The rest of the students finally start showing up the weekend before Martin Luther King Day. Classes will start on Tuesday, and Ryan can't believe he's actually looking forward to it, a little, just for something to do.
That doesn't mean he's not going to enjoy the hell out his last Sunday with no schoolwork and no practice, though. By early afternoon, he hasn't showered or put on clothes other than shorts and a hoodie, and he's packed into the den with most of the rest of the team to watch football on the huge HD TV. Smitty, Jared, and Mark are all raging Pats fans -- they’re entertaining as hell to watch.
By halftime, they're arguing over what takeout they should order and how many buffalo wings each of them can eat. The doorbell rings in the middle of one of Jonesy's rants about Ryan doesn't even know what.
"I'll get it," Tim says.
He comes back in a few minutes later with a tall guy with a goofy smile and a duffel bag that looks vaguely familiar.
"Seabs?" Ladd says, looking up from the other couch.
"I missed you, babe!" Seabs declares, and he doesn't get farther than that because Ladd launches himself off the couch and jumps on him.
"You fucking bastard, what are you doing here?" Ladd asks, but he's grinning like a madman and holding onto Seabs with his arms and legs.
"Christmas present," Seabs says into Ladd's shoulder. They're still not letting go of each other. They're practically humping in the doorway. Ryan can't make himself look away.
They don't stop, like, ever. They cram onto the couch, sitting half on top of each other and talking to each other like they're the only ones in the room. It's kind of rude, and Ryan's not like, trying to eavesdrop or anything, but it's basically impossible not to. It's not like he can tell half of what they're saying as they throw out names and places that he has no hope of following.
"Visiting Sharpy in Lethbridge," Seabs says.
"What, did your moms get you guys matching Christmas gifts?"
"Pretty much." Seabs grins. "You complaining?"
"Oh my god, would you two shut up?" Smitty snaps. "You're like twelve-year-old girls. The Patriots are on."
"Testy ‘cause your boys are losing?" Ladd shoots back.
Ryan smirks. He's a Lions fan and is tired of taking shit about it, so he's fine watching Smitty's boys go down in flames.
Finally they take it back to Ladd's room, which is great, because no one actually wants to see that. But Seabs is apparently visiting until Wednesday night, so they're around all the time, groping each other.
Ryan swears they're not normal. No guys he ever knew were this handsy with each other. Not even the fact that they're Canadian can explain it, Ryan is pretty sure.
Seabs comes to practice with them and sits on the bench and chirps them, Ladd especially. Coach lets it go, because apparently he knows who Seabs is from scouting Michigan, and thinks it's a good opportunity for the team to hear what's wrong with them from someone else.
Classes start on Tuesday, and Ryan is glad to have an excuse to not hang around Ladd and Seabs for a while.
Except that apparently Ladd is in his Geology class, just his fucking luck.
He sits a few rows behind them and really hopes they don't turn around. It's kind of hard to pay attention to the professor when Ladd and Seabs are horsing around and whispering and generally being a distraction. Not like the professor is saying anything interesting, just passing out the syllabus and telling them they need to come to lecture, even though it's a big class.
The professor lets them out early, and Ryan hurries out, hoping he can pretend he didn't see them at all.
After practice that afternoon, Seabs is sitting in with them, joking around with a few of the guys. It's not like Ryan cares or anything, but Jesus, Seabs isn't on their team.
"What's going on tonight?" he hears Seabs asks Ladd.
"There's a GSA meeting," Ladd says, "but we can skip it if you wanna do something else."
"What? No way! Let's go to that!" Seabs sounds unreasonably excited, and seriously, what do they put in the water in Vancouver?
Ladd is usually out of the locker room before Ryan, but Seabs is slowing him down, so they kind of end up walking towards the student union together, but with a dozen steps between them. Seabs glances back towards Ryan a couple times, giving him a look and then elbowing Ladd.
Ladd just shrugs, but Seabs slows down until he catches up with them. "Laddy says you're going to GSA, too."
"Uh, yeah," Ryan says.
"That's awesome," Seabs says, grinning and slapping Ryan on the back.
"I guess," Ryan says. He doesn't really know what else to say, so he stays quiet while Ladd keeps talking to Seabs like he isn't even there.
As the three of them file into the meeting room, a few of the people already there just openly stare.
"Oh my god, they're multiplying," one of the girls says.
"Andrew, you are a joy," a guy sighs. Ben, Ryan thinks.
"Hey, guys, this is Seabs," Ladd says.
"Oh really?" Mike says, giving them both an appraising look.
"Have you been telling them about me, honey?" Seabs asks.
"Nothing good," Ladd says, grinning at him.
Ryan rolls his eyes and pushes past them. Jane's helping set up the chairs in the usual circle, but.
"Someone fucked up," she says. "Half of the chairs are missing."
"I can sit on the floor," Ryan tells her.
"I'll just use Laddy as a chair," Seabs declares and sits right down on Ladd's lap.
"Like hell you will, fatty," Ladd yells and pushes Seabs off.
"I am wounded, Andy. Wounded!”
"Oh my god, don't call me that." Ladd stands up and gestures to his chair. "You sit." Seabs does, and Ladd settles himself in his lap.
"Oof," Seabs says pointedly, but Ladd ignores him and rests his arms around Seabs' shoulders. The rest of the GSA is openly staring at them now.
"So freakin' cute," Ryan hears Lucy say.
Ladd and Seabs are not freakin’ cute. They are assholes. Just coming in here and being all over each other, while even the other guys here, the guys who are actually gay, don't do that. And the reason they don't, Ryan thinks, as he takes a seat at Jane's feet, is because they've had to be careful their entire lives. And it's pretty clear that Ladd and Seabs never had to learn to be careful of anything in their lives.
They think they're so cool for coming into the GSA and acting all open-minded when they have no fucking clue what it's like and --
"Down boy," Jane whispers, setting her hand on his shoulder.
Ryan sighs, leans back against her chair, and just tries to ignore them. He's the only one, though. No one's paying attention to Erin, who's trying her damndest to run the meeting, but it's spiraling out of control.
