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that has long since found a home

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LaFlamme realises he has a thing for Doug and Eva when he walks in on them fucking in the bathroom. Eva's pressed up against the wall of the shower stall and Dougie's banging her pretty hard; she's moaning into his shoulder, telling him to go harder, and he tightens his hands on her hips, says “Okay,” and LaFlamme wants in on that so fucking badly he has to bite on his hand, and steps back into the doorjamb.

Eva notices him standing there like a dick, smirks at him and then turns to kiss Dougie's neck, and he flees.

So there's that.

*

But he's got no fucking clue what to do about it, if he should do anything about it, if he even actually wants to do anything about it – like, Dougie's a pretty cool dude but that doesn't mean he won't punch LaFlamme in the head for hitting on him and/or his girl.

So they're sitting on the couch one day playing some shitty video game and LaFlamme, completely out of the blue, blurts out “I don't have herpes. I mean. I know what the rumours are, but I don't.” Fuck his life.

And Doug just sits there for a minute letting his car drive off the track, and then finally says “cool, man.” LaFlamme guesses it's because his dad's a doctor and sexual health is totally important and Dougie's glad to know that LaFlamme is playing it safe when he's banging random chicks in alleyways and making comitragic fucktapes.

*

LaFlamme isn't really aware of how few moves he actually has until he decides to try consciously flirting with Doug, just to see what happens. He knocks into him on the way to his car post-game (and he kicked ass too, scored a hat-trick and didn't get punched once), winks once Doug turns around, and says “so, 69, you're into that?”

Dougie thinks for a minute and eventually says, “well, you know, I'm kind of tall, and most of the people I've been with haven't been, so it hasn't worked too good. Pat thought it'd be funny,” then shrugs.

And LaFlamme's life continues to be difficult.

*

In the end LaFlamme just ends up talking to Eva about it, because Eva totally confronts him in this really laid-back way, wanders out of her-and-Dougie's bedroom one morning dressed in one of Doug's jerseys and maaaybe a pair of underwear (LaFlamme is maybe a bit too scared of her to perv (much)), and says straight up, “so, you've got a thing for Dougie.”

All LaFlamme can do is splutter; he can feel himself blushing bright red, and he eventually manages to nod while coughing awkwardly and wondering why the fuck he didn't drink until he passed out on the floor again and thus avoid this pain.

And Eva - because Eva is one cool lady – just says, “cool, want me to talk to him about it?”

He thinks for a moment that she's offering to, like, break up with Dougie so he can have a shot, which, no, not what he wants at all, because Dougie clearly loves Eva and why would he want to make Doug unhappy? Doug is the kind of guy who deserves to be happy all of the time. Not to mention: Eva herself. God. He stutters out something dumb, and she rolls her eyes and says “No, I mean like a threesome or something,” and then ruffles his hair a bit before going to make coffee.

He wonders if he should get a haircut. He wonders if Eva would think he was hotter with short hair, or something. He wonders how the fuck this is his life.

*

Eva - Eva thinks about it for a while. There was that whole thing where she told Doug that he made her want to stop sleeping around - and the thing is, he does; she is getting so much less public bathroom sex these days, and so much more snuggling in bed, and it's great. But she would still climb LaFlamme like a tree - he is such a douchecanoe but he's pretty much not an asshole 90% of the time within the confines of the apartment, and he's way more stable now that they're winning games sometimes and he's not doing coke off hooker's asses.

Also Dougie totally told her that LaFlamme was clean, all proud of him and everything: which, yeah, considering where they've all been it is an achievement.

She starts off one evening in bed by asking him whether he's ever done anything with dudes. Doug - and this totally isn't surprising, considering she has met Pat and seen the two of them together - says “yeah,” and then tells her about how him and Pat screwed round for like 3 years in high school, in between girlfriends and (in Pat's case) this one skeevy hipster named Joel who wore ironic hats and eventually got dumped summarily for calling Doug a dumb fuck one too many times in Pat's hearing (how many times? Once), and stopped because Pat cut his hair too short to be braided (she didn't ask) and Doug met this girl called Milly who he dated for like a year and a half pretty solidly.

She tries asking how he defines his sexuality, but he just shrugs and says that he's never thought about it that much, but that sometimes he thinks guys are hot. Then they fuck.

