The first thing Travis thinks when he hears the crying in the middle of the night is, ‘my apartment is fucking haunted’. It wakes him up out of a dead sleep and he lays there staring at the dark ceiling in terror for a solid 30 seconds before he finally has the thought to turn the light on.
The second thing he thinks is, someone’s playing a fucking prank on him. He sees the crib in the corner of his bedroom, which is where the piercing cries are coming from. But when he steps up to the crib, he knows this isn’t a prank. He expected a doll, maybe, with a speaker, but this is a real life actual baby, wrapped in a soft white blanket. None of his teammates would ever leave him with a real life baby. He lets himself panic for another few seconds before he realizes he actually needs to pick up the baby .
“Support the head,” he reminds himself, the lectures still in his head from every time one of his teammates let him hold their children. “Hey there,” he says soothingly while he scoops the baby up carefully and settles it in the crook of his arm. They’re so tiny and Travis has the usual flash of panic that he’s going to drop the poor thing. The crying stops almost immediately, though, and the baby’s eyes close peacefully.
And then, “oh fuck! ” Because that’s when he sees the little white and gold card sitting in the crib. It’s a fucking wishbaby . Travis knows without even having to look whose name is going to be on that card next to his. He picks it up carefully with his free hand and flips it open. It’s a wishbaby birth certificate, like he expected. ‘Congratulations on the arrival of your baby girl!’ the top reads. The line for the name is blank, ready to be filled in, but it’s what’s underneath that, where the names of the parents are printed, that steals Travis’s breath.
His own name is there, on one line. On the other is exactly what he expected. Nolan James Patrick . Travis stares at it in shock. He really did this. He wanted to be with Nolan so bad that he literally wished a child into existence. What the fuck is wrong with him. He’s snapped out of his panic when the baby makes another little sound of distress and some kind of instinct must kick in because he… grabs his phone and calls G. It rings once and goes straight to voicemail, but Travis just calls again. By passing do not disturb is a specialty of his.
“Teeks, it’s 3am, you better be dead or dying,” Claude growls into the phone.
“Um, I’m not, but if you don’t help me my child might be,” Travis offers.
“What,” Claude says, more statement than question.
“I just woke up and found a wishbaby crying in my bedroom,” Travis explains. “And like, she stopped crying when I picked her up, but I don’t know how to take care of a baby! I don’t have any baby stuff!” There’s a rustling and Travis knows that G’s getting out of bed.
“Usually there’s a diaper bag under the crib with some supplies in it. Did you check?” No, Travis hadn’t checked, he’d been a little busy freaking out. He’s too scared to bend down with the tiny human in his arms, so he backs up and moves to where he can see under the crib. Sure enough, there’s a little orange and black diaper bag under it and he mentally thanks the universe for at least keeping the theme.
“Yeah, it’s there,” he says, walking over to fish the bag out from under the crib with his foot and then carefully crouching down so he can grab the strap and set it on the bed. He unzips it and finds a couple bottles, a container of formula, and some diapers and gives G an inventory.
“I think we still have some newborn clothes around here,” G says absently. “I’ll see if I can find some real quick. Hopefully she’ll sleep until I get there and can help you do some bottle prep. Just stay calm.” And then he hangs up without so much as a goodbye. Travis stares at his phone for a second, thinking about calling Nolan and then chickening out. He reasons with himself that it’s not cowardice, it’s just being considerate. Nolan’s just getting over his migraines and being woken up in the middle of the night probably wouldn’t be good for him. And besides, he probably doesn’t know any more about taking care of babies than Travis does.
His eyes catch on the baby- fuck he’s going to have to name her- and he tries to find some sign of himself or Nolan in her face. Mostly she just looks like a baby. She’s got chunky cheeks and a tiny little nose and Travis may be biased but she’s the cutest fucking baby he’s ever seen. His mind drifts back to Nolan, imagining the shock on his face when Travis tells him that it’s his baby and tries to ignore the way his heart drops to his stomach. Nolan’s gonna be tied to Travis forever, whether he wants it or not. It’s not like they’re even in a relationship, and either one of them could be traded at any time, and Nolan’s just gotten back from his shit with the migraines and now Travis is going to give him something else to worry about.
He can’t. He can’t do that to Nolan. Maybe he can convince Nolan that just this once the universe decided to make Travis the only parent. Whatever, he’ll figure it out later. He hears the apartment door open and listens to G’s footsteps come down the hall before the bedroom door is pushed open.
“Shit, you weren’t kidding,” G says, coming over to set a bag on the bed. “You have a baby.”
“I have a baby,” Travis agrees. “What the fuck do I do with her?” G leans over and peers at her, a small smile on his face.
“You seem to be doing okay,” he says. “I expected a lot more screaming when I came in but she seems pretty happy with you holding her.” Travis looks down right as she peeps one blue eye open and smacks her lips together before she falls right back asleep.
“This is my baby,” Travis repeats to himself, a little more incredulously. “Like, I’m her dad .”
“Welcome to fatherhood,” G grins. “So who’s the mom?” Before Travis can stop him, G picks up the birth certificate and freezes. He’s quiet long enough that Travis starts to panic, keeping his eyes trained on the baby. He really needs to give her a name.
“Teeks,” G finally says. “Is there something you wanna tell me?”
“I have a wishbaby with my best friend,” Travis says easily.
“Are you and Pat…”
“Nope,” Travis says cheerily, even though he feels like he could pass out at any second. He sees G visibly decide not to ask, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath before moving on.
“Why don’t you put her back in the crib and I can show you the wonderful world of formula mixing.” Travis carefully lays her back down, waiting to make sure she’s not going to wake up screaming again.
“Should I leave her in here alone?” Travis asks, hovering anxiously. “She’s so tiny, what if something happens to her?” G roots around in the bag for a second before pulling out two baby monitors. He sets one down on the dresser next to the crib and hands TK the other one.
“The apartment’s small enough you should be able to hear her cry without these, but this is for peace of mind. If you’re that anxious, you could get a video one so you can see her.” Travis makes a note on his phone as he follows G to the kitchen. G shows him how to get bottles ready, how to measure the water and the formula and how to test if it’s mixed properly. When Travis feels pretty okay about that, G pulls a baby doll from the bag along with some diapers.
“Seriously?” Travis asks, eyeing the doll warily.
“I can explain it to you a million times, but you won’t get it until you practice,” G says sagely. “Now come here.” Changing diapers is more complicated than it looks, and he ruins a couple before he finally figures out which direction it’s supposed to go and how tight he should make it. G walks him through wiping and baby powder and, like she knows her timing is perfect, Baby K starts screaming. “Time to practice!” G chirps.
Travis goes to get her, walking slower than he ever has in his entire life as he makes his way back to the living room. G’s laid a blanket on the floor and Travis kneels down and lays her on it. He’ll never admit it but his hands shake a little bit as he unwraps her from the blanket and changes her for the first time. G mutters encouragements the whole time, sometimes directing Travis if needed, and then pulls a onesie from the bag.
“Dinosaurs!” Travis cheers softly, smiling at the little cartoons. She’s gonna fucking love dinosaurs. He gets her dressed, distressed at her little disgruntled whines. He’s responsible for this tiny human and he doesn’t want to hear her cry ever.
“It’s fine,” G assures him. “She’s probably just getting hungry. Pick her up and I’ll grab the bottle.” Travis settles her in his arms, leaning back against the couch behind him and letting G show him how to hold her to feed her, making sure there’s no air bubbles and that he’s pulling the bottle out when he needs to. When he finally gets it right, she starts drinking it down eagerly.
