“I’m not doing it,” Sid says, staring at his mom over the kitchen counter.
“Now, Sid,” his mom sighs, stirring something in a mixing bowl, “it would be really helpful if you would just cooperate. Joann and I have been planning this for ages, and I already told her you’d help out.”
“But Mom,” Sid groans, resisting the urge to hit his head on the counter. He’s totally justified in not wanting to be a part of a bachelor auction, even if it is for charity. That shit is just weird, and it’s probably going to only be old ladies and middle school girls there, and Sid really, really doesn’t want to, which ought to be enough to get him out of it.
“Don’t whine at me, young man,” his mom replies sharply, breaking an egg against the rim of the mixing bowl. “I’ve already signed you up. You just have to stand there, let people bid on you, and help carry some nice old woman’s groceries.”
“Besides,” she adds, glaring at him over the counter, “all the money is going towards the children’s hospital. You wouldn’t want to take money away from children, would you?”
Which – okay, this is probably going to be major-league embarrassing, and it’s pretty much certain that he’ll be getting shit from Flower and Talbo for weeks, but also, he can’t say no to helping little kids.
“Fine,” he huffs out, before taking a swig of Gatorade. “I’m going to go do homework,” he adds, sliding off the kitchen stool and grabbing his textbooks in order to head off any hugging that his mom’s planning to do. He has to maintain some dignity, after all.
Of course, he loses any remaining dignity entirely when Flower finds out what’s happening three hours before Sid’s supposed to be in the school gym in some nice clothes with his hands firmly out of his pockets.
“Wait, why can’t you go for burgers with us?” Flower asks. Sid can see his grin getting bigger, but he figures the best way out is to power through, focusing on the knot in the laces of his left skate instead of the way everyone in the locker room has started staring at them.
“My mom signed me up to work at a fundraiser. Some bachelor auction thing,” he replies, concentrating on the knot in his laces.
Flower crows, and before Sid knows it he’s got his face mashed in Flower’s side as Flower pulls him in to ruffle his hair. “Oh my god, Sid, you’re not going to be up for auction, are you? Better watch out for all those girls wanting to get a piece of Mr. Captain here!”
“Ugh,” Sid groans, “get the fuck off me, it’s not like I want to.”
Flower does release him eventually, but the damage is done. Colby and Max come up with increasingly creative ideas of who just might bid on Sid, finally agreeing on a soccer mom who’d make him mow her lawns shirtless. Jordy comes by to mess with Sid’s hair, saying “gotta make it good for the ladies, eh?” as he walks away. Sid bats at him, knowing he sounds whiny when he tells everyone to quit it, but seriously, they all just need to shut the fuck up.
Besides, it’s for charity, for fuck’s sake. Like he could say no to tiny sick children.
Finally, he gets out of the locker room, huffing as he tries to get his hair back in place, when he hears someone call out, “Wait, Sid!”
Sid turns to find the new exchange student hurrying to catch up with him, waving and grinning as he goes. Geno’s only been at the school for a couple weeks, newly arrived from somewhere in Siberia, but he’s nice, and smiles a lot at Sid in Chemistry and during practice and when they’re hanging out with the team. Also, he’s really, astoundingly good at hockey despite having not gotten the chance to play a game with the team yet, so Sid rocks back on his heels and waits for him.
Geno skids to a stop next to him, red cheeked and grinning goofily. He has a good four inches or so on Sid, and Sid has to crane his neck a little to look at his face. “What’s up, Geno?”
Geno hums for a second as he thinks, mouth moving a little, before he finally asks, voice deep and accented, “What is … auction?”
“Oh,” Sid says, twisting his lips as he thinks. “It’s, um … you say how much you’ll pay for something, and then someone else says they’ll pay more, and, um, whoever pays the most gets the thing.”
Geno frowns at him. “But Sid isn’t thing.”
“No, I – they’ll pay for an afternoon with me,” Sid replies, and Geno bites his lip.
“So, anyone can do? Pay?” he asks.
Sid nods. “I mean, it’ll probably be all moms and daughters and stuff, I don’t know,” he says, frowning as he rubs the back of his neck, and Geno laughs.
