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There are surprises in life, things you never see coming, and then there is Sid showing up for practice with a hickey the size of Siberia on his neck; that is a whole other level of freak occurrence. Everybody stops and stares for a good ten seconds.

"What?" Sid says, shifty and defensive.

"Now I know how people felt about the Kennedy assassination." Adams is wide-eyed with amazement. "I will always remember what I was doing this day."

If Sid's looks could kill, the Penguins would now be down a player.

"No, but seriously," Duper chimes in. "Did you actually get laid or were you attacked by a giant leech on the way here?"

"Guys." It's not quite a whine, but it's definitely edging that way.

"Is this serious?" Flower wants to know. "Are we going to have to buy you candlesticks?"

"Oh my God, shut up!"

"My money's on the giant leech," Nealsy tells Duper. "We don't have to get him candlesticks then, right?"

Geno chirps Nealsy, "You just jealous somebody get action."

"I get plenty of action," Nealsy says smugly.

"Does it count as action when it's your own hand?" Duper wonders aloud.

"Maybe Sid give you pointers," Geno tells Nealsy. "Then you get hickey of your own."

"If you guys put this much thought into your hockey, maybe we wouldn't have lost the last two games!" Sid's voice rises, sharp and mean, and everyone turns in disbelief to look at him. He's flushed and won't meet anyone's eye and goes clomping off to the ice in a huff.

The rest of the team has a moment of what was that? once he's gone, glances travelling around the room, all of them equally clueless. Sid's more of a self-blamer when it comes to losing games, and even if he doesn't do much chirping of his own, he's generally good-natured when it comes his way. At the very least he'll stoically endure it in the name of team spirit. Finally Flower shrugs, which sums it up for everyone, and they all go practice.

Geno spends his warm up wondering about Sid's weird overreaction. It's hardly new for somebody to come to practice marked up with the evidence of the night before and to be chirped for it, but it is new for Sid, and nobody is more private than he is. So maybe Sid's prickliness is as simple as that. Geno just hopes it's not because Sid thinks someone might have a problem with the source of the hickey. There aren't many secrets in the locker room, and every new guy who comes to the Penguins gets the Sidney Crosby indoctrination speech, to avoid surprises and make it clear that the team won't put up with any bullshit.

Army had done the honors with Geno, sidling up to him on his second day with the team. "You know about Crosby, right?" he'd asked with just a hint of bristly protectiveness.

Geno had nodded. "Yes, know Sid." He hadn't rolled his eyes, but only because he was still in the getting-to-know-you phase with everyone. Americans must really think Russia is on another planet, he'd marveled. Who in hockey doesn't know Sidney Crosby?

"No, I mean, do you know about Sid? Um, that he, uh, bats for the other team?"

Geno had stared blankly. There was no part of that sentence that made sense to him. "Okay," he'd said anyway.

His first forty-eight hours in the NHL had passed in a blur of new faces and conversations he couldn't make out at all. He'd decided early on that trying to understand everything was just going to take up energy that would be better spent playing hockey.

"Good." Army had smiled approvingly, much more relaxed once he thought Geno was cool with what he was saying. "I just didn't want there to be any problems. Not that it's a big deal or anything. Not that Sid's ever actually dating anyone. I'm pretty sure his idea of a personal life is watching video at home instead of at the arena."

Army had wandered off then, and Geno had gone looking for Sergei.

"He was trying to tell you that Sid's gay," Sergei had explained.

"Oh." Geno had frowned in confusion. "Why? It's none of my business."

Sergei had shrugged. "In America it's the custom to tell everyone everything whether they need to know or not."

 

That was a long time ago, and Army was more right about Sid and his lack of a personal life than Geno could have imagined. In all the years since, there's never been any sign of Sid dating anyone. He never talks about guys. Geno has never noticed him pick up anyone when they go out. Actually, come to think of it, he's not sure he's ever even seen Sid flirt.

And now he has a hickey.

For just a moment, Geno gets this uncomfortable sensation in the pit of his stomach, which he doesn't understand at all. He's never had any problems with guys being into guys, and if Sid is happy—well, Geno is all for Sid's happiness.

Right now, though, Sid looks anything but. His shoulders are rigid, his expression closed off; there's no hint of his usual joyful ease when he's out on the ice. Geno skates over to him and sticks close, talking hockey until Sid finally relaxes. They start running drills, and Sid's expression shifts back and forth between fierce concentration and satisfied smiles, the way he's supposed to look when he's playing hockey.

