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thirty seven thousand feet

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To say Sidney is exhausted is an understatement. Visiting his parents always does that to him though, not to mention the flights between Cole Harbour and Pittsburgh. He’s always loathed flying— the pressure headaches, recycled air, smelly people.

He’s currently teetering his way back to the bathroom, bumping his hips on either aisle seat because he’s always had a little more to love. 

All his parents ever want to talk about it why he isn’t married to a nice girl. All Sidney can think about is how gorgeous the man is sitting two rows up from the bathroom. Tall, from how his legs are cramped, dark and seriously handsome. 

Sidney goes to the bathroom. 

When he comes back to his seat there’s a fresh sprite can next to his plastic cup and a nondescript baggie that looks delicious considering how hungry he is. He folds back into the space, carefully avoiding the middle-aged woman next to him that’s quietly snoring. He feels like he can barely keep his eyes open as he peels the packaging back and empties some directly into his mouth, dreaming about his Egyptian cotton sheets and the steak in his fridge at home. 

And then, his throat seizes up and someone screams. 

Evgeni slides his finger over the letters spelling out fairytale on the Words with Friends board and clicks his tongue against the roof of his mouth. Take that, James. 

He likes word games because it helps with English vocabulary and he’s actually really good at them, a lot better than James Neal, a radiologist who works at the same hospital as him and his best friend. 

He reaches over to grab a water bottle out of his carry on and shuffles around the billion papers that he accumulated over the weekend at the medical conference he was attending. It was fascinating at times, but mostly grueling shoulder-rubbing of big pharma guys and annoying paperwork.

A thick card stock slices his finger open and someone screams as if he was their voodoo doll. His instinct is to stand up, but the pilot had flipped the seatbelt light on ten minutes ago because they were getting close to landing. 

There’s another scream, a woman. Help!

Evgeni stands up. 

Sidney has only been through this twice before. When you have a peanut allergy you get pretty practiced at avoiding them. He’d specifically put it on his travel accommodations.

He really wishes the woman would stop yelling. His throat is tight and dry - like he’d slept with his mouth open all night. Every second that ticks by without oxygen feels like a pound on top of his chest, sandpaper in his lungs. All he can think is breathe, breathe, breathe.

Then, then the man from the back of the plane is in his face, hands on either side of Sidney’s neck and he’s just as handsome as he remembers. 

“Stop yelling.” He tells the woman, calm but stern. “I’m doctor.” Thank god the noise has stopped. Now Sidney can focus on the man and his mouth and... what’s he saying? 

 “Allergic to peanuts?” He asks, gesturing to the opened pack of trail mix that Sidney had jerked out of his hand and spilled all over the tray in front of him. 

He makes a noise— an affirmative grunt he hopes. He can’t speak, he feels sluggish, like all of his limbs are made of balloons filled with wet sand. 

The man is gone but then he’s back and he’s telling Sidney that everything’s going to be okay and stabbing him with something very sharp and Sidney believes him. 

Evgeni communicates to the pilot and Air Marshal what has happened, assures them that his patient should be fine considering they’re, blessedly, twenty minutes from landing. He doesn’t have much else to help him with other than the EpiPen and some Benadryl.

He trades seats with the screaming woman and when the man passes out, it’s on his shoulder. Which is fine by Evgeni, he’s going to follow through and make sure he’s okay.

His hands are still trembling on his thighs. 

When Sidney wakes up the world is on more of a tilt than he remembers. He can feel the warmth of skin underneath a t-shirt and revels in the soft comfort for a numb moment, rubbing his cheek against the cotton. He must make a noise because the man that he was sleeping on helps him sit up straight and smiles at him. 

“Hello. I’m Evgeni.” 

Oh wow, that’s quite an accent. Evgeni has a slightly crooked nose and a generous mouth, that quirks sideways when he introduces himself shyly.

“I’m uh– I’m Sidney. Did I pass out?” He asks, horrified. He would never admit it around his sister, but... Sidney drools sometimes. It’s not attractive.

Evgeni smiles kindly at him. “Only for a little bit. Plane landed, I think wake you up.” 

He looks around and becomes aware of the plane slowly taxiing, travelers rubbing their eyes and yawning largely. 

“What happened to me?” 

“I think you have a peanut allergy, yes?” At Sidney’s nod, the gorgeous man continues. “Trail mix has peanuts.” 

Sidney was so worn out from his parents and his sister and the nonstop anxiety that he’d poisoned himself at thirty-seven thousand feet. 

“Fuck. I’m such an idiot, I wasn’t even paying attention.” 

“It’s okay. Make mistake.” Evgeni doesn’t sound the least bit placating which is refreshing, especially after the weekend he’s had.

“Are you a doctor?” 

Evgeni nods. “When we get off, I want to take you to hospital to get checked. Did you drive to airport?” 

Sidney blinks at him wildly. He doesn’t even know this man, and for some reason he feels completely safe in agreeing to whatever he says next. He shakes his head no. 

“Perfect,” Evgeni says, standing and hooking the fanciest messenger bag Sidney’s ever seen over his shoulder. He watches him carefully as he stands up, shoulders his backpack as well (much to Sidney’s reluctance) and follows him off the plane.

