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The Heroes Pittsburgh Deserves

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It had become a running joke in the locker room. If there was trouble a Penguin would be there to save the day. They were constantly downplaying it to the press, but the fervor would just ramp back up when the next heroic act was witnessed. 

 

The first time was at a Pirates game. A foul ball had come sailing into the crowd and an unsuspecting teenager was snapping a series of selfies directly in its path. The crowd held its breath as one, waiting for the collision that never came. Flower, with Estelle on one hip and a stuffed animal in his hand, mindlessly reached out with his free hand and snatched the ball out of the air. The expression on his face remained unchanged as he held the ball out of the teenager, who snapped a picture of him in awe before taking it. 

 

The crowd gasped and when the Jumbotron projected him and Estelle for the stadium to see there was pandemonium, the cheers louder than when the Pirates batted in loaded bases. It was front page news and was pasted on the wall of the locker room, Flower's disinterested face-- backwards baseball cap and all-- immortalized for all time. 

 

Then it was Sunshine's turn. On his morning run there was a little old lady in her front yard distraught that her darling cat had gone up a tree. A small crowd had formed and multiple people were trying to get close enough to the cat to grab it with very little luck. The cat was scared, yowling at the top of its lungs. Beau trotted over to the tree, paused the music blasting in his ears, and looked up. "Hey kitty, what got you so spooked?" 

 

The old woman was inconsolable, shaking a bag of cat treats over her head. Beau crossed his arms, trying to figure out the best way to scale the tree to get to the cat before the woman gave herself a heart attack. The rest of the onlookers had taken a step back, curious to see what would happen. What happened was the cat gave a final yelp and jumped down directly into Beau's arms, puffed up but otherwise unharmed. "Huh," Beau said with a little grin, scratching under the cat's chin before passing it over to the old woman, who couldn't thank him enough. Beau shrugged, made sure he wasn't cat scratched, and went about the rest of his run. 

 

Videos of the incident went viral. Intrepid reporters dug up picture after picture of Sunshine with animals, dubbing him 'The Wildlife Whisperer'. A picture of him cradling the cat made the rounds on Twitter and was soon added to the 'Hall of Heroes', as it was soon dubbed. Teammates followed him around for weeks after meowing, but it wasn't really anything big at the end of the day. 

 

The incident with Tanger made national headlines. They showed the security footage captured at the airport, along with an interview with the tearful mother and a rather bewildered clip of Tanger shrugging and saying, "I don't know, it was instinct." He had been waiting in line at the airport to check in for his flight. There was a woman in front of him with a large cart laden down with bags and a child hanging from the handle, swinging his legs and enjoying himself. Tanger hadn't really even been paying attention: the footage clearly showed him on his phone. They played the footage in slow motion as frequently as they had in real time, because everything happened so fast. The mother was busy checking in for the flight and not paying attention to the child, who was hanging from the handle fully. The cart began to slowly tip over and Tanger surged forward, sweeping the child up into his arms and righting the cart in one smooth motion, his phone still pinched between his ear and his shoulder. The mother was seen picking the child up and holding it close, and the footage stopped. 

 

Tanger was furious he had to turn down a spot as a guest on Ellen because of a game, but was terribly smug when a grainy screenshot of him holding the kid in one arm and the cart in the other was slapped onto the Hall of Heroes. 

 

Rusty single-handedly pushed a family of four's minivan out of a ditch when they hit an ice patch and lost control. Dumo managed to fix a fan's busted radiator with just the random stuff he had in his trunk, although he did tell then that they needed to get it to a real repair shop as quickly as possible. Horny clotheslined two teenage boys who had snatched a woman's purse and returned it with a smile the woman described as 'disarmingly handsome'. Through a series of comedic misadventures, Reeser and Jake somehow managed to accidentally thwart a robbery at a gas station just outside of Columbus when they were trying to buy beer. 

 

Everyone in the league hated the Penguins. They were relentless showoffs, winning over the nation with good deeds and lucky coincidences and straight up ass kissing. 

