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I Couldn´t Have Wished for This

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It had been around 6 months since Tessa Virtue had sent in the letter for her now 3.5-year-old son and since she hadn´t heard anything for so long, she definitely did not expect the letter that she found in her mailbox today. She had just gotten back to her London house from her hectic job as a fashion designer for her small fashion company, when she was sorting through her mail and the letter struck her attention. The light blue envelope and the logo printed on the back immediately gave away who it was from and she stopped and dropped all the other mail that was waiting to be opened and tore open the envelope. The letter read:

 

Dear Miss Virtue,

It was with great admiration that we read your letter about your son Ethan and his battle. He is a great little fighter and is an inspiration to others in the same situation and to those of us who are lucky to be healthy. The strength and perseverance that Ethan exuded through his battle and the way you described how he took on this challenge touched our hearts and it is with great happiness that we were able to pass on your son´s wish to the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club and that they have informed us, that they will be in contact with you shortly. Both of us would also like to apologize for the extended amount of time that it took for us to respond.

The Head of the Leafs informed us that a package will be arriving a couple days after you receive this letter and that all further information for you and your son will be found in there. The foundation would love to be able to be a part of the adventures he will experience and would ask for permission to film the whole event. Please let us know how you feel about this.

We wish you and your son all the best for the future and above anything else, health and strength as you look forward to this new life and all the adventures you will go on.

Kind regards,

Kathy Lincoln.

 

Tessa put down the letter and started jumping up and down. She had totally given up on the idea that the foundation would reply to her son´s wish and now it was all coming true. She was happy about the fact that it had finally worked but was ecstatic about the fact that her son´s dream would be coming true and he would be able to meet his beloved Leafs. She couldn´t wait to see the smile on his face, the smile that for such a long time she wasn´t sure if she was going to be able to see for very much longer, but her boy, her little fighter had won his battle and now the two of them could move on with their lives. At that she tucked away the letter and grabbed her handbag and keys and ran out the door to pick her son up from kindergarten.

***

Tessa was waiting in the hallway for Ethan whilst texting her family about the news she had received. Her mom Kate and sister Jordan had been her rocks throughout the year in which she wasn´t sure if she would come out with or without her son and they had both known that Tessa had put in the application for the foundation. They were so happy for Ethan and Tessa knew that once his special day was over that she would somehow try and come up with an idea to thank them properly. Her two brothers were substantially older than Tessa was, but they were still somewhat close and whilst they had also helped her through that time, they also had families of their own and weren´t able to uproot and move their lives around as Jordan and Kate had. She was so caught up texting her family members that she didn´t see the small human running towards her. Only when something collided with her leg did she look up from her phone.

“Mommy,” Ethan cried as her wrapped his arms around her leg and gave her a tight hug. She immediately put her phone in her handbag and crouched down to get onto eye level with him.

“Hey E,” she said with a huge smile on her face, “did you have a great day at school?” she asked before scooping him up in her arms and peppering his tiny face with kisses.

Ethan wrapped his arms around her neck as they made their way out of the kindergarten, “yeah, we drawed and we sang songs,” he replied with so much joy in his voice that Tessa couldn´t help but hug his small body closer to his. If he was this excited about drawing and singing, how would he react when he received a package from the Leafs Tessa thought as she buckled him in his car seat and drove home with him, chatting all along the way about what he drew (hockey of course), what songs they sang, and most importantly what he wanted to eat this evening.

That night, after she had bathed him, read to him, and tucked him into his bed, she thought that even though it was only the two of them, that her life was pretty darn perfect in that moment. After a year that was definitely the worst of her live and one that could have ended not only the life of her son but quite frankly also her own, she was happy and content with the way their life was now playing out.


A couple of days later and a two-hour car drive from Tessa and Ethan´s home, the players of the Toronto Maple Leafs were sitting in their conference room in the Scotiabank arena. Their coach Mike Babcock, or ´Babsy´ as everyone lovingly called him, had just given them a short debrief on their previous game, a 4:1 win against the Boston Bruins, and a team talk about their next and upcoming game against the Ottawa Senators before he announced that he had an upcoming special occasion that he would like to talk to everyone about.

“Before everyone leaves for practice,” Babsy started, catching everyone’s attention, “I would like to talk to you guys about something that will be happening in a couple weeks. I´m sure most of you have heard of the Make a Wish Foundation.” Most of the players nod their heads. “Well last week the foundation reached out to the club and me and told us about a special kid who´s a major fan and whose wish it is to meet us.”

At the back of the room 29-year-old Scott Moir was sitting and listening attentively. He had been with the Leafs for about 7 years now and as of this season was also given the major role of captain. Before that he had only been playing in smaller Canadian leagues and it was only by chance that Babsy discovered him at a charity game where firefighters played each other, as before becoming an NHL player he was a firefighter. He had made such a strong impression on Babsy that after a practice session the coach and club had decided to sign him. It was a very unusual thing to happen and caused an outcry through the hockey league but that didn´t stop Scott from training his hardest and giving his everything in each and every game. And the unusual signing had proved a success. Scott quickly grew to become one of the best players in the game and a top scorer. He had become known as a more mellow player, though he did have occasional outbursts and when you got to know him better, he came out of his shell a lot more and was a lot louder and full of energy. His teammates had also dubbed him the ladies’ man of the team. It was no secret that he was one of the best-looking guys in the league with his sleek brown hair and hazel eyes. Most of the female fans were after him and although he wasn´t in a relationship, he never took it up with any of the ladies that would approach him, much to his teammates surprise. Whenever they asked him about it, he just told them that he wasn´t in the right place for a relationship at the moment or that none of the ladies were what he was looking for.

Babsy continued, “Ethan Virtue is a 3-and-a-half-year-old boy who has already gone through so much in his short life that most of us couldn´t imagine it. When he was two years old, he was diagnosed with childhood leukaemia. Over the course of a year he was treated with many rounds of chemotherapy, which although did somewhat improve his condition, also continued to weaken it. He was so weak that he couldn´t really do anything and was bound to his bed. His mom told the foundation that all he ever wanted to watch when he was sick in bed was hockey, but not just any hockey, no it had to be the Leafs. As soon as the season was over, he would still demand to watch the Leafs, so his mom went on a hunt and eventually found VHS tapes with the games up until they were available online or on DVD. His mom further explained that he now has basically seen every single game the Leafs have ever played and can tell you most of the scores of by heart.” Some gasps were heard around the room and all players had their eyes fixed on Babsy, listening to this heart-warming story of a little boy.

Scott was just wiping away a tear that had escaped his eye. He hated hearing stories about sick kids and especially kids that were around the same ages as his nieces and nephews. Those stories always hit a bit close to home, but he also always loved hearing how the little ones fought through them and was captured by the story of little Ethan.

“After nearly a year of chemotherapy, Ethan received a stem cell transplant that was the key to success. After the transplant, Ethan began to recover and just about a year after his diagnosis was declared cancer-free. He recovered for a couple weeks after entering remission and then finally was able to take his long sought after first skate. He has since then whizzed through the CanSkate programme and is being called a natural by his coach and family. He has also started playing Timbits hockey, even though he technically is still a year too young for it. Ethan is also now in kindergarten and enjoys his time there. He still talks non-stop about hockey and is hoping to attend his first Leafs game soon.” Babsy takes a deep breath and looks out towards his players. Most of them now have a smile on their face and seem very intrigued by the story. But when his eyes land on Scott Moir he sees the deep effect that this story of the small boy has had on one of his most talented players. His eyes are rimmed with tears, which he eventually wipes away and then Scott looks up and the two catch eyes. Babsy just gives him a small nod and makes note to speak to him once everyone is gone.

He then continues, “So that´s Ethan´s story. What do you guys think, can we fulfil his wish?” he asks his players and receives a loud cheer of yes in return.

“I think so too, but usually these kids only get a day and I thought why not spend more time than that with him and give him an extra special experience. After all he´s been through, I think he deserves that,” the players nod and cheer in agreement. “So, the club and I have come up with a little plan and seeing as he has never been to a game, we thought it would be best for him to experience a home game. Next week Thursday he and his family will be brought to Toronto and spend Thursday, Friday, Saturday with us and then watch our game on Sunday. We´ll show him what it´s like to be a player and include him in everything we do. A fan like that deserves to have everything and I am sure you guys will all be onboard.” The players cheer again, and Scott finally is able to smile again and all of a sudden, he can´t wait till next week.

Everyone starts getting up and gathering their gear before assistant coach Dave Hakstol speaks up, “On your way out, you´ll see a Leafs jersey lying on a table with sharpies around it. We would appreciate if everyone could sign it. Ethan will be receiving a package in the next couple of days informing him about his surprise and the jersey will be going in that too.”

Once the room has cleared out Babsy approaches Scott.

“Scott, how you feeling?” He asks him. The two have not only become close friends since Scott´s signing but Babsy has become a great mentor for him.

“Pretty good. That story was rough man,” he admits, “Especially when they´re about the same age as my nieces and nephews, it always hits home and just makes you appreciate the life you and your family can live in health. But I think what the club and foundation is doing for him is really great and I am going to give everything to make sure that Ethan doesn´t stop smiling once he sets foot in the building.”

Babsy smiles at that, “I know Scott and I also know that you will do everything so that he has a great experience. That´s one of your greatest assets. You put the happiness of others, even if you don´t know them, before your own and that´s what makes you an amazing person.”

“Thanks Babs,” Scott acknowledges his coach’s words before grabbing his gear and heading out towards the practice facilities. He stops at the table with the jersey on it and grabs a sharpie before looking for a free spot.

Ethan buddy! Looking forward to hitting some pucks with you. Your friend and fan Scott Moir.

He writes on it and signs it before hitting the practice rink.


A couple days later, Tessa and Ethan received a massive package from the Leafs containing everything possible from jerseys and hoodies to pucks and hats. Ethan was out of his mind ecstatic, although Tessa wasn´t really sure if he understood that he would be meeting the team and spending 4 days with them. From what she gathers, Ethan just thinks that they are going to go and watch a game.

And then another few days later they had been picked up by a car in the morning and driven to a hotel in downtown Toronto. They were given a couple hours to get situated in the hotel which meant a nap for Ethan and a bit of work as well for Tessa and then also a small nap and a bite to eat before the met their driver again and were driven the short distance to the Scotiabank Arena.

