Actions

Work Header

That's Me in the Corner, That's Me in the Spotlight.

Chapter Text

The third game in four nights had been another win but this early in the season back to backs always took it out of him more than he was comfortable with and the lines of fans outside looking for autographs and photos felt like a task he had to get through rather than the joy he normally found it after a win.

Having signed half a dozen shirts, two hats and one guy’s bicep, ’for a tattoo’ apparently, he finally made it to the end of the line and a young woman wrapped in a penguins monogramed jacket that was a good few sizes too big for her.

“Did you want?” He smiled at her and waved his pen in a ‘something signed’ kind of a way and the woman looked up at him shyly, reaching her hand to the zip on her jacket as she shook her head.

“No thanks, I just, I have something for you.” She pulled the zip to the bottom, shrugging the jacket from her shoulders and he watched in confusion for a few moments until she moved the jacket from in front of her revealing her heavily pregnant stomach.

“What? Erm… I” He tried.

“Your jacket,” she cut in quickly, “You leant it to me the night,” She waved at her stomach and Sid felt the bottom fall out of his.

Seven or eight months ago the world had been a foggy disorientated place full of headaches and dizziness, loneliness and quiet. It had been days in the house hiding from light and noise and nights of walking the streets in the dark trying to feel like part of the city despite his brain’s inability to deal with it. There was much he didn’t remember from that period but surely not enough that this could be real.

He was staring at her belly, he knew he was but he just couldn’t stop his brain spinning. “You were kind to me.” The woman reached out and touched his arm making him jump and he looked up at her face as she looked back, tired, nervous and more than a little sad.

“I was?” he asked quietly, eyes flicking from her face to her belly and back again before he mentally and physically shook himself, pulling his thoughts together and trying to force his public persona back into place.

“I didn’t really think you’d remember” she said quietly, “I hoped but.” She held out the jacket “I’ll just return this and go.”

He took the offered jacket on autopilot and watched as she turned and walked a few steps away before he shouted “Hey!” and jogged to catch her up. “Hey!” he shouted again as he reached her side, “can we talk? You didn’t just come for the jacket did you?”

“It’s ok don’t worry.” She smiled a tired smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes, “It was a daft idea thinking you’d remember.”

“Please?” he touched her arm with his hand and she flinched away, staggering sideways. “Sorry” he gasped and instinctively reached out to steady her but pulled his hands away again before he made contact.

“It’s ok.” She stammered and wrapped her hands around her arms, curling in on herself as she kept walking.

“Take the jacket,” he thrust it in her direction, “its cold.”

“That’s what you said last time,” she smiled just a little and took the jacket, slipping her arms back into the sleeves and wrapping it around herself. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have come, I just … well,” She looked down at her feet. “I didn’t know who you were when we met; I saw your photo in the paper a couple of weeks ago. You were so kind and I just.” She stopped, kicking her feet against the floor.

“I’m sorry I don’t remember you, Sorry for doing this and not remembering, I was ill, concussion.” He scrubbed his hand against his forehead, “I don’t know why I don’t remember you if we,” he waved his hand at her stomach trying to convey the ‘if we had sex’ while his brain screamed that he’d never have slept with a woman even with a mangled concussed brain.

“Oh god no!” she exclaimed grasping for his arm with one hand and cradling her belly with the other, “You didn’t, we didn’t” She said quickly. “Sorry that’s not, shit! Sorry” she stepped closer and Sid stepped backwards.

“We didn’t?” he questioned, “then what? What’s this? You said the jacket, that night.”

“I was sat on the curb crying, you sat down next to me and gave me your jacket because it was cold, you made sure I got home as well.”

Sid thought about it, wracking his brains for the memory.

“It was late, well after dark. You said something about getting fresh air without having to deal with the sun. There was a vampire joke as you sat down as well, made me smile.”

Sid nodded, the memory becoming a little clearer in his mind.

“I was crying and it was freezing so you offered me your jacket. You passed it over real careful, making sure you didn’t scare me, and you stiffened when I tried to hug you but then you wrapped your arms around me and hung on as if you needed it as much as I did.”

“You’d been mugged,” He suddenly remembered. “I leant you my phone.”

“Yeah and you called a cab and took me home, made sure I got right to the door and my friend had let me in before you left.”

“The driver thought it was weird I asked to sit up front didn’t he?” Sid laughed, a clearer picture of the night now playing in his head. “And your friend looked like she wanted to kill me.”

“She was worried, I’d disappeared on her while we were out and then I turned up in a state, no money, phone or keys, she was pissed at me for being so irresponsible.”

“You’d been mugged!” he stated matter-of-factly and then his stomach dropped into his shoes at the horrific realisation, “You hadn’t just been mugged.”

She shook her head sadly, looking away to the floor and cradling her belly with both hands, “No I hadn’t.”

“Shit!” He lifted his arms to reach for her and then pulled back, her reaction to him touching her arm springing into his head. “Sorry.” He stepped back scrubbing at his face with his hand. “I’m so sorry.”

“Hey hey,” she closed the gap between them and then carefully, as if a little scared that he might push her away, circled her arms around his waist and leant her head against his chest. “You’ve no need to be sorry, you looked after me.”

Taking her actions as permission he dropped his bag off his shoulder onto the floor behind him and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close as she relaxed into his arms.

“You still hug like you never get to,” she said as they finally separated and Sid glanced around, suddenly nervous of cameras.

“Sorry,”

“Don’t be sorry,” she smiled, “It’s sort of why I came, why I wanted to see you, to talk to you.”

“Really?”

“Could we go somewhere to talk? Somewhere quiet?”

Sid thought for a long moment, trying to work out what the best plan was given that he was rarely able to avoid other people unless he was locked in his house or hidden inside the rink.

“Just a second,” he picked up his phone, dialled a number and had a quick chat before he smiled at her, “Ice cream on the bench? It’ll be private but there’ll be other people about.”

“Sounds good to me,” she smiled and they both walked back towards the arena, Sid smiling at security as they waved them past.

~~~

“Choc chip or cookie dough?” Sid gestured at the two tubs of ice cream stood on the bench. They’d made their way quietly through the corridors, past the locker rooms, until they reached the bench, no one else around but also nowhere that Sid thought the woman might find it scary to be alone with him.

“Either, up to you.”

“I love choc chip,” he shrugged and smiled as he picked up the tub and walked a short way down the bench turning back towards her as he sat down, “So I guess you and the little one get cookie dough.”

“She’ll love it,” she picked up the tub and sat down, rubbing the top of her bump through her jacket, “Cold stuff always sends her crazy,”

“Really?”

“Cold food in my stomach means cold stomach on her bum so I can’t blame her for kicking me can I?” She laughed and then took a spoonful of her ice cream, “It’s Jane by the way.”

“Sid,” he said, “nice to meet you again Jane.”

“Good to meet you Sid,” she took another spoonful of her ice cream and then jumped slightly, her hand moving to run over the top of her bump as she smiled, “She’s enjoying the ice cream.”

“Good,”

“You want to feel,” Jane asked slowly, looking up at him nervously and Sid felt his heart do a weird skippy thing in is chest.

“If you don’t mind,” he inched closer and Jane smiled and reached for his hand as it hovered between them, pulling it to rest on her bump as she kept hold of his wrist, the baby kicking hard under his hand.

“I love her you know, love feeling her move around and feel her growing.”

Sid nodded “Must be weird having a living person inside you though?”

“Yeah,” she laughed for only a second, “Not as weird as the idea of seeing her, of cuddling her, of watching her grow.”

“For sure,” Sid agreed, “That must be a scary idea especially,” he stopped, not really knowing how to end the sentence given the circumstances.

“That’s sort of why I’m here, why I wanted to meet you when I’d recognised you.”

“Yeah,” he tried to pull his hand away, feeling the need to sit up and give her more space but she kept her grip on his wrist, not hard enough that he couldn’t pull away if he really wanted to but firm enough to indicate that she’d prefer he didn’t.

“I’ve thought about it a lot in the last seven months, the idea that a bit of him is inside me, inside her, that she may have his eyes, his smile, his hair,”

“Don’t,” Sid started to interrupt but she raised her other hand, putting her finger to his lips to stop him.

“I decided four months ago that I’m giving her up for adoption, I can’t be sure I’ll look after her like she deserves and I want her to have people who love every atom of her you know? I’ve met a few couples, spoken to them and thought about them with her but none of them were right, none of them screamed love at me, none of them felt right.”

She let go of his wrist as she reached for her ice cream, clearly stalling for a few seconds so Sid did the same, taking a large spoonful and wincing at the chill on his throat as he swallowed it far too quickly.

“When I saw your picture in the news, when I recognised you, knew who you were. I knew I had to come and see you, had to ask you.”

“Ask me what?” He ate the last of his ice cream, setting the tub down on the bench behind him.

“If you’d take her,” his eyes widened “If you wanted to take her and love her and hold her like you held me that night, hold her like you need it just as much as she does.”

“You, what? I.” Sid stuttered as Jane reached for his hand again, placing it back on her stomach where the baby was still wriggling away.

“You don’t have to say yes, I don’t even know if you have a wife or girlfriend or anything, but I just had to ask you.”

“Are you really sure? About not keeping her yourself I mean. You clearly love her; have cared for her up to now, could you not make it work?”

“I might be able to love her, I might not mind, it might be ok but my baby deserves more than might especially when the might nots are just as strong and much more dangerous. I’d like to keep in touch, to see her sometimes and know how she is and lots of the couples I met didn’t want to have to explain me to her, some just didn’t want to think about how she came to be at all. You can say no, I’ll find someone else who’s perfect for her. I just had to ask you.”

The baby kicked again and Sid felt it under his hand, his breath catching in his throat and a smile playing on his lips. “You really want this? Want to give her up to someone else?”

“Only the right people not just anyone.”

“And you think I’m the right people?”

“Yes,” she said with a surety Sid wasn’t sure he could match, “But do you?”

Sid looked at Jane, from her eyes to her belly and back again before he spoke quietly and with nerves that he rarely felt in anything. “I’ll try to be.”

~~~

Meetings with attorneys, agents, social workers, doctors and specialist nurses had filled every minute that he was in Pittsburgh and not at the rink since Jane had introduced herself four weeks ago. He’d paid for some specialist therapy for Jane, wanting her to know that she was sure about her decision, and two days before the little girl’s due date he found himself sat one side of a desk with his agent and legal people either side of him, his adoption approval documents on the desk in front of him, and the penguins GM, coach and owner on the other side.

“Should we be worried?” Mario asked with a warm smile, “This seems a little formal.”

“I hope not,” Sid smiled back at him, “I’ve hopefully made arrangements so that there should be as little effect on the organisation as possible but I guess it’s down to you three not me whether this is going to be a problem.”

“Right then,” Shero leaned forward in his seat and smiling warmly at Sid, “Tell us what’s happening and we’ll let you know if it’s a problem.”

“First you should know that I’m not here to ask I’m here to tell, if it costs me my contract then that’s ok by me.”

“You’re worrying me now,” Mario cut in, his face stoney grey and Sid stomach turned over.

“Sorry, that’s not what I want to do, you know how important the organisation is to me, how much I love it here, I just want you to understand that I’m not coming in here lightly, I know it won’t be easy and I’m asking a lot of the organisation but I’m doing this.”

“Doing what?” Blysma asked, clearly fed up with waiting.

“Ok,” Sid laughed nervously, feeling his heart start to race as he pushed the papers in front of him across the desk to Mario, “I’m about to be a dad, baby’s due in two days, she’ll need to travel with me which is where this meeting comes in, I’ll pay for everything obviously and I’ll need to work out the logistics when I’m on the ice but I’m hoping the team will help me out, Geno and Flower say they will. Obviously if you say no to her travelling that’s where these guys,” he tipped his head towards his agent and then his attorney, “come in because we’ll have to find a way to end my contract.”

“I didn’t know you were dating.” Mario said as if affronted that he hadn’t been told.

“I’m not, I haven’t, those are adoption papers, there won’t be another parent hence the need for her to travel with me.”

“Oh, yeah,” Mario nodded thoughtfully and reached for the pile of papers, lifting them up so he could read them.

“Why?” Blysma asked like he just couldn’t work out what he was hearing.

“It’s complicated and not really mine to tell but her mum thought I needed her and that I could love her more than she could, I think she’s right so this is what we’ve agreed.”

“And you’re serious about breaking your contract if we say no?”

“For sure, one hundred percent.” Sid said with certainty looking his coach right in the eye, “No other guy on the team has to choose between hockey and kids because they have girls at home to look after them for them. I don’t have that.” He left two beats of silence before he continued, “I will never have that so my choice is to do it this way or not at all and I’m choosing this.”

“We’ll make it work,” Mario shot out before the GM or Coach could say anything else and Sid nodded, smiling just slightly with relief.

“I’m not telling the world, certainly not before the legal bit’s done which will be months. I am, if this is all agreed, going to tell the team before practice.”

“Ok,” Shero nodded, “Days off? Will you need any?”

“For the birth maybe, if possible. I’m told that papers for flying can be sorted quite quickly so as long as she’s here in the next few days that should be sorted for the roadie. Other than that I can’t be sure but I’m hoping not.”

“Sleep? Naps?” Bylsma asked but Shero shook his head at him and he went quiet and sat back in his seat.

“I have no idea how you’re going to do this,” Shero smiled, “no idea at all but if anyone can it’ll be you.” He laughed and Sid finally felt himself relaxing. “I’ll speak with the league about how we charge for personal travel, we don’t want an accidental cap scandal, I’ll come up with something to tell them about why, and we’ll get the equipment guy to sort you another kit bag and a trunk for the stuff you need so it’s not obvious in transit. Hiding the real life living human is all down to you and the boys though.” He laughed, “I’m sure they’ll all have ideas, some more useful that others.”

 

~~~

 

Sid stood up and the room dropped quiet, “Just before skate I need to tell you all something, Flower and Geno know what I’m going to say because I needed their help with it and I told Coach and the front office this morning so I didn’t want you to hear it anywhere else and I don’t want you to tell anyone outside of here, partners exempt as always, but I’m, hopefully, going to be a dad by the end of the week.”

The silence in the room broke suddenly, the room erupting in cheers and congratulations until Sid raised his hand to quieten them down.

“I’m glad you’re happy for me,”

“Didn’t even know you were dating Cap,” someone shouted, “Too injured to play but fit enough to fuck yea Cap” came from somewhere else. “We get to meet the girl who finally turned the kid into a man?”

Sid closed his eyes and swallowed hard, clenching and unclenching his fists by his sides before he spoke again, trying to ignore the other voices.

“It’s not going to be easy and it is going to impact on the team because she’s going to travel with me but I’ll do my best to make sure it doesn’t change things on the ice.”

“Will be fine,” Geno cut in, “We all help with baby, someone always scratched, they cuddle her while you play.”

“Yeah,” Flower agreed, “V’s been looking at seats for on the bench for practice so she can watch.”

Sid flashed a smile at both of them; thankful that he had them in the room and then closed his eyes again, preferring not to know which mouth the shit he was suddenly bombarded with was coming from.

“Where’s the mother? You’ve not kicked her out even before the birth have you Cap?”

“Clearly he’s a Fuck ‘em and leave ‘em kind of guy, not smart enough to know you leave the kid behind though.”

“Is she pretty, or is the kid relying on your boyish good looks?”

The room suddenly dropped silent, tension rising, and Sid cracked one eye open to see what was happening before opening them both a taking a step towards Geno who was on his feet, staring around the room, looking ready to fight anyone who opened their mouth.

“Next time someone come in here say have baby I’m ask, where fuck? What position? Who come first? You tell me shut up, not mine know.” He glared around the room, making eye contact with every man. “So here now you shut up, not yours know! She Sid’s baby, she born soon, she travel with team and we all make work!” He was shouting by the last and all eyes were on him, clearly listening, and when he stopped speaking everyone nodded, wide eyed at him. “Good! Now skate!”

 

~~~

 

The goal buzzer sounded as Sid sank the puck five hole, ten twenty four into the third period from a pass by Tanger and crashed into the boards, hands in the air, surrounded by his line mates before he took fist bumps down the bench and then walked through the gate and directly down the tunnel to the room.

He’d taken Jane to hospital just after lunchtime and stayed with her until he was almost sure he was going to be late for warm ups – screw his routine this was his baby – and Blysma had agreed to him leaving the game ten minutes before the end of period three so that he could be out of the arena before press or fans made it more difficult and he was glad to have played his part, scoring two of the three they had on the board, before the moment came.

“Just drop your stuff, I’ll sort it.” Jake the equipment assistant said as he started stripping his gear off and for the first time ever Sid decided to take him up on the offer, smiling at him gratefully and tossing his gear into a pile on the floor as he raced for the shower.

“Neal just got another,” Jake said as Sid moved back through the room.

“Don’t need me at all do they,” Sid laughed and Jake shook his head and rolled his eyes.

“Good luck.”

“Thanks,” He pulled a cap onto his head and waved at Jake as he made his way quickly out of the locker room, through the corridors to the car park and to his car where he waved at the security guard and set off across the city as fast as he could.

~~~

 

“She’s not here yet, don’t panic.” Jane turned to look at him as he came through the hospital room door and reached for his hand. “She’s been waiting for you.”

Squeezing her hand and dropping his bag into the seat next to the bed he leaned in and kissed her gently on the temple, “what can I do?”

“You good at magic?”

“Nah sorry,” he shook his head and kissed her cheek, “this is all on you I’m afraid.”

“Rub my back,” she suddenly gasped, her eyes closing and breathing becoming deeper and much more deliberate, clearly overcome with the wave of a contraction so he moved his hand to her back, right over his pelvis, and rubbed hard backwards and forwards just like the maternity nurse had shown them in their speedily arranged birthing classes and after what felt like an hour but was closer to a minute she relaxed again and turned her head to look at him, “I’m glad you made it.”

“Me too,”

“Did you score? Did you win?”

“I did yeah, and I think so, honestly haven’t looked since I left.”

“Really?” she asked, clearly slightly shocked.

“Yeah, really. Some things are more impor” he cut himself off as Jane’s body tensed again, moving to concentrate on rubbing her back and watching the clock until she relaxed again.

“I did some reading,” she started as her breathing settling again, “When I realised who you were. Didn’t seem like the kind of person who’d ever think that.”

“Never have before,” he admitted with a shrug, “suspect I’ll think it a lot more from now on.”

“Yeah,” she stood up straight and took a few steps towards the bed, changing her position and trying to get more comfortable, “I hope you will.”

The next contraction came only a few seconds later and once it was over Jane asked him to call for assistance, the contractions so close that she was sure it wouldn’t be long before she needed their help and she was right, the whole thing speeding up around them as Jane moved onto the bed, staff arriving for the delivery and Sid being nudged by the nurses and dragged by Jane’s hand until he was in the perfect position for her to brace against his arm and to work with her body to push the little girl into the world.

“No!” Jane gasped as the baby was born and the nurse tried to lay her on her chest “give her to her dad.”

“Sorry,” the nurse moved to lay the baby on the bed “just a minute,” the nurse assured her, “we just need to cut the cord and get her wrapped up.”

“Shirt off,” she looked up at Sid, “take your shirt off” and then at the nurse, “Don’t wrap her up.”

“Okay,” the nurse nodded, cutting the cord and, when Sid had dropped his shirt onto the chair behind him, she handed the baby to him, helping him adjust his arms correctly, and draped a blanket over them both to keep them warm.

“She’s beautiful,” Sid whispered, “So beautiful.” And Jane nodded up at him, tears running down her face as she watched him with an intensity he would normally find uncomfortable. “So tiny, so perfect.”

“Thank you,” she smiled, reaching up to squeeze gently at his arm.

“That’s my line,” he spoke without looking away from the baby.

“No it’s not, it’s really really not. Thank you for looking at her just like she deserves.”

“I love her,” he whispered in awe, “I promise to look after her.” He leaned down to kiss Jane gently on the forehead, carefully covering the baby with the blanket as he did it.

“Thank you” she whispered again and he stepped back, “I’ll ring when I can face seeing her, you don’t have to let me though.”

“Whenever you’re ready, anytime, just let me know and we’ll arrange it ok. When you’re ready.”

“Go on; take her next door while I finish off the mucky bit, my friend’s just ten minutes away, I’ll get the nurse to call.”

“I’ll call her and wait ‘til she gets here.”

“Sidney,” Jane fixed him with a look that brooked no disagreement, “I need you to take your daughter out of here, please.”

“Shit!” He stuttered, “I’m sorry, Shit, I just didn’t want to leave you alone.”

“I know,” she smiled at him, reaching up and squeezing his arm “And that’s entirely why we’re here, why you’re taking that little girl now and giving her the life she, and you, deserve. Go get her checked and take her home.”

“Okay,” he nodded and then, with the help of the nurse who carried his bag and shirt for him he disappeared through the adjoining door into a room of his own where he settled into a chair and stared at his daughter.

Chapter Text

Geno: Let me know when she born, I come see? Be first? :)

To Geno: Did we win? She’s beautiful; you’ll be second though, after me ;-)

Geno: I always second! After you ok though :) I come?

To Geno: Yeah, if you have time but don’t you want sleep after the game? or food? I’ll be home soon, could come by in the morning.

Geno: I get lift, see baby, drive you home, then we eat, you play too and have baby.

To Geno: I didn’t really have a baby, Jane did the hard work!

Geno: you have baby now, I help, if ok?

To Geno: Yeah G, That’s always ok :-D I’ll put your name on the door ;-)

Geno: Name on door?

To Geno: I’ll let them know you’re coming, security is tighter around maternity, they don’t want babies going missing!

Geno: Ok I get I think. Be there soon.

~~~

 

PensFan7187 (21.47) Anyone know where Crosby went in the third? #Penguins #Sidneycrosby #pleasedontbehurtagain.

Cr0sby (21.52) @pensfan7187 he looked ok, scored just before he disappeared, sick maybe?

PensNews: (22.04) Crosby leaves game 10.24 into third and is unavailable for press tonight.

PensFan7187 (23.07) @cr0sby no press either, I’m worried now :-(

Cr0sby (23.09) @pensfan7187 Me too!

 

PensGossip: (5.37) Crosby and Malkin Photographed in hospital car park, Crosby’s arm seemingly strapped up inside his jacket. With an off day today it’s unlikely we’ll receive an update on what looks like an upper body injury until tomorrow.

PensFan7187 (7.35) @Cr0sby tell me I’m not the only one having flashbacks to his concussion!

Cr0sby (7.39) @PensFan7187 Not just you :-( Hope he’s ok. Nice to see Geno looking after him though!

PensFan7187 (7.42) @Cr0sby Yup! :-D

~~~

“You ever feed baby?” Geno asked as he sat down on the couch a cushion away from Sid who was trying to arrange the baby in his arms while she cried, desperately in need of her first feed, and looking slightly concerned.

“No,” he shook his head, “never and I’m clearly not a natural!”

“You do good, but maybe I help?”

Sid smiled and nodded and Geno put the bottle in his hand down on the couch, resting on Sid’s thigh, and dropped to his knees on the floor in front of him, reaching out to help reposition her in Sid’s arms until she was supported between his arm and his chest and his other hand was finally free to pick up the bottle. “Now just put to lips, she drink.” He nodded encouragingly up at Sid as he did as he was told and the crying stopping, replaced by soft sucking sounds.

“See, you perfect.” Geno winked up at him and then pushed up to his feet, “I make food while you feed.”

“You don’t have to,” Sid shouted after him as Geno left the room and smiled when “Want to.” Was shouted back.

 

“So baby girl, how’s the world treating you in your first few hours? I hope I’m not doing too badly?” The baby was looking up at him as she drank her milk, her eyes dark blue, maybe brown, and he couldn’t take his eyes away, didn’t want to. “This is all as new to me as it is to you, I’ll do my very best not to get things wrong but I probably will.” He leant down and kissed her forehead softly, breathing her in as she continued to drink her milk.

“She finished? I make pasta,” Geno set two plates down on the table in front of Sid.

“Just about, how long have I been sat here looking at her?” Sid looked up laughing nervously

“Just long as she need to eat.” Geno smiled, “Now daddy’s turn.” He reached out as if to take the baby but pulled back suddenly, a panicked look on his face. “Did I, I say wrong?”

“No,” Sid whispered, turning his face into his shoulder trying to wipe his eyes which were suddenly running with tears, “Not wrong, just hadn’t thought about hearing it.”

“Hearing you daddy?” He asked carefully, sitting down close enough to nudge their shoulders together. Sid nodded. “You her daddy, you be best daddy, I teach her say.”

“Not this week,” Sid laughed wetly.

“No,” Geno nodded, “I say for now, she learn later.”

“Ok,” Sid looked at him for longer than maybe he should and then nodded, “Thank you.”

“No thank just eat,” he finally reached for the baby and Sid let her go, watching as Geno lifted her to his shoulder, tucking her close into his neck and patting her back. “Baby think daddy need eat yes,” Geno whisper spoke to her and looked pointedly at Sid who was still watching them rather than picking up his plate.

“Sorry,” he grabbed the plate, bringing it to balance on his knee, and stuck a forkful in his mouth, chewing quickly as he watched Geno with his daughter, hoping he remembered how to do that in a few hours’ time when she needed feeding again.,

“This is tasty, thanks for doing it for me.”

“Glad you like, more in fridge for tomorrow,” Geno grinned, “Easy to make more so you have leftover.”

“Thanks,” Sid screwed his eyes up tight and took a breath trying to control the sudden bolt of feelings he was experiencing.

“Good girl,” Geno said softly just after the baby let out a burp bigger than should ever have been possible for such a small body. “You do so well, learn to eat. Better at than Daddy.” He eyed Sid’s plate again, still half full and Sid fixed on watching the baby, “we show him how?” The baby wriggled against his chest and Geno gently lowered her down and lay her on the couch cushion between then before he reached for his plate and tucked in like a guy who’d played a hockey game a couple of hours ago.

~~~

 

66: Day to Day UBI or Week to week?

To 66: What? Confused, not had much sleep!!

66: You were photographed leaving the hospital with Geno, whose idea was the shoulder injury?

To 66: Gotta love photos!! Glad the plan worked though :-D You gonna come meet her?

66: yes! When? (Not that I was hinting by texting ;-) )

To 66: Now if you want, you might have to wrestle Geno for her but I’m sure he’ll be gentle with you.

66: He’ll never say no to Nathalie, see you soon.

 

“Eat while text,” Geno put a bowl of fruit and a plate of scrambled eggs and toast down on the island next to where Sid was leaning, the baby resting cradled against his chest, “I hold?”

“Finished now,” he put the phone down and picked up his fork in his now empty hand, “so you can eat too.” Geno’s smile dropped just slightly as he turned back to the stove and served up his own breakfast, putting it down across from Sid’s and setting about it with his knife and fork as Sid tried his best not to spill too badly as he ate one handed.

“I take her now?” Geno asked cautiously just as he swallowed the last mouthful of toast and Sid laughed.

“Thank you,” he released his hold on her as Geno lifted her into his arms, laying her along his forearm so that she was looking at Sid.

