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“I hate playing in fucking Florida, the ice is always shit,” Sharpy announces, throwing himself onto Patrick’s previously untouched bed.

“Welcome, Sharpy, thanks for knocking, make yourself at home,” Patrick scowls, not bothering to turn around from the mirror where he’s attacking his curls with a thick glob of hair gel. He squints in dismay as they scrunch into something resembling ramen rather than the “full, luscious, locks,” the bottle promised. Fuck. He’s never listening to Erica again—holy grail product his ass.

Sharpy’s reflection settles further back into his bed with an unbothered grin. “Hey, your fault for keeping the door unlocked. Not very wise of you, Peeks, you never know what could be out there,” he finishes with a waggle of his eyebrows.

Patrick snorts. “You’re by far the worst thing within a hundred miles of this hotel.” It’s the outskirts of Miami. The only things nearby are a 24/7 laundromat, a CVS, and a quiet little residential block—Patrick thinks he’ll survive. He walks over and knocks his knees into Sharpy’s feet, which are dangling off the bed. “What’s up?” It's not unusual for Sharpy to barge into his room on road trips—their movie nights are the stuff of legends, after all. But Sharpy's dressed in a crisp button down and tight jeans rather than his pj's.

“The boys are going out for dinner, it’s a toss up between steak and Chinese,” Sharpy explains, grabbing one of Patrick’s pillows and hugging it against his stomach. “We’re rounding up votes—still gotta get Tazer after you.”

Patrick waves him off. “Don’t bother, put us both down for Chinese. Plus, he's probably in the shower right now, so you won't be able to ask him anyway, ” he says decisively. They might not be rooming together anymore, but Patrick knows Jonny's hotel habits like the back of his hand. Patrick always showered first. Jonny took his time, parking in front of the TV for a while, sometimes with his shirt half-off his body or meditating on the floor in his dumb, tiny black briefs. A decent amount of time has passed since they've gotten back to the hotel, so Patrick is willing to bet Jonny has finally dragged himself to the bathroom.

Sharpy raises an eyebrow at him. “Is there something you’re not telling me bud? Are you wearing an earpiece, or have Jonny and you just evolved past the plane of normal human communication and started to use telepathy?”

Patrick rolls his eyes and steals Sharpy’s pillow, smushing it into Sharpy’s face as he makes an outraged squawk. “Neither, moron. Jonny won’t want steak, trust me.” Duh. It seems pretty obvious to Patrick, but judging by the incredulous look on Sharpy's face, not all of his teammates have managed to catch on to their illustrious captain's dietary habits.

“How could you possibly know that?" Sharpy demands."Jonny, like, loves steak man. It’s right up there alongside fishing and gray ties on the list of Jonny’s Favorite Things.”

“Yeah, but we had a shoot-out,” Patrick says simply. Jonny's not going to want steak after a shoot-out. He won't make a fuss out of it if that's what the boys choose, of course, but at the very least he'll get that dumb little frown that appears when Jonny's displeased but too polite to admit it.

Sharpy scrunches his brow. “Uh, yeah? I know? I won it for us? What’s your point?”

Patrick sighs. “Look, man, I don’t know how to explain it. Jonny always gets a sensitive stomach when we go to a shoot-out. I think it just makes him super nervous or something, overloads his system. Steak is a no-go.” He'd end up eating the steak anyways and then get grumpy later on when his stomach hurt and would probably end up whining to Patrick about it and asking Patrick if he thinks Jonny should change his fiber supplement—no thank you.

Sharpy stares. “We won the game. Jonny scored one of our only two regular goals. He even scored on Markstrom during the shoot-out.”

Patrick throws his hands up in the air defensively. “Hey, man, I don’t know how Jonny’s whacko biology works. But that stuff doesn’t matter. Shoot-out equals cranky tummy. That’s all I know.”

Sharpy pulls himself off the bed. “Peeks, you are so full of shit,” he snickers, slapping a hand against Patrick’s back. Okay, yeah, it objectively sounds kind of insane, but Patrick just… knows it's true, the same way he knows Jonny secretly likes the Nickelback Patrick blasts even though he threatens to pull over his car unless Patrick turns it off.

“You’re just a hater,” Patrick retorts nonsensically, shoving Sharpy’s arm off of him.

“Wait, but do you actually want Chinese?” Sharpy presses with an inscrutable look. Patrick squirms, going a little warm and itchy for some inexplicable reason. “I mean, not really, but I’m not going to pick something Jonny can’t eat.”

A smirk is growing on Sharpy’s face. “I see,” he says, mirth coloring his voice.

Patrick finds himself flushing. “I have to sit next to him on the plane back, I just don’t want to have to constantly get up because he needs to use the bathroom!”

“Uh huh.”

“Ugh,” Patrick groans. “Whatever, let’s go.”


“What died on your head, Kaner?” Duncs calls as Sharpy and Patrick walk towards the gaggle of hockey players clustered by the lobby door. Patrick flashes a lazy middle finger in his direction, going to stand beside Shawzy and Seabs, who are laughing over something on Shawzy’s phone.

Despite the late hour, almost the whole crew is coming out, crowding the lobby with their long limbs. Sharpy cranes his head. “Looks like we’re just missing— ”

“Hey guys, sorry I’m late,” Jonny interrupts, jogging over to them with a sheepish smile. He’s a little flushed and out of breath—he probably ran the whole way from his room. What a dork, Patrick thinks fondly.

Of course, Jonny has to go and ruin it. “What happened to your hair?” Jonny asks him, doing a double-take. Oh for fuck’s sake. He’s going to kill Erica.

“I’m just trying a new hair gel, Jesus. Can you guys get off my dick, please?” Patrick says darkly, surreptitiously reaching up to try and break up some of the clumps. The chirps are well-deserved, he has to admit—he would’ve worn a beanie, but of course it’s 80 degrees in December. Fucking Florida.

Patrick waits for another biting remark, but Jonny just frowns, reaching up to tuck an errant curl that had escaped the wrath of Erica’s gel behind Patrick’s ear. Patrick shivers involuntarily. “I wish you would stop trying to put shit in your hair. It’s nice the way it is,” Jonny says softly and oh.

“I—uh, thanks, man,” Patrick stutters out, wanting to melt into the floor from the way Sharpy is looking at them, eyebrows shooting towards his hairline. Patrick knows his cheeks have gone bright red.

Sharpy gives a small cough. “To-es, just the man I wanted to see!” he exclaims, clapping his hands together and stepping between Patrick and Jonny. He shoots Patrick a conniving look before turning to face Jonny. “So, we were between Chinese and steak, and you were the deciding vote. I couldn't get a hold of you, but I know you love steak, so I put you down for that. Is that cool ?” Sharpy smiles beatifically.

Patrick watches in amusement as Jonny opens and closes his mouth open a few times, the silence stretching on for a hair too long. “I—yeah, man, that’s fine,” Jonny says finally, scratching at the back of his neck. His tone is injected with forced cheer, but his lips threaten to pull down at the corners, and his eyebrows grow a little crease between them. “I mean that’s great, actually,” he corrects, plastering on a weak smile.

Sharpy looks at him hard for a moment before flicking his eyes to Patrick, who just shrugs and mouths “I told you so.”

“You know what, I'm actually defecting to Team Chinese, not really feeling the steak after all. Sorry Taze,” Sharpy says casually before abruptly turning from Jonny's now surprised expression to face the rest of the guys. “Boys!” he calls out. “Change of plans. We’re doing Chinese. Anybody that has a problem with that can either suck it up or order room service.”

There are a few grumbles from the crowd, but one by one they turn to amble out the door. Sharpy hangs back, walking in step with Patrick. “Jesus, you were not kidding,” he says in a low voice. "I don't think I've ever seen Tazer not want steak before. It's crazy that you knew that. ”

Patrick shrugs, feeling suddenly uncomfortable. “It’s not—I guess. I don’t know.” He doesn’t like the way Sharpy is looking at him, intense and eyes all unreadable and shit.

“Yeah,” Sharpy says finally, apparently choosing to drop the subject. Patrick unclenches, feeling the tension he didn’t know he was holding leave his body. He doesn’t think for a second this is over, though. He knows what Sharpy’s like when he gets a certain thought or idea in his head—he’s like a dog with a bone. And Patrick has no idea what exactly Sharpy is thinking, but he can guarantee he’s probably not going to like it.

