Derek had already been grateful they didn’t lose at home, but after getting to their hotel he was doubly relieved.
If he were back at the haus he’d have no excuse to not do his homework or his readings, but right now in the impersonal minimalistic room that Derek didn’t have to be used to anymore after this,
he could simply drop his bag beside the perfectly-made bed and just sit.
Maybe it hurt less because they won last year, but fuck, maybe that just meant they knew what they were missing.
And it was his senior year, the frogs’ last chance, and Chowder had put so much of himself into captaining but no matter how hard they played, how much they wanted it,
they just weren’t the best team that year. Someone else did better, and now they were out of the playoffs.
But it was also kind of a relief, having it be over.
And so Derek sat, letting emotion wash over him without needing to parse through it. He didn’t need to make sense of what he was feeling, not yet.
Right now he just let himself feel, and breathe through it, and that was enough.
Vaguely, he registered Dex moving around the room, and then into the bathroom.
He’d barely made a sound since they left the ice, and had accepted Derek’s staring off into space without so much as a funny look.
The white noise of the shower mixed with the dull buzz inside Derek’s head and he sat, and felt, and didn’t think, slowly returning into his body before his mind.
Eventually, he was ready to come back up from his meditative state. He closed his eyes—mindfulness was always easier for him when he could focus on one sense at a time.
He started with touch; the socks on his feet, his jeans bunched over his knees, the bed underneath him, the slightly-too-warm sweater across his shoulders, the itch of playoff scruff on his face, his curls against his forehead.
Next came smell; the scent of a clean hotel room and Dex’s body wash and the post-game stink that Derek hadn’t quite gotten all the way off.
He worked his way through all his senses, focusing on the environment around him, coming back to it slowly.
He took one more deep breath, holding it before slowly releasing, relaxing back into the world as he did.
Derek finally opened his eyes. Dex was leaning against the dresser, watching him.
He hadn’t shaved yet; his hair was damp and messy from the towel, arms crossed over his bare chest, sporting only a well-worn pair of pyjama pants.
“I’m okay,” Derek said softly, even though he didn’t feel like he was being scrutinized.
“I know,” Dex said.
“I know,” Dex said. They both paused for a moment, just watching each other. “So we’re done being NCAA players.”
“Hey, I could yet fail and have to come back.”
Dex didn’t justify that with a response. He just kept looking at Derek, head tilted a bit.
Finally, he took a deep breath and uncrossed his arms. “We should get dinner some time. Just you and me.”
Finally, he took a deep breath and uncrossed his arms. “We should get dinner some time. Just you and me.” Dex blinked.
Finally, he took a deep breath and uncrossed his arms. “We should get dinner some time. Just you and me.” Dex blinked. “Like on a date.”
“You’re asking me out?”
“Yeah, Nursey. I’m asking you out.”
Derek nodded. “Why now?”
Dex took another deep breath. “We’re done,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about fucking things up on the ice anymore, or making things awkward because we’re roommates.
We’re done, we’re leaving Samwell, but I don’t want to leave you.”
“Yeah,” Derek said.
He realized that wasn’t very specific, and was about to clarify that he meant yes, of course he’d go on a date with Dex, he didn’t want to leave him either —
— but a smile was already spreading across Dex’s face, and Derek had to match it.
“Yeah, Dexy. Let’s get dinner.”