“No thank, get sick of me soon.” He laughed and Sid quickly filled his mouth with a whole piece of Pineapple before his stupid sleep deprived brain made his mouth say something completely ridiculous. “I’m like babies, like this baby most, so I cuddle when you let.”

“Any time G,” Sid replied before clarifying, “although Mario will be round in a few minutes and Nathalie will probably wrestle her out of your arms for a bit.”

“You need feed her before they come? You should be hold when they here, I go, come back later?”

Sid thought for a minute, while he finished the last of his fruit and watched Geno rock gently side to side cradling the baby who looked quite content led on his arm. It was nearly three hours since her last bottle which meant it was likely she’d be screaming by the time Mario arrived and that wouldn’t be the first impression of his daughter he’d hope for with his sort of parents, kind of mentor, definitely friends.

“If I make a bottle you fancy feeding her while I shower?”

“You trust me?”

“Yeah,” Sid jumped up and put the kettle on to boil, “you showed me how so you clearly know. She looks comfy and I really stink, I always shower again at home after a game and I was a bit busy last night, didn’t want to leave her on her own you know.”

Geno walked closer and sniffed loudly, “Yes, daddy real stink hey baby?”

“No ganging up on me,” Sid side eyed him and smirked, “go sit, I’ll bring this in a minute and then I’ll work on not stinking while this little one,” he turned his attention to the baby, touching her cheek and then leaning down to kiss her gently on the forehead, “makes uncle G smell of milk and baby sick.”

Sid didn’t look up as he turned back to the counter, suddenly worried that he shouldn’t have said that, shouldn’t have laid the uncle card on the table just like that, not that Flower and V wouldn’t be uncle and aunt as well, and Mario and Nathalie would be something, as would his parents if he ever actually told them about his daughter but he probably should have asked first.

“Uncle G” Geno whispered and then, slightly louder as he walked out of the kitchen towards the couch, “Uncle G happy smell like best baby.”

 

~~~

“Flower and V are coming at four and, apparently, the whole team and their families are coming at five for a baby shower.”

Nathalie laughed and the baby wriggled in her arms, disturbed slightly in her sleep, “You don’t sound so sure about that.”

“I’m not! I know the wives do that sort of thing for each other before babies are born but the guys keep out the way best they can so how’s this going to work?”

“The ladies might want you to know you have their support maybe?” She spoke quietly, trying not to disturb the baby any more, “They help each other with babies and children, people who understand fitting kids around hockey, there might not be a mum here but she’s still a penguin baby, she’s still part of the group.”

“You think?” His eyes moved from Nathalie to Mario and back again as they both nodded. “Okay then.” He took a breath, “I’ll try not to worry, I should probably tidy up a bit though.”

“Tidy up?” Mario glanced around the room and Sid prayed that he didn’t mention Geno’s shirt, covered in baby fluids and rolled up on the side table where he’d left it before he’d pulled on Sid’s Steelers hoody and gone home to change. “If you think this is a mess you won’t know what to do with yourself in a month.”

“I’m trying not to think about that!” Sid laughed nervously, “I’ve had to stop the cleaning service, at least until I tell my parents, you know.”

“You’ve not told them?” She asked it quietly but Sid still heard the accusation in her tone.

“Not yet, they won’t like it”

“Won’t like their granddaughter?” Mario sat forward in his seat.

“They want me on a long term contract and married before I risk letting a kid get in my way.” The last bit was a mimic of the conversation he’d heard about his dad having last Christmas. “I’ve missed a lot of time with injury and my contract’s nearly up. If her travelling with me doesn’t work.” He took a breath, “If I can’t make this work then I’ve wasted everything they ever did for me. I don’t need that pressure right now or the risk that they’d want to come and help which would no doubt mean leaving her here with them for roadies and that’s not what I want, not what Jane wanted for her.”

“This will work,” Nathalie said with a certainty Sid didn’t feel, “Team, wives, staff and owners,” she looked at Mario who was clearly itching to cuddle the baby but wasn’t quite brave enough to try and take her from his wife. “They’ll all help, all like babies.” She finally handed to baby the Mario and then she crossed the room to wrap her arms around Sid’s shoulders cuddling him into her as she stood in front of his chair. “I believe in you Sidney, you’ll make this work.”

~~~

“My aunt swore by hers when the hubby was away so I thought.” Tanger looked nervous as Sid turned the fabric over in his hands.

“So it ties up and then she goes in it somehow?”

“That’s it, means you have your hands free without putting her down so you can do things and I thought it might work for hiding her while she’s small. She might fit under your hoody at team dinner or. You know.”

Sid smiled at Tanger and stood up; offering him the sheet of instructions, “help me work it out?”

“Yeah,” he smiled, visibly relaxing, “It can’t be too hard can it, women work it out all the time.” He laughed and ducked as a volley of nappies, baby clothes, wipes and, in Catherine’s case, a large packet of snack bars were thrown at his head.

“You appreciate that I’m going to need these women for about four million different things over the next few months don’t you? Please don’t wind them up before I get started.”

“We won’t hold it against you as long as we get baby cuddles in return,”

“That sounds like fair exchange to me if you can get her away from G.”

“She need feed,” Geno mock glared at him from his seat on the couch, the baby led in his arms finishing her milk “I’m hand her over be sick on someone soon.”

“I’ll take her,” V stood up and Geno passed the baby to her and then vacated his seat so that she could take his place.

“Fire up grill Sid?” Geno asked and Flower, Neal and half a dozen other guys who were scattered around the room jumped to their feet to go and help.

“Don’t use anything from the freezer,” Catherine shouted after them and a couple of the other girlfriends who’d come to visit, those Sid didn’t know well but was grateful for the support of, ran off after the guys. “There are fifteen maybe twenty individual hockey player sized pasta meals in your freezer, just set for the oven, you’ll need meat and fresh veg and stuff but they’ll do you when you just need something quick.”

“Did you?” He started to ask and then stopped to swallow around the lump in his throat and to close his eyes against the tears that started to spring there. “Thank you for doing that.”

“It’s nothing,” three people chorused at once, “just made an extra portion last night and boxed it up.”

“You all did?”

“Yup!” V said with a smile, “the single guys are planning to call in and fire up the grill,” she tipped her head in the direction many of them had just gone, “To do their share and you can expect dinner invites, or in our case just open house like always, but they’ll be times you don’t want to see people, times you want to curl up just the two of you and, with all the games and skate and training, you won’t have a lot of opportunity so we just wanted to know you had easy food to keep you going on those days.”

“That’s kind, really kind, thank you.”

“Don’t mention it,” everyone nodded in agreement to V’s words, “you can say thanks to us all right now though by standing there like a human statue while Kris tries to work out those really easy instructions he’s been secretly studying all the time we’ve been talking.”

“I haven’t,” Kris dropped the paper to his side, “Just seeing if there was a French version.”

“Is there?” Sid raised his eyebrows and handed the long elasticated fabric strip over.

“No!”

 

After ten minutes of being wrapped and unwrapped like a weirdly shaped Christmas present Sid gave up on Tanger, asking Catherine to show him how it was done, and with a crossover on his back, another on his front and a double knot just over his left hip he was finally ready to try it out on his daughter.

“Just tuck her in there,” Catherine pointed to the pocket of fabric they’d made across his chest, “as you’d lay her on your arm and then pull the other side up over her so she doesn’t fall out when you lean forward.”

He did as he was told and then, once she’d checked it for him, he took his arms away and the baby stayed, safe, sound and fast asleep against his chest and he kissed her forehead before leaning forwards and kissing Catherine’s cheek.

“Good gift then?” Tanger asked and Sid smiled and nodded.

 

The island in the kitchen was overflowing with salads, vegetable, cold meats, bread and a mixture of pasta salads, and the meat on the grill smelt delicious by the time the whole group made their way in that direction and Sid suddenly felt very hungry.

He laughed and talked as he ate, surrounded by his team and his friends, his daughter moving between her carrier on his chest and the arms of one person after another taking turns to hold, feed, burp and in V and Catherine’s case to change nappies because they really were good friends and Sid wasn’t going to turn down help with two of what might be thousands of nappies he’d change in the next three years but as the sun began to go down and people filtered home he was struck by a sudden realisation that this time, for the first time, when all the team had gone, when they’d taken their coats and shoes, their kids, their noise and all the things that they normally brought to his house for team parties, this time for the very first time, they wouldn’t be leaving him all alone.

Chapter Text

“I know it’s early,” Sid grinned at Sophie as she opened her eyes, “I won’t be long,” he drew a deep breath and took his hand from the handle bars of the stationary bike to wipe the sweat from his forehead. “I just need two more miles baby then I’ll do your milk, I promise.”

Sophie stretched and squirmed against the floor and shut her eyes again and Sid focused on the bike trying to finish his pre-skate workout in record time.

By the time Sophie opened her eyes again Sid had completed his cardio and his weights so he scooped her up off the floor and snuggled her under his chin, “I’ve got you now beautiful, lets get that tummy filled up before everyone arrives shall we?”

Sophie coughed and whimpered against his chest as he fiddled, one handed, with the top of a bottle trying to open it so that he could fill it with the carton of ready-made formula he’s brought with him.

“Sorry, I’m not good at this yet sweetheart,” he whispered, trying to sooth her, “I’ll get better with practice, I promise.”

“He practice lots, till be perfect” Geno’s voice startled Sid and he dropped the still capped bottle on the floor. “I get.” He leaned down to pick it up, “Sorry I scare.”

“Just wasn’t expecting you yet,” Sid smiled, bouncing Sophie against his chest as her whimpers turned into more of a cry, “You’re not normally in by now.”

“I think you come early, before people might see, train while baby sleep, so I come see if can help.”

“That’s sweet,” Sid said and the looked away, cheeks warming uncomfortably, “I mean, thanks.”

“No thank,” Geno had the bottle filled with milk and the rest of the carton in the fridge before Sid even noticed. “Feed baby,” He smiled as he handed over the bottle, “feed in gym? I do weights?”

“For sure,” Sid nodded and followed Geno down the corridor to the gym where he sat down on one of the benches while Geno laid himself out on the other, breathing deeply as he completed his first set.

“This your weight?”

“Yeah, sorry, I got distracted.”

“No sorry, is good weight.” He grinned, eyes bright as her lifted the bar from the rack to begin a second set as Sid settled Sophie in his arms and gave her her bottle. “She sleep?” he asked between lifts.

“A bit, I fed her after everyone went home and then we went to bed, she woke once and went back down ok but when she woke again I thought we might as well come in, we’ll nap later hopefully, not like afternoon naps aren’t a thing I’m used to.” He laughed and Geno joined him as he sat up on the bench and moved to do some work on his legs.

“We already sleep like babies, she fit in well.”

“Nathalie says hers slept a lot the first forty eight hours as if they were tired from the birth but it didn’t last so I’m not hopeful.”

“We make work,” Geno said with certainty as he worked on his quads and then stuttered, “I mean, you make work, know you can.”

“Thanks G,” Sid looked away from where Geno was still working up a sweat and down at Sophie who was making her way through her bottle, her eyes now closed, “it means a lot, that you think I can.”

“Know you can.” Geno asserted mid rep, “Help if want but know you do good.”

Geno had completed his full weight set and a couple of miles warm up on the bike by the time Sophie was finished so they made their way back to the locker room, hiding the bottle in the baby bag and the bag in the trunk her car seat, bouncy chair and wrap were going to hide in around the arena and then they walked up the stairs to the video room, hearing the noise and chatter of their teammates increase as they approached.

“We thought you were going to be late.” Neal shouted as they came through the door, “Didn’t see you come in.”

“We’ve been here a few hours,” Sid rubbed Sophie’s back as she rested upright against his chest, “Got to fit my training around this little lady now.” Sophie burped at that as if on purpose and some of the guys laughed while others just looked at him confused.

“You’ve been training?” Orpik asked

“Yeah,”

“She’s not two days old!”

Sid tried not to show his confusion at the statement; Sophie’s age didn’t really seem relevant to the fact that it was a game day tomorrow. “She had me up at five and who’s around at five to see us come in?” He shrugged, “made sense to make use of the time.”

“Makes sense to me.” Tanger clapped Sid on the shoulder and winked at him as he walked past to take his seat, “Coach is on his way up.”

Everyone moved at that, taking their seats ready for coach’s arrival, and Sid made his way to the back of the room, where he could stand up without blocking anyone’s view if he needed to, and Geno sat himself two seats away, dropping a blanket and a packet of wipes in the seat between them with a smile and a nod.

~~~

 

PensNews (10.36) Full attendance at practice,

Cr0sby (10.43) @PensNews Is Crosby full contact?

PensFan7187 (10.44) @PensNews Crosby no contact?

Cr0sby (10.47) @PensFan7187 great minds think alike ;)

PensFan7187 (10.50) @Cr0sby yeah :D I hope full attendance means he’s ok after the hospital visit!

Cr0sby (10.51) @PensFan7187 Hope so, hopefully someone will ask him after skate!

 

PensNews (12.04) ‘Nothing effect Sidney’s game’ says Malkin in post skate press when asked about the photos from the hospital carpark.

PensGossip (12.15) Crosby was with the trainers during press, Malkin says he’s ok to play while Blysma says game time decision on everyone so who knows? I suppose it might all be a ruse for the Capitals.

~~~

“Matinee games are the worst!” Sid said to the roof as his alarm went off next to him, not that he was asleep, or had been asleep for the last hour. “The absolute worst baby girl,” he rubbed Sophie’s back as she wriggled against his chest, snuffling tears into his neck. “We’ll be home in time for our afternoon nap though I guess.” He kissed her head where he could reach and then pushed himself up to sitting, reaching for his phone to silence the next alarm that was due in five minutes.

66: I’ll meet you in the locker room between warm-ups and the game :-)

“Looks like papa Mario is rather excited about babysitting today.” He laughed and snuggled Sophie closer. “He’ll be good to you while Daddy plays hockey ok.” Sophie wriggled against him, coughing up a few more tears as he typed a message back.

To 66: Jake says he’ll finish her feed if I need him to and I’ll have the wrap with me from getting in.

66: Nathalie picked me out a jumper! As long as she sleeps we’ll be fine and if not I’ll just pretend it’s my stomach making noises ;)

To 66: We’ll win in regulation I promise.

66: Wow! What happened to the don’t talk about the result superstition?

To 66: the same thing that happened to the being at the rink exactly 3.5 hours before puck drop one! She’s called Sophie!

66: :-D I’ll stop delaying you both xx

 

~~~

“Give,” Geno made grabby hands at Sid as he pulled off his tie, unbuttoned the top few buttons of his shirt and lifted Sophie out from where she was wrapped against his chest, “you late so I make. Eat.” He gestured at the sandwich on a small plate on the counter in the kitchen. “Not perfect but try.”

“You did this for me?” Sid asked, wide eyed as he handed the baby over.

“Best baby make you late,” Geno grinned at Sophie and lifted her up above his head, sticking his tongue out at her as he brought her back down “is important,” he repeated the action, “So I make then uncle G get play with best baby”

Bringing her back down in front of him Geno stuck his tongue out again and made a noise that made Sophie look at him and Sid laugh.

“She didn’t sleep as well last night,” he spoke around a mouthful of PB&J, “the forty eight hours sleeping thing is over it seems, it’s nice to see her eyes though.”

“Beautiful eyes, beautiful baby, but should sleep, daddy need sleep be best captain.”

“I won’t let you down G, I promise.”

“No need promise, just eat.” Geno grinned and moved towards the door to the gym, “We see daddy on bike after he change yes?” Geno asked Sophie and then looked at Sid for his nod of agreement, “You help uncle G warm yes.”

 

Sophie was led on the floor between two bikes when Sid arrived, Neal, Orpik, Tanger and Flower all engaging in their pregame warm ups while chatting away to her as if she was an active part of the conversation and his breath caught in his throat, the emotions of it, his friends and teammates looking after his daughter for him, just a little too much for him.

After a moment he shook himself and jumped up on the bike next to Geno, speeding up and matching his pace within a minute, not making any attempt to interrupt the conversation going on around him as he let his mind calm and settle into the final stages of his pre ice routine.

 

Flower was the first to leave the gym and he crouched down next to Sophie, touching his thumb to her forehead for a few seconds before standing up and heading out to pull on the many layers of goalie protection. Tanger and Orpik finished next, heading to the small conference room for the D specific pregame chat and Tanger did exactly as Flower had done, crouching between Sid and Geno’s bikes and touching Sophie’s forehead for a long moment before he stood up and left and Sid watched him go wondering what had got into his friends.

“Time to go baby girl,” Sid slowed to a stop and stepped down from the bike, scooping Sophie up and looking her in her still open eyes with a smile, “Daddy’s got to suit up and skate and you’ve got to eat and then be good for Papa Mario Ok?”

“I get bottle,” Geno jumped down next to Sid, wiped his arm across his forehead and set off at almost a jog towards the kitchen in search of Sophie’s pre game milk.

“He’s a helpful one your Uncle G Sophie,” He whispered in his daughters ear as he watched Geno disappear “I think he likes you.”

 

~~~

PensNews: (12.31) Our Captain with the opening goal of the game, scored on the powerplay at 6.14 in the first. Apple to Malkin secondary Orpik.

PensNews: (12.37) Crosby doubles the lead at 7.34 with an unassisted goal.

Cr0sby (12.38) @PensFan7187 nothing wrong with that shoulder is seems! :-D

PensFan7187 (12.42) @Cr0sby nothing stops the kid! Hatrick?

Cr0sby (12.45) @PensFan7187 he certainly looks to be trying for it.

PensNews: (12.58) Shots 14-7 at the end of the first, Your Penguins up 2-0

PensNews: (13.52) Fleury saved all but one shot in the second, Penguins lead the Capitals 2-1 heading into the third.

Cr0sby (14.17) @PensFan7187 Ovi’s getting frustrated ;) he makes me laugh when he’s angry but he also seems to score more like that.

PensFan7187 (14.19) @Cr0sby Please don’t say that, this is so stressful, one goal games are the worst!

PensNews: (14.31) Neal misses the empty net with 54 seconds to go. Still 2-1 to the Penguins.

PensNews: (14.35) Penguins hold on to beat the Capitals 2-1 in regulation.

 

PensFan7187 (15.05) @Cr0sby No mention of the injury at all in press, the confused look he gave the ESPN reporter when he asked about it made me laugh out loud! :D

Cr0sby (15.07) @PensFan7187 He didn’t play like he was injured so let just pretend the photos don’t exist!

PensFan7187 (15.09) @Cr0sby Maybe they weren’t yesterday, could have been taken any time, maybe someone just put them out to worry us.

Cr0sby (15.11) @PensFan7187 That would make sense actually! I’m going to choose to believe that I’m also going to enjoy the rest of the afternoon :-D

PensFan7187 (15.14) @Cr0sby me too! Enjoy :-D

 

~~~

 

“Could you drop something off for me on your way home?” Sid asked Geno as he slung his bag up onto his shoulder, “It’s not much out of your way.”

“What is?” he took the small white envelope from Sid’s hand and turned it over looking at the address.

“It’s just,” Sid stopped, looking away from Geno and rubbing his empty hand against the back of his neck. “It’s a photo of Sophie, for Jane, for when she’s ready to look.” Sid still didn’t look up, really not wanting to see Geno’s reaction.

“She not already see?” Geno asked, sounding confused and slightly frustrated by his own confusion. “When she hold after she born?”

“She didn’t hold her,” Sid stopped again, tightening his arm just slightly around Sophie and resisting the urge to turn away, his stomach lurching and turning like it wanted to expel the post-game lunch Geno had just cooked for them. “She was scared, she didn’t want to see her, she was scared what she might look like.” He finally looked up and met Geno’s eyes, begging him to understand without him needing to explain any further. “She was scared that she might look like him.”

Sid saw the exact moment the pieces fell into place for Geno. It was the moment that his face turned white and he stepped closer placing his hand protectively on Sophie’s back where she sat against Sid’s chest.

“I take for her.” He nodded, smiling just slightly at Sid and then he wrapped his free arm around Sid’s back and pulled him into his chest holding them both close and swaying gently for long enough that Sid’s tired, post-game pre-nap, body gave in and sagged into the hold, resting his head against Geno’s shoulder and closing his eyes. “I’m go drop,” Geno whispered into Sid’s hair, squeezed his arms tighter, “You two go sleep, eat, sleep more and I come make breakfast yes?”

Sid took one last breath against Geno’s chest trying, not too obviously, to breathe him in, and then he adjusted some of his weight back onto his own feet but not pulling away from Geno’s arms. “Should we eat at the rink?” He looked up just slightly, making eye contact with Geno. “Then if this little bundle is awake early I can get my workout in first and I can get into the place before press and fans are around. I have to take some advantage of the early mornings.” He grinned and laughed and Geno smiled back at him.

“Ok,” Geno nodded, “Text when she wake and I come meet; you sleep, eat and sleep till then though.”

“I will,” Sid nodded “I promise,” he added accidentally, “I’ll have one of the pasta dishes out of the freezer for dinner so I won’t even have to spend time making it.”

“Good,” Geno nodded and smiled again and then leant down to kiss the top of Sophie’s head before he release his hold on them both and moved away towards the door. “Sleep well for daddy beautiful baby.”

 

~~~

Jane: Thank you for the envelope, I assume that there are photos inside? Thanks for the flowers as well.

To Jane: Flowers? There are two pictures in the envelope like I promised :)

Jane: The ones you left with the envelope, they’re lovely but I still say it should be me saying thank you.

To Jane: Was there a card with them? I got a friend to drop the pictures off, I didn’t want to risk running into you. She’s here for you to meet when you’re ready but I didn’t want to accidentally force you into it. Xx

Jane: You’re so thoughtful, even more than I hoped! The card says ‘she beautiful, thank you.’ Did you not send them?

To Jane: no but I think I know who did :)

 

To G: Did you buy Jane flowers?

G: Sorry if upset, did not mean.

To G: She isn’t upset, she said they were lovely. I was confused though!

G: Sorry, know not my place, just thought she deserve nice things, say thank for best baby.

To G: That’s really sweet G, Thank you.

G: sweet? You sleep? Don’t forget eat.

To G: it means nice or kind or something like that :) Pasta’s in the oven, Sophie’s just finishing her milk.

To G: [picture attached, Sophie lying on his arm, almost empty bottle in her mouth and eyes closed]

G: She beautiful. Hope she sleeps night :) text for breakfast.

To G: I’ll message the second we’re up.

G: Good :-D

~~~

 

“I think you need this more than me.” Tanger laughed as he handed Geno a cup of coffee.

“Thank you,” he drank three big gulps and then handed the cup back to Tanger, “You hold?”

Tanger nodded and sat down a couple of seats away watching Sophie as she wriggled restlessly in Geno’s arm, “How’s things going? Sid doing ok with this little one?”

“He do good, baby awake early so he come in and train, I say text when she wake so I come in and he did, five thirty seven!”

“Wow G!” Tanger laughed “Swap? Coffee for baby.”

“I’ll take her,” Sid hurried over from the counter where he’d been finishing up his cereal, “Sorry G, I didn’t mean to.”

“Is ok, not worry.” Geno reassured but Sid still reached for her, lifting her out of his arms and moving away quickly.

“I’ll get better at doing everything I promise, sorry.”

“Seriously Sid!” Tanger stood up, handing Geno the rest of his coffee, and moved towards Sid with purpose, “Did you ever think that maybe I just wanted to hold the baby? That maybe I just wanted to have a cuddle?” He stopped a step in front of Sid, “You’re doing a great job Cap but you’ve really got to stop hogging all the cuddles.” He flashed Sid a cheeky smile and reached out, lifting Sophie out of his arms. “Your daddy should let us help more shouldn’t he beautiful?”

“Sorry,” Sid said quietly and turned away, busying his hands with the plate and cup he’d just eaten out of, “I’m just trying not to be a problem.” His voice dropped to a mumble, one that he almost hoped no one could hear because he knew he sounded pathetic but he really was trying, doing his best to fit everything hockey around everything Sophie or everything Sophie around everything hockey whichever way round that was supposed to happen now but he wasn’t quite managing it as well as he’d like.

“No sorry,” Geno’s voice was suddenly just a step behind him and Sid felt an almost overwhelming urge to turn around and collapse into him. “You do good, Kris just jealous, he need bug Catherine not you.”

“I’ve tried,” Tanger laughed, “She told me she’d think about it so I’ve got to get my practice in with this little lady haven’t I beautiful.” Having made a circle of the room grinning at Sophie he came to a stop next to Sid and Geno and dropped his volume so only they could hear him, “You’re doing brilliantly, she’s amazing, we’re all amazed at you, you really are not a problem.” He offered Sophie back to Sid, “She’s lucky to have you, and so are we, I really did only want a cuddle.”

“Keep her,” Sid whispered, his voice breaking on the words, and then he swallowed twice, emotions thickening his voice, “while I clean up and get her bottle ready?”

“I think I can do that.” Tanger smiled down at Sophie who was clearly getting ready for food, “we’ll give daddy five minutes won’t we beautiful?”

Changing her position in his arms, so that she was sitting a little more upright, he took her across the room, to where the photographs of the parade after the cup win were, chatting away to her. “Shall we see if we can see daddy? Do you think you can pick him out or is your eyesight not that good yet? He looks even younger then that now.”

 

“I do bottle,” Geno touched Sid’s arm gently, “then you sit and feed.”

“I should make it; you can feed her if you want, while I go change.”

“No,” Geno moved his hand from Sid’s arm to grip at his shoulder, turning him to face him. “I feed lots while you busy, you keeping moving, training, playing, being good captain but you not just captain now, you daddy and daddy allowed to stop and cuddle baby and not just when not sleep at night.”

“But I,” Sid started to argue but the look Geno gave him stopped him short.

“Jane ask you love baby, care for.”

“She said I hugged her that night like I needed it as much as she did.” Sid whispered “That’s why she offered her to me, she though I needed her as much as she needed me.”

Geno squeezed his shoulder and pulled him into a hug so quickly that Sid had no chance to even try to refuse not that he was sure that he would have. Jane wasn’t wrong about his need for hugs and Geno’s hugs were always his favourite because they went way beyond bro hugs and it never felt like it was anything other than intentional.

“Give daddy baby Kris,” Geno shouted across the room as he pushed Sid towards the couch, “He sit and feed in here, you and me get team ready for tape yes?”

“Sounds good to me G. You lot out!” Tanger addressed everyone else in the room and without question they jumped to their feet and almost ran from the room as Sid watched, half wanting to protest and half thankful that someone was taking control for a few minutes. “Enjoy your daddy cuddles Sophie, and take your time because daddy needs a rest ok?” he winked at her and then handed her to Sid, “I’ll see you in the locker room G, and I’ll see you two for tape when she’s done.”

The lounge was quiet, just the three of them, and Sid let himself imagine for a moment, picturing more moments like this, like the ones they’d had so many of in the last few days just the three of them eating, talking, training or just being in the same space, and he couldn’t help smiling even though he knew it wasn’t real but before he could slip too far down that road he was dragged from his thoughts by a large warm hand coming to rest on his shoulder over the back of the couch and a small bottle of milk dropping next to his thigh.

“If you come less than thirty I send back,” Geno spoke quietly next to his ear and then leaned down over him to kiss Sophie ‘s forehead before he left them alone, closing the door with a click behind him.

“I think Uncle G loves you beautiful,” He spoke quietly as he slipped the bottle into her mouth and she began to drink. He smiled and bit his lip resisting the urge to add the ‘I wish he loved me too’ that sat at the front of his mind even though he was alone, that wasn’t a thought he could ever allow to escape out into the world.

Chapter Text

Sophie’s first roadie was a four game, seven day, trip taking in the Rangers, the Islanders, the Blue Jackets and the Devils and Sid was trying his best not to panic about the packing, the organising and the planning for hiding his daughter while he did his job.

The Rangers and Islanders were back to back so he’d agreed that Sophie would stay with Mario and Nathalie overnight between the games and they had a day off before the Blue Jacket’s game which Sid had already arranged to spend with Jack, staying two nights with him rather than trying to hide the baby in a hotel for forty-eight hours before they headed to New Jersey and then home to the safety of their house.

“I’ve been packing for roadies every few days for ten years but right now I feel like I’ve never done it before.” Sophie was led on a changing mat on the bed between two holdalls, both with 87 on the side, one of which Sid had packed a hundred times before and the other empty ready to be filled for the first time, and she kicked her legs as he tickled her tummy and pulled the nappy up, taping it in place. “Can you tell me what you need princess? What should I be packing?”

Sophie blew a bubble of spit and Sid laughed, “That’s not much help. If you end up with no clothes don’t go blaming me. I’m all packed up it’s you who has nothing so let’s look at you, what are you wearing right now?”

“Socks” he tickled her tiny foot and she kicked at his finger, blowing more bubbles, “Seven pairs of socks yes? Or maybe ten just in case?” He dropped a ten tiny pairs of white socks into the bag and leaned down to kiss Sophie’s cheek, “We’re on a roll now so what’s next? Vests did you say? And how many? Twenty? That’s a lot missy are you planning on making a mess? We should be able to wash some at Uncle Jack’s; he’s looking forward to meeting you? He just laughed when I told him about you you know, not even surprised.”

Sid dropped ten vests, eight sleep suits, ten romper suits and the tiny Crosby jersey the guys had given him a few days ago into the holdall and then he topped it off with towels, cloths, bibs, wipes and two packets of nappies before he zipped it closed and picked Sophie up, blowing a raspberry under her chin. “If there’s anything missing I’m blaming you.”

