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as long as you keep trying

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Sid finds Brandon after the game, threading his way through the mass of smelly, mostly naked men congratulating each other on the win. Brandon’s at his stall, stripping down with hands that tremble with his urgency. He looks up as Sid approaches, dread welling. Sid’s going to tell him they’re all going out, that Brandon’s expected to be there, that it’s important for team bonding.

He opens his mouth but Sid gets there first.

“Adam’s outside.”

Brandon snaps his mouth closed and looks at the door like he’ll see Adam through it somehow. When he looks back, Sid’s smiling at him, eyes soft and crinkled at the corners.

“Shower and go,” he says, voice low under the noise of the room. “I’ll deal with the others.”

Brandon manages a nod, and Sid slaps him on the shoulder before turning back to his own stall.

He takes the fastest shower ever, hair still dripping onto his shirt collar as he drags his suit jacket back on and shoves his feet into his shoes.

“Tanny’s got a hot date!” Guentzel hoots, and McCann gives him a thumbs up when Brandon glances toward them. Brandon half-laughs around the nerves and anticipation choking him and flips them both the finger.

“Curfew is at midnight,” Letang calls as he heads for the door.

Brandon nearly trips, glancing at Sid, who shakes his head almost imperceptibly and gestures for him to go. Brandon obeys before he can change his mind.

Adam’s leaning against the far wall when Brandon ducks through the door, one long leg bent and a foot planted on the wall behind him. He straightens quickly, jerking his hands from his pockets.

Brandon looks at him for a minute. Adam’s hair is still damp too, his tie crooked like he was in too much of a hurry to fix it, and tenderness floods Brandon’s chest.

“Hi,” he says softly.

Adam shifts his feet. “Hi.” His eyes are almost shy, hungry as he darts glances at Brandon, who doesn’t move, too aware of possible prying eyes.

“You wanna get out of here?” Brandon asks.

Adam’s nod is heartfelt and fervent.

They don’t touch as they walk through the halls, shoulders almost brushing, moving in silent, perfect unison, just like old times. Brandon takes a steadying breath and holds the door to the rink open for Adam to go through.

“Did you drive?” he asks when they’re in the parking garage. It’s late enough that most of the fans are gone, but there’s still a steady trickle of cars. Brandon keeps a careful foot of space between them as Adam points.

“Over there.”

Brandon follows, sliding into the front seat and watching as Adam folds himself behind the wheel. He makes no secret of it, gaze roaming over Adam’s big hands opening and closing on his thighs, over his chest and stomach and those endless legs.

“Stop that,” Adam says, his voice low and rough.

“Or what?”

“Or we’re never getting out of this garage,” Adam says. There’s heat in his eyes, and an answering bolt zings through Brandon.

He swallows hard. He’s already half-hard just from anticipation, and he adjusts himself without breaking Adam’s gaze.

Adam makes a noise and fumbles for the keys with shaking hands. He drops them, swears thickly, and fumbles for them as Brandon laughs quietly.

The car’s tires squeal when Adam hits the gas. Brandon’s flung back against the seat, still not looking away from Adam, who’s concentrating on getting out of the garage and up to street level.

Facetime just wasn’t enough. Nothing compares to Adam next to him, just a foot away, warm and solid and there, close enough to touch. Brandon can’t stand it any longer. He reaches out, laying a palm on Adam’s bicep, and Adam twitches visibly.


“I’m not,” Brandon says. How does he even explain that he’s not seducing Adam or trying to drive him out of his mind so much as he’s trying to ground himself in the moment? They’re here, together again, and Brandon thinks he’ll lose his mind if he can’t touch Adam at least a little bit, remind himself that they have a whole night ahead of them. “I just—”

Adam says nothing, but he reaches up, takes Brandon’s hand, and laces their fingers together, resting it on his thigh as he maneuvers through traffic.

“You played a good game,” Brandon says softly.

Adam’s eyes glitter in the streetlights when he glances at him. “I don’t want to talk about the game.”

“Okay.” Brandon understands that. He doesn’t like talking about losses right after they happen either, not when it’s still fresh and stinging.

Adam squeezes his hand and they don’t speak again. Brandon’s still having a hard time looking away, but he catches glimpses of the city out of the corner of his eye, familiar as an old, comfortable shirt, and nostalgia threatens to choke him.

They roll into the garage of Adam’s building and park in silence. Climb out and round the car to get in the elevator, a chaste foot of space between them. The elevator soars upward as they both gaze straight ahead. The silence is charged and listening. Brandon feels flayed raw with want, like a layer of skin has been peeled off, leaving all his nerves exposed and tingling. 

He twitches when the car dings, and Adam’s mouth ticks up briefly. He says nothing, though, singling out his door key and striding down the hallway, Brandon right beside him. He swings the door and gestures Brandon through. The door clicks shut behind them and Brandon steps into the living room. It looks exactly the same as it did when he left, the big overstuffed sofa where he and Adam had fallen asleep together so often in the same spot facing the TV.

Brandon turns to see Adam leaning against the door, eyes hooded in the dim light. He swallows again.

“Place looks nice,” he says, mostly for something to say. “Thought you might have redecorated.”

