Chapter 36: Hot Gossip [Slapshot!]
Gabe’s gaze was heavy, lidded, and fixed on Ty as he curled up in the armchair; Ty had his full attention. With that knowledge in hand, he dug his heels a little deeper into the arm of the sofa, giving himself more leverage. He slid his index in deeper, pressed his middle finger up against his hole, working himself open around the added girth.
Gabe didn’t even blink. Ty turned his head a little, pressed his fingers in deep. He let his eyes flutter shut as he he focused on himself, his own pleasure. He wrapped his free hand around his cock, stroking himself lazily.
A glance back at Gabe told him he didn’t want to get too enthusiastic too soon. It was going to be a long night.
He slid his fingers in again, exhaling as he did so. He scissored the digits, pressing flesh away, opening himself wider. He shivered.
“Tell me,” Gabe ordered, his voice rolling over the syllables, “do you like this?”
“Yes,” Ty breathed, clutched his cock a little harder.
“Do you do this often?”
“All the time.”
“How does it feel?”
“So good,” he groaned, lifting his hips, rolling into sensation. And it was true. Pleasure thrummed through his veins, flighty and fleeting, but he let it shudder through him while it was there.
“What do you think about?”
He let his mouth fall open, panting a little before he answered that. He opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. “You,” he managed at last, his voice hoarse, crackling over the word, “I think about you.”
Gabe had himself in hand, was jerking himself too when Ty looked at him. He focused on that, watched the smooth motion of his hand along the length of his cock, now slowly working itself back to full flag.
“What do you think about me?” the redhead whispered.
Ty shoved his fingers in a little harder than he had to, opened them wide. He bit his lip. “Unf, uh, I think … about you. About your fingers, you have such big hands, so rough—I think about you fucking me with those fingers, one, then another one, then another, until …”
He inhaled sharply, but his voice was still trembling. “Until you’ve got your whole hand in me, fuck me with your fist–”
Gabe’s face was scarlet; he’d bitten his lip so hard there was blood. His hand flew over his cock, and Ty lifted his hips, squeezed himself harder. “I think about it, imagine it’s your hands, your fingers in me when I finger myself, when I fuck myself–”
“Yes,” Gabe breathed.
“And,” he panted, “I think about your dick, think about you fucking me with your dick, getting on top of me, putting it in me, and fucking me so hard–”
“Yes,” Gabe breathed again, his voice a little higher, a little tighter, “do you want it?”
“So bad,” Ty groaned, “so bad, Gabe, stick your cock in me, fuck me over the back of the couch–”
“You’re awful,” Gabe groaned, but he crawled onto the sofa beside him, straddled him. “Or?”
Ty grabbed the redhead’s prick, gave him a friendly squeeze. “You could,” he said, “if you want it.”
“Mmhmm,” Gabe replied, leaning down and nipping his neck, “’cause I think about you too, think about your cock in me …”
Ty pulled his fingers out. “Whatever you want,” he panted, pressing up against Gabe. “We’re ready, either way …”
Gabe kissed him again, nipped at his lips before pulling back. “Okay,” he said and pressed on Ty’s thighs.
Ty spread his legs easily; he was halfway there already. Gabe slid between his parted legs, lined them up.
“You are good?” he asked, hesitating at the last possible second.
Ty nodded, wriggled a little lower and pressed back against him. Gabe pushed in, and Ty bit the inside of his cheek. Sometimes, it felt like no matter how much prep they did, he wouldn’t be ready for that.
Gabe dropped his head against his shoulder, and Ty lifted his legs a little higher, wrapped them around the redhead’s waist to give himself some more leverage. He liked leverage. He liked it deep and hard, liked it rough and almost dry. He knew it drove Gabe mad, but he loved that edge between pleasure and pain.
“C’mon,” he whispered, “take me. Fuck me, Gabe–”
“Yes,” Gabe breathed in return, pushed deep into him, his strokes slow to start.
“C’mon,” Ty repeated, rolling his hips into the action. He wasn’t the most patient of lovers; Gabe had made sure he knew that.
Not that Gabe minded always. He growled low in his throat; his hands curled into the cushions, and Ty grinned at him, squeezed his legs a little harder, dragging him in deeper.
