Sid likes to say he's too old to be afraid of anything.
"Fear is a product of unfamiliarity," Sid says all the time, most recently to the rookie in the locker beside him as they prepare for the night's game. He's a call-up from Wilkes-Barre there to fill an injury spot, so new Geno hasn't caught his name yet.
The rookie's knee hasn't stopped bouncing since he sat down, and he's chewing on his thumbnail in anticipation of his first NHL game. Sid smiles at him. "There's nothing to be afraid of."
"Except if you fuck up and we send you back down," Tanger calls across the room, a wicked glint in his dark eyes. He loves tormenting the new guys.
Sid makes an acquiescent face, mildly agreeing with Tanger while he picks up his tape to prepare a stick for the game. The rookie's eyes dart back to Sid's face, seeking comfort or reassurance from the captain. He looks so young, even to twenty-six-year-old Geno. What must he look like to Sid? A baby in compression gear who seems like he's about to lose the contents of his stomach.
"That probably won't happen," Sid says, noticing the rookie's pleading eyes on him. "Just play your game and don't be scared--it doesn't help anything. You'll get used to it in no time."
Sid's dismissal of the rookie's fear isn't unkind. He doesn't mean to be unsympathetic. He's just far too old and experienced to understand. He doesn't remember what it was like to be bombarded by new things, particularly when it comes to hockey. Sid was there at the dawn of the sport when he could only play at night because all the ice was outdoors.
Maybe it's ironic that the rookie does just fine in the game while Sid's teeth wind up scattered all over the ice.
It's a deflected puck, a change in direction so fast not even Sid's reflexes can react, and it catches him in the face. He goes down with a glove against his mouth. Play stops with a sharp whistle. Gonch looks frantic and worried when he slides in beside Sid, gesturing at the trainers to come help.
Sid, by contrast, looks calm. When the trainers arrive, he takes the offer of a towel to put over his leaking mouth before he stands up, hiding the undoubtedly gnarly injury as he skates off. Geno watches him go, helpless to do anything, until he disappears down the tunnel.
On the bench, Geno fears the worst--that they'll be without Sid for a long time. Again. He's not sure how he'll handle that, not sure he can take it this time. Last time was hard enough, and that was when they were just friends and teammates. Now--
In his mind's eye, Geno can suddenly see Sid's wry smile while he shakes his head at him, telling him his worrying won't change anything. Focus on the game, not me.
It's hard, but it's what Sid would want. Geno tries not to fret about it anymore, tries to keep his mind focused on shift changes and pounding the net for goals.
After the game, Geno hovers around the locker room, refusing to head off to the shower until the first word comes in about Sid's condition. He broke his jaw, lost a bunch of teeth, and, yes, worst-case scenario, he has concussion symptoms. Geno drops his head in disappointment at the news.
The last concussion cost Sid most of a year. Trainers and doctors, well versed in human medicine, found that their skills did not translate well to healthcare for vampires. When they could find nothing to speed the process, they had to recommend what the legends recounted--a very long sleep.
"Maybe they'll get me a coffin, eh? Send in a couple virgins," Sid laughed when he was explaining the recommendation to Geno before he disappeared to sleep his concussion off. Seeing Geno's devastated expression, Sid sobered and reached out to touch his shoulder. "It'll be okay. I'll come back good as new. I promise."
Sid said it like he never worried about anything, not even his own health.
Geno worried enough for both of them during the months Sid slept, afraid Sid would come back with the same symptoms, back at square one with no answers. Geno worried about losing Sid entirely if that happened, that Sid might give up on playing hockey, which would take him out of Geno's life.
In his desperation to do something other than sitting around and fretting, Geno took to the internet, searching for ways to fix Sid's head. Most sources agreed with the trainers about hibernation--the ultimate cure-all. Vampires could recover from just about anything with enough sleep.
Geno’s research elaborated on some of what Sid told him before--that when vampires slept, they didn't really sleep the same way a human did. They shut down to basics, turned off everything but the instinct to feed, which was why Sid had to be locked away.
The internet sources also brought up something the trainers never mentioned.
At the time, Geno already knew what Sid ate--a varied mix of pig and cow blood. Sid survived just fine on it, still does, but it's a modified diet. To heal quickly, the sources said vampires need to go back to their roots and drink human blood.
Geno never did anything with the information he gathered. Sid came back okay, and after a couple of setbacks, he returned to the ice before Geno ever needed to suggest it.
Three days after the jaw injury, when Geno comes over to visit, Sid breaks the news that he’s made the call to try the same thing again, a months-long sleep to fix his head.
"Worked last time," Sid says with a shrug, slurring around his missing teeth.
Geno runs a thumb over Sid's swollen bottom lip. The teeth will grow back, in time, but for now, there's a huge gap where half of the bottom ones are gone.
Seeing Sid's ruined face, hearing his plan to disappear for another stretch of months, Geno makes up his mind. He's not going to waste his time Googling and hoping, not this time.
"Gonna wait for me?" Sid asks. He's just teasing. There's no grand romance between them, only the occasional hookup--friends with some pretty extensive benefits.
Geno would wait, though, if Sid really asked.
Instead of answering, Geno lays the gentlest kiss on the least bruised part of Sid's mouth and lingers there, knowing it might be his last chance. If Geno goes through with his half-cocked plan, Sid might not forgive him.
Sid's recovery room is in the practice rink, tucked away at the back of the equipment storage area. The team set it up for the last injury, putting it there so that people would be around, watching out for Sid during his hibernation.
It takes almost a week before Geno can get into the facility alone and make his way back to the recovery room. He's never seen Sid in full vampire mode--probably nobody has. Stories on the internet vary widely about what to expect, and Geno suspects most of them are bullshit. He can't imagine Sid with glowing red eyes, chomping at him like a shark. Life is rarely so cartoonish.
But Sid is worried enough about his unconscious self that he insisted on three deadbolts for the door. Geno stares at the locks for a long time before he steps forward to unlock them using the keys he snagged out of Dana's toolbox.
The vampire inside snarls low as the heavy door creaks open.
"Stop," Geno says, even though he has no idea if Sid will obey--most likely not. "Just me."
The growl in the dark cuts off into a low, plaintiff whine, and Geno straightens, surprised that worked. Even in this primal state, Sid seems to recognize him.
Feeling bold from his initial success, Geno closes the door behind him and plunges the windowless room into total darkness. He inches forward.
"Help me," he demands, reaching out, and jumps when a hand wraps around his wrist. It's ice-cold, like a stone in winter. He hisses. "They don't feed you enough," he grouses, following the pull of the granite-cool hand until he can feel Sid's chest against his own. Sid's lips immediately start brushing against his neck. Geno braces for the bite, but it doesn't come. He relaxes slowly and can't help a nervous grin at the rush of surviving something that he maybe shouldn't have. "Hi, Sid."
The vampire makes a noise, a huff of greeting maybe. Sid is in there, somewhere. He's said it before, how it feels to be in this state.
"It's like a dream. How you see a dream, but don't really experience it. It's like that. I can see everything that's happening, but afterward, it mostly just fades away."
Maybe Sid won't even remember this. That would be lucky--if he didn't remember enough to get mad about Geno breaking his rules and coming near him while he sleeps.
"Okay," Geno says, voice shaking with how hard his heart is pounding. He's made up his mind to do this, but having the vampire mouthing at his neck makes it all seem very real and terrifying. He needs Sid to get on with it before he can try to chicken out. "You drink now."
Sid's tongue is cold and soft against Geno's throat. His extended canine teeth are pinpoint pricks against Geno's skin--two of them. Clearly, his fangs weren't among the teeth he lost. Sid tongues at Geno's pulse before he bites.
The initial shock of teeth deep into his vein is the only part that hurts. It's over quickly, and Sid is so gentle with him after. He pets his fingers through Geno's hair and keeps a hand circled around Geno's wrist. He rubs his thumb in soft circles over the pulse point, the thin skin over his inner wrist.
