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Flawed Reflections

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Sidney Crosby yawned and stretched as he got out of bed, heading out the door and down to the kitchen to start on breakfast.

Everything was going pretty well with him. His team had just made it to the second round of the playoffs, and they were winning a whole lot more than they were losing.

Sidney ate his breakfast, thinking of last night’s game. It had gone to overtime, but with a pass from Sid, Geno scored the game winner within the first 20 seconds. Sid was so proud of Geno, that whenever he thought of him, his heart felt as though it might burst.

Sidney was in front of the big mirror across from his bed—the one his interior designer had insisted would make the room look bigger (as if it needed it)—thinking about Geno’s goal as he got dressed; thinking about how happy Geno had looked when he realised the puck went in...how he’d hopped and run straight over to hug Sidney.

Sidney could’t help smiling at his own reflection. Geno had been so happy, that it was hard not to feel the same emotion when he remembered it. But as he reached up to run a hand through his hair, his smile faded a bit when he noticed a hairline crack in his mirror, running down a few centimetres on the left side near the light switch.

Normally, he wouldn’t think much of it, but as he continued to get dressed, it kept snagging his attention, until he almost couldn’t take his mind off of it. After all, if he didn’t take care of it now, who knows how big it would get later.

A quick glance at his watch told him he had enough time to call a repair service before practice, and a quick internet search brought up a service he was willing to try.

Sidney looked at his own face in the mirror as he listened to the classical music ringback tone.

“Hi, is this—? Ah, yes, ok. Yeah, I have a crack in my bedroom mirror...yes, it’s a full length mirror hung directly on the wall...it covers the whole–huh? ...oh, no-no, the mirror! It’s actually a very small crack...you can barely see it...”

Sidney ran his finger across the tiny crack as he examined it more closely. The crack was miniscule, but Sid could feel it, and it was enough to slightly distort the reflection of his face. For some reason, his distorted reflection made him feel a bit uneasy, so he turned away.

“No-no, it’s in the top left corner and it goes down the left s—yes, I s—....no, I don’t know what caused it, maybe the house settled or something...no, it’s almost barely noticeable, I’m just worried it’ll get bigger...Can you—yes, that would be great. Do you have some time tomorrow? ...9 AM? ...Perfect...yes! The address is 17871 Altura Vista. See you soon! Thank you very much. Goodbye.”

Sidney hung up and turned to leave the room when a reflection in the mirror caught his eye. He saw a pair of blue underwear at the foot of the bed, which was odd, because he distinctly thought that he had put all of his clothes in the hamper the night before.

He shook his head and turned around to pick them up, but when he turned to look, there was nothing on the floor.

Sid blinked down at the spot where he’d seen them reflected in the mirror. He looked back at the mirror. Now, there were no underwear reflected in the mirror either.

Sid shook his head and walked out of his bedroom. Maybe he was just tired. After all, They had recently come back from a long road trip full of difficult playoff games. Maybe Sid just needed a little extra sleep.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Sidney was a bit distracted as he tied his skates. He was trying not to let what had happened that morning in his bedroom mirror bother him too much, but for some reason, he was having trouble pushing it from his mind. He had to be imagining things...He shook his head and looked up, trying to ground himself by looking at some familiar surroundings.  

Phil and Geno were sitting next to each other, each doing little nitpicky things to bother the other—Geno put a piece of white stick tape in Phil’s beard, and Phil answered by pulling the piece of tape off, sticking it onto Geno’s forehead, and blocking all of Geno’s attempts to pull it off—which only resulted in the two of them play-wrestling a few times and laughing when one of them gave up. And Sidney didn’t miss how Flower used the distraction to steal a pair of blue underwear from Geno’s bag and stuff them into Geno’s helmet, smiling wickedly as he did it.

Sidney shook his head at his teammates. If Geno hadn’t instigated the tape thing, he might have suspected that Phil and Flower had set this up together...but, once he thought about it, it was clear that Flower was more than capable of thinking up this type of stuff on his own. In fact, he was the master.

Just last week he’d roped almost everyone on the team into coating the entire interior of Tanger’s house in hot pink post it notes...except for the bathroom. There, he put neon yellow ones. And the last post it note, which Flower himself had put on the toilet lid, had four words written on it in black sharpie: u mad, mon frère?

Tanger had, in fact, been a bit mad for a while (especially since even his wife was in on it), but Sidney had most certainly not helped Flower with that prank.

A few weeks before that, Flower had also allegedly filled one of their trainer’s cars completely with packing peanuts, though Sid, of course, had seen nothing and had to rely on rumours for that one.

Sid took a deep breath, happy to have something to occupy his mind with other than that stupid crack in his mirror. He thankfully looked up just as Geno tried to put his helmet on and found the underwear in there.

СукFlower!” Geno immediately turned to the goalie and gave him a look.

“What!?” Flower asked, looking surprised. He was also the master at feigning innocence.

Sid snorted at them and continued lacing up his skates. 

 

---_/.\_---

 

When they had all gotten suited up, they headed out onto the ice for practice. It felt so good to skate...of course, to Sidney, it always did. He never felt more free than when he had a pair of skates on his feet and a stick in his hand. 

While they were waiting for their turn during a goalie drill, Horny tapped Sid’s skate with his stick.

“How’s your morning, Sid?”

“Well...” Sid was tempted to just say ‘great’ like he always did and leave it at that, but for some reason, he found himself saying, “Kind of weird, actually.”

“Oh?” Horny raised his brows, sounding interested. “Weird, how?”

“Yeah...this morning, everything seemed pretty normal, but then—“

Sid couldn’t finish his thought before a cellying Hagelin crashed into Hornqvist, the momentum sending him skating backwards across the blue line.

As they went, Sid heard Horny laugh,

“It’s just a practice shot!!”

“Yeah, but I’m practicing everything!” Haggy answered loudly.

Sid had to laugh at them.

“What were you saying about having a weird morning, Sid?” Sheary asked, skating up a bit closer. 

“Oh,” Sid was honestly surprised he’d heard. “Well, it’s just...everything started out normal, and then when I went into my room—“

Suddenly, a rogue puck wizzed past Sheary’s face and he let out a startled, “OH! Whoa! What the fuck?!”

“Sorry!” came an answer from over near the goal.

Again, Sid failed to finish his thought, because after that, it was Sheary’s turn for the drill. 

Sidney’s turn for the drill came right after Sheary’s, and he found it quite nice to concentrate completely on the drill and nothing else. He skated deftly around the obstacles, keeping control of the puck, before coming to the front of the goal and deciding at the last second to try a backhand shot at an awkward angle.

He had to admit, he was a little smug that he was able to sneak it in under Flower’s glove hand, but he made a mental note to talk to him about that later if the coaches didn’t.

Geno finished the drill right after him, and gently and purposefully crashed into him as he got back in line.

“Hello, Sidney,” Geno said, smiling at him.

“Hey, G, how are you?”

Geno shrugged. “Normal. I want sleep,” he said, smiling with his tongue between his teeth. “And you?”

“Well...” Sidney hesitated, wondering if he should even try talking about his morning again.

“My morning was...a little strange.”

Geno gave him a quizzical look and nodded, encouraging him to continue with a quiet, “mhmm”.

“At first, everything seemed normal,” Sid began. “But then when I stepped in front of my mirror—“

“LOOK OUT!” someone yelled, and before Sidney knew what was happening, Geno had fallen over on top of Flower, who was laughing hysterically.

“I dove for it and then couldn’t stop!” Flower laughed, holding up a puck that was in his glove. “I’m sorry, G!”

“S’okay...” Geno said, looking more than a little shaken as Sidney helped him up.

Sidney decided against telling anyone else about his mirror for the rest of practice. He was always the first person to admit that he was really superstitious, and to him, each of these interruptions seemed to be perfect evidence supporting the theory that broken mirrors were bad luck. But Sid had to wonder, if no one had personally broken the mirror, was the bad luck simply spread out evenly among the people closest to the guy who owned the mirror? That was a scary thought...After a moment, he decided against thinking any further about it.

What’s worse was that Geno seemed to be as distracted as Sidney was ever since Flower had crashed into him. As they all got dressed to go home, he kept glancing at his silver watch, as if he was worried he’d be late for a meeting or something. Sidney hoped Geno wasn’t hurt.

 

---_/.\_---

 

After practice, Sid returned home and made some dinner, taking it to the table to eat it. He was distracted as he ate, thinking about what had happened that day.

He wasn’t sure why, but something just felt...off somehow...like, since he’d noticed that crack in his mirror, his entire life had somehow changed.

He knew it was absurd; after all, it was just a little crack. He wondered if it bothered him so much because of his superstitious nature...but when he thought about it, the broken mirror wasn’t the part that bothered him most about the situation. What bothered him the most was seeing the pair of underwear that wasn’t actually there.

As he ate his dinner, he sat and tried thinking of every possible explanation for it, however fantastical—Maybe it had been a trick of the light? Maybe he was just tired? Maybe he had imagined it? Maybe his mirror was haunted?—but every single one of those explanations somehow bothered him. He wondered if he should go see for himself what was wrong with his mirror, but he hesitated. He should really finish eating first...

After a while, Sid couldn’t stand it anymore. He put down his fork and scooted his chair back, leaving the table and walking up the stairs to his bedroom. 

As he walked into his room, he watched his reflection distort as it passed over the crack.

The crack looked like it had grown. Just a few more centimetres along the side of the mirror.

Sid looked into his distorted reflection, a look of bewilderment on his face. How could the crack have noticeably grown in such a short period of time? He sure hoped the foundation of his house hadn’t shifted so much. If so, he’d have to have a few strong words with the architect...

Sid frowned, examining the wall more closely. Aside from the crack, nothing seemed amiss. He could see in the reflection of his room that all of his things were where they were supposed to be. The only distorted thing was the reflection of his face.

Sid sighed and sat down on his bed. He wondered if he was reading too much into everything. He wondered if, maybe, he was just getting a bit carried away with his superstitions. He let his eyes wander over the reflection as he thought—when suddenly, he noticed a pair of pants on the floor, near the same spot where he’d seen the underwear that morning.

He blinked and stared at them, almost as if to check that yes, he did indeed see them in the mirror. He almost didn’t want to look down at his floor to check if they were on his side of the mirror, but he finally let his gaze fall to the floor.

There was nothing there.

He snapped his gaze back to the mirror and saw the pair of pants there, as clear as day; as if they were on the other side of a window, and the room he was staring into wasn’t a reflection of his room at all, but an exact copy that only differed by minute details.

Sidney blinked. He looked around the reflection of his room, noticing that there were more things in the refection that differed from his own room.

There was a silver watch on the nightstand.

A bottle of what looked like cologne on the dresser.

And that same pair of blue underwear, now lying on one side of the unmade bed.

Sidney rubbed his eyes and turned to look back at his own room.

There was nothing on his neatly-made bed. There was nothing on the dresser. There was nothing on the nightstand but his lamp and his alarm clock.

He took a deep breath before turning around and looking back into the mirror...

...And seeing everything just as it was in his room. Nothing was amiss. There was no watch, no cologne, and no pair of underwear.

Sid shook his head and sighed. He had to be imagining things. That was it. He was just superstitious and was letting the crack in the mirror get to him. After all, what other explanations were there?

Suddenly, Sid heard an eerily familiar laugh. It was almost playful, and he distinctly heard it, but the scary part was that it had sounded like it had come from the other side of the mirror.

There was nothing on the other side of his wall except for the outside of his house, and his room was on the second floor.

Sidney swallowed hard and left his room, deciding that tonight would be a good night to sleep on the couch.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Sidney didn’t quite feel like going upstairs after his...to put it mildly, “interesting” experience yesterday, but he knew he would eventually have to.

The mirror repairmen had promised they would come in a little over an hour.

Sidney decided that he had time to make breakfast before going upstairs, so he set to work scrambling some eggs.

His thoughts, as they always inevitably did, returned to hockey; specifically, to practice the previous day. They’d had a decent practice and everyone had gelled really well. Aside from his getting interrupted every time he tried to say something about the mirror, everything had actually gone fantastically.

Well, Geno had seemed a bit bothered after Flower had run into him. Sidney hoped he was feeling better today. After a few moments of mulling it over, he decided to send Geno a good morning text.

After breakfast, Sidney procrastinated going upstairs by reading the news and playing around a bit on his phone. He was just starting to worry a bit that Geno wouldn’t respond to his text when his phone buzzed and a notification popped up at the top.

Доброе утро))

Sidney smiled. Geno knew he couldn’t read it, but he’d sent it anyway. For some reason, that kind of thing only endeared Geno to him.

Sidney responded with a typed smiley face. When he looked up at the clock on the screen, though, his smile faded slightly. It was almost 9:00, and he knew he should really check on the mirror for himself before the repairmen showed up.

He walked up the stairs, hesitating as he reached the top. At the end of the hallway, the door to his room stood open.

Sid took a deep breath and walked down the hallway and into his room, deciding not to look at the mirror just yet. 

His room was just as he’d left it the night before. The bed was neatly made, there was nothing on the nightstand, and there was nothing on the dresser.

He took another breath before turning around and looking into the mirror.

The crack looked slightly bigger, but the room in the reflection was exactly like his. The bed was neatly made, there was nothing on the nightstand, and there was—

Sidney stopped short when he saw the little bottle of cologne on the dresser.

The one that wasn’t in his room, but was somehow in its reflection.

Sidney stared at the little bottle for a long time.

“Where the fuck did Henri get this mirror?” Sidney whispered to his reflection.

His reflection didn’t say anything. Not even what he had just whispered.

Startled, Sidney sucked in a breath and backed away from the mirror, watching in horror as his refection checked his face, smoothed down his own shirt, and walked away from the mirror.

Sidney stood there with his heart racing, staring at the place in the mirror where his reflection ought to be. He felt like he should do something—call for help, call an exorcist, or something—but he was completely frozen to the spot.

Nothing he could tell himself about superstitions and broken mirrors could explain what he had just seen...or what he didn’t see in the mirror before him.

If this was a prank, it sure as hell wasn’t funny, but he was sure that not even Flower could come up with something this elaborate.

He tightly shut his eyes. He had to still be asleep. He must still be dreaming. In a second, he would wake up, and—

Sid jumped when the doorbell suddenly rang.

His breath caught up to him and he blinked, trying to come back to reality...whatever that was anymore.

He realised that he was still standing there in his room, in front of the strangest mirror he’d ever owned in his life. He finally looked up to see his startled reflection staring back at him in the mirror, distorted by the crack that somehow seemed to have gotten even bigger within the past few minutes.

He waved his hand at his slightly distorted reflection, relieved when it made all the same movements he did. Although he was relieved, he couldn’t seem to make himself move until he heard the doorbell ring again.

Sid shook his head and rubbed his eyes, walking dazedly down the hall and down the stairs.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Sid took a moment to put on his press-face before he invited the three-man repair crew inside, sat through all of the awkward selfies they had to take, and signed a few autographs (addressing them to a few kids and a wife). Finally, he led them upstairs to the mirror in his bedroom.

Sid was sure it was a bit irrational of him, but he hung back and let the repair crew go first. 

The repair crew looked in awe at the full-length mirror on the wall, and each of them walked right up to it, seemingly admiring the craftsmanship. After they’d all taken a thorough look at it, one turned back to Sidney.