“Fuck me,” he said, “put your back into it, c’mon–”
“Mouthy,” Gabe admonished, offering up his hand, and Ty sucked on his fingers enthusiastically, biting at them. “I’ll fuck you, don’t you worry–”
“Harder,” he said, then sucked on those fingers again, groaned around them. He pulled away, letting his head loll back. “Harder, please–”
Gabe’s thrusting became a little more punctuated, a swift motion in as deep as he could, then a slow slide back to the tip, before slamming in again. Ty lifted his hips. “Yeah,” he groaned, “yeah, like that, please–”
“You are so loud,” Gabe breathed, pushed at the backs of his thighs. Ty unwound, allowed Gabe to slide his shoulders under his knees, tilting him up so he could get deeper.
“Yeah!” he cried, unable to help himself when the redhead started pumping in deeper. “Oh, fuck, yes–”
“So loud,” Gabe murmured.
“You love it,” Ty spat, then groaned, tensing, trying to hold onto the fleeting sensation of pleasure as it slipped through him, a kinetic wave rolling through him, then dissipating. Then another wave, and gradually, the waves started breaking together, one rolling into the next, and he let his head roll from side to side, groaned loud and long every time Gabe thrust in, and then he grabbed himself, choked himself and jerked himself to completion, coming all over himself, groaning low as he did so, relief flooding through him, taking him under.
Gabe’s voice swam through his ears, a sharp “fuck,” but it sounded surreal, like a dream, some far-away thought—
Gabe shuddered and huffed, then slid out of him, groaning. He slumped forward, collapsing on top of him. Ty let his feet drift back to the cushions, wiggled his toes. He closed his eyes.
They laid there panting, slick and sticky, and Ty felt tension leaving him, draining out of him as his body went slack. He closed his eyes, concentrated on getting his breath back.
Gabe pushed up to his hands and knees. “Bedtime?” he asked, and Ty was tempted, so tempted. The idea of just crawling upstairs to bed, spending the night tangled in the sheets with Gabe (maybe waking up through the night, maybe waking up with morning wood and a lazy fuck) was delectable.
But he couldn’t. They had a game tomorrow. He’d have morning skate. He’d told Dima he’d be back, that he was just visiting friends. He’d miss team breakfast, maybe skate—and he certainly wouldn’t get a good night’s sleep if he stayed. And besides, it would raise too many questions.
He pushed Gabe away as he sat up, shaking his head. “I’ll grab a shower,” he said, “but I gotta get back …”
Gabe sighed, but nodded. “Yes,” he said, “that is a good idea.”
He gave Ty towels and directed him to the washroom; there was no suggestion of joining in, no offer on Ty’s part. It was on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t. He needed to shower, get back to the hotel.
So that was what he did. He left Gabe’s with his hair still wet, hoping it would dry before he got across town in the Uber. He hoped the driver wouldn’t ask any questions, wouldn’t recognize him, wouldn’t tell anyone.
He crept back into the room around one-thirty in the morning. The television was still on, but Dima was passed out, face down in his pillows. Ty sighed in relief, then shimmied out of his clothes, into his sleepwear. Then he crawled under the sheets, settled down to get some shut-eye.
“A friend, huh?”
He froze, his eyes popping open. His back was to Dima, something he was thankful for.
“Not my business,” Dima said before he could say anything more, “but come back early or do not come back at all, hm? I do not like being woke.”
Ty forced himself to exhale. “Right,” he said, “sorry.”
“Hm,” Dima said, and then the rustling sheets indicated he was rolling over. Ty closed his eyes again, and tried to convince himself that it was okay to breathe easy.
The energy in the room was nervous, almost toxic. Luke glanced about furtively, trying to single out who was responsible for the vibe, but the more he looked around, the more it seemed that just about everyone was on edge.
Brenden was worriedly watching Sebby. For his part, the other forward was leaning heavily on his hand, staring down at his plate, chasing food around with the fork. Beside him, Dima was prodding at his phone, his brow knitted together.