 

They donated money to charities, kissed babies, and won hockey games. Their Hall of Heroes was growing and growing, but one Penguin worked a little more covertly. His methods were more sly, more cunning, and effective 100% of the time. 

 

Evgeni Malkin wasn't flashy, but he was successful. 

 

Being Russian had its perks. 

 

_/\_

 

The first time it happened was at a club in Miami. He'd been drinking a bit too much and dancing a bit too much. He retreated to the bar to cool down and get another drink when he spotted a woman sitting at the bar, trying her best to move as far away from the man sitting next to her as possible. He kept moving closer and closer to her, twisting a lock of her curly blonde hair around his finger as he talked. She was shaking her head, pulling her drink farther away from him as he tried to wave down the bartender. 

 

The girl was clearly not interested. Geno couldn't hear what they were saying but even he could tell she wasn't interested. Someone outside of the club could probably tell the same. The man didn't seem to care all that much, and he slipped an arm around the girl's waist, pulling her into his side. 

 

Geno had seen enough. He slicked his sweat-wet hair back off of his forehead and squared his shoulders, marching over to the pair of them. "Girl not interested," he said gruffly, taking a fistful of the man's Tommy Bahama shirt-- gross-- and pulling him back away from her. "If you want keep being alive you leave." 

 

"Yeah, who the fuck are you?" the guy asked with a smarmy little smile that started to fade away as he looked up into Geno's face. The color drained from his face and his eyes widened a bit. 

 

Geno's jaw was set and he narrowed his eyes. "Am Boris," he growled. "Know many dangerous people, three of them watching you right now. Girl not interested, now go or I'm make." 

 

The man scurried away, and the girl's tension visibly relaxed a bit. Geno nodded once, sharply, and walked away. 

 

Thus, Boris was born. 

 

_/\_

 

 

Boris made frequent appearances. He served as a wedding date for three different women who worked in the front office who wanted to either make someone jealous or frighten someone a bit. A shiny purple suit and slicked back hair always seemed to be enough to convince people he wasn't Evgeni Malkin, just an incredibly grumpy Russian who looked similar. Every foray into the role added a new layer to the lore. 

 

Boris was from Moscow. He had many women spread all over the world and he kept all of them more than satisfied. He was always surrounded by dangerous men who would have a situation diffused before he even had to lift a finger. He was particularly protective of women and children and had no qualms calling out someone for their ignorance, whether it be in overtly threatening Russian or more vague English. Boris had nothing to fear, he was to be feared. 

 

Boris made the occasional appearance on the ice. Geno had tipped a puck over the glass for a little boy wearing his jersey and it was snatched away by a middle aged man who looked entirely too smug about it. The crowd around the exchange booed loudly but Geno saw red, squaring his shoulders and pounding on the glass three times as hard as he could. The boards rattled and the crowd roared as he pointed from the man to the puck to the little boy with a sharp thrust of his gloved hand. 

 

The man blanched and leaned over to give the puck to the little boy, who bounced on his heels with glee and held it over his head. The crowd cheered, the little boy cheered, and the man clapped, shame-faced. 

 

Boris was satisfied, and Geno returned to warm-ups. 

 

 

_/\_ 

 

 

"I have a job for Boris," Flower said as they made their way down the street towards a coffee shop that Flower and Tanger never seemed to shut up about. Geno tried to argue that he wasn't the biggest coffee fan, but Flower had affected a truly horrendous Russian accent and said "Boris drink coffee black, put hair on chest." 

 

Right. He might have said that once in passing. Leave it to Flower to save it for revenge purposes. "What is job?" Geno asked, noting that his voice had already dropped an octave in preparation for said job. He opened the door to the coffee shop, holding it for Flower and the pair of women who followed before entering himself.

 

Flower grinned as he joined the line, rocking back on his heels as he dug his hands deep into his pockets. He looked smug and filled with secrets, as per usual. "I'll tell you after we've ordered."

 

Geno sighed but nodded, checking his watch. The cashier had stepped away to answer the phone while the barista worked quickly to assemble the drinks.

