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Smell of Home

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Vinnie paused in the doorway of their shared apartment. It felt ages since he’d walked through the entranceway and saw the familiar hallway. Being sent back to Rockford’s had made sense but leaving Ryan had actually hurt. Taking a deep breath he savoured the innately Ryan-ness of the apartment. It was a scent he knew anywhere, a scent he could pick out in a manic locker room, it was scent he knew as well as his own. Soft hints of oriental spices mixed with the tempting splash of sandalwood to create Ryan’s base scent. But on top of that, he could pick up traces of apple and cinnamon and that made him grin like a loon. Because that scent meant Ryan was happy and there was nothing he loved more than a happy Ryan.

Kicking his shoes off, he made his way through the apartment towards the far end. He could hear Ryan pottering around in the kitchen, and as he rounded the corner he saw a sight that he hadn’t seen in ages. Ryan leaning against the counter, carefully peeling a potato, his tongue just visible between his lips as he took care of the prep. Letting his eyes roam over his mate’s frame, he took another deep sniff and frowned. Now that he was closer there was another scene present, an unfamiliar woodsy scent that made him want to growl and grab Ryan and mark him up as his own.

He opened his mouth to demand an explanation but Ryan beat him to it. Turning to lean seductively against the counter, his hip thrust out invitingly, Ryan explained with a wicked grin, “Hoss gave me the t-shirt, so stop growling and get over here.”

Vinnie glared at him, then as Ryan cocked an eyebrow he couldn’t help the wry snigger and hissed fondly, ”You knew I’d smell him and….” His voice faded into an amused growl.

Ryan’s eat shit grin, plus the spike of citrusy delight in the otherwise spicy undertones told Vinnie more than words alone ever could.

Shaking his head, he closed the gap between them and slipping his hands around the all too familiar hips, he sighed, “You are such hard work at times.”

“But I’m worth it,” breathed Ryan, his nostrils visibly flaring as he breathed in Vinnie’s scent.

Vinnie loved watching the effect his scent had on his mate, loved watching the way the dark eyes flashed with desire and the way Ryan melted against him, their bodies fitting together so perfectly it was as if they were made for each other. He leant in, rubbing his cheek against Ryan’s, brushing his lips against the edge of Ryan’s face before pulling back a moment to stare at his mate.

Ryan gazed back at him, silent for a moment before breathing, “Say something then…”

“Missed you,” replied Vinnie, his voice thick with emotion. Then before he could stop himself he was kissing him. As their lips pressed together, their scents mingled together. The flood of warm cinnamon that overwhelmed the rest of Ryan’s scent was the headiest aroma Vinnie had ever experience. Tightening his grip, he pulled Ryan even closer, their bodies crushed tougher as he sought to reclaim every inch of his mate.

A sharp beeping force them apart, and as Ryan wriggled out of the embrace, Vinnie slumped against the counter and asked, “What ya doin?”

“Cooking,” replied Ryan cockily not even bothering to turn around.

“Smart arse,” huffed Vinnie, “I meant what you are making?”

“Kinda your favourite,” explained Ryan, “Lamb steaks but with a twist.”

Vinnie started at him in disbelief then asked, “You, you did this for me?”

“Well sure,” replied Ryan glancing over his shoulder, “I, I wanted to, well you know, and …well Hoss said, he suggested, Jana gave me the recipe and…”

Vinnie cocked his head at him, then as it dawned in him what Ryan was trying to say he murmured, “You asked him for help, didn’t you?”

Ryan ducked his head and busied himself with turning the lamb steaks over in the marinade and basically ignoring Vinnie. Taking a quick sniff Vinnie frowned. A hint of bitter ash had creeped into Ryan’s scent and he hated that smell. Ryan only ever smelt of ash when he was stressed and upset and that was the last thing he wanted to be scenting right then.

Moving so he could mould himself against Ryan’s back, Vinnie pressed a kiss the back of his neck, just beneath then hair line and murmured against the warm skin, “Thank you.” When Ryan didn’t respond, he added, “So proud of you, Babe. You’ve been so good without me here. Going to Hossa for help, playing amazingly, and now this,” he paused and pressed another kiss to the warm skin, loving the burst of rich cinnamon that flooded the air, “So fucking proud.”

Ryan gave a happy little whine and leant back into the embrace, one hand sliding around to caress Vinnie’s hip and he sighed, “Missed you so much, Vin. Been so lonely without you.”

Vinnie closed his eyes and pressed his face against the thick dark curls and sighed. He hated being separated from Ryan, hated it more than words could say. But in some way it made coming home all the sweeter and made every moment they did get to share even more precious. Fighting hard not to simply drag his mate out of the kitchen and up into the bedroom, he gave a long low sigh and mouthing at the base of Ryan’s neck he asked, ”Need a hand getting the ready?”

Ryan laughed, a warm happy chuckle that made Vinnie shiver with delight, and replied, “Yup you are on salad duty.” He pulled away putting a little space between them and grabbing the salad bowl he turned and thrust it in Vinnie’s arms teasing, “Even you can’t mess up a salad.”

Vinnie swore at him then burst out laughing. Still chucking & swearing he took the bowl and moving to the side counter he pulled the salad box towards him, more than content to chop the lettuce while Ryan prepared the rest of the welcome home dinner. Because there really was nothing he loved more than the delighted scent of a happy Ryan mixing with the smell of home cooking.