Chapter 1: Prologue
Sidney took in everything in the room with a heavy heart. The pale white walls, the equally pale blue curtain and the dreadful, rhythmic beeping of machines did nothing to calm his thunderous thoughts. There’s no one to blame but himself; his stubbornness and his wrecked self-esteem were the cause of it all. And all combined they sparked a rashness that resulted in hurting the one person whom he loves the most.
As he sat there, his thought wandered back to six months ago, where the circumstances were reversed. He was the one laying helplessly on the white sheets of the hospital bed. The first thing he remembered when he opened his eyes was seeing Geno’s face looking down at him with so much eagerness and relief, but also laced with worry. He can tell by the furrows on Geno’s forehead and he yearned to kiss them away. But for some reason he was really tired, and that he could hardly keep his eyes open. The last thing he remembered was smiling up at Geno before eventually giving in into a slumber again.
The next time he opened his eyes, his vision was filled with one too many faces whom he didn’t recognise. He belatedly registered that as strange, seeing that all of them were dressed impeccably in long, white coats and speaking to each other in hushed tones. Then came the unmistakable smell of sterilized air which hit his senses like a punch. And at that moment, as if a proverbial light bulb had lighted up in his head, the reason behind Geno's odd expression had become clear.
He immediately looked for Geno, his eyes darted across the room in search of him, needing him close. He tried calling out for him, but he couldn’t find his voice, for his throat felt really raw, like he’s swallowed mouthful after mouthful of sand. As if Geno could feel his distress, he appeared next to him by his bed, one hand clutching his arm gently and the other soothing the side of his head. He didn’t realise how tense he'd become until he felt it draining away with every caress of Geno's warm hand. With a sigh, he couldn't help but thought about how much love he has for this man.
But the moment was soon interrupted by one of the people in the white coats, and this one clearly the most senior of the bunch, with his neatly trimmed goatee and thin-rimmed glasses hanging low on his nose. He introduced himself as Dr. Cohen, the head neurologist of the hospital before proceeding to name each of the other unfamiliar faces in the room. He stopped paying attention after the third name for he didn’t think it was necessary. A part of him couldn’t believe how many of them there were. Surely he didn’t need a whole team of doctors buzzing about in the room for a little fainting spell, but he neither had the voice nor the energy to say anything. That was until he caught on to what was actually being said.
“—a little disorientated, especially after being dormant for such a prolonged period of time. We would of course need to run some scans to determine if there’s any permanent damage but judging by the preliminary tests, Mr Crosby, things are looking rather encouraging."
He wanted to ask what he meant by prolonged period of time but was startled by the door being slammed open suddenly, revealing his family on the other side. His sister was the first to run over to him with a look of disbelief, and subsequently burst into tears. His parents trailed gently behind her with big smiles on their faces, but they looked like they’ve been crying too.
He couldn’t pinpoint it but he knew something was not right. All of a sudden his head throbbed, the lights in the room became too bright, and he felt the earth tilting beneath him. A wave of nausea washed over him like a blanket of cold ice but it went away as quickly as it came. Even with his eyes closed he could sense that everyone was starting to freak out. But he was of absolute no use to them because right then his brain was in overdrive. It felt like his head was going to explode from the flooding of faces and memories and voices, all merging into one giant, excruciating blob.
Then, as if someone had elbowed him in the gut, he gasped for air like he was drowning. For he might as well be, as he soon came to realization of the strangeness he’d felt since the moment he opened his eyes.
A gnawing feeling swallowing him up whole.
Chapter 2: Denial
“—and there he is, after so many years still proving haters wrong. Like, seriously. You just can’t not root for this guy! And I’m sure I can I say this for everyone else that this is something truly, truly spectacular. And needless to say, we’re so happy for Sid and his family and we wish them a—”
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The hockey world was still every bit the same as he remembered. Ever since the news of his awakening got out, he’d been the highlight of almost every sports channels. They were quite relentless; either talking, discussing or debating about his recovery. A miracle, they all said, but for him it was as far from the truth as it was possible.
His dedicated team of doctors, when explaining his condition to him, had used the same word a few times, along with 'a phenomenon', 'a rare case', and even as far as 'being lucky' that he’d sustained no damage to his brain at all. Not the words that he would use himself, but it didn’t take away the fact that a lot of people think that it was.
The first week back had proven to be the hardest. He couldn’t look in the mirror at his own reflection and not see a stranger. A stranger with sunken cheeks and streaks of grey colouring his hair. If not for the same intense eyes staring back at him, he wouldn’t have recognised himself at all. And he wondered every other day just how much easier it would be if he’d never woken up in the first place.
On the day of his discharge, his agent had arranged for a small press conference outside of the hospital. Supposedly, it was to address the public and the rest of the hockey world that he was in fact alive and well. But he knew that it wasn’t what it was for. He’d played this same game for a better part of his life, so he knew exactly what it was for; damage control.
Even though it felt a little overwhelming and maybe even intimidating at some point, the press conference went pretty smoothly. But that quickly changed when someone asked him if he remembered anything from when he was unconscious. Unexpectedly, that question triggered something deep in him, and all his memories came crashing down upon him with a vengeance. He stood rigid, he couldn’t speak, and the prolonged silence had made his agent spring into action, quickly wrapping things up and ushering him away.
Of course he remembered, everything which made him immensely happy for something close to a decade. Eight years and just two days shy of seven months, to be exact, and he wondered many times if the universe was trying to be funny or just cruel.
“Have you been watching the news again?”
He was startled out of his own musing by the sound of Anton’s voice. He looked over to the door just in time to catch Anton walking over with a tray. He shrugged lightly and allowed the tray to be set on his lap while he turned off the TV.
When he told his family that he wished to stay in his home in Pittsburgh, they all but said no to him. It took quite a bit of convincing on his part to let him stay, so he told them he would hire a professional caregiver. And that was exactly what he did. He, with the help of his family had chosen Anton because he’d seemed tremendously passionate about his job during the interview, and he’d proven it so.
That first week hadn’t only been hard for Sidney. He’d put Anton through hell for the better part of his return but surprisingly Anton had handled every situation with so much patience and kindness which in turn made Sidney feel quite guilty.
“Sorry. Old habits.” He said, ignoring the slightly raised eyebrow from Anton. He watched as Anton walked over to his window to open the drapes, revealing a clear, bright sky.
“You know you’re not supposed to have screen time—” Anton said, walking back over to him and placed the newspaper into his hand gently. “—and I hear these babies will do the same trick, if the news is really want you’re after.”
He could hear the underlying message of I know what you’re doing but he chose not to acknowledge it. “Thanks, Anton.”