“Poor Sid,” Geno says, giving Sid a shove to the shoulder and grinning when Sid glares at him. “Deal with old lady or young lady. Too awkward, talk hockey until they go away.”
“Shut up,” Sid retorts, elbowing Geno back. “I’m not that awkward.”
“Are so,” Geno replies, eyes crinkling as he smiles. “Is okay, team likes, I like.”
“Ugh,” Sid groans as he turns to leave, but when he starts walking towards the exit to the parking lot, Geno falls in step with him, bumping his shoulder.
“You be fine,” Geno says finally as Sid pushes open the doors. “Who knows, maybe nice person pay for you.”
“Hopefully,” Sid sighs, and as he turns to head towards his car, shivering a little in the November chill, he waves at Geno. Geno smiles and waves back before turning to walk home, his long legs carrying him down the sidewalk. Sid stares after him for a few seconds, then he shakes his head and walks towards his old shitty Honda, wrenching open the door and cranking up the radio. By the time he’s pulling out of the parking lot, music as loud as it’ll go, he’s almost put the smile on Geno’s face out of his mind.
So Sid’s mom totally, definitely lied to him about how easy this would be.
He can’t stop fiddling with his shirt hem, wishing desperately that he was anywhere but here. He managed to convince his mom that he could wear jeans and a button down instead of his good suit, but he’s still fighting the urge to shove his hands in his pockets, or possibly turn and run out the gym’s fire door.
“And next up,” he hears Joann say into the mike, “we have Sidney Crosby!”
The mom on bachelor-herding duty gives him a shove, and Sid stumbles out onto the platform thing that the PTA set up for the fundraiser. As the audience claps politely, he waves a little. However, once the noise dies down, he drops his hands by his sides, unsure of what he’s supposed to do next.
“High school junior and captain of the hockey team,” Joann says as a start to her spiel, and Sid stares out at the audience. Most of it is women around his mom’s age, occasionally accompanied by a bored husband, and sometimes a bored teenage daughter. He sort of zones out looking everyone over, and jumps when he hears Joann say, “Let’s start at twenty-five dollars. Anyone for twenty-five?”
Sid expects absolutely no one bidding on him, but then some lady raises her paddle, and Joann cheers. “Great! How about thirty?”
To Sid’s astonishment, the price just keeps rising and rising, reaching a hundred in what feels like seconds and only adding to Sid’s sense of impending doom. Apparently a whole bunch of soccer moms – or their daughters – think that over a hundred dollars is not too much to spend for an afternoon in Sidney’s company, and it’s only the memory of his mom’s warnings of dire consequences that keeps him from shoving his hands in his pockets and wincing. When they break two hundred, he can’t help glancing over at Joann, hoping that they’ll maybe stop soon, but she just grins at him and keeps going.
Finally, it’s down to two moms duking it out around two hundred and fifty. Sid resigns himself to spending an afternoon doing yard work or, even more awkward, a dinner date, when a distinctly male voice calls, “Three hundred!”
“Three hundred?” Joann repeats, and Sid whips his head around, searching for the source. He can’t find them until the voice calls out again, and then he sees –
Geno, standing at the back of the crowd, waves his arms at Joann. “Three hundred,” he repeats, and Sid stares at him, because what is Geno doing here? What the fuck is Geno doing here?
“Going once,” Joann trills as Sid keeps staring at Geno, “going twice – sold! To the young man in the back!”
Another one of the PTA moms comes to usher Sid offstage, but he can’t stop looking at Geno, who’s talking to one of the people in charge and handing over his cash – and then Sid’s offstage, wondering what the fuck just happened.
He doesn’t manage to see Geno after the auction, so he lies in wait once practice finishes up the next day, hanging around the locker room and playing with his phone until Geno finishes getting dressed. As Geno makes to leave, Sid grabs him by the elbow, towing him down the hall until they’re out of earshot of the rest of the team.
“What did you do that for, at the auction?” he asks, bouncing on his toes and looking at Geno, who scrubs a hand through his hair. His hands are huge, Sid notes, good for hockey, and Sid gets distracted watching Geno push back his hair and huff out a breath.
“I pay for afternoon with Sid, yes? Think you can help with hockey, face-offs. Three hundred not too much,” he says finally, and Sid blinks at him.
