Status: completed.

Baby, It's You & No One Else

he's going to be alright

I woke up on Friday morning to an empty bed, despite the fact that it had most definitely been occupied when I had gone to sleep the night before. I sighed and roughly rubbed at my face, needing to wake up but also because I was incredibly stressed out. It seemed that the more Eric thought about not playing anymore, the more pissed off and agitated he got. It was putting a serious strain on me, so much so that I felt like I was walking on egg shells. I understood that he had a right to be upset about it but I didn't want to constantly edit my sentences for fear that he would fly off the handle.

I hauled myself out of bed, pulling on one of Eric's old high school sweatshirts, Decker adorning the back in white, bold letters. I opened my door and immediately winced at the bright, rising sun that flooded the house. I wished today was cloudy so it would match my mood, after all, today Eric was having surgery. I slowly made my way down the stairs, calling Eric's name softly. I never got a response, not that I really expected too, but eventually I found him in the living room, staring at the TV. He was obviously not paying attention to anything, zoned out as he started at the screen, watching SportsCenter. I sat down next to him, not bothering to touch him knowing he would just cringe and pull away if I tried.

I studied his face and then, upon hearing his name, I turned towards the TV and watched as they talked about the Gopher football team. It was clear nobody had faith in them with Eric out. Everyone knew he was the main weapon and that Adam was virtually nothing without him. He needed Eric for when he got in trouble, but who did he have now? I bit my lip and looked at Eric who shook his head, his lips pulled into a thin line.

"Baby, you shouldn't do this to yourself," I whispered, placing a hand on his arm.

I tried not to flinch as he pulled away roughly and hoisted himself off of the couch. Tears formed as I watched him crutch away to the kitchen where he dug around in the cupboard for something to eat. I stayed in the living room for a good half hour before I silently walked back upstairs. I sat on the edge of my bed, looking at the picture of Eric and I at the homecoming game our senior year in high school.

Our arms were wrapped tightly around each other, mine visible because Eric had me in his arms. I was decked out in full red and black Rocori gear from head to toe. Obviously I had his jersey on, displaying it proudly. His lips were pressed to my cheek as an obvious smile tightened his cheeks. I gave the camera a full grin, so obviously in love that I felt a pang in my chest, wishing I could hop into that picture and relive that moment.

I sighed again, something that had been happening a lot lately, and went through the motions of getting ready. It was almost time for Eric to head to the hospital and being the good girlfriend I was, I offered to take him. I discarded my sweatpants and pulled on a pair of jeans. I threw my hair up into a messy bun and replaced my earrings and necklace, a habit that I had done for years. I blinked my eyes as I descended the stairs, desperately trying to wake up. Eric was waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs, leaning against the door with a travel mug of coffee which he extended to me when I stepped off the last stair.

"Thanks," I mumbled, waiting for him to open the door. He didn't, just continued to stare at me as I sipped the hot liquid.

"I'm being an asshole. And I'm sorry about that but please bare with me. This is so hard, Riley. And it's killing me more than you even know." His eyebrows lowered in obvious pain over his brown eyes.

"I know, Eric. But just because you're having a hard time does not mean you get to take it all out on me. You know I love you and I'd put up with a lot of your shit but I can't keep walking on egg shells with you. You're like a volcano that goes off every other hour." I told him, wrapping one arm around his waist and squeezing him.

"I know. None of this is fair to you." He whispered, leaning his head against the door for a second. I watched him compose himself, wishing he would just let it all out so that he could start to feel better. But he was too strong for that.

"Let's go," I told him, running a hand over his cheek, covered with a weeks growth of stubble. I pressed my lips to his softly, content when he deflated under my touch.

He nodded and followed me out to the car. I walked to the passenger seat, opening the door of his truck and being there to help him up. Obviously, he declined but I still stood near him, ready to catch him if he needed me. I shut the door after he was situated and jogged around to the driver's seat.

The drive to the hospital was ,not surprisingly, quiet as we made our way across town. The radio filled the silence as best it could, distracting me from Eric's obvious distance. I stole glances at him whenever I could, making sure he was still okay. But each time all I could see was his reflection off the window, telling me he still had that grim look on his face. I pulled into the hospital parking lot, setting the car in park and then walking with Eric to where he needed to check in.