*

Doug begins to think something is going on when he walks in on Eva standing over LaFlamme with her hands on her hips, telling him that he's got to stop with the puck bunnies already, and LaFlamme doesn't even point out that Eva kind of was one (which Doug is glad for because otherwise he totally would've punched him, teammate/bro or not), and instead just kind of sits there and nods while Eva tells him that she's working on it, if he still wants - and then LaFlamme notices Doug in the doorway and goes bright red and bites his lip and then sits there with his mouth open for like half a minute.

He tries to ask Eva about it that night when they're spooning (she's the big spoon; he loves it) and she just clutches the waistband of his boxers and bursts into tears, which: what the actual fuck? After he's rolled over and cuddled her for like half an hour, wondering whether he sounded like he was accusing her of something (he totally didn't mean to!), she kind of sits up and says really sadly, "it's just, I kind of promised that I didn't want to sleep with other people."

And he's honestly bewildered, and says "when?"

And then they have the most ridiculous conversation ever, and what Eva takes from it is this:

Doug honestly was incredibly flattered and pleased when Eva said that he made her want to stop sleeping with a bunch of guys, but he never ever thought that meant that she wouldn't ever want to sleep with anyone but him. He's not sleeping with other people, and he'd be pretty upset if she just went off to bang the opposition, but clearly there's a difference between her cheating on him constantly and her occasionally asking “mind if I do him?” And for the record, the answer to that question is pretty much never going to be “yes” unless the guy's a complete douche who Dougie doesn't think will treat her right and respect her in the morning.

*

And then Eva asks him if he's ever thought about doing it with Xavier, and Doug honestly has to take a minute to figure out who she means by that.

But: yes. LaFlamme would probably be fun to screw round with; and they're cool now that he's stopped being an ass. LaFlamme has totally been giving Dougie extra skating lessons, really patiently too.

*

Eva gets the ball rolling by sitting on Dougie's lap one day when he's trying to beat LaFlamme at Mario Bros, licking his neck, turning to LaFlamme, and saying "you want to?"

He drops his controller.

Doug and she have talked about this - she wouldn't ever say they've talked about it at length or anything, because it mostly consisted of Doug agreeing that maybe it'd be cool if the three of them hooked up a few times, and Doug then going down on her until she screamed. She'd made sure LaFlamme would be home that night, too.

*

And for all that she's slept with half of the hockey-playing community of Halifax (and that is a lot of dudes, she owns it), she hasn't actually had a lot of threesomes, because most of the guys are afraid that it looks gay if they touch. So it surprises her, a little, when they get LaFlamme naked and he's just kind of shaking from nerves against the sheets (she suspects that he has not had a lot of sex with people he actually likes, or sex while sober for that matter), and Doug just says straight-up, “how about I go down on you, buddy, that alright?”

But it takes them a while to get there.

*

LaFlamme's controller bounces across the floor a bit, while LaFlamme sits there floundering and staring at his hands like they're going to tell him the secrets of the universe and/or punch him in the face. Eventually he mans up enough to stare at Doug, who is staring back with that slightly glazed look he gets sometimes when he looks at LaFlamme, and LaFlamme manages to croak out “yeah?” directed at Eva but still staring straight at Dougie, and Dougie says “yeah, man.”

*

None of them speak for a bit, the theme song to Mario Bros beetling along in the background, while LaFlamme keeps looking between Doug and Eva, chewing on his lip, and Doug strokes at the gap between Eva's top and jeans. But Eva's impatient, and this is clearly bullshit - she has been working on this shit for weeks, okay, she wants her hot friendly apartment threesome, LaFlamme better not be pussying out on her now (though of course it would be okay if he did, personal choice and blah blah fucking blah, she should never have gotten into that conversation about sexuality with Dougie's brother) - so she leans over him, trusting Doug to hold her up, and bites his lip for him, licks into his mouth.

After a couple of minutes of that, LaFlamme kissing back but not touching, hesitant and unsure (and she has watched a couple of the fucktapes, she got bored one night, it is not as though he has no game), she huffs a breath into his mouth and then leans back, nudges Dougie and tells him it's his turn.

That first night they all just make out for hours on her and Dougie's bed; it's kind of frustrating as all shit, but also completely awesome.

*

And it goes like that.

*

One day she comes home and Dougie's got LaFlamme pressed up against the kitchen cabinets, is hauling him up by the ass and kissing him lazily, and she drops her keys on the shelf by the door, says “hey, guys,” and walks into the bedroom to take off her fucking painful shoes, okay, who thought heels were a good idea? That is what she wants to know.