“You want hockey lessons?” he says blankly, and then, “I mean, I would do it for free, Geno.”
“I know,” Geno says, face splitting in the same crinkly-eyed smile. “Maybe I want save you from soccer moms.”
“Oh,” Sid says, biting his lip. “Well, thanks, then. For saving me.”
“Welcome,” Geno replies, bumping Sid with his shoulder. “See you Friday, do lessons?”
“Yeah,” Sid replies, “yeah, for sure.”
Geno waves and smiles, turning to walk down the hall, and Sid blinks, frozen in place for a moment before he’s able to shake himself out of it and head towards the parking lot.
Friday, he finds himself at the rink with Geno, trying to figure out how to simulate face-offs without a ref there for the puck drop. After a couple of failed attempts at dropping the puck and getting in place, he gives up on doing it with Geno, instead deciding to work on Geno’s stance.
“Here,” he says after skating a loop around Geno, looking at the way Geno holds his stick and shifts his weight. “You need to be more – ugh,” he says, “like this,” and moves in to push at Geno’s shoulders, moving his arms where they need to go.
“More like this,” he says, shifting and poking Geno until he’s exactly where he needs to be. He hooks his chin over Geno’s shoulder to get a better look at his hands, nudging his legs so they’re more stable.
“That better?” Geno asks, voice a low rumble, and Sid realizes he’s practically plastered up against Geno’s back.
“Yeah,” Sid says, letting go and skating back, creating some space between them and feeling his cheeks heat up. “Yeah, uh, you’re good.”
“Good,” Geno says, turning his head to look at Sid sidelong. “Can move now?”
“Oh, yeah,” Sid mumbles. “Just, uh, try to stand more like that, yeah?”
“Okay,” Geno replies, before shooting Sid a grin and slapping the puck, skating away towards one of the goals. “Bet you can’t catch!” he calls down the ice.
Sid can’t help the huge, honking laugh that bubbles out even as he pushes off, chasing after Geno. “Cheater!” he calls back, skating close enough to strip the puck away and head towards the other end of the rink.
He hears Geno laugh behind him, gets lost in the sound of it and the scrape of his skates on the ice. A few seconds later Geno catches up to him, shouldering into his space to try and take the puck away, and Sid wraps it around Geno’s leg, picking it up again on the other side.
“You’ll have to do better,” he chirps, giggling, and Geno laughs again, coming close enough to muscle him into the boards. Sid turns to try to wriggle free, but Geno boxes him in, dipping his head as he tries to swipe the puck back.
“I going to win, Sid,” Geno says, singsong, and Sid can see the flush in his cheeks, the crinkling at the corners of his eyes. It’s enough to distract him from the puck, and Geno sneaks it away from him, crowing as he carries it down the ice. “Told you!” he shouts, and Sid blinks before skating after him, the blood rushing in his ears.
They only play keep away for twenty more minutes, Sid finally calling an end to it when he looks at the clock above the rink and sees that it’s almost six. Sid sneaks a glance at Geno as they sit on the bench and pull of their skates, only to find Geno looking back.
“Thank you,” Geno says, after a few seconds, and Sid startles, before looking down at his skate laces.
“It’s no big deal,” Sid replies, feeling his cheeks heat up. “I told you, I’d do it for free.”
“We do again, then?” Geno asks, and it sounds – it sounds hopeful, like Geno wants to. Which, well, Sid could have guessed that from the fact that Geno spent three hundred dollars to spend time with him, but.
It’s still nice to know.
“Yeah,” he says, glancing at Geno only to get stuck on the curve of Geno’s smile. “Yeah, we can do that.”
“Sid best,” Geno says, and Sid ducks his head, hoping that the skating disguises his blush.
They walk out together, only parting ways at the parking lot. When Geno turns for home, Sid pauses, and then turns to call at Geno’s back, “Want to come over tomorrow? We could, I don’t know, work on homework or something.”
Geno turns to look at Sid and gives him a thumbs up. “I come over! Two okay?”
“Yeah,” Sid replies, and Geno nods at him, walking backwards for a few steps until he trips over the curb and has to turn around. Finally Sid goes towards his car, unable to keep from bouncing a little as he walks.
