"Sid, have you talked to the President this morning?"
"Sid, does the White House have a comment on C3A3?"
Sid shuffles the papers in his arms so that he can move his coffee mug, freeing up a hand to dig in his pants' pocket for his key. "As you can see, I'm just getting in."
"Have you talked to the President this morning?" Tyrone, White House reporter for the Washington Post, asks again, before adding, unhelpfully. "On the phone."
Sid shoots him a scathing look over his shoulder as he gets his key in the door. "It's 6:30 in the morning."
The three reporters shrug. "We're here."
"The President is asleep, because, clearly, he has more sense than you three do." Sid says as he finally gets the door open.
He sighs. "Flower will have something for you at the morning briefing. Promise."
The reporters grumble, but shuffle away, muttering amongst themselves. Sid's pretty sure they're writing curses against his family – Tyrone's always making snide, off-hand comments about his Wiccan grandmother – but, honestly, Sid has other things to worry about.
He pushes through the door, snagging his laptop bag on the door handle. The momentum pulls against his shoulder, the stack of papers tipping dangerously out of his arms. Sid jerks to save them, and his coffee cup falls towards him, the top flying off and warm, brown coffee streaming down his chest.
"Shit," Sid mutters, dropping the papers in his guest chair and pulling the burning fabric away from his skin. His mom sent him this shirt for his birthday, but now it's wet and stained. He sighs, reaching over to flick the button for his messages as he starts undoing the buttons on his shirt.
"Message left at 7:43 PM.
Sidney Crosby, this is Alex Ovechkin. Of the Washington Capitals. I see your interview just now, on the news. I have thoughts on this C3A3 bill. Please call the Caps PR office, they know where I am."
Sid sighs. Flower had warned him about doing his first real public-facing interview last night. 'It will bring out all the crazies,' Flower had said, waggling both his eyebrows and his index finger.
Sid's message machine clicks over.
"Next message. Message left at 8:57 PM.
Sidney – can I call you Sidney? This is Ovechkin again. I am captain of the Capitals? I hear you talk about requirements for orphanages, and I run charities for orphanages in Moscow. I have thoughts."
Sid finishes unbuttoning his shirt and slips it off his shoulders. He throws it over the back of a chair, where it will probably sit for months, until his secretary finds it and sends it to the cleaners.
"Next message. Message left at 9:38 PM.
Sidney, is Ovechkin. Again. I not only have orphanages in Moscow, but also Washington. Also, you can call me on my personal phone. Anytime. 202-389-2277. This is important."
Sid sighs again, pulling his undershirt out of his pants and lifting it over his head. His chest is damp and hot, and he wipes it with the edge of his shirt.
"Next message. Message left at 5:22 AM.
Sidney, is Ovechkin. I have more thoughts on C3A3. I am jogging, fresh air is good for the mind. Maybe you should jog sometime, then you won't do stupid things like this bill. Call me."
The message machine beeps that it's finished, and Sid takes a deep, steadying breath.
His office door opens on the exhale. "Hey, Sid, good morning. Why are you naked?"
Sid glares at Flower as he pulls a fresh undershirt out of his desk drawer. "I spilled coffee."
"Why'd you do that?"
"It wasn't on purpose."
Flower raises his hands, palms up. "Never said it was, no need for whining."
"I'm not," Sid says in what he's pretty sure isn't a whine.
"I already had this fight with my two year old this morning, so, I'm just going to skip past this part of the conversation." Flower crosses his arms over his laptop, pulling it close to his chest as he starts walking away from the Communications Bullpen. "The President's waiting for senior staff."
Sid takes a deep, steadying breath as he pulls his undershirt over his head and slips his arms into a clean shirt as he jogs to catch up.
It's going to be a long day.
"And we're all good with C3A3?" President Johnson looks directly at Sid, and Sid has to fight an internal battle not to flush at the attention.
C3A3 is the first bill Sid's lead in all the years he's worked for first Senator-, then Candidate-, and finally President Johnson. For over a year, he's been asking for more policy responsibility, so when the President dropped the ailing C3A3 bill in Sid's lap, he'd jumped at the chance. There's a lot riding on it, both for himself and for the President's agenda.
Sid pats the thick, printed bill in his hands. "I have the final version right here. I just want to read through it one more time-"
Flower rolls his eyes. "For the fifth time."
