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(I Notice) All the Little Changes

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Geno had just pulled his shirt off to replace it with his practice jersey when the locker room door opened.

"Will you look at that!" Tanger called out. "It's our missing captain!"

He heard Sid laugh, good-natured but lacking humor, "I was hardly missing. I'm not even late."

"You are definitely late," Tanger argued. "Everyone else has been in Pittsburgh for days now and you were still partying in Maui."

"What's with that anyway?" Geno heard Flower ask. "I thought you were spending the summer with your family."

"Something came up," Sidney said.

There was an undertone to his voice that had Geno's ears perking up. Sid was his best friend, or at least he was when Alex was being as irritating as he was amazing, and he'd learned how to tell when he was happy. The way Sid sounded know made it clear to him that whatever had happened to convince the Penguin's captain to spend half his break in Maui instead of with his family was something that had him practically floating.

Geno yanked his practice jersey the rest of the way down before turning to see Sid, hoping for some hint as to what was causing his friend's joy.

Sid was standing just in front of the doorway, rolling his eyes at some chirp of Tanger's. His hair was a little shorter then it'd been the last time they'd seen each other and there was a slight tan to his skin. None of that was particularly surprising, just the natural progression of things.

What reakkt caught Geno's attention was the way Sid seemed to radiate happiness and the shiny, new gold chain around his neck.

"Sid," Geno called out.

Sidney looked over at him, his smile widening a bit when their eyes met. "Geno. Hey, it's good to see you again."

"Is good to see you too," Geno answered. Then he asked, "Why did you not invite me to wedding?"

The whole locker room seemed to stop talking and turn to Sid.

He watched as Sidney's skin paled and his eyes widened. He coughed before asking, "What are you talking about Geno?"

He raised one hand and pointed to the bump where his ring was obviously resting. "You have ring on chain."

Sidney reached a hand up, pressing his palm to the spot. He was quiet for a moment before letting out a soft, "Shit. I forgot to take it off."

The locker room exploded with sound. Geno found it hard to understand what they were saying when they were all shouting like that.

He watched as Sid flipped the ring between his fingers. After a moment, his chest heaved with a sigh. He brought the ring to his lips, pressing a kiss against the cool metal in a gesture that was so incredibly fond that Geno thought even Patrick Sharp might have found it sickening (and Patrick Sharp loved his wife so much that he was pretty consistently a horrible romantic).

Sid let the ring fall from his fingertips, now resting against the outside of his shirt instead of tucked against his skin, before he ran a hand over his face.

When he was done, he straightened his shoulders and called out, "Alright! Everyone shut up!"

When they didn't obey immediately, Sidney repeated it a little louder and a little sharper.

Once the room had died down to quiet mutterings again, he took a deep breath before speaking, "Look, I'm sorry I didn't invite you guys but it wasn't a big thing. It was small. There were only a dozen or so people."

"Does a small thing mean it happened in Vegas?" Flower asked. "Because you weren't even dating someone before the break."

Sid reached up, rubbing nervously at the back of his neck, "Yeah I was."

"No you weren't," Flower argued. Given how they were standing, Geno couldn't see his face but he felt safe in assuming his face would be pinched up in confusion. "You never mentioned anyone or brought them with you to team parties."

"That doesn't mean I'm not with someone," Sidney said. He took a deep breath, looking as though he was bracing himself for something. "I've been with them since um....2004."

There was a pause in the locker room.

Geno felt a pang of hurt rush through him. It seeped into his tone as he said, "You never told us."

Sidney looked stricken by his tone.

"It's not-" Sidney cut himself off. He took another breath. "Look, it's not you guys okay? I love you guys. It's just that we got together right before I was drafted okay? And he was drafted not too long after that. Neither of us were secure enough in our careers to come out."

"And what about now?" Tanger asked. He sounded every bit as hurt as Geno felt. "Because, Sid, I can get why you kept it a secret before. But you came out to us ages ago. Why didn't you tell us you were seeing someone then?"

There was a tone in Sidney's voice that Geno knew meant he was remembering something painful when he said, "Because I wasn't when I told you guys." He rubbed at his arms, as if trying to fend off some chill. "I know I said we've been together since 2004, but we broke up in 2012. I started letting the game mean more to me then he did and I did something he couldn't forgive me for. We didn't get back together until 2015. I just- I don't like thinking about that time and three years doesn't seem like a lot in the grand scheme of how long we've been together so I just count the whole time."

Geno picked over the dates in his head.

He remembered how oddly Sidney had acted after the playoffs in 2012, they were all upset about getting knocked out in the first but Sid had had an extra layer of it that Geno had chalked up to being captainly guilt and he remembered finding it odd how Sid kept staring at his phone in their last few days in Pittsburgh. He remembered how happy Sidney had been after Worlds last year, Sid had seemed more settled to Geno then ever before and how he'd been grinning ear-to-ear almost constantly.

"Oh," Geno said, realizing very suddenly who had been involved in all of those events. "Giroux? Really?"

Looking sheepish but so, so happy, Sidney corrected, "Crosby-Giroux actually. We're not changing our jerseys, but I did manage to convince him."

The rest of the team started shouting questions and demanding answers, but Geno kept quiet.

He knew Sid would talk to him about it later.

For now, he was content in the knowledge that no matter how their relationship appeared on the outside, Sidney was absurdly happy with Claude and that was all Geno wanted for a man he considered one of his greatest friends.