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“Converse, huh?” Patrick asks, raising a brow at the black high tops on Jonny’s feet. “Very hip of you, Tazer. Trying to fit in with the kids?” Jonny’s whole outfit is pretty hip, actually—a well-fitting white t-shirt and black jeans, trench coat slung over his elbow. If someone didn’t know Jonny personally, they might look at him and actually think he was cool or something—talk about false advertising. 

“You calling me old?” Jonny tries to give Patrick an offended look, but a dorky grin steals over his face instead—thus proving Patrick’s point. 

“Hey, you said it bud, not me,” Patrick says cheerfully, moving back to let Jonny into his apartment. Jonny has had keys to his place for a while now, so technically he can walk in whenever he wants—Patrick certainly does when he shows up at Jonny’s (uninvited, usually—but he figures he pretty much has a 24/7 open invite since Jonny’s never kicked him out). 

Jonny, however, insists on knocking because it’s ‘polite’—which kind of defeats key-privileges in the first place, but he’s long given up on trying to cure Jonny of his weird—but admittedly charming—habits. 

Jonny playfully hip checks him as he walks through the door, hard enough that Patrick actually stumbles back. “You realize we’re the same age, right?” he asks, turning around, smile tugging at his lips, and Patrick gives himself a moment to revel in the relief of how easy it is to slip back into their friendship. It seemed like everything got resolved yesterday, but there was a tiny part of him that was worried there might be lingering awkwardness—or worse, hurt. But in the face of Jonny's dumb smirk and bright eyes, all his worries melt away. 

“Uh, wrong ,” Patrick says, aiming a swift retaliatory kick at Jonny’s shin. “I have months of youth on you, old man.” He gives Jonny his best ‘I’m younger and cooler than you’ look. It’s funny, when they first started out, Patrick hated the fact that Jonny was older than him—hated being the baby of the team in general. These days, if he doesn't get ID’d—which rarely happens, but Patrick likes to pretend that that’s because the bartender recognizes him rather than the fact that he looks comfortably older than 21—he’s secretly kinda bummed. Oh god, he really is old, isn’t he? 

Jonny hums, tossing his coat on the armrest of Patrick’s sofa before plopping down himself, spreading his legs wide and crossing his arms behind his back to pillow his head. “So what you’re saying is that I’m older and wiser than you.” From the little grin on his face, Patrick can tell Jonny thinks he’s really clever for that one. 

Patrick immediately opens his mouth to protest and then shuts it, pausing. Well. “More like older and more annoying than me,” Patrick chirps back obnoxiously, but the response comes a beat too late. 

Jonny smirks knowingly. “Now we both know that’s not true, Peeks.” 

Patrick scowls. “Whatever, asshole,” he says, sitting down next to Jonny and punching him on the shoulder. God, Jonny’s such a jerk. Why does Patrick like him so much? 

“Oh, before I forget—” Jonny says, reaching over to grab his coat and rifle through the inner pockets. Patrick barely has time to blink, and then there’s something being shoved in his hands. 

“I know we said we were just going to do the dinner exchange thing as our presents this year, but with Secret Santa, well. You’re two up on me, so I thought maybe I should even the score a bit.” The words rush out of Jonny so fast that Patrick barely registers them. 

Patrick looks down. It takes a few seconds for his brain to process what he’s holding. It’s a—it’s a painting. Small but in a simple yet elegant frame. A painting of—

A painting of bluebells. 

Patrick keeps staring, grip tightening around the frame and a strange lump growing in his throat.  

“There’s this really cool artist that I met at one of our fundraising events last year—I reached out and they were able to get it done last minute. I figured you’d kill a pot of actual bluebells, so. I did this instead? But I also know that a painting of flowers doesn’t exactly fit in with your usual decor, so I made it small if you just wanted to stash it somewhere in a corner. Or in a drawer, whatever—you don’t have to actually put it up. I just—I just wanted you to have it. I don’t know.”

Patrick finally makes himself tear his gaze away from the painting and looks up at Jonny. Jonny’s head is ducked down, ears tipped a curious shade of red that matches the flush starting at the tops of his cheeks. Patrick stares, fascinated despite himself. He was babbling. Jonny never babbles. Patrick swallows hard, heart beating out of his chest. 