“This is a beautiful mirror, Mr. Crosby, but uh...where’s the crack exactly?”

Sid furrowed his brows and walked up to the mirror.

“It should be right—“ Sid blinked as he looked at the spot in the mirror where the crack had been this morning. “...Here...”

The crack was gone.

He shook his head and looked more closely. Even his fingerprints from where he’d felt the crack the day before were still there.

“I don’t understand,” Sidney said to himself. “It was right here.”

The repair crew exchanged glances and began examining the rest of the mirror as Sid stood there, even more confused and bewildered than he had been earlier.

If he was imagining this...if he was not only seeing such vivid visions, but also hearing things...he really should see a doctor about it, but...Sidney was sure, if he told a doctor what he was seeing, they would immediately think of all of his concussions and pull him out of the season; maybe even out of the NHL altogether. The very thought of that made his soul drop. He couldn’t leave right now. Not during the playoffs. Not while they were doing so well...

“Maybe it was a cobweb or something that just made it look like a crack...” he said quietly, almost to himself.

“That’s definitely a possibility,” one of the repairmen replied. “You’d actually be surprised how often that happens!”

The thought was nice, but it didn’t make Sidney feel any less awkward about calling them. He apologised profusely and asked the repairmen how much he owed them for their trouble, but they insisted that the autographs were more than worth the trip.

When they had left, Sidney sat down on his couch, wondering what to do. He slowly got up and headed upstairs to his bedroom. Was the crack actually there or wasn’t it? If the crack was actually there, why couldn’t he see it when the repairmen had been there? And if the crack wasn’t actually there, why had he seen it so vividly before? Or was it just another part of these crazy hallucinations he was having? 

And yet...Maybe he wasn’t crazy at all. When your friends are millionaires, you don’t know what kind of pranks they’ll think to pull on you. With that much money, the sky’s the limit. If one or six of them decided to mess with his head and put a giant flatscreen in his room behind a piece of glass, that would be a new one (but maybe only slightly more elaborate than the time when he had certainly not helped Flower with all those post-it notes). 

Sidney hesitated before walking back into his room. He almost didn’t want to look, but he had to know. He walked back into his room, but before he could look at the place where the crack should be, his phone buzzed (and given the choice between looking at his phone or his creepy mirror, he understandably chose his phone). It was a text from Geno.

Good morning))

Sidney smiled. That was probably just the translation of his earlier text. He opened his phone to respond, but as he looked at their text history, he didn’t see Geno’s earlier text. For that matter, he didn’t see the smiley face he thought he’d sent either.

Sidney rubbed his eyes and looked again.

Still no text from Geno in Russian. Maybe the Russian text had been part of a dream and he only thought he saw it? Honestly, that still wasn’t a comforting thought. Sidney frowned at his phone and took a breath, steeling himself before looking up at the mirror.

The crack was there, looking much longer than it had before.

As if on automatic, Sidney scanned the room that looked like his for discrepancies. He saw the pair of underwear on the unmade bed, the little bottle of cologne, and a black watch on the nightstand. He honestly almost expected to see it all there.

But the creepiest part of it all?

He didn’t see his own reflection in the mirror.

Chapter Text

Sidney backed away, staring at the empty space in the mirror in front of him as cold shivers ran up and down his spine. If his reflection wasn’t in the mirror, where was it?

He quickly turned away and shut his eyes.

“This isn’t real,” he said aloud, as if that would make it more true. “This can’t be real.”

He almost didn’t want to turn around, but when he had gathered the courage to, he saw his own frightened reflection staring back at him. He waved his hand, just to make sure it was really him there in the mirror. He was relieved when his reflection did everything he expected it to do.

He let out a breath. This was almost too much to take. He didn’t want to stay in his room. He needed to get out of the house. He needed to think. Maybe a run would help calm his nerves?

Sidney got some clothes out of his dresser and when he glanced up, he was almost surprised when he didn’t see the bottle of cologne there.

Sidney shook his head and firmly told himself that the little bottle wasn’t real. It was all in his imagination.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Sidney wasn’t sure why, but he didn’t mind running. He knew some of his teammates hated running, but Sidney usually found a quick few laps around the golf course near his house to be pretty relaxing. Running gave him time to gather his thoughts, and if there was anything he needed right now, it was to gather his thoughts.

He picked up a steady pace and enjoyed the fresh air, the trees, and the music playing through his headphones. He was able to get through the first lap without thinking about the mirror, but halfway through his second lap, his thoughts suddenly returned to it.

If he really was imagining the things happening in his mirror, why did he keep imagining a pair of blue underwear, a little bottle of cologne, and a silver watch? Why those three, oddly specific things? What did they all mean?

And, if he were imagining all of this...why would he imagine his own reflection leaving the mirror? Where would his reflection have gone?

Sidney realised he was accelerating a bit and slowed back down to his original pace.

He didn’t like this. How could it just be his imagination? He’d had a pretty wild imagination as a child, but no matter how hard he’d tried, he’d never been able to actually see the things he was imagining. And even if he were imagining things now, why could he only imagine them up in the reflection of his bedroom mirror?

It just didn’t make any sense.

Sidney suddenly wondered if there was any merit to his earlier thought about this whole thing being a prank. Flower had come up with some great ones over the years...But, the more Sidney thought about it, the more ridiculous the logistics of this particular one seemed. In order for the Penguin’s master prankster to have pulled this off, he would have had to find a time when Sidney wouldn’t be home long enough to 1) hire someone to cut out a space in his bedroom wall, and 2) install a giant flatscreen TV behind a two-way mirror; one with a camera that had enough memory to record different scenarios that could be played back at a later date—

Sidney frowned down at the gravel path.

Maybe it was possible (however improbable), but there was already one big problem with that theory: Flower was the kind of prankster that put dead mice in people’s shoes and hung his teammates’ clothing from the rafters. He was most decidedly NOT someone who installed giant trick mirrors in their bedrooms. Especially not ones that recorded them.

That brought Sid to another unsettling thought: his interior designer, Henri, had installed the mirror personally...what if he was the one pulling the prank?

Sidney shook his head. That wouldn’t make sense, either...his house had been complete for years already, and nothing like this had ever happened in his mirror before. Why would Henri choose to do something only now, after all this time?

Sidney sighed and, as he finished his second lap, he decided to turn back and head home. The run had helped a little bit; at least, he felt a lot more level-headed now. But he still had something he needed to try. Maybe it would be best to just go see for himself what was behind the mirror.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Sidney found himself starting to hesitate on the stairs up to his room, but he pushed through it and walked down the hall to his bedroom. If this mirror truly turned out to be a prank mirror, it would win the award in Sid’s book for most elaborate and creepy prank in team history. And Sid guessed that, if Flower hadn’t orchestrated it, he would probably be upset at missing out on such an award.

Sidney deliberately looked directly at the mirror as he walked in, thankful that his reflection was there and behaving like a reflection should behave. He flicked his gaze over the reflections of the bed, the nightstand, and the dresser. The bed was neatly made, and the surfaces on top of the nightstand and the dresser were bare.

Sidney stepped forward and reached out to touch the mirror. If it were a giant screen, it would probably be hot from working all the time...but he suddenly hesitated again, stepping back. He almost wasn’t sure if he wanted to know.

On the one hand, if there indeed was a giant flatscreen in his wall, and Flower hadn’t put it there, he should probably call the police to start an investigation as to who put it there and why. That would probably be a bit of a nightmare, but at least he would have some peace of mind, knowing he wasn’t going crazy.

On the other hand, if there was no screen behind his mirror...he would be right back at square one.

Sidney finally gathered the courage to step forward, and touched the mirror right in the centre. It was much colder than he’d expected, and gave no impression that it was anything but a mirror. Sidney frowned and knocked on the mirror a few times, listening for hollow sounds, but the sounds weren’t hollow at all, no matter where he knocked. He sighed let his arm drop to his side.

So he was back at square one.

At least now he was sure no one was playing voyeur on him through his bedroom mirror. That was at least a pretty comforting thought.

Sidney let out a breath and sat down on his bed, staring at his slightly distorted reflection. He suddenly noticed that the crack seemed smaller than it had before. Or was that just his imagination?

Sidney wasn’t sure he knew the meaning of the word anymore.

 

---_/.\_---

 

For the rest of the day, Sidney actively avoided looking at his mirror.

He stayed downstairs all day, doing various things to distract himself from thinking about the mirror. After dinner, Sidney decided to watch some tape, since that was always a good distraction. Before he knew it, he had watched four hours of it and was starting to get pretty drowsy. He turned off the TV and just sat on the couch for a moment, debating whether he should just stay there, or get up and go to bed...risking not seeing himself in his mirror again...

Sidney frowned. He hated this. He hated feeling so uncomfortable in his own house. He stubbornly stood up, deciding that he wasn’t going to let any amount of stress or superstition push him around like this!

Even so, he again found himself hesitating at the door to his bedroom. He was tired. The last thing he wanted to do at that moment was to look in that mirror. He finally decided against turning on the light and walked inside. If he couldn’t see the weird shit reflected there, it was as good as it not being there, right?

He cursed as he suddenly stubbed his toe on the foot of the bed.

He really didn't want to, but...he was going to have to get used to this.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Sidney was aware he was dreaming the moment he lifted the cup and it felt completely weightless...but that couldn’t stop the wave of happiness he felt as he skated around the rink with it, cheering and kissing it...

The rink was dark and he couldn’t see the crowd...he didn’t know which arena they were in or who they’d won against. There was only a spotlight on him as he skated around, cheering and holding the cup high...then he saw a beam of light fall onto his teammates. He was happy as he looked at all of their smiling faces...and he suddenly knew exactly who he wanted to hand the cup to.

He skated up to Geno, beaming as he handed it to him. Geno took it and cheered, too; then skated into the spotlight, kissing it...

Sid watched him skate off, feeling so happy he could cry...so...happy...

He turned slightly when he heard a strange noise...almost like the roar of the crowd was coming in waves...growing louder and louder, then quickly becoming soft as a whisper...loud again...then soft...

 

Loud...soft...

 

Sidney blinked blearily at his pillow as he slowly became aware of his surroundings...the first streams of morning light tricking in from behind his curtains, and...

What was that sound?

It sounded like...snoring? But Sidney was awake now, and he was the only one in his room...

Sidney whipped around and looked down at the bed next to him.

To his relief, there was no one there.

He turned back around and tried to go back to sleep, but the snores continued, and the more he listened, the more they sounded like they were coming from...

Sidney almost groaned. He most certainly did not want to look at the mirror. He had a game today. He just wanted to have a normal morning. He didn’t want to know how big the crack had gotten, or what new oddities the mirror would show him today. He especially didn’t want to find out from a stupid creepy mirror that he snored.

Sidney buried his head into his pillow, but the soft snores continued. Whoever it was sounded like they were resting well (unlike poor Sidney)...

Suddenly, the snoring stopped and there was a soft groan, followed by a quiet, breathy laugh and a sigh.

At first, Sidney was relieved that the noise had stopped, but then...he started to wonder...What (or who) had made the snoring stop? And who had laughed? Finally, curiosity got the best of him and he decided to take one little peek.

What Sidney saw when he turned around was not scary at all...but it still made him freeze in shock.

His reflection was propped up on an elbow, looking fondly down at someone in bed next to him; lovingly stroking their dark, curly hair. The person in bed with Sidney’s reflection had their back to him and the blanket was pulled all the way up to their ears, so Sidney couldn’t tell who it was, but...they sure looked tall...

Sidney stared with wide eyes, unable to make himself move. Who was that person? And what were they doing sleeping in Sidney’s...reflection’s bed?

And why was Sidney’s reflection...smiling at them like that? Like...they meant the world to him?

Sidney suddenly felt his face and ears start to burn as an involuntary wave of searing jealousy washed over him. He shut his eyes, turning away from the mirror. 

“No, this isn’t real,” he said. “It is NOT real...”

Sidney took a breath, gathering the courage to look back at the mirror. When he did, he was almost startled to see his own reflection staring back at him. There was no one next to him in the reflection, so he was pretty sure it was really him, but...just to be safe, he waved at his reflection. He was pretty relieved when it waved too.

Sidney let his head drop back down to his pillow and shut his eyes again. He was so tired of this. He missed having a mirror that didn’t feel like it belonged in an episode of the X-Files. He got up and gathered some clothes from the dresser, hesitating before deciding he would be more comfortable getting dressed downstairs.

He trudged down the stairs, feeling more than a little unsettled. Something really bothered him about what the mirror had just shown him. Or, more accurately, something really bothered him about his reaction to what the mirror had just shown him. How could he feel jealous of something that wasn’t there? It wasn’t real! But his reflection’s smile had been so warm...so sincere...

He shook the thoughts out of his head. He wasn’t going to let this get to him. He couldn’t. He needed to focus. His team was in the playoffs.

They had a game to win. They had a cup to win.

Still...in the back of his mind, he couldn’t help but wonder...

Who could possibly have made his reflection smile like that?

 

---_/.\_---

 

As he drove to the arena that evening, Sidney tried not to think about what had happened in the mirror that morning. He put on some of his favourite music and tried to lose himself in it. 

It was difficult to concentrate, but as he fell into the familiarity of his pregame routine, it was easier to quiet down the thoughts. Taping his sticks was especially comforting, and his peanut butter and jelly sandwich seemed extra delicious that day. He was starting to feel much more relaxed and grounded as he and the others played two-touch, and when he and Geno made eye-contact during their handshake, everything seemed to click into place. Sidney caught a small smile at the corner of Geno’s mouth, and he smiled back as he turned to walk out. Then Geno slapped his ass, just as usual, and after that, Sidney knew it was going to be an excellent game.

And it was excellent! The team was playing coherently, communicating, and making some fantastic plays. Even coach Sully looked impressed. Sidney was enjoying the game so much, he honestly forgot about his mirror altogether.

He jumped out onto the ice during a change in the third period and, after a few moments, he saw a great opportunity and passed the puck to Geno. Geno immediately knew what to do and slapped the puck past an unsuspecting defenseman and into the back of the net, further ensuring their inevitable win.

Sidney held up both hands and cheered, skating over to congratulate Geno with a big smile on his face. As Geno crashed into him and hugged him tightly, he was smiling too.

The Penguins won that night 5-1.

The locker room was buzzing with excitement over the win. Geno gave Sheary the win helmet, and the players were happy to answer some positive media questions. Sidney was so happy that he’d already forgotten about what had happened that morning. It was just him and the boys, and they only needed three more wins to make it to the finals.

Seven more wins, and they’d be lifting the cup.

Sid knew they could do it.

After Sidney had given his interview, he sat down and started to pack his things up. He was feeling happy and relaxed, still buzzing a bit from the win.

After his own interview, Geno walked over to Sidney and sat down next to him.

“Sid, Hey,” Geno said, playfully punching him in the knee. “Why you never reply my text?”

Sidney looked confused. “Your...sorry, which text?”

Geno laughed softly at him. “Yesterday, you not respond me when I’m write you good morning!”

“Oh! Uh...”

Suddenly, everything came flooding back—the things in the mirror, his missing reflection—and Sidney remembered exactly why he hadn’t responded to Geno’s text. He swallowed. He didn’t know what to say. He trusted Geno enough to want to tell him, but he wondered if he’d even be able to say it, given his experience the other day at practice. He figured he should at least give it a try...

