Shallow Waters

Written for Sageness, in the event of Midsummer2006. who wanted a Callum character and a Hugh character, and a posible theme of "water". This just happened to be a lucky coincidence that both men have portrayed...Canadian hockey players.

With gigantic, enormous, never-ending thanks to Soupytwist who almost literally held my hand through writer's block, and to Brooklinegirl for always, always coming through, this time just one out of many.

Danny nearly inhaled water as he came up to the surface and saw a splash come from the other side of an otherwise empty pool. He hadn’t wanted anybody bothering him tonight, which was why he’d come to the pool so late, after all the other guys had already left. He was pissed off, and Marie was pissed off, so he thought it’d be a damn good idea to get his exercise where he couldn’t hit anybody. Not till the game, anyway.

And here he was, in a half-dark pool, and somebody else had decided to kill his night after all. Who the fuck had that been, anyway?

Wading through the deep end, he squinted. Whoever it was had short darkish hair. No, not darkish – just dark from the water. Blond.

A blue smudge on one shoulder answered for him. Johansson. The new kid.

Well, relatively. Danny himself had been at it for a little over two years, and he was still considered a total rookie. This was Johansson’s first year out of the baby leagues, and you could smell it on him all over. The kid barely talked to anyone, you had to drag him bodily just to get a drink after practice, and he blushed more than a fifteen year old girl at the senior prom. But he skated like nobody’s business, and yeah, that was a rookie thing, too: head and mind only on the game. The kid meant business, and hey, Danny could respect that. He could totally respect that.

But goddammit all to hell, just this one night, just one, when he needed to be alone – as in, by himself with nobody else around – so fucking badly, the kid made himself into a total nuisance.

Danny sighed and turned around, going for another lap. At least Johansson was quiet about it. All you could hear was the soft splashing of his arms going in and out of the water, over and over. Jesus, did he ever slow down? The splashing echoed deeply against the darkened walls.

Danny swam some ways away, pushing off the tiles every now and then, going for another lap, letting the water take the brunt of his anger. It helped. After a while, even Johansson’s circling presence became part of the background, just another thing that buoyed Danny in and out of the water, propelled him forward and pulled him into a nice rhythm. Even if swimming was just a cherry-on-top addition to his routine, it was his favorite way to exercise. The water, unlike walls or punching bags or people, never seemed to let him down.

Eventually, through different speeds and ways of pretending that the other wasn’t there, they ended up swimming almost in synch, parallel in the deep end. Johansson was always just a few feet ahead of him, his dark blond head bobbing left to right as he came up for gulping breaths and sank back down again. His eyes looked to be squeezed shut, but Danny’s were wide open, just the way he always liked ‘em. He’d blink the water out and swim on, with Johansson going in and out of his eyeline.

He lost time that way, and it helped mellow him out. Marie and Eddie and his parents and everything else in the fucking world receded to the back of his mind, and all that was left was the rhythm of his body against the water, the smell of chlorine, and the sound of Johansson’s arms cutting through the surface of the pool.

Maybe it was better that he wasn’t by himself. Marie’d always said that if left to his own devices, Danny would go nuts and do something stupid, so here was Johansson, making sure that things stayed civil and no janitors came in in the morning to find all the bleachers busted up with a hockey stick.

Danny grabbed onto the wall when he reached it and this time, didn’t push off. He just let himself rest against the edge there, the water lapping at his skin, panted to get his breath back. He closed his eyes, too, pretended he was in the ocean, maybe, or some water hole with a ladder attached to it, like he’d seen in a few places along the coast. But that was kind of stupid, so he opened his eyes back up again and saw that Johansson had stopped on the other side of the pool, his back to Danny, face buried in his hands, propping himself up on the edge there.

Danny watched as Johansson leaned, his back dripping water, until he pushed off and turned around. When he did, Danny could almost see the light blush on his cheeks as he lifted a hand in greeting. Danny nodded in acknowledgement and, yeah, the kid was kind of adorable. He was only three years younger than Danny, but Danny figured that at his twenty three, he was a hell of a lot older than most guys his age. Had a kid, after all. A wife. A hockey career, even. Far as he knew, Johansson didn’t even have a girlfriend, and was rooming with some friend of his in a hole-in-the-wall place up on Wooster Ave.

