Patrick answers his phone by reflex, but he can't pry open his eyes, so he has no idea who he's talking to. Or not talking, exactly, because all he can manage is a sort of groan.
"Get the fuck back here," snaps whoever called him.
Patrick runs it through in his mind. It sort of sounds like Johnny, but Johnny's never that - that - whatever the word is for having feelings in your voice. Whoever this is sounds like Johnny would if he ever panicked. Patrick swallows a few times and says, "Uh, who is this?"
"Patrick, get the fuck back here, or I will end your life," and oh fuck, it is Johnny.
"It's not that bad," Patrick tells him, playing for time. Although it's true; it's never as bad as Deadspin likes to make it.
Johnny laughs. He sounds almost hysterical. But that isn't the worst part; in the background, Patrick can hear a high, hideous noise, unearthly and terrible. "Johnny," he says, genuinely scared now, "did you summon a demon?" He's read about that shit. It never goes anywhere good.
"Did you?" Johnny says, and he sounds - he sounds serious. Patrick doesn't have anything to say to that. "Just get the fuck back here," Johnny says, and hangs up the phone.
Half an hour later, Patrick's at the airport, buying a plane ticket back to Chicago. He doesn't have his shit - he can't remember where he left it, but it wasn't in his hotel room - but he still has his wallet, and that's good enough. Whoever has his collection of beer-stained t-shirts can just hang onto it. He'll come back as soon as he's figured out what's wrong with Johnny.
It turns out, though, that showing up at the pathetic Madison airport at 6:30 in the morning means a few hours of waiting to get back to Chicago. While Patrick's drinking bad coffee and his third bottle of water, his phone rings. He jerks it out of his pocket, hoping it's Johnny and he's sane again, but it's Sharpy. "If you're crazy too, I don't want to hear about it," Patrick says when he answers the phone.
Sharpy doesn't sound crazy, exactly, but he doesn't sound good, either. "Where are you?" he says.
"The Madison airport."
"Good. Get on a fucking plane and get back here."
"I'm just here for the coffee, man," Patrick says, because he can't not mess with Sharpy.
"Do I need to come out there?" Sharpy doesn't sound amused. He sounds - tense. Maybe pissed off. Everyone Patrick's talking to today sounds weird. Maybe it's to do with the moon or some shit. Or maybe this isn't Sharpy.
Patrick holds the phone away from his ear and checks it out, but that's definitely Sharpy's number. Also, come to think of it, that's definitely Sharpy's voice. "I'm coming back," he says. "What the fuck happened? Did Chicago end? Did they trade me? Did they trade Johnny?"
There's a moment of silence, and then Sharpy says, "Honest to god, I have no clue what happened here. Just. Get back." And then he hangs up.
Patrick wants new teammates, with better phone manners. And then he cringes, because maybe that's exactly what he's getting. He bets Mark Streit is super-polite on the phone. He crosses himself, just in case, and checks the time again.
By the time he's dragged himself through O'Hare and in to Johnny's, Patrick has a new theory: it's a prank. Sharpy got Johnny to front for him. So he's working on an indignant speech when he opens Johnny's door.
He never gets a chance to say it. When he opens the door, he sees Abby Sharp, surrounded by opened packages and boxes, with her boob in her daughter's mouth. Then he sees Sharpy, sitting on the floor putting together something made of brightly-colored plastic, and probably fucking it up, judging by his expression. And then he sees Johnny, who is crazy-eyed and holding a tiny infant. "What the fuck -" Patrick starts, and all three adults in the room look up and hiss at him in scary unison.
The tiny infant in Johnny's arms starts wailing. The sound makes Patrick want to kill someone.
It takes forty horrible minutes to make the baby go back to sleep, and during that time, no one can say anything that anyone else can hear. Eventually, Abby manages to get it to stop crying by doing something that Patrick would totally laugh at if he saw it on YouTube. She bounces on her feet and imitates a vacuum cleaner while swaying back and forth, and magically, miraculously, the baby stops crying. Patrick has never wanted to kiss anyone more than he wants to kiss Abby.
As soon as Abby does her magic, Sharpy and Johnny drag Patrick back into Johnny's room. "Shhhhhh," Sharpy cautions him in an undertone. "No fucking yelling, that kid has ears like a bat."
"Why -" Patrick starts. "What -" He doesn't fucking know what to say. He'd have noticed if Abby had been pregnant, he's pretty sure, and also Madelyn wasn't born that long ago. Not long enough ago for the Sharps to make another one. And, okay, things were pretty bad toward the end of the season, but Johnny would probably have mentioned if he was adopting demon spawn or whatever.
"I found him on my doorstep this morning," Johnny says grimly.
"Did you - did you hit and quit nine months ago? Without protection?" Patrick asks, genuinely shocked. Johnny's always so responsible.
"No," Johnny snarls, although he keeps it quiet. He still has the crazy eyes, but now his face is an alarming shade of red and he kind of looks like he wants to rip Patrick's face off. "And this was with him." He hands Patrick a piece of paper.
It's a birth certificate, and Patrick's pretty sure it's real. It feels like it's made out of weird paper, and it has a raised part on it. It even says Birth Certificate in fancy script. The date is May 20, 2012 - Patrick checks his phone and, yeah, that's today.
The baby's name is listed as Stanley Kane-Toews.
Patrick turns to Sharpy. "Fucking lame-ass prank, man."
"No prank," Sharpy says. "Seriously, you think I would?"
"Well, unless Johnny fucked one of my sisters - or someone else named Kane, I guess -" Patrick just trails off. "And who the fuck would name a baby Stanley?" he says. He actually wishes he'd had less to drink lately. His brain won't start.
"You," Johnny says. "You would."
"No I fucking wouldn't," Patrick says. Johnny just stares at him, flat-faced and yet still furious, and he remembers one night two years ago, hugging the Cup and promising to name his firstborn after it. "Not in a year we didn't win," he says, and it sounds pathetic even to his ears.
"Did you -" Sharpy says. He shakes his head, hard, and then manages to say, "Did you do something stupid even for you?"
"Like. Adopt a baby and name him Stanley Kane-Toews?" Patrick says, looking at the birth certificate. "I don't think they'd let me do that. There are probably rules and shit."
"Yeah, there's rules and shit," Sharpy says. "But something crazy had to happen here, and either you or Johnny did it."
"Was at his door," Patrick points out. "So it was probably him." He's pretty pleased with the reasoning, which he thinks will get the heat off him.
"I don't do crazy things, that's you," Johnny tells him. "And probably he got left at my door because you weren't around. Or because you'd have to be crazy to leave a baby at your door."
"You'd have to be crazy to leave a baby at anyone's door," Sharpy says. "And, guys, look. I just did this, remember? You don't have a baby born sometime in the early hours and then check out of the hospital the same day in good enough shape to leave the baby at someone's door. They wouldn't let you. Even if you had the baby at home - the birth certificate says today. You found him at five thirty this morning. That's barely enough time to clean up the blood." Patrick cringes, and he can see Johnny doing the same. Sharpy just keeps on going, though. "You don't even get the birth certificate the first day. It took us six fucking weeks."
"So it's a prank," Patrick says, back on comfortable ground. "Has to be."
"A prank with a live human newborn," Sharpy says, in his Patrick Kane, You Are an Idiot tone.
"People do weird shit?" Patrick says hopefully.
Sharpy and Johnny shake their heads, and that's it, Patrick's done. "Whatever," he says. "That's nothing to do with me. I don't know why you called me back here."
"You need a DNA test," Sharpy tells them.
Johnny nods, and Patrick stares at them both. "How the fuck do you figure?" he asks. "It's not like - seriously, there's no way Johnny and me could ever make a baby. It wouldn't work. Did your parents never give you this lecture? And, anyway, we only did it once, and that was way too recently to -" Patrick has to break off there, because Johnny just dug his fingers into Patrick's shoulder. Hard. Patrick thinks Johnny might actually be trying to dig for bone, there.
"You had sex?" Sharpy says.
"Once," Johnny snaps. "It was a mistake. It won't happen again. And we weren't going to tell anyone," he adds, staring menacingly at Patrick.
That fucking stings. Patrick already knew Johnny thought it was a mistake, because he'd said so in so many words and basically every other way he could find, but it still stings to hear him say that. "It was after the playoffs," he explains awkwardly to Sharpy. "It's not - that's nothing to do with this."
Sharpy shifts from foot to foot, and he won't look at either of them. "I don't know," he finally says. "I don't think we can rule anything out, because none of this makes any fucking sense."
Patrick has nothing to say to that. The baby - Stanley - apparently does, though. He starts wailing again, from the living room. Patrick doesn't understand how anything this new can be so loud.
Abby appears, carrying Stanley. "Look, I already have one," she says, holding the baby out to Johnny. "And mine is quieter."
Johnny takes the baby and stands there helplessly, one hand under the baby's butt, the other behind his neck. Stanley shrieks. Sharpy looks around the room. "Okay," he says, talking really loudly because even though Johnny is trying to imitate Abby from earlier, he's not having any luck. "You know how to make a bottle, you have a co-sleeper and a bassinette and a wrap and a car seat and diapers and formula and spit-up cloths and a swing and a bouncy seat and a monitor and some clothes. I think you're ready, guys."