“Really don’t want to talk about home decor,” Adam says. He hasn’t moved, but the air almost crackles around him, his eyes sharp on Brandon’s form.

“Yeah, okay.”

They stare at each other for a minute, and then Adam pushes off the door just as Brandon takes a step forward. They snap together like gravity, Adam’s mouth finding Brandon’s unerringly. He tastes like Gatorade and smells like the rink shampoo, sensory memories flooding through Brandon as he goes up on tiptoe to wind his arms around Adam’s neck.

Adam bends and gets his arms under Brandon’s ass, lifting him, and Brandon gets the memo immediately. He wraps his legs around Adam’s hips, cupping his face in both hands and deepening the kiss as Adam groans and kisses back just as desperately. It’s clear he needed this as badly as Brandon from the way he’s trembling, hand roving up and down Brandon’s spine, slipping under his jacket to splay wide across his ribs.

“Bed,” Brandon gasps, lifting his head. 

Adam nods wordlessly and stumbles down the hall as Brandon clings to him, already back to kissing down his throat and along his jaw. He kicks the door open with a foot and nearly falls through into the bedroom. Mercifully, the bed isn’t far, and he topples them onto it a heartbeat later. Brandon wheezes, air driven from his lungs by the landing and Adam’s weight on top of him, but then Adam’s mouth is back on his and everything is forgotten but the feel of Adam pressing him into the mattress, lips and tongue hungry and seeking.

Brandon pulls blindly on Adam’s shirt, unwilling to put any distance between them, and Adam is clearly feeling the same way. He props himself on one elbow, still busy kissing the breath from Brandon’s body, and jerks at his shirt.

“Buttons,” Brandon manages when nothing happens, and Adam growls and yanks. There’s a rrrip of fabric tearing and the tinkle of buttons hitting the floor and they both freeze. A hiccup of laughter escapes Brandon’s mouth and then Adam’s laughing too, dragging the remnants of his shirt off and dropping the sad shreds on the floor.

“Don’t you dare do that to mine,” Brandon warns through his giggles. Adam grins down at him, a wicked light in his eyes.

“You can wear my clothes back to the hotel.”

“Don’t you dare,” Brandon repeats, even as his blood heats at the idea of wearing Adam’s clothes. “I am not explaining to Sid why I’m not in my gameday clothes. Get off and let me take these off properly.” He pushes and shoves until Adam reluctantly rolls to the side and then busies himself shimmying out of his clothes. When he turns back, Adam’s gotten his pants off and is lying on his back, lazily stroking himself. His tongue is caught between his teeth and his eyes are fixed on Brandon.

The sight steals his breath more thoroughly than being run into the boards by Byfuglien and Brandon suddenly can’t bear not to be touching him for even another second.


Adam rolls upright and bears Brandon over backward, pressing him into the mattress again, but this time there’s nothing between them, skin pressed to burning skin, Adam’s cock hard and wanting against Brandon’s thigh as he finds his mouth.

Brandon bucks up, sparks going off behind his eyes at the contact. He’s not sure how, but he manages to summon the coordination to work a hand between them. He’s going to savor the noise Adam makes when Brandon’s hand closes on their shafts for a long time to come, he thinks, and then rational thought scatters as Adam rolls his hips down into Brandon’s fist.

Everything is hot, tight, shivery pleasure that starts in Brandon’s scalp and goes all the way to his toes. Adam’s mouth is almost feverish. He’s making tiny broken noises Brandon thinks he doesn’t even realize are coming from him, and after a few minutes he breaks the kiss to bury his face in the vee of Brandon’s neck.

He’s trembling again, hips still thrusting, and Brandon can’t, he can’t hold on, it’s too much all at once, the wave breaking over his head as he spills with a choked sob between them. Adam follows a heartbeat later, wet heat splattering Brandon’s stomach in searing drops.


Brandon must pass out briefly, or fall asleep. When he finally swims to the surface of conscious thought again, Adam is still draped across him, limbs heavy with sleep, face still tucked against Brandon’s throat. 

Brandon strokes his hair. Adam is heavy and Brandon’s going to need to breathe again at some point, but right now he’ll willingly put up with any number of discomforts if it means he’s got Adam there, surrounding and invading all his senses until there’s nothing else Brandon can see, smell, or feel.

“I miss you so much,” he whispers, because Adam’s asleep and therefore it’s safe to be vulnerable. “I love the Pens, I do, playing there has been incredible, but—” He presses a kiss to Adam’s temple. “I miss you so much it’s like I’ve lost an arm, or one of my senses. I turn to talk to you a thousand times a day. I don’t—how am I supposed to do this without you?”

Adam stirs and Brandon snaps his mouth shut. He’s smiling when Adam lifts his head, blinking blearily down at him.

“Shower,” he says. “And then food, I’m starving.”

Adam’s lips curve and he lowers his head to kiss him. “Only if we can eat naked in bed.”

Brandon rolls his eyes but kisses him back. “Fine, whatever. Order the food and come join me in the shower.”


They eat Chinese food with chopsticks cross-legged on the bed. They don’t talk much, but Adam nudges Brandon’s foot occasionally, smiling as he shovels dumplings into his mouth, and Brandon can’t help returning the smile.

