Travis spends the entirety of the emergency meeting that he, himself, called, wishing he had some way to get out of it. He tells the med techs that he doesn't blame them for them being shit at their jobs, in much nicer words than that. He reminds them that the nurse who came before him was a fucking dipshit, without actually calling her that. He tells them that they will be having mandatory in-service training sessions to fix the areas of failure he's found. He makes sure they know the gravity of this current situation, that if they are found at fault for their patient's death, that they could be looking down the barrel of DPH putting the building in stop placement, and the possibility of some of them losing their jobs and licenses. He reminds them that this particular patient has a son with a grudge, who hated them all on a good day and is already threatening to sue them for neglect as it is. He rushes through explaining to them how the alert system is supposed to work, that the legal minimum is seventy-hours, and that they've been fucking up med orders for years. After stripping them of the ability to enter new orders at all, and telling them that any new physician orders have to go through Travis himself, he tries to reiterate that he's not mad at them. Based on the looks he gets from everyone but Jak, and the fact that Kurt looks like he's about to cry, he thinks he was probably coming off as a lot angrier than he intended.
Well, Travis is angry, right now, it's just got nothing to do with work, and he's trying his best to put a lid on it.
Travis has tried, very hard, to maintain a level of professionalism with his employees. Jak didn't count, because as the lead med tech, she was technically management, and only a small step below Travis in hierarchy. She had the power to eject caregivers from the schedule if she deemed it necessary, and was one of only two people who could put the unit into lock down, the other being Travis himself. He felt comfortable being himself around her, because he needed her to be his equal, and because she was also so god damn annoying that she brought out the bitchy side of him anyway. The rest of the med techs, though, didn't get to see that side of him. They saw the hard ass nurse who came in and tried to whip the building into shape. They saw a boss, who was tough on them and didn't let them get away with slacking like the previous RN had. Travis wants to keep it that way. Letting them see him sweat it out up at the front of the conference room because he just found out his asshole homophobic brother is having a baby and he doesn’t know how he’s supposed to feel about it? Not gonna happen.
"Any questions?" Travis asks, closing his tablet and sliding it into the bag he already has slung across his body.
"How are these in-service sessions going to work with my schedule?" Corin asks, as she too is halfway ready to leave.
"I'll figure the schedule out later this week and let you know." Travis says, already milling it over in the back of his mind. Corin is the flex schedule med tech, fills in the gaps that the other med techs leave when they take their days off. It's a batshit schedule that gives her a full twenty-four hour stretch every Saturday, and Travis actually has no idea how he can work around that without pushing them all into overtime.
"Travis?" Kurt is there, right in the path between Travis and the door. Travis looks up at him, into his pinched, sweaty face. Kurt is about twice Travis' age, balding and slow moving, but in this moment Travis feels like he's looking at a scared kid. He feels shit about it. Kurt really was good at his job, had a way with the patients that Travis had never seen. He is absolutely their favorite, and most of them even remember his name and face, which is unusual. Travis really, really hopes he doesn't have to fire him.
"Talk to Simone." Travis tells him. "Give her a detailed report. You were just following what you've been taught, nobody can hold that against you."
"Okay, thanks, boss." Kurt nods sadly, shuffling off.
"What's up your ass?" Jak asks, falling into step with Travis as he rushes out of the room.
"I'm going to lunch, I'll be back in an hour." Travis says, not slowing his pace as she has to powerwalk next to him.
"It's still morning, and we're having a crisis." Jak hisses.
"I'm having a fucking crisis, alright." Travis says, swiping his badge to get out the front door, and feeling sick to his stomach when it shuts behind him.
He thinks, just maybe, his priorities are a little skewed, right now.
