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one.

September 2013


“Having fun with new phone?"

Sid angled the iPhone so that Geno, in the window seat next to him, could see the screen.

Geno snorted out a laugh. “Again? Finally have phone that can take pictures, get emails, go on internet … and all you do is play Candy Crush all day.”

Sid wrinkled his nose, partly because he missed his old Razr and wished it hadn’t fallen apart, and partly because Geno was exaggerating. “It wasn’t all day. I did the interviews, didn’t I?”

“Yes, but you not talk to me,” Geno complained. “I have to talk to Jen. She keeps trying to bully me into more interviews this season. Russian reporters all want to ask about Sochi.” Looking a bit hunted, he glanced at the back of Jen’s head, three rows in front of them.

In fact, Jen had always gone out of her way to keep Geno’s media commitments as low as possible. For all their fighting, she had a soft spot fathoms deep where Geno was concerned.

But of course, if Geno had his way, he would never speak to another reporter again. Sid foresaw yet more arguments in their future.

“Good,” Sid said, just to be a dick. “You should do more interviews this season.”

“Rude.” Geno’s expression was a touch pouty as he shrugged out of his suit jacket and laid it across his knees.

He was wearing a powder blue suit today. It was new, and Sid had been admiring it since Geno came down to the lobby in it that morning. If Sid ever tried to wear something like that, he’d be laughed straight out of the locker room — possibly straight out of Pittsburgh. Geno made it work though.

Sid shifted in his seat, a wave of guilt cresting over him. He knew how much Geno hated Media Day, and he supposed he had been shit company. He didn’t think Geno was mad at him, but he could spend the short flight back to Pittsburgh making it up to him.

Luckily, Geno was pretty easy. All Sid had to do was hand over his peanut M&Ms and they were square.

Sid wanted to explain himself anyway. It wasn’t that he was cultivating a Candy Crush addiction. It was just — “I’m stuck,” he admitted.

“Want help?” Geno asked, intently picking out the blue M&Ms because he liked to eat them first.

“No,” Sid huffed. “I’ll get it eventually.”

“Big words from guy who pays for extra moves.”

Sid felt his face heat. “I do not.”

“Do.”

Sid pretended not to hear him.

“Wouldn't have to do if you get Facebook,” Geno went on. “I give you lives.” There was a smudge of chocolate on his lower lip, and he licked it away absently. Without asking, he reached for Sid’s Dasani bottle and took a long drink.

“I don't want Facebook,” said Sid, watching Geno’s throat work as he swallowed. “I just want to pass level 33.”

"Level ... 33?” Geno looked like he wanted to laugh.

“Yeah. Why?" Sid asked. "What level are you on?"

"215."

Sid blinked. "215! How many levels are there?"

"Not sure," Geno said thoughtfully. He re-capped the bottle and shoved it in the small space between their seats. “Give here.” He snagged the phone from Sid.

“G, no. I can do it myself.” Sid halfheartedly tried to reclaim the phone, fingers scrabbling at the back of Geno’s hand, which didn’t open.

“Shh,” Geno said, and passed Sid the packet of M&Ms. “Hold for me.” He turned his attention to the screen.

Sid hesitated. He didn’t want to relent. It would feel too much like cheating. But he’d been stuck on level 33 for four days, and it was frustrating him so much he had considered deleting the Candy Crush app altogether. He decided to subside, pulling his new copy of American Sniper out of his carry-on and settling in to read.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take him very long to realize that the book wasn’t great, and he couldn’t help the way his concentration kept slipping. It had been a long day, Jen’s early morning coaching on what questions to expect and evade followed by hours of putting that information on its feet, all while trying to look natural for the cameras. He didn’t intend to fall asleep, but he must have been more tired than he thought, because when he woke up, it was to the familiar smell of Geno’s cologne, which was confusing until he blinked his eyes open and realized he had his head pillowed on Geno’s shoulder.

Geno still had Candy Crush open. His shirtsleeves were rolled up to his elbows. Behind his lowered head, the window had gone dark.

Groggily, Sid sat up.

Geno looked at him briefly. “Good, you awake. Plane about to land.”

Sid frowned, last traces of sleep still clinging to him. “How long was I out?”

“Hour, maybe?”

“Sorry for falling asleep on you, G.”

Geno, who had Nealer fall asleep on him at least once a fortnight during the season, waved a hand as if to say no big deal. Unlike Nealer that one time, at least Sid hadn’t drooled on Geno’s shirt. And at least their seats were at the back of the cabin.

Still: “Do you think anyone took a picture?”

“Picture of what?”

“Of me sleeping on you.”

Geno looked up from Sid’s phone, brow furrowed. “Why would they?”

Sid had no idea why anyone would either. But people were strange. “Someone took a picture of me sleeping on the flight to the Team Canada orientation camp. Jen emailed me."

It wasn’t an embarrassing picture, but just the fact that someone had taken it was discomfiting and rude, and Sid could already tell he would be wary of falling asleep on non-chartered flights for a while.

Geno grinned and made a cooing sound, like the kind he made at the puppies on calendar photo shoot days. “Poor Sidney Crosby. Life so hard. People take pictures when he sleeps, people complain on news when he cuts DMV line.”

Sid laughed in spite of himself.

“Here.” Still grinning, Geno handed back the phone.

Sid looked down. Level 50. “Hey, thanks.”

“If you really grateful, you help get Jen off my back,” Geno tried, widening his eyes hopefully.

No way was Sid getting in the middle of that one. “Not a chance,” he said, putting his things away as the plane began to descend.




two.

September 2013


As always, Sid loved West Point. The team-building stuff was a lot of fun, the cadets were great to talk to, and Sid got to play around with a bunch of military gear he had only ever read about before.

The one drawback was that, in two nights, he got hardly a wink of sleep.

Sid wasn’t used to single beds. He kept tossing and turning, and feeling irrationally like he was going to roll right off the edge. The result of all that discomfort was a killer headache the morning they had to leave, and Duper, who had the misfortune of being his roommate again, just for this one trip, shooting a barrage of disgruntled looks at him as they packed.

Sid turned down Flower’s offer to play SOCOM, walking past him and Tanger towards the back of the bus. He planned on getting some much-needed rest on the drive home. He had just shoved a folded-up sweatshirt between his shoulder and the window when Geno, apparently forgoing his usual spot in the sixth row, slipped into the seat next to him.

Geno scrubbed the heel of his hand over his face, sighing heavily. His hair was wet and he smelled like the citrus-scented shampoo he preferred. There were dark smudges under his eyes.

“You too, huh?”

