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They’re going on a road-trip.

 

Neither of them even want to, and it wasn’t their idea—and the heat in Tango’s car doesn’t work but it was the only car at the Haus and they’ve got no fucking choice if they want to play in the game this weekend. And as much as he’s really dreading this whole entire thing, Dex has to play in the game this weekend.

 

They have got to beat the ever-living shit out of UPenn, and Dex has to be a part of it so that his stupid asshole brother can’t make anymore snide remarks about how UPenn will always be the greatest school in the world.

 

So even though he’s not entirely sure that he and Derek fucking Nurse are going to survive being alone in the same car for nearly five hours, they’re fucking going on this road-trip.

 

They sit together on roadies, Dex reasons. It can’t really be that different. Except for that on roadies, Bitty sits in front of them and turns to glare sternly at them if they start arguing, and Dex can always avoid a conversation by putting in his headphones and pretending to fall asleep. That’s not an option here.

 

“We could have just, like, bought plane tickets and then acted like we drove down there,” Nursey grumbles, mostly under his breath. He fiddles angrily with the heat dial like that will magically make it work.

 

“I can’t afford a plane ticket,” Dex snaps. He doesn’t smack down Nursey’s hand, though, which he thinks is very commendable. “It’s only four and a half hours. You’re fine.”

 

“I’m cold.”

 

“You should have brought a hoodie.”

 

Nursey scoffs. “Do you practice sounding so condescending, bro? You’re getting scary good at it. I have a hoodie, chill, it’s just in the back and I don’t want to get it right now.”

 

Dex sighs, and stares out the windshield as he drives, and decides he hates approximately everything about his life and his coaches right now.

 

 


 

 

The thing is, the coaches are pissed at them. Rightfully so—Nurse knows Dex has a short fuse and knows all the ways to blow it. He’s pretty sure Nursey has the capability to be so annoying it could break records. But the coaches are righteously mad at them and Dex is seriously starting to regret picking that last fight at practice three days ago.

 

He doesn’t even remember what they’d been arguing about.

 

“That’s it!” Coach Hall had shouted. He caught both Dex and Nursey by the back of their jerseys and practically threw them both against the boards. “God help you two, what the hell is the matter with you? You’re teammates and you’re our line of defense! How do you expect to protect your goalie when you can’t go eight seconds without screaming at one another?!”’

 

Coach Hall had then said that the next course of action was pretty clear, apparently. Their next big game was against the University of Pennsylvania over the weekend. The rest of the team would be riding the bus out there—Will and Derek would not be joining them.

 

It ignited lots of arguing and begging from both Dex and Nursey, which Coach Hall had purposefully ignored. He’d made up his mind.

 

“I have a car,” Tango had so helpfully provided. Coach Hall had looked like he might pass out with glee.

 

So they’re taking Tango’s beat up, hand-me-down, no-heat car to UPenn. They’ve got four and a half hours to fix their shit or they’re done for the season.

 

 


 

 

 

“Stop fucking changing the music!”

“I can’t help it, what the hell are we listening to?!”

 

 


 

 

It only takes them forty-five minutes to start arguing.

 

“I’m not saying that it’s a waste, I’m genuinely asking what the hell you can do with an English degree!” Dex grits out. “God, just—like, that’s great if that’s what you’re good at, but how is it practical? What’s your plan for life after college?”

 

Nursey scoffs. “Why does everything have to be practical to you? An English degree opens a lot of doors, you know. Not all of us want to go to school just to go into a field that’s boring as all hell but reliable.”

 

“Some of us want to actually have a direction in life,” Dex bristles.

 

“Oh, because there’s so much room for moving up and expanding your mind in the extravagant world of coding.”

 

“Nurse, just because you were born in a bathtub made of gold, doesn’t mean the rest of us were. We don’t all have a nice little cushion to fall back on if our degree doesn’t start making us money right away.”

 

“I don’t have a cushion, you ass—wait, what do you mean, born in a bathtub? Were you born in a bathtub?”

