Volume 2 of the Something in the Water series arrives Tuesday, January 30!

I’m Not Proud

I’m Not Proud

Sometimes, you have to dig a long way back to figure out where something actually started. Joshua has seen it before; coaches, reeling back through tapes, until they get to the initiation point. This. This is where we fucked up, they say, pinpointing it, circling it. This is what you did wrong.

            Joshua is pretty sure he knows exactly where he went wrong on this one. It started in Game Three, when he scored those goals and suddenly everyone was out for blood. That was when he caught the Bears’ attention. Oh, they knew he’d been dangerous before – a real change of pace, truthfully, from the days when he wasn’t considered much of a threat at all – but they’d been so concerned about Flor.
            Putting two goals on the board will usually get the other team to see you.
            The whole Bears team saw him. Miettenen punched him in the face in Game Seven; Kovac had given him a few good whacks.
            But it was Renner – typical little pest – that had managed to get under his skin. It wasn’t unusual, really; Renner has a reputation as being a pest, and Joshua knew he should have known better. But the kid just kept fucking chirping, coming in late on scrums and – fuck, he’d really pissed Joshua off when he’d grabbed Dunner by the back of his sweater and hauled him back. After the whistle, of all things.
            He chirped right back. Slash for slash, shove for shove, he gave as good as he got – he’d been around the block. He knew he shouldn’t have, really – he could have taken a dumb penalty over any of those incidents – but fuck, Renner was pissing him off. Little prick.
            He thought it was Game Five when Renner actually made a pass at him. In Game 6, he got handsy. Nobody seemed to notice, and Joshua didn’t know what the hell to make of that. He’d never been groped on the ice before – not intentionally, not like Renner did it. He’d never had his ass swatted at by a member of the other team.
            No penalties, nothing. Renner shoved him down to the ice in Game Seven, followed him down, held him there for a moment. He made it look like they were tangled up. And Joshua had seen that plenty of times, but it was fucking weird when Renner’s hand was gripping his ass. Oh, sure, it was just a lot of padding on a lot of padding, really, but fuck if it wasn’t weird.
            Joshua lost track of the play after that. They blew the three-goal lead, they lost miserably in overtime. White just laid there on the ice, defeated, and Joshua’s heart broke in two to see him like that.
            It wasn’t that he’d let down Lions Nation, or even that they’d fucked up that bad. They’d all let each other down. They’d let White down, letting them get those goals.
            The locker room, the press conference was a blur. Everyone had the same thousand-yard stare, the same glossy look of disbelief.
            Joshua had his gear, was heading out of the Boston Garden into the dark of the May night, ready to get on the bus to the hotel, and from there, to the airport, and then back home to a disappointed, angry city, and all the backlash.
            And there was Renner, leaned up against one of the pillars of the parkade, arms crossed. He still looked like an asshole in street clothes and Joshua resisted the urge to punch him. He wasn’t stupid like that. You didn’t punch people off the ice. That wasn’t real-world problem solving.
            “Hey,” Renner said, “that was rough.”       
            Joshua gave him the coldest look he could muster. Renner held his arms open wide, as though proclaiming his innocence. “Can I buy you a drink?” he asked, and Joshua considered that for a long, hard minute. It was weird. Renner was weird. All the butt-touching, and now he was offering to buy him a drink.
            He didn’t like it, but fuck it, his season was over, playoffs were over, and he needed that fucking drink. Renner could fork for it, since he’d been fucking weird.
            They hit up a bar on the far side of town, way out of the downtown core. Joshua texted Brent to let him know he’d meet them at the airport later; he asked the captain to grab his stuff. He didn’t talk to Renner pretty much the whole drive.
            The bar was a hole in the wall, nice and quiet. No televisions. Loud music – maybe Irish or something. Renner bought them a pitcher and they tucked themselves away in the shadows, hoping nobody noticed them.
            “So that sucked for you guys,” Renner said.
            Joshua glared at him, because yeah, he fucking knew that sucked, and he didn’t need Renner to rub it in. “Yeah,” he said at last. “It sucked.”
            “You golf?” Renner asked. Joshua nodded, and he watched Renner turn an interesting shade of pink as he struggled with what to say next.
            “You know,” Renner said finally, “it doesn’t mean anything. What we do out there. Right?”
            Joshua sighed and shrugged. “Look, if you think you need to apologize or something – don’t. It’s your job. You’re a pest. That’s what you get paid to do.”
            “Yeah, but,” Renner started, then stopped himself. He stared over Joshua’s shoulder.
            “What?” Joshua asked at last.
            “We need to go,” Renner said, and all but dragged him out of the bar, back to the vehicle.
            “The fuck?” Joshua asked, shaking his hand free. He’s bigger than Renner – he could take him.
            Renner shook his head and turned the engine over. “Marlie and Lander just walked in. I forgot they lived out this way.”
            Joshua raised an eyebrow. “You forgot?” he asked, but Renner was on to other subjects now – “You like wine?  Are you into reds? I’ve got some nice reds at home –”
            “You can drop me off at the hotel,” Joshua said stiffly. He had no intention of going anywhere near Renner’s abode. “I’ll still make the bus.”
            Renner looked at him, then kept driving. Joshua was tempted to pull out his cell and inform someone – Clark? Shrivener? – that Marshall Renner had just kidnapped him.
            Oh boy, if they didn’t think he was a bit of a twink before, what with all the injuries. He could just imagine what they’d say if he said he’d been kidnapped by a guy who was physically smaller than him.
