Geno was an expert at smiling for the cameras and pretending things were fine. He could even put an arm around his mother-in-law when people asked for pictures of the Crosby family. It had been decided - through email because Trina wouldn’t even call Sidney - that they would put on a happy family façade for the Olympics since it was Taylor’s first and possibly Sidney’s last though she hadn’t taken 2022 off the table yet.
Ryan was the angriest of all of them. He wasn’t even technically part of the family yet but he thought it was ridiculous that they were all pretending to be close. Denmark wasn’t playing in the Olympics so he and Geno were there as Taylor and Sidney’s guests along with their parents.
Geno hated the badge he had. It said Athlete’s Family - Team Canada. Every time he looked down and saw the Maple Leaf instead of the Russian crest, his stomach hurt. Sanja had contacted him when he knew that Geno was going to be in Pyeongchang for sure, asking if he wanted to visit and see everyone.
It had only taken him a moment’s thought to say no. He couldn’t bring himself to see the team he had played with two years before at Worlds. They had won gold. They were favored to win gold in Pyeongchang before he had been stripped of his Russian citizenship when he’d married Sidney.
The Olympics brought home that fact that he was technically without a country. He was a permanent resident of Canada, but that didn’t mean he could compete for Canada internationally yet. He didn’t want to even if Russia had agreed to allow him to participate. He would always be Russian even if Russia didn’t want him.
Sidney was captain again this time with Johnny as alternate. They were the elder statesmen on the team and Geno listened patiently as Sidney complained about Giroux (even though they were friends) and how MacKinnon wouldn’t listen to her when it came to curfew for the team.
Every moment of it hurt. He should be talking to her in the Olympic Village, not over the phone, complaining as well about the Russian team, possibly as their captain. Instead Sanja was captain and Geno was in a hotel room with a frustrated Dane who wouldn’t admit to being worried about Taylor.
Pyeongchang was beautiful and Ryan made Geno walk around the city and appreciate the culture. He tried for Ryan's sake. Finally, sitting in a restaurant and watching Geno pick at his food, Ryan gave up.
"Ow," Geno said, surprised when Ryan kicked him hard in the shin. "What that for?"
"For being an ass. I'm sick of it and I'm the one who has to spend the next two weeks with your sorry ass." Ryan scowled at him. "Geno, Sidney gave you an out. She said you didn't have to come."
"He," Geno hissed at Ryan, scowling back at him. "And of course I come. He my husband. Taylor my sister. This important for family."
"You're not acting like it. I know you're not acting like this when you talk to Sidney or Taylor. I know you're only showing this to me. But he's going to notice soon enough. He knows you entirely too well to not notice how depressed you are."
Geno sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Is hard to be here. I should be playing."
"Don't you think I want to be playing too?" asked Ryan. "I get it's not the same thing at all. My country doesn't even get invited to the Olympics. Your country doesn't want you which is their own stupid fault."
"My country made a decision back in 2013 and we knew the risks when we marry. I hope Russia be better, that I do enough for my country for them not to punish me like they threatened. I am no better than any other gay person in Russia to them," Geno poked at a piece of chicken. "For once I hoped my name help."
Ryan leaned over and clapped his hand on Geno's shoulder. "You need to keep it together. You need to be here and be supportive."
Geno nodded. "Yes. Might need to kick me a few more times over next two weeks."
"I'll do that if you promise to kick me if I start to get too worried about Taylor," Ryan said holding out his hand. Geno shook it firmly.
"Taylor tough. Has to be. She Sidney's little sister. Team respect her after Worlds last year. She can do this."
"I know. And I am so fucking proud of her for getting here."
"How you deal with Worlds?" asked Geno.
"I'm usually playing at the same time," Ryan admitted. "I'm distracted."
Geno actually took a bite of his chicken, chewing thoughtfully. "I can distract."
"I love you, G, but you're not my type," Ryan teased. "Besides I'm afraid of your wife."
"Husband," Geno reminded him with a shake of his head. "You bad at this."
"I've trained myself to think the other way. It's hard to go back," Ryan complained. "I don't know how you and Taylor do it so easily."
"Lots of practice. It not easy so we make it a game. Or just call Sidney all the time. No pronouns needed."
Ryan nodded. "Okay. I'll work on that too."
"We talk strategy for hockey. How Canada win," Geno suggested. "We know players. We come up with game plans. Ignore in-laws that way and keep from going crazy."
"You going to be able to talk about Russia?"
"I know them best. Maybe can help Sidney win," Geno shrugged. "Better than you dragging me to museums."
"You need more culture in your life. Less clubs and bars, more plays and museums."
