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Sidney had always had a perfectly fine relationship with his blender before breaking his jaw. It’s a relic from Mario’s guesthouse, purchased ages ago on a shopping trip with his mother, and it had always solved any shake or smoothie cravings easily enough. Before he’d figured out how to work his food processor, it had done okay that way, too, when he’d needed it. It’s a good blender.

Now, though, his jaw is broken, his blender is his main source of food preparation, and Sidney kind of wants to bash it against his countertop until it’s in pieces.

He takes a deep, steadying breath, cringing as he inhales the smell of cooked bacon. It smells so fucking good. The eggs smell good, too, like proper breakfast, real food, and now he just needs his blender to cooperate. Sidney’s not going to waste any more time bemoaning his liquid diet fate; he’s going to make this work.

Except it’s not working. The bacon is jamming in the bottom of the blender and Sidney is trying to figure out why he’d ever thought bacon would actually blend, wondering why he didn’t try sausage, which might have worked a little better. He thinks the gnawing, near-constant hunger that had driven him out of bed is making him a little insane now.

Sidney opens one of his windows to try and air out the smell that’s making his mouth water. He gives one last, perfunctory push of the blend button and winces as the motor makes a sad, broken sound. It dies abruptly, before he can take his finger off the button.

And now, his blender is broken, and his stairs are creaking with footsteps that promise his humiliation is about to become known. Sidney sighs and leans against the counter on his elbows, head bowed, so he doesn’t have to watch Geno smile indulgently at his helplessness. He doesn’t want to smile back.

The smile is in Geno’s voice when he pads around the counter and leans into Sidney from behind, an arm gentle at his waist and his lips light against the back of Sidney’s neck. “Blender not work?” he asks quietly, not a hint of judgment or mockery in his voice. Sidney bows his head farther, sighing again when Geno just kisses the bend of his spine more firmly.

“I broke it,” Sidney says, because it’s probably obvious. The smile broadens against his skin, and Geno presses his cheek to the back of Sidney’s head, squeezing him a little at his hip.

“Bad blender. Too early to give Sid problem.”

“It’s too early for you to be awake,” Sidney says. Geno had played a game last night, not confined to the press box like Sidney, but actually on the ice, contributing, working hard. He deserves the rest and could use it.

Geno just clucks and slides his hand up, rubbing at Sidney’s stomach the way he’s taken to lately. “Belly growl wake me up. Try oatmeal?”

He’s so sick of oatmeal. He’s sick of milkshakes and protein shakes and purees and mashes and soups and the baby food Tanger had dropped off, half a joke and half an honest suggestion. But he’s so hungry, and Geno played a game last night; he shouldn’t have to listen to Sidney whine first thing in the morning.

“Okay, I’ll make it,” Sidney says, reaching for the blender to start cleaning it up. Geno stops him from moving, though, his arms going a bit tight, still far too gentle for Sidney’s tastes—he’s always gentle now, gentler even than Sidney has been with Geno’s shoulder. It’s about as frustrating as the press box and the liquid diet, but he’s not going to whine about that, either.

“I make,” Geno says, and Sidney huffs. “Shut up, Sid, let me. Go sit on couch, smell too good.”

“Christ Geno, I can make my own—”

“Don’t care you can,” Geno cuts in, something hard and stubborn in his voice. “I want to make, you let. Go sit down.”

He’s not an invalid. He’s not broken. But now he feels sore again, and more tired than frustrated, and if he keeps arguing with Geno he’s going to start whining, it’s inevitable. Sidney doesn’t want that.

So he sighs again and heads into the living room after one last sloppy kiss to his hair from Geno. Sidney leans back on his couch and listens to Geno moving around in the kitchen, cleaning up after him and starting on his oatmeal. When Geno comes in, he has two bowls and his hair is still sticking up from sleeping; he looks warm and he smells good when he settles next to Sidney, better than the breakfast Sidney had failed at.

The oatmeal has cinnamon and cream stirred in, sweet and warm and new, and Sidney takes slow, careful bites. His mouth is tender but Geno has Sidney leaning against him again, shoulders overlapping as they eat together. “There was bacon, you can,” Sidney mumbles when he has to take a break, but Geno shushes him and kisses the side of his head, lips sticky-sweet.

