Four weeks after the Pens are bounced out of the conference finals, Geno comes to a realization-- he’s really fucking bored.
At first, he thinks it's just the normal feelings of missing hockey, the team, Pittsburgh, all of that. But even after the initial moping fades, he soon realizes that all the people he wants to see are busy, and all the people who aren't busy, he doesn't really want to see. Without good company, restaurants, clubs, and all the rest of that shit quickly loses its appeal. In short, he's bored as hell and has no idea what to do about it.
That’s when Geno decides to call the one person who will actually be at all sympathetic about his shitty offseason: Sid.
“I actually wasn’t expecting to hear from you for a while,” Sid says when he first picks up. “Shouldn’t you be off exploring some tropical island?”
“Not this year,” Geno replies. “Stay at home, in Moscow.”
“That shouldn’t be too bad then,” Sid says. He’s humming, which means he’s probably making breakfast-- everybody on the team has gotten used to his out-of-tune singing as he puts together a sandwich or mans the grill. “You always like Moscow, eh? Always something to do.”
Geno shrugs, even though Sid can’t see him. “Think am bored. Of Moscow,” he admits, though not without a grimace.
“Really? Something in Russia, boring?” Sid asks. “I mean, by the way you talk, that should be impossible.”
“Not say is boring,” Geno hedges, even though that’s basically what he said. “Just say I bored. Need something to do.”
“Well,” Sid says, laughing a little, “At least you’re not driving to Suttsy’s wedding all by yourself.”
“Wait, you drive to wedding?” Geno asks, frowning. “Why?”
Sid blows out a breath, loud enough to crackle over the phone speakers. “Suttsy wanted me to bring him some things Amelia wants for the dinner service? And also bridesmaids dresses? And apparently it’s all just way too fragile to be shipped normally, and I said I’d help, so. Now I’m driving to fucking Alberta by myself. I had to come down from Cole Harbor early and everything.”
“Sucks,” Geno says, laughing.
“Hey, I am doing our teammate a favor,” Sid whines. “Besides, the drive’s not bad. I just don’t like going alone.”
“Well, maybe I go with you. I not boring,” Geno jokes.
Sid laughs. “You’d be out of Moscow,” he says, and then, “And actually making it to a wedding for once.”
Geno pauses. Two seconds ago, it was a joke, but now-- well. He would be out of Moscow, away from the same clubs and the same schedule and the same phone calls full of fussing from his mama. Sid even has a point-- he’s always missed team weddings, and it would be nice to see Suttsy and the rest of the boys.
“Yes,” he says.
Sid hums, clearly distracted. “Yes what?”
“Yes, I go on trip with you,” Geno says, already feeling more sure.
“Oh. I-- really?” Sid asks.
“Yes, really,” Geno replies, unable to keep a teasing note out of his voice, poking his tongue into his cheek. “Think I say and not mean?”
“Well,” Sid starts.
Geno clucks at him, even as he pulls up ticket sites online and starts browsing. “When should I fly in?”
“Um,” Sid says.
There’s a long pause. Geno sighs. “When you have to leave?”
“Tuesday,” Sid replies, “but you don’t have to come, it was just a --”
“I fly in Sunday,” Geno says, already clicking the relevant dates. “You get me at airport, yes?”
“I wasn’t-- you’re really coming?” Sid asks.
Geno hums at him, full of eternal thankfulness for things like autofill for his credit cards that mean he doesn’t have to go digging for his wallet. “Clicking pay, Sid. Still going to get me?”
“Yeah, yeah of course I am G, I just-- really?”
“Seriously think this about me?” Geno asks, even as he emails Sid his ticket information-- not that he really trusts Sid to check his email, but that way at least Sid has it. “Well, already buy tickets, so if not want me there--”
“No, no, I-- I’ll get you,” Sid says. There’s another long pause, and then: “I’m glad you’re coming, G.”
“I’m glad too,” Geno says. “See you soon.”
“See you," Sid says back, and hangs up.
Geno packs haphazardly the day of his flight, flinging things into bags and almost forgetting his phone charger. Ever since the phone call Sid's been texting him with reminders, including the order to bring a suit, and the projected weather in Alberta so Geno knows what kind of shorts to pack. Geno can only imagine that it's because Sid still thinks Geno’s joking, and probably will continue to think so until Geno’s actually made it to Pittsburgh International.
The flight itself is long, as they always are, and Geno sleeps intermittently in between watching horrible movies and playing endless rounds of Candy Crush. He’s groggy and dehydrated by the time they land, bleary-eyed and ready to roll into bed and sleep for a week. Making it from the gate to baggage claim is just about as much as he can handle. He’s tired enough, in fact, to almost miss Sid as he went to grab his bags, and it’s only Sid’s shouting “Hey, G!” that stops him.
When he can finally focus on Sid, he realizes that Sid looks-- good. He’s summer tan and toned, the muscles in his arms and stomach clearly visible through his t-shirt, and the way his baseball cap is tugged low over his forehead isn’t enough to disguise the way he’s grinning.
“You actually made it,” Sid says, reaching out to grab Geno’s arm and tug him in for a hug, fast enough that Geno almost doesn’t reciprocate in time. “I was kind of thinking you were fucking with me.”
“Send receipt,” Geno replies, sounding as wounded as possible. “You not believe?”
“Well,” Sid says, drawing it out and laughing a little. His eyes crinkle up. “You never know.”
“So mean,” Geno says, right before yawning in his face. “I fall asleep on you as revenge.”
“No,” Sid says, laughing and heading towards the carousel. “We’ll get your bag and you have to stay up another couple hours.”
Geno groans at that, but falls in to follow after Sid, same as always.
Thankfully it doesn’t take too long for Geno’s bag to arrive, and he’s only fading a little by the time Sid’s grabbing it. Geno makes a half-hearted protest, but Sid waves him off, shouldering the bag easily-- yet another demonstration of his summer bulk. It leaves Geno tagging along in his wake, staving off yawns and trying to avoid the businessmen and families with matching luggage sets.
“So,” Sid says as they weave their way through baggage claim, “Tomorrow I have to go and pick up the bridesmaids dresses, and the glassware.”
“Must be fancy, if have to drive,” Geno says.
Sid shrugs, glancing at Geno over his shoulder. “I mean, I don’t mind,” he says, “if that’s what Amelia wants. Besides, the drive won’t be that bad. It’s not like he lives all the way in B.C. or L.A. or something.”
“What day we leaving again?” Geno asks, following Sid to his car in the parking lot-- like Sid would leave it unattended in the pick up area, even though Geno’s fairly sure Pittsburgh would let him get away with it.
“Tuesday,” Sid says, popping the trunk on his car and sliding Geno’s bag into the back. “That way you can get over the jetlag.”
Geno yawns as he nods, sliding out his phone on autopilot to check the time. It takes him a few seconds to recognize that he has four missed calls and two voicemails-- all, it looks like, from his mama. He slides his phone back into his pocket and resolves to call her tomorrow.
“Don’t fall asleep,” Sid says, and Geno starts. “You have to make it until eight.”
“Won’t fall asleep,” Geno protests, even as he yawns again. Eight feels like a long way off, even though it’s only two hours away. Still, he knows he has to beat the jetlag somehow, and he straightens up in the passenger seat, stretching and adjusting until he feels less likely to nod off.
Sid just laughs. “Sure, G,” he says, pulling out of the parking lot and towards the exit ramp.
Geno stays awake all through the drive home only to collapse on Sid’s couch the minute he walks into the living room. “Stay here,” he mumbles into the throw pillow, ignoring Sid’s goose honk of a laugh to bury his face in the leather.
“You don’t want dinner first?” Sid asks, poking Geno in the shoulder insistently.
Geno turns his head to glare blearily at Sid, who just smiles back, unrepentant. “What for dinner?” he asks.