It seems like they stand there for a long time, with Sid making content noises while he fills up on the first human blood he's had in god-knows how long. Geno almost wishes there was more to it, less standing around getting bored and cold. Of course, that second part might be from blood loss. He wonders how he'll know if he's starting to lose too much.
Geno is just beginning to feel drowsy when Sid stops sucking at his neck. His tongue is warmer than before when it licks over the wound, and Geno leans his head on Sid's shoulder, content to let him do whatever he wants for a long time. His eyelids are drooping when Sid stops licking his neck and starts guiding him. He pulls Geno over to a soft place, a small bed. Sid pulls and pushes and gets Geno down on the mattress. He covers him up with a blanket up to his shoulders before he curls in around him and closes an arm over Geno's body just as he drops into sleep. They don't usually cuddle, but Geno could certainly get used to it.
Geno starts awake to a jolt behind him. The room remains dark, but he can tell by the sluggishness in his limbs he's been out for a while.
"Geno?" Sid says before Geno can rouse himself enough to move. "Oh, god."
Geno groans when Sid turns him on his back and pushes two fingertips onto his neck. "Stop. What you doing?"
"Checking your pulse. I have no idea how much blood--Where's your phone?"
"In locker. Don't want calls. I'm fine. Don't worry."
"Do you feel dizzy? Sick?"
"I'm not dizzy. Not sick. You very polite. I barely even feel when you take."
"Geno," Sid fusses, fingers lightly grazing over the closed wound. "You can't come here. It's locked for a reason."
Geno follows the movement of Sid's hands enough in the dark to catch his wrists. "I don't want..."
He trails off as he realizes he doesn't have the right words for this. He doesn't want Sid off the team while he recovers, but more than that--he doesn't want to lose Sid from his company. Last time nearly broke him--maybe did a little bit. It certainly made him bold enough to kiss Sid when he came back. Now, they're sleeping together every couple of weeks, more than friends, and Geno would do anything not to give that up.
"I don't want you to go," he says with a shrug, the message falling far short of how he feels. "I do this to get you back. For team. For me. For you, too. You don't heal so good drink pig blood. Human blood is better. My blood best."
The tension in Sid's body eases under Geno's grasp. "I know you want to help. I appreciate it, I do. But that was really dangerous. I'm out of my mind when I'm like that. You can't trust me."
"I trust you always."
"You don't understand. I'm like an animal when I'm--I could lash out, break your neck, drain you--"
"No. You so sweet. Like little puppy."
Sid wriggles his hands out of Geno's grasp and lays a palm on Geno's chest. "You scared me to death."
"You never scared," Geno teases, hopeful that he can keep Sid from being furious with him. "That's what you tell rookies."
"It's not funny, G. Waking up, seeing you not moving...I thought I'd really hurt you. Or worse."
Geno sits up carefully, admittedly feeling a little weak. "It's okay. Vampire-Sid like me."
Sid huffs, maybe in disbelief or maybe laughing--Geno can't tell. Geno takes it as a sign of him softening and brings up the question he's dying to ask.
"So--You feel better?"
Shuffling noises indicate Sid scooting back, probably studying Geno with his catlike eyes while Geno can't do the same. When he speaks, it's in a reluctant tone. "Yes. I feel--basically normal."
"Good. So it's good idea."
"No. It was stupid. Reckless," Sid says firmly. "But..." he trails off, softening, "I appreciate what you wanted to do. Helping me."
"You want to again?"
"Not anytime soon. You need to recover."
"But maybe. So you feel better."
Sid doesn't speak again for a long moment. In the dark, his silence is unreadable. Geno holds his breath until Sid says something. "I'll think about it. But not like this again. Not…I will do it next time. When I'm awake, able to stop if you get in trouble."
Geno releases his breath. He knows that means it will be an easy sell. Sid sees the benefits of human blood to aid his healing. Geno will not only be able to convince him to do it again, but he will also speed the process of getting Sid back on the ice. He won't have to spend another year without him. Geno gropes for him in the dark and pulls him close again, this time to kiss him.
If Geno didn't have extensive knowledge to the contrary, he might buy the act when Sid pretends like he's too old and weary for sex. To the world, Sid seems utterly disinterested in the subject, preferring to snub salacious details in favor of talking about hobbies or families--wholesome things.
But Geno does know better. He's had Sid in his bed for well over a year, with their trysts getting more and more frequent. As time passes and Sid gets bolder, he knows precisely how interested Sid can be.
"Sid," Geno gasps, coming abruptly into wakefulness with Sid's cool mouth around his cock. His hand flies down beneath the covers to touch Sid's hair while he cranes to look at the clock. A squint at the time makes him groan. They really don't have time for this before practice. "It's late."
Sid releases him. The air beneath the blanket is warmer than Sid's mouth. The covers lift up, revealing his smirking face. "Well. Better be quick then."
Geno doesn't think about it right away when Sid ducks back beneath the covers to take him in again. He definitely doesn't think about it when his thighs are trembling and his head is thrown back and he's so close. Then he doesn't have a chance to think about it when they're scrambling to get dressed and race to the car, praying for light traffic because it's the only way they're getting to practice on time.
And that's when it hits him, driving like hell and taking corners fast enough to get disgruntled little sounds out of Sid every time he turns, hunkered down under his blanket out of the sun in the back seat. Sid--who apologizes for being less than fifteen minutes early to things--made them late. For a blowjob.
"What are you laughing about?" Sid asks, muffled.
"Nothing. Funny sign," he fibs and takes another corner as fast as he dares.
They make it into the locker room with enough time to pull on pads and trot down the tunnel onto the ice ahead of the whistle to start drills. Geno ducks the catcalls and cheers, mockingly applauding them for making it under the wire and crashes in for instruction.
Coach Dan arches an eyebrow at Geno because nobody would ever suspect Sid of causing their tardiness. They're all aware Geno gives Sid a ride to the rink every practice day--though they don't know why--so of course, it must be Geno's fault.
"Nice of you to join us," Dan says dryly.
"Yes, thank you. Happy I'm here." Geno gives his winningest smile, and Dan cracks, hiding a grin of his own while he turns away to draw on the whiteboard stuck to the glass.
That seems like it will be the end of it. They made it, and they're not in trouble. Well, not that Sid ever would be. Geno throws a few gentle-but-unnecessary elbows at Sid throughout practice to razz him, a private little tease.
He should really know his teammates better, though.
They're not three steps into the locker room before Nealer starts in. "Hey Sid, you oughta switch cab drivers. This one sucks." He smacks Geno's ass to make his point as he passes, but he probably mostly just hurts his hand on the padding in the breezers.
Sid plops down at his stall and grins up. "Nah, he's okay."
"He makes you late."
"Hey, we're not late!" Geno calls, mouth irresistibly pulling his mock-outrage into a smile.
"What were you doing, G?" Nealer cackles. "Booty call turn off the alarm?"
All the gears in Geno's brain grind to a stop. English leaves him. It's so close to the truth he suddenly can't think of a single, intelligible thing to say.
"That happened to me once."
Hands stop pulling off pads, and all eyes turn to Beau. He looks up from undoing his elbow pad and seems to realize he said it loud enough for everyone to notice. Suddenly, thankfully, all the interest in the room is off Geno and onto quiet, reserved Beau Bennett and prying the salacious details of his story out of him.
"Oh, Sunshine--you've been holding out on us?" Nealer crows.
Truth be told, the story is only interesting because it's Beau. If Tanger told the same story--how he stayed out late the night before practice and slept at a girl's house, only to find that the girl hit his alarm before it could rouse him--nobody would care. But it's Beau, who never tells a dirty joke or comments about women's bodies. As far as anyone in the locker room knew up until this point, he could still have been a virgin.
"You're lucky Sid wasn't your captain then," Kuni chuckles. "That's luggage duty for a month in Sid's world. Hockey before hookups."
Geno looks up just as Sid glances over and meets his gaze. Geno smirks--wondering what Kuni would think if he knew how Sid made them late--and gets an admonishing glare in return. Don't you dare.
"Hockey before everything," Nisky chuckles, a good-natured jab.
"I don't know," Geno singsongs, teasing Sid before he thinks about the consequences. Sid's eyes go wide, his mouth parting to stop him.
