too organised to be anarchy (lightredemption) wrote,
too organised to be anarchy
lightredemption

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Fic: The Way You Are

Title: The Way You Are
Fandom/Pairing: Football RPF; Steven Gerrard/Xabi Alonso
Rating: R
Length: 5,648 words
Summary: Part 1 of 2. High School AU. Steven Gerrard’s life is the definition of miserable before he meets Xabi Alonso
A/N: I WRITE TOO MANY OF THESE. I don’t even know why because lately I have legitimate assignments and reading to do so! Maybe I will take a break once I post the second part of this. Also everyforever  should write more, she really should. All mistakes are my own, none of this is true

 





If Stevie were to paint his life out on a canvas, he would only use blues and greys. And maybe a lot of straight lines. His life has structure – almost rigidity – to it. He will wake up every morning in his council flat with its dour grey walls and horrible heating. He will sit at the kitchen table where his mother has placed a glass of milk and a box of cereal. He will eat like he genuinely looks forward to the rest of the day – to the expressionless faces of the students he mills around school with and the teachers who really couldn’t give a fuck. He will come home and not do any of his homework, if he’s lucky his parents will have their daily argument inside their room instead of in front of the television set. Later he’ll go out and meet Carra and some of the other lads – smoke a pack and get smashed, maybe feel up a girl or two. If he’s in the mood he’ll let one of them take him back to her place – where he’ll leave before the barely-there-sunlight can filter through the curtains. And then he’ll do the same thing the next day and the day after that and the day after-

 

One day he wakes up and there is no milk on the table, no cereal box. The kitchen looks strangely bereft and he notices that their box-sized bathroom is missing its lace curtains. He stands in his school uniform waiting for some kind of epiphany to hit him. He goes to open the fridge and sees that it is bare apart from a bottle of milk that is almost finished, a block of cheese and an empty jar of jam. He hears footsteps behind him and turns around to see his father tossing his keys back and forth in his hands.

 

“Listen Steven,” he says gruffly as he clears his throat before speaking, “your mother, she’s uh- she’s… well, she’s gone.”

 

Stevie blinks back at him and swallows. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say.

 

“Will you- you’ll be alright, wont you?” his father continues

 

Stevie stares at him before nodding very slowly. His hand is fisted around the glass bottle that contains hardly any milk

 

“Good. I’m probably going to have to pick up another shift at the station so I might be working nights now”

 

Stevie continues to nod wordlessly. There is no need to be surprised. This has been a long time coming. He should be surprised it hasn’t happened sooner.

 

“Well, you better be off to school now”

 

Stevie tips the milk left inside the bottle into the sink before rinsing it out and leaving it by the bins to be collected.

 

 

* * *

 

 

OCTOBER

 

 

The feel of Alex’s lips against his is distracting. The music in the club is too loud and it’s created a strange thumping sound in his head. His sweat-soaked shirt sticks against the leather he is seated on. Alex doesn’t help by straddling him and repeatedly backing him up against it – though she mewls and purrs and flicks her blonder hair over her shoulder in a way that is not completely unappealing.

 

“Listen- listen,” he says, pulling away from her searching mouth and placing a hand to the side of her face, “Not tonight, yeah?”

 

She makes a grumbling noise but swings her legs over his and leaves to join a group of giggling girls with cigarettes in their mouths and martinis in their hands.

 

He sighs and rubs his hands against his face to gain some clarity of thought.

 

He is tired.

 

He leaves the club to be met with the cool Merseyside air that strangles and relieves him all at once. He scuffs his shoe against the pavement and is about to light up when he sees Carra approach from the distance

 

“Oi, Gerrard!” he calls and Stevie offers him a limp wave in response.

 

“What are you doing out here?” Carra asks

 

Stevie shrugs, “It was too hot inside” The figure beside Carra is unfamiliar. A boy around their age with dark hair that is messy and too long so that it keeps falling into his eyes and he has to push it back. His hands are shoved in his pockets and he has a thick scarf wrapped around his neck – clearly not used to the weather.