Eric was quickly taken away from me, getting prepped and meeting with his doctor along with the athletic trainer from the U. I was shown to a waiting room where I waited to be told I could go see him once more before he was to be sent into the operating room. The nurse with a perky smile came and got me an hour and three magazines later, telling me I could see him for a couple minutes. I thanked her when she showed me to Eric's room where he sat on the bed, staring at me.

I stood in the doorway, leaning against the door jam and looking in at him. "Hi," I murmured.

"Come here, please," He motioned for me. I did as I was told, standing next to the bed, only to get pulled on top of him. He placed a soft kiss against my hair as I laid on his chest, my head resting against his shoulder. He let loose a deep sigh and played with a piece of my hair, a distraction that he had picked up years ago.

"Do you want me to stay?" I asked him, not sure what his answer would be.

Yes," he mumbled, "I need to see you when I wake up. You're my support system."

I nodded that I understood and sighed loudly as the same nurse came in, telling me it was time for Eric to get taken away. I looked down at him, tears poking the backs of my eyes knowing this was the only option left. He needed this and he needed me. I held his hand, squeezing it tightly in mine before leaning down and placing a kiss against his forehead. I closed my eyes, keeping my lips pressed against his head as he squeezed my hand tighter in his grip.

"I can't wait to see you all loopy from your drugs," I giggled at him, actually getting him to smile at me slightly. I fake gasped, placing a shocked hand over my chest. "Oh my god. Did Eric Decker just smile?" I asked, incredulous.

"No, it was a flicker in the lights," he winked at me, puckering his lips for another kiss. "I need some loving from my woman."

"Of course you do," I rolled my eyes, giving him a couple more kisses before the nurse cleared her throat. I turned towards her, smiling apologetically and taking a step to the door. A tug on my arm stopped my approach though, and I turned back to Eric. He stared into my eyes, silently thanking me for being there for him.

"Promise you're going to be here when I wake up?" He whispered, sounding so much like a little boy that I almost ran to him and curled up into his body. I held my ground though and nodded, giving him a loving smile.

"I promise, baby."

"Good," He told me, finally letting go of my arm. I was able to make it to the door when his voice called out to me again. I turned around, raising an eyebrow as I locked eyes with him once more. "I love you, Riley." He told me, his gaze so intense it made me a little flustered.

"I love you too, Eric. You're gonna be okay." I assured him, before I walked down the hallway, with more confidence than I felt.

Eric's surgery was scheduled to last for an hour and a half which is why I wasn't very surprised when I fell asleep, uncomfortably slouched down in the waiting room chair. The nurse, who I now knew was named Ashley, woke me up, telling me Eric was out of surgery, but not yet awake. I shook the sleep from my body as I made my way to his room, yawning and stretching when I walked in. I smiled at his sleeping body, sort of happy that he was passed out and actually relaxed. I leaned over him, resting a hand on his chest as I kissed his cheek, before pulling up a chair and waiting for him to wake.

I passed the time watching some, boring daytime TV and checking every minute to see if he was stirring awake yet. As the minutes passed, I got more agitated, wanting him to flutter his brown eyes open and look at me. Eventually I flipped the TV off, opting to try and sleep a little bit more. My eyes slid shut easily, still tired from my many nights tossing and turning, worrying about Eric. I drifted in and out of sleep until Ashley came back into the room again and her perky voice called out, "oh look who's awake."

My eyes snapped open and I sat up, looking down at Eric who was squinting at me slightly. I smiled at him and placed a kiss against his lips, wrapping an arm around him for a hug. I let Ashley check his vitals before she bustled out of the room, leaving us alone.

"How long have you been up?" I asked, yawning slightly.

"Like 15 minutes," He mumbled, "you were talking in your sleep." He informed me, shifting around in the bed. That's when I noticed our hands were interlocked, something he must have done while I was asleep.

"Oh, and did I say anything interesting?" I asked, grinning at him.

"Yeah, that you want to sex me up." He boasted to which I rolled my eyes.

"Yeah, I'm sure that's what I said." I snorted.

"Believe what you want but I know what I heard," He told me.

"Yeah, okay, druggie," I poked his side, making him squirm a bit. "So are you going to tell me what I really said?"