"Europeans," Geno said with a sad shake of his head. "You all the same."
It didn't really get much better. Geno spent his time rotating between the mens and womens games with Ryan, taking notes and passing them onto Sidney and Taylor. They managed to have dinner once with the two of them when they both had early games, Sidney in the morning and Taylor in the afternoon. It was stilted and uncomfortable with Troy and Trina and they mostly ended up talking about what Taylor was facing in the competition.
Still it was good to just be close to Sidney. He relaxed for what felt like the first time since he had gotten to Pyeongchang and said goodbye to Sidney at the Olympic Village. They spoke softly in Russian as best they could. Sidney was doing a lot better especially now that his parents lived with them, but there were still a lot of moments of frustration. It was still good to talk to her in private even with the rest of the family there.
It was obvious that Troy and Trina didn't like it but they didn't say anything. Keeping the peace meant they couldn't argue with anything that Sidney and Taylor did, including conversing in another language. Taylor's Danish was a lot worse than Sidney's Russian so there was mostly a lot of laughing while she and Ryan spoke.
"He is on his phone all the time," Sidney complained. "I don't know why he didn't just bring Danny and the kids with him."
"They're not out. It would look odd for Danny to be here. Give him a break and let him call his boyfriend."
Sidney sighed heavily. "He's such a pain. I don’t know how you and Danny talked us into being friends in the first place.”
“So hard,” Geno snorted. “Get you talking about Cameron, hockey, and Bettman.”
Sidney elbowed him lightly. “Don’t say that name. He might hear you and come out of retirement to ruin hockey again.”
“He’s not the boogyman,” Geno laughed. Sidney looked puzzled, the word obviously not translating for her so Geno said it again in English.
Sidney let out a peal of laughter at that, shaking her head before leaning in to kiss him softly. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Geno said easily, running his fingers through her hair. She was letting it grow out more than usual, hadn’t cut it since before Christmas and had been thinking seriously about not cutting it again. It was down past her ears now, curling haphazardly. Geno loved it.
“Ew,” Taylor said from across the table, making gagging noises. “Gross.”
“Seriously, who invited her to the Olympics?” asked Sidney. “Nobody wants their little sister around ruining things.”
“I’ll have you know I earned my invitation fair and square,” Taylor grinned. Geno took a quick glance over at Troy and Trina and they looked almost fond at the familiar sibling bickering. “Unlike some people who just rely on their name to get invited on the Olympic team.”
“I have been thinking about changing it to Malkin,” Sidney said easily. “Sidney Malkina has a ring to it.”
Geno looked at her happily, his heart swelling at the thought. “Really?”
“Yeah. Not right now. Probably after I transition.”
“You shouldn’t say things like that in public,” Trina hissed out. “Someone might hear you.”
Sidney looked over at her, defiant. “I can say what I want. It is my life.”
“Solnyshka,” Geno said gently, turning Sidney’s face to his own. “Not now. We all promise keep peace.”
Sidney exhaled slowly, shutting her eyes for a count of ten before opening them again. She nodded and looked over at her mother. Trina gave her a curt nod as well before looking down at her plate of food.
“Well this is fun,” Taylor said after a few minutes of awkward silence. “Like a root canal.”
“Taylor,” Troy said tiredly. “Let’s just focus on the Olympics for now. We can talk more about all of this when everyone is back in Cole Harbour this summer.”
“We have to be getting back soon anyway,” Sidney said calmly. “I’m never going to get the other players to follow the curfew if I break it.”
“I pay,” Geno said, getting to his feet and walking away from the table. He found the waiter and handled paying the bill. By the time he got back, Troy and Trina had left.
“Really time to go back?” asked Geno as he helped Sidney with her coat.
“No,” Sidney said with a sigh. “I just couldn’t take it any longer.”
“None of us could,” Taylor said angrily, once they were outside. “I want a drink.”
“What time is practice tomorrow?” asked Ryan.
Taylor sighed. “8:30. I can have one drink.”
“You guys coming?”
Sidney looked over at Geno before shaking her head. “No. I think we’re going to head back to the hotel room you guys have.”
Taylor made a face. “Do not talk about having sex around me. As far as I know the two of you sleep in separate beds and only kiss.”
“With ass like this, you think I only kiss?” Geno smirked, resting a hand on Sidney’s ass, pulling her close. “Or only kiss ass?”
“Ugh,” Ryan made a face that time. “Really, G? I did not need that visual.”
Sidney hid her face with her hand, laughing. “On that note, we’re leaving. See you at the rink tomorrow, Taylor.”
Taylor gave Sidney a hug before hugging Geno as well. “It was good to see you. Thanks for keeping Ryan sane.”
