Carter has spent a lot of time with various meditation techniques, visualizations, and other mental exercises. He knows goaltending is one part flexibility, two parts skill, and the rest is all in his head.
And Carter? Has been really fucking stuck in his head lately.
Flyers have been playing like shit - no, worse than shit; Carter is actually grateful that he got scratched for the Sabres game. He can’t imagine how much worse he would feel if he’d been pulled again, or been shelled all night without respite.
Carter knows he is good, but he is not too arrogant - he can’t tell himself if only he’d been in goal they would have won, because that is not the case, that is not how any of this has worked this season. Everything is just fucking off in so many ways it makes his skin crawl.
Spending the two days off working on ice hasn’t made the difference Carter wishes it had. The reset AV clearly expected didn’t happen, he doesn’t feel like a blank slate, like a new page, a new chapter; he feels wound up in a way that is a lot more difficult to articulate than he expected.
Everyone is pointing fingers and making excuses but Carter knows that at the end of the day the responsibility for his mindset, his headspace, his flow is on him; others can help, sure, or hinder, but the buck - and the puck - stops with him.
Or, it should. And it doesn’t.
And that is why he is here, standing in G’s hotel room, feeling completely out of his depth.
This is not something he’s ever done, not something he’s ever even thought about doing. He didn’t think it was really a thing , at least like, not any more, and that G had to be joking when he’d tilted his head consideringly, looked Carter from head to toe, and said he had a suggestion.
Sure, Carter’s heard the stories of how back in the day a lot of shit went down in locker rooms that hasn’t really made it out of hockey circles - guys being treated as whipping boys for bad losses and other weird shit. And one of those weird shit things was the idea that rookies ought to get on their knees for the vets; not like in a gay way, or even in a hazing way, just to get their head into the game. So, here they are, about to get weird.
G is sitting on the edge of the bed, which makes sense; the chair in the room is pretty dinky, even if G is on the smaller side for a hockey player. It would be difficult for him to make enough space for Carter to kneel down comfortably on the floor between his legs.
This is like the start of some bad porn, he can’t help but think, despite his attempts to stay centered on the moment.
Except, G had made it clear that this was not about that. That this was all about helping Carter get centered, like a guided meditation almost, but a more hockey-traditional one than anything Carter has done until now.
And maybe Carter did notice G flushing a little under his beard when talking about this, about how it had helped him when he was still a young player looking for his footing, but Carter is choosing to ignore that. It would be crass to speculate about his captain and what he may or may not have been up to in the past, or with who.
G looks relaxed and comfortable, wearing sweats and a t-shirt, the same as Carter, bare feet digging into the hotel carpet, knees apart. He doesn’t look expectant or anything, looks like he could just sit there and wait for Carter to come over and kneel until the cows come home.
It makes something twist in Carter’s gut in a way he doesn’t know how to describe. It’s not arousal, his dick is perfectly behaved in his boxers, but it’s something. It’s not bad, that’s for sure, but it makes him take another deep breath before he takes a step forward.
G tilts his head and pats the bed next to him, the question clear. It makes Carter hesitate, and the fact that he is hesitating makes him angry. He knows what he is here to do, and it’s not to sit on the bed getting gentled or whatever it is G might think he needs.
There’s a pillow on the bed, too; Carter reaches out to grab it and G doesn’t stop him, doesn’t say anything, and lets Carter drop it on the floor.
Kneeling for his captain should probably feel more momentous, more humbling or something like that. Instead, Carter is occupied with making sure he is in an optimal position, the hotel pillow not ideal, not even on top of fuzzy carpet; he has to be careful with how long he spends like this, make sure there is no negative impact to his performance.
All the while as he settles, G watches him; He looks pleased, a little flushed, but that might be just a trick of the light and the whole ginger thing.
“Comfortable, Hartsy?” G asks; there’s no hesitation, but Carter can tell there is something -
Damn it, he really didn’t want to speculate on anything.
“Can you call me Carter?” he says, instead of answering the question.
“Then you call me Claude,” and there is something in G’s, Claude’s tone that gives Carter a frisson of satisfaction, that he read this right, got this right.