~~~

 

To Jane: We’re going away tomorrow for a week, Sophie’s first roadie :-) I’ll post photos on Tuesday.

Jane: Don’t worry if you’re busy, I honestly haven’t opened the other ones yet.

To Jane: You don’t have to open them until you’re ready. There’s no pressure from me but I did agree to send them so I will.

Jane: Is she sleeping? What do you do with her when you’re playing? Sorry if I shouldn’t ask I’m just surprised no one’s noticed her yet.

To Jane: She sleeps ok, enjoys her afternoon naps which I’m pretty partial to so it works well, haha! The team think it’s a great big game hiding her from the press ;) Mario helps a lot too! Not sure we’ll make it through the roadie but we’ll give it our best shot :-D

Jane: Good luck, with the hiding and the games.

To Jane: Thank you. xx

~~~

 

“Go for dinner after the game, enjoy time with the team, I’ll look after her I promise.” Nathalie reassured him as he laid Sophie down on her bed and slipped the small bag on his back onto the bedside table.

“Thanks for having her, she’s just had a good nap haven’t you sweetheart? And her tummy’s all full”

“Sounds like daddy has it all in hand,” Nathalie touched Sophie’s hand, smiling when she curled her fist around her finger.

“I’ve never felt less like I have something organised in my life!” Sid said “I’m not used to being rubbish at things.”

“I have it on good authority that you weren’t playing in the NHL less than two weeks after you first pulled on skates.” She smiled kindly at him and he felt his heart warmed and his panic quietened by it. “Practice makes perfect.”

Sid nodded and picked Sophie up, cuddling her close and kissing her cheek before he handed her to Nathalie, “I’m going to miss you baby girl.”

“She’ll miss you too,” Nathalie whispered as she pulled him into a hug, “But she’ll be safe with me I promise.”

~~~

Pens News: (22.27) After a hard fought game the Penguins take victory 1.34 into overtime with a goal from Orpik.

~~~

“Eat with knife and fork for once,” Geno grinned across the table at Sid as his steak and vegetables were put down in front of him, “Spill less.”

“I don’t spill!”

“Only cos I cut up first!” Geno laughed and half the table joined him.

“Well not tonight,” he scowled at him, eyes sparkling with humour, “tonight I eat, sleep and relax the way you lazy buggers do after every game.”

“Yay” the table cheered, “We have our captain back for the night, shame we’re playing tomorrow.”

“If not play tomorrow then Sophie be here,” Geno chipped in, “She best way to relax after game.”

“Yeah,” Sid nodded.

~~~

Pens News (21.07) Two wins in two night as the Penguins take the game 4-0

~~~

The team came straight to the plane from the arena while Mario and Nathalie took a car so Sophie was asleep in her seat next to Sid’s when he arrived on the plane and it took everything he had not to unbuckle her and lift her out for a cuddle. He’d seen her briefly for breakfast in the morning before the game but it had seemed so long to be without her.

“We’ll be there in no time,” Flower elbowed him gently pulling his attention away from Sophie, “then you can get to Jack’s and keep him awake all night for us.” He grinned but Sid didn’t smile back, panicking instead

“Shit! What if she does?!”

“She won’t, don’t worry. You should nap though, just in case,” he grinned again and Sid laughed this time.

“Shut up and stop keeping me awake then.”

~~~

 

“I made up the spare room for you,” Jack grinned, bouncing on his feet as Sid set Sophie’s seat down on the floor near the door and crouched to take off his shoes. “I didn’t know what you needed me to get but I bought a cot for her.”

“Thanks,” Sid stood up and rushed forward, wrapping his arms around Jack who did the same to him, “You didn’t have to do that, she could have just slept with me, I have a travel co-sleeping thing but thanks.”

Jack squeezed him tight and then let go, “I can’t believe I get to meet her when she’s so small, or honestly that there’s anyone for me to meet at all.”

“Yeah,” Sid nodded turning away and kneeling down to undo the straps on the car seat, “I thought I’d have to wait until long after I’d finished playing and even then.” He shrugged and didn’t quite look at Jack as he stood back up and offered his daughter over.

“No need for that,” Jack didn’t take Sophie, instead putting his arm around Sid’s shoulder and pulling them both into a hug, “don’t hide from me.”

Relaxing into the hug Sid breathed deeply and smiled into Jack’s shoulder, “Habit sorry.”

“Life saving habit I know.” Jack leant in to kiss gently at Sid’s hair and then let him go just enough that he could look him in the eye, “Just not with me.”

“For sure!” Sid nodded and smiled and offered Sophie over again, grinning as Jack took her and began to chat to her as he led the way to the kitchen.

“I have skate in the morning, got to practice so I can beat daddy, so you and daddy will have to entertain yourselves for a bit but hopefully we can spend the afternoon together if daddy wants to?” He looked up at Sid as he spoke to Sophie and Sid nodded and smiled. “But right now it’s time we were all in bed but I guess that little monkeys need milk before they’ll sleep?”

“She really does,” Sid chipped in, “or she’ll keep Uncle Jack up all night and she should save that for tomorrow when it might affect his game.”

“Strategy!” Jack laughed, “Daddy’s got you involved with the game plan already I see.”

“Start them young,” Sid laughed as he uncapped the last of his pre-sterilised bottles and put the kettle on to boil. “Can I be all boring and domestic and do some washing while you’re out tomorrow? This monkey goes through clothes like water.”

“I’ll dig out the instructions before I go out. Go put your stuff away while that boils and I’ll make supper while she eats. You played a game a few hours ago you need to eat.”

“Yes boss,” Sid grinned and winked at Jack and then took his bag up to their room digging out night clothes and blankets, making up the cot with them, and a bib ready for her feed and then he made his way back to the kitchen to sort out her milk only to be surprised to find Jack sat on his kitchen counter smiling at Sophie in his arms happily drinking away. “You’re a natural.”

“Sorry if I shouldn’t have,” Jack suddenly looked unsure, “She started crying so I just thought.”

“It’s fine,” Sid laughed “never ever apologise for stopping her crying. Guess I’m on supper duty?”

“We can swap,” Jack offered but Sid shook his head, he’d missed Sophie over the last two days and he had been looking forward to curling up with her to give her her milk but watching Jack do it, smiling and chatting away to her as she looked up at him, was weirdly calming.

“What were you planning? I’ll make it.”

“PB&J” Jack said blushing just slightly, “I know it’s your favourite.”

~~~

Sophie woke twice in the night drinking her milk and going back to sleep well and they finally got out of bed for the day at eight, just after Jack had left for the rink. Sid spent his morning washing and drying Sophie’s clothes, sterilising all her bottles in the microwave and resealing them all ready for the last few days of the trip, and making chicken, salad and rice for lunch.

“Hi hunny I’m home,” Jack shouted as he pushed the door too behind him and Sid laughed loudly startling Sophie who was led on the rug staring at the ceiling.

“Daddy’s laugh has that effect on me too Soph,” he scooped her up off the floor and cuddled her close until she stopped crying.

“What is it about you and my friends ganging up on me Princess?”

“Do you and Malkin gang up on daddy too?” Jack asked with a grin and Sid’s heart jumped into his throat, slightly panicked at the ease with which Jack identified the other perpetrator.

“All the time!” Sid tried to joke but his throat was too tight.

“Well I promise not to do it any more if it makes you sound like that. Sorry.”

Sid coughed to clear his throat “How was practice?”

“It was good, you know how it is, the best part of the day is the time on the ice although I’m thinking today that might not be true.”

“Yeah?”

“I’m fairly sure that the best part of today is going to be watching a film curled up on the couch with my friend and his beautiful daughter.”

“Curled up?” Sid raised his eyebrows at Jack

“If you want?” Now it was Jack who sounded nervous and Sid hadn’t ever liked that sound, “We don’t have to.”

“No!” Sid turned around quickly, nearly dropping the plate in his hand as he reached for Jack’s arm. “I’d love that.”

“Okay then,” Jack grinned at Sophie and kissed her head, before he looked up and met Sid’s eyes, visibly relaxing again. “What’s for lunch?”

 

~~~

PensGossip (22.37) Looks like the players spent their off day letting off steam at the driving range, [video attached] “Geno worked his way through three buckets of balls before he gave anyone else a turn” Laughed Neal while Tanger grinned and corrected him that it was four!

Cr0sby (22.42) @Pensfan7187 you spot 87 in this video? They all look to be having great fun :)

Pensfan7187 (22.47) @cr0sby No! All but Geno having a great time, he just looks sad :( Maybe Sid was busy with something else; you know how his media duties go! Never says no that guy :D

Cr0sby (22.48) @PensFan7187 Supposed to be a day off, surely he gets those??!

Pensfan7187 (22.50) @Cr0sby You’d think! Maybe his shoulder is injured? Or maybe he went to see someone? Johnson’s in Columbus isn’t he? You saw the pre-draft video ;)

Cr0sby (22.51) @Pensfan7187 Maybe! That might explain Geno’s mood as well ;)

~~~

 

Jake met them in the underground car park; he had the trunk for all Sophie’s things which he packed quickly while Sid slipped his daughter into her carrier and buttoned up his shirt over her.

“Thanks for coming in so early,”

“We were in to sort skates anyway.”

“Well thanks anyway, I know I’m making more work for you.”

“I get paid to get you on the ice on time and ready to play and that’s all I’m doing.”

“But it’s,” Sid started before Jake stood up and looked him right in the eye, cutting him off.

“Stop apologising for how you have to go about having kids ok, I don’t mind helping make this work for you!”

Sid was stunned into silence, unsure how to respond so Jack spoke instead, “It takes him a while to realise people are doing things because they want to rather than because he’s a hockey god,” he grinned at Jake and laughed, “I think he understands now though,” Jack touched Sid’s shoulder prompting him to nod his agreement. “And he won’t question you on it again will you?”

“No,” Sid agreed and tried to smile at Jake who clearly had a fuller understanding of Sid than he’d thought, “I’ll be quietly grateful instead of saying it out loud”

Jake laughed and Jack and Sid joined him and then they finished packing the last of Sophie’s things into the trunk before Jack hugged Sid goodbye, kissed Sophie through his shirt, and headed to the home locker room ready for morning skate.

 

~~~

 

“Look who’s here,” Sid had been sat in his stall for what felt like forever waiting for his team and as they arrived he couldn’t stop smiling.

“Sophie,” Tanger greeted her with a kiss on the cheek and a wink at Sid and the rest of the team filed in saying hello, touching her hand or just giving her a wave but then, finally, Geno arrived through the door and Sid felt his face almost split in half with a smile for just a second before it dropped away at the blank look on Geno’s face, the tired eyes and the merest nod of his head before he walked straight past them both and dropped his bag in his stall.

Not really knowing what to do, or what he’d missed by hiding out at Jack’s, he sat back in his stall, laying Sophie on the floor between his feet and began to pull on his gear ready for skate, settling into the rhythm of it and focusing his mind.

“You’re mine for an hour now baby girl,” Jake scooped Sophie up from the floor and walked away with her towards the equipment area where Sid knew that her bottle would be waiting for her and she’d be safely hidden away while he did his thing.

~~~

PensNews (11.30) After a day off yesterday there’s full attendance at morning skate.

~~~

“You can say no,” Jake said carefully as he set Sophie back down on the floor by Sid’s stall, “But if you need to sleep this afternoon and she doesn’t want to then you can call me.”

There was a noise that drew Sid’s attention, half a sigh and half a growl, and his eyes flicked to Geno who was stuffing something into his bag in a way that suggested that whatever is was was not going to survive the experience.

“Thanks,” he spoke to Jake while still watching Geno, “I’ll let you know if I need that and if not today I’m sure there’ll be other times I’ll be asking if you can.”

“Anytime.”

“For now though,” he picked her up “we’re hoping uncle G will help with lunch aren’t we Soph?”

“Not go Johnson’s?” Geno asked without giving any respite to whatever he was trying to put in his bag.

“Not on a game day G.” He moved closer dropping his volume so only Geno could hear him. “Have I missed something? Or done something?”

“Have fun with Johnson?” Geno asked without looking up but he did at least stop fighting with his bag.

“Yeah, I got all this ones clothes washed and her bottles sorted,” he laughed expecting Geno to smile at least but he still didn’t look at him. “We ate, slept and watched a film, nothing special.”

“He like Sophie,”

“Yeah, he was great with her, bought her a cot and everything.”

“He want you stay lots?”

“Nah he was just excited, wanted us to be comfortable you know, he never expected it, the baby, my baby.”

“He not think you ever?” Geno turned his head, looking at Sophie for the first time, and put down his bag to stroke her cheek making her turn her head towards him.

“Not while I was playing, maybe not after, he was excited; it was nice to see him. We missed uncle G though didn’t we sweetheart.”

Geno perked up at that, flashing his eyes to Sid’s and then back to Sophie’s as he finally smiled at her, “Uncle G miss you too baby, you and daddy.”

“Room service lunch?” Sid asked trying to form words around the lump that had just formed in his throat, “you can feed her if you want.”

“Yes!” Geno turned and grinned and took Sophie from Sid, cuddling her close to his chest, “I feed while daddy eat”

“Her seat’s on the bus, everyone’s waiting, are you three coming or shall we get it off?” Blysma suddenly shouted from the doorway.

“We come,” Geno laughed and tucked Sophie inside his jacket, looking to Sid for reassurance that that was ok and Sid nodded and picked up both their bags, following him out and onto the bus.

~~~

Jack: I’m so sorry, I didn’t think about it showing up on my Credit card statement.

To Jack: what showing up? Are you ok?

Jack: The cot, I’m sorry, really sorry.

To Jack: I’ve been on the road for a week, lost the last two games (one to a goal by you!!) and Sophie hasn’t slept at all since we got on the plane in New Jersey last night. I’m sorry I just don’t understand what the problem is; I told you I’d pay you back if you want.

Jack: My mother gets my bills not me, she likes to check I’m not wasting my money, she came round when I was out, found the cot and a bib in the kitchen drawer, the penguins one. I told her it wasn’t you but she didn’t believe me.

To Jack: I’m too tired to deal with most of that message right now, you know you’re an adult and she has no right yes? But what is she going to do now she knows about Sophie?

Jack: She’s just looking after things so I’m set up for later, she doesn’t want me wasting things and having nothing when I retire. I don’t know she’ll do anything I just feel so bad for messing up. I enjoyed having you both here, hoped we might do it again next time, sorry I messed up.

To Jack: You didn’t mess up, I loved seeing you and we’ll be there again next time if you’ll have us :-D

Chapter Text

“You need sleep, let me hold.”

“You should go home, we’re playing tomorrow.”

“She not sleep for three days, you need sleep.”

“Days aren’t the problem; she’s good at sleeping days.” Sid laughed tiredly, “its nights she’s come to hate!”

“Let me hold, for few minutes before I go?” Geno asked quietly, “I not want leave you like this.”

“I’m so tired G,” he handed over his daughter and rested his head against Geno’s shoulder. “I don’t know what I’m going to do if she keeps on like this, I played so badly last night, Nathalie said they’d take her home with them but I don’t want that, I don’t want them too, I want her here, with me.”

Turning just enough Geno wrapped his arm around Sid’s shoulder and held him tight, Sophie snuggled between them, as Sid finally gave in to the tiredness and exhaustion and let the tears that had been building over the last few days fall from his eyes.

“You do this all by self, for weeks Sid, train, skate, look after best baby, never take option, go in early, do media; you only have one night without feed and then had back to back. You best Sid but allow to be too much, allow to be tired, even if only tell me.”

Sid sobbed against Geno’s shirt as Sophie finally stopped crying, pulling gently at his hair with her fist and Geno rocked just slightly as he held them both tight in his arms.

“Do you think Jake would come out here? Now?” Sid whispered wetly into Geno’s chest, “I know he said he’d help during the day, when we were on the road and stuff, he’s great with her but do you think it’s too much to ask?”

“I think you should ask, he only say no. I stay though, is late, I sleep here?”

“Yeah,” Sid nodded against Geno’s chest, “I’d like you to stay, not sure if the guest room’s made up though.”

“I sleep on your floor or on couch if Jake not come. No need for worry.”

“Thanks,” Sid sniffed and stood up out of Geno’s hold, wiping at his eyes with his hoody sleeve.

“No thank, go ring Jake.” Geno smiled at him and for the first time in what felt like a week Sid smiled back without having to fake it.

~~~

“Hey Jake, I know it’s late, sorry to disturb you”

“It’s fine Sidney, what’re you after.”

“Well, I was wondering, if it’s not too much to ask, and if you’re busy just tell me, but I,”

“Take a breath Sid, you don’t sound like yourself, is everything ok?”

“I’m knackered Jake, Sophie’s not sleeping.”

“Colic?”

“Maybe, I don’t know, she just cries until its tomorrow.”

“Can I bring someone with me?”

“What?”

“You rang to ask me to come and look after her didn’t you?”

“Well, erm, yeah, if you don’t mind, I know you work hard too though, you’ve had a tough week too and if you’re with someone you clearly have plans, don’t worry I shouldn’t have called.”

“Sidney stop, I’ll be there in twenty minutes all I want to know is if it’s ok to bring Mark or not.”

“Bring whoever you want, I can’t believe you said yes, G said you would but I still, I’m so thankful Jake, I really am.”

“Just set the stuff out for making her bottles, find her a couple of changes of clothes, nappies and wipes, her favourite blanket and anything else you think we need so you’re ready to go to bed when we get there Ok.”

“Bottles, clothes, nappies, wipes and blankets, I think I can manage that,”

“I get!” Geno said from behind him and Jake laughed on the other end of the phone.

“We’re putting shoes on now; we’ll be as quick as we can.”

~~~

The gate bell rang and Sid buzzed Jake through while Geno went to open the door Sophie lying on her tummy along his forearm, watching everything and finally quiet for a few minutes.

“She’s tiny!”

Geno laughed at the gasped surprise of the friend Jake had brought with him.

“You have to remember hockey players are huge,” Jake nudged Mark’s side with his elbow, “Their giant arms make you look smaller than you really are don’t they beautiful,” he spoke to Sophie as he took her from Geno and walked further into the house in search of Sid, Mark following behind him. “You’re really quite a big girl aren’t you sweetheart.”

Sophie had grasped a fist full of Jake’s shirt and she was looking up at him as he chatted away, calmly and quietly. “You know Daddy and uncle G are ready for bed don’t you beautiful girl, they need their sleep because it’s the Flyers tomorrow and although you don’t know it yet you’ll grow up to hate the flyers.”

Sid laughed tiredly at Jake as they arrived in the living room and Jake smiled at him. “This is Mark,” he gestured with his head towards his friend, “He won’t be doing the looking after I promise and he won’t tell anyone about her.”

“Nice to meet you,” Sid stepped forward, wobbling a little as he reached to shake Mark’s hand, “I have accounts with lots of places if you want food,” he pointed to the table covered in takeout menus, “All these can get through the gate, just charge my account with whatever.”

“We can buy our own food,” Mark sounded a little confused by the offer and Sid just looked at him.

“They not deliver here if not Sid’s account.” Geno chipped in, “Team prank.”

“Ok” Mark nodded but didn’t seem any less confused and Sid just didn’t have the brain power to explain about the day that he’d had nearly twenty different meals delivered within half an hour of each other because his team were fed up of him refusing to let anyone help him during the worst stages of his concussion.

“Daddy and uncle G are going to bed now,” Geno looked at Sid and grinned as Jake started talking to Sophie again, “And me and Mark are going to look after you for a while Okay?” He looked up at Sid but continued to speak quietly to Sophie. “Daddy’s sorted your milk,” he followed Sid who led the way to the kitchen pointing everything out to him as he kept speaking “and we have a bib, clean nappies for your bottom and some lovely warm clothes for going to sleep in, so we’re going to be just fine aren’t we?”

Sophie didn’t respond but she continued to stare up at Jake, watching him closely.

“Her carrycots in the hall, she can sleep in there, I couldn’t move the cot out of my room, I just don’t have the energy.” He sagged against the counter.

“She’ll sleep wherever she sleeps, however she sleeps and we’ll be fine,” Jake smiled,

“We can watch a film and eat pizza here just as well as we could at home” Mark chipped in from the doorway where he and Geno were leaning either side of the frame “and your sofa looks more comfy than our actual bed.” Mark laughed and Sid smiled at him but he didn’t miss Jake’s flinch.

“It’s not bad,” Sid grinned and pushed himself up from the counter, “But I honestly can’t wait to be in my bed instead of sat on it!” He moved to kiss Sophie good night and took the opportunity to pull Jake into a hug, holding him for just that moment longer than he maybe should, and whispered a thank you into his ear. “Come on G,” he put his hand on Geno’s chest and pushed him back through the door as Geno grinned and mock staggered backwards, “Time for bed.”

 

~~~

 

PensNews (20.37) The Flyers have the lead at the end of the second. Your penguins lead in shots, hits, blocks and penalty minutes. Here’s hoping they can turn it round.

Cr0sby (20.45) @PensFan7187 I’m worried about this game, 87 hasn’t scored any goals in the third period in the last four games and 71 only has 1!

PensFan7187 (20.47) @Cr0sby I know but they both look on fire tonight and it’s not like we lost all the other games they just scored earlier ;) there is the rest of the team too, maybe it’s Bennett’s night!

Cr0sby (20.50) @PensFan7187 Neal! He owes us a few and maybe a Goalie goal?

PensFan7187 (20.53) @Cr0sby Flower would love that! Got to be the GWG though :D

 

PensNews (21.52) The penguins take the game with a Crosby shot at 3.52 into overtime after Malkin ties the game in the last seconds of the third.

