By the time Geno showed up outside Hilary’s door, she’d had a couple of days to try and get used to the idea. Success: mixed. But at least it wasn’t a shock to get home and see Evgeni Malkin standing on her welcome mat in an ankle-length wool coat and a beanie, looking furtive.
Bri and Duggy were out, thank god. Hilary took his coat and ushered him towards the couch. She opened her mouth to offer him a beer, and then she shut it again. Finally, she tried, “So, how ya feeling?”
Geno shrugged sourly. “Bored. Kind of sick sometime.”
Well, Hilary should have expected that. She rocked back on her heels. “So this is weird.”
“You not even win gold! We had loser sex.”
Hilary did not point out that at least she medaled. If one of them was going to get knocked up at the Olympics, obviously it would be Geno. “So you’re going to keep it?”
“It’s Olympic baby.”
Geno sighed an aggrieved sigh. “Should just sleep with Russian. Then at least I know for sure baby play for Russia.”
“Hey,” Hilary said, stung.
“You want your kid play for other country?”
Your kid. Okay, that was… big. That was a lot. Hilary slumped down next to Geno. “Well. No.”
Geno blew out a breath and flung himself back against the couch. His sweater pulled across his stomach, and suddenly Hilary was fixated, searching for some sign of a baby in there. Geno caught her looking and tugged at the hem. “You can’t see yet. Still very small.”
Hilary tore her gaze away. “So you feel the same? Everything’s the same?” Probably these were rude questions.
“My pants,” Geno said promptly. “They don’t fit anymore. Trainer says something about my hips, I don’t know. It’s all stupid.” He stared morosely at Hilary’s coffee table, which had several dirty cereal bowls and three coffee mugs, now that Hilary looked.
“Sucks about your season,” she offered. That was, after all, why he was here instead of the other way around. One of them still had games to play, and it wasn’t Geno.
Silence stretched out for a minute or so. “Listen, my roommates will be back before too long. You staying, or—?”
Geno sat up, alarmed. “Don’t tell them.”
“If they see you here, I have to tell them something.”
Geno gave that a moment’s thought. “Booty call.”
“Are you serious?” He looked serious. She barked a laugh. “There is no fucking way I’m telling them this is a booty call unless you’re putting out.”
A smile curled the corner of Geno’s mouth, the first she’d seen since he walked in the door. “Can’t put more babies in me.”
“Well,” Hilary said, considering. “I can try.”
A week later and a half later, Hilary failed to hoist the Clarkson Cup. After a couple of days of drunken team disappointment, she sobered up enough to check her phone messages and find one from Geno: you win next year. good genes
They were texting buddies now, apparently. Or maybe he just considered her the appropriate person to share all his pregnancy complaints with: peeing and puking and a sore back - baby still so small, why so hurt??. Not being able to eat onions anymore. Having to watch the home games from the press box. even in box, all every want to know what wrong with me. why dont I play?? worst ((
He wasn’t wrong. Every hockey site on the internet wanted to know what disaster had sidelined the Penguins superstar just in time for the playoffs. She felt a twinge now and then, reading the speculation – a previously undiagnosed concussion, blood clots, a heart problem.
The Pens lost to the Rangers in the second round. Shero was fired. Bylsma was maybe fired; who the fuck knew? Even Geno couldn’t tell her much, or chose not to. The FO was mum on the Malkin situation. They hired Rutherford for GM; he promptly fired Bylsma.
“Drama, drama, drama,” Hilary told Bri.
After a weights session at the gym, Hilary pulled her phone out of her locker and found a new text: press conference tomorrow. then everyone know about me (((
“Fuck,” Hilary said blankly. She went to take a shower, and when she got back, she sat down on the locker room’s slatted bench seat and booked a plane ticket for that evening. She got Duggy to take her. Duggy was mercifully quiet about why Hilary might suddenly be flying to Pittsburgh.
She spent the whole flight wondering if she should get a hotel. It wasn’t like anyone knew she was coming. She landed a little after seven got in a little after seven and texted Geno. Here in Pitt. You okay?
Two minutes later, her phone chimed. “You’re in Pittsburgh?” Geno asked with enough surprise for at least three question marks. She’d gotten to know his textspeak pretty well.
“Yeah, uh. I’m at the airport.”
“Why you in Pittsburgh? You have media thing or something?”
“Uh, no.” Dammit, she should have checked first. She’d probably just be in the way. Unless— surely not. Surely someone would have given her a head’s up. Her agent would fucking kill someone if the Pens outed Hilary in their own presser without even telling her. “Geno, are they going to mention me at this press conference?
“What? No! No, of course not. I don’t even tell them.”
“Some guys on team know, but not—not official, you know?”
