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Three Things Patrick Kane Is No Longer Allowed To Do On A Roadtrip (Even If It Helps The Team Win)

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1. Perform Voodoo Rituals

"Why are all the lights off?"

Patrick waves an impatient hand towards Jonny, who is standing in the doorway, forehead wrinkled in a combination of fear and curiosity. Patrick inwardly rolls his eyes; the fear isn't necessary. Jonny really ought to trust him more.

"Be quiet." Patrick strikes a match and lights up a pair of candles, careful not to get the flame too close to the sleeve of his sweater. Neither he nor Jonny want a repeat of the squirrel flambé episode. "This is the difficult part."

Jonny closes the door and steps closer, bending over Patrick's shoulder to look at the assemblage sitting on the small hotel room table. The table is positioned in front of the room's mirror -- Patrick moved it there because the book had said that reflections sometimes amplify a spell, because it's like doing it twice. Privately, Patrick thinks this sounds like a load of shit, but he doesn't see what it could hurt, so he's willing to try it.

Patrick lights the incense stick -- nag champa, which isn't what the book called for, but it's what the local hash shop had on hand -- and balances it carefully on the ashtray. Jonny's getting uncomfortably close now, doing the looming thing he tends to do when he thinks he needs to make himself look tough.

"Is that --." Pause. Jonny's shoulder nudges Pat's, jostling the incense as he tries to adjust it. "Is that hair?"

"Yup."

A long pause. Patrick picks up the oak leaves that are sitting by the TV and slides them under the incense stick. The book actually called for maple leaves, but the trees outside the hotel were all oak. Patrick is hoping the oak will help personalize the spell to the area where he's doing it, and won't ruin everything. Jonny clears his throat.

"Patrick," his voice is lower than usual, "Patrick what are you doing?"

"Cursing the Ducks."

"What?"

"Fuck off, you heard me. I'm cursing the Ducks." Patrick adds the hair to the ashtray on top of the oak leaves, snipping it into tiny pieces with the scissors he carries in his shaving kit to cut out stitches when they start to pull too much.

"And how do you intend to curse the Ducks?" That's Jonny's Patient Voice. He only uses it when he thinks Patrick is being a moron. Usually the Patient Voice means that either Jonny is completely wrong because of course Patrick is brilliant, or Jonny is a stick-in-the-mud fucker with no sense of adventure who will die an uneducated virgin. Patrick makes it his mission to expose Jonny regularly to exciting chances to expand his mind and his base of experiences. The Patient Voice is Jonny's way of fighting Patrick's genius.

"I'm going to hex their skates."

"Hex their --. Patrick, whose hair is that?"

Patrick sighs, and looks over his shoulder at Jonny in the mirror. "Hiller's."

"What?" Jonny's eyes are huge and alarmed in the dark, the pupils reflecting the candlelight from the table. He almost looks magical that way, little flames burning in his eyes. This is a good omen. Jonny glances down at the ashtray, then back up to meet Patrick's eyes in the mirror. He puts his hand up to his forehead and rubs between his eyes, which is a sure sign that Jonny is getting a headache. Patrick will have to offer him the aspirin he always carries on the road. Patrick likes to take good care of his roommate.

"How did you get Hiller's hair?" Jonny asks, in tones suggesting that he is picturing Hiller tied up and gagged somewhere. Which, now that's just insulting. Jonny could just look around the room, it's not like the closet is big enough to stash a goalie in, and Patrick hasn't left any spare Swiss netminders just lying around on the floor or anything.

"I took it, of course."

"You took it."

"After morning skate. I snuck in to their dressing room and nabbed it from where it was stuck in his mask." He'd also nabbed a pack of sandwiches and a bottle of juice from the Ducks' team fridge, but Jonny doesn't need to know that.

There's a little bottle of oil on the TV stand near where the oak leaves used to be, and Patrick reaches for that next, pouring a circle of it into the ashtray then recapping it. The whole room smells of medicine; he'd borrowed the oil from the massage therapist's stash when he'd gone looking for the hair. "They even don't have any of the big TVs in their players lounge, know that? It was pathetic, man. They should be jealous of our asses, at least our team manages to get us cool stuff."

When Jonny just stares at him, Patrick shrugs and lights another match, touching it to the hair just like the book had said. It was very specific on that point: touch the match to the hair, then shake it out. Don't just drop it into the ashtray -- well, the book had said altar, but ashtray was close enough.