Geno shows up promptly at two, standing on the Crosby’s doorstep with his backpack and a smile. Sid’s mom gets the door and ushers Geno into the kitchen while Sid trips around the living room, stiff legged from watching too many episodes of Chopped with Taylor.
“Sid! I didn’t know you were having a friend over,” his mom says as Sid stumbles into the kitchen, trying to shake the pins and needles out of his legs.
“Yeah, um, this is Geno, from the team,” Sid says, walking over to grab Geno’s elbow and pull him towards the stairs. “We’re going to do homework up in my room, so, um, that’s where we’ll be.” He drags Geno up to the second floor, ignoring whatever question his mom asks in favor of shepherding Geno into his room, feeling thankful that he sort of cleaned up yesterday.
After looking around, Geno drops his backpack in the middle of the floor. “So,” Sid says, pulling his comforter straight so they have a place to sit, “what do you want to work on first?”
Geno makes a face. “English,” he groans, giving Sid a long-suffering look. Sid doesn’t mean to laugh at him, since that’s kind of mean, but he can’t help the giggle that bursts out, though he does try to look sorry when Geno responds by pulling an even longer face.
“Okay,” Sid says, after looking over his stuff, “I guess we can just, I don’t know – you can ask questions and we’ll just work on stuff, yeah?”
Geno hums his assent back at him, unzipping his backpack, pulling out his ESL textbook, and settling in next to Sid. They’re close enough to brush elbows, and Sid has to blink for a few seconds before grabbing his copy of The Scarlet Letter and getting to work.
It turns out that Geno’s a really good person to study with – he doesn’t get distracted too much, unlike Flower or Talbo, and when he asks questions he accepts Sid’s explanations even though Sid’s probably babbling or hard to understand. Best of all, he never calls Sid out on how awkward or weird he can be. Sid manages to get through six chapters of The Scarlet Letter before he’s finally too bored to function, and when he suggests switching to chemistry, Geno goes with it, easy as anything.
After they go over one too many questions about ironic (or maybe it’s ionic) bonding, however, the study session turns into watching crazy goals on Youtube and talking about the game against the Knights in two weeks. Geno might be in ESL English, but he can talk enough about hockey to ask about special teams and offensive strategies, and Sid gets into it enough to start talking with his hands, sketching out plays in the space above his head. He thinks Coach Dan is going to put him on a line with Geno, maybe even permanently, which – Sid can’t help getting excited about that, about the possibility of looking over his shoulder and finding Geno next to him.
“You’re amazing,” he says, gesturing up at the bed where he’s flopped on the floor, “I mean, you’re just – you’re so good. You’re going to be so good.”
“How can be sure?” Geno asks, peering at Sid from on top of Sid’s bed.
“Because I know,” Sid says, turning his cheek against the carpet so he can look back at Geno. “I’ve been watching you during practice, and I saw some of your tape from when you were in Russia, and – you’re really good, and you’re only going to get better.”
“Best?” Geno asks lightly, but Sid chews the inside of his cheek, because Geno may be joking, but Sid isn’t, not really.
“Yeah,” he says, “yeah, maybe. You could be.”
Geno grins at him, a big bright thing that makes Sid’s breath shake on the exhale. “Glad you know I best.” He pauses, then says, tongue poking out of his mouth, “Sid next best.”
“Thanks,” Sid replies drily, but Geno just sticks his tongue out at him, laughing when Sid frowns at him.
“Is okay, I help Sid on ice, make us score,” Geno says cheerfully, and then starts asking about the other team’s defense. The ensuing conversation takes long enough that Sid’s mom starts yelling up the stairs about dinner, asking if Geno wants to stay and eat.
Geno glances at Sid, biting his lip. “Okay if stay?”
“Yeah,” says Sid, “yeah, totally. I think my mom made lasagna.”
“Mmm, good,” Geno says with feeling, following Sid downstairs into the dining room, where Sid’s parents and Taylor are already starting to dish up food.