“Oh. Okay.” Hilary wasn’t entirely sure how to feel about that, but if her name was going out there, she’d want it go through her agent first. “I didn’t think so. But I thought I’d come for, like, moral support?” She felt stupider by the minute.
There was a pause. “You come all the way from Boston? For—this?”
“I mean, yeah.”
Another pause. “You staying with me? I have lots of room.”
“I can get a hotel,” she hedged.
“No, you come stay with me. Stupid booty call, you stay in hotel.”
“Oh is that how it is,” Hilary asked.
“Best disguise,” he agreed. “Very sneaky.”
She took a taxi out to his place, which was in a way nicer neighborhood than she’d ever lived in. He met her at the door in a hoodie and sweats and bare feet. He looked the same, she thought. A little more tired, maybe.
“It’s nice you come,” he said as let her in.
“Obviously I came,” even though she wondered if maybe it wasn’t so obvious, after all. She didn’t have to keep in touch with the guy she put a baby in at the Olympics that one time. Plenty of Olympians didn’t. And she hadn’t even fucked a kid into Geno as a favor, like lots of the gold medalists did. She hadn’t planned this at all.
But it must have been the right thing to say, because Geno pulled her cautiously into a hug and held on tight.
“You okay?” she ventured.
“I’m okay.” It sounded rote. She pulled back to look at him, and he made a face. “Everyone talk so much. Everyone—” He stepped back and scowled at the floor. She leaned into his line of vision and lifted an eyebrow, and he sighed. “Everyone know Russia’s terrible in the Olympics, but tomorrow they find out we’re so terrible I get pregnant.”
“Terrible athletes do not get pregnant at the Olympics,” Hilary pointed out. “At least, not with Olympic babies.” Which this clearly was, because knocked-up dudes were fucking hard to come by. The internet told her so. She’d done research.
“If I—” He cut himself off. “Just sucks.”
He was a big, big guy, but he looked smaller now, standing there in his own entryway, eyes downcast. It reminded her of him in that bar, curled in on himself under the weight of all those disappointed expectations. She’d understood the disappointed part, if not the expectations, and anyway he was tall and dark-headed and lanky and Evgeni Malkin, and who the fuck wouldn’t want a piece of that?
It all still applied now, as far as she was concerned, with an additional uncertain shiver of knowing there was a piece of her in him. So she leaned up and kissed him, and he uncrossed his arms and folded her in them, and hey, a booty call sounded pretty great, actually.
He brought her to his bedroom. California King, nice. She sat him on the bed, stepping in between his legs, and she had him all the way down to a t-shirt and boxers when he grabbed her hand. “What?” she asked, impatient.
He looked up at her, a little—shy? Who knew the Geno model even came with that expression. “I look little funny now.”
“A little—oh.” She blinked. She felt that uncertain shiver again. “Do you not…?”
He huffed and pulled off his t-shirt. The last rays of evening were dim through his bedroom windows. She fumbled with the lamp on the bedside table and finally managed to switch it on. She turned back.
At first glance, Geno looked the same – pale, big brown eyes, skinny legs - but there at his waist was the beginning of something. It just about knocked the breath out of her. She dropped to her knees between his legs, and she pressed her hand to his gently rounded tummy.
That was her fucking kid in there.
She breathed in and out a few times. “Wow.”
“You know,” Geno began. She could feel his words in his belly. “I don’t say I want this, but I want kids. Want for a long time.”
“Yeah. Guess—maybe this isn’t the worst.”
She stared at him, still not sure quite was she was feeling. Something good, she thought. Something hers. Under her fingertips, a few inches deep, was the beginning of her kid. That she put there. “Oh my god,” she said. That shiver of uncertainty turned molten. She pushed to her feet and pressed Geno back onto the bed so she could straddle him – very, very gently – and kiss him until neither of them had any breath left.
She watched his presser live on her iPad. She could tell he was trying not to scowl as the announcement was made. He didn’t even take questions; he just read a release.
He came home again after a while, and they ate takeout pasta – no onions – and then they had sex on Geno’s enormous couch. A while later, Hilary surfaced from a pleasant doze. Geno had had her squished against the back of the couch, and he was hot. She pushed at him until he sat up, grumbling, and then she curled against him with her head on his shoulder.
She didn’t get this often. There were not a lot of guys in the world that could make Hilary Knight feel small. Her hand drifted over to Geno’s stomach like there was a magnet there. She had an idea that might happen a lot, the next few months. Or a feeling, maybe. “You said you wanted kids,” she said.
“Yeah,” Geno agreed, yawning.
“I didn’t really plan on them. Because I’d have to have them, you know? Take time off. Maybe not come back, I don’t know. And I didn’t have anyone to have them, you know, with.”
“Yeah. But this—this could work out. This could be good.”
“Hmm,” Geno said. His fingers curled around hers.