The news comes as a shock to the entire team, but Sidney can't breathe. Dupuis and Jordy both shift closer to him and he feels Jordan's hand land on the small of his back, but it doesn't help. All he can do is stare at Geno and his huge smile and the words ringing through his head, in Geno's voice.
He feels numb as the others get up to congratulate Geno on his marriage, all of them glancing back at him, eyes sad. There are days it feels like the whole Penguin organization knows how he feels about Geno, from Mario to the janitors, but it’s just the team which is more than Sidney can deal with. He doesn’t want their sympathy and he has a feeling he’s going to be getting a lot of it.
Finally Jordan gets up to congratulate Geno leaving, Dupuis sitting next to him. Pascal slowly stands and squeezes his shoulder. “It’ll be okay kid.”
Chest tight Sidney barely manages to nod. He’s been in love with Geno from almost the beginning and has allowed himself, not very often, to imagine what it would be like if Geno knew and returned his feelings. He’s always kept a candle of hope burning, that maybe once Geno would see what the others did, how much Sidney loves him.
Now though the candle is guttering out, leaving him feeling cold and empty.
Sidney stands as Geno gets closer because he’s not going to have this conversation sitting down. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Geno shrugs and looks abashed. “We been talking about it for some time and seemed right. Sanja was there, as-” He trails off.
“Witness.” The help is automatic, and Sidney hates the fact he can even get the word out because this is the last straw, that Ovechkin knew, was invited, and he wasn’t.
He stumbles to his feet, twisting away when Geno reaches out to catch him because there’s no way, he can possibly handle being touched right now.
Geno frowns at him and Sidney shakes his head. “I ca-” He swallows hard. “Congratulations Geno.”
It hurts to say and leaves a bitter taste in his mouth, but Geno doesn’t seem to notice the lack of sincerity in his voice as his smile brightens.
“I’ve got to go.” Sidney needs to get away, can’t be around Geno right now and he grabs his bag and ducks out, feeling Geno’s eyes on his back the entire way.
He tosses his bag in the backseat and leaves before Geno can catch up. The road seems to be shifting around him, the white line on the right creeping closer to his car and it takes Sidney a minute to realize his hands are trembling, making driving straight impossible and he pulls into the parking lot of a grocery store.
Breathing hard he rests his forehead against the curve of the steering wheel. His heart is going a thousand miles a minute and no matter how much he tries to not think about Geno being married it won’t go away and it just makes breathing hurt even more.
Going home would make sense but he can’t be there right now. Instead he goes to the airport and gets a ticket for the next flight to DC because seriously, it isn’t fair that Ovechkin knew, and he didn’t.
When he gets there, he hails a cab and asks for a bar. He doesn’t really care where he ends up as long as they have copious amounts of alcohol. The place he ends up isn’t quite a dive but is worse than he would usually go to in Pittsburgh. Pulling his hat lower he enters the bar and is grateful to see it free of anything Capitals related.
The bartender doesn’t even give him a second look when he asks for a bottle of vodka and Sidney can’t help his snort of laughter at his choice. Here he is trying to get away from Geno and he orders his favourite brand of vodka
He breaks the seal and fills the glass, downing the shot before he can think about it too much. It burns all the way down and he doesn’t wait for the feeling to subside before downing another and then a third and after that he kind of loses track. His feelings and the bar grow fuzzy and Sid settles for staring at the top of the bar, hand curled loosely around his glass.
There’s a hand on his shoulder and he looks up, blinking blearily. The bartender is staring at him, frowning slightly. “Do I need to call you a cab?”
Sitting up makes his head swim and Sidney nods. He’s not so drunk that he can’t work his phone but it’s probably better to let the bartender handle it.
The bartender disappears and comes back a few minutes later. “They said it’ll be about fifteen minutes.”
“Thanks.” Sidney digs out his wallet and tosses a couple of bills on the bar before taking one last shot for the road.
It’s not late enough in the year for it to be terribly cold and Sidney slumps against the side of the bar, hands tucked into the pocket of his hoodie. He keeps his head down, hat shading his face on the off chance any rabid Caps fans wander by and take offense at his presence in their city.
The cab shows up and Sidney jerks the door open and crawls in. He gets his phone out and recites the address on the screen to the cabbie. He’ll never admit to how he got Ovechkin’s address, but it involved some careful tracking down and convincing a couple people that he meant no harm in wanting his rival captain’s address.
Once the cab is underway Sidney leans his head back against the rest and closes his eyes. Even the strobe of the lights through his eyelids is enough to make him a little queasy and he swallows hard.
