Chapter 1: Claude - The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Claude can't get caught changing during the Worlds and turns to Sid for help. How the hell is he supposed to hide a Claude-sized wolf for the duration of the change? He's never even met a wolf before and if human Claude basically hates Sid, what will Wolf Claude do?
Sid was just about to go to bed when the sound of urgent knocking filled his room. He frowned and pulled the door open to find a very fidgety looking Claude Giroux.
Sid frowned as Claude pushed himself into Sid’s room. Sid closed the door behind him, mumbling as Claude pushed into the space, pacing around the room nervously.
“Sure, just make yourself at home.” Sid mumbled.
Claude flashed him a look, scratching at his arm and shifting around. Sid frowned and took a closer look at him. A light sheen of sweat coated his forehead, his eyes bright, almost shining, this muscles rippling lightly under his skin, as if trying to get out.
Sid’s eyes widened, “Oh fuck.”
Claude shot him a look, “Don’t.”
Sid shifted from foot to foot, then pulled out his phone. “We’ve got to tell someone, get you downstairs to one of their rooms for this sort of thing.”
Claude’s eyes widened and he took a step towards Sid. “No, don’t.” he snapped.
Sid flinched and Claude softened a bit, rubbing furiously at the rippling skin, as if to sooth it. Claude’s voice quieted, “Crosby, don’t. I’ll be fine, I just get nervous before big games. This hasn’t happened in years, I just need somewhere to stay while I change.”
Sid swallowed, gripping his phone. “Why can’t you stay in your room?”
“Tyler is there. He’s too young, he’s probably never dealt with a change before.”
“What makes you think I have?”
Claude looked up at him, his eyes wide and pleading. “Sid, please. I can’t go down to the rooms. They’ll know something is up. I barely got invited to the Worlds to begin with, they hate wolves in this area.”
“Claude…” Sid started, but whatever objection he had died as he looked at him. He had never seen Claude look so vulnerable.
“Sid, they won’t let me play in the Gold Medal game if I go downstairs to change.”
Sid swallowed, thinking.
All of a sudden, Claude yelped, his body jerking downwards awkwardly as it tried to force the change. Sid jumped back. Claude whimpered and looked up at Sid, who was still gripping his phone. “Please Sid?”
There was only one answer to that. “What can I do?”
A cry of relief slipped out. It quickly turned into a cry of pain as his body jerked again on its own accord. “Help me out of my clothes.”
It was tricky, trying to maneuver the clothes off of Claude’s body while it was already taking the steps towards transforming into its desired state. Sid slipped off Claude’s pants and hesitated. Claude shot him a look, trying to appear annoyed, but Sid could see the pain there. “You turning into a prude, Crosby? Take them off, fuck.”
Sid rolled his eyes, but he felt better. The anger was something he knew and could deal with. He pulled off Claude’s briefs and tossed them into a pile with everything else. “You’re not going to hurt me, are you?” Sid asked, his voice barely a whisper. He kind of hoped Claude wouldn’t be able to hear him, but of course he did. His body was changing into something that was beyond human, better than human.
Claude’s expression was almost... hurt? He looked away and huffed, “Course not.”
Sid nodded. Claude’s body jerked again, joints bending in ways that they shouldn’t as they forced him down. Claude cried out in pain. Sid scooted closer to him, reaching out a hand uncertainly. Claude glanced over, checking to see what he was doing. Sid pulled his hand back.
Claude let out something that sounded like a laugh, but it was much too deep and laced with pain. “You can touch if you want. I don’t bite.”
Sid wanted a smile at that attempt at a joke, but couldn’t. Claude looked even more disappointed and yelped out again in pain, his head forced down by the change. A thin layer of hair started to cover his body as he started taking on a more recognizable shape. Sid reached out to touched it.
Claude shivered under the touch, his skin impossibly hot. Sid was going to pull his hand back again when Claude leaned into the touch.
Sid smiled and rubbed little circles into Claude’s skin with his thumb.
It was absolutely horrific to watch. Some hair shrunk back as a thick coat grew over Claude’s body, surprisingly soft against Sid’s hand. Claude’s body cracked and popped as bones where relocated, joints shifted and skin stretched. Sid could feel the beating of Claude’s heart and heaving of his lungs as it struggled to keep up with the insane task his body was presented with.
There were very, very few werewolves in the world today and even fewer in hockey. Maybe only five in the whole league. Sid had never played with one, but had been trained on how to accommodate them and their needs as the captain to his team. They had only very recently been allowed to play in the NHL.
His mind was brought back to Claude as a definitely canine yelp sounded throughout the room, making Sid wince. He shushed him, running his hand up and down Claude’s side, now mostly transformed. Claude swung his head to look at him and Sid winced. Then he noticed how definitely human the eyes starting back at him were, how intelligent and incredibly Claude they were.
Sid sighed in relief and pulled himself closer to the wolf, burying both of his hands into Claude’s side, looking for his reaction. Claude leaned into it again, closing his eyes.
Claude let out a low moan that sounded almost like a howl as his body gave one last push. There were more cracking noises until finally, there was silence.
Claude collapsed, making Sid jump. He watched as Claude flopped out onto his side and stretched. More popping sounds, but this time it wasn’t accompanied by any yelps or moans, but happy sounds.
Sid hovered over Claude. Well, wolf Claude. Fuck, Wolf Claude was huge.
Claude closed his eyes and soon enough, he was snoring softly. Sid frowned in confusion, but he supposed it was to be expected. Claude’s body had just worked so hard to force itself into this shape. Sid would be tired too.
A knock at the door caused Sid to look up sharply. Claude didn’t even react, still out cold on the floor. Sid stood uncertainly and walked over to the door. He looked back over to where Claude was laying, seeing nothing as the bed blocked the view. Sid pulled the door open slowly.
Tyler Seguin stood at the door, smiling brightly.
“Hey Ty, what’s up.”
Tyler just shrugged, leaning up against the door frame. “Just looking for my roommate. Have you seen him?”
Sid tried to feign innocence and looked surprise, “Huh. Uh, no. I haven’t. I’d try texting one of his teammates. Maybe they went out or something.”
Tyler nodded, looking unconvinced and a little worried. “Yeah, okay. Hey, is everything okay? I thought I heard something before.”
Sid tried to smile. Tyler’s perplexed expression proved that it definitely came out looking way more stressed than he’d anticipate. “I’m fine Tyler, just getting ready for bed.”
“Yeah… sure Cap.” Tyler said.
Sidney put on his best media smile for Tyler, “You get to bed, Tyler. Don’t worry, if he doesn’t turn up, he’s probably bunking with a teammate. I’m not worried. Focus on our game tomorrow.”
Tyler smiled, still looking a little uncertain. “Alright Sid. Night.”
Sid smiled and shut the door, leaning against it and shutting his eyes. God, this was such a stupid idea.
A thumping noise sounded throughout the room. Then another. Sid cocked his head, listened. A lump formed in his throat. He made his way over to the spot where he had left Claude slowly. As Claude slowly came into view, Sid held his breath.
It was a tail. Claude’s tail was twitching, thumping up and down on the ground as he looked up at Sid with just one big bright eye, his head still laying flat. As soon as Sid came fully into sight, the thumping quickened. Claude pushed himself up, bounding towards Sid.
Sid was embarrassed to say that he yelped as 190lbs of Claude came racing towards him. Sid still wasn’t sure how human Claude was, having never officially met a wolf in their wolf form before.
Claude surprised him. He pushed up against Sid like a hug cat, arching his back as Sid’s fingertips brushed his fur. It was almost the colour of Claude’s hair, but just a shade darker, the red more present in the under coat.
Sid kept very still as Claude sniffed, rubbing and brushing against him. He shoved his nose hard in Sid’s ass. That was where Sid drew the line, swatting at him. “Claude, fuck off.”
Claude made a sound that was suspiciously laugh-like and jumped up onto Sid’s bed, were he was now closer to eye level with Sid. Sid stared at him. “Claude?”
Claude dipped his head in what could only be called a nod. Sid smiled and reached out his hand, pausing. Claude bumped his hand with his nose, smelling. Then he pushed his face into it.
Sid laughed and shook his head, “Incredible.”
Claude hummed and closed his eyes and Sid gave his head and neck a rub down. Sid paused, “Is it okay if I do this?”
The look Claude gave him suggested that it would only not be okay if Sid were to stop. Sid smiled, “Okay, okay. What about if I do this?” he blew gently on Claude’s face.
Claude pulled his head back and made a sound. Sid smiled and leaned in, doing it again.
Claude snapped his teeth at Sid, coming startlingly close to his jaw. Sid’s eyes widened, but he smiled, mouth opened in a surprised “Oh!”
Claude whined and flopped down on the bed, giving Sid sad eyes. Sid smiled, “Okay, I won’t do it again.”
Claude huffed. He got up and walked over to the bathroom, his head down and shoulders rolling as he moved surprisingly quietly for someone so big. Sid followed and opened the door for him.
Claude slipped in the room and pushed himself up so that his front paws were on the bathroom counter. He pawed at the tap a couple of times. Sid opened it for him. Claude drank from the sink before hoping down.
Sid smiled, closing the tap for him. “Rude.”
Claude shot him a look. Sid laughed, “I like you better this way. You don’t talk as much.”
The look Claude gave him suggested that a challenge had been made. He began making a noise, low in his throat halfway between a whine and a bark. It was hideous. Sid blocked his ears, “Stop, stop. Oh God, someone is going to hear you, stop.”
Claude did, looking pretty pleased with himself. He jumped back onto the bed and pawed at the spot next to him.
Sid rolled his eyes, “Are you inviting me onto my own bed? How generous.”
Claude laid himself out, resting his head on his paws. Sid sat down next to him. Claude looked up at Sid, eyes shifting around the room, but always coming back to him. He pawed at the spot next to him again.
Claude pawed at the spot again.
Sid shook his head, “I don’t get it.”
Claude sighed in disgust and raised his head, taking Sid’s shirt gently between his teeth and pulling him closer.
“Hey, hey, stop. I’m coming.”
Claude rolled his eyes, but let go of the shirt.
Sid scooted closer.
Claude sniffled and placed his head in Sid’s lap, looking up at him. Sid frowned, “Don’t try this cute shit with me.”
Claude huffed happily and closed his eyes. Sid ran his fingers through Claude’s coat, taking in his enormous shape. Thick ears protruded from the top of Claude’s head. He had literally become a wolf, his body pushing out a tail and ears, dragging and shifting his human body into this monstrous creature.
Claude shifted, cuddling up closer to Sid, closing his eyes.
Sid took back that last part back. Not a monstrous creature. Just huge.
Sid pushed himself up off the bed, much to Claude’s disappointment. “Calm down, I’m just turning off the lights.”
Claude huffed and ducked his head.
The room turned pitch black. The only thing guiding Sid back to the bed was the glowing of Claude’s eyes, watching him from across the room.
Sid slid back onto the bed, lying down on his back, head tilted to look at Claude. “How long are you going to be like this?”
The eyes just blinked at him.
Sid snorted, “You don’t know, do you.”
Claude huffed an affirmative.
Sid sighed, “Fine.”
Claude shifted. Sid could only make out his large shape in the dark. He crept closer still, slowly, as if not to draw Sid’s attention. “I can see you, you know.”
Claude huffed. The giant mass of his body rose. Claude walked himself in a circle, then plopped himself down again, right on top of Sid.
Sid let out an “Ouf” and Claude shifted, nuzzling him apologetically. Claude was still mostly on top of him, but at least Sid could breath now. Claude stretched out along the length of Sid’s body, feet tucked up underneath him, head resting on Sid’s shoulder.
Sid held really still, not sure what to do. He had no clue what wolves where like, if each one was their human self, or if they reflected parts of their human self. Sid was pretty sure a human Claude would never voluntarily move this close to Sid.
Sid swallowed but made no move to get Claude off him. Everything about this was kind of amazing.
When Claude had been nominated Captain, it had been a big deal. Claude had been the first wolf in the NHL to be named captain. People had known about the existence of wolves for a while, but it wasn’t until about five years before Sid was drafted that the NHL and other professional sports organizations started allowing wolves into the profession.
Sid never thought he would see one, never mind have one pushed up against him, slowly drifting off to sleep.
As if sensing Sid’s busy mind, Claude let out a low whine and nuzzled at Sid’s jaw gently. Sid ran his fingers through Claude’s fur absentmindedly. Claude hummed and licked at Sid’s jaw. Sid froze.
Claude paused, then did it again.
Sid made a noise low in his throat, “Claude stop. I know what that means, you know.”
Claude huffed, his tail thumping shyly against the bed. Sid just shook his head and pulled himself closer to Claude, settling in for the night.
“You’re like a fucking furnace.” Sid mumbled.
Claude hummed and shifted closer to Sid, tucking his nose into Sid’s neck.
Sid didn’t mind. He fell asleep surprisingly quickly considering there was a 190lbs wolf curled up against him who could easily rip out his throat at any moment. It was kind of nice.
When Sid woke up the next morning, it was pretty obvious that something was wrong.
First of all, he was being gently rocked out of his sleep, a very naked Claude rubbing himself against Sid’s hip. His face was buried in Sid's neck, inhaling deeply.
Sid’s breath hitched, confused. “Claude?”
Claude jerked his face back, hair disheveled and eyes a little wild, “Fuck, Sid. Thank god.” His voice was hoarse with disuse, still a little rough.
Before Sid could ask what was happening, Claude brought his mouth down into a bruising kiss. His breath was hot against Sid’s mouth, skin still too warm against Sid's hand as he braced himself against Claude’s chest. Side pushed himself back, “Claude, what the hell? What’s happening? When did you change back?”
Claude groaned. He rested his forehead against Sid’s and closed his eyes, taking in a few grounding breaths. “Fuck, Sid. It’s your fucking smell.”
Sid’s eyes felt huge. He tried to pull back but Claude had his hand securely on Sid’s hip, keeping him locked in. Claude rolled Sid onto his side, so that he was pressed up along the length of Claude’s body.
Sid couldn’t find the words to protest.
Claude took another steadying breath, “Changed this morning. I’m so fucking hard…” he whispered, eyes still closed.
Sid swallowed, “Yeah, I can tell—“
Claude’s eyes flashed open, “Yeah? You can tell?” He rolled his hips against Sid’s. Sid bit his lip against a moan, feeling Claude’s erection against his own growing one. “There’s nothing better than a good fuck after a change.” Claude whispered, nuzzling at Sid’s ear. He nipped the skin there gently.
He dragged their lips together again. Sid could feel the level of control that Claude had the night before slipping as Claude’s teeth threatened to break the skin of his bottom lip. Sid’s eyes fluttered shut as Claude’s hot tongue pushed into his mouth, working to dominate and consume Sid. Sid felt fucking hot with it.
Dizzy, he pulled back. “Claude, is this a good idea?”
Claude rolled his hips again. “The best idea,” he breathed, nipping at Sid’s jaw.
Sid bit back a moan, “You definitely did not tell me about this last night.”
Claude whined and shook his head comically, much like a dog would.
Claude took a couple of deep breaths, then winced. He jerked away from Sid, sitting up cross legged.
Sid didn’t bother to try to hide his erection, Claude would likely smell it on him anyways. Claude took some more shuddering breaths and shook his head again, eyes closed.
Finally he raised his head, opening his eyes slowly to look at Sid. He tried a smile, “Probably not a great idea, eh Captain?” he said, voice returning to normal, the French-Canadian accent creeping back in.
Sid offered him a tired smile, “Probably not.”
Claude nodded and pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes, standing. He seemed pretty comfortable being naked. Sid tried not to look.
Claude dragged his hands down his face and looked at Sid, “Can I use your shower?”
Before Sid could answer, Claude was on his way to the bathroom, the door clicking shut behind him. Sid sat there, pretty damn confused.
He heard the shower turn on and the sound of someone washing themself. Sid reached down and squeezed himself through his shorts, closing his eyes slightly. He thought better of it and pulled himself out of bed, checking the time. It was still early.
He folded Claude’s stuff into a pile, placing it on the dresser neatly. He didn’t bother changing, knowing he was just going to shower after Claude. Then all that would be left to do was to go downstairs to meet with the team before the big game.
The shower shut off and there were some shuffling noises. The door clicked open, and a very damp looking Claude emerging, a towel low on his hips. Neither of them were hard anymore.
Probably for the better.
Claude dressed himself in his clothing from yesterday, sighing heavily. “I have a very awkward conversation to have with a likely upset roommate this morning.”
Sid smiled, “It won’t be so bad.”
Claude shrugged and looked over at Sid. He shifted slightly. “Um, thank you.” He looked over at Sid when he didn’t respond. "For last night."
Sid laughed, “I figured it would be for last night.”
Claude snorted, “Don’t flatter yourself about this morning.”
Sid just rolled his eyes. He had so much chirping material from this experience that he’d never get to use. He sighed.
Claude shot him a dirty look, “Well, thanks.”
Sid softened, appreciating the effort Claude was making. “Thank you Claude. For trusting me. I kind of… enjoyed it?”
Claude snorted, “Of course you did, you pervert. Taking advantage of a recently turned wolf to satisfy your perverse needs.”
“I liked you better when you couldn’t talk.”
“You would, wouldn’t you. Sicko. ”
Claude smiled and shifted again, looking towards the door. He looked back at Sid. Claude took a careful step forwards and lowered his eyes slightly. Sid frowned, confused. Claude took another slow step into Sid’s personal space.
Sid held still, unsure of what was happening. With his eyes still lowered, Claude ducked his head and nuzzled at the delicate skin of Sid’s pulse point, inhaling deeply.
Sid swallowed hard, aware of how Claude would feel the movement. Claude pulled back slightly and placed his hands on Sid’s chest. He leaned in again and pressed a gentle kiss to the spot on Sid's neck.
He pulled back, eyes still lowered, hands still on Sid’s chest. “Um.” He said, swallowing. “Thank you again, captain.”
“Anytime, Claude.” Sid said softly, stunned by the sign of submission Claude had just offered him.
Claude nodded, satisfied. He turned and walked over to the door, flinging it open. “See you later, Crozbo.” he said, putting a very mocking French emphasize on the nickname.
Sid smiled and shook his head.
That night they won Gold together. And if Claude leaned in a little bit closer to Sid and inhaled deeply while they hugged in celebration, no one even noticed. The action was lost in the celebration of winning Gold for their country, but Sid knew. Claude gave him an absolutely filthy look as they were pulled apart and swept up in the amazing feeling of victory that engulfed them all.
Chapter 2: Carey & Alex - The Carey Price Incident
November 25th against the New York Rangers. That's when it all changed. That was the day of the "Carey Price Incident" that changed the league for Wolves.
Coming off the ice after period 2 on November 25th against the New York Rangers, Carey immediately knew something was wrong. He threw his stick into the rack and ripped his helmet off, doubling over in his stall.
The pain was intense and he gritted his teeth against it. He started pulling equipment off with more force than necessary, tossing it into a heap on the floor.
His teammates entered the room uncertainly. One of the trainers came over to him, crouching over him, suggesting that they go to the trainer’s room to assess him.
Carey growled in frustration. The trainer flinched, pissing Carey off more. The whole training staff was aware that Carey was a wolf, as it had to be declared to those who would be overlooking his care in this organization. Despite this, it seemed that no one truly knew what that meant. If they did, no one would ever assume that Carey would mean to hurt them.
Carey left the bottom part of his equipment on, leaving the room behind the trainer. He gave Condon a little bump on the way out, wishing him luck as he prepared to take over for Carey.
In the room, Carey got the bad news. He would not be returning to the game tonight, and worst of all had to undergo further testing to see if he’d play in the next game. They had removed all of his equipment and checked him over. Carey ducked his head and tried sucking in some calming breaths.
It wasn’t working. He could feel his skin rippling, the muscles working and pushing. His mind and his body were fighting. His mind recognizing that this was an injury, and injuries happen. His body on the other hand was anticipating an attack, preparing for the change to defend itself.
Carey let out a low moan. His trainer frowned, and swore, recognizing what was happening. He left the room to go bark out some orders. Carey focused on his breathing and on regaining control of his body.
Carey’s mother had prepared him for this, the wolf gene passed along through her family. When he went through his first change at thirteen, their community came together to help teach him control and strength. Carey had been lucky. Some communities killed wolves, but his treated him like he was special, despite the difficulties he would face during his life.
But now Carey was losing control. His trainer came back into the room, his expression grim. New York obviously didn’t have any wolves playing for them because they didn’t have a room designated for emergency changes.
That didn’t help Carey’s anxiety. He could feel the change trying to push through his skin. He wasn’t dangerous, he had years of training to gain that level of self control that he was known for, but for anyone who’d never seen a change before, it would be a hell of a scare.
Carey swallowed hard. He didn’t want to change now. The only person that had seen him change was his wife at home and his goalie coach. He certainly didn’t want to do it here and now, but it didn’t seem like he had a choice.
Carey stripped off his shirt, preparing for the inevitable. He ducked his head, squeezing his eyes shut, trying for one last push to reverse the change before it became too late.
“Carey!” a familiar voice cut through his haze of panic.
He looked up to see Alex Galchenyuk jogging towards him, skates off, top equipment stripped and hair sweat soaked and wild.
“Alex,” Carey bit out, sucking in another breath.
“Carey, shit. They just told me what was happening.”
Carey closed his eyes, the skin of his arm rippling and pulsing. “I don’t want to change, Chuckie.”
Carey had been a fundamental and grounding presence in Alex’s joining of their team. Alex had come into the team nervous and uncertain, often stay on the outskirts. Carey had helped Alex with control and confidence, teaching him ways to prevent the change in stressful situations along with self confidence. It was embarrassing having Alex here now. He was showing none of those qualities right now.
Alex seemed more calm and composed than Carey had ever seen him. He crossed the room, gingerly climbing onto Carey’s lap, keeping all of his weight off Carey’s injured knee. He pressed his forehead to Carey’s, closing his eyes.
“Am I hurting you?”
Alex nodded, “Then it’s okay, Carey. Just breath. Like you taught me.”
Carey nodded and closed his eyes, reaching up to drag Alex closer to him. Alex hummed, allowing himself to be moved around. Alex settled lower on Carey’s lap and placed his face against Carey’s neck.
Carey couldn’t count the number of times they had done this before, but it had never been for him. It had always been about grounding Alex, having him focus on Carey’s scent to have Alex bring himself back to the moment.
Carey wanted to laugh at the irony of it, but when he tried, it sounded more like a whimper. As Alex tried to pull away to check on him, Carey dragged him closer. He buried his nose in Alex’s hair, breathing in the scent of him.
Alex accepted it. Carey was so fucking lucky. When he was young, he had heard stories about how wild the wolves used to be, living in packs, focusing their lives on dominating each other. As they evolved, it became harder and harder to breed. Wolves were being born less and less until they were almost extinct. Today we saw very, very few wolves. Each birth of one seemed like a miracle.
When the Montreal Canadiens decided they would be taking on their first wolf after drafting Carey Price, the world of sports applauded them. When they decided to take on another, they were called insane. Other teams' management and the specialists hired by the NHL advised them against it. It had been unheard of, a team having two wolves. Everyone had held their breaths when Alex and Carey had met each other for the first time.
But it had worked. Better than that, it had been an amazing payoff for the 'risk' they took. Wolves so rarely ran into another and there were so many horrific stories about instinct taking over. That was rarely the case, but the media made wolves out to be monsters.
Every year, the wolves were flown in at the beginning of the season to meet with the wolves on opposing team wolves to get their scents. The league justified this as precautionary, so that their first time meeting on the ice wouldn’t induce an adrenaline filled bloodbath. Every year Carey put on a smile and went, but he hated it.
He wanted to scoff, that would just never happen. Having Alex curled up against him trustingly was proof that it wouldn’t. Those few deaths had been anomalies, all outside of the NHL in hick towns, just as you’d see outside of the wolf community.
Alex drew Carey's attention back to him, tucking his arms between their bodies, burying his face in Carey’s neck. “You feeling a little better?” Alex murmured.
Carey nodded, breathing in deeply. His muscles were relaxing, heart rate slowing and skin returning to its normal temperature.
Alex stayed where he was, waiting for Carey to make the first move.
An outside voice cut through their peaceful haze. “Alex? You guys are back on the ice in one minute.”
Carey’s heart rate ramped back up. Alex ran a hand up and down his ribs soothingly. “Shh, Carey. You have to focus. You can’t change right now. It will make the injury worse.”
Carey whimpered at the mention of the injury, mind reeling again.
“Alex? You need to get back into your gear. Coach is calling for you.”
Alex’s soothing aura shifted as he turned to face the trainer, “I’m fucking busy right now.”
The trainer winced. Alex’s voice had came out a growl. Carey closed his eyes, trying to maintain the level of calm that Alex had helped him achieve, but it was slipping with the threat of his leaving.
“I’m sorry Carey, hold on.” Alex whispered, pulling off Carey’s lap.
Carey watched him leave, grasping at the sense of calm that he had regained. He sucked in a couple more steadying breathes. Carey sat alone in silence, just taking the necessary time to regain control of his body and push back the change.
Carey must have been there for a half an hour or more, but it was still too soon when a trainer came in, disrupting his concentration. “Carey?”
Carey looked up at him.
The trainer looked uncertain, “They are saying that we should take you to the hospital, just in case. Have a specialist look at you.”
Carey closed his eyes, “So it’s worse than we hoped.”
The trainer paused, “Unfortunately, I think so.”
Carey sucked in a breath. And then another. And another. His breathing spiked and he was almost hyperventilating. The trainer frowned. Carey’s body spammed and jerked forwards.
“Go.” It came out more like a growl than Carey had anticipated, “Go away.”
The trainer nodded and left the room in a rush.
Carey swallowed hard and dropped to his hands and knees. His skin rippled as unimaginable pain filled him. He screamed as his body popped and contorted. It was the most painful change he had ever undergone. He didn’t even have the satisfied feeling that usually accompanied the change once it was done. Alex had been right, his knee was out of place and agitated even more so than when he was in his human shape.
