The rain seems to be inescapable even as they descend the stairs into the train station. The water rushes around their feet, soaking their shoes even further until they step further onto the platform.
Sid closes his umbrella and points it away from himself before he shakes out the extra moisture. Beside him Flower shakes like a dog and says “at least it’s not snow.”
“Oh, god, I wish,” Sid says back and Flower rolls his eyes and takes his cap off his head so he can slick back his hair.
“You say that now but just you wait. This isn’t your tiny hometown, Sidney. Here, you get maybe an hour, maybe, before the plows fuck it all up and all that pretty snow turns to muddy slush.”
“You make Montréal sound so beautiful.”
Flower grins. “We’re happy to have you.”
Sid is happy to be here but it has been an adjustment, one he’s still working to accept fully. The impending winter is just another thing he’ll need to get used to. Along with the constant noise of traffic outside his apartment windows and taking the metro to work everyday.
Sid shakes the umbrella once more before he wraps the strap around it and tucks it beneath his arm as they wait for the 7:15 train.
Slowly, more people join them. Men dressed in suits and women in dresses with their heels in their hands and rain boots on their feet. Tired looking teenagers and young adults on their way to class, faces buried in their phones.
“I wish we stopped for coffee,” Flower says and Sid turns his head and catches the sound of trains rumbling down the tracks.
“If we did we would’ve been late.” He glances down at his watch. “It’s early today.”
“It’s karma to make up for the rain,” Flower says as the train blows past them before starting to slow down.
“That’s not how karma works.”
Flower sighs and shakes his head and pushes Sid towards the doors of the train when they screech open. Sid ends up circling around and letting everyone on the platform on before him so he’s the last one on.
Flower is already sitting down with his phone out when he steps in and just as the doors as beginning to close someone barrels into him from behind. It’s with enough force that he should be on the ground but there’s a strong arm around his waist to keep him upright.
Sid turns around as the train pulls out of the station and sways into the man that’s holding him.
He’s tall and absolutely soaked through to the bone. His dark hair is flattened against his head and there’s water sticking to his eyelashes. The thin zip up sweatshirt he’s wearing is clinging tightly to his shoulders and chest and the running shorts are sticking to his thighs.
Sid looks back up to his face and the water droplet that’s sliding down his temple. “Hi,” is the only thing he can think to say.
“ПРОСТИ,” the guys says back and Sid frowns because that’s not English or French. He squeezes Sid’s waist and makes sure he’s upright and standing on his own before he slips his arm free and steps further into the train.
“Hey,” Flower says lightly to the guy as he passes by him, “is it raining out there?”
The guy pauses and frowns then keeps moving, finding a seat a few rows up.
“Okay then,” Flower drawls then pats the empty seat beside him. “Come sit. You never sit.”
“The train gets so busy in the morning I’d just end up standing back up again in a few stops.”
“Because you are a walking Canadian cliche. Too polite for your own good,” he says with a good natured roll of his eyes.
“I’m doing what I’m supposed to. How would you feel if Vero got on here and no one gave up their seat to her?”
“I’d freak. She’s creating life. She can have whatever the hell she wants.”
Sid gives him a pointed look and Flower nods.
“Yeah, alright, you made your point even if it’s only an excuse for the truth; your ass and thighs are so big they’d take up at least three seats.”
“Can you maybe keep your voice down?” He quickly glances around and finds several people staring at them, including the soaked through stranger. “People can hear you.”
“Sid, it’s 7:15 in the morning, no one is awake yet. You could drop your pants in the middle of the car and no one would even bat an eye.”
Sid feels his face flame as more people look at him and the older woman that’s sitting beside Flower sniffs and turns in her seat.
“Je suis désolé,” Flower says, sounding genuinely apologetic and Sid laughs. Flower flips him off behind the woman’s back.
The train fills up quickly and two stops later Flower is up and standing beside Sid, having given up his seat to a young woman who looks like she forgot her umbrella.
At the next stop Sid helps a man with a stroller over the gap and then squeezes in close to Flower to make sure there’s enough room.
“Such a gentleman,” Flower says to Sid as he subtly elbows a portly fellow out of his personal space so he has enough room to stand without hunching over. “You’re going to make some lucky man every happy one day.”
“If that doesn’t work there’s always my ass.”
“Ha!” Flower crows, “a joke. Good for you.”
Sid shrugs off the praise and looks over Flowers shoulder. He has a direct view of the man that ran into him. His hair is beginning to dry and it’s long enough that it’s curling off across his forehead. He has earbuds in and he’s mouthing the words along with whatever is playing and his eyes are very obviously glued to Sid’s ass.
