Travis never expected All-Star Weekend to be the catalyst for him getting the nerve up to tell Patty how he felt. And he definitely wasn’t expecting Michelle Marner to be part of the reason why.
“You’re coming with us.” Mitchie grabbed his arm and started pulling him toward the elevator, “You need to change, come on.”
“Where are we going?” TK asked, experienced enough with Mitchie to know that fighting her was useless. No one told her no, mostly because no one wanted to see her sad face and no one wanted to deal with the fallout of her making the sad face at McDavid.
“I don’t know yet,” Mitchie grinned, “Chucky is sending me details. But you still need to change.”
“Fine,” TK shrugged, he looked over at her when the doors to the elevator slid closed, “You okay?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Mitchie directed a blinding smile at him, one that TK definitely saw through.
“You don’t always have to be sunshine and daisies,” he muttered.
“It’s just… guys are sometimes jackasses, you know?” Mitchie responded, her usual smile slipping firmly back into place when the elevator doors opened on their floor.
Travis watched her walk away, eyebrows scrunching in confusion before shaking his head and heading to his room, smiling down at the text from Patty.
He got changed - deciding he couldn’t go wrong with jeans and polo - and contemplated texting Mitchie for her room number but decided against it. If there was something going on with her, she had Connor McDavid here in addition to two of her own teammates and Matthew Tkachuk. She would be fine.
He couldn’t help grinning as he heard knocking on the door, because Mitchie Marner was still ridiculous and of course she hadn’t learned how to knock like a normal human - not that he had any room to talk.
“Good to know I won’t be underdressed,” he laughed, looking at her in her t-shirt and ripped jeans.
“Chucky picked a place that’s apparently close to the Arena. A bunch of the other players are gonna be there, too.” she replied, “You get your coat, I’m gonna get Connor.”
Travis laughed and shook his head, but did as she asked. If G and Patty had taught him anything, it was that the women in the League were to be obeyed.
He grabbed his coat and made sure he had his wallet and room key, exiting the room to see her pulling McDavid out of his room, Draisitl leaning against the wall on the other side of the hallway and laughing as Connor let her - clearly Draisitl’s first real experience with the full power Michelle Marner’s pout had over McDavid.
“The Uber’s on its way,” Mitchie grinned.
“Are we all gonna fit?” Connor asked.
“It’s just the four of us.” Mitchie nodded.
“Not Matthews and Andersen?”
“Auston’s a big boy, he can get there on his own.” Mitchie’s tone didn’t leave any room for argument, “Freddie’s waiting on him. After all, Auston wants to make sure he looks good, planning to hook-up at least once tonight.”
“Seriously!?” Connor’s eyes flashed dangerously and Travis definitely knew he was missing something.
“Let it be, Connor.” Mitchie led the way to the elevator, “No good will come from you doing anything. It’s not like he’s my boyfriend. He’s allowed to see other people.”
“If he’s allowed to, then you’re allowed to.” Connor replied, swallowing down his anger to throw his arm around her shoulders.
“Please, can we drop this?”
And Mitchie was making the sad face again. And Connor folded pretty easily and he asked her about how her brother was doing.
‘Some things never change,’ Travis thought to himself.
They lost Mitchie as soon as she entered the bar. Well, not lost. She took off running toward a table in the back and hugged the girl standing between the Tkachuk boys.
“You guys know Robbi Thomas, right?” Mitchie beamed as they joined them, “Oh, and, obviously, Matthew and Brady Tkachuk. But Robbi was my Rookie her first year on the Knights.”
“As I recall -” Matthew tried to amend Mitchie’s statement only for Mitchie to throw her hand over his mouth.
“She couldn’t have been YOUR Rookie because you were too head over feet for her.” Mitchie fixed him with a look before turning to the others, “It was cute but definitely embarrassing for him. He would do, literally, anything to get her so much as smile.”
“Still does,” Brady mumbled, hissing as Matthew punched his arm.
