My Last Day Without You
Chapter 3: Breaking the Ice

by Quinn D.K.

Ezra and Henrik had their choice of tables at Bricco. It was right after the lunch rush and the romantic, dark bricked restaurant was otherwise empty. They chose a semi-private booth that their waitress immediately rushed to with an ice bucket of champagne.

"Oh, we haven't actually ordered anything yet," Ezra said as the waitress poured two glasses for them.

She flitted her anxious eyes toward Henrik. "Our owner saw you guys coming in. He's a huge Knights fan, so it's on the house. I'll be right back with your menus."

Henrik watched her rush away, confusion knitting his brows together. "After beating the Leafs last night, I thought I'd be public enemy number one." He took off his suit jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves, revealing muscular, hairy forearms. Ezra resisted the urge to run his hands along one of them.

"That's Toronto for you. We love our teams here, but we're kinda used to seeing them lose," Ezra shrugged.

"And here I thought you didn't know much about sports."

"I know enough," Ezra shot back with a grin. "I'm savvy."

Their waitress returned with their menus and disappeared again without saying a word. She was probably nervous, if Ezra had to guess, and wanted to give them their privacy. He wasn't about to complain.

Henrik watched her go. "Sorry about that. I haven't been on a date in a while, sometimes I forget that people know who I am. Some are a little cooler under pressure than others."

"Aha, this is a date!"

A bit of red appeared around Henrik's beard. "So you've discovered my evil plan."

"I'm okay with this being a date, evil or not. It'll help me take my mind off things."

Henrik paused at this. "Yeah, about that. I just wanted to say how sorry I am. About your job."

A flicker of anguish made Ezra's eyes drop to the table. "Yeah, well, I am too. But we don't need to talk about that."

"Of course," Henrik said quickly. "We can talk about anything you like."

Ezra's lips curled into a delicate smile. "Then let's start with you."

After giving their orders to the waitress, Henrik ran through his abbreviated personal history: he'd grown up in Helsingborg, Sweden, briefly served in the Swedish Army, and at 20 he got his start playing for the NHL after being scouted at a hockey tournament in Finland.

"Have you always wanted to play hockey professionally? Like, since you were a kid?" Ezra sipped from his champagne flute, just enough to taste the tangy bubbles. Being a notorious lightweight, he played it carefully - even one small glass was enough to get him smashed.

"Yes, I think so." Henrik played with the napkin on his lap. Talking about himself made him somewhat nervous. "Though my parents could tell you about that whole summer I pretended to be Superman."

Ezra laughed as their waitress brought their food and once again vanished without speaking. He could have sworn he saw a fluttery, I-can't-believe-I-get-to-see-this expression on her face before she disappeared into the kitchen.

They toasted their champagne glasses and started on lunch.

"You're a big superhero fan, I take it?" Ezra cut into his steak.

"Oh, I was a mega fan," Henrik said between bites of his lemon grilled chicken. "I had cousins in Philadelphia, they sent these big boxes of comics every month. I couldn't get enough of them. I actually convinced myself I had a kryptonite allergy."

The confession had a hushed, soothing effect on Henrik. Ezra warmed at the way his hard features softened with nostalgia.

"It's not very cool or edgy to like Superman now," Henrik continued. "But I really used to see a lot of myself in him."

"Used to?" Ezra paused mid-chew.

"I'm good at what I do and I enjoy it, but I'm not a hero. Not even close. When you're a kid, it's easier to believe in something as pure as a man in a cape doing good. Not so much anymore."

Ezra didn't quite know how to take Henrik's words. He liked that such a big star athlete didn't have an inflated ego but surely he could give himself more credit than that. Shrugging, Ezra decided to keep it light. "You know, if Clark Kent ditched the glasses and stopped shaving, he'd pretty much be you."

Henrik considered this, pleased. "You think so?"

"Oh, definitely. And saving someone from a coffee shop line-cutter is definitely something Superman would do if he had the day off."

Henrik looked at him the way a hungry man would have looked at either of their lunches. His smoldering blue eyes begged Ezra to recall their encounter in the elevator, when Ezra was caught between a wall and the hockey captain's barely controlled desires. The fact that neither of them had mentioned the incident since only highlighted how overwhelming it had been.

