It’s not something that everybody knows;
Sid’s comfortable with everyone thinking that he has an aversion to touching. It’s true to an extent on the ice, when the people touching him aren’t Penguins and, even then, it’s rare that there’ll be a picture of him being happy about it. (Geno is different; Geno is always different). He just doesn’t like it. He’s comfortable in his own space, can breathe without thinking that there’s some expectation that comes with the affection, that he has to hold his body a certain way or give back to some degree. He overthinks it and tangles it up in his head and he hates not having a clear direction, of not knowing exactly what he’s doing. He hates being out of his depth so he just doesn’t touch people.
It's different when he's in bed with someone. He doesn’t have a lot of experience to draw on, he doesn’t care about anything much besides hockey and definitely not about settling down with anyone. He’s okay with his lot in life, happy with it even. He’s also that nobody knows about it; the fear that it will come out in a joke, or a quip and it will be just another thing about Sidney Crosby that’s endearing, ridiculous, weird or a combination of all three.
That all changes when he finds himself sleeping on Geno.
It’s an accident.
They lose to the Flyers and it fucking stings. He’s sitting by himself because he likes to get lost in his own head, to think about the game, about what needs to change and how, and he gets so frustrated and jittery that he’s not sure he would want to sit next to him either.
When Geno drops down next to him, Sid is only mildly surprised. He probably lost a bet on who had to come to the back and talk him down. But Geno doesn’t do any of that, he just pulls out his iPad and picks up with the reading he was apparently doing in his other seat. It’s in Russian so it’s not like Sid can distract himself by reading - rudely - over Geno’s shoulder.
“We were-” he starts, because he feels like he has to say something. He doesn’t know exactly what he wants to say, though, and Geno just shakes his head, resting a hand on Sid’s thigh and squeezing until he stops moving it. Sid lets out a breath and tips his head back against the seat, closing his eyes.
“Is okay. We win next time.”
Sid doesn’t answer, bites back on the angry retort that he’s been repressing but this is Geno and if nothing else, he always plays a great game. It’s Sidney that’s failed and Geno doesn’t-
“Next time,” Geno presses and squeezes Sid’s thigh again.
Sid nods and keeps his eyes closed, listening to the sounds around him and letting them lull him into sleep.
It’s extremely embarrassing to wake up, arm thrown over Geno’s chest and face pressing into his neck. There’s a blanket around his shoulders, and Geno is still reading the same book, even if he’s over a hundred pages further than he was before.
“Um,” Sid says. His cheeks flame with embarrassment but Geno just nods.
“Yes,” Sid says, struggling to disentangle himself from Geno and the blanket. “Sorry?”
Geno just shrugs, looking confused. “Is okay. Need sleep.”
That’s not entirely what Sidney was apologising for but if Geno isn’t going to mention it, neither is he.
It pretty much gets worse from there.
Sidney’s not trying to make a habit of breaking routines where Geno is concerned but it keeps happenin despite everything. It’s like there’s a giant Geno-shaped hole that he isn’t even aware needs filling until Geno’s stepping up and inserting himself everywhere. His pre-game rituals include Geno, his come-down in the locker room includes Geno and now even travel includes Geno. He’s not sure he’s ready to change his roommate because it’s been Duper for years and Sidney just can't go there. But he sits next to Geno on the bus, the plane and even the car sometimes. It’s just easy. He’s always held himself away from the team when he sleeps, knowing just how uncomfortable it can be to wake up with your captain tangled around you and (sometimes) drooling on your shoulder. Fortunately for Sidney, or unfortunately when he’s trying to torture himself and thinking about it too hard, Geno doesn’t complain.
He almost seems to expect it, rearranging himself so that Sid can lean against him comfortably. Like so much of how they change to fit alongside each other, they don’t talk about it. Sid is - not grateful, exactly, but he understands it. This thing with Geno scares him with how much he wants it, how much he’s willing to give in order to make Geno happy. He wants Geno happy, and realising that had left him breathing hard and shaking, and he wants to be the person to make Geno happy.