Sid shrugs. “Thought I’d do some grilling,” he says, glancing out the window. “Good weather for it.”
“Grill good,” Geno assents, nodding against the throw pillow. The fabric scratches against his cheek, but it seems like too much effort to try and sit up.
“You should join me on the deck,” Sid tells him, poking him in the shoulder again. “If you stay here you’ll just pass out.”
“Not pass out,” Geno says grumpily, but he follows Sid out to the back deck, collapsing onto one of the deck chairs instead. The summer sky is still bright and blue, but the sun has gone behind the line of trees, with just enough breeze to make it perfect.
“Not even helping me out, eh?” Sid says, shaking his head as he puts out potatoes and asparagus and steaks, arranging them just so on the grill. “You’re the laziest houseguest.”
“I never lazy,” Geno replies, before covering his mouth as he yawns.
Sid hums, carefully monitoring the charcoal before heading back into the kitchen. When he returns, it’s with a beer in hand, which he drinks as he leans against the railing.
“Strange to be in Pittsburgh,” Geno offers, stretching out his legs. “Not here in July often.”
Sid laughs. “Wishing you were swimming with a whale shark again?” he asks as he flips the food, which sizzles and hisses.
Geno hums. “Good to be here though,” he says finally, closing his eyes just for a second. “Best place to be.”
Sid doesn’t say anything, and Geno cracks open his eyes to find Sid back in front of the grill, dishing up everything onto a platter. “Food’s up,” he offers.
“Thanks,” Geno says, sitting up and stretching his arms above his head.
Sid glances at him and away. “I’ll get plates,” he says, and heads back inside the house, patio door shutting behind him.
Sid spends dinner catching Geno up on the life and times of virtually the entire team, thanks to Sid's inability to not keep in touch with anyone who's ever worn a Pens jersey. Soon enough Geno's been brought up to speed on how Estelle likes her baby sister, Alex's swimming lessons, and Olli and Kaspari's training regimens. Geno lets the information wash over him as he sleepily eats his steak and asparagus, picking around the zucchini that Sid insisted upon. The combination of good food, hours on a plane, and the sound of Sid’s voice as he describes how Flower broke the changing table has him nodding off in his deck chair, the last few rays from the sun warming his face as he listens.
"G," he hears, and he starts, blinking to find Sid barely six inches from him. "Don't fall asleep yet, yeah? You've got an hour to go."
Geno finds that the only way to fully express how he feels about that is to groan.
Sid just tuts back. "C'mon, up," he says, clapping Geno on the shoulder before standing up. "We can watch the Pirates game or something."
"But if baseball, I just sleep more," Geno replies - rather reasonably, he thinks.
"Three innings," Sid wheedles as he offers Geno a hand.
Geno sighs, but it’s not like he's going to actually protest. "If that what you want to watch," he finally agrees as he takes Sid’s hand and lets him pull him to standing. It takes barely any strength of Sid’s at all.
"Great," Sid says cheerfully, dropping Geno’s hand and leading them back inside.
To the surprise of nobody, Geno passes out during the fifth inning. He finds himself shaken awake after the game ends, 7-3 Pittsburgh.
"Good game?" He asks through his yawns.
Sid smiles in return, something small and soft. "Good game," he agrees. "Go sleep."
With a yawn, Geno follows Sid's orders and heads off to bed.
Geno wakes up at eight, which is simultaneously far too early and not early enough to beat Sid, who's just about to head out the door when Geno stumbles into the kitchen and towards the coffeemaker.
"Morning," Sid says, sounding far too sunny about it. "I'm going to pick up the stuff for the wedding. I'll be back in a couple hours, yeah?"
Geno waves him off, dedicated to staring down the espresso machine until it gives him what he wants.
"See you later," Sid says, sounding amused, before he leaves through the garage door.
Coffee in hand, Geno grabs his phone, scrolling through texts and emails and abruptly realizing that he never, in fact, actually called his mother back. He sets his coffee down and, already dreading the yelling, hits the call button.
Two rings later, his mama picks up. “Evgeni Vladmirovitch Malkin,” she says. Geno winces. “Where in God’s name are you?”
“Hello Mama,” Geno replies, taking a seat at Sid’s kitchen counter and leaning his head on his hand.
“You have not answered any of my calls,” his mother continues sharply. “You could have been dead in a ditch in Moscow, except for how you are not in Moscow!”
“I flew to Pittsburgh,” Geno replies, heading her off as quickly as possible.
“Pittsburgh? Why Pittsburgh? You have months, Zhenya.”
“Suttsy is getting married, and Sid has to drive to Alberta, so I said I’d go with him,” Geno explains.
“Oh, of course for Sidney you fly off in the middle of the night to America--”
“It was morning, Mama,” Geno interjects.
As if he said nothing, his mama continues, “And now you are driving across the continent? And you do this without telling anyone? How have I raised such an idiot?”
“I forgot,” Geno says, wincing. “I would have called yesterday, only I was jetlagged.”
“You forgot to tell your own mother that you are flying to another continent--”
“Mama!” Geno doesn’t mean to shout, but it does mean that his mother stops chastising him enough that he can add, “I’m fine, Mama. I’ll be back in a week or so, after the wedding. I just-- I wanted to get out of Moscow, and I haven’t been to a team wedding in a long time.”
His mama sighs loudly. “Then you should tell me when you leave, you stupid boy. You and Sidney drive safely, you hear?”
“Yes, Mama,” Geno says. “I’ll call later, okay?”
“You better,” she threatens, before hanging up.
Of course, after his mama has finished chastising him, Geno has no idea what he should be doing. After making himself some breakfast, he putters around Sid's house. He probably ought to work out, but he still feels exhausted post-flight and decides against it. That leaves him with reading one of Sid’s endless military nonfiction books or watching TV, and he had no desire to struggle through some essay about WWI. Instead, he parks himself on Sid’s couch and aimlessly goes through Netflix until he lands on Say Yes To The Dress.
Two hours later, he's in the middle of criticizing one girl's choice of an absolutely awful ballgown when he hears Sid's laugh. "You’re seriously watching this?"
Geno glances over his shoulder to give Sid his best injured expression. "What, like you not like? On your Netflix."
"It’s probably Taylor's fault," Sid protests, even as he sits down on the couch next to Geno and adds, "That dress is fucking hideous."
"Right? Too see-through," Geno says. "Is not pretty."
"She should do something more classic," Sid replies.
Geno nudges him with an elbow. "Taylor's fault?"
Sid flushes, but makes himself comfortable on the couch next to Geno, feet up on the coffee table. "Whatever," he mumbles, before he gets distracted by a bride determined to wear red to her wedding.
The rest of the day passes without anything more interesting than a switch to the Atlanta show, and then to the Pirates game when the bridal shows get to be too much for even Geno, as Sid apparently did his workout before Geno had even considered waking up. It’s the very definition of a lazy afternoon. They sit around on the couch, feet up on the coffee table and TV on in the background as Geno responds to his unanswered texts and Sid reads something that looks long and infinitely boring.
"Gonch says hi," Geno informs him.
"Tell him and the girls hi back," Sid replies.
"And Sasha says he's offended he doesn’t get to visit you," Geno says while rolling his eyes, because Sasha continues to be a moron even with a Cup win.
Sid wrinkles his nose. “Alex is an idiot,” he says, proving Geno’s point. “Why would he visit me?”
Geno shrugs and continues to scroll through his messages. “We need to do anything for tomorrow?” he asks.
Shrugging back, Sid says, “Not really. You’re packed, right?”
Geno hums in affirmation.
“Then we’re good,” Sid says decidedly. “You’re okay with getting up at seven, right?” Geno’s expression must betray how much he’s not okay with that, because Sid laughs at his pain. “I’ll get you coffee,” he promises.
“You better,” Geno says with a scowl.