“Good thinking, Tazer,” Patrick says finally, unable to stop his voice from cracking. “I would definitely kill a pot of real bluebells.” 

It startles a laugh out of Jonny. “Figured,” he says, voice oddly shy and eyes directed studiously down at his lap. 

“Hey,” Patrick says softly, reaching out to press the tips of his fingers against Jonny’s forearm. Jonny’s head snaps up, eyes shooting towards Patrick’s. He’s worrying his bottom lip with his teeth, looking more unsure than Patrick’s ever seen him. “I fucking love it, Jonny.” 

A pleased little smile starts at the corner of Jonny’s lips. “Yeah?” he asks hopefully, brown eyes wide. 

Patrick nods. “Yeah.” If he wasn’t a professional athlete who had regular medical checkups, he’d think there was something seriously  wrong with his health, because his heart won’t stop pounding. It’s just—Jonny, on his couch, like he’s been a million times before. 

Jonny, looking at him, soft and fond and a little nervous, telling Patrick he’s a forever person for Jonny too. 

It’s sappy as hell, and maybe it should be embarrassing (Patrick likes to think he’s a bit more in touch with his emotions than the average hockey player—natural by-product of having three awesome sisters—but it’s not like he and Jonny have ever sat around making each other friendship bracelets or whatever). But Patrick doesn’t feel embarrassed, not even a little bit. He just feels—lucky. Lucky, because out of all the people in the world he could’ve had to do this with—hockey, growing up, life—the world gave him Jonathan Toews. 

It’s only then that Patrick realizes they’ve just been—staring at each other for the last god knows how many seconds. He can feel his own cheeks heat up, and under the light, happy feeling in his chest, his stomach suddenly starts squirming. “I, uh, think we should probably head out,” Patrick says, breaking the silence. “Don’t wanna be late, so…” He trails off, clearing his throat. 

Jonny startles, blinking a few times. “Yeah! Yeah of course, let’s get this show on the road,” he says, smiling and getting up, grabbing his coat from the arm rest. 

Patrick snorts, getting up himself. “Don’t think I didn’t notice that was totally a concert reference—didn’t we decide you were banned from making puns?” 

“That wasn’t a pun!” Jonny insists. “Totally legal.”

“Hmm, pretty sure the ban covered any and all things that could remotely be considered dad humor,” Patrick says pointedly. 

“Okay, first of all, dad humor is hilarious, you just have no taste,” Jonny says—ah yes, Jonathan Toews, renowned connoisseur of comedy— “Also you decided I was banned from puns. I never agreed to your tyrannical terms.”

Tyrannical? ” Patrick says with outrage—or at least he tries to, but Jonny’s doing his crinkly-eyed grin, and it’s making it really hard for Patrick to do anything but beam back. “Tyr—actually, you know what? We’re not doing this. You’re ridiculous. And you’re going to make us late,” Patrick says, trying to school his features into at least a half-hearted attempt at sternness and walking over to his closet to pull out his own coat. 

“I see how it is—getting out of the kitchen, eh Kaner?” Jonny calls out from behind him. “Because, you know, you can’t stand the heat,” he clarifies when Patrick turns back around and walks back over. 

“Yes, Jonathan, I’m aware of the phrase,” Patrick says, unable to stop amusement from coloring his voice. “Speaking of heat—” He digs Jonny’s gloves out his coat pocket and tosses them at him. “Told you I’d remember to give ‘em back.”

Wow, so Jonny must’ve really expected him to forget, because he’s looking down at the gloves like he's confused or something, crease appearing between his brows. Patrick can’t help but feel a little affronted on his own behalf, but that feeling disappears pretty quickly—he admittedly has had a terrible track record on returning Jonny’s things. Even just taking a quick glance around his apartment, he can spot a bunch of shit that definitely belongs to Jonny—so maybe Jonny’s reaction is valid. And he should probably get on returning some of this stuff to Jonny—oops. 

But then Jonny shoves the gloves back into Patrick’s hands. “Keep ‘em,” he says firmly. “They look better on you. Besides, I have a spare pair.” He pulls them out for proof. Patrick feels a jolt of surprise shoot through him. Jonny’s smiling, though, and his eyes are warm and sincere. 

