A few weeks after that, Kesler gets a call at 3am. He was sleeping, so he's already irritated when he picks up the phone. It's probably just a wrong number.
It's not a wrong number, it's Andrew.
"Wait, what?" Kesler says.
"I said, could you please come bail me out?" He pauses. "I will make it worth your while." He sounds tense. Kesler guesses that happens when you're in jail.
"How do you even know my number?" Kesler asks. Andrew doesn't have his number. Andrew doesn't have a cell phone.
"Can we discuss that later? Like, when I'm not here?"
"Okay," Kesler says. "Where are you?"
It's almost 4:30 by the time Kesler gets to the police station where Andrew is.
It's not like he's ever done this before, and it would be just his luck for someone to tell the press he was here. No one seems to care though. He talks to an officer, pays, and signs some paperwork. He asks what Andrew was picked up for. The officer glances at the paperwork, says, "Trespassing," and hands him a pen. Kesler signs, then, out of curiosity, looks for Andrew’s last name. Ladd. Huh.
It's almost half an hour more before Andrew shows up. He's limping, and half of his face is bruised.
"What--" Kesler starts, but Andrew just growls, "Later," and stalks past him.
Kesler catches up to Andrew at his car, where Andrew is waiting by the passenger door. Kesler unlocks the doors and gets in. Andrew doesn’t look in any mood to talk, so Kesler starts driving. Fuck, he's tired.
He waits until they're on the highway until he says, "So, where were you trespassing?"
Andrew rolls his eyes. "I wasn't trespassing. They like to pick us up for solicitation every once in a while. To keep us in our place or something."
"But the paperwork said--"
"I didn't think you'd want your signature associated with solicitation. I convinced an officer to change it to something else."
"And they did it?"
Andrew glares at him. "I'm fucking convincing, okay?"
They're turning into Kesler's neighborhood when he realizes he didn't even offer to drive Andrew home. Well, whatever. He's tired, and Andrew did say he'd make it worth Kesler's while. Probably Kesler can decide where that happens.
But it's not gonna happen right now, because Kesler is wiped. The sun is starting to come up when they pull into the garage.
Andrew stops at the bottom of the steps.
"I can sleep on the couch," he says.
"Why?" Kesler asks without thinking, then realizes that maybe Andrew wants to sleep alone. He did, after all, just have a traumatic experience. Or something. Maybe. "I mean, uh, if you want, I have a guest room?"
Andrew shifts around, then winces when he puts weight on his left foot. "Never mind. Your room is fine."
"You don't have to," Kesler says, and feels ridiculous.
"It's fine," Andrew says, and starts up the stairs. It looks painful, and Kesler's first instinct is to help, but Andrew kinda looks like he'd push Kesler down the stairs if he offered, so he doesn't.
Instead, he goes to his bathroom and finds painkillers and an Ace bandage.
"Sit down," Kesler orders when Andrew gets to the room.
Andrew does, without a pithy comment, even, and leans down to take off his shoes. Kesler sets his supplies on the floor and sits down to start on the other one.
"I can take off my own shoes," Andrew says.
"I should hope so," Kesler says, and pulls the shoe off Andrew's foot. "Take off your pants."
"You say the sweetest things," Andrew says.
"Shut up," Kesler says. He tugs Andrew's jeans down and off and gets a good look at Andrew's left leg. The ankle is swollen, and Andrew gasps when Kesler touches it.
"I turned it when I fell," Andrew says. Kesler doesn't ask how he fell. He's guessing the bruises on his face have something to do with it.
"You should ice it," Kesler says. "I'll go get some, you take these." He hands Andrew the bottle of ibuprofen, and snags the half empty bottle of water from his nightstand. Andrew takes both silently, which Kesler guesses means he's really in pain.
While he's downstairs, Kesler calls and cancels his training session. It's in two hours and there's no way Kesler is going to be awake enough. His freezer is well stocked in ice packs, luckily. He grabs one and a protein bar, because the likelihood of Andrew having eaten anything recently is slim to nil, and the last thing Kesler needs is Andrew throwing that ibuprofen right back up.
When Kesler gets back to his room, Andrew is flat on his back with his feet still on the floor. Kesler might think he's asleep, but his head twitches to the side when Kesler walks in. He's taken his shirt off too, and unsurprisingly, his ribs are starting to show some bruising.
"Scoot up," Kesler says. Andrew does, slowly, until he's sitting up against the headboard. Kesler grabs an extra pillow from the closet, says, "Lift," and puts it under Andrew's ankle before wrapping the ice pack around it. He hands Andrew the protein bar.
"Gross," Andrew says, but opens it and starts eating.
Kesler finally, gratefully, undresses and drops onto his bed. He reaches over and turns off his alarm clock -- set to go off 45 minutes from now.
"Let me know if you need anything," he tells Andrew without lifting his head. Closing his eyes feels amazing.
"Yeah, okay," Andrew says. "Thanks."
Kesler would express his extreme surprise at that, but he's too busy falling asleep.
