Willy's sitting in an airport, luggage hand in hand with a flight Cabo in his back pocket when his brother calls to tell him that there’d been a change of plans.
“What the fuck do you mean you don’t have tickets? No, I can’t change the date! I’m at the airport right now Alex! I’m fifteen minutes from boarding!”
Alex, who sounds a little too nonchalant for someone who had somehow booked the wrong flight date, just sighs at him through the phone. Willy wishes he could reach through the screen and strangle him.
“I don’t know what to tell you, Will. I’m not going to be there until the twenty-sixth. Tickets are sold out already.”
“I’m on my way back on the twenty-sixth!” Willy squawks back, indignant.
“Look dude, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize until just now. We can meet up in the States next month instead.”
William feels a headache budding in the back of his skull. Alex doesn’t seem to get the memo.
“Look Will, I gotta go. Just enjoy the beach, have some fun. Relax for once.”
Oh, Willy’s mom will definitely be hearing about this. He begins crafting the text as soon as Alex hangs up. Luckily for his brother, his flight gets called for boarding before he can send it. It takes every bit of Willy’s restraint not to finish the deed on the plane ride over.
He lands in Cabo eight hours later, alone. After finding his rental, and his luggage, Willy does what he thinks anyone alone in a foreign country on vacation should do when they’re stressed. He finds some weed.
He’s propped up on one of the beach chairs in the back of the beach house he found on Airbnb a few months back, looking at the sunset over the water and rolling a fat one in no time at all. The tension is all but gone from his body after the first few hits, and the text to his mother is long forgotten.
Willy almost feels like he’s actually on vacation. It’s nice.
He lets his mind wander to the season as he watches the pink skies mix into the blue, music humming softly from his speakers. They did well this year, he supposes. Comparatively. It’s hard to rationalize though when the season ended with yet another game seven ejection, the ever-elusive second round just out of reach.
He watches as the clouds light upon the horizon and tries to discern the colors. Magenta. Rose. Blush. Coral. Tomorrow, he thinks as the smoke billows lightly around him creating an almost pink haze in the sunlight, he should go to the beach. Maybe he can find a girl to spend the week with. Or a guy. He’s never been picky.
The sky shifts to a dark red, lighting the ocean beneath it up with rich oranges and purples. Willy closes his eyes and lets the sound of the ocean wash through his mind. Feels the splintered wood underneath his feet, still hot from the day before. Yes, the beach sounded nice. Maybe he’d go have brunch in that little café he saw when he was taxied in. Tomorrow would be good. He could feel it.
Tomorrow was not good. Not in the slightest.
Sure, it had started off alright. Willy had gone down to the beach, walked along the shore, even got in the water, and just floated for a little. He’d sat on the back porch some more, reading one of the trashy novels from the bookshelf inside the rental. He’d even gone for a run.
All in all, the morning had been decent. It was the afternoon that had wreaked havoc on his day. He had gone to go get an early lunch after the conclusion of his run, walking a couple of blocks to a little café he had seen coming in. The smells of warm food had reached him before he could even spot the joint. Willy had gone to sit down at one of the tables after placing his order and pulled out his phone. He was scrolling through Instagram when the man walked in.
The man, of course, being David fucking Pastrnak.
Willy did a double-take, and then quickly snatched a newspaper off the table next to him, tearing it open and covering his face like he was in some sort of spy movie he and Alex had watched when they were kids. He stared at the boating adverts, most in Spanish, in disbelief. Why the fuck was David here? Why couldn’t he just leave Willy alone for 5 seconds?
To be fair, though, David hadn’t spoken to him since the incident, so he really couldn’t have been aware of Willy’s plans. In fact, the last thing David had said to Willy was in anger, both of them screaming about commitment in the hotel room on their last vacation together. They had gone to Seattle, so Willy could see the space needle. They didn’t even finish the trip.
It had been for the best though, or at least that’s how he had rationalized it after he was done crying on the airplane back home, sans-David. NHL schedules were hectic, and Boston was a long way from Toronto. Whatever he and David had had, it obviously wasn’t meant to last through that kind of stress. Could Will have had handled it better? Of course, but in the end, it was a long time coming.
It didn’t matter that Willy still found himself reaching for David on nights when he got high in his bedroom, even after four months of radio silence from him. Didn’t matter at all.
