Sorry it's been awhile! Also, everyone should check out Penslove25's new story "Use Somebody." It's really cute so far and a good read if you need something new! Link: http://usesomebodymax.blogspot.com/ She's a really good writer and deserves to have more followers!
It made no sense as we walked toward room 510 in the Cardio unit of Allegheny Hospital. Only hours before, everything had been perfect. Geno and I had had fantastic makeup sex and his parents had been off having a little day to themselves in Pittsburgh.
So how had everything suddenly gotten so fucked up?
Geno was silent as he guided me towards the room. Though he led me with his arm wrapped tightly around my waist, it felt as if I was the one propping him up and helping him to keep going.
Outside of the room, I spotted Sergei and his wife whom I had never met. Sergei had never really seemed to like me so Geno and I had never hung out with them before as a couple. But I knew that Geno was extremely close to the Gonchar’s and their children so it wasn’t a surprise to see both of them waiting to hear news about Geno’s Dad.
All three of them began speaking quickly in Russian to each other, presumably about his Dad’s condition so I took the opportunity to peek inside the room. I expected to see Mr. Malkin hooked up to tubes but the bed was empty.
“Where’s your Dad at?” I asked Geno as he came to stand behind me.
“They move to surgery. Gonch translate what procedure is to me and Mama.” As he explained to me what he knew, he kept one hand on my waist and another at the base of my neck giving me an impromptu massage even though he was the one dealing with incredible amounts of stress.
I realized how hard it must be for him and his Mom trying to understand everything that the doctors were doing in a language that they both weren’t 100 percent familiar with.
“When will he be out of surgery?”
He sighed, looking very much like a lost boy and his fingers stilled on my neck. “Don’t know.”
I was at a complete loss of what to do. It seemed that there was nothing left to do but wait and pray for him and his family. On the other hand, I knew that there was a lot I could do to make sure that this remained a private, family matter. Though Pittsburgh’s news and fascination with celebrity was nowhere near the level of New York’s or other major cities, it would still be terrible if word of Mr. Malkin’s condition got out to a news source. The family didn’t need that right now and if it was something small that I could do to help, then I wanted to do it.
There were also a dozen other small details that needed to be taken care of. What insurance plan was Mr. Malkin under? He was probably admitted through the ER which meant that they might not have gotten to asking for personal and insurance information yet. It seemed like everything had happened so suddenly that I wasn’t even sure if Geno or his Mom had called Geno’s brother back in Russia yet. I also needed to cancel the Malkins’ plane tickets for Tuesday when they originally planned to return home for a few weeks. They definitely weren’t going to be flying home now.
I leaned up and kissed him softly on the mouth, drawing him out of the haze he had been standing in. “Where’s your Mom at?”
“In waiting room” he answered, looking back down the hall to the waiting room we had passed earlier.
"You go sit with her. I'm going to make a few phone calls."
He frowned at the word phonecalls. "It's not for business" I smiled slightly, taking his cold hand in mine. "I'm going to get your Dad's insurance information together and cancel your parents' flights back to Russia. Can you let me take care of all the details for you?"
He nodded, pulling me close to him again and mumbling a gruff 'thank you' in my ear. He let me go and turned to walk towards where his mother was waiting. I watched him hesitate briefly before turning back to me.
"You stay right?" I nodded and he seemed relieved, as if I would just leave the hospital on a whim. It would have upset me if he hadn't let out a long breath and added, "I need you to stay."
His simple request did me in and I nodded smiling at him slightly. "I won't leave unless you do." It was enough to soothe him and he went to wait with his mother while I made my phone calls.
By 9pm, a doctor finally appeared and gave us all an update on Mr. Malkin's condition. It wasn't good but for the moment, he was stable and resting in the ICU. While Mrs. Malkin jumped at the opportunity to go see him first, Geno and I waited silently. The Gonchar's had left 10 minutes before the Doctor had given us an update so that they could get home to their kids.
"Are you okay?" I asked him, thankful for the chance to just be alone with him. He nodded but didn't say anything, just continued to hold my hand. The stress of the day had made him more quiet than usual and it was getting progressively harder to draw any type of response from him.
Whereas Geno was dealing with the day's stress and worry by sitting statue still, I was full of nervous energy and the internal need to take action and help.
Luckily, my phone began to buzz in my pocket and I saw that it was my contact with the Trib-Review, Rob Rossi. Due to Rob's status in the locker room and his relationship with the Pens, I knew that if I could get him to keep quiet about Mr. Malkin, then it would remain quiet in Pittsburgh. The man knew everyone and had a lot of weight amongst sports writers in the Burgh. After talking for 10 minutes, he assured me that he would help keep the issue quiet until the Pens organization released anything. I knew that this would only buy us 2 or 3 days max because Geno would need to request at least 1 game off this week and it would only be a matter of time before someone in the hospital really noticed him and said something about it. As far as gossipy cities went, Pittsburgh was definitely up there in the top 10. The last thing we needed right now were a bunch of hockey-loving old biddies to start yakking.
