The plane's dimly lit as they fly back towards Chicago. A few of the guys have turned on reading lights but it's almost perfunctory, anyway, because no one wants to talk to each other. They've said all they've needed to already. And it's not that anyone's seething with anger or anything, besides Jonny, but losing really sucks. Losing eight in a row sucks more.
None of the light reaches the near back of the plane, where Jonny had wedged himself away in a corner. He'd sent a near poisonous glare at Kaner when Kaner'd dropped into the seat next to him but Kaner knew he wasn't going to start any shit.
He'd just wanted to sit here, is all.
It's dark back here, alone with Jonny's aura of silent, contained rage. Kaner turns his head and the scant light glints wetly off of Jonny's eyes where he's staring steadfastly out the window and possibly plotting the entire team's death. Shadows cradle his cheeks and send spikes arcing along the planes of his face. Jonny's hair is longer than usual, probably because he hadn't had the time to cut it in the scant amount of time they've been home.
"What," Jonny says lowly. Kaner startles in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest defensively.
Jonny's still looking out at the window at - what, Kaner doesn't know.
"If you're hoping that I'll say something to make you feel better about yourself, you've got the wrong guy." There's the sound of Jonny shifting further away, if possible. "Go bother Sharpie."
"Uh, no thanks. I'm feeling plenty good about myself," Kaner snorts derisively.
"Well, that shows what you know, doesn't it."
The acidic tone in Jonny's voice makes Kaner's mouth shut tight. Jonny finally turns to him and sighs. It's dark as hell, but Kaner's eyes have adjusted just enough to see Jonny's face, indistinct but for the straight slash of his mouth.
Jonny frowns. "Sorry."
"Whatever," Kaner grumbles, staring down into his lap.
It's not like this is anything new. Just - he can't play for shit, and the only reason no one's noticed lately is that the whole team's playing worse than a bucketful of rookie AHLers. Drunk rookie AHLers, Kaner thinks. He's watched footage of their own games. It makes Kaner want to throw up a little, but he usually doesn't reach that point without a helping of whiskey and he hasn't been drinking much lately, anyway.
"Kaner," Jonny says resignedly. He doesn't sound angry anymore. Just Tazer. "Why are you sitting here?"
Kaner shoots a quick look left, then drums his fingers against his slacks. His palms are sweating despite the fact that his knuckles are dry and splitting and gross. "Uh, no reason. Just, you know."
It's fucking infuriating that they still can't talk properly after years of friendship. Sharpie thinks it's hilarious. But Jonny is kind of awkward, the kind of awkward that he can half-pretend he isn't for the cameras but that won't go away because it's his personality and not for show. And Kaner'd grown up in a house with three younger sisters where he'd had to protect his masculinity, as it were, by being all gruff and pretending he didn't cry at Pokemon movies when he really had under his blankets at night, every time, so really they've mutually put themselves in a bind here.
"No reason," Jonny echoes.
"Yeah." Kaner glares at his knees. Jonny sighs softly.
Silence falls between them. The engines vibrate; the recycled air churns through the cabin with a rhythmic whirr. Kaner sinks down into his seat furiously. Jesus, why is he so bad at talking? He just wants Jonny's advice, it's not like he's asking permission to marry the guy.
They've nearly begun their descent when Kaner looks sideways again and Jonny's eyes are closed, his chest rising and falling steadily. At least he can say it this way, probably, and then ignore the crushing sense of obligation he's had to do it.
"My wrist still hurts," Kaner whispers. "Like, a lot."
He's congratulating himself on not being a chicken when Jonny's hand lands on his knee like a claw, squeezing tightly.
Jonny's eyes are open and wide, dark and angry.
"We're not talking about this here," Jonny hisses and presses harder.
Kaner shuts up for the rest of the flight.
Jonny's apartment is freezing because apparently Jonny's mother taught him to be a good citizen and turn off everything before leaving. Jonny seems unfazed but Kaner shivers as he shrugs his duffel bag off his shoulder and to the floor.
"I wanted to sleep off the pain of defeat in my own bed. Where it's warm and not Canada," Kaner bitches.
