WE BREAK OUR OWN HEARTS (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
Summary: we break our own hearts, we are to blame, we see the things we want to...
Author's notes, previous chapters and music here
Timeline for the series is here
We Break Our Own Hearts (1)
Bastian is lying on the grass, looking in the darkened sky. He would have passed for a camper taking his rest on the lush green carpet, enjoying the summer night. Would have… If not for the tightly squeezed lips. His chin is pointed upwards, and despite the warmth he looks frozen…
Frozen. Cliché word to describe the feelings of someone who has just lost something. Gave away. Was unable to do more. Unable to do better, unable even to do enough. Cliché words are helpful most of the times, because searching for phrases when emptiness is creeping in and no wishes remain is too tiresome a task.
He bends down. Schweini. He has to find the words. He’s the coach, he’s supposed to know the words that will console the players. If they need consolation. If they need some meaningless praise to be said. Traditions, that’s what it is. Another tradition, ceremony that surrounds the final of every big tournament. Winners should receive gold medals, Cup and a rain of confetti, the coach of losing team should walk around the pitch, embracing every one of his players and telling them something… Something…
He can’t think of what to say to Bastian. “You were…”, and words are stuck in his throat. You were great? Not great enough. You were strong? Spanish players were stronger. He tries to think of something that wouldn’t sound so false. Tries for a moment, and in the end doesn’t say anything more. Pats Bastian and leaves him be. Leaves him alone, to think and sort everything out and maybe find some peace with what happened today. Bastian doesn’t need him to be able to do it.
He embraces Lukas. For a moment the warmth of other man’s body is all he feels, and next instant it’s cold again. Frozen. Cliché word that is no less true because of it.
Daniela’s fingers are running slowly through his hair. She is touching him so gently, as if afraid to hurt him – or maybe just trying to soothe. Maybe trying to make him react. He feels it himself – how tight his muscles are, it seems that he’ll be unable to move even if he needs to, as if his body is turning into stone or maybe has turned already, and that’s why he almost doesn’t feel her touch. And he wants to feel. How annoying it is – light caress that doesn’t even make the skin warm, and it’s repeating, repeating…
“Hush, love”, the helplessness in her voice stuns him, but it’s too distant to really alarm, to make him reply. She kisses his shoulder, her lips move along his collar-bone, she presses her body closer to his. Under the blanket, so close together, and his fingers caress his hair again, still so gently. She treats him like an ill child, comes the thought, unbidden. Like an ill child. Not the man who’s one of the most recognized people in the country. Who’s lead his team to the final, who’s lost this final, but could have, could have won. Could have won! Should have.
He tries to wind himself up. To pick up annoyance, anger, even if the reason for it will be the gentleness of his own wife’s touches.
He can’t. Not that he’s not annoyed, he just can’t be bothered right now. No matter what happens. Daniela kisses him on the cheek, then again, expecting some reaction from him… He would have gladly reacted, it’s deciding that it’s worth doing that is the problem.
“Sorry, love”, he mutters in half-voice and turns his back at her, facing the window. He would have buried his face in the pillow, but then she would be asking what’s wrong with him. He doesn’t mind her asking, but it means he’ll be supposed to answer something. He minds answering. He just prefers to lie still.
“I understand”, she whispers soothingly. Whatever she means by it, let her. Let her caress his hair, touching so lightly that he barely feels it. Let her do whatever she wants, just not make him move.
The sky behind the window is grey already. Morning. It’s morning. Morning, and they’ve just gone to bed. There’s no need to wake up early tomorrow… Today. Some hours of sleep are left. He tries to close his eyes. He can’t.
Grey mist behind the window, there’ll be sunset in maybe half an hour. Maybe it will be beautiful, maybe the walls of nearby buildings will hide everything from sight. Maybe he’ll fall asleep until then. Maybe he doesn’t want to sleep.
He breathes evenly. No, he doesn’t pretend anything. Daniela wouldn’t believe anyway. Daniela is touching his hair, playing with strands. He breathes evenly and counts seconds. His watch is ticking, in the silence the sound is loud enough to concentrate on it. Counting seconds is sometimes a good way to pass time. If you’re not waiting for something. If another second is just this – second.