On the other side of the room, Sy was brooding next to Mike; even Mike’s exuberant storytelling wasn’t enough to offset their captain’s foul mood. A dark cloud seemed to hang over him, and Luke had no doubt that he was stewing about Luke’s own accusation. He wished he’d never said anything to the younger man. He had good reason to believe that Sy was bullshitting him, but …
It was really none of his business, at the end of the day.
Ty was sitting with them, rubbing at his eyes, stifling yawns and, when he couldn’t hold them back any longer, covering his mouth with his hand. Luke hadn’t missed the way he’d practically limped into the room earlier—there were few doubts in his mind as to what the sophomore had gotten up to last night. He couldn’t believe it was Dima, though—but that was who Ty was rooming with, so maybe …
Perhaps worst of all was Danny. He’d been sullen and silent for a few days now, which really wasn’t a surprise. Danny was a reserved sort of fellow; he rarely spoke without good reason. But he was a voice they listened to in the locker room, and he’d been strangely absent during their last game and now through a few days of practice. Luke wondered if he’d had bad news about Matt—maybe the alpha had taken a turn for the worse.
They all knew Matt was pretty sick, but they hadn’t pried; none of them really felt it was their place to ask for details, especially if Danny didn’t want to share them.
Nonetheless, the aura boded ill for the game later. Normally, they were tense right before a high-stakes game. And sure, they could see this as high-stakes, but it wasn’t really—a playoff rematch, sure, but a regular season game nonetheless.
The strange energy stayed with them through morning skate. Even Q seemed to sense it, scaling back his normal acerbic criticisms, which, in turn, fueled their sense that something was off, that something was wrong.
Luke tried to think about being positive, upbeat. Everyone clearly had their worries, their concerns, but they needed to get outside of their own heads, get their heads in the game they needed to play. They couldn’t be bogged down with petty concerns if they wanted to play. And if their concerns seemed overwhelming, then focusing on the game could be one way to crawl out from under them.
Luke wished later that he could follow his own stupid advice.
He knew his day was about to get worse when Sean met him at the locker room door, one hand in the pocket of his slacks, the other gesturing for him to follow. Luke swallowed down bile, disappointment, but he knew the energy in the room altered with his own falling mood. He’d been trying to avoid it, but now he too was a victim of the melancholia that seemed to have a chokehold on the team.
He followed Sean to the team’s temporary office space in the Garden. It was where visitors were allowed to set up any sort of management function they might need. Sean held the door for him, gestured him into the tiny, overcrowded room. There was no light, except for one barren bulb burning down on the desk, which was scattered with papers and pens. Luke plonked down in the wobbling office chair on the near side of the desk. Sean let the door bang shut.
“So,” he said, shuffling around the desk; it was a tight fit. There wasn’t much space to maneuver—the room had likely been a janitorial closet in some previous iteration of the Garden.
Luke was silent. He gripped the chair a little tighter.
Sean took his seat, glanced at Luke. He grabbed up some papers, shuffled them. “I heard from the lawyer this morning,” he said.
Luke pinched the bridge of his nose, groaning inwardly. Just what he didn’t want to talk about. The trial.
“You’ll need to put together your statement shortly.”
Luke sighed heavily. “I’ve already told you, Sean, I’m not submitting a victim impact statement.”
“And I’ve told you that yes, you are. You pretty much have to. If you don’t, we really don’t have a case–”
“I don’t care, Sean. Drop the charges. Let this go away. What are we gonna get out of this, really? So Jake goes to jail for a bit. So what? I get outed to the entire world as an omega—an omega that’s been raped, and we know how that goes.”
He paused, considering. “I don’t want to, Sean. I just … want to focus on my life. On my job. On playing hockey.”
“No, really. Is that so wrong? I don’t want to keep going through this, the he-said, I-said, who did what bullshit. I want it to just … go away.”
Sean studied him, his lips pressed together in a thin line, his eyes cold. “Do you really think,” he said slowly, “that it will just ‘go away’?”
Luke snorted. “Of course not,” he spat. “I’m not stupid—I can’t pretend it never happened. But I don’t see how being forced to rehash, rethink every single thing that happened that night will help me move on.”