Sid’s kind of afraid dinner’s going to be awkward; when he has Flower or Colby over, they’re able to keep up with the conversation. Fortunately, Taylor decides that Geno is quite possibly the most interesting person she’s ever met and spends the whole time asking him questions about Russia, and any fears Sid has about his dad questioning Geno too much or his mom asking loaded questions about dating subside.
“It’s cold there?” she asks, not even looking at her salad as she spills it on the table, and Geno nods at her, face screwed up in a mock-serious expression.
“Very cold,” he replies. “Snow all the time. Sometimes I no have toes, because so cold.”
“That can’t be good for your skating,” Taylor replies, frowning at him, but Geno just winks back easily.
“Is okay, I grow them back.”
“Good,” Taylor replies, taking a huge bite of lasagna. “You need toes so you can skate with Sid, right?”
“Yup,” Geno agrees. “Very important that I skate with Sid.”
Sid feels himself flush a little, but fortunately his mom takes the opportunity to ask what team they’re playing next, and Sid covers by taking another bite of lasagna before talking about the joke of a game next Thursday.
When Geno’s mom comes by after dinner to pick him up, he says thank you to Sid’s mom and gives Taylor a hug before stepping out the door. “See Monday, Sid!” he calls as he gets in the car, and Sid waves stupidly for a few seconds before hustling back inside.
“Well he seems like a nice boy, Sid,” his mom says as she makes him help do the dishes, and Sid squirms. Ever since he awkwardly mumbled that he liked boys over the dinner table, his mom has asked after every single guy friend he’s brought home, even Flower and Colby.
When it’s clear his mom is expecting an answer, Sid says, “Um, yeah, Geno’s pretty cool, I guess.” Fortunately, he’s on the last few dirty dishes, and as soon as he puts the last plate in the dishwasher he manages to escape up to his room. He can hear his mom laughing as he goes up the stairs but ignores it, remembering how Geno talked about skating with Sid and feeling something warm spark in the pit of his stomach.
“So who ended up buying your services?” Flower calls as soon as Sid walks into practice on Monday.
Sid flushes red, the tips of his ears burning, but he refuses to give in, going straight to his stall and getting to work on putting on his pads. Maybe, if he just waits them out until practice starts, he can pull Geno aside and ask him to not say anything.
“No seriously, who wanted to see the Creature?” Colby asks, earning himself a laugh, and Sid focuses on changing into his Under Armour.
“I buy,” Sid hears, and everyone in the locker room turns to look at Geno.
“You,” Flower says, gaping a little. “You bid on Sid?”
Geno shrugs, pulling his t-shirt over his head and huffing when everyone continues to stare at him. “Sid give hockey lessons, help with shot, face-off. No big deal.”
Flower looks like he’s just about to make it a big deal, but Coach Dan walks in just at the right moment, and everyone pays attention to getting dressed for practice instead.
As the team heads for the ice, Sid tugs Geno’s elbow, making him slow down just enough that Sid can talk in his ear. “You told everyone?”
Geno looks at him, shrugging a little. “I pay for lessons, learn good hockey. Is nothing, Sid.”
“But you,” Sid starts, and then stops. He’s not sure why Geno said anything, but Geno’s utter lack of concern for what the team will think is – it’s nice, in a nerve-wracking sort of way.
“Also, I like spend time with Sid. Is good,” Geno says, quirking his lips a little. Then they’re on the ice and Sid has to go do speed drills and be responsible instead of trying to figure out what the fuck that’s supposed to mean.
The game against O’Brian High is exactly the joke it was supposed to be. The Fighting Irish pretty much roll over, and it doesn’t even matter that Geno doesn’t get to play until next week, because Sid’s line with Duper and Kuni still puts up more points than the entire other team combined.
As soon as they’re back in visitor’s locker room, Flower shouts, “Team bonding tomorrow! No exceptions!”
“After practice, I hope,” Coach Dan says drily, and Flower gives him what’s probably supposed to be a winning smile.
“Of course, coach,” Flower replies. “Wouldn’t want to be unprepared for the game next week.”
“And what exactly are we doing?” Jordy asks, and Sid looks up from where he’s pulling off his pads to see what Flower says.
“I’ll let you know,” Flower promises, grinning in a way that seems specifically designed to make Sid nervous.