“I like what Sid likes. Make a little different.”

“It’s good,” Sidney says, and he takes another cautious swallow. It is good, and Geno finishes before him and sets his bowl aside. Sidney shifts closer, pulling Geno’s arm around him and that feels good. He wants Geno to kiss him on the mouth but being held like this is fine for now, it’s good for this early and this soon, and when Geno rubs his stomach again Sidney finally starts to feel full.

 

Sidney sees the team a lot. It’s different from the concussion, when he wanted to be alone most of the time because the headaches and the mood swings would come so suddenly, mostly without warning. It’s different too because of Geno, who represents the team and also something more, so that Sidney is never fully alone even when he’s apart.

This time is different, and that’s why it’s easy to stay positive. He starts skating a bit, the plastic over his face bulky and irritating and so worth it to be out on the ice, even for small stretches of time. Nealer and Paulie join him and they all start to cobble together the image of a fully healthy team, almost naïve by now.

It’s important to be with the team now, to show that he’s strong and capable and not letting this get him down. It’s such an important time of the season, and even with lingering doubts or worries about this idiotic injury, Sidney knows there’s no way he’s letting this thing keep him away, even if he can’t contribute how he should.

His skate before practice is short, but he waits around, wandering in and out to watch, using the blender in the kitchen to make a shake and sucking it down grumpily while he’s alone. That’s where Chris and Cookie find him, stripped out of their gear but not yet showered. Sidney narrows his eyes at them, but their eyes are kind and their smiles are guileless.

“We got you something,” Chris says; Cookie has his hands behind his back. “Close your eyes.”

“No,” Sidney says, and Cookie snorts.

“You are no fun ever, come on. We’re trying to be nice.”

“Where’s Duper?” Sidney asks suspiciously, looking around. Cookie shakes his head, looking hurt, while Chris puts his hands to his chest, and then he sighs and nudges Cookie.

“Just give it to him, he doesn’t trust us.”

“No respect on this team,” Cookie mutters, but he whips out a huge box and pushes it under Sidney’s nose. Sidney peers down and can’t help the small, slow grin that spreads over his face, his cheeks heating up, as he realizes it’s a new blender.

“It’s a really good one,” Chris says, leaning over him eagerly and pointing at the listed features. “It comes with an instructional DVD and a whole book of smoothie recipes—oh and Duper got you another book of shake recipes, he said to keep you here while he changes—and that thing’s a juicer, so that could be cool, right?”

“Thank you,” Sidney says, clutching at the box a little. They’re both beaming at him, ridiculously proud of themselves, and Sidney feels his chest go a little tight with how much he loves them. “Just, wow, thank you so much.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Cookie says, ruffling his hair—gently, they’re all so gentle, and that’s what he wants to stop. “We need our captain, can’t let your crappy blender do you in.”

“Maureen helped us pick it out,” Chris adds, like he needs to keep assuring Sidney of the blender’s validity. “I swear that’s the best blender you’ll ever find. Oh, and—”

“Did you give it to him yet?” Duper calls in, hustling into the room with his hair still wet from the shower. He frowns when he sees Sidney holding the box and puts his hands behind his back like Cookie had done. “Dammit, you were supposed to wait for me. Now my thing is too obvious.”

“No, tell him why you got that one,” Chris says.

Duper brightens quickly, pulling the book out from behind him and opening it up. He rifles through it quickly and places it on top of the box in Sidney’s lap with his thumb holding it open. “It’s a bacon shake, Sid! It will definitely work in this blender, we checked it out.”

Sidney swallows hard and smiles as wide as he can, ignoring the twinge of pain that’s reminding him it’s almost time for a painkiller and a quick nap. “You guys,” he starts, and then he clears his throat; the room is starting to fill, more guys drifting in post-shower and poking their heads in the fridge, looking over curiously. “This is so awesome, really, I just—”

Geno leads Nealer in, gives Sidney a quick wink while he grabs a water bottle and drops onto a couch. The noise in the room picks up, Morrow telling Nisky a story using broad hand gestures and lots of energy, Beau and Bortuzzo playing rock-paper-scissors for the last Red Bull and missing Iggy, who steals it away with a secretive grin. Sidney looks at them all, looks back up at Duper, Chris and Cookie, and feels that tightness in his chest again, warm and gooey.