“I’m sorry, Geno, uh...Something...kind of strange happened—”

“Hey, G, cool watch!” Flower said, patting Geno on the back and pointing to his wrist as he walked by.

Sidney blinked up at Flower as Geno smiled and looked down at his wrist.

“Yeah, thank you!” Geno called after Flower. “So cool!” 

Geno turned to show Sidney.

“New. I’m just buy. You like?”

Sidney looked down at the watch, confused. It looked really familiar. He honestly thought Geno had already shown it to him...but when? He couldn’t remember...

“You...didn’t show me before?”

Geno blinked at him.

“Uh, when did you buy it?” Sidney tried.

“I’m...buy yesterday morning,” he said slowly, his eyes searching Sidney’s. “My...silver watch break.”

“Oh, that’s right, you had a silver one before,” Sidney said. “Sorry, I...probably just got confused. It’s been a long couple of days.”

Geno looked pensively down at his hands for a moment before shrugging.

“S’okay...you say something strange happen? Distract you, maybe?”

“Yeah...” Sidney said, nodding. He wondered if he should keep going or if he should stop. But...he desperately wanted to tell someone...

“I...I saw your text yesterday, Geno, it-it’s just that...Well, when I walked in front of my mirror—“

“Sid! Берегись!

Before he knew what was happening, Geno’s hands were on his shoulders and he was being pulled away from his stall...he didn’t even have enough time to ask what was going on before his helmet hit him in the back. Geno had seen it start to fall and, if he hadn’t pulled Sid away, it would have hit Sid square on the head.

Sidney turned around to look at his helmet, sitting innocently on the floor. He was so startled, he was shaking. Geno patted Sidney on the shoulder and then left his hand there. Sid was thankful. It was very comforting.

“Sid, you ok?”

“Yeah! I’m...I’m fine,” Sidney said, rubbing his back where the helmet had hit him. He was glad that it wasn’t a heavier helmet.

“Jeez, uh...that was weird, eh?”

Geno nodded. “Weird.”

Sidney looked down. If he didn’t believe that talking about the mirror was bad luck before, he sure as hell believed it now.

“Uh, Geno? Thanks.”

“S’okay,” Geno said quietly, looking distracted. After a moment, Geno glanced at Sidney like wanted to say something, but he hesitated, then just patted him on the shoulder again.

“Well, uh...see you?” he said softly, giving Sid a small smile as he walked away. “And careful with gear, ok?”

“O-okay...” Sidney said, looking confused. “Uh...See you, G.”

That would make five times he’d been interrupted before talking to someone about the mirror, and now, even Geno seemed to understand not to press him about it. Sidney picked his helmet up and looked at it before putting it back on its shelf, making sure it was secure. This had to be more than just a string of coincidences.

Sidney had to figure out what was happening before it drove him insane.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Sidney was more than a bit distracted as he drove home. Now, not even his favourite music was enough to drown out his thoughts about the mirror. He even found himself turning it off and driving home in silence, because everything seemed too loud.

He desperately wanted to talk to someone about it, ask them what could be going on with him...but now he realised that he couldn’t risk talking to anyone about it without the possibility of someone getting injured. That was a frightening thought.

He was trying to think of pleasant things—his favourite food, his parents’ house in Nova Scotia, his mother’s cooking, his sister’s laugh—but for some reason, he could not get the image from that morning out of his mind...the image of his reflection stroking that person’s hair...looking like he was happier than he’d ever known he could be...

Sidney shook his head. He had to admit, it was a pleasant thought, having someone to come home to...loving someone so much that, from the outside looking in, it would show that strongly on his face...but he didn’t have what his reflection had! And the last thing he needed right now was a case of phantom jealousy! How was it even possible to be jealous of your own reflection?!

This was almost too much for Sidney to wrap his mind around. Just what the hell was going on with him?! There had to be a logical explanation for all of this, something more than just stress and superstitions. Something had to be wrong. He didn't know what this had to do with the coincidences, but as for the visions...maybe there was a gas leak in his house? Sidney frowned. Wouldn’t he have smelt the gas first? And even if he didn’t smell it, he had carbon monoxide detectors in almost every room, and he checked them regularly. If the gas levels in his house were high enough to make him actively hallucinate, one of them had to have gone off by now! Unless... 

Unless someone had removed all the batteries.

Sidney rolled his eyes and shook his head. Now he was just being plain paranoid. Nobody would come into his house just to take the batteries out of his carbon monoxide detectors and leave everything else untouched. It just didn’t make any sense!

...Not that his life made any sense at the moment, either.

He pulled up to his house and parked in the garage, wondering if he should check the carbon monoxide detector in his room anyway...just to be safe...

But Sidney found himself stopping halfway up the stairs to his bedroom. For some reason, he didn’t quite feel like going into his room just yet. He turned around, deciding to eat a little something before going upstairs. He made himself a sandwich in the kitchen and sat down at the table in the dining room to eat it. 

He took the time to smile at a few pictures Taylor had sent him of her dog, and he read what everyone had sent to the group chat. It was wonderful to feel distracted, but the mirror was always there, in the back of his mind.

Sidney hesitated for a moment before finally opening his internet browser and typing “Signs and Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning” into the search bar.

The first result that popped up was from Mayoclinic.org, and it seemed legitimate, so Sidney followed the link.

He read through each of the sections carefully, but none of the signs or symptoms seemed to apply to him. Visual and auditory hallucinations were not listed as a symptom for carbon monoxide poisoning, and Sidney did not have bright red skin, a dull headache, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting. Sighing, he closed the page.

Okay, maybe it wouldn’t help to check the carbon monoxide detector in his room.

After he'd eaten, Sidney slowly climbed the stairs up to his bedroom. Tonight, he entered his room facing away from the mirror. The room was just as he had left it that morning. The bed was neatly made. There was nothing on the dresser or nightstand. It was pretty comforting to see all of his things where they should be.

Sidney closed his eyes and took a deep breath before turning around to face the mirror...

The first thing he saw was his own reflection. It was a little distorted by the crack, but to his relief, it moved in synchrony with him.

For whatever reason, that relief didn’t stop him from jumping when his phone buzzed in his pocket. He gave a frustrated sigh and pulled out his phone.

He found himself immediately smiling at the screen. Geno had sent him some silly little meme and the cry-laughing emoji three times. Sidney laughed when he read the meme, then sat down on his bed and replied to Geno's text.

Haha that's funny :)

Geno responded immediately.

I'm know)))

Suddenly another text from Geno popped up.

I hope everything ok with you)

Sidney smiled sadly. It was a shame he couldn’t talk to Geno about the mirror. He always gave good advice, and he alway somehow knew what to say. Geno always knew how to cheer him up, or relieve his stress...just by being him.

Thanks, Geno...

He almost gave in and texted Geno about the mirror, but, halfway through his first sentence, Sidney deleted it all. He typed out—

Everything’s fine.

—and hit send.

Sidney sighed. He hated lying, especially to Geno. He suddenly wanted to call him and apologise. He wanted to hear Geno’s voice. He wanted to hear him say that everything was going to be ok. He let his gaze wander around the room’s reflection, debating whether or not he should call Geno. He didn’t want to call bad luck on either of them, but he just...he just wished he could have someone to assure him that...

That he wasn’t going crazy.

Sidney wasn’t even surprised when saw that same little bottle of cologne right where he knew it would be on the dresser’s reflection. He glanced over at the reflection of the nightstand, just knowing he would see the black—

Sidney did a double-take. He squinted at the black watch on the nightstand and stood up, stepping closer to the mirror in an attempt to get a better look at it. He didn’t understand. Hadn’t it been silver before?

Suddenly, his eyes grew wide. He’d seen that black watch before. Today.

That was Geno’s new watch.

Chapter Text

Sidney stood there in absolute shock. He couldn’t make himself move. What was Geno’s watch doing in the reflection of his bedroom mirror?!

Suddenly, Sidney heard a voice he was not expecting to hear.

“Sidney? Зайчик? Everything ok?”

Sidney’s eyes grew wide, and his heart began pounding. He watched, frozen to the spot, as his reflection—of his own volition—turned his head towards the bathroom. In the reflection, the bathroom light was on.

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” Sidney’s reflection called back with a soft smile. “I was just...thinking.”

Sidney’s heart nearly stopped when the bathroom door opened, and Geno stepped out. Sidney reflexively glanced over his shoulder at his own bathroom door. Of course, the light was off and the door was closed, and Geno wasn’t really in his room...and yet...

Sidney looked back at the mirror, watching as Geno’s reflection crossed the room and put a hand on Sidney’s reflection’s shoulder. Sidney was in such shock he felt dizzy, but he couldn’t tear his gaze away from the mirror.

“What you think about, Sid?” Geno’s reflection asked softly.

Sidney’s reflection looked down, scratching his shoulder.

“I don’t know, I’m just...I’m...Geno, we only have seven games—...we only have to win seven more times, and we’ll be lifting the cup! But...if we don’t get our defence in line, we could end up paying for it!” Sidney’s reflection ran a hand through his hair. “I was thinking, I mean...we need to have more—“

“Sidney, Sidney, shhh....”

Geno’s reflection moved forward slightly and hugged Sidney’s reflection from behind. Sidney’s reflection let out a breath. Geno’s voice was low and soothing.

“Sidney, stop work so hard! Yes, work hard, like...so good, ok? Yes. But...you need relax, too, so you can...ready for next game! I’m already tell you in car; three times I’m tell you: you right about defence! I’m agree! N-but, like, right now? You need relax. Okay?”

Sidney’s reflection looked like he wanted to say something more, but he nodded and took a breath.

“What you always say me? ‘One game at time’?”

Geno’s reflection looked at Sidney’s reflection, a warmth in his eyes that made Sidney’s stomach flutter. Sidney’s reflection smiled back and nodded.

“One game at a time.”

“One game at a time...” Geno’s reflection nodded and repeated it reverently, like it was the secret to all of life’s mysteries.

“We...make it, Sid. I know. We best. Why? We best because...we work so hard. Today, we r-already work really hard; win game. Tomorrow, we work hard more. But...right now, we need sleep, so we ready for work hard tomorrow, ok?”

Sidney’s reflection smiled that same warm smile Sidney had seen that morning, and turned around, properly hugging Geno’s reflection.

Another searing wave of jealousy crashed over Sidney then, like the one he’d felt that morning, but he still couldn’t tear his gaze from the mirror.

“...How do you always know what to say?” His reflection said quietly.

Geno’s reflection smiled softly, bringing a hand up and gently playing with the curls at the back of Sidney’s reflection’s neck. Sidney watched, aching to feel that touch.

“You know, Sid. I’m know you need...care for youself more. And I’m...always right. Always.”

Geno’s reflection pulled back so he could give Sidney’s reflection a big smile with his tongue between his teeth.

“...Oh, yeah, real modest, eh?” Sidney’s reflection laughed, punching Geno’s reflection playfully in the chest. “C’mon, I still need to brush my teeth.”

Geno’s reflection nodded, and they walked shoulder to shoulder towards the bathroom, laughing. When they shut the door, the light disappeared.

If the light had disappeared...Sidney’s gaze suddenly flicked to where the watch should be on the nightstand, but it wasn’t there. He looked for the bottle of cologne, but it was gone, too. The pair of blue underwear was nowhere to be found either. All of the evidence that Geno had been there...gone.

Sidney’s knees suddenly gave out and he crumpled to the floor. He almost couldn’t think. He could barely breathe. He felt like he had just played a double shift and then taken a dirty hit into the boards.

Now that he thought about it, he realised that all of this had to do with Geno. Since the very beginning. Sid had regularly seen that same little bottle of cologne in Geno’s bag. He’d noticed Geno glancing at his silver watch a lot the day it broke. That blue pair of underwear that Flower had stuffed into Geno’s helmet the other day was the same pair he’d seen in the reflection of his room. How could he have missed all that before? And now, he had been thinking about how much he wanted to hear Geno’s voice, and when he stood in front of his crazy mirror? Poof. He did.

This definitely wasn’t a gas leak, and it sure as hell wasn’t a prank. This was something else entirely. And now that Sid had this new piece to the puzzle, everything had changed. Again.

This was more than an overactive imagination fuelled by superstitions and stress. This was about a hole in his life that he had tried repeatedly to fill with hockey, hockey, hockey.

And, more importantly, this was about how he felt about Geno.

 

---_/.\_---

 

When Sidney woke up the next morning, he was a bit reluctant to look at the mirror, but when he did, all he saw was his own distorted reflection, looking back at him. The crack looked longer than it ever had, but he did not see the black watch in the room’s reflection, nor did he see the little bottle of cologne. There was no sign of the blue pair of underwear. His room felt almost...empty without them. But the part that tugged on his heartstrings the most?

Geno’s reflection wasn’t there either.

Sidney shook his head and rubbed his eyes. He did not miss those little trifles. He didn’t. But Geno? ...He really wished Geno’s reflection was next to his.

But why did he want that? It didn’t make any sense. Well...Maybe he wanted to see that warm smile on his own face again. Maybe...

Maybe he really wanted the life he saw in his mirror.

Sidney sighed. He couldn’t think about this right now. He had practice today, and he was going to go, no matter how he was feeling. He got out of bed and headed down the stairs, knowing full well he was going to have to leave all of his mirror problems off the ice. He supposed that would be easy enough to do, even knowing what he knew now. Because...Sid knew what to do when he had a stick in his hands and skates on his feet. To some degree, hockey was the only thing that had ever made any real sense to him. And now that his life made no sense whatsoever, he knew hockey would help him hang on. It always had before.

Still, it was difficult not to think about everything as he tied his skates before practice. He let his gaze wander around the room, when suddenly something blue caught his attention: he noticed Geno’s blue underwear poking out of his open bag, and the little bottle of cologne was sitting on top of them. He was almost happy to see them there. To know they were real.

Sidney frowned down at his skate. Maybe it was time to face the facts. He had taken a lot of hits in his life...Maybe he was developing some sort of psychological problem that was causing him to see and hear things. And maybe, since he had such strong emotions about Geno, his mind had taken memories of items he associated with Geno and superimposed them onto his bedroom mirror...but for what? So he would feel better? Had his mind realised something was going wrong and started desperately grasping for straws? And why was he specifically seeing those things in the reflection of his mirror and not in his actual room? If he wanted to connect with Geno that badly—

“Oh, God! Sid, what is that?” Someone suddenly yelled, pulling Sidney from his thoughts.

Sidney looked up to see where his teammates were all pointing, and then looked down at his hockey pants. At first glance, it might have looked like a real spider, but in Sidney’s present state of mind, he wasn't sure what was real or not anyway, so he figured a spider would have been the least of his problems. He didn’t flinch or jump or scream. He simply stared at it for a second, blinking, and after noticing that it was made of plastic, he laughed half-heartedly and just left it there. He looked up at Marc André.

“That’s...that’s pretty funny, Flower,” Sidney said blandly, a polite smile on his face, then went back to tying his other skate.

Flower blinked at him, his mouth slightly open. The team exchanged glances and stole looks at their captain, but Sidney didn’t seem to notice any of it. He wasn’t even participating in the locker room banter like he usually did...He usually listened intently and put in his two cents here and there, but not today. Flower was honestly at a loss for words. He was sure the spider thing would have gotten him good on any other occasion...A few people were now whispering about Sidney being fearless, but Flower wasn’t whispering with them at all. In fact, he looked a little concerned.

