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Rollercoaster Romance

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Pat hates roller-coasters.

Just…throwing that out there.

He actually likes fast rides, and he certainly likes going upside down and shit like that, but when those two very distinct things combine, his stomach revolts. Violently.

So yeah, he’s a fucking bummer at amusement parks, sue him.

Pat tries—he tries especially hard when going on dates, because puking on a girl is as far from sexy as anyone can get. But amusement parks are usually date suggestion number two, right after dinner and a movie, and Pat is physically incapable of backing down from a hot girl issuing a challenge, even if she has no idea why her innocent idea suddenly activated Pat’s beast mode.

Now, Pat hasn’t been to Knott’s Berry Farm in…years. Like, actual years. Possibly more like a decade. Or two. The only reasons to go are the rollercoasters, which Pat’s body cannot handle, and Fright World or Scary Night, whatever the fuck it’s called, which is also all the nope. Pat doesn’t like random dudes jumping at him from the dark, okay? And fuck Seabs for laughing, because it was totally manly to scream when a damned bloody psychopath runs at you with a hunting knife.

But the girl asked and Pat, horny like a fucking moose in heat, agreed.

It’s like Candy’s psychic or some shit because, as soon as he buys the tickets, she bee-lines for the biggest loop-dee-loop roller-coaster in the whole place. The line’s almost as massive as the structure itself, and Pat watches the rickety little carts slam down a total vertical drop the size of the Empire State Building with his heart in his throat.

Fuck.

Bad idea, this was such a bad fucking idea.

No, stop, he can totally do this. His dick is adamant. He’ll just…swallow down the vomit. The whole time. And won’t breathe. Opening his eyes and moving in his chair could set him off too. If he just stays completely still and ignores all those pesky bodily functions liking blinking and sweating, then he should be fine.

Just…fine.

Fuck he’s going to embarrass himself.

“We’re next!” Candy squeals, her small hands jittering around his bicep. “I’m so excited, this is literally my favorite ride in the whole world!”

“Awesome,” Pat says numbly.

“Which one is your favorite?”

Pat panics immediately, because answers like “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “The Carousel” are the exact opposite of what Pat needs to be today. Which is cool, and sexy, and potentially dateable. He’s saved from outright wheezing straight into a panic attack when the attendant waves them forward. Only the attendant waves them forward, which means they’re boarding the ride, which means that, in the next minute, Pat will be in one of those rickety cars free-falling down the biggest damn slope he’s ever seen.

Oh god.

He must black out or something because next thing Pat knows, he’s strapped into a giant green bucket seat and halfway up the first hill. His chest seizes in terror. “We’re almost at the top!” Candy laughs, and Pat can only stare into her delighted blue eyes, unable to control whatever his own face is doing. Gradually, her smile dims. “Patty? Are you okay?”

They crest, and Pat jumps when the car clicks into place.

Somehow, they’re in the second row of the first car, and Pat stares past the guy in front of him down the long, long, very long drop they’re about to plummet off of. His body has already begun straining against his harness. “I need to get off,” he whispers hoarsely, because nope. All the nope. He was wrong before, when his dick assured him that this roller-coaster wouldn’t be so bad. It is that bad. In fact, it’s actually worse than Pat thought.

Pat cannot do this.

“Let me off,” he gasps, struggling with his harness. “Let me off, let me off, let me off—”

The guy in front of him starts to turn around, and Pat glimpses this huge frown that somehow conveys both concern and supreme annoyance, before—

Click.

Pat has a fraction of a second—no more than a heartbeat really—of sanity left before the car drops with all the speed of falling fucking objects and the inevitable happens.

He throws up.

Right in the concerned guy’s handsome face.

*

“Are you kidding me?” the guy demands as soon as they get off the coaster.

Pat may be dry heaving into the nearest trashcan, but he can totally see that the dude’s gone that extra step beyond anger into pure Hulk rage. He’s attempting to wipe chunks of half-digested scrambled egg from his face with a towel passed over by one of the attendants.

Pat should feel bad about that, but really?

Really dude?

“I just—fucking got sick—on a ride!” Pat shouts hoarsely, his face still firmly buried in the trash can. “How—is that—my fault!”

“Why were you on the fucking ride in the first place?” the guy roars. “I just arrived here and now I have to leave because my god damned clothes are ruined thanks to one overeager idiot trying to impress the girl he wants to bang!”

“Hey!” Candy yelps from—somewhere, Pat can’t actually see her. She’s yet to speak to him and Pat has the distinct feeling that she’s calling for a ride already.

Because Pat drove her here. And now he’s clearly not suitable dating material.

Tears prick at the corner of Pat’s eyes, because fuck. Fuck!

He’s so god damned sick of being single. So, so damned sick of waking up alone in the morning, of coming home to an empty fucking apartment, of having nowhere to go because no one’s available to go with him. Sure, having a new girl every night seemed awesome, like, ten years ago. Pat’s almost thirty now. All his friends are married or about to be. He’s the third fucking wheel no matter who he’s with, and it sucks.

Actually, Pat takes that back. It doesn’t suck—it’s missing suck. Pat wants suckage, preferably every night before bedtime and twice on Sundays. The stress relief alone would do wonders for his tendency to occasionally cry himself to sleep.  

Pat buries his head deeper in the trashcan and hides his frustrated scream with the next dry heave.

“And what the fuck are you doing?” the guy suddenly snarls, turning on Candy like a pissed off cat who’s just had their tail stepped on. Or, you know, some random stranger vomiting in their face. “That’s your boyfriend, right?”

“Not after today,” Candy huffs, which, Pat knew that, but ouch. Way to twist the knife. “He’s, like, good in bed or whatever but so not boyfriend material.”

And that finally brings Pat’s head out of the trash can. The guy’s frozen somewhere in between them and, okay, he’s way more covered than Pat thought. There’s wet spots all down the back of his tight blue shirt and he still has a little egg in his hair. The look on his face screams limb ripping is in the near future, but Pat’s not exactly afraid despite the dude’s massive hands. No, something tells him that the guy’s angry, yeah, but not violent—not like Pat’s father. The girl behind him looks vaguely amused by this whole fiasco and also, incidentally, has her phone out taping it all. Pat’s tempted to wave, but Candy’s still glaring at the guy with her pink nails tapping against her biceps. “We’ve…never slept together?” Pat checks, because he’s made that mistake before.

