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, 3
Joe Thornton hefted the strap of his duffel bag, shifting it higher on his shoulder so it wouldn't slip off. It was a strange feeling, to be on a commercial flight, yet going on a road trip. Commercial flights meant vacations, or going to see friends and family. Chartered planes meant road trips and hotel rooms and dinner with the guys. It was unsettling to know that he was doing one thing, but to have visual and auditory cues that told him he was doing another.
The past twelve hours had been much more than just unsettling for him. He'd been having dinner with his parents at a restaurant when the call came, and when his mother saw the expression on his face and gently grabbed his wrist, looking at him with concern and asking "what is it?" he could feel his eyes start to tear up, and a sob build in his throat. He wasn't even sad yet, or angry or hurt - that would come later - it was an emotional reflex; his heart reacted before his mind did.
He muttered "I've been traded" and he got up and left, hurrying out of the restaurant and into the cab of his pickup, crying quietly as soon as he closed the door. He stopped almost as soon as he started, feeling foolish and embarrassed even though nobody had seen him. It was hardly the end of the world, and a fresh start could be good for him--a whole new future. But a new future meant that there was another future that could never be, and he felt that loss even if he couldn't think of any one thing in particular he'd be losing.
Patrick Marleau had called him that morning before his flight, telling him that he was going to pick him up at the airport. Joe walked out the automatic doors to the curb, looking around for Patty but not finding him because he didn't expect him to be standing beside a big black limo. Patty waved to get Joe's attention, and when that didn't work, Kyle waved as well, but to no avail. They gave up at the same time, dropping their arms and turning to grin at each other, and it was the first time that Patty had smiled since he'd found out about the trade.
They walked over to Joe together, and he broke into a big grin as he saw them approaching. Patty extended his arm for a handshake and Joe took his hand, giving it a firm squeeze. He was about to say something when he noticed the splotch of red on Patty's shirt and began to ask about it but Kyle caught his eye and gave him a warning glance, shaking his head slightly. Joe closed his mouth, but he glanced at Patty's chest again, the question that hadn't made it past his lips still lingering in his mind.
Then Joe looked past them, his eyes focused on the limo, and he started to laugh as he asked, "Is that for me?"