The truth was, the story of his coma had been reported and dissected in every way possible, but he could care less about it. Because to him, from the moment at the hospital, nothing had felt right. Every minute of every solemn days he’d woken up to had felt like a limbo. It didn’t take much to make him feel as though a big piece of his heart had been ripped out of his chest. Just a mere look into his house; empty and cold had nearly broke him when he first stepped into it. There was no joy and no laughter; and the happiness which he’d gotten so used to had been robbed away from him. He’d been subconsciously trying to find something, anything that would tell him of the truth, that he was in fact still dreaming, that there was still a possibility he could wake up and find comfort in his husband’s loving arms while he retell the gory details of his nightmare.
But he’d found nothing.
The night time was the worst for him. He tried to sleep but he couldn’t, and it wasn’t for the lack of effort on his part. He’d found out the hard way that his mind was exceptionally deceptive and too dangerous a thing to be left alone. All those uninterrupted nights were like a deadly siren song, slowly luring him into the trap of his own desire. He would lie awake in bed, recalling every little detail of his perfect life and replaying it over and over in his head, until the first glint of light pierced through the folds of his drapes.
And it had felt so real. He could still feel the lingering touches on his skin, and the sweet kisses on his lips. The feeling of loved and beloved, and they were making it so much harder for his head to reconcile with his heart. Every time he shut his eyes, images of him and Geno and a little girl’s hands holding onto each of their fingers danced before him. And if he strain his ears really hard, he swear he could hear the whispers of sweet giggles passing by. But every time he open his eyes again, the images evaporates, and all that was left was a sharp pain in his chest. It was a vicious cycle that wouldn’t stop.
And it was made a hundred times more vicious by the presence of current Geno. He knew that Geno always try to be a good friend to him, and he has been in many, many occasions. He would come over with a big bowl of warm pasta because ‘he cook too much’. Or he would turn up with the week’s bestseller book and demanded that he read it so they can discuss it later. Or he would just come over simply just to hang out. And whichever day that he came over, which was every time when he didn’t have to train, practice or play a game, he would stay until Anton eventually kick him politely out the door.
He was thankful for his friendship, he really did, but he craved for more than a friendly hug. Geno’s presence had been the greatest reminder of all the things that he’d lost. Sometimes, when he looked at Geno, he could see the sliver of him which made his heart jump, and he was afraid that one day he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference and chance to ruin it all. A constant battle of his head versus his heart, and no matter which one wins, he’d still lose.
“Alright, Mr Crosby. I’ll leave you to finish your breakfast, and I’ll be back with your medication in a few.” Anton had announced after he’d made sure everything in the room was right and comfortable for Sidney. “Until then, try to stay away from the TV, okay? Nothing good ever come from that thing anyway.”
Anton gave him a reassuring smile and closed the door behind him. He looked down at his half eaten peanut butter sandwich and pushed the tray aside. Then he muttered under his breath, “Nothing good, indeed.” and switched the TV back on.
Chapter 3: Depression
When the days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, Sidney had slowly become a slave to the darkness. At first he was intrigued by the comfort it provided, and then he realised that it was a temptation laid out by the devil himself. It had promised him companion, and through that companion he found reprieve from the bizarreness of his life, and he absolutely craved it.
The quiet had fed his starving loneliness and soothed his pain. Without it, he was nothing. One way or another, he wanted to feel something. The world he once knew were full of colours, but now was all ash and grey. Slowly accepting that this was his reality now, he went from not sleeping at night to not wanting to wake up in the morning. But come sunlight, he would drag himself out of his burrow of solitude and put on his Sidney Crosby mask .
And it was by chance that Geno saw through it.
“Hey, Sid. You have lemon? I’m forgot to buy.” He heard Geno shouted from downstairs. When Geno came over earlier, he brought over two bags of fresh groceries and announced that he will be cooking lunch for them. Anton had taken the a couple of days off to attend his sister’s graduation so Geno volunteered to keep him company until Anton returns. When asked about the game that he was supposed to be playing that night, he’d told Sidney that he’d taken a personal day off, and that he’s letting the rookies ‘carry the load’ sometimes.
Sidney shut the cabinet close and looked at himself in the mirror. The same tired eyes staring back at him and he let out a defeated sigh. After washing and making sure his hands were completely dry, he hung the hand towel back to its rack, and exited his en suite bathroom to join Geno downstairs.
Seeing Geno back in his kitchen felt a little like deja vu, but he quickly squashed it away. Instead, he walked over to the fridge and took a couple of lemons out of the fruit compartment and laid them on the kitchen island.
Geno looked up and gave him a smile. “Yes, okay. Now help cut lemon.”
He did as he was told while Geno sprinkled a generous amount of salt and pepper and some herbs he’d produced from the grocery bags onto the fish. Snappers, as Geno had told him earlier, were one of his favourite source of protein and best eaten grilled. He let Geno finish garnishing the fish, topped with the lemon slices, and wrapped them up in aluminium wraps before throwing them on the hot grill.
“Okay. Is good, Sid. Let fish cook 30 minutes.” Geno said triumphantly, and instructed Sidney to set the timer. He did as he was told again because it was easier to just go with it, he’d learnt, than to ask questions. Geno then moved on to the vegetables; washing and cutting the asparagus and baby carrots.
Geno seemed determined to cook up a storm in his kitchen, judging by the amount of ingredients still left on his kitchen table. Not that it surprises him anymore. He knew from all those years ago that Geno was the kind of man who has a knack for big gestures. He will go out of his way and take the extra miles for the people he cared about, and buying everything off the farmer’s market paled in comparison to what he’d done before.
If this whole thing was happening in an entirely different circumstances, Sidney would think that it was sickeningly sweet, but it wasn’t, and it killed him a little to see Geno being so earnest about it. He’d be muttering the steps to himself as he go and cheered when he’d accomplished a task at hand. Sidney often wondered if Geno ages in reverse. There’s so much child-like quality about Geno that he sometimes envied, like Geno wasn’t at all flustered by the troubles of the world.
The beeping of the timer snapped him back to his kitchen. He looked around, puzzled. Some time during his mind going off a tangent, Geno had disappeared from the kitchen. Looking over to the grill, he saw the wrapped fish were all puffed up, and the crackling sound they were making—which Sidney had deduced—meant the fish were ready. He quickly stepped down from the stool and hurried over, afraid to leave the fish on the grill for too long lest they burn. He grabbed a couple of oblong-shaped plates from the counter and pinched one of the folded sides of the aluminium wraps with his fingers.
