Pairing: Matthaeus/Klinsmann, Klinsmann/Voeller
Time: WC 1990
Disclaimer: Not true
Summary: morning after Germany-Netherlands match
He is sitting here for more than half an hour already, looking at his plate. Its contents seem tasteless. There’s no desire to eat at all. The mere thought about standing up and going somewhere brings nothing but a headache. The coffee is cold already. From time to time he tries to pretend that he is listening to Andy who is rambling about something. He doesn’t even try to understand about what.
Most of the players have finished with their breakfast already, and went out to enjoy these four hours of free time that Franz so unexpectedly gave them. There are not many people in restaurant besides him and Andy. Some people are sitting in the corner of the room, laughing from time to time. The sound annoys him.
Goalkeepers, as always, are sitting in the opposite corners of the room, pretending that they don’t notice each other. The coaches have left already too.
In his head there is a mix of thoughts, images and phrases. He knows that in order to sort through it all he has to concentrate. To concentrate means to think. To think means to concentrate… Every loud sound brings almost physical pain.
Laughter is heard from outside. Klinsmann and Völler. The last to enter the restaurant. They greet everyone, still laughing, take a table near the window. In the bright morning sunlight Jürgen’s hair looks almost like a halo around his head. This brightness hurts the eyes.
Köpke and Illgner leave, almost colliding at the door and then going their separate ways. Instead of eating Jürgen is drawing something in the air with his fork. Rudi looks like a cat who ate too much cream.
Someone from the corner of the room starts singing “Caravan”. Rudi and Jürgen look at each other, and the next moment they are laughing, unable to stop.
Through the syrup his thoughts turned into he hears Andy’s voice.
- That’s our Jürgen! How he managed to bring Rudi to his senses! I thought he’ll be fuming for three more days at least.
These words make him remember. Not an image – a feeling. The moment when to draw enough breath seemed to be an impossible task. Laughter from outside the door and silence. The pain.
- Some people don’t think their own stupidity is a reason enough to be upset.
He knows that his voice is too loud. Doesn’t matter. He has a right to say it, he’s the captain of the team. He should have said it all yesterday.
He sees how Völler tenses, how he grips the tabletop, ready to stand up. And then – like in a slow-motion, only for him – he sees how Jürgen lays his hand on Rudi’s arm. Sees every little detail of this gesture – a touch, long fingers barely caressing the skin, then squeezing lightly. Sees how Rudi relaxes again, stays sitting. From the flood of memory the image emerges, unwrapping before his eyes – these fingers, tangled in a curly hair…
- After all, to let the team down because of your own foolishness is not a crime, isn’t it?
It seems that he sees the whole scene from outside. He himself – sitting straight, looking squarely at Rudi. Andy on the opposite side of the table – looking at him with almost shocked expression. Jürgen – still holding Rudi’s hand. Rudi – pale with anger, hands balled in fists. Four in the corner – frozen, as if afraid to move. And between all of them like a web of tension, and everything can explode in every second.
Everybody turn their heads in the direction of the entrance. Berti Vogts is standing at the doorway not noticing that anything is amiss. Maybe it’s for the better.
- Rudi, Andreas, to the press conference. Jürgen, you too in half an hour.
Calm voice seems to break this strange web. Young players leave the hall quickly, almost running. Andy stands up, Rudi is still not moving.
Berti turns around and leaves. Jürgen looks at Rudi and gives a short nod in the direction of the door.
He doesn’t even try to check himself.
- What are you waiting for, hero?
It looks like Rudi is going to answer, but Jürgen shakes his head slightly, and it’s enough – enough! – to make Rudi keep his mouth shut.
- Try now to justify your actions before journalists.
- Aren’t you tired of listening to yourself, Lothar?
The name sounds like an insult. Jürgen speaks very quietly, but he still hears every word. Every sound.
Andy grabs Rudi’s hand and drags him outside. The door closes with a soft thud, but it is enough to make his head ache again.
- As long as I’m the captain here, I will say everything I want. And you, - accent on “you”, - will listen.
- Are you sure?
They rise simultaneously. Jürgen grips the back of his chair. He is standing with his back straight, arms crossed.
- Have you both gone mad? – Guido Buchwald steps between them. – Franz will throw you both out of the team for scandal without asking the names!
- Leave. – Growls he through clenched teeth.
- Leave, Guido. – Jürgen’s voice is calm. – There’ll be no fight, don’t worry. We just have to clear one little misunderstanding. Right, Lothar?
Guido looks at one, then at the other, then seemingly makes a decision and leaves too. They are alone in the hall now.
- Not enough scandals, Lothar? – Jürgen is still standing, leaning slightly forward, hands on the back of the chair.
- You’re saying that my words were untrue?
- Why the hell do you meddle with Rudi?
- You’re saying I don’t have a right?
Jürgen moves the chair away. All his movements are too accurate, too slow – as if it takes him a lot to control himself.
- Think before you speak, Lothar.
He understands suddenly why the sound of his own name hurts so much. This long “a” is missing, Jürgen makes accent on consonants, now it’s close to usual “Lodda”. Suddenly it becomes hard to breath again.
- Tell your friend, - he says the word mockingly, - to think before he does something.
- Don’t you ever think about touching him again, Lothar.
- Even so?
- It’s not you who has to calm him down afterwards.
- Then maybe you’ll tell me how you do it?
Jürgen smiles – only with his lips.
- Everyone has his own methods, Lothar.
His memory supplies him with another image – two men near the window, a kiss… Imagination allows to recreate the rest – the bed, embrace, soft laughter, tender caresses. He takes a step forward, and Jürgen mirrors his movement, like in some strange dance. Now they are standing almost face to face, and the height difference is too visible – he has to look up to see Jürgen’s face. Doesn’t’ matter.
- Sleeping with your best friend, aren’t you?
- What do you care with whom I sleep, Lothar?
That’s it. There’s nothing to answer. Just like Jürgen – to throw some remark after which only two options are possible – to end the conversation or to look like a fool.
- I don’t care.
- Then what’s the matter?
- Isn’t Völler’s escapade yesterday enough?
- Live him be, Lothar.
Jürgen bends down to him, so close that their lips are almost touching.
- Live. Him. Be.
Straightens up and leaves the room, his footsteps quick and sure. He is left alone, standing in the sunlight-filled hall.