Fandom: German National team
Pairing: Klinsmann with his love life
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
“In the dark dark house in a dark dark forest lives a dark dark man…”
No one is laughing, because the joke isn’t funny.
No one is even smiling.
They just look at each other, then at the magnet board and at the schemes scattered upon the table, and then their eyes meet again, as if by accident, and they all look away. That’s awkward. As is the silence.
“In a dark dark valley…”
Martin is not laughing. His face is carefully blank. There’s something strangely reminiscent of faces of Aztec stone figurines in his features when he is so carefully not-laughing, not-speaking, not-watching like he does now.
There’s a beauty in a strangeness of his face.
He seems to be surrounding himself with strangely beautiful people.
“In a dark dark forest…”
There is something that doesn’t work.
Even the best know this feeling. Even to them it happens sometimes.
The matches are won. The results are coming. The work pays off.
But somehow, somewhere, something doesn’t work right.
And it’s almost like hitting a wall. Because ‘something’, ‘somewhere’ and ‘somehow’ are not things to work with. These are not facts, just a feeling, undefined and unproved. And unless they catch that illusive “wrong”, there is nothing to be done.
So he tries to elevate the mood, telling a scary story.
“In the dark dark house lives a dark dark man…”
And no one is smiling.
Changing continents, he changes gears. Life is different here. Not better, not worse, different. And he can’t stay the same.
He knows by heart every song White Hart Lane things. ‘What’s the score?’, demand thousands of voices, and flags are billowing in the wind – magnificent, majestic, powerful, and the team has no way but forward. No other way but to win. ‘What’s the score?’
The players on the pitch are different. Their game is not the same one they used to play. They play for different goals – back then in 1998 when they were fighting the relegation it was a careless joy of despair that made them play every match as their last. There’s none of this feeling now, but instead there is something... wrong?
The man on the bench is different. Too foreign to be right for the place – strange how these things turn out sometimes, his accent too jarring to listen to. Not wrong, but not exactly right at this place and in his team. The team that for a long time already is not his.
And he is here to work, as is Tottenham’s coach, and it’s not his place to decide if this man is wrong or right for the job.
“What’s the score?”
The score is alright.
The team is alright.
Even Friedel is alright.
There is every reason to smile.
And Gary smiles in reply.
Gary’s world is simplicity. Stability of a long-standing routine that is never tiresome, like a comfortable surroundings. Like houses at Mayfair, neon lights on Haymarket, plain beauty of St. Martin In the Fields. Like London – their London.
Which has nothing to do with London at all. It’s just a symbol, a memory, a habit. He wouldn’t be coming here if not for Gary. He would come to any part of the world and feel himself at home – wherever Gary happens to be.
There are things that are simple like that. Friendship, love, loyalty, admiration – love again, in every sense of this overused and overabused world.
Gary’s world is simplicity. His house, his way of life, his words. Nothing fancy, nothing to hide behind, nothing to hide. Comfortable honesty – sometimes it’s too hard to bear but it is always better this way in the end.
They spend time in a pub that is too obscure to be crowded but where excellent beer is served. They pass the shop-windows, they avoid the traffic. Get their copy of Evening Standard at the corner. They cross the streets and watch the street-lights, and watch people playing chess in nearby café, and buy sandwiches and feel the winter in the air. They talk in front of the TV and never turn the lights on. They talk – there is so much to talk about that even the whole night will not be enough.
“Do you consider me a coward?” Asks he as if it’s just an ordinary question. It is, if he thinks about it. Just a question of life.
Gary drinks apple juice from a paper cup. “For what? For choosing, for not choosing, for not sorting out your problems for fear of hurting others?”
“For everything, I guess”, he smiles. “Mostly for the later – but it’s all choices, right?”
“No more than all of us”, is it warmth in Gary’s words? Is it absolution? Something he came here to hear?
“We all are cowards or we all fail at making choices?”
“One way or the other”, laughs Gary.
“One way or the other”.
He sleeps on the couch in the living room an wakes up to the smell of coffee. Walks up to the window and sees busy streets lit with the low winter sun. Takes a big coffee mug that Gary offers and makes a sip. Everything is that simple.