Kesler wakes up four hours later feeling like he got hit by a truck. If that's how he feels, Andrew must feel worse. He rolls over on instinct, not because he expects to see Andrew. Andrew never once slept later than Kesler the entire time he stayed at the house.
But Andrew is there. And he's still asleep.
Kesler blinks a few times and considers going back to sleep himself. But the sunlight coming through the windows is too bright, and he's starting to get hungry.
He slips out of bed, careful not to disturb Andrew. If he wakes Andrew up, Andrew will complain, and Kesler's not up for that. He collects the lukewarm icepack from the floor and heads downstairs. He stares at the coffee while it brews, and then remembers that he's hungry. He has no energy to cook, so he toasts a bagel, and he uses the full fat cream cheese he used to buy for Andrew, because he's too fucking tired to stick to his diet right now.
He's also too tired for his kitchen table. He takes it all into the den with him, sits on the couch, and turns on TSN.
He must doze off, because next thing he knows he's woken up by a loud thump on the stairs. He flails his way off the couch and goes to see what's up.
It's Andrew, of course, hobbling his way down the steps, badly.
"Help?" Kesler asks. Andrew glares, so Kesler shrugs and watches him. He's probably stiff in addition to the ankle, which is still swollen. But if he doesn't want help, whatever.
He's breathing hard when he reaches the bottom of the stairs.
"Go sit in the den before you fall over," Kesler says.
Kesler gets another icepack and more ibuprofen from the kitchen and brings them to the den. He makes Andrew put his foot up on the coffee table and puts the ice on it. Back in the kitchen, he puts a bagel on the toaster and fixes two more cups of coffee.
When he's sure that neither he nor Andrew will need anything else for at least a few hours, he sits back down and looks forward to not moving. And maybe falling asleep again.
Andrew took control of the remote while he was in the kitchen, and now he flips through Kesler's various movie channels. He finally settles on The Bourne Identity, and Kesler settles in to watch.
About halfway through the movie, he looks over and sees Andrew sleeping, his head tipped back at an awkward angle. Kesler reaches over and rearranges Andrew's head so that it's resting against Kesler's shoulder. It's a sign of how exhausted Andrew must be that he doesn't wake up.
It's kind of weird, having Andrew sleeping on him like this. It's not really something they've done before. Kesler relaxes after a few minutes and decides it's not too bad. And it's better than Andrew complaining about a sore neck later.
He doesn't really fall asleep, he just zones out watching the movie until it ends and another one begins. He might want to start thinking about more food soon, but moving seems like a lot of effort.
The doorbell startles him upright, and Andrew awake.
"Ow, motherfucker!" Andrew says.
"Doorbell," Kesler says by way of explanation, and then it rings again. He should probably go answer it.
"You need to stop coming over unannounced," he says when he opens the door to Bieksa's face.
"You weren't at the gym," Bieksa says. "I thought you might be dead."
"I'm fine, I just didn't get much sleep last night,"
Bieksa walks past Kesler into the house, and Kesler just resigns himself to this not going well.
"Oh yeah?" Bieksa says.
"Not in a fun way," Kesler says before Bieksa can start. "And I'm still kinda tired so..."
Of course Bieksa ignores the hint. "Must have been something if you skipped training. I told -- oh."
And of course Andrew is in the kitchen, in boxer briefs and one of Kesler's Canucks hoodies, basically looking like a beat-up hooker.
"Why are you walking?" Kesler says.
"I needed to move around, I was getting stiff," Andrew says. Bieksa snorts, and Kesler smacks him on the back of the head. "And I need more ice."
Kesler goes to the freezer and grabs another icepack. He throws it at Andrew's chest. "Sit down. I'm just gonna see Juice out."
Andrew limps back to the den, and Kesler glares at Bieksa and jerks his head to the front door.
"So did you do that, or--"
"Dude," Kesler says. "Not even funny."
"Kes, I thought we were done with this whole 'keeping hookers who follow you home' thing."
Kesler shrugs. "He needs help. What was I supposed to do?"
"Oh, I don't know, let him get it from his hooker friends? Take him to a shelter? Something not this."
"You're an asshole," Kesler says.
"Do you even know what you're doing?" Bieksa asks.
No, Kesler doesn't say. He doesn't want to give Bieksa the satisfaction. "It'll be fine," he says. "He won't even want to stay when he starts feeling better."
Back in the den, Andrew is fiddling with his icepack.
"Here," Kesler says, taking it from him and resettling it. "I think this might need a doctor," he says reluctantly.
"It'll be fine," Andrew says immediately.
"It's still swollen. Something might be fractured or torn. You should at least get it X-rayed."
"It'll be fine," Andrew says again. Stubborn son of a bitch.
"I have an appointment with the team doctor tomorrow. He hates me, but he'll probably look at your ankle, no questions asked."
"He hates you because you're an awful patient."
"Yeah, probably," Kesler admits. "Maybe also because of that time I called him a two-bit hack."
"You're such a fucking charmer," Andrew says.
"I was in pain! And we were losing by one, and I wanted to get back out there, and he wouldn't let me."
Andrew rolls his eyes. "Only you would put those two sentences together like that."
