“So I keep wanting to bite AM,” he said on the phone, and he waited for Matty to say something, but all he heard was splashing and then, “Fuck Brady, what the fuck do you think you’re doing? I’m on the fucking phone, asshole.”
“Sorry,” Matt said, “what was that?”
There was a very long moment where he thought about saying something different, something about how great the lake was, or, like, his tan, but he had gone to the trouble of picking up the actual phone and that seemed like it demanded some kind of follow-through. “Auston,” he said.
“I’ve heard of the guy, yeah. 6’ something, built like a brick shithouse. What about him? Is he being a dick?”
If it were the season the answer to that would always be yes, but it was the offseason, where he wasn’t supposed to have to think about Auston Matthews. Except: “I can’t stop thinking about biting him.”
There was a kind of clattering noise and silence and he wanted to believe it was because Brady had just launched a sneak attack but he had a doomed feeling that he had just caused Matthew Tkachuk, who, while far from unflappable, was relatively impervious to the rest of the world, to drop his phone. He had kind of been hoping to hear that it happened to everyone.
He hadn’t planned on becoming a werewolf, but when they told him it was tradition he had been like, oh, okay. He hadn’t seen anything wrong with it, and it had worked out mostly fine. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t like, amazing, either, and anyone who told you it was was lying, but it was fine. Being in the woods alone at night was kind of great, sometimes.
The summer kept going on and he kept thinking of Auston and wanting to bite him. It was like, he couldn’t settle or anything. He was having a good summer; he was with his boys, at the lake, the water was awesome, and something inside him kept pacing, twisting and turning itself around. It was the full moon and he told everyone he wasn’t feeling well and laughed off the jokes about it being that time of the month and there was one perfect moment when he was out in a field he had cut through a hundred, a thousand, a million times before but in the night and in the moonlight and in his other body it felt like a place that had never existed before tonight, like anything could happen and then an owl startled him and when he woke up in the morning he was lying on the floor of his living room his phone was lying next to him with a text from Patty saying, “Hope you feel better, champ.” To which he wrote back, “Thanks, dad,” but the point was he tried to remember how it felt in the field, how it felt to think that the world was an undiscovered country, and when training camp started up and people asked how his summer with he said, “Great,” with a lot of fucking verve. Maybe he meant it. Who could know?
Matt texted him a couple of times, memes where a creature was biting something else, text across the bottom, all caps, “This u???” Sometimes the pictures were cute and sometimes they were kind of horrifying, sometimes there was blood or visible guts showing. Usually he texted back, “F U” and usually it devolved into sexting. Matthew Tkachuk was not the hottest guy Mitch knew, but Mitch had been looking at his dick for a long time and there was something comforting about it, almost cozy.
“People keep telling me that you want to bite my boyfriend,” Freddie said. They were only two games into the season and they had lost both of those games, even though the night before Mitch had blocked a shot and scored a goal.
“Jesus, Fred, why don’t you just shout it out at the Eaton Center?” It would have been nice to have this conversation somewhere other than the bus. It would have been nice not to have this conversation at all, actually. When Freddie had sat down next to him Mitch had been kind of psyched; he had kind of thought Freddie might want to congratulate him on his blocked shot. Or his goal. Mitch wasn’t picky. Freddie had been being weird with Mitch recently. Well, maybe it made sense under the circumstances.
“Do I need to be worried about this?”
“I don’t know, Fred. That sounds like a you-and-Auston question.” Mitch would have liked to be able to tell Freddie that it had been a summer impulse, that it was long gone. But it wasn’t. It was something in his jaws; he could almost feel it. Only with Auston, not with anybody else, not even with people he liked more, like Holler. He thought about lying, but that seemed like a bad idea. He didn’t think Freddie could actually read minds, but you could never be too careful with goalies.
“Oh,” Freddie said, “trust me, it’s not.” He smiled at Mitch. It was kind of a mean smile. “It’s a you-problem.”
“Look,” Mitch said, suddenly feeling a little desperate, “it’s not a sex thing. I swear.” It kind of pissed him off to have to say it. He had had sex with Auston first, before Freddie was even in the picture, back when Freddie was just a large and stoic part of the landscape. It had been bad. Mitch had told Auston that they shouldn’t do it again. Auston didn’t really have facial expressions, but something in the corner of his eyes had looked like disappointment, and Mitch had kind of expected that at some point they would get drunk and give it another shot. Only, like, two weeks later Fred had been putting on the full court press, and that was that. Mitch wasn’t 100 percent sure, but he was pretty sure that meant he would have been well within his rights to have it be a sex thing. But it wasn’t.
“Okay,” Freddie said, and he was visibly thinking about it. “Okay. I get that. But I’m not sure Nazem Kadri gets that. And I’m a little tired of the phone calls.”
“Wait,” Mitch said, “what the fuck?”