“Uh, sure,” Patrick replies, a little confused but pleased anyway. Wait—maybe— “One sec,” he says, digging into his other pocket and pulling out his own gloves. He looks up at Jonny and presses them into his hands. “Only seems fair.”

Jonny looks like he’s going to protest for a moment, but then his face smooths out. He shoves his spare pair of gloves back in his pocket and pulls Patrick’s gloves on. “How do I look? Am I pulling them off?” He asks seriously, raising his gloved hands.

Patrick grins, putting on Jonny’s gloves. “Not too shabby, Tazer,” he says before wiggling his own gloved fingers. “But if either of us has a future career in glove-modeling, it’s definitely me.” 

Jonny glances down at Patrick’s hands, soft smile playing at his lips. “Yeah, I think you’re probably right. You ready to head out?” He asks abruptly. Patrick blinks. Right, shit. Concert. That they’re going to be late for if they don’t leave right the fuck now. 

“I’m ready,” Patrick says grimly, squaring his shoulders like he’s getting ready to go into battle. Well it is a battle in a sense—his ears vs. 90s Canadian alt-rock. 

Jonny laughs, throwing an arm around Patrick’s shoulder. “Don’t front, you’re gonna have the time of your life,” he teases. 

Patrick hates that Jonny’s probably right. 

They do end up being late—not that it really matters. Shockingly, it turns out that the intersection between ‘residents of Chicago’ and ‘Our Lady Peace fans’ isn’t very big, so the place isn’t too full even though the venue is small to begin with. 

Out of the people that are at the concert though, a good number are Blackhawks fans—or at least hockey fans—so Jonny and Patrick spend a few minutes shaking hands and taking pictures before staking out a spot in the back near the bar. 

“You sure you don’t wanna get up front? Start a mosh pit to Superman’s Dead ?” Patrick asks, nudging Jonny with his elbow and unable to stop himself from smirking. 

Jonny snorts. “That’s the only song name you know, isn’t it?” He asks wryly. 

Patrick shrugs, unapologetic. “Pretty much, yeah.” Jonny tries hard to look disappointed—after all, he’d put up an admirable effort trying to convince Patrick of Our Lady Peace’s supposed awesomeness their rookie year until Patrick made fun of him enough to get him to stop. Honestly, Patrick probably damn near knows the band’s entire discography just by virtue of the odd song popping up here or there on Jonny’s playlists over the years, but he made sure to avoid learning any of the names, because he didn’t need that kind of information taking up space in his brain, thank you very much. 

Jonny goes to grab them beers while the opening act is playing—some local band made up of a few young dudes, early 20’s if Patrick had to guess. They’re actually pretty good, even though their music doesn’t exactly line up with the vibe of the act they’re opening for—honestly, they’re more Patrick’s style than Our Lady Peace is, and he’s pleasantly surprised when he finds himself getting into the music. He makes a note to look them up on Spotify when he gets home. Of course, Jonny takes advantage of Patrick’s focus by pressing an ice-cold bottle of beer to the back of his neck. 

“What the fuck?” Patrick hisses, jerking on instinct and hand flying to touch his neck while Jonny honest-to-god giggles like he didn’t just pull a prank straight out of a middle schooler’s playbook. “Yeah, real funny,” he says sourly when Jonny doesn’t stop chuckling. “Now my neck’s all cold.” He can hear himself whining, but Jonny’s being a dick. 

“Sorry,” Jonny says smiling, clearly completely unrepentant. He holds Patrick’s beer out to him, and Patrick accepts it with a scowl. “Let me warm it up for you.” Jonny reaches up to cup the back of Patrick’s neck, and Patrick immediately feels a shiver run through his body—Jonny’s hand isn't as cold as the bottle, but it certainly isn't toasty either, having spent the last few minutes holding the aforementioned ice-cold beer. It’s on the tip of his tongue to tell Jonny to get his freezing hands off of him, but he doesn’t for some reason, finding himself leaning into the touch instead, especially when he glances up and can tell from the look on Jonny's face that this isn't an extension of the prank, and he's genuinely trying to be helpful. 

“That better?” Jonny asks sincerely. 

“Yeah,” Patrick lies, stomach swooping at the satisfied smile Jonny gives him in response, giving his neck one last squeeze before taking his hand off. 

