My story isn’t the love story of the century. In fact, in retrospect, it’s actually quite the melodramatic soap opera. Dating your teammate, having a threesome with him and another teammate, and then finally leaving first teammate for second teammate, having the usual torrid love affair, before second teammate is traded to another team half way across the country. Just like ‘Days of Our Lives,’ but with less faked deaths and more backstabbing, lying, and manipulation. The story sounds simple enough, but trust me, it wasn’t. I recognized the drama immediately; most of it unfolded right in front of me. But I had no idea one simple act would create so much; would wreak such havoc on my life (turning it from organized and comfortable to spontaneous and out of control); or would change it for the better. And amazingly, of all the things that I could control, that I actually had a choice over, the one thing that changed my life for the better was completely out of my hands. Fate. Destiny. Love. You can’t control whom you love or whom you fall in love with. Had I been able to, I probably would have been able to avoid this whole fiasco. I wouldn’t be terribly lonely and I wouldn’t be trying to figure out how to keep a long distance relationship going. But I wasn’t able to, and thank God, because other wise I would have spent the last four or so years without Jason. Instead I would have spent them with Patrik. And sadly enough, actually more like heart-breakingly enough, I could have and would have been reasonably happy too. I still love Patrik, always have and always will. He’s a fantastic guy; truly, I kid you not. Which brings me invariably to the question of the year: how do you leave a good man? When I was trying to brush up on my English, I would watch talk shows all the time. Everyone in the audience would be so supportive, so encouraging of a woman trying to leave her abusive husband. If your husband or boyfriend beats, verbally abuses, mistreats, or manipulates you, then you “leave the bastard” and the crowd roars their approval. But what if your boyfriend doesn’t do that? What if he’s absolutely sweet and treats you like a king? And what if you love the way he makes you feel and you love the way you act around him? What if you’re a better person because of him? What if he’s caring and loving and the type of guy you can see yourself starting a family with? What if you look at him and you see kids, grandkids, and yourself, smiling and bursting with happiness? How do you leave a guy like that? So, I suppose, my story is a bit more complicated than it seemed at the beginning. But then again, isn’t everything when you glance a little bit closer and study the details? I remember the day so vividly--the day that would forever change my life, Patrik’s life, and our relationship. It was the beginning of the new year, and fitting I suppose for all the eventual changes. Patrik and I had been bouncing up and down from the River Rats to the Devils for two years. We’d become accustomed to it, and had actually forged a closer bond because of it. We had met in the AHL, and could relate to the internal and physical battles fought in becoming a true NHLer and finding a proper niche on a team. By the 1997-1998 season though, we had proven ourselves and collectively had only spent five games in Albany. We were practicing in Jersey when he arrived, toting a black duffel bag. Sad, yes, I know, that I remember the color of his bag, but I can also tell you what he was wearing if you’d like to poke some more fun in my general direction. He didn’t actually practice with us; he had shown up near the end and I think one of the assistant coaches gave him a tour and run down of our program, before directing him to his locker in our locker room. // “Jesse’s girl…na na na na na…Jesse’s girl,” Patrik wailed, drowning out the radio in the background. I shook my head at the awful sound, but laughed. I couldn’t help it really; lately, everything Patrik did made me smile. My mom had made a flippant remark about it the last time I talked to her on the phone. Something along the lines of being able to see my smile across the Atlantic. I suppose I did have something to smile about too. Patrik and I had been on again, off again for a while, but had grown closer over the season. We were sharing an apartment and by New Year’s Eve, our relationship seemed more solidified and stronger than it had ever been before. We’d always had a very open relationship, and though not often, I know both of us had taken advantage of that freedom. But for some reason, this year felt different: barely a week into the new year and already I could see that the doors were shut tightly and locked. And surprisingly, I didn’t feel stifled nor did I want my “freedom.” ‘Could Petr Sykora finally be ready to settle down?’ I thought to myself. Legally, I couldn’t, but in all the ways it mattered, I could. Patrik wrapped a towel around his body (which really wasn’t necessary considering we were some of the last people in the locker room) and winked at me. I knew he wanted me to join him in the showers, but even if my body said different, I wasn’t that stupid. I peeled off my remaining equipment and clothing before taking a quick shower. Patrik was still rinsing off and trying to sing when two men entered the locker room through the assistant coaches’ office. I rubbed my hair with a towel as I watched them approach me. I instantly recognized Jim, our equipment manager, and Jason Arnott, the center we had traded for on the fourth. A few other guys had been thrown in on the deal as well, but the media had only really focused on Jason. Jim pulled off a piece of masking tape from the roll in his hand, scrawling out ‘Arnott’ before placing it over the locker next to mine. Patrik and I were still near the end of the lockers, next to the other rookies. Jim clapped Jason on the back, before saying goodbye and heading out. Jason rubbed the back of his neck and glanced around the room. He sighed, then smiled and extended his hand towards me. “Jason Arnott.” I smiled and shook his hand. “Petr Sykora.” // It should probably be noted at this point that no, I didn’t get any ‘love tingles’ and sparks didn’t shoot out of his fingertips. His hand was warm and a bit more calloused than mine (which isn’t that difficult of a task), but it was just a handshake. I didn’t know I was going to fall in love with him. Heck, I didn’t even think I was going to like him. Nothing against Jason or first impressions or anything like that, it’s just that I tend to keep to myself. I guess I’m what you would call an introvert. Patrik was my closest teammate and the next guy down the line was some guy I had roomed with for the few nights Patrik wasn’t playing in. I didn’t exactly go out of my way to make friends. And Jason didn’t exactly seem like he was particularly happy to be in Jersey. Not that I blamed him; it certainly isn’t as beautiful as Edmonton. However, I’m not blind. He was pretty gorgeous. I could tell that it would be pretty easy to get lost in those deep brown eyes of his from our very first conversation. But like I said, I had Patrik; we had finally solidified our relationship. Besides you see attractive people all the time. Just because someone strikes your fancy doesn’t mean you’re about to throw out the last two years of your life to jump some guy like a rabid dog (or teenage male). That’s what fantasies are for. So our first meeting was quite anticlimactic… // “Interesting accent, Petr.” “Uh…” I wasn’t sure what he meant by that. “Thanks. I’m from Plzen.” “What?” “Plzen. Part of the Czech Republic.” He nodded his head. “Pel-zen-ya,” he said slowly. “Cool. I‘m from Can-a-da.” He smiled, baring all his teeth in an extra-wide smile. I laughed. “I don’t think I’ve heard of it.” At first I thought