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I found love (where it wasn't supposed to be)

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Travis isn’t the kind of person that can sit still for very long. It’s like his blood moves too fast for his body and he gets so itchy and he has to move or he’ll go insane.

But every once in a blue moon, he’ll have a day where his whole body feels boneless and he’s able to just relax. Those days are so rare that he tries to take advantage of them whenever he can. They’d had a pretty hard practice today, the kind that leaves his whole body sore in the best way, and he’s pretty content spread out on the couch idly watching a fishing show. He hears footsteps coming down the hall and feels Nolan’s eyes on him, but he doesn’t turn his head, happy to just let Nolan look. He might put on a bit of a show, stretching his arms out above his head so his shirt rides up a little bit.

He can’t hide his smirk when Nolan moves to stand in front of him, blocking his view of the TV. His face is blank when Travis looks up at him. Travis waits him out, bringing a hand down to idly scratch at his happy trail and letting his fingers dip into his waistband, biting his lip against his grin when Nolan’s eyes follow the movement. This thing between them is still pretty new, but he knows what Patty likes.

“You could take a picture,” he suggests when Nolan’s eyes trail over his body again.

“Why would I want a picture of your ugly face?” Nolan scoffs, but he settles on top of Travis’s thighs, his warm weight already causing something in Travis to stir in interest.

“You love my ugly face,” Travis laughs, fisting a hand in the front of Nolan’s hoodie and trying to pull him down for a kiss. Nolan doesn’t budge. “Pat, c’mon,” Travis whines.

“Why do I feel like you’re gonna make me do all the work?” Nolan sighs, but he finally leans down and licks into Travis’s mouth. Travis tries to pull him closer, tries to push back against Nolan’s weight but Nolan pulls back and scowls down at him. “Teeks, relax,” he grumbles.

“Weren’t you just complaining about doing all the work?” Nolan’s eyes darken and he leans down to kiss Travis quickly.

“I like you like this,” he murmurs against Travis’s lips. “When you’re quiet and looking at me like you’ll let me do anything to you.”

“You can,” he tries to say, cut off by Patty kissing him again.

“Just relax,” Patty says, bringing a hand up to grip his jaw, tilting Travis’s head away so he can drag his lips down Travis’s skin.

Travis relaxes, letting himself go boneless and basking in the feeling of Patty’s lips and hands and tongue. No one else gets to have this, gets to see Patty like this, and that thought is enough for Travis’s pants to feel tighter where Nolan’s pressing against him. He groans a complaint when Patty moves off of him enough to get both of their pants off and Nolan rolls his eyes.

“Patience, Trav,” he scolds, but he’s back on top of Travis a second later, pressing their cocks together and wrapping a large hand around both of them. Travis fucking loves Patty’s hands. He wants to touch, but he settles for resting his hands on Patty’s thighs, loving the feeling of his muscles tensing and relaxing as he thrusts against Travis. Nolan’s biting his lip like he’s trying not to make a sound and Travis’s eyes catch on the flush on his cheeks.

“Fuck, Pats, you’re gorgeous.” It slips out before he can stop it, but he means it.

“Shut the fuck up,” Nolan snaps, but he switches his grip so he’s just stroking Travis, fast like it’s a punishment. Travis’s breath catches in his throat and he moans Patty’s name, trying to thust up into the grip but he can’t , Nolan’s pinning him down and fuck Travis comes with Patty’s name on his lips. He hasn’t even come down from his high when Patty’s spilling over Travis’s stomach where his t-shirt is rucked up and then he collapses mostly on top of Travis. Travis doesn’t mind.

He turns his head and catches Patty’s lips, kissing him while Patty will still let him. “You need to go shower,” Patty says when he pulls away. Travis groans.

“Whose fault is that?” Travis gripes. 

“Yours.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Travis can’t resist the chirp. “I’m just so irresistible that you couldn’t keep your hands off me.”

Patty shoves him off the couch.

~

The annual mandatory team barbeque at G’s place is one of Travis’s favorite days of the year. Free food, free beer, lounging in the sunshine with his best buds? It’s the perfect day as far as he’s concerned, and the perfect way to start off the season. G asks Travis and Patty to bring the beer because for some reason he doesn’t trust them with any kind of food. Travis doesn’t really think that’s fair; they’ve managed to live this long so they’re obviously not that incompetent.

It does feel good when they walk into the back yard and people cheer, even if it is only because of the alcohol.

“Hey, back off!” he says, standing with his arms wide in front of the coolers. “You gotta pay the tax!”

“What tax?” Gus asks flatly.

“I get one compliment per beer,” Travis announces. “I don’t make the rules, but I do enforce them.”

“Teeks,” Coots says, very seriously. “You’re looking less greasy than normal today.”

“Awww, thanks!” Travis grins, right before he’s bear hugged and forcibly removed from in front of the coolers. He grabs two bottles for himself and then leaves the savages to their beer, searching for Patty across the yard talking to Hartsy. He hands him a bottle when he reaches them and Patty nudges him in thanks. Travis grins back for a second before Patty carefully moves his arm away so he’s not touching Travis.

“Teeks, where’s mine?” Provy asks from nearby.

“Get your own, lazy ass,” Travis shoots back.

“You got Pasto one!” he argues, gesturing wildly at the beer in Patty’s hand. Travis hesitates, knows saying but it’s Patty will get him laughed at.

“I was getting myself one anyway,” he says instead. “And I like Patty better than you.” Provy rolls his eyes, but he pulls Travis into a headlock and gives him a noogie.

“Teeks,” G calls from over by the grill. “Quit horsing around and come here.”

“What’d you do?” Patty asks, raising an eyebrow. Travis shrugs.

“Whatever it is, I’m blaming you.” He dodges the swipe Patty takes at him and jogs his way over to G.

“What’s up?” he asks.

“How are you doing?” he asks, strangely serious.

“Uh…” He doesn’t really know how to respond to that. “Fine? No complaints, man. How are you?” G looks over his shoulder to where Patty’s still talking to Hartsy.

“Things are good with you and Patty?” he asks, looking at Travis earnestly. Travis doesn’t know where this is coming from. They get some teasing about being codependant marrieds, but G’s looking at him like this question is important .

“Yeah, things are fine. Unless you know something I don’t.”

“No,” G shrugs, glancing at Patty again. “Just… I know how much you care about him.”

“Yeah…” Travis says, a little anxious. “G, if you have something to say, just say it.” G hesitates for another second and then he sighs.

“Like I said, I know you care about him. It just seems like things are a little different between you recently and I want to make sure you’re not doing something that’s gonna get one or both of you hurt.”

Travis doesn’t know how to tell G that, now that they’re having sex, Nolan’s super weird about Travis touching him in public. It’s the only bad part of their weird, undefined relationship, in Travis’s opinion, that Nolan won’t acknowledge what’s happening between them outside of their apartment.

It’s not like he shies away from Travis’s touch in public, but he doesn’t melt into it like he does when they’re alone. He still bickers with Travis and shoves him around on the ice, and on good days he brings him coffee or food he knows Travis likes. The guys make fun of them for being an old married couple and he endures the endless ribbing he gets when he openly frets over Nolan in the locker room. He didn’t think anyone but him had noticed that things had changed.

“We’re good,” Travis says, clearing his throat. “Things have been kinda weird recently but it’s fine. We’re still just us.”

“Are you dating?” G asks bluntly.

“I- no?” Travis blurts, startled. “No. I mean, we’re… well. We’re-”

“Nevermind,” G says with a laugh. “Forget I asked. Just be careful, TK. I know you… feel things deeply. Just make sure you’re not in over your head.”

“You…” Travis flushes but he pushes forward. G started this conversation and he’s going to have to deal with the consequences. “You don’t think Patty feels… like I do?”