 

~~~

“I can’t believe how much better I feel for sleeping last night,” He grinned at Sophie as he unfastened her car seat from the back of his car and lifted her out, carrying her to the door. “Jake said they had fun looking after you so you might be seeing him and Mark again. Hopefully though we can work this out together, we’ve three days before daddy plays again so how about we try and crack this sleeping thing?” he set her down on the step to unlock the door.

“Did we leave the light on?” He asked Sophie as he noticed a glimmer through the window, “do you think Uncle G forgot to turn it off? Shall we go see?”

Pushing the door open and picking up the car seat from the step, Sid pulled faces at his daughter, watching her as she stared back at him and then started to sing her favourite lullaby as he walked down the hall, intending to sit the seat on the coffee table, before he came to a halt, eyes wide and his whole body filled with panic.

“It’s true then?”

Sid closed his eyes and swallowed, pulling the seat containing his daughter a little closer to him.

“Why are you here?” he could hear his voice shaking, his legs and arms going numb as if his body had given up sending them oxygen while it tried it’s best to conserve his ability breathe.

“I’ve called, text and emailed to ask about visiting and you’ve kept putting me off, what was I supposed to do?”

“Be put off.” Sid stated calmly, setting Sophie down on the table and unbuckling her seat, lifting her to his chest and guarding her against him with both arms.

“Jack’s mother rang me almost two week ago; I think I’ve waited long enough don’t you?”

“That bloody woman should mind her own business and not just about me!” Sid growled and Sophie whimpered against his chest, grasping at his shirt with her fist. “It’s ok beautiful,” he took a breath, calming his body and settling his voice, something that was so much easier with his daughter in his arms than it ever had been before she came along. “Let’s get your bottle sorted and that tummy filled shall we darling.”

“I’ll do it or hold her while you do?”

“No,” Sid shook his head and pulled at the fabric criss-crossing his chest until he could slip Sophie into her carrier to free up his hands, “She’ll be fine in here, it’s the way she travels into and out of the rink.”

“I wondered how you’d been managing that; it can’t have been easy hiding her.”

“The whole team helps.”

“I’m glad,” his dad said quietly as he followed him to the kitchen, hanging back by the door and watching as Sid filled a bottle with a carton of milk.

“Do you want a drink?” Sid kept his back to his dad, cradling a protective arm around Sophie, “Or some food?”

“Let me make something while you feed your daughter.” He dad spoke gently and Sid turned to look at him, assessing and trying to understand. “You played hard, and scored a cracker, go rest.”

“Okay,” Sid nodded slowly and then edged out of the kitchen, bottle in hand, and made his way to the couch where he untied Sophie from his chest, settled her in her favourite position on his arm and watched her start in on her milk.

“Where’s her mum,” Troy asked as he sat down in the armchair.

“She doesn’t have a mum she has me” Sid tried to stay calm; he didn’t want to unsettle Sophie when she’d been so good all evening.

“So this happened during the concussion?” His dad’s voice was much gentler than he expected, maybe because of the baby.

“No, just a couple of months ago, she’s nearly five weeks old.”

“But the woman? She must have been around during the concussion no?”

“For one night yes,” Sid replied as he stood the almost empty bottle on the couch next to him and lifted Sophie to his shoulder and his dad tutted and shook his head.

“We brought you up better than that! One night stands are one thing but being stupid enough to end up with a baby!”

“Stop shouting or leave!” Sid growled, “Soph hasn’t slept well this week and I need her too tonight.”

“This is why you have to be careful!” The volume dropped but the tone remained.

“I have nine goals and twenty one points since my daughter was born,” he glared at his father while he continued to pat Sophie’s back gently. “We’re ten, three and two including the game I played while Jane was in labour. I’ve played back to back, travelled a roadie, done all my media and the only reason you know about her is because Jack’s mother still has boundary issues which is something I’m going to talk to him about next time we go to stay. I knew you wouldn’t approve that’s why I didn’t tell you.”

Sophie let out a big burp just as he finished speaking and he laughed, kissing her cheek and snuggling her under his chin. “Good contribution beautiful, you want the rest of your milk now?” He lifted her away from his body so he could kiss the tip of her nose and then laid her back in his arms to finish her feed.

“Mario and Nathalie love her, the team and the wives and girlfriends love her, she’s a weird part of Flower and Tanger’s pre-game routine and Geno’s great with her. Jake, one of the equipment guys, looks after her for me while I skate and he sorts the logistics for roadies and stuff. It works doesn’t it beautiful?” He looked down, changing his tone and talking to Sophie when the bottle suddenly sounded empty. “I don’t need your approval dad only Sophie’s and right now I’m fairly sure I have that.”

A timer sounded in the kitchen and Troy jumped up as if he was relieved by the interruption, “I’ll grab the food, I just did a pasta thing out of the freezer.”

“Catherine, V and all the wives did that, the freezers packed and whenever I go for dinner anywhere I always come back with something for the freezer.”

“That’s nice of them,” Troy replied before he disappeared to get the supper.

 

“Could I hold her while you eat?”

“Yeah,” Sid smile best he could at his dad who’d just set a plate down on the couch next to him, “As long as you keep her upright on your chest.”

“I have held a baby before,” he laughed.

“But not my baby dad and like I said I need her to sleep tonight, so yes you can hold her while I eat but only if you keep her upright while her tummy settles from her milk.”

“Ok.” Troy nodded, “I can do that.”

Sid passed his daughter over and then ate his supper while watching his dad walk slowly around the living room, chatting away to Sophie about how beautiful she was, how small her hands were and how tickly her feet were and all the things everyone else had said to her the first time they met her and he couldn’t help smiling, thoughts of Christmases and birthdays parties and celebrations, with his daughter and his family suddenly coming into focus where only a haze or a hope had been before.

“Time for bed,” he stood up putting his plate on the coffee table, “I assume you’re staying?”

“I’d like to,”

“The guest room’s set up, G did it this morning, he didn’t fancy the floor next time he stayed over but I can change the sheets after you go.”

“Geno’s been staying a lot?” Sid ducked his head, not wanting to look at the odd expression on his dad’s face.

“A bit yeah, he normally falls asleep on the couch but Jake was here looking after a none sleeping baby last night so he slept on my floor.”

“He’s a good guy.”

“For sure.” Sid nodded and reached for Sophie but before her could take her his dad pulled him into a hug, holding him tight and kissing him on the forehead.

“Let me know if she’s awake, I’ll take her while you sleep if you want.” Sid tensed, his parents taking over was exactly what he didn’t want. “You don’t have to, just if you want.”

“Thanks,” was all Sid could manage, unsure if his voice would come out angry or tearful and neither was something he wanted to deal with right now, and he took Sophie from him and walked away, up the stairs to his room where he quickly changed them both into their pyjamas, washed and brushed his teeth and then settled Sophie down to sleep, singing to her as her eyes drifted closed.

Chapter Text

“Your dad in seats.” Geno slid to a halt next to Sid, eyes wide and face white with panic.

“He turned up last night, was sat on the couch when we got home”

“You okay? Sophie okay?”

“Sophie’s fine, you know that,” he tried to smile, “You just fed her and you’ve been playing with her all morning.”

“She better than train, more fun.” Geno grinned and then moved closer, putting a gloved hand on Sid’s shoulder hiding their face’s from where Troy might be able to see them. “You ok?”

Sid started to nod his head and then shook it instead and Geno pulled him closer still,

“I left before he got up and he’s followed me here, he’s probably looking for her, looking for how I’m not doing my job now she’s here, looking for reasons to make me give her back.”

“Not happen,” Geno snarled, “She yours, he can’t make, I’m not let.” His English beginning to fail in his anger, “Is work, is good, you happy, more happy, he not take!”

A whistle blew and they both jumped, turning to look at Blysma who was gathering the team around him ready for practice.

“Time for skate G, time to prove I can do this, time to show him.”

Geno didn’t answer he just looked at Sid, sadness in his eyes and nodded before he skated away to join the group.

 

~~~

“I’m come home, make lunch.” Geno said as Sid came out of the trainer’s room where he’d been having some work done on his bruised hip.

“You don’t have to, this is my problem, I’ll sort it.”

“I’m getting the meat,” Tanger patted Sid’s shoulder.

“Salad,” added Neal

“Pasta” shouted Orpik

“Snacks” three voices shouted at once and Sid turned, looking around the room as his teammates looked back.

“What’s going on?”

“Team lunch at Sid and Sophie’s,” Flower grinned, “Everyone’s free for a few hours, we all need to eat so we’re doing it together.”

“But my dad’s here.” Sid said carefully.

“Is he a steak or a fish guy?” Tanger asked as he shouldered his bag.

“Really guys,” he sat down in his stall, grabbing Sophie’s carrier and wrapping it around his waist, “You don’t have to do this, I’m ok, things are ok.”

“If everything’s ok then he’ll enjoy the grill, you’ll get a good feed without having to cook it and we’ll all get baby cuddles.” Tanger smiled.

“If not guessed, is not option.” Geno laughed and handed Sophie over now that her carrier was ready for her, “team has back Sid.”

“Thanks guys,” for a second he thought about protesting more but the thought of going home to his dad, and whatever his opinions of this morning’s skate were, didn’t sound anywhere near as appealing as spending the afternoon with his team. “I’ll provide the drinks I guess.”

“I’m leave car here,”

“Okay.” Sid smiled as he stood up and Geno grinned back at him, “Thanks for this.”

“Not me, team notice dad, guess you not told. They not visit, no pictures, know must be reason.”

“Still thank you, you’re too good to me.”

“No, not good enough,” Geno asserted and then turned away just enough that Sid couldn’t see his face and didn’t have to worry about him seeing the effect his words had on him.

“We should probably take my dad with us.”

“He manage get here,”

“Yeah but …”

Geno draped his arm around Sid shoulder and pulling him into his side. “But no, he get here he get home, we go just three.”

“Okay,” Sid turned his head to smile up at Geno and leant into his side as they continued down the hall to the carpark, Geno’s arm not moving from his shoulder.

~~~

The outdoor grill was up and running and the tables, inside and out, were covered with bottles of Gatorade, fruit juice and water as well as cartons of a number of different flavours of protein shake, while Sid and Geno sat in chairs by the table, passing Sophie and her bottle between them as the team arrived in little groups, bringing their contribution and settling themselves around the deck chirping Sid for the lack of alcohol in his drink supply.

“It’s the middle of the week, the middle of the day, there’s a baby present and I need you all to behave when my dad gets here so no alcohol seemed the best way.”

“We’ll behave,” Orpik laughed, “we always behave don’t we boys?”

“Normally you’re not all in protect the kid mode though, at least not off the ice.”

“We all read the article Cap,” Tanger said gently, moving from where he was stood leaning on the wall and coming to crouch in front of Sid, reaching out his hand to stroke his finger against Sophie’s cheek, “We saw what your dad said about you not being distracted by kids and needing a wife and your contract before you had that. We know why you didn’t want them to know until the paperwork was done and we’re not just going to sit back and let him hurt you.”

“He thinks she’s from a one night stand.” Sid said quietly and the whole team laughed.

“He what?” Neal exclaimed, “Does he know you at all?”

The team laughed again and Sid joined them although it had an edge of sadness when he spoke, “I thought he’d think adoption was more reversible, think she wasn’t really mine.”

“She’s yours Cap, part of the team now, I’ve seen these two,” Orpik dipped his head at Flower and Tanger, “using her in their pregame and Geno, hell Geno wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he didn’t have a baby to cuddle.”

“We win more since Sophie,” Geno added to the conversation and everyone agreed, “You score more.”

“You too,” Sid grinned, “and the rest of you are doing amazingly too.”

“You’re all doing brilliantly,” a voice came from the doorway startling Sid whose blood ran cold at the sound of it and he tightened his arms around Sophie, “One of you could have offered me a lift home though, seen as you were all coming.”

“Didn’t think,” Geno responded, standing up and moving closer to Sid, leaning down to kiss Sophie’s head and resting his hand gently on Sid’s shoulder as he did so, before he moved to the grill and threw on the first round of steaks. “Tanger bought you steak.”

“Thanks,” Troy smiled tightly and walked through the group towards the grill, stopping only to do as Geno had done, resting his hand on Sid’s shoulder as he leant over him to say hello to Sophie, his voice shaking slightly, before he finished his journey toward Geno and offered to help, an offer Geno accepted without words but simply by handing over the fork.

~~~

 

The team began to edge away after a couple of hours, Flower and Tanger being the last to leave nearly three hours after they’d arrived back from the rink, leaving just Sid, Geno, Sophie and Troy in the sudden quiet of the house.

“Been busy day,” Geno grinned at Sophie as she looked up at him from his arms, “time princess sleep,” he tried to pass her over to Sid but Sid shook his head gently and flicked his eyes in his dad’s direction and Geno nodded. “Give daddy kiss, Uncle G put to bed.”

“Sleep well beautiful,” Sid kissed his daughter and whispered “thank you” to Geno.

Geno leant closer, Sophie tucked between them, “No thank, call if need.”

Sid nodded and watched Geno and Sophie walk away before he got up out of his seat and headed towards his father.

Troy was washing plates and cups in the sink when Sid approached, and he picked up a towel to dry the things on the rack. They worked in a silence that grew uncomfortable quickly but Sid didn’t know how to break it. He had no idea what to say, he’d have had plans for this when he was ready, when Sophie was really his, the paperwork complete and more of the season under his belt, but right now he was just angry at the intrusion and as much as he didn’t want to admit it, a little bit scared of what his father was going to do.

“He was talking about the article last year wasn’t he? When I got here?” Troy broke the silence, voice tight, “The team saw it didn’t they?”

“You told the world that I needed to get my contract sorted and a wife before I risked having kids distract me from the important things in life Dad! Everyone saw it; they thought it was great chirp fodder at the time, now they know why I was keeping Sophie secret, why I didn’t want you to know yet.” He could hear the angry bubbling in his voice and could feel the tears burning at his throat.

“They think I’d take her away, try and take your daughter? You think that?”

“I know what you gave up, what you put in to get me here, I know you don’t want it wasted, don’t want your efforts wasted, I know how you feel about me having kids, I know what you said.”

“What should I have said?” Troy swung round on Sid, glaring at him, “What should I have said when they keep asking me about you and your family? About your relationships and all the stuff you like to keep so private, private even from your family!”

“You shouldn’t have said anything,” he choked out around the lump in his throat as he rung the towel between his fists.

“I didn’t give an interview; you know that, you know it was someone asking me at the charity ball. You were just coming back from the concussion, everyone was interested in you, what you’d been doing while you couldn’t play, I didn’t think they’d take me seriously, I didn’t think it’d end up in the news.”

“You didn’t think I’d find out is what you mean!”

“No, that’s not it.”

“What is it then? What was the reason you said that stuff about me if you didn’t think it? Why would you?”

“What should I have said when they asked? What would you have preferred me to say when someone I thought was a friend asked if you’d used your time off the ice to find a girl or if there was a chance of grandchildren now you’d had chance to be at home more than away for a bit?”

Troy was shouting but his eyes were so sad and tear filled that Sid wanted more than anything to end this conversation now and do something to make him feel better.

“Should I have said that I didn’t think there’d ever be grandchildren, that as much as you love kids and give everything you have to your little pens, and look so wistfully at your teammates children that’s probably not something men like you can do? Should I have said that it broke my heart to think that, because I knew it broke yours? Should I have said that I didn’t expect there ever to be a wife and I expected you to be lonely as hell for as long as you played the game you loved?”

He took a breath, wiped his eyes on his sleeve and dropped his volume to little more than a whisper, “Should I have told them that for as long as people spend their time asking you, me and your mother about things that are none of their business you and Geno were never going to let yourselves have what you both so clearly want? Tell me Sidney,” he stepped forward and Sid moved quickly to wrap his arms around his father and settle into his chest, “what should I have said.”

“That” Sid whispered against his dad’s chest, tears running down his cheeks, “you should have said that, to me, at least to me.”

“I know,” Troy squeezed him tighter and kissed his head, “I know I should have, I’m sorry son, sorry you thought you had to hide from us, we never wanted that”

“You ok Sid, I’m heard shout” Geno hurried into the kitchen and then stumbled to a halt, stepping backwards towards the door when he saw the two of them hugging.

“I’m ok,” Sid turned to look at him and smiled through his tears, reaching out a hand towards Geno who hurried towards him, taking his hand and pulling gently while he glared at Troy and Troy released his hold on Sid and instead nudged him in Geno’s direction.

Sid offered no resistance as Geno wrapped his arms around him, folding him in against his strong frame, protecting him any way he could. “You cry,” He whispered, head resting on his shoulder, mouth close to his ear, “You not ok.”

“I’ll go,” Troy patted Sid on the shoulder,

“Don’t!” Sid felt panic rise in his chest, “don’t leave.”

“I didn’t mean leave leave I just meant I’ll go and let you two talk.”

“Oh, okay,” Sid smiled wetly, “You could go sit with Soph if you want, she’s cute when she sleeps.”

“She takes after her Daddy then,” Troy winked at him and Geno barked out a laugh, the sound vibrating against Sid’s cheek in a way he wanted to feel a hundred times before he was forced to let go.

“Sophie love her afternoon nap, she not so good with night sleep.”

Sid opened his mouth to defend his daughter from Geno’s assessment, not that it was inaccurate he just felt an overwhelming need to speak up for her, but before he could say anything Troy nodded seriously and patted his hand on Sid’s head, “Very much like her daddy then.” And Geno laughed again, pulling Sid in tighter and Sid couldn’t help but laugh too.

 

~~~

PensGossip (13.35) [video of Geno Malkin cooking half a dozen steaks on the grill] it looks like the penguins are getting together for some team bonding after skate, either that or Geno’s very hungry :D

PensGossip (13.37) [photo of a large table covered in drinks bottles and salad] ‘no alcohol allowed’ according to Brooks Orpik

PensGossip (13.41) [photo of someone falling backwards into the swimming pool] but a good swim for someone :) It’s nice to see the team having fun together before an off day.

PensFan7187 (13.52) @Cr0sby you can’t help but love a team bonding event, you think it’s at 87’s? He’s a good captain, getting his team together!

Cr0sby (13.55) @PensFan7187 Does anyone else have a pool? The no alcohol sounds like a Crosby thing so probably at his. They all look like they’re having fun!

PensFan7187 (13.57) @Cr0sby watching again I think that might be Sid’s dad by the grill so must be at his. Bit cold for being dunked in the pool, I wonder what he’d done to deserve it!

Cr0sby (13.59) @PensFan7187 I hope someone snuggled him up warm when they pulled him out!

 

~~~

“You ok now?”

Geno had let Sid go almost as soon as his dad was out of the room and Sid had taken a second to check his phone and walk the numbness and tension out of his legs but now they were back in the same room, stood either side of the kitchen island, seemingly giving each other space, and Sid had to find a way to explain the shouting and the tears because the concerned look in Geno’s eyes was tearing his heart into pieces every time he looked at him.

“I will be, I think”

Geno didn’t look reassured so Sid scrunched his eyes up tightly, until he could see lights and stars behind his eyelids, counted to ten in his head and then opened his eyes and looked at Geno. “He said he didn’t mean the things in that article, said he thought he was just having a laugh with someone at a charity thing, didn’t expect it’d be in the paper.”

“Not make ok to say!”

“I said that, asked him why he’d said it at all which is when he got angry. He asked me what he should have said instead.”

“Should say nothing.”

“But people ask him G, they’ve always asked about girlfriends and stuff.” Sid tried not to notice the way Geno’s shoulders tightened and the way he stopped looking at him properly. “He said it was someone joking about me finally having time to meet someone because I was injured which killed the ‘he’s busy’ answer he’s always used.”

“I guess.” Geno’s voice was tight and his face turned away just slightly. “But why say you not have?”

Sid took a deep breath and tried to summon up his courage, it wasn’t like he’d never thought that Geno’s hugs might be a little bit beyond friends or that the amount of time they spent together might mean something and Geno was always so interested in what Sid was doing, even in the off season, and he’d been great looking after him and keeping him company during his concussion and now Sophie was here he was around even more, playing the other parent in many ways but there was still a chance, a very real chance, that his dad was wrong and that the real outcome of the next five minutes was going to be the end rather than the beginning.

“I’m never going to have a wife G,” he said looking down at the floor, “That’s not a thing people like me have.”

“People like you?” Geno asked sounding confused, “Hockey players have partners, lots have.”

“Not hockey players G, gay hockey players.” Sid swallowed at the end of his sentence; his heart beating so hard his pulse must have been visible in his throat.

“I’m know we not have public but can have private no?”

Sid heard the we and his stomach flipped but then his brain cut in to remind him of Geno’s limited English and the fact that he probably didn’t mean it like that.

“I could have someone in private but he’d have to understand why I didn’t want people to know, he’d have to have as much to lose as me and he’d have to like me enough to bother even getting to know me when he wasn’t going to be able to tell anyone and I’d have to be brave enough to ask in the first place. I’m a difficult, weird, awkward, superstitious person G, who the hell would put up with that when they can’t even tell their friends? And I have Sophie now which I’m not sure is many twenty five year old gay men’s idea of the right life choice.”

“I twenty six, think Sophie perfect life choice.” Geno smiled and Sid’s stomach flipped again, could his dad really be right?

“You know you’ve done that twice now,” He forced a laugh and a grin even though his body was tense and he wanted to be sick.

“Done what?”

“Suggested we’re both in this club not just me.”

“Club?”

“The gay men in hockey club.”

“Is club?” Geno looked at him quizzically and Sid’s heart melted in his chest, “I’m not know club.”

“Not real club G, just a phrase; sorry I’m doing a shit job of making sense.”

“You do good, what you say not easy, I’m never say,” he ended in a whisper.

Sid looked across the island at Geno for a long moment, finally making eye contact with him and seeing the warmth and the shy smile shining from him and slowly, shaking from the ends of his fingers to the tips of his toes he walked around the kitchen island until he was stood just a couple of feet in front of Geno, close enough to reach for his hand and slip their fingers together.

“My dad asked if he should have told them that I was never going to have a wife.” He spoke quietly, watching Geno carefully, his heart beating hard in his throat as Geno tightened his grip and stroked his thumb slowly over the back of his hand. “He asked if he should have said that I’d be on my own for as long as I played hockey.”

Geno stepped closer, his eyes dark and intense “and then he asked if he should have told them that for as long as they kept asking about wives and girlfriends you and me would never let ourselves have what we wanted.” Geno was in his space now, his free hand resting on his hip, looking down on him in the way he’d often dreamed about, the way he’d hoped one day someone, anyone, would look at him. He’d never dared admit, even to himself, just how much he hoped that that person would be Geno.

“Should not say,” Geno whispered between them as he leaned their foreheads together, his warm breath tickling Sid’s skin as he spoke, “He not say to anyone but you,” a warm calloused hand came up to cradle Sid’s chin, thumb spreading heat across his cheek as he was tipped in just the right direction for Geno to move closer and whisper “I’m glad he say to you,” against his lips before he kissed him, soft, gentle and perfect.

Chapter Text

Jake: If you want anyone to look after Sophie for a bit before the next game Mark and I would be up for it. Note I say want, we had a great time with her so no need to wait until you need us, want will do :)

To Jake: thanks, I think we’re good with my dad being here until after the next game but the night before the Nashville Dallas back to backs would be great if you could, I’ll even make the guest room up so you can sleep there rather than the couch ;)

Jake: sorry didn’t realise your dad was here, I didn’t think they knew; hope they’re nice to her :) I’ll book that date in, Mark will be so excited! And the room would be good if Geno’s not staying, we weren’t kidding about your couch being nicer than our bed though :D

To Jake: Geno won’t need the guest room. I’m not sure about my dad, time will tell I guess.

Jake: he’d be a fool not to love her, she’s adorable. Is she coming to skate tomorrow or staying with your dad? Just so I know if I’m wanted.

To Jake: She’ll be with me, there’s no one else I’d trust with her while I skate :D

Jake: Ok, I’ll look forward to my baby cuddle then. Xx

 

~~~

Sid and Geno settled side by side in the back row of the video room, Sophie lying on Sid’s knee kicking her feet against his stomach every time Geno tickled her ribs, and waited for the rest of the team to arrive. They’d done their morning workout in Sid’s home gym while his dad sat on the jump box in the corner feeding Sophie and chatting to them and neither of them was taking part in the optional morning skate so Sophie had travelled from the car to the arena tucked inside Geno’s overcoat, her nappies and bottle in the small backpack Sid was carrying, and they’d arrived in the room well before anyone else.

“You think Troy was upset we bring?” Geno asked as he tickled Sophie under the arm.

“Nah, he gets it,” Sid elbowed Geno gently, “he’s looking forward to having her for the game though, we just hope Mario isn’t too jealous don’t we baby girl?”

“Lucky lady have people fight over her,” Geno grinned at her, tickling her again and making her squirm.

“We’re both lucky,” Sid winked and kissed Geno’s cheek, watching as he blushed all the way to his ears.

 

“The PK is the issue; their powerplay’s at twenty eight percent this year.”

“Discipline then, no penalties means no powerplays.”

“That’s not gona happen!”

“Flower better be on his game.”

The players were chatting as a large group of them entered the room, waving in their direction but sitting themselves down closer to the screen and continuing their conversation about the perils of giving up penalties against Boston.

“No fighting anyone tonight ok?” Sid looked sternly at Geno, “Even if and especially if they start on me.”

“I’m try.” Geno replied but he didn’t seem to be taking this too seriously.

“I mean it G, their best chance of beating us is getting penalties called, we need you on the ice.” He looked away and then back at Geno, heat running over his face, “I need you on the ice.”

“I’m do best, try hardest. Promise.”

~~~

66: Does your dad need anything for tonight? He’s coming in the box yes?

To 66: He’ll need access to the locker room to pick her up after warm ups but I think his pass sorts that? Yes to the box, I hope it’s not too busy he’s worried about messing this up.

66: I’ll come down with him; security won’t say no to me, they’re used to it by now :)

To 66: Thanks! The paperwork’s underway so now my parents know and I haven’t yet become a total disaster on the ice I might not have to hide her much longer.

66: opposite of disaster Sid, you’re playing brilliantly (don’t quote this message in negotiations please!) And you’re happier which is most important.

To 66: Thanks :D I won’t quote you!

~~~

PensNews (19.24) Quick start for the penguins as Orpik makes it 1-0 just 4.21 into the first

PensNews (19.32) all level at 7.41

PensNews (19.49) Not looking good at the end of the first. 1-3 in favour of the Bruins, shots 5-12.

Cr0sby (19.52) @PensNews I’m not enjoying this at all! You watching @PensFan7187

PensFan7187 (19.54) @Cr0sby Yep! Not enjoying it though, Malkin’s hurt maybe? Looks like he’s not quite on it.

Cr0sby (19.57) @PensFan7187 He doesn’t look quite right but him and Crosby were having words on the way off, he didn’t look happy with him.

PensFan7187 (20.04) @Cr0sby Maybe concerned rather than unhappy? They’re both smiling again coming out for the second so here’s hoping :)

Cr0sby (20.10) @PensFan7187 Yep looking better already great goal from the captain!

PensNews (20.25) Penguins draw level 3-3 with a powerplay goal, Malkin from Crosby.

Cr0sby (20.27) @PensFan7187 Friends again now it seems

PensFan7187 (20.29) @Cr0sby :D

PensNews (21.47) The game ends in favour of the Bruins 3-5

PensFan7187 (21.53) @Cr0sby :(

Cr0sby (21.54) @PensFan7187 Off to cry myself to sleep now :-(

~~~

“I’ll book a car for the morning so you two can sleep if you want.”

“I take, is ok.”

“Yeah? You sure?”

“Least can do,” Geno squeezed Sid’s thigh where his hand was resting, “For make us see.”

“I’m glad my turning up was positive in the end,” Troy winked at Geno and Sid couldn’t help feeling embarrassed “I’m sorry I upset you and that you were upset before.” He looked at Sid who smiled and nodded at him. “To make up for it, hopefully, I thought I’d offer our accountant to Jack, just to check things out for him, check on his mother if he wants.”

“For sure!” Sid moved suddenly, knocking Geno’s hand from his leg as he sat forward, “That’s a great plan, she shouldn’t be checking up on him, it’s not normal and something about it just makes me uncomfortable.”

“What she do?”

“She gets his credit card bills and bank statements instead of him. Checks what he’s spending and lets herself into the house when she wants, not that my dad doesn’t have a habit of that!” Troy laughed as did Geno, “She found the cot in the guest room and a Penguins bib I’d left in the kitchen and then she rang my dad.”

“That not good!” Geno shook his head, “Jack ok?”

“I think so, we can check on him when we play them next, they’ve changed the travel plan so we can stay with him again.”

“Okay, glad you able to check. Also accountant good idea, not want like friend in Russia, play all life find all money gone.”

“That’s awful!” Troy exclaimed, “How did that happen?”

“Parents think can borrow, think they earn by way bring up, think he owe.”

“How?” Troy’s mouth hung open as he stared at Geno, “How could someone do that to their child?”

“I’m not know,” Geno tickled Sophie’s foot smiling at her as she kicked tiredly at him.

“I’ll offer our accountant and if he says no then you two can persuade him when you play, hopefully she’s just bloody nosy not doing something really bad.”

“Okay,” the word was lost in a yawn as Sid coughed and stretched, “Time for bed I think,”

“Daddy tired baby girl,” Geno picked Sophie up out of her bouncy chair where she was almost asleep herself, “let’s get sleep.”

 

~~~

Jane: I opened the photos, your daughter is beautiful. She’s so big, it’s nice to see her growing and the one where she smiled was so cute.

To Jane: I’m so glad you felt ready, she’s the most beautiful little girl I’ve ever seen :D

Jane: I put some of the flowers in the bin yesterday and the chocolates that came last week have been looking at me from the top of the pile of envelopes. It seemed like the right time.

To Jane: Do you want to come see her? Geno thought you’d like the chocolates, I’m sorry if the presents pushed you into it.

Jane: The presents have been lovely, you don’t have to though. Are you free this afternoon? I know you played last night so you can say no, I don’t want to intrude.

To Jane: Geno sends the presents not me, he says he’s knows he doesn’t have to but he hopes they make you smile like Sophie makes me smile. He’s rather attached to her himself! We’re free the rest of the day if you want to visit, I can kick Geno out whenever you want :D

Jane: Don’t kick him out on my account; I should thank him for the flowers, chocolates and the cards anyway :)

To Jane: I’ll let him stay then haha ;) do you want to come for lunch? We normally nap around 3.

Jane: We! That’s so cute, I’d never really considered family nap time but it makes sense of how you keep playing like you are! Lunch would be nice, give me a distraction if I need it, I might not stay long but I’d really like to see her.

To Jane: shall we say 1 for lunch at 1.30?

Jane: Works for me, see you then xx

~~~

“Should I change her clothes? Put proper ones on her or will the sleepsuit be ok do you think?”

