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Rivalries Aside

Chapter Text

Sometimes, when Geri and Dani play cards, Sergio joins in. Other times, like tonight, he sits at the table with a drink in his hand and watches them.

"Scared you're going to lose again, Sergio?" Geri asks him, without taking his eyes off the five cards in his hand.

"Stop using him as a tactic," Dani replies, a smirk forming across his lips. "I can see right through you, Geri."

"Oh please." Sergio leans back in his chair, getting comfortable. "I only wanted to have a drink and enjoy your company. I don't have an ulterior motive."

"See?" Geri raises his eyebrows.




"Have you two always been like this?" Dani asks.

"Yep." Sergio sips on his drink.

"When did you actually meet, anyway?" Dani eyes them both curiously, before picking up about a third of his chips and moving them towards the centre of the table.

"That's easy," Geri replies. "Back when he was in the youth squad at Sevilla. I played against him several times when I was in La Masia."

"You did?" Sergio furrows his brows.

Geri pauses, opening his mouth slightly. "Yes. Don't you remember?"

"I'm not sure." Sergio shrugs nonchalantly.

But he remembers. Of course he remembers. He vividly recalls noticing the tall, blue-eyed boy as soon as he ran onto the pitch. He was bigger than everybody else on the Barcelona team, and it looked particularly odd whenever he stood next to Messi – the Argentine striker Sergio had heard so much about.

He'd heard everybody talking about Piqué too. He was related to somebody who was on Barcelona's board, or something. Perhaps they'd called in a favour or two to get him on the team. A few minutes into the game though, and it was clear he was a solid defender. Sergio remembers looking at him and thinking yes, this guy is going to be trouble. He had no idea exactly how much trouble, though.

Geri isn't looking at his cards now, instead, he's looking at Sergio as though he's mortally wounded him by forgetting such a vital piece of their past.

"Are we doing this or what?" Dani taps on the table impatiently.

"Yeah, yeah, sure." Geri places his cards.

"I win!" Dani exclaims, as though he can't believe his own luck.

Geri tuts with discontent, watching as his precious chips are greedily swept away into Dani's hands.

Sergio deals the cards for the next round.

"You went away for a while after that, didn't you?" Dani asks. "You were in Manchester with Cris."

"Yes." Geri nods with the urgency of someone who doesn't want to be distracted. "The first time I saw Sergio after that was El Clásico. It must have been around December 2008."

"You were on the bench, we didn't talk much," Sergio says.

For the briefest of moments, he thinks he's said too much. After all, he's just given away the fact he remembers Piqué was on the bench that night. He'd read about Geri's return to Spain. He'd been happy for him. Maybe even a little bit excited at the prospect of them becoming competitors. Maybe seeing him again stirred something within him, something he'd forgotten was there.

"I enjoyed watching us win 2-0." Geri smiles.

Sergio grimaces.

"You two really are something." Dani laughs, sliding a small stack of chips towards Geri.

"Playing it safe?" Geri asks. "Actually, I'd better do the same."

Dani wins the round again. This time, he looks even more pleased with himself for doing so. Geri sighs – he hasn't got many chips left to barter with, and he hates losing. Poker is his thing, and he commonly thrashes the rest of his international teammates at it.

"So, you played together for La Roja not long after that, I'm guessing?" Dani looks from Geri to Sergio.

"You know, I'm beginning to think you're more interested in us than the press is," Sergio says, twisting his lips into a smile.

"Since Sergio won't remember, I'll cut in," Geri replies. "I got called up in February 2009. The first game we played together was against England, in Sevilla."

By now, Sergio thinks Geri is beginning to look tired of Dani's questions, and more importantly, of his own apathetical responses.

"I remember having a lot of my family out for that match," Sergio says.

But there's a lot more than that to it. That was when it all started – whatever this thing between Geri and him is. They've been on, they've been off, but whatever seems to happen on the pitch during El Clásico, he and Geri always seem to go back to each other. Every single time there is an international break, they secretly act like a couple.