The hair, oil, and oak leaves light up with a big flash, magnified twice over by the mirror. Jonny yelps. "What the fuck, put it out!"

"No," says Patrick, struggling to keep Jonny from reaching towards the flames, "we have to let it burn all the way, man. Then the Ducks' skates will be hexed, and we'll win tomorrow."

The fire is dying down as quickly as it started anyway, it's not like Jonny has anything to complain about. "Fucking Ryan's not going to be able to skate straight for a month," Patrick says, satisfied.

"Why does God hate me?" says Jonny. There aren't too many people out there who know about Jonny's melodramatic streak, but Patrick is one of them.

"God doesn't hate you," he says consolingly. "He loves you, and sent you me to prove it."

Jonny sinks back on the bed behind them and stares up at the ceiling, his feet still on the floor. Patrick can't see him very clearly; now that the fire has died down, the candles are the only lights in the room. "I think you were sent as a trial of my patience," says Jonny to the ceiling, then sits up abruptly. "Please never do that again."

"Why not?"

"I'm serious, don't."

"Fine," Patrick huffs.

The next day, Bobby Ryan tweaks an MCL and can't skate for a month. Then Getzlaf takes a header over the bench in a freak accident after a hit and is shaky for the rest of the game. Patrick feels supremely vindicated.

 

2. Purchase and/or Use Tinfoil

"Kaner, the fuck are you doing?"

Brent Seabrook looks sad. It's okay. The whole team looks sad. It's not easy to look happy after two losses in a row and a tough division game ahead. Brent is fiddling morosely with a tennis ball like the emo little princess he is. Beside him, Duncan Keith is trying to be all above-it-all and shit, but the eight stitches across his cheek and the black eye sort of spoil the act. It'll be okay, though. Patrick is going to fix this.

"I'm fixing us," says Patrick, brandishing the roll of tin foil he's holding like a sword. "I'm gonna stop these fuckers from messing with our heads."

"No one's messing with our fucking heads," says Hjalmarsson irritably from across the room. His Swedish accent gets stronger when he's irritated; 'fucking' starts to sound more and more like 'fokking'. "We just need to play the damn system better." Patrick sympathizes; Hjammer was on the ice in the last game when the Flames scored the game winner.

"I can fix yours too," Patrick offers. "After this."

He sits down in his dressing room stall and pulls off a long sheet of tinfoil, admiring the pristine, shiny glow under the dressing room lights. It's almost a shame to have to mess up how flat and smooth it looks, like silvery ice. But sacrifices have to be made. He wraps the sheet of tinfoil around his helmet.

"Uh, Kaner?" Brent sounds concerned. Patrick ignores him in favor of tucking the edges of the foil securely around his helmet, then tearing off another piece of foil and reaching for Jonny's helmet in the stall next to his own. "What the fuck are you doing?"

"Saving us from the mind rays." When Jonny's helmet is finished, he moves to the other end of the benches and starts working on Turco's mask. After Jonny -- and himself of course -- the goalies are probably the most important ones to protect.

Masks are a little trickier than helmets; it takes three different sheets to cover them completely, but when he's finished, Turco's mask is a silver glittering masterpiece. The rest of the dressing room is silent, watching him. If they don't want to help, it's okay. Kaner is all over this. He goes to work on Crawford's mask.

"The --," Duncan clears his throat and tries again. "The mind rays?"

"Yep. No goddamn aliens or evil scientists who are Wings fans or whatever are going to mess with our heads tonight. We're gonna play like we're the motherfucking Blackhawks." He finishes Crawford's mask and moves on down the line to John Scott's helmet. The rest of them are still quiet.

He's gotten the hang of it now, and finishes with two more helmets before Scott walks into the room and notices that his helmet has been modified for mind ray protection. Scott just stares at it stupidly for a few seconds, then looks down the line at where Patrick is now finishing with Cullimore's.

"Should I ask?" he says to the dressing room at large. The conspicuous silence answers him.

"He's protecting us from mind rays," says Duncan at last, because he is the alternate captain and when someone has to answer for something and Jonny's not there, it's going to be Duncs. Patrick feels a surge of affection for him, and wanders over to take care of Duncan and Brent's helmets next. He should have thought of that earlier. "The ones that are keeping us from playing like a team that knows its ass from the back of the net." Duncs sounds determined.

"Mind rays." Scott picks up his helmet and examines it curiously.

