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A forward in the net is better than three on a breakaway

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He’s not entirely sure what sets Hartsy off.

One minute they’re getting ready for practice, waiting for the visiting Habs to leave the ice when a shrill cry pierces the air. The next, Price has a broken stick in one hand, his own goalie stick in the other, his blocker discarded on the ice and someone in a Habs practice jersey is curled up in the net behind him. Price is growling at Weber, who’s clearly trying to calm him down, talking to him in a low voice. The shrill scream rips through the air again, Kevin’s not sure he’s ever heard something like that before. It’s inhuman and it makes his insides twist. It sounds hurt and angry and when it comes again, it’s so, so hauntingly sad. The rink is quiet, not a single skate blade crossing the ice, no music, no voices. Just the quiet hum of whatever mechanics are keeping the ice cold. It takes him a few seconds to realize that it’s Hartsy making the noises.

Jake curses and a scuffle breaks out, the screaming has changed to growling and G is yelling. Kevin is nearly mowed down by their goalie, he gets a massive whack with a stick and the goalie turned freight train is fighting all four of them, eyes fixed on Price at the far crease, teeth bared and spit flying through the bars in his helmet. Between Jake, Moose, Provy and himself, they manage to hold Hartsy back, but he’s very unhappy and he never stops struggling.

G is on the ice, arms flying around as he argues with Weber, he keeps pointing to the goal

They draw a crowd, most of the Habs are still around, hovering around the ice, none of them close to their menace of a goaltender. Price is a terrifying thing to behold on a normal day, Kevin shudders slightly at the idea of him actually nesting. The man might actually commit murder. Crazy goalies, man. Hartsy must sense his attention being diverted as he throws his weight against Kevin, trying to break free from their hold.

Jake is literally on Hartsy’s back now, arms and legs and skates wrapped around like a massive ginger boa constrictor.

He can see Gallagher skate up to Weber and whisper something, pointing to the tunnel and whatever it is, it makes G pause and laugh, once, a tired sounding chuckle.

G comes back, eyes fixed on Carter who’s stopped growling and thrashing mostly but he’s still shooting looks towards the goal and whimpering, like a puppy who’s been left outside the door. Jake has climbed off his back, but he’s got his arms around their goalie still, neither of them trusting this as an actual submission. He’s still a feral nesting goalie armed with blades on his feet and a stick.

“What the fuck happened?” Jake sounds like he’s been handed three game misconducts and then been told to do press, naked, both things he loathes

“I’m not sure, Suzuki came over and said something to Hartsy before he took off for the goal, then Price tripped Suzuki after he scored and when he tumbled into the goal Hartsy just snapped. Does he bite?” TK is an idiot, but he’s also a hopeless gossip

“What did Suzuki say, Teeks?”

“I dunno, does it matter? I still think we should publicly shame him after that head tap last season”

“I think, uhh, I think Carter might be upset Suzuki went into Price’s net” that’s Moose, he’s a goalie too, he’ll know what to do

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Carter never nested before, and I don’t think I’ve met a goalie who nests alone. I don’t and I think he’s, uh” Moose looks incredibly uncomfortable, eyes darting between Carter who’s still glaring daggers at the goal and the other guys, still wrapped around their goalie, who’s started to trash around again,

“He’s what?” G asks, looking back towards Weber who’s skated closer, eyes on Carter

“I’m not sure but, I think he uh, he might be a little jealous. Of Price. Because it’s, uh, Suzuki, in there”

“He’s jealous? Why?”

Someone laughs behind them, and Kevin is almost momentarily blinded by the trademark megawatt smile that follows the laugh

“Baby goalie star wants to nest with Suzuki and he’s unhappy you’re holding him down and that Price has decided to go shopping in Gap Kids. Hey Carter, you wanna nest with Suzuki right? Lemme go get my man yeah? Then you can go build Nicky a nice little nest, yeah?” Subban seems completely unfazed

“You orange knuckleheads need to follow my lead okay, imma get Price off your hands and baby goalie here can get his man. But we need to get to the door at least, and uh, you should be ready to drag him back, in case this goes south. Once Pricey sees me, near your guy, he’s gonna be a little upset, so don’t follow me but once we’re out you need to let your little guy go to Nicky, alright?” Subban smiles at them, entirely at ease with the whole situation as he walks towards the gate, looking back at them, winking once before he steps out onto the ice

“Yo Pricey, you old dog, you hurt my feelings - imagine what I felt like when Gally called and said you’ve traded me for a younger model” Subban’s voice is loud in the quiet rink, Weber has his head turned upwards as if to the heavens, Gallagher looks annoyed and relieved at the same time and TK is looking at the whole thing like it’s prime entertainment.

Carter is still growling and it’s only when Price screams once, high and dangerous and zips up the ice, that he tenses up and tries to get away from them.

Price rams into Subban with significant force and growls lowly as he wraps his arms around him sticks and all.

