Passing Through (Love/Hate Part Three)

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Part Thirty Eight

Chapter Thirty Eight

It had been both a long and s very quick night. Natasha woke Bo two hourly and after the first three wakes, he started to get snappy. Not taking into account that she had no sleep either. She ticked every box on the forms she'd been given, and relaxed a little more as the night went on. It was a huge responsibility, taking him on like this with no medical training, but as he seemed more his grumpy self, she relaxed a little more.

The six am alarm woke her, and opening her eyes, she found Bo staring at her, already awake. Some time in the night he'd stripped down to his boxers and slept in them. She'd found an old t-shirt in his bag, and had slipped into that. So she was feeling a little exposed when she woke facing his naked chest and inquisitive eyes. She wanted to reach out and run her hand over his chest, but that was inappropriate, so instead she bit her lip and watched him back.

"Thanks, for last night." He finally offered.

She gave a nod, "it was nothing."

He reached out and tucked her hair behind her ear, "it was everything. I'd be stuck in that shitty hospital if you hadn't come. And I know I was aggressive when you woke me, I just had a horrendous headache."

"How is it this morning?"

He shrugged, "a bit easier. The twenty ton weight has lifted off me forehead, so that's helped."

"Well, that's good. Go back to sleep, we can relax a bit, but we can't lie in too long, check out is eleven."

Groaning, he flopped on to his back, "this feels like a fucking bad dream..." Then his head popped back up, "except for you being here, that's the opposite of a bad dream."

Smiling, she propped up on her elbow, "thought you'd be ranting by now about all the games you're going to miss."

"Not thinking about it." He offered. "Denial is a good place."

That made her smile, her eyes gently closing as the darkness of the room enveloped her.

Natasha opened her eyes and saw the bedside clock proclaiming it as being nine thirty. She couldn't quite fathom how she'd managed to sleep through her eight am alarm, but she had. She was about to stretch, when her sluggish, tired brain picked up the pressure of an arm weighing down on her waist, and firm, hair roughened thighs cradling hers, and...yup...a large and hard erection pushing against her buttocks.

Somewhere in the last few hours, she'd become entwined with Bo, and couldn't remember it happening, and her body was more than enjoying it...and so was his. If she moved, he'd wake, and she wasn't ready to face up to that yet. Instead she lay there for a moment, and enjoyed the forbidden hug, her logic telling her that his erection pressing into her was a good sign. Though she was no doctor.

Then his fingers moved, from their position over her to ribs, edging towards her breast, and with a laugh she placed her hand over it.

"Cheeky." She offered as she rolled in his arms to face her.

"It feels so right," he said, pulling her closer to him.

Natasha sighed, "Bo, don't."

Closing her eyes, she breathed in the scent of him, just for a moment, then pushed away.

"Natasha," he held her shoulder. "This is good, this is right...we both want it."

She felt tears well in her eyes, "I want more than that, Bo. I can't give myself to you knowing you're leaving. It's too hard."

"I get you've been hurt before, and I really don't want to hurt you, but I can't tell you what will happen next week, next month, next year. Neither of us can predict that. Can't we just try? If this stays good, if this works out...we can talk things through. Work out plans. But we can't NOT do this because of something that might not happen."

She pursed her lips, he did make sense, but she was scared, terrified of him breaking her into pieces when he left. Because she knew he'd leave. They all did.

As a tear escaped her eye, he groaned, "I hate hurting you, yet it's all I seem to do. But can't you see that you are doing exactly the same thing that I was. Looking at the future, rather than living in the moment? Can't you please trust me?"

Now the tears were flowing, she'd missed him so much, but she wasn't ready, wasn't able to just throw caution to the wind.

"You want to head home and forget that there's this," he gestured his hand back and forth between them. "Between us?"

She shrugged, "I just don't know."

"Trust me. I have been a dick, I get that. You made me see that, but I want to spend time with you, I want to hold you, kiss you as much as I want to talk to you and bury myself in you. You have no idea. I can't promise you forever, as much as I want to. Because neither of us know what tomorrow will bring, but I want to find out. Don't you?"