Something nudged against Ezra's shoe. Startled, he dropped his fork, only to realize it was the touch of another foot. Henrik's.

"Everything okay?" Henrik asked, though from the low smirk on his scruffy face, he clearly knew the answer. The smooth leather of his dress shoe brushed against Ezra's blue Converse again, more purposefully this time.

Ezra nodded, eyes wide, heart pounding, wishing he'd worn something fancier. Henrik took another bite of his chicken; he seemed content with letting their little game remain unspoken. Ezra took his lead and continued with his steak, if only to distract himself from his growing lust.

"How's the steak?"

"Great. Just... how I like it. Medium raw."

"You mean rare?"

"Yes. Right."

Ezra watched Henrik take a drink of champagne and decided to raise the stakes. He raised his right foot and caressed it along the impressive, muscular calf hiding beneath one of Henrik's pant legs. The athlete paused in the middle of his drink, like his brain had short-circuited and needed a second to calibrate.

"So." Henrik leaned his leg into Ezra's secret caress, inviting him to continue. "We've spoken enough about me. Let's hear about you."

Ezra gently sucked in his lower lip as his foot continued to explore Henrik's leg. "What would you like to know?"

"Did you... grow up in Toronto?" Henrik sat a little straighter as Ezra's shoe reached his knee then gracefully dropped back to his ankle.

"Yeah, sort of. Spent most of my childhood in Scarborough, which is east of the city..." Ezra drew his foot along Henrik's calf again, this time riding up the man's pant leg and revealing a flash of skin. Ezra's own pants tightened at this. Their game of footsy made him hard - achingly so.

"What do you like to do for fun?"

"I..." Ezra had to pause for air. "I like to draw. I've been trying to get better at it. I bake, too... cookies, cakes... anything."

"Really?" Henrik liked the way Ezra's foot danced along his leg. "Shame I can't try any of your desserts."

"Excuse me. I hate to interrupt..." Both Ezra and Henrik snapped toward a man who approached them, a balding little fellow in his fifties. He appeared totally unaware of what their table surface was hiding. "I'm the owner of Bricco and I just wanted to say it's an honor that The Viking is dining here today. I'm a huge fan."

"Oh, it's my pleasure," Henrik shook the owner's hand but pointedly did not rise or break his shrouded contact with Ezra. "I'd be happy to sign something for you after our meal."

"Funny you should offer!" The owner revealed a pile of Henrik's official NHL head shots from behind his back. He placed the photos and a black sharpie beside Henrik's plate. "If it's not too much trouble, sir."

"None at all. And please, call me Hank."

Henrik picked up the sharpie and Ezra began to withdraw his foot. He didn't want to distract Henrik from a task that needed his focus. But the hockey captain reached under the table, took Ezra's ankle, and set the younger man's foot on his knee. Henrik's fingers slid under the material of Ezra's pants and stroked the warm skin of his leg. Ezra arched his back but tried not to visibly react to the man's sensuous touch.

The owner's eyes went from Henrik to Ezra, clearly sensing something, but unable to articulate what. "Is this your... little brother, Hank?"

Henrik grinned without looking up. "My friend." He was signing through the stack with one hand at an incredible pace - clearly a veteran of these rapid-fire autograph sessions.

"Well, any friend of The Viking is a friend of mine," the owner beamed at Ezra's cherry red face. "Your meal's on the house today, son."

"Th-thank you." Ezra's voice caught slightly as Henrik's big hand slid a little further up his calf. Surrendering control to Henrik, however little an amount, drove Ezra crazy with desire. Desire that he desperately needed to reign in, unless he wanted to invite more unwanted attention. "Really, that's so nice of you."

Oblivious, the owner turned his attention back to the captain. "Hank, what do you say to some tiramisu while you finish signing?"

"That's alright," Henrik said. His concentration on the photos didn't stop his hand from moving an inch deeper into Ezra's pant leg. "I think I'll be having dessert later."


"Oh, man. Look at your driver."

Ezra lightly tapped on the Cadillac window. Ned had reclined in the driver's seat, the chauffeur's hat tipped over his sleeping face. His mouth was wide open as it belted a car-shaking snore. "Looks like someone mixed their NyQuil with their DayQuil."