Ugh, why did he have to be so considerate—he should’ve just kept his mouth shut about the whole shoot-out thing. He can admit to himself that maybe it was a bit of an odd thing to notice about a teammate, but he and Jonny spend a lot of time together—it’s not like Patrick is intentionally paying attention, or whatever. This is clearly all Jonny’s fault.

An hour later, Jonny is eating steamed dumplings, looking relaxed and happy, laughing at Shawzy's stupid impressions of guys on other teams. When he looks up to give Patrick a quick smile over the dinner table that makes him go warm all over, Patrick can't bring himself to regret it all that much. 

Chapter Text

Two weeks later, Patrick’s changing out of his gear in his stall after practice when Sharpy comes up and pokes him in the arm.

“Want to work some of that Jonny voodoo magic and tell me what crawled up his ass and died?” he asks, leaning against the wall casually. Patrick stares at him blankly. What is Sharpy talking—

Oh. That.  

Jonny had just left the locker room in stony silence, not bothering to say goodbye to anyone or to even take a shower. Patrick can’t say he’s entirely surprised—he’d been sneezing all practice, high-pitched little things that had inspired a metric fuck-ton of chirps, with Jonny getting progressively more agitated and sniffly after each one. 

“What’s Jonny voodoo magic?” Shawzy pipes up from a few feet away. 

“Kaner here has some sort of freaky ability to read Jonny’s mind,” Sharpy says sagely, shifting to face the room. “It’s like a superpower, only not cool and mostly useless.”

Patrick flushes as everyone turns to stare at him. “I do not,” he responds hotly. “It’s called paying attention, you enormous dumbass.”

“You know,” Seabs starts slowly. “The superpower thing would actually explain a lot. Remember when we went to go see Snowpiercer and Kaner predicted that Jonny would take a “mysterious bathroom break” an hour into the movie and then he did? Like, who the fuck knows that kind of shit?”

“I’d seen the movie before and I knew the eating bugs thing would freak him out!” Patrick says defensively. Jonny could get hilariously squeamish, plus he hates bugs. That’s, like, common knowledge.

“Or when we went to that karaoke bar and took bets on which song Jonny would choose when he got drunk and Kaner got it right,” Duncs adds. Okay, that one was just pure logic— I Wanna Dance With Somebody was like the 5th most played song on Jonny’s iPod, and it also happens to be a karaoke classic. What’s not to get here? 

The locker room erupts into spirited discussion, bringing up other times Patrick had supposedly “read Jonny’s mind.” It’s official—Patrick is a part of the dumbest team in the league. 

“Now look what you’ve done,” he says rolling his eyes and snapping his shirt at Sharpy. “You better hope Jonny doesn’t find out about this.”  

Sharpy grins unrepentantly. “What’s he gonna do, stare at me disapprovingly to death?” He kicks Patrick’s foot lightly. “No, seriously, what’s up with Toes?”

“Are you really asking me why he’s upset?” Patrick answers, kicking Sharpy back. “You fuckers have been goading him all practice.”

Sharpy frowns, looking legitimately confused. “Come on, that? That was nothing. We’ve all done way worse to him, and that was before he lightened up.”

“Yeah, but it looks like he’s probably getting sick,” Patrick explains patiently. “And that’s like Jonny’s least favorite thing ever, so yeah he can be kind of a bitch to deal with. Just, like, don’t provoke him, or whatever.” 

Sharpy raises his eyebrows. “Okay, note to self: don’t mess with Captain Sniffles, got it. Anyways, you wanna come over for dinner tonight?” he asks, changing subjects. “Abby’s making lasagna, and Maddie and Sadie have been asking about you.” 

Sharpy’s a pain in his ass and is probably going to take years off his life, but he can’t say no to lasagna or Maddie and Sadie. 

“Yeah man, sounds good,” Patrick says.


Patrick doesn’t bother looking at the phone when he answers—he’d programmed Jonny’s ringtone to the Canadian national anthem last year. Jonny had gone all scowly, threatening to get himself traded to the Jets where “he’d get the respect he deserves” and “how would they like that, eh?” while Patrick and Sharpy had laughed themselves sick, repeating “eh?” until Jonny had stormed out of the room. So, yeah, it’s fucking hilarious, although Jonny definitely doesn’t agree.    

“What’s up, loser,” Patrick greets brightly, muting the TV where Palmieri had just snuck one past Lundqvist. They have a stretch of home games for a few days, so after practice and his subsequent nap, Patrick had settled himself in front of the TV for a nice afternoon of vegging out before planning on heading to Sharpy’s for dinner. 

When Jonny doesn’t immediately call Patrick a dickhead, he knows something’s wrong. There’s a sniffle across the line. 

“Patrick, I’m sick,” Jonny’s voice warbles out, nasal and solemn. He delivers the words in the same way someone would announce “She’s not going to make it ” or “I have one month left to live. ” 

“I’m, uh, sorry to hear that bud,” Patrick responds carefully, struggling to keep the laughter out of his voice. Jonny is a stubborn fucker when it comes to his health. He hates admitting he’s sick. But once he does, he turns into a big baby—a snotty, foul-mouthed, baby. 

“Anyways, I was just calling to tell you that you can’t come over,” Jonny says gravely, the speaker going crackly when he lets out a loud cough. 

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Patrick assures him, amused despite himself. “I have plans with the Sharps tonight.” To be fair, Patrick did show up at Jonny’s apartment unannounced a lot, so he guesses it’s a good thing Jonny called. 

“...Oh,” Jonny says quietly, giving a small sniff.  “That’s—good, yeah. Don’t.” 

Patrick squints at his phone, suspicions piqued. “I can always reschedule with the Sharps if you want me to come over and give you some company,” he says slowly. There’s a pause. 

“Did you miss the whole part where I said I was sick,” Jonny says quickly, managing to inject his voice with an impressive amount of contempt for someone who sounds like they currently have a small family of squirrels living in their nasal cavity. “Can’t risk,”—he lets out a sneeze— “infecting you,” he finishes. “It would be bad for the team.”

Jonny has a point, of course. The narrative of him and Jonny being the center of the Blackhawk’s universe made them both uncomfortable, but it’s true that the team would suffer if they were both out at the same time. 

But still—

“You sure, man?” Patrick asks dubiously. 

Jonny lets out a frustrated huff that turns into a wet cough. “Yes, oh my god, Kaner that’s the whole reason I called,” he says after he recovers. “Anyways, I’m not in the mood for company.”

“Okay, man,” he responds, frowning, his bullshit detector going off. 

Jonny has a great immune system. He rarely gets sick, which probably has something to do with all the wheatgrass smoothies and herbal supplements he takes and shit. But when he does—it’s not pretty. 

Patrick had only been around him once when it happened. They were still road roommates at the time. Jonny got all clingy and demanding, complaining about his restricted lung capacity and refusing to take the right kind of medicine. It was awful . But Patrick has a feeling that if he wasn’t there to keep Jonny company, Jonny would’ve driven himself up the walls completely. 

Patrick thought that maybe Jonny had grown out of that part—it’s been years after all—but now he’s not so sure. 

“Bye, Kaner,” Jonny says, not waiting for Patrick to respond before he hangs up the phone. 

Patrick stares at it for a few moments. 

Whatever. It’s not his business. It’s not. 

Patrick shoves down his unease and throws his phone back down beside him. He unmutes the game—he still has a little time to kill before going over to Sharpy’s. It’s the Rangers versus the Ducks, and the Rangers have a 5-on-3. Patrick focuses his gaze on the screen—they don’t play the Ducks until next month, they won’t see the Rangers until next year, but it’s still a good idea to watch and analyze whenever the chance arises. 

Jonny’s cough sounded pretty bad, like it had gone to his chest. He could probably use an expectorant, but knowing him, he’s stubbornly sticking to his Nyquil, because that’s what his mom gave him when he was growing up. 

Last time, Patrick had to agree to give up aisle seat privileges for a month just to get Jonny to take some goddamn Mucinex (he didn’t point out that he could always just go sit with someone else). And does he even have anything to eat? 

The commentator announces that the Ducks are back to full strength, and Patrick suddenly realizes that he hasn’t processed a single thing that’s happened in the last couple of minutes. He blinks at the screen, willing his brain to focus. 

After a few more minutes, he puts his head in his hands and groans. Jonny had explicitly told him not to go over. And he was right about Patrick potentially getting sick. There’s no reason that Patrick should feel bad about sitting at home alone. But still— he can’t get the image of Jonny’s stupid face moping around his apartment out of his head. He sighs, hating himself for what he’s about to do. 

