The thing about the Sweden/Finland rivalry is that it really only pertains to hockey. And even then, that’s more of a human thing. Eddie remembers his first international competition and how all of the other Swedes had told him to watch out for the Finland members because this was a competition and things can happen. And then a couple of wolves on the team had pulled him aside and said that only the humans are tense during competitions and that Swedish/Finnish puppy piles were more of a common occurrence. Eddie’s on pretty good terms with most of the Finnish players in the league, the goalies mostly, and he’s friends with almost all of the Swedish players. He’s a pretty easygoing guy, he’d like to think.
They’re in Chicago and Eddie’s preparing himself by being in his wolf form because he’s found it helps center him. It kind of sucks, though, because even though werewolves are no secret, some of the guys on the team aren’t comfortable with him being in his wolf form. They really need this win and the added tension of some of the guys avoiding Eddie is too much and so he decides to go see what Hjalmarsson and Oduya are up to.
He butts his head against the Hawks’ locker room door until it swings open to reveal Toews looking around, with a frown on his face. He’s heard various things about Toews, the werewolf community in the NHL is more gossipy than the human portion, but one of the surprising things is that he only changes on the full moon. Werewolves often change more than that because it helps ground them, or simply because they feel more comfortable as a wolf. He looks down and sees Eddie and goes, “You can’t be in here, go back to your own locker room.”
That draws the attention of the rest of the team and Johnny says, “Eddie, hey!”
He turns to look at Toews, “Come on, Jonny, let him stay. Some of the guys on his team aren’t cool with him being in his wolf form.”
Nik chimes in, “Yeah, let him in, he just wants to hang.”
The other wolves on the team are looking at him sympathetically, and someone, Saad, Eddie thinks his name is, says, “I mean, Raanta’s in wolf form too so as long as they don’t start fighting or anything I don’t see why not.” Every wolf in the room rolls their eyes because, well, humans don’t know anything. Toews opens the door wider and Eddie trots up to where Nik and Johnny are and lets them scratch his face and then walks over to where the Finnish goalie is curled up and sniffs him curiously. He lifts his head and growls playfully at Eddie and then jumps down and they circle each other, sniffing the other out. Raanta darts forward and nips Eddie on the ear and Eddie reciprocates.
“Shouldn’t we break them up?” one of the humans asks. “Nah,” he hears Kruger say, “they’re just playing.”
“Not playing,” he hears Toews say, “more like flirting if you ask me.” Everyone chuckles, but Eddie ignores them, pouncing on Raanta and gnawing on his ears. He feels a little embarrassed at that, because he totally is flirting now. Luckily, he’s saved from more heckling by his name being called.
They win the game and Eddie only manages to meet Raanta’s eyes at the end of the game and feels himself blush slightly. Raanta blushes too and Eddie smiles at him softly before he’s swept off by his team in order to get back on the plane.
He calls the only person he knows who could help him with his problem.
“What?” Tuukka growls as he answers the phone
“What do you know about Raanta?” Eddie asks, ignoring the growl. He definitely deserves it, it’s later in Boston than it is Vancouver and Tuukka doesn’t like getting phone calls passed a certain hour.
“The Hawks’ baby goalie?”
“Why? Do someone have a crush?” He sounds more awake now and Eddie briefly wishes he’d called Kari instead
“What? No! I was just curious, that’s all.”
“Mmmhmmm” Eddie knows Tuukka is laughing at him and he’s about to hang up when Tuukka says, “He’s kind of quiet, but is a smiler, like you. The two of you would make adorable, blond, smiling babies.” He hangs up cackling before Eddie can yell at him. Eddie sighs and goes to sleep, thinking of white fur and running under the moon.
He thinks it’s the end of it, that’s he restricted to daydreaming of the cute, Finnish goalie until the end of his days, but he doesn’t count on how annoying his countrymen are.
They’re in New York playing the Rangers and he somehow finds himself eating lunch with Carl, Dan, and Henrik. It’s normal for wolves of the same nationality to hang out when they play each other, so Eddie doesn’t suspect anything until Carl casually says, “So I hear you’re infatuated with the baby Finn on the Blackhawks” and Eddie chokes on his drink. Dan and Henrik turn to look at him. “So that’s why you looked so red at the end of that game,” Dan says, “your boy’s moves had you all hot and heavy.” Eddie is bright red right now and he tells them all that it’s none of their business and to fuck off.
They change the subject and Eddie gets lulled into a false sense of security that lasts until he’s on the ice for warmups and Henke skates up next to him and casually says, “What’s this I hear about you having a crush on Raanta?” Eddie sighs and says, “I don’t have a crush on him.” Henke smirks and says, “I wasn’t too sure myself, but then Hjammer said that you were gnawing on his ears and then Rask tells me that you called him asking for information on him.” Eddie sighs and says, “Yeah, okay, maybe. But probably nothing’s going to come of it. We’re so far apart, it just wouldn’t work.” Henke grins at him and Eddie feels wary, especially when he says, “True love finds a way to work, even if it needs a little help.” He skates away, then, and Eddie feels an impending sense of doom.
It seems like every Finn and every Swede is somehow in on the plan to get him and Antti, as he’s mentally started to call him, together. He fights it for a while, ignoring Henke’s calls and the twins’ knowing looks, but then they’re in Pittsburgh for the full moon and Maatta winks at him on the ice and Eddie ends up in the back of the plane with Dan and Henrik, all three of them curled up together in their wolf forms and Eddie thinks about how Dan and Henrik have wives waiting for them, people to run with. He wants that for himself and he reluctantly decides to stop resisting.