“That’s sweet,” Mitchie’s smile got that sad little twinge to it that Connor and Matthew immediately caught onto.
“Matthew,” Robbi turned to her boyfriend, “can you go get me a drink? I’m gonna go introduce Mitchie to O’Ry and Pear.”
And then Robbi was pulling Mitchie off in a direction that was definitely not toward where O’Reilly and Perron were standing with Pietrangelo, Oshie, McKinnon, and Josi.
“I learned a long time ago not to ask questions,” Matthew muttered to himself before heading to the bar to do as Robbi asked him to.
Brady huffed a laugh out as he shook his head, “He would walk off a cliff if she asked him to.”
Travis laughed, knowing he would do pretty much the same things for Patty and he wasn’t even dating her. Tkachuk the Older and Robbi Thomas had been together forever. Travis honestly didn’t know how Matthew played against her.
The girls returned right before Matthew, who set a beer bottle in front of Robbi and happily accepted a kiss as a thank you.
Mitchie looked less on edge. And Connor definitely noticed and moved closer to her, sliding an arm around her waist. She beamed up at him and leaned more into his side.
“Ma petite etoile!” Perron beamed, walking over with Oshie and Pietrangelo.
“Pear,” Robbi giggled, accepting her teammate’s hug and laughing as he ruffled the hair of both Tkachuks.
“Walt know you’re here?” Petro asked, apparently unable to fully put away the Responsible Captain mode completely if the look he was giving her was anything to go by.
“Yes,” Robbi nodded, “and he even suspended curfew.”
“Wow,” Petro laughed, “I’ll make sure you get home.”
“She can crash at the hotel if she needs to,” Matthew grinned at the Blues captain, hoping he saw the innocent little kid he knew and not the person dating the Blues up-and-coming star center.
“No,” Petro fixed Matthew with a look, “she really can’t. There’s no way Walt would have okayed that.”
Robbi giggled and kissed Matthew’s cheek as he pouted.
“Frenchie wanted me to meet his former Rookie,” Oshie grinned at Robbi, “He and Petro are very proud of you.”
“Don’t let Jaden hear that he called me his Rookie,” Robbi giggled, “she’d kill him.”
Oshie laughed at that, “I don’t doubt she would.”
“You know,” Robbi smirked over at Pear, “she’s in Chicago right now. Apparently she and Toews are having a sex-cation on their over-lapping Bye Week days.”
“Why?!” Pear groaned, “I have done nothing to you to deserve that relationship being brought up.”
“I blame Osh,” Petro glared playfully, “He’s the one who put in a good word about Toews to her.”
“They’re cute.” O’Ry shrugged, laughing as Pear glared dramatically at him and started muttering in French under his breath.
“That’s my Rookie you’re talking about,” Pear glared.
“Wasn’t Jaden Steener’s Rookie?” Robbi’s face scrunched up in confusion.
“Is this your thing now?” Oshie laughed, “Claiming other people’s Rookies as your own? Don’t you have a Rookie?”
“I had Sammy,” Pear waved off, “but that’s because he’s a fellow Frenchie.”
“And because he’s almost exactly like you were at his age,” Petro rolled his eyes, he looked over at Robbi and said, “Find me when you’re ready to leave.”
And she giggled and rolled her eyes but nodded.
“I can’t believe he doesn’t trust me….” Matthew shook his head, his smile wide.
“To be fair, it’s not a ‘you’ thing.” Robbi replied.
“I’m going to go get a drink,” Connor pulled his arm from around Mitchie, looking at her as he asked, “Do you want anything?”
Mitchie nodded and Connor headed to the bar, ignoring Leon - who had asked why he didn’t get an offer.
“You okay, Mitchie?” Matthew asked, turning to face Mitchie who looked like she just wanted Connor to be back next to her.
“I’m always okay, Chucky,” she gave him a forced smile and TK wanted it gone. He was used to seeing it on G’s face, Patty was starting to perfect it, but he had never seen it look as out of place as it looked on Mitchie’s face.