“That’s my girl,” Travis grins, heart full as he looks down at her. “Got a healthy appetite.”
“You look like you’re gonna explode,” G says through a yawn.
“I finally get that meme,” Travis laughs. “I’ve only had her for an hour but if anything happened to her I would kill everyone and then myself.” G just hums, but Travis can see him trying to hide a smile.
“So should I call Pats?” The question makes his blood run cold. “Travis,” G scolds, seeing the way Travis freezes. “It’s his kid too. You can’t keep this from him.”
“He’s not the one that wished for this,” Travis argues. “He’s already got so much going on and he’s just got his migraines under control, I can’t put this on him now .”
“You’re an idiot,” G says. “Do you even know how wishbabies work? You don’t have a wishbaby unless both parents are open to it. If Nolan’s the other parent, it means he wants a baby with you, Teeks.” Travis lets himself hope for one agonizing second before he crushes that feeling down.
“I’m not putting this on him,” Travis says firmly. “She’s my baby,” he continues, cutting off G’s protest. “That means I can decide what’s best for her, right?” G looks like he wants to argue the point, but baby K finishes the bottle and G’s distracted pulling out a burp rag and showing Travis how to burp her. Once she’s burped and falls back to sleep, Travis settles her back down in her crib in her bedroom. After a second of hesitation, he takes the birth certificate and hides it in his bedside drawer. He’ll have to contact the city to register her.
“So what’s her name?” G asks from the doorway, a peace offering.
“I don’t know,” Travis says. “I’ve been calling her baby K in my head.” G nods.
“I’ll contact the front office and let them know what’s going on,” G offers. “I know you’re about to have your hands full so don’t worry about that part. You’ll probably have to come in and talk to coach.”
“I’m not missing practice,” Travis says on instinct. G glowers at him.
“They’ll probably put you on paternity leave for a couple weeks,” he says.
“But-“ Travis starts to protest. But then he looks over at the crib and something in him shifts.
“You wanna raise this baby on your own, Teeks, then you’re gonna have to decide what’s more important to you. And I can tell you that someday hockey will be gone, but that little girl is going to be there forever.”
“Yeah,” he agrees, picturing how different his life is going to be now. If you had asked him yesterday if he was ready for a baby, he would’ve said fuck no . But now he can see it. Her first steps and her first words and the first time she puts blades to the ice. In his mind, Nolan’s there beside him with that stupid soft smile on his face and his hand holding Travis’s. He may not ever have all of that, but the thought of it makes him smile.
“I won’t tell Nolan,” G says as he makes his way to the door with Travis trailing behind him. “It’s your decision. But if you ask me, he should know. I think it would turn out better than you think.”
“I’ll think about it,” Travis lies, picturing Nolan’s pinched, sunken face as suffered migraine after migraine, the horrified expression that would undoubtedly appear if Travis told him he now has to be a father to Travis’s baby . G leaves with a promise to let Travis know the next steps and Travis collapses back in bed, falling into a restless sleep with one ear listening for the slightest sound of discomfort from the crib.
He’s woken up around 6 by the most pitiful little wails and he takes baby K back to the living room to change her. Once she’s clean and dry he goes about making another bottle. It’s been about 2 hours since she last had a bottle, and G said to feed her every 2 or 3 hours so Travis sets her back in her crib while he makes another bottle. He burps her and coos at her and he’s generally feeling pretty good about how this parenting thing is going to go. Once he’s on the couch with her curled up asleep in the crook of his arm he realizes with a jolt that he needs to call his parents. He goes with a facetime call, hoping the dark circles he probably has under his eyes will make his mom go easy on him.
“What’s wrong?” his mom asks without even a hello. “You look like shit.”
“Thanks,” Travis says sarcastically, grinning at the phone. “I have some news.” He flips the camera and points it down to the little bundle in his arms. There’s a long silence, but Travis doesn’t move, keeping the camera pointed at the adorable sleeping baby so that his mom doesn’t start yelling.
“This better not be a joke,” she says carefully.
“It’s not.” He flips the camera back up so she can see that he’s taking this seriously. “She showed up in my room last night.”
“A wishbaby?” she asks, a little breathless. They’re not exactly uncommon , but Travis has never actually known anyone with a wishbaby and he doesn’t think his mom does either. “With Nolan?” He looks at her sharply but she just rolls her eyes. “Who else would it be with?”
“Don’t say anything to him or his family or anything,” Travis begs, not even bothering denying it. “I’m gonna tell him, but I just… need some time.” He sees her raised eyebrow and braces for the argument but she just sighs.
“Show me my granddaughter again,” she demands. He flips the camera obediently. “Have you picked a name yet?
“No, I think I want to wait until-” I can ask Nolan to help me pick , he doesn’t say. He tries to think of another way to end that sentence that might be convincing and comes up with absolutely nothing. “Later,” he finishes lamely. Thankfully she doesn’t comment.
“Do you need me to come down there and help?” she asks. “What are you going to do when you’re on the road?”
“I don’t know yet, mom, I’ve only had her for three hours.” He feels guilty for his tone as soon as he says it, but he blames it on only having a couple hours of sleep. It’s only going to get worse. “G said he’d start working some stuff out and I’ll probably have paternity leave so I guess I’ll go to practice and see what they say.”
“Okay,” she says reluctantly. “Let me know. We’ll probably come visit at some point anyway to meet her.”
“Yeah,” Travis agrees through a giant yawn. “I’ll talk to you later.” They hang up and Travis figures he has maybe 2 hours before he has to head to practice. He shifts down on the couch and settles baby K on his chest, making sure her blanket and his shirt aren’t anywhere close to her nose and mouth, and rests a hand on her tiny little back to make sure she can’t go anywhere. He doesn’t manage to fully fall asleep, too afraid of accidentally rolling over or her falling off his chest, but he gets a little more rest at least.
Until he wakes up to the most godawful smell he’s ever experienced in his life. He knows immediately what it is and settles her down to change her diaper as fast as possible. He doesn’t know how something so cute can produce something that smells like that . He gags the whole time he’s changing her and shoves the diaper as far down into the trashcan as possible. He’s just picked her up again when there’s a knock on the door and Claude’s letting himself in.
“I brought you a carseat,” he says, looking exhausted. “You need to come to the rink and sign some paperwork. Also, this.” He holds up some kind of… pouch? It has a lot of straps.
“What is it?”
“It’s a baby sling,” Claude grins. “You pop her in there and then you have free hands. And I think it would be hilarious to see you use it.” Travis groans, but lets Claude strap the thing around him. They get K settled into it and she seems safe enough, sleeping against his chest. Still, he can’t bring himself to take his arms away just in case something happens and she falls. The thought makes his chest hurt.
“I feel like a kangaroo,” Travis observes.
“Yeah,” G agrees absently. He has the diaper bag, filling it with spare bottles ready for formula and some extra outfits he seems to have brought with him. “After practice I’m going to go shopping for you and get you some stuff you’ll need. You’ll probably need to work on turning your spare room into a nursery.”
“G,” Travis says, overwhelmed. “Thanks. This is like… way above your job description.”
“You’re my friend, Teeks,” G says, coming over to rest a hand on Travis’s shoulder. “And you have no idea what you’re doing and you had no time to prepare for this. I’m not about to leave you to do this yourself, for both of your sakes.” Travis has to blink back tears as he lets G herd him out of the apartment and down to the car. G shows him how to put K in the carseat and make sure she’s properly fastened, but it doesn’t stop Travis from turning around constantly the whole drive to the rink to make sure she’s okay. Now he understands why new moms like to sit in the back seat with the babies.