His suspicions are proved correct when Flower grabs him in the hall after lunch, pulling him to a halt in front of a row of lockers with a particularly shark-like grin. “So,” Flower says, “bowling.”
Sid stares at him. “No.”
“Oh, come on, Sid,” Flower replies, making what’s probably supposed to be a pouty face, but mostly looks stupid. “The whole team will be there!” He pauses, then says slyly, “Your new Russian friend will be there.”
“But I hate bowling,” Sid says in a very reasonable tone of voice – it’s definitely not whining.
“Just because you’re shit at it doesn’t mean you can get out of it,” Flower says loftily, letting go of Sid’s arm to head off to class. “Right after practice!” he calls as he goes, and Sid can’t help letting out a groan before heading off to Calculus.
Fuck, Sid fucking hates bowling.
“Seriously, Sid?” Duper calls, as Sid yet again gets a bumper ball, and Sid grinds his teeth a little. He’s always been shit at bowling, but today he’s been exceptionally awful, only getting forty points in the last round, and so he flips Duper off as he turns back to the table. When he glances over his shoulder, the pins are still standing there, mocking him.
As he reaches the table, Geno scoots over enough for Sid to sit down and thud his head on the table. “I fucking hate bowling,” he mumbles into the counter.
“Why?” Geno asks, poking at Sid’s shoulder. “Is just game, is fun.”
“Yeah, well, you’re good at it,” Sid says, unable to keep the whine out of his voice as he turns just enough to look up at Geno. Geno is good at it, getting close to two hundred points in the last round and somehow managing to avoid the bumpers.
“Sid good at hockey, skate. I good at bowling. Is fair,” Geno says, tongue poking out of his mouth.
Sid squints up at him, unable to keep the frown off his face. “You’re like, secretly an asshole, aren’t you?” he says suspiciously, and Geno laughs.
“No, am nice,” Geno replies with a smirk, and Sid shifts so he’s propping his chin up on his hands, watching Jordy try to hit the last two pins left and fail completely.
“Yeah,” he agrees absently, “yeah, you’re nice,” and when he looks away from Jordy, it’s to find Geno smiling at him, big and bright.
“Glad Sid think so,” Geno says, still looking at Sid. It’s a lot, being the focus of Geno’s grin, and Sid can feel the back of his neck burning, can tell there’s a flush creeping up into his cheeks. When Flower yells for Geno to get the fuck over there and bowl, Sid can’t help feeling grateful, because now at least he can try to stop feeling like his face is on fire.
Sid spends the next week at school full of anticipation for Thursday. He barely pays attention in class, spending most of his time thinking of plays and completely bullshitting his way through the discussion on The Scarlet Letter in AP Lit. Any free time left over is spent with the team, and mostly with Geno. Coach Dan does put them on a line together and they click as well as Sid thought they would, passing to each other effortlessly. Sid can even see his session with Geno pay off, watching him take one of the face-offs in practice and win it more easily than he did two weeks before.
They’re playing the game at home, five pm on the dot, and Sid spends the time before the game exactly as he always does. He makes his PB&J before driving over to the rink, and when he gets there he horses around with the guys a bit before going off to do his stretches and get into game mode.
Geno comes up to him right before they take the ice, meeting his eyes as Sid stands at the end of the line, humming a little as he gets ready to go out and play. “Flower say you go out last.”
“Yeah, I do,” Sid replies, turning his head so he can look up at Geno.
Geno frowns, lips twisting a little. “At home,” he says, slowly, “I go last.”
“Oh,” Sid says, because, well. He does go last, has always gone out last, but Geno probably has too, and it wouldn’t be fair of Sid to demand he get to but it also wouldn’t feel right.
Geno can probably see the dilemma playing out on Sid’s face, because he says, voice a little wry, “Me, three years at school. You, two.”
It takes a moment, but then Sid gets it. “So you’re going last then?” he says, trying to make his voice light, because it’s not as if Sid has to go out last. It just would be better if he did.
For a second, Geno frowns at him, but then he bursts out in a grin. “I have idea, make new luck,” he says, and reaches towards Sid to fold his hand into a fist. Slowly, he leads Sid through some sort of handshake, one that ends with them bumping their helmets together. “We play good, win,” Geno says as they finish, his face close to Sid’s, and the sureness in his voice sinks into Sid, makes him feel certain too.