Thankfully, she rolls her eyes and Pat can breathe a sigh of short lived relief. “Of course not. You slept with my best friend Denise. She said I should give you a shot because you put out on the first date.”

He has no idea who this Denise person is.

“Wait,” the guy demands, looking at Candy in disgust, “you’re going to bail right now? Because he won’t put out?”

“He will,” Candy replies with calm assurance like she knows how good she looks in that mini skirt. “I just don’t want him to. Like, seriously, vomit breath anyone?”

“For fuck’s sake lady, he’s sick.”

“Still gross. If he can’t handle one little rollercoaster—” Pat looks wryly up at the towering structure behind them, with people screaming by ever thirty seconds or so. “—then frankly he’s not good enough for me.”

Pat looks down to see the guy trembling in place with this huge vein like, totally bulging in his neck. It’s…Pat should probably say scary, but it isn’t.

It really…really isn’t.

So, rewind. Pat’s done dudes before. Not his preference, and girls are usually the path of least resistance anyway, but Pat occasionally likes the D. Forward to the present and this dude is exactly the type Pat usually goes for—tall and strong and bull-headed, because Pat has this weird love of fighting that’s probably as unhealthy as it sounds, but leads to awesome make-up sex and even awesomer passion-tension, like a shot of fucking heroin or something, all adrenaline and morbid psychedelic trips. He loves that shit.

He thought Candy might provide that for him, but it turns out she’s just a—

“—selfish, morally-shallow bitch!” the random hot guy Pat just threw up on finishes screaming. Can anyone say anger management over here?

Although the look of shock on Candy’s face has picked Pat’s mood up like nothing else could. He straightens slowly from his scrunched up crouch and wipes his hand over his mouth. Candy glances over at just that second and Pat can’t help but wave with his vomit-covered palm.

“Whatever,” she huffs. “This was the worst date ever, Kane. Don’t fucking call me.”

“Tell your slaggy best friend I said hi!”

She flips him off over her shoulder as she storms away, leaving Pat alone with the dude he threw up on and his quietly laughing girlfriend. Without another outlet, the man turns immediately to Pat. His eyes are, frankly, gorgeous, if a little serial killer with an axe too.

Damn the obviously straight bastard.

“Look, I’m sorry about the whole blowing chunks thing—”

The guy cuts him off with a fist in Pat’s collar, jerking him up the few inches necessary to glare at him nose to nose. “You’re paying for my shirt,” he snarls. “And my fucking ticket.”

“What about mine, Jonny?” the girl giggles.

He turns to no doubt scathingly tear her apart when he sees her phone and pales. “No.”

“Oh yes,” she says gleefully.

The guy, now known as Jonny, drops Pat like he’s on fire. “C’mon Lindsay, please,” he groans. “No one needs to see this, least of all my family.”

She hums even as her fingers keep tapping away at her phone. Pat belatedly realizes that she’s gorgeous too, with a giant rock on her left ring finger. They’re married? Double damn everything. Pat clearly should not have left the house today. “I think you mean our family,” she corrects absently.

“You know Dave will never let me live this down, right?”

Lindsay just starts laughing. There’s this adorable little honk in the middle that Pat didn’t expect from someone so polished and fine. Jonny seems rather invigorated by it anyway, or maybe he’s plotting how to steal her phone and delete the evidence. Either way, he’s no longer looking at Pat. Now’s the only chance he’s going to get.

If he runs, the guy will catch him at the next trashcan Pat will inevitably bend over, so Pat just…edges backwards.

The guy’s head whips around immediately. Fuck, what the hell is with his peripheral vision? “Oh no you don’t,” he snarls and, as one of his monster paws reaches toward Pat’s face, Pat decides to fuck everything.

He runs.

*

By the time the Knott’s security people catch up to them, Pat has been rabbit punching the guy’s side for a good two minutes, but his abs are clearly made of brick because dude does nothing more than grunt and squeeze his massive bicep around Pat’s neck harder.

He only starts breathing again when the security people tackle them to the ground.

So, jail’s nice. Sure, there’s a giant Santa-looking mother fucker glaring at them from the corner, and easily the creepiest little goth kid Pat has ever seen mumbling to himself in the dead center of the tiny cell, but Pat feels totally comfortable slumping against Jonny’s vomit-stained shirt and begging a nap. Jonny snorts in disgust but doesn’t actually shove him away. “Jail,” he mutters bitterly. “How long until this ends up on Deadspin?”

“Dead-what?” Pat slurs. That sounds vaguely familiar to him.

The guy glares down at Pat and says, “You have no idea who I am,” with unsmiling conviction. “Let’s keep it that way.”

To say that piques his interest would be a total understatement.

“Should I?” he demands. “Did I vomit on and pick a fight with a famous person?”

“Yes,” Santa grunts from his own bench across the cell. “He’s the Blackhawks Captain. Toews, right? Can you sign my shirt before we leave?”

“Sure,” the dude sighs. “I don’t have a pen.”

“I do,” the creepy goth teen hisses. Pat instinctively flinches away from the dirty hand he thrusts at their faces and, incidentally, the leaking sharpie covered in nasty old hair. Jonny takes the pen without flinching and replies, “Thanks,” before getting up and signing Santa’s greasy shirt like it’s a thing he does every day.

Shit, does he do that every day? Wait, Blackhawks, Blackhawks. Are they some random small sports team, like soccer or lacrosse?

Pat squints at the guy, seeing massive thighs and a fuck off huge ass. Probably soccer then.

“Figures,” he says sourly when Jonny sits back down. “My first date in forever and I not only throw up on a dude in front of my potential girlfriend who immediately dumps my ass, but a famous dude. I’m never going to get laid again.”

“I cannot believe you actually threw up on me,” Jonny grunts. Pat watches his hands curl into fists that should be on some kind of superhero or something, because they look ready to punch through walls. Or maybe just Pat’s head. He shuts his eyes so he won’t see it coming. Quick death. “Who goes to a park like that when they know they can’t handle rollercoasters?”

“Someone who’s been single so long he’s started crying himself to sleep at night?”

The guy snorts sharply, which, whatever, that’s reasonable. “Because making a fucking fool of yourself is a sure fire way to land a girlfriend. Right, I see the logic.”