"No one's busy tonight," Ben hisses. "Why not?"
"Some of us have class in the morning," Lucy hisses back.
"It's the second day, no one will care if you're hung over," one of the juniors says. "Trust me."
"You're coming, right?" Jane leans over to ask him.
"To the party? That everyone's been talking about for the past 5 minutes?"
"Yeah, sure -- wait," Ryan looks at her suspiciously. "No."
"Oh, come on, Ryan! It's a party, you can avoid them."
Ryan sighs. "Fine. There better be beer."
Jane beams, and Ryan wonders why he lets her talk him into these things.
Erin dismisses them shortly after that, since no one is even pretending to pay attention anymore. "Come back on Thursday ready to be serious!" she says.
"Since when are we ever serious?" Jack asks.
The party is at some guy's house just off campus that looks a lot like the hockey house, but probably neater, and it definitely smells better. It's crowded when Ryan gets there, but not hockey party crowded, which is actually pretty nice. Ryan grabs a beer out of the fridge and wanders into the living room.
Jane is having a spirited conversation with Erin and Lucy at the end of the hall, so Ryan just points to where he'll be and hopes she sees it. He takes a seat on the couch and pretends to be really interested in the movie that's on the TV. He's guessing that no one's going to let him change it to hockey.
There are a few other people on the couch, and Ryan sort of pretends he's in the conversation with them, just so he doesn't look so pathetic. Ladd and Seabs are, like, holding court near the kitchen, telling stories that make the whole group laugh and fawn over them both. It's disgusting.
They're also blocking the access to more beer, which is just rude.
When Ladd disappears off somewhere, Ryan takes the opportunity to cut through the group with one muttered "Excuse me," and grab a couple of beers from the fridge. They're not as cold as the last one, probably replacements, but he's not going to complain.
"Hey, grab me one?" Seabs asks from behind him.
Ryan passes him one without saying anything.
"Thanks, Kes," Seabs says. They haven't actually been introduced, but he's been staying in their house for the past three days, so it's not really a surprise that Seabs knows his name.
"No problem," Ryan says, slamming the fridge shut.
"So what's your deal?" Seabs asks.
"Excuse me?" Ryan asks. He doesn't get why Seabs cares -- he's probably just spying for Ladd.
"Are you queer, or doing the PFLAG route like Laddy?"
"That's a whole shitload of none of your business," Ryan snaps. It's one thing for Jane to ask when he's coming into her space, but Seabs is another story. Ryan doesn't owe Seabs anything.
"You're not missing much," Seabs says, shrugging. "Laddy's handjob technique is for shit."
"What? No. I don't care -- why --" Ryan sputters. "I'm not..."
Seabs's phone starts ringing, and he holds a finger up in front of Ryan's face. "Hold on. It's the Mrs."
Ryan tunes out after Seabs answers with "Hey baby," because the last thing he needs is to hear yet another dude getting sloppy over his girlfriend. But he can't leave -- Seabs is blocking him in against the fridge. Ladd spots them then, and Ryan has never been so happy to see him in his life, because at least he'll take Seabs away.
But Seabs slaps at Ladd's hand when he tries to pull him away and points to the phone. Now Ladd is standing there, blocking Ryan in even more. Fuck. At least he can get to the beer. He grabs another one because he thinks he's gonna need it.
"Tell Duncs hi for me," Ladd says, "but that it's my weekend. Your ass is his like, every other day you losers have off."
Seabs doesn't say anything to Ladd, but he wiggles his ass in his direction. Ryan has to rewind the conversation in his head to make sure he heard those pronouns right. Seabs laughs at something the guy on the other end says before saying, "Love you," and hanging up.
"He's agreed on possession of land below the waist, but says you can apply for a visitor's pass above. If he gets pictures."
"Been there, done that, got the t-shirt," Ladd says. Then he remembers that Ryan is there and glares at him like Ryan's done something wrong, other than getting stuck here with these assholes. "Come on," Ladd says to Seabs, "I want you to meet some cool people."
"But --" Seabs says, but Ladd drags him away. To find cool people. In other words, people who aren't Ryan. Well, good. If Ladd is avoiding him for the rest of the night, it will be easier for Ryan to have a good time. Also, he needs a good fifteen minutes to recover from whatever the hell just happened.
He spends the rest of the party with Jane, hanging out and trying not to be weird or antisocial while also avoiding Ladd and Seabs at all costs.
It works out well enough, and he's having a good time, until Ladd comes up to him, looking resigned. "I need your help."
Ryan is immediately suspicious. "With what?"
"Seabs tried to match Ben shot for shot," Ladd says, rolling his eyes. "He's still conscious, but I'm gonna need help getting him back to the house."
Ryan looks over to the table where Seabs is leaning hard on Ben, who's at least five inches shorter and thirty pounds lighter but is still laughing and smiling brightly. "Yeah, okay."
He says goodbye to Jane and discovers she's a very huggy drunk. "Someone gonna walk you home?" he asks.
"We'll go in a group in a little bit, don't worry," she says, hugging him again.
Ladd has Seabs standing by the time Ryan gets over to them, and Seabs appears to be putting his whole weight on him.
Ryan grabs one of Seabs's arms and slings it around his shoulders.
"Come on, Seabsie, we're gonna go home," Ladd says.
"'Kay," Seabs says. They start walking. Seabs is clearly trying, but it's mostly Ladd and Ryan dragging him as he mumbles things.
"Duncs gonna be there?" he asks.
"Duncs is in Lethbridge, buddy."
"I miss Duncs," Seabs says sadly.
"I know," Ladd says, rolling his eyes.
It's kind of a long walk, and it's cold, and Seabs is heavy, but he's friendly. He keeps petting Ryan's shoulder.
"You're okay, Ryan," Seabs says.
"Thanks," Ryan says.
"I like you," Seabs continues. "You have my blessing."