Sergio stretches his arms out and yawns. "I might let you two finish up here." He groans, getting to his feet. "It's time to call it a night."

"I would have thought you would have enjoyed seeing me take all of his money," Dani says, sifting through his cards.

"Another time." Sergio smiles playfully. With his back to Dani, he waits until he catches Geri's eye.

I remember everything, he mouths. All of it.

Geri fixes his blue eyes on Sergio, staring at him intensely, albeit only for a moment. Sergio sees the flicker of mutual understanding that's always there between them.

"You know what?" Geri says, reaching into his pocket and producing a wad of notes. "All or nothing, Dani. Come on, let's go for it."

He watches like an animal about to pounce on its prey as Dani slides all his chips into the centre of the table.

Dani puts his cards down first. Geri follows expressionlessly, only smirking once they're laid out and he sees Dani's response.

Geri wins the game.

Chapter Text

There is a body in the bed next to him. Geri realises this because it gives a distinct yelp when he accidentally kicks it in the back.

"You and your stupid big feet!" Sergio turns to him, shoving him in the chest.

It takes Geri a moment to ascertain exactly what's going on. The morning sunlight stings his half open eyes, and his head throbs angrily.

"I can't believe you kicked me." Sergio glares at him. "Especially after last night."

After last night.

The three words send a surge of panic that rushes through Geri's body. He massages his temples in vain, but the headache won't relent. There was a party, there was beer, there was bad singing at the karaoke machine. But Geri has no idea how he ended up here, in a hotel room with Sergio, of all people.

"Did we…?" Geri begins, but he can't go through with asking the question.

"Did we what?" Sergio props himself up on the bed, and if Geri didn't know any better, he'd swear Sergio was smirking.

Geri takes a deep breath, because he has to do this. Lifting the bed cover, he checks. Yes, he is wearing pants.

Sergio cackles with laughter. He laughs until his face is a distinct shade of crimson, until he's gripping his sides with his hands to try and control himself.

"You think…" But Sergio can't speak while he's this hysterical. "You think we slept together."

"Sergio, I woke up in your bed!" Geri can't meet his eye, can't watch him cracking up at this a moment longer. He stumbles to his feet.

"You were drunk and I looked after you," Sergio says. "Don't I even get a thank you? Aren't you even going to buy me breakfast?"

"No." Geri's stomach turns at the mere thought of food. He gathers the rest of his clothes from the floor, not wanting to know how they got there.

"I can't believe you thought we slept together." Sergio chokes through the last of his laughter.

Geri leaves the room thinking, would it be so bad if we had?

Chapter Text

It isn’t the worst argument they’ve had. But it is the silliest.

Sergio sits on the bed, his back turned towards Gerard as he puts his clothes on. There is the constant humming of passing vehicles on the road outside, the whir of a maid’s vacuum cleaner in the hallway.

Neither of them speak. Not until Gerard’s phone vibrates.

“I meant what I said Gerard. Turn it off!”

“When will you stop being so fucking unreasonable?”

Brown eyes glare in his direction. “I’m not the unreasonable one.”

“I just don't get why you won't do this for me.”

“Gerard, I am not going on periscope with you.”

“Everyone else has been.”

“Well, I'm not everyone else.”

You’ve got that right, he thinks. Frustration. Despondency. Another Ramos induced migraine pressing at his temples.

Sergio stands, smoothing his shirt out with the palms of his hands. Fixing his hair. Trying to make it look as though he never came here, no doubt.

“I just don't get why you see it as such a negative thing.” A heavy sigh falls from Gerard’s mouth. “It would make us seem more united.”

“We are united.”

Gerard scoffs.

“Some things should be kept private.”

“Like us, you mean?” Gerard asks.

Sergio goes still.

“I have nothing. Nothing to remember you by when we’re apart for months at a time. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve imagined us being together. I don’t even have a photo of us.”

“You’d probably put it on Twitter if you did.”

“I was being serious.”

