It started as toddlers covered in glitter, and became years of friendship… The story of Cody and Regen, and how the best things in life are worth waiting for.
Cody first met Regen when they were three and covered in glitter after a Christmas decoration project went disastrously wrong. After bonding over the taste of glue, and eating all the chocolate on the tree, the two became best friends. Living in a small Canadian town outside of Calgary, they grew up together, went to the same school, played on the Chipmunks peewee hockey team, and shared a passion for both the Calgary Cobras and chocolate. While Cody stayed at home, went to a local college, and became a teacher, Regen was on a very different path.
Regen and Cody. Their names had become inseparable over the years, just as they had. Through good times and bad, the two boys were thick as thieves and close as brothers. When the boys became men, life tried its best to pry them apart, sending Regen to LA to play professional hockey while Cody remained in Canada and pursued his dream of becoming a teacher. Even with thousands of miles between them, Regen and Cody remained best friends.
Cody is in love with his best friend, and Regen is in love with hockey, and it seems that it will take the magic of Christmas to bring the waiting to an end.
This story is in two parts, the first part is on RJ Scott’s website, the second part is on VL Locey’s website.
This is PART 1 – You can find part 2 of this story from the link at the bottom of part 1.
“No, I can’t take a later flight. I have exactly seventy-two hours. Can you find me something on a different airline?”
I paced the small apartment I shared with another rookie, stopping to grab a fry from the bag of takeout sitting on the coffee table, cell to my ear. Hey, he’d left it to go run off with the puck bunny of the night, so finders keepers, and losers go hungry. Ignoring the sounds of passion oozing through the thin walls of our second-story apartment in DTLA, or downtown Los Angeles as the vets on the team called it, I waited for the travel agent to get back to me. Two blocks from the California Power Arena, Gregor Baranov and I had been set up by the LA Condors in the brand-new building overlooking Figueroa Street. I liked the place, but man, the walls were thin as toilet paper.
“Hello? Oh yeah, that would be great!” I wiped my greasy fingers on my jeans then raced into the small kitchen to find a pen and paper. “Okay, yes, the twenty-fourth at 6:04 a.m. from LAX. Yes, landing at Calgary International at 11:10. Air Canada? Awesome! Yes, thank you so much.”
I hung up, spun in a tight circle, and pumped the air. Three days back home over Christmas! I couldn’t wait to see my father and Cody. I had so much to tell them, so many stories to pass along about life in the City of Angels. The movie stars, the women, the heat. It was all so different from Witherspoon Lake, a small town about an hour from Calgary. Everyone had told me after being drafted that a backward Canadian boy like me would get a real eye-opening experience in LA. Everyone had been right.
Gregor’s girl of the night padded toward me as I was shoving in fries and searching for Cody’s number in my contacts. Not that I had to search hard. He was at the top, right after my dad. I’d just had a greasy finger swipe that had taken me into the lower ranks of my friends, the ones lingering at the bottom of the list whom I rarely called. Cody was so not one of the bottom dwellers. My gaze left the smudgy screen of my phone as bare boobs bounced by. Wow. Okay.
“Hey, Regen!” the bubbly blonde said as she skipped past in only a pink thong. I winced at the mangling of my name. She had said Ray-Gun. I should have corrected her as I did everyone else. It’s Ree-gin, not Ray-gin or Ray-Gun. Yes, I knew people here in the States thought it should be Ray-gun like the old movie actor/president. But back in Witherspoon Lake, population two thousand and fourteen, it was pronounced Ree-Gin. I would have corrected her if her massive boobs hadn’t been bared to the world. How on earth did a big, ugly Russian like Gregor find such hot women? He barely spoke any English. Guess Ursula was right. One should never underestimate body language. “Hey, do you have any pomegranate water?”
I ripped my gaze from her thighs. It got stuck on her boobs then flew to her face. Pretty face. Typical model look, all big blue eyes, and waves of golden hair. And boobs. So much boobage.