“I’m not saying that,” G says quickly. “He’s a little harder to read than you are, is all. And he’s coming over here.” Travis barely manages not to turn his head and make it obvious they were talking about him, but Patty still walks up to them looking suspicious.

“Everything ok?” he asks, glowering at G a little bit and slinging an arm around Travis’s shoulders. G relaxes a little bit and grins at both of them.

“Yeah, we’re good Pats.” He draws Patty into a conversation and Patty’s arm stays around Travis’s shoulders. Travis is barely listening to what they’re talking about, mind still on what G said. Has Travis been too obvious? Too clingy? They haven’t really put a label on what they’re doing; it had just kinda… happened. It wasn’t a big deal the first time they had sex a couple months ago, and other than Patty being weird in public it still hasn’t been a big deal. Well, he hadn’t thought so.

He’s not afraid to admit he’s a little in love with Nolan, has been since practically the day they met. He’s never told Nolan, never asked, never pushed, but maybe he has been accidentally. He downs the rest of his beer as an excuse to duck out from Patty’s arm and grab another one and lets himself be drawn into a conversation with Beezer and Haysie. He flits around the yard for the next couple of hours, sitting next to Provy while they eat and then joining a football game. He’s not actively avoiding Nolan, but he’s maybe not as clingy as he normally is.

He shouldn’t be surprised when Nolan corners him when they get home. Nolan knows him better than anyone, and he was definitely suspicious after that thing with G. He doesn’t bring it up until afterwards: after he pushes Travis against the door and sucks a hickey onto his neck, strips him and drags him to the bed and rides Travis’s dick until they’re both sated and boneless on the bed.

“What did G want earlier?” he asks, letting Travis nuzzle into his neck. “You looked upset.” Travis freezes, trying to think of an explanation that won’t make Nolan upset.

“Uh, he just wanted to check in and make sure I was good,” he tries to say casually. Nolan slides his fingers in Travis’s hair and pulls his head up so Travis has to look at him.

“Why wouldn’t you be good?” His voice is exceptionally flat and Travis grimaces, moving to roll off the bed but Patty doesn’t let go of him. “Teeks.”

“I- Pat, I don’t think-”

“Travis.” Travis rolls his eyes. He wasn’t gonna push this, but Nolan’s not gonna let it go until Travis tells him.

“We’ve been, like, having sex for a few months, yeah? And neither one of us are having sex with anyone else and we spend a lot of time together and shit and I’m just wondering what it is we’re doing here. Like, what are we?” Nolan just blinks at him, confused. Travis realizes he didn’t actually answer Nolan’s question, but whatever. “I’m not asking for some big declaration or like a label or anything. Just, like, is this a serious thing or a casual thing?”

“What does this have to do with G?” Nolan finally asks, letting his hands fall away from Travis and sitting up.

“He thinks I’m in over my head and that I care about you more than you care about me, or something like that.” Travis tries to rush past the admission but Patty’s eyebrows shoot up. “It doesn’t matter, I just wanna know, like, if the guys ask can I tell them there’s something or not?”

“No,” Nolan says stonily, standing up.

“No, what?” Travis asks, following him out of his own room and into Nolan’s where Nolan throws himself on the bed. “No I can’t tell them, or no there’s nothing to tell?”

“No, I’m not talking about this,” Nolan says. “Either shut up or go away.” Travis really has to think about it for a second, if he wants to keep pushing. He doesn’t really feel like he’s asking for too much here; all Patty has to say is ‘ no, it’s not serious, don’t tell the guys’ and Travis will be… fine. Maybe less than fine, but still, he’d rather know . But maybe he shouldn’t push so much right now. He sits down on the bed next to Patty, making sure they’re not touching.

“Sorry,” he says quietly, hating the way his voice shakes. “I just- sorry.” Alright, maybe he’s a little hurt. He might be a little in over his head with his feelings, but if Patty would just answer the question Travis would know if he needs to cut those feelings off or not.

“Teeks, come here,” Nolan sighs after a few tense moments, laying down on the bed. Travis wants to be stubborn but he can’t resist the arm Nolan holds out to him, laying down and pressing close so he’s tucked up against Nolan’s side. And, really, isn’t this enough? The part of him that wants to know what Nolan’s thinking is buried beneath the part of him that just wants to enjoy being here in the moment, soaking up the warmth and comfort of Nolan’s touch. He lets himself relax, and feels Nolan relax too. He can deal with the rest of it later.

~

That doesn’t mean that Travis can let it go. He keeps it to himself, biting it back every time he starts to ask Nolan again and letting himself just fall into whatever it is they’re doing. Nolan keeps snuggling with him, buying him dinner or smoothies or random stuff he knows Travis will like. Keeps pinning Travis on the couch and making out with him until his lips are raw and sore and then pulling him to a bedroom when they’re so desperate they can barely keep their hands off of each other. 

He’s looking at Nolan doing media across the locker room after their game, sweaty and disheveled with two goals under his belt, shooting Travis these looks over the reporters shoulders that Travis knows means he’s going to get wrecked when they get home. And that, of all times, is when Travis realizes just how fucking much he loves Nolan. It’s always been there, under his skin, but he’s never felt it so deeply before, like if he lost Nolan he wouldn’t be able to breathe . It’s terrifying, knowing Nolan may not feel the same way, that he’s alone in this. Travis feels… vulnerable in a way he never has before. He’s so startled by the thought that he drops his pads.

“You alright Tiki Bar?” Haysie asks, squeezing Travis’s shoulder. 

“Yeah, sorry. Just got a little distracted,” Travis rushes to say, picking up the pads so Kevin doesn’t see the lie on his face. It seems like he wants to ask more, but Travis plasters on a smile and changes the subject, keeping him talking until Travis can escape to the showers.

The drive back to the apartment is quiet, which Travis hates . He doesn’t like being alone with his thoughts, but it’s not an uncomfortable quiet and he can’t bring himself to break it or he might say something he’ll regret.

Almost the second they walk in the door, Nolan is on him. Travis can’t even be surprised, just winds his arms around Nolan’s waist and pulls him in closer. He likes how much bigger Nolan is, the way he pretends like he wants to shove Travis around right up until Travis gets his hands on Nolan and makes him melt. He does it now, rucking up Nolan’s shirt to feel the muscle of Nolan’s back as he kisses the breath out of Travis.

“Bed,” Travis mumbles between kisses, relieved when Nolan doesn’t let him go, barely breaks the kiss as he guides them blindly down the hallway to Travis’s room. Nolan shoves him back on the bed and they both strip as fast as they can before Nolan’s there, back on top of him before their mouths meet again and he gets a hand on Travis’s cock. Travis lets it happen for a minute, letting himself feel how good it is before he catches Nolan by surprise and flips him onto his back.

“Wanna get my mouth on you,” he says, trailing kisses down Nolan’s neck and chest, stopping to bite a nipple just for the way he knows Nolan will grab his hair and pull him off. Travis grins, pressing an apology kiss on it before licking his way down to Nolan’s cock. He always gets so hard when they make out, like he could get off just from Travis’s mouth on his, and it’s a heady feeling. He loves having Nolan in his mouth, feeling how thick he is, the way he fills Travis up and the little gasps and moans he doesn’t mean to let out but can’t help it when Travis is taking care of him like this.

No one else could take care of Patty the way Travis does because no one loves Patty like Travis does. He loves the flush on Patty’s cheeks and the hand he tangles in Travis’s hair. How when Travis looks up at him from under his lashes, Patty’s hips buck off the bed, like Travis looking up at him is the hottest thing he’s ever seen. How when he comes, Travis swallows it, working Patty through it until he pulls Travis up by the hair and licks into his mouth, groaning at the taste of himself on Travis’s tongue.

