Rating: PG-13, violence and swearing
Characters: Dave Bolland, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, also Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook
Dedication: backcheck, thanks for answering all of my questions. :D
Disclaimer: It's all lies!
Author's Notes: Hockey/zombies AU. The Blackhawks are stuck in a hotel in Nashville when the zombie apocalypse hits. This is from the POV of Bolland. (Pies is Fernando Pisani).
The End of Time
"You look a little better today," you say to him. "You're going to be fine. Don't listen to those assholes--they don't know anything, they're not fucking doctors."
You think you see him respond to your words; fingers curl a little, eyelids twitch, lips part slightly. You start pacing around the room, but you never take your eyes off him.
"I know you're going to beat this, Jonny. You're not--you will never turn into one of those motherfucking things. Never. You're going to get better, then you're going to fucking figure out what to do. You're going to come up with a plan. You know what to say to the guys to get them to listen to you. Shit, it's all we can do to keep Pies and Sharpie from running off in the middle of the night to try to get back home. Can you imagine that? They want to fucking walk from Nashville from Chicago. Fucking shit for brains."
You stop talking for a while, aware that this isn't really what you want to tell him. You're just stalling verbally and random things are coming out. He cares about what you're saying - he cares for all of you deeply - but he shouldn't have to worry right now. He just has to get better. You think you shouldn't bother him with that other thing that you're thinking about, but you also know that time may be running out. You don't know what you'd do if you lost the chance to tell him so you take a deep breath and you force yourself to start talking again.
"I uhh, I have something to tell you. I don't really know how to tell you this. I don't know where to fucking start. It didn't happen because of any one thing; there wasn't some kind of sudden realization. It just was, you know? Like it had always been there."
You can't convert your thoughts into words anymore. Your mind is all over the place thinking about him: coming out of the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist as the water glistened on his bare chest, him imitating Kaner to make fun of him and inadvertently being even funnier, him sitting on the team bus, deep in thought as you wondered desperately how he'd react if he knew about you.
The door opens behind you just as you're about to continue and you turn around. It's Kaner, standing in the doorway as if he's afraid to come in. There are dark circles under his eyes and he looks like he's aged ten years in three days.
"Hey, you should go sleep in a room with some of the other guys. It's fucking freezing in here. You can't-" Kaner stopped and swallowed hard. "I don't think you can do anything more for him."
"I'm staying here tonight," you say curtly, looking away from Kaner.
"Are you sure? Aren't you afraid that-" He doesn't finish his sentence, glancing instead at Jonny.
"He's going to get better. And I'm not afraid; I'm not a chickenshit like you." You look right at Kaner as you say this, and you see his eyes narrow and a brief flash of anger, but then he just goes back to looking weary and resigned.
"Fine, you do what you want. We've got other problems to deal with. I think Duncs wants to tie Pies and Sharpie down for the night to stop them from going, but there's other guys who want to go back too. It's going to get ugly."
Kaner slams the door with a healthy amount of anger, and you're furious, yourself. You know you'll never forgive him for what he's done. But then you see Jonny, and you start to forget about all of that and remember what you were going to tell him.
"I'm sorry about that," you sigh. "Look, I don't have a big speech or explanation or anything. I've tried to think of what to say a thousand times--how to say it just right, how to tell you so you won't get mad, so it won't fuck everything up. But I got nothing. I just..."
You sit on the edge of the bed and you lean in towards him, lowering your voice even though you know there's nobody in the adjacent rooms. You know if you wait any longer you'll start second guessing yourself and all of the voices that tell you what a colossal mistake you're making will get louder and louder in your head, so you force yourself to talk right here, right now, while there's still time.
"Jonny, I love you."
"You're better today," you say, trying to be encouraging. He turns his head slightly towards you and you think for a moment that he's going to open his eyes and say something to you, but he just lays there, and you slump a little in disappointment.
"I tried to bring you some food but Duncs wouldn't let me. He says that all the food is being rationed now. There's too many of those fucking things waiting for us to go down to the hotel kitchen and it's getting more dangerous to make food raids. So we have to eat everything in that room and not take stuff out so nobody steals any shit. Can you fucking believe that? We're like fucking prisoners."
You don't tell Jonny that when you told Duncs that the food was for him, he just shook his head. Like he'd already given up on Jonny. You tried to take the food anyway, but Seabs and Brian grabbed you and the fucking assholes tossed you out of the room. You screamed and screamed and screamed at them but they just ignored you and the door remained closed.