 

Carra notices the direction of Stevie’s gaze and says, “This is Xabi. He got here from Spain yesterday. He’s boarding with the school for…”

 

“Almost a year” Xabi finishes, his voice heavily accented

 

“Why?” Stevie asks, he wishes he didn’t sound as abrasive as he knows he does

 

“Excuse me?” Xabi’s brow wrinkles in confusion

 

“Why would you leave Spain for this shithole?”

 

Xabi doesn’t say anything and Carra laughs nervously. “Don’t worry about Stevie,” he says, “he can be dead boring about things. Come on Xabi, let’s go inside”

 

Carra receives a warm smile in response but Xabi turns to him and says “Its ok. I think I will stay out here for a little while”

 

Carra raises an eyebrow, “Ooo-kay. Well, come inside when you’re ready, yeah?” He leaves the two of them standing there in the cold: Xabi with his coat and his gloves; Stevie with his shirt sleeves rolled up, cigarette in hand.

 

“So… Stevie, right?” Xabi asks

 

“Yep” Stevie reaches for his lighter again but pauses to glance up at Xabi, “you don’t mind, yeah?”

 

“Oh, uhm, no”

 

“Good,” Stevie takes a long drag before focusing back on Xabi through the smoke, “so why are you here?”

 

“I wanted to learn about the culture, I wanted to learn English-”

 

“Your English sounds fine” Stevie cuts him off

 

“You seem like a very angry person”

 

Stevie laughs at this. It sounds strange to his own ears; he hasn’t heard it in that long.

 

Xabi grins, “Come inside. I can buy you a drink, maybe?”

 

Stevie is tempted, which is an almost-new sensation considering the last few months have seen him shunning most company in favour of being a hermit

 

“Maybe some other time, yeah?” Stevie glances at his watch, “I have to be getting back now”

 

Stevie wonders if he sees regret flash across Xabi’s face, “Oh, that’s ok. I will see you around at school, then?”

 

Half of Stevie’s mouth tilts upwards in the semblance of a smile, “Yeah”

 

Xabi waves before heading inside the club and Stevie walks back home through the dreary estate where every house looks exactly the same. He opens the door to find that no one is home. His stomach rumbles softly but he remembers that the fridge is still probably empty. He butters a slice of bread, considers waiting for his dad to come home before deciding they wouldn’t have anything to talk about anyway, and going to bed.

 

 

*

 

You can’t be late, you can’t be late, you can’t be late, Stevie mutters to himself like a mantra as he runs up the school steps. If he is late, it’ll be for the fifth time this term and he has a slight inkling that, that kind of figure would not go down so well with the headmaster.

 

He practically falls into his seat just as the bell screeches that the school day has begun.

 

Mr Benitez coolly raises an eyebrow at the front of the class, “Very close call once again, Mr Gerrard. You know you really can’t keep up with this kind of behaviour”

 

“Yes, sir” Stevie says stiffly as he slams his books down on the table. Once he has flung a few pens down as well he turns to his side to see who is seated next to him. He is surprised to find Xabi, the Spaniard from the day before, smiling shyly at him. He lifts a hand in greeting and Stevie nods.

 

“Xabi, right?” Stevie asks and Xabi nods carefully

 

“Wont we get into trouble for talking in class?” Xabi asks

 

Stevie shrugs and pulls a face, “I don’t care”

 

“But-”

 

“Alonso!” Benitez thunders and Xabi snaps to attention at once, “I know you are new here and things are different in Spain but I do not think they are so different that you do not understand the importance of respecting your teachers, no?”

 

Xabi swallows and is about to respond meekly when he hears Stevie perk up beside him, “It was my fault, sir”

 

“Excuse me?” Xabi hears Mr Benitez say darkly

 

Stevie simply smiles like he hasn’t a care in the world, “You only caught him talking because of me. He wouldn’t have been talking if I hadn’t started” Steve leans and tilts his chair back. Xabi watches him nervously.

 

“Out of my class, Gerrard” Benitez says, his voice like ice “I will see you after school”

 

Stevie smirks. He considers sticking his tongue out just to be petulant but then he hears Benitez continue, “You can follow him, Alonso”

 

“But sir, I-” Xabi protests weakly

 

“Now!” Benitez says with a finality that has him grappling with his bags and racing for the door to catch up with Stevie

 

“Why in the world did you do that?” Xabi hisses at him once they are both outside, “He would have left us both alone if you had kept your mouth shut”

 

Stevie shrugs, “I couldn’t resist?” he offers and Xabi rolls his eyes

 

“You may not care about any of this seeing as you seem to be late all the time but I do, ok? I came here for a reason and that reason was not so that I could get kicked out only to have to hang around a smart-ass like you”

 

“Glad you got that off your chest?”

