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Blitzen's Best was open Monday through Friday, ten to seven, as Blitz had learned that no one came in early in the morning. The hours encompassed both daylight and evening, for any species that might want to come in. Business had been brisk, thanks to Odin's recommendations, and Blitz usually found himself working late into the night on the latest commissions.

Before he closed up the shop for the night and went to bed, he always glanced over at the tanning bed he'd put in at the back, just in case.

He's training, he told himself. It's where he needs to be. What he's always dreamed of.

It was good for them to spend a little time apart, anyway. They'd spent years taking care of Magnus, and before that they'd been bound together in other ways. They needed to be themselves. Have their own identities, their own lives.

So Blitz missed him, a little. That was all right. He didn't have to--their worlds didn't have to revolve around each other. And the business was what Blitz had always dreamed of. He wouldn't know the first thing to do with a rune, and Odin was still kind of creepy, and he had plenty of other things to do and...and he missed Hearth so damn much. It was an ache he could never get rid of.

He had no right to expect Hearth to come back, or even stay in Boston. Their work was done, the debt paid. It was over, all over, and just because he had a few good memories and some dreams--

"Don't be ridiculous," he muttered to himself. He belonged to the dark and Hearth lived in the light. He had everything he'd dreamt of: respect, his shop, Hearth's friendship, Magnus. So much more than Blitz could have asked for. No right. No right to want anything more.

Telling himself that didn't ever seem to help.

He was locking the back door when there was a flash of light behind him. He turned, ready to defend himself, ready for anything--

Some welcome, Hearth signed. He looked--

He looked pale, and lovely, and his clothes were rumpled, and Blitz had never seen anything so beautiful in his life.

Blitz still had his hand thrown up to protect his face.

Like teleportation? Can't do too often, but-- Hearth shrugged. You okay?

He wasn't. Surprised, he managed, sorting through his mental library for the right line.

Hearth smiled. You knew I'd come back.

"I did?" Blitz caught himself, and started signing it.

Hearth caught his hands, shook his head. He leaned down so their foreheads touched, and stayed there, very still, for a little while.

Blitz felt his heart pounding.

Hearth let go and lifted a hand to Blitz's face, taking his chin. With his free hand he signed. I to his chest, index finger to his own chin. I miss--

Blitz signed Missed you too.

Hearth tipped Blitz's chin up and Blitz surged forward, and their teeth almost knocked together, but it didn't matter, because Hearth was back and maybe, maybe, Hearth was his. Hearth pushed him against the back door, kissing him hard, his hands--

And then, like a switch being flipped, the strength seemed to leave Hearth; Blitz had to catch him before he hit the floor.

Sorry, Hearth said, his weight familiar in Blitz's arms. Teleportation--too much.

You have to be careful, Blitz chided, wrapping his arm around Hearth's shoulders and helping him to his feet.

Had to see you.

Blitz swallowed past the lump in his throat. Collapse on me, you mean.

Take care of me. Hearth signed. Like always.

That didn't help that damn lump at all. What you need?

Just rest. Take me home?

Blitz held up his finger and drew a circle in the air. Always.


Hearth insisted on walking up the stairs to Blitz's Midgard apartment over the store, but he leaned most of his weight on Blitz as they walked. Too stubborn, that was the problem with Hearth. Hearth would say Blitz was the stubborn one, but Blitz knew better.

Nice place, Hearth signed. Very you.

That was awfully close to a compliment for Hearthstone. You can stay with me when you're in Midgard. If you want.

Hearth gave him a lazy, slow kiss. Maybe that was yes.

Blitz walked him to the bed. He was wearing the scarf Blitz had given him ages ago, and Blitz unwound it slowly, deliberately. It wasn't sexy, at least it didn't feel sexy, but Hearth didn't seem to mind. Hearth was smiling at him like he'd hung the damn moon, and Blitz wasn't sure when the last time he'd seen anything so beautiful.

Hearth sat on the edge of the mattress and kicked his shoes off. Kiss me again?

Blitz didn't have to be asked twice. Hearth reached up and tangled his hands in Blitz's hair, and Blitz kissed Hearth's neck, almost falling as they dropped on the mattress together. He could smell the pine tang of Hearth's sweat. Every doubt Blitz had had for the past month was rushing away, erased by Hearth's eager touch. Blitz tried to sit up, to tell Hearth how beautiful he was, how happy he was, but Hearth kept him trapped, pulling him closer over and over again, kissing and kissing him until they were both shaking. Finally, Hearth let him move back enough to sign.

Don't push yourself, he signed. Please.

Hearth shook his head. He stroked Blitz's cheek and smiled again. Feel good.

Blitz pressed his lips to Hearth's again, more gently this time, and Hearth laughed against his kisses. He was beautiful, so beautiful. He pulled Blitz's tie loose, unbuttoned his vest (dark plum silk, subtle brocade, delicate chainmail lining). Missed you every day.

Me too.

Hearth stroked his face again. Won't have to leave for a while.


How is business?

Blitz laughed. Good.


Good. Need to visit.

Hearth nodded. Later. Right now--

Yes, Blitz said, and pulled Hearth back into his arms.