On a high from an amazing win, everything seemed bright and wonderful. With a huge smile on his face, he turned to teammate and locker neighbor Tom Mitski. “You want to come with me?”


            Mitski shook his head. “Sorry, Buddy. But I’ve got a hot thing waiting for me in the lobby, if you know what I mean.” He grinned at the thought of what he meant. “Speaking of which, you’ve got one, too. You sure you want to go over tonight?”


            Jamie nodded. “I think he’ll feel better if I tell him about the win. And I’m worried and don’t want to wait until tomorrow.”


            “Well…” Mitski finished lacing up his black dress shoes and shrugged a suit jacket on over his shirt and tie. “Can’t say I blame you. We’re all worried. You tell him I hope he feels better, kay?”


            “Will do.” Jamie closed his own locker.


            Jamie followed Mitski out into the lobby of the arena. The ticket booths were all closed with metal sheets covering the windows. The two food vendors were wiping off their counters and shutting down shop. The lobby was relatively deserted now, since most of the attendees had headed home just after the game. Now, a long speech from the coach, a team discussion, and a shower and change later, only a few stragglers remained. One of them was a hot blonde in a blinding red dress and stilettos. She clung to Mitski before, during, and after the kiss he gave her. Then he whisked her out of the building on his arm.


            Jamie had a familiar face waiting for him, as well. And he suddenly had one of his many rushes of relief at the fact that he was living his life exactly as he wanted. Because, if he were still in the closet, he couldn’t jog across the lobby to the man he loved, sweep him up in his arms, and smother him with kisses.


            “That was one incredible game,” Sweetie murmured into Jamie’s jacket. “And you? You. Were. Amazing!” That earned him an extra tight squeeze. “You should have seen me up there, beaming with pride. I’m surprised the Caps don’t snatch you right up and make you back-up goalie right now.”


            Laughing, Jamie pulled back. “You should have stopped while you were ahead. I’m not quite that good.”


            “And he’s humble, too,” Sweetie said, petting Jamie’s chest. “Will wonders never cease? You just had a shut-out, Love. Against a team with two of the best goal-scorers in your league. I’d say you’ve got something to celebrate.” He glanced around briefly, then slid one foot forward, placing his leg between Jamie’s. “And I have an idea or two about how you might like to celebrate.”


            Jamie felt himself melting into Sweetie, and had to force himself to keep control. “Oh, I’d love that. I do want that. But there’s something I have to do first. If… you don’t mind.”


            “What’s that?”


            “One of the guys on the team, Arnold Camdon, he’s been out for a few days with a nasty virus. He doesn’t have anyone to look after him and he won’t return our phone calls. I really think I should stop by with a small care package, just to make sure he’s still alive.” He had a pleading expression on his face. “Do you mind? I promise I won’t be out too late.”


            “Oh, I don’t mind. Of course I don’t mind. Take all the time you need.” He ran a hand down the back of Jamie’s head, then gave him another strong, open-mouthed kiss. Jamie devoured it hungrily.


            When he pulled back, he again wore that smile that just wouldn’t quit. “Thanks, Sweetie. You’re the best. I’ll call if I’ll be past midnight.”


            They walked out to the parking lot together, but parted on a few steps out of the door since Jamie was parked close after getting to the arena early for the game and Sweetie was all the way at the back of the lot. Sweetie refused the offer of a ride over to his car, but Jamie sat in the car and watched Sweetie in his rear view mirror until Sweetie started his car up.


            Arnold Camdon, Cam to his teammates, lived not fifteen minutes from the arena on a normal day, but Jamie got there in nine tonight, in light traffic. He’d been to Cam’s place a few times before for game-watching get-togethers with the team. And he knew that to get to Cam’s condo, he needed to make a right after exiting the elevator, but he wasn’t entirely sure of the floor. Luckily, the mailboxes on the first floor were all labeled with residents’ last names and Jamie was good enough with math to deduce that Cam was on the fifth floor. Then he kicked himself for forgetting, since Cam’s sweater number was 5 and they’d all had a good laugh about that coincidence once or twice when visiting.


            Jamie got into the elevator and pulled out his cellular phone. He tried to call Cam again, to let the man know he was in the building, but just got the answering machine. He left a message, but had a feeling Cam wouldn’t hear it. “All right, Man,” Jamie said to himself as he closed his flip phone and stuffed it into the pocket of his jeans. “I really hope you can forgive me for dropping in on you like this.” He knew if he were sick, he’d probably kill someone for walking in on him unannounced. But, then, he wouldn’t turn off his phone, because he’d have Sweetie to screen calls for him.