He strokes Travis off with his hand so they don’t have to stop kissing, and Travis hopes the I love you he can’t hold in is lost as a mumble against Nolan’s skin. Nolan doesn’t act like he heard it, just kisses Travis until they’re both calmed down and then rolls out of bed, not looking back as he leaves.

~

Travis is pretty sure Nolan heard it. He’s skittish the next few days, jumping when Travis touches him and shying away from him in the locker room.

“You good?” Travis asks, one day when he touched Nolan’s shoulder in the locker room and Nolan dropped his pads in surprise.

“Fine,” Nolan snaps, taking a step back so Travis’s hand falls off of him. He meets G’s raised eyebrows across the room and shrugs, but he keeps his eyes down until it’s time to go out on the ice.

But then there’s days where Nolan’s completely normal. They still play video games and watch movies and have dinner together. They’re still having sex, but Nolan won’t kiss him, won’t touch him outside of sex, will hardly even look at Travis anymore, insisting on having his back to Travis when they fuck, or throwing an arm over his eyes when Travis blows him. It hurts a little bit, but Travis convinces himself that it’s nothing and if he just gives it some time, they’ll get past it.

He thinks so, at least, until he’s lounging on his bed one off day and gets the text from Kevin.

 

Haysie

Hey things good with u and patso?

TK

Uh… yea y?

Haysie

Just makin sure

Seemed weird he wanted to move out

TK

What?

Haysie

I’m staying out of it promise

Just wanted to check

 

Travis throws himself out of bed and into the hallway. “Patty?” Travis asks, heading towards Nolan’s room and opening the door. When he gets there, he freezes in the doorway. It’s been about a week since he’s looked into Nolan’s room and there are… boxes. Lots of boxes, a lot of Nolan’s stuff already packed up. Like he’s been doing this for awhile. “Nolan.”

Nolan’s frozen by the closet, staring at Travis like a deer in the headlights. “Uh, Teeks...”

“Why is Kevin texting me about you moving out?” Travis asks, still trying to process what he’s seeing. “And why do you look like you’re packing up to move out when you haven’t said anything to me about moving out?”

“I’ve… been looking for somewhere else for awhile, Teeks,” Nolan says slowly. “Kev mentioned he was looking for a roommate and I told him I’d move in with him.”

“Why?” Travis asks, hating the way his voice is shaking. He’s not even like… processing this but it’s like his body understands something that his brain doesn’t.

“Teeks, I just,” Nolan sighs, “need something new. A change of scenery.”

“A change of scenery from… me?” he asks, eyes caught on a box of clothes that has Travis’s hoodie in it .

“Just all of this,” Nolan bursts out, startling Travis. “This is too much, Teeks. We see each other every minute of every day and I need some space.”

“So you’re just gonna leave?” Travis asks incredulously, not allowing time for the words to sink into his skin. “You didn’t think this was maybe something you should talk to me about, before you just packed up and left?”

“It’s not really any of your business, Travis. We’re just roommates. And not even that, now.” The words hit Travis like a punch in the gut. He flinches and squeezes his eyes shut so the tears he knows are welling up won’t fall.

“That’s fucking bullshit,” he says, turning his back to Nolan and walking toward his bedroom.

“Trav, come on,” Nolan sighs, following him into the hallway. “You’re overreacting.”

“The fuck, I’m overreacting,” Travis yells, turning around to face him again, anger blazing through him. “You didn't want to put a label on… whatever it was we were doing, and I was ok with that. I never wanted to push you or try to get you to do something you didn’t want to. But fuck , Nolan-”

Travis cuts himself off, turning to take a few steps away and running his hands through his hair. He knows he shouldn’t say this, that it’ll just make Nolan push him away even more, but he’s tired . He wants it all in the open, and he knows there’s nothing he could say that would get Nolan to stay once he’s made up his mind. “We’re not just roommates and we never have been, but you just never let me in. You never let me love you the way I wanted to try. And I’m so fucking sorry that I wasn’t enough, or that I was too much, or that I couldn’t-” he takes a deep breath. “That you couldn’t trust me enough to love you. Or that you didn’t want to.”

“Travis-” Nolan calls, but Travis doesn’t wait around to hear whatever bullshit he wants to say. He takes the last few steps to his room and locks the door behind him, grabbing his headphones and turning the music up full blast so he doesn’t have to hear if Nolan comes after him. Or worse, if he doesn’t. He leaves the lights off and hides his face in a pillow to pretend he’s floating in the void, imagining sitting on a boat on the lake with a fishing pole in his hand, anything to slow down his racing heart and ignore how… hurt he is.

He’s too much. He should’ve known this would happen. He let himself believe that maybe Nolan could love him back and ignored the signs, ignored what G said, ignored Nolan pulling away from him the past few weeks. He wanted Nolan so fiercely that he convinced himself that it would work out, and all it did was push him away.

He grabs his phone and calls G before he can think about it. 

“Hey, Teeks,” G greets happily. “What’s up?” Travis almost doesn’t want to say anything, to prove him right, but there’s so much happening inside of him that he feels like he’s going to burst. “Teeks?” G asks again, when Travis doesn’t say anything for too long.

“I’m so fucking... pissed right now,” he finally growls, running a hand through his hair and pacing. “I’m in love with him, G, and you were right and I kinda hate you for that.” He feels guilty immediately. “No, I don’t. I hate myself. You tried to warn me and I ignored you.”

“What’s going on?”

“Nolan’s moving out.” Travis’s voice breaks and that’s when he realizes he’s crying. He’s not sure if it’s anger or sadness or hurt but he pulls the phone away from his ear and takes a few deep breaths, trying to get himself under control. He wants to throw the phone across the room and scream but he doesn’t.

“-be there in five minutes, Teeks, ok?” G’s saying when Travis brings the phone back up to his ear.

“Ok,” Travis sighs and hangs up before he gets a response. He starts pacing again, picking up random stuff and moving it around until he hears a knock on the apartment door. He steps into the hallway and sees the pile of boxes at the same time as Nolan opens the door.

“Patty,” G greets. “You wanna explain what’s going on?”

“I’m moving out,” Nolan explains. “Into Kev’s extra bedroom.” G steps past him with a grim look on his face and catches sight of Travis in the hallway. Travis backs into his room and listens to G’s footsteps getting closer until he walks in the room and closes the door behind him.

“What the fuck is happening here?” G asks gently. “You told me a few weeks ago things were good and suddenly Patty’s moving out? You look like shit, Teeks.”

“I’m overreacting,” Travis breathes out, trying to convince himself of it, that the nausea churning in his stomach isn’t real. “I feel so stupid.”

“Sit down,” G orders, guiding Travis to the bed by his shoulders. He sits next to Travis on the edge of the bed. “Start from the beginning. What happened?”

“I told him I loved him. On accident,” he admits. “We were having sex and I just like said it and I didn’t think he heard it but then he started acting all weird, but we were still having sex and everything, he was just kinda distant. And then Haysie texted me.” Travis shoves his phone into G’s hand and waits for him to read the messages. “And then when I asked him why he didn’t tell me, Nolan said it’s none of my business because we’re just roommates.” Travis throws himself back on the bed dramatically, forcing his eyes to stay dry.

“Teeks,” G sighs, and Travis waits for the ‘I told you so’ that never comes. “I’m gonna go talk to him, okay? Just stay here.” Travis nods, waiting until G leaves and closes the door behind him to rush over and crack it open, pressing his ear to the crack.

“Patty,” G says. “What’s going on?”

“I just need some space,” Nolan mumbles, setting down a box in the pile he’s stacking by the front door. “We’re together every second of every fucking day and I need some time away from him.” Travis grips the doorframe hard and closes his eyes. It doesn’t hurt any less to hear a second time.