He looked deep into my eyes and gave me a small smile, "just what you usually say. You mumbled my name a lot, telling me how much you love me." His eyes held a deep emotion in them as I blushed slightly.

"Do I do that a lot?" I whispered, cringing slightly.

"Yeah, and don't be embarrassed. It gets me through the tough nights." He gave me a crooked smile and placed a soft kiss on my lips. I sighed slightly, pulling his bottom lip into my mouth.

"BREAK IT UP!" A loud voice belonging to Adam Weber yelled from the doorway. We both broke apart like teenagers who were caught kissing on the couch and turned to Adam who stood with Katie and Blake, holding some balloons along with a card. I laughed as Blake held up the bouquet of tulips.

"Move," Blake mumbled, pushing Adam to the side and walking into the room. "These flowers smell bad, why would Kara have me give him these?" He grumbled, walking over and bumping fists with Eric before hugging me.

"Because she likes them and that's what she would give him if she were here," I pointed out, taking them from his hand and setting them on the nightstand.

"Whatever. They smell like shit," he concluded and I giggled, rolling my eyes towards the ceiling.

"How's the foot, bro?" Adam asked, doing the same hand bump thing.

"I'll tell you when I can feel it," he mumbled before turning to me and flashing me a pout. "Can I go home yet?" He asked me, his eye yearning for a yes.

"In a little bit," I assured him, "you have to wait for the doctor to come in and talk to you."

"What is there to talk about? He cut me open, fixed my arch, and now I have to do some physical therapy. Then get back on the grid iron with my boys and show 'em who's boss." He finished, flexing his muscles. I rolled my eyes SO BAD at him before giving the boys hollering with him a look of heir own.

"Oh, bitchy Riley's coming out!" Blake fake screamed.

"How about we focus on getting better, before we get all hyped up about the bowl game," I suggested, kissing Eric's cheek. It wasn't that I liked to be a downer, but the chances of him playing in the bowl game were pretty slim. He would have to push himself way beyond his limits and even though I wanted him to play again, I wasn't down for that.

"Alright, Alright. Get better, then kick ass." Adam said, sitting on the side of Eric's bed. "All the boy send their get well soon messages. And that Riley needs to give you some hardcore loving. Obviously you gotta get top though." Adam said the last part, looking at me with a smirk. I could tell he was trying to get a rise out of me so I just winked at him.

"Oh trust me, he'll be getting plenty of loving," I grinned as Katie giggled.

The boys stayed and chatted a bit longer until Eric's eyes slipped closed in the middle of a conversation. I could tell he was exhausted, so could the boys and Katie, so they all decided to head out. I walked out with them but not before waking Eric when the doctor came in. Technically I wasn't allowed to stay in the room with him anyway.

"So, he's doing okay," Katie pointed out as we stood in the elevator.

"Yeah, but he's still a little loopy from the drugs. I know when they ware off he's going to be a lot different." I sighed, running a hand through my hair.

"You just need to be there for him and tell it like it is. He's got teammates and friends who will sugar coat everything for him. But you and his family need to lay down the law. You know as well as I do that he probably won't play as a Gopher again." Adam mumbled, a grim look on his face.

"I know," I breathed out, biting my lip slightly. "But the stuff I have to tell him, he won't want to hear."

"Yeah, but he'll take it a lot better if it comes from you. I know it doesn't seem like it cause he's so moody but think about it. He loves you more than anything, and when the people we love tell us how it is, it's a lot easier to handle." Adam reassured me as we stepped out of the elevator.

"I guess. But thanks for coming guys. I know he appreciates it." I smiled and hugged each one of them, wrapping my arms around Katie and giving her an extra squeeze.

"Hang in there, baby," She whispered, "he's going to be alright." I nodded and let go, watching as they walked away, and hoping she was right.

For the second time in a week, I sat in my interpersonal communications class, bored out of my mind. Not only was I bored, but I was also utterly exhausted. This past week had been utter hell with all of Eric's mood swings and the fact that finals were already next week. I had been up studying and trying to tend to Eric, which was pretty difficult when nothing seemed to please him. I felt more like his bitch than his girlfriend. But last night I had snapped at him, completely flew off the handle before stomping out of his house without even looking back. He had decided to bitch at me about not wanting what I brought him to eat despite the fact that he told me he wanted Subway for dinner. Needless to say, I hadn't talked to him since.