“Hmm?”

“You couldn’t sleep either?” Sid prompted.

Geno nodded, mouth pinched with irritation. “Bed too small.”

“Right?” Sid agreed fervently.

Geno snorted. “How too small for you? You so short.”

Sid rolled his eyes. “Ha ha.” He offered Geno a brand new set of earplugs, in case he wanted to sleep too.

Geno shook his head, holding up his phone. “Have to go through photos, delete bad ones Lazy take.”

Interested, Sid leaned across the armrest. “How many are there?”

“Couple hundred. Want to see?”

Sid nodded, and Geno turned his phone on its side and started flicking through his Camera Roll, deleting blurry, dark and unfocused shots here and there. The pictures from the day of the mountain challenge — the day Geno and Nealer were paired together — were comprised almost entirely of unfocused shots.

“Should never give him phone,” Geno grumbled. “Makes me carry dumb heavy rock whole way up mountain so he can take pictures of — what is this?”

It was something brown and dead-looking, taken up close.

Sid squinted. “I think it’s a leaf.”

Geno made an aggrieved noise, deleted, and flicked on to the next picture.

“Wait,” Sid said, before Geno could keep going.

It was the picture of the two of them that Geno asked Jen to take before the touch football game. This was the first Sid was seeing of it.

“Too late to delete,” Geno told him, misinterpreting his interest. “I’m already put on Instagram. Tell you yesterday, you say okay.”

“I don’t want you to delete it,” Sid said. And he didn’t. It was a nice picture, soft with yellowy light, him and Geno in the center, the team in the background. It was actually — he liked it a lot. “Can you send it to me? I can save it to my phone, right?”

Geno looked surprised, but he nodded. “I’m send.” He reached into his duffel and pulled out of a pair of the gigantic headphones he loved buying in all colors. These ones were red and white. “Listening to music now. You want? I bring spare.”

Sid shook his head. “Think I’m just gonna sleep.”

Geno nodded easily, plugged the headphones in, and tipped his head back, eyes closed. Just like in warmups, he had the volume turned way, way up. It was so loud that Sid could tell it was Avicii. He picked up Geno’s phone from where it was resting on his knee and dragged the volume slider bar to the left.

Geno tugged the headphones down and looked at Sid in askance. “Disturbing you?”

It had been, but that wasn’t the point. “You’re going to fuck up your ears,” Sid told him.

“Not that bad,” Geno huffed, but when he shoved the headphones over his ears again, he didn’t turn the sound back up.

Satisfied, Sid put his earplugs in and turned his head into his makeshift sweatshirt-pillow. The window was vibrating against his head, gentle enough to be pleasant. Between that, the low hum of the engine, and the fainter sound of Geno’s music, Sid drifted off in minutes.

“Wake up, sleeping beauties. We’re home!” It was Duper’s voice, booming and amused.

Sid groaned, wondering at the weight on his chest. He slitted his eyes open and realized as he did that Geno had fallen asleep on him this time. He probably started his nap on Sid’s shoulder, but at some point in the hours following, he had slumped sideways, so that his head was now nestled under Sid’s collarbones, his hair silky and soft against Sid’s cheek. Sid had unconsciously looped an arm around his back, keeping him in place, keeping him from tipping all the way into Sid’s lap.

“Hey, G,” Sid said, shaking him softly. “Wake up.”

The front of the bus was clearing out, and everyone else was collecting their bags, chatting to each other in low voices. Geno made a soft sound. He turned away from the noise and light, and into Sid’s chest. The feel of his nose nuzzling into Sid’s breastbone tickled enough that Sid jumped.

“Geno, come on. We’re here,” he tried again, more firmly this time.

Geno startled awake, sleepily mumbling, “Sorry, fuck, sorry,” as they untangled themselves from each other. An errant arm yanked his headphone cord from its jack and Lana Del Rey blared from his phone’s speakers.

“Really?” Sid said.

“Shut up,” said Geno, looking entirely too tired to deal with any chirping. His hair was sticking up every which way and he blinked owlishly in the crisp evening air when they stepped off the bus, into the Consol reserved parking section.

“You need a lift?” Sid asked, because Geno really did look out of it. Sid wasn’t so sure he should be driving.

Geno shook his head, shouldering his bag. “Be okay, Sid.” He turned his coat collar up against the wind. Still looking half-asleep, he smiled. “But thanks.”

Sid nodded and walked to his car.

He was just turning into his newly-finished driveway when his phone buzzed with a message.

It was Geno, with the picture he promised.

Sid opened it, letting it fill his screen, and was struck again by how much he liked it. Smiling, and without even killing the engine first, Sid tapped out a thank you.




three.

November 2013


Geno broke his scoring drought on the road, off a surprise pass from Nealer. They went out as a team after the game, relaxed from the win and from being mid-road trip. The guys heckled Geno into buying the first two rounds, which he did with good grace, too happy-relieved to complain.

He was the first to get up though.

“Tired,” he explained, when Duper threw a napkin at him in protest.

He leaned down to press a sloppy kiss to the side of Nealer’s head.

Sid, sitting on Nealer’s other side, was probably the only one who heard Geno’s quiet, “Thanks, Lazy.”

Nealer made a big show of pushing Geno away, but when he said, “Yeah, yeah, you’re welcome, asshole,” he looked pleased.

“I’ll head out with you, G,” Sid offered, standing too.

“That was nice of Nealer, to give you the puck like that,” he said as they left the bar and set off on the short walk back to the hotel.

Nealer wasn’t usually one to pass up sure-fire chances. Then again, the team had known how much Geno needed a goal, how blown his confidence was from over a month of putting up assists like a machine without finding the back of the net himself.

“Was nice,” Geno agreed. “Should get him something for Christmas. Another ugly belt, maybe. He like.”

They detoured into a 7-Eleven because Geno insisted he was hungry, even though they had pizza in the locker room after the game. When they stepped out, Geno had a bottle of water and four glazed donuts in hand.

As he let them into his room, he said, “Kind of miss having road roommate."

Sid raised his eyebrows. “But Brooksie wouldn’t have let you eat donuts in bed.”

They were sprawled out on their stomachs on the bed closer to the window, which was big enough that there was a comfortable two feet of space between them. It reminded Sid of Geno’s first year, when neither of them could technically drink in the States and would sometimes just stay in with Jordy, playing cards or watching movies while the others went out. Sometimes Flower would be there too, if he didn’t feel like drinking.

“Brooksie let,” Geno disagreed. “But sit over there and look at me like this.” He gestured to the free bed and affected a grim, dead-eyed expression.

