“Ooh cookies,” Tyler said opening a tin that was sitting on the locker room bench beneath his name.
Jamie looked over and frowned. “Are you sure you should be eating that?” he asked as Tyler bit into a green and white iced gingerbread man. “You don’t know where it came from.”
Tyler rolled his eyes. “Right. I’m sure with the amount of security we have it was super easy for some crazy fan to sneak in and leave me a box of delicious cookies.”
“The fiend!” Sharp joked.
“Relax Jamie,” Tyler said around a mouthful of cookie. He swallowed and continued. “It was probably one of the trainers or something. Anyone else want a gingerbread man?” he asked holding the tin out to his teammates.
“Sure,” Eakin said reaching for a cookie. “What the hell man?” he asked as the tin fell from Tyler’s hand onto the locker room floor.
“I don’t feel so good,” Tyler said standing up and swaying dizzily.
“Shit!” Jamie jumped to his feet and caught Tyler as he started to fall. “Someone get the doc!” he snapped as he laid Tyler out on the floor. He heard someone run out of the room but didn’t look to see who it was.
“Maybe you were right,” Tyler gasped.
“You think?” Jamie snapped then felt bad because Tyler was obviously in pain. “Just relax okay? You’re going to be fine.”
“Jamie,” Jordie said an edge of tension to his voice.
“He’s going to be fine,” Jamie said trying to reassure himself as much as his brother and the rest of the team.
“No, I mean look at his hands.”
Jamie looked over at his brother to tell him that this was no time for pranks when he saw the way the rest of the guys were staring and looked down. Where Tyler’s hands had been were flat brown mittens, about two inches thick and otherwise the same size as Tyler’s regular hands but now unmistakably made out of gingerbread.
“What’s wrong?” Tyler asked straining his neck to see.
“It’s nothing,” Jamie said quickly, moving to keep Tyler from seeing. They didn’t need Tyler panicking. “The doc will be here in just a minute.” He hoped that would be soon enough as he felt the change in Tyler’s shoulders where he was holding him. Only a few seconds later Jamie was staring down into a flat gingerbread face, the icing eyes staring up at him vacantly.
“Holy shit,” Eaves said as they all stared down at the Tyler sized gingerbread man on the floor.
“What do we do now?” Hemsky asked.
“Hide him,” Lehtonen said. Everyone looked at him.
“But what if the doc can help?” Faksa asked worriedly.
“Do you really think he’s going to believe that we just saw Tyler turn into a gingerbread man?” Lehtonen demanded. “He’s going to think it’s an elaborate joke or, if we insist that’s what happened, we’re all going to be spending some time doing psych evals. Neither option is exactly appealing.”
They all looked to Jamie for an answer. He took a deep breath. “We hide him,” he said reluctantly. “Tyler had the flu; he went home.”
The team jumped into activity, cleaning up the gingerbread men that had fallen out of the tin and trying to figure out what to do with the life sized one.
“Watch his feet,” Jamie said as Jordie and Eaves bumped into one of the benches. “We don’t know what will happen if he gets damaged.” They could hear hurried footsteps and Jamie gestured wildly for Jordie and Eaves to get behind the door.
“Where’s Tyler?” the doctor asked looking around. “Cody said he was sick?”
Jamie nodded. “Yeah, looked like the flu.”
“Jordie and Eaves were taking him home,” Sharp added as the doctor continued to look at Jamie as though he didn’t quite believe him. “You can probably catch up with them if you hurry.”
“If you’re sure it’s just the flu,” the doctor said slowly. “I’ll leave him to get some rest but I want him to call me tomorrow morning.”
Jamie promised to give Tyler the message and the doctor left.
“What’s going on?” Eakin asked after the doctor had gone. “That didn’t look like the flu and what about the cookies?”
Jordie and Eaves stepped back out of their hiding place with Tyler.
“Holy shit!” Eakin said staring. “Is that…”
“Yeah,” Jamie said.
“So what do we do now?” Jordie asked.
“Who would do something like this?” Spezza asked. “I mean, where did the cookies even come from?”
“It had to be someone who could get past security.”
“I bet it was the Wild,” Eakin said frowning. “They arrived this morning and would be able to get in here.”
“So let’s find one of them and make them talk,” Jordie said grimly.
Parise had gone for a run before the game, his earbuds in as he mentally prepared himself for the game. He turned a corner and slammed into the wall as someone ambushed him, holding a towel to his mouth so he couldn’t shout.
“What the fuck is wrong with you guys?” he demanded as they manhandled him into the Stars locker room before letting him go. He glared at the assembled team.
“Tell us how to turn Tyler back,” Jamie growled grabbing the front of Parise’s sweatshirt.
“What the fuck are you talking about man?”
Jamie spun him around so he could see a really big gingerbread cookie leaned up against the wall. “Your team is responsible for Tyler being a gingerbread man and now you’re going to turn him back!”
“Are you on crack?” Parise asked.
“Don’t try to deny it!” Jordie snapped. “If you’re not responsible how do you explain this?” He held a tin of green and white gingerbread cookies out in front of Zach.
“You’re all insane!” Parise said staring at them.
“Admit that you cursed these cookies to transform Tyler and we’ll let you go,” Jamie promised.
