twentysomething: (no YOU nice)
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Title: Des Plus Brillants Exploits

Fandom: NHL RPS

Pairing: alwaysagirl!Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin

Summary: "“Vancouver!” Sid turns and shouts at the last second as she goes through the doors.

“Vancouver!” Geno yells back."

Length: 33,000 wordsish, 20,700ish this part

Warnings: HOCKEY, OLYMPIC FEVER, GENDERBENDING.

Notes: So, it was only a matter of time. The Hoyden and Mklutz are just... really bad for me. Basically, we all have a lot of strong feelings about Sidney Crosby and Geno Malkin and I was like I'M NOT GONNA WRITE THIS FI-- okay, so I started writing it. 30+ k later, this is entirely all their fault. The Hoyden kindly offered to beta this, even though she should have been getting over jetlag, and Mklutz taught me the rules to Liverpool, even though I still don't think it's a real game. Thanks to puckling, who was full of encouragement and came up with the title when I realized I had nothing. Kisses to Leupagus, who insists she has no fucks to give about hockey, but liked this anyway.



They're late at the rink, just finishing running drills after practice when the IOC's final decision comes through. Geno watches Sidney listen mutely to a muffled voice and from the way her face flushes and turns mutinous it's obvious that her and Mario's protests haven't worked. She hangs up with a savage tap to her phone and Geno imagines that if she had a little less self control she would be trashing the locker room. As it is, she looks furious, the kind of seething expression Geno only ever sees on her face before she tries to start fights with Claude Giroux.

"It's just-" Sid starts, and suddenly pitches her phone across the room. "It's so dumb. It's just- it's dumb."

Geno watches Sid bite her lip, hard. "Sid will still have to play," he says, because it's true- there's no way she can protest this any further and no way she can just not play for the women's team.

"They want me to captain the team," Sid says, and her expression goes from angry to miserable in a heartbeat. "They told me yesterday. They said if the protest was denied, they wanted me to be captain. My parents sent me a text, congratulating me."

"Just play best hockey," Geno suggests, letting himself put an arm around Sid's shoulders. "All Sid can do."

"I know, I know. I should be happy to play for Canada. But it's like-" Sid huffs out a frustrated sigh. "Like none of it matters. Getting here, getting the cup last year. It doesn't matter to them how I play, because in the end, it always comes down to this." He can feel the tension in her shoulders, strung tight with unhappiness; Geno has never been able to stand Sidney being upset.

"Sidney Crosby is best," he says firmly, squeezing her shoulders tight. "You will get gold medal. Maybe not one you want, but better than nothing, yes? Canada men lose to Russia, anyway."

"Shut up," she says, shoving him off, but it's mixed with a laugh and Geno will take the win.

***


The first time Geno met Sid there were cicadas buzzing in the early evening and when he stepped onto Mario's porch he thought he had never seen a more beautiful girl in his entire life.

He can admit that Sid's not his type- all his girlfriends have been petite and blond, stereotypical Russian beauties. But he remembers seeing Sid step out from behind Mario and Gonch and feeling a shock of attraction, even through the pounding exhaustion and jet lag; he remembers her dark, curling hair and the enormous smile that had never left her face the whole night. Most of the evening is a blur, but he remembers Gonch telling him, "She wants to get on the ice, she can't wait to play with you," rolling his eyes fondly at Sid, who had blushed, but had still buzzed with excitement. Geno had certainly known of Sidney, her absolute dedication to hockey- but her excitement had made Geno excited. It made him grin wider, tired as he was, feel even more sure that he had made the right decision.

Unfortunately, Sid has never stopped feeling exciting, never stopped making Geno's heart pound. Four years is a very long time to love someone terribly and quietly.

His mother despairs of him.

But Sid is cautious, wary by nature off the ice. Her game time superstitions are widely known, but there are hundreds of rituals that make up Sidney Crosby and Geno knows just how many of those habits are carefully crafted coping mechanisms. Sid has always been set apart- grown up feeling different in her bones- and Geno can't bring himself to disturb any of the walls she's built. Sid and Geno built their friendship on the ice, wordlessly, easily, and while words have come, there aren't any to explain what he feels for her. So he makes himself be content with playing video games, training and hockey; startling silly laughter out of Sid, making them lunch, watching tv. It's not enough- not nearly enough- but it works. Sid is happy, so he's happy.

***


Sid may not have been able to bend the IOC to her will, but she does put her foot down about the scheduling.

"I told them missing two games was theoretically necessary, but three games was unacceptable." Sid is finishing braiding her hair into the winding crown that Geno can never figure out. All he knows is that he loves watching her do it, her fingers moving sure and quickly with years of practice behind them.

"So you leave after Islanders game?" Geno asks, taping his stick. "Late flight."

Sid shrugs. "It'll be fine. You know me, no trouble sleeping on planes."

"Who will Sid drool on without Flower?" Geno nudges her with his foot.

"That was one time and I was sick," Sid cries, kicking back.

"Tell to my couch. Drool stains." Geno grins.

Sid just rolls her eyes. "Yeah, tell yourself those are mine." With two quick pins, she shakes her head twice left, twice right, once backwards and forwards. Clearly, she's good to go, not a hair out of place.

"Sid ready for sandwich?" Geno asks.

"Yep," she smiles and Geno gestures for her to get off the bench first.

***


Sid doesn't score against the Islanders, but they both play a solid game. Geno can't tell if that's making her more annoyed or less that she's leaving them on a win. Sid had brought her suitcase with her to the rink- she had built in enough cushion time to make sure that if it had gone to a shootout or over time she could still play and not miss her flight, but not enough to go home between the game and the airport.

"You want ride?" Geno asks as Sid packs up her gear. "Save Sid from long term parking bill."

"Yeah, that'd be great," Sid says, twisting her hair into a low bun before tugging on a knit cap to cover her still damp hair. "Thanks."

The ride is quiet, occasionally punctuated by the overly calm tones of his GPS. Geno is actually a little concerned- usually Sid won't shut up, wired after a game, going over game play and thoughts about what they can change, do better. One away post-game they'd gone to a bar and Sid had talked about d-pairings to the guy hitting on her at the bar for maybe a solid half an hour.

"Okay?" Geno finally asks her, glancing over at her, the orange light on the highway flashing over her face.

"Just- worried," Sid admits after a long pause, wrapping her arms around herself. "I've never even played against these women, let alone played with them."

"And they want you to be captain," Geno adds, not unkindly, but guessing where her concerns are leading.

"It's for the publicity," Sid says, picking at the fleece under her jacket.

"Sid is good captain," Geno protests, loyally and truthfully. A lot of articles call her "team mom," but Geno would disagree. She's more like a mean sister who yells a lot; Geno suspects that a lot of men past have pushed themselves harder and faster because of Sid. Geno also doesn't have any sisters, which maybe makes him being in love with her less weird, then.

“Well,” Sid says, but she’s smiling a little. “I know you guys. I can chirp you.”

“Can try,” Geno agrees cheerfully and tension he hadn’t realized was carrying ebbs away as Sid laughs.

He helps her get her bags out of the trunk in the departures lane and treats himself to a hug, rare off the ice. The cold tip of Sid’s nose presses against his chest and Sid wraps her hands around the lapels of Geno’s heavy winter peacoat.

“Play hard. Show your game,” Geno mutters against the top of her head.

“You too,” Sid says, tugging on his jacket.

“See you four days,” Geno promises, reluctantly letting go.

“You won’t even miss me,” Sid says, picking up her suitcase.

“Don’t be stupid,” Geno tells her.

Sid laughs. “Yeah, I’ll miss you too.” She knocks her duffle against Geno’s leg gently.

“Have good flight,” Geno says, unwilling to just say goodbye. It feels wrong to send Sid off to play without him, without any of them. It’s strange and wrong and they both know it, which is probably why they just stand there until the cars behind them start honking.

“Vancouver!” Sid turns and shouts at the last second, going through the doors.

“Vancouver!” Geno yells back.

***


"Vancouver sucks," Sid says firmly, less than a full day later.

"You carry torch there," Geno teases her, putting the phone on speaker so he can make dinner at the same time.

"Okay, that was like 30 metres, 4 months ago." Sid sighs. "I would rather run all the way from Halifax to Vancouver if it meant not being here."

"That bad?" Geno asks, brow furrowing. Sid's voice is echoing funny over the line, not because of distance or the phone, but like she's in- "Sid in bathroom?"

"I'm hiding," she admits.

“Hiding,” Geno repeats, trying not to laugh.

“Look, no one likes me and Poulin keeps following me around like one of those ducklings that imprints on the gardener,” Sidney hisses.

“Breathe, Sid,” Geno tries to make his voice soothing. “There to play hockey. All you can do is play. Be self. Everything else follow.”

Sid exhales long and slow. “Everything just feels… wrong.” Sid’s voice sounds small, uncertain. “I just wish you were here.”

Geno stops dead, his hands clutching the counter. “Yes,” he says reflexively. “Also me.”

“I’ll stop being a baby, it’s just-“ Sid sighs. “I don’t like change.”

“Understatement,” Geno teases, just to hear Sid huff out a laugh.

“Yeah, yeah. I gotta go. If I don’t get a chance to talk to you tomorrow, play hard.” she says.

“You too.” Geno lifts up the phone to his ear. “Good night, Sid.”

“Night, Geno.” He can hear a hint of a smile in her voice. “Hey- thanks for listening.”

Geno shakes his head. “Always.”

***


They lose to the Rangers in overtime. The reporters grill Flower after the game and Sid sends him a text that just says,

rough. Good goals.

His first instinct is to tell her he missed her on the ice, but he knows if Sid had had her way, she wouldn’t have missed a game for anything. Geno knows that if he’s feeling shitty about the long mess that was the first two periods, Sid must have been feeling worse- across and out of the country, completely unable to do anything.

you watch? (( he sends back, rubbing a towel over his hair, hard.

yeah the other girls went out so I had the place to myself

Geno frowns, imagining Sid in her too big sweats, sitting on the edge of her bed, watching them alone, probably too close to the television. go out now? Have fun

still zonked from the flight going to try to get sleep now

Geno frowns, but just sends back sweet dream sid

Sweet dreams G

Geno smiles ruefully at his phone until Pierre McGuire appears to ask him what he thinks went wrong.

***

Geno usually avoids reading press on himself out of prudence, but he avoids reading press on Sid out of self-preservation. When all he’d known about Sid was footage and expressionless, polite sound bites translated, he’d wondered what she was like when the cameras were off her. Now he knows, knows and jealously guards the way Sid stands in his refrigerator for five minutes before deciding what to snack on, the way she’ll pull down his baseball cap to blind him when they’re taking a turn in Mario Kart. Which means that when he sees ugly articles calling Sid an Ice Queen, calling her career little more than an extended fluke, he has to go to the gym for a couple of hours or he stays fumingly angry for the rest of the day.

It’s not that any of the people who matter believe that, or that Sid isn’t proving them wrong every game on the ice, but Geno can admit he’s not exactly objective about her. Which is why he knows when he stumbles across a segment on the women’s hockey teams on NBC, he should just change the channel.

But instead he sits through the American team, waiting for the moment when the pre-recorded smug voiceover says, “But the number one obstacle between the US women and gold is number 87, Sidney Crosby.”

Geno sighs at himself and settles back into the couch cushions.

“The hockey phenomenon is the first woman to ever be drafted by the NHL, the first female captain of an NHL team and the youngest captain ever, male or female. Crosby’s skill on the ice has been evident from an early age, setting records for scoring and blowing boys almost twice her age out of the water. Even so, no one guessed a girl from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia would lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to Stanley Cup glory last year, but that’s just what happened. It’s a tremendous legacy, especially for someone only 22 years old.”

The words and images are all ones Geno are familiar with, even the grudgingly admiring tone- but he’s never understood it, how people talk like Sid was a gamble, like a bet on Sid isn’t a certain win.

“Despite all of this undeniable success, up to two months ago, it wasn’t even certain that Crosby would be on the team. Not because she wasn’t qualified, but because she was trying to play for the Canadian Men’s team.”

The coverage cuts to an old interview Sid had done when she had first lodged her complaint with the IOC almost a year earlier, talking about equality.

“I fought to get in the NHL and now I’m having to fight about this.” Sid shrugs, her pin straight “professional interview” hair sliding over her shoulder. “What are the rules about gender separation at the Olympics for, anyway? To keep an even playing field? Well, you don’t get any more even than ice.”

“Despite her official protest, which even cited ‘breach of contract’ as an issue, as Crosby is missing two games with the Penguins to practice with and captain Team Canada, the IOC firmly ruled that if Crosby were to compete, it would have to be with the women’s team.”

They cut to footage of Team Canada practicing on the ice and Geno can instantly read the frustration writ large over Sid’s form, the kind of angry, almost too-precise skating the Geno usually sees at the end of a third period, down by 2 with crappy reffing. It makes Geno wince, even if he’s one of a handful of people who would have any idea something is wrong.