Nealer turns on him as Sid doubles down on his you better not look, and Geno runs out of courage. He only wants to tease if Sid shares in the laughter. Maybe Sid doesn't want his captaincy undermined, though that doesn't seem like him.
"You don't know what?" Nealer asks, delighted to know.
Or, maybe Sid thinks Geno would give them away, say too much. He only planned on saying Sid was in bed with someone that morning, not necessarily him
The thought that Sid is so averse to people finding out about them throws a wet towel over Geno's mood.
"Come on, G," Nealer prods. "Don't leave us hanging. What don't you know?"
"Nothing," Geno says in a stubborn enough tone to get Nealer to back off. "None you business," he adds for good measure and drops his eyes to his skates to get them off and finally makes his way to the showers, subdued.
When they're cleaned up and dressed, Geno meets Sid back in the locker room, car keys in hand. "Ready?"
Sid holds his gaze for a beat, studying him with a curious, pinched expression before he nods. It's shaping up to be a conversation, maybe even an argument. Geno regrets ever almost saying anything.
"Want to go home or my house?"
Usually, Sid goes home for the day after practice, but Geno figures he should offer. He's got a finished basement with an entertainment setup. Sid can hide from the sun and play video games down there all day if he wants--after they argue.
"Yeah, your place."
Geno drives home with Sid bundled up in under his blanket in the back with dread lodged in his throat. He parks in the garage and shuts the door all the way before he taps Sid. "Safe." Then he escapes inside the house like he can outrun this.
"What was that all about in the locker room?" Sid asks before Geno even gets all the way through taking his shoes off.
Geno shrugs. "I don't know," he says, trying to keep his tone wry and head off the fight. He thinks he mostly sounds nervous. "Maybe I think you want to tell how hot is guy you sleep with, makes you late."
Sid doesn't bite on the playful tone. He frowns. "You want me to share what we do in bed with the team?"
"Maybe not. Could say is someone else."
"You think I'm sleeping with someone else?"
"No, I know you don't," Geno says, sounding surer than he actually is. After all, they haven't really talked much about being exclusive, even though he's pretty sure they are--Geno is, at least. "I just meant, you could maybe still tell story, why you come late. Don't have to say is me."
Sid makes a dismissive noise--brokering no argument. "I'm not so obsessed with sex I need to tell everyone when it happens."
The lump of dread in Geno's throat dislodges and he breathes easy, relief rushing through him. Thank god, Sid's reticence isn't because Sid doesn't want people to know about them--it's just because he's a prude.
Sure enough, Sid follows up with, "Some things should be private."
That's what he says--like he only ever thinks about sex in the bedroom, where it's proper. Geno doesn't really mean to take it as a challenge. But with the adrenaline high of knowing Sid's not ashamed of what they have, feeling giddy with relief--Geno can't help it. His brain takes Sid's words, and twists them up, makes them into something far less innocuous.
Bet you can't make me fuck you in public.
He banishes the thought as soon as it comes to him because he's only just dodged a bullet with Sid. He doesn't need to turn the gun his way again. He goes instead to make a sandwich and pull a bottle of locally-sourced, butcher-fresh cow blood out of his fridge because that's the sort of thing he keeps around since Sid's been sleeping over more.
But in the back of his mind, he wonders. Maybe.
The team goes out after their eighth win, having climbed back far enough in the standings to breathe easy again. The club is dark, with splashes of lights flashing with the beat of the music.
It only takes one round of drinks before Olli is surrounded by girls his age, charmed by his accent and his hair and his sweet smile. He catches Geno's eye and gives him a thumbs up with either arm slung around a girl.
Sid sees the exchange and shakes his head fondly, like he can't even conceive of being attracted to someone. The bet Geno imagined weeks ago comes back to him.
He's been thinking about it a lot, pressing the boundaries of public affection Sid would allow, growing bolder. What can it hurt to keep the pattern up? Worst case scenario, Sid's not into it and ignores him. He doesn't think that will happen, though.
Geno waits until Sid has found a place to wallflower, tucked back in the darkest part of the club like the creature of the night he is. Then Geno wedges in beside Sid--tucked up close to his shoulder--and leans in to be heard over the music.
Sid shakes his head immediately. Expected.
"Okay. Watch me then."
Sid looks sideways at him, doubtful, curious, and subtly interested.
"Watch," Geno orders again, and makes his way out to the dancefloor.
He feels Sid's eyes on him the whole time he's swaying across the dancefloor, can practically hear him asking, What are you up to?
The heat of Sid's gaze intensifies when a young woman bounces up to Geno through the crowd, breasts perky and jumping under her shirt. She smiles at him, bright and blond and beaming, and he resists the temptation to look up at Sid to see what he thinks. It's fine. It's just dancing. And besides, they're not even dating, not really. Sid won't be jealous.
And if he is, well...Maybe that's a little bit the point.
Geno smiles back at the girl, encouraging, and she sashays in close in her incredibly high heels. The music is too loud on the floor to exchange information, and she probably knows who he is. She's got that look about her, targeting the famous guy, so he doesn't bother trying to shout his name. He just puts his hands on her waist and moves with her to the thrumming beat.
It's a while before he feels brave enough to turn them and look back at Sid. He worries maybe Sid will be gone, but he spots him where he left him. Geno can barely make out his eyes gleaming in the dark. Sid isn't gone, and he is watching.
Geno flips the girl around, so her back is to his chest, and she rolls with it, grinning over her shoulder. He hardly notices, so focused is he on keeping Sid's attention.
Geno pushes the girl's hair to the side and exposes her neck. He sees Sid's chin lift with interest. Geno smirks and ducks his head, a pale imitation of drinking her blood on the dancefloor, knowing that it gets Sid going.
The first time Sid bit Geno, he was asleep. It was all instinct. Geno assumed that was all there was, that feeding off his blood was nothing more than a snack, no sexier than a protein shake.
The second time proved him wrong.
Sid didn't ask for a long time, but Geno knew he was thinking about it. It got clearer every time they were alone. Making out suddenly involved a lot more kissing down Geno's throat than it once did, tonguing at his pulse. Sid sucked marks into Geno's neck every time they slept together until Geno could hardly bear it.
"Do it," Geno begged one night, half out of his mind and nearing climax. Sid was buried inside him to the hilt, rocking more than thrusting as he dragged his hand over Geno's cock and sucked on his pulse. "Sid."
The sharp sting of teeth answered him, a flash of pain before Sid latched on, moaning like it was the best thing ever. Geno's body jerked with the barrage of sensation and sent him over the edge.
Sid acted sheepish the next day, but his eyes told the truth, drifting hotly to the mark on Geno's neck with two healing pinpricks in the center. Sid wasn't ashamed. He wanted to do it again.
Geno tightens his grip on the girl's hips. He thinks Sid would probably be okay with it if Geno took her home, would likely follow him there if Geno invited him. Sid isn't jealous or possessive, and he would probably be into it. It would just be a matter of convincing her to let Sid watch--maybe even join in.
But Geno isn't interested in the girl. He's only using her to get under Sid's skin, something he seems to be doing exceedingly well. Even in the dark and halfway across the floor, Geno can tell Sid is aroused. Sure enough, as Geno watches under his lashes, Sid reaches down to subtly adjust his dick in his trousers. Geno smirks. No, he doesn't want the girl at all.
Music never really ends at the club, but Geno manages to find a break in the beat long enough to make his departure. He's going for a drink, he says without offering to get her one and walks away before she can say anything. He glances up for Sid, only to find the spot empty. Geno pouts to himself a little, looking around without success. Well. Maybe he'll have that drink, after all, see if Sid comes back when he returns.
Geno doesn't make it to the bar before a cold hand closes around his wrist. He knows who has him before he even turns and finds Sid studying him with sharp, predatory interest. Sid tugs on him, and Geno gladly allows himself to be led off.