“Yeah,” he says, smiling at Geno, and turns to follow the team out onto the ice.
They win. They win 4 to 1, and Sid and Geno split three of those goals between them, every pass connecting like they can read each other’s minds. When Geno gets his second goal straight off a beautiful assist from Sid in the middle of the second, he roars, jumping into the glass before opening his arms for Sid to barrel into them.
The mood in the locker room after the game is jubilant. Everyone’s high on adrenaline and flushed with victory, even with the impending threat of school the next morning. Coach Dan barely even yells at them, just tells them all to get a good night’s sleep and not to bother coming to practice tomorrow.
At that, Geno turns to look at Sid, walking over to Sid’s stall as soon as the coaches finish up and everyone heads for the showers. “Sid,” he says, and Sid looks up from pulling off his jersey. “I come over tomorrow, work on homework?”
“I, yeah,” Sid says, distracted by Geno just in his pads, his hair sticking up a little, cheeks flushed. “Yeah, that’s fine.”
“You guys hanging out without me? I am hurt,” Jordy says, swooping in to drape himself over Geno’s shoulders and kick at Sid’s shins.
Flower yells from across the room, “Like those guys want to hang with your ugly mug around, Staaler. You didn’t even help out this game.” It distracts Jordy enough that Geno can shrug him off, and no one notices the way Geno smiles at Sid before going off to shower.
Geno waits around in the doorway after Chemistry, checking his phone as Sid packs up his stuff. He follows Sid out to the school parking lot, laughing a little while Sid fights with the driver’s side door of his Honda.
“Sorry,” Sid says, pulling on the handle until it finally pops open, “it’s kind of old.”
“Not problem,” Geno says, opening his own door with a lot less trouble and sliding into his seat. “Thanks for ride.”
“I mean, how else would you get to my place?” Sid asks, carefully reversing out of the parking spot and heading towards the street.
“Walk,” Geno offers, reaching out to fiddle with the radio. “Okay if I change?”
“Yeah, go ahead,” Sid says, and Geno flips through channels until he finds something upbeat, bobbing his head along with the music. He sings along to the chorus loudly and badly, and Sid bursts out laughing at him, still giggling as they turn down Sid’s block.
Once they’re finally inside Sid’s house, they take a pit stop in the kitchen to find something relatively healthy for snacking before heading on upstairs, Geno waving at Taylor in the living room as they go. When they reach Sid’s room, Sid finds himself once again sitting next to Geno on his bed, staring down Nathaniel Hawthorne as Geno makes his way through his ESL textbook. This time, though, it’s harder to concentrate, as every turn of a page has Geno’s arm brushing against Sid’s, strangely hot even through Sid’s t-shirt.
Eventually Sid gives up on ever getting past page ninety-four and throws The Scarlet Letter at his desk, groaning and slumping against his bedroom wall. “Ugh,” he sighs, “why are these things so boring?”
“This mean I stop now?” Geno asks, closing his book a lot more gently and dropping it on the floor next to his backpack.
“Yeah,” Sid sighs, “I mean, I’m done.”
Geno laughs, and Sid turns his head to look at him. Sitting down, at least, he’s able to look Geno in the eye, but all he can concentrate on is the curl of hair behind Geno’s ear.
“You know,” he says, before he can stop himself, “I’m glad you bought me in the auction.”
“Good,” Geno says, looking down at him, eyes crinkled up and grin splitting his face. “I glad too.”
“I just,” Sid replies, “I’m glad, because now I get to hang out with you, and that – I really like being with you.”
He knows he’s flushing, can feel his face heating up, but Geno’s smiling even brighter. Sid didn’t even know that was possible. Sid watches as Geno leans in closer, enough that Sid can see the sweep of his eyelashes against his cheeks when he blinks.
“Sid,” Geno says, looking Sid in the eyes, and Sid could get lost staring at him, even as Geno reaches out, wrapping a hand around the back of Sid’s neck and thumbing at the hinge of his jaw. “Sid, is okay if,” he says, and then he leans in just enough to press their mouths together, and oh. Oh.