“I think she clean and Jane not come look at clothes.”

“But she needs to know we’re looking after her, needs to see she’s ok here.”

“Come,” Geno beckoned him over and Sid slid into his arms, letting himself collapse into his hold as Geno tipped his head to kiss him, long and languid and absolutely perfect. “Sophie happy, healthy, safe and loved. Jane know this, is not come for test, just to meet.”

“She could still change her mind G,” it was little more than a whisper and accompanied by a sob and Sid was grateful when Geno didn’t disagree with him and simply held him closer while he pulled himself together. “Rationally I know she won’t,” he lifted his head and looked at Geno.

“Heart not rational,” Geno winked just as Sophie gave a cry from her place on the changing mat returning Sid’s attention to getting her ready and allowing Geno to disappear back to the kitchen where he was busy preparing salad and fish for lunch.

 

The doorbell went at just after one and Sid picked Sophie up from the floor, tucking her in against his chest, her face hidden in his neck, and carried her to the door to open it and invite Jane in with a voice that he hoped didn’t sound as shaky to the outside world as it did inside his body. “Nice to see you,”

“You too,” she reached up to kiss his cheek and smiled, “I hope I look a bit better than last time you saw me?” She laughed.

“You look beautiful and you looked beautiful then.”

“I looked wrecked!” She rolled her eyes and shook her head, a smile pulling at her lips.

“You looked like you’d just created a little human which you had,” he smiled, “Speaking off” he gestured at the baby, “you want to have a hold?”

It took a long moment, many different things playing across her face, and then she took a deep breath and nodded, “I’d love to hold your daughter if that’s ok?”

“For sure,” The warm feeling in his chest and the flutter of his stomach were much like the first time Geno had said the word daddy to Sophie and suddenly he wasn’t scared of Jane taking her away he was only hopeful that she, herself, wouldn’t be a stranger.

~~~

PensGossip: (10.30) How do they do that? An inside look at how the Penguins deal with the logistics of a one game roadie. [Multiple photos attached]

Cr0sby (11.05) @PensFan7187 I thought packing for a holiday was bad until I saw those photos of everything the equipment guys need to pack for ONE game on the road!

PensFan7187 (11.17) @Cr0sby It looks crazy but then it’s for a lot of people I guess. Do you think they all have a bag and a trunk?

Cr0sby (11.21) @PensFan7187 If you zoom in on the picture of the holdalls they all have numbers on I think so they might be pads and skates and stuff? The trunks don’t though or at least I can’t see them.

PensFan7187 (11.26) @Cr0sby I hadn’t noticed that! You’re right though I think, they might have two each though because there seem to be two 87 ones. I love behind the scenes photos :-D

Cr0sby (11.28) @PensFan7187 Me Too! These guys have 46 bags to remember, lots of trunks and god knows what else!! I panic about remembering one carry on and a passport when I fly ;)

PensFan7187 (11.35) @Cr0sby I’m the same, I wonder if they ever forget anything. Our Captain would never cope with that!

 

~~~

Sophie was doing better with sleeping and they’d been taking it in turns to get up with her in the night which meant that Sid was getting more sleep than he had been before his dad’s unexpected visit. The opposite, however, should have been true for Geno who was now disturbed by Sophie’s crying and was getting dragged into the arena for training and practice earlier than he ever would have turned up before but it didn’t seem to be.

They’d slept together, holding hands, touching arms or curled up around each other, every night and every afternoon since Troy went home and Sid was beginning to suspect that Geno might not have been sleeping all that well before that which was something he really wanted to investigate but also felt slightly uncomfortable about.

“Do you think we should call them and cancel?” Sid was sat between Geno’s thighs, leaning back against his chest, Geno’s arms wrapped around him, supporting Sophie as she drank her bottle and looked up at them both with wide eyes.

“Jake be sad if cancel, say Mark looking forward.”

“I know but we’re doing ok, we don’t really need the help do we?”

“Not bout need,” Geno kissed the top of his head and held him just a little tighter “Jake say want ok and I want night not woken, I want you sleep all night. Also want see Jake and Mark.”

“Yeah,” Sid turned his head, smiling up at him and pushing up for a kiss, “You like Jake and Mark?”

“They good people,” Geno smiled, “Sophie like them; they help even though no reason.”

“I’m not sure how I’d have managed without Jake and his ability to sneak her into places.” Sophie smiled up at her dad as he took the bottle from her mouth and sat her up on his knee to pat her back. “We can’t sit around like this with them here though.”

“I’m think we can,” Geno kissed the side of his neck making him squirm, “I’m think no one say I sleep on floor last time,” he kissed the other side of his neck and Sid laughed, sitting himself up to get away while still holding Sophie on his knee, “Also think they not care.”

“Do you think?” he could feel his heart thumping harder in his chest and he was fairly sure that his face was betraying his panic as he swung his legs to the floor and stood up, putting Sophie to his shoulder.

“Sidney Crosby is best penguin,” he stood up slowly, “Fans love him,” he moved carefully towards him, “team love him, Mario love him,” he was only a step away as his hand reached tentatively for Sid’s and Sid took it, gripping tightly giving away the shaking of his body, “I love him.” He stepped right into his space, “and I think some people understand we keep quiet but not secret.” Wrapping his arms around Sid and Sophie he kissed the back of Sophie’s head and then the tip of Sid’s nose “I think Jake and Mark be some people.”

Sid couldn’t speak, his brain was going back and forward over those three little words even as the rest of him was trying to process the bit about Jake. “You love me?” He finally breathed out and Geno laughed, grinning widely.

“Of course I’m love, love both of you.”

Pushing up on his toes to bring their lips together in a gentle kiss Sid grinned as Sophie reached out and tucked her fist into Geno’s shirt, holding them together, “We love you too.”

~~~

Geno had offered to make scrambled eggs for dinner while Sid and Sophie showered and changed ready for their guests but Sid was confident that they owed Jake and Mark, and themselves, a better dinner than that so they’d swapped roles, Sid cooking chicken, rice and stir-fry vegetables, while Geno got Sophie sorted which is why a towel wrapped Russian centre and a vest clad baby answered the door when Jake rang the bell.

“Don’t mind him,” Sid shouted from the kitchen as Geno showed them in, trying to keep his voice stable and hating that he even suspected that Geno had been late getting dressed on purpose, “He was having too much fun with Soph to get out of the shower on time.”

“She like water, like splash.” Geno shrugged, “is fun.”

“Looks like it,” Jake said as he walked down the hall to the kitchen, “We brought this.” He put a bottle of wine down on the counter, “I don’t know if you drink the day before or not so don’t let me lead you astray, the coach will kill me, but it seemed impolite not to bring anything.”

“Given you’re helping us out and G couldn’t even be bothered to be dressed when you got here I’m not sure it’s you who risks being impolite.” He laughed hoping the tightness wasn’t coming through in his voice.

“I find shirt, you dress baby.” Geno handed Sophie to Mark, who nodded a yes, and then he jogged away towards the stairs.

Mark stood in the doorway looking confused for a second while Jake asked all about dinner but finally Sid looked up from the chopping board and caught the look on Mark’s face. “Clothes are on the couch.”

“Thanks. Let’s go put them on shall we sweetheart,” Sophie blew bubbles at him. “One day, when you learn to talk not just blow bubbles, you’ll really get a say and Daddy and Uncle G won’t know what to do with you you know.” Mark chatted to Sophie as they walked away and Sid concentrated on his breathing, trying to relax and to enjoy time with people he was beginning to feel were friends and friends that he could, maybe, be himself with.

They ate dinner while Sid and Geno passed Sophie between them, taking turns to cut up their chicken and vegetables while their hands were free and then shovelling food with just a fork while Sophie curled up in their arms, keeping her eyes open and watching them all with great suspicion and interest as they chatted about Mark’s Job and his family, Jake’s college soccer career, Geno’s challenges with learning English and Sid’s wish to travel to new countries and see new things.

Talking, laughing and enjoying a meal without any mention of hockey was not something Sid was used to but when Sophie started to whimper and wriggle in his hold, clearly getting hungry, and he notices three hours had gone by since they sat down to eat he was fairly sure he’d like to spend more evenings with Jake and Mark.

“Time for daddy and Uncle G to go to bed now isn’t it beautiful,” Jake accepted Sophie into his arms when Sid offered her over, “Mark and I will look after you tonight, we promise.” He said to Sophie but caught the eye of both Sid and Geno as he did so, “so why don’t you show me where your sleepsuits are while Mark makes you up a lovely bottle of milk?”

Geno jumped out of his seat, “I get sleepsuit,” and hurried away while Sid sat looking around him feeling slightly off kilter as Mark put the kettle on and set about the bottle and Jake put the changing mat on the table and laid Sophie on it, stripping her clothes and changing her nappy like he’d done it a hundred time. “I’m bring three and two vest” he set them down next to Sophie’s head on the table and leant down to kiss her cheek, “Sleep well beautiful girl.”

“You too uncle G,” Jake spoke for Sophie and lifted her hand to wave at him.

“I take daddy with me,” he winked at Sophie and tugged at Sid’s shoulder.

“Sorry,” Sid shook his head, clearing his thoughts from the weird daydream like state he’d just been experiencing, “be good sweetheart,” he stroked Sophie’s cheek and kissed her forehead and then he slipped his hand into Geno’s, smiling as he squeezed it just a little tighter, and lead the way to bed in expectation of a good eight hours sleep rather than just a fool’s hope.

Chapter Text

Jane: Tell Geno the photo album is beautiful :) also I had my last session with the therapist today, thanks for paying for that. xx

To Jane: If you ever want to go back just let me know but I’m so glad you feel you’re finished for now :D G thought you’d like the butterflies on the album, he has every intention of sending enough photographs to fill it before Sophie’s even 1!

Jane: That’s so sweet! I’m glad having a daughter hasn’t come between you and your friends. I’ve watched a few games recently, how on earth do you play two nights in a row when you’ve got a baby keeping you up?

To Jane: Back to backs are the worst! Family nap time saves the day normally and we have friends who come and stay over and look after her so we can sleep sometimes haha :D

Jane: I’m glad she’s getting in some kind of routine for you :) Did it stand up to the week out west?

To Jane: Not really! My mum and dad flew down and we got a suite so that they could look after her without her being away from me. It worked ok and we won two out of three so not bad. We’re off again on Saturday, New Jersey, Columbus and Washington, and two games before we go! It’s a wonder she’s doing so well when I’m all over the place!

Jane: I’m glad your mum and dad helped, I know you were worried. Sophie has you, it is no surprise that she’s doing so well. :D Xxxxx

To Jane: You’re nicer to me than I deserve but thank you. We’re still up for the visit after the roadie if you are? Bring your swimmers and Sophie will show you want she can do. Xx

Jane: I’m very much looking forward to it, good luck with all the games and the travel! Xx

~~~

The locker room echoed with Sophie’s cries as Tanger gave up on his attempts to settle her and handed her back to Sid, patting him on the shoulder consolingly as he walked back to his stall to pull on his pads. Sid had got his under armour and his lower body pads and pants on while Neal, Orpik and Tanger had each made at attempt to settle his daughter who’d been crying almost constantly since their pregame nap had been disturbed a few hours ago.

“Come on beautiful girl, please stop crying,” he was begging with exhaustion and desperation, they had just over ten minutes to warm-ups and she probably needed feeding again given that she’d thrown up most of the last bottle having drunk it in between crying fits, and there was no way Mario was going to be able to have her up in the box with him when she was making this noise which meant he had no clue what he was going to do with her while he played even if Jake was ok with her for warm ups.

“I know you’re tired, I know it’s hard.” He stroked her back, bouncing on his toes as he walked across the room, “You’re such a good girl, you try so hard for daddy and you’ve been so perfect for nearly forty games. Daddy’s so lucky to have you but he really needs you to help him out now sweetheart.” He kept whispering in her ear as he moved around the room, avoiding everyone as they pulled on their gear and wishing Geno would get back from wherever he’d gone and hold Sophie long enough for him to put his pads and shirt on.

“Is she ever going to shut up?” Blysma stalked into the room, “I can’t hear myself think never mind speak!”

“I’m trying coach,” he curled his body protectively around Sophie, “her nap got disturbed and she’s struggling.”

“I don’t care! This game matters, we need to win it and this bloody noise isn’t helping!”

“I know it matters coach, that’s why I was in this morning just like every morning, training, skating and watching tape, and she was as good as she always has been.” He stepped closer to Blysma who was still scowling at him and dropped his voice to more of an angry growl, “If she’d not had her nap disturbed twice this afternoon she’d be doing fine so just back off ok!”

“Her nap isn’t my responsibility!”

“Mine should be though!” Sid shouted and Sophie went quiet in his arms, “You rang me in the middle of what should have been my pre game nap to ask me to call the new guy who hasn’t even made it here for the game, you woke me and you woke Sophie when you should have known better and then twenty minute later, when I’d talked to him and just about got Sophie back to sleep you rang G to ask him to do exactly the same thing and woke her up again so yes Sir it is your responsibility!”

“Why the fuck would me ringing Malkin have any effect on Sophie’s nap? You sleep in two different houses not the same fucking bed.”

“We not!” Geno, who had just returned to the locker room, stated calmly as he strode across the room until he was next to Sid where he put one arm around his back, hand resting on his hip, and laid the other along Sid’s, slipping their fingers together where their hands rested on Sophie’s back.

The room was silent and Sid was frozen to the spot, only his eyes able to move, glancing around in search of the reaction of the room. Flower and Tanger were almost grinning, and Orpik and Neal were unsuccessfully hiding smiles behind their hands while the rest of the room seemed to be an even split between shocked and confused.

“Okay,” Blysma finally found his voice, “Okay then. So, yeah, sorry about the nap thing and, erm, and, yeah one phone for both of you from now on okay?”

Sid nodded, unable to make his body do any more than that, grateful that Geno was there to hold him up because his legs seemed to have disappeared from under him.

“That work,” Geno smiled at his coach, “Also I find babysit, got permission, Mark be here before game and stay in locker room so no matter if Sophie cry.”

“Good, thanks.” Blysma nodded again and then, just before he turned away and walked out of the room, he stepped forward and patted them both on the shoulder and it was like the touch brought Sid’s body back on line, making him smile and breathe and relax more thoroughly than he ever thought he had.

“Who had in the locker room before a Washington game?” Flower jumped up on his skates as soon as the door shut behind Blysma, “Come on who wins?”

He was clearly joking, much of the rest of the room still shocked and confused by the last few minutes but Tanger, Neal, Orpik and half a dozen other guys joined Flower in his attempt to hug the life out of Sid and Geno, while carefully avoiding Sophie, and Sid didn’t even think twice as he leaned his head over and kissing Geno.

“Fine!” Came a shout from behind him and Geno grinned, wide and cheeky and kissed him again.

 

~~~

To Jack: Are we still ok to stay? If we are can Geno stay? If we’re not can you reassure me you met with my accountant?

Jack: Of course you can stay, I’ve been looking forward to it, I changed the locks after I spoke to your guy so there’ll be no one spying, I changed a lot of things with his help so thanks. As for Geno I only have one guest room.

To Jack: I’m glad he could help, I hope you’re ok with it all, let me know if there’s anything I can do. We’d only need one room if that was ok with you?

Jack: does that mean what I think that means? :D I think we caught things before they went too far! Thanks for getting your dad to set me up with the guy.

To Jack: I think so :) Dad suggested the accountant for you after your mum rang him, glad he could help.

Jack: Sidney Patrick Crosby I am so fucking proud of you!! I love you you know. Xxx

To Jack: Thank you and I love you too. See you soon xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

~~~

 

Room service meals, the travel co-sleeping crib and Jake’s ability to somehow sneak a house full of baby equipment into hotel rooms and arenas without anyone noticing had made this all much easier than Sid had thought it might be when Jane first suggested the idea and he’d certainly kept the secret for longer than he thought he’d have managed but now that the final papers were in front of the judge, the hearing planned for the day after the ducks game, he was feeling a little less like room service was his only option while his team, his friends, enjoyed team dinner in the restaurant.

“Text Shero and Bylsma to check aren’t worried, and Mario so prepare, then we go for dinner, eat with team.”

Sid rolled over in Geno’s arms, resting his arm on his chest as he pushed up to kiss his smile. “I know you can read my mind on the ice but it’s a bit weird that you can do it when I’m lying in bed as well.”

“In bed best mind read,” he waggled his eyebrows, eyes sparkling, and Sid laughed.

“Not now man,” Sid laughed, “gotta eat!”

 

Shero sounded confused when Sid rang for permission to attend dinner and then weirdly relieved. The team had, apparently, been eating in closed dining rooms in hotels for weeks, food served buffet fashion, set out before they arrived and cleared out after they left, so that Sophie could join them without being seen but everyone thought someone else had told him and that he’d chosen not to join them which was, when he thought about it, a really bad look for the Captain.

“Do you think they think I didn’t want to?” Sid asked Geno as he helped him arrange the straps of Sophie’s wrap across his chest ready for her, “Why didn’t you tell me what was happening before you started eating with me.”

“I’m not think, not notice, just eat quick, get back here.” Geno shrugged, blushed and looked away, “Sorry.”

“That’s sweet.” Sid touched his arm prompting him to look back at him, “You really are amazing you know.”

The blush on Geno’s cheeks spread down his neck, past where the collar of his shirt would be if he wasn’t currently bare chested but for the wrap, and Sid kissed him, hard and fast, his hands roaming over his abs and across his back for just a moment before he let go and stepped away.

“Not fair,” Geno sulked as Sid moved out of his reach and picked Sophie up from her bouncy chair.

“Not fair is making us eat in our room for two months instead of with our friends isn’t it sweetheart,” Sid sing-songed to Sophie, “But we forgive him don’t we?”

Sophie burbled some milky bubbles and Sid kissed her cheek, turning to offer her other cheek to Geno who kissed it and then took her in his arms, holding her against his chest as Sid arranged the straps of the wrap, through her legs, across her back and around her head so that she sat upright, her head resting over his heart, one of her very favourite positions.

Pulling his jumper around him and zipping it over Sophie he checked the hold of the wrap, and that the back of the zip wasn’t resting on her anywhere, and then, with a conscious effort, he moved his arms to his sides, resisting the urge to reach for Sid’s hand, and they made their way down to dinner, taking the stairs and hoping that Sophie would manage the three minutes it would take without making a noise.

 

~~~

“I need some help,” Flower looked up from his steak as Sid spoke to the table

“Yeah?”

“Sophie’s hearing is next week, just after Anaheim.”

“Will she be yours then?” Neal asked, “Officially I mean.” He added quickly as a table full of angry eyes turned on him, “She’s yours now just I know you had paperwork to do and stuff.”

“Yes it’ll be official then.”

“Does that mean we can take photos?” A small voice asked and Sid turned his eyes on Bennett who was looking at his plate, clearly shy about asking the question, and he ducked his head even further when he realised that the eyes of the table had fallen on him.

“I mean like, my mum said the worst part of being on her own with us was that she didn’t have any photos now, like she’s got lots of us but none with her in and I know you’re not on your own now, and maybe you never were but… but there’s been lots of times when you’ve been doing things with Sophie, like when you’re peddling and holding her on your hip or she’s lying on your chest while you do your legs or the time you made us all strap ten pounds to our chests for conditioning skate because you were carrying Sophie in her wrap and it wasn’t fair if we didn’t and lots of other times when I’ve reached for my phone thinking he’d like to remember this before realising I shouldn’t, not that I’d have shared them with anyone but you.”

He looked up looking slightly panicked that everyone might think he was some sort of weirdo but as Sid quickly glanced around the table all he saw were looks that match how he was feeling.

“That’s” he swallowed, “I” he stopped again and then he gave up trying to form words and instead got out of his chair, walked around the table and pulled Bennett up to his feet and in for a hug.

“So yeah, photos for sure.” He smiled as he sat back down, pulling his chair just a little closer to Geno who took the hint and slipped his arm around his shoulder, pulling him against his side. “And photos were kind of what I wanted help with.” He sat up properly again and Geno went back to eating his dinner two handed, “channelling Flower’s pranking skills to a more useful end for once if you’re all in?”

Chapter Text

He couldn’t help his reaction, his body curling itself around the pain, as his heart broke inside his chest when Jack opened the door and stepped back to let them in, not quite looking at him and certainly making no attempt to hug him like he normally did, not even a handshake.

It hurt like a knife to the chest, the pain of rejection and the fear that he’d fucked up by sending the accountant or worse, much worse, that Jack was ok with Sid being Sid in the theoretical but not so much in the practical and now that there was Geno, bag on his shoulder and Sophie’s car seat in his hand just a couple of steps behind him, Jack had decided that he couldn’t really do this.

He stepped through the door, arms wrapped across his chest, suppressing the urge to make a second attempt at a hug, and moved straight past him towards the stairs.

“Malkin,” Jack’s voice sounded tight and formal and Sid closed his eyes resisting every urge he had to turn around and go back through the door, back to the hotel to hide in his room for a few days.

“Johnson.” Geno sounded worried and a little nervous and it made Sid turn around to watch them as they shook hands more uncomfortably than any handshake he’d ever seen on the ice, “Thanks let stay,” Geno said as Jack nodded just once and then turned his attention to Sophie.

“Haven’t you grown beautiful?” And there was Jack, the real Jack, smiling at Sophie and touching her cheek before he suddenly pulled his hand away and stepped back looking at some point on the wall just left of Geno. “The cot’s made up and the bed, I thought I’d do pasta for dinner if that’s ok.”

“Thanks” Geno nodded and almost smiled and Sid shook himself forcing his brain to engage and make his mouth reply.

“Thanks Jack, do you want to keep Sophie with you while we get sorted?”

Turning to face him but not quite looking at him Jack wrung his hands nervously as he replied, “It’s ok, I’ll concentrate on the food,” and then he ducked away into the kitchen.

‘Chaperone’ was the first word he thought of as Jack turned his back, he wants her to chaperone us so we don’t do anything he doesn’t like, and the pain in his chest and the lead weight in his limbs doubled.

“Where room?” Geno was suddenly next to him, not as close as he’d usually be but then he wasn’t stupid, he’d have picked up on Jack’s feelings too, “need change baby, she smell.” He grinned down at Sophie who was looking up at him while chewing on her fist.

“Sorry, yeah,” Sid shook himself and picked up the bag he’d put down earlier, “top of the stairs on the left.”

 

Dinner should have tasted delicious, it was the vegetable and tomato pasta with cheese that Jack had made the first time Sid had visited his family in the school holidays and it always made Sid feel calm and cared for, always except for right now when it was like swallowing nails with added glass shards and his stomach was threatening to send it back up at any moment.

Geno was sat at one end of the table, Jack at the other while Sid sat half way between them, Sophie kicking her legs and blowing bubbles in her car seat, on the table, across from him and the limited conversation that was happening was happening with her not with the adults.

“I can’t eat any more,” Sid said quietly as he put down his fork and pushed his chair back to stand up, “Can I put the kettle on for a bottle?” He looked at Jack, hoping that he’d finally look back at him but he kept his focus on the dinner as he nodded around a fork full of food.

“I’m do.” Geno said, getting to his feet, “You two talk.”

Sid watched as Jack’s face flashed through half a dozen emotions, most of them looking like horror and fear, before it settled on something that Sid couldn’t read at all but he didn’t argue with Geno so Sid sat back down and tried to think of something to say.

The silence stretched and Sid went back to picking at his dinner and trying not to cry. None of this made sense, Jack had been so happy when he’d asked if he could bring Geno with him, told him he was proud of him no less, and yet now, now that they were here in his house it was clear that he didn’t like it, didn’t like Sid any more, didn’t want them to be here.

He’d expected a hug when he arrived, one of Jack’s patented it’s good to see you and I can’t believe how much I’ve missed you hugs, exactly like the one he’d received the first time he and Sophie had stayed. He’d expected smiles and questions and an eagerness to have Sophie out of her seat and in his arms before he let them up the stairs and he’d hoped that they’d chat and joke and that Jack would somehow, over the course of the evening, migrate from Malkin to Geno and his life would become a little more perfect. None of that had happened though, none of this was how he’d imagined it and he had no idea what he was going to do now that Jack hated him.

“I’m go stay at hotel,” Geno reappeared from the kitchen and slammed Sophie’s bottle down on the table making both Sid and Jack jump. “Be better I’m not here.”

“What no!” Sid exclaimed and reached for Geno’s hand but he pulled away.

“This not how you tell because me, so I’m go,”

“We’ll all go then,” Sid looked up at Geno, eyes pleading, and Jack made a wounded sound and dropped his head in his hands.

“We not.” Geno leant down, resting his hand on Sid’s cheek, holding his gaze. “You stay and be you, Jack and Sophie like last time, like when you smile, you not smile when I here.”

Sid swallowed around the glass and nails in his throat and glanced at Jack, who still had his head in his hands, before he looked back at Geno. “I think Jack would prefer it if I left.”

“No!” Jack shouted, startling everyone and making Sophie cry. “Shit, sorry Soph,” he reached to pick her up and snuggled her against his chest until she stopped crying and then he looked panicked again. “Sorry, sorry Malkin erm Geno, sorry I shouldn’t have, I was just closer, sorry.” He offered Sophie to Geno and when he didn’t take her he tried offering her to Sid but Geno caught his hand and stopped him taking her and Jack looked confused.

“You want Sid leave Jack?” Jack’s face did a weird thing at Geno using his name rather than Johnson and then he shook his head, cuddling Sophie just a little closer. “You not like now he has boyfriend?”

“What?” Jack looked horrified, “No! How can you say that? How can you even think it?”

The tension in Sid’s chest started to ease and the pain in his stomach lessened just a little but his heart still hurt, something was wrong and he needed it sorted out.

“I’m not think,” Geno said gently, moving closer to Sid, slipping his arm around his shoulder and pulling him a little closer, “Sid think maybe that why you not hug, not touch and why not hold Sophie.”

“That’s not.” Jack started and then shook his head looking down at the floor, “That’s not what’s happening.”

“I’m think not this, I’m think you worry stand on feet, so I go hotel you make Sid smile like last time.”

“Stand on feet?” Jack questioned

“Tread on toes.” Sid whispered, eyes tracking backwards and forwards from Geno to Jack who were looking at each other and seemingly communicating something that he couldn’t understand at least not while his heart was struggling to pull itself together around the concept of having to spend his life choosing between Geno and Jack rather than being allowed to have them both.

“I’m sorry,” Jack turned all his attention on Sid “you know I love you right?” Sid tried to nod but it wasn’t very successful because, to be honest, he’d spent the last two hours convincing himself that he didn’t. “I told you I was proud of you for this, that I loved you, I’ve told you that since we were kids and you told me you didn’t understand how I could find girls interesting.”

“But you’re being weird, keeping away.”

“Because your boyfriend’s here Sid, it’s not the thing to cuddle other people’s boyfriends when they’re stood right there.”

“I’m not own Sid.”

“Yeah I know that but,”

“But what,” Sid moved towards Jack, suddenly needing to be closer, “What’s the problem.”

Jack looked over Sid’s shoulder at Geno who reached to take Sophie from his arms before moving away across the kitchen to give them some space. “I never thought I’d see the day that you had someone Sid.” Jack reached out his hand and Sid grasped it like a lifeline, pulling him closer. “Never thought I’d see you so happy and content and with so much more than hockey and I don’t want to stuff that up for you by standing on his feet.” Jack grinned and Sid laughed while Geno huffed in the corner and said something to Sophie in Russian. “I wanted Geno to feel comfortable here and I decided that me draping myself all over his boyfriend and stealing the baby was probably not going to achieve that. I’m sorry I screwed up.”

They stood looking at each other, Sid smiling and shaking his head while Jack just looked down at the floor cheeks red with embarrassment.

“We like Uncle Jack no?” Geno swung Sophie up in the air and she grinned at him, “Like he’s good to daddy, been good to daddy before us don’t we princess?” He brought her back down and settled her along his arm, picking up the bottle from the corner of the table and offering it too her. “We like Uncle Jack even better if he hug daddy like normal and I not have to go back to hotel though.”

Sid could see Geno watching them even though he was talking to Sophie and suddenly he realised that he had to take control of this situation, it wasn’t fair to expect Jack, who’d been his rock and his favourite source of physical affection for so long, to know how to navigate this situation on his own, so he pushed forward into Jack’s space and wrapped his arms around his chest cuddling close and Jack responded instantly, closing his arms around his back and hugging him like he always had, just the right way to put Sid’s heart back together in his chest.

“We go sit, eat, leave Daddy and Uncle Jack wash up.” Geno smiled at Sophie and then looked up at Sid and winked before he walked away.

 