Put like that, he knew more about Johansson than he’d figured. And he had been watching him. Out of interest. Usually he didn’t care to look at shrinking violets, male or female, ‘cause they didn’t do anything but stand there, and he had no patience for that shit. He preferred ‘em open and honest. Even if people were assholes, at least they were open and honest about being assholes, and he could dig that.

But Johansson was different from the other shrinking violets Danny’d met. Put him in a game and the kid went nuts. You could even see him smiling like a loon, when he didn’t have the full gear on. Danny had never seen him bust in any heads, but that would come with time, that he knew. Johansson had talent, and everybody knew that, and that was why they kept trying to draw him out and wheedle some kind of sociability out of the guy.

It worked sometimes, but Danny could tell he was easily intimidated. He just interacted better one on one.

And even as he thought it, Danny was being proven right. Johansson swam towards him, gliding smoothly through the water like he was born to it. Looked kind of cool from that angle, head on. Danny braced his arms firmer against the edge of the pool and waited for Johansson to reach him.

Didn’t take long, and then Johansson, was grinning at him, pushing wet hair off his forehead and scrubbing at his dripping face.

“Hi Dexter, how are you?” he asked, panting. He was keeping himself afloat in the water, and seemed to be full of cheer from the exercise.

Danny couldn’t not grin back. “Not bad, and yourself? Come here a lot after hours?”

Johansson shrugged and looked down at the water before looking back at Danny’s face. “A few times a week. It’s usually empty, so I-- yeah, a few times a week.” He waded in closer to the edge and Danny turned to watch him grab at the ladder.

“Don’t like company much?” he finally asked, after managing to tear his gaze away from slim, water-slicked fingers. He suddenly wished he had a cigarette before he remembered those mostly went away two years ago and he didn’t even have a pocket to store them in just then.

Johansson shrugged once more, looking off to the side this time. “Not that. It’s just calmer this way. No one to worry about, just, you know…me and the water.”

Danny tipped his chin forward. “Do that with the ice, too?”

Johansson grinned. “Sometimes.”

Danny nodded in the direction of the pool at large. “Sorry I ruined your fun, then. I was going for something similar.”

“Oh.” Johansson’s grin disappeared. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean --”

“Hey, Johansson. Relax. It’s a team pool. We all got a right to be here.”

Johansson nodded seriously and seemed to make an effort at chilling. Jesus, but this kid was high-strung. Danny didn’t like putting a lot of effort into conversations that he hadn’t really initiated, but he was feeling kind of better about the world at this point, and found himself actually glad of Johansson’s company. Danny knew that once you got him going, Johansson could be fun.

After a bit of an awkward silence, Danny pushed off the wall. “Another ten laps?” He threw the question over this shoulder and plunged into the water. Through the heavy waves he felt the vibration of Johansson pushing off after him, and looked back to see the blond head moving side to side, a few feet behind him. He faced front and got back into the rhythm of swimming. In and out, through the water, he swam, with Johansson flanking his rear. He closed his eyes and let the water tell him where to go.

By the time they reached the end of their last lap, Danny’s arms were buzzing with exhaustion, but his head hadn’t felt clearer in a while. He was wired and almost jumpy, felt a bit like after a good game, ready to go out and conquer the world through the bruises.

Johansson was grinning at him from a couple feet away, shaking his head and splashing Danny all over. Danny spluttered and turned away, trying to get the water out of his eyes even as he laughed. Johansson had been smooth about it, but Danny had noticed how he had pushed him - pushed both of them – to go faster, and swim stronger.

Danny turned back around after blinking a few more times. “Where did you learn to swim like that, anyway?”

“Oh, well.” Johansson smiled broadly. “I used to swim at the town pool, and in the summers on the beach, back in Gimli.”

Gimli? What the hell was that? Then Danny remembered that Johansson was a small-town boy, and yeah, leave it to the midlands to come up with a dumb fairy tale name like that. Danny decided not to comment, and instead asked, “Kinda like – swimming in the summer, hockey in the winter?”

“Something like that, yeah.”

Danny nodded. Yeah, that was what his childhood had been about, too, only add in “Vancouver” and “getting high with David on the off days” and that summed up his life before hockey and marriage totally took over. “Yeah. Yeah, me, too.”

