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Tell Me (Howe Much You Love Me)

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When Gabriel gets back to the locker room after his post-three stars interview with Lauren, he’s expecting the chaos, the noise- he’s not expecting his team huddled around his locker.

“Hey!” He shouts, striking the butt-end of his stick against the carpet. “What’s going on over here?”

The guys nearly bowl him over, crowding around him, pulling and pushing him towards his locker, towards- Tyson.

“Tys,” Gabe breathes, feeling his cheeks hurts with how wide he’s smiling. “Hi.”

Tyson beams at him through the phone screen, leaning toward the camera. He looks so soft in his t-shirt- in Gabe’s Avalanche shirsey, god. “You looked good out there tonight,” Tyson says. “Gordie Howe, huh?”

Gabe wants- he wants Tyson to actually be there, physically in the room with them, with their team, sweaty and red after a hard fought, well-earned victory. He wants to hold Tyson in his arms, hug him so hard they merge into one person so Gabe never has to be without him again. Gabe wants so much that he just can’t have, so he’ll settle for this- for Tyson on FaceTime, looking back at him like he knows every thought Gabe just had, like wants all that too. He nudges Nate off to the side so he has enough room to strip out of his gear, and smiles and hums as Tyson gives a dramatic retelling of the entire game, calling out praise to the entire team, even the guys who came in after Tyson left. (Gabe still messes up sometimes, when he sees the number four on the ice again, calling for Tyson instead of Byram. He apologizes every time, and he knows he’s got to compartmentalize before the kid starts to resent him)

Gabe reaches out, holding onto the edge of his stall to take off his skates, not wanting Tyson to be out of his sight even for the minute it takes to undo his skate laces. Tyson stops mid-sentence, clearing his throat.

“Gabe, you know the locker room’s empty, right?”

Gabe whips his head up and around and- Tyson’s right, the entire locker room’s emptied out, either to the showers or to their respective homes and that’s- he should feel guilty for not paying close enough attention to his team, but-

“Don’t worry,” Tyson says dryly. “Nate and the rookies made sure everyone gave Mom and Dad some privacy.”

Gabe’s heart hurts at the old “team parents” joke. He misses that. Misses the way Tyson would make sure everyone knew that Gabe’s the mom, obviously, have you seen how much he mother hens all the rookies?

“You know they’re not actually rookies anymore, right? Technically they’re vets.”

Tyson scowls. “Stop reminding me of the passage of time, Landy, you’re making me feel old.”

“Don’t worry baby,” Gabe croons, stripping off his Underarmour shirt. “I’ll still love you when you’re old and decrepit and need to take out your dentures at night.”

“Don’t you dare compare me to EJ when I’m trying to seduce you,” Tyson moans, dropping his head into his hands.

Gabe bursts out laughing. “Oh, is that what this is all about? You’re just trying to get into my pants?”

“There’s still people here!” Saad yells, barely stopping by his own locker to pick up his things on his way out the door. “And there’s still a few guys in the shower, so please try not to traumatize the kids.”

“Girard’s definitely walked in on worse,” Tyson calls after him, leaning in his desk chair as if he could follow Saad out the door. He sits back in his seat, shrugging at Gabe. “So. Looks like the locker room and the showers are out of the question. Where you gonna take me now, big guy?” He wags his eyebrows playfully. “A utility closet? Matt’s office?”

“I have a perfectly nice house, you know. You might even remember it a little.”

Tyson’s playful exterior melts into pure fondness. “Yeah,” he says softly. “I’ve got some good memories of that place.” He blinks quickly, and he and Gabe both pretend neither of them are getting misty-eyed. Tyson smiles at the camera again, a little sleepy and a lot like he never wants to look away. “You gonna take me home, babe?”

“Yeah,” Gabe says hoarsely, swallowing past the lump forming in his throat. “Yeah, älskling, let’s go home.”