When she comes back out Dougie has pulled back and LaFlamme is still leaning against the counter, panting; Dougie grins at her and asks how her day at work was, so she starts ranting about the complete fuckup who thought it'd be cool to call twelve times to check that the delivery would be on time. And it's cool, because both of them nod along with her story about that guy's bullshit.

*

Three nights later, she sticks her hand down LaFlamme's shorts while they're making out on the couch, Doug in the kitchen doing the dishes because he doesn't like leaving them until the morning. She's not helping because she cooked – and by “cooked” she means picked up takeout on the way home from work, but Dougie and LaFlamme totally think that counts and she's not going to disabuse them of that notion in any way. LaFlamme's not helping because he's a dick like that, and also because Dougie had caught up with her when she was grabbing plates, kissed her on the neck and told her to go for it, LaFlamme had a bad day at practice and was probably feeling too pissed off to get weird about it.

He still freezes up a little, goes all tense when she gets her hand around him (finally! God) and mutters against her mouth, “So, we're doing this, then?”

And, jesuschrist, “LaFlamme, we've been doing this for weeks, how do you not understand that?”

“But, uh, Doug?”

“What, buddy?” says Doug, who has apparently finished up while Eva has completely not been succeeding at getting laid, what the hell, and is now standing about four feet away in a total bouncer stance. She doesn't even know what that's about, but she really wants SOMEONE to get with the programme already.

Really?” LaFlamme says, kind of high-pitched and she wonders if that's because he's nervous or something, or if it's just that she's started jerking him off.

This is truly pathetic; it's like him and Dougie weren't dryhumping on this very couch just last afternoon, like she and him hadn't spent three hours the week before licking into each other's mouths while the Hawks kicked the asses of the Oilers on TV, like Dougie hadn't fingerbanged her in the shower that morning before she went to work; she can't even deal.

So she rolls her eyes at him, drags off his pants, slaps a condom on him and goes to town.

*

That's how Dougie starts training LaFlamme on how to be respectful of women. It cracks her up the first time Doug tells LaFlamme that he's got to be more polite to her when they're banging, because she's a total slut and everyone in the room knows it; but it turns out that what Dougie means is that he shouldn't tell her to take it like a bitch so often, and that he needs to get better at remembering to give her a reach-around when he's doing her doggy-style.

*

It's not all sex, though, and that's the weird thing. LaFlamme spends enough time over the summer teaching Dougie how to play hockey that by the middle of the next season he's actually pretty good, or at least doesn't need towing into position anymore and can keep up with the gameplay much better. She's got no illusions that Doug's ever going to get past the minors (and she knows that's coming for LaFlamme, now that he's not a waste of a human being (much)), but his game isn't just about him punching people anymore.

They still chant DOUG THE THUG whenever he's on the ice, though.

Meanwhile, Eva sneaks into LaFlamme's room when he's “practising” deep-throating Dougie in their bed, moaning round his dick like a total pro (and she gets that, okay, and normally she likes watching, but: priorities. She has them), and gets rid of all the egregiously-stained old basketball shorts and his most douchetastic bro sunglasses, because gold wire rims and mirrorglass are nobody's friend and the three of them are going out for dinner together pretty often these days.

He doesn't even say anything to her about it, but he tags along the next time Doug says he needs to buy a new suit (his shoulders keep getting wider, life is so tragic sometimes), lets her loudly talk him out of buying a shirt made out of purple satin and into a pinstriped cotton that doesn't make him look like a used-car salesman dressing up as a pimp for Halloween.

*

Montreal doesn't want LaFlamme back.

But he's useful again: playing well, scoring goals; it's been almost three years since he's had to make a shame-faced press conference about the latest fucktape that got leaked by his barroom buddies. So they trade his rights to the Rangers for some fuck of a goalie named Neubert or Nifflin or something; and it's pack up his shit, pack up his apartment, pack up his life and leave Halifax and Eva and Dougie for the bright shining lights of New York, New York.

He goes on a bender for three whole days, wakes up finally with a killer headache to Eva stroking his greasy hair back from his forehead and Doug holding out a giant mug of coffee and a bottle of ibuprofen. Neither of them look fucked off, so he guesses he didn't bang anyone else or mess up too badly – he's got a flash of himself fingering Eva against the wall of some dive's bathroom, Dougie in the doorway to the stall, watching silently.