            He depressed the door buzzer and heard nothing in the way of a buzz or a ring. But it must have been heard inside because the chain was taken off, the doorknob clicked, and the deadbolt slid back. The door opened, and Cam stood in the doorway in a mismatched sweat suit and three thick pairs of socks. His short, dark hair was disheveled. His brown eyes looked tired, but it didn’t look like Jamie had awoken him. “Deeky?” he asked, giving him a squinting, confused look. “What’re you doig here?”


            Nodding towards the plastic grocery bag in his hand, “We missed you at the game tonight. I thought I’d stop by and see how you were holding up. I’ve got a care package for you.”


            “How’d the game go?”


            Jamie couldn’t possibly have grinned any wider if he’d tried. “We shut them out, Man.”


            “Shut out the Liods? Doe kiddig! What was the score?”


            “4-zip,” Jamie said. “It was a great game. You shouda been there.”


            “Wish I had beed,” Cam said. “Idstead I’ve beed here feelig like shit.” He punctuated that statement with a sneeze. Nothing drawn out or elaborate. Just a simple, strong sneeze. “hih’TChoo!” It made him jump in place, though, doubling over. And he sniffed a horribly wet sniff afterwards. Then he reached out and grabbed hold of the doorjamb.


            Jamie gave him a sympathetic look. The guy needed to sit down. “Can I come in, Cam?”


            Cam hesitated, and shook his head. “Dod’t thik that’s such a good idea. I’b brobably codtageous.”


            “Good point,” Jamie smirked. “I’ll promise not to kiss you if you promise not to sneeze on me.”


            Cam laughed and relented, stepping back and gesturing to welcome Jamie inside. “So what’d you brig be?” he asked greedily, plopping down on his couch and pulling a small fleece blanket up over part of his chest and legs. He coughed a few times, then turned to the side with a fist over his mouth. “heh-TChew!


            Jamie took a seat in the chair and set the bag on the coffee table. He pulled a box of tissues out and handed them over.


            Cam chuckled again. “That’s a start. Thanks.” He snuffled into a few tissues.


            In a serious tone, “Can you keep a secret, Cam?”


            After clearing his throat, Cam replied in a similar tone, though it was clear he was joking. “Oh by God. Are you goig to cobe out to be in reverse and tell be you’re actually straight?”


            Laughing, Jamie shook his head. “Nothing like that at all. “It’s… this.” He pulled out two hot packs. “Stole them from Doc’s supplies tonight after the game.” He tossed one over to Cam and set the other down on the coffee table.


            Cam cracked it and bent it to activate it. Then he slipped it under the blanket and hugged it to his chest. “That defiditely hits the sbot. I dod’t thidk I’ve got a fever or adythig, but I have beed a bit chilly.”       


            “And then there’s…” He pulled out a DVD of Slap Shot 2. “I know you have the first one, but—”


            “Oh kickass!” He leaned over and grabbed it out of Jamie’s hand. He took a few seconds to skim over the description on the back. “We’re watchig this right dow, okay?”


            “Whatever you want,” Jamie said, eyeing the entertainment setup. He located the DVD player and took the disk from Cam. He certainly didn’t mind watching it again In the scheme of things, it wasn’t the best hockey movie every made, but it was far from the worst. It paled in comparison to the original, but it was hard to top such greatness. And sometimes a mindless, fun movie was just what was called for. As Cam was a defenseman who didn’t shy away from a good check, he knew he’d enjoy some of the “finer” points. He popped it in and fumbled with the remotes until he got the television on the right channel and the volume at the right level.


            Jamie sat down in the chair again just in time to bat Cam’s hand away as the curious man made for the bag. “Hey, hey! No you don’t! I’m getting to it. Three down and the two left are the best yet to come. I got… you… ta-da!” He pulled out a few bottles. “Ingredients for hot toddies. The best way to fight a cold, if you ask me. Not going to interfere with your cold medication, will it?”


            Cam shook his head. “Brew sub ub, Buddy.” He sniffed and moved from a sitting position to a lounging one, with the tissue box on his chest and his gaze fixed on the television set. “hehh…eh-IHShoo! Hih! Tishoo!” His whole body shook, the lower half rising up off the couch and his upper half snapping forward to meet it. He blew his nose and balled-up the tissue. Then he turned onto his side, curling up so that most of his body, as well as the hot pack were under the blanket.


            Jamie returned about twenty minutes into the movie, with a steaming mixture of whiskey, brown spices, citrus, and intense sweetener. Cam carefully took the black and gold Bowie State University mug from Jamie. He drank just a little, cautiously. “Hell,” he exhaled, closing his eyes as he took a second sip and swallowed. “This is fadtastic.”


            “Old family recipe,” Jamie said. “It always puts me right. Make sure to drink it while it’s hot.”


