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just a spoonful of sugar

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Eric wakes to an empty bed about a month after him and Alex started dating.

It's not exactly unusual-- being a baker and all, Alex is often up and out of the house before Eric is awake-- but Eric knows for a fact that he has the day off today, and he'd been kind of looking forward to some rare but always awesome morning sex.

He sighs and rolls out of bed, pulling on some boxers and shuffling down to the kitchen, where he finds Alex stretched up on his toes, rummaging through Eric's cupboards.

He's already got a bunch of things lined up neatly on the counter, and Eric smiles, leaning against the doorframe for a moment to watch; the smooth, enticing stripe of skin where Alex's t-shirt is riding up, his sleep-mussed hair, his searching fingers.

"Hi," he says, when Alex turns around, sugar in hand, and spots him. "What's going on?"

"Wake up early," says Alex, smiling at him. "Baker habit. You say you want cookie, yes?"

"Cookies," corrects Eric, emphasising the 's.' "Not just one. Lots of cookies."

Alex rolls his eyes, shaking his hair out of his face. "Okay," he says. "Lots of cookies."

Eric grins, pressing up behind Alex to wrap his arms around his waist and mouth damply at the soft skin under his ear. "What kind of cookies?" he murmurs.

Alex tilts his head invitingly. "Maple and oat," he says. "I search your cupboard. Very Canadian."

"Mmm," says Eric, working his way down to the juncture of Alex's neck and shoulder. "Of course."

Alex elbows him lightly in the stomach, huffing a warm laugh. "Stop nuisance," he says. "You help."

"Okay," says Eric easily, loosening his arms a little but not letting go. "What do I do?"

"First let go," says Alex. "So I can think. Next get sugar, butter."

He's already got both set out on the counter, but Eric grabs them anyway, indulgent, and Alex takes them with a smile, adding, "Find electric mixer for me. You have?"

"Uh," says Eric uncertainly, and Alex looks at him with thinly-veiled horror. "No, I mean, I'm pretty sure I do?" says Eric hastily, opening one of the cupboards he rarely uses. "They're probably not great though, like, not what you're used to working with. I think my mom gave me all her old stuff when I moved in here so she'd have an excuse to go shopping for upgrades."

"Clever woman," mutters Alex.

"Hey," says Eric, bumping their hips together. "I never bake, shut up."

"You want me to bake for you, buy nice baking things," says Alex, smirking as he reaches for a measuring cup and opens the packet of sugar.

Eric says, ducking his head, "I just want you here. But if you want to bake I'll buy some proper stuff."

Alex blinks, one hand curled loosely, forgotten, around the plastic measuring cup, and just looks at Eric for a moment, head tilted. Then he puts the cup down carefully and goes over to kiss Eric, slow and sweet.

Eric hums a surprised, pleased noise into Alex's mouth and brings his hands up to cup Alex's hips, tug him closer so the bare skin of his chest catches deliciously on the soft cotton of Alex's old t-shirt. "Bet you have nice baking equipment, huh?" murmurs Eric when Alex pulls back.

"Da, of course," says Alex, nodding.

"Sorry," says Eric.

"Why sorry?" says Alex, making a face.

Eric shakes his head and kisses him again. He appreciates that Alex spends most of the time they're together at Eric's place, even though he likes to experiment with baking in his spare time and Eric has the inferior kitchen. He's more amenable to changing his routine than Eric like that. It's just that Eric likes to sleep in his bed for his pre-game nap, and he likes that his place is so close to Jordy's, and all his gear is here and he knows exactly where it is. He gets it though, because of that, how inconvenient it can be to change things up, so it-- it means a lot, or whatever. He probably should go out and buy some expensive baking shit to make it up.

When they finally pull apart Eric goes in search of the mixers again while Alex measures out the sugar and butter, adding it into a large bowl he must've found in Eric's cupboards.

"Use mixers for this," he says, when Eric finds them and hands them over. "Sugar and butter. We do for most biscuits, make lighter. Not for pastry." He points sternly at Eric. "Some people use machine for pastry, is bad. Hands best."

"Hands are always best," murmurs Eric absently, watching Alex's fingers on the mixer as he deftly assembles the parts.

Alex flicks his forehead. "In baking, not always," he says, grinning. "Okay. You do this."

Eric takes the mixer somewhat dubiously, hovering over the bowl with the butter and sugar.

"Go," says Alex encouragingly.