At first Sid’s eyes are open, but as Geno presses closer, close enough that Sid can feel the heat of his body against his chest, they flutter shut. It gets better, after that, turning from a dry press to something deeper, and when Geno licks at the seam of his lips and presses his thumb in the divot just under Sid’s jaw, Sid opens his mouth, lets Geno in.
He must make a noise, because Geno pulls back a bit, Sid’s eyes popping open at the lack of contact. “Sid?” Geno asks, eyes searching Sid’s face, “Sid, is okay?”
Sid has to suck in a breath, because just those two seconds were enough to make him giddy. “Better than okay,” he says, and watching Geno smile at that is like watching the sun come out, bright and cheerful and warm.
“Okay,” Geno says, leaning in, “okay,” and then he’s kissing Sid again, hard and a little bit sloppy and utterly, totally perfect.
It’s easy to lose track of what’s happening, Sid barely even blinking before Geno’s tipping them back on Sid’s bed and pushing himself up on his elbows enough so he can drape himself over Sid. As soon as Geno takes his hands off Sid’s skin Sid misses the contact, so he shoves his hands under Geno’s shirt, running his fingers up and down Geno’s back. Geno shudders into the contact, and he gets even more insistent as he kisses Sid stupid, biting at Sid’s lips and fucking Sid’s mouth with his tongue. Sid tries to give back as good as he gets, kissing back hard and scraping at Geno’s shoulders with his nails, but it’s easy to get lost in the feeling of Geno over him, warm and solid and real.
Slowly they settle down, though Geno keeps peppering Sid’s neck with kisses, biting lightly at the skin even as Sid wriggles and laughs. “Come on, Geno,” he sighs, but Geno just hums at him, the vibration sending something warm up Sid’s spine.
“Maybe I not want stop,” Geno grumbles, but he relents a little bit, settling on his elbows so he can look Sid in the face. It’s a nice view of him – from here, Sid can see the way his hair curls at the ends, the flecks of color in his eyes and how his mouth is pink and swollen just from Sid kissing him.
“Yeah, well,” Sid says, half-whispering, “pretty soon my mom will come up here wondering if you want to stay for dinner, and it’d maybe be better if she doesn’t walk in on us.”
Geno frowns at him, the expression crinkling his forehead. “You not want her know?”
“Not yet,” Sid says, and then, hurriedly, “I mean, I want to date you! Just, you know, I’m okay with my parents not knowing about it for a bit, yeah?”
“Oh,” Geno says, his face clearing, “yes. We date, but not tell yet.”
“Yeah,” Sid says, nodding, and it earns him another kiss, and then another, and then they’re making out all over again.
Sid breaks apart just enough to gasp out, “You can still stay for dinner, though,” and Geno hums in agreement before going back to kissing him. Which, well, Sid probably should put a stop to, since his mom probably will come up to ask about dinner, and be overly excited and nosy, but –
But Sid likes it here, likes having Geno warm and solid above him, his fingers running through Sid’s hair and his mouth pressing kisses to Sid’s jaw and lips and neck, so instead Sid sighs and pulls Geno back in.
On Saturday, Sid wakes up, stumbles into the bathroom to brush his teeth, and finds a small cluster of bruises right under the hinge of his jaw. He pokes at one, wincing a little at the sting, before going back to his bedroom, pulling on an old, worn t-shirt and sweatpants before going downstairs, his phone clenched in one hand.
His mom’s already up, drinking a cup of coffee and watching the news, and Sid pours himself a bowl of cereal, dousing it in milk before settling in the chair next to hers. As the newscaster talks about stock exchanges and weather patterns, Sid’s phone buzzes, and he carefully sets down his spoon before checking it.
hi, is geno! i ask flower for number. want to practice today?
Sid can’t help the grin that spreads across his face as he reads it, and he’s still smiling as he painstakingly types back, sounds good. two okay?
“What are you smiling about?” his mom asks, glancing over at him now that the TV’s switched to a vacuum commercial. Sid would try to head off her investigation, but then Geno’s texting back, a cheerful okay!!! lighting up his screen.
“It’s going to be a good day,” he says finally, rubbing at his neck before sending back :) great and taking another bite of cereal.