It's not like Travis really means to run his mouth. He knows it was a tough loss, that the team is pissed and frustrated. He's upset too; anyone who thinks he's not can fuck right off. It's just that Patty's got that look on his face, the one that makes Travis's heart clench, and he wants to distract him, make him smile, try to get his mind off of the loss. So he starts talking. He tries to keep his voice down so just Patty hears him and he doesn't even really know what he's saying, just blabbering in the hopes that Patty's shoulders will start to relax and that haunted look will leave his eyes. He's stripping out of his gear, eyes fixed on his own pads as he slings them off to keep himself from watching the expanse of Nolan's sweaty back, when G's voice cuts him off.
"Teeks, will you shut the fuck up for five minutes?" he says from across the room, a steely edge beneath the words. Travis startles and looks around for the first time, takes in the annoyed glances thrown at him from around the room, the way Nolan's curled in on himself, looking anywhere but at Travis.
"Oh. Sorry," Travis mumbles, stomach sinking. It's by far not the first time he's been told to shut up, and it won't be the last, but something about way G said it, the way the team - his family- is looking at him hits harder than normal. Nolan keeps his eyes firmly on the far wall and Travis clenches his teeth to stop himself from saying something else, spouting off another apology. He's already undressed so he does the only thing he can think to do and rushes to the showers. His mind is still racing, going over every detail of the game, every flubbed pass, every missed shot, what he needs to work on for next time. He spends longer in the shower than he should, enough time for most of his teammates to get in and out. He's hoping most of them will be gone by the time he's done. He's jittery despite his exhaustion, his blood rushing through him like it's on fast forward. He needs to get home asap and find a way to burn all this energy off.
Patty's one of the only guys left in the room when Travis finally makes his way back. He's waiting for Travis, fully dressed but leaning back in his stall with his eyes closed. He forgot they rode in together. He wants to apologize for holding him up, but Travis keeps his mouth shut, glad that some of the tension has finally drained from Patty's shoulders. He doesn't want to ruin it. He's just pulling his shirt on when Patty peeks an eye open and looks at him.
"What's the matter with you?" he grumbles.
"Hm?" Travis hums, sitting down to pull his shoes on.
"You're freaking me out," Patty says a little louder. Travis doesn't really know what that means so he just shrugs, mumbles a sorry again. He stands up and grabs his bag, ready to get out of here as soon as possible. Nolan stands and follows him, shooting Travis strange looks, but he doesn't say anything else either. Travis is glad he drove today so he has something to focus on. He turns the music up louder than normal and sings along while Nolan goes between staring out the window and side-eyeing him. Whatever, Travis is just trying to help. He can't remember the last time he went this long without talking, and every time something starts to slip out of his mouth the mental image of Patty's annoyed face- his real annoyed face, not his fake one- slips back into his mind and it's easy to stop.
When he parks the car, he grabs his bag and rushes out of the parking garage so fast that he makes it inside the door before Patty's even fully out of the car. He rushes up to his apartment and locks the door behind him, not that he expects Patty to come waltzing in after him. He does go hit the weights he keeps in his spare room for a little while to burn off some of his excess energy, but he doesn't want to overdo it after playing a game. Thankfully, by the time he's finished and showered again he feels like he can take a deep breath and relax, settling into bed and ignoring the pit that's still settled in his stomach. He finally checks his phone right before he rolls over to go to sleep and sees a text from Nolan, just a question mark and an angry face. He doesn't respond.
They ride to practice together the next day and Travis tries, he really does, but when they're stuck in the drive through waiting for their breakfast he can't hold it in anymore and launches into a detailed description of the last episode of this fishing show he's been watching. He's confused when Patty seems to relax, even giving up a small smile that he tries not to let Travis see. But Travis does see. The small ball of hurt that had been sitting in his gut vanishes. He should've known better than to think Nolan was annoyed at him; he never hesitates to tell Travis when he's being too much, and last night he didn't say a word. Travis was overreacting.
When they're on the ice for practice, G pulls Travis aside. "Hey," he says quietly. "I just wanted to apologize for snapping at you last night. I was frustrated from the game and I didn't mean to-"
"It's okay," Travis cuts him off with a smile. He's feeling better about the whole thing now, and Travis knows G didn’t mean anything by it. "Promise, G."
"You sure?" Claude raises a skeptical eyebrow. "You went basically mute afterwards." Travis shrugs.
"I was only talking to try and calm Pats down and it wasn't working anyway." He'll never admit, even under threat of death, that his feelings had been hurt. And anyway, he's over it. He made Nolan smile this morning. Claude's other eyebrow raises to join the first.
"Alright," he agrees, clapping a hand on Travis's shoulder. "Get back to work, then."
"Aye aye, captain!"