At 7:23, Sid pulls them over into the Starbucks drive in. “See, I’m getting you coffee,” he says, far too cheerfully for how early it is.
Geno groans at him. “How long we drive today?” he asks, sitting back in the passenger seat of the car and tipping his head back.
“Eight hours or so,” Sid replies, handing over Geno’s coffee and taking his own with a smile for the barista. “Not so bad.”
Taking a sip of coffee, Geno rolls his eyes. “Says you,” he mumbles.
“Well, you might as well settle in,” Sid says, pulling out of the parking lot and heading for the freeway. “We’ve got a long ways to go.”
It doesn’t take long for Geno to realize that going on a road trip with Sidney Crosby is much like doing anything with Sidney Crosby-- scheduled, orderly, and routine. He has CDs of boring audio books and maps in the glove box and everything timed just so.
“We stop already?” Geno asks, watching as Sidney pulls into a gas station, parking the car and killing the engine.
Sid looks at him like Geno should know better. “Well, yeah,” he says, even as he unbuckles his seatbelt.
Geno just looks back, flat and even, and waits.
Rolling his eyes, Sid says, “It’s been two hours, G. You gotta take a stretch break, get the blood flowing.”
“Sure,” Geno says, even as Sid looks pointedly at his seatbelt, still securely fastened. With a sigh, he unbuckles, earning himself a satisfied little nod from Sid’s side of the car.
The air outside is sticky hot, and the couple minutes it takes to get from Sid’s car into the gas station is enough to make Geno feel sweaty and overheated. The cold from the AC inside starts out as a relief-- that is, until it quickly drops down to practically freezing. Within a couple minutes, Geno’s following Sid down the snack aisles, crossing his arms and shivering.
“Fucking cold in here,” he mutters, a few steps behind Sid as he finally stops to contemplate the candy bars.
“You’ll get over it, you big baby,” Sid says cheerfully, bending down to examine the lower shelves. Geno tracks the bend of his back, all the way down to Sid’s ass-- and then quickly glances at the ads by the walk-ins, which are much safer. “Besides, it’s time to pick out snacks. That’s the best part of road trips.”
“Of course,” Sid says with a laugh, glancing up at Geno from where he’s bent over. “The whole point of road trips is you get to eat all the shit that’s bad for you.”
“So you get Reese’s,” Geno replies, nodding at the candy Sid’s been staring at.
“Yep.” Sid stands up straight, candy in hand, and raises his eyebrows. “You going to get something?”
Geno shrugs and folds his arms even tighter, trying not to shiver. “Not know. Not hungry.”
“Well, you won’t eat it now,” Sid says. “You save it for later.”
Geno nods towards the candy. “How long you save that?”
“Fuck off,” Sid says, grinning. “Well, I’ll go pay. Hurry up, or else I’ll leave you behind.”
“You not do that,” Geno says, letting a little smugness slide into his voice. “Be lonely.”
“Sure,” Sid says, before turning and heading for the register. For a second, Geno just watches his ass-- and then he jerks himself out of it and heads for the chips. He needs to watch himself.
When Geno slides into the passenger seat, bag of pretzels in hand and sunglasses back on, Sid starts up the car. “Get lost in there?” he asks, waiting until Geno buckles up before pulling out.
“You still not leave behind,” Geno replies, leaning back in his seat and looking out the window as they pull onto the on ramp, grinning at the view.
The other thing Geno didn’t realize about this road trip was that most of the middle of America is just-- boring. The only distraction from flat fields and long horizons is Sid’s audiobooks, which he lets Geno pick from after Geno flatly refuses to learn about military history.
After minutes of debate, he finally lands on the Harry Potter books. “Oh hey,” Sid says as the music starts. “I haven’t read these in-- God, forever, it feels like.”
“Never really read,” Geno says, laughing at Sid’s expression.
“How did you not?” Sid asks, shaking his head. “Taylor and I both read them all.”
“Just not read!” Geno replies, sitting back in his seat and crossing his arms.
“You’ll be hooked,” Sid promises, looking over at Geno and laughing. “Just you wait.”
“We’ll see,” Geno promises right back, and settles in to listen.
By the time they pull over for lunch, Geno is, reluctant though he is to admit it, totally hooked. “Shh,” he whispers when Sid starts asking where they should eat. “Need to see which house Harry in.”
“You’re ridiculous,” Sid mutters back, but picks a Subway in the name of being somewhat healthy.
“Interrupting,” Geno chastises, hoping that Harry won’t be sorted into Slytherin, since clearly it isn’t the right place for him.
“Ridiculous,” Sid repeats, pulling into the parking lot and parking the car. Still, he waits until Harry’s safely at the Gryffindor table before he cuts the engine.
“You not tell me is so good,” Geno replies, following Sid out of the car and into the restaurant. “Keep from me for so many years.”
“How did you never read Harry Potter though?” Sid asks, heading for the counter. “I read them, and then Taylor and I read them together.”
Geno shrugs as he looks at the menu. “Read other stuff," he replies. "Never think about it."
"Well, it's never too late to get hooked," Sid says. "Now you know what half my childhood was like-- road trips and Harry Potter."
“Other half hockey, of course,” Geno teases.
It startles a laugh out of Sid, loud and honking. “Yeah,” he says, still giggling. “Of course. I guess then you know all of it. Or at least all the important parts, anyways.”
Geno laughs too, watching Sid smile at him as they wait in line, because not much is better than knowing Sid, even if it’s just by listening to a children’s book or sitting in a car for a day or two.
They stop right around seven somewhere in Indiana, or at least that’s where Geno thinks they are-- though with Sid behind the wheel, there’s no knowing for sure. Sid takes them straight to the Best Western, heading towards the desk while Geno straggles along behind him. Geno’s starving, lunch long forgotten, not to mention tired. Leaning his elbow on the counter, he yawns, hand covering his mouth, and tries to concentrate on Sid’s careful negotiations with the hotel receptionist, who looks at them interestedly.
“Single?” she asks, tapping at her keyboard and flicking her bangs out of her face. Her hair is bright red, the kind that comes from a box.
“Double, actually,” Sid replies, with a quick look over at Geno.
“Oh,” says the receptionist, giving them both a surprised look before turning back to her computer. “Two queen sized, then?”
“Please,” Sid says, giving a quick smile and passing over his credit card.
As the receptionist runs the card, Geno leans over to nudge Sid with an elbow. He mutters, “You not have to pay.”
Sid just nudges him back “It’s fine, G. I got this.” Then he turns back the desk, taking his card and, with a couple of enthusiastic recommendations from the receptionist, a list of restaurants in town.
After checking into their room, Sid tossing a bag on the bed by the window and Geno taking the other with a minimum of grumbling, Sid stands between their beds and stretches his arms above his head. The hem of his t-shirt rides up, displaying a strip of his stomach, summer tan and toned. Geno quickly glances away.
“Dinner?” Sid asks, shrugging as he lets his arms swing down, and Geno nods. He could do with some food, or more accurately, a distraction.
“Walk there?” he asks, pulling open his bag and rooting around for his wallet. “Stretch legs, stop sitting around, getting fat.”
“Sure,” Sid says, adjusting his baseball cap and grabbing the room keys. “I’m sure a walk could do us good.”
The air outside is still hot and sticky with summer humidity, though Geno’s sure it will cool down after the sun goes down. As they head towards the main drag, he can hear the buzz of insects and the sound of cars, and his t-shirt sticks to his back. Still, the walking feels good after hours in the car, and he and Sid easily find one of the restaurants the receptionist recommended.
The place they go for dinner is nothing special, just burgers and fries and laminated menus. Still, Geno watches Sid stare down the menu, lips pursing as he looks at his options.
“Big decision,” Geno teases, laughing as Sid glares at him.
“I’m trying to figure out how much I want to stay on diet,” Sid shoots back.