"I'm dedicated," Kesler says.
"If by dedicated you mean crazy, yes."
"You like it," Kesler retorts without thinking, then wishes he could take it back. But he can't.
"Yeah, well," Andrew says, "I'm known for my poor judgment."
"Fuck you." Kesler laughs and sits back down on the couch. Andrew leans his way a little.
"Not right now, I have a headache."
"Yeah, I bet. What do you wanna watch now?"
Andrew refuses to come to the doctor with him the next morning.
"I will pick you up and carry you to the car if I have to," Kesler says.
"Like you could," Andrew retorts. “With your hip?"
"I will certainly try my best," Kesler says.
"Fine," Andrew says, and follows Kesler to the car. Which is good, because Kesler's not actually sure he could carry Andrew if he was struggling.
Andrew is a little wide-eyed when they get to the arena, and trying unsuccessfully to hide it. Kesler doesn't say anything. Andrew clearly kept up with hockey, even before he met Kesler. He's probably never had a chance to look around an NHL arena like this.
Guys are starting to come back from wherever they summered, and they see a few of Kesler's teammates. Kesler says hi, but doesn't offer to introduce Andrew. He'll probably get questions later, but in the meantime, there's no reason to freak Andrew out.
Or maybe Bieksa blabbed to everyone and they won't ask questions.
He does introduce Andrew to Dr. Wilkinson, but all he says is, "This is my friend Andrew. He's just gonna wait until I get checked out."
"Sure," Wilkinson says, "There are some chairs there." He points to a corner and watches Andrew limp over, but doesn't say anything. "Let's take a look at that hip."
The checkup is pretty much the same as every checkup. Wilkinson says he’s progressing well, but won't tell Kesler if he'll be ready for camp or the beginning of the season. Usually he'd push, but he doesn't want to piss Wilkinson off. Today.
Kesler hops off the examination table, and Wilkinson turns to Andrew. "Let's take a look at that ankle, eh?"
"It's fine," Andrew says.
"I'm sure," Wilkinson says. "But I'm a doctor, and I like torturing people, so get on the table." His tone brooks no argument, so Andrew gets on the table. He raises his eyebrows at Kesler, and Kesler raises his right back.
Wilkinson prods at Andrew's ankle until Andrew is pale and swearing.
"I can see why you two are friends," Wilkinson says. He reaches for the tape. "I'm going to give you crutches. Don't put any weight on it. Keep up with the ice and ibuprofen. If the swelling doesn't go down, go to the hospital and get an X-ray." He looks at Kesler, and Kesler nods. Wilkinson efficiently tapes up Andrew's ankle and hands him back his sneaker. "Come back next week, Kes. Same time. We'll talk more about camp then."
Ten minutes later, they're back at the car, Andrew scowling about the crutches.
"Isn't it better than hopping?"
"They're stupid," Andrew says. "I can't --"
"What? Sit on the couch? Because that's all you're going to do."
"Ugh," Andrew says.
They stop and get sandwiches on the way home, and Kesler makes sure Andrew's ass is planted on the couch with some ice before he goes to work out. He can't miss another day like he missed yesterday. If he can't play when the season opens, it won't be because he's not in good enough shape.
He showers after, and, out of habit, reaches down to jerk himself off. Then he stops himself. Andrew is right downstairs, and he might not be up for much, but mutual handjobs would probably be okay. But Kesler remembers the look in his eye when he said he convinced the officer to change the charge. And despite the fact that Andrew said he'd make it worth Kesler's while to bail him out, now Kesler feels sleazy, thinking about making Andrew trade sex for a safe place to stay for a few days. He reaches down and takes ahold of his dick. When Andrew's ready, he'll let Kesler know.
The swelling in Andrew's ankle goes down gradually over the next few days. Kesler's glad, because just thinking about the argument he was going to get about going to the hospital was making him tired. The bruises on his face get slightly less purple and start to shade toward green.
He still sleeps a lot though. Kesler's not sure if it's because he's still in pain, or if it's just years of exhaustion working itself off now that he's forced to stay still. Also, Andrew seemed to take waking up on Kesler's shoulder that one time as permission to fall asleep on Kesler's shoulder every chance he gets. Kesler could tell him to stop, but he's not that much of an asshole. Besides, it's not so bad, once he gets used to it.
Not like Kesler has a ton of time to be Andrew's pillow, or whatever. He has stuff to do. He has training, and press sometimes, and meetings with coaches and stuff.
But they fall into the routine of watching movies or a baseball game after dinner. And then Kesler's shoulder is fair game.
They're watching the Tigers one night, and Andrew is out by the third inning, which is fair because it's not a very interesting game. Kesler keeps watching, though, because there's not much else to do.
During the bottom of the 7th, Andrew gets restless. He's still asleep, though, so Kesler drops his arm from the back of the couch to around Andrew's shoulders. Andrew turns in closer to Kesler and settles.
A few minutes later, Kesler feels something brush against his throat. Then again. That would be Andrew's lips, he realizes. He looks down. Andrew's eyes are still half closed. He looks up at Kesler sleepily when Kesler moves.