“Ok,” G says calmly. “And you didn’t want to talk to him about that before you started packing up?”

“It’s not like we’re married. He doesn’t get a say in what I do.” It’s silent for long enough that Travis wants to peek around the corner, but he doesn’t.

“This is pretty shitty of you, Nolan,” G finally says. “He cares about you more than he cares about most people in his life. You’ve hurt him bad. I don’t know why you’re doing this, if you’re scared, or if you really just don’t care about him, or what, but he doesn’t deserve for you to treat him like shit on the bottom of your shoe.”

“That’s not fair,” Nolan argues. “He’s not the only one whose feelings matter, here. Don’t I get a say in this?”

“Of course you do,” G agrees, and Travis can hear the steel beneath the words. “But he would bend over backwards for you. He would do everything he could to try to pull the moon out of the sky if you asked him to, and you won’t even talk to him before packing up and moving out? I understand you wanting some space, alright? I can understand how working together and living together can be a lot, on top of however you define your relationship, but doing this to him is just cruel.”

“We’re not in a relationship,” Nolan replies, so quietly that Travis almost can’t hear him. “We’re just fucking. There’s nothing more than that.” Travis throws the door open and steps into the hallway.

“You motherfucker,” he says quietly, watching the guilt flash across Nolan’s face. For the first time in his life, Travis doesn’t have any words. He and Nolan stand there staring at each other until G steps up to Travis and guides him back into his room with his hands on his shoulders.

“Pack a bag, Teeks. You’re gonna stay with me until you both cool down.”

“Cool down?” he asks even as he grabs a duffel bag and starts stuffing clothes inside. “I don’t think Nolan needs to cool down. He’s been thinking about this for awhile apparently.”

“Until you calm down, then,” he says. Travis grabs enough clothes for a few days and follows G to the front door. Nolan’s just standing there, watching them. Travis almost makes it out the door, but he just… he turns around.

“I’m sorry,” he says quietly,” for being too much.” Nolan doesn’t respond, his face carefully blank, and Travis turns and follows G to the car.

Chapter Text

He barely remembers the drive to G’s house, or being led to the guest room. He remembers taking a shower and plugging his phone in and then faceplanting on the bed and falling asleep almost immediately.

He doesn’t wake up until his alarm goes off the next morning. He feels almost dead on his feet, wrung out and exhausted from too much sleep as he changes his clothes and heads for the kitchen. He has some texts but he doesn’t open them, doesn’t even check who they’re from. He doesn’t want to know if Patty texted him.

There’s already a plate waiting for him at the table that Ryanne points to with a smile. “Good morning,” she says gently, placing a glass of water, bottle of gatorade, and some orange juice in front of him.

“Morning,” he croaks, downing the water in one go before cracking open the gatorade and sipping it.

“I had your locker temporarily moved to the empty one between me and Sanny,” G says when he walks into the room. “I didn’t tell anyone why, but I think this is what’s best for now.”

“G, I didn’t call you because I wanted-” Travis tries. “I mean, I didn’t want to cause-”

“I know,” G says gently, sitting down next to him. “Eat your food. I know you didn’t want to cause any tension, but I think this is better for now.”

“I feel like I overreacted,” Travis admits, taking a bite of the food he doesn’t taste. “I don’t know what happened to me. Like, I was upset, but I shouldn’t have freaked out like that.”

“Travis,” G says gravely. “Patty’s important to you. He did something really shitty to you and you don’t have to feel bad for how you reacted. Hell, I’m pissed at him. I know he has a good poker face, but he didn’t even seem a little bit sorry for what he was doing and that’s not ok.”

“Claude,” Ryanne says warningly. He smiles sheepishly at her.

“Sorry,” he says, patting Travis on the shoulder. “I’m not trying to take sides, here. I’m Patty’s captain and friend just as much as I am yours. I just think that in this case he’s being an idiot.”

“I just felt like…he’s my best friend, you know? Like, I knew he wasn’t ready to be my, like, boyfriend but I thought that it meant… I don’t know. It just… hurt. Now all I can think is he was just using me for sex.” He feels like he’s gonna cry again, but he shakes his head, forcing himself to get his emotions under control. “He’s supposed to be my friend, so how could he say that shit about me? Like, apparently he can’t even stand to be around me? I would literally never -”

“Teeks,” G interrupts him before Travis can really get going. “I think there’s something missing here because there’s obviously something he’s not telling you. I think it’s a good idea for you two to get some space for a few days, because you’re still pissed and hurt and he probably hasn’t changed his mind. Maybe some time apart will help both of you figure out what you want.” Travis nods, sniffling as he takes another bite of eggs.

“You’re right,” he agrees grumpily. “I don’t wanna talk to him right now anyway. I love him, but he sucks.” G chuckles a little bit.

“I think you’ll be fine, Teeks,” G reassures him. “You’re both idiots, but you make it work.”

“Hey!” G dodges the punch Travis aims at his arm and flees the room, still laughing as Travis’s outraged protests follow him.

They get to the rink before anyone else and Travis stares at his name plate in the spot next to G’s for a minute before his eyes dart over to the now-empty space next to Nolan’s. It hurts a little bit, like things are changing so quick it makes Travis’s head spin, but when G nudges him with an elbow, Travis sits down in his new spot without a word. He keeps his eyes down as guys start trickling in, and he can practically feel the don’t ask vibes that G’s projecting to everyone. They all stay away, even though Travis can feel eyes on him.

He knows the second Nolan walks into the room, the same way he’s always known exactly where Nolan is in any room. He used to like it, feeling like he had a Nolan-sense that no one else had. Now it just feels pathetic. Travis glances at the door and catches Nolan’s eye for a split second before he turns his back and stares at the pads in his hands. He can’t bring himself to move, frozen as Nolan stands unmoving in the doorway and tension fills the room. It’s not like the guys go quiet, but Travis has the feeling that everyone has one eye on them. He can practically feel the anticipation, everyone wondering how Nolan’s going to react to the change, and it doesn’t dissipate even when Nolan finally moves over to his own locker across the room.

“Hey,” Sanny says, surprised, when he gets there a few minutes later. “Welcome to the neighborhood!” He grins, punching Travis on the shoulder before his eyes dart over to Nolan. He doesn’t ask and Travis starts talking, saying anything and nothing, so he doesn’t get the chance. The mindless chatter feels good, comfortable like a second skin.

It’s rough on the ice. He knows the guys mean well, but any time G looks away someone’s skating over to him to casually ask if he’s ok. He lies, and keeps his eyes away from Nolan, and sticks a little closer to Sanny than usual. Some of the guys try to corner Patty, too, but from what Travis sees all he has to do is bitch-stare them away. Thankfully they’re not running line drills today, focusing on conditioning, so he manages to make it through practice without talking to Nolan.

Not that it’s difficult. Nolan doesn’t make any effort to talk to him, just sticks close to Haysie and scowls at the floor. Travis doesn’t know what he wants more: Nolan to apologize, tell Travis he didn’t mean any of it, or Nolan to stay the fuck away from him.

No, that’s a lie. He’s always going to choose having Patty over not having him.

Instead he gets a scowl and Nolan rushing out of the locker room as fast as he can. It stings. Irrationally. He doesn’t want to talk to Nolan but he’s hurt when Nolan doesn’t talk to him? This love thing is stupid. 

He’s not expecting it at all when Haysie comes over, though, and sits next to him in Sanny’s empty stall.

“Hey, I talked to Patty and G last night,” he says quietly so no one else can hear. “I’m sorry, TK, I didn’t know that you didn’t know about… anyway I just wanted to say sorry.”

