The Killers - Human
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
Markus Loew's POV
You don’t play chess.
To be honest, I’m not very good at them either, so it’s ok. Never understood what is so fascinating at moving the figures across the checkered board, especially if every variation has already been played – a couple of times at least. Too structured for you, I guess, And too predictable as far as I am concerned. Maybe I’m missing something? Wouldn’t be the first time…
I don’t play cards.
But you do. You shuffle the pack expertly, and deal quickly, every movement swift and efficient. And there’s a sparkle in your eyes every time you open the cards that were just dealt to you.
You love challenges. You love every thing unpredictable, everything that can be risky – even ‘dangerous’ for you is not the word of warning, but something that means excitement.
Cards are too chaotic for me. Too much depends on fortune, too little place is left for strategy, for logic, and the illusory feeling of being able to control the game is just that – illusion.
But we both don’t play checkers or scramble or whatever, because, by our mutual admission, most of these games are incredibly boring.
Boredom is the most dangerous thing in the world.
So, in the evenings when I’m at your place or you stay at mine (rarity these days because… well, let’s call it love life, shall we?) – we play cards.
You carry the deck with you all the time, as well as the pack of cigarettes. So you smoke – or you don’t smoke, which is more often, but cigarettes are on the table anyway. I drink. And we play for hours.
“It’s pointless to play without interest”, you told me once, while dealing another hand. This I agree with. But playing for money is something that even sounds wrong. So for some years already, ever since our ‘evening games’ started, we’re playing ‘truth or dare’.
Your idea, by the way.
When Daniela is at home, she brings us coffee and watches us play for some minutes – before going back to whatever she was doing. She doesn’t like cards – and as I’ve found out once, doesn’t even know the simpliest games save one or two everyone has been playing as a kid. But it doesn’t matter, because – she admitted to it herself – she likes to see us have fun and a bit of banter, while you’re beating me soundly – I would suppose this is a part she likes most of all.
I always choose ‘dare’. I’ve always done. Even when I was a little boy and we were playing at the schoolyard with my classmates. I was too shy back then, and there were no secrets in my life to tell – and I was afraid my friends will decide I am boring. So instead of whispering into eager ears the answer to some terribly personal question, I was climbing the fences, meowing from under the desk in the middle of our chemistry lesson, picking flowers in our neighbor’s garden… You don’t demand anything equally extreme from me. You dare me to get Daniela a book she wants to read, to juggle three apples (that was an epic fail, but we three have laughed like crazy), you make me recite passages from Daniela’s working instructions, once she’s asked you to dare me to serve us tea and you’ve obeyed. And we certainly have fun.
I’m usually leaving my car two blocks from your house – just to have a chance to walk and enjoy the surroundings. It’s beautiful, the place where you live, especially in spring.
In my hand there are flowers for Daniela and a new pack of cards for you. We’ve destroyed the last one when I’ve tried to make some tricks you’ve dared me to do.
I don’t know why, but you always choose ‘truth’.
Not a single time I can remember you’ve chosen otherwise. Maybe it’s only with me – are you really ready to open up to every stranger just because he’s got better cards than you?
And knowing how passionate you are about any adventure, I would have thought you are the ‘dare’ type…
But maybe that’s it. Maybe you just think that nobody will dare you to do something you wouldn’t dare to do yourself.
‘And what has Hansi told you?’, you ask, not looking at me – but I know you’re paying attention. Me – I’m concentrating on my cards. I’m losing. Badly.
‘Yesss, I’ve won’, confirm you a minute later, opening your cards. I sigh at your triumphant smile.
‘Truth or dare?’
As if you had to ask.
You think for a few seconds, trying to come up with something funny. Then your face lights up,
‘Go to Daniela and tell you what Hansi has said to you’.
I scowl and stand up.
Daniela is in the kitchen, busying herself with dinner. She smiles when she sees me, obviously expecting me to ask for something. She wears the checkered dress – I remember Jogi saying once that in it she looks just like the girl he’s fallen in love all those years ago…
I lean at the doorframe and start reciting Hansi’s tirade about ‘these imbeciles also known as DFB officials’.