The nerves don’t hit him until he’s putting her back in the sling. Maybe he should’ve sent a picture in the group chat or something. He doesn’t know if G warned anyone besides management that Travis was going to show up with a baby. Most of the team is already there and Travis stands outside the locker room, staring at the door. It’s just… so loud in there and smelly and hectic. What if they scare her and she wakes up and-
“I’ll go in first and get everyone calmed down,” G offers from beside him. “You ready for this?”
“Yeah,” Travis agrees, relief flooding him. “Thanks.” He strokes a finger down her little cheek while he waits, smiling when her little face scrunches and she smacks her lips a couple times. So fucking cute. She must take after him. He doesn’t have to wait long before G cracks open the door and gestures him inside with an encouraging smile. Travis takes a deep breath and steps forward, eyes- as usual- landing right on Nolan. Nolan, who looks like he’s been sucker punched in the face. The room is dead silent, only the sounds of the equipment managers and staff rushing around outside filtering in.
And then everyone starts talking at once. The wall of sound hits Travis and he takes an involuntary step back, cupping his hand protectively over her little ears. Thankfully, the panic on his face is enough to shut them up. “I have a wishbaby,” he says, once the room has fallen back into dead silence. He chances another peek at Nolan, whose eyes are fixed on K.
“Congrats, man!” Haysey says, breaking the silence. The rest of the guys echo him and finally the room bursts into action, everyone going back to their pre-practice routines, coming up to TK one at a time to coo over K and pat him on the shoulder, offering help. Nolan stays frozen at his stall, eyes locked on the baby, and Travis makes his way over to him hesitantly.
“Pat?” Travis asks quietly. He would pay a lot of money to know what Nolan’s thinking right now, if that look on his face is good or bad or nothing at all. Nolan doesn’t answer, but he reaches a hand out and just kind of rests it on K’s back.
“You have a baby,” he finally says, voice as unreadable as his face. Travis has to stop himself before he corrects it to we .
“Cutest fucking baby on the planet,” Travis says proudly. That, at least, draws a smile from Nolan. “I’m so unprepared for this,” he says, softer so only Nolan can hear.
“You’re gonna be a fucking great dad,” Nolan says fiercely. “And I’m here if you need help. Idiot.” Travis grins so brightly he’s sure he’s lighting up the whole room.
“Konecny!” AV barks across the room. Travis smiles apologetically at Nolan and makes his way to AV’s office where some other members of the front office are. He has to answer a lot of questions and sign a lot of documents and the thought of taking 4 weeks off is a little daunting, but at least it’s early enough in the season that he won’t be stressing about it constantly. Probably.
“One last question,” AV asks once it’s just the two of them in the office again. “Is the other parent going to be an issue? I’m not trying to pry,” AV explains. “I’m not asking who it is, I’m just asking if this is something PR needs to know about.”
“The other parent won’t be an issue,” Travis replies truthfully.
“Good,” AV nods. “Let me know if that changes. You can stick around and watch practice if you want.” Travis follows him out, but he’s too afraid to sit on the bench where a flying puck could come toward him at any moment. He finds a spot behind the glass instead, rolling his eyes as his teammates stop by periodically to make stupid faces at them. He has to leave to change her towards the end of practice, and then he just decides to spend the last few minutes in the locker room until the guys flood in. He chats with them as they make their way in and out, explaining that, no, he hasn’t picked a name yet, and, no, he won’t tell them who the other parent is, and, yes, he’ll be out for a whole month.
Eventually Coots comes over, looking hopeful. “Can I hold her?” he asks. Travis bites his lip. He hasn’t let anyone else hold her yet, hasn’t had to trust anyone else not to drop her or hurt her. But Coots is a dad. He’s probably one of the safer options in the room.
“Alright,” Travis agrees nervously. He pulls her out of her sling and places her as gently as possible into Coots’s arms, who smiles down at her.
“Do you care if I take her around the room?” Coots asks. “We’ll never leave your sight. I know all about that new dad anxiety.”
“Okay,” Travis nods, collapsing back into his stall and rubbing his eyes. He could really use a nap.
“Tired?” Nolan asks from next to him. Travis hums.
“She showed up at like 3am,” he explains. “I only got a couple hours of sleep.”
“You’re doing great, Teeks,” Nolan assures him, patting Travis’s knee a couple times. “Like I said, you need any help you let me know. I can watch her for a few hours while you nap.”
“Thanks, Patty,” Travis says, knowing he’s not going to ask for Nolan’s help. He rests his head back against the wall behind him and closes his eyes, letting the familiar sounds of the locker room wash over him with one ear listening for baby K. He must doze off because he’s startled awake by a shrill cry and it’s like his brain goes from 0 to 100. He’s on his feet before he realizes what’s happening, but Nolan’s already moving.
“What the fuck did you do?” he snarls at Coots, scooping a still screaming baby K out of his arms. Travis rushes over, but by the time he’s made it to Nolan’s side the cries have tapered off. K’s blinking up at Nolan quietly and Travis feels like his whole fucking world is narrowed down to the image in front of him. Nolan’s looking down at her like she’s the only thing that matters, smiling softly, and Travis has to snap himself out of it before the whole locker room sees him standing here staring like an idiot.
“She’s probably hungry,” Travis whispers, turning back to his stall for the diaper bag. Nolan trails after him, watching as Travis carefully gets her bottle ready. He passes her over easily when Travis reaches for her and then stands there staring down at her over Travis’s shoulder. He resists the urge to lean back against Nolan’s chest but lets himself imagine how nice it would be. Nolan steps away eventually to gather up the rest of his stuff, but comes back when it’s time for TK to burp her, watching with undisguised interest.
“Patty,” G says, suddenly right next to them. “I need you to meet me at TK’s apartment. You’re coming with me to the store so we can get baby supplies.”
“Shouldn’t I be going with you?” Travis asks. As if on cue, K makes a little gurgling sound and then Travis feels something warm and wet soak into his shirt.
“Nope,” G grins. “You’re going home and learning baby management. How to get baby vomit out of clothes and the art of taking a shower while she’s asleep.”
“Do you even know how to do that?” Nolan asks.
“I learned from the best,” G says proudly. “Ry made me a list of what we need.” He holds up a piece of paper and heads for the door, expecting them to follow. And they do, because honestly Travis would be completely lost without him. They drop Travis off at his apartment and he changes her one more time before settling her in her crib and grabbing the baby monitor. She sleeps through his whole shower and even lets him get a little nap in. By the time G and Nolan come back with arms full of bags, Travis feels a little more human.
“We brought sandwiches,” Nolan mumbles, peeking past Travis’s shoulder into his bedroom. “Is she asleep?”
“Yeah, but probably not for long. She’s been down for awhile.”
“Sweet,” Nolan smiles, looking back down at Travis. Nolan’s standing close. Close enough that Travis could press up on his tiptoes and fucking kiss him and the way Nolan’s looking at him, he thinks maybe , but then-
“Come tell me where you want all this,” G calls from the kitchen. He watches as Nolan’s cheeks turn rosy, sheepishly looking away.
“Come on, Pat,” Travis says quietly. “Come learn how to be a dad with me.” Nolan doesn’t catch the double meaning, just nods and lets Travis wrap a hand around his wrist and tug him toward the kitchen. G gestures to the food as he pulls stuff out of bags and sorts them into piles.
