The loud slap of the puck slamming into the boards startled Trebor from his thoughts making him jump. Frowning he tried to watch where the little black disk was at all times but his eyes kept straying towards the players. His eyes constantly searching for the one that said McGavin. The only way he had to distinguish one player to the next.
Blowing on his fingers he tried to warm them up. He never imagined hockey being all that interesting before. He’d never been one to play sports and if he did it was soccer. How different was soccer from hockey? Of course he hadn’t played since he was in middle school. By the time he’d gotten into high school he’d concentrated on his grades to the exclusion of everything else. Getting good grades to ensure he got into a good school didn’t leave him much time for anything else.
The bench shifted as someone joined him. Glancing up he found Braylin grinning at him. Sweat dripping from his we hair, his helmet hanging from his hand by the chin strap. “Having fun” he asked. He was barely breathing hard despite having played for almost two hours.
His brow furrowed as he stared intently at the ice and the players on the ice. “I don’t understand the plays. It just looks like a bunch of guys chasing a black disc across the ice.”
Snorting Braylin blurted “it’s a little more than that.”
“Why don’t all the players wear the gear the goalie wears” he asked.
“Because we need to be able to move fast” he laughed “are you really interested in this?”
“I wouldn’t be asking if I weren’t” he said “I get that the goalie’s job is to keep the opposing team from getting the puck into the net. Why does he need all that gear?”
“Have you ever been hit by a puck before” he asked trying not to laugh.
“Never” he shook his head “but you have.” It was a statement not a question. He’d seen the bruises that covered Braylin’s body.
“Then let me inform you. It hurts. It hurts like hell” Braylin enthused rubbing his side. “I’ve had my ribs cracked before and concussions from being hit in the head.”
“Weren’t you wearing your helmet” he asked staring at the helmet dandling from Braylin’s hands.
“Well yeah mostly” he shrugged ruefully.
“Uh huh that’s what I thought” Trebor grunted giving him a knowing glare.
“Hey don’t give me that look” he cried pulling Trebor to his lap when he moved to get up.
Struggling to get up Trebor demanded “what’s the point of having protective gear if you don’t wear it? You could have ruptured your spleen or gotten internal bleeding.”
“None of that happened” he pulled Trebor’s head down to kiss his lips.
“Eww gross” he cried pushing him away “you’re all sweaty.”
“I thought you liked me all hot and sweaty” he gave him one more kiss before releasing him.
Adjusting his clothes he glared at the pink haired male. “This is different and you know it” he huffed.
Braylin followed him with his eyes tempted to pull him back but resisted the urge. No doubt the catcalls and whistles from the guys on the ice were upsetting him. “You’re right. I’m sorry. It is different.” He waved to some the guys who were leaving. “Give me ten minute to wash some of this sweat off then we can go to lunch.”
Keeping his back turned towards him he crossed his arms in front of him. Shrugging Braylin didn’t wait for a reply just walked towards the locker room hoping he’d still be out there waiting for him by the time he came out again.
Checking his phone Trebor said “you’re late.”
“Sorry” he smiled sheepishly “the coach wanted to talk to me.”
“He’s not upset you weren’t here yesterday, is he?”
There was concern in his voice and worry in his eyes that Braylin found endearing. “He wasn’t too happy but he’s okay now. I had to tell him about us though.”
“Us” he asked looking towards the ice “is there an us?”
“Would you like there to be an us” he countered mouth twitching watching the mild irritation flash in Trebor’s eyes.
“I don’t want to play any games” he muttered “if that’s what all of this is then tell me. I’m okay with the idea that I’m just a booty call when you’re in town.” He snapped his mouth shut as a hard painful lump formed inside his chest making it difficult to breathe.
“But” Braylin prompted moving forward tilting Trebor’s chin up “you’re hoping for something more.”
Closing his eyes he nodded “no one has ever gone out of their way to do what you did for me. I’m used to having to handle things on my own.” Moving restlessly he turned away “I know we hardly know each other. Yet it feels like…”
“Forever” Braylin finished for him. Taking his hand he started walking them towards the exit. “I don’t want a booty call or friends with benefits sort of thing. I want a good old-fashioned relationship. I want to tell everyone you’re my boyfriend.”
