I'm back. It certainly feels like returning, though I'm not exactly sure what I can say that wasn't said already and where it all goes. It just feels good to write another part of this story after a year's absence.
ALL IN LOVE IS FAIR
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
ALL IN LOVE IS FAIR
And all is fair in love and war. Except when one turns into other.
“You’re telling me you are tired of us?”
“No. Not this, never this. It’s just that all that…”
“’Affair’ you were going to say?”
Jürgen is unfazed by attempts at sarcasm – too hard, too unbending to be thrown off of what he was going to say even by the harshest of words. Even if he has enough grace to pale, to look almost ashamed –
“… affair, if you like, though I am calling this a relationship. It’s taking its toll – on you, on me, on us. On everyone involved.”
Jürgen’s face is drawn, tired, and he loves seeing him like this. Not the sunlit Californian smile, not the poster-happy grin, that may or may not be real – but Jürgen, real Jürgen, his Jürgen, dizzy with jet-lag, pale under his tan, with small tired lines under his eyes, beautiful in his imperfection and with cracks in his armor he doesn’t bother to hide. He loves this Jürgen to the point where it hurts and beyond, cherishes and treasures this. Moments of vulnerability – just because they know each other too well and there’s no use pretending to be better, to feel better than you are. Those years ago he fell in love with the image, with beauty, brightest smile on Earth and unwavering strength of a leader. He loves – really, truly, deeply – loves the man behind the image, and every time he sees Jürgen as he is, he loves him more. And it is so good, so right – it hurts. To the point where it’s hard to fight the all-encompassing urge to hurt back.
“So now you’re going to tell me you gonna call it quits just because you are too tired after a flight?”
“It’s not fair, Joachim”.
He laughs. What is fair?
“So tell me, are you often calling your past lovers by the name in your sleep?”
Jürgen just looks at him. Harsh, hard, contemplating and calculating. And doesn’t answer – and doesn’t ask.
And he in return doesn’t say more. Because he loves, and because he doesn’t need to remind himself of this only accident five years ago that he never forgets anyway. And because Jürgen will never ask and he will never elaborate any farther. He’s a coward and he doesn’t want to know, and he’s old enough to be able to accept it.
What is fair?
“Look at us”, Jürgen almost smiles – small, tired attempt at joviality, abandoned with a shake of his head. “Just look at us right now”.
And Jürgen is, as always lately, infuriatingly right.
“What isn’t fair? You say it isn’t fair that I love you?”
“I love you too, Joachim. You know that, right?”
“Then what are you calling ‘not fair’?”
“You didn’t answer”.
Jürgen kisses him then.
Tired, yes. The affair – the relationship – is taking its toll on everyone, on them both, yes. No other words to describe what they are now but tired. Tiredness in the touch of Jürgen’s lips, not a full kiss even, just a touch, a bit of warmth, a reassurance because it’s easier than fumbling for clumsy words and in the end is exactly the same. They are way past the point when bed is used as a palliative to all problems, instead of sorting them out. They’ve tried it and failed and it almost broke them, but ‘almost’ doesn’t count. They know better now, and this kiss is just a kiss, not an attempt to blackmail him into silence.
Not that he has anything more to say. Just ‘don’t leave’, but that would be stupid, because Jürgen doesn’t suggest anything of the sort. But when love was fair?
“Don’t leave me”, he says, and watches his beloved’s face contort momentarily and pale even more, and hears the uncharacteristically hushed “I’m not”.
That’s not fair, he knows. Worse in a way than kissing to shut up, but some things are better off not discussed. Like the one Jürgen tried to bring up and won’t try to do so again. It’s not easy to build up a courage for this for a second time, once is more than enough.
And if he’s not mistaken Jürgen looks almost relieved too.
What is fair in love?
The night is quiet.
The night is dark and unrestful. Though he is the one who should be feeling the jetlag, it’s Joachim who fell asleep first. Went out like a light, actually. Quiet, unmoving, breathing softly, like he always sleeps. And save for his even, measured breathing, everything around is quiet. Quiet.
I love you, Joachim, but what the hell are we doing to each other?
It may well be that he is simply getting old. Jürgen the hero, Jürgen the savior, Jürgen the symbol of hope for the whole football country, Jürgen the captain and poster boy, fitting into these roles like they were made for him – maybe it’s just getting harder as the time passes.
It’s getting harder to win arguments worth winning, not that he is trying. Not as he ever did try. And not as Joachim did, either. Having an argument without getting to a point of arguing is an art, and one they both are too good at. The only saving grace is that they understand each other at least enough to get a point anyway, without a shouting match. But that’s as easy as practicing telepathy with no talent for it whatsoever – in other words, that’s awfully hard.
I love you, Joachim, but what a mess we’ve made of it.
Guido would say that 50 years old is not 100 years old and they’ll argue till they can’t stop laughing and then they’ll drink. Ad Gary… Gary.