 

Dex blinks. “As opposed to…”

 

“A fucking hospital, what do you mean—”

 

And to Dex’s utter and complete shock, Nursey actually stops talking. Dex glances over. Nursey is looking at the window, hard, and taking deep breaths. Normally, this sight sets Dex even more on edge. He kind of loathes the way Nursey can just be so—for lack of a better word—chill about everything.

 

Then Nursey says, “There are a lot of options for people with English degrees after college. It depends on what you like. And it can be practical, if you play your cards right. And—for what it’s worth—I do have a plan for my life after college.”

 

“Oh.”

 

His throat feels tight for some reason he can’t quite place. Honestly, at this point, he’s not sure he wants to put a name to it. He thinks it might have something to do with the way Nursey looks when he’s not glaring at Dex. “Can I… Will you tell me what that is?”

 

Nursey rolls his eyes. “Why, so you can make fun of me again?”

 

“No,” Dex says earnestly, and he’s kind of surprised to realize it. “I really want to know.”

 

It falls silent between them. Dex isn’t really surprised. He wonders if he even really thought that Nursey would answer. All they’ve done is fight up until this point. The rare moments between them when they aren’t down each other’s throats are so scarce, Dex can count them on his fingertips. And he’d never admit it, but those few times scare the shit out of him.

 

When he’s not fighting with Nursey, what’s going to keep him from saying something he’ll really regret?

 

“There’s a tentative offer to publish me once I graduate college,” Nursey admits. He’s whispering, like he can hardly believe the words are true. “It can’t be my senior thesis, it has to be something I write completely outside of that. I think it’s going to be a series of poems, because that’s what… That’s what I’ve been writing, for the past few months.”

 

Dex can’t even think of a biting remark to save his life. He doesn’t even want to. He’s shocked, except he isn’t really, because what can’t Derek Nurse do? He’s spent a long time underestimating just how amazing Nursey actually is.

 

“Derek, that’s… that’s something amazing.”

 

Dex has never seen Nursey blush before, but he has the fleeting thought that it’s something he could get used to.

 

“I’m serious,” he continues, because he can, and because he thinks Nursey deserves it. “You should be really proud of that. So that’s… what you want to do? With your life, I mean? Be a super famous writer and shit?”

 

Nursey barks out a laugh. “Maybe you should be the poet. ‘Super famous writer and shit.’ I mean, god, Dex.”

 

“Hey, I’m out of my league here!” Dex shoots back.

 

“Obviously!” Then Nursey actually laughs. Dex is kind of really into that sound. Then he’s kind of freaked out about the fact that he’s into that sound. “But… yeah. I guess that is what I want to do. I think I’m pretty good at it.”

 

Dex grins. “Let me read your stuff, you know I’ll be honest with you.”

 

Hell no.”

 

“Why not?!”

 

“Because you’re a major ass!” Nursey retorts, but he’s laughing as he says it. Dex doesn’t think there’s actually any heat behind it. It’s a weird sensation. It makes Dex’s stomach twist and turn and makes warmth coil in his gut. “Seriously. You can’t read it.”

 

Derek,” Dex whines. He’d maybe even bat his eyelashes, if he wasn’t trying really hard to keep his eyes on the road.

 

“No way,” Nursey says decisively. He crosses his arms. And Dex, for what it’s worth, he really tries to drop it. Tries to remind himself that not every battle has to be fought and that maybe this, whatever it is between them, is more important.

 

He really likes not fighting with Nursey. He’d never expected to think that.

 

Nursey says it quietly, relenting for whatever reason, and Dex hangs on to every word. “I would call it Hiraeth.”

 

Dex blinks. “What’s that mean?”

 

He’s almost positive he can feel Nursey’s eyes on him, but when Dex glances over, Nursey is looking steadfast out the windshield. “Homesickness pertaining to a home that never was.”

 

 


 

 

“Can you believe we had a civil conversation? Look at us.”

 

“Don’t fucking ruin it.”

 

 


 

 

They have to stop at a thrift store, because Derek Malik Nurse is the clumsiest fucking person on the planet and he spills his coffee all over Dex’s hoodie and t-shirt approximately three seconds after being handed the drink.