"The ones that are keeping us from playing the damn system better." Hjammer is singularly focused today. Maybe he doesn't need brain protection, but he's getting it anyway. Patrick unsnaps the helmet that's already on his head and adds foil, then replaces it to Hjammer's head and refastens the strap, patting him on the helmet comfortingly before Patrick moves on.

By the time Coach steps into the room, Jonny two steps behind him and doing his best to loom in a captainly manner, all the helmets have been finished, and Patrick is sitting back in his stall taping sticks. Coach stops, blinks, then puts both hands on top of his head. Patrick hopes that he doesn't start trying to pull his hair out, he doesn't have that much left. Maybe Patrick should look into buying him a wig. They could line it with tinfoil.

"Explain," says Coach Q, pointing at Sharpie, who has wandered in by this point and is lacing his skates.

"Kaner is protecting us from the mind rays that have been affecting our brains."

"Mind --," says Coach, and closes his eyes for a very long time. Patrick preens; Coach is impressed with his brilliance. Jonny pinches the bridge of his nose in that special way. Patrick reaches up above his stall for the aspirin he keeps there for this very purpose.

When Coach finally opens his eyes again, he doesn't say anything, just heads to the board and starts drawing in formations. Patrick pulls his helmet on. He feels very focused, the tinfoil must be working already.

Jonny sits down beside him and starts pulling on his skates. "If you ever do this again," he grits sideways through his teeth.

For a captain who knows his team better than his own body, Jonny misses very obvious signs sometimes. "I'm helping," Patrick whispers back. Across the room, Duncan is no longer gripping his stick so tightly he'll snap it the instant he gets a shot off, and Brent is smiling faintly and tossing the tennis ball off Sharpie's back.

The equipment staff takes the tinfoil off the helmets after practice. They do win that night, though.

 

3. Treat Opposing Goalies Like Incarnations of Their Team’s Mascot

"And how was your steak last night?" Patrick asks, reaching up to pat Pekka Rinne on the head. It’s a long reach. Pekka is like the lovechild of a giant and a tree or something, not that Patrick feels inadequate at all.

He, Patrick Sharp, and Pekka are standing in the hallway of Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, which has got to be the single most confusing venue in sports. Patrick and Sharpie had been trying to find their way out of the building after the day's practice, where Patrick had scored three times more than Sharpie in their scrimmage because he is the man and Sharpie is merely a pretender. Pekka had merely been passing by, so they'd stopped to say hello. Pekka peers suspiciously at them both as Patrick continues to stroke his bangs.

"How did you know I had steak?"

"Of course you had steak," Patrick answers, as though it’s the most natural thing in the world.

A pause.

"Is he high?" This is directed over Patrick’s head at Sharpie, who is standing behind him and staring at Patrick as though he’s sprouted a third arm. Actually three arms would be useful in hockey, Patrick isn’t sure why Sharpie would seem so opposed.

"I have no idea. Come on, Pat, let’s get you back to the hotel for a nap."

Patrick comes docilely, because by now he’s accomplished his purpose. He allows himself to be tugged along without complaint, passing motivational slogans and enormous posters of past Nashville players.

Once they're out of earshot of Pekka, Sharpie jerks him roughly to the side of the corridor with one hand on his elbow, attempting a less-intimidating version of the looming that Jonny is capable of producing. Unfortunately for Sharpie, Patrick has roomed with Jonny long enough to be immune.

"Are you drunk?" Oh please.

"You just spent an hour on the ice with me. I outshot and outscored your lazy ass. Did I look drunk?"

"Did you take any pills afterwards?"

Patrick finds Sharpie's lack of faith disturbing, and says so. "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

"Christ, now you're quoting Star Wars."

"I'm fine, Sharpie. I am not the droid you're looking for."

Sharpie smacks him in the side of the head. "Then what the hell was that?

"He's a Predator," Patrick explains, and Sharpie regards him with a skeptical look that says he finds that explanation inadequate. Patrick shrugs. Sharpie's lack of comprehension is not his problem.

"Please try not to freak anyone else out until we get to the hotel."

"Let's blow this thing and go home," Patrick agrees. Sharpie smacks him again.

Patrick gets two goals that night, because every time he gets near Rinne, the goalie starts to look like Patrick might eat him or burst out in song or something. A distracted goalie is not a good goalie and the Blackhawks win in a blowout.

Two days later, they're in Buffalo to play the Sabres. Patrick always likes Buffalo; hanging out in his hometown means he can go to his friends' houses after the game and play X-Box or DDR.