"-but I'll get it to the Speaker by lunch," Sid finishes, glaring at Flower.
Flower rolls his eyes again, dramatically.
"Okay." President Johnson taps his pen against his desk. "I don't need to remind you all how important C3A3 is. This bill will help a lot of children."
"And will piss off a lot of Republicans," Tanger adds.
"Nothing wrong with that," the President agrees. "Okay, go, do your jobs. I've got things to do."
"A meeting with the German ambassador," Olli fills in, holding up a file and President Johnson's glasses. "Then the Washington Capitals."
"Right, right," President Johnson slips the glasses onto his nose and opens the folder. "Geno, you're coming with me to the Capitals thing? I was told the captain is Russian."
"Yes, sir," Geno promises as he falls into line, bumping shoulders with Sid as they file out of the Oval Office. "You come? Is hockey thing."
Sid holds up the giant stack of paper he's carrying regretfully. "Can't."
"Take a break, Sid. Is not good to work so much."
"Sure, cause you're such an example of a healthy work-life balance."
Geno shrugs. "Life is work, is all the same."
Sid laughs. "Exactly."
Geno looks slightly offended, but he shakes it off as he turns into his office, calling behind him, "if change mind, Rose Garden at 11."
"Sure," Sid promises, before he closes his door, pulls out a red pen, and forgets all about it.
Sid's less than halfway through the 300-page bill when his door bangs open. Sid jumps, scratching an angry red mark across the page he's reading as he bangs his knee against the underside of his heavy wooden desk.
"Fuck," he mutters, glaring at the man in his doorway. He's tall, with a scruffy, salt-and-pepper beard and shoulders that stretch across the doorframe. He's wearing a red Washington Capitals jersey with a 'C' across his heart. Sid frowns and asks, "Do I know you?" even though he already has a sinking feeling that he does.
"Alex Ovechkin," the man says, pointing to himself. "I leave you messages."
Sid rubs his fingers across the bridge of his nose. His knee aches.
"Many messages," Alex adds. "About the orphan law."
"We generally try not to call it that, makes it sound bad."
Alex waves his hand dismissively. "Bad law, bad name."
"It's not a bad law," Sid argues, automatically, even though he should really call Geno to come gather his clearly-a-bit-mad countryman rather than engage him. "It gives money to children's health. It's the best kind of bill."
Alex takes Sid's argument as an invitation, and he steps into Sid's office, standing in front of the desk. Sid stands, to even the advantage.
"Law require many things. Money only goes to orphanages that teach – what is called? – the no sex."
"Abstinence," Sid supplies, just barely keeping himself from rolling his eyes.
"Abstinence, yes." Alex crosses his arms across his chest. "Law help some kids, not others. Bill that chooses between kids is the worst kind of bill."
"Helping some kids is better than helping none." Sid taps his red pen against the bill on his desk. "There are compromises that have to be made. You wouldn't understand."
"I can play hockey and have brain."
"I didn't mean because you're an athlete," although, Sid thinks, he did, kind of. "I meant because you're Russian."
Alex's face twists, his eyes widening as he points to himself with a 'who me?' gesture. His eyes, Sid notes against his will, are a bright shade of blue. "I not know if I should be more or less offended for my country."
"You're not my constituent, so you'll have to forgive me, but, I don't really care."
"Kids are Americans," Alex's face lights up, and he uncrosses his arms, speaking with his hands. "I have orphanage in DC. You come, see kids. You not listen to me, you listen to American kids." Alex ends the sentence with a period and a nod, like it's settled.
Sid takes the period as a question mark. "I'm not going to go to an orphanage with you. I don't even know you."
"I'm Alex Ovechkin, captain of the Washington Capitals."
Sid does roll his eyes. "I know, you've told me. Many times."
Alex shrugs. "You say you not know. I am athlete, remember, I have no brain."
"How can I get you to leave me alone?"
"Come to orphanage."
Sid sighs, and he knows he's going to regret this. "Okay, okay, fine, if only to get you of my damn office, I'll come."
Alex grins, and his whole face lights up.
"Who they?" Alex asks, waving his hands wildly as Sid meets him in the front hall of the orphanage.
It's a big, grey building, with wrought-iron balconies and more than enough space for at least 20 children. Despite himself, Sid is impressed.
"Camera crew, a couple of journalists."
"Is not PR thing," Alex crosses his arms across the worn Team Russia t-shirt he's wearing.