 

The cashier, a sturdy-looking man with expressive hazel eyes and a plush mouth, turned a frankly alarming shade of red and slammed the phone receiver down, scurrying back to the register and apologizing far more than any American ever would. He quickly rang in three more orders before the phone rang again. The cashier sighed deeply, his eyes drifting closed for a moment before he went over to answer it. He didn't even have the standard greeting out before his face turned bright red and he fell silent. He stuttered out "S- sir, if you don't want to order anything you are going to have to stop calling here. No... no, I don't, this is harassment and..." he was silent again for a moment before he hung up the phone in frustration. When he returned to the line, which was growing understandably frustrated, he apologized again. "Sorry... this one guy just bombards the phones when I'm on shift and he's just... well, anyway. What can I get started for you guys?" 

 

"This happen lots?" Geno asked Flower under his breathe, watching the man work furiously until the phone began ringing again. 

 

"Yep," Flower replied, the 'p' at the end of the word popping loudly. 

 

Geno grumbled under his breath and stepped out of line, crossing over to the phone and snatching it up before the cashier had a chance to. There were only a few words that Geno didn't recognize in the barrage of filth that followed. He desperately wished that he didn't recognize more of them. "...Want to lick and bite that juicy ass... you know you want it too, I'd make it so good for you, you'd beg me not to stop..." 

 

Geno took a deep breath and made eye contact with the cashier, who looked a mixture of terrified and shamefaced. "Boris does not beg," Geno growled. "Boris make you beg for mercy when he hunt you down, break every bone for harassing employee. I find where you live, destroy everything. Call here one more time, wish you never call the first time. Police find no trace of you when months from now someone finally notice your pathetic asshole face been missing. Пойми меня, грязное животное?"



Geno heard an audible gasp on the other end of the line before the drone of the dial tone. He smirked and put the phone back on the receiver. The entire coffee shop broke out in a round of applause.



"Sorry for language," Geno said as he returned to his place in line with Flower, forcing himself to relax.



"That was your best work yet!" Flower crowed as he clapped him on the back. "Merde, you probably made that guy piss himself. Oscar-worthy performance, seriously."



Geno chuckled as he glanced up at the cashier, who was flushed pink and having a hard time containing his smile. He was glancing up at Geno on occasion between taking orders, and his smile would grow just a little brighter each time.



When they made it to the counter the cashier had already pulled out a cup and was drawing a flower on it. "Usual for you, Marc?"



"Sid, you are a saint and a worker of miracles," Flower gushed as he pulled out his wallet. "The usual and whatever this one wants." He nudged Geno's side.



"Oh no, his drink is on the house," Sid replied with a shake of his head as he pulled out the largest cup. "Boris, right?" he asked as he began writing on the cup.



"Oh! No, no," Geno said, wrinkling his nose a bit and pointing at the phone. "That, who talk to pervert, he is Boris." He then laid a hand on his chest, fingers spread wide. "I am Geno. And just want tea-- Russian Caravan."



Sid looked delightfully confused but rang in the orders. "It's a long and fascinating story that I am sure Geno would be more than happy to tell you when you go on break in... what, five minutes?" Flower asked, miming checking his watch. He wasn't even wearing a watch, the bastard. He paid for his drink, stuffed a few bills into the tip jar and stepped aside to wait for his drink.



"You'll still be here in five minutes; you aren't in a rush?" Sid asked Geno, his hazel eyes wide.



"No rush," Geno confirmed before Flower reached out to tug him out of the way so the next people in line could order.



Sid nodded, smirking. "Alright. I like long, fascinating stories," he finished, taking the orders of the handful of people in line without interruption.



"Drinks for Flower and Boris?" the barista called as two cups were plopped down on the counter. Flower snatched up his cup and looked again at his naked wrist.



"Ah, I am running late! Time flies," he said as he inched away from Geno. "You stay! Talk to Sid, compliment the drink, tell him about Boris!"



"You don't even have watch," Geno groused as he followed Flower the few steps he had retreated. "And you never even tell me about job."



