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Title: Holding Nemo
Author: james
Rating: PG13
Pairing: Douglas Murray/Antti Niemi
Disclaimer: not mine, no profit made
Notes: Set during the 9-game road trip. I've chosen to ignore Murray's injury during that time. *handwaves*
Summary: Long road trips suck when you're losing. But someone has to make sure the goalie's ready for the next game. Dougie actually likes having this job.



Road trips can be a lot of fun -- not when they're losing, of course, but Dougie's pretty sure that even if they were winning, they'd all be sick of each other by now. Maybe not; winning can make a guy overlook a lot of things, like finding someone else's dirty socks in your duffel and fighting over the good graces of the hotel's housekeeping service for getting your clean laundry back in time for check out.

He thinks that some of the guys just said fuck it and headed out for a laundromat, but they aren't leaving until morning and what's the point of being a millionaire professional hockey player if you can't have someone else do your laundry when you haven't been home in ten days.

He thinks it's been ten days. He isn't really sure. But he's not the one driving; he doesn't have to have his shit together until his skates hit the ice.

Dougie doesn't really feel like his shit has been together lately when his skates hit the ice. None of them do, which is part of why he's stalking up and down this stretch of hallway instead of hanging out in the hotel bar getting as drunk as they can reasonably get with a travel day between games. Most of the guys who aren't in the hotel bar have already retreated to their own rooms for a change, not hanging out and shooting the shit and watching movies like usual -- everyone's sick of seeing the same faces.

Dougie thinks that, really, they're sick of seeing the guilt and disappointment on each other's faces. No one seems to be able to figure out what's wrong, at least not well enough to fix it. And that's the other reason he's standing out in the hallway, pacing up and down outside Nemo's room.

Thornton's downstairs, corralling the guys drowning their sorrows and making sure none of them break an ankle on their way back to their rooms or something. When Dougie had left, their captain was doing his best to keep everyone's head up, focusing on the next game instead of the last six. Everyone except Nemo, because that's Dougie's job.

Normally he likes his job, thank you very much. But Dougie's not really in the mood to be cheerful and encouraging, because they're all playing like they forgot how big the net is or how the laws of physics say you have to actually shoot the puck in order to score a goal. But Antti's his job, and the rest of the team can suck donkey balls as long as the goalie's keeping them in the game.

Neither Niemi nor Greiss has been doing well, but Dougie saw the look on Nemo's face when they got back to the hotel, and -- yeah, okay, he'd be here anyway even if Thornton hadn't given him a Look and jerked his head towards the elevators when Dougie had tried to join in for a beer or ten.

He knocks on the door and waits, isn't surprised when he doesn't get an answer. He knows Nemo's not asleep, probably won't be for hours yet if left to his own devices. Luckily Dougie knows this about him, so he takes the card he swiped from Greiss and uses it to let himself in.

As expected, Antti's sitting at the foot of the bed, lights off, staring down at the fugly-red carpet and not even blinking when Dougie walks in. With a sigh, Dougie just shakes his head. "Right. I'm not screwing around. You're going to stop sulking. You're going to relax and get some fucking sleep, so you can be rested and focused for the next game."

It takes about a million years, but Antti finally looks up at him. It takes even longer for his eyes to focus, and for a long moment Dougie wonders if Antti's drunk off his ass -- which would be a welcome change, because drunk and passed out is a damn good way of getting the man to sleep.

Then Nemo scowls and Dougie should have known it wasn't going to be that easy. He holds up a hand when Antti opens his mouth.

"No," he says. "You're sulking and I'm here to stop you, and like I said I'm not in the mood to shoot the shit until you feel like admitting you're sulking. You have two choices," Dougie says as he kicks off his shoes and climbs onto the bed, tugging at Nemo's arm. He wants to curl around him, close his eyes and pretend this awful road trip is already over and they're going home with three more wins.

Instead they've got days more of this to get through and they're not going to if Nemo stays up all night staring at the floor. Dougie does curl forward a little, because Antti's still glaring at him and still not talking, which means he's working himself up into a stubborn snit about sulking anyway, dammit.

"Two choices," he repeats, because he's learned the hard way not to bother waiting for Nemo to carry his share of a conversation. "You can scoot back and we'll sit here and watch a movie, and afterwards you'll go to sleep like a good goalie and dream about sheep blocking pucks in front of the net."