There’s no need to hurry now. And won’t be for some time. Probably it’s a good feeling. Probably he’ll enjoy it. As he always does.
Purple light starts sipping through grey clouds, coloring the sky. Daniela is moving her hand over his hair. He is lying still, counting seconds lazily.
Everything looks brighter in the morning. Everyone looks brighter, more relaxed. The weather itself is great – or it just looks like this from high above. The plane is landing in Berlin. Second time they will celebrate their fans in Berlin. Before that every celebration took place in Frankfurt… But then, before that only victories were celebrated. Maybe the next cup will be again brought to Frankfurt.
Laughter from last rows reaches even here, and the music in Olli’s earphones is so loud he can even make out some odd word. Isn’t it too loud really?
Apparently, Hansi thinks so too, because the smile that he sends to Olli is definitely mischievous. Olli doesn’t pay attention, rocking to the rhythm, relaxed expression on his face telling everyone that that’s the man who has no care in the world.
“What’s that?” Hansi suddenly points towards the far end of the landing pad. Two red-orange spots slowly turn into firemen vehicles that are waiting for the plane. “Is there something wrong?”
He shrugs. “Hopefully not, will be so inconvenient”, he laughs looking at Hansi’s bewildered face, because even if something is really wrong – the sight of distressed Hansi, looking around with something resembling panic – it’s a preciously funny picture.
Two fountains of water shoot high into the sky, washing over the plane. There are noises of surprise, someone laughs, then the ovation begins. They join it too, while the plane is rolling slowly past the water arch – surprising, but beautiful welcome.
He looks at Hansi once more – his assistant, his friend, is smiling.
“Got me scared for a moment here”, Hansi answers his unasked question. “But now that we’re not going to crush…” His voice becomes lower and more serious. “You should know that there was a small… problem… yesterday, between Olli and Michael”.
“Problem?” He repeats. Now that’s the way to describe the situation – ‘problem’ can mean anything, from full-blown fight to mild swearing. It’s not the first, otherwise he would have known already. Comforting thought.
“Not exactly a problem even… Olli suggested they make a farewell round, Micha… You understand, he was too stressed out yesterday, Olli understands it too…”
“Wait, you’re going to tell me that they were punching each other in the middle of the field?” Hansi’s attempt at explaining brings him into the light mood, so funny it sounds. And this is Hansi, who is always so easy with words.
“Ah, if everything was so simple”, says Flick solemnly and suddenly winks. He can’t help it, he hides his face in his hand and shakes with laughter. When he lifts his head again, Olli is looking at him like he’s suddenly gone mad.
“No, didn’t come to that”, continues Hansi, seriously now. “Kevin stepped in, I had too, and Micha calmed down at the end. They’ve shook hands later, everything is forgotten and forgiven”, at this Hansi himself can’t hide a smile. “But knowing our press, someone surely noticed – photographed – filmed – or whatever they are doing now, so it’s probably going to end up on the web or in press, someone may ask you, so I’ve warned you, you won’t be surprised and will find something clever to say, end of story, right?”
He nods gratefully. Hansi is someone he can always rely on.
They stand up. Time to leave the plane. Stewardess smiles at him and gives him a bouquet of bright-colored flowers. Andy has already got his and is now inspecting it with interest, and Olli is tormenting some poor chamomile-like flower with the eternal question – ‘loves or not’.
Hansi touches his elbow, making him lean closer. “You ok?”
“Yes”, he nods. The night was hard, but now in the light of the day everything is half as bad.
“If you need some sort of cover, you know… I can always tell that you…”
“Thank you”, he shakes his head with a smile. “But no need, I have this night free. Time to be alone and get myself together. Daniela suggested it herself”.
Hansi laughs, slaps him lightly on his lower back and squeezes past him just as another round of jokes about coaches and their ways of touching is about to start. He is left alone at the face of young men trying to show off their wit.
He’s always enjoying such matches.
There are hundreds – thousands of them. People, screaming in near-ecstasy. Flags, banners, hundreds of black-red-gold flags, and white, white everywhere. Their award for a great tournament and great performance, well-deserved award.
