Jeff should have known something was up when Kent cracked his door open to squint at who was on the other side. “Oh, it’s just you,” he said, even though Jeff always came by on Sunday nights with beer and takeout. “Get in here, quick,” he said shiftily as he pulled Jeff in.
“What’s wrong?” Jeff asked. His mind supplied a dozen different scenarios where Kent was the target of an assassination, and this was the part just before the bad guys started shooting up the house, and he and Kent would have to go on the run. Huh. Thanks, Hollywood.
“I lost the baby,” Kent said anxiously as Jeff followed him into the kitchen.
“I went to the bathroom and when I came back, I couldn’t find her.”
Jeff put the bags of food and the six-pack on the counter. “Okay, well, where did you see her last? Is she crawling? Can she walk? And for fuck’s sake, where did you get a baby!?”
Kent was on his hands and knees, opening the bottom cupboards of his kitchen and peering into his open pantry. “She’s fast. I’ve been trying to get a good picture of her all afternoon, but she won’t let me.”
“Did you try calling her?”
“Duh,” Kent said, rolling his eyes. “Here,” he said, tossing Jeff a bag of something. “You try.”
Jeff read the label and furrowed his brow in confusion. “Uh, Parser, these are cat treats.”
“Oh my god, is your baby actually a cat!?” Jeff exclaimed as it suddenly dawned on him. “You fucker! When did you get a cat?”
“Excuse you! She’s still a baby!” Kent retorted as he left the kitchen, presumably to look for his baby cat in a different room of the apartment.
Feeling a lot less panicked, Jeff tossed the bag of cat treats back onto the table and went in search of the bathroom down the hallway. He’d just pulled down the fly of his jeans when he heard a little meow. He jumped in surprise, but then heard the same sound again. Pulling back the shower curtain, Jeff found himself looking down at the missing cat. It meowed again, and launched up onto the edge of the tub.
“Hiding in the bathroom, huh? You little pervert,” he muttered as he opened the bathroom door. “I found her,” he called.
Moments later, Kent appeared, looking entirely too excited. “Aw, Princess! I was looking for you!” he said, gathering her up in his arms. He pulled out his phone and the cat immediately tried to wiggle her way out. “No, come on! I just want a nice picture,” Kent pouted.
He tried to balance her in one arm while pulling up the camera app in the other hand, but it was a losing battle. Just when it look like the cat was about to fall, Jeff reached out to grab her. For a moment, he was afraid that she was going to dig her claws into him, but she stopped and stared at him curiously with her head tipped to the side.
“Oh, hold still!” Kent said, and Jeff heard the shutter of the camera go off. “Nice!” He held up the phone to show Jeff the picture of him and the cat looking equally baffled by each other. “One more!” he said as he wrapped an arm around Jeff’s shoulders to take a quick selfie. “These are getting posted asap.”
Jeff groaned as he leaned over to let the cat gently jump down. “Great, now can you both please leave so I can use the bathroom.”
A little later, when he and Kent were spread out on the couch, eating the food that Jeff had brought and watching a terrible action movie from 80′s, the notifications on his phone started rolling in.
congrats guys! totally expecting a team speech on monday! drinks are on u 2, right? Jeff frowned at his teammate’s weird text, and the subsequent texts from other teammates that all congratulated him and Kent.
The next text was from his sister. dude! did you and kenny p adopt a cat? does that mean im a cat aunt now?
Even his grandma had sent him a message. I am very proud of you and I love you. I hope you’re bringing him home for thanksgiving ;)
It wasn’t until Jeff got to his father’s text that the other shoe dropped. I’m happy for you and Kent Parson announcing your relationship. It’s time you did something other than moon over him, but at least zip up your pants next time you two put a picture up.
“Uh, Parse?” Jeff said as he leaned forward, scrolling through the hundreds of comments on social media. Some website had already put together a supposed timeline of their relationship. “Parser, people on the internet think we’re dating.”
“Hmm?” Kent dug his own phone from where it was wedged between the sofa cushions. “Oh yeah, I guess you didn’t zip up your fly,” he said, laughing like it wasn’t a big deal as he scrolled through his own notifications.
“We need to correct them. Put out a tweet or something.”
“Nah,” Kent said casually as he threw his phone back on the couch.
Jeff gaped at him. “Doesn’t this… bother you?”
“No,” he shrugged.