“Oh fuck you Mister Supermodel Wife!”

Jonny leans forward, prompting Pat to open his eyes because what does the fucker want now? “You know she’s a supermodel,” he says slowly with a strange look on his face that Pat cannot for the life of him identify, “but you have no idea who I am?”

For the record, he does not lift his head off Jonny’s shoulder because this shit will never, ever happen again so long as he lives, and Pat will take cuddling with a handsome dude who hates him over sitting cold and alone in a jail cell made of ice and human tears. Instead, Pat shifts his head just enough to glare up at Jonny’s gorgeous fucking face. “So she’s actually a supermodel. Perfect. And no, genius, I don’t know who the fuck she is. But handsome famous dude plus supernaturally good-looking woman with a massive rock on her finger usually equals four.”

The guy’s eyebrows shoot up.

“Oh, don’t give me that look. I’m not that fucking stupid.”

“From where I’m sitting, yeah, you are,” Jonny grumbles. But he sits back against the freezing stone wall without giving Pat any more weird looks, so whatever. Although Pat seriously hates the guy for somehow still being comfortable in this pit of ice while Pat’s mildly terrified that he’s about to lose his toes to frostbite. Well, whatever. Jonny’s strange tolerance for cold temperatures means more body heat for Pat. He can swallow all his angry retorts if it means human heater over here stays pressed up against him. Vomit stink be damned.

They sit there in sullen silence as both Santa and the creepy goth kid are released and a new, slovenly drunk brought in. She twirls around the room like a ballerina on PCP for a few minutes before collapsing facedown at their feet and passing out.

Without talking about it, both he and Jonny move to the opposite bench.

“Should I ask for an autograph?” Pat muses when they’re settled.

The guy drops his head back against the wall like he’s just done with this whole day and possibly life in general. “What makes you think I’ll agree?”

Pat shrugs. “This day has been so much shit that I don’t even care anymore. Clearly I’m going to die alone in my empty apartment and no one will find my body for, like, ten years. Least I can do is die with something totally worth money to leave my family.”

“I’m not that famous.”

“Obviously, since I don’t know who the fuck you are.” Pat looks again at those monstrous thighs and hands. “Athlete? Uh, soccer maybe?”

Jonny’s eyes pop open. “No,” he says with obvious amusement, and Pat totally sees him watching Pat with his fucking awesome peripherals.

Peripherals, peripherals… “Some kind of throwing shit? Like, uh, polo?”

The guy laughs a bit. “No.”

“Fuck.” Pat scrubs a hand through his hair and slumps against Jonny trying to think. What other random sports does he know exist? Pat’s never been much of a sports guy, so the list is disturbingly short. “Lacrosse? Rugby? Football?”

“You don’t watch football?” the guy says instead of answering, and Pat thinks ha! Got you. “I thought everyone in this country watched football.”

“Well of course I do,” Pat admits grudgingly. “It’s like, always fucking on everywhere I go, but I don’t know all the damn play—” Wait what? Pat sits up and looks the dude firmly in the face. He doesn’t look or talk like he’s foreign. “This country?” Pat demands suspiciously.

Jonny smirks and says, “I’m Canadian.”

Pat feels an instant and all-abiding hatred for the maple leaf. He must share this. Immediately. “I hate Canada.”

They’re struggling against each other for the second time when an officer comes to collect them. Somehow, Pat made bail too, and he smugly signs every piece of paper they throw his way despite the clearly preferential treatment Jonny’s getting in another room. Football, definitely, although Pat never knew the NFL farmed people from other fucking countries.

Whatever. Pat will tell this to his children.

Hypothetically, at any rate. Dude’s still single up in here.

Pat signs the last form with a scowl. “You’re free to go,” the bored officer tells him with as much enthusiasm as fast food people telling you to have a nice day. Pat says a nonsensical “you too” and leaves.

It’s almost dark outside which shocks him, because he arrived at Knott’s like, five hours ago.

Candy’s probably long since moved on to some other dude who can hold his chunks. She’s beautiful enough to have guys lined down the block and apparently picked Pat only because he’s great in bed. Fat load of good that does him on the dating front. Maybe his approach is wrong? He should, like, stop hitting on people in bars. Try…something else.

Fuck, how do you even meet people anymore?

“Hey, wait up!”

“Oh Jesus,” Pat groans, because that’s Jonny the fucking famous person flagging him down. “What do you want now? I’m not paying for your damn shirt or ticket or whatever.”

Jonny slows to a graceful stop and glares down at Pat from his place of shaky moral authority. Pat’s not the one putting people in headlocks, just saying. “You should pay for everything,” Jonny snaps rather rudely. “But I won’t make you because sitting in jail smelling like we do is more than enough punishment.” Pat actually forgot about the smell for a minute there. Thanks for the reminder Jonny. “Here.” He holds out a police brochure on domestic violence.

“…dude, what the fuck?” Domestic violence? What the fuck is he trying to say?

“You asked me to sign something,” Jonny growls in annoyance and, oh yeah, that thing. “If you don’t want it—”

“Gimme!” Pat snatches the brochure with gusto. Famous person signature. He rocks! It’s hard to see the actual writing because black on blue for reals, but Pat sees a looping scrawl of ink that brings an unbidden smile to his face. Something to tell his sisters when they call on Friday. “Thanks man. I needed a pick-me-up after…all this.”

“…Sure. Yeah. I’m, uh, gunna leave. Before this ends up on the news.”

“Please, you’re not newsworthy,” Pat scoffs. “I’m sure you’re like, fifth string or whatever. Riding the bench. Oh, oh, are you a waterboy? Please tell me you’re a waterboy.”

“No, I’m not a waterboy,” Jonny says, looking—something. Pat’s never seen that face on people outside his family so…yeah. Can’t quite make it out. He squints at Jonny mistrustfully until the larger man abruptly laughs. He has a nice goddamned voice on top of everything else. “You should find better girls to date. That last one wasn’t great.”

“Please, Imma go back to guys for a minute, get a little of my wounded pride back. Girls are so good at wrecking a man’s self-esteem.”