Eric flicks it on, and immediately sends a spatter of butter and sugar crumbs flying everywhere.

It makes Alex laugh loud and open, eyes bright, and Eric flushes, helplessly tracking Alex's tongue as he darts it out to lick away the sugar that landed on his lips.

"See?" says Eric, rolling his eyes. "Told you I'd fuck it up."

Alex rolls his eyes right back and slides into the space between Eric and the counter, lifting the beaters carefully from Eric's hands, and says, thumbing away a few sugar crystals caught on Eric's bare chest, "Start on low speed, always make sure touching bottom of bowl. Never lift when still on, yes? Wait until all mixed together."

"...Huh?" says Eric, blinking slowly, distracted because Alex is mouthing wetly at one of his nipples now, licking away the bits of butter and sugar that landed there. "I'm pretty sure you got it all," he adds hoarsely, tangling a hand in Alex's hair.

"Da?" says Alex innocently, pulling back to smirk at him. "Okay, keep mixing."

Eric swallows and says, "Right," as Alex slips away again, and then shakes his head, focusing hard on the beaters and trying to position them properly before he switches onto the lowest speed.

It works better this time; nothing goes flying, at least, and Alex watches on critically as Eric sets about creaming the ingredients somewhat jerkily, pressing the beaters to the bottom of the bowl.

"Not so stiff," he says, which makes Eric smirk. Alex rolls his eyes and adds, waving his hands, "Don't be scared to let machine go."

"If I let it go it'll take over my kitchen," says Eric skeptically.

Alex sighs heavily and switches the machine off at the plug. "Go," he says, pointing to the bar stools on the other side of the kitchen island. "You ruin my hard work."

"You said I did good, last time," says Eric, aware he's pouting and sounding petulant and not a little horrified about it. Also, unfortunately, totally helpless to stop it.

Alex shoots him a smirk through his hair. "Was just to get in pants," he says, and Eric bursts out laughing.

 

"You smell like a bakery," says Jordy later at practice, sniffing loudly. "Where's the cake?"

"Cookies," corrects Eric. "And they're at home in my kitchen where you can't get to them."

"Oh, come on," says Jordy. "You're not allowed to be dating a baker and then not bring us shit he makes. It's like, a rule."

"Pretty sure it isn't," says Eric. He smirks. "They're delicious, by the way."

"I have a key to your house," says Jordy threateningly.

"Alex is there," says Eric. "I told him not to let you have any."

"Seriously?" says Jordy. "That is not allowed. Don't think I won't fight him just because you're boning."

"Ew, Jordy," says Eric, making a face.

"You should just avoid the crap and bring us cookies, man," says Cam.

"Yeah, cookies!" adds Jeff helpfully and enthusiastically.

"Oh my God, I'm captain of a team of six year-olds," groans Eric. "I mean, obviously Jeff is a child, but Cam, Jordy, I expected better of you."

"Hey!" says Jeff.

"You did not," adds Jordy, flicking him with a towel.

"You really didn't," says Cam, smirking.

"You're all morons," says Eric.

 

He goes for lunch with Cam, Jordy and a few other guys after practice, and then heads back to Jordy's place to hang out for a bit. They wind up Skyping their parents and getting takeout, so by the time Eric makes it home Alex is already asleep. It kind of sucks that they missed each other, but also Eric is a little bit stupidly glad that Alex stayed to begin with.

He's asleep in Eric's bed, and he stirs when Eric climbs in next to him, rolling onto his back and mumbling, "Want sex?"

Eric thinks about it, because it's not like he ever doesn't want to have sex with Alex. "I'm okay," he says in the end though, because Alex has a ridiculously early start and they have plenty of time. "I was hanging out with Jordy. Our mom called."

Alex hums. "Nice lady," he says, nodding. "But maybe not sexy."

Eric snorts and chuckles quietly. "Definitely not," he mumbles, curling an arm over Alex's waist. "Go back to sleep."

 

He wakes with Alex in the morning-- or well, if you can call any time of day when it's still pitch-black morning-- but he figures he can go back to sleep a few more hours once Alex is gone. It's an easy enough compromise, to spend a little more time with him.