He picks his phone back up. 

“Hey, Sharpy. I’m sorry, something came up.”

Chapter Text

By the time Patrick lets himself into Jonny’s apartment, his arms are sore from lugging a bunch of bags up from his car. It’s later than Patrick would’ve liked—it had taken a bit of running around town to get everything he needed, and he may have gone a bit overboard, but, well. Better to be safe than sorry. 

He squints—it’s completely dark inside, save for the light coming from the television, where a gaggle of scantily clad men and women are lounging around a villa. Is that—Love Island? 

Patrick snorts. And Jonny gives him shit about Twilight? Patrick walks over, ready to chirp the absolute fuck out of him . Jonny hasn’t noticed him yet—he’s curled up in a little ball on the sofa, silent and stock-still, presumably enraptured by what’s happening on the screen. Yeah, even sick privileges aren't getting him out of this one. 

Patrick’s about a second away from flipping on the light and making a loud announcement about his presence when his fingers still on the switch. 

Jonny’s—

Asleep. Face smooth and unguarded, washed with the pale light filtering from the screen.

His nose is all red, and there’s a disgusting pile of used tissues on the sofa next to him. He’s wearing his old gray UND hoodie, the one with the hole in the left sleeve that he only puts on when he’s feeling particularly pathetic. Oh no. This is worse than Patrick thought. 

Patrick wavers. As much as he wants to watch Jonny go pink and flustered while explaining his awful choice in tv shows, he really could use the sleep, so—the chirping can wait, he decides finally. 

The Blackhawks-themed blanket Patrick’s mom had gotten Jonny for Christmas is pooled around Jonny’s waist, so Patrick puts his bags down for a second and pulls the blanket over Jonny’s shoulder, tucking it under his chin. He picks up the bags and pads to the kitchen, trying to make his footsteps as soft as possible. 

The main kitchen light would probably wake Jonny up—it’s pretty bright—so Patrick turns on his phone’s flashlight and places it on the counter before gently depositing the bags beside it, shaking his arms out in relief once the weight is gone. 

Ok. Time to do this . He spends a few minutes taking out all the supplies he needs, from the chicken and vegetables to Jonny’s large pot that Patrick’s never seen him use. After everything’s spread out in front of him, Patrick feels the nerves creep up, sudden and sharp. He bites his lip. He’s never done something like this before—what was he thinking?

It had seemed like a brilliant idea at the store. He’d gone to pick up meds and stuff, strolling down the soup aisle to look for chicken noodle, because that’s what you fed sick people, right? He’d picked up a few cans and was ready to go on his way when he’d turned the cans over, eyes skimming over the labels. The macros were okay—the team dietician wouldn’t kill him, at least—but there were a ton of words Patrick didn’t recognize, probably preservatives and food stabilizers. Jonny would hate that. 

Okay, well—how hard could it be to just make it himself? Like, it’s just broth, chicken, noodles, and vegetables, right? Before he knew it, he was pulling out his phone and  googling a few recipes, finding one that only took about 30 minutes to make. Okay, Patrick could totally do that. 

Patrick doesn’t know if he can totally do that. He stares hard at the stalk of celery in front of him. He’s not exactly an expert in the kitchen. He pretty much exclusively relies on the food service that most of the guys on the team use. The only times he really even eats home-made food is when Jonny comes over and cooks, so. 

For fuck’s sake, he doesn’t even know how to cut vegetables properly, let alone chicken. He picks up Jonny’s chef’s knife, eyeing it warily. For a second, he considers just throwing in the towel. He could probably just order takeout—it’s Chicago after all, there are bound to be at least a couple restaurants in the area that do a good soup. But he’s already bought all this stuff, and it would kind of a dick move to let it go to waste, and beyond that—

Jonny’s his guy, his captain, his friend. He can be overbearing and annoying and competitive to the point of lunacy, but he’s also the best person Patrick knows, and he’s always been there for him, even when Patrick didn’t necessarily deserve it. So, time to repay the favor, even if it’s just in a little way. Okay, he thinks, here goes nothing

Well, at least he doesn’t burn anything. Not the soup or himself, and he made it through with all his fingers intact, albeit a little sore— damn, he really needs to learn how to hold a knife properly, he thinks, wincing a little as he stretches out his fingers. He leans over the pot, pleased despite himself, curls a little damp and sweaty from the heat. It totally looks like chicken noodle soup, smells like it too. 

He walks back to the living room, stopping in front of Jonny. He’s still asleep, chest rising and falling steadily, mouth slightly parted. Patrick’s hesitates, unsure how to proceed. Should he just say Jonny’s name until he wakes up, or like, kind of shake him awake? 

Maybe it’s just the light from the tv, but Jonny’s skin looks sallow, and his lips are already starting to crack. Patrick frowns, pressing the back of his hand against Jonny’s forehead—Jonny’s skin is gratifyingly cool under his hand, a little clammy, but he doesn’t have a fever. At least Patrick doesn’t think so—he can’t believe he’d forgotten to buy a fucking thermometer. 

Jonny jerks under his skin, and Patrick snatches his hand back. Jonny stirs awake, blinking slowly at first, and then faster. “Patrick?” he rasps out, rubbing a hand against his eyes. Patrick feels his skin heat a bit, fumbling for the light. 

“Hey, bud, yeah it’s me.” Patrick smiles hesitantly, desperately wishing that Jonny had chosen to wake up just thirty seconds earlier, when Patrick’s hands weren't on his skin. Jonny seems like he’s way too out of it to even process that part, though, to be fair. He just kind of—stares at Patrick, like Patrick’s some kind of illusion or something. 

“Kaner you—what are you doing here?” he asks finally. Jonny sounds completely and utterly shocked, and Patrick can feel pinpricks of discomfort breaking across his skin. 

“Just here to make sure you don’t drown yourself in the shower because your body betrayed you by getting sick,” Patrick responds brightly, trying to cover the doubt now settling deep in his core. “And, like, I brought some stuff. I—you’re kind of a mess at taking care of yourself when you’re sick, so.” He shrugs a little lamely. 

“Fuck you, that’s not true,” Jonny counters immediately, but there’s still this look in his eyes, like he  can’t quite believe Patrick’s standing in front of him. He turns his head towards the kitchen, where the light from Patrick’s phone is casting bright light on the walls. “Did you—did you cook something?” he asks, frowning a little. “You don’t cook. You can’t cook.” He turns back towards Patrick. “Patrick, what is this? What’s going on? Aren’t you supposed to be at the Sharps’ right now?”

Patrick snorts, reaching out to gently shove Jonny’s shoulder. “Okay, first of all rude , turns out I can totally cook, thank you very much. And I rescheduled with the Sharps.” 

Jonny still looks so fucking confused, like he can’t understand why Patrick would possibly be standing here right now, and Patrick feels a little indignation burn through him, and underneath it all, a slow, throbbing ache. Is it so hard to understand why Patrick is here?

“Look, Jon, I just didn’t want you to be alone, okay?” he says honestly, wanting to erase that look of uncertainty on Jonny’s face. “Now do you want some soup or what? Actually, you don’t get a choice in that matter,” he adds after some thought. “I almost sliced my goddamn finger off, so you’re eating the fucking soup.” 

Patrick doesn't give Jonny a chance to respond, pulling him up by the hand and leading him to the kitchen table. Patrick goes over to the stove, carefully ladling the soup out into a bowl before fishing through the drawers for Jonny’s special soup spoons. 

By the time he gets back to the table, Jonny looks marginally awake and a lot more sniffly. He sets the soup down in front of Jonny, quickly jogging back to fetch a fresh box of tissues from one of his bags. 

“Here,” he says, tossing the box of tissues at Jonny. 

“Thanks,” Jonny says, but his eyes are on the bowl of soup in front of him. He picks up his spoon. “You really made this?” He looks up at Patrick.

Patrick shifts. “Uh, yeah, man.”

Jonny scoops up some soup, blowing on it before taking a sip.  “That’s—Wow, that’s actually really good,” he says after swallowing. 

“Well don’t sound so surprised,” Patrick says, scowling. “I’m not completely incompetent.”

Jonny laughs a little, letting out a small cough at the end. “No, that’s not—I just meant it looks like I don’t need to be the only one doing the cooking anymore, eh?” He smiles. “This is really nice, man. Thank you.” 