 

“…yes”

 

“Good”

 

Xabi blinks in confusion as Stevie grins at him, “You want to get something to eat?” he asks.

 

“What? No! We’re supposed to be in class!” Xabi says with his mouth agape.

 

“Well, yeah but then Benitez kicked us out so… unless you want to go do the homework that hasn’t been set yet? Or you could come with me and we could get some chips. I’m going with or without you” Stevie turns and begins walking towards the school doors.

 

Xabi curses under his breath before following

 

 

*

 

 

They sit across from each other with a Styrofoam dish of chips between them, both with a plastic cup of coke and ice.

 

“I feel like we shouldn’t be doing this,” Xabi says as he rips open a packet of ketchup

 

“Look, if we were supposed to be in class, we would be in class. Benitez just gets his knickers in a twist every so often. Sometimes the consequences aren’t so bad” Stevie winks as he sticks a chip into his mouth and Xabi can’t help but smile tentatively

 

“So, is this rebel-without-a-cause thing an act or do you genuinely not give a shit about anything?” Xabi asks

 

“Wha-?”

 

“Oh come on, you were brooding outside the club when I first met you; you then proceed to get us both kicked out of class for no apparent reason other than your own amusement. I am sensing a pattern”

 

Stevie smiles cheekily, “I am what I am”

 

“You’re a ‘type’” Xabi says, jabbing a chip in his direction accusingly

 

“You’ve lost me again”

 

“You probably have some dark, sordid past ripe for psychoanalysis and it leads you to act the way you do and you probably bottle everything up and channel all your pent up emotion into being what you might consider to be a ‘badass’. Really, you just look like an idiot” Xabi chatters serenely before taking a sip of his drink

 

Stevie narrows his eyes, “Shut up”

 

“Oh, I hit a nerve

 

“You have no idea what my life is like” Stevie says aggressively but Xabi doesn’t back down.

 

“No? So show me”

 

“What are you talking about?” Stevie asks, exasperated

 

“Your life? Show me”

 

“Why would I want to do that?”

 

“Because I’m interested”

 

Stevie places both his palms flat on the table and leans forward, “This. This is my life. Getting kicked out of classrooms, eating fast-food alone and being a general dick. Things may be different in sunny Spain but they’re not here. You want to see my home? You want to go to a council estate? Mate-”

 

“Yes” Xabi says before Stevie can finish his rant, “I want you to show me”

 

Stevie studies Xabi carefully while he slurps down the last of his drink, “Fine” he says as he places the cup down with a thud “You want to go? Lets go”

 

 

*

 

Stevie leads Xabi past the last block of grey flats before they come to his own. An England flag hangs from the window next door and the house above has a washing line threatening to snap at any second under the weight of several flannel dresses. Stevie unlocks the door and switches on a light though it does little to brighten the space – which could be described as ‘minimal’ at best with just a few pieces of furniture and no pictures on the walls, no fruit bowl on the kitchen counter, no vases filled with flowers to add colour.

 

“So… this is it” Stevie says grimly, settling on the arm of a sofa, “Do you want a cup of tea?”

 

“No, I’m good” Xabi says, sitting opposite Stevie on a chair, “It’s… nice”

 

Stevie snorts, “Yeah, good try. It’s shit. But I’m going to leave one day so it’s ok”

 

“You are?”

 

“Yep. Gonna get my A-Levels and then I’m out of here like that,” he snaps his thumb and forefinger together as demonstration, “I don’t care where I go. London, maybe? Or if I get a job over the summer and save up I could go to Europe too, who knows yeah?”

 

“What about your parents?”

 

Stevie pales slightly and when he recoils, Xabi realises he shouldn’t have broached the subject, “My mum left sometime ago so she… well, she doesn’t even call so she really doesn’t give a fuck. And my dad would have one less person to pay for so he’d be happy too”

 

“I doubt it’s like that” Xabi says softly

 

“How do you know?” Stevie shoots out venomously and suddenly

 

Xabi isn’t deterred though, “When-when… did she leave? What was it like?”