He smiles when he answers. “Okay, Claude.”
“Good. Now, are you comfortable?”
“Yup.” Carter is confident in his answer, and gets a smile from Claude as a result.
“That’s good,” Claude says again.
It’s not what Carter expected, not that he had that many expectations anyway, but if he’d thought about it instead of compartmentalizing it away until it was time to head over to Claude’s room, he would have thought that Claude would be acting more like his usual self, the steady, soft-spoken locker room presence with strength and fierce drive Carter has gotten to know over the past three seasons.
You know, his Captain.
Instead, Claude is acting a lot more like when Carter has seen him away from the rink, at home when he’d invited Carter over for the holidays and just casual dinners and time spent in a home and not a hotel room or a half-furnished apartment stinking of smoke.
But unlike at home, Claude looks exhausted in a way that goes beyond the hellish rhythm of the season and the excruciating ice time AV has saddled Claude with. Carter wonders if he should stand up, tell Claude to go to bed because he needs sleep more than Carter needs to try to get his head on straight like this.
Carter’s peripheral vision isn’t hampered by the fact that he is settled between Claude’s knees; the hotel bed is not that tall and Claude’s thighs, while as strong as any skater’s, are not thick enough to impede him, settled between them as he is. He doesn’t have to move his head to see the hand Claude raises off the bed and brings in to cup his face.
He expects the soft touch, the way Claude’s thumb brushes against his cheek. It's tender, nothing like a face wash or a hand clasping his helmet. It's also nothing like a girl touching his face, and it’s not just the difference between what he's used to and Claude, what is unquestionably a hockey player's hand, big and coarse.
"I want this to be good for you," Claude says, his voice still soft. His accent is perhaps a hair more pronounced than usual, like he’s half a beer in.
Carter is pretty sure this is not what he is supposed to be doing; he is not supposed to be hyperfixating on his captain, he’s supposed to be getting out of his head and not quite relaxing, but getting into a state of calm. That’s what Claude said it was like, for him.
”I used to, years ago, when I was -” he’d said, the your age, a rookie remained implied. ”It was good, it made me feel good. Let me quiet down like nothing else, made me feel like I could trust myself, could trust - my team."
And trust, Carter has to admit, is part of the problem he’s had; their defense has been far from stellar, and he’s felt like he’s been just left hanging far too often. It’s a well-documented phenomenon that goaltending performance suffers when the goalie is unable to trust his defensemen to do their jobs.
Before he can sink too deep into thinking about the implosion that is the Flyers’ D, Claude touches his face again. Another short brush of a calloused thumb across his cheekbone, bringing his attention back to Claude. It should not have wavered in the first place; Carter resolves to do better.
“Let me make this good for you, Carter?”
Carter’s first instinct is to nod, but Claude’s hand on his face makes him think otherwise.
“Yeah,” he says, and his mouth is a little drier than he thought it would be.
Claude smiles. “Good, words are good.”
Carter files that away, while Claude slides his hand into his hair. Carter’s hair isn’t that long, he’s never been the kind of a guy to have an old timey flow, but it’s still long enough for Claude to sink his fingers into. They tighten a fraction, but when Carter doesn’t lean into it, doesn’t lean away from it, they relax without tugging.
“That’s good,” Carter says, because Claude likes words, not just the gestures that come more naturally to him. “Don’t pull my hair.”
Carter could say he doesn’t like getting his hair pulled, but that would not be entirely accurate; he doesn’t like it most of the time but when he’s got his head buried between someone’s legs he absolutely loves it when they do that, when they dig their heels into his shoulders and he can make them wail.
The thought of that makes his dick twitch and he inhales deeply; if he was in his crease he’d shake his head to clear it but he’s got Claude’s hand on him and he can tell shaking it off would not be good, would disturb the slow equilibrium they are building here.
“Lean forward and rest your head?” Claude exerts gentle pressure, nowhere near enough to make Carter move; it is a question more than a suggestion, not an order, and a polite one at that.
It’s easy enough to let Claude guide him, to go from sitting up straight and balanced to resting his head against Claude’s knee. It is not a position he should stay in for too long, but the strain is far from enough to become an issue before he needs to get off his knees anyway.
