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Mango

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He’s sitting in the library working on his thesis. Or trying to, at least. He’s done nothing but work on it for the last twelve days, and, honestly, he’s a little burnt out. He’s so close though. His advisor reviewed his draft three days ago, and only suggested a few edits.

He just wants to be finished. But he’s so tired of staring at the stupid thing. He’d throw his laptop out the window if he knew he wouldn’t immediately regret it.

Maybe that’s a little dramatic. And maybe it’s not just his thesis frustrating him. Maybe the fact that, until this morning, the Pens have been on a ten-day West Coast road trip, playing their way through Western Canada and the California teams is also frustrating him.

Maybe he also misses Geno.

Maybe he’ll go see him after he’s done reviewing his bibliography. He looks down at the clock at the bottom right of the screen. 4:15.

Forty-five more minutes, he decides. Forty-five more minutes and he’ll pack up and head home, where surely, Geno is waiting for him. He always is, after a long road trip.

As it turns out, he doesn’t have forty-five minutes. Fifteen minutes after he makes his decision, he is pulled from his work by the sound of heavy footsteps clacking across linoleum, echoing in the high library ceilings. He glances up from the corner of his eye and a broad smile graces his face.

Geno walks toward his table, hands in his pocket, and half smiles back at him, looking nervous or maybe tired. Sid can’t tell.

He stands up from his table to meet Geno in a quick kiss.

Sid pulls back and whispers, “Hey, babe. Long time no see.”

“Hi, Sid. Missed you,” he replies softly.

“I missed you too. Nice job against Calgary. That goal in the second was gorgeous.”

Geno mumbles through his thanks and he won’t meet Sid’s eyes.

“What’s wrong, babe?” Sid asks and furrows his brows.

“Sid… I’m… maybe I do bad thing, something I shouldn’t… I’m… Please don’t be mad,” Geno mumbles.

Sid raises an eyebrow.

“It’s just… I’m see him and can’t resist… Can’t say no. Know I need say no. You will be mad, but I… He’s… he’s so cute, and sweet… I can’t say no.”

Sid stares up at Geno, heart collapsing in his chest.

“Oh,” he says softly.

“I… I bring him home.”

Sid turns his head away sharply, and bites his lip, trying to focus on steadying his breathing.

“His name is Max. He’s so nice. Most nice. And, and he’s very pretty! I don’t know why nobody take him before me. He’s so good. And give very nice kisses, and h-,”

“That’s enough!” Sid says much too loudly. Several people in the library turn to look at them, some in nosy interest, some in irritation.

Sid swallows the lump in his throat. He pushes his chair back and it scratches across the floor.

“I have to go,” he says, and begins to loudly close his laptop and his books and shove them into his bag.

“Sid?! Where you going?”

That’s a wonderful question, he thinks. Where is he going? He can’t go home. It may technically belong to both of them, but Geno paid for it. He doesn’t know where he will go, but he does know where he won’t be.

“Somewhere you aren’t,” he says, and keeps walking fast, down the stairs and past the circulation desk. He shoves open the library door, and doesn’t hold it open for Geno.

“Sid! I know you mad, but just give him chance! Meet him and I know you like him,” he pleads.

Sid stops dead in his tracks and turns around, “Meet him? Are you fucking kidding me?”

Geno’s eyebrows furrow, confused at the vitriol.

“I see you very mad. I’m most sorry. But he’s very good puppy! Know if you meet, you’ll like. Very good dog. Very sweet.”

Sid stares at Geno blankly.

Geno keeps talking, faster and faster.

“I take him back if you don’t like him. I’m sorry! Don’t leave! Or I find him new house! He’s good dog. Know somebody’s want him. Very good at listen. Don’t go, Sid. Please,” he pleads.

Sid starts laughing. He starts and he can’t stop.

“Sid?”

He drags both of his hands down his face and presses them together against his lips.

“Sid?” Geno asks again.

“You didn’t say ‘dog’.”

“What?”

“You never said ‘dog’. You just said ‘he’ and ‘him’.”

“I’m not understand you, Sid.”

Sid smiles at Geno and shakes his head, “You kept saying he was so cute and sweet and you took him home with you. I thought you were talking about a man, not a dog.”

The confusion on his face morphs into horror. He steps toward Sid and wraps his arms around him, resting his nose in Sid’s hair.

“No, Sid, never. I’m never cheat on you, Sid.”

“I know that. That’s why I was so shocked.”

“I’m sorry for big scare.”

Sid looks up at him and pushes up on his toes to press a kiss to Geno’s lips.

“You’re forgiven.”

Geno smiles down at him.

“Do you have a picture?” Sid asks.

“Hmm?”

“Of our new dog. Do you have a picture of him?”

Geno’s face lights up.

“Yes! Many pictures! So many. Most,” he rambles as he reaches into his pocket to pull out his phone.

Sid smiles, listening to Geno speak.

“When we get back, Jen says I have to come take pictures. Very quick, she says. And I’m want to go home, but she says is for help animals, so I say ‘Okay’. Then we get to animal shelter, and I’m see best dog. He’s so cute. And he’s so nice. So many kisses. I say ‘This one is mine,’ and I pay $125 and he’s come home with me.”

Geno holds out his phone and Sid can’t help but laugh at the photo.

Geno is sitting on the floor with the scraggliest looking dog Sid’s ever seen. He has wiry gray hair, one of his legs is shaved, and he’s missing an eye. His tail is a blur, mid-wag and he’s licking Geno’s face. And Geno is smiling so wide.

“They say his name Max, but I think I’m want to change. Want to call him ‘Mango’.”

Sid raises an eyebrow.

“Mango?”

“Because Mango is very sweet. Is good name, yes?”

Sid shakes his head.

“Okay. Mango. Let’s go meet him, then. Our one-eyed dog. Named ‘Mango’.”