~~~

 

Pack’n’playPens (10.23) The locker room is all ready for the guys, [picture of Defensemen side of locker room]

Pack’n’PlayPens (10.24) Forwards together [picture of shirts hanging in 87, 19, 18, 71 and 14 stalls.]

Pack’n’PlayPens (10.26) goalies either side of the door [Picture of two sets of goalie gear]

PensFan7187 (10.35) @Cr0sby zoom in on 19 and on the goalie gear and tell me what you see!

Cr0sby (10.38) @PensFan7187 Pacifiers! Bright green ones! But why?

PensFan7187 (10.40) @Cr0sby no clue! Glad I’m not going mad and seeing things though!

Cr0sby (10.43) @PensFan7187 maybe you should ask ;)

PensFan7187 (10.45) @Pack’n’PlayPens Do you generally take pacifiers on road trips? Are they for the rookies?

Cr0sby (10.47) @PensFan7187 OMG I can’t believe you did that :D

PensFan7187 (10.49), @Cr0sby Me neither! You’re such a bad influence!!

Pack’n’PlayPens (10.52) @PensFan7187 not allowed to say sorry ;)

Chapter Text

It had almost been an anti-climax when it happened, Sid and his attorney sat behind a desk in a courtroom, empty but for them, the social worker and the Judge, while the Judge read the papers in front of him, decreed the adoption legal and complete, and then got up and left, but it was done, Sophie was officially, legally, his daughter and when he walked back into his house, finding Sophie playing with Geno, Jane and his mum and dad, the house all ready for the party the team had planned in celebration, it felt different in a way he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

“Congrats,” Jane jumped up from the floor, grinning at Sid as she picked Sophie up and crossed the room, handing her to him.

“Thank you,” he smiled back, putting an arm around her shoulder hugging her, “Thank you for letting me have her, thanks for offering.”

“It was a crazy idea to try and catch you after that game but I’m so glad I did,” She smiled and then leant in closer and whispered, “You’ve been more amazing that I ever could have imagined.”

“Thank you,” he whispered back, kissing her cheek, “And don’t be a stranger okay?”

“I promise.”

 

~~~

 

PensGossip (15.25) With only a few games to go in the regular season the Penguins look to be taking some time to relax. [Video attached: Geno working the grill and dancing]

PensGossip (15.37) ‘The children have had fun in the pool, as have the kids!’ according to Orpik

Pack’n’PlayPens (15.49) I’m glad my responsibility ends at the arena door [photo of a driveway covered in hockey sticks, balls, footballs and random other sports equipment]

Cr0sby (15.53) @Pack’n’PlayPens I bet it’s hard to resist the urge to tidy up after them though ;)

Pack’n’PlayPens (15.55) @Cr0sby Not with one of these in my hand :D [Photo of cocktail glass in his hand]

Cr0sby (15.57) @Pack’n’PlayPens Fair enough ;) enjoy!

 

~~~

 

66: Without telling me anything I shouldn’t know reassure me that you and the equipment guy have a plan?

To 66: What? Jake? What’s got you worried?

66: Yes Jake, I assume the rise in behind the scenes photos and the fact Sophie’s stuff is in more and more of them is something you know about and not something I have to fire him for?

To 66: You can’t fire Jake! And yes I know, well sort of, you know I don’t do the social media thing but Flower’s working with him, we’re seeing how far we can go before someone asks ;)

66: so you’re having fun with the press and fans? Is it part of the telling people plan? Do we need to prepare something?

To 66: I don’t want it to be a thing when people find out I just want it to be as if she was never hidden just no one asked. All my idea, G won’t be involved so don’t worry about that this isn’t a coming out thing. Don’t panic!

66: Don’t say that to me! You know I’d have your back, both of you! The organisation would back you all the way! I just wanted to be sure you weren’t trusting Jake with Soph and being let down, like you said you don’t do social media so you might not have known

To 66: I didn’t mean anything by it sorry. Jake’s been a lifesaver not a bad guy :) if you want us to stop though we will.

66: No need to stop she’s your daughter you can tell the world any way you want and she’s been rather good for team spirit so I’m not knocking it :D

 

~~~

“We have a two game roadie after this and then one last home game before the end of the regular season. We’re in the playoffs but we still need to take things seriously, keep the right frame of mind.” Blysma addressed the room and everyone nodded seriously. “However there is one important thing to be done during tonight’s game that means we really have to win it.”

“Yeah!” the room cheered and Blysma laughed.

“You’ve all played well this season, come together as a team, worked hard around your captain, who has played like a machine despite suddenly being a single father and then around both Sidney and Geno once they started sharing the sleeplessness. We’re in the post season because we deserve it and we’ve earned it but if we lose tonight the press will have an excuse to blame our lucky charm who is finally meeting the world tonight and we’re not having that ok?”

Everyone nodded but that wasn’t enough for Blysma, “I said we’re not having that ok!”

“Ok!” the room shouted back and Sid laughed and kissed Sophie’s cheek.

“Over to you Cap.”

“Yeah so,” Sid stood up from his seat in the front row, Sophie wide awake and looking around at everyone as she sat on his hip, her fist curled into his shirt. “You’ve all done a great job over the last few weeks with the baby gear in the locker room and stuff, I know Flower’s enjoyed himself with it and especially when the press were there last night and the car seat was just sat on the floor begging questions and no one quite knew who to ask about it.”

The room laughed and Flower stood up and bowed, “The fans on social media have been asking Jake so many questions, it’s like playing spot the difference for them now, photos without baby gear are a disappointment.”

“Well tonight they get actual baby photos so god knows what will happen.”

“Break internet!” Geno responded winking at Sid and everyone laughed.

“So the plan?” Neal asked when everyone had stopped laughing.

“It’s simple really I’m just not going to hide her. No wrapping her up to get into the building I’m just going to carry her, she’s going to hang around near the bench for warm ups, up in the box with my mum and dad for the game and then down to the locker room for press.”

“She wear Crosby jersey team bought,” Geno interjected sounding just a little off and Sid nodded.

“Yeah she’ll be wearing my jersey so hopefully most people will get it.”

“And we just carry on as normal?” Flower asked.

“Pretty much yeah,” Sid replied and that was it, plan set.

 

~~~

HockeyBuzz (14.25) Should penguins fans be worried that Malkin’s house just hit the market? {Link} with just four games of the regular season to go and only one more year on his contract could this be the end of the 87 71 partnership?

Cr0sby (14.45) @PensFan7187 Have you seen this about Malkin? :( RT HockeyBuzz

PensFan7187 (14.47) @Cr0sby yes :( I want to cry :( he can’t leave!! Sid needs him!

Cr0sby (14.49) @PensFan7187 we all need him :( Where would he go?

PensFan7187 (14.53) @Cr0sby he’s not going anywhere I won’t allow it!!!

~~~

The alarm rang and Sid swiped at it, almost knocking it to the floor before he managed to silence it, and then he curled himself back around Geno, hand resting on Sophie’s tummy where she lay next to them, and breathed the moment in. This was it, these were the last moments inside their bubble, the last few minutes before the world knew about his daughter and as much as it would be a nice to be able to take her to the shop or the park or out for dinner it would also be the end of their little bubble of life, a little secret he’d kept from the world for the first time since he was too young to know the value of that.

“We stay here not play,” Geno pushed back into him just a little and covered his hand on Sophie with his own “stay home.”

“I wish we could,” Sid kissed the back of his neck as he snuggled closer, “but we have a game to play and this little lady,” he moved his hand gently on Sophie’s tummy making her squirm as she began to wake up, “has a whole world to meet.”

“She not need world, she has us” Geno grouched, “you.” he corrected quickly, tensing slightly in Sid’s arms

“Us for sure” Sid pushed up on his elbow and twisted around best he could to kiss him, “still be nice if we could take her to family skate though?”

Geno looked up at him from the bed, eyes doing a million things before he finally grinned, “Family skate good yes. We get up.”

Sid’s phone buzzed on the bedside table and he reached over Geno to pick it up clicking it open and then showing the screen to him.

Jack: Good luck tonight, I can’t wait to see the pictures ;D

“Be lots of you two, we send him best.” Geno smiled but he sounded not quite right just as he had earlier in the team meeting and once could be an accident, a dry throat or distraction but twice, and if he really thought about it probably more times than that over the last few days, had to be something.

“Come here,” he rolled onto his back pulling at Geno’s shoulder until he turned over so he could cuddle him against his side, head on his shoulder, and run his fingers up and down his side in the way that always made him relax. “Talk to me.” He nuzzled into his hair, kissing his head as he relaxed against him, “If you want me to call this off I will.”

“No! Not want that!”

Sid tightened his arms until Geno relaxed back down against him.

“Just bit sad, know Sophie not mine and know we not tell about us but still sad.”

“Oh Baby,” Sid breathed out and then tried to bite the ‘baby’ back, he’d never let pet names slip out of his brain before, but Geno didn’t seem to mind in fact quite the opposite if the way he curled in closer was anything to go by. “Sophie loves you,” he kissed his head, “I love you,” he kissed him again, “you’re moving in with us here and we have matching tickets for Russia and Canada. I know the paperwork only has my name on it but Blysma’s never had an issue even when he found out like he did, Shero’s not even mentioned it and Mario bit my head off for suggesting he might be worried about us coming out so if you want to do something we can.”

“Not want to tell everything but maybe something?”

“Okay then,” Sid smiled into his hair, “lets do something.”

~~~

Pack’n’PlayPens (17.35) everything’s ready for the players arriving for the game [photo of the fully kitted out locker room]

PensNews (17.41) Kunitz, Orpik and Neal [photo]

PensNews (17.42) Flower, Bennett [photo]

PensNews (17.43) Crosby, Sophie and Malkin [photo]

PensNews (17.44) Dupois, Engelland, Adams and Cooke [photo]

PensNews (17.47) Vokoun and Niskanen [photo]

Cr0sby (17.52) @PensFan7187 Sophie???!!!!

PensFan7187 (17.53) @Cr0sby what?

Cr0sby (17.54) @PensFan7187 you not seen @PensNews arrival photos for today???

PensFan7187 (17.56) @Cr0sby @PensNews No! Not made it home yet! What did I miss??

PensFan7187 (17.56) @Cr0sby @PensNews Scratch that! Seen it now and yes Sophie???!!!

Cr0sby (17.57) @PensFan7187 so who is she?? She has a tiny 87 shirt on but he’s not dating is he?

PensFan7187 (17.59) @Cr0sby that shirt is so cute and she must be the Captain’s look how he’s looking at her! #SOOOOCUTE

Cr0sby (18.01) @PensFan7187 Do you think she’s who all the pacifiers and random baby gear in @Pack’n’PlayPens photos belong to?

PensFan7187 (18.06) @Cr0sby @Pack’n’PlayPens Maybe but why? Other guys have kids, why would the Captain’s be different, unless she didn’t have a mum or something but not even he could make that work surely :D

Cr0sby (18.09) @PensFan7187 @Pack’n’PlayPens Having a baby without a girl involved or playing like he has been while having a baby without a girl to look after it :D

PensFan7187 (18.11) @Cr0sby Both!!

PensNews (18.31) Your Penguins head out for warmups with fist bumps from their lucky charm [Video of Jake holding Sophie by the gate]

 

~~~

Relaxing in to his warmup, concentrating on the movement of the puck against the yellow and red ice in front of him Sid focused on his body, his touch, his movements like he always did and the edge of concern slipped away leaving him calm and ready as the signal came to leave the ice.

Sophie was sat on the wall as he skated towards the gate and as he got close he clicked off his helmet and gave her a kiss, grinning at her as she smiled at him, and then he nodded purposefully at Jake who nodded back and held up Sophie’s hand to wave, “Good luck daddy,” he spoke for her and Sid laughed.

“Thanks beautiful, tell uncle G the same okay.”

 

~~~

PensNews (18.55) Malkin last to leave the ice as always. [Video attached]

Cr0sby (18.57) @PensNews Did Malkin just kiss Crosby’s kid? @PensFan7187

PensFan7187 @Cr0sby @PensNews Look at those smiles!! :D

 

~~~

“Social media is going baby penguin nuts right now and we want that to continue not to be replaced by suggestions that we’re not taking this game seriously because she’s here so get out there hard and fast, challenge for everything, hard on the fore-check, quick on the back-check and keep your discipline, their powerplay if third best in the league and our PK is not!”

Nods of agreement ran across the room.

“We can win this, we will win this because this room, this group, this team can do anything!” he shouted and the room roared its agreement as they all got to their feet, fist bumps, back slaps, hip checks and handshakes being exchanged as they lined up to head for the ice.

 

~~~

PensNews (19.47) Game tied at zeros at the end of the first, both teams playing hard but clean with no penalties to either side.

PensNews (20.42) Game still all zeros at the end of the second, shots 25-24, the goalies are having a game!

PensNews (21.37) the Penguins take the game 3-0 with goals from Crosby, Kunitz and Orpik late in the third. Shots 40-38, Flower with the shutout!

~~~

 

The team filed back into the locker room, dropping their gear into the relevant bins as they passed them on the way before ditching skates and pads in their stalls as quickly as possible ready for the arrival of the press. They had five minutes, officially, before they had to open the door but that never quite seemed like long enough to get things fit for company and today they really wanted to be ready.

Geno left the locker room as soon as he’d removed his skates, taking just a moment to check in with Sid, before he disappeared and Sid changed his shirt quickly, wiping himself down best he could as Jen opened the door and ushered the press in, guiding them straight to Flower’s stall.

Jen was not a woman to be argued with, even Sid knew that, but a couple of reporters seemed less than inclined to do as they were told and made their way towards his stall instead.

“Crosby will speak as he always does,” Jen spoke loudly but calmly, “but our shutout goalie is on first call so this way gentleman.”

The two men did as they were told and joined the huddle around Flower asking him questions about his saves, specifically the behind the back one early in the second, and about his attempt at a goalie goal once there was an empty net available and Flower was his happy, smilie, talkative self, giving Sid plenty of time to cool down and get himself in order.

When he was ready he sat down in his stall and caught Jen’s eye with a smile. “Last question,” she said to the crowd and before Flower had even finished answering it the crowd was moving away towards Sid, who took a breath, fixed his expression and braced himself.

“You scored the goal that broke the tie; did it feel like a special one?”

Credit to the reporter, he was at least trying to sound like he was asking about the game even if his eyes and smile said he was desperate to ask something else.

“It was a hard fought game, close all the way, end to end so it was good to get the breakthrough.” He smiled at the reporter who opened his mouth as if to ask something else but another voice cut in.

“You’ve earned your place in the playoffs will you be taking some time to relax before the post season?”

“We’ve three more to play, off on a roadie tomorrow then back here next Saturday, there’s no time for relaxing right now.” he laughed and a couple of reporters joined him, “All the games matter, we want to win them all.”

The locker room door clicked and Sid adjusted his position on the bench just slightly, turning towards Jen who’d positioned herself next to him when the huddle crowded round but was now stepping away, leaving a perfect space for Geno to slide into, Sophie in his arms.

“Hey beautiful,” Sid turned to his daughter and kissed her cheek, ignoring the cameras clicking away, and lifted her onto his knee, sitting her down facing the reporters and then looking back at them waiting for the next question.

There was an uncomfortable silence for a long moment and then a young reporter on the edge of the huddle asked the question it was clear that everyone had been trying to frame.

“Am I allowed to ask who this little lady is?”

“Yeah,” Sid nodded, “You can ask that.”

There was silence again as Sid felt Geno move just a little closer and saw him thread his finger into Sophie’s fist.

“So who is she?” The reporter finally asked, blushing with embarrassment and Sid felt guilty as he made a mental note to get Jen to offer an exclusive interview to the guy before the end of the season.

“This is Sophie, say hi Soph,” he made her wave at the cameras.

“Is this the first time she’s seen you play?”

“No just the first time we didn’t smuggler her in under a shirt,” Geno laughed at that and Sid nudged his side and grinned.

“Was mummy busy with something else tonight” The young reporter continued and Sid smiled at him, keeping the atmosphere as light as possible.

“No mum, just me, uncle G and the guys” Sid resisted the urge to turn his head and smile at Geno while the group of reporters tried to pull their thoughts together enough to ask something else.

“We’re getting towards the post season,” a clearly hostile voice said bluntly, “you’ve missed a lot of time over the last few seasons, just signed a high salary multi-year deal with a lot of expectations from the fans, do you really think that right now is the time for a distraction?”

Sid could feel the anger spike in Geno next to him and he knew the look that would be on Jen’s face if he glanced up but all he could do was laugh. “For sure there’s a lot of expectations on me and on the team but we’ve managed for the last four months without anyone even noticing she existed so I think we might be ok.”

“Really?” another reporter asked disbelieving and Geno interjected before Sid could say anything.

“Sophie best good luck since day she born, we all ready for Playoffs no-one need worry.”

Jen stepped forward at that, calling time on the interviews and guiding the crowd towards the door where she ushered them out, catching the arm of the young reporter as he went by and whispering something that Sid was fairly sure mirrored his thoughts from earlier.

“First shower or second?” Geno asked and just like after every other game they coordinated themselves through the shower and back into their suits, passing Sophie between them and off to their teammates when they demanded their turn for a post-game cuddle.

By the time they were finally ready for home Sophie was fast asleep on Geno’s shoulder, thumb in her mouth and drool all over the collar of his shirt so Sid grabbed both bags, said his goodbyes to those left in the room and followed Geno, hearing the click of a camera as they went through the door.

 

~~~

Pack’n’PlayPens (22.47) After an exciting evening Sophie’s run out of steam [Photo of Sophie asleep on Geno’s shoulder] Hopefully she’ll let Daddy and Uncle G sleep tonight before their early flight.

Chapter Text

Hockeybuzz (09.32) did the Penguins circumvent the cap by allowing Sophie Crosby to travel with the team? {Link}

PensFan7187 (10.25) @Cr0sby Have you seen the @Hockeybuzz article? They can’t be serious can they?

Cr0sby (10.28) @PensFan7187 Give me 5 to read it and I’ll get back to you :D

Cr0sby (10.37) @PensFan7187 longer than 5 sorry, I searched for the actually quote from the Flyers GM and it sounds like he was joking, like he didn’t want to answer about them sneaking her into his arena so just made the cap joke and this guy’s run with it for an article!

PensFan7187 (10.40) @Cr0sby Are press really asking other teams about her? Why do they think they’ll care? I hope he made sure it was ok with the league though!

Cr0sby (10.43) @PensFan7187 No way our captain took a risk with any of this! No idea why they’re talking to other teams, it’s not like he’s the first player to have a baby!!

PensFan7187 (10.45) @Cr0sby First on his own maybe? If he is on his own? @Pack’n’PlayPens made it sound like Geno was living with them too and he is selling his house so maybe ;)

Cr0sby (10.49) @PensFan7187 who knows?! I do know that the roadie pictures last week were the cutest things I’ve seen in a while, I’m not sure she helped Malkin’s card game though ;)

 

PensNews (12.27) GM Ray Shero issues a short statement following earlier stories in the media. ‘The Pittsburgh Penguins and the NHL have been in regular written communication in regard to personal travel expenses; we are assured that there is no Cap issue in regard to our Captain.

NHL (13.45) The NHL confirms that no cap issues exist in relation to Pittsburgh Penguins. The NHLPA and the NHL will meet following this year’s Stanley cup Final; one item for discussion is the need to ensure that our game remains open to everyone.

~~~

They’d seemed thrilled on the phone, at least Geno said that that was the translation of the laughing, shrieking and frantic Russian that he had no hope of understanding, and they’d been eager to meet Sophie over the slightly grainy image of a video call but now that Geno was pacing the hall, Sophie asleep on his shoulder rather than tucked up in bed where she should have been by now, he was beginning to worry just a little.

“It’ll be ok,” he patted the couch seat next to him and Geno stopped pacing, sitting down and leaning into him for a second before he stood up and began moving again. “Talk to me.” He said calmly and then sat very still waiting for his response.

“Wish they just surprise! Know Troy upset by just turn up but still no wait!”

“Yeah,” Sid agreed, “Best visit he ever made.” He caught Geno’s eye, grinning and waggling his eyebrows and suddenly Geno laughed, all the nerves and tension seeming to leave his body with the force of it but Sophie didn’t even stir.

“I’m know be ok, they speak your parents, be nice, say look forward to travel with, compete at best babysit.” He grinned at Sid as he sat back down next to him, leaning into the corner of the couch and lifting his arm so that Sid could snuggle into his chest next to Sophie. “Just matters, matters they like who I’m love.”

Sid tipped his head up to kiss his lips, “Love you too”

 

The gate buzzed a couple of moments later and Sid opened it using his phone and gave Geno a nudge, “go on.” He smiled at him and Geno grinned back.

“Yes Sir,” he winked and got to his feet, careful not to wake Sophie, and hurried to the door.

Sid knew that everything would be fine, at least he almost knew, but that didn’t stop him from creeping to the doorway to peer into the hall to see what was going on.

The flow of words was all Russian but the body language was clear in its meaning, Geno’s mum smiling widely and bouncing excitedly as she whispered, so as not to wake Sophie, while being every inch the excited Granny, and his father stood just a step away clearly itching to touch the baby while not being able to get a word in around his wife’s excitement.

“And you,” She suddenly turned her attention on Sid who clearly hadn’t been hidden enough by the door frame, “Not hide from us.” She opened her arms as she strode towards him down the hall and without any reticence he moved forward into her embrace letting her hug him and tell him just how beautiful his daughter was and, a little more quietly as if she didn’t want to embarrass her son, how grateful she was that he was brave enough to make the move her son may never have dared to.

“My dad gave me a kick,” he laughed nervously, “And if it wasn’t for Sophie,”

She leant back from where she was holding him and shook her head, “No, you get here whatever, maybe you get quicker with baby, but you always been going here, from first day together at Penguins.”

Sid blushed as he smiled; eyes darting to Geno who was watching them with wet eyes, his father’s arm around is waist.

“Yeah,” Sid nodded and turned his attention back to Geno’s mother, “pretty much the first day.”

 

~~~

 

PensNews (22.17) The Penguins take the series 4-2 winning in overtime after a hard fought game 6.

Pack’n’PlayPens (22.23) Win or lose we were flying home tonight but somehow it feels easier with a couple of days off ahead. [Photo of disordered bags, trunks, sticks and gear.]

Cr0sby (22.27) @PensFan7187 I am so glad that series is over, I don’t know how the players manage I’m a wreck from the stress and lack of sleep!

PensFan7187 (22.31) @Cr0sby they must do nothing but eat, sleep and play! Did you see Baby Crosby with Geno’s parents tonight? So cute!!!!! I assume that she’s staying with them at the minute rather than with Sid.

Cr0sby (22.33) @PensFan7187 She’s so big, and yes so cute, she looked so comfortable with Geno’s parents but I don’t know about her travelling with them, @Pack’n’PlayPens posted a photo of him packing gear earlier and there was a car seat in the pile.

PensFan7187 (22.37) @Cr0sby @Pack’n’PlayPens Really??!! Even if they’re living together to share the work it still seems crazy without a mum!

Pack’n’PlayPens (23.49) FYI @PensFan7187 @Cr0sby Geno says ‘Hockey players nap like babies especially in playoffs’ he offered this picture as evidence ;-) [Photo of Sophie asleep on a rug, Sid and Geno flat out on either side of her.]

PensFan7187 (23.52) @Pack’n’PlayPens @Cr0sby OMG that is so cute! Thank you so much for sharing, please thank Geno for the picture and for the beautiful hockey :D

Cr0sby (00.07) @Pack’n’PlayPens @PensFan7187 Thanks for the info; I hope they get a few days off now and have time to sleep in a bed!

~~~

 

To Jake: Are you and Mark free for dinner at all this week? Don’t worry if you’re not we just wondered :)

Jake: We could come look after Sophie the night before game two?

To Jake: We weren’t looking for babysitting just dinner with friends, if you wanted. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, I know you’ve just been helping us out.

Jake: Do you have Jack’s number?

To Jake: Yeah, why? I’ll need to check he’s ok with me passing it on, give me 5

Jake: I don’t want it I just want you to text him and ask him to remind you that some people like doing things for you, and like spending time with you, and not just because you’re a hockey god ;-)

To Jake: Ha Ha point taken! Can I try again? Do you and Mark fancy coming for dinner one night this week? The guest room will be free if you want it :)

Jake: We can do Tuesday if that works for you? and yes, staying would be good.

To Jake: That works for us, see you both then :D

 

~~~

“We get days off if we win tonight beautiful,” Geno chatted to Sophie while he changed her clothes ready for the game, “me and Daddy grateful for good sleep, you been so good for us, we take you somewhere nice on day off.” He leant down and blew raspberries on her tummy making her giggle and Sid laughed watching them.

“The zoo,” Sid walked closer, wrapping his arms around Geno from behind and cuddling close into his back, “We should go to the zoo, before we leave for Russia.”

“We not leave for weeks, have lots of time but, win tonight go zoo tomorrow yes?” He turned his head to kiss Sid who kissed him back with a smile.

“For sure,” he nodded “After we win.”