“It’s not much of an exaggeration to say the hopes of a nation are resting on Sidney Crosby’s shoulders- Vancouver’s Own The Platform program may be controversial, but after their disappointments at Montreal and Calgary, Team Canada is determined to go for gold at home in Vancouver. A huge part of the success of Own The Platform will be measured by Canada’s performance in hockey. A number of people have suggested that forcing Crosby to play for the women’s team, already widely favored to win it all, may cost the Canadian men the gold.”

The segment cuts away to Bob Costas, reminding viewers that women’s hockey starts tonight, with coverage of Canada and Sidney Crosby versus Slovakia live at 8 eastern, 7 central.

Geno scowls. Even though he knows Sid won’t have time to watch the news, it’s not like the way it’s covered doesn’t affect her. They didn’t mention a single one of her teammates and they’re probably underplaying the pressure on Sid to win gold. Coupled with the footage from practice, Geno can easily imagine that Sid’s having a worse time of it than she admitted yesterday.

Geno tugs his phone out of his pocket. Vancouver less bad today?

My mask is stupid and I’m not allowed to hit anyone he gets, less than a minute later. worst practice ever

nap now everything better after nap Geno advises, as Jeffrey whuffles his head into Geno’s lap. He snaps a quick picture and sends it to Sid. Jeffrey agree

eh the sheets smell weird and the couch smells weirder. I’d nap better with jeffrey drooling on me

bring dog drool to Canada. get arrested at airport?

my secret plan for winning the Olympics- just doing my part for my country.

Geno laughs loudly, startling Jeffrey away. Sid patriot

I expect to be given a seat in parliament any day now

Geno smiles at his phone for about ten seconds longer than too long.

***


Mario is flying up the morning of the 15th to catch Sid’s second game, skipping the red eye wretchedness the rest of them are attempting after the Predators game on the 14th. As a last fling before the Olympics, Mario invites everyone over to his house to watch Sid play Slovakia, which promises to be a blood bath.

Sid has brought him over for Sunday dinners at the Lemieux house too many times to count, and he automatically brings over a nice bottle of wine, because clearly, he’s been trained well at this point. Nathalie just gives him an amused smile and kisses his cheek fondly when he comes in the door and shoos him into the living room. He isn’t the first to arrive, Max and Gonch already comfortably settled into the couch, gesticulating with beers.

“Geno!” Max yells, as soon as he realizes Geno is there. “Point spread, right now. 100 bucks. Gonch is saying 10-0.”

“Higher,” Geno insists, shaking his head. “Sid pissed.”

Max and Gonch laugh. “She call you?” Gonch asks.

Geno nods. “Very mad she can’t hit anyone. Will probably spend game scoring or in penalty box.”

Max hoots. “Finally, the kid learns the value of fighting when she can’t do it. Irony.”

“So, the score?” Gonch prompts him.

“17-0, Sid scores 8,” Geno says after a second of thought. Sid is healthy, angry and has a chip the size of Siberia on her shoulder about these games. She’s going to light it up. Probably because she doesn’t know how not to, and a little bit because when Sid is under pressure and backed into a corner, she gets mean- which Geno is really looking forward to.

Max whistles low and Gonch raises his eyebrows, but Max just types in his phone.

have money on game, Sid. best luck Geno sends, although she might not get it until after the game.

The rest of the guys trickle in and the pot gets pretty impressive by the time Mario shuts everyone up to watch the game in relative peace.

Sid is- objectively, even- breathtaking. She’s playing fast and blowing her opponents out of the water. Sid scores in under a minute, the shot burning past the Slovakian goalie and the room erupts into cheers. The entire period is all Sid- beautiful power plays and she scores three more times. The guys are probably partying too hard for the day before a game, but no one can bother to chirp each other about it because Sid is playing so well- Canada is up 7-0 at the end of the period and Sid’s already broken an Olympic scoring record.

They rest her a bit in the second period, only sending her out on a couple of shifts, but there’s no shortage of shots of her barking out orders from the bench, pushing her teammates like she pushes them. It’s working though, Sid, Agosta and Hefford adding to the point total, raising the score to 13-0 at the end of the period.

They must want to brutalize the Slovaks, because they send Sid out again, and she seems to be relaxing into things, refusing to take the bait even when the d men- d women?- start shoving her around a little bit. Sid would have thrown punches at the beginning of the game for that, but she just skates harder and faster, the commentators eating it up. Sid keeps blowing her own record out of the water every time she scores, and when Sid gets her eighth goal, bringing the score up to 17-0, Max just throws his phone at Geno.

“Did you two rig this?” Tanger demands, throwing popcorn at him on top of the phone. Geno just laughs, completely delighted.

Her faceoff percentages have to be running close to 90% throughout the game- Sid’s not only living up to her country’s expectations, she’s creating a whole new expectation for players, period.

And because she’s Sid, she can’t resist tapping in one last beauty a minute before the buzzer, the final score 18-0, half of those points hers.

There’s a lengthy dispute over whether to give Geno the money, since he was off by a point on both of his bets, but he’s by far the closest and in the end, Mario rules in favor.

“You’re a jerk, Malkin,” Jordy whines, pulling bills out of his wallet.

“All losers say that,” Geno says cheerfully, making an orderly stack.

Sid is sweaty and beautiful on the television, grinning and talking about her teammates’ hard work; crediting the incredible talent given to her to captain as Ouellette pulls her into a giddy hug from behind.

Maybe fifteen minutes later, as Geno is still collecting IOUs and finishing off his beer, he gets a text:

so how lucky were we? you win?

Geno takes a picture of his giant pile of money and sends it to her. Sid almost too good Mario made choice to give or not

YOU OWE ME. Dinner when we get back. Maybe a present

Geno snorts. I make bet

I make goals Geno can perfectly imagine the smug smile on her face.

ok pizza on me he teases.

it better be

want to talk team? he offers. The phone is ringing maybe fifteen seconds after he sends it.

“Hey, Sid,” Geno says, the bustling noise of a locker room blending in with the noise of the party still going on around him. Flower whips around next to him.

“Hey, Geno,” Sid sounds happy for the first time since she left and it rolls over Geno like a stretch, his body settling into a more comfortable state of being.

“Is that Sid?” Flower demands. “Put her on, put her on speaker! Shut up, hey!”

“Have to put Sid on speaker, Flower pushy,” Geno tells her.

“Yeah, like that’s news to me,” Sid laughs. Geno puts the call on speakerphone as the room quiets down a little.

“So how much was the pool? I want to make sure Geno really gives me half,” Sid says, crackling through the line.

“Showing off much? I nearly had it, Sid,” Brooksy complains.

“You did not,” Kunitz says, elbowing him. “It’s gotta be over 1,500 bucks, Sid, get your money.”

“Sid cost me more in groceries. Can’t cook, make me always.” Geno shrugs.

“I cook fine!” Sid squawks. “Fibber!”

“Mario and I are so proud, Sid,” Nathalie breaks in pointedly, crowding into the circle around the phone. “You played so well.”

“Thanks, Nathalie,” Sid puts in, even as the rest of the guys scramble to offer congratulations, too. Geno’s phone gets passed around for the better part of ten minutes before Sid gets called away. He doesn’t get to talk to her again, but when he gets his phone back, there’s a text from Sid that just says call you later?

yes whenever Geno texts back, because that’s pretty much always his response to Sid.

***


Geno is getting ready for bed when his phone rings. He spits out toothpaste and scrambles to answer.

“Hello, Sid,” Geno says, tucking the phone between his shoulder and ear and going back to brushing his teeth.

“Hey, is it too late?” Sid asks, sounding sleepier than Geno.

“Sound like too late for Sid,” Geno manages around a mouthful of foam.

“No, no, I’m not tired,” Sid punctuates it with a yawn.

Geno spits. “Yes, sound very awake.” He can’t help but smile as Sid tuts.

“I said I would call, didn’t I?” she grumbles and Geno thinks he can hear the soft shuffling sound of sheets.

“Have fun after game?” Geno asks.

“Yeah, um… we all had dinner. Hayley, she has the other room in the condo, she’s out with her family right now, she’s nice.” Sid yawns again. “Everyone was really nice tonight.”

“Sid finally take time to talk to them, now that game done?” Geno teases.

“Mmm, shut up,” Sid hums. “Heff- you know, Jayna- she said she gets it now. I don’t know what she was talking about really, but it sounded good, I think? I guess.”

Geno sits on the edge of the bed. “Easy to understand Sid on ice.”

“I think I’m pretty straightforward,” Sid protests slowly, fading into a third yawn.

“Too straight talking. No one does like you.” Geno tries. He thinks he understands- it’s hard to understand Sid, really get it unless you skate with her. Other people are dedicated to hockey, they have to be to get to play professionally, play in the Olympics, but no one works like Sid, has that focus. Most people just aren’t wired that way.

“You’re always straight with me,” Sid points out.

“Easy to be with Sid,” Geno says and it’s mostly true.

“I like that. Hey, I talked about it with Coach, but what did you see? I think we’re weak on defense,” Sid asks.

“Should sleep, too tired to talk hockey.” Geno shakes his head, even though Sid can’t see him.

“I’m never too tired to talk hockey,” Sid protests, even though she’s obviously fading, the same tone Geno’s heard on buses and planes right before she falls asleep on someone, literally.

But Geno tells her about holes in their defense and positive things too, things she should bring up with her teammates and encourage. At first Sid agrees, or asks him to elaborate, but those turn into murmurs and hums. Even so, Geno doesn’t stop talking until he can hear the faint sound of Sid’s snoring, familiar and soothing.

“Good night, Sidney,” Geno whispers, turning off the light and slipping under the covers. He listens to her snore for another couple of seconds before he makes himself hang up, otherwise there will be a bill for an eight hour international phone call to settle in the morning.

***


The game against the Predators comes down to a shootout and some bad luck for Flower. It’s not a bad performance for any of them- a goal for him, for Cooke and Brooksie- but still disappointing to leave on a loss. Mario has a car take the four of them to the airport, all of their gear crammed in the back of the SUV. Flower sighs when Brooksie sits next to him on the plane, but Brooksie just rolls his eyes.

“What, you want me to put on a wig and pretend to be Sid? ‘Blah blah blah hockey, hockey, hockey, blah, more hockey, Geno, hockey,’” Brooks says. Flower cackles and Geno feels justified kicking Brooksy’s seat.

“You forgot ’87,’” Sergei reminds him. Geno kicks Sergei in the ankle for good measure. “Ouch, Zhenya. If we had to be you, it would be reversed, we know, we know. ‘Sid, Sid, Sid, blah, hockey, Sid.’”

Geno throws the airline pillow at him.

They all stay awake through to Chicago, full of post game adrenaline, but it’s like the moment they land and get settled in the first class lounge they start dropping like flies. If it weren’t for the cell phone alarm Gonch sets and some considerate lounge staffers, they might have all missed their connecting flight. The minute they’re on the plane they’re all out like a light again. It’s only 11:20 local time when they arrive, but despite the naps, Geno’s body is still dragging like it’s 2:20.

He sends a quick text to Sid, all landed safe headed out from airport now as they collect the rest of their bags from the luggage claim. It’s going to be strange to split up when they get to the Village- Brooksie to Team USA, Flower to Canada and Geno and Sergei to Russia. But for now, they pile into the same car, sleepily shoving at each other to keep them all moving.

glad to hear it! are you too tired to hang out a little bit? she asks.

He is. He really is, but his hands send, not too tired for sid. for you I stay awake anyway.

I’ll bring you a present I promise

Sergei and Flower make fun of the dopey smile on Geno’s face the entire thirty minute drive to the athlete’s village. Luckily, Geno isn’t rooming with Sergei, so he doesn’t have to put up with his too-insightful running commentary as he unpacks. But he is rooming with Alex Ovechkin, which means there’s an entirely separate but maybe equally terrible running commentary as he unpacks.

“Zhenya, do not lie about how you missed me,” Alex says, laying a smacking kiss to Geno’s temple as he crushes him in a hug and drags him out to the living room.

“I saw you a week ago, idiot,” Geno tries to say from where he’s smashed against Alex’s shoulder.

“A week is forever when there is love in your heart,” Alex smushes Geno’s face between his hands.

“I am not enjoying this,” Geno mumbles with great difficulty.

Which is also, of course, when there’s a knock on the door that can only be Sid.

“Come in!” Alex calls, still holding Geno’s face, because he’s a bastard.

“Um,” Sid says, stopping dead in the doorway.

“Crosby!” Alex cries out delightedly, dropping Geno to draw her into the room, tugging gently on her braid. “So good seeing you, come in, come in.”

“Hey,” she says warily to Alex, putting a bag down on the kitchen counter as she slips out of her down Team Canda jacket. “Hey.” Geno wonders if he’s imagining that it sounds different when she says it to him, warmer in a way that makes his ears heat involuntarily.

“Where is my present?” Geno asks.

Sid rolls her eyes, but looks pointedly at the plastic bag. “Whatever, you owe me money, you bag of milk.”

