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you could make a life is a Web Original Verse written by Taylor Fitzpatrick that's set in a "slightly askew and (even) gayer" version of the NHL and follows the careers and love lives of a variety of closeted and not-so-closeted hockey players.

Originally intended to be just a short story about an eager, hardworking Toronto-born teenager and a sarcastic, gifted Quebecois teenager becoming NHL players and lovers, that one little story has since then spawned a 11-chapter series that was eventually published, numerous spin-off series focused on different character casts and plotlines that occasionally overlap with one another, and a Tumblr account containing extensive character info and backstory not revealed in the main series.


The series in this verse so far, in roughly the order they were written in, are:

The first two series and between the teeth are no longer available on Archive of Our Own after Fitzpatrick got them revised and published, but they can be purchased here.

This verse contains the following tropes:

  • The Ace:
    • Ulf Larsson (Swedish sex god who Dan initially hates on principle when he becomes Marc's BFF) and Jake Lourdes (universally beloved all-American talent who David initially hates for overshadowing him in the NHL).
    • Marc becomes this for a few characters, particularly his eventual Olympic linemates David and Adam because they, unlike Marc, struggle to reconcile their sexual orientation with being a star NHL player.
  • all lowercase letters: The story and chapter titles are all formatted like this. Vinny's series is an exception, since his name is in every title.
  • All There in the Manual: The author answers a lot of readers' questions about her universe on her Tumblr, especially ones about her characters' future lives, so you'll need to read through her Tumblr to learn about a plethora of interesting stuff like how Dan and Marc end up raising two children or how Gabe and Jake used to fool around together some time before their stories.
  • Anchored Ship: When David kisses Georgie, Georgie stops him and explains it's a bad idea considering they are friends with each other's exes.
  • Armoured Closet Gay:
    • This trope doesn't come up as often as you might expect, as even the most macho and reluctantly gay characters prefer to simply keep quiet about it rather than go on homophobic tirades, but the ones who fit the "closet case aggressively pretending to be straight" character type the best are Alexei and Nikita who both cruelly dump their male partners and become married/engaged to women.
    • Played with in the case of David. While he does not act homophobic on purpose, his extreme overreaction and avoidance of any topics related to homosexuality, culminating in him running away after Robbie tells him that he used to be in a relationship with Georgie, leads Robbie to assume he is a homophobe.
    • Bryce pretends to be a womanizer to hide his homosexuality even after he starts dating Jared. He eventually stops doing this after Jared expresses his unhappiness about it, but is still extremely reluctant to let anyone else know about their relationship.
  • Asexuality: Thomas Vincent seems to be somewhere on the asexual spectrum.
  • Babies Ever After: Dan and Marc eventually have two children who make appearances in the outtakes story and author's tumblr.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Jared and Bryce, at first. Once they begin dating, though, their relationship becomes much more amicable.
  • Berserk Button: Do not harm Vinny in any way if Anton is around, unless you're willing to take on a tall angry hockey player.
  • Big Brother Mentor:
    • One of the first solid relationships David forms in his story is with his captain, Oleg Kurmazov. He genuinely cares about David's well-being, and at one point offers to beat Jake up for hurting David.
    • Michel Fournier takes Vinny under his wing and treats him like his little brother/third child, even after he is traded to another team.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In but always in tandem. Robbie and Georgie don't get back together, but Robbie has finally begun moving past his self-destructive bitterness towards Georgie and they've made tentative steps towards being on at least non-hostile terms.
  • Bookends: David and Jake's relationship is kicked off when David kisses Jake in a deserted hallway. 50 chapters later, they get back together after David kisses Jake in a deserted hallway.
  • Breather Episode: The author's notes for chapter 5 of Dan and Marc's story state that it was mainly written to serve as a light-hearted interlude between the drama of their coming out and the upcoming drama of the disintegration of their team.
  • Canada, Eh?: Smashed into little pieces; the majority of characters may hail from Canada, but they're just as trash-talking and hard-hitting on the ice rink as the average athlete. Also completely inverted with David and Jake, who are hyped by the media as a sweet, gentlemanly Canadian player in a rivalry with a brash, rough-edged American player when their actual personalities are the almost exact opposite.
