Man Advantage: Neighbors form an unusual arrangement to share custody of a dog, and the pair soon find themselves falling for one another.
"There’s no such thing as luck," Jonny says, and Patrick groans.
"Are you serious? Last time she watched a game with me, Buffalo got a shutout. A shutout. Do you know how rare that is?”
"Why should I care if Buffalo wins?"
"Look," Patrick says, trying his best not to sound aggravated. Judging by the way Cabbage’s tail drops, he doesn’t succeed. "Look," he tries again, "if it doesn’t matter to you, then why do you even care if I take the dog tonight?"
Jonny mutters something, low and quick, and it takes Patrick’s brain a few seconds to turn the sounds into coherent words.
"Because I like her company."
Cabbage butts at Jonny’s hand and he starts scratching her ear - the floppy one, not the one that sticks up all crooked.
Patrick swallows. “I have an idea.”
They end up in Jonny’s apartment (because his TV is objectively better, and he has the specs to prove it), and by the time the puck drops, Patrick’s settled on one end of Jonny’s short couch and Jonny’s slouched easily at the other, one arm slung up over the back, Cabbage sitting on his leg. Every time a whistle blows, her tail slaps into Jonny’s stomach, and fuck. It’s cute.
It’s really cute.
The whole thing almost distracts Patrick from the game entirely, but then the volume rises, and when he looks, Stafford is breaking down the ice at full speed. He pulls it backhand and Rask goes for it, what the fuck, then Stafford’s flipping it in easy.
"Yes!" Patrick shouts. "Did you see that?"
Jonny chuckles. “I saw it.”
"Fuck you and your luck shit," Patrick says, thick with pride. "She’s a charm." Cabbage leans towards him, eyes bright, and he can’t help it; he buries his hands in her fur and coos, "Who’s my good luck charm, huh? Who’s Kaner’s little charm? Is it you?"
Cabbage’s front paws dance on the cushion between them and she surges up to lick his face. Patrick tips his head just a little, struggling to keep her tongue on his chin and not his mouth, and when she pulls back, he swipes one bare arm over his face and laughs.
Jonny’s eyes are on him, which Patrick expected, but he doesn’t look disturbed or judgmental. He’s smiling. He’s smiling, small and real, just a lopsided crook of his lips, so warm that Patrick can feel ears burning. Patrick tamps down, “That’s a good look on you,” says instead, “What? What’s so funny?”
Jonny shrugs one shoulder and lifts his chin towards the screen. “Watch your game.”