he just thought my joke was lame, but then I realized he wasn’t paying attention to me--his own diverted over my shoulder. I turned around to see Patrik. “Patrik, this is Jason.” The two shook hands. “Jason, this is Patrik.” Patrik smiled and gave him the once over. Although he seemed to be sizing him up, rather than checking him out like I had earlier. “Nice to meet you, Jason,” Patrik said, pulling his shirt over his head. “Are you from Plzen too?” // And then Patrik pulled out a gun and shot him right then and there in the middle of the locker room. Okay, he didn’t, but he looked like he wanted to. I mean, confusing Trebic with Plzen is sort of like confusing Seattle with Atlanta. But I digress. It wasn’t a shaky start for the two considering that they barely exchanged pleasantries, but the tension was obvious. I tell you this because this is the only time that the tension wasn’t about me. I’m pretty sure that makes me sound like a diva. Yes, I like VH1. So sue me. Stop distracting me with tangents. After we dressed, we headed out for a late lunch/early dinner. We being Patrik and I. I have no idea what Jason did or how he spent his first day. I didn’t actually speak to him for quite some time after our first meeting. Even though his locker was right next to mine. I didn’t talk to him, but I studied him. Watched the way he dressed, the way he carried himself on the ice, how he interacted with his other teammates, and his interviews with the media. The more I watched him, the more intrigued I became. And the more I watched him, the more Patrik watched him. He probably thought everyone from the Czech Republic was a freak. Although, when I asked him about it later, he said he didn’t even notice. He was too busy trying to fit in to notice a mute foreigner. I finally worked up the nerve to talk to him during our next road trip. Again, in retrospect, my anxiety over talking to him should have sent off alarms or bells or something in my head. Sure, he was attractive, but I wasn’t attracted to him. I had Patrik. Famous last words. // I knocked on the hotel door the exact moment Bill was leaving. He did that strange American head nod, which I had been trying to master for months, but only made Patrik laugh insanely when I tried. I decided just to smile in return. Jason was laying on the bed, on his side, the phone resting in the crook between his shoulder and neck. “Yeah, I love you too,” he murmured. He laughed. “No, I’m not just hanging out with the Oiler boys.” I cleared my throat and he turned so he was facing me. He waved and smiled. “Honest. See, I even made a new friend.” He held up the phone. “Say hello, Petr.” I took a step closer so I was near the receiver. “Hello.” He scrunched his nose up and shook his head. Perhaps in disbelief that I would actually do it. “Yep. Petr and I are best buds. Listen, I have to go.” A pause. “Okay, talk to you later. Bye.” He placed the receiver back in its cradle and smiled again. I felt my pulse quicken and I licked my dry lips. “So, are you the welcoming committee?” I flushed to my own chagrin, looked down, and scuffed the carpet with my shoe. “Oh, no.” I looked up. “I think I’d be a week late, anyway. No, normally I hang out with Patrik, but he’s watching a really awful movie right now. So I figured I’d hit up the rest of the guys on the team and see if they wanted to do anything. Curfew’s not for a while.” “You and Patrik are close,” he stated. I nodded. “You can tell on the ice.” “We’ve spent the last few years in the minors together.” I paused, suddenly struck with the notion that I could spend the next few hours in silence just staring at him, but knowing Jason might be just a little more than creeped out by that. It was time for a great idea, and being the great conversationalist that I am, I blurted out the first thing that came into my head. “Do you want to watch a basketball game?” “You like basketball?” “Uh, no.” He laughed. “But you want to watch one?” I shrugged. “I heard you liked basketball.” His eyes narrowed. “How’d you hear that?” “I, uh.” Looked it up on the internet like a crazy stalker. “Heard it from a friend?” He laughed again. God, he had a beautiful laugh. “You’re a crazy kid, you know that?” I smiled, glad that he was at least bemused by the fact that I was acting like an idiot. I’d been known to act like one around people I was attracted to, but rarely noticed it. The fact that I was wasn’t exactly reassuring. I was just looking for a friend. Spending time with your boyfriend at work and at home was a bit much. The kid part, though, threw me for a loop until I remembered that he was, in fact, two years older than me. “Was that your girlfriend on the phone?” He sighed, and then threw his legs over the side of the bed so that he was sitting up. “Something like that. What’s say you and me go find a club? You like to drink, don’t you?” He stood up at my affirmation and grabbed his coat. “Do you need to go get yours?” “Yeah.” We trekked back to my room to grab a coat. Patrik seemed a bit surprised I was going out. Admittedly, so was I; I’m a self-proclaimed homebody. I think he wanted to come with me, but the whole point of hanging out with Jason was not to be hanging out with Patrik, so I told him to enjoy his movie and we left before he could ask to join us. We ended up at a warm and well-lit pub, of sorts. I’d expected to go to some young and happening club filled with music and strobe lights, but Jason seemed comfortable where we were. We grabbed a booth that was somewhat secluded and separate from the rest of the bar, but still within viewing range of the televisions. He sat across from me so he could watch, and we sipped mugs of beer and got to know one another. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but whatever it was, it didn’t really matter. We didn’t share many interests, but the ones that we did, we were able to converse about quite animatedly. We talked about our families and hometowns. Patrik and I were so similar, and I loved that--being able to finish each other’s sentences and having the same interests. Yet, surprisingly, even though we were, at least superficially, different, we still got along well. I found myself smiling all night at his jokes and felt at home and comfortable in the yellow-lighted room. “Time to head back,” he said after a quick glance at his watch. We stood at the curb outside, waiting for a cab. He slung his arm over my shoulders. “I had fun. How about you, Petr?” he slurred slightly, his hot breath against my cheek. The wind cut through my jacket, but I didn’t feel the chill. I couldn’t feel my legs either, which probably helped. Our cab arrived and he continued to ramble as he got inside. He yawned. “I think we’re going to be great friends, Petr.” I smiled, watching the buildings fly by. “I think so too.” I fell asleep that night with the image of his face ingrained in my mind. // Now at this point, you probably think you know where this story is headed. You see it all now: Petr becomes great friends with Jason. Patrik becomes instantly jealous of the two and their new relationship. Instant tension with Jason and Patrik, and Patrik and Petr ensues. Petr realizes he’s in love with Jason. More angst, more sexual tension, and an eventual breakup. But, alas, no, things are never that simple. I think I might have actually liked that scenario. Instead, Patrik and Jason became great friends. We all clicked. We spent the majority of practice with each other. Well, at least the drills that we could; we were on different lines. We hung out after practice. We watched games at each other’s apartments, went out to dinner with each other, volunteered at the same charity events…we were inseparable. The guys in the locker room even took to calling us the “Three Musketeers.” Well, that was one of their nice