 

“God, Will, I’m so sorry, I swear to god— I really didn’t mean to, I’m sorry!”

 

Dex takes a deep breath. At least Nursey drinks iced coffee regardless of the weather, because Dex would be extra pissed if it was hot coffee soaking him right now.

 

Still. His hoodie was his only extra article of clothing besides his jersey. And he is not wearing his jersey, because he’s superstitious as fuck but also terrified of what Coach Hall would do to him if he found out. He’s also not going to risk it—especially with Nursey still in the car with him.

 

It’s been one hour and ten minutes, and they’re only in Cromwell, but Dex pulls into the nearest thrift store and Nursey finally pulls his own hoodie out of his bag and hands it to Dex to borrow while they’re shopping. He even kindly averts his eyes when Dex strips out of his ruined clothes.

 

Dex thinks he should feel weird wearing number 28 on his back.

 

He doesn’t.

 

He doesn’t feel weird about wearing Nurse’s name at all.

 

And honestly, he’s not quite sure how he feels about that.

 

Nursey keeps showing him the most god-awful shirts he can find, and Dex wants to be upset but he can’t stop laughing, and he didn’t even know that laughing was a thing he and Derek did now. His plan was to just go in there, grab the first decent shirt he could find, then immediately throw his clothes into the wash when they got to the hotel.

 

But this is… fun. And he kind of doesn’t want it to end.

 

“Shit, Nursey, I am not putting on a Hawaiian shirt, I have red hair, it would look awful on me!”

 

“Dexy, please, for me!”

 

The truth is, Dex is really good at shopping at thrift stores, and he doesn’t think Nursey has caught on to the fact that this used to be how Dex and his family had to shop for clothes. His throat is weirdly tight thinking about it. And not in the normal way, where he’s so defensive about his upbringing that he just wants to take a swing every time Nursey says something. This feels more like embarrassment. It’s pretty fucking clear that Nursey would never come here to buy anything, unless it was a joke.

 

He’s looking at a well-loved grey Coca-Cola shirt when it dawns on him, that Nursey doesn’t really get that, and that they come from totally different worlds. Dex wonders if he’s fooling himself just because he’s entertaining the thought that maybe he feels something for Derek. A guy like Derek Malik Nurse, wanting someone like Dex?

 

Maybe this whole road-trip is screwing with Will’s head more than Coach Hall thought it would.

 

“That’s a cool shirt,” Nursey comments. Dex is still running his fingers over the soft fabric. This shirt has obviously been worn a lot, well-loved. He wonders why it was donated. “Looks vintage.”

 

“I had one just like this when I was sixteen,” Dex admits.

 

“What, you finally hit your growth spurt and had to throw it away?” Nursey teases.

 

“No,” Dex says, slowly, levelly. He’s trying really hard to keep his calm because this—it’s personal. And he thinks that maybe he’s never really given Nursey a chance to get it. “Conor hit his growth spurt, and his shirts didn’t fit, and that one was a bit snug for me anyway, so Mom gave it to Conor and a few weeks later, my cousin Sean moved out to college and I got some more of his clothes.”

 

Nursey looks shocked. Dex can almost feel the sarcastic comment bobbling around in his mind about hand-me-downs and sharing and the inevitable must be a Weasley joke. He tenses up in anticipation of it, even comes up with a biting remark of his own, when Nursey says, “I didn’t even think about that. I’m sorry, Dex.”

 

And all the fight evaporates out of Dex like it was never in him at all. “Well, shit dude. I literally don’t even know what to say to that.”

 

Nursey grins, tentatively. “I can be serious, you know.”

 

Dex ducks his head. “Yeah, I’m starting to get almost too familiar with that,” he says, mostly under his breath, and Nursey huffs out a laugh when Dex smacks him with the nearest shirt he can find.

 

 


 

 

Dex buys the Coca-Cola shirt.

 

He doesn’t take off Nursey’s hoodie, though.

 

Nursey doesn’t seem to be complaining.

 

 


 

 

“Okay, so,” Derek starts, when they’ve been back on the road for seven minutes and thirty-two seconds. “I’m going to tell you something and you can’t laugh.”