Ryan doesn't even know what that means, but he says, "That means a lot, Seabs, thanks," in his humor-the-drunk-person voice. Ladd is frowning, but whatever.
They finally get to the house, and Ryan is so grateful Ladd's room is on the first floor. They dump Seabs into Ladd's bed, and he immediately starts snoring.
"That's gonna be fun tonight," Ladd says. "Thanks for helping me get him home." He sounds constipated when he says thank you to Ryan, and Ryan can't help be a little satisfied at that. Now Ryan can go to bed and not deal with them for a good 8 hours.
But somehow, instead of leaving, he's opening his mouth and asking Ladd, "Is he the reason you joined the GSA?"
Ladd shrugs. "Yeah."
"Is he ... I mean, people know about him and, uh, Duncs? And it's cool?"
"His friends know," Ladd says, "but he just figures that people at a GSA party are gonna be cool." He glares at Ryan like Ryan's gonna call up the Canadian Junior team and tell them Brent Seabrook is a flaming queer.
"I'm not gonna tell anyone, Jesus!" Ryan says.
"You better --"
"Get over yourself, Ladd. I have better things to do than care about your friends' lives." He turns and walks out and upstairs. He barely gets his sneakers and jeans off before he's falling into his bed, exhausted.
When Ryan gets back from classes the next day, Seabs is gone, and Ladd is moping on the couch in the living room. If Ryan didn't know that Seabs was dating another guy -- in love with another guy, his brain supplies with the memory from last night -- he'd swear there was something going on between them.
But Ladd's straight, so it would be wrong anyway.
Ryan jogs up the stairs so he can get away from Andrew Ladd and his manpain. But when he gets to his laptop, there's an email from Facebook: "Brent Seabrook wants to be your friend!"
There's a message with the friend request, too.
If you ever need to talk, you can totally hit up me or Duncs.
Ryan slams the lid of his laptop shut.
He didn't get enough sleep last night, so he gets in bed, pulls his covers over his head, and tries to take a nap. But it's hard to sleep when he can't breathe normally.
That just can't mean what he thinks it means. There's no way that Seabs should be able to tell. Ryan didn't do anything -- unless maybe he did. And if someone like Seabs can figure him out, then maybe other people can too, maybe they already have, and maybe --
Ryan makes himself hold his breath for 30 seconds and then let it all out slowly. He has got to calm down. Nobody knows, except Jane, and maybe Seabs. And Seabs isn't gonna tell anyone; if anything, Seabs is just going to understand. And maybe Seabs doesn't even know, maybe he means something totally different. Okay, that's not likely, but it's not the end of the world if Seabs knows. They have a mutually assured destruction thing going on anyway, so it's fine.
And he doesn't even have to accept Seabs's friend request. Just because Seabs is freakishly friendly doesn't mean Ryan has to be friends with Ladd's friends. But, well, Seabs is the only other hockey player Ryan's ever met who's like him and it just ... it might be nice to know him. Just in case.
Ryan throws back the covers and opens his laptop again. He confirms the friend request, but sends a message back: "Thanks, dude, but I have no idea what you're talking about."
Seabs's profile picture is him and Duncs with their arms thrown over each other's shoulders as they toast the camera, and his relationship status is Married to Duncan Keith.
It doesn't mean anything, because half of Ryan's team is “in a relationship” with the other half, except the few guys that actually have girlfriends. But it does mean something, and Ryan knows it means something, and that's...he doesn't know what exactly.
He needs his nap.
He manages to fall asleep this time, and he wakes up an hour later feeling more like a person.
He has two emails. One is a Facebook message from Brent Seabrook that says, "It's called gaydar, dude. Don't worry."
The next is a friend request from Duncan Keith with a message that says, "Seabs says I have to be your friend. Um, hi, I guess."
Ryan rolls his eyes at both messages, but hits confirm for Duncan anyway. He gets the feeling that giving Seabs what he wants is just easier. Hopefully Seabs will forget about him in three days and get another project.
His stomach growls loudly then, so he shuts his laptop and goes to dinner.
Ryan didn't think it was possible, but Ladd actually gets more obnoxious after Seabs leaves.
Ryan is watching him, waiting for him to act differently in case Seabs lets something slip, but all that happens is that he mopes for two days and then goes into obnoxious overdrive.
At GSA meetings, it's like he's grown extra hands just to fucking grope people with. His lap has always been prime real estate, but now it's like Ryan can never even see his face because there are several people sitting on his knees at a time. And Ladd will pet them and nuzzle them, and it's actually fucking gross. Even Jack jokingly calls him "Handsy McGroperson" one night.
But when he's with the team, it's like he's suddenly turned into the asshole Ryan thought he was going to be at the beginning of the year. It's not that he never hit on girls before, but Ryan is pretty sure he was never this obnoxious about it. He hits on their waitresses at team dinner two weeks in a row. He makes out with a forward from the women's hockey team and walks around looking smug the entire next day.
By the time Ben's birthday party rolls around, Ryan is ready to kill him.
He can't skip the party, because Ben's been cool to him, and it's his birthday -- and he's afraid of the guilt trip that will be laid if he misses it.
"Oh, you brought Ben a present!" Jane laughs when he finds her in the crowd.
"Uh," Ryan says. His hands are empty except the can of beer he picked up.
"Tight shirt," Jane says. "It should appease him well enough."
Jane nods across the room to where Ben is wearing a crown of rainbow ribbons and demanding a kiss from Mike. "It's my birthday!"
"He's not, I mean, he won't --" Ryan starts, his blood running cold.
"Oh no, not you," Jane assures him. "You might get your ass grabbed, but he'll stick to the willing for his other gifts."
It sucks how much of a relief that is.
He does give Ben a hug as consolation, squeezing him tight and lifting him off his feet.
"Thanks, baby," Ben says, and he doesn't try anything else.
Ryan is actually having a good time. Jack shows up in drag and sings Ben “Happy Birthday” like he's Marilyn Monroe or something while everyone cheers.
He doesn't notice when Ladd gets there, but he does notice when Ben yells across the room, "Andy! Come here right now and give me my birthday present!"