 

Stevie looks down and picks at his trouser leg so he wont have to look at Xabi, “She was gone at the beginning of the year. I just woke up one morning and she wasn’t there, you know?” Xabi nods and Stevie feels compelled by something in his eyes, the comfort he gains from his presence, to keep speaking, “I mean it’s not like I didn’t know she hated it here. It’s difficult with my dad right, because he would always nag her about money and how hard he worked and how difficult his life was and all this other shit. But she had a job too so I don’t know why he was always having a go at her. It’s just- you never really know how bad it is till its actually happened and you have to pick up the broken pieces”

 

Stevie shrugs and Xabi aches to- to what? – to comfort him, to tell him it’ll be alright, to hold him. But Xabi knows, already, that Stevie isn’t going to accept his words of sympathy and he really isn’t going to want Xabi’s arms around him.

 

So Xabi says all that he can think to say, “I’m sorry” he says quietly and Stevie smiles at him thankfully.

 

Their moment – if you can call it a moment – is interrupted however when they hear a key turn in the lock and Stevie’s father comes through the door

 

Xabi jumps to his feet immediately and Stevie scrambles off the sofa, “Dad! What are you doing here? It’s not even-”

 

“Steven” his father sighs and then he notices Xabi standing nervously in the room, hands clasped tightly together, “I think your friend should leave. You and I need to talk”

 

Stevie nods and says, “I’ll see you at school, Xabi”

 

Xabi picks up his bags but stops before leaving to place a hand on Stevie’s forearm and whisper against his ear, “Are you sure you’ll be alright?”

 

Stevie swallows thickly and nods. He looks up at Xabi and their eyes meet for a few seconds – something inside Stevie is screaming and clawing at his ribs, desperate to get out. But then Xabi gives his arm a quick squeeze and he’s gone.

 

His father shuts the door firmly behind him. He doesn’t say anything at first. He goes inside the kitchen and puts the kettle to boil. He puts a teabag in his usual mug. And then he turns to Stevie

 

“I got a call from your school today. They were saying that your behaviour at the moment is causing severe problems, detrimental to the school and the education of others. What are you playing at Steven? I’m working everyday so I can put food on the table – for whom? For you, Steven. All these things – education and the like – they’re all luxuries. And here you are pissing over it like it means jackshit. You better sort yourself out, do you hear me?”

 

When Stevie stands still and silent, he comes closer and raises his voice slightly, “Do you hear me?”

 

“Yes” he whispers

 

His father claps him on the back, “Good lad. I only want what’s best for you, you know?”

 

Stevie feels tears scald the back of his eyes but he blinks them rapidly away, “I know”

 

 

            NOVEMBER

 

 

Stevie hasn’t seen Xabi in quite a while. The only class they had together had been with Benitez and after the recent tribulations, Stevie had asked to be moved. He assumes Xabi is probably busy working, being the good, productive student he intended to be on arrival. He’ll see him in the hall sometimes tacking up posters for the chess club or signing names to help for a fundraiser. They don’t do more than nod at each other before going their separate ways.

 

But tonight is different. Their entire year has flooded a local club and he can spot Xabi in the distance sitting with a few other people. He looks almost demure in his clean, straight collared white shirt and dress shoes. His hair still gets in the way of his eyes, Stevie pretends not to notice. Xabi waves when he sees Stevie watching him and Stevie responds by raising his beer in appraisal. He inclines his head for Xabi to join him and is surprised and pleased when Xabi hesitantly gets up to walks his way.

 

“Long time no see” Xabi says and Stevie can detect the nervousness in his voice

 

“You’ve been busy” Stevie says, taking a swig from his bottle, “Do you want anything to drink?”

“I have and no, I’m good” Xabi says as he attempts to figure out how many Stevie has had

 

“So, are you planning to pull tonight?” Stevie asks conversationally

 

“What?!” Xabi shouts – mostly because he cannot hear over the music but also because he has no idea what Stevie means

 

“Pull?” Stevie says as clearly and loudly as possible but when Xabi continues to look confused, “A girl, mate, a girl. Are you planning on hooking up with anyone tonight? I’ve got connections” He winks and Xabi’s face turns crimson

 

“Uhh no, not really”

 

“Why not? Do you have a girlfriend back home in Spain?”