Alex makes noises about messing up his schedule, but Eric silences him with a firm, wet kiss, and keeps him quiet with a blowjob. He is quiet, too; Alex doesn't make a lot of noise during sex, fisting his hands in Eric's hair and arching his neck back, strained and gorgeous, but Eric still likes to hear the broken little hitches in his breathing, the way he murmurs, "Da, da," like he doesn't even know he's doing it, clenching and unclenching his hands, stroking his thumbs over Eric's temples. Eventually he'll say, "близко, Eric, близко," and Eric doesn't know the literal translation, but he knows it means Alex is about to come. He pulls off enough that he can taste it when Alex shoots in his mouth, swallowing, and mouths gently at the head of his dick, bringing him down, until Alex shudders and goes totally boneless beneath his hands, groaning.

"Kill me," he mumbles. "Come."

He tugs Eric up over him and grins, so fucking bright, and Eric has to duck in to kiss him, lifting a hand to push the sweaty strands of hair from his forehead even as he rubs off desperately against Alex's hip. Alex hums encouragingly, palming over his ass and up along his back, arching up to meet him, give him more friction, more of his sweat-damp, hard-muscled chest.

"Okay?" gasps Eric, tucking his face into Alex's neck. He knows he must be sensitive. "Are you-- "

"Good," says Alex. "Very good, I give you hand, make better."

He nudges a hand between them and curls it around Eric's dick, which makes Eric groan, long and loud, and he adjusts his rhythm to fit the movement of Alex's wrist.

It doesn't take him long; he was already so worked up from sucking Alex off, and pretty soon he's coming all over Alex's hand and chest, gasping wetly into his skin.

"Mmm," says Alex when Eric rolls to the side, trailing a hand absently through the jizz on his chest. Eric just stares like a moron, because fuck, that's hot. "Best way to start day."

"Definitely," agrees Eric, throwing him a smile. "Breakfast?"

"You offer, or ask me to make?" says Alex, smirking.

Eric laughs. "Either," he says. "Want me to try pancakes?"

Alex wrinkles his nose. "Not today," he says. "Start day good with sex, don't want to ruin with burned pancake."

"Hey," says Eric, elbowing him as he sits up.

"No lie, no angry," says Alex brightly, grinning as he ducks into the bathroom.

Eric smiles stupidly at the ceiling.

 

"So hey," says Eric as he sits at the counter with his coffee, watching Alex cook the pancakes. "Um. I should probably tell you-- my parents are coming down next week, just for a few days."

Alex turns and blinks at him slowly. "Want me to go away?" he says. "Hide?"

"What?" says Eric, genuinely taken aback. "No, of course not. I-- I'd like you to meet them, actually, if-- but you don't have to. Like, I won't mind. Just if you want."

Alex looks at him quietly for a long moment, then says, ducking his head and shrugging, "Would like. If want."

"Of course," says Eric. Something clenches a little in his chest, like-- wow. Alex is going to meet his parents. Alex wants to meet his parents. That's kind of huge and-- and serious, and he doesn't even care, is mainly just really happy.

"They stay with you or brother?" says Alex.

"Me, obviously," says Eric.

"Why obvious?" says Alex, smirking.

"Because my house is better," says Eric. "Plus I'm the oldest, and also their favourite."

Alex rolls his eyes. "Parents have no favourite, not allowed," he says.

"I'm totally their favourite," says Eric.

Alex points sternly with the spatula. "No," he says. "But is okay, you my favourite."

"Well, good." Eric laughs. "It'd be weird if Jordy was your favourite."

 

Eric has the afternoon free, so he tells Alex to come back to his place after work. When he opens the door to let him in Alex looks a bit...worried, maybe, lines on his forehead and a small frown playing about the corners of his mouth.

"Hey," says Eric. "Are you-- "

"Your mama," Alex cuts across, scrubbing a harried hand through his hair, "She like chocolate? Red wine?"

"Um," says Eric. "Does anyone not like them?"

"Not ask anyone," says Alex sternly, poking his chest. "Ask your mama."

"Yes, she likes chocolate and red wine," says Eric obediently. "Why? What are you making? And more importantly, do I get any?"

"No," says Alex. "Present for her, not you."

"Oh," says Eric sadly, and Alex's mouth twitches.

"Maybe I make for you first," he allows. "Can tell me if she will like."

"Awesome," says Eric, grinning.

Alex rolls his eyes.

 

Alex meeting his parents goes pretty great in the end, in Eric's opinion.

He starts out a bit tense and painfully polite, but Eric doesn't think he's biased or anything when he says his parents are pretty chill, and soon enough Alex is relaxed, smiling down at his plate a lot over lunch and pressing his knee to Eric's under the table while he talks.