Sid sinks his teeth into Geno's neck in a bathroom stall and suckles at the wound while he shoves a hand down Geno's pants. He never says a word, just ruts against him, and sucks his blood while Geno gasps and moans and comes so hard he probably makes some really loud noises in the public restroom. Then Sid guides Geno's hand against the front of his trousers and rubs against it artlessly until he groans his completion around a mouthful of Geno's blood.
Geno's breath sounds loud in the stillness that follows while Sid nuzzles against his throat and down into the vee of his shirt, chasing skin to drop kisses on. He's always very tender with Geno after drinking from him, almost protective.
"You made me come in my pants," Sid complains after he comes down enough. Geno rears back to be outraged--to protest that Sid was the one dragging him into the bathroom--but stops when he finds Sid smirking, clearly delighted.
"You like it," Geno said, helpless against the smirk pulling at his mouth. "Now we can leave. Go home, clean up."
Sid shakes his head like he did at Olli--like he's so above it all. Clearly, Geno still has a long way to go to wipe that arrogant cool off his face permanently.
Geno floats on air as they stumble out of the stall together. He immediately crashes when he looks up and freezes at Nealer's shocked expression. "Shit."
Nealer looks between them-- there's no real hiding what they were doing. There are only so many reasons for two people to go into a stall together. Plus, there's a fresh bite on his neck--he darts a hand up to cover it far too late and only draws Nealer's attention. His eyes get even wider, like a deer frozen in the road.
Geno can't talk, can't think. He turns his panic-stricken eyes on Sid, assuming Sid will scrape together some excuse, however flimsy, to try to explain it.
"You--" Nealer starts and then stops like he's afraid to say it. "You two are--"
Geno grimaces, bracing for Sid's brushoff-- it's not what it looks like. Sid doesn't have sex and surely wouldn't do it with a teammate. He's better than that--better than Geno.
Sid tips his chin up, calm and defiant, then brushes by Nealer on his way to the sink to wash his hands. "Like you didn't know."
From Nealer's face, he certainly didn't, but that's how Sid wants to play it. It's shameless and bold and nothing like what Geno expected from him. Geno mutely follows his lead past Nealer out of the bathroom, then out of the club.
"Well then," Sid says in the car. He's behind the wheel--he reserves the right to drive every time they go anywhere at night. "I guess everyone will know by morning." He sounds almost amused, but turns his eyes to Geno and softens sympathetically. "You okay?
Like Sid thinks Geno might be the one wanting to keep it secret--like Geno hasn't been the one holding on to hope that they could be more.
Geno doesn't have words complex or happy enough for this, so he yanks Sid over the console and kisses him. Sid laughs against his mouth, calmly petting a thumb over his cheek like he doesn't know what got into him.
Sid sometimes claims he's been around too long to get angry about anything, but everyone knows that one is bullshit.
"Hey!" Sid snaps from the bench at an unwary ref who strays too close. "You've missed six crosschecks this period. What are you looking at?"
The ref throws a dirty look over his shoulder at Sid, a warning that he should stop or risk a game misconduct call.
Geno smiles down at his skates, catching his breath three people down from Sid while the captain sticks up for his team. It feels a little personal since Geno's taken the bulk of the sticks and elbows and slew-foots in the game. But as much as Geno appreciates the backup, he can handle the physicality. The missed calls haven't done any lasting damage to him--just primed him to be extra sore tomorrow. Games against the Capitals are always chippy. So much of it is just Ovi saying hi in his big Ovi way.
Wilson, though. That's a different story.
Wilson reminds Geno of his dog, Geoffrey, when he was still a puppy, but his body was nearly grown. Geoffery would try to play with smaller creatures: cats, squirrels, rabbits. More than once, his "play" resulted in a broken neck. Geoffrey would carry the limp body around forlornly, but his regret didn't do anything to bring the creature back.
Well--Wilson is like that but without remorse.
Geno knows who hit him as soon as he feels the impact. Ovi would never do something so intentionally dangerous, Kuzya isn't stupid enough to risk making Geno an enemy, and Orlov is--at heart--a nice guy. Nisky is across the ice, hovering at the blueline to keep the puck in, so only one possible culprit remains. Wilson drives Geno into the boards from behind so hard his bones rattle.
From his position crumpled on the ice, Geno takes stock of his health while he waits to hear the whistle. There has to be one this time. The refs have been lax this game, but it was blatant boarding. Luckily, Geno can feel all the way from his toes to his head. He wiggles his fingers and his feet. Everything seems to work, apart from some throbbing neck pain--nothing sharp. He's okay.
Where is that damn whistle?
Geno crawls back to his feet when he realizes the whistle isn't coming and limps for the bench. He practically falls into Rusty's lap getting over the boards to change. When he straightens and starts to take his spot, Kuni scoots over to block it and nods sharply to his left. Geno follows his gesture over to Sid's face.
Sid exudes the quiet kind of fury, rare and smoldering. Clearly, he took exception to the hit or maybe the lack of a call for it. Geno's irritated, too, but Sid looks murderous. He seems angry enough to do something drastic, and Sid's line goes out again in less than two minutes. Geno can see why Kuni thought this needed intercepting.
Geno plops in beside Sid and nudges his shoulder. Sid tears his eyes away from the ice to look Geno up and down. His eyes are dilated, like a predator on a hunt.
"I'm okay," Geno says, not sure exactly what to say. The hit was dirty, the call was missed, but none of that is worth getting kicked out of the game. Usually, Sid would be the one telling him that--they're up one, and nothing matters enough to risk losing.
Sid's nostrils flare. "You should get checked." He's lisping slightly. Sure enough, when Geno looks down at his mouth, his bottom lip is pushed down from the lengthening of his canines, his instincts flaring up to match his mood, ready for a fight.
"I'm good," Geno tries again, taken aback by Sid's mood. Sid was annoyed with the refs before, but this is something else. He's so hot he's practically smoking. "Don't worry, okay?"
Sid's hand strangles his stick--Geno swears he can see the carbon fiber bending. Sid returns his eyes to the ice. He doesn't look calmer. "You're bleeding," he says tightly.
Geno shakes his hand out of his glove to touch his face. He pulls it away from his temple coated in red. He opens his mouth to say it's nothing just as a trainer bends down to tell him he has to go back for a concussion check--league-mandated. There's no fighting it. Geno gets up and lays a hand briefly on Sid's helmet as he passes. He imagines he can feel Sid's anger trembling up through his hand.
The team doctor meets Geno in the closest quiet room and runs him through the checks--nothing he hasn't been through before. He gets the clear despite the blood running down his cheek and dripping off his jaw. The doctor holds Geno from bolting as soon as he clears the concussion protocol. "Hold your horses," he says, like there's nothing urgent about the situation, and reaches for a butterfly closure to tape the wound shut.
By the time Geno returns to play out the remainder of the third, Sid is in the penalty box. Geno settles on the bench and looks across the ice at him. Sid's irritable expression cracks when their eyes meet, relieved to see Geno come back.
Geno makes a face at him and points up at the penalty clock--What the hell did you do?
Sid shrugs, sheepish but defiant--Worth it.
Geno isn't exactly surprised that Sid went after someone, angry as he was when Geno left. Sid doesn't like to fight, but he's not afraid to throw hands if need be. Geno feels like he should just be grateful that Sid didn't try to fight a ref--if he did, he would be walking back to the locker room.
The clock runs down with Sid still in the box, and the horn sounds--Penguins win. Geno jumps up while, across the ice, Sid escapes his little prison and makes his way back to his team.
"Bad boy, get in box," Geno teases, tapping the knuckles of his glove against Sid's shoulder.
Sid shrugs, still looking unremorseful. "It was just a minor."
"You fight," Geno laughs and turns to make his way down the tunnel.
"It wasn't a fight," Sid calls after him.
Tanger grins back over his shoulder in front of Geno. "He dropped the gloves."
"So, it's fight," Geno declares, even though he knows the penalty would be longer. Maybe the refs made the wrong call again like they did all night.
"Well someone must defend your honor, if you're not," Tanger jabs.
"I can't help--I get bring back for head check."
"Well, your boyfriend was very happy to do it for you."
"For whole team," Geno corrects. "It's Capitals. Big fight."