Once there, Tessa unbuckles Ethan from his car seat, “You ready to go meet the Leafs E?” she asks him.

“I go play hockey,” he replies curiously, Tessa just laughs, this boy is so obsessed with hockey.

“Maybe baby, but you know who you´re going to meet?”

Ethan just shakes his head.

“Maybe Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau,” Tessa tells him and watches as his face lights up.

“Me play hockey with them?” Ethan asks as they walk towards the entrance.

“I think they´ll hit some pucks with you,” she tells him looking down at him before opening the door.

Inside, Tessa watches as Ethan´s head snaps back and forth between all the different Leafs decorations and pictures on the wall. A young man and women approach her.

“Miss Virtue?” They question and Tessa answers with a nod and smile.

The woman reaches her hand out to shakes Tessa´s. “Mrs. Lincoln from the Make-a-Wish-Foundation,” she introduces herself and then the man repeats the interactions and introduces himself as Mr. Smith from the Leafs Club.

They give her a quick run through of what will be happening over the course of the next few days and also about the filming arrangement before they announce that the players must just be finishing up their pre training talk and that they´ll be ready for them now. Tessa grabs Ethan´s hand and together they follow Mr. Smith down the hall to a closed door. He knocks on the door and briefly sticks his head in before completely opening it and welcoming Tessa and Ethan inside.

 

Inside, Tessa and Ethan were met by nearly 30 pairs of eyes, carefully observing the two strangers who had just entered the room. Tessa looked around at all the players and members of staff and gave them a small smile. Then a man she recognized as none other than Mike Babcock, walked up to them and introduced himself.

“Mike Babcock,” he said extending his hand which Tessa gratefully accepted.

“Tessa Virtue”, she introduced herself before placing her hand on Ethan´s head and saying, “and this is Ethan.” At that Babsy crouched down in front of little Ethan and shook his hand and told him something that Tessa didn´t quite catch but made her son smile.

“Alright guys,” Babsy addressed his players as he stood back up from his crouched position. “I´m sure you all remember me telling you about a special guest a couple weeks ago. Well, I´d like to formally introduce you to Ethan.”

The players all answered with an “Welcome Ethan” which caused the little toddler to freeze up for a moment before going to hide behind his mother´s legs. Tessa chuckled at his actions and whilst Babsy continued talking to his players about the next few days, Tessa quickly swung Ethan up onto her hip and he immediately buried his head in the crook of her neck in an attempt to hide himself from all these people.

Babsy finished talking and asked Tessa if she quickly wanted to say anything before, they would go and hit the ice. She nodded and then addressed the players and members of staff.

“I´d just quickly like to say thank you on my behalf and also on Ethan´s. I think he´s a little shy and overwhelmed at the moment but I´m sure once he sees the rink he´ll liven up a bit. We´re so grateful that you´re taking the time out of your busy lives to spend time with him and I really couldn´t ask for much more because seeing him as happy as he was when he found out and hopefully how happy he´ll be when he warms up a bit more is all I could ever ask for after the year we´ve just had to live through. So, thank you.” She smiles at the players and earns a round of applause before the players start getting up and heading out to the rink, but not before stopping by Tessa and Ethan to introduce themselves personally.

Babsy hangs back and notices that Scott does too and cocks his eyebrow at him, questioning what he is doing. Scott approaches him.

“Babs, do you think I could take Ethan to go get fitted for all his gear? I want to get to know him better and see if he´ll warm up a bit so that he can really enjoy his time here,” Scott asks him.

“You´re really going to live up to your words and get him to smile every second he is here, aren´t you,” Babsy says and Scott just nods in agreement. “Ok, you take him and get him suited but remember you still have to practice, and we still have a game on the weekend,” he tells him.

“Thanks man, I´ll be out there soon,” Scott tells him with a slap on the back before making his way over to Ethan.

In the meantime, Tessa has put Ethan back down and is now squatting at eye level slowly and gently talking to him. Just then she notices the presence of someone beside and looks up to see Scott Moir smiling down at her. He quickly drops down to his knees beside her and then gives all his attention to Ethan.

“Hey buddy,” he says softly, “I´m Scott Moir but you can call me Scott,” he jokes and holds out his hand to Ethan for a high five, which Ethan willingly gives him. “Wow buddy, strong arm you got there. I heard that you´re a pretty cool guy and that you love hockey. Is that true?” He asks trying to get the little boy to come out of his shell a bit. To his surprise, Ethan turns his body away from his mother and towards him.

“HOCKEY!!” He says enthusiastically raising his arms in the air, earning a chuckle from Tessa and a laugh from Scott.

“I play hockey,” Ethan tells Scott.

“So do I buddy,” Scott replies holding his hand for another high five. “Do you have a favourite team?” he asks him, although he already knows the answer to the question. Ethan nods enthusiastically.

“Do you wanna tell me which one?” Scott further coaxes.

“The Leafs,” Ethan tells him.

“Guess what?” Scott asks and Ethan just stares at him. “I get to play for the Leafs and if you want, we can go get you some gear and we can go play with the rest of the team. How does that sound buddy? You wanna play some hockey?” Scott smiles at him.

Tessa has been watching the exchange between the two with a massive smile on her face. The attention Scott Moir is giving her son is everything and she is so happy that Ethan is slowly warming up and coming out of his shell.

“I wanna play hockey,” Ethan tells them.

“Okay, well then you wanna come with me and we can get you some skates and a stick,” Scott says standing up from where he had been crouching on the ground.

“Yeah!” Ethan shouts and raises his hands again.

Tessa also slowly stands up and sees Scott smiling at her.

“Scott Moir,” he says sticking his hand out to her which she gladly accepts.

“Tessa Virtue, this one’s mom,” she laughs nodding her head towards Ethan, “thanks for getting him out of his shell. I was afraid he would be shy and not enjoy his time here,” she admits to him.

“No thanks needed,” Scott says and gently places his hand on her shoulder, “I wanna make sure a kid this special has a great time here and will remember it for a long time to come.” He smiles at her and then feels something tug at his trousers. He looks down and sees Ethan beaming up at him and stretching his arms up at him, which he guesses is Ethan´s way of asking to be picked up.

He quickly glances over at Tessa and asks, “is it okay if I pick him up?”

“Of course. I´m glad he´s warmed up to at least someone.”

At that Scott quickly scoops Ethan up, who giggles, and then leads the two out of the conference room and down the hall to the arena´s shop, where they´ll get all geared up.


In the shop, Scott walks over to the counter and quickly talks to the person working and returns to Tessa and Ethan´s side with a kid sized duffle bag. He then guides the two back out of the shop and down the hall to the changing room.

Upon entering the changing room Scott stops in the doorway and crouches down to Ethan´s level and explains a bit about the room. He then gives him a huge surprise, “And you see that cubby over there,” he points in the direction, “is mine and you know whose is next to it?” He asks and looks at Ethan who has become a bit shy again and is hiding behind Tessa´s legs once again. “Do you want me to tell you?” Scott asks after not receiving an answer and Ethan nods his heads. “It´s a player named Ethan Virtue,” he announces, “Have you heard of him?”

Ethan slowly steps away from his mother´s legs. “That´s me,” he almost whispers whilst pointing towards himself. Scott smiles at his answer.

“Do you want to go have a look and maybe get ready so we can join the rest of the team for some training?” Scott prompts him and Ethan nods, so Scott stands back up and guides Ethan over to his cubby and presents him with the duffle bag and all the necessary gear and equipment. Scott helps Ethan with everything, and Scott manages to start a good conversation with the 3-and-a-half-year-old.

Tessa is still standing at the door watching with so much love and adoration for her son but also for the man that she doesn´t even really know but she knows that she will be forever grateful to for providing one of the biggest smiles on her son´s face she has ever seen. She silently snaps a few pictures of the two before putting her phone away and just enjoying the moment.

In that moment Scott looks up from talking with Ethan and catches Tessa´s eye. Their gazes lock and smiles spread across both their faces.


Soon Scott has Ethan out on the ice with him and the rest of the team. Although he´s come out of his shell a bit, Ethan tends to stick to Scott and is quiet around the others or when they are trying to talk to him, but from where Tessa is standing rink side she can see that Ethan always has a smile on his face and in the few moments he doesn´t, Scott is always there to make sure another one reappears.

Scott tests Ethan´s skating and shooting skills and is quite impressed. Whilst he expected the little boy to be able to skate a bit and maybe hit a few lucky shots, he did not expect him to be fully confident on his skates and to have such a great handle on the puck. He goofs around with Ethan and the two of them pass the puck back and forth whilst Ethan tells him all about his hockey team.

Freddy Andersen comes over to Scott and Ethan and manages to convince Ethan to come with him and practice shooting on a real goal. Ethan looks back at Scott.

“You go with Freddy buddy, I´ll be there right away. I´m just going to go check on your mom, ok?” Scott asks him.

At the sound of the word mom, Ethan whips his head around to look at Tessa and then gives her a big smile and a wave before grabbing on to Freddy´s hand and skating towards the goal.

Scott skates to the rink exit and quickly switches from his skates into some trainers before going to find Tessa. He wants to know more about Ethan´s story and sure, he could ask the little boy himself but he´s not quite sure he wants to disturb the little boy´s day by bringing up his health scare and he feels like the little boy isn´t the only one that needs some cheering up or some comfort.

He sees her standing next to the boards watching her son shooting with Freddy. The smile on her face evident even from where he is positioned in the doorway. He walks up to her.

“Hey,” he greets her softly not to startle her. She turns around.

“Hi Mr. Moir,” she greets him back.

“Call me Scott,” he tells her when he reaches her side and leans up against the boards.

“Ok. Shouldn´t you be practicing Scott?” she asks with a slight undertone of teasing in her voice.

He smiles softly, “Possibly, but there´s a great kid here today and I want to make sure he has the best day ever after what he´s been through, but I also know that that kid didn´t go through any of this alone so I want to make sure his mom is alright too and enjoying herself.” Tessa just smiles back at him. Never has anyone really actually considered that yes, whilst Ethan went through the tough stuff, his mom was suffering just as much alongside with him.

“I´m just happy that he´s having a great time,” is all Tessa replies.