He slumped a little lower in the chair. “And I’m thinking long-term, Sean—they’re not gonna let it die. Once the media gets hold of it … You think they’ll let it lie? Years from now, I’m still gonna be …”
He fell silent, just watching Sean, trying to read his expression, those cold irises.
“Do you get it?” he asked. “So I’m not submitting a statement. I’m not testifying. Drop the charges, put this whole stupid thing to bed.”
Sean looked at him—really looked at him—then glanced down again. He shuffled some more papers. He sucked on his teeth, lifted his gaze a couple more times.
Finally, he said, “Mason should be getting his affidavit. If you don’t submit a statement, I think he might—how this affected him as your alpha.”
“What?” Luke spluttered. “You’re asking Mason to–”
“To testify, yes.”
Luke frowned. “But … that would …”
“Clue them in that you’ve been fucking someone else in the last six months, yes.”
“That’s a terrible idea, I thought the whole point was–”
“—to demonstrate you’re not that kind of omega, you’re right. And you’re not.”
Luke stared at him, uncomprehending. For the last six months, Sean had been his legal alpha, in an effort to convince the powers that were that Luke wasn’t just a loose omega who would spread his legs for anyone. If they let Mason make a statement, that essentially tossed all that effort out the window.
“You’re mated,” Sean said. “You were mated to Mason at the time. He’s allowed to submit a statement, to testify—how Jake’s behavior impacted on him, as the alpha of the victim omega.”
Luke tightened his jaw.
“And, y’know, the courts take that pretty seriously. They treat mated omegas much differently, and an alpha’s right carries more weight under the law, so if Mason says …”
Luke gritted his teeth, growled, “So what the fuck was the point of you being my legal alpha for the last six months then?”
He stared at him for a long while, realization slowly breaking over him, and he fought it because he didn’t want that understanding, didn’t want the knowledge.
But Sean grinned at him, his expression growing broader with every passing second, and Luke gritted his teeth, spat, “You dick,” because it was just so Sean to pull something like this, the conniving bastard.
He took another breath, then got to his feet, storming out of the room, slamming the door behind him, listening to his fury reverberate through the frame as it rattled, through his pounding footsteps on the cement floor, his shoes squeaking like timid mice.
Sy didn’t like the question Luke had posed to him the night before. It rattled about in his head, urging him to inquire with his teammates, to shake them down for loose information about who was spreading rumors about him. About who was talking.
About who knew he was technically mated to Aleksandr Volkov.
It was an embarrassing secret that Sy went to great lengths to hide—most of the time. The only time he was careless was when Aleks was around. And even then, they were both cautious about it.
But it could have gotten out—so easily, now that Sy thought about it. All it took was one simple slip up, one wrong word, one wrong move in a crowded space, in the wrong venue, before the wrong person …
He had no idea who was saying what and if they had any inkling of it was true or not, or if it was just a rumor—like so many others—that had linked him to this person, that person, over the years.
He’d had nightmares about it before—the worst possible scenario he could imagine was almost exactly what had happened last night when Luke asked him about it. He’d been waiting for the other player to whip out his phone, say nonchalantly, “Well, that’s not what TMZ is reporting,” and then show him a long line of Chatter news posts with him and Aleks plastered on them, headlines about their sordid, secret love affair for all and sundry to see.
Sy didn’t have Chatter for a reason. He stayed off social media as much as possible—partially because he had better things to do (training, for one), and partially because he never wanted to give himself the opportunity to slip up.
Other people were perfectly capable of slipping up for him, though.
Thankfully, Luke hadn’t done that; he’d just dropped the subject, but the fact remained that he’d asked, that he said he’d heard it through the grapevine, and that meant someone, somewhere was talking some shit.
And Sy needed to stop it, put an end to it.
People talked about teenage girls being gossip-mongers, bitched about the tabloids. They’d evidently never entered a locker room in their lives. So much gossip went on—most of it shit talking about guys on other teams, rarely about your own teammates, but the fact remained.
He wondered if someone had seen, if someone had heard. Maybe somebody in Pittsburgh was talking.
Brenden skated up beside him, snow flying from his skates. Sy glowered at him, leaned into his stick a little more. Brenden tipped one foot up, then the other, shifting his weight side to side.