“You, eat on diet? Big shock,” Geno says, poking his tongue out as he sets his menu down on the laminate.
“Whatever,” Sid says, rolling his eyes but ruining it by smiling. “I think I’ll have the chicken.”
“Change mind once waitress gets here. Have burger,” Geno predicts, just to watch Sid smile wider, eyes crinkling as he shakes his head.
“No, I’m going to have the chicken,” Sid insists. “If we’re driving, then I can’t spend the whole time cheating on my diet.”
Geno snorts. “Thought eating bad was point of road trip,” he says, kicking Sid lightly on the ankle. “That what you say at rest stop.”
“Well, I lied,” Sid says, nudging Geno back under the table. “It only counts in the car.”
“Oh, just in car,” Geno replies, rolling his eyes. “Then we order dinner, eat in car. Problem solved.”
“You’re ridiculous,” Sid says even as he laughs.
“I best,” Geno says, feeling warm as he watches Sid’s eyes crinkle up. Sid just looks back, still grinning slightly crookedly. Geno knows that normally by now, he would have looked away, or said something, but he finds himself staring, watching Sid smile at him and unable to resist the urge to smile back.
“Can I get you boys something?” Geno hears, and he looks up to find a middle-aged waitress looking at them expectantly, pen hovering over her notepad.
Shaking himself out of it, Geno orders his Western burger, handing over the menu and watching as Sid goes through his final debates. Finally, with a sigh, Sid says, “Can I have a cheeseburger?”
Geno grins and sticks his tongue out, knocking his foot into Sid’s ankle again. Rolling his eyes, Sid doesn’t look back, but Geno can see the smile playing around the corners of his mouth. The warm feeling stays.
At seven, Geno’s rudely awakened by the sound of Sid’s alarm, which rings insistently until Sid shuts it off. It’s soon followed by the sounds of Sid rolling out of bed and the bathroom door slamming shut, and then the pipes groaning as the shower starts running. It’s loud enough that Geno shoves his head under the pillow, chasing just a few more minutes of being blissfully unconscious.
He’s cruelly woken back up when Sid tosses back the covers, apparently not caring about Geno’s warmth, or sleep, or anything. “Time to get up,” he says far too cheerfully. “We need to be on the road by eight.”
Geno groans at him.
“Come on,” Sid says, totally unrepentant. “I’ll buy you coffee.”
“Coffee not always work,” Geno mumbles back, slowly sitting up and rubbing his eyes.
“When it doesn’t, I’ll find something else that does,” Sid replies. “You gonna get up now?”
“Fuck off,” Geno says, swinging his feet over the edge of the bed and carefully standing up. “You buy me all the coffee.”
“I’ll buy you all the coffee,” Sid promises with a laugh.
By the time they finally make it into the car and in line for coffee, Geno gets a front seat to Sid’s debate over which route to take. “Is there any way we can not drive through Chicago?” he asks, rubbing his eyes as they pull through the drive through, waiting for caffeine and happiness.
“Not really,” Geno replies. “Not want to, but no better way.”
Sid sighs. “I fucking hate driving through there,” he says. “Fucking traffic.”
“Think you get lost? Make wrong turn?” Geno asks, double checking the directions to get onto I-90.
Sid rolls his eyes and says, “I won’t get us lost.”
Geno rolls his eyes right back. “I double check directions,” he says, grabbing a pen from the center console and circling the steps from the Google Maps directions, twice. Just to be sure.
Thanks to a small miracle and no small part of Geno’s far better sense of direction, they make it through Chicago unscathed, and enter Wisconsin before noon. “Thank God,” Sid says as they cross the state line. “Cheese is way more doable than Chicago traffic.”
“Cheese?” Geno asks as he sorts through the Harry Potter CDs, trying to find the next disc so they can learn about what will happen with Hagrid’s dragon.
“Wisconsin’s famous for it,” Sid says absently. “God, could this guy go any slower?”
“First Chicago, now cheese country?” Geno asks, looking up to find Sid passing what, he has to agree, looks like the slowest van Geno’s ever seen. “Suttsy better buy us all the beer. Owe us all the favors.”
“True,” Sid says with a laugh. “I guess Amelia just wants everything to be perfect. I don’t know-- it seems like a lot just for one day to need special order glasses and custom dresses.”
“Most important day of life,” Geno says, leaning back in his seat. “Supposed to be beautiful. Romantic. Okay if want to be special.”
“But custom glasses?” Sid asks with a laugh.
Geno shrugs back at him. “Most special,” he suggests.
“I suppose,” Sid says. Geno watches him wrinkle his nose. “I just-- I don’t know. Maybe I’d think differently if it was me, but that won’t happen any time soon.”
“Why not?” Geno asks. “You date. Not hideous.”
“Thanks,” Sid says, glancing quickly over at Geno and laughing again. It makes the corners of his eyes crease. “No, I mean-- I just haven’t found someone who gets me, you know? Someone who wants the same things, has the same values. All of that.”
“Shouldn’t be so hard,” Geno says. He thinks he should maybe stop staring at Sid, but. It’s hard not to sometimes. “You good person. Good-- good heart. Someone see that, know you, know you best.”
Sid opens his mouth, pauses. “I hope so,” he says finally.
“I know so,” Geno says confidently-- Sid hates being by himself, and there’s no way he’d settle for loneliness. He’ll find someone who will stay with him, who will appreciate everything that he is, idiosyncrasies and routines and obsessions and all. Geno’s sure he will, because he can’t even picture Sid ending up alone.
There’s a long pause as they pass more cars, Sid watching the road and Geno watching Sid. Finally, Sid says, “So, Harry Potter?”
“Yes, yes,” Geno says, sliding the disc in and settling back into the passenger seat, coffee in hand and ready to hear what happens with Norbert.
They stop for dinner in the Twin Cities, Sid bringing the map into the restaurant and staring down routes. He doesn’t even look up for the waiter, so Geno takes the opportunity to order him a steak.
“Okay,” Sid says, staring down the maps and checking the time on his phone, “I think if we keep going at this pace, we can reach Fargo before ten.”
“Fargo?” Geno asks, taking a sip of his water. “Like TV show?”
Sid nods, tracing freeways with his fingertip and checking the time again. Geno pushes his water glass closer to him. “I was thinking if we stop there, then tomorrow will be less of a long day. That gives us plenty of time for the border crossing too.”
“Where we drive tomorrow then?” Geno asks.
“Regina,” Sid answers, finally folding up the maps and sliding them to the side. “Did you order for me?”
“Got you steak,” Geno confirms, laughing at Sid’s expression. “Figure, your favorite, easy choice.”
“I’m not that predictable,” Sid replies, frowning.
With a shrug, Geno replies, “Kind of are. Is okay, makes order for you easier.”
“Fuck off,” Sid says easily, finally drinking some water. “How fast do you think they’ll serve us? I’m starving.”
Ten minutes later, they’re presented with their food. Sid makes a truly pornographic noise as soon as he eats his first bite of steak. Geno feels his ears burn as he asks, “Choose okay then?”
“Yeah, you did great,” Sid mumbles, cutting off another bite. Geno quickly busies himself with his chicken.
They order after dinner coffee, though Sid looks longingly at the dessert menu, and sit around sipping it for another ten minutes. Sid doesn’t even check the time once, instead tipping his head back against the wall of the booth and sighing.
“How much driving we have left?” Geno asks, taking a huge gulp of coffee and wincing slightly at the burn.
“Couple hours,” Sid says, eyes fluttering shut. He looks like he’ll fall asleep right in the booth.
“Let me drive?” Geno asks. “Not like I terrible.”
“Just speedy,” Sid replies. Finally he cracks open his eyes. “Okay,” he says, “but only if you go only like, five over the speed limit.”
“Promise,” Geno replies.