Patrick just stares at him, because - ready? Ready for what? You do not get ready to take care of a baby by just getting handed one and a bunch of stuff and going to it.
Abby reaches over and pats him on the arm. "I know," she says, and she sounds really sincere. "I felt that way, too. But this is one of those things you have to learn by doing. Call me if you're desperate." And she heads for the living room.
Patrick turns to stare at Johnny, hoping he'll have a plan that involves them not sitting in this condo taking care of this tiny angry red gnome creature. Johnny is staring back at him, and it's pretty clear he's hoping the same thing. "Here," Johnny says. "You take him." Patrick backs up a step reflexively. Johnny sighs like Patrick is so much of a burden and adds, "You have to be careful to support the neck because he can't control his head yet."
"I know how to hold a fucking baby," Patrick snaps at him, rolling his eyes, and it's mostly because he's pissed at Johnny that he steps forward and takes the - the baby. Stanley. He's careful, because, okay, he has done this, but he's never held one this new. Stanley's body is hot, probably from screaming so much, and his face is scrunched, but there aren't any actual tears. Patrick isn't sure if that's normal or not. He tries bouncing like Abby did.
It doesn't work. Patrick apparently doesn't have that magic or whatever. He shifts the baby around a little, trying to get his mouth pointing away from Patrick's ear, and kind of settles him around, and by the time he's comfortable, Stanley has gone from shrieks to hiccupy noises.
"Keep doing that!" Johnny whispers.
"Doing what?" Patrick asks him, but that sets Stanley off again.
After a few minutes, though, Patrick has Stanley settled for real. Johnny's looking at him like he is both amazing and too terrible to stand, which Patrick is really used to. Johnny mimes something a few times, and Patrick is pretty sure he's asking if he wants a drink, which, fuck yes. He can't ever remember wanting a drink more than he does right now, standing in Johnny's bedroom with a mystery baby falling asleep on his shoulder. But Johnny comes back with a bottle, so clearly he fucking sucks at life and charades.
Patrick shakes his head at the bottle - Stanley's sleeping, and Patrick's not about to wake him up. Johnny nods and gestures at the door, so Patrick heads out to the living room. He sits down on the couch too hard, and Stanley makes a noise but goes back to sleep.
It's like holding a stick of dynamite or something. Patrick can't move or talk or play anything or watch anything. Next to him, Johnny carefully, slowly drags out his laptop, and Patrick hopes he's going to do something interesting, but instead he googles "baby won't stop crying." Patrick kind of reads over his shoulder, as best he can.
Stanley sleeps for two hours. In that time, they read fourteen websites and Johnny orders five books and three DVDs from Amazon.
When Stanley wakes up, Johnny goes to the kitchen and comes back with a bottle, which he hands to Patrick. Patrick has been sitting in one place forever and wants nothing more than 1) to take a piss and 2) to do something, but he shoves the bottle in Stanley's mouth because the kid probably can't cry while he's drinking.
Blessed silence returns. Johnny leaves again and comes back with a piece of paper, on which he starts writing. Patrick reads over his shoulder for a few seconds, but the first two things are:
2. Call the team
And Patrick doesn't even want to know what would come after that.
"Pediatrician? We're seriously going to take this baby to a doctor? He's going to wonder how we got it," Patrick says. It actually feels kind of weird to talk, after two hours of enforced silence.
"So we'll lie," Johnny says. Patrick just blinks at him, unable to believe that Johnny of all people is suggesting, whatever, defrauding a baby doctor. That has to be a crime. "Anyway, the birth certificate has both our names on it, so maybe the doctor won't ask."
Patrick stares at him, because he did not look at the parents' names on the thing. He didn't get past the Stanley Kane-Toews part. "It has our names?" he repeats, his voice cracking.
Johnny rolls his eyes and stomps off to the bedroom. When he comes back, he holds the birth certificate in front of Patrick's face. It reads:
Parent 1: Jonathan Bryan Toews
Parent 2: Patrick Timothy Kane, Jr.
Patrick recoils, and Stanley pops off the bottle and makes a scrunchy face. "Hey, no, no, no," Patrick tells him, and manages to get the bottle back in his mouth before he starts crying.
Johnny grimaces. "You're better with him than I am," he says. "I'll make the phone calls." And Patrick can't even argue that Johnny has the easier job, there, so he just watches Johnny head back to the bedroom.
Fifteen minutes later, Stanley is fed but still awake, and Patrick is trying to figure out if he can put him down long enough to piss. Johnny comes back out looking pale and set. "We have an appointment for tomorrow at 11:15," he says. "With a doctor. And we're going to see Bowman and Rogowin at four."
Patrick looks at the clock - shit, how can it still be only one in the afternoon? He says, "Your turn with the monster."
Johnny shakes his head and says, "He'll cry."
"I'll piss on your floor, Johnny, come on," Patrick says, and Johnny looks like he still wants to object, but he steps forward and takes the baby.
Stanley shrieks in rage, and Patrick basically runs to the bathroom. When he comes out, Johnny is standing there stoically, holding furious, furious Stanley, and Patrick feels something weird twist in his gut.
Maybe he's hungry. Patrick heads into the kitchen and makes two sandwiches. He bolts his down, then carries the other one out to Johnny and trades him for Stanley. After a few minutes, Patrick manages to get Stanley back into his not-crying mood. But while Johnny's eating, Patrick realizes something terrible: Stanley needs a new diaper. "We have to change him," he says to Johnny.
Johnny nods like he's just been told to do a bag skate, puts down his sandwich, and heads over to one of the piles of packages. He extracts a diaper and a package of wipes and comes back over and offers them to Patrick.
Patrick won't take them. He's not stupid. "We'll do this together," he says.
They manage to get the diaper off, no problem, and fortunately it's just wet. Then they have to figure out how to get another back on, and that's - not impossible. It'd be easier if Stanley hadn't started crying again, but Patrick has realized that Stanley is basically always going to be crying, so they have to suck it up.
Just as Johnny's about to bring up the diaper, Stanley pees. He manages to hit Johnny and Patrick, but Patrick is really grateful for Johnny's superior reflexes, because he somehow gets the diaper over Stanley before he gets, like, the wall or the ceiling or the couch.
Johnny fastens the tapes, and they stare at each other. For once, Stanley is quiet, and if Patrick didn't know better, he'd say he was smug. "Uh," Johnny says, grimacing. "If he finished going in the diaper, does that mean we have to change it again?"
"Better now. While he's empty," Patrick points out, and Johnny nods. It only take them like three minutes to get the diaper on Stanley this time, and no one gets hit with anything. When they're done, Johnny and Patrick high five, and Patrick feels stupidly proud.
"Shower now," Johnny says, because he's all noble and shit. "I'll go second."
Patrick takes basically the fastest shower in existence and then changes into some of Johnny's ridiculously big clothes. When he comes out, Johnny's sitting on the couch with his peed-on shirt off, holding Stanley against his bare chest. Stanley's asleep. Patrick creeps over and takes the shirt away to the laundry, then comes back and finds a baby blanket in the pile of gear and puts it over Stanley.
Johnny's staring down at Stanley on his chest, and it's. It's cute. Patrick wonders if there's some kind of way to just - keep Stanley quiet forever. He's really kind of okay when he isn't screaming.
The meeting with management is eight kinds of hell. Just getting there is a certain amount of hell; getting the baby seat in Johnny's car is basically impossible. Like, Patrick honestly does not believe anyone ever does this, because he and Johnny are two of the most determined people on the planet and there are times when they're both tempted to give up.
And after they finally do get the stupid car seat installed, they have to drive in with Stanley shrieking insanely in the back seat. Patrick can't sit still while he's doing that, and every time anyone in front of them brakes for any reason he has to genuinely talk himself down from getting out and beating the shit out of the driver. He thinks he's just over-reacting until Johnny mutters, "Remind me to put a baseball bat in the car," and then he realizes - well, that they're both over-reacting, probably. But the image of taking a baseball bat to every car in Chicago gets him through to the rink, at least.
And of course Stanley hates the conference room and cries wretchedly through the entire meeting, making Johnny and Patrick look even worse than they already do, which is actually kind of impressive. That kind of skill really makes Patrick wonder if Stanley actually is related to him. Usually only Patrick himself can accomplish this level of image-lowering.
Johnny and Patrick have to take turns standing in the hall with shrieking Stanley, so that people in the conference room can think and hear, and it's hard to say whether it's better to be the guy in the hall or the guy in the room. It's obvious no one believes them when they say they have no idea what happened, and Rogowin from PR keeps looking at the birth certificate with an expression Patrick has absolutely never seen before on anyone. He looks like he's foreseen his own death or some shit.
After everyone talks it all through like three times, Bowman breaks the deadlock. "You have a baby," he tells Patrick, whose turn it is to be in the room. "In the long term, we need to work on how that happened and where we go from here, but in the short term, you need to take care of the baby. So do that. We'll brainstorm here."
Patrick nods and goes back into the hall, trading out with Stanley so Johnny can hear Bowman tell them the same shit. Johnny comes out, grimaces, and they walk back to the car together. Stanley actually calms down once they're outside. He seems to like walking.