“Drop it, Matty,” Robbi’s words had just a slight edge to them - Travis recognized it because G’s got that same way when she wasn’t fine and Coots or Jake wouldn’t drop it. Or when she knew what was wrong with Patty and didn’t think it was anyone else’s business.
And Matthew apparently knew it as well because he did as he was told, tucking his face against Robbi’s head.
TK looked over at Brady to find him smiling fondly at them. And when he looked back over at Mitchie, she had a small, sad smile on her face.
“You two are happy, right?” Mitchie asked, “Like, despite the distance, you’re still good?”
“Yeah,” Matthew replied, “Like, yeah, the distance sucks. But I’d have distance if I were dating a non-hockey player. I mean, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. We have fights. But, at the end of the day, Robbi is still the first person I want to talk to when I wake up and the last person I want to talk to before I go to bed.”
“Gross…” Brady shook his head, even if he had a fond smile on his face.
“Sometimes, you have to go for what makes you happy, rather than what’s easy-but painful,” Robbi ignored Brady, and fixed Mitchie with a meaningful look.
Mitchie gave her a sad look before saying, “Everyone has different opinions on what would make me happy.”
“Do you remember what you told me on my first day of Knights’ training camp?” Robbi leaned forward, “You told me that it’s my job to tell everyone who I am. To write my own story, my own narrative. Because the media will write the narrative they want otherwise. You have NEVER, in all the years I have known you and looked up to you, let anyone else tell you what you want, to tell you what is best for you. Don’t start now. Especially not when the person everyone is pushing you toward doesn’t respect you.”
“He respects me -”
“As a person and as a friend, sure. But he doesn’t respect you like a girlfriend. Or else he would’ve come over here first before going over there,” Robbi flicked her eyes over to where Auston Matthews was at a table on the far side of the bar, chatting up a table of women who all looked like carbon copies of each other. Robbi obviously knew them based on the look on her face.
“Choose yourself for once,” Robbi added before taking a pull of her beer and saying, “Tell me about Zeus. He’s adorable.”
And Mitchie obliged, telling them about the latest trip to the dog park and trying to hide her relief when Connor got back - like she needed Connor there to be her armor. And that...that’s not Michelle Marner. And that worried Travis. And he has limited experience, but he knew what Patty wass feeling like when she needed to use him as her armor and he’s seen the way Sean and Jake - and Wayne - reacted whenever G needs one of them to be her armor (this is even more rare than Patty).
And McDavid seemed to know that as well because he immediately wrapped an arm around her waist and moved so that she was pressed totally against his side, also effectively blocking Matthews from her line of direct sight.
“Hey, Mitchie,” Andersen greeted, walking over to the table, “What’s with the face?”
“I’m fine, Freddie,” Mitch plasters on that fake smile and TK barely resisted the urge to wince.
“Auston will be over in a minute.” Freddie gave her a smile.
“Yeah, I’m sure he will. Maybe after he buys those girls their next round.” Mitchie downed the rest of the vodka soda Connor had brought back over for her.
“Mitchie, you know it doesn’t mean anything,” and Freddie’s tone made it sound like this was a common statement.
“Right. I know.” Mitchie replied, “I mean, he still chooses me half the time. I should be content with that.”
“I’m fine, Freddie. If Auston wants to hook up with someone, he can. After all, he and I aren’t exclusive. He’s made that very clear all the times he’s picked someone up. Though, God forbid I try.”
And TK really wanted to punch Matthews, because no one had any right to make Mitchie sound that brittle. Like she might break if pushed hard enough. And that was something Travis never wanted to see. Because Mitchie was always the bright, positive one in the room and this Mitchie was not the Mitchie he had known all these years. And he wondered what had happened to that girl. Because she was just under the surface, he had caught glimpses of her a couple times, but she was not okay.