There's a brief glare from Antti, but Dougie barely pauses, knowing that he isn't going to leap into the conversation without a lot more prodding.

"Or you can lay back and get a blowjob, and fall asleep and dream about amazingly hot hockey players who are rock gods in their spare time."

He gets one lifted eyebrow at that, and Dougie grins, despite the annoyed look still on Nemo's face.

"What's it gonna be?"

"You're serious?" Nemo finally asks, and he sounds like he's forgotten half his English again. Dougie has threatened before to set him down and force him to watch shows on PBS aimed at toddlers until he learns the basics. He's not above doing it again, if necessary -- though not tonight. Tonight's about movies where things get blown to shit with badass guns wielded by guys with more biceps than one man should ever be blessed with. Or blowjobs. Dougie isn't picky.

Nemo's still scowling at him, so Dougie tugs at his arm again, because either choice involves being somewhere other than the foot of the bed.

"You're serious," Nemo says again, and Dougie just nods.

"Movie and a cuddle, or blowjobs. You decide, though I should warn you, in about half an hour Thornton's gonna be sneaking up to the door to make sure you're not still sulking. There better be some kind of noise or he's gonna break down the door. Do you want that? Because I don't want that." Dougie shakes his head ruefully, even though Thornton has never actually followed through on his implied threats. Usually he's content to let Dougie take care of this, and Dougie doesn't waste time worrying about the vague feeling he has that if anyone else tried to handle Antti's post-loss sulks, Dougie would take them down at the knees.

That's not the point. The point is that Antti's sitting alone in a dark room telling himself that he's a horrible goalie and not working hard enough and generally beating himself up until he can get back in the crease and try to show himself that he's better than that. Dougie leans in and places a light kiss on Antti's shoulder, glancing up at him to see if anything in his expression has changed.

Antti's just looking at him like movies and blowjobs are the worst suggestion ever, compared to sulking alone and being miserable. Dougie rolls his eyes. He wants to just tell him to pick something, or he'll pick one himself and just get on with it, because it's late and he's tired and sort of miserable, himself. But this close, he can see Antti's eyes in the dark. Everything Dougie can imagine going through the other man's head right now, all the blame and second-guessing and chastisements are sounding so very real right now. He knows -- he's heard it before, in his own head, though normally he does a better job of shutting it out than Antti ever does.

Antti lets it drag him down until all he can hear are the reasons why he failed and why the team shouldn't ever trust him again. Dougie runs his thumb across Nemo's cheek, and he's close enough he could kiss him, if he turned his body just a little more. He doesn't, not yet, because Antti hasn't chosen what he wants. He knows what the other man wants to say, and Dougie beats him to it, because Antti will sit here for hours without saying a word if Dougie wasn't here to pester him into it.

"You're going to tell me to go, because you think you don't deserve a reward. That blowjobs are for celebrating wins and movies and cuddling are just euphemisms for making out on the couch -- er, or bed, what the fuck ever -- and you don't think you deserve that right now, either. You know what?" Dougie looks at him; stares at him from close enough Antti can feel his breath as he talks.

Antti isn't moving away, but his eyes have narrowed and Dougie knows that means he's arguing with him.

Sometimes Dougie thinks about learning Finnish, it's practically like Swedish anyway, though when he says shit like that Antti refuses to even look at him for days. But it doesn't matter because he's pretty sure Antti isn't talkative in his own language, either. Screw it; he can fill in the blanks by himself.

"Losing sucks," he says. "This road trip so far has sucked. We've all sucked, and none of us is playing our best, and yeah, that includes you. It includes me. None of us deserve shit right now, except the chance to get back out there and try again. This isn't about making you think you're still a wonderful person despite the fact we lost. This is about the fact that if you sit here all night you're going to feel like shit tomorrow, and you're just gonna keep beating yourself up until the game starts. And you know what? If you don't sleep I guarantee you will play for shit. You think you sucked in Columbus? You'll suck even worse if you don't close your fucking eyes and let yourself sleep and relax for long enough that your brain isn't complete mush by game time."

He stops and takes a deep breath, and he's just a little startled when Antti speaks. "You came here to tell me I suck?" Antti nods, like he's totally not surprised, but there's a hint of something that isn't complete and abject misery. "Your pep talk sucks," he says, and Dougie can see a smile lurking around the edges of his mouth.