“Do you really know what you are choosing from?” Asks Gary and he nods his head no. But smiles anyway.
“Someday I will figure it out”.
Someday, somehow he will.
Or maybe not
Maybe not. At his age it is hard to imagine he is finally going to buy a clue. He’s made his love-life too complicated – it’s not even a right word. A tangled mess rather. Loving a man, loving a woman at the same time. His wife and his friend, Debi and Gary, is it possible to split your heart in two? Or maybe it’s not even needed. When it comes to a man and a woman, it’s easy to find peace knowing there are two. Even if only one of them can be chosen. And he’s made his choice long ago.
It becomes more complicated when a third one enters the picture and settles inside the frame, demanding a place. A definition. A part of life.
For eight years already Joachim is his lover, friend for even longer, and there is a word “love” too, and trying to place it is too much of a headache. From a smooth-sailing, gentle and cherished love affair, to jealousy and ugly scenes, passion and anger and back to love and peace again – they’ve been through all and probably will be again. Another case of making choices.
Joachim’s world is avoidance.
Miracles that help troubles stay hidden.
And maybe it’s not a coincidence that he lives in Schwarzwald where fairy-tales are alive. Where Christmas-trees are sparkling with lights, where snow is falling to the ground making everything sparkle. Where everything is old and new at the same time and magic is hiding behind the corner – or maybe it’s just another illusion too.
He comes from Stuttgart to Freiburg just to see Joachim. Their three hours to spend together in the midst of a holiday frenzy – the most they, both married men, can afford. Not enough and too much. Sometimes just too much.
Joachim’s scarves and jackets, Joachim’s dyed hair to hide first sparks of winter in them. Joachim’s stand-offish manner that doesn’t hide desperation visible behind the too-cool-to-be-convincing movements. How he longs to touch, to kiss, to soothe – but knows that it won’t be enough. It never is enough. There is always unease in Joachim, luck of trust, but what right he has to demand trust, he who still haven’t figured it all out.
“I love you”, he says out loud, and Joachim nods haughtily. As if accepting something he is entitled to – and it hurts him because he knows this defensive mechanism for what it is.
How did they come to that, to hurting each other with words of love?
He would have fixed it gladly, in an instant, would have given everything to do it, but there is nothing to fix because everything is alright, All the problems they ever had between them are long gone now. Sorted out, swept under the carpet, dissolved into silence, covered with words of love – Joachim does everything this way, and as for him – he’s used to avoiding definitions. But he’s learning.
It just isn’t the right time – week between Christmas and New Year when everything and everyone celebrates. Joy and peace to the world, indeed. And nothing to say here but ‘I love you’.
Which probably is the ultimate truth.
He misses snowfalls. In the warm sun, with waves splashing against the shore, he sometimes misses real winter.
He spent a year in Germany and missed California’s sun. Now he lives in US and misses snow. Or maybe just misses home.
There is no real winter in Europe this year either. Holidays are a rainy affair, and only when the curtains on every window is drawn and lights are on it is possible to imagine that everything is like it should be.
Such fitting metaphor – if only he knew how everything is supposed to be.
If only Debbie knew. If only Joachim knew. If only – if only. Like a magnet board with tactical schemes, where everything is clear and checked multiple times – and still there is a mistake hidden somewhere, a missing piece that renders every scheme unpredictable. Something overlooked and lost, unnoticed, deemed unimportant. 89th minute equalizer that makes all team’s effort worthless. And only slight chance for Evans to come out and score in compensated time – though this is a bad analogy because on the field there are 11 players, and when it comes to personal matters you are always alone.
And then there is Lothar.
And Lothar’s world is…
He can’t think of a word. He can think of too many words but none of them fits. Stereotypes born on magazine cover and repeated over and over till they become truth in people’s minds. Lothar. Running around. Going in circles. And it’s almost like they are connected to each other in some strange way as their passes cross and uncross. Again and again and again.
Somehow at the edges of his life there is always Lothar. A nagging presence of former lover, friend and enemy – all three combined at some point. Someone still unknown and someone he sees no point in trying to understand.
And still he is there. Always.
But that’s just another story.