Carey whimpered. He tried to take a step and fell. He cried out, but none of the trainers would approach him while he was in wolf form. He couldn’t help the pathetic sounds he was making. He lay there on his side, waiting. There was nothing else to do.
His heart was thumping, brain sending him mixed signals as the wolf instincts to protect himself began winning out. They pain consumed his mind. He panted heavily.
Carey looked up as he picked up voices in the hallway. Arguing. He was too tired to focus on distinguishing what it all meant, whining and swiping at his ears and face.
The door shot open and Carey jumped up, yelping as he tweaked his knee. His wolf self prepared to defend. He was relieved to see it was Alex. He tried taking a step forwards and stumbled.
Alex caught him, “Oh, Pricer.”
Carey whined at him. Alex tried smiling and sat down. Carey sat, avoiding putting any weight on the knee and rested his head in Alex’s lap. Alex stroked his head.
As Carey’s eyes began to slip shut, another voice filled the room. Carey would have been worried, but Alex was taking care of it. Too tired and confused to focus on their words, he instead tuned himself into the steady beat of Alex’s heart and breathing. The discussion was animated, grating against Carey’s ears.
Words like, “it’s in the contract” washed over him, along with “needs to control himself”, “not allowed”, “embarrassing” and “hospital”. The last one worried him, but if Alex wasn’t affected by it, then Carey wasn’t going to worry.
Finally, the person left. Alex sighed as the door closed and turned his attention back to Carey. “Coach isn’t happy. Don’t listen to him.” He buried his cold fingers into Carey’s burning side. Carey huffed out a happy sigh, feeling better now that Alex was back.
“We won.” Alex said.
Carey made another happy noise. He tucked his head up against Alex’s thigh. There were very few people Carey felt comfortable falling asleep in his wolf form around, and Alex was one of them.
“Do you want me to try to turn too?”
Carey shook his head, somewhat awkwardly in this form. The last time Alex had tried to force himself to turn, he had gotten stuck, resulting in one of the most painful changes of his life. It was equally painful to watch for Carey. They hadn’t tried again since then, and Alex changed only when his body required it.
Alex nodded and continued to pet Carey. Carey focused on that instead of the throbbing pain in his knee.
Eventually, he drifted off.
No one was calling it the Carey Price Incident, but when the string of new regulations and restrictions came out in the NHL shortly after his uncontrolled change, everyone was thinking it.
Every arena now had to be equipped with a room for changes, reinforced to contain wolves that couldn’t control themselves. The idea was that if they got swept up in the heat of the game, they could be moved to this room so they didn’t hurt themselves or anyone else.
Carey rubbed his temples when he’d heard the last part. The stigma surrounding wolves was so laced in fear it gave him a headache. Even when he couldn't prevent the change, he had never been anywhere close to dangerous.
Worst of all, all of the players on the teams now had to be made aware of those with wolf status.Before, he and Alex could deal with all of the problems that arose internally. Now someone would always be speculating, waiting for them to lose control. Thankful, the media and public were still not required to know who was and wasn’t a wolf.
Claude Giroux was the only wolf to come out to the public and the lash back he got for it was tremendous. Too aggressive, dangerous, a hazard to other players. But Claude was proud. He was the first wolf to ever be made captain. That was the day he announced it to the public.
Carey shivered. The day the public found out about him would be the day that he retired.
Alex called him that night, worried. He didn’t know how he was going to tell the team. He worried about how they would react. Carey tried to be calm and certain. No one would treat them differently. They wouldn’t be judged. Carey would help and they would do it together. Deep down, he was every bit as scared.
But they were lucky. Despite Alex’s age and inexperience, he was a strong kid. They had something that the other wolves in the NHL didn’t have. They had each other.
Chapter 3: Tyler - Tyler's Coming Out
Around the league, wolves are being told to announce themselves to their teams. Tyler's coming out is wrong on so many levels.
Jamie got called up by management one day after practice. Sighing heavily, he stripped out of his gear, showered and got himself into his street clothing.
He was guided to an office where the General Manager Jim Nill and coach Lindy sat, waiting for him. Jamie was surprised, shaking both of their hands and then sat down uncomfortably in front of them.
Jim looked troubled, making Jamie’s stomach knot. “Is there something wrong?” Jamie asked.
Coach Lindy sighed, but shook his head. “Just wanted to talk to you about something that might affect us in the coming years. Did you hear about what happened to Carey Price down in New York?”
Jamie frowned, “He got injured. He’s going to be out for a while.”
Lindy nodded, “Yes, but there’s a little more to it than that. When he found out about the injury, he lost control. They had to lock him up in one of the trainer’s rooms. Turns out he’s a wolf.”
Jamie couldn’t hide his surprise, “Oh shit. Is that why all of those new regulations came out?”
Lindy nodded, “There’s more. All wolves have to report their status to their teams now. That means if we have any, everyone on the team will know.”
Jim cleared his throat, “Management would already know about it, but we want the wolves to report to their captains next. You deal with players internally like you always do before coming to us, and it is the same with them.”
Lindy gave him a hard look, “We want you working to make sure the team is good. We don’t need the team dynamic changing if we make a trade one day and a wolf comes into our organization. It takes only one person to start something, let’s get ahead of it now. You’ll have the manage this, Jamie.”
Jamie swallowed, “Yeah, of course.”
They stood and shook hands, all heading back down to the arena.
As Jamie climbed into his car, his phone chirped. He checked it, seeing one from Tyler.
Wanna come hang out?
Sure, at yours?
Ya, bring beer
Jamie smiled and put the phone into his center consol. His phone chirped again.
Lots and lots of beer
Jamie stopped at the store on the drive over, pulling into Tyler building a short while later. He hauled the beer up to Tyler’s floor and rang the bell, surprised to see a very tired looking Tyler. Jamie frowned, “Tyler, you okay?”
Tyler nodded, closing the door softly. He waved Jamie into the living room, throwing the beer into the fridge and sat down next to Jamie. He handed one to Jamie and cracked another one open, sitting down heavily on the couch. It was quiet.
Jamie fidgeted. He had thought they were going to be hanging out. Even the dogs, who were usually bounding around, were laying on the carpet, giving sad eyes to Tyler. Jamie turned to him, “Tyler?”
Tyler was looking at his hands, “Yeah, I’m getting to it.”
Jamie looked at him worriedly, “Shit, Ty, what’s happening?”
Tyler looked up at Jamie. “Jamie, I have something to tell you,” he rushed out, like if he didn’t get it out soon he would never get it out at all.
Jamie paled, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, Jamie, I’m fine—“
“Are you sure? Are you injured?”
“No, Jamie, just listen—“
“Shit, Tyler.” Jamie said. He couldn’t help the fear that crept into his voice. He turned the beer around in his hands.
“Jamie, just listen.”
Jamie swallowed and sat up straighter.
Tyler sucked in a heavy breath, “Jamie, I’m—“
Tyler paled, “What? I, um, no. I don’t, that’s not what I was—“
Jamie turned to him, “Tyler, it’s okay. No one is going to think differently of you. Do you want to tell the team or are you just telling me?”
Tyler was still pale, “Um, Jamie. That’s not what I was going to tell you.”
Jamie paused. “Are you sure? Because I’ve known for a while, Ty. You're still my bro.”
Tyler gaped at him. “I’m a wolf.”
Jamie blinked at him, completely taken aback. “What?”
Tyler still looked rattled, “Yeah, that’s why we had to talk.”
Jamie paused, “I just had a talk with management about wolves. Is that what prompted this?” Jamie frowned, “You couldn’t just tell me because we were friends?”
A look Jamie couldn’t quiet interpret crossed Tyler’s pale face. “Management talked to you today?”
Jamie nodded, “Something about an incident in the league and new regulations.”
Tyler nodded, “I saw that on TV.” His expression became serious. “No one knows I’m a wolf, Jamie. I’m unregistered.”
Jamie choked on his beer, “What?”
Tyler looked so scared, “I’m unregistered.”
Jamie set his drink down, mind reeling. “How is that possible?”
“My dad convinced me not too. He told me no one would ever draft me. I’ve been hiding it since I’ve presented.”
“And no one… found out?”
Tyler struggled, “When you’re in your human form, it’s easy to miss it. We really only have our smell when we changed, and we don’t put off scents as humans. They’d have to get really close to figure out.”
Jamie was stunned. “No one came close?”
“Claude Giroux did this year at Worlds. I thought he was going to smell it on my sheets or something. Everyone knows he's a wolf. I kept on opening the window when he wasn’t in the room. I even wore this awful cologne. I was so scared, but he was dealing with his own shit…” Tyler trailed off, then looked hard at Jamie, his expression scared, “You can’t tell anyone.”
Jamie swallowed, “I don’t think I can do that.”
Tyler let out a low whine. Cash perked up and nudged at Tyler’s hand. Tyler patted the dog on the head.
“Why did you tell me, Ty? Why did you tell me if you’re not going to come out to the team?”
“I’m scared, and it’s too late to tell them now. They’re going to kick me out, you can’t tell anyone.” He sounded desperate.
Jamie bit the inside of his cheek. “I can… wait. Until we figure out a way to tell them that won’t get you in trouble… for as long as that takes.”
Tyler let out a huge sigh of relief. He got up and pulled Jamie into a tight hug. “Tyler, I can’t breath.”
Tyler squeezed him tighter and pushed him down onto the couch, flopping on top of him. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Jamie tried to laugh, but he wasn’t getting enough air into his lungs, “Ty, seriously, please.”
Tyler loosened his grip, still laying down heavily on top of Jamie. A pleasant silence settled over the room.
“… So you’re not gay?”
Tyler barked out a laugh. “Is that seriously what you’re most concerned with?”
“I had prepared a little speech for when you came out. I want to know if I need it or not.”
Tyler blinked at him. He started laughing hysterically. Then he started crying.
“Oh Tyler, fuck.” Jamie said. Jamie patted Tyler’s back awkwardly from his position under him on the couch.
Tyler let out a watery laugh and sat up, “You couldn’t just let me tell you by myself, could you?”
Jamie laughed with him, “I’m sorry Ty, I was just worried.”
“This is going to require another beer” Tyler mumbled, finishing his and going to the kitchen to pull out another for him and Jamie.
Jamie nodded in thanks. Tyler sat down again. “It makes sense, you know.” Jamie said, watching him.
“Well, with all the dogs. You’re like…” Jamie laughed, “Oh shit Ty.”
Tyler frowned, “What?” At his feet, Cash perked up.
Jamie was laughing too hard to continue, “Are you like, starting your own pack with your dogs?”
Tyler paled and whined, “Jamie…”
Jamie let out a whop of laughter, “You are! You’re creating your own little pack.”
Tyler pouted. “Um, yeah. It started when I was a kid. Usually young wolves get paired up with an older wolf for support and stuff. Because I was in hiding, I kinda only had my dogs.” He paused, smiling. “You should have seen the first time I changed around them. Freaked them out.”
Jamie laughed, the tension bleeding out of the room.
Tyler paused, “How did you know I was gay?”
“Every time we’d wrestle, you’d get hard.”
Tyler sputtered, “That doesn’t happen.”
“Yes it does.”
“No, absolutely not.”
Tyler pouted, “I’m sorry?”
Jamie shrugged, “I’ve known for months.”
Tyler stared off across the room. “Wait, why didn’t you say anything?”
Jamie shrugged, “I guess it’s because it didn’t bother me. You’re like my best friend. I just knew, Ty. It would never bother me. Plus I didn’t… exactly mind… the wrestling bit.” Jamie admitted, blushing.
Tyler looked at him for a long time. “Does that mean…”
Tyler fidgeted. He cleared his throat, “So we good with the wolf thing?”
“Yeah, of course.”
Tyler let out a sigh of relief. “I will figure it out.”
Jamie smiled at him, “I know you will Tyler.”
Tyler got quiet. Jamie glanced over at him, only to find Tyler looking right back. Jamie arched an eyebrow, “So are we good?”
Jamie knew him better than that, “What’s up?”
“You never told me that you were gay.”
"You never told me you were gay or a wolf."
"Jamie," Tyler whined.
Jamie shrugged, “I haven’t exactly figured it out."
Tyler laughed, “I guess that’s fair. In your little speech, were you going to tell me?”
Jamie struggled, “I was going to tell you… eventually. Once I knew for sure.”
"Sounds like you are sure."
Jamie said nothing.
Tyler just smiled and stood, “Wanna go for a drive to my usual spot and watch how the dogs react when I change?
Jamie cocked his head, “I though only mates and other wolves got to see the change.”
Tyler smiled shyly, “I want you to be there.”
Jamie smiled, “I would love that."
“I’m really glad that we had beer for this conversation.”
Jamie rolled his eyes, “Speaking off, I think I should drive. You’re a light weight.”
Tyler pouted, “We have to take my car though, the dogs are coming.” Now that Jamie knew what to look for, he could see that extra gleam in Tyler’s eyes that wasn’t quite normal. It could have easily been chalked up as just Tyler's normal high energy, but now Jamie knew better.
He trusted Tyler, though. He would always trust Tyler.
Chapter 4: Nicky - An All Star Sized Mistake
Wolves are forced to come out to their team. Whereas the Capitals are extremely accepting of their Wolf teammate, someone doesn't seem to want them to hold onto their newfound joy.
The day after it happened, Nicky got a phone call from Carey Price, apologetic and desperate to do anything to help. They spoke for the better part of an hour, all quiet reassurances and forgiving words. It was done, there was nothing they could do now but repair the damages.
Though Nicky was not a captain, people tended to gravitate to his quiet leadership and now they all had speculations and theories as to why that was.
He was a wolf, and everyone knew it. Not only had he been forced to come out to his team, but then the biggest kick in the gut had come when someone leaked it to the press. It was even worse than Nicky had imagined it would be.
Everyone had something to say. People speculated about how being a wolf affected his hockey. Was it giving him an edge? ESPN was doing playbacks of all of his most aggressive moments on the ice, pulling them apart, looking for the monster that they wanted to see.
When Nicky finally got off the phone with Carey, who had fervently promised to do everything he could, it rang again. Nicky sighed and answered it. It was his agent for what felt like the twelfth time today, and it was only barely passed noon.
They had a quick conversation. Yes, he was ready for his press this afternoon. Yes, he had practiced what he wanted to say. Yes, he was feeling fine.
As they were saying goodbye, his agent paused. “Oh yeah, the team wants to be there for it. Is that okay?”
Nicky was startled, “What?”
His agent cleared his throat, “Alex called this morning. They are all going to be there to help you through his. They support you all the way, Nick.”
Nicky swallowed, surprisingly touched. He shouldn’t have been surprised though, thinking back to when he had announced his status to the team. At first, there had been a thundering moment of silence. Andre looked particularly pale at the announcement. Then the room erupted in support and claps on the back. Alex stood back, watching him with those intense eyes. He had know for a while now, and was giving Nicky this moment with the team. Someone had called out a chirp to Holtby, saying that for all the hair he had, they’d suspected he’d been a wolf. The team had laughed and that had been that.
Nicky was drawn back to his phone call, “Yeah. That’s great. I’ll see you soon.”
The drive to the arena where the media conference would be held was excruciating. When he arrived, some of the guys came by to offer him encouraging words and some pats on the back. About ten minutes later his agent came by to inform him that the media was ready for him.
Nicky paled. Alex was the last to approach him as everyone else left the room to join the press.
He cupped Nicky’s cheek and then pulled him into a bone-crushing hug. Nicky let himself collapse into it, sighing heavily.
Alex pulled back, keeping a steadying hand on Nicky shoulder. “Good?” Alex asked him.
Nicky nodded. His nerves were a jumble and he knew that the press was looking for signs that he could lose control.
“Just like we talk about, Nicky. You have necklace?”
Nicky fingered the necklace that he always had on him, helping to keep him grounded when he needed it most.
Alex seemed pleased. “Everyone behind you. Will be okay.” He said with an easy smile.
Nicky wished he had Alex’s confidence. “Thank you,” he murmured.
Alex nodded and left him to the press.
The lights were far too bright when they announced his name and he went up to the podium. He could hardly see his team at all, but he could certainly hear them. There was whooping coming from the back of the room. Over the noise of the crowd he was pretty sure that he heard someone yell, “That’s my boy!”
Nicky wanted to smile, but had to appear professional.
It was awful. Claude Giroux had planned his coming out for a very long time. Nicky had called him yesterday to ask for tips on how to navigate the media. Claude had done his best to help, but it was an entirely different situation. The best advice had been to just be himself and not let the media frustrate him into putting on a show for them.
The questions started off easy, which Nicky was thankful for. After about ten questions about changing and being a wolf, Nicky had to ask them politely not ask any questions in which they could easily find the answer to with a quick internet search. There were a couple laughs at that.
But that’s where the laughter stopped. The questions turned hard and biting. Did he know who had leaked his status to the media? No. Is he angry at that person? Nicky struggled at that one, but the answer was still no. Everyone in his organization had been so supportive, he could only assume that however it had gotten out, it must have been by accident.
Would this affect how he played? No, he had always been a wolf, why would that change his play now? Has the team ever seen you as a wolf? No, that is unprofessional. Will they ever see you as a wolf? My hockey and personal life are separate. He paused and then added that some people in his hockey life were part of his personally life. That raised some more questions, but Nicky didn’t bite.
It was more talking than he’s done all year and he was exhausted. It seemed to go on forever. Finally, someone called that this would be the last question.
“Do you think with all this media attention, this will be the year you go to the All Star Game?”
Nicky blinked at that. He tried not to appear disgusted, “That is not for me to decide. Should I be lucky enough to get to go to the All Star Game, I hope that it is for my playing alone.”
The media crowd erupted. Nicky’s agent thanked them and led him off stage. He was shaking with anger, but still well in control.
His team was waiting for him, pulling him into hugs, telling him what a great job he had done. Nicky smiled, but he felt hollow. Alex patted him on the back. Nicky tucked his face into Alex’s neck and inhaled deeply. “Can we go to our spot tonight?”
Alex laughed, “Course, Nicky. Will be the best.” He left Nicky in peace.
As Nicky left, he made eye contact with Andre, who was standing off to the side. Willie and Latts were talking animatedly about something over his head, but Burkie had his eyes fixed on Nicky. He looked tired and a little pale. When he saw Nicky looking, he snapped his eyes away, turning back to the conversation taking place around him.
Nicky wondered if it had been Burkie. Where Burkie had come from, they had been particularly cruel to wolves. Not that he thought that Burkie was against him, but sometimes he wondered why Andre would look at him so sadly. Was he scared?
Nicky tried to shake it off. He drove home and paced around the house. There was nothing that he could do. The press release wouldn’t air until the next day. In the mean time, they would pick apart his answers, look for holes or any signs that he was the monster they wanted to see. Nicky groaned loudly in his empty home.
Night couldn’t come fast enough. He drove to this little patch of woods that he had found years ago. Back in his home country, wolves weren’t allowed to roam around. There was one park an hour from his home that he was allowed to go to. He never did. He didn’t like meeting wolves for the first time in their wolf shapes. He didn’t know them, or know how they would react. His parents’ home had had a big backyard. He had stayed in there throughout his childhood.
Different areas had different rules. It was highly discouraged that wolves run around the city and were often told to wear collars so that they wouldn’t be mistaken for an actual wolf and shot. That seemed troubling to Nicky, who hated being restricted. Now he drove out to his spot, a small strip of land just outside of the city. He had asked the owners if he could use the land and they didn’t seem to mind, just told him to park his car in their driveway so that they could see when he was here.
When Nicky pulled up, Alex was already there, standing next to his car in his jogging clothing with a backpack slung over his shoulders. He smiled widely when Nicky arrived.
This had started quite by accident. Nicky had been forced to change in a hotel room during a particularly long road trip. Alex had walked into his room to find a giant wolf sprawled out across Nicky’s bed. He’d taken one look at his blonde fur and eyes and flopped down onto the bed with him, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Alex had asked him about it later, and Nicky admitted he had forgotten to change before the trip. The longer you pushed the time between changes, the easier it was to lose control. Younger wolves couldn’t control when they changed, and it took years to master it. Once you did, it was easier to hide the changes and ensure you managed a change often enough to satisfy your body.
They walked out into the woods together. Alex always let him change by himself. Once Alex had stayed to watch. He had lasted about two seconds before declaring that if Nicky could do it alone before, he’d be fine without him now. Nicky had laughed. He didn’t feel alone when Alex was just around the bend.
It was easier for him to change now that he had the practice, stripping down and getting onto all fours. The change always hurt, but he did it regularly enough that it didn’t cause any problems and he had never gotten stuck.
He yelped as his body pushed through the last part of the change and flopped down onto his side. He barked, letting Alex know it was safe to join him. Alex grumbled in the cold and walked over to where he was laying.
Alex always hated standing around in the cold, but melted every time he saw Nicky as a wolf. He buried his cold hands in Nicky’s fur against his blazing skin, curling up to rest his head against Nicky’s chest.
Nicky huffed in mock annoyance, but didn’t push Alex away. They had been doing this for years now. It had been easy to incorporate Alex into his changing routine.
They laid there for a while, before Nicky shook Alex off and stretched. Alex pouted but didn’t say anything, getting up to stretch himself.
They jogged along a familiar path together. Nicky was much faster than Alex but always looped back to run with him, butting his head against Alex’s thigh in encouragement. Alex would huff at him, but would always try to pick up the pace.
Sometimes they talked. Or, Alex would talk and Nicky would listen. Tonight they were both silent. At one point, Nicky couldn’t take it anymore and ran off as fast as he could. Alex said nothing, just continued running along the path. He knew Nicky would come back, he just had to work off some pent up energy.
Eventually, Nicky did come back, sides heaving and body tired. He found Alex at their usual resting spot. Alex was laying back in the grass. He didn’t seem surprised when Nicky padded over to him, standing over Alex. He flopped down heavily on top of him. Alex pulled him in closer.
Nicky whined noncommittally.
They laid there in silence. Nicky’s mind was racing as fast as his heart, but he felt better now that he’d changed and had Alex under him. He licked at Alex’s face, who just reached up to pull at one of his ears. Nicky tilted his head into the contact, humming softly.
“There’s clothes in the bag for after.” Alex mused, eyes closing.
Nicky nodded and tucked his head under Alex’s chin.
“And condoms. You forgot them last time, remember?”
Nicky whined in embarrassment. He hated being reminded of how needy he got after changes. Alex scratched Nicky’s head fondly. “It’s okay. I’ve got you.”
Nicky huffed in annoyance at him.
Alex laughed. “Don’t worry. No big changes. Team still with you.”
Nicky nodded, eyes closing, no longer fighting as sleep threatened to take over.
No one could have anticipated the repercussions that the press conference would have. Standing in front of press at the All Star Game, he still couldn’t believe it. Fans had rallied behind him, as had the league.
Why had Backstrom never been to an All Star Game before? Was it because he was a wolf? Campaigns opened to have him invited, fans demanding that he be there.
Players across the league clapped him on the back. Claude pulled him in to a tight hug. “Don’t let them convince you it’s because you’re a wolf that you got here. You deserve to be here.” He whispered into Nicky’s ear.
Nicky pulled back and nodded gratefully to him.
There were still a lot of questions from the media about him being a wolf, but Nicky navigated them with grace, focusing on the hockey side of this story. Without Alex there, Nicky gravitated towards Holtby, who accepted it with ease. He still felt the looks people gave him, but since being outted, he’d grown slightly more used to it.
He caught Tyler Seguin looking at him for what felt like the hundredth time during the Breakaway Challenge. Nicky did his best to ignore it. Claude was on his team, making it just a little bit easier. He’s had years to settle into the media’s attention on him as a known wolf. Nicky took cues from him.
Eventually Claude got up to take his shot. Nothing fancy, and it was easily stopped by the goalie. Nicky couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.
Other players went up to take their shot. When it came time for Claude to take his second shot he was nowhere to be found. An awkward silence filled the building. Now that Nicky thought about it, Claude hadn’t come back after his first shot. A knot formed in his stomach.
Suddenly Geno appeared, picking up a puck and setting it down a couple feet from the crease. A dull rumble came from the crowd. Tanger skated out with one of Claude’s sticks, holding it out further back from the puck. Both he and Geno were smiling.
Confused, Nicky looked around.
Suddenly, a huge dark shape leapt out onto the ice. A dark wolf with just a undercurrent of red in its fur spun out onto the ice. A silence so unnatural and terrifying filled the arena. Then, a thunderous roar of applause. Claude ducked his head in recognition and carefully picked his way across the ice, nails leaving little marks as he went.
Nicky couldn’t help the smile that broke across his face.
It was even funnier that Pens players were the ones helping pull this off. Claude graciously accepted the stick in his mouth from Letang, getting an encouraging pat on the head from both him and Geno.
Claude dragged the enormous stick over to the puck and bumped it forwards comically. When that didn’t work he dropped the stick and picked up the puck with his teeth, charging towards the net. Pekka Rinne, being the gentleman that he was, let Claude slide through his five hole, opening it up for him.
Stretched out across the crease, Claude dropped the puck just over the line, tail wagging.
The crowd went crazy as Pekka and Claude gingerly untangled themselves. Claude pawed at Pekka’s fist in a mock fist bump and made his way to the player’s line. He accepted pats on the head as he went along, and sat dutifully between Nicky’s feet. His front legs kept on slipping out on the ice and Nicky was sure his ass would be freezing soon, but Claude looked happy.
Nicky ran his hands roughly up and down Claude’s sides the way he liked it as a camera was shoved in both of their faces. He could already hear the commentary that would accompany this, the praise and the criticism.
Claude huffed in annoyance, and leaned forwards. He licked at the camera lens, earning a glare from the cameraman. The crowd loved it. It didn’t matter what any of them would think, Nicky realized. Right now, in this moment, Nicky was happy.
Chapter 5: Olli - Don't Go Home
Kris Letang arrives back in Pittsburgh from an exhausting All Star Game hoping for a night to himself, only to be called out to help with one very demanding wolf.
No sooner had Kris collected his bags from the airport than his phone started ringing. He sighed heavily, rearranged some things and answered it. “Hello?”