“It’s not your fault,” Travis grimaces. “I’m just glad to know that even if he doesn’t wanna be around me he has someone to go to. It’s good he has people that care about him.”

“No one cares about him more than you,” Haysie says softly. “And he cares about you, too.”

“Thanks Kev,” Travis says, attempting a smile. Haysie claps him on the shoulder and then leaves him be. Travis follows G out to the car and they eat lunch together, talking about nothing in particular until it’s about time to take their pre-game nap.

Three days pass in about the same way. Three. Days. He doesn’t know what the fuck Nolan’s doing, but Travis isn’t about to be the one to break the silence. They get through a one game road trip and then Travis is officially out of clothes at G’s house. He waits until they have a free afternoon and takes an uber to his apartment at the same time he knows Patty should be at his bi-monthly migraine check-in with his doctor.

He doesn’t expect to walk in and see everything the way he left it. The boxes are still by the door, Patty’s favorite hoodie is still on the couch, and when Travis peeks into Patty’s room it doesn’t look any more packed than when he left. What the fuck . Travis has been waiting for Nolan to clear out so he can move back in, had even texted Nolan to ask him to let Travis know once he was gone. Nolan hadn’t even bothered answering. Instead he’s been sitting here just going about his life?

Travis tries to push his anger back down, clenching his fists so he doesn’t grab his phone and say something stupid. He goes to his room instead and swaps out his clothes with some fresh ones and then goes to the kitchen to check the refrigerator to clear out any spoiled food that’s left over. Patty always forgets to do that. It calms him a little bit, going through the routine of it, if he ignores the part where it won’t be his routine for much longer.

He’s just picking up his bag from the hall, about to make his escape, when he hears a key in the lock and the door swings open. Great. When Nolan sees him, standing in the hallway with his bag over his shoulder, it’s the first time in days that Travis has seen him with his guard down. His face flickers through so many expressions at once that Travis can’t tell them apart until he settles on… cautious. Maybe a little nervous.

“Teeks,” he breaths, something like relief. “Are you-”

“I just came to get some clothes,” Travis interrupts, and oh, the anger’s back. “Because it seems like you haven’t actually moved out yet.”

“I was hoping you’d come home,” Nolan admits, “so we could talk.” Travis is so completely… flabbergasted? Is that the word? It feels like the right word.

“You-” he starts, stops. “I-” He drops the bag and buries his face in his hands with a groan. “Nolan.”

“Trav,” Nolan sighs back.

“No, Nolan,” Travis snaps. “What the fuck ? You completely blindside me by telling me you’re moving out and you’re already mostly packed up, I leave and wait for you to move out, and you think, what, that you’re gonna completely fucking ignore me everywhere else and wait for me to come home? I can’t read your fucking mind, man! If you wanna talk to me you need to fucking talk to me.”

“I don’t know how,” Nolan snaps.

“You don’t know how to talk to me ?”

“I keep fucking things up!” Nolan holds out his arms like ‘see?’ “You left! I thought you didn’t want me to talk to you.”

“I am not the one who left,” Travis practically hisses. “You’re the one who said you needed space.”

“I miss you,” Nolan admits, cheeks pink. “I just thought- Trav, we’re together all the time and it’s not, like, healthy.”

“It never bothered me,” Travis says, the fight draining out of him, leaving him sad and aching.. 

“I just need time to myself sometimes,” Nolan says, taking a few steps closer. “I didn’t mean to blow up our entire relationship.”

“It’s not about you needing space,” Travis says, even as Nolan comes within arm’s reach. “Do you remember what you said to me? That fucking sucked, Pat. I’d do anything for you. I’d take a bullet for you, man, but you said all that stuff to me and about me and it was like I don’t even know you.”

“You know me better than anyone,” Nolan says fiercely. There’s more he isn’t saying, that he’s willing Travis to understand without him having to put the work in, but Travis is done being the one making all the effort here. He reaches out to touch Nolan’s cheek, and when Nolan flinches away from his hand Travis lets it drop with a sigh.

“I love you,” he says quietly. “As a friend, and as more than that. That hasn’t changed. I know that’s not what you want and I don’t know how to be around you right now, so I need you to clear out of here, okay?”

Nolan’s quiet for longer than Travis wants, and then he says, “I don’t have to move out. I can tell Kev I changed my mind.” Travis can’t help but laugh bitterly.

“Pat, look at me. I’m in love with you. I just tried to touch you and you literally flinched. This isn’t gonna work like this, okay? So you’re gonna take your stuff and you’re gonna move into Kev’s and once I figure out how to be around you, we’re going to go back to being friends and nothing else.”

Nolan wants to argue, Travis can tell. Instead he slides his hand down Travis’s arm until he reaches his hand, bringing it up to cup his own cheek. He keeps his hand there on top of Travis’s and they just look at each other, neither one knowing what to say.

Travis eventually pulls his hand away, pulling Patty into a hug he means to keep short until Patty clings to him like he’s afraid Travis will disappear if he lets go. “Pat, we’re still friends, okay?” he soothes, running a hand down Nolan’s spine. “I’m here for you and all that shit. I’m just still kinda pissed at you and I’m gonna need some time to get over it. Just go get settled in at Haysie’s and we’ll talk.” Nolan finally lets go of him with a nod and steps back to let Travis grab his bag. “Just let me know when you’re out.” Nolan nods again and it’s harder than Travis thought it would be to walk past him and out the door.

G can obviously tell something’s wrong when Travis walks back into his house, but Travis brushes him off, asking if it’s alright for him to stay a few more days and then hiding in the bedroom before his pre-game nap.

When he wakes up, he can barely convince himself to get out of bed. He’s just tired , wants to curl up on the couch with a blanket and watch stupid TV and wallow for a little while before he has to pretend to be ok. But hockey waits for no man, and they pay him a lot of money to do something he loves.

“Suck it up, buttercup,” he tells himself, throwing his blankets off and moving to get dressed.

They get to the rink early, too early, because that’s just how G rolls. Travis tries to take a mini nap on the bench in the locker room but as the guys start trickling in that becomes impossible. He gets so bored that he snags the aux cord and plays the most obnoxious music he can as the room fills up, dancing around the room and singing. He even gets a few of the rookies to join in, although Jakey gives him the evil eye whenever he thinks Travis is heading his way.

He’s still laughing, an arm thrown over Sanny’s shoulders, when Nolan walks in. His eyes catch on them for a second and then his face goes completely blank. He walks to his stall without a word and Travis rolls his eyes at Sanny’s questioning glance. Travis doesn’t know what the fuck his problem is, and right now he doesn’t care. He thought maybe it would be ok, after this afternoon, but if Patty still wants to cold-shoulder him in public, then fine. 

He doesn’t realize he’s gone quiet until Sanny nudges him. “Turn a different song on,” he demands with a smile. “This one sucks.” Travis grabs his phone, thankful for the distraction.

The game’s kind of a shit show. Their passes aren’t connecting, their powerplay is all over the place, and they keep taking stupid penalites. It seems like Nolan’s in and out of the box all night, his play more aggressive than usual, and without even thinking about it Travis moves to his old spot next to Patty’s after the game. None of his stuff is there so he just kinda sits there awkwardly while Patty pointedly ignores him.

Travis has never felt this unsure around Nolan in his life, has never been unsure of his welcome with his best friend, but Nolan’s so hot-and-cold right that Travis can’t even tell if Nolan wants him here. He leans down to take his skates off and sits there for another few seconds before he sighs and stands up, skates in hand. Nolan’s hand shoots out and grabs his wrist before he can take a step and when Travis turns around Nolan glances up at him, face blank, and then stares back down at the floor. But he doesn’t let go.

