Fandom/Pairing: Real Madrid - Cristiano Ronaldo/Mesut Özil, one-sided Mesut Özil/Sami Khedira, past Cristiano Ronaldo/Kaká
Author: onyxexistance / openmoments
Word Count: 3, 390
Summary: "They're good friends, best friends. Up until they're more."
Disclaimers: If I owned this team, do you think I would be writing fic?
Prompt: This prompt over at footballkink2: One-sided Crozil. A smidge of Criska.
Mesut gives and gives, hoping that one day Cris will see him in a different light.
Author's Notes: This got a little bit away from the prompt, but I do really like how it turned out.
He moved to Spain to start new. He moved to Spain to focus. He moved to Spain for football. He did not move to Spain to fall in love.
He moved to Spain to start new. He moved to Spain to focus. He moved to Spain for football. He did not move to Spain to fall in love.
They say German is a harsh language and Spanish the opposite, lyrical in nature. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it explains why it took him so long, longer than Sami, even, to get the words to form on his tongue. They felt too soft and smooth, not big enough to fill the space in his mouth.
“Your Spanish is getting better,” Cristiano tells him one day as they sit out on the field, partnered for stretches before practice.
He raises his eyes from where they were focused on the wrinkle in the middle of his knee. “Oh?” is all he replies as they switch and he pushes up against Cris’s hand.
Cris nods, smiles a little bit, “Yeah, it is. Your words are getting smoother,” and they continue stretching in silence.
He doesn’t notice he’s mumbling under his breathe, doesn’t realize he’s practicing until Cristiano comments on it, praises it, and he gets this glow in the pit of his stomach, ducks his head to hide his smile and mutters, “Thank you,” scratching the back of his head in embarrassment.
Practice is where he empties his head, works himself through his paces, pushes himself until he’s near breaking point. Where, if he misses a pass, a goal, a moment, it’s not the end of the world, he can try again, and no blood’s drawn. It’s where he strives for perfection. But he won’t be, can’t be, because perfection is already on the field, on his team. He doesn’t resent it or curse it, instead uses it as his measuring stick and seeks to learn.
After a while, however, he notices more than the footwork, the unity between the ball and player, the unspoken conversation between Cris and the other players. He wants to learn how to have conversations with him, wants to learn how to speak his language. The thought crosses his mind, and he shakes it out, pushes his legs faster, harder, uses the burn to dispel his thoughts.
Everyone always likes praise. It’s a human need, a fact of life. Over the years there’s always been one person or another who’s praise he’s wanted over everyone else’s. The feeling lasts for a time, but soon moves to wanting to gain praise from someone else. He expects it when he moves to Spain, moves to a new team. He wants to impress, to be needed. Cris is an obvious person to want to please. He works hard for it, pushes himself until he can’t anymore, and then pushes himself some more and it’s worth it when Cris wraps his arms around him, grins that stupid slanted smile at him, pushes his hands through his hair. It’s worth every moment of aching muscle and bone deep tiredness to have those fleeting moments.
But the need to please doesn’t leave. It grows. And he should be worried, but he’s not.
“We need to get you out,” Cris tells him one night as they’re sitting in his living room, perched on couches and armrests, water bottles scattered around the room as teammates fight each other for possession of game controllers.
He raises his eyebrows as he puts the cap back on his water bottle, swallows, “What?” It’s such a random statement and he feels like he’s walked into the middle of a conversation.
Cris smiles from his position on the armrest, arm around the back of the couch, Kaká’s arm up against his thigh. “Out,” he repeats, smile kind though the word is teasing, “You stay in too much. Besides, how else are you going to meet someone?”
He scratches the back of his neck as he ducks his head, “No, I’m good,” he says, looking over to where Pepe is letting out a moan of defeat as Marcelo beats him in whatever game the group has been playing. Benz nabs the controllers from Pepe’s hands and shoves him over as they restart.
There’s a laugh and he looks up as Cris leans over and claps his hand on Kaká’s knee, “He’s good,” and Kaká smiles and looks up at him, shakes his head.
"Not everyone’s like you,” he reminds Cris quietly and Mesut’s thankful for that, fingers running up and down the side of the water bottle he’s still holding.