Kesler honestly doesn't know who moves first. All he knows is that their lips are pressed together, and they're kissing. It's not a particularly passionate kiss; mostly it's soft and slow, and sleepy. Andrew's hand is resting, warm, on Kesler's stomach, and his mouth opens easily for Kesler's tongue.
It's the first time they've kissed, Kesler realizes.
They make out like that for a while, until Andrew pulls away, settles his head on Kesler's shoulder again, and seems to fall back asleep. Kesler is left blinking, wondering what happened, and when he looks back at the TV, the Tigers have scored four runs. He didn't even notice.
He waits until the game and the post game show are over before waking Andrew up, giving him his crutches, and getting him up to bed. Andrew doesn't act like anything different happened. He grumbles as he brushes his teeth, gets into bed, curls up on his side, and falls asleep.
Kesler tries to go to sleep himself, but he can't. Andrew is a good kisser, he thinks. He doesn't know why that's such a surprise. It's kind of his job. Except that Kesler hadn't figured that kissing was part of his job. It never was with Kesler before. Kesler hadn't really thought about it before, but he just kind of figured that people who pick up hookers off the street aren't exactly interested in kissing. But maybe some are. Andrew didn't seem to think it was a big deal.
Maybe he wasn't even actually awake.
Kesler would like not to be awake either, he thinks sourly.
He falls asleep eventually, and when he wakes up, Andrew isn't in bed.
That's not all that unusual, he reminds himself. Except for the fact that Andrew's slept late since he got here. He gets out of bed. Because he's hungry, and not to find out where Andrew is. Andrew's probably in the den, anyway.
Andrew's not in the den, he's in the kitchen. And he made coffee. Kesler is reminded why having Andrew around isn't completely horrible. If Andrew thinks anything weird happened last night, he doesn't show it. He's just reading the paper, like nothing happened.
At this rate, Kesler is starting to think nothing did happen and he's imagining it all.
Kesler sits down next to Andrew and the counter and picks up the sports section of the paper. Andrew doesn't even look up from reading the business section.
"I'm going to training," Kesler says when he's done with his coffee.
"Okay," Andrew says.
"Need anything while I'm out?"
"No," Andrew says.
"Okay." Kesler lingers at the sink, like he's waiting for something to happen, even though he's not sure what. Andrew looks up from the paper.
"Aren't you gonna be late?"
"What?" Kesler says. "Oh, yeah. Um. I'm going now."
He gets to the garage as quick as he can and bangs his head on his steering wheel when he gets in the car. "Take a chill pill, Kes," he tells himself. There is no reason to be freaking out, because nothing weird happened. He just needs to get to the gym, and everything will be better.
Kesler gets back around lunchtime. Andrew is in the kitchen, standing on one foot, making a sandwich.
"You want one?" he asks Kesler.
Kesler rolls his eyes. "Sit down."
"I'm fine," Andrew says, but takes the crutch leaning next to him and hobbles over to the table. It's exactly like normal. Kesler kind of wants to scream.
They finish lunch and Kesler goes to shower. When he comes back downstairs, Andrew is reading a book. Kesler doesn't even know where he found it, because Kesler doesn't remember getting it. Maybe Jenny left it the last time she was here. She reads books.
"You can watch TV, or whatever," Andrew says. "It won't bother me."
Kesler realizes he's been standing in the doorway staring. He needs to get a fucking grip. He sits on the couch and turns on the TV. He flips through the channels, but there's not really anything interesting on. He looks over to Andrew. He seems completely engrossed in his book.
Oh, fuck this, Kesler thinks. He reaches over and grabs the book out of Andrew's hands.
"Hey!" Andrew says, but he doesn't get a chance to say anything else, because Kesler kisses him.
Andrew kisses back after a second; then his hand comes up and twists into Kesler's hair, pulling his closer. The angle is awkward, though, so Kesler pulls Andrew until he's straddling Kesler's lap.
"Mmm," Andrew says into Kesler's mouth when he's settled.
Kesler feels a little lightheaded, but that's maybe because he's forgotten to breathe. He does that, and grips Andrew's hips, pulling him a little closer. Andrew's hips shift under his hands, not quite grinding, but enough so that Kesler can feel it. He tries not to buck his own hips in answer.
He lets Andrew's tongue into his mouth, sucks on it a little bit, and feels Andrew's hand tighten in his hair. Christ, that feels good. He lets his hands slip under Andrew's shirt, but just rests them on the small of his back.
He has no idea how long they make out like that. Finally Andrew pulls away a little and takes a deep breath. Kesler lets his head fall onto the back of the couch and closes his eyes.
"Can I have my book back now?" Andrew asks, a little breathy.
Kesler reaches over without opening his eyes, grabs the book, and pushes it into Andrew's chest.
Andrew climbs off Kesler's lap, sits down next to him, and settles into his side.
Kesler is so, so screwed.
That night, when they go to bed, Andrew grabs the front of Kesler's t-shirt and pulls him in for a kiss, which turns into making out a little, before Andrew releases him, lies down, turns his back, and goes to sleep.