Probably the thing to do is just let Sid keep his secrets, even if secrecy is completely unnecessary, but this is Sid, and he has a hickey. Curiosity gets the better of Geno, and when practice is over, he starts up a conversation as casually as he can.

"So, is new boyfriend?" Geno gestures at Sid's neck.

Sid's gaze drops, and he looks almost guilty. "It's nothing."

"It not look like nothing."

The mere fact that Sid is being so defensive and weird about it definitely makes it seem like something.

"Just drop it, okay, Geno?"

"Sid," Geno says in the gentle voice he uses on animals in distress and Sid when he's freaked out. "Am happy for you. Is good to have someone."

Sid clenches his jaw so hard it looks like his teeth must hurt. "It's nothing." He turns on his heel and strides away.

Geno watches him go, eyebrows knit together in confusion. He has no idea what just happened.


Things only get weirder when Sid comes to practice barely a week later with a black eye. Not that black eyes are all that unusual. They're hockey players. They get into fights on and off the ice. Cookie, in particular, seems to have a knack for ending up in bars full of big-mouthed Flyers fans.

But this isn't Cookie. This is Sid, who has had exactly six on-ice fights in his professional career and Geno would guess zero off-ice fights in his entire life.

Needless to say the team has a field day with it.

"Are there going to be pictures on Deadspin?" Tanger wants to know. "Because if there are, I'm going to download them all and laugh myself sick."

"Let me guess. You fought the law and the law won?" Duper chimes in.

Flower tilts his head at Sid. "Are you going to say we should see the other guy? Because I hate to break it to you, but you look pretty shitty."

"No!" Sid raises his voice.

"No to which part of it? No Deadspin? No arrest record?"

Sid scowls. "No to all of it." He stalks off in a snit.

"Is it just me or has Sid lost his sense of humor lately?" Duper wonders aloud.

"Maybe Sid not laugh because not funny," Geno says flatly and goes in search of Sid.

Duper's voice floats after him. "Can humor loss be contagious?"

Geno finds Sid at the sink in the bathroom splashing water on his face. Sid's shoulders are practically up to his ears, and he's radiating the same I've got a secret and I'm not telling tenseness from the hickey incident, his mouth pressed into a thin, tight line. If Sid had tripped getting out of bed or fallen over his own feet or done some other stupid thing, he would have just told them, let them laugh. He would think of it as doing his part for team bonding, a captainly responsibility.

"Who do that?" Geno asks him.

Sid shakes his head. "It's nothing."

Geno turns Sid by the shoulder and tilts his chin with his fingers. He can feel the quick rush of Sid's breath as he examines the bruise. "It not look like nothing."

Sid bites his lip and gives Geno a hesitant glance through his lashes. Geno waits patiently for the story to come tumbling out of him, but Sid's expression closes up again and he takes a step back. "Nothing happened. Just let it go, okay?"

Geno makes a frustrated noise, but Sid is already gone.


"So, um, tomorrow's an off day," Sid says a week later—a week filled with him being skittish and abrupt with everyone on the team, Geno in particular. "Do you have plans?" His voice lilts up hopefully.

Geno needs a moment to catch up with the sudden shift in mood. "What you have in mind?"

Sid shakes his head. "Nothing in particular. Maybe just hang out? You could come over. We could grab some lunch. Play some video games. Or watch a movie. Whatever."

"You cook?" Geno makes an alarmed face.

Sid pretends to be offended for about a second before offering, "We can order in. And, yes, you can pick the restaurant, although I really don't think that natural foods place is all that bad."

"Everything taste like grass and cardboard," Geno says with a barely suppressed shudder.

Sid rolls his eyes. "So are you coming?"

"Yes. I come." Geno knows Sid well enough to understand what this is: a peace offering, an effort to get them back on solid ground after the recent weirdness that Geno still doesn't understand. He'd say yes regardless of Sid's reasons for asking. The times when it's just the two of them, when Sid isn't the captain, isn't the reluctant object of too much attention, when Sid is just Sid—those are Geno's favorite times of all.

Sid's smile is tinged with relief. "That's great. I'll, uh, see you tomorrow then."

"Tomorrow," Geno promises.