"Like the Caps PR team doesn’t write a story every time you make one of these visits."
Sid glares right back.
He's not sure how long they would have held out, if a group of children hadn't raced down the staircase to skid to a stop between their feet.
"Ovi, Ovi, you're back!"
"Are you here to play?"
"Did you bring presents?"
"Did I bring presents?" Alex laughs, pulling a young boy into his arms and tipping him on his head. The kid screams in delight, his hair falling down around his ears as he kicks his feet around Alex's head. "Only good boys get presents. Were you good boy?"
"Yes, yes," the boy laughs.
"Hmm, I not know. Did you clean dishes when Ms. Clara ask?"
"Did you help sisters with homework."
"I'm not old enough to do homework."
"Oh, well, we let that pass then, yeah?"
The boy nods, his face starting to turn red before Alex rights him.
"Maybe you get presents then. Go check outside." The kids tumble out the door, and Alex motions for Sid to follow him.
"You spoil them," Ms. Clara chides from the sidelines, crossing her arms over her chest and tapping her foot against the asphalt.
Alex laughs from under a pile of kids and hockey sticks. "Is just hockey equipment. Is good for kids to play sport. Makes them active, teaches teamwork. Is good."
"I actually agree with that," Sid says, a little surprised himself, as he rests his chin against his stick.
"No." Alex emerges from under the children, his hand to his chest, making a wide 'O' with his mouth. "Is impossible."
"Yeah, yeah." Sid taps Alex's shins with his stick. "Team captains? I'm so looking forward to beating you."
"He is cocky." Alex raises his eyebrows and flexes a bicep. "He will learn."
Sid's team wins. Or, at least, Sid knows they won. Alex put five-year-old Sammie in charge of scoring, and he got distracted halfway through, but Sid's internal score clock was working just fine.
"You no know for sure," Alex argues as he finishes picking up the hockey equipment from the driveway and wipes his hands on his jeans.
"I do," Sid insists, leaning against his car and adjusting his sunglasses. It's close to sunset, and Sid's already making a list in his head of all the things he has to do to make up for taking this chunk of his afternoon away from the office. He points at his head. "I kept score in here, not that you'd understand that."
"Oh," Alex joins Sid by his car, "I know."
Sid grins. "Then you know I won."
Alex shrugs, pushing his hands deep into his pockets and hunching his shoulders. "Is not the win I want."
Sid sighs, feeling his chest clench around the way Alex looks, his face dropping under the weight of a bill Sid's dedicated his career to pass. "Alex, don't-"
Alex leans against Sid's car, bumping their shoulders, and changing the subject. "You are good at hockey."
"No need to sound so surprised," Sid chastises, but doesn't move his shoulder. "I used to play a bit, in Nova Scotia."
"Should have keep playing."
"We can't all be professional athletes." Sid shrugs, kicking at the edges of the driveway with the toe of his shoes. "I fucked up my knee, decided I wanted to help people. So I got into politics. Hockey was never a real consideration."
"I play hockey and I help people."
"Yeah," Sid shakes his head. "What you're doing here- it's incredible. These kids are so happy."
Alex shrugs. His shoulder is strong and hard against Sid's. "I do much as I can, but so much more could be done if they had more money."
Sid sighs, frustration exhaling through his nose. "C3A3 is supposed to help with that."
"Ms. Clara believe in the safe sex talk. To keep more orphans from being born, and living in houses like this."
Sid closes his eyes. "There are so many kids this bill will help."
Alex pulls away and Sid misses the warmth and the pressure of his body. "Just not these kids."
"I don't know what I can say-"
"Say you will at least play rematch? Before the Caps game? Saturday? The kids come to watch the game, they will be happy to see you again."
Sid wants to say no.
Sid should say no.
He has a bill to pass, speeches to write, interviews to prepare for.
But Alex's face is sad and drooping again, and Sid can still hear the kids laughing and chatting inside the house. Sid's mom always did say he was a sap.
The kids love the game.
Alex presented them all with little Ovechkin jerseys, all signed and with the 'C' on their chests.
Sid loves watching them watching hockey. It reminds him of what it was like, when he was a kid in Nova Scotia. When his dad would pick him up from practice with warm mittens and a cup of hot chocolate, and they'd sit in the stands together, watching the older kids.