Sidney wasn’t usually this caught up in his own head.

Sidney even seemed extra focused during the drills that day, and had no time for any fooling around. After a while, the rest of the team had noticed and were being a bit cautious around him, except for Geno, who seemed to be staying closer to him than he usually did. There were whispers among some of the team members about Sid being in one of his ultra-hard-working moods that day, and their speculations seemed to be confirmed when Sidney stayed on the ice after practice and didn’t appear in the locker room, even after 30 minutes.

Flower frowned as he finished tying his shoes and got up from his stall. He walked out to the bench, watching Sidney for a moment as he gathered up pucks from the back of the net and sent them down the ice.

“Working extra hard today, eh, Sid?” Flower called out to him.

Sidney skated up to one of the pucks and slapped it into the back of the net. Then, he skated over to where Flower was standing at the bench.

“Can you hand me my water?” Sid asked, pushing his helmet back and wiping some sweat from his brow.

Flower frowned again and picked up Sidney’s water bottle. Sidney reached for it, but Flower kept it out of his reach, looking at him matter-of-factly.

“Sidney...are you ok?”

Sidney stared at Flower for a second before reaching for his water bottle and smiling a half-smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

“Oh, come on, Marc, if this is about the...the spider thing...” He looked out at the rink and shook his head before looking back at Flower. “Look, I’ll scream next time, if that’ll make you happy, just...give me my water bottle!”

Flower shook his head and handed the bottle to Sidney.

“This isn’t about the fucking spider and I think you know that.”

Sidney looked at Flower for a while, twisting the cap on his bottle to make sure it was secure (because...that’s what you do when Flower hands you your water).

Flower looked at Sidney expectantly. “Sidney, are you okay?” he asked again.

Sidney was quiet for a while. Then, he took a long drink from his bottle and said, “I don’t know, Flower. I don’t know.”

With that, Sidney skated over to his pile of scattered pucks and slapped two of them towards the goal. The first went in and the second hit the pole, the loud TINK sound echoing through the empty practice arena.

“What’s going on with you, Sidney?” Flower called to him. “What’s wrong?”

Sidney skated around for a second, then sent a wrister careening into the back of the net before skating back over to the bench with his head down.

“...You can tell me anything,” Flower offered.

“I...” Sidney trailed off and laughed bitterly. “I actually can’t tell you, bud. I’m sorry.”

Flower looked concerned. “Is this..is this about the...strange thing that happened to you the other day?”

Sidney looked around as if he expected a piece of the building to fall on them or something, looking relieved when nothing happened. He sighed, then looked up at Flower with pained eyes.

Flower had only seen that expression on Sidney’s face once before: when he’d messed with Sidney’s pregame routine during Sid’s rookie year. They’d lost the game after that, and Flower had never touched Sidney’s pregame routine ever again.

“Ah...Superstition?” Flower said quietly.

Sidney nodded slowly, toe-dragging a stray puck towards himself and wristing it into the back of the net from across the ice. He almost looked surprised when it went in.

Flower just nodded again.

“I get it. Let me know if, ah...if you need anything. K?”

Sidney was quiet for so long after that—looking down at the ice and scraping some of the snow together with his skates—that Flower nodded again and turned to leave.

“...thanks, Flower.”

Flower looked over his shoulder, watching his friend skate back to his pile of pucks at the blue line, shooting one into the net.

De rien,” he whispered.

As he walked back towards the locker rooms, he saw that Geno had been watching them from the door, but he turned to leave when he realised that Flower had seen him. Flower ran to catch up with him.

“Geno!” he called out.

Sidney didn’t notice them talking and watching him as he wristed another few pucks into the back of the net.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Sidney had almost gone straight up the stairs after coming home from practice, but something had stopped him. He wasn’t sure why, but he hadn’t wanted to look at the mirror just yet, so he’d gone into the kitchen. He had looked around a bit before deciding that he really wasn’t all that hungry, so he’d gone downstairs and shot pucks until his fingers hurt. Then he had climbed back up to the hallway and stood there, looking between the stairs, the kitchen, and the living room. What was he supposed to do now? Normally, he would probably have done his laundry and maybe read a book, but then, he just stood there in his hallway, feeling a bit lost.

Finally, he chose to walk into his living room and sat down on the couch, staring at the coffee table. He felt like he was floating around with no real tether to reality, and that was an honestly terrifying feeling.

Finally, he picked up his phone, unlocking it and opening his internet browser. He typed “Schizophrenia” into his search bar, slightly frustrated that it took him three tries to spell it right. He followed a link to the Mental Health America website and started to read.

Sidney became deeply concerned as he read through the signs and symptoms—visual and auditory hallucinations? Check. A feeling of being detached from reality? Double check—but the more he read, the less it seemed to resemble his situation. True, he had thought someone was spying on him before, but he didn’t feel that way all the time. Head injuries weren’t listed as a risk factor, and he didn’t feel unorganised or unable to stick to routine. He’d had no trouble with his routine before last game, and he'd had no problems focusing at practice. And none of what he read on the website explained why he was only seeing and hearing things in his bedroom mirror. If he were truly schizophrenic, he would probably be seeing and hearing things everywhere, and not just there...unless he was hallucinating his entire life. One of the symptoms was delusions of grandeur.

Sidney sighed and put down his phone, rubbing his temples. He did not need to be thinking like that. He knew who he was, and he’d worked hard to get where he was. He knew what was real. His mirror just seemed to have a different idea of what reality was. Sidney suddenly stood up, walking up the stairs and down the hall towards his bedroom.

When he walked inside, he looked up at the crack in his mirror. It was much longer than it had been the first day he’d noticed it. It even had a new branch that reached out towards the centre of the mirror, distorting his reflection even more. Sidney blinked and waved at his reflection. It responded in kind, simultaneously.

Sidney searched the reflection of his room for Geno’s things, but they weren’t there. The bed was made, and the surfaces on the dresser and the nightstand were bare. His mirror handn’t shown him Geno’s things in quite a while, not since he’d seen Geno’s reflection in it the night before.

Sidney sat down on his bed. He stared at the mirror for a long time, expecting Geno’s things to appear eventually, but they just...didn’t. After a while, Sidney let his gaze drop. Maybe this was it. Maybe it was all over. Maybe he would stop seeing things in his mirror now. He almost let himself think...that he'd miss it.

“This is stupid,” he whispered to himself, and got off of his bed, walking down the stairs and into the kitchen to eat something.

He wasn’t going to let...whatever this was...stop him from living his life. He was going to hold on with everything he had.

---_/.\_---

The game that night had been rough. Washington had done their homework, and come back with counters to most of the Penguin’s tactics. Sidney and the others had worked frantically on the bench and on the ice to throw a little bit of unpredictability into their game, but in the end, it just wasn’t enough. At least they only lost by one point in overtime. Sidney was proud of his team. They’d put up a good fight.

Nevertheless, Sidney was a bit frustrated with his own performance that night, since he hadn’t scored any points, and on top of that, Ovechkin had been just a tad too annoying for his tastes. He decided against having a big dinner and just ate a sandwich before trudging up the stairs toward his bedroom.

He yawned as he walked into his room. He didn’t look at the mirror, so he didn’t notice how, in the reflection, the little bottle of cologne stood on the dresser and the black watch lay on the nightstand. He took off his pants and tossed them (maybe a bit too hard) into the hamper in his closet. He had taken off his shirt and was pulling off his socks when he heard a sound that made him freeze.

Fuck me.”

Sidney whipped around, gasping softly when he saw his reflection trying to unbutton his shirt in the mirror. Geno’s reflection was standing next to him, unbuttoning his own shirt.

“Sidney...”

“No, it’s just—it’s fucking ridiculous!” Sidney’s reflection looked pretty worked up, which was probably why he seemed to be having trouble with his buttons.

“Look, I respect their defence, ok?” Sidney’s reflection continued. “They’ve improved a lot in that area, but...fuck, what was Ovechkin’s problem tonight!? He was practically trying to murder Flower! And no matter what I did—“

“Sidney, I’m know you upset, but...we already talk about this in car. You have to stop think so much, you know? You just...put yourself in stress,” Geno’s reflection gently put his hands over Sidney’s reflection’s hands, taking over unbuttoning his shirt for him. Sidney’s reflection looked like he was about to protest, but Geno’s reflection continued talking.

“Is, like...it’s just one game, and I’m know we can do better next game. We already talk to team. We all know what we have do. It’s...not over, okay, Sidney? We...not done!”

“I...I know we’re not, I just...I really...and I didn’t even play my best tonigh—“

Sidney, you play well tonight! Yes, okay, maybe you not score, but you...really well support our team. Now, you need rest. Need...prepare youself for next game. We need...focus captain,” Geno’s reflection said, smiling at Sidney’s reflection and patting his chest when he was done unbuttoning his shirt.

“I am focused!” Sidney’s reflection seemed to bristle at that.

“Okay, Sidney, but you maybe...too much focus right now. You need relax—“

“I am rela—“

Sidney’s reflection stopped short when Geno’s reflection pulled him into a hug. Geno’s reflection held him for a moment, shaking his head.

“No, you not.”

Sidney watched his reflection hesitate before finally allowing himself to sink into the hug. When he allowed himself to completely relax, the tension slowly drained from his face, and he sighed into Geno’s reflection’s shoulder.

“You’re...you’re right.”

“Course I’m right. What I’m say? I’m always right!”

Sidney’s reflection gave Geno’s reflection a look and softly punched him in the shoulder, but he couldn’t hide the little smile playing at the corner of his lips. Geno’s reflection dramatically feigned pain at being punched before he couldn’t hold in his laughter anymore. Sidney’s reflection did his best to give Geno’s reflection a scornful look, but he couldn’t stop himself from smiling, and after watching Geno laugh for a moment, he couldn’t contain his own laughter either.

The two of them stood there for a while, laughing, until Geno’s reflection let his laughter fade, getting lost in Sidney’s reflection’s eyes. Sidney’s reflection let his laughter fade too, staring back at Geno’s reflection. Geno’s reflection smiled softly, bringing a gentle hand to Sidney’s reflection’s cheek, and Sidney’s reflection blinked at him, looking a bit confused, but he made no attempt to pull away. Geno’s reflection looked like he wanted to lean in, but he was hesitating. They stood there for a moment, staring at each other in silence. Sidney could almost hear the watch on the nightstand ticking.

When they spoke again, they spoke at the same time.

“What is it, G—?”
“—Ну, hah...”

Geno’s reflection looked down and cleared his throat. His face was thoroughly flushed.

“Uh,” Geno’s reflection scratched the back of his head, clearing his throat again. “Uh, I want sleep. Let’s go...sl-sleep.”

“...Okay,” said Sidney’s reflection, sounding a little confused, like he was expecting more, but he was still smiling.

They finished undressing in silence, stealing little glances at each other when the other wasn’t looking. When they were down to their underwear, Sidney’s refection followed Geno’s reflection to the bed and they got in together.

“Goodnight, Sidney,” Geno’s reflection said, and as he turned off the lamp on the nightstand, Sidney’s entire mirror went dark.

“Goodnight, Geno.”

Sidney sat down on the floor in front of his closet. He didn’t really know how he felt...jealous, confused...somehow strangely warm and calm? But even amidst his conflicting emotions, he almost felt...better. No, he did feel better. Real or not, Geno’s support was just what he’d wanted to hear. Maybe his mirror was going crazy, but Sidney didn’t honestly think that he himself was. Geno’s reflection was right: he was stressing himself out, and he needed to relax. He needed to focus on the important things and take care of himself, because if he didn’t do that, he wouldn’t be at his best for the next game, and that wouldn’t be fair to the team.

Sidney got up from the floor and went to bed, feeling more level-headed and resting better than he had since before this whole thing started.

---_/.\_---

Evgeni Malkin awoke to the sound of birds chirping outside his bedroom window. He didn’t want to, but he eventually dragged himself out of bed, yawning as he walked towards his bathroom. Once he’d brushed his teeth, he walked out and headed towards his dresser, gathering some comfortable clothes to wear on his way to the pregame skate. He pulled on his pants and shirt, heading over to the full-length mirror on the wall by his closet to check his hair. He glanced at the mirror and back down as he adjusted his chain, then he froze, eyes widening.

When he looked back up at the mirror, he realised that he wasn’t reflected in it.

Chapter Text

Geno let his golden chain slip from his hands. This had to be some sort of sick joke. He narrowed his eyes, wondering how Flower could have pulled this off. Suddenly, he smiled.

А, я понял...Это просто картинка, да? Думает, что он хитренький цветок...
[“Oh, I get it...it’s just a picture, right? He thinks he’s a sneaky little flower...”]

Geno stepped closer to the mirror, expecting to find a picture covering it, but when his hands touched the glass, his smile faded. There was no picture covering the glass. His heart started to pound when he realised that the background of the mirror changed as he moved, like a normal mirror would...only he wasn’t reflected there.

Geno backed away from the mirror and closed his eyes, trying to calm himself down with slow breaths.

Нет, это...Это всего лишь сон. Это сон. Я просто...я ещё сплю...”
[“No, this is...It’s just a dream...it’s a dream. I’m just...I’m still sleeping...]

Geno gently slapped the sides of his face. 

“Давай, Женя...пора проснуться...
[Come on, Zhenya, it’s time to wake up...”]

When he opened his eyes, he was standing in front of the mirror by his closet, and was a bit relieved to see his own startled reflection staring back at him. He huffed out a breath.

That was...very strange. But he hadn’t slept all that well the previous night...Maybe he had just fallen asleep on his feet? It honestly wouldn’t be the first time.

Geno and his reflection frowned simultaneously, and he decided to buy a double-espresso on the way to the arena.

---_/.\_---

Geno was in a wonderful mood when he got home that evening. Well, he always felt great after a 5-1 win, especially when he’d scored two of the five goals, but, even so...something about the way Sidney had acted after the game worried him a bit. 

Geno took a big bite of his pasta before getting out his phone, deciding he should text Sidney and ask if he was ok. His thumbs hovered over the keyboard for a moment before he realised he was in the wrong texting app. He usually only texted Sid through whatsapp when he was in Russia, but sometimes, he texted Sid through it in Pittsburgh without thinking. He’d even slipped up the other day and accidentally sent Sid a good morning text through whatsapp—in Russian, no less—but Sid had responded with a little smiley face, so he figured it wasn’t that big of a deal. Still, after that, he had texted Sidney ‘good morning’ in English through iMessenger, at least so that Sidney would understand what he’d said. But Sid hadn’t responded to that text.

Geno hadn’t been too worried about it, and he figured it’d give him some good chirping material for later, so he let it be. But when he did chirp Sid about the missed text, Sid had given him a startled look that didn’t seem to match the context of the situation. Perhaps even more strangely, when Geno had tried to show Sid his new watch, he’d looked at Geno like he had already seen it...but Geno knew he definitely hadn’t shown it to him before.

Geno frowned down at his phone. The strangest part of that night, however, was how Sid had reacted to his helmet falling on him. That alone shouldn’t have been enough to leave him shaking. Something else had to be going on.

Geno opened iMessenger and started typing something, but he hesitated, then deleted it all. Maybe, if something really was going on with Sidney, he should start the message with something fun, like an ice breaker.