Ladd makes his way to Ben. "Ready for the best birthday present ever?" he asks. Then he grabs Ben around the waist, dips him, and kisses him right on the mouth. The kiss goes on for a long time. Ryan is pretty sure he sees tongue. Everyone is cat-calling and clapping, but Ryan feels like he's gonna be sick.
After about forever, they come up for air. Ben fans his face and, inexplicably, Ladd looks right at Ryan.
Ryan slams his beer down on the counter and walks out.
It's fucking freezing because it's January, but the goosebumps and the way the cold air feels hitting his lungs are a good distraction.
He hears footsteps behind him and sighs. "Jane, go back inside, it's freezing out."
"I'm Canadian," Ladd says behind him. "I can deal."
Ryan immediately tenses again. "You're from Vancouver, not Edmonton; it's not that impressive." Livonia gets colder than Vancouver does.
"Quit being a douche," Ladd says. "If you can't handle two dudes making out, maybe you're in the wrong club."
"It's not 'two dudes'," Ryan snaps. "It's you, coming around here and kissing Ben and nuzzling Jack -- and then going out to dinner with the team, and if someone asks about the GSA you go falling over yourself at the sight of a pair of tits."
"It doesn't fucking mean anything!"
"Yeah, I know. And I'm sick of you using my sexuality like it’s some sort of party trick! Some of us can't just go and bang a chick if people start asking questions. Some of have to fucking live with this without being able to run away to heterosexuality if it gets too tough." Ryan spits the words out and shoves Ladd out of the way on his way back inside.
He makes it back to the kitchen where Jane is, riding his wave of righteous anger.
"What happened?" Jane asks, and he realizes what he just said. To Andrew Ladd.
"Oh god." He is so so screwed. He leans against the wall and tries to breathe.
"Ryan, you're freakin’ me out. What's going on?"
He briefly explains what just went down. "I'm fucked," he concludes. "He's gonna tell everyone."
"No, he won't," Jane soothes. "He won't. I'll talk to him, okay?"
Ryan nods, even though he still feels doomed. "Thanks. I think I'm gonna head out."
Jane nods and goes with him to get his coat.
Ryan sleeps badly that night, and he spends the next day waiting for the ax to fall. For the shouting and the questions and the shunning.
They probably won't kick him off the team outright, too worried about a lawsuit. But they can make him want to quit on his own, and once the news leaks out to other teams, it'll be even worse.
Even if he does make it through his college career alive and unmaimed, the Canucks will probably never sign him to an actual contract. If they do, he'll spend his entire contract in Manitoba, being given constant reasons they're not calling him up that will all add up to the same reason.
But nothing happens that day. Or the next.
Jane rolls his eyes when she sees him. "He's not gonna say anything. I told you."
But Ryan doesn't even start to relax until most of the way through the week, when their upcoming trip to upstate New York takes precedence.
He takes the week's anxiety and frustration out on the other team but only lands in the box for it once, so Coach just looks pleased between periods. Cam and Chris are feeding off his energy, too, and it ends up infecting the rest of the team.
By the end of the game, the Saints are making bad passes to avoid getting hit while holding it, and the Catamounts get a solid win.
After the game, Eric calls everyone to attention. "Despite the absolute beating we just gave them, our hosts are gracious enough to offer us an invitation to a party tonight."
One of Eric's cousins is on their team, so a party was kind of a given. Ryan hadn't really been looking forward to it, but after today, he's feeling pretty good, and a party with the guys doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
The party is at Eric's cousin's house. Eric has like, 3 million cousins, and they all play hockey at every level all over North America. And one in Sweden.
Technically Eric and the Saint Lawrence captain are supposed to be chaperoning them, but all that means is that they gave the teams a lecture about not overdoing it.
Ryan grabs a beer and let's some of the other team's guys smack him on the shoulder and yell "don't hit me!" One of them was also drafted by the Canucks, so they talk for a while about the team and how soon they might turn pro.
Ryan doesn't want to get too drunk, but he's feeling pleasantly buzzed, and he has to pee. Someone is puking in the downstairs bathroom, and he doesn't want to freeze his dick off outside, so he heads upstairs, even though it's supposed to be off limits.
He finishes up, splashes some cold water on his face, and walks out, straight into Ladd.
"You're not supposed to be here," Ladd says. He's not slurring his words, but his cheeks are flushed bright red, and he's blinking more than he usually does.
"Neither are you," Ryan says, and he tries to brush past him. Ladd stops him with a hand on his chest.
"Fuck you," Ladd says. Oh, Christ, Ryan doesn't want to do this.
"Let's not right now, okay? Let's just go downstairs."
"No!" Ladd won't let him by. Why do these things happen to him, Ryan wonders. "Fuck you. You're so superior. You think you know everything."
"Well, not everything," Ryan drawls, then sighs. "I really don't wanna do this right now."
"Too fucking bad," Ladd says. "You don't know shit about me. You --"
"You know what? Save it," Ryan snaps. "Save the offended act for after you blow a guy, you enormous douche."
Ladd doesn't say anything. He puts both hands on Ryan's chest and pushes him back into the bathroom. Great, Ryan thinks, I'm gonna get beat up in a bathroom by a drunk dude. But Ladd doesn't hit him. He maneuvers Ryan until he's up against the sink, and then he drops to his knees.
He's not even hard as Ladd undoes his belt and fumbles with the button on his jeans and yanks the zipper down. He's getting there, though, because he's eighteen, and there's a hot guy taking off his pants, and it's been a long time since that's happened to Ryan.
Ladd seems surprised or annoyed that Ryan's dick isn't ready right away, but that huff of air against his dick speeds things up considerably. Ryan wants to tell Ladd to just fucking touch him already, but he bites his lip instead. He doesn't know if he's supposed to be helping Ladd with this, or if saying something will scare Ladd off, or what.