“Yes?” Sy asked finally, Brenden’s mere presence annoying him. It seemed like the big d-man wanted something, but Sy wasn’t a mind reader.
“Can I talk to you about something?” Brenden asked, his gaze flicking down to meet Sy’s.
“Sure,” Sy replied cautiously, hoping this wasn’t another set of inquiries about his supposed relationship to Aleks Volkov. He’d had enough of his teammates questioning that for the rest of his life.
“After the game,” Brenden said, catching his eye again. “I think that’s better.”
“Okay,” Sy said, his patience wearing thin, even as Brenden smiled and skated off again.
Sy inhaled through his nose and waited for the buzzer. It went as his skates hit the edge of the ice and he stepped off, down the tunnel first.
He hated that Brenden had dropped that on him prior to sixty minutes of grinding hockey against the Bears. He was already shaken by Luke, and now he had to play sixty minutes against one of the toughest teams in the East with the threat of Brenden potentially asking him about the same thing, pointing to a much worse rumor-mill situation than Sy had been anticipating …
He glowered at the back of Brenden’s head when they headed back down the tunnel to start the first period.
Luckily for him, he was the kind of guy who could shake off whatever was bothering him when he got into a game. In these sixty minutes, from the drop of the puck in the first to the dying cries of the buzzer to end the third, was about the game. Everything else could fall away; there was nothing outside the arena, nothing more than hockey. For the next sixty minutes, life narrowed to the mere task of chasing the biscuit up and down the ice.
That didn’t mean he didn’t notice things, of course. Big Zee greeted him with a respectful nod and a tap to the stick—a subtle welcome-back to a respected competitor, a fellow captain. He didn’t miss the way Ty physically recoiled from the oversized defenseman. He didn’t miss Gabe’s hooded look, flicked in Ty’s direction; didn’t miss the way Ty turned a little red in the face; didn’t miss the way Ryan Ward frowned. He didn’t miss the way Shawzy crowded up into Ty’s space, his grin all teeth, like a wolf.
He did miss the puck when it hopped over his stick, slid between his legs, and Gabe poked it away from him, plucked it up and skated back the other way with it. He did miss Ryan Ward keeping pace with them, just a few strides behind—missed Gabe’s subtle glance back over his shoulder before the drop-pass, and then, the puck ringing off the crossbar.
Sy skated to the bench, doused himself in Energaid. Maybe he wasn’t quite as with it as he thought he was.
But if he was out of it, so was the rest of the team. Sebby’s footwork was still sloppy, his passes still unfocused. Brenden’s brow was knitted not with concentration, but with concern. He glanced at Ty, who was peering through the glass, rocking back and forth to see around the stanchion. Sy elbowed him. “Stoppit,” he huffed, “you’re gonna start a riot.”
Ty straightened, then slouched forward. “Sorry,” he muttered.
“Who are you looking at anyway?”
“N-nobody,” Ty replied, then glowered at the ice. Sy rolled his eyes, then shuffled down the bench as the next line hopped over the boards.
“Oy!” Sy called, leaning over. “Macks! Make sure you win the face off, yeah? Gotta a keep an eye out for the little puke–”
“Yeah, yeah,” Luke spat back, waving a hand. He grabbed his glove before it dropped, then plonked down on the bench and grabbed a towel from one of the trainers. He wiped his visor. “They’re trying t’ play the trap–”
“Line-matching,” Sy retorted, “you know McTavish is the worst for it.”
He was back over the boards a moment later, skating to the face-off to the right of Timmo. He won it clean, passed it back to Mike, who rifled it off the boards, out of their zone. One of the Bears picked it back up, skated back in with it. A whistle went—offside.
They went back to the offensive zone, between the hash marks. Sy took this match too—he was on tonight for face-offs. When he was, his record was one of the best in the league.
He shot the puck to Nicky, who skated around the back of the net with it, then passed it off to Ty, who broke for the net.
It was a neat, clean play—the kind of thing that went on highlights reels, and they crowded around Sy as the siren screamed about the goal, clapping him on the head. They skated to the bench, where fistbumps and swats to the ass greeted them.
