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It's woven in my soul

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It starts with Mama Sharp.

If Patrick were to diagram the thought process, the way Q diagrams the powerplay for the team on the whiteboard. It would go like this:

Mama Sharp → 88PKane jersey → twitter → insanity → BlackhawksTV → mouth running → bratty sisters → idea

So Mama Sharp wears the wrong Patrick’s jersey during Game 1 of the playoffs, which is documented on the internet for Sharpy’s legion of twitter followers, and the Blackhawks twitter followers, and 987 other retweets, which in turn spawns hysteria, which spawns a segment on BHTV about the wrong Patrick twitter hashtag and a discussion about Mama Kane wearing someone else’s jersey and how that would make Patrick feel.

And that’s when the other shoe drops.

Patrick is a terrifyingly shitty actor, this is a generally acknowledged fact, there are probably entire YouTube channels dedicated to his bad acting. The problem with acting is that there are in fact actual parts of Patrick’s life that he’s not that interested in sharing with the entire United States and Canada and the Internet. So he filters, and fuck you all for thinking he can’t have a filter thankyouverymuch, he is perfectly capable of revealing some things and not others, even with a camera shoved in his face. But filtering means lying. And Patrick isn’t really especially adept at lying.

Often, when he’s asked to lie, it translates into him running his mouth, a different solution to a permanent problem. So when they ask the question about his mom rocking someone else’s jersey the first thing he does is spout off about how seeing his mom with Toews on her back would be grounds to not speak to her.

There are 2 problems with this statement, the first is that the odds of Patrick being able to give his mom the silent treatment for anything longer than 3 minutes are basically nil, he’s nothing if not an unabashed mama’s boy.

The second problem is that Donna Kane plays favorites, and despite Patrick’s sisters having a long line of not-entirely-terrible boyfriends Patrick is the only one who’s actually found the guy who’s his forever and gone and gotten himself married.

This, of course, means that the title of favorite son-in-law falls squarely on the breadth of the shoulders of one Jonathan Toews.

So it isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility to imagine a circumstance when his mom might actually wear something that bears the Toews surname.

Patrick’s sisters solution to the horrifying delivery of this particular lie is to wear various Toews shirts, as often as possible, in varied locations, all documented for posterity on film. Jackie wears one while they’re chatting on Skype, sliding back and forth in the frame until Patrick can’t help but notice that the Blackhawks hoodie she’s wearing features a prominent C that is noticeably absent from anything Kane related.

Erica texts a picture of Jessica asleep on the couch, 19 centered on her back.

Someone on twitter captures a blurry picture of Erica buying gas wearing sweats and a Toews t-shirt [this spawns a Deadspin article speculating on Johnny and Erica’s secret, forbidden love. Which is really fucking freaky to be completely honest.]

At one point the neighbor's dog wears a Toews t-shirt to a BBQ.

And finally it culminates in all 3 of them crammed together in 2 consecutive pictures on Erica’s damn Instagram, the first featuring 3 Kane girls all smiling at the camera wearing Blackhawks tshirts, the second featuring their backs, all adorned with Toews.

This is Patrick’s punishment for running his mouth.

Johnny finds the entire thing hilarious. It’s probably because it isn’t his mom wearing a Kaner jersey, or a Sharpy jersey. Or possibly because he and Patrick are having quite a lot of sex. Also because they spent the glorious entirety of the summer splitting between Winnipeg and Buffalo and training their brains out and as a result the team is winning a lot this year.

Johnny also makes the picture of Pat’s sisters his phone wallpaper for a while once they’re back in Chicago for camp. Because torturing your significant other is important.

It’s the phone background that pushes Patrick to develop the plan. It takes a little longer to actually put the plan into action, because good things come to those who wait.

Because Patrick never does anything halfway he sneaks in and talks to Jimmy. What he wants to do is bordering on the edge of scandalous and he needs someone on the inside to help him out.

The opportunity to put his plan into motion arrives in a mostly inconsequential game nearly 6 months after the initial wrong Patrick scandal. The important things are this - Patrick’s riding a 12 game points streak, they're playing Minnesota, Johnny and Patrick’s parents are upstairs in the box and when Patrick tangled their hands together when they walked from the car into the UC Johnny smiled so bright and so wide Patrick’s almost certain he’ll never be anything but the happiest person on earth.

The biggest logistical challenge turns out to be figuring out how to get out onto the ice without Johnny figuring the entire thing out. As usual the combination of Saader and Sharpy provide the perfect level of distraction and cover. Saader unintentionally distracts Johnny with a discussion about some post-faceoff magic, secret play they’ve been working on and the discussion about strategy combined with Johnny’s super intense captain in game-planning mode provides the initial cover.

The two Patrick’s move toward the ice at a more sedate pace, pushing and shoving and generally maintaining a level of silliness they’ve perfected over the years. There’s a well-worn level of order they maintain once they’re going out for the game, but this particular plan is for warm-ups only.

All of this gives Patrick the opportunity to make a lame excuse about having to pee and the time to duck back into the dressing room for just a second to swap jerseys.

His heart pounds a little extra at the sight of his familiar 88 paired with the less familiar last name.