 

“Nurse, all I ever do is laugh at you.”

 

“Fuck off. We’re being friendly now. I’m going to tell you something.”

 

Derek actually looks serious, so Dex gives him his full attention. It feels weird to be in the passenger seat, but Derek insisted he drive this next leg. Dex is trying his hardest not to use this as a time to stare longingly at Nurse’s profile.

 

He’s still trying to not be fucking freaked out that he wants to stare longingly at Nurse’s profile.

 

God, this road-trip is getting weirder and weirder.

 

“Tell me something,” Dex finally croaks out. Under his leg, his phone vibrates harshly with three texts back to back. He doesn’t even pull it out to check.

 

“I just wrote a poem.”

 

Dex still fucking laughs. “What, like right now? While you were supposed to be focusing on the road?”

 

“Shut up, I said don’t laugh! I was feeling inspired! Fuck off.”

 

Dex can’t stop grinning. “Well, let’s hear it.”

 

Derek actually looks appalled. “No fucking way.”

 

“Come on! You can’t tell me you wrote a poem if you’re not going to say it out loud to me! What are you, a coward?”

 

Derek glowers. Dex wants to hold his hand.

 

“You can’t laugh,” he says again, serious as ever.

 

Dex rolls his eyes.

 

Derek takes a deep breath, and when he starts to recite it, his voice sounds like it’s dripping with golden ichor.

 

“the night stretches into silence,

endlessly echoing, haunting, abandoned.

and it seems that i’m just an island—

hopeless, surrounded, then drowned in your affections.

 

the stars never burned for me anyway.

i’m just an island, and you

were the castaway.

 

i’m just an island and i cannot leave.

i gave you my love; you called it a breeze.

i sheltered and fed you and gave you a home

but this story is ancient, and we know how it goes.

 

the stars never shone on us anyway.

i’m just an island and i cannot leave—”

 

 

Something in the air seems different when Derek stops speaking. All of time stopped to hear what he had to say, and it takes Dex a minute to remember they’re in a car, they’re on a road-trip,  they’re going somewhere.

 

Dex doesn’t understand a word Derek just said. But he does.

 

“I don’t think I really understand it,” he says slowly. “But it’s beautiful. And it sounds really lonely.”

 

Derek shrugs. His face is a careful mask, nearly void of emotion. Dex is far too familiar with this expression—he recognizes it now, though, as the face Derek hides behind. “It is really lonely,” he agrees. Dex doesn’t know if he’s talking about the poem, or his life in general.

 

Someone must have inspired it.

 

The thought makes Dex’s heart ache.

 

“It feels like,” he tries again. He’s frustrated that he can’t come up with the words. It was apparently so simple for Derek, who wrote this devastating poem in the span of seven minutes and thirty-two seconds. “Like that word you said earlier. Hiraeth. It feels like homesickness. And it feels like wanting someone really bad.”

 

Derek actually looks shocked. “Excuse me, what.”

 

Dex feels like he’s said something wrong. “Sorry. I don’t know the right terminology, okay? I just. I really liked it, Derek, and even though I don’t know shit about poetry, I think it was really good.”

 

Derek just blinks. “Huh,” he says out loud. “Well how about that, Will Poindexter.”

 

“I’d really like to hear more of your stuff.”

 

Derek starts to laugh. Loud, cackling guffaws that fill the entire car, so loud and boisterous that even though they surprise Dex and first, he can’t help but join in. Their windows are rolled down, and they’re laughing so hard Dex is sure they’re echoing through the valleys of Connecticut, but he doesn’t really care.

 

“No, Dex. You don’t get to hear any more of my stuff.”

 

 


 

 

Halfway through their road-trip, they get into another argument.

 

Apparently the good can only last so long.

 

 


 

 

Dex is still pouting when Nursey pulls over to put gas in the car. He doesn’t even respond when Nursey mutters, “I’ll pay for gas, don’t worry about it,” because he’s so pissy that he doesn’t even want to. Nursey huffs out of frustration and stomps inside to pay.