“Your boyfriend” he repeated coming to a stop “you want me to be your boyfriend?”
The way he said it like he could hardly believe anyone would want him tugged at Braylin’s heart strings. “Why wouldn’t I? You’re a doctor. You’re going to be the best damn heart surgeon in the world.”
“Do you have any idea how much time and effort it’ll take to get there” he asked watching Braylin as he shook his head. “I have to work long hours. Get extra training. There will be days, weeks maybe even months when you’ll hardly ever see me. When you do, I’ll be so tired I’ll barely know who you are. All I’ll want to do is sleep. Maybe eat. Are you able to handle that?”
“I … don’t know” he conceded.
“At least your honest” Trebor said resuming their walk towards the exit.
“Hey wait a minute” he called after him reaching out to him. “Not so fast. Dating me isn’t going to be a picnic either. My hours are going to be crazy especially during hockey season. I have to train. Practice. Go to games. Travel. I’ll be gone for weeks. Maybe even for months at a time. It doesn’t just stop when hockey season ends. There’s promotional tours. Signings.”
“I hadn’t thought about that” Trebor admitted “it sounds impossible.”
“Nothing’s impossible” he tilted Trebor’s face up to his “do you trust me?”
“You know I do” he mumbled shifting his eyes attempting to look away.
“Do. You. Trust. Me.” He spoke each word slow and clear pausing after each one as he said it. “Be honest. Do you really trust me?”
Looking up he met Braylin’s gaze. Calm and steady. Sincere mixed with something else that appeared to be love shining back at him. “I do” he said firmly surprising both of them with the vehemence in which he spoke. “But how do we make this work when there’s so much against it? Us?”
“Only if we let it” he said leaning in close mouth hovering just above Trebor’s. “We’ll both have to make it work. Make adjustments.”
“I’m not afraid of a little hard work” Trebor said closing the minuscule gap between them. Pressing his lips to Braylin’s. Pulling apart he asked “does this mean you want to meet my parents?”
“If you want me to” he said taking his hand to resume their walk again. “I’m sure the clean up crew are waiting for us to leave so they can lock up and go.”
“Oh” he bit his lip cheeks turning red. “I thought we were alone in here.”
“Don’t worry I’m sure they were too busy to notice us and if they did they’ve seen a lot worse than two guys kissing.” When they were outside he asked “where would you like to go for lunch?”
Opening his mouth “Chin…” His voice was abruptly cut off by a hand covering his mouth.
“Don’t say it” he pleaded “I like Chinese as much as the next guy but I draw the line at eating it three days in a row. It’s more than I can take.”
“Then you decide” he said jerking his face away “I happen to like Chinese.”
Braylin gave him a curious look asking “why?”
“I…” he hesitated a moment thinking “don’t know.” Bursting into self-conscious laughter he explained “because there’s a Chinese restaurant on the way home from the hospital that I stop at all the time. I don’t have wait for it to be delivered and I don’t have to cook either.”
“I see” he chuckled “so it’s not that you like it that much it’s just convenient.”
“Yeah I guess” he mumbled.
“We’re going to this great little French restaurant. The food is awesome.” He went on to describe the atmosphere and the cuisine before he realized the odd expression Trebor was giving him. “What” he asked watching him.
“I’m not eating frog’s legs” he gagged.
“That’s not the only thing on the menu” he smiled “besides frog’s legs are a lot better than the cat and dog meat you get at your local Chinese establishment.”
“They do not serve cat and dog meat” he protested. “That’s just an old wives tale. They eat normal meat like beef, pork and chicken.”
“And octopus and squid…”
“At least it’s not snail” he turned a chalky white at the mention of it. “I’m not eating snails.”
“I bet you’ll like it once you’ve tried it” Braylin winked at him. “You need to expand your palate.” He unlocked the doors holding the passenger side door open for Trebor.
“My palate is just fine” he huffed getting inside the car. Once they were driving for a while he said “maybe one day I’ll make you a home cooked meal.”