            He didn’t. Instead, he glanced at his watch, and said, “Okay, I guess I have time for a glass. But then I need to get to the airport -”
            Renner said nothing.
*
Renner’s house wasn’t much, actually. Kind of small. Cozy. Lots of Maritime charm. Joshua tried not to be too interested in some of the ships in bottles. “How do you feel about pinot noir?” Renner asked, heading into the kitchen. “I’ve got a bottle here, straight from France -”
            “That’s fine,” Joshua said, pausing and wondering if he should take off his shoes. There was a pop and the distinctive sound of wine sloshing into glasses. Renner emerged from the kitchen.
            “Oh,” he said, “you can leave them on – don’t worry about the floor.”
            Joshua noted his host’s stocking feet and slowly toed off his dress shoes. He took the proffered glass from Renner. “Thanks,” he said.
            Renner ushered him into the living room. It was cramped. They sat down on the sofa. Renner cranked the fireplace, despite the fact it was warm outside.
            Joshua thought this was getting even stranger.
            “Josh,” Renner said, the paused. “I can call you that, yeah? Do people call you that?”
            “No,” Joshua replied and watched Renner wither. “It sounds stupid. Joshua’s bad enough.”
            Renner laughed, almost nervously. “Okay,” he said. “Okay. Joshua.”
            “Look, Renner, what do you –”
            Renner actually had the audacity to kiss him. Cupped his face and kissed him. The angle was strange, because Joshua’s at least a head taller than Renner, and it was so weird because they were both scruffy and it almost itched.
            Renner pulled away. “Uh,” he said, “sorry.”
            Joshua stared at the wall for a moment. All right, so this just went from weird to fucking freaky. Though all of the butt-touching made more sense now. “You want me,” he surmised.
            Renner flushed bright red.
            Joshua didn’t know what to make of it. He’d never been – well. If anybody on any hockey team, in any league he’d ever played in, had ever wanted him, they’d never made it apparent. Never said anything about it. Never did anything about it. And frankly, Joshua had preferred it that way.
            Oh, he knew about all the shit that the guys did with each other. He knew for a fact Dunner and White had a thing, and O’Neill and Sweeney were practically married, and he knew other guys around the league who had better relationships with each other than their own wives or girlfriends. He knew about the trysts and the one-night stands, and the stuff that went on in the locker room that nobody ever talked about.
            They all knew. You didn’t spend much time in hockey after fifteen and not know that this sort of stuff went on all the time.
            Joshua had just never been propositioned, and, really, he’d never been all that interested in it. The closest he’d ever come to sleeping with another man was that one time in Philly when they’d tried to have him go down on Fetty.
            But that had just been a hazing ritual. It had been for shits and giggles at his expense, and nothing else. It had been weird and fucked up, and pretty strange – an all around bad experience, and one that he hadn’t exactly been keen on repeating.
            But … this was quite a bit different than that. Renner wanted him. Renner was trying to tell him that. Renner was making it apparent, Renner was taking action.
            Renner was trying to seduce him.
            Granted, he was doing a pretty shitty job of it. Joshua wasn’t about to be impressed by a couple of glasses of wine or a fireplace, and he sure as hell wasn’t impressed with being taken home or missing his flight. “Look,” he said, “this kind of isn’t my thing, so –”
            “What are you into then?” Renner asked, leaning forward.
            “Chains and whips,” Joshua scoffed, half-joking. He has a thing for bondage, he knows that much, but he was not about to tell the pest that. He rolled his eyes for emphasis, hoping Renner got the point. He wasn’t into doing him.
            Even if curiosity was kind of getting the better of him tonight.
            Renner snorted, incredulous smirk crossing his face. God, he’d look so much fucking better without the playoff ‘stache.
            And Joshua could not believe he just thought that.
            “No fuckin’ way,” Renner said.
            “Yes fuckin’ way,” Joshua retorted and Renner shook his head.
            “Guess I owe Miettenen fifty bucks, he said that was totally your thing.”
            Joshua wasn’t sure whether he should be more concerned that apparently his sexual kinks were a topic of discussion in the Boston locker room, or that Jussi Miettenen had him pegged.
            “But it’s cool,” Renner continued. “Tell the truth, I’m kinda into the Fifty Shades thing.”
            “Don’t tell me you read that trash.”
            Renner laughed. “Nope. I don’t read. Just … I meant sorta sums up. Little more vanilla than … well, not the hardcore stuff, but, you know. Like. Well. Y’know.”
            Joshua took a deep, sobering breath. “We are not having this conversation,” he said.
            “We could go upstairs and do somethin’ else,” Renner suggested. Not even subtle.
            “No, thanks,” Joshua said. “I have a flight to –”
            “C’mon,” Renner said. His tone was wheedling, bordering on whining. “You can fly back in the morning.”
            “Yeah, on my dime, not the team’s, so –”
            “Cheap bastard. What if it was on my dime?”
            Joshua quirked an eyebrow. Renner smiled. “I pay. You get first class, a mid-afternoon flight, non-stop, direct.”
            Was the twerp really trying to buy him off like an escort service? “Look,” he said.
            “Limo to the airport.”
            Joshua gave him a cold look.
            “Breakfast in bed.” The twerp gave him a shit-eating grin.
            “Do I look like a whore?” Joshua finally spat. “The answer is no. I’m leaving.”