“I´m glad that you´re happy that Ethan is having a good time, but like I said I want you to have a good time too and I figured from your letter that you like hockey too, so what do you say to taking a spin on the ice yourself? The guys will be going for lunch in an hour and if you like, I can organise you some skates and you can take the ice with Ethan,” Scott suggests hoping that Tessa will take the bait.

“No,no, today is about Ethan,” Tessa starts and before she can continue Scott cuts her off.

“Yes, today is about him, but it is about you too. Please believe me when I say I want this day to be memorable for not only him but also for you. I can´t imagine what you two and the rest of your family has been through over the last couple months and I hope maybe at some point you´ll tell me a bit about it, if you want, but you should get the chance to enjoy yourself too Miss Virtue, take your mind off what has happened and create some memories for you and Ethan that will last both of you a long time. So, what do you say?” Scott looks hopingly at her.

“Ok. But I am not even close to being prepared for this. I don´t have any gear whatsoever and you have to promise that none of you players will be here, cause I don´t want to embarrass myself in front of my favourite team.” She answers with a little chuckle.

“Whoop!” Scott exclaims at her answer, “as for gear, I´ll get skates sorted and I´ll try find some sweats in the shop. As for a jersey, I´ll run by the jersey guys in a minute but as for now,” he starts before reaching for the hem of his jersey and pulling it over his head, “take this one,” he says and hands her the jersey.

Tessa smiles as she accepts the jersey, “thanks. I´ve always wanted a real hockey jersey.”

“Wait, you mean to say you love hockey, but you don´t own your own hockey jersey,” Scott questions in mock shock.

“I know, I know. I never got around to buying one. I would always borrow one from my brothers. Until Ethan came along, I never really followed hockey, I was more into figure skating. But I think this one might be a good one to start off my collection.” Tessa smiles and for the first time is really able to study Scott. His dark brown hair sticking up from wearing a helmet and his deep hazel eyes catching hers and that smile, oh god, she thinks to herself, he is hot and gorgeous, and his personality seems great I think I might be falling here. Please this can´t be happening.

Scott is also watching her and having a very similar conversation in his head.

Their moment is interrupted by the voice of a little boy, “MAMA!” he screams across the rink and Tessa steers her eyes away from Scott and follows the direction of the voice. There she sees Ethan shooting goals on Freddy with the biggest smile on his face, everyone else around him cheering him on. It´s only when he tries to skate a bit faster to take a bigger swing at the puck that he trips on the ice and falls onto his front. The guys all take in a breath and then Ethan lets out a wail and none of the guys really know how to react.

Before Tessa can even take a step she sees Scott running to the entry in the boards and steadily walking towards Ethan before scooping him up and comforting him. By the time Tessa has reached the bench, Ethan has stopped crying and is softly speaking with Scott, nuzzled into his chest.

“Hey baby, you okay?” she asks crouching down in front of him rubbing her hand up and down his back.

Ethan just nods and shifts in Scott´s arms so that Tessa can transfer him into her arms. She sits down next to Scott while Ethan rests his head on her shoulder. She can sense that he is quite tired and might fall asleep. They are missing nap time today to spend the day with the Leafs and Ethan´s body isn´t used to so much going on at once.

“Thanks for getting him,” Tessa says softly as she turns to look Scott in the eyes.

“Of course. No problem. I can´t have him not enjoying himself today and I can tell you that he is very on board with the idea of you skating with him a little later,” Scott chuckles.

“Well that might have to wait a bit, since it seems little E here has fallen asleep,” Tessa tells him and the both grin at the sight of Ethan asleep on her shoulder.

“Do you want to lie him down somewhere? We have couches in the team room if you want. It´ll be more comfortable for him and probably for you,” Scott asks.

Tessa smiles. He really is concerned about making this really special for Ethan. Always so caring and attentive. Whoever his girlfriend is, is a lucky girl. “That would be great if you don´t mind. He´ll probably sleep for about an hour.” Scott nods and leads them back towards the team room, where Tessa lays Ethan down on the couch before taking off her jacket and covering him with it. She sits down next to him stroking his hair.

Scott returns a couple minutes later with a bag in his hand. He grabs a chair and sits down in front of Tessa. “I grabbed a bit of food from the lunchroom. I didn´t know if you were hungry or what you wanted so I took a selection.” He hands Tessa the bag and she starts digging through it, emerging with a sandwich and a bottle of water.

“Thanks Scott,” she says and takes a swig of water before biting into her sandwich. Scott does the same and they eat in comfortable silence for a couple of minutes.

The silence is disturbed by the sound of gangsters paradise ringing through the room. Scott is quick to get his phone out of his pocket and takes a few steps away from sleeping Ethan to answer the phone.

Tessa´s scrolling through her phone too and doesn´t intend to listen in on Scott´s phone conversation but she can´t help but miss when he says, “love you too” or “I´ll see you at home” and “You´re coming to the game remember”.

After a couple minutes he returns and apologizes, “sorry about that.”

Tessa smiles and before she can apprehend what she is asking the word, “girlfriend?” tumbles out of her mouth. She is mortified with herself and turns a deep shade of red.

Scott chuckles at the sight, “no, my mum and niece actually. As the coolest uncle and only bachelor son my mum has left, they love to pester me and come visit me. So they´ll be coming down this weekend for the game.”

“Oh, ok,” Tessa replies not daring to say anymore before returning to her sandwich.

“Can I ask you something?” Scott asks.

Tessa gives him a curious look before nodding.

“You obviously don´t have to tell me anything, but what was it like? Receiving the diagnosis and going through all the treatment?” he says feeling somewhat shy all of a sudden. He genuinely is interested in her and Ethan´s story but he doesn´t want to make her uncomfortable so he immediately blurts out, “sorry, I didn´t mean to come on that strong or make you uncomfortable.”

Tessa places her hand on his arm, the first form of physical contact other than their handshake at the beginning and she would be lying if she said she didn´t feel some sparks when she touched him.

“Scott,” she says in a tone that makes him look up at her, “it´s ok.” She tells him before launching into the emotional story of how she found out that Ethan had leukaemia and everything that happened after that.

15 minutes later and Tessa has finished her emotional story, there are tears in her eyes thinking back on all the events and how close she was to losing her little boy. What she doesn´t expect to find are tears in Scott´s eyes when she looks up into his eyes.

“I am so, so sorry that you and Ethan had to go through that,” he tells her, his voice cracking with emotion before he uses the sleeve of his t-shirt to wipe away the tears that had escaped.

“Thank you,” Tessa smiles softly, “it was tough, but us Virtues are strong and determined, so we go through it.”

“Yeah you did, and I am so, so glad that you chose to spend some of your precious time with us here at the Leafs. It´s been an honour to get to know you two,” Scott confesses.

Tessa just smiles. He looks like he genuinely cares and means everything that comes out of his mouth she thinks and before she can think about what she is doing, she reaches out from where she is sitting and wraps her arms around Scott´s neck and gives him a hug. His arms instantly wrap around her middle and her head goes to the crook of his neck. Breathing each other in and relishing the moment, they stay like that. Although they´ve only known each other for a couple hours and are practically still strangers, the hug feels right to both of them. It feels like there´s a connection there that neither of them can explain.

The sound of Ethan starting to root around on the couch, a sign he is waking up, makes the two break their hug but not without grinning at each other. They don´t go far from each other though, sitting side by side whilst watching Ethan wake up.

“Mama,” he calls out softly into the room. Tessa takes that as her signal and moves from Scott´s side, but not without giving his knee a quick pat.

“I´m here E,” she tells him before walking over to the couch he was sleeping on, where he is waiting and holding his arms out to her, his signal that he would like her to pick him up. Ethan snuggles into her shoulder and she carries him back over to where she had been sitting with Scott. Scott smiles at the site of the two.

“Hey buddy,” he calls out to the three-and-a-half-year-old once Tessa is sitting down again. Ethan just snuggles further into Tessa´s shoulder.

Scott tries again, this time with an idea that he knows the little boy can´t resist, “Hey buddy, do you wanna go skating with your mum?”. At that Ethan perks up and nods his head vigorously, causing both the adults in the room to laugh.

“Well, then Moir, I guess you should better go find me some skates,” she says with a wink and Scott doesn´t hesitate before going off to find the right equipment for her.

15 minutes and Tessa and Ethan are standing at the entrance to the rink, all the other players having left for their lunch break. Scott standing a couple meters behind them.

“You ready Ethan,” Tessa asks her son, looking down at him. All he does is nod before dragging her closer to the rink. Scott, who´s observing them chuckles. At the sound of his chuckle, both Tessa and Ethan whip their heads around to look at him, Tessa with a mock glare and Ethan with question marks written all over his face.

Finding his voice, Ethan tugs at his mother´s hand and asks, “Is Scott coming too?”

Tessa crouches down and looks between Ethan and Scott, “I don´t know baby, do you want him to?” At that he nods, and Tessa follows up, “well then you need to ask him.” Ethan doesn´t hesitate and waddles towards Scott, who sense the movement and also crouches down to his level. Ethan stands close enough to Scott that Scott can place his hand on his back.

“Hey Buddy,” Scott says softly, “what´s up?”

“Um, are you coming skating too?” Ethan looks up at Scott.

“No, I´m not. I´m going to let you spend some time with your mum,” he tells the little boy. At his response Ethan´s face falls and his lip begins to tremble, a sign Scott is all too familiar with and he can see that Tessa also knows what is about to come. So, Scott reacts quickly.

“But if you want me to join you, I will gladly.” At this, Ethan throws himself at Scott, who was not anticipating the move, so he catches Ethan and falls backwards onto his back, causing the little boy to erupt into laughter.

A little while later Ethan and Scott are on the ice and Tessa is just about to step on. Scott steers himself towards the entrance to help her just in case. She had mentioned being nervous since she hadn´t been on the ice in a while.

“You ok there?” Scott asks and holds his arm out to her so she can grab on to it.

“Yeah, just trying to remember how this works,” Tessa jokes back and grabs onto his arm whilst Ethan holds Scott´s other hand.

The three of them skate around the rink like that for a bit until Ethan complains that he is tired, causing Scott to swing him up onto his hip so that he can continue skating with Tessa. They skate for another 20 minutes talking about everything and nothing and by the time they step of the ice Scott is convinced that he is starting to fall for Tessa even though he´s only known her for a couple of hours. Tessa´s thoughts aren´t any different.