He can feel the tension slowly leeching out of Claude’s leg as he settles in place. That’s what should be happening to him, too, so Carter closes his eyes and inhales slowly. The position is not ideal for a breathing exercise but that’s neither here nor there. Slowly, he lets his eyes fall shut and concentrates on breathing.
This close, he can smell the laundry detergent clinging to Claude’s clothes, the hint of some fancy expensive soap his wife buys him, and a hint of sweat. It’s nicer than he expected, a part of him less concerned with the implications of having his head near Claude’s groin than the potential for lingering jock stench, but he shouldn’t have worried. Claude is, like, an adult about this shit.
He’s centering on himself but it’s not enough to make him miss Claude’s soft murmur of ”Bon,” but he sets that aside while he works on his breathing and tries to feel - different. More trusting or some shit. He’s got this.
Carter does not, in fact, got this.
Despite the familiar rhythm of deep breathing, and the unusual but not unpleasant sensation of a muscled thigh under his cheek and a warm hand carding through his hair, it is just - normal. It feels like he is doing a breathing exercise, in a slightly more complicated position than usual, pressed against a teammate in close quarters. It doesn’t make him feel special, or humbled, or trusting, or whatever it is supposed to make him feel.
Carter slowly blinks and looks up at Claude, intent on telling him this isn’t working and maybe they should try something else, just grab beers from the minibar or something, when he catches sight of Claude’s face and goes still.
Claude’s eyes have gone dark, the pupils blown wide as he watches Carter. He’s not looking at Carter like he wants to nudge Carter towards his dick; no, it’s something else that has Claude looking so keyed-up.
Keyed-up is the wrong word; Claude feels relaxed still, the hand still carding through Carter’s hair without pause is soft - or maybe keyed-up is partially right, because Carter can tell Claude’s got a semi. Not a very noticeable one, but he can tell the material of his sweats is sitting different than it was before.
Carter won’t say anything if Claude won’t; his own dick isn’t exactly totally uninterested, he can admit that. Sometimes it happens when you’re hockey players horsing around.
He thinks he should speak up, say something, but finds himself loathe to disturb the relaxation on Claude’s face. He looks more at ease than he has since the Sabres game or even before, like having Carter like this, having Carter trusting him, is lifting a weight off his shoulders. Just because Carter isn’t feeling more trusting doesn’t mean Claude isn’t experiencing trust, because Carter is letting him do this.
And, oh, that - Carter did not anticipate that curling in the pit of his belly like it does. He’s never been a fan of letting people do things to him, but this is not that. Even though he is the one who is on his knees, Claude isn’t doing this to him. He is doing this for Carter.
Being a goalie is one part flexibility, two parts skill, and a whole lot of confidence, and it’s the confidence that has been lacking. Now, however, Carter feels a surge of surety he hasn’t felt in far too long.
Something in his expression must change, because Claude’s hand stills in his hair.
“Carter?” Claude’s voice is a little thick, would make Carter wonder just how long they’ve been like this if he was feeling less dialed in, less aware of his body in ways that make it nigh impossible for him to miss time.
“Claude,” Carter acknowledges even as he shifts, straightening his spine. His cheek feels a little cold where it’s been pressed against Claude’s thigh, but coming back to a more familiar posture feels good. Claude doesn’t stop touching him, keeps the fingers in his hair as a point of contact between them.
Slowly, Carter lifts a hand to grasp Claude by the wrist. Claude doesn’t pull away.
Carter doesn’t miss the way Claude inhales. It’s not sharp, doesn’t pull tension into Claude’s body, but Claude shakes his head minutely still and blinks heavily. He licks his lips before he speaks, and Carter can’t look away.
”C’est bon, c’est - “ and Claude shakes his head again. “Non, Sorry - is this good? Do you want me to - ?”
Carter flicks his eyes up from Claude’s mouth to his eyes, all dark and soft, and nods. “This is good. You want to make this good for me, don’t you?”
It could be a trick of light but Claude’s eyes seem to darken further; he licks his lips before he answers. “Yes.”