            “It’s a long walk back to the hotel, even further to the airport,” Renner said. “Are you sure you don’t want a ride?”
            “Nice double entendre. I’m going.”
            “I’m impressed you know the word entendre.”
            “I read. Unlike some people.”
            “Non, comprende tu français?”
            “Shut up, Frenchie.”
            Renner shook his head again. “Okay,” he said. “What do I have to do. What is it gonna take to get you in my bed?”
            “It’s not happening,” Joshua reiterated.
            “I mean, all I want to do is strip you down, tie you up, and fuck you three ways from Sunday.”
            It took Joshua a couple of seconds to register the basics of the English language again. “One,” he said, hoping his voice wasn’t too tight – he was too old to seem hot and bothered by that suggestion, “it’s Monday. Two, why?”
            Renner shrugged. “Dunno,” he replied, and Joshua sighed. At least the kid was honest. “Just do. Seems like a good idea to me.”
            It was a terrible idea, Joshua assured himself. Renner was still grinning though. “I mean, what’s wrong with it? I get laid, you get laid. I get to watch you wriggle around, hear you call my name, you get all of this –”
            “You are … very confident,” Joshua observed dryly, hoping that Renner was actually looking at his face, not anywhere else. He was going to have to adjust his pants if this kept up.
            “You can’t tell me you’re not the least bit interested,” Renner said. And he was right, though Joshua was loathe to admit it. He was interested. Or curious, at the least.
            He didn’t get it. Why Renner? Why now? He’d spent the last fifteen years being exclusively into boobs, so why on earth would he decide to be bi-curious now? And why on earth would he decide to be into Renner?
            Well, a little logical voice said, maybe it’s because Renner’s the only dude who’s ever expressed any interest in doing you.
            Joshua decided he hated that little voice, right then and there.
            Renner got points for persistence. He was a pest; it was what he did. But he was clearly determined; he wasn’t going to give up any time soon. And yeah, Joshua was curious. So when Renner said, “So, what do you think? We could go upstairs and fuck,” Joshua nodded a touch, and then immediately felt sick and had to breathe through his nose to keep from passing out on Renner’s floor because of the idiotic decision he’d just made.
            Renner beamed and Joshua’s heart twisted a bit. “Let’s go,” he said. “Do you – uh – do you normally lead, or ..?”
            “You lead,” Joshua said, calmly as he could. He wasn’t about to tell Renner he’d never been with another guy, so he had no idea if he liked to lead or not. Normally, he led – but that was with girls, and he was expected to lead.
            Renner led him to the stairs. They climbed the creaking staircase – there were seventeen stairs to the landing, not that Joshua counted.
            It was warmer upstairs, almost stuffy. Renner’s room was, as might be expected of a twenty-one-year-old bachelor, a mess. Hockey gear was here, there, everywhere; laundry was mixed together; the bed was unmade (although Joshua was hoping the sheets were clean); all of Renner’s grooming products were scattered across the dresser, various jars open; and, of course, there were some used tissues.
            “I hope your sheets are clean,” Joshua said, sitting on the edge of the king-sized mattress. Renner grabbed a handful of ties from the tie rack inside the closet – which was propped open just a bit.
            The bed groaned as he climbed onto it, and Joshua moved with him, clearly seeing that he was supposed to lie down. “Shirt off,” Renner instructed. Joshua worked his dress shirt off, and Renner forced him down, flat on his back, then lashed one of his wrists to the headboard with one of the ties – real silk, from the feel of it, though Joshua wouldn’t have expected much less.
            He secured Joshua’s other wrist. He thought for a moment, then hopped back off the bed and went digging around. Joshua tugged at his bonds a bit. Renner had experience tying knots. “You were a boy scout or something, weren’t ya?”
            Renner snorted, then returned with a leather … something. A gag, Joshua thought, and he bit his tongue. Renner grinned at him. “Let’s shut that smart mouth of yours, eh?” he murmured, crawling back onto the bed.
            Joshua wasn’t sure he wanted to put up a fight, so he let Renner push the ball into his mouth, behind his teeth. It was uncomfortable, especially when Renner tightened the straps. He wanted to ask why the man even had something like that, but it was probably better not to ask.
            A piece of silk was laid over his eyes, then tied off behind his head. Joshua blinked, then just shut his eyes anyway. He couldn’t see. “Mmph,” he said.
            Renner unbuckled his belt with deft hands, started tugging off his slacks. “Lift up,” he instructed, and Joshua did. His pants landed somewhere on the floor. That was followed by what was likely Renner’s own shirt, then his belt – a heavy thud – and his pants.
            “Okay,” Renner said, nudging Joshua’s knees apart, “let’s get you ready, eh?”
            Joshua had no idea what that meant. He nodded a touch. And then Renner pushed at his shin, so he drew his legs up, bent at the knee. Renner’s shoulders were broad, and he pushed his way between Joshua’s legs, spreading them wider. Joshua felt his breath hitch; his chest caught.
            Renner wriggled a finger into him. He bit down on the gag to keep from yelping in surprise – he had not been expecting that. Not at all. Like, he knew … he knew, but … but …
            That didn’t mean he understood the mechanics of it.
            Renner wriggled that finger around in him, and Joshua tried not to grimace. It didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t comfortable and it was weird as all get out. Did people actually do this?
            “How do you like it?” Renner asked. “Dry?”
            Joshua didn’t know how to answer. He tried to focus on staying still, on not giving himself away.