Willy peeked around the corner of the newspaper. Yep, definitely, David, with his beautiful hair and strong arms, dressed in a pair of shorts and a Hawaiian shirt undone to his navel. He seemed to be ordering breakfast. God, what was Willy going to do?
As it turned out, it didn’t really matter. David ordered, and then turned into the restroom before sitting down. Willy paid the bill and left his half-eaten eggs on the table as he dashed out of the restaurant. He felt jittery, his heart felt like it was going to burst out of his chest. Stupid vacation. Stupid Alex. Stupid David.
He lights up as soon as he gets back to the rental, hands shaking ever so slightly as he rolled the blunt. Thinks about calling Alex to bitch at him. Or Mitch, to cry at. But, his brother doesn’t pick up, and he’s already bothered Mitch about David enough. He ends up falling asleep in the chair outside instead, lulled by the waves once again.
They’re in the hotel room in Seattle, and Willy wonders how long it’ll be before the noise complaint.
He and David have been at it for going on an hour now, and he can’t even remember what brought it on. His voice is raw, and he can vaguely register in the back of his mind that this is not good, that he should step out and get some air, but the anger clouds his mind and pushes the thought back down before he can act on it. David is gesturing wildly, with a look in his eyes that Willy hasn’t seen since their fight about Willy’s contract issues.
“Are you even fucking listening to me, William?” David’s voice has reached its full crescendo. “Can you seriously not get over yourself enough to even fucking listen to me?”
“I can hear you just fine,” Willy spits as he heads towards their shared room in the suite. David follows him, feet hitting the carpet with force.”
“What the fuck are you doing?” David continues, anger wrapping around his voice and tangling through the air. Willy feels like he’s going to suffocate. “Are you really packing? Are you really that childish that you can’t sit and have an adult conversation about this? About us?”
“This is hardly an adult conversation David!” Willy screams back, haphazardly throwing his stuff into his suitcase. “Don’t you fucking blame me for this. You can’t have adult conversations with someone who refuses to do so.”
“Oh you would know something about that, wouldn’t you,” David bites back, venom in his voice. “How can you tell me that I’m the bad guy here when you’re the one running away from any confrontation we’ve ever had like a fucking coward. How the fuck am I supposed to have an adult conversation when you’re out the door as soon as tensions run even a little higher than usual? Well, guess what William! Talking, and disagreement, that’s all part of a relationship. Working things out together is part of a relationship! And if you can’t fucking do that, then maybe it’s time for us to move on from this shit!”
“Fuck you.” Willy seethes, finally stuffing the remainder of his stuff into his bag. He heads for the door, and David looks on from his place in the bedroom. Willy slams the door extra hard on the way out, tears biting at his eyes as he calls an Uber to the airport.
He wakes up in a cold sweat in Cabo, tears wet on his cheeks and reaching out once again for a body that isn’t there.
“Look, I know you two didn’t end on good terms, but don’t you think you’re being a little overdramatic? I mean, what are the odds you run into him again? Slim to none, I guarantee it.”
Willy is regretting his ill-informed decision to call his brother last night. Alex is proving to be basically useless in consoling Will about his run-in with his ex. To top it off, Will can hear other people in the background, one girl shrilly complaining about a hangover. Stupid Alex, abandoning Will in his time of need to go party in not-Cabo without him.
“He was at the same café, Alex! He’s probably staying somewhere near my rental!”
Alex, who is beginning to sound increasingly distracted by his secret visitors, just hums into the phone.
“Look Will, it’s been a few months now. Maybe you just need to get out there?”
Alex pauses like he’s waiting for Will to say something. Willy stays sullenly silent instead, because screw Alex, and Alex sighs before continuing.
“All I’m saying is maybe you’ve been too hung up on the guy for too long. You should go out and find someone else, nothing serious. Stop moping around that beach house you rented, and actually, go do something.”
“I am doing things!”
“Sure, you are.”
Willy thinks about arguing some more but decides against it. Instead, he huffs and hangs up. But his mind is still turning. Maybe Alex, for all his lack of tack, is on to something. Willy’s in Cabo, for fucks sake! And he deserves an actual vacation. Not whatever he’s been doing for the past forty-eight hours.