Kris stopped and smiled, easily recognizing the soft accent. “Olli.”
A laugh, “Yeah, you back yet?”
Kris grabbed the handle of his bag and made his way out of the airport. “Just got in, about to head home.”
A groan, “No, don’t.”
Kris hailed a cab outside of the airport. “What? Why? Is everything okay?”
“Um, yeah. Kind of. Mostly.”
“I um, I changed tonight.”
Kris paused. The cab driver looked a little pissed off at the delay. Kris handed off some stuff. “You couldn’t have waited until I was back to do this?”
There was a whine on the other end, “You are back. Please, Kris?”
Kris sighed, “Don’t you have a roommate?”
He could practically hear the smirk in Olli’s voice, “I convinced them to leave for the night."
“Yeah.” A cough, "And, uh. Sid might have called to remind them."
Figures. Sid couldn't keep his nose out of anything, especially when it came to the care and well being of his team. Kris smiled, and it seemed that this affection may have extended to the other team, as Kris recalled a certain conversation about another wolf before he left for the All Star Game. Maybe a certain rival wolf with orange hair and a big mouth. Kris shook his head, remembering the flushed look on Sid's face as he asked him and Geno to look after Claude.
Kris mock sighed, "Okay."
Kris smiled at the excitement in Olli's voice and climbed into the car. He gave the cab driver Olli’s address. He could hear Olli laughing on the other end of the line. “Just come in, I’m going to try to calm down a bit.”
Kris frowned, “Don’t do that. I’ll be there in like fifteen minutes.”
A non-committal noise from Olli. Then, “How was the All Star Game?”
Kris smiled, looking out the cab window. “Great, did you watch it?”
“Yeah. Damn cute, that trick you did with Giroux.”
“Are you jealous?”
“No.” The answer came a bit too quickly.
Kris smiled. This was his favourite side of Olli. “You are, aren’t you?”
A huff, Olli’s voice rough, “I’m not jealous.”
Olli had come to the Pens reserved and beyond mature for his age. It had been unnerving, watching this kid conduct himself. At 19 he had had his shit together far better than Kris did today. Everything he did, every time he spoke to someone, it was always well thought out and controlled.
“Don’t worry, you’re still my favourite wolf.”
Another huff, this time more self-assured.
The cab pulled up outside of Olli’s place. Kris sighed, “Be right up.”
“Okay.” The phone disconnected.
Kris paid the cab driver, grabbing his things and climbed the steps to Olli’s house. Kris barely had his stuff down when Olli had him pinned up against the door, pulling his jacket off and tangling his hands in Kris’ hair.
Kris laughed into Olli’s mouth, not minding in the least.
“Fuck,” Olli panted into his mouth.
“Can I get in the door at least?” Kris murmured against his lips.
Olli let out a little growl, but eased off, huffing. He stalked off into the living room somewhere. Kris laughed.
“You’re not expected at home?” Olli called from around the corner, somewhat bitterly.
Kris smiled to himself. Oh yeah, this was his favourite Olli. “No, they’re visiting family in Canada. They’ll be back tomorrow.”
“And Catherine is cool with this?”
Kris snorted, and kicked off his shoes. “Always.” He turned the corner to find Olli straddling one of the arms of the sofa. “You’re not a secret, Olli. Tomorrow I’ll even tell her all about this.” He said with a smirk.
Olli’s nose pinched, “You’re gross.”
“You like it.”
Kris slowly made his way over to Olli. The media speculated all the time whether or not Kris was a wolf. They often liked to bring up his overly aggressive behavior on the ice, his forth cousin twice removed with wolf genes, and how he stalked his pray on the ice.
They’d clearly never seen Olli like this, eyes carefully and predatorily fixed on Kris, an extra glint in them. Voice rough, actions still guided by instincts, blood and adrenaline still rushing from the change.
Kris laughed, “Why do you call me?”
Olli cocked his head, listening.
Kris reached forwards and grabbed Olli’s hips, pulling him to the edge of the couch. He was tenting obviously in his shorts, looking up at Kris trustingly and with interest. Olli reach down to grip the little bit of couch that stuck out from between his thighs, looking up at Kris with his big eyes.
Kris fucking loved it. “I just don’t get it. You’re always so controlled.” He laughed, “My liney. I’m the one who always loses their cool. But when you are at your worst, you always call me.”
Kris reached up to run his knuckles across Olli’s cheekbones. Olli turned his head to nip at his fingers, shooting Kris a look. Kris let out a heavy breath, “God, what do you want? Do you want to be in control?”
Olli snorted, “If I wanted to be in control I’d call someone else. You never let me fuck you.”
Kris laughed, “No, and I think you like that more. Do you like that you can’t control me? Are you looking to get put back into your carefully structure walls?”
Olli shivered under Kris’ intense gaze and reached down, cupping himself through his shorts. “What does it matter? We both get what we need from this.”
Kris laughed, “I guess.” He swatted Olli’s hand away and began taking over, giving Olli more friction than he had been allowing himself. He bent over and nipped at Olli’s lip aggressively, drawing a yelp.
That’s how it always went with them. Both Kris and Olli would end this night with way more hickies and bite marks than they originally planned for, bruised and battered.
They never fucked, but Kris was much kinder than he let Olli believe he was. He listened to the noises Olli made, watched the way his body reacted to his touches. He was also rough when Olli least expected it and needed it most.
They eventually moved to a bed, assumedly Olli’s as he allowed himself to be maneuvered into a dark room. They’d each lost their shirts somewhere along the way to the bedroom, and Kris was biting his way down to the band of Olli’s shorts, pushing him down onto the bed.
Olli groaned, unable to grind up against anything. He got a fistful of Kris’ hair, pushing him down further. Kris nipped him a little harder, his hand reaching down to pin Olli’s thigh to the bed.
Olli whined into the darkness of the room, “Fuck, Kris. Move.”
Kris licked at the strip of skin just above Olli’s shorts. “I don’t think you deserve it yet.” With one hand firm on Olli’s chest and the other on his thigh, Kris ducked his head and teased the head of Olli’s cock through his shorts, breath hot and teasing. His dick was surprisingly defined against his shorts.
He could see Olli’s eyes glistening in the dark, watching him. Kris clucked his tongue, “What Olli, no underwear?”
Olli gave him a dangerous look, “How about you find out?”
Kris let go of Olli’s thigh long enough to peel back his shorts. Olli was fully hard. He was definitely not wearing any underwear.
Olli shot a knowing look at Kris, who had been eyeing him mind racing and scheming. “Don’t tease, I’ve waited long enough.”
Kris hummed and took just the head of Olli’s cock into his mouth. Olli didn’t want or need to be teased. He readjusted his grip on Kris’ hair and pushed him down further onto his dick. Kris gagged, earning a sharp moan from Olli, followed by a murmured apology.
Kris was impressed with how long Olli had held out already. It had been at least half and hour since he’d changed, and Olli was usually impatient to get off. Kris, feeling kind, went to work on Olli. Kris’ fingers were bruising on Olli’s hips, likely to leave a mark later, and Olli’s grip was painful in his hair. Neither of them said anything, just battled to be in control.
Olli moaned as Kris took him down just right, moaning gently around his dick. Kris could feel Olli was already close, feel the contracting of muscles under his fingertips. Olli was making frustrated noises as he tried bucking his hips under Kris’ grip, cursing all the while.
Kris loved it. He could feel Olli watching him. “Kris…” It was unfinished and desperate, but it was definitely a warning. Kris didn’t pull off, just went to work on making it just the way Olli liked it best when he was coming.
After that, it was over quickly. Kris released Olli’s hips slightly to allow him to work himself through the orgasm. Olli was never quiet after a change.
Olli panted heavily as Kris pulled off his dick, the heady taste of Olli still on his tongue. Kris’ eyes had adjusted in the dim light, and he could see the calming, glazed over expression on Olli’s face.
Kris cursed, catching all the warning signs as they occurred. Before his orgasm, Olli was aggressive and rough, still filled with energy and adrenaline from the change. After he came, Olli returned to his usual, controlled self. Most of the times, it was fine. Other times, it was accompanied by guilt.
No matter how many times Kris told him that Olli never hurt him, Kris always caught him sulking, watching Kris with sad eyes for days after. Kris had even stopped seeing Olli after the first couple times that it had happened, but everyone noticed the difference between a change with Kris, and without him.
They’d actually gone to see a specialist about it. Kris was worried that he’d been taking advantage of an inexperienced youth, and Olli was worried that he was hurting one of his best friends.
In the end, it was left to them to decide. So they’d talked about it, and not just in the stupid, lust filled haze that came with the change. Kris made himself available during Olli’s scheduled changes. Olli always said that he wouldn’t call. They hadn’t missed a change in two years.
Something must be going right, because on the ice, they were performing better than ever. But here… here Kris still picked up on Olli’s insecurities. After a change he was riding so high, and post orgasm he was crashing.
Olli flopped back onto the bed and buried his face into his hands, groaning.
Kris sighed and pulled himself over to lay next to Olli.
Olli looked over at him sadly.
Kris sighed. “Olli, don’t.” He said softly.
Olli huffed. He dragged himself up into a sitting position, then climbed slowly onto Kris’ thighs, straddling them.
Kris shifted into a more comfortable position and looked up at Olli. “You don’t have to.”
Olli shot him a look, “I want to.”
Kris laughed and sat up, getting himself closer to Olli. “I know, just checking.”
Olli reached down and undid Kris’ pants, pulling him out fully. Kris had been hard for a while now, ignore himself to focus on Olli. Olli made a noise low in his throat. He started jerking off Kris, slow and lazy. “This okay?” Olli whispered.
Kris nodded and pulled Olli into a sloppy kiss, feeling self conscious of how intimate it was getting.
Olli allowed himself to be pulled down and he molded himself easily against Kris, another definite a sign of him coming down from the high of the change. Regardless, it was a good kiss, much less aggressive and needy than when they'd started. Olli seemed to enjoy licking himself out of Kris’ mouth, the angle just right for him to kiss Kris deeply. It was almost shy, and Kris melted at the noises Olli was making in the back of his throat.
Olli did something particularly filthy with his hands, earning a low moan out of Kris. “Fuck, Olli.”
Olli laughed and sped up the pace, squeezing a little bit harder. He knew Kris pretty well by now, running his thumb over the slit.
“So close, Olli.” Kris breathed against Olli’s mouth.
Olli voice was a little breathless. Kris couldn’t hold back anymore. He groaned and came all over Olli’s hand, unable to do little more than pant heavily against Olli’s lips.
Olli wrapped his other hand in the hairs at the nape of Kris’ neck and kissed him again. Kris pulled him down onto the bed, and Olli protesting softly at the inevitable mess that followed, huffing softly.
Olli was usually quiet, but Kris could feel the weight of the tension in the silence that followed.
A heavy sigh.
Kris eyed him, “Don’t start.”
Olli didn’t, but the look he was giving Kris as he tilted up his face said it all.
They stared at each other until finally, Kris sighed and pushed himself up, sending Olli rolling onto the bed. He cleaned himself up in the bathroom, returning with a damp cloth for Olli.
Olli reached for it, but Kris batted his hand away. Olli shuddered as Kris wiped him down. “Too cold?”
Olli shook his head.
Kris let out a rough laugh, “Then don’t be a baby.”
Olli gave him a wry smile as that.
Kris disposed of the cloth and pushed back the bed sheets, urging Olli under them. After a couple prods, Olli climbed between them with Kris close behind. Olli didn’t touch him, just watched.
“What are you thinking about?” Kris asked finally, growing tired of the silence that had settled over the room.
“You never fuck me.”
Kris blinked, “What?”
Even if he couldn’t see it, he was sure that Olli was blushing. “Um, you never try to fuck me.”
Kris bit out a laugh, “That’s what you’re thinking about?”
“Answer the question.” Olli whined.
There had been no question, but Kris knew what he was asking. “We tried that a couple of times. You’re wolf brain doesn’t seem to like it very much.”
“Hm.” Olli feel silent again, looking thoughtful. “I wonder if it would work if I was on top.”
Kris could practically hear his mind turning in the dark. He reached out, finding an elbow, stroking the skin there.
Olli shivered and scooted closer. “Do you wanna try that next time?”
“That’s up to you, Olli.”
Olli said nothing.
“You know, you can call me even when you’re not just in your post change heat or whatever. We’ve talked about it before.”
Olli hummed non-committedly.
Kris sighed and reached out, dragging Olli closer. “It’s okay to want both. You never talk about it. Everyone sees how put together you are, they forget about the stupid shit too, like that you’re still a kid figuring things out.”
“Not a kid.”
Kris laughed, “Fine. I’m still getting my shit together and I’m more advanced in my career than you. It’s okay to not be 100% figured out all the time.”
Kris would have laughed if Olli hadn’t sounded so miserable about it. He tried not to sigh. “Do you mind if I stay tonight?”
Olli scoffed, “It was never an option for you to not stay tonight.”
“You’re a little shit.”
“Hm.” Olli pushed up closer. He nuzzled at a tender spot on Kris’ neck, one of Olli’s favorite places to sink in his teeth. He kissed it gently. “How was the All Star Game?”
Kris laughed, “Great. You’ll get invited to one someday.”
“Was John Scott as cool as he looked on TV?”
“Cooler. Everyone was cool. I think it was one of those years were everyone just came together to support each other after all the shit that’s happened this season.”
Olli hummed, his eyes closing. “Where’s Geno?”
Kris snorted, “He’s staying in Nashville another night. He said something about hanging out with Nealer one more day.”
Olli laughed, then paused. “Do you really talk about me with your wife?”
“She loves it.”
“Gross, no more please.”
“You asked.” Kris paused, “Is this a Daddy thing?”
“You can tell me. I think that what’s happening here is already weird, so no one’s going to judge you if you have a Daddy Kink too.”
“I was starting to feel better, you’re ruining it.”
Kris laughed softly.
The silence finally felt comfortable as they dozed off to sleep.
Chapter 6: Carey & Alex - Optional Skate
Carey stops in at optional skate with a surprise for the team.
Carey stopped by the practice arena one day, just as the guys were getting ready for an optional skate.
Everyone got up to greet him, pulling him into hugs and thumping him on the back. When PK was overly excited in hugging him, Patch shooed him off. “Let’s not aggravate anything here. Our main man’s not even on skates yet, guys.” He said, casting a pointed look at PK, who sulked.
Carey smiled, “They said I’m good for walking around. Trainers want me to work it out. No skates yet though.”
There were some hopeful hums around the room.
Gally, who was only half dressed was poking at his phone nervously. He looked up at Carey. “Did you see Chuckie on your way in?”
Carey nodded, “Yeah, that’s kinda why I’m here. I got a bit of an odd phone call this morning…”
They all turned when a whine sounded from outside of the door, followed by scratching noises. Brendan’s eyes widened. “No.”
“Yup,” Carey said happily, pulling the door open.
A very happy looking Alex was standing there in wolf form, head cocked slightly. He took a slow look around the room, locked his eyes on Gally and charged at him.
Gally, who had been standing at the time, let out an “Ouf” as Alex tackled him. They collapsed into a pile on the floor, wrestling. For the moment, Alex was on top. Some of the Russian players looked on, encouraging him.
“Come on guys,” Brendan whined.
Alex barely nipped his jaw, causing Brendan to yelp.
“That’s not fair, I would never try to bite you, you weirdo.”
Condon was looking at them skeptically, “I wouldn’t if I were you. You’d come out with a mouthful of hair.”
Brendan shot him a look, “Thanks Condibear, that would have NEVER OCCURRED TO ME.”
Laughter rippled across the room. It was nice to see most of the guys on time for optional skate this morning.
Patch turned back to Carey, “This okay with the guys upstairs?”
Carey nodded, “Yeah, they were the first people I called. They don’t mind. They don’t want it to become a regular thing, but I explained to them that it was his regularly schedule change. They felt a little better about that.”
Patch hummed, then turned towards the boys. “Brendan, you’re wearing skates you idiot. Take it easy.”
Alex was startled by Patch’s voice. It was enough for Brendan to reverse their position. Alex yelped and the Russian’s sighed in disappointment. You didn’t need to know Russian to know that the things they were calling over to Alex were obvious chirps.
Carey looked over at them. “Coach said that Alex can go on the ice before practice if you guys are ready.”
One second Brendan had been hovering over him, with all four of Alex’s legs pushing against his chest, the next he was in his stall, throwing on equipment. Alex looked stunned. Brendan had never been ready sooner, the two of running out onto the ice together.
“Someone should probably—“
“Yeah,” Carey said, turning to Patch. “I got it, you guys finish getting ready.”
Carey made his way over to the rink, pulling his jacket around him a little tighter. On the ice, Alex had his claws extended, somehow out much further than Price suspected he could make on his own. Brendan was laying on his stomach, laughing and poking Alex with his stick.
Alex looked determined, ducking his head and slowly made his way over to Brendan.
Brendan realized his mistake too late, trying to roll out of Alex’s reach. He wasn’t quick enough, Alex leapt at Brendan, landing on top of him.
“Skates!” Carey called across the ice.
They both swung their head to look at him sheepishly. Carey couldn’t help but smile at the pair of them.
Brendan found some pucks and began passing them at Alex. This was a safer game. Alex pawed at the offending pucks, jumping out of their way. He barked at one of them that had hit his paw, glaring up at Brendan.
There were sounds coming from the hall. Some of the boys in full equipment hit the ice. One after another, they skated hard at Alex and stopped just short of him, snowing him.
Alex whined, ducking his head after the fifth and last guy, making his way back to Carey, ears flat against his head.
Carey laughed and sat down on the stoop of the bench door. Alex butted Carey with his head, looking miserable. “You were asking for it. You knew something like this would happen.” Carey told him.
Alex made some noises and let Carey brush the snow off that had caked itself into his fur. Alex sat between Carey’s legs, resting his chin on Carey’s thigh. Carey rubbed him down, warming him up. He pulled his hand back in disgust, wet fur coating it. He sighed, “You’re going to stink up my truck.”
Alex swung his head up to look at Carey apologetically. Carey leaned down to scratch Alex’s chin, who licked at him fondly. “You’re fine,” Carey assured him.
The clicking of skates echoed in the hall behind them. They both turned to see Coach Therrien making his way over, stick in hand. He took a curious look at Alex.
“Galchenyuk?” he asked in his thick accent.
Carey nodded. Alex let out a little bark.
Therrien smiled and used the other door to get out. He called the players over to him, who grumbled about it still being too early to start.
Alex watched them soulfully. His side twitched and he scratched it. Carey looked down at him. “You ready to change back?”
Alex stood and shook himself out, stretching. He padded his way back to the room.
A couple minutes later, Brendan skated over to him. “Where did Chuckie go?”
“To change back. Give him a bit, I left some clothes for him in the room.”
Brendan looked at him funny, “Um, can Alex open the door as a wolf?”
Carey cursed. Brendan hopped the boards, “I’ve gotta go back for my water bottle. I’ll make sure he gets in okay.”
Carey stood, “That’s not a good idea. I don’t want you to find him changing.”
Brendan cracked the door to the hallway, listening. “I think we’re good, I don’t hear anything.”
Carey hesitated, then nodded. Brendan bounded off down the hall. Carey kicked himself. He probably shouldn't let Brendan go, but it was too late now.
PK skated over to him. “You think you’ll be back soon?”
Carey tried his best to offer a reassuring smile, “I hope. I miss it.” They looked around the ice together. “How is Patch doing as Captain?”
PK smiled, “He’s doing his best. You can see him struggling. We started the season with 9 straight wins. Now well, you know.”
Carey made a noise in his throat. He knew. He knew and he felt it everyday. He looked at Condon, who had been forced to carry the weight of the team on a year where he was just supposed to be learning and acclimatizing to the NHL. That on top of his own injury, the train wreck of events that had lead to the crack down on regulations surrounding wolves and then the public outing of Nicklas Backstrom. What a disaster this season was.
PK must have sensed where his thoughts had gone. He wasn’t a hard person to read. He clapped Carey on the back. “Cheer up Pricey. Are we ever going to see you in wolf form out with the team?”
Carey snorted, “Hell no. I was surprised that Alex wanted to do it. He must really trust you guys.”
PK looked mock offended, “And you don’t?”
Carey laughed, “I’m trying my best not to change while injured.”
PK frowned, “Is that healthy?”
“Nope, not at all.” Called a disapproving voice from behind them. Carey and PK turned towards the hallway door to see Alex dressed in full equipment, followed closely by a very happy looking Brendan.
Carey arched an eyebrow at them, “Did it go okay?”
Alex snorted and pushed past Carey into the ice.
“Hey, we took my truck here.” Carey called. “Do I have to wait for you now?”
Brendan pushed a little bit more gracefully passed the vets. “I can drive him home if you want.”
Carey nodded in thanks. He gripped Brendan’s jersey as he started skating away. Alex turned as Brendan yelped, looking at Carey suspiciously. “Did he… try anything when you went in to see him?”
Brendan frowned, “What do you mean?”
Carey let him go, “Nothing, go have fun.”
Alex was frowning at him. He shot Carey one last look before skating off with Brendan to go join the group. As they took a knee to watch Coach draw out some of the drills, the boys smacked their sticks on the ice in greeting. Alex flushed with pride.
PK and Carey watched them fondly. Carey sighed. PK gave him a questioning look.
Carey shrugged, “Bad year for wolves. Bad year for Canadiens. It’s nice to see the guys support him like that.”
PK nodded, “We support you too.”
Carey reached over and clapped a hand on PK’s shoulders. “I know you do. I was just thinking of Backie. He’s a good guy and the media had a field day with him. The media ripped me apart in my first couple of seasons here. Imagine if they knew I was a wolf?”
PK paused. “Imagine if you were black, do we have any black wolves in the league?”
Carey thought about it, “No, I guess we don’t.”
PK shrugged, “I wonder why. I wonder if there are any that just didn’t register.”
Carey frowned, “That could never happen. The NHL is too strict to miss something like that.”
PK laughed, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
Chapter 7: Andre & Nicky - Like A Bandaid
After a hard practice, all Nicky wanted to do was go home and sleep. So of course his plans would be ruined by a special surprise that takes up the rest of his day.
After a hard practice, Nicky had every intention of going home to rest that day. And he would have, if Andre Burakovsky hadn’t burst into his path looking wide eyed and scared.
Nicky and Andre hadn’t spoken much since Nicky came out to his team as a wolf. He’d constantly felt Andre’s sad eyes following him around the room, quickly looking away whenever Nicky tried to make eye contact. They never spoke about it.
There was no problem with eye contact now. Nicky was startled by his appearance, sweaty and panting. “Burkie?”
“Nicky!” Andre panted, nearly collapsing into Nicky’s arms. That’s when Nicky smelt it. With Andre so close to him, his skin so hot and putting off signs that a change was coming, everything made sense.
“You’re a wolf.” Nicky said. It wasn’t a question.
Andre whined, nodding his head, eyes closed.
“You’re changing. Shit, you’re changing.” Nicky said, reaching up to put a hand on Andre’s sweat covered forehead. Definitely much hotter than any normal human being would be able to survive through.
“Please help me.” Andre said, looking scared.
Nicky nodded and lead Andre to his car. It was snowing out, but Andre didn’t seem to feel it. Nicky helped him into the front seat and buckled him in. “Do I need to tell anyone that you’ve left?”
Andre shook his head. “I told them I wanted to stay behind to work out. Said I’d take a cab.”
Nicky nodded and closed the door. He pulled out of the parking lot, thinking hard to himself. Deciding, he started making his way to this usual spot for changes.
“You good, Burkie?”
Andre let out a shuddering breath, “Yeah.”
Nicky tightened his grip on the steering wheel. He glanced over at Andre, whose awkward frame was curling in on itself, making grotesque popping noises. Nicky felt bad for him, but realized the stupidity that had forced this situation. He leaned over and rubbed Andre’s arm reassuringly. “Try to focus on the car and the sounds it’s making. Don’t focus on your body.”
Andre nodded and closed his eyes.
The drive was shorter from the arena than it was from Nicky’s house. It would still be a good thirty minutes. “How long has it been?”
Andre grit his teeth. “Too long.”
Nicky blinked, “How is that possible?”
Andre shot him a look. “I don’t have a car. I don’t have a place to hide. I do what I have to.”
Nicky pressed his lips into a thin line, “Didn’t work for you today, did it?
Andre let out a moan. Nicky tried to soften his voice. “I’m sorry Burkie. I’m kind of impressed that you were able to hide it for so long.”
Andre let out a shuddering breath. Nicky glanced over at him, “Does it help to talk to you?”
Nicky smiled, “On the bright side, this is going to be one of the fastest changes of your life. You can’t change on command, can you?”
Andre shook his head, “I can push it back though. I’ve always had to hide. I change when I need to. Mom and Dad hid me in the basement.”
Nicky made a sound in the back of his throat, “Why? Why not just register?”
Andre looked at him with sad eyes, “They used to kill wolves where I’m from.” He sounded so young. Nicky couldn’t imagine what kind of pressure that would put on a young wolf. How the fuck had this kid made it to the NHL through all that?
Nicky said nothing, just reached over to rub soothing circles into the skin of Andre’s arm. Andre focused on that and took some shuddering breaths. “Where are we going?”
Nicky sighed, “To the spot I always use.”
Andre nodded, opening his eyes. He looked over at Nicky’s rigid body posture. “Thank you.”
Nicky said nothing, just kept his eyes on the road, thinking everything over. He didn’t know Andre as a wolf. He was pretty young, didn’t have good control over his changes. Nicky did know Andre as a person, and he was amazing. He looked over at the kid next to him, who had his eyes closed again, focusing on his breathing.
“Do you want me to change with you?” Nicky said quietly, surprising even himself. He was not one to change and hang with other wolves.
Andre perked up a little. “Um.” He looked a little unsure. Nicky was about to retract his offer when a smile broke across Andre’s face. “God, yes. I’ve never changed with another wolf before.” He looked almost teary, if not a little overwhelmed.