"They won't trade us for this, right?" Patrick says hopefully.
"After this gets out, no one will take us," Johnny says grimly, and they buckle Stanley into his seat, which pisses him off again.
They spend the rest of the day handing Stanley back and forth. Around seven, they manage to eat take-out, which Johnny sadfaces about because even in the offseason he hates fun, but he can fucking deal, because - well. Stanley. They change more diapers, including a shit-filled one that Patrick is never thinking about again. By 8:30, Patrick's completely fucking exhausted. Johnny looks tense the way he gets when he's tired.
And Stanley looks wide awake and prepared to scream all night long.
"Please," Patrick says to him desperately, after he's been crying for an hour, "please just stop." He's not sure he can stand another minute of this. He pretty much wants to die.
Stanley doesn't. Because misery is the fucking mother of invention, or something, Patrick says, "He liked being outside before. Let's take him out." They do, Patrick carrying Stanley and Johnny opening doors and stuff, and outside Stanley finally stops crying. They walk him around for about half an hour, and he goes to sleep, suddenly much heavier in Patrick's arms, his head on Patrick's shoulder.
They creep up to the condo with him. The Sharps left them with a, like, basket-thing and also a crib, but Patrick cannot imagine Stanley sleeping through being put down. He's only ever happy when he's with a person.
"Can you just - hold him?" Johnny whispers.
"I have to sleep sometime," Patrick whispers back. Actually, he has to sleep right now. One day with Stanley is basically the equivalent of a playoff game that goes into six overtimes. He's so fucking tired.
"Sleep with him," Johnny says, and he looks genuinely desperate.
Patrick thinks about it. The only time Stanley really slept well was on Johnny's chest earlier, so. He's willing to try it. He sits down super carefully, then wriggles his shirt up so that Johnny can pull it off him. He settles down in the chair, then settles Stanley on his chest, and Johnny covers them both with a blanket.
Patrick isn't sure this will work, but he's so tired he's falling asleep even as he thinks that.
Stanley wakes up at midnight, and Patrick totally has to give Johnny credit. He's right there, already getting a bottle, and he feeds Stanley while Patrick goes and brushes his teeth and changes into a pair of Johnny's sweats. Stanley, wonder of wonders, actually goes back to sleep after the bottle, and Patrick takes him back and goes right back to sleep in the chair.
Stanley wakes up again at two. And three. And four. At 5:30, he's up for good, which he announces by crying and crying and crying. By six, Patrick and Johnny have drained two pots of coffee and still can't keep their eyes open.
While Johnny's feeding Stanley, he says, "I'm going to talk to the doctor about this. This can't be normal."
Patrick raises his head off Johnny's kitchen table long enough to say, "Because you know so much about babies?"
"If all babies were like this, there wouldn't be any second babies. Or any people," Johnny points out.
When he's right, he's right. Patrick puts his head back down and catches five more minutes of sleep.
The pediatrician's lobby is filled with toys and little kids, which is one of those totally obvious things Patrick just didn't expect. Her office staff is like wall-to-wall hot chicks, and Patrick can't even front like he can flirt with them, given that he's carrying a baby who is currently doing a really good impression of a goal horn, and also he's covered in formula because of a bottle accident they had in the car, plus some puke from after the bottle accident. Turns out sitting in the back with Stanley doesn't make him any happier, but does put you in range of a lot of horrible stuff.
They stand in the lobby, surrounded by quieter kids and their far better parents, and take turns doing all the stuff the websites suggested - bouncing Stanley, rocking him, making a really loud shushing noise - but nothing helps.
After fifteen minutes, a woman with a kid who is, objectively, probably not all that old, but who looks like a giant compared to Stanley, leans forward and says, "How old?" She's gesturing to Stanley.
Patrick actually has to think about it, which makes him feel like a dipshit. "Uh, like two days," he finally manages. He's working on his second day, anyway.
She says, "Mine didn't start crying like that until she was seven days old. And then she didn't stop crying. And I swear I spent more time crying than she did. I honestly thought it might be possible to die from being around a crying baby too much." Patrick just nods, overwhelmed. He's never felt so understood before. She continues, "It ends. I swear it does. Just get through this."
"When does it end?" Johnny says, and he probably sounds fairly calm to someone who doesn't know him, but Patrick can hear the desperation in his voice.
The woman says, "For me, it took three months, but it started getting better at seven weeks."
"It will end," she repeats firmly.
"Thank you," Johnny says automatically. He's staring at Stanley, and he looks - stunned. Patrick has no idea what he's thinking. Then they get called back, so Stanley can get weighed (he hates it) and get a weird thing put on his foot (he hates it) and get his temperature checked (he really, really hates it, but Patrick can't blame him, because it turns out babies get their temperatures checked through the back door, and no one should get surprised there, it's like a basic human right). Then the nurse, who is super hot, smiles and leaves.
Stanley seems louder in a small room, and it feels like they wait forever. After - however long, Patrick isn't checking clocks anymore - Patrick succeeds in getting Stanley to stop crying and go to sleep, and that, of course, is when the doctor comes in.
She's calm, cool, and collected, basically everything Johnny and Patrick are not and may never be again. "I'm Dr. Anzel," she says. Johnny and Patrick introduce themselves and Johnny shakes her hand. She smiles at them and continues. "How are you doing?"
Johnny and Patrick look at each other and finally Johnny says, "We're doing. Uh. Okay." Patrick wonders if the doctor can hear that it's lie.
Apparently she can. Dr. Anzel says, "The first days are hard for everyone. Let's talk about how things are going."
She asks them questions about how they adopted him, which they manage to stumble through, and then takes them through what he's eating and how much and how he's sleeping and how often.
"Do you have a birth weight?" she asks them.
Patrick and Johnny exchange panicked glances, and Patrick finally says, "Uh, no."
Dr. Anzel nods and makes a note in her computer. "It would be helpful to get that, if you can," she says.
There are more questions, which Johnny and Patrick mostly fail to answer. Patrick keeps waiting for her to realize that they aren't competent to be - whatever, in charge of a baby - and, like, call in some kind of strike force to take Stanley away from them. She's a doctor; she should be smart enough to notice how much they suck at this. Patrick is wearing clothes that are way too big for him, and he and Johnny are both covered in formula and baby barf, and neither of them can make a complete sentence. Dr. Anzel acts like she sees this shit all the time.
"First night rough?" she asks.
Apparently this is the cue that Johnny's been waiting for. "He won't stop crying," he says. "He cries all the time."
The doctor nods. "You know, it's a little early for colic to start," she says. "But it could be that. Or it could just be him trying to adjust to things. He's eating well and he looks good, so it's probably nothing to worry about."
"Except for the part where we're both going to be crazy in another couple of days," Patrick points out. Then he adds, "Assuming we're not crazy right now."
"I know it's rough," she says sympathetically. "Tell you what. Let's go over some strategies you can use to address his crying, and then we'll do the physical exam and make sure there isn't some kind of underlying cause for this."
Patrick actually feels his gut clench at that. Like, what if he's been crying so much because he's sick or hurt or they're not treating him right? He feels so panicky about it that he kind of tunes out her discussion of ways to keep Stanley from crying. It's okay, though, because Johnny is taking notes in his phone. Patrick just wants her to look at Stanley already.
Eventually, she says it's time. "Let's try to do as much of this as we can with you holding him," she says.
She pokes and prods Stanley, waking him up. He takes it fairly okay. But then it's time to put him down on the crinkly paper. Stanley, predictably, cries and cries and cries. She checks him all over, completely ignoring the crying, and then hands him back to Patrick.
The doctor apparently has a lot of practice at talking through crying, because Patrick can understand her perfectly when she says, "You know, he's looking really good. He's doing well. I can see that you're having a hard time of it, but Stanley himself is fine."
And then she leaves them in the room, promising to come back when Stanley is calmer.
The final verdict is that Stanley is totally normal and they have to do it again in two days. "Usually," she says, "we wouldn't bring you in so quickly, but this was really his baseline visit, and I want to keep an eye on the crying." Patrick figures she wants to keep an eye on them, actually, and he can't blame her.
Patrick and Johnny nod and make their escape. At home, they feed Stanley, who immediately goes to sleep. Johnny whispers, "I'm up" and strips his shirt off before getting into the recliner. Patrick hands over Stanley like he's passing off a live grenade, and then he goes into the bedroom for two glorious hours of entirely horizontal, uninterrupted sleep.
Over the next few days, they manage to get a sort of rhythm going. They wake up way too early, stumble around drinking coffee and Red Bull, feed Stanley, change Stanley, carry Stanley. On the 25th, when he's all of five days old, they try to wash him. Turns out Stanley likes the water. Also turns out two professional hockey players are incapable of bathing an eight-pound baby without covering themselves and an entire bathroom with water.
The next day Patrick snaps. "We have been in your apartment forever," he tells Johnny. "I've got to get the fuck out of here." They've been out to go to the rink, to go to the doctor, and once Patrick went to his place to pick up some shit. Other than that, they've been here. Patrick is starting to hate Johnny's walls.
Johnny looks genuinely alarmed. "You'd better fucking come back," he says.
"I'm not saying I have to go alone. I'm just saying I have to get out. I have to go somewhere fun."