"Oh yeah, that's why he waited for Wilson's next shift and targeted him, yes?"
Geno doesn't immediately have an answer for that. Sid fought just for him? That seems unlikely. There was a calculation to it, a motive--get the team fired up for another goal, win the game.
But that only makes sense if the Penguins were down. Up a goal as they were, Sid targetting Wilson could have tanked them. It was dumb to try to fight him. Sid might simply have lost his temper on the ice and gone after the guy who hurt Geno.
Geno feels irrationally fond of the idea. It's not about the fight, necessarily, but the meaning. Sid maybe did something dumb on the ice, not for the team, but just for Geno.
They don't cross paths much after the game, but Sid follows him out of the locker room when they're finished, asking, "You staying up for a bit?"
He is. Geno can't sleep for a few hours after a game--Sid knows that better than anyone. What's Sid is really asking is if it's okay to come over to Geno's house, which is silly since it's been their post-game routine all season. At this point, Sid is spending more time at Geno's than he does in his own custom-built, vampire-safe home.
Geno would usually tease him for asking--No, take Uber home--but he's still feeling overwhelmingly fond of Sid for the maybe-fight for Geno's honor. Instead of teasing, Geno reaches for his hand to squeeze it briefly.
"Yes, come over. Want to drive?"
That perks Sid up a bit. "Your car? Sure."
Geno doesn't know why Sid likes driving the little sports car. It's not like he gets anything out of it, obeying the speed limit all the way home. Sid might look twenty-five, but he drives like the centenarian he really is. He even checks his mirrors before setting off.
Geno survives the boredom of the world's slowest ride home by fiddling with the radio the whole time while Sid objects to basically every song that isn't bubblegum pop.
When they get to the house, Sid doesn't have to look to press the button for the garage. He just reaches up and gets it on the first try with the ease of familiarity.
"What?" Sid asks when he sees Geno smiling dopily at him.
"Nothing. Just happy."
Sid looks at him skeptically. "You sure you're not concussed?"
Geno makes an indignant noise and opens his door without a reply.
Inside, Sid pulls his gameday tie off before he gets through the mudroom and starts working on the buttons of his shirt, anxious to get comfortable as fast as possible. Geno follows him as far as the bedroom, affectionately aware that Sid will beeline for a shower to get the gel out of his hair. Geno's system is better and doesn't require further bathing--he just wears a hat with his suit.
Geno hangs up his suit while the water turns on and meanders his way back down the hall in shorts. It's chilly in the house, but that's what blankets are for. He plops into his worn chair and picks up his remote. Sid won't be down for a while, so that gives him some time to figure out what they're watching. Maybe a movie.
Or he could watch the fight.
Geno glances back the way he came needlessly--he knows Sid's still in the shower. Geno has time to bring the game up on the DVR so he can watch whatever Sid did to get into the sin bin.
He only gets as far as Rusty's early third-period goal--a greasy, borderline interference chip over Holtby's left pad--before he hears Sid's footsteps in the hall.
"Watching the game?" Sid asks as he enters and flops down on the couch.
"Sure. Want to see fight."
"It wasn't a fight," Sid chuckles, settling on his back, ankles crossing as he stretches all the way out. "Just roughing."
Sid's right, but only because Wilson's teammates pulled him back before he could get his gloves off. The Capitals wanted to take the power play opportunity instead of allowing things to progress.
Sid wanted to fight him, though. He snarls his way across the screen, sneering and pulling against the refs. Anyone who knows what to look for can see his fangs every time he bares his teeth.
"So much for representation, eh?" Sid says, watching the TV with a mournful little sigh. He'll get it for a week from reporters--questions about whether vampires are too violent for the league, whether they should be allowed to play. The league kept them out for a long time, and incidents like this always bring back the discussion. Sid hates when he's the one to spark the debate once again.
"You don't hurt anybody," Geno replies, watching Sid on the TV stomp into the box and toss his stick against the wall.
"I don't think that's really going to matter."
Based on past experience, Geno doesn't either. It's sensationalist reporting to say that the league's top player is a feral demon. It sells papers and gets clicks, so that's what they'll write. Geno shuts off the game and plunges the room into silence.
"Sorry, Sid," Geno says, lowering his voice because the sudden quiet makes him feel like he's in church. He feels partly responsible for the storm that will come for Sid, the barrage. "You don't have to fight."
"Of course I did, G. They were killing you out there."
Dramatic. Sid must think humans are so fragile. "Not kill. Not even hurt, mostly."
"They could have. I needed to make a point."
"Because you're captain?"
Sid shoots him a perplexed and slightly wounded look. "You have to ask?"
Geno shrugs, feeling a little self-conscious now. "I think you never fight."
"I fight. I've fought before. Maybe not a whole lot, but enough."
"Why you fight today?"
Sid turns on his side to prop himself up on an elbow, so he can scrutinize Geno properly. "What are you fishing for?" he asks, a little bit of his smile teasing back onto his mouth.
With Sid's full attention on him, Geno suddenly doesn't know why he's pressing. Maybe Sid did fight for him, like Tanger said. Maybe Sid wrestles with the same big, hard to contain feelings Geno does about their relationship. But even if he does, Sid's not one to just say that.
"You want me to say I fought for you out there? You already know that. So, what? You want me to tell you I would fight anyone who hurt you? That I want to?"
Geno swallows but shakes his head. "No. Not smart hockey--fight everyone."
"You don't want me to fight the league for you, so what? What are you asking for?"
"It's nothing. Never mind," Geno says, flustered by Sid's steady gaze and the teasing set of his mouth. "Forget. Let's watch TV and--"
"You want me to tell you why I fought for you?"
Geno's heart stutters into a hopeful staccato while his tongue turns to stone. Sid looks victorious.
"What do you want to hear, G?" Sid says, his teasing smile softening. "That when he hit you, I almost jumped the boards? That, with you just laying there, I was so scared?"
Geno can't say a word, barely wants to breathe in case Sid goes on, and he misses anything.
"You want me to say I love you?"
Sid has never said the L word to him before. Geno's eyes sting with how bad he wants Sid to be serious, and his chest aches because he knows he is. Sid would never joke about something like that.
Sometimes, when Sid moves, Geno can still see the unnaturalness of him. When he rolls off the couch and up onto his feet, the motion is just a little too smooth. Geno watches Sid pad over to kneel beside his chair. Sid reaches up and touches his cheek, just under the cut from the game.
"I do, Geno. Of course, I do. I love you."
Geno pulls on him and gets him up into the chair, awkwardly draped across Geno's lap to kiss him. He hopes that's enough to communicate that he feels the same way because his voice has completely failed him.
It's funny to think because Sid is generally a happy guy, but he really doesn't seem to feel joy with any kind of intensity. Sure, he laughs and smiles a lot, but it's always with an even-keeled calmness.
Geno thinks he should be used to it by now, after years of living in close quarters, should be able to read Sid's subtler emotions. But Geno still gets insecure about it sometimes.
Their first Christmas after they move in together, Geno thinks he has the perfect Christmas present for Sid--a pair of custom-made cufflinks, ones he can wear with his grey and blue suits on media days or to parties. The idea comes to him after months of Sid stealing Geno's cufflinks instead of wearing his own.
"Mine are a little--old fashioned," Sid explains when Geno smirks at his thievery while they get ready for a game in the master bathroom.
Of course, Sid's cufflinks are old fashioned. It's because Sid last bought them in 1957 and hasn't bothered to update.
"Yours are nice," Sid continues, already fastening the left cufflink. It's a very modern set--white gold with tiny sapphires flowing down the middle like water. Geno's a little surprised Sid went for them. "You don't mind, right?"
Geno definitely doesn't mind Sid wearing his things--he loves it. But, he also thinks Sid will appreciate having a pair of his own and sets about finding a custom jewelry shop in the area.
The jeweler grills him about details on the phone--what material he should use, what size and shape, whether he wants to add stones. Geno wants to cover the surface in diamonds like a championship ring, but he knows Sid wouldn't want that, so he restrains himself to just a few for tasteful accents. Geno does allow himself to add an inscription, though. He starts off with just the number 87 subtly inscribed on each, inset into the design, and then pauses to think.