She’s turned back to the table as soon as I’ve started talking – but I see her reflection in the fringe door. She’s ready to burst into laughter – and would have done that if she wasn’t afraid to embarrass me.
On the window the dreamcatcher is chiming. Delicate little thing.
Sometimes I… have… to stay the night at Hansi’s place. Sometimes means often enough to make me wish I’ve never got into this mess – but did I have a choice?
I did, of course I did. If last year – almost a year already? – I could have told him where to go with his threats…
Damn you, Jogi. Damn your choice of lover, your messy lovelife and your co-workers. Especially your assistant, your friend, damn him…
Too easy to put a blame on everyone else but myself. Fact is – I’ve agreed to sleep with him. I do it now. And more, I’m coming to being able to tolerate him.
He laughs at me. He thinks I am funny.
I think he is disgusting.
He laughs at me even more.
When we talk, we argue most of the time. But everything still ends in bed.
And the longer it lasts, the harder it is to imagine the way I will be able to end it.
Damn you, Jogi.
You throw your cards on the table. You hate losing – even in cards and even to me.
‘Truth or dare?’
You pretend to consider the options. I fill the glasses once more. We always drink a bit more when we are alone in my apartment.
‘Truth’. As if you could answer differently.
‘Have you ever committed adultery?’
You whistle in disbelief. Yes, I have asked that. You’ve had it coming, dear brother. Maybe next time you’ll choose ‘dare’?
‘I… Markus, it’s not fair! I… Ah hell, I did. I did. Happy now?’ You shake your head, laughing.
‘Will you tell the story?’
‘It’s the next question, I’m not obliged to answer this one!’, you exclaim with a smile.
“Well, will you anyway?’
Your expression changes into seriousness. ‘I would, but it’s just too long a story, and not as interesting as you would imagine’.
‘At least the name?’
This makes you laugh again. ‘Nooooo, my dear, you’ll have to beat me once more to find this out – if you’ll still want to know’.
Do you expect me to bail out, I wonder? Because I’m not going to.
I beat you again in the next game.
‘Truth or dare?’
You know the question I will ask. Will you…
That’s my brother. My brave older brother, with his devil-may-care attitude.
I love you, Jogi, no matter what. Just because you are always like that.
‘What is the name of your lover?’
Silence. You don’t answer right away.
‘My first lover’s name was ‘Daniela’’.
Oh Jogi. No, you’re not getting away that easily.
‘I meant current one?’
‘What makes you think…’
Then we just stare at each other.
‘Ok, ok, you’re clever enough’, you admit, raising your hands in mock surrender. Than your face is serious again. “Are you sure you want to know?’
‘Come on, brother, how bad it can be?’
You sigh. ‘Jürgen Klinsmann’.
I am supposed to be shocked, right? Right. I was shocked when I’ve heard it for the first time…
‘Oh, come on, come on, you’ve promised to tell the truth’, I try to sound skeptical, though I’m not too sure I’m too convincing.
‘Jogi…’ I trail off. At loss for words now, right?
Judging by your face, you totally believe my act.
I just wish I knew what my next reaction should be.
Trying to find the right words, I stay silent. You don’t speak too.
‘Jogi… you…’ I start laughing nervously. Thank God you interpret it the way I want, like the reaction of someone shocked to the core.
‘Ah, come on, Jogi’, I manage finally.
You smile. ‘You don’t believe me?’
I shrug in response.
‘But you should’, you say and begin shuffling the card anew.
So, now I officially know your dirty little secret.
I don’t know why I did it. But I see that you feel better now, knowing that I know and that I don’t despise you because of your affair with a man…
I don’t, really.
And I like Klinsmann a lot. He’s a fascinating man, the more I learn to know him the more I come to this conclusion. Fascinating, and good-looking, and clever, and interesting to talk with…
I would have never tried the affair with him… But I understand you.