Nolan probably should have seen it coming, but he hadn't expected it to be like this. At morning skate before the second game, he makes a joking attempt at a Michigan that Carter, who is unhurt and starting tonight, bats down with a curse and laugh. Then as he swings around the net, his brain splits in two. His left eye throbs, and the pain shoots so quickly across his skull, faster than it ever has, down and down, into his spine. His head spins, and he feels like his whole existence warps sideways. He bites back a groan, closes his eyes against the sudden pain, and just keeps skating. He takes a deep breath, which catches in his throat as nausea swims through him as he tries to swallow it down. His whole head throbs, and he drops his stick in a fumble, his hands just losing the strength to hold it anymore. He opens his eyes, looks down at his feet where he's gliding over the ice, forcing himself to just keep moving, get away from the net where pucks are still flying. The white of the ice blinds him, and his vision swims as his eyes fill with tears that he doesn't let fall.
Bullshit, it isn't supposed to happen like this. He'd been fine, he'd been doing just fucking fine.
Maybe Travis, with his cigarette the other night, had been too close?
Nolan doesn't know, but his neck pulses with pain, slumping as his head is suddenly too heavy for him to hold up. He shakes out of his gloves, reaches up and unclips his helmet with shaking hands. He pushes at it weakly, and just manages to get it askew but not all the way off.
He breathes deep, focuses on not throwing up on the ice as his eye and temple throb, and his vision blacks out completely in his left eye. He forces his head back up and it's agony, crippling, and he almost pukes because of it. His vision is blurry, black spots swimming, but it's not hard to pick out Wayne's familiar shape on the ice, and Nolan pushes weakly towards him. He closes his eyes again, lets himself drift lazily, doesn't worry too much about where he’s going as long as it's towards Wayne.
"Oh, fuck." Wayne says, gently, as Nolan skates bodily into him. Nolan doesn't respond, just whines weakly and tucks his face into Wayne's neck. He hates this, fucking hates this. This is bullshit, this is so fucked up, not fucking fair.
"Patrick, you alright?" comes one of the coaching staff, voice piercing against his ringing ears, so loud and painful that Nolan can't even tell who it is.
"Quiet." Wayne hisses. Wayne had already dropped his stick, wrapping one hand around Nolan's ribs, the other one reaching up to push his helmet the rest of the way off. It clatters to the ice noisily, and pain shoots through Nolan again, all the way down his body, radiating out from his skull and burying into his feet.
"Get him out of here." the coach says, and Nolan's tears finally fall at the tone he uses. It's not concern for Nolan that prompts that.
"Man." Wayne clicks his tongue, and Nolan can tell he wants to snap at the coach, but holds himself back. He just settles his big hand over Nolan's eyes, and skates slowly away. Nolan doesn't even try to help, just cries into Wayne's shoulder and lets himself be dragged along as his head and neck pulse in angry, throbbing agony.
Time seems to blur, as Wayne coaxes him into actually walking at one point, props him under his big arm, and speaks softly to him. "I got you, it's okay, I'm here, I'll take care of you, I got you." Nolan loses time between that and getting to the shower, but Wayne is washing his hair as Nolan's brain swims back to clarity. His big hands are so careful, rubbing gently against his scalp as Nolan sobs, the sound of his own distress piercing through his head. His whole mind throbs, and he does end up throwing up, right there down the shower drain. It makes him cry even worse, feeling useless and exhausted, part of him wishing Wayne would just leave him to suffer.
His head swims, and he loses some time again, because next thing he knows he's in his stall and Wayne is shoving a sweatshirt over his head. It was warm out today, so Nolan had come to practice in a t-shirt, and he doesn’t know how to communicate to Wayne that this isn’t his sweatshirt. His vision is gone, useless, so he can't make out anything when he tries to look down. He gets hit with a wave of nausea again though, so he just tucks his head and focuses on breathing deep. Then he notices the smell of the hoodie, lavender shampoo and a bit of sweat, the bite of a familiar all natural deodorant made from sage leaves and vanilla. Nolan doesn't know when he stopped crying, but he starts again when he realizes that Wayne has dressed him in Ivan's clothes to comfort him. Fucking Wayne Simmonds, too god damn good. Too good for this world, and certainly for the likes of Nolan. His head throbs again, deeper this time, and his whole body starts to shake, and he wishes, violently, that he were anybody else in the world, in a different body, a different life, where he didn't have to experience pain like this. This is such fucking bullshit.