Could be better – whispers this annoying inner voice that has a habit of appearing out of nowhere at the most inopportune of times. He tells it to shut up and looks into the crowd again. His first step onto the podium, and the noise explodes anew. Exhilarating feeling, making the head spin with excitement. He raises hands above the head, clapping – and receiving a great cheer in reply.
But then they were third, and now they’ve lost only in the final – and fans are meeting them like winners. With the corner of his eyes he sees Andy, clapping and dancing to another tune with the rest of the team.
Beer and triumph have gone to his head a bit, and he loves the feeling. He really loves it.
He pays to the taxi driver, buys himself a pack of cigarettes in the airport’s shop. Tears off the cellophane, opens the pack. His lighter is empty.
He throws the wrapper away in disgust. There are people in the hall, waiting for their department. He sits down on the chair at the end of the row. Cigarette is still in his fingers. He’s looking at it absently, as if deciding what to do. Logical decision is to go and buy a lighter, but the body doesn’t want to move. He looks at the object in his hand once more. Cigarette is a short stick with light on the one end and self-murderer on the other. He laughs.
“Jogi”. Familiar voice makes him jump up. He turns around and reaches out to shake the other man’s hand.
Frank squeezes his hand hard. “Escaping the fame, are you?” There’s something in the tone that makes him uneasy.
“Glad to see you, Frank”, he answers honestly, trying to shake off the odd feeling.
“You are. Our new hero”. Frank smiles, patting him on the shoulder. “It pays to be a loser at this level, isn’t it, Jogi?”
It’s like a crack of a whip, it’s unexpected, he doesn’t even understand at first what the other means, looking at this mocking smile on his friend’s face.
“Frank, what are you…”
“You astonish me, Jogi, you always have”, the other makes a gesture that could mean anything – from real astonishment to disgust. “Getting the universal praise for losing where others get thrown out. But the main thing that I could never understand…”, Frank’s face almost in front of his own, “ The one thing that I’ll probably never understand is that you are so happy to be second”.
One, two, three heartbeats they look each other in the eyes, standing maybe two inches apart. Frank chuckles then and turns away.
“So happy, so eager to get your ‘second best’ prize that you push everyone away with your elbows to get this silver medal you crave so much. You’re such a strange man, Jogi”.
It’s unreal. He would have wanted to punch the man right between the eyes if it was happening in reality – the man he called his friend, whose support he’s always thought he can rely on, suddenly lashing out at him. It’s the sense of ‘it’s not happening’ that prevents him from doing something – this man has mistaken him for someone else, he’s mistaken this man for Frank…
“You’re jealous”, he hears his own voice as from afar, and at the same time as these words are said he is sure that it is the reason. Jealous.
“Jealous?” Frank’s laughter makes people turn their heads at them. Old man in white suit and with cane in hands studies them curiously, as if judging should he call the police right now or it may wait till they start to fight.
“Oh, you’re absolutely right – I will never have the joy of being heralded as a hero for losing the tournament, nor will I be praised for playing one scrappy game after the other. And why is it?” Frank raises his hands mockingly, and abruptly his laughter stops. “All because I will never say that my goal is to be in the final. It’s you – eternal second best. I’ll never accept such a thing. But – all the power to you. Losers rule this world nowadays, after all”.
Frank wraps him into the tight hug before he’s able to react, and holds him. They should be a perfect picture of two old friends seeing each other after a long time, and maybe the same old man who was contemplating turning them over to the police minutes earlier is now smiling happily and sweeping a tear from the corner of his eye. The ultimate sentimental scene of all sentimental scenes.
“My congratulations, Jogi”, Frank releases him, again without warning, at the accompaniment of announcer’s voice and chimes from the sound system. “My flight”, broad grin never leaves older man’s face as he waves at him. “See you later, my friend”.
He starts after him as soon as shock – bewilderment – leaves him, but it takes some seconds, and Frank has already disappeared, mixed with the crowds at the terminal. No sight of him. No explanation. No chance to hit him with such force that the knuckles would bleed, and then demand this explanation. He’s standing alone in the half-empty waiting hall at the Berlin airport.
And cigarette is still in his fingers. Broken in two halves. He was squeezing it so hard that he didn’t even notice how or when he’s managed to crush it. Or maybe Frank did it – during their friendly… oh yes, friendly embrace.
