Sid came out to the ice a little early that morning, looking for a roll of tape he was sure he’d left on the bench. Geno and Olli were already out, getting in their skating before the real practice started. They circled the ice with strong, smooth strides, cutting into the slot every so often to send a puck towards the empty net. Sid thought it even might be doing Olli some good, all this injured-reserve time to work on his skating without games to distract him or wear him down.
Sid was peering under the bench – where was the fucking tape? He couldn’t start a new roll until he’d finished with the old one, Dana knew that – when a sound floated across the ice. It was a snicker. Sid popped his head up as Geno skated by, backwards, the puck on his stick. “Come on,” Geno taunted. His color was high, his eyes bright with mischief and something more, something that Sid hadn’t seen directed at anyone but him in a long time. In years, even.
Just as Geno rounded the corner boards, Olli teased the puck off his stick and wristed it to the net. It pinged off the post, and Geno laughed outright, a belly laugh full of delight. Sid eyed Olli, curious to see if Olli recognized the sound for what it was. The way his cheeks were pinking, Sid thought he probably did. Hmm.
As Sid turned away, his eye caught on an unexpected texture, up high. It was half a roll of black stick tape, balanced precariously on the glass as it curved around the corner of the stands.
For fuck’s sake, Flower.
Cornering Geno in the car about something serious was never a good idea. Before dinner was a bad time, too, because hunger did neither of their dispositions any favors. After dinner, though, with the dishes piled in the sink and NHL Network turned to low and Geno a comforting heat along Sid’s side and thrown around his shoulders: that was a good time.
“I saw you skating with Olli today,” Sid began.
Geno’s arm around him tightened a little. “Of course I skate with Olli. Can’t practice yet, you know.”
“I know,” Sid said, reaching over and prodding a little at Geno’s shoulder. Geno flinched. The bruise was healing, but slowly. Sid had not quite forgiven Geno for dropping to the ice to block that shot. A few inches off, and his face would have taken the brunt instead. Sid liked Geno’s face the way it was.
Sid smoothed his hand over a wrinkle in Geno’s shirt sleeve, and he said, “You like him.”
“Sid” Geno began, blustering.
Sid cut him off. “You think I don’t know what you sound like when you’re flirting with someone?” Sid squeezed Geno’s arm. He met Geno’s brown eyes and smiled into them.
Geno shifted away, troubled. “We don’t do that anymore. Sorry, I stop. Promise.”
“Geno, no. I don’t do that anymore. You’re all I want, you know?” Sid leaned up and pressed a kiss to Geno’s mouth: firm, an assurance. “But it’s okay if I’m not all you want.” Geno stared at Sid, still not quite trusting, and Sid had a terrible thought. “Geno, is this why you haven’t been with anyone else lately? Did you think I didn’t want you to?”
“It’s fine,” Geno said, which did not answer Sid’s question. Before Sid could follow that up, Geno’s finger pressed to Sid’s lips: Shhh. “It’s nice, all this time, just two of us. You know? Just us.”
“Okay,” Sid said. He had to trust Geno, too. “But now, if you want something with Olli – it’d be okay.”
Geno’s cheeks colored a little. He stared determinedly at the TV. “I don’t know what you talk about.”
“Sure, Geno,” Sid said equably. “Whatever you say.”
Sid and the team went on the road. They got the win in Buffalo. At the airport, waiting for the plane to take them to Ottawa, he texted Geno: how’s olli?
Geno’s response was a long series of poop emojis, which were probably a description of Sid rather than Olli.
They lost to the Sens in a shootout and got back on the plane that same night. It was a short hop back to Pittsburgh, but the plane was quiet, and Sid dropped off without much trouble.
He awoke in a dim cabin lit only by the soft yellow glow of the night lights along the cabin walls. When he’d closed his eyes, there’d been murmurs from nearby, guys unable to settle down just yet. Now all was still. Sid’s eyes felt dry and crusty. He rubbed at one, and when he lowered his hand, he found Flower watching him.
“Sorry I woke you,” Sid whispered.
Flower shrugged. “I wasn’t sleeping.”
Across the aisle, Kuni was sacked out and drooling a little into his pillow. Sid pulled his blanket up around his arms. Softly he said, “No?” It had been Muzz’s shootout loss; Flower had only presided over it from the bench. Of all of them, Flower should have slept the easiest.