“Thank you,” he says again, and Duper squawks, looking appalled.

“Don’t thank us, what is wrong with you?”

Sidney rolls his eyes but laughs a little. “Well what am I supposed to say?”

“You’re supposed to invite us over for a milkshake party,” Chris says sternly, and Sidney grins and imagines it, then, everyone filling up his kitchen and taking turns with the blender and probably making a terrible mess that Geno won’t let him clean on his own.

“Yeah,” Sidney says, because that sounds awesome. “Yeah, let’s do it.”

 

He’s practicing with the team again when he decides enough is enough and kisses Geno once they’ve parked the car in Sidney’s driveway. Geno startles in his seat, taking a few moments to kiss back, but once he does his lips are hungry and consuming and it’s everything Sidney’s missed for weeks, hot and just a little rough. Geno hands reach over the console and grip Sidney by the shoulders, fingers firm and strong, and Sidney moves to fit his own hand in Geno’s hair, to angle him closer, and—

And Geno wrenches himself away, eyes wide. His lips are completely unfair, puffy and slick and pink, and he’s looking at Sidney like he’s a skittish animal that needs to be calmed.

It’s not very far off, really, because Sidney’s heart is beating a mile a minute, just from kissing and the way Geno’s looking at him.

“Sid,” Geno says, already admonishing, and Sidney rolls his eyes.

“Oh my God, my jaw is not going to fall off if you kiss me, geez.”

“I kiss all the time,” Geno tells him stubbornly. Sidney silently curses his literalism, because it’s true—when they’re alone, it’s a rare moment when Geno passes him by and doesn’t drop a kiss into his hair, or lightly to his cheek, or the back of his neck. At night, if he’s staying over, he’ll circle his hand completely around Sidney’s wrist and frown a little because he can do that, and before Sidney can climb on top of him and make the point that Geno’s hands are huge, he will kiss Sidney’s pulse point and melt away any defensive indignation about his weight loss.

But he avoids Sidney’s mouth, always. The issue has moved past annoying and frustrating and is now bordering on insulting, in Sidney’s opinion.

“I mean real kissing,” Sidney says, aware he sounds kind of like a petulant teenager but completely unable to care. Geno blinks at him, not nearly as confused as he’s playing right now, and so Sidney has to huff and grab him by the sweater and try to haul him close again, swearing when he just knocks Geno into the steering wheel and makes him laugh. “Geno.

“Don’t want to hurt you,” Geno says, because he’s a stubborn idiot, always. He’s never been stubborn like this, though, never so hesitant with Sidney, not even in the beginning when neither of them were sure of what they wanted.

Hooking up in the wake of Sidney’s final return from the concussion had left them both floundering a bit during the lockout, not entirely sure of where they stood with each other. Then Geno came back to Pittsburgh, took a long nap, and grabbed Sidney after the first day of training camp, kissing him in an abandoned closet at Southpointe.

There was no hesitation, no questions of want and desire and yes, we’re doing this. Now Sidney kind of feels like they’re stuck in the lockout again, like he’s locked out of the life he and Geno had started to build around this season.

“If I can eat scrambled eggs, I can kiss you,” Sidney says, as firmly as he can. Geno narrows his eyes at him.

“Scrambled eggs, no cheese.”

“Would you give it a rest with the mozzarella—”

“No, will not give rest when you almost kill self for cheese—”

“I’m not arguing about this again,” Sidney snaps, and he pops the car door open and hurries up the driveway before he can remember that he was actually trying to seduce Geno there.

He’s already in his house when he remembers this, and then it’s not like he can go back, that’s not how these things work. Sidney waits in the kitchen, wondering if Geno’s really mad about the mozzarella stick thing again, if he’s just going to leave, if he should swallow what little pride he has left and just go back out there.

And then his front door opens and the lights in the front hall flick on, and Sidney sighs inwardly at himself for not even bothering with them.