With the corner of his eye he sees himself in the polished metal panel. Or is it really him? Crumpled shirt, and a half-mad smile playing across his face that makes him look like a caricature on himself. The sight makes even him scared, and angers him at the same time.
He throws coins into the automat and takes out the plain green lighter, the cheapest kind that is sold everywhere. There is Euro2008 emblem printed on it and German flag on the other side. How patriotic.
And it doesn’t work. Not at the first attempt and not at the second. Only the thought that someone may recognize – or indeed has already recognized him – stops him from throwing the thing into the trash bin from across the room with as much force as he can. Force. Yes.
And now he laughs. He’s just pushing too roughly. No wonder the poor thing doesn’t work.
First drag, smoke filling his lungs, scent of tobacco still faint but growing stronger. He holds his breath and then exhales slowly. Puts the cigarette to his lips again…
And just as he’s about to take the next drag the speaker above his head comes alive again.
His plane is announced.
Scowling, he throws the cigarette away and walks to the gateway.
In these five-stars hotels all the personal is well-trained. That’s why he didn’t have to worry that someone will ask for his autograph or try to congratulate him. Just the young man at the desk looked at him with a hint of surprise while giving him the keycard, but even he quickly returned to his face the politely-welcoming expression that should have been there all along. They may be surprised at his arrival and they can be curious as much as they want. But those who are working in five-stars hotels will never say to anyone, much less to the press, what and whom they see. Otherwise the well-paid job will be lost. That’s one of the perks of being able to spend enough money for the night in the hotel. You can be who you want and do almost everything you want without being afraid of paparazzis and unnecessary scandals.
Unless you’re about to do something stupid.
Keycard in his hand, he’s walking along the long corridor towards his room. It’s late evening already in München. He has eaten in small cafeteria in airport upon arrival – was too hungry, but when the waiter brought the plates he’s suddenly found out that he can’t eat. He kept stabbing the meat and salad with a fork, drank a glass of beer. Beer was bad, much worse than what they served in Berlin, and after day’s celebrations it was one beer too many. Coffee made his head ache, the pills he’s forgotten when packing things in Vienna – so he’s smoked two cigarettes in the airport and four more on his ride to the hotel in comfortable taxi, through München’s traffic. There were flags too, fans in white shirts walking along the streets. Maybe they haven’t noticed that the tournament has ended.
All he knows is that he’s done a stupid thing – coming here unannounced. He should have called, but didn’t and can’t explain to himself why. He doesn’t even know what he’ll do next. Go to his room. Call Jürgen. He doesn’t even know what floor is the suite Jürgen is staying in. He doesn’t even know if Jürgen is at the same hotel right now or has changed his residence since the last time they’ve talked.
In these richly decorated interiors he’s starting to enjoy himself again. Looking at the mirror he sees himself – beige pants and white shirt, well-tailored, dark sunglasses in the pocket, hair in perfect order. He likes what he sees.
They notice each other at the same time. As he rounds the corner, he sees Jürgen walk towards him. He’s wearing red t-shirt – his club colors from now on. And there’s a phone in his hand. He’s talking – or listening rather to someone on the other end of the line.
Probably it’s the sound of footsteps that makes Jürgen lift his head, and just as he’s ready to think that his lover doesn’t notice him, Jürgen says quietly some words to the one he’s speaking with. Quietly, but not quiet enough to prevent him from hearing.
“Sorry, I’ll call you later, Gary”.
And, as he stands here, Jürgen closes the phone and crosses the distance between them in five steps.
“Are you mad?” Jürgen’s voice is even and again very quiet, but his blue eyes are sparkling. At the same time, he looks around quickly to see if someone may see them, doesn’t notice anything probably, opens the door that is almost right in front of them and pushes him into the room.
He doesn’t say a word, just leans at the door as soon as Jürgen locks it. Bitterness rising slowly from inside, mixed with a dose of helpless anger. ‘I’ll call you later, Gary’…
Jürgen turns to him. His lover’s voice is still quiet and even, but there is metal ringing in it.
“What do you think you are doing?”
tbc, because I'm unable to continue writing something coherent today :) More tomorrow.