“Uhm, look in the fridge maybe?” I offered, phone in hand, Cody’s number finally going through. Service out at Witherspoon Lake was iffy. If the wind was blowing in the right direction you might get a call through.
“Oh, sure, yeah!” She giggled then returned to skipping along.
I heard Cody pick up. My interest in the boobs waned upon hearing his voice. “Cody, my friend, you really would not believe what I’m seeing,” I whispered and explained the current view. I knew Cody would appreciate it. He was bi after all, so half of him liked the soft, round lady bits.
“Wow. Not one girl in Witherspoon Lake would dare walk around in just a thong,” he said, his deep voice making me feel a surge of incredibly powerful feelings. I loved the guy. Not in a gay kind of way because I wasn’t gay, or even bi, not really. I mean I’d experimented in college with nine or ten guys over my four years, sure, but I’d never felt anything deep for any of them. Only Cody.
“Well if they did their fun pillows would freeze and fall off. So, jot this down. Pick up Regen at Calgary International at 11:10 at the Air Canada terminal on the twenty-fourth. You got that?”
“I got it.”
“Read it back to me.” No way did I want to waste a single minute in a stupid airport when I only had three days to spend with Cody. And Dad. Yeah, my father too. Obviously.
“Stop being a jerk. I’ll be there. Have I ever not been there when you needed me?”
“No, not once ever.” I walked to the window and looked out over LA and felt a keening pain deep inside that would ease once I was back in Canada and Cody was at my side. “So, what’s it like to be a real teacher now?”
“Oh, about the same as being a real hockey player.”
“So you’re wheeling all the soccer moms at the bake sales?”
“Asshole,” he chuckled. My heart yearned for Calgary. For the days spent skiing, playing shinny games on crystal clear ice, sleepovers, bike races around the path that circled Witherspoon Lake, and long swims in that icy cold Canadian water in summer. All those memories were wound up in Cody. My best friend. “I’m already making plans for us.”
“I seriously cannot wait, C.”
“Me either, R. I have to go. I’ve agreed to help with the Christmas concert tonight at the school. See you in five days.”
“Yeah, five days. Keep an eye on them soccer moms, now.” I teased.
“Asshole,” he countered with a gruff snort before ending the call.
Gregor and Miss Pink Thong were back at it. Brow resting on the warm, gritty glass, I shut out the sex grunts and shouts and focused on the sound of Cody laughing. Some nights recalling his voice or his laugh, or the way his green eyes sparkled with mirth was the only way I could get to sleep.
Maybe I needed to find myself a bouncy puck bunny. Then the nights might be just a little less lonely.
“Dark hair, brown eyes, sexy, don’t fuck this up.” I murmured the words on repeat hoping that if I said them enough, then Regen’s particular combination of dark hair, brown eyes, and levels of sexy would mean nothing at all and that I wouldn’t lose my shit as soon as I saw him.
“Don’t fuck this up.” I repeated again, loud enough that the woman next to me, wrapped in scarlet from the top of her hat to the tips of her leather boots, side-eyed me and took a step away. “Sorry,” I apologized and added a reassuring smile, but I wasn’t sure she was feeling the Christmas cheer. She frowned at me before turning her attention to the arrivals board. I didn’t know why she kept looking, the flight from LA was three hours late and the mood in the Air Canada terminal was getting ugly. Too many kids ran around on sugar highs, waiting for Aunty this or Grandpa that, hopped-up on excitement and, yeah, too many adults like the woman in red were losing their cool.
I didn’t care about the noise, because not only did I love the glitter and lights of Christmas but Regen was coming home.
“He has perfectly normal hair,” I lied to myself, recalling how soft it was and how it always smelled of his favorite strawberry shampoo. “His eyes are a very normal brown,” I added, and repeated that several times quietly to myself. “He’s not sexy at all.” I just miss him because he’s my best friend, not because us being apart has felt to me as if my entire world shifted.