Geno looks half-pissy and half-amused when he heads into the kitchen, and Sidney considers the odds of goading him into rough, angry sex. They’re probably not very good, which is the entire problem, the reason he’s clenching his jaw even though he’s not supposed to do that ever anymore.

“You hurt,” Geno says, and he’s already going into Sidney’s cabinets, pulling out the painkillers he’s been dosing lower and lower lately. “Stop clenching.”

“I’m clenching because you’re pissing me off,” Sidney says, and he feels something in him clench harder as Geno’s eyes flash with hurt, way more painful than his jaw. “Come on, you got mad when I said you couldn’t fuck me because of your shoulder, remember?”

“Not mad, you worry for no reason,” Geno says, but he bangs the cabinet door shut a little harder than necessary, like he’s reliving his annoyance. “Sid, need to relax—”

You need to relax!” Sidney yells, and Geno falls quiet, shoulders slumping a little. He’s clutching the pill bottle hard in one hand and it’s an easy decision to cross the room and take it from him, to take his hand and step into his space and look seriously into his eyes. “I’m fine, okay? I’m getting better.”

“Better,” Geno echoes, eyes going hard. “Not best.” That’s a little sideways of what he means but Sidney gets it, and he curves a hand around Geno’s neck to nudge his head down, touching it to Sidney’s.

“I’m close, though. Real close. And I miss you.” The words feel trite and foreign in his mouth but they’re true, even though Geno looks baffled.

“Right here, Sid. Never leave you, take care of you—”

“I know, but—what if I want to take care of you?”

Geno frowns deeply. “You already do. For concussion, for shoulder—now is my turn.”

And he means well, he does, and he’s so, so good to Sidney, but—“I’m talking about sex, Geno.”

There is heavy breath puffed out against his cheek, and then one of Geno’s large hands is quick on his hip, squeezing so lightly. “Supposed to rest, take it easy, let me—”

“We don’t have to have a marathon fuck, I just want—” Sidney lets out a frustrated huff of his own and then digs the words out determinedly. “I want to kiss you, and touch you, and you can touch me. You won’t hurt me.” He leans in closer and, as gently as he knows Geno will only allow, kisses Geno’s warming cheek. “Don’t you want to?”

Geno’s groan rumbles up from deep within him, vibrating against Sidney’s lips, and the hand at his hips tighten just a little. “Not fair, Sid. Know I want.”

“Then let me,” Sidney says, very low this time, capping it off with a firmer kiss to Geno’s chin. He moves up to his mouth and presses there, steadfastly ignoring any twinge of pain, running his tongue over the healing insides of his mouth until it is pressing at the seam of Geno’s lips.

When Geno’s lips finally open for him, it feels like the first time he’d been allowed back on the ice again.

Geno pulling away again after only a few moments is like losing an edge, stumbling and feeling the sick, shaky swoop of panic. Sidney must look as crushed as he feels because Geno wraps his arms around him more completely, like he’s cradling him, and kisses him very firmly on the forehead.

“Take painkiller, eat,” Geno says, voice a thick, sweet rumble against his skin. “Then we go upstairs.”

“Please, Geno,” Sidney breathes out, and Geno lets out a noise like he’d just been punched and kisses Sidney almost immediately, square on the mouth, his tongue darting out quickly. Sidney opens for him in an instant, eager, and Geno’s tongue in his mouth is too good to hurt.

When it’s over, this time Sidney feels like he’s already taken his painkiller, a little hazy and warm and good. He looks up at where Geno’s eyes are burning into him, his face flushed and hungry.

“Won’t hurt you,” Geno says, voice hard enough to make Sidney shiver. “But we go upstairs. Promise.”

Sidney swallows hard and reaches for the pill bottle again.

Geno eats hot, hearty soup with him, splitting up a container that Geno’s mother had prepared for Sidney, pushing the larger portion pointedly at Sidney and keeping his face stubborn and stoic until he rolls his eyes and digs in. It’s easier to relax as the painkiller kicks in and the soup fills his stomach, but Sidney keeps looking at Geno, hyperaware of his fingers curled around his spoon and the heavy drag of his eyes over Sidney’s every move. Geno is so serious, cheeks gently reddened but mouth firm and set in his stubbornness, and Sidney knows he means what he says: he won’t hurt Sidney.