“I’m gonna show you how to sterilize these bottles when you’re done eating,” he says as he dashes around. “Pat also picked out some clothes and we got a shit ton of diapers.” Travis snorts at the pun he doesn’t think G even meant to make. He continues explaining, pointing to things Travis has never seen in his life and he feels himself starting to tense up, realizing just how much he doesn’t know about babies. Shit, what made the universe decide he should be in charge of keeping someone alive? What if he forgets something or gives her something he shouldn’t or-
A hand lands on his knee and squeezes reassuringly. He lets himself lean sideways against Nolan, who's already sitting close, and smiles when Nolan shuffles around until he can wrap his arm around Travis’s shoulders.
“It’ll be fine, Trav,” Nolan murmurs. “You got this.” Travis normally doesn’t let himself cling to Nolan like this, but he turns his face into Nolan’s shoulder and breathes in the familiar smell of cologne and the Flyers locker room. He stays like that until he realizes that G’s voice has trailed off and then he turns his head to peek an eye at him. He’s watching them, extremely unamused. He’s just opening his mouth to say something when screaming starts up from the bedroom.
“I’ll get her!” Nolan chirps, out of the room before Travis can even stand up.
“You have to tell him,” G says firmly as soon as he’s gone. “Before one or both of you explode. He’s about to walk in here holding that baby and I refuse to see that stupid look on your face if you’re not going to do anything about it.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Travis lies, but all thoughts leave his head when Patty does walk in with baby K. She’s just so tiny and Nolan’s so big and he’s so gentle and his smile’s so happy.
“Teeks,” G says, exasperated. Travis looks over at him innocently. “Wanna make him a bottle so he can feed her?”
“Oh, right!” he says, flushing, grabbing the last bottle from the diaper bag and the formula. He shakes it up and then hands it to Nolan, turning his back before he has to watch .
“Where’d you learn how to take care of babies?” G asks over his shoulder as he’s showing Travis how to sterilize the new bottles.
“I have a lot of cousins,” Nolan mumbles. “I babysat a lot when I was younger.”
“So you’re pretty good with kids, huh?” G nudges Travis, wiggling his eyebrows when Travis looks at him.
“I guess,” Nolan agrees. Travis ignores both of them, setting the bottles in to soak and turning to the piles on the counter. G explains what everything does, and then grabs a package of post it notes and sticks helpful reminders on everything. By the time he’s done, Nolan’s changing K’s diaper and G says his goodbyes.
“Tell him,” he hisses at Travis at the door before pulling him into a hug. “You guys are gonna be great parents.” Travis hugs G back just as tightly.
“Thanks for everything.” G pats him on the shoulder one more time before leaving. When he makes his way back to the living room, Nolan’s on the couch with the TV on, baby cradled in his arms fast asleep.
"Help me think of a name," Travis begs, settling himself along the couch and poking Nolan’s thigh with his toe. "I need to turn in the birth certificate but I can't name her all by myself. What if I pick something stupid and everyone makes fun of her?"
"What about… Ashley?" Nolan offers after a pause.
"Quinn?" Travis counters.
"Hmm… Becca?" They continue to throw names back and forth for a few minutes, but none of them feel quite right. They lapse into silence, both of them thinking, until it hits him.
"Emelia? Like, with an e?" Travis says. Nolan's eyes light up.
"We can call her Emmy. Emilia… Rose?"
"Emilia Rose Pa-" Travis cuts himself off, flushing. "Um, Emilia Rose Konecny."
"It's perfect," Nolan agrees quietly, looking down at the baby in his arms with a look so soft that it steals Travis's breath. They hang out for a couple hours, taking turns with feeding and changing, and then Travis gathers his courage and slips into the bedroom, pen in hand. He pulls the birth certificate out, writes Emilia Rose and then… stops. He could just put Konecny. He should just put Konecny, if he’s not going to tell Nolan the truth. He decides he’s just going to put Konecny, but when he puts the pen to the paper his hand moves without his permission and Patrick-Konecny stares up at him.
He puts it back in the drawer and walks away.
Travis is so tired the next morning that he’s not even upset about knowing he has to miss the game that night. He barely even remembers to make himself breakfast, let alone remembers to worry about hockey and the fact that the boys left early this morning on a 5 day trip. He doesn’t know if it’s, like, normal for babies to wake up so much in the night, but Travis thinks Emmy already feels a little heavier with how many bottles she’s going through.
Ryanne had sent him an app to track feeding and changing and baths and shit like that, and had sent him the information of the pediatrician they go to, but when he calls to make an appointment he finds out he has to register her birth certificate before he can do anything. So, he calls Ryanne.
“You need me to drive you to city hall?” she repeats. “Don’t you have a car?”
“Well, yeah,” he agrees. “But… what if I get into an accident and something happens to her? You’re a better driver than me.”
“I forgot what it's like to be a new parent,” she laughs. “Sure. I’ll be there soon.” Travis breathes a sigh of relief and gets Emmy settled into her carseat. She’s wearing a little onesie covered in hockey pucks and sticks that Nolan had bought and snaps a quick picture and sends it to the group chat. He gets back a lot of exclamation points and a picture from G of Nolan’s face when he sees the picture, which Travis doesn’t stare at simply because Ryanne shows up. They get the carseat strapped in the back seat next to Gavin, who blinks at him sagely, and then Travis climbs in the front seat, holding the birth certificate carefully face down on his lap.
They chat about nothing in particular on the way there, and she promises to stay in the car with Emmy while he goes in. “Wait,” she stops him before he can open his door. “Can I see it?” she asks, eyeing the birth certificate. Travis hesitates. “I already know it’s Nolan’s name, Teeks. I’ve just never seen a wish baby birth certificate before.”
“G told you?” he asks, stalling.
“Claude tells me everything,” she confirms. Travis sighs and holds out the birth certificate. “Emilia Rose Patrick-Konecny,” she reads aloud. “Oh, Teeks.”
“I know,” he sighs. “I shouldn’t have, probably, and I definitely have to tell him now because he can’t just have a daughter with his last name if he doesn’t know about it, right?”
“Right,” she agrees over Travis’s hysterical laughter.
“I guess I could always change it before I go inside. Get some white out,” he says, even knowing he isn’t going to do it.
“But this is what you want, isn’t it?” she asks gently. “To have a baby with Nolan? To be with him?” He nods. “Then leave it. Tell him the truth. If it doesn’t work out, you have like 6 months to change it before it becomes a big hassle.”
“Right,” he breathes, taking it back. He nods at her once, takes a deep breath, and goes inside. It goes a lot smoother than he thought it would. He doesn’t have to wait very long and the woman at the counter is bright and bubbly, congratulating him on his new baby and giving him resource packets and chattering away while she has an official copy of the birth certificate made for him to take with him. Honestly, it’s a little exhausting, but it’s efficient and he’s out of there with very little fuss in just around 20 minutes.
He and Ryanne decide to get lunch, and it’s the first time he’s ever taken Emmy out in public like this, and it’s terrifying, but Ryanne knows what she’s doing. They make it through mostly unscathed- except for a new puke stain on Travis’s shirt- and then she takes Travis home. At his begging, she agrees to come in and show him how to give Emmy a bath without drowning her or scalding her or whatever the fuck else could go wrong while Gavin takes a nap.
“I literally don’t know what I’d do without you,” Travis says once he’s got Emmy dressed in her softest pajamas, fast asleep in his arms.