He closed iMessenger for a second and looked through the pictures saved on his phone, searching for something specific: a sports meme in English that he’d seen a while ago and understood right away. He hadn’t been able to find an appropriate time to share it with Sid before, but now seemed to be as good a time as any. He opened iMessenger again and sent the meme to Sidney along with three cry-laughing emojis. He smiled. There, that would be a better ice breaker than a direct question about what was going on with him.

Sid didn’t take long to respond to the meme.

Haha that’s funny :)

Geno smiled and typed out a quick response.

I’m know)))

Geno thought for half a second before typing out another message.

I hope everything ok with you)

It took a moment, but the typing bubble finally popped up in the corner of the screen.

Thanks, Geno...

A second message came a few moments later.

Everything’s fine.

Geno almost replied right away—almost asked what was really going on with Sid—but he hesitated, thinking back to what had happened when he had asked Sid about the text. Sid had mentioned that he didn’t reply because something strange had happened to him, but he’d gotten interrupted—first by Flower, and then by his helmet—before he could say what happened.

Come to think of it, Sid had tried mentioning something strange that happened to him the morning before practice the other day, but he kept getting interrupted then, too...He’d even tried to tell Geno about it before Flower had crashed into him. Geno winced, remembering how he fell. He knew he shouldn’t have worn his watch out onto the ice that day...it had hurt pretty bad when he fell on it and cracked the watch face...

Geno suddenly furrowed his brows, remembering something odd: Sidney had mentioned his mirror the other day before Flower had crashed their conversation...and he’d mentioned it again tonight before his helmet had fallen on him. Geno sent a glance in the direction of his bedroom.

Something strange...had happened to Sidney...in front of his mirror?

Geno slowly stood up and started walking towards his bedroom, as if in a trance. Maybe...maybe he knew exactly what Sidney had been talking about.

He turned the light on in his room and slowly walked over towards the mirror by his closet.

Had that little crack in the upper right corner always been there?

Geno got closer to the mirror, reaching up to run his fingers along the crack. He could barely feel it, but it was there...How long had it been there? Why hadn’t he noticed it before?

Geno suddenly froze. He had been so concerned by the crack, that it took him almost a full minute to realise...

His reflection was missing again.

О еб*нный в рот...” Geno hissed, recoiling away from the mirror as if it had burnt him.

Geno’s heart was pounding as he stared at the empty mirror. He was in front of the damn thing! Where the fuck was his reflection?

He looked away and squeezed his eyes shut.

Нет...это не...это просто...кошмарный сон...надо проснуться. Давай, Женя...проснись!
[“No...this isn’t...this is just...a nightmare...gotta wake up. Come on, Zhenya...wake up!”]

Maybe he’d fallen asleep at the table. Maybe he could blame the pasta for this weird nightmare...

But when he opened his eyes, he was still standing in his room in front of his mirror. He looked up, slightly relieved when he saw his reflection, which was breathing just as hard and looked just as terrified as he was.

Geno took a few deep breaths to steady himself, closing his eyes again and rubbing them until he saw stars.

Бл*ть...Что за...что это за...п*здец...” he muttered.

Geno took a moment to calm down before heading back downstairs to his kitchen. He knew that nothing that had just happened could possibly be blamed on the pasta he’d been eating, but when he looked at it, he suddenly realised that he’d lost his appetite. He covered it up and shoved it into the refrigerator, not even bothering to take the fork out of the container.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Geno awoke the next morning a bit confused about his surroundings...until he remembered that he had fallen asleep on the couch last night watching a movie. He’d been trying to forget about what had happened in his bedroom mirror, and it seemed to have worked. He groaned and stood up, rubbing at the knot in his shoulder. Practice would probably be a bit of a challenge that day since he’d slept a little funny, but at least he had time to take a hot shower beforehand. Maybe that would help loosen up the knot.

He couldn’t quite bring himself to look at his bedroom mirror as he passed by on his way to the bathroom. He glanced nervously at his reflection in the bathroom mirror as he undressed. At least his bathroom mirror seemed normal.

Geno rubbed his towel over his hair as he stepped out of the shower. The mirror in his bathroom was foggy, so he couldn’t see if he needed to fix his hair or not, but he didn’t want to look in his bedroom mirror...Geno shrugged, deciding he’d just wear a baseball cap, and opened the door to the bathroom. He headed into his room to get some clothes out of his dresser, glancing at his mirror as he passed it. He suddenly stopped in his tracks. He backed up to take a proper look at it. 

His reflection still wasn’t there.

Geno stood there, shocked, blinking and staring at his mirror. Where the fuck was he? He turned to look behind him. Nothing else seemed to be wrong...so what the fuck was wrong with his mirror?

Так, это не смешн—“
[“Alright, this isn’t funn—“] 

He stopped short when he turned back and saw his own reflection standing there in the mirror, looking back at him. This time, his reflection was there and matched him down to the last detail. Geno stared at his reflection, and it stared back.

Geno almost calmed down, until he watched his reflection blink seconds after he did.

Geno turned and hastily grabbed some clothes from his dresser, suddenly not wanting to stay in his room any longer. He pulled on his shirt in the hallway, and once he’d gotten down the stairs, he pulled on his pants and put on his shoes. Then he grabbed his keys and practically ran out the door, deciding to grab breakfast on the way to practice.

His bedroom mirror had to be cursed or something. Either that, or he was going crazy, but...Geno didn’t like that idea one bit. He didn’t feel crazy. He felt normal...it was his mirror that made him uncomfortable. That had to be it then: it was cursed, or haunted, or something.

As Geno drove to practice, he considered how he should deal with his freaky mirror. Maybe he could take it down? He grimaced at the thought. It was a pretty big mirror...where would he put it? He’d probably have to call someone to come take it down for him. He really didn’t like that idea. Maybe he could cover it with something? Geno decided that would be an easier plan to execute, but he decided not to think too much about it just yet. He could deal with it later.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Geno was distracted as he got into his gear, but he didn’t feel quite as distracted as Sidney looked. That morning, Sidney was putting on his gear much more slowly than usual, and Geno wondered if more strange things had happened that morning in his mirror, too.

Geno didn’t think much of it when Flower walked by Sidney on the way to his own stall. He watched Sidney look distractedly around the room, then look down at his skate, looking completely lost in thought. Geno looked down. He was curious about what Sidney had seen in his mirror, but the first time he’d tried to ask, he’d fallen and cracked his watch face...and the second time he’d tried to ask, Sidney’s helmet had fallen on him...Geno wasn't sure if something would happen this time, but he figured it wouldn't hurt to give it a try...

Before Geno could say anything, Dumoulin suddenly pointed at Sidney’s hockey pants and yelled, “Oh, God! Sid, what is that?”

Sidney looked up at Domoulin, Shultz, and Maata, and then looked down to where they were pointing.

Geno almost thought it was a real spider. He expected Sidney to jump up, or slap at it, but he didn’t do any of that. He just...sat there, staring at it. Then he laughed a little and blandly told Flower that his prank was funny. Then he just left the fake spider there went back to tying his skates, and Geno heard the guys start to whisper about Sid being fearless. Flower wasn't whispering with them, though. He looked completely surprised, concerned, and maybe...just a tad offended.

Geno sighed, leaning over to tie his own skates. Sidney looked completely out of it, and Geno couldn’t blame him. If he was experiencing anything close to what Geno was experiencing, it must have been very hard on him. Geno sent Sidney another worried glance. He wasn’t sure what to do to help him come back to himself. He took some comfort in the fact that practice would help at least a little bit, since hockey always seemed to lift Sid’s mood.

Sidney was all business once they’d stepped out onto the ice. His usual chirps were kept to an extreme minimum, and Geno heard some of the young guys start to whisper about him being in hyper-focused-mode that day. Geno glanced at Flower—who was watching Sidney a bit more closely than usual as well—knowing he wasn’t the only one who knew better.

After completing the first drill, Sidney had skated back into line looking as listless as he had when he was tying his skates, and Geno decided that every time they finished a drill, he would skate up and lightly crash into Sid, hoping that would in some small way convey that he wanted to support him. Sidney kept glancing at him out of the corner of his eye, but he didn’t say anything more than was necessary. He communicated about instructions or plays when he needed to, but he didn’t ask how Geno was doing or make unnecessary small-talk.

Geno sighed as he watched Sidney deftly skate through a goalie drill. He masterfully kept the puck away from Tanger and backhanded a shot at Flower, who looked a little too smug when he caught it, but he didn’t chirp Sid like he usually did.

Geno was actually a bit glad to hear the final whistle blow. He wasn’t sure if it was the intensity of the exercise or his emotions or both, but this practice had been exhausting. As everyone else filed off the ice, Geno glanced over at Sidney, who showed no inclination of leaving the ice anytime soon. Instead, he gathered a few pucks and wove them in-between one another—one behind another, one between two others, another in a figure-eight pattern around two others—his deft hands moving quickly and with stunning accuracy. When he was finished, he wristed one of the pucks towards the nearest goal, raising his stick in silence when it went in.

Geno wanted to stay and ask Sidney if he was okay, but Sid seemed to need some alone time. Geno decided to go take a shower and then try talking to Sidney when he got off the ice.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Geno fidgeted with his phone, frowning. It had been thirty minutes, and Sidney still hadn’t come off the ice yet. A lot of the guys had already left. 

Geno looked up when Flower got up from his stall and headed out the door and towards the ice. Geno hesitated for a moment before deciding to stand up and follow him.

Geno lingered by the door, wanting to hear what they were talking about, but not really wanting to intrude.

“Oh, come on Marc, if this is about the...the spider thing...Look, I’ll scream next time if it’ll make you happy, just...give me my water bottle!” 

“This isn’t about the fucking spider and I think you know that.”

Geno watched the small smile on Sidney’s face fade a little. He took his water bottle from Flower, reflexively making sure the cap was tight (Geno smiled a bit at that. At least some things still felt normal).

“Sidney, are you okay?”

The look on Sidney’s face made Geno’s heart sink. Sidney looked down before taking a big drink from his bottle.

“I don’t know, Flower. I don’t know.”

Geno watched Sidney skate towards his pile of pucks, shooting a couple at the goal. Geno looked down. He wanted to walk over and comfort him, but he still didn’t want to intrude on their conversation, so he stayed where he was.

“What’s going on with you, Sidney?” Flower called out, causing Geno to look back up at the ice. “What’s wrong?”

Sidney shot a wrister into the net before skating back to the bench with his head down.

“You can tell me anything.”

“I...” Sidney’s laugh was bitter. “I actually can’t tell you, bud. I’m sorry.”

“Is this...is this about the...strange thing that happened to you the other day?” Flower asked, catching Geno’s full attention.

Geno watched Sidney look around as if he expected something bad to happen...but when Sidney gave Flower that pained look, it took all that Geno had not to walk out onto the ice and hug him.

“Ah...superstition?”

Sidney nodded slowly and shot a puck towards the goal at the far end of the ice.

“I get it. Let me know if, ah...if you need anything. K?”

Sidney was quiet, looking down and shuffling his feet. Flower nodded and started to leave.

Sidney mumbled something that had Flower looking over his shoulder, but Geno was too far away hear what he said.

When Flower looked towards the door, he saw Geno, and Geno suddenly felt guilty for eavesdropping. He felt his face grow hot and he turned to leave, but Flower quietly called out to him.

“Geno!” He called. “Wait!”

Geno stopped and turned around.

“Sorry, Flower, I’m not want...rude—“

“No, it’s ok...” Flower said, putting a hand on Geno’s shoulder. “I know you’re worried about him, too.”

Geno let out a breath and nodded. They both turned and watched Sidney from the door as he shot a few pucks around.

“I wonder...I wonder what strange thing happened to him,” Flower said. “But he won’t tell me...did he tell you anythin—?”

“I don’t know. He not tell me either,” Geno said quickly. “Or maybe...he can’t say? But it’s...I’m see it’s bother him a lot. And I’m...I don’t know what I can say him...so he feel better.”

Flower nodded and looked down. “I don’t either...and if this is connected with his superstitions...” Flower trailed off for a moment, lost in thought. “I just don’t know how to help him without...making everything worse, you know?”

Geno nodded. He probably knew better than anyone.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Geno was so distracted as he drove home that he almost ran a red light...and if it hadn’t changed the second it did, Geno probably would have run it.

He was exhausted, and after closing his front door, he trudged to the living room and collapsed with a sigh onto the couch. He couldn't stop thinking of the expression on Sidney’s face when Flower had asked him what was happening to him. Sidney had looked so pained, so completely lost as to what to do, it made Geno’s chest ache just thinking of it.

There had to be some way he could tell Sidney that he wasn’t alone in having problems with his mirror. But, if he referred to the mirror directly, would it cause something weird to happen like before, or had those interruptions just been coincidences?

Geno rubbed his eyes. He was almost glad they’d be leaving for Washington in a few days. They could at least spend a few days there without distractions from their crazy mirrors.

Geno grabbed his phone, tapped on his iMessenger app, and opened the conversation between him and Sidney. He should at least ask Sidney if he was ok, but his mind went blank as he read the last text from Sidney again.

Everything’s fine.

Geno’s thumbs hovered over the keyboard and the cursor blinked at him. Everything was obviously not fine, but calling his best friend a liar would be a bit tactless...

Geno’s thumbs continued to hesitate over the keyboard for a long moment before he sighed and locked his phone, setting it down and rubbing his eyes again. He needed a nap. He trudged up the stairs, pulling off his shirt and tossing it on the floor when he’d entered his bedroom. He sat down on his bed, rubbing his neck. It was still a little sore from when he’d slept on the couch. He wondered if Sidney had ever slept on his couch to avoid his mirror, too...

Geno really wanted to know what Sidney was seeing in his mirror. Was it the same as what he was...or wasn’t seeing in his own mirror? Or was it worse? He reached for his phone again, giving his own mirror a tentative glance. At least his reflection was present and accounted for this time. That was a relief. He let his gaze wander up to the crack.

Was it really bigger, or was that just his imagination?

He scoffed at himself. This was probably all in his imagination...at least...that’s what he wanted to believe. A little part of him was still unsure, but he was doing his best to convince it—

Suddenly, he saw something odd at the foot of his bed. He furrowed his brows. What was Sidney’s day bag doing in his room? Was Sidney in his house? But that wouldn’t make sense; Sidney would never come over without announcing himself first...Geno stared at the day bag, almost as if to make sure he was really seeing it there, but when he looked down at the foot of his bed...

The day bag wasn’t there.

He snapped his gaze back up at the mirror. Sidney’s day bag was still reflected there...sitting innocently at the foot of what might as well not be Geno’s bed, no matter how much they looked alike.

Geno swallowed, staring at the bag. How was he supposed to explain that? Had someone replaced his bedroom mirror with a window? There was definitely not enough room in his closet to hide an entire copy of his room, but...what other logical explanation would there be for what he was seeing?

Geno got up and threw the door to his closet open, looking inside. His closet was just as he had left it, and there was definitely no copy of his room inside.

Geno?

Geno froze. That was Sidney’s voice.

Hey, Sidney...

Geno turned around, shocked. That was definitely his own voice, but there was just one problem: He hadn’t said that. He turned around, eyes frantically searching his room. Nobody was there but him.

Geno blinked, slowly turning back towards his mirror.

Geno’s reflection was sitting on his bed, and Sidney’s reflection was standing next to him, smiling at him with a warmth that made Geno’s stomach feel...funny.