 

He brings beer and cheerfully brushes off Sid's disapproving scowl as he sets the six-pack down on the kitchen counter. "Maybe is not for you. Maybe is all for me."

Sid puts his hands on his hips and complains, "You know I'm going to have at least one."

Geno has to turn away and open the drawer where Sid keeps the bottle opener to hide his smile. An exasperated Sid will never stop being amusing. "Where famous Sidney Crosby discipline? What media say if they know little thing like beer enough to beat you?"

"Oh my God, just give me one already!" Sid huffs out.

Geno opens a bottle and hands it to him with a smile.

Sid can't help smiling back. "I'm going to beat your ass at Call of Duty, just so you know."

"That big talk," Geno tells him, taking a sip of his beer.

"I'll show you big talk. Living room. Now," Sid says, with a haughty lift of his chin that Geno finds impossibly endearing.

They settle onto the sofa, and Sid fires up the Playstation. The glint in his eyes turns adorably maniacal as he tries to gun down the on-screen enemy. Geno shifts around, trying to get comfortable, not very successfully. Sid's idea of decorating is to pile enough throw pillows for three sofas onto just the one until there's no room for actual sitting. He begins transferring them over to the side chair. When he moves the big green one with the tassels, he comes up with—the last thing he would ever expect to find crammed behind the cushions of Sid's couch.

"What—" Geno starts and then stops, no idea how to finish that sentence.

Sid flicks a glance over at him, and his face turns so spectacularly red he looks like he's about to have a stroke when sees what's dangling from Geno's fingers: an animal-print thong clearly designed for a man.

"Uh," he stutters, but that's all he manages.

What could he say? It's not as if Geno would believe the thong is his. They share a locker room. Geno knows he never wears anything but the same brand of dark gray briefs, his lucky underwear.

Sid finally gives up on words, grabs the thong and stomps upstairs, no doubt to hide it away somewhere no one else will ever find it. Geno waits for him to come back and waits and waits until he begins to wonder if the next time he sees Sid will be tomorrow in the locker room.

He slumps back against the cushions and stares up at the ceiling. It's not helping that his brain keeps serving up flashes of what might have taken place right here on this sofa: Sid with some faceless guy, Sid making choked, begging little noises, Sid doing things with his mouth and his hands and his—

The hot flare of anger in his chest takes Geno completely by surprise. He honestly doesn't care what guys do together. Once back in the KHL he'd walked in on their goalie and a guy from his line going at it, and he'd just turned around and left them to it, no problem. When he thinks about Sid, though—big problem. His throat goes tight with thick, choking rage, and he has to make himself take a breath and let it out. What is wrong with him? Sid is already freaking out enough. Geno needs to be supportive, not—whatever this is.

Footfalls sound on the stairs, and Sid slinks back into the living room. He won't look at Geno, doesn't sit back down, just paces back and forth, as agitated as Geno has ever seen him.

"Sid," Geno says gently.

This has no effect whatsoever. Sid continues to wear a trail in the carpet, eyes downcast, face still hot with shame.

"Sid," Geno says again, more firmly. "Come here."

He stutters to a stop, hesitates, and settles gingerly onto the edge of the sofa as if ready to spring back up again.

"Is okay," Geno tells him. "We friends. Not need to be embarrassed."

Sid doesn't appear particularly reassured by this, but he doesn't run away again either, so Geno counts this as a win. They should probably get back to the game, let Sid pretend nothing happened, but Geno's mouth seems to have other plans.

"Is new boyfriend?" he finds himself asking, even though he's really not sure he wants to know the answer. "One who give you—" He gestures at his own neck.

There's a long pause before Sid sullenly says, "He's not my boyfriend."

"But it same guy, yes?"

Sid doesn't answer in a way that clearly means yes.

Suddenly, Geno has never hated hickey-giving thong-wearers more. Supportive, he has to remind himself.

"So when I meet?"

Sid rears back as if Geno just hit him, wild-eyed and stricken. "Oh my God, never!"

Geno frowns. "You meet Oksana when we still together."

Sid doesn't say anything, just stares down at the floor, and there's that odd, guilty look again.

A possibility occurs to Geno, one that makes his mouth press into a thin, unhappy line. "You think I not okay that you like guys?"