nicknames for us. The coach noticed our immediate amicability and separated all three of us onto different lines, thinking that we’d just goof around if we were put together. I laugh at that now, knowing how great we were the last few seasons when Robinson finally put the three of us together. Then again, he probably knew best. We weren’t as proficient back then as we are today. My attraction to Jason was always there, but I never acted on it. Remember, I was with Patrik and we were up to our heads in sappy happiness. Eventually, I just sort of tuned it out; a constant you become accustomed to. Sort of. // It was Saturday night, a nice off night. Patrik and I were curled up on the couch watching the movie of the week. A blanket was spread across us and I was lying on top of his chest. His hands were submerged in my hair, sending tingles through my scalp as I rubbed his sides. I think it was a Bond movie, but I couldn’t be quite sure. I was paying more attention to Patrik’s lips than the t.v. screen. A knock on the door interrupted our make-out session. Reluctantly, I got up and answered the door. It was Jason bearing gifts: pizza, hot wings, and beer. As tempting as the food generally was, I couldn’t help but wish that Jason hadn’t shown up. The thought of Patrik naked was much more appealing than greasy food. But I couldn’t exactly tell Jason to scram because I wanted to screw my boyfriend. We hadn’t exactly, uh, told Jason we were dating yet. Jason seemed to notice that I was in the middle of something. My swollen lips and tousled hair might have been a give-a-way. He raised his eyebrows and smiled. “Should I come back later?” I half-coughed, half-laughed. “Uh--” Patrik chose that exact moment to yell out. Great. Granted, I probably could have told Jason that we were in the middle of a three-way with some bodacious and busty blonde, and it wasn’t that he wouldn’t have approved, it was more that he would easily see through that lie. I was the most old-fashioned of the three, and they constantly teased me for it. I sighed. “No, it’s just Patrik and me. Come on in.” I shut the door behind him and took the box of pizza from him to help. “Hey, Pat, Jason’s here!” I called out. I grabbed the bottle opener from the kitchen and joined the two in the living room. I could tell from the look on Patrik’s face that he wasn’t exactly thrilled to see Jason either. If Jason noticed, he didn’t say anything. I placed the pizza on the coffee table and opened up beers for all three of us. I grabbed a slice and started shoving it down my throat when I noticed Jason staring at me. Or more specifically, Patrik and me. That’s when I realized how closely I was sitting next to Patrik. His thigh was pressed against mine, and while normally that wouldn’t be a bad thing, again, Jason didn’t know we were dating. And then I became acutely aware that while Patrik’s left hand was holding the beer I opened, his right was on my shoulder. Jason’s eyes widened as he put two and two together and observed our matching hair do’s, swollen lips, and Patrik’s latest hickey. “Fuck.” I wasn’t sure whether he said it first, or if it was me. “Shit.” Yep, the first one was him, and the second one was me. “Jason, I can explain.” My inner self cringed at the sound of desperation and panic in my voice. “Go ahead,” he replied rather shrilly. “I’m…we…are gay.” Patrik placed a hand on my knee. “And we’re dating.” How could he be so freaking calm? Didn’t he realize that this had to be handled delicately? What if Jason bolted? Decided he didn’t want to hang out with us anymore? Hang out with me anymore? I don’t know if I could handle that. My throat began to close up and I struggled to stay calm so I could breathe. What if he told? Surprisingly, that was the last question to run through my mind, and I easily brushed it aside. The thought of losing Jason, of losing my best friend, was far more frightening than my teammates finding out I was gay. He just sort of sat there, staring at us, not saying anything for a while. His chest heaved regularly so I knew he was still breathing. That was a bit reassuring. The fact that he stood up and bolted out of the apartment a moment later was a little less than. After the shock passed, I stood up. “I should go find him…and talk to him.” “Petr,” Patrik breathed. “I don’t think…” He sighed. “He probably needs a moment to himself.” “Well, what are friends for if not to talk to…I need to talk to him, explain to him--” “I think he understood just fine, Petr.” He took the slice of pizza out of my hand and I realized my hands were shaking. “I--no, he didn’t. You saw how he ran out of here. He’s confused--he…” I trailed off and bit my bottom lip. “Where are your car keys?” A pained expression lined Patrik’s face. “I don’t think you should be driving while you’re upset.” “I’m not upset.” “Petr--” “I’m not upset.” He didn’t reply. He just stared at me. Pretty soon his face became a blur. His arms encircled me and he let me fall onto the couch and use his shoulder for a pillow to cry on. I let the sobs overtake me. Eventually I calmed and sat in Patrik’s arms just listening to the sounds of the apartment: the hum of the refrigerator, the tick of the clock, Patrik’s heartbeat, and my own ragged breathing. Anything to keep me from thinking about Jason. I couldn’t deal with the thought of losing Jason. I’d only known him a short time, but the connection we had was as deep as the bond I shared with Patrik who’d I known for several years. He was smart and caring, someone I enjoyed being around, and he made awful jokes that I couldn’t help but laugh at. He helped me work on my slap shot; I helped him with his puck handling skills. He brought over bad movies and pizza. He was confident, perhaps overly so, but never arrogant. He was kind, yet brash. He was… He was my friend. And I couldn’t bear to lose him. // I swung by Jason’s apartment the next morning. I knocked, and then pounded on his door for several minutes until his landlord, rather perturbed by the noise, informed me that Jason wasn’t home. I asked him if he knew where he was or if he had come home the night before, and rather rudely he replied that he wasn’t Jason’s keeper. Begrudgingly, however, he told me that he had seen Jason leave with a basketball earlier that morning. I headed over to the sports complex on the off chance that he had gone there to practice. Luckily, I was right, and found him pounding the ball on the empty courts. He glanced over at me when I opened the door, but turned his attention back to whatever he was doing before. He practiced shots for the next ten minutes in silence until I finally spoke up. “Jason, about last night…” I trailed off, expecting him to respond. When he didn’t, I tried again. “So, now you know and…” The only response was the bounce of the ball and the swish of a basket. I had been worried, even scared, of how he was going to respond. I had been sick to my stomach, foregoing breakfast in order to speak to Jason. I had gone over this scene a million times on the way to his apartment. But in all of them he had at least spoken. Slowly, I was swallowing my fright and anger was replacing it. I mean, we were friends. Suddenly, just because I was gay, I wasn’t worthy of a response from the great Jason? God damn it, we were friends--best friends. You just don’t blow off your friends, and especially over something so trivial. So what if I was gay? So what? By the time that I ran over and grabbed the rebound so that he would be forced to talk to me, I was livid. “Well? Are you even going to talk to me?” He glared at me and walked coolly over to his bag and drank from his water bottle. Frustrated, I chucked the ball over at him. It hit him in his lower back and he whirled around. “What the hell is your problem?” “My problem? My problem? What