“Ahh—shit!” He yelped. The burning heat sent a shock through his system as he jerked his hand back, and dropped the plates to the floor. “Fucking hell—”
Geno must have heard the commotion because he showed up in the kitchen not long after, his cellphone in his hand. “Sid, what’s going—” Geno started but as soon as he took in the scene, he immediately clicked. He took several big strides over to Sidney, throwing his still lit cellphone on the counter and pull Sidney’s hand over gingerly so he can examine it. “Sid use hand? What you thinking? Is hurt bad?” He fired a string of questions which Sidney didn’t have an answer for. “Lucky is not burned too bad.” He tsked. Sidney didn’t know if it’s possible for Geno to sound relieved, concerned and annoyed all at the same time. “You have cream? Where’s your first aid?”
“It’s uh—it’s in the upstairs bathroom. In the cabinet above the sink.”
Geno ushered him to the kitchen sink, turned the tap on, and manoeuvred his burned fingers underneath the gentle stream of water. The coolness from the water soothed the stinging pain almost instantly. Geno made a gesture with his hand at Sidney, and the message was clear—do not move, or else—and then he disappeared again from the kitchen. There was no mistake that Geno had gone looking for the first aid kit, so he stood there obediently and let the water sooth the throbbing on his fingers. He didn’t know how long had passed before Geno came back, and he noticed, without the kit but a weird expression on Geno’s face. He looked quite aghast, stunned even, and Sidney didn’t see it until it was too late that Geno was grasping something tightly in his fist.
“Sid, what is this?” Geno asked, his voice sounding strained. Controlled.
Sidney felt it at the back of his neck before he even saw it, but he waited for Geno to unravel his fist. Then he saw them. A couple of pills. His pills. He recognised them from the colour and also from the way Geno was looking at him—disbelief and confusion. The intensity of his gaze made Sidney look away.
“Sid, what’s this?” He asked again, this time he sounded angry. “I’m find it in your bathroom, near to bin.”
He thought of how he could explain it without sounding guilty but came up short, only because there will not be any plausible reason for his pills to be where Geno had found them. The truth was that he had secretly stopped taking his medications a while ago, simply because he didn’t want to. Every time Anton had brought him his pills, he’d always found an excuse to take them later and he’d eventually gotten rid of them. Geno must have found some stray ones which have missed the toilet.
Geno seemed to have gotten the answer in the prolonged pause because his face had morphed from confusion to pure fury. “Sid, how long? Why you do this?”
“I—uh.” He stuttered. His first reaction was to lie but Geno knew him better than that. He really didn’t know what to say, but he’d got a feeling that no matter what he say, it wouldn’t be what Geno wanted to hear.
Sidney’s shoulders sagged whilst letting out a sigh. “It’s my medication. Probably from this morning.” He confessed, and he heard Geno took in a sharp breath after having his suspicion confirmed.
“But why, Sid?”
He shook his head defeatedly. “I don’t know, G. I just don’t think it’s helping.” In some ways, it was the truth. It did nothing to help his broken heart.
“What Sid mean, not help? Is presciption from doctor, Sid. Must take so you be okay again!”
How can I be okay? He thought to himself and felt his repressed anger slowly bubbling up in his stomach. “How can I be okay, G?”
Then he heard Geno breathed in deeply followed by a soundly exhale. “Sid, I know is hard and take long time, but you Sidney Crosby. Of course you can be okay again.”
He huffed. “No, Geno. Don’t you get it? I’m not fucking okay.” He didn’t realise he’d raised his voice but, “My fucking brain is not fucking okay!”
“But you wake up, Sid! Everybody happy you wake up!”
He took a second to breathe. “Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? Everyone else is happy but guess what, Geno? I’m not happy!”
That kind of made Geno stopped short, like Sidney had dumped a barrel of ice water on him. Sidney could visibly see that Geno was trying to rein in his anger and regather his thoughts. After a short delay and a fake cough, Geno started.
“I’m never ask before this but I’m ask now, okay? Is something happen, in your head, when sleeping?”
For anything Geno could have asked him, he’d never thought that it would be this question. He was caught off guard but before he could say anything, Geno continued. “When you first open eyes in hospital, I’m shock and worry and happy you awake. Then I’m see you’re smiling when you see me, and I’m think maybe you gonna be okay. But later when doctor tell you what happen, you become sad. Then I’m think, something must happen in head.”
Even in the midst of an argument, Sidney was still amazed by how well Geno could read him so effortlessly. But for that reason also, it made him despise and angry at his own situation even more. “Nothing happened, Geno. That’s the whole point.” He started. And while he’s there, he added, “I’ve been doing nothing but lying on the fucking hospital bed for eight fucking years! I shouldn’t even have woken up!”
He was short of breath from the little outburst. Another thing that reminded him how he was different now. He used to be able to play two shifts back to back and could still recite the names of all the hall of famers backwards without feeling like his lungs giving up on him.
“How can you say like that, Sid?” Geno asked, his voice sounded hurt. Sidney looked away again because he was afraid he will see the judgement in Geno’s eyes.
“Everyone is care for you, you know? Care for you so much. Flower, Tanger, everyone from team. They all ask always if Sid is doing better. And Mama Crosby, Sid. You know mama cry everyday when you sleep? And when you wake up, she most happy.”
Sidney felt a lump formed in his throat and his eyes began to water. The thought of his own mother crying by his bed broke his heart into pieces. His mother had been with him through so much, and he can only imagine how it was like for her not knowing if his only son was ever going to wake up. He was suddenly ambushed by so much guilt that he almost crumble by the weight of it.
He lifted his head and saw Geno standing just a couple of steps in front of him. His eyes were soft and so full of emotions. Sidney couldn’t help but be drawn into the depths of it, as though he can see something there that he’d ached for for so long. Something like…love?
Geno brought one hand up to cradle the side of Sidney’s face, and wiped with his thumb the tears that had rolled down Sidney’s cheek.
“Don’t say you not want to wake up. If you really not wake up, I’m blame myself forever.” Sidney shut his eyes and more tears trickled down his face. “So, please. I’m beg you, Sid. I’m need you to be healthy again. Not just for me. For Mama Crosby, and Papa Crosby, Taylor, and for all your friends, okay?”
He thought about all the selfish ways he'd been acting for the last several months, and felt so ashamed. While he was all wrapped up in self pity, everyone else in his life who genuinely cared about him, had been waiting so patiently for him to come to in his own time. Never once he was pressured to return to the Sidney Crosby in his prime, or expected to become the Sidney Crosby he once was.
And he sobbed. Geno pulled him in and wrapped his arms around Sidney while he cried uncontrollably into Geno’s chest. After a while, he heard Geno murmured into his ears. “Most important is be healthy for yourself, okay? You waking up is like second chance, Sid. So, cannot waste.”