            Renner paused. There was a second finger prodding now, and Joshua had to choke down the whimper that rose up in his throat.
            “Or do you like lube?”
            Just stay still, just breathe, just –
            Renner pulled that second finger away, started pulling out the first. “Josh,” he said – clearly had forgotten what they said earlier about that – “I’m not going any further until you answer me. You can nod, you know.”
            Joshua nodded slowly. Very slowly.
            “So,” Renner said, impatience in his voice. “How do you like it? Nod once for dry, twice for lube.”
            Joshua made the most embarrassing noise he’d ever made in his entire life, but he honestly had no fucking clue how to answer that. He didn’t know what he liked, and he didn’t know what to tell Renner.
            “Josh?” Renner asked. “Are you … are you like in pain or something? It’s been a while for you, hasn’t it? You’re really tight, like –”
            At least the next noise that came out of him was more of an exasperated groan, and he shook his head furiously. Renner’s confusion was almost palpable, weighing down on him.
            Renner took a deep breath. “Oh my god,” he breathed.
            The bonds around his wrists went slack. The ball gag was yanked out of his mouth. “You’re a fucking virgin,” Renner hissed, and Joshua’s face was warmer than a prairie fire.
            “I –” he started.
            Renner flipped him over, easily, and Joshua wasn’t sure he liked how easily he was manhandled. Renner made a strangled noise. “That,” he said, finally, “is fucking hot.”
            “How?!” Joshua snapped. It was embarrassing! Not hot, the opposite of hot –
            Renner leaned down, over his back. Fuck, he was warm, so warm. And hard. Really hard. He licked Joshua’s ear. “Can I?” he asked; his voice had dropped low, thick with desire. “Will you let me?”
            “Let you what?” Joshua breathed, then jerked when Renner rolled his tongue down his neck.
            “Fuck you. Will you let me pop your cherry?”
            Joshua almost snorted with derision – who the hell used those terms any more? – but groaned instead, shivered when Renner kissed his neck and pushed up against him.
            “Yeah,” he panted, “yeah, go ahead –”
            Renner ran his hands down Joshua’s sides, then pulled away. “Get on your knees,” he instructed.
            Joshua pushed up onto his hands and knees. “Hm, no,” Renner said.
            “No?” Joshua asked.
            “You’ve really never done this before?” Renner sounded almost concerned. He placed a hand between Joshua’s shoulder blades and pushed down. His other hand came to rest on Joshua’s stomach, mere inches away from his cock. Fucking tease.
            He bent Joshua into position, pushing down his shoulders, his upper body, leaving his face pressed into the pillow, his ass stuck ludicrously high in the air. “This position is best for beginners,” Renner informed him gently. “You can relax more.”
            “Can I?” Joshua asked, but he went unanswered.
            “Oh,” Renner said.
            “What?” Joshua asked, turning his head. The blindfold was still on. He couldn’t see a goddamn thing.
            He could still feel, though, and he felt Renner tracing a finger down his spine, tracing – oh god – his scars. From the surgeries. Fuck. He’d forgotten about those.
            “Is it okay?” Renner asked.
            “Is what okay?”
            “Your back,” he replied. “I mean … Uh. I know. About what happened. And like, it doesn’t hurt or anything? ‘cause I’m gonna put pressure on your –”
            “It’s fine,” Joshua replied. It was. Hadn’t bothered him for a while now.
            “Okay,” Renner said. “Okay.” He traced the scar again, then pushed Joshua’s legs further apart. “Spread for me, babe, give me a bit of room to work –”
            Joshua scoffed at being called babe. “Marshall,” he said, surprised at how hoarse his voice was.
            Renner ignored him.
            “Marshall,” he repeated.
            “Marshy,” Renner corrected.
            Joshua was silent for a moment. “Call me Marshy,” the younger man insisted.
            “Marshy,” Joshua said after a moment’s hesitation, hating the way the name sounded.
            “Yeah?”
            “I wanna watch.”
            Renner sighed heavily. “No,” he said, “not this time.”
            Joshua thought he was pretty bold, assuming there’d be more than one time. “Why not?” he snapped.
            “Because,” Renner replied, “I’d have to go get the mirror from down the hall and –”
            “Marshy.” Joshua almost laughed.
            “What?”
            “I meant take the blindfold off.”
            “Oh,” Renner said. He untied the knot and Joshua could see again. He stared at the wall for a moment.
            He glanced over his shoulder at Renner. “But,” he said, “get the mirror. “
            Renner stared at him. “Really?” he asked, his face pinched and pained. “It’s a huge pain in the ass and –”
            “I wanna watch.”
            “Nah, it’s just gonna make you more nervous –”
            “I want to watch you pop my cherry,” Joshua insisted.
            Renner stared at him for a moment. “Fuck, yes,” he said finally, and rolled off the bed.
            He returned with the full-length mirror a few minutes later. He propped it up against the dresser on the opposite wall. Joshua stared at his reflection for a moment. Renner – Marshy. Marshy crawled back onto the bed, leaned over him.
            “What do you think?” he asked and Joshua looked at him, his flushed cheeks, his open mouth. He thought this was fucking hot.
            “It’s good,” Joshua said, glancing back at their reflections.
            Marshy grabbed up a bottle of … lube, Joshua supposed. He slicked some over his hands, then spread Joshua wide again. He pushed his finger up against Joshua again, but didn’t go in this time. He waited, circling. Like a goddamn vulture.
            Joshua tensed.