 

Dex realizes, too late, that he has to pee. Which means he has to go inside, right after Nursey.

 

He groans loudly, like somehow that’ll make this whole situation better. He’s seriously cussing out Coach Hall right now, and his stupid idea that this would somehow make Nursey and Dex best fucking friends. He even hates Bitty a little bit, because his captain agreed wholeheartedly when Coach brought it up at practice, and then the little bastard had the audacity to text Dex and ask how it was going.

 

[13:45] bittle: hows it going?? no murders yet i hope!!!

[13:45] bittle: that’s a joke. mostly. haha. none of us are worried

[13:46] bittle: okay we’re a little worried please don’t kill each other!!!!

 

Dex half types out an irritable response back before he catches sight of Nursey back at the pump, dutifully filling the car. He pockets his phone and sprints inside, so fast he almost doesn’t hear Nursey’s indignant huff.

 

[14:58] william j. poindexter: captain this was a horrible idea.

[14:59] bittle: you’re fine you’re just being dramatic

 

Dex groans again. Sometimes he really regrets voting Bittle in as captain.

 

On his way back out, he catches sight of some kombucha in the refrigerated section. Ten seconds before their argument, Nursey had mentioned he’d been craving one of those. Damn.

 

Dex has to buy him one.

 

He grabs the healthiest looking one he can see and a bag of trail mix and pays before he can talk himself out of it. Nursey is back in the car already. It looks like he’s angrily typing on his phone, but Dex knows the reality is probably that he’s choosing some shitty song he hopes will piss Dex off.

 

Dex doesn’t say anything when he climbs into the car. He waits until Nursey turns to glare at him before pressing the plastic bag into Nursey’s hands then turning his focus to his seatbelt.

 

Nursey looks stunned when Dex finally glances back up.

 

“It’s whatever,” he mutters. “I’m sorry, or. Yeah. I’m sorry.”

 

Nursey’s fingers tighten around the bag. Dazed, and looking at Dex with something in his eyes that Dex can’t quite describe, he says, “Thanks. I’m sorry, too.”

 

Maybe this is progress.

 

So now Dex kind of hates that Coach Hall and Bitty were right.

 

 


 

 

“What the hell kind of flavor did you pick out, good god, William.”

 

“Are you chirping on my charity?”

 

“Maybe a little. It just tastes weird!”

 

“It’s kombucha!”

 

 


 

 

Sitting in a car with Nursey being an asshole sucks.

 

Sitting in a car with Nursey humming under his breath and strumming his fingers against the steering wheel is like Dex’s own personal tenth circle of hell.

 

Nursey isn’t a great singer, but his voice his kind of raspy in a way that’s really hot and Dex is  super pissed off about it. He remembers at 7am this morning when he woke up and didn’t think Nursey was hot and everything was fine.

 

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of a lie. He’s always, like. Known. That Nursey was attractive. Or whatever.

 

But humming under his breath in a way that’s almost quiet enough Dex could ignore it if he really tried? Of all the things in the world, why is that what he’s fixating on? There’s like a billion other things he could find annoyingly attractive, but no.

 

“What’re you singin’?” Dex asks, lazily, tiredly. Maybe it’s also true that he’s half asleep right now. His forehead is against the window. Dex doesn’t remember when he rolled it up. It’s cold, and his cheek feels slightly frozen.

 

Nursey smiles. He looks soft in the afternoon light. He looks soft when he smiles. God, Dex really needs to wake up all the way.

 

Dex is in hell.

 

“Nothing. Hey, we’re only about thirty minutes out. Do you mind calling Bitty and seeing if they beat us there?”

 

It takes a minute for his mind to catch up to his heart, because all he can think about is the way Derek’s face looks so content right now. He’s never seen that look on Derek’s face, not really. Especially not when Derek is in Dex’s presence. The thought makes him sadder than he expects it to.

 

His phone call to Bitty is quick, and quiet, so much that he can still catch glimpses of the song Derek hums under his breath. Dex thinks he might recognize it. The rest of the team is at the hotel already, and they’re getting ready for dinner, and Derek and Will have instructions to meet them at the restaurant then retire to their room.