They don't talk about it. The day he leaves, Doug kisses him, holds onto his face and kisses him, scratches at the back of his neck and kisses him and tells him he's going to be great, that Doug and Eva will watch all his games, that they hope he'll come and visit them.

*

Xavier finds out Dougie's taken a dirty hit in a series of hysterical texts from Eva when he turns on his phone at O'Hare, spends the bus ride to the hotel with his hand pressed against his other ear to block out his loud-assed teammates so he can call her, find out what the fuck is going on.

And it's bad, broken wrist, broken jaw, concussion – Doug is out for the rest of the season and maybe for good, Eva sobbing down the phone line while he promises he'll call her properly as soon as he's at the hotel, will come home to Halifax as soon as he can. When he gets off the phone half the team is staring at him, silent. He shakes his head at them and doesn't say anything – it's none of their fucking business anyway.

*

The game against the Hawks is a fucking sack of shit, make no mistake; they lose, and although Xavier gets a goal in the second period, he also no lie almost punches Kane in his stupid fucking face just for being there. Doug had been in surgery when he'd finally gotten hold of Eva properly, something about wiring his jaw back together, putting in a couple of screws. Eva had been sobbing too hard to really talk, so he'd ended up talking to Dougie's brother's gay partner who does something with pussies about how long Doug was going to be in hospital for (a few days) and whether Xavier should try to get back to Halifax and see –

And fuck that shit, of course he fucking should, and of course he fucking can't, and fuck hockey and fuck Chicago, and fuck the NHL and Ross the Boss Rhea and fucking Duncan Keith who'd, like, fucking patted him on the motherfucking arm after the game and said he'd heard his friend took a dirty hit, and it was cool, everybody understood, while Xavier just stood there and fumed and snarled at everyone.

*

It's two weeks before he manages to get a couple of days off, fly up to Halifax just in time to see Dougie manage to open his left damn eye. Pat's there, fluttering around like a hummingbird on crack and managing to piss off Eva, who is after Doug the chillest person Xavier has ever even met.

It's a good thing Pat's there, though, because twelve hours in Xavier can't take it any more, is having flashbacks to his own concussion and the spiraling clusterfuck that became his life, is remembering all the times that Dougie has said that hockey's pretty much the only thing he's good at (which is such bullshit: Dougie's also incredibly fucking awesome at being a decent fucking human being, which is more than Xavier can say for most of the assholes he knows). And Pat's right there to yell at; Pat is exactly the sort of person who likes having screaming matches in which everybody calls one another a sack of cunts and maybe throws some beer, so Xavier gets stuck in, and they end up on the street outside the apartment, yelling at each other about Doug and his life choices and whether it'd be a good move to hunt that fucker from Winnipeg down and kick his fucking head in (consensus: no, but god it would feel good).

Then Pat takes him to the nearest bar, some shithole that he's puked in at least three times and been thrown out of once, him and Doug and Eva, for trying to have a threeway in the lone bathroom. He ends up crying a little, five beers in, while Pat awkwardly looks around and occasionally tries to say something that doesn't involve an obscenity. He doesn't do too good at that, but it's nice of him to try; especially since he's been in Halifax for a week now, running Eva and Doug around and, like, helping Doug change his dressings and remember his painkillers.

“You're not an asshole,” Xavier says after he's had a couple more, done a couple of shots of their top-shelf tequila (still shitty) and been to take a piss twice. “And fuck New York anyway,” he continues.

“Yeah, man,” says Pat. “I feel you,” and that is garbage, that is such bullshit, Xavier can't even, so he climbs down from his barstool and heads off into the night.

Pat has to turn him round a couple of times, get him walking in the direction of home, but it's not so cold a night and by the time he gets back to the apartment he's feeling good enough to crawl into bed with Dougie and Eva and pass the fuck out.

His flight's at 6am the next morning, and it's a total cock.

*

New York, he decides, isn't so bad after all; or at least the bars aren't so bad, and his teammates are pretty cool about taking him out, and then taking him home before he can slur into some chick's tits about how he'd totally do her except he's got something at home. Again. After a couple of weeks of that, though, and a few games in which he plays like – not like shit, because he is fucking awesome, okay, but not as well as he'd been playing prior to Dougie getting his face knocked in – after that, though, someone must say something to someone, because the next thing he knows there's this voicemail from Eva and she's calling him a shitheel and telling him to meet them at the airport.