Geno looks in the bag to find a take away container full of dense looking chocolate cake. He raises an eyebrow at her, but shoves Alex’s shit off the couch so they can sit together.

“I got it at the place we all went to dinner tonight,” Sid explains, tucking a loose piece of hair behind her ear. “You earned it, good scoring streak.”

“No cake for me, Sid?” Alex pouts.

Sid wrinkles her nose at him. “I didn’t realize you’d be here,” she says.

Alex laughs too much for his, “Shot through the heart, Crosby!” to be sincerely hurt.

Geno obediently takes a few bites- it’s good, but he doesn’t need that much sugar before sleep. Also, it’s not like he has the sweet tooth in the room- that’d be Sid. “Very good. Rich,” Geno says, putting the fork down.

“How was your flight?” Sid asks, steadily ignoring Alex, who is not even pretending to not watch them.

“Good, almost did not make flight in Chicago, all fall asleep in lounge.” Geno smiles reflexively when Sid laughs, messy and real.

“You guys need a minder,” Sid tells him.

“Is usually Sid chasing us onto plane on time,” Geno says. “Flower mad at Brooks for not being you next to him.”

Sid laughs. “I sat by myself, he should be so lucky to have Brooksie.”

Geno bites down on a frown, imagining Sid alone on the plane. He subtly nudges the fork toward Sid. “Good day today?”

“Yeah.” Sid’s smile is small, but real. “Better.” She takes the fork absently and starts in on the cake.

Sid never orders dessert but Geno had noticed her staring covetously on the rare occasion that he would order it. Which meant that Geno started ordering dessert for Sid to eat it- taking a few bites and having her finish it. He never offers, or asks for two forks- two forks is sharing, one fork is stopping Geno from “wasting food,” as far as he understands it. It’s intimate and sexless at the same time- the fork going from his mouth to hers, but always with a careless shrug on Sid’s part, going, “You don’t mind, right? We’re together all the time, we have all the same germs.” Geno loves it, but acknowledges that he’s probably more than a little crazy.

They chat for a little while longer, Sid taking fussy bites out of the cake that are mostly frosting while Alex basically treats them like primetime television. It’s not until Geno’s body betrays him and he essentially yawns in Sid’s face that she pauses.

“Oh jeez,” she says, jumping up like she’s been stung. “You’re exhausted, I should go.”

Geno opens his mouth to protest, but she just shakes her head.

“Nope, I’m heading out. But see you tomorrow, breakfast before practice? Gotta get you on west coast time,” Sid suggests.

Geno nods through another yawn. “Text, yes?” he mumbles.

“Will do. Night, Geno. Good night, Ovie,” she adds pointedly.

Alex, because he was born without shame, just grins. “Next time, invite me to you and Zhenya’s sleepover, Sid.”

Sid snorts, grabs her jacket and leaves.

Alex stares at him for a moment, long enough that Geno barks out an annoyed, “What?” at Alex.

“Oh, Zhenya,” Alex coos at him. “If you have a boy, you should name him Alexander. Strong name for a boy.”

“Don’t make me drown you in the bathroom,” Geno warns him.

He tries not to be offended by the way Alex laughs for nearly an entire minute.

***


Geno slips out while Alex is still bleary eyed, drinking tea and staring at his laptop, feeling both conspicuous and stealthy. He’s one of the few not decked out in national gear, but he doesn’t feel guilty as he blows air over his hands before shoving them in the pockets of his big Pittsburgh-winter coat. Sid’s not hard to find, even in the enormous dining hall, partially because he feels like they’ve played together for so long, it’s just instinct to place her in his space, to be aware of where Sid is, and also because as soon as she spots him, she waves like an air traffic controller.

“Morning,” Sid says cheerfully while Geno buries himself face first in the strongest tea he could get his hands on.

“Says you. Body think I sleep in but also tired. All confused,” Geno explains.

“Hey, take it easy today,” Sid says, her brows drawing in concern.

“Yes, Captain,” Geno kids. He finally has all the parts of his breakfast settled when he realizes—Sid is wearing his sweater. He’s been looking for it for weeks, convinced he’d left it somewhere even though he didn’t remember wearing it out. “Is my sweater?” he asks stupidly, even though he knows it is.

Sid blinks, then blushes. “Oh, whoops. I guess?”

Looking at it now, he remembers Sid complaining that he kept the house too cold; it was making her hands stiff, which was why she was losing at Call of Duty, not that Geno was just kicking her ass on merit alone. She’d chirped him until he’d just tossed the sweater at her face as she was taking a turn, swearing at him like a sailor, but belligerently putting the cardigan on anyway and proceeding to beat him soundly. He could admit, privately, that it was at least a little bit due to the way the sleeves had to be rolled and shoved up but still covered most of her hands, something so obviously his on her body.

It’s still distracting as Sid fiddles with a cuff, her fingers catching in the material like it’s precious. “Sorry, I can give it back-“

“No,” Geno says quickly, voice a little hoarse. “Look better on Sid.”

“Oh,” Sid says, relaxing a little. “If you don’t mind, it’s um… lucky.”

“Not get between Sid and lucky anything,” Geno tells her.

“Thanks,” Sid says and pulls the edges of the cardigan in around herself like a robe. “I must have just kept it accidentally.”

“Talk to Mario yet? He comes for game, yes?” Geno says after an unusually awkward moment, dropping the sweater thing, though it’s a little weird, even for Sid.

Sid nods. “He sent me a text when his plane took off in Pittsburgh. He’s gonna sit with my parents and Taylor.” She takes a bite of omelet. “When do you get out of practice tonight?”

“Late,” Geno says, trying to remember the schedule he’d glanced at this morning. “Our game evening tomorrow, so they want full practice today.”

“Okay, text me and I’ll come over after,” Sid says, shrugging.

Geno raises an eyebrow at her. “Roommate that bad?”

Sid blinks, then shakes her head. “No, she’s fine, I just wanted to hang out.”

“Must be a little bit bad if Ovechkin better,” Geno pushes.

Sid snorts. “Ovechkin I know how to handle,” she says, having a hand.

“Not know how to handle roommate?” Geno asks.

Sid bites her lip on whatever she was going to say first and takes a long sip of water. “It’s just different. Difficult,” she amends. “If I hadn’t played, I’m sure Hayley would have been captain. I just feel like I always have to be… on around her, you know?” Sid nudges Geno’s knee with hers. “Not like with you.”

“We kick Sasha out to his room,” Geno promises, nudging back. “Sid be however you like.”

“You’re the best,” Sid sighs gratefully.

“Russia best,” Geno says, trying his hardest not to smile. “Sid close second.”

Sid laughs, loud and long. “Only from you is that a compliment.”

“But you come over any time,” Geno tells her seriously, because Sid has enough pressure on her- if he can do anything to relieve some of it, he will.

“Thanks,” Sid says, her knee pressing firmly where it had nudged before. “I mean it.”

“Sid always welcome.” Geno takes a long gulp of tea to prevent himself from making it abundantly clear that Sid is always welcome wherever he is, whenever.

Sid just smiles at him. They have to actually eat for a while, because they’re running out of time before they’re both due at the rink- Geno to the Canucks’ arena, Sid to the other arena on the university campus outside the city. Geno is also acutely aware that Sid hasn’t and isn’t moving her knee, leaving it tucked against his, their ankles pressing together. He has no idea what to do with that or what to think of it- all he knows is that it feels right, good.

They’re reluctant to leave, but both of them have to get moving. Geno’s leg feels cold where Sid’s had pressed when they stand up, and she smiles wistfully when they go their separate ways.

“See you later?” Sid asks, more like she’s reassuring herself.

“Go play, Sid,” Geno nudges her with his shoulder. “Have no money on game, but play like I do.”

Sid laughs. “I’ll see what I can do.” Sid bumps fists with him, like they always do before heading out on the ice, slapping each other’s backs. “Feels weird to do that without pads on.”

“Sid hit hard anyway,” Geno teases her.

She rolls her eyes. “Baby,” she says, but she tugs at the front of his coat, bringing the edges together. “Have a good practice.”

“Good game for you,” Geno tugs her jacket in return, drawing the edges over his cardigan.

“I hope so,” Sid says happily, walking back toward her room, where the bus is picking them up.

***


Practice is long- it’s not like it’s grueling, they want them feeling rested and ready for tomorrow, but it’s exhausting. Geno has to break himself for instinctively playing to the habits and strengths of his Pens teammates. It’s been a few years since he’s played with a lot of these guys, since the World Championships in Moscow. He knows that the first Olympic practice is usually a bit of a shit show, but he’s not 18 anymore, he has to skate his best game anyway, even if it feels strange to be passing to Ilya or Maxim.

Geno sent a congratulatory text to Sid earlier- he’d found out the score earlier during a break, 10-1, and she’d told him she was headed to dinner with Mario and her family after the game. He’s looking forward to getting back to his room and getting to completely turn off his brain- maybe Sid will just want to watch a movie or something. Alex looks equally dead on his feet as they trudge down the hallway, but the second before Geno tries the key, he hears sound from inside.

“Did you leave the television on?” Geno asks.

Alex shakes his head and then shrugs. Geno opens the door carefully, and sure enough the TV is on quietly and—

Sid is passed out on their couch.

She’s still wearing Geno’s sweater, one arm dangling over the edge of the couch, the other tucked under the throw pillow she’s most likely drooling on, ass up in a pair of dark gray track pants.

“… Did you order Canadian for dinner?” Alex finally asks him.

“Shut up, she’s sleeping,” Geno whispers automatically.

“I think it’s going to take more than talking to wake Sleeping Beauty up,” Alex says, laughing.

“Should I move her?” Geno asks himself, ignoring Alex completely. Also, it seems a little masochistic to let himself put her to bed. “Or just wake her up? That can’t be comfortable.”

“If our kitchen worked, I would be making popcorn right now,” Alex tells him.

Sid sighs an unintelligible word in her sleep and clutches the pillow closer. Geno feels like God is testing him.

“If even like this, you love her still, then there is no hope for you, Zhenya. Except to make beautiful hockey babies. Whose nationality I expect you to fight for.” Alex claps him on the shoulder and the noise makes Sid hum, roll over and stretch.

Geno is only human, and thus can’t help the way his eyes follow the line of her arms stretching above her head, the way her breasts press up and against the t-shirt she’s wearing under the sweater. Her hips twist a little as her body instinctively chases the release of tension, sustains the movement.

Geno is definitely being tested.

“Mm, Geno?” Sid murmurs sleepily, blinking awake slowly.

“Yes,” Geno says thickly, because his brain is still rebooting.

“Sorry, I fell asleep,” Sid still sounds soft and her voice is husky and low and today is being very unkind to him. “The door was unlocked, so I thought you were in, but in the shower or something, so I just came in. You weren’t answering your phone, so I just sat down and put the TV on.”

“You forgot lock doors?” Geno demands of Alex.

He shrugs. “Oops. Besides, you don’t have anything worth stealing except Crosby.” Alex grins.

Geno shoots him a look that would melt metal. “Wish they would steal you.”

“I stole you some dinner,” Sid says, clearly trying her hardest to stay on topic, despite still being mostly asleep. “I didn’t steal any for Ovechkin.”

“Sid always so cruel to me,” Alex says, pretending to pout, which is the most ludicrous facial expression Geno has ever seen on a human being.

“Go get your own dinner,” Geno snaps.

“I am going so you can get lucky. This is sad,” Alex reminds him in Russian. “Use protection. You are not ready to be a father.”

“I will beat you within an inch of your life if you stay another minute,” Geno promises, also in Russian.

“I am just trying to help you out, sugar,” Ovie sighs, back to English and shaking his head. “All right, all right. I go.” Alex walks out as Sid is just sitting up, rubbing at her eyes.

“What was all that about?” she asks, looking sleep warm and her hair is fuzzily slipping out of its braid. Geno spends most of his time with Sid wanting to kiss her, but he’s suddenly struck with how badly he wants to kiss her, right this moment, for no other reason than being Sid.

“Ovechkin ass,” Geno explains.

Sid grins up at him. “Well, that I knew.” She grimaces. “I think my arm’s asleep.”

“You want stretch out?” Geno asks, like he’s possessed.

“Yeah, you don’t mind? I’ll take off my shoes, I promise.” Sid says, toeing off her sneakers.

Which is how Geno finds himself in bed with Sidney Crosby.

He has to admit that it’s not how he might have hoped, considering they’re both wearing clothes.

“I got you salmon,” Sid says, as Geno opens the take out container. She moves a couple of pillows behind her back, stretching out her legs in front of her, socked toes pointing toward the television. “I swear, your bed is more comfortable than mine. Mine’s too soft.”

The salmon steak is just as enormous as the salad underneath it, and the first bite is still crisp and perfect. “Mm, thank you, Sid,” he says as he nudges her in the side with his elbow.

“You’re welcome,” Sid replies absently as she turns on the television, scanning through until she finds Olympic coverage. “Man, looks like just figure skating on.”

“Not just figure skating,” Geno says, a little horrified. “Is Kavaguti and Smirnov, very good Russian pair.”