They talk about the upcoming games as they eat, with Jonny letting out intermittent sneezes and coughs. The second Jonny finishes his soup, Patrick pulls a box out and shoves it towards him. 

"Take this now. I don’t want to hear a single argument, okay?”

Jonny blinks down at the Mucinex, lips twisting down into a pout. "I already took Nyquil, I’m fine,” he says, letting out another loud cough.

Patrick rolls his eyes. “You know, for a guy that’s so concerned about health, you are the absolute worst about medicine. I know you know what an expectorant is, Tazer. Just take the goddamn Mucinex, okay? It’ll make you feel better.” 

Patrick stares evenly at him until Jonny finally looks away. “Fine, mom, I’ll take it, Jesus.” There’s a pause. “Okay , I’ll do it right now.” Bingo. Patrick knew he made the right call getting the liquid version—if he’d gotten the pill, he would probably have to negotiate a lot more.  Jonny’s movements are exaggerated as he opens up the bottle and pours out the medicine into the cap, swallowing it with a pinched face. “That was fucking disgusting.”

Patrick grins. Big baby. “Well, here’s a reward for being a very good boy,” he says obnoxiously, pulling out the orange and setting it next to Jonny’s bowl. 

A few years ago, Jonny had stumbled onto this subreddit called r/showerorange where people posted about—yeah, eating oranges in the shower. Apparently it was some magical fucking experience. Patrick thought it was all pretty fucking looney tunes, but Jonny got curious and tried it, and, much to Patrick’s chagrin, fell in love with it. 

Patrick and Jonny were still rooming together on the road at that point, and Jonny would leave his stupid orange peels in the shower and the scent of citrus would permeate the air, making Patrick feel completely nauseous and fed up. He instituted an orange ban, and Jonny gave the habit up. 

“Is that—”

“Yup,” Patrick smirks. “One-time thing only, please don’t make it a habit again, I swear to god. But, you know, you could probably use the Vitamin C or whatever.”  

Jonny gives him a dorky little wave and a grin as he goes off to shower, clutching the orange in his right hand. What a freak, Patrick thinks, ducking down to hide a smile. Patrick uses the time to do a bit of straightening up, washing the dishes and throwing away food scraps before tackling the piles of used tissues on the couch. “The things I do for you, Jonny,” he mutters, gingerly picking up the tissues and throwing them away with a shudder. 

By the time Jonny comes out, Patrick’s pretty much done, just having folded the blanket into a neat little square onto one of the couch cushions. He looks up. Jonny looks way better, cheeks a little flushed from the steam of the shower. His hair is damp, curling up at his nape. “Don’t you think maybe you should blow dry that?” Patrick points out. “You could make your cold worse.”

Jonny walks over and ruffles Patrick’s hair, fingers threading through his curls. He gives a little yank at the end, and Patrick feels his stomach jump. “Not all of us have an entire goddamn lion’s mane on our heads, Peeks, this’ll dry in about five minutes flat.” He looks around. “Jesus, Pat, what happened here? You didn’t have to do all this.”

“I did it for me, not for you. The couch was a complete health hazard. No way I was gonna sit my ass anywhere near those tissues.”

Jonny’s eyes go a little wide. “Oh, you’re staying?”

“I—I mean I don’t have to, if you don’t want me to,” Patrick stumbles out. Of course Jonny didn’t want him to stay—it was late, and Jonny’s sick. He’s probably completely exhausted, so. “I’ll go, sorry man.” He turns to leave.

Jonny’s hand catches his wrist. “You didn’t even let me finish,” he says, tone amused. “I didn’t think you would want to stay because, well, I know I can be kind of a pain in the ass when I’m sick, and you’ve already done so much.” Oh. “But if you wanted to stick around, we can watch some TV or something?”  

Patrick turns around. “You mean Love Island ?” he asks innocently. 

Jonny groans, putting his head in his hands. “Shut up , we’re not talking about this.”

Patrick cackles. “Oh, we definitely are. Love Island, Jonny, really?”

“Okay, you have absolutely no room to judge me Mr. Twilight. Plus, it was Jackie’s suggestion, so if you’re going to insult me, you’re insulting your sister too.” Which—

“You’re playing dirty, Toews,” Patrick says, thrusting a finger at Jonny’s face. Jonny catches the finger, wrapping around it with his big, warm hand and lowering it.

“I play to win, baby,” Jonny smirks, rubbing his thumb along the side, making something hot shoot down Patrick’s spine. “You wanna sit?”

They make their way to the couch, settling in next to each other. “You gonna be a hog, or are you gonna share that blanket?” Patrick gestures to the folded square. Jonny wrinkles his nose.

“Pat, my germs are all over that thing. It’s bad enough you’re sitting on this couch. I’m not getting you sick.”

Patrick reaches over Jonny to grab the blanket, spreading it over both their laps, ignoring Jonny’s protests. “I’ve been picking up your dirty tissues, Cap, if I’m going to get sick, I’ve already been infected, trust me.”

Patrick grabs the remote. “Now are we going to watch some Love Island, or what?”

Jonny smiles at him, eyes crinkling up at the corners. “I don’t know, Peeks, I don’t think you deserve to watch Love Island after shitting on it. I have a recording of our last game, though, maybe I should put that on.”

Patrick holds the remote against his chest protectively as  Jonny laughs. “Fuck you, Tazer, if you think I’m gonna sit here and listen to you criticize my two-way play right now you’re out of your goddamn mind.” He points the remote at Jonny threateningly. “You are way too chipper for a sick person.”

Jonny knocks his knees against Patrick’s. “What can I say? Blame the guy who came along and made me feel better. Looks like he made things difficult for you.”

Patrick grins. “He’s the fucking worst, huh?” 

Jonny looks at him, silence stretching on for a beat too long. His hair is almost completely dry, going soft and fluffy. “Nah,” Jonny says finally. “He’s pretty great, actually.” He coughs. “God, do you really want to watch Love Island right now? I’m on, like, episode 7.”

“Doesn’t matter, just play it, I'll get the gist. ”

“I’m not just going to just play it, Kaner, what the fuck? A ton of stuff has happened."

Patrick shrugs."It's not a fucking Kubrick film, I'm really not that concerned, just turn it on." 

"Patrick, no I—let's just start at the beginning." 

"Jonny. You're not rewatching 7 episodes of Love Island, you're literally not allowed. Like, no." 

Jonny opens and closes his mouth a few times, looking completely outraged. "Ok fine, but you're going to let me give you a summary of what's happened so far, and you are going to pay attention, got it?" 

Jonny launches into a spiel about some people called Tommy and Molly Mae and Anna? Amber?

Yeah, Patrick thinks, watching Jonny wave his hands animatedly, pulling his laptop out to show Patrick pictures of the people he's talking about. There are worse ways to spend his night. 

Chapter Text

"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.”

Shit. 

Shit.

“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.

“Please.” 

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. 

They score. 

Patrick meets Jonny’s eyes. 

No matter what happens between them, at least Patrick always knows what Jonny’s thinking on the ice. 






Chapter Text

“Okay, spill,” Sharpy says, letting his fork clatter against his plate as he crosses his arms, schooling his features into what Patrick assumes is an attempt at a serious look. 

“Huh?” Patrick unintelligibly, mouth stuffed with lettuce. 

Sharpy sighs. “What’s going on with you and the Cap?”

Shit. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Patrick sniffs, swallowing and patting his napkin against his lips demurely. 

Sharpy snorts. “Like hell you don’t—since when has Jonny declined a lunch invite when you’re included in the package? You guys eat after practice every damn day. So don’t give me that shit,” he finishes, pointing a threatening finger in Patrick’s direction. 

“Maybe he was busy,” Patrick tries weakly, busying himself with taking a sip of water so he can avoid Sharpy’s calculating gaze.

"Also, you’ve said a grand total of like, five words this entire time. And you look like someone kicked your puppy. Frankly, it’s bumming me out,” Sharpy says. “So spill.”

Sometimes Sharpy is too observant for his own good. “Ugh, fine, asshole, we may or may not have gotten into a fight. Well,” Patrick amends. “Not a fight, exactly. I said something stupid and now Jonny’s mad at me.” 

