There’s something not quite right about being on the ice without Chandler during practice or warmups. Knowing that when he plays tonight, Chandler won’t be in the building or even watching at home. It feels like Dustin’s off balance. He keeps turning to chirp Chandler or to seek praise for a drill well done.
But Chandler’s not there. Concussions suck.
Chandler hasn’t left the house – has barely left their bed – in the week and a half since his hard head had done the unthinkable and betrayed him. He can’t handle lights or noise, and their conversations are relegated to low whispers of Dustin begging Chandler to eat, shower, and take his meds. When Chandler’s not sleeping, he’s a ball of misery. Dustin feels bad, really he does, but he’s at wits end. He’s doing everything he can, when he can, and it’s not enough.
Marc whacks him with his stick as Dustin skates by the goal. “Hey, come over and hang out after practice, yeah?”
Dustin skates back around and shakes his head, the straps of his helmet bouncing off his neck. He wants to, but…. “I can’t.” Someone needs to check on Chandler and make sure he’s alive.
“You can,” says Marc, stubborn to his core. “Henrik or one of the other guys can go keep Chandler company.” He pokes Dustin. “You look like shit. Consider this your intervention.”
“I don’t need an intervention.” He needs Chandler to magically become healthy overnight.
Chris skates up then, spraying ice over the two of them like the obnoxious otter he is. “Someone said intervention. We talking about turning that frown upside down, buttercup?” He slaps the palm of his glove to Dustin’s helmet and shakes him.
Dustin flails a little, trying to get away when Chris follows. He scrunches up his nose, warmed by their actions but not wanting to show it. He can’t encourage their being nosy, interfering shifters. He’d never have peace again. “I’m fine.”
“That’s something someone who wasn’t fine would say,” says Marc. “If you don’t want to consider that this is for you, look at it as us saying we miss you. Come give us attention.” He tries to hug Dustin, his catching glove glancing off Dustin’s shoulder and clipping the side of his head.
“You guys are awful,” says Dustin, really meaning that they’re the best in the world. “I’ll come over so you’ll shut up.”
Chris slaps his back. “Sweet. We’ll swim and barbecue. Steaks for all.” He frowns. “Unless you want fish. Today is about you. And pregame naps! We’ll do a cuddle pile.”
Dustin is definitely not choking up thinking about how lucky he is to have these two guys in his life. His eyes are watering cause he’s tired. That’s all. He’s been sleeping in a separate room from Chandler so he doesn’t disturb him, and it’s led to tossing and turning and not much sleeping.
He blinks quickly, trying to clear his vision and maintain his dignity. “Steak’s good.” His voice doesn’t crack. Not at all.