Sidney trails Evgeni out to his car in a daze, still feeling distantly sick and drowsy. Evgeni makes small talk on the way, prompting him gently, nodding along to his answers about how he feels. He probably does that all the time with his patients. 

The hospital is subdued compared to the outside world. Evgeni talks to the woman at the desk and after Sidney fills out some forms he gets called to an exam room. 

He gets vitals taken and other standard medical things that aren’t nearly as interesting as who brought him here. After he gets some saline flowing through him he feels a lot better though.

Evgeni insists that it’s no bother to drive Sidney home after. 

Sidney kind of wants to die. He feels like a child who got picked up by their mom because they got sick in the middle of a sleepover.

“Hey.” Sidney says when Evgeni pulls through his gate. “Listen, I really can’t thank you enough. I mean, for what you did on the plane and everything after and I just uh... was wondering if you’d let me thank you? Let me take you to dinner.” 

Evgeni seems delighted by this idea. “It’s no problem, but yes, would love to have dinner.” 

And that’s. That’s not something straight people say is it? 

They both live in Pittsburgh, so it’s hard to surprise Evgeni with the restaurant. They had agreed to meet Friday night after work to allow themselves time to adjust getting back home. Sidney was an anxious wreck all week, fretting over every detail of their time together, wondering what would happen, banking on making an absolute fool of himself.

When Sidney arrives twenty minutes early to get a table, he walks through the gates to the brick patio and sees Evgeni already in the perfect seat, nestled in the corner. Well. He’s looking down at the menu, his blue and white plaid button down rolled up to his elbows in a way that accentuates very, very nice biceps. Goes-to-the-gym-biceps. Sidney’s mouth goes a little dry as he walks over. 

Da Vinci’s didn’t always seems this romantic of a place until right now, the patio open skied under the stars and string lights cross crossed over their heads. Candlelit tables and jasmine growing in thick vines on the iron fence. 

“Sidney! You’re early.” 

“Says you,” Sidney smiles, trying for playful and probably coming off as rude. 

“Yes. Is nervous habit.” Evgeni admits. 

He’s nervous? Sidney asks himself incredulously.

“Have you been here before?”

Evgeni nods. “Love. Best pasta ever.” 

Sidney laughs. “Gosh. I know.” 

Their server brings French bread with whipped butter and a wine sample, turning into the bottle on their table in an ice bucket and Sidney’s lips stained red.  

Evgeni’s a pediatrician. If Sidney had ovaries they’d be exploding right now. 

“I love kids. I just became an uncle, actually,” Sidney tells him. He’s still a little in denial about:

  1. The fact that Taylor is engaged
  2. Taylor is old enough to date.
  3. Taylor is old enough to do the things necessary to have a baby. Ugh

“I’m going to spoil that little girl so much. She looks just like my sister.” 

“It’s amazing, the resemblance babies have to mom. Even newborns, you can see when you spend so much time around. Is favorite part of job.”  

“Yeah. My sisters blonde, and their eyes are the exact same. They’re both gorgeous.” 

“Ah. So good genes run in family?” 

 Sidney flushes hard. 

The server shows up with their pasta. 

 — 

They met at seven but it’s past ten thirty when they leave the restaurant, slowly walking side by side. 

“Let me drive you, had too much to drink.” Evgeni says. 

“I’m not drunk,” Sidney says indignantly. He also knows he shouldn’t be driving but why not put up a little fight?

“I know. Still, let me take you home. I stop drinking hours ago, eat lots of bread.” 

Evgeni walks him to the passenger door of his Explorer and watches him climb in before closing the door gently behind him. 

They talk on the way home about everything and nothing. Sidney’s light and fluttering in the dark cab, feeling like a laugh could bubble out of his chest at any moment. 

“You know Evgeni, I’m really glad I ate those peanuts, is that weird?” 

Evgeni doesn’t take his eyes off the road, just smiles softly. “I’m glad to find you too, Sid.” 

Sidney had told him at dinner he could call him that, if he wanted and the first roll of it off of his tongue sounds so sweet. 

Evgeni’s hand brushes against his as they walk to Sidney’s front door. 

“Thanks for dinner,” Evgeni smiles. He’s very tall. Sidney wants to reach for him. 

“Thanks for saving my life,” Sidney says back, equally as serious. 

“My pleasure. I can come by in morning and drive you to car.” 

Sidney wets his lips slightly and brushes his fingertips against Evgeni’s strong jaw. He leans in and Evgeni’s arms wrap around his back to pull him into the kiss. Sidney feels small and safe like this, parting his lips for Evgeni’s slow, hot tongue to dip inside. They break apart to breathe, damp lips barely touching.

“Or you could come inside? If you want.”

Evgeni does come inside, but he sleeps in the spare bedroom. They drive to Sidney’s car in the morning and plan a second date for Sunday. He kisses Sidney slow and sweet before he unlocks the door. He tells him to drive safe and text him when he gets home okay.

Sidney is really glad he ate those peanuts.