“Were you? Because sometimes, Gerard, it's very hard to tell.”

Gerard’s eyes wander, as though he’s not sure where to set his gaze. His lip quivers.

A strong hand on his shoulder, Sergio shushing him with soft whispers.

“Hey, hey. I didn't mean to hurt you.”

Gerard looks up at him longingly. Sergio leans over, pressing their noses together. They stay like that for a while.

“One selfie,” Sergio says. “And it’s just for us. No one else.”

“Just for us.” Gerard nods.

“Otherwise, I will personally ensure that you never get onto the Internet again.”

Gerard barely suppresses a laugh as he reaches for his phone.

Chapter Text

Sergio doesn’t want to speak to Geri after the match.

He keeps his head down, and his expression blank as he heads for the sanctity of the Real dressing room.

“Hey!” Geri calls after him.

He grimaces at Geri’s persistence. Sergio’s steps become brisker as he hurries down the corridor, fully intent on avoiding him.

“Hey, Sergio!”

He feels Geri’s hand grasp his shoulder and sighs with weary resignation.

Sergio doesn’t want to do this. Not here. Not now. Probably not for a while.

“You okay?” Geri asks, his tone low and flat, lacking the jubilation Sergio expected to hear in it.

His mouth goes dry as he struggles to muster up a response.

Why is Geri here? To remind him that Barcelona just gave Real a 5 – 1 thrashing? Sergio wants to tell him to limit the shit-talking to their WhatsApp group. At least he can block him on there.

“Sergio, are you okay?”

“Not now, Geri,” he replies.

“Wait,” Geri says, narrowing his eyes. “What did I do wrong?”

“Why are you even pretending to care?” Sergio’s voice cracks, and he’s instantly mad at himself for betraying any hint of emotion.

It’s not as if he and Geri are national teammates anymore. They can drop the facade; they don’t have to pretend they can coexist.

“It got pretty heated out there, I wanted to check on you,” Geri says quietly.

“People can chant what they want. It doesn’t bother me.” Sergio knows this, at least, is true. No one will break his spirit on the pitch. Being whistled only makes his desire to win stronger.

He does not need Geri’s pity.

“I was trying to be respectful.”

“That’s a first.”

“That’s not fair.” Geri glares at him.

“I hear your FIFA Fair Play Award is in the mail.”

“Wow.” Geri is still looking at him, and Sergio does all he can to avoid meeting his piercing blue eyes.

The silence that follows is excruciating. All these years, all the history between them, and still, they can barely manage basic communication.

“I’m not going to hug you after a Clásico, Geri,” Sergio says, finally.

Sergio’s not going to hug Geri at all, because deep down he knows if he does, he’s only going to feel worse when he lets go again.

“That’s just mean.” Geri purses his lips together.

“Since when were you humble in victory, anyway?” Sergio manages a laugh.

“It’s no fun winning 5-1.” Geri shakes his head. “It’ll be better when Real are competitive again. Then when I gloat after we beat you, it’ll really wind you up.”

“If I had the energy, I’d punch you.”

“But you’d rather hug me.” He flashes a grin that’s altogether too smug. “Come on Sergio, you know you miss me.”

Geri walks away without saying goodbye, and Sergio’s head is an even bigger mess than it was at the full-time whistle.

They never apologise to each other. They never really acknowledge their disagreements. They don’t admit that maybe, in some twisted way, they sort of care for one another.

Briefly, Sergio allows himself to wonder if he’ll see Geri again before the next Clásico.

His shoulder throbs angrily. He’s tired and heartbroken, and there’s going to be a shitstorm once he gets back to Madrid. With a result this bad, he’ll be lucky if he’s able to leave his house for the next month. But for the first time that night, Sergio smiles to himself like he means it.

Chapter Text

“You mind if I take the window seat?”

Sergio does mind, but Geri’s already sitting down before he has a chance to object. He’s annoyed enough about having to sit with Geri as it is – his long legs, his pointy elbows – why couldn’t he have sat with one of the shorter boys instead?