"No," Sid says quickly. "Geno. I don't think that at all." He lets out a long, tired-sounding sigh. "This isn't like you and Oksana. It's not a relationship. It's nothing at all. You're never going to meet him, okay?"

"I not understand."

"Yeah, I know." Sid turns a pleading look on him, clearly desperate for Geno to leave it that way.

There are so many things Geno wants to ask. Sid has always made sense to him; not even the language barrier could get in the way. Lately, though, he's been nothing but confusing, and Geno doesn't like it. Funny that he never realized before how much he depends on Sid being Sid.

Pushing won't do anything but make Sid close up as tight as a fist, he knows. So he takes up his controller. "We play, yes? I kick butt now."

Sid breathes out. "Yes. Let's—yes."

Even after losing three games in a row, Sid still looks stupidly relieved not to be talking about his sex life.


Geno has every intention of just letting it go—really he does—because trying to figure out Sid when he wants to be a mystery is a quick way to drive himself crazy. Then Sid shows up on a game day with a split lip.

Once again everyone stops and stares, but no one chirps him. The most anyone manages is Tanger's stammered, "Uh—"

Geno can't take his eyes off Sid, dots connecting in his head: the black eye, Sid's weird reactions, the boyfriend he won't introduce to anyone, that cut on his mouth that has very clearly come from someone hitting him. The edges of Geno's vision start to gray out, the same way it does when he loses his temper on the ice and is about to take a really stupid penalty. He makes himself look away. There's nothing he can do about it now. He'll have to wait until after the game to talk some sense into Sid.

This leaves the hapless Ducks to take the brunt of his fury. He checks anyone in a Ducks jersey who comes anywhere near him and takes two penalties in the first period alone, which is actually pretty lenient. The refs could have called him for more.

At the end of the period, Sid grabs him by the arm and hisses into his ear, "Stop it, Geno. Hockey comes first. You know that. We need you scoring goals, not spending the whole game in the fucking penalty box."

Geno gives him a reproachful look. Sid lost almost a year of playing time with his head injury. Staying with a boyfriend who punches him in the face isn't exactly putting hockey first.

Sid knows Geno too well not to understand exactly what that reproachful look means. "It's not getting in the way of my game," he says hotly, although his eyes slide away guiltily.

Geno hates that. Sid isn't the guilty one. He's the one being hurt. Geno takes in a long breath and lets it out. "Sorry. I get it together."

The rest of the game he channels his fury into scoring. Sid is much more approving of this, and they win with two goals from Geno and one from Sid.

Geno would dearly love to brush off the media after the game, but two goals means everyone wants to talk to him. He stammers his way through the interviews, half forgetting his English, starting sentences only to find no way out of them. Sid's always telling him that he needs to learn some clichés and keep recycling them. That's what everyone else in sports does.

By the time he's finally showered he expects Sid to have gone already, more avoidance, but that's seriously underestimating how much Sid loves winning. He's still wandering around half naked, smiling jubilantly.

"Yo, Sid," Tanger calls out. "Does this mean a split lip is lucky? I might have to get one of those. Right, G?"

Sid lets out a honking laugh. Geno fixes a hard, flat stare on Tanger.

"Uh—okay. I'll just—" Tanger jerks his thumb over his shoulder as if to say go somewhere else.

"Geno—"

"We talk now." His tone leaves no room for argument.

Sid lets out a sigh. "Fine."

He finishes getting dressed, and Geno herds him into the empty bathroom.

"Boyfriend give you that?" he says, getting right to the point.

"I told you he's not my boyfriend," Sid says sullenly.

This tells Geno all he needs to know. "What his name? Where he live?"

Sid is caught by surprise. "What? Why?"

Geno makes a wild, frustrated noise. "He beat you!"

Sid blinks slowly. "So you're—what? Going to return the favor?"

Of course he is. What else would he do?

Sid turns a sharp, disapproving look on him. "Okay, one? You better not ever do anything that stupid. I'm fucking serious, Geno. And two, you do remember I'm a hockey player, right?"

"Hockey player with cut lip, black eye, not get on ice," Geno reminds him.

"Oh my God, no one's beating me! Do you really think I couldn't defend myself if someone was trying to hit me?" His expression turns squinty and offended. Sid has a remarkable ability to ignore the shit that's said about him, but he wouldn't be human if he weren't at least a little sensitive about people questioning his toughness.