To his credit, Flower was fast and slippery and looked far too pleased with himself as he nodded towards Sid. "That was the job you incredible Russian bear. Now enjoy the spoils of war! Wait for your tea to cool a bit before you drink! Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"



"You're worst at give advice," Geno muttered as he went over to add cream and a bit of sugar to his tea. These coffee shops never had jam, and it really was a shame.



He settled down in an armchair in the back corner of the coffee shop, blowing the steam away from his drink. He had just taken a tentative sip when a small plate containing a large muffin landed in his lap and Sid settled down in the seat across from him, a cheese danish hanging out of his mouth and a mug of coffee in his hand.



The tea was still far too hot and he set it aside as the liquid scorched down his throat. Sid chuckled as he balanced his danish on the lip of his mug. He chewed and swallowed his bite before asking, "You okay?"



Geno nodded, smiling sheepishly. "Flower, he warns, but I'm not listen. I deserve."



Sid smiled. "Thanks for that, what you did before with that guy. He's been calling more and more and he's just... disgusting. I don't even know who the asshole is, but he knows when I work and only calls then."



"Probably Flyers fan," Geno said darkly, and Sid honked out a laugh that sounded suspiciously like a dying donkey. Or a particularly angry goose.

 

Sid reached for the danish. "Well, all I know is that my boss thought I was making it up," he said before taking another big bite of the pastry. He was eating it like he thought that if he didn't do it quickly enough it would run away from him. 

 

Geno had started to peel the paper off of his muffin but stopped when he heard that Sid's boss had not been taking his complaints seriously. "You want, Boris talk to boss too. Tell him he need to make sure employee are safe, or I give them better job, lose everyone." 

 

"What kind of business does Boris deal in?" Sid asked as he took a sip of his coffee. "Boris is like a character you came up with, right? Big scary intimidating Russian who no one fucks with?" 

 

Geno nodded sheepishly for a moment before squaring his shoulders again. "Boris does lots of business. Best at business, make lots of money for lots of people. But most for Boris." 

 

Sid laughed again, covering his mouth with his hand to keep from spewing out his coffee. Once he had swallowed, he said,"Well, I for one am very thankful for Boris. I owe him a bit thank you. Not sure how I can repay that." 

 

"Already do, give tea and muffin," Geno said before taking a bite of the muffin. He let out a pleased hum as he chewed, then swallowed. "But Geno? He a little hard to repay." 

 

Sid raised his eyebrows before popping the rest of his danish in his mouth, fishing something out of the front pocket of his apron. He smoothed a napkin out over his knee and wrote something down on it before sliding it across the coffee table towards Geno. "Well, when you think of something, I can do give me a call, alright? I should get back to work. Give Boris my regards." 

 

With that, Sid went back to his station at the counter, doing his best to avoid looking at Geno as he finished his tea and muffin, the phone number tucked snugly in his pocket against his phone.

 

He tried to leave his phone in his pocket. 

 

He didn't leave his phone in his pocket. 

 

_/\_ 

 

 

Their first date Geno walked Sid to his door, stopping on the bottom step of the stoop as Sid dug his his keys out of his pocket. "Do you want to come up? I... ah. I bought some tea. Russian Caravan." 

 

"Gentleman don't come inside after first date," Geno said with a smile. "Gentleman walk home, maybe little kiss, promise for second date." 

 

Sid opened the door with a smile and a shake of his head. "What about Boris, does he want to come in?" 

 

"Boris and me, we both gentlemen," Geno said, taking a step closer to Sid, tilting his face upwards. "But we both want kiss." 

 

Sid's smile softened and he nodded, resting his hand on Geno's cheek as he leaned in for a kiss, soft and full of longing. 

 

When Geno pulled away Sid followed with a soft sound of protest. "When can I see you again?" Sid asked, reaching for Geno's hand. 

 

Geno shrugged. "Well, a little busy. On roadie next week but then back. But I can ask Boris if he have a little time." 

 

"Goodness, how am I going to manage to juggle more than one guy? I have a hard time with just one," Sid said with a little laugh. "You'll let me know?" 