 

~~~

PensNews (22.47) The penguins take the game 6-2 Handshakes are exchanged and we’re on to the conference final!

Cr0sby (23.07) @Pensfan7187 How much are you going to drink tonight? :-D

Pensfan7187 (23.09) @Cr0sby not much, I have to be up early but I’m going to celebrate the win tomorrow with a day out with the kids :)

Cr0sby (23.13) @Pensfan7187 That sounds like more fun than work (I’m also not drinking much) #Responsibilities :(

Pack’n’PlayPens (23.35) No need to pack for the road so we’re calling off the driver, locking the door to the room and heading out for a little celebration :D #WorryAboutItTomorrow

~~~

“News from upstairs is that dinner is booked for everyone just down the road, you’re expected there in thirty minutes, eat a lot, drink a lot of water,” Blysma laughed even as he said it, “and enjoy some time together relaxing. The Bruins are still going so we’re taking two days off and I mean off, no exercise, no hockey, just relax, spend time with family, sleep, eat, have fun. You all deserve it and more importantly you all need it.”

Geno glanced over at Sid as Blysma spoke and as soon as he’d finished speaking Sid looked back at him and as their eyes met Sid smiled “ring your mum and ask”

“Okay” Geno grinned and reached into his bag to grab his phone putting it to his ear, speaking in fast, excited, Russian as soon as it was answered and concluding the conversation quickly with a few words of English, “We sneak in quiet,” and a deep laugh that drew the attention of the whole room.

“What the?” Neal turned and looked at Geno wide eyed and grinning.

“Just making plans,” Sid laughed and waggled his eyebrows at Neal.

“You’re coming for dinner?” Orpik asked like he couldn’t believe it and Sid and Geno agreed almost at the same time much to the amusement of the room that erupted in cheers and chirps while everyone dressed quickly and then trooped out the door ready for food.

~~~

The restaurant looked closed but for one small light upstairs but the door swung open as they approached and they all nodded, smiled, thanked and shook hands with the three different people holding doors and directing them through the empty restaurant floor, up a flight of stairs and into a large function room with four circular tables set for dinner.

At each place was a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade and Geno laughed as he settled into the seat next to Sid. “This not organise quick!”

“Nope!” Sid nodded and grinned as he picked up his Gatorade, pushed his seat back and got to his feet.

“Gentlemen” He spoke quietly, little above his normal conversational volume, but every man in the room stopped speaking as if entirely tuned in to their Captain and silence fell as they all turned to look at him.

“Tonight’s game was amazing, the whole series you’ve played hard, practiced well, earned the victories”

“Yeah!” The room cheered and Sid laughed feeling his chest expand and his heart jump with pride in his team.

“Tonight we celebrate with good food, good friends and Gatorade!” He laughed as he lifted his bottle in a cheers motion and the room rose to its feet around him as they did the same.

“When hydrate” Geno chipped in, “then vodka!”

“For sure!” Sid laughed and bumped his shoulder into Geno’s as they tapped their bottles together and swallowed down half of them.

Dinner, as ordered by the team chef it seemed, was steak, cooked perfectly for each of them, or salmon for those who preferred that, with steamed vegetables, boiled potatoes and salad and the room bubbled with conversation and laughter.

Sid chatted with Beau about summer plans while Geno, Orpik and Flower debated the best time to visit the Zoo the following day and which animals Sophie would most enjoy seeing.

“We need to sort the houses out before we can leave town, and the stress of it is worse than the game!” Sid rolled his eyes dramatically and Beau laughed, “It’s almost impossible to get him to decide what he’s bringing with him,” he shook his head and rolled his eyes again, “He just says he doesn’t need anything because I have everything but you know!”

Beau nodded and leaned in a little, dropping his volume “You want him to move in not just live with you.”

“Yeah,” Sid turned his chair a little more towards him, “Just feels like convenience rather than intent you know. I know it’s not, he’s not selling his house for convenience but, yeah.”

“I’d hate to have to list a house, so many people will be interested but not because they want to buy it!”

“Yup!”

“Shame you can’t sell tickets really,” Beau mused, “Raise money for charity of something.”

“That’s” Sid started and then he thought some more. “We could do a house tour or a dinner or something, get G’s stuff moved out and my stuff moved there and then show people around.”

“It might spur him into moving things in if you set a date and if you move stuff out.”

“That’s not a bad plan,” his brain was already working on the idea, wondering if they could auction the spare furniture and things as well, as they both put their knives and forks to work on his steak.

“Hey G,” He’d eaten a good portion of his dinner while he turned the idea over in his head before he tapped Geno on the arm drawing his attention away from the zoo discussion that was getting more and more animated.

“Listening” Geno turned his whole body, draping himself over Sid’s side, and rested his head on his shoulder as Sid gestured at Beau to speak.

“Hey No! It was your idea!” he shifted uncomfortably in his seat not looking at Geno but Sid nudged his foot under the table in a ‘please’ kind of a way so he took a breath and started talking, still not looking at Geno. “Sid was saying you need to move your stuff into your new house, and some of Sid’s stuff out,” he added with a quick glance at Sid who smiled gratefully at him, “To make it your together house rather than like you’re just visiting for ease of babysitting.”

Sid felt Geno tense against him at that suggestion which he found weirdly reassuring.

“And I said how I’d hate having people in my house when they weren’t even interested in buying.”

“Yeah,” Geno nodded against Sid’s shoulder, “Photos on internet weird and lots visit, no buy.”

“Beau suggested we moved your stuff in to ours and my stuff out to yours, set it up and then sell tickets for a tour,” he turned his head until he was looking at Geno, his lips a hairs breadth for his cheek, “a charity thing, make money out of the curiosity.”

Geno’s eyes lit up and he grinned, his whole body beginning to vibrate against Sid’s back, “Ask Jane if she ok, we do for.” He didn’t finish the sentence, clearly knowing that Sid would know what he meant and not wanting to tell anyone else without her permission.

“Only if you move into ours properly though, your stuff, trophies, furniture you know.” His heart was hip-hopping in his chest.

“Take your things my house, my things our house, team help after cup.”

“Yeah,” Sid grinned and Beau laughed as he turned away to talk to Neal and Flower who were chatting on the other side of him while watching Sid and Geno out of the corner of their eyes.

“Fine!” Neal suddenly shouted and Beau turned back just in time to see Geno scowl at Neal and Sid shrink back into his seat hiding his head in his shirt, breathing erratically and trying to resist the urge to die of embarrassment.

“Fuck off Neal!” Flower growled and he wasn’t the only one who was making angry noises but Sid didn’t feel all that comfortable with that so he took a few controlling breaths and braced himself before pushing himself up to his feet, leaning on the table so his legs didn’t give way.

“He’s right!” He hoped his voice wasn’t shaking as much as it felt like it was, “I’ll pay up next skate.”

“You not!” Geno disagreed

“Like Hell!” Flower added

“No!” shouted half a dozen voices and Sid stood up straighter and raised his hand to silence everyone.

“Is kissing your girlfriend at team dinner a fine?”

“Yeah” the room agreed a little uncomfortably, “Bringing her to start with would be,” Someone shouted and there was a ripple of laughter.

“Well,” Sid started, feeling his stability and confidence grow, “I can’t not bring him,” he reached down and patted Geno’s head raising another laugh when Geno scowled up at him, “But if you don’t fine us for the same stuff as everyone else then you’re still treating us differently because we’re gay aren’t you?”

The room was silent for a very long moment, Sid glancing from face to face, looking at his team in a way he hadn’t before and then he suddenly grinned, a warm and jumpy feeling invading his stomach as he considered what he’d just said to this room of people, to his team, his friends.

“We’ll pay our fines just like anyone else.” He smirked as he turned just slightly and leant down, tipping Geno’s head back with a hand in his hair, and kissed him, long and hot and in a way that he never would have even dreamed he’d be doing in public. He winked at Geno as he pulled away, seeing the dazed look in his eyes before he turned back to address the team, Flower and Tanger looking at him like they knew exactly what had just happened, and laughed, “Two fines are well worth being able to say that out loud to my team without feeling sick!”

“Woohoo!” The room roared and Geno jumped to his feet, raised three fingers to the room and then swept Sid into his arms, swinging him around as he kissed him again.

Chapter Text

PensFan7187 (13.23) @Cr0sby you will never believe who I saw at the zoo today [photo of Sid and Geno, with Sophie strapped to his chest, smiling for the camera next to a tiger]

Cr0sby (14.19) @PensFan7187 you are kidding!! How cool!! Were they having fun?

PensFan7187 (14.37) @Cr0sby Geno said they’d promised Sophie a day out for sleeping well. Sidney laughed and said the zoo was really for Geno.

Cr0sby (15.13) @PensFan7187 I can’t believe you spoke to them!! They sound like they were having fun.

PensFan7187 (15.27) @Cr0sby It was my youngest not me! She just walked up to Geno and asked why he was carrying Sophie instead of her being with her dad and could she touch her. I thought I was going to die of shame (I know she can’t help the blunt but it was Crosby and Malkin!!)

Cr0sby (15.53) @PensFan7187 They’re smiling in the picture so I guess they weren’t too offended ;)

PensFan7187 (15.59) @Cr0sby They didn’t seem bothered at all, they’re probably used to kids saying things and I tried to explain her problem but Geno just crouched down to her level so she could see the baby properly and said ‘Sophie like me better when out, I taller.’

Cr0sby (16.06) @PensFan7187 OMG :D what did Sid say to that? I wish I was still a kid and could get away with talking to people rather than just being embarrassed!

PensFan7187 (16.14) @Cr0sby He rolled his eyes and laughed like he’d heard it all before and patted Geno’s head. Then he asked her what she was hoping to see at the zoo and she told him all about the Penguins she’d just seen. She talked for ages!! They didn’t seem to mind though; they were so lovely to her!

Cr0sby (16.40) @PensFan7187 I’m so pleased for her, and you!! Thanks for sharing the picture with me :)

~~~

Flower was hosting a barbecue for the team, time to relax, talk, play computer games and lie around the house in a way they never really found time for while the season was in full swing, while the wives, girlfriends and children were going to the Kunitz house for an afternoon of preparations not that Sid knew what that meant or even knew that the gathering included Sophie until V turned up at the door an hour before they were due to leave for the barbecue expecting to take her with her.

“Makes sense” Geno said through gritted teeth, picking Sophie up from where she was led on the floor and holding her close, clearly as unhappy at being parted from her as Sid was, “They say children and she child.”

“But” Sid stuttered, shoving his hands into the pockets of his hoody and hunching his shoulders, “She’s only little, I just thought she’d come with us.” It was little more than a whisper by the time he’d finished speaking and V moved slowly towards him, catching his eye and raising her arms until he nodded and she wrapped them around his waist cuddle into his chest.

“I won’t take her if you don’t want me to,” she kept hold of Sid but looked at Geno, clearly addressing him too, “but it’s only for a few hours, we have things for her to do, the older kids are looking forward to seeing her and it would probably be good for you both to have a few hours where you weren’t responsible for anyone but yourselves, give you time to properly relax and have fun. I won’t take her though, not if you don’t want me to.”

Sid looked at Geno who was stood in their living room with Sophie in his arms and waited until he smiled at him just a little and nodded his head in agreement and then he stepped out of V’s embrace and walked towards them. “Okay then, it looks like you’re going on an adventure Soph, what do you think you need?”

Sophie blew bubbles and then giggled when Geno poked at her ribs, “I’m get clothes, you get nappies.”

“Okay,” Sid agreed, “There’s milk in the fridge,” he spoke to V who headed that way while he collected wipes and nappies from the living room, putting them in the top of the changing bag that was on the dining table just as Geno arrived with the clothes which he slipped into the bag as well.

“Let’s get you in your car seat beautiful,” Sid took Sophie from Geno, kissing her head, nose and cheeks as he grinned at her, “Be good for Auntie V ok, she has plans for you while Daddy and Uncle G get some rest.”

“You be back soon princess,” Geno leant in and kissed her before they both stepped back, grasping at each other’s hands in need of reassurance, and let V pick her up and carry her out to her car.

~~~

To Flower: Geno sick, we not come.

Flower: he is is he? ;) Sorry that he’s too sick to make it out here, watch out though because I think he’s rubbing off on you!

To Flower: Need long shower back to bed feel better! He not rub off!

Flower: Maybe during your shower ;) Look after each other, don’t want you catching anything

To Flower: I’m not catch, fit for hockey tomorrow :)

Flower: Remember coach said no exercise :D I’ll remind Sid about using protection when I see him!

To Flower: What the fuck Flower! You’re not my dad!!

Flower: I meant password protection but thanks for confirming Geno stole your phone ;) enjoy your afternoon!

To Flower: I hate you!!

Flower: No you don’t :D

To Flower: I’m hate you! and I’m not steal, one phone for both now, coach say :D

Flower: The amount of time you’re both spending talking to me instead of each other suggests neither of you hate me ;)

To Flower: :P

~~~

“When we won the cup I couldn’t believe it,” Sid whispered, “I was so young and Papa wasn’t much older, and I thought that that was the best it was going to get, the most amazing thing that would ever happen.” He was sat in the almost dark, leaning against the headboard with Sophie in his arms drinking her milk while Geno breathed softly, curled up asleep against his thigh. “We partied for days, fell asleep all over each other, cuddled the cup and I thought that was the best I was ever going to feel.” He dropped his volume even lower, “I thought I’d have to wait until we won the cup again, if we ever did, before Papa would curl up in bed with me again.”

Geno shuffled around next to him, snuffling in his sleep as he threw his arm across his thighs and Sid stopped talking to Sophie, holding his breath until he was sure Geno had settled back to sleep, his breathing calming again and his arm feeling heavy.

“I nearly gave up hockey you know, when my head wouldn’t fix. Papa used to come and see me, make me laugh, tell me stories with funny voices like he does for you. I thought if I gave up we might be able to be together but Papa just wanted me back on the ice with him and I’m glad he got me there.”

He took the bottle from Sophie’s mouth and sat her up, ducking his head to kiss her gently as he held her close and rubbed her back until she burped.

“Now I know something really important though Soph,” he lifted her to his shoulder, snuggling her under his chin and patting her gently as he tried to lull her back to sleep, “Now I know that Papa will come home tomorrow and curl up in my arms, with you in his, even if there’s no chance of the cup and that beats the feeling of winning it anyway.”

Sophie shuffled, wiping her nose on his chest, and he kissed her head and moved his leg to dislodge Geno’s arm so that he could turn just enough to lie her down in the crib beside the bed. “Daddy and Papa love you baby girl, more than anything.” He laid himself down, hand resting on Sophie’s chest as her breathing and heartrate settled and she slipped into the soft noises of sleep and once she was properly asleep he rolled over, curling in against Geno’s side, tucking himself under the arm that had been slung across his legs and breathed deeply, relaxing as he drifted towards sleep.

“You call me Papa,” Geno whispered against his temple and then kissed him softly when Sid tensed reflexively, “is nice” he breathed out, his arm and body becoming heavier as he slipped back into sleep and Sid smiled against his chest, tucking himself in tighter and settling in, trying not to think about game four.

 

~~~

PensNews (23.35) [video attached] The traditional handshakes are exchanged and the challenge for the Stanley cup is over for another year.

PensFan7187 (23.45) Proud of my Penguins, what a season, sad not to get the cup but you can’t win it every year!

Cr0sby (23.45) What a season, so proud of my team. Enjoy your summer boys, you’ve earned it!

Cr0sby (23.47) @PensFan7187 thank you for enjoying this season with me :D don’t be a stranger until training camp please.

PensFan7187 (23.52) @Cr0sby It’s been fun! You either :) one day we’ll have to make to an actual game together :D

Cr0sby (23.55) That would be awesome!!!!!!

 

~~~

He’d lost in the playoffs before, they all had, more times than they’d won, of course the feeling of winning had served to make the losing even harder to take, but this year felt different, not because it hurt any less, not because the end of season exhaustion swept in with any less force than normal and not because it would give him more time to spend with his daughter as one reporter suggested in what he assumed was supposed to be a consoling way in the post-match press conference, but because this time he couldn’t walk away and hide, he couldn’t lock the door and curl up in his den with the food he never let himself eat, the blankets he liked to cocoon himself in when the world outside got a little too much for him and the television on which copies of his ten favourite feel good movies were stored, this time there was Sophie and more annoyingly right now there was Geno.

“Will you just stop?!” Sid shouted, “I’ve had enough.”

“Just want know if want tea.” Geno replied in a whisper, “No need shout, wake Sophie.”

“I don’t want tea, I don’t want juice, I don’t want water,” Sid shouted, rocking backwards and forwards and side to side on his feet, “I don’t want a sandwich or fruit, I don’t want anything!”

“Okay,” Geno nodded, shoulders slumped and looking at his feet, “I’m understand.” He turned around and disappeared down the hall and up the stairs and Sid dropped into a crouch in the middle of the room, dropping his head between his knees and pulling at his hair with his fists as he bit hard at his lip and tried to get hold of the anger that was running though him, entirely without his control.

He tried to focus, to find the thorn, the actual thing that was causing his anger to be so out of control but he just couldn’t find it and this all made no sense given how lovely it had been not to come home alone last night.

The press had been the press, they had a job to do and Sid had known that since well before he had his front yard taken over by them so that they could watch him watch Bettman open some envelopes but it didn’t mean that he had to like answering the questions, or more that he had to like watching his team mates try to answer their questions just after such a huge lose, but he’d dealt with it as well as he could.

Press over he’d showered, changed back into his suit, collected Sophie from his mum without a word and walked out to his car, clicking the car seat into its base while Geno stowed their bags in the back and then they’d driven home in silence, moved Sophie carefully from her seat to the bed, Penguins shirt still on her back, changed quickly into their sleep shorts and then crawled in next to her, Geno curled around her, her tiny foot enveloped in his huge hand and Sid tucked up, warm against his back, arm wrapped around his waist, just as he’d talked to Sophie about the night before, and breathing him in as he slipped quickly towards sleep.

They’d slept for hours, five straight hours, something Sophie had never managed before and it had felt okay, like everything was going to be fine but now, only a couple of hours after waking, he wanted to scream and shout at Geno and even the thought of waking Sophie hadn’t been enough to stop him.

He’d lost the feeling in his feet, gone right through the pins and needles and on to that phase when you’re not quite sure that the limbs are still there, by the time Geno reappeared, Sophie in his arms, and dropped a piece of paper on the small table by the door before he turned around and disappeared again, the front door opening and closing quickly and shocking Sid into movement.

“Geno!” he shouted as he pushed up to his feet and then collapsed against the couch as his legs protested at the blood rushing back to them. “Geno!” He gasped again and stumbled to reach his phone, hitting Geno’s number and putting the phone to his ear as it rang once and then was sent to voicemail.

Pulling the phone away from his ear he jabbed at it until it was calling Geno’s number again but he threw it onto the couch cushion with enough force to make it bounce onto the floor when he was sent to voicemail again and he shouted at the empty room, angry tears starting to fall from his eyes as his legs finally regained their feeling and stability and he scrambled for his phone, hitting the first number on his speed dial and holding the phone to his ear, his hands trembling.

The phone rang three times and as soon as the call connected he started talking, “He’s gone, walked out, taken Sophie!”

“Don’t shout at me Sid,”

“He’s taken her Jack, I shouted and woke her and he took her.”

“Was he angry?” Jack asked gently, “Was he shouting too or was it just you?”

“I wasn’t angry, it wasn’t like that, I’m just…”

“You’re just sad, the season’s over and you need some quiet time,” Jack’s voice was gentle and Sid felt himself calming down, the tension in him easing just a little. “You’ve always needed time when it’s all done for the year, time not to be Captain reliable, holding it all together.”

“I don’t need a break from Sophie, she’s mine, he’s taken her.”

“You can’t have it both ways Sid.”

“What! I’m not!”

“Yeah you are,” Jack interrupted, “Sophie’s Geno’s daughter when you want him to feel part of the family but yours and he has no right when you want it that way.”

“That’s not … I didn’t … I don’t …”Sid stammered as he moved around the couch, leaning heavily on it before he collapsed into the seat, dropping his head into his hands, “I know he can take her, I know he’s her Papa but he’s gone, they’ve gone and left me.” He tried to catch the sob as it escaped him but Jack didn’t miss it.

“Not left you just gone out Sid, there’s a difference I promise.”

“He won’t answer the phone, I tried him first, before you.” feeling calmer and thinking a little more clearly he pushed up to his feet and moved across the room to pick up the piece of paper Geno had left on the table and then shuffled back to his seat, “He left a note.”

“Have you read it?” Jack huffed out a laugh which he was clearly trying to cover but failing, “Did you read it before you panicked?”

“No,” he whispered into the phone and resisted the urge to tell Jack how much he wished they’d arranged for him to arrive today rather than next week even if it would have felt like tempting fate in regard to game four.

“Why don’t you read it now, then we know what we’re dealing with.”

His fingers trembled as he took three attempts before he got the paper unfolded.

To Daddy,

I wake when you shout but that ok because I wake you lots when I cry, is hard when you not know words. You good Daddy, good Hockey and Papa say you good Captain but I’m know sometimes hard for you. Papa say you sometimes need not be Captain, need not be player just need be you and I think he right.

So I’m take Papa out for day, we bring dinner home at eight, I’m make sure buy dessert.

Papa help me sort you den, ice cream in freezer, jelly babies on table, juice in fridge, blankets on couch.

I love you Daddy, Papa love you too, we see you for dinner.

Love Sophie xxx

Ps. Papa go out tomorrow, I’m give you cuddles.

 

Sid read the words through in his head a couple of times before he swallowed and tried to read the note to Jack, his voice full of emotion as tears slid from his eyes.

“You need to stop Geno from teaching Soph English you know, it sounds like her second language,” Jack laughed and Sid joined him, coughing and swallowing around his emotions, “But seriously Dude, you should have read that ten minutes ago and saved yourself a phone call.”

“Yeah,” Sid agreed, nodding to himself, “I should have just told him this morning that I needed space today shouldn’t I?”

“Probably” Jack agreed.

“We never see each other the day after we go out, no one ever comes over they just leave me alone until clear-out day but he lives here and it was so nice not to be alone when I went to bed last night, I thought this was better until suddenly I was shouting at him.”

“He knows you Sid, he loves you, go do as your daughter tells you too, take the time you need and then curl up with them both tonight and remember that asking for what you need is ok, people who love you will give you space if you ask for it and still come back.”

“Thanks Jack,” Sid smiled into the phone even though Jack couldn’t see him, “I can’t wait to see you next week, bring your muscles ok?”

“My muscles and my big truck, Geno’s already ordered them,” Jack laughed and Sid joined him, “Can’t wait to see you,”

“Bye Jack,”

“Bye Sid.”