Sid had wanted this, one day, long ago.
He forgets that most of the time.
"Sid, Sid." Sammie leans over his chair, an iPhone in his small hands. "Wanna see again?"
Sid sighs. "If I must."
Sammie laughs, but presses play.
It's a video he took earlier, during the rematch that – Sid won't ever let anyone forget – Sid's team won. Again.
Sid is pretty sure, though, that had Alex pretended to be the world's worst goalie to boost the kids' confidence. He let them score on every shot and Sid watched him dump at least one puck into his own net when no one was watching.
Alex's generosity, however, hadn't included Sid. As Sid watches, the Sid in the video takes off on a breakaway. He's a little wobbly, and the puck hops a bit on his stick, but he had been pretty sure that he was going to score. And he would have, if Alex hadn't reached out with his goal stick and blatantly tripped Sid, before tackling him to the ice and motioning for the kids to join him.
"That was an illegal play," Sid grumbles.
The kids laugh.
And then forgets all about it as the kids start asking questions about the game, and Sid spends the next period and a half explaining the nuances of hockey. He has to dredge them up from the rusty edges of his memory, but they're still there. His dad would be proud.
Politics, his dad is fond of saying, has made Sid go soft. If his dad only knew what an hour was like on Capital Hill.
The Caps win 3-1, on a goal and two assists from Alex.
He's announced as the game's first star, and the box erupts around Sid. Sid even cheers a bit himself, although he'd never admit it.
"Well, Ovi, that was quite a game," the announcer greets Alex as he skates to center ice. "Congrats on the win. You seemed to be playing with extra fire tonight?"
"Yeah," Alex agrees, looking right up at the box. "I brought a bunch of kids tonight. They are always worth playing extra for." Alex waves up at them.
The announcer grins. "That's very generous of you."
Alex shrugs, leaning against the end of his stick. "They live in an orphanage I work a lot with here in DC area. They might have their funding taken away soon, so, I want to do something nice for them."
Alex grins into the camera.
Sid really does fume this time.
"What was that?" Sid accuses, the moment they get out into the players' parking lot.
Alex stops next to his car, opening the back door to throw his duffle bag in, then rounding on Sid. "Why did you come to this game?" He asks, his voice thick and strained.
Sid shrugs. "You asked me too."
"Sidney Crosby does not do what he does not want to. Why you come?"
Sid spreads his arms and gives up the pretence. "It's good PR, alright? It makes a good sound bite that'll play on all the news shows for the next 24 hours."
Alex crosses his arms, self-satisfied. "You use news, I use hockey."
"You're using your fame to fight against a bill with consequences that you can't possibly comprehend."
"It hurt kids," Alex says like it's the most obvious thing in the world. "That is simple. Even I comprehend that. You are smart political type, you should understand, also."
Sid wishes it was that easy. He remembers what it was like when the world was black and white. Back in Cole Harbour, when he was volunteering on local grassroots campaigns. When he'd meet with a constituent who wanted less rubage in the park, and a week later Sid would be out there with an organized group of volunteers to pick up littering.
But then Sid moved to Pittsburgh, got a job in Senator Johnson's district office. Johnson's a good guy and Sid believed in him from their first meeting, but politics is hard and governing is even harder. Now, Sid knows how expensive it is to keep local parks clean. He knows how many PR dollars go into convincing a community that a park is made for playing rather than prostitution. He knows how strong the infrastructure lobby is, and how much political collateral it costs to build a park rather than an office building or a parking structure.
"You know, most of the time my job is pretty crappy," Sid starts, frustration thrumming through his words. "It's about saving a dollar here, earning a favor there. Small stuff. This – C3A3 – this is big stuff. Giant stuff."
"We agree on something." Alex presses close to Sid, and Sid backs up, pressing his back against Alex's car. "How you sleep at night, knowing you have this power, but do nothing with it?"
Sid points a finger at Alex's chest. "Any day I can make life better for even one kid, I sleep fine."
Alex surges forward, pressing his mouth to Sid's in a clash of tongue and teeth and the warm metal of Alex's car. Alex's mouth is as loud and insistent as it is when he's talking, and Sid flattens his hand against Alex's chest, twisting his fingers in Alex's t-shirt, pulling, tugging, asserting whatever kind of dominance he can as Alex groans and goes willingly.
