My Last Day Without You
Chapter 13: The Viking's Lover

by Quinn D.K.

Warmth enveloped Ezra as he woke from the most comfortable sleep of his life. He turned on the soft bed and found Henrik beside him, the morning sun highlighting the sculpted planes of his sleeping face. The motion of their bodies stirred Henrik and he wrapped an arm securely around Ezra's waist. Their naked bodies touched, making Ezra's senses sing.

"Happy Valentine's Day." Henrik's voice escaped in a low, satisfied mumble.

Ezra blinked against sleep, against worry to take in the man's square jaw, soft red lips and dark beard. He rested his face against the comfortable crook of the man's neck. Henrik squeezed and squeezed him until they both laughed. "Don't think I've heard you say a thing all damn night."

That made Ezra laugh again. Everything that happened after their reuniting kiss in the street was a delicious, red hot rush. He remembered Henrik carrying him back into the hotel like they were newlyweds, passed the bewildered faces of the affluent clientele. He remembered the hurricane of hands on bodies as they stumbled into the elevator - Seriously, what is with the two of us and elevators? - and he remembered Henrik tripping and falling once they reached the entrance of the bedroom. That was Ezra's fault. His lips were the source of distraction, after all. Henrik had tried getting on top of him but Ezra had other ideas - namely, pinning Henrik back to the floor and riding him hard. There was no need for words, apologies or hushed confessions. All Ezra needed was skin. And lips. And the aching, throbbing hardness of Henrik inside him. God, Ezra missed him, his broad chest, sturdy shoulders, those long, hairy legs... he appreciated every last inch of the man and Henrik was quite appreciative in return. So they appreciated each other on the floor, against the wall, on the kitchen bar, in the shower, and then on the bed.

Henrik was certainly right about one thing - they didn't speak much last night.

"Please tell me this is real," Ezra whispered into his shoulder.

"Trust me, it's real."

"Don't know if I believe you."

Henrik bit the silken curve of Ezra's exposed neck. An electric shiver pulsed through his body. "Believe me now?"

Ezra laughed once more, pleased with how effortless and genuine his joy felt. Henrik rolled over and trapped him in a bear hug of blankets and chest hair. As real and tactile as the embrace was, Ezra still couldn't shake the unreality of the moment. Had he really just survived the most bizarre day of his life? In the arms of a man who was once nothing more than a fantasy? Both of them had taken so many chances the day before... could it all have actually paid off?

As if to answer his silent doubts, Henrik drew him in for a warm, wet kiss. Ezra was too afraid to identify what he felt, but thought that maybe Henrik could tell, that the entanglement of their bodies communicated what their hearts felt without needing to say it. Drawing back from the kiss, Ezra massaged a palm over the back of the man's neck. "I can't believe you did all that."

"You're gonna have to narrow 'that' down for me," he replied with a wolf grin. "We had a pretty busy night."

"I mean when you talked to the press..." He was a little hesitant to bring it up. For all the triumph of that moment, it was still difficult to separate it from the hurt and confusion that came before. That would fade with time, but right then it still held a fragile air.

Henrik eased himself against the king-sized headboard. The muscles of his barrel chest tightened with effort. "I don't think anyone in that press room was more shocked than I was."

"Why did you do it?"

"Because I didn't want to be told what to say anymore." He locked his fingers in Ezra's. "Because I care about you."

"You could've lost everything. I mean, didn't you say that you were up for suspension? That sponsors were going to-?"

Henrik calmly kissed Ezra's hand, a mellow smile on his face. The man who was so wound up with anxiety and frustration in Violet's backyard... he was gone. Forgotten like a bad dream. "Don't worry about that."

Ezra sat up, faintly remembering his nudity as the blanket slipped to his legs. "I loved everything you said. But I never wanted you to think I was making you choose me over your career."

He shook his head. "I never thought that. All I used to talk about in interviews was how hockey is my entire life. I thought I didn't have room for anything else. But that's not true anymore. Last night I told the world I don't have to choose between you or the ice. It's not one or the other. I'm making room for both." His thumb brushed the soft, youthful palm of Ezra's hand, "I don't want to make playoffs this season without someone to celebrate with. Even if that someone doesn't give a damn about hockey."

Ezra grinned. "I could learn to give a damn."

Henrik touched the back of the younger man's head, urging them closer. "You stuck by me even when I wasn't making it easy. I don't want to waste this second chance. I want to be yours."