It was so hard, to step back and walk away or to step forward, or rather roll into his arms and believe that everything will be OK. She was at a crossroads.

"I'm not going to pressure you, though I have never wanted to get inside someone as much as I want to be inside you now, at this moment. But," he smiled that dazzling smile. "I have such a bad headache that I couldn't do it if I tried."

That made her smile, "Mr Stamina fails?"

It lightened the mood as he rolled his eyes, then groaned at what she presumed was a stab of pain that the move caused.

"We really need to check your observations."

He shook his head, "no way. You are not shining a light in my eyes, or asking me what day of the week it is again, do you hear that?"

There was no animosity in his voice, and she chuckled, "sounds like you know where you are to me."

He nodded, then pulled her back against him, wrapping her in his arms and nuzzling into her neck, "yup, I know where I am. Where I want to be."

She sighed, this was so difficult.

Half an hour later, he'd showered, changed, and she'd checked in with Matt, the team doctor. And they managed to get a table in the hotel restaurant for breakfast.

Bo picked at some cereal and fruit, but told her he had no appetite, then admitted he felt nauseous. She felt a little guilty tucking into bacon and eggs, but then she hadn't eaten since lunch the previous day.

He slept on the journey home, but as with the duration of the night, she didn't let him sleep for too long.

"Matt says you shouldn't be alone today, and for longer if you have a headache..."

He groaned, "I feel like I'm a five year old."

Laughing, she reached across and patted his leg, "You definitely act like it some times."

"Can I stay with you?" As she opened her mouth to formulate a reply, he added, "I know this is all a bit much...but I can't face going to mine. It's not exactly homelike. Not like yours."

She wanted to scream NO, give me some space. But he needed her, and she couldn't abandon him, not when he needed her, no one else really relied on her. He made her feel wanted in so many ways.

"OK, I'll do the chicken soup and blanket on the sofa treatment. Sound good?"

His smile spread across his whole face, "that sounds amazing."

Two hours later, he'd eaten some soup, and was lying under Natasha's patchwork quilt on her sofa. And he felt at home, for the first time in a long while. She was pottering in the kitchen across from him, and humming to the radio. It was a snapshot of domestic bliss, life as it could be, if he didn't screw things up, and got Natasha to trust in him.

The doorbell rang, and he tried to get up, but she breezed past him, patting his shoulder, "it's OK. I've got it."

When she returned a minute later, she was smiling, "Coop and Freya are on their way up, he's desperate to check up on his star man." When his eyes widened, she laughed, "they were his exact words. I'm just putting the kettle on. You want a drink?"

He nodded, "water?"

He couldn't have caffeine, part of the list of things he couldn't have. He felt like a child, being told what to do, but he was enjoying having his own personal nurse, a perverse pleasure.

Before he could formulate another thought, Coop marched into the room, straight over to him. Fortunately he'd sat up and ditched the girly blanket, and accepted Coop's firm handshake more confidently than he could have.

"Shit, you had us worried, Pen."

Bo smiled as Coop sat opposite him. Freya waved as she crossed to the kitchen in search of Natasha, leaving the two men alone.

"Don't recommend it, hurt like fuck."

Coop sighed, "classic shiner you've got too. About time something schooled those good looks."

Typical Coop, once the concern was over, cracking into jokes at Bo's expense.

"Well, it's along way for you to go to try and get me in the ugly camp with you, coach!"

Coop laughed, as Natasha leaned into the room, "coffee, wine or beer, Coop?"

"A beer would be good."

She rolled her eyes when Bo groaned, "rub it in boss."

A moment later she emerged with a beer and a glass of water.

"So, you have appointments with the doc all arranged?"

Coop was relaxed, bottle of beer hanging from his fingers as he smiled at Bo.

He nodded in reply, "I thought I'd come see you guys at the training rink tomorrow."

Coop shook his head, "nope. No training, no appearances until Matt says so. You hear that?"

"Fuck, Coop. I'll go insane."