Cris shakes his head, “No, most people are like me. You’re the special one,” he tells Kaká and Mesut’s never heard that tone of voice from him before and there’s an ache somewhere on the left side of his chest and he mumbles something and joins the brawl on the couch, ends up squished next to Sami who gives him a look that he ignores, shakes away, but welcomes the warmth beside him. He’s missed it.
“You have to stop trying to impress him. You already do,” Sami tells him a few days later as he wraps an ice pack around his ankle.
“What are you talking about?” he asks, wincing as he readjusts on the couch, places another pillow under his ankle.
He hears a sigh of frustration and Sami’s face is suddenly all he sees as his friend leans over the armrest of the couch, hair hanging into his eyes and he brushes it away, laughing.
Sami’s face is serious though and he stops quickly. Looks up into his best friend’s face, eyes searching each other.
“Cris,” Sami finally says and he tries not to look away, almost succeeds, but covers it.
“I still don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says, and feels Sami’s puff of annoyed breathe on his face.
His friend pulls away and comes around the couch, and balances on his stomach. Mesut gives a squawk of protest and Sami rolls his eyes, “I’m not even sitting on you,” and they sit in silence for a minute.
“You have his approval, you know,” Sami tells him and he rolls his eyes.
“I don’t want it,” he tries and Sami shakes his head.
“You want it,” he repeats, pauses and then, “and you want more, you just don’t realize how much,” and pokes him in the stomach as he gets up, runs a hand through his hair and Mesut can hear him starting supper, singing something out of tune as he opens and closes the fridge.
He doesn’t feel himself falling asleep but stirs when he feels Sami pick him up and carry him to his room, tuck him into bed, and the door creak behind him.
He’s benched for the first part of the game and goes stir crazy, but doesn’t let it show. When he’s finally let on, his mind narrows and focuses: ball, kick, run, move, dodge, pass, open, repeat. Cris isn’t open and he passes to Sami, who passes up to Higuan who scores and it’s not til afterwards that he sees Cris’s face. Not until after the ball’s left his feet that he sees the almost five year old look in mid pout and for the first time that he can remember, it’s not Cris he runs up to to celebrate a goal. He ends up attached to Kaká and grins, feels his mouth stretching, as Higuain ends up being bombarded with players, Cris off on the side.
It’s not like he thought that Cris was perfect. He knows he’s a drama queen, but has never seen it like this, has never seen it on the field like this.
He normally takes his time, waits for Cris to finish, but the way he’s snarling over by his locker, fists up against the door, Kaká the only one within ten feet. He wants to get closer, wants to slide a hand up his spine, soothe the stress and anger from his shoulders, but knows, as much as he doesn’t want to, that if Kaká isn’t close, then he shouldn’t try either.
Instead Sami wraps his arm around his head, smile bright and tugs him towards the door. “He’ll notice you, pretty boy,” he whispers into his ear and Mesut pretends to ignore him.
It’s late when he sends the text and he deliberates over the wording for way too long, and finally Sami’s the one who grabs the phone from his hands, a shocked, “Hey!” following the click of it being sent.
“You’re such a love struck puppy,” Sami tells him as he flops on the couch. Mesut lifts his feet, places them on Sami’s lap and pokes his thigh with his toes.
“We’re just friends,” and it doesn’t sound convincing to his own ears, but he doesn’t look at Sami when he says it.
His friend doesn’t buy it, they know each other too well for that, “No, you’re not,” he says and there’s a pause and he feels Sami playing with the band of his right sock, “and that’s okay,” he continues, “I just don’t want you to get hurt,” and the buzzing of the phone resting on his stomach saves him from wondering too much about what Sami’s saying.
The fact that Cris said yes to a late night bite to eat shouldn’t feel as weird as it does, but he shakes it off and knocks on the door, rocks back and forth on his heels as he waits, takes a step back when the door opens and smiles when he sees Cris. The crooked smile he gets in return makes something flip under his rib cage.
“Ready to go?” he asks, nodding towards Cris’s bare feet.
The crooked smile stretches and Cris nods him into the house, “Just about, come on in,” and the two steps into the house shouldn’t make him feel as nervous as he does.