“Goes both ways,” Geno said, hugging her tightly. He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “So proud of you.”
Taylor flushed and punched him in the arm. “I’ll see you at the gold medal game when I win. You better come on the ice and hug me.”
“You best. Of course I come hug.”
Sidney hugged Ryan tightly, no longer awkward in showing affection with him. He pressed a kiss to her cheek. “Good luck, søde.”
“Thank you,” Sidney said softly. She stepped back to hug Taylor, holding onto her sister tightly. “You are doing great. Make sure to watch your glove side against Slovakia. They saw that Germany had some luck there and will go after that.”
Taylor nodded. “Let Giroux on the power play more often. He makes players focus on him which will leave you and Toews an opening.”
Sidney smiled at her happily, giving her one last squeeze. “Knock ‘em dead.”
“You too,” Taylor said with a grin. She gave a wave before taking Ryan’s hand and heading towards one of the bars nearby.
Sidney turned to Geno with a smile. “Which way is the hotel?”
Geno gestured, shoving his hands into his pockets. Korea was not Russia, but it still wasn’t common to see gay couples walking in the streets together. They were smart enough not to call attention to themselves. The kiss in the restaurant hadn’t been that smart, but they were tucked off into the corner at the time.
Sidney bumped him lightly with her shoulder as they walked. “I talked to Ovi yesterday. He wanted me to tell you that the team is planning to put your name on their sweaters for the final game. He made patches that have Malkin in English and Russian.”
“They risking a lot,” Geno said with a shake of his head. “Not smart idea.”
“They make their own choices, just like you did. Let them honor you and let the world know that they’re protesting your treatment the only way they can.”
“Hockey world know what happen. Gay world know what happen. Not need to be brought up again.”
Sidney scoffed. “You know they’re doing a segment on it that’s going to air in one of the games. Both the US and Canada are going to air it. Who knows who else will.”
“I still not like that idea either even though I say yes,” Geno said firmly. “Hated the interviews. Hate cameras finding us in crowd at games. Hate pretending your parents family.”
Sidney sighed. “I hate it too. They’re my parents but they’re not family anymore.”
“We have lots of family,” Geno said firmly. “Our family best.”
Sidney smiled at him a little sadly. “Yeah, it is.”
In the end Taylor won gold and Sidney settled for bronze. Taylor’s game against Finland was after hers since she was in the gold medal game and Sidney proudly wore the bronze medal even though she really wished it was gold.
Most of the mens hockey team were there, cheering on the womens team in a mass of red and white. Geno and Ryan were sitting with them, cheering Taylor on just as loudly as the rest of the Canadians.
It was a close game, no scoring and tense the whole time. Neither goalie let a shot through during regulation and for the second Olympics, a gold medal hockey game came down to sudden death overtime. Geno squeezed Sidney’s hand tightly, neither of them sitting down for the entire period, Ryan clinging to Geno’s shoulder.
Taylor continued to be perfect, blocking everything that came her way. She controlled the puck for her team and covered up any mistakes on defense. Geno held his breath as he watched the players jockeying for the puck in Finland’s crease.
It was a greasy play, sliding right under the goalie’s pads off of Mélodie’s stick and the horn sounded, echoing loudly in the arena before it was covered by screams and shouts from the crowd. Geno grabbed Sidney and kissed her soundly before turning to kiss Ryan as well, all three of them joining in the jumping and shouting as Team Canada piled on top of each other on the ice.
“She won!” Ryan kept screaming, grabbing at Geno’s shoulder before turning to kiss Claude Giroux happily.
“Keep kissing Geno,” Giroux shouted, pushing him back at Geno instead. “You’re not my type, Storgaard.”
Geno wrapped his arms around Ryan in a tight hug before handing him over to Sidney to hug as well. Sidney grabbed Ryan’s hand and dragged him through the crowd, Geno just behind them. She pushed her way down to the ice where other family members were waiting.
It was a melee when they got out there, Sidney making a beeline for Taylor and hugging her tightly. Her goalie pads were still on and she was red-faced and sweaty, her eyes wide with excitement and shock.
Geno got his turn before letting Ryan get his time. He slung his arm over Sidney’s shoulder, hugging whatever player came past them. Troy and Trina hugged everyone when they found Taylor, even Geno and Sidney.
And then they were all ushered off the ice for the medal ceremony and before he knew it, Geno was standing outside the arena with Ryan, Sidney, Troy and Trina, the sounds of screams and the Canadian anthem ringing in his ears. Crowds of people were around them, happy and disappointed at the same time.
“I’m so happy,” Trina said with a happy sigh. “She did it.”