And with that, he cried even harder into Geno’s embrace and let the rhythm of Geno’s thumping heart assuage his own thunderous one. And while neither of them acknowledge the second meaning to Geno’s last remark, it had birthed a hope that promised light that will eventually eclipse the darkness that they were in. And from then onward, there will only be brighter days.
Chapter 4: Acceptance
Borrowed a scene from KeyBank Challenge between Sid and Geno. :)
When Anton returned from attending his sister’s graduation, he was filled in on what had happened. Geno must have given Anton a significant amount of shit over it, because when he approached Sidney in the study room later that night, he looked quite gloom and remorseful.
“Good evening, Mr Crosby.”
Sidney tried not to cringe when Anton addressed him using his last name. When he first hired Anton, his demeanor had been more formal than Sidney had liked, even though he knew it was a show of respect and professionalism. He’d told Anton off a few times—mentioning that he was neither royalty nor elderly—and that they should be on first name basis since they were quite close in age. Anton seemed reluctant at first because ‘that wasn’t how I was raised, Mr Crosby’ but relented when they became more well acquainted later on.
“Hey, Anton. How was your trip?” Sidney casually asked, hoping it would lighten Anton up a bit.
“Yeah, it was good. Although, my moms wouldn’t stop crying when Serena walked on stage.”
“Well, she’s the baby of the family, isn’t she? It’s inevitable. I remember when Taylor got hers, my mom was the same.”
Anton chuckled and he nodded in agreement. He walked in closer and sat on one of the chair next to the coffee table. “So uh— I’ve heard of what happened.”
Sidney sighed. He was dreading this conversation but at the same time, he knew there was no way to avoid it. “Uh—yeah. Look, I don’t want you to think that it was your fault because it wasn’t. I just—”
“I didn’t.” Anton said, cutting Sidney off suddenly.
Anton’s expression was firm but not impolite. “I didn’t think it was my fault. Not entirely, anyway.” He’d said it in such a matter-of-fact way that Sidney didn’t know how to react. But he made a gesture with his hand, signalling Sidney to continue, so he did.
“Well, I guess I just wanted to say that I have no excuse for what I did. My mind wasn’t in the right place and I’d realised now that I’d done something really stupid, and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have put you in that position and I would totally understand it if you wish to terminate your contract with me.”
There was a moment of silence which made Sidney a little uncomfortable. It was made more uncomfortable with the raise of Anton’s eyebrow and a little purse of his lips. He didn’t know why but Anton always managed to make him feel like a child with his hand in the jar whenever Anton does his eyebrow thing.
“Okay, look. I say this with the utmost respect for you, alright?” Anton paused and waited for an affirmation from Sidney, which he gave with a nod. Satisfied, Anton took a deep breath and started again.
“I’m a caregiver, not a nanny. And you are a grown man. I can’t be held responsible for all the decisions that you make, stupid or otherwise. I mean obviously what you did was incredibly stupid and you’re jeopardizing your own well-being.”
Sidney listened and reflected on how true each word rang. He could also hear the disappointment laced in every word and it had made him feel like he’d betrayed the unspoken trust between them.
“However, I would like to think that after all these times, we’re at least friends and friends should look out for each other. I guess, what I’m trying to say is that, I should have foreseen something like this happening but I didn’t. I’ve neglected the fact that you could be just as vulnerable as the next person, even when your name is Sidney Crosby.”
A light chuckle escaped Sidney’s lips unexpectedly. “Looks like I’ve disappointed another fan, eh?”
“Quite the opposite, actually. I’m quite pleased to know that you’re just as human.”
Anton gave him friendly smile and it was so earnest Sidney couldn’t help but returned it. He knew what Anton meant and he considered himself quite lucky to have Anton on his side.
“So, I’m assuming I still have a job? Anton said cheekily.
“What? Of course! If anything, I need your help now more than ever.”
To Sidney’s surprise, Anton laughed at that remark. Like there was an inner joke that he wasn’t a part of. “Oh, Sidney. I’m not so sure about that. I think someone would really beg to differ.”
He knew exactly who Anton was referring to, and he didn’t know to feel guilty or blessed to have such a person being so protective over him like that. “Ah, Geno. It’s that bad, huh?”
“Well, let’s just say, in my line of work, it’s pretty given to have employers being upset with me and they are usually not be shy to speak their minds about how I’ve messed up or did something differently from what they want. But with him, I think I’ve heard of subtler words being used when describing my incompetence.”
He winced at the indications of Anton’s words, and made a mental note to speak with Geno about it. “I’m so sorry about that. That would be my fault. Geno, he uh—he can get quite emotional sometimes.”
“Well, don’t I know it. But there’s no need to apologize. I fully understand where he’s coming from. I mean, he’s not wrong. I should be more observant. So, I think that means I owe you an apology.”
Sidney quickly waved it away. “Consider us even.”
“Alright then. Since I’m not fired, I guess I better get back to work.” Anton said and stood to leave the room. But just before he step outside, he stopped short, turned around and looked at Sidney with thoughtful expression. Like he was contemplating something.
“You know, he’s a keeper, that one.”
Sidney didn’t need further clarification to understand what he meant by that. “Yeah, for sure. Friends like him is rare and far in between.”
Anton shook his head while smiling to himself. But he didn’t say anything more before he bid Sidney goodnight and closed the door behind him.
After that whole debacle, Sidney stayed true to his word. He stuck to a strict diet, took all of his medications and supplements, and he worked out. Like, a lot. Other than his mandatory physiotherapy sessions, he had been working out with his ex trainer three times a week. After his little meltdown, Geno had convinced him to reach out to Andy, which he did and was touched when Andy had agreed to help quite enthusiastically. He was glad that it had worked out the way it did, because there was a lot of history between Sidney and Andy; they both knew how each other worked and it will be the best path for him to get back in shape.
No one was to disagree that he was an intense person by nature. He had been—before the ‘accident’—intensely focused on being the best hockey player in his lifetime. Then, after he woke up he had been intensely obsessed with all the would haves, could haves and should haves. Fortunately he got over that, albeit with more tears and less dignity that he’d liked, and shifted that intensity to proving to himself (and maybe also to others) that he was able to overcome any obstacles that came his way.
And the more he trained, the more he felt like himself again. He’d regained his competitiveness, fuelled by a new determination, a massive push to get better. Even though for the first couple of weeks, he always ended up feeling like he’s dying when he finishes his workout, but he knew if he stuck to the diet plans and his training schedules, he would build up his stamina again.
And it was all made easier with the support of his ex teammates/friends, who would swing by his house to catch up with him when they had some free time. It was good for morale, and it definitely felt good to be treated like normal again.