He couldn’t help grinning back at Johansson’s dimpled face. What was his first name, Johnny? Yeah, that’s what his roommate called him. Johnny. Danny figured it suited him.

“So, what was it like, growing up in the middle of nowhere?” He settled back against the wall and let his feet come up, treading shallow water. Something was making him want to stay on longer, hang out a bit before hitting the showers.

Johnny snorted lightly, and leaned against the edge himself. “It was good. I mean, it was my childhood, you know? I know that town better than the back of my hand.”

“That small, eh?” Danny teased.

“Pretty much.” Johansson didn’t even seem to notice the dig. “I mean, it was mostly me, my sister, and my best friend, all playing together.”

The way he’d said “best friend” made Danny look at him closer. “Good friend, huh? He hit the ice with you?”

Johnny nodded and looked past Danny somewhere, like the tiled wall was the most fascinating thing on the planet. “Yeah, we played together a lot. Lou tried out with me, when a scout came to our town – Gimli’s famous for hockey, you know? – but he, uh, didn’t quite make it.”

“Bummer,” was all Danny could say to that. His best friend was busy getting a Ph. fucking D. in Microbiology. Hockey wasn’t exactly his main priority, either.

Johansson shrugged and finally looked at him. “Well, we write to each other, and he’s happy for me.” He drew in a long breath and his mouth lifted into a tentative smile. “Did you have a best friend like that?”

Like that. Huh. And what did “that” mean, exactly? Danny realized that this was probably the most absurd conversation he’d had all week, and that actually included Marie and her “you’re fucking married to hockey, Danny, and that’s your fucking baby!” schpiel. He was sitting in a pool, half-naked, talking about his childhood with Johnny Johansson.


And still, he found himself nodding, and was almost surprised when he heard his voice saying, “Yep. He’s at university now. He was the smart one.”

“Huh,” Johnny said, looking at him like Danny was just that fucking fascinating. “I don’t think we had a smart one. Maybe we did.” Another shrug. “It was probably Siggy.”


“Siggy. My twin sister.” Johnny’s mouth twisted into a different kind of smile. “She was the adventurous and cool one. Me and Lou just liked hockey a whole lot. Well, Lou liked cars, too.”

“Huh.” Danny’s hands itched for a cigarette again, and he cursed inwardly. It was maybe time to get out of the pool and get the fuck home. He didn’t move. His mouth did, though. “Yeah, David was definitely the brains. I was the fun-loving one. Taught him to loosen up.” He was still talking. And not stopping. “I’m good at teaching that, actually.”

“Oh yeah?” Johnny smiled – apparently, once you get him going, he never stopped smiling – and ducked his head.

Danny tried to peer at his eyes, and nodded his head. “Yeah. I figure, what’s the point of living, if you can’t have any fun?”

Johansson was looking at him like he was some ancient Chinese philosopher who had just uncovered the meaning of life for him. Danny tried his hardest not to shake his head in disbelief. “What, you never have any fun? Thought you and uh, what’s-his-face, Lou there, had fun.”

Johansson, looking flustered, almost tripped over his tongue. “Well, I mean- yeah, but- now I’m doing hockey, and practicing, and- and it just- doesn’t- uh…”

“Doesn’t feel like you’ve got the time for work and play? Is that what you’re saying?” It made sense. The kid was obviously pushing himself to the limit, and hell, you could tell on the ice, it was paying off, and big time. But Danny almost felt bad. Had no one ever taught him to just let go and chill at all?

“Look, Johnny.” He hadn’t noticed at first that he’d used the kid’s name, but something changed in Johansson’s expression, and the flustered look he had a minute ago began to recede. “You gotta learn to have fun in this hockey life. The kind of fun that has nothing to do with hockey.”

“What- uh, how do you mean?” If Danny hadn’t been looking so closely, he might have even missed Johnny clutching at the ladder harder, but he had been looking, and he hadn’t missed it.

“Well, I mean- hockey is your thing, yeah, but you’ve gotta have outside interests, you know? A life.” He watched the kid’s eyebrows draw together. “Hobbies.” Johnny just stared at him, like he was trying to figure something out. But it wasn’t quite the innocent stare of the ignorant that Danny found himself on receiving end of, and the halogen lights reflected in the water’s surfaced bounced around Johnny’s neck and chin as the water trembled between them.