And lying in bed with Joachim soundly asleep so close to him and thinking about Gary – that’s just all sorts of wrong. So he shakes off these thoughts – all of them. And thinks of a small party at Joachim’s that was such a lighthearted affair. Markus winking at him across the table, Flick’s unobtrusive and calming presence, Daniela in the kitchen, apron over her fuchsia dress. How they played poker and of course, as always, Joachim won. And how they celebrated it for all of three minutes before it was football all over again.
Daniela embraced him and kissed on the cheek when they all said their goodbyes. He noticed then the silver trinket she wore around her neck – same as Joachim’s. He noticed that her eyes were not smiling. And he couldn’t find it in himself to care, because it was not his wife, not his choices and not his concerns.
And – not only he couldn’t find it in himself to care, he still can’t now, though he knows he should.
Or maybe he doesn’t even know it anymore. Maybe he really is too old for taking upon himself another’s guilty conscience. But even so – he still can’t help feeling uneasy about it, no matter what. And that’s just another consequence of having a secret affair. Small price, for sure, but having a bout of insomnia and turning everything over and over again in his head hours after having another argument and almost splitting up – well, it all seems like a big deal right now.
The worst thing is that it’s nobody’s fault and there is no one to blame. Maybe, the two of them for not being brave enough to talk over every little thing that is hanging between them. But does it really matter?
I love you, Joachim, but that’s not fair.
The morning is sunny and cold.
And he doesn’t know what’s going on with him.
Lothar knows, whispers an annoyingly quiet voice in the back of his mind. Lothar always seems to know, like he understands him better than he himself. One more thing that is somehow not fair.
And as if on cue, the phone starts to ring.
He imagines Joachim, even when Lothar’s unmistakable intonations leave no room for imagination. How Joachim is leaning out of the window, elbows on the windowpane risking the dirt getting on his immaculate shirt, cigarette between his fingers and glass of wine abandoned on the table. Joachim, deep in thought, caught alone in a very short moment just before he’ll be swept away by the noisy splendor of another function he was forced to attend – even though Joachim loves it and revels in being on public. Still, there was this moment of perfect stillness, thoughtful and quiet, the moment he himself broke, entering the room, calling Joachim by the name, stopping himself short from touching and making everything look inappropriate and awkward if someone else crushes upon them. Seeing Joachim check himself at the same time, seeing his smile – that was the pure joy.
And he has to snap himself out of this sudden memory because of silence on the other end of the line. Whatever Lothar was saying – he never caught a word of it, and apologizing would be even more awkward than admitting his moment of daydreaming.
They end up having a long conversation about nothing at all. Not even catching up on each other’s news, because why would they? Still, the words flow back and forth, still Lothar is making no pauses in his monologues, and still he can’t find a reason to hang up. And sure he has to ask Lothar if he thinks that life is fair, and sure Lothar answers that no, he doesn’t, and fair is not the word to be used. Not surprising, if one knows the story of Lothar’s private life – and, after all, everyone does.
Still, they keep talking about the same nonsense. Why?
He doesn’t care to think about it.
The afternoon is warm. The afternoon smells of spring and fresh wind. And Joachim is smiling – laughing, and Joachim is telling him off and laughing again – he smiles in return, even if some words sting. The main thing is that Joachim smiles, saying things like “Why would you be talking to Matthäus?” and “How is he calling you like that?”
He says it like he has a right to judge – and maybe he does.
That’s the everyday life as it is.
“Have you ever been in love?” asks Loris.
“For my whole life” – and it makes his son laugh. Loris is old enough to disregard the image of Lothar Matthäus that press creates as not exactly related to reality, and at his age the question is perfectly normal. So he gives an answer and just hopes – wishes – that love will be kinder to his son than it was to him.
But he knows very well that sometimes love is just not fair.
“How did you fall in love?” Jonathan looks at him with eyes blue and clear, so like his own. One of a lot of expected questions. The boy wants to know how it happens – love and marriage, not sex, of this children of his age know sometimes better than their parents.
“It was one rainy day in London” – and he tells Jonathan about falling in love with Debbie, and he doesn’t tell him about Gary, and hopes that Jonathan will not follow his steps and create himself so much complications in his private life.
If only love was fair.
“Have you ever loved, Hansi?”
“Are you trying to hurt me, now?” Question for question, Hansi feigns being offended – or maybe he is. His smile to looks fake – or maybe sincere, he still can’t tell. Almost four years, and he can’t read the man – not that he ever tried. There is no need to.
“I love you, Markus” says Hansi and kisses him.
And he kisses back, losing himself in the sensation.
A couple of weeks ago he ventured to read up on Stockholm syndrome and found some descriptions very fitting. He is not sure if he despises Hansi or loves him. It sure feels like love-hate melted together.
He doesn’t want to be happy with Hansi. But he does. Oh, he does.
It's a shame that love is never fair.