Ezra's entire body blushed, from his toes all the way up to his reddened face. He wrapped his arms around his great mountain of a man and held him so close and tight that their bodies threatened to fuse together. "I want to be yours," Ezra whispered back.

Fucking hell. Just last morning neither of us could even think about making the first move. The thought made Ezra sit straight up. Last morning. "Hold on. What time is it?"

"Why, got somewhere to be?"

Ezra found the bedside alarm clock. It was almost noon. "Shit! I thought your flight was first thing in the morning? Come on, we have to get up!" He sprang off the mattress and scrambled through the pile of discarded clothes on the floor. It was a strange mishmash of him and Henrik - clothes that were too big and too small all jumbled up together. He pulled on his briefs and a t-shirt. When he turned around, he found Henrik's eyes roaming down his ass and legs.

"Henrik," his voice hardened, "Why aren't you freaking out right now?" The hockey captain yawned and grabbed the landline. "Good," Ezra calmed, "Call the airline and tell them you need a- a- I don't know, I'm not a traveler. I don't know what people do when they miss flights. Can you get another ticket this soon? Does management pay for that? Does the NHL? Xavier said you guys have a game in Portland tonight, if you just tell the airline you were-"

"Hey, room service," Henrik said casually into the receiver. "Can I get your organic egg white omelet breakfast? My guest here will have-" He cradled the receiver against his neck. "You're a pancakes guy, right? Does that sound good?" When Ezra nodded, still as confused as ever, Henrik returned to the call. "Yeah, my guest will have your buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup. Make sure it's that real Canadian stuff, not the fake stuff we've got in the States. Throw in a side of bacon and eggs with that. He'll be hungry, I've seen him eat. Skillet home fries, too, and don't forget fruit salad. And a pot of coffee, cream and sugar. Two cups. Alright? Aces, man. See you soon."

When he hung up, a puzzled Ezra took a seat back on the bed. One eyebrow rose to his forehead. "I'm getting the sense that this flight isn't happening."


"But you have a game tonight in Portland."


Ezra's second eyebrow joined the first. "And you're not going to play?" Henrik shook his head. "And you're okay with that?" A tidal wave of dark thoughts crested Ezra's mind. If Henrik really had been suspended for the remainder of the season - or even possibly fired - then it was all his fault.

"Here. Read this." Henrik grabbed his smartphone and brought up a text message from Coach Taggert. The time stamp read 5:05 am.

'Ford. Mgmt & I talked. Up all night w/ them. Season suspension discussed. Me & NHL rep talked them down. Suspension will be for next 3 games only - tonight, Wed, and Fri. Your agent will fax official notice to hotel. U got lucky. No need to thank me, u big idiot.'

Ezra sighed by the time he finished the text, whether from relief or joy, he couldn't tell.

"I was lucky," Henrik said. "I'm not happy about missing one game, let alone three, but I can live with it. Could've been a whole lot worse."

Ezra cradled the phone in his hand, reading and re-reading. "I can't believe Taggert was actually fighting for you."

"He gave me a call after sending that. You were still asleep. Said his anger was reactionary and unfair. He told management that punishing me to the extent that they wanted to would be a detriment to the team, especially in the lead up to playoffs."

"Did he apologize?"

Henrik chuckled. "Not in Taggert's vocabulary. But he said he owed me a beer when I got back to the city."

"Wow. He's actually cool with you missing the morning flight?"

"'Cool' might be stretching it. Let's say, he's willing to look the other way."

Ezra scooted closer until he was on Henrik's lap. "When do you go back to Portland?"

"Well." Henrik's hand caressed his lower back. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about. The next game after my suspension is the following Saturday. Which means..."

"'ve got an entire week to kill." Ezra watched Henrik's mouth elongate into a grin. It took everything in his power not to nibble on that delicious lower lip of his. "Am I right? A whole week?"

"A whole week," he confirmed.

The stress that had thundered down on them the entire time they were together disappeared like a wisp of smoke. Ezra had been constantly, uncomfortably aware of their 24 hour time limit, but now? It was a thing of the past, a bad joke he no longer had to pretend was funny. The future stretched out before him and the possibilities were limitless. And it felt pretty damn fantastic. "Fucking hell, this is amazing! You have a week!"

"We have a week."