"Relationship not like hockey," Geno says, mollifying. "You strong, but not mean, not like to fight. Somebody could—"

"Nobody is," Sid says firmly. "And talking about this with you is really making me crazy, so I'm just going to—" He waves his hand.

"Okay," Geno says, feeling like he just single-handedly lost a playoff game.

In the doorway Sid turns back around. "It's not that I don't appreciate the concern. It's just that there's nothing to be concerned about, okay?"

Geno nods, even though he doesn't believe that at all.


There's no game the next day, not even practice to take Geno's mind off things, leaving him with nothing to do but Google for advice about how to help Sid. The Internet gives him much helpful information, and it seems important to head right over to Sid's and start putting that advice into practice.

Sid opens the door, his expression cycling through surprise and curiosity and finally exasperation when Geno launches into the speech he's prepared. "You not to blame. Not deserve to be hurt."

Sid looks to the ceiling as if he can't understand how this is his life.

Geno persists nonetheless. "I here for you. I listen."

"You really, really don't," Sid says with a sigh, but he steps back to let Geno in. "Come on. I'm making coffee. This conversation needs more caffeine."

Geno settles at the kitchen island while Sid pads over to the refrigerator in bare feet, takes out the coffee tin, and carefully measures out the correct amount instead of just guessing the way everyone else in the world does. Geno finds it hopelessly charming, just as he does Sid's faded Nova Scotia flag T-shirt and the threadbare sweatpants he's probably owned since he was fourteen. He looks like Geno woke him up from a nap, adorably bed-headed and blinking like a mole and…

Someone is beating him.

Suddenly the edges of Geno's vision are graying out again. This is probably not what the Internet meant about being supportive.

Sid pours two mugs of coffee, pushes one at Geno and leans against the counter, taking a sip and giving Geno a fond, exasperated look over the rim of his cup.

"Was not right I try to tell you what to do," Geno tells him contritely. "Your decision. I support no matter what."

"You are seriously killing me here, Geno."

Don't let your feelings get in the way, that's what the Internet said, but Geno's feelings are all over everything, and he can't help blurting out, "He hurt you, not love you!"

"He doesn't love me," Sid says perfectly evenly. "I don't love him. He's not hurting me. The lip thing was totally an accident. The black eye too. And I can't stress enough how much I really, really wish we could stop talking about this."

"Why you not want more? Deserve better. Deserve someone who—" Geno makes a frustrated noise. Why does English always get in his way? Although maybe he couldn't find the right words in Russian either. Maybe he just needs to—

Get up and round the corner of the kitchen island and kiss Sid.

Sid lets out a surprised squeak. His mouth is warm and a little bitter from coffee, and Geno tilts his chin up to kiss him more deeply. He imagines pulling Sid down onto the couch and getting his clothes off and doing things to him with his hands and his mouth and his—

Oh. He feels stupid with realization. The problem was never Sid with a guy. The problem was Sid with a guy who wasn't him.

"Geno." It's Sid's serious captain voice, and Geno expects him to start listing reasons why they should stop. Maybe that's even what Sid set out to do, but he ends up tangling his fingers in Geno's shirt and kissing back.

"Deserve someone who appreciate you," Geno murmurs, trailing kisses along Sid's neck. Someone who loves you.

Sid groans and melts into Geno's arms, and Geno grips him tightly at the small of his back, sliding his fingers under his T-shirt, stroking the warm, soft skin there. They really need to move to the couch soon if they're not going to end up having sex for the first time on the kitchen floor.

"Mmph," Geno complains against Sid's mouth when the phone starts to ring.

"Ignore it," Sid says, tightening his hold on Geno's shoulders.

This suits Geno just fine. He pushes Sid more firmly back against the cabinets, sucking a place on his neck, the same place where the hickey was, doing his best to leave an even bigger mark. He really should have figured out that he had a thing for Sid long before this. He's beginning think it was kind of obvious.

The phone stops only to start again about three seconds later, and then it just goes on and on, blaring and obnoxious. Sid makes a frustrated noise, glances over at it and immediately goes tense all over. Geno lifts his head with extreme reluctance. The mark on Sid's neck is only the size of Belarus; he still has work to do.

Sid reaches for the phone and jabs viciously at the ignore button. A familiar expression crosses his face just for a split second. Geno really wishes he hadn't seen it, but he did, and there's no mistaking that lightning flash of guilt. That was Sid's boyfriend on the phone—his not-boyfriend. Whatever Sid wants to call the relationship, clearly it's not over.