“You’re doing great,” she assures him. “Much better than I thought you would, honestly.” He wants to protest, but that’s fair, so he just shrugs, hugging her and Gavin before they leave. There’s a couple hours left before the game and Travis really needs to get a workout in, so he sets Emmy in her crib, taking a second to trail a finger over her chunky little cheeks and soft dark hair and wonder if she’ll look more like him or Nolan when she grows up. If she’ll like hockey or music or books or all of the above and he wants to be a good dad and he knows he’ll love her and he hopes she’ll love him too. And Nolan, whatever part he decides to play in this. Because Travis has to tell him. He would hate it if the situation was reversed and no one told him, no one gave him the chance to be her dad.
He’ll just have to wait until the road trip is over.
He gets his workout in, and a quick shower, and then Emmy’s awake so Travis decides she should watch the game with him. Google told him that skin to skin contact is supposed to help both of them, so he strips his shirt off and her onesie and settles her on his chest, her eyes wide and blinking at nothing in particular. She seems pretty content to chill there, and Travis has to admit it’s pretty comfy. He grabs his phone and takes a selfie of the both of them, ready to send it in the group chat and then he just… switches chats and sends it just to Nolan. He sends a we’re cheering for you bud and then tries not to stare at it, waiting for a response. The boys are probably in the locker room right now getting ready for warmups and Nolan doesn’t always check his phone before games. But then his phone buzzes in his hand and Travis opens it quickly.
What did you send him , the message from Haysey asks. He won’t show us . Travis almost sends him the picture, but some part of him wonders if Nolan wants to keep it private. Just in case, he doesn’t answer.
It’s hard watching the boys win without him, but not as hard as it would’ve been to watch them lose without him. Nolan’s on fire, a goal and assist and he just looks so good . Travis gets a little emotional about it, remembering all those nights on the phone, Nolan admitting that he didn’t know if he would ever play again. He watches Nolan grin after his celly and thinks, yeah, I’m in love with him.
It doesn’t help that, after the game, Nolan texts him back. Tell Emmy that one was for her , he says.
“Hey,” he whispers to her, “your daddy says that goal was for you.” She makes a little cooing sound, which Travis chooses to interpret as a thank you , and passes along the message. Travis grins at the smiley face Nolan sends back.
As easy as Emmy was the first couple days, it’s like she makes up for it over the next few. Travis feels like he gets maybe 3 full hours of sleep in the next 3 days. It’s diaper blowout after diaper blowout and Travis has to give her so many baths and do so much laundry. Some nights she just won’t stop crying. He tries googling: swaddling her doesn’t work, not swaddling her doesn’t work, rocking her doesn’t work, he even tries singing to her and that definitely doesn’t work. It makes something in his chest ache, listening to her cry herself to sleep.
On day 2 he caves and calls his mom, desperate to find out if he’s doing something wrong, and after she does a virtual checkup and makes him run through his whole routine she decides it’s probably just colic.
“You mean she’s just crying for no reason?” he whispers, not risking waking her up in the other room.
“It happens. It’s a little early for it to start,” she admits. “But stranger things have happened. Has she seen a pediatrician yet?” Travis could kick himself.
“They wouldn’t let me make an appointment until her birth certificate was turned in and then I completely forgot to call back,” he says. “I’ll call them right now.” He hangs up and makes an appointment for 3 days later and then collapses back on the couch. He’s been ignoring his phone, only vaguely noticing that he has a ton of missed messages. He just doesn’t have the energy to check it, and he lets it fall out of his hand as he falls asleep.
So safe to say he hasn’t been paying attention to the team’s schedule. He doesn’t even know what day of the week it is. Emmy’s in his arms, screaming at the top of her little tiny lungs as Travis walks her around the apartment trying to soothe her. He’s never respected single parents more in his life, and he wants to do this on his own. The universe decided he could do this, and he wants to prove it right. But. He’s at the end of his rope, near tears himself and seriously considering calling Ryanne for help when he hears the apartment door open.
“Teeks?” Nolan’s voice calls out. Travis can’t even bring himself to be surprised, just walks into the living room, still rocking Emmy in his arms. “Shit, man, are you okay?” Nolan asks as he approaches them. Travis just stares at him. “Can I take her?” Nolan asks gently. Travis nods and carefully passes her over. She stops crying immediately. And then Travis starts.
“She won’t… stop… crying,” Travis sobs between gasping breaths. “I’m a b-bad parent.”
“Teeks,” Nolan says, slipping his free arm around Travis’s waist and pulling him in. Travis buries his face against Nolan’s shirt and cries and cries and cries until he’s so exhausted that Nolan’s arm around him is the only thing holding him up. “You’re not a bad parent,” Nolan says when Travis has quieted. “Look at me,” he says firmly, pulling Travis back by the collar so he has to. “I want you to go take a shower. And then you’re gonna take a nap. I’ll watch Emmy.”
“But-” Travis protests.
“Shower,” Nolan interrupts him. “Nap. Go.” When Travis still doesn’t move, Nolan forcibly turns him around and walks him down the hallway with a hand on his back. He guides Travis into the bathroom and closes the door. “We’ll be right in the living room. I promise I’ll come get you if I need you.” Travis trusts Patty. And Emmy stopped crying as soon as he had her, like she knew she was with her daddy. Why shouldn’t he take the few minutes he has and take advantage of them?
He hadn’t realized how badly he needed a shower until the water hits him. He spends probably longer than he should in there, washing his hair and face twice until he feels like he gets the grime off of him. He’s almost disappointed when he has to get out, but the thought of crawling into bed calls to him more. He has to run to the bedroom to get clothes, and puts off getting into bed long enough to go check on Nolan and Emmy one more time. She’s still in his arms, now fast asleep, and Nolan looks over at Travis with a smile.
He’ll blame it on the exhaustion later, but he looks at them, and then looks at the space on the couch next to Nolan and decides fuck it . Nolan doesn’t do anything more than raise an eyebrow when TK lays himself out, resting his head on Nolan’s thick thigh (and Travis absolutely doesn’t think about biting it- no, seriously- but only because he’s asleep before he even feels Nolan’s arm around him).
He feels marginally more human when he wakes up, and it’s obvious how exhausted he must’ve been because he hadn’t even felt Nolan get up. There’s a pillow propped up under his head and a blanket covering him and he vaguely hears some rustling coming from the kitchen. When Travis makes his way in there, Nolan’s pulling some takeout out of bags.
“Delivery?” Travis asks with a scratchy voice, just to break the silence as he rubs his eyes. Nolan looks at him, staring at him for a long moment.
“Yeah,” he finally agrees. “I had them leave it at the door so they wouldn’t wake either of you up. You slept for like four hours.”
“Is she okay?” Travis asks anxiously.
“She’s fine,” Nolan assures him. “She got a little fussy but she had a bottle and fell asleep. What’s been going on? You didn’t answer any of my messages so I came straight here from the plane.”
“She’s just been crying all the time,” Travis says, burying his face in his hands. “My mom said she’s fine and it’s probably colic but the internet said colic doesn’t usually start until like a month in and she’s like a week old, so I have an appointment with a pediatrician…” he checks his phone, “tomorrow. And just like, what if I’ve fucked this up? What if I’ve been doing something wrong and she’s hurt and they decide I’m a bad father and take her.”
“Trav, that’s not gonna happen,” Nolan says, sliding a plate in front of Travis. “She looks healthy. You’ve been feeding her and giving her baths and everything. And I know how much effort you’re putting into this because you’re running yourself ragged. If there is something you need to do different, they’ll help you figure out what it is.”
“Yeah,” Travis agrees. “You’re probably right.”