His place is pretty sweet, but it's also covered in shit, so he spends the four hours between getting the voicemail and having to leave for JFK trying to clean up and mostly failing; but he has to try, because otherwise Doug will, and he's pretty sure Dougie's arm is still in a motherfucking sling. He does change the sheets on his bed – cotton, because Eva had laughed her fucking ass off when he'd tried to get them some black satin ones back in Halifax, and, well. Yeah.

And then he's at the airport, and Eva's looking as kickass as always and Dougie's even looking pretty good, the bruising on his face almost gone and most of the stitches out. His arm is still in a sling, and he's trying to carry his duffel and Eva's suitcase, and Eva's not having any of that crap, is telling him she can manage her own damned suitcase; and Xavier wants so much to fall on top of the both of them and not let go, but settles for taking Eva's suitcase out of Dougie's hands and leading them to his ride.

He feels like himself again for the first time in well over a month once he's got them home, gone down on Eva for like an hour while Dougie tells him how they'd watched all his games, how good he was playing except maybe Dougie should show him how to punch a little better, with Eva panting loudly and clenching her hands in his hair.

*

“So how long are you staying?” he asks them the next morning, and Dougie shrugs.

“Coach says I can't train for the rest of the season,” which isn't an answer until Eva adds, “And my job's a piece of shit anyway.”

It's true that Eva's job is a piece of shit: she works in the call centre for a courier company and spends her days listening to rich lawyer assholes whine that the 60-minute cross-town service took too damned long to get the settlement papers across to the other side. Xavier had listened to so much post-work bitching that he could pretty much recite half her complaints along with her, but hardly ever did because that led to being blue-balled while she sucked off Doug as a reward for being a good listener and caring about her feelings or whatever.

“You could quit and stay here?” he offers, thinking.

Doug slings his good arm around his shoulders, leans in to kiss him carefully, jaw still all fucked up, and Eva punches him in the arm and says, “that's the plan.”

*

Eva likes to talk during sex, likes to give instructions - to Xavier more often than to Doug, because Doug always seems to know just where to touch her and when to tease and when to give it to her hard - and one day as Xavier is banging her over the back of their couch, looking out over the park, she asks him to tell her what it's like, fucking someone.

Which: he does not actually have an answer for that; also it throws him off his rhythm a bit, and she squeezes down around him and shoves back, grumbles until he gets a move on.

She brings it up again in bed that night. Dougie just says it's fun, and then goes silent for a bit, obviously thinking about something. Xavier's licking at his balls when he finally speaks. “Do you want to get a strap-on, Eva?” he asks, and Xavier has to pull off, push a couple of hairs out of his mouth, to stare at them both.

Eva looks intrigued. “You'd let me fuck you?”

Doug shrugs. “Sure, we fuck you. Could be fun.” Xavier thinks about that for a couple of minutes, thinks about Eva bending Doug over and giving it to him while Xavier maybe took a couple of pictures and then kept the memory card locked up in the safe in the closet except for when he wanted jerk-off material, and then he goes back down to finish what he started.

*

Doug gets a job working security at a titty bar in Greenwich, a place frequented by a mix of skinny-hipped art students who have loud conversations about sex positivity and tip the ladies real bad, businessmen who want to revisit their lost youth by way of $50 notes stuffed into the g-strings of Anna and Estelle, and the old codgers who just want a drink served to them by a pretty (topless) gal (who reminds them of their Carol/Steffie/Flo in her day).

It suits him; the hours are pretty flexible, and the boss is good about him wanting to take time off to go to Rangers games from time to time, because he's a hard worker and doesn't bother the girls at all, brings in muffins baked by Eva and also the lucrative hockey-bro market of large men with large open wallets who are too PR-conscious to cause much trouble.

Pat comes down to stay for the weekend, just after the Rangers have dropped out of the playoffs and Eva and Doug have spent four full days fucking Xavier back into a good mood. They pretty much spend their time sitting on the couch, yelling at the TV and drinking all of Xavier's Gatorade. Xavier manages to creep up on them a few hours before Pat's due to head home; they look like they're having a serious conversation and Xavier wants to know what the fuck is going on.

“Sorry that your thing ended, man,” Pat says.

“Huh?” asks Dougie. “I've still got my thing.”

“I meant, like, hockey,” Pat explains.

“No, yeah,” says Doug. “That did suck, but I've still got my thing,” and he waves his hands around to encompass the room, Eva poking at Xavier's laptop in the corner and Xavier trying to hide behind the ficus Doug had found on the street and brought home because he thought a houseplant or five would be nice. Xavier grins.