Blueberry Pancakes
Michelle Perry

Bogdan was thrilled when his phone buzzed. It was a new phone, and only one person had the number. He checked the message – a text – and smiled. "Home in 48 hrs". Bogdan was so happy he couldn't help laughing. He sent a message back, "Can't wait", and put the phone away. Time to get the house ready.

Being without Sergei had been difficult. Sergei had explained that while he was away he wouldn't be able to send many messages – if he could send any at all. He had an idea for how long the mission might take, but there was no guarantee that it might not drag on depending on how things went. Saying goodbye was extremely difficult, since it seemed he'd barely gotten used to living in a stable house with Sergei on his feet again, before Sergei was taken away.

Sergei had been gone over ten days, and Bogdan had heard no word until today. Considering the kind of work Sergei did, Bogdan had been worried about his safety from the moment he'd come to the hotel that evening in Seattle, and told Bogdan that there was already a new mission under way. It was such a relief to know that Sergei was coming home.

Ethan walked slowly up the path to his front door, still trying to ignore the many aches and pains from the rigors of his latest mission. Maybe he was paranoid and just imagining things, but he could swear his knee was more sore than it should be, and he thought of Hendricks with rage in his heart.

Exhausted as he was, though, his mood lightened when he put his hand on the door knob and realized again that he wasn't returning to an empty house. Thoughts of Bogdan waiting for him had accented the harrowing mission. He wasn't just surviving because his country and possibly many other countries in the world depended on him. He had to survive because Bogdan was waiting for him, and he couldn't let his Danya down.

He opened the door and stepped inside. Less than a second later, Bogdan came quickly into the living room, a huge welcoming smile on his face. "Sergei!"

"Hello, Danya," he said, knowing that his own smile was just as bright.

Bogdan rushed to the door, and hugged him, pausing a moment to check and make sure he wasn't squeezing on any wounds before hugging him tight. "I'm so glad you're back," he said.

"Me, too," Ethan said, returning the embrace. "How are you? Everything okay?"

"Yes, yes, everything is fine. How are you?"

Ethan laughed. He was sore, tired and ready to drop, but he didn't want to say any of that to Bogdan. "We did what we were sent to do," he answered.

Bogdan nodded and rubbed his arm, then gestured for him to follow. Ethan raised his eyebrows in an unspoken question, but Bogdan didn't explain – just gestured for him to follow and headed toward the back of the house.

Ethan followed, curious, but honestly too tired to think much about it. Bogdan led him to the master bathroom, and Ethan was shocked when he entered. A steaming bath had been drawn, and his favorite robe and slippers were within reach. Ethan smiled and grabbed Bogdan, giving him a firm, quick kiss. "You're a saint," he said.

Bogdan laughed, and pulled off Ethan's jacket. He left Ethan alone to finish undressing, and even though he'd missed Bogdan terribly, he was grateful for the privacy. He always felt a little raw and sometimes self conscious after a mission – he didn't want to explain every lingering bruise and cut to a worried Bogdan, and now he could just relax and bathe in peace. He sank into the hot bath and sighed as the steamy water worked away at the aches in his muscles.

Some time later, Bogdan came to check on him. "I'm almost done." Indeed, the water had grown cold, and he was ready to dry of and crawl into bed.

Ethan was surprised when, after he'd dried off and slipped on his robe, Bogdan asked him to follow again. As soon as Ethan realized they were headed toward the kitchen, he stopped. "You don't have to cook for me, Danya," he said.

"It's no trouble," Bogdan replied.

"Really, I'm exhausted. I don't think I could-" He stopped when he saw the sad expression on Bogdan's face. He really didn't think he could eat, but maybe he should try anyway.

"I... I guess we could wait until-"

"No, no," Ethan said. "Let's see what you have.

"I... It's okay, I can-"

"Come on, Danya," he said. "I want to see."

Bogdan ducked his head slightly and smiled. "Okay, Seryozha. I think you will like it."

"I'm sure I will."

When they got closer to the kitchen, Ethan could smell meat and spices. His stomach began to rumble in response, though not exactly loud enough for Bogdan to hear. Maybe he was hungrier than he thought. The dining table was set for two and there was already juice and hot tea beside Ethan's plate. Bogdan smiled at him. "Sit, Seryosha. I have something special for you."

Ethan took a seat and sipped his tea – an herbal blend. He heard something sizzle and glanced around to see Bodan pouring out pancakes onto a griddle. He smiled as the aroma mingled with bacon and other wonderful smells from the stove.

In a few short minutes (during which his stomach grew more and more insistent), Bogdan presented him with a full plate – several pieces of bacon, a hardboiled egg cut just the way he liked it, and a stack of beautiful, delicious looking blueberry pancakes, made with fresh berries.

Ethan smiled broadly, tearing his eyes away from the beautiful sight long enough to thank his Danya. "You're amazing," he said.

Bogdan just shrugged and sat across from him with a plate of his own. "I hope you like it."

"Oh, I know I will."

And he was right. Ethan cleaned the plate, and finished off two additional pancakes that Bogdan made fresh for him. When their late-night breakfast was over, Bogdan told Ethan not to worry about clearing anything away. "I'll take care of it later."

"Don't worry about it tonight, Danya," Ethan said. "You should get some rest, too."

"Okay, Sergei, don't worry."

Ethan made his way to the bedroom, slipped off the robe and got into bed.

Bogdan pulled the blankets up, covering Sergei's bruised shoulders. He tucked the covers around Sergei gently, pretending not to notice the dark purple and green marks, nor the few reddened marks that had once been blisters from burns. He would worry about those in the morning.

Sergei smiled at him, his movements already slowing down in his exhaustion. Bogdan felt a little guilty about making Sergei stay up and eat, but he'd enjoyed it so much that Bogdan couldn't feel guilty for long.

When Sergei was settled in bed, Bogdan undressed and snuggled under the covers. Sergei sighed and moved closer to Bogdan, even though he already seemed to be half asleep. Bogdan wrapped his arms around Sergei and smiled, feeling a sense of gratitude for being able to feel this simple gesture after Sergei had risked his life again for his job.

"I love you, Seryozha," he whispered. Sergei didn’t answer. Bogdan lifted his head, trying to move as little as possible. Sergei's eyes were closed, his head limp on the pillow. He was fast asleep.

Bogdan smiled. He lay back down, shut his eyes, and relished in the feeling of Sergei, warm and firm in his arms, until he too, drifted off.


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