By noon, Willy has made up his mind. He’s going to go get incredibly drunk tonight, and maybe go dancing. And if someone finds him, then so be it.
For now, though, he’s going to go sit on the beach and watch the clouds. Try not to think of all the times he and David would do the same thing outside the rink after practice when David was in town. Try not to think of David at all.
Some things are easier said than done, but Willy gives it his best try. Whether he’s successful remains to be seen.
He gets dressed up later that evening, in a Hawaiian shirt that would have made David chuckle a few months back. After a few searches online, he finds a club that looks like he could have some fun in, orders an uber, and gets going. By the time the sun has set, he’s bouncing around on the dance floor, a few drinks in and feeling the best he has in a while. He doesn’t complain when the pretty brunette who’d been eyeing him from across the bar slides up to him, instead of placing his hand on her back and gently directing her to the dance floor. He vaguely registers her resemblance to David in the back of his mind as she grinds down on him but dismisses the thought immediately. There was no room for David tonight. Willy was having a good time, and he wasn’t going to let him ruin it.
The brunette - he thinks her name was Monica? - eventually leaves him for another guy, and Willy heads back to the bar for more drinks. God, he was going to be feeling it tomorrow. He scans the crowd as he sips on his final drink of the night, eyes searching through the haze of the club for anyone who might pique his interest before he gives it up and hauls himself back to the house. He’s lost in the atmosphere, thinking about how he may be a little drunker than he intended to be, so it startles him when he feels someone slide up next to him on the bar. He almost jumps out of his skin when he sees who it is.
“Willy? Is that you?”
David. Fucking David, who can’t seem to let Willy have a good time by himself. David, who’s looking just as hot as ever. David, who’s looking down at him, his face all scrunched up like it used to be when Willy did something that concerned him. Willy fucking hates him. He tells him as much, lightly slurring his words. David has the audacity to look affronted. It makes Willy more annoyed, alcohol and self-righteous anger pumping through his veins. He pushes his finger into David’s chest, ready to give him a piece of his mind, but falls into him a little in the process. David grabs him before he hits the floor, steadying him and Willy’s protests are long forgotten.
“You’re fucking drunk William.”
William shakes his head. Stupid David. “Obbbviouslyy,” He slurs. “Wouldn’t talk to you otherwise.”
David looks a little sad, and Willy feels a tinge of remorse, but not quite enough to keep his mouth shut.
“You jus’ had to ruin my good time, didn’ you. Can’t jus’ leave me ‘lone.”
David just shakes his head. “You need to go home Will. Where are you staying?”
“’m not tellin’ you. You’d ruin it.”
David manages to gently manhandle Willy out of the club. Willy can see the furrow further settling on his brow, and he has the urge to reach up and smooth it. In the haze of his mind, he vaguely registers that he’s being kind of a dick. But he had just wanted to have a good time on his shitty vacation. He’d just wanted to think about something other than David.
“William.” He’s startled out of his thoughts by David and lolls his head to the side to look at him from where he’s holding Willy up like a limp rag doll. “You need to tell me where you’re staying so I can get you home.”
“Why‘re you calling me that? You nev’r call me that.”
He can see the frustration building upon David’s face. Good.
“If you don’t answer the question, we’re going to mine. I can’t leave you like this.” David grits out, as he hauls Willy into an Uber. That’s strange. Willy doesn’t remember him calling an uber. He tells him as much, and David looks ready to scream. Serves him right, Willy thinks, as he falls back under in the backseat of the uber, lulled by the sway of the car and David’s voice as he softly instructs the driver on where to go.
Willy wakes up in an unfamiliar hotel room, with a pounding headache. He’s in the clothes from the night before he notes, but his shoes are missing. He’s also the only one in the bed. Go figure.
He gets up and sees his shoes, placed neatly beside the shut door to the bedroom, and tries to rack his brain for any memory or recollection of last night. Did he go home with Monica? Willy can’t imagine that he had pulled her back away from the dude with the mustache at the club, but it wouldn’t be the first time he’d gotten lucky. He heads for the door, determined to figure out the mystery, and maybe get some breakfast.
It all comes rushing back to him when he opens the bedroom door and sees David, sleeping on a couch that must be a few sizes too small for him.
