COMING AROUND AGAIN (1)
Fandom: German National team
Pairing: Klinsmann/Loew, various
Disclaimer: I still don't know people mentioned in this story and I still hope it isn't true. The plot is still only my fantasy.
Author's notes, previous chapters and music here
Timeline for the series is here
Coming Around Again (1)
Just to think that all of this has started with just one bad dream.
He knows that what is happening to him lately has a name - 'nervous breakdown'. With the pressures of living in a 'hostile environment' (as Klaus put it), being a coach of Germany's leading club and as such being scrutinized by the press, fans an officials alike he was expecting just that sooner or later - though he'd prefer it to be as late as possible.
Apparently he's getting old and fragile since three months does it for him now. With some sort of masochistic pleasure he reflects that right upon accepting the job he's though of hiring a psychologist all for himself, some well-qualified shrink to explain him every time what's going on in his own mind. He'd definitely do with it now.
He's had one really bad dream, the sort where you are hurt and depressed and wake up feeling similarly hurt and depressed - and it drags on till you forget that you've dreamed yourself your own problems. Just one dream and no reason for feeling the way he feels now.
So in the dream he's had he was awfully unhappy because of one wrong choice he's made in his life. Wrong choice, he agrees even now, but all the same, the decision was made, lamented, deemed necessary by both him and Gary, and they both were supposed to move on. Maybe it was too optimistic to think that they will manage, but apart from rare lapses they've done pretty well.
And then he's had a dream, and since then nothing is the same.
No, he doesn't want to come back and choose once more - he'd still leave
But everything else just seems so pointless. There is his family, there is his work, and only one thing makes him wonder - why there are so many relationships that surround him.
And he doesn't want it. He doesn't want to be involved with those who don't matter. Debbie matters. So does
On the spur of a moment he's told Lothar to never call him anymore, and only then he's realized how right he was to do so. Freeing himself, letting loose of the part of his past, setting Lothar free from their common past as well - and he feels himself better for it, lighter, as if some burden is released. One of the strands tying him to the ground is cut, and he's a bit more ready to fly free.
Lothar doesn't stop calling though. In fact, these weeks he's called more often then in last six years. Which is strange, but he can't summon enough interest to care - so he just puts it out of mind and doesn't answer the phone.
Joachim's obvious happiness, possessive streaks and declarations of love get similar reaction - as if he's unable to do any more. Polite interest, faint trace of joy for seeing Joachim in great mood, pleasure for being able to do that to a lover, and then nothing. It doesn’t touch him really, but then again, nothing does. Joachim is happy – well, good for him. But maybe he himself would be better off without Joachim and his happiness.
This thought, when it appeared for the first time, scared the wits out of him. Leaving Joachim? Breaking the relationship and going on without the man – because he realizes that ‘let’s still be friends’ won’t apply in their case? No, he couldn’t possibly do this, he couldn’t… Joachim is too dear to him, too important to lose, to live without. He can’t break whatever it is that is going on between them, because it’s too large a part of his life, of himself.
But then, why not? Whispers something inside his mind. And he tried to imagine life without constantly having Joachim at his side – God, it was tough… More then four years together, friendship, trust, love, he’s so used to this so at first the possibility of losing Joachim is too foreign a concept to imagine.
Then the novelty wears off, and the fear with it. Suddenly it becomes not so huge, just a trivial matter – one more relationship to dissolve into the stream of time, contact vanishing from a phone book, memories crippling round the edges… It could definitely happen. He’s tried to imagine life without Joachim and it was… No, not better. But – lighter. Easier in a way. Without hiding, without fear of being discovered, without lying to the family and piling excuse upon excuse to find time to meet… And without unexplained jealousy and scenes and without feeling himself a traitor every time he’s looking into
And then he’s scared himself for the second time – when he suddenly thought that he may do this.
He’s afraid to think about it further – so far. But maybe he will in time, and he’s having a suspicion that he already knows what his decision will be.
“Daydreaming or stargazing?” The familiar voice cuts into his thoughts unexpectedly, startling him.
“There are no stars yet”, he retorts before lifting his head, and only then the identity of the other man registers fully and he manages a weak smile. “Hi Lothar”.
Matthäus nods and puts his sunglasses he was holding in the pocket. “Daydreaming it is then”.
“Who said I was…”
“You’ve almost collided with me and I had to step back, you didn’t even notice, now I know you’re not holding me in particularly high regard, but unless you think me an empty place I take your clumsiness as an indication that your thoughts are somewhere else”.