Five miles out from Minneapolis, Geno glances over to find Sid asleep in the passenger seat, head against the window and baseball cap tugged low over his face. Carefully, he pushes the car up to 77 mph and follows the signs to Fargo, with only the sounds of Harry Potter and Sid’s soft snoring to keep him company.
The next morning they’re just leaving Fargo, Geno still buried in his coffee, when Sid says, “I’m sorry about how the season ended.”
Geno blinks and turns, looking over at Sid. Sid stares steadfastly forward, the tightening of his hands on the steering wheel the only indication that he said anything.
“Not your fault,” Geno finally replies. “Go out in conference final-- not so bad.”
“I know, I just--” Sid sighs, flexes his fingers. “I wish we could have done better this year.”
“Always wish could have done better,” Geno says. “Still not your fault.”
Sid sighs again, long and low. On the radio, someone plays the guitar, quietly plucking strings. “Sometimes I think it is.”
Geno sits up straight and turns to fully look at Sid. “No,” he says quickly, barely thinking about the words. “That not--”
“I know, G,” Sid says, “I know. We all play as a team, but-- sometimes I think, if only I had done better, then maybe we would’ve gotten the Cup. You know?”
“Not your fault,” Geno says, as fiercely as he knows how. “Yes, wish we win more, wish we win always, but not-- you best, Sid. You always best.”
Sid laughs, but it isn’t his normal laugh. It sounds sadder somehow, like he doesn’t really mean it. “You keep saying that,” he says, “but-- sometimes I don’t believe it.”
“Have to believe it,” Geno says, “because true.” It’s one of the truest things he knows, bone deep, like the color of the sky in Magnitka in summer, like the rush of joy when a perfect shot hits twine. The sky is blue, ice is cold, and Sid is the best.
Sid drives in silence for a while, fingers continuing to flex and tighten around the wheel, like he’s itching to do something but had no idea what. They pass three miles before he finally says, “Thank you.”
“Of course,” Geno says. “Always here to get head out of ass.”
Sid laughs again, but this time it sounds better, like he means it.
Another few miles of road pass by, the asphalt shimmering under the sun. Sid starts humming along to the radio under his breath, horribly off-key. Geno leans against the door and listens, the glass of the window warm under his head and his coffee hot in his hand.
The silence fills up the car, the only disturbance the tinny sound of the radio, but it’s not bad, not at all. Geno knows how he and Sid go like he knows passing drills or how to skate. Talking to Sid is the easiest language he’s ever had to learn, every conversation as clear as the ones he has with his mother over the phone. There’s a rhythm to it, an understanding of pauses and platitudes and unsaid things and every part of it makes sense.
It makes this easy, is the thing. With other people Geno doesn’t know if he could sit through the silence that stretches out as they go mile after mile, but with Sid it’s comfortable, like putting on an old sweater. Sid’s happy to talk or not talk, and Geno knows when to do either.
For now, Sid seems happy just to drive, fingers drumming on the steering wheel, baseball cap shading his eyes. Geno watches his head bob as the radio quietly plays some pop song he doesn’t know. Sid’s hair is still long enough to curl out from under his hat. It looks very soft. Geno wants to wind it through his fingers
The thought is startling, and Geno sits up, knocking his knees into the glove box.
“You okay?” Sid asks, and Geno looks over to find Sid glancing at him.
“Is fine, am fine,” Geno says, straightening out his legs and putting on his aviators. He sneaks another glance at Sid, at the hair softly falling over the back of his neck.
The impulse to touch it strikes again, and Geno turns his head away, looks out the window at flat green fields. He shuts his eyes, basking as the sun warms the side of his face.
If it weren’t for the fact that they were currently driving through it, Geno wouldn’t quite believe that North Dakota is a real place. As it is, he can’t see why anyone would ever want to live there, because there’s nothing to look at at all.
“This hell,” Geno says, glaring out the passenger side window. It’s another field, one that looks identical to the one they just passed. Everything is flat and yellow and completely uninteresting.
“I’m sure the farming here is important,” Sid offers, in his best media voice for when he’s contractually obligated to say something stupid.
“All look exact same. How you know is your corn?” Geno asks, looking over at Sid’s profile. He still drives perfectly even though nobody else is on the highway, ten and two, looking straight ahead. His hair is curling under the brim of his baseball cap. “What if forget which field yours, and which field boring neighbor’s?”
“Geno,” Sid says, like he’s about to admonish him, but then stops with a sigh. “Yeah, it’s not the most interesting.”
Geno grins and leans back in his seat, crossing his arms. “See? Am right. You agree,” he says, watching Sid out of the corner of his eye. He can see it when Sid can’t fight back a smile any longer, the corner of his mouth pulling up just so. It’s good to see.
“Still,” Sid says, voice dropping off as he keeps driving.
“Hope we see cow soon,” Geno says, letting his head fall to the side so he can stare out the window at the sea of yellow nothingness. “Cow cute.”
“I’d rather not. They smell.” Geno can tell Sid’s nose is wrinkled just by the sound of his voice.
“Bad smell not mean not cute,” Geno informs him.
“Whatever you say,” Sid says, humming as he passes a lone semi truck.
Geno laughs under his breath, leans back his seat. “Am right,” he says. “Wake me up if cow?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Sid says. Geno can see the corners of his mouth curving up. “I’ll wake you up for cows.”
“Best,” Geno informs him before shutting his eyes. He can hear Sid laughing before he flips on Harry Potter-- Ron has just showed up in Harry’s window in a flying car, and the narrator’s voice fills the car as the sun warms his face.
Around mid-afternoon, they finally reach the Canadian border, which Geno only realizes when Sid shuts off Harry Potter. “What you do for?” he asks, disgruntled.
“Your passport’s handy, right?” Sid asks.
Geno glances up to see the border sign. “Oh,” he says, and twists in his seat to dig through his bag. “We get to Canada already?”
Sid hums and carefully drives up towards the line for the border crossing. “Just about.”
Half an hour later, they’re finally at the kiosk, where the customs official checks over their passports carefully. “Sidney Crosby, eh?” he says after asking if they have goods to declare, handing back Sid’s passport and taking Geno’s. “And Evgeni Malkin? Where are you two off to?”
“Friend’s wedding,” Sid says easily, sliding his own passport into the glove box.
“Lucky friend,” the guy says, handing back Geno’s passport. “Drive safe, you hear?”
“We will,” Sid replies. Geno gives him a short wave.
As they head out past the border, Sid takes in a deep breath. “Welcome to Canada,” he says cheerfully, grinning at the scenery.
“Not so impressive,” Geno says, glancing at the flat fields in front of them. “Look like America.”
“Shut your face,” Sid says cheerfully. “This is my homeland we’re talking about.”
“Just say, look like last farms,” Geno teases. “Not so special.”
“You’ll see,” Sid says, glancing over at Geno and grinning. “I’ll show you. This is something special.”
“Whatever Sid say,” Geno replies. “I believe when I see.”
“Don’t worry,” Sid says. “I’ll find something. Just you wait.”
“Better be really good,” Geno says, pushing at the play button on the CD player and leaning back in his seat, sunglasses sliding down his nose. Next to them, fields stretch out forever, the grass waving in the wind and the sun beating down through their windows. Geno closes his eyes and listens to the narrator describe a Quidditch game, warm and bored and sun-tired.
They reach Regina in the evening, after what feels like a million more miles of farms and fields, and definitely not anything special enough to warrant Sid’s enthusiasm. After finding a hotel and checking in, they go to some dive bar on the outskirts of town. It’s more than a little bit sketchy, with sticky counters and dim lighting, but it’s just out of the way enough that no one will recognize them despite the fact that they’re in Canada with one of its national heroes.
“Well, if you don’t say anything, they won’t know,” Sid says, taking a long pull of his beer and glaring at Geno across the sticky bar table.