He’s worth cheating on one’s wife, even on Daniela, and he’s worth throwing away everything. Perfect for those who’s not afraid of dangers.
Yes, Jogi, he’s a perfect match to you.
‘Do you love him?’
You put your chin on your folded hands. ‘Isn’t your interest in my personal life going a bit too far?’
But your tone holds a hint of mocking. I look at your face, straining to see if you are annoyed with my questioning – but you are not. Or I don’t know you at all.
‘I didn’t force you to choose ‘truth’’, I remind you. You nod, accepting the point.
‘Ok, so I do love him’, and before I say another word you raise your hand in warning. ‘If you ask me does he love me or not I’ll…’, you trail off but demonstrate me a fist as an argument.
‘Understood’, I laugh. ‘Another round?’
You pass me the cards.
I rarely have to entertain Hansi’s guests.
Even if someone is visiting him when I’m at his place, I always can hide in the bedroom and read, which I do most times. It’s fine by them and fine by me.
Sometimes I do come out though. Drink tea with them and chat. I don’t know them well enough to bother about things they will think of me being here at this place, behaving like an owner of the apartment – which I do, I always do, going over every boundary of decency. I hoped it will embarrass him, or at the least annoy him – no such luck. He seems to like the way I stroll around like someone who has every right.
Pleasing him is the last thing on my mind – but I end up pleasing him more often then not. Or maybe it’s because I can do no wrong by him…
No, I haven’t just thought that. I haven’t.
I have to wonder at myself sometimes, at the turns my thoughts take when I’m thinking about him – so I’d rather think of anything else.
I hear them talking when I come closer.
‘Tough luck or just unlucky coincidence?’ Hansi appears to be thoughtful, takes the pause, the silverware clicks, and though I can’t see him because of the door, I can imagine how he takes the cup to his lips, takes a sip and almost puts it back, but the cup freezes in the air, above the table, when he says: ‘Leaving Israel for Germany only to find out he is leaving’.
‘He can’t leave Germany, for once their side turned up to be smarter than he was, he’ll stay here anyway, so…’
‘You’ve counted on it?’
‘Did I? Well, maybe, maybe… Anyway, he’s here and I’m here. We’ll see’.
‘You really think someday he will stay because of you?’
And it’s strange to realize that Hansi is not mocking. He just wants to know the answer to his question, and his tone isn’t the least bit sarcastic, more like resigned – to the other’s folly.
Lothar laughs in reply – dry laughter, self-deprecating and sincere, ‘No, I don’t’.
They both turn to me. Hansi’s cup is still in his hand as if he can’t decide whether to put it on the table or to drink some more. Lothar…
He’s leaning back comfortably on the couch, glass of wine in his hand, smile on his lips when he invites me to sit down and chat. I almost didn’t notice it this time – but almost, as always, didn’t count. Just when he was turning, in his expression…
This is a man who will never like me, just because I look too much like you.
I wonder, what does Matthäus think every time he sees me.
He’s an interesting man, Lothar Matthäus. Newspaper articles and those infamous ‘Sport-Bild’ columns, not to mention the ‘Diary’, paint a picture that has little to do with the man in front of me.
He’s complicated. Even without the love story I’ve finally got from Hansi… I wonder, if Hansi knows everything.
But if even half of it is truth, then…
I look at him when he cracks jokes out of the blue with a deadpan look on his face, and try to imagine how he would look at his man. Though I can be sure there’ll be nothing in his eyes to betray his feelings, only if someone is playing close attention.
And I have a sickening suspicion that paying close attention to those he doesn’t care much about is not a habit of Jürgen Klinsmann.
Honestly, I should be glad. If Jürgen ever sees him – what will become of you, my brother?
‘I’ve talked to Klinsmann yesterday’. Just something to keep a conversation alive, nothing more.
Wicked smile from Hansi. He’s keeping himself from applauding me.
No reaction from Matthäus. As if he hadn’t heard me at all.