Patrick feels—completely fucking off balance. It’s been years since anything has happened between him and Jonny that actually made things weird between them. They still get in the occasional spat, of course, but it’s usually about something small and stupid, like Patrick’s stubborn refusal to try Jonny’s appallingly sad takeout choices, or Jonny’s headphones leaking sound during flights while Patrick is trying to nap—nothing that can’t be solved with a mumbled apology and a cold beer, and certainly nothing that lasts for more than a day. 

“What the hell did you do, insult his mother?" Sharpy says incredulously. "I can’t imagine what you could possibly say that would make Jonny so upset that he would voluntarily give up spending time with you.”

Patrick rolls his eyes. “Oh my god, shut up—you make it sound like we’re usually attached at the hip.” Sharpy gives him a pointed look. Patrick goes pink. “Whatever, we live near each other, we’re on the same team—it’s bound to happen,” he says defensively. 

“Why don’t you use your mind-reading abilities to figure out how to win him over again?” Sharpy smirks, batting his eyelashes. Patrick balls up his napkin and throws it in Sharpy’s direction. 

“How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t have magical Jonny powers, because if I did? I’d know how to fix this. And I really, really don’t.” Patrick stares down at his plate. 

It wasn’t like he and Jonny didn’t get on each other’s nerves. Patrick knows for a fact he annoys the fuck out of Jonny sometimes—but that’s mostly because they spend so much damn time together. But this time—it was different. Patrick had seen genuine tension in Jonny’s body, the tight set of his jaw. He’d been running over the whole exchange in his mind on repeat, trying to pinpoint where it all went wrong. Obviously, he fucked up at the end. But despite the near-doctorate he holds in The Mysterious Inner Workings of Jonathan Toews, Patrick still can’t tell why Jonny was so upset in the first place. 

Sharpy gives him a thoughtful look. “This is actually getting to you, isn't it?” 

Patrick sighs. “Yeah,” he says simply. Practice had been—uncomfortable. Jonny didn't give him the silent treatment or anything, because they were adults and professionals, thank you very much. But there were no more friendly arms slung across shoulders, no more playful checking into the boards, no more sneaky sticks stealing each other’s pucks away. Patrick hadn’t realized just how much they touched each other until it all just—stopped. 

All of a sudden, Sharpy starts snickering. “Man, you’re in hot water, huh? Reminds me of the time I forgot mine and Abby’s anniversary—you better buy a shit ton of chocolate and flowers and prepare to grovel, bud.”

Patrick shoots him a withering look. “Jonny’s not my fucking wife, moron.”

“Could’ve fooled me,” Sharpy mutters under his breath. Patrick’s glare intensifies. Sharpy reaches over the table to pat Patrick’s arm. “Cheer up Peekaboo—I’m sure you guys will be back to your disgustingly co-dependent ways in no time.” Patrick isn’t so sure. It’s all so stupid, and Patrick can’t stop thinking about it. 

It even starts fucking with Patrick’s post-practice Breaking Bad session, which is just the icing on the proverbial cake. When the credits start rolling, Patrick realizes he can’t recall anything about the episode beyond the fact that there was a fly buzzing around the giant meth lab that was probably supposed to be some kind of profound metaphor, which he would’ve had a dubious grasp on even on the best of days. He groans and shuts the TV off, slumping back into his couch. Fucking Jonny, he thinks as he leans his head back, balancing the remote on his forehead. 

What the fuck is he supposed to do? A huge part of him wants to just drive over to Jonny’s apartment and apologize, but based on how closed-off Jonny was during practice, it wouldn’t go over well. Besides, what is he even supposed to say? Sorry I said you weren’t complicated? Followed by an embarrassing analogy about favorite sweaters that Patrick would rather die than vocalize? 

His phone buzzes. Thank fuck—something to distract him. He fishes it out of his pocket and glances at the screen—and then immediately groans. 

This is a friendly reminderChristmas party tomorrow, which means Secret Santa. I know not all of you bought your gifts (don’t ask me how, I just know), so today is the perfect day to do it! 

-Love,

Abby 

He had gotten Jonny for Secret Santa, because of course he did. It was both a blessing and a curse—he knew Jonny so well that it should’ve been easy to come up with a gift idea, but then again he knew Jonny so well so the pressure to come up with an amazing gift was pretty damn high. He had thought about it for weeks, scouring various online fishing and gardening stores, even venturing 43 pages deep into a website called Etsy—thanks, but no thanks Jackie. Here’s the thing though—it was hard to come up with an awesome gift for a multi-millionaire athlete because they could just buy themselves anything they wanted. But hell if Jonny was going to open a subpar gift from Patrick in front of all their teammates—hell fucking no. 

The solution came to him, of all places, on a bulletin by his local community garden. He’d been walking briskly towards his apartment, hands shoved deep in his pockets to protect against the sharp chill of the wind when the fluttering flyer had caught his eye. Our Lady Peace was doing a Christmas concert in Chicago—the very same Our Lady Peace that teenage Jonathan Toews had proclaimed his love for in various articles, giving Patrick prime chirping material for years . Jonny always scowled and went red and said that “that was over a decade ago, Kaner, let it go.” Whatever. Jonny could try to be cool and listen to all the Portugal. The Man and Passion Pit he wanted—Patrick still saw what his Spotify end of the year wrap-up looked like. 

Patrick looks at the massive The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide book lying on this coffee table that Jonny had gotten him as a gag gift one year, thinking about the two concert tickets tucked between the first few pages. He’d hidden them as soon as he got his hands on them—Jonny was over way too often and had no sense of boundaries, so Patrick was too paranoid to stuff them in a drawer or something. He had been pretty proud of the gift, to be honest. But now, he would feel kind of like a dickhead watching Jonny open joint concert tickets and have to pretend to be excited when in reality Jonny was probably too upset to even go with him. 

Patrick reaches up to grab the remote and taps it a few times on his forehead—he needs to recalibrate, come up with a new game plan. He feels like he’s run the gamut of “shit Jonny would like,” but he mentally goes through the list anyway. He needs a different kind of gift, something that says—

Something that says sorry. 

He groans. Holy fuck, this is ridiculous—it’s not like Jonny’s his fucking girlfriend. For a wild second, Sharpy’s mocking suggestion about buying chocolates and flowers flits through his mind. He imagines showing up at Jonny’s door with a bouquet of roses and feels the urge to giggle hysterically rise up inside. Although—

Jonny did like flowers. Any sort of plant really. A memory tugs at his mind from when Jonny first moved into his apartment. Patrick had come over, and Jonny opened the door beaming, holding a potted bamboo plant. He had claimed it was for “good luck” and then babbled on about something called “the language of flowers” while Patrick stared on in bemusement. Patrick had actually secretly found it kind of endearing, watching Jonny carefully explain the origins of how plants and flowers came to be associated with various meanings, so he compensated for his mind’s mortifying taste in cuteness by making fun of Jonny until he went pink in the face. 

Patrick tilts his head to the side and lets the remote bounce onto the couch cushion and grabs his laptop. He googles “plant symbolism” and scrolls through a few sites, getting lost in the links and lore. This is—pretty cool, actually. He peers at a red flower that actually looks like a leaf—anthurium. He’s seen it in Jonny’s apartment before, he realizes with a jolt—it symbolizes happiness, abundance, and hospitality. He smiles helplessly. Figures. 

It’s not until he gets to yellow roses that he pauses. They symbolize lots of things—among them, friendship and apology. That’s—interesting. He considers it for a second, but then he imagines Jonny opening up roses in front of the guys and promptly wants to jump off a cliff. He would never hear the end of that. Plus, it does little to help Patrick’s cause. “You’re my friend, and I’m sorry”— Jonny knows that. It doesn’t actually address any of the ways in which Patrick hurt him. Patrick keeps clicking and scrolling. He’s about to give up when—

Bluebells. Gratitude, Humility, Constancy. 

Constancy. 

For some reason, his heartbeat starts to quicken. Patrick isn’t good with his words—doesn’t know how to explain to Jonny exactly what he means to Patrick. But this—this comes pretty damn close.

Constancy. 

Jonny’s been in his life for a long time now. And Patrick can’t imagine that changing, well—ever. The reason Jonny’s not complicated to him is that he’s had the time to get to know Jonny to his core—wants to always know Jonny to his core. His stupid comment, the goddamn sweater analogy—this is what it boils down to: to Patrick, Jonny is a ‘forever’ kind of person. And maybe these stupid flowers will be able to communicate that better than Patrick ever can.