            “No,” Marshy said. “You gotta relax.”
            He kept circling. Joshua took a couple of deep breaths, willing himself to relax.
            He jerked and tensed right back up when Marshy pushed his forefinger into him. “How’s it feel?” he asked.
            “Fuckin’ weird,” Joshua huffed, burying his face in the pillow. It didn’t really hurt, but he’d never had something inside him like this.
            Marshy chuckled. “Yeah,” he said. “Well, at least you’re with me.”
            Joshua was silent. Marshy continued, and Joshua almost groaned – he was one of those chatty fucks, wasn’t he?
            “My first time,” he said, “guy didn’t use lube. Used spit, thought it was enough. Fingered me quick, shoved it in, and fuck, it hurt.”
            Joshua clenched up. Marshy jerked forward. “Whoa, hey. No worries. I’m gonna make it good for you, okay? I learned a lot since then. You just relax – tell me what feels good and what doesn’t.”
            Joshua huffed into the pillow again. “Fine,” he grunted.
            Marshy kept going. “You don’t need to worry. I’m gonna slick you up real good, stretch you out first.” He ran a hand down Joshua’s back. “Okay?”
            “I guess.”
            “It’s not even gonna hurt, I promise.”
            “Tall order,” Joshua scoffed. “Look, are you gonna banter all night, or are we going to do this?”
            Marshy stopped circling his fingers. He sealed himself to Joshua’s backside, warm and heavy and almost uncomfortable. “You can’t rush this,” he murmured.
            Joshua exhaled through his nose and closed his eyes. “Fine,” he huffed.
            “Mm,” Marshy said, then lazily palmed Joshua’s cock. “See? You’re not even half-hard yet. I wanna make you beg me for it.”    
            “Not gonna happen,” Joshua mumbled, letting his voice get swallowed up by the pillow as Marshy wrapped his hand more firmly around him and squeezed. “Not too rough,” he grunted.
            Marshy’s grip loosened just a touch. “I don’t need instructions,” he murmured. “I’ve got one.”
            Joshua shifted a touch; he was keenly aware of that fact. Marshy was certainly impressing it on him.
            Marshy flicked his wrist and thumbed the slit. Real good technique, and Joshua wondered if maybe he’d been doing it wrong all these years, getting handjobs and blowjobs from chicks – who’d had to learn their way around a prick, because they didn’t have one.
            But then, maybe Marshy just had a lot of experience. Joshua smirked into the pillow – damn good burn.
            Marshy stroked him slow, varying the length of his stroke every now and then, giving him a little squeeze or another flick here or there. Joshua took another deep breath and rolled his hips forward.
            Marshy slid another finger into him and he froze up, almost instantly. Marshy squeezed him again and stroked him a little faster. “Relax,” he murmured, “just relax …”
            “I am relaxed,” Joshua mumbled, then fell silent.
            Marshy continued stroking him. Joshua was about to complain that having someone breathing down the back of one’s neck wasn’t exactly relaxing, but Marshy started pressing butterfly kisses to the back of his neck.
            Okay, if this hadn’t been gay before, it was definitely gay now. “Stop that,” he groused. “’m not a girl –”
            Marshy pushed his fingers apart inside him, pressing back against tight muscle, opening it up wide. “Oh,” Joshua said, a little breathlessly.
            He heard Marshy snort. “You liked that?”
            Joshua nodded. “Figures,” Marshy mumbled. “Well, you’ll like what comes next then.”
            Joshua really wanted to call the smug asshole out on trying to predict what he would and wouldn’t like, but Marshy scissored his fingers again.
            Marshy hummed contemplatively. “You want a third one?” he asked.
            “I dunno,” Joshua replied, thrusting into Marshy’s hand. Mm, god, friction. “Will it feel good?”
            “It should,” Marshy said. “You seemed to like the stretch, eh?”
            “Don’t ask me,” Joshua breathed. “I have no idea. Just … I can work on figuring out what I like and don’t like later.”
            Marshy chuckled. “Okay,” he said, and slipped a third finger in. He had to work to get it in, even with all the lube and Joshua shut his eyes tight.
            “That hurts a bit,” he said.
            “Give it a minute.”
            “Still hurts.”
            Marshy worked his fingers around inside him, stretching him, stroking him inside in time to the way he was still stroking Joshua’s cock. “Nnf,” Joshua said to the pillows. “Okay, that’s better.”
            “Do you want me to keep going, or … ?”
            “Keep going,” Joshua said, partially because he was starting to enjoy himself, and partially because he was still a touch freaked about what came next.
            “Okay,” Marshy said, and started putting pressure on his fingertips as he dragged them along Joshua’s passage.
            “Nn,” Joshua said.
            “Feels good?”
            “Feels nice.” Joshua tilted his head up, panting. The pillows were starting to suffocate him. He dropped his head a second later and arched his back instead, thrusting furiously into Marshy’s hand, which wrapped tighter around him. “Fuck. What did you –”
            “I guess I found it then,” Marshy murmured, and paused for a moment, pressing down.
            “Oh fuck,” Joshua managed, and if it wasn’t for Marshy’s hand tightening viciously around the base of his cock, he would have come. He collapsed forward; his arms were shaking.
            Marshy pulled his fingers out, one by one, with a pop. Joshua listened to him tearing open the wrapper on a condom, squirting more lube on his hand. “Oh yeah,” the younger man groaned; the condom crinkled.