Travis drops his skates and Nolan holds on a second longer before he lets his fingers slip away from Travis’s wrist. Travis pulls the rest of his gear off there, lingering until he’s ready to head to the showers.

“You good, Pat?” he asks quietly. Nolan scowls at him and then nods once. Travis wants to say something, to ask what he’s thinking, what he’s doing, but he doesn’t. He heads for the showers, and then afterwards doesn’t go back over to gather his gear, waits until Nolan’s taking his turn in the shower to pick it up.

“Everything good?” G asks when Travis follows him to the car.

“He came home this afternoon,” Travis admits, “when I went to get my stuff. He told me he missed me and said he could tell Haysie he changed his mind. But he’s been ignoring me for days, and then tonight he was doing it again. I just don’t know what he wants .”

“What did you tell him when he said he’d changed his mind?” G asks after a few seconds.

“That he should go. That I’m still in love with him and I need some time to deal with that before we can be friends again.”

“That’s very mature of you,” G smiles. “I’m proud of you.”

Travis snorts. “Thanks G.”

“Really though,” G says. “I think that’s a good move.”

“Yeah, we’ll see,” Travis sighs.

~

Practice the next morning is just a tape review day for their upcoming road trip and Travis is relieved to have a rest day, even when Nolan approaches him cautiously, eyeing the seat next to him. Travis makes eye contact and then looks away, letting Nolan decide what to do with that. He settles in next to Travis and bumps their knees together.

“Morning,” he says cautiously, holding out the extra gatorade bottle in his hand that Travis hadn’t noticed before. Travis smiles almost against his will and accepts the bottle, pressing his leg a little more firmly against Nolan’s. This time when he looks at Nolan, he can see how tired he is. There’s bags under his eyes and he looks a little pale. He hopes Nolan’s taking care of himself. He hasn’t had a migraine in awhile.

“Thanks,” Travis says, gently. They sit like that the whole time, knees pressed together, not talking or looking at each other, but it’s nice. More like how they usually are, at least. He can see young Beezer and Frosty peeking at them, and Provy, on Travis’s other side, isn’t trying to hide his grin. Nosy fuckers. At least no one says anything; there’s no better way to make Patty shut down than embarrassing him.

He can tell after they’re dismissed that Nolan has something to say. He follows Travis out into the hallway where Travis leans against the wall waiting for G’s leadership meeting to be over. Nolan leans next to him until they’re the only ones in the hallway.

“I’ve got all my stuff moved,” he says quietly. “You should be good to head back.” Travis’s tentative smile falters. It’s stupid ; he told Nolan to do go, even when Nolan offered to stay, but the thought of going back to his empty apartment and seeing all the spaces Nolan left behind makes something inside him ache.

“That was fast,” he says, eyebrows raised.

“Kev helped me get everything last night,” Nolan explains. “I felt bad for being the reason you couldn’t go back.”

Gotcha,” he says, pushing off the wall with a sigh. “Thanks for letting me know.” He starts to head back into the tape review room, almost running into G in the doorway. He takes a step back, right into Patty who he didn’t even know was behind him and has to take a deep breath when Patty’s hands land on his waist and forces himself not to relax into the touch.

“Patty’s all moved out so I can get out of your hair,” Travis says, sidestepping out of Nolan’s grip so G and the A’s can get out of the room. Most of them head off down the hallway, but G and Kevin stay. “I just need to get my stuff from your place and then I can take an uber back to mine.”

“I can drive you,” Nolan offers. He doesn’t miss Kevin’s raised eyebrow.

“That’s not even a little on your way,” Travis argues. “Don’t worry about it. G can drive me to his place, right?”

“Of course,” G agrees, looking between them with a familiar these two idiots kind of look.

“Besides, you rode in with me,” Kevin says with a laugh, clapping Nolan on the shoulder. Travis turns away, following G down the hallway and leaving Nolan and Haysie to follow behind them.

“Do you think I’m overreacting?” Travis asks, once he’s gathered all his stuff from the guest room and is waiting for his uber.

“I wouldn’t say overreacting , per se,” G says. “You’ve got a lot of feelings in a tiny body, Teeks.”

“Fuck off,” Travis laughs.

“Seriously, though. What he did was shitty and I know it really hurt you, and you have every right to be upset about it. But I think Patso made a rash decision that he’s realizing now he can’t take back and he doesn’t know how to fix it.”

“You said the other day that you didn’t know how he feels about me,” Travis says. “Like, I can’t figure out what he wants.”

“You probably shouldn’t listen to me when it comes to Patty,” G admits. “You know him better than I do. Like I said, he’s hard to read. But I think… maybe I should stay out of this. I think I’ve been more involved than I should be.”

“How about you tell me what you think and I’ll take it with a grain of sand, or whatever.”

“Grain of salt,” G corrects, rolling his eyes. “You gotta do what you think is best for you, Teeks. All I’ll say is that I do think he really cares about you. I can’t say if he feels the same way about you that you do for him, but he wants you in his life. You two will have to decide what that means.” Travis chews on that the rest of the way home. What does he want? What does Patty want? Why does this have to be so fucking hard?

He stands in front of the apartment door, hand on the doorknob, and takes a deep breath before he pushes inside. The first thing that hits him is how quiet it is. He hates being alone, hates when there’s nothing to distract him from his thoughts. He heads toward his bedroom, relieved that the door to Patty’s empty bedroom is closed so he doesn’t have to see it. He unpacks his travel bag and starts grabbing the stuff he needs for the upcoming road trip, ignoring all the things he notices are missing from the room. Things Patty had left laying around that had just become part of Travis’s space.

He wants to throw something.

Instead, he finishes packing and does what he wanted to do last night and grabs his favorite blanket and wraps himself up on the couch. He turns on some mindless tv and doesn’t let himself think about Nolan for awhile.

Chapter Text

The road trip starts off pretty uneventful. They lose the first game against Anaheim, but beat the Kings soundly. Travis spends time with the boys playing video games in hotel rooms, in the same room as Nolan but on opposite sides, completely different from how they usually are. There’s a tension in the room, like people don’t know how to interact with them when they’re not TK-and-Patty, but they’re mostly managing it. Sometimes Nolan looks like he wants to say something. He’ll sit by Travis or walk over and open his mouth, but as soon as Travis meets his eyes he’ll walk away. Travis wonders if this is their new normal, not knowing how to be around each other, and he does his best to get used to it.

That is, until after their win. They go out to a bar for a little bit, but they have an early flight to San Jose in the morning so most people head back to the hotel early. TK’s part of the first group to head back, tired of Patty hovering around him without actually talking to him. He’s ready to settle in for the night, the satisfaction of two goals thrumming under his skin. He’s so surprised by the knock on his door that he almost drops his phone on his face. He fights his way out of his blanket cocoon and flips the light on before he opens the door.

He doesn’t expect Patty to be on the other side, blush high on his cheeks and looking sheepish, but that’s what he gets.

“Can I come in?” he asks before Travis can say anything. Travis is so surprised that he just steps back and lets Patty in, no hesitation. He doesn’t know what this is about. They don’t normally visit each others’ hotel rooms on the road, but it seems like all the rules have changed nowadays. He follows Nolan into the room and they stand awkwardly a few feet away from each other.

“What’s up?” Travis asks when Nolan doesn’t say anything. Nolan looks nervous, shifting on his feet before he steps forward, closing the distance between them and cupping Travis’s jaw.

“Two goals tonight,” Patty mumbles, looking everywhere but at Travis’s eyes. “Thought you might like a reward.” Oh fuck . Is he serious? It’s only been a few days, but Travis can practically feel himself melting under Nolan’s touch, and all he has is Nolan’s hand on his cheek. He’s easy for it, easy for Patty , and he hates himself for it a little bit.