Be nice, Sergio tells himself, through gritted teeth. But inwardly, he’s already comprising a list of ways in which Geri has annoyed him on this flight.

As the minutes pass by, the list keeps getting longer.

He eats with his mouth open. His music is too loud. He isn’t even remotely interested in initiating conversation.

Sergio scrolls to his favourite Flamenco playlist on his phone. He turns the volume up and tries to get lost in the emotion of the music.

Geri nudges him. “What is that god-awful shit you’re listening to?”

“One of my favourite death metal albums.” He deadpans.

“Sergio.” Geri lets out an exaggerated sigh. “I can’t tolerate Flamenco music, please. You’re killing me here.”

A low growl escapes from the back of Sergio’s throat.

“I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“Well, I am offended,” Sergio replies. “It requires considerable technical skill to make Flamenco music.”

“And you think you have that?” Geri asks. “I know you play.”

“My music has… conviction.”

“Is that what you call it?” Geri grimaces.

Sergio glares at him, acutely aware of how the tension between them is beginning to rise, as it always does.

Seconds later, they both start to laugh.

“You should see your face,” Geri says. “And for the record, I’ve heard you playing the guitar. You’re pretty good.”

“Are you complimenting me?” Sergio is genuinely taken aback.

“Ever thought about ditching the football for a career in music?” Geri asks.

“You wish you could get rid of me that easily.” Sergio grins.

Chapter Text

Sergio’s pretty sure Geri’s only rooming with him because he lost a bet.

It quickly goes from being awkward to being downright embarrassing between them.

“I’m sorry.” Sergio covers his eyes and backs out the bathroom. “I didn’t know you were still trying to shower.”

“What else did you think I’d be doing in here?” Geri snaps back, quickly grabbing a towel to cover his modesty. His skin is flushed pink, while Sergio is sure his face is a vivid shade of crimson.

They’re footballers, for heaven’s sake. Seeing each other naked comes with the territory. So why is it making Sergio feel so flustered now?

He must have seen Geri without his clothes on hundreds of times. He can probably remember every freckle and birthmark; he can recount the precise details of Geri’s body with impressive accuracy.

Sergio swallows hard. He knows so much about Geri, but he feels as though he knows so little.

Then, it hits him: they’ve never spent any time alone together. And by doing so, Sergio feels as though he’s only beginning to see Geri properly for the first time.

“I…” Geri stutters, as he comes out of the bathroom and sits on his bed.

“I’m sorry,” Sergio says. “I didn’t mean to – it was an invasion of privacy, and I shouldn’t have – ”

“It’s fine.” Geri interrupts. “We just need boundaries.”

“Boundaries,” Sergio replies, nodding his head. “Right.”

He’s never had to set ‘boundaries’ with a roommate before. He looks across at Geri, who is still trying to get dressed, and swiftly averts his eyes.

Chapter Text

Drinking after a win is one thing; drinking after a loss is quite another.

Sergio gives up counting after the third or fourth bottle of beer. He just wants the defeat to stop hurting.

It would have to be Geri, of all people, to find him slumped against the near-empty minibar in his hotel room.

“Geez, Sergio.” Geri hoists his heavy body onto the bed. “What the hell are you doing?”

“What do you care?” Sergio slurs his words. “You’re not part of the team anymore.” He sniffs.

Geri steps back, his mouth slightly ajar. It’s clear Sergio’s words have stung him.

“That’s not fair,” Geri says.

“Then stay.” Sergio’s eyes fill with tears.

“You know I can’t.” Geri sighs, running his fingers through his hair. “It’s the right time for this. I need to leave. It’s going to benefit the rest of the team.”

Tomorrow, Sergio will blame the alcohol for his recklessness. Now, he doesn’t particularly care.

“Then I dare you to stay with me tonight.”