Sid giggles, her honest, honking, surprised laugh that bewilders Geno into somehow loving her more. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Is very serious, Sid.” Geno tries to school his face into something deadly serious and he must succeed a little, because Sid dissolves into another burst of laughter.

“You- who even are you?” she asks, looking delighted. “Okay, okay, very serious figure skating.” Sid manages “serious” for roughly a few seconds before cracking up.

“Shape up,” Geno tells her, pointing his fork at her. “Figure skate is majestic.”

Sid raises her eyebrows at him, snorts, but settles back in against the pillows. “It’s all boring classical music and people making tortured faces at each other,” Sid protests, crossing her arms.

“Is art form. You no culture.” Geno argues, taking another bite. “Watch.”

They get through about two routines of pair skate when Geno realizes Sid is being very quiet- and very heavy.

“Great,” Geno mutters, because Sid is practically curled up next to him, her knees tucked against his thigh, her shoulder pressed into his bicep, her head against his shoulder.

Sid murmurs in her sleep, instinctively pushing closer for warmth.

He can’t bring himself to wake her up. He just can’t- if Sid has fallen asleep twice, she has to be exhausted. Geno turns the volume off on the television, so it won’t disturb her and carefully places the empty take out container on the nightstand. He’ll sleep on the couch or something.

After the next routine. Five more minutes.

***


Geno wakes up with Sid plastered against him, one of her arms draped over her own chest, the other flung over him. Her knees are pushed up against his, her toes tucked under his calf. They’re both still more or less sitting back against the headboard, half slumped over on each other.

Sid murmurs quietly in her sleep, her face pressed up against his shoulder, her cheek rubbing against his shirt. Geno can faintly hear the strong buzz of Alex snoring, so that’s at least one thing to be grateful for.

He knows he should get up. He’s fully aware that would be easiest for both of them, if he gets up right now and wakes Sid up in a few minutes. But her lashes are long against her cheek and the quiet whispering undertone of her exhales is sweet and soothing, and he can’t.

It’s selfish, but he lets himself fall back asleep.

***


The second time Geno wakes up that morning is because Sid’s elbow is in his kidney.

“Oof,” he says, surprised and a little winded.

“Oh, sorry, sorry!” Sid gasps, scooting away. “I was trying not to wake you up. I guess we fell asleep, huh?”

If Sid looked rumpled last night, she looks delicious now, smiling in the early morning light and completely, messily perfect. She sighs at her messy braid and tugs the hair tie loose, her fingers picking the braid apart. Sid moans a little as she gets to the nape of her neck, toward her scalp, almost massaging the hair loose. Geno wants to put his hands in there, knead and rub until Sid makes the noise again.

“Sid feel okay?” Geno asks. He’s a little sore and stiff feeling himself. He thinks he remembers someone saying that there are masseuses on call, maybe he’ll use his morning off on the table.

“Eh,” Sid shrugs, cracking her neck back and forth. “Yeah, I’m okay. Ugh, I smell like shit, I’m gonna go grab a shower before practice. Thanks for letting me crash, you’re amazing.” She punches him goodbye in the shoulder, more of a graze.

“Sid smell fine,” Geno protests, but it falls on deaf ears as Sid rushes around the apartment, picking up her coat and slipping on her shoes.

“What?” Sid calls quietly from the living room. “Oh, shit, I have to go. Catch you later? No, wait, your game is so late.” She frowns at him.

“Breakfast tomorrow?” Geno suggests.

“I guess,” she says, slowly, grudgingly. “We have practice, then the whole team is going to the men’s game. We’re supposed to go out- both teams after.” Sid makes a face. “I’m going to catch your game as soon as I can.”

“Is okay, we win anyway,” Geno grins.

“You’d better,” Sid grins back and is gone a second later.

The sound of Alex’s snoring fills the apartment again and Geno collapses back against the pillows.

They all smell like Sid’s shampoo.

Geno sighs but buries his face in them anyway.

***


He lets himself drowse for a while, but between one breath and the next Geno is suddenly struck with the knowledge that Alex absolutely could have seen him and Sid- non-sexually!- in bed together at any point the previous evening.

Geno’s eyes fly open.

He can’t know what Alex knows until Alex wakes up- there’s no way he’s waking Alex up just to arouse his suspicions, but if Geno is in for an eternity of getting shit from Alex Ovechkin over his continuing lack of ability to “seal the deal,” as Alex horrifyingly puts it, continually- well, Geno would rather know sooner than later.

Geno takes a shower and stumbles into his official tracksuit to find Alex awake, watching some coverage in the living room.

“Morning, Zhenya,” Alex says cheerfully.

Geno knows he needs to respond, but he can’t manage anything more than a jerky, obvious nod.

“Did you sleep fine?” Alex asks and Geno thinks, “This is it, here it comes,” but Alex’s face stays smooth and friendly and totally nonthreatening.

“Yes, thank you,” he finally says.

Alex beams at him. “Good. We will have a good game today, I know it.” Alex drags the conversation onto the event he’s watching, which might as well be basket weaving, for all Geno is able to pay attention to it.

His body feels wrung out- between practice, sleeping strangely, and a hideous adrenaline spike- so he does get a massage before practice. It leaves him feeling loose, which must be in the air, because practice is full of laughing and very little work at all. Canada and the Americans both- unsurprisingly- win, which Geno finds out during the video review that takes up the rest of the day before their dinner break before the game.

Geno takes a moment to text Flower and Brooksie his congratulations while Ilya and Sergei are having a conversation about something Geno is a little too distracted to parse. He keeps getting texts from Sid that amount to “this is boring” and “I hate forced social interaction.”

just talk hockey make flower sit with you he sends back.

I wish- CORNERED she sends back cryptically, but Geno doesn’t get to ask her what that means because they’re headed back to the arena to get ready.

The game against Latvia is good, but not good enough. They certainly win- 8-2- which says pretty much everything that needs to be said about it. Alex has a couple of good goals and Geno himself gets a goal and a few assists, which is good, too. Their passing game is great, but they’re taking stupid penalties and not maximizing power plays.

Coach focuses on the positives- but it’s obvious that they still have a lot to do and far to go before they’re ready to play the other real medal contenders.

The game is also late enough that Geno doesn’t have much more energy to do anything but plant himself face down back in bed- that still smells like Sid- but he sees Sid’s text- GOOD game for you. glad to see it.

your turn tomorrow he sends back. get lots of goals

you betcha. meet you at 6 am?

Geno groans and sets his alarm. why morning person

I’ll buy you breakfast ;)

Geno snorts. cheap

you still owe me money Sid points out.

I going to buy you dinner- present if you good Geno promises.

I’m always good she sends back.

seen fights sid no angel Geno laughs as he sends it.

I said I was good- I’m a hockey player, not a saint

saint buy me real breakfast Geno teases.

if YOURE good I might get you a mcmuffin

lies Geno sends back. He doesn’t think he’s seen Sid eat McDonalds except for once after the Cup.

well maybe like the individual components of a mcmuffin. Sid admits.

go to bed you have to wake me up in morning Geno tells her.

ok ok! SIX. she sends back.

Geno falls dead asleep thirty seconds later.

***


Geno is only a little late for breakfast. He’s lucky though- they hardly have anything scheduled today, in deference to yesterday’s late game and tomorrow’s similarly late game. Also, with only two arenas for hockey, the ice is almost overscheduled as it is - between games and practices, it seems like everyone’s always waiting for another team to clear the rink.

“Morning, sleepyhead,” Sid greets, cheerful. She’s used to Geno’s slight continual tardiness about everything except game day rituals, which he’s always good about. “You’re going to go back to bed the second we’re done, aren’t you?”

“For little bit,” Geno admits. He’s been trying to see if he can swing getting into Sid’s game in the afternoon, but he doesn’t want to promise before he’s sure. “You have good time out celebrating yesterday?”

Sid shrugs. “You know me, I don't like those kinds of things, usually, but it was okay. Tried to take it easy.”

“Saving all your party for podium,” Geno suggests, waggling his eyebrows.

“Gotta get there first,” Sid points out, knocking her knee against Geno’s, and just like the other morning, she leaves it there, their legs casually tangling together under the table.

This is starting to fuck with his head. Maybe it’s just a thing they do together now? But he’s sleeping in a bed that smells like her and the toe of her sneaker is tucked behind his ankle- she’s the first person he talks to in the morning and the last one he talks to before bed. It’s everything he wants, but not the way he wanted it, at all.

He certainly doesn’t think of himself as hopeless, but there’s an aspect of hopelessness. If Sid hasn’t approached him for four years, will she ever? He doesn’t think of himself as waiting around for her either. He’s tried relationships with other people, it’s just never seemed fair to them and he never let them get serious. It’s more like he’s just always in love with Sid, something that’s become as much a part of him as anything else- hockey, his family. But he’s not just in love with her- he loves her. If they stayed friends, he would be absolutely fine with that. It doesn’t hurt, it just feels like a room someone is constantly remodeling. Their friendship seems to only grow closer and closer and it makes the idea of them together more richly illustrated in his head.

So Geno watches Sid wrinkle her nose as she tries a new flavor of Vitamin Water and just hooks his ankle around hers. Because if she can do it, so can he. He smiles when she glances at him, at first a little uncertainly, but then melting into an easy smile. The whole meal- maybe the whole world- is brought down to the points where their bodies touch and Sid’s little smile, which stays on her face throughout breakfast.

They don’t talk about anything important- just thoughts on Sweden’s defense- before Sid has to go to practice. When they step outside, the wind is fast and freezing, Sid yelping before doing her jacket up all the way to her chin. Geno would swear if the air didn’t snatch all the power out of his lungs.

Cold,” Sid whines.

“Go, run, catch your bus,” Geno tells her, just as eager to get back to his room and back to bed for a while.

“Hey, hey,” Sid says, hands out, a petulant look on her face. “You’re not going to let me go out onto the ice like this, are you?”

Geno laughs, but shakes his head and completes the pre-game ritual. “Sid still hit hard.”

“Oh, stop,” she says, laughing, but Sid rubs her hand over Geno’s coat like she’s rubbing away the non-existent sting of the back slap. He can’t feel it through the layers, but for a moment, he can’t feel the vicious wind at all- Sid’s never done that before. It’s sweet and it gets him right where he keeps all the carefully hidden late-night thoughts about spending the rest of his life with her.

“Go,” Geno says again, but it’s softer, accidentally tender.

“Okay,” Sid agrees, but she strokes her thumb one last time, just hard enough that Geno can really feel it. “Okay.”

It’s still fucking freezing, but Geno watches her go anyway, until his nose feels stiff and frozen.

***


He gets right back into bed, letting blood flow back into his fingers and toes, when he gets to his room. Sid’s game is at 2:30, so Geno figures he has to at least wait a few hours before waking up Alex to come with him to Sid’s game. Mario is still in town, but he’ll be sitting with Sid’s family- he’s met her parents and Taylor a few times, but he thinks it’ll just be easier to sit in the seats reserved for athletes with Alex. They have a quick meeting at noon, but it also seems like a bad idea to get there too early. He doesn’t want to distract Sid.

He dozes a little, feeling lazy and wonderful sleeping in a big patch of sunlight that covers the entire left side of the bed- this must be what Dixi feels like all the time.

Which- that cat-lazy feeling of mischief- is probably what makes waking Alex up by sprinkling water on his face so completely satisfying.

Alex finally splutters awake when a droplet rolls up his nose. “Zhenya!”

“Good morning, sweetness,” Geno coos in Russian. “After the meeting, you are coming with me to watch Sid play Sweden.”

“I don’t want to watch you drool over Crosby, you need a bib. I wish we were still hate-friends.” Alex groans, rolling over and wiping his face off on the other pillow.

“You’re coming,” Geno tells him.

Alex unburies his face just far enough to look at Geno with one skeptical eyeball. “Only because I want to see Sidney Crosby’s face when her children play for Russia some day.”

“You disturb me,” Geno says. “I’m going to ask Sergei to come to sit between us.”

“Sergei cannot save you from your destiny,” Alex says, too solemnly for a man whose hair is so miraculously stupid in the morning. Well, it’s stupid all day long, but somehow worse now.

Sergei can at least sort of save him- he enthusiastically agrees to come to the game, but not to sit between him and Alex.

“It would be like sitting between two four year olds, but 200 pound four year olds,” Sergei says, patting Geno’s cheek fondly. “Neither of you are very good at behaving.”

“He always starts it,” Geno mutters sullenly.

“I will send you down into the penalty box, don’t think I won’t,” Sergei teases. “The officials will be very surprised.”

“I’m not under your roof anymore, I don’t have to follow your rules,” Geno chirps back.

“I knew I should have charged you rent when I had the chance,” Sergei says, drawing Geno into a loose, one-armed hug.

“You were a terrible landlord,” Geno shoots back, just to give Sergei shit.

“I was perfect. Wake up calls. You never had it so good,” Sergei says confidently. It’s true- Geno misses living with him. The house was always full of noise, familiar and dear. But it was time to step out on his own, and it’s not like Geno wants for company. His house has Jeffrey and Dixi, and, more often than not, Sid trying to find candy in his pantry.