  • Cannot Spit It Out:
    • Mike would sooner get all his teeth pulled out than admit that he's in love with Liam.
    • David also has a very, very hard time admitting that he actually wants a relationship with Jake, or that he is into guys at all.
  • Career-Ending Injury: no expectation of returns is all about one. Mike also gets a concussion that permanently ends his career with the migraines it inflicts on him.
  • Career Versus Man: Comes up in multiple stories. Interestingly, two of these stories have the main characters making (or at least trying to make) the choice for their partners instead of themselves because they believe that their more talented partners shouldn't have their careers be ruined/dragged down by their relationship. (And yes, their partners were majorly pissed off when they found out about said "choice" being made for them.)
  • Cast Full of Gay: Although the sexuality of major characters range from 'straight with a single exception' to 'absolutely and undeniably gay' with a lot of characters falling somewhere in the middle, there are significantly more queer players and relationships in a limited social circle than is strictly plausible.
  • Characterisation Marches On:
    • Andy, the sweet Gentle Giant from Saskatchewan, was far closer to Derek in personality when he first appeared in Dan's storyline. He swears and makes sarcastic remarks without reservation, and at one point, Dan notes how he is acting "uncharacteristically shy".
    • The Marc-Adam-David Olympics snippets were written before much of David's character growth was written. Hence, David is very much his pre-Kiro, pre- move to the Capitals self rather than the more mellowed out version seen in the last chapter of between the teeth set just before the Olympics.
    • The first few Jared/Bryce snippets that were written on Tumblr before they got their own series depicted Jared as still being in denial about Bryce being his boyfriend years after they hooked up. In Impaired Judgment, Jared becomes so besotted with Bryce after he gets over his initial misconceptions of him that it's implausible that he would ever deny the nature of their relationship to anyone in the know about him and Bryce. In general, Jared and Bryce's relationship ended up being a lot less antagonistic and more lovey-dovey than the author initially planned.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Many characters initially appear as peripheral ones in other characters' series before they get a series of their own.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Gabe and Stephen met practically before they were born, but it took them two decades to finally get together.
  • Clueless Chick Magnet: According to the author, David "is flirted with more often than his narrative shows".
  • The Comically Serious: David. When Jake laughs at his question of if he should call him "Jacob", he thinks to himself that he wasn't trying to be funny.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: between the teeth focuses just as much, if not more, on David maturing into "a real boy" — learning to be more accepting of himself and of others and forging good platonic relationships — as on his romance with Jake.
  • Coming-Out Story:
    • A big part of Dan and Marc's storyline. Julien also finds the courage to finally come out in his story after hearing about Dan and Marc's feat.
    • Also eventually becomes an important part of Vinny's story.
  • Compliment Backfire: David bristles whenever someone refers to him as "pretty". When he freely calls himself "pretty" in the last part of between the teeth, it's a major sign of how much he's grown since the start of the series.
  • Cultured Badass:
    • Marc loves watching and reading "pretentious" French films and books. He's also one of the best hockey players Canada has ever seen.
    • Mike is an enforcer, which means his role in a team is to bash, fight and physically intimidate the opposition. His hobbies include reading and beating everyone at Scrabble. David even states that he learnt not to judge people's intelligence by their playing style from having Mike as a teammate.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Marc and Mike, although Mike's snarkiness is a lot more caustic than Marc's more light-hearted snarkiness.
    • Jared, whose instinctive response to being in the proximity of a surly loner who has a known history of anger management issues is to creatively insult and mock him as much as possible.
  • Destructive Romance:
    • Nikita broke up with Luke while they were teenagers in such a callous manner that Luke never emotionally recovered from it. Their ensuing on-and-off relationship of hatesex and brutal beatdowns for the next seven years only serve to drag the embittered Luke down even further.
    • Robbie and Georgie used to be a loving couple, but Georgie cheating on Robbie permanently soured their relationship and left Robbie with emotional scars and trust issues that took years to heal. While they still have lingering feelings for each other, the massive emotional baggage between them causes any attempts to act on these feelings to just add to their self-loathing and bitterness.
  • Did Not Get the Guy: Some stories end with the main character not getting together with the guy he wants for varied reasons.
