Patrick wakes up with a headache and last night’s conversation replaying in his mind.
He groans and pushes his face into the pillow. Isn’t alcohol supposed to make you forget the awful things that happened the night before? He thought that was the whole point.
Jonny’s not in bed, probably because it’s past eight on a Saturday morning and he’s a freak. Actually, he’s probably on his way to practice—the practice Patrick should possibly be at, but evidently Jonny decided post-birthday hangover was a good enough reason not to go for someone who’s not actually on the team.
Patrick could get going right now, catch the second half, at least from the stands. But he thinks of Seabs’ words from last night and pushes his face harder into Jonny’s pillowcase instead.
It’s a stupid thing to be worried about. Jonny isn’t even dating anybody. But sometimes romantic bonds happen spontaneously, and just the thought of it is enough to make Patrick never want to get out of bed again.
A romantic bond wouldn’t change anything. He’d still have a hockey bond with Jonny, and it’s not like it was ever going to grow into anything else, anyway. It would be the same situation he has now. Except that it wouldn’t: there would be a new most-important person in Jonny’s life, a new person Jonny would look to first when he walked into a room, and Patrick would have to move out and live alone and go to bed each night in a bed that didn’t have Jonny in it.
It’s enough to have him closing his eyes and pulling the covers back up to his chin. It’s the day after his birthday; he’s allowed to lounge a little. Or mope. Either way.
He’s dozing when Jonny gets back from practice, and he wakes up to the feeling of Jonny’s fingers in his hair. “Feeling better?” Jonny asks.
Patrick’s eyelids flutter, and then he forces them open to look at Jonny. His hair is still damp from the shower, his skin scrubbed fresh and pink and his eyes bright from skating. Patrick has to bite his lip to keep from doing something he’ll regret.
What he does instead is grab Jonny’s arm and pull him down toward the bed. Jonny looks surprised at first, and then he goes, curling up behind Patrick and tucking an arm over him. Patrick pushes back into the embrace and closes his eyes again, head feeling better already.
The headache comes back later that day, though. Jonny’s sitting in a chair across the room, paging through some Canadian fishing book because that’s the kind of thing he does for fun, and Patrick’s sitting on the couch ostensibly trying to write an English paper, but what he’s really doing is glancing up at Jonny every few seconds and willing him to come touch him.
It’s so stupid. Jonny touches him all the time. Just because this one time Jonny’s sitting somewhere else, Patrick shouldn’t be crawling out of his skin over it. He tries to press down the part of him that’s feeling anxious about this, the part that’s all twisted up about things that haven’t even happened yet, but it’s all rising to his head and throbbing in his temples and he can’t keep his eyes from going back to Jonny.
Maybe he stares a little too hard, because Jonny looks up. “Hm?”
“Oh. Nothing,” Patrick says. He attempts a grin. “Just doing my English paper. You know.”
“Need a hand?” Jonny asks, and oh thank God, he gets up from his chair and comes and sits next to Patrick on the couch. Close enough that Patrick only has to lean in an inch for their shoulders to be next to each other; close enough that Patrick’s stomach can unclench. Jonny leans in a little farther to see the book. “Oh yeah, Ethan Frome, that sucked.”
“Right?” Patrick says, but he’s breathing again, and the headache is receding. Not gone, but almost out of reach; something he can bear easily when Jonny’s right next to him.
The headaches come back, off and on over the next few days, probably because Patrick’s making himself miserable obsessing over it all. Turning it over in his head, trying to prepare himself for the possibility that Jonny might find someone but not ending up prepared so much as just sick over it.
It would be easier if he could stop wanting. Sometimes he thinks he can—but then Jonny will turn to him with bright eyes, or whisper something in his ear, voice low and lips brushing the lobe, and Patrick’s stomach will jolt and he’ll sway forward, helpless and aching.
It doesn’t help when he wakes up later that week to find Jonny hard against his ass.
Patrick’s not sure what he’s feeling at first—he’s half asleep, nice and warm under the blankets, and Jonny’s stretched long and snug against his back and Patrick just wants to drift like this forever. Then Jonny moves a little and something nudges his ass and whoa.
It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. It’s just one of those things, autonomic or whatever, the kind of thing a guy can’t help, and Patrick usually tries to ignore the heat it stirs in his belly like the polite person he is. But this morning he can’t quite push it down: Jonny’s so warm against him, and Patrick’s sweating a little, and Jonny’s cock is nudging right between his ass cheeks oh god.
