The couch sank a little as Cristiano sat down with a heavy sigh, placing his phone on the coffee table. The rain was hitting mercilessly against the windows of his apartment, the lights were dim, casting weird shadows on the walls. Those walls, which he finally had the nerve to decorate after a long time thinking that England wasn’t his place. He didn’t understand the language, he disliked the food, and most of all his missed the Portguese weather, the freedom which waved through the air which he hadn’t found in any other country.
And now he would leave it all behind again. For, what Jorge called it, a new adventure. The only thing Cristiano saw was another five months of feeling like an outsider. Spanish media was the worst, or so everyone always told him. He didn’t know for sure yet, but he would find out soon he reckoned. What led up to this point? What made him want to leave this place? He didn't know why he was having so much trouble, now that he tied the knot. He looked sideways, knowing the reason in his heart.
Gerard smiled sadly at him, tears clung to his cheeks, which had started rolling the second Cristiano had ended his phone call. They didn’t say anything for a while, not knowing the right words to say at a moment like this. It was eventually Gerard who whispered the heavy words into the room like a gush of wind during a storm.
“So now we’ll play in Clasicos?”
Cristiano sniffed, falling out of his train of thoughts as he felt his own tears hitting his hands.
“You’ll be wearing blaugrana and I’ll be wearing white,” he sighed, leaning his head on Gerard’s shoulder.
His tall friend immediately wrapped him in his arms, kissing his temple softly. “You’re the most expensive player in the world,” he whispered against Cristiano’s unruly hair.
“I do not care about that,” Cristiano muttered against Gerard’s chest, feeling himself so small whenever his friend held him.
“I know you don’t. But… I am proud of you,” Gerard said, pulling back to look Cristiano in the eye.
His friend smiled a little, just the corners of his mouth turning upwards. “Who will help me learn the language now?” he whispered. “You already know Spanish.”
Gerard smiled, even though he didn’t feel like smiling at all. Cristiano just had that effect on people. Or, maybe he just had that effect on him. “We can call? You know, lessons over the phone. I am sure we can work our way out,” he said.
Cristiano just stared blankly at him. “Gerard, are you deaf?” he eventually whispered after a few long, silent seconds. Gerard frowned, not understanding his friend, which was probably a first for them.
Cristiano scoffed softly at the oblivious look on Gerard's face. “You actually believe we can call each other every night, like nothing has changed?”
Gerard shrugged. “Nothing has to, if we don’t want to. It’s just distance, Cristiano. No need to get so worked up about that,” he said.
Cristiano stood up from the couch in a sudden movement. “Just distance? Geri, you don’t understand. This is Real Madrid and Barcelona we’re talking about,” Cristiano insisted. “Even Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernandez have trouble staying friends, and they have known each other since fucking forever.”
Gerard also stood up from the couch, enveloping Cristiano in another hug, but the smaller man wrestled out of his arms. “Aren’t you convinced that our friendship is more than all this?” Gerard insisted when Cristiano took a step back.
“Come on, Geri. You know that I love you. You know I do—but please, please stay realistic. You’re a left-back and I am a left-winger. We are ordered to play against each other in the most horrible games,” Cristiano said, his eyes filling up again even though he was the one saying the truth. He loved Gerard, but the older man was a dreamer and always saw the best in everything. But he couldn’t let himself be convinced by his friend this time, because that would only hurt more in the end.
Gerard saw Cristiano moving back until his back hit the wall, and he closed his eyes. He sank down onto the couch again, trading his fingers through his hair, the silence heavy between them.
Cristiano broke it like glass with his sudden words. “I’ll miss you. So much.”
Gerard looked up, seeing Cristiano with his hands before his eyes, rubbing the tears away. “Geri, how am I supposed to do this without you?” he exclaimed, punching his fist against the wall.
Gerard stood up from the couch, taking Cristiano’s hands in his own. “Keep in touch with me,” he whispered.
Cristiano closed his eyes, a frustrated groan escaping his lips. “That’s not enough! I need your humour, your crazy ideas. The way you hug me out of the blue without any reason. I need that, Geri,” Cristiano insisted.
“I need that, too, Cris,” Gerard whispered, inching closer, their chests almost touching. He felt Cristiano’s shallow breaths on his lips, and he kept eye contact with his friend. “I need your voice,” Gerard continued. “The way you say my name with your accent. That weird food you always make whenever we win and I eat it just because it makes you smile and I love… I love seeing you smile.”
When Cristiano closed the distance between them, everything went hazy for a second, and Gerard kept his eyes open in shock, staring at his friend when he pulled back.
Cristiano was on his toes, and slowly stood again, a blush staining his wet cheeks. “Sorry,” he muttered, his eyes still on Gerard’s lips as he licked his own.
“Wh..Why?” Gerard whispered, confusion whirling in his heart.
“Because tomorrow I can’t anymore. I won’t get another chance… so, tonight. Tonight’s our last night together, no barries,” Cristiano said, his hands at Gerard’s sides, fingers curling in the fabric of his shirts.
“Tonight,” Gerard echoed, his hands sliding in Cristiano’s neck, cupping his face. This time Gerard closed his eyes before he felt the soft feeling of Cristiano’s lips against his own, and he deepened the kiss right away.
They both didn't remember falling next to each other onto the bed, but when Cristiano woke up in the middle of the night, Gerard’s arms wrapped protectively around his body, he lied awake from that hour until the sun peeked out over Manchester again.
Their goodbye is silent, just a hug and a promise to call at least once a week.
And after that… one became a madridista, and the other one became a culé.