“No.” Flower settled lower in his seat and peered out the window. Snores rattled from two rows down – Hainsey, probably. “I heard from my agent again yesterday.”
He seemed disinclined to add any more. “Oh yeah?” Sid said, though he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear what came next.
“Vegas is pretty interested in me, I guess.”
Something sharp and sudden happened in Sid’s chest. “They should be.”
“So loyal,” Flower said. The twist of his mouth wasn’t quite a smile. “I waived my no-movement clause, you know. For the draft. So Jim didn’t have to trade me at the deadline.”
“I—guessed.” It was still a cold shock to hear it aloud.
Flower hummed. “You ever fly into Vegas at night?”
“Mm.” Probably Sid had. He’d flown into a lot of places.
“It’s pretty. The desert’s dark, you can’t see anything, and then you fly over the Strip and it’s all those lights. So many different colors.”
Sid swallowed around a lump. This was it. This was the business. Most guys didn’t get to stick around in one place nearly as long as Flower had. Sid shifted closer and deliberately breathed out, long and slow. “You’re in net tomorrow,” he said.
“Go to sleep, you mean? Always looking out for me, captain.”
“For sure,” Sid said, because it was better than Not for much longer. He closed his eyes.
It was well past three in the morning when the plane rolled to a stop on the Pittsburgh runway, and Sid had planned on a taxi. However, when he switched off of airplane mode, there was a text from Geno saying he was picking Sid up. Sid waved the other guys off and headed to the curb outside baggage claim. He turned the collar up on his coat in hopes of dissuading autograph seekers, but it was three thirty in the fucking morning: nobody was looking at him anyway.
He only had to wait five minutes before Geno pulled up to the curb. Sid jammed his luggage into the Mercedes’s trunk and climbed inside. “You didn’t have to come get me,” he said, slamming the door shut.
“Olli and I go to dinner tonight.”
It took a couple beats for that to sink into Sid’s head. He struggled upright out of his slump. “Oh yeah?” He turned his smile towards the window, hidden. “You had a good time?”
“Very good steak,” Geno conceded.
“And Olli had a good time, too?”
Geno cursed the driver ahead of him for having the gall to go the speed limit. He grumbled under his breath all through the light, and then he used the turn lane to zip around the offending station wagon. Finally, when the car’s headlights had long since disappeared from the side mirror, Geno said, “I think probably he’s not interest in—I think he just like steak.”
“I bet he likes other things, too. Probably not just steak.”
A long enough silence followed this that Sid’s eyes began to droop shut again. “Like what you think?” Geno asked at last.
Sid blinked himself awake. He tried to reach back in time and remember how this had gone with Jarome Iginla during the affair that had blazed so hot that spring of 2013. But Geno’d still been the young guy then, relatively, and Iggy had seduced Geno back just as hard and twice as certain. Still, Geno was no stranger to romantic gestures, as Sid knew firsthand. “Flowers? A nice watch?” Sid still had the one Geno had given him. He wore it all the time.
Geno mouth twisted with dissatisfaction. “I don’t know if he want. Maybe he’s shy.”
Like knowing whether Sid wanted it had ever stopped Geno giving Sid anything. “Maybe you’re shy,” Sid said. He meant it as a joke, but the scowl Geno threw in Sid’s direction said something different. Sid sat up straighter. “Seriously?” He struggled to tamp down his delight; he wasn’t sure how well he succeeded.
“Fuck you,” Geno grumbled.
A multitude of chirps rose to the surface of Sid’s mind. He smothered them all, and he reached over to squeeze Geno’s arm. “Tell me more about it tomorrow, okay? We’ll figure out something.”
Geno shot him a glance out of the corner of his eye. In that flash of a glance, Sid thought he saw relief. “Okay.”
Tomorrow was a lie, as Sid should have realized it would be. The Pens turned around and played the Isles that night, and from the moment he got up Sid didn’t have room in his head for anything else. But the day after that, a gray moody Saturday, Sid rolled out of bed a little early. By the time Geno stumbled downstairs, the coffee and eggs were waiting and the waffles were almost done.
“Best,” Geno said fervently, and disappeared behind his coffee cup for a while.
Sid gave Geno until he’d finished his eggs, and he said, “So tell me about Olli.”
Geno flushed, sudden and deep. “You already know him.”
Had Geno been like this about Iggy? Sid honestly couldn’t remember; Iggy was a long time ago. Sid prodded at Geno with his toe under the table, stroking across Geno’s instep until Geno muttered a curse and moved his foot away.