Eric is-- well, there's a weird tightness in his chest the entire time, watching the way Alex ducks his head whenever he speaks, hair falling into his eyes, the slight flush in his cheeks whenever anything about their actual relationship comes up, the way he's so careful with his English.

His fingers are restless the entire time, fiddling with his cutlery and the edge of the table, strong and gorgeous, and Eric spends an inordinate amount of time resisting the urge to reach out and tangle their hands together, reassure him a bit, even if he's probably doing it unconsciously.

It hits him just before they're finished that he actually can, and he spares a self-deprecating eyeroll before he does, stroking his thumb over Alex's knuckles and not immune to a blush of his own when his mom flicks her gaze to their hands and quirks a tiny, knowing smile.

Alex makes a batch of stupidly amazing red wine and chocolate cupcakes (seriously, he delivered on the promised test-batch for Eric, and Eric's already decided to send the leftovers home with his parents, or he will eat them all), and Eric's positive that if his parents didn't already like him, they'd do the trick. His mom looks super impressed and makes Alex promise to send her the recipe, and Alex looks such a stupidly earnest combination of pleased and relieved.

He doesn't stay over while Eric's parents are there, even though Eric tries to explain it's not like they don't already know they're dating. Alex just shakes his head though and says something about being polite, which makes Eric roll his eyes, and then he presses in and kisses Eric stupid, throwing him a brilliant smile before he heads out the door.

 

It's heading into November at this stage, and Eric starts thinking about how Alex is going back to Russia for Christmas, which is fair enough-- he'd planned the trip before he'd even met Eric-- but which also sucks, because well. Eric kind of likes having him around.

It feels-- Eric doesn't want to send him off with just nothing, is the thing, which is possibly stupid, since it's not like Alex is going forever or doesn't have a job and a home to come back to.

Alex met his parents though, which is something that-- it feels kind of serious, not that it didn't before, with how much Eric just likes him, but it makes it more palpably obvious, and it's not like Eric can go with him to Russia right now to do the same, so he tries to think of something else.

It's actually not that hard to think of something, which is unexpected. Alex is still trying to teach him to bake, with limited success-- partly because, much as he knows what he's doing, Alex probably isn't the best person to teach Eric, since Eric keeps getting distracted by his everything and only catching half the things he says, or accidentally creaming the butter so long one time it separates and they have to start again. The other part is just that Eric kind of sucks at baking.

Which is why he thinks it would be cool to surprise Alex with something good.

The problem is there's no way he can achieve that without some kind of professional guidance.

He can't ask Alex, obviously, since he wants it to be a surprise, so in the end he goes into Alex's bakery on a day he knows Alex isn't working, and approaches one of his coworkers.

The dude has Geno pinned on a nametag to his chest, and Eric clears his throat as he approaches the counter. "Uh," he says. "Hi?"

"Alex not here," says Geno immediately, mouth twitching.

"No, I know," says Eric, flushing. "I, uh, I was hoping to talk to you?"

Geno's brow creases in confusion. "Problem with Alex?" he says after a moment.

"What? No, I-- no, definitely not," says Eric. "I just-- I need some help with something?"

Geno just keeps looking at him curiously.

"I, uh, you probably know he's going back to Russia soon, and I wanted-- I want to do something nice for him before he goes, so I thought I could try making this pastry he likes, you sell it here, but I-- the problem is I don't really know how to bake. At all."

Geno's face clears then, and he looks very much like he's trying not to laugh. "You want help?" he says, and Eric nods vigorously.

"Is that-- would you mind? I can pay you, if it's too much with your hours, or."

Geno shakes his head. "No pay, is nice thing, happy to help," he says. He leans on the counter, tilting his head. "Maybe do one thing for me. Small thing."

"Sure," says Eric.

"I help, you get me Sidney Crosby's number," says Geno.

Eric blinks, opening and closing his mouth silently. He's not sure what he thought Geno was going to request, but it definitely wasn't that. It's weird, maybe, but he really needs the help, and Geno seems like an okay dude, so he shrugs and says, "Okay. I'll ask my brother."

Geno smiles brightly. "Da, good," he says. "You come back, same time next week, I teach."

"Great," says Eric. "Thanks. I really appreciate it."

"No problem," says Geno, slipping him a donut before he waves Eric out.