“I am right. Now eat,” Nolan demands. Travis takes a bite and then realizes that he’s starving . He practically inhales the rest of the food, surprised but pleased when Nolan comes to stand behind him, draping an arm over Travis's shoulder and letting his hand rest over Travis's collarbone.
"Thanks for coming over," Travis says, leaning into the touch. "I needed this."
"Sorry I couldn't be here to help before it got bad," Nolan mumbles. "I feel, like… responsible for her. For both of you," he tries to tease. Travis knows Nolan can feel the way he tenses up. "Sorry, I-"
"No, no it's fine," Travis reassures him, holding Nolan's arm in place when he starts to pull away. "It's just… you've never asked about the other parent."
"I figured if it was important you would tell me on your own," Nolan says after a beat. Travis feels like shit . He gathers up his courage, glad he doesn't have to look Nolan in the face while he does this, and opens his mouth.
"Patty, you're-" he's cut off by a piercing wail from the baby monitor, feeling both relief and guilt in a sickening swirl as he slides out from beneath Nolan's arm and goes to get his baby. Once he feeds and changes her and finds a nice Flyers blanket to swaddle her in, he’s forgotten all about telling Nolan the truth. At least he pretends he does. They get a couple more hours of a happy, cooing baby in. And then the screaming starts again. At least with his nap, a shower, and some food in his belly the sound doesn’t pierce through his head like it had before.
“Sorry, Pat,” Travis says after they’ve gone through an hour of the usual tactics and she’s still going strong. “Might as well go home.”
“I’m not going home, idiot,” Nolan says, watching as Travis strips his shirt off and lays on the couch, settling a diaper-clad Emmy on his chest. “This is easier with two of us.”
“Yeah, but you still have to play,” Travis says over the sound of wailing. “She’ll wake us up every couple hours and you’ll be exhausted.”
“I don’t care,” Nolan says, flipping the light off so the only light in the room is the flickering of the muted tv.
“What if it makes your migraines come back?” Travis says, so quietly he doesn’t even know if Nolan hears him. But Nolan sighs, and Travis watches him wide-eyed as he squeezes himself between Travis and the couch, resting one large hand on Emmy’s back. Amazingly, blissfully, she quiets right down, falling asleep like having her dads with her is all she ever wanted in the world.
“This is important,” Nolan murmurs, right near Travis’s ear. “More important than hockey.”
“I want you here,” Travis admits, eyes on the tv. “But I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Teeks,” Nolan says gently, “there’s nowhere else I wanna be.” Travis turns to look at him, then, and they’re so close that their noses brush. Nolan’s breath fans across his lips and it would be so easy to just close the distance between them, to know what it feels like to have Nolan’s lips on his.
But he’s still lying to Nolan. And if even if this is something Nolan would want, Travis can’t do this until he tells him the truth. He can’t bring himself to do it now, not with their baby sound asleep and Nolan looking so relaxed and happy. So he looks away, letting himself snuggle in closer to make up for it. And when they move to the bedroom hours later, Nolan doesn’t even hesitate before settling in next to Travis.
And so, Nolan stays. They take turns getting up with Emmy when she cries and Travis makes them breakfast in the morning. Nolan has to leave for practice, but he’s back in time to drive them to the appointment with the pediatrician. They get the all clear, that Emmy’s happy and healthy, with “not even a diaper rash” and Travis celebrates by finally deciding to post a picture of her on instagram.
“It has to be perfect,” he coos at her. “You got your papa’s jersey on and your little matching hat and socks and instagram’s gonna lose their shit.”
“Papa?” Nolan asks from the doorway.
“That’s what I want her to call me,” he grins over his shoulder once he has her laid down on her little orange and black boppy pillow. Nolan comes up behind him as Travis is cooing at her, trying to get her attention long enough to snap a picture of her with her eyes open. Nolan offers to take a picture of the two of them, Travis laying on the floor next to her with his head near hers on the pillow. Then, “Get down here. We’ll take a selfie.”
“Are you sure?” Nolan asks, already moving down. Travis doesn’t even bother answering, just holds a hand up next to where Nolan’s holding the phone, snapping to try and get Emmy to look up. They both lay there next to her while they review the pictures, and Travis is pretty happy with how they ended up. He posts the one of just her first, then the two of them, then the three of them, then some caption about how he’s the luckiest dad in the whole wide world so no one mistakes her for a niece or a cousin or whatever.
He makes Nolan take his pregame nap in the bedroom while Travis and Emmy hang out in the living room. He’s even feeling pretty okay about taking her to the game tonight, since G got him some of those baby headphones that block out sound, and it’s never too loud in the player suite. Besides, he hasn’t really left the house since that day with Ryanne except for the doctor’s appointment, so it’ll be good for him to get out and see some people.
The instagram post started getting comments just seconds after he posted it and he tries to go through and like all of the comments from people that he knows. There’s a lot of speculation by the fans about who the other parent is, if it was his ex girlfriend, if it’s a wishbaby, if Nolan’s the other parent since he’s in the picture, and, yeah, maybe he didn’t think that one through. He doesn’t regret it, though. Nolan looks so happy in the picture, and if Nolan decides he doesn’t want to be her dad, or help raise her, Travis will always have that picture at least.
Nolan drives them to the rink that evening, pressing the car keys in Travis’s hand when Travis pauses to let some of the front office staff coo at Emmy in her car seat. “In case you need to leave early,” Nolan says.
“Thanks,” Travis breathes, grinning when Nolan squeezes his wrist one more time before he walks away. When he turns back around, the front office ladies look away quickly and completely unsubtly.
“I saw your instagram post,” Marie says. “Those pictures were adorable.”
“She’s very photogenic,” Travis agrees. “She takes after me.”
“Of course she does,” Marie laughs.
“Has Nolan been helping you out?” Denise asks, trying her best to sound like she’s not at all interested in the answer.
“Uh, well they’ve been on that road trip,” Travis hedges. “But he’s been around other than that. And G and Ryanne have really helped. What about Jackson, how’s he doing?” Travis asks, bringing the subject around to Denise’s own son to avoid having to talk about Nolan’s role in all of this. He’s rescued after another minute or two when Haysey walks in and makes a beeline for the carseat.
“How’s my favorite niece doing?” he whispers, crouching down in front of it. She’s sleeping, as expected, but he just stays there grinning at her for a few seconds before looking up at Travis with a glint in his eye. “Teeks, walk with me,” he demands, standing back up. “Ladies,” he nods at them while Travis picks up the carseat and then plants a firm hand on Travis’s shoulder to guide him down the hallway.
“She’s a perfect angel with absolutely nothing wrong with her,” Travis answers his question.
“I don’t know how you and Patty managed to produce something so adorable,” Haysey says lightly.
“Hey, we’re fucking cute,” he argues, and then stops in his tracks when he realizes what he just admitted to. Haysey turns to him with his stupid smug raised eyebrows while Travis checks to make sure there’s no one around. “No fair,” Travis hisses.
“I’m too smart for you, Tiki Bar,” Haysey laughs. “You just confirmed what I already knew. Now my next question is, does he know?”
“I’m working up to it,” Travis says, setting the carseat down. She’s heavy for being so tiny. “I just- what if I tell him and he decides he doesn’t wanna be around anymore.”
“Teeks,” Haysey says quietly. “As your best friend he’s already decided he’s gonna help you, no questions asked. You think he’s gonna wanna be part of her life less if you tell him he’s her dad?”
“It’s not how he feels about her that I’m worried about,” Travis mumbles, eyes on the floor.
