Zhenya can’t catch a fucking break. He was supposed to leave the charity event two fucking hours ago, but of fucking course he has to be the one to stay all the way to the very end. And his phone is dead, so he can’t just call Sidney and tell him he’s going to be really late for their first actual date.
Fuck his fucking life.
The traffic downtown is a nightmare, and Zhenya’s already three blocks away from the restaurant. He can walk run the rest of the way. He gives his Uber driver the money he owes him and practically flies down the street. He is about to cross the road to get to the restaurant when he sees Sidney, dressed in a nice button down and a blazer, grab his coat from his chair and wrap his scarf around his neck. Even from Zhenya’s viewpoint, he can tell Sidney has been crying.
No. Fuck. This can’t be happening. He’s not about to let this chance go. He can't let this chance go.
Zhenya shoves past a few people and calls Sidney’s name a couple of times before the dark-haired man eventually stops walking when he is about a block away from the restaurant. Christ, he’s fast, Zhenya thinks to himself. Sidney turns around to look at Zhenya, and Zhenya is about ready to tear his own heart out of his chest so it can stop causing him so much pain.
“Sid,” he says breathlessly, “I’m so sorry. Phone die. Stuck at charity. Know I’m very very late. No excuse, I’m know, but–”
“It’s okay, Geno,” Sidney interrupts Zhenya’s incessant babbling with a wobbly smile. Zhenya shakes his head.
“No, not okay, Sid. I’m know is not okay to stand up someone. Never want to do that to you. Ever.” Zhenya slowly takes another step forward and takes Sidney’s hand in his. His fingers are cold to the touch, but they warm Zhenya’s body, anyway. Zhenya sighs. “I’m never want to hurt you,” he says quietly. “You too important to me.” Sidney looks up to him with those sad hazel eyes that seem to sparkle with a faint hint of what Zhenya prays is hope.
“How can I be so important to you if we haven’t even had our first date?” Sidney asks. Zhenya smiles.
“We know each other for years, Sid. You always have place in my life. Been friends too long.” It’s true that Zhenya and Sidney have known each other since Sidney first came to work for the Pittsburgh Penguins back before Zhenya ever even got the A. Sidney has seen Zhenya through the highs and lows of his stellar career in the NHL, and he has always been a constant friend through it all. Out of every coach, every teammate, every trainer, nutritionist, doctor, and even intern that has come and gone, Sidney is one of the few that have stayed. Zhenya still kicks himself for waiting so long to finally have the guts to ask Sidney to give him a chance to prove how good he can be to Sidney. And when he has the opportunity to make up for lost time, he blows it sky high. He just hopes he can pick up the pieces and fix make things right.
The hopefulness in Sidney’s face heightens as the silence drags on. Zhenya leans in and presses his winter chapped lips against Sidney’s cheek. When he pulls back, Sidney’s cheeks are almost as red as his scarf, but he’s smiling and the tears have stopped.
“Still want dinner, Sid?” Zhenya asks hopefully. Sidney huffs a quiet laugh in the cold February air.
“The restaurant closes in twenty minutes, G.”
“We find other restaurant. Lots of good places here in Pittsburgh.”
“It’s almost eleven! And you have practice tomorrow!” Zhenya waves his hand dismissively.
“Is optional tomorrow. We go get food. I’m know you hungry, and I’m hungry too.” Sidney genuinely laughs this time.
“I know you’re always hungry,” he informs Zhenya matter-of-factly, letting the Russian take his hand more firmly in his as they begin to walk down the street. “I’ve seen you eat before.” Zhenya grins.
“What you want to eat?” Sidney shrugs.
“You pick.” Zhenya shakes his head.
“Your choice. I’m fuck up, so you pick now. And I’m pay.” Sidney opens his mouth like he’s ready to protest, but Zhenya keeps talking. “See as me apologizing for fuck up first date.”
“You didn’t fuck it up, G. Well, not entirely, anyway.” Now it’s Zhenya’s turn to scoff. Sidney laughs with him. “Even if you were late, at least you showed up.”
Zhenya doesn’t ask Sidney to elaborate on that statement. He tries not to think too hard about it for the rest of the night, but after he drops Sidney off at his house at three in the fucking morning and goes back to his own house get some sleep, Zhenya can’t help but wonder why anyone would ever hurt such a wonderful man like Sidney.
He sleeps a little uneasily that night, and he’s a grump in the morning. Everyone tells him as much. But at least seeing Sidney blush and beam at the yellow roses Zhenya had paid to have delivered to him definitely brightens his day. He’s practically glowing when Sidney finds him after video to his kiss his cheek and thank him for dinner and the flowers.
It may have taken him a while to figure his feelings out, but now Zhenya has all the time in the world to shamelessly express those feelings. Those other shitheads never deserved a chance in Hell, anyway.