"So uhh, have you thought about what I said to you yesterday?" You chuckle nervously, even though it isn't funny. You don't expect him to magically wake up and declare his love for you in return, but you're scared to death that he'll be disgusted with you, that he'll pity you and worst of all, that he'll hate you.
"I don't know how it happened," you say. "I just know I've never felt this way before. It's not a stupid crush. I'd give my fucking life for you, you know?"
You hear the room door open, and you turn around to see Kane there again. He's still standing in the doorway as if there's a force field preventing him from entering the room.
"Hey, you okay?" He asks, not quite looking at you.
The sight of him sends you into a rage, and you want to go over there and beat the shit out of him. It should have been you, you think. Not Jonny, it should have been you.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" you growl. "You have no right."
"I wanted to make sure you're okay," he says. "But I also wanted to see Jonny."
"You want to see him, asshole? You can't even step into the fucking room!" You sneer at him, watching him flinch.
"Why did you sleep in this room last night? Why won't you leave this room? You only left to get food and you didn't even want to get it for yourself--you wanted to get it for him. It's over for Jonny, but we could use your help."
His words send you over the edge and you run at him, grabbing his shoulders and slamming him into the wall hard. He struggles to escape your grasp but you draw your arm back and punch him in the face, bloodying his lip. You get another couple of punches in before your arms are grabbed and you're dragged away from Kaner. He backs away from you, wiping the blood off his face.
Duncs steps in front of you and he's furious. He punches you hard in the gut, and you bend over, sickened.
"I don't have time to deal with this shit. We had another breach this morning. Two of those fuckers made their way up here. All we've got are busted up chair legs and the one fucking fire axe to finish them off. If more of them find us we're fucked. It's only a matter of time before they block off our access to the hotel kitchen, and pretty much all of the fresh food is spoiled at this point, anyway. Sharpie still wants to fucking walk back to Chicago when we all know he's going to be eaten before he can even get out of Nashville.
"And now you're pulling this shit on me. Trying to steal food, then attacking Kaner. Spending all your time in that room. I thought I could count on you. I thought when all of this went down, you'd be one of the guys who could handle things, but instead you fucking fall apart on me.
"You know what? You fucking love this room so much? Why don't you just stay in there?"
Duncs turns to Seabs, who had stopped me from connecting with my fourth punch. "Toss him in the room. Then get a chair and wedge it under the door handle. Let him settle down a little bit and we'll let him out tomorrow."
Seabs looks concerned, relaxing his hold on me now that I've stopped struggling. "You want to put him in there with Jonny? What if-" He leaves the question hanging and it's good he did, because you would have gone after him as well if he finished it.
"It's going to be fine," Duncs says. "Go on, do it."
Hammer is the other guy restraining you and he turns you around roughly, shoving you towards the room. Seabs assists him with the task, but whispers to you, "I'm sorry."
You nod at him, starting to feel the sting in your knuckles and you straighten my fingers, wincing a little. "It's okay, I want to be in there."
Seabs looks at you with a combination of confusion and pity. He's given up on Jonny, too. You're the only one who still has hope; you're the only one who's there for him.
You turn your back on them and go to Jonny; he's still laying there peacefully, just the way you left him. Behind you, you can hear them jamming a chair under the door handle so you can't get out until they let you.
You wouldn't want to leave anyway.
You hear someone at the door the next morning. You can hear him moving the chair out of the way, then the handle turns and the door opens. It's Kaner again, and this time, after a brief hesitation, he walks into the room, shivering as his breath frosts in the air. His lip is swollen and his eye is red, almost ready to start turning purple.
He stands next to you, unafraid, but you think that he was probably more scared of coming into this room than of you. He takes a deep breath, getting a good look at Jonny for the first time in three days. The two of you watch him quietly together. You look out for any movement, any sign that he could be waking up.
"He looks like he's sleeping," Kaner says finally. "Like he's just going to wake up, and he's going to get us out of this mess."
You don't say anything in response, but you feel your anger at him subside a little.
Kaner closes his eyes. "There was another breach. This time it was five of them. I think Pies may have gotten scratched. We can't make a stand here until spring, like Duncs wants. There's no way we have enough food. More of them show up every time there's a breach. It's only a matter of time until we're overrun. We have to take what we can and leave. Not to go back to Chicago, but just to find a better, more defensible place with food and water supplies."