“Yeah,” Danny said quietly, drawing closer, too. “You know – recreation. Something that you might enjoy that isn’t…a lot of pressure.” He moved even closer, letting his gaze roam over the chiseled chest and shoulders. “Just-“ He stretched his hand out until it was flush with Johnny’s over the ladder. “- some fun.”

Johnny nodded only a little under his gaze, and Danny barely thought at all as he reached out and blindly kissed him. Johnny’s lips tasted like chlorine, the salt overlaying some kind of sweetness, maybe grape gum, he thought. That was as far as thoughts went: he wasn’t thinking after that, just acting. Acting, reacting: the lips under his were soft and – wow – willing. Opening up, letting him in, letting him roam. He clung to the ladder as he slid forward and grabbed the back of Johnny’s head with his free hand.

The wet hair clung to his fingers and he deepened the kiss, slanted his mouth just so, just – yeah, just like that, and felt Johnny responding, kissing him back.

Hot. The temperature around them spiked. Maybe it was just him. Didn’t matter – Johnny’s tongue was slick, a bit rough against his, the smooth over it. Rough, smooth, hot, cold – he pressed his chest to Johnny’s and pushed him up against the wall. Johnny gasped into this mouth, but didn’t let go. Danny felt Johnny’s long legs kicking out in the water and wildly wondered if he should protect the jewels right at that moment, but then Johnny stepped up and Danny realized he’d found leverage against the ladder.

Smart, he thought, just before Johnny clutched at him and practically crushed them together. The fingers he had tried not looking at before were sliding across his back, wetting it all over again. Rivulets ran all down his spine. When he moved his hips forward, just a little, he felt Johnny’s cock hard up against him.

“Oh --” Johnny broke the kiss and looked at Danny through wide eyes. “Oh God --” he added, because Danny had bumped his dick again, just to see if the reaction hadn’t been a fluke. Danny grinned, then, and brought his hand deliberately down, ran a finger against the length of Johnny’s cock. He felt the shudder through the water and all down his skin.

“See?” he asked, and stroked his tongue against the hollow of Johnny’s neck. It was salty and chlorinated and his skin was smooth. “Fun…”

Johnny let out a laugh that seemed to turn into a gasp in two seconds flat. “This is – yeah – oh God – this is fun,” he confirmed. His head fell back and he moaned, because Danny knew what to do with his hands. His mouth sought out Johnny’s neck while his fingers wrapped around Johnny’s cock through his swimming trunks. Johnny couldn’t moan with his head thrown back like that, but Danny felt his breathing speed up. Johnny gasped and Danny pumped him more firmly.

“Yeah,” he breathed against the soft neck that now smelled like him, and drew back a bit to look at Johnny’s face, flushed, almost glowing with it, in the sparse shadows. “Like that, you-- you like that,” he said, and he didn’t even know why his tongue was wagging, but he wanted to talk, wanted Johnny to talk to him, wanted to keep saying shit, wanted to see what it would do this small-town boy with his best-friend crush and wild, adventurous sister.

And Johnny lifted his head back up and started talking, quietly at first, and then getting louder as Danny stroked him harder, the sound lifting up and echoing along every wall, repeating it back to them and releasing. “Oh God, yeah – I like that, oh, oh fuck, just like that --”

Danny hadn’t expected Johnny’s voice to have quite the reaction that it did, but his cock was, apparently, smarter than the rest of him. He’d been hard earlier, but now, fuck, he needed pressure, something to feel against his dick than just wet cotton and water, and he pushed up against Johnny once more, right in the hollow of the hip, where it fit so damn well and felt so fucking good. Danny bit his lip and dropped his head down to Johnny’s shoulder. He found the right rhythm, just the right amount of pressure – to relieve the ache but not bring him off – and twisted his hand so he had a better grip on Johnny’s dick.

Johnny clutched at his head, and now, now the kid just wouldn’t shut up.

“Oh God, Danny, keep-- keep doing that, fuck, feels – feels so good, I can’t --” He was mumbling right into Danny’s ear, and if he thought the earlier ramble was doing him in, this was fucking killing him. The kid hadn’t thought twice about using Danny’s name, and Danny hadn’t expected that – should have, maybe, but hadn’t.