By the end of the day, Tessa, Ethan and Scott have spent nearly the whole day together and it was clear to everyone around them and Tessa, that Ethan had already built a special relationship with Scott in the short time.

When they said goodbye at the end of the day it was with a big hug for Scott from Ethan and a hug between Tessa and Scott that maybe lasted longer than it should have, but it allowed the two to relish in the closeness.


The next couple days are spent in the same way with the trio continuing to get to know each other better and spending a lot of time together. Ethan has now warmed up to more of the other players meaning he is comfortable spending time playing hockey and doing drills with them too, leaving Scott a bit more time to spend alone with Tessa. Although he is not entirely sure, he is pretty sure that she is as smitten by him as he is by her, but he is gonna leave any developments up to her and let her set a pace, if she wants to obviously.

When game day arrives on Sunday, they don´t see much of each other in the morning since Scott has to prepare the game and Tessa is preoccupied with her mom and sister arriving to watch the game with her and Ethan. They are in the car on the way to the arena, Tessa sitting in the front and Ethan in the back between Kate and Jordan telling them all about his past couple of days with the Leafs. The fact that the name Scott comes up in nearly every sentence of his causes Jordan and Kate to raise an eyebrow at each other, but they don´t press the issue any further and will wait to see how Ethan and subsequently Tessa interact with Scott. The two of them have obviously heard about him since he is from just outside London and his family own the rink at which Ethan´s team plays, but they have never met him.

Once they get to the arena, they are met again by Mrs. Lincoln from the foundation and brought into the arena, where she explains some of what will be happening. Ethan will be skating out with the players and get his own introduction and will then participate in a face-off at the beginning of the game. They will then watch the game from rink side seats and after the game will have the opportunity to meet all the players again before saying goodbye.

Mrs Lincoln is in the middle of handing the tickets to Tessa when a now, familiar voice shouts “Is that my hockey buddy!” from behind them and Ethan immediately turns around and runs towards the source of the voice, where he is scooped up by his new best friend Scott.

Scott tosses him up in the air a couple times before allowing him to settle on his hip and making quiet conversation with him whilst walking over to Tessa and two other women whom he assumes must be his mom and sister as she had mentioned they would be joining them for the game.

He approaches Kate and Jordan and introduces himself quickly before walking over to Tessa and giving her a hug and a sneaky little kiss on the cheek which Jordan and Kate can´t see. What they can see however, is how smitten Tessa is by him and vice versa.

Tessa, Ethan and Scott talk for a couple more minutes before someone from the Leafs comes over and tells them that it´s time for Ethan to start getting ready. The group walk towards the locker rooms and gather Ethan´s gear before they head to the big changing room, so that Ethan can get ready in his own personal little locker space. Most of the guys have already cleared out and gone to warm up so Tessa, Kate and Jordan all pile in with Scott and Ethan and Tessa sets about getting him ready. Scott makes small talk with Kate and Jordan before excusing himself to go help Tessa to speed up the process.

They end up kneeling next to each other, each tying up one of Ethan´s skate. Scott is cracking jokes and bumping his shoulder playfully into Tessa´s until she laughs so hard that she loses her balance and Scott has to wrap his arm around her waist to stop her from falling over. Ethan is laughing at their antics and stands up to announce that he is ready.

“Mom,” Tessa calls out and Kate steps up, “can you please take a few pics of E and I?” and hands over her phone. Tessa squats down next to Ethan and Kate snaps a few. Tessa catches Scott staring at them out of the corner of his eye and cocks her head as to signal him to get into the next few pictures, so he does, his hand meeting Tessa´s on Ethan´s back. Then Scott is tasked with taking pictures of Ethan, Tessa, Kate and Jordan and then it´s time for them to head to the rink.

 

Tessa, Ethan and Scott walk a couple of steps ahead of Jordan and Kate, talking and throwing each other glances.

“Are you thinking what I am thinking,” Jordan whispers to her mom.

“What, that I may have just met my future son in law and you your future brother in law” she answers and Jordan laughs.

“Those where my exact thoughts. I haven´t seen Tessa smile like that in a very long time,” Jordan admits.

Kate pats her arm, “me either Jord, me either.” And with that the topic is settled for now.

Ethan is just getting the last couple of instructions of what´s going to happen and what he has to do when Tessa feels a hand land on her back. “You ok?” Scott asks her as she absentmindedly stares at Ethan.

“Yeah just thinking about how grateful I am for Ethan to have had these last couple days with you guys. He´s been so happy and as a mother that´s all I can ever ask for,” she tells him and wipes a tear that escapes from the corner of her eye and before she knows it, Scott pulls her in hard against his chest.

“You´ve got such a great kid there Tessa and he is such a bright light in this world, it´s been an honour to get to know him these past couple of days and help him smile that much. But I am also so grateful to have met you Tess. You´re such an amazing person,” he tells her softly and presses a soft kiss to the top of her head and receives a squeeze around the waist in return.

“I am so grateful to have met you too Scott, you have no idea and how you interacted with Ethan shows how amazing of a man you are,” Tessa tells him and looks up at him. He smiles so softly down at her and rests his forehead against hers and they just stand there in their own little bubble, so comfortable with each other even after only knowing each other for a couple days.

After a couple moments of them just staring at each other, Scott decides that it´s now or never for him and decides to go for it. “Look Tess,” he starts to stammer out, “I know we´ve only known each other a couple days but I´ll be honest they´ve been some of the best days of my life so far and you can say no but maybe after the game and after you´ve put Ethan down for bed or so, would you get a drink or dinner with me?” he finishes and lets out a long breath.

Tessa smiles at his question and replies almost immediately, “I would love to Scott,” and squeezes her arms around him a bit tighter, but then remembers, “but Scott, didn´t you say your mum and niece were coming to watch. You should hang out with them. They came all this way for you.”

At that Scott´s face falls, “shit, I forgot about them but I´ll convince them to meet up tomorrow or I´ll make it up to them when I´m back home next week. I really wanna spend more time with you T.”

“Ok. Wait you´re going to be in Ilderton next week?” Tessa asks.

“Yeah we have a week off and I´m going to spend it home,” he smiles at her and she just smiles back, silently hoping that that means she´ll get to see him then.

The assistant who had been talking to Ethan then comes over and tells Scott that it´s time for them to go get ready for the game to start. Tessa walks over to Ethan and wraps him up in her arms and tells him to behave and enjoy his time out there. Ethan can barely contain his excitement and is jumping up and down in anticipation to go skate again.

Scott walks over, “you ready to go buddy,” he asks Ethan and takes his hand so they can walk towards where they are needed.

“I wanna go play hockey!” Ethan shouts back making both Scott and Tessa laugh.

“Let´s go then,” Scott tells him and winks at Tessa who then comes over and wraps her arms around Scott´s neck and presses her lips to his cheek in a quick kiss, “good luck. I´ll see you after the game” and then watches Scott and Ethan walk down the hallway before turning to her mother and Jordan so they can go and find their seats.

“You two look very cosy,” Jordan comments as soon as Tessa is by her side and for that Tessa just smacks her on the arm and says, “shut up” and with that the topic between the sisters is off the table for now at least because they both know how smitten Tessa is.

10 minutes later and Tessa is tearing up slightly when she hears her son´s name along with Scott´s being announced and seeing the two skate into the arena, hand in hand and the two biggest smiles on their faces. The smile on her own face grows when she sees Scott pick her son up just before the anthems are being played because he seems to have gone back to his shyness and might also be tired from just standing around and Ethan just snuggles right into Scott and stays settled their until it´s time for him to take part in the face off, which he masters wonderfully. Quickly though, Ethan remembers all the people watching again and quickly searches the players on the ice for a familiar face and is relieved when Scott comes to a stop in front of him and crouches down to speak to him.

The scene is being projected on the big jumbotron and from what Tessa can make out, Ethan is nervous and shy but she has faith that Scott will be able to deal with it. He manages to get Ethan to hit a few pucks with him before he receives a signal from the side lines that Ethan needs to be taken off the ice so the game can start properly.

Upon receiving the signal, Scott scoops Ethan back up into his arms and Ethan settles his head into the crook of Scott´s neck before he escorts him off the ice into an assistants waiting arms who then delivers Ethan back to Tessa, Kate and Jordan and the three of them enjoy the rest of the game from their rink side seats.

The game goes smoothly with the Leafs winning 5:2 against the Bruins, Scott managing to score 2 of the 5 goals and waving at Tessa and Ethan whenever he got the chance. When the game is over the Virtues gather their belongings before an assistant guides them back down some hallways where they are told they can wait for the players so Ethan can say goodbye. Tessa can see some other people waiting too, whom she assumes are family of the players.

After waiting for a couple minutes, the first few players start piling out of the locker room and are quick to notice Ethan and one by one start coming over and saying goodbye to him, some even come with jerseys, hats or pucks and sticks and when most of them have come by, Ethan has quite the collection of memorabilia. Some players stay and say goodbye a bit longer, especially those who have spent a bit more time with him and they also talk to Tessa.

Scott is the last player to come out. He quickly pops by Tessa and tells her that he´s just going to quickly say hi to his mom and niece and make sure he can move their hanging out to tomorrow and will then come back. Tessa knows this is the moment she has to ask for either Jordan or Kate to watch Ethan this evening.

“Mom, Jordan,” she addresses them and turns towards them, “I don´t know if either of you have plans this evening, but would one of you be able to watch Ethan this evening?” she asks and Kate and Jordan exchange silent looks between each other.

“I can watch him, I have no plans for this evening. We´re in the same hotel so I can either come up to your room or you can drop him off at mine,” Kate tells Tessa.

“Thank you so much mom,” she replies with a soft smile before glancing over at Jordan who has a smirk on her face. “Jordan?” Tessa prompts her.

“I can help watch him, but what I´m more interested in, is why you need a babysitter all of a sudden. You didn´t mention this beforehand. It wouldn´t have something to do with the hockey player wearing jersey number 14 does it?” Jordan teases her.

“If you are so interested Jordan, yes it does. He asked me out to dinner,” Tessa retaliates.

“I´m not interrogating you or teasing Tessa, I´m just happy to see that smile back on your face.” Jordan tells her and wraps her arms around her.

