Carson had been a ball of energy since he woke up, the energy building as the day went on, and it bubbled over as he pulled into the garage at the Farg. He bounced his leg as he sat in his stall, fully dressed, while most of the team were still getting their pads on.
“Hey, kid,” Sean grinned, dropping into the stall next to his as Claude calmly took the seat on the other side, “Nervous?”
“G,” Carson whined, looking over at Claude, whose lips quirked up in a small, amused smile.
“Coots, go bug Jake,” Claude chuckled.
“You never let me stay for your ‘talks’.” Sean pouted but still stood up and went to bother Jake - who was trying to figure out what to fine Patty and Teeks for what he had witnessed in the garage. Claude hadn’t asked for details and had walked away with his hands over his ears when Jake tried to tell him anyway.
“I’ve dreamed about this,” Carson mumbled, “My whole life. And now it’s here. And… what if I screw up? What if I suck? I… I don’t want to disappoint dad… or you.”
“Kid,” Claude sighed, expression softening as he threw an arm around Carson, “You could never disappoint me or your dad. You’ve worked your whole life to be here. You earned this chance. And Danny and I are so proud of you. Win or lose. No matter what.”
“Got any advice?” Carson glanced over at Claude.
“Take a deep breath,” Claude responded, “Every time you feel like you’re losing it, take a deep breath. Center yourself in the moment and don’t think about what comes next, just what’s happening in the present.”
“Is that what my dad said to you?” Carson asked, leaning into G a little more as he took a deep breath.
“No,” Claude grinned, “he said, ‘if you play well tonight, you can move in with me and help me raise my monsters and then - ten years later - we can get married and adopt another one.”
“Funny G,” Carson huffed out a laugh, not feeling as nervous as he had been.
“You’ll be great,” Claude nudged him gently, “I know you will be.”
“Been saying that to me since I was a kid,” Carson rolled his eyes.
“Been true since you were a kid.”
Claude walked to stand next to Carson until the younger man’s name was announced.
“Take a deep breath,” he muttered.
Carson rolled his eyes but did as G told him to do. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he opened his eyes. A beat later, his name was called.
“Go on,” Claude grinned, knocking their heads together.
Carson grinned and tapped his stick against Claude’s shins before taking to the ice.
“You doing okay, Papa G?” Sean asked, bumping Claude’s shoulder.
“Yeah,” Claude replied with a smile.
“How much did you and Danny cry today?”
“Who said Danny stopped?”
Sean laughed and said, “Ready?”
“Let’s do it this year.”
Sean nodded, setting his Game Face in place and stepping onto the ice when his name announced.
And then it was Claude’s turn. He took a deep breath, centered himself, and then skated onto the ice, barely containing his smile when he caught site of Caelan, Cameron, and Danny - little Catherine in his arms - standing at the glace.
“Good luck,” Danny mouthed at him when their eyes met.
And Claude couldn’t contain his smile any longer.