about your problem? We’re friends, Jason. Best friends, I thought. I’m sorry if you’re having a problem dealing with my sexuality, yes, my sexuality, but get the fuck over it.” He picked up the ball. “Get the fuck over it?” “Yes,” I yelled back. “Get over it. I’m gay. Big fucking deal. I fuck guys. Oh no, call the police! You’ve got a queer in the locker room. Better keep your children away from me; they might catch the ‘gay disease’! And Patrik’s gay too! Oh my God, they’re multiplying! Spreading!” I’d never see someone look at me with so much disgust or contempt in my life. “Thanks, Petr. Thanks so fucking much.” He stared down at the ball in his hands, squeezing it, before chucking it back at me. “I could care a less if you’re gay! I can deal with you being gay. Like you said, no big deal. But what I can’t deal with is my friends lying to me.” He picked up his bag. “So get the fuck over yourself.” He walked closer and grabbed his ball back from my grasp. His face was so close to mine; his eyes, however, didn’t show any traces of the anger in his voice, they just looked sad. “I thought we were friends,” he almost whispered. “I can’t believe you would think so little of me.” He walked away and it was as if he had chucked the ball right into my stomach; I couldn’t breathe. And suddenly, I felt so small. I had misjudged his reaction; he was the one who was hurt. // I returned to my apartment an hour later after collecting my thoughts. I relayed the story to Patrik. He looked a bit surprised at first, and then angry. “’What I can’t deal with is my friends lying to me’? What? Who does this guy think he is?” he scoffed. “Does he think he’s the freaking Dalai Lama?” “He was hurt. I don’t--” Patrik interrupted me. “Because we hadn’t spilled every single of our lives to him? Who does--” I rolled my eyes and stopped him. “I think the two of us dating is a pretty major thing.” He smiled. “Well, I think so too, but still…I mean, how were we supposed to know we could trust him?” I sighed. “I think that’s the point. He was hurt that we didn’t think we could trust him.” Patrik shook his head. “It takes time to get to know a person. Besides, I don’t believe him. He can’t seriously be ticked off that we ‘lied’ to him. Something else is going on, if you ask me.” He took a bite of a slice of apple. “Like what?” “Our revelation is eating away at his own repressed homosexuality.” A crunch of another slice and a grin followed his statement. I laughed. “Sure.” “Seriously, though, why get so mad? If he really didn’t care that we were gay, then there was no reason for him to run off like that. I think he just came to that stupid conclusion this morning after he realized that maybe it was okay that we were both gay. But if you believe that he really didn’t have a problem with our orientation last night, then you’re just kidding yourself. He’s a good guy. Probably realized despite our obvious differences in sexuality we could still be friends.” “Were you watching ‘TLC’ or something? Oprah?” He whacked me over the back of my head while I laughed. “Tell you what, the two of us will talk to him after practice tomorrow. That way we can all work this out, still be friends, and we can get rid of that injured puppy look on your face.” I mock pouted. “I thought you liked that face.” “When it’s being used for evil, like enticing me into bed.” He grinned. “But not when you look so sad.” He rubbed my arm. “Okay?” // Patrik was right in more ways than one that morning. Looking back on it…I can’t believe how amazing he was. All around perfect boyfriend. I loved him so much. I never would have thought--anyway, back to confronting Jason after practice. // I grabbed onto the car door as Jason was closing it. “Wait, Jason, we need to talk.” He bit the inside of his cheek, contemplating, before sighing. “Get in.” I ran around to the other side of the car and threw my stuff in the back. I was about to sit when I heard a yelp from Patrik. Before I knew what was happening, I was stuck in the back with all three duffel bags, while Patrik rode shotgun. It was cramped and I could only thank God that it wasn’t the middle of October. “I take it you don’t use your backseat that often.” Jason let out a snort. “Look, Jase,” I started. “We’re sorry we didn’t tell you. It’s just--” “--you have to realize that secrecy is sort of part of our relationship,” Patrik finished for me. “If anyone were to find out about us…the NHL isn’t reading for gay athletes. Hell, America isn’t ready for gay athletes. It would be the end of our careers. And if that wasn’t bad enough--a locker room romance? It’s like dating your co-worker, definitely not a--” “Okay, okay.” Jason held up his hands. “I get it; I forgive you.” He smiled sheepishly. “And I’m sorry too. I guess I kind of freaked out last night and you guys didn’t deserve that.” I clapped the two of them on the back. “Great. Now let’s go--” “Wait, Jason. Why were you so mad about us lying t o you?” Jason raised his eyebrow. “Do you like being lied to?” “No, but I also don’t flip out like that when I find out I was lied to. So what‘s the deal?” Jason shrugged and stared as his dashboard, fiddling with his keys. Patrik turned around and stared at me, an “I told you so” written over his face. “Jason?” he continued. An uncomfortable silence filled the car as Jason gripped the steering wheel and stared at his hands. Before Patrik could pester Jason again, I spoke up. “I’m starving. Let’s go get something to eat. Sound good?” Patrik rolled his eyes, but nodded his head before staring out the window. Jason looked visibly relieved, and smiled back at me through the rear view mirror, before starting up the car. He flicked on the radio as he weaved in and out of the maze-like streets. He concentrated on the road as I concentrated on the back of his head. Why hadn’t he answered Patrik? Why had he flipped out that night? What was bothering Jason? What was eating Gilbert Grape? I laughed out loud suddenly at that thought, receiving strange looks from Patrik and Jason. “I was just, uh…thinking. Oh look!” I pointed out the window. “A restaurant. Let’s eat there.” The two just shook their heads, synchronized almost, used to my strange outbursts. As Jason pulled into a parking spot, I realized I had another problem to figure out as well. How the freak was I going to get out of the car? // “I’m not lying! That’s what she said. Why would I make that up? And she was hot,” Jason protested. We were on another road trip and Jason was hanging out in our room. Patrik and I were curled up on one bed while Jason ranted on the other. “She would not say that.” “She did.” He paused and cocked his head to the side. “Wait, no, it was her roommate.” “Her roommate?” Patrik asked in disbelief. “You did her roommate too?” Jason grinned. “Slut,” I yelled out. He frowned and threw a pillow at me. I laughed and burrowed my head in Patrik’s chest. “Save me!” Patrik laughed and pushed me off the bed. “Cornball.” I rolled around on the ground a few times for dramatics, clutching my side. “I think I need my spleen removed.” Another pillow hit my head. “That’s not where your spleen is located.” “Thanks, Dr. Elias.” I stood up. “Fine, if you’re going to be like that, Jason will be my new boyfriend.” Jason rolled his eyes. I jumped on the bed, landing on him, and wrapped my arms around him. “Kiss me.” He raised one eyebrow. “Brush your teeth first.” I could hear Patrik laughing as I pouted. “If you really loved me, you would kiss me.” I leaned in closer and stared at him, waiting for him to push me off of him. He half-coughed. “Uh, I don’t like this game,” he said nervously. I smirked. “One kiss. Come on. I know you want to. You‘re desperately in love with me.” Jason paled a bit and looked down. I don’t think a hotel room has ever been that quiet before. “Jason?” I