Okay yeah, Pat knows that look. People are all up with the uncomfortable shock when he admits the bisexuality thing. Not that Pat gives a fuck. He is who he is and let everyone else worry about it. He stopped trying to please strangers right around the time strangers started judging him for shit he couldn’t help. Like his fucked up half-curl hair that refuses to obey the laws of physics, or his two left feet when he dances or, yeah, his sexuality.

Bastards.

Pat scowls up at the colossal douchebag and says, “Yeah. How ‘bout them apples, Casanova with the Supermodel wife.”

“She’s not my wife,” Jonny says with that same dumb look on his face. “She’s my sister-in-law.”

“Wait, your brother married that?” Pat demands. “You’re the famous person and somehow he lands the supermodel? What the fuck is wrong with you, dude?”

Jonny continues to stare at him like he’s an alien from another planet come to probe the guy’s magnificent fucking ass. At least he’s not, you know, bolting for the hills. “This is…surreal. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t know my life story.”

“Arrogant much?”

“My brother’s famous too.”

“Oh, well, that makes it all better then doesn’t it?” Pat snaps, because Jesus. “Is your dad by chance the President of Canada? Should I expect to see your mom on the cooking channel baking some fucking soufflé like a pro? Seriously, what? What the fuck secret am I missing out on right now?”

“My dad’s an electrician.”

“A famous one though, am I right?”

“No.”

Pat throws his hands up, because he is now officially done with all this shit. Meeting famous people is obviously overrated. And also never happening ever again. Like, ever. Pat will live as a hermit in the woods before he goes through this a second time.

“Whatever, I’m done with this,” he sighs. “Thanks for the signature, I guess. I’ll sell it on ebay for ten dollars.”

“You wanna come to my hotel room?” Jonny asks out of the blue and, oh.

Oh my god.

Pat looks again, looks closer, and sees for the first time that this dude is actually interested in Pat’s shit. Like, Pat threw up on the guy, rabbit punched his spleen, and got him thrown in jail. They should not be standing on the steps of a police station at whatever o’clock talking about hooking up, but it’s happening anyway, and Pat’s so horny he thinks his balls are about to self-destruct. The police brochure in his hand crumples. “Uh…” he looks behind himself just in case Jonny’s talking to someone else. “Sure?”

Which is obviously how he ends up on his back screaming abuse at a guy he doesn’t know.

At least professional athletes are good for something other than primetime television—dude has awesome stamina.

*

“Here,” Jonny says around a yawn come morning. The scrap of paper in his hand looks ridiculously pathetic with its little pink swirls and shit. Then again, this here’s an expensive fucking hotel. Pat’s surprised the paper’s not made out of gold.

“What’s this?” Pat asks dubiously as he takes it.

Jonny rolls onto his feet—naked, Jesus—and cracks his neck with a groan. “My cell number.”

Sure enough, there’s nine little digits scrawled there in truly horrendous chicken scratch, and Pat stares. And stares. And maybe feels a tiny bit warm. “You’re…giving me your number? Why?”

The guy stops halfway across the room and looks at Pat over his shoulder like he cannot believe they slept together last night. Pat can totally see the scratches down Jonny’s back and the finger shaped bruises on his hips and ass. He’s more than just a little warm now. “You have to ask? We slept together and I’m giving you my number. Connect the dots, genius.”

“Hey! I’ve never been in a relationship that lasted longer than two weeks. Give me some time to catch up here!”

“You have until I get out of the shower,” he deadpans before spinning on his heel and disappearing into the bathroom like a boss, leaving Pat alone in a massive bed surrounded by empty water bottles because that’s just how famous people roll, apparently.

Pat should totally get up and just leave his ass.

But also, that ass.

Not to mention his own ass, which is sore as fuck, but in the good way that means Pat will still be riding this high tomorrow and possibly the day after. Good sex does that to him.

Oh, who’s the fuck’s he kidding? Great, amazing, mind-blowing sex does that to him.

He stares at the scrap of paper in his hand with Jonny’s number and thinks, am I just a booty call? Or…?

Pat, being Pat, asks when Jonny returns from the shower.

“Or…?” Jonny responds slowly like a fucking asshole as he towels his hair dry. His body looks even more ridiculous dripping wet in nothing but a skimpy white towel. Pat wants to lick him all over.

He swallows back a truly sad amount of drool and forces his eyes up a couple feet before he does something he regrets. Like beg the dude to stay. “Or can I, you know—hang—I mean not hang, obviously, because that’s—but yeah, like—”

“This is absolutely the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced,” Jonny sighs, “and I get hit for a living.”

Football, Pat so totally nailed it. “Can we?”

“What, date? Sure.” Jonny throws the towel down amongst his water bottle army and goes rummaging in his big black suitcase for a pair of boxers. Pat’s so sad to see that ass go. “It’ll have to be on the quiet because I’m not out publicly, but my family and the team know. If that’s alright with you?”

Pat stares at Jonny because seriously? Seriously?

“Dude, are you kidding me?” Pat demands, and Jonny’s head shoots up like he’s actually worried about this which, fuck him, alright? Pat does what he damn well wants. “I’m a perpetually single guy who satisfies his empty soul with one night stands. Like fuck am I gunna say no to someone who actually wants to give me a shot!”

It’s kind of nice the way Jonny’s shoulders instantly sag in what Pat assumes to be relief. He returns to digging around his suitcase for clothes and Pat should probably stop lounging in the dude’s bed all naked and shit, but these sheets are silk or something, and they feel really damn nice against all his bruises, so Pat stays. Also, the view is baller. He watches Jonny pull out a plain white shirt and some baggy blue basketball shorts, an extra toothbrush—which he pointedly tosses on the bed like Pat isn’t well aware of his own stink—and the phone in question.

“Besides which,” Pat continues, because why the fuck not? “How sure are you that I won’t put your number on the internet?”

“Been there,” Jonny says casually. “Changing my number sucks, but I can do it again if need be.” He frowns down at the screen and taps away like he hasn’t a care in the world. “Also, I’ll sue you for all you’re worth just on principle.”

“Message received.”

Jonny tosses the phone on the nightstand and starts stretching his gorgeous body in nothing but his underwear like a goddamned tease.

Pat watches without saying another word, because he’s not fucking stupid.