Sid was considering his next move when Geno said, “He’s cute.”
Sid looked Geno over carefully. “Yeah?”
“He’s still so baby. But not like rookie,” Geno hastened to add. “He’s take hockey very serious. And he knows a little bit Russian. Finland next to Russia, you know.”
“Oh yeah?” God knew Geno was a sucker for anyone who could cobble together a little Russian, however bad it was. When Sid had first gotten all starry-eyed about Geno, Sid’s Russian had been pretty damn bad.
Geno nodded. “Bad words, mostly. He teach me swear in Finnish.”
“Oh, now I know it’s true love.”
Geno kicked at Sid’s foot. He was not particularly gentle about it. His face was turning a dull red, and his gaze was fixed on the table. Sid loved him so damn much that he couldn’t even tell where the feeling began and ended. He walked around the table and slid his hand over Geno’s neck; he bent and caught Geno’s mouth.
Geno sighed against him and kissed back, and when Sid pulled away, Geno met his eyes. Cautiously he returned Sid’s smile. “I forget what it’s like,” Geno said. It sounded like an apology. “I don’t want anybody like this for long time.”
Geno’s smirk was belied by the fondness in his eyes. “You, I already have.”
Sid squeezed the back of Geno’s neck. “Yeah you do.”
In the end, Geno didn’t want any of Sid’s suggestions. “Just because you like museum, not everybody likes museum,” he said, their next free day.
“Hey,” Sid said mildly, and took the breakfast dishes to the sink. “So what are you guys doing today?” It was their first free day in several years, Sid was pretty sure. The bye week felt like a decade ago.
“Secret,” Geno said, and wouldn’t say another word. He disappeared upstairs and came back down in what qualified for Geno as date clothes: a contender for the world’s ugliest designer t-shirt and lots of very distressed, very expensive denim. “Tell me good luck,” he told Sid.
Sid slid Geno’s sunglasses off. Behind them, Geno looked just a little uncertain. “Good luck,” Sid said, speaking the words directly against Geno’s mouth, and then he kissed Geno thoroughly.
“Stop, stop,” Geno said finally. He was laughing now, uncertainty washed away. “You make me late.”
Sid was having none of that. “You were already late when you walked down those stairs.” His conviction was not even slightly weakened by the fact that he didn’t know Geno’s schedule for the day. Geno hmphed rather than admit it and slapped his sunglasses back on. “Good luck,” Sid repeated, and got a squeeze to the shoulder before Geno disappeared out the front door.
Let Geno have the romantic adventures. Sid worked out and napped, and then finally he took himself to the grocery store. This was his off-day luxury: a meal that didn’t come out of the freezer pre-prepped. He brought home asparagus and pasta and plans for alfredo. He’d just finished snapping off the woody ends of the asparagus when his phone buzzed with a text from Geno: olli wants come to dinner and then, is it ok?
ok, dinner at 6:30, Sid replied, and went to retrieve the other half of the asparagus bunch from the fridge.
Sid was just stirring the sauce into the pasta at a quarter to seven when Geno banged the front door open. “We here!” Geno called. It took another minute or two before he guided Olli into the kitchen, a hand to the small of his back.
“Hey,” Sid said to Olli.
“Hi.” Olli’s voice was even deeper and rougher than usual, and his eyes were very round. He glanced over at Geno and then back at Sid. The look on his face said clearly, They’ve got me surrounded.
“You want to get us some wine?” Sid asked Geno.
Geno could read Sid’s plays off the ice, too. He headed for the basement, and he didn’t say a word about taking Olli along to tour the wine collection. When he was gone, there was only Olli, standing in Sid’s kitchen in jeans and a gray Henley, his hands stuffed in the pockets. His face and neck were a little pink.
Sid turned resolutely away to finish stirring. “Did you guys have fun today?”
“Yeah. He—we went to the zoo.”
Sid smiled at the white sauce. “That sounds about right. Did he show you the bears?”
“They were all asleep. The giraffes were playing outside, though. And we got ice cream.”
The pasta went into a serving bowl. Sid turned and held it out to Olli, and Olli yanked his hands out of his pockets for Sid to put the bowl onto. “Set it over on the table, will you? I’ll get the plates.”
He handed Olli the silverware next, then the wine glasses, and finally the kitchen table was set. It seemed like it should have flowers on it for the occasion, not that he and Geno ever went in for that sort of thing.
