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It was always surprising when someone acted like Geno didn't know Sid was weird. He spent the majority of his waking and sleeping hours with Sid; was he not supposed to know?

At a certain point, it started pissing Geno off. Because when people said things like, "Dude, how have you not noticed that Sid gets upset if he doesn't have the right kind of bread for his 5:05 sandwich?" what they really meant was that Sid was a pain, and if Geno didn't think so, he just hadn't noticed yet.

The truth was, Geno noticed. He noticed all of it, from the horrifying – jockstrap – to the sweet – the way Sid had to text his sister after every one of her games. Some of it was inconvenient, most of it was inexplicable, a bit of it was annoying as hell, a lot of it was endearing. And it just . . . was. Sid. It wasn't a thing Geno put up with or worked around; it was the texture of Sid's weird, wonderful mind.

So Geno noticed the condom thing, but he didn't really care.

Honestly, for the first few months, he was just so happy to be getting into Sid's pants that he went along with what Sid wanted without thinking much about it. Sid wanted condoms for blowjobs – well, that was the scrupulously right way to do it that most people forgot about, so sure. Sid wanted condoms for handjobs – well, it cut down on the mess, anyway. Sid wanted to put a condom on himself when Geno was fucking him – okay, that was odd, but Geno was fucking him so he really sincerely from the heart did not want to rock the boat.

He brought it up halfway through the season, late one night in an Ottawa hotel room.

"Was last condoms," he said, climbing back into bed.

Sidney rolled into his chest, grumbling faintly. "We can get more tomorrow."

Geno ran his fingers through Sid's curls. He loved how Sid burrowed into his shoulder, the proprietary way he plumped Geno's biceps like a pillow before resting his head on them.

"Or not get," Geno said idly, thinking out loud. "Could try without, maybe?"

"No," Sid said.

Geno scooted back, ducking down to see his face. Sidney looked appalled.

". . . Okay," Geno said. "Not trust me?" It came out pretty incredulous, because Geno knew he had plenty of faults as a player, a countryman, a son, a boyfriend. But inconstancy was not one of them. Not in general, and specifically not with Sid, ever.

"What?" Sid said. "Of course I trust you."

"But need condoms?" Geno said carefully. "Sid, I not with anyone but you. And not anyone at all for months before you."

Sid's face cleared like he'd just figured out what they were talking about. "Of course you're not cheating on me," he said, glaring like it was offensive of Geno to even bring it up. It was less warming when he added, "When would you have the time?"

"Also, don't want to," Geno pointed out.

"And that," Sid agreed, smiling faintly.

"Have it good right now," Geno continued, and patted Sid's bare ass.

"You just want me for my body," Sid said.

"Mmm," Geno said salaciously. "Hockey ass. Hockey thighs." He would have continued with further eloquence upon the subjects of Sidney's back, his arms, a detour for his chest, and the grand finale of his shoulders, but there was suddenly some kissing to do.

"So," Geno said some time later. Sid was on top of him, nuzzling at the skin under his ear. "You know I not cheat, but want condoms?"

Sid paused. "Haven't we talked about this?"

"No," Geno said. "Would definitely remember."

"I guess we haven't." Sid sighed gustily. "You know, sometimes I'm surprised that you're not actually in my head with me."

That socked Geno in the lungs, completely out of left field. That a man so insular, so self-sufficient would allow Geno so close, and want him there . . . It was perhaps the most romantic thing Sidney had ever said to him.

"Tell me," Geno said softly.

"I, uh. Don't like semen," Sid said.

Geno cocked his head. "Smell bad?" he hazarded, because, well, it was sometimes true. "Or taste?"

"Not really, and I wouldn't know," Sid said. "It's just . . . I don't like it. On my hands – or anywhere on me. It's –" his fingers opened and closed helplessly. "It's slippery and warm and just—" He broke off again, apparently too disgusted to continue.

". . . Huh," Geno said, processing that. "Okay. Want blankets? Should sleep."


They had room service breakfast the next morning because neither of them was feeling particularly social.

"You have sweat on you lots," Geno said over his eggs. "Blood sometimes. Vaseline. You not like?"

Sidney paused with his fork in midair. "It's not good," he said. "Sweat's okay. When I'm bleeding I'm usually thinking of other stuff. Vaseline's—" he made a face. "I don't if I can help it. Or lotion."

"Or lube," Geno said, connecting the dots.

"Right. That's why I wash it off fast. It's not as bad when it's room temperature stuff, though."

"Huh," Geno said, and reached for his coffee.


He played cards with Nealsy and Paulie in the back of the plane on the flight home.

"Deal out," he said between hands, and got up. Flower and Sid were towards the front, with Flower on the aisle and Sid at the window.