“Good,” Carter says; he’s aware that his tone is pretty similar to how he’d talk to his dog, which - not a good comparison to make, this is his captain for fuck’s sake, but there’s no denying that it seems to work on Claude, keeps him from tensing up.
“You want me to trust you.” It is not a question, but a statement. Claude nods and the flush creeping up his neck is becoming more evident.
“Ouais - yes, I want -” Claude swallows and Carter watches his throat move; his dick twitches again, and even though this isn’t supposed to be about that , he can’t help but remember what Claude had said.
”Like you would cheat on Ry anyway,” Carter had said, and Claude had shrugged, glanced away, more shy than evasive.
”She would understand.”
Carter wonders if that really is true, if Ryanne would understand if Claude did shit with a teammate, if this had turned out like shit from porn where Carter wanted to suck his Captain’s dick because getting on his knees did it for him. Claude would definitely be into it; his dick is tenting his sweats noticeably, now, and it would be so easy for Carter to go for it.
He doesn’t break eye contact with Claude when he reaches out to grasp his other wrist.
It’s not as awkward of a position as it could be; Claude is - not pliant, but unresisting. His breath hitches when Carter tightens his hold, squeezes down on his wrists.
Carter drinks in that hitch, the stuttering exhale as Claude looks at him, face open and unguarded. The stress from earlier isn’t gone, won’t be gone, but it has eased.
He can feel the blood pounding in Claude’s wrists, can feel his own heartbeat far faster than it should be for a breathing exercise or meditation ; this has become something else entirely, and Carter thinks he likes it.
Yeah, he definitely likes it.
His captain makes another sound when Carter swipes his thumbs over the soft pale skin of Claude’s inner wrists.
“Do you want to be good for your goalie, Claude?”
Claude shudders at his words, head tilted back but unable to break eye contact. “Oui.”
Back to French; it shouldn’t do things to Carter but it does, seeing his usually-so-composed Captain shiver with something he doesn’t know how to put into words.
He doesn’t let go of Claude’s wrists as he stands up. He holds on while he takes stock of the state of his knees, the strain on his hips and quads from holding an unfamiliar position, all the while keeping his eyes on Claude’s face.
Carter leans forward and Claude tips his head back, bares his throat. It shouldn’t be anything special but it still curls at the pit of Carter’s belly, a hot, unfamiliar yearning.
He leans forward, and his captain yields , catches himself on his elbows as Carter pins him to the bed, hands firm over strong forearms. He’s used to being taller than Claude but like this he can really feel the few extra inches. Claude is strong and solid, but he is right here under Carter because he wants to make this good for him.
His captain looks up at him, eyes dark and heavy, full of reverence and - supplication, almost.
It’s feels good , heady, hot to have this, to have Claude Giroux giving himself up like this, letting Carter bend him back, bear him down on the bed. It would be so easy to just push , to get on top of him completely and -
Carter can feel his neck go red at the thought; he’s not - he hasn’t - there was stuff in Juniors but - it was not that, it wasn’t pushing each other down and taking, it was just touches, hands, desperation - Gratitude, thank-you handies after a good practice, a good game.
“You made this so good for me, Claude,” Carter rasps, surprised at how hoarse he sounds. He spares a thought to hydration, later, when he lifts his hand off Claude’s wrist - Claude keeps it there, where Carter put him - and touches the waistband of Claude’s sweats.
His captain shudders at the touch, gasping, eyes blown wider than Carter thought possible. Claude’s mouth falls open and it looks so slick, Carter feels a little lightheaded thinking about what could happen -
“Will Ry be okay if I do this?” There’s no mistaking what Carter means, not when his fingers slide under the fabric and brush against warm, heated skin, when his wrist brushes against the unmistakable bulge. “Will you be good?”
Claude nods, almost frantic. “Ouais - oui, yes, She - I - it’s hockey, she understands, she lets me -” he trails off, looking not lost, not helpless, but vulnerable, trusting.
This was supposed to be about Carter trusting Claude, trusting his captain, but the tables are well and truly turned; this is now his captain putting himself in Carter’s hands and he won’t deny how fucking hot it is, how hard he is, how much he wants this.
