The Hunt

by Tammy
Summary: Jason needs to find an apartment. Because that's what people do after they've been traded and the loves of their lives dump them.
Rating: PG.


He’d been in Dallas for two months, and he’d put it off as long as possible, but when Petr had said they were over, and when Petr had been traded and had sold their old apartment over the summer, he was finally struck with the finality of it all.

He had gone home, to Wasaga, to try and avoid it for a little longer, but eventually he had to return to Dallas and reality for training camp. Not wanting to live in a hotel any longer, and not wanting to live above another teammate’s garage and burden himself with memories of yesteryear, he sat down at the table and pulled out the classifieds.

His fingers traced the newsprint, down and across the neat little boxes as his mind went blank and his eyes glazed over. Each box, each description as utterly awful as the previous, and he couldn’t recall why he’d been so eager, so excited last time he went apartment hunting.

No, actually, he could, but he hoped his mind would push that stray thought away.

He chucked the newspaper across the room, watching it flutter to the ground, before dropping his head in his hands.

He jerked back suddenly and stared at his hands, black from the newsprint. He sighed and walked over to the bathroom, but even washing them couldn’t erase the memory that had flickered to the front of his mind. And as he stared in the mirror at the black smudges, the marks across his face where his hands had smeared the ink, he couldn’t help but smile. He couldn’t help but choke out a bitter laugh that sounded too similar to a sob for his liking.

They had spent the day at his apartment looking through the classifieds, but had gotten nowhere. Not that they had minded. The day was just like any other day, and spent with each other, they’d both come to the consensus that it was a well spent one.

He wasn’t quite sure how it started, but he was pretty sure he had provoked the war that ensued five minutes later.

To this day though, he wouldn’t take the blame. After all, it was Petr who had yawned and touched his face, smearing black ink across his cheek. He smiled, and would have been apt to say nothing and let Petr walk around the rest of the day like that, but then the offending hand reached across the table, brushing his forearm and leaving a stray mark.

Petr hadn’t noticed, but he had, so casually, he patted Petr’s shoulder, leaving a large black handprint on his shirt.

Either Petr didn’t notice, or he pretended not to, and the two continued a samba of sorts, exchanging touches, until all hope of finding an apartment was lost, and he was dragging Petr down the hallway to his bedroom.

Later, as they lay together in bed, he laughed at the medley of black fingerprints that covered their bodies. He placed his palm securely over one on Petr’s stomach, feeling the heat and movement--the rise and fall--from his breathing. Even then he noted that they hadn’t been marks of possession. Only love. Or passion or attachment or comfort or whatever they’d decided to label them as. He didn’t, he hadn’t, needed Petr to belong to him. Petr loved him, and that was enough.

Years later, as he stared at his reflection in the bathroom of a hotel he no longer wanted to live in, in a life he no longer wanted to live in, he couldn’t help but see his former self. Four years younger, four years stupider, and under the silly impression that it could be enough. He wanted to laugh but feared the sound it would make. He didn’t want to risk a sob, or worse, an echo that would only serve to remind him of exactly where he was.

Alone and in a cold and empty hotel room with only memories to keep him company.

He decided he’d call a real estate agency the following morning; he’d let them find him an apartment.