Travis is over it, okay? He is. Sure, sometimes the thoughts pop up in his head that maybe he's talking too much or annoying everyone or making an ass of himself, but most of the time he's fine. And if sometimes people tell him to shut up and he goes quiet for a little while, ignoring the tightening in his chest, at least no one notices. They're happy with the silence, and if it means dealing with the hurt feelings for a little while, it's worth it.
And then one day Nolan doesn't meet Travis in their usual spot by the front door when they're supposed to head to practice, and when he checks his messages he doesn't have anything from him. A little knot of worry forms as he heads back up to Nolan's floor, using the spare key Nolan gave him to let himself into the apartment. He doesn't yell out just in case this is a migraine situation and heads back to Nolan's bedroom. Sure enough, the lights are off and Nolan's buried underneath a blanket.
"Patty?" Travis asks quietly from the door. The blanket groans. "Did you call coach?"
"Yeah," Patty mumbles. "Forgot to text you."
"That's ok," Travis assures him, taking a few steps into the room. "Do you need anything? I can get you some water or something. Have you taken your medicine?" He spots the bottle on the bedside table. "Oh, looks like you have. Here, I'll turn the thermostat down and get you another blanket. Is there anything else you need?"
"Shut. Up." Nolan hisses. The words hit Travis in the face. Why is he so stupid? He knows how to handle Nolan's migraines by now, and step #1 is to stay quiet. Why can't he keep his mouth shut for one fucking second? He hurries out of the room as quietly as he can and stops by the thermostat to turn it down before grabbing a blanket and a glass of water, stopping by the freezer last minute to grab an ice pack and wrap it in a dish towel. He sneaks back into Nolan's room and sets the water and ice pack on the bedside table before spreading the blanket on top of the one Nolan's already under. He runs to the bathroom and grabs the small trash can just in case and sets it on the floor next to Nolan's bed.
"Here's a trash can and an ice pack if you need it," Travis whispers. "Call me if you need anything." Nolan doesn't answer, possibly asleep or possibly ignoring him, and Travis lets himself out of the apartment. He can't stop himself from worrying about Patty; it might as well be in his DNA, the need to make sure Nolan's happy and healthy. He's not on top of his game at practice and Kev notices, skating over to rough him up a little bit.
"Nols okay?" he asks, guessing the reason for Travis's distraction by the distinct absence of Nolan by his side.
"Has a migraine," Travis explains. "I checked on him this morning. He was sleeping when I left."
"Aw, it's okay, Teeks," Kev says, pulling Travis into a headlock. "With you looking after him, he'll be okay. The force of your love will heal him."
"Fuck off," Travis laughs, shoving him away. He can't stop the flush on his cheeks, though. He hopes his crush on Patty isn't that obvious, but he usually doesn't bother to hide how much he cares about him. What can he say, he's a loyal little menace. When he decides he cares about someone, he'll do anything for them.
He picks up some lunch on the way home from the place Patty usually likes when he's sick and heads up to his apartment. He lets himself in again and slips into the bedroom, picking up the empty water glass and heading to the kitchen to refill it. He sets it back down and lays a hand on Nolan's shoulder. "Nolan," he says, loud enough to wake him up but not loud enough to hurt. Nolan groans and opens his eyes, blinking up at him. "I brought food. You need to eat." Nolan sighs and grumbles under his breath but he works his way up to lean against the headboard, accepting the food Travis hands him. Travis looks around again, making sure he still has his blanket and the trash can within reach before picking up the bag that has his own food left in it. He turns to leave, to head back to his apartment and let Nolan eat in peace before Nolan stops him.
"Where are you going?" he asks in a rough voice. Travis turns and wants to laugh at his grumpy face. He shouldn't find it as adorable as he does.
"Back to mine. Figured you'd want some peace and quiet." Travis explains. Nolan rolls his eyes.
"Sit down, dumbass," he demands. Travis hesitates for a second, but resolves that as long as he can keep his mouth shut he'll be fine to stay. He sits next to Nolan in the dark and pulls his food out. "How was practice?" Nolan asks after a few minutes of silence.
"It was fine. The usual," Travis shrugs. "Missed you." He doesn't say anything else and when Nolan turns his head to look at him, Travis looks back. Nolan's squinting at him, but that's probably just the migraine. "How are you feeling?"
"Better. Thanks for lunch." Travis grins at him and then turns back to his own food. Another few minutes of silence pass and Travis starts gathering up the trash as Nolan finishes up eating. He goes to the kitchen to throw everything away and put the ice pack back in the freezer before coming back to stand in Nolan's doorway.
"Do you need anything else?" he asks. Nolan stares at him, stone faced.