“Geno kissed me,” Olli said into the silence.
Sid stilled. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” Olli was watching Sid with those wide blue eyes, waiting.
“Did you kiss him back?”
“Kind of.” Sid lifted an eyebrow. Olli’s gaze slid away. “He said it was okay with you.”
Sid settled back against the counter. Deliberately he relaxed his shoulders, his posture. Took a deep breath in and out again, dropped his hands, and looked as unthreatening as he knew how. “Yeah. He’s been interested in you for a while. I told him to go for it.”
Olli dared a glance in Sid’s direction. “I thought he was making that up.”
“He is full of shit,” Sid agreed. “But not about this. Not about the important stuff. And he really likes you.”
Olli pinked, a shy, pleased blush that confirmed that the earlier redness was just sunburn. “And it’s really okay? It won’t be—weird? For you?”
“Not for me, or for Geno. But if it’s too weird for you, it’s okay. Geno will get over it. We’ll be fine.” Sid met Olli’s gaze and held still as Olli searched his face. Olli was so earnest: of course Geno liked him. Sid had personally experienced how much Geno relished the challenge of drawing someone out of themselves – with sheer absurdity, usually.
“And it’s not—it wouldn’t—” Olli huffed at himself and tried again. “It would be just me and Geno, right? Not me and you. That’s what he said.”
Sid couldn’t help himself. “What, so Geno’s hot enough for you but I’m not?”
Probably Sid shouldn’t enjoy Olli’s terrified deer-in-the-headlights expression quite as much as he did. Possibly Sid was a little bit sadistic. “Uh—”
“I’m kidding,” Sid said, chuckling. “And yeah, that’s right. Sometimes I like to hear about what Geno does with his partners. If it’s okay that he shares that with me, I mean.”
Olli had mostly recovered from his fluster. “I think—I think that’d be okay.”
“But you’d be with him, not with me.”
Olli nodded thoughtfully. Finally, like a decision, he said, “I really like him.”
“He’s pretty great,” Sid said. “Hey, I think I hear the wine.”
Geno was in fine form: he bullshitted outrageously all through the meal. Every time he coaxed a laugh out of Olli, Geno shot Sid a smug, sly grin: Look what I did. Or maybe Look what I found. Olli kept sneaking glances at Sid, and slowly he relaxed, like maybe he’d found the answer he’d been looking for when he came to dinner. He laughed more easily, and he chirped Sid for the Tile on his key ring.
“Before he get, he lose his keys so many times.”
“Oh, now you’re ganging up on me,” Sid said.
“Every time we late for practice, it’s him, he say can’t leave house until he find again.”
Sid mouthed No and silently shook his head, and Olli cracked up.
At the end of it, Geno shooed Sid out of the kitchen so he and Olli could wash up – as if Geno had ever done dishes without prompting in his life.
Sid watched hockey highlights in the den for a while. Dubnyk had gone ice cold, and the Preds were heating up. The Avs had dropped yet another game. Sid sat through an interview with Duchene, looking exhausted and out of hope, but when the channel cut to expansion draft speculation, Sid turned the TV off.
Absently he wandered back to the kitchen for a glass of water. Instead he found Olli backed up against the fridge, his face framed by Geno’s hands as Geno kissed him so, so carefully. Sid was shot through with a sudden fierce longing, like an icy chill. He crept away from the kitchen door and took the stairs instead. He gulped water in the bathroom, and then he sprawled out on the bed with his phone.
His eyelids were getting heavy when Geno appeared in the doorway. “I’m take Olli home now,” Geno said.
Sid looked up from video of Philly’s last game and blinked at Geno. “You staying the night?”
Geno hesitated. “Maybe?”
“Okay, well. Have a good time.” Sid stretched across the bed to set his phone on the bedside table.
The mattress dipped as Geno sat on it. He braced the back of Sid’s neck. His fingers were warm. “Everything okay?”
Sid shook his head, trying to clear it, but the creeping vines of sleep remained. “Yeah, for sure.”
“You’re quiet tonight.”
“End of the season. It’s a grind. You know.” Sid contrived not to squirm under Geno’s searching gaze.
“You tell me come back, spend night with you, I do it. You know I do.”
Sid struggled upright. He patted Geno’s cheek. “I know. I’ll be fine. You and Olli have fun, okay? You can tell me about it afterwards.”