"Stanley's too young for your kind of fun," Johnny says, really snottily, and fuck him. Patrick's been doing his share, here. No one can say he hasn't been pulling his weight in this insane baby team.
"Fine. Then fuck you," Patrick snaps, and storms out the door. He ends up coming back like half an hour later, though, because he forgot his wallet and his keys.
When he opens the door, he can hear Stanley crying and Johnny talking to him, too quiet to make out the words. And when he walks into the bedroom, the stark relief that flashes across Johnny's face, just for a second, makes him feel - it makes him feel okay, he guesses. And kind of guilty for leaving.
"We could take him out somewhere," Patrick says.
"Yes," Johnny says instantly, so either he's tired of being stuck in here, too, or he's sorry for basically suggesting that Patrick would take their - whatever, their Stanley to a bar or someplace. "We should get out the carrier thing," Johnny adds.
Patrick thinks that's a brilliant idea - carrying Stanley everywhere basically makes it impossible to do anything, especially since they both still freak out if they don't have both hands on him at all times. And then he gets out the stupid wrap thing that the Sharps apparently picked out, and he realizes it's the worst idea anyone has ever had. If he wanted to wrap Stanley up like a present, he could probably use this thing, but he has no idea how to make it attach Stanley to his body. And Johnny keeps insisting on reading the fucking directions, which is totally useless. Stanley, who they had to put down to figure this out, is, predictably, screaming. After two minutes, Johnny and Patrick are yelling at each other at a volume that almost beats Stanley's.
After ten minutes Patrick's done. "Look, let's take him out and try to figure it out out there," he says. "Maybe he'll cry less. Maybe we'll suck less." Worse comes to worse, they can just carry him forever. It's not like they both need their hands. And they're hockey players. He's not that heavy.
Johnny nods and shoves some diapers and bottles and formula into a diaper bag with - holy fuck, with rainbow cupcakes on it. Patrick knows absolutely and completely that Sharpy picked that bag out, and also that he is a far sicker fuck than any of them had suspected. Johnny bundles the weird horrible wrap thing on top of the junk in the bag and they get the hell out.
On the street, Stanley seems happier, especially after they start walking. "Where to?" Johnny asks.
"Let's go to the Bean," Patrick suggests. Stanley seems like the kind of warped individual who would think the Bean was awesome. At least, if he takes after Patrick at all he will.
As they walk, Johnny rereads the instructions and pokes at the wrap, and Patrick carries Stanley. He finds himself pointing out sites of interest to Stanley, which is probably actually crazy, but his whole life has been crazy since the playoffs started. He's in the middle of telling Stanley about the wonders he'll behold at Millennium Park when a guy - taller than Patrick, really bulky, beard like he's in the Cup finals - stops them on the street.
"Hi," he says, and Patrick's heart just about stops, because - yeah, he's fine with fans, except how will they explain Stanley?
"Hi," Johnny says, making what Patrick knows is a really brave attempt to look glad to see a fan.
"We had that one," the guy says, "and it's a bitch unless you know the trick. Want me to show you?" Patrick realizes, belatedly, that he's indicating the wrap thing.
"God, yes," Patrick says fervently. He wants to be able to use his hands someday.
The dude takes the wrap, folds it, unfolds it, bunches it, twists it around Johnny's body, ties it, and then says, "Okay, now you put the baby in here, just kind of slide him in." Johnny does, and Stanley doesn't even mind being passed over. "Now you pull up this part and it goes like this," he continues, and - bam, just like that, Stanley is strapped securely to Johnny's chest by about eighteen yards of bright pink fabric, his head poking out at the top and pressed against Johnny's chest, and Johnny's hands are free. This dude is clearly a fucking magician. Patrick wants to marry him.
"I love you," Patrick tells the guy sincerely. "I'd offer you my firstborn, but he's really cranky." Johnny flinches sort of weirdly when he says that, but fuck him: Stanley is legit cranky.
The guy laughs. "They get better. Hey, congratulations, okay?" He waves and walks off, and Johnny and Patrick continue toward the Bean. Johnny doesn't even look upset about the bright pink aspect of things.
If Patrick were a lesser man, he'd send a picture of this to the entire team. But then Johnny'd make him wear the wrap, probably. He keeps his phone in his pocket.
Stanley loves the Bean and then sacks out right in the wrap, making it absolutely the best day of his life they've had so far. Johnny and Patrick pick up hot dogs and head home, and they actually have a really nice evening. The wrap thing is great. Yeah, when they have to take it off Johnny, they'll never get it back on, but in the meantime, Johnny and Patrick can eat at the same time. They can play Xbox. It's a miracle.
Until Patrick's neglected phone starts buzzing and buzzing and buzzing. When Johnny checks his, it's dead, but as soon as he plugs it in, it starts buzzing, too. They stare at each other for a moment of supreme horror, and then Patrick picks up his phone and looks.
So many texts. So many voicemails. His phone rings, and Patrick just looks, and then he carefully refuses the call and goes to his texts. The first one is from Erica:
OMG YOU LOSER. Y didnt you say u had baybeeeeeeee w j? Did u name her after me?
The next one is from Seabs:
Congrats i guess but srsly wtf
And the one after that is from Patrick's cousin Jimmy. It has a link to Deadspin.
"You look," Patrick says. "I have Deadspin issues."
"You look," Johnny tells him. "You're used to this shit." Normally, Patrick would be pissed off about that, but he's too busy going through his usual stages of having been Deadspinned. He's at the stage where he still thinks he can just spend forever not looking.
Johnny makes an impatient noise and grabs Patrick's phone. "I guess it could be worse," he says after a few minutes. He sounds shellshocked. Patrick's gotten all the way to the ripping off the bandaid stage, so he grabs it back. The headline reads:
It's The End Of Manliness As We Know It: Patrick Kane And Jonathan Toews Have A Baby
There's a helpful picture with the article; it's them at the Bean, with Stanley strapped to Johnny in the bright pink wrap and Patrick carrying the stupid fucking rainbow cupcake diaper bag. Patrick's bending over a little, talking to Stanley, and Johnny appears, bizarrely and basically uniquely, to be smiling.
"Oh, shit," Patrick says. "Oh, shit."
His phone rings again. It's his mother.
Johnny's face has gone absolutely white. "I have to call -" he says. "But you first. Go ahead, answer."
"I - seriously? What do you expect me to say?" The phone stops ringing. Patrick can't hide his relief.
"Waiting isn't going to make it better," Johnny says. "Call yours. Then I'll call mine." He gets up and goes into the bedroom still wearing Stanley, leaving the field clear for Patrick.
Patrick tries to figure out if he could maybe just pretend to call, and then Johnny pokes his head back out and says, "Call. Now." He's using his captain voice, the one that suggests that it's a choice between doing what he says and losing your dick.
Patrick picks up the phone and dials.
"Patrick," his mother says when she answers. Her tone is absolutely level, and Patrick is already fighting the urge to confess everything he's ever done wrong. She waits, and she just - she can always fucking wait him out.
"It's not what it looks like," he tries.
There's a pause, his mother obviously thinking, and then she says, "To me it looks as though you and Johnny have a baby. If it's not how it looks - did you kidnap her?"
"Him. Stanley," Patrick says, and winces. "Look, it's. It's complicated."
"I can see that," his mother says. She's waiting again. The phone is basically totally full of her patient waiting, no words required.
Patrick caves and explains the whole thing. At the end, his mother says, "You have a baby."
"Right," Patrick says.
"And you decided I should find out when Jackie's friend Brenda sent her a link," she continues.
"We didn't know it would get on Deadspin," Patrick says, and even he can hear how weak it is.
"He's my grandson," she says. "My only one. And I found out about his existence from Deadspin."
Patrick is so, so dead.
The rest of the day passes in a blur of horror. Getting yelled at by Johnny's mother is never exactly fun, but they have it coming, so they have to suck it up and take it, putting her on speakerphone so she can yell at Johnny in French and Patrick in English at basically the same time. Then Patrick's dad calls, and that right there is another fucking awkward and terrible conversation.
Then Rogowin from PR calls. He sounds like Johnny and Patrick have killed his soul. "Guys," he says, pained. "I thought we agreed to keep this discreet."
Patrick points out, very reasonably, that there's no discretion possible when you have a new baby who is loud all the time, and Johnny follows that up by saying pretty much the same thing, but nicer.
"We've got to manage this," Rogowin says. "Can we say that he's Johnny's? And you're just - helping out, Patrick?"
That pisses Patrick off so much he basically can't even talk, just imagine punching Rogowin's horrible face, so Johnny steps in and says, "And when they ask me where the mother is?"
Rogowin pauses. "We have to say something," he says.
"Well, it's got to be something better than that," Johnny responds, and he sounds angry, too, which makes Patrick feel slightly better.
"Can you come in for another meeting?" Rogowin hesitates, and then adds, "And, look, no offense, but maybe we'd get more done if you didn't bring the, uh. The kid." He sounds like he wants nothing more from life than to be far away from Stanley, and Patrick's offended some more.
"Where do you think we can leave him?" Patrick says. The Sharps would probably take him, actually, but fuck Rogowin. It's one thing to dog on Patrick, okay, and another thing entirely to dog on his kid.