He must sense Sid’s gaze because his eyes snap up and they stare at each other for a moment before the man’s whole body tenses and he swings his head in the opposite direction.
Three stops later the man stands and gets off the train through the doors on the other end of the train. Sid watches him through the window as he steps onto the platform and joins the herd of people moving towards the stairs.
The man never looks back and Sid tries to kick down the swell of disappointment he feels.
The next morning the man is standing on the platform waiting for the train. He’s wearing the same running shoes he had on yesterday but a different pair of shorts and a t-shirt. He’s dry today, the storms having moved out during the night, except for the line of sweat that has seeped through the cotton of his shirt down his back and around his collar.
He’s there the following morning as well and the morning after that. In fact, he’s there every morning for the whole week and Sid begins to feel like maybe he missed something. Maybe this man has always been getting on the train with them and he just didn’t notice. It seems far fetched that someone this tall and exactly Sid’s type would slip through the cracks. Especially since he seems to adhere to such a strict routine.
The man is always standing in the same place on the platform; about two feet away from the bench between the support beam and the garbage can.
He’s always in athletic wear, always the same shoes but never the same shorts and shirt two days in a row.
He has his headphones in and his phone in his hand while he waits for the train. He ducks his head down to stare at the screen while he mouths along to the words.
Inside the train car he always sits in the same set with his long legs crossed at the ankles and spread out in front of him until the train starts to fill up and he folds them back into place.
He tries to take up as little room as possible which is nearly impossible given the span of his shoulders and when he has to stand he always holds onto the support rail running across the top of the car.
He always gets off at Station Peel and he never looks back at the train as he takes the stairs up to street level.
When the weather starts to dip the man starts wearing long sleeved shirts and leggings beneath his shorts and Sid sips his coffee slowly and tries to figure out why the fabric pulling across the man’s calves is more alluring than seeing his bare skin.
Beside him, Flower is having a mini break down over the color of the nursery, too worried about pink versus purple versus light blue for him to notice that Sid is staring.
“You should have had this done already,” Sid says as he runs the lid of his coffee cup across his lips and finally tears his eyes away from the man’s long legs. “Aren’t you only a month away?”
“Three weeks,” Flower says as he runs his hands through his hair. “Less than that if she comes early which according to Vero, all the babies on her side of the family do. I’m freaking out.”
“You’ll be fine.”
“Easy for you to say,” Flower huffs and Sid turns back to the man as Flower starts in on baby bibs and building high chairs.
It doesn’t seem like he’s really looking for Sid’s input about anything so Sid lets his mind wander as the train pulls up and they board.
He hasn’t been out on as much as a coffee date with anyone since he moved to Montreal, not that he was really out and about in Cole Harbour but still ...it's nice to play pretend on his commute to work.
He thinks about the man’s large hands and how small they make his phone look and how they’d feel cradled against Sid’s jaw.
His full lips. The slope of his nose. The way his eyelashes fan out against his cheeks. Sid feels stupid and giddy all at once when the man shuts his eyes and starts to sway in his seat before leaning against the wall.
Must have been a long night, Sid thinks. Probably with his girlfriend or boyfriend.
Sid sighs and turns back to Flower who is looking at him expectantly.
“Are you even listening to me?” Flower asks and Sid blinks at him. “What do you think about Estelle?”
“For a name? I thought you were waiting until you saw her?”
“We are but I’m still thinking of possibilities. So what do you think?”
“It’s nice and if she doesn’t look like an Estelle when you see her I’m sure you can just use it for you next kid.”
Flower seems to pale at the thought and Sid knocks their shoulders together.
“You’re going to do great.”
“It’s just a lot, you know?” Flower says and Sid nods along as he takes another sip of coffee. “Our whole world is going to change and neither of us have done this and I love kids but how do you really know how you’re going to be with your own kid?”
“You’ll probably be better,” Sid says helpfully. “I’m sure of it.”
The train starts to slow down as it pulls into Peel and the man doesn’t move.
Distractedly Sid adds, “if you need help you’ll always have a babysitter.”
Flower looks grateful and Sid looks over his shoulder at the man as the train grinds to a stop.
“What’s wrong?” Flower asks, “you have your serious face on.”
“It’s nothing.” The doors open and the man still doesn’t move. He looks like he’s deep asleep and he only has about thirty seconds to get off the train. “It’s just that that guy over there always gets off at this stop.”
Flower looks over his shoulder. “That’s the one that ran into you.”