 

Eric sighs a lot at his life and tries to think if there's another way he can go about getting Sidney Crosby's number before he gives in and approaches Jordy. At least Jordy has some semblance of family loyalty and probably won't say anything to anyone.

Even if he will make fun of Eric mercilessly, but Eric's used to that.

Jordy just makes fish faces at him and says, "Why do you want Sid's number? There's no international games coming up."

"Secret captain business," says Eric. "Hand it over."

Jordy narrows his eyes suspiciously but hands over his phone.

"Don't you have it already anyway?" says Jordy. "Team Canada, dumbass."

"I don't know if I have his latest," says Eric, shrugging. "He finally got a new phone, didn't he?"

He doesn't want to give Geno a dud number, even though that might be smarter, but it feels kind of mean when Geno is doing him a pretty massive favour.

"I'm gonna find out what you're up to," says Jordy as Eric copies the number down.

It's a good thing he did check; the one he has in his own phone is clearly outdated.

"Sure," says Eric, passing back the phone.

"Loser," adds Jordy.

"Moron," says Eric, ruffling his hair.

 

"You're not gonna do anything creepy with it, are you?" he say the following week when he passes the number over to Geno.

Geno just smiles brightly and says, "Not creepy! Ask Alex."

Eric supposes it's okay, anyway, because Alex would've mentioned any overly creepy coworkers by now. As far as Eric knows he's good friends with all of them; actually got Geno the job at the bakery when Geno decided a few months after Alex to move to America as well.

Eric's pretty sure they went to pastry school together or something.

Geno tucks the slip of paper into his pocket and says, "Okay, come learn."

He leads Eric to the kitchen, where he's already got a bunch of stuff set up for the pastry Eric told him he wanted to learn: Alex's favourite, the one he gave Eric the first time they met.

He's a really good teacher, as it happens. For something that's so outwardly simple, it turns out there are a lot of tricks to remember: letting the dough proof for the right amount of time (twice, and for different lengths), making sure not to over-handle the dough, getting the temperature of the oil precisely right, frying the pastries just enough. A lot of fine lines.

Geno is really patient, but he isn't afraid to guide Eric either, tell him what he's doing wrong.

They have time to talk a bit while the dough is rising. Geno is teaching him to make the jam for the filling as well, since he'd made horrified faces when Eric suggested just using store-bought.

It doesn't require quite as much concentration or technicality though, and Geno explains the whole thing with Sid a little as Eric stirs the jam. Or well, he just smiles enigmatically and says, "I think, if Alex get to meet, go out with hockey player he like, why not me? But Sidney Crosby not here, so need number."

Eric nods slowly and says, "Fair enough," and then, "Wait, did Alex-- he liked me before?" It's-- it's a kind of awesome thought, but he wouldn't know, because Alex, he realises, hasn't really talked much at all about his feelings, before he met Eric or otherwise.

Geno's mouth curls into a smirk. "Maybe," he says. "Ask."

 

"Hey," says Jordy in the locker room a couple days later. "Is Alex coming to Thanksgiving? We need to know numbers."

"Uh," says Eric. "I don't know? I'll ask him later."

"Cool," says Jordy. "By the way, Sid wants to know why some Russian dude keeps sending him pictures of cakes."

Eric blinks guiltily. "...At least it's not his dick?" he tries.

"Ugh," says Jordy. "I knew you were up to something."

"It was a favour, okay, I needed his help and I couldn't ask Alex."

"Why?" says Jordy blankly.

"None of your business," says Eric.

"Oh God," says Jordy, making a face, "It's not some kind of weird sex stuff, is it? 'Cause I will disown you, I don't care what mom says."

Eric groans. "This is possibly the grossest conversation I've ever had with you," he says.

"I'm just saying," says Jordy, holding up his hands.

"Well, don't," says Eric. "Ever."

Jordy just smirks at him, the asshole.

 

Eric goes to the bakery for lunch after practice, since Alex is working and he has the time.

He's in the kitchen when Eric gets there, mixing the dough for some kind of Russian Danish.

"Is not Danish," says Alex, for possibly the hundredth time since Eric met him. "How can be Danish if Russian? Learn proper name."

"I tried, and you laughed at me," Eric points out.

"Ah." Alex nods, smirking. "I remember. Terrible. Too American for good Russian."

"I'm Canadian," says Eric, and Alex just smirks harder, the asshole. "And what does that mean?"

"This," says Alex, indicating Eric's general person.