"Switch for a minute?" Geno said, tapping Flower.

Flower looked at him, then at Sid, oblivious under his headphones.

"I am such a nice guy," he said, and got up.

Geno sat down and poked Sid in the side. "Sid," he said.

Sid flicked at his iPod, scowling.

"Flower back in a minute," Geno said, anticipating an objection. "Have question."


Geno leaned in. "When you jerk off alone, use condom?"

Sid nodded. "Yeah," he said. "Ever since I left home and could get them. I tried without in the shower, but—" he made a sad face "—it never washed away quick enough and ruined, you know."

"Okay," Geno said, and stood up.

He stepped out into the aisle to see Flower and Tanger huddled together in the row behind Sid. They had clearly been eavesdropping.

"What the fuck?" Flower moaned, hands over his face.

"Own fault," Geno said. "Shouldn't listen in. Think about life. Think about choices." And he went back to his card game.


"Sid," Geno said, jogging down the stairs two days later. "You not like jizz. Is like shoes thing, or like chunky peanut butter thing?" Sidney had strong feelings about his shoes, but he grudgingly acknowledged that manufacturers continued to issue updated models every few months, so his running shoes were never quite the same even though he always bought the same brand and style. Chunky peanut butter, on the other hand, was inviolate. You did not fuck with the chunky peanut butter.

Geno could work with shoes. Peanut butter, not so much.

Sidney looked up from the entryway table where he was digging for his keys. "It's not like the peanut butter thing," he said. "I won't—" he made a gesture that Geno assumed was supposed to indicate the way not having his peanut butter was like loosing Godzilla on his mental landscape. "It's more like . . ." He trailed off, brow furrowing.

"Think about it?" Geno said.

"Sure," Sid said, and scooped up his keys. "Come on."

An hour and a half later, Sid turned neatly on his skates when coach blew the whistle at the end of five-on-five practice.

"I got it," he shouted down the ice at Geno. "It's like the M&Ms thing!"

When he was younger, Sidney had been violently averse to brown M&Ms, to the point where he didn't even like eating the other colors that had touched the brown ones. Geno had no idea how it had started; he suspected some boarding-school-related teenage neurosis flaming out of control. Talbot and Flower once spent an entire Friday night dyeing brown M&Ms other colors with food coloring, and then told Sid about it only after he'd eaten half the bowl. Sid had gotten red-faced and furious, and to this day he didn't often eat the brown ones, particularly when he was stressed out. But the prank seemed to have short-circuited the operatic intensity of the aversion, and Geno knew – Sid had told him – that he was actually grateful.

"Good!" Geno shouted back, beginning to grin.


He brought it up again that weekend. They didn't have a Saturday game, so they spent the night on the couch, alternately watching Game of Thrones and making out.

"So, about jizz," Geno said, and Sid cracked up.

"Yes?" Sid said, stifling his giggles and attempting to look serious.

"We try something without condom?" Geno asked. "Something easy?"

"Like what?"

Geno was ready for this. "Like I jerk you off," he said.

"It's really hard to do without getting some on me," Sid said.

"Hm." Geno pondered. "Get on me instead? You—" he gestured, "—hands and knees, me underneath? Get all over me, I like that."

Sidney bit his lip, thinking about it. "I don't know," he said uneasily. "Just seeing it is enough sometimes."

"No porn," Geno said mournfully, following that to its logical conclusion.

"Eh," Sid said, shrugging. "I never minded."

That made a certain amount of sense. Off the ice, Sidney was not a visual person. He had to touch things to get them, which was a problem when he really didn't want to touch them.

"So coming on me not okay?"

"No," Sid said slowly. A determined light was coming into his eyes. "But I bet there's something. Let me think about it."


A few weeks later, Geno was awakened by Sid bouncing onto the bed fresh from the shower, his hair still dripping.

"Sid," Geno said, blinking confusedly. "Go running?"

"I did." Sidney pulled the covers down and straddled him. "You were really out, so I let you sleep."

Geno stretched, wondering what he had done to merit such mercy.

Sidney's fingers were walking thoughtfully up his chest. "Hey," he said, tilting his head. "You wanna?"

"Mmm?" Geno said, just to mess with him.

Sid's eyes narrowed. "Sex," he said. "Now."

"Twist my arm," Geno said, and pulled Sid down on top of him.

"So," Sid said a few minutes later. They were on their sides, tangled up, rutting lazily against each other. "I was thinking."

"Yes?" Geno said, kissing down his neck.

"I think you could come in my mouth," Sid said consideringly.

Geno sat up. "Really?" Then he paused. "How is better than hands?" he asked, perplexed.