Scarlet Woman shuffled a little farther away, but she couldn’t get very far given we were in the middle of one big-ass crowd of waiting friends and family. Those of us with the coveted front spots, right by the arrivals’ doors, weren’t about to give up our places anytime soon. I wanted to see Regen the moment he stepped through those doors, and I gripped the rail and held my breath as I switched to repeating the mantra, this time in my head.
Common dark hair, ordinary brown eyes, not at all sexy, don’t fuck this up. I don’t love him like that, I remember the time he barfed from the vantage point of his top bunk after we ate eight bags of Doritos. It was gross. He was gross, and I’ve seen it all. I do not imagine kissing him, and I’m certainly not planning on holding him in a hug any longer than is officially necessary.
“Liar,” I groaned, and ignored Scarlet Woman’s heavy sigh completely.
Regen had left for training camp in August, one hundred and thirty five days ago, and I’d missed him every goddamned day, his hair, his eyes, his smile, the way I could tell him anything, the way we shared fears and doubts and hopes and desires, and how shitty it was that after twenty years, this was the first ever time we’d ever been apart. We’d met when we were three, went to the same school, even the same college, albeit him in the sports medicine program on a hockey scholarship, and me majoring in education. Hell, we’d even shared a room, and up until he’d been drafted by LA we’d had all kinds of plans.
We’d planned that Regen was going to play for our beloved Calgary Cobras and I would find the nearest elementary school, and we would get a place together. The nebulous concept of future partners, marriages, and kids was something we’d decided to ignore, because, hell, we were only twenty-two, and the future was years away. He was my best friend, my confidant, and this Christmas, after one hundred and thirty-five days we’d get to tell each other everything again.
A buzz behind me caused me to look up, and the board had changed, the flight had arrived, and bags and sticks notwithstanding, he’d be through the doors in no time at all. I held up the board the kids had helped me make, his name, in Christmas-green, with glitter and garlands and so much fake snow that it could cause a drift.
He wasn’t first through the doors, but I didn’t have to wait long, and when he saw me he grinned so hard that my heart overfilled and I felt the prick of emotion that would lead me to fucking cry in the terminal.
“CODY!” he shouted, getting lost in a swell of kids running forward to meet arriving family members before emerging on the other side, using some impressive hockey moves, and leaning over the barrier. Ignoring the sign and the glitter that went all over his Condors jacket, he held me so tight I couldn’t breathe.
“Re!” I shouted back, and we did that bro-hug thing, then the complicated hand clap, fist pump, combo we’d made up at age seven. He ducked under the barrier, only breaking the hug for a few seconds and then we hugged again.
“Are you Regen Reva?” someone asked next to me, and he tugged away, his expression changing from unabashed excitement and euphoria to one of professionalism. I’d seen this before, when scouts had talked to him at games; this was focused Regen, and even though it was Scarlet Woman who’d commented I had to give him the space to deal with what I assumed was his adoring public.
“Yes, ma’am.” He shook her offered hand.
“My son was devastated when Calgary didn’t get you,” she announced, and stared at Regen’s chest, where the condor sat in its bright ebony glory. “Devastated,” she repeated, but before she could add anything else, she was swept up by a tall man, lost in hugs, and I didn’t have to look at Regen to know that he’d see this as a route to escape. We threaded our way through the crowds and jogged to the parking. Finally, with me winded and him being all kinds of fit and ready for a run, we arrived at my crappy Toyota.
“Bertha!” he exclaimed. “You haven’t replaced her.”
He knew I’d have told him if I’d sold Bertha, after all, she was technically half his after we’d saved an entire summer of yard work wages for this heap which had seen us through four years of college.
“Teacher’s pay, and she runs,” I defended.
“Mickey just got a three-year twelve million dollar contract and first thing he did was to get a beast of a car, Porsche 911 GTS last week. It’s unreal. Zero to sixty in under four seconds.”
“You like cars now?” I teased. It used to be that Bertha-the-Toyota was about as much car as we ever discussed. We were all about hockey and reading. Or rather, the reading bit was me, he was all about the hockey.
“Yeah, well, one day, that will be me,” he added. “Big-ass house and a shiny fast car, and girls. All the girls.”