"Oh yeah?" says Eric with a smirk of his own, rounding the counter to put his hands on Alex's hips and push him away from his work, pressing in and kissing him hard.

Alex makes a noise into his mouth, flour and dough-coated hands held out to the sides.

"Cheat," murmurs Alex. "You want clothes all dirty?"

"You wouldn't," says Eric. "You're too nice."

Alex grins against his lips and puts his hands on Eric's face, stroking hard with his thumbs and pushing his fingertips into Eric's hair. "Not so nice," he breathes.

Eric groans, because he likes when Alex puts his hands in his hair, and whispers, "Asshole. I just showered," but not actually making any effort to break away.

"Shower again," says Alex, shrugging.

"Yeah?" murmurs Eric, stroking his thumbs over Alex's hipbones and biting down on his jaw. "You gonna come with me?" He pushes his thigh between Alex's legs for emphasis.

Alex does twist away from him then, breathing hard. His lips are very red, a little swollen, gorgeous. Eric makes an annoyed sound and reaches for him again.

"No," says Alex sternly, darting away and pointing at him. "Go, before have to clean whole place."

Eric laughs. "I'll help you clean," he offers, tilting his head.

"Go," says Alex again, rolling his eyes.

"Fine." Eric sighs, put-upon. "But only if you save one of those for me." He gestures to the half-finished pastries.

"Is bribe, not good," says Alex, biting back a grin.

"You gotta do what you gotta do for cake," says Eric, shrugging.

Alex steps forward and drags a floured-up hand down the front of Eric's shirt, from collar to hem, nails catching deliciously. Eric shivers and whispers, "I hate you."

"Lie," says Alex, smirking, and goes back to the work bench.

"Yeah," says Eric helplessly, watching him. "Oh," he adds after a moment, pressing up behind Alex with his arms around his waist, which makes Alex groan, "I forgot to ask, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?"

Alex turns his head. "American holiday?" he says, and Eric nods. "Not celebrate in Russia," says Alex. "No plan."

"Wanna come to Jordy's place with me?"

"Sure is okay?" says Alex carefully.

"Of course," says Eric. "He asked."

"Oh." Alex bites down on his lip, looking pleased. "Yes, then I come."

"Good," says Eric softly, pressing a kiss below his ear before he lets him go.

 

Eric shuffles into his kitchen the morning of Thanksgiving and finds Alex already there, putting the finishing touches on an obscenely delicious-looking pumpkin pie.

He shoots Eric a quick smile when he notices him and then goes back to his work, hair falling into his eyes, tongue tucked between his teeth in concentration.

Eric swallows, because just-- he can't-- he's so happy, he realises, in a quiet but no less awesome or overwhelming way. They're going to Jordy's place later, Alex is standing in his warm kitchen wearing nothing but boxers and an old t-shirt, and Eric just-- he kind of loves him.

"Fuck," he says hoarsely, because it's not like he didn't know, exactly, but there's a difference between that slow creeping feeling you can't name and this, between knowing and knowing.

Alex looks at him curiously, brow furrowed, and Eric shakes his head helplessly and just marches forward to manhandle him hard up against the fridge, kissing him stupid.

Alex makes a surprised noise against his mouth and grabs onto his shoulders, melting against Eric and just letting himself be ravished a little. Fuck, Eric is so into him he can't even fathom it sometimes.

"Good morning," says Alex breathlessly when Eric lets up, grinning. "Special kiss for special day?"

"No," says Eric, thumbing over Alex's wet bottom lip. "No, just you."

Alex's face goes warm and soft, and he tugs Eric into another kiss, slower and wetter and deeper, licking inside and taking over some control of the pace, digging his fingers in hard above Eric's shoulder blades, making him shudder and grind a little with his hips.

"We have sex now," says Alex firmly. "Then shower, go see Jordy. Lucky I finish pie already. You no good for baking, too distract."

Eric laughs. "I don't know, you get a lot of baking done in my kitchen," he says.

Alex nudges him lightly. "Only because you say 'Alex, no sex unless cake.'"

Eric snorts and leans in to bite down on his bottom lip. "I like cake," he whispers. "I like you more though. You should fuck me. Like, now, I mean."

Alex blinks at him, looking dazed. "Da," he says, nodding fast. "Yes, good."

Eric grins and grabs his hand to drag him back upstairs.