I can’t bring myself to cheer for you in this game, Jogi. I should feel myself a traitor. I should tell you about this man and the words. ‘We’ll see’. What is he hoping for?
I’m really sorry.
I hate your ill-fated affair, because if not for it …
I can’t blame you, but still I do.
‘Are you happy’.
‘I am’. Without any hesitation.
You’re so sure, Jogi. You have no reason to doubt yourself. Successful and happy, that’s who you are, model hero for any social campaign.
‘Sure, in love too’.
‘With…’ I turn to the door, to see if Daniela is anywhere close, then continue in quiet whisper, just in case, ‘…him?’
You nod. Simple movement, but so much in it, You’re happy, Jogi. I should be happy for you.
I wonder, if I told you about Flick and how he got me into his bed – will your happiness dim even a little bit?
I’m not going to try.
You look so young and so… Happy.
Did I imagine you almost telling me to shut up when I started voicing my thoughts about Klinsmann’s career perspectives? Or was it only my interpretation – when your snappiness became unbearable just in time with him losing job at ‘Bayern’?
And again I wonder…
There are some things you refuse to see. You plainly refuse to notice them – and again, if only you were a bit more alert, you would have noticed Hansi’s little game, or Jürgen’s distant smile. But maybe I am wrong – and you do notice, but don’t want to see what you are seeing. And if that is so, then I should not blame you for anything, because…
‘What is the thing that frightens you the most?’
‘Losing what I have’.
I look at you over my glass. ‘You think it can happen?’
You shrug. You touch the silver pendant that hangs around your neck on a leather cord. I never thought that you have two of them – would have never guessed if not for the similar one lying in the top drawer of Hansi’s desk. Do you miss it, the one with two mirrored letters – and what do these letters mean? Was it your method of declaring your love… or was it a gift from… him?
You are considering your answer, looking at the cards lying in disarray on the table. Then you lift your head.
‘Everything can happen… I expect my happiness to last. But it may be just wishful thinking. But I’m not going to start worrying until something bad really happens – what’s the point?’
Good for you then.
This night in bed Hansi does something he’s never done before. We kiss, we touch – routine, really – and then he turns on his stomach, offering himself to me.
Never happened before.
And this – I don’t want.
It’s a heady thing – the feeling of power, of dominance, and at the same time it’s the need to be careful. To take care – with him.
And this I don’t want, I’d rather cause him pain – physical if I can’t do anything else, but no matter how I want it – I can’t.
It’s so much easier – being the bottom. Spread your legs, stare at the ceiling and count to hundred in twos and then backwards in fours, and then again till he manages to make you come. This I can do.
I don’t want to be careful when I touch him, don’t want to watch his face for every sign of pain – I think I’m too afraid of really hurting him, or maybe I’ve heard just one too many horror stories about things that can go wrong in anal sex if the top is not taking care…
I should have stood up and left him here, gone to the shower and jerk myself off there, leaving him to do the same – if he wants. But instead I again do what he asked – told – me to do.
I could have started wondering what is wrong with me, but I know that I won’t come up with any worthwhile idea.
Been there already, done that.
‘And if I dare you to tell me the truth?’
That will be cheating’.
You let out the resigned sigh.
‘Too bad. I so wanted to ask you some questions about your private life…’
Don’t you dare, Jogi. Don’t you ever fucking dare ask me about it, or I’ll start talking about _your_ private life. With everyone who would like to hear.
Don’t you dare.
I drink the rest of my coffee.
‘Would you ever choose truth?’
‘Would you ever choose dare?’.
You nod understandingly. ‘No, I won’t. Another round?’
‘Yes, but you still haven’t told me what I should dare to do’.
‘Ah, this… Let’s talk about it later, I can’t come up with something at the moment’.
I nod my agreement.
‘But still, I’d love to know that you are as happy as I am’.
Are you sure?
‘Well, I am happy alright. Glad now?’ I laugh – what else I can do?
You smile, relieved.
It is always so easy with you, Jogi.
Such a shame that I’ve managed to complicate everything for myself.