Rating: NC-17 overall
Pairing/Characters: Jack Johnson/Drew Doughty, Sidney Crosby
Dedication: herwhereabouts, abby20, robi0688, early_afternoon and joolzie, thanks for all your support, feedback and encouragement. :D
Disclaimer: It's all lies!
Author's Notes: This is a sequel to Tangled Up in Blue and One Last Summer, but it's not necessary to read those fics to follow this one. This is set just after the ending of Tangled Up in Blue (1/8/11) when Jack signed a long contract extension with the Kings. Who are these guys?
Blue Moon, Part 7
The four days passed quickly. We had some really tough practices; Coach wanted us to keep our edge in the absence of game situations which wasn't really possible, but we tried our best to do it. There were some really heated scrimmages too, and even Drew and I ended up having to be separated by our teammates after I'd checked him hard into the end boards and he got up and cross checked me in the back in response, swearing up a storm.
Aside from some crude joke Greener made about how crappy our bedroom talk must be, nobody really thought anything of it. It occurred to me later on how strange it was that we'd gone home and had sex, when just hours earlier I'd have punched him in the face if Brownie hadn't grabbed hold of me. But that was just the way it worked. Sid and I had always gone against each other really hard in practice when we were teammates, and it had never been an issue off the ice.
Our flight got in to Pittsburgh in the afternoon and Greener and I watched The Cartoon Network together until it was time to leave for dinner. I felt nervous, then I felt stupid for feeling nervous about having dinner with an old friend because it was just going to be dinner. I went over to Scuds' room and knocked on his door, and we got a cab over to some Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar place that Sid had picked. I saw something on the menu posted at the restaurant entrance with filet mignon and lobster, and it reminded me of Drew, making me smile.
He was already there waiting for us, even though we were on time. He broke into a huge smile when he saw us, and I gave him a big hug. He seemed a little tense at first, and I wondered if it was to do with returning to all the cameras and questions when he wasn't even close to having any of the answers.
Scuds and Sid did most of the talking at first, with Scuds asking about this guy and that, and then sharing stories about their Cup run, which I had to admit made me feel pretty jealous. Later on, when Sid was more relaxed, the conversation shifted to our days together at Shattuck-St. Mary's, and I shared a couple of embarrassing stories about him. He immediately retaliated with some stories about me that I'd tried to forget, and the only person who benefited was Scuds, who'd picked up some valuable blackmail material.
We were there for almost three hours, and Scuds and I had been drinking sake and beers the whole time. Sid didn't drink anything but sparkling water (because of his concussion, I guess). I became more relaxed myself, partly because of the sake and partly because I was slipping back to that comfortable place I shared with Sid that didn't have a time or location.
"Want to come back to my place before they kick us out?" he joked, knowing full well that that would never happen.
"Sure," I answered without really thinking, then regretted it when Scuds declined, saying he didn't want to stay out too late.
Sid offered to drop Scuds off at the hotel, and on the drive back I told him I'd changed my mind about going over to his place.
"Don't be such a wuss, Jack," he said. "At least Scuds is an old man, he has an excuse."
He glanced at me and the look in his eyes didn't match the mocking tone of his voice. I could see how much he needed me, and there was no way I could say no, not with the alcohol in my blood and the memories racing through my mind.
When we got to his place, he just went straight up to his bedroom and I followed him, neither of us talking. He left the lights off and leaned in to kiss me, but I turned my head away from him.
"I don't want this," I said, but I stayed where I was, unable to leave.
"Then why are you here? Why aren't you with him, if you love him so much?" he asked, cupping my chin and forcing me to look him in the eyes. "You still love me, and you'll always love me."
"No!" I shouted, and I gave him a hard shove, making him stagger back a little. "Don't you get it? Don't you fucking get it? This isn't--it's not love. It's fucked up and I can't do it anymore."
"But you still want it," he said accusingly. "You still want me and you want him--you just don't want to have to choose."
I swallowed hard, wanting to deny it, but there was an element of truth to what he said. I wasn't in love with him, and I knew that in my heart, but there was something that would always be a part of me that wanted to make him happy, to always protect him and give him what he needed because I knew nobody else would give it to him.
"You didn't come here to say no," he continued, and he was standing in front of me again, his face so close to mine it was almost touching.
"Maybe I did," I said softly, wrapping my arms around him. "I do love you, and you're right, I'll always love you, but this--this isn't going to make either of us happy. Maybe for a little while you'll think you're happy, but it's not real, and it's just going to make things worse because we'll keep going this way and nothing will change."
"This is all I have, you fucking asshole. Why do you even fucking care? It's just one night and then you go back to your real happiness." Sid's eyes narrowed, flashing dangerously in the dark.