He’s rocking back on his heels again, and he resists the urge to scratch the back of his head, a nervous habit he settles into whenever he’s around Cris.
“Where do you want to go?” Cris calls from the bathroom, the words jumbled around the toothbrush in his mouth.
“There’s a German place Sami and I found a few weeks ago,” he calls back, then toes off his shoes and makes his way to the bathroom, leans against the door jamb. He’s not one to yell if he doesn’t have to, and something about seeing Cris at home does something to him, something he still doesn’t want to admit to.
Their eyes connect through the mirror and Cris raises his eyebrows, as if to say, “German restaurant in Spain?” and he smiles.
“It’s good, don’t worry,” he says and his smile widens at the toothpaste foam smeared across the corner of Cris’s mouth.
Cris spits, washes his mouth, and exits the bathroom, nudging Mesut with his shoulder as they make their way to the front door.
“It better be good, pretty boy,” Cris says as they head out the door, “or else,” and the last words send a bit of a thrill through his stomach.
Two hours later they’re laughing as they make their way down the street to the vehicle, before Cris tugs on his arm, “Wait!”
He stops, laughter dying on his lips, “Yeah?”
Cris’s eyes are bright in the moonlight and he’s got a devilish look on his face, “There’s a dessert place down this block. They make the best pastries,” and Mesut bursts out laughing again.
Cris gets this look on his face, a ridiculous confused look on his face, a little cocky, some mischief lurking in all the little corners, “What?”
He shakes his head, “You and pastries? Really?”
“Yeah,” he pauses for a moment as he steers them down the block, “My mom was a great baker,” he explains, there’s a pause then, “she’d bake for all the big holidays, and my friends would always come over because they knew she’d have something cooling on the counter.”
He doesn’t say anything, just walks in silence, loving the words coming out of his mouth, that he didn’t have to prod it all out.
“What about you?” Cris asks, hands shoved into his pockets, knocks their shoulders together, “Anything to share?”
Mesut shrugs, “My mother’s amazing. She was at every one of my football games as I was growing up. All the ones when I was little, anyways. And she,” here he stops for a moment, something building in his throat and he pauses, can feel Cris just waiting, “she’d send me letters every month.”
“Every month?” Cris asks.
He nods, “Yeah, every month, like clockwork. It made moving easier, you know?” and he can see Cris nod from the corner of his eye.
“Does she still do that?” Cris asks as he opens the door for them, ushers him into the bakery and steers him up to the glass with all the pastries behind them.
“Yeah, she does. Every month,” he tells him, as he stares into the creamy filling of a tart.
He can feel Cris’s hand on the back of his neck, “Really? That’s adorable,” Cris says and he can hear the smile in his voice.
“Yeah. We call every week and my dad e-mails me regularly, but,” and he stops for a moment, and Cris prompts him, “But?”
“But the letters from my mom are what I look forward to every month,” he finishes as he points to a pastry and watches as a server fishes it out of the glass case.
There’s a silence as Cris points to the dessert he wants and they carry them out of the shop, walking further down the street, silence between them and for once Mesut doesn’t want to ruin it with words.
He drops Cris off at his house, or tries to. Somewhere between the walk and driving home, Mesut’s accepted that he’s fallen. He didn’t come to Spain to fall in love, but he’s realizing that he is and he doesn’t want to say the wrong thing, but he can’t help smiling and Cris keeps asking him things about his childhood and he can’t stop talking, laughed when Cris got cream filling stuck on his top lip and dared to stand close enough to wipe it off with his finger and Cris got this look in his eye. He stopped for a moment, thought he’d gone too far and then Cris had stepped up close and licked it off his finger and he’d struggled to focus on walking.
“We have practice tomorrow,” he states for the third time and Cris smiles from where he’s propped up against the window of his car.
“I know, but I’m having a lot of fun getting to know you,” and he wants to lean over the console and kiss him, but he doesn’t, just focuses on his hands on the wheel.
“But you’re right,” Cris admits as he sits up, “I should head inside,” and with that he’s out of the car, waves goodnight before jogging up to his door and letting himself in.