 

"Oh my God," groans Eric, pushing his chair back from the table and slumping down so his legs are stretched out. He's so full, it's kind of ridiculous. He's sure the spread this year looked no bigger than previous ones, but he must've been wrong, because he's dying.

Jordy throws a pea at him. "You're getting soft," he says.

"I am not," retorts Eric weakly. "That turkey had at least a pound on last year's."

"It's exactly the same size, dumbass," says Jordy. "You're the one who's older. Weaker."

"Fuck you," says Eric eloquently. "I'm totally crashing here tonight. I can't move."

"You are not," says Jordy. "If you crash you'll make Alex stay as well, and I am not listening to my brother have sex in my own house. No offence," he adds for Alex's benefit.

"Stop commenting on my sex life all the time, it's creepy," says Eric, making a face.

"Stop having a sex life, it's gross," says Jordy, smirking and throwing another pea.

"What, and you having one isn't?" says Eric.

"We change subject now, da?" says Alex, but he's laughing, shaking his head.

"You have the best ideas, baby," says Eric sweetly and entirely to piss Jordy off.

"Gross," says Jordy.

Alex just pokes Eric's stomach, which is a total foul play. He groans again, hugging his arms protectively around himself. "All of you stop it," he says.

"You want some more pie?" says Jordy, grinning.

"Fuck you," says Eric.

 

He does make it back to his place, eventually, when it's starting to get late and he feels a little less like he might explode or puke the second he moves.

Alex laughs at him the entire way, pushing and nudging him straight to bed, but he makes up for it by sucking Eric off slow and sweet, and then leaning over him after and whispering, "You watch, too tired to help," and Eric says, "Fuck off," but doesn't actually argue, because he gets to watch Alex jerk off over him, slow and gorgeous, dragging it out just for Eric, mouth shocked open and hair falling in his eyes. Afterwards he presses into Eric's side under the covers, warm and sweaty, and Eric sighs, tired and content and really, really happy.

 

It's a rushed run-up to Alex leaving after Thanksgiving. Eric has a crazy game schedule and Alex is flat-out at the bakery; it's their busiest time of year, plus he's working more shifts to make up for the time he'll be away.

Eric decides to do the pastry thing the last time he'll see Alex before he leaves, since it's a going-away thing anyway. Or well, partly a going away thing.

He thinks-- hopes-- it'll be a nice gesture for Alex to take with him, anyway.

The other part is just-- well, Eric kind of wants to say something, and maybe it's chickenshit, but he doesn't want to be the only one saying it. He thinks maybe doing it this way will make it more likely that Alex might actually respond out loud. It's so obvious, and also simple, easy.

Then he feels immediately guilty, because that's-- that's not what saying you love someone is supposed to be about. If you love someone you should tell them whether or not you think you'll hear it back, and you should trust that they feel the same either way. But well, that's a lot easier in theory than practice, even if Alex is so awesome.

He starts to feel a little anxious, too, as the weeks pass, and increasingly uncertain. It's not that Eric doesn't trust him, and he knows Alex wouldn't ever hurt him on purpose. Hell, he even knows that Alex is pretty fucking into this, because his smile never anything but genuine.

He also knows, though, that being into something isn't the same as being in love.

He kind of wishes now that he'd spend a little less time dwelling on how he feels and how to show it, and more trying to figure out exactly how into this whole thing Alex is. He's just sort of always felt like Alex was right there with him, but thinking it through now, maybe that was wrong.

Maybe he's getting way ahead of himself.

This might've been a pretty terrible idea, actually. Especially since he's left it until right before Alex is going away. It's just such an obvious gesture, and if it goes balls-up he won't have time to fix things before Alex has to go, and he doesn't want to leave things on a weird or bad note, because then he'll have a miserable Christmas, and nevermind that, but if it really goes to shit, Alex might end up doing something like-- like staying in Russia and never coming back.

That would be the worst, just-- so fucking not okay, Eric can't really breathe thinking about it.

He's had the ingredients hidden in a cupboard Alex never uses for a week, at this point, and he's halfway through fucking up the initial creaming, a day ahead of when he's planning to give the pastries to Alex. Eric stops abruptly, breathing kind of hard, and picks up his phone to call Jordy.

"Jordy," he says, "I'm freaking out."

"Jesus," says Jordy heavily.

"I just," says Eric helplessly, "Do you think Alex likes me?"

"Are you fucking serious," says Jordy flatly.