“You two have a big anniversary coming up, right?” Mitchie turned her attention back to Matthew and Robbi, “Any plans for that?”
“After the season next year, yeah,” Robbi nodded, taking the segway for what it clearly was, “We were going to try to do it after this season but when we actually started looking into what we wanted to do, we realized it would take more time to plan.”
“And what’s this grand plan?”
“Gonna go to Europe for a month,” Matthew replied, “We’ve been planning out the exact route, but we know the cities we want to hit, know we’re flying into Paris and then flying out of either Dublin or London.”
“Mom and Dad are already giving Matthew the ‘You-Need-To-Make-Sure-You’re-Careful’ and ‘It’s-Too-Soon-In-Her-Career-For-Robbi-To-Have-Kids’ talks.” Brady smirked, laughing as Robbi went fully red and then hissed when she elbowed him - hard - in the side and sent him a dazzling smile in return.
“That sounds amazing!” Mitchie gushed.
“It’ll be a nice break between the end of the season and when training really starts.” Matty replied.
“Hey,” Auston greeted walking over.
“Matts!” Matthew grinned, hugging the man.
“Hey, Chucky,” Auston smiled, looking at Robbi he nodded a greeting, “Future Mrs. Chucky.”
Robbi put on a fake grin, with a hint of mean before pushing away from the table, “I’m going to go find Petro.”
“But -” Matthew whined.
“Dunner and Sammy got back today. They texted me earlier to come over. I’m gonna text your dad and let him know that I’m staying at theirs tonight.”
“You could tell him that and then stay with me at the hotel instead.”
“We would never get away with that.”
“It would be worth it.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Robbi smiled softly and kissed him sweetly.
She moved over to Mitchie, who hugged her tightly, the two girls whispering to each other as they hugged, before Robbi pulled away and headed toward the back of the bar where Petro was supervising the darts game Perron and Oshie were competing against each other in.
“I don’t think your girlfriend likes me,” Auston directed at Matthew as he leant against the table next to Freddie.
“She doesn’t know you well enough to not like you,” Matthew replied, “but she also doesn’t know you well enough to like you, so…”
“Maybe next time the Blues are in Toronto, I can go to dinner with her and Mitchie. I mean, you’re going to marry her someday.”
“I don’t know,” Mitchie responded, “she usually has family at the games. And then we do spa nights. It’s our routine. So, unless you want me to paint your nails…”
“You do spa nights?”
“Yes. Why is that so hard to believe?”
“Don’t answer that.” Freddie cut off Auston’s reply, giving him a look.
“So, Teeks, you make your move with Nolan yet?” Mitchie asked, leaning further into Connor’s side, “She hasn’t mentioned anything but she’s also kind of emotionally clueless so you could have been trying to date her for, like, a month and she might still be clueless to it. But G hasn’t mentioned anything either.”
“You talk to G and Patty?” he asked, a little bewildered.
“The girls in the league have a group chat,” Mitchie shrugged.
“Patty and I are something,” Travis found himself responding, “but we haven’t really talked about what we are, what we want to be.”
“You should,” Mitchie replied, “you’ll be better for it. I can’t picture it not working out between you. Patty really likes you.”
“She’s talked to Robbi about you,” Matthew interjected, “they were in the same draft class, the only girls so…”
“Patty’s passed along some pretty great stories about you from Robbi, so…” Travis huffed out a laugh and Matthew groaned.
“Just… don’t wait too much longer, okay?” Mitchie put her hand over his on the table, “Because it’s kind of torture to be on the other end of that.”
And Travis nodded.
“Michelle Marner!” Jack Eichel exclaimed, walking over with Barzy, “Just as radiant as ever!”
“Eichel,” Mitchie smiled, “still as big of a flirt as ever.”
“Well, you won’t let me flirt with you during games, so I have to take my chances where I can.”
She hugged him and then Barzy before fitting herself back into Connor’s side. And Travis rolled his eyes at the way Jack’s eyes flashed because the man really should have learned by now that Mitchie would always choose Connor over almost everyone else.