            “Stop jerking yourself off,” Joshua grunted into the pillow. Honestly, they’d gotten this far.
            “I’ve got more stamina than that,” Marshy protested, gripping at Joshua’s hips. He sounded pretty winded though.
            His hands slipped a couple of times, but he pulled Joshua back toward him. Joshua’s breath caught in his throat.
            That … was a helluva a lot bigger than a finger or two. He swallowed nervously.
            Marshy rubbed his back. “You’re tensing up on me again, babe,” he murmured. “Relax. There’s nothing to be scared of. I’m gonna take it nice and slow, real easy for you …”
            The push became more insistent. Marshy stroked his hand over his left hip. “Josh,” he said.
            “What?”
            “I want you to watch.”
            Joshua forced his eyes open, turned his head just enough to catch sight of them in the mirror.
            They were both too pale – lingering hints of the winter season, of snow and ice before summertime tans overcame them – and the flush showed up brilliantly. Marshy’s hair was drooping down into his eyes, sticking to his forehead. Joshua could see the tendons on his forearm, standing out as he gripped Joshua’s hip even tighter. Joshua stared at his own reflection for a moment – eyes wide and not quite scared, hair starting to curl (fucking useless stuff), his ass stuck way up in the air, Marshy’s fingernails digging into him, and Marshy sinking down into him, inch by steely inch.
            “Fuck,” he breathed. He watched his reflection wince with him. He curled his own fingers about his flagging cock.
            “Don’t worry about that,” Marshy said. “Happens to everybody. It’ll come back.”
            “I’d like it to come back now,” Joshua murmured. “I’m not into denial.”
            Marshy chuckled, then drew a sharp breath. “There,” he said. “All in.” He patted Joshua’s ass. “How’s it feel?”
            “Weird,” Joshua replied.
            “How?”
            “I dunno, I guess I feel … full?” He stroked himself faster. “How gross am I allowed to be?”
            Marshy laughed. “No – I got it. I know how it feels. Gets better.”
            “Taking your word for it here.”
            Marshy’s hands slipped again. “Can I … y’know, move? Is that okay?”
            “What else are you going to do? I don’t think just sitting there is how people fuck.”
            “I should have left the gag in,” Marshy groaned, and Joshua was trying to think of a smart-ass comment, when Marshy pulled back, and pushed back in again.
            “Oh,” Joshua said instead. He clutched at the sheets with his free hand. Marshy grunted and pulled back again, drove back in again.
            When Marshy pulled out for the third time, Joshua went back with him, rocking his hips into the motion. “Umm,” he said.
            “You like it, eh?”
            Joshua nodded, because he couldn’t think of what else to do. “Told ya it got better,” Marshy gloated – but it was hard to be offended by his confidence when he sounded just as breathless as Joshua felt.
            It was clumsy for the first few minutes, both of them rocking erratically against each other, and Joshua nearly laughed – he’d thought he was done with awkward sex when he’d left high school.
            It passed as they settled into a rhythm, Joshua pulling forward when Marshy pulled back, so far back he was almost out again, and then Joshua pushing back when he thrust in, which brought him in even deeper, and Joshua would try to hold him there, which constricted and squeezed Marshy even tighter, made it better when he tried to pull back.
            In and out, in and out, and then Marshy gripped his hips tight and rotated – or some fucking thing- and goddamn, there was that spot again, and Joshua saw stars. “Fuck, fuck,” he panted and fisted the sheets. “Marshy –”
            There were a few awkward seconds of shuffling about, and then Marshy wrapped his hand around Joshua’s cock, jerking him roughly. He sealed himself over Joshua’s back and pushed him down, slamming into him over and over. “Fuck,” Joshua spat again; Marshy just kept pushing on that … well, spot, whatever it was, and it felt fantastic, liquid pleasure flowing through his veins in spidery sunbursts, and his lungs stopped up.
            “Fuck,” Marshy hissed somewhere near his ear, his breath warm and his words shuddery, “you’re drippin’, fuck, you’re so slick, Josh –”
            He grunted and slung his free arm around Joshua, crushing him into his frenetic thrusting. Joshua was vaguely aware that he was going to regret this contortion in the morning, but Marshy drove deeper and he lost it all over the sheets, coming, calling nonsensically as he sank to the mattress, shuddering, breaking apart and Marshy just kept on and on – in and in and out and in and out, squeezing Joshua even though he was spent, and hauling him back further.
            His nails dug into Joshua’s stomach; he groaned low and long, and shuddered and shook, and slumped forward onto Joshua, boneless and heavy – dead weight on his back.
            Joshua didn’t even deign to move when Marshy pulled out of him, tied off his rubber and pitched it across the room. He was, in fact, pretty sure he could just lay there for the rest of forever and be content.
            Marshy crashed back onto the mattress beside him. “So?” he asked, and Joshua would otherwise be annoyed by his cheeky grin, but he couldn’t summon anything other than a dopey happiness, a kind of satiated that he hadn’t been in a long, long time.
            “If I smoked,” he said.
            Marshy’s grin got wider. He threw an arm about Joshua and half-dragged him over onto his side, until he was half-resting on Marshy. Joshua might have complained if he didn’t feel so goddamn tired and happy. Dopey.
            He could hear Marshy’s heartbeat. “This is girly,” he muttered. His lips felt numb; he could hardly keep his eyes open.
            “Well, you weren’t moving on your own. You looked kind of dumb like that.”