“What's up? You tired?” Sidney’s reflection asked, laughing when Geno’s reflection responded with a nod and a big yawn.

Sidney’s reflection tentatively stepped closer, putting a hand on Geno’s reflection’s shoulder and rubbing slightly. Geno’s reflection leaned into the touch. Geno suddenly felt dizzy. His knees shook as he walked over and sat down on his bed. He couldn’t explain what he was seeing, nor could he tear his gaze away from the mirror.

“Do you wanna, uh...you gonna crush a nap?” Sidney’s reflection asked.

Geno’s reflection laughed softly and nodded, smiling sleepily up at Sidney’s reflection before leaning forward and resting his head on Sidney’s reflection’s chest.

“Yeah...so tired...and shoulder, little bit hurt still...”

Sidney’s reflection smiled warmly.

“Well, that’s what you get for falling asleep on your couch because you were watching movies at two in the morning,” he said softly, shifting slightly so he could rub Geno’s reflection’s shoulder a bit more purposefully. Geno reflexively brought his own hand up to the sore spot in his shoulder.

“I thought I told you to quit doing that,” Sidney's reflection laughed.

Geno’s reflection didn’t seem to be listening, he just moaned a little and leaned into Sidney’s reflection a bit more.

“Mmm, Sidney...so good...”

Sidney’s reflection’s cheeks flushed a bit.

“I should, ah...probably leave you to it, then, eh?” Sidney’s reflection said, letting his hand slip off of Geno’s reflection’s shoulder. He started to pull away.

“Uh, Sidney, стой...wait...”

Sidney’s reflection looked surprised when Geno’s reflection gently caught his arm in his hand.

“Um, Sidney...um...” Geno’s reflection’s face was entirely flushed and he was looking down at his lap. He smiled a little, looking like he wanted to say something, but he kept hesitating.

“Um, thanks,” he said finally. “For massage.”

Sidney’s reflection smiled warmly and laughed a little bit.

“Um...you’re welcome.”

Geno’s reflection looked up at Sidney’s reflection and smiled, too. He rubbed Sidney’s reflection’s forearm with his thumb for a moment before Sidney’s reflection pulled him into a tight hug, and Geno felt his own face start to flush. He turned away from the mirror and shut his eyes. He was not jealous. Absolutely not.

You couldn’t be jealous of things that didn’t exist.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Geno came home a little angry after game two. No matter what they did, Washington seemed to have an answer to it, and Geno had been so fed up with everything he’d racked up six penalty minutes in the final period alone. Sullivan had not been pleased.

He had to admit that the game hadn’t been a total loss, though...he’d still gotten a goal and an assist on Phil’s goal. But Sid hadn’t scored a point, and no one had given him even half an opportunity to do so. No matter what Sidney did, Ovechkin seemed to be behind him, and when Geno told Ovi “I thought you were a forward, not a defensemen”, he’d just given Geno this really weird smile. Geno, coincidentally, had racked up most of his penalty minutes sometime after that. Ovechkin seemed to have it in for Flower that night as well, and kept getting dangerously close to him before shooting. Geno had been less than pleased with Ovi’s behaviour that night, but at least he wasn’t the only one who incurred a penalty for it. Ovi had spent (perhaps more than) his fair share of time in the box that night, too. Too bad it didn’t seem to be enough.

Geno trudged up his stairs, contemplating whether or not he should text Sidney that night. What would he say, though? They’d all already discussed what needed to be done next game, and Sidney had looked decently calm during the entire conversation. He’d gotten a little animated talking about ways around Washington’s new defensive tactics, and it was clear that he was pissed about Ovechkin’s play that night, but overall, he didn’t seem any more or less emotional than normal. Maybe things were finally quieting down. Maybe Sidney’s mirror had finally stopped being—

Geno stopped dead in front of his own bedroom mirror.

His reflection was missing again.

Это...что такое...

Geno blinked and stared until he couldn’t stand it anymore, trying to will his reflection back into his mirror. Why did this keep happening? Did his reflection have someplace better to be than in his own mirror?! Finally, Geno got up and left his room, taking deep breaths to try to calm his pounding heart. Even if things were quieting down for Sidney’s mirror, they certainly weren’t for his own.

Geno suddenly wanted to call Sidney, but when he reached for his phone, he hesitated and withdrew his hand. What would he say to him? What if he couldn’t mention his own mirror without getting interrupted as well? There was no one in his house to interrupt him, but...more than a few things that could fall off of shelves...

He sat down on the couch, contemplating what to do. Maybe he could call Sid under the pretext of complaining about Ovechkin? But...that was the type of thing you left at the rink. It wouldn’t help to overthink it.

Geno bowed his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. He needed to be honest with himself. The real reason he wanted to call Sidney was to hear his voice. He wanted to talk to Sidney and make him laugh, just so he could hear the smile in his voice.

Ever since he had seen himself and Sidney in his mirror together, he hadn’t been able to get those images out of his mind...the way Sidney’s reflection had smiled at his...the way Sidney’s reflection had touched his...the flush on Sidney’s reflection’s face when his reflection had held him...but Geno wasn’t jealous. Absolutely not.

And somehow? He couldn’t quite let himself believe that the real Sidney would want...that type of relationship with him.

He and Sidney had a wonderful and real friendship, and if that was enough for Sidney, then that was more than enough for Geno.

Still...Geno took his phone out and stared at his lock screen—a selfie of him and Sidney that he’d taken at his house last summer before his annual trip to Russia. They were standing close together and Geno had an arm slung around Sidney’s shoulders. Sidney had an arm around Geno’s waist, and they were both smiling. It was his favourite picture of them.

He sighed and put his phone on the coffee table, wondering what would be the best position to sleep in so he wouldn’t be sore the next morning.

 

---_/.\_---

 

The bus ride from Pittsburgh to Washington went pretty uneventfully. Sid sat next to Flower as per usual. They talked about TV shows and hockey plays and griped about Ovechkin, and even though Flower had obviously wanted to ask Sidney about what strange thing had happened to him the other day, he made no mention of it at all. 

Sidney sighed as he opened the door to his hotel room and walked in. He had to admit, he was glad to get out of the house for a while...if for nothing else, to get away from his bedroom mirror. It was going to be nice to spend a few days without any supernatural distractions.

Sidney had just finished setting his things down when he heard a knock on his door. When he went to answer it, Flower was behind the door.

“Hey, Sid. A few of the guys are going out for dinner. You wanna come with us?”

Sidney sent a longing glance back at the big, fluffy hotel bed.

“I don’t know, Flower, I think I’m just gonna turn in early tonight,” he said absently.

“Oh, come on, Sidney! I really think it would do you some good to get out with the guys a little bit, you know?” Flower’s expression turned a bit serious.

“You’ve been kinda...distant lately, and some of the guys are pretty worried about you.”

Sidney frowned.

“Look, Flower...I just...I’m sorry, but I’m tired, and I’m—“

“Let me say this a different way,” Flower said, giving Sidney a meaningful look. “Sidney, me and Geno are worried about you.”

Sidney sighed and looked down.

“I...Flower, everything’s fine. A few weird things happened, and it bothered me a little, but that’s all in the past now, and I’m ready to move on with my li—“

“Then why don’t you come out and eat with us? I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt! You could—“

“Why are you even going?” Sidney suddenly interrupted. “Don’t you have someone to prank?”

“Oh ha-ha. Actually, I think the room-in-the-hallway prank is a bit old, and I’m pretty hungry,” Flower said, rubbing his stomach.

“Look, Sidney, you don’t have to talk about what happened; me and Geno will help you avoid that topic. We just...want to see you out with the team.”

Sidney huffed out a breath. He supposed a little socialisation wouldn’t hurt. And if Geno and Flower had his back...

“Alright, fine...but this time, you don’t get to fight me over who pays the bill. It’s my turn this time!”

Flower smiled as he ushered Sid out of his room.

“Fine! Fine! I won’t! But you said the same thing the last time we—“

“Marc-André, what did I just say?”

The door to the room swung shut, leaving the room in absolute silence. No one was there to hear the popping sound...

When a tiny, barely visible crack formed in the corner of Sidney’s hotel room mirror.

Chapter Text

Sidney had been in Washington a lot over the course of his career, but he’d never been to The Founding Fathers’ before. He wondered how new the restaurant was.

The atmosphere was calm and the food was good, and Sid soon found himself relaxing into the booth between Geno and Flower as he sipped his second beer. It was kind of nice just to sit back and listen to the guys banter back and forth instead of worrying about his stupid mirror. He was actually kinda glad that he caved and went out with them...not that he was ready to admit that to Flower.

“And then he comes over to my left side, right? And BAM. Right into the boards! Like, I don’t even have the puck anymore, and he’s over here hammering on me like...like I’m a fuckin’ unfinished deck or something! And they almost didn’t even call a penalty!”

“That’s bullshit!”

“Yeah it is! And the worst part of it is, that asshole’s had it in for me since juniors and he keeps thinking he can get away with shit like that!”

Sidney shook his head at his teammates, smiling. He had probably used some pretty colourful metaphors in his life, but he was pretty sure he’d never said anything quite like ‘hammering on me like an unfinished deck’.

“Sidney,” Tanger suddenly said holding up his beer, immediately catching Sidney’s attention. “We’re glad you came out with us tonight.”

“Yeah, a few of us were worried you’d skip out on us...” Phil said. “Since, well...y’know, you’ve been—“

Flower tensed up a bit, but Sidney interrupted Phil with a sly smile.

“It’s ok, Phil, you can be honest. I know you all just wanted me here because you knew I’d foot the bill.”

Flower seemed to relax a bit as loud laughter broke out over the table. 

Phil was shaking his head, but he was smiling too.

“No, It’s just good to have you here with us, Sid,” Hornqvist said, tipping his beer at Sidney.

“Yeah! And...well, some of us were a little worried about you,” Sheary added. “You know...since the other day at practice—“

“I’m okay, guys, really...” Sidney said quickly, shifting uncomfortably. It was nice that the guys cared about him enough to ask, he just didn’t want to go any further into the topic...most importantly, he didn’t want anything dangerous to happen while they were out together at a restaurant.

“Okay, I’m out of beer and that’s wrong!” Flower said, valiantly coming to Sidney’s rescue. “Who else wants another?”

Olli, Tanger, and Haggy enthusiastically agreed, and a few of the other guys started hemming and hawing, trying to decide.

“Come on, guys! Sidney’s buying!” Flower said, sending a smirk at Sidney and playfully punching him in the shoulder.

Sidney laughed. “Knock yourselves out, guys...just don’t go too hard. We still have practice tomorrow!”

Tanger sent Flower a look.

Il vraiment ne cesse jamais de travailler!
[He truly never stops working!]
Tanger said, shaking his head.

Ouais, mais...c’est Sidney...tu le connais. Ce n’est pas une surprise, là?”
[Yeah, but...it’s Sidney...you know him. This isn’t a surprise, right?]
Flower answered, gently nudging Tanger towards the bar.

Tanger shrugged. “Ah, bon ouais,” he sighed. “Tu as raison...
[Well, yeah, ok...you’re right.]

Sidney shook his head, looking down into his beer. He was glad that things seemed to be getting back to normal again. He found himself wondering how long it would last, though...would it only last while they were in Washington? Would his mirror be just as out of touch with reality when he returned? Would everything just get worse, or would he come back and find out that it was all over? He shook his head and took another sip of his beer, deciding he should really just relax and enjoy it for however long it lasted.

He suddenly felt someone nudge him and looked up, smiling when he saw that it was Geno. Geno smiled back at Sidney and scooted a bit closer, holding what must have been his third or fourth strange-looking cocktail in a metal mug.

“How you doing, Sid? Happy you come with us?”

Sidney smiled at him and shrugged. “Yeah, I am. And I’m doing alright.”

Geno gave him a pointed look.

“Really alright?”

Sid couldn’t help the small rush of heat that flooded to his cheeks when Geno’s knee bumped against his. He decided to play it cool and pretend it didn’t happen, resisting the urge to keep his knee pressed against Geno’s.

“Really alright,” he repeated, smiling sincerely.

Geno smiled back and then looked down into his drink, nodding. 

“Ah, ok. S’good.”

Sidney wasn’t sure if the flush on Geno’s face had been there before, or if it was the alcohol...

“...how about you, G?”

Geno glanced up at him and nodded again, but he seemed to be avoiding Sidney’s eyes. He even seemed a bit distracted...or was that just Sid’s imagination?

“I’m ok, too. Doing good. Ready for practice tomorrow.”

“That’s good,” Sidney said, watching as Geno smiled almost sadly and looked back down into his drink, stirring it with the little drink-stir it came with. His face still looked a little flushed...

Sidney looked down at his own drink. He had to keep his head on straight and not let what he had seen in his mirror cloud his judgement. Geno probably wasn’t sad or distracted at all, and the blush on his face was probably just from the alcohol.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Geno sighed and leaned against the door to his hotel room. He hoped Sidney hadn’t noticed how his face flushed when they talked at the restaurant, but somehow, he doubted that Sidney had missed it. He’d even quickly pulled his knee away when Geno had accidentally bumped it with his own...

Geno rubbed his face with both hands. This was stupid! He shouldn’t let what happened in his mirror affect how he interacted with Sidney! He couldn’t expect Sidney to understand why he reacted the way he did, especially since he was now pretty positive that Sidney wasn’t in the least bit interested.

Geno stood up straight and walked into the bathroom, grabbing his toothbrush and toothpaste. He leaned on the counter (facing away from the bathroom mirror) and started brushing his teeth. He was glad that, at least, he didn’t have to deal with his stupid bedroom mirror for three days. Without distractions from his mirror, he could at least relax and put more energy into thinking about his game...

That is, if he could stop thinking about the damn thing.

He stopped brushing his teeth and sighed. It didn’t seem to matter how close or far away from his mirror he was...he was still letting what he had seen in it affect his behaviour.

Geno turned around, spat into the sink, and rinsed out his toothbrush. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about what weird new things it would inevitably show him—

Geno suddenly turned his head, listening intently. He’d just distinctly heard...something like a popping sound?

He listened carefully for a few more moments, but when he didn’t hear anything else, he assumed it had been an accidental knock on the wall from one of his neighbours or something. Hotel room walls always seemed to be pretty thin, no matter how high the nightly rate was.

Geno pulled off his shirt and walked over to the dresser, glancing warily up at the mirror on the wall. He knew it was just a normal hotel room mirror, but...maybe... 

He shook his head and got a pair of sweatpants out of the dresser. The mirror in the bathroom wasn’t strange or cracked, and the one in the room probably wasn’t either. He was just being paranoid. Besides, it would be pretty ridiculous of him to let one mirror influence him into being paranoid around all mirrors.

Even so...he found himself looking warily up at the mirror again as he pulled on his sweatpants, letting his gaze wander around the reflection of his room. He was honestly half-expecting something to be a bit off, but everything seemed normal...there was a painting hanging over the bed, the lamp on the nightstand was on, the wallpaper was...honestly hideous, but—

Suddenly, something in the upper right corner of the mirror caught Geno’s attention.

There was a hairline crack there, shaped like a tiny, crooked lightning bolt.