He uses it sometimes - signing cards for wedding gifts as P and J Toews or scrawling PToews in the return address when he’s paying their water bill. He’s even grown used to using it a little, used to the cashier at the grocery store either smiling in recognition or completely cluelessly mangling it while he’s grabbing his bags and heading for the parking lot.

The thing is, he likes it, he likes belonging to Johnny, he likes seeing their 2 names next to each other followed by a single last name and he likes how Johnny presses their mouths together a little more roughly after PToews makes an appearance.

He also uses it as a tool to drive Johnny just a little crazy, finding subtle ways for the little-used name to make an appearance. He has a pair of cufflinks with PTT engraved on them, patrick.toews@gmail.com forwards to 88pkane@gmail.com, sometimes he makes dinner reservations and makes sure the check-in name is Toews and sometimes he leaves romantic sticky notes on the bathroom mirror signing them PT with a flourish.

This is not any of those things though. As soon as he steps onto the ice this is significantly less secret than going home every night to their shared condo and the rings they can only wear during the summer at the lake and a marriage license on file in Toronto with only their initials. This isn’t even close to anything they’ve ever done before.

This is Patrick wearing the red home jersey, the Indian Head, his lucky socks, intentionally marked with Johnny’s name, for the entire UC to see.

It adds an extra zip down his spine because it feels different, he can tell that it’s something outside of normal.

There’s only one more letter across his back but the weight sitting against his pads is different, it feels like it stretches further across his shoulders. His normal game jersey hangs loose and soft, comfortably worn from a season of industrial washing machines. This one is new, still a little stiff and missing the worn in comfort that he’s used to.

Nobody notices at first. Which makes skating around taking warmups extra strange. It’s not until Sharpy gives him a couple of extra cross-checks while they’re waiting in line to shoot that he hears Bicks choke a little on his pre-game stick of bubblegum.

“Oh shit,” Bicks coughs while Patrick slots into the point and takes off down the ice with the puck.

The rumbling starts then, the guys on the ice pointing and people in the stands noticing something’s different. Patrick swears he can almost hear trending twitter topics spinning up, photos being taken and distributed, hashtags being created while he’s sliding the puck through Razor’s five-hole and jumping to slam his Toews-marked back against the familiar glass of the UC in celebration.

Sharpy matches him stride for stride as they circle back to center ice, jostling his shoulder as they skate side-by-side. “Makin’ a statement huh Peeks,”

Patrick feels his cheeks heat without his permission, “maybe a little,” he shrugs.

Sharpy raps his stick against Patrick’s shinguards and moves to take his place.

On the way off the ice Johnny shoves him into the trainers room and presses their mouths together quick and nasty and just the way Patrick likes it right before a game. “I will kill you later,”

“With your dick right?” Patrick grins, the quicksilver dirty grin that’s just as likely to get him into unspeakable trouble as it is to get him laid.

Instead of answering, Johnny opts to press their mouths together one more time, sliding his tongue against Patrick’s and finishing with a dirty little nibble on his bottom lip. Patrick very manfully does not whine when Johnny shoves back out the door, but he does take an extra minute of deep breaths before he follows Johnny back out and into the room.

He can’t wear the jersey for the game, because it doesn’t work that way. He slips into the familiar standard-issue Kane jersey right before they take the ice, hanging the Toews jersey securely in his locker and maybe touching his fingers to it before he pops his helmet on and heads for the ice.

Johnny lights it up that night. On both ends of the ice. He starts with a goal so pretty that Patrick wants to write sonnets about it, he wants to remember which one is iambic pentameter and count the syllables and fit the words into something that equates to just how attracted he is to Johnny’s skill. Three shifts later Johnny hits one of the Wild rookies so cleanly that the UC bursts into spontaneous applause and Patrick thinks about how lucky he is to play in a city that cheers just as hard for bone-jarring hits as they do for overtime game-winners. Johnny follows up his first goal with a filthy, greasy-in-front-of-the-net, garbage goal and on the bench Patrick edits the sonnet in his brain to include a stanza about stubbornness.

Once Patrick is done writing mental poetry he picks up 2 assists.

So all-in-all it’s a pretty great night. The game is followed by a late dinner with a conglomeration of family and friends and teammates. They rehash the win, the entire pre-game warmup, all 4 scoring plays, photos are shared, everyone comments on Patrick’s secret keeping ability and on the visible, almost tangible shock in Johnny’s eyes when he realized exactly what was going on.

After dinner Johnny stretches an arm casually, possessively, across the back of Patrick’s chair. He’s deep in conversation with Pat Sr. about something, gesturing with his beer and listening intently while the girls chatter at the other end of the table.

Patrick’s warm and full and unspeakably comfortable with Johnny’s hand curled around the back of his neck and surrounded by the people he loves. They pile out of the restaurant, a noisy, loving group and head in separate directions toward home. They promise to meet both sets of parents for breakfast and walk the 2 blocks to the car, hands clasped together again.

If they barely make it through the front door of their condo before Johnny’s positively tearing into his clothes in search of skin, well that’s just between the two of them. They’re married after all.