Rogowin sighs heavily. "Okay," he says. "We'll get on this here and get back to you."
Patrick actually remembers to hang up the phone and make sure it's off before he says, "Dickshit motherfucker asshole." He's really proud of how mature he's getting.
The next call is Andrée again. Patrick cringes, but Johnny's in the bathroom, so he has no choice but to pick it up. It's not like he needs Johnny's parents more mad at him. "We're coming out," she tells him.
"You and Bryan?"
"Yes. And also Donna," Andrée says grimly. Because just Johnny's parents weren't enough, apparently; Patrick's mom has to come pile on.
When Johnny comes out, Patrick shares the news, and Johnny is honestly, obviously speechless. After a minute of hopeless staring, he goes into the kitchen and comes back out with two beers. He hands one over to Patrick, still silent.
"We have to clean up," Patrick says, looking around. Johnny's cleaning service is still coming twice a week, but they're not making a dent in the sudden influx of crap that came with Stanley. Half the stuff the Sharps left them is still in a pile in the living room. The rest of it is strewn all over the place. There are dirty clothes and washcloths everywhere, and two diapers are sitting by the door waiting to go into the trash. The swing has formula on it, and so does the bouncy seat, and so does the couch. The sink is full of mugs and spoons and forks, because they only ever find time to wash the bottles. And the trash is full of take-out containers.
Johnny drinks half his beer in one swallow, then says, "What do we tell them?"
"Uh, I pretty much already told my mom everything," Patrick says. "And then I told my dad everything. And then they asked questions, so I had to tell them again. We basically don't have any secrets left." He'd feel bad, but if Johnny had a secret he wanted Patrick to keep, he should have mentioned that before.
Johnny drinks the rest of his beer. "My mother asked if we were together," he says.
"I bet that one was easy to answer," Patrick snaps. He's not still mad at Johnny about the playoffs thing. Not really. Okay, maybe a little.
"It. Wasn't," Johnny says. He sounds pained. "Seriously, Patrick. What do we tell them?"
Patrick doesn't want to do this at all. He and Johnny can't really fight right now. It takes both of them and all their energy to handle Stanley. "Tell them the truth. I can deal," he says, and then goes to shower.
In the shower, he mostly thinks about - well. The time with Johnny. It had been good, and the fact that Johnny was a total fuck who couldn't, like, accept that or whatever - that didn't change the part where it was good. Patrick remembers Johnny's mouth on his dick, and his dick is really well-trained when it comes to Johnny, because he's basically instantly hard.
He's sort of relieved, actually. He's jerked off in the shower a total of twice since Stanley. He was starting to wonder if his dick was broken. But apparently not. Also, thinking about fucking Johnny's mouth still really does it for him. Patrick soaps up his hand and goes to work.
Andrée and Bryan come by late the next morning, and they want to see Stanley. That's pretty much all they want at first. Patrick hands him over, and Andrée coos, and Bryan coos, and they all eat the lunch that Johnny's parents brought with them. As soon as that's done, they basically fall into like a rabbit hole of reminiscing about what a terrible baby Johnny was. It's fascinating, especially since it embarrasses the shit out of Johnny.
"He cried all the time," Andrée says, bouncing Stanley like an expert. "He woke up every hour and a half on the dot. I spent his first year swearing I would never have another." She laughs like it's just a really funny memory, instead of a fucking life sentence she has just handed Patrick.
Bryan nods. "Yeah. Even when he was brand-new, he'd look at us like he was so disappointed in everything we'd ever done." He laughs. "We called him Tiny Judge Jonathan."
Johnny stares at them both like he's willing them to shut up. Patrick grins at them. "So, like, basically Stanley's a clone of Johnny?"
Andrée says, "Oh, no, he's much cuter."
"That's my side coming out," Patrick says, nodding.
Andrée and Bryan exchange glances. Bryan clears his throat. Johnny says, "Uh, so, um, uh - do you want to see some pictures?"
Bryan spends the next few minutes looking through the pictures on Johnny's phone, even though Stanley is right there and hasn't changed too much in the week he's been alive. Sometimes Johnny's family is as weird as he is.
While Johnny and Bryan are busy, Andrée corners Patrick. "How have you been holding up, Patrick?"
"I need more sleep," Patrick says fervently. He's used to being tired, but even the playoffs aren't like this; Stanley never sleeps for more than two hours at a time, usually more like one, and he and Johnny are getting four or five interrupted hours of sleep a day, max. They're turning into zombies.
"If you like, we'll take Stanley for a walk for a few hours, let you boys get a nap," Andrée offers. Part of Patrick actually rebels at that, like he somehow thinks Andrée and Bryan won't be able to take care of Stanley, but most of him is shrieking fuck yes. He manages to stammer that out, minus the fuck, and Andrée smiles.
Andrée asks about a stroller, which they don't have. She shrugs and says she'll figure out the wrap. And then they take Stanley and his rainbow diaper bag out of the apartment.
Johnny and Patrick stare at each other for a moment - it's weird, because neither one of them is holding Stanley, and also there's no crying, so the place feels empty - and then they both run for Johnny's bed.
Five minutes later, Patrick's asleep, and he thinks Johnny actually beat him to it.
When Patrick wakes up, there are voices in the living room, and one of them is his mom. Patrick rolls over and rubs his eyes. He's not sure how long he slept, but he feels almost human, so it had to be a while.
"We should have called them first thing," Johnny says.
Patrick rolls over onto his other side. Johnny's lying there, staring at the ceiling, probably reviewing the events of the last week because he's a freak. "Yeah, maybe," Patrick says, "but we were busy trying to keep Stanley alive, so I'm going to cut us some slack."
"Yeah," Johnny says, dissatisfied. "I just wish I'd had some prep time for this."
"Are you seriously beating yourself up because we're not doing better with our surprise baby?" Johnny doesn't say anything, so obviously the answer is yes. "I really hope Stanley inherited my disposition," Patrick says, and gets out of bed. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Johnny twitch. Patrick decides to let him be all, like, vampire-level emo by himself.
He heads out into the living room, and it's. Whoa. It's like house elves or something hit the place while they slept. Everything is tidied up, and all the baby crap is either put away or neatly organized and cleaned. The dirty clothes are gone. The room no longer smells like old formula. Andrée is sitting in the recliner with Stanley asleep on her shoulder. And Patrick can smell actual food cooking in the kitchen.
"Oh god, I love you all," he says.
"You should have thought of this before," Andrée says unsympathetically, sounding eerily like Johnny. Patrick's seriously going to have to give Stanley, like, special fun lessons or something when he's older. Find a way he can fight the Toews in him.
Then Patrick's mom comes out of the kitchen. She walks over and kisses Patrick on the cheek, then grabs his head and says, "Patrick Timothy Kane, if you ever, ever do something like this again." She doesn't finish the threat. She doesn't have to.
"No one would have expected this!" Patrick says defensively.
"You're absolutely right. No one, not even those of us who have known you for your entire life, would have expected you to have a child and not call your parents."
"Sorry," Patrick says, because what else can he say?
"You're not forgiven," his mom says. "You'll have to work harder than that."
Patrick sighs. He is definitely the only person in Stanley's gene pool who has any sense of, like, being human at all. He's got so much work to do.
Johnny comes out a few minutes later, and there's some kissing and hugging and quiet but intense lecturing and judgment, and then it's time for dinner. Their parents made real food, chicken with some kind of sauce and a grain salad and a green salad and broccoli, and Bryan holds Stanley so the rest of them can eat at the same time. He seems sort of entranced by Stanley, actually. Patrick's a little worried about that. What if Stanley has mind control powers? No one will be safe.
Although actually, probably the only reason Patrick and Johnny haven't died at their parents' hands is that Stanley is really cute, and also such a holy terror that they don't want to be stuck with him. Patrick mentally high fives Stanley. If he's got mind control, he just needs to keep up the good work.
The meal goes great until about halfway through, when Andrée says the word "nanny."
Patrick looks at Johnny, who blinks at his mom. "Uh, we haven't really..." he says, and trails off.
Patrick's mom looks worried. "You need to get on that," she says. "It'll take a while to find someone, and you're going to want to get to know her very well before you leave Stanley with her overnight."
Patrick drops his fork and just stares at her, because - overnight? Fuck no, he is not leaving Stanley with someone overnight. Anyone but Johnny or Patrick would break after four hours with Stanley, max.
"Which you're going to have to do. I assume you're not retiring from hockey to take care of your son," she tells Patrick, and, wow.
Patrick spends the rest of the meal not really paying attention to the conversation. He just eats and thinks, because - he was treating Stanley like the playoffs, getting through one day at a time, focusing on getting the most important shit done, and putting off everything else, including sleep, for after.
But his mom is right. There's not going to be an after Stanley. The season is going to start, and they're still going to have him. The playoffs are going to come, and they're still going to have him. The next offseason will come, and Stanley will still be here. No one is going to show up to take him away. They're all the parents he has, and they're his parents forever. For longer than Patrick will play hockey, for longer than Patrick will be able to skate, Stanley's going to be his son.
Patrick's not sure, but he thinks he might be freaking out.