“Pat,” he breathes, conflicted. Nolan finally meets his eyes, and whatever he sees there has him leaning forward, kissing Travis gentler than he ever has before. It makes Travis’s breath catch, his hands fisting in Nolan’s shirt to keep him close. Nolan strokes a thumb over Travis’s cheek tenderly and Travis has never been kissed like this. He doesn’t know what this is, what to do with it.

He turns it dirtier, opening his mouth for Nolan’s tongue, and gets his hands under Nolan’s shirt. Nolan follows his lead, lets Travis push him back to the bed and down, until Travis rolls over onto his back, pulling Nolan with him. He wants Nolan on top of him, wants to feel his weight so he knows this is real, this is happening. It doesn’t go any further, just the two of them making out for five, ten, fifteen minutes, neither one making a move to take it further. It takes that long for Travis’s brain to come back online and think what the fuck are we doing ? He pushes Nolan away and sits up.

“What the fuck are we doing?” he asks the wall, knowing if he looks at Nolan with his swollen lips and flushed cheeks that he’ll just pull him back in.

“Teeks-” Nolan starts.

“No, Nolan, what the fuck was that?” Travis throws himself off the bed and starts pacing. “What made you think that was a good idea?”

“I miss you,” Nolan says, so quietly that Travis almost doesn’t hear it.

“So fucking text me!” Travis whirls on him, taking in the guilty look on his face. “Ask me to go out for lunch or something! Don’t just show up at my hotel room and kiss me. Unless-” he cuts himself off, the thought coming to him so suddenly and so painfully that it steals his speech. “Unless you don’t miss me at all. Is it the sex? You know I’m good for it and you’re too lazy to try picking up?”

“No!” Now Nolan’s angry, surging to his feet. “You know that’s not it. I fucked things up, I know that, but it was never just about the sex.”

“I want you to leave,” Travis says, quiet but firm. Nolan doesn’t move. “Nolan, leave. You moved out so you could get some fucking space from me, and now you’re gonna give me the same thing.”

“That’s not-”

“If you want us to stay friends,” Travis cuts him off, “you’ll walk out of this room right now and not try to talk to me again until I decide I’m ready. You’ve got me kinda fucked up, bud, and I asked you to give me time to figure out how to deal with it.” Nolan opens and closes his mouth a few times, storm clouds in his expression, but he finally nods.

“Fine,” he agrees, but he doesn’t move for a few long seconds. “You’re my best friend. I did what I thought I had to do not to lose that. I’m sorry I fucked it up.” And then he’s gone. Travis throws himself face down on the bed and screams into the pillow.

~

Say what you want about Patty and his stubbornness, but he does what Travis asks. For the next week he doesn’t try to talk to Travis, doesn’t even look at him. Travis hates himself a little bit for asking for it. He misses Patty like a missing limb, constantly turning to say something to him before he realizes he’s not there. The apartment’s too quiet and he finds himself spending more and more time away from it, hanging out with Sanny more often these days. He has an unpleasant flashback when he walks into Sanny’s apartment one day and sees some cardboard boxes stacked up near the door.

“You moving?” he asks, as casually as he can.

“What?” Sanny asks before he turns around and sees the boxes. “Oh, yeah. My lease is up soon and I wanna find somewhere closer to the rink.”

“I have an extra bedroom,” he says, his mouth moving before he can process it. He must be lonelier than he thought if he’s begging for roommates now. “If you want, I mean.”

“Yeah, that’d be great!” Sanny’s face lights up with a grin. “Your place is nice.”

“You’ll just have to put up with a sucky roommate,” he blurts. “I’ve been told I’m hard to handle.” He doesn’t know why he says that, except that he just wants to talk about it. Whenever he tries to talk to G now, he just pretends like he can’t hear Travis talking, and he can’t go to Haysie about it because he’s Nolan’s roommate . Sanny’s face goes carefully blank as he sits down on the couch.

“You wanna talk about it?” he offers, like he doesn’t care either way, but Travis can see the interest on his face. He knows the whole team has been wondering what happened, why he and Nolan went from attached at the hip to not even looking at each other. He throws himself down next to Sanny with a sigh.

“Nolan moved out without telling me he was going to,” he starts. Sanny’s eyebrows shoot up to his hairline. “He said he needed some space from me because we see each other all the time and it was too much.”

“That doesn’t sound like Patty,” Sanny says. “Guy’s crazy about you. Even when you’re not talking he’s, like, attuned to you or something. Sometimes he leaves like water bottles or protein bars in your stall when you’re in the showers or whatever.”

“That was him?” Travis asks, shocked. He’d just assumed it was G or Sanny leaving their extras for him. Travis feels his breath catch in his throat at the thought of Nolan trying to take care of him without Travis even knowing.

“Can I ask…” Sanny trails off.

“What?”

“He… I mean, you two have always been… close. Like, really close.” Travis snorts, not surprised that Sanny’s caught onto their relationship. They haven’t exactly been subtle. “I don’t wanna assume…”

“Whatever you’re assuming, you’re probably right,” Travis admits, putting him out of his misery.

“So it’s complicated,” Sanny sums up. “Your… relationship, I mean.”

“Yeah,” Travis sighs. “It’s complicated. He told me he didn’t tell me he was moving out because it wasn’t my business and we were just roommates. And I maybe pushed him into trying to put a label on us and freaked him out.” They sit in silence for a couple minutes before Sanny reaches over and pats him on the shoulder.

“I think you’ll be okay,” Sanny says. “You’re TK-and-Patty. I’m more worried about the bitch stare I’ll get when he finds out I’m moving in with you.” Travis can’t help but laugh.

“Yeah, well, he made his choice and now he has to live with it,” he says. Still, talking about it doesn’t sting as much as it did a week ago. He can see that they both made some mistakes, that he probably pushed Patty too far, forced his feelings on his best friend when he wasn’t ready, or maybe doesn’t feel the same. The thought hurts, but he’s okay with it. Missing him this week has made him realize he’d rather have Patty in his life as his friend than not have him at all.

He waits until he’s home that night, just about to go to bed before he sends the text.

TK

Hey can we talk?

He waits a few minutes for a response that doesn’t come and sighs, hoping Patty’s asleep and not ignoring him. But when he wakes up the next morning, there’s still no response. His stomach drops. But maybe Patty just wants to wait until practice to pull him aside.

Expect when he gets to practice, Patty’s nowhere to be found. He knows he’s being obvious, the way his head whips around toward the door every time it opens, and the disappointment when it’s not Patty. It isn’t until Haysie walks in by himself that Travis really starts to worry. Kev’s eyes land on him right away, and the look on his face is enough to make Travis stand up and cross the room.

“What happened?” he asks.

“He’s okay,” Haysie says, which does nothing to make Travis feel better. “Teeks, he has a migraine. Not a bad one! The trainers just thought it was better if he stayed home and got some rest.” Travis feels like his ears are ringing. A migraine . It’s been, what, 6 or 7 months since he last had one? They both thought that it was over, that the medication was working. They can’t come back now.

“Travis,” G snaps, obviously not the first time he’d said it. He’s standing next to Haysie and Travis has no idea when he got there.

“He’s okay,” Haysie repeats. “I promise. I think it’s just he’s been a little stressed out and that’s probably what caused it.”

Travis blanches. “Oh my god, it’s my fault.”

“Teeks.” Oh, that’s G’s captain voice. Travis snaps to attention like a dog to a whistle. “It’s not your fault, and Haysie says he’s okay. You know Kev wouldn’t have left him alone if he wasn’t.” Travis nods. Haysie was there for Nolan just as much as Travis was during Patty’s absence. If he left Nolan alone, Travis can probably believe that he’s fine. Probably.