The next thing he knows he's being lowered into a car, and voices are muttering gently around him.
"I have to film that stupid Gritty thing, I can't go home with him." Kevin says, sounding grief stricken about it.
"He can't be alone." Wayne says. Nolan wants to protest, because he's a grown fucking man, and he's suffered through plenty of migraines alone at this point, but his eye throbs and pain shoots through his spine, and he must let out a sound of pain because someone puts their hand on his head, brushes his wet hair back gently. It feels like Wayne, but Nolan can't really be sure at this point. He’s hit with a wave of pain, the origin of which he can't pinpoint, and it makes him arch his back off the car seat behind him, press into the hand on his head and whine in distress.
"Oh, Nolan." Kevin says, and the sound of his real name in Kevin's mouth just makes him feel worse, somehow.
"He can't come with me, he needs to go home, where his meds are." Wayne says.
"I have his meds, in my bag, hold on." Kevin says, and, wait, what? Nolan knew that Kevin carried his spare meds on roadies with them, in case Nolan's luggage got lost, but he didn't realize he just did it all the time. Nolan feels nauseous again, and just leans back in his seat, lets Wayne, or whoever, pet his hair gently as pain courses through him.
Some time must pass again, because the car is moving now, and Nolan has to throw up. He must make the need clear, somehow, because a plastic shopping bag is shoved into his hands. The act of throwing up hurts, radiates pain through his chest, threatens to suffocate him.
"Tellement désolé, mon petit." someone says, which makes no sense, because Wayne and Kevin don't speak French.
Sometime later, that Nolan doesn't know, he's in a bed, the scent of Ivan amplified as someone had raised the hoodie of the sweatshirt for him, and tucked him into bed loosely.
"Nolan, come on." someone is prompting, tone indicating it's not the first time they've said it. "Hey, yeah, here, come on, you gotta take this pill, okay?"
"Can't." Nolan croaks, rolling away from her as his stomach twists angrily again.
"You gotta try." Ryanne says, pressing her hand to his mouth, trying to get him to open up. He's seen her do that to Gavin, when he won't eat a vegetable, and it makes him want to cry. His head is pulsing too much, though, he doesn't think he has enough energy even for that.
"Wayne?" Nolan asks, trying to blink open his eyes. It's dark in the room, and he recognizes vaguely that he's in the guest room at the Giroux house, the one downstairs that's behind the bathroom and has only a small vent window. His vision isn't good enough to make anything out, really, just the vague blur of Ryanne where she's leaning over him on the bed.
"They're playing, Nolan." Ryanne says. "I'm so sorry." and she really sounds like she is, and it makes Nolan feel terrible. His left eye throbs in annoyance at him, and he closes his eyes again.
"Dying." he tells her, because he genuinely feels like it. A migraine hasn't hit him this hard in a long time, and he feels it through his whole body.
"I know, baby, I know." Ryanne says, sounding like she's the one in pain, like she wants to cry. "You gotta take this pill, okay, please?"
Nolan lets her put the pill on his tongue, but shakes his head when she tries to get him to drink water. He just lets it dissolve in his mouth, and hopes he doesn't puke it up.
"Don't leave me." he begs, tears threatening again.
"Okay, Nolan." she says. "Okay, I've got you."
He hears her shuffling around, probably kicking off those hideous fuzzy house slippers she always wears, and then she's climbing onto the bed with him. She stays on top of the covers, but curls up around him gently. He rolls over towards her, tucks his head up under her chin and lets her throw her leg over him, wrapping him up in warmth. She smells like her usual perfume, and a little bit like breast milk, and a lot like safety. She runs her fingers through his hair, with so much care that it makes Nolan feel fragile and weak.
Tears start all over again, and Nolan has just enough time to think about how much he wishes Travis were here, before he falls asleep.