The effect was ruined by the shard of icing sticking to the corner of his mouth.

Sid laughed. He felt like he was floating on the four beers he had earlier, the ones Geno kept pressing into his hands, and on the ebullient little-kid grin on Geno’s face. A month’s worth of snake-bitten tension had been leached from his features. He looked happy.

He should always look this happy, Sid thought muzzily.

Geno tossed the remote his way. “Pick something.”

Sid took his eyes away from Geno’s sticky-shiny mouth and flicked through the channels, rapid-fast the way he always did. Both Colby and Duper used to complain about it, but Geno never seemed to mind.

Which was why it was odd when he said, “Wait, stop. Go back.”

“What is it?” asked Sid, returning to footage of two tiny children in cotton-candy pink tutu dresses.

“Sophia-Grace and Rosie,” Geno said happily.

Sid blinked at him.

“What?” Geno smiled. “They cute. I watch with Victoria last week.” Last week, when they played the Sens.

Sid groaned. “I thought I was done with Ellen when Army left.”

Sid was only half-watching, but he checked back in when Geno licked the last of the icing from his fingers and extended his hand. “I get remote now.”

“How does that work?”

“You have it first,” Geno pointed out.

“Yeah, but you decided what we watched.”

Stubbornly, Geno kept his hand stuck out, and even though it was fundamentally unfair, Sid gave in with a sigh. He regretted it immediately, because the first thing he saw on whatever channel Geno landed on was Don Cherry’s face.

“Change it,” he said.

Geno did, cutting him a curious glance. “Still hate him?”

“Not for me, for you.”

Geno looked confused.

“Didn’t Jen tell you? He said some stuff about you over the summer.”

“Really? What?” Geno didn’t look particularly bothered by it.

Sid hesitated. It was nothing Geno wouldn’t have heard before, but if he hadn’t heard it this time, then Sid didn’t want to tell him. “Not important.”

Geno looked pointedly down at Sid’s hands, which had clenched into fists on the bedspread. “Seem important.”

“It wasn’t,” Sid said firmly.

“You angry for me?” Geno asked, tongue poking out a little.

“Well, it was stupid, what he said.”

Geno looked amused. “Maybe we tell your dad, he can write mean letters to CBC again.”

He laughed when Sid wrestled the remote away from him, and then groaned when Sid found an early episode of Friends. It maybe wasn’t the first time Sid had made him watch it.

“You can pick the next thing, promise.”

Geno grumbled under his breath but subsided, propping his chin in his hand to watch. Sid quoted a few lines — perfectly delivered and in time — to make him laugh, but mostly they watched in silence.

“I don’t like Monica,” said Sid, mid-way through the episode.

Geno looked confused. “But Monica best one.”

“Um, no. Chandler and Phoebe are the best ones. Monica’s all — hung up on Richard all the time.” Sid had this weird thing where he felt personally offended on Chandler’s behalf every time Richard was so much as mentioned.

“I like Richard,” Geno protested.

Sid huffed. Everyone liked Richard. He had no idea why. “Well, she’s annoying in other ways too.”

“Like how?”

Sid was relishing the opportunity to elaborate on his Friends-related thoughts. Colby had never listened to them. “Like, her voice really is too loud. And she gets so obsessive about everything.”

Geno looked at him with disbelief. “Remember my first month, when you make me stay late, practice with you for two hours after everyone else go home?”

“I didn’t make you. I asked Gonch to ask you if you wanted to stay. You said yes!”

“Say yes to thirty minutes, maybe. Not expect two hours.” He laughed, almost to himself. “Not expect Sidney Crosby hold me hostage because I’m not know English yet.”

Sid scowled. “I was not holding you hostage. I bought you dinner and drove you back to Gonch’s afterwards.” But Geno clearly wasn’t buying it, and Sid gave up. “Anyway. Monica. She’s the worst one.”

“You crazy,” Geno told him. “Worst one is obviously Ross.”

Sid hummed. “I don’t know. I kind of like Ross.”

“Wrong,” said Geno. “All your opinions so wrong.”

It was some kind of late-night re-run marathon, and when Geno didn’t make noises about changing channels, they watched another episode, and then another after that.

The next thing Sid knew, there was light pouring into the room, and he was still lying, sans-pillows, with his head at the foot of Geno’s hotel bed. Geno had rolled into Sid’s side during the night, limbs akimbo so that Sid found himself right on the edge of the mattress. He wasn’t worried about falling off though, because Geno had an arm tucked around Sid, clutching him to his chest.

It was easy for Sid to feel overheated when he was sleeping. It was why he could only have a maximum of two blankets on him even in the dead of winter, why he couldn't wear socks to bed, and why it was pretty much impossible for him to fall asleep if someone else was touching him extensively. Except Geno was more or less spooning him, breathing warm and even into the back of Sid’s neck, and Sid didn’t feel weighed down or sweaty.

He felt comfortably warm instead, and he was, in fact, sporting morning wood that didn’t seem to be going away. Not even the imminent possibility of Geno waking up was discouraging it.

Sid attributed the problem to how long it had been since he last hooked up. He had a girlfriend last season, but that ended in spring, before he broke his jaw. There were a few girls after that, early in the summer, but nothing since then. He'd just been so busy getting the new house ready and starting off the season right.

He should really get around to doing something about that, he thought as he carefully extricated himself from Geno’s octopus arms and headed to the bathroom, if he was so hard up that his body was responding to some casual, friendly touching like this.

He used the unopened toothbrush in Geno’s toiletry kit, and when he came back out, feeling less like something had died in his mouth, Geno was sitting up, knuckling at his eyes.

“Hey,” Sid said, staring at the pale slope of Geno’s collarbone where it disappeared into last night’s rumpled shirt.

“Morning,” Geno said around a yawn.

“That was a terrible sleep,” Sid told him. They hadn’t used blankets or pillows, the mattress was firmer than Sid liked, and he still had his going out clothes on.

“Next time we do on real bed,” Geno agreed.

Sid startled, but Geno didn’t seem to think there was anything strange about what he’d said. He sat in the square of warm sunlight on the bed, making him look even paler than usual, and blinked grumpily at the window like he dearly wished to draw the curtains but was too lazy to get up and do it.

So Sid let it go. If Geno didn’t think their napping thing was weird, why should Sid be the one to make it weird?

“Team breakfast in ten. No time to shower.”

Geno shrugged. “Can wait until after.” He stretched his arms up over his head, shirt lifting to reveal the sharp jut of his hipbones, the flat of his stomach.

Sid looked away. “I, uh, borrowed your spare toothbrush. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Of course not mind. Don’t be dumb.”