Since it looked like Mrs. Malkin was going to be awhile yet, I grabbed Geno's hand as he spaced out and tried to get him to stand up.
"Come on," I said still tugging him upright. He was dead weight and not making any effort to help me out. "We're going for a quick walk. You haven't been off the floor all day and you need fresh air."
He gave me a blank look and I resorted to pleading. "Come on, please?"
Thankfully, he lumbered to his feet and let me lead him out of the waiting room and to the elevators. It sounded stupid but what we both needed right now was hot chocolate and some cold, fresh air. The hot chocolate was to make him feel better and put some sugary goodness in his stomach and the cold air was to make him feel human again. He was looking a little hagard and it worried me to see him like this. Normally it was the other way around and he was trying to make me feel better about something. This time the roles were reversed and I felt like I was swimming upstream to try to do a good job at distracting him and taking care of him.
The elevator dinged signalling its arrival and it was blissfully empty now that the visiting hours were over on most floors. As soon as the doors shut, I leaned back against the elevator wall and sighed, thinking about how I should make sure he wears a hat again tomorrow. I didn't try to speak knowing he wouldn't have a lot to say right now and that his mind was already in a million different places. He just stayed silent and held my hand, his thumb rubbing over the back of my palm every once in awhile.
The hospital's cafe was already closed for the night but we walked until we found the cafeteria, mostly inhabited by doctor's and nurses trying to grab a late night meal or their only meal for the day. I bought us two hot chocolates and made him sit down to people watch for awhile rather than returning to the ICU right away.
"I'm really sorry that I didn't answer my phone when you called." Hours later and I felt horrible that I hadn't just answered when he needed me. "I thought it was work and I kept ignoring it because I was grocery shopping."
"It's okay" he answered smiling slightly. I thought that he would slip back into silence but he surprised me by beginning to talk more.
"What were you doing on phone?" He asked popping the top off of his drink and blowing on it.
"I made sure that the hospital had all of the insurance information they needed and I made a few calls to my media connections to make sure this didn't leak until you were ready."
He nodded and I sipped my hot chocolate hoping that for once, I hadn't overstepped my boundaries by trying to be useful and take care of everything for him. "Thanks" he said simply squeezing my hand once before leaning back in his chair and stretching out his neck and back. I heard his joints popping and I winced knowing it was the result of sitting in a hospital all afternoon and night. "What should I do about game tomorrow?"
I blinked, unwittingly surprised that he was letting me take the reigns. "Well you need to call your Coach and let your agent know." Sometime, in the course of knowing Geno, I had acquired his agent's direct cell number as well as Dan Bylsma's. "Here, you can talk to your agent first" I said hitting the dial button and handing him the phone. He had finished his hot chocolate already so I picked it up and walked it to the trashcan just to busy myself. When I returned, Geno grabbed my hand and sat me down next to him rather than in the seat across from him. Keeping one hand in mine, he held me in place firmly while he spoke in russian to his agent. After a few minutes, he hung up and flipped through my contacts to find Dan Bylsma, surprising me with his one-handed dexterity.
He talked to Dan longer and now that I was being forced to sit still, all of the stress and exhaustion from the day caught up with me. He wasn't really paying attention, just talking to his coach, so I laid my head down on his shoulder without feeling guilty. Without realizing it, my mind began to drift off, lulled into a state of complete relaxation by his voice.
Soon enough, I was gently shaken awake by Geno who was now smiling at me. "Go home" he ordered finishing off my drink and pulling us both to our feet.
"What? No!" I protested, unwilling to leave until he did- just like I promised earlier.
"I want to see your Dad too" I told him, trying to keep up with his long strides. "Do you mind?" I asked. Maybe the ICU only let family members in at this time of the night and he wanted alone time with his Mom and Dad.
He shrugged and we stepped into the elevator together. His response wasn't very convincing and the doors closed leaving us alone and in silence. The doors dinged again bringing us back to Mr. Malkin's floor and Geno took my hand once again, leading me to the waiting room. We saw that his Mom wasn't waiting here and he commented, "she must be in there."
I nodded thinking he was going to leave me to wait since I wasn't family but instead he pulled me along with him.
"Sir, excuse me!" The on-duty Nurse Ratched stopped both of us before we could make it fully through the ICU doors.
"Can I have your names please?" she asked waving us both over to the desk.
Geno gave his name first and the nurse nodded once she put two and two together. Then she turned her shrewd eyes on me. "And who are you?"
Before I could say who I was, Geno interjected. "Fiance."
My mouth dropped in shock and I quickly closed it for fear of blowing our cover. I nodded instead and tried to conceal my left hand so she didn't see that I wasn't wearing an engagement ring. "You can go back then. Just make it quick, it's too late for your father to be having visitors."
Behind the closed doors of the ICU, Geno grinned, his chuckle ending on a gasp as I elbowed him hard in the ribs.
"Lets go see your Dad."