He doesn't get an answer. When he looks over Jonny's cranking up the thermostat, thank god, but it won't be getting warm for a while so he plops down on the sectional and tries to burrow into his coat.
Jonny clears his throat. He's looking at Kaner with knitted brows, mouth slightly open.
"Your wrist," he says slowly.
Kaner shakes his head. "Pretty sure you dreamed that, man."
"Don't be stupid."
"I'm not stupid," Kaner snaps reflexively. "Fuck off."
When he looks up he realizes all he's managed to do is get Jonny furious. Great, he thinks, as Jonny stomps over to him and looms.
"You been lying to the doctors, Kaner?"
And that's just-- "Fuck you, no!" He shoots up and gets into Jonny's face, not that it makes Jonny loom over him any less. "You think I'd do that?"
"You said yourself that your wrist hurts," Jonny says. He's turning red, the way he always does when he's pissed or angry or actually showing any emotion at all. "That's exactly what it fucking sounds like."
"Well, I'm not," Kaner says. He can feel himself bring his wrist up to his chest, cradling it almost protectively from Jonny's laser eyes.
It's true, too. His wrist is always fine before he gets on the ice but now every time, around two or three shifts in, it starts aching and sending pangs all the way up his forearm. He'd known that he wouldn't have the same range of mobility in it after the operation. And that would've been fine, except now he's got this shit going on.
So he hasn't been lying, not exactly. What the fuck else is he supposed to do? Not play even though he's physically fit before each game? He's been pathetic enough already.
"Show me," Jonny says suddenly.
But now Jonny's giving him the Captain-eyes with a side dish of best friend worry. Kaner scowls down at the floor and then thinks fuck all, scrabbling at the buttons on his cuff.
That kind of hurts though, so he gives up and angrily unbuttons his shirt. It leaves him standing in his undershirt, shivering in Jonny's Arctic apartment. Jonny's gaze drops with expectation and Kaner sighs, lifting his wrist.
"It's swollen," Jonny says after a moment of examination.
"I ice it when I get home."
Jonny turns without another word, heading to the kitchen. Kaner can hear him rummaging through his fridge for an ice pack. He sits down again, rubbing his forearms with his hands. Fuck, but it's freezing. Kaner's absurdly glad that Jonny hadn't put the lights on; the only illumination is coming from the city itself through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Jonny comes back and sits down silently next to him, waiting until Kaner's situated the ice pack on his wrist before speaking.
"If you're not lying, what the hell is going on?"
"Look," Kaner starts, then has to start again because Jonny's eyes are incredibly dark. "I swear, it doesn't hurt before games, or between them. I don't know what's wrong with it. I can still play."
"I can, so don't fucking tell me I can't, okay."
"Kaner," Jonny says, and Kaner shuts right down, because he knows.
It might not be that he's lying, but it's still - it's still making him ineffective during games. Because then it hurts and in turn he skates more cautiously, unwilling to get hit, and he fucking knows that. He's a hindrance more than anything right now. He knows, but...
"You need to tell the doctors so they can put you on IR before you fuck it up any more. What the fuck were you even thinking?"
Kaner squinches his eyes closed. "No."
"No?" Jonny sounds incredulous.
"Look, you don't get it okay?"
"What don't I get?"
"You've been playing like - you!" Kaner exclaims, getting off the couch and pacing. "You don't get it, if I leave now it's like I've messed up this whole fucking season. Just a whole season of fuck-ups. And they'll use it against me, I know it. I have twelve goals, Tazer. You don't fucking know how that shit feels!"
His voice cracks and he whirls away from Jonny, feeling rebellious tears coming on. God, this is so fucking ridiculous and so fucking awful.
Jonny sighs behind him. A moment later Kaner can feel a hand on his elbow, and he follows blindly as Jonny directs him out of the living room and into the bedroom.
"What the hell?"
"We need to sleep," Jonny says patiently. Slowly, like Kaner's going to snap and swing a fist at him or something. "We've got that signing, remember? It's too cold in the living room. My bed's big enough."