"Sorry, sorry," he mumbles, taking a step back.

"Geno."

He shakes his head. "I go now."

Sid's voice follows him down the hall. "You are seriously driving me crazy."

Geno knows exactly how he feels.


The trip home takes only ten minutes, but Geno feels a million times more miserable by the time he gets there. He should probably just let it lie and give Sid some space. He's supposed to be supportive, not making things more complicated.

Somehow this doesn’t keep him from picking up the phone.

"Sorry," he says when Sid answers.

"You said that already." Sid lets out a long sigh. "Look, Geno, just because you make out with a guy doesn't mean anything. There's nothing to get freaked out about."

Geno shakes his head even though Sid can't see him. "Am not sorry because of that. Am sorry because I kiss you when you have boyfriend. He asshole, beat you, not deserve, but—" He trails off unhappily.

"Okay, you really need to listen me," Sid says in his bossiest captain voice. "I don't have a boyfriend, and no one is beating me. That guy—I'm not seeing him anymore."

"No?" Geno perks up hopefully.

"No."

"So—you want boyfriend?"

There's a long pause. "Do you mean theoretically?"

"No. Mean me."

This time the pause is even longer. "Have you ever even been into guys before? Because I don't think you can just wake up one day and decide to go gay."

"Have looked at boys, but things different in Russia. Easier just with girls."

"It's easier here too, Geno. Don't kid yourself."

"No, not kid self anymore," Geno tells him. "Realize not hate other guy just because I think he hurt you. Hate that he get to have you and I not."

"He never had me, Geno," Sid says, quiet and serious. "I—you—it's always been—"

This is all Geno needs to hear. "I come over now. We talk."

'No!"

"No?" Geno repeats, confused.

"Well, yes. Definitely yes. But not right now, okay? I just have to—give me an hour?"

Geno agrees and hangs up and manages to wait five minutes before heading back out to the car.

Sid answers the door with a completely freaked out expression and a blurted out, "Oh, shit." For a moment Geno thinks he might actually close the door in his face, but then Sid takes a breath and lets it out. "Do I need to buy you a watch?"

"Sorry. Already wait long enough. Not wait any more."

Sid lets him in with obvious reluctance.

"Sorry," Geno feels the need to say again. "If this not what you want, I go." The words actually hurt to say, but obviously he doesn't want to force anything on Sid.

"No!" Sid says frantically. "I mean, yes. It's what I want. Just now isn't really a good—"

"Was where you said," a voice floats down from the second floor.

All the color bleeds from Sid's face, and Geno can only stare in confusion as some guy he's never seen before—a guy who is quite obviously Russian—comes sauntering down the stairs with the animal print thong casually held in one hand.

Geno looks to Sid for an explanation, but Sid just stands there staring at the floor as if he's begging it to please, please, please swallow him up.

"Am happy to have it back. Is my lucky thong." The guy grins, big and cheesy. Actually that describes pretty much everything about him. He's easily as tall as Geno, with slicked back dark hair, a beard that's as ridiculous as anything to be seen during the playoffs and many thick gold chains around his neck. The powder blue velour tracksuit he's wearing makes Geno think of home, not necessarily in a good way.

The guy looks from Sid to Geno and back again, his grin turning more wolfish by the second. "Oh, I see now why you not need me anymore. Was nice while it last, Cupcake."

Sid turns bright red. "I told you not to call me that."

"You know you love it." The guy winks at Sid, filthy and knowing, and Geno's hands automatically curl into fists.

"I really don't," Sid mutters.

The guy turns to Geno and switches to Russian, "He's terrible in bed, the absolute worst, but maybe you'll have better luck with him than I did."

Geno has wanted to punch this guy in his stupid face from the moment he saw him—or, fine, since Sid first showed up to practice with that hickey—and this is it, the last straw. Conveniently his hands are already balled into fists.

He takes a step forward, but that's as far as he gets before Sid is there, putting a restraining hand on his arm. "Don't. I don't care what he said."

Geno draws in a breath, and he almost has himself under control again when pictures float up from some murky, tormented part of his brain, pictures of this asshole touching Sid, leaving marks on him. Then he's starting forward again.

"Geno," Sid says, insistently.