He opens his eyes and you can see that he's tearing up. He swallows hard and keeps talking, looking right at Jonny. "He would have known this. He would have been able to make everyone listen and follow him--there wouldn't be all of this fighting. Duncs is trying, I know, but he's not Jonny. Nobody's going to replace him."
He lowers his voice, almost to a whisper, and you have to strain to hear him even though he's right next to you. "It should have been me. He shouldn't have tried to help me--it was all my fucking fault. I was just so tired. I thought I could fight through it, I thought I could stay awake. I should have gotten someone else to take over. Goddamn it, I had one fucking thing to do, just watch the fucking stairs and I failed."
You want him to stop talking because you know all of this already and you've relived the scene in your mind repeatedly for the past four days. By the time you came out of your room to see what was going on, it was already too late. The thing was taking a bite out of Jonny's arm, and there was Kaner, cowering on the ground against the wall. Duncs took an axe to its head and there was nothing left of its face by the time he was done, but none of that helped Jonny. The fever started soon afterwards and twelve hours later, he was delirious.
"Is this what you're going to fucking do?" you ask, grabbing his shoulders and making him face you. He flinches like he's afraid you'll hit him again, but all you're going to do is talk. "He saved your life, and all you're going to do now is fucking cry about it? You want to make what he did mean something? Do what he would have done. Take the guys and get the fuck out of here. Go find your safe haven."
He nods, blinking hard. "Will you help me? Talk the guys into leaving, I mean."
You shake your head. "I'm not leaving. I'm staying here with Jonny."
His jaw drops open in shock, and he just stares at you, unable to speak for a while. "But--but why would you do that?"
"Because he's going to get better. I can't leave him by himself," you answer.
"He's not going to get better. Why are you saying this? I don't understand." Kaner looks more confused.
"We don't know how the Bug works. There's still a chance."
"No, there isn't!" he says adamantly. "Don't you get it? Jonny died three days ago. And then after he died, you came into this room and you didn't leave and none of us knew why."
You stare at him, but the words don't quite register. Kaner must be mistaken, he must be terribly, terribly wrong.
"Don't you remember? We all knew he was close, and we all came here, one at a time to say goodbye to him." He pauses, like he's trying to remember something. "Everyone except you--you were the only one who never came to talk to him. I didn't understand why you didn't; you guys weren't close, but you must have had something to say to him, something to tell him before--before the end.
"And then we didn't know what to do with him. We couldn't just chop him up into pieces and throw him down the elevator shaft, like we do with the others. So we put him out there, on the balcony, where he can't hurt us. Don't you remember any of this?" He looks at you with desperation.
"You're wrong. He's not dead; I've been talking to him and he hears me. I see him move and I know he's listening to me." You step closer to Jonny. "Hey, can you hear me? Do something, please, I need to know you're still there."
Jonny's hand twitches.
Kaner backs away quickly, covering his mouth in horror, then stutters, "I--I can't--I--" He turns around and walks out of the room without looking back.
You kneel on the ground beside the glass and press your palm to it, near his hand. Jonny opens his eyes and looks at you, slowly raising his arm to place his own hand against yours on the other side of the glass.
You're still there hours later when Kaner comes by with some of the other guys, trying to convince you to leave with them. He's almost sick with desperation, but you think he knows that he's not going to be able to take you with him unless you do it willingly.
"I don't understand," he said. "Why are you giving up? I know the world's gone to shit, but we have to keep going."
You smile at him and wish him luck, and tell him that you know he'll be just fine. You give him a hug and you say goodbye to all of the guys. They're reluctant to leave you, but they know that it's time to go.
"They're all gone now, Jonny," you say. "It's just you and me left here. Kaner's in charge of them now. Yeah, I know. Fucking Kaner. But I think he's going to do all right."
Jonny opens his mouth now, like he's trying to talk to you, but you don't understand what he's saying.
"I had so much to tell you before, you know? But I never could. It would never have worked out, not the way I wanted it to--not the way I needed it to. But it's a whole new world now, because of them. Everything's different now."
You hear slow knocking on the door, the sound of shuffling feet moving along the hallway carpet. You think that there are at most ten out there, but you also know that more will come.
Jonny is still opening and closing his mouth, and you can't hear him through the thick glass. You think that maybe if you opened the door and went out on the balcony, you could hear what he's saying.
But you sit there and you keep talking to him, knowing that if you ever want to listen, Jonny is right there.