“No, Sid, am going to yell to whole bar. Guess who here?” Geno replies, poking his tongue out of the corner of his mouth and rolling his eyes. “We both want to drink in quiet.”
They do just that for a few minutes. Geno’s made plenty of headway on his beer when Sid interrupts the silence by saying, “It’s nice out, eh?”
Geno shrugs and takes another sip of beer. “We in a bar, Sid,” he points out. “Can’t see outside.”
“It’s real warm though,” Sid protests, leaning forward, hands curled around his glass. “I bet the sky is clear, too.”
“So?” Geno shrugs again and holds onto his own beer, elbows on the sticky table. “Just stars. Nothing special.”
“Nothing special?” Sid says, sounding far more outraged than he should. Geno blames the beer. “But there’s stars, G.”
“Yes, Sid,” Geno says kindly. “Stars same everywhere. Not need to go look at them.”
“I’m going to show you some real stars,” Sid says firmly, with that stubborn tilt of the head that means he won’t be taking no for an answer.
“All stars real stars,” Geno says, raising his eyebrows at Sid over his beer.
Sid scoffs, taking a sip of his beer and shaking his head at Geno. “You only say that because you grew up in cities,” he says. “Out here, there are real stars.”
“Sure, sure,” Geno says dismissively, laughing and taking a sip of his own drink. “You want so bad, we go see real stars.”
“Fine,” Sid replies, draining the last of his beer and pushing his chair back with a screech. “Come on, then.”
“What, now?” Geno asks, sitting back even farther in his chair and staring up at Sid.
Sid just looks back, steady and bright-eyed and grinning. “Yeah, now, G,” he says, shaking his head like Geno should have known. Maybe Geno should have.
“Let me finish beer,” Geno says, tipping the glass back. “Then you show me.”
They drive out a ways, past the hotel and the bar, out to the fields. Geno doesn’t quite know where they’re going, and he thinks maybe he should try to keep track, in case Sid forgets the way back. But after the backroads he decides that Sid has things well in hand, or at least enough that they probably won’t be lost in the Canadian wilderness.
Finally they pull off the highway and down some side road, Sid pulling off and parking next to the asphalt. “This should be good,” he says, and he leads Geno out past the road onto what looks like--
“Sid,” Geno asks, even as he follows Sid down a hill, “this a golf course?”
“Country club,” Sid says, “but yeah. Flat and wide, eh?”
“Trespassing?” Geno says, following Sid past what has to be a sand trap. “Should call police, get you arrested for real.”
“Oh my god, fuck off,” Sid says, even as he laughs. “Come on, this should be good.” With that, he sits down right in the middle of the green, splaying out on his back. When Geno doesn’t immediately sit, he says, “Come on, get down already!”
“I come, I come,” Geno mutters, slowly getting down to the grass and laying next to Sid. The grass is wet beneath his back, and he’s perfectly prepared to stand right back up again when Sid reaches out, one hand trapping his arm against the ground.
“Look,” Sid says, but Geno can’t think about looking, not with Sid’s hand warm against his arm. “Up there.”
Finally, Geno looks, and he sees-- stars. They’re everywhere, littered across the sky, like someone spilled them like salt on a counter. There isn’t a single cloud to hide them. The moon is bright too, half full and glowing, and the light of it falls right on Sid’s face. Geno watches him smile as he reaches up, his hand pointing towards the lights.
“Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Yes,” Geno says, looking at Sid’s hand, the way his fingers trace the sky. “Beautiful.”
Sid sighs. “I used to do this with my dad, in the summer.” He sketches out another constellation, fingers flicking from star to star. “He’d laugh at me for forgetting them all, but I know enough, anyways.”
“What names?” Geno asks, watching his fingers flick from star to star, the light peeking out between the gaps.
“That one, that’s the Big Dipper,” Sid says, pointing up. “Part of Ursa Major -- the Great Bear. It has the North Star -- the bright one there, see?”
Sid looks at him, and Geno almost wants to say something. He doesn’t, though. Even with the crickets chirping and the sound of birds’ wings flapping in the darkness, it feels wrong to say anything, to shatter the silence they’ve carved out for themselves. Instead he watches Sid blink, the way the moon illuminates the curve of his cheek. It isn’t the first time he’s found Sid to be beautiful, but it feels -- more, somehow. Like this is the first time he wants Sid to know that this is how he sees him.
He reaches out slowly, like one does with a startled horse. He almost doesn’t believe when his hand finds Sid’s skin if it weren’t for the warmth under his fingers.
“Geno,” Sid says, quiet, hushed.
“Sid,” Geno says, and then without thinking he leans in, close enough to share a breath. Sid inhales sharply, and Geno kisses him.
People have always told Geno he’s impulsive, maybe a little too much. “I wish you’d look before you leap,” Anna had said during one of their arguments towards the end, and Geno can recognize that it’s true. He does things that feel right and doesn’t always think about what happens after. But skating out on the ice had felt right, and getting on a plane in Helsinki had felt right, and now, out here in the middle of fucking nowhere, kissing Sidney Crosby feels right. Even though he’s awkwardly twisted to hover over Sid, even though his neck hurts and the grass is scratching his legs, Sid’s lips are soft and warm and good.
Sid leans back, panting a little through his mouth. Geno shifts to better bear his weight on his arm, and watches Sid lick his lips. “Geno,” Sid says softly, “Geno, you--”
“You not want?” Geno asks, equally quiet. “If you not want, we not do.”
“No, no, I--” Sid huffs out a breath. “I just-- you haven’t wanted this before.”
Geno shrugs awkwardly. “No,” he says, because it’s true.
“I-- I have,” Sid says. The grass rustles as he turns his head to look past Geno. “I didn’t think you ever would, so, I moved on. Mostly. But.”
Geno waits, but Sid doesn’t continue. “But,” he prompts.
Sid sighs and shifts, looking back at Geno, eyes bright even in the dark. “Do you?” he asks. “Want this?”
Geno nods. He says, “Yes.”
“Oh,” Sid says, and then he grabs the back of Geno’s neck and pulls Geno down to meet him.
If before was good, this is better. Sid’s lips move under Geno’s, slow and sure. His fingers are tight on the back of Geno’s neck, twisting in the fine hair at the nape, one thumb resting just behind Geno’s ear. When he kisses Geno, it’s hard, and solid, tugging at Geno’s lip with his teeth. Geno wonders if Sid can feel how fast his heart is beating, if he can tell how much Geno wants him just by the thud of his heartbeat or the way his fingers flex around Sid’s arm.
Eventually, supporting himself on his elbows is too much, and Geno has to roll back onto the grass, breathing hard. He almost wants to laugh at the absurdity of it-- they’re in the middle of Saskatchewan, at a fucking golf course, and he just kissed Sidney fucking Crosby. Even better, Sid actually kissed him back. Instead, however, he finds Sid’s hand with his own, lacing their fingers together. It’s almost funny how relieved he feels when Sid grips his hand tight.
“Do you-- should we--” Sid stutters, “Do we need to head back?”
“Like to not be wet from grass, so yes,” Geno says, turning his head to look at Sid again, because now that he has permission he doesn’t think he knows how to stop.
“Okay,” Sid says. “Okay.” He doesn’t let go of Geno’s hand.
All throughout the drive back to the hotel, Geno can’t stop glancing at Sid, staring at the lines of his face, his hands around the wheel, the curve of his shoulders. Every once in a while Sid glances back, smiling slightly as he drives them back. When they reach the hotel, Geno stands too close to Sid in the elevator, lets their shoulders bump together. Then, Sid smiles wider, eyes crinkling in the corners as they go up to the third floor.
Still, Sid’s yawning by the time Geno’s opening up the hotel room, looking like he might drop any second. “We should probably go to bed,” he says ruefully. “We’ll have to get up pretty early.”
“Is okay,” Geno says, shrugging. “We just sleep.”