Fortunately, Ladd figures it out quickly enough, maybe remembering what it's like from the other side. Ryan doesn't know or care, because Ladd's jerking him and licking his lips, staring at Ryan's cock like it's a play he needs to dissect. Ryan's probably not supposed to find that hot, but it really works for him.
And then Ladd opens his mouth and takes in the head of Ryan's dick. It takes a whole lot of will power to keep from pushing forward, or grabbing Ladd's head and making him take more.
He grips the edge of the sink when Ladd starts sucking, and he can't help the little noise that escapes his mouth. That seems to encourage Ladd, and he slowly takes more of Ryan's cock into his mouth.
It's pretty easy to tell that he's never done this before, and that shouldn't be hot either, but it feels so fucking good. After a few minutes, Ladd finishes exploring and gets a rhythm going, and that feels even better. Ryan will be so fucking embarrassed if he comes right now, from this, but it's been so long since he's had anything other than his hand. He grits his teeth and holds on.
Ladd's making these little sounds too, not even sexy sounds, just little "hmms" like he's figuring things out, but they hum around Ryan's cock, and he can't help the little stutter his hips give. Ladd pulls back a little and looks up at Ryan, but before Ryan has a chance to say anything, he goes right back to sucking Ryan's cock, a little harder and a little faster, and Ryan really really can't take much more of this.
"Gonna come," he manages to say, and Ladd gives his cock one last suck, then pulls off and finishes Ryan with his hand.
When Ryan comes back to reality, his pants are around his knees, and Ladd is still on the floor in front of him, looking at his hand covered in Ryan's come like he's wondering what to do with it. There's a bulge in his jeans and Jesus, he's hard from blowing Ryan.
Ryan tugs on Ladd's arm till he's standing. Ladd looks a little confused, and he sways until he's sort of leaning against Ryan. He starts looking a lot less confused when Ryan undoes his jeans and sticks his hand inside.
"Oh," he says, and reaches around Ryan to hold himself up on the sink, his head dropping down to Ryan's shoulder. It's a weird position, but Ryan can deal with it. Besides, it's only a couple minutes until Ladd's groaning into Ryan's shoulder and coming on his hand.
"Fuck, Kesler," Ladd says into Ryan's shoulder.
Ryan just jerked off Andrew Ladd. Andrew Ladd just blew him.
Nothing makes any sense, but there's come on his hand, so it's probably not a hallucination. He reaches for a fistful of toilet paper, but he has to shove Ladd off of him to get at it. He wipes his hand quickly before flushing the evidence away and pulling his pants back up.
Ladd's still blinking at him from the opposite wall, and Ryan -- Ryan just can't deal with this right now. There are two hockey teams downstairs, and he can't --
He has to go.
Ryan doesn't know what to say to Ladd, so he just doesn't say anything before he slips out the door, quickly closing it behind him again before heading back down to the party.
If Ryan had expected anything major to change after Andrew Ladd blew him in a bathroom, he would have been disappointed.
They don't talk on the bus back to Burlington, or at practice on Monday. The only real difference is that now Ryan knows what Ladd's mouth feels like wrapped around his cock, and he can't stop thinking about it.
Ladd acts like nothing happened, though. Ryan's not exactly sure what he thought Ladd was going to do, or even what he wants Ladd to do, but acting exactly the same isn't it.
After practice on Tuesday, Ladd is slower than usual getting dressed, and they end up leaving for GSA at the same time. They kind of walk together, because it would be weird not to, but they don't say anything.
"You hungry?" Ladd asks suddenly, as they walk into the student union.
Ryan turns the words over in his mind, searching for some sort of innuendo -- and if it is innuendo or some sort of invitation, what's his answer? He realizes he's been quiet for too long, and quickly says, "No."
Ladd just nods, and they walk in silence down to the meeting room. Jane raises an eyebrow when they come in together, but he's pretty sure it's just the appearance of civility between them. He hasn't even told her what happened yet.
Nothing's actually changed, though, because almost as soon as Ladd sits down, he's got a person perched on each knee, and that can't even be comfortable, so Ryan doesn't get what the big deal is.
Ladd waits for Ryan after practice on Thursday too, which is weird, but whatever. Probably Jane talked to him, or maybe someone on the team. He doesn't say anything as they walk, so that's fine. Ryan had been planning on grabbing a sandwich when he got to the Student Union, but now he feels weird just walking away from Ladd, because they've kinda been walking together.
"I'm gonna go get a sandwich," he says, making a vague gesture toward the dining area.
"Cool, me too," Ladd says, and okay, fine. They both get sandwiches wrapped up to go, and at the register, Ladd grabs Ryan's, and says, "I'll get it, I've got an unlimited meal plan."
Before Ryan can respond that he has an unlimited meal plan too -- he's a hockey player, for god's sake, his mom's not dumb -- Ladd has given the lady his card and handed Ryan back his sandwich. Ryan stares down at it, wondering what the hell is going on, until Ladd waves a hand in front of his face and says, "Meeting's gonna start. You coming?"
"Yeah," Ryan says. He is not going to think about Ladd saying the word “coming” in another context.
Ryan really doesn't want to think about what it means that Ladd bought him a sandwich. It probably doesn't mean anything. And that's just so like Andrew Ladd, to blow Ryan in a bathroom, and then go around trying to prove he can forget about it. Like he's so straight that giving another dude a blowjob is not a big deal. God, Ryan just wants to kick him.
The most infuriating part of the latest brand of dickishness from Ladd is that nothing he's said or done looks particularly dickish unless you have the context for it.
Context Ryan doesn't plan on sharing with anyone, if he can manage it.
So he has to suffer and fume in silence, because Jane gets tired of his "monotonous whining."
He gets a Facebook message from Seabs about a week after the bathroom incident.
Hey Kes, what's up? Heard you played a brutal game Saturday.
He's got to be implying something with the specific mention of Saturday, and Ryan glares at the screen. Of course Ladd told him. He probably bragged to Seabs about it.
At least -- at least Seabs already knew about him. Kind of. But still, fuck Andrew Ladd and his perfect gay friends.