“It was good,” Geno says seriously, because he’s suddenly overwhelmed with the need to let Sergei know how much it meant to him. “Just like home.”

Sergei squeezes him tight. “It is your home, stupid. Ksenia nags when you don’t come over enough.”

“I will, I will,” Geno assures him, and that feels like home, his mother demanding he eat.

“Come, Zhenya. Let’s drag Sasha to lunch, then we’ll go see Sid.” Sergei pulls Geno along, arm still slung around his shoulders. “We should have dinner, just us Pens, too. No games on Friday, we can celebrate together.”

“Make sure Brooksie is still alive,” Geno agrees.

“Americans,” Sergei sighs. “Barbarians.”

***


After their meeting, lunch, and trying to figure out Vancouver public transit, they take a bus on the extremely friendly and precise advice of one of the Olympic volunteers native to Vancouver. They’ve been out to UBC a few times for practices, so the scenery is familiar, even if they’ve only ever been officially transported by the team before. It certainly seems right, considering all the people in Team Canada gear packed onto the bus with them, giving them the hairy eyeball in their Russian tracksuits. Geno’s just grateful the day warmed up considerably from when he was having breakfast with Sid. It’s actually a beautiful day, which he’s heard has been an issue at the outdoor events- not enough snow.

They squeak in with maybe ten minutes before the puck drops, lucky that there’s usually an overabundance of space open in the athletes’ seats. There are a few hastily averted eyes, which are usually the sign that someone has recognized them and is trying to politely pretend they don’t care, whereas some people are blatantly turning around and taking pictures with their cell phones. Geno just grins, because he’s here and that’s great and he gets to watch a good game.

It’s probably going to be another bloodbath, but there’s something sort of nice about that- it’s good to know he won’t have to watch Sid lose. Things are undeniably better for her now that they’re playing and winning, but there’s still something tense in the air. He’s heard that people are complaining about the way the US and Canadian women- but mostly Canada- blow their opponents out of the water- that it’s “classless.” He honestly can’t wait for someone to bring that up with Sid- she’ll rip them a new one.

Canada is playing well- Sid goes 2-on-1 and passes to Agosta for a beauty of a shot to open up the period. Geno cheers as loudly as he can, Sergei and Alex joining in, more amused than anything else. But it’s hard to not get wrapped up in watching hockey if you love hockey as much as they do. When Sid scores on her own, zipping past the Swedish defense to simply fire the puck past the goalie, the viciously accurate backhand into the goal that’s textbook Sid, all three of them are on their feet screaming. Canada closes out the period 5-0, Sid getting another assist, too.

Someone must have mentioned something to Sid, because before the second period starts, Sid is staring directly at them and waving. Alex, because he has no shame, stands up and waves back like a flight attendant indicating emergency exits. Geno rolls his eyes at Sergei, who just laughs, but they get up too and wave more normally.

Sid taps her helmet to them, then turns and waves again and Geno realizes that must be where Mario and the Crosbys are sitting.

She lights it up after that, scoring two more times, blowing records for scoring by a single player away, and her roommate, Hayley, clinches the all-time scoring record in women’s hockey with a goal hot on Sid’s heels.

Canada ends the period 12-0, which must really piss off the Swedes, because they play harder in the third period than they have all game, actually managing a goal off the second string Canadian goalie. Obviously, though, they’re not sweating it, keeping most of the big scorers- Sid, Agosta, and Wickenheiser- in reserve. Canada taps them back one last time though with a goal by Apps, bringing it to 13-1, final score. Sid and Megan Agosta both had hat tricks, the two of them slapping gloves together in a clunky high five as the cameras close in on the Canadian bench.

“Was it everything you dreamed of?” Alex asks Geno, batting his lashes.

“Shut up,” Geno says, but it’s hard to be threatening with a giant grin across your face.

“Good game,” Sergei pronounces, like the judgment of God. “But now it will take forever to get back to the Village, of course.”

“You should get Mario to give us a ride,” Alex suggests, nudging Sergei.

“You try to get to him,” Sergei counters, because naturally, even across the stadium, they can see that Mario is swamped with people wanting pictures and autographs. Presumably, the game is sacred, but after, all bets are off.

hat is off Geno texts Sid.

By the time they’re queuing outside for a bus, his phone buzzes quietly in his pocket. haha thanks and thank you for coming

Before he can respond, there’s another text, we don’t have a game for 5 days so apparently things are going to get CRAZY with the team tonight can I hide at your place?

safe house Geno sends back.

you make it sound like I’m defecting

Geno snorts. you would be awful spy

whatever! text you when I can get free?

“Are you making kissy face with her right now?” Alex demands, reaching for the phone.

“Do not even try,” Geno says, holding the phone above his head.

“See, this is what I meant,” Sergei says. “Children.”

“I will put animals into your bed while you are sleeping,” Geno tells Alex, who is too busy laughing and waggling his eyebrows suggestively to stop Geno from texting back. yes unless I kill ovechkin first then come get from jail

I would totally bail you out Sid sends back.

“Sid has already agreed to bail me out of jail if I kill you,” Geno tells Alex.

“You can be Bonnie and Clyde,” Alex sighs. “But Russia and DC will avenge me.”

“Who are Bonnie and Clyde?” Geno demands.

“It’s like you don’t even listen to Beyonce,” Alex says, drawing a hurt hand up to his heart.

“Why are you like this?” Geno asks.

“Someday, Zhenya, I will teach you to be as great as me,” Alex taps Geno on the nose affectionately.

Sergei laughs until he’s bent over wheezing.

***


It’s a lazy day- they don’t have much to do, so Geno grabs dinner with Alex and Sergei too, until Sergei begs off to call his family. Geno’s at loose ends, because he can’t even prod Alex into entertaining him, because he squirrels off to do something in his room, door closed. He’s laying on the couch, thinking about maybe turning on the television, when there’s a knock at the apartment door.

It’s Sid, looking a little frantic. “Hey, sorry, I know I said I would text, but there wasn’t time.” She darts in the door, like she’s worried someone is going to see her in the hallway.

“Sid go spy after all?” Geno asks, amused as he shuts the door behind her.

“No, you don’t- I thought it got a little crazy the other night, but like, this- we ended up in the speed skating apartment and I don’t even know what everyone was drinking but it smelled like lighter fluid. I mean, I’m professional hockey player, I’ve seen drinking, but they're like… on a whole different level,” Sid hisses out, wide-eyed. “But then they were all going somewhere else, like a club somewhere, so while we were walking across the village I just sort of… left.”

“Run away?” Geno suggests.

Sid gives him a look. “You said you would harbor a fugitive,” she insists.

“Said nothing,” Geno says, but he pushes her toward the couch, getting a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and passing it to her.

“Thanks,” she says absently, chugging half of it. “And seriously, thanks for coming today. And you know, bringing Team Russia with you. You guys were on SportsCenter.”

Geno snorts. His coach will be delighted. “Good to see you play.”

“Taylor says hi, she wished she could have sat with you guys instead of Mom and Dad,” Sid adds.

“Tell her soon she sit with us in athlete seats anyway,” Geno says and Sid’s grin is enormous.

“Maybe 2018,” Sid agrees happily. “Not that, you know, I’ve been thinking about it.”

Geno laughs. “Crosby sisters, terror on ice.”

“I’ve wanted to skate with Taylor since she first put on a pair of skates,” Sid says wistfully. “On a team, I mean.”

“Some day,” Geno promises, coming around the kitchen counter to bump her hip with his. Taylor and hockey are the undeniable pillars of Sidney’s world- Geno knows that Sid would do anything for Taylor. “Just lucky hockey player have long life. Be old 2018. I need new hip, keep playing for Russia.”

“I’ll remind you to take out your dentures before you skate,” Sid says, rolling her eyes. “You won’t need a mouth guard then.” She’s teasing, but there’s an implicit thought behind it, that eight years from now, Sid and Geno will still be skating together, that warms Geno down to his toes.

“I buy you Life Alert, if you fall down in Consol,” Geno suggests.

Sid bursts into laughter. “I can’t- believe!” she wheezes. “Shut up!” She flops down on the couch.

“Or in house you hate,” Geno says, sitting down next to her.

Sid groans. “It’s the worst isn’t it? What the hell am I gonna do with that place?” She sighs. “It’s a great house, but…”

“Not home,” Geno says, thinking of his conversation with Sergei earlier.

“Yeah,” Sid sighs. There’s beat of silence, then she carefully, carefully lays her head on Geno’s shoulder.

Geno is very still, but this is fine, he’s sure- most people are pretty touchy with friends. He normally is, but Sid had always seemed to dislike being touched or touching other people much more than was necessary. She’s probably just tired and under stress- anyone might want a little human comfort. So he breathes normally and relaxes into it. Just two good friends, trying to unwind after a long week.

Sid must feel him relax, because she relaxes too, completely slumping against Geno. “I can’t keep living in Mario’s house forever, though,” she says.

“Mario love you. You can always stay.” Geno tells her.

Sid shrugs, her shoulder rubbing against his arm. “I know. But I feel maybe like I’m taking advantage.” Before he can say anything, Sid starts again. “I mean, not of the Lemieuxes, but taking advantage of the fact that they would never ask me to leave. It’s easy for me to stay with them. I’m… coasting.”

“Feel like you need to stand on your feet,” Geno suggests.

“Exactly,” Sid exhales.

“Don’t mean you have to be alone,” Geno says after a moment, once he thinks he’s found the right words. But in case they aren’t enough, he tips his head over so that his cheek rests against the top of her head, her hair soft against his cheek.

Sid sighs again, but it sounds less frustrated, more just like a release of tension. Content, maybe.

Which is when fucking Ovechkin comes out of his room.

“Zheyna, do you have-“ Alex breaks off, seeing Sid and Geno on the couch. “Never mind.”

But Sid is already sitting up, and Geno scowls at him. “What, Alex.”

“Nope! Nothing, nothing!” Alex says, backing right through the door and closing it again.

“Um,” Sid says, fiddling with her hands. “You wanna play cards?”

The calm is gone- thanks to Alex- so Geno just nods. “What you want to play?”

Sid’s eyes light up. “Did we ever teach you Liverpool?”

***


They end up sitting cross-legged on Geno’s bed, Sid earnestly attempting to explain the rules of this complete nonsense game.

“Oh, no drawing blood,” Sid says sternly.

Geno stares at her, horrified. “What is game?” he demands, bewildered.

“Well, I mean, there’s just the two of us, it probably won’t be an issue,” Sid says, with a shrug. “But, like, see, there’s a scar right here- Mike Chaisson’s sister used to wear a lot of cheap rings.” She holds out her hand to Geno, showing him a faint white scar over the knuckle on her pinkie.

Geno continues to stare at her.

“Discards are serious, Geno,” Sid says.

“Can’t tell if you playing me,” Geno mutters.

“This is a great game!” Sid protests. “Now, remember, when the other person lays down a run or a set, the other person has to take all the points in their hand. The goal is to get the lowest score- if you win the hand you get negative 25 points. It’s 20 for jokers, 15 for aces, 10 for face cards and tens, 5 for everything else.”

Sid explains all the rules, but after a while, it all just drifts over Geno in a layer of ridiculousness. The real reward is watching Sid’s painfully focused face, the way she bites at her lower lip as she strategizes. Also, as per usual, her trash talking is equal parts sad and endearing.

“Suck it, 4,5,6,7 of spades, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of hearts!” Sid crows, throwing them down on the bed. “What’re you gonna do about it?”

Geno tucks his head down to look at his cards, but mostly hide a smile. “Could still win,” he says.

“It’s negative 125 to 800,” Sid reminds him.

“Game of chance,” Geno teases.

“It’s skill,” Sid insists. “Wait, do you- you have ten cards in your hand!”

Geno glances at his hand again. “No?”

“Let me see!” she insists, reaching for his cards.

He automatically holds them up and above her head. “Trying to cheat?”

Sid scoffs, stretching up to try to snatch the cards away. “One, I just won this hand, two, you can’t even cheat right! You have more cards than you should! You’re doing the opposite of what the point of the game is!”

“You make up all rules!” Geno yelps back, flailing backward to try to avoid her grabby hands. “You no discard, turn not over! Cheat!”

“I’m not the cheater, you’re the cheat!” Sid has basically every sharp part of her anatomy wedged into all of his vulnerable parts, practically climbing him to try to get to the cards.

This basically means that were she not trying to rip 9- possibly 10- pieces of cardboard out of his hand, Sid would be giving him a lap dance. An extremely uncoordinated lap dance, but still.

“Hah!” she crows as she wrests the cards out of his hand, knocking him over and flopping down next to him, flipping through them. “I told you. Ten cards.”

Geno is trying not to roll over and kiss Sid senseless. It’s rough going. “Oops.”

“So I double win, because you were cheating and also I am the best at this,” Sid tells him, because she’s hyper-competitive about the most ridiculous things and Geno loves her so much that all he can do is laugh to let it out from where it’s trying to overwhelm him and make his chest too tight. “Shut up!”

