RATING: PG-13 swearing, slash
CAST: Jack Johnson, Patrick Kane, other Team USA players
DEDICATION: Team USA, for being more than I could ever have imagined.
DISCLAIMER: It's all lies!
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Jack Johnson's POV. Don't worry, Jack Johnson and Patrick Kane don't get it on. This is set during the 2010 Winter Olympics. There are 6 guys on Team USA named Ryan--7 if you include Bobby Ryan.
"You're never going to believe this."
"What about him?"
I lean back into my chair and grin.
We were all having lunch together in the Olympic village cafeteria, cramped around a table that had sat eight comfortably until Bobby Ryan asked if he could join us, then pulled up a chair without waiting for an answer. He was followed by Zach Parise, Ryan Kesler and Joe Pavelski and next thing I knew we were all squeezed together shoulder to shoulder, Patrick Kane's elbow digging into my ribs as he texted furiously.
"Dude, quit texting your girlfriend," I grumbled, nudging him away.
"It's not a girl, it's Toews," he muttered, frowning slightly in concentration as he tried to keep typing while Erik Johnson - who I'd shoved him into - pushed him back into me. I dropped a forkful of mac and cheese into my lap.
"Like I said, quit texting your girlfriend," I growled as I wiped my pants.
Half the table started snickering and Kaner looked around at everyone, confused for a moment before it dawned on him why they were laughing.
"Oh, haha, yeah, very funny everyone," he said his dopey smile appearing briefly before he was distracted by another text. He held up his phone to read the message and jabbed his elbow into my ribs again.
"Okay, that's it--no more texting for you." I grabbed the phone out of his hands and shoved it into my pocket, deftly fending off his flailing arms as he tried to get it back.
"I'll give it back after lunch, lover boy."
I settled back into my chair to finish the rest of my lunch, but Kane was still trying to get his phone from me, reaching his arm around behind my back and making ineffective grabbing motions at my pocket. The only thing he managed to do was whiff past me and partly grope Ryan Suter's ass. Ryan stood up abruptly and glared past me at him, looking extremely violated.
Kane coughed nervously. "Uh, sorry, I was just trying to get my phone back."
"Pretty sure your phone isn't up my ass, buddy," Ryan said loudly, causing the table of Dutch speed skaters next to us to turn and stare. He smiled awkwardly at them, then sat down and buried his face in his hands as all the guys started laughing.
"After lunch, I said." I patted Kane's head and went back to my mac and cheese, food of champions.
He pouted, but grudgingly accepted that he wasn't getting his phone back until I was done eating. It beeped at least another six, seven times in the next five minutes and I started to wonder if Toews really was his girlfriend. Kane sipped his soda and looked forlornly at me, hands wrapped around his cup, thumbs twitching as if he was in withdrawal.
We all finished lunch and as I stood up to go, he sprang to my side and looked at me expectantly.
"Don't even think of going anywhere near my ass," I warned him, just as the Dutch speed speed skaters walked past me. They gave me a strange look, but kept walking.
"It's after lunch. Hand it over," he whined.
I pulled the phone out of my pocket. What the hell were they talking about that he couldn't wait five minutes? I started reading his messages and turned my back to him as he made a grab for the phone. Ryan Kesler grabbed him from behind and put him in a headlock. "So what's it say?" Kes asked, both of them laughing as Kane tried to escape his grasp.
"The usual crap. Trash talking. Bad spelling." I kept scrolling through the messages. "Toews has your teddy bear?"
"Not mine! It's for my sister. Let me go, already!" He scowled up at Kes, who responded by tightening his grip and beaming brightly. He's not too bad for a Buckeye.
I was disappointed by what I was reading. There was absolutely nothing incriminating about either person in the texts. I decided to look through his photos instead and stopped in shock when I saw the first one.
Kane noticed the expression on my face and frowned. "What? What are you looking at?"
"Nothing," I replied quickly, locking his phone so the screen went blank. Kes released him and he swiped the phone from my hand. "The two of you are the most boring people on the planet."
I couldn't be further from the truth.
"So what did you see? What was in that photo?"
I rub the back of my neck, not in a hurry to answer.
"Was it something from that limo?"
I shake my head. "Nothing as tame as that."