He shrugged, "rather that than a brain injury. It's that serious mate. I mean I have seen the recent league stats, you know how many NHL players get post concussion syndrome or chronic traumatic encephalopathy? Players dying after retiring, depression, not to mention dementia or Parkinson's disease. Some serious shit. The NHL haven't been great at recognising it, and they're being sued by hundreds of players. It's real, and I am not being part of that. You will listen to the league's advice, to the letter. You get that Holding?"

Bo's eyes were wide, he knew that he was staring, but the truth was he hadn't read into this, to this whole traumatic brain injury thing, he'd thought it was all a bit over the top. But Coop talked a good game. He was still trying to digest it, when the two women came to join them, both nursing a mug of coffee.

"You OK?" Natasha asked. "You're white as a sheet."

Coop sighed, "I've just given him the brain damage and hockey stats."

"Shit," she sat beside him. "You OK?"

He nodded, "just taking it all in. There was me thinking it couldn't get worse than my knee, I could have another lengthy absence."

Natasha placed a hand on his shoulder, lowering herself to sit on the arm of the sofa beside him, "shit, sorry Bo, I know this is hard for you."

He shrugged, "I've done this once, I can do it again."

She looked at him with such admiration that he wanted to believe that he could be that strong, just to see that look in her eyes again.

Coop and his wife stayed for an hour, and whilst the underlying reason for them being there was support and concern, the four of them got on well and there was no glitch in the conversation.

They left when Freya confessed that her parents were only able to have their children for another half an hour as they were going on holiday.

He made to stand to see them out, but the three shooed him back into his seat, instead offering awkward half hug goodbyes.

When Natasha returned, he smiled at her, "thank you."

"For what?" She asked distracted, picking up the mugs and glasses.

"Hey, Natasha. Stop for one second?" When she paused he reached for her free hand, pulling her towards him. "Thanks for being there for me yesterday, for looking after me last night, for today...for caring for me."

"I do care for you, I have told you that. Caring for you isn't the problem."

He nodded, "I know, and one day, when you're ready to share that with me, I'll know we have another chance."

"I want to promise you that, I really do..."

Squeezing her hand, he sighed, "you are the only one, who's ever done that for me."

That made her raise an eyebrow, "care for you?" When he nodded, she smiled, "or am I the only person you've let care for you? Let do things for you? I mean just three months ago you were pushing everyone away. Holding everyone at arm's length."

"And I am opening up, trying to change that – again due to you."

He dragged himself to his feet, needing to be up and level with her, despite the grimace, he was having delayed pain in most of his body following his fall. "Come here..."

He pulled her into his arms, and kissed the top of her head. "You are changing me, and I think, reluctantly, that it's for the better."

They stood together for a long moment, and whilst he knew it wasn't going to happen, he hoped and prayed that she'd give him some sign. He was desperate to tilt back her chin and devour her lips, but it had to come from her. That was the hardship.

All he could do was appreciate her body pressed against him, her breath on his neck, and her arms spread across his back, and inhale the essence of Natasha.

She eventually pulled back and mumbled under her breath as she disappeared into the kitchen. Obviously, things had affected her as much as they had him.

"I should go home."

Natasha was sat at the small desk in the corner of her lounge, working on her ordering for the cafe when his words dragged her back to him. He had been sleeping on the sofa. 

"Home? Why?" She had honestly thought he'd be here for a while, at least overnight, or until he was feeling better.

"I can't put on you any more."

She closed the lid on her laptop and came across the room to him, "you're not putting on me, and you aren't well. You need to stay her until you're better, otherwise I'll be worried about you. Like you said earlier, I care about you."

And that was right...she did.

"I'll take the sofa." Bo was trying to be the better man, even though he wanted her, in his arms, all night, making him feel better. Natasha had a spare room, but she was using it as storage at the moment. So that left one bed.

Shaking her head, she laughed, "yeah, like I'm gonna let that happen."

He raised an eyebrow in question.

"We're both adults, and as long as you keep your hands to yourself, then we can share the bed."

Bo knew what happened that morning, and suddenly he wondered if she wanted to accidentally wake in his arms again...and if there was a chance of that happening, then he was definitely a hundred percent up for that!

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