He brushed past Sid on his way to the bathroom, a gentle hand on Sid’s hip. As his fingertips dragged along the sliver of bare skin just above the waistband of Sid’s jeans, something sparked bright and hot in Sid’s stomach.

Sid swallowed. His dry spell situation definitely needed fixing. And soon.




four.

December 2013


Fucking Detroit.

Geno loved Joe Louis Arena, but Sid had always hated it, never mind that his best memory was housed inside it. Bad things had happened for him in this building too.

The game was going well to start. Geno put up his 600th career point, which also tied him with Sid for 50 points on the season, putting them both in first place in scoring, significantly ahead of the next guy. In the intermission, Geno happily gave Potash an interview, and promised to take everyone out to celebrate.

Then, during the second, trying to stop the Red Wings from scoring 4-on-4, Geno went careening into the boards and curled up on the ice. There was something wrong with his left leg. He tried to skate off on his own but couldn’t manage it. Kuni and Juice had to help him off.

The Pens pulled out with the win, and Geno was well enough to gingerly walk around the locker room after the game, but the team doctors thought he would be on IR for at least a few weeks.

On the flight home, Sid kept craning his neck around the side of his seat to check on Geno, who was sitting in the back with Nealer.

“Can I help you?” Flower demanded after the third time Sid accidentally jostled him with an elbow.

“Sorry,” said Sid. He stopped looking back, but when they landed, he put a hand to Geno’s elbow. “I’ll drive you home.”

Geno’s face was drawn, the edges of his mouth tight. “Lazy already say —“

“My house is closer to yours.”

After a moment, Geno nodded and told Nealer not to worry about the ride.

Sid took Geno’s bag in hand as well as his own. “We’ll have someone come get your car tomorrow,” he said, as they walked past Geno’s Range Rover, which was the car he used for airport parking.

Geno’s house was, in fact, on the way to Sid’s. Sid was planning to get out, find him some ice and Tylenol, and help him upstairs if he needed it. He did slow down as they came up on Geno’s house, but at the last second, he changed his mind and kept driving.

Geno turned to him, confused.

Sid shrugged. It sucked being alone when you were injured. “Stay at mine tonight.”

They had dinner on the plane, but when Geno came back from the bathroom, changed into the sweats and t-shirt he had in his travel bag, he confirmed that he was hungry too. Sid heated up some leftovers and brought them out to the living room, where Geno had his leg propped up on the sofa, and was icing it with a cold pack.

It reminded Sid forcibly of when they were both injured, immediately after Geno’s surgery, when he couldn’t walk without crutches. As with most things from that time, Sid found he didn’t like the reminder.

“Thanks,” Geno said, taking his bowl.

Sid dropped down next to him and switched on the television.

“Australian Open on now, yes?”

“Yeah,” said Sid.

He hadn’t planned on suggesting tennis, because while Sid loved following it and had watched a lot of it at Geno’s house when they were out of the lineup together, he distinctly remembered that it wasn’t Geno’s favorite unless it was live. He'd never been so agreeable about watching it a year and a half ago. He would grow restless during longer matches, grumble about having to endure them, and then make Sid watch lots of Animal Planet in recompense.

Except when —

“Really?” Sid said, when he saw who was playing.

“What?” Geno asked innocently, a forkful of pasta halfway to his mouth.

“We’re only watching this because you’ve got a crush on Ana Ivanovic,” Sid accused.

“Don’t have crush,” Geno scoffed.

“Liar,” Sid said, shaking his head. He started in on his own supper. “I’ve seen her play, you know?”

“Really?”

Sid nodded. “Yep. Rogers Cup, couple years back.”

“From summer you train in Montreal?”

“Yeah.”

“Should have got autograph for me,” Geno said. “Instead of taking hundred pictures with boring Swiss guy.”

Sid thought that was fundamentally unfair, because — “Federer’s great.” The day Sid had met him, he had emailed the whole team about it, with about twenty pictures attached. He firmly believed they were awesome pictures.

Except evidently Geno disagreed, because he scoffed again. “Not great as that.” He gestured to the screen, to where Ivanovic was reaching up to serve, all long, brown limbs.

Sid hummed. “She's not your usual type,” he observed.

“No?”

“Well, she's not exactly small. And she's not blonde either.”

Geno cocked his head. “Why you think small and blonde my type?”

“Because small and blonde is your type.” Geno's preference for blondes was actually on the record, but even if it hadn’t been, it would be more than a little obvious from the girls he took home.

Geno shrugged. “Not always,” he said mildly, popping the last piece of pasta in his mouth. He moved to stand, like he thought Sid was going to make him do the washing up or something.

Sid took the bowl away from him. He set their dishes on the table and settled back into the sofa to keep watching.

This time, Geno was the first to fall asleep. He started listing in the second set, further and further until his head hit the sofa, and then it was resting next to Sid’s hip. Sid considered waking him, but there were no bedrooms on his first floor, and stairs weren’t going to be fun right now. He got up and found a blanket instead, carefully tucking it in around Geno’s shoulders before sitting back down to see out the third.

He woke up feeling like death. There was a throw pillow wedged under his head that hadn't been there when he drifted off, but his neck was still sore from sleeping sitting up, he'd drooled a little bit, and Geno was nowhere to be seen.

Rolling his shoulders to ease the stiffness, he followed the sounds coming from his kitchen.

“How are you feeling?”

Geno looked around. “Sore,” he said with a shrug. “But had worse.”

Sid nodded. At least there were no crutches this time. “Ivanovic won, by the way.”

Geno smiled as he continued to fuss with Sid’s kettle.  “You watch whole match?”

Sid nodded. “Fell asleep after.” He had figured it might not be the best idea to go upstairs, in case Geno needed anything. But his neck was protesting that decision now. He slumped over his breakfast bar. “Make me some too? No —“

“Sugar, I know,” Geno said. He took the stool next to Sid while he waited for the water, nudging him gently. “You not decorate much since September.”

He had been by a few times during training camp, once by himself and twice with some of the other guys, when Sid was having the house professionally decorated. Sid hadn’t added anything since then.

“Just haven’t had much time.” Sid looked down at the counter.

Geno nudged him again. “Stop making sad face.”

“I’m not,” Sid said automatically.

Geno gave him an unimpressed look. “Old house just thirty second walk away. Bet kids come over to visit you lots.”

“They do,” Sid said. Austin and Alexa had spent the afternoon in his basement rink the day before last. “And I’m still welcome for dinner and stuff.”

“See, not so bad. And if get bored or want company, then text, I come over.”