"Actually, make 71 and 87, one each."
"You got it, boss," the jeweler says, and tells him what kind of timeframe to expect.
When Geno goes to the shop to pick up the cufflinks a week before Christmas, the jeweler leaves him waiting in the lobby a few minutes too long, and he finds himself looking at wedding bands--not longing, just looking. Picking a favorite ring is idle boredom, not wishful thinking. He knows they're not getting married for a long time, if at all. It's not Sid's style.
The braided gold one is very nice, though. Sid would probably prefer the more straightforward band next to it. Maybe they should each pick their own...
Geno jumps guiltily when the jeweler comes back with a small, delicate box and hands it across the counter. "I think the design came out quite well if I may say so."
When Geno opens the little box and peeks at the cufflinks, he feels a rush of pride that he has so nailed this present--Sid is going to love them.
Geno takes the box home, wraps it in plastic, and puts a bulb of garlic in the bag with the cufflinks to ward off any potential prying before Christmas. Then he tucks the bag up on the top shelf of the master closet to wait.
He buzzes for a week until, finally, on Christmas evening, when the sun goes down, he gets to hand Sid his present.
"Oh man, those are cool, eh?" Sid says with a mild smile when he opens the box.
Objectively, Geno knows that Sid just doesn't get overly excited about stuff. Odds are, Sid does actually like the cufflinks, just not enough to get emotional about. He's not like Geno, who teared up at the thoughtfulness when Sid got him fluffy socks to wear in bed because Sid's body made him shiver. There's nothing to panic about, but he just can't help it.
"You don't like?"
"Of course I do, G. The inscriptions especially. Nice touch."
Oh god, he's being polite about it. Geno hates when Sid is polite about things he dislikes--why can't he just say what he means?
"It's okay you don't like--"
“No, I do," Sid insists, laughing at Geno's misery. "I'll wear them to the next game."
"Don't have to, Sid," Geno mumbles, hoping to get out of this conversation. "It's okay."
But Sid does wear them next game, and they win. He keeps wearing them, and Geno thinks he's just doing it because of their streak, which builds off of three home wins and stretches to six on the road before they finally lose in Philly, the worst place to drop a game.
Sid follows Geno to their hotel room and starts taking his cufflinks off while Geno opens the door. Geno figures that's the end of that.
And then, the next game, Sid puts them right back on.
"Streak is over," Geno says to him in the mirror, doing his hair while Sid straightens his collar. He can see the cufflinks gleaming in the light.
"Don't remind me," Sid grumbles. But then he meets Geno's eyes in the mirror and grins. "Let's go start another one, eh?"
That's how Geno figures out Sid isn't wearing the cufflinks as a superstition--he genuinely seems to like them. He wears them the rest of the season, forgoing half of his shirts because they're not French cut and don't allow him to wear his new wardrobe staple.
"You really like, huh?" Geno asks during the second round of the playoffs when things are getting tight and every routine matters. If Sid were going to change back to his old cufflinks or stealing Geno's, now would be the time.
"Of course, G. I love them."
He seems perfectly genuine. Sid is not a good liar, so Geno believes him and starts to preen and brag to anyone who will listen they he got the cufflinks explicitly made for Sid.
"You don't say," Phil drawls. He's still relatively new to the team, but he doesn't seem like it, the way he razzes Geno. "Both of your numbers etched into some garish jewelry? I literally never would have guessed that came from you."
Geno punches his shoulder and Phil bitches about the supposed bruise, and they all move on from there, deeper into the playoffs.
When he thinks about it, Geno figures Sid's muted joyful reaction must be like the fear thing--Sid doesn't get shocked by stuff, so he doesn't have significant responses. No problem, Geno thinks. As long as he knows what to expect, he can work with it.
But not even Sid is immune to the energy when they win the Stanley Cup for the second time in their careers.
Geno is so overwhelmed--screaming and laughing and crying with his teammates--he barely notices Sid doing the same at first. It's only after he starts to extract himself from the sweaty pile on the ice that he catches sight of Sid just in time to get tackled into the boards by him.
"You fucking beauty," Sid cries, even though Geno didn't score at all in game six. "I fucking love you!"
It's a different kind of love on the ice, but it still means the world to Geno. He hugs Sid as tight as he can as long as he can justify before he has to let go and share Sid with their team.
Sid laughs when he lifts the Cup, lets out an exuberant cry, and at that moment, he's just like the rest of them. He's not an old man who's seen everything, he's not an immortal creature-- he's only a hockey player on top of the world.
The party in the locker room is crazy. Sid gets hit with so much champagne when he walks in with the Cup it looks like he stepped in the shower. Geno keeps losing Sid in the crowd, beer in hand as he wanders around looking for Phil. When he succeeds, he bullies in close and kisses his cheek, which makes Phil wipe at his face in mock disgust while obviously biting down on a smile.
"Go give your cooties to someone who wants them."
"You like," Geno teases, though Phil's idea is a good one. He turns to look for Sid but doesn't immediately spot him in a sea of skinny, playoff-worn bodies soaked in champagne.
Geno discovers Sid beaming, leaning in close to Flower for an ecstatic selfie with the Cup. Neither of them notices Geno approaching. Sid is smiling, his eyes so crinkled up and full of joy. Geno tries to remember if Sid was like this the first time they won, way back when. Geno felt so fond of Sid then, but in retrospect, they barely knew each other. Geno wouldn't have understood the significance of Sid's delighted celebration then.
A wave of unpleasant emotion splashes Geno like a bucket of cold water, an unwelcome flood of cognitive dissonance. For months he's been telling himself Sid loves him, that he's happy.
Sid is happy with Geno--just not as joyful as he is holding the Cup.
Geno takes a step back, scolding himself. He's being stupid. It's the Stanley Cup--nothing is better than that. It doesn't mean Sid feels anything less for him. The Cup is the only thing in the room with a chance to last as long as Sid. Of course, it's a big deal--bigger than his relationship, which will inevitably be brief in Sid's eyes because of Geno's limited lifespan.
The moment of insecurity drives Geno out of the room to recover. He'll just go find his parents, huddling outside the locker room where they won't get sprayed, and give his dumb emotions some time to sort themselves out.
Geno's nerves settle when his mother kisses his cheek, and his father hugs him. "You did good, boy."
"Thanks, pop," he says, a swell of pride buoying him back up because, holy crap, they did it. They won. There's no more hockey left to play, no one left to beat. They're the best hockey team in the league, and it didn't even take them seven games to prove it.
He's discussing travel plans with his parents--the families are going to pile onto the first charter and head back to Pittsburgh soon--when a hand touches his back. He turns to see Sid's smiling face.
"Hey, I was wondering where you went."
Geno's heart reads way too much into the fact that--sitting beside the Stanley Cup--Sid looked for him.
"Mind if I borrow you?" Sid asks. "We're getting pictures."
"Sure," Geno says, deflating some that Sid is on official duties and not merely missing him. Geno turns back to his parents. "We'll be right behind you on the next plane. Don't wait up, though."
"Have fun, baby," his mother says, and she squeezes his hand before she turns to follow his father away.
Sid leads Geno back toward the locker room but, weirdly, blows right past it.
"You miss," Geno calls, and Sid turns to shush him and grab his hand. Geno blinks. They're going somewhere secret for pictures? That doesn't seem right. He can hear the rest of the team still making a tremendous amount of noise in the locker room.
Sid pulls him sharply into a random room and shuts the door softly. In the dark, Geno hears him turn a lock.
"I'm leaving the light off," Sid says quietly. "So no one knows we're in here."
Well, that's going to make for a very unclear picture, Geno thinks hysterically as he realizes where this is going. If Sid's whispering and sneaking around didn't do it, the cold hands pulling up the hem of his shirt would clue him in.
"I can't see," Geno whispers.
"It's okay," Sid says, working Geno's champagne-sodden shirt up and over his head. "I can."
