Taylor shoves his hands in his pockets and hunches his shoulders against the wind as he and Ebs wait for the light to change amidst a crowd of tourists. There's a jackhammer pounding at the concrete behind a fence with Burberry ad. Taylor's a little bit jealous of the woman's hat, but it's not even below zero. Also, Ebs didn't wear a hat, so Taylor wasn't about to wear his when they left the hotel. They've just been wandering aimlessly since they left the hotel, because neither of them felt like going with Horc or Nuge on the boat tour thing.
"We could go to the Bean," Ebs suggests as they weave through the crowd.
They did that last time they were in Chicago, but Taylor doesn't have any better ideas. "Sure."
There's a brief detour under Marilyn Monroe's skirt - "In case you need an anatomy lesson, Hallsy," - before they cross the river.
Taylor thinks it's a little weird waiting for the light to change while a giant Patrick Kane stares down at them from above a chocolate store, but Ebs just laughs.
"Kane wishes he was that tall."
Taylor laughs and almost gets hit by a taxi. It's cool though; Ebs pulls him back onto the edge of the sidewalk.
"Jeez, Hallsy, try to act like you've been to a city before."
"Fuck off, it's your fault," Taylor says shoving Ebs into the street now that the rest of the crowd is moving.
Ebs just snorts and ignores him.
The wind off the lake and river die down as they're shielded by the skyscrapers again but it's only temporary as Millennium Park opens up ahead of them.
Taylor hustles up the steps to the Bean, dodging parents strolling with children like they're Chara or Seabrook and he has the puck. He can hear Ebs following close behind.
There are dozens of people with cameras smiling and taking pictures, but none of them are paying attention to Taylor or Ebs.
He tenses a little when a girl taps his arm and holds up her camera. He pulls up his "dealing with the public" smile but she just asks, "Would you mind taking a picture of me and my friends?"
"Oh. Sure, no problem."
Taylor ignores Ebs, who's not even trying to pretend he's not laughing at him, so he can focus on not jiggling the camera too much.
Taylor considers ditching him, but Ebs throws an arm over his shoulder. "How's your ego doing there, Hallsy?"
Taylor huffs but doesn't say anything, or try to move really. He's distracted by trying to pick out their distorted shape on the reflective metal surface.
"We gotta come back here some time when it's sunny," Ebs says waving so he can find them between the gray sky and beige concrete. "I bet it looks really cool, then."
"Might be kind of blinding," Taylor says.
Ebs pulls away to walk closer and laughs, "Hey, your face looks almost normal in this thing."
Taylor shoves him for that. “Jerk.”
“What? Want me to tell you you're pretty?” Ebs asks as he shoves back and they end up half grappling against the Bean until they realize people are staring.
"God, Ebs, I can't take you anywhere."
Jordan just rolls his eyes and pulls out his phone. "Come on, let's take a picture."
"What are you going to send it to your mom?" Taylor teases.
"Yeah, want me to send it to yours, too?" Ebs offers, totally serious.
"That'd be cool."
Taylor throws his arm over Ebs's shoulders and smiles for the little camera.
"Oh dude, look," Ebs says after he puts his phone away. He grabs Taylor's wrist and drags him to the edge of the terrace and looks over the edge where four guys are carrying a hose and laying down ice for a rink in the middle of the park.
"Sucks it's not ready," Taylor says.
"What, you didn't get enough skating in at practice this afternoon?"
"Didn't say that. Just, it'd be cool if we could do some outdoor skating for fun." There's no chance of that in Edmonton, unless they hit Renney's backyard rink, and it wouldn't be the same as going down there now and skating in the middle of the Chicago skyline.
They just hang out there a while, leaning against the guardrail and watching the ice go down. It's hypnotizing and when Ebs elbows Taylor he looks back up and realizes the sun is nearly down.
“Dinner?” Ebs asks.
They head back up Michigan, but there aren't many options between the clothing stores and art galleries. Taylor figures they're going to end up ordering room service until Ebs grabs his arm and pulls him towards a corner.
"That building has a barbecue coming out of it," Ebs says, pointing down a side street.
"Oh. Well. That sounds good."
It is good, and Ebs only teases him a little when he orders a beer knowing Taylor can't have one.
"You're glad you play in Edmonton, huh?"
"Well yeah," Taylor says. "Who else would make me KD?" If he played somewhere else, he wouldn't get to hang out with Ebs all the time.
"Because you can drink genius," Ebs says, grinning.
Ebs lets him steal a few sips while they wait for their food. Both of them eyed the steaks, but went with the chicken and salmon.
"This is good," Taylor says. There's half a chicken in front of him, so he lifts his fork to Ebs. "Try it."
"Mmm," Ebs says. "That is good. Here, try mine."
It's really fucking good. “Good job picking the place out, eh?”
Ebs laughs. “I put a lot of planning and energy into it.”