asked softly. He looked up. His brown eyes seemed to bore into mine. So sad, yet so hopeful. I could see his nervousness and suddenly it clicked in my mind. And I couldn’t breathe. Either everything was going in slow motion and it was taking forever for my lungs to kick in, or I had seriously stopped breathing. I wasn’t thinking about Patrik or anything but Jason’s face. Suddenly, it was the center of my universe and all I could do was stare into those eyes, or at the mouth--those perfect lips. “Maybe I am,” he said in the smallest voice imaginable. It still sounded loud to me, though, resonating through my head. “Wha-what?” I faltered. His solemn face scrunched up into hysterics a moment later as he laughed. “Dude! You should have seen your face.” He fell backwards onto the bed so that he was lying down. He clutched his sides, laughing and trying to breathe. “So classic.” I stood up and glared at him, and then Patrik, who was laughing too. My glares went unseen though as the two of them were too busy trying to breathe to notice me. Me and my flushed, angry face. I’d never been so embarrassed in all my…I couldn’t believe I actually thought for one second… “Aw, I’m sorry, Petr. If I had known how desperately you wanted me to fall in love with you--” Jason broke off into another fit of laughter. Patrik shook his head and smiled. “Come here, you big idiot.” He beckoned with his hands. He pulled me close and kissed me. “Well, I still love you.” He paused. “I’m no Jason, but--” I hit him over the head. “Ow, if you’re going to be like that--” I silenced him with another kiss. This one was deeper, though, as I allowed my tongue to explore his mouth. A pillow hit the back of my head, breaking up our very brief make-out session. “Get a room,” Jason yelled. I chucked the pillow back. “Go find some random woman, neophiliac.” He chucked it back. “What?” “Slut!” “Bottom boy!” “Whore!” “You’re ruining the mood, Petr,” Patrik said. “Sorry.” I laughed and leaned forward, placing small kisses on his neck. “Get a room.” “Go find some random woman, neophiliac,” I tossed back, grinning. // Patrik was still dead asleep the next morning when Jason and I headed out for breakfast. We ended up just downstairs, and piled our food high, following the herd of people through the breakfast line. We found a small table in the corner and sat down. Jason set down his fork and knife, and then cracked his knuckles. “Ready?” I rolled my eyes. “Go!” He grabbed his fork and began shoveling food into his mouth. Okay, I did too, but he was far more disgusting about it. I think. I hadn’t really stared in a mirror while eating breakfast before. A few minutes later, he threw down his utensils and wiped his mouth with his napkin. “I beat you again.” I rolled my eyes again. “Oh no.” He grinned. “You know, I can eat a Big Mac in under a minute.” “More like inhale.” He laughed and sipped his coffee. For some reason, he always liked to leave it for last, sipping it slowly and enjoying it. Maybe in the brief moments it took him to eat his food, he was allowing it to cool or something. “Are you trying to impress me with how quickly you can eat your food?” He smiled. “Maybe. I don’t think I have to, though, considering you’re already in love with me.” “You’re never going to let last night go, are you?” He shook his head. A woman passed by the table, and his eyes followed her until she looked at him. He smiled at her and she giggled, before walking away. “Neophiliac,” I muttered under my breath. He still heard me though. “What does that mean?” “Nothing. I heard it in a movie.” He stared at me until I relented. “Don’t you ever…I don’t know…get tired of it?” “Tired of what?” He took another sip of his coffee. I cocked my head in the direction of the girl. “Women?” I rolled my eyes. “Sex? No.” “Meaningless sex. Don’t you ever wish you were in a relationship?” “I’m in my early twenties, Petr. I don’t see a reason to settle down quite yet.” “I didn’t say anything about marriage. But don’t you wish just once when you came home from a road trip you had a warm body to curl up to?” “I can--” I stopped him. “You know what I mean.” I sighed. “I mean, what about the girls? Don’t you think that you’re--” “Hey, hey,” he started, offended. “I’m not leading anyone on. No false pretenses--those girls know I’m not looking for a relationship. I’m not lying to anyone--not like you and Patrik.” “We aren’t…” This was getting a little too heavy-handed for just breakfast. “Look, I’m sorry I offended you.” “Yeah, you’re always sorry.” He shook his head and sat back in his chair, drinking his coffee and looking around the room. I frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?” He sighed. “Nothing,” he said, trying to brush it off. He gave a meek smile. “I’m just out of it. I didn’t sleep well last night. Bill kept me up all night with his snoring.” I nodded. “Well, hey, you can always crash with us.” He laughed. “Yeah, because God knows you guys aren’t using that other double bed.” Jason paused. “I don’t know. You guys might be louder than Bill.” I shook my head, and laughed. We sat in silence for the next few minutes, finishing our coffees. Every now and then Jason would wave or nod his head at one of the guys on the team as they slowly filtered downstairs. I watched him; I was still trying to get that head-nod thing down, much to my chagrin. One would think it to be rather easy, but trust me, it wasn’t. I still looked like an idiot any time I tried it. Patrik finally came downstairs. He grabbed some breakfast and started to make his way over to our table. I smiled, and brightened considerably. “You really love him, don’t you?” “Huh?” Jason leaned forward and lowered his voice. “What’s it like?” I furrowed my brow in confusion. “What? Being in love?” He shook his head. “No, you know, being with a…” He trailed off and nodded his head. “With Patrik?” “No,” he scowled. “With a guy--any guy.” “I don’t know.” I shrugged. “What’s it like being with a woman?” He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “I’m being serious here. Is it like…different? You know, in a good way. I mean, nice?” “What?” I was seriously confused. What the freak was Jason talking about? I’d rather he’d stick with some topic I did understand…like inhaling food. I knew how to eat. “You look confused again, Petr,” Patrik said as he sat down with his plate. “What are we talking about?” “Nothing. Just the game,” Jason said hurriedly. “I gotta go. See you at the morning skate in a few hours.” “Bye, Jason.” “Bye,” I echoed. Patrik started talking about buying something he saw in a catalog, but I was only half-listening, tuning him out. I nodded and gave a “mm hmm” as I watched Jason walk over to the elevators. He smiled and struck up a conversation with the woman who had walked by the table earlier. They ducked into the elevators and I saw her writing something on a piece of paper and handing it to him before the doors closed. “Did you notice anything off with Jason this morning?” I asked, interrupting Patrik. He thought about it for a few seconds before shaking his head. “No, not really. Why? Think he’s in love with you?” I groaned, holding my head in my hands. “I’m never going to live that down.” “Never,” he replied. // Yeah, yeah, so I was a freaking idiot and had no idea what Jason was talking about that morning. Give me a break. I never said I was Einstein. I make a living off of hitting pieces of rubber with a stick. Anyway, onwards and forward… // Lounging on the bed with my body between Patrik’s legs, I rested my head on his stomach. Absent-mindedly his thumb ran circles on my shoulder while he changed the channels. From my position I couldn’t see the t.v. but from the way Patrik was flipping I could tell nothing important was on. It had been a few weeks since breakfast at the hotel and