They've ended up in the same bed before, but that was usually because both of them were drunk. Kaner doesn't know how he feels about this. Because Jonny isn't judging him, or calling him stupid, and that kind of makes Kaner want to get away from him.
Still, he's freezing.
They strip quietly and Kaner is so fucking glad to slip under the blankets. His wrist is the only thing that feels warm, throbbing sluggishly with his heartbeat. He turns away from Jonny and stares at nothing. It's completely dark in this room.
"There's something wrong with my hand," Jonny says quietly. "I think it's a cracked bone that hasn't healed or something. It's slowing me down. I was going to talk to them about it next practice. We'll talk to them together."
Kaner tries to make a hole in the wall with how hard he's staring at it. Maybe if he keeps his eyes open wider they'll magically dry up.
Kaner ignores him.
"Are you crying?"
"Fuck you, no!" Kaner snaps, kicking backward.
Jonny surprises him by kicking back and Kaner rolls over, trying to grapple for Jonny's stupid neck to get him into a choke-hold. Jonny can't fight for shit unless it's Tae Kwon Do, so it ends up being about five minutes of him flailing angrily at Kaner while Kaner dominates, both of them breathing heavily, until Jonny manages to somehow slap a closed fist right across Kaner's wrist.
Kaner pulls back with a small sound of pain. He flops onto his back and takes in deep gulps of air. "Fucker, what the fuck!"
Jonny rises up on an elbow next to him. He doesn't say a thing, which is so Jonny that it makes Kaner want to swear, but then he dips his head and brushes his lips, feather-dry and soft, over Kaner's burning wrist.
Kaner's brain shorts out with a spark.
Jonny takes the chance to kind of roll them until he's all over Kaner, plastered up to his back and tangling their legs. It also means that Kaner can't look at him.
"The team's playing badly because they follow us. We're slowing them down, that's our fault," Jonny says quietly. "But it's not your fault for being hurt. You can't disappoint me, Kaner. Not like that."
Kaner shuts his eyes.
"So if you keep playing, and hurt yourself more, and if it turns out that I can't play with you anymore, I'll kill you myself, Kaner, swear to god," Jonny finishes.
He squeezes Kaner's hand tight and Kaner falls asleep, not knowing what the fuck is going on, but kind of weirdly happy.
When he wakes up it can't be much later because the room is still dark. He's sweating now that the heat's kicked in, and Jonny's a furnace behind him. Jonny's evidently awake, because he's brushing his knuckles down the back of Kaner's arm over and over.
Kaner tries to look over his shoulder but Jonny interrupts that by placing an open-mouthed kiss on his neck, warm and wet.
Kaner's whole body flashes hot in response.
Jonny rolls on top of him and stares down. It's so dark that Kaner can't see much besides the strong jaw, Jonny's ruffled hair, his nose. He thinks that Jonny's cheeks would be pink, probably.
"What are we doing," Kaner asks quietly.
His answer is another of Jonny's kisses, nipping to the side of his neck. Jonny mouths around his collarbone and Kaner sighs, reaching up with his good hand to tangle his fingers at Jonny's nape. Finally, Jonny stops fucking around. He licks at Kaner's mouth until he opens it and slips his tongue in, bites at Kaner's upper lip, shifts until he's pushing Kaner down into his bed with his weight.
They battle in this too, the way their tongues tangle together and how Jonny licks over Kaner's teeth, angles their faces until their stubble is burning.
Kaner breathes through his nose, trying not to pass out as Jonny's fingers rub at his hip. "Tazer," he groans wetly, panting out harshly as Jonny pulls away and buries his face in Kaner's neck.
He's too tired to do this now, too tired to figure it all out, and they need to sleep, but the promise is there.
When he wakes up, they've slept almost until noon, which is amazing.
He realizes that he doesn't have any clean shirts in his duffel besides tees, and Jonny gives him a truly horrible plaid shirt to wear to the signing because Jonny is a hick, and now everyone will think Kaner is one too.
The next day they'll go talk to the doctors, but Kaner isn't so afraid of that anymore. He'll be fine. He's going to kick ass soon enough.