"Stay," he says flatly. Travis blinks and watches a flush build in Nolan's cheeks. Nolan usually doesn't want him to stick around during his migraines. Maybe running his mouth really did annoy Nolan and now that he's being quiet Nolan likes him better. The thought hurts. "I'll probably fall back asleep, just… sit with me. Please." Obviously, Travis isn't going to say no if this is what will make Nolan happy so he waits for Nolan to settle back in before laying next to him on top of the covers.
He can't stop jiggling his foot, staring at the ceiling for a few minutes before pulling his phone out to play a game. It doesn't hold his attention very long before he drops the phone on his chest and turns his head. He's surprised to see Nolan looking at him from where his eyes are peeking above the blanket.
"Why are you so quiet?" Nolan mumbles just loud enough for Travis to hear. "You're freaking me out."
"I thought that's what you wanted," Travis says. Nolan gives him a scathing look.
"Talk to me, idiot," he demands, closing his eyes.
"About what?" Travis asks. Nolan's eyes pop open again.
"Trav, since when do you need me to give you something to talk about?" he asks. Travis shrugs, turning over to face him. He starts talking about practice, about the road trip they're leaving on tomorrow, about the conversation he had with his mom the night before, all the while he watches Nolan's eyes close, the tension Travis hadn't noticed in his shoulders bleeding away. He trails off once he thinks Nolan's asleep, taking in the way his eyelashes fan across his cheeks, his hair trailing down the side of his face. He's beautiful.
"Keep going," Nolan says, startling Travis. He has to close his eyes so he doesn't get caught staring as he starts in on another random story. Eventually he talks himself to sleep, trailing off in the middle of a sentence.
When he wakes up from his nap, Nolan's not in the bed. Travis takes a second to stretch, letting out a big yawn, and when he opens his eyes again Nolan's standing in the doorway.
"Where'd you go?" Travis asks.
"Bathroom," Nolan says, coming back to wrap himself back up in his blanket. He's laying facing Travis so Travis turns over to face him again. "You don't like it when people tell you to shut up," Nolan says, and Travis is so shocked that his mouth drops open and he rears back like he's been hit.
"What?" he asks, louder than he meant to. Nolan winces.
"Every time someone tells you to shut up you get really quiet for awhile." Travis should've known that Nolan noticed. He's quiet and he's observant and he knows Travis better than a lot of the people that have known Travis his whole life. He doesn't really know what to say. He's not going to lie to Nolan, but he doesn't want to make it a bigger deal than it is.
"I mean, I don't love it," Travis admits. "But it's not, like, a thing."
"It's kinda a thing," Nolan argues. "I said it this morning to see if I was right and you've barely said anything all day until I made you."
"You have a migraine," Travis reminds him. "Usually you kick me out when you have a migraine but you wanted me to stay today, and the only thing different was that I was being quiet." Nolan doesn't say anything for long enough to convince Travis that he'd made his point. He sighs and rolls over onto his back. It's not Nolan's fault.
"I like listening to you talk," comes the quiet voice next to him. Travis's head whips around but Nolan's not looking at him. "You don't get annoyed when I don't say anything back. And I like your stories. You make me laugh." He's blushing so furiously that Travis wonders if he'll catch on fire. What it would feel like under his hand.
"Yeah?" he asks, and if it comes out a little breathless… well, he has no excuse. That's the sweetest fucking thing Nolan's ever said to him. Probably that anyone's ever said to him. Nolan doesn't answer but his eyes dart up to meet Nolan's and he smiles, just a little bit. "Thanks, Patty." Travis has the familiar impulse to reach out and push Nolan's hair away from his face, and this time he doesn't stop it. He lets his fingers trail down Nolan's cheek as he pulls his hand away and watches as the flush darkens. "I know I can be too much, though. Sometimes the guys… I just get on their nerves. I get it. Even you tell me when I'm too much."
"It's not that you're too much, Teeks." Nolan looks frustrated, like he can't find the words to say what he wants. "It's just like… I'm an introvert and you're an extrovert, right?" Travis nods. "So sometimes I need some time to just be without anything going on, and that has nothing to do with you. So when I ask you to be quiet it has nothing to do with you talking too much, and has everything to do with me just being… me. Okay?"
"Okay." Travis finds himself smiling. "I like that you tell me. That way you don't get mad at me."
Nolan snorts. "Communication is key, Travis. Stop smiling at me like that." Travis can't do anything about his grin, so instead he reaches out and pokes at Nolan's face until he bats Travis's hand away.
"I love you, Patty." Travis doesn't mean to say it, but he means it. He doesn't panic, not when he sees Nolan's face soften, the understanding in his eyes. Travis has the strange feeling that they're on the edge of something new and maybe a little scary, something that has his heart racing and his breath coming faster.
"I love you too, Teeks."