Nolan wakes up when the bed dips, but he doesn't open his eyes. His migraine is still there, throbbing behind his left eye, pulsing at the top of his spine. He feels a lot of shuffling around going on, bodies shifting around him on the bed. Ryanne climbs over his body to get out, and then someone is climbing over him the other way, settling against him in her place.
"Did you get him to take the medicine?" Claude whispers, voice rumbling where his chest is pressed up against Nolan's arm.
"Yeah, finally. He's been asleep since." Ryanne whispers back. "Are you okay?"
"I'll be fine, go take care of Gavin." Claude sighs.
"Got it. You keep an eye on our first born son, then." she says, chuckling softly. It makes something warm bloom in Nolan's chest, when she says that.
Pain stabs pretty significantly through his left temple, then, and the brief glimpse of happiness vanishes. He curls up, pushing into Claude's space with a whine, seeking comfort. His captain's arms come up around him, and he shushes him gently. He mutters something in French, pressing the words against Nolan's sweaty hairline.
Claude begins to hum, one of those old sad French songs he likes, and Nolan slips back into sleep.
Nolan wakes up fully this time, because Claude is talking right above his head. It takes him a second to swim to consciousness, and his head still hurts, but it's a little witch, now. His body aches all over, but the pulsing of the pain has receded for the time being.
"We've still got the rest of the series. I'm sure you'll cry about it if we lose two more." Claude is saying, quietly, laughing a little.
"If we weren't gonna get the cup, you know I'd rather it be you." someone says, and the tinny quality of their voice tells Nolan it's coming from Claude's phone.
"I'm sure there are plenty of teams you’d like to see with the cup before the Flyers." Claude scoffs.
"It's not about the team, Clo. It's about you. You're an old man, now, you're gonna run out of chances at the cup." the guy says, and Nolan strains to place why his voice is familiar.
"Fuck you, ennemi juré." Claude says, without any heat at all.
"I'm serious, you deserve the cup." the guy says. "Well, if I can't have it again, anyway." then he laughs, weird and honking, and it registers to Nolan who it is. He must be, like, concussed and hallucinating, or dead and in some frozen-over Hell, to be in the world where Claude is just having this phone conversation so casually.
“So we lost?” Nolan asks, mumbling into Claude’s side.
“Hey, Patty." Claude says, gently. "Yeah, we're oh and two, now. We’ll worry about that in the morning, though. Did Sid’s duck laugh wake you up?”
"That laugh hurts my head on a good day." Nolan mumbles, tucking his face further into Claude's armpit, where he'd apparently settled at some point during his sleep.
"Isn't it just the worst noise you've ever heard?" Claude chuckles. He wiggles the arm that's under Nolan around enough that he can tuck it around Nolan's head. He rests his thumb on Nolan's temple, rubbing gently.
"You feeling okay, Nolan?" Crosby asks, ignoring Claude's insult entirely. Nolan imagines that he's probably used to them, by now. Nevermind that them being friends apparently is, like, the most mind boggling thing Nolan's ever witnessed.
"Fraternizing with the enemy." Nolan grumbles, wincing when his head throbs under Claude's hand.
"Yeah, well, when he gets in his head he wants to talk to someone, he just calls every thirty seconds until they pick up. He's a pest." Claude yawns, stretching his body in a full body shudder that Nolan can feel through his own, where they're pressed together down to their overlapping ankles.
"Claude mentioned you're having some issues with your head, when he answered, told me to be quiet." Crosby says. "I didn't ask for details, not my business. If you want, though, I have some remedies that really helped me out, you know? Stuff the trainers might not think of."
"Freaky Russian voodoo." Claude laughs, and Crosby makes an annoyed little sound.
"It's holistic. I told Claude I'd send him some things for you, if you'd like. A lot of it is Russian, but that's beside the point." Crosby says, sounding both annoyed with Claude and like he's got some genuine concern for Nolan. He supposes if anybody understands his frustration, his pain, it's Crosby. Like, hey, here's a guy who knows what it's like when his body betrays him, what it's like to have your brain torn in half with pain.