“Why?” Jeff was dimly aware he was on the edge of hyperventilating. He knew he’d never have a chance with Kent, but he’d always carried around that small flicker of uncertain hope. And now, it was about to dashed to pieces when Kent finally laid it out he wasn’t ever going to be interested.
“Because I was going to ask you anyways.”
There was a long moment of silence that was only punctuated by the explosions and lame dialogue from the TV. “Ask me what?” Jeff finally said.
“If you wanted to, you know, date.”
“Date?” he echoed back.
“I like you. A lot. And Kit likes you too.” Hearing her name, the cat appeared and eagerly jumped up on the couch between them. “See?”
“I–” Jeff started before stopping trying to wrap his mind around everything that just happened. “I like you, too,” he finally said haltingly. He could feel the constriction gradually lesson in his chest.
Kent gave him a fond smile that made Jeff’s insides flutter and he reached over to grab his hand. “Good,” he said.
i’ve definitely written a headcanon on this (in my ancient ‘bee writes’ tag) but i still wanna read a thing where Tater comes over to Vegas on Kent’s birthday to celebrate, just the two of them. He usually goes out to celebrate with the team, but this year apparently everyone else has other plans for the Fourth of July and they didn’t seem keen on inviting Kent for some reason, which hurts a little bit, since he thought he’d finally integrated himself by this point), but it’s nothing Kent isn’t used to.
After being wined and dined that night, Kent is not exactly drunk but he’s definitely giggly and can’t keep his hands off Tater as they stumble back to the apartment. Tater picks him up when they exit the elevator, to Kent’s delight, and he makes a half-squeal as he wraps his legs around Tater’s waist.
“Key’s in my back pocket,” Kent says mid-kiss, tangling his fingers in Tater’s hair. There’s just something so great about Tater being able to hoist Kent up like he weighed nothing. The fact that his teammates forgot his birthday isn’t even bothering Kent anymore, not when his boyfriend has his hands all over Kent’s ass.
They’re making out heavily by the time Tater gets the door open. It’s also about when they hear the sound of an entire hockey team from inside the apartment scream: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KENT FUCKING PARS–oh, Jesus fuck–”
When Jeff came back from the bathroom, Kent was already slurring his words and half-draped over Dougie. Everyone else was either at the bar or on the dance floor, and the rookie flashed pleading eyes towards Jeff. Whatever hero worship that Parse inspired in the rookies was long gone by this point.
“Okay, Parser, why don’t we let Dougie have some personal space,” Jeff said, attempting to pull Kent the opposite direction he was leaning.
“‘M showing him pictures of Kit,” Kent said, but he was distracted long enough that Dougie could slip out. He mouthed thank you to Jeff before disappearing into the crowd, presumably to join the other rookies. Kent squinted at Jeff in confusion. “I wasn’t done,” he complained.
“I’ll look at pictures of your cat with you,” Swoops said as he settled into the booth.
Kent immediately leaned in, close enough that Jeff could smell the scent of Kent’s soap and the beer he’d been drinking. There was a swooping motion in his stomach that he ignored. “Swoops, look at my girl,” Kent said. “This is her wearing my hat.”
Jeff patiently sat pictures of Kent’s cat taken at every imaginable angle. After Kent was done with the hat pictures, he started on the bow tie ones, and Jeff silently marveled at how patient this cat was with putting up with Kent’s constant need to dress her up. He thought of the orange tabby cat he had grown up with and how that cat would have clawed and bitten anyone who wasn’t his sister that tried to pet it.
Kent had been slowly leaning in closer and closer until he was practically tucked up against Jeff’s chest this point. He was warm against him, and part of Jeff wanted to wrap an arm around Kent and rub his back. He let himself enjoy the contact, the soft pressure, for several guilty minutes before he finally put a gentle hand on Kent’s wrist to still him. “I think that’s enough for tonight. Let’s get you home.”
Kent looked up at him and blinked slowly. “Wha?”
“Don’t you want to get home to see Kit?”
It was the perfect distraction tactic because Kent looked down at his phone and remembered his cat existed at home. “Yeah, Kit, should go home. She gets lonely,” Kent said.
“Let’s get you a cab.”
“Come home with me,” Kent mumbled. Jeff’s head snapped up to gape at his captain.
“You’re coming with me,” Kent continued. “Come see my cat.”
After a quiet moment of deliberation, Jeff finally said, “Okay.”