 

“Yes. Well. Kind of. No, not really”

 

Stevie shakes his head in amusement, “What?”

“I was with this girl for a really long time – her name was Nagore and she was nice and you know, I guess we were happy. But we broke it off a little while ago – it was like a temporary thing but then I left. For a year. To another country. So… can I have that drink now?” Xabi ends sheepishly

 

Stevie laughs and hands him a beer, “So you’re not together but you kind of are? Do you want to be together?”

 

Xabi shrugs and rubs his thumb around the mouth of the bottle, “I used to think I did. But after we broke up, I just wanted to leave her. Not because of her, if that makes any sense. It’s just we’ve always been together. I think our mothers had us married at the age of nine and I kissed her when we were like, eleven” Xabi doesn’t know why he’s telling Stevie this, he doesn’t know why the words spill from his mouth but he can’t seem to stop, “So when we broke up, it was like everyone I knew expected us to be together, expected me to know everything that was going on with her. And I didn’t want to be obligated like that anymore. Not because I don’t love Nagore because I did- I do, but I wanted to be my own person. When we first met you asked me why I came here, maybe this is part of why”

 

“So, do you love her?” Why the fuck do you care, he mentally kicks himself

 

“Yes, very much. She is such a good person and she’s so important to me. But… I am not in love with her. My older brother got married to his wife when he was young and they were wildly, passionately in love. I think I wanted that. I wanted to want to write poetry for someone. I guess Nagore just wasn’t that person” Xabi takes a long sip of his drink. This is the first time he has admitted anything like this to anyone

 

“You are a sap” Stevie says simply

 

Xabi laughs and nearly chokes on his drink, “So, what about you?”

“What about me?” Stevie asks edgily

 

“What, you have no romantic past to speak of?”

 

“Mate, I’m not like you with your relationship. I don’t think I could handle that kind of dependency” Stevie shudders a little at the word

 

“What about that girl over there who look like she wants to eat you?” Xabi asks, inclining his head

 

Stevie turns his head towards Xabi’s line of gaze and is met with Alex’s bright smile which quickly changes to a smirk and a flirtatious wink.

 

“Oh, that’s Alex” he says as he offers her a wink in response and she rolls her eyes before looking away

 

“She’s pretty”

 

“Yeah. I guess we have like an on-off thing which is good. She’s fun and I’ve known her for a long time. We get on well”

 

“So why not, you know, date her?”

 

“Because we’re not like that, the two of us. Alex is the kind of person who wants a fella to buy her diamond rings and flowers and crap and that person isn’t me”

 

“Charming”

 

Stevie grins, “We should hang out more, you and me. I like talking to you, Xabi” he says genuinely

 

Xabi smiles, “I like talking to you too, Stevie”

 

 

            DECEMBER

 

 

Stevie spends a lot of time in Xabi’s room at school. He hadn’t expected it to be so big but it’s a decent size and he’s got a television set and a balcony and an en-suite bathroom. What else does one need in life?

 

“Are you going back to Spain for Christmas?” Stevie asks as lies on his back and tosses a ball against the ceiling

 

“I’m not going back to Spain till the beginning of January, so I’ll be here for Christmas” Xabi says as he sits at his desk and begins to copy notes from a textbook

 

“And then you’re only going for a week, right?”

 

“Mhmm” Xabi says distractedly, he tries not to make an amused comment on dependency

 

“Good,” he says firmly, “you should come round to ours for Christmas then. My dad wont be here and-”

 

“Your dad wont be here for Christmas?” Xabi asks in shock, looking up from his books

 

“Well, he’s working,” Stevie says nonchalantly, “the transport system stops for no man and no holiday! But it’ll be better without him because he just mopes around like a miserable old git. You can spend the night and like, we can open presents and stuff in the morning”

 

“How old are you – twelve?”

 

“Just say you’ll come, Xabi!” Stevie says determinedly as he throws the ball at Xabi’s shoulder

 

“Alright, alright, I’ll come!” Xabi says as he laughs and throws the ball back at Stevie’s face so it bounces off his nose

 

 

*

 

 

“This is horrible,” Stevie says as he sticks a spoonful of cookie dough into his mouth.

