Summary: Sid's fast, faster than he's ever been before. He's finally, finally at one hundred percent again. He's at what should be the prime of his career. And there's no hockey.
Notes: For dine, who asked for "something with Sid."
Story on AO3
Sid's fast, faster than he's ever been before. He's finally, finally at one hundred percent again. He's at what should be the prime of his career. And there's no hockey.
Oh, there's some hockey. There's Europe and charity games. There's practice with everyone who stuck around and pickup games he can sneak into.
But there isn't his hockey. There isn't NHL hockey. There isn't Penguins hockey.
Sid keeps getting faster, since that was his goal for the summer and he doesn't think he's quite topped out at the limits of what his body can do. He runs practices, which gives him a good grounding in strategy. He shoots puck after puck after puck into an empty net on the rink alone. It wasn't a goal, but his shot is getting harder.
Sid goes home for Christmas, and as much as he would rather be playing hockey, he's not upset about the chance to spend the holiday with his family.
Christmas means all his friends are in town, everyone he knows from way back when who plays hockey, and everyone Taylor grew up with. They play pond hockey, Sid in one goal and Taylor in the other, and Sid doesn't begrudge her the win, not much.
They stay out there, everyone else shaking their heads and laughing about the Crosbys and their inability to get off the ice as they go home to get warm. Sid and Taylor take off the bulkiest of the pads and just skate, racing, doing loops together, chasing each other across the pond, until even they're so cold they have to load up into Sid's truck and gradually inch the heat up.
Sid buys her hot chocolate and they sit across from each other at a small table. No one bothers them, and Taylor gives Sid a lot of advice on how to be a better goalie.
Sid goes back to Pittsburgh after Christmas, after the CBA talks fail again. He's there when Geno calls him, late on New Year's Eve in Pittsburgh, late morning on New Year's in Magnitogorsk, and says, "Come here. Play for Metallurg."
Sid sighs. "I can't. You don't have more room for NHL players."
"You Sidney Crosby," Geno says. "They make room."
Sid waits until Wednesday to call Brisson and ask him about it. Pat tells him it can probably be done. He's already laid the groundwork, and if Sid wants it, he'll do his best.
Sid goes to the rink and works for a couple of hours, and then he takes a shower, goes home, and calls Toews.
"I don't want to leave everyone in the lurch."
Jon tells him, "No one doubts your dedication. Westgarth's not going anywhere, even if we both do."
"Are you going somewhere?" Sid asks, distracted from his original purpose.
"I don't know," Jon says. "Seguin's not staying in Biel. Kaner wants me to go if they can dig up the money for me."
"Oh," Sid says. "Maybe I shouldn't-"
"Sid," Jon says. "If you need to play, go play."
That stops Sid in his tracks, because he does need to play. He doesn't think he can bear the thought of not playing for a whole season.
Sid's second to last call is to Don. Anyone in the PA can call Don, but Sid gets right through.
"Hmm," Don says when Sid asks if his going to Russia is going to help or hurt them. "It's your choice. We'd miss you at the negotiating table, but the idea of you possibly getting hurt playing overseas might kick them into gear."
When they're done talking, Sid calls Pat and says, "Tell them I'll pay half the insurance."
Pat's silent for a very long moment. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"Yes," Sid says. "I need to play, and I want to play with Geno. I'll split the insurance to do it."
Pat says, "Okay," and he makes it happen.
Sid sleeps on his flights. He has to. He's learned how, and he gets into Magnitogorsk in the middle of the afternoon. He's greeted by a handful of cameras and a representative from the team. The rest of the team is playing an away game, but Sid goes straight to the rink, straps on his skates, and does a couple of laps, getting used to the feel of the ice and giving the cameras some footage.
The team puts Sid in a hotel, but Geno drags him out of it once the team is back and installs him in a guest room with its own bathroom. Sid eats with Geno's family, hangs out with Geno and Gonch, starts learning enough Russian to get around on his own. Calls in to conference calls and reads the PA emails.
They play hockey, and the game is different, a little, but nothing he can't handle, and they win enough.
They meet up with Ovechkin in a bar in Moscow, and the lockout hasn't seemed to dampen his enthusiasm in the least.
"Sidney Crosby," he booms, and he pulls Sid in for a crushing and overly-familiar hug.
"Hi." Ovechkin grins and calls for a waitress to bring them a round of drinks. The Russian is too fast for Sid to follow, but he's pretty sure Ovechkin is saying less than complimentary things about his alcohol tolerance, and he ends up with a beer to everyone else's shots.
Ovechkin holds up his shot. "Fuck Gary."
Geno and Gonch both say it with him. Sid shakes his head with a laugh, and wordlessly joins in the toast.
With the time difference, Sid's sleeping when it comes down, and he wakes up to a phone full of text messages, emails, requests for interviews.
"We've done our best," Don's email says, "and they chose to cancel the rest of your season. This is not the end of our fight. We will be doing what we can to work toward a new CBA for the 2013-2014 season."
Sid has another email from him, talking points only, and he memorizes them, replies to a couple of texts and emails - a short note to his family, a statement to the Post-Gazette, "Fuck Gary" back at Ovechkin - and goes to the rink. It's early enough that there's no one else there, and he got out of the house before Geno was even up, so it's just him shooting pucks into the goal and into the boards until he gets enough control over himself to scoop them up and do more than just blindly fire them off into the distance.
Geno shows up later, still before practice, and they do nearly silent drills until practice, and then after practice the media crowds around them and they give statements, Sid in English, Geno in Russian, and then they go home and make deep inroads into a bottle of vodka.
Sid's family comes to Russia over Taylor's spring break. They're in the playoffs, which means a lot of games and not a lot of family time, but Sid's family sits with Geno's in the stands and the whole group cheers them on.
They win, while Sid's family is there, and after. And then they win it all in a hard-fought seven-game series over Dynamo Moscow. The Gagarin Cup isn't the Stanley Cup, but it's something. It's a championship, and it's hockey.
Geno drives Sid to the airport. He gets out of the car and helps Sid pile his luggage onto a cart, and then they hug. KHL finals end months before the NHL playoffs; it doesn't feel like it's time for hockey to be over yet.
"Sid best," Geno says. "Come to Russia, we win. Sid best."
"You win before," Sid says in his Russian that never got good enough to give interviews in. It's harder now, than learning French was when he was a teenager. He grins. "Geno best."
Geno laughs. "Sid and Geno best." He hugs Sid again, hard.
"Sid and Geno best," Sid says. And then, in English because Geno will understand his English better than he can try to put sentences together in Russian, "I'll see you at training camp in September."
"If there agreement."
"There will be." Sid checks to make sure he has his tickets, and he waves at Geno as he walks into the airport. There will be a season next year. No one can afford for there not to be.
- Ficlet: through to the other side (Hockey, Sidney Crosby gen, 1400 words, General Audiences)