*

Jonny’s phone starts blowing up right around the time Pat determines that he cannot and will not ever find anyone better to date than this aggro douchebag. After Jonny’s gloriously long workout, they have sex—twice—before Jonny rings up for food. Pat showers, spends a good ten minutes licking Jonny’s shoulders just because he can, which leads to more sex, which leads to both of them deciding to fuck life and stay in for the rest of the day. They play games on the hotel’s console and Pat laughs himself sick after each one, win or lose, because this man sitting next to him is the most competitive fucking person Pat has ever seen. He’s so ridiculously cute about it that Pat just has to kiss him.

And, well, we all know where that leads.

So Pat’s sore and exhausted and having the absolute best time of his life when Jonny’s phone starts ringing.

And ringing. And ringing. And ringing.

Jonny pops out from under the covers looking murderous. “This better be a goddamned end of the world emergency.”

His mouth, swollen and pretty, clearly has some kind of hypnotic power. Pat can’t help but occupy it for another few minutes until the ringing becomes literally unbearable. It’s awesome though, how reluctant Jonny is to pull away. Also awesome is the way he yells, “What?!” into his phone like he’s one second away from—“Shit, Duncs, really? Why would they do that? No, no, I get it. I’ll be right down. Damn it.” He turns to Pat and says, “They moved our flight up a few hours. I have to leave.”

“Oh.”

Well, that ended quickly.

Pat slumps back into bed with a small sound he refuses to call a whimper and hates himself for hoping. “Where are you going?” he asks dully as Jonny starts rustling around the room.

“Phoenix. We’ve got a game day after tomorrow.”

“Right…” Pat stares at the ceiling and tries not to feel anything. “Good luck, I guess.”

“You guess?” Jonny’s handsome face appears above him with a small frown and, Jesus, his lips are still so pretty. Sue Pat for stealing one last little kiss.

Okay, maybe not so little.

“Have to—go,” Jonny pants in between fervent, deep, let me check your tonsils with my tongue kisses. “Seriously, they’ll come get me if I—” Pat catches Jonny’s lower lip between his teeth and flutters his eyelashes dramatically until Jonny laughs. “Not fair, baby.”

Baby.

Pat refuses to squirm like a little girl. Refuses.

Jonny comes in for one last make out and the way his big hand clutches at Pat’s neck is just—something. A whole lot of something. “Text me so I have your number,” he orders when he’s finished wrecking Pat’s world. “I’ll call as soon as we land.”

“Phone sex?” Pat says hopefully, because that’s usually the best he gets out of these types of situations.

But Jonny shakes his head and kisses Pat again, again and again, and Pat maybe swoons a little. “Sure, if you want. Could also talk. I live in Chicago so we’d have to work out a plan to see each other—”

Who needs air, right?

Pat throws all his limbs into pulling Jonny back to bed and holding him there, but it’s nice that Jonny goes down easy, like he was just as desperate to grab Pat as Pat was to be grabbed. “Have to go,” Jonny gasps, still kissing Pat anyway. “Please, I really—I don’t want to, baby, but I really fucking—” As if to prove him right, the phone starts ringing again, and Pat clutches hard at Jonny’s stupid short hair until he winces. He tells whoever’s on the line that he’s coming god damn it, before diving back for Pat’s mouth.

Pat has been told before that he has a great mouth. It’s working in his favor today.

“I’ll call,” Jonny pants. “I will. Soon as I land, baby, I promise.”

“I’m holding you to that,” Pat replies hoarsely when his next attempt to kiss Jonny makes Jonny pull away. “Seriously, if you don’t call I’ll spread your number all over Craigslist like a douche and then where will you be?”

“Out a ridiculously cute boyfriend, apparently,” Jonny replies wryly and—what—no. That isn’t—

Oh my god.

“Fly safe,” Pat says weakly, and he’s terrified of the shit that’s probably spilling all over his face right now, but Jonny just leans down with another groan for one last desperate, bruising kiss.

He pulls away like it’s killing him. “Stay here as long as you like. I’ll pay…whatever.”

“Even if I order that ridiculous three-hundred-dollar ice cream thing?”

Jonny rolls his eyes with that look on his face, that weird look Pat’s never really been able to place but seems suspiciously like fondness. “Whatever you want, baby. I can afford it.”

So, whatever, right?

Pat swoons, Jonny leaves, and that’s it. Pat somehow landed a boyfriend.

*

Jonny picks up with an absentminded, “Yeah baby, what’s up,” and no. All the fucking no.

“You make over $10 million a year,” Pat hisses. He’s staring at this—this fucking huge website of Jonathan Toews knowledge and it’s—just—“There’s a lake named after you! And you have, like, ten trophies!”

“Baby—”

“What the fuck, Jonny!” Pat roars.

Jonny’s quiet for a long minute, letting Pat regain his breath because man, he hasn’t yelled like that in a long damn time, before saying in a flat voice, “You’re just looking up who I am? Now, after almost two months.”

“It—It wasn’t a priority, okay?” because it wasn’t. In fact, Pat sort of forgot Jonny was famous after the whole, you know, distance relationship thing. They skyped and called and once, amazingly, Jonny burst into Pat’s apartment like a mad demon and sexed him up on the paisley couch that Pat fucking loves like burning. Apparently, he got some time after the game but before boarding the plane. It was the best two hours of Pat’s life.

So yeah, Pat forgot. And he still kind of thought Jonny made a couple thou being some back up football thrower person with amazing legs. He never thought Captain of a national team who’s actually won shit, and has rings and trophies and—

“You have an Olympic gold medal!” Pat squeaks.

“Two, actually. Plus others from—why does this matter all of a sudden?”

“I’m looking at a giant ass mural of your face, that’s why!” Because he didn’t expect to look down at a magazine and see his boyfriend’s face there, much less a thirty-foot-tall one painted by some dude over the course of days. So, yeah, he rushed over to Google because what the fuck, and there it all was. Jonathan Toews, hockey prodigy, internationally recognized world-class athlete, and an all-around Big Fucking Deal.

He’s also the guy who mumbles, “I hate that damn mural,” like it’s nothing, like this shit happens to him all the time and he’s so done with it all, and Pat has rather enjoyed how little Jonny cares about his own fame.