 

The two are sat in the middle of Stevie’s living room with paper crowns on their heads, a bowl of cookie mix between them and bottles of bourbon scattered on the floor. They are slightly drunk.

 

Xabi shoves his hand into the mix and sucks on his index finger. He makes a face, “You’re right. But it’s your fault because really, you made most of it”

 

Stevie lets out an exaggerated gasp, “Did not!” he flings a spoonful of dough onto Xabi’s face and the Spaniard shrieks in a surprisingly girlish manner. He takes his wet finger and pokes it against Stevie’s cheek. Taking the spoon and bowl away from him, Xabi proceeds to pin Stevie down and tickle him mercilessly.

 

“Xabi!” Stevie howls as he writhes and wriggles on the floor, “Stop, please!” he begs

 

“Make me” Xabi taunts as Stevie attempts to roll onto his stomach

 

“Anything! I’ll give you anything! Ooh! We can open presents now!”

 

“I thought you said they were off limits?” Xabi asks. He has straddled Stevie and is holding his arms above his head. Xabi pretends he cannot see the smooth expanse of skin now peeking beneath Stevie’s shirt that has risen above the waistband of his jeans.

 

Stevie wets his lips and the back of Xabi’s throat goes dry, “I’ll make an exception for you”

 

They stay like that for a few moments, in this increasingly compromising position before Xabi eventually rolls off. “Fine” he says resignedly but he claps his hands gleefully as Stevie reaches for the gifts.

 

“For you,” Stevie says handing Xabi the gift and staring shyly at his hands, “I don’t know if you’ll like it. I just remembered something that you said when we first met and I thought- but if you don’t, I’m sure we can like, return it and you can-”

 

“Stevie.”

 

“Yes, Xabi?”

 

“Shut up”

 

“Ok”

 

Stevie watches as Xabi carefully removes the wrapping, making sure not to damage the patterned paper. He pulls out a hardcover book with glossy pictures entitled, “From London to Liverpool

 

Stevie swallows, “You said you came because you wanted to learn more about the culture and I know you already have a lot of things and I know you already know a lot of things but-”

 

Xabi fingers the pages reverently before looking up to beam at Stevie, “I love it. Thank you” Stevie swears he can feel his heart swell right at that moment.

 

Xabi sets aside the book gently before handing Stevie his own present. Stevie tears away at the wrapping eagerly, heedless of the mess he’s making. He looks up whilst in the midst of attacking his gift to see Xabi gnawing at his lower lip

 

“You’re going to end up bleeding if you keep on doing that” Stevie warns

 

Xabi stops, “I’m just-”

 

“Nervous?” Stevie offers

 

“Yeah”

 

“Don’t be”

 

Stevie pulls a pair of shorts and a shirt from the wrappings and looks at them with joy, “It’s the new Liverpool kit” he says in amazement

 

Xabi nods, “I know you’re a really big fan and I’d never seen you with this shirt before so-” he stops when he’s knocked down by Stevie’s weight

 

“Thank you,” Stevie says in a hushed whisper, holding the Spaniard close to him

 

Xabi hugs him back tightly, He thinks that this moment in time is perfect and if he could freeze it and live in these few single seconds forever, he would.

 

They spend the next hour finishing off their horrible cookie dough and making cups of hot chocolate. They open Stevie’s present from his dad – a very boring watch; Xabi shows Stevie the stationery that his parents sent him. They’re in the midst of cleaning up when Xabi spots an envelope beneath the Christmas tree. He motions to Stevie and points at it,

 

“Hey, you forgot that one” he tells him with a sleepy yawn

 

Stevie’s brow knits and he thinks it might be something for his dad but when he reaches for the envelope he sees the lettering “Steven” clearly marked on the front. His stomach swoops at the sight of the familiar handwriting

 

He opens it to find a Christmas card that reads simply:

 

Dear Steven,

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Love,

Mum

 

She has also enclosed a ten pound note. Nothing else. No letter, no message, no phone number.