Jonny’s breath is light and even against the back of his neck. Patrick can feel his own cock swelling, can feel how much he wants that cock between his legs, or even, oh fuck, in his ass. It’s shivering all over his skin, that possibility, waking up all his nerves. The head of Jonny’s cock is firm and hot against him and he’s trying to keep his breathing down, trying not to clench, trying to ignore the growing ache—
Jonny shifts, cock jerking once against Patrick’s ass, and sweet pleasure runs all over Patrick’s body. He gasps and jerks forward, out of Jonny’s grasp, scrambling off the bed and onto the floor.
“Wha?” Jonny says muzzily behind him.
“Nothing.” Patrick straightens up, not facing the bed. “It’s—I’m gonna,” he says, and he darts into the bathroom and locks the door.
He leans against the wall and feels the blood pounding in his cock. He shouldn’t jerk off like this—shouldn’t reinforce whatever stupid doomed crush he has on Jonny—but he can tell he’s not coming down from this in any other way.
He slips his hand inside his boxers and sighs in relief. His cock has already left a damp patch on the fabric, and he swirls the slickness of the precome over the head and shivers. He imagines what it would feel like to do this to Jonny’s cock. Imagines what Jonny’s face might look like if he did. Jonny’s cock, bare this time, slipping between his ass cheeks, Jonny’s mouth opening on his neck and his arms coming up to envelop Patrick as he thrusts inside, taking all of him, inside and out. The way Jonny might breathe in his ear, fast and desperate because he wants it, wants Patrick—
Patrick gasps and comes hard, mouth open on a silent cry and back arching against the wall. Then he slumps down, legs all trembly and heart racing and fuck, he just came thinking about Jonny. Again.
He’s been trying so hard not to do that. He tries to wipe his mind of anything but physical sensation when he’s jerking off, just his hand on his cock, but he thinks about it all the time and no matter how many times he tells himself it’s creepy and he should be grateful and he shouldn’t ruin what he has, he can’t stop.
“What is wrong with me,” he mutters into the wall.
His head may be fucked up, but his hockey is fine.
More than fine, really. He’s still playing games with the Cougars and the Steel when Q asks him to, and Jonny finally has a free night later that week that overlaps with a game, so he comes to watch.
It hasn’t been as tough getting back into games as Patrick was afraid it would be. He thought he might be totally outclassed—but compared to the Blackhawks he’s been practicing with, these guys are practically little kids. There’s definitely stuff to get used to: the speed of shift changes, the difficulty of identifying players on the ice when he hasn’t been playing with them for long, the unfamiliar feeling of using newly developed muscles. It’s all stuff he has to work on, stuff that’s making him a better player than he was three months ago.
Nothing compares to the player he is when Jonny comes to see him, though.
Patrick gets two assists and a hat trick by the end of the second period, and…it’s like the opposition defense isn’t even there. He can practically feel Jonny’s attention on him, and it’s like wind at his back, like he’s skating with the force of two people instead of one.
He gets it, now: why hockey bonds help even when the players aren’t on the ice together.
He has four goals total by the end of the game, a six-point night, and Jonny’s waiting for him when he comes off the ice. For a second, looking at how Jonny’s eyes are trained on him, Patrick has a momentary flash of him dropping to his knees in the middle of the tunnel—but Jonny just wraps him in his arms, of course he does, and Patrick sinks into it and pushes down the throb of heat at the other thing.
After a moment Jonny lets go and holds him at arm’s length. “We are going to take the NHL by fucking storm next year,” he says.
“Yeah we are,” Patrick says, breathless and beaming, and the desire to have Jonny’s lips on his pales in comparison to this, this glowing golden certainty that fills him. That together, they’ll be unstoppable.
He’s still buzzing on it the next morning. Evidently word has spread about his game last night, because Burs comes through the door and slaps him on the back hard enough to leave a mark. “Six points! That’s my boy!”
Duncs punches Patrick in the shoulder, and Patrick would maybe mind if he didn’t feel so good about it. “It doesn’t really count,” he mumbles, but no one hears him, probably because Jonny’s already talking him up across the locker room.
“It was awesome,” Jonny’s saying to like five different people at once. His face is kind of flushed, like it is after he scores a goal himself. “There was this one play where there were like three people in front of him, and he just deked around all of them, got a breakaway, no one could touch him. Tipped it in right around the goalie’s glove.”