“Of course I’m tell you,” Geno said, affronted. He hesitated still, and Sid leaned in and pressed a kiss to his mouth.
“Now go.” Sid shoved at Geno. “Have fun.”
“Yes, Captain,” Geno said, the asshole.
Sid gave up on analyzing Philly’s neutral zone defense and went to get ready for bed. Just as he was crawling in, a message arrived from Geno: two eggplant emojis, a bed, and several eyeless smilies. Sid sent back a thumbs up and turned out the light.
Sid arrived at the Cranberry rink the next morning just as Geno was putting his helmet on. Geno flashed him a grin: deeply satisfied, unbearably smug. Sid caught Olli’s eye next. Olli blushed a deep tomato red and hurriedly turned his attention to his stall. Dana pulled Sid aside with a question about his skate blades, and the next time Sid looked up again, Geno and Olli were waddling down the hall to the ice. Geno tapped Olli on the ass with his stick. “So slow!” Geno called. Sid could have sworn the sound that came from farther down the hall was a giggle.
Sid went to the circular saw in the equipment room to cut some new sticks. He was eyeballing the length of the stick he’d just cut when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. The next moment, Flower’s pointy chin hooked over Sid’s shoulder. “You cut off too much,” Flower said. “It’s too short now.”
“Fuck you,” Sid said companionably. He braced the stick and brought the saw down again to shave off another half inch. He compared it to his master stick and set it aside, satisfied.
Flower stepped back. “So, Geno and Olli.”
Sid slanted him a glance. “Looks like.”
“I didn’t know you guys still did that.”
Flower hadn’t always known quite what to make of Sid and Geno’s relationship, but there was no judgment in his eyes now, just curiosity. Sid rolled his shoulders. “We haven’t for a while, but—well, you saw them.”
Flower hummed. “What about you? You have someone else, too?”
“Aw, I don’t know. Geno’s pretty much it for me, eh? I don’t need anyone else, that way. And I have all you guys.”
“That’s right,” Flower said. He shouldered in against Sid and reaching for Sid’s ribs.
Sid fought back laughter as Flower’s fingers found his ticklish spots. “Not next to the power tools!”
They went to lunch after practice, just Flower and Sid. Flower insisted, and Sid didn’t ask for a reason. They ate sandwiches and talked about how Guentzy was shaping up, about the Preds’ late-season burst, about whether the Jackets were as good as their record-tying win streak suggested. About dogs, and how big Tanger’s puppy had gotten since Christmas.
“And Beckham, fucking God,” Sid said.
Flower shook his head. “He’s like a lion. He’d eat Shearsy in two bites and still be hungry.”
Sid hummed in agreement. Now, too late, he regretted mentioning Beckham; talking about Muzz’s Newfoundland was a bit too close to talking about Muzz.
“You know,” Flower began, and Sid was utterly certain he didn’t want to hear whatever came next. “Vero’s saying she might like somewhere warmer. All this snow, you know, the roads, cleaning the driveway. She thinks she’d like somewhere with sun for a little bit, you know?”
“It could be good. A good challenge.”
“Sure,” Sid said. His throat was a little tight.
“A brand-new team, all new guys who don’t know each other, building something out there in the desert. I’ve never done anything like that before.”
“For sure, that sounds—that’d really be something.”
Flower met Sid’s eyes. “It’s time, Sid. I want to play.” He said it like a plea, like he was begging Sid to understand.
“Yeah, I know.” They all did. They’d seen it coming from a year away, and yet. “Fuck, Flower.”
Flower gave Sid a moment to get himself together. Then Flower said cautiously, “I think I’m excited.”
Suddenly, Sid knew the part he had to play here. He swallowed around the lump in his throat, and he said, “You should be. You’re gonna do awesome. We’re all going to be rooting for you.”
“Except when I play you guys,” Flower clarified.
“Well, I mean. Let’s not get too crazy here,” Sid said.
Sid stayed at the table a little longer after Flower left, reading through a sudden burst of messages in the team group chat. Wilson had run out of gas on the way home from the grocery store, it turned out. By the time he’d refueled, ice cream had melted, leaked out of the grocery sack, and pooled into the carpet on the floor of the car.
Sid felt almost sorry for the kid. Wilson would be hearing about that as long as he stayed on the team.
Geno’s response was less sympathetic. you do like this on game day I fine you $500
The next night, the Pens lost to Chicago on home ice, a miserable 5-1 thrashing. All that kept them from total humiliation was Rusty’s goal in the third, when the loss was already assured.