After Andrée and Bryan and Patrick's mom go back to the hotel - and, shit, Patrick guesses he might as well start thinking of them as the grandparents, holy fuck - Johnny and Patrick go through the routine of dealing with Stanley in the evening, when he's usually cranky as fuck, this time rendered even crankier by the sudden absence of doting grandparents.
Patrick can't sit still, and for once he's not able to calm Stanley, either. He's just. He's twitchy.
After about half an hour, Johnny says, "Fine. Go out."
"You want to go out, so go out." He sighs, super irritated, and says, "You look like you do when the playoffs are over, like you just can't fucking wait to get wasted. So if you're going to do it, do it tonight."
Patrick opens his mouth to argue, but the thing is, Johnny's right. He needs to get drunk. He needs to get so drunk his brain stops working, and he needs to do it right now.
"I'll be back," Patrick says, and this time he remembers to grab his wallet and keys on the way out.
Patrick's good at getting drunk. Basically, his skills consist of 1) hockey and 2) drinking. So he knows the routine like he knows the ice. He gets a cab to a bar, hands his credit card over to the bartender, and gets down to business.
"This is too serious for beer," he says. "Get me something strong."
The bartender says, "Any preferences beyond strong?"
"Not at all," Patrick tells her, and gets exactly what he deserves for that: a giant pink foofy drink with fruit and an umbrella in it. It's got a kick that says serious alcohol is lurking under all that sweetness, though, so Patrick knocks it back and asks for another one. "Except not pink this time," he says.
She gives him one that's purple and has two umbrellas in it. And a little monkey.
An hour later, Patrick has five umbrellas on the bar in front of him, and he can't really feel his feet. He gets up to take a piss and almost falls over, saved only by his spectacular reflexes. And, okay, also the dude standing next to him. "Whoa," Patrick says.
When he comes back from the bathroom, the bartender cuts him off. "Hey," Patrick says, offended. "I'm still talking and everything. I can get way drunker than this."
"Not here, you can't," she says. "If there's going to be another editorial about you in the Tribune, it's not going to show you passed out on my bar."
"You are no fun," Patrick tells her. "You are, like, the queen of not being fun. I know a dude you should totally hook up with. He's hot and shit, too. He has an awesome ass. It's the greatest work of art you'll ever lay eyes on in your life." He pauses. "Except I don't actually want you to hook up with him."
The bartender says, "If I wanted to hear about your tragic unrequited love, I'd work Thursdays. I'm calling you a cab."
Patrick gets the cabbie to take him to another bar, and he opens another tab. He has another couple - okay, a few - drinks there, and then that bartender cuts him off, too, and calls him another cab.
"People always putting me in cabs, man," Patrick complains to the driver.
"Yeah, I wonder why," the driver tells him. "I want your credit card in front, and if you puke in my cab, I'm adding a three hundred dollar cleaning fee to your tab."
"Why is no one in this city any fun anymore?" Patrick says, handing over his card.
The driver looks at it. "Maybe you need to win another Cup, Mr. Kane," he says. "Okay, I need an address."
"Just take me someplace with booze," Patrick says.
"How 'bout I take you home?"
Patrick squints at him. "You're not that hot," he tells him. "And anyway, I've got a kid."
"Riiiiight. Address, or do I see if I can page someone from the Blackhawks front office?"
Patrick doesn't really remember anything past that.
He wakes up in the morning with a pounding headache and a stomach protesting his basic existence. He staggers to the kitchen, grabs a bottle of water, and chugs it. Halfway through, he panics: Stanley! Where's Stanley?
And then he realizes he's at his place. Where it's quiet, and clean, and he can sleep as long as he wants to. He drinks another bottle of water and decides to go back to bed.
For some fucked-up reason, he can't sleep, though, so he takes a shower. A glorious, long, uninterrupted shower. He makes himself jerk off even though he's totally not in the mood, just because he's at his own house.
He gets out, drinks another bottle of water, and takes like five aspirin, then decides he's definitely going back to bed. He still can't sleep, though.
Or sit still.
And what if Johnny's strangled Stanley by now? Say what you want, but it's tempting even when there's two of them. And, shit, he left Johnny alone with Stanley all night long. Johnny's going to kill him, and he's going to deserve it.
Ten minutes later, he's in a cab heading back to Johnny's place.
He still feels like absolute shit, but on the trip in the cab he gets more and more antsy, and the five minutes it normally would take at this time of day seem like eighteen years. He knows Johnny would always take good care of Stanley, but he can't stop worrying anyway. He feels panicked and guilty and sick, on top of the usual hangover sick.
He pays the driver way too much money and runs to Johnny's place, opening the door as fast and as quietly as he can.
He walks into the living room and sees Stanley, and the relief is immediate and overwhelming. Yeah, Stanley's wailing like a banshee, but he's obviously fine.
But the terror is also immediate and overwhelming, because his mother is holding Stanley. And she looks pissed.
She gets up and walks out of the condo, still carrying Stanley, and gestures for Patrick to follow. They walk down to the street, and as usual, being outside in the disgusting Chicago weather makes Stanley calm down.
"Patrick," his mother says, after they've walked a block. "We need to talk."
"Um," Patrick says brilliantly.
"Jonathan called me this morning and asked me to come over to sit with Stanley, because you were out all night and Stanley didn't sleep. He didn't tell me where you went, but he didn't need to. Patrick, you have a week-old son. What were you thinking?" And that's not, uh, whatever the word is for pretend asking. Patrick can tell she really wants to know.
They walk for a while longer, and Patrick tries to put his thoughts in order. It's harder than it should be. Maybe he should stop drinking.
He stops, rewinds that thought, and cringes, because - yeah, he's going to have to stop drinking. Not, like, never letting a drop touch his lips or whatever, but. "I can't party anymore," Patrick says out loud, realizing. "Holy - holy crap, I'm 23 and I'm going to have to be boring forever."
"Is Sharpy boring?" she asks. "Look, it just takes more planning when you have children. You don't leave your - your partner at home alone with a colicky infant while you party. And you make arrangements with your parents to come babysit in advance."
Patrick blinks at her. "You should be, like, the happiest person in the world that I'm thinking about never partying again. Why are you helping me?"
She sighs. "Patrick, when you have a child," and then she stops and starts again. "I know you," she says. "When you decide to see something through, you do. You always do. It's one of the things I admire most about you." She pauses. "I just haven't seen any sign yet that you've decided to see this through."
Patrick is suddenly, immediately pissed off. "What the - what the hell are you talking about?" he snaps, and he'd be yelling at his mother if she wasn't, you know, pretty scary. "If I'd been planning on fucking off and leaving Stanley, I would have done it already. But he's puked on me and he's screamed at me and I haven't slept and I'm still here."
"Where were you last night?"
"I just needed one night away," he says. "That's not some f - freaking crime. And Johnny told me I could go."
"I think Jonathan thought a night off might keep you from leaving more permanently. He's not sure what he can expect from you. He's worried."
"He knows what he can expect from me, because I've been doing it." Patrick can't stop himself from adding, "And he's the one with a - a commitment problem. Not me."
She stops walking, to the irritation of passersby, and frowns at him. "Oh, really?"
"Yeah, really. He's all, it was such a mistake to -" and then Patrick remembers he's talking to his mother and pretty much wants to swallow his own tongue.
"So you had sex and he said it was a mistake," she summarizes. "Did you talk to him about it?"
"...Yes," Patrick says.
His mother says nothing.
"He talked, okay? He did all the talking necessary."
She says, "I'm going to keep walking with Stanley for a while. He's falling asleep, so maybe I'll go to Starbucks and get some coffee. You are going back to the apartment to talk to Johnny. And you will use real words, like an actual adult, instead of going to Madison because Johnny said something stupid."
Patrick opens his mouth to argue, but she shoots him a look. Patrick seriously needs to get some people in his life who can't look at him that way.
In the meantime, though, he's fucking stuck. He nods morosely and slouches back towards Johnny's place.
Johnny's awake when Patrick gets there, staring into a cup of coffee. He's got a Red Bull open in front of him, too. Patrick grabs a can of Red Bull for himself and drinks down half of it.
"Hey," he says. "Thought you'd still be sleeping."
"I woke up because it was too quiet in here," Johnny says morosely. "I think Stanley's done something to my brain."
Patrick can seriously relate. "So, like," he begins, and then sort of doesn't know where to go from there. Finally he settles on, "Sorry I left you alone with the monster."
Johnny shrugged. "I could see you needed to go," he says, and the words sound understanding, but Patrick is an expert in Toewsian Non-Speech, and he knows Johnny is actually judging the fuck out of him.
"Look, you did tell me to go, so getting pissed off about it is seriously low," Patrick says.
"Do you really think," Johnny starts, and oh yeah, now he's really angry. Patrick knows all the signs. Johnny takes a deep breath and starts again. "The problem is not that you wanted a night off. Although I'm fucking taking a night off sometime soon, too."
"Deal," Patrick says, holding up his hands.
"The problem," Johnny says, and then he just grinds to a stop.
"Should I do fill-in-the-blanks?" Patrick snaps. "The problem is you're just not good enough, Kaner. The problem is you aren't me, Kaner. The problem is that you're human, Kaner."