A knock on the door. Henrik got up and pulled on his boxers - slowly, ensuring Ezra got an eyeful of his sculpted, beefy ass - and answered. A bellhop greeted them with a breakfast cart and didn't seem all that startled to be greeted by a man in his underwear. Henrik whispered something to him and the bellhop whispered back a reply Ezra couldn't hear, but seemed like a confirmation of something. After being slipped a generous tip, the bellhop left with a smile.


"Starving," Ezra joined him. He couldn't decide what looked more delicious: the cart full of food or Henrik in his boxers. His eyes grazed a collection of silver trays, each covered with a fancy stainless steel lid. He lifted one to reveal a mammoth, loaded egg white omelet. Definitely an athlete's breakfast.

"Ah, that would be mine. Check this one." Henrik tapped the lid of a tray at the farthest corner of the cart.

Ezra removed the lid expecting a stack of fluffy pancakes. What he found instead was a plain envelope. His brow furrowed. "Is this the bill? I'd be happy to pay for breakfast since you bought a Zamboni yesterday, but-"

Henrik laughed. "Just look inside."

Ezra spread the envelope open and picked out a ticket. A plane ticket. Henrik wrapped his big hands around Ezra's waist. "Do you wanna come to Portland with me this week?"

"Really? Fuck... wow."

"Not that I don't love Toronto but I think it'd be a good show of solidarity if I was with the Knights this week. Even if I can't play I'd need to be at practices and drills. You can come watch the games with me and meet all the guys! I promise they're not all as bad as Xavier. And I really want to show you my city. We can do it without the pressure or making any big decisions. Then after the week is up we can keep going from there. I come to Toronto, you come to Portland. A few days here, a few days there, whatever you want. As long as it's you and me."

Every part of Ezra heated and fluttered. "I've never been to the west coast before."

Henrik touched their foreheads together. "All the chances we took yesterday don't have to stop there."

"I don't want them to stop."

"I was really hoping you'd say that. So what do you think? You and me in Portland? All week?"

Henrik never looked more handsome to him then in that moment. He had the kind of face Ezra could study for hours, so open and mysterious all at once. His hands twitched with the phantom desire to draw and sketch, to duplicate Henrik's face in ink or charcoal or paint.

Ezra decided that once he had drawn Henrik's face it would become the first page of the portfolio he would send off to a list of comic publishers. He had made such a list before, which had been stuffed into a drawer roughly one year ago. That was when he started his job at PopViral. Back then, he'd dismissed his dreams of being an artist as silly - not something he'd ever have the opportunity to pursue.

How delighted he was to be wrong.

"When's the flight?" Ezra finally said.

Henrik couldn't suppress his relieved laughter. He scooped Ezra into his arms - a gesture that was quickly becoming a staple of their time spent together - and knocked him back to the bed. Ezra fell, laughing the entire way, as his outstretched arm accidentally swept back a window curtain. The skies broke open and flooded the hotel room with all the sunlight in the world. Henrik pushed Ezra's t-shirt up and let his beard wander down the smooth, toned trail of his torso. He kissed and worshiped every inch of skin his lips found, savoring Ezra's taste on his tongue.

When Henrik pulled away, Ezra held onto him with a strength that surprised both men. "Don't leave," he whispered, eyes barely open and chest arching into his warmth.

"I'm here," Henrik said. "I'll always be here." He reached to the bedside table and did something Ezra couldn't quite see. A moment later they returned to each other with a deep, hot, ravaging kiss - the kind of kiss that could turn day into night.

"You're beautiful," Henrik said. "I mean it."

His breath slowed at the word. Beautiful? "No one's ever called me that before."

"I find that very hard to believe." Henrik's smile softened, his eyes dream-like as he pressed a kiss of promise against Ezra's lips. "But it wont be the last time I say it."

Ezra stroked his beard. "You know I still think you're a Greek god statue come to life." Then he realized his mistake. "Sorry, Swedish god."

Henrik's voice murmured against his warm, sweet skin. "Only when I'm with you."

His mouth explored Ezra's sensitive neck and worked back down to his bare chest. Moaning, Ezra fell back to the soft surrender of the blankets and threw a glance at the bedside table. Henrik had turned the alarm clock to face the wall. Was it still morning or had it become noon?

Ezra didn't care. He and his Viking had all the time in the world.

The End

There's still an Epilogue chapter coming! It's not quite over yet. :)

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