 

Geno nodded, lifting Sid's hand to press a kiss to his knuckles. "I let you know when is good time. Good night, Sid." 

 

Sid drew in a breath and held it for a moment before nodding. "Yeah... yeah. Good night, Geno."

 

As soon as Sid disappeared into his apartment Geno texted him.

 

What you doing tomorrow night? EM

 

His phone buzzed a couple of times against his thigh as he drove home.

 

_/\_

 

It didn't take long for Sid to be pulled into the plot. Really, they both should have known. 

 

Geno had managed to carve a little time out of his day to go visit Sid on his lunch break, and they were enjoying the brief glimpses of sunshine through the clouds. He had a dopey smile on his face as Sid's thigh pressed against his on the park bench, and he reached over to snatch a potato chip out of the small bag propped up in Sid's lap. He munched on it happily as Sid sighed, shaking his head. 

 

"If you wanted chips you should have got chips, I told you that," Sid said as he snapped up the can of Diet Coke clenched between Geno's knees, taking a long, purposeful drink before holding it out to him with a smirk. 

 

Geno sputtered out a laugh as he took the can back. "You want soda you should get, not steal from innocent man!" 

 

Sid shook his head. "You are far from an innocent man," he said as he finished off his sandwich, crumbling up the paper wrapping into a ball and lobbing it over towards the trash bin that was positioned on Geno's end of the park bench. It sank into the bin with ease and Sid wiped his mouth with a napkin, which soon joined the wrapper in the bin. 

 

"You very good shot," Geno said with an impressed nod as he tried to sneak another chip from the bag that now sat between them. "You play basketball?" 

 

"Nah, I just have good hand eye coordination," Sid said with a shrug. "I can get something anywhere I want it to go, you know? Good at darts and baskets and horseshoes and skeeball... all that useless party trick stuff." 

 

Geno scoffed. "Not useless, you win me big stuff bear if we go to carnival!" Geno polished off his own sandwich and tried to tip it into the bin, but it bounced off the rim and fell to the ground. He leaned over to pick it up with a huff. "You every try shoot pucks before? You make everyone on team very jealous if you most accurate." 

 

Sid shrugged, taking the balled up wrapper from Geno and tossing it easily into the bin. "Of course. What sort of Canadian would I be if I hadn't? But I'm not really sure it's fair of me to go blast some pucks into the net without resistance. That's not impressive." 

 

"Oh, we get resistance, we get Flower do his best to stop," Geno said with a smile, draining the rest of his soda and passing the empty can over to Sid eagerly. "Show me again. Close eyes this time." 

 

Sid sighed but did as requested. 

 

Geno clapped and Sid cracked open an eye. "Very impress! Sid, have best plan. You going to like, I know." 

 

Sid laughed and checked his watch. "Your plans tend to be pretty interesting; I'm not going to lie. You want to walk me back to work?" 

 

Geno nodded. "Yes, of course. But plan is this. We have optional skate, I'm talk to a few guys to stay behind, we see what trick shot you can do. Everyone be impress, wonder why Penguins don't have Sid on team, think they make big big mistake." 

 

"I never even tried to be on the team," Sid argued as he picked up the now-empty chip bag and tossed it as well, not even looking over his shoulder as he did so. "And recruiters don't tend to go from coffee shop to coffee shop asking people if they'd like to play for the NHL." 

 

"I'm discover legend, best ever athlete," Geno said, slinging his arm over Sid's shoulder. "You see. You get offer on the spot. They say 'Oh thank you Geno, you win us four Cups in row with this!" 

 

Sid groaned, slapping a hand to his forehead. "No, come on, you're... severely overestimating my abilities here." 

 

Geno arched a brow. 

 

_/\_ 

 

Turns out, Geno wasn't severely overestimating his abilities. 

 

They tried everything. After the fifth goal got through him Flower hurled his gloves across the ice in frustration, let out a colorful string of curses in French, and skated to the boards. He didn't want to be in the crease, but even he was fascinated with Sid's accuracy. 

