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, 9
Alyn McCauley invited Patty to spend Christmas with him and his family. Nabby extended the same invitation, and he was also invited to Christmas dinner with Cheech, Fahey, Tom Preissing and Josh Langfeld. He turned everyone down; he barely had a sense of taste anymore and he was worried that his bandages might soak through--his teammates may have accepted him as he was, but he didn't want to make their wives come face to face with his condition.
He was surprised when his doorbell rang on Christmas Eve and he found Joe standing at his door with a bottle of Cabernet and a huge grocery bag. He had brought roast chicken, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gingerbread and had even found butter tarts somewhere. Patty watched him as he ran down the list of everything he'd brought, excitedly presenting everything as if he was some sort of door-to-door Christmas dinner salesman.
"Aren't you going to let me in?" Joe asked, when he'd finished.
Patty stepped aside and Joe laid out a feast on the dining room table. They ate and drank and Patty tried everything, even though he could only tell the dishes apart by their textures. They finished the bottle of wine that Joe had brought, then opened one of Patty's Zinfandels, and when they were done with that, they opened another bottle of Cabernet.
Joe started talking about Boston, really talking about Boston. He talked about all of the expectations and how they'd weighed on him, but it wasn't that he thought they were unfair. It was that he'd believed he could meet every one of those expectations. He had failed, and he hadn't failed at anything in his life before, not really, and he didn't know how to fix that. He would never have the chance to fix that. It wasn't something he thought about all the time, or even some of the time; he was a hockey player, and hockey players lived in the shift, in the moment. But this was something that was buried inside him, and he would never be able dig it out.
Patty listened to him silently, not quite drunk even after all that wine. Hearing what Joe said made him feel uncomfortable, and he hadn't felt that - hadn't felt much of anything - for a while. The blood started flowing from his cut again and he raised his hand to cover his chest but Joe grabbed his arm and pushed it down. He pulled Patty's shirt off and pressed his palm to the cut, feeling the bump of every stitch press into his skin, and when he closed his eyes, he started to hear that muffled thumping again, the same sound he'd heard in the hotel room that first night they'd roomed together.