Carter slowly slides his hand lower, “Yeah, that’s it, you’re a good boy, aren’t you?”
Under him, Claude shudders and hesitates. “I - I want to - I try -”
A shadow of shame and guilt is creeping on Claude’s face and Carter won’t stand for that, won’t stand for the fucking bullshit G gets from the press and the coaches getting in here, getting between them.
“That’s right, you try, you always put in the work to be a good boy, be a good captain for the team, for me. ” It’s easy to say these things; he is honest when he talks about Claude’s work ethic, his leadership.
It’s inevitable that he would tell Claude, “You look so good like this.”
Claude makes a noise that goes straight to Carter’s dick. Fuck, he wants -
“Tell me you want this,” his voice is raspy; his breath control has gone, no longer measured, no longer centered as his fingers curl around the waistband of Claude’s sweats. “Tell me you want to be touched.”
Claude arches under him, but with Carter looming over him, his wrist pinned down, the other staying down because Carter put it there, it’s ineffectual, and fuck, again that noise that makes Carter’s dick throb.
“Yes, please - “ Claude sounds out of it, drunk but not drunk. “ Please- ”
That shouldn’t be so hot, his captain begging for Carter to touch his dick, but it is, sends a bolt of heat down his spine as he gets his hand into Claude’s pants and takes hold of him.
It’s been a while, but it’s not like Carter has forgotten how to jerk it since Juniors. Claude feels heavy in his hand, hot and sensitive, so fucking wet at the tip when he swipes a thumb over it and makes his captain keen.
It’s fascinating, and Carter keeps flicking his gaze between the sight of Claude’s cock sliding in and out of his fist, red and slick, and the look of torturous not-quite abandonment flickering on his captain’s face. The punched-out little sounds that turn into filthy moans when Carter presses his thumb down on the wet slit, when he feels Claude trying to hold back from bucking into his hand are obscene , and Carter is so hard it hurts.
He wants, fuck, he wants, he wants to see Claude be good and give it up-
Claude cries out and arches off the bed, dick spasming in Carter’s hand; it takes Carter a moment to realize he said all that out loud, told Claude to give it up and he did, he came all over Carter’s hand as if on command.
Carter can't tear his eyes away from Claude’s face, his slack mouth and near-vacant eyes. Claude’s dick has barely stopped pulsing in his hand when Carter reaches out and barely has the presence of mind to wipe the mess on the sheets before he sinks his fingers into Claude’s hair and tugs.
Claude comes up so easy, his eyes still wide and dark, his mouth soft and wet. Carter wants; and it’s clear Claude is on the same page, wants this, practically panting to suck Carter’s dick.
Maybe he should have stuck his fingers in Claude's mouth instead, he thinks dimly as he gets his dick out of his pants. He stifles a hiss at how fucking good it feels to finally have more than just fabric touching him as he leans forward and braces a knee against the bed to give himself a little more leverage.
His captain goes easy when Carter tugs him close, pliant in a way Carter’s never seen him before. It probably shouldn’t be as hot as it is, the way Claude’s mouth falls open and welcomes him when Carter feeds his cock to him.
Carter half expects hands on his hips but no, they stay on the bed where he put them; the thought is quickly driven away by how good Claude’s mouth feels on him, hot and wet and eager. It hasn’t been that long since he got his dick sucked, it shouldn’t feel special, but it does. Or maybe Claude is just that good at this, good at getting his face fucked.
Not that Carter is - not yet, not this time, but he can’t deny the urge to just slam his hips forward, to see if Claude really is as greedy for cock as he seems.
“You’d take it,” he pants, tightening his hold of Claude’s hair and wringing out a moan. “You’d take it all.”
Claude makes that noise again, half moan, half whimper, and does something with his tongue that has Carter swearing, hips bucking forward until the tip of his cock hits the back of Claude’s throat. But Claude doesn’t choke, doesn’t cough, and Carter realizes he could - he could make Claude take him deeper, all the way in. He shouldn’t - it might be too much, he acknowledges, even as he cups Claude’s cheek with the hand that’s not tangled in his hair, feels his dick sliding in and out, thinks he could feel it bulging in Claude’s throat if they didn’t have a game tomorrow.
