The Invincible M.A.E. (harleymae) wrote,
The Invincible M.A.E.

Heart in a Box, 5

Title: Heart in a Box
Author: Mae
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.

I always wanted to finish this. Can't believe it's been more than 2 years.

Heart in a Box, 5

They won again the next night in Toronto, and Joe picked up another two assists. He did it in front of his family and his hometown friends in a strange jersey that had begun to fit him more quickly than he could have imagined.

As he hugged his parents and caught up with old friends after the game, it occurred to him that he was already thinking about the next game, about the adjustments he had to make to fit in with the new system he was learning, about what he was going to order from room service later at the hotel.

But there was one thing he wasn't thinking about--he wasn't thinking about the Bruins at all.

Patty didn't come up to their room with Joe when the bus got back to the hotel. Joe ordered the ice cream sundae he'd been thinking about earlier from room service, licking the whipped cream off his spoon and crunching the nuts slowly between his teeth.

It was seeing his mother that had made him think of sundaes. When he was a boy, she would make one for him after his hockey games. A reward for playing well, she would say, but there would be a sundae waiting for him even after games where his team had been shut out. In her eyes Joe always played well, for the simple reason that he was her son. And Joe learned that no matter what happened in hockey, he would always be someone who deserved an ice cream sundae.

It was already late when the team got back to the hotel, and after he finished his sundae, Joe started to worry that Patty hadn't come back to the room yet. He called Patty, pacing around the room as the phone rang a few times then went to voicemail. As he passed the window for the third time, he saw something out in the parking lot through the snow that was drifting down slowly from the dark sky.

He wasn't sure why he did it, but he left his room and took the elevator down to the lobby, walking outside towards the thing he had seen, homing in on it. He should have been surprised that he had found Patty by instinct, but he wasn't. He was too preoccupied with the shock that Patty was standing in the freezing cold with just his shirt on, his suit jacket discarded on the ground by him. He was covered with a light dusting of snow, like a giant had picked him up by his feet and dipped him in powdered sugar.

"Jesus, what are you doing out here? You must be freezing." Joe took his own coat off, shivering involuntarily in the cold as he moved to brush the snow off of Patty's face and body.

Patty turned his head at the touch, apparently noticing Joe for the first time. Joe started, unnerved by the distant look in Patty's eyes; it seemed as if his body was in this world, but his soul was in another. Tiny snowflakes coated the ends of his eyelashes and clung to their position stubbornly as he blinked.

"I'm not cold, Joe," he said softly as he let him guide his arms into the sleeves of Joe's coat. "I don't feel it at all."

Joe ignored him, brushing rust red clumps of snow from Patty's chest and resisting the urge to wipe his hands. His teeth were starting to chatter and he wanted to hurry back inside. He picked Patty's jacket up and they walked back into the welcome warmth of the hotel together.

He hadn't been with the team long but he already knew that there were some questions that you just didn't ask and he stayed silent as he helped Patty into their room, helped him into bed. It was only later when he had undressed and gotten into bed himself that he realized that he was mistaken about what Patty had said.

What he'd really said was I don't feel at all.

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