Dougie shrugs. "You're not the only one losing every fucking game."

He isn't really prepared when Antti surges forward and kisses him. It doesn't take him more than a second to react, looping one arm around Antti's shoulders and holding him, opening his mouth when the other man doesn't make any move to pull away. He's almost ready to let himself fall backwards, carry Nemo with him and they can get on with the program, when Antti pulls away just a little, and looks at him.

"Movie?" Dougie asks cheekily, though of course he doesn't mean it and thinks he might punch Antti in a shoulder if he agrees. Well, no, the team will kill him if he bruises their goalie, so maybe he'll just owe him one.

"No," Antti says, shaking his head and he presses in again, and Dougie isn't sure if he's the one who lets them collapse on the bed or if Antti is the one pushing them down. Then it doesn't matter, because they're laying down and Nemo is still kissing him. Dougie gets one hand on Antti's face and he wonders if it's too soon to start tugging on clothing. He gives it another minute, because Antti's pressing down on him like he's suddenly afraid Dougie will bolt if given the chance.

As if he ever had, Dougie thinks. He hadn't been shy the first time he'd propositioned their new goalie, and Niemi had barely blinked at him before shrugging and saying sure. Since then too many hotel rooms had seen them do any manner of things for Dougie to object to being manhandled into a kiss he was pretty sure he'd instigated.

He's ready to move on, though, to whatever second step Nemo wants, when the other man pushes himself up onto one elbow. Dougie's got his hand on his arm even before he realises Antti isn't actually trying to get away.

"You don't suck," Antti says, quietly. He leans down and places a light kiss in the corner of Dougie's mouth. He turns towards it, wondering what the fuck, even, when he was supposed to be the one taking care of Nemo.

"I don't--" he begins, because it isn't about how shitty he feels. He knows how to let go of it; Antti's the one who will brood until his dick falls off from neglect.

But Antti's kissing him again and that's better than having a conversation, so Dougie goes with it and when Antti's knee comes up, presses against Dougie's erection, he groans and jolts a little, grabbing at Nemo's shirt and pulling him even closer.

"Oh, thank god," comes Thornton's voice, and Dougie almost lets go of Nemo, jerking his head up to glare towards the doorway. The Captain's standing there, averting his eyes towards the ceiling, which is stupid considering the other things he's walked in on Dougie doing.

Dougie nudges Nemo. "See? I told you -- no noise, he breaks down the door."

Antti's blushing, which is rare enough that for a moment Dougie wishes he had a camera. "Sorry," he says after a moment, and Dougie can tell he wants to hide himself underneath the bed. Or Newfoundland.

"We're fine," Dougie says, waving a hand. "Should have turned the TV on, my bad. Tell Tommy he's bunking with Vandy tonight."

Thornton rolls his eyes, but he doesn't say anything else, just steps back and pulls the door closed. Dougie waits, and he hears Jumbo's voice muffled through the door. More than one voice answers, and Dougie closes his eyes for a second at the image of several of their teammates huddling in the hallway, wondering if they have to barge in and help rescue their goalie from his own brain.

"I've got it, thanks!" Dougie yells loud as he can, because it will embarrass some of them, maybe, and it will irritate Antti, which will get him pulled out of his head just as well as sex. It isn't as much fun as what they were doing, though, so Dougie gives Antti another kiss and wriggles helpfully underneath him to remind him where he'd been when they'd gotten interrupted.

Antti scowls at him, then sighs, and his expression softens again. There's something in his eyes now that Dougie isn't sure he can read. He loses sight of it when Nemo bends his head down and kisses him, and soon enough Dougie's not thinking about anything except why the fuck they started this with their clothes still on.

He always does this, he reminds himself, and every single time he forgets to strip down before he makes his move. Next time for sure, and he struggles to get his shirt off without knocking either of them off the bed.

Last time he'd done that Antti had refused to have sex with him at all. And that wasn't going to put either of them in the mood to win in Toronto.

He tugs at Antti's shirt, which only brings him closer, and Dougie lets his hand fall away, giving it up for lost. They'll come in their jeans and Antti will make that bitchy face, and Dougie will have to sneak back to his room in the morning with a towel wrapped around his waist.

Dougie mentally shrugs. Hopefully this time he won't get trapped on the elevator with a gang of old ladies with camera phones.

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