Sid gave his meaningless soundbites to the media: finish our chances and pucks to the net and responsible in our own end. When he was finally done, the room was mostly empty – except for Flower, sitting in his stall, bent over his knees and only half out of his gear. The four goals he’d let in on the first sixteen shots were evident in every line of his body. As Sid tried to decide what to say, Tanger walked past to sit in the stall next to Flower’s. He murmured something to Flower.
There was no place for Sid here, tonight. He walked over anyway to squeeze Flower’s shoulder, and then he went to the showers.
He found Geno and Olli in the cafeteria, huddled at one of the tiny tables. They were both still sharp in their game day suits, and their heads were bent together: one dark-headed and one blond. Sid felt an awful, ugly pang in his chest. He breathed around it.
“Hey, guys,” he said, approaching. “Geno, you ready?”
“Ready.” Geno slid to his feet, glanced around the empty cafeteria, and then kissed Olli on the cheek. Olli smiled at the tabletop. Geno hadn’t lied: now that Sid let himself look, Olli was fucking adorable.
Geno drove the Range Rover home. Geno, after all, had not just played a deeply frustrating hockey game. Sid focused his racing thoughts on it, the fuckups, that first goal three minutes in that he and Shearsy and Rusty had all been out there for. Hockey was safe to think about. He could lose himself in it, replay each shift, ask himself if a different decision here, better control on his stick here would have changed the outcome.
He barely noticed when Geno pulled them into the garage. Sid climbed out on autopilot and ended up in the kitchen without any conscious thought, making a protein shake to finish the night. There was only an inch of protein sludge and melting banana left at the bottom of Sid’s cup when Geno settled against the counter next to him. He put his arm around Sid’s shoulders, and Sid leaned into him.
“How you feel?” Geno asked. The words rumbled gently against Sid’s ribs.
Sid shrugged. “You know. Okay.”
“Something wrong,” Geno said. Sid was about to answer in the negative before he realized it wasn’t a question. He twisted to meet Geno’s gaze, and Geno looked back with eyes full of feeling. What feeling it was, Sid wasn’t quite certain. “You so quiet,” Geno said, barely audible himself. “You—upset about Olli?”
“No!” Sid pulled himself out of Geno’s arms. “Geno, it’s fine. I told you. I want you to have that, if you want it. If he wants it.” And Sid was quite sure that Olli did.
Geno chewed this over for a moment. “If it’s not Olli, then what’s wrong?”
Nothing, Sid was going to say, but Geno shook his head..
“You upset,” Geno said. “For couple weeks, you don’t talk. You look so tired. I think I—I leave you alone too much, it’s my fault.”
“No,” Sid repeated. Geno huffed and gave Sid that look of challenge he knew so well: Prove it to me. Show me what you’ve got. Sid shied from it, but Geno was still an unmoving, unshakeable presence at his side. Sid cleared his throat. “I guess I, uh. I’m having a hard time. With Flower.”
A pause. “Flower?”
“He’s going to the new Vegas team, probably. I don’t think he’s really telling people yet, so, uh, don’t spread it around.”
Geno was quiet for a while. He shifted a little closer and pulled Sid into his arms, and Sid let his face rest against Geno’s shoulder. His eyes felt hot. “Fuck, Geno.”
Geno smoothed a hand down Sid’s back and breathed with him, and after a few moments, the tightness Sid had been carrying in his chest at least since the locker room – maybe a lot longer than that, if he’d been paying attention – loosened. He exhaled shakily. “Fuck,” he repeated. He stepped back, and Geno let him go. “I gotta—bedtime.”
Geno retreated and left Sid to himself as Sid finished the last of his shake and rinsed out the cup, padded upstairs to brush his teeth, and finally stripped down to his boxers. Sid stretched out on top of the comforter and distracted himself with his phone.
When Geno spooned up behind him, Sid put the phone on the bedside table and switched off the light. Geno draped an arm over Sid’s side and pressed his hand to Sid’s sternum. He sighed against the back of Sid’s neck, long and warm. “Flower my friend, too, you know. I miss him, too.”
Sid found Geno’s hand in the dark and squeezed. “I know.”
“You’re not be sad alone.”
“You were just—busy,” Sid said, although that sounded wrong. “And that’s fine. You had shit going on.”
