Rating: PG-13, some swearing
Characters: Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton
Dedication: The Vegas girls. :D
Disclaimer: It's all lies!
Author's Notes: This is set just after Joe Thornton was traded to the Sharks in November 2005. I started writing this in 2007 but only picked it up again recently and it's finally done! The idea came from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but I went a different direction with it.
Heart in a Box, 1
After Marco got traded, Patrick Marleau cut his heart out and put it in a box.
Everyone in the locker room noticed the red line of the wound bisecting his chest, held together with seven ragged stitches, but none of them ever said anything. A captain was still a captain, even if he was younger or had less experience, and the C was the most important thing on his chest, more important than the cut that still oozed blood occasionally.
The guys weren't really talking much anyway, and if you asked them to comment, they would speak about shock and guilt and underachievement, when in their hearts all of them were just incredibly grateful that it wasn't them on their way to Boston that night.
Patty sat silently by the window on the team plane, staring out into the inky blackness as red bloomed in the white of his crisp shirt. As always, his expression was inscrutable, but Evgeni Nabokov knew that he was far from numb. A wound like that would be felt for a very long time, and Nabby took the empty seat next to him, placing his hand lightly on his shoulder. Patty turned slowly, moving like he was underwater, looking at Nabby through blurred, viscous air.
"I will miss him too," Nabby said, and his voice was genuine. He had grown close to Marco over the years, trading jokes and barbs and secrets, but it was one thing to make a connection, and another thing to make a bond. He looked into Patty's eyes, and he thought he caught a glimpse of something--pain? regret? guilt? Nabby settled on a blend of pain and guilt, the kind of pain that you bring upon yourself.
Patty was alarmed by the eye contact, and he raised his hand self-consciously to his chest, the blood smearing warm and sticky over his palm. He turned deliberately away from Nabby, gazing out the window as he adjusted to the unbeating of the heart that was no longer beneath his hand.
He didn't bother to put a bandage over his wound before he went to bed, not caring that he stained the sheets crimson; not caring about much at all. It was a miserable night for everyone else, but at least their hearts still beat strong in their chests as they fell asleep.