 

They’re sharing a room.

 

Dex is suddenly wide awake.

 

Coach Hall,” he hisses into the phone. Bitty laughs, pleased, and hangs up.

 

Derek is smiling still, softly, when Dex finally looks at him again. “Let me guess,” he says. His voice only sounds slightly smug, and it doesn’t even piss Dex off this time. “Coach is forcing us to share a hotel room, isn’t he?”

 

“Yep.”

 

Dex can’t decipher the small smile that manifests on Derek’s face. “Alright.”

 

 


 

 

They win the game.

 

They beat the ever-loving shit out of UPenn, and Will is so fucking delighted he tackles Nursey into a hug. Chowder jumps in, then the whole team is dog-piling him.

 

It’s probably for the best.

 

Their hotel room has two beds, too, and Nursey and Dex collapse separately into their own at the end of the night after a few drinks and celebration.

 

It’s probably for the best, too.

 

 


 

 

“Poindexter, Nurse, come chat with me before boarding time.”

 

“Yes, Coach.”

 

Dex is in the middle of scarfing down the rest of his toast, and Nursey is drinking his orange juice and staring at him with equal parts disgust and intrigue. Dex just grins.

 

Coach Hall is standing outside by the bus when they go out.

 

“Boys,” he greets. He pockets his phone. “I want to say congratulations on your game yesterday. I think we can all agree that you two played monumentally better than we’ve ever seen before. Would you say the same?”

 

“Yes, Coach,” Dex agrees.

 

“Sure,” Nursey says easily. He gives Coach a charming smile that just gets an eye-roll back. “I’d even go as far as to say me and Will are best friends now.”

 

Dex rolls his eyes out of habit. The weird thing is, it’s not even because he’s annoyed now. It’s… different. “Don’t be condescending.”

 

“I’m not,” Nursey says, and he sounds really fucking earnest. This is the Derek that Dex finally got to see during that stupid trip they had to take. The Derek who apologized in earnest over spilled coffee and who read poetry that broke Dex’s heart and who gave Dex a hoodie that he still hasn’t asked for back. This is the Derek who sings songs that Dex recognizes when they share a space now and who drinks kombucha on a road-trip and who looks so beautiful when the paleness of the afternoon light hits his skin that Dex aches with longing.

 

“Oh,” Dex says weakly. “Well. Coach, there you have it.”

 

Coach Hall looks like he’s been given a delightful gift. “There I fucking have it. Alright boys, we leave in thirty minutes. I’ll see you both back on the bus.”

 

“But what about Tango’s car?” Dex blurts out.

 

Coach Hall has already pulled his phone back out and started scrolling through contacts. “Tony and Connor already said they’d drive it back, and I’m not worried about them murdering one another. I proved my point. You guys are good to get back on the bus with your team.”

 

Dex isn’t disappointed that he doesn’t get to have the drive home with Derek.

 

He’s not.

 

 


 

 

Derek sits right next to him on the bus and even offers to share his headphones.

 

Dex is in love.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hey, Nurse?” Dex asks. He leans against the doorway until Derek looks up at him. “I asked Tango if I could borrow his car, do you wanna go on a drive with me? I need a burger, ASAP.”

 

Nursey practically tosses his textbook out the window in his haste to get up.

 

“You had to ask if you could borrow a car?” Nursey chirps. He bumps his shoulder against Dex’s and just grins when Dex glares at him halfheartedly.  “How far are you taking us for this meal, man?”

 

“I want a decent burger, and the nearest decent burger I can think of is thirty minutes away from here. Are you going to be a little bitch the whole time or are you coming with me and getting free food?”

 

“Free food?! Dexy, you’re paying?” Nursey honest to god bats his eyelashes. “You sure know how to treat a fella, don't you?”

 

“I’m starting to wonder why I thought we could be friends,” Dex grumbles.

 

He’s not wondering.