Sid flushes, but smiles, something sweet and sleepy. “Okay,” he says, before pulling off his shirt and shorts and crawling under the covers. For a few seconds, Geno stands there, before Sid makes an impatient noise and gestures to the bed. “Come on then,” he says.
“Oh,” Geno says stupidly, before hitting the light switch, taking off his own clothes, and following.
Even as he crawls under the covers, however, he still feels a sharp pang of doubt. “Sid,” he whispers into the dark. “This good, yes?”
“Mmhmm,” Sid hums. His voice is very near. “‘s good.”
“Good,” Geno says, and then, because it’s too tempting not too, he finds Sid’s face in the dark and smacks a kiss to his cheek. “Good,” he repeats as he settles back onto his side of the bed, and then he finally drifts off to sleep.
They arrive in Red Deer in the late afternoon, pulling up at Suttsy’s parents’ house and parking right by the porch. As soon as they stop, Geno hops out of the car, stretching his arms above his head and rising up on his toes.
“Hey!” he hears, and he turns to find Suttsy on the front porch and heading down the steps. “You two didn’t get arrested or anything?”
“Almost,” Sid shouts, getting out a little more slowly. “Geno was going to go eighty over the border.”
“Lies,” Geno says, heading up towards the porch and giving Suttsy a hug. “Congrats, by the way.”
“Thanks,” Suttsy says, grinning widely. He then turns to yell inside the house. “Amelia? Your fancy glasses have made it!”
A minute later, Amelia emerges from the house and immediately engulfs Geno in a huge hug. Geno half remembers her from some of the wives and girlfriends events -- tiny, with dark hair, dark eyes, and a kilowatt smile -- but he’s pretty sure this is the first time they’ve interacted for longer than twenty seconds, which is why he’s not quite sure how to react to her hugging him tight enough to break his ribs. “Thank you so much,” she gushes, pulling away to beam at him. “I know it was a long drive for you guys and I want you to know Brandon and I appreciate it so much.”
“It wasn’t any trouble,” Sid says. “Do you want us to get everything out for you?”
“Oh, I got it,” Amelia says, letting go of Geno to hug Sid too. “You guys know where you’re staying?”
“Oh, we’ll get a hotel room,” Sid says, glancing at Geno over Amelia’s head as she probably tries to crush his ribs too.
“And we’ll see you all tomorrow, yes?” Amelia asks, finally letting Sid go and heading for the trunk. “Ooh, my glasses!”
“Tomorrow, yes,” Geno agrees. “Now we think sleep, though.”
“Sleep?” Amelia asks around the boxes, which are almost high enough to hide her face entirely. “It’s five in the afternoon! I don’t think I’ll sleep until midnight tomorrow.”
“She’s had a lot of coffee,” Suttsy admits, grinning at her. “Probably too much.”
“No, just enough,” Amelia retorts, heading up the steps. “Can you get the dresses, babe?”
“Sure thing,” Suttsy says. Sid goes around to hand him the box, which he takes with a grin. “You guys want anything? Drinks? Coffee?”
“Buy us beer later,” Geno says, sticking out his tongue. “You have lots to do.”
“Later,” Suttsy agrees. “Shame you missed out on drinks with the guys today, eh?”
“Well, we had to cross Canada,” Sid says. “I’m sure we’ll make up for it tomorrow.” He claps Suttsy on the back and jerks his head towards the car. “Dinner, G?”
“Please,” Geno says, giving Suttsy and Amelia one last wave, and heads back into the car.
The wedding is, of course, beautiful. Suttsy cleans up nicely, Amelia looks gorgeous, and more than a few people in the audience -- hockey players included -- start sniffling. Even Geno feels a little teary when Amelia almost bursts into tears in the middle of giving her vows, and Sid surreptitiously wipes his eyes at the end of the pew.
After the wedding, they head back to the Sutter farm, where in the back there are lights strung up and tables out under the open sky. There’s a dance floor in a tent, an open bar by the back porch, and of course, Amelia’s glasses, glittering under the lights -- everything ready for what seems to be a great reception.
Suttsy and Amelia run the receiving line right on the back porch, with Amelia hugging everyone and Suttsy looking almost stunned with happiness. Geno’s one of the first few people to congratulate them, shaking Suttsy’s hand and finding his ribs getting crushed by the bride.
“Thanks again,” Amelia gushes, hugging Geno tight and pressing a kiss to his cheek. “You two are awesome.”
“Not problem,” Geno replies, pulling back from the hug with a smile before giving Suttsy a backslap. “You happy, yes?”
“Pretty fucking happy,” Suttsy confirms, right before giving Amelia a huge soppy grin. It’s almost sickeningly cute.
After he escapes the congratulations line, Geno finds the knot of Pens, both current and former, and most of whom look like they’re considering terrorizing the open bar. Beau, who apparently brought Bort along as his plus one, already has a drink in hand and is looking suspiciously rosy-cheeked.
“G!” he says, waving his glass. “You actually made it!”
“It’s good to see you,” Paulie adds from his chair, where he’s slowly sipping his well drink like an elder statesman. Next to him, Tanger nods, even as he tries to restrain Alex from running off.
“Lots of people here,” Geno says, taking a seat next to Tanger and smiling at Alex, who beams back at him as only a four-year-old can.
“Well, you know,” Tanger says, shrugging. “Wedding.”
“We have to be here for Flat Stanley!” Beau adds, beaming and taking another gulp of his drink. “Course, we almost didn’t get here. They tried to not let me into the country.”
“Because you couldn’t find your passport, idiot,” Bort says, rolling his eyes.
“Did you and Sid have a good drive?” Paulie asks, sipping his drink and shifting away from Beau and Bort’s squabbling.
“Oh yeah, you two drove here, right?” Tanger asks, before he’s distracted by Alex’s request to leave. “No, Alex, you need to wait-- well, only if you find Maman--”
“Was good drive,” Geno says, watching Alex squirm down off Tanger’s lap and veer off towards Catherine. “Nice.”
“You’re like, the only person I know who could say that about driving with Sid,” Bort says, turning back to the table.
“Yeah, seriously,” Beau adds. “Did he have like, a million routines?”
“No, no,” Geno says, “was good. We have good time.”
“Yeah, well, you get Sid I guess,” Beau says breezily, draining the last of his drink. “Say, do you know when we get food? I’m starving.”
“In a few minutes,” Paulie says, sipping his beer. “Let them get congratulated first.”
“But that will take forever,” Beau whines. “The line is like six million people long.”
Geno turns in his chair to check out the line, and spies Sid talking to Suttsy. Sid catches his eye and smiles before turning back, and Geno feels himself grin in response without meaning to. “Not so bad,” he says. “Important, yes? Starting new life together. Deserve congrats.”
“I suppose,” Beau says, before whining, “Bort, get me another drink, yeah? These whiskey sours are delicious.”
“No can do, lightweight. Get it yourself,” Bort snaps back.
Geno keeps watching Sid, who smiles and rolls up the sleeves of his button down as he talks to Suttsy. He meets Geno’s eyes again, and his smile gets even wider and more crooked, lighting up his whole face. Geno could get lost in that smile. He thinks he’d like to see it every day, if he could. Maybe he’ll get the chance.
“I think G’s right,” Paulie says easily. “When you’re starting a life together, you can get however many congratulations you want. Special day, eh?”
“Very special,” Geno agrees absently. Sid’s still talking at Suttsy, though he looks over every once in a while. Geno should probably stop staring, but. He wants to keep looking, just a little longer.
They head back to the hotel late, after many drinks and making fun of Suttsy for being old and married, and making fun of Beau and Bort for being young and stupid. Paulie dances with one of Amelia’s nieces, and Beau dances with Amelia, who tells him that he’s far too pretty, and Geno drinks more than a few whiskey sours. By the time they’re back at the hotel, Geno’s happily tipsy and Sid is pink-cheeked from his beers, and Geno bounces onto the bed, almost ready to fall asleep right then and there.