“You mean I get distract,” Geno said, sounding deeply unimpressed with this line of defense. “I don’t make you talk to me.”
“You don’t—it’s not your responsibility to make me talk to you.”
“Must be, because I forget, and then you don’t.” Geno’s tone was very gently judgmental.
“I think I forgot what it was like,” Sid admitted. “Sharing you with someone.”
Geno hummed. He stroked Sid’s chest. “Bad?”
An hour ago, Sid would instantly have assured Geno that it wasn’t. Now he took time to think about it: Geno at dinner, watching every shift of expression on Olli’s face with eagle-eyed attention. Geno antsy as Sid straightened out the sleeve of another one of Geno’s inexplicably expensive t-shirts. Geno walking into the locker room after a night at Olli’s place, smug as hell.
Sid kicking around a house that had gone a little too quiet.
Geno didn’t interrupt. His fingers wandered, carelessly tracing around Sid’s nipple until Sid absently swatted him away.
“Not bad,” Sid decided finally. “I like seeing you happy. I just—I need you, too. And I need to tell you when something’s bothering me.”
“Yes. Very good plan.”
Sid elbowed at Geno, more or less gently. “Dick.”
“Mm,” Geno said thoughtfully. Fingers trailed down Sid’s thigh with intent, but Sid caught Geno’s hand and held it.
“You never told me about you and Olli,” Sid said. “When you went over to his place. You had a good time, right?”
Geno stilled. “You want talk about? You sure?”
“You know this is my favorite part.” Well. That wasn’t entirely true. But Sid was not quite up to admitting how much the sight of Geno glowing with the flush of new romance appealed to him. “Tell me.”
Geno stroked Sid’s hip for a moment as he thought. “We start kiss as soon we get inside,” Geno began. His hand strayed south again, and this time Sid let it. “You know I don’t have to bend so far to kiss him, not like you—”
“Fuck off,” Sid said, laughing.
“He good kisser. Little bit inexperience, but he get so excited, he want to put his hands everywhere, don’t know where.”
“And I bet you were totally cool,” Sid said. “Not excited at all.” He ground his ass back against Geno and was rewarded with a groaned complaint.
“We just kiss in hallway, long time, all sloppy wet. He get so into it, I ask him, you want to come in pants?”
“You are such a shit,” Sid said. Olli could handle it, though. Sid was sure of it.
“He think about it!” Geno protested. “He all red, I think all blood not go to his dick go to his face.”
“Oh, geez.” Sid was getting the picture: a dim hallway, at most one light on, and Olli afire under the full strength of Geno’s attention. Sid knew what that was like, how the whole world could telescope until he and Geno were the only people in it.
He palmed his dick only to have Geno swat his fingers away and cup Sid himself. “Tonight I take care of you.” Geno pressed a kiss to Sid’s ear.
Sid exhaled shakily. It brought him back, suddenly, to where they’d started. He twisted back and kissed Geno’s mouth. I love you, he said, not with words but the pressure of his mouth, the slide of his tongue. After a moment, he turned over so he could face Geno and kiss him for real. Lazily, he rolled his hips against Geno’s.
Finally, breathing heavily, Sid pulled back. “And then what?”
“Mmm,” Geno grunted. It took him a few moments to respond – to drag enough attention from his dick to be able to give it to anything else, Sid judged. “He take me to bedroom. He say sorry it’s mess, he try to clean before.”
Sid tried to hold his laughter in. He shook silently, imagining it, while Geno’s fingers stroked up and down Sid’s belly. “That kid,” Sid said finally, catching his breath. Never mind that that kid was twenty-two and sleeping with Sid’s boyfriend. NHL years were like dog years.
“We kiss little more, take off our pants. Then I push him onto bed, take him in my mouth. He so surprised, Sid. His eyes get so big.” Geno fell thoughtfully silent.
“How did he taste?” Sid prompted, because sometimes Geno forgot to tell this part: the part where he came undone, where he wasn’t a self-designated sex god but a man with another person’s hands on him, another person’s dick in him.
“Little bit salt. Little bitter. Better taste than you,” Geno said. Then he yelped when Sid pinched his side, which was the whole reason Geno had said it in the first place. Sid was wise to his tricks by now. A little breathless, Geno said, “His cock—very nice size. So hot in my mouth.”
“Mmm,” Sid hummed appreciatively. “You liked it?”
Geno’s voice went soft. “I like so much, Sid.”