            “Nnhnn,” Joshua said by way of comeback, shut his eyes and let his head loll. Marshy’s breathing was calm.
            “It was that good, huh?”
            “Are you gonna be a prick about it if I say yes?”
            “Probably.”
            “Then no,” he said, and he had no idea what Marshy said after that, because everything was dark.
*
Joshua woke up to the sound of his cell phone beeping incessantly. His alarm. Fuck, he’d forgotten about that. He’d set it so he could get up and go for a run. He dragged a hand down his face.
            Normally he didn’t mind getting up and going – he relished it, in fact. He’d been so sick and so tired for so long, that now that he could move again, he was never going to take it for granted.
            But today, he hurt.
            He reached out for the bedside table to shut the annoying alarm off. He swatted at thin air, then frowned.
            Hotel?
            He blinked and peered about the room. Messy, the sunlight was all wrong, and … oh, fuck, the gear bag and the little bits of Bears knitwear peeking out at him.
            He was at Marshy’s house. In Marshy’s bed. In Massachusetts.
            He shifted. Annnd now he remembered why he hurt.
            Where the fuck was his phone? It was still beeping.
            “Josh?” Marshy called. “You awake now?”
            “Nn, yeah,” he replied, because, well. If there was one thing he’d learned, it was that it was best to get the awkward stuff over with fast.
            Marshy pushed the door open with a foot and padded into the room, carefully balancing the tray he had with him. Joshua stared at him for a moment, then covered his face with his hands.
            “What?” Marshy asked. “I promised you breakfast in bed, didn’t I?”
            “Please tell me you didn’t cook.”
            Marshy settled the tray over Joshua’s lap. “Shawzy tells me I’m decent at it.”
            “And how old is he?” Joshua asked, peering between his fingers. Okay, so maybe Renner could cook well enough not to give somebody food poisoning.
            There was coffee and orange juice, along with some water and a couple of tablets – Joshua assumed they’re acetaminophen or something. There were croissants and toast, scrambled eggs and bacon, fresh fruit and whipping cream. “There’s pancakes and waffles downstairs, and some sausage,” Marshy said, then turned a bit pink. “I, uh, didn’t know what you liked, so I kinda made everything.”
            Joshua relaxed into a smile. “You’re trying too hard,” he said. “Looks good.”
            “Uh,” Marshy said, and Joshua paused, glancing up at him. The younger man fidgeted for a moment, then leaned in and kissed him. Hard.
            Joshua broke the kiss. “Don’t I get a chance to eat?” he asked. “I’m starved, Marshall.”
            “Marshy,” Marshy said, but peeled back. Joshua proceeded to cut open one of the croissants.
            “Please don’t watch me, you’re giving me a complex.”
            “But I want to watch you.”
            “I’m gonna get self-conscious, and then I’m not gonna eat, and then I’m gonna pass out.”
            “Really?” Marshy asked, eyes widening a bit.
            “Not in the slighest.” Joshua replied, then shoved a hunk of the pastry into his mouth. “Oh, ew, is this margarine?”
            “Uh, yeah,” Marshy replied.
            Joshua grimaced. He swallowed though. “And I suppose the cream is actually Cool Whip?”
            Marshy shook his head. “You’re a bit of a jerk.”
            “Farm boy,” Joshua replied. “Fuck margarine. Nothing but freakin’ chemicals.”
            “Well, to be perfectly honest, I’d rather fuck you, but –”
            “Don’t be literal. Bacon’s good though.”
            Marshy shook his head. Joshua poked at the eggs. “Real eggs, yolk and all?”
            “Uh, yeah?”
            “Good.” He wolfed them down, then downed the coffee. Marshy looked a little concerned.
            “You were really hungry, huh?”
            “You try playing a hockey game, then getting kidnapped, then fucked. Kinda works up an appetite.”
            “I noticed,” Marshy replied drily. “I got to eat, though.”
            Joshua moved onto the fruit. Mmm, strawberries and cream. He loved strawberries, especially fresh in the summertime.
            Oh god, yes, no hockey. He could actually eat again. Not that he was ever terribly concerned about following his diet, but one had to make a show of it during the season, when the trainers got after you. Off-season was a lot more slack.
            Marshy drummed his fingers on his thigh. “Are you done acting like a starved wolf yet?”
            “No, I’m savoring this.” He popped another strawberry into his mouth, then licked cream away from the corners of his mouth.
            “You’re a fucking tease,” Marshy said. “All right, enough.”
            “Enough what? Who said I was going to let you do anything more to me? You had your way with me, now I get breakfast, a limo ride to the airport, and a first-class flight home.”
            “What if I wanna give you something else?”
            Joshua scoffed. “Like what?”
            “Like another orgasm.”
            Joshua blinked. “Well,” he said slowly. “That … would be hard to refuse.” He swallowed nervously. Had he really just agreed to that?
            Marshy moved the tray aside, then tossed the sheets aside. “Just lay back for me.”
            “Oh, what? Lie back and think of England?”
            “New England, if you want.”
            Joshua snorted, but laid himself out on his back, spreading his legs. Marshy nudged at his knees, resting them over his shoulders. He wrapped a hand around Joshua’s cock and started jerking. “I’m actually surprised you didn’t wake up with morning wood,” Marshy informed him.
            “I’m past thirty,” Joshua retorted. “’m a bit lazy now. No point in getting up early.”
            Marshy laughed. “You ever had it not get up?” he asked, and he seemed genuinely curious.