Kesler sighs, then goes into the bathroom to jerk off.
Probably this is, like, totally normal behavior for a traumatized hooker. Maybe. Kesler doesn't fucking know. The point of a hooker, Kesler thinks helplessly, is not to have to jerk off in the bathroom. But if kissing's all Andrew is comfortable with right now, then it's all they'll do. Sure, Kesler was paying Andrew for a long time to have sex with him, but then it at least seemed he was okay with doing it. If he's not okay with it, then Kesler's not really that into it. He's an asshole, but he's not that much of an asshole.
Maybe in a few days or a couple weeks or something, Andrew will be over his trauma, and they can have sex again. They can keep kissing though, Kesler thinks. The kissing is pretty okay. He thinks about kissing Andrew while he fucks him, swallowing all of his noises, and he comes into his hand.
Okay. Good. Now he can go to bed.
They go on like that for the rest of the week, randomly making out. Sometimes Kesler will get his hands up Andrew's shirt, or the other way around, but it never goes farther than that.
Kesler hasn't been so sexually frustrated since he was a teenager, and even then he could usually convince a teammate to give him a handjob for the same in return.
He's not gonna complain though, because he knows if he pushes, Andrew will go along with it, because he thinks he has to. Thinking about Andrew doing that makes something in Kesler's stomach twist up, so he kisses Andrew and lets him sleep on his shoulder, and he keeps his damn mouth shut.
He has another appointment with the doctors, and this time Andrew comes along willingly.
Wilkinson checks Andrew out first, declares that he's pleased with his progress, and says he can stop using the crutches. He puts an air cast on the ankle and tells him to take it easy.
Unfortunately, Kesler's check up doesn't go that well.
"You're already ahead of schedule," Wilkinson says, "but pushing yourself more than you are could cause permanent damage."
"I'm serious, Ryan. I know you want to play the season opener, but would you rather do that or be healthy for the rest of the season? Or your career? You're not 21 anymore, and you use your body hard. It needs time to heal."
Kesler nods mutely and refrains from calling Wilkinson all the names he wants to because he did them a favor.
"Let's go," he snaps at Andrew when he leaves Wilkinson's office.
Kesler grits his teeth the entire way home.
Andrew stays silent, which is probably a good idea on his part. Kesler's in a mood to say terrible things if someone says the wrong thing. Or looks at him wrong. Or looks at him at all.
He doesn't stomp up to his room, but it's a near thing. Andrew stays downstairs, doing whatever. Kesler doesn't care. He takes his second shower of the day, then goes into the guest room because there's a TV there. Shit, he can't even work out his mood in the gym, and that makes him angrier.
He finds some CSI reruns and sprawls out on the bed to watch them.
He ends up falling asleep, and when he wakes up, it's to Andrew poking him.
"Wha--" he croaks.
"It's time for dinner," Andrew says. "Do you wanna eat or do you wanna sulk some more?"
Kesler actually takes some time to consider it. Then his stomach reminds him that he didn't eat lunch, so he says, "I could eat."
"Okay," Andrew says. "But you can't do both."
Andrew's made some sort of stir-fry with chicken. It actually smells really good. Andrew hands Kesler a beer after he gives him his plate. It's not a bad idea. They carry their food into the den and turn on the TV.
"Being able to play hockey longer is more important than being able to play hockey sooner," Andrew says after a few minutes. Kesler wants to snap at him, but he sounds weirdly intense, so he stays silent. "Don't rush back for a few meaningless games when it could ruin your whole career."
"It's not meaningless, it's the season opener," Kesler says.
"It's two points," Andrew says. "It's not the playoffs."
He does sort of have a point. Kesler just grunts in acknowledgement.
"This is pretty good," he says after another few bites.
Andrew just grunts back at him.
Kesler feels better about it the next day, sort of. Andrew was right, it's not like he's never going to play hockey again. And really, he'll probably only miss a few weeks.
He goes back to training. He goes to the gym. He skates. He does his best to listen to the trainers about his limits. Maybe he doesn't always succeed, but he tries. One of his trainers asks him if he's been replaced by an alien, and Kesler feels bad. He should get them something nice when this is all over with.
He comes back from the rink one day and something in the house looks different. Actually a lot of things look different. They look ... clean. Not the half-assed kind of straightening that Andrew usually does. It's not the day for the cleaning service to come either.
He finds Andrew in the guest bathroom, scrubbing the shower.
"I'm pretty sure that was already clean," Kesler says.
"That's one opinion," Andrew says, and keeps scrubbing.
"Um," Kesler says. Andrew must be really bored. Of course he is. He can move around now, and besides TV, there's not a lot for him to do here. "Wanna come to practice with me tomorrow?"
Andrew finally looks up from the shower. "Yeah, okay."
Kesler is half expecting Andrew to back out the next morning, but he doesn't. He's quiet, though.