They’re in Colorado when the break in the plan happens. Eddie absently wonders why he has to go to all the Swedes and why can’t they come to him. It’s just him and Gabe tonight, Henrik begged off on account of Skyping with his family and Dan took some pretty hard hits in the game and was too tired to come. He’s not in the best mood, they lost and Torts had yelled and Lu had looked angry.
Gabe clears his throat, “So, we played Chicago last night.” Eddie nods, he knows this, but Gabe sounds like he’s leading up to something. “And I might have sort of bullied Corey into giving me Raanta’s phone number via me and Hjammer and Oduya ganging up on him and accidentally letting him on the plan so congrats we now have a third nationality in the mix.” Eddie blinks, “You have his phone number?” Gabe grins and claps him on the back, “I knew that would be the only part you focused on. Here.” He produces a scrap of paper out of his jacket and pushes it towards Eddie. “Put it away, it’s countrymen bonding time.” Eddie rolls his eyes, but does what he says at they get to talking about the snow in Canada versus the snow in Sweden.
Later, though, after Gabe’s dropped him off, he pulls the piece of paper out.
Hi he sends it’s Eddie. Lack.
A minute later, hi Eddie! I was hoping you’d text me.
He grins to himself and goes to talk to Lu. He thinks that both starting goalies should be in the loop.
He and Antti text up a storm, enough that the team notices. They tease him for having a new sweetheart and it’s mostly bearable, except for Dan and Henrik’s mating jokes. Because the thing is, gnawing on ears and tackling each other is totally a pre-mating thing, but Antti hasn’t said anything about the first time that they met and Eddie doesn’t know what to make of that.
They’re currently in California, finishing up their swing tonight with the Sharks, but right now Eddie’s on a beach soaking up some sun and texting Antti. Antti is currently in New York, about to face the Rangers and he texts Eddie a picture of the skyline, a little blurry from the motion of the bus. Eddie sends back a selfie of him on the beach with a cheesy grin. Antti doesn’t text back, but Eddie doesn’t think anything of it until there’s a knock on their locker room door and Niemi walks in and hauls Eddie out of there while his team looks on, as confused as he is.
Niemi whirls Eddie around and says, “Why do I have a baby goalie calling me up hysterical about feelings and mating?” Eddie blushes, “I don’t really know, all I know is that we were texting and he sent me a picture of New York and I sent back a picture of myself on the beach and he didn’t text back. What do you think I did to upset him?” Niemi blinks and then bursts out laughing. “You kids are so cute,” he says and pats Eddie on the shoulder before leaving. Eddie walks back into the locker room and Lu asks, “What the hell was that about?” Eddie honestly doesn’t know, so he just shrugs.
Next stop is Dallas where Kari winks at him and says, “Full moon is a great time to mate,” and then doesn’t talk to him again.
Sergei Gonchar smiles at him knowingly once as he skates passed the bench and Eddie wishes that everyone would just back off.
Unsurprisingly, they don’t. Dan and Henrik keep making vague references to the full moon and perfect timing. Lu asks what it means once, not too familiar with werewolf culture. Eddie just sighs and tells him to ignore them, mostly because he doesn’t know what it means either.
When Boston comes to play them, Tuukka makes kissy faces at him on the ice and the camera catches it. Suddenly, media outlets are making noises about Thomas versus Luongo: The Next Generation. Tuukka calls him up laughing hysterically and tells him that he told everyone that it was a joke, but that he should seriously do something about his situation because it’s getting really sad.
Eddie tells the media that Tuukka really was joking. But also that he’s an idiot.
It comes to a head a week later when Chicago comes to visit. He’s in his wolf form, all cuddled up on the couch because it’s the full moon, when his doorbell rings and standing outside are: Lu, Dan, Henrik, Crawford, Nik, Johnny, and Kruger. They yank him outside and then shove him into a car. “What the hell is going on?” he demands. “This is getting sad, and not in a joking way.” Lu says, “You two aren’t talking and we’re all sick of hearing the both of you whine, so we’re doing something about it.”
He’s shoved out of the car and into a hotel. They all cram into the elevator and it’s a short ride up to the sixth floor. They stop in front of a room and Crawford steps up to knock on the door. It opens and Eddie is shoved at the person who opens it and barely has enough time to register that the person is Antti before the door is slammed shut. Eddie has a feel that if he tries the door, it won’t open.
He and Antti look at each other and Eddie blushes because Antti is really cute. They’ve been texting back and forth, sometimes with pictures, but this is different. It’s the full moon, for one thing, which means his senses are even more heightened than they usually are and also because Antti is in sweatpants and a loose fitting t-shirt, clearly clothes he pulled on just to answer the door.
A million things that Eddie could say are running through his head, for example, “hi”, could be a good conversation starter, but Eddie’s brain and his mouth aren’t connected so what actually comes out is, “You’re really really cute and I like you a lot and last time we saw each other we kind of did a pre-mating thing and I would like to continue with that and can I kiss you?”
There’s a silence that seems to stretch on for ages as Antti takes in everything that Eddie just blurted out. A smile stretches across his face slowly and he nods and says, “I really like you too. Please kiss me.”
Eddie is only happy to oblige. He steps into Antti’s space and presses their lips together. It’s a pretty chaste kiss, just a brief press of their mouths together, but it makes Eddie warm inside. Their lips catch on each other, both chapped from the cold. Antti surges up and kisses him for real, licking into Eddie’s mouth a little and Eddie moans. He hears a whoop from outside the door and breaks the kiss, ducking his face into Antti’s neck to hide his blush.
When the door opens about an hour later, seven faces peer cautiously into the room, a little wary of potentially naked teammates. Instead, they see two wolves up on one of the beds curled into each other.
“Well, that’s international affairs for you.” Henrik says, “Now whose going to call the Swedes and the Finns and tell them that their baby goalies have finally stopped being stupid?”