"The problem is that you're not fucking eighteen anymore!" Johnny yells.
Patrick blinks, derailed. "So, like. I'm not eighteen. And that's a - bad thing?" He seriously has no idea what Johnny is talking about.
Johnny stares at the table and sighs. He suddenly looks - defeated. Like they just got swept in the first series of the playoffs, that bad. "You act like you're eighteen. You act like a rookie who just got his own place and his own money for the first time."
"Oh, fuck you," Patrick snarls. "Which blog did you get that from?" Seriously, Johnny of all people should know him better than that.
"Those pictures of you passed out in Madison were just a Kaner doppelganger?"
"When you were out, I stepped up. I did your fucking job even though I suck at it. When I got moved, I stepped up. I did whatever I was fucking told. Hell, all this week, I have stepped up. Don't even try to tell me I haven't, you motherfucker."
"You have," Johnny says, and Patrick still wants to punch him in the face, because if he knows that, what's the fucking problem? "You're fucking clutch, okay? When the pressure's on, I can count on you. But life isn't - Stanley isn't - fuck." Johnny stares furiously at the table, like he's trying to do math in his head. "When the pressure's off, you're gone." He says it flatly, like he's delivering a verdict. "Stanley doesn't need just clutch. He needs you all the time."
Patrick kind of wants to punch the wall and kind of wants to puke, so he ends up doing neither. He just stands there in Johnny's kitchen and tries to make himself think before he says anything. He finally starts with, "Fuck you." Johnny makes a short, sharp noise, like he is just exasperated beyond bearing, so Patrick repeats it. "No, seriously, fuck you. Fuck you for thinking I would ever, ever leave Stanley. He's pretty terrible, but he's mine, you asshole."
Johnny doesn't respond to that, and after a minute Patrick has to look at him, even though he knows that if Johnny's, like, rolling his eyes all disbelievingly or whatever he'll have to punch him in the face, and then probably his mother will have him arrested for domestic violence. But Johnny is looking at him like - like he's surprised. Like Patrick just scored in overtime to win them the Cup.
"You really thought I'd run," Patrick says. He should feel angry, but mostly he just feels bewildered. "How do you not know me better than that?" Johnny's played with him for five years. He should know that Patrick stays in until the game is over, and if you want him to leave, you have to fucking throw him out.
Johnny shrugs. "I've been watching you pretty closely," he says, and Patrick opens his mouth to call him an asshole again, but Johnny's already adding, "but I guess maybe I was - biased."
"Biased," Patrick repeats.
Johnny nods. "You know, you can edit a lowlights reel. You can make any player look bad, if that's what you really want to do. Or if you think you have to."
Patrick gets it, suddenly and completely and totally. Johnny just passed to him, absolutely blind, but he knows the entire play now. "That's why you said it was a mistake, you fucker," he says, because the whole thing is just unreeling in his mind, now. "You think I'm unreliable. You think I'm juvenile. You fucking convinced yourself that I'm a worthless asshole."
"I -" Johnny says.
Patrick holds up a hand, because he fucking has the floor right now. "No, seriously, you are such a dick," he says. "I don't know why I'm so into you." He walks over to Johnny, who sets himself like he's preparing to be punched, and it's not like Johnny doesn't need to be punched sometimes. Patrick's usually totally on board with that. But right now there's something he needs to do even more.
He hauls Johnny out of his chair, pushes him against the kitchen table, and kisses him.
Johnny kisses him back immediately, as intense in this as in every other thing he ever does, but it doesn't feel like enough. Patrick bites Johnny's lower lip, sucks his tongue, does everything he can think of, but he just wants - he wants more. He goes full-on vampire and bites Johnny's neck, and the leftover frustration from the fight maybe drives him to bite a little harder than he otherwise would.
Johnny gasps, and when Patrick pulls away, he's licking at his lip where Patrick bit it, his eyes a little dazed. Patrick smiles and capitalizes on that, pulling up Johnny's shirt and dragging his fingernails up Johnny's sides at the same time.
"Patrick -" Johnny says, and his voice already sounds kind of rough, which is really fucking satisfying. "We can't -"
"Fuck that, we're going to," Patrick says, because Johnny's bullshit has kept them from fucking for long enough.
"No, I want, it's just - Stanley," Johnny says. "And, and your mom."
It's against all the rules of everything to bring up someone's kid and mom while you're having sex with him, but Patrick takes Johnny's point. "She's staying gone long enough for us to be done fighting," he says. "So we should have time as long as we get to it and you stop being a wuss."
Johnny nods. Apparently that’s all it took to get him totally on board, because he's the one starting the kissing now, pressing up against Patrick with his whole body, stroking his hands along Patrick's back like he can't stop touching long enough to do anything. Patrick pushes his leg in between Johnny's, hoping to get something going there, but Johnny's too fucking tall for that to do any good, so he just goes for it, sliding his hands under the waistband of Johnny's sweatpants, feeling up his frankly phenomenal ass. Patrick rakes his nails across Johnny's ass a few times, just to hear him gasp, and then makes enough space between them to get his hand on Johnny's cock.
As soon as he does, Johnny pulls away and says, "No - Patrick - I want -" and then Johnny is pushing Patrick back, back, back, until he's up against the kitchen wall. As soon as he is, Johnny drops to his knees and starts undoing Patrick's fly.
Patrick's been hard since he bit Johnny, but this makes him impossibly harder, achingly hard, because this is Johnny, and he's on his knees. For Patrick. In the fucking kitchen. When Johnny finally gets his dick free, Patrick feels like he should thank him, but all he can get out is moans, because Johnny is fucking going for it.
It's not like he's good at this. Objectively, he's really not. But he's so fucking Johnny, even on his knees, giving everything he's got to this, sloppy and enthusiastic and so fucking sincere Patrick can hardly stand it. It takes everything Patrick has not to thrust, not to fuck Johnny's mouth, and so there's nothing left for holding back, and he comes, way, way too fast, pushing himself against the wall so he doesn't fall down.
When Patrick can focus his eyes again, Johnny looks dazed and desperate, and he's - fuck, he's got his hand in his pants, and he's jerking off without ever even getting off his knees.
"Fuck no," Patrick says. He drops down next to Johnny and pushes his hand away. Johnny makes a tiny, cut-off noise of protest. "I've got this," Patrick assures him, and he does. He gets Johnny on his back on the kitchen floor and gets his sweats off, and, just, wow. The last time they did this, it was in the dark and Patrick was too fucked up from the playoffs to give Johnny the attention he deserved, but it's morning in Chicago, and Patrick isn't going to make that mistake twice.
He lets himself explore for just a few minutes, because there's no part of Johnny he doesn't want to touch. Johnny starts making noise when Patrick licks his nipple. Patrick bites, and Johnny gasps; his hands come up to hold Patrick's head in place, so he bites a little harder, and Johnny's hips jerk up. Patrick switches sides and does it all over again, because he wants to know what other sounds he can get Johnny to make.
"Fuck -" Johnny says. "Come on, come on, just fucking do something," and Patrick's not immune to that, not at all. He gets his hand on Johnny's cock, and, fuck, just yes. Johnny moans like he's trying not to, but Patrick can tell he's been leaking for a while, and he wants to get more of that. So much more. He strokes Johnny light and fast, winding him up until Johnny is fucking his hand, until he can't hold back the noises anymore. Patrick doesn't want this to end, so he keeps Johnny on the edge, holds him there, loosening his hand when he can tell Johnny's close, loving how it makes Johnny swear at him. Johnny's fingers are digging into Patrick's shoulders hard enough to leave bruises, and his moans are starting to sound more like sobs, but Patrick's waiting for something, waiting for something specific.
"Patrick, please," Johnny chokes out, his voice ragged, and that's it. That's what Patrick needed to hear. He tightens his hand and jerks Johnny a few times, and that's it, and Johnny's coming all over himself.
It takes a minute or two for Johnny to catch his breath, and then he opens his eyes and blinks at Patrick. "You fucker, you were totally holding back on me the last time we did this," Johnny says.
"If you're already forming critical sentences, obviously I need to try harder next time," Patrick says.
Johnny groans, but he's smiling.
Over the next week, it's pretty much all Stanley, all the time. Johnny gets them both back on a regular workout schedule. Patrick writes a truly ridiculous check to a nanny-finding firm, but he lets Johnny write the questions they'll ask for the interviews.
Patrick's mom and Andrée go shopping and come back with a weird bed attachment that Stanley can sleep in, and after two ridiculously awful nights they manage to persuade him to fall asleep on Patrick in the bed, lying down, so Patrick can creep away after twenty or thirty minutes. It's amazing. There's like two whole hours every day when Stanley is asleep in the bedroom that Patrick and Johnny can spend together. Patrick has never loved anything more than he loves the co-sleeper. He's ready to marry it, but he'd probably have to fight Johnny for the honor.
The day after the grandparents go home again, Rogowin calls, sounding truly desperate, but this time Patrick knows what to say. "Adam," he says, and he tries to sound sympathetic, he really does, although probably he's not exactly managing, "I hear you. But the situation is that Johnny and I have a kid. And that isn't going to change. So there's not really much we can fucking do here except own it."