Knowing exactly how fucking famous he is only makes that quality even better, except—

“You’re so far out of my league,” Pat admits in absolute horror and, oh shit, now he’s crying. “Like, you should be dating Calvin Klein or something, not—not—”

“Not a guy who cares so little about my fame that he didn’t bother to look me up for two months? Yeah, Pat, that’s just too awful to bear. You’re a terrible boyfriend for liking me instead of my paycheck,” Jonny says in a total deadpan voice. “Seriously baby, I’m still the same person. I…I don’t want this to change anything.”

Pat has a decision here.

He sees it now, in a way that he never has before—not that day at Knott’s, when Candy asked him onto the rollercoaster, not when he texted Jonny with shaking fingers for the first time, not even when he saw Jonny’s name on his screen four hours later and hesitated. There’s this—moment, when the world branches out into two distinct paths. Pat could fucking bomb like he always does. He could throw up on some random dude less than an hour into his date or—or he could pick up the fucking phone.

Pat scrolls past all the paragraphs upon paragraphs of information about his boyfriend to the pictures—Jonny in a bright red jersey, Jonny lifting a giant silver cup thing that’s probably important, Jonny with his arms around some awkward looking dude with a huge nose, both of them holding thick gold medals.

Take away what he’s doing in each of them and every picture is just…Jonny.

Perfect, amazing, beautiful Jonny.

“Of course this changes things,” Pat says hoarsely, his lips wobbling. “You—you can afford to put me up in Chicago till I find another job, and—and we can go to Europe, because I’ve always wanted to go to Europe. And whatever this weird silver cup thing is, I want to fucking hold it, okay? That’s non-negotiable.”

“Okay baby, yeah,” Jonny says immediately, and he sounds so damn relieved all of a sudden that Pat just—“Whatever you want. I’ll win this year just for you.”

“Okay,” Pat repeats, and “I’ll hold you to that,” when what he really wants to say is “I think I’m in love with you.”

*

Jonny has a huge ass condo.

Like, so huge Pat could probably live here for a year without Jonny noticing.

Pat wanders around the place for a good hour—touching pictures, grabbing at books and, yes, throwing away a shit ton of water bottles. Jonny follows on bare feet with yet another damn water bottle and Pat vows, right then and there, to buy him a giant metal one for Christmas. Because plastic is bad for the environment or whatever.

“You like it?” Jonny asks with this really weird intense look, like he’s ready to legit throw his crap out the window if Pat says no.

“Yeah,” Pat says, because this place is the shit. “I’m gunna change stuff though. You okay with that?”

The intense stare turns into a small, pleased little smile that Pat’s never seen before but immediately loves more than any other look Jonny’s ever sported. “More than. Change anything you want.”

First things first, “My paisley couch, right here.” Pat points at the massive leather creature squatting in the center of Jonny’s primary living room, because rich people obviously need more than one living room. The giant leather beast is nice and huge and whatever, but nothing beats Pat’s paisley couch. “And I want a shelf for my games. And more than just a blender in the kitchen, okay, because protein shakes are not cool for dinner. Also, can we like, blow this wall out? Having the kitchen and living room combined would be super awesome for parties and shit.”

“Sure.”

“And I want a giant ass Christmas tree,” Pat demands. “Huge. Biggest one they sell. Right here.”

Jonny nods like an overeager bobble. “Alright.”

“And, um, maybe we could—you know—have some-some friends or family over and, um—”

Jonny finishes his water with a long swallow and sets it on the coffee table that Pat just cleaned off damn it before wrapping Pat in his arms. “I’d love for you to meet my parents. We’ll do Christmas in Chicago this year. I’m sure they won’t mind.”

Pat just has to kiss him for that.

And, well, we all know where that leads, right?

“Mmh, love you,” Pat purrs unthinkingly into Jonny’s sweaty hair, and his heart trips when Jonny just…lights up brighter than the Times Square Ball Drop.

“Love you too, baby,” he says immediately, like he means it, like he’s ready to throw down right here and now, blood bond and shit, and he’s so ridiculous that Pat can do nothing but adore him for all his weird intensity. “I—I never thought I would meet anyone like you. Or, well, anyone at all really.”

“Please,” Pat scoffs, because he’s seen the online message boards. “Fans love you.”

Jonny rolls over with a small groan and flops his head onto Pat’s shoulder. “Fans are the worst. They all expect you to be this—this person that you’re not. And they don’t know how to handle the unpleasant reality. Especially because I’m not out, and I couldn’t risk people spreading rumors—”

Pat rolls his eyes because he’s heard variations on this theme for months now and loudly says, “We interrupt this broadcast to remind you that you make $10.5 million a year, so who the fuck cares what everyone else thinks?”

“I could lose my job, Pat,” Jonny says seriously, which really puts a damper on things, but Pat knows now—he knows how important Jonny is, not just to Chicago, but the hockey world in general. Jonny’s name is up there with the other big ones that Pat has actually heard of before. He’s broken so many records that Wikipedia’s running out of space on their page. Pat knows that all of Jonny’s fears, while logical, will never actually come to pass. “The franchise has already agreed to back me up, but public pressure still has the power to push me out. If people stop attending games—”

“You win, Jonny,” Pat murmurs. “You win everything. A lot. That’s why they pay you more than anyone else in the League. Not even that weird gap toothed dude or the awkward guy you go to the Olympics with make more than you, and that’s because you’re worth it.”

Jonny sags against Pat to the point that it’s actually uncomfortable, because Jonny may not be as large as the pads make him out to be, but he’s dense and therefore really, really heavy. But Pat endures, because he’s in love with this idiot. “You’re worth it,” Jonny husks as if to prove Pat correct. “I love you so much it scares me sometimes. How fast you just…fit in my life. Fit me.”

“Yeah,” Pat says, because he understands that feeling far too intimately. He is also not crying. For the record. “Yeah baby, I know.”

“Is it too soon to ask you to marry me?”

“Yes!” Pat says with all the horror of a man who grew up with too many sisters and a mother who never differentiated between genders. He wildly looks at the closet with the full belief that she’ll jump out any minute asking him to try cake flavors. At Jonny’s hurt look, however, Pat continues, “but you know I’d say yes anyway, right? All the yes, always, if—if you, um, asked. For real.”

Placing his pointy little chin on Pat’s shoulder, Jonny stares up at Pat bemusedly and says, “I wouldn’t even get a prenup,” like a revelation.

It’s—sweet. Stupid, but Pat’s aware enough to realize how important it is for someone with a net worth of over $40 million to just…trust him like that.