At first, he was invited to watch the team during practice and talked about plays. Then the invitation slowly got extended to joining them in morning skates. Geno was all but vetoed it, saying that it was way too early for him to be back on the ice again. It took a lot of reassurances from the team, as well as Sully (yes, he was still the head coach) before Geno relented. Sidney was over the moon, but he found out very quickly that he will not be flying off on his skates just yet, because he had a shadow that kept following him around on the ice in the shape of a giant Russian.
But he’d never forget the first time he’d stepped onto the rink; the blades of his skates cutting into the fresh ice as he pushed himself forward, gliding effortlessly. He felt so light and he had missed it, so much. He was not that naive to think that he still have a career as a professional hockey player. And surprisingly, he was okay with it. If his accident had taught him anything, it was the fact that hockey was never about the game. It was about the people he played with, the friendship that he built, and the trust and respect that he earned. Looking around him at the moment, he was satisfied with what he saw, and thought that he’d gotten everything he’d ever wanted from hockey.
Of course, he wouldn’t shy away from a little friendly competition once in a while. One day after the morning skates, Geno had challenged him to a shoot out at the rink, and Sidney, naturally, had accepted it. He was all psyched up and ready to do, but that was until Geno had walked him up to the press box that he got side-tracked. It was getting more and more curious when he saw some sticks and stacks on pucks had been set up just outside of the press box. From where they were standing, he can oversee the whole rink and right on cue, he saw someone pushing a net onto the middle of the rink. What the hell?
“Okay, Sid. Today, we are challenge extreme puck shooting.” Geno announced as he gestured to the rink way below them. He took one stick and handed it over to Sidney and another for himself. Sidney was still trying to figure it out if that was what he thought was happening when Geno continued.
“We play two rounds. Round one is big net. Score one goal is one point. Each have five pucks, okay?”
Sidney looked at him and at the stick he was holding. Then he burst out laughing. “Wait, oh my god, you’re actually serious!”
“Yes, of course serious. Come on, Sid. Who go first? You or me?”
He laughed again at the absurdity of it but at the same time find it befitting for Geno to come up with this. “Alright, alright. Fine. You go first.”
Grabbing his own stick, Geno flashed him a goofy smile and stood over a shooting pad which had been set up. Sidney watched as Geno picked one of the puck from the stack, aimed, then hit it.
“Ah, no, no, no. Too right, I shoot right all time.”
Sidney chuckled as the puck flew down and landed on the far right of the net. It was a good first try though, but in the spirit of a hockey challenge, he dished out some chirps just before Geno shoots his second puck. “This is the big one here. If you put this one in, then it’s a different game, but if you miss this—” He let his sentence trailed off but Geno quickly rebutted, unaffected.
“Don’t worry, I score two more.” And that was just it with Geno. He always managed to do what he said he would. He scored on his second, third and fifth try and his face couldn’t be more smug. “Yes, not bad. Three goals. Where’s hats? Guys, we need hats.”
Listening to Geno boasting to no one in particular had been pretty adorable, but he didn’t have time to dwell on that as he was up next. His puck-shooting skill would have been a little rusty by now, but it was like riding the bicycle; it shouldn’t take much for it to come back.
On his first try, his puck had ricocheted so far away from the net it wasn’t funny, but Geno being Geno, he was laughing at him like a hyena. “Oh my god, what you do?” Geno said in between chuckles. “I tell you, is real game. Now you nervous.”
Even though he had his eyes trained to the next puck, he couldn’t stop the grin on his face. He knew Geno was grinning too but he slapped his stick onto the pad and recollected his composure, then released his second puck.
“Oh my god, you missed again. I have chance to win!”
And they kept it going through to the whole thing. The chirps got funnier and more ridiculous as the challenge went on because they both sucked at it. At one point, Geno even shouted at the net because his puck had hit the side of the damn post. And that was a crucial one because it was a smaller net, and smaller net meant the puck was worth two points. But it ended not long after because Geno had managed to bank one in with a great shot and won the challenge 5:3.
He couldn’t remember when was the last time he’d felt that way. Even though he’d lost, he didn’t feel the sting that would usually accompany a loss. Watching Geno doing his little victory dance had only made him want to grab Geno’s face and kiss him silly instead of wanting to break a stick and sulk.
Curious. After all this time, his feelings for Geno hadn’t changed at all. If anything it had multiplied because his heart was a starving little thing. But at that moment, he couldn’t feel more full and content with what they have. And what they have was more important, it was a friendship that would stand the test of time.
Chapter 5: Anger
Hi guys, the rating for this story had been bumped to 'M' now. Sorry for taking a little longer, real life happened. :)
Hope you'll enjoy this.
He couldn’t help it. It would have gone against every fibre in his body if he was to ignore it. The loud thud he heard could mean that someone had slipped and hurt their head in the shower, and that was the last thing he wanted. And he would really regret it if someone did hurt themselves and he did nothing about it. Which was why, with droplets of water still rolling down his back, he wrapped a towel chastely around his waist and went towards the direction where he thought the noise was coming from.
Weirdly, in all the years he’d showered at the rink, he doesn’t remember ever encountering such thick steam in the shower room. It was only by luck (and maybe a little by memory) he was able to navigate through the clouds of whiteness without tripping over something himself. As he approached closer and closer, he was able to hear it much louder; the low, pained moan and breathy gasps in between. With that, he knew his suspicion was not far off. He quickened his steps and hoped that the person, whoever that might be, wasn’t hurt too badly.
But nothing could have prepared him for what or whom he saw when he finally got to there. First of all, he realised his mistake very quickly; there was no one hurt. And second of all, he realised that it wasn’t just anyone who he’d heard earlier. It was Geno. And the moans wasn’t of pain. It was of something else. And something else it was.
Geno was standing under the constant stream of water pouring down the length of his body. It was glorious, a whole 6’3” of him and he was leaning against the tiled wall with his eyes closed. His face was all laxed and dreamy, and he was unbelievably flushed from his cheeks and spread down towards his neck and chest. His skin was glistening so temptingly from the cascading water and it did wonders in highlighting all the curves and contours of those lean muscles on his body.
Looking at the scene in front of him, Sidney felt his body betraying him in the most inconvenient times. He was growing hot and he felt the need to swallow to wet his suddenly very dry mouth. And his dick, well, his dick was taking a lot of interest too but he didn’t have the time to dwell on that yet. He was too entranced by the way Geno’s plump and luscious lips were apart to quickly take in short breaths, and the way Geno leaned his head backwards to expose that long, beautiful neck. At that moment, all he could think about was how soft the skin there would feel against his own lips. He had to stop himself from moaning at that thought alone.
