Chapter 2: Keenan
For a second Keenan thought he must have drunk too much the previous night and this was an alcohol fuelled hallucination, then he blinked and Coach Hernandez was still standing there looking expectantly at him. He nodded, gaze firmly planted on the wall opposite and nowhere near the cloud of lemon tinged sweetness that was his least favourite teammate. Linemate. At least for this practice. The coaches wanted to try them out together, as if it wasn't obviously a bad idea, as if they hadn't asked Keenan if he could handle having an omega on the team before making an offer for Johnson.
Keenan, damn his pride and his principles both, had said yes. He didn't know why the kid was getting traded, but someone that talented and that young shouldn't go to waste. He deserved a second chance.
He wasn't naïve not to know a lot of alphas wouldn't give it to him. But whatever Johnson thought, not all alphas were the same. And, after all, Johnson was a man and Keenan was only interested in women. It'd been easy to be generous.
And now karma was laughing in his face because not only did Johnson's scent mean that they were compatible to some extent, but the coaches were considering breaking their best line to give the new kid a chance to shine. It was criminal that Mike and Diego were wasting most of Johnson's passes, sure, but that didn't mean Keenan could play on the same ice as Johnson and perform. He didn’t see how he could deal with the distraction of Johnson's subtly shifting scent when he was trying to do his job and score.
Like right now, Johnson's scent was going from unpleasantly surprised—acidic—to the cold determination that characterised him on the ice. It was even more unnerving because he looked so bloody innocent—his blond hair flopping messily over his forehead as he tilted his head to the side to listen to Coach Hernandez’s instructions—a sweet faced angel, really… until one looked and saw the cold fire in his eyes. But most people must not have been looking.
And then they were on the ice together facing Mike, Diego and Siuf. Keenan tried and failed to fake a right—Mike knew him too well to fall for it and took the puck from him. The guy was a sweetheart off the ice, but his bulk, more befitting a defender than a centre forward, kept Keenan straining to keep up even with speed on his side. Somehow, though, in the next thirty seconds, Johnson zoomed past on his left and stole the puck from Siuf.
Keenan had imagined he'd lose track of the puck if he was focusing on Johnson, but his body had been trained to follow that little piece of rubber around as if his life depended on it for too long. In any case, for a lot of the game, Johnson had the puck and he was usually passing it to Keenan. Easy and smooth and coming exactly from where Keenan was expecting it because in a matter of minutes Johnson had become the easiest linemate to track in the history of his career. It was uncanny. He scored for a second time. Thomas’s assist, except it had been Johnson's play. He had met Keenan's eyes for a nanosecond and determined he was too well covered by the opposing defence to receive and moved on to their linemate without breaking stride. It had given Keenan a few seconds to get rid of Bobby and Morgan, just fast enough to get Thomas’s pass and push the puck into the net. It had almost been too easy.
The coaches shouted something complimentary, words Keenan didn't quite catch. Or need. They were on fire. There were no words for what was happening to him... to them. He had never played like this with anybody before, not even with the linemates he had played all the way through school.
Except there were some words: a lot of praise and then what they had all been thinking, what Keenan knew was true. They had to take this to the next game.
He hesitated before leaving the ice to get changed. If it had been a good game, he'd have said so. But how could he tell Johnson it was the best he had ever clicked with anybody on the ice in his life? Thomas knocked his gloved hand against his shoulder just hard enough to be felt through the padding. "Wow, man. What even!"
Keenan nodded and only then noticed he was grinning like a maniac. "Wow indeed." He returned Thomas’s friendly punch, then added, "Great pass." He braced himself to repeat the comment to Johnson, whose brief glances during the game had been the longest they had shared in the months of knowing each other. But before he had a chance, the rink's door clicked shut and he turned to see Johnson had walked out and closed it behind himself. The subtlest fuck you, but a clear one nonetheless.
Thomas raised his eyebrows at Keenan. "Bit of a temper, huh?"
Keenan shrugged. He didn't know what the guy's problem was, Keenan had just been taking a moment before thanking him as well. Couldn't he give him a minute before he started to slam doors and act like a total teenager?