“Nice,” Laddy says to Patrick, and Patrick bumps his fist, but he’s distracted by looking at Jonny. His eyes are sparkling as he talks, and he looks so beautiful Patrick can hardly stand it. He thinks maybe he’ll be struck down where he sits. That’s because of me, he thinks, that look on Jonny’s face, and it makes him dizzy to think of it.
Sharpy’s elbow startles him out of his daze. “You’re pretty into him, aren’t you?” he says in a low voice.
“Wh-what?” Patrick jerks in surprise. “No, I’m not.” His heart is galloping, and he clenches his hands on his thighs.
Sharpy regards him through narrowed eyes. “You’re coming to lunch with me after practice,” he says, and Patrick is filled with a new sense of dread.
“You’re going to lunch with Sharpy?” Jonny says, brow furrowed in confusion.
“Well, you know.” Patrick shrugs. “He’s a cool guy,” he says, because it sounds better than he found out about my secret love for you and now we have to have a terrifying conversation about it.
“Okay,” Jonny says, and there’s something almost…almost insecure about it. Patrick wants to reassure him that the last thing he has to worry about right now is Patrick not liking him best, but, well.
“I’ll be home right after school,” he says instead.
The thing is, Patrick actually does like Sharpy a lot. And he’d be happy to have lunch with him, under nomal circumstances, when Sharpy’s not going to talk to him about his debilitating crush.
Sharpy doesn’t bring it up right away, just talks about normal things, and Patrick is enjoying himself up to the point when Sharpy says, “So, how long have you been in love with our illustrious baby captain?”
Patrick chokes on his burger. And coughs for like three minutes while Sharpy hands him water and watches wryly. “I’m not…whatever. What you said,” he says, when he can finally drag in a breath again. “It’s just a crush, okay?”
“Uh-huh.” Sharpy’s eyebrow looks deeply unconvinced. “So, how long have you had this ‘crush’?” he asks, with air quotes.
Patrick…doesn’t actually know the answer to that. It seems like this is how he’s always felt: like as long as Jonny’s been in his life, Patrick’s felt this way about him. Like he never had the option of feeling anything else. “Um, you know,” he says. “A while.” Then: “You can’t tell him, okay?”
“Please,” Sharpy says. “Like I would betray the solemn brotherhood of Patricks.”
Patrick fiddles with a french fry. “It’s just…you know. Something I have to get over.”
Sharpy looks at him like he’s said something insane. “Why?”
Why? Is that an actual question? Patrick could name about fifty reasons why, starting with: “Because he doesn’t feel the same way,” he says, looking down at his plate. And then, the one that makes him sick: “Because he’s going to meet someone else at some point.”
“Someone he looks at the way he looks at you?” Sharpy says, his voice weirdly gentle, and Patrick suddenly finds himself on the losing end of the battle against the pricking feeling in his eyes. The way Jonny looks at him sometimes, eyes going a little soft at the corners, the way his mouth wobbles and his whole face seems lit with a light that shines on no one else. Patrick feeds on those moments, breathes them in like air. Can’t imagine them going to someone else.
“It’s just something I have to get over,” he says again, trying to feel as resolute as he sounds.
Sharpy looks like he’s going to say something else, but instead he just pats him on the arm. “We’re here for you, kid.”
Patrick’s head throbs throughout the afternoon at school. Too much talking about it; too much thinking about the things he’s desperately afraid to lose.
It helps a little when he goes home to Jonny and slumps against him on the couch after dinner, but he can’t stop thinking about it. Even with Jonny’s arm around him, tight against his chest, all he can think is: I’m going to lose this someday. And, even worse: There’s someone else he’ll be holding like this, like she’s precious.
He shifts against Jonny, and Jonny makes a questioning mm.
“I’m kind of tired,” Patrick says standing up. “I think I’m going to bed.”
“Want me to come?” Jonny asks, looking up at him with big earnest eyes.
Patrick wavers. But then he thinks of Jonny wrapped warm around him and, “Yes,” he says. “Sure.”
He offers Jonny his hand to get up, and then Jonny doesn’t let go once he’s up, just keeps holding Patrick’s hand. Patrick doesn’t let go, either; he holds tight, all the way down the hallway, feeling like Jonny’s palm against his is the only thing that’s keeping him from being lost.