Sid shrugged. "It's not on me," he said. "So I think it might be okay. But there are conditions."

"Of course conditions," Geno said, and folded his hands attentively.

"It has to be in my mouth," Sid said firmly. "Not anywhere else."

"So Sid swallow?" Geno asked.

Sidney nodded. "Yeah, I'll swallow. I don't think I could -- Geno, ugh."

Geno laughed, taking his hand off his dick. "Sid talk dirty to me, can't help," he said, and Sid scowled fiercely. "Okay, okay. Serious. Come in mouth. I do that. Anything else?"

"Not on my face," Sid stressed. "Like, not at all."

"Got it."

"And I'm not saying I'll like it," Sid added. "This might be a one-time deal. Or a once a year deal."

"Right," Geno said. "Like special exception jelly in playoffs."

Geno was so ready for this jelly.

"Exactly." Sid looked relieved.

There was a brief silence, into which Geno plaintively said, ". . . Blowjob now?"

"Yeah," Sidney said, and went for it, no hesitation, no foreplay.

Geno groaned, arching up into his mouth. It'd been a really long time since anyone had done this for him without a condom; Sidney's mouth was plush and wet. Sidney worked his lips halfway down, the flat of his tongue rubbing. Then he sucked and swallowed and went "huh," with his mouth full.

"Okay?" Geno asked, already out of breath.

Sid came up with a pop. "That's really different," he said, sounding surprised.

"Skin," Geno said, somewhat incoherently. "Better than plastic."

"I like your skin," Sid said, and licked him.

Then he blew Geno in earnest, one hand stabilizing the base of Geno's dick until Sidney had enough in his mouth to go hands free. He grabbed on to Geno's thighs, squeezing as his mouth slid down and his throat worked.

He didn't like spit on his face; Geno had observed that before, but never thought about it. Sid kept getting his lips and his chin wet, and pulling off to swipe it away with a corner of the sheet.

"Hang on," he said after a while. "Just a second."

He went for the nightstand and came up with a condom. Geno was just realizing in dismay that the special exception jelly was not so special when Sid tore open the condom and applied it to himself.

"Okay," he said, rolling back to Geno with one hand already working between his legs. "Come here."

Geno helped line them up, one hand on the base of his dick, the other in Sid's hair. "So hot," he said, meaning the blowjob, but also how hot doing this was making Sid. He'd always liked blowing Geno, had from day one, but it didn't always get him hard like that, or make him flush and moan around Geno's dick.

Sidney sucked at the head for a while, lips catching deliberately on Geno's foreskin. Then he worked his way down, swallowing Geno an inch at a time with his eyes closed in apparent bliss.

"Fuck, Sid," Geno said, rolling his hips.

Sid came up with a pop, fast enough to make Geno's dick bounce off his belly.

"Remember what I said." Sid all but pointed a stern finger at him. "Come in my mouth."

"I promise," Geno said. "I come in your mouth, swear, Sid, please—"

Sid took a huge breath and went back to it. And he meant business; he bobbed his head fast, not stopping for the spit on his chin or Geno's erratic thrusts at the back of his throat or, it seemed, to breathe.

"Almost," Geno warned, clinging to Sid's curls for dear life. "Sid, almost—"

Sid groaned, hungry and low. And that was it. Geno's teeth snapped closed, and he grabbed Sid's neck with his free hand, urging him down. Sid went, and Geno came.

He was worried, dimly, that it would be too much. But Sid had clearly thought about this, Jesus. He took the first pulse deep in his mouth; Geno whined as Sid's throat fluttered. Then Sid eased up, sucking steadily, until Geno finished with a few last spurts over his tongue.

Sid sat up. His lips were pressed tight, his mouth working as he tried to swallow all of it without choking or losing a single drop. Geno watched, wide-eyed, as Sid swallowed, jerking his dick with both hands, and swallowed again, and came.

"Okay?" Geno asked hopefully a few minutes later, when Sid had returned from the bathroom.

"Yeah," Sid said thoughtfully. He stretched out next to Geno, his hands behind his head. "That was . . . I liked that."

"Me too," Geno said, and Sid giggled.

They lapsed into silence, and then Sid said, "I didn't think it'd be so hot."

"Mmm?" Geno said encouragingly.

"It was like – I mean, it didn't taste good," Sid said. "But I liked doing it. Doing it for you."

"Do it for me any time," Geno said gravely. "I do for you, yes?"

"Sure," Sid said.

"And . . . other things?" Geno asked. "We fuck without condom?"

Sid's eyebrows came together. "There's no way that won't be messy," he said.

"I lick," Geno suggested.

"Chunky peanut butter," Sid said instantly.

"Okay," Geno said, and took his hand.