"The game on Saturday was great," he types back angrily, "not that it's any of your business. If Ladd wants to fucking imply something he should do it himself, to my face," and hits send.
He fumes for a while, but he doesn't have time to work into a real rage because they have a game.
At the end of the second, the Catamounts are down 3-2, and Cam blocks a wicked slapshot by a New Hampshire D-man with his foot. He finishes his shift, but his face is white, and he needs to be helped off the bench for intermission. Shit shit shit.
After conferring with the trainers, Coach comes back into the locker room. "Cam's out for the game, maybe longer. We'll figure out what do in the long term if it comes to that, but for the rest of this game, Jared and Ladd, I want you two taking turns on Kes's wing."
Ryan bites down into his mouthguard. This is hockey. Nothing else matters.
His line plays okay, if not great, for the rest of the game. They don't allow a goal, at least. Ryan feels like his head is spinning trying to adjust his game to Jared, then Ladd, then Jared again, both of whom play different games than Cam does. He maybe even plays a little better with Ladd on his wing, honestly, though that's probably because Ladd isn't settled with Alex yet.
They push it in the third, but the bounces don't go their way. They end up losing 3-2, and the next day, they find out Cam will be out for weeks at least with a broken foot.
He sources his bad mood to the loss when he turns down Jane's invitation to movie night and ends up hanging out on his laptop killing little electronic men.
He dreads practice, and with good reason. The first thing Coach says to him is, "Kesler, I want to start Ladd on your wing today."
The worst part about it is that Ladd fits in almost as well as Cam did with him and Chris, after only six minutes of ice time together during the game and two drills during practice. Coach doesn't even suggest trying Jared there.
So that's how it's going to be, but just for a few weeks. Ryan can put on his big girl panties and deal.
And then he has to deal with wondering what bothers him more, that he has to play with Ladd or that his internal monologue sounds like Jane.
After practice the next day, they walk to GSA together, and Ryan tells Ladd about a play he's been wanting to try. Cam couldn't pull it off, but Ladd is bigger than Cam, so Kesler thinks he can do it. The walk doesn't seem as long as usual. And it's not bad, talking to Ladd. About hockey, anyway.
"Did I notice you guys talking to each other voluntarily?" Jane leans over and whispers during the meeting. Ryan rolls his eyes and resists the urge to look across the circle at Ladd.
"Yeah, about hockey," Ryan says. "I told you Cam broke his foot. Coach moved Ladd up to my left wing."
"Oh? How's that going?"
"It's fine. Why does it sound like you're talking about something other than hockey?"
"I'm just saying, you have to play together --"
"We've always had to play together. Now we have to do it more often. I still hate him, Jane."
"What the fuck do you mean, really?"
"Shut up!" Erin yells.
Ryan and Jane look down at their laps. When Ryan looks up, Ladd is looking at them and smiling. Oh, of course, perfect Andrew Ladd never gets called out for whispering. Ryan looks at the floor and goes over penalty kill plays in his head.
Saturday's game is actually kind of awesome. Ryan feels like he has the puck twice as much as usual because Ladd's helping win board battles and getting the puck back to him faster, and he’s more likely to muscle guys off the puck than get muscled off.
If his finish were near as good as Cam's, Ryan might have to worry about this move being permanent, but for now he can enjoy some of the benefits of his new winger.
Not that Ladd has bad hands or anything, because in the second period, Ryan has the puck on his stick and spots Ladd open near the net. It only takes a split second to decide to send
him a sweet pass that Ladd easily lifts past the goalie's outstretched leg, and it's a good goal, and it's great.
Ladd comes barreling into him and throws his arm around Ryan, and then everyone else is pushing them together. Even though there's all this equipment between them, Ryan can still feel Ladd against him, and it's like he's going to keep feeling him there for the rest of the period. Briefly, Ryan looks at Ladd's smiling mouth and thinks "my dick was in there" before he pulls back and skates quickly towards the bench
This is terrible. Hockey is for hockey, not thinking about bathroom blow jobs. Because he's not getting hard in his jock strap. He's not. Even when he glances over and sees Ladd shooting some Gatorade into his mouth.
After the game Ladd just keeps beaming at him and slapping him on the back and leaning in close, like one goal has made them BFFs or something. But it was the game-winning goal, and they did play well together, and Ryan doesn't want to fuck that up, especially not with Coach watching them approvingly. So he doesn't shove Ladd off of him, and he doesn't tell him to back the fuck off.
Ryan tries to sit as far away from Ladd as possible when the team goes to dinner later, but somehow he ends up wedged in right next to him. And Christ, their thighs are pressed against each other, and when Ladd puts his napkin on his lap and spreads it out, his fingers practically brush Ryan's crotch.
Ryan starts making plans to duck out early.
He goes so far as to text Jane for help.
Ladd leans over so far into Ryan's space they're practically breathing the same air. "Who're you texting that's so important?"
"Uh, Jane, we're doing a thing later," Ryan says convincingly.
"Jane? Gonna get lucky tonight, Kes?" Chris asks from across the table.
"That's none of your business," Ryan says.
The guys hoot and laugh at that, before losing interest in favor of making fun of Alex's crush on the waitress.
"So does Jane know she's your beard?" Ladd asks under his breath.
"Shut. Up," Ryan says very softly and carefully.
Ladd throws an arm around his shoulders. "Kind of hypocritical of you, isn't it?"
"Seriously. Shut up. You wouldn't know anything about it."
"You think I'm an idiot, don't you?" Ladd asks. "I don't know about this, I didn't know --"
Ryan digs his knuckles into Ladd's thigh as close as he can figure to where Ladd blocked a shot in the second. "Stop. Talking."
Ladd shuts up, thankfully.
Ryan presses hard once more and stands up, throwing Ladd’s arm off his shoulder. He tosses some money on the table and walks out without a word to anyone.
He paces outside Jane's dorm until she comes down to let him in. He must look pissed because she just walks with him silently up to her room and moves some pillows out of the way so he can crash on her bed. "Fuck Andrew Ladd."