"He was kissing someone."
"That's it? Why's that a big deal?"
"Well, the someone had a five o'clock shadow."
Kaner came to my room a little later, like I thought he would. He knew what I'd seen and he was trying to do some damage control.
"Hi Jack," he said nervously, closing the door behind him.
I stared at him, or more accurately, through him.
"Hey, so I think you may have seen a photo on my phone..." He paused, like he was hoping that I hadn't seen it and that it would all go away.
"I saw it," I said, and his face went a little white.
He swallowed. "Umm, please don't tell anyone about it okay? It was just a stupid thing I did when I was drunk. I don't want people to think... I'm not..."
"Gay?" I said loudly.
He jumped, as if I'd just screamed through a megaphone. He came over and put his hand on my shoulder, looking me in the eyes. "I'm not, okay? I'm not."
I grabbed his wrist tightly and forced his arm down. "Don't touch me."
He stepped back and shook his head. "I'm not," he said again, softer this time. He looked down at his toes and started repeating himself, as if he thought that saying it enough times would make me forget what I'd seen. Finally, he fell silent and I let him stand there.
After I thought I'd let him sweat enough, I asked, "So who was that in the photo with you?"
He looked back up at me, a new expression of horror on his face. "I can't tell you."
"Sure you can. You can tell me," I stepped closer to him. "Or you can tell the team."
"You wouldn't do that!" He was desperate, wild eyes and open mouth.
"Of course I wouldn't right now, that would totally fuck the team over. But after the Games end..." I shrugged.
Kaner looked miserable as he begged me, "Please don't do this, Jack. I'll do anything, just please don't say anything."
"Just tell me who it is, and I'll keep quiet."
He shook his head. "No, I can't. Nobody can know about him."
"Toews?" I asked. "No, it can't be him. You're stupid enough to have a photo of him on your phone--you would have mushy texts too. Another teammate? Versteeg?"
"No, it's not him," he said quickly, but I'd seen his reaction when I said the word "teammate".
"So it's one of the Blackhawks." I could just go through all the names in the roster and watch his reaction to each name. He was easier to read than a children's book.
He shook his head again. "I'm not going to tell you."
As far as I could tell, he was telling the truth. I was confused. He'd reacted so strongly when I asked him if it was a teammate. He crossed his arms and frowned with stubborn determination. And then it occurred to me--I was right when I thought it was one of his teammates, I just didn't have the right team in mind.
It was someone on our team.
"So did he tell you who it is?"
"Wait for me to finish my story."
"You are so annoying."
I smile. "I know."
"I'm glad it's not Toews, though."
"Yeah, you would be."
Threats weren't working on him. He knew I wouldn't say anything, at least until the Olympics were over, so he just dug in his heels and refused to talk. It was time to give him something more immediate to worry about.
I caught him completely by surprise and he barely reacted when I grappled him face down on to the bed, pinning him down with my body weight as I twisted his right arm. He yelped in pain and struggled, trying to roll around and push me off at the same time but he couldn't do much--my position gave me the advantage.
"Guess we'll have to do it the hard way." I twisted his arm just a little more and he wriggled even harder, swearing as he tried to get free.
Just at that moment, the door opened and my roommate Erik Johnson walked in. Kaner and I froze and turned our heads back to look at him. Erik blinked at us as Kane widened his eyes, hoping for salvation.
"I'll just come back later," he said agreeably and left, closing the door behind him.
"Spill it," I growled. Holding him down was getting a little tiring.
"No! Stop it, you're going to break my arm." He looked like he might actually be tearing up.
"Don't be ridiculous, the worst I can do is dislocate it. You've been watching too many movies."
"Need arm... to play hockey..." he gasped.
I decided that he'd had enough and let him go. He immediately rolled onto his back and sat up, rubbing his arm. "You are such an asshole."
"You're an idiot," I stated. "Didn't you learn anything from the whole limo photos thing? Or I guess you hadn't learned anything from punching out a cab driver so you wouldn't have learned anything from that either."
"I didn't punch him out--" he started saying indignantly, but I interrupted him. "It doesn't matter what happened; it just matters what comes out in the papers. You can't keep getting into these situations."