"That'd be nice, actually. Can't hurt to try everything, eh?" Nolan says, hoping Crosby can hear him from where his face is still smashed into Claude's ribs.
"I'll get some stuff together, for you." Crosby says.
"Might solve one of my problems." Nolan sighs. "Too bad you can't do much about the rest."
"I can try?" Crosby laughs, quieter this time, like he's reigning himself in now that he knows Nolan's awake and listening.
"I'd never admit it, but Sid ain't the worst person to get advice from." Claude shrugs, the motion actually making Nolan wince as it jostles his head around. Claude just rubs his temple in apology.
"You literally just admitted it by saying that." Crosby snorts.
"Don’t know how much advice you'd have for this." Nolan laughs, finally picking his head out of Claude's armpit so he can look up at his captain. The room is still dark, the only light coming from where Claude's phone is resting face down on his chest.
"I've been through some shit, Nolan." Crosby says, startling a laugh out of Nolan.
"Alright, well. I'm basically in love with this dude, and he seems to like me back but nothing has come of it. Which shouldn't matter, because it's not like I can date him anyway." Nolan mumbles, mostly into Claude's shirt, rushing his words since his own voice hurts his head as he talks.
"Why couldn't you date him?" Crosby asks. Nolan can just picture him, the tilt of his head and furrow of his brow.
"Don't be stupid." Nolan mumbles.
"He can't help that he's an idiot, Patty." Claude snorts. Nolan tries to make out his expression, but he can't tell. Can just see the vague shape of his nose and beard.
"Nothing from you, Clo, shut it." Crosby says. "And Nolan, please elaborate, just for the sake of it."
"I'm an NHL player, Crosby. And I have no interest in being outed." Nolan tells him.
"Nobody said you have to come out in order to date this man." Crosby says, like it's some obvious statement. "You might just end up like dozens of men before you, a carefully guarded open secret that nobody really talks about." Crosby laughs. "Or maybe you'll be braver than the rest, make history."
"Either option sounds like shit." Nolan grumbles, giving up on trying to see Claude's face and tucking his still-hurting head back into the man's armpit.
"Yeah, but if you're in love, if you've got someone to share your life with, sometimes that's enough." Crosby says, and Nolan can practically hear him shrugging.
"It doesn't really seem worth it." Nolan says. Something makes a clinking sound over the phone, loud enough to bother Nolan a little bit. Crosby laughs then, loud and honking again, and then Nolan hears the sound of a chair scraping against the floor.
"Wrong." is what is said, then, by someone who isn't Crosby.
And oh, oh.
Wow, okay. That voice is instantly familiar.
"Is worth it, is most important." Malkin says.
"Oh." Nolan says, lifting his head back up to blink dumbly at Claude. His nose and beard appear entirely unfazed.
"Yeah." Crosby says, a smile in his voice. "It's hard, Nolan, I won't lie to you."
"No, not hard." Malkin says. "Is easiest thing in world, be in love."
"Don't lie to him, Geno." Crosby snorts. "It's not easy, and sometimes it seems impossible, but it is worth it."
"Easy for me, but I'm always best." Malkin says.
Nolan has to admit, he thought the most shocking revelation he'd have about Sidney Crosby today was that he was on friendly phone call terms with Claude Giroux.
"Make them go away." Nolan sighs, shoving his face deeper into Claude's side. "Big witch is coming back."
Big Cat 💕 1:14PM : chestnuts!
Outgoing 12:19AM : WTF?
Big Cat 💕 12:19AM : i always watch what u eat to make sure i know if something is bad for u and both today and pens game u had provys wierd russian toast but the bread never bothered u before so i asked provy nd he put chestnut butter on the toast so its chestnuts!
Big Cat 💕 12:20AM : nd before u try and tell me the pens game migraine was bcuz of jake remember what i kno u patty and i luv u anyway
Outgoing 12:22AM : Thank you.