I ignored that last bit because I couldn’t think about that at all, and dangled the keys instead. “You want to drive?”
He shook his head, then climbed in to ride shotgun; running a hand over the dashboard and leaving a trail of glitter. “Missed the old girl, though,” he said, and then side-hugged me as I attempted to belt myself in. “And you, asshole,” he added.
“Missed you too,” I hugged him back, and the part of my heart that had been broken when he’d left, might have even begun to heal.
Regen was back.
Only, I couldn’t help but notice one thing. His hair didn’t smell of strawberries at all.
Man, it was good to be home.
Snow, forests, cold beer, sparkly stars atop a pine tree, Dad’s laughter, and Cody Brooks. All of my favorite things on the planet in one small town. Cody and I had spent the afternoon with Dad, watching the Cobras, an afternoon game against Montreal before we’d made the eight-minute drive down Main Street pulling into the parking lot of Cody’s apartment building. He had a tiny one-bedroom ground floor place facing the street, nicely decorated in masculine shades of green, blue, and brown. No sooner had we stepped into his place than he’d dashed out to fire up the grill for our dinner. T-bones cooked over an open flame had somehow become a holiday tradition for us, starting back in our freshman year of college. Then, it had been a dare. Also, beer had been involved. I’d lost that first bet—no clue what we’d wagered—and had to stand outside in my underwear and char the shit out of slabs of meat.
The stupid tradition was still going strong, and Cody, this year’s loser of a who-can-stand-on-their-hands-the-longest contest, was now sweeping a good foot of snow off the top of his old gas grill. Man, life was good in Witherspoon Lake.
He raced inside; air cold enough to freeze the wattles off a moose following him through the sliding door. “I’m hoping that now that we’re both professionals we can skip the underwear part of this assholery?”
I thought on it long and hard, tapping my scruffy chin as Cody made the suitably annoyed noises and rolled his eyes. Eyes as green as the skinny tree in the corner that we’d decorate tomorrow narrowed.
“Since it’s like four degrees out there, I’ll be magnanimous and let you wear your clothes but no coat.”
“Four degrees? Man, you’re sounding more and more LA all the time,” he said, catching me off guard with the comment.
“It’s easier to adapt to the American’s way of doing things than to fight them. They’re bullheaded about things like the metric system.” A quirky smile pulled up the corners of his mouth. I flipped him off. “Go cook. I’m starving.”
“Can you toss a few potatoes into the microwave?”
“Sure.” He gathered up the steaks, carrying them outside on a platter then rushing back inside once the meat was on the grill. I padded out of his tidy kitchen, the spuds cooking away, with two bottles of Molson in hand. He spun from the sliding door. “No lounging inside. Get out there and tend to the meat before it burns. I don’t like mine seared like a briquet like you do.”
He took the beer I passed to him, his eyes pleading. “Seriously, it’s super cold out there.”
“Seriously, you lost. Go on.” I pulled the door open. Wind right off an iceberg blew over us. “I’ll be nice and keep you company but I get to wear a coat. Loser.”
“You suck.” He stepped out onto the icy patio. I grabbed my coat and joined him, ducking to avoid an icicle dangling from the patio above us. “Close the door! We’re not heating the outdoors.”
“You sound like your mother,” I chuckled, giving the front yard a quick look. It would probably be a nice place to chill out during the summer.
“I did, didn’t I?” He laughed softly, took a swig of beer and lifted the lid of the grill. Smoke rolled upward, the spit and sizzle of steak filling the bitterly cold air. “These are going to be rare because I think my balls are frozen already.”
He did look cold standing there in his jeans and Aerosmith T-shirt. I experienced a moment of sympathy and nearly told him to go get his coat, then I remembered that first loss of mine. Talk about frozen balls. Mine had crawled up inside me so far it had taken a long soak in a hot tub to tempt them back out. Nope. No mercy. My best friend had gotten off easy. Too easy, actually. I placed my beer on the patio and reached behind me with both hands. The mound of snow the plow had pushed off the driveway was cold and wet. Cody was running on about one of the kids in his class who had drawn a picture of a horse they owned with a rather lifelike rendition of the horse’s genitals when the first snowball hit him in the back of the head. Snow crystals flew into the grill, hissing like demons as Cody yelped and spun to glower at me. That was when I pelted him with snowball number two. It hit him right between his two big green eyes.