My eyes started to drift shut again as my professor continued to lecture to the class. My laptop had long since gone to sleep and I was thinking about joining it until my phone buzzed against my leg, causing me to jump slightly. I rubbed my eye with one hand and grabbed my phone with the other. I wasn't really surprised when I saw it was from Eric. He'd had a long time to think about his actions, a whole 12 hours really, and was probably kicking himself.

Come to the stadium when you're done with class. I need you.

I read that text over and over again until class was over. All of a sudden, I wasn't tired anymore, more concerned over what was going on. I high tailed it out of class, basically sprinting across campus and through Dinkytown. I weaved my way though the countless other people, pushing myself to get there. I finally ran past Mariucci, a burst of joy running through me when I saw the huge stadium looming in front of my face. I slowed down to a walk, noticing the gates were open, despite the fact that the Gophers were currently practicing on the field. A security guard stood next to the gate and looked me up and down.

"Are you Riley Kennedy?" He asked, smacking his gum in an obnoxious way.

"Yeah," I wheezed, still out of breath.

"Mr. Decker is to the right and on the 50th yard line in the stands." He pointed for me, not that I needed his help. I had an Eric sensor and I could have told him where Eric was sitting. I thanked the man before briskly walking to the right and over a couple sections of seats. I climbed the stairs slowly, taking my time to reach Eric. I came to row 10, and made my way down it, standing next to a seat that had a blanket in it.

I looked down at him, watching as he stared onto the field, surveying practice from his now regular seat off-field. I didn't say anything as I grabbed the blanket, wrapping it around me to get some instillation from the cool air. Eric had on a thick jacket and sweatpants, along with a hat on his head and a pair of gloves. I curled up in the seat and looked onto the field just like he did.

I watched the team, immediately noticing the obvious absence of Eric. He seemed to light the fire under the team, pushing all of the players to a point where all they want to do is win and play hard. I watched Adam throw to various receivers, watching how none of them made his throws look as fantastic as Eric did. I noticed the offensive coach, Coach Fisch, look at the clipboard in his hands and shake his head slightly before looking in Eric's direction, his mouth forming a distinct frown. I bit my lip, seeing everything that had vanished from the team with Eric being gone. No fun, just work. No hard work, just talent. No jazz, just basics.

"This is why it's so hard. I see them practicing and I can see the life of the team completely deflating and it doesn't matter what I say, each week it gets closer to the bowl game, more of it comes out. The only way they will ever have confidence is when I'm out on the field again." He told me, his voice hard and cold.

"Eric, what are they going to do next year? You won't be here. You can't lead them through next season too, eventually they have to learn to do it without you." I told him, pulling the blanket tighter around me.

"I know that Riley, but I didn't want it to end like this. I deserve to play and they deserve to win." He pushed out, his jaw clenched while he gritted his teeth tightly.

"Eric, you can't be the whole team. The reason they win or lose in January is not decided by a single person."

"Yeah it is, because I fucked up. They needed me and I let them down," He told me, hanging his head in disgust.

"You didn't let them down. You gave them the opportunity to show everyone what they can do without you next year, baby. They needed that just as much as the need you. But you can't be there forever, Adam needs to learn to depend on himself, not you. The offense needs to know they can't just cave in when you are having an off game and the young receivers need to step up and fight for their position. No more being complacent, sitting on the bench, watching you."

It was silent after that, only the occasional whistle or shout could be hear, along with the steady howling of the wind. I looked away from Eric, and back at the field, where all he could see was disappointment and all I could see was opportunity. I shook my head, ready to explain to him that he needed to see the bigger picture. But when I turned towards him again, my words were caught in my throat and my body went numb.

I watched his shoulders shake, my mouth slightly agape. His sobs were not audible for me as he held his face in his hands, completely breaking down in front of me. My arms immediately sprang into action, wrapping around his body and enclosing him in mine and the blankets warmth. He shifted from crying into his hands to crying into my shoulder. I sat as still as the pavement as he clung to me desperately. His sobs started to shake my body as my own tears fell down my cheeks. I wanted to say something, do something that would make him feel better. To reassure him in some way that everything would be okay. But those words wouldn't help and he needed to let it out. He needed to be vulnerable for a little bit. To let his walls down and let me in so I could help him.