Patrick scrolls down a little and feels himself blush. Oh. So apparently bluebells also mean everlasting love. He stares at the words on the screen for a minute, flushing hot and cold. Ok, maybe this is a stupid idea. Yeah, it’s a stupid idea. Our Lady Peace tickets are an objectively solid gift. Jonny’s too good of a person to let things get awkward in front of all their teammates—he’d laugh and smile and thank Patrick, even if he was still upset. So it’s fine, really. It’s fine. But—

Patrick sees Jonny’s face crumpling flash through his mind, and he can’t breathe. Bluebells. Gratitude, Humility, Constancy. It just feels right. 

Maybe they can just ignore the whole everlasting love part. 

Chapter Text

Patrick stands in front of the Sharps’ door feeling like he’s going to throw up and then feeling annoyed that he feels like he’s going to throw up—this is Secret Santa, not Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.  

It’s generally a pretty low-key affair, just a quick way to celebrate with the team before the break—and have a good laugh at some of the stupid presents people get. (Although Abby, who organized it this year, instituted a rule that said if you were going to do a gag gift, you had to buy an actual nice gift too). 

But then again, playoff games don’t involve trying to make amends with grumpy Canadian captains, so maybe Patrick’s stomach is justified in being a little queasy. Plus now that he’s less than an hour from executing his plan, he can’t help but feel like maybe this isn’t quite the brilliant idea he initially thought it was.     

His fingers feel like they’re about five seconds away from freezing solid and falling off—he’d learnt years ago that going outside in Chicago during December without proper winter wear was asking for trouble, but visions of the present slipping out of his gloved hands and smashing to pieces on the floor made him paranoid enough to ditch the gloves so he could get a better grip.

He had to wrap it himself—there had been a long, awkward pause on the line with the nursery when Patrick had asked if they offered gift wrapping. Patrick resisted the urge to smother himself with his lone decorative throw pillow (a relic from an ex-girlfriend who had attempted and failed to spruce up his apartment). Of course they didn’t offer gift wrapping, who the fuck gift wrapped plants? Well, except for him, he supposes.

It had been a hard fought battle involving a flurry of wrapping paper and scissors and tape, but Patrick finally managed to cover the plant, paper wrapped tight around the pot and looser at the top so as not to crush the flowers. The result was a very lumpy, very ugly package.

Patrick takes a deep breath and releases it, air fogging up in front of him as he jabs the doorbell with his elbow. The door swings open a few seconds later, and Patrick rocks back on his heels, leaning away so it doesn’t hit him in the face. 

“Peeks!” Sharpy greets him, blindly pulling Patrick in for a hug, forcing him to quickly set down his pathetically wrapped gift on the door mat so it doesn’t get crushed during the onslaught of Sharpy’s affection. It’s only when Sharpy pulls back and Patrick leans down to scoop up his present that Sharpy processes its existence, eyes going wide and brows creeping up towards his hairline. 

“What the fuck is that?” Sharpy says, eyeing the misshapen package in Patrick’s arms with a mixture of amusement and horror. 

“It’s my Secret Santa gift,” Patrick says loftily, keeping his chin held high. 

Sharpy snickers. “It looks like it was wrapped by Maddy. No, Sadie,” he corrects. “Actually, you know what? I’m not going to insult my daughters like that.”

Patrick scowls. “Whatever, asshole,” he says, lightly kicking Sharpy in the shin as he lets out an indignant squawk. “Please let me in before I turn into a fucking popsicle.” 

Sharpy’s eyes light up. “A peeks-icle, I think you mean,” he says with relish, clearly mentally patting himself on the back for his perceived masterful stroke of wit. “How sweet.” He smirks, but he finally stands back so Patrick can squeeze inside. 

It looks like something straight out of a Christmas-themed issue of an interior decorating magazine. Every square inch of the house is plastered in tasteful yet festive decor, glittering garlands draped elegantly on the walls and dainty fairy lights twinkling prettily all over the place. The tree is a thing of beauty—massive and covered in colorful baubles and ornaments. 

Each Hawks player has their own ornament, which is pretty awesome. He finds his chilling right next to Jonny’s—Sharpy’s handiwork, no doubt. Patrick looks amazing in his picture—duh—but Sharpy chose an old picture of Jonny from before he learned how to pose for the camera. 

He’s smiling awkwardly and his eyes are so blank they make him look dead inside—he’d probably been counting down the seconds until the photoshoot ended. Patrick snorts. It’s kind of hilarious (and kind of adorable, if he’s being honest). It also makes him weirdly sad, because oh yeah Jonny’s not talking to him, so the whole Patrick-and-Jonny ornament duo is false advertising at the moment. But he’s going to fix that. Hopefully.  

Of course, the success of Operation Tazer hinges on the poorly wrapped package in his hands, so he deposits it underneath the tree with the rest of the presents before those visions of it shattering into a million tiny pieces come to life. He takes a quick look around to make sure no one’s watching before peeling the sticker with Jonny’s name on it off the sticker name sheet Abby had left out by the tree and slapping it on. Well, that’s that, he supposes. 

Patrick parks himself on the couch with Duncs and Seabs after hanging his coat up, taking a moment to carefully scan the area. About half the guys are already there, milling around the living room and kitchen with beers in their hands, but Jonny’s nowhere to be seen. Oh cool, the whole I’m-gonna-throw-up-my-lunch sensation is back—what if Jonny doesn’t show up? He’s not late by normal standards, but he usually shows up at least fifteen minutes early to everything, whether it be practice or a meal out. 

Patrick wouldn’t say he’s freaking out , because that would be stupid—but, like, Operation Tazer kind of requires the presence of, well, Tazer. Thankfully, Patrick hears a familiar, deep voice carry over from the entrance. He swivels on the couch, trying to subtly crane his neck towards the door. Jonny’s stepping inside, shrugging off his thick coat. 

There’s a beanie shoved onto his head and his cheeks are all pink from the cold. Patrick watches Jonny take the beanie off and card his long fingers through his hair a few times, crooked smile lighting up his face as he talks to Sharpy. 

Patrick can actually feel his heart rate physically speed up. Jesus Christ. He forces himself to turn around and try to calm the fuck down, because he’s an adult—even though his body’s reacting like a teenage girl who just saw her crush walk in, and that’s just—

Ugh, whatever, nerves are weird. It’s just Jonny. “Kaner?” Patrick startles, snapping his head to the side. Seabs and Duncs are looking at him with matching odd expressions. “You good, bud?” Seabs asks. Patrick realizes he’s kind of scowling down at the carpet.

My stupid brain and body are teaming up to sabotage me by flipping out over this thing with Jonny even though it’s stupid and he’s stupid because yeah I said something dumb but we’re best friends and I care about him so much and he can’t fucking see that because he’s stupid and I don’t even know why he’s mad but I bought a fucking plant to try and fix things and WHO DOES THAT and I’m so fucking annoyed at him but mostly I just want this to be over because yeah it’s only been a few days and it’s stupid but I miss him. 

Woah, buddy—talk about psycho babble he’s taking to the grave. “Yeah,” Patrick says, trying to put on his brightest grin. “I’m great!” He lets them rope him into a spirited debate about if Elf or Bad Santa is the superior Christmas movie. He tries to participate fully—he actually does have strong opinions on the matter—but he keeps getting distracted by the annoyingly large part of his brain that’s hyper-aware of Jonny’s presence. 

Jonny just looks so—warm. Happy. Chatting easily with Shawzy in the corner while a bottle of beer dangles loosely from his fingers. It’s not like Patrick wants Jonny to be miserable or anything—just the opposite. But looking at Jonny’s relaxed features while Patrick’s all twisted up inside makes him feel unexpectedly hurt, like Jonny doesn’t care at all that they’re not talking when it’s all Patrick can think about. 

Patrick excuses himself to go to the bathroom so he can splash some cold water on his face and give himself a pep talk (which is objectively pathetic, but the finger guns legitimately make him feel better). Of course, because the universe hates him, he has to run into Jonny on his way out. Patrick’s not paying attention, looking down at the floor as he exits, and then he feels his shoulder ram against something solid. 

“Shit, sorr—” he says, looking up and then freezing. Jonny’s staring at him, dropping his eyes the second Patrick’s gaze connects with his. 

“It’s okay,” Jonny says, and his voice is so measured and polite it makes Patrick want to scream. 