“Sergio…”

There’s nothing romantic about the way he butts his head against Geri’s and clumsily presses their lips together. And Sergio can’t be sure if it’s out of pity or desire, but to his credit, Geri does not pull away. Sergio lazily runs his tongue along Geri’s lip, a low hum escaping the back of his mouth. He wants to reach out and grab Geri, to deepen the kiss, to have him here and now, in his room, their last chance before they’re never national teammates again.

But he’s too drunk; he knows he’s too drunk.

Geri stares at him. Neither of them moves.

“I’ll stay,” Geri whispers so quietly, Sergio almost doesn’t hear him. “If that’s what you want.”

Chapter Text

“Trips to Madrid take like, 40 minutes,” Geri says down the phone for the third or fourth time that night. “You know my life gets boring when it’s all business and no pleasure.”

His words make Sergio feel better, at least for a while.

“So, we’ll be having a sleepover on Saturday night?” He asks, feeling like a teenager.

“Exactly.”

“What about Sunday?”

Geri clears his throat on the other end of the line.

“I have an important meeting early in the morning, then a conference call to New York.”

“Seriously, Geri? On a Sunday?” Sergio sighs heavily.

“My business partners are aware of my circumstances,” he says. “They do their best to accommodate my needs.”

When are you going to accommodate my needs? Sergio wonders. But he doesn’t ask. He hasn’t got the energy to spend what little time they have together arguing.

“You’re disappointed.” Geri breathes heavily on the other end of the line.

“No, no.”

“Sergio…”

“It’s alright.”

And it has to be, because it isn’t as though Sergio can make many trips to Barcelona.

“It’ll be easier for us soon,” Geri says. “In the future.”

Sergio doesn’t need to ask what he means.

It’ll be easier when one of them has retired.

The thought scares him far more than he is ready to admit.

“We’ll be okay, Sergio.”

“I know we will, Geri.”

Chapter Text

Sergio is poaching eggs in the kitchen when he hears Geri’s soft footsteps behind him.

“You should have woken me,” Geri says, stretching and yawning.

“I don’t know; you looked kind of peaceful.”

“You know I don’t like to sleep for more than four or five hours.”

“Guess I tired you out then.”

“I guess you did.”

Sergio turns around to face Geri, and his stomach does somersaults as soon as he sets eyes on his dishevelled appearance, his hair unkempt and standing on end, his eyes still bleary with sleep. He thinks Geri looks a million times hotter like this than he does in one of his tailored business suits, groomed to perfection.

“I… uh…” Sergio stutters.

“Uh, Sergio?” Geri gestures wildly with his finger. “I think the eggs are burning.”

The kitchen quickly fills with the smell of acrid smoke. Sergio rushes to take the pan off the heat. He swears under his breath, feeling dismayed that despite his best efforts, breakfast has gone very, very wrong.

“Shall I make coffee?” Geri asks calmly.

“Coffee.” Sergio concedes.

Chapter Text

Their teammates keep telling them they’re in love with each other, so Geri decides they might as well act on it, and to hell with the consequences.

Hola, Papi.” Geri gently taps Sergio on the butt as they start their laps at training that morning.

Mi cariño,” he replies, blowing a kiss in Geri’s direction as he catches up to him. “You look especially handsome today.”

Isco and Marco stare at them aghast and then stare at each other.

“Guys, please,” Isco says, his brow furrowing tightly. “You’re going to make the rest of us puke.”

Sergio winks at Geri, who nods knowingly in return.

Chapter Text

At first, when Sergio starts texting him, Geri manages to play it cool.

Can’t stop thinking about you wearing our white away kit. His phone blinks.

I know you can’t. Geri replies.

But Sergio’s messages keep coming.

Are you wearing anything white today, baby?

Geri becomes acutely aware of how hot the air in the room is; how he needs to open another window.

Seeing you in white makes me so horny.

His cheeks flush crimson, and he can see just how red he’s turning in his phone’s reflection.

Put a white shirt on, and send me a selfie?

Geri doesn’t think he can cope with seeing Sergio’s name pop up on his phone again. He knows none of this is real, but he can’t stop thinking about what they might do if it was.