Sid's breathing hard when Alex takes a step back, and he's pretty sure he has an indent of the door handle in his lower back. He reaches behind him, twisting to massage the indent in his muscles. "What was that for?"
"You are much more attractive when you are not talking."
Alex laughs. "I have practice early in morning, but, call me."
Sid nods. "Sure," he says, not believing himself even as he says it.
"And think about the children."
"You know, you're a lot more attractive when you're not talking either."
Alex looks affronted. "And come up with better insults." He holds up his hand, his middle three fingers raised. "Three things to work on. I think you can handle."
Sid raises his hand, only his middle finger raised.
Alex laughs and climbs into his car, peeling off with a screech of tires.
"You look . . ." Geno pauses, taking a closer look at Sid's face and forgetting the sugar he's pouring into his coffee. "Happy?"
"No need to sound so surprised." Sid nods at Geno's hand. "A bit of a sweet tooth, G?"
Geno swears, righting the sugar carton and taking a quick, dissatisfied sip.
"Here," Sid reaches out. "I'll drink it. I like sugar."
Geno huffs, but hands over the coffee and pours himself another glass. "So, why the look?"
"Nothing," Sid insists. "Just- I may have met someone? I mean, it's not- Not 'someone' someone, but-" Sid shrugs.
Geno's eyes go wide. "Ovi kissed you?"
"What?" Sid splutters, coughing as his coffee goes down the wrong way. "No. What would make you think that?"
"We are both Russian. We know things."
"About kissing?" Sid asks incredulously.
"Among other things."
"I'm a little scared. Should I be scared?"
"I don't know what you two are giggling about," Flower says, wrapping his arms around their shoulders and squeezing between them, "but it can't possibly be as important as what our illustrious President has to say."
Sid slips out from under Flower's arm, but he's still grinning when Olli ushers them into the Oval Office a few minutes later.
"You all seem in good spirits," the President greets them with a smile of his own.
"Sid got laid," Geno offers.
"Sid's going to get laid," Geno amends.
President Johnson holds up his hand. " I have good news that doesn’t relate to Sid's love life. Do you want to hear it?"
"Please, sir," Sid begs. Next to him, Geno drops his head to hide his continued smirk.
"The final 'i's have been dotted and 't's have been crossed. C3A3 will be going up for a vote on Wednesday and it's going to pass."
The senior staff erupts in cheers and backslaps.
President Johnson looks directly at Sid. "Thank you for all your work on this, Crosby. You have the thanks of a grateful President."
"I serve at your pleasure, sir."
President Johnson nods, then waves his hand. "Get out of here, all of you. And make sure you take Crosby out for a drink tonight. I don't want him in tomorrow unless he's seeing stars."
Flower promises as he claps Sid on the shoulder, wrapping his fingers tightly around Sid and leading him out of the office.
"Shots all around," Flower declares, pulling out his credit card.
Sid isn't really one for shots, but he's also not one to turn down free food, not on the still-measly government paycheck he's been getting for nearly a decade.
Flower passes the shots down, and holds his up. "To Sid."
"To C3A3," Sid corrects, before knocking his back.
Sid's already a couple of beers in, and his fingers are tingling a bit as he drops his glass to the table, shaking off the tart burn of the shot.
"If this is what I have to suffer through every time I pass a bill, I'm gonna start working a little less hard."
Tanger chuckles. "The night is still young."
"More shots," Geno promises, and Flower motions for the waitress.
Sid's phone rings in his pocket, and he fishes it out, slipping out of their booth. "Saved by the bell."
The table groans, but Sid ignores them, moving back towards the bathroom to answer the call.
"Sid is alive."
"You promise to call many other boys and not call them?"
"Um." Sid pulls his phone away to check the caller ID, even though he'd recognize Alex's thick accent and jovial voice anywhere. "Not many."
"That is terrible comeback. I give you three tasks – you have already failed at two." Alex clucks his tongue. "I thought Sid Crosby was a winner."
"I-" Sid's head is heavy, his thoughts slow and sluggish. He feels like he's pulling words from a swamp, struggling to find equal footing in the face of the alcohol and the memories of the kiss he and Alex shared not two days ago. "I win things."
"Yeah? Name one."
"At the orphanage. My team won."
"Yeah, yeah," Alex dismisses him, which Sid thinks is unfair. If Alex knew how hard it was for Sid to remember things at the moment, he wouldn't dismiss that example so easily. "I already know that one. Give another."