“Right,” Patrick says, searching for something else to say. But Jonny doesn’t seem particularly interested in making conversation, hands shoved in the pockets of his slacks and eyes on the floor, occasionally flicking to the bathroom door, like he’s counting down the seconds until Patrick gets out of his way. Well, Patrick guesses that answers the question of whether Jonny’s still mad at him or not. 

Now he feels extra stupid about the Our Lady Peace tickets stuffed in his pockets—he’d naively brought them along in hopes that things would go well with his Secret Santa gift and then he could give them to Jonny like he originally planned. “Well, I’m gonna—” Patrick says, jabbing a thumb towards the living room. “Right. Bye.” 

He escapes past Jonny, fighting the urge to grab his present from under the tree and make a dash for the door. He forces himself to go sit down on the couch instead, because while fleeing from Secret Santa sounds tempting in the moment, it’s a surefire way to get himself booked for an appointment with a pesky Assistant Captain who’ll no doubt ask him too many questions he doesn’t want to answer. 

By the time they all gather by the tree to start, Patrick’s not in any kind of headspace to be keeping up conversations, so he stakes his claim on a solitary spot on the fringes of the clumsy circle the team makes around the tree. Abby had left them a bucket with slips of paper with everyone’s names. Sharpy, of course, declares himself to be the host of Secret Santa and starts doing dramatic drawings of people’s names from the bucket. 

Patrick barely registers anything as the first few people open their presents and start guessing which one of their teammates gave them to them. He cracks a small smile as Sharpy fawns exaggeratedly over the bottle of ridiculously expensive French conditioner Shawzy got him (which impressively straddles the line between being a gag gift and a nice gift, because Sharpy is totally going to use it) while everyone else laughs. But then he goes right back to staring at his shittily wrapped present, still hidden in the back but getting increasingly more visible as the presents in front of it start to thin out. 

“Tazer!” Sharpy crows, “You’re up, bud.” He slaps a hand onto Jonny’s back as Jonny makes his way to the tree amidst sarcastic cheers and hollers from their teammates. Jonny’s grinning as he crouches down, starting to look through the packages for the one with his name on it. 

Patrick feels sick, mind spinning out of control. Holy fuck, he got Jonny a plant. A plant. He hurt Jonny so badly that Jonny doesn’t even want to talk to him, and his solution was to get him a fucking. Plant. God, why the fuck does he have the stupidest ideas? Duncs had gotten Shawzy a set of personalized golf balls. Seabs had gotten Duncs a silk tie. Patrick’s gift by comparison cost next to nothing—Jonny’s probably going to think Patrick doesn’t give a shit. 

Jonny’s eyes finally land on his gift, grin fading to a perplexed frown as he retrieves the package from under the tree. He cradles it carefully in his hands and gets up, meeting an explosion of jeers the second he turns around. 

“Who let their kid wrap their gift?”

“What the fuck is that?”

Jonny isn’t saying a thing, just eyeing the package with an unreadable look on his face, rotating it slightly in his hands. 

“Open it!” Seabs calls out, prompting a group chant. Patrick realizes his hands are shaking, so he clenches them into fists, nails digging into his palms. 

Jonny complies, neatly unwrapping the present with far more care than the shoddy wrapping-job deserves. He meticulously peels back every piece of tape at the seams, ignoring all the groans of his teammates telling him to hurry the fuck up. Patrick can’t help but agree—he wishes Jonny would just tear into the paper and get it over with, but he just keeps pulling it apart little by little until the last of the paper falls away. 

The room is silent for a moment, staring at the potted bluebells in Jonny’s hands with confusion. 

“Flowers?” Shawzy asks finally, squinting hard. 

“No, they’re golf clubs,” Saader says sarcastically. “Obviously they’re flowers, moron.” That seems to break the tension in the room, everyone erupting into a lively discussion about why the fuck someone got Jonny flowers. 

“Can you use them, as like, a garnish?” pipes up from the back before someone else informs them that they’re an idiot. 

Jonny’s still silent, staring down at the flowers with the full force of his intense dark eyes. Patrick feels like he can’t breathe—he wants to look away so, so badly, but at the same time his eyes feel like they’re super-glued to Jonny’s face because he can’t. Jonny’s brows are furrowed, lips turned down slightly at the corners—it’s what he looks like when he’s figuring out a play. 

“What’s your guess, Taze?” Sharpy asks, coming up to swing an arm around Jonny’s shoulders. “Who do you think is your Secret Santa?” 

Jonny finally wrenches his gaze up from the flowers. His thumb comes up to carefully stroke at a petal. It’s such an obscure reference. A tiny moment in their friendship of no particular significance. There’s no way Jonny’s going to put it together—he probably doesn’t even fucking remember. Patrick doesn’t know why he remembers or why he thought Jonny would get it. This is going to be so fucking awk—

Jonny’s eyes land on his. For the first time in days, they don’t look away. “Patrick,” Jonny says, voice a little hoarse. He clears it. “Patrick’s my Secret Santa.” Everyone turns their heads towards Patrick. 

“Yeah,” Patrick says, own voice coming out quiet, mind reeling from the way Jonny’s looking at him, eyes scanning carefully over his face. 

“Why the flowers, Kaner?” Saader asks curiously, and Patrick freezes, mind going blank. He’d been so focused on Jonny’s reaction to the gift that he hadn’t spared a single thought for how everyone else would react. How the hell was he supposed to explain this? 

“It’s Kaner’s Jonny mind-reading powers,” Sharpy says like Saader’s stupid for even asking, coming to Patrick’s rescue. “He got them because he knew that’s what Jonny wanted, isn’t that right?” Patrick opens his mouth to respond, but nothing comes out. 

“That’s right.” Patrick closes his mouth, eyes going wide in surprise, because that was Jonny who spoke. Jonny, who hated the whole mind-reading gag. There’s a small smile on Jonny’s face, and Patrick’s heartbeat quickens in his chest. 

Saader nods like everything suddenly makes sense. “Of course, how could I forget?” he says. “Flowers, huh? Would’ve never guessed that would make the cut on Tazer’s Christmas wish list. Shit Kaner, don’t mind if I consult you next year, eh?”

And with that, everyone moves on, and Patrick takes a second to step back and marvel at the utter ridiculousness of his life that his teammates seem to accept “mind-reading” as a legitimate reason for why he got Jonny flowers as a gift. 

If Patrick thought he was unfocused before, it’s nothing compared to how he feels now. Every part of him is itching for this whole thing to be over so he can talk to Jonny. He accepts his own gift from Crow—an autographed Tom Petty record—with grace before completely tuning out, shamelessly checking his phone for the time. Patrick can’t help but sneak a few glances at Jonny. Sometimes Jonny looks back, and Patrick quickly averts his eyes the second their gazes connect. 

Secret Santa finally ends, some people lingering inside to hang out for a while longer while others carry their gifts out to their cars and get ready to go home. Patrick loses sight of Jonny as people disperse. He grabs his coat from the rack and buttons up, shoving his toque back on his head, looking around all the while. Shit, he hopes Jonny didn’t go home—

Patrick feels a warm hand on his shoulder. He turns around, startled. It’s Jonny, bundled up in his winter coat with his other arm wrapped around the bluebells so the pot is tucked snugly against his side. Patrick’s nerves return full force. “Can we talk outside?” Jonny asks hesitantly, and it’s so good to hear Jonny talking to him that for a second, a rush of joy overtakes Patrick’s anxiety. 

“Yeah, of course,” he says, throat dry. They say goodbye to everyone and walk outside together, the air growing silent except for the sound of their shoes crunching across the gravel as they get further from the Sharps’ house. 

It’s Jonny who finally stops, slowly spinning towards Patrick. He sways a bit, switching the bluebells from one arm to the other. “Plant symbolism?” he asks finally, looking up at Patrick through his dark lashes. 

“Yeah,” Patrick says shyly. “I didn’t know if you would remember—it was a long time ago, so.” He stops, mentally hitting himself. He finally has the chance to make things right with Jonny, but all of a sudden he feels like he has the vocabulary of a five-year-old. 

“I remember,” Jonny says softly. Silence falls between them, and Patrick panics. 

“I’m so fucking sorry Jonny,” he says in a rush, words tripping out of his mouth. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. Everything that day came out all wrong. I was just trying to—”

And then Jonny’s setting the bluebells down on the ground and hugging him, arms wrapped so tightly around Patrick he can barely breathe. Patrick lets the shock course through his system before hugging back, burying his head in Jonny’s chest. 