            “Try to stob be,” Cam said, taking a gulp and smiling. “You know, you’re actually bretty good at this,” Cam said.




            “This care-takig thig. Sniff! Sniff!” With the hand not holding his mug, he pulled a tissue out of the box and blew his nose again. He balled it up and, not having anything else to do with it, dropped it on the couch in front of him.


            Jamie reached forward and he helped himself to a tissue. He used it to gather the several discarded tissues, and he walked them over to the trashcan in the kitchen. He rifled through the lower cabinets until he found a paper bag. He shook it to open it fully and placed it on the floor by the couch.


            “Yeah.” Cam said. “You’re really good at it.”


            Sitting back down in the chair, Jamie nodded in appreciation.  “Well, it makes sense for me to be.”


            “Because you’re gay?”


            Jamie smirked. “No, you idiot, because my mother and older sisters are nurses. And if you weren’t sick I’d call my boyfriend to come over and clock you for that,” he joked.


            Cam laughed. “Cad’t do your hittig yourself, huh? That’s why you’re just a goalie.”


            “Just a goalie? I’ll give you just a goalie!” Jamie jumped up. Laughing back, he grabbed a small couch cushion and hit Cam hard on the arm with it. He sat back down and collected himself.


            Cam tucked the pillow under his head and drained more of his drink. “So, are you still close with your fabily, frob whob you’ve leard so buch?”


            “I am,” Jamie said. “They’re all on the west coast still, and I don’t get to see them much since I was traded, but we talk a lot. They’re very proud of me and my goalie skills.”


            “hehh… Sniff! That’s great.” He filled his hand with tissues then breathed into them heavily. “Hihh… IhTchoo! H’Shoo!


            “Bless you,” Jamie said. He made a clicking sound out of the corner of his mouth and pointed at Cam. “I learned that from my family, too.”


            Cam blew his nose, then finished up the hot toddy, which was closer to a warm toddy by now. “I dod’t talk to by fabily buch. We’re sort of a Christbas card odly fabily. Sniff! All by baredts wadt if for be to fide a dice girl and settle dowd.”


            “I know that feeling,” Jamie said, nodding empathetically. “And maybe you should. Then you’d have someone to look after you next time you come down sick.”


            “But thed I’d biss out od your alcohol add excelledt DVD choice. Add…” He nodded towards the plastic bag which still sat on the coffee table, right in front of Jamie. “What’s that other thig you brought?”


            Jamie grinned as he remembered it, his excitement growing. “I saved the best for last.” He plunged his hand in, the plastic crinkling during the build-up. “Because there is only one thing I know of that’s guaranteed to make a man feel better, no matter what condition he’s in…” He pulled out a small stack of magazines. “Porn.”


            Cam’s eyes lit up, then he began laughing. He gestured for the magazines, and Jamie leaned forward to hand them over to him.


            “I don’t know the first thing about buying hetero porn, and I don’t know what you like- and don’t want to know! So they’re probably pretty tame, however, I figured I was fairly safe with Playboy and Penthouse.”


            “This is great, Deeky.” Cam flipped through the issue of Playboy. “Thadks. I’b feelig better already.”


            “You had better be.” He glanced at his watch. “Because I’ve got to get going.”


            Cam took another tissue and rubbed his nose with it. He paused, then snapped forward. “hih… Hitchoo! Ih’Choo! Sniff! You had a shut out todight. You dod’t deed be.”


            “Yeah, but we want you with us for our next shut out. We all miss you.” Jamie got up and stretched. “So get some rest, all right? And you give me a call if I can get your anything. Are you eating all right?”


            Cam nodded. “Yeah, I’b good. Thadk you, Deeky. I really abbreciate it. You really did’t hab to do this todight.”


            “What can I say?” Jamie shrugged innocently. “I’m a heck of a nice guy.”


            “If goalies could be cabtaids, you’d have by vote.”


            “Oh, don’t say that,” Jamie laughed. “Reesey’s the best captain we’ve had in years.”


            “I dow. He really has beed.” Cam said. He readjusted the blanket around him and curled up a little more.


            Jamie glanced at the door, evaluating the lock situation. “Goodnight, Cam. I’ll lock the door on my way out.”


            “G’dight, Deeky.”


            Jamie headed out of the apartment, listening for the click of the lock behind him. It wasn’t a chain lock or a deadbolt, but the one on the doorknob itself. It would do until Cam got up again. He headed into the elevator and pulled his cell phone out again. Around floor four, he found that there were no missed calls. While passing floors three and four, he thought about giving Sweetie a call to say he was coming home… and to thank him for looking after Jamie the last time he was sick. But by the time he hit the first floor, he had decided just to head straight home and show Sweetie how much Jamie loved him. With a wide grin on his face, he headed out of the elevator and to his car.