“Think of how great a story it would have been if Sid had won gold too,” Troy said, pulling Trina close.
Geno frowned. “Bronze medal is big achievement. Competition was very tough this year.”
“He won gold the last two times,” Troy pointed out. “He wasn’t that good this year. His backcheck was weak and he was bad on the power play.”
“Enough,” Ryan said loudly. “Just be happy both your kids medaled in the Olympics instead of picking apart the way Sidney played to win her medal.”
Trina shushed Troy, nodding. “They both played wonderfully and we are proud of both of them.”
Sidney looked at her parents, frowning as well. “I’m really glad Taylor isn’t here to listen to this. You’ve already managed to ruin my medal. Try not to ruin hers.”
Sidney took Geno’s hand, looking over at Ryan. “We’re leaving. You are more than welcome to come with us. Taylor’s not going to be available for awhile. It’s party night.”
"Sidney," Trina said with a heavy sigh. "We're trying."
Sidney turned to look at her, her eyes flashing with anger and her voice tight and low. "Obviously you aren't. I thought you could at least focus on hockey and appreciate that I am still the best in the world at that, but apparently there's nothing that can keep you from thinking of me as a mistake. You don't want to talk to me? Well I don't want to talk to you. Don't expect to hear from us anytime soon."
Geno look at Sidney's parents for a moment before he turned to follow her, Ryan close on his heels. "Sidney?"
"I just want to go get my stuff packed and go to the hotel, okay." Sidney sighed heavily. "I should have said that months ago."
Geno put his arm around her, pulling her close as they walked through the crowd. Ryan stuck close, his hand low on Sidney's back.
Ryan and Geno were quiet as Sidney packed her stuff, throwing things in her suitcase instead of folding them carefully. Geno gathered her gear, making sure that was packed properly. Her bronze medal sat on top of the dresser, forgotten for the moment.
Johnny burst in, still smiling happily from Canada's win. "You guys going to the parties tonight? We should be able to get Geno and Ryan in without a problem."
Sidney shook her head, not saying anything. Johnny looked at all of them, frowning. "What happened?"
"Fight with her parents," Ryan said after a moment. "Sidney, you're not a mistake."
"Seriously?" Johnny frowned deeper. "They said that to you? That's such a fucking lie. You're amazing just the way you are."
"Can we just drop it?" asked Sidney, her eyes suspiciously bright. Geno moved over to her, stilling her hands. She gave him an angry look, but let him pull her close.
"C'mon," Johnny said after a moment. "Let's go find Taylor."
Ryan got up, going over to press a kiss to Sidney's forehead. "I'll hang out here tonight and see you in the morning."
Sidney nodded against Geno's shoulder and Geno met Ryan's gaze over her head. "Call. Don't drink too much."
Johnny put an arm around Ryan's shoulders. "I'll keep an eye on both of them."
Ryan scowled. "I am an adult, Toews."
"And I'm older and have been through these parties twice. You need me to keep an eye on you."
Geno watched them walk away, still arguing as Johnny shut the door behind them. Sidney sagged against him, let out a heavy sigh.
"We go to the hotel now," Geno said softly, pressing a kiss to her temple."Then we go home and be home with team."
"I don't think I can do this again," Sidney said into his neck. "I just want to go home and not be Sidney Crosby."
“Always my Solynshka,” Geno said gently. “Even when you being Sidney Crosby.”
Sidney pulled back to look at him, her eyes red and tears on her cheeks. “When do I get to just be Sidney?”
“You say now, I say now. Is your choice. Always your choice. Can be Sidney tomorrow if you want. Call Mario and say you done. Have hormones by end of the week.”
Sidney let out a choked laugh. “I wish it was that easy.”
Geno shrugged a little. “Could be.”
“You really believe that,” Sidney said, looking at the serious expression on his face.
“I do anything for you,” Geno said quietly. “You want to quit hockey and transition now. I say yes and do whatever you need. No questions asked.”
“I don’t think I’m ready,” Sidney admitted. Geno brushed his fingers over the tears on her face, wiping them away. “But I’m closer.”
Geno kissed her softly, his large hands cupping her jaw. “We go to hotel. Rest. Not think about anything tonight except sleep and being together. I miss you.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Sidney said, stepping back. “I want to forget about the Olympics.”
Geno looked at her sadly, but Sidney just shook her head. She shoved her medal in her gear bag, slinging it over her shoulder.
“If I forgot anything, Johnny will let me know.”
“Okay,” Geno said easily, sliding his hand into hers and pulling her suitcases along next to him. There was time to talk about all of this later when she wasn’t still hurting from her parents. Just admitting she was closer to wanting to transition was a big deal on its own.