Sid tosses the cards at him, but he can’t stop laughing. “I won’t play with you anymore if you can’t respect the game,” she says, which sets him off fresh.

“Sid great,” Geno says helplessly. “Totally win fake game.” His head comes to rest next to hers and he lets them rest together, instead. Her knee is on top of his, their thighs pressed together, side to side. They’re touching a hundred little places, easy and good and Geno feels almost giddy. He’s trying not to over think it, over think Sid’s growing inclination for touching and being touched, but he can’t help the way it makes him grin, pleased with life.

“It’s real how much you suck at it,” she says, nudging her head against his. “Now, shut up and give me the remote, I get to pick what we watch because I won.”

Geno is happy to give her the remote, because it suggests that she’s going to stick around longer. Sid flips around for a bit before finally settling on-

“What,” Geno says blankly, staring at the screen. “Sweep Olympic sport?”

“It’s curling!” Sid protests.

“Look like… old people game. Sweep board? Scuffle board.” Geno thinks that’s what he means.

“It’s not shuffle board!” Sid squawks. “Do you have no respect for anything today?”

“You not respect figure skate!” Geno shoots back. “That at least have art, skill.”

“There is extreme precision required in curling!” Sid elbows him.

Geno just raises his eyebrows at her.

“Oh, what would you know about it,” Sid mutters, but the corner of her mouth is just barely quirked up.

It doesn’t make any more sense the longer they watch it, but Geno has to admit he’s distracted by the way Sid presses incrementally closer over the course of five or so minutes. They’re on a commercial break when she really starts squirming, tucking her toes under his calf.

“Okay?” Geno asks.

“It’s freezing in here,” Sid sighs. “I give up, I’m just pulling up the blanket, come on, up.”

And so he’s bundled under the blanket with Sid, too, because the second the blanket is thrown over both of them, Sid is curling right back to how they were positioned a moment ago.

“Better?” Geno asks, as dryly as he can manage when his entire brain is screaming at him that they’re just snuggling at this point.

“Yes, thank you,” Sid chirps neatly. Her toes- which are cold enough that he can feel them through his pants- are tucked safely back under his leg.

In an ideal world, Geno would just manhandle Sid right into his arms, pulling her against him to keep them both warm; he’d bury his face in her hair against her neck and then kiss her until she turned curling off. But instead he just settles them into a more comfortable slump against the headboard, feeling Sid’s toes slowly warm up.

Curling is strangely hypnotic, and he can feel Sid’s breathing even out to something a little slower, closer to sleep.

“Sid,” Geno whispers.

“Mmm, I’m awake. Just tired. Not gonna fall asleep on you again, I promise,” Sid murmurs, even though her head is drifting from his shoulder to his collarbone. Her breasts are pressed soft and distracting against his arm, but he’s too busy watching every second of her slow, sleepy smile against his t-shirt.

“Sure?” Geno rumbles back, his voice gruff as he tries to keep it quiet.

“Uh huh,” Sid says on a yawning exhale.

Sid is sound asleep on him within a minute.

All Geno can think is that at least they made it under the covers, this time. He extracts the remote from Sid’s loose grip on her stomach, under the blanket, muting the television.

He’s about to set a quick cell phone alarm, resigning himself to the fact that there’s no way he’s waking her up- or sleeping on the couch- when Alex pokes his head in the door.

His eyebrows fly up his face, but before Geno can hiss at him to leave, Alex just grins, flips him a thumbs up, and walks back out, closing the door gently behind him.

Geno spends about ten seconds wondering if he’s going to go after him to give Alex a firm lecture about privacy and personal boundaries, but really, if he’s not going to wake Sid up in the name of self-preservation, he’s not going to do it to yell at Ovechkin.

Also, he did shut the door nicely.

So, instead, Geno sets his alarm, settles in against the pillows and lets the warmth and comfort of another person- of having Sid- in bed with him lull him to sleep. Last time, he’d been holding out, trying to stay awake, but this time, he lets himself enjoy it. Lets himself enjoy Sid’s quiet breathing, the rise and fall of her body against his, the way she murmurs a little in her sleep when he turns out the light.

***


When Geno wakes up, he quickly notices a couple of things. Firstly- one of them moved in their sleep and he’s not sure whether it was him, but it was probably her, because Sid is mostly draped over his chest, and secondly, Sid is definitely awake. Her cheek is pillowed on her right arm, over the left side of his chest, and her left hand is tapping a nonsense rhythm on her wrist.

He’s sure she can hear his breath stutter in his chest but the fact that she’s been awake- for who knows how long- stops him dead. Sid has been lying there, on him, with him. She could have moved anytime, gotten up, left a note, or even pulled away, put some space between them. She didn’t have to stay, which means she must have wanted to.

“Hey,” she says, turning her head to look up at him, no hint of surprise or awkwardness on her face.

“Hi,” Geno croaks, his voice rough and sleep-foggy. “Sleep okay?”

Sid watches him for a second, he’s not sure what for- all she’s been doing is watch him sleep, apparently- but then she smiles, her hair a mess haloing her face and Geno wants to keep this moment- quiet and sweet- close as long as he can. “Yeah. You?” she asks.

“Game today,” Geno whispers, not wanting to chase away the seemingly fragile atmosphere in the room. The early morning light is weak through the clouds and Geno doesn’t have to be anywhere for hours, filling him with a lazy peace. “Feel good.”

“You look like you want to go back to bed,” she says, just as quiet- like the hushed voice people use in churches. “Go back to sleep. I’ll grab you breakfast.”

Geno raises his eyebrows. “Sure?”

“I owe you, I told you I wouldn’t fall asleep on you. It’s your turn,” Sid jokes easily.

“Okay,” Geno agrees, if for no other reason than to see what happens. “Thank you.”

“Mm, thanks for not kicking me out of bed last night to walk home in the BC cold,” she counters.

Geno doesn’t tell her that there is no scenario in which he would kick her out of bed.

Instead he just says, “I know, I nice.” Which makes her laugh, loud and surprised, which does break the moment, but in the best way possible.

“Okay, it doesn’t count if you say it yourself,” she says, levering herself up on her elbows against his chest.

“Is fact.” Geno is ignoring the way her breasts are resting on his chest because his body is having a perfectly normal morning reaction anyway, and that’s really not what he needs right now.

“Uh huh,” Sid says, but her lips are curling into a smile as she finally rolls up and away. Geno takes this opportunity to sit up, pull a bunch of blankets into his lap and casually drop his hands in his lap, too.

She glances back at him after toeing on her shoes and snorts.

“What?” Geno asks, discreetly pulling up more of the blanket to put in his lap.

“You- you have the worst bedhead,” she says, grinning.

Geno blinks, but scrubs at his hair, which just makes Sid smile wider.

“Not, not at all,” she says in response to the unasked question of better? “Here.” She steps back over to the bed, and finger combs his hair into place, managing not to snag or tangle anything, unlike him.

“Better,” she says finally, giving it one last pass up and back, slowly. The blunt edges of her short nails trail over his scalp and he thinks it’s a little ironic that he’s wanted to get his hands in her hair for so long and she just walks over and dives right in.

“Feels nice,” he says simply, because he’s pretty sure he leaned up and into her hands, like a cat being petted.

“Now you’re just angling for a scalp massage,” Sid teases, poking him in the collarbone. “Go back to sleep, I’ll be back in a while.” She walks out, closing the bedroom door behind her.

Geno does go back to sleep, a little bit because he’s tired and Sid is an abominably early riser, but mostly because he does not want to deal with Alex’s wagging eyebrows and leering grins, either. When he wakes up the second time, there’s no Sid and his phone alarm is chiming obnoxiously.

“Zhenya, turn that off and come out here before I eat the breakfast Crosby brought you,” Alex yells from the living room.

Geno smothers a groan in the pillows.

“She here?” Geno asks as he pads into the living room.

“No, she had practice and refused to let me wake you up, even when I explained that I would not even douse you with water like some people are fond of doing,” Alex says accusingly.

“You deserve every single ounce of shit I give you,” Geno says, glaring. “Also, learn to knock.”

Alex raises his eyebrows. “What, so I don’t see you cuddling? Again? Filthy.”

“Again?” Geno asks incredulously. “I mean, what?”

Alex snorts. “Seriously? You’re going to pretend like you two haven’t been dating like repressed, ultra-religious teenagers?”

“We aren’t dating,” Geno says, annoyed, because if there’s one thing he’s painfully certain of, it’s that he’s not dating Sid.

“Zhenya, we’re friends,” Alex says, and he actually looks hurt. “If you want to keep it ‘secret,’ you should be more subtle, but you can tell me.”

“Sasha, I wish there was something to tell you.” Geno rubs a hand through his hair, frustrated. “We’re just friends.”

Alex looks sympathetic but baffled. “You aren’t, though.” Geno goes to snap at Alex again, because really, he’d know, wouldn’t he, if he and Sid were more than friends, but Alex waves him off. “This is not how ‘just friends’ behave, Zhenya.”

Geno pauses, but shrugs. “Sid does things differently.”

“Some things are the same, no matter who you are,” Alex says gently. “I think you’re ignoring what’s there because you don’t expect anything to be.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Geno wrinkles his nose as he tries to figure out what the hell Alex is saying.

“You haven’t noticed anything different,” Alex says, staring at Geno with an unimpressed expression.

“It’s probably some new scoring streak superstition,” Geno shrugs again, going for the container which- because it’s Sid- has an omelet and fruit in it. He still remembers the strong chemical tang in the air when Sid had let Stephanie Lemieux paint her nails black and gold and then had proceeded to make Stephanie keep doing it all scoring streak long, including an emergency manicure session before an away game. Stephanie had painted them in the car on the way to the airport, swearing quietly and inexpertly every time they’d hit a bump.

Alex stares at him for ten long, accusing seconds before throwing his hands up in the air and heading back to his room.

“What!” Geno calls after him. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t enjoying how close he and Sid are, but it doesn’t mean anything.

Alex just makes an inarticulate noise that could be anger, sadness or amusement. Geno really can’t figure him out.

He mulls over what Alex said through his breakfast and his shower, but he has to give it up, because he keeps thinking in the same circular pattern and it’s giving him a headache. When he comes out, there’s a text from Sid.

Hey hope food was ok my team is so hungover today. coming to watch Canada before game?

good thanks maybe one period? Geno sends back. They’re on the ice right after Canada, so they might be able to watch a bit.

I’ll save you a seat

Geno grins. I root switzerland

I’ll save you a seat in hell

Geno bursts into surprised laughter.

***


Morning skate is solid. He feels like they’re really connecting on the ice, which bodes well for the game.

When he gets out of the showers, a bunch of people are talking about eating quickly then catching the first half of Canada’s game, so the team organizes a shuttle to get them from UBC to the arena.

team eat now come for canada Geno texts Sid. we sit together?

are you rooting for Switzerland?

you no tell color all red white Russia clothes blend in Geno sends back, chuckling to himself.

I’m going to punch you in the thigh every time you cheer FOR THE WRONG COUNTRY

sid just cheer twice as hard? make up for me? I no cheer Geno suggests.

might be acceptable.

Geno laughs, shrugging his shirt on. I find you in athlete seat?

were hard to miss look the whole team is there- I’ll save you one next to me

))) Geno sends back. It’s been a while since he’s watched hockey with Sid- usually they end up catching a Steelers game, or baseball in the off-season.

They’re pretty quick about eating- normally, it’d be fine to just slip in minutes before the game, but there are about 10 of them and they want to sit together. There are usually enough spare seats, but most of the Canadian athletes will probably show up in support, coming down from Whistler, too.

So actually, the USA/Norway game is just wrapping up when they get to the arena, the Americans bringing it up to 5-1 with 3 minutes left in the period. Sure enough, the Canadian women are pretty obvious, so Geno leads them straight up to where they’re sitting.

“Seriously, Zhenya?” Alex calls at him, but he’s dragging Alexei along behind him eagerly enough.

Sid catches sight of him right as the Americans score again, her waving and yelling totally absorbed by the crowd.

“Geno!” She shouts again, even as her teammates stare at her. There are just enough seats if they sit 6 and 4, half of them in front of the others.

“Hey,” Sid says, practically bouncing in her seat. “You made it! I was worried that I was going to have to fight people for your seat.”

“Trust you to fight hard,” Geno says, settling into his seat, having to lean toward Sid so he doesn’t have to yell. The game’s over and the crowd is loud and excited. “Do punch Max show you.”

“I’m pretty sure that move is illegal in Canada,” Sid says, laughing. “How was practice?”

“Good. You will see,” Geno says. “You stay, yes?”

Sid rolls her eyes. “Of course, dummy. Mario doesn’t know it, but I’m going to make him come sit with me.”

“Smuggle?” Geno asks. “’No, not superstar legend. Water boy for team. Sit in athlete seats.’ Will work.” Geno mimics a woman’s voice that has Sid shoving at him with her shoulder.