“Yeah. He always gets off here. I think he fell asleep. He’s gonna miss it.”
“Maybe he’s going somewhere else today.”
“No,” Sid says with a quick shake of his head. “He always does the same thing.” He bounces on his toes for a moment, indecisive, before he pushes his coffee cup into Flowers hand and throws himself forward, tossing out “I’m sorry,” and “Excusez-moi” and ignoring Flower’s questioning “how do you know he does the same thing everyday,” as he works his way closer to the man.
There has to be only seconds left before the train leaves the station when Sid jostles the man’s shoulder and he blinks himself awake. He startles when he sees Sid and looks up with wide eyes.
“Is this your stop?” Sid asks and the man blinks at him. “I think you fell asleep and you usually get off here and I just-.”
All at once realization dawns on the man’s face and he pushes himself to his feet and squeezing past everyone on the train to get to the door. He narrowly makes it out on time, the doors closing as he slips out and onto the platform.
Sid watches as the man catches his breath with his hands on his knees before he pulls up and runs a hand down his face. He looks at Sid through the window of the door and slowly raises his hand to wave. Sid waves back right before the train disappears into the tunnel.
“How did you know he gets off at that stop everyday?” Flower asks again when Sid makes his way back over to him.
Sid can’t ignore him this time so he just shrugs and deflects. “I notice things. Lots of things. Like how you look like you’re gonna faint every time you see a baby.”
“There are a ton of babies everywhere lately. It’s a sign or something.”
Sid spends the rest of the train ride to work listening to him talking about car seats and thinking about the man’s sleepy expression when he woke up.
“Maybe he works at a gym or something.”
Sid frowns and looks over at Flower.
“The guy.” He juts his chin out and Sid follows. Today the man is wearing deep red running shorts and a white long sleeved-t. No leggings. “That would explain the shorts and shoes and everything. Aren’t you curious?”
He is extremely curious. “Why would I be?”
“You stare at him everyday and you’re not curious about what he does?”
“I do not stare at him and would you please be quiet? He’s right there.”
“He has earbuds in and I don’t think he speaks English anyways.”
“Oh he speaks it,” Sid says as he thinks of all the times he has caught him looking at his ass whenever Flower happens to bring it up. “Or at least he understands it.”
Flower looks at him with narrowed eyes. “Interesting.”
On cue the man looks over his shoulder with a faint blush across his cheeks. Sid nods at him as his own face heats and Flower grins between the two of them until the train pulls up to the station.
Once they board the man moves slowly to his regular seat, pausing in the middle of the car for a moment before he finally pulls one earbud out and turns around. He sticks his hand out to Sid and Sid raises his eyebrows and has to juggle the coffee cup he’s holding before he reaches out and takes it.
It’s large and warm and softer than he was expecting and all too soon being taken away.
“Should say thanks,” the man says in heavily accented English. “Should first say sorry and then thanks. Run into that day ...is bad so sorry and then fall asleep, you wake. Work late night before,” he explains and Sid nods. No partying with a girlfriend or boyfriend then.“Want to say thanks.”
“Oh, that’s okay,” Sid starts but the man interrupts.
“English is hard,” he says and he sounds a bit like he’s reading off a script, like he’s memorized the words so Sid stays quiet and lets him finish. “I’m learning but it’s slow. French is hard but English is worse. Wanted to say it right so you would understand.”
“You’re doing great,” Sid says and the man looks pleased at the compliment.
“Long way to go. A lot to learn.” He taps the screen of his phone. “Am listening. Supposed to be teaching.”
“Oh, that’s what you’re listening to. I always wondered, you seemed so into it.”
The man ducks his head but when he picks it back up he’s smiling. “Yes.”
“I wish they had things like that when I was trying to learn French. It was so hard to learn how to speak it.”
“You still can’t speak it,” Flower says and Sid glares at him before turning back to the man.
“You’re doing great,” Sid says again. “I’m just glad you didn’t you didn’t miss your stop.”
“Yes, me too. Glad I could say thank you.”
“Well, thank you for saying thank you,” Sid says and then immediately winces. “And you’re welcome.”
The man nods and wanders back over to the space where he usually sits and Flower stands up when more passengers get on the train.
“Thank you for saying thank you,” he repeats and Sid shuts his eyes and rests his forehead over the hand that’s holding onto the pole.
“Please just shut the fuck up about that,” he says quietly. “I’m begging.”
Flower looks gleeful. “I’m just-.”
“Yes, I know. But as my friend and the future uncle of your unborn baby, please do not say another word until we are off the train. Just, please.”