An indeterminate time later the cab glides to a stop and it takes him a minute to remember where he is. Opening his eyes he looks around to find they’ve stopped in an upscale neighborhood.
The driver is half turned in his seat, the partition between them open. “Up and at ‘em kid. This is your stop.”
Sidney hands some money to the cab driver, doesn’t worry about counting it and gets out of the car, catching at the edge of the door as the ground shifts under his feet. Slamming the door he makes his way up the sidewalk and keeps a death grip on the stair railing.
The world is moving in sickening patterns and Sidney focuses on the door at the top of the stairs, the only stable point around him. He’s had enough alcohol to think this is a good idea and he bangs on Ovechkin’s door. He isn’t leaving until everything is resolved.
The door swings open and he doesn’t give Ovechkin time to say anything, finger digging hard into the other man’s shoulder. “You knew! Why didn’t you tell me?”
It doesn’t matter that he and Alex don’t talk or have any contact beyond games. Ovechkin knew and should have told him.
Alex is obviously confused, and he frowns. “Sidney, what do I know?”
Sidney jabs him again, the alcohol making his thinking fuzzy because he would never in his right mind think about starting any kind of physical violence against Ovechkin any other time. He likes his head where it was but he was at Geno’s wedding and somehow that makes it his fault. “About Geno getting married.”
The confusion melts away, replaced with something Sidney can’t name and before he can act Ovechkin has him by the arm and is pulling him inside. He doesn’t move as the door closes behind him, suddenly unable to move. His plan ended with confronting Ovechkin and now that he’s done it, he has no idea what to do.
The decision is taken out of his hands when he’s herded to the kitchen where Ovechkin pushes him down in a chair. A glass of water appears in front of him and he looks at his host who is staring at him. “Do you have anything stronger?”
“Yes, but I think you have enough. Not walking so straight.”
Sidney snorts. “I’m fine. Besides I’m entitled to get shit faced when I find out the person I lo-” He bites his lower lip because he’s only ever admitted once, out loud that he’s in love with Geno and he isn’t going to give Ovechkin that knowledge.
Shaking his head Ovechkin goes to a cabinet and comes back with a bottle of vodka and two glasses. He fills both before pushing one towards Sidney. “Told Zhenya to tell you. He not understand why.”
Sidney takes a drink, flinching at the burn. “He didn’t understand what?”
Draining his glass Alex refills it before staring at Sidney, eyes intense. “How you feel about him.”
Glass halfway off the table Sidney freezes. There is no possible way Ovechkin can know how he feels about Geno but even through everything going on he can see it in his face and eyes that he knows. Hand tight around his glass he stares at Ovechkin. “How-”
Alex shrugs. “Way you look at Zhenya. I notice, don’t think anyone else sees.”
Sidney groans because if Ovechkin noticed, there is no way his secret is safe. He drains his glass and sets it back down, refilling it to almost the top, ignoring the look Ovechkin is giving him. He’s lost Geno and the last thing he wants to do is remember the day.
The first thing Sidney is aware of when he wakes is that he’s on a couch and the soft blanket over him. Groaning he rubs at his eyes, trying to remember exactly what happened the day before. There was practice and Geno announcing his marriage. A numb feeling and then heading to the airport. A bar barely above a dive somewhere in DC and a cab ride to Ovechkin’s house, followed by good vodka and Alex’s surprisingly quiet, steadying presence as he’d gotten drunk because the man he loves is married.
Pulling the blanket close Sidney slowly sits up. He looks around and is surprised to find his shoes on the floor by the end of the couch and the glass of water and bottle of painkillers on the table next to the couch. Popping the lid he dry swallows two before draining the glass of water and then gets up, glass in hand.
He wanders into the kitchen and stops. There’s an impressive spread of food on the kitchen table and an older, dark haired woman at the stove. She turns to look at him like she has some sixth sense and points to the table with the spoon in her hand.
Sidney nods and sits down because he isn’t stupid enough to get on a mother’s bad side with or without a language barrier. She sets a plate and glass of water in front of him and under her watchful eyes Sidney piles some food on his plate.
It’s not the kind of food he would usually eat but he’s oddly hungry despite the low-grade headache he has, and it really does smell good.
Ten minutes later Ovechkin comes bounding into the kitchen, in sweatpants and a hoodie. He grins at Sidney before going to his mother, kissing her on the top of the head. There’s a quick conversation and then Alex is sitting down across from, piling his own plate with food.
“Next time, we drink in living room. Much easier to get you on couch then.”