And then came the most obscene noise he’d ever heard escaped Geno’s lips. It all but sent electricity down his spine and lighted up his body. That deep little growls made him so weak in the knees. He knew he probably shouldn’t be there but his legs refused to move. Like a moth to a burning flame, it was impossible for him to tear his gaze away.
He could only imagine how he would look like at that moment. If it was anything like how he felt on the inside, he would have looked absolutely wrecked and debauched. He also wondered how long he could stay like this before he got found out. He didn’t know where that new found bravery came from but he really wanted to see it to the end, and he had long passed the point of caring.
As the scene unfolded, the steam dissipated little by little, slowly revealing more and more of Geno’s wet and gorgeous body. He very much enjoyed the eye tease, and he feasted hungrily on every inch of it. His eyes darted from one body area to the next, tracing every prominent lines and then followed them downwards towards his ripped abs.
“Hmm, yeah, fuck. Feel so good.”
It sent another delicious jolt down his system. There had been a couple of occasions where he had been so tempted to touch himself but he had to make a conscious effort to stop himself. He had to resist it because he knew he wouldn’t have the resolve to stop until he’s finally done. And he didn’t want that. He didn’t want to come before Geno did, and judging by the throaty grunts and wretched moans, Geno was getting close.
“Oh my god—your mouth so hot. Fuck! You do so good, baby.”
Sidney did a double take on what Geno said, and realised too late that Geno wasn’t pleasuring himself. Both of his hand were on his sides, fisted and Sidney could feel the heat rising to his cheeks quickly. Geno was having a little shower tryst with someone and he had stupidly walked right in the middle of it. He quickly thought of the best way he could escape without alarming them of his presence. But just as he was about to retreat slowly out of there, Geno’s eyes suddenly snapped open, and their gazes met.
It was an intense few seconds, and Geno’s gaze was hot and piercing. Sidney couldn’t help but gulped visibly before he attempted to explain himself. But even before he got one word out, Geno let out another string of the most satisfying noises yet.
“Fuck! You know I’m love your mouth most. So pretty and always take my dick so good. So fucking good, Sid.”
And just like that, everything in that room became clear at once. A figure had materialised kneeling in front of Geno, and he had conveniently blocked all the good stuff from Sidney with his head. Disappointed and mortified at the same time, he thought that the person whom Geno had praised so excessively just seconds before looked awfully familiar. As if it wasn’t weird enough, he thought he knew that broad back, that wet, curly hair that Geno’s hand were grabbing at, and especially that ass. Then, right on cue, the filthy sucking noise came to a pause, followed by an audible pop, and Sidney watched in horror as the figure turned his head side way, revealing his identity to Sidney.
Sidney almost choked on his own breath, if that was even possible, but it was his own face staring back at him; flushed, panting and lips oh so swollen.
“Are you gonna give me a hand or what?”
And that was the last thing he remembered before he jolted awake on his bed. His room was still dark as it was still quite deep into the night. He sat up against his headboard and breathed deeply a few times, trying to calm his profusely beating heart. He couldn’t believe it. He was mortified by what his brain was conjuring within the confinement of his broken head.
And the worst thing was that he had gotten himself a very prominent tent under his covers.
A part of him was pleasantly surprised that his body had reacted the way it did. He hadn’t felt this turned on in a very long time, and he thought it was gone for good. The other part of him was unquestionably ashamed of it. He conveniently brushed it off as just a passing urge. Seeing that his friendship with Geno had been improving a lot lately, plus his feelings prior to that, it was only natural that his brain went down the path it had.
But no matter how he tried to justify it, his erection didn’t seemed bothered at all. It hadn’t flagged one bit even by the amount of shame he was currently feeling. In fact, it has felt increasingly uncomfortable in his tight boxer brief. He ran one hand experimentally along the length of his dick and squeezed, and that had caused a whole body shiver.
With his mind made, he slid down his bed and tugged his boxer brief down to his mid thighs, and focused on finishing what his dream had started. He could only hope that be the darkness would swallow the embarrassment that was bound to arise after he comes down from his high.
When he did get out from his actual shower the next morning, he caught the end of his ringtone and then followed by an incoming text. He went and got his phone, and found himself blushing multiple shades of red for multiple reasons when he read the text.
>Hey, Sid. You not finish shower? Hurry up, I’m wait outside ))))))
He got a bit sidetracked by the unplanned sequence of events last night that he almost forget the plan he had with Geno that day. It was the dreaded locker clean-out day for the team, and Geno had suggested that he drop by the rink to show his support. The team had broken their playoff streak six years ago but had renewed it the following year. But sadly, they were not able to get pass second round since then. It was especially demoralising this year as the team had fought so hard only to fall to the Blues in game seven double overtime.
Which was why Sidney had suggested to throw a little party for them. It was surprisingly quite well received considering, but of course with the exceptions of the few who had to catch their flight back to their hometown right after the cleanup. Geno had volunteered to help out with the shopping, but Sidney suspected that he just want to be in charge of the kind of booze that they are going to drink. Before he can muse further, he heard a loud and impatient honk outside, and with a sigh, he took his keys, wallet and phone and headed out, mentally preparing himself to be in close encounter—for a better part of the day—with the person whom he’d just jerked off to the night before.
The locker clean-out was uneventful. The mood was expectedly gloom and bitter and everyone just wanted to get it over with. Most of the them haven’t even shaved off their ugly facial hair but who was he to judge? Fortunately, the party was more successful. Everyone who said would turn up did turn up, and all of them had opted to drown their sorrows in the booze, except for Sidney of course. He’s had stern instruction to stay away from alcohol and he had been so good. One thing he didn’t expect was Geno’s decision to stay sober as well. His reasoning was to keep an eye on the rookies and also to fish anyone who would stupidly tumble into the pool.
Sidney paused a bit when he thought about Geno. Seeing him smiling and laughing so carefreely with his teammates had twisted his insides a little. This year had been a good season for the team. They sincerely thought they had a chance to win it all but alas, a turnover here and a funny bounce there had changed the team’s narrative quickly. And winning this year’s playoff would have meant so much for Geno, because it was his last.
After his one-year extension was up, he was offered one more by the organisation, but Geno had gracefully declined it. Sidney wasn’t surprised. Between the two of them, they have touched the subject of Geno’s overall physical health in passing conversations, and he knew that Geno’s knees and back had been deteriorating, especially in recent years. So, when his best friend came to him to seek support of his retirement, he had fully given it.
“Heyyy, Siiidd. Siiiiiidd? Where are youuu?”
He turned from watching a drunk Dumo talking animatedly with an equally drunk Shultzy to Jake who'd looked like he’d gotten too much to drink about two bottles ago. He was lounging by the pool with a new bottle of beer in his hand, and Sidney thought he’d better go to him before Geno really had to fish someone out of the pool.