Come on, baby. I just want to see you… in white :)

Geri swallows the lump forming in the back of his throat. This time, he’s determined to put an end to Sergio’s game.

Sergio, I’m going to block you.

The replies start coming right away.

Gonna send me a selfie first?

…Geri?

GERI?!

Geri takes a quick selfie of himself raising his middle finger. He hits send.

Chapter Text

For the past couple of months, they’ve barely done more than FaceTime. Sergio figures being in the same building as Geri is a significant improvement. It’s the closest thing they’re ever going to get to an actual date. There’s no way he’s prepared to miss what he knows is one of the biggest nights of Geri’s career – the Davis cup final.

Sergio’s proud of Geri. He’s truly, genuinely proud. Even if he never manages to find the right words to tell him.

From time to time, Sergio glances across the court, thinking about how good Geri looks in his suit. But Geri never meets his gaze; he’s always engaged in conversation with one business associate or another, or deeply engrossed in the tennis. Sergio’s heart sinks, because all he wants is to get Geri alone.

It’s nearly the end of the night when his phone finally buzzes.

Will I see you after the afterparty? I could sleep at yours.

Sergio smiles to himself and thinks at last, because Geri is always worth waiting for.

Chapter Text

Sergio is, as far as Geri knows, unaware that one of his favourite Dolce and Gabbana jackets is missing. He examines it more closely, running his fingers over the expensive fabric, eyes studying the gaudy print of colourful birds, leaves, and twigs.

This is probably one of the tamer jackets in Sergio’s wardrobe. It’s still the kind of thing Geri would rib him endlessly over wearing, but it’s less brash than most of his clothes.

It wouldn’t fit Geri, anyway. It’d pinch at his armpits and Sergio would laugh at him, because the sleeves would be way too short.

It’s probably a good thing, then, that Geri hasn’t taken it because he wants to wear it.

It feels strange at first as he unzips it, and rests his head on the soft, padded lining inside. The jacket still smells faintly of Sergio, and Geri’s chest tightens as it makes the distance between them seem further than it truly is. He hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since the last time they shared a bed. Geri figures this is the next best thing for now.

Chapter Text

Geri’s used to his knee hurting. And he can almost guarantee that when he takes a knock like he did tonight, it’ll always be his knee that takes the brunt of it.

There are messages from his mother and his brother when he switches his phone on, but there are three or four from Sergio. Geri calls him as soon as he gets the chance because he knows Sergio won’t wait.

“Hey,” Sergio says as he picks up. “You okay?”

Geri can sense the panic in his voice.

“I’m fine, Sergio,” he says, half-smiling. “It was just a knock.”

“Looked pretty bad from the angle I saw on TV.”

Geri sighs.

“Are you icing it? Have they given you a shot for the pain?”

“Actually, they’ve got me dancing around in the dressing room,” Geri deadpans. “The blood flow will be good for the injury, right?”

“Geri…”

“I’m fine, Sergio,” he says. “I don’t need anything for the pain. I’ll rest up tomorrow, and I should be good. Please stop worrying.”

“I wasn’t worried.”

“Of course you weren’t.” Geri grins because deep down he loves it when Sergio pays him extra attention.

“Wouldn’t want you to miss the next Clásico.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“Good.” Sergio clears his throat.

“Good,” Geri repeats, imitating his tone.

Chapter Text

The taxi driver eyes Geri warily as he stops the car on Sergio’s driveway. It’s the gigantic ‘SR4’ logos, Geri supposes. He’s already spoken to Sergio about them – they’re a dead giveaway and totally over the top - they’re a security hazard if anything.

Anybody normal would be wondering why Geri would ask to be brought here at 4 AM. Anyone who knows them knows how difficult it is to keep them away from each other.

Geri gives the guy a generous tip and his most winning smile.

Sergio gave him a key a while ago now. Geri comes and goes as he pleases; such are the odd hours he keeps. He’d expected the Davis Cup celebrations to last longer, but Geri had also made a promise to get away as quickly as he could.