Scott comes back to them a couple minutes later and he and Tessa figure out the details. He´ll pick her up from the hotel so that she can change and get ready, because she wants to as she was not expecting to go for dinner after the game and therefore did not dress for the occasion. According to Scott she doesn´t need to but she insists. He gives her an hour to change and get ready and will then pick her up.

His goodbye with Ethan is more emotional than anyone expected it to be and the little boy is really sad to have to say goodbye to his friend and even lets a few tears go. Scott is not any better and there are tears in his eyes as well as he says goodbye to Ethan. He´s grown so fond of him over the last couple of days and he´s had such a great time with him, but he promises to keep in touch with him and maybe the next time he´s home to come to one of his games. Tessa knows he´s back in town next week but doesn´t mention it in case this evening doesn´t go as hopped, although she highly doubts it. With one last big hug and the handing over his jersey and stick, Ethan says goodbye to Scott and Tessa says see you later and the Virtues make their way back to their hotel.


Just before 7, Tessa hears a soft knock on her hotel room door and finds Scott in a suit and with a big smile on his face waiting on the other side.

“Hey,” he greets her softly with a hug, “you look absolutely beautiful,” he continues, causing Tessa to blush.

“Thank you, you look very handsome,” she tells him and now it´s his turn to blush.

Scott then remembers the flowers in his hands and hands them over to her, “these are for you. I know you leave tomorrow but I thought it was better than showing up empty handed.”

“Thank you, Scott, these are beautiful and I´ll find a way to take them with me tomorrow.”

“Are you ready to head out?” Scott asks.

“Yes, just let me grab my handbag and then we´re good to go,” Tessa answers and grabs her handbag from her bed along with her room card and then the two of them are walking out the door.

“Is Ethan with your mom?” Scott starts the conversation in the elevator.

“Yeah, he was pretty bummed that he couldn´t come with me but I told him I was going for grown up dinner and that he would get bored and this way he could watch a movie and eat pizza,” Scott chuckled at her answer.

“Oh, so you didn´t tell him you were getting dinner with me”

“No, I thought it was best he didn´t know about that otherwise he would have thrown a complete meltdown and would have demanded to join me and his new best friend for dinner.”

“Ah, I would have loved to spend time with my buddy too, but I´m not opposed to it being just you and me,” Scott tells her with a wink and Tessa softly tells him, “me neither.”

At the restaurant, they are seated at a table for two at the back, hidden away from most of the other tables, which Scott is grateful for as it means there won´t be any interruptions and he can spend more time with Tessa.

Tessa and Scott enjoy the meal but more than that they enjoy the company. The conversation flows easily, and they find that they can talk about anything with each other and it turns out Tessa finds Scott hysterical even his lamest jokes which leads to many laughs that go on for minutes.

It isn´t until the waiter comes by their table and informs them that the restaurant is closing soon that they realise how the time has run away from them. Scott quickly settles the check although Tessa protests and then the two are leaving the restaurant.

“I´ll call us a cab,” Scott says and before Scott can pull out his phone Tessa screeches “NO!” and Scott just stares back at her in question.

Tessa quickly places a hand on his arm, “Sorry, that came out quicker and stronger than I intended,” she starts, “what I meant is, I´ve had a really great time and I don´t really want it to end yet, so maybe we could take a walk or at least walk back to the hotel.”

Scott smiles sheepishly at her, “Yeah let´s do that. I´ve had a great time too and honestly don´t want it to end yet either.”

The two set off with no real direction but Scott makes sure they are heading somewhat towards Tessa´s hotel and then guides them to walk along the empty Toronto waterfront. They make small conversation now and when there´s nothing to talk about they enjoy the quiet of the otherwise bustling city. Their hands brush against each other a couple of times before Tessa gathers up the courage to link her fingers with his. When Scott squeezes her hand back, she looks up at him and finds him smiling down at their linked hands.

After a while Scott leads them over to a bench overlooking the water and they sit down. Scott leaves a bit of space between them as to let Tessa set the pace but she slides right up next to him and cuddles into his side, leaving him no other choice then to drape his arm around her shoulders and pull her in even closer. They sit in comfortable silence for a while, just enjoying the feeling of each other and the beautiful waterfront.

Tessa´s phone vibrating breaks the silence and she is quick to untangle herself from Scott´s arm to check her phone. As a mom she is always on high alert, in case something has happened to Ethan. When she unlocks her phone, she is quick to find a text message from her mom telling her that Ethan is fast asleep and an attached picture showing Ethan fast asleep in an oversized Leafs jersey with the number 14 and name Moir on the back. Tessa chuckles before texting back a quick reply and placing her hand on Scott´s knee to grab his attention.

“Mmh”, Scott replies and then looks at the photo Tessa is showing him and chuckles.

“Seems like you´ve got a new number 1 fan,” Tessa smiles.

“I don´t think he´s the only fan I gained this weekend and I´m glad to say he´s won me over as a fan as well. His beautiful mom too,” Scott tells her with a wink and the two go back to comfortable silence.

After a couple minutes Tessa unlocks her phone again and opens the camera app before holding it in front of them for a selfie.

“Well, I´m sure your new fan would like a picture, eh,” she says and presses the shutter button when both of them are looking and smiling at the camera. Then to Scott´s surprise she leans in and takes a snapshot her pressing her lips to his cheek.

“I definitely don´t mind those pictures,” Scott replies and then gives her a quick peck on the cheek as well before taking her hand that was resting on his knee and clasping it in his. Tessa gives it a squeeze before leaning further into his side, causing Scott to pull his head back slightly to look at her, “you Ok Tess?” he asks genuinely concerned.

Tessa angles her body so that she´s looking at him, “I´ve never been better,” she answers with a shy smile, “but can I be completely honest with you Scott?”

This scares Scott and the expression on his face shows Tessa that, who is quick to diffuse the situation, “No nothing bad per se. It´s just, god this is going to be so embarrassing,” she starts.

“Hey,” Scott says squeezing her hand, “you can tell me anything, I won´t judge you. I know we´ve only known each other for a couple days but you can trust me.”

“That´s the problem though. We´ve only known each other a couple days and, and …” Tessa takes a deep breath before staring Scott deep into the eyes, “We´ve only known each other a couple and I´m falling in love with you and it´s crazy. I mean this is so crazy and I feel like I´m losing my mind cause in what universe would this ever work or happen, and..”, Tessa rambles on before Scott places a hand on her cheek.

“Hey,” he softly sweeps his thumb over the apple of her cheek getting her to stop talking, “it may seem crazy, but at least I know I´m not the only one going crazy or losing their mind. I´m falling for you too Tess.” At that, Tessa´s face transforms into the biggest smile he has ever seen.

“Really,” she asks in a soft tone.

“Really,” Scott answers with a nod of his head, “and like I´ve been losing my mind ever since I´ve gotten to know you better. And if you think it´s crazy, I´ll let you in on a little secret, when I look at you, I can see it all. Now tell me who the crazy one is,” he chuckles looking at Tessa´s stunned face.

“Wow,” Tessa says in a gasped voice. “Well Romeo, don´t you think you should at least ask me for my number first or even better, kiss me first before thinking that far down the line. I wouldn´t want to let you down.” Tessa replies.

“Never, no you couldn´t let me down ever Tess,” Scott answers and places his hand back onto her cheek, his eyes flicking down to her lips trying to send a clear message. Tessa nods ever so slightly, giving Scott all the answers he needs to softly and gently press his lips against hers. The kiss is what Tessa would describe as the picture perfect first kiss; soft, gentle but oh so passionate. It´s Tessa that makes the first move to deepen the kiss by winding her arms behind Scott´s neck, playing with the hair on his neck and tracing his lips with her tongue.

After a while they break apart, both breathless but with massive smiles on their faces. The rest their foreheads together. “After that, I can definitely see everything with you,” Scott says earning a light smack to the arm from Tessa.

“You say you can see it all, but god this is gonna sound even more crazy, what if I told you I want it all with you,” Tessa tells him and the only reply she gets is the feeling of his lips back on hers.


 

20 minutes, some more kissing and talking later they make their way back to Tessa´s hotel, Tessa´s hand clasped tightly in his. They had agreed that they both wanted to give this a realistic chance but would talk more about them next week when Scott was back in Ilderton.

In the elevator up to her room they stand wrapped up in each other’s arms and when they reach her door, they just stand there for a couple of minutes. Tessa is having an internal debate on what to say when her thoughts are interrupted by Scott.

He puts a finger under her chin guiding her eyes to meet his, “It´s ok Tess. I´m not going to pressure you or do anything you don´t want and you have an early morning traveling back home. And honestly, the past few hours have been amazing. We´ll figure it all out sometime next week, if you´ll go on a second date with me?” Tessa just nods and then gives him a gentle kiss.

“I´ve had the most amazing time these past couple days,” Tessa tells him when she pulls away but his hands stay wrapped around her waist. “And that´s all down to you Scott. You´ve made me and Ethan feel so welcome and given us so many amazing memories that I will be forever grateful for but after tonight I am also looking forward to creating so many more amazing memories with you. You´re the most amazing guy I have ever met,” she finishes and leans back in to kiss him.

“I´m going to miss you so much,” Tessa mumbles against his lips.

“Me too, but we´ll manage and before you know it I´ll be back in Ilderton and we can figure it all out, Ok?” Tessa nods.

“Yeah, I better let you go, you´re meeting your mom tomorrow morning and you have practice, and I have to get back to London and will probably be interrogated by my mom and sister for the whole 1.5 hour drive,” Tessa chuckles and so does Scott before pressing another kiss to her lips.

“Yeah, ok but important question before we part ways and I know we would probably clear this up next week but, god this is going to be so cheesy, but Tessa, will you be my girlfriend?”

Tessa lets out a loud laugh and immediately clamps her hand over her mouth realising the time. “God you are such a sap,” she chuckles, “and I am looking forward to getting to know sap mode Moir even more. And to answer your question, I´d love to be your girlfriend, if you´ll be my boyfriend.”

Scott wraps her up in a tight hug, nestling against her neck and placing a kiss there, “I´d love to be your boyfriend.”

After quickly wrapping up their conversation and some more long passionate kisses, Tessa sends Scott on his way home and he promises to text her once he gets home.