Kesler keeps expecting him to ask to be taken back to his apartment, or his corner, or wherever. Or maybe just tell Kesler he's going back, and leave. He's still wearing the air cast, but he's mobile enough. But he doesn't. He stays at Kesler's, despite the boredom. Sure, Kesler's house is nicer than anything Andrew could possibly have. Maybe he has a weird thing about hygiene Kesler doesn't know about.
Whatever, Kesler's not going to complain. Even with the constant, epic blue balls.
Training camp hasn't started yet, but Rogers never really sleeps. The doctors, coaching staff, front office, equipment guys, and a bunch of the players are already back.
Kesler has on-ice training today. He makes sure security won't kick Andrew out, tells him to explore, and goes to get changed. It's not much, but at least Andrew's out of the house.
When Kesler is done with training, showered, and dressed, Andrew is nowhere to be seen. Kesler doesn't have to look far, though. He finds Andrew in the equipment room, laughing with a bunch of the equipment guys. "Kes!" Chuck says when Kesler walks in. "You didn't tell us your friend used to play hockey!"
That's because Kesler had no idea Andrew used to play hockey. He just smiles, though, and Chuck doesn't seem to need an answer.
"He cuts sticks better than Gus."
"Oh really?" Kesler says. Andrew won't meet his eyes. "Well, are you ready to go, or do you wanna stay here and do the laundry?"
"I'm ready," Andrew says. He performs elaborate parting handshakes with the equipment staff, then joins Kesler in the doorway.
"Bye, guys," Kesler says. "See you soon."
"You played hockey?" Kesler asks as they walk through the halls to the exit.
"I grew up in Canada, of course I played hockey," Andrew says dismissively. But Kesler knows that isn't the whole story. Andrew played hockey long enough to learn to manage equipment expertly. Impressing Chuck is no small feat. Also, his insistence that Kesler not injure himself further makes more sense now. How in the world, Kesler wonders, does someone get from hockey to turning tricks?
Well, it's not like Andrew is going to tell him.
On the way back from practice, Kesler stops at a Chapters.
"I need ... a book," he tells Andrew. "I'll meet you in the cafe in 20 minutes." Then he walks around picking out books that look interesting. He doesn't know what Andrew likes, exactly, but from what he's seen Andrew reading, he doesn't seem to care. Kesler picks up some fiction and mystery books that look interesting. He goes over to the health section to pick up something he can say his trainers wanted him to read.
Andrew is in the cafe, drinking coffee and reading a book. In Kesler’s clothes that are a little too big for him, and one of Kesler's Tigers hats turned backward on his head, he doesn't look like a hooker at all. Just like any other guy. Well, any other guy who's been in a fight recently, since there's still some faint green bruising around his eye.
Kesler walks by and sweeps his pile of books into his arms and goes to pay for them.
"I could have gotten those," Andrew says when he gets back.
"Whatever, I have a membership card," Kesler says. Well, he does now, anyway. He looks at the menu board longingly before firmly reminding himself that lattes are not in his diet.
"Let's go," he says, before he can convince himself that it wouldn't hurt if he got nonfat milk.
Andrew goes to practice with him more often after that, hangs with Chuck and Gus and the other equipment guys, and seems to just like being around hockey equipment. He still won't elaborate on his hockey playing, and when Kesler offers to get him a pair of skates, he declines.
He starts working out again in Kesler's basement, and sometimes disappears for hours at a time during the day. He's always back by late afternoon, even though Kesler keeps expecting him not to come home.
When his agent calls to remind him about media weekend in New York, he really is surprised. It's not that he'd forgotten about it, but it had seemed far away, and now it's next week.
It takes him four days to bring it up to Andrew.
"I have to go to New York. Just for the weekend," he says. Andrew starts nodding, and Kesler really can't stand it, how Andrew just always assumes the worst of Kesler. "But I mean, you can stay here. While I'm gone. You have keys and everything, so you should just ... stay."
Andrew blinks and says, "Oh, okay."
Kesler doesn't tell Andrew that he spent two days trying to figure out how to make it okay for Andrew to come with him. Andrew would probably like New York. Kesler already knew he was screwed about Andrew, but this was taking it another step up.
That night when they're making out on the couch, Andrew pulls away and gets to his knees between Kesler's legs.
"Um," Kesler says, "you don't, I mean, uh, are you sure?"
In answer, Andrew unzips his fly and gets his hand on Kesler's dick.
Kesler is pretty sure this is because he said Andrew could stay, and he's therefore pretty sure Andrew is doing this for the wrong reason. But he also has a hand other than his own on his dick for the first time in weeks, and he's been wound up too tightly to be able to say no.
Especially when Andrew leans in and takes Kesler in his mouth.
It would be embarrassing, how quickly he comes, except that he doesn't care because Andrew is blowing him. When he can move his arms again, he pulls Andrew up onto his lap and kisses him. He can taste himself in Andrew's mouth, and he doesn't know why he didn't think of this kissing thing earlier, because that is fucking hot.
He shoves his hand into Andrew's pants and jerks him off. He'll do better later, he swears. Andrew doesn't seem to mind though. He moans into Kesler's mouth and bucks into his hand, and it doesn't take him long to come either.