“I’m pretty sure no one here can refuse Mario anything. He could probably kill someone up here and get away with it.” Sid says.

Geno snorts. “Sid, too.”

“Sid, are you going to introduce us, or just fraternize with the Russians?” one of the girls jokes, which then leads to a round of introductions between the teams that completely flies over Geno’s head.

Mostly he remembers the look Hayley Wickenheiser gives him, which seems to be “nice to put a face to where my roommate has been sleeping” and Jennifer, but mostly because he spends a minute wondering why she looks so familiar, before Sid explains that she’s Jennifer Botterill, Jason’s sister.

Ovie is hitting on seemingly the entire team at once, over Geno’s head, so Geno just slouches down close to Sid. “Maybe should have sit alone,” he grouses.

“They’ll settle down as soon as the puck drops,” Sid assures him, leaning right back into his space.

“So, you’re who Sid is always with,” Mikkelson says, leaning over and around Sid to blatantly evaluate Geno. “She bailed on us last night.”

“She make me watch curling,” Geno finally says, wondering what the correct response is in this situation.

Mikkelson stares at him for another moment before bursting out laughing. “He’s a keeper, Crosby. I can’t convince my boyfriend- or anyone else, for that matter- to watch curling with me.” Seemingly satisfied, she goes back to shit talking with Alex right over their heads.

Geno’s not sure what he’s about to say, but the stadium erupts in cheers as Canada takes the ice, effectively cutting him off, anyway. Sid is on her feet, shouting loudly, along with the rest of her team.

“Last chance to decide to root for a winning team,” Sid chirps. “You know, before you get embarrassed.”

God, Geno loves it when she talks smack. “Anything happen at Olympics,” he says peacefully.

Her eyes narrow. “Was that a Turin joke?” she demands.

Geno throws a hand to his heart, hamming it up. “Me?”

“Watch it,” Sid says. “You still owe me money, don’t make me win more of it off of you.”

“Bet dinner,” Geno says impulsively, just to watch Sid succumb to the inevitable lure. She can never resist a bet.

“We’re talking steakhouse, 50 dollar wine dinner,” Sid specifies.

Geno snorts. Whoever wins, he wins anyway. “Done.”

“I’m going to order a steak the size of your head,” Sid warns him.

“Have to win first,” Geno says, gesturing out to the ice.

Sid just smirks at him.

Despite her supreme confidence and her crowing over both of Switzerland’s penalties, Canada doesn’t score until 9 minutes into the game. The girls go insane, and the cheering in the stadium lasts maybe a full minute, is what it feels like.

“I like my steaks medium rare,” Sid coos at him when she finally sits down again.

“Lot of game left,” Geno says cheerfully.

The period ends, 1-0, but it only takes Canada 30 seconds into the second period to score again, Heatley and Marleau reversing the previous goal, Heatley taking the assist this time. The noise is deafening, compounded by the penalty Switzerland takes seconds later for delaying the game. Game play is fast and furious after that, like Switzerland is just waking up and deciding to play, and play hard.

Geno wishes he could stay, but they’ve got to go get warmed up and into their gear in a few minutes. “Time we go. Cheer hard,” Geno says when they clear down the ice.

Sid frowns, but nods, which just draws attention to the fact that due to her enthusiastic support, the glitter-covered maple leaf pin in her hair, matching the rest of the team, is loose. It’s not holding her hair back from her face at all, practically lost in the thick curls.

“Here,” Geno says, carefully drawing it out, making sure not to snag any hair. He tries to put it back in place, but he can privately admit that maybe it’s just to card his hand into her hair, as soft and wild as he thought it would be.

Sid leans forward, tucking her face away from the crowd so he can have better access. “Better?” she asks, as Geno nearly drops it.

“I try?” Geno finally says, admitting defeat. It’s sort of in there, but it doesn’t look like it did before. He keeps sort of poking at it, trying to get it to settle.

Sid bites her lip then laughs. “Maybe don’t give up your day job,” she teases, turning back to face him. She brings her hand up to take the pin, their fingers brushing over each other’s. In a second, she has it settled, a deft twist of a lock before tucking the pin over it.

“How does it look?” she asks, wrinkling her nose up playfully.

“Very Canada,” Geno says. Sid just gives him a stunning, bright smile, and Alex bodily drags him off before he can say anything else.

“You can hit on your girlfriend later,” Alex says, practically carrying him down three aisles. “It’s time for hockey, Zhenya.”

Geno feels good, excited and positive as he suits up in the locker room, thinking about Sid exploiting Mario’s absolute adoration and making him sit with her. He has a really good feeling deep in his gut.

***


They lose the game.

Or, really, Geno loses the game.

He can still hear the clang of the puck hitting the post, the disappointed roar of the crowd, and twenty seconds later it was all over. They line up, shake hands, and Geno ducks into the locker room as quickly as he can, certainly glad he’s not Alex, who is stuck talking to reporters. He cranks up the heat in the showers, letting the pounding pressure and almost-too-hot water take the worst of the edge off.

Letting your country down doesn’t get any easier with repetition- Geno vividly remembers their fourth place finish in Turin, the shame and frustration. This isn’t the end of the road for them- they at least have their game against the Czech Republic, but it just as easily could have been it. His failure to skate and play up to his own potential could mean the difference between winning or losing. It did tonight.

He doesn’t want to talk to anyone, not his teammates, the reporters, no one. He doesn’t even check his phone, which is why it’s so surprising when he opens the stairwell door- not even willing to be around people enough to risk the elevator- and he sees Sid sitting slumped against his door.

When she hears him walking down the hall, her head snaps up and she stares at him, biting her lip hesitantly.

Sid doesn’t say anything when he walks up, just silently scrambles to her feet. Geno still can’t make himself pretend to be all right, but Sid just follows him in and sits right down on the couch.

“I’ll just be here,” she says quietly, crossing her legs.

He wants to just shrug the loss off, but that’s not him, it never has been, and Sid knows it. So he just heads in to his room and shuts the door, leaning against it and sighing.

Geno can’t stop replaying those ten seconds in his head, ten seconds out of the maybe twenty minutes he was on the ice, the only ten seconds that had counted.

He’s not sure exactly how long he spends by himself, but it feels like a while. He usually just takes himself out of contact- going home or holing up in the hotel room of the night. But somehow knowing Sid is just sitting out there, he can’t help but be distracted, wondering what she’s doing.

So he finds himself heading into the living room, and true to her word, Sid is still there, curled up on the couch, feet tucked up underneath herself, typing away on her phone.

“Hey,” she says quietly, glancing up and putting her phone down on the coffee table. Sid pats the couch next to her in invitation.

Geno sits down, and she patted close, so he sits close. Besides, she basically slept on him last night- if she had a problem with him being close, it probably would have come up earlier. She just sort of watches him for a minute before picking up her phone again, going back to texting.

It’s not like she’s ignoring him, exactly, but she’s just sort of being there, warm and quiet by his side. She’s not pressuring him in any way to do anything but be there too, and slowly but surely he can feel the tension in his neck and shoulders ebb away. He still feels like shit, but he can’t deny that this better than anything else he’s tried, short of getting blindingly drunk. Which, really, just delays the feeling, rather than get rid of it.

They’ve sat there for maybe twenty minutes when Sid puts her phone down again, this time in her lap, and clumsily reaches out for Geno’s hand.

She mostly gets fingers- it’s awkward and a little uncomfortable, but it startles a huff of a laugh out of him. He can’t help but ease out of the grip and start again, tucking her fingers into his, curling his over hers. It’s something he’s seen his grandparents do hundreds of times, an old-fashioned gesture. He lets it rest against his leg, the back of her hand resting on his thigh. She’d reached over with her left hand, her back against the corner of the couch, and it angles her toward him.

His thumb slips against the soft, soft skin of Sid’s wrist, pale over blue veins- and if he wasn’t sitting so close, he wouldn’t have noticed the faint shiver that passes through her.

They sit there, probably too close for a while, Sid’s eyes dark and strangely evaluating as she deliberately runs her thumb over Geno’s knuckles. It’s not a tentative touch, by any means, but there’s something gentle about it that sets Geno’s skin humming.

“I have to go, we have practice really early tomorrow,” Sid says after a moment, voice even but regretful. “Do you have the afternoon free before dinner? I know Gonch wants us all to go to out at eight.”

“Practice 2 to 3, back to village by 4?” Geno says, his voice a little rusty.

Sid smiles, small and bright. “Perfect. Meet me then?” she asks.

Geno raises his eyebrows. “Surprise?”

Sid grins. “You’ll see.” She squeezes his hand, running her thumb over his knuckles again before letting go and standing up. “See you tomorrow, Geno.”

Sid lets herself out and Geno just sits there for a minute, then exhales long and slow before standing up too, and puts himself to bed.

***


Practice is quiet and subdued until Coach yells at them a lot and afterward they all feel a little better about the loss. They have their game in 2 days, which is plenty of time to lick their wounds, ignore the press and get back to what they came here for- to win. Luckily, Canada’s game also went to a shootout, so both teams are on the shit list, but Canada at least won theirs, which Russia doesn’t have the luxury of pointing out when they get dumped on.

By the end of their time on the ice, Geno feels like he’s let it go; he knows it when Alex slaps him on the ass with his stick and Geno just slaps him right back.

“Good,” Alex says, like a grown man didn’t just spank him with a hockey stick, probably hard enough to leave a mark if they weren’t wearing so much padding. “Stop sulking. A bunch of us are going out tonight, are you coming?”

Geno shakes his head.

“Crosby?” Alex asks, ending in an amused smirk before Geno can answer.

“She’s surprising me with something, then we’re going to dinner with Sergei, Brooks and Flower,” Geno admits.

“You’re going to have to remind me when your anniversary is. I want to get you a nice gift,” Alex says.

“I hate you,” Geno reminds him.

Alex just beams at him and smacks a kiss on the top of Geno’s helmet.

They make back just in time for him to drop off his things at his room and to meet Sid at four, at the entrance to the Athletes’ Village, whereupon she promptly drags him over to one of the shuttle queues.

“Where we going?” Geno asks.

Sid rolls her eyes. “Just know that it took a lot of personal emotional strength to subject myself to this,” she says.

***


They have a perfect pair of seats- not even the athletes’ seats, real seats- to see the compulsory program for Ice Dancing.

“Who Sid kill for seats?” Geno asks, only half joking.

“I have connections,” Sid says loftily.

“You made Mario get,” Geno guesses.

“Brisson,” Sid finally admits.

Geno laughs. “Make him earn contract,” he teases.

“Shut up,” Sid says, her face flushing. “He said it wasn’t a problem.”

Geno feels happy and a little goofy with it, a little reckless, so he throws an arm around the back of Sid’s seat. “Nice of Sid,” he says. “Thanks.”

Sid wrinkles her nose, but the flush over her cheeks is a little stronger. “And don’t forget it,” she says as the Italians take the ice. “How is there three hours of this?”

“Canada have broom sport, Russians have beautiful skate,” Geno teases further.

“We’re very good at ice dancing, thank you,” she says, giving him a look. “We’re favored to medal.”

“But Russia going to get gold,” Geno says, grinning.

“We’ll see,” Sid says, archly. “Besides, really, it’s ice dancing. Come on.”

Despite the scoffing noises Sid makes into his ear, pointing out wobbling ankles and shaky lifts, she can’t resist competition, so by the time the first Russian pair comes up, she’s shit talking hard.

“Seriously, they’re giving her points for a triple axel? That was like… two and a quarter turns,” Sid gestures out at the ice.

“Suddenly expert?” Geno says, but he’s about two seconds from bursting out laughing.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist,” Sid scoffs, but she’s holding her breath along with the rest of the crowd on the lift.

By the time Canada’s first pair gets on the ice, halfway through the compulsory dance, Sid has given up all pretense and is just cheering wildly. Geno is having a great time- Sid’s thigh is warm against his and the ice dancing is fun, but not half as fun as watching Sid watch it. Her hair is up in a ponytail and it sways emphatically after her when she shakes her head when the score is announced.

“Are you kidding me?” she demands. “31.14? Are you kidding.”

“Low technical,” Geno says with a shrug.

“They were robbed on skills,” Sid insists.

“You tell self that,” Geno says patting her on the arm as the first American pair takes the ice.

“What would you know about it,” Sid says, nudging Geno with her shoulder. The pairs are getting better and better, building up to the World Champion Russian pair, Domnina and Shabalin.

Their skating is phenomenal, perfectly in sync, and even Sid is quiet, just little gasps when they attempt something especially difficult. They both exhale as the routine ends.

Geno sees the clock out of the corner of his eye. “Sid, have to go. Be late for dinner.”

“What?” Sid demands, looking legitimately horrified. “But Tessa and Scott are the last pair!”

“Five minutes to eight,” Geno points out.

“Text Gonch,” Sid insists.

“Canada never beat Russia score,” Geno says, nodding toward the scoreboard, which is showing a two-point lead on the Americans, the next highest pair.

Sid just narrows her eyes at him.

be late sid stubborn Geno sends Sergei.