Nicky smiled. They were about ten minutes away from the farmhouse now. “This is why you’ve been avoiding me, isn’t it?”
Andre gave him a sad look, “I’m sorry.”
“And why you moved out of Latts’ and Willie’s apartment?”
Andre blushed, “Yeah, plus they are sickly in love and it made me feel like a third wheel.”
Nicky laughed at that last bit, “I think we all suspected it.”
Andre let out a laugh, then winced. “Yeah, and they think they’re being subtle.”
Andre let out a whimper and folded himself in half, wrapping his arms around himself. Nicky patted Andre’s back. “We’re here.”
He pulled into the long driveway. At the house stood a startled looking couple, definitely older in years, who Nicky recognized as the landowners. Nicky bit his lip as Andre’s body continued to pop and shift. Bad news. “I’m going to talk to them. You get as far into the forest as you can, follow the path. Don’t run, try not to make noises.”
Andre nodded. They climbed out of the car, Andre going straight into the patch of forest surrounded by farmland. Nicky walked over to the couple, waving amicably.
They chatted for a while. Nicky had really only spoken to them over the phone, and they seemed nice. Surprised to see him here during the daylight hours. Nicky politely explained that his friend felt more comfortable going through the change during the day. They looked pretty impressed. They’d never met a wolf in real life before and now there were two on their property. Nicky smiled politely at that.
After a couple minutes of idol chitchat, Nicky excused himself to go for his run. The couple smiled, wishing him a good time. The last part made Nicky chuckle to himself. He had no clue what he was getting himself into with this one.
It was not hard to find Andre, a trail of clothing leading right to a clearing in which he found an awkward, lanky wolf laying on his side, panting heavily.
Nicky approached slowly, trying not to startle him. No such luck, in his wolf form, Andre had advanced hearing and better smell. Nicky had always wondered about that. How could he stand in front of another wolf for years and never know it?
Experts chalked it up to the body’s natural defense systems, helping to better hide from those who could hurt him. Ironic that he had been hiding from his friend.
Andre perked up. Nicky stopped and crouched, letting Andre decide what he wanted to do. Andre stared at him from his sprawled out position. The snow fell more softly here with the trees sheltering them, but a thin layer still covered the ground. Andre rolled himself onto his stomach, looking up at Nicky.
Nicky looked him over, looking for any sign of danger from the young wolf. All he saw was intelligent eyes looking back at him, fully in control. Nick let out a sigh of relief.
Andre pushed himself up and ambled over to Nicky, head down, tired. He pushed against Nicky, nuzzling his arms until one draped over his back. Andre licked at his chin, whining slightly.
Submissive. That was good, that worked with Nicky, who was always a little bit bossier as a wolf. At least, that’s what Alex always told him. Even though Andre was pushing into his space, Nicky didn’t mind. He was warm. Nicky pulled Andre between his thighs, rubbing his haunches. Andre was making happy noises, rubbing his head goofily along anything he could touch of Nicky.
Finally Nicky stood. Andre cocked his head, looking sad at his absence. Nicky just laughed, “I’m going to change. You stay here.” He said it twice for good measure, knowing sometimes the words could get jumbled up when you were in wolf form, especially when you were young.
Andre dipped his head understandingly.
Nicky forced his change much faster than he normally would, trying to get out of the cold. It hurt more than usual, his body not prepped for the change. The cold didn’t help and it was relatively close too the date of his last change. Despite that, he made it happen.
He was exhausted, but pushed through it. He gathered Andre’s clothing off the path in his mouth and dumped it in the snow next to his own. He would regret it later, but right now he just didn’t want to have to worry about looking for his clothes when it was time to change back.
Burkie was sitting exactly where Nicky had left him, perking up when he saw Nicky. There was a tense moment when they both stood there, staring at each other. It was broken by the swinging of Andre’s tail, timid at first and then full on in excitement.
Nicky huffed, thinking to himself that this was going to be an exhausting day. Andre collided his him, trying to instigate a wrestling match. Nicky was too old for this and too tired. He barked a warning at Andre, who promptly ignored it.
Nicky snarled and sank his teeth into the thick skin of Andre’s neck, pulling hard until Andre yelped. Nicky let him go.
Andre sulked off across the clearing, sitting down in a huff with his back to Nicky, whining softly to himself.
If Nicky was human, he would have rolled his eyes. He went over to Andre slowly, prodding at his neck with his nose, sniffing for blood.
The cold bump of Nicky’s nose against Andre’s blazing skin cause Andre to jump, shooting a glare at him. Nicky chuffed out an apology, licking Andre’s neck sweetly.
Andre didn’t look impressed, but he flopped over onto his side, partly under Nicky. Nick was surprised again. For someone who had no interactions with other wolves and no mentor or training, Andre was surprisingly submissive, taking all of his leads from Nicky.
Nicky poked him with his nose, embarrassed and pleased by Andre’s action. He prodded Andre to his feet. Together, they tore off down the path.
Andre is slightly bigger than Nicky, and leaner. Nicky has more experience though, and they push themselves. Nicky’s never had reason to challenge himself like this before and he’s pretty sure Andre had never had the opportunity to run free like this. That thought made Nicky sad, a lifetime of hiding who you were. He didn’t want that for anyone.
Nicky didn’t realize where they were going until they got there, both of their bodies crashing through the meadow where he and Alex usually finished their runs. It had taken half the time to get there as it normally did, both of them going at full speed.
Andre chuffed, breathing heavily but looking so damn happy. Nicky couldn’t help but feel a little proud. Until he saw confusion flash across Andre’s eyes as he set to work sniffing around the clearing.
His and Alex’s scents were everywhere. Andre whipped his head up, eyes wide, staring at Nicky who could have died of embarrassment. Actually, what he felt was possessiveness over the memories that he and Alex had shared here.
Andre must has seen something in Nicky’s eyes because he made a whining sound and promptly ran off. Nicky chuffed and followed the kid.
They jogged all the way back to their clothing together. That was a problem because Andre couldn’t change back by himself, whining against the crisp air. Nicky huffed and laid down, curling up into a ball against the cold.
Andre nosed at his neck, as if asking for permission.
Nicky looked up at him with tired eyes and jerked his head.
Andre made a little happy noise low in his throat. He curled up around Nicky, shoving his head between the two of them, out of the wind. Nicky shifted his body, blocking Andre a little bit better from the cold.
It was quite endearing, having a younger wolf curled up sleeping next to him. They laid like that uninterrupted for a long time, just enjoying the heat and company of one another. That was until one of Andre’s legs shot out, getting Nicky in the stomach. He coughed as best as a wolf could, scrambling out of the way as Andre started changing back.
Nicky took that as his queue to allow his own body to reverse the change. They both finished around the same time, naked and shivering against the wind.
Andre looked flushed as he slipped into his cold clothing. The affect of the cold clothing against their skin was immediate. The usual arousal the filled Nicky after a change was temporarily lost in his desperation to warm himself. That was interesting, Nicky would have to remember that for later.
They ran for the car, Nicky fumbling with the car keys on the way. They got in and turned it on, blasting the heat. They only really needed it to warm their clothing back to room temperature, their skin still blazing from the change.
They sat there in silence, until Andre moaned. Nicky recognized the flush of his cheeks and neck, the slightly glazed look in his eyes. He frowned at Andre, “No jerking off in my car.”
Andre became impossibly red, “I’m sorry. This always happens, I don’t know how to make it stop.”
Nicky blinked in surprise, then bit out a laugh. Andre whined at him, “It’s not funny.”
Nicky bit his lip, “You’re right, it’s not. That happens to everyone, Burkie. No one knows why. They say it’s because your blood gets pumping, affects everything.”
Andre looked startled. Nicky felt for him, it must have been awful going your whole life, thinking you are wrong. Andre pouted and looked at Nicky, “Why isn’t it affecting you?”
Nicky sighed and put the car into reverse, “It does. I’m just a little bit older and know how to control it.”
“I don’t wanna control it.” Andre said, pulling his knees up and sulking.
“No jerking off in my car,” Nicky repeated.
“You’ve said that,” Burkie snapped.
Nicky sighed, this was going to be a long drive.
After about fifteen minutes of silence, Andre had mostly settled down.
Nicky cleared his throat, but Andre interrupted him. “I know. Will you help me?”
Nicky looked over at him. “Of course, Burkie.”
He reached over and rubbed a hand over Andre’s knee. Andre reached up and covered it with one of his own. He closed his eyes, looking exhausted. He was too young to feel this alone and lost.
Nicky kept his hand between Andre’s knee and hand. Andre started doodling patterns on the back of it absent mindedly as they discussed how to best go about this.
What ever happened, Nicky promised that they would go through it together. The next day, they went to Trotz together. Trotz listened to them, asking the occasional question, then made a couple of careful phone calls.
They were both called into a meeting with all of upper management. The important part was that they started with someone who knew and loved them personally, who would defend them.
They had done the right thing in going to Trotz, because defend them he did. Andre sat quietly until he was asked to explain his story for the forth time that day.
Andre told them about how when he was young, the people of his town would kill anyone who presented themselves as a wolf. It had only happened once, but his parents had been worried enough that when Andre did just that at thirteen, his parents had hid him.
Once Andre was out of the country, he had meant to come out, but there was never a good enough time. Eventually, in waiting for the right opportunity, it had become too late.
He had been going to this season, until the incident involving Carey Price came to light. Then Nicky was outted to the media. They decided to omit the part where Nicky had to drive him to the country for an emergency change, instead telling them that Andre sought out Nicky’s help to fix this.
The story drew sympathetic nods from around the table. Then they were dismissed. Management would take this to the league, and the decision would be made there. All that was left to do was wait.
Downstairs, the team was all waiting for them.
“Well?” Alex asked impatiently.
Andre struggled, “It’s going to the league to process. Nothing we can do until they make their decision.”
Alex huffed and patted Andre on the shoulder, “No worries, Burkie. You’re our baby pup. We’ve got you.”
The team nodded along with him.
Tom stepped forwards. “Does this mean you can come back and live with us?” He asked, looking hopeful.
Andre let out a watery laugh. Nicky was startled, having not realized that Burkie was tearing up at the team’s support. “Um, no. And we have some things we should talk about. In private. Later.” He added as guys on the team leaned in to hear better.
In the background, Latts eyes grew a little wider, his mouth forming a silent “Oh shit.”
Nicky looked over at him and gave him a knowing look.
Someone yelled at them from down the hall. They all turned to see a very angry looking Trotz storming towards them, face turning an alarming shade of red.
“Oh shit,” Latts said again, this time out loud.
The team busted a sprint, racing off to the dressing room where they were supposed to be getting ready for their pregame exercises before a big game that night.
Nicky and Burkie exchanged a look from across the room. Nicky had always been a leader, and now he had someone who truly needed leading. Someone who needed guidance. It was a nice feeling, to be needed. He promised himself that he would look after Burkie and help him grow. Andre gave him a shy smile, as if he could hear Nicky’s thoughts. Nicky smiled back, then went to work lacing up his skates.
Chapter 8: Lucic & Price - Doesn't Quite Fit
Carey gets a call from an long time rival and fellow wolf. And thus, our last wolf is introduced.
Lucic called Price the moment the story broke the news.
A grunt, “Lucic.”
Lucic smiled, “Don’t be like that.”
“I watched the last game you played against my team.”
The sound Price made suggested he might have disagreed.
“Did you see the news today?”
Price sounded tired, “Yeah, I did. I was also on the phone with Nicky last night. He had spoken to Tyler the day before, so I got filled in earlier.”
Lucic grunted, not really surprised but still a little hurt. No one ever called him when it came to taking care of the younger wolves in the league. Maybe they were using him as a ‘what not to do’ scenario. “Two wolves, Price. Two. Shit, I played with Tyler. How the hell do we keep missing these things?”
“Yeah, who’d have known. I was worried about keeping my wolf status out of the media as a registered wolf, but here we have two unregistered ones, playing professional hockey.”
“With other wolves on their teams.” Lucic laughed, “Good for them.”
He heard Price give a heavy sigh over the phone, “I knew you’d say something like that.”
Lucic sighed, “Being out sucks. You hate it. I hate it. My team still hasn’t quite settled—“
“What?” Price’s voice was sharp. Angry even?
“It’s nothing. Quick is cool, he’s got a cousin who’s a wolf. Some of the other guys are still adjusting.”
“They’ve had months.” Price bristled.
“Yeah well,” a rough laugh, “I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself.”
Price was quiet at that. Then he let out a heavy sigh, “This is all because of me.”
Lucic rolled his eyes, switching ears as he readjusted his grip on the phone. “Don’t start that again.”
“Everyone loses control once or twice. Or three… or four times. Remember that time in Montreal?”
“I try not to.”
“I punched my way through the wall.”
“Then you heard and walked in?”
“Yes.” Price sounded exasperated, “Yes, let’s not talk about it.”
“That was some stupid shit. You should not have come into that room with me.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t change. It wasn’t a problem, we were equipped to deal with it.”
“Were you equipped to deal with the part where I fucked you?”
“That did not happen.”
“Sorry, we just jerked each other off.”
“That was one time.”
Lucic felt himself smile. He loved how much Price hated the reminder of it. He could still remember the look on Price’s face, fighting for dominance, fucking blissed out, loving every part of it. Price had hated the aftermath. Swollen lips, beard burn, bruises, regret. Lucic never hated those parts.
“We should do that again sometime.”
A snort, “I’m married now.”
Lucic made a noise in his throat.
He heard Price sigh heavily over the line. There was some light murmuring, undistinguishable to even Lucic, then some static. Price came through the line clear again, “Did you call just to taunt me?”
“No, I suppose not.”
A pause, “So is there anything else?”
Lucic wasn’t quite ready to let him go, “Do you have someone waiting up for you?”
Another pause, “Not really, I guess.”
Silence. Lucic cleared his throat, “We should try running together again.”
Price laughed, “Last time we did that I got bit.”
Lucic smiled, “You gave it back as hard as you got it.”
Maybe that’s why Lucic liked Price so much. He was strong, a leader in his own rights. Price didn’t allow himself to be pushed around. As much as Lucic tried, he never was able to get a head up on Price. Price never tried to assert his dominance over Lucic, which made him the ideal person to change with.
Price also wasn’t afraid of Lucic the way the younger wolves were. In the eyes of everyone else, Lucic wasn’t made to be a leader the way that Backy, Giroux and Price naturally assumed the position. Price was the only one who seemed to check in on him, kept him updated on things and sought out his opinion. He was the only one who recognized that Lucic really did need to feel involved and did so without making him feel weak.
“When my knee heals, we can plan a run. I’m not doing it before then.”
Lucic frowned, “You think I’m going to hurt you or something?”
Price was non-pulsed, “No, I’m just holding off changing before my knee gets better.”
“What?” Lucic snapped. He sat down on one of the arms of his couches.
A sigh, “Don’t start with me, everyone else is giving me shit about it—“
“They fucking should be. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, did a doctor tell you to do that?”
Another sigh. Price sounded tired, “No, they didn’t. Last time I changed, it messed up my knee more. I’m not risking that again.”
“You mean right after you injured it.”
“Fuck, Price. That’s way different. That change was uncontrolled right after the injury. That wasn’t your fault. You need to change, aren’t you showing signs? How the hell did you make it this long without a change?”
“I have self control.”
“That’s stupid. You know this is stupid.”
“I do not. I’m making excellent progress.”
Lucic frowned. He had hoped that this phone call would lighten his mood. There was already enough shit going on in the league this year with wolves, they really didn’t need anything else. “You’re not irritable? Aggressive? How about, sore, swollen joints, what about the push? Can’t you feel yourself clawing to get out?” Lucic paused, “How have you not changed in your sleep?”
“I’m fine,” Price snapped.
Lucic pressed his lips into a thin line. “Whatever, Price. After the playoffs though, we’re getting together for a run. Whether you’re ready for it or not.”
It was quiet over the line. Lucic actually had to check to make sure that Price hadn’t hung up on him. “Hello?”
If he listened hard, he could hear breathing on the other end. “Yeah, okay.”
Lucic smiled, “Okay. I’ll support you through it Pricer. I always do.”
A hum. Price didn’t even tell him off for using his nickname. “We should have a huge get together. All of the wolves, outside of the NHL. They never let us run together at the NHL pre-season wolf conferences.”
Lucic snorted, “They would never allow that.”
“Then we won’t ask. We’re all adults, we’ll do it outside of the season.”
Lucic arched an eyebrow, “Wow, Price. Breaking the rules.”
A quiet laugh, “Yeah, sure.” A pause, “Don’t you have to get ready for a game soon?”
Lucic checked his clock, “We’re at home tonight, so I’ve got a couple hours until I have to head out.”
A grunt, “We’ve got the night off.”
There was some banging around on the other end, then a clatter that made Lucic wince. “Sorry,” Price said with a curse.
“How Canadian of you.”
A laugh, “Some of us have held on to our manner through this.”
Lucic snorted, “I’m polite.”
“Sure,” Price said absentmindedly. “How is it that there are about 75 wolves in the whole of the United States, and we’ve got 8 in the NHL?”
Lucic paused, “Only one is American.”
“Yeah, but 4 are Canadian.”
“Canada has way less people than the US does.”
“Yeah, and we aren’t far behind them in wolves. What is it, 57 for us?”
Lucic grunted, “Something like that. Maybe they like the cold.”
A laugh, “Maybe.”
“You got wolf blood in your family?”
“Somewhere far back. Mom’s side.”
“Hm, my grandfather was one.”
Price made a pitying sound that made Lucic wince, “I know. I’ve heard the stories.”
The media didn’t know Lucic was a wolf, but everyone knew that his grandfather was one. Countless reporters speculated that Lucic shared the gene, aggressive and always a looming figure on the ice. Though he never confirmed it, they still assumed.
His grandfather had been one of the rare cases in which a wolf went mad. He’d gotten dementia in his old age and ended up killing a young couple. He was shot in his wolf form and killed. It wasn’t a nice story. Lucic thought that was part of the reason that everyone was so afraid of him. At times, he really couldn’t blame them.
Price cleared his throat, “Let’s plan to make that run then. You said after playoffs?”
Lucic appreciated the change of subject, “Yeah. We’re close to clinching, that’ll take some of the edge off.”
Price snorted, “Last I checked we have a 5% change of getting a playoff spot.”
Lucic winced, “I’m sorry.”
A sigh, “Yeah. It sucks. I don’t think I’ll be ready before the playoffs.”
That surprised Lucic. He’d only heard about how hard Price was trying to get himself ready to finish the season. “Shit.”
Lucic walked over to his window, looking out. An audible crash was heard over the line. Price let out a soft curse.
“Um, what was that?”
Another curse, “Okay, we’ll have to finish this conversation later. I’ve got Alex over. We’re trying to teach him to change whenever he wants instead of just whenever his body forces it.”
He was surprised Price had stayed with him on the phone this long with a young wolf trying to change in the middle of his home. Lucic did not miss those days. “How’s he doing with it?”
A sigh, “He’s doing fine. Hurts like hell the first couple of times you force it though. He’s clawing through my carpet.”
“Dogs are outside?”
Carey laughed, “Oh course. They’ve met Alex before though, we use my backyard to change all of the time. He can’t do it in his apartment.”
Lucic grunted in sympathy. Another crash. Carey sighed, “I really do have to go now.”
“Give the kid my best.”
“I will, bye Looch.”
Lucic smiled as the phone went dead.
Chapter 9: Tyler - A (Cat)astrophe
Tyler faces his hardest challenge yet.
There were meetings. Thousands of meetings. Tyler met with high up NHL officials and management, government employees, his team’s management, then finally, his team. The meetings where he was alone were the worst, but his team had been the most supportive.
Of course there was backlash. Canadian officials had wanted to deport him for a hearing. The NHL wanted both him and Andre to serve suspensions. Both actions would have led to their Wolf status being exposed, which was a violation of their rights. Instead, they were both issued heavy fines by the NHL as a breach of their contracts, which explicitly stated that they weren’t wolves. Tyler would have to do minor community service during the offseason in Canada with other Wolves as part of a mentoring program.
Andre’s story was a little more sad. Officials from his country had wanted him home immediately and it took quite a bit of talking down and a number of lawyers to ensure that he wasn’t deported. His hometown was now under investigation and he and his parents were facing a lot of hate from those in their community. Last Tyler heard, Andre was trying to get them to come live in Washington.
There were good things that came out of this too. The NHL was not going to force another conference for the wolves this close to playoffs. They’d decided that if everyone had managed until this point, they could easily wait until their regularly scheduled one. That was good. It made Tyler feel like he was causing fewer waves with this whole mess.
He had also found an unexpected friend in Andre, who had called him a number of times after the whole incident. Tyler had felt bad at first, as Andre had a legitimate reason to not register as a wolf in his country, whereas Tyler had not been registered so that he would have more opportunities in his life. Andre didn’t see it that way though. He was just happy to have someone who knew what he was going through. They had even set up a time to go for a run together, although Nicky had said that he would be there to supervise.
Tyler felt a slight pang of jealousy at that. Andre had Nicky to help him through all of this. Tyler had his team, who were all incredibly supportive, but none of them where wolves. He wasn’t alone though.
Right now, he was curled up next to Jamie on the couch. Dallas was hot, even during this time of year. They had moved on to the second round of the playoffs, about to face off against the Blues. Tyler was miserable, still injured and out of the game, but at least he had moments like these.
They were at Jamie’s, the TV on idly in the background. Tyler was just glad he didn’t have to change. Fur coats sucked in Dallas.
The league and his organization had warned him against changing around other player and to go to them whenever he needed to. As wonderful as that sounded in theory, Tyler had done it once and never went back. It had been cold and impersonal. He had sat in a room with strangers, people who weren’t wolves who claimed to be experts.
The other wolves in the league had been supportive and encouraged him to call them whenever he needed. Despite how great that was, they were all so far away.
Jamie had been the leading support in his life here in Dallas. Whenever Tyler needed to change, Jamie offered to go with him, or to let Tyler use his apartment so he didn’t freak out the dogs too much. Whatever Tyler wanted, even if it was just space.
Tyler didn’t mean to be so needy, but after a lifetime of hiding who he was, he couldn’t hold it in anymore. Whenever he changed, he pushed up against Jamie, demanding attention. He bumped him with his head, pawed at him, nibbled him, everything he had never been able to do to another person before as a wolf. Jamie endured it all with a smile. It wasn’t just a captain thing. Tyler desperately hoped it wasn’t just a friend thing either.
They’d been trying out a relationship on the down low. Jordie was the only one who knew, as Tyler and Jamie spent a lot of time in their home. It had been Jamie who had helped him come out after news that an unregistered wolf was playing in the NHL broke across the league. Tyler wasn’t sure he would have been able to do it on his own.
Tyler had taken his punishments and endured all of the hearings with grace. It was now though, that Tyler faced his greatest challenge.
He turned his head around for the hundredth time since arriving that afternoon in the direction of the window. Where he knew it would be sitting, watching, waiting for a moment of weakness.
Sure enough, it was still there. Hideous as ever, lips drawn up in a snarl. That stupid fucking cat that Jamie had insisted on adopting. Tyler whined as it watched them through the glass, tail swishing.
Jamie reached up and squeezed the back of Tyler’s neck soothingly. “Just ignore it, Ty. It’s outside.”
Tyler huffed and turned back towards the TV, trying his best. He knew that Jamie didn’t mean to insult him like this, bringing that creature into his house. He sighed and focused his attention forwards, but he couldn’t concentrate.
Jamie looked over at him. He sighed and paused the TV, “What’s up Tyler? I know that you’re not just being pissy because of the cat.”
Tyler kept his eyes stubbornly on the paused television, “Oh, I can just be pissy about the cat.”
He could feel Jamie’s eyes searching him. He didn’t particularly like the feeling, as it was neither praising or appreciative. Jamie shifted his body to face Tyler more fully. “You know, just because I got a cat, doesn’t mean I’m a different person. It’s a cat, Ty.”
“I feel like I don’t even know you anymore. A cat? Seriously?” Tyler said, pouting.
Jamie snorted out a laugh, “Yeah, a cat. You’re a dog person, and I’m a cat person.”
Tyler didn’t look at him, “No Jamie. I am not just a dog person. I am a wolf. Wolves and cats don’t get along. You bringing a cat into a space that I used to feel safe in is like telling me I’m not welcome here.” Tyler scrunched his nose and looked around, “I can almost smell it, marking up my territory.”
Jamie stared at him. Then he stared laughing. “Is that what this is about? You think that I’m slowly trying to get rid of you? That the cat is trying to drive you out?”
Tyler groaned and pulled his knees up and buried his face in them. He knew how crazy it sounded, but he could feel the way that the fucking cat looked at him all of the time. Tyler felt Jamie’s hand slide across his back, rubbing soothing circles between his shoulder blades.
“Tyler…” Jamie’s voice was gentle. Tyler didn’t look up.
Jamie slid a hand onto Tyler’s thigh. “Ty.” His voice was sharp. Tyler looked up. Jamie was giving him the most intense look, one that made him shiver. Jamie pulled Tyler’s leg open. Their knees knocked together. Jamie didn’t move his hand from the sensitive skin on the inside of his thigh by his knee. Tyler shivered.
Jamie’s gaze was burning. “I like the cat. I like you more.” He slid his hand up a bit, drawing a small gasp from Tyler. Jamie smiled, “I like how you call me to come over when you need to change. I like when you tell me off for blowing on your face when you’re a wolf. I like when you change back, and you’re so embarrassed and needy.” Jamie said. With each word his hand slid further up Tyler’s thigh. Tyler’s breathing sped up, his throat dry and constricting.
Tyler swallowed, “Yeah?”
Jamie leaned closer slightly, “Yes Tyler. The cat is not going to change any of that.”
Tyler blinked, a low buzz vibrating through his body. “Okay. Doesn’t mean we are going to be friends, though.” He said, turning to glare at the cat.
Jamie smiled and rubbed soothing circles into the skin just under the leg of Tyler's shorts. “That’s all I ask.” He said with a smile.
