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Out of the Woods

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Patric is just barely awake when he stumbles out of his hotel room, which is why he doesn’t even blink as he moves past the couple making out against the opposite wall of the hallway.

 

He smiles absently when he passes them, shaking his head a little at how oblivious they seem to their surroundings, limbs tangled up in each other, kissing messily.

 

Patric has already rounded the corner of the hallway leading to the elevators when he stops up short. His eyes grow wide and his jaw drops. Very slowly, he turns on his heels and walks the few steps back to the edge of the corridor. He sneaks a glance around the wall—and yes, that is, in fact, Sid and Geno, making out in broad daylight.

 

“Horny? What are you doing?”

 

Patric startles, and snaps around guiltily. “Nothing!” he exclaims. He sees Kuni raising his brows at him sceptically, and Patric wants to slap himself. He clearly needs to work on his subtlety.

 

“So, breakfast?” he asks, a little desperately, and physically starts herding Kuni towards the elevators.

 

Kuni lets himself be moved, but the look he sends Patric is rather uncharitable, he thinks. Doesn’t matter. Patric will take it if it means protecting Sid and Geno’s privacy.

 

He’s not sure if Kuni, or anyone really, knows about them, because Patric has been a Penguin for almost three months now, and there’s been nothing—nothing—indicating that Sid and Geno are a thing.

 

Patric is smart enough to realise he’s missing too much information to tell Kuni what he saw. Are Sid and Geno a couple? Friends with benefits? A one-night stand? Patric doesn’t know. For all he knows, he could have witnessed their first kiss, though he doubts it.

 

He’d been half-asleep when he walked past them, but there had been a familiarity there, he thinks.

 

Whatever they are, it’s none of Patric’s business. None of their teammates’ either, he thinks firmly, and loudly starts talking about the superiority of European bacon.

 

*

Marc-André used to keep track of their relationship status. It's easy in the beginning—Sid and Geno have no talent for sneaking around—but as the years pass and Sid and Geno hook up, take breaks, see other people, see each other—well, it’s a lot to keep track of.

 

Nowadays, Marc-André is content to look for the signs that says they’re on, and navigate from there. It’s not really that difficult. Sid used to be hyper secretive about it, but also obvious, and Geno always follows Sidney’s lead, but these days, Sid is less rigid about it.

 

These days, Marc-André thinks, Sid and Geno do less hooking up and more cohabitating. Sid’s house hasn’t been used in weeks, he thinks.

 

They’re happy, he knows, and Marc-André is happy for them. He wants to say something, to tell them that everyone else would be happy for them too; they don’t need to hide, not from the team, not from them.

 

But Sid is skittish, like a deer sometimes, and the last time Marc-André had made some indication that he knew what they were doing, Sid and Geno went on a break that lasted nearly two years.

 

He doesn’t want to rock that boat again, which is why when Kuni finds him and says he thinks Horny knows, Marc-André calls up Duper, and together, the two of them pay Horny a little visit.

 

They leave with the assurance that Horny will keep his mouth shut.

 

*

 

Beau keeps walking in on them.

 

It’s objectively horrible.

 

He has the worst luck, and the very first day of training camp, Beau is just a rookie looking to make it; he’s not at all prepared for the sight that greets him when he opens the door to one of the equipment rooms.

 

Beau just wants to find some extra tape for his stick, okay? But he opens the door, and then very quietly closes it again, determined to forget that he has ever seen the sight of Sidney Crosby—Sidney Crosby!—bent over the workbench, being thoroughly fucked by Evgeni Malkin.    

 

Beau is a little high strung for the remainder of the camp, and he can’t look at Sid or Geno without blushing. This, more than anything, is Beau’s mistake, because Sid takes this to mean that Beau is too awestruck by them—which he is—and takes it upon himself to help Beau overcome his fanboy tendencies.

 

What follows is Sid dragging Beau (and Geno) around all of Pittsburgh in some kind of horribly twisted initiation rite. Beau is glad they like him enough to care, okay? And it’s obvious they do, but he learns very quickly that if there is no hockey to be played, Sid and Geno cannot go five minutes without slipping away to do something.

 

Beau was naive in the beginning. He has since learnt not to go looking for them—Never go looking for them! he tells Olli a year later, when Sid, with Geno by his side as usual, decides to show the rookies the virtues of Pittsburgh.

 

Beau figures he’s saved Olli years of therapy.

 

*

Sidney calls her one evening and spends an hour talking about nothing, really. He very deliberately does not mention Geno.

 

Trina holds back her questions. By now, she knows to leave it be, to let her son handle his own life. He will ask if he needs advice, and Trina will give it then, but she still worries.

 

Not even a single mention of Geno means they’re on another break. Sidney never said as much, but she thinks they have been going strong for a while now. Had. This time, she had thought, and Troy had told her not to get her hopes up. It is what he always says. They’re too immature, her husband will say when she brings it up. Still playing around. They should just settle down already.