"You just saw it by accident." He'd settled down and was looking out through the window into the distance, where the mountains rose into the clouds.
"And anyone else could have seen it by accident." I sighed. "What if it hadn't been me? What if you left your phone in a cab?"
He glanced down at his hands, thinking about what I said, like he was really considering what the consequences would have been. Then he looked up at me with a crooked smile. "I would have gone back and beaten up the cab driver. Got the phone back."
"That's so not funny," I said, trying my best not to lose it, but I failed after just a few seconds and I cracked up. Kaner lost it too and we were both almost bent over double, laughing our hearts out.
Erik came back to our room again, but this time he just opened it halfway, took one look at us, and closed the door again without saying a word.
"I'm disappointed you didn't actually dislocate his arm."
Kaner brought me a plate with scrambled eggs, three strips of bacon and hash browns just like I'd asked, but I was so nervous I barely felt like eating. We were facing Switzerland and I'd played against Hiller enough to know that he could be trouble, but we could have been playing Jamaica and I would have still felt the same way. It wasn't a nervous worry but a nervous excitement. It felt like the start of the best time of my life.
I glanced up and everyone at the table was looking at me with mild curiosity. Twelve guys around two small tables had apparently worked so well the last time that we were doing it again.
"Didn't realize that there were waiters here. How do I get one of those?" Kes asked me pointedly.
I put my arm around Kane and grinned. "He's not so much a waiter as he is a..." I paused, searching for the right word as he rolled his eyes.
"Slave," I said triumphantly, just as the same group of Dutch speed skaters from the day before came within earshot. They moved hurriedly past the empty table they'd been heading for.
Kes polished off his glass of orange juice and asked, "Lost a bet?"
"Yeah, you'll all be very interested to know that Kaner here-" I felt his body tense up under my arm. "-can not, in fact, suck his own dick."
Everyone laughed, then one by one had the same thought and glanced briefly at Ryan Miller, who pretended to be concentrating on his eggs before finally blurting, "I can't. You guys happy now? Stop looking at me!"
Kane had relaxed after what I'd said, muttering under his breath. "Thought you were going to say something else."
"That would just be mean," I responded, just as softly.
I made pretty good use of him after that. He did my laundry, carried my bags around, went out to get Tim Hortons for me late one night and just about anything else I could think of. For the record, he gives pretty good neck rubs. But the reality of the situation was that I wouldn't have said anything even if he hadn't done all those things, and he knew it. In a strange way, I think he settled into that role because it was a role that he enjoyed playing.
I kept pressing him to tell me who was in that photo with him, but he refused. He answered "some guy called Ryan" once, but it was with a smile on his face, knowing that it barely narrowed it down. By that time, I had caught a couple of subtly exchanged glances - nothing anyone would notice unless they were looking for it, like I was - and I was pretty sure I knew who it was. I understood why Kane had fought so hard to protect him.
He never told me who it was.
"So who is it?" He's impatient now, his voice annoyed.
"I'm not telling you."
"Then why the fuck did you waste my time with that story?"
"I'm wasting your time? That's harsh."
"It's just that--" He stops. "We could have done something else."
He slides his hand across my thigh, but I stop him, pushing it away. He looks at me, surprised and hurt.
"I don't want to start anything I can't finish."
"There's a pill for that, I think." He's trying to disguise his disappointment with a joke, but he doesn't do it very well. Best actor in the world, but he can't hide anything from me.
"I shouldn't even be here. Not now." Stupid actions can have consequences.
"I won't be able to see you later, after the game. You're not going to want to see me."
I narrow my eyes. "You won't want to see me."
He sighs. "I don't want to fight."
I don't want to fight either, so I lean in and kiss him. He kisses me back, but he's not all there, a part of him held back by anger over a stupid Facebook photo of me and a girl that I didn't untag in time. We're done with that fight, but it's not gone.
The truth is that I don't know why I told him about Kane. I'm pretty sure that whatever Kaner has going on is going to end when all of us leave Vancouver. He has a resolution. I have questions. He knows what's ahead of him and he's not changing a thing. I don't know if I could make the same choice. I don't know if I would.
"Stop thinking," he murmurs, wrapping his arms around me, and I do, and he does, and none of it matters right now.