"I beat you in the scrimmage before the game."
"I know that also. Name something new."
Sid thinks, but all that's in his mind is, "I won C3A3."
Alex goes quiet.
Sid frowns into the phone. "Alex?"
"Yes, I am here. The bill- it has passed?"
"No, I mean, not yet." Sid rubs his forehead. The hallway outside the bathroom is getting crowded, and Sid's skin is starting to crawl with the warmth and the smell and the press of bodies. "It's going up for a vote on Wednesday, but we have the votes we need. It's gonna pass."
"Alex?" The phone is quiet and Sid pulls it away from his ear, glancing at it. Alex has hung up. "Fuck," he mutters, before pocketing his phone and heading back to the table for another round of shots.
Sid's head is raw the next morning.
He doesn't remember a whole lot of what happened between his call with Alex and Flower unceremoniously dumping him facedown on his couch.
He does remember this morning, when Flower woke him up with a fresh cup of coffee and the sports section of the Washington Post.
There, in big, block lettering, the headline story reads, "Washington Capitals Captain Alexander Ovechkin Runs Fundraiser to Defeat (Anti-)Orphan Bill."
Sid is so screwed.
There's a knock on his door and Sid knows who it is before he even looks up.
"Sid, the, ahh, the President would like to see you." Olli says, standing just outside the threshold of Sid's office, his ankles rolled inwards as he twists his fingers.
Sid is definitely screwed.
He pinches the bridge of his nose. "When?"
"Now, if you're free." Olli shrugs. "Or if you're not. It didn't sound optional."
"I'm sure it wasn't." Sid grabs his suit jacket and struggles into it as they make a beeline through the bullpen towards the Oval Office. Olli holds the door open for Sid, then closes it, with Olli on the other side.
That's never a good sign.
"Sidney," the President says. Sid flinches at his full name. "I went to bed last night with a bill to help children in this country. I woke up this morning and that same bill is a PR disaster."
"Care to explain how that happened?"
"Um." Sid struggles with his brain, trying to come up with anything to say that isn't I pissed off the guy I'm maybe a little bit into or did you ever think that he's right?. Sid can't say either of those things. Sid can't even think either of those things. "No, sir."
"No, you don't want to explain?"
"No, I don't know what happened, sir."
"That's unacceptable." The President presses his fist into the papers on his desk as he leans forward. "Your secretary says that Alexander Ovechkin called your office many times, complaining about this bill. It's was your job to handle it."
"I did handle it," Sid says, quicker than he should. He tacks on, "sir," but he's not sure it helps.
"If I was asking for too much by giving you this bill, you should have told me."
"No, it- It isn't too much, sir. You can put your faith in me."
"Good." The President's voice is clipped, but when the door opens, he raises a finger at Olli and focuses all his attention on Sid. "We have a vote tomorrow afternoon. I expect it to pass. Fix this."
Sid spends the day on the Hill, offering everything from land riders to new traffic signs to keep votes.
It seems, however, that most of Congress reads the sports section of the Washington Post.
Sid leaves, frustrated and tired, long after the sun has set and DC's marathon of rush hour traffic has subsided.
The metro trip to the Verizon Center is quick and efficient, and Sid waits in the player parking lot. He leans back against Alex's monstrosity of a car, crossing his arms and his ankles, as streams of fans rush by him, wearing Caps jerseys and painted faces and shaking clappers.
Just a few days ago, he stood in this exact spot, next to his exact car, and let Alex kiss him.
He can feel Alex's body, strong and sure, pushing him back, pulling him forward, all-consuming.
Sid relaxes his body and tries not to think about that.
"Go Caps," one of the fans yells, too close to his ear.
Sid raises his middle finger and shouts back, "not really," before he can feel too childish about it.
"What's your problem?" The fan yells, before blowing his foghorn.
Sid cringes, and settles back in to wait.
Alex's hair is wet, the ends curling around his ears, and Sid has to tamp down the flash of attraction that stabs through him, despite how angry he is.
"Sid," Alex exclaims, grinning as he gets close enough to make out Sid's face. "Did you see fundraiser? You should have told me you coming- would have gotten you a ticket."
"Ovechkin," Sid nods, pushing his hands deep in his pockets. He's been running through this conversation all day, and it had seemed easier, obvious, even. But he feels less confident, less stable, now that Alex is right in front of him.