“Missed me, Pricey? You’re driving me crazy man, what’s the point of a schedule if you’re not going to stick to it” Subban is still yapping, completely relaxed in Pricey’s arms

“The boys got a nice bag of jerseys ready, yeah? And my hotel room has a nice tub. Let’s go, and you can build me a nice nest. Come on” he’s pushing at his former goalie now, angling him towards the other end of the rink, away from a struggling Carter and a speechless Flyers team.

Subban is pulling at Price, who’s planted his head firmly against his neck, helmet perched up on his forehead, and doing something that should probably not happen on the ice - Subban has clearly realized this too and he laughs and swats at Price, turning to walk away, dragging the goalie behind him as Price seems unwilling to let go of him “Whoa calm down buddy, no exhibition shit alright. It’s enough you wanted to go cradle robbing eh, just come on, yeah?”

Suzuki is sitting up in the net, eyes wide, and he’s looking at the whole thing before him. He looks a little green, and when Subban has gotten Price all the way to the door and almost down the tunnel, Weber and Gallagher are with him, kneeling down and talking to him. Kevin can’t hear what they’re saying, but Suzuki is nodding and looking around Weber to where the Flyers are still trying to restrain their goalie

Gallagher looks back towards the tunnel and when there’s a low whistle, he leans down towards Suzuki and then says something to Weber who gets up, skates by the visiting bench and accepts a bag handed to him by one of the training staff before skating towards the home team.

G is still on the ice, in front of the Hart holding procession, and Weber skates up to him

“Uh so it seems that Hart is going to nest, uh, with Nick” TK is making weird little wheezing sounds, clearly trying not to laugh

“We talked to him and he’s never nested with someone before but he says him and H- Carter are friends and he is willing to go with him” Kevin has never studied Shea Weber’s face before but he looks very uncomfortable, almost constipated for a moment before his eyes narrow and he draws himself up to his full height and stares G down

“Pricey went into premature nesting, we think it’s because he’s protective of Nicky and Carter may have triggered him. I think, we’re just lucky PK was out here to watch and meet us after anyways. But, I swear if that kid hurts him, I sure as fuck won’t hold Pricey back from tearing out his throat” Kevin has a vague idea that it is no idle threat

“Carter won’t hurt him. We’ll get the jerseys ready and they can head to Hartsy's bower” G sounds like this is normal, for their goalie to go into nesting and deciding the best person is a forward from another team “I guess they’ll both need to be healthy scratches”

“We’re losing two players, you’re losing one. It hardly seems fair, but I’m not going to get between them” which okay, fair enough, they’re at an advantage by Price not being in goal, having a high scoring forward out of the mix helps too

“Gally, get your ass off the ice before they let the goalie go” Weber yells then, which is the only warning they get before Hartsy starts thrashing even more and the second Gallagher swings over the boards, the team lets go of Hartsy

He’s shoots away like an orange bullet, chirping loudly the whole way - making actual bird like sounds. Suzuki is still sitting in the net, helmet off and gloves resting in his lap. They can’t really see Suzuki’s reaction but the second Hartsy reaches the goal, his entire demeanor changes and he reaches out his glove hand to wrap around the forward and pull him to his chest, it’s gentle, so gentle compared to the thrashing he was doing just moments ago and, for a moment, it’s all peaceful. Then Hartsy growls, drags Suzuki up like a rag doll and actually throws him over his shoulder, pads and skates and all and determinedly skates towards the far door.

“So uh, you need to get them to his bower and give them the jerseys, throw in some of yours too. For the nest and, call up another goalie” Gallagher offers, before helping Weber herd their team back towards the locker room

“Does Hartsy have a bower?” Kevin doesn’t even know where to look for one, and apparently TK is still the king of stupid questions

“What’s a bower?” He asks

Patty smacks him over the back of his head

“Their bower is their little cave room where they can nest and feel safe you idiot, of course he has one. We just have to hope he won’t kill Suzuki in there”

“So Hartsy and Suzuki...” Jake offers, he’s a little fidgety, looking like he’s strongly considering following their goalie

“They’ll be fine, Weber said he’s prepared Suzuki for what, uh, to expect and well, Hartsy seemed happy enough to see him. So. Let’s just get on with practice”

“So no shovel talk?” Jake sounds a little upset, he enjoys threatening people a little too much

“What - for Suzuki? Dude he’s about to have two or three days of intense adoration and attention and uh” Moose cuts himself off, face red

“Wait! they’re going to bang in there?” TK looks like a child on Christmas morning

“Not necessarily, I mean, some do, but there’s like. I can’t explain it. It’s not exactly Carter calling the shots? He just wants to build a nest and protect Su- Nick, and yeah I mean, if they’re comfortable it’s a possibility but it’s up to him, cuddles can be enough too. Like the caps have a whole sign up sheet and practically fight for the right to nest with their goalies so. It’s not a bad experience” Moose decided he’s had enough of the third degree then and shoves past them to hit the ice. Kevin briefly considers Holtby going feral like that and shuts that thought down before he can make himself uncomfortable. Holtby isn’t even a cap anymore. Even if he’s pretty.

Okay.

No.

Practice.