Rogowin says, "Guys, the media's going to eat you alive."
Johnny says, "So we'll do it after the convention. That way, the convention isn't all about us, but we still have plenty of time to do pressers before training camp, so we'll be able to focus on hockey by the time the season starts."
Rogowin clearly hates the whole concept, but Stanley nicely truncates his arguments by waking up from his nap in his usual hideous mood and shrieking until they take him out for another walk.
The day Stanley is three weeks old, Patrick says, "You know, I think we're starting to get the hang of this." Of course, Johnny later threatens to kill him for saying that, because over the next two days Stanley manages to pee on basically every surface in their place and wakes up every forty-five minutes apparently just to be a dick. But still. Patrick had a few hours where he actually felt like he had a handle on this whole parenthood thing. He has every reason to believe he'll get back there in another year or two.
They interview a nanny, and another nanny, and another nanny, and finally hire Amy. Johnny likes her because she speaks French and has a degree in child development. Patrick likes her because she tries really, really hard not to laugh at his depiction of Stanley in full scream, and doesn't quite succeed.
Rogowin schedules their big "Yes, we are actually two hockey players who have a baby, suck my dick" press release for the end of July, and Johnny starts going through all the millions of voicemails and texts that have built up since the Deadspin article, in preparation for the millions more that will come after the press release.
"This is stupid," Patrick tells Johnny, maybe eighty times. "I just deleted all mine. Anyone who really has something important to say will call again."
"I might miss something," Johnny tells him, and buckles down even more.
That night, Patrick's lying next to Stanley in bed, waiting for the big moment when he's limp enough to be shifted into the co-sleeper. Johnny's next to him, sorting through his messages, and suddenly he makes a noise, sitting bolt upright. Patrick punches him in the thigh, because silence and stillness is key, it is critical to this whole process, and Johnny fucking knows it.
Twenty minutes later, Patrick makes the shift, and they tiptoe out. As soon as the bedroom door is closed behind them, Johnny shoves his phone basically into Patrick's face.
It's displaying a series of texts from - fuck, from Sidney Crosby.
"Why am I reading the words of the world's dullest human?" Patrick says, sighing dramatically.
"Just read that," Johnny snaps. He looks kind of crazy-eyed, so Patrick does.
The first one came in the day after the Deadspin article hit, and it says:
Did you wish for anything the year you won the Cup?
The next one is from two days later:
Seriously, did you? Fucking answer me, this is important.
And the next one is from a week after that:
Jonathan, if you get this, call me. We need to talk.
"He calls you Jonathan?" Patrick says, horrified.
"Did you read any of the rest of the texts?"
"Yeah. So Crosby's weird about the Cup. In other breaking news, Don Cherry's a dick."
Johnny shakes his head and calls Crosby, even though it's got to be past his bedtime. He sets it to speakerphone immediately.
"Yeah, what?" Yeah, they woke Crosby up.
"Always a charmer," Patrick mutters.
"Jonathan?" Crosby says, and now he sounds more awake.
"Just got your message," Johnny says apologetically. "I had a lot of them."
"Yeah, but mine actually mattered," Crosby snaps.
"Did you forget how to dial a phone?" Patrick asks.
There's a pause, and Patrick really hopes Crosby is thinking about strangling Patrick. Eventually, Crosby says, "So did you?"
"Wish on the Cup?" Johnny hesitates. "Yeah. Yeah, I did."
Patrick whips his head around to stare at Johnny, betrayed, because Johnny never told him that.
"And?" Crosby says.
"I wished for a legacy, okay? I was worried that was as good as I'd ever get, and I just wanted to know - I wished for a legacy."
"Fucking fuck," Crosby says. "What did you wish for, Kane?"
Patrick just blinks at the phone for a second, unwillingly impressed at Crosby's ability to find whatever version of your name you're least interested in being called. Then he says, "Um," because the truth is pretty humiliating, and he's not about to admit to it to Sidney fucking Crosby.
"I remember you promising to name your firstborn after the Cup," Johnny says. "Did you wish for a kid or something?"
"Oh come on," Patrick says. "My wish was not that stupid." And, oops. He'd been planning on not actually admitting he made a wish.
"What did you wish for?" Johnny asks, and then, when Patrick makes a not-in-front-of-Crosby face, he sighs like a total asshole and says, "Just tell us, we both already know you make stupid choices."
And that kind of pisses Patrick off, so he snaps, "I wished for us to - to play together. Forever," Patrick says. That's not exactly what he wished for, actually, but it's close enough.
"Right. So you were probably about to be separated, like maybe traded, so the Cup had to act." Crosby sounds like everything has been revealed, which, Patrick's glad for him, but this still makes no sense.
"I. What?" Johnny says blankly. Patrick gets that.
"You can't wish on the Cup," Crosby says impatiently. "Not the year after you win it. It can do - stuff. Like, make stuff happen. With magic, I guess." He's talking about magic and he sounds exactly like he does in his pressers. It's unreal.
"How would you know?" Patrick asks him.
"How do you think I fucking know? I made a wish, okay? And then Mario told me why you don't do that. The Cup listens to hockey players. And it can do stuff. And sometimes it does."
"Great," Johnny says. "So I wished for a legacy, and Patrick wished for us to play together, and - and that got us Stanley?"
"He'll probably be really good at hockey," Crosby offers, like that's the important thing here.
"Jesus fuck," Patrick says. "I. Seriously?" He can't even process this. How the fuck do you get a baby from wishing on the Stanley Cup? Wait. Wait. There's a more important question to ask here. "So, if we'd wished to win it again -" he starts.
Crosby actually interrupts. "Mario tried that. He ended up having to retire and winning it as an owner. It - interprets. I mean. It's not exactly clear-cut. You don't get exactly what you pictured." He sounds pained.
"You know what, not even going to ask what you wished for, it's probably seriously boring," Patrick says.
"Have fun with your magical Cup baby," Crosby says, and hangs up.
Johnny and Patrick turn in unison and stare back at the bedroom door. Where their magical Cup baby is sleeping.
"Magical Cup baby," Patrick repeats. "We have a magical Cup baby. What the fuck?"
Johnny doesn't say anything. When Patrick turns to look at him, he's looking thoughtful, studying Patrick.
"I bet I know what you really wished for," Johnny says.
"Fuck you, that is what I wished for," Patrick tells him. And it is. Close enough, anyway.
"I'll get it out of you eventually, you know," Johnny says, supremely and irritatingly confident.
"No, you fucking won't."
Johnny smiles a little. "Time," he says smugly, "is on my side. Sooner or later you'll weaken, and I'll be right there, ready to exploit it." He nods sagely.
After that, Patrick has no choice but to push Johnny down and kiss him until he can't make sentences anymore.
"On behalf of Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins proudly select, from Shattuck-St. Mary's, Stanley Kane-Toews."
The stadium roars in response. Stanley stands up, wraps his arms around Patrick, and says, "Thanks, Dad. Couldn't have done it without you." Patrick hugs him back, of course, since this is the first time in like four years he's been willing to hug either of his fathers in public, and, fuck. Stanley's so much fucking taller than Patrick. It always throws him. It's like a part of him expects Stanley to still be the tiny baby asleep on his chest. Or, more realistically, screaming in his arms. But now Stanley is as tall as Johnny, and he's got Johnny's work ethic but Patrick's eyes and hands. Most of the time, Patrick can't believe he and Johnny combined to make someone this amazing. (The rest of the time he wants to punch a wall. He never has any trouble believing Stanley came from him and Johnny then.)
"Love you, monster," Patrick says, and legit feels his eyes tearing up, which fucking sucks. It isn't like the cameras are going to be anywhere else right now.
Stanley turns to Johnny next, for another hug, and Patrick can't hear what he says over the crowd.
Finally, Stanley turns to hug Evie, lifting her up off the ground while she squeaks indignantly. Patrick lets it happen; Evie's 10 now, and she deserves to be treated with more dignity where other people can see, but this. Well. She'll remember this day forever, just like she'll probably remember her own eventual draft day. Evie whoops loud enough for everyone in the place to hear and throws her arms in the air like she's won something, and Stanley puts her down, laughing a little.
Moments like that make Patrick wish they'd managed to win the Cup a third time. But then he remembers incidents like the Great Indoor-Outdoor Three Phase Skating Championships and is blasphemously grateful they only have two.
Johnny takes Stanley's jacket and Stanley walks confidently up to the stage. As soon as he's gone far enough that the cameras are probably off them, Johnny whispers, "Knew he'd go first."
"Me too, asshole," Patrick hisses back. "I just told you it was bad luck to say that."
Johnny shrugs. "Worked out okay."
"Yeah, no thanks to your stupid face," Patrick says.
"Oh my god, shut up," Evie says. "He's up there now!"
Stanley is. He's shaking Lemieux's hand. He moves on to Crosby next. Crosby shakes his hand and says something to him, then claps him on the shoulder, and at that moment, he looks into the audience and finds Patrick and Johnny.
Crosby doesn't say anything, but he doesn't have to. The fucker is smiling at them, and Patrick can see him thinking, got him.
"We got him first," Patrick mutters under his breath. And then he says it, has to say it, just loud enough for Johnny to hear. "Thanks, Lord Stanley."