Jonny’s reaction when the band finally comes out is pretty hilarious—he’s trying to play it cool, but it’s clear he’s borderline starstruck. Patrick thinks about chirping him, but then Jonny turns to him and says, “I’ve always wanted to see them live, but I never got the chance because of hockey.” His voice is excited, and there’s almost a look of childlike-glee on his face. “Thanks again, Kaner,” he says earnestly, and any urge Patrick had to chirp Jonny withers away and dies, replaced by a mad rush of affection. 

Patrick swallows hard. “‘Course,” he says. The affection stubbornly stays in place, swelling in his chest as the night goes on. It’s rare to see Jonny completely loose and happy like this. Patrick’s only really ever seen it directly after their Cup wins (if he’s honest, ‘happy Jonny’ is one of the best perks of winning the Cup—but he’s taking that to his grave). 

No matter how well they’re playing during the season, Jonny’s still on edge, constantly looking for ways to be better. So is Patrick, of course. But Jonny’s not just thinking about his own performance—he’s thinking about everyone else’s too. 

There’ve been so many times Patrick’s seen Jonny sitting tense and upset after a game, worn from having to answer for everyone’s mistakes to the media—times when he's desperately wished he could take some of the burden off of Jonny’s shoulders. Not that Jonny would let him, of course, because in addition to being the best friend ever, he’s also the best Captain ever—and stubborn to boot. 

It’s frustrating, because Jonny’s always taking care of other people, but he doesn’t let anyone take care of him, no matter how much they might want to—and no matter how much he might need it. Because despite Jonny's tendency to carry the weight of the world on his back and insist he's fine, he's not actually Superman—he needs someone to look out for him the way he looks out for everyone else whether he wants to admit it or not. Patrick does what he can from the sidelines, plays as hard and well as he can—for himself, for the team. But for Jonny, too, because he’s figured that’s pretty much the biggest way he can help—but he's always looking to do more. So it makes him feel warm that something he did is putting this look on Jonny’s face. 

As suspected, hearing Our Lady Peace in person does little to change Patrick’s opinion, but it doesn’t really matter because he finds his attention wandering to Jonny instead. Jonny’s bopping his head lightly along to the music, a kind of restrained, cool-guy move to match the nonchalant slope of his shoulders and hands shoved casually in his pockets. It’s all very chill, which is one thing Jonny definitely is not—and sure enough, the facade is belied by the way he’s singing the lyrics to all the songs under his breath. 

Patrick smothers a smile and nudges Jonny hard. Jonny looks at Patrick, startled. “That the best you got?” Patrick asks, imitating Jonny’s faux-casual stance and lame head-bopping when Jonny frowns in confusion. “Come on, give into your inner angsty Canadian teenager and go for it, man.” He knows Jonny totally wants to. Jonny takes a second to decide if he should be offended or not before his face splits into a wide smile, and oh boy, Patrick does not like the look of that. 

“Remember, you asked for it,” Jonny says, frighteningly upbeat. And then, to Patrick’s horror, he really does start to go for it, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet and singing significantly louder than he was before—they’re far enough away from the main crowd that no one else can probably hear him, but the important part is that Patrick can hear him. Patrick doesn’t like the music to begin with, and Jonny’s managing to butcher it further on account of being an awful singer, all off-key and warbly—Patrick’s fighting both a bout of horror and giggles at the same time. 

“Oh my god, stop it, ” he strangles out, watching in dismay as Jonny starts fucking head-banging—he can’t help but take a surreptitious look around to see if anyone’s watching them, which they thankfully aren’t. “You’re embarrassing me,” Patrick groans, briefly hiding his face in his hands, removing them in time to see Jonny grinning at him. 

“Hey, just following your orders,” Jonny says, waggling his brows. And then he wraps an arm around Patrick’s shoulders and ducks down to sing the lyrics in Patrick’s ear. Patrick bats him off, unable to stop the breathless laughs coming out of his mouth. He probably looks like a fucking maniac because he’s trying to glower at Jonny, but he can feel his lips twitching up at the corners. Jonny just presses his nose to Patrick’s hair and lets out a bright laugh before retreating, settling into a nice, enthusiastic head-bop that shows significantly more emotion than his weird cool-guy thing, singing the lyrics at a less mortifying volume.