we were nearing the end of the season, but the memory was still fresh in my mind. I learned not to broach the subject of women around Jason. We certainly had different ways of viewing what he did with them. He was convinced he was doing nothing wrong--that he was living in the real world, free from fairy tales. That as long as he was upfront about his feelings, it was okay: two adults mutually consenting to a relationship of only sex was fine by him. I, on the other hand, was convinced he was just being a jerk. Most of it came from just watching the way he treated them and knowing he was so much better than that. He was a great guy, and I knew that he was capable of having a meaningful relationship with somebody. Heck, I had met his mother who told me about his one girlfriend a few years back, so I knew he had had a long term relationship before. And I had seen how he treated his mother, siblings, and even our waitress (which, as everyone knows, is a sure fire way to tell how a guy will treat you: if he treats a waitress poorly, he’ll treat you poorly). So either it was just a total lack of effort on his part or somehow he had become dysfunctional at relationships after joining the NHL. Which could only mean two things. He had been burned badly in his last relationship--rejected somehow or hurt badly. Or he really liked sex. Option number two seemed far more likely, but…I don’t know, that just seemed a little too blaze, a cop-out of sorts. All I really knew, however, was that I was far too obsessed with Jason’s love life, or rather, sex life. I’m not quite sure when exactly that he began consuming my thoughts. But pretty soon he was always on my mind. I think it was a gradual thing. It wasn’t like he was all that I thought about or anything freaky like that…it was more subtle. Like if Patrik mentioned going somewhere, my first thought would be to call up Jason and find out if he wanted to come with us. It was just so natural, second nature. At first I just thought it was because we were best friends. I mean, best friends like to hang out together a lot, right? Just like brothers. Only, Jason was definitely not my brother. And then there were those awful moments like when I wished Patrik wasn’t tagging along. Even that thought in itself! We were all friends and I was in love with Patrik--he shouldn’t be “tagging along” to anything. I should want him there with us, right? Patrik flipped off the television and ran his index finger across my forehead, brushing away the hair that fell over my eyes. It was all so frustrating…and all Jason’s fault. If only he’d find a girl and start dating her, seriously dating her then I wouldn’t…I wouldn’t… I shoved that thought to the back of my head. Back along with every other thought dealing with Jason as I tried to focus on Patrik. I scooted my body upwards and smiled. ‘You love, Patrik. You love him,’ I repeated to myself. ‘Everything else is just crazy talk.’ I kissed him, wrapping my arms around him. I could feel his hands move under my shirt as we kissed. A kiss so wonderful, and so soft and gentle… …and so not what I wanted. I sighed, pulling away. “Patrik, do you ever…” He smiled lazily. “Ever what?” “Ever think about, like kissing other people?” He stiffened. “Like who?” I looked down at his shirt. “Nobody.” Patrik lifted my chin, searching my eyes. “What’s this about? Are you having second thoughts about our relationship? Are--” “No, no! I love you. I was just…wondering,” I finished lamely. He shook his head, running a hand through his hair. I could already tell he was writing this off in his head as another crazy-Petr moment. “About?” “Do you ever wonder what it would be like to kiss Jason?” He laughed, but then coughed, calming himself. “Are you serious? Uh, hate to break this to you, but Jason’s straight.” I scowled. “I know that. It was a hypothetical question of sorts.” He rolled his eyes. “Fine then. No.” “Why not?” “What do you mean, why not? Because it’s a hypothetical situation! And he’s not my type.” “Not your type? What’s your type?” “You.” He smiled. I rolled my eyes. “Cute, but seriously, you aren’t attracted to him at all?” “I don’t understand your fascination with this. No, I’m not attracted to him.” I fidgeted. “Not a bit? He’s not ugly and--” He ran a finger along my lips like he always did when I was beginning to ramble. “He’s not ugly,” he conceded. “I just wouldn’t be looking for that kind of relationship. I guess I’m just at a point in my life where I’m ready to ‘settle down.’ I don’t need that kind of thing; it’s just not as appealing as it used to be.” “What kind of relationship?” “A purely physical one. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jason, it’s just that…I don’t think any of his relationships really have any substance to them. I’m not looking for a one-night stand. I’m perfectly content with my relationship with you.” “That answer has nothing to do with what I asked you. I asked you if you were attracted to him.” “Not when I have you.” “So you’d do him if you were single?” He groaned and smacked his forehead. The phone rang and he rolled out of bed. “Hopefully that’s a sane person on the phone,” he called as he walked into the other room. I bit my lip and flopped back on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. I don’t know what I had been expecting, or rather, wanting Patrik to say, but I knew that wasn’t it. Patrik reentered the room with the cordless. “Jason wants to know if we’re up to going out tonight. I told him you were insane and might have to be sent to an institution before the night was over, but he seems to want to take his chances. You game?” I nodded and he left again, presumably to talk about the plans for the night. I take it back. I knew exactly what I wanted Patrik to say. I wanted him to validate the feelings I was having for Jason. I wanted him to say he was attracted to Jason too. That way it wasn’t just me; it was a Patrik and me thing. It would mean it was some stupid attraction thing that would blow over--wouldn’t have any substance to it. He came back in the room and lied down next to me. He gave me a half-smile and stroked my cheek. “Okay, I have an answer. He does that weird disgusting thing with his cereal. He takes a spoonful, scrapes it along his teeth, sucks all the milk from it, and then mooshes it up against his teeth.” I laughed and closed my eyes, kissing him. // Well, we all seemed to have our problems, didn’t we? I later learned Jason was upset at the hotel because he had felt that our relationship had pretty much plateaued. He wasn’t quite sure if he was in love with me yet at the time, but sex seemed to be the next logical step in his mind. The fact that I was a guy and in a relationship already seemed to be a bit of a hindrance. We were best friends, though, and for some reason he wanted to explore those new feelings with me. So there he was, trying to avoid an emotional relationship at all costs--only looking towards the physical. And there I was, trying to forget all those physical thoughts and seeking an emotional relationship. So basically we were both getting the urge to jump one another. And both desperately trying to avoid that at all costs. You know what? Fuck that. All that rambling mumbo jumbo that I’ve been spewing out. The real truth was that, yes, like I said before, we were both mutually attracted to one another. But Jason also didn’t want to admit that he might have more than just a physical attraction towards me. He wanted it to be about sex--like he was just curious or something. And I wanted it to be about something more. I wanted it to be about love and something far deeper, and in my mind, far greater than a physical attraction. I wanted a freaking love affair or something stupid like that. I wanted to be a deep, emotional, great guy. But the