Henrik just finished settling their bill (he still insisted on paying in full, plus a generous tip) and wasn't quite expecting to see his driver passed out on the job, a mere block away from the restaurant.

"What do we do?" Ezra blinked. "We can't disturb him. Look how peaceful he is."

Henrik slid his hands into his pockets. "Whenever a teammate falls asleep on the charter bus, we dump ice water on them."

"That seems a little cruel."

Henrik scrubbed a hand across his stubbly face and chuckled. "Hey, it's tradition. You wouldn't like what we do when someone falls asleep in the locker room, either."

"Hold that thought," Ezra said as he started toward Bricco. "Bee-are-bee."

"You're not getting ice water, are you? Make sure you ask for a full bucket."

"Cruel!" Ezra called before disappearing back into the restaurant.

Henrik leaned against the car and checked his phone, relishing the sensation of a lunch date gone well. Knowing that Ezra both enjoyed and reciprocated his advances made him feel much less guilty about their elevator ride that morning. Henrik only cut it short because he didn't know what he was doing - and the momentary loss of his faculties put him off from making another move. But now, their situation was much clearer. Ezra was down for the flirting and touching and Henrik was more than willing to oblige.

Their time together so far had been new territory for Henrik, especially in how forward he'd been with the younger man. Yet Ezra made it... easier. Henrik wanted to be forward with him now. He wanted to touch, suggest, tease. Something about the graceful way Ezra smiled, how it highlighted his beautiful face, how his green eyes became even greener when he blushed... it all turned Henrik stupid with lust.

"Here we go." Ezra's voice made him look up from his phone. The younger man carried a small sytrofoam takeout box with a napkin and plastic fork. "I hope Ned likes tiramisu."

"That's no way to wake up someone up," Henrik teased. "Unless you plan on mashing it onto his face."

Ezra opened the Cadillac door, placed the takeout box on Ned's lap, and gingerly eased the door back shut. "It's not meant to wake him up, it's meant to greet him as a pleasant after-nap snack."

"That's very thoughtful of you."

"And yet I'm usually so wicked."

"Ah, I don't believe that for a second." Henrik took a step and closed the space between them. Ezra wasn't short by any means - maybe 5'10, if Henrik had to guess - but standing right in front of him really exaggerated their size difference. It made him want to scoop up Ezra into his arms and carry him away somewhere.

Somewhere that involves a bed, hopefully. Or a couch. Or table. I'm not picky.

"Should we go for a walk, or something?" Ezra had to crane his neck to meet Henrik's eye level. "It's a shame the public rinks aren't open today. You could've shown me all those fancy hockey captain moves."

"Yeah? You'd be interested in seeing that?"

Ezra shrugged. "Sure. I mean, there's probably a reason they made your tall, Swedish ass the team captain, right?"

"Ah!" Henrik mocked a hit to the stomach. "You really swung for the gut."

Laughing, Ezra poked Henrik's rock hard abs. "And I'm so sure you felt it. I have a feeling you're a big show-off on the ice."

Hmm. A light bulb went off in Henrik's head. The city rinks may be closed, but the private rink that management rented out today isn't...

Henrik glanced at the nearest street sign. "How far away is Dufferin and Dundas?"

"It's a walk that way," Ezra pointed a thumb behind them. "Why?"

"You'll see." Henrik's grin grew devilish. He led the way with a confused but intrigued Ezra trailing after him.


The smell of fresh, cool ice greeted Ezra as he followed Henrik into the players box of McCormark Arena's hockey rink. It was in a nondescript brick building off Dufferin, nothing fancy, but very spacious. Aside from a clerk who greeted them at the front desk, the building was empty.

"Wow. The Portland Knights have this whole place to themselves?"

"Just for today," Henrik took a seat at the bench and pulled off his dress shoes. "But we only used it this morning for practice. The boys are off somewhere drinking the rest of the day away."

Ezra leaned against the dividing perch and gazed onto the slick, even surface of the ice. "Seems weird that they'd be celebrating without their captain."

"Well, I found a better way to spend my time," Henrik said as he eased into his skates.

Ezra threw him a withering glance. "I didn't know you'd be such a sweet talker when I met you."

"No?" Henrik fastened his laces together with quick, practiced hands. "What did you think of me when we met?"