Kesler spends the next two days in a sort of sexually satisfied daze. Bieksa makes fun of him, and then just shakes his head in disgust when all Kesler can do is smile smugly at him.
The night before Kesler leaves for New York, Andrew crawls on top of him in bed, licks his way down Kesler's body, skips his cock, and goes straight to rimming him. He adds a few fingers to his tongue, and Kesler might come really really soon. Then Andrew looks up at Kesler, his fingers still in Kesler's ass.
"Can I?" Andrew asks. He punctuates his question with a curl of his fingers, and Kesler nods frantically.
Andrew's quick with the condom, and then he's pushing into Kesler slowly.
"Hurry up," Kesler says, but Andrew shakes his head. He fucks Kesler slowly, not letting him speed the pace up on his own. Finally Kesler just stops trying and lets Andrew do what he wants. Not that it's bad, more like Kesler really might die, he thinks. Andrew is looking at him, and it's making Kesler feel hot and flushed, and that makes him even more turned on.
Finally Andrew starts speeding up, and Kesler knows he gets really noisy right there before he comes, but no one can prove it. When Andrew comes, his breathing goes ragged and his eyes flutter, and it's kind of fascinating. He lies on top of Kesler for a while, catching his breath, then gets up and goes to take care of the condom.
He climbs back in bed, grabs Kesler's arm, and wraps it around him so they're spooning.
Okay, Kesler thinks, this is new. But it's cool, he can do this for a while. And then he falls asleep like that.
When he wakes up, they're back in their normal positions on opposite sides of the bed, but Kesler doesn't have time to ponder it; he has to finish packing and get to the airport.
"See you when I get back," he tells Andrew, and leaves.
New York is fun, but tiring, and not as exciting as it is when it means training camp starts soon. Kesler says all the right things about his injury, and he mostly means them.
It's weird not having Andrew around. Kesler's just gotten used to him being there, he guesses. Also, he thinks Andrew would have fun here. He'd be having more fun than Kesler, probably.
He gets home late Monday night. All he wants is a beer, a blowjob, and to go to sleep. But when he opens the front door, the house is dark and quiet.
"Andrew?" he calls. Nothing.
That doesn't mean anything, Kesler tells himself. He could just be out, doing whatever. He's allowed. He heads to the kitchen to grab his beer. There are no dishes in the sink, the dishwasher is empty, there are no new takeout containers in the fridge. Okay, so that's kinda weird. But maybe Andrew got bored again.
In the den, it's the same. No magazines or books on the coffee table, and all the pillows are straightened. In the bedroom, the bed is made and there are no clothes on the floor. Okay, now Kesler's getting kind of worried. He checks in the bathroom. Andrew's toothbrush is gone. He searches through his drawers and closets and finds all of the clothes he lent to Andrew. The only things missing are the clothes Andrew came here in and Kesler's Tigers hat.
"Oh, fuck you," Kesler says to the empty room.
Kesler hauls his ass back into his car, and into the city, grumbling the entire time. He is so fucking angry. He told Andrew he could stay. Andrew's acting like he's some kind of jerk who didn't actually mean it or something.
He gets to Andrew's corner and Andrew's not there.
"Motherfucker," he growls, and pulls away. He drives around for half an hour, goes back, and Andrew's still not there. One of the other guys is, though.
"Nice car," the guy says when Kesler rolls down his window. "Wanna take me for a ride?"
"Where's Andrew?" Kesler asks. The guy's come hither expression drops. He shrugs.
"Haven't seen him," he says, and turns away.
"Wait! When was the last time you saw him?"
"How much is it worth to you?"
Kesler does not have the patience for this right now.
"Just answer the fucking question," he growls. Whatever the guy sees in Kesler's expression makes him take a step back.
"Haven't seen him in weeks, dude."
Just fucking great. Kesler drives off without another word.
Kesler goes back to Andrew's corner every night for a week. Andrew is never there.
On the sixth night, he parks across the street, ignores all the other hookers, and just waits for Andrew to show up. He drinks two large Red Bulls and turns his music up obnoxiously loud because this is not a neighborhood where he wants to fall asleep. By 2am, he’s jittery from the caffeine and nursing a headache from straining his eyes, and Andrew still hasn’t shown up. By 4am, he’s nodding off over his steering wheel, and he either has to go home or sleep here. He goes home.
Training camp starts, and even though Kesler can't practice with the team, he still goes and trains himself and hangs with the team. He shows up every morning working on a complete lack of sleep, his eyes gritty and his limbs heavy.
He lies to Coach and says he might be coming down with something. Since he can't practice with the team anyway, it doesn't seem to bother Coach.
Bieksa and Burr aren't so easy to shake off.
"Seriously," Bieksa says when they're all leaving the arena, "does this have to do with the hooker?"
"Wait, there's a hooker?" Burr asks. Kesler doesn't know why he's friends with these people.
"He's missing, okay?" Kesler finally snaps.
"Missing?" Bieksa asks.
"He?" Burr asks.
"I'm going home," Kesler says.
"Okay, but seriously, have you called the police?" Bieksa asks him 10 minutes later over the phone.