Tyler smiled and reached down, grasping Jamie’s hand. “Stop, you’re going to get me excited.”
“That’s the point.”
Tyler whined, “We can’t. The cat is watching.”
Jamie sighed and leaned back. “Okay, this might be a bit of a problem after all.”
Chapter 10: Andre - Babysitting Duty
Nicky may have found the two worst people to look after Andre during a change...
Tom got the phone call early that morning, on one of their off days. In truth, he had still been in bed, but the ring tone was one that he knew he had to answer whenever it went off. It had been Nicky, sounding tired and uncharacteristically desperate.
“I need someone to look after Andre for me.”
“Oh,” Tom said, pulling himself out of bed, rubbing his eyes. With one hand, he fished around on the floor in the dark for a pair of pants. “Yeah, okay.”
“Tom, are you awake?”
“Yes, awake and ready. Ready to look after…”
“Andre,” Nicky supplied.
“Of course, Andre.”
“Thanks, I’ll be over in fifteen minutes.”
“Drink some coffee or something. You’re going to need it.”
The line went dead.
Tom blinked and made his way down the hallway, fumbling a sweater on along the way. Mike usually set up the coffee machine so it took Tom an extended amount of time to figure it out. Finally, the machine started hissing and spitting hot coffee into a cup. It wasn’t great, but it was coffee.
Mike wasn’t awake yet when the doorbell rang. Tom was barely awake himself, but pushed the door open regardless. Nicky was standing there, with a giant wolf. There was a bunch of stuff piled into his hands, which he promptly dumped onto Tom, who dropped at least half of it.
Tom was fucking confused. “Where is Andre?”
Nicky looked tired. “Are you serious?”
The wolf next to Nicky cocked his head.
Tom stared at it.
Nicky looked between the two of them. “Tom…” he said slowly, “This is Andre.”
The wolf was staring at him with intense eyes. Intense and familiar eyes. Tom would have face palmed if his hands weren’t so full. “Oh.”
Nicky looked uncertain, “Are you okay? Is this a good idea?”
Tom led them into the living room and put all of the stuff down onto the table, turning back to Nicky. “Yeah, no problem. Sure. Of course. This why Andre needed… looking after.”
Nicky didn’t look so sure anymore, “What did you think I meant?”
Tom wiped his hands on his shorts, “This. Exactly this.”
Nicky ran a hand down his face. “Okay. I’m trusting you here, Tom. Where’s Latts?”
“Asleep.” Tom was eying the massive wolf, who was staring right back at him. Tom swallowed. “Do I have to walk him or anything?”
Tom was pretty sure it had taken all of Nicky’s willpower to not roll his eyes, “No Tom. Just hang out with him. Keep him in the house. He just changed, so he’ll be good until I get back in an hour. Two, max. Alright?”
“No problem. Just watch over wolf Andre.”
Nicky looked like he was reconsidering all of this, but just shook his head. “You have my number. Call if you need anything.”
That’s how Tom found himself sitting on the couch, face to face with a giant wolf who was supposedly Andre. Tom looked him over. The wolf’s fur was the same shade as Andre’s hair. The wolf had Andre’s eyes. Nicky wouldn’t just dump a dangerous wolf in Tom’s home and take off, would he?
How much would wolf Andre understand? Tom squinted at him, scratching his chest under the thick sweater absentmindedly. God, what if he was allergic to wolf Andre? Tom cocked his head, looking over the wolf. The wolf mirrored his action and scooted closer on the couch.
“Andre?” Tom tried.
The wolf’s ears swiveled at the sound, but otherwise didn’t respond to his name. Tom eyed him suspiciously.
Footsteps sounded down the fall, causing them both to swing their heads in that direction.
Mike stood there, looking confused in just his shorts. He blinked and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, seeming surprised when the wolf was still there after. He sighed, “I’m going to need coffee for this.”
The space was filled with noises of cupboards opening and closing, things moving. Tom kept his eyes on the wolf, who thumped his tail once in response.
From inside the kitchen, Mike gagged. “What the fuck is this?”
Tom kept his eyes on the wolf. On Andre. Maybe. Maybe-Andre. “It’s coffee.”
Tom allowed his eyes to flick down to his mostly untouched mug, “Yeah, make some of the good stuff?”
Grumbling was heard from inside the kitchen.
The wolf looked over in that direction, ears perking. He huffed and jumped off the couch, padding over in that direction. Tom held his breath and watched it go. There was a yelp from inside the kitchen, “Fuck, Tom!” Mike called.
Mike appeared from around the corner, two mugs in his hand. He was frowning at the wolf, who was following him happily, tail swinging. Mike came up behind him, handing Tom his mug over his shoulder. Tom took it with a murmured thanks.
They watched the wolf stalk around their apartment, rubbing himself on anything that he could. Mike rested a hand on Tom’s shoulder, who reached up to twine their fingers together.
“So… what’s happening?” Mike asked, watching as the wolf sniffed around the room.
“That’s Andre. Maybe. Nicky dropped him off. I didn’t realize what we were getting ourselves signed up for when I accepted. We’ll be fine.”
“Nothing about this is fine.”
“No,” Tom admitted, “No, you’re right. We are absolutely fucked.”
Mike hummed and sipped on his coffee some more. “I know nothing about wolves.”
“Yeah, that’s about what I know too.”
The wolf stopped to stare at them. They held their breaths. It went back to doing what it was doing. Wolf stuff.
Tom let out a breath, “I’m not sure if that is Andre.”
Mike watched it move around the room, “Nicky wouldn’t mess around like that with us. That’s not his style.”
Tom would agree with that, if the situation weren’t so strange. “Maybe when he’s a wolf… he’s a different person?”
Mike dropped Tom’s hand and hopped the couch, landing heavily next to Tom. He pulled his legs up under him, one of them knocking against Tom’s. “That would make sense, I guess. So this isn’t Andre…it’s wolf Andre?”
Mike clapped his hands, “Andre?”
Andre jumped at the sound and pulled himself up to his full height, looking very alert in their direction. Tom swallowed, feeling very tense.
Andre bounded over, hopping onto the couch. With the force of the jump, the couch pushed back a couple inches.
Tom’s eyes were huge, but Andre just pushed himself up against Mike happily, tail swinging. He plowed his head into Mike’s lap, settling down onto the couch. He stretched, crawling across Mike’s lap onto Tom’s. Tom didn’t even want to breath, afraid to startle the massive wolf that was pinning him down.
There was no response.
Tom looked at Mike, “So is he like a giant dog?”
“This is a fucking wolf, Tom. He could kill us.”
“So no petting it.”
Mike shot him a look, “You can try if you want. Don’t do anything stupid.”
Tom reached up uncertainly. Wolf Andre watched him warily. Tom gently placed his hand on Andre’s head, testingly. Andre’s eyes shifted around, but was otherwise still. Tom stroked Andre’s head, between his ears.
Andre made a happy noise and settled his head into Tom’s lap. Mike watched Tom, then hesitantly joined him, running his fingers along Andre’s back. Wolf Andre seemed to like it.
Mike looked over at Tom, “I can’t feel my legs.”
“I’m not going to be the one to tell him to move.”
Mike sighed and shifted. Andre swung his head around to glare at him. They both held their breaths. Satisfied that Mike was done, Andre tucked his head up high on Tom’s lap. Tom sucked in a breath, but didn’t dare move.
Mike watched, looking amused. “His head is right—“
“You don’t have to say it, I know.” Tom snapped at him.
Mike turned his eyes down to the wolf in his lap, but Tom could see the smirk on his face.
“You think this is funny?” Tom said, his voice low.
Mike looked over at him, smiling. He knew that tone. “Yeah, I kind do. But is this the best time to be doing that?”
“I’m not doing anything.”
Tom looked down at Andre, who seemed to be dozing off. He scratched behind one of his giant ears, earning some happy groans from Andre. Andre twitched, then stood up suddenly, walking across their laps, stepping on some valuable equipment and earing some groans, but no one said anything in case it would offend the giant wolf. Andre arranged himself so that his bulk was sitting on Tom’s lap, staring down at him.
Tom swallowed hard, not quite able to meet the gaze of the creature on his lap. Mike was trying to hide a laugh, relieved to be able to breath fully again. Tom felt the wolf sniff him, prodding at his head, breathing hot air across his scalp. He whined, nuzzling at Tom’s neck and cheek.
Tom sighed and flicked his eyes up at a set of friendly ones. Tom was confused, but wrapped his arms tentatively around the wolf’s body, pulling him in tighter. Mike held his breath.
Andre loved it. Maybe too much. He set to work licking up the side of Tom’s face, then at his hair. Tom closed his eyes. Mike reached over and grabbed Tom’s arm reassuringly.
Andre noticed and immediately stopped grooming Tom to turn himself towards Mike.
He growled softly.
“For Christ’s sake, Mike.” Tom breathed, “Let go.”
Mike dropped his arm, staring at Andre with wide eyes. Satisfied, Andre went back to licking at Tom. Mike and Tom exchanged scared glances. Seemingly done, Andre pulled back and inspected his work. He butted his head against the side of Tom’s face, making Tom wince, and dragged it down to tuck under Tom’s chin.
“This would be adorable if it weren’t so scary.” Mike whispered.
Tom couldn’t help but agree.
“What’s he doing?” Mike asked.
“I don’t know, why don’t you ask him?” Tom angry whispered back.
Mike leaned forward to get a better look at Andre, “Is he sick?”
“Do I look like a vet?”
“Is his nose wet?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
Mike sighed, “I don’t know. I don’t remember anyways. Should we call Nicky?” Andre knew that name. He swung his head, looking around the room, searching. Mike made a sympathetic noise. “He’ll be back soon,” he said, stroking Andre’s head soothingly.
Andre just looked at him. Then he leaned over and licked at Mike too. Mike, of all things, looked extremely pleased. Tom shot him a look of disbelief. Mike just shrugged delicately and allowed himself to be licked. Tom reached over and squeezed Mike’s knee. If Andre noticed, he didn’t show it.
When he’d finished, he jumped off Tom and stalked off down the hall. Tom and Mike watched him go. Mike looked at him, “Should go after him?”
Tom sighed, looking tired. He sagged against Mike on the couch. “Hell no, we deserve a break too.”
Mike laughed and leaned down, dropping a quick kiss on Tom’s lips. “Guess we’ll never get a dog together.”
Tom closed his eyes, humming. “Dog, maybe. Wolf? No.”
A loud chuffing noise came from behind them. They both turned to see a pair of big eyes watching them over the back of the couch. Andre’s eyes widen, and he zipped away.
Mike barked out a laugh, watching Andre disappear again. “I have no clue what to think.”
Tom sighed and turned back around, sinking lower into the couch. “We’re never babysitting again.”
A low whine sounded. Andre reappeared, slinking back into the room, ears pressed against his head. He walked over to Mike and nuzzled at his hand until Mike started petting him again. Andre made happy noises low in his throat, but his body posture was still unsure.
Tom reached over and scratched under Andre’s chin. Then he reached over and grabbed the remote, turning on one of the shows they all used to watch together. This seemed to strike a chord in Andre, because he laid down on the floor, facing the TV, watching.
Tom and Mike watched him carefully for a couple moments. Deciding it was safe, Tom shifted so that he was laying on the couch, his knees bent up and resting against Mike’s chest. Mike didn’t mind. This had become normal behavior for them. Michael traced shapes across his thigh as they all finally settled down to relax for the first time all morning.
One hour had definitely turned into two. Now that Andre had settled down, it wasn’t a problem. Soon enough, there was a knock at the door. Andre swung his head up to watch Mike go to open it. Then he looked over at Tom, who was sitting up.
Nicky stood there, looking tired. Tom heard them making small talk. He stood, motioning for Andre to follow. He gathered all of the toys that Nicky had brought for Andre that had gone untouched. He even put them in a bag to make it easier to carry. They hadn’t used a single thing from the pile.
When Tom joined them, Andre was rubbing up fondly against Nicky, looking way too innocent.
Mike turned, and the expression on his face was not impressed. It caused Tom to pause, “What?”
Nicky accepted the bag from Tom, “We were just talking about your morning with Andre.”
Tom felt his face twist into something like concern, “Did we do something wrong?”
Mike sucked in a steadying breath, “It’s Andre. Like, this is Andre.” He said, gesturing to the wolf.
Tom frowned, “Yeah, I got that.”
Nicky shook his head, “No, Andre and the wolf aren’t two separate things. This is Andre. There isn’t two consciousnesses, just two forms. So Andre,” Nicky swung a gaze at Andre, who made his most innocent face, “Was aware of everything this whole time.”
Tom gapped at him, then turned to Mike for answers. Mike looked bitter, “We got played.”
Tom swung a glare at Andre, who was wagging his tail happily. “Are you kidding me?”
Nicky laughed, “Why didn’t you call or text?”
“We didn’t think we had to,” Tom said, still glaring at Andre. Andre whined and nudged Tom’s hand, licking at it in apology.
“What did he do?” Nicky asked, glancing down at Andre who made another innocent face.
Mike laughed, “He stepped on one too many sensitive areas.”
Andre’s tongue lolled out happily, tail wagging. Oh yes, he had been totally aware of what had been happening at the time.
Tom crouched down and dragged Andre towards him, wrestling him into a hold on their floor. Andre yelped. They tangled themselves up, with Nicky and Mike looking on in an unimpressed manner. Tom ended up on the bottom. Andre leaned down, and in a very controlled manner, opened his jaw wide, scarping his teeth over Tom’s neck. Tom held very still, trying to keep his breathing even.
“Andre…” Nicky warned.
Andre pulled back and licked at Tom’s neck before butting his head against Tom’s chest. Tom rubbed at his ears fondly.
“Time to go, Andre. You’ve got to change back soon.”
“Why not just changed back here?” Michael asked.
Nicky gave Andre a pointed look, “Andre has yet to grasp self restraint when it comes to certain parts of the change. Better keep that private for now.”
Andre whined in embarrassment.
Mike shook his head, “Unbelievable. He understands everything.” He shot Andre a look, “You were just pretending that whole time.”
Andre’s tail swung.
Nicky laughed. “Thank you, boys.”
Tom and Mike nodded. Andre cast them one last happy look before trotting off after Nicky.
Tom shut the door behind Mike and leaned heavily against it. Mike gave him a concerned look, “You good?”
Tom sucked in a deep breath, “Not going to lie, having Andre’s teeth on my throat was kind of hot.”
Mike scoffed, “That’s not new. Kinda weird that the wolf turned you on thought.”
Tom gave him a look, “Not ‘the wolf’. Andre.”
Mike shot him a knowing glance. “Tom, those are two things that are easily solved.”
Mike smiled and turned, heading towards the kitchen. Tom followed. Mike looked unfazed, “Yes Tom. Andre and biting? Easy. But I won’t do the wolf shit.” He said, giving Tom a pointed look.
Tom groaned, “I told you, it wasn’t the wolf part. It was the teeth.”
Mike turned to pour himself another coffee, “Yeah, sure. What ever you say Tom.”
Tom frowned, “Don’t be gross.”
Mike sighed, “Though last time we tried to bring Andre into our relationship, he moved out.”
Tom snorted out a laugh, “In his defense, we didn’t really ask. We kind of just started being really gross where he could find us.”
“Yeah. So maybe we talk to him this time?”
Mike sighed dramatically, “If you insist.”
Tom wrapped his arms around Mike’s chest from behind and squeezed him once, before finally giving him a proper kiss good morning.
Chapter 11: Olli - Closeted
No seriously, Olli is literally stuck in a closet with Kris.
Kris jumped as a wet nose bumped against his leg. He turned to see a very upset looking Olli, huffing with eyes downcast in shame. “Fuck, Olli. What happened?”
They were in Pittsburgh, practicing on CONSOL ice in preparation for Game 6 against Washington. Most of his teams had left, but Kris had stayed behind to watch Olli do some extra work with the trainers after practice.
Kris had told Olli that he’d drive him home after, only to have the kid disappear on him. Now he knew why.
Olli whined and bumped his head against Kris’ thigh. Kris sighed and reached down, rubbing his head soothingly the way Olli liked it.
Down the hall, footsteps sounded. Olli jumped and looked at Kris with startled eyes. Kris was sure he had on a similar expression. Together they jogged off down the hall, wincing as Olli’s nails made a distinct clicking sound.
Footsteps came in the other direction, now coming at them from both sides. Kris stopped, yanking the first door he saw open. Olli didn’t have the same traction as Kris did on the slick floor and slid out, huffing as he pulled himself back to his feet and slipped into the room. Kris followed, shutting the door behind him, almost tripping over a whining Olli.
It was a tiny supply closet, housing cleaning products and equipment. Kris was practically on top of Olli in the dark room. He tried feeling around for a light switch, but gave up with a sigh.
Olli’s nose pinched and he sneezed. Kris shushed him and listened to the footsteps in the hallway. He braced himself against the wall to keep from falling on his teammate.
There was a tiny bit of light coming from under the door, providing the only source they had. As a wolf, Olli had better vision and hearing than Kris did, his eyes adjusting much faster. Olli’s ear swiveled as he listened.
When Kris was sure the footsteps had passed, he waited ten more minutes. CONSOL had a strict policy against changing outside of the Rooms on arena grounds, located in the lower levels. Olli hated them. They avoided them whenever possible. Although the staff all knew and trust Olli, failure to follow the rules would get him scratched and Olli was working so hard to play.
Kris looked down at him. Large eyes reflected back. “The game stressed you out?”
The eyes blinked at him.
Kris didn’t really know how to interrupt that, but nodded. He tried the doorknob. It didn’t budge. “Umm…”
Olli cocked his head, waiting.
“I think that… we might be locked in.”
Olli’s tail thumped nervously against one of the walls.
Kris reached around, searching for his cell phone. The light coming from it was almost blinding. Olli chuffed and ducked his head. Kris turned on the flashlight and looked around the room. There was no light switch, though there was a light, and no lock on the door. It was likely that they were both on the hallway side.
Olli whimpered. No wolves liked confining spaces. There was hardly enough room for one of them, forget the both of them together. Olli’s skin was putting off serious heat where it was pressed up against Kris, and he was thankful that he only had on his training shirt and shorts.
Kris maneuvered them around until he could lean up against the back wall, sliding down to sit cross-legged on the floor. Olli stood over him, nosing at Kris’ phone.
Kris patted Olli’s head reassuringly, searching through his contacts. He found Sid and typed out a text, asking for a rescue and some clothes for Olli. He hit send.
Nothing happened. Kris frowned and tried again, but there was no service in the room. Kris swallowed and shifted, trying to get as close to the door as possible. No such luck.
Olli huffed and looked at him, eyes wide. Kris ran his fingers through the soft fur of his side, feeling ribs and burning skin. Olli pushed into it.
Kris thought over his options. He could bang on the door, but Olli was still a wolf. That would likely get both of them into trouble. They could wait for someone to come by and find them. The best option if the text couldn’t get through was to wait until Olli had changed back, then to bang on the door and wait rescue. People would likely still know what had happened, but maybe it would be easier that way. Less of a punishment if they couldn’t prove anything.
Olli huffed and nuzzled at Kris’ leg. Kris felt around for Olli’s haunches and guided him down onto his lap. Olli was heavy, but they’d done this before. Olli was like a mini heater against his skin.
Kris could tell Olli didn’t like the smells in the room. He kept sneezing and hacking, pawing at his nose. Kris stroked the velvety skin of his muzzle. That seemed to make it a little better. Olli turned to tuck himself under Kris’ chin, inhaling his scent.
Eventually Olli dozed off. Kris knew he’d rather be running when he changed, but this seemed like the next best option apparently. Kris kept trying his phone, firing off text after text. None of them went through. Eventually he gave up, pulled Olli closer, and allowed himself to doze off as well.
It was a rude awakening, getting an arrant paw to the dick as Olli’s body began reversing the change. Olli nuzzled him in apology, then began hacking, body spasming.
Reversing back always took less time than the initial change did. The contractions that shook his body lasting about fifteen minutes. Kris tried to reassure Olli as he made quiet whimpering noises
Finally, Olli collapsed into a heap on top of Kris. He flinched and dragged Olli up onto his lap properly. Olli allowed himself to be maneuvered so that his back was flush with Kris’ chest, breathing heavily.
“You okay?” Kris asked, combing Olli’s hair out of his eyes.
Olli’s breath was coming fast and his voice was still rough from the change, “Getting there.”
Kris smiled. Olli slumped back against him, naked and skin burning. He tilted his head to place a couple of lingering kisses along the underside of Kris’ jawline, surprisingly timid. Kris rubbed Olli’s arms soothingly.
Olli was out within minutes.
Olli woke up hot and panicked. Kris’ eyes had long since adjusted to the dim lighting, but Olli, having changed and slept, wasn’t accustomed to the dark space. Kris pulled him closer and stroked his hair. “It’s okay Olli.”
Olli nodded jerkily and squeezed his eyes shut, breathing deeply.
Kris tried not to laugh, “Are you claustrophobic?”
Olli whined, “I didn’t think I was.”
But sometimes after a change, the wolf instincts were stronger than the human ones. Usually it came out through sex drive. The terror for a wolf in tight spaces seemed to overtake that and Olli’s body was tense with fear.
Kris tried not to laugh, stroking Olli’s back soothingly. “Just close your eyes. Pretend we’re at home on your couch after a change.”
Olli made a noncommittal sound, but kept his eyes shut. Kris could feel his heart pounding through his chest. Olli shifted around so that his side was pressed against Kris’ chest, curling up. He knew he was too old for this sort of thing, but right now it was what his body was telling him he needed. Kris didn’t complain, so Olli took it as a sign that it was okay.
He did as Kris had said, imagining them at home, tangled together on their floor. His floor, he was quick to remind himself. It was his floor. Kris had a home and a family, and that didn’t involve Olli. Olli shivered and tried not to think about it, but his mind always ended up going back there.
No matter how many times Kris assured him that Catherine didn’t mind their arrangement, Olli couldn’t convince himself that any part of what was happening could ever be considered right. He needed Kris, not just in a post-change haze, but all the time. Maybe that’s why it felt so wrong to him.
To Olli, Kris was his line mate and his support. With his family so far away, Kris was his family away from home. But to Kris, Olli was just a kid he helped out. His teammate, helping him for the good of the team. Even if Olli could convince himself that Kris wanted him the same way that Olli needed Kris, that would be even worse. Then they would be violating the trust of Kris’ family.
Olli swallowed and curled in on himself more. He hadn’t realized that he’d whimpered until Kris was rubbing his back again, murmuring gentle reassurances in french into his ear. It made Olli feel even more sick.
Olli pulled himself up suddenly, pressing a desperate kiss against Kris’ lips before he could think about it. Kris seemed surprised, slow to respond. Olli moaned sadly and moved until he was straddling Kris’ lap, grinding up against him, trying to chase the feelings away.
Kris’ hands were hesitant, “Olli?”
Olli groaned against Kris’ lips, “Fuck me?”
Kris jerked his head back, “What?”
Olli tried ducking down for another kiss, but Kris stopped him, “Olli, easy. What are you doing?”
Olli was burning all over, “Please, Kris.”
Kris looked stunned, “Olli…”
Olli whined, and instantly hated his own weakness.
Kris steadied him with a hand on his shoulder, “Olli, listen.”
Suddenly, Olli wanted to be anywhere but here. He reached behind him to try the door, but it didn’t budge. Kris sighed and cupped Olli’s face and pulled it down gently.
Olli couldn’t breathe as Kris slowly pressed a kiss to his forehead. Olli wanted to cry of embarrassment. “Olli, where is this coming from?” Kris asked, still holding Olli.
Olli swallowed, glad for the darkness of the room. He let out a shuddering breath. “Nothing, it’s nothing. Let’s just forget it.”
Kris was quiet. He dropped one of his hands, the other one pulling Olli in closer. “I think we need to talk.”
Panic flooded Olli’s brain, still too sensitive from the change. He braced himself for the worst.
“Not now, but later. You, me and Catherine will sit down and discuss exactly what we are getting from our relationship, along with what we are comfortable with.”
Olli let out a shuddering breath, “You’re not asking me to leave?”
The hand on his side began rubbing soothing circles into his skin, “Never, not if you need me. But we do need to talk. The three of us have never sat down together, and I think should to do that. I think we should have done that a long time ago.”
Olli’s chest tightened, “Catherine does know about this, right? You have told her?”
Kris stroked Olli’s cheek, his voice was low and reassuring. “Yes Olli. Of course.”
Olli felt some of the tension drain out of his body. He slumped down against Kris, breathing in deeply. “Okay, I can do that.”
Kris kissed his forehead again. “I know you can. Do you think we should try to get out of here?”
Olli felt drained and exhausted, “In like ten minutes? I’m pretty wiped.”
Kris hummed, “Sure.”
It was easy to relax knowing that Kris was looking after him, holding him tightly. Kris wasn’t going anywhere, and neither was Olli. The darkness had become almost comforting, enveloping him as he sunk down against Kris, eyes dropping.
The closet flooded with light. Kris cursed and Olli froze, very aware that his naked back was exposed to whoever was standing there. Kris slid his hands down, covering Olli’s ass. Olli groaned quietly into Kris’ shoulder in embarrassment. He could feel the rise and fall of Kris’ chest as he let out a quiet laugh.
“Oh, shit. Uh.”
Olli knew that voice. He turned to see Sid standing there. Olli had to squint against the harsh light to make him out.
“What took you so long?” Kris asked casually.
Sid clearly had no clue where to look, settling on a spot on the wall above both of them. “I um, yeah. Maybe you want some clothes before we have this conversation?”
Kris snorted, “You’ve seen us naked before.”
Sid cleared his throat and tossed some stuff to Kris, mumbling about his breath about “this being different” before closing the door. Kris yelled at him not to go far. Sid mumbled something back from the other side of the door.
Olli dressed, the room dark again. Kris sighed and stood, pulling Olli against him. Olli’s body was tense, but allowed himself to be pulled in, unsure of what Kris was intending.
Kris kissed him gently. “We’re going to figure this out,” he said, before planting another gentle kiss.
