Pairing: Jose Mourinho/Rui Faria
Rating: R (to be safe)
Word count: 2297
Disclamer: all made up.
Summary: their story is one hell of a ride.
It goes like this.
They meet in Barcelona, and it rains. The pitch is wet, the trees are dripping with drops of cold early spring rain, and Rui's hair is plastered to his brow, water getting onto his glasses.
"I like you", says José, clear non-sequitur after hours of talking about football. It was supposed to be a short interview. José is a busy man. José doesn't have that much time. But it's José so everything goes the way he wants. They both are soaked to the skin, their throats are raw — they talked and talked, and then José came on with this remark and Rui replied, "I'd have preferred you to like my thesis".
José's smile is wicked, at the same time charming and with a bit of danger creeping around the edges.
Rui catches the thought, unbidden. "Strap yourself in, it'll be one hell of a ride".
Or maybe it goes like this.
José calls him on the phone.
Reception is weak, it's thunderstorm in Barcelos, so the line is creaking with noises, but José's voice is loud and clear above it.
"You promised to come work with me", José says, and Rui feels sudden rush of adrenaline surge inside.
"So I did", he answers, and he's sure his smile is audible over the phone.
This is how it starts.
They think the same when it comes to football. So similar in fact that if makes people around wonder. Some speculate that they rehearse it in advance. Others talk about mink reading.
They are different in everything else. So different in fact, that it's hard to imagine them being even friends. Hard — but not impossible.
It’s going to be worth it.
It is never easy. Not on the field, not out of it. But they manage — the team and each other.
José is shy, arrogant, thin-skinned, obtuse, charming and blunt, all in the span of one conversation. Rui is moody, short of patience with those who meddle too much, and brash sometimes. They should be clashing at every turn but they’re not, they complement each other all too well for it.
"I like you", says José and this time he means it.
Rui cherishes the sentiment.
They learn to cohabitate. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard. They learn each other — it’s like reading in a pitch-black darkness, when by the time you make out the text your head is already splitting with migraine, but still it’s worth it.
They talk. They argue. They drink together — no more than one glass at a time because José hates being out of control and Rui hates being drunk. They work together so well everyone thinks they know each other for many years. Sometimes they too think it — forgetting how little time has really passed.
They do well — three results say so, their career says so — not half a season has passed and they move to Porto. “Miracle of Fatima", journalists call it, referring to José's negotiations there.
It is not miracle though; it's just how they work.
“We’ve only just begun”, says José.
Rui nods at him.
José says things. “Next year we’ll be champions”, he says, all self-assuredness and calmness of a clairvoyant. No one is laughing, because when José says things people listen.
It’s scary, this quiet arrogance, and exciting at the same time.
“Be careful”, Rui says, and José smiles at him.
As if he ever is.
They win. Of course they win.
They learn to live with each other. Little steps, long way.
Rui doesn't do hugs, not in public, not in private. José can't keep his arms to himself, always physical in his affections, always hands-on in every situation. So they adapt — José lets him keep his private space (mostly, mostly, he wouldn't be José if everything wasn't coming with asterisk), Rui enjoys public signs of affection as much as he ever will.
José loves being center of attention. Rui stays at the sidelines and watches. There is a lot to watch.
He falls for José — how can he not? It is impossible to be like this, so close, so perfectly aware of José all the time - and not crash for him. He doesn't even wonder how is it possible to fall in love with male person — what does it matter anyway. He loves, end of story. It's not too presumptions of him to think that José loves him too.
He never asks and José never answers. It’s better this way.
That's what Rui really thinks.
No kidding himself, no way.
One hell of a ride it is.
Then their world moves again.
Rui loves London. It’s the city, or maybe it’s the people. Or maybe the language, foreign and familiar at the same time. Or maybe the way José’s eyes light up at the challenge ahead, triumphant and predatory, and excited at the same time, like a kid in candy store.
“Mind the gap”, sings the Shed End. It’s their anthem this year.
“I love you”, Rui says
As if he is the first to say it to José.
They fall into bed together. No one is surprised.
Even this takes time to learn.
Rui is always cold at night and José always complains the room is too warm. They adapt even while sleeping — José throwing off the covers, Rui stealing them. Most mornings they wake up tangled together, Rui wrapped tightly in José's comforter, José covered by only sheet, sleeping past the alarm-clock with amusing nonchalance. Rui wakes him up with a kiss. He never wonders what Tami does in times like this, and José never asks about Lucia. That's adapting, too.
Mind the gap.
He can live with that.
They win. Or course they win.
It's a heady feeling. First title in 50 years, and it's only beginning as far as Rui is concerned. He knows there's much more ahead.
Between José's genius, his meticulous planning, Silvino's good humor, Baltemar’s fastidiousness, Andre's research and Steve's knowledge of the league, they find balance. They find recipes that work. They find ways to beat everyone.
"José Mourinho", sings the Shed End. Rui laughs.
It's as good as sex, if not better.
They have sex.
It's a strange affair. Starting with José kissing his lips, softly at first and more forceful the next moment, and he replies in kind, twists his hands in José's shirt trying to reach, to touch all at once. It is a silent battle for control, and he is not the winner in the end because it is José. Because there are no losers in this battle.