When he enters the locker room for practice the next morning, his face has almost been split in two with the ridiculous smile that’s been plastered on his face and Sami’s been teasing him about it since they woke up this morning.
“Dear god, you fell head over heels, didn’t you?” Sami asked earlier, and sighed dramatically as he stuck the dishes in the sink, “Now I’m not going to hear anything but, ‘Oh he’s so wonderful!’ and ‘He’s so strong’ and ‘I just want him to fuck me’,” he teased, voice raising in pitch, imitating Mesut’s voice.
He’d have been mad but he was so happy, laughing so hard he almost fell off his chair, “I do not sound like that!” was the only thing he’d managed to protest as he gasped for air.
Sami had raised his eyebrows, paused, “Pretty boy, that’s what you think,” and had ducked into the bathroom before Mesut could find anything to throw at him.
Now he can hear the few whispers spreading through the locker room, but he just shrugs it off and someone throws a stray football at his head.
“Did someone get lucky last night?” he hears someone, he thinks Marcello, call from behind him and the grin he has on his face just gets larger, but he’s facing his locker and no one sees it.
He doesn’t know what to say, exactly, but goes with saying nothing and he can feel Sami getting ready to say something but then he hears a painfully familiar voice, with an unfamiliar bit of iron strung in it, rumble, “Our pretty boy was the luckiest of anyone last night, from what I hear,” and it’s followed by catcalls and slaps on his back and all of a sudden he’s more confused than he’s ever been before.
He looks up and can’t keep the questioning look off his face. His eyes collide with Cris’s, who just winks, though his eyes are cloudy, not dancing, not like he’s gotten used to. Taking a quick inventory of the room, he sees Kaká on the opposite site, grey clouds hanging over his head and he darts his eyes back to Cris, who’s smile’s completely faded now, eyes focused on his locker door before he slams it shut, makes his way out, ruffling his hair as he goes by.
There’s a wink and it should make him feel warm but instead he feels like he should throw up and Sami grabs his shoulders, “Shake it off, Mesut, shake it off. You’re better than that. Go out on that field and show him,” and he’s glad someone’s got his back.
He can’t remember the last time he’s been this sore after a practice. He aches in places he didn’t know he had (and that’s after aching in places he didn’t know he had for years), even his eyelids are sore and he’s dripping, but he’s happy. Or as close as he figures he’ll get at this point.
He barely feels the claps on his back and the ruffles of his hair as his teammates make their way by. Cris walks by him completely and Kaká, who’s been heartbreakingly nice (because he’s Kaká) only smiles weakly and nods as he makes his way along and Mesut can read the flecks of pain in his eyes as well.
Sami’s ridiculously large smile takes up the view in front of him, all flashing teeth and twinkling eyes and the whispered, “God, you showed him,” makes him chuckle tiredly and he lets himself be guided back to the locker room, Sami’s arm locked around the back of his neck.
He’s thisclose to sleep when his phone vibrates and he ignores it, but the insistent vibrating makes him flail around for his phone, flips it open, “M’ello?” and is greeted with silent breathing on the other end before, “I’m outside. Come out?” and he doesn’t know how to say no, even when he’s bone deep tired, so he does. “Two minutes,” he mumbles, lays in bed for one before grabbing the sweats he came home in and an old faded tee shirt from a chair, his jacket from the closet as he slips on an old pair of shoes.
He gets in the car and nothing’s said, Cris just drives off. The car’s silent and he’s too tired to ask where they’re going, too worried to slump up against the window and drift off to sleep, so he just hunches down in his seat, stares out the window as they drive, directionless.
Or so he thinks, but by now he shouldn’t be surprised when it turns out that Cris has a plan, of some sort, at least, and should be even less surprised that they end up at an old football pitch. Cris just shifts the car into park and they sit there. He doesn’t know what to say, so doesn’t say anything and it’s silent. He watches the minutes slip by on the clock and soon it’s been half an hour and nothing’s been said, they’re just staring out the window.
He’s about to say something, because now he’s wide awake and painfully tired, his senses going into overdrive, opens his mouth, but Cris beats him to it, staring out the window unseeingly and sends his heart pummeling in the direction of his stomach, “He doesn’t love me.”