"I'm not calling the police," Kesler says. Not like he hadn't thought about it, and then he remembered Andrew saying, "I'm convincing" and decided that the police probably would not be that helpful. "You think the police are gonna care about a missing hooker?"
"Why do you care, Juice?" Kesler interrupts. "Aren't you glad he's not around to try and rob me or whatever?"
"Shut the fuck up, dude, just because I thought letting him stay with you was a bad idea doesn't mean I want anything bad to happen to him, okay? Besides, you clearly care, so I care."
Kesler is about to snap, I don't care, but that's very obviously a lie. His actions would suggest otherwise. Okay, yes, fine, he cares. A lot. Obviously.
"Fine," Kesler says. "I've done everything I can think of, except maybe hiring a private investigator. He could have left the province, or he could be dead for all I fucking know."
"Do you think something happened to him?"
Kesler sighs. "I've been checking the papers, you know? I called some hospitals. Nothing matching his description. I don't think he went back to his corner at all."
"So you think he left voluntarily."
"Yeah. That's what I think." Because sure, it makes him so fucking angry that Andrew just left like that, but it's better than thinking about Andrew in a hospital, or worse, at the bottom of the bay or something.
"But why? I mean, he had a pretty good thing going."
"I don't know," Kesler grits out.
"Did you do something? You did something, didn't you?"
"I have to go now," Kesler says, and hangs up.
Preseason goes on, and Kesler can't play hockey, and he can't find Andrew. The season starts, and Kesler still can't play hockey or find Andrew.
He does start practicing with the team, and it's such a fucking relief. It's not playing games, but it's something.
But he's still not sleeping well, and his trainers think he's hiding being in pain from them. He tries to convince them that playing games would help him sleep better, but they don't seem to think so. What do they know?
Bieksa helps him look, but Andrew remains MIA. Kesler's been reluctant to hire an investigator for a couple reasons. One, imagining explaining the situation makes him cringe. And two, because if Andrew is staying away on his own, then he clearly doesn't want Kesler to find him.
But he can't shake the fear that something bad happened, so he starts looking up investigators. Hopefully someone who won't take the entire story to the press and ruin Kesler's life even more.
The team leaves on a road trip, and Kesler is alone and bored again.
He goes to training in the morning, then goes home and tries to narrow his list of investigators. He's down to three now.
The doorbell rings, and Kesler glares toward the front hall. He's not expecting any deliveries and Bieksa is not even in Canada, so he can't stop by unexpectedly. He gets up and stomps to the front door, intending to tell whoever it is to scram, he doesn't want any Girl Scout cookies or whatever. He yanks open the door.
"Um," Andrew says after a minute. Kesler is aware he's staring, but he's still having trouble believing that Andrew is actually there. He's wearing clothes Kesler has never seen before, that aren't either hooker tight or too big like Kesler's clothes were. He's wearing Kesler's Tigers hat, backwards.
"You--" Kesler says, and then doesn't really know what he wants to say. "I couldn't find you," he finally says.
"I quit," Andrew says. "Being a hooker. I'm done."
"Oh," Kesler says. He doesn't know what that means. Well, he knows what that means, but he doesn't know what it means for him. It's selfish, but Andrew is the one who came here and rang his doorbell, and Kesler doesn't know what to do with that. "Congratulations?" he says.
"Yeah, thanks," Andrew says. He shifts from foot to foot. "I have like, a real job and stuff. Just bussing tables, but you know." Kesler nods, even though he kinda doesn't. "So um, I have a cell phone now." He holds out a strip of paper. "Here's the number. You know, if you want."
"Or not," Andrew says, dropping his gaze and starting to step back.
Kesler grabs his wrist, pulls him into the house, and slams the door. He pushes Andrew up against it.
"You fucking asshole, I looked everywhere for you. I was about to hire a private investigator."
"Sorry," Andrew says. He doesn't sound very sorry. "I had to get my shit together. On my own."
Kesler refrains from asking why it had to be on his own. He would have helped, if Andrew asked. He grabs the slip of paper from Andrew's hand. "I want this," he says.
The corner of Andrew's lips quirks up. "Yeah?"
"Fuck you," Kesler says, and kisses him.
Kesler pulls away after a minute. Andrew whines a little, and Kesler smiles.
"You're staying, right?" he asks. He just ... needs to know.
"I have my own apartment now," Andrew says.
Andrew nods at the paper still in Kesler's hand. "You can reach me," he says.
Kesler likes that idea and has to kiss Andrew again. Andrew seems okay with that.
"But tonight," Kesler says a few minutes later. "Stay tonight?"
Andrew shrugs. "I guess I could do that," he says casually.
"Okay, cool," Kesler says, going for casual too. He thinks the way he's smiling is giving him away, though.
"Seriously," Andrew says, "are we gonna talk or are we gonna fuck?"
Kesler pushes Andrew back against the door. "Is that what you want?" he asks. It comes out kind of growly.
Andrew shifts his hip so his cock brushes Kesler's. "Yeah," he says. "That's what I want."
And who is Kesler to deny him?