After going through her night-time routine, Tessa slips into bed and is happy to find a text waiting from Scott on her phone.

You and Ethan are the best things I never knew I needed. I´m so grateful you guys have come into my life, and I intend to never let you out of it. These past days have been crazy, but I know what ever we do, it will be worth it, and I can´t wait for the journeys to come for us. Scott

The smile on Tessa´s face grows as she replies:

You have bewitched my soul and body. You´ve made these past days the best days of our lives and I can´t wait for all the best days of our lives still to come with you. Our story is crazy, but I wouldn´t change it for the world. I´m sure Ethan is dreaming about playing hockey with you. Your biggest fans xx

She hits send and attaches the photo her mom had sent her of Ethan sleeping in Scott´s jersey and she attaches all the photos they took on the bench at the waterfront before placing her phone down and falling asleep dreaming of the future she sees with Scott.


 

The next week is filled with many text messages, phone calls and facetime calls. Tessa makes sure Ethan also gets a lot of time with Scott on Facetime calls and often they work out to be when both Tessa and Ethan as well as Scott are eating dinner. Ethan tells him all about what he´s doing in kindergarten and how his hockey is going and that he has a game on the weekend, which Scott makes a mental note of, secretly planning out his surprise already. They hang up after dinner so that Tessa can get Ethan cleaned up and into bed, and once Tessa is in bed herself, she´ll call Scott back and they´ll talk and laugh until they can barely keep their eyes open.

When Friday evening rolls around, Tessa is exhausted from her work week but giddy about the weekend. Ethan has a game on Saturday and then the plan is that Scott arrives around lunchtime on Sunday and has lunch with her and Ethan and hangs around for a couple hours before he goes on to his family and then they´ll meet more during the week.

On Saturday morning Ethan is up bright and early, bursting with energy for his hockey game. Tessa manages to convince him to join her in her bed for some more sleepy/cuddle time before they start the day. Kate comes over just before they head to the rink for the game and they enjoy an early lunch together. Tessa hasn´t told her mom or Jordan about the developments with Scott even though they had pestered her about it on their drive back to London after their weekend down in Toronto. She wanted her and Scott to properly talk and sort out all the nitty gritty stuff before she told them, even though she already knew that this relationship with Scott was a special one.

When they arrive at the rink, Tessa drops Ethan off at the dressing room and then leaves to find her mom in the stands. Only specially appointed parents are allowed in the dressing room to help all players get ready and Tessa is relieved to be able to sit down in the stands and sip on the coffee her mom had gotten her. Both of them are excited to watch Ethan´s first game back since his trip to Toronto, eager to see if (and they know it probably won´t be much) he has improved since playing with the Leafs.

The game starts and whilst some of the players are still unsteady on their skates and their stick handling skills aren´t great (they are just about 3 or 4) Ethan and his skills stand out amongst all players and he manages to score twice before the second third is over. Just before the 3rd third starts Kate gets a text from Casey asking for her help in an emergency and Tessa doesn´t even hesitate to tell her to go.

Just before the game is over, Scott manages to enter the arena without being seen and is able to catch the last couple of minutes from just beside the rink. Ethan even manages to score another goal and Scott couldn´t be prouder of his little buddy and he can´t wait to see his face when he sees him.

The final buzzer goes. Ethan´s team won 5:2 and the players all shake hands as best they can and then start to file off the ice. Ethan is the last one left on the ice, waving to his mom in the stands. Tessa starts heading towards the dressing room with some of the other parents, waiting for their kids to join them.

Ethan heads towards the exit of the ice not really looking up, since he knows his way which is why he doesn´t notice the figure step onto the ice and crouch at the exit. Just before Ethan gets to the exit Scott decides to reveal himself.

“Great game E!” he shouts to the little boy whose head snaps up immediately and his stick falls out of his hands when he realises who is crouched in front of him. He skates as fast as he can towards Scott, who catches him and hugs him tightly.

“Scott!” Ethan exclaims with a massive smile on his face before going back to hug his friend tightly, “I missed you,” he tells him.

“Aww buddy, I missed you too. You played really good out there,” Scott says and hoists Ethan onto his hip. “How about we get off this ice and go find your mom,” Scott suggests as he bends down to pick up Ethan´s stick and then steps off the ice safely, with Ethan snuggled in his arms.

Tessa is still waiting patiently outside the dressing room wondering why Ethan is taking so long. She knows he´s typically one of the last kids off the ice but today he´s taking longer than usual. She´s just about to head back towards the ice when she hears the sound of her son laughing cling through the hallways expecting him to arrive any moment. What she doesn´t expect to see is her son laughing and being carried by her boyfriend who is only supposed to get here tomorrow.

“Mama, look who came!” Ethan shouts excitedly and Tessa breaks out into a huge grin. She´s still too shocked to answer and she notices Scott speed up his pace as he comes closer to where she is standing, and the next thing she knows is that Scott´s arm is around her and she´s held tightly against his chest with her son right next to her. Her arms wrap around him immediately and she squeezes tightly, still not able to get a word out. Ethan starts to wriggle about and Scott sets him down and Ethan walks into the dressing room. Instantly Scott´s free arm comes to wrap around her waist and draws her in closer.

He nuzzles his face into her neck, “Hey you,” he whispers softly and pulls back to look her in the eyes.

“What are you doing here?” are the only words Tessa is able to formulate.

“Surprise!” is all Scott says before Tessa kisses him and whispers “best surprise ever” against his lips. The kiss doesn´t last as long as either of them would want it to but they know they´re in public and although Tessa isn´t famous, Scott is, and they need to talk before they announce their relationship to the world.


 

An hour or so later they finally leave the rink. Scott had gone into the dressing room to surprise Ethan´s teammates, who obviously all wanted their picture taken with him. So, many pictures and autographs later, Tessa is finally back in her car with a sleepy Ethan in the back and Scott in his car following her to her house.

Scott had managed to tell her that since he came up early, he didn´t have any other plans and would be free for the whole rest of the day, which Tessa pounced on and invited him over to have dinner with her and Ethan and just hang out. Tessa pulls up in her driveway and Scott does the same right beside her. Before Tessa has even managed to unbuckle a now fully asleep Ethan, Scott has already taken all of Ethan´s bags out of her trunk and made his way over to her front door. Tessa gets Ethan out of the car and then fumbles with her keys before opening the door and inviting Scott into their home. She signals to him that she´s just going to lay Ethan down in his room and will be back with him in just a few minutes.

Scott places Ethan´s bags in the hallway and then toes off his shoes and takes off his jacket and hangs it on one of the hooks in the hallway before making his way to the kitchen. A few moments later Tessa emerges from upstairs and is quick to throw herself into Scott´s arms. The two of them just holding each other and relishing in the moment of being reunited again. They then spend a few moments reacquainting their lips with each other’s before migrating to the couch.

On the couch they just lounge in each other´s arms, talking about the past week and everything that´s been going on. After a while Scott decides it might be time to talk about the heavy stuff.

“Do you want to talk about the big stuff now, or do you want to wait until after dinner?” he tentatively asks.

“I´m good with doing it now. Ethan might sleep another hour or so and I´ll probably be too tired after dinner since he was so early. Do you want to start?” She answers and Scott nods.

“I´ll repeat what I said two weeks ago, but I know it´s only been a short time, but I´ve fallen so deeply in love with you T and it´s so insane to me that it´s only been two weeks but it feels like I´ve known you for 20 years. And people will say I´m insane but I want everything with you and Ethan, but I´m also not going to push for anything. I want to move at your pace, and I know you have Ethan to think about and I don´t want to disrupt anything there. He such an awesome kid and I also love him already so much. I just want to be with you guys and spend all the time I possibly can with you,” Scott finishes with a sigh and a tear leaking out of his eye. He looks over at Tessa and sees that her gorgeous green eyes have gone misty.

Tessa squeezes his hand, “you´ve taken the words out of my mouth Scott. I am so deeply in love with you and I don´t care what other people think, when you know, you just know, no matter how long or short you´ve known someone. I want it all with you. And the relationship you already have with Ethan is just so amazing to watch. For so long it was just the two of us and now you´ve come into our lives and I wouldn´t have it any other way. You´re such a great role model to him and more than that, I don´t want to scare you, but you´re a dad to him and I couldn´t be happier seeing you two and the smiles on both of your faces,” at that Scott laces his fingers through Tessa´s and tugs on her arm until she is in his lap and he wraps her up in a tight hug. They stay like that for a few minutes before Tessa pulls away slightly and presses a passionate kiss to Scott´s lips. Scott´s attempt to deepen it is cut short by a little voice calling out “mama” upstairs. Tessa pulls away.

“He´s probably looking for me, I´ll go get him,” Tessa says quickly pecking his lips before disappearing upstairs to grab Ethan.

Five minutes later Tessa reappears carrying Ethan down the stairs and the minute he is on the ground he is running over to Scott who is still sitting on the sofa, “Scott!!” Ethan yells and then Scott is scooping him up and tickling him until he is laughing so hard, he can´t breathe.

“Hey buddy, how was your nap?”

“Good, I dream of hockey,” he tells Scott excitedly, who then asks him more questions about his dream whilst Tessa prepares his after-nap snack in the kitchen.

 

The three of them spend the rest of the afternoon playing games, reading books and after eating dinner together and watching a quick movie before Ethan is put down to bed. Whilst Tessa is upstairs putting him down, Scott cleans up the kitchen and then sits back down on the couch. When Ethan is asleep Tessa joins Scott downstairs again, snuggling into his side on the couch, earning a kiss to the top of her head. The two chat about the day and just random stuff until Scott´s phone starts buzzing on the coffee table and he sees that it is his mother calling.

“You better get that,” Tessa says and nods her head towards his phone.

Scott groans as he reaches for it, trying not to lose the comfortable position the two of them were in.

“Hey ma,” Scott answers and before he can get another word in, Alma is yelling into the phone so loudly that even Tessa can hear it.

“Scott Patrick, were you going to tell me you´re in town already? Why did Charlie, who found out from Cara, who saw a video on that twitter thing, ask me whether he knew where his baby brother was since he was in town?” At that Tessa and both Scott chuckle.

“Yes Ma, I am in town.”