"I don't want this to be all you have," I said, kissing his forehead. "I want you to have what I have; I want to see you happy; you deserve to be happy."
"You know I can't have what you have," he said, looking defeated.
"You can," I said, as he looked up slowly at me. "It's hard for you, yeah, a lot harder than it is for us, but it's not impossible. You've always known who you could trust, and you're smart."
"Smarter than you, that's for sure," he said, a trace of a smile on his face.
"At least you'll have the chance." I brushed his hair back from his head, the dark waves reminding me of Drew. "But if I don't say no to you now, you're not going to have a chance at all."
He walked away from me and sat down on his bed, resting his head in his hands. I had to strain to hear what he said when he started talking, and I went over to sit by his side.
"You know what the worst part is? There's so much time to think. At least when it's a broken bone, or a sprain or something, you can rehab; you can do something. All I can do is think." I put my arm around him and he rested his head on my shoulder. "And you know what I think about? How there's nothing. I'm not supposed to think about hockey and there is nothing else."
"It won't always be that way," I said, but I didn't get any reaction from him.
"Hey Jack, can you stay with me tonight? Not for that, I just want you here with me," he said, and I could tell that he meant it.
"Of course." As kids we would have done anything for each other and I still felt that way, but it wasn't the same reckless, blind devotion anymore. I would always be there for him, but I wasn't going to compromise what I had with Drew to do it.
We stripped down to our boxers and got into bed together. It was strange, being in bed with him just to go to sleep and not do anything else, but it felt right. We lay on our sides, me behind him just like always, and I held him until he fell asleep, his breathing even and slow.
We got up really early the next morning, while it was still dark outside, and Sid drove me back to my hotel. He looked relieved, like there was a new sense of calm about him, and I felt relieved myself. He put the radio on and we didn't talk on the way back, but I gave him a big smile when I got out of the car, and he smiled back at me--not quite his fifteen-year-old smile, and not quite his magazine smile, but something in between.
Greener woke up when I came into the room and mumbled a question that sounded like "Where have you been?"
"I was with Sid," I said, taking my clothes off and getting into my bed.
"How late were you guys out?" he asked, becoming a little easier to understand. "I'm going to tell Dewey you're cheating on him again."
I threw a pillow at his head and turned over on my side, and it only took a few minutes for me to fall fast asleep again.
We lost to the Pens in overtime the next night. It was a game we should have had, and none of us were happy afterwards. Sid wasn't their only significant injury and practically half of their forwards were from the AHL. There was nothing to do but forget about the game and try to get the win in Washington, which was where we were headed next.
Sid watched from the press box, and I went to get coffee with him after the game. Coffee had been the plan, but I changed my mind at the last moment and got a vanilla milkshake instead. When he heard me, Sid changed his order as well, and asked for a strawberry milkshake.
"It's not the same, playing without you on the other side," I said, automatically picking the cherry out of the whipped cream and putting it next to his before I spooned some of the thick milkshake into my mouth.
"Yeah, not that it happens too often, anyway." He sipped some of his milkshake, looking just like a little kid.
"You know you're the best, right? And you'll still be the best when you come back." I looked at him, holding back all the things I really wanted to tell him.
"What else can I be?" he asked, but it wasn't arrogance, it was determination driven by fear--the same fear that drove me every day.
"You always get what you want," I said, sipping the melted part of my milkshake through the straw.
"Not always." He grinned at me, popping both of the cherries into his mouth.
"You know that if I--" I started to say, but he raised his hand, interrupting me.
"I know," he said. "I know. You were there for me, and that's all that matters. You've always been there for me."
"And you've always been there for me." I bit my lip, stirring my milkshake slowly. "You used to be my whole world."
"The world's a little bigger than the two of us now." Sid smiled, and suddenly I remembered the time we'd climbed onto the roof of his dorm, reckless and hopelessly stupid, just so we could lie there and look up at the stars together, holding hands. It was quiet and dark and cold but I hadn't wanted to leave.
"It is, but that's a good thing," I said, knowing that we still had our whole lives ahead of us and that we'd both make more memories like that with other people, and that I had so much to look forward to with Drew.
"It's different between us now, isn't it?" He turned his gaze on me, realization dawning in his eyes. "Maybe not for you; you let go of me a long time ago."
"You know what the other side of letting go is, don't you?" I said, resisting the urge to brush a stubborn curl out of his face.
"What's that?" he asked, frowning a little.
I smiled in response. "You get to be free."
We drank our milkshakes, talking and laughing and finishing each other's thoughts the way best friends always do.