 

Xabi watches Stevie carefully. He knows that this is not the best time to say anything; he doesn’t want to look like he pities him, though he is desperate to make the pain go away. It is so heartbreakingly evident from his face that Stevie is crushed and there is not a thing Xabi can do about it.

 

Stevie clears his throat before shoving the card and money back into the envelope and placing it aside, “Lets go to sleep, yeah?”

 

Xabi nods gently and they go to Stevie’s room where there are blankets and pillows on the floor for Xabi to sleep on. Stevie climbs wordlessly into bed and Xabi watches him from below, heart aching

 

There is silence and then, “I’m glad you were here, Xabi” Stevie whispers to the darkness

 

“Thank you for today, Stevie” Xabi says in a hushed voice

 

“Merry Christmas” Stevie says as he turns so he can look at Xabi in the dark, he can just about make out the shape of his face

 

“Merry Christmas”

 

They sleep.

 

 

*

 

 

They go out for breakfast the next morning because neither of them can be bothered to cook. They sit at a local pub where a Christmas special is being served: they have eggs and sausages and waffles and blueberry muffins and they put shots of vodka into their orange juice.

 

After stuffing themselves, they take a long walk back to Xabi’s room at school, choosing to dally by the lake though it is cold outside and their noses are red while their hands are blue.

 

“I’m happy,” Stevie says as they sit on a bench in the park, “Right now? In this moment? Total happiness” He pats his stomach as if to signify that a good meal had something to do with it

 

Xabi rolls his eyes but smiles as he says, “Me too”

 

“I’m going to miss you in January”

 

“Yeah, but it’ll only be a week. I’ll be back soon”

 

“You going to see Nagore when you’re there?”

 

 Xabi visibly tenses up but Stevie couldn’t resist asking the question, “She will probably be there when I go, yes”

 

Stevie nods carefully before standing up, “We should probably go, I think”

 

Xabi follows in his wake and stands but stops him before he can go any further. “Stevie, wait-” he says softly.

 

Stevie turns and Xabi is there – suddenly, so close with one hand on his arm and his face just inches away. He has only a moment to let out a shaky breath before Xabi’s lips are on his and he can taste sunlight and Christmas morning. He sighs despite himself. The kiss is slow and tentative but when Xabi moves to deepen it, bringing a hand to cup Stevie’s face he breaks away

 

“I’m sorry,” Stevie says, breathlessly, “I-I- I can’t”

 

“Stevie-” Xabi says

 

But Stevie is already backing away, hands in front of him as though to protect himself, “I’m not, I’m not…” he shakes his head repeatedly

 

“Stevie!” Xabi calls again. But he is too late. Stevie turns on his heel and runs, leaving Xabi staring helplessly after him.

 

*

 

 

Stevie ignores his phone for what feels like the fiftieth time, though he clearly sees the name “XABI” flashing across the screen. He slips his phone back into his pocket but freezes when he feels a hand on his shoulder

 

A “Hey, you” is whispered into his ear and a kiss is placed against his neck

 

Stevie turns and smiles, “Alex”, he opens his arms so she can step into his hug

 

The club is particularly loud that night and Alex looks particularly good. She is wearing a short-cut red dress and her hair is loose so it spills wildly over her shoulders, her hips sway to the beat of the music. She runs a hand through his hair and strokes his cheek, “It’s been a long time, Stevie. You been avoiding me?”

 

“You? Never!” Stevie says, tilting his head to the side and giving her a teasing smile.

 

He feels something in his back pocket vibrate. His phone. Xabi. Kissing Xabi. Wanting to kiss Xabi again. And again. And again and again and again and again and again and again-

 

“Come with me,” he whispers huskily against Alex’s ear. He takes her hand and leads her past the writhing bodies on the dance floor and into a nearby bathroom. A couple are already making out against the sink so he kicks a stall door open and they stumble inside. Alex shoves him against the door and attacks his mouth with her own, quickly unbuckling his belt so his trousers pool with her underwear on the floor

 

And he doesn’t close his eyes because if he does, all he will see is Xabi’s face and his head hurts so fucking much and then he’s pushing up inside of Alex and panting and she’s moaning against his neck.

 

It’s over within minutes.

 

Xabi leaves for Spain the next day.

 

tbc.

Tags: fandom: sport, my fic tag
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