Pittsburgh gets to town on Tuesday, ready for Wednesday Night Hockey. It’s actually Wednesday Night Rivalry, or it used to be, before some genius marketer realized that most of the games that happened weren’t actually rivalries, but just hockey games.
Pittsburgh and Washington is an actual rivalry.
Ovi has been texting Nicke absently all afternoon, wound up because Geno is coming into town. He’s always wound up before they play Pittsburgh. He’s wound up from dinner the night before, when he goes out to dinner with Geno, and he’s wound up through the game, until after, when they fuck.
Wound up Ovi is exhausting, and Nicke has a date of his own.
It’s the first time they’ve gone on an actual date, even though they’ve been texting for a while, and known each other for years. It was just that dating wasn’t really on the table, before. Or maybe it was, and neither of them truly thought about it.
It’s the night before the game, a place not far from the hotel, where they can meet without too much hassle. They get a quiet table in the back, sat across from each other. Under the table, Sid’s feet are bumping against his.
Nicke’s phone won’t stop fucking vibrating.
He’s ignoring it, of course, dropped onto the seat of the booth beside him, on top of his jacket. He catches Sid glancing at his own, facedown on the edge of the table. His keeps vibrating, too.
“Just tell him that you’re busy,” Sid says, twirling pasta around his fork.
“Then he’s going to ask what I’m doing,” Nicke says.
“Then tell him you’re on a date,” Sid says, shrugging. He’s sipping his glass of wine.
“Where would that get you with Malkin?” Nicke asks.
“About forty more texts, honestly,” Sid says, and grins.
“So I’m going to ignore my phone,” Nicke says, “and you’re going to ignore yours, and we’ll have a nice dinner like normal people and not act crazy like our respective Russian friends.”
They do have a nice dinner, and Nicke walks with Sid back to the hotel. They don’t hold hands, not exactly, but their fingers brush together as they walk, too close for casual.
They don’t expect to find Ovi and Geno also in the lobby of the hotel. It doesn’t seem like they’re waiting for them. It seems like they’ve just gotten back from dinner themselves. It’s just a coincidence.
“I knew it!” Ovi says, his voice too loud, always too loud. Nicke makes a face, and Geno snaps a picture of the two of them. “Send that to me,” Ovi demands, reaching out for Geno’s phone. Geno fends him off, texting with one hand.
“Sid, you out having dinner with enemy?” Geno asks.
“You - “ Sid starts, then stops. “I - “ He stops again. “This is ridiculous,” he finally says.
“Yes,” Nicke says, staring Ovi down until he starts to shift from foot to foot nervously.
“We went on a date,” Sid says. “You go on dates with Ovi all the time. And we’re not planning to -”
“Sid, don’t say,” Geno says. All of them know that when the game is over, Ovi and Geno are going to go back to Ovi’s and whichever of them is the winner gets to have the other whichever way he wants him.
“So why am I not allowed to go out to dinner with a friend?” Sid asks. He’s also glaring at Geno, but it’s not having quite the same effect that Nicke staring down Ovi is having.
“You and Nicke friends now?” Geno asks him.
“I’d like to go to bed now,” Sid says, sighing dramatically. “We do have a game tomorrow, and skate in the morning, and - “
“We get it, you have routine,” Ovi says. He leans in close to Geno and says something that neither Nicke nor Sid quite hear all of, but it’s in Russian, anyway.
“Goodnight,” Sid says to them, determined.
“Hey,” Nicke says, and steps in close. He kisses Sid on the cheek. In front of everyone, it makes Sid blush. “I had a great time, you know. And we should do it again sometime.”
“You should actually kiss me goodnight,” Sid says. Both of them are stunned into silence by his saying it, and they end up staring at each other, silent.
“Kiss him already,” Ovi says.
So Nicke does.
He doesn’t look at the group chat until he gets home, as he’s going to bed. There are quite a few messages. A ton, actually, because Ovi has sent the picture that Geno took of Nicke and Sid not-quite holding hands in the lobby of the hotel to the chat. He’s captioned it with traitor nicke dating enemy captain
Most of the comments after that are strings of emoji. One comment stands out to him.
cryptids on a date!
Nicke’s going to have to have a talk with Christian about this later. After he stops snickering about it.