The Bears came back with a vengeance, smashing them into the boards, tripping them up. They tallied their first at 15:42 in the first period.
The next five minutes were scrappy, filled with hits and offsides, icing calls and more face-offs. There were no penalties, though, and Sy picked himself up off the ice after being dumped on his bucket, the tell-tale ache starting already. He knew exactly what kind of game they were going to play.
The horn went, ending the first. They trundled down the tunnel, already sore, already angry. The game was tied; they had to keep their heads on.
Both teams came out hitting; Brenden laid Shawzy out fifteen seconds into the period, an awkward hit that saw the smaller Bears forward hit his head off the boards as he went down. He laid there on the ice for a moment, his arms curled around his head, until one of the linesmen helped him up. He didn’t leave the bench, though.
Twenty-two seconds later, Gabe took Ty’s skates out from under him, letting the sophomore tumble head over feet near center ice, smashing his face off the slushy surface. There was blood in the snow, dripping across the Bears’ logo painted at center ice.
Sy watched Mike deliver a hit to Big Zee; the blond merely bounced off the guy like a fly. Mike seemed a little dazed after that, but Zdeno was completely unfazed. He was like a rock—unmovable.
He laid Nicky out flat a moment or two later and finally, finally someone called a penalty. Sy almost sighed in relief; the Stars went to their first power-play of the game with the Bears’ captain in the box.
They didn’t score, though; the Bears played a tight penalty kill, taking away all avenues, blocking shot after shot, forcing Sy to pass to Brenden, who passed back to Sy on the point, who dished to Luke, who passed to Brenden, who then walked the line, allowing him and Sy to shift positions.
All for naught, because Sy got the puck on his tape, then slapped it straight into Gabe’s shin. The other forward went down, gritting his teeth, then had to limp over to the bench when the linesman whistled down play; the Bears’ goalie had covered up the puck and stopped play.
Ty drifted near the opposition bench, concern clear on his face as he watched the trainers tending to Gabe, whose face was contorted in pain. Finally, he shook his head, got to his feet and hurried off down the tunnel, followed by the trainer.
Sy glanced at Luke, who shrugged. Sy heaved a breath and drifted to the dot to take the face-off.
Second verse, same as the first—they couldn’t get a clean shot at the net, the Bears collapsing back toward it. The seconds ticked down and the powerplay was over; the Bears had effectively killed it. Zee stepped back onto the ice, and the first thing he did was run Sy over. One moment, Sy’s world was quite normal; the next his feet were in the air, his head careening toward the ice.
He smashed his nose off the ice, stared at it for a second, then pushed up to his knees, scrambled to his feet. He had no time to lie around. He made a mad dash for the other end of the ice, heard Mike’s voice echoing as he barked orders at Brenden to cover his man.
The buzzer sounded loud and angry. Sy’s head pounded, even as he drifted back toward the bench. Q shook his head, gestured toward center ice. Sy nodded, skated back toward the circle. He looked up at the clock—another two minutes left in the period.
He won the face-off to give them puck possession. He fired it into the Bears’ zone, then peeled off to the bench. Luke, Sebby, and Danny were already over the boards, chasing the puck deep into Bears’ territory.
“You okay?” Leo asked Sy, and he nodded.
Ty shivered beside him. Nicky shook his head. “He is so dangerous,” the Swede said, glanced at Ty, who nodded.
“Well,” Sy said, “I’m okay. We still got twenty minutes to play, we’re only one goal away–”
Ty rolled his eyes. “Thank you, Captain,” Nicky said, deadpanning at him.
Sy curled his upper lip in response.
They played scrappy and scrambly in front of the Bears’ net, but to no avail. They couldn’t find it in them as the clock ticked down those last few seconds. The horn sounded, and the crowd cheered. They started filtering off the bench, back down the tunnel. One more period, one more period.
They emerged in the locker room, the usual murmur of conversation bubbling up, growing louder as they chirped each other. Sy relaxed fractionally. At least things were starting to turn around.
There was a crash, and the entire room seemed to pause, turning to the source of the disturbance. Sebby glanced up at them guiltily. His phone was lying on the ground.
“I, uh, gotta go,” he all but squeaked.