Sid was pretty much always up for Geno’s company. “I’m going to take you up on that,” he warned.

“Good,” Geno nodded. “Want you to.” He got up to finish making their tea.

“You wanna stay now?” Sid asked him.

“For how long?”

Sid bit his lip. There was morning skate tomorrow, but the rest of today was free. “I could drive you home after dinner?”

“Sound good.”

They didn’t do much after breakfast, Sid valiantly trying to get through American Sniper again and Geno lying on the other end of the sofa, back propped up on all the throw pillows Sid owned, one arm stretched up above his head, to watch something on the Food Network.

A little after noon, Geno straightened his good leg, stretching so his bare foot was brushing Sid’s sweatpants. “Hey.” He nudged Sid’s thigh with his toes.

Sid was mostly still absorbed in his book and didn’t look up. “Mm?”

“Hungry.”

“Okay,” Sid responded absently, flipping a page.

“Sid,” Geno wheedled, pressing in with the ball of his foot.

“Give me a minute, I’m just in the middle of this pa —“

Geno huffed and, apparently fed up with waiting, kicked out lightly.

Sid grabbed him around the ankle. “Stop it.”

“Hungry now,” Geno grumbled. “Would do myself if leg not hurt so bad.”

Sid squeezed his ankle in rebuke, fingertips digging into the knob of bone there. “Liar,” he said, trying to keep the smile out of his voice.

Geno was always a little shit about cooking; he weaselled out of helping whenever possible and preferred other people to do all the work for him. This mostly applied to his mother when she was in Pittsburgh, but also to Gonch in the summer, who complained about it a lot in his group emails, and to Sid, who sometimes found himself invited to lunch at Geno’s only for Geno to sit there and look at him expectantly.

Sid didn’t know anyone else who bullied their guests into doing the cooking, but that was just Geno. It was a happy coincidence that Sid, who had become quite adept at fending for himself during the concussion, never minded.

“Fine, lunch now,” Sid said, dog-earing the page he was on and standing up. “What do you feel like?”

Geno hummed like he was seriously mulling over his answer. “Sandwiches,” he decided at last.

Sid was reasonably sure he had the fixings for something both of them would like. “I can do that.”

Geno pulled himself to his feet too.

“No, sit. I’ll bring it to you.”

Geno gave him a disparaging look. “Shut up,” he said over his shoulder, limping towards the kitchen. “I’m keep you company, at least.”

They disagreed about fillings, Geno making faces at the idea of egg salad and Sid not in the mood for turkey. They compromised on chicken, which Sid topped with provolone, tomatoes and avocado.

“Gears of War?” Geno said hopefully as they took their plates back into the living room.

Sid nodded and set up the X-box. They ate while they played, which was maybe disgusting, especially when Sid was concentrating too hard on completing the mission and accidentally slopped mayo down his shirt. But, he figured, it was just Geno with him. He’d seen worse from Sid.

Hours later, long after the food was finished, they were still playing.

“Switch to Versus?” Geno asked.

Sid raised his eyebrows. “You sure?” There was a reason they always picked Campaign mode, where they would be on the same team.

Geno nodded gamely.

But sure enough, after the third straight time Sid beat him, his mood began to sour, expression slipping into stormy sullenness. 

“We can stop if you like.” Sid tried and failed to muffle his laughter at the offended look on Geno’s face.

“No,” Geno said stubbornly. “You only keep winning because you have top screen. We swap.” He reached over as if to snatch Sid’s controller.

Sid turned away, shielding the controller with his body. “G,” he complained. “Stop it. There’s no difference.”

“So then give me top screen.”

“No.” Sid cracked a smile. “It’s better.”

He wasn’t expecting the pillow Geno shoved in his face. He tried to get away, laughing, as Geno attempted to smother him with it, and when that didn’t work, he dropped the controller to the floor and tried to wrestle the pillow out of Geno’s grasp. Geno had reach on him, but he had his legs stretched out again, limiting his movement, and anyway, Sid had the weight advantage.

It was easy to send them tumbling, Geno flat on his back, Sid’s hands flying out to sink into the sofa on either side of Geno’s head. It should have steadied him, but at that exact moment, Geno twisted his shoulder and inadvertently knocked Sid’s arms out from under him. It left him sprawled gracelessly across Geno’s chest, pinning Geno to the sofa with his hips and shoulders.

Beneath him, Geno froze. His laughter cut off as abruptly as if someone had hit a mute button.

Sid froze too, and scrambled to sit up. “Shit, did I hurt you?” He flung the pillow out of the way, needing to see what was wrong. If he set back Geno’s return because of a stupid tussle —

Geno blinked up at him with wide eyes and exertion-pinked cheeks.

“G? You okay?”

“Yes,” said Geno, though he sounded a bit winded.

Sid wondered if he had accidentally elbowed or kneed him in a soft place. “You sure?” he checked.

There was a faint pinch between Geno’s brows, like the one he got when he was putting shot after shot on goal but all of them refused to go in. “Yes,” he said again. He squirmed slightly. 

“Oh, sorry,” Sid said, and got off him.

Geno sat up.

Sid picked up his controller and held it out. “Here. But I’m taking it back if you keep losing,” he warned.

Geno’s face cleared, the troubled look disappearing. Smiling beatifically, he took the controller from Sid.

They had to pause for dinner, after which Geno said, “Drive me home?”

“Oh,” said Sid. “Yeah, sure.” He looked down at his mayo-stained shirt and faded old sweats. “Just give me a sec to get dressed.”

Geno rolled his eyes. “My house five minutes away, Sid. Is nighttime. Who you think pull you over?”

Sid ignored him and went upstairs to change. He’d had plenty of bad experiences where he’d ducked out for a quick errand in his home clothes, not thinking it would matter, only for a fan to stop him and ask for a picture. Driving was not a guaranteed deterrent either. Once he was stopped at a red light.

When he came back down, in jeans and a slightly cleaner t-shirt, Geno was quitting out of the game.

Sid took stock of the house — the dirty dishes in the sink, the jumbled pillows and twisted-up blanket on the sofa. When he was small, his mom used to complain when he and Taylor messed up the house like that, but Sid found he didn’t mind it at all. It made his house look lived in — brighter, somehow.

All rooms looked brighter, with Geno in them.

“Ready to go?” Sid asked him.

Geno nodded, slipped on his shoes with the slightest wince, and crowed when he beat Sid to the car, no matter how many times Sid insisted that it shouldn’t count when Geno didn’t even wait for him to finish locking up first.




five.