    • In we are the lucky ones, we know from the start that the main character did not get the guy — the story is his account of how and why that happened.
    • In both throw up your fists, throw up your wits and always in tandem, the main character does not get the guy because he realizes that their relationship has become too toxic and the best thing to do is to move on from it to healthier things.
  • Downer Ending:
    • if all is enough, to an extent, because Ulf and Adam never take the next step necessary to cement their relationship. According to the tumblr, this causes Ulf to give up entirely on the prospect of settling down.
    • always in tandem can be viewed as one for Georgie, judging from the tumblr notes on him. While Robbie ends up successfully moving on from Georgie and getting a new boyfriend, Georgie never really gets over his feelings for Robbie and that, coupled with his inability to learn from his past relationship mistakes, causes him to be unable to maintain any long-term relationships.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Marc's actual first name is Pierre.
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • Thomas hates Tommy. Don't call him Tommy unless you want him to throw objects at you.
    • In a similar vein, David hates being called "Dave" - or any other nickname, for that matter. The only nickname is is okay with is Kiro's "Davidson".
  • Everyone Can See It:
    • The entire Sens team towards Andy/Derek.
    • The entire Habs team, especially Carmen, for Anton/Thomas. Both sets of their parents seem aware of it, too.
    • David is probably about the only person who doesn't realise that Jake absolutely did not get over him.
    • Everybody on Joey's team is painfully aware of Nick's feelings for Joey. The sole exception to that being Joey himself.
  • Family Versus Career: Dan and Marc decided that unless one of them retires, it's nigh impossible for them to raise kids and still have time for hockey. Dan decides the sacrifice is worth it while Monsieur Lapointe still plays for a few years before retiring.
  • Friendless Background: David had so little experience with friendship that he thought Jake was just being 'buddies' by having sex with him.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The author posts snippets out of chronological order from time to time, showing characters years ahead of their story line. For example, we knew David and Jake gets back together after and then, because in the story about Marc, David and Adam playing at the Olympics together, David is still in contact with him.
  • Gay Panic: invoked Averted for the most part with public opinion being generally supportive of Dan and Marc's relationship, but internalized homophobia does play an important role in Julien's story and many other main characters clearly prefer to remain in Secret Relationships than deal with the repercussions of coming out in public even if they're fairly comfortable with their sexuality in private.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Jake is cold to Kiro even after he becomes Kiro's captain, because he is jealous of Kiro's affectionate friendship with David.
    • Similar to the above example, Bryce initially doesn't like Jared's close friend Raf because he thinks that Jared likes Raf as more than just a friend.
    • Nick/Scratch doesn't like Joey's new friend and crush Owen. It takes Joey a ridiculously long time to figure out just why.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: When Joey realizes that Nick is in love with him, he's hesitant to act on any possible mutual attraction he may feel for him out of fear that it may destroy their friendship if things end up not working out between them.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Luke and Nikita's relationship (if it can be called that) involves getting into fistfights every time their teams play each other and then having angry sex after the game.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mike is an ass, but he's an ass who genuinely cares for Liam and virtually all of his assholish behavior towards him is based on his sincere belief that Liam would be better off without him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Nikita is basically Mike sans the Hidden Heart of Gold and sincere love for his besotted partner.
  • Just Friends:
    • Andy and Derek try to be this after their night together. It doesn't stick, naturally.
    • Gabe and Stephen also start out as this.
    • Tony and Vinny, although Vinny wants more than friendship.
    • Kiro and David are genuinely this, despite what Jake might think.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Mike and David, who both have major issues with emotional intimacy. Marc is also viewed as weird by many people for his preference to watch the latest French art film over hanging out with the rest of the team, although he at least has Dan and Larsson who understand him better.
  • Love Martyr:
    • Luke to Nikita, although it's morphed over the years into something more akin to Hate-Love Martyr and he finally breaks out of it at the end.
    • Liam may also be this, depending on your interpretation of his relationship with Mike; his friends definitely see him as this or at least wonder why on earth he chose to be with Mike.
    • Jake apparently has a bad habit of falling for people who end up breaking his heart.