I roared with laughter as he sputtered and coughed.
“Oh my God, you asshole,” he snapped, snow stuck to his long lashes and quickly melting off his nose. “That’s like the dirtiest snow! Mr. Bronson lets his dog piss on that pile. Is there yellow snow on my face?”
“Oh shit that makes it even funnier,” I howled, tripping over my beer to drape my arms over his shoulders. “Okay, sorry, it’s not funny.” There was grit from the driveaway stuck to his deeply knotted eyebrows. I sniggered and coughed. “Shit, okay, phew. Yeah, I’m so not laughing at you. Just stop dancing around. There’s dirt on your eyebrows.”
“If I get a cinder in my eye I will kick your ass all the way to the lake,” he vowed. I wasn’t too worried. I had him in height, weight, and glove-dropping skills. I mean, the guy was a teacher now, not a brawler.
“Hold up. Close your eyes.” I framed his face to hold him still. His wet lashes drifted downward. Heel of my hands resting beside his nose, I flicked at the tiny bits of dirt and cinder on his eyebrows. His breath fanned over my face. Smoke billowed behind him. I could just pick up the smell of his spicy aftershave when the wind shifted. My thumbs slowed, the cold pads now moving over his eyebrows with care. Then his eyes opened, slowly, his long lashes flickering upward and I fell right into twins pools of deepest emerald. I wet my lips, unable to stop cradling his face as I stood there, trapped in time, the urge to put my mouth to his enveloping me like a winter storm sweeps over the flatlands.
Cody blinked once then twice. My thumbs stilled. A car door slammed and my father’s voice rang out.
I leaped back, stepped on my beer bottle, and went ass over tin cups backward into the same dirty snow I’d thrown into Cody’s beautiful face. Lying there on my back, stunned stupid, my nerve endings jangling with sensory overload, I opted to make a snow angel as Cody whipped around to tend to the steaks, my father appearing above me.
“You two ain’t never going to grow up.” Dad chuckled, walked around his son, and went inside to fetch his own beer.
Dinner was a pleasant enough affair, Dad talked up a storm, but Cody and I were subdued. After Dad went home we watched an old Chuck Norris flick but the vibe was off now, different somehow as though we were both afraid to look at each other or something.
I’d never thought of tasting Cody’s pink lips. Not once in the close to twenty years we’d known each other. Other guys, sure, here and there as I worked out my sexuality. I was straight. Mostly. No, yes. Yes, I was. Sort of. Aside from the ten or so guys back in college. I’d not touched a man in over a year. There was no need. Chicks were everywhere. All the time. Readily available and incredibly willing. Also, I liked women. I liked boobs.
You also like dick.
Yeah, yeah I did.
So, how straight are you then?
I sighed long and hard.
Lying in Cody’s bed, smelling him on the pillowcase as I tossed and turned, I tried my best to recall the chicks I’d been with since I’d been in LA. There were at least five. Listening to the pipes rattle in the walls, wondering if Cody were tussling with that crazy moment by the grill as he lay on the couch, I went in search of the girls I’d hooked up with on Instagram.
As soon as the app loaded, Wi-Fi here being as bad as the cell service, I found myself on Cody’s page. Pictures of him with his school kids, with me, playing baseball, hanging out with his sister at the lake. Lois had eyes the same shade of green as her brother. Midnight came and went, and still I lay there staring up into the smiling face I’d known forever and wondered if all the deep feelings I had for Cody were more than just a bro-love kind of thing. And if they were, what the hell were we going to do about them come morning?
To be continued…
You can find part 2 of this story at vllocey.com/wfc which will go live later today 🙂