"Geno?" the guy says with bright, mocking eyes.

Sid fixes a warning glare on him and doesn't let go of Geno's arm.

The guy's smile grows even wider. "You two be very happy together."

Sid hustles him out the door, and Geno tries to figure out what the hell, but he really hasn't got a clue.

"What—" he starts once it's just the two of them. "Why—" He shakes his head. "Sid explain now."

Sid heaves out a sigh, and there's that guilty look again. "It was just sex."

"Not very good sex," Geno says dryly.

"Is that what he said?" Sid's forehead creases with annoyance.

"What you say?"

Sid goes silent, head tilted down at a mulish angle.

Geno tries again. "Why you pick him?"

There's still a mutinous gleam in Sid's eyes, but he does finally answer, "He was the best I could do, okay? Pittsburgh doesn't have a really big selection of tall, dark-haired, Russian male prostitutes."

Geno needs a moment on that one. "You have sex with him because you want—with me?

Sid goes red-faced, shoulders hunched and defensive. "There are rules, okay? I don't think about teammates, ever, but," his voice drops to a mumble, "I couldn't help it with you, so I needed to do something to get it out of my system, and he was the best I could do, the closest I could get—

"No," Geno says, loudly enough that it takes them both by surprise. He strides the three steps over to Sid and pulls him into his arms, possessive and a little angry that someone else has had what should have been his. "Want sex with me, have with me." He tilts Sid's chin up, hand a little too tight on Sid's jaw as he kisses him, claiming what's his.

"Jesus, Geno," Sid murmurs against his mouth and kisses him back.

Geno leans back against the wall, dragging Sid with him. He wants to kiss him until neither of them can breathe, his mouth on Sid's throat, under his chin, across his cheekbones, hands stroking up his arms and down his back and over his amazing ass. He's all over the place, a frantic mess, but Sid doesn't seem to mind. He arches into Geno's hands, works his hips, trying to get even closer, spilling out little noises that make Geno go hot all over.

It's good, so good, everything Geno has wanted without even realizing it. At least it is until Sid takes a giant step back.

Geno follows, hands tightening on Sid's hips, trying to get him back.

"Stop. You have to stop." Sid's face is flushed, and his eyes are wide, dilated, so dark. He's breathing hard enough that his chest heaves. He doesn't look like he wants to stop. "If you keep doing that, I'm going to get hard, and I don't want to freak you out."

"Is okay, Sid," Geno tells him, rubbing his shoulder affectionately. "I not freak out. I know you have dick." To emphasize the point, he trails his hand down Sid's body and squeezes him gently through his sweatpants.

Sid's eyes go impossibly wide, and he sucks in a loud, surprised breath. This is apparently the tipping point between doubt and naked now, now, now. Geno gets an armful of very eager Sid, the force of his enthusiasm sending Geno staggering back as Sid's hands begin to move greedily over him.

If they keep on like this, they're going to end up naked and rutting on the floor, giving themselves rug burn and leaving behind stains that will make everyone who comes into Sid's house raise an eyebrow.

"Bed," Geno insists.

Sid grabs him by the arm and practically drags him upstairs, making Geno smile. This is the single-minded Sidney Crosby determination he's used to. They throw off their clothes once they reach the bedroom. They've had years of foreplay the way Geno figures it. Now is the time to get right to sex. Sid moans at the first touch of bare skin, rubbing against Geno, looping his arms around his neck. Geno kisses him deeply, hands gripping his ass, squeezing. He wants to do everything with Sid—it's hard to decide where to start.

"Wait," Sid says, pulling back from the kiss.

Geno makes a frustrated noise and tries to urge him close again. "No more wait. Now we have sex."

"It was bad," Sid blurts out.

Geno freezes. He's not really sure what to make of that, but he doesn't want anything to be bad for Sid.

"I don't mean us!" Sid lets out his breath in a long stream. "I mean—it was—that black eye and cut lip? I got that doing—you know, with the hooker. And, okay, an elbow to the face, you can kind of, maybe understand how that happens, but who gets an injury just trying to kiss? It was really bad, the worst, and I'd like to blame it all on him, but—" He trails off, his gaze slipping away.

It takes Geno a moment to piece this together and realize that Sid is having performance anxiety, and then he wants to laugh with relief that this is all that's the matter. Sid's insane perfectionism he can deal with. "If we together, it good for me. Show up in locker room tomorrow with black eyes, at least guys get something to talk about."