So he falls asleep with Geno because it’s a routine. It has nothing to do with feeling relaxed and okay, yeah, safe with Geno. At all. And Geno lets him, allows the tangle of limbs and the press of Sidney’s body against his.
Sidney wakes to Geno’s arm thrown around his shoulders, hand pressing solid and warm against Sidney’s neck, he immediately closes his eyes again. He doesn’t want to move, doesn’t want Geno to move when he realises Sid is awake. He can feel the rustle of his hair in time with Geno’s rhythmic breathing and finds himself falling back to asleep.
When he wakes a second time, Geno’s playing a game one-handed on his phone, the other still pressed to Sid’s neck.
Sid absolutely does not freak out about it.
His not-freaking out lasts well into the season. Nobody else on the team has mentioned it but they’ve never mentioned any of the other odd and “freaky” stuff that Sid and Geno do beyond mocking them ruthlessly for it. Oddly enough, this they haven’t touched yet and Sid doesn't want to know the answer enough to ask why.
It’s not anything dumb like Geno getting angry with him and moving, or Sid being frustrated enough with himself that he moves and sits alone. That never happens, though not for lack of trying. Sid does get frustrated, and Geno does get angry with him at times but they never change their arrangement. Sid can always count on Geno sitting next to him, on moving them both around so that they’re comfortable. If Sid thinks about it too much, he gets uncomfortable that they’re doing this in front of the team but then he remembers that this is his team . They’ve been behind him 100% since the beginning and they mock him, sure, but he can count on them when he needs to.
He can count on Geno when he needs to.
Which is why, when they lose the cup again and Sidney feels like he’s going to crawl out of his skin and go crazy from the disappointment, regret and disappointment in himself, he’s not completely surprised to find Geno waiting for him long after everyone has left,
Most of the guys are too upset to do much of anything but leave the locker room - and their own disappointment - behind. Not Geno. Geno stares at him for a long moment and Sid can’t even work up the energy to snap at him to go home. He’s startled by the hand on his back, the slide of it against his spine and Geno's his arm settles, comfortable and predictable against his shoulders. He’s not ready for this, not ready for the acknowledgement outside of their naps on the road, but Geno’s already manhandling him out to the parking lot and Sid doesn’t want to fight.
He sinks into Geno’s embrace and doesn’t let himself think until he realises Geno’s not steering him to the right car. “Geno-“
Geno squeezes his arm and doesn’t look at all contrite. “Just come, Sid.”
Sid bites down on the protest. He does want this, just wants to bury himself in Geno until he can block out everything but them. He climbs into Geno’s car and relaxes into the seat, closing his eyes and surrendering to the sounds of Geno starting the engine and driving them home.
When they arrive, he’s content to follow Geno into the house, give the customary pat to Jeffreys head and then follow Geno up the stairs to his bedroom. He shuts down on the freakout before it can start and tangles his hand in the back of Geno’s shirt instead. Geno says, “good,” and turns, sliding one hand into Sid’s hair and pressing the other to his neck, thumb curving along Sid’s jaw. “Sleep, yes?”
Sid nods, eyes closing slowly. He breathes in, out, and lets Geno tug him down onto the bed. There’s no surprise when Geno kisses him, just a sense of rightness and Sidney breathes out slowly against Geno’s mouth.
“Geno,” he sighs, broken and sad.
“Is okay,” Geno says, even as his eyes belie his words, sad and disappointed. Sid knows how he feels, wants so desperately to have the cup, to hold it again. “Sid.”
Holding Geno, having Geno feels an awful lot like it. Sid presses his nose against Geno’s cheek and sighs. “It’s okay.”
It’s not, won’t be for days, months, till next season and the next fight, but Sid sinks into Geno and lets it be enough. Geno is enough; can be everything if Sid just lets himself have it, take it.