  • Manly Gay: Almost all of the main characters by default. Liam and David are the only partial exceptions, and even then they can hardly be called weaklings considering that they regularly fling themselves around hockey ice rinks for a living.
  • Maybe Ever After: Mike and Liam's story ends on an ambiguous (but cautiously hopeful) note about the future of their relationship. The author's tumblr does reveal that they do more or less stay together for the rest of their lives, although they never marry and Mike never fully admits out loud that they're in a relationship for life.
  • Neat Freak: The one habit of Marc that Dan likes the least? Leaving his towel on the floor.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: Andy does this to Derek, and Stephen to Gabe too.
  • Oblivious to Love:
    • Andy thinks that it was just the alcohol that caused Derek to have sex with him. Even after Derek gets visibly upset at seeing him try to hook up with other people.
    • David has no feelings for Jake whatsoever. Really. And he honestly doesn't seem to realize just how smitten Jake is with him.
    • Jared doesn't realize at first just why Bryce offered to give him a ride in his convertible or why he agreed to his offer despite his proclaimed undying hatred of him, even when a knowing Raf tells him that they were blushing while talking to each other.
    • Joey gives even David a run for his money in this category; he's totally unaware of his best friend Nick's feelings for him for nineteen installments even though, according to Willy, "it's obvious from fucking space that he's in love with you. You know how obvious it is? Trigger knows he's in love with you, and Trigger doesn't even understand human emotions". And when an exasperated Willy outright tells him that Nick is in love with him, Joey thinks he must be joking because there's no way that could possibly be true. It takes his sister Casey figuratively slapping him upside the head as hard as she can for him to finally get it.
  • One Degree of Separation: All the stories in the universe is loosely connected through this. For example, throw up your fists, throw out your wits is about Luke Morris, who is the older brother of Ben Morris, who is friends with Liam Fitzgerald of in taking it apart, who is in love with Mike Brouwer, who is the former teammate of David Chapman, narrator of between the teeth, who is dating Jake Lourdes, who is a good friend of Gabe Markson from no expectation of returns... Justified, since all the stories are set in the NHL and it's only natural that all the characters are friends with or know other players in the league.
  • One Steve Limit: Frequently averted, although many characters are referred to only by their surnames or nicknames.
  • Opposites Attract:
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • A large part of Mike's closed-off personality comes from his father abandoning his family when Mike was twelve.
    • David's family situation is also less than warm and cuddly.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Dan has the occasional problem with this (though Marc is mostly quick to set him straight), Mike has a highly regular problem with this, and most egregiously the entire plot of giving in to the influence would have been only two chapters long had Andy actually bothered to ask Derek how he felt or even stayed with him instead of running away from him at the first opportunity.
  • Pretty Boy: Everyone who meets David - from his teammates to Jake's sisters - notes how pretty he is. In fact, "pretty boy" was Team America's moniker for him at World Juniors.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Mike, the gruff hockey player, is also an excellent cook.
  • Revised Ending: The author originally planned to end Mike and Liam's story after eight chapters, but she eventually decided to write four more chapters to give them a more conclusive ending.
  • Right Through the Wall: A Running Gag in you could make a life is Larsson being scarred for life by constantly overhearing Dan and Marc's dirty talking and sex sessions.
  • Secret Relationship: Every main relationship in this universe is more or less this with the big exception of Dan and Marc's — and even then, Dan initially tries to keep it a secret until word eventually gets out.
  • Single-Target Sexuality:
    • Marc had exactly one unsatisfying sexual encounter before meeting Dan and he hasn't looked at anyone not named Dan Riley ever since; Dan even describes him at one point as "THE one guy kind of guy".
    • Liam could also qualify as having this for Mike, as Word of God stated that he went through three relationships to try to prove that he was over Mike after their break-up and failed utterly.
    • Jake is the only person David has ever been in love or had sex with.
  • Shipper on Deck: The teams are generally supportive of the known couples, even if some of their lovey-dovey acts are so cute it's gross.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Each individual story falls on a different part of the idealism-cynicism spectrum: Dan and Andy's stories fall firmly on the idealistic side, Luke's on the cynical side, and the others generally maintain a balance between either a cynical narrator who thinks their relationship is doomed to fail and an idealistic partner who thinks the opposite or a grim subject matter and an Earn Your Happy Ending mentality.