Olli nodded, willing himself to believe it.
There was some awkward shuffling outside of the door. “You guys ready in there?” Sid called.
Kris breathed out a laugh against his lips, “Should we make him wait longer?”
Olli shook his head and stepped back, “Probably not.”
Kris sighed, “Always the responsible one.” He called out to Sid that they were decent.
The door creaked open. Sid poked his head uncertainly into the room. “Oh, good.”
Kris rolled his eyes and pushed the door open. Together they followed Sid out of the arena to the parking garage.
“You got my text I’m guessing?” Kris asked.
Sid nodded, “I got like 20 of them at once. When I tried texting back it wouldn’t go through.” Sid sighed, “I tried just about every door in the building. Took me an hour to find you two.”
Kris barked out a laugh, “Well thanks. It was getting cramped in there.”
Olli huffed, cramped and uncomfortable with the weight of their problems.
They thanked him again when they got to Sid’s car. He just nodded, pulling out to leave them in silence again.
Kris drove him home. His place wasn’t far, but the drive couldn’t have possibly felt any longer. A heavy silence fell between them. Olli was overwhelmed by it.
When they pulled up to his place, Olli scrambled to leave. Kris stopped him with a hand on his knee. “Hey,” he said softly.
Olli turned towards him reluctantly.
Kris looked more vulnerable than Olli had ever seen him. “I know you don’t believe it Olli, but I’m not going to abandon you. I will be a part of your life for as long as you need me. We’re going to sit down and talk about this properly.”
Kris sighed and reached over, pulling him in for a gentle kiss. It was brief and sweet, unlike anything that they had shared before. It was new, and scary, and just a little bit exciting. Olli swallowed, lips tingling as Kris pulled away.
Kris smiled, “Now get out of here. You’ve spent enough time stuck with me to last a lifetime.”
Olli couldn’t help the laugh that bubbled up. “Sorry I kicked you in the dick.”
Kris winced, “Fucking hurt, too.”
Olli smiled and pushed the door open, climbing out of the car.
Kris caught the door before he could close it. “I’m glad you’re back on the ice with us tomorrow. I’ve missed my liney.”
Olli smiled. “Game 6.”
Kris’ answering smile was dangerous. “Game 6,” he repeated.
The weight that had settled on Olli’s chested lifted. He felt hope.
Chapter 12: Carey, Alex & Lucic - The Carey Price Incident Part 2
Carey changes for the first time since his injury back in November.
Carey didn’t expect the phone call for at least another week. He was holding his baby girl, relaxing on the couch at home, consumed by her small, fragile frame.
Angela startled him with a hand on his shoulder and passed over the phone. It was Lucic. Angela looked at him questioningly, and Carey sighed, handing over their child. Once she was settled, Angela ran a hand over his hair and left him to his call.
Lucic sounded tired. Tired and sad from a long season with an unexpected loss. Carey sympathized from previous years.
“Next week?” Carey repeated back, skeptically. He wasn’t sure he was ready for a change yet.
“Yeah, sooner than later. The season’s over, you’ve had your child. It’s time to get this over with. You won’t have to worry about bursting out of your skin ever second when you’re around family. That’s not fair to you.”
Lucic was spinning a pretty tale, but Carey knew that Lucic needed this as badly as he did.
Carey sighed, “I’ll talk to Angela and get back to you tomorrow.”
Lucic grunted. They talked for a little while longer, hanging up.
Carey knew that Lucic was right. He was tired all of the time from holding back the change. His skin rippled and muscles contracted bellow the surface, fighting to get out. Sometimes it was hard to hold his child, watching as he skin moved so close to her.
He stood and flexed his arm, watching the muscles fight him. It was unheard of to go this long without a change, but if anyone could do it, it was Carey.
Carey turned to go find his wife.
Lucic arrived the next Friday, a small travel bag with him. They had agreed on him coming down for the weekend, staying in their guest bedroom. Carey had made sure to clean it well beforehand, as Alex often used it after changing in their home.
Lucic kissed Angela on both cheeks and said a quiet hello to the little one, sleeping soundly in her arms. Carey pulled him into a tight hug, showing him to his room. That night they ate dinner together and talked over the next day.
Angela looked nervous throughout the conversation, listening quietly. They were going to leave early, drive an hour out where they would have privacy and time to themselves. Lucic would help him through the change, then change himself. They’d be back before dinner.
After they moved to the living room. Carey slipped off to the bathroom, leaving Lucic alone on the couch with Angela and Liv. Angela shifted the child in her arms and looked over at Lucic. “Do you mind holding her so I can get the bed ready?”
Lucic looked a little unsure but allowed the child to be settled into his arms. Angela gave him a fond smile before slipping off.
That’s how Carey found them, sitting on the couch with Lucic looking down adoringly at his child. He smiled and settled down next to him. Lucic looked startled and tried passing over the child, but Carey shook his head. “You two look comfortable.” He said quietly.
Lucic laughed, “She’s so small.”
Carey nodded, “Tiny.”
They stared at her. Lucic looked up at him, “How does it feel being a dad?”
Carey was looking at his daughter, “A little scary. But right. It feels right.”
Angela came back into the room and stopped. She pulled out her phone and took a picture of the two of them, leaning gently over Liv. She check the picture, smiling at it before slipping the phone into her pocket. “I’m going to put her in her crib, see if we can get a few more hours of sleeps tonight.” She looked at Lucic apologetically, “Carey did warn you that she doesn’t sleep the whole night through yet, right?”
Lucic nodded and Angela pulled the child from his arms, “Don’t worry, I sleep like the dead.”
Angela nodded. “You’ll be needing that. Goodnight boys.” She said, leaning down to kiss Carey’s head.
“Night,” they said in unison.
That night, curled up in bed, his phone pinged. Frowning, he opened it. It was a text from Angela with a photo attached. It was captioned ‘Uncle Looch’, the picture of himself, Carey and Liv sitting on the couch together. Everyone looked happy.
Lucic smiled and saved the picture, drifting off to sleep.
The next morning, they were up brutally early. Carey looked like he was made to wake up at this time, but it took Lucic two cups of coffee before he was coherent. Carey gave Lucic the car ride over before he started trying to actually interact with him. He was grateful.
Carey pulled into a thin driveway in a large expanse of woods. Privately owned, rented out for the day. Lucic was pleased.
They hiked in. Carey seemed familiar with the area and Lucic trusted him to lead the way. They settled in a clearing fifteen minutes in. Carey set down a large bag and walked Lucic through the agenda for the trip.
Part of Lucic thought that this was ridiculous and that their bodies knew what to do. They should just sit back and allow nature and instinct to take over. The other part admired Carey’s forethought and meticulous nature that demanded perfection from himself and those around him. He had a way of making people better.
Lucic listened. Carey informed him of the first aid kit in the bag, water, food, blankets and extra clothes. He had every aspect of his change planned to perfection. Despite that, he looked nervous.
Carey stripped naked in the early morning chill of the forest, looking very young. He crouched down, propping himself into a position that best accommodated the change.
It didn’t take long to start. His body ripped through the change. That seemed to scare Carey even more, his eyes wild and hurt. Lucic crouched down next to him, murmuring praise and encouragements.
Lucic tried to be confident for Carey. If he could walk around and skate and train, he would be able to survive a change. Hell, he had been ready for the change months ago, this would be nothing.
But a sliver of doubt slipped in and Lucic was afraid for Carey.
Lucic held his breath when the joints started changing, shifting and turning. The sounds Carey were making sounded like normal pain, but of course he was scared. He huffed out a breath and looked at Lucic with desperate eyes. Lucic held his gaze and slid his hand up along Carey’s side, where the fur was starting to push through the surface. This seemed to reassure Carey, as he dropped his head and allowed the change to take over.
After that, it was easy. Well, not easy. The rest was probably the worst part of the change, but with the joints done it was easy to focus on the next part now that the biggest worry was dealt with.
When the change was done, Carey collapsed. He shuddered out a sigh of relief. Lucic pushed Carey off his stomach and onto his side, petting him gently. Carey’s eyes slipped close.
Lucic tested Carey’s joints one by one, slowly taking them and bending them. He watched Carey’s face for any sign of discomfort, but none came. Finally, Lucic stepped back.
Carey cracked an eye open and looked up at him. He pushed himself up with a huff carefully.
Lucic rolled his eyes, “Sounding like an old man, Pricer.”
Carey shot him a look and went for a slow trot around. Lucic watched him carefully, but there were no signs of discomfort. Lucic smiled.
Seeming content, Carey came up next to him, rubbing against his thigh, then stretched. His back popped and Carey made a happy sound. Lucic barked out a laugh.
Carey’s eyes were warm when he looked up at him.
Lucic smiled and stripped, preparing to change too.
It was always more fun running with someone else. Lucic wasn’t sure how other wolves survived living on their own.
In the wild, species such as the gray wolf were pack animals. It was always suggested that they too were pack animals, but when the world saw fewer and fewer of them, they evolved into a more solidary species. It was sad, and Lucic often felt something was missing when he ran alone.
With the seeming loss of pack instinct, other traits that different wolf species had seemed to disappear as well. The extremely territorial nature of wolves was lost to them, though it was debated that this was because of the human side of their natures.
The human side was everything. It was them. Non-wolf experts failed to understand that. They were still themselves when they were in wolf form. Their brains were just a little bit more run by instincts in their more primitive form, but they understood the irrationality of what they were feeling. They could control themselves.
The rare cases like his grandfather scared people and ruined the reputation for all wolves though. Lucic felt shame at that. They looked past the dementia and the confusion of a man who was slowly losing his mind and focused on the wolf side. It hurt, even after all these years of progress. It hurt him as a wolf and as someone who lost a loved one to disease, and then had to watch as he was demonized to the world.
Carey must have sensed his unhappiness, because he looped back, ears pressed against his head. He nuzzled at Lucic, whining gently. Lucic bumped him back with his nose. Carey looked concerned, but Lucic just brushed it off, nipping at him playfully before tearing off into the woods.
He barked out a laugh as Carey struggled to keep up, out of shape after months of neglecting his changes.
Eventually they circled back to find their stuff, Carey leading. When they got there, the two of them collapsed into a pile together, tangled up. Carey buried his face in Lucic’s neck, his breath hot.
Lucic was just about to doze off when Carey’s body jolted. He lacked the energy to get up, just watched from his spot splayed out on his side.
Carey’s change back went smoothly. Lucic watched, ready to jump up to help if needed. He wasn’t quite sure how an enormous wolf could help, but he was ready to try. When Carey was done, he slid down onto the warm, mid day grass, sighing in relief.
Lucic stood on wobbly legs and wondered over, poking at Carey uncertainly. Carey whined and rubbed Lucic’s head. Lucic snorted and pulled away from him indignantly. It made Carey chuckle a bit.
“I’m fine, Looch. Let me sleep.”
Lucic wouldn’t admit he was endeared by the nickname, but he definitely was. He huffed and headed over to the backpack, rooting around in it with his nose.
Carey watched him tiredly.
After dumping out half of its contents, much to Carey’s protests, Lucic pulled out a blanket with his teeth. He dragged it over to Carey.
Along the way, it picked up dirt and leaves, but Carey didn’t comment as Lucic pulled it over him, covering his naked body. Carey’s eyes drooped shut. “Thank you,” he mumbled, speech slurring with sleep.
Lucic nuzzled Carey gently and climbed on top of the blanket, settling in against him.
Eventually he changed back. Everything blurred together. The sun shifted, but they were shaded under thick trees. Something got draped over him. They slept. Lucic didn’t want this day to end, knowing too soon he’d be back at Carey’s house, then he would be home again, alone.
It turns out, Lucic would not be returning home on Sunday. Not that it mattered, he had the whole summer off. Leaving on Sunday was just so that he wouldn’t burden then Prices for any longer than necessary.
But the reason of his staying became necessity.
Early the next morning, a phone call shattered the pleasant buzz the change had left from the day before.
It had been plastered all over the Internet. A photo of two huge wolves, running through the forest together. The article showed pictures of Carey’s car, complete with him climbing out of it. A second person was visible but indistinguishable, just a dark blur.
They read it together on the couch. No one was sure who the second person was, but they knew that the wolf was Price.
Carey put the tablet down and buried his face in his hands. Lucic rubbed his back numbly, unsure of what to do or say.
Carey spent the morning on the phone. Nicky, Claude, Canadiens’ management and PR personnel, anyone who could offer help.
Around noon, Alex arrived at the house. Lucic actually had to look away when Carey pulled him into a tight hug, burying his face in Alex’s neck. He’d left the room at that point, leaving them tangled together. Lucic couldn’t offer him the physical support that Alex could. He’d become cold over the years of being alone and feared. Carey was Alex’s mentor and support, and that bond was special. Lucic didn’t want the jealousy he felt to appear on his face.
Alex had take out boxes with him. Lucic brought out plates and cutlery, and they ate in heavy silence.
“Fuck them,” Lucic growled, “they don’t get to do this to us.”
Carey shook his head, “Everyone seems to agree that it’d be worse for me to hide it.”
Lucic hated that. “This is the second this time season that a wolf’s status was exposed and their privacy was violated.”
“Yes,” Carey said tiredly, slumping back against the couch, his appetite gone. He wasn’t looking at Lucic “That’s why we were thinking that you shouldn’t come out to the public.”
Lucic blinked, speechless. “Bullshit, I’m not letting you do this alone.”
Carey looked tired, “No one knows it’s you. They don’t even know that you’re here. No one knows that we are friends. To them, we are long time rivals. There’s no reason that you should get dragged down into this.”
Lucic was pissed, “No fucking way.”
Carey leaned forwards, “They’ll rip you apart Looch. Everyone knows about your grandfather. You’ll never get the peace that you deserve.”
Lucic froze. Panic slowly seeped into his brain as the thought consumed him. He felt pale.
Alex and Carey were looking at him with concern. Alex nudged Carey, “Beer or water?” he whispered.
“Both. Maybe get the stronger stuff out of the cabinet too.”
Alex nodded and disappeared.
Carey watched him, “You can’t come out with me, Looch. You know that.”
Lucic swallowed, “It still doesn’t matter. I can’t do that to you.”
Carey shook his head. Alex came back, setting everything down on the table. Lucic eyed the hard liquor but grabbed the water, draining it.
Carey watched him, “I think we can imagine the repercussions of having you out in the league. It’s not fair, but it would happen.”
Lucic said nothing, turning the empty glass around in his hands. He wanted to break it. He didn’t. “They’re going to ask who the second wolf is.”
Carey frowned, “Let them. They don’t need to know. Nicky suggested using it to shame them. They can ask, but why should they be allowed to violate the privacy of another player?”
“’Shame them’.” Lucic spat out, “That won’t be enough, they’ll just keep digging. Like you said, it’s best not to hide. They’ll find out eventually. They are shameless. Fucking assholes.”
“I could do it.”
Carey and Lucic looked over at Alex, who was blushing suddenly.
“I can come out as the second wolf.” He said quietly.
Carey and Lucic objected at the same time, talking over each other. Alex’s eyes were huge. He waited until they were finished. “You’re both right. They don’t deserve to know our statuses, but they won’t stop digging. If we give them an identity, they won’t need to dig. That wolf should be me.”
Lucic sat up straight, “I can’t ask you to do that.”
Price nodded, “Neither of us can. I can do this alone, Alex. I’m getting towards the end of my career. You’ve just ended your season with a new career high for goals. There are other, better seasons ahead for you.”
Lucic swallowed. Carey’s voice was so soft when he was talking to Alex. That’s why he was so taken aback when Alex responded with anger. “That’s so stupid. Neither of you are at the end of your careers, you’re peaking. My career won’t be defined by what I am. No one is able to prove that being a wolf gives anyone an advantage on the ice. People should see that it’s fine to have two wolves on a team. It basically shoots down every shitty thing people are saying about having more than one wolf in the league in general.”
Lucic was ready to shut him down, but Carey looked thoughtful. Lucic turned to him, “You can’t seriously been considering this.”
Carey looked at him with tired eyes, “Alex has a point.”
Lucic threw his arms up in exasperation and grabbed his glass, stalking off into the kitchen to refill it.
There was conversation in the living room, but he couldn’t stomach the thought. He felt cowardly. He wasn’t going to let the kid take the fall for his negligence. Both options were sickening to him, twisting his gut unpleasantly.
He walked back over to his spot and didn’t like what he saw. Alex looked damn confident. “I’m going to do it.”
Lucic flashed a glare at Carey, “You’re allowing this?”
Alex bared his teeth at Lucic, then seemed to catch and composed himself. He sat back and looked Lucic in the eye, “Whether you allow it or not, I’m going to come out to the media. If not with the both of you, then by myself. You really can’t stop me.”
“At least you wouldn’t be ruining your life for me.” Lucic rumbled.
Carey was quiet, looking off into the distance. “I think we should allow it. It does way more good to let Alex come out with me, claiming to be this second wolf, then the other options.”
“You aren’t allowing me to do anything—“ Carey cut Alex off with a wave of his hand, looking intensely at Lucic. Lucic stared right back. Alex was huffing to himself in the background.
“I don’t like it.” Lucic said.
“But?” Carey asked.
Lucic struggled for a moment, “The other options sound a lot worse.”
Carey nodded and looked at Alex. “Go home and think about it. If you change your mind, we’ll understand.”
Alex stood up, looking determined. “I won’t.”
Lucic stood and walked over to him. Uncertainty flashed across Alex’s face, but he pushed it back quickly. Lucic looked him over, stopping a foot away. “You can, though. It’s important to know that.”
Alex swallowed and nodded.
Lucic extended his hand. Alex smiled and shook it. It hurt Lucic even more. Alex was a good kid, and Lucic felt like a coward.
Lucic stayed in Montreal throughout the whole thing. When he’d tried to get a hotel, Angela and Carey had talked him down, insisting that he stay. It had been the right call, no one knew that he was here and that would look suspicious.
He ended up acting as babysitter, watching over Liv as her parents were plastered all over the television screen. Alex looked pale up on the podium, but he held his ground next to Carey.
As anticipated, the media were dicks. They asked inappropriate questions and made outlandish suggestions about how this was the reason for the teams recent failures. Carey politely reminded them that he and Alex had been on the same team for three years now. Lucic was glad to see Alex smile at that. The comments and questions continued, each one more ridiculous than the last.
Lucic forced himself to watch as much as possible. He had to stop after Carey passive aggressively told the media scrum off for fueling the ego of whoever had exposed their wolf status by playing into this whole thing. No one even batted an eye. The questions continued.
That night, Alex stress-changed in the middle of Carey’s living room. Lucic had wanted to go, leave them in private to comfort each other. Carey refused, pulling Lucic down into a pile on the floor with them.
Lucic had fought it, but eventually his resolve slipped away. Alex nosed his way into Lucic’s arms, surprising everyone, and settled in to sleep. Carey looked fondly at them both and gently ran his fingers through Alex’s fur. Alex turned to lick at Carey’s finger tips, humming softly. He looked embarrassed, but mostly tired.
Lucic apologized again softly to him. Alex whined and nuzzled him gently. It was surprisingly reassuring. That night they all crashed in a heap on Lucic’s bed in the guest room.
With everything that had happened, they would likely be having a Wolf Conference much sooner than anticipated. Olli was the only wolf still playing and with his recent head injury, no one was rushing to drag him across the country to stress him out even more.
It had been a disastrous year for the wolves of the NHL.
Chapter 13: All - The Great One
A wolf conference is called after shocking news hits the NHL world.
Claude was back home in Ottawa when the news broke out. Wayne Gretzky’s face was plastered all over the television screen, sitting across from a pretty interviewer.
“So you’ve always been a wolf?”
Wayne laughed on screen. Claude was enthralled. “Of course, you’re born a wolf. That’s common knowledge.” He said, his tone was gentle but Claude recognized the look in his eyes. It was one that Claude wore often, as he wasn’t as good hiding his annoyance at stupid question.
The woman nodded, “What was that like for you, and why have you hidden your status for all of these years?”
Wayne sat back, pulling himself up to his full height. “When I was playing, you couldn’t be a wolf in the NHL. It wasn’t allowed. People forget that it was only very recently that the NHL allowed it, fifteen years or so. I would never have been allowed on the ice if everyone knew.”
The woman leaned forward, “So why come out now? What do you have to gain after all of these years?”
Wayne looked tired, “This has probably been the worst year that the NHL has had in regards to caring for and accommodating their Wolf players.”
Claude gapped. There was no beating around the bush, no dancing around the subject. Wayne was openly criticizing the NHL for their role in dealing with the struggles of this past season.
Even the interviewer looked a little taken aback, but recovered quickly. “That’s a bolt statement Mr. Gretzky.” Wayne shrugged. “Why do you say that?”
“Three wolves this year were forced to come out after allegations were made concerning their wolf status. It was in their rights to be protected and have that privacy, but in the end, it didn’t matter.”
The woman nodded, “And now you have come out to speak in support of these players. Isn’t that a big risk? They are already talking about making subcategories for awards given to wolf players and for records they achieved. Are you afraid of being pushed aside? To be taken out of having the most points in the entire league to just being the man with the most points out of the wolves?”
Wayne looked confident, “I’ve thought about that, and that’s one of the reasons I’m speaking out about this. These aren’t changes that should be made. It makes no sense.”
The interviewer leaned forward slightly. “Could you elaborate on that a little more?”
“Wolves were finally allowed to play in the NHL the year after I retired, and what have we done since 2000? We are still so much further behind than we need to be.
The leading NHL wolf expert isn’t even a wolf. The correspondent responsible for overseeing the wolf’s well being in the league isn’t a wolf either.”
“So you want better representation for wolves amongst NHL staff? With so few wolves alive today, how would you find someone willing to take the job?”
Wayne laughed, “I’ve already found someone. I want that job.”
Claude froze, the remote slipping from his fingers. His phone vibrated, and vibrated and vibrated after texts began flooding in. Friends, family, wolves, all wanting to know if he’d heard.
Oh he’d heard. There was a huge turnover coming. Even though the NHL had never been good to wolves, it was all he’d ever known. Change was coming and change was always scary.
Two days later, Claude found himself standing in the middle of a large conference room in New York. Lucic was to his right, both of them staring intensely at Tyler Seguin.
Tyler squirmed around nervously in front of them.
“You roomed with me in Prague, how did I not know?”
Lucic grunted, “We played on the same team for fuck’s sake.”
Tyler shrugged, trying not to look overly uncomfortable. It was quite the contrast to Andre, who was bouncing off the walls, looking around and touching everything that he could. Nicky was sitting at the conference table, looking tired.
Tyler sighed, “He’s excited to be here.”
“Clearly,” Claude muttered. Lucic smiled over at him.
The door opened and everyone turned. Carey strode in with Alex trailing behind him, looking travel worn and tired. Claude watched Lucic pull him into a tight hug.
“Hard flight?” Lucic asked.
Carey shook his head, “Just don’t want to be away from home long. Doesn’t feel fair to Angela.”
Claude extended his hand and offered his congratulations to Carey for his and Angela’s first child. Carey thanked him. Everyone trickled over to offer murmured congratulations.
The chat turned to the meeting. Olli was going to be teleconferenced in, now in Tampa in anticipation of their game to come.
Eventually the younger wolves split off, attacking a table of food that was set out. The older guys watched them. Claude admired their energy.
Carey sighed, “I just hate New York. Why does it have to be here? There’s no where to run here if we need.”
Claude frowned, “You don’t need to change, do you?”
Carey looked worn, “No, I changed a week ago. That’s the reason we’re here now, another fuck up on my part.”
Lucic snorted, “We didn’t fuck up, this league fucked up. Now we have to fix it.”
Nicky was looking slightly concerned. Claude watched him uncertainly, “What’s up Nicky?”
Nicky had his eyes on Andre, “I was just thinking that I should have had Andre change before we got here. We should be good, but he’s still working on changing whenever he needs.”
Carey nodded, “It’s hard. I’m working on that with Alex.”
Claude bit out a laugh, “I fucking hated those days. Not fun. I had a mean mentor down in the minors. Didn’t like him at the time, but I appreciate it now.”
Lucic nodded, “I had a similar thing out in Vancouver. Plus family shit. People were eager to get me under control.” He winced at the least part. Carey bumped him with his shoulder.
Lucic’s voice got gruff, “I’m going to get something to drink. Anyone want anything?”
No one did. Lucic shrugged and walked away.
Claude smiled, “He’s walking into a hurricane.”
The others watched as Lucic got swept up in the energy of the young wolves. Lucic frowned at Andre and shooed off Alex. They all laughed.
Claude turned to Nicky, “What’s happening with Andre back home?”
Nicky looked tired, “Andre’s hometown knows that he’s a wolf. We’re working on getting his family here, and the NHL is threatening to sue the town’s municipality if any news of Andre’s status reaches the papers here or hits the internet.”
Carey let out a low whistle, “That’s heavy.”
Nicky nodded, “Yeah, but it’s not going to stay quiet for long. We’re working on getting ahead of it now.”
Claude blinked, “Do you mean like, coming out?”
Nicky nodded, “He’s on board. It’s better he tells everyone his way then they find out. Especially since he was an unregistered wolf.”
Carey looked heartbroken, “Tell the kid to talk to Alex if he needs. It’s been tough on him, especially because Montreal fans are so critical of their players, but he’s been a champ about it.”
Claude remembered when he had come out. The first wolf to ever do so. It had been a nightmare. Eventually, people forgot. They barely acknowledged it now, except when they wanted to stir up trouble in the hockey community. Even know, news of Nicky’s status being exposed was dying down with the latest scandal. The Great One. Wayne Gretzky.
Claude glanced around the room, wondering if he would be there today. He noticed Lucic, sitting surrounded by the younger players. Claude smiled and walked over, preparing to rescue him. He went over to grab a drink, just within earshot of their little gathering.
Lucic was looking intensely at Tyler and Andre, “—just so impressed with how you too managed all of these years as unregistered wolves.” He shook he head, “You two have balls. Shit Tyler, I can’t believe that I never noticed, all those times we were together. But you didn’t know about me then either, did you?”