Patrick shifts closer to Jonny to give him a sharp elbow jab to the ribs. He fully planned on moving back to his original spot after getting his revenge, but Jonny’s still got his arm slung around Patrick’s shoulders, and somehow it only gets heavier, like Jonny’s some snuggly, sweaty octopus. 

As a result, Patrick’s all but pinned to Jonny’s side—it’s warm and stifling, and Patrick can practically feel the dampness of Jonny’s shirt seeping through, which is totally gross. 

Patrick could always shake off Jonny’s arm altogether, but he’s too lazy to, choosing to lean further into Jonny instead, making him take some of Patrick’s weight. Patrick half-expects Jonny to shove him off himself, but he just tightens his arm around Patrick’s shoulders and keeps singing along to the music. 

Patrick stays leaned up against Jonny for a good few songs, limbs all lazy from the heat of the room and the low buzz of intoxication in his system. Eventually, though, he starts getting bored again, so he squirms away from Jonny’s embrace and goes to get another drink. And that’s pretty much how the night goes—Jonny moving to the music and Patrick getting beer after beer to cope until he’s pleasantly tipsy enough to stand there and not hate what he’s hearing, sneaking glances at Jonny to keep himself entertained. 

The alcohol was an excellent choice, because before Patrick knows it, the band is thanking the audience for being incredible and announcing they’re about to play their last song. Patrick can’t help but perk up at that—Jonny notices, of course, snorting, and Patrick gives him what he hopes translates approximately to an apologetic expression. 

Jonny just laughs, wrapping his arm around Patrick’s shoulder again. “Home stretch, Peeks,” he says, voice warm and eyes fond. The band starts playing before Patrick can respond, and Jonny turns his focus back to the front. 

Patrick expected them to finish on some hardcore banger or some shit, but the song is way slower than most of the other stuff they played. It’s kind of—it’s kind of nice, actually. Oh boy, he must be drunker than he thought. He hears the word ‘hockey’ which cheers him up on instinct, and then he miraculously actually finds himself paying attention to the song—after which his good cheer is completely and utterly trampled. 

If you walk out that door

I just don’t know what I’d do

I’ll never get over you

Jesus, if this was the kind of stuff Jonny was listening to on repeat rookie year, no wonder he was so grumpy and neurotic—clearly he needed some less depressing music. Patrick’s always been an emotional dude, and he’s not afraid to admit it (he firmly stands by the belief that crying is therapeutic as hell, and he thinks several of his fellow teammates would benefit from letting the tears flow once in a while), but he’s still kind of horrified to find himself getting a little choked up. 

The lyrics are hitting him hard for some reason—well, it’s probably the alcohol. But the thing is, Patrick doesn’t feel drunk. Kind of the opposite, really. He’s hyper-aware all of a sudden, little details from all his senses registering all at once—the thick taste of the air, the sweat sticking his shirt to his back, the heat radiating off Jonny’s body, the heavy weight of his arm. 

Jonny’s smell, the way he’s started rubbing idle circles on Patrick’s shoulders with his thumb, body oddly still otherwise. And through it all, the music. There’s this weird tightness in Patrick’s chest that almost hurts, and he helplessly finds his eyes drawn to Jonny’s face the way they’ve been all night—the way they are all the time, if he’s honest with himself. 

This time, Jonny’s looking back, head turned towards Patrick. There’s no characteristic easy grin or little joke waiting for him—Jonny’s face is weirdly serious, eyes dark and unreadable as they sweep over Patrick’s face. For the second time that night, Patrick can feel his heart start to race and heat rise to his cheeks, and he has to look away. He doesn’t know why, but suddenly it feels like the most natural thing in the world to lean in closer to Jonny—so he does, resting his head on Jonny’s shoulder. He can feel Jonny go tense for a second, hears the hitch in his breath. And then Jonny relaxes and brings his cheek to rest on top of Patrick’s head, and something inside Patrick loosens, contentment spreading through him. They stay like that, pressed together, right up until the song ends. 

Jonny ends up driving Patrick’s car since Patrick’s had a few, and the ride is quiet the whole way back. They’ve deviated from their usual script—Patrick isn’t able to find it in himself to start up the chirping, even though the concert was prime fodder, and Jonny doesn’t initiate either. But while the silence between them is unexpected, it's not uncomfortable. Jonny walks Patrick up to his apartment, and Patrick doesn’t even bother protesting, just smiling lightly as Jonny punches the button to Patrick’s floor when they get into the elevator and neglects to press the button for the lobby too. 