“Then you’re a fucking idiot,” Haysey says, and his tone makes Travis look up quickly. He looks pissed . “He’s crazy about you. He’s just as gone for you as you are for him, and now he thinks you have a baby with someone else. No one was gonna say anything about it before and let you figure your shit out on your own, but now the universe gave you a baby and this is about more than just you. Shit, I gotta go before I’m late, but think about it, okay?” Travis nods, mostly just stunned as Haysey walks away.
He makes his way to the players box on autopilot, thankful that he doesn’t run into anyone else on the way. When he gets there, he pulls Emmy out of her carseat and hooks her back into the kangaroo pouch so he can carry her around, just so he has something to do other than think about Haysey’s words. Nolan’s crazy about him ? He looks down at Nolan on the ice for warmups and thinks there’s no way. But then Nolan’s eyes scan the rink, landing on Travis up in the box and he grins when Travis waves, and Travis thinks maybe . But then he thinks about Nolan showing up after a road trip, certainly exhausted, and taking care of their baby just so he could make sure Travis was fed and rested, and he thinks maybe . But then he remembers that day on the couch, when Travis had been close enough to kiss and Nolan hadn’t pulled away, had looked at him with soft eyes and a soft smile, and he thinks maybe .
Remembers Nolan sleeping in his bed, acting like Emmy’s dad without even knowing he is, and Travis knows he has to tell him. Tonight.
Thankfully, they win the game. Nolan gets another goal, and Travis thinks that’s a pretty good way to soften him up. He heads down to the locker room and makes his rounds, even chatting with a couple of the reporters. He’s in a pretty good mood, but mostly he’s just trying to hide how anxious he is.
“That goal was for you,” Nolan says quietly in his ear, peeking over his shoulder where Emmy’s still strapped in.
“For me, Patty?” Travis asks, leaning his head back and batting his eyelashes obnoxiously. “You shouldn’t have.” Nolan snorts, but a warm hand lands on Travis’s hip.
“You ready to go home?” he asks quietly, sending an involuntary shiver down Travis’s spine.
“Yeah, just let me get Emmy back in her seat.”
“I’ll do it,” Nolan offers, helping Travis undo the straps and scooping Emmy up. Travis watches him cross the room to the carseat and lay her down gently and feels a hand on his shoulder. He turns to find G looking at him pointedly.
“I’m gonna tell him tonight,” he promises quietly.
“It’s gonna be fine,” G assures him. “I’ll keep my phone on in case you need to call, but I promise it’ll be fine.”
“Thanks,” he says before Nolan comes back over and they make their way out to the car. He worries about it the whole way home, through dinner and the bottle and the diaper, through getting Emmy settled in her crib. Nolan’s changed into a ratty tshirt and shorts, his hair pushed behind his ears as he looks down at Emmy sleeping. Looking down at his daughter.
"I need to talk to you," Travis hears someone say with his voice. Nolan turns to look at him where he’s standing in the doorway and raises an eyebrow, waiting.
He doesn't know how to say it, doesn’t know if this is going to ruin everything . It’s not like you can take back having a daughter. It’s not just Travis’s heart at stake here, it’s whether his daughter grows up with one dad or two. And if Nolan doesn’t want him, doesn’t want to raise a child with him, that’s fine. Travis can’t fault him for that. He’ll still do the best he can for his daughter and make sure she has the best life she can.
And if Nolan does want to help raise her, but doesn’t want Travis? That would fucking suck. But he would accept that. It’s getting a little hard to breathe, his chest constricting, the walls in the room closing in on him, and he doesn't realize he’s started gasping for breath until Nolan's suddenly in front of him, his big hands cradling Travis's face.
"Fuck, Teeks, breathe," Nolan urges. "Whatever it is, it's okay." Travis reaches up and grabs hold of both of Nolan's wrists, keeping his hands there.
"You're gonna be so pissed at me," he says, voice weak. "And I'm so sorry." Nolan's eyes search his face warily, but he doesn't let go, waiting patiently until Travis catches his breath and his will. "You're Emmy's dad." Nolan doesn't understand at first, confusion clouding his features. And then his face goes completely blank, his hands stiffening against Travis's skin and Travis can't stand it.
He steps out of Nolan's grip and turns to the nightstand, grabbing the copy of the birth certificate from the drawer and shoving it into Nolan's hands. Nolan takes it with shaking hands and Travis can't , turns and leaves the room as fast as he can. He makes himself busy in the kitchen, cleaning some old bottles and emptying the garbage and trying to regulate his breathing. His anxiety spikes back up when he hears footsteps coming down the hall maybe 10 minutes later.
“You gave her my last name without even bothering to tell me that I’m her fucking father?” Nolan hisses, and even now when he’s obviously pissed he’s still thinking about Emmy, keeping his voice down so he doesn’t wake her. “She’s a week old, Travis! Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I can have it changed,” Travis explains, embarrassed by how wobbly his voice sounds. His nerves are shot after this week and he feels like he’s gonna lose it if Nolan starts yelling at him.
“I don’t want it changed, I want to know why the fuck you didn’t tell me.”
“I didn’t know if you’d-” he tries, then stops. “I just-”. With a heavy sigh he collapses into a chair at the kitchen table and buries his face in his hands, letting his mouth run. “I woke up with a baby and I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing and it’s not like you asked for a baby. You just got back from your migraines and I didn’t wanna make it worse for you.”
“Trav.” Travis flinches, Nolan’s voice close like he’s right next to Travis, but Travis doesn’t raise his head. “You didn’t ask for a baby either, and you’ve given up a whole month of hockey to take care of her. You didn’t think you should give me the same choice? To decide what I was willing to give up to take care of our daughter?” Our daughter , he said, and the sound of it makes Travis’s heart clench.
“I know, you’re right. I should’ve told you.” Nolan rests a hand on Travis’s shoulder.
“Look at me,” he says quietly. Travis takes a deep breath and looks up. Nolan doesn’t look pissed anymore, but Travis has a hard time meeting his eyes. “I’m in, okay? I was in before I knew she was mine, and I’m in now.” Travis is so relieved that he feels tears welling up for real this time. He lets Nolan pull him out of the chair and into his arms and Travis hides his face against his chest.
“I fucking love you,” he says, making sure he buries it against Nolan’s shirt. He doesn’t know if Nolan hears or not, but his arms tighten around Travis and they stand there until they’re both yawning.
“I’m still sleeping in your bed,” Nolan says when he pulls away. “Just so we’re clear.” And like Travis is going to complain? Yeah, right. They tiptoe back into the bedroom and settle in bed, Travis making sure to respond to G’s message letting him know they’re alright before he rolls over so he’s facing Nolan. He’s laying on his back, but he turns his head when he feels Travis looking at him.
“I don’t know what I’d do without you,” Travis admits in the dark.
“Lucky I’m not going anywhere, then,” Nolan responds. Travis can’t stop himself from crossing the space between them, letting himself reach a hand out to cover Nolan’s own, relieved when Nolan just flips his hand over and laces their fingers. They fall asleep like that, holding onto each other.
It’s easier, the next two weeks. Whatever made Emmy scream before seems to have settled down and she’s back to being a perfect angel. She’s pretty spoiled, constantly being held by someone since the team starts stopping by to see her and bring her gifts (predictably, little baby jerseys with their names on them). Travis has to admit it’s much easier with two people, and he only has to panic call his mom and Ryanne a few times when Google doesn’t give him a clear enough answer. Nolan gets his fair share of diaper blowouts and baby vomit, and gradually the fear that Nolan’s going to leave him disappears. He has to leave for practices and games and roadies, but he always comes right back to Travis’s apartment with a smile.