Tyler shook his head, looking very proud. Andre was leaning against him gently, looking very pleased at the praise they were getting. “It was before we had to expose our status to the team. I was just avoiding everyone.”
Lucic nodded, “Fucking impressive.” He turned to Alex. “And did you hear what this kid did?” he asked Tyler and Andre.
They shook their heads. Claude couldn’t help but smile at the dopey grins on their faces as they looked on at Lucic.
Lucic didn’t even notice the audience that had formed around them. He launched into the story leading up to Alex and Carey’s press conference from the other week. Nicky and Carey stepped in next to him, both of them listening as well.
Claude hadn’t heard the full story. He arched an eyebrow at Carey, who nodded. Nicky was shaking his head. “This is not how it should be happening,” he said sadly.
Claude watched the young wolves and couldn’t help but agree, thinking of how much they had to overcome so early in their careers. None of the old wolves had to deal with any of the bullshit that they went through this season while trying to establish themselves on a team and in the league.
Alex leaned towards Lucic, receiving a pat on the head. A smile stretched across Carey’s face as he watched. “We don’t give him enough credit for how good he is with the young wolves,” he murmured.
They all jumped at the door banged open behind them. They turned to see Wayne Gretzky himself standing in the doorway, looking quite comfortable.
The younger wolves scrambled to stand. Lucic shook his head fondly and stood too. Everyone shook hands. The younger wolves looked dazed and a little shy even.
Finally everyone settled into their seats. Those who had other wolves on their teams seemed to be drawn together naturally. Lucic sat on the other side of Carey, across from the Caps wolves. Tyler quietly slipped in to sit next to Claude. Claude clapped him on the back and Tyler ducked his head, a shy smile on his face.
They called in Olli. After exchanging some brief pleasantries, Wayne straightened up, “Olli, are you by yourself somewhere quiet?”
There was a pause, “Um, yes. Well, I’m with Sid.”
Claude couldn’t help the groan that slipped out. Tyler elbowed him. There was a fussing noise over the line, two people talking. “Okay, I’m leaving!” Came Sid voice indignantly from the other end.
“Thank you, Mr Crosby, that would be most appropriate.”
Grumbling over the line. The guys around the table were smiling good-naturedly.
Claude smiled and pulled out his cell phone, sliding it under the table.
Can’t be a part of everything, you nosey shit
Why do you care what we talk about?
I want to know. For the good of my team of course.
So can I stay?
Wayne told you no
He didn’t exactly say no…
Fuck if I care, if you get caught I’m not saving you
You’re the best
Someone cleared their throat. Claude looked up to see the table staring at him. Over the phone he heard something that sounded suspiciously like laugh. Fucking Sid. He tucked the phone away, “Sorry, just checking on my dog back at home.”
Tyler was looking like he was hiding a laugh.
Claude elbowed him.
Wayne seemed unfazed. He turned back towards the group. “I think we all know why we are here.”
There were grave nods around him.
“Excellent, then let’s begin. There’s going to be a massive rebuilding of the NHL section that works along side our wolf athletes. First and foremost, I will be appointed as the new Wolf Correspondent, heading this entire section.”
There was polite applause around the table, which Wayne waved down. “It’s long over due that we have an actual wolf heading this department. Let’s go over the events of this year and try to come up with ways so that this never happens again. I’m going to present it to the league and media at the end of the year so we can see some actual change.”
The biggest thing that they addressed was having two wolves on the same team. Claude remember the initial fear that surrounded having Carey and Alex on the same team. The league had come to him, as the only wolf out at the time, to ask from his opinion on that. He was one of the biggest supporters for that idea, fighting to have it appear more often.
Little had they known that it was happening all over. Tyler and Lucic, Nicky and Andre, Claude and Tyler, Carey and Alex, on other international and Olympic teams. All of these years of the fear of just having wolves play each other and here they were, working together all along. It was empowering to know they had been right this whole time.
They made a list.
➢ Carey’s accidental change
➢ Nicky’s status being leaking, which turned out had been a result of the hacked e-mail accounts of top NHL management.
➢ The appearance of a wolf at the All Star Game—Claude smiled at that.
➢ Two unregistered wolves. Lucic flashed a smile at Andre and Tyler. Wayne did not look amused.
➢ The problems with Andre’s hometown—being resolved, Nicky told them sadly. Andre seemed very tired after that.
➢ Tyler was mumbling something about cat people which was mostly ignored
➢ The Rooms in each arena for changing, should wolves be forced to change during the season under NHL team’s supervision? Everyone said no. The young wolves all shivered. Olli squeaked over the line in protest.
➢ Carey and Alex being forced to out themselves to the media—Lucic looked sad at that.
➢ Yearly wolf meetings?
That last one was hard.
“I don’t think they should be used the way we’re using them now,” Carey said.
Lucic nodded, “Right now it’s bullshit. Like getting us together would remind us, what? Not to attack each other? That’s what’s happening now.”
Carey nodded, “They should be used to offer advice and mentor the younger wolves. Every young wolf should have a mentor, even if it’s just to call if they need anything.”
Claude couldn’t help but agree with that. He turned to Tyler, “Where are you going to be this summer?”
“In Brampton with family,” Tyler blushed, “but I’ll be, um, visiting Benn a few times this summer.”
Andre gave him a knowing look from across the table. Everyone ignored it. Claude nodded, “So this summer, if you ever need, you can call me when you’re in Ontario. I’ll be home in Ottawa, it’s a quick flight. When you’re with Benn, you can call Lucic. He’s in that area, right Looch?”
Lucic nodded, “Yeah, that’s no problem.”
Tyler looked relieved.
Wayne nodded, “What about Olli?”
Claude smirked, “During the regular season, I can mentor him. We live in the same state.”
There was silence over the line. Finally, Olli laughed. “We’ll have to keep it a secret from the team. Can’t be relying on a Flyer for help.”
Around the table, everyone laughed.
Wayne smiled, “Perfect.” He stood, “You are all welcome to stay here for dinner tonight.”
Andre looked at Nicky, “Can't we go out together? I’m starting to feel cramped up in here.”
Nicky shook his head, “Gotta stay here. Too many known wolves, if people see us all here, they’ll draw conclusions for the rest of you.”
Andre looked sad but nodded.
Alex leaned over to Carey, “So we can't go on a run this summer?”
Carey said nothing, thinking. He looked at Wayne, “Are we allowed to all get together for a run?”
The room was quiet. Technically the NHL only wanted them meeting under supervision of the teams and any other official member of management.
Wayne appeared to be picking his words carefully, “I think… that I should advice you that this is not allowed.” There were some sad looks around the table. “But, I will also say that whatever happens over the off season is none of my business, and you are all adults. As long as I don’t hear about it later.”
Claude smiled along with everyone else. Yeah, this was definitely a step in the right direction for wolves.
Chapter 14: All - The Weekend
The day is finally here. Is it possible for eight wolves to run together after evolving for generations into a solitary species?
Nicky stood at the front door of a huge cottage on a private lake. How Carey had found the place was beyond Nicky. It was highly unlikely that the owners knew that the renters were eight wolves, as the cottage would likely not have given over to them in the first place. But here they were, finally.
Andre was at his side, eager to get in and poke around. He brushed up against Nicky, all quiet energy with a slightly nervous composure, but when Nicky arched an eyebrow at him, Andre just smiled.
Nicky squeezed his arm and together they went it. They left all of their things in the front hall where a small pile had started and followed the voices into the kitchen.
Everyone accept Lucic was there, laughing over beers around a small kitchen island. They smiled at them when they walked in, exchanging hugs and hellos.
“Have we established rooms yet?” Nicky asked.
Claude shook his head. “Alex and Tyler were petitioning to have all the younger wolves in one room, but I’m not so sure about that.”
Olli was standing quietly off to the side, but Andre looked thrilled. “Can we?” he asked Nicky with wide, pleading eyes.
Nicky glanced over at Carey, who seemed to have separated himself from the conversation. “Carey?”
He looked like he did not appreciate being dragged into this. “How about we see how the day goes, then you guys can decide tonight if you still want to sleep in the same room.”
Andre was pouting.
The front door banged open and thumping could be heard from down the hall. Lucic assumedly. Sure enough, he appeared moments later. “No one picked their rooms yet?”
Carey laughed, “We were just trying to figure that out. We can just sort it out later.”
Lucic grunted. There was a renewed round of hellos.
"So what did I miss?" Lucic asked.
Carey shrugged, "Nothing really. We were just about to plan out our day."
Alex looked thoughtful, “Is the lake warm enough to swim in?”
“It would be really cold,” Carey said.
“Too cold for wolves?”
Claude snorted, “Wolves don’t swim.”
There was an unsettling silence. “Do they?” Claude asked.
Nicky didn’t know, he’d never tried. Judging by the looks around the room, none of them had either.
Claude sighed, “Isn’t it fucked up that no one’s ever tried it?”
Tyler’s eyes flashed, “Can we try?”
Everyone looked at Carey. He looked unsure, “We still have to be careful. If you guys want, I see no reason why you can’t change tonight and try it while it’s dark. Tomorrow we’ll go for a run as a group.”
Nicky nodded, “Is the property marked off?”
Carrey walked them over to a map in the living room and showed them how much of the land was theirs. It was a fair amount, enough to comfortably run in without meeting any neighbors. Carey traced out the area. “It’s fenced off, so no one should just come wondering in.”
Lucic nodded, “That sounds perfect.”
Carey nodded, “So if you are going to change tonight, I’d suggest not drinking too much today. It’ll just make the change harder.” He said, giving Alex a pointed look.
Alex whined, “Why are you looking at me? Shouldn’t you be looking at Tyler?”
Tyler let out an unattractive squeak. Everyone laughed.
“Have you guys ever changed two days in a row before?” Lucic asked.
The older wolves all nodded, but the younger ones looked uncertain. “No,” Alex said, glancing at Carey.
Carey reached over to run a hand across his shoulders, “You’ll be fine. It’s a little harder the second time, but we’re here to walk you through it if you need.”
Tyler looked determined, “I want to try. I’ve been getting better at changing whenever I want.”
Lucic arched an eyebrow at him, “Where have you been practicing that?”
Tyler blushed slightly and mumbled something unintelligible. Andre rolled his eyes and looked at Nicky, “I will need help.”
Nicky nodded, “I’ll be there.” He was a little nervous for Andre, who had only just recently been able to change without being near his scheduled date. Tonight would be fine, it had been just enough time that the change would come naturally for him. Tomorrow would be a different story.
Andre looked happy, “Then I want to try it.”
Nicky felt something akin to pride when he saw how determined Andre looked.
“So later tonight, then.” Carey said.
The rest of the day was spent eating, fooling around and hanging out in the sun. For the most part, it was easy to get along despite being on different teams. Claude and Tyler had such big personalities that they fit in anywhere. Lucic was close with Carey and they were often seen together. When Andre wasn’t with Nicky, he was with the younger guys. Alex was likewise drifting between the young wolves and Carey.
Olli was the wild card here. Nicky watched him from the deck, sitting quietly on the dock with Tyler and Andre. Olli was watching them impassively. It was hard to know how he was gauging this whole trip.
Nicky looked up when Carey sat down heavily next to him, handing over a beer. Nicky thanked him. Alex passed them and joined the others on the dock.
“Where’s Lucic and Claude?”
Carey shrugged. “They wanted to walk around, make sure everything was safe for when they go running tonight.”
“That’s a good idea.” They watched Alex sit down on the dock. They seemed to be trying to convince someone to go in and try the water. Alex took off a shoe and dangled his foot off the dock, testing. The answer seemed to be no, the water was not warm enough to go swimming in right now. Carey smiled.
“Do you know where Olli is going to be this summer?” Nicky asked.
Carey shook his head, “I can get Alex to ask though, why?”
“If he’s going home, I’ll give him my information in case he needs any help.”
Carey looked over at him, “That’s a great idea. You should offer to do that anyways.”
Nicky glanced over at him. “I think I will. How are you finding mentoring Alex?”
Carey turned to look at Alex, almost instinctively. “Good. I’ve been doing it for three years now.” He looked a little sad, “I haven’t been there as much this year with my injury, but I think that’s a good thing. He’s becoming more independent.”
Nicky hummed, “I can see that. Andre is young, and he’s been hiding for so long. He’s… quite dependent.”
Carey nodded sympathetically, “You’re doing fine with him though, he seems happy. I’m actually really impressed with Tyler.”
Nicky glanced down at the boys. Tyler was smiling now, but Nicky noticed that when he thought no one was looking, he seemed a bit withdrawn.
“Just… going unregistered for so long. No one found out, and he seems to be doing fine on his own.”
Nicky nodded, “I remember all of the reports coming out of Boston about him. I don’t see any signs of that now.”
“He’s matured. I think Dallas is good for him.”
There was a huge splashing sound. They both shot up, looking down towards the lake. Alex broke the surface, gasping for air and sputtering, fully clothed. Tyler and Andre were laughing hysterically. Even Olli cracked a smile.
Alex dragged himself back onto the dock, ripping into the two who were laughing. Nicky half expected him to push them both into the water as well, but he just turned and stormed up the lawn, back towards the cottage.
Carey grabbed his arm as he passed, “You okay?”
Alex nodded stiffly. He looked frozen. Nicky couldn’t help but smile as Alex went dripping off into the house in search of dry clothing.
“Should we give them shit?” Carey asked.
Nicky sighed, “They’re not my children.”
Claude appeared from out of the surrounding forest, looking amused. “Did someone go for a swim?”
Tyler sniggered, “Yeah, Alex was just testing out the water.”
Claude shook his head and started walking up the lawn. “Why don’t you try that one on Looch?” he called over his shoulder.
Lucic appear from out of the forest, scowling. “What are they trying on me?”
“Nothing.” Andre and Tyler said. Olli smiled coyly.
Lucic grunted, “That’s a good answer.”
It was relatively calm until dinner. With eight adult males, they all fused around the barbeque, complaining about the best way to cook the burgers. No one wanted to make a salad or prepare the condiments, but the meat was expertly taken care off.
After, everyone went their separate ways to change. Carey took Alex inside to one of the rooms. Olli insisted he was fine on his own, and Tyler likewise went off by himself. Andre seemed a little embarrassed to need Nicky, but no one else was bothered by it.
Fifteen minutes later, everyone was back in the backyard, four huge wolves dancing around each other curiously.
While the others circled around each other, Olli was curiously sniffing and rubbing against the wolves who hadn’t changed. Claude, who was sitting on the grass with his knees drawn up, seemed to be of particular interest to him. Claude allowed Olli to sniff at his hair and neck with a cold and wet nose.
When Claude noticed Nicky looking at them curiously, he only shrugged. Olli pushed his way under Claude’s arm, curling up around him with his head nuzzling in to rest on Claude’s thigh. Claude gave his head a rub. That seemed to be the right response, because Olli huffed and closed his eyes.
Tyler was now wrestling with Andre. Alex was circling them, watching. Deciding he was above it, he sat down heavily next to Olli, not quiet touching.
It was getting darker out, the sun finally setting.
“Will you guys cut it out?” Lucic barked at them.
Tyler jumped just enough to let Andre get the upper hand. Lucic shook his head fondly. He walked over and grabbed them both by the scruff of the neck, pulling them apart. Tyler let out an embarrassed whine. Andre looked as happy as ever.
Carey laughed at the sight. Alex looked decidedly smug for having not been a part of it.
Claude nudged Olli, “You guys better get going if you want to get a run in. Come get us before you go swimming.”
Olli chuffed in response, pulling himself to his feet.
The four of them took off, trotting into the woods. The sounds got quieter as they picked up the pace, racing off into the forest.
Lucic turned to look at the group, “And we’re sure this is a good idea?”
“No, probably not.” Claude said with a laugh, standing. He wiped his hands off on his shorts. “Too late now.”
“What was with Olli rubbing against you?” Lucic asked.
“I don’t know. I think it might be because I offered to help him over the season. Maybe he’s scenting me.”
“Wouldn’t that be easier tomorrow when you’re both wolves?”
“Fuck, I don’t know. Go ask him yourself.”
Claude rubbed at his arms, “I forget how hot you get when you change. You never notice it when you’re a wolf, but sitting there with Olli? He was burning.” He looked thoughtful, “If we’re staying out, I’m going to grab a sweater.”
“Should I just build a fire?” Carey asked.
Claude looked pleased, “That works too.”
They worked together to set everything up in the fire pit. Carey was really good at getting it going, which was good because this was not one of Nicky’s strong points. Soon, they had a huge fire. Lucic dragged a couple of the lawn chairs over.
“Was it a good idea to send the kids out like that?” Claude asked.
Carey sighed, “We’ve been over already.”
Claude gave him a flat look, “Yeah, but I think we forgot about something important.”
“We are going to have four horny kids on our hands when they change back.”
A stunned silence fell over them. Lucic burst out laughing, “Fuck, I forgot about that.”
Nicky found himself chuckling, but Carey looked heavily disturbed, “You don’t think they’ll…”
Lucic shook his head, “Who cares? They’ll make mistakes, they’ll learn.”
Carey’s face pinched up, “I think that’s a lesson we’d all rather avoid them having to learn the hard way.”
Claude laughed, ”I think we are going to be okay. Tyler seems to be hung up on Benn, so I doubt he’s going to do anything.”
Lucic nodded, “And I can’t see Olli getting all keyed up after a change.”
Claude shook his head and looked at Carey, “What about Alex?”
Carey looked thoughtful. “I think he’s interested in someone back home, and he’s gotten better after changes. Definitely not as excitable, but it’s different being around people your age, running in a group. We’ve never done that before.”
“Andre is pretty good,” Nicky supplied. “Usually likes to cuddle though,” he added, his nose pinching.
Claude chuckled, “That must be hard for you.”
Nicky just rolled his eyes.
“So we say nothing, and if we see them being all sheepish, we know?” Lucic asked.
Claude shrugged, “I guess.”
A silence fell over them. “Anyone bring a guitar?” Claude asked.
Lucic sighed, “No, we are not doing that kind of shit.”
“I can sing for you.”
“… Carey can sing for you.”
“I will not,” Carey said flatly.
Claude sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair. “You guys are no fun.”
“You didn’t ask Nicky if he wanted to sing,” Carey offered helpfully.
Claude smiled, “Shit Price, you have a sense of humour after all.”
And easy conversation opened between them. They kept it carefully off hockey, but talked about their plans for the summer. The stars started filling the sky and the moon rose. Nicky had always found it odd how people thought that the moon dictated when he had to change, but at the same time, found its presence in the sky comforting during those nights.
The young wolves’ run didn’t take long. In the distance, twigs could be heard snapping. When they turned to check, they saw nothing. Moments later, the sounds got louder.
Olli was the first one to appear, fur almost white in the dark, turning yellow in the light of the fire. It was actually quiet stunning. He looped in a lazy circle and came to rest next to Claude, plopping himself down heavily, panting.
The others appeared together. Andre and Alex went to poke at their mentors, but Tyler tore off past them, heading up onto the dock. His fur was dark and he all but disappeared in the night, but his nails clicked along the wood, tell them where he was.
He whined and wondered back when he noticed no one had followed him.
Olli looked like he was done for the night, resting his head on his paws, watching Tyler from across the fire. None of the wolves seemed to like the fire, keeping a good distance from it.
Alex huffed and joined Tyler, bumping Carey with his nose before he did. Carey rose and followed them.
Slowly, everyone followed.
Tyler danced around the edge of the dock. Carey clicked on his flashlight, shinning it at Tyler. Tyler wagged his tail, his eyes reflecting brightly. “You sure you want to do this?” Carey asked.
Tyler gave his best version of a nod.
Carey looked back at everyone, “Are we sure this is a good idea?”
Lucic huffed, “We’ve been asking that all day and no one’s died yet.”
Tyler made a happy sound.
Lucic looked at Tyler, “I hope you can swim.”
It didn’t take long. Tyler launched himself into the water… and sank like a rock. They all leaned over, looking down at the dark water.
“Um…” Lucic said.
Carey toed off his shoes, looking uncertain. “Should we—“
Tyler burst out of the water, sputtering but overall happy looking. They all let out a collective sigh of relief. Tyler paddled around.
Alex jumped in after him. He was much quicker to resurface. Andre, finally deciding it was safe, jumped in too.
The unchanged wolves looked down at Olli, who was hiding behind Claude. Lucic looked at him expectantly. Claude stepped aside, exposing Olli.
Olli shot him a betrayed looked and padded over to the water, He looked down at it, whining. He shook his head, dancing around the edge of the dock. “Should I push him?” Lucic asked.
Olli squeaked and jumped in.
He instantly looked pissed, swimming around the water. The others came over and bumped him with their noses, comforting him. Olli seemed to appreciate it.
They didn’t stay long. Even for wolves, it was cold. They dragged themselves out and shook off in the woods, coming to lay by the fire to dry off.
Andre was the first to change back, slipping off quietly into the woods. Nicky watched him go, waiting for any sign that Andre would need him. Seeing nothing, he stayed in his spot. A little while later, there was the gentle cracking of twigs underfoot and further up a figure appeared in the dark, walking up towards the house.
“If I shine my flashlight in your direction, are we going to see your pale ass glowing in the dark?” Claude called.
“Fuck off,” Andre called back weakly.
“Can you bring down clothes for the others when you get back?” Nicky asked.
“Okay,” Andre sounded uncharacteristically quiet.
“Should someone check on him?” Claude asked, looking off into the darkness towards the house.
Nicky was wondering the same thing. “I’m going to give him a couple minutes, then go see. I think he’s okay, sometimes he’s slower after a change.”
Sure enough, a couple moments later the door to the house clicked open and shut. They all turned to see Andre trekking down with a pile of clothing in his arms. The younger wolves got up and followed him into the forest.
Andre came back alone. He was drowning in sweats and a shirt that was definitely not his with the Caps logo on it.
Andre surprised them all by settling down into Nicky’s lap, tucking his face into Nicky’s neck. Nicky let out a little “ouf”, but allowed Nicky to settle in against him, reaching down to pull him closer.
They were all quiet, watching him. “Big day?” Claude asked, a smile in his voice.
Andre nodded, yawning.
“So I guess your sleepover is out?” Nicky asked quietly.
Laughter drifted from the forest as Tyler and Alex reemerged, “Oh, it’s still on.” Tyler said with a smile. Behind him, Alex was smiling as well. They drew up more chairs, settling in and cracking open a couple beers.
“He told us to go ahead.” Alex said, sipping at his beer.
“Probably out there—“
“Looch, don’t go there.” Carey warned.
“What? You were thinking it too.”
A splashing sound was heard in the distance. They all turned towards the sound, listening.
“Was that…?” Tyler asked, looking into the woods.
“Olli?” Carey called.
“Coming,” called a voice from the forest. No one seemed reassured. Olli emerged, soaking wet.
Tyler gapped, “What did you do?”
Olli sat down close to the fire, dripping wet. Everyone was staring at him in disbelief. “Just calmed myself down after the change.”
There was silence. “And you didn’t want to just jerk one off like a normal person?” Lucic asked.
Carey smacked him, “Can you smarten up?”
“What? Andre did, and he’s fine.”
Andre whined hotly into Nicky’s neck. Nicky’s face heated.
“We aren’t talking about this.” Carey said flatly.
Lucic huffed, “Just saying—“
Claude was looking at Olli intensely. “You just jumped in the water to calm yourself down.”
Olli was staring into the fire. He reached up and rubbed some of the water out of his hair, spraying it every which way. “Yup,” he said.
Claude looked impressed, “I wish I had that much self control when I was your age.”
Olli glanced up at him, as if looking for the chirp in the statement. Deciding there didn’t seem to be one, he turned back towards the fire.
Carey sighed, “If you guys still want to sleep in the same room, take the one downstairs with the bunk beds. That way we can get some actual sleep upstairs.”
“You’re no fun, join us.” Tyler said.
Lucic laughed, “I’m really good.”
Alex was looking at Carey, “So we can do it?”
Carey shrugged, “I don’t really see why not.”
“Do we all want to go up now and figure out the bed situation?” Claude asked.
Carey nodded, “You guys go up. I’ll put out the fire.”
Everyone went up. Andre didn’t move, waiting for a cue from Nicky to get up. Nicky didn’t want to move either though, comfortable with Andre settled into his lap. They watched Carey break down and put out the fire, staying until the last embers sizzled out. Carey went off towards the house without them, leaving them in the dark.
Andre clutched Nicky harder. “Are you okay?” Nicky asked finally.
Andre just nodded, yawning.
“You don’t seem okay…” Nicky prodded.
Andre bumped his jaw with his nose. “I’m good. I’m great. I was just running with everyone and thinking… about how lucky I am?”
Nicky pulled Andre in tighter. “That’s good.”
Andre hummed, “Everyone talks about how bad a year this was, but I don’t know. This was a great year for me. My first full year in the NHL, you helped me come out, mom and dad are moving closer.” He quieted, then looked up at Nicky. “This was just a great year.” He repeated.
Nicky laughed and nudged Andre to his feet. He wrapped an arm around Andre’s shoulders and stumbled along in the dark back towards the cottage together. “I don’t know how all of you did it. You are all so much stronger than everyone gives you credit for. You, Tyler, Alex and Olli. Don’t forget that Andre.”
On the deck, Andre stopped, turning towards Nicky. He pulled him into a tight, unexpected hug and Nicky hugged him back just as tightly. Andre leaned down to press his forehead gently against Nicky's temple, nose trailing along his cheekbone. Nicky held still as Andre breathed hotly against his cheek, lightly holding onto his elbows.
Andre pulled back and smiled, “Thank you Nicky.”
Nicky nodded and watched Andre pull open the screen door, before disappearing into the house. His face felt hot, but above all, he was proud.
Andre was tucked gently against his side, panting hard. The sun was high in the sky, but they were protected by the thick canopy of trees. It had been a long, slow process to get Andre to change two days in a row, but the result had been well worth it.
To their left, Olli was laying close to Claude, almost touching. In front of them, Tyler was likewise within touching distance of Lucic, sprawled out on his side. Carey’s back was resting against Lucic, and Alex was tangled up in front of him.