“Ah, Christ!” Danny felt the word rip from his own throat, and like bad smoke it burned on its way out. He was throbbing, pushing harder and harder against Johnny’s hip, spiraling down and out, losing himself in the water. He didn’t even know how his hand kept on going, because then he was coming, shooting right into his trunks, and – Christ, the water, the pool – and he hadn’t realized that he was biting Johnny’s shoulder until his tongue tasted skin. He panted and tried not to make too much noise while he shuddered.

Johnny’s mumbling broke off, and his tongue had found its way to the shell of Danny’s ear, like the words hadn’t penetrated enough, and fuck, Danny was still humping Johnny to the rhythm of his own hand, and he felt the body against his tensing, heard Johnny gasp, and then let out a moan – long, hard, going straight from his ear to Danny’s balls. Danny shook.

A moment later, so did Johnny, and Danny felt it through Johnny’s shorts, slippery and hot and probably seeping into the water along with his own.

Fuck the pool.

He pulled back enough to look at Johnny’s face, though he wasn’t sure what he wanted to see. Johnny’s eyes were closed, dark eyelashes fluttering against his cheeks. He had a dumb grin on his face, the kind you couldn’t mistake for anything else. He was still clutching at him like Danny was the only thing standing between him and some kind of fiery death, and the grip was starting to hurt. Danny shook his head and broke free.

Johnny’s only protest was a short “mmm?” and then he opened his eyes and let go. He was smiling. Danny couldn’t help thinking that those dimples really were adorable.

Then Johnny licked his lips, and leaned in. Another thing Danny hadn’t expected, but he let it be. This kiss was gentler, the sated after-kiss, when tongues only met a bit, to reacquaint, maybe, shake hands for a little while before parting. That was a weird image, but he let that be, too. Johnny’s lips were soft and cool against his. Danny bit the full lower lip, licked it, and finally let go.

And found he didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t thought about Marie since his last lap around the deep end, but now it all caught up to him, like a punch to the gut.

He’d done it again. Wasn’t the first time, and probably wouldn’t be the last. Ironic, though, how this wasn’t really the problem that was tearing at them. It was never this. This she’d understood. It was the hockey that she couldn’t get behind.

Danny closed his eyes and willed himself to chill the fuck out. He’d think about that later. Later, on the drive home, he’ll let the shit come down, but for now, he didn’t want it out there. Didn’t want anything at all, except to hit the showers and let the exhaustion slide down the drain. He opened his eyes.

Johnny’s smile slipped. “Danny, are you all right?”

Danny reached out without thinking and pushed some wet hair away from Johnny’s forehead. He liked the look of his hand against the dark blond hair, placed right above the lifted eyebrows and wide blue eyes, staring right at him. “Yeah, I’m fine,” he answered and on impulse, gave Johnny another quick kiss. “Let’s get out of here, getting cold now.”

He didn’t wait for Johnny to respond and moved away quickly, climbing the ladder and shaking himself free of water. His skin dried in cold streaks. He looked down, just to see that Johnny was climbing out, too, and looked away. He didn’t want to be an asshole, so he waited until Johnny was completely out of the pool, and then led their way to the locker room.

He tried not to look at Johnny, or notice that the expression on his face was sort of lost, but he couldn’t stop looking or noticing. He squeezed his eyes shut and turning away, opened his mouth.

“Listen, uh, I hope you – you, uh – had a good time. I --” he coughed, “I just --”

And then he realized that he was about to say the dumbest thing he could, because he liked Johnny, and he’d known it was the truth all along.

“I’ve been wanting to do that since you showed up here.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Danny saw Johnny’s head turn instantly to face him. “Y-you… really?” Johnny’s voice croaked.

Danny laughed despite himself. “Yeah. Really.” He breathed in and reached out to grasp the heavy door handle. “C’mon, hit the showers. I’ll see you on Monday, bright and early.”

He couldn’t help the little smack that landed on Johnny’s ass as walked in after him. Johnny flashed him a quick grin over his shoulder.

Danny still had about half an hour before his life outside of hockey had to face him. He’d be damned if he didn’t at least try to enjoy it.

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