Sid lets out a laugh and melts back against Geno. Before he can come up with any more reasons why they should wait, Geno urges him the few steps over to the bed and tip them both onto the mattress. Sid rolls his eyes at how very obvious Geno is, but he can't hide a sweet, fond smile. This makes Geno need to brush a flurry of kisses to his mouth, his cheeks, his forehead. Sid's smile grows wider and fonder.

Their bodies slide together, and it isn't anything like being in bed with a woman, but it doesn't feel unfamiliar either, because this is Sid. Geno knows him so well, knows the shape of him, all his ridiculous noises, his warm, soap-scrubbed scent.

"Can I—" Sid hesitates, biting his bottom lip.

"What you want? Tell me." Because Geno is absolutely positive he's going to want it too.

Sid decides to show instead of tell, using his weight, his strength to flip Geno, pressing a kiss to Geno's mouth, his nipple, along his ribs. "I've thought about this," he says in a confessional whisper. "I wasn't supposed to. It's against the rules, but—"

"Not need rules anymore," Geno reminds him, stroking a hand up his arm.

Sid smiles conspiratorially, drops a kiss to Geno's hip, scoots further down the bed, and then Geno's world narrows to hot and wet and fuck, Sid's mouth. It's clear he knows exactly what he's doing, and he goes at it with easy confidence, firm pressure of lips, teasing play of tongue.

Nobody works harder or practices more than Sid. Geno knows that, so it shouldn't be any wonder that he's as good at this as he is at hockey, but it takes Geno by surprise anyway, a white-hot shock of pleasure. Words try to bubble out of him, get broken into syllables, stray sounds, not English, but not exactly Russian either. That's what Sid's mouth does to him, reduces him to babble.

"Geno," Sid moans from somewhere deep in his chest as if he's the one being blown into next week.

Fuck. All Geno can do is clutch at the sheets and shake and try to tell Sid how good he is, how hot, how much he wants him.

He's still babbling when he comes.

Sid lifts his head, bright-eyed with arousal, cheeks flushed, chest dipping sharply, a smear of come at the corner of his mouth. "Was it—did you like—"

There's such a ridiculously hopeful light in his eyes, as if all he wants is to be good for Geno, and the only answer to that is to pull him down and kiss him until he turns smug, which is somehow even more adorable.

Geno strokes a hand along Sid's hip. "I do that to you now."

Sid shakes his head, a shudder running through him at Geno's touch, lines of strain appearing at the corners of his mouth. "Not going to last. Just—"

His cock is hot and slick when Geno curls his palm around it, and it feels good, right, to move his hand, spread that slickness around, twist his wrist on the upstroke, rub his thumb against a place he finds that makes Sid suck in his breath every time. Sid starts to beg for harder and faster and fuck, please, Geno. He slurs messy kisses to Geno's mouth, sometimes missing and hitting his cheek instead, his body shaking, a line of sweat beading on his forehead, hips jerking, pushing into Geno's grip. The muscles in his thighs strain in such a distracting way that Geno loses his rhythm and has to look away.

"Geno," Sid manages once, but most of the sounds streaming out of him are urgent nonsense or desperate animal noises.

Geno tightens his grip. Sid arches, jerks like he has electrical current running through him, and comes in Geno's hand. He slumps forward, panting and pliant, and Geno pulls him down onto the bed, tucking him against his side.

"Mmghmp," Sid mutters against Geno's shoulder.

Geno smiles indulgently and strokes his fingers through Sid's hair.

Sid lifts his head, slowly, as if it's very heavy and tries again. "I'm glad I'm not bad at sex with you."

"Very not bad," Geno says with a grin that falters when he isn't quite so sure this captures what he's trying to say.

Sid gets what he means apparently. He lounges against Geno like a pleased cat, looking satisfied with himself before his expression turns more serious. "I kept expecting him to read me, to get me, for everything to click, but it never did, because he wasn't—"

"Is me now," Geno reminds him, dropping a kiss to his forehead. "Only me, yes?"

"Only you," Sid agrees, curling more closely.

"Only you for me too. Maybe one day teammates buy us ugly candlesticks?"

There's a pause and then Sid says, quiet and happy, "Yes."

"Yes," Geno agrees, smiling.