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Cracking Ice 


Prologue: Keenan 


There was no sex in the world as good as the feeling of your puck hitting the back of the net. Keenan stood still for a moment, feeling the rush hit his bloodstream all at once, his heartbeat speeding and his cheeks flushing. There was simply nothing like being enveloped in the sweaty embrace of men whose bodies had worked so perfectly with yours that it was almost as if you were one person. And they had accomplished this without even touching.  

Compared to that, there was little merit in fucking, even if the ladies smelt so much nicer. Keenan expected sex with an omega to be different, but he wasn't about to risk hockey for a chance at bonding and there wasn't really any other way for an alpha to find his way to an omega's bed. Bonding was a nice dream to have for retirement, but too dangerous for a young successful player. It was unfortunate but a lot of omegas found it too hard to be away from their alphas for the prolonged periods of time required of a hockey player. Keenan didn't want to do that to someone, keep something they needed from them, and he definitely didn't want to do that to someone he had a psychic bond with. So hockey won, like it usually did in any competition where Keenan was judge, and if he was tempted… well, it was worth resisting. 

Still, he thought as the sticky sweet smell of caramel filled his nose as soon as he opened the door to get out of the rink, he didn't have any rational objections to having an omega on the team. 

Or he hadn't until he had met Cartwright Johnson. Johnson had smelt like he had bathed in a bakery until he’d caught sight of Keenan and the sweetness had turned bitter like burnt cake. He had pretended for the beta managers and teammates, said all the pleased-to-meet-yous and even talked about some of Keenan's moves on the ice with admiration that wasn't, Keenan thought, completely faked. But he couldn't act over his unease, and Keenan couldn't stop smelling it. He was an alpha and he was meant to keep omegas safe: the presence of an omega who was so profoundly uncomfortable with him was hard to take... and it was just plain hard to like someone who disliked you so much. That was rational enough for Keenan, even if he didn't really believe it was rational enough to bring up to the managers and coaches. 

After weeks of playing together, Johnson had stopped jumping every time Keenan entered a room he was in. He seemed to get that Keenan wasn't going to try and order him around or whatever other prejudices against alphas he was holding, but it still wasn't anywhere near comfortable. 

More than anything, Keenan wished he didn't have to lose the rush of the goal to the wave of longing that hit him every time he was around Johnson. It was just pheromones, compatible pheromones, which Keenan had never experienced with a male omega. It wasn’t unpleasant, exactly, but it was… unsettling. He didn’t like men sexually—as much as he’d been teased for it, he was exclusively attracted to women. And here came this guy who hated his guts and his body started trying to convince him it would be an excellent plan to eat him up. 

Worse still, his own scent had to give him away to Johnson because the tension between them was unbearable even with his gaze firmly planted on the bench and Santiago's grinning face. He imagined them as two predators carefully circling each other, not planning to attack but prepared for it nonetheless. Never able to relax in the other's presence.  

It was exhausting. 

And he still couldn’t say anything. Not just for Johnson’s sake, but because once the door to the rink closed with Johnson's line on the other side, it was impossible to look away from the figure cutting across the ice almost faster than the eye could track. The sheer difficulty of moving so deftly at such high speed was compounded by the other nine moving bodies on the ice. It would have been impressive on an empty rink, but seeing Johnson speed between players left Keenan spellbound to the point where he sometimes forgot to follow the progress of the puck in favour of watching the left winger. 

Johnson actually twirled, then twisted his body in the opposite direction with the same impulse and got around a defender twice his size, then made a perfect pass like he hadn't noticed the abrupt movement in front of his eyes at all. Keenan’s alternate, Mike Patel, fumbled the reception—having just got free from his own defender—and the shot hit the post and bounced off. 

There were groans and barely muffled curses on the bench, but Keenan couldn't make a sound. He was biting his lip too hard to keep his fury at bay. He forced himself to take a deep breath, confused. Why was he so angry? He had scored, and they were still winning. There would be other chances, like there always were. But it had been such perfect pass; it seemed sacrilegious Mike hadn't turned it into an equally perfect goal. Johnson wasn't taking it much better, he saw, his movements were stiff and stilted where they had been smooth and flawless before. The way Johnson acted around him, Keenan could have been glad on some level, but he felt even sorrier for Johnson than he did for Mike, who must have been feeling the failure more personally. It was utterly unfair that someone could do something so beautiful and have to see it destroyed. 

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