"Hmm, I don't know if my memory can go back that far," Ezra teased.

Henrik stood and walked on his skates toward him as if they were nothing. God, why do I find that so hot? He was taller than ever in the new footwear, a fact that made a warm tingling spread through Ezra's body.

"I'll tell you what I thought of you when we met," Henrik offered.

"Uh oh. Should I be bracing myself for bad news?"

"I thought you were very shy, and very sweet," the captain began, "And you had a smile that I immediately wanted to see more of."

Ezra's pulse quickened. "Kinda strange to hear myself described like that."

"Bad strange?"

"Good strange," Ezra corrected. "And about when we met? I thought you were- I mean- you've seen yourself. You presumably own a mirror, you've glanced at reflective surfaces before. If somebody carved a lumberjack in marble, brought it to life, and put a hockey stick in his hand, that freakshow would be you."

Henrik's big, booming laugh reverberated off the walls of the cavernous room. Ezra loved seeing his normally serious face brighten like that. He wanted to make it happen as often as possible.

"I couldn't believe you were paying me any attention at all," Ezra continued. "You were just such a gentleman. I mean, a little scary, but still a gentleman."

Henrik thought for a beat. "I'm not that scary after you get to know me, right?"

"Well, I'm still getting to know you. But I'm not too scared of what I've seen so far."

"Ah, hopefully you'll see me as completely harmless by the end of the day."

Ezra's eyes darkened. The end of the day. The ticking clock counting down to the detonation of this 24 hour fantasy...

The mirth disappeared from Henrik's face. "Did I say something wrong?"


...except that you'll be leaving soon, to another country, to another coast, and I'll still be here, aching for a relationship that never started. Oh, and I'll be jobless! Still!

Ezra looked at the ground and closed his eyes, shushing the negative thoughts away. He hated when he did this to himself but he couldn't always help it either.

"Hey." Henrik's concern was growing. "Look at me."

God, Ezra wanted him. Bad. The intense, gnawing attraction was almost enough to make him forget about their implied deadline. "I know you're gone by the end of the day. I just... don't want to think about it."

They might have had a good thing going now, but were they going to test their luck with weekend visits or more one-day drop-ins? No, Ezra didn't want that. It would only delay the inevitable, the ironclad thesis Ezra knew inside and out, frontwards and backwards: long distance relationships never work out.

He did a double take when Henrik put a comforting hand on his arm. It startled him, like being pulled out of a bad memory. Ezra started to regret how he darkened the mood with his own doubts.

"If this is too much..." Henrik started gently. "I mean, I want to spend some time with you and I want us to be on the same page-"

"I do too! If we're both on the same page, then no one gets hurt. Agreed?"

Henrik nodded. "Agreed. So, whatever happens between us today..."

"'s just for today, and it won't mean anything." Ezra tried hard to make his words sound final. "And that's what the both of us want."

"And now we're both on the same page."

"Same page. Same word. Same letter, even."



Ezra didn't know if he was satisfied with that and it didn't seem like Henrik was either, based on the downward look on the captain's face. But what else we can do? I don't want to pack up and go home right this second. Maybe it'll be easier if we both pretend, just for the moment, that this all means nothing...

Henrik loosened his tie and stepped onto the ice. Ezra's mind was still swimming with uncertainty when Henrik noticed the Zamboni machine idling on the ice, way on the other end of the rink.

"Huh. You know, I've always wanted to drive a Zamboni..." Henrik's voice lilted with mischief.

"What does it do?"

"It's an ice resurfacer. Keeps our playing field nice and smooth." That devilish grin returned. "Come on, I have an idea."

"Wait- you're not serious. I'm not getting on the ice!" Ezra objected. "I don't have any skates and I happen to be the least coordinated person in the world."

"I don't believe that."

"I was almost impaled on a bed post once."

"Ezra, come on! If I'm getting on that Zamboni, I'm not doing it alone."

Ezra hemmed and hawed, but he secretly liked the idea - sharing a romantic Zamboni ride with a hockey captain. It was fitting, like a knight in shining armor on a white horse.

"Well..." he relented. "Maybe just once around the rink. But I still need skates."

Henrik shook his head. "No, you don't."