 

His stick handling was a little awkward, sure, and he wasn't really secure in his skates, but all of that would come back the more time he spent on the ice. He made shots spinning, blindfolded, and in every zone of the net that Geno called out. He made a shot from behind the goal, behind the opposing goal, and from the bench. Backwards. Left-handed, blindfolded off a pass first from Geno on the left, then from Tanger from the right just to make sure it wasn't a fluke. 

 

He missed once. One time, and that was because Geno had managed to successfully distract him by lifting up his shirt to wipe the sweat from his brow. He counted that unequivocally as a win. 

 

"We can use this," Tanger said, pointing at Sid. "Sid, why didn't you tell us that you could play like this?" 

"There's no point," Sid said, shaking his head a bit. "I mean, it's a cool trick but..." 

 

Tanger held up a hand, skating over to Flower and leaning in close. There was a fast and quiet conversation in French where they frequently glanced towards Sid and Geno. After what seemed like ages, they both nodded, bumping gloves and turning towards them. "We're going to take care of it. Not to worry." 

 

"I wasn't worried until you just told me not to worry," Sid said with a hesitant laugh. 

 

"They say not to worry, you worry most," Geno agreed. wrapping an arm around Sid's waist. "Don't worry, I'm protect." 

 

Sid looked over at him, his gaze soft. "I know you will. You're good at that." 

 

Geno preened a bit and there was a loud retch from Tanger's direction. Sid rolled his eyes, fished a nickel from his pocket, and hurled it in Tanger's direction with barely a glance, beaming him right between the eyes. Tanger stumbled backward and cursed loudly in a mixture of French and English and Flower tumbled to the ice because he was laughing so hard. 

 

Sid beamed, skating toward the boards as he pumped a fist in the air. 

 

_/\_ 

 

"What do you think they meant when they said they were 'going to take care of it?' Like... how worried should I be?" Sid asked as he put his toothbrush in the cup on the rim of Geno's sink. He couldn't help his pleased little smile when he saw their toothbrushes next to one another. 

 

Geno rubbed his towel over his hair vigorously before hanging it up to dry. "Not sure, could be lots of things. Think they maybe try to find you better job. Coffee is good, but if you work for team, you around lots more, have little more money." 

 

Sid nodded hesitantly. "Well, I mean. Just because I've got good aim doesn't mean I'm right to work for the Pens, G. I don't have any qualifications for that." 

 

"Have plenty of qualifications! Have me, Flower and Tanger say 'He is good, give him job!' All you need," Geno said before wrapping his arms around Sid's middle, pressing kisses along his shoulder. "Don't worry about French Canadians, Sid. They plot all the time, hardly cause much trouble. I help you forget, okay? I think you like." 

 

Sid sighed and let the tension drop from his shoulders, his head lolling back against Geno's shoulder as he closed his eyes. "And how are you going to do that?" he asked. 

 

"Well..." Geno said with a sly smile against Sid's skin. "Know you like when I'm forget English a little, use more Russian," he began, slowly walking Sid back towards the bedroom. "Know you like when Boris take over sometime, very strong and very sure what you want and what he want. So think combination of me and Boris help you forget." 

 

Geno knew he had won when he felt Sid's entire body shiver. "Y... yeah. Okay..." Sid stammered and Geno turned him around in his arms, kissing the taste of toothpaste out of Sid's mouth. 

 

"Я должен убедиться, что ты чувствуешь всю мою любовь, Сидни. Вы заслуживаете всего, что я должен дать," Geno said in a low rumble against Sid's lips before sweeping him up into his arms, laying him out on his huge, soft bed. Sid luxuriated in the sound of his voice and the slip of the sheets while Geno luxuriated in Sid.



_/\_



"Add another one to the wall, Schultzy got Estelle to go to sleep without having to torture any of us with his horrible singing," Flower said with a grin as Schultz came down the stairs empty-handed. 

 

"What can I say, babies get me," he said with a shrug, grabbing another beer before flopping back down in front of the television and stretching out his legs. "And I'm not really sure that counts as heroic." 