“This is a joke right? Did Mikael put you up to this?”
“Guys is it possible that he doesn’t actually know anything about this?” Faksa asked nervously.
“If the Wild didn’t do this then we’re back to square one.”
“Just because Parise doesn’t know anything doesn’t mean one of them isn’t responsible,” Jordie insisted. “Maybe they’d trade that information for the safe return of their teammate.”
“You’re serious about this aren’t you?” Parise said incredulously. “You guys really believe that Seguin was turned into a gingerbread cookie.” He shook his head. “Just when I thought I’d seen it all. You guys know there’s no such thing as magic right?”
The Stars ignored him, hastily texting a ransom note to Koivu and waiting for a response. They exchanged four more texts and not long after Koivu stepped into the Stars locker room, accompanied by Dubnyk and Staal.
“You all right Zach?” Koivu asked.
“Yeah,” Parise said. “Though I’m not sure these guys are. They think Seguin’s the giant cookie over there.”
“Holy shit,” Staal said his eyes widening. “How’d that happen?”
“He ate one of these,” Jamie said passing them the tin of gingerbread cookies. “You guys really don’t know anything about this do you,” he added reluctantly as Dubnyk picked up one of the cookies and smelled it.
“Sorry man,” Koivu said sounding like he really meant it. “Maybe you could get a look at the security tapes or something?”
“Yeah,” Jamie said disappointedly as Koivu passed the cookie tin back to him. “Maybe.”
“So wait,” Parise’s voice drifted back to the Stars as the Wild left the locker room, “magic is real? How come I didn’t know this?”
“Looking at security footage isn’t actually a bad idea,” Hemsky said trying to cheer Jamie up.
“Yeah,” Jordie agreed. “Come on Bro lets go check it out, the guys will keep Segs safe until we get back.”
Jamie glanced back as he followed his brother out of the locker room. He knew the guys would take good care of Tyler but he worried anyway.
“All right,” Jordie was saying as they headed upstairs to the offices. “How do you want to do this? I’ll distract Steve while you go through the footage? Or would you rather do the distracting and I’ll look?”
“Or we could just ask him to help us.” Steve was a good guy and as the head of the arena’s security he would know how the recording systems worked which would make their search a lot quicker.
“Spoilsport,” Jordie teased.
They reached Steve’s office and Jamie knocked.
“So what can I do for you?” Steve asked after greetings had been exchanged and Jamie and Jordie were seated in comfortable rolling chairs.
“We were hoping we could look at some footage,” Jamie explained. “Someone left Tyler a present in the locker room and we’re trying to find out who it was.”
“He wasn’t hurt was he?” Steve asked with a concerned frown.
“No no,” Jamie said quickly. “It was just a tin of cookies but they were anonymous and Tyler would really like to know who to thank.”
“All right,” Steve said. “I can pull up the cameras from the locker room door so we can see who went in or out. Do you have a time frame?”
“Either sometime after last night’s game or early this morning.”
“Let’s see what we’ve got,” Steve said as he let the recording run in fast forward as they watched the empty hall after the Stars had left. The recording had barely run a minute when Jamie recognized someone who shouldn’t have been there.
“Stop!” Jamie said quickly.
“Is that…?” Jordie asked staring at the picture frozen on the screen.
“Johnny Gaudreau,” Jamie said trying not to let his face show how murderous he felt. “Thanks Steve, Tyler will be happy to know this.” Jamie kept a lid on his emotions until they got back to the locker room. “Jiri do you still have Gaudreau’s number?” he asked once he had stopped swearing.
“Of course,” Hudler said already scrolling through his contracts. He passed the phone to Jamie who put it on speaker.
The ringing of the phone was loud in the locker room and Jamie fumed as he waited for Gaudreau to pick up. Finally the call connected and Gaudreau’s voice filled the locker room.
“Hey Jiri,” he said cheerfully. “What’s up?”
“What the hell was in those cookies?” Jamie demanded glaring at the phone. “And how do we reverse it?”
“Cookies?” Gaudreau asked. “I don’t know anything about…”
“Do not test me right now Gaudreau,” Jamie interrupted. “We have you on our security cameras sneaking into our locker room after last night’s game. Now how do we turn Tyler back?”
“He’s the only one who ate one?” Gaudreau asked. “I was hoping he would have shared. Can I have a picture?”
“No you can’t have a picture!” Jamie exploded. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Okay okay,” Gaudreau said calmly. “Relax. Just soak him in some water for five minutes or so and he’ll soften up.”
“Soak him in water?” Jamie repeated sceptically.
“Well milk would be better but I’m assuming you don’t have a tub full of it lying around the arena.”
“This had better work,” Jamie warned Gaudreau before ending the call. They carried Tyler carefully to the hot tub and slid him into it. The tub was just big enough as Tyler stretched from one side to the other. They waited apprehensively as Tyler floated just under the surface of the water and then a cheer rose up as Tyler sat up sputtering. Jamie pulled him into a tight hug, not caring in the least that he was getting wet.
“Jamie?” Tyler asked wiping water out of his eyes. “What’s going on? Why am I in the hot tub?”
“I’ll tell you everything later,” Jamie said. “Just promise you won’t eat any more random cookies you find in your stall all right?”