Alma starts talking again but this time Tessa can´t hear it. It isn´t until Scott repeats, “should you be expecting me at home this evening,” that she looks up and sees that Scott is asking her what she is comfortable with. She shakes her head and mouths the words stay to him.

“No, Ma I won´t be home this evening.”

“Well where are you then, if you´re in town but not staying at home,” Alma asks and again Scott seeks Tessa´s eyes to ask if she is ok with him telling his mom. Tessa just nods again.

“I´m at my girlfriend´s and before you start asking questions, I´m still coming over as planned tomorrow so you can torture me with all your questions then. Now, I´d like to hang up and spend the evening relaxing.”

“Ok Scott, but I have questions so be prepared. But before I let you hang up, I´ve got one question.”

Scott sighs, “go ahead,”

“Will you bring her to dinner with you tomorrow?”

Scott chuckles, “I´ll discuss it with her and then you´ll see the result tomorrow, ok?” he tells his mom.

“Ok. I´ll see you tomorrow. Love you.”

“Love you too,” and with that he hangs up.

“Sorry about that,” he turns to Tessa and kisses her cheek.

“That´s alright, some of it was quite entertaining,” she chuckles.

“Yeah, well Ma wants to know if you would join me at dinner tomorrow and I told her I would discuss it with you, and she´d see the results tomorrow.”

Tessa yawns, “how about we go lie down upstairs and we can continue talking then.” Scott just nods and agrees before quickly placing his lips on hers and giving her a passionate kiss. (talking was definitely not the only thing they did in Tessa´s room that night).


 

When Scott wakes in the morning, it´s to a naked Tessa curled into his side. He just admires her soft, sleeping form whilst stroking his hand up and down her arm. She looks so peaceful and beautiful in the lighting and although Scott would love nothing more than to wake her up and maybe continue their activities from last night, he knows he shouldn´t. For one, Ethan is just down the hallway and unlike last night, there are chances he could wake any moment and secondly, he just wants Tessa to rest. He may not be able to fully comprehend everything she and Ethan have been through but from what she told him, he knows she spent many sleepless nights in the hospital so she really deserves any rest she can get.

So, he gently gets out of bed and wraps the blanket around Tessa before finding the t-shirt and trousers he was wearing yesterday and closing the door behind him to walk down to the kitchen, to see if he could start making some breakfast.

Scott´s just about finished making the batter for pancakes when he hears the patter of small feet on the stairs and knows it will be a matter of seconds before Ethan enters the kitchen.

“Mama!” the little boy screeches upon entering the kitchen, only for his face to turn into an even bigger smile, “Scott!”.

“Hey buddy!” Scott says as he wipes his hands and swings the boy up into his arms, “how was your sleep?”

“Good,” Ethan answers with a nod of his head. “Why are you here and where is mama?” Ethan asks as an inquisitive three-and-a-half-year-old.

“Your mama and I were talking very late last night and I fell asleep, so your mama let me sleep here. Is that ok?” He asks. He knows that Ethan doesn´t know the full extent of the story but he wants to make sure that he is ok with him being here and around.

“Yep!” Ethan exclaims and rests his head on Scott´s shoulder.

“And as for where your mama is, I think she´s still asleep. Do you want to help me make some pancakes and then we can bring it to her?”

“Pancakes!” Ethan screeches raising his hands in the air and earning a chuckle from Scott.

“Ok buddy, lets get to work,” Scott says giving a quick kiss to Ethan´s head before sitting him down on the counter so he can help.

 

20 minutes later they have a tray of pancakes and coffee and Ethan is walking a step ahead of Scott towards Tessa´s room. Ethan opens the room and looks back at Scott as if asking for permission who just nods his head and then Ethan is running into the room.

Scott decides to wait at the doorway and let the two of them enjoy a few moments. Ethan walks round to side of the bed where Tessa is laying and then as best as he can reach tries to shake her awake whilst yelling “mama” simultaneously. Tessa slowly wakes up and a smile stretches across Scott´s face as he watches her scoop Ethan up onto the bed and into her arms to receive some morning cuddles.

“Me and Scott make pancakes,” Ethan proudly tells Tessa in and then for the first time that morning she lays eyes on the man standing in the doorway with the softest smile on his face. She cocks her head at him, telling him to join them and Scott slowly makes his way over to her side of the bed so he can place the tray of food and coffee down on her bedside table. He then awkwardly stands there twisting his hands, not really knowing what to do. Tessa can see his discomfort and quickly comes to his rescue.

“E, do you want to go grab a book and we can read a story?” she asks her son who nods excitedly before scrambling down the bed and off towards his room.

Tessa pats the space beside her, “come here.” Scott climbs into the bed and sits himself next to Tessa who then pulls the sheets back over their legs.

She turns to him and leans in to kiss him. Scott reciprocates before both pull away, letting their foreheads rest against each other. “Morning,” Tessa smiles.

“Morning,” Scott replicates before continuing, “are you sure it´s ok that I´m in here?” he shyly asks.

Tessa can see the concern on his face regarding the situation and Ethan, but she knows that she loves him, and she knows that Ethan does too, so she´s not too worried about it. She caresses his cheek with her hand, and he presses a kiss into her palm. “If I weren´t ok with it, I would have told you ok?” Scott just nods. “Plus, I think and hear me out, I know we´ve only been dating for like three weeks but the earlier we let Ethan know about this and ease him into the idea the better. I know he adores you and the quicker we can get to a somewhat new “normal” the better not only for him, but also it would mean we don´t have to hide our relationship around you and he can build his relationship with you.” Tessa tells him.

“Ok. But I have two questions,” Tessa just nods for him to go ahead. “First, are you going to tell him right now? And secondly, well it´s not really a question but I just need to know where my boundaries are and I need you to be honest with me about this, if anything is too much just tell me. Don´t hold back, I don´t want to mess this up.”

Tessa smiles and presses a quick kiss to his cheek and then rests her hand on his thigh under the cover. She knows Ethan will be back any moment. “Yes, I was going to tell him right now before we read the story. I have a feeling he will be really excited. And as for the boundaries, you´ve been doing great so far and I will tell you if I´m not comfortable with something ok?”

Scott nods, “I love you,” and smiles at her.

“I love you too,” Tessa reciprocates and leans in for a soft kiss before twisting her body to grab her coffee. Scott just chuckles and at that moment Ethan comes running back into the bedroom. Tessa quickly grabs him and hefts him onto the bed between herself and Scott.

“Wow, Ethan that´s a lot of books you picked there. Which one you want to start with?” Tessa asks him and Scott raises an eyebrow at her other Ethan´s head thinking she was going to tell him about her and Scott. Tessa just winks back at him.

“This one!” Ethan exclaims holding a hockey book towards Tessa with a smile.

“Good choice, that´s your favourite one eh?” Tessa says and tickles him under his chin when he nods.

“Before I read to you, I need to talk to you though, well Scott and I need to talk to you,” Ethan whips his head around to smile at Scott, who just smiles back and then feels Tessa´s hand on his neck, forcing him to look at her.

And then Tessa (with Scott´s occasional help) tries as best as she can to explain to her three-and-a-half-year-old son that the man who they had met just about 3 weeks ago is now going to be a constant in their lives and that she loves and he loves her but more importantly he loves Ethan so much.

At the end of her explanation Ethan is still all smiles and only asks three questions:

Does this mean they are boyfriend and girlfriend now? And specifies like Simba and Nala, to which they answer yes.

Whether they get to play more hockey with Scott now? To which they again answer yes and Ethan turns so that he can settle down in Scott´s lap and Scott´s arms instinctively wrap around the little boy pulling him closer and he rests his head against his chest.

And finally, if they can finally read the story now? To which Tessa asks, “do you want me or Scott to read?” and after contemplating for a few seconds Ethan just looks up and Scott and smiles whilst nuzzling further into his chest, giving the two adults all the indications as to who is to read.

And then, Tessa´s heart melts for what is definitely not the first time she´s seen Scott and Ethan interact and also knows will definitely not be the last, as Scott grabs the book from where it´s been lying on the end of the bed and starts reading to her son whilst reaching for her hand and pulling her against his chest too, for what will be the first of many shared happy moments as the small family unit they have built themselves in the last 3 weeks and the unit that they couldn´t have wished for or imagined when they first met.

 

 

 

 


Two months later at Christmas and Tessa finds herself in the same position, sitting in bed on Christmas morning with the two boys in her life she loves more than anything in the world. Just this time, Ethan is in her lap and they are watching Scott unwrap a very special Christmas gift. Just before Christmas Tessa had had some important meetings with her lawyer and had also spoken with Ethan and now here they were watching Scott open his present from Ethan, asking him to officially adopt him.

Although Ethan doesn´t refer to Scott as dad (yet), the two have such a strong relationship and Scott has stepped up into the dad role better than anyone could have expected. Obviously, he was still away a fair bit of the time but was also going to be changing soon. So, Tessa had explained to Ethan what an adoption is and if he would like for Scott to be his dad for real and Ethan was so happy, that Tessa had immediately booked an appointment with her lawyer.

Tessa watched Scott´s expression as he scanned over the papers and when he realized what this was all about, his face broke out into a massive grin and then tears were rolling down his cheeks. He looked up at Tessa, who now also had tears streaming from her eyes and then he looked at Ethan who grinned back at him.

“Really?” he croaks out and Tessa can just nod waiting for Ethan to make his move.

Ethan just charges out of Tessa´s lap and wraps his arms around Scott who also wraps the boy up in his arms.

“I want you to be my dad for real,” Ethan tells him and then Scott is overcome with emotion and his sobs break out of him.

“I would love that E!” he tells him and then Tessa wraps her arms around her two boys and Ethan surprises them both and makes the moment even more perfect.

“I love you mom and dad,” he tells them and in that moment nothing else in the world matters.


In June, Tessa and her whole family along with Scott´s entire family are sitting in one of the private suites in the Scotiabank arena. Well, at least they are trying to sit. Below them on the ice, the last third of the final Stanley cup game is being played. After a long drought, the Leafs had finally made it back to the playoff finals and were now tied 3-3 against the Washington Capitals. Scott had played phenomenally in all games, being hit hard but also scoring 3 goals.