Sid smiled as he stood up and slipped his phone into his pocket before making his way down the hall to his den where he found not only his pile of blankets on the couch but also Sophie’s favourite cuddly toy, a bright yellow giraffe that they’d bought for her at the zoo, and he sat down on the couch, wrapping himself in the blankets, the giraffe tucked under his chin, before he flicked on the TV and tore the jelly babies packet open with his teeth, settling in for a few hours of peace.

~~~

Pack’n’PlayPens (09.33) Locker room clear out day is always a strange one [wide angle photo of locker room, sticks and bags in every stall]

Pack’n’PlayPens (09.41) Some guys take just what they need [Photo of Kunitz bag and three sticks]

Pack’n’PlayPens (09.43) Others take everything [Photo of Orpik’s stall, piled with bags, skates and sticks]

Pack’n’PlayPens (09.47) But no one needs as big a truck as Crosby and Malkin :D [Photo of a large pile of holdalls, sticks and skates topped with a bouncy chair, bottles, nappies, books and baby toys]

 

Pack’n’PlayPens (12.53) And that’s us done for the year, see you all for training camp :D Jake. [Photo of empty locker room]

Cr0sby (13.05) @Pack’n’PlayPens Thank you for all the behind the scenes pictures this season, enjoy your summer :D

Chapter Text

(Written 30th April- 1st May, published 18th June.)

48 hours in the life of a single dad in the NHL

 

After playing spot the pacifier for nearly a month Penguins fans, and the NHL, were introduced to the owner of them a few days ago, one Miss Sophie Crosby the tiny baby daughter of Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

There are many players in the league who have children of one age or another and they play this crazy game, travelling, training and skating, but what makes this situation unique, I think, is that Sidney Crosby is a single father which is why I jumped at the opportunity to ride along with him in the run up to game one of the playoffs.

Wanting to make sure that I didn’t miss anything I called Sidney the night before to enquire about his morning start time and I was told, with a laugh, that if I really wanted to do this properly he’d ring me when they got up, the day apparently starting not by alarm clock but by Sophie.

 

04.43: My phone rang and a voice, far too awake for that time of day, asked me if I was really sure that I wanted to do this. I laughed, tiredly, and dragged myself out of bed at the promise of coffee on the counter when I got to his house.

05.35: After arriving at the rink with a wave to security, who were clearly expecting us despite the early hour, Crosby was quickly in the gym working up a sweat while Sophie caught the last few hours of her night’s sleep in her chair next to him. “I can’t waste her sleep,” he joked, “not if I want to enjoy her when she’s awake.”

07.15: Workout complete, showered and some sticks taped up for practice Sophie was awake again, complaining a little that her bottle wasn’t ready exactly on time but she settled quickly once she was in her daddy’s arms and I’m fairly sure that my presence in the room wasn’t noticed again until her bottle was empty.

09.30: The rest of the team arrived in time for the pre skate tape review, many of them saying hello to Sophie on their way to the gym or in some cases stealing her for a while whilst Sidney made himself, and me, some breakfast, signed some gear for an upcoming charity event, chatted to the rookies and did a number of other things that were easier to do with two hands.

10.30: I wasn’t allowed in tape review but Sophie was, “She paid more attention than Brooks and interrupted less than Geno.” Sidney told me when I ask how it went and everyone in the locker room, padding up for skate, seemed to agree.

12.00: Sophie spent skate with ‘the man who makes it all possible’ in the words of Sidney Crosby. Apparently Jake, one of the equipment guys, has been the mastermind behind moving this little family around without being noticed and he’s one of the small group of people Sidney trusts with his daughter whilst he’s on the ice. I was exhausted just watching practice but Sidney looked fresh as a daisy, driving hard to the end of the session and even staying out after formal skate to practice tip-ins with Bennett, Orpik and Fleury.

13.30: Evgeni Malkin, Geno, had lunch on the table by the time we arrived back at the house. It was a strange experience sitting down for lunch with not one but two NHL stars and feeling like it was just any other lunch with a young child. Sophie sat on Geno’s knee banging her hands on the table while they both chatted away to her, each other and me, and Geno scooped at his lunch with his fork until Sidney was almost finished at which point they simply passed her over the table and continued in their clearly well practiced routine. “If we put down she go sleep,” Geno explains “and then we miss nap.” And, as I was beginning to realise, afternoon naps are at the very heart of how Sidney, and Geno since he moved in a few weeks ago to ‘share cooking and stop wasting sleep time travel home,’ make life with a baby work in the NHL.

14.30: I gratefully accepted the guest room, I felt like I’d been up for two days and the most energetic thing that I’d done was pick up a pen, but as we all headed upstairs, Sophie changed and fed, I was assured that we were in for a good long nap.

17.00: Until you’ve seen four fully grown hockey players with animal masks and superhero capes on, crawling around a room chasing a ball while a little girl giggles, screams and laughs you really haven’t experienced all you should in life!

21.00: After dinner, with the extra guests who not only wanted some playtime with Sophie but clearly wanted a chat with their Captain before the following night’s game, and after a bath for Sophie, taken care of by Geno while Sidney and their guests talked and I did what any person invited into this situation would do and did the dishes, I was sent home for the night because they were all off to bed. Sidney told me that he expected Sophie to be awake around one and again around four thirty and I’m sure that he saw the relief on my face when he said that game day meant that he would be going back to bed, rather than to the rink, after that feed but he had the good grace not to call me out on it.

Game Day.

07.30: I was awake when the phone rang, just! Sophie was up, for the third time, and just having her milk so if I could get myself there for eight o’clock then game day breakfast would be on the table. Too good an offer to turn down I told him and I was out of the door and on my way in only a few moments.

08.00: Geno opened the door with Sophie strapped to his chest, a tea towel over his shoulder and a smile on his face and he invited me in, sending me straight to the kitchen where the island was set with three giant bowls of fruit, a large rack of toast and three plates of ham, eggs, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms as well as three large glasses of water, two bottles of Gatorade and two protein shakes. In less than fifteen the island was clear, the food eaten, the drinks drunk and the dishes in the rack, it was only polite that I offer again, and Sidney was changing Sophie’s nappy and clothes while Geno replenished supplies in her changing bag before we headed out of the door.

10.00: Apparently there’s no ‘work out’ on game day mornings just a bit of ‘light exercise’. The distinction seemed to be that Sophie was awake for this session and was very much involved in it. She sat on her daddy’s hip while he warmed up on the bike, lay on his bent knees and bopped his nose as he did sit-ups and led on the floor and giggled as he blew raspberries on her tummy in between push ups. Watching Sidney exercise whilst playing with Sophie reminded me of what he’d said the day before about making the most of her sleep so that he could enjoy her when she was awake. It’s clear that he really has that down to a fine art.

12.30: I was told that Sophie slept on Geno’s chest though their strategy meeting, ‘she keeps him from interrupting’ Fleury told me, and in Sidney’s arms on the bench through game day skate, ‘so he can only offer advice not get up and show us’ Bennett said, but this is the playoffs, forty eight hour ride-a-long or not there was no way that a journalist was getting to see any of that. Sophie was wide awake and gurgling away to herself by the time we were heading back to the car though so I believed what I was being told about her sleeping.

14.30: As we all headed upstairs for nap time I made the offer that any self-respecting Pittsburgh Penguins fan would on the afternoon of game one but Sidney and Geno just laughed and assured me that Sophie was as much of a fan as I was and it wouldn’t be a problem. They were, of course, correct.

17.00: We arrived back at the arena, game day suits in place and Sophie in her tiny 87 shirt, with daddy where the Crosby name plate would normally be and Sidney headed straight for the kitchen to make his pre-game PB&J, slipping into his game day routine. Over the next ninety minutes Sophie moved from arm to arm, room to room and man to man, as an entire roster of Hockey players took their turn to cuddle, tickle and snuggle a young lady who was clearly a significant element of the entire team’s pregame routine before Sidney finally handed her to Jake, kissed her forehead and headed down the tunnel for warm ups.

18.50: Mario Lemieux arrived to collect Sophie for the game. Apparently she’s sat with him for almost every game since she was born, she used to sleep in her carrier, wrapped against his chest and hidden under his jumper or shirt. Now, he told me, she sleeps in her chair or in his arms and sometimes, when she can keep herself awake, she watches her daddy play Hockey.

21.40: The game was fast and intense and before the end of the second I was ready for my bed but Crosby was still skating away, leading his team.

22.35: The penguins took the game, Sidney played twenty two minutes of high speed, high intensity hockey and yet, once press was done, he was back in the gym, side by side with Geno on the warm down bikes and they were passing Sophie between them as they chatted to her and to each other, pulling faces, tickling her ribs and playing with her. ‘To anyone else this would look crazy’ Sidney told me, but Sophie had slept for much of the game, she was an hour from needing her next bottle and if they played with her now while they calmed their bodies down, and worked off the adrenalin, then they could go home and eat the pasta salad they’d made for themselves earlier while she drank her milk and then they could all head off to bed to make the most of every hour of Sophie’s sleep because, unlike me, when tomorrow came around they’d be starting the whole routine over again.

 

When I was offered the opportunity to see inside the world of Sidney and Sophie Crosby I wasn’t sure what I would find. If I’m honest I assumed nannies, grandparents or staff were the answer to how this was done and that money was probably involved, what I found was something very different.

Sidney freely admits, with a laugh and no sign of guilt, that he didn’t give the organisation much notice or much option in his adoption of his daughter, but they have been supportive of the situation from the moment of his arranged disappearance in the third period of a game all those month ago. He grins as he confirms that there was no shoulder injury that night just a tiny baby girl hiding under his shirt and he tips his head at Geno for the idea.

There are no nannies, the grandparents have been called in rarely and money, beyond paying the travel expense and additional room cost for Sophie to ensure that there is no cap issue, is not being thrown at this situation but what is here, in abundant supply, is love, love between a father and his daughter, between a team and its Captain, between an organisation and its players.

The NHL and NHLPA meet after the season and one of the topics for discussion, Sidney hopes, is what can be done to ensure that the NHL remains open to players in circumstances such as his. From my experience over these last two days I would suggest that the answer to this question is to do exactly what the Penguins have done and simply Accept, Support and Trust your guys.

Update, 14th June

While eating breakfast I received a text message from Sidney ‘have you submitted your article yet?’ And my heart sank. It’s the risk, when you agree to publish at a later date, because the subject can change their mind even after you’ve done all the work. I had the story, I had the right to publish it, I didn’t need his approval, but even after my short time in the business I knew that it would be career suicide to publish this if Sidney had changed his mind.

I replied to his message telling him that I hadn’t and that I’d scratch it and write something else only for my phone to ring immediately with a strangely panicked Sidney Crosby on the other end telling me not to do that.

It turned out, happily, that he didn’t want to stop the article; in fact he wanted to meet to discuss something that he’d missed out the first time, so we arranged to meet at his house for lunch.

I knocked on the door at one o’clock and when it opened a small face, with a bright smile, peeked out around the door just a foot or so from the floor and Geno laughed, saying something in Russian which i assume was along the lines of ‘don’t try to escape’, and Sophie sat back on her knees as the door opened further. She sat still and made no attempt to slip past me as I walked in but she moved very quickly, on her hands and knees, to follow us back to the kitchen where lunch was nearly ready.

Just over six weeks had changed lunch a little because now Sophie sat in a baby seat between Sidney and Geno and munched away on bits and pieces of the salad, vegetables, noodles and fish that they each dropped onto her mat as she made eager eyes at their plates.

‘She’s grown since you were last here,’ Sidney laughed, ‘can run away now’ Geno added with a grin and then Sophie hit his arm with a squeal and the fork that had been heading for his mouth detoured to her tray and she grabbed the food in her fist and mashed it into her face and hair.

They were right she had changed but I was fairly sure that that wasn’t why I’d been invited over so when lunch was nearly eaten, and Geno had put water on to boil to make up her after dinner bottle, I looked purposefully at Sidney and he smile just a little, nodded slightly and took a deep breath.

‘When people ask me about trades I always talk about welcoming guys in because I’ve never experienced the feeling of waiting or suddenly moving you know.’ He started, ‘and when I talk about training camp I always try to be clear that I don’t really understand how guys feel to be playing for their job or trying to earn their money.’

In the forty eight hours I’d spent with Sidney and Sophie a few weeks ago I’d honestly not seen him look as uncomfortable as he did at that moment and I was more than a little confused by where this was going until Geno chipped in with ‘he think he give impression it as easy for anyone in league to have child.’

Sidney nodded at that and Geno squeezed his shoulder and then lifted Sophie from her seat, laughing as he told her it was bath time again, before he headed out of the door with a quick ‘I tell him he wrong but he not believe.’

Once it was just the two of us Sidney told me about some of the conversations he’d had with people in the weeks since the world met his daughter. Firstly he told me about a waiver wire guy, now on another team, who’d called him to ask how to approach his GM following a family breakdown and then about his meeting with his GM, Ray Shero, to discuss exactly what he should share with the other GMs at their end of season meeting.

The third story though was the one that had prompted his text this morning and that was about a telephone call that he’d received last night, from a guy that he’d never spoken too off the ice, who’d cried at the end of the call when Sidney had offered to fly out and see him and accompany him to meetings with his agent and his GM.

The guy was the father of two children under school age, he was the husband of a woman who was very seriously ill, he was at the end of his first full season in the NHL and, come July 1st, he was an RFA.

‘He thought he’d have to give up playing, tell his GM not to qualify him, because his wife probably won’t be with us come training camp and he didn’t know how he was going to look after his children.’

I sat there at Sidney Crosby’s kitchen table and realised, like a smack in the face, that as much fun as telling the story of a superstar player navigating the NHL with his baby daughter in tow might be this is much more than that. Sidney Crosby, Captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, face of the NHL and daddy to Sophie, wants to put his name, and his unrestrained hard work, into making Hockey work for everyone.

When we’d finished talking I offered Sidney the original article to read, it was a no approval article but it seemed like the right thing to do. He laughed in the places that I hoped he would and nodded thoughtfully where I thought he might and when he’d finished reading he thanked me for writing it and then, slightly nervously, he asked if I’d make one change before I published it. It was a tiny change with a huge meaning so here it is, that one change, right here in the final paragraph.

The NHL and NHLPA meet after the season and one of the topics for discussion, Sidney hopes, is what can be done to ensure that the NHL is OPENLY WELCOMING to players in circumstances such as his. From my experience over these last two days I would suggest that the answer to this question is to do exactly what the Penguins have done and simply Accept, Support and Trust your guys.

 

~~~

PensNews (10.25) Looking for weekend plans now that the season is over? Why not have afternoon tea with Malkin and Crosby? Or dinner with some of the team while raising money for a good cause? For details follow the {link}.

PensFan7187 (11.15) @Cr0sby Have you seen the @PensNews article? How great would it be to have a look around that house? $4500 a pair for the dinner is out of my price range though :D

Cr0sby (11.45) @PensFan7187 The internet went crazy for the photos on the listing so why not raise money from it? I like the charity choice :) $75 for the ladies only session I could probably stretch to but the dinner no way!!

PensFan7187 (11.53) @Cr0sby I wonder if the charity choice has anything to do with Sophie, I know Crosby said in the interview he did that Sophie’s story belonged to her and her mum and he wasn’t telling it but it would make sense. $75 is more my price range too.

Cr0sby (11.57) @PensFan7187 You can say no because this might be weird but do you fancy it? I know we said about meeting for a game next season, which would have been reasonably safe because there were lots of people but it’s not like this would be just the two of us.

PensFan7187 (12.09) @Cr0sby If you will then I will :) see Malkin’s house, meet you in real life and raise money for a good cause, sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday :)

Cr0sby (12.13) @PensFan7187 I’ll buy a ticket for the ladies only session then? And meet you there?

PensFan7187 (12.15) @Cr0sby Yep! I’ll do the same! I’m so excited!!!!!! Can’t wait!!

Cr0sby (12.17) @PensFan7187 Me too!! See you next Saturday :D

 

~~~

 

“I say Calder need own shelf, I’m think he go pop.” Geno laughed loudly, almost splashing his wine onto the floor and Jack joined him, setting his own drink down before he ruined the new rug.

“You’re evil,” Jack gasped between laughs, “Really evil,”

Geno raised his eyebrows and grinned, eyes gleaming with humour, “is why he love me,” he took a big drag from his glass, “not want someone who not take piss.”

“so many people are too awed,” Jack shuffled forward in his chair, reaching out his hand to ruffle Sid’s hair where he was sat on the floor playing with Sophie, pink to his ears and desperately trying to hide the grin on his face, “They think he won’t like them if they take the piss when in fact it’s what makes him love us.” Jack slurred slightly and Sid knocked his hand away with a mock glare and moved around Sophie until he was out of his reach.

“I thought it was bad enough when they were separately ganging up on me with you,” he slid onto his belly on the carpet, looking Sophie in the eye as she push herself up on her hands, “but a week of house moving together and suddenly they’re a team and it’s terrifying.” He winked and grinned as Sophie smiled at him, reaching out her hand to him, causing her body to collapse back to the floor.

“Not terrifying,” Geno slipped to the floor, lying down heavy against his side, his arm around his shoulder and his right ankle wrapped around Sid’s left.

“It’s just fun,” Jack dropped down on his left, mirroring Geno’s position, the pair of them pinning Sid to the floor and waiting just long enough for him to know what was coming and to realise that he was unable to do anything about it before his ribs were assaulted from both sides, the weight of two men holding him down as he was tickled to the point of wheezing, Sophie giggling and batting the floor in front of him.

“Stop! Stop! Please stop!” he tapped the floor, wriggling and trying to kick his feet and buck them off but it was useless, he’d rarely managed to beat one of them, unless they wanted him too, he had no hope against them both, “Please, he gasped again, please.” and Geno’s hold on him loosened, his left leg coming free and the weight against his shoulder rolling away before a firm hand thwacked his ass causing him to buck up, pushing out of Jack’s hold, leaving them both sprawled on the floor for a second before they regained their composure and returned to the fight.

By the time they were finished, Jack splayed out on his back on the floor, arms pined by his ears and Sid knelt either side of his chest, Sophie was sat safely on Geno’s knee watching them and clapping her hands at the show.

“Sophie,” Sid spoke to his daughter but kept looking at Jack, eyes gleaming and an evil grin on his face that was making Jack’s eyes widen with a mixture of amusement and fear. “Did you know that Uncle Jack has the most ticklish feet of anyone I know,”

Jack instantly bent his knees, pushing the soles of his feet into the rug and trying to lift his hips to dislodge Sid but Sid just relaxed more of his weight on to his torso and smirked at him, “You want Papa to show you?”

“No, No, Geno don’t, No” Jack begged and wriggled and Sid grinned widely at him while Sophie started tapping at his face as soon as Geno set her down next to him, “Please Please?!No! Please! No!”

Standing by Jack’s feet and holding tightly to his ankle as he made desperate attempts to pull away Geno ran his thumb up the underside of Jack’s foot, heel to toe, and he bucked up so hard that he knocked Sid off sideways leaving himself almost hanging from Geno’s grip on his ankle, laughing and wriggling and begging him to stop as he did it again and again and again until Sid kissed Geno’s cheek and told him to let him go.

“That wasn’t fair!” Jack grumbled when he’d calmed down and finally managed to pull himself back up into his chair “you’re mean!”

“Funny though,” Sid laughed, sinking back to the floor to go back to playing with Sophie.

“Wasn’t me who mentioned the Calder,”

“No it wasn’t,” Sid turned his head to look at Jack, eye glinting with mischief, “He’ll apologise for that later though,” Sid winked, “And probably beg for forgiveness!”

“Fuck,” Jack said without thinking and both Geno and Sid laughed at the panicked look in his eyes as he blushed bright red, his hands coming up to cover his mouth as he tried to decide which part of saying that word, in that context, in front of Sophie he should apologise for first!

 

~~~

PensNews (12.35) Malkin’s open house and dinner went well yesterday, [multiple photos attached]

PensNews (12.41) $41650 was raised for a new fund, which will be administered by the Pens Wives, Partners and Girlfriends organisation, @PensWPG and will be open for applications from women’s mental health charities come training camp. @PensFoundation have made a donation of $29350 giving the fund a starting balance of $71000.

PensGossip (13.52) Malkin was joined by Crosby, Orpik, Bennett, Fleury and Letang for last night’s dinner according to Orpik [screenshot of photo attached]

PensGossip (13.55) A number of wives and girlfriends helped Malkin and Crosby with the ladies only event it seems [Photo attached.]

Cr0sby (14.25) @PensFan7187 @PensNews it feels weirdly nice to have made a contribution to this fund :) thank you for coming with me it was so nice to meet you properly!

PensFan7187 (14.37) @Cr0sby Normally they’re well out of my price range, I’m glad this one wasn’t. I’m saving for the game ticket now; we really need to do that :)

Cr0sby (14.47) @PensFan7187 As soon as the schedule’s out we’ll get on it!

 

~~~

“What you doing?” Sid walked up the stairs towards the banging and the Russian curses that had begun filtering down the hall.

“Fit lock, try fit, hurt finger, no worry” Geno was talking around the finger he was sucking on, clearly having cut himself on something but Sid knew better than to ask if he was okay.

“Why are you fitting a lock to the teddy bear’s room? Are you worried he’ll come to life and run away while we’re in Russia?” Sid laughed and Geno grinned around the finger he was still sucking

“He big enough, take over whole house.”

“You bought him for her!”

“I’m think he good to cuddle, remind her, but I’m here now so no need remind.” He dipped his head a little and looked up through his lashes, red blooming on his cheeks and Sid reached out and squeezed his hand around his bicep before pulling him into a quick hug.

“But really, why are you locking the spare room?”

“Is last job to do, we do house dinner. We see Jane, drop plane ticket, arrange when we back.” He tipped his head side to side as if ticking off a list in his head. “We have team party, go Mark’s birthday, see Mario and Nathalie, this last job before summer.”

“Okay,” Sid nodded considering the fact that they were official off the clock tomorrow, off to Russia to sightsee, train and skate and then to Cole Harbour, via a quick stop over in Pittsburgh, to do the same up there. Their first summer as a family was about to start and he couldn’t wait but he was still confused. “I still don’t understand why you’re locking the spare room though?”

Geno took a second to just look at Sid and then he turned to face the door picking up the hammer again before he spoke, a slight nervous edge to his words. “I’m think if lock on two rooms cleaning service not go in either so not know one empty.”

Sid’s heart swelled in his chest and he stepped forward, wrapping his arms around Geno from behind, draping himself over his back and nipping the side of his neck making him jolt and drop the lock as he laughed and then turned in his arms to kiss the smile from his lips.

“So we’re reengaging the cleaning service then?” Sid asked as they broke apart.

“Yes!” Geno responded without any delay, “I’m hate clean, you hate clean, we rich separate, we very rich now. We not clean just cos gay!”

“Fair enough,” Sid laughed and dropped a kiss on Geno’s neck just below his ear. “Shall I do the other one, save your fingers?”

“No!” Geno tightened his arms around him and tried to glare but it quickly collapsed into a smirk and then he kissed his forehead before pulling away and patting him on the ass, “you go feed baby leave real work to me.”

“Ah, that’s how it is now is it?” He laughed and raised his eyebrows.

“Yes,” Geno nodded trying to look a little serious but failing badly, “then I do washing, cook dinner, do dishes and we go sleep early. Have promise to keep start tomorrow.”

“Promise? What promise?”

“Not promise to you,” he beeped his nose and Sid laughed, shaking off the contact, “promise to Magnitogorsk.”

“Yeah?” Sid stepped closer, hands resting on Geno’s waist, “And what did you promise your city?”

“I’m promise, when they forgive run away,” he lifted his arms to rest on Sid’s shoulders, hands crossed behind his head, “I’m promise one day I bring you, bring great Sidney Crosby to skate at Metallurg, to meet team, to train. Tomorrow I take you, take Sophie, get on plane and keep promise.”

“You think they’ll be happy to see me even though we’re living together? You not worried they’ll,”

“I’m promise to bring you” Geno interrupted before he could finish the thought, “always know one day I bring, tomorrow is day.” He used his arms around his neck to pull him in for a kiss, soft and gentle and filled with emotions that flooded into Sid’s body at the touch.

After a moment they broke the kiss and Sid leaned back to look at Geno’s face, taking in the gleam of is eyes, the width of his smile and the redness of his cheeks and he nodded and smiled, “You’ve always known?” He whispered and Geno nodded

“Since very first day.”

Chapter Text

NHL (10.47) there has been much debate for many years about whether Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were deserving of separate nights in honour of the retirement of their jerseys by the Pittsburgh Penguins organisation but tonight the talk is over as the Penguins conduct a joint ceremony for the longest serving, and most successful, centre tandem the league has ever seen.

PensNews (11.25) tonight’s celebrations will commence on the ice directly after warmups, please make sure that you are in your seats, you really don’t want to miss the ceremony. #87and71oneLastTime

~~~

Sophie adjusted his tie, straightened his jacket and fiddled with his hair as they stood in the hall outside the locker room where she’d done so much of her growing up and he couldn’t help the smile on his face as he looked at her, nearly an adult, and clearly nervous about the ceremony to come.

“Perfect” she smiled and kissed his cheek before stepping sideways and repeating her finishing touches on Geno who was grinning at her in a way that would have convinced all but Sophie and Sid that he was as relaxed as he’d ever been. “идеально,” she smiled and pushed up on her toes to kiss his cheek.

“Is everybody ready?” The question came from the end of the hall and Sophie turned in that direction and shouted the affirmative and then they headed towards the ice, Geno stopping them just out of sight of anyone else and tapped Sid’s chest with his fist, prompting the handshake they’d shared a thousand times and Sophie laughed and then scowled at the damage to the ties she’s just rearranged.

“Come here,” she reached for Geno’s tie shaking her head and rolling her eyes at him as she straightened him up again, “I’m supposed to be the kid.” She continued as she moved on to Sid’s.

“Sorry Miss,” they apologised in unison and she shook her head again, rolling her eyes dramatically and grinning at them.

“Out!” she pointed to the end of the tunnel where music was playing, the crowd was cheering and everyone was waiting for them, and Geno stepped towards the noise, turning to flash a grin over his shoulder at Sid, “This time I’m let you go last.”

~~~

“The NHL records will forever show that this organisation lost the draft lottery in two thousand and four but the records will always be wrong.” Mario spoke into the microphone, stood between the hashmarks on a black and gold carpet that ran up the slot and across the blue line where Sid and Geno stood, either side of Sophie, their families by their sides.

“Evgeni Malkin was the first name on our list and we won by the very fact that we got our pick. We had no doubt of the skill, the speed or the work ethic of our pick when we made it but even with all our scouting, interviewing and watching we could never have known quite what quality of man we were bringing to our organisation.”

Geno shuffled his feet uncomfortably and Sophie, who had her left hand entwined with Sid’s brushed the fingers of her right hand against the back of Geno’s left when Sid moved them both a tiny step in his direction.

“Of course the official records from two thousand and four were enough to improve our odds for the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes.” The crowd cheered and Sid squeezed Sophie’s hand and smiled over her head at Geno. “We drafted a boy who was already, in so many ways, a man. The hockey sense, the commitment, the training were all there. The personality, the care, the heart. Sidney Crosby brought it all with him but he also brought the drive and enthusiasm of a young boy living his dream. A drive to make his team better. A drive towards the cup!”

“These two men, side by side, pushing each other forward and holding each other to ever higher standards, were the spark our organisation needed at a time when little hope existed. Together they brought Lord Stanley home six times, they built a youth hockey programme for children who would never have had the chance to play, a number of whom have made it to the draft, and they have raised the profile of our organisation throughout the world.”

“The hockey press has debated the story for years and press and other fans alike have concluded that it is disrespectful for our organisation to deny these two great men the honour of personal jersey retirement ceremonies.”

“After twenty three years of knowing there two gentlemen, of seeing them every day, and of watching them together I can assure you that I and every man and woman who has had the honour of working with them knows that the real disrespect would be for us to try to separate seventy one and eighty seven even for a day.”

The cheer raised the roof, the crowd going wild, waving banners and clapping hands and Geno shuffled closer until he was pressed side to side with Sophie, her fingers tangled in his between them.

As the noise died down Mario looked towards Sophie and she glanced up at Sid and then at Geno, both of them squeezing her hands and nodding just slightly, before she looked back at Mario and smiled and nodded.

“I could speak all night about these two guys but there is someone here far more qualified to make the closing speech than me.” He gestured towards Sophie and she stepped forward carefully, clearly nervous, but she walked towards Mario, hugging him before he stepped away from the microphone and waved her towards it.

 

The arena dropped quiet and even over the distance Sid could see her trembling and he instantly reached for Geno’s hand, grasping hard and feeling his body flood with relief when he moved closer and dropped his hand in favour of wrapping his arm around his back.

“When Mario asked me if I wanted to say something tonight I thought he was crazy, old age finally catching up with him,” She laughed as did Mario and the crowd. “But he told me he was serious so here I am.”

“This ice, this arena, this organisation has been my home since the day I was born. Sitting on the bench, crawling on the ice, playing in the locker room or watching from the box it has been the place where I have watched the two men we are here to honour tonight fight their hardest battles, smile their happiest smiles and cry their saddest tears.”

Sophie took a breath and Geno tightened his arm around Sid.

“I came along suddenly and unexpectedly and at the least practical moment but this organisation and this fan base embraced me with open arms and in return eighty seven and seventy one gave everything they could to bring you all the success that you, and they, dreamed of.”

“I never sat in the Stanley cup, that first year fairy tale being just a little out of their reach, but I ate cereal out of it when I was three and ice cream when I was four, I slurped milkshake from it with a straw when I was eight and had borscht out of it when I was ten and, don’t tell anyone but,”

Sid and Geno both laughed, as did the crowd, and Sophie paused while the arena dropped quiet again.

“When I was fourteen and we all knew that it would be our last, the last Stanley cup win for the Pittsburgh Penguins two headed monster, I drank champagne from it like I’d begged to do when I was three.”

There was a mixture of laughs and cheers around the arena at that and Sophie just waited.

Sid wasn’t sure quite when she’d stopped being his little girl and become the amazing young woman he was watching now but he was glad that the unusual family circumstances had meant that she’d never stayed home, being schooled on the road, and that between them they’d never missed a day of her life because it seemed like only moments since he’d first brought her here to introduce her to the ice.

“It’s been a journey,” Sophie’s voice broke through his thoughts as she went back to addressing the crowd. “It’s been my whole life and I’m so glad that Mario offered me the chance to stand here and speak tonight, the change to stand on this ice while the Pittsburgh Penguin organisation raises eighty seven and seventy one to their rightful place in the rafters, right next to him, because it will be another thing about this wonderful organisation that I will remember forever.”

“Like Mario I could probably stand here all night talking about these two but I know that we have a game to win.” The crowd cheered at that. “I do have one last thing to say to them though.” She took a deep breath, her focus moving from the crowd around her to fall directly on her fathers.

“Crosby and Malkin, Seventy One and Eighty Seven, Daddy and Papa, I am and always will be so very proud to be your daughter.”

There was silence in the arena for a moment, like everyone was holding their breath and trying to decide if they’d heard that right, but as Sophie moved, running down the carpet towards Sid and Geno and almost crashing into their arms for a family hug the arena roared, cameras flashing all around.

The lights of the arena went down and the crowd hushed as two spotlights appeared, one trained on each jersey as they slowly climbed their way to the rafters and Sid, Geno and Sophie rearranged themselves so that Sophie was stood in front of Sid, his arms wrapped around her with Geno at his back his arms around them both and they watched their jerseys climb into place.

“I love you,” Sid whispered into Sophie’s hair, kissing her head as the spotlights reached the roof and then, just as the lights came up all around them he leaned his head back and Geno kissed him, soft and gentle and right there in the middle of their ice.