“Hey, cap. Slow down on the beer, eh?”
When Jake saw him, he swore Jake’s face just lit up with excitement. “Siiiiidd! You’re hereeee! Oh my god! You’re really hereeee!”
Sidney knew from experience that Jake was a happy drunk but it didn’t make it any less entertaining to watch. “Yes, of course I’m here. Where else would I be?”
“Ohmygod, Siiidddd. I’m sooo happy you’re hereeee. D’you know that you’ve always been my hero? MY! HERO!” Jake grabbed Sidney’s head and planted a sloppy kiss on his forehead. Sidney went along with it because he knew it actually takes quite a lot of energy to fend off an affectionate, handsy and drunk hockey player.
“Alright. I think that’s enough for you for the night, eh? Come on, Jake, let’s get you back inside and you can sleep it off in one of the spare room.”
“Aawwww? But I’m just on my second beer? I think?” Sidney watched as Jake squinted his eyes trying to remember.
And even after all these years, Sidney could still see that kid who was called up from the AHL in the middle of the season. He was fresh and maybe a little intimidated in the big league, but he was so eager to play. And Sidney loved that about him. As the saying goes, the rest was history. He was given the ‘C’ after a few years of sharing the ‘A’s with Rusty and Dumo and Sidney couldn’t be happier of the outcome. Maybe he’s got a soft spot for the kid, but from what he have seen so far, it was the right choice.
“Sidd! Ohmygod, Sid, Sid, Sid, Siiidd. Listen, I need to tell you a secret, but you gotta promise me you won’t tell anyone else, okay? OKAYY?”
“A secret, really? You sure you wanna tell—?”
“Shhhh!!! Okay, listen. Siiid, listen.” Jake paused for dramatic effect, and Sidney had to slouch at a weird angle when Jake pulled him closer. “I think—that Geno is hiding something.”
“Yep—P! I think that he is secretly—a vigilante.” Jake was whispering so lightly towards the end that Sidney almost couldn’t catch the last part. He chuckled.
“Really? But uhm, isn’t he a little old to be going around Pittsburgh fighting bad guys?”
“No, no, no noooo. Sidddd. Listen, listen. Sid, Listen. It’s true, okay? One time, I saw him rescue a cat out of a tree! A TREE!!!
This time, Sidney let out a hearty laugh and shook his head in amusement. As Jake went on recounting all of his theories about Geno, The Vigilante, he attempted to pick Jake up from the lounge chair. Attempted being the key word as it was proving to be quite a task, all because of Jake’s arms flailing all over like an octopus.
“Right?? It made sooo much sense!! That’s why he didn’t wanna take the offer. Because if he did, he wouldn’t have time to save the people of Pittsburgh anymore. He’ll be stuck in the office all day trying to make plays or strategize or whatever coaches do in their office. And then he’ll be—”
“Wait, Jake. What did you say?”
“Huh? Wha—? What did I say?”
“What did you mean by he didn’t take the offer? What offer?”
“Ohhhhh, thaaaat! Well, rumour has it that Sully is retiring soon, but you’re missing the point, Sid! Can you imagine? Geno in a superhero suit???”
Sidney debated with himself if he should take a drunk man’s word seriously. Obviously not the part about Geno being a secret superhero, but about Sully. To him, Jake’s words kind of implied that the organisation had been looking at Geno to take over from Sully or at least be part of the coaching staff. But it was weird that Geno had never mentioned anything about that before. He’d always hoped that the organisation would offer Geno something like that because he deserved it. But the question is; would Geno have deliberately say no to such opportunity?
As soon as he thought that, he knew he couldn’t stop until he’s gotten his answer. And so he waited until the next day around noon time, when he finally ushered the last of his guests out his front door before he took action.
Just as predicted, Geno had stayed back for the mess. Between he and Anton, they seemed to making good progress on the cleaning duty. While Sidney was grateful for the extra helping hands, but he was looking for an opportune time to speak with Geno alone. So when Geno made a detour to the entertainment room, he stopped what he was doing and followed him there.
“Hey, Sid. Come, look. What I’m tell you? Team most nasty.” Geno said with a disgust on his face as he fished a soggy sock out of the beer bucket. Apart from all the empty bottles laying around, the room seemed to be in quite an acceptable condition. But he disregarded that.
“So uh—I’ve heard some pretty interesting stuff from Jake last night.” Sidney started.
“Oh, really? What he say?”
“Well, first of all, he said if he and Natalie are having a boy, he’s naming him after you.”
Geno looked up from behind the table lamp and his face was filled with genuine awe. “Wow, good choice! Is great name. I’m always know he smart kid.”
“Well, we all know that the kid worshipped the ground you walked on.”
“Is okay, Sid. He worship you also, but maybe second place, yes?”
Sidney may be tempted to argue but he was otherwise occupied with a more pressing matter at hand. He kind of eased into the conversation with a lighter topic, thinking that it would help when it finally came the heavyweight stuff. But he found himself getting nervous, his palms were getting a little sweaty. It shouldn’t be this difficult.
“So uhm, he also said something about the organisation looking for a replacement.” He said.
“Oh, that? Yes, yes. They say after I’m retire they looking to get rookie from Habs. He’s good. I’m play him once. Very fast and good puck handling.”
Sidney let out the breath that he didn’t realised he was holding. At this point, he wasn’t too sure if Geno was pretending or just oblivious. Either way, if he wanted answers, he was going to need to be a little more assertive than this.
“Well, I wasn’t talking about your replacement, G. I was actually referring to Sully’s replacement. I heard that he was thinking of retiring soon?”
Sidney had anticipated Geno to at least feigned his innocence some more, but his question was met with an unusual silence, which in his experience always meant something bad was about to happen. For the first few moments, Sidney didn’t know what to make of it. On one hand he’d hope that Jake’s drunk ramblings was just that; ramblings. But the come back from Geno—or the lack of it—was telling him that there were some truth in Jake’s words.
“Is it true? They offered you the coaching position?”
“I’m uh—I’m not want you to find out like this, Sid.”
It was funny how people always say that when they had been found out. It was not a direct answer to the question asked and yet, it said it all.
“So, it’s true then. You didn’t take up the offer.” It was more of Sidney making a statement rather than a questioning it at that point.
“Well, I’m play hockey for long time. Maybe now is time I’m rest, you know?” Geno tried to pass it off as if it was nothing. But Sidney knew.
“I’m not buying that, G. This is your dream! You can’t just pass this up?”
“Ah, maybe I’m have different dream now, you know? But why we discuss this? Is not important.”
“Stop bullshitting me, Geno! I know you better than this!”