He wonders if they’ll ever get to a point in this thing with each other where Geno will realize that he can, that Sidney wants him so much that anything feels worth it. He hopes so. Now, he eats his soup dutifully and thinks about how hot Geno is when he’s stubborn, as hot as he is infuriating.

Sidney’s ready to bolt upstairs as soon as his spoon hits the bottom of his emptied bowl, but Geno says, “Dessert,” and it sounds almost wicked. Dessert means ice cream, though, softened a bit on the counter and cool on his tongue. Sidney stretches his legs out under the kitchen table until his feet are tangled with Geno’s, going slow eating because Geno’s eyes are telling him to, the painkiller and sugar making his shoulders droop loosely with pleasure.

He’s ready, though, when they finish, when Geno raises an eyebrow at him, his eyes wide like there’s still any doubt for Sidney. “Let’s go,” Sidney says, and Geno’s grin is almost tight.

It is this tightness that makes him ask, feeling ridiculous and off kilter as Geno follows him up the stairs, “You want to, right?”

“Idiot,” Geno says immediately; his face is wide open with disbelief when Sidney looks uncertainly back at him. “Sidney. Want you. You drive me crazy.”

Sidney just looks at him, hoping to convey put up or shut up with his very pointed stare. There is nothing in Geno’s responding kiss but heat and frustration, with no attempt to conceal it as he pushes Sidney gently back into the wall of the stairwell.

They don’t stop kissing, then. It’s not like when he’s eating and he has to take breaks; Sidney doesn’t let those breaks happen, keeps kissing Geno as they walk each other the rest of the way to the bedroom. They bump into the wall once or twice but Geno’s arms are strong around him—careful, still too hesitant, but protective.

He only feels okay to break the kiss when they’re in the bedroom, when he has snuck his hands up Geno’s t-shirt and isn’t stopped. Geno’s skin is warm and smooth and Sidney feels like he’s been starved for it; his hands are shaking slightly when they grip the hem of Geno’s shirt and yank it over his head. Geno stands still and lets Sidney touch him, his chest heaving up and down a bit faster the more Sidney’s fingers skim. Then he touches Sidney back.

Sidney remembers being so careful with Geno not to long again, only ever pushing him lightly, making sure Geno didn’t test his shoulder too much. They have certain preferences and some of those preferences had fallen by the wayside in light of Geno’s injury. Sidney knows he’s not at one hundred percent yet, and knows that he himself is nowhere close, but it’s still a little frustrating to now be on the receiving end of that carefulness, to be tapped and guided when he knows he would once be grabbed.

“Geno,” he says quietly, but Geno shushes him, picking at the cotton of Sidney’s shirt and then tugging it off slower than Sidney would for himself. He swallows hard when he looks at Sidney shirtless, which is dumb because it’s not exactly an uncommon sight, but in another minute he has his hand at Sidney’s waist, lightly pinching at the skin there. Sidney sighs. “It’s coming back.”

“Not enough,” Geno says gruffly, and he sits them both down on the bed so lightly the mattress barely moves.

“I’m eating eggs now, and more meats, and you know the breakfast shakes have crazy calories. Stewie weighed me just the other day and said I was doing really well, he wouldn’t make it up.”

Geno cups the side of his face, smoothing his thumb over the top of Sidney’s cheekbone. His kisses along the invisible trail his finger had left and Sidney sighs and lets his eyelids flutter shut.

The kisses land all over, Geno’s mouth sliding down until it’s buried in Sidney’s neck. He breathes in deeply and Sidney sighs again, slides his hand up Geno’s smooth, strong back and into his hair, cupping the back of his head. Thick curls slip through his fingers until Sidney grips, tugs lightly, and his breath hitches at the deep noise that rumbles out of Geno’s chest in response, the slight sting of his teeth nipping at the spot he’s been kissing.

Sidney pushes into the feeling, moaning eagerly, pressing his fingers where they’re touching Geno’s head. But Geno’s moving again, kissing over his shoulder, and when he stops and looks at Sidney until Sidney can blink and meet his gaze, his eyes are blown and dark and hungry, nostrils slightly flared with his breaths.