“So, you got a boyfriend you’re hiding from the world?” Barzy asked with a grin.
And Auston scoffed in response and Mitchie’s eyes narrowed as she asked, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Mitchie, drop it,” Freddie tried to interject and Travis felt himself tense up on Mitchie’s behalf.
“Just, you know, you don’t have time for a guy in your life.” Auston shrugged.
“I don’t have time for a guy in my life but you have time to pick up several women in your spare time?” Mitchie replied, lifting an eyebrow, “That makes no sense.”
“Come one, Marns, you know what I’m talking about. We’ve had this conversation.”
“No, you mansplained my own feelings to me and then left before I could respond,” Mitchie’s eyes narrowed, “And then you got all pissed off when I tried to pick up a guy the next night out.”
“It’s whatever,” she rolled her eyes, pushing away from the table and heading to the bar.
“Nice,” Connor glared at Auston, following her.
And Travis watched them talk for a minute before Mitchie headed over to where Robby still stood with her Captain and Connor came over to grab their coats.
“Mitchie and I are heading back to the hotel. We promised Dyls we’d FaceTime tonight.” Connor told the table. Turning to Leon he asked, “You wanna ride back with us?”
Leon looked at him for a minute before saying, “I’ll catch a Lyft a little later.”
Connor nodded and held Mitchie’s coat out to her.
“Apparently, the Dart War between Perron and Oshie has been raging since 2007.” Mitchie laughed, thanking Connor for holding her coat out.
“Mind if I catch a ride back with you?” Travis asked, “I need to call Pats before it gets too late.”
“Sure!” Mitchie replied, eyes shining like she knew exactly why Travis was calling Nolan.
When they got back to their floor, Mitchie hugged Travis before going into Connor’s room and Travis continued down the hall to his own room.
Once he was settled, he sat on the edge of the bed, staring at Nolan’s contact - Patty Babe, from Day freaking One - before hitting FaceTime.
“Hey, Teeks,” she grinned answering the call.
And she looked...she looked comfy, like she was getting ready for bed. Her hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun, a couple of strands hanging in her face, and a hoodie - a hoodie that had the number 11 over her heart.
“Hey,” he breathed out, just taking her in.
“What’s up?” she asked, “Why does your voice sound weird?”
“Just… I miss you.”
“Okay, weirdo,” she rolled her eyes but her smile was real, and it was the small one that she only ever directed at him.
“Also… we need… I love you, Patty,” Travis managed to get, “And I’m so sorry if you felt like I was leading you on or if me not saying it was hurting you but I love you and I want to be with you.”
And he watched Patty’s face soften completely and a grin spread across her face, “I… I love you, too, Trav.”
“Let me wine and dine you when I get back to Philly.”
“Okay,” Nolan blushed, biting her lip to keep her from smiling too wide.
And Travis laid back on the bed, hold the phone above his face as they filled each other in on everything they had missed.
“So… am I allowed to ask what brought this one?” Nolan asked eventually.
“Just… I went to get drinks with Mitchie and a couple other players and -”
“You caught onto the drama between her and Matthews?”
“Yeah…. Anyway, I starting thinking about if I was hurting you the way Matthews is hurting Mitchie and, like, the thought of that was making me mad at myself and I just needed to tell you how I felt.”
“Teeks, you are nowhere near as bad as Matthews. Mitchie… she’s trying to move on and he doesn’t want her to. You? You’re respectful and you care about my happiness. If you were anywhere near as bad as him, you wouldn’t have called me.”
“I wish you were here,” Travis whispered, part of him meaning to just say it to himself but the other part of him wanted her to hear him say it.
“I’ll see you in a couple days,” Nolan smiled softly.
“Love you, Patty.”
“Love you, too, Teeks.”
And Travis just stared at her on the screen for a little while longer before she said, “Bye, weirdo” and hung up.
And Travis laughed.