Alex flinches. "It's Ovechkin now?"
Sid shrugs. "I'm not on a first name basis with guys who sabotage my career, so, yeah."
"I am saving children. It have nothing to do with your career." Alex hunches his shoulders as he bristles.
"I told you about the bill in confidence. It was a milestone in my career, and you're the one I wanted to share that with. Stupid me."
"Sid." Alex sighs, but doesn't drop his shoulders. "I am glad you wanted share it with me."
"I'm not," Sid mutters, dropping his neck. "I've regretted everything I've done since you forced your way into my life."
"You were willing party," Alex argues, his shoulders hunching even further. "And I no think you mean that."
"I promise you, I do."
"And," Alex interrupts, "I no think you are mad at me."
"Who else would I be mad at?"
Sid rips his hands out of his pockets, spreading them wide. "That doesn't even make any sense. And it's not grammatically correct," he adds, spitefully.
"You work for the second most powerful government in world," Alex argues, just as spitefully. "And I raise half a million dollars tonight. What have you done?"
Sid flinches. "What's the first?" He asks, sidestepping the rest as his brain struggles against it.
"Right, of course." Sid shakes his head.
Alex's face softens and he takes a step closer. "I am just hockey player. You have all the real power. You could do so much good, if you would just stop hiding."
Alex is close. Alex's body is warm, still damp from his shower, still musky from the exertion of the game.
Sid doesn't want a replay of the other night, so he steps around Alex, slipping out and away. "I've, ahh, gotta go."
Alex calls his name, but Sid doesn’t look back.
Sid settles into his seat on the Metro, leans his head against the window, and watches the city scroll by.
He tries not to think about what Alex had said, and he tries just as hard not to picture the President's face, telling Sid that this is all on him.
There are so many children that need help and-
The thing is that Sid knows Alex is right.
Sid cares about President Johnson's agenda. He cares about pushing that forward through Congress.
He cares about his job, his reputation, about being a part of important policy decisions. That's why he got into politics in the first place.
He cares about the win, he's competitive to admit that.
And he cares about the thousands of children C3A3 will help.
He doesn't, however, believe in the abstinence clause and he knows that there are so many children that could be helped by this bill, but won't be, because Conservatives have held his face to the ringer and he – in the name of compromise and democracy and the President's directive – bowed to them.
He's also a little proud of what Alex managed to pull off tonight, on such short notice. Not that he'll ever admit that to Alex.
He gets a little thrill when he replays Alex's words in his head. You could do so much good, if you'd just stop hiding.
Alex is right; Sid knows he's right.
By the time he's gotten off the Metro, he's even convinced himself of that.
He drops his shoes and bag by the door, brews himself an entire pot of coffee, and gets to work.
"So," Flower says as he climbs onto the desk next to Sid. "You've successfully voted down your first bill. Congrats." He tips his beer bottle forward, and Sid knocks his against it.
"It was the right thing to do." Sid shrugs. "And tomorrow, we'll start again. Without the riders."
"A good day's work," Flower agrees.
Geno joins them, loosening his tie as he reaches for Sid's beer and takes a long swig. "Bar? I hear we have a failed vote to celebrate."
Sid hops down from the desk, motioning for Geno to keep the beer. "I've actually got someplace to be. Rain check?"
As Sid walks away, he hears Flower ask, confused, "where can he possibly have to be?"
Geno chuckles knowingly, and Sid rounds the corner, out of earshot.
"So, is this going to be a thing?" Alex asks, as he nears his car and makes out Sid's figure leaning against it.
Sid shrugs. "I like the hair."
"Yeah?" Alex reaches up to push wet, curling strands behind his ear.
"Yeah." Sid uncrosses his arms, letting his hands hang loosely at his side. "Thanks, for reminding me what it means to be a public servant."
Alex nods sagely. "With great power comes great responsibility."
Sid laughs, rolling his eyes.
"What? That is the English phrase, yes?"
"In comic books."
Alex purses his lips. "I like comic books."
"Really," Alex promises, affronted. "There are many things you no know about me."
"Maybe I wanna find those out. If-" Sid glances down at the toes of his dress shoes. "If you promise to keep me honest?"
"Great power, great responsibility," Alex promises.
"You're such an idiot," Sid laughs, but when Alex closes the space between them, Sid doesn’t push him away.