 

Vero shook her head as she took another Tupperware from Sid, who was helping her put away the meagre number of leftovers from dinner. "Oh no, that was heroic. Estelle gets so wound up when we have guests it's almost impossible to get her to sleep." 

 

Cath looked up from where she was refilling her glass of wine. "Justin, we need you to be able to come console Alex. I'll have my people call your people." She then turned to Tanger with a wide smile. "Kris, dear, call him." 

 

Laughter ensued and Geno lifted his head from the floor where he was spread out. "Think we need to make like plague," he suggested, starting to tick off things with his fingers. "Tanger rescues babies, Schultzy puts them to sleep. Flower reflexes like cat, Beau rescues cat! Make like... hang with other awards we get. Best team has best people, take care of everyone." 

 

"The heroes Pittsburgh deserves," Cully said, lifting his bottle of beer. He was not at all bitter that his time hadn't come. He was also a very bad liar. 

 

"And now we've got, like... Hawkeye," Tanger said, motioning to Sid. "He never misses." 

 

"Not on the team," Sid said as he walked over to where Geno was sitting, handing him another beer. It was becoming more and more common that Geno's teammates just forgot he wasn't one of them, which was both flattering and frustrating. 

 

"Team-in-law," Schultz said with a shrug. "It counts."

 

"Also not married," Geno said, grinding his beer bottle into Schultzy's foot.

 

There was rapidfire exchange of looks and Geno groaned, throwing himself back down onto the floor. "Come on, we know that Boris isn't the marrying type but Geno totally is," Flower said in a sing-song tone. "And Sid's great. Oh, hey, that reminds me. We've got a proposition, Sid."

 

"Sorry, I don't want to marry you," Sid said with a smile, even if his cheeks were flushed. "Plus I'm pretty sure it's illegal to be married to more than one person. But you're a great guy, Marc."

 

Flower rolled his eyes. "Not that kind of proposal. We got you an interview with the coaching staff."

 

Sid frowned a bit. "What? Why?"

 

Tanger cleared his throat and leaned forward. "Listen, you've got great hand eye coordination. Like... superhuman level. And yeah, we're not going to be able to replicate that, but you can help the team get better. I've heard you talk about the stuff you used to do all the time to work on it, and I think you'd have some really good insight and could be an asset to the organization."

 

Sid wilted a bit but tried his best to keep a smile on his face. "Oh, well... that's. That's really nice of you guys but I don't have any experience doing that kind of thing. I work at a coffee shop. Unless you guys need your own personal barista I'm probably out of my league."

 

Geno perked up a bit. "Actually no. You go to college for sports, want to be trainer or physical therapy. Learn all sorts of things when you do! Just because you do coffee now doesn't mean you're not qualified."

 

Sid opened his mouth to argue but then slowly closed it as he considered what Geno had said. "You can say no, Sid," Vero added gently as she settled down on the arm of Flower's chair. "They just... they wanted to help. They worked pretty hard at helping."

 

Sid nodded, leaning into Geno's side.

 

The conversation shifted away, but Sid stayed quiet.

 

_/\_

 

Sid interviewed.

 

Sid got the job.

 

Sid quickly became most people's most hated member of the coaching staff because when they say him they knew he expected perfection and repetition. They complained loudly as long as Geno, Flower and Tanger were out of earshot.

 

But they got better.

 

When they won the Cup a picture of Sid joined the wall, high up and in the center. Sid complained about the picture, which was one that Geno had snapped of him when he was drenched in champagne and looking crazed with happiness.

 

Secretly, he liked the picture.

 

His favorite from that night was the one of Geno holding the Cup over his head and leaning forward to kiss Sid on the ice, their bodies close because the press of the Pens around them.

 

The headline the next day read 'SUPER MARIO'S PENG- WINS'. They were repeatedly compared to The Avengers and the Justice League and the X-Men and pretty much every remarkable group of superheros.

 

Everyone hated the Penguins.

 

Everyone but Pittsburgh. They were Pittsburgh's heroes.