"He's never said anything!" says Eric. "Or well, he said I was his favourite one time, but we were just kidding around. I don't-- I can't-- I don't want to scare him off, 'cause I-- you know. And if he doesn't I won't have time to fix it before he leaves and then he could stay in Russia!"

"Dude," says Jordy, "Even you can't be dumb enough to not realise he's as into you as you're into him, and I know you're totally in love. It's gross."

"Oh," says Eric, breathing out and going warm. "Really? Are you sure?"

"Yes really, you fucking moron," says Jordy moodily.

Eric sighs, making a face at himself. He thinks about all the quiet moments with Alex, the way Alex looks at him, the way he smiles, the things he does. The way he cared so much about meeting Eric's family, for fuck's sake. Jordy is almost definitely right, and Eric feels kind of guilty for freaking out in the first place, and also pretty excessively stupid. Alex is so great, so easy, so with Eric. He's never had to question it, and he's accidentally turned this whole thing into a much bigger deal than it ever needed to be. God, he's so dumb. "Yeah, I guess you're right," he says. "I mean, he does act like it, I'm not blind, even if-- whatever. Sorry, just-- had a moment."

"You girl," says Jordy fondly. "Look, I don't know what you're doing and I don't wanna know, but just-- quit freaking out like a pussy and go for it, okay? Trust me on this. He loves you."

"Loser," says Eric. "Okay. I gotta go, but uh, thanks. Really."

"Yeah, yeah," says Jordy, and hangs up.

Eric shakes his head, clenching his jaw like that's going to stop any more freaking out and getting back to work.

 

"It's open!" he calls when Alex knocks on his door the next day, stepping back from the kitchen counter and eyeing the pastries critically.

He sighs. They don't look as perfect as the ones at the bakery, but they'll have to do. He scrubs a nervous hand through his hair and looks up as Alex appears in the doorway, smiling.

"Hi," he says.

"Hello," says Alex, blinking at the pastries. He takes a step forward. "You make?"

"I-- yeah," says Eric. "For, um. For you."

Alex just stares at them for so long Eric gets anxious and starts second-guessing this all over again. "Is it weird?" he says, biting down on his lip. "I thought it would be nice before you go and like, I wanted you to know that I-- that I really like you, um, kind of love you, actually, and these are your favourite, you said, and also the one you gave me the first time we met, but if it's weird we can just-- we can just eat them or throw them out or whatever, it's no big deal. Like, I don't want to freak you out, if you-- if you don't, you know. Want it to mean anything special, or like, if this is too fast, or if you don't like me as much as I-- "

He stops talking, thank God, although only because Alex strides forward and slaps a hand over his mouth.

"Quiet," he says firmly, and Eric nods, eyes wide.

Alex lowers his hand carefully, pulling his bottom lip between his teeth. "I-- " he says, and then cuts himself off, looking frustrated. "My English," he tries again, shaking his head. "I know is bad, but I try to show-- " He puts a hand on the side of Eric's neck. "I like," he says softly. "Love. Very much."

"Oh," says Eric hoarsely. "I mean, no, I'm dumb, you did show me, I know you like me, you're great, but I just-- I guess I didn't want to assume too much? You're going back to Russia and I didn't want to misunderstand how much you-- maybe you were just being nice, I don't know."

Alex rolls his eyes. "I tell you," he says. "Not so nice."

"You're really nice, actually," whispers Eric, smiling and leaning in to kiss him.

Alex tastes like smoke and coffee and a little bit of sugar, and it's not something Eric ever thought he'd be into, but he is, just like he's into Alex, all of him. He kisses Eric deep and wet and messy, putting his whole body behind it, fingers digging into the sides of Eric's neck.

"Will miss," he says when he pulls back, flushed gorgeously and breathing hard.

Eric ducks his head to press their foreheads together. "Me too," he says.

Alex huffs a little laugh and rolls his eyes. "Stupid," he says. "Not so long."

"Long enough," says Eric, shrugging.

"Should come, then no problem," says Alex, smiling with one corner of his mouth crooked.

"Next time," says Eric. "I mean it. I-- I'd like to."

Alex pulls his bottom lip between his teeth, just looking at him. He gets that expression like he does when he's trying to figure out how to say something in English, and then says, slowly, "Is good to hear. Means much. You mean much. Love, da?"

Eric's heart stutters a little, and he leans in to press their mouths together again, because it's easier and probably more eloquent than anything he could actually say.