When they’re comfortably full, Brandon clears the bed and pushes Adam facedown on it. He eats him out slowly, taking his time, until Adam is shaking and begging, pressing his hips back into Brandon’s mouth, writhing in desperation as Brandon licks deep into his core, spreading him open with two fingers so he can get deeper.

“B,” Adam chokes. His knuckles are white where he’s gripping the bedspread. “B, please, I can’t—please fuck me, please—”

Brandon kisses Adam’s tailbone and goes to his knees. “Lube?”

Adam fumbles for it with a trembling hand. When he passes it back, Brandon catches his hand and draws it to his mouth. He kisses each finger as Adam watches over his shoulder, eyes dark, then lets go to pop open the bottle. He thumbs Adam’s rim, smiling at the whine that gets him, and shuffles into position.

Adam had been right. They have had a lot of Skype sex. Good sex, even, with both of them stepping up their game and seeing who can make the other come the hardest with just their voice and the filthy images they suggest.

But nothing compares to sinking into the molten heat of Adam’s body, the velvet clutch of him around Brandon’s shaft, the way he twists, gasping, and reaches behind him to grab Brandon’s hand. Brandon twines their fingers together, anchors his other hand on Adam’s hip, and goes for it.

His focus narrows to the pleasure building at the base of his spine, the breathless noises Adam is making. He’s lost in the heat, the snap of his hips, the way Adam bucks back against him, wordlessly begging for more. He can take it. Adam is strong. He’s steadfast, unshakably loyal. He’s Toledo steel and Brandon loves him so much it chokes him. 

His orgasm is almost an afterthought, pulled from him by the tight clutch of Adam’s body as he shakes through his own bliss, spilling all over the bed. 

They collapse in a pile of sweaty limbs and Brandon takes several deep breaths, struggling desperately to get himself under control before Adam notices, but it’s too late. Adam rolls his head, a lazy smile on his mouth that disappears instantly at the sight of Brandon’s face. 

“B?” He’s up on his elbow, reaching for him, and Brandon can’t help the noise he makes as Adam pulls him in, tucks him against his bare chest and wraps arms and legs around him. “Hey, no,” he croons. “It’s okay, you’re okay. I’m here.”

Brandon’s shaking, he observes distantly, but he’s also surrounded by Adam, held safe away from the world, and he closes his eyes and hangs on. 

“I c-can’t do it,” he finally says against Adam’s throat. Adam tightens his grip. 

“Do what?” His voice is carefully neutral. 

“Leave you again,” Brandon manages, and tears sting his eyelids. He pushes his face hard into Adam’s shoulder, wishing the words unspoken immediately.

Adam says nothing for a long moment. His breathing is steady in Brandon’s ear, heartbeat thumping solid and regular against Brandon’s cheek.

“Have I told you how proud I am of you?” he finally says.

Brandon lifts his head. Adam meets his eyes unwaveringly. 

“You’re lighting it up out there, B,” he says softly. “You’re getting the recognition you deserve. You’re fucking amazing. I’m—” He swallows. “I’m just really happy for you.”

Brandon shakes his head helplessly. “It doesn’t—”

“I miss you too,” Adam interrupts. “Every second of the day. But the season’s not forever. We can spend the summers together. Or I can just quit.”

Brandon rears back, startled, and Adam trails a fingertip down his arm.

“I would,” he says, his tone conversational. “If it’s what you wanted. If you needed me to. I’d walk away from all of it. If you want me to come to Pittsburgh to be with you, I’d—”

Brandon’s shaking his head again before Adam’s done. “No,” he bursts out. “No, you can’t, I won’t let you. You love hockey, Adam, you can’t—”

“I love you,” Adam cuts him off, and Brandon’s jaw drops. Adam raises an eyebrow, leaning back against the pillows as if to say your move, and all Brandon can do is gape at him. 


Adam looks unbearably smug and Brandon is tempted to punch him. From the way his smile widens, Adam knows it.

Brandon rolls away and sits up instead. Adam is pale against the dark comforter, long, lanky limbs sprawled in unselfconscious nudity as he watches him, and Brandon is struck yet again by how beautiful he is.

“I will not let you quit for me,” Brandon says flatly. “That’s not happening, don’t you ever suggest it again.”

Adam just shrugs and Brandon almost laughs. It comes out as a disbelieving puff of air as he leans down to kiss him. Adam hums enthusiastically and kisses him back.

“I can’t believe—” Brandon breaks away. “You have to promise me you wouldn’t do that, Adam. Promise me. I couldn’t—”

“I wouldn’t,” Adam says. His eyes are soft. “You would never let me. And I don’t want to. But if it would make you happy—”

Brandon cuts him off with a fierce kiss. “You make me happy,” he manages between kisses, and almost hides his wince at being so soppy.

Adam laughs into his mouth. “Are we gonna make the most of the time we have left or not?”


Summer is a long way off, and they still have the rest of the season to get through. But Adam’s mouth is soft and sweet under his, and his arms are strong as he winds them around Brandon’s shoulders. It’s enough for now.