“It's nice just hanging out the two of us,” he adds a few minutes later.
Ebs is chewing, but he gives Taylor a look.
“On the road I mean,” he clarifies. Long road trips mean hanging out with the guys which is awesome, and Taylor likes rooming with Hordichuk but he misses staying up late with Ebs playing NHL 11 and just chilling with him at home on the recliners. Even that's been kind of busy lately, with Tuebert hanging out whenever he's up from OKC.
“Yeah, it is good,” Ebs says with a smile, and Taylor's glad that they're on the same page.
They skip dessert, even though it all looks really good, and head back to the hotel to find the rest of the guys. They're barely a block from the restaurant, though, when Ebs says, “Wait here,” and pops into a really fancy looking grocery store. But all the buildings around here look fancy, there's a store across the street that looks like it sells nothing but champagne.
He's not sure why anyone would need an entire store just for that, when there's a grocery store right here.
Ebs comes out a few minutes later with a paper bag.
“What'd you get?” Taylor asks, pulling his hands from his pockets to peek into the bag.
Ebs pulls away. “I'll show you when we get back to the hotel.”
It was just a grocery store, so it can't be anything too exciting, but Taylor's curious, and he walks a little faster.
Ebs laughs, but picks up the pace to follow him until they're stepping back into the lobby of the hotel. Taylor waves to Nyki, from the web team, as she heads for the hotel bar while they wait in front of the gleaming gold doors of the elevator.
"So what'd you get me?" Taylor asks as the numbers climb inside the elevator above a sign with a Cardiac Professionals of the Midwest conference schedule.
"Who said it was for you?" Ebs asks, but he's smiling.
"You, when you wouldn't let me see what it was," Taylor says, grinning back. "I may not be a Doc Seaman award winner but I'm pretty smart."
He still thinks they could have named the trophy something better.
"No matter what Whits says," Ebs says as the elevator doors finally open.
Both of their rooms are to the left, but Ebs's room is closer, so they stop there without discussing it
Ebs barely waits until the door is closed behind them before he's reaching into the bag and pulling out a six pack.
"Beer, Ebs, you shouldn't have."
"You were pouting at dinner." Ebs shrugs, but he's grinning a little and Taylor has to grin back.
"You're the best," Taylor says.
"You're easy," Ebs laughs, twisting off a cap and passing Taylor a beer.
"And cheap," Taylor agrees, laughing too.
"So are you going to put out?" Ebs asks, flopping down on the bed.
It's a joke but Taylor still chokes on his beer.
He'd never really thought about it before, but Ebs is the greatest. Everything is better with Ebs. So sex probably would be, too.
“Don't kill yourself, Taylor. It was just a joke,” Ebs says. He picks up the placard next to the bed to read even though he and Taylor both know it's just about the laundry.
Taylor coughs a couple more times. “I know, I know. But maybe?”
Ebs drops the placard. “Maybe?”
“I mean, I bought dinner, and that was like, way more expensive. So you should probably be the one putting out.”
“Ha ha,” Ebs says, picking up the remote.
Taylor is doing this wrong.
Even though he's only had a few sips, Taylor puts his beer down next to the TV and takes three long steps towards Jordan.
"Let's not fuck around, eh?" Ebs's smile is tight.
"What if I want to fuck around?" Taylor doesn't know why he hadn't thought of it before.
"Are you serious?"
"Uh, yeah." Taylor pulls off his shirt hoping to speed things along.
"Jesus," Ebs mutters. "You are easy." But he's grinning and staring at Taylor's chest, so Taylor grins back.
"What about you? Are you easy?"
Jordan shrugs. "I don't know, maybe I should make you work for it."
"I can work with that."
Taylor steps in to Ebs, getting in his personal space, just like always. He gently reaches for Ebs's cheek, and then leans in to kiss him quickly.
It's just a soft press of lips, and for a moment neither of them moves. Taylor starts to feel self conscious. He's shirtless in front of Ebs every day, but this feels different and for a second he's sure this is all a horrible mistake. But Ebs blinks twice, and then wraps his arms around Taylor's neck and pulls him in for another kiss, this one wet and dirty, and there's no way this could possibly be a mistake.
"Can I?" Taylor tugs at Ebs's shirt, because he wants to see as much skin as he can.
Ebs grins, and pulls his own shirt off and tosses it into the corner, before backing up to sit on the end of the bed. Taylor takes this as the invitation it clearly is, and almost leaps onto the bed next to Ebs, pulling him down until they're lying side by side.
"Are you going to respect me in the morning?" Ebs asks, rolling over to kiss Taylor again, and running a hand over Taylor's chest.
"No," Taylor says, but he means yes. He might even bring Ebs coffee at breakfast.
"Oh well," Ebs says, and reaches to pop the button at the top of Taylor's fly. "I guess I am easy."
Taylor thinks that's a good thing. And then he isn't thinking much at all.