“That was a nice wedding,” Sid says, following Geno into the hotel room and taking off his tie. The sleeves of his button down are still rolled up, and Geno kind of wants to stare at his forearms, so he does.
“Very nice,” Geno agrees, starting to unbutton his own shirt. “Amelia and Suttsy seem happy.”
“Right?” Sid says, starting on his own collar. Geno gets distracted watching his hands. “I think they’ll be happy together.”
“Very happy,” Geno yawns.
Sid smiles and sits down next to Geno, knocking their knees together. “You gonna pass out on me?” he asks, grinning at Geno.
“Ask same question,” Geno says, turning to look at Sid. “I see how many beers you have.”
“Shh,” Sid says, abandoning the project of taking his shirt off and tipping forward so their foreheads touch. “I’m not drunk.”
“You good?” Geno asks.
“Very good,” Sid says. When he blinks, his eyelashes brush against Geno’s cheek.
In the face of that, it would take someone much stronger than Geno to resist kissing Sid. He kisses back eagerly, one hand reaching up to grab the back of Geno’s neck. Geno takes the opportunity to tip them backwards, to get on top of Sid, his hand reaching to cup Sid’s cheek, thumb brushing under the corner of Sid’s eye. In response, Sid kisses harder, his other hand pulling at Geno’s shirt and trying to untuck it, but only resulting in trapping Geno in it.
“Stop,” Geno says, laughing and batting at Sid’s hands. “You get me stuck.” He sits up and works on the rest of the buttons. Sid just stares back, eyes crinkled up. “You staring,” Geno admonishes. “Could take shirt off too.”
“Oh, you want this off?” Sid teases, pushing himself up onto his elbows. “Is that it?”
“Yes,” Geno replies, frowning at him and pushing at his shirt. “Take off.”
“You could ask nicely,” Sid replies, even as he sits up the rest of the way and goes back to work on his own shirt.
“Am ask nicely,” Geno says, throwing his own shirt over-- somewhere, and leaning over to kiss Sid quick. “Am ask nicest.” He kisses Sid again, this time a little less quickly, and then he gets distracted by the immense need to bite at Sid’s lower lip.
Sid breaks away. “Okay, okay,” he gets out, breath hitching as he goes back to unbuttoning the rest of his shirt. “Since you asked so nicely.”
Geno nods. “Very nicely,” he agrees, helping Sid pull the shirt off his shoulders and tossing it aside. “Super nice,” he continues, crawling back over Sid and bumping their noses together.
“So nice,” Sid breathes, laughing, and then he yanks Geno closer, so they’re kissing again.
Kissing Sid this time is possibly even better than kissing Sid before, because this time Geno gets to touch his skin. This time he gets to run his hands all over Sid’s chest, to hear the noises Sid makes when Geno touches him just right. This time he gets to get a hand in Sid’s hair, to mess it up under his fingers, and then go back to palming Sid’s ribs. Sid is equally handsy, grabbing at Geno’s ass, and he’s also noisy, making a thousand different sounds, each one breathy and small and equally amazing. It isn’t practiced, or perfect, not in any sense, but it’s Sid, Sid under his hands and making noises into his mouth, and that’s what makes it perfect.
“You,” Sid gasps, hands roaming to pick at Geno’s belt, “You should get this off.”
“If I do, you do,” Geno replies, even as he falls back off the bed to get his pants off. Sid laughs at him, but follows, standing up just enough to get his own pants off.
There’s a minute or two of clumsy stripping, both of them tripping over their pants and boxers, but then Sid is gloriously naked, which is obviously a pretty great motivator. This time, when Geno crawls over Sid, he has what seems like acres of skin to kiss and touch and explore, not that Sid is helping him out much. Instead, Sid seems determined to make things difficult by distracting Geno with bruising kisses and hands going everywhere, which obviously Geno has to return. It’s only when Geno shoves a thigh between Sid’s legs that Sid stops, gasping into Geno’s mouth.
“Like that?” Geno mumbles, hand back to Sid’s jaw.
“Fuck,” Sid grits out, and then he grinds up against Geno, and talking quickly becomes far too much to think about right now. Geno would like to personally thank God for Sid’s thighs, and in particular for how thick they are, because it means that when Sid grabs his ass and pulls him down, his dick grinds right against Sid’s thigh. He could probably get off like this, except he’d really like to get his hands on Sid’s dick first.
Speaking of which -- he reaches down to fist Sid’s dick, and is reward by the loudest noise yet.
“Good?” Geno asks, unable to help the tiniest hint of smugness in his voice.
“Fuck you, keep going,” Sid gasps out, hands grabbing onto Geno’s shoulders and mouth against Geno’s cheek. “Just-- yeah,” he mumbles, and then he kisses along Geno’s jaw, which really seems like foul play.
Then, because it seems like a really great idea, Geno wraps his hand around both their dicks, and-- fuck. Definitely a good idea, judging by the way Sid is gasping into his ear, and by the way Geno’s own stomach feels warm and tight.
Geno’s pretty sure he can’t last much longer than a hand job anyways, but he’s also sure that he wants to see Sid come first, so after a while, he goes back to jerking Sid off alone. It earns him another desperate noise and Sid’s hand fisted in his hair. “Close?” he mumbles into Sid’s neck, and only gets a garbled noise in response.
Then he twists his thumb over the head of Sid’s dick only for Sid to make a low noise like he’s been punched, and come all over Geno’s hand. When Geno looks at him, Sid’s head is thrown back, eyes shut, hair all messed up. He’s never looked more beautiful.
Soon enough Sid bats Geno’s hand away, breathing hard. “What-- what do you want?” he asks, eyes slowly opening, one hand reaching up towards Geno’s face.
“Just-- hand? Think close,” Geno admits, even as he reflexively grinds down against Sid’s hip.
“Okay,” Sid says matter-of-factly, and then he’s licking his palm and wrapping his hand around Geno’s dick, oh fuck. It only takes a couple more pulls of Sid’s hand and Sid tugging at his lip with his teeth, and then Geno’s shuddering and coming, finally collapsing in a sweaty heap on top of Sid.
After a few minutes, Sid shoves weakly at Geno’s shoulder. “You’re crushing me,” he mumbles, pushing Geno until he rolls onto his back, and then slinging an arm around Geno’s waist and tucking his face against Geno’s neck.
“Better?” Geno asks. He should probably go get a towel and clean them up. Instead he reaches with his clean hand to pet at Sid’s hair.
“Mmm,” Sid hums, cuddling even closer.
“Better,” Geno confirms, carding his fingers through Sid’s hair, over and over, back and forth. It only takes a few minutes for him to drop off, still keeping Sid close.
“So,” Sid asks as they head back on the highway out of Red Deer, coffee in hand and cap tugged low, “When do you need to go back to Russia?”
Geno shrugs. “Not buy ticket,” he says, glancing over at Sid. The truth is, he’d stay on this side of the Atlantic for the whole summer, but. Sid might want to wait, might want to slow things down. “How long you want me around?”
Sid’s cheeks flush. “Well,” he says, then stops. “I mean. I’d like it, if you stayed for a while.”
“Want me to stay?” Geno asks.
Sid nods once. “I would,” he says, glancing over and meeting Geno’s eyes. “I do.”
The words settle in Geno’s stomach, making him feel warm. He reaches out, drapes his hand over the center console, there if Sid wants it. “Then I stay,” he replies.
“Okay,” Sid says, smiling at Geno. His right hand drifts down to link with Geno’s. “Okay.”
Geno tightens his fingers around Sid’s and turns to look out the window. As Harry Potter plays in the background, describing the crimes of Sirius Black, and the fields roll on, the warm feeling in his chest stays.