“Lay down,” Geno says, so quietly it’s almost a whisper, his accent very thick. Sidney goes, on his good side, and is immediately rewarded with Geno lying next to him, facing him and twisting them into the covers and then covering his mouth with his mouth.

He grows fully hard slowly, with Geno’s tongue winding in and of his mouth very, very carefully, like he’s trying to relearn it. It’s only slightly weird to feel it run over the missing or broken teeth, but it is also good, as fleeting as the feeling is. He feels full with Geno kissing him like this, finally complete again and ready for anything.

Sidney gasps when he feels Geno’s hand brush over his dick, just a quick touch, enough to make him want to rip his pants off immediately and also Geno’s. But Geno’s hands move up, rubbing his belly, over his chest, and he pulls more gasps from Sidney’s throat when he thumbs over his each of his nipples in turn.

Sidney’s hands fumble between them, going for Geno’s fly, but Geno says something soft in Russian and wraps his hand completely around Sidney’s wrist again, pinning it at his side. It thrills him, heating Sidney up all over, and his toes curl where they’re resting against Geno’s ankles, tucked up under his pant legs.

More thrilling is the way Geno rolls his nipples between his fingers, first one and then the other, just hints of what drives Sidney crazy when they’re together. “Please,” Sidney says, and being shushed and denied again is part of it, a different part than what Geno had been doing to him before. Geno kisses him just a bit harder, quicker swipes of his tongue, and Sidney starts to pant into it before long.

He’s aching by the time their pants come off, trying and failing to rut against Geno’s front and getting more aroused every time Geno denies him. Geno has always liked slow, and always been so good at it, and now he’s slow about turning Sidney over, fitting his front along Sidney’s back and letting him feel the hot, full length of him pressed up against him. It feels so good Sidney nearly sobs, and Geno strokes his side as if to calm him and pinches his nipple again, a perfect contrast.

Slow has always been good for them and now it’s different, a new reason, but Sidney can get past that. It’s like before, it’s as good as before, and Sidney whines out loud messily when Geno finally takes him in hand, thrusting his own dick steadily in the crease of Sidney’s ass.

Geno murmurs into his neck, nothing in English, but Sidney probably couldn’t track the words anyway, too lost in the slide of Geno at his backside and the slide of his hand. Every inch of his skin feels hot, stretched thin and overwhelmed, and it takes the simplest press of Geno’s teeth at the back of his neck for Sidney to cry out and come.

The wet, warm feel of Geno coming on him makes everything feel brighter, louder, and Sidney relaxes into it. He feels like liquid, a full, whole portion of everything this season and this relationship had built him up to be, everything this injury had threatened to take away.

“Thank you,” Sidney mumbles, and the harsh breath that Geno sucks in forces Sidney to open his eyes, twist back around to look at Geno and ignore the wonderful mess he feels like.

Geno’s eyes are huge and liquid, his teeth worrying his bottom lip. Sidney reaches out hazily and thumbs his lip away, pressing lightly at the corners with his fingers and then stroking them over Geno’s face, trying to smooth away the lines that shouldn’t be there.

“Sorry,” Geno says softly, and Sidney is screwing up the energy to very quietly yell at him when Geno continues and steals the words away. “You—you scare me, Sid. Sorry I got scared.”

And Sidney has purposely not thought about the scary parts of this, so pointedly focusing on getting back and moving past it. He doesn’t dwell on the bad parts, the way he spits pink sometimes or the still healing incision on the inside of his mouth that could keep him out for longer than he personally feels is acceptable. The mozzarella stick incident was funny because it had to be. He won’t talk about how badly he wants to tear into a steak or let someone slam him into the boards, or even just how much he needs Geno to hold him down and fuck him hard, never mind that neither of them are really healthy enough for that.

Sidney doesn’t like to consider that stuff, to really let it out. But here, under the covers with Geno and covered in their mess, his chest stinging and his neck maybe marked with hints of what can be done to him, he can tip his head forward and close his eyes. He cups Geno’s cheek and whispers what he couldn’t even admit in the hospital, right after surgery.

“It’s okay. I was scared too.”

Geno’s hand circles his wrist, and Sidney isn’t scared any more.