Flower makes a show of zipping his lips and they stand together in silence while Sid replays the entire conversation with the man over in his head. He was doing so well until that one moment….
Still, when the man gets off at his stop he purposefully meets Sid’s eyes and smiles and waves.
Flower doesn’t say anything but he does clear his throat very loudly.
Sid elbows him under the guise of creating more room for the new passengers.
It goes on like that.
They’ll wave or nod to each other as hello or goodbye but they never speak.
A week passes and then another and Flower grows more and more anxious about becoming a father and Sid’s love life (or lack thereof) at the same time.
“Are you ever going to ask him out?” He asks once the man gets off at his stop. Today he and Sid smiled and waved at each other.
“I don’t even know his name. I don’t even know if he’s into me like that or would ever be. He could just be being friendly.”
“He’s into you.”
“How do you know?”
“Because while you’re pretending not to stare at him he’s pretending not to stare at you. I notice things too, you know.”
“I don’t know his name,” Sid says, trying to keep the whine out of his voice. “It would be weird to just ask him out.”
“Then ask for his name. That’s the first step. If you don’t do it, I’ll do it for you.”
“I’m serious. Monday morning. If you don’t, I will. I can’t watch you pine anymore. It’s hurting my heart.”
Fortunately, Flower doesn’t get the chance to act out his promise.
Vero goes into labor late Saturday afternoon and on Monday morning Sid waits for the train by himself with a phone full of pictures of baby Estelle.
The man, dressed in a fleece and leggings today, does a double take when he sees him standing alone and takes his earbud out.
“Yeah,” Sid says, “my friend’s wife had a baby so it’s going to be just me while he’s out on paternity leave.”
“Aww, baby. What kind?”
Sid’s eyebrows knit together and for a moment he’s not sure what exactly is being asked but then the man touches his arm and says, “boy or girl?”
“Oh, girl. Here, I have pictures.” He digs his phone out of his pocket and unlocks it. Then he pauses when he realizes he’s about to show off Flower’s kid to a stranger who might not even really be interested.
But the man leans closer like he wants to get a better look at the screen and Sid continues on.
Estelle is just a little lump of a thing wrapped up in a pink blanket but the man still coos over every picture that Sid scrolls past.
The man smells faintly of sweat and mostly like cold, clean air. His cheeks are flushed and his hair is a mess and-
“She call you Uncle…”
“Sid,” he says. “My name is Sid.”
“Geno,” the man says. “Can call me Geno. Easier for English.”
“How are you doing with that?” Sid asks. “You sound great.”
Geno holds up his phone. “Still listening. Is good for when I run, you know. Makes me forget I’m running.”
“So you run then?”
Geno gestures down to his clothing. “Yes. Everyday. Start at my apartment and run along the river. Take train back.”
“That’s a long run.”
“Is why I take the train. Would die without it. You going to be okay riding train alone?”
Sid can tell from his tone and the way Geno’s bottom lip is tucked between his teeth that he’s teasing so Sid makes a show of rolling his eyes before he says “I think I’ll survive.”
“He runs,” Sid says. “Geno runs.”
Flower hums and looks up from Estelle who is sleeping peacefully in Sid’s arms. They’re in the nursery which has been painted a soft shade of purple.
“Geno,” Sid explains, “the man from the train. He runs.”
Maybe it’s because he’s running on only a handful of hours of sleep but it seems to take a moment for it all to click in Flower’s head. But when it does he smiles so wide Sid’s face hurts just looking at it.
“You talked to him?”
“He talked to me first. He asked about you.”
All at once Flower’s face falls. “Oh, Sid-.”
“No, oh god, don’t flatter yourself. He’s not into you or whatever. He just noticed that you were missing. Jesus.”
“Okay, alright, so he doesn’t like me, you don’t have to be such a dick about it.” But then the smile is back as he says “so you guys talked. What did you talk about?”
“Nothing really. He runs, he must have an apartment or something up by Peel and then he takes the train back. I showed him pictures of Estelle. He said she was cute. That was it. It’s no big deal.”
“Then why did you tell me about it? With all of this,” Flower says as he gestures to the nursery, “I kind of forgot all about it.”
“I guess it kind of maybe felt like a big deal,” Sid admits quietly and Flower makes a soft sound.
“Sid, I know moving here hasn’t been the easiest thing for you but you deserve something nice. If this feels like a big thing for you then maybe it is. Chase it. Don’t just stare at it.”
“I’m not like you,” Sid says, “I can’t just make people like me without even trying. It takes a lot of work.”