 

If he’s being honest, the only thing he’s been thinking about lately is how they can’t be more than friends. And it really fucking sucks. So then he started thinking about how maybe they could be, and what it would take to get them there. Of course, the panic sets in before he can really actually think about that. He’s half convinced Derek is going to laugh in his face when Dex says it.

 

Whatever. He’s making it work.

 

Nursey brushes his hand against Dex’s, so noticeably that it lingers.

 

He’s not making it work as well as he would hope.

 

Dex will be the driver, because he’s the only one who knows where they’re going. Except, he doesn’t. His plan was: get the car, get Nursey into the car, take Nursey somewhere, and  then maybe kiss Nursey until things made sense again.

 

He’s failing step three. He doesn’t know where to fucking take Nursey.

 

“So where are we going?” Nursey asks, all chipper and happy like he has no clue Dex is literally having a meltdown.

 

“To get a burger,” Dex grunts, and he accepts all chirps Nursey starts throwing at him.

 

The thing is, Dex didn’t realize he had feelings for Nursey until he had no choice but to embrace them. That seems to be the case in his life, always catching on a bit too late. But now that he’s finally caught on, it’s all he thinks about. It’s literally all he thinks about. He takes tests in class and thinks about how he wants to tell Derek how stupid this question sounds. He gets slammed into the ice and wonders if Derek saw and if he worried. He drinks coffee and wonders if he should bring Derek some. He hears a song playing through the speakers and realizes with startling clarity that it’s the song Derek was humming under his breath.

 

Derek’s humming again. And Dex is driving but the tune is so achingly familiar that Dex is starting to get really frustrated that he can’t figure it out. He’s pretty sure that he even listened to it when Derek gave him a headphone fro the ride home, which means he’s even more frustrated because seriously what isn’t he getting about this song—

 

i don’t wanna be your friend, i wanna kiss your neck—

 

Dex looks up in shock, realizing, but Nursey is on his phone. Probably scrolling to find another song to play. He wonders how long they’ve been sitting in silence while Dex was having a meltdown trying to sort out his feelings.

 

But now he knows with no hesitations or doubts where they should go. They can continue this drive, go to a burger place, but there’s no physical destination they need to go right now.

 

But now—there’s not a doubt in his mind where Dex wants to take him. Where he wants to take them. They can continue this drive, they could drive for hours, but that’s not what it’s going to take to get them there. It’s gonna take bravery. And hell, it’s gonna take a lot of hoping on Dex’s part.

 

“Derek,” he whispers, so softly it barely seems to travel through the air. He’s not even looking at Derek, not really. But he will. He will. “Derek.”

 

Derek looks at him, eyes soft and beautiful and unsuspecting. Dex really loves him. “Yeah, dude, what’s up?”

 

Will pulls the car over. He puts the car in park and he thinks he’s going to lose his nerve so he looks back up until his gaze settles on Derek’s green eyes and he feels like he can breathe again. He can do this.

 

It is uncharted territory, and Dex thinks he might be scared, but he thinks it might be worth it.

 

So he takes them there.

 

“Hey,” Will whispers. He raises his hand, tentatively, scared, until it rests on Derek’s cheek. “Can I kiss you?”

 

Derek’s smile is a resounding response.

 

There first kiss is not on the ice, like Will thought it might be, or full of anger, like he’s sure many people expected it to be. It is not rushed or hurried. It’s slow, and Derek’s lips move against his like he was born to kiss Will. There’s heat coiling inside of him again, everywhere, everywhere. Derek smiles, and it breaks the kiss.

 

“About time,” Derek teases, softly, breathlessly. Will closes his eyes and grins. “I only wrote an entire poetic series about you.”

 

“Hiraeth,” Will says solemnly, because he remembers. He won’t ever forget. He doesn’t think he’d even know how to. He kisses Derek again, because he can. “You might have to title it differently now.”

 

“You seem confident that you’re the home I was sick for,” Derek whispers, and there’s a lilt in his voice that suggests that he’s chirping Will. But his kisses are soft and he’s holding Will’s hand and it speaks louder than all else.

 

So, yeah. Maybe Will owes Coach Hall a thank you or two.

 

He’ll think about it more when he’s done kissing Derek.