Nicky watched them through lidded eyes. He was tired, but it was the good kind that felt well earned and heavy in his bones. The wind was ruffling his fur, but it didn’t bother him, instead offered relief against his blazing skin.
This felt right. It shouldn’t work, research and science told them that they shouldn’t be able to do this. Physically, socially, and logistically considering how many wolves there were in the world today, but it did.
Nicky wanted to laugh, but he felt an ache in his chest. This weekend had been great, but he suddenly couldn’t stomach the thought that this weekend would be it. That after this, he would be stuck changing in the small little woodlot on a farm outside of Washington alone.
Andre pushed closer into him, a welcome presence. Maybe not alone. He had Andre, and he had Alex. He let the scents of his friends sooth him as he buried his face into Andre’s neck, breathing in deeply.
Soon he was asleep, the warm breeze filling and relaxing him.
- Claude Giroux -
Are you still coming to visit this summer?
Why would I do that?
Don’t be an ass.
I need to work you into my workout regiment
What is that supposed to mean?
Don’t be a baby about it, you eat shit food.
Just answer the question
Why should I fly out there? You come here.
Your place is boring
We have my cottage here
It’s fucking cold there, I’m not going
It’s summer you idiot
Still fucking cold
I’ll keep you warm
I hate you.
Oh, that’s better
I’m flying in on the Friday, and you’re not going to say shit about my grilled cheeses
And sure as shit you better work me into your workout regime. We’re going to whip that fat ass into shape
If I can’t talk about your grilled cheese, you can’t talk about my ass
That’s not fair
Wait, you can’t really stop me
You’re uninvited, please don’t come
I’m going to be tapping dat ass
You got what you wanted, see you in a couple weeks, bye
You’re a fucking child
Ohhhhhhhhh, I got Captain Canada swearing
I’m sending it to the press.
By the way, what’s the address to your cottage?
- Olli Maatta -
Olli looked up at the Letang household, looming overhead. It was a nice enough day, but the prospect of what was to come cast a heavy feeling over him. He couldn’t bring himself to climb the steps to the house to knock.
The door opened, and a confused looking Kris stood there. “Olli?”
Olli looked up at him, keeping his face neutral, “Hey Kris.”
Kris looked down at him. “Why are you standing down there? We watched the cab leave like ten minutes ago.”
Olli heaved a heavy sigh and climbed the stairs, “Just… preparing myself.”
Kris was frowning, “No need to prepare for anything. Cath is ordering pizzas, what do you want?”
Olli’s eyebrows shot up, “I um, don’t think I’ll be staying for dinner.”
Kris clapped him on the back and closed the door behind them. “Well you’re invited so what do you want?”
Olli felt uncertain, “Whatever you guys are having is fine.” He said. He stood awkwardly in the living room while Kris walked into the kitchen, murmuring quietly in French to Catherine.
He felt overwhelmed, standing in Kris’ home, surrounded by pictures of their family.
A hand slid around his waist. Olli jumped and stepped away from the touch. Kris looked a little sad, but the look passed quickly.
“Where’s your son?” Olli asked quietly.
Kris smiled, “On a play date with Fleurys.”
Olli nodded. He felt miserable.
Kris stepped in front of him. ”Hey.” he said gently. Olli sighed and finally looked up at him.
Kris’ face was gently. It was uncharacteristic of their relationship. Or maybe it wasn’t. Olli was losing track of what was and wasn’t normal for them. “This conversation is going to go much differently than I think you are worrying it will go.”
Olli didn’t know how that was possible. He could only see one outcome to this conversation, and it involved losing the support of one of his best friends. It was just how it had to be.
Kris squeezed his arm. It felt good, grounding. “Cath and I have already spoken. You’re not going anywhere, and neither am I.”
“What?” Olli asked quietly.
Kris smiled, “I’ve told you this a hundred times, you idiot.”
Olli swallowed thickly.
“So how about you stop being afraid of my wife, and we go sit down in the kitchen like proper people and talk.”
Olli must have still looked uncertain, because Kris laughed and pulled him along. “Worse comes to worse, you’ve got like eighty pounds on her. I think you can take her.”
“I heard that.” Someone called from the kitchen.
Olli’s breath caught and he felt sick again. Kris just smiled and rolled his eyes, “What are you going to do about it?” he called.
Kris disappeared around the corner. The couple started to bicker in French. The moment Olli turned the corner, he knew everything was going to be okay. The table was set for three. There was wine out, and proper plates and cutlery. Nothing in this room gave him the impression that this would be a quick conversation followed by a hasty departure on his part. No one was frowning at him, or hurling accusations.
In fact, when Olli stood in the doorframe, he felt something akin to belonging. Like this was a safe place for him too.
Olli leaned against the doorway, watching the two of them play fight, and smiled.
- Alex Galchenyuk -
Alex was sprawled out next to Brendan on the couch. Gally’s gold medal from the 2016 IIFH Worlds was laying on the side table haphazardly.
“Why has it taken so long for me to finally come visit you this summer?” Brendan asked, a dopey smile on his face.
Alex frowned, “It’s not my fault that you were across the world.”
“Visiting your birthplace.”
“I’m an American.”
Brendan smiled, “So you say.”
Alex sighed heavily and rolled over, closer to Brendan. This was an old fight. He sat up and pulled his knees to his chest. “What’s with all this shit with you and Marchand?”
Brendan gave him a shit eating grin, “What Chucky, you jealous?”
Alex scoffed and turned towards the TV, flicking it on. “No, just asking. Stop being an asshole.”
Brendan scooted closer. They were almost touching. Alex could practically feel the heat radiating off Brendan’s skin.
“Is this a wolf thing? Are you being territorial?”
Alex huffed, “No you idiot. I was just asking. Next time I won’t bother.”
“Oh, Chucky. Don’t be like that, I like when you get all wound up over me. But is it a wolf thing? Is Marchand a wolf? Are you going to fight over me?”
Alex kept his eyes on the television, “No, he is not. But he can have you if he really wants.”
“You’d miss me.”
“Chucky.” Fingers slid gently over Alex’s knee, making him jump. Alex looked over at him, scowling.
Brendan had a huge smile on his face, “He’s never going to replace my boy.”
“Your boy? Who’s that, Pricey?”
Brendan smacked at him, “Yeah, Pricey. Speaking off, I was wondering if you were ditching me with all the time you’re spending with him.”
Alex smiled, “Oh, are you jealous?”
“Yes,” Brendan said honestly.
Alex was taken aback, “What?”
Brendan shrugged, “I’m jealous. You spend so much time with him. I know it’s wolf stuff, but I missed you. I thought this was going to be our season, but then I kept getting injured, and Pricey was injured. You spent a lot of time with him, and had a great season. I was kind of just at home.”
Alex gapped at him, “You can’t really think that.”
Brendan shrugged. He slid his hand from Alex’s knee. Alex could practically feel the absence of the touch.
Alex reached up to lay his arm along the back of the couch, fingers accidently brushing Brendan’s neck. His skin was hot, pulsing jumping at the contact. Alex swallowed. Brendan was looking at him intensely. Alex reached up tentatively and ran his fingers over the short hairs at the nape of his neck. Brendan didn’t move. He closed his eyes, allowing Alex to card tentative fingers through his hair.
“You’re my boy.” Alex said, his voice barely a whisper.
Brendan sucked in a breath, “Your boy?”
Alex nodded, “Yeah, we’re boys.”
Brendan paused, a heavy silence settling over the room. He reached over and squeezed Alex’s thigh.
Alex’s heart thudded.
“Boys,” Brendan whispered, leaning closer to Alex.
Alex had never been happier.
- Carey Price -
We’ve got a problem
Quite a big problem
Fuck, what is it now?
You know Auston Matthews?
Everyone knows who he is, what about him?
I was talking to Gretzky today
He’s a wolf
Yeah, what are we going to do?
I don’t know, nothing? What can we do
I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking you
Claude will take care of it
The kid’s going to Toronto, G is from Ontario
Yeah, but he’s in Philadelphia most of the year
Okay, so you take care of him
We’re on rival teams!
So were we, we survived
I’ve got Alex
Now you’ve got Auston too
I hate you
You’re no help
I’m asking Nicky for help, this is the last time I go to you
I’m not talking to you
He said the same thing I did, didn’t he
He told me he’s home and it’s not his problem
So you’ve got yourself a new baby wolf
I know you’re feeling all parental and shit, but we both know Alex is old enough to take care of himself
Give yourself some credit, you did a good job with Alex and you’ll do a good job with Auston
Why are we talking about this, we don’t know shit yet
I’m going for a run, we’ll talk about this later.
Carey stared at his phone for a long time afterwards, thinking over what Lucic had said.
Part of him knew that Lucic was right, as much as he hated to admit it. Carey was closest technically, and Alex was ready to be more independent. He’d been ready for a while.
It’s not like he was losing Alex, though. Alex was his teammate and Carey would always be there to support him. And get support from him. Maybe that’s what Carey was afraid of. He found a certain amount of strength from supporting someone else, but Alex had been supporting him just as much.
Carey took some steadying breaths and stood. No, he wouldn’t be losing Alex in accepting another wolf to be mentored.
Gretzky had all but told him that if Auston went to Toronto, he would be Carey’s responsibility. It had come in the form of a question, but there was no way he could say no.
He felt a little more settled as he climbed the steps to his bedroom. He wasn’t losing anyone. His family was growing.
- Milan Lucic -
He slipped the phone back in his pocket. Whether Price knew it or not, he was ready to mentor a new wolf. Alex had been under his care for three years and Price’s distance due to his injury had helped Alex rather than hinder him. It was proof that Alex was ready to have Price step back.
The forest was quiet around him. It was one of the only places in his home town where he felt safe enough to be himself, after years of having his grandfather’s name haunt his ever step.
He stripped and sank down to all fours, preparing himself for the change. It was always colder changing at night, but that soon wouldn’t be a problem.
Tonight the darkness seemed heavy. The usual path that he ran reeked of others and he felt like a stranger in his own home. He paused to sniff at a tree, finding it already marked by another animal. This usually happened when he came home and ran for the first time. A year of being away led to his space being used by others.
Usually it didn’t bother him, but tonight he felt a pang in his gut. It wasn’t territorial or anger, it was something else. He perked his ears up to listen, but heard no one. There was one small animal in the distance, some insects, and fireflies buzzing across his path but he still felt an ache.
He’d been alone for years, running alone, hiding his status, holding people at a distance, but that didn’t feel like enough anymore. Running with the other wolves at the cottage had felt right. He hadn’t tried to be nicer to them to draw them in but they came to him naturally. He thought of the younger wolves, rubbing against him during their run, of Pricer pressed against him as they slept.
He turned back, mood soured. He found his clothing and changed, slipping them on. The forest around him was pitch black, and he didn’t feel the usual buzz he got after runs.
Mostly he felt pissed off that he had allowed himself to be weakened by one weekend away, running with rivals from other teams.
And old teammates.
He hadn’t much paid attention to Tyler in his Boston days, just a cocky kid with a loud mouth and something to prove. Tyler had still had his usual good cheer at the cottage, but he had been quieter than Lucic remembered. More mature? They’d been right, Dallas did seem to be good for Tyler.
Lucic reached into his pocket, fishing around for his phone. He pulled it out and fired off a text.
Heard you’re in BC, wanna get together for a run?
He held his breath.
Yeah, let’s do it
Lucic smiled and tucked the phone away, the weight that had settled on his chest lifting slightly. He got up and trekked to his car. The next time he came here, he wouldn’t feel alone.
- Tyler Seguin -
He stood in the Benn’s childhood home, feeling overwhelmed. It was the first time he’d been able to meet Jamie’s family officially.
Well, not official. They hadn’t told everyone that they were together, but it felt more official because it wasn’t in the context of hockey.
They weren’t coming out. Not yet at least. Jordie knew, but had agreed not to say anything to their family until everyone was ready.
But when he stood here in Jamie’s childhood bedroom, everything suddenly felt very real. Maybe Jamie could tell, because he came up behind Tyler and wrapped his arms around his waist, holding him.
Tyler sighed heavily and leaned against Jamie.
“What are you thinking about?” Jamie asked quietly.
“My dogs,” Tyler said. He didn’t his trip to weight on Jamie too heavily, opting not to tell the truth just yet.
Jamie laughed. “Of course you are,” he said, biting at Tyler’s shoulder.
Tyler stepped out of the embrace. “God, not here.” He complained.
Jamie frowned, “What, don’t like all my old hockey posters watching us?”
Tyler eyed one of the fading Joe Sakic posters dubiously. “Nothing get me in the mood like aging men watching me get hot and heavy.”
Jamie’s nose pinched, but didn’t seem offended. “You okay being here? Not too weird?” he asked, gesturing to his room.
Tyler laughed, “No, not too weird. Wait until you see my old bedroom. What a disaster that is.”
Jamie’s eyes flashed, “Is that an invitation?”
Tyler smiled, “One day.”
Jamie didn’t push. They walked downstairs together, waving at Jordie and his sister as they exited through the backdoor. Tyler plopped himself down in the grass, Jamie sitting close but not touching.
Jamie was watching him, “What’s really wrong?”
“Just,” Tyler sighed and waved a hand around, “I don’t know. All of it. I hate having to hide that we’re dating.”
Jamie looked a little sad, “You were the one who was really against it.”
Tyler nodded, “I know. With this past year, getting registered, all that shit, it seemed like the best thing.” There was enough drama going on in their lives right now, especially in his own. He was finally doing his volunteer work with other wolves, helping to run an online resource for children and teens across Canada who are wolves. That was probably the best part of his life right now. That and Jamie.
Jamie was looking at him intensely. “It’s bothering you though?”
Tyler sighed and shrugged. “Nothing I can do about it.”
Jamie reached over and grabbed his hand, “Yes there is. We can go back into the house, and tell my sister that we’re dating. She’d love that. Then, tonight, we can tell my parents. They also would love that.”
Tyler looked over at him. “Are you sure?”
Jamie nodded. “I know that you’re a little hesitant to tell your dad, but this is something we can do now. They’ll understand that we aren’t telling anyone just yet.”
Tyler blinked, “Would you be okay with that? Do they even know you’re…”
Jamie gave him a half smile, “I think they suspect it. When Dad and Jordie made jokes when we were young, they were more prompting than hurtful.”
Tyler hesitated, still unsure. He would never want to have Jamie out himself to his family just to bring Tyler a small amount of relief, but the look on Jamie’s face... He looked determined and sure. Tyler smiled, “Yeah, I’d like that.”
Jamie smiled and stood. “Okay, awesome.”
Tyler stood. They looked towards the door. Neither of them moved.
“Are we going to…?” Tyler asked, jerking his head towards the house.
Jamie sucked in a deep breath, “Yeah, give me a sec.”
A second turned into a minute. “You good?”
“Just thinking of what to say.”
“How about, ‘you’ve been teasing us for years but it’s finally happened’?”
Jamie huffed, “No, that’s too casual.”
Tyler smiled, “I think that’s all it’s going to take.”
“How do you know?” Jamie asked.
Tyler pointed towards the door, “Because it looks like she’s waiting for us.”
Jamie looked over at the door to see his sister taking them in. They were standing close, way closer than bros should stand. The space between them was obviously intimate, even though they weren’t touching. Her face said it all.
Jamie sighed, “Fuck, let’s get this over with.”
Tyler smiled. Jamie wrapped his hand around Tyler’s and dragged him towards the house. This was going to be a great trip.
- Andre Burakovsky -
“You’re seriously going to live with your parents, over us.” Tom said flatly.
Andre’s face pinched up in confusion, “Yes, that’s why they’re coming to Washington. To live with me.”
Mike sat on his other side, listening intensely to the conversation. Tom looked to him for help. Mike sighed, “It’s not going to be weird? Everyone is living away from home, being independent, and you’ve brought your home here?”
Andre let out a huff, “Who’s living independently? You two could use a babysitter. You bought 3 bottles of ketchup, who even uses that much ketchup?” He looked at Tom, accusation clear in his eyes, “You don’t even like ketchup, why the hell did you let him buy three bottles?”
Tom looked offended, but Mike jumped in first, “Andre. We’re just saying that the offer is on the table. We miss our little Caps roomie.” He said fondly, running a hand through Andre’s hair.
Andre wanted to pout, but he loved having his hair played with. He leaned into it, scooting up closer to Mike. Silence settled over them. Andre turned himself so that he was facing Mike, side pressed up into the couch. He rested his head against the back of the cushion.
Mike was watching him, fingers carding through his hair. The couch shifted as Tom moved closer, but Andre wasn’t paying attention to him. He let his eyes drift shut and shivered as Mike’s nails scrapped across his skull.
The hand slipped down lower, massaging around his ear, moving lower again to skim his jawline. Andre’s breath caught as Mike’s fingertip brushed along his cheek, skimming his cheekbones.
He opened his eyes as someone’s breath ghosted against his lips. Mike was much closer now, watching him intensely through hooded eyes.
“Hi,” Andre breathed. He jumped when Tom’s hand slid around his waist, holding him.
Mike smiled, “Hi Burkie.”
Andre glanced back at Tom, who had on a similarly dorky expression. “I’m confused.”
When he turned back to look at Mike, he underestimated the distance, moving too quickly. Their lips brushed, noses knocking. He went to jerk back, but Tom’s hand had slid to his back, holding him in place. Mike moved back a bit, but not enough for the space to become any less intimate.
Andre swallowed. “Still confused,” he breathed.
Tom shifted so he was now within sight of Andre, their knees pushing together as he perched on the edge of the couch. “We want you to move back in with us.”
“Why?” Andre asked, looking between the two of them.
Mike smiled, “We missed you. Plus, Tommy and I have always had a soft spot for you, kid.”
Andre frowned, looking at Tom. “You guys have to be more clear.”
Tom sighed, “We fucked up last time. We wanted to bring you into our relationship, but you moved out instead.”
When Andre still looked confused, Mike smiled. “We know you saw us around the house. That was Willy trying to get you to join.”
Andre’s nose pinched, “Gross, that’s an awful idea.”
Tom smiled, “Yeah, we realized after you moved out.”
Andre snorted, “That was serious your best idea? I thought you were trying to get me to move out.”
Tom looked startled, “Why would you think that?”
Andre turned towards him, “You try watching people make out all the time and feel like you’re intruding not on something.” He shot Mike a look, “And you’re okay with all of this?”
Mike gave him a sly smile, “I used to get Tom to tell me all the things he wanted to do to you.”
That went surprisingly straight to Andre’s gut, twisting and stirring inside of him. He throat felt a little dry, “Oh.”
Tom propped himself up straighter, “Oh? That’s all you’re going to say?”
Andre swallowed, “Um.”
Tom and Mike exchanged a look. It did not bode well for Andre. Mike slipped a hand down to rest heavily on Andre’s knee. It was warm. Or maybe that was just Andre, the look Mike was giving him made his cheeks heat. “How about this. You get your parents settled. You can stay with us whenever you want, and see if you want to move in again.” He leaned forwards a bit more, “And if you want, Tom and I can show you just how good of a roommate we can be.” He said hotly, his thumb rubbing soothing circles into the sensitive skin of Andre’s inner knee.
Andre looked at Tom, “Yeah?”
Tom smiled, “Yes Burkie.”
Andre nodded slowly, looking at each of them purposefully, “After momma and papa are moved in properly.”
Mike nodded, but Tom pouted, “Why can’t we start now?”
Mike swatted at him, “Don’t be an ass, Burkie’s got enough shit to worry about now.”
“Fine. But can we just make out a bit and then Burkie can decide if he wants to join in right away or not?”
Andre sighed, “If we are going to do this, can you call me Andre? Burkie is for hockey.”
Mike gave him a sweet smile, “Yeah Andre, whatever you want.”
“I want you to play with my hair some more.”
Tom didn’t look happy with the suggestion, but Mike nodded. “Of course.”
Andre leaned back so he was settled against Tom’s chest. Tom seemed happier with the arrangement.
It didn’t take long before the three of them found themselves tangled up on the couch, with Andre sandwiched into the middle. His head was resting against Tom’s chest, turned towards the television. No one was really watching it. Mike was draped across the lower half of Andre’s body now, his head rising and falling with Andre’s breathing.
He felt his eyes drooping shut. Tom reached down and brushed the hair back out of his eyes. Mike seemed to be on his way out too.
Andre tilted his head up to look at Tom, “Should we move off you if we wanna sleep?”
Tom shrugged and settled in more, “I’m fine if you are.”
Andre nodded and closed his eyes, nuzzling gently against Tom’s chest.
Tom’s fingers trailed down Andre’s spine, making him shiver.
“If my legs fall asleep though, I’m kicking your fat asses off me.”
Mike whined. Andre laughed. They fell asleep to the dull hum of the television in the background.
- Nicky Backstrom -
Nicky couldn’t sleep. It happened sometimes after runs, still too keyed up to doze off. It was a mix of that and all of the excitement from the day.
Andre had decided to come out to the public. It was a very small, private press conference that had only a limited amount of media representatives present. Well, plus the whole team. They had insisted that they needed to be there, having been there for Nicky’s. They wouldn’t allow themselves to be told they weren’t allowed, so whatever guys hadn’t gone home for the summer were crowded in the small room, behind all of the journalists and cameras. Andre had beamed when he spotted them.
Nicky had been filled with anxiety, but he had never seen Andre look so certain.
The media had been much more delicate with Andre than they had been with Nicky and some of the other wolves. At this point, four wolves had come out in one year. It was no longer a novelty thing. It helped that the Caps PR people had hand picked the people present, only those who had conducted themselves respectfully around the team and the players. Why they hadn’t done that when he came out was beyond him, but he was glad that Andre could have that. It was for the best, he also had to explain to them about his unregistered status, and to the wrong person, they could rip him apart with that information.
But despite all of the stress and the discomfort of the situation, Andre held himself with pride, accepting their questions and navigating them with grace.
Nicky had never been so proud. Andre was going to be a great player.
Fingers on his hip drew him back to the present. Alex was looking up at him in confusion, sleep still in his eyes.
Nicky smiled and reached down, running his fingers down Alex’s arm. Alex propped himself up and blinked the sleep from his eyes. He squinted at Nicky in the darkening sky, “I can hear you. Thinking too loud, Nicky.”
Nicky laughed, “Nothing bad.”
Alex pushed himself up and drew his knees up, draping his arms over them. “Andre?”
Nicky nodded, “He’s going to be okay.”
“Not going home for the summer?”
“No, he said something about going to Ontario for part of the summer though.”
Alex frowned, “Why? His parents are in Washington now, no?”
Nicky couldn’t help the smile that slid onto his face, “Yeah, but Tom and Mike are in Ontario.”
Understanding filled Alex’s eyes and he laughed, “Of course.” He shook his head fondly.
“What about you, are you staying here?” Nicky asked, though he already knew the answer.
Alex shook his head, “I fly home in three days.”
Nicky nodded. It wasn’t unexpected, just sooner than he’d thought.
Alex nudged him with his elbow playfully, “I’m close, Nicky. We can visit. All the time.”
Nicky smiled over at him, “I know, Alex. We will.”
Alex didn’t look overly convinced, “So why are you still pouting?”
“Pouting?” Nicky’s words were clipped, “I’m not pouting.”
Alex nodded sagely, “Sulking like a child.”
Nicky whacked Alex’s hand from his knee. He ignored the hurt look he’d gotten, Alex should really have known better than to mess with him this soon after a change. Alex grumbled at him and got up to put on his clothes.
Nicky watched him disappear behind a thicket and decided that he was being rude. He sighed and hauled himself to his feet, following after Alex.
“I’m sorry, Alex.”
Alex had his back to him, pants back on, pulling a shirt over his head. “Yeah, yeah, Nicky. It’s fine.”
Nicky didn’t like the feeling his words left in his chest. He whined and stepped up behind him. “Alex.”
Alex peered over his shoulder at Nicky and huffed, smoothing out his shirt and pulling on a sweater. It was a little cold, but Nicky’s skin was still burning. There was no need for sweaters. Nicky pulled himself against Alex, running his hands down Alex’s sides and pulling him into an embrace.
Alex was stiff in his arms. Nicky huffed and nosed at Alex’s hairline, breathing him in. “I’m sorry Alex,” he said again, sincerely this time.
Alex was still tense.
Alex sighed and turned in Nicky’s arms, “Stop sulking, that’s all I ask.”
Nicky huffed, “I’m trying.”
Alex smiled and dropped a kiss on Nicky’s cheek. “I know. Smile, you did a good just this season. Next year we’ll be even better.”
Nicky nodded, but he felt unsure. This season had presented too many ups and downs for them. Hard work all year just to have their run ended by defeat. He still felt bitterly about it, weeks later.
In term of wolves, this year had been awful, but had ended on a high note. They were taking the right steps towards making the league a better place. The important thing was to concentrate on making the environment for the wolves they had better, and making it a safer space for them the play in.
All he could hope for was that next season, there would be nothing new. No new rules, no new restrictions, just their little pack moving towards making next season as normal as possible.
He could do that, as long as he had his team, his pack and Alex.
His phone vibrated, cutting through the moment he and Alex had been having. Nicky sighed, but Alex motioned for him to check it.
Nicky did. His face dropped instantly. Alex looked concerned, checking the phone over his shoulder. He barked out a laugh.
Carey Price 9:26pm
Auston fucking Matthews is a god damn wolf.
Nicky closed his eyes as Alex pulled him into another tight hug. “It will be okay,” Alex murmured, “Another pup for your family.” Nicky could practically hear the smile in his voice.
He sighed, but as much as he hated to admit it, in the end it would probably be okay. What’s the worse that one new pup could do in their league?
Guys, thank you so, SO much to all of you who stayed up until the very end. It was a lot of fun to write this story, but it was even more fun to read all of the comments that you took the time to write. The thought and effort you put into each one meant so much to me, as it helped challenge and improve me as a writer and make this story an even better one.
We went on this journey together, and I couldn't be happier! Sappy af, but I'm going to miss writing this one.
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