It is when José bites his bottom lip and presses fingers to his spine, soothing and arousing at the same time, it’s when he feels José's erection pressed to his tight, feels his warmth, his trembling arousal. When he kisses back, slow and steady, controlling the rhythm. When they get rid of some of the clothes and it’s warmth to warmth, skin the shin, touch to touch. This is when it becomes unimportant, who wins and who doesn't, because there are no losers in this game. When José takes him it is the best feeling in the world, and how José's face lights up in happiness and wonder...
He falls asleep, tired and content, and in the morning the rain is falling behind the window and the world looks grey and José is asleep, snoring softly, and all is night in his life.
They live together. José is easy sometimes — all he needs is pat on the back and smack over the head in the right moment. Rui is only happy to provide.
José trusts him as much as he trusts anyone. Maybe more than he trusts himself with his temper and his tantrums and his flashes of brilliance followed by moody patches. Rui balances him. He balances Rui, like domestic hurricane in his otherwise quiet and ordinary life. Rui loves it.
Rui drives him around London, goes shopping with him, brews him coffee and listens to his rants. They deal with newspapers together and stand up to authorities both inside the club and out there. "I wouldn't work with anyone but you”, says Rui, and José grins. It's the sentiment they both share.
It goes even without saying.
They leave the club together, going into unknown with heads held high.
For the first time they part for almost a year, because of course they still meet socially even living in different parts of Portugal but it's mere substitution for working together, sharing ideas together, being together day by day. Even preparing the presentation for England national team is still only a reprieve.
"It is temporary", promises José, usual conviction in his voice. Rui believes him.
Rui always believes.
José makes good on his promise.
They go to Milan. They have championship for granted, cups to contend for and Champions League to win.
"We want Mancini", sing fans outside the training field, upset by new rules forbidding the public to enter team's training.
"Rui, we are so dead", laughs José. It's his second day in charge and he's mixing up his Italian grammar and enthralls everyone with warmest of smiles.
"José Mourinho", sings Curva Nord at their first match. It all goes according to plan.
"Be careful", says Rui anyway.
As if he's ever going to be.
They spend nights before matches making plans, drawing schemes, finding ways to win and win and win. After the match it is different. José is vibrating with nervous energy, pent-up emotions that have no outlet when he's in charge of the team. Sure he's always moving on the touchline, gesturing, yelling, swearing in four languages, even throwing things — but this all is part of the plan, some of the role he plays, almost calculated and always done to achieve certain effect. Handcuff gesture, sarcastic laughter — all those things.
When the spotlight is off it's different. More raw, more real, more personal in every way. This is the side of José only Rui sees, only Rui is allowed to see.
They talk and they make love. Sometimes hastily, barely taking their clothes off, sometimes slowly to the point of it being painful, sometimes gentle like first time they ever did it. There are endearments shared, there are caresses and kisses, and afterwards they sleep and morning brings new challenge — they meet it together.
Everyone knows they can't be separated.
The offer for Rui comes anyway. Portuguese clubs, local greats offer him job.
Rui refuses. What can they offer him that he doesn't have already?
"I won't hinder your career", says José, but his eyes are full of thunder. Rui loves it.
"Are you getting rid of me?" he asks, just to be sure. As if he isn't sure anyway.
José's face looks like a mask. Definitely unimpressed.
"It is yours to decide", he says curtly, but his voice alone speaks volumes.
"I've decided", answers Rui.
José smiles, strangely relieved and unsure, and Rui's heart swells.
It is love, no doubt about it.
They win. Of course they win, and it is already time to move on, though Rui probably would’ve liked to linger a bit. Not stay at the clubs but spend some more days in Milan, where flowers are blooming on the streets and open-top bus is parading their trophy around the city.
But Madrid waits for them already, calm and cold, all grey stone and green grass of Valdebebas. So they move on, to try and make the impossible again. Is there something impossible for them anyway?
And sure it all goes to hell, albeit slowly at first.
“Be careful”, says Rui, and José waves him off.
José isn't going to be told what to do. José isn't going to look at the names. José is never careful, never mindful of his own comfort.
It's not going to end well, Rui sees it. All those smiles, mutual compliments and shows of respect are too forced and too good to be true. In Hollywood world of superstars clashes of ego are impossible to avoid, and José isn't the one to avoid them.
It is not going to end well, but Rui doesn't care. If they go down they go down together.
He catches José's knowing smile. José understands everything just as well. And still he took this job despite knowing all along how hard it would be. When it comes to egos, José's is the biggest of them all.
He wants to win.
When it comes to egos, Rui is nowhere near José's league. But he has his own pride.
He’s going to make it work.
They spend nights together, holed in a hotel before every match and spending all the energy on each other. After sex they talk about football and never mention problems that are going to explode in their faces sooner or later. In a team full of superstars José's meritocracy is bound to ruffle some feathers. But this big pink elephant has no place in their room. It's enough of it in everyday life.
They manage just fine for two years anyway — credit to José's ability, his sheer genius. But even that is not enough in the end.
It all goes to hell, as predicted.
And José doesn’t care. He stands in the eye of hurricane and smiles. That’s the way he is.
Mind the gap.
They come back to London. They start anew, but some things stay the same.
"José Mourinho", sings the Shed End. Just like old times, but different. How it should be.
“I love you”, says José, feral grin on his face.
As if Rui doesn’t know already.
It is one hell of a ride.
He wouldn’t have it any other way.