"You know, Sid, we do shacks in Russia too," Geno said, grinning over Sidney's shoulder at the stove.
Sidney smiled that slightly awkward smile of his, the one that came out when he felt relaxed, happy. He stirred the beans that would be their dinner, adjusting himself so that his side leaned against Geno's own. It was a small place, that was his excuse.
"Yeah, Geno," Sidney said, drawing a pull off his Molson, "but this is a Canadian shack. Unlike all other shacks in the world." Geno just laughed at him and drank his own beer.
It was Sidney's uncle's place, just a one-room cabin (if he was being generous) up outside of Lac Saint-Jean. It took two days to get there from Sidney's parents' house; Geno had come home with Sid after the playoffs were over. Geno looked tired, as tired as Sidney should have felt if he hadn't been riding injured reserve for nearly a year. He hadn't seen Geno much--there were always club events, and league events, but if Sid wasn't on the roster he wasn't required to be there. It hurt less--not his head, but his heart--if he didn't have to be in the Executive Suite at the Consol for every game, making small talk with Ray and Mario and Ron and whatever sponsors they were glad-handing that day.
It made him ashamed, a little, because he was the team's captain. But he knew the guys understood.
Geno, though, had never stopped bugging him--texts, emails, phone calls after the road games. It wasn't even that they were talking about important stuff--most of the time Geno would just tell him stories of the crazy shit the team did, Jordan putting shaving cream in Cookie's shoes, Flower setting everyone's ringtones to Lady GaGa. It made him feel like he was still part of it, even when he was driving himself crazy with only light exercise to distract him.
Going finishing with Geno, out in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception and no one asking him how his head was doing sounded like the best thing that could have happened after losing to the fucking Lightning in the first round of the playoffs. Geno fell asleep on the plane, in the car, and on the way to the lake while Sidney drove them there in comfortable silence.
The shack was just like he remembered it from when he was a kid, right near a good ice fishing hole, a generator filled with petrol and a stack of firewood right by the door. It wasn't much, but it was all Sidney wanted.
And there was only the one bed. Sidney wanted that too.
He dished up the beans and grabbed another couple of longnecks from the cooler. Geno brushed past him, maybe a little closer than he actually needed to be, and chucked another log into the stove. When he turned to Sidney, his pale skin was ruddy with heat, and he had a pleased smile on his face.
"This good idea, Sid. I like your shack," Geno said, taking a beer and clinking it against Sidney's own. He got a sly look on his face and said, "За любовь!"
Sidney smiled back, thumb picking at the label of his beer, and said, "To us."
They both drank, and sat opposite each other at the folding table in the center of the shack. The beans were okay, nothing special, but they were warm and did the trick. The wind picked up outside, and Geno's iPod played something soft and pretty that Sidney didn't recognize.
Geno put his bowl aside and scooted his chair around so he was sitting next to Sidney.
"Hi Geno," Sidney said, feeling a silly smile form on his face again. It was okay, though, because Geno had a similarly stupid one on his own face. Sidney felt like the kind of teenager he never was--nervous and hopeful because of someone else. He'd always been more interested in pucks and sticks than other people, not that there hadn't been the occasional person through the years. But with Geno...with Geno it felt like something possible.
"Hi Sid," Geno said, raising his hand to cup Sidney's face. Sidney's breath caught and he leaned into the touch slightly. The wind picked up outside and the stove crackled and popped and Sidney let his eyes slip shut.
Geno placed his hand on Sidney's jumper and pulled him close, kissing him just as the night's snowfall began outside.