Glancing over at him from the driver’s seat he asked “you can cook?”
“Watch the road” he braced himself against the dash. “I know it’s shocking and all but I wish you’d keep your eyes on the road.”
“Let’s go grocery shopping after we eat” he suggested “that way you can cook for me and I can judge for myself whether you can cook or not.”
“You’re really going to have to get over your fear of the elevator” Braylin huffed setting the grocery bags on the counter. “I am not going to lug groceries up five flights of stairs again.”
“I told you to take the elevator and I’d meet you there” Trebor said starting to take the items out that they purchased from the organic specialties store he talked Braylin into taking him. Opening one of the cupboards he frowned “you weren’t joking about having nothing in your kitchen.”
“Why would I lie” he said waving a hand towards a pile of take out menus. “I have plenty of choices.”
“Then you’re in for a treat” he enthused even as his frown increased opening one empty cupboard after another. “I think we have a problem.”
Watching him his amusement growing Braylin asked in a mock serious tone “what problem would that be?”
“Well you don’t seem to own any cooking utensils. I mean who doesn’t have at least one pot or pan? I don’t think I even saw any actual dishes to eat off of either.” Slamming the nearest cupboard door he said “in order for me to cook we’ll have to go shopping for everything I need to cook it in.”
“In my defense I did tell you I didn’t have anything” his lips twitched fighting the urge to laugh.
“You’re making fun of me” Trebor huffed crossing his arms “you knew I didn’t understand exactly what you meant by nothing. I never dreamed that literally meant you had nothing in your kitchen.”
“What’s the big deal” he shrugged nonchalantly “we can go shopping for everything you need tomorrow and order out tonight.”
“But I….” glaring at the groceries “you’re right.”
“I’ll order your favorite…Chinese” he grinned ducking just in time to miss being hit by the tomato Trebor launched at his head. “Hey watch it.”
“I don’t want Chinese” he huffed “I wanted a home cooked Italian meal.”
“You can have Italian tomorrow. After you cook it.”
“If I cook it for you” he pouted lifting another tomato and tossing from hand to hand.
“Don’t do it” Braylin warned raising his hands as if to shield himself.
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t.”
“One” he grinned “you’ll have to buy more.”
“Nope not good enough” he shook his head “I already have to go shopping. What’s one more tomato?”
“Um” he scratched his head “you don’t like mess. You’ll have to clean it up.”
“True” he agreed lowering his hand “but I already have to clean up one mess what’s another?”
“What if I ask you real nice not to do it?”
Lowering his pitching arm Trebor considered his words. “That might work if you asked” he raised his arm “I’m waiting. Ask me.”
Braylin walked forward a grin spreading across his face confident that he’d get his way. “Please don’t throw that tomato at me.” He closed the gap between them wrapping his arms around Trebor hands resting on his hips. “I knew you wouldn’t” he winked giving Trebor a soft sweet kiss.
Pulling back eyebrows raised “you think I won’t?”
“Nope” shaking his head grinning.
“Wrong” he said smashing the tomato on top of Braylin’s head. Juice and seeds ran down his face and into his eyes.
“You’re so going to pay for that” he threatened.
“Only if you catch me” he said running towards the door laughing like a little kid.
Catching up to him he tripped Trebor sending sprawling onto the floor face down. “You have to be quicker than that to get away from me.”
“Who said I wanted to get away” he asked turning onto his back.
“Oh no” he protested jumping on top of him “you aren’t going to say you let me catch you.” He pinned Trebor to the floor “I think this requires a special kind of punishment.” Running his fingers along Trebor’s sides watching him flinch. Smiling “are you ticklish?”
“No” he protested as the pink haired man’s fingers dug into his sides making him squirm attempting to get away. “Stop! Please stop” he gasping for air.
“You promise to never throw another tomato or anything else at me” he asked fingers poised to launch another tickle attack.
“I promise” he gasped “please just don’t tickle me anymore.”
“Alright” he shifted his weight “remember your promise or else you’ll get another visit from the tickle monster.