“I’m not…” He thinks better of replying to the remark about empty place, instead just shakes his head and looks at Lothar again. “You’re supposed to be in
“And I was”. Lothar falls in stride with him, walking along the empty street. “Time difference works in my favor”.
“Something important here?”
“Sort of”. They continue walking in silence. The other’s presence is comfortingly unobtrusive, so he easily slips back into his thoughts, losing himself again in a problem that’s not really a problem, come to think of it…
Soft voice drags him back to reality.
“So what’s happened with your phone? Lost or broken?”
He stops. Blinks, trying to get his mind to work again. Frowns.
“You’re not answering to the calls.”
“Yes, I don’t”.
“What’s the matter?”
“I’ve decided so. Why?” He snaps.
Lothar folds his arms across his chest. “Because”. Small pause, two or three seconds. “If you suddenly stop talking to me it concerns me, don’t you think?”
It’s the best joke he’s heard in a while – not because of the words themselves but because of who said them. It’s something that he’d expect to hear from Guido. But Matthäus? Complaining that he… That he stopped talking to him. ‘Suddenly’.
He laughs and doesn’t even try to stop himself. Even though it is extremely impolite and borderline rude to laugh someone in the face, Lothar is getting what he’s set himself up to. Lothar obviously realizes it too – he’s almost uncomfortable for a moment, maybe regretting that he’s taken the glasses off, but strangely Lothar doesn’t say anything.
“No”, he says when the laughter at last has subsided. “What is strange in me not talking to you?”
“Now I have to explain myself to you?”
“Maybe you can try – for a change”.
“And what will be the reason?” He’d have tried to keep his voice low if there were people around, but the street is still relatively empty so he doesn’t bother.
And Lothar just watches him.
“What has scared you so?” The question is asked in such a gentle tone that he is left to wonder how many times today Lothar is going to stun him with something he says or does.
At a loss for words, he doesn’t know how to answer. Scared – yes, he is, but how does he explain to Matthäus of all people about the dream and two people that he loves, and how frightening it is – to love and to be loved.
“It’s not your business”, simple statement sums everything up.
“It isn’t”, agrees Lothar, ever so softly.
They walk a bit more. He struggles to say something. Some retort or well-veiled insult should be appropriate. But the silence is so much better than talking.
“You’ve said you’ve had a nightmare”, Lothar keeps his voice neutral. “Then you’ve told me not to call you, since that day I’m struggling to find some sort of logic here”.
“There is none, don’t bother”. The logic was there, but explaining it to someone will take too much effort, and he’s never even tried to understand it himself. And Lothar is the last one who should speak about logic, especially after his appearance here today.
Then Lothar touches his hand.
“It was strange to hear you so distressed, and you know, it’s not a problem if you don’t want to talk to me, but how you’ve said that – I had to wonder if everything is alright with you”. When he looks in Lothar’s eyes, they’re deep and their darkness is soft. It is vaguely comforting – the feeling of the other’s hand on his sleeve, dark eyes in front of him, and something about the fact that Lothar – of all people – seems to care. “I just…”
The tires squeak, the car stops a couple of meters ahead of them, and Joachim – unexpectedly – emerges.
Joachim. Dark hair, black overcoat, he looks like a raven. There’s an angry air about him, something in his stride that betrays a barely contented annoyance.
He’s startled and maybe because of it the shudder runs through him.
And Lothar squeezes his hand. And holds it.
Not trying to shake it off, he makes a step forward, closer to Joachim. But Löw already isn’t looking at him.
It’s between the other two now. They glare at each other, and he, caught between them, feels himself suddenly become transparent, so intense are the looks two men share.
Then Lothar releases his hand and smiles at Joachim. It’s not a pleasant smile.
“Talk to you later”, it’s loud enough for Joachim to hear, and judging by expression he’s heard it alright. Lothar’s smile turns almost gleeful. Then he turns and walks away.
He looks at his lover, and the angry stare is now directed at him.
In two strides Joachim comes up to him, grabs him by the shoulder and kisses full on the lips. It’s short and angry, but it’s there, on the street for everyone with eyes to see. And he’s not sure at the moment if it concerns Joachim at all.
“I was looking for you”, the words are clipped.
He sighs and thinks ‘here we go again’. He so doesn’t want to fight…
“I’m sorry, Joachim”.