Geno drops his own shorts while listening to Sid shuffle around, feeling a little silly standing naked in the dark. He trusts Sid, but he's been around too many pranksters in his career to not feel a pull of unease--worry that the lights are about to come on and reveal twenty people laughing.
Instead, Sid returns to him, naked everywhere Geno puts his hands.
"Geno," Sid whispers. He sounds reverent. His soft hands feel equally worshipful.
"We should hurry," Geno reminds him.
"I'm not worried about it. The plane can't leave without us," Sid says, grinning his way into kissing Geno.
It's been a long day. Hell, it's been a long three months, from April to June, chasing the dream of winning everything. Geno's emotions are all over the place. He sniffs to hold back the threat of tears, but it sounds loud in the room.
"It's okay," Sid soothes him. "We won. We win everything." Sid touches all the way down Geno's ribs to his hip. He doesn't sound like he's talking about winning the Cup.
"Yes," Geno agrees, and he is definitely not talking about the Cup. "We win."
Turns out, Sid really put some thought into finding them a place to hookup. He guides Geno over to a mat on the floor--one of the ones they use for stretching in the gym--lays him down and kisses up his chest to his neck.
"Can," Geno says breathlessly, tipping his chin up to offer. He is all-the-way hard already, and Sid hasn't even touched his dick.
"Not now," Sid says, trailing his lips over Geno's pulse like he wants to. "You're tired. And a little drunk," he chuckles. "I'll wait."
Geno's not that drunk, but he is tired. His body is worn down, exhausted. He doesn't think the loss of blood would do much more harm, but the thoughtfulness warms his heart.
A bottlecap pops open--lube, maybe? Sure enough, Sid pulls Geno's hand up and pours a line of slick down two fingers. "Help me out?"
As if Sid doesn't know how to do it. He does, he just likes to watch--which is totally fine by Geno. He spreads his legs to give Sid a nice view and rubs his fingertips against his own hole, getting everything slick before he pushes a finger in.
Sid's hand grips Geno's knee, pulling it out more to get a better angle. Geno can hear him running a hand lazily over his cock, slicking it up as well while Geno puts on a show only Sid can see.
"Ready?" Sid asks, and even though the answer is actually yes, Geno can't help teasing.
"Think we're not hurry."
Geno smirks and spreads his thighs more, slowly pushing his fingers in. "What? You want?"
"You want most," Geno confirms smugly, and pulls his fingers out.
Sid practically pounces on him, surging between his legs and sinking inside.
Everything sounds extra dirty in the dark, the slick sound of Sid inside of him, the slap of flesh on flesh. Geno's breathing is ragged and heavy in his ears. It seems like the whole building should be able to hear them, even over the shouting and singing in the locker room.
Geno manages to hold out for a while by keeping his hands off himself, clutching instead at Sid's back and shoulders. But then Sid takes one of Geno's hands and guides it down between them, around Geno's cock. Geno fondles himself--he can feel how close he is, knowing if he starts stroking he'll be past the brink.
"Come on," Sid whispers, sounding wrecked, and Geno suddenly realizes he's close, too. No need to hold off. He circles his fingers and rubs up and down slowly once before he starts working to bring himself off. It doesn't take long to succeed.
Sid starts mouthing again at Geno's neck when he comes. Geno cups the back of his head with his free hand, reassuring him it's okay, but Sid doesn't bite him. Instead, he muffles his groan against Geno's skin and goes still.
Sid eases himself free and crawls up Geno's body to settle in beside him, snuggled up against his side.
Geno snorts. "Thank you, Conn Smythe man. This is big surprise for me. Think you're want to stay by Cup."
"We'll have the Cup for days. Family in town. For now, I wanted to celebrate, just you and me."
Sid punctuates his words by nuzzling up against Geno's shoulder and kissing it. He planned this all out, found a room with a mat, brought lube, all because he wanted to sneak away from Stanley Cup celebrations and be with Geno. Maybe Sid doesn't go crazy when Geno gets him things, maybe he's never going to be as expressive in their relationship as he is for hockey, but he chooses Geno, and that says enough. It says it all.
Ope, one day early. Does that still count as setting a deadline and sticking to it? If not, I'll consider this failing up. :)
Thanks for everyone who read the first few chapters while this was a work in progress--that's crazy brave of you. I'm usually pretty leary of unfinished works myself, but your awesomeness at keeping me motivated has changed my mind. I'll be giving more love to WIPs in the future.
More than anything else, Sid insists he never gets lonely.
"You learn to be happy with yourself," Sid says in an interview profiling him as one of the few long-term successful vampires in the league. "People come and go, so you have to be able to just be alone and be okay with that."
Sid says it in the context of his early life. It's not a jab at Geno, preemptively blaming him for leaving via death, but Geno can't help but feel a little pinch of guilt. They have a lot of life left together, sure, but their time playing together is inevitably drawing short. It's hard not to feel like the end is coming.
Sid plays with Geno's hair a lot after they lose Flower. It's getting thin up there, Geno knows. He's not blind or ignorant, but he also doesn't want to deal with it yet. He's not ready to give up his thick mane. Sid doesn't say anything about it--but then, after the Vegas draft, he doesn't say much of anything for a while. Geno doesn't pressure him, lets him keep to himself while he processes things. Sid knows how to lose people-- that's what he says. He's become very good at it.
They retreat to Miami, where the nights are warm and relatively long, and everything is open all the time. Geno has blackout curtains on every window, a choice his decorator still harangues him about every time they speak, so Sid has free reign of the condo there. Geno even has a converted storage space with a reinforced door where Sid can sleep if he needs to. Mostly, Sid just putters around the house when the sun is up.
In August, when Sid still hasn't recovered by meandering down Miami beaches in the moonlight picking up unusual shells, Geno suggests a trip up to Canada. Sid can always be helped by some time on the lake. It's where he's calmest, and Geno desperately wants to give him peace.
In Nova Scotia, Sid still frowns more than he smiles and keeps mostly quiet, but he spends more of his nights inside with Geno.
Geno knows Sid is finally starting to feel more himself when Sid puts on an Expos game one evening while they wait for the last of the sun to set. Relief that Sid is starting to feel better is the only reason he doesn't groan out loud.
Sid catches the look on his face, though, and chuckles. "What's the matter?" he asks teasingly, like he doesn't know.
"How you even know baseball? It's new sport."
"Not that new. Older than me."
Sid sometimes acts like nothing is older than him--he was there at the dawn of everything, watching the planets form out of space dust. This is a rarity, him admitting something predates him.
"The team, though--that's new," Sid concedes. "I remember when the papers announced it--a Canadian baseball team. Who could have imagined that?"
Geno flops over to put his head dramatically in Sid's lap.
"You don't want to hear the story of how I listened to the very first game on the radio? They were playing in the afternoon, or I would have gone down there."
Geno scoots around on the couch until he's on his back, able to level his most skeptical look at Sid. Sid is really smiling now, eyes narrowed and crinkled around the edges, all the wrinkles he'll ever have in his whole life.
"It was a really exciting first inning--"
Oh god, he actually intends to tell the story. Geno surges up and kisses him quiet. From the way Sid pulls at him, maybe it was what he was really going for all along.
Not that Geno needs a reason to keep making out with Sid, but knowing if he stops, he has to watch baseball is a pretty decent motivator. He follows the tug of Sid's hands to straddle his thighs while working on getting Sid's shirt off.
Geno is honestly getting a little old to have sex on a couch. Still, anything is possible with a proper application of will. Maybe he doesn't get them totally undressed, but he uncovers the crucial bits before Sid shows off his ridiculous strength and manhandles Geno onto his back to get between his legs.
The baseball game might as well be white noise when Sid spits in his palm and gets a hand on Geno. He's chilly, as always, but Geno is used to it. He might even be developing a fetish after so many years--his dick is into the cold now.
"G-- Let's go upstairs."
"No," Geno moans, trying to pull him close.
"Yeah, c'mon," Sid pries, but his hand is still on Geno's dick. It's not exactly motivating him to move until Sid says, "There's lube up there. Let's go."
They've barely done more than handjobs since Sid came back from Vegas and joined Geno in Miami. Whatever Sid's got in mind has Geno scrambling to get up, shedding the rest of his clothes as he goes.