I ran my hands up and down his back, placing soft kisses against the top of his head. I didn't say anything, afraid that if I did he would pull away and shut himself back in again. I didn't want that, I wanted him to be open and honest with me. His arms were wrapped tightly around my waist and he basically smashed his face into my shoulder. I pursed my lips as he sobbed a little harder, my sobs wanting to match his. But I had to be strong, he had done this for me countless times and I wasn't going to let my emotions get in the way of his needs.

Practice had long since ended and Eric still continued to cry into my shoulder. He couldn't seem to stop, kind of like the dam broke and all of his emotions rushed out at once. Eventually his sobs subsided and he was quiet as he rested against my shoulder. I tilted my head away and down a bit, noticing he was actually sleeping against my shoulder. I stifled my giggle at how awkward he was laying and that he could actually fall asleep like that. I cringed a bit at how red his eyes were, the undeniable proof that he had been crying. My jacket was wet under his head but I didn't care.

I shifted a bit as my back started to cramp up and focused my attention back onto the field. I looked at it, understanding for the moment why Eric was so upset. Football was his life and taking it away would be equivalent to taking him away from me. It was a harsh reality that he needed to accept though. He needed to turn this hurt and anger into a source of motivation because even though it's slim, the possibility of playing in the bowl game is not completely lost. I ran my hands over his shoulders and down his back, resting my cheek against his head. I closed my eyes and let the cool breeze relax my lungs after the straining of running and crying.

I looked around at the empty stadium in general, wondering if this would be the last time I would ever be in here. I was saddened at that thought, wishing I had enjoyed it a little bit more. I would miss the comfort Gopher football had always been and would always appreciate the friends it brought my way. Yes, football not only had an impact on Eric's life but also mine. And even though it would be hard to accept, there comes a time where you really do need to move on. I wish it was different for Eric than it was right now because it would be easier if he had the finality of a bowl game under his belt. But he wasn't guaranteed that.

Eric's nose pressed farther into my neck as he pushed against me, bring my attention back to him. He lifted his head slightly as his eyes opened wide, looking down at the field. He took his time moving from my shoulder but when he did, he looked at me with an empty expression.

"Did I really just cry?" He asked me, blinking his eyes as they watered again.

I didn't say anything, just looked at him with a simple expression, making sure to not hold any sympathy in my gaze because that would drive him nuts. I eventually nodded to which he immediately pushed out a deep exhale, a cloud forming in front of his face. He wrapped an arm around my shoulder and looked at the field in front of his face.

"I'm going to miss this place," He murmured, pressing a kiss to my temple.

"Me too," I whispered, staring at the big M in the middle of the field.

We sat in silence, not having much to say or really any purpose to speak. Instead, just absorbing the stadium in all of it's glory and the finality of the moment. My body shivered slightly as the wind blew around us with more force, a winter storm making it's way into the twin cities.

"Let's go home," Eric suggested, rubbing his hands up and down my arms to generate some heat. I nodded and stood, helping him make his way down the row and the stairs. I walked towards the gate that the security guard still stood at, waiting for us to leave. I walked ahead of Eric, giving him a couple of moments alone. I came to the gate and turned back around, watching as Eric looked out across the vast field that would no longer be his home. One more tear escaped my eye as I walked over to him, lacing my hand with his for a brief moment.

"I'm going to be alright." He whispered, more to the stadium than me. I nodded with him, standing on my tip toes and placing a soft kiss against his cheek.

"Yeah, you're going to be just fine." I assured him, resting my head against his shoulder before he turned and crutched out of the stadium, not once looking back at the place that had given him so much except for a formal goodbye.
♠ ♠ ♠
NOTE: I don't know if Decker really needs surgery or not. They haven't said if he does yet but I just decided that he will have surgery. It just fits into the story better than doing some physical therapy. There will be another Author's note further into the story so be looking on a heads up for that. I know this is fiction, therefore I don't really need to be doing this but I'm crazy about detail so it's kinda driving me nuts that it isn't right :/

really emotional right?
I felt Eric needed to break down a bit.
anyway COMMENT!
all 21 subscribers. you know who you are.
thank you to everyone who's commented every chapter and kept me going :D
<333 you guys