"But I-"

Henrik scooped the younger man into his arms, one hand around Ezra's back, his other forearm under the boy's knees. He'd literally swept Ezra off his feet, and the suddenness of it stole his breath.

Ezra felt the captain's muscles beneath his dress shirt, enough to tell that they were barely straining under his weight. Henrik brought them onto the rink and pushed off with his skates, which easily navigated the ice's cool, unbroken surface. He skated with the confident ease of a professional and it calmed Ezra, made him feel safer.

"This is easier, right?" Henrik smiled. His words escaped quietly, his mouth so tantalizingly close that Ezra felt the hot exhalation against the sensitive skin of his ear.

Henrik's muscles flexed as they got closer. They stopped in front of the bulky machine, Henrik admiring its glossy red surface as he let his companion to his feet. Ezra braced himself against the vehicle's bulk. The ice beneath his Converse shoes was slick enough to make him nervous.

"So where do I sit?" Ezra asked.

Henrik climbed into the driver's seat, the only seat the vehicle had, and patted his knee. "Up here with me."

Ezra colored at the suggestion. "Oh, come on."

"Don't tell me you're afraid of breaking my lap," the captain chuckled. "I've carried grocery bags heavier than you."

"You sure we won't get in trouble?"

"I'm sure." Henrik extended a hand and helped Ezra climb up the step.

"And it's safe? You know how to drive this thing?"

Henrik eased Ezra onto his lap, one arm around the younger man's slender waist and the other on the Zamboni's wheel. Their faces were mere inches apart, their lips even closer.

"You're safe with me," Henrik said in a low, serious voice. "I'll protect you."

Ezra's warm body melted and he felt only butterflies. I'd like that. A lot...

Henrik switched the ignition and brought the Zamboni to life. The sturdy machine hummed its mechanical song and lurched forward. Henrik steered the wheel with his free hand and directed them onto the center of the ice. It moved with the slow, lumbering pace of a sleeping animal.

I can't believe I'm riding a Zamboni on a hockey captain's lap.

Any apprehension that had trickled into Ezra's mind quickly evaporated when he saw Henrik's grizzled face leaning close to his own. And then...

Their lips finally met. They melted into each other, their kiss soft and undemanding at first, a surprised moan catching in Ezra's throat as Henrik's scruffy mouth closed over his. Ezra parted his full, pouty lips and accepted Henrik's eager tongue, enjoying the hot, naughty sensation more than words could say. He moaned again, lower this time, more guttural. Henrik's arm pressed tighter around the younger man's waist, his other arm left the wheel and firmly stroked up and down and in between Ezra's taut thighs. The boy arched his back in pleasure, only barely aware that he was subtly grinding against the material of Henrik's pants, against the hockey captain's massive, straining erection.

"Fuck," was the only word that escaped Henrik's panting mouth.

They kissed again, and again and again, their tongues dancing against each other, Ezra already feeling his soft skin redden and raw with the rough scratches of the man's beard. He didn't care. He never wanted Henrik to stop kissing him, never wanted to leave the security of his lap.

Ezra's hand traveled up Henrik's dress shirt, pulling at the man's tie and drawing them even further into each other. The hand between Ezra's thighs slid against the smoothness of his pants, moving ever closer to the source of the material's sudden tightness. Ezra could tell Henrik wanted more than this - more than a simple makeout session - and he wanted it too. Badly.

Both men were so distracted with each other that neither had noticed that the Zamboni was driving straight into the path of a goaltender's net. With a fantastic, whining crunch of metal and plastic netting, the machine demolished the puny structure like a bulldozer nonchalantly plowing through a pile of leaves.

Henrik and Ezra pulled off each other, panting, their lips wet and eyes wide with shock. Henrik hit the brakes and quickly switched off the ignition, but the damage was already done. It took the two of them several moments to register what had actually happened before they were able to speak again.

"That was totally your fault," Ezra breathed.

Henrik pinned him with a ferocious smile and consumed him in another hot, wet kiss. Ezra leaned back against the wheel and brought his arms around Henrik's neck, pulling the big, tall man into him, pressing their greedy, lusting bodies into each other as hard as he could.

Just for the moment, neither of them cared about anything else.

End of Chapter 3
To Be Continued

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