truth was that I just thought he was hot. And that’s the ugly truth that we were both trying to ignore. I’m a fairly shallow guy and he’s emotionally dysfunctional. Or at least we were until we both realized we were in love with each other. Yeah, I’m lying again. We still are, we’re just in love with each other now. // I thought it would go away eventually. I must have tried everything. Avoiding him, spending too much time with him, spending all my time with Patrik, throwing myself into hockey…nothing worked. If anything, my attraction just grew stronger. And, of course, this couldn’t have happened like five years ago before I even knew Patrik or fell in love with him. No, it had to happen now--right when I was completely in love with him. But the thing that was really freaking me out was that I was starting to become okay with it. I had come to terms with my attraction to Jason and well, hello, that’s a pretty freaky thing. I had a boyfriend who I was in love with, completely attracted to. Why was I attracted to someone else? And why exactly was my brain telling me that it was okay? Because this wasn’t your run of the mill attractions. It wasn’t a “oh look, that guy is hot,” kind of thing that you joke around with your boyfriend. And the fact that I was seriously contemplating acting on those feelings wasn’t reassuring in the least. So here I was on our latest road trip (which I was already wary of--road trips hadn’t exactly meant good luck for me lately) freaked out beyond belief. It didn’t help that Patrik was at home either. He hadn’t been producing lately, and with my numbers as of late, I probably wouldn’t be playing when we got home. I heard some muffled talking in the hallway and then my door opened. “Heya, Petr.” “Hi, John. Jason.” I tried the nod thing and John got a strange look on his face while Jason stifled a laugh, so again, I could tell that I had done it wrong. “What’s with the bags?” “Oh.” Jason looked down at his suitcase. “These?” No, the other ones, Einstein. He sure was acting funny. “John and I are switching rooms. He said he was a heavy sleeper so he should be able to put up with Bill’s snoring.” John grabbed his suitcase from the closet, and then clapped Jason on the back. “I can sleep through anything.” “Thanks again.” “No problem.” The two switched electronic key cards and John waved goodbye before leaving. Jason dropped his suitcase on the stand in the closet, and then sat on his bed. “This is awesome.” I grunted in response. His giddiness, almost, was surprising. Or maybe it was just me. I was rather depressed with the whole mess that was going on in my head and Patrik wasn’t there to talk to or make me feel better. “You want to go out tonight? Curfew’s a little earlier because we have a day game tomorrow, but we can still hit a few places.” “Nah, I want to watch t.v.” “Anything good on?” “I like this one.” He looked from me, to the television, and back to me. “This one?” “Yeah.” “Petr, the television’s off.” “Yep. Your point?” I rolled over onto my side, burying my head in my pillow. “Go ahead and go out with the other guys. I’m cool here.” I heard a bit of shuffling and then the door slam. I sighed, relaxing. Great, so now I got to be roommates with-- Something jumped on the bed beside me and grabbed me, so of course, defense mechanisms kicked in immediately. I shrieked. I recognized the laughing behind me and the angry pounding on the wall. “Stop messing around over there, rookies!” Stevens yelled through the wall. Jason calmed down. “Did you really think I was going to leave you here alone?” I turned my head to glare at him. I tried to breathe regularly to slow my heat beat down. Which was a little hard to do considering my heart was still stuck in my throat. “I had only hoped,” I quipped. Oh yeah, and a little hard to do considering his hand was still resting on my waist near my hip. He turned me so I was lying on my back and patted my stomach. “All right, what’s the matter? Don’t tell me you miss Patrik already. We’ve only been out of the state for a few hours.” I rolled my eyes. “And if I do?” “You are seriously whipped.” We both laughed, but I stopped long before he did, increasingly aware that his thumb was rubbing back and forth over my stomach. Oh God, shoot me now. This was not helping, in fact, I’m pretty sure I’d become a complete and total head case before the night was over. “Seriously, though, what’s the matter?” “Oh no, we can’t be serious.” “Answer the question, Czech boy.” “Nothing. I’m just tired, you know?” “Fine, don’t tell me.” He removed his hand from my stomach and brushed the hair on my forehead. “What are you doing?” “Nothing,” he mimicked. He pulled his hand away and lied down beside me, throwing an arm over me. Dear lord, he was spooning me. “What the hell are you doing?” And yes, I’m pretty sure he noticed that my voice went an octave higher. “Nothing.” He placed his head on my shoulder. Now common sense would say to just get up and move, but I was frozen in place and my mind wasn’t exactly helping me at this point. His body was flush against mine, the heat of his skin searing through my cotton shirt. “I think you’re doing something.” “Am I making you uncomfortable?” As if I wasn’t freaked out enough before, now I had to put up with feeling his voice vibrate against my chest? A total miracle I didn’t pass out. A total miracle I was still able to talk. “Yes. No.” I wasn’t making any sense, but at least I could still move my mouth and form sounds. He laughed. “Tell me what’s wrong and I’ll move.” Thinking was hard enough and I wasn’t exactly prepared to tell him, nor did I actually want to. “Any time now, Petr.” I closed my eyes trying to center myself and forget where he was lying. Eventually I was able to muster something comprehensible. “You’ve been hanging out with Patrik and I too much. You’re starting to get touchy feely on me. Pretty soon you’ll develop actual feelings and lose your commitment phobia.” He sat up on his left elbow, staring at me. “Are you going to answer the question or what?” “No.” And then he kissed me. On instinct I kissed him back, wrapping my arms around him, putting a hand on the back of his neck to pull him close. It was hot and rushed, sloppy almost in our frenetic pace to get as close as possible to one another. His chest was pushed up against mine and his leg was flush up against my thigh. We were finally able to breathe again as we separated to pull his shirt over his head. I ran a hand across his shoulder, breathing deeply. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked. He nodded and I kissed him again. // Like I said, I’m no Einstein. But I’m not the biggest idiot on the entire planet. I eventually pulled away from him, horny as hell, and feeling guilty as hell. This wasn’t cut and dry. I loved Patrik and I would never want to hurt him. Which is why Jason and I both decided that what happened wasn’t going to leave that room. There was no reason for Jason or I to be that selfish as we had already been selfish (and stupid) enough. You know what, I take it back. I am one of the biggest idiots on the planet. Because three and a half weeks later, our season well over, I said one of the stupidest things ever. I’d like to blame it on the alcohol or the crazy movie we were watching, but, no, it was just my stupidity. Jason says it’s the best thing I ever said because it led to the two of us eventually getting together. I can’t argue his logic, but at the same time I don’t think Jason ever truly realized the effect of what I said had on Patrik. // “My boyfriend left me for a punctuation mark,” Jason deadpanned. Patrik and I laughed. “Jason,” I corrected, “that’s not from a Kevin Smith movie.” “Oh.” He stared at bottle in his hand as if it held all the answers in the world. “Damn.” “And negative billion points