February 2014


“Hi,” said Sid, hands shoved deep inside his pockets.

“Hi.” Geno looked unsurprised to see him.

He stood aside to let Sid in.

There were only two beds, unlike the dorms in Canada House, which had three beds to a room. Home team advantage, Sid supposed.

Hooked to the television centering one wall was Ovechkin’s ubiquitous PlayStation and sitting in front of it was Ovechkin himself. He didn’t look up as Sid walked in and sat on the bed closer to the window — the one he knew Geno would have taken.

On nights they lost badly in Pittsburgh, Geno never wanted company. He didn't get as violently upset as Flower, but he would leave the rink as fast as possible without saying a word to anyone or even warming down properly. Clear back-off signals.

Russia failing to medal, and in Sochi too, with all that pressure on them, was so much worse than losing a regular-season game at home. Sid knew that, and yet he couldn’t help but hope Geno wouldn't push him away now.

It didn’t surprise him that Geno wouldn’t look at him, instead taking a seat on the floor like Ovechkin, reclaiming the second PlayStation controller, and resuming Call of Duty.

It did surprise him when Geno said, “You watch game?” His voice sounded rough.

There was absolutely no Team Russia gear on him. He was in threadbare jeans and a thin, ribbed henley. From the bed, Sid could see that the tag was sticking out the back of his shirt.

He fought the urge to reach over and tuck it in.

“Most of it,” Sid replied. He had to leave mid-way through the second period to get ready for his own game.

“What you think?” Geno asked.

There was a lot that Geno’s team could have done differently. But with respect to Geno, specifically: “I think … your coach should have changed up the powerplay.” Putting Geno on the second unit was such a waste of his ability. Sid remembered thinking that in the stands, watching the Russia-USA game.

“I ask him. Three times.”

“And I think —” Sid hesitated. “He should have at least tried Kulemin on your wing.” Sid remembered from the lockout, when he would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to watch them play for Metallurg, how good Geno and Kulemin eventually were together.

“I ask him that too.” There was no inflection in Geno’s voice. Onscreen, he kept shooting at stuff like it was therapy.

Sid winced. “Why didn’t he?”

“Because he is —“ Geno used several Russian words that Sid actually understood, but only because the only Russian words he knew weren't very polite.

Ovechkin barked out a laugh.

“Where’s everyone else?” The floor had been virtually deserted when Sid was walking through it, frantically trying to remember Geno’s room number.

“Out.”

“You didn’t want to go?”

Geno lifted one shoulder in a halfhearted shrug.

Ovechkin threw down his controller and stood up. "Fuck this. I'm gonna go find my girlfriend."

Geno muttered something in Russian.

"God no, my mother can wait," Ovechkin said. He looked a little queasy.

Geno said something else. It sounded chastising.

"Of course she looked upset. She probably wants to kill me."

"Nyet, no," Geno insisted. “Seem important."

Ovechkin groaned. “Fine, I'll go talk to her. But if she does hurt me, my blood will be on your hands, just remember that."

Geno snorted.

“I’ll see you,” Ovechkin said, squeezing Geno’s shoulder. “Crosby, I’d wish you good luck, but I want you to lose, so.” With a curt nod, he headed for the door.

“Sasha?” Geno said.

Ovechkin turned around.

Eto byla ne tvoya vina. Ne pozvolyaj nikomu govorit' tebe, chto eto byla tvoya vina.

Ovechkin shook his head, but he looked fond as the door swung shut behind him.

The room fell into silence. As the seconds dragged on and Geno made no attempt to break it, Sid began to feel unsure and unwelcome all over again.

He had the words ready. I can go, if you want to be alone.

Before he had to use them, Geno unfolded himself and rose from the floor. It should’ve looked awkward with his long, angular limbs, but he managed to make the movement look graceful in that odd way he had. Without a word, he climbed onto the bed, to where Sid was leaning against the headboard, and just sort of … settled on top of him, face tucked under Sid’s chin.

Sid froze. He floundered for a long moment, not knowing what to do.

It wasn’t that he had never comforted people before. Taylor said he gave pretty great hugs. And he had come here, after all, as soon as he could manage after his own game, to check on Geno. He had just never done this before, had someone using him like a body pillow, had Geno breathing hot and a little too fast into his shirtfront. He had no frame of reference for this. And what was more, over the last few months, it felt like his friendship with Geno had changed completely. He had no idea what was okay anymore and what wasn't.

In the end, he went by instinct, by what he wanted to do, and that was to sling one arm tight around Geno's waist so they were slotted more comfortably together, and to bring the other one up so he could run his fingers through the short, slightly curling hair at the nape of Geno's neck.

Geno relaxed into his hold.

Sid tucked Geno’s tag back into his shirt.

He didn't know how much time passed before Geno fell asleep, a warm, heavy weight against his chest. He knew he should get back to his own dorm before people started asking questions, but he kept telling himself: five more minutes. He didn’t want to leave while Geno was still asleep.

He kept stroking Geno’s hair in the meantime. It didn’t smell like his citrusy shampoo. It smelled more like the packeted soap bars they had in all the showers here. It smelled all wrong, and Sid didn’t like it.

Sid’s back was just starting to ache from being propped up against the headboard for so long when Geno jerked awake and lifted his head.

“Hey.”

Geno blinked sleepily. “Hey.” His voice was still rough. “Still here?”

He sounded confused, but Sid didn’t think he was imagining the barest edge of warmth in his voice.

“Yep.”

There were faint lines on Geno's forehead, the ones he got when they were way down in the third and everyone knew there was no coming back. Sid wanted to smooth them out until they went away.

So he did. He ran the pads of his fingers over them until they looked less severe.

Geno kept blinking at him.

"Have you talked to your parents yet?"

Geno nodded. “They disappointed, but. Going to stay until closing ceremony.”

“And you’re not?” Sid looked around the room again and realized belatedly that Geno’s side had been emptied. His suitcase was zipped and standing up by the foot of the bed.

Geno looked away. “No.”

Sid squeezed his arms around Geno’s midsection. “You’ve been telling everyone to come visit you in Russia for years, and now I’m finally here, you’re leaving?”

“Just Moscow. People care less there.” He made a face. “I hope.”

“Oh.”

Geno frowned. “You think is bad idea?”

Sid wanted him to stay, wanted him to not go somewhere Sid couldn't see him. But he also wanted Geno to stop looking like that, so: “Not if that's what you need to do," he said.

Geno smiled, small but grateful, and put his face back in Sid’s neck. “How you get here?” he asked after a moment.