He turns the key in the lock. Like him, Sergio is a night owl. He hopes Sergio will be up waiting for him.

The first thing he sees is a trail of rose petals leading from the doorway and out towards the balcony. Geri is overtaken by nervous energy as he follows the path. Sergio is always unpredictable, exciting. Geri has a restless heart, but he doesn’t think he could ever grow bored of Sergio.

There is a large champagne bucket, ice sparkling under the glowing lights, and Sergio, lying in the hot tub, his body below his torso hidden by the bubbles.

“How long have you been waiting here?” Geri asks, his voice low.

“Not long enough for the ice to melt,” Sergio replies, his brown eyes fixed on Geri. “I thought we should celebrate your success in style.”

Geri doesn’t think he’s ever got undressed as quickly in his life.

Chapter Text

Only after they’ve completely tired each other out do Geri and Sergio stop trying to rile one another. Geri enjoys these brief moments of tenderness far more than he’d ever admit.

Sergio lies next to him on the bed, his chest rising and falling with heavy breaths. Geri peeks at him through tired eyes and allows himself to shift a little closer. Sergio tilts his head to look at Geri, his eyes roving from side to side as though he’s assessing the situation and trying to gauge Geri’s reaction.

Without asking, Sergio folds his strong arms around Geri’s waist and nuzzles his neck with his nose. Somehow, it’s intensely intimate, and Geri shivers against his touch. He thinks he’d be content never to move again.

Chapter Text

Geri wakes first, as always. His body always runs on too little sleep.

The first urge he has is to check his phone – there’ll be tons of messages waiting for him from business associates, friends, anyone who happened to tune into the Davis cup final last night. It’s rare he even bothers to use the ‘do not disturb’ function on it, because his life is hectic, and he can only see it becoming more hectic as the months and years go on. His hand hovers over the handset, poised to pick it up, but then he hears Sergio’s soft breaths as he sleeps next to him, and he crumbles.

The air catches in the back of Geri’s throat as he watches Sergio, wondering if the day will come when these stolen moments stop being enough for him – if he’ll find someone who can dedicate far more time to him than Geri can, if he’ll move on, if he’ll be happier.

The thought of it makes Geri’s stomach knot.

He leans forward, gently brushes his fingers through Sergio’s hair and kisses his forehead. The thought of losing Sergio – especially to someone else – is inconceivable.

Chapter Text

“I think, and I’m telling you this is a friend – you’ve had enough,” Andrés says, covering his mouth as though the TV cameras are watching.

“I’m barely getting started,” Geri replies, eyes narrow and dark as he stares down into a whiskey glass.

“This is a terrible fucking idea.” Andrés lets out an exaggerated sigh.

Normally, Geri wouldn’t disrespect Andrés like this, nor would he make a spectacle of himself. But these aren’t normal circumstances. Whenever he closes his eyes, he sees the ref giving a penalty for his handball, and he sees Sergio’s face at the end of the match, strewn with tears. And Geri knows Spain’s exit from the World Cup is his fault.

“Don’t leave things like this,” Andrés says. “Just talk to Sergio.”

“I can’t.” Geri swallows the lump forming in his throat.

“You mean, you won’t.”

“I can’t.” Geri’s eyes fill with tears as he finishes drinking another shot. “Because I don’t know how to.”

Chapter Text

Sergio doesn’t remember much the morning after, apart from how much he hates hangovers. It’s only when his phone buzzes and Isco tells him the video has gone viral amongst La Roja that the pieces begin to slot together.

His headache intensifies, and he rubs his temples.

Fucking parties, he thinks to himself. There’s a reason the team are discouraged from having many of them.

His face begins to heat up as he watches himself grabbing Geri (though to be fair, Geri does grab him back). They both move to the music, arms around each other’s waists, swaying drunkenly in the middle of the rest of their teammates.

It’s going to be a while before either of them forget about this.