  • Super Couple: Dan and Marc, both in-universe where Sarah calls them "the Brangelina of hockey" and for the verse as a whole with their high-profile status as a happy gay couple in the NHL having visible ripple effects on many other characters' lives.
  • They Do:
    • Dan and Marc get together in the first chapter, stay together for the rest of the series, and even get Happily Married.
    • Andy and Derek also have an unambiguous "getting their heads out of their asses and admitting their feelings to each other" conclusion to their story.
    • Jared and Bryce, after getting past their initial hostility towards each other, become the most stable and loving couple of the verse that isn't Dan and Marc. They're also the only gay couple other than Dan and Marc to get married.
  • True Love Is Exceptional:
    • Mike prefers to sleep with people who are as physically strong and built as him, which the waifish Liam is most definitely not. Mike's younger brother Tom is the same, settling down with a sweet, bubbly woman who's nothing like the women he has dated previously.
    • Derek claims he is 100% straight, just that Andy is an exception.
  • Tsundere:
    • David. Acts prickly towards Jake (tsuntsun), then responds to Jake asking him why he hates him so much by passionately kissing him (tsun-dere), and then blushes and becomes adorably shy when Jake makes it clear that he wants to spend time with him (deredere). Yep, we've got the whole tsundere package here.
    • Jared, who initially can't go more than five seconds in Bryce's presence without insulting him and yet cannot stay away from him for some reason. Once they start dating, his switch gets flipped to deredere mode pretty much all the time around Bryce.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The author has stated that most of their POV characters can't be taken at face value, with most of the events being filtered through that character's particular set of assumptions and biases.
  • Uptown Girl: Bryce is already a multimillionaire at just 20 years old while Jared is still living off his parents' allowance. Jared doesn't care that much about Bryce's wealth for the most part, but it does occasionally cause anxiety for him like when he tries to figure out what he can get Bryce for his birthday that he doesn't already have.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Luke was a lot more cheerful and idealistic as a teenager, before Nikita broke his heart.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: David's workaholic tendencies started when he was a kid, when he thought his absentee parents might pay attention to him if he was really good at hockey.
  • Wham Episode: After writing an upbeat love story about an extremely stable couple and a somewhat gritter and more turbulent romance that nonetheless worked out for the most part with both parties, the next multichaptered story Fitzpatrick wrote featured an immensely dysfunctional and emotionally abusive relationship that was not played solely for hatesex kinks and ended with both characters breaking up for good. Many readers who had expected Luke and Nikita's relationship to somehow work out in the end like Marc and Dan's and Mike and Liam's had were thrown off-guard by this development and have since then learned to not take a happy ending for any couple in the verse for granted, to the point where more than one reader thought that David would end up heartlessly abusing Jake like Nikita did with Luke and the author had to clarify that David is much more Tsundere than Bastard Boyfriend.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: David's eyes are one of the first things Jake notices about him when they play each other at World Juniors. David, in turn, is a little obsessed with how Jake's hazel eyes don't stay the same colour.
  • What Does He See in Him?:
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Jake outed David, who is, according to Gabe, "as far back in the closet as you can get while still fucking a guy", to his team mates because he believed they wouldn't tell. They didn't, but that doesn't make things right, and Gabe and his sisters called him out on it.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame:
    • Dan and Marc's team take them out to a gay bar once, where pink cocktails and glitter-faced twinks do exist but the decidedly not-gay Tremblay acts more Camp Gay than Dan and Marc combined who mainly just sit back and watch in amusement.
    • Andy goes to one in an attempt to get over his unrequited (or so he thinks) crush on Derek. It doesn't work, in no small part because Derek decides to tag along.
  • Working with the Ex: The entire premise of but always in tandem is around the tension between Robbie and Georgie, linemates who used to be in a relationship with each other.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Poor Thomas hears some variant of this pretty often. An example: “Hey Vinny, still doing that whole virgin shit to turn into a super goalie?” Bergen asks. “‘Cause man, gotta break it to you, you’re never going to be a starter, so maybe you should give up and get your dick wet already.”
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: Vinny's reason for refusing to talk to anyone about his sexuality/feelings for Anton.

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