Sidney nods as he eats but he doesn’t think there’s going to be a next time. He’s going to go back to Pittsburgh, throw himself even deeper into hockey and ignore the fact that he’s in love with Geno and that Geno is married and it isn’t going to matter anymore.
After they eat, he insists on doing dishes which leads to a rather amusing exchange between mother and son with Alex gently guiding his mother out of the kitchen with every step. He’s surprised when Alex comes back and gets a towel out of the drawer.
Ovechkin rolls his eyes as he drapes the towel over his shoulder and starts to gather up the dirty dishes. “She tell me I better help do dishes or bad things happen.”
It doesn’t take long for them to finishes the dishes and Sidney lets Ovechkin shove him back to the table as he works to put the dishes away. He can’t help but wonder if Ovechkin had his mother come over specifically to make him breakfast and he’s touched by the gesture. He’s never admitted it to anyone but there are times he misses his mother’s cooking and it was nice to get something home made even if he can’t tell his trainer.
Ovechkin disappears and his mother appears in the door. Sid tries not to fidget under her intense regard. He has the feeling she knows something about the situation, and he can’t tell from her expression what she thinks about it. Tatyana shakes her head, a maternal gesture that Sid recognizes from his mom and smiles softly at him before leaving.
He’s got his phone out to call a cab when Alex reappears, dressed for the day. Before he can react, Alex grabs his phone and hits the end call button before shoving the phone back into his hands. “What the hell?”
Alex grins. “Good host takes his guest to airport so he doesn’t have to pay for a cab.”
“I think I can afford a cab Ovechkin.” Standing Sidney pockets his phone.
A hand lands on his shoulder, pushing him away from the kitchen. “I know Sid, but mother insist I give you ride and do not want to be on her bad side.”
Sidney nods and allows Ovechkin to push him towards the garage and the fleet of expensive cars kept there. He slides into the indicated car and while he’s always seen vehicles as a convenience for getting around but as he sinks into the stupidly comfortable seats Sidney can understand the fascination with luxury cars.
He’s heard people talk about Alex’s driving, but he seems to be taking it easy, driving at reasonable speeds and leaving ample room when he passes. Sid is fairly sure Ovechkin is doing it for him and the fact he still feels a little nauseous despite the good food and roughly twelve glasses of water he’s had to drink since waking up.
Sidney is surprised when Alex pulls into the short-term parking rather than dumping him off at the passenger loading zone like he’d been expecting. He watches as he slides the car into park and then the same hand is curling around the back of his neck, thumb following the line of his hair.
He gives into the gentle pressure, lets Alex pull him across the console and closes his eyes when their foreheads touch briefly.
Alex’s hand remains on his neck and Sidney opens his eyes to meet Alex’s gaze. The oddness is heavy again in the clear blue gaze and Alex squeezes his neck once before dropping his hand. He shivers against the loss of warmth.
Alex smiles. “Things get better Sidney.”
Sidney mumbles thanks as he ducks out of the car because no matter what Ovechkin may say, things aren’t going to get better.
That night Sidney is sprawled out on the couch, the TV on low showing highlights from the previous night’s games. His phone is on the couch next to his hip, vibrating periodically and he’s stopped checking it. They’re all from teammates and a couple from Taylor, all asking how he’s doing and the last thing he wants is to have to deal with their sympathy. He flips the TV to some movie he doesn’t really care about and closes his eyes, content to just not think.
He’s half managed to doze off when his phone buzzes again and he jerks a little before settling back. Less than a minute later it goes off again and then a third time and Sid snatches his phone up, thumbing the screen.
The number on the display isn’t one he recognizes, the area code foreign and there’s nothing in the body of the message. The second is just a long line of question marks and it’s the third that reveals the sender of the text: Sid, why you not text back?
Ovechkin. Sidney has no idea how he got his number, but he can’t really get up the energy to care. I was watching a movie. Why?
The answer is quick. Want to make sure you get back okay and not run to Hawaii.
Sidney manages a wan smile. I’m not a teenage girl Ovechkin. I’m not even going to cry myself to sleep tonight.
When his phone doesn’t vibrate right away Sidney goes back to the movie, phone resting on his stomach. He’s almost dropped off again when it goes off and he just barely manages to avoid fumbling it to the floor. Good. Zhenya not worth ruining pillow.
He isn’t sure he agrees with Ovechkin’s assessment about Geno’s worth, but he understands the sentiment and appreciates it. Thanks for the pep talk.
The reply is instantaneous. Anytime Sid.