He’s all scrunched up under what looks like a towel, and his face isn’t quite as relaxed as it should be. As relaxed as Willy remembers it being, all those months ago. He feels like crying, frozen in place as he realizes that he’s in David’s hotel room. David must have taken him home last night. Oh god, how did he fuck this up so badly?
He contemplates running. It wouldn’t be the first time, his brain snaps cruelly, that he’d run away from David. Oh god, what was he going to do?
David stirs, and Will turns around to grab his shoes. He’s halfway to the door when a raspy voice calls out from the couch, a slight accent marring the words as David’s sleep-addled brain tries to make sense of English. The sound brings on a wave of nostalgia so strong it stops Willy in his tracks. Tears prickle in his eyes as he remembers the mornings spent in David’s Boston apartment in bed, looking out through the big windows over the city.
“William. You’re up?”
David shifts more, peering over the couch, and Willy turns away. Busies himself with putting on his shoes.
“I’m on my way out. I’ll be out of your hair soon.”
He can hear David getting up off the couch, can hear his feet padding across the tile floor of the hotel room. He tries to tie his shoe quicker, in a vain attempt to still make his getaway.
“You don’t have to. Can stay for breakfast.”
“I don’t think so.” Willy grits out. He’s almost there. He knots the second shoe and takes the last steps to the door. His hand is turning the knob, he can get out of here and go back home and maybe cry. Definitely cry. Oh god, this was bad. What had he done?
“Damn it, Willy. For once in your life, can you just stay? Just once?”
He stops, once again rendered speechless by David Pastrnak. What a fucking life.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
David is looking at him with disbelief in his eyes. If Willy really searches, he can pinpoint the hurt behind them. He tries not to let himself dwell on it.
“You know what it means William. You always fucking run. From me, from us, from everything. Why can’t you just stay, just once? It’s not a fucking promise, a fucking commitment to stay for breakfast.”
“Why should I?” Willy spits out. “I don’t owe you shit! I didn’t choose for you to come pick me up at some bar! I came here to get away from you!”
“Why is that even something that you needed to do?” David matches his tone. Willy feels like crying, his head going back to that night all those months ago in Seattle. He doesn’t think he can handle another hour of screaming. David, who is oblivious to his plight, continues. “What is so fucking terrible about me that you feel the need to get away! The need to leave!”
Willy can feel his anger getting the best of him, and he’s not entirely sure that it’s not misplaced. It’s too late anyway, he thinks. The train has already left the station.
“Is that what this is about,” he sneers. “You want some closure? You come and pick me up at a bar, drunk out of my mind, so you can get some confirmation? Fuck you Pastrnak.”
“What the fuck is your issue?” David says, suddenly deathly calm in a way that scares Willy a little more than the rising tempers. “If I had left you out there, who knows what could have happened. You were so fucking drunk you couldn’t even walk straight. I didn’t take you here to fulfill some need. I took you here because you wouldn’t tell me where you were staying, and if I had left you there and something had happened, I could have never forgiven myself.” David’s voice cracks at the end and Willy clears his throat to try and butt in, but David continues, raising his voice as he does.
“And so what if I want some fucking closure? Do you ever think that maybe I deserve it? You just fucking left me in the middle of our vacation! I had to call your brother to make sure you weren’t fucking dead in some ditch somewhere!”
Willy can feel himself shaking. “Don’t you try and blame this on me, David. I did what you wanted.”
David turns to him in shock. “What the fuck made you think I wanted you to leave me in the middle of fucking Seattle?”
“You fucking told me too! You told me that maybe we should end this, that it wasn’t going to work out! You don’t get to blame me for pulling the trigger when you were fucking screaming at me to do it!”
David looks like he could cry. He reaches out towards Willy, but Willy backs up, breathing heavily.
“You fucking told me to, David.” He repeats quietly, voice wet with unshed tears. “You fucking told me to, and I did, and it’s hurt every day since, but I did it. For us.”
“I never wanted you to leave Willy,” David says quietly, eyes wet and focused on the floor. “I wanted us to talk about it. And I didn’t go about it the right way, I guess. I fucked it up bad. But I just wanted us to talk about it, and you left.”
