Max woke up an early Sunday morning, confused and dizzy. He didn’t recognize the room as his own, and Orion was nowhere to be found. As per routine, his first thought automatically went to checking his sugar level. The hockey player hobbled out of bed and across the room, all the way to his duffel bag. He was suddenly extremely light-headed and tired.
Something was wrong.
His panic only worsened when he couldn’t find his trustworthy glucometer.
Max slammed open the bedroom door and rushed down the narrow staircase, keeping a firm grip on the railing. He could hear sizzling coming from the kitchen, like bacon cooking on a frying pan. Seeing an occupied Brendan Gallagher must have triggered some memories, because they all came rushing back. He had slept over, too tired to finish the drive back to his condo after getting off the plane at 1 in the morning.
“Glad to see you’re finally awake,” Brendan said as he turned around.
His heart literally skipped a beat the moment he saw Max, who was trembling and heavily leaning against the doorframe. He turned off the stove and rushed to Domi’s aid, gripping his elbow to keep him steady. He rushed his ill friend to the couch in the living room, catching him when he stumbled along the way.
Something wasn’t right. He was pale and sweaty, giving the impression that he could pass out at any moment. He cautiously laid him across the sofa and kneeled down next to him. “What’s wrong? Are you sick?”
The faint-looking hockey player shook his head and grimaced. “I don’t...I think...Need my insulin pump.” Brendan visibly paled. If he was worried before, it was nothing compared to the numbing panic he felt now. “Where is it?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?” “It’s not in my duffel bag.” “Okay, just stay here. I’ll be right back.”
He ran upstairs and into the guest bedroom, where Max had slept. He didn’t have to look for long though, since Max’s diabetes bag was on top of the nightstand, in plain sight.
He took it and sprinted downstairs, shoving it into his friend’s shaking hands. Max expertly pricked his index finger with the needle and anxiously strummed his fingers against the wall and hardwood floor while awaiting the results.
His right eyebrow lifted confusedly, when he saw the number on the display screen. “What’s wrong?” Brendan asked again. Max shut his eyes and let his head rest on the pillow.
“Should I call 911? The med trainers?” “It’s okay, it’ll pass soon.” “You sure?” “Yeah don’t worry, I’ve been through worse.”
Max sat up after a couple minutes. He tried standing up next, only for his knees to buckle from under his weight. Brendan laced an arm around his defined waist and hoisted him back onto the couch. He forcibly took a couple deep breaths to calm himself down.
The ground was still spinning beneath him, but at least he didn’t feel as weak as before. “How’re you feeling?” Max’s face went green as the bile rose in his throat and gagged. Not wanting to puke all over Gallagher’s living room, he frantically stood up from the couch and stumbled his way to the sink.
He leaned over the sink and let his body expel whatever it was rejecting. Brendan ran next to him. Max’s knees buckled again, and he would’ve fallen to the ground had Gally not heroically caught him in time.
It was the first time Brendan realized just how hot Max’s skin was, and sat him against the cabinets. He handed him the trash bin from under the sink and left to go get a thermometer from the bathroom.
He came back mere moments later with the thermometer in his hand and sat down next to his friend. It took a couple more minutes for him to finish expelling whatever foul substance he had left in his stomach. Gallagher seized the opportunity and inserted the thermometer into Max’s mouth, surprised and more importantly, worried, when he didn’t complain.
It finally beeped at 99.7°F, and Brendan sighed exasperatedly. “Do I have a fever?” Gally nodded before standing back up and offering Max a hand. “Let’s get you back in bed...” He grabbed Domi’s elbow and eased him to a standing position. When he seemed steady enough, Brendan helped him up the staircase.
About halfway to the second floor, another dizzy wave hit and Max was forced to grip onto his teammate’s shirt and railing for dear life. Brendan glanced sideways to get a good look at Max. His face had grown much paler and sweating profusely, even if his cheeks were flushed with sickness.His toned body was wracked with shivers and knuckles turning white from from grasping the front of Brendan’s t-shirt.
“What’s wrong?” Max’s legs gave out from under him, completely unresponsive. “Holy fuck!” Brendan yelled. There was heat literally rolling off his shaking form, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out that his temperature had gone up. Gallagher manhandled Max up the last couple of stairs and laid him down in his king-sized bed.
Max groaned as he lied flat on the mattress, letting the memory foam swallow him whole. His teammate came back from the en-suite bathroom with a wet facecloth that he placed on Max’s forehead and a garbage bin next to the bed. He drew the blinds and dimmed the lights before hopping next to Domi and retaking his temperature.
“100.3 degrees. If your fever goes higher than 101, I’m taking you to the hospital.” “I’ll be fine, it’s probably just the flu.”
He looked at Max for the first time since last night. Really looked. What worried him the most wasn’t how he looked, but how silent he was.
The normal, talkative and positive Max Domi was gone. A new, weak and frail Max Domi was in front of him, looking as if he was going to faint at any moment. “You know what, fuck it. I’m taking you to the ER right now.” “No, I’m okay.” “Look Domes, I know typically you wouldn’t go to the hospital for this, but you’re diabetic and a professional hockey player. You aren’t exactly a typical case.”