Geno’s heart started to pound and he stared at the crack for a moment, willing himself to calm down. This wasn’t his mirror. It was just a regular old everyday mirror in a hotel room that happened to have a crack in it. He had nothing to worry about. Geno took a steadying breath and started to turn back around...

...when he noticed a navy blue tie laying on the nightstand in the reflection of his room. Had it been there before? It didn’t look like his...

But when Geno turned around to get a better look at it, it wasn’t on his nightstand.

Не...только не говори...
[N-...Don’t you tell me...]

Geno shook his head and looked back up at the mirror, absolutely astonished when he saw the tie again, sitting innocently on the reflection of the nightstand as if it belonged there.

Нет...только не здесь...

This couldn’t be happening. Not here, too.

Geno ran a hand through his hair and stared at the tie. So it wasn’t just his mirror at home...Maybe it was all mirrors. Geno huffed out a breath. He really didn’t like the idea of that. What was he supposed to do? Spend the rest of his life avoiding mirrors? That was going to be impossible!

Geno rubbed his eyes and turned away, bringing a hand up to his golden chain and nervously running it through his fingers. He couldn’t imagine why this would be happening to him. What had he done to deserve—

I should probably...head back to my own room...

Geno jumped, startled by the voice. No one else was in his room, so there was only one place it could be coming from...

Geno took a breath, then looked up at the mirror. Something seemed to tighten around his heart when he saw his and Sidney’s reflections sitting side by side on the bed, holding hands.

“No, Sidney...you should...I mean...maybe you want to...stay with me?” Geno’s reflection was softly saying, looking down at Sidney’s reflection’s fingers entwined with his. “Just...maybe five more minute?”

Sidney’s reflection smiled, a soft blush covering his cheeks.

“Five more minutes, eh?”

“Yeah...like...we can...maybe just talk?” Geno’s reflection said.

Sidney’s reflection laughed softly. “Okay...about what?”

“Like, uh...like dinner, you know? Was very nice,” Geno’s reflection said, giving Sidney’s reflection a meaningful look, a small smile curling up at the corners of his mouth.

Sidney’s reflection laughed softly again, looking down at their hands.

“Yeah, dinner was pretty nice,” he said quietly. “I liked the restaurant. Good atmosphere...”

“Yeah,” Geno’s reflection agreed, looking back down at their hands, too. “It’s...Good drinks, good food. Good restaurant...”

Geno’s reflection rubbed a thumb over Sidney’s reflection’s knuckles, looking like he was contemplating something. He licked his lip.

“M...Maybe...we go again?” he said finally. “Maybe just...just me and you.”

Their reflections looked up at each other and, even though Geno’s reflection’s invitation could be interpreted as an innocent one between friends, his hopeful expression implied otherwise. Sidney’s reflection deeply blushed and raised his brows at Geno’s reflection, his lips slightly parted. 

“You...you’d, uh...you’d want to...do that?”

Geno’s reflection shifted nervously, looking back down at their hands.

“Yeah, uh...I’m just think...maybe...you know...we...” Geno’s reflection cleared his throat and licked his lips.

“We can, little bit talk...with you? Little bit...drink, relax...and maybe...” he paused to laugh. “Then Flower don’t make you buy all the...the drinks.”

That earned him a little laugh from Sidney’s reflection.

“Oh...he didn’t...he didn’t make me, I'm happy to...well, but yeah, it’d...probably be a little bit more, uh...more relaxing if it was just...” Sidney’s reflection paused to lick his lip. “Just you and me...”

“Yeah...” Geno’s reflection smiled. “I think...it’s...uh, would be...very nice. I...I want...like that.”

Sidney’s reflection looked up and smiled at Geno’s reflection so warmly...Geno suddenly felt a sweet, but sharp pain stab into his side and had to sit down on the bed. He wished he could save that little smile somehow, so he could look at it every day...

“I’d like that too, G,” Sidney’s reflection said softly. He raised a tentative hand, and when Geno’s reflection smiled at him, he slowly wove his hand into Geno’s reflection’s hair. Geno’s reflection closed his eyes and seemed to lose himself in Sidney’s reflection’s gentle touch. 

Sidney’s reflection combed his fingers through Geno’s reflection’s hair for a few long moments before Geno’s reflection opened his eyes again, smiling warmly at Sidney’s reflection as if he couldn’t hold back the happiness he felt around him. Sidney’s reflection smiled widely and he looked down, his cheeks thoroughly pink, like he was a bit overwhelmed by Geno’s bright smile. He patted Geno’s reflection on the shoulder and shifted his weight like he was about to get up.

“Okay, G...I, uh...I really better—“

“Ah...Sidney,” Geno’s reflection said, refusing to let go of Sidney’s reflection’s hand. “Where you going? It’s not...five minutes!”

Sidney’s reflection let out a little surprised laugh, but he sat back in his original position.

“What, were you...you were serious about those five minutes?”

“Yes! Of course I’m serious! I'm...mean what I say!” Geno paused, looking a bit confused. “Or it's...I'm...say what I'm mean?”

Sidney’s reflection let out a delighted laugh, his smile so wide that his eyes crinkled at the corners. Geno’s reflection laughed softly in response and he let his head fall against Sidney’s reflection’s, unable to stop smiling.

“Look, Sidney...Please stay. I’m...I want...actually more than five minute...”

“Geno, we—”

Geno’s reflection pulled Sidney’s into a hug. 

“Please, Sidney...you will...Stay all night? With me?” he whispered hopefully into Sidney’s reflection’s shoulder.

Sidney’s reflection sighed, bringing his hand up to little the curls at the back of Geno’s reflection’s neck and agonisingly slowly running them again and again between his fingers. Part of Geno wanted to look away, but another part of him wanted to watch forever.

“I...I don’t know, G,” Sidney’s reflection protested quietly, though the protest was obviously less than half-hearted. “We’ve gotta be up early tomorrow for practice, and—“

“Sidney...” Geno’s reflection interrupted. “Please...I want you...stay with me...I sleep better, when you with me.”

Geno’s reflection’s tone sounded so imploring...but it could barely match the longing feeling in Geno’s own heart. Sidney’s reflection sighed again, burying his nose into Geno’s reflection’s shoulder. Geno barely heard him whisper, “Ok, G,” before the sweet, piercing, burning jealously became too much and he had to turn away from the mirror.

Geno grabbed his key card and a sweater and opened the door to his room, deciding that right now would be a good time to take a walk. The door didn’t quite slam, but in the quiet of the hotel’s hallway, everything sounded too loud. Especially his own thoughts.

 

---_/.\_---

 

The brisk night air felt good flowing through Geno’s hair...but it all too readily reminded him of Sidney’s reflection’s fingers weaving through his own reflection’s hair. 

He both did and didn’t want to think about how badly he wanted to feel that touch...how much he loved Sid’s laugh, and how much he loved it when Sid’s eyes crinkled at the corners when he laughed...No matter how hard he tried, he didn’t think he could stop himself from thinking about how much he wanted to make Sidney laugh like that every day for the rest of his life...

It was all well and good that, in whatever place his mirror was showing him, his reflection could have that sort of relationship with Sidney’s. But...it somehow really hurt Geno knowing that, his Sidney...his Sidney would never laugh for him like that; would never touch him like that.

Geno’s chest suddenly felt so hollow, he had to stop walking. He slumped down onto a nearby park bench, resting his head in his hands. He knew he shouldn’t torture himself by thinking things like that, even if he was 99% certain they were true. He supposed that little 1% of uncertainty probably came from the part of him that foolishly wanted to hold out hope, but Geno was determined not to let that part of him cloud his judgement. It wouldn’t be fair to Sidney for him to let what he saw in his mirror affect their relationship....The thing was, he honestly hadn’t even considered his and Sidney’s relationship in that kind of light before he had seen it in his mirror.

Well, sure, he’d always cared about Sidney a lot...Ever since he’d come to Pittsburgh, Sidney had worked hard to make him feel at home and welcome, and he had appreciated that. And...okay, yes...he’d taken a few peeks at Sidney in the locker room. But with an ass like that, Geno knew he couldn’t possibly be the only one guilty of taking a peek...

Still, he hadn’t even considered the possibility that their relationship could be anything more than friendship before his mirror had shown him that warm, gentle smile on Sidney’s reflection’s face...the one that felt like it was meant only for him...

Geno shook the thoughts out of his head and rubbed his hands over his face. He had to quit thinking about this. He had to keep his head on straight. He knew that, no matter how much he wanted to make Sidney laugh like that; no matter how much he wanted to hold him and make him smile and blush like that, it was never going to happen. Sidney couldn’t possibly want the same things that he wanted.

Well...Geno knew of one desire they did have in common, and that was to win the Stanley Cup.

They could definitely do that. Geno got up from the bench, suddenly feeling a bit revitalised. That was one desire they could fulfil together. 

Hockey was his and Sid’s common ground; their common language. No matter how much it hurt Geno to know that he could never be as intimate with Sid as he wanted to, it could never dull the wonderful feeling Geno got when he saw Sidney cheering for his teammates on the ice, or when he scored and ran to hug Geno or whoever was around...Or how joyful he felt when he thought about Sidney raising the cup in 2009...how the emotions had overcome Sid after he’d handed off the cup and he’d just clung to Geno for half a moment on the ice, smiling and laughing and crying all at once because we did it, Geno! We made it! Geno had cried a little then, too.

Seeing Sidney happy was more than enough for Geno, really. It filled his heart with joy. It made him want to win another cup, if for nothing else, just so he could see Sid overcome with joy like that again...

He just...he selfishly allowed himself one moment to wish that, even for one night, he alone could be the cause of that joyful smile.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Geno suddenly blinked awake.

Okay, so he’d been dreaming about riding in a marshrutka with Sidney...That’s good, because that one babushka across from them had been starting to look really judgmental at the way he’d been talking to Sidney...

It couldn’t have been real anyway, because Geno hadn’t ridden in a Russian taxi-bus in what felt like a lifetime, and he was pretty sure Sidney had never even seen one. Besides, he’d been talking to Sidney in Russian, and Sidney probably wouldn’t have understood the words he was using...

Geno checked his phone and almost groaned after seeing what time it was. He really didn’t want to be awake at two in the morning. He had to be up early! He didn’t want—

Geno suddenly lifted his head from his pillow. Where was that soft snoring sound coming from? Or was it just loud snoring from another room that only sounded soft because it was coming through a wall?

No...that couldn’t be it...it sounded like the source was in the room...he turned around and looked blearily at the empty space in the bed next to him. He was the only one there, and he wasn’t asleep anymore, so unless he was having some other weird-ass dream...

Geno both wanted and didn’t want to look at the mirror. Finally, against his own better judgment, he turned his head to look...and when he saw what was reflected in the mirror, he almost forgot to breathe. 

His reflection was curled around Sidney’s, their chests gently rising and falling. Sidney’s reflection’s hair was tousled, and Geno’s reflection’s soft, snoring breaths made a small part of it sway rhythmically, back and forth. It was almost comical...but Geno sure didn’t feel like laughing.

They both looked so peaceful...Geno’s reflection looked so comfortable...so content with his arm held tight against Sidney’s reflection’s chest, and Geno wished

That same warm, but sharply painful feeling of bittersweet jealousy stabbed into Geno’s chest again, making it hard to breathe, and he had to turn away from the mirror. The sudden rush of conflicting emotions burned his eyes, and he shut them tightly.

Geno reached out over the empty space next to him in the bed, grabbing a fistful of the cold sheet like it would somehow anchor him to reality.

Нет...Это...просто кошмар...” he mumbled, not really sure if he believed it was a nightmare or not.

Weren’t nightmares supposed to be terrifying? Because Geno didn’t think they were they supposed to make you ache for something unattainable...

Then again, Geno wasn’t really sure if his empty heart cared. 

 

---_/.\_---

 

Sid arrived at the practice facility feeling more rested than he had in weeks. He said a cheerful good morning to Flower as he walked in and set his stuff down at his designated stall, causing Flower to give him a suspicious look. Sid didn’t miss it.

“What?”

Flower leaned against one of the stalls. “How are you doing today, Sid?”

“Fine,” Sid said with a little smile. “I actually slept pretty well. You?”

“Uh-huh...I’m doing ok,” Flower said, still eyeing Sidney warily.

He didn’t have a chance to ask Sidney why his mood had improved so much so quickly, though, because a moment later, Geno walked through the door with a large cup of coffee in his hands, looking tired.

Bon matin, Geno,” Flower said, patting him on the back. “How are you?”

Geno shrugged and sat down in the stall next to Sidney’s.

“Normal. I want sleep.”

“Ah-huh,” Flower nodded and glanced between Sidney and Geno, then looked back at Sidney, almost as if Geno being tired was his fault...as if somehow they'd switched moods. Sidney gave him a defensive, quizzical look.

Geno took a big drink of his coffee and set it down in his stall between himself and Sidney.

“Hey, Sid,” Geno said quietly. He sounded exhausted.

“Hey, G...what’s that? Smells good...” Sidney said, nodding at the cup.

Geno shrugged. “Coffee. S’okay. Want try?”

Geno was a bit surprised when Sidney shrugged and lifted the cup to his lips. He wasn’t expecting him to take a drink at all, but he was quite content to watch Sidney take a quick sip, then lick some of the lingering drops of coffee off his lower lip. Geno blinked and looked at the floor, trying to avoid staring. He absently licked his own lip.

“Wow, that actually is pretty good!” Sidney said, sounding impressed. “Where’d you get it?”

“Coffee shop at hotel,” Geno said, hurriedly lifting the cup back up to his own lips, suddenly very thirsty for more of his coffee. 

“Oh, that’s great...I’ll have to check that out when we get back...”

Geno tried not to watch as Sidney licked his lips again. He looked down at his equipment and didn’t notice Flower squinting at him.

“Tastes like, uh...there’s a few espresso shots in there, though...” Sidney said.

Geno nodded. “Two. I’m not...sleep good last night.”

Sidney looked concerned. “Oh, I’m...sorry to hear that...”

Sidney was about to ask what happened, but before he could, Shearsy walked in with a suspiciously fun-shaped mark on his neck, and suddenly everyone was chirping him. Everyone except Geno.

Geno was slowly putting on his equipment, stopping every once in a while to shake his head. Sid wondered if he’d had a nightmare or something. He'd seen Geno tired before, but this seemed to be a bit more than that. Sidney scooted a hair closer to him. He hoped the practice would help revitalise Geno a bit.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Geno was skating around restlessly as coach Sullivan talked them through the passing drill. It was one Geno could probably do in his sleep, so he probably didn’t really need to pay attention; and Geno usually skated around a little during instruction sessions anyway, but he still seemed much more restless than usual. Sidney frowned a bit, wondering what had him so tense. Maybe it was the coffee.

Finally, they set up for the drill, pairing off and forming two lines. Sully paired Geno with Haggy, but Sidney tapped Haggy’s shoulder and asked him to switch with him. Sullivan looked confused for a moment, but Sidney just gave him a look, and he nodded silently, trusting Sidney’s judgment.

Geno was a bit confused as he watched Sidney trade spots with Haggy. Why would Sid trade partners just to practice passing with him? Geno suddenly wondered if Sid was going to ask him about his strange behaviour at the restaurant last night. He tried to hide the heat rushing to his cheeks by looking down at the ice.