“I’ve been a dick,” Jonny says into the side of Patrick’s neck. He finally pulls back and Patrick tries not to mourn the loss. “I’m sorry.” His eyes are all dark and wide and dumb and sincere and Patrick searches for a hint of annoyance or frustration inside him, but all he feels is pure relief flooding through his veins. 

“It’s okay,” he says, knowing he’s probably beaming like an idiot. “I mean, I could’ve done without the silent treatment, but, like, I said something really stupid, so,” he shrugs.

It’s too dark to tell for sure, but Patrick swears Jonny goes a little pink. He ducks down to pick up the pot again and clears his throat. “Uh, I shouldn’t have done that,” he mumbles, scratching at the side of his neck. “I—” he starts, dropping his head on a sigh. “I was being dumb and projecting about some other stuff, and I kind of put it all together in my head when I shouldn’t have,” he says, shrugging. “I know it’s a shitty excuse.”  

Patrick blinks. He’s kind of surprised at first, but actually—it explains a lot. He’d been super fucking confused as to why Jonny’d gotten so upset, so it makes sense that there had been other factors at play besides Patrick’s own blunder. But what were they? “You wanna talk about it?” he asks, watching Jonny’s face. 

Jonny shakes his head. “Nah, I think I worked it out,” he says, voice steady and meeting Patrick’s eyes with this weirdly intense gaze. Patrick swallows. He’s still kind of curious—he feels like there’s something Jonny’s not telling him. And he’s not used to not knowing stuff about Jonny—it feels wrong. But Jonny’s finally talking to him again, and he doesn’t want to mess things up again, so he decides he should probably let this one go. 

“Okay,” Patrick says easily. “Always knew your big ole’ overthinking brain would get you into trouble one day.” Jonny rolls his eyes, but he’s smiling. “Lucky for you, I’m well-versed in the mechanics of your emotional constipation, so I’ll give you a pass,” Patrick finishes and then freezes. Uh. He’s not sure if it’s too early to be cracking jokes about how well he knows Jonny. 

But Jonny scoots closer and gives him a little nudge with his elbow. “Yeah you are,” he says softly, and—

Patrick gets this weird swoopy feeling in his chest, and he can feel himself blushing, what the fuck. Clearly, his body is having some sort of hormonal malfunction. “Uh,” he says dumbly, stalling for something to say. Oh wait—

He fishes around in his pocket, fingers closing around the stubs. “Here,” he says, thrusting the Our Lady Peace tickets into Jonny’s free hand. Jonny blinks for a second and then brings the tickets up to his face to squint at them. “Our Lady Peace tickets?” he says in a strange voice, lowering them and looking back at Patrick. 

“They were your original Secret Santa gift,” Patrick explains, suddenly self-conscious. “But I didn’t think you’d wanna go, with us not talking and everything.” And then something hits him. The whole reason he got Jonny a new Secret Santa gift is because it would’ve been awkward as fuck to hand Jonny joint concert tickets—except they’re not joint concert tickets. 

They don’t have “Patrick Kane” and “Jonathan Toews” printed on them—he’d just, like, assumed they’d go together, which is shitty and stupid. “I mean, not that you have to go with me, obviously,” Patrick says quickly. “They’re your tickets, you can go with whoever you want—like, Sharpy,” he continues and oh my god he’s totally fucking babbling but he can’t stop himself. “He’s Canadian and probably has the same dumb taste in music—and Our Lady Peace is a Canadian band, so, like, he’d probably really enjoy himself. Not that the point is to make Sharpy happy!” Patrick says hastily, “Like you don’t have to take Sharpy, he was just an example, like you could take—mmph!”

Jonny’s hand is slapped over his mouth, and he’s looking down at Patrick with a crinkly-eyed smile. “I don’t want to go with Sharpy,” Jonny says, clearly holding back a laugh. “But I do want to go with you—unless you’d rather go through the entire Hawks roster and tell me why I should take them instead.”

Jonny takes his hand off Patrick’s mouth. “Uh, no, that’s okay—I’ll go,” Patrick says, trying to play it cool—but from the way Jonny’s smirking, he has a suspicion he’s not doing a very good job. 

“Great,” Jonny grins, giving him a little fist bump against his upper arm. He holds up the tickets. “These are awesome, though—thanks Kaner.” 

Patrick shrugs, feeling warm. “Yeah, man.”

And then Jonny’s eyes go wide. “Shit,” he says, digging his phone out of his pocket and scrolling through before his shoulders drop. “Patrick, I’m so sorry—I have a webinar scheduled during the same time as the concert tomorrow with Dr. Tovar, he’s—”

“A revolutionary researcher in the field of treating mental health issues with psychedelics, I know,” Patrick says, biting down on a grin. “You only have four of his books. Also, he’s not giving a webinar.”

Jonny stares at him.

“I may or may not have hacked into your Google Calendar and put in a fake event so you’d for sure be free during the concert,” Patrick says sheepishly. 

“You hacked into my Google Calendar?” Jonny says faintly, looking like a mixture between horrified and amused. “There’s no webinar?” And goddamnit, Jonny actually sounds a little sad. 

“Uh, no,” Patrick says, feeling absurdly guilty. “But on the bright side—concert!” He makes a note to reach out to Dr. Tovar and see if he can’t get Jonny, like, a personalized powerpoint or some shit for his birthday. 

“I feel like I should be mad about this,” Jonny says, mouth twitching. “ But you just voluntarily agreed to go to an Our Lady Peace concert, so I think you’re being punished enough.” 

Patrick had been so caught up in the idea of giving Jonny the tickets that he hadn’t actually processed the whole going to the concert bit and the reality of suffering through hours of shitty alt-rock, but he’s definitely processing it now. “Oh god,” he says weakly, “What have I done?”

He gets ready for Jonny to chirp the fuck out of him, because honestly—he deserves it. “Given me the second-best gift I’ve ever gotten in my life,” Jonny says instead, smiling at him. And that gives Patrick a heady rush for a second, because hell yeah he’s a gift-giving- god, but then—

“What’s the first?” he asks casually, trying not to pout like a little kid. Like, second-best gift Jonny’s ever gotten? That’s fucking amazing, but he can’t help but feel absurdly jealous of whoever got Jonny the best gift he’d ever gotten—shit, he needs to amp up his research for next Christmas. No, Jonny’s birthday. Maybe, he could like, fly Dr. Tovar out to Chicago or something—

Jonny touches his elbow, startling Patrick into looking up. “This,” he says, raising the bluebells in his other arm. “Nothing else comes close.” There’s a soft smile playing on his lips. 

For the third time that night, Patrick’s heart rate speeds up. “Oh,” he says, feeling his face flush and feeling absurdly pleased. There’s this weird, fraught moment where they don’t speak—Jonny’s still looking at him, all—fond. And it’s just really fucking nice, and Patrick is just—happy. Really, really happy. 

“Uh, I should probably head out,” Patrick says regretfully, because his hands are starting to freeze again despite the fact that he has them stuffed in his pockets. He takes them out and rubs them together hard, trying to get them warm. 

“Here,” Jonny says, digging into his pockets. “Put these on.” He throws something at Patrick, and Patrick catches them on instinct—Jonny’s gloves. He’d probably taken them off so he could hold the potted bluebells—so Patrick’s not the only one with pot-shattering visions. “I figure one of us needs to keep our fingers from falling off, and yours are worth a bit more than mine,” Jonny teases. 

Patrick blinks down at them for a second before putting them on, fingers immediately thawing out. “Thanks Jonny,” he says, strangely touched. “I’ll give them back,” he promises. 

“Nah,” Jonny says easily. “You probably won’t.” But he doesn’t sound particularly upset about it, grinning down at Patrick. 

They walk back down the path towards the house where their cars are parked, talking and laughing and just slipping back into their usual routine, and it’s stupid, but—

Patrick feels like everything’s right in the world. 

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” Jonny says when they finally reach Patrick’s car. They’d passed his a while back, but he insisted on walking Patrick to his car because he’s a weirdo ( you mean thoughtful, caring, good, Patrick’s brain supplies, but he squashes it down). 

“Yeah,” Patrick says, unable to stop smiling. “See you tomorrow.” It’s a surprisingly comforting thought. He watches Jonny walk back towards his car, bluebells secure in his arms. 

Looks like Operation Tazer was a success. 



Chapter Text

“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.