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Geno’s facing more than a bit of a conundrum.

It’s December 22, the Pens have the next three days off, and he still hasn’t gotten Sid anything for Christmas.

Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue. Geno is fucking great at buying gifts for people. He has amazing taste--better than most of his friends--and he loves giving people things.

Except Sid.

-

The first gift Geno can remember giving is a card he made for his mother when he was five years old. They made them in class for Easter. Geno drew an egg, and wrote his name in scribbly cyrillic. His teacher added a longer message.

His mother exclaimed with joy when Geno presented it to her (two days early because he couldn’t wait), gathering him up in her arms and planting kisses all over his face.

“Don’t cry, mama,” he said when she pulled back, touching her face with chubby hands.

“I’m just happy, Zhenya,” she reassured him. “This is the most wonderful gift ever. Thank you, beautiful boy.”

That moment, the way he made his mother just so happy, that stuck.

-

It’s not that Geno doesn’t like to give Sid gifts. It’s that Sid is the worst person in the history of the human race to buy presents for. Geno’s half convinced he has never given Sid a present that Sid actually enjoyed, no matter how genuinely Sid had smiled and thanked him, or how often he wore the jean jacket Geno got him or displayed the Precious Moments penguins figurine.

It didn’t matter as much before they were dating. If Geno’s being honest, sometimes he actually went out of his way to get Sid something he knew Sid wouldn’t like just to make him use it. Like the birthday he got Sid a giant mug with a black cat on the front and back.

But they’ve been together a year and a half now, and Sid didn’t like the cartoon penguin themed tie Geno got him for his birthday, or the bracelet he got him for their anniversary, or the giant stuffed teddy bear holding a box of chocolates he got him last Christmas (although he did seem to enjoy the chocolate). Geno’s determined to get it right this year.

So he does something he would normally never do: he calls in outside forces.

-

Geno used to love buying gifts for his girlfriends.

His first relationship when he was fourteen years old, his girlfriend Natasha was a year older. In retrospect, Geno doesn’t think they liked each other very much, but at the time he was completely smitten.

His mother had to stop him from spending all his money on a necklace for her.

“We’re not made of money, Zhenya,” she told him, and Geno would have gone behind her back and bought it anyway, if he wasn’t intimately aware how much of their money his parents spent on making sure he got to play hockey.

Natasha broke up with him two months later, so it was probably for the best anyway.

-

what did you get Sid for Christmas? he texts Taylor. He adds a present and a Santa emoji for good measure.

Ugh, nothing yet Taylor replies. he’s the worst to shop for. I usually just get him some history books

It’s not a bad idea. Geno knows how much of a history fiend Sid is. Everyone knows, and Geno is certain Sid will love whatever gift Taylor picks out for him, but Geno is Sid’s boyfriend. He can’t just get Sid any old present. It has to be perfect.

It has to be the best present ever.

don’t want to get him a book, Geno texts back. not a good gift for bf

cologne? Taylor tries.

Geno has to laugh. The idea is just so Crosby-ian in nature, Sid having bought Geno cologne for both his birthday and their anniversary. It was his favourite brand, and for the latter he also sponsored some African penguins in Geno’s name, so that was pretty nice. Maybe Geno could do something similar, a donation to Sid’s favourite charity.

The idea has merit, and Geno keeps it in the back of his mind.

-

Sid actually helped him with the first ever gift Geno bought in North America.

He wanted to get something for the Gonchars, to thank them for taking him in, chauffeuring him around, basically making it possible for him to live and work in a country where he didn’t speak the language.

Getting Sid to help him had been a challenge and a half, but Geno had worked out “Mall?” and a steering motion, and the two of them muddled along.

“For Gonch,” Geno said when they arrived. “For thank.”

Sid nodded. “Wine?” he asked.

Geno wrinkled up his nose at the boring suggestion, but didn’t know how to express that, so he just shook his head. The two of them ended up wandering around the mall for a few hours and it was a fun time despite their inability to communicate.

In the end Geno bought a huge ornate vase that made Sid ask him, “Really?” but the Gonchars loved it, so what did he know.

-

The next time he’s at Sid’s house he tries to look around without being too obvious about what he’s doing. Sid has a lot of books, and he wonders idly how many are from Taylor. The idea of getting Sid more reading material still doesn’t appeal to him, and he dismisses BluRay for similar reasons.

“Are you lost?” Sid asks him when he catches Geno in the study that Sid never uses.

Geno wraps his arm around Sid’s neck, dragging him in for a hug. “Just wonder why this room is here,” he says. “Not for use?”

Sid shrugs. “I can only have so many home gyms before my mom and sister step in.”

Geno laughs at that, and the two of them go down for dinner.

Geno doesn’t really want to get Sid anything workout or hockey related. The two of them get enough of that 24/7, presents should be fun and frivolous, not something a person needs, but something they want.

Therein lies the problem. There’s not much that Sid wants. Not that he doesn’t have already.

-

Money wasn’t a problem when he was dating Oksana.

Geno can freely admit he spoiled her, and that Oksana took advantage of it. They both got something they wanted from it, Geno liked making her happy and she liked the things he bought for her. It sounds less charitable than it was, maybe, but they were always honest with each other. Even when it hurt (especially when it hurt).

When they went their separate ways, Oksana didn’t give back any of the jewelry he gave her, and Geno didn’t ask her to.

-

Sid wants to have both their parents over for Christmas Eve dinner.

Underneath their tree is full to bursting with presents, and Geno can’t think of anything he would like better than to have all his family together in one place for the holidays.

Except maybe a present idea for Sid.

Hockey was out. The team supplied everything they needed anyway. Sid hadn’t liked any of the stuffed animals Geno got him in the past no matter what he might have said, clothes and books, those were all too impersonal. Geno wanted to get Sid something to show he cared, to tell Sid how much he meant to Geno.

And while Sid certainly had outside interests from hockey, they were all, history, health foods, and fishing--

Wait.

-

Last Christmas Taylor came down for her winter break and spent the time with them in Pittsburgh. It was great, Geno knew Sid was excited to have her there, and Geno was excited for the chance to get to know Taylor better.

Geno wanted to get her something--something really great.

“Geno,” she said on Christmas morning, looking up at him with tears in her eyes when she opened his gift. “This is, god. I don’t know what to say. This is amazing. Thank you.”

“What is it?” Sid asked, leaning over Geno’s body so he could take a better look at the card she was holding. “Oh, Geno. Geno.”

It was a scholarship in Taylor’s name for a female goalie who achieved academic excellence. Geno was proud of that one.

Nailed it. Definitely.

-

“Sid,” Taylor said, handing him a gift. “Open Geno’s next!”

“I wonder what it could be,” Sid says with a wry smile. The long package with a circular base is very obviously a poorly wrapped fishing rod, but that isn’t the part that has Geno grinning from ear to ear.

“Come with card,” he says, handing it over with a flourish.

Sid grins at him, a dopey smile, and rips open the envelope. He reads it, Geno watches as his hazel eyes scan the message once, and then a second time.

He looks up at Geno after a moment, eyes bright. “Really?” he asks. “I mean, are you sure? Because you don’t have to--”

Geno leans over, and covers Sid’s mouth with his hand. He wants to kiss him, but they’re not quite there, doing that in front of both their parents. “Of course don’t have to. Want to. Is gift, yes?”

Sid grins at him. “Wow,” he says. It’s most definitely the most enthused Geno has seen him with one of his gifts and he feels happy and proud. He grins back.

“Then yes,” Sid says. “You can definitely come fishing with me in Nova Scotia this summer. I’d love it.”

Geno grins, proud and satisfied.