Kaner comes out of a meeting with the front office people white as a sheet and refusing to talk about it. Tazer pesters him a bit, but gives up when he still won't talk about it. It doesn't stop him from yelling at Kaner when he can't hold on to the puck at practice.
Two months later, Tazer gets a call from Kaner telling him to come to the hospital.
"What did you do?"
"Nothing! Nothing. Just get here."
So Tazer shows up, follows Kaner's directions, and ends up walking through halls with pastel colors and babies crying.
Kaner is holding a baby who's not crying because it's asleep.
"She's mine," Kaner says. "I was going to give her up for adoption, but look at her."
Tazer does. She's a baby. Tazer doesn't say that.
"Does she have a name?"
"Not yet." Kaner tilts his head to look at her. "Bella?"
"No. Nothing from Twilight."
"You suck." Then, after a moment, "It should be something like our names, with lots of nicknames. Like Catherine or something."
"Catherine," Kaner says, looking at the baby. "Yeah. Catherine Joanne? She could be CJ."
Kaner shrugs a little. "Jonathan's not a good name for a girl and she should have something of your name."
"Dude." Tazer punches Kaner in the arm, but not hard enough to jostle the baby.
Whatever," Kaner says. You're my best friend and you're going to be her godfather." He looks up. "You are, right?"
"Yeah, sure," Tazer says, totally failing to convey any sense of indifference. "Someone has to be a good influence on her."
Kaner won't even put the baby down, so Tazer takes the list the hospital gave him of things a baby needs and goes on a shopping run. He sets most of it up in one of Kaner's guest rooms - he has to dismantle the bed and tip the mattress up against the wall to make it all fit; they'll have to get rid of it, and probably repaint, later - and takes the car seat, some of the baby clothes, and the stuffed tiger to the hospital.
Kaner rifles through the bag and says, "No Hawks jersey?" but he tucks the tiger in next to CJ.
"Tomorrow," Tazer says, and then he hangs around while the hospital people teach Kaner how to feed, burp, and change CJ, until he has it down just as much as Kaner does.
They get to take her home the next day, and Tazer just glares when Kaner says, "I got this."
Kaner shrugs and says, "Suit yourself," but he doesn't try very hard to make Tazer leave.
Tazer gives it a couple of days and the beginning of a visit from Kaner's mom that exiles him back to his own condo before he says, "You're going to need a nanny."
Kaner looks stubborn and mutinous. "I can do this."
"Not when we have practice and games every day."
Tazer is the one who figures out how to go about hiring a nanny and setting up interviews.
"I liked her," Kaner says about one of the candidates.
"You're not hiring her," Tazer says.
"Dude, why not? She was hot."
"That's what got you into this mess." He vetoes the other hot nannies too.
Melissa is not hot. Melissa is older with short hair and sensible shoes, and she says, "I'm a lesbian. If you don't want me around your kid, you should tell me now and we don't have to waste each other's time."
Tazer likes her. There's no way Kaner's going to be able to hook up with a lesbian. She seems to be good with CJ, too, and when Kaner goes to heat up a bottle she says, "I'm charging you extra if I have to take care of him too."
Tazer laughs. "No, I've got that one under control. It's just CJ."
Melissa looks doubtful about anyone having Kaner under control, but she does say she'd love to have the job.
"I like her," Tazer says when Melissa leaves.
Kaner makes a face. "What about Candy?"
"I'm calling Melissa's references."
"She has experience, and she was better with CJ than any of the others."
They hire Melissa.
The way it works is: when they're home, Tazer sleeps in the spare room. Before they leave for away games, he changes the sheets and Melissa stays there while they're gone. It's kind of weird, sharing a room with a girl, but it's not like they're there at the same time.
And then predicted weather delays force them home late one night instead of early the next morning, and Tazer eyes the couch. It's big enough for him, but it's a couch.
"Come on," Kaner says. "You can sleep with me. What?" he says off of Tazer's look. "We share a hotel room all the time. Or you can sleep on the couch."
Tazer looks at the couch one more time, and then bunks in with Kaner. It's not bad. Nice, even, sleeping with someone else.
After a while, if they're only home for a few days, he doesn't bother with the spare room and just crashes with Kaner.
Melissa comes to home games sometimes, hangs out with CJ in the family lounge and brings her to the locker room to hand her off at the end of the night.
She comes to one where they lose and Kaner takes a heavy hit. When Melissa shows up with CJ, Kaner just blinks at them.
"I'm so tired," he mutters. "I don't even know if I can put on my pants."
Tazer rolls his eyes. "Put on your pants. I'll take her."
"You sure you don't want me to stay?" Melissa asks. "I can. Get her to bed at least, so you don't have to deal with both of them."
Tazer takes CJ. "I can handle them." And that's how he ends up giving a post-game, "we have to be better" locker room speech with a baby drooling on his shoulder.
The thing about them all being at Kaner's is that there isn't anywhere for Tazer to go when they're fighting. He can go to his condo, but it's not the same. He doesn't really live there anymore.
"You need a house," he tells Kaner.
"Is this going to be like the nanny where you say I need something and I have to pay for it?"
"Dude, I'll split the cost of the house."
Tazer is the one to call a realtor, and they leave CJ with Melissa while they look at houses.
One of the places the realtor shows them has what she calls a mother-in-law apartment above the garage.
Kaner bites his lip and looks at the apartment. "Do you think Melissa would move with us if we bought a place with one of these?"
"You do get that she's a lesbian and she's never going to hook up with you?"
"Yeah, but she's part of our family or whatever."
Melissa agrees to move with them, so they bundle CJ up and go look at houses all together.
They end up buying a giant place with a huge backyard and six bedrooms in the main house and two in Melissa's apartment. Between the three of them, they have a lot of family, and this way they can have people over for team parties and stuff. Plus, Melissa has space if she ever meets someone and wants to have her own space or kids or whatever.
Having his own room is nice, but Tazer still sleeps with Kaner most nights. It's easier for them to just kick each other as a way of arguing over who has to get up when CJ cries in the middle of the night.
One of the rookies gets called up from Rockford, and Sharpy introduces him around, explaining who will party with him and who won't. "Kaner and Tazer are married," he says, and it's not even a joke. "Their kid's a year or something like that."
"Fourteen months," Kaner says cheerfully. "Like you didn't spoil her rotten on her birthday."
Tazer sleeps in his own room that night. He gets to sleep through the night since the baby monitor is in Kaner's bedroom, so he gets up early with CJ instead.
He's drinking coffee and feeding her breakfast when Kaner gets up. "We are pretty much married," Kaner says. "We even have a kid, in case you hadn't noticed."
Tazer doesn't know what to say, so he tries kissing Kaner instead. It's not weird, not even when Kaner grabs his ass.
"Baby in the room," Tazer says. "And practice after Melissa gets here."
"So tell me," Kaner says, "how much are you going to get off on making me wait?"
Tazer glares at him. "Baby in the room."
Kaner just laughs and kisses him again.
Tazer does not get off on making him wait, even if they have one of the best practices of their career.
Tazer still retreats to his room if they're fighting, but he never sleeps there anymore. It's a pretty good thing they have going on. Really the only bad thing about it is that CJ's still too young to skate. Time will take care of that, though, and they've got time.