Willy is crying for real now, he realizes, hot tears running fast down his cheeks. David keeps his distance but offers out his hand. An olive branch, Willy’s brain registers. He takes it, and David pulls him close, his other hand reaching up to rub up and down on Willy’s back like he used to do when Willy was stressed all those months ago. Willy buries his head into David’s shoulder and stays there.
“I’m sorry.” He whispers.
David squeezes him a little harder. “Me too.”
They stay like that for hours, Willy in David’s arms. Eventually, Willy untangles himself from them when his stomach growls – a reminder of the lack of food in it. David offers breakfast again, quiet and almost insecure, and Willy accepts, despite feeling like David’s hospitality is probably the last thing he needs or even deserves.
He sits in silence at the table next to the suite’s kitchenette as David orders room service, and tries not to start crying again when David orders his favorite hangover meal without even asking. David joins him after hanging up the phone, sitting across from him at the table.
“We need to talk about this, Will. For real this time.”
Willy nods. His heart feels like it’s about to jump out of his chest, but he forces himself to stay seated. He’s done enough running from everything, he thinks. Enough running from David. He looks up from his focus on the pattern of the linoleum on the table to face David. He looks a little rough, eyes red-rimmed and hair messed up, but he’s still David. Still beautiful.
“I don’t know what to do,” David starts, letting out a long breath. “I don’t know where we stand anymore Willy, I’ll be honest. But I know we need to fix whatever it was that happened in Seattle. We both need closure.”
Willy nods again and tries to collect his thoughts. David stares back at him, and Willy can’t quite read the look in his eyes.
“I was scared,” Willy settles on after a few minutes. “I don’t even remember what the fight was about, but I was scared, and I just needed to get out.” David keeps looking at him, almost egging him on with his eyes. Willy swallows the lump in his throat. “I guess it was easier to hurt you than to face the reality of being hurt by you. We’d been on thin ice for a while, since my contract, and I was so scared the cracks would break and I would finally fall through. So, I ran.”
David reaches across the table, and Willy lets his hand drop down into David’s waiting one. “I’m sorry,” David says. “I shouldn’t have let you feel like that. Should have kept my temper in check. Should have checked in more.”
“We both did things we shouldn’t have,” Willy concedes, dropping his head back down to stare at the table. “You’re not the only one to blame here. I was being childish. And selfish.”
A knock on the door has them both looking up. David goes to open it and comes back with breakfast. Willy steals a piece of bacon off David’s plate before he sits down, and David swipes his hand away, smiling.
“So what now?” Willy asks when they’re about midway through the meal. David peers back at him, and munches on his bacon.
“How long are you in town for?”
“Till the twenty-sixth.”
David continues to eat, deep in thought. He swallows, and Willy waits in anticipation.
“If you’d like,” David starts, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “We could try again. Finish that last vacation and see what happens.”
Willy’s face feels like it might split into two as he grins around his last mouthful of eggs.
“I might be amicable to that,” He says, light and teasing, tentative in a way he hasn’t been around David in a long time. It’s a good tentative though, Willy thinks. It’s the tentative of a new beginning.
“Well,” David smiles back at him. “How do you feel about the beach? It’s no space needle, but it could work.”
“I’d like that,” Willy smiles. “I’d like that a lot.”
They’re back in Seattle, looking up at the space needle. David’s hand is in his, and Willy takes his Instagram picture. David chuckles as he posts it to his story.
“The CNN tower isn’t going to be happy about that.”
“It’s the CN tower, you bozo. And she knows she’s my number one.” William glances back up at the tower one last time before elbowing his boyfriend in the side. David lets out a huff, but he’s laughing, so Willy isn’t concerned.
They go and sit on a bench nearby, and David leans his head on Willy’s shoulder. It’s a soft scene, Willy thinks. Softer than it has been in a while.
“I’m glad you’re here,” he tells David. David hums back and snuggles into him a little more. The breeze rustles through their hair, and Willy lets himself bask in David’s presence. He feels happier than he has in a long time as he leans down to place a kiss on David’s head.
“I’m glad you’re here,” he repeats. “I’m glad we got our shit together, and I’m glad you’re here and I get to love you.”
David looks up at him and grins, soft and happy. “I’m glad too. More than you’re ever going to know.”
Willy laughs. “Good. You want ice cream?”