Tuukka had decided not to go home for the Christmas break since they only had the three days off. He’d spend more time on the plane than visiting with his family and the way his season had been going so far he didn’t want to take the chance of not making it back in time for their game on the twenty-seventh.
Some friends had invited him to come to a Christmas Eve party so he showered and changed into some nicer clothes than the sweats he’d been lounging around in all day. He grabbed his jacket and left his apartment at a quarter to six.
“Pasta?” he said stopping short on seeing his teammate sitting on the floor next to the elevator, a Styrofoam takeout container in his hands.
The younger man opened his eyes and looked up. “Tuukka?” he said looking confused. “What are you doing here?”
“I live here,” Tuukka pointed out. He crouched down next to Pasta who looked like a porcelain doll he was so pale. Tuukka pressed his hand to Pasta’s forehead.
“Oh,” Pasta said. “I must have given the cabbie the wrong address. I’ll go now.”
“Don’t be an idiot.” Tuukka helped him to his feet and into his apartment. “You’ve got a fever; what were you even doing out?”
“I needed soup,” Pasta said weakly, he lifted the container slightly as Tuukka got him settled on the couch, pulling his boots off and tossing a throw over him.
“I’ll put this in a bowl for you, okay,” Tuukka said carefully taking the container and heading for the kitchen.
“Okay,” Pasta agreed tiredly. “Tuukka?”
Tuukka stopped. “Yeah?”
“You look nice.”
Tuukka waited but that was apparently all Pasta had to say. “Thank you.” He went into the kitchen and opened the container. He wrinkled his nose. The soup smelled like cabbage, probably some type of borscht, and would probably make the entire apartment smell like cabbage but he carefully poured some into a bowl and popped it into the microwave anyway. He put the container into the fridge and turned the kettle on to boil before grabbing the bowl from the microwave and heading back to the living room.
Tuukka had only been gone for a few minutes but Pasta was already fast asleep. Tuukka set the bowl down on the coffee table and turned on the gas fireplace, curling up in an armchair. He sent a quick text to his friends to let them know he couldn’t make it and grabbed the book he’d started reading the other day.
Tuukka looked up, surprised that Pasta was awake. “Yeah?”
“Thanks for letting me stay. I didn’t really give the cabbie your address by mistake; I didn’t want to be home alone.”
Tuukka could understand that. “Why didn’t you just ask me to come to your place?”
Pasta looked embarrassed. “I wasn’t sure you would come.”
Tuukka shook his head, standing up as the kettle started to whistle. “Next time call me. I promise I’ll come.”
“Really?” Pasta asked hopefully and there was something in his expression that made Tuukka’s heart start to race.
“We’ll talk more tomorrow,” Tuukka said as the kettle’s whistling grew louder and more insistent. “Try to get some sleep now.” He hesitantly reached out and stroked Pasta’s tousled hair, getting a contented sigh in return. Pasta’s eyes drifted shut and Tuukka watched him for a moment before giving in to the tyranny of the kettle and hurrying to the kitchen to unplug it.