Pat swallows and croaks, “Well, now I definitely can’t say no,” and Jonny starts laughing.

Pat loves when Jonny laughs, loves seeing all the little crinkles around his eyes, his stupid crooked teeth and bunchy cheeks and, best of all, the way that wrinkly spot between his eyebrows borne of frustration and aggro man pain suddenly just…vanishes. A literal erasure of all of Jonny’s bad feelings.

Because of something Pat did.

“Love you,” he repeats like a dope, sounding too serious even for Jonny, but Jonny keeps right on smiling and says, “I love you too, baby” and, well…

That’ll never get old.

*

Jonny wins the Cup thing and Pat’s there to see it.

He sees Jonny heft the trophy high above his head like it weighs nothing at all and, sure, Pat started out in the private box seat that Jonny paid for, but he’s somehow down on the ice when the champagne bottles pop and the confetti rains down the second time and camera bulbs start flashing. He shouldn’t be down here—Jonny made it clear that he’s not ready to come out publicly, but he still wants Jonny to know how proud he is, that he’s here and happy for Jonny, supportive.

Jonny spots him as he’s about to hand the Cup off to Duncs and, lighting up, he skates over, Cup still in hand. Duncs looks stunned, his arms outstretched awkwardly for a well-earned trophy that’s rapidly skating away, but not nearly as much as Pat.

“No,” he hisses, making cutting motions across his neck, but Jonny’s determined now, that intense goal-oriented look in his eye that Pat would hate if it wasn’t so damn cute, and he sprays snow onto Pat’s suit legs when he stops. The cameras are all over them. “Are you insane?” Pat says under his breath, eyes darting. Shit, shit, he knew he should’ve stayed in the fucking box.

“Totally,” Jonny answers with a laugh. “But I don’t even care.”

Which is how Pat ends up on the cover of every damn newspaper ever, because Jonny’s huge in his skates and it’s so obvious, so fucking obvious why he’s leaning down like that.

Pat hates him, except for how very much he doesn’t.

“Woo, you get it boy!” one of the guys yells and Pat would look, he really would, except oh—

Oh god.

“Love you,” Jonny sings as he deposits the Cup in Pat’s nervous hands. The thing weighs like, two of him. Bastard.

Pat struggles to lift it above his head the way he’s seen Jonny do but, fuck everything, he doesn’t live in the gym downstairs like someone else he could name, okay? And he’s totally not embarrassed when Jonny ducks down to help him lift it and steals another fucking kiss like he just can’t help himself, like he wants to keep kissing Pat forever.

Which, well, isn’t the worst thing that could happen.

“Sorry, sorry,” he says when Pat’s arms inevitably give out, and he hefts the thing easily as he tells the screaming reporters and horrified Blackhawks PR people, “I promised I’d win the Cup for my boyfriend. Figured he deserved part of the glory.”

And that’s basically their entire evening decided right there.

The cameras converge and someone maybe yells about Jonny stealing all the glory here, but Jonny’s laughing and smiling and literally all over Pat like he can’t bear to be anywhere else, and Pat’s…happy.

He’s really, really happy.

*

“Oh my god Jonny why?”

“I think it’s cute!” Jonny yells from the bathroom where Pat can totally hear him laughing around his toothbrush, but fuck him. Fuck everything really.

They made the front page.

Pat stares at the picture of him and Jonny lifting the Cup together. His suit’s wrinkled and his hair looks even more horrendous than usual and, oh yeah, he’s all wide-eyed because his boyfriend is kissing him like he wants to steal Pat’s air. The headline reads, “NHL STAR JONATHAN TOEWS DUCKS OUT OF THE CLOSET” because people are uncreative assholes, apparently.

Jonny’s totally ducking. Makes Pat look short which, fuck everything, he isn’t. Jonny’s only four inches taller than him.

“Jonny,” Pat whines. He drops the iPad on his face because ugh. He can’t look anymore. “Why didn’t you warn me?”

“Spur of the moment.”

“Liar! You can’t even go to the coffee shop without planning your whole route and where you’ll park and how many autographs you’ll sign before you tell the world to fuck off—”

“One time,” Jonny sighs as he comes out of the bathroom. Naked. Because he has no shame. Pat quickly forgets his own damn point in starting this argument. “I did that one time, Pat, and that’s only because we were in a hurry.”

“Sure, you say that now.” He makes grabby hands at all of Jonny’s perfection and watches happily as Jonny comes over immediately. Pat hooks his legs around Jonny’s naked ass just to make sure Jonny doesn’t get any ideas. Like leaving. Ever. “You have a plan for everything,” he tells Jonny’s gloriously smooth jaw. That beard needed to go a long time ago. Fucking weird sports superstitions. “I’m surprised there’s not a list in the bathroom detailing how to brush your teeth or wipe your ass after a dump.”

“How in the world did I land such a classy boyfriend?” Jonny muses wryly. Pat bites him in retaliation and delights in Jonny’s shiver. “Baby…”

“Hmm?” Pat hums smugly, his nails drawing gently down Jonny’s spine.

Jonny sighs, and he sounds so damn content all of a sudden that Pat wonders, what the fuck, where’d the sexy go, that it catches Pat completely off-guard when he says, “Marry me.”

“We already had this conversation,” Pat tells the ceiling in shock.

“Well, I’m cashing in,” Jonny says. His hands wander around to cup Pat’s ass and yank him up and in, as close as they can get without actually penetrating each other, and Jonny must be able to feel how damn hard Pat’s heart is beating now. Oh god. “Marry me. No jokes, just…seriously. Please.”

Pat swallows hard. “It hasn’t even been six months.”

“I don’t care.”

“The world’s going to freak out—is it even legal in Canada?”

“Don’t care, Pat.”

“But Jonny—”

“I love you,” Jonny interrupts, his voice hushed and reverent, “I really do, Pat. I can’t—see myself feeling this way about anyone else. Please, baby.”

“I—I threw up on you,” Pat says in a small voice he immediately hates, but Pat is not this lucky. He just isn’t. He’s the dude people want to party with or have for a night. Guys call him for a ride at three in the morning and girls ask him to hold their purse while they fix their make-up and maybe go buy them a drink, okay? Pat’s not dateable much less marriageable. He’s just…not that guy people want to spend their whole lives with.

