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this and that of you

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Sid is brushing his teeth and getting ready for bed when his phone pings with a text. He spits and wipes his mouth and moves back into his bedroom to check it.

It's Claude, asking, can I come over?

Sid raises his eyebrows at the message. It's almost eleven already, and the playoffs start on Wednesday.

Are you sure that's wise?

Found a late nite flight can be there by 2

Sid hesitates over the keypad. On the one hand, it would be nice to wrap themselves in the cocoon of time before the playoffs start. On the other, this is still new, and Sid didn't realize they were already at the impromptu getaway stage of their relationship.

His phone buzzes in his hand. The display reads, U can say no

He makes a decision. You should come. That'd be nice.

He tries to doze, but he's worried he'll fall asleep and not hear the doorbell. Instead, Sid fixes himself a decaf coffee and attempts to read, though he spends more time staring at the clock than at his book.

Just as promised, it's two in the morning when Sid answers the door to find Claude with an overnight bag, a six-pack of beer, and a sheepish smile on his face. "How's your goalie?" he asks as Sid steps aside to let him in.

"Which one?"

"The kid. Brayden didn't mean to… you know."

"I know," Sid says, leaning against the wall, arms crossed. Their goalie situation is what it is; Sid doesn't want to talk about it. "How are you?"

"I'm good." Claude looks him in the eye as he says it.

Sid watches him, holding back the concerns he still has after the hit Claude took in the Yotes game a couple weeks ago. He doesn't really want to talk shop, and he's sure Claude won't want to discuss probable head trauma. There's no need to start a fight when Claude only just got here and won't be staying for very long.

Claude sets the beer and his bag down so he can take off his coat, rolling up his sleeves once he's hung it up. There are dark circles under his eyes, but there are probably dark circles under Sid's too. It's late, and it was maybe a little stupid of Claude to come here, less than three days before the playoffs start. They agreed when they started this to limit in-season visits as much as possible. Sid assumed that included the playoffs; apparently Claude thought differently.

"Why're you here again?"

Claude moves toward Sid but stops just shy of his reach. "I missed you on the ice yesterday."

"Yeah, I'm sure," Sid says with an eyeroll.

"I did." Claude steps fully into Sid's space, drawing him into an embrace. "It's not as much fun without you."

"That so?"

"Yep." Claude pops the 'p' and leans in to kiss Sid. When he pulls back, his nose is wrinkled, and he says, "Your beard is terrible. I hate it."

Sid rolls his eyes and kisses Claude again. He pushes off the wall and starts down the hallway, expecting Claude to follow and smiling to himself when he hears the clink of the six-pack as Claude carries it with him.

"You and everyone else," he says over his shoulder, unable to keep the fond exasperation out of his voice. "It's a work in progress."

That gets a laugh from Claude, just like Sid hoped. "I'll be glad when it's gone."

The last of his sentence freezes them both. They have an unspoken agreement not to discuss their respective places in the standings; the playoffs, though, are a different beast from the regular season.

"Not that I—" Claude starts to backpedal. "I didn't— I mean. I'm not a big fan of the beard itself."

"It's fine," Sid tells him after a beat. And it is. He wouldn't dare say it out loud, but he'll be glad to be rid of it when it's time. But not before then. He turns around at the bottom of the staircase, one foot on the first stair. "So, what are you doing here? Don't you have playoffs to get ready for?"

Claude shrugs, jangling the six-pack with the motion. "We have tomorrow off. Our first game isn't until Thursday." He leers comically at Sid.

"Well, I don't have tomorrow off, so I need to sleep." He's already stayed up far too late, waiting for Claude to arrive. "And I really shouldn't drink. And I don't think we should take the beer with us to the bedroom."

Claude chuckles and retreats to leave the six-pack on the coat stand. "Okay, that's fine. We'll skip the beer."

"You don't have to, if you want one," Sid starts, but Claude shakes his head as he steps close again.

"The beer was… I don't know why I thought I should bring it. It seemed like a good idea at the time?"

Sid leans into him, smiling when Claude snakes his arms around Sid's hips. "I don't think you have to bring a gift every time you visit me. Not any more," Sid says before kissing Claude's jaw.


Claude tilts his head so their lips meet, and they make out languidly in the hallway until Sid pulls back to yawn.

"Do I need to put you to bed, old man?" Claude laughs.

"Probably," Sid says around another yawn.

"Come on, then." Sid lets Claude direct him up the stairs and into the bedroom, where they stop to make out again before undressing and climbing into bed.

They hold each other close, Sid's head tucked under Claude's chin. He's nearly asleep when a thought occurs to him. "You still didn't tell me why you came."

"Do you really need to ask?" There's a smile in Claude's voice.

Sid pokes his side. "Playoffs are this week. You've never shown up like this before."

Claude is quiet long enough that Sid shifts so he can see his face. He's frowning a little, as if thinking about what to say, and Sid reaches up to smooth the wrinkle in his forehead. Finally, Claude says, "I just wanted to see you before things get too crazy."

He says it softly, an admission rather than a plea.

"I'm glad you came," Sid says, an admission of his own.

"Good." Claude smiles impishly, breaking the solemn mood. "I'm glad you're glad I came."

Sid giggles. "I'm glad you're glad I'm—" Claude clamps a hand over Sid's mouth, which only makes him giggle more.

"I'm going to kiss you one more time, and then we need to sleep," Claude says before uncovering Sid's mouth and doing precisely that.