 

Trina agrees. But Sidney has never once actually told them he’s dating Geno, though it has always been very obvious. Even Taylor asked, once, if Geno was going to be her new brother.

 

“Are you seeing someone?” she asks, and Sidney goes quiet.

 

“No,” he says, then, “it’s complicated.”

 

Trina holds back a sigh. “It doesn’t need to be. I think you make it more complicated than it really is. You do that sometimes,” she tells him fondly. “Just like your father.” She smiles, thinking of how alike her son and husband really are.

 

“What makes you think it’s my fault?” Sidney asks, and Trina has to stifle a chuckle at the sulking tone of his voice. It’s rather telling, she thinks.

 

“It wasn’t?”

 

Sidney’s silence gives her all the answer she needs, and really, her son cannot keep doing this. It’s been eight years. “You can’t keep doing this forever, baby. You’re running in circles. You know nothing will ever come from that.”

 

Sidney sucks in a startled breath. “Are you talking about... ?” He doesn’t finish his sentence, and Trina knows better than to fill in the blank herself. Her son is set in his ways, and for all his strength and fortitude, he spooks so very easily.

 

“I’m saying if you really love someone, that should be enough. There’s nothing complicated about that.”

 

“That’s not—”

 

“Sidney,” she says gently, interrupting him. “Do you love him?”  

 

He doesn’t answer, and Trina lets him change the subject, but later, as they say their goodbyes, she thinks she’s maybe given him the push he needs.

 

*

Jennifer receives a text from Geno, and while that isn’t entirely unusual, she is still a little surprised. She has no press or promotional-related thing for him to do; Geno tends to avoid her when he doesn’t have to do press. He says he doesn’t want to tempt her into forcing him into yet another photoshoot, as if she makes him do dozens of them every year.

 

She reads the text, and feels her surprise grow. Jen, it says. Want to come out to team, to city. Will be hard? Shouldn’t do?

 

Geno and Sid don't know, but when management became aware of their relationship, years ago, they made detailed plans for how they want to handle it if and whey they go public. Mario had been very determined that Sidney and Geno would be protected to the furthest extent of the Penguins organisation’s ability, and everyone agreed.

 

She grins, knowing that things are about to get very busy for her.

 

Taking a deep breath, Jennifer rolls her neck a little before typing back. Tell me what you want to do, and we will make it happen. We’ve got your back.

 

She gets a string of eyeless smileys in return.

 

*

 

Look, Sidney’s not an idiot, okay? He knows they know.

 

Here’s the thing though, things with Geno are just going so great right now, have been for a while. Sidney doesn’t want to jinx it, doesn’t want things to change.

 

So when he clued in to the fact that pretty much everyone else knows they are fucking, he makes sure to adopt a state of willful ignorance. So, they, Flower, Duper and the others, don’t know he knows they know and—it’s all a little messed up, to be honest.

 

But then Geno comes home one day, leans down to kiss him, and says, “Sid, have thought of goal for new year.”

 

Sidney blinks at him, a little annoyed at not getting a chance to deepen the kiss. “Okay?”

 

“Want marriage. Want babies.”

 

Sidney feels his stomach sink. “Are you—? Are you saying you want to break up again?” He wasn’t at all prepared for this. Things were going great between them, why would Geno do this now? And so close to New Year’s Eve. They were supposed to celebrate together and everything.

 

Geno rolls his eyes at him. “No, don’t want break up. No more breaks, Sid.” His voice is firm, and as he closes his hands around Sidney’s arms, shaking him a little, Sidney’s eyes grow wide. “No more breaks,” Geno repeats. He takes a deep breath, and then he says, carefully, “Sidney, will you marry me?”

 

“Are you proposing?” Sidney bursts out, because he’s so surprised. This came out of nowhere. “Is this a proposal?” He frowns a little. “Why is there no ring?” He feels there should be a ring. There should definitely be a ring, he thinks, petulant.

 

Geno releases a startled breath at that, laughing happily, and Sidney can see how nervous he’d been, how tightly wound.

 

“Will buy you ring,” Geno assures him. “Only have to say yes,” he teases, or at least Sidney thinks he is.

 

Because what if Geno thinks Sidney will say no? And that thought is just too horrible to contemplate, so Sidney says, “Yes, you have to buy me a ring.” He pauses. “That means I’ll marry you,” he says, just to clarify. He feels that point is rather important.

 

Geno laughs again, giddy, and lets his hands drop from Sidney’s arms to draw him into a tight embrace. “So happy, Sid. You make me so happy. Will spend rest of my life, make you as happy as me.”

 

Sidney sighs, nuzzling against Geno. “Okay,” he says, and thinks now Beau will finally get a chance to yell at them about all the time he’s walked in on them (that he thinks Sid and Geno doesn’t know about).

 

(They knew. They always knew.)