But before the game he has to be all business, so when Patrick sees Ryan Miller passing by on the way to his own dressing room, his eyes grow large and he begins to back away slowly, trying to be inconspicuous. "Sharp, Kaner," Ryan greets, with a gentle smile. Patrick knows Ryan and likes him; they played the Olympics together and Patrick feels a lingering protectiveness towards his former netminder.

"Back away slowly," Patrick says in a stage whisper to Sharpie, suiting his actions to his words and creeping backwards down the hall. "No sudden movements, and maybe he won't charge."

"Kaner, what are you doing?" Ryan seems amused. Sharpie's eyes are large too, but not because he's playing along. Patrick suspects that Sharpie thinks he's crazy.

"I know they're large and they smell bad, but they're not usually aggressive," Patrick continues, tugging Sharpie with him, crouching down to seem unthreatening. "This one's away from the herd though, he could be sick or dying."

"I'm not sick, Kaner," Ryan interjects, puzzled.

"Just stay still," Patrick says when they've backed up far enough to reach a wall. Sharpie is still playing along, so that's an added bonus. "Their eyesight for still objects isn't very good."

Ryan stands still and blinks at them twice.

"See? He can't see us," Patrick whispers out of the corner of his mouth. "Big and wooly, but not very smart."

"He thinks you're crazy," Sharpie informs him.

"But he hasn't charged yet."

"You're a little strange, Kaner," says Ryan fondly. "I'll see you guys on the ice, okay?"

They wait together, crouched against the wall, until Miller is out of sight.

"Want to tell me what that was all about?" Sharpie asks.

"Nope."

"I thought not." A sigh from Sharpie. He still doesn't understand. "You'd better not be on anything, I swear to god I'm going to have the coaches test you when we get home."

They win that night too.

Ryan shakes his hand after the game and laughs at him.

Two nights later, they're in Boston. Tim Thomas is carrying a pile of laundry and his pads when he passes the visitors' dressing room, where the Hawks are in the process of preparing sticks and skates for their morning skate.

"Jesus Christ, Sharpie, run! It's a fucking bear!" Patrick shrieks at the top of his lungs. Thomas is so surprised he drops his laundry. Patrick doesn't waste a second, sprinting behind Jordan Hendry and Brian Campbell to leap into the spare equipment room and slam the door behind himself. "You can't get me, bear!," he yells to the door. "You can eat them, but you won't get me!"

"Is he, uh, touched in the head?" says Thomas's voice from outside the door.

"He's... something," Sharpie answers. "I'll talk to him."

A knock comes at the door. "Is the bear gone?" Patrick yells.

"Yes, Kaner, the bear is gone, now open the door." Sharpie's voice. The door handle turns easily, but Thomas is not in fact gone. Patrick gives a shriek of, "Bear!" that sounds way more girly than he'll ever admit to if asked, and slams the door shut again.

"You said he was gone," he whines in injured tones. Sharpie has betrayed him.

A frustrated noise, and the whispered sound of conversation from outside the door. Finally there's another knock. "Open the fucking door, Kaner." This time, it's Jonny's voice. When Patrick obeys, the captain steps inside, frowning, and Sharpie follows.

"What the hell was that?" Jonny is not amused. He gets these little lines between his eyes when he's not amused. Patrick can judge how pissed off Jonny is at any given moment by looking at the lines. Reading Jonny is a special skill.

"They're bears Jonny," Patrick explains in his most earnest voice. "Bears."

"Oh, for fuck's sake."

"He's been doing it for two games now. He just gets weird, and then he's normal again." Another betrayal, since Sharpie has told Jonny. Sharpie is not getting a Christmas present this year.

"He thinks the other team are bears?" Jonny is very not amused.

"No, he thought Ryan Miller was a buffalo or a mammoth or something." Oh, not only is Sharpie not getting a Christmas present, Patrick may have to look into Icy-Hot for his jockstraps in the near future.

"A buff --." Jonny breaks off mid-sentence and whirls on Patrick, shoving him hard enough to make him stumble back against the wall. "Stop it. I know what you're doing, and stop it." This is Jonny's Captain voice. No one disobeys the Captain voice. Very painful things happen if you disobey the Captain voice. Jonny knows where he sleeps. "And don't do this again."

Jonny always ruins the fun. It's like a character flaw or something. Chronic unfunnitis. Way less curable than jock itch or polio.

That night, he gets a hat trick and the Hawks run away with the game.

One of these days, Jonny will appreciate Patrick's brilliance. Patrick is sure of it.