He has more time on his hands to remember how much he misses hockey, though. He doesn’t take Emmy to the games anymore because Ryanne told him that he needs to start settling into a routine with her, including going to bed at the same time every night. ‘Never too early to start sleep training,’ she’d said. ‘You’ll thank me later.’
That means he’s usually asleep when Nolan gets home from the games, only barely waking up when he feels Nolan climbing into bed with him. Sometimes he swears he feels Nolan’s lips brush his forehead, and more often than not when Emmy wakes them up for her late night bottles he’s got Nolan wrapped around him like an octopus, or he’s sprawled across Nolan’s chest.
He loves their little family. His phone is filling up with pictures of the three of them snuggled up together and he’s sure his mom is sick of them by now. His instagram’s getting more and more obvious, he thinks, with how many pictures of Nolan there are, but Nolan’s mom texts him and thanks him for posting them, since Nolan’s apparently really bad about sending her updates. Travis has to pause after that one. He’s not sure why he didn’t expect Nolan to tell his family, but it makes it feel that much more real to him, and the next time he’s tucked up under Nolan’s arm on the couch with Emmy on his chest, he’s almost convinced himself he should just go for it . Just fucking kiss him or whatever. The only thing that’s stopping him is Emmy. Things are good right now and he’s afraid to mess up the system they have going on.
“Just go for it,” Ryanne tells him in the family box one day. They have an afternoon game, exactly a week before Travis’s paternity leave is up, so he actually gets to bring Emmy with him and cheer for her daddy. They’ve agreed that Ryanne is going to watch Emmy when Travis and Nolan are doing hockey stuff, so she’s got Emmy in her arms with her pre-game bottle to ‘practice’. “Go downstairs and get his spare jersey from the equipment guys and when he sees you he’ll go crazy.”
“Yeah, okay,” Travis scoffs, rolling his eyes. “For sure, he’d be totally into it.”
“He would,” she argues firmly. “You could just say you wanted to match Emmy if it doesn’t work.”
“If you think it might not work enough to give me a backup plan, then why should I do it?”
“I’m only giving you a backup plan for you,” she smiles sweetly. “ I know that Nolan seeing you in his jersey will probably make him pass out, but if you need a backup plan, I’m willing to work with you.” The worst part is, it works. He doesn’t get one from the equipment guys because he would absolutely swim in it, but he sneaks into the store and buys one in his size, only having to sign a few autographs when people recognize him under his snapback. He’s sure there will be something online soon about him buying a Patrick jersey, but if this all goes his way, he doesn’t even care.
Travis doesn’t plan on putting it on until they go to meet Nolan after the game, but Ryanne convinces him to put it on so she can take a picture of him and Emmy and then he just… keeps it on. It’ll definitely end up on TV, but whatever. Travis is going to live his best life.
And he has to admit it’s absolutely worth it. Nolan walks out after the game and stops in his tracks when he sees Travis waiting outside the locker room.
“Say ‘go daddy!’,” Travis whispers to Emmy, just loud enough that Nolan can hear. Nolan steps close, pressing a kiss to Emmy’s little Flyers hat and then just… doesn’t step back.
“You’re wearing my jersey,” he says quietly, just for Travis. It sends a little shiver down his spine.
“Yeah,” Travis agrees, just as quiet.
“Not in the hallway, boys,” G’s voice rings out. Nolan steps back quick, the moment broken, and G raises an eyebrow at Travis over Nolan’s shoulder.
“You wanna go say hi to the boys?” Nolan asks Emmy, scooping her out of Travis’s arms. He steps back in the locker room and Travis is left to G’s mercy in the hallway, not quite ready to walk into the locker room with this jersey on.
“That’s quite a declaration,” G observes.
“It was your wife’s idea,” Travis deflects, not meeting G’s eyes.
“Then it’s a great idea,” G says firmly. “My wife is never wrong.” Travis can’t stifle his laugh and G grins at him. “Really, though, you guys good? You both seem happy.”
“We’re good,” Travis confirms. “Perfect, honestly. Emmy’s the most perfect baby in the whole world,” he grins.
“You been keeping up with your training?” G asks, thankfully changing the subject.
“The best I can,” Travis shrugs. “It’s fine when Nolan’s home but when it’s just the two of us I can only do what I can squeeze in between naps.”
“I guess we can cut you a little slack when you’re back,” G says easily. “You’re doing a great job, TK. You’re a good dad. Both of you are.” And maybe having a baby has made Travis soft, but he launches himself at G and hugs him tight while he blinks back tears.
“We wouldn’t be able to do this without you and Ry,” he says as he pulls away. G looks a little misty eyed himself and he seems ready to get out of there as fast as he can. He makes an excuse about going to find said wife right as Nolan comes back out with Haysey at his heels.
“Alright, Em, tell papa it’s time to go find some dinner,” Nolan says, crouching down to settle her in the carseat.
“Papa?” Haysey practically screeches. “Teeks, that’s so fucking cute.”
“Well we can’t both be dad,” he explains, rolling his eyes. “That would just be confusing.”
“Awwww, papa Teeks,” Haysey says right over him. Travis rolls his eyes again, following Nolan when he starts walking down the hall. “Papa Teeks and Daddy Patty. This is the best thing that’s ever happened.” Nolan gives Travis a look over his shoulders and Travis shrugs, mutually deciding to let him talk until he wears himself out. “Anyway, I brought you the stuff you wanted,” he says once they’re at Nolan’s car. “Let me grab it from my car.”
“What stuff?” Travis asks, hovering next to the open passenger door.
“He brought me some clothes and stuff,” Nolan says through a yawn. “I need to go other there someday and box the rest of my stuff up.”
“Oh,” Travis says, getting in the car so he doesn’t have to answer. That sounds an awful lot like Nolan’s planning on staying there permanently. He doesn’t want to let himself read into it, but what else could Nolan mean? They’ve already started turning the guest room into a nursery so if Nolan’s planning on staying, that means he’s also planning on sleeping in Travis’s bed permanently. Fuck, they really need to talk about this. Travis can’t keep doing this unless Nolan knows exactly what he’s getting into.
He knows he’s fidgety on the way home, and when Nolan stops at the Thai place, Travis volunteers to run in and get their food just so he has a reason to get out of the car and move . They watch Parks & Rec while they eat, which is a nice distraction, but by the time he’s settling Emmy in her crib it’s all he can think about. He hasn’t taken Nolan’s jersey off, and he knows Nolan’s noticed. He thinks if he can convince himself to keep it on he can also convince himself to talk about it .
He’s so caught up in his thoughts that he doesn’t realize Nolan’s next to him until he feels a hand on his lower back. “You’re wearing my jersey,” Nolan repeats his line from earlier. He’s standing so close that Travis can feel the heat of his body all along his side and he knows his face is heating up with a flush.
“I’m wearing your jersey,” Travis agrees. He doesn’t turn his head, not even when Nolan’s hand trails up and traces his own name across Travis’s back.
“You look good with my last name.” Nolan’s leaning in close, lips brushing Travis’s ear. “But Patrick-Konecny has a nice ring to it.”
“Pat,” Travis laughs, a little hysterically.
“You wanna do this, Teeks?” Nolan asks, other hand reaching out to turn Travis’s face toward him. “You wanna do this for real? You and me and Emmy?”
“I- yeah, Pat, I do. I want-” he doesn’t even know how to say what he wants, just that Nolan’s so close and offering exactly what Travis has been longing for, so he just says, “I love you.”
And then Nolan kisses him.