            “Oh god, that was a fucking nightmare. Don’t remind me.”
            “Why not – oh.” Marshy spat into his hand and stroked him faster.
            “Decidedly not a turn-on,” Joshua muttered.
            “Well, think about something sexy then.”
            “Why don’t you just do something sexy?”
            So Marshy did. Marshy went down on him, took him in one deft swallow. Joshua clutched at the younger man’s hair. “Whoa, okay! I’m up now, I’m up.”
            “Mmhmmphf,” said Marshy, and Joshua’s hips jerked involuntarily. Marshy pulled off, coughing.
            “Don’t fucking choke me.”
            “I don’t get deep-throated like that often. You’ve had a lot of practice, eh?”
            “Oh, fuck you,” Marshy grunted, then went back down on him, sucking him down slower this time.
            “Hm, yeah,” Joshua breathed, shutting his eyes. “No teeth, I’m not into that.”
            Marshy hummed in response and Joshua groaned. “Yeah, you’re fucking good at that, you’ve fucking been around the block, haven’t you? Filthy, you’re absolutely filthy –”
            He curled a hand in Marshy’s locks and pulled. Marshy bobbed his head in response. “Such a good boy,” he murmured, and then Marshy slipped a finger into him, glanced up at him and his lips pulled taut about Joshua’s cock, turning up in a smirk.
            “Fuck. You,” Joshua ground out, thrusting into Marshy’s stupid mouth. He deserved it after that.
            Marshy pushed a second finger into him and started scissoring them. Joshua winced. “Ah – Marshy –”
            He was sore. Sore like he’d been lifting weights or doing too many lunges or something, that kind of dull muscle ache when you’d pushed it too far.
            Marshy curled his fingers and that went away. Joshua arched up. “Fuck, yes.”
            Marshy sucked on him harder and wriggled a third finger inside. His fingertips pressed up against that spot and it felt. So. Good. Joshua wondered why he’d never knew about that spot before.
            Marshy palmed his balls, then pushed up against his taint. “Oh fuck,” was all Joshua could manage, and Marshy started pounding on that spot from both sides in undulating rhythm, and Joshua was pretty sure he short-circuited – he came about five seconds later, and he didn’t remember a goddamn thing except that he felt fucking fantastic, and when he came to, Marshy was still finger-fucking him and he was making these horrible throaty mewling sounds.
            Marshy pulled off him with a pop, then pulled his fingers out. Joshua felt a bit boneless, flopped on the bed like he was made of rubber.
            Marshy wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve. “Good?” he asked.
            “Huh,” Joshua said by way of reply, because he couldn’t think of words.
*
They showered after that. Joshua took the time to consider how much shorter Marshy is. How much … smaller, all the way around. Marshy seemed to be sizing him up too, and Joshua was not too concerned, because he’s taller and heavier. He could take Marshy in a fight.
            What he was concerned about was the fact he practically had to limp out of the shower stall. And the fact he had no clean clothes and nothing of Marshy’s would fit him, clearly.
            “Y’know,” Marshy said, watching him, “if it hurts, you could just take one of the pills I gave you –”
            Joshua shook his head. “I, uh, kinda try not to take stuff like that.”
            Marshy quirked an eyebrow. “Oh? How do you deal with all the bumps and bruises?”
            Joshua shrugged. “Work through it. Ice. There’s creams and stuff, I try to use that – why am I discussing this with you?”
            “Because you’re in pain and you look like a twit limping down my hall like that.”
            Joshua threw his towel at him, then flopped down on the bed. He didn’t care if the sheets were filthy. He hurt and it was lovely to lie down. “I don’t take pills,” he said.
            “But why not?” Marshy asked, pulling a clean shirt over his head. “They’re so easy –”
            He paused. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
            Marshy frowned. “But –”
            “Look, I had a rough season. Broken arm, concussion – last spring I had the separated shoulder. And … well.”
            Marshy nodded. “You’re just barely clean, huh?”
            Joshua ran a hand down his face.
            Marshy leaned over him, then leaned down and kissed him. Gently this time. He pulled back very slowly, lingering. “Let’s talk about something else,” he said.
            “Okay,” Joshua said. “What do you want to talk about?”
            “I want to see you again,” Marshy said, then kissed him again, as though to drive his point home. “Like this. Naked. In my bed.”
            The flush crept into his cheeks, and Joshua wished he were more tanned so he didn’t look like a bloody prairie fire. Marshy didn’t seem to mind, though, traced his fingers across his cheek. “Is that okay?” he asked. His confidence had evaporated. “Can we do that?”
            Joshua took a deep breath. “Yeah,” he said, “I guess we could.”
            Marshy kissed his cheek. “It doesn’t feel like a one-night stand,” he murmured. “Not to me, at least.”
            Joshua stared at the ceiling. It didn’t exactly feel like a one-night stand to him either, but he wasn’t about to push Marshy for anything. This had been more than he’d asked for in the the first place. “I have only one request,” he said.
            “What’s that?” Marshy asked.
            “Next time we have a game,” he said slowly, “can you please keep your hands to yourself?”
            Marshy laughed, pressed his face against Joshua’s collarbone. It felt pretty natural to just rest his hand on Marshy’s head, lightly, fingers threaded through his short, dark hair. “Fine,” Marshy chuckled, “no butt-touching on the ice. I promise.”
            “Good.”
            “Just so long as I get to touch it off the ice.”
            “Marshy, you have yourself a deal.”

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