“If ever I don’t get better in the next day or so, I’ll go to the doctors. Deal?” Max shut his eyes and turned on his side, his back facing Brendan. He sighed. “Domes, you gotta look at me. How do you feel?” “Peachy.” “I’m gonna got get your soup. Do you want anything else?” “What about Orion? I’d feel safer with him.” Gallagher nodded. “Give me a minute and I’ll be right back.”
He put the steaming hot bowl on a tray and texted Weber. Could you stop by Max’s house and pick up his dog? He leaves his key under the flower pot on the windowsill outside. He put his phone in his pocket and took the tray, cautious not to spill anything.
Max’s stomach started doing flips at the mere smell of food and he gagged before Brendan had even made it to the bedroom. He laid it on the nightstand while turning on the television in front of the bed. He climbed in next to Max. When he realized how uncomfortable Domi looked, Gallagher helped him sit up against the headboard. He was shaking in his grasp and was all in all, a pitiful sight.
“Do you want me to...feed you? Your hands are shaking too much to hold the spoon.” “I’m sick, not dying. Of course I can feed myself.” Gally dramatically rolled his eyes. As predicted, the soup flew out of the unsteady spoon and all over the velvet covers.
Gallagher wiped the vegetables off with a napkin and picked up the spoon. He awkwardly fed Max, occasionally talking absolute nonsense to break the silence. About halfway through the bowl, Max shook his head, feeling nauseous again. “I can’t...sorry.”
“It’s okay, don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you ate something.” Brendan took the tray and turned the lights off, quietly heading downstairs to let Domi sleep.
He turned on the flat-screen t.v. in the living room and took out his phone. Weber had responded to his initial text. His captain was going to pick up Orion, and Price was going to pass by within the hour.
He must have fallen asleep, because a loud knock at the door jolted him awake. He jogged to the door and welcomed the Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender inside.
“How’s Max?” “He’s sleeping upstairs. I’m really worried...He just got so sick so suddenly. He was absolutely fine yesterday night, but wakes up this morning looking like a fucking corpse! Something’s really wrong with him and I don’t know what to do...”
“It’s okay, calm down. Everything will be fine, he probably just has the flu. Did he manage to eat or drink anything?” “Yeah, he ate some soup not too long ago.” “That’s good. What was his temperature the last you checked?” “Around 100.5. Not too bad, but we have to be careful with his diabetes. I’m taking him to the ER if it gets higher than 101.”
They heard heavy footsteps from upstairs and ran upstairs, taking two steps at a time. Brendan lead the way through the dark master bedroom, where the previously tidy bed was a mess of sheets. He ran to the closed door leading to the bathroom and frantically rattled the doorknob. “Woah relax, he’s probably just going to the bathroom.”
Gagging was heard from across the door and Brendan kicked it down without hesitation. Max flushed the toilet right before his friends could see the blood he had coughed up moments before. They ran and knelt on the cold tiled floor, hovering over Max’s trembling form.
He looked horrible, holding a wet Kleenex to his mouth and laying on the ground, too weak to lean over the porcelain bowl any longer. His body jerked unnaturally as he gagged, convulsing horribly.
Carey lifted Max into a sitting position while he swayed dangerously and, remembering his basic first aid, propped him up against his bent knees. Brendan came rushing back with a garbage bin. Right as it was placed in front of him, Max doubled over and started dry-heaving again. He shook as he puked, over and over again. Carey rubbed his back while Brendan sat in front of him, holding his shoulders to prevent him from face-planting in his own vomit.
After 10 minutes of non-stop throwing up, it subdued. Brendan took his temperature. “What’s his fever at?” “101.5” Max whimpered as he was being moved around against his will. “Let’s get you back in bed,” Carey said.
They helped him up, but the world spun around him and Max fell into their supportive arms. Completely limp, he threw up and started choking. “He’ll be comfier in bed,” Price said. They laid him on the mattress Ah he started being sick again. His eyes were wet with tears as he continuously dry-heaved, having nothing left to regurgitate.
Another hour went by and Max was utterly exhausted. Carey was constantly by his bedside, trying to distract him by talking about his daughter, who had just started walking. Meanwhile, Brendan was going up and down the house, grabbing Kleenex boxes, Gatorade, wet facecloths, thermometer, anything he thought could help.
Brendan was taking his temperature for the 7th time that afternoon when the doorbell rang. Carey left to go open the door. Minutes later, Max looked up and saw his captain and dog standing in the doorway.
Weber was immediately taken aback by how bad Domi looked. Max was pale as a sheet, his body wracked with chills despite being drenched in sweat. There was a wet facecloth, though not really helping with the unhealthy flush of his cheeks. He doubled over a garbage cam and coughed violently, before falling back against the mountain of pillows behind him, wheezing.
“...hey bud...” he weakly croaked as Orion snuggled up next to him in bed.