“I’m not! All I’m say is true!”
“No, you’re lying! And you’re throwing your fucking dream away like it meant nothing!”
“Okay, wait. Calm dow—”
“We’ve always talked about what a great story it will make if we could coach the team after we retire. This is our dream! I know I’m not able to fulfill it myself but you can!”
“That’s the point, Sid. I’m not want this anymore! If I’m take offer, then I’m not have time for—”
“For what? What could possibly be more important than this?”
Sidney was met with another no answer, and it fuelled his already rising anger even more. “For what, Geno? Just fucking tell me!”
“For you, Sid. I’m not have time for you.”
The room was suddenly filled with ringing silence. It was so quiet that they could hear a pin drop. Neither one of them said anything for a while and they both looked at each other like they were shocked.
“I uh—” Geno started first. “I’m want to say this for long time. I’m think maybe after playoff when when I’m have time make good plan. But now—can’t wait anymore, yes?”
Sidney was incapable of speech at the moment but Geno wasn’t looking for any validation. He continued.
“When Sid was still sleeping, I’m really regret so much. But I’m have time to think, and then I’m realised so much too. I’m pray that you wake up one day and I’m tell you everything I’m feel. But everyday I’m go visit you in hospital, you just lie there, and then I’m blame myself why I didn’t say when I have chance? And then you wake up, Sid. You can understand? I’m so lucky. I’m already miss one chance so I’m tell myself, can’t make same mistake again!”
As he take in every word, he felt his blood running colder and colder. “Why are you doing this?”
“I’m tell you my feeling, Sid. I—”
“No, Geno. I mean, why are you telling me all this? Are you trying to be funny? Or just to be cruel?”
“What? No, Sid. I’m just—”
“Why would you say something like that to hurt me?” Because it definitely did. Because there was no way that Geno had meant it. Because it was exactly what he’d wanted to hear for so long, that he was stunned with fear of it being false. It was a deranged logic but no one said that the brain is a logical thing.
“P—please.” Sidney’s voice quivered. Geno’s face was all shades of hurt but at that moment Sidney was in no state of minding even his own emotions, much less someone else’s. He watched Geno’s shoulders dropped in defeat and made a move to leave. His steeled, cold facade came undone as soon as he heard his front door shut and he stumbled back until his back met the wall. He slid down to the floor and stared into nothingness, as his brain, much like his heart, was going a millions miles an hour. And when he heard Geno’s car driving away, he finally broke down and cried into his palms.
“Sid? Are you alright?”
He cried a little bit more before he had to come up for air, and wiped his face dry with his entire sleeves. He was still heaving when he felt Anton slid down next to him, offering him a handkerchief.
“So, you’ve heard everything?”
Anton nodded sympathetically. “Well, I tried to mind my own business but it was getting little impossible to ignore at the end there.”
“It’s nothing, really. But if I may say something?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Okay. Look. I know it’s not my place to say anything but it pains me to see the both of you being so stupid.”
Sidney’s ears perked up by that.
“Sometimes I wondered if the two of you are pretending to be dumb. But when I see you guys pine over each other like that, I just don’t know what are you guys waiting for?”
“I’m not finished, Sid. I don’t understand how the two of you could be so blind as to how you feel about each other. I know you won’t admit it but you misses him whenever he’s away. And honestly, I’ve never come across anyone who loves to cook in someone else’s kitchen as much as he does. But do you know what I’ve noticed so far? It’s that every time the two of you are in the same room, you will somehow gravitate towards each other and be close to each other.
“He’s my best friend. Or was.”
“Sid, you’re not listening. And you’re also not listening to him earlier. That man handed his heart to you on a silver platter and you went and stomped on it. He was trying to tell you how he felt, for fuck’s sake. He’s literally brimming over with feelings for you. How can you not see that?”
He felt a twang of pain when he thought about Geno’s expression earlier. The hurt was raw in his tired eyes and Sidney had never seen it so clearly until Anton had pointed it out. He was instantly filled with guilt and regret of how he’d treated Geno.
“This is the part where you’re going to experience an epiphany and tell me that you’re going to find him, and that you’re going to fix this.”
“But—but what if you’re wrong? Or I’m wrong?”
“Well, if it is, then you’ll hear it from him. But make sure you listen to everything he has to say first before you to ditch him and leave him out to dry again, okay?”
Sidney was considering it. His heart and his head was telling him different things. But listening to Anton had reopened his heart. He wanted to know if he still have the courage to pursue his happiness with Geno. But he’d already fucked it up. Right now he wasn’t sure if Geno even want to see him. Anton gave him a nudge on his elbow.
“Go to him.”
After he’d freshened up and had a change of clothes, he drove straight to Geno’s house. However, when he saw the empty driveway, he knew Geno hadn’t been home yet. His first thought was to wait in his car until Geno comes back, but then he knew Geno’s tendencies to drive around town aimlessly when he’d had too much on his mind. Sidney felt another pang of guilt in his chest to have been the one to put them there, and decided he need to find him right then and fix the mess he’d made.
He started off by driving pass the places that they always frequented. Which, in this case, Sidney realised there were a lot of them. Like the Chinese takeaway they go to whenever they want to indulge in some deep fried springrolls, or the laundromat where they send all their dry cleaning to. And then there was this little deli where they make their favourite sandwiches and coffee to go after their morning runs. Little did he know, these places had became their thing. They’d been creating new memories in these places. Everywhere he looked he could see himself and Geno sharing precious moments together. He could see the exchanged glances, the shared laughs and the easy touches.
And they were all real.
Like a rock being lifted from him, he felt immensely lighter, happier. But he couldn’t be completely happy without speaking to Geno first. So when he didn’t find him in the places that they’ve frequented a lot, he went to places that they frequent much less. But still no luck. He contemplated going back to his house first, for he realised belatedly that he didn’t have his phone with him. Nevertheless, he drove back to Geno’s place and waited for a little longer. Minutes turned to hours and there was still no sign of him. Sidney was getting worried and a little hungry. And when his gas light came on about 30 minutes later, he had no choice but to leave and regroup.
He called for Anton even before he pass the threshold of his house. He was anxious to know if Geno had came back while he was out there looking for him. He heard hurried footsteps coming his way and he met Anton in the hallway.
“Where have you been?”
“Oh. I went to his house but he wasn’t there so I drove around to see if I can find him. Why? Did Geno come by?”
“Sid, there had been an accident.”
Sidney thought he heard Anton wrong. But he saw the gloom in his face.
“They have been trying to get a hold of you but you left your phone here. And then they called the house.”
The lightness that he felt earlier was slowly slipping away.
“Sid, you need to go to the hospital right now.”
And everything turned dark once again.