for the hetero,” Patrik stated, laughing. Jason stuck his tongue out. “My turn. Uh…I’m in the room, asshole.” I shook my head. “Same wrong movie. Negative one hundred points for the homo.” Jason and Patrik clanked their bottles together in celebration. “We’ll make it a Kevin Smith movie,” Jason proclaimed. “This game is much harder when you’re drinking,” Patrik continued. “My turn,” I announced. “You, me, the three of us…” I paused for dramatic effect. “We all need to sleep with each other.” Patrik chucked a napkin at my head. “That was so badly paraphrased. Even slightly buzzed, I can still tell when you’re making this stuff up.” “Yeah, boo! Making this stuff up,” Jason echoed. “You lose fifty billion points bringing your total to…three,” Patrik tallied. “You still win. How is that possible? You suck.” “You suck,” Jason repeated. I clasped my hands together and waved them over my head in mock-celebration. “This was a stupid game, anyway. We need to play a real man’s game to determine which one of us reigns supreme.” “NHL 1997.” Jason grinned at Patrik’s suggestion. “The ultimate game--” “Winner is supreme.” “The supremest.” “Supreme-o-rama.” I groaned while the two sat in silence, a bit glazed over at the thought of “reigning supreme” and also probably because they were more than a little buzzed and it took a while for anything to register. They glanced at each other then jumped into action. “You get the game!” “You get the controls!” “Petr, set up the PlayStation!” they yelled all at once, before running around the apartment. Slowly, I plugged the PlayStation in. I was a bit bitter. After all, I had already won the movie game! I was supreme. I sighed. Plus, I sucked at video games so I was sure to lose. Something with my coordination…Patrik said it explained why I had problems with the head-nod thingy. I didn’t get it--I was a hockey player, I shouldn‘t have coordination problems. Jason said it was probably because all my good genes went towards hockey, so I was left wanting in other areas. The two were too highly amused with my lack of coordination. The two ran in from the other room and jumped on the couch where I was already. They shoved the game inside and began the game. I was between them, so they had to lean forward to talk. “Dude, I’ll play you for Petr. If I win, he’s my slave for the next year.” “What?” I yelled. “Deal,” Patrik replied. “But if I win, he’s my slave for the next year.” “I’m cool with that.” “I’m not!” My cries went unheard and they began playing the game. It lasted for about three hours, well into late night, early morning. By the time they were ready to pass out, however, they were still tied for wins. It had kept accumulating and they had kept playing, each responding to the other’s win with a “two out of three,” or “twelve out of sixteen!” So before they actually passed out, they decided to split me. No, not like six months as Jason’s slave and six months as Patrik’s, but actually right down the middle. It’s a good thing we didn’t own a saw, or I’m pretty sure they would have used it. // Now, I tell that memory for two reasons. One, it set up the ridiculous idea that I eventually had. Well, it doesn’t seem so ridiculous once you’ve actually done it…just border-line crazy. But also because I think a lot of people forget that Jason and Patrik were really close friends too. It wasn’t just a me and Jason, me and Patrik thing. We really were all close. Which actually made my idea sort of make sense. Three close people. Three close attractive people. There’s bound to be an attraction between all three. And if they’re all friends then well…okay, it sounded like a really bad idea when Holden mentioned it, and it sounds like a really bad idea now. Which is why, of course, an idiot like me thought it was the perfect solution. // “You want to do what?” “Are you serious? Or just on crack?” “He can’t be serious. I mean…why would you even suggest such a thing?” “Obviously, he had his reasons.” “Yeah, crack-head reasons.” “We should probably hear him out. Listen to what he has to say--his reasons.” “You want to sleep with him, don’t you?” “All I said was that we should hear him out.” “You do!” I covered my face with my hands as they sparred off. I mentally thanked myself for choosing to broach the question at home and not in a crowded restaurant. Finally, after hearing enough I threw up my hands. “Look, there’s obvious sexual tension between all three of us.” “Oh really, Petr? Because I don’t think so.” I sighed and turned to Jason. “There’s tension between us. I think all three of us recognized that. It’s just been building and building and--” “Oh, God, I’m on a soap opera.” “Do you mind?” “A bad one,” Patrik murmured. I shook my head. “And I’ve been wracking my brain for a solution.” “And the one that popped out at you was, ‘hey, why don’t I have sex with you and my boyfriend?’” Patrik asked in disbelief. “Yes,” I replied, exasperated. “Patrik, I love you. And I have no idea why I’m having these feelings towards Jason. The only solution I can think of is, well…this. Satiate those urges and then get them out of my system. But I’d never want to hurt you--so I want you to be a part of it. And you can’t tell me the two of you aren’t attracted to one another, too.” “Okay,” he started slowly. “Let’s back up a bit. Get them out of your system, you say? What if they don’t go away?” “I, uh.” Hadn’t been prepared for that question. “Of course, they’ll go away. This is just a one time thing. Right, Jason? This is just a curiosity thing we need to get rid of.” He sat their dumbly for a few seconds before finally nodding his head. “But you’re straight!” Patrik protested. “Exactly, I responded for him. “No feelings involved. This is just a..uh, a physical thing. Simple curiosity.” He still didn’t seem convinced. “This isn’t just about Jason and me. We’re doing this too. Our relationship will be even stronger…and the bond the three of us share will be even stronger.” “Are you going to steal any more lines from that movie?” he spat out. I bit my lip. After a few moments of silence, surprisingly, it was Jason who spoke up. “Petr’s right. While his method may be a little off, we still need to do something about this, about us. And frankly, the idea of being with either one of you isn’t…exactly a turn-off. And I--” He broke off, flushing a bit. “I guess I’d feel more comfortable since you guys are my best friends than if…well, if the proposition hadn‘t come from one of you guys, I probably would have punched the guy‘s lights out.” “Oh, that’s just great.” “Patrik.” I paused. “So is that a yes?” He nodded. “Patrik,” I began. “I just don’t want things to change between us,” he replied hoarsely. “I love you. They won’t.” “You don’t know that. “You’re stealing movie lines.” He glared at me. I smiled. “One night.” I urged him mentally. I don’t think he realized how big a thing this thing between Jason and I had grown to. Or how much I needed this. I think somewhere in the back of my twisted little mind, I actually wanted a threesome more than I wanted to just have sex with Jason. Probably so I wouldn’t feel guilty. That thought was a little harder to swallow. I’d been selfish before, but the audacity of myself, the entire extremeness of the proposition…I don’t think they reflected too highly upon how I viewed our relationship. Or for that matter, Patrik. And I loved Patrik, which just made me more of a bastard in my own mind. Geez, I wish I had done this when they were drunk. When I was drunk. That way if they had said no, I could have just brushed it off as being drunk. He stared at me a minute longer before nodding. I swallowed, not quite sure how to react. Eventually Jason spoke up again. “How about we choose a night? That way, if anyone of us decides to back out at the last moment, we just don’t show up.”