Geno's knees protest the stairs, creaking and popping. Sid touches Geno's back sympathetically, and Geno waves him off. "It's nothing." Just a lifetime of playing hockey catching up with him in his joints--normal for a human.
Sid treats him with kid gloves after that--no more manhandling. Geno isn't inclined to complain about it, though, not when Sid decides to throw a leg over him and ride him slowly, gasping and groaning in the quiet, dark room.
If Sid doesn't speak in the afterglow, Geno isn't overly worried about it. Sid always wants to rest with him afterward, basking in the intimacy as it fades from arousal to satisfaction to total relaxation. He doesn't always want to talk. This time feels a bit heavy, though, like Sid has something on his mind when he sprawls onto his front next to Geno looking contemplative.
Sid picks up Geno's hand and runs his fingers over Geno's, then traces the veins in Geno's wrist with his lips like he's mapping them. Geno thinks he might bite down--it wouldn't be the first time he's done it like this. The sharp pain doesn't come, though, and Sid doesn't look up at Geno's face when he says softly, "Do you want me to turn you?"
Geno's heart skips. He didn't realize it was an option, that it was something Sid was thinking about, but the way Sid says it, quick and breathless--like he's been holding it in for a long time.
"I know it's not..." Sid starts and trails off, closing his eyes like he's preparing for a significant loss. "It's not an easy life. You can't go in the sun. I think, for you, that would be...maybe too much. No more trips to Miami. No more fishing."
Geno goes fishing once a year. He lives with Sid every day. He's reordered his summer schedule to sleep most of the day and put blackout shades on every window in his houses so Sid can stay with him no matter where he goes. Between Sid and sunshine, Geno has already made his choice.
"I always kind of imagined you--I don't know. Retiring in some sunny place. Getting a gut from all the beer you drink with your friends." Sid grins, but it's a sorrowful expression. "Maybe that's better. Natural."
Geno touches Sid's cheek to get him to look up. "I don't want get fat in Miami, Sid. I want to stay with you. Always."
Sid swallows hard and looks a little scared. "It's a big decision. You don't have to make it right away."
"I want to. I want to be with you."
Sid presses his cheek into Geno's palm. "Geno," he says, low and tight.
"It's okay. Is really good for Penguins, huh? I don't get old with you. We both play long time."
"The two-headed literal monster," Sid huffs, but he sounds like he might be close to crying.
Geno pulls him up into his arms and lets Sid sniff into his neck, artfully pretending he doesn't notice Sid's tears on his skin.
"I'm sorry," Sid whispers. "I shouldn't want to do this to you, but--"
"Shh. It's okay. It's so lucky. We be together for long time."
"Yeah. God, G. Are you sure?"
"I'm so sure. Do it quick, before I lose all hair."
Sid snorts and pulls back to look at Geno. He looks so pleased. "You'd be sexy bald, come on."
"Sexy now, with hair," Geno grouses. "Now come. Bite me."
"Not today," Sid says tenderly. "Go say goodbye to the sun first. Be sure."
Geno is very sure, but he takes the gift. He spends a week outside, enjoying the warmth of the sun on his face. He gets a sunburn for the last time. He plays in the water of the lake by Sid's house.
On the evening of the seventh day, Geno orders sushi and eats it for the last time. He drinks half a bottle of wine and pours the rest down the sink because soon, neither of them will be affected by alcohol. When Sid emerges at sunset, Geno knows he's ready.
Sid's fangs are hollow. His venom sits in the back of his mouth, where he can press on the sacks with his tongue and fill his victim's veins. He's never done it before, never changed anyone. It takes him a few tries to get the venom flowing before it drips off his fangs.
The venom burns when Sid bites down, and Geno jerks in surprise. It's different from Sid's normal bite, which is just a quick pinch.
"Sorry," Sid says, and he bites again over Geno's shoulder. The more venom he injects, the faster the process will go.
The burning spreads as Geno's blood pumps through his body, and he squirms, gasping shallow breaths while trying to get away from the sensation of fire.
Geno spends a full day sweating and dying and being born anew in Sid's bed. When the fever breaks and the pain ends, Geno expects to feel normal--he doesn't. He feels incredible.
"Easy," Sid says, setting aside the cool rag he was using to press over Geno's forehead. He's been by Geno's side the whole time, his voice murmuring through the fever dreams, soothing him. He's perched on the edge of the bed, helping Geno sit up as if he needs any help. Geno feels like he could do sit-ups for hours.
The bedroom looks bright, like every window is open on a clear day, but it's the middle of the night. Geno can see the grain of the wood on the doorframe from across the room. "Wow."
Sid touches his thigh. For the first time, his hand doesn't feel cold. Geno narrows his focus on Sid's worried expression. "You okay?" Sid asks cautiously.
Okay doesn't even begin to describe it. Every ache in his joints, every old wound is gone. He feels like a teenager all over again. Instead of answering, he grabs for Sid and pulls him down on top of him as he falls back. He can tell Sid feels relieved as he meets Geno's mouth with his own. Everything is okay.
Sid seems perfectly happy to just make out for a while, grinning against Geno's lips like he can't control how pleased he is. When he pulls back, he doesn't go far, propping up over Geno to smile down at him. Sid trails his thumb down Geno's cheek until he reaches his upper lip, then pushes it up.
"You're hungry," Sid says fondly, and Geno realizes he is at the same time he wonders how Sid knew. It hits him--his fangs. They must have dropped. He snaps a hand up to feel, and sure enough, there's a sharp point hanging down where his blunt, human canine once sat. Sid pushes off and stands up, then reaches down for him. "Come on. I'll get you something."
A thrill runs through Geno as he realizes Sid means he's going to get Geno blood. He accepts Sid's hand and follows him out, down the hall. His knees don't protest the stairs at all this time.
Geno stops at the back door to look out over the lake. He can see a raccoon fishing by the shore, easy as if he had binoculars in plain daylight. He catches the movement of a bat in the yard and watches it fly, wings flapping as if in slow motion. Sid chuckles at his awestruck expression, drops his hand after a parting squeeze, and continues on to the kitchen.
"Here," Sid says when he returns, handing Geno a glass of warm blood. "Drink this. You'll feel better."
Geno has no words to describe how great he feels, so he just thanks Sid and takes a sip. It's sweet and thick, almost like hot chocolate. He has to control himself not to gulp it down.
Sid watches Geno sip from the glass as he moves around touching things in the living room, amazed by the detail of the textures under his heightened senses. "You're taking to this really well, eh?"
"Sure, it's fun. Like, I can see everything. Not even need glasses now. Everything is so--" Geno runs out of adequate words again and beams back at Sid with a helpless shrug. "It's great."
"Good. I'm glad. I wasn't sure, since--my change wasn't so easy. I was worried."
"What happen with you?"
"Well. I didn't know any vampires. I didn’t know what a vampire was. I just thought I was really sick at first. The sun hurt my skin--I didn't understand why. Then I started thinking about drinking blood, sucking down rats in alleyways. I thought I was just, you know--crazy." Sid looks far away for a beat, then shrugs. "It was a different time. I'm glad things aren't that way for you."
Geno's eyes fall down to look at the glass in his hand, full of pig's blood and expertly warmed to precisely the right temperature. He imagines Sid, terrified and alone, sinking his teeth into sewer rats. It turns his stomach.
"Hey, no. Don't be upset," Sid says, coming to soothe him. "It was a long time ago. God, over a hundred years. I barely remember."
Geno folds into his embrace and hooks his chin over Sid's shoulder. Sid rubs his hands over Geno's back.
"It's okay," he tries again. "Really, I'm fine. I'm here now. I'm so lucky. Every bad thing that happened back then, it brought me here. To the Penguins--where I met you. You make me so happy. I never thought I might have someone like that. Someone for the rest of my life."
"I'm here for always. With you," Geno says, and he means it with every fiber of him. "Forever."
"See?" Sid says, nuzzling into Geno's neck. Geno can feel his smile. "Worth it."
Geno wholeheartedly agrees.