Geno resolved just to breathe and track the puck. He didn’t have to make eye-contact with Sidney for this drill. All he had to do was skate, watch the puck, and track Sidney’s stick blade. Easy. He’d probably done this drill at least ten thousand times, and this time wasn’t about to be any different.

Until it was different, because then, he did what he’d promised himself not to do and momentarily looked up at Sidney’s face...and saw Sidney looking right back at him, a concerned expression on his face as he backhand-passed the puck back to Geno. Geno was so startled that he missed the pass, and was almost glad for having to peel off to chase after the puck, but only because it broke his eye-contact with Sidney.

Unfortunately, when he got back into the passing circuit, it was a lot harder to pay attention to the task at hand because he kept wanting to look back up at Sidney’s face. Geno shook his head and willed himself to focus. Sidney’s eyes were not going to tell him where the puck was. His own eyes were supposed to do that. But...

When Geno finally allowed himself a glance up at Sidney’s eyes again and saw him staring back at him, he fumbled with his stick and missed the pass again. Geno watched Sidney stop before he skated off after the puck, his face burning.

He passed the puck back to Sidney from where it had come to rest, perhaps a bit too hard, but Sidney deftly caught it and sent it right back to Geno as he skated back into the circuit. Geno caught it and sent it back, resolving to stare at nothing but the puck and the blade of Sidney’s stick for the rest of the drill. He wasn’t expecting Sidney to clear his throat.

“Uh, you ok, G?”

Startled, Geno looked up at Sidney, who was about to pass him the puck. Thankfully, he realised that Geno wasn’t ready and held onto it.

Geno couldn’t really think of anything to say, so he just shook his head. Sidney looked even more concerned than before, slowing his pace. Geno started to panic; he couldn’t have a conversation about this with Sidney right now.

Давай, Sidney, дай pass!” Geno said, impatiently tapping his stick. “We practice now. Talk later.”

Sidney passed him the puck, not looking any less concerned, but seeming to understand that Geno didn’t want to talk about whatever was bothering him at the moment. He was sure something other than fatigue was bothering Geno, but he would apparently have to wait to find out.

The rest of the passing drill went off without a hitch, until Geno missed the last pass before the whistle blow, and Sidney realised that it was because Geno had been looking at him again. Geno looked upset as he skated off into the corner after the puck. Sidney only hesitated for a split second before deciding to follow him.

Geno looked startled when he looked up and realised Sidney had followed him. He quickly ducked his head, avoiding Sidney’s eyes.

“G...hey...what’s going on?” Sidney asked softly. “Are you ok? Did you...have a nightmare last night, or...?”

Geno was surprised at Sidney’s gentle tone and looked up at him, and Sidney realised his face was red.

Sidney gave him a worried look. Was he sick? Was he mad about something?

Geno’s expression softened at Sidney’s concerned look. He didn’t want Sidney to worry about him. He wondered if he should lie and say everything was fine? He sighed. He knew Sidney wouldn't buy it if he did. They knew each other too well. He suddenly wished he could tell Sidney all about what had happened in his mirror...

Well...why couldn’t he? He was sure, if anyone would understand, it would be Sidney...even if he had to leave out the parts about how sweetly it hurt to watch what he saw in his mirror. If anything dangerous happened, he could just stop talking...

“Sidney...” Geno said, his mouth a bit dry. He wondered if he could even get it out...he pushed forward, tamping down his nerves.

“Something...yesterday, something weird happen...in my mirror—“

They both jumped as a puck shot right in-between them—narrowly missing Sidney’s arm—and slammed against the boards. Instead of looking up to see where the puck had come from, Sid and Geno both immediately looked at each other, and Geno watched an expression of deep surprise and understanding slowly creep over Sidney’s face.

“...Oh...oh, I...” Sidney paused to swallow. “Here? At the hotel?”

Geno just nodded.

“Y-you don’t have to say anything, G...I...” he said quickly, glancing over his shoulder. “...I think I get it.”

Geno looked down, thankful, but a bit embarrassed. Just how much did Sidney understand? Did anything that he was seeing in his mirror match what Geno was seeing, even a little bit?

“Look, uh...G...” Sidney began. “I know, uh...It can be distracting...but...just try to...to take a breath and focus. We...we have to be at our best for the team. We have to be strong for them. We can’t let this...uh...we can’t let it affect us.”

Geno nodded again. At least they were in agreement about that. He glanced up at Sidney, who was looking at Geno like they had just shared a big secret and he wanted to know more about it; like he had a million questions wanted to ask, but...Sidney looked down at the puck.

“Just know...I’m here for you, G,” Sidney said softly. “Even if...even if we can’t talk about it.”

Спаси—ah,” Geno looked down and shook his head. “Thank you, Sidney.”

Sidney patted Geno’s shoulder, nodding towards the rest of the group. Geno nodded, too, and they started skating back to join them. Some of the others had started to stare out of curiosity, but a shrill whistle-blow from Sully soon fixed that.

For the rest of practice, Geno stayed close to Sidney. He almost felt better now that Sid knew. Well, he didn’t know everything, and it wasn’t like Geno could outright tell him what he saw them doing in his mirror. But at least someone understood why he was distracted, and that—for what it was worth—helped.

---_/.\_---

 

Geno walked slowly down the corridor towards him room, clutching his bag of takeout. For whatever reason, he couldn't stop the images he had seen in his mirror the day before from playing over and over in his head...he could almost hear Sidney laughing in the quiet of the hallway, and every time he blinked, he could almost see him...sitting with his reflection on the reflection of bed in the reflection of his room...

Geno wondered if he should try telling Sidney what he was seeing in his mirror? But for what? What good would it do? What would happen if he knew that Geno wanted everything he saw in his mirror (and maybe a bit more)? Maybe it would make everything worse...maybe knowing that would make Sidney uncomfortable around him.

Geno’s shoulders dropped. He couldn’t do that to Sidney. Not during the playoffs. Not ever. He never wanted to make Sid uncomfortable, so the only acceptable course of action was to somehow deal with these feelings himself and to keep his mouth firmly shut...

Geno stopped walking. It had suddenly occurred to him that all of doors to the rooms in this hotel looked exactly the same, and the hallway seemed to be way too long...why the heck was that? He suddenly hoped he hadn’t already walked by his room...

“Hey, Geno!”

Geno looked over his shoulder and saw Flower walking up behind him with a carryout container in his hands.

“Oh, Flower...hello,” he said.

“How are you doing, G?” Flower said, taking a bite of what looked like a slice of potato with cheese all over it.

Geno didn’t honestly know how to answer that question at the moment, even in Russian.

“I....m-Don’t know?” he said with a shrug. “Everything...I guess, okay?”

Flower nodded, then frowned. “Are you sure?”

Geno still couldn’t think of anything to say, so he shrugged.

“...can I ask...what happened at practice?”

Geno knew Flower was asking because he cared about him, but at the moment, the question just seemed to bother him. He opened his mouth to answer, but all that came out was a frustrated sound.

Flower closed his takeout container, looking concerned.

“You...want to talk about it? Or not really?”

Geno didn’t particularly want to talk about anything at the moment. All he wanted to do was eat and take a nap. He happened to glance up, noticing that he was in front of his hotel room. Thank goodness he hadn’t walked by it...

“Look, Flower...I’m...I don’t know, just...I’m tired?” he scratched the back of his head. To his frustration, his ability to speak English seemed to be failing him at the moment. 

“I...uh...need.....I...sorry, Flower, I need sleep. Talk later...sorry...”

Geno walked into his room, shutting the door and leaving Flower outside with his takeout in his hands and a surprised look on his face. 

Geno sighed, walking over to the little desk in his room and setting down the bag of takeout. He looked warily up at the mirror hanging over the dresser, searching the reflection for the navy blue tie.

To his relief...or maybe to his disappointment...it wasn’t there.

Geno looked down. What was the whole point of the things he was seeing in his mirror, anyway? There didn’t seem to be a reason for it all. The only thing it seemed to be doing was stressing him out and distracting him; making him feel conflicted. And why did it have to be happening now, during the playoffs, when it was critical for him not to be too stressed and distracted?

No matter how much he thought about it, he couldn’t answer that question. Maybe he’d never know the answer.

Geno stood up and walked to the bathroom, grabbing a towel from the rack. He walked back into his room and carefully tucked the towel around the decorative frame surrounding the mirror.

Maybe he never wanted to know the answer. He never thought he’d have to ask the question in the first place.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Sidney closed the door to his hotel room, distractedly opening the container of takeout he’d brought back with him.

So the mirror in Geno’s hotel room had showed him something strange? This changed everything...

It meant that the mirrors in this hotel were weird just like his mirror back home...or was it just the mirror in Geno’s room? What if it wasn’t? Was anyone else seeing anything strange in their mirrors here, too? He knew he couldn’t outright ask anyone that question, but he could certainly keep an eye out for any more distracted teammates...

Sidney ate a few of the tomatoes off of his side salad and slowly walked towards the desk in his hotel room, lost in thought. What if the mirror in his room was weird, too?

Sid was about to look up at his mirror, when suddenly, there was a knock at the door. He quickly put down his takeout box and rushed to go answer it.

“Flower? Uh–Hi, what—”

“Hi, want some company?” Flower asked, pushing his way into Sidney’s room and munching on something from his own takeout container.

Sidney just shook his head fondly at his friend as he walked by.

“Apparently that wasn’t really a question,” he said, letting the door shut and walking over to where Flower had commandeered the office chair at the desk. 

“Yeah, I guess not...” Flower said, eating a slice of what looked like potato with cheese all over it. He sounded distracted.

Sid leaned against the desk and picked up his takeout container and a plastic fork. He nodded slowly, taking a bite of his salad.

“Okay...what did you need, Flower?”

“Sid, what happened at practice? With Geno?”

Sidney looked down. “Uh...” He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to say.

“He seemed...upset when he showed up,” Flower continued, “And also when you guys talked together on the ice. Is he ok?”

Sidney looked up at the mirror above his desk. To his relief, he didn’t see any cracks in the surface, there were no extra things in his room, and his and Flower’s reflections were both in the mirror...

“I...I think he’ll be okay, Flower, he’s just...” Sidney looked away from the mirror. “He just didn’t sleep well last night.”

Flower frowned down at his potatoes, not having seemed to notice Sidney looking at his mirror.

“Nightmare, maybe?”

“I don’t know, maybe?” Sidney said, shrugging. “Why don’t you ask him?”

Flower shook his head. “I tried talking to him in the hall just now, and he did that thing again, you know? Where he wouldn’t say more than a few words? Like it’s...too hard for him to think in English?”

Sidney nodded.

“And I get that, I don’t blame him...sometimes for me it’s hard, too...but...” Flower shrugged.

“It was like...this was like talking to him when he first showed up, you know? Barely said anything?” Flower put down his fork and looked up at Sidney.

“So...I guess I got worried about him, and I wanted to ask you if you know if he’s ok.”

“I’m sorry, Flower, I don’t know any more than you do,” Sidney lied, glancing at his mirror again. 

He felt bad about lying, but he really wasn’t sure what would happen if he talked about the strange things that had been happening to him and Geno in front of an actual mirror, especially if the ones in the hotel were like the one he had in his house, and...he figured keeping Flower out of danger was worth more than his own personal comfort.

Flower didn’t quite look like he bought Sid’s excuse, but he didn’t press Sidney for more information, seeming to understand that the topic was not open for discussion. He nodded solemnly and took another bite of his cheesy potatoes.

They talked about practice as they ate the rest of their meal. They discussed their offense and defence; the potential of some of their new rookies...they laughed about how that had been them once, and...God, how had ten years passed so quickly? Sid admitted that he sometimes still felt like that wide-eyed boy who woke up every morning almost unable to believe he was actually not only staying at Mario Lemieux’s house, but playing with him in the NHL.

They didn't talk about superstitions.

 

---_/.\_---

 

Sid’s mood had lifted by the time Flower left his room; in fact, he was laughing as he bid Flower goodbye and shut the door.

Sidney walked back over to his desk and finished off the last few bites of his pasta carbonara, then threw the container in the trash.

He glanced up at his mirror. He suddenly wasn’t so sure it was safe anymore, but...he hadn’t seen anything strange in it so far. It still seemed to be normal, and he didn’t quite want to test that theory too much...just in case.

Sid looked down, thinking about what Geno must be going through...At least when Sid was at home, he could sleep on his couch to avoid his mirror, but...G was in a hotel room...he didn’t have anywhere to go to avoid his mirror...

Sidney decided he should check on Geno. He picked up his phone, but he didn’t have enough time to even open his contacts before it started ringing. Sidney didn’t recognise the number, so he almost hung up on it, but...something was telling him he needed to answer...

“Hello?”

“Ah, Mr. Crosby! It is me, Henri. How are you?”

“Wow, Henri?” Sidney was surprised to hear from the interior designer after all this time.

“I’m, uh...well, everything’s okay, I guess? What, uh...did you need?”

“Well, I...don’t know, exactly, I just...think about you recently, and I think, I really must see how he is doing,” Henri said. “So, how is the house? Everything is still working well?”

“Well...yeah, uh...” Sidney wasn’t sure what to say. Should he say something about the mirror, or not? He suddenly wondered if Henri would know what he was talking about, or if he...what if he was somehow behind all this? Sid frowned. How could he be? Even if he was somehow behind the mess in Sidney’s own mirror, he couldn’t have designed the interior of this hotel as well...It was in Washington...

“Mr. Crosby? Everything is alright?”

“Well, I uh...actually, I have a question,” Sidney said, trying to tamp down his nerves. “Uh...where did you get the mirror that’s hanging in my bedroom?”

Henri was silent for a moment. “I...bought it in an auction...why do you ask?”

“Well...” Sidney took a breath. His mouth was dry and his hand shook a bit as he held his phone to his ear, but he pressed on. “Uh, there’s a...little crack in the upper left corner, and I tried to call a repair service to fix it, but...when they showed up, they couldn’t find the crack, but when they left, it was still there...”

Sidney paused, listening for a reaction, but Henri wasn’t answering, so Sidney decided to keep talking.

“...and uh...well, I’ve been seeing some, uh...really strange things in it...things that aren't really there—“

“You be careful, Mr. Crosby,” Henri suddenly interrupted, sounding distressed. “Such mirrors like this are very sensitive to strong connections; strong emotions...if those emotions are strong enough, they can carry to—I’m sorry, I have to go...”

“W–I’m sorry, what? Carry to where? Hello?”

Sidney suddenly heard a click, and the phone line went dead.

“Hel–Hello? Hello?! Henri?“

He quickly looked at his phone screen and was surprised to see him and Geno smiling up at him from his lock screen. Sidney blinked down at the picture before his phone screen went to sleep.

“What the fuck was that all about?” he whispered to himself.

What did Henri mean by ‘mirrors like that are sensitive to strong emotions’? Mirrors like what? And ‘emotions that are strong enough can carry’? To where?

What was Henri hiding?

Sidney’s hand hesitated over his phone before he stood up and walked over to the bathroom to brush his teeth. He could try to call Henri back, but something told him that Henri was done talking about mirrors for a while. At least, that was the impression Sid had gotten from the extremely distressed tone in Henri’s voice when he’d been asked about the mirror. He’d almost sounded...angry.

As Sidney shut the bathroom door, the crack that he hadn’t noticed in his hotel room mirror got slightly wider.

It curled up from the left edge, into the shape of a U, almost resembling a crooked, crackly smile.