He slumps into Jonny dejectedly, wanting to say yes so badly but feeling like he should say no, for Jonny’s sake, only Jonny’s not having it. He grabs Pat by the back of the neck and pulls him up so hard their noses crash together. Jonny’s face has every aggro intense thought he’s ever had written all over it. “Listen to me carefully because I’m only gunna say this once,” Jonny demands roughly, “I’m so fucking happy you threw up on me. I’m happy you got me arrested and my PR lady screamed at me for two hours and I had to apologize not only to the press by my scandalized mother. I would do it again right now, a thousand times over, if it meant you’d marry me. I want you.” He runs his hand through Pat’s unruly curls and presses the sweetest little kiss to Pat’s trembling lips. “I want you so much I can barely breathe, baby. I want your ridiculous insults and your bad fashion sense and the way you keep trying to push me away just to see if I come back. The—the lake and the medals and the money don’t mean anything if you’re not there to make fun of me for it. Pat, Patrick, please.”

“Your name is stupid,” is what Pat comes up with.

The way Jonny smiles is a lot like the sun coming out after a storm, and Pat can’t help but sniffle wet and gross at how happy Jonny looks. “I’ll take your name then, I don’t care.”

“No, I want your stupid name!” Pat decides on a whim. “I want to sign all our Christmas cards with P and J Toews and wear your stupid red jersey non-ironically and have a giant fucking rock on my left ring finger damn it!”

And Jonny beams at Pat like Patrick is everything he’s ever wanted and says, “Whatever you want, baby. I can afford it.”

Pat snorts through his manly happy tears and mutters, “Asshole.”

But he buys the most expensive fucking ring in the jewelry store the next day just on principle, and who gives a shit if they make the front page again, this time with people calling Pat a gold digger. He doesn’t care about the goddamned money—the money only matters because it’s Jonny’s money, Jonny’s hard work and intense psycho focus and four months off out of the year because fuck yeah, that’s awesome. He even frames and hangs the domestic violence pamphlet Jonny signed when they first met and screw Jonny for hating it so much. Patrick fucking loves it.

Then again, like everything else, he only loves it because it’s Jonny’s.

*

“Why,” Pat asks flatly when he sees where they ended up on their honeymoon.

Jonny, in typical asshole Jonny fashion, ignores him in favor of paying the parking attendant. He follows the yellow vests into a parking spot without so much as shooting Patrick a sly grin, and Pat hates him more than life itself.

“Jonny,” he grits out, glancing through the parking garage to the giant structures beyond.

“Yeah baby?” Jonny replies absently, his eyes already focus fixated on the gathering crowd at the escalators to their right as he exits the vehicle. Patrick has no choice but to follow if he wants to continue this argument. “You remembered the sunscreen, right?”

Pat did, in fact, remember the sunscreen. “I thought we were going to the beach!”

“Nope.”

People are already looking at them, probably because Pat’s just this side of screaming in a very echo-y building, but Pat can already see the phone cameras and eager eyes, the god-awful whispers multiplying overtop themselves. They were literal world-wide news barely a month ago, their picture on every newspaper and social media site. Jonny did talk shows and shit, the gold band on his finger out and proud, while Patrick suffered weeks upon weeks of flash media training from Jonny’s very mean PR manager. He’s still not allowed to talk to the public, because he’s just that bad at it apparently, but Jonny does a good job of deflecting questions for the both of them.

Still, this was their first major outing after the wedding, and Jonny decided to take them someplace Patrick actively dreads.

“Jonny,” Pat whines, glancing fearfully at the large crowds and that big beige building on the horizon that Patrick has nightmares about. “Please, we can still make it out of this alive. If we go now—”

“Bought the tickets online,” the over-prepared asshole interrupts. He hefts Pat’s meticulously packed backpack and begins walking away. The rented Mercedes boops a sharp locking tone, effectively sealing Pat’s fate. The emergency backup keys are still in the hotel. Pat’s never making that mistake again. “C’mon baby, I promise we’re not here to torture you.”

“Sure, right, because why else would we be here?” Pat sneers.

“I dunno,” Jonny drolly replies, taking Pat’s hand and using his superior upper body strength to drag Pat toward the escalator. How long until this ends up on YouTube? “To have fun, maybe?”

“Fun. You think this is fun?”

Children think this is fun, Pat.”

Pat rips his hand away from Jonny’s and crosses his arms bitterly. “Children have no self-preservation instincts.” They step onto the overcrowded escalator and make their creaking descent to ground level, where an overcheerful attendant herds them into yet another line for some kind of trolley that disappears around the corner every few minutes. They are, indeed, amongst a sea of children, all chattering happily and tugging on their parent’s sleeves. One dad hopefully leans across the partition and asks Jonny for an autograph, which Jonny provides with his media smile. “Please, please tell me we’re going to the one park,” Patrick begs when the trolley finally loads. They have a bench all to themselves.

Jonny sets the backpack at their feet and flings an arm around Pat’s shoulder as the “Welcome to Disneyland” sign passes on their left. “No, Pat,” he says gently without glancing Pat’s way, “we’re going to both parks and riding every ride.”

“Why,” Pat hisses.

“Because,” Jonny answers with saccharine glee, “I want to see you cry.”

They round the corner just as a car full of screaming park-goers flies overhead. The beige building aptly named Tower of Terror appears above them for a brief moment that twists Pat’s gut into knots, and Pat swallows a mouthful of bile at the thought of riding either attraction. “I want a divorce,” Pat says seriously. The lady sitting behind them gasps.

“No, you don’t,” Jonny replies confidently. The asshole leans up to grab his phone from his back pocket and snaps a selfie of Pat’s horrified face. “This is going on the wall for sure. Right next to that domestic violence pamphlet.”

The lady behind them gasps again, her horror at their words only rivaled by the horror Pat feels at being here at all, and Pat groans at the thought of explaining this debacle to the media. He should’ve known Jonny would get him back for their romantic meet-cute pamphlet.  Still, Jonny looks so damn happy despite the media shit-storm they’re about to unleash. Pat figures, if his gorgeous husband just keeps grinning like that, then maybe he’s doing something right. Although he’s vomiting all over Jonny’s pristine blue shirt at the next available opportunity.

Just for old time’s sake.