“You can come mother-hen him after practice,” Haysie grins. “He’d like that.” Travis takes a deep breath and nods, letting G lead him back to his stall. He doesn’t remember practice at all and rushes through showering and changing. He’s ready to go before Kevin and he fidgets anxiously until Kevin sighs.

“Here,” he says, sliding a key off a key ring and slapping it into Travis’s palm. “Do not lose this.” Travis is out the door before he’s even finished his sentence and he breaks every speed limit on the short drive to Kevin’s place. He hasn’t been here since Patty moved in, but he remembers where the other bedroom is from when he helped Haysie move in. He knocks lightly, but when there’s no response he slips the door open anyway, trying not to let much light in before he closes the door behind him.

He can’t see much before his eyes adjust to the darkness, but there’s a Patty-shaped lump on the bed. Travis moves closer and couches down next to him, reaching out and fiddling with the blanket.

“Go ‘way,” Patty mumbles, eyes still closed tight. Travis’s stomach drops; he probably should’ve figured that Nolan didn’t want him here.

“I will,” he murmurs. “I just wanted to check on you.” Nolan’s eyes fly open and whips his head toward Travis before grimacing, and burying his face against the pillow. “Don’t move, dummy,” Travis scolds him gently, unable to stop himself from reaching out and smoothing Nolan’s hair down.

“Thought you were Kev,” Travis thinks he hears.

“You need anything?” he asks, reluctantly pulling his hand away. It’s hard seeing Nolan like this, pale and in pain. Nolan’s hand comes up and blindly grabs at Travis’s wrist.

“C’mere,” Patty whines, turning his head enough to peek one eye up at Travis. “Stay.”

“Okay,” Travis says, not letting himself stop to think about it. This is something they did all the time, even before they were having sex. Nolan always wants someone to curl up with when he has his migraines and it’s the only time Travis has truly learned how to be quiet and still. He rounds the bed and lays down and Nolan doesn’t hesitate to roll over and bury his face against Travis’s chest. Travis makes sure the blanket is covering them both, then brings a hand up to massage Nolan’s head.

“Missed you,” Nolan mumbles sleepily.

“Missed you too, Pat,” Travis whispers back. He feels Nolan smile and then a few seconds later Nolan’s asleep. It’s been awhile since Travis has done this, but it’s like riding a bike. He closes his eyes and starts relaxing his body one muscle at a time, starting with his toes and counting his breaths. He should do this more often, it’s probably good for him. He focuses on Patty’s breaths and his warmth and how he seems to just fit with Travis like a puzzle piece, and then forces his mind away from that before he gets himself worked up again. Patty’s just his friend, and if that’s all it ever is, Travis will be okay with that.

He opens his eyes when he hears the quiet knock and Haysie peeks his head in. He grins at them before asking, “you good?” Travis gives him a thumbs up and Kev nods, backing out and closing the door. Travis relaxes again, carefully thinking about nothing but syncing his breathing up with Patty’s until he drifts off into sleep.

He wakes up some time later to Nolan’s thumb stroking Travis’s hip where his hand has slipped under Travis’s shirt. He’s still sprawled on Travis’s chest, and overall it’s one of the best ways Travis has ever woken up.

“Pat?” he croaks, blinking down at the top of Nolan’s head in the dark.

“I’m sorry,” Nolan says, quietly but clearly. “For what I said.”

“We can talk about it later.” Travis slips his fingers back into Nolan’s hair and scritches lightly, smiling when Nolan pushes into the touch. “You need to rest.”

“I’m fine. It’s mostly gone,” Nolan argues. Travis rolls his eyes fondly.

“Pat, I’m not going anywhere. This can wait a few hours.” Nolan doesn’t listen, pushing himself up to turn the bedside light on and planting an arm next to Travis’s head so he can loom over him.

“I think we should do it now,” he counters, “so I can kiss you.” Travis’s mind goes blank and his eyes dart down to Nolan’s stupid chapped lips without his permission, which Patty seems to take as approval. “I’m sorry that I moved out without telling you and I’m really fucking sorry that I was an asshole to you.”

“You’re always an asshole to me,” Travis blurts. Probably not the time for jokes, but it’s too late to take it back.

“I’m trying to apologize, you dick,” Patty snarks back, but he’s fighting back a smile. “Teeks, you… you love me. Like, you’re in love with me.”

“I’ve been thinking about it,” Travis says. “I know I shouldn’t have pressured you like I did and I totally get why you needed some space. And, like, Pats you’re super important to me, even if I wasn’t in love with you and I promise I’ll do my best to get over it and we can go back to being how we were.” Nolan flushes and looks away, mumbling something so low that Travis can’t hear. “You gotta speak up, bud.”

“I said, I don’t want you to.”

“Don’t want me to get over you?” Travis asks, not letting himself get his hopes up. Nolan sits all the way up with a sigh and scoots back so he’s leaning against the headboard so he doesn’t have to look at Travis. Travis copies him, sitting close enough for their shoulders to brush. He wants to break the tense silence, but he knows he needs to give Patty time to figure out what he wants to say.

“I can’t say that I’m in love with you,” Nolan finally says. “I mean, I could be, but I don’t know . I’ve never been in love before.”

“That’s fine,” Travis says. He means it, but it’s a little bittersweet. He doesn’t want Nolan to try to force himself to have feelings just to make Travis happy. “You don’t have to be in love with me.” Patty’s building up to something. He’s getting fidgety and his cheeks are getting pinker by the second. Travis waits.

“I feel like, fucking, selfish or some shit,” he finally says in a rush. “Because I want you to be in love with me and I don’t want you to love anyone else or fuck anyone else or fucking… think about anyone else. And I wanna do fucking soft shit with you like hold your hand and kiss you even if we’re not having sex but I don’t even know what that means. And I lied when I said I needed space from you, because I want, like, the opposite . It’s like I always want more of you and that’s fucking terrifying.”

“Pat,” Travis breathes, doing his best not to just jump Nolan right there. That’s the most romantic shit anyone’s ever said to him. “You don’t have to know what it means. We don’t have to, like, label it.” He reaches over and laces his fingers with Nolan’s. “See? Now we’re just Teeks and Patty, holding hands. Simple.” Nolan cracks a smile and Travis counts it as a win.

“So you’re not pissed at me?” Nolan asks, finally turning his head to look at him.

“I was,” Travis admits. “You really threw me for a loop there, bud. But nah I’m over it. Just don’t pull away from me again, ok? If something’s bothering you just, like, tell me that shit.” Nolan grumbles like Travis just asked him to stick his hand in a pile of shit or something, so Travis takes a chance. He pushes himself up and swings his leg over Patty’s and settles on his lap.

“Hi,” Patty grins. They’re about the same height like this and Travis slips his arms around Nolan’s shoulders.

“You still need to rest,” Travis says, suddenly remembering Patty’s migraine. “How are you feeling? Do you need more meds or water or anything?”

“I’m fine,” Nolan assures him, taking Travis’s face in his big hands. “It wasn’t a bad one. I’ll be fine by tomorrow.”

“But you haven’t had one in awhile.”

“I’ve been a little stressed recently,” Nolan says. “And before you say anything dumb, it’s not your fault. But there’s something you could do to help.”

“What’s that?” Travis asks. Nolan doesn’t answer, but he pulls Travis in and kisses him firmly. It’s soft, Nolan tilting Travis’s head to put him right where he wants him, and Travis relaxes into it. He’s missed this more than he wanted to admit to himself. He presses as close as he can and Nolan’s arms move around his waist, smoothing a hand down Travis’s spine. Travis smiles into the kiss, almost giddy with it, and there’s literally nowhere else he wants to be.

Until the door swings open and Kevin’s voice booms, “glad to see you two have finally made up!”