“So,” Jonny says once they’re standing outside Patrick’s door. “Time of your life?” He teases, hands shoved in his pockets and giving Patrick a small grin and a light shoulder bump. It’s Patrick’s cue to make a joke—normally he’d say something about his ears bleeding. But—

“Yeah,” he says simply, returning Jonny’s grin with one of his own, watching as surprise flits across Jonny’s face before his grin widens into a soft smile. 

“Yeah? You finally see the light and become an Our Lady Peace Fan?” Jonny asks.

“Wasn’t because of the music,” Patrick responds automatically before freezing, because that sounds—he didn’t mean—“You sure you don’t wanna just crash here?” Patrick says hastily, changing the subject and praying Jonny didn’t notice the inadvertent confession of all his stupidly mushy feelings of affection—and then he remembers he literally gave Jonny “you’re my bff” flowers in front of their entire team, so Jonny already knows Patrick thinks he’s pretty much the greatest dude ever. 

He feels embarrassed for approximately one second before remembering oh yeah, Jonny essentially got him bff-flowers too, so they’re equally embarrassing about their friendship. 

“Nah, I gotta get home—my flight’s tomorrow,” Jonny says, sounding a little regretful, and oh yeah, the break. The break Patrick had almost completely forgotten about despite him being pumped for it for weeks now. 

“Oh shit, I think my flight’s tomorrow too,” Patrick realizes. Oops. 

“You better get to bed,” Jonny says, momentarily shifting to lecture voice, worried frown tugging the corners of his lips down and looking like he’s two seconds away from asking Patrick when his flight is so he can back-calculate exactly how much sleep Patrick can get if he goes to bed in five minutes.

Patrick rolls his eyes lightly. “Relax, Captain. I’m going,” he says, amused despite himself, leaning in to give Jonny a tight hug before he can start spouting off the dangers of sleep-deprivation. “Have a good break, okay?” Patrick mumbles into Jonny’s chest. 

“You too, Peeks,” he hears Jonny say as he squeezes back even tighter than Patrick did. They finally separate, exchanging smiles before Jonny turns around and starts walking down the hallway. He gives Patrick a little wave right before the elevator closes on him, and then he’s gone. 

Patrick stares at the spot where Jonny disappeared for a few seconds before he lets himself into his apartment. The late hour and exhaustion from the concert is finally hitting him, and all he wants to do is crawl under his covers and pass out, but he makes himself pack at least a little bit first—he checks, and he has an afternoon flight, thank god, so he can do the rest in the morning—and tries to organize some of the clutter in his apartment so the cleaning service that’ll come by while he’s gone doesn’t have to deal with a complete disaster. 

He walks to the coffee table to grab the beers he’d set out for him and Jonny, unopened and lukewarm because they never got around to drinking them, and his eyes catch on the bluebell painting lying on the sofa. He pops the beers back in the fridge and walks back to pick up the painting, warmth sweeping through him just from looking at the thing. 

He looks around, biting his lip. Jonny’s right—it doesn’t exactly match Patrick’s aesthetic—or lack of aesthetic, rather—but there’s no way in hell he’s just stuffing it in some random drawer like Jonny suggested. He walks through his apartment with the painting carefully cradled in his hands, eyes scanning over the walls critically. He could put it in the living room over the TV, or maybe in the kitchen—but it still feels off somehow. 

He’s going down the hallway when he reaches his room, door wide open, and he stops. Maybe—

He walks inside, glancing around. The painting doesn’t fit in here any better than it does in any other place in his apartment, but Patrick lingers anyway, eyes scanning everywhere before they finally land on his nightstand. 

Before he knows it, he finds himself setting the painting down there. It doesn’t even feel like a conscious decision, but when Patrick steps back, he surveys the scene with satisfaction. Yeah, that’s perfect. He gets ready for bed, dragging himself through his nighttime routine. He practically groans with relief when he crawls under his covers, just barely remembering to set an early alarm for tomorrow before he rolls over. His eyes catch on the painting when he does, and there’s a burst of happiness in his chest before he finally drifts off.