“Yeah,” Sid breathed. He cupped Geno’s jaw and leaned in to kiss him. Geno had a mouth made for kissing. Sid never got tired of it.
Geno pulled away after a bit. “After, he—I suck him so good, he only lie there for little while. I think maybe I take care myself. But then he ask for lube. He get too much on his hand, all messy, he don’t care. He tell me lay down next to him, and he jerk me off.”
That sounded like an idea. Sid stretched until he could grab the lube out of his bedside drawer. It was cool on his fingers. Sometimes he waited a few seconds for his skin to warm it, but tonight he immediately closed his fingers around Geno in a loose grip. Geno exhaled, slow and shaky. “I’m supposed do you,” he protested.
“In a bit.”
This never got old, either: Geno trembling and hissing with each stroke, heavy and blood-warm in Sid’s hand. Geno gasped with the effort to last a little longer. His thigh twitched under Sid’s hand.
“It’s okay,” Sid said. “Come on.”
With a deep groan, Geno let go. Come spurted thickly across Sid’s fingers. For a few moments he breathed almost in time with Geno, quick and shallow, and then he tread carefully across his pitch-black floor to the bathroom to wash off his hand. He brought back a washcloth and wiped down Geno’s stomach. He tossed the cloth in the direction of the bathroom and waited for the tell-tale smack as it hit the tile floor, and then he stretched out on the bed next to Geno. “So Olli took good care of you,” he said.
“Very good care,” Geno said sleepily. “Like you.” He flopped his hand onto Sid’s thigh and squeezed. Sid reached for his own hard-on again, and again Geno caught his hand. “My turn,” he said, determined and suddenly much more awake. “Now I take care of you. Over, on your back.”
Obediently Sid rolled over. Geno crawled down the bed and braced himself above Sid’s hips, and he took Sid into the wet, velvet heat of his mouth. Then he proceeded to remind Sid exactly what kind of care he took with the people he went to bed with.
Sid woke first. They’d fallen asleep later than they usually did after a home game, but he looked at Geno sacked out on the bed, mouth hanging open, and he didn’t regret it.
He was just stirring the sugar and cream into his coffee when Geno stumbled into the kitchen, eyes still half-closed. He lifted the coffee mug out of Sid’s hands, took a cautious sip, and then took a much longer swallow. Then he gave the mug back and muttered something in Russian that was probably impolite. “Too sweet,” he grumbled, in English, and went to pour a cup of his own.
They were running late. Sid was still working on the last bite of breakfast as he slammed the door shut on the Range Rover and turned on the ignition. As he pulled out onto the street, he said, “What are you up to this afternoon?”
It took Geno a moment to answer. Sid cast him a curious glance. “I make plans with Olli,” Geno said slowly. “But I don’t have to—I tell him another time.”
“What kind of plans?”
“Not big deal, just hang out, maybe watch movie or something. But it’s fine. I want spend time with you.”
Sid didn’t tell Geno he was fine, that Geno should keep his plans with Olli. Instead he chewed on the idea as he turned onto the highway. At the next red light, he said, “Do you think Olli would want to hang at our place, with me? Just for a movie, like you said. And you guys could go back to his after if you wanted.”
And Geno, for his part, didn’t immediately refuse. After a moment, he said, “You sure?”
“If Olli doesn’t mind sharing you, then yeah. I think it’d be fun.”
“I ask him,” Geno said thoughtfully.
Geno had to scramble as soon as they walked into the locker room. Olli was already in all his gear and in the process of pulling on his practice jersey. “Where have you been, slowpoke?” he asked Geno.
“I give you slow poke,” Geno grumbled, yanking his compression shirt over his head. Olli stared at him a moment, and then he caught Sid’s eye, eyebrows raised: Did he just…? Sid grinned across the room at Olli, and after a beat Olli grinned back, turning slowly red.
Sid still had plenty of time before practice. Muzz wasn’t even in yet; Flower sat alone in the goalie corner of the room, dwarfed by his enormous leg pads. Sid shimmied into his leggings and his jock, and then he took his socks and skates and sat in Muzz’s stall. He knocked his knee against Flower’s padded thigh. “How you doing? You going to practice your shot today?”
“Yeah, I gotta get on that, right?” Flower flashed him a smile that was warm, uncomplicated. “I still gotta score that goal. I have a new plan for how I’m going to do it, too.”
“Oh yeah? Tell me,” Sid said, and began to pull on his socks.