“One of the figure skaters, I think, opened the door for me.” She let him into Russia House as she was leaving it, not caring that his laminated ID badge said Canada and not Russia.

“Hey,” he said, because he didn’t get a chance to say it before Geno fell asleep. “You played well.”

Geno snorted. “How you know?” he asked. “Not even watch whole game.”

Sid tried not to shiver at the feeling of Geno’s mouth moving across his skin. “I kind of caught the third in the locker room.” He paused. He wondered if — “You fell down pretty easy at the end there,” he said carefully. “And to think people are always all over me for diving.”

He felt Geno chest shake with silent laughter. “Don’t make me laugh. Not nice when I’m want to be sad." He poked lazily at Sid's side.

Sid smiled stupidly up at the ceiling. "Oh sorry, I’ll let you get back to it, then."

Geno pulled back again. “How your game go?"

Sid stared. He didn't see why Geno would care, even if his face was nothing but sincerely interested.

"Sorry," Geno shrugged. "Too angry to watch," he explained, like that was why Sid was taken aback.

"Won, 2-1," Sid got out.

Geno's eyebrows went up. “2-1 only? Against Latvia?”

Sid wrinkled his nose. "Their goalie was really good. He made like 60 saves."

Geno made an interested noise, as if to say continue.

"I didn't put up any points though."

This wasn't about him. He didn't want to make it about him. But some anxiousness must have bled into his tone, because Geno pulled him in closer still. "Stupid," he said simply, just like he had when they grabbed lunch together two days ago and Sid mentioned every reporter bringing up his lack of production. “Still best."

Sid swallowed hard. "You too," he said roughly.

Geno went still.

Sid squeezed him even tighter. “You too, okay?”

Geno sighed and didn’t respond.

“It’s okay,” Sid decided. “I’ll tell you again later.”

“Oh,” he remembered. “Are you hungry? I brought some food for you. It’s in my sweater pocket.”

Geno’s eyebrows flew up again, and he reached down to the foot of the bed, where Sid had left his fleece earlier. He settled on top of Sid again as he stuck his hand into the pocket, digging out three packets of Haribo gummy bears and a slightly squashed fruit danish wrapped in a napkin.

He stared at them for a long moment.

“It was the best stuff I could find at the arena concession stand,” Sid said, apologetic.

A tiny smile curved Geno’s mouth. Shaking his head, he put the food on the nightstand.

“You should go back,” he said on another sigh. “What you say before? Spending time with new teammates important.”

Sid hummed. “Yeah, they are important.” But Sid was only going to care about this particular group of guys for another ten days, total. He had played with Geno for nearly ten years. He hoped to play with him for ten more. It was just different. “I’m good here though,” he finished. 

“Sid, no —” Geno pushed up onto his elbows, trying to move up and off.

Sid didn’t let him. He grabbed Geno by the shoulders and flipped them so that Geno landed flat on his back, and then he stretched out on top of Geno like he could just — he didn’t know, block out all the bullshit with his body.

Geno stared up at him, eyes huge and dark just like that time on Sid’s sofa.

“Go back to sleep,” Sid told him firmly.

“But —”

“Just sleep, Geno.”

Geno huffed but finally went still under Sid. “Flight,” he said, voice muffled by the cotton of Sid's shirt. “Have to set alarm —”

Sid reached for his phone. “I got it. What time?”

“Seven,” Geno said decisively.

“Done,” Sid told him, and pulled the blankets up over them both.

He came to at the feeling of Geno trying to squirm out from under him.

“Shit, sorry,” said Sid, rolling off him. “Was I crushing you?”

“No, you fine.” Geno had his phone in hand. “But something wrong. Sasha want me to pack his bags, bring them to him.”

“Where?”

“His parents’ hotel.”

Sid sat up, alert. “Okay, I'll come with you —”

“No, no, go back to sleep. Be back in one hour, max.”

“But —”

“Sleep, Sid.”

He leaned down to press a kiss to Sid's cheek. It was probably an etiquette mix-up, a product of Geno being in Russia, surrounded by his Russian teammates instead of his Pittsburgh ones. He missed though, accidentally catching the corner of Sid's mouth. After that, there was basically no way Sid was getting back to sleep.

So he ignored Geno's protests and got up to unplug the PlayStation, winding up the cables. “At least let me do this.”

Geno had Ovechkin’s things rounded up in five minutes. Then he reached for his own phone and keys.

“Jacket,” Sid reminded him.

“It’s Sochi. More cold in Pittsburgh right now. Be fine.”

Sid shook his head. Sochi, on the whole, definitely wasn't as cold as he had expected it to be, but — Sid checked his phone — “It’s 1 in the morning, Geno.” He thought Geno might’ve already packed all his Team Russia gear though. “Here, take this.” He grabbed his Team Canada fleece, lying next to the bed where they discarded it earlier, and passed it to Geno, who stared at it.

“What’s wrong?”

Geno looked up. “Nothing,” he said.

It was too big on him, the Team Canada fleece, but … looking at him in it, something in Sid chest settled; something he hadn’t even realized was restive.

“Call me if you need anything.”

Geno nodded.

Sid looked around for his phone. He needed to take it off silent before he forgot, in case Geno did call.

“Sid?”

“Yeah?”

Sid turned, and that was when Geno leaned forward to brush a light kiss to his mouth.

It caught Sid so off guard that he forgot to even kiss back before Geno was pulling away, just far enough to meet Sid's eyes.

“Thanks,” Geno said, voice low and sweet and so sincere. Then he turned on his heel and walked out.

Sid watched him leave with his heart jammed somewhere in the vicinity of his throat, before falling back into the messed-up bed, hand over his face. He pressed his fingers to his lips, which felt like they were buzzing, or maybe burning, though it really had been the lightest kiss, almost no pressure behind it at all.

It occurred to him that he should be freaking out about the guy thing.

He wasn’t. Mostly he felt dazed, and overheated, and also like this bed was too small, and this dorm was too small, and this beautiful little city on the Russian coast was too damn small. 

If you had asked him three months ago, he would have said he’d never even thought about another guy this way. Or he didn't think he had. He wondered if Geno had ever done this before, with a guy. His gut instinct said no, but five minutes ago, he hadn't thought Geno would ever want to kiss him either, so what the hell did he know?

Geno was handsy with Nealer. They were always all over each other. Sid knew they took girls home together sometimes, and now he wondered if there was ever a time when it was just the two of them, no third person in between. And he remembered in the beginning, back before their falling out, when Geno used to fly out to DC early before Pens-Caps games to spend the night at Ovechkin’s house, looking bright and happy when he met up with the team at the arena.