"I'll pass," Jane says, sitting down next to him. "I think that's more up your alley."
"Fuck no, it's not," Ryan says. "I can't believe I ever --"
"He blew me in a bathroom in New York, and I jerked him off, and --" Ryan sighs and closes his eyes. He'd wanted it to happen again.
“I knew it! I knew you liked him!”
“I don't! I just wanted to get laid, and suddenly he was on his knees, and --” that had never happened to him before. “It was stupid, and he's an asshole.”
“He hasn’t really been an asshole lately, though, has he?” Jane asks.
“Only because we’re on the same line now. It fucks up the team if we don’t get along.”
Jane sighs and rests her head on his shoulder. "So what happened tonight, then? Bad game?"
“Well, no,” Ryan says. “Actually, it was a really good game.”
She still doesn't really care about hockey, but he describes it to her, getting really excited with all the details of their goal and how awesome it was.
"Yeah, what an asshole," Jane says, obviously confused.
Ryan tries to explain the argument he and Ladd had, but the only thing Jane says is, "Why did you wanna leave early? You love hanging with the team."
"What, I can't want to spend time with you?" Ryan asks.
"Not when you can be soaking up the testosterone or reliving your heroism on the ice, no."
"Ladd was...he was being weird, and I didn't want to deal with that," Ryan says, shifting on the bed uncomfortably.
"What kind of weird?"
"All buddy-buddy fake shit," Ryan says.
"You said you're on the same line now and you have to get along. Maybe he was just ... feeling the camaraderie?"
Ryan snorts. "Maybe he just wants to fuck with me."
"Maybe he just wants to fuck you."
Ryan shoves her a little. "Don't be stupid."
She shoves him back, hard. "You're the one being stupid. He blew you. In a bathroom."
"I'm not going to be his gay chicken partner, or whatever the fuck," Ryan says. "So that after, he can just go back to being straight and smug about how he's so tolerant he even fucked a poor, closeted jock."
"Ryan, I'm sure he wouldn't..." Jane starts, but Ryan cuts her off.
"I don't want to talk about him anymore. Can we just go to sleep?"
"Sure," Jane says, even though it's still early for a Saturday night.
Ladd and a couple of the D-men are in the kitchen of the house when Ryan gets home the next morning. He's wearing the same clothes from yesterday, and he knows his hair is all flat on one side.
"Wow, spending the night, Kes? That's a big step," Mark says with a smirk.
Ryan shrugs and pretends not to notice the way Ladd's lips are pressed into a line, or how he's staring at his coffee. Like he gets to judge Ryan at all.
"I'm just gonna go grab another couple hours," Ryan says, heading for the stairs. He doesn't need to hang around to hear the 'long night' jokes.
While he’s lying in bed trying to fall asleep, he gets a brilliant idea to get Ladd to leave him alone for good.
Ladd does back off a little in the next few days, which is good, but Ryan needs to be sure.
"Hey," he says to Ladd after practice, "we should talk a little bit about the line. My room after dinner?"
Ladd looks surprised, but he agrees with a smile.
Ladd drops onto his bed, like, the second he gets into the room and sprawls out on it. Ryan locks the door as subtly as he can and totally doesn't check out the way Ladd's shirt has ridden up to expose a strip of his stomach.
"So we have some...issues to work out," Ryan begins.
Ladd laughs. "That's one way to put it."
Ryan debates for a second whether or not he should drag Ladd to the edge of the bed and spread his knees, or if he should climb onto the bed himself. In the end he decides to save his own knees; he's gotta play hockey tomorrow.
He gets on the bed and crawls between Ladd's sprawled legs.
"Shove up a bit."
"Wha?" Ladd says, raising his head. Ryan plants his hands on Ladd's thighs and pushes him so they'll both fit on the bed.
"This will work better for me with less talking from you."
Then he goes for Ladd's zipper.
Ladd makes an aborted gesture, like he's going to stop him, but then realizes what's going on and just lets Ryan go, lifting his hips so Ryan can pull down his jeans and boxers. When Ladd opens his mouth to say something, Ryan wraps his hand around his cock and that shuts him up quickly.
“I'm going to blow you, and you're not going to say anything,” Ryan says as he jacks Ladd's cock until it's hard enough. “Except maybe 'oh god.’”
Ladd nods, his mouth hanging open a bit, and it looks so dumb, but Ryan also maybe wants to bite it. He leans down and licks Ladd's dick instead.
Ladd makes this sighing noise, and the muscles in his thighs all tense up. Ryan licks it again, a little more thoroughly this time. "Oh fuck," Ladd breathes.
Ryan doesn't have a lot of experience, but he does have some, and he goes about making this the best, slowest blowjob he can possibly give.
Despite his warning, Ladd is just talking up a storm -- a constant stream of "Oh god”s and "Oh fuck yeah Ryan just like that”s interspersed with inarticulate groans. Ryan would tell him to shut it, but apparently his dick thinks it's fucking great. He's so hard in his jeans he's almost tempted to speed this up so he can get off. Almost.
Ryan's lazily sucking on the head of Ladd's dick, his hand loose around the base, when Ladd reaches down and tangles his hand in Ryan's hair. Ryan almost bats it away, but Ladd doesn't pull or push Ryan's head, he just lets it rest there, kind of petting almost, and it doesn't feel bad, so Ryan lets it go.
"Ryan, fuck," Ladd says, and Ryan resists the urge to smirk around Ladd's cock. Choking would be bad right now.
He rubs himself through his jeans, just to take the edge off, and then reaches his hand up, pressing two of his fingers against Ladd's mouth.
“What, you said I could --” Ladd starts to say, not getting what Ryan wants until he pushes them inside. Then he catches on quickly, sucking on Ryan’s fingers like Ryan's sucking on his dick. Like he could make Ryan come from this. Ryan kind of worries that he could, so he pulls them out. They make a wet popping sound, and then Ladd's back to sighing and swearing.
He tenses up a little when Ryan circles his hole with one finger, but he relaxes quickly. Ryan's kind of surprised at how quickly, but there might have been some creative girls in this position before him.