Their relationship was stronger than ever, and both of their families had basically become one big one. Luckily, all of their siblings get along really well and although Tessa had to tell Jordan a couple times to stop intimidating Scott, she knew she approved of their relationship. The adoption process had taken awhile but they got official confirmation that Scott was now legally Ethan´s dad just before he went off to play the first playoff final game in Washington.

Although Tessa and Ethan hadn´t been able to travel to the away games because of work and Ethan´s preschool, they had made sure not to miss a single minute of any game. All the Moirs and Virtues would gather, mainly at Joe and Alma´s house, and they would all watch together.

Usually, Tessa was calm and collected but during the games she was a ball of nerves and couldn´t seem to stop fidgeting around, a habit she either picked up from her son or Scott.

The game playing below her was incredibly intense. There were about 3 minutes left and the teams were tied 1-1. It was obviously incredibly important for the Leafs to win a Stanley cup after such a long time, but what nobody except one or two people in the Leafs organisation and Scott´s family knew, was that this would be his last game in his career. This made Tessa even more nervous and she had to control her grip holding Ethan in her lap to ensure she didn´t squish him. Alma was just as much a ball of nerves, but Joe was calm as ever holding Alma´s hand.

The last 30 seconds were running down on the clock when Barrie got the puck behind the Leaf´s goal and passes it down the side to Marner who drives forward and then spots an open Moir in the centre who slaps the puck into the Capital´s goal. The stadium goes wild and there is no holding in the suite the Virtues and Moirs are in. Screaming and hugging and jumping and overall just smiles, but joe reminds everybody, that there are still 20 seconds left and 10 seconds is all a hockey game needs in order to change again.

The clock ticks and the closer it gets to hitting 0, the more palpable the electricity in the arena becomes.

When the buzzer goes, securing Toronto the cup, the stadium erupts and all Leafs players pile onto one another on centre ice. Tessa cannot believe what is happening and Ethan is enjoying being thrown around by all his uncles in celebration. In complete disbelief she wraps her arms around Alma and the two shed a few tears together before going to join the rowdy bunch of the families for celebration.

 

Ten minutes later, with Ethan in her arms she is guided by a security guard down towards the ice and then before she knows it she´s on the carpet they had put down for the player´s families and running towards Scott´s open arms who easily catches her and Ethan. And then the three are in their bubble just celebrating, hugging each other as tightly as they can. Ethan wriggles around at Tessa lets him down, knowing that their families are close behind and someone will keep and eye on him before jumping up and wrapping her legs around Scott.

“I am so freaking proud of you babe, I don´t even know what to say,” she tells him.

“Thank you,” is all Scott croaks out before pressing his lips against hers and somehow trying to convey everything he is feeling through the kiss. (It´s a moment captured by a photographer that will go viral and Tessa will print out in big and hang in their home.)

After 5 minutes alone time with Scott she has to surrender him to the rest of their families and she grabs Ethan once he´s been on a celebratory skate with his dad and hugs him tightly to her body.

 

****

As captain of the team, Scott is the one to lift the Stanley cup, which he does proudly and with tears in his arms. Once he´s had his fill with the trophy, posing for pics that Tessa gladly takes, they´ll get another chance for family pics with it later, he skates back towards Tessa and Ethan and grabs their hands and pulls them to the side to just celebrate with them again and when it finally hits him, that he just played his final career game, he is able to cry into Tessa´s shoulder, who has been so supportive of him throughout their whole relationship, and whilst she too is sad that this part of his life is over, she knows that he is happy with decision he made.

When he lifts his head off her shoulder, Ethan is there to hug him and he gives Tessa a quick kiss before turning around and seeing the camera teams and reporters waiting for an interview with the captain. Tessa tries to step away so that he can go do his interviews, but his grip on her hand just becomes stronger and she understands, that he wants his family there with him, but she also knows that this is not how he wants to inform the team and the fans about his decision. So he quickly tells the reporters he will be with them in 10 minutes before he goes to find Sheldon Keefe and Kyle Dubas, the only two in the organisation that know about his decision. He grabs the microphone from them and then goes to stand in the centre of the ice to address his team and the fans, with Tessa by his side and Ethan in his arms.

“How we doing Toronto?!” he starts and receives a loud cheer from everyone.

“The waiting is finally over. The cup is back where it belongs and we are so happy to be able to share it with everyone here tonight!” More screaming ensures.

“I would just like to take this moment to thank every single player and coaching member that has made this moment possible for us. You guys put in everything you had not only today but throughout the whole season and beyond that. You can all be immensely proud of yourselves and everyone in the organisation can give themselves a massive pat on the back for the efforts they have portrayed. I am so proud of all of us and happy for us and it´s been an honour being able to work with everyone day in and day out. So, thank you everyone!” The team cheers and Tessa tightens her grip around Scott´s waist. He takes a deep breath and smiles down at her.

“To the fans, you´ve been incredible and are without a shadow of a doubt the best fans in the entire league! Without you none of this would be possible and we love you guys some much. Thank you for your unwavering love and support,” Scott starts to get chocked up, “it´s part of what makes playing here in Toronto for the Leafs such an honour. Thank you!”

Scott knows that he will now have to make the toughest announcement in his career.

“I´ve got to get personal for a minute here. To my friends and family that have been there since day one, I can´t put into words how much your support means to me and this trophy is as much your win as it is mine. To my lovely partner Tess and my son Ethan,” gasps fill the stadium. Scott had decided to tell his teammates about the adoption but no the fans, “I love you both some much and I thank my lucky stars every day that I have not been able to work in my dream job, but that through it, I also met the love of my life and a son who is so incredible, that I cannot put it into words. Thank you,” he finishes croaking out and presses a kiss first to Ethan´s head and then to Tessa´s lips.

“Today is one of the best days of my life which makes what I am about to say even tougher, but I know that it is the right thing for me and my family.

Today’s game was the last game in my career as an NHL player,” Scott announces and whilst gasps of shock go around the stands and through his teammates, he lets the tears flow freely and looks at Tessa with a smile.

“I know this comes as a shock to many of you and believe me, this wasn´t an easy decision to make, but in the end, it was best for me and for my family. In my now 8 seasons with the Leafs, I have experienced the best and worst times of my life and it has meant everything to me to be able to play here for this incredible team and for you, the incredible fans. I have met some of my closest friends here and met people that have shaped my life in ways they probably don´t even know. But I also met the love of my life and my son, and I became a dad. And that´s when I knew that my priorities have shifted. I have a family now and I don´t want to live apart from them. I want my son to have a dad who is there for him everyday and not just when my hockey schedule allows it,” Scott explains in full tears and a shaky voice, “and for that reason, I hereby announce my retirement as an NHL player. To be able to end my career on this high, surrounded by friends and family is the absolute pinnacle, and whilst I will dearly miss being here with everybody, playing in front of our fans, I know that nothing beats being home with my family. Thank you to everybody who´s been here, helped me reach my goals and impacted my life. I wouldn´t be here without. And now let’s go celebrate!” he finished and wraps his arms around Tessa in a tight hug. They stay wrapped up like that until his teammates come and drag him away, and then it´s a while before Tessa sees him again because he goes to give his interviews.

When Scott finds her again, he quickly grabs her and Ethan, who he knows will soon be asleep and gets someone to take a picture of the three of them with the cup and one silly one with Ethan sitting in the cup. They take one massive family picture with everyone that came out to support before they finally leave the ice.

Once he´s showered and dressed, he finds his family and all the other player families in one of the conference rooms and the celebrations are just about to get underway. He knows that his parents and Tessa´s mom won´t be staying, they´ll have a family barbeque to celebrate next week but he also knows that he now needs to say goodnight to Ethan who is nearly asleep already. Joe and Alma will take him with them back to his place, where they are staying in the guest bedroom.

Tessa transfers Ethan from her arms into Scott´s for him to say goodnight. He whispers words of love and good dreams to his son before passing him on to his grandparents, whom he bids farewell as well before joining Tessa and the rest of the party again.

They party long and hard.


 

A week later, Scott is officially moved out of Toronto and into Tessa´s house in London. Tessa had originally thought they would find a new house together, but Scott knew how much she loved her house and he also didn´t want to take Ethan out of the place he grew up in. It was big enough for the three of them and any possible future additions. It was also in prime location for his new project that Tessa would also be working on. He hadn´t made an announcement when asked by reporters during his media tour on what he would be doing now, but the project had been in the works since his decision on retirement. Scott had booked an interview with TSN for the end of summer to announce his plans but for now, he was enjoying being home and with his family.

Weeks later, at the end of summer, Scott announced the opening of the Moir Sports Academy on the outskirts of London. The academy would for now focus on hockey and providing promising talents with a place to develop their skills as well as get a good education and prepare them for whatever life will present them with. In the future they will expand to include figure skating but for the first couple years hockey is the primary sport. Tessa is working as his business partner on this project having left her fashion company to focus on the business and marketing of the academy and Scott couldn´t be happier and prouder of the work she´s done and continues to do every day. And the time he´s been able to spend with just her and Ethan these last couple of weeks have been the greatest gift he has ever received.

A few weeks after that he and Tessa are tearfully dropping off Ethan for senior kindergarten and they just can´t imagine what it will be like when he starts grade one.


 

When the hockey season starts again in October, Scott is there on opening night to do a final lap with the cap and then Tessa and Ethan join him on the ice as they watch his jersey be raised to the raptors. After the game, when the arena is empty the three of them sneak out onto the ice one last time and just before Tessa starts to skate off to leave, Scott tugs on her sleeve to get her to turn around and there he is, ring in hand and down on one knee. The only answer Tessa has for him is yes, 100%.

This year Christmas they are planning their summer wedding and when Tessa and Ethan watch him open his special gift this year, they can´t contain their excitement. Wrapped in the box Scott opens are little baby skates and a tiny Leafs jersey with `Baby Moir` written on the back.

Their wedding day is filled with tears, smiles and so many emotions that Tessa cannot put into words. The only way she can express her sheer gratitude and love about everything that has happened is through her vows. The last line of her vows becomes one of their mottos for their future and will always remind them of how they met.

“Scott, I love you unconditionally and the family we have built and continue to build. Ethan and I have found our home and family with you and we couldn’t love you more. You make me the happiest I have ever been and I couldn´t have wished for this!”

And with that Tessa and Ethan Virtue officially become Tessa, Ethan, Baby and Scott Moir.