He remembered, too, the way Geno went still when Sid had his torso pinned that day in his living room, and the surprised look on his face earlier, when Sid held him down. He wondered if Geno would like the idea of Sid pressing him into the mattress in other contexts.

For one panicked second, he worried that maybe Geno wouldn’t like it at all, that maybe this was about Russia, Geno obscurely lashing out because he was pissed right now. And fuck, they were in Russia. It was paranoid, but Sid took a second to thank their lucky stars that the blinds were drawn. And then he remembered that Geno wasn’t an asshole — would never use a friend like that — and that spun him right back to the dazed feeling, the one that had him replaying the last three months — hell, the last eight years — in a loop.

He liked Geno. Had always liked Geno. At first it was because Geno played gorgeous hockey, though he never got enough credit for it, in Sid's opinion, and because he fought so hard play in Pittsburgh. These days, that instant, instinctive like had grown and settled into the kind of warm, steady affection that came from sharing nearly ten years of highs and lows with each other. And from sharing hockey that was — yeah, Sid would admit to thinking it — just better than other people's.

But this — this wanting to do anything to make Geno feel better … this was new.

Sid should have been worrying about how he wasn't scoring, and the next game, and maybe about his fried-egg eye situation. He hadn’t been getting much sleep in Sochi. But instead he had ditched his team to come here and make sure that Geno was okay. Or that he would be, at the very least.

He didn’t know what to do with that.

The thoughts kept chasing themselves around in his head until eventually the game caught up with him and he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer.

He drowsed until Geno got back, locking the door behind him.

“What happened?” Sid mumbled. “Everything okay?”

“Tell you later,” Geno said. He got under the blankets, shirtless this time. “Sleep now.”

Sid made a sound. “You’re all cold,” he said. The chilliness of Geno’s bare skin was seeping through his clothes and making him shiver. “Here.” He turned so they were facing each other. Curling an arm tight around Geno’s waist, he pressed in close until there wasn’t an inch of space between them.

Geno was still for a long moment.

“Warm,” he said finally, going boneless in Sid’s arms.

Sid let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “We should talk,” he said quietly. “About before.”

He felt like there were things Geno should know, things Sid should say: I want you but I have no idea what I’m doing.

Or maybe: We can’t do this unless it’s going somewhere.

And definitely: I really want this to go somewhere.

“Later,” Geno told him.

He tucked his face into Sid’s neck again. His nose was freezing and it made Sid start and shudder, and still Sid had no complaints. His mouth caught the edge of Geno’s cheekbone in the dark. He pressed a brief kiss to it.

“Okay,” he agreed. “Later.”




and one.

September 2014


Sid woke up feeling warm and well-rested.

It was the best sleep he’d had since the last time Geno slept in his bed, which had been the night before Geno left for Worlds and therefore filled with selfish thoughts like you should train with me this summer, which Sid hadn’t let himself say out loud, but might, next summer.

Then he remembered that next summer was months and months away. They had a long season stretching out ahead of them.

And Geno was back in Pittsburgh, with him.

Though not in his bed, Sid discovered, when he stretched out a hand and found the right side of the bed empty.

It was understandable. Geno’s sleeping pattern would be thrown from jet lag. He probably woke up hours ago. But Sid hadn’t seen him in months and had been looking forward to not waking up alone anymore.

He went downstairs and found Geno standing over his breakfast bar, whisking some eggs in a bowl, his back to Sid. There was a stack of bread to one side of him. Sitting on the other was Sid’s waffle iron. Sid watched quietly as some of the egg mixture spilled over on to the counter, and Geno swore under his breath.

He hadn’t bothered to pull on a shirt and his sweatpants were riding low on his hips. There were already finger-shaped bruises coming in around his hipbones. He looked good.

He looked right, moving around Sid’s kitchen, and Sid’s voice came out a little hoarse when he said, “Hey.”

Geno looked around and smiled, so warm and open. “Morning,” he said, reaching for a paper towel.

Sid came up behind him, putting his arms around Geno’s waist. “You smell nice,” he sighed into Geno's bare shoulder.

He felt nice too, all warm, shower-damp skin.

“Thanks,” Geno laughed. “Glad you like your own soap.”

Sid pressed a smile into his skin. He never exactly mentioned it to Geno, but he had been anxious about what would happen to them with Geno on the other side of the world for four months. That maybe they'd drift. Sid had been told on more than one occasion that trying to be close to him was too much effort, he was unavailable a lot, he didn’t put enough time and energy into relationships.

And Geno himself was notoriously hard to reach in the summer. It would have been easy to drift.

Instead, Sid got pictures of Geno at the World Cup parade in Moscow, Geno at the French Open, Geno swimming with whale sharks. He sent back pictures of his own, which started with mostly landscape shots of LA and Vail and PEI, and ended with mostly selfies, because Geno saw the one Jen posted to Snapchat and sent him so many eyeless sad faces that Sid caved like an unsound bridge.

There were also phone calls and texts most days, and long Skype chats most weeks, and it surprised Sid, how easy it was.

Still: “I’m really glad you're back,” he said into the top of Geno’s spine, where he could still see the purpling impression of his own teeth, the one he put there last night.

“Yes," Geno said. “You already say.”

“I missed you,” he added, lightly scraping his teeth over the bite mark. He smiled as he felt goosebumps rise on Geno’s arms.

“You say that too,” Geno said, laughter in his voice.

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to make you breakfast.”

“Oh yeah? What is it?” He had to go up on his toes to see over Geno's shoulder.

“Waffles.” Geno gestured, looking a little sheepish. “But your waffle maker evil. I’m already burn one try.”

Sid smiled again and pressed a final kiss to the nape of his neck. “I’ll do this batch, then.” He let Geno go, gently bumped him aside, and looked again at the bread stack. “Is that French toast?” he asked hopefully.

“Mhmm,” said Geno, setting two plates on the counter. “But think maybe they go cold.” He dug out some knives and forks from Sid’s cutlery drawer.

While the waffles took care of themselves, Sid put the French toast slices back into a pan, just to warm. He tugged Geno back in so he could lick the taste of coffee and syrup from his mouth, which was hot and soft and sweet, and which was one of the things Sid had missed most since May.

“We take all this upstairs?” Geno asked when the possibility of burning something forced them to break apart.

“If you want. I haven’t had breakfast in bed since I was a kid.”

“So sad, Sid.” Geno shook his head. “We have to do now.”

“What if we get crumbs on my sheets?”

“So?”

Sid grinned, chest feeling full fit to burst. “Yeah, okay,” he said. “In bed, then.”