There’s heat gathering at the base of his spine, at the pit of his belly that has nothing to do with the burn in his abs, the way his core is working to make this good; he knows he isn’t going to last much longer if he keeps going like this. He could keep going for longer, could spend hours getting his cock sucked like this, but he knows it’s another shouldn’t, not when he’s aware of how long they’ve already spent here, in Claude’s room on a night before a game.
It hits him, then, how clear-headed he feels, how focused; he’s dialed in one hundred and ten percent, and it feels good, like this is the clarity Claude had talked about, what he came here to get.
“So fucking good for me,” he gasps, hips snapping forward; he doesn’t feel out of control despite his inability to stop, the need to drive his dick into Claude’s mouth again and again.
And Claude takes it all, takes it and looks up at Carter with eyes full of trust and adoration, looking like he wants nothing more than to let Carter put him on his knees and give it up -
Carter comes hard and sudden, everything whiting out for a moment as his orgasm punches through him. He feels almost helpless, clutching at Claude’s head as Claude swallows it all down.
Setting his knee on the bed was a good move, Carter thinks as he slowly pulls back, lets his back straighten. Otherwise he might’ve collapsed on top of Claude and that would not do, risking injury to himself and his captain both.
His eyes stray to Claude’s mouth, his bruised lips; he spares a thought for what it would be like, to come all over that rapt, eager face, to watch himself cling to Claude’s hair and beard, but it’s another thought to shelve for later.
The moment stretches between them; Claude looks relaxed, content, but Carter notices a hint of something - distress? - starting to creep in at the edges.
With a start, he realizes he’s been too intent on getting his breathing back under control, that he hasn't said anything, has left Claude guessing. That won’t do.
“So good for me,” he says, as he slowly runs a hand through Claude’s sweaty hair. “So good, you took it all.”
He’s not entirely sure what he is saying but Claude is lapping it all up as Carter lets gravity do its thing and moves to sit down on the bed, next to Claude. It feels a little awkward, he doesn’t know if he should, like, try to hug Claude or something, if they’re supposed to cuddle or what. Thankfully, It doesn’t take long for Claude’s eyes to clear a little, for his shoulders to straighten, and a more familiar demeanor starts to return.
Carter realizes belatedly that he still has a hand on Claude’s neck and pulls it away, only to grimace when his palm hits the wet spot on the covers.
Claude laughs weakly. “You - we should clean up. That wasn’t what I meant to happen.”
The gaze Claude levels at him is very much the captain. “Feeling better?”
Carter bites back an immediate affirmative; he pauses to take stock of how he is feeling both physically and mentally. He’s just had a great orgasm, his fingertips are still tingling in a way that would have him worried about circulation if it had been Claude holding onto him and not vice versa. He feels calm, centered, purposeful.
“Yeah. That was - that was good, G,” he says, and it’s as if by calling Claude G, they’re back to where they were before they started, only now it feels better.
“Good,” G says, and smiles; his mouth still looks a little red, and Carter feels his dick twitch feebly. “Glad to hear it.”
Carter nods. ”Yeah. I’m gonna go and wash my hands before I head back into my room.”
“Suit yourself,” G says and gestures towards the bathroom. There’s purple bruises forming on his wrist and Carter feels a thrill at it; he put them there, Claude let him put them there, deliberately and not as a byproduct of hockey.
Carter washes his hands thoroughly, scrubbing between his fingers and up his wrists. He splashes water on his face, too, and finds himself staring in the mirror just for a little while, wondering if there’s a difference in his eyes, his expression, now that he’s - he’s not sure what he did, but he thinks that wasn’t the typical kneeling experience.
“All good?” he asks, when he steps back into the room. G is still sitting on the edge of the bed, crumpled tissues on the nightstand and his phone in his hand.
“Yeah. I need to - I have to make a call.”
Carter nods. “Say hi to Ry from me.”
It’s getting late; he still has a bedtime routine to go through in preparation for tomorrow.
He has a good feeling about the game.