Ladd isn't even saying words anymore, just groaning that sometimes tapers off into panting, and his hand in Ryan's hair is clenching and unclenching in the same rhythm that Kesler is using pushing his finger in and out of his ass.
He takes Ladd's cock deeper into his throat and adds a second finger. It takes some coordination, but he isn't an athlete for nothing.
Ladd's groans have mutated into whines now, which Ryan will totally make fun of him for later, provided they don't make him come in his jeans. Ladd's hips are moving restlessly, which makes it harder to suck his cock in rhythm, and Ryan is kind of out of hands. Instead, he relaxes his throat a little and crooks his fingers in Ladd's ass.
"Oh fuck, Ryan. Ryan Ryan Ryan," Ladd babbles. His hips thrust, and his cock throbs, and Ryan doesn't need his choked off "Gonna come" to know that.
He'd planned on spitting -- contemptuously even -- but he's so fucking turned on right now he's having trouble remembering what the plan is supposed to be. He swallows until he can't anymore, and Ladd's jizz is dribbling out of the corner of his mouth and down his chin a little bit.
"Holy shit," Ladd says, when he's done and Ryan has removed his mouth from his dick. He wiggles his fingers in Ladd's ass a little, just to fuck with him, but Ladd just arches his back and groans, and Ryan stares at his abs exposed by his rucked up t-shirt while he slowly, finally, takes his fingers out.
"Come here. Come here right now," Ladd commands, and usually Ryan would tell him to go to hell, but Ladd is grabbing his arms and dragging him, and then he's kissing Ryan on the mouth, and his tongue is licking up the come on Ryan's face, and Ryan finds himself kissing back.
Ladd's just kissing him, and holding onto Ryan's arms so he's pinned there, like his dick isn't right there with nobody touching it. He was supposed to be calm, cool and collected, not dry humping Ladd's thigh. At the very least, he hopes the denim is chafing Ladd, because he's pretty sure he's going to die if he doesn't get to come soon. And if he comes in his pants, he's going to have to kill himself.
Finally Ladd gets the message and reaches down to unzip Ryan's jeans, and Ryan scrabbles to help him, and he swears he can feel the bastard smiling against his lips. But before he can get too worked up about it, Ladd's hand is finally, finally touching him. He keeps kissing him slow and deep, like he's got all day even, while he's working Ryan's cock hard and fast with his hand.
For Ryan, it's the most complicated form of multitasking out there, and Ladd swallows most of his gasps and moans until Ryan digs his fingers into Ladd's wrist and comes in his hand. Ladd keeps stroking him through the waves of the orgasm, slower now, so Ryan can catch his breath.
Ryan keeps waiting for Ladd to pull away and say something douchey that will make Ryan want to punch him, but he doesn't. He just keeps kissing Ryan slow and deep, making satisfied little "hmms" into Ryan's mouth. One of Ladd's hands is in Ryan's hair again, and somehow Ryan has got one arm around Ladd's neck and the other hand resting on Ladd's ass.
Ryan kind of loses track of time waiting for Ladd to stop, but when Ladd starts kissing Ryan's neck, Ryan realizes he isn't planning on it.
This isn't how this was supposed to go.
Ladd reattaches their mouths before Ryan can come up with a new plan, and it's very distracting how his hand is stroking Ryan's hip.
Ryan finally manages to pull away and say, "I've got ... homework." It comes out way more husky and breathless than he meant it.
Ladd pouts, actually full on pouts, and says, "Do it later," and pulls Ryan back toward his mouth.
It would be so easy to go and just keep making out, but no. That's not what Ryan wants. That's not what he planned. He puts his hand on Ladd's chest -- and wow, it's really warm and solid -- to keep space between them.
"No." He clears his throat and tries again. "No, you should go."
Ladd pouts, and he should look ridiculous, but he doesn't. Ryan hates him. Really.
They clean up and put their pants back on, and then Ladd grabs Ryan by the neck and kisses him again, briefly.
"Later," Ladd says into Ryan's mouth, and it doesn't sound like he’s weirded out or planning to leave Ryan alone. It sounds like a promise of the exact opposite.
Ryan may have made a tactical error here.
As soon as Ladd is out the door, Ryan opens his laptop and shoots an IM to Jane.
Ryan: i think i made a tactical error.
Jane: Oh honey, what did you do?
He wishes he couldn't hear that exact pitying tone she'd say that in.
Ryan: had sex with ladd.
He stares at the screen. The words somehow reinforce what happened. He wants to delete them or something, but he hits send before he comes up with some stupid euphemism.
There's a long pause before Jane replies, and Ryan has a sinking feeling it's because she's laughing at him.
Jane: Not a tactic you were planning on employing?
Ryan: no it was it just ... didn't turn out right.
Jane: It was bad?
Ryan can't believe he's about to type this.
Ryan: no. it was good. um. really good.
Jane: And that's bad?
Ryan: because he's going to want to do it again.
That's all he gets for a minute.
Jane: Half the GSA wishes they had your problems.
Jane continues before Ryan can respond that they are welcome to his problems.
Jane: Look, what would be so bad about doing it again?
Ryan: it was supposed to freak him out and make him back off! i don't like him!
Jane: You kinda do though.
Ryan: i do not.
God, he thought Jane was his friend.
Jane: That's not true, and even supposing it is, does he annoy you when you're having sex?
Ryan glares at the screen.
Ryan: no but what if he starts thinking i want to hang out not during sex?
Ryan: i practically had to kick him out of my room tonight as it was.
Jane: Outside of sex like at practice?
Jane: Or during games?
Jane: Or at GSA?
Jane: or when you're living in the same house?
Ryan: YES. that's too much time!!
He doesn't see how she doesn't see the problem.
Jane: Or going to the same parties?
Jane: Or having the same friends?
Ryan: those weren't my ideas.
Jane: You could have said NO, Ryan.
Ryan: i gotta go do my homework
Ryan signs off without waiting for a response.