens between them, at least Patrick always knows what Jonny’s thinking on the ice.