“You’re far north, old man,” Phil says. A short, squat man stands in the mouth of his cave, small round glasses perched on his old, weathered face. Phil closes his eyes and resettles his head; there’s no danger here. The wizard, Rutherford, has been around a long time. A rock is digging into the soft underside of his tail, but moving seems like too much trouble. He’ll deal with it later.
“Well,” Rutherford says, hands crossed behind him. He’s dressed simply, well-made black suit, shiny shoes. “Pittsburgh is in need of a new dragon.”
Pittsburgh is forever in need of a new dragon. Phil breathes out. “And what does this have to do with me?”
Rutherford steps closer and Phil opens one eye. “I’ve talked to your wizard-“
Phil interrupts, “Toronto has no wizard.”
“Soon, soon,” Rutherford says, unperturbed, “and I think a deal could be worked out.”
Toronto is a demanding city, but Phil has grown to love it. “They say the water in Pittsburgh is cursed.”
“No, no,” Rutherford says, “just a longer than normal run of bad luck. We’re reworking the spells as we speak.” He pushes his glasses up his bulbed nose. “I think we can do good things together. American fans will appreciate an American dragon.”
“My scales run blue,” Phil says.
Rutherford hums. “I’m sure you’ll remember how to wear black and gold again in no time. Think about it; I’ll be in touch.” Phil watches as he disappears out the cave mouth and out of sight.
Phil goes back to sleep.
The deal still comes as a surprise when it’s made. Bozak is sitting cross legged at Phil’s feet when the news breaks.
“Ah,” Phil says, smoke curling delicately from the corners of his mouth.
“Ah,” Bozak echoes.
Crosby sends him a welcome missive immediately. The weird, staticky aura that surrounds Crosby apparently travels with his texts. Phil flexes his hand slightly. Perhaps, that’s why Crosby avoids most modern technologies.
“Is that Crosby?” Amanda asks. Her eyebrows are drawn in close over a scrunched nose.
Phil shakes his head. “We’re teammates now.”
Evgeni Malkin is a large man, Phil supposes. It’s hard to take someone with so little weight about them seriously, though. Malkin’s got a weird face like he never quite got the hang of shifting into his human form as a child.
“Welcome to Pittsburgh,” Malkin says, “Best team.”
Phil nods and keeps his thoughts to himself.
The Pittsburgh locker room is strange, a mishmash of beings, some magical, some not. It’s easy to see the nucleus of the team, the ease they have with each other, but also the frustration that clings. Phil settles into his locker and waits.