Flower scoots to the edge of the rocking chair, , an exact match to the one Sid is in and puts a supportive hand on Sid’s knee. “Trust me when I tell you that this guy, Geno, already likes you and the only thing you had to do to get him there was wake him up.”
“How is baby?” Geno asks him the following morning as he meets up with Sid on the platform. “You have new pictures?”
Sid takes his phone out of his pocket and Geno steps in close. Sid managed to take photo of Estelle smiling that he’s sure Geno is going to love.
Over the next few days the conversation changes from talking about Estelle to talking about themselves.
They talk about where they grew up (they’re both from small hometowns) and their families (they both have one sibling) and soon the best part of Sid’s day ends up being the twenty minutes they spend together on the train.
On a cold morning in mid-December Geno stands close to him on the train even before it gets crowded and asks him questions about his job.
“Can’t believe you work for the Habs. So cool.”
“I don’t really work for them,” Sid clarifies, “I work for their PR firm. We organize their group functions and charitable events…stuff like that.”
“Still. Sounds like fun. More fun than my job.”
When Sid questions him Geno looks embarrassed to admit that he’s a busboy at a restaurant.
“Just temporary,” he says. “Until I learn my English. Or French. Both seem so hard.”
“And he’s just so smart,” Sid says as he helps Flower set the table for dinner. Vero is bouncing a fussy Estelle in her arms and Sid doesn’t miss the look she and Flower exchange. “He’s so smart and he speaks like, four other languages but they aren’t french and they aren’t English so I think he thinks everyone thinks he’s dumb. It’s not fair. When he told me he was a busboy it looked like he thought I was going to make fun of him or something. It sucked.”
“Sounds like you really care about him,” Vero says and Estelle gurgles along.
“He’s nice. It’s nice.” He leans on the back of the dining room chair and takes a deep breath. “I really like it here and I’m glad I came but sometimes I look at the two of you.” He stops and looks at Estelle. “The three of you now and I just want more.”
“It’s okay to want more for yourself, Sid,” Vero says gently. “And it’s okay if you think that this Geno might be it.”
Sid’s hands tighten on the chair. “I really like him.”
“Invite him over for dinner,” Vero says, sounding excited. “I’d love to meet him. He sounds lovely.”
“I’ll think about it,” Sid says and when he looks up Vero and Flower are smiling softly at him.
Sid thinks about it and thinks about it and thinks about it.
He talks himself into it and out of it and back and forth over and over again.
He loves the moments he has with Geno now but he desperately wants more but he also doesn’t want to ruin the delicate balance they have now.
Sid has been agonizing for three full days when Geno looks at him and asks “you okay? Been quiet.”
“I just have a lot on my mind I guess,” Sid says and Geno frowns down at him.
“Going to be okay?”
Sid sighs. “I don’t know. Maybe. I hope.” The train starts to slow down as it pulls into Geno’s stop. “I guess it depends.”
Geno nods and sways on his feet when the train comes to a full stop and the doors open. “My stop,” he says as he pats Sid’s shoulder. “Hope you have a good day.”
Sid mumbles out a quiet goodbye as Geno makes his way out the doors and as they’re starting to close Sid runs out after him.
“Geno,” he calls and Geno immediately turns around with a confused look on his face.
“Sid. Not your stop.”
“I know, it’s fine. I’ll get the next train.”
“Gonna be late for work.”
“It’s fine, I don’t care. I just….” He looks up at Geno; at the gold chain around his neck that’s peeking out beneath his collar, his sweat damp hair that’s curling around his temples and his dark eyes that are filled with worry because he’s worried about him. Because Geno cares about him.
“Is this okay?” Sid asks but he doesn’t wait for an answer before he slowly stretches up.
Geno has to see this coming because he cups the side of Sid’s neck with his hand and pulls him in the rest of the way and then they’re kissing in the middle of the platform as early morning commuters mill around them.
Sid sighs when they part and Geno rubs his thumb against Sid’s jaw.
“Been wanting to do that since I first see you,” Geno says quietly. “Couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
Sid laughs and kisses him again. “Yeah, me too. I should’ve done it sooner but-.”
“Some things take time,” Geno says and Sid nods. Learning a new language, adjusting to a new city, waiting for a train to come. They all take time.
“There’s ten minutes until the next train,” Sid says, “do you have time to wait with me?”
Geno smiles and drops his hand from Sid neck so he can grab for Sid’s hand instead.
“For you,” Geno says as he brings Sid’s hand up to his lips. He presses a kiss to the back of it before he says “have all the time.”