Tell me something new He sends back and Geno bites down on a laugh.

Sid anxiously jitters her leg through the third Russian and American pairs, and when the Italians come out to skate, Geno finally just puts a hand on her knee.

“Is not medal night,” Geno says, completely incapable of keeping the smile off his face.

“What, I’m calm,” she says, even as her leg keeps moving under his hand.

Geno snorts. “Three hour ago you not like at all, now crazy,” he says.

“Okay, it’s the Olympics, you can’t help it,” Sid says. Well, that and Sid gets competitive about games of bingo with children, of course she’s going to get competitive about this.

“Breathe,” Geno reminds her as the Italians easily glide through their routine. He squeezes her knee a little, meaning to be reassuring, but Sid jumps like she’s been shocked, making a gasping whimper that makes Geno’s mouth go dry.

“Ticklish,” Sid manages after a moment, face bright red.

“Sorry,” Geno says, immediately moving his hand.

“No, it’s- um, fine,” Sid stammers. She’s momentarily distracted by the start of the British routine, but she glances back over at Geno almost immediately. “I was just- um. Surprised.”

Even though this is not the time or the place- at all- Geno can’t help but replay that noise in his head again and shift in his seat when he realizes he now knows Sid gets turned on when someone squeezes her knee, just like that. He’s only jolted out of his thoughts when Sid bolts to her feet to scream loudly for the Canadians who are apparently Russia’s best competition.

Sid’s back in her seat in a second, silent and focused, all of her not inconsiderable attention on the ice, which- he knows he’s in too deep, because that look, more than familiar to him, is just as sexy as the noise.

The Canadians skate an amazing program, but it’s not enough- their score is a full point below the Russians.

“Don’t say anything,” Sid says, pointing a finger at him.

“Must hurry, Flower, Gonch, Brooksie all wait,” Geno says, smiling innocently. And because he has to know if it was a fluke, he squeezes her knee one again. “We go?”

Sid’s face flushes bright red, but she bites her lip around a noise. “Uh, yeah,” Sid says, taking a wobbly breath.

So, it’s not a fluke. Geno spends a lot of time carefully not thinking about what it might be like to have sex with Sid- that way lies a lot of really inappropriate erections- but for a moment, all he can think about is that there’s so much he wants to learn about her body. If this is something he didn’t know about- maybe something even Sid didn’t realize- he can’t help but wonder where else on her body is sensitive, where else makes her whimper and moan.

“Hey, c’mon,” Sid says, standing, and it’s not until she waves it practically in his face that he realizes she’s offering him her hand. “We’re going to have to shove our way out if we don’t want to be super late.”

“Sid lead the way,” Geno agrees easily, taking her hand and knitting their fingers together. She smiles at him for a second, then proceeds to viciously worm her way through the crowd. Geno just smiles apologetically as Sid parts the sea of spectators before her, letting her drag him down and out. He’s never seen anything quite like it- if she wasn’t paid millions of dollars to play hockey, she’d probably make a good bodyguard or something. Geno certainly wouldn’t get in her way.

“Almost there,” Sid calls over her shoulder, finally getting outside, only to find there’s a mess of people waiting for the buses. There are cabs lined around the block, but crazy amounts of people milling around there, too.

“I call Sergei, they wait,” Geno reassures her, which is when Sid’s expression takes a turn for the determined.

“You know where the restaurant is, right? The address, I mean,” Sid clarifies.

“Yes?” Geno says, curious.

“Okay, we’re going in,” Sid tugs him over to push through to the sidewalk.

“Never going to get cab,” Geno tells her.

Sid rolls her eyes. “Don’t be such a pessimist,” she says. When they get to the curb, she whistles loud and piercing with the hand not holding Geno’s and flings out the arm into the street.

A cab is pulling up, but there are at least three groups of people trying to pile into it.

“Are you kidding me, this is our ca-“ a guy is saying when he catches sight of Sid’s bright red, quilted down jacket, CANADA across the chest. He then glances up at her face and his mouth drops open. “Oh my god, you’re Sidney Crosby.”

“Um, hi,” Sidney says, awkwardly shoving her other hand in her pocket, which is basically Sidney code for ‘don’t touch me, please.’

“Give her the cab,” the man demands of the other groups. “Everyone back off!”

Geno is trying so hard not to laugh he’s almost crying. Sid looks torn between embarrassment and her drive to prove Geno wrong.

“I really couldn’t,” she says, good Canadian manners clearly winning out.

“You can and you will,” he insists. “You just beat the Finns and we’ll call it even.”

“Thank you?” she says sheepishly. “I’ll certainly try my hardest.”

“Get ‘em, Sid!” Someone yells from the back of the crowd that’s gathering.

Geno is still laughing hard enough that Sid has to push him into the cab, before she gets in after him.

“Bye,” Sid calls awkwardly out the open window.

Geno is dying.

“Shut up, you jerk,” Sid says, shoving him over. “We’re going to- Geno, come on, what’s the address?”

“C restaurant, Beach and Howe,” Geno gasps out, finally managing some air between laughs. There are some blinding photography flashes outside the cab.

The cab starts driving away, even if it’s slow going with the crowds of people exiting the coliseum. Sid pulls out her phone, texting away.

“Sorry, how long will it be, do you think?” she asks the driver.

“Maybe fifteen minutes?” he says with a shrug. “It’s a madhouse.”

“I’m texting Flower,” Sid tells Geno. “That was embarrassing.”

“Canada love Sid,” Geno says with a chuckle. “No surprise for me.”

“Well, I don’t want special treatment,” Sid finally says.

“Sid special.” It’s a fact; he doesn’t think he’s being too obvious. “Always be different. This time good- not always nice people. You get ton of shit for being Sid.” Geno’s swearing idioms in English are always better than any of his other metaphorical speech.

“It’s okay,” she says, and it’s not until she squeezes her fingers around his that he realizes they’re still holding hands. “I don’t mind it so much, anymore.”

“I mind,” Geno squeezes back.

Sid bites her lip and ducks her head. “Well, then,” she says, glancing over at him. “You’re just going to have to be extra nice to me to make up for it.”

“I always nicest,” Geno teases back.

“True,” Sid’s answering smile is small and private and Geno mostly sees it reflected in the window of the cab as she looks out the window at Vancouver buzzing by.

They’re silent, but Sid is still holding his hand, and not just out of inertia- he can feel her fingers idly twitching, just shy of tapping against his hand. She only lets go when then get to the restaurant, reaching for her wallet to pay for the cab. His hand feels cold and strange- he can’t help but flex it a few times as they get out.

They’re right on the water and the wind whips up again, flipping Sid’s ponytail into her face. Geno chuckles, but they’re both hurrying up to the door, his ears stinging.

The restaurant is just nice enough that Geno feels embarrassed to be there in his team tracksuit, but the hostess doesn’t bat an eyelash at them, just escorts them to where Flower, Sergei and Brooksie are sitting.

“Oh, so you finally decided to show up,” Brooksie greets them.

“Nice to see you, too,” Sid says, making a face at him.

“So, where were you both?” Sergei asks, so innocently that it sets Geno’s teeth on edge.

“We go ice dancing,” Geno says, and upon the series of raised eyebrows around the table he rolls his eyes and clarifies, “We go see ice dancing, not do.”

“Geno likes figure skating,” Sid says, wrinkling her nose at him.

“Sid nearly murder me because Canada second for one event,” Geno points out. “She much more fan.”

“As if,” Sid says, laughing. “But it ran long, so, sorry.”

“Thought maybe you were on a date with Toews,” Flower teases and Geno’s hand stops dead where he was reaching for his water glass.

“What?” Sid and Brooksie say in unison.

“Oh, yeah,” Flower says, taking a leisurely sip of his wine. “The two of them were like, all cozy at the party the other night.”

“Really?” Brooks says, slow and insinuating. Geno is carefully not looking at Sergei, who is staring at him intently. Instead, he’s watching Sid’s face color a little and feeling his stomach clench.

“You know I hate those ‘team bonding’ things,” Sid says. “Johnny is the only one who will actually just talk hockey with me.”

Johnny,” Brooksie croons as Flower laughs.

“Yeah, ‘talk hockey,’” Flower says, air quoting and everything.

“Oh my god, shut up,” Sid rolls her eyes. “It’s just captain stuff. He’s got his hands full. It’s normally weird to talk to anyone out of team about that kind of thing. He just wants someone to whine about Kane to.”

Geno believes that about as much as he believes in Santa Claus. He’s extremely aware of how Sergei is still staring at him, like he’s waiting for Geno to flip the table, so he makes himself take the glass and sip at it.

He doesn’t doubt that Sid thinks they were just talking hockey, but he knows- first hand- how irresistible Sid is when she opens up, when you’re the sole focus of all that intensity, and he can’t imagine that Jonathan Toews is immune to it.

“You’re such a loser, Flower,” Sid says, flicking a little ball of tablecloth lint at him. “Besides, seriously, Toews?” Her face scrunches up in a parody of baffled distaste.

They all laugh and Geno does too, the tension easing a little in the pit of his stomach.

Dinner is delicious and easy- it’s comfortable and soothing to be around his team again, even if it’s not all of them. It’s a nice break, although he knows the hardest part of the Olympics is yet to come. Odds are he’ll be playing against someone at this table soon, and he’s strangely relieved that it won’t be Sid. He’s done it before- and there was chirping and shit talking and everything was fine. But he thinks maybe Alex is right- their relationship is at some sort of weird redefining stage, pushed closer by the weird isolating bubble of the Olympics, and he doesn’t know why, but he feels like it’s important this time.

He’s quiet, mulling this over, fucking Toews in the back of his mind, too, and it must be enough to be noticeable, because Sid leans over as they’re waiting for the check.

“Everything ok?” she asks quietly.

I’m wondering if we’re becoming more than friends but you might want to date Jonathan Toews. Geno thinks, but he just shakes his head. “Long day. Much to think about,” is what he actually says.

“Okay,” she says, letting it go, but she presses her calf to his under the table, as if to say I’m right here, and Geno can’t help but smile.

There’s actually a cab ready when they get back out to the street, but all five of them are never going to fit in there.

“I mean, four could fit,” Flower says. “Hey, Sid, if you sit on uh, someone’s lap, we can all cram in.”

Geno has no illusions that it would be anyone but him- and in the moment before anyone says anything, he can perfectly imagine what would happen. Her ridiculously perfect ass in his lap, probably squirming around in the cramped space, either her hair in his face or her face in his face. He already has more than enough material to torture himself with- he doesn’t need this.

“We wait,” Geno says, just as Sid agrees, “Uh, no thanks.”

“Travel safe, you two,” Brooksie says, leaning out the window, waggling his eyebrows at them.

“Yeah, who wants to be crammed into a cab with four hockey players,” Sid says, laughing. “I’m pretty sure that’s a challenge on like, Japanese game shows.”

“Bye,” Flower yells as they drive away. “You’re already missing me!”

“Oh my god, tools,” Sid says, laughing harder.

Geno shakes his head. “Need new friends,” he sighs. They’re both staring down the street, looking for the telltale lights of a cab.

“They mean well,” Sid says loyally. “They just suck at it.”

Geno snorts. “Come on, maybe more cab down street.” And before he can over think it, he just reaches out for Sid’s hand.

Sid takes a second to realize, but she takes his hand with a little smile, letting him tow her along. It takes them a few minutes, but they finally manage to snag a cab by essentially waiting like vultures for people to exit the car.

“Mm, better- it was cold out there,” Sid says, nestling into her jacket. Geno runs his thumb over the back of her hand, and sure enough it’s cold.

“Need to wear glove,” Geno says, taking both her hands between his, bringing them up to his mouth to blow hot air over them.

“I wear gloves practically all the time, I don’t like to wear them off the ice,” Sid shrugs. “How are your hands always so warm?”

Geno chuckles. “Sid hands just cold, like feet.”

“That’s not my fault,” Sid says. “I wear socks!”

“Like ice,” Geno shakes his head. “Need more socks, slipper.”

“Okay, they’re not that cold,” Sid says, rolling her eyes. “Baby.”

“Frozen,” Geno counters, still gently rubbing her hands in his, feeling them slowly warm up.

The ride is short- they were just on the other side of the creek from the Village, anyway- Geno pays this time, which means her has to let go of her hands. They go through the standard security to get back in, but Sid stops when they’re roughly between his building and hers.

“Hey, I’m headed this way,” she says, gesturing behind herself. “What are you up to tomorrow?”

“Big practice, game on Sunday,” Geno says. “Some morning, some afternoon.”

Sid frowns, then shrugs. “Yeah, me too. Maybe I’ll see you there.” She bites her lip, hesitating for moment. “But dinner, here?”

Geno nods. “Tomorrow, yes.”

Sid takes a few steps away before turning around and grinning at Geno mischievously. “You’re already missing me,” she shouts, laughing.

Geno chuckles helpfully. “Yes, goodnight, Flower,” he calls back at her.

Sid’s giggles echo between the buildings as she walks away.


PART TWO.
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