He went up and down, from one side of the big windows in the living room to the other and then back again. Sergio couldn’t even tell how long he was doing it. He completely forgot about time, the world outside the window, everything. All he could feel in this moment was anger. Anger and hate… maybe the hate was even stronger. He hated himself , the whole situation about being injured and out, most of all feeling helpless, trapped inside his own house. It was not like he couldn’t leave it, but where should he go? The team was in the ukraine and had just taken a bad defeat against a club they should easily have beaten.
Maybe they would have, if he would have been there. But he wasn’t. Because he was injured and out of reach. There was no chance of helping the team and even with him here in Madrid, miles and miles away from the pitch, he felt the bitterness of not being able to give his everything for the team… for the club… for their dream!
It was possible that him being able to play against Donezk would not have changed anything, but his head told him that it was his fault. His fault being injured and out. If he would have been there, he could have stopped Denthino from scoring, he could have headed the ball in, let it hit the back of the net. At least that was it what his head kept telling him. Again he changed the direction and left the window to his right side now. A loud scream of frustration and anger fought its way out and into the silent of the house. Pilar and the boys were up in the bedroom fast asleep and suddenly Sergio felt the urgent feeling of loneliness. A feeling deep and hurting, letting his heart ache.
Again there was a sound into that deep and heavy silence around him. This time it was the low but harsh sound of suffering and then another scream when he hit his fist to the wall next to the windows. It took him a minute to realise the pain was no longer inside of his heart and his whole body but concentrated in the fist that he could barely open.
Impulsive… that had always been one of his bad habits. One that brought him and his teammates a lot of trouble in the past. Combined with his temper it was all too close to explosion all the time. Sometimes a little word was enough for him to turn the red lights on and go all wild on the pitch… and sometimes even beneath it.
With a soft and quiet sigh he let himself fall to the ground, leaning with his back against the cold glass of the window. The hurting hand was lying on his knees and with the other he searched for his phone. It took him a second to unlock the screen with only one hand, then he placed it in his lab and scrolled through his messages. There were a lot from his team mates. One by Karim who wanted to apologise for letting him down and not being the captain the team needed tonight. At least two or three by Lucas and Marcelo each. Sergio ignored them, only took time to read the one that came from Luka. The croatian didn’t apologise, he didn’t try to find words to defend himself or the whole team. He only told him the one thing Sese already knew. „You are missing behind me.“
His heart was feeling like it was pressed into a much smaller body and it took him some minutes to get back to normal breathing.
He scrolled further through his history of conversations with friends and family. None of them would really understand how he was feeling at the moment. For a short period of time his finger was hovering over the conversation with Cristiano. He would understand, but he was gone and their relationship not as close anymore, as it had been when they were both playing for Real. Too much distance, too many words said between them…
The last message was sent months ago and even though Sergio felt the urgent need to talk to someone, someone who understands the feelings inside of him, he closed the conversation and scrolled further through the contacts until he found the one person… He was not sure he really searched for this name, but when he saw it between all the others he suddenly knew he was the only one he wanted to talk to.
It took him minutes to write the message. Words forming in his head. He typed, then deleted everything and started over again, all with only one hand, the other still pulsing with pain from his stupid explosion of temper. Finally he just pressed the button to send the message.
He knew it was not the best beginning after they hadn’t talked in months. Actually not since he was back from japan and Sese wasn’t expecting much, even with Fernando being the only one he really wanted to talk to right now. It was his fault… He had been sad, broken and maybe as always too much tempered when his friend told him that he was leaving for japan. After that they only sent messages once in a while and Sergio still felt his heart aching, when thinking about Fernando.
Hey. Did something happen? Is everything okay?
Even after all these months of silence and the way Sergio acted when Nando left - left him - he was worried and right there when needed. The andalusian could feel his heart stop a beat and then start to beat fast and hard.
No… Nothing is okay. I think I broke my hand.
A few minutes passed again, then his phone started ringing in his hand. He swallowed hard, his hand shaking with the phone in it, while he tried to take the call.
“What happened?”, was the first question from his friend, before he could even say hello or anything at all. The soft voice, the too familiar sound of it made Sergio shiver. He missed the sound of Fernandos voice so much.
“I hit it against the wall in the living room…” His voice was quiet and thin, the words slowly dropping from his lips. Sergio closed his eyes and let out a deep sigh. It was like he was knowing what would happen next.
“What the hell, Sergio?”
The voice on the other end of the line seemed a bit harsh and cut through the silence of his living room.
Another sigh, then silence for a few seconds.
“I was angry… frustrated…”
“And then you decided that hurting yourself would be a good idea?”
His friend's voice was soft again, even when the words were not. He was right, as Fernando was always right.
“I did not think it through. It was just… I exploded…”
Another moment of silence. Sergio waited for his friend to say anything, but there was just this absorbing silence, that let his heart beat fast in fear.
“We lost… They lost because I was not there to help them.”
“You’re texting me after all these months because your team lost and you couldn’t control yourself?” The voice was still soft but Sergio could hear something close to anger lingering behind. Fernando had every right to be angry and more than that disappointed. But he called him, didn’t he?
“Listen Fernando…” He stopped for a second to get new air into his lungs, which were hurting like the rest of his body. It took him one.. two… seconds until he figured out what to say. “I’m sorry…” Again he stopped. His voice simply broke in the middle of the sentence and he swallowed hard again. His eyes still closed, he was leaning against the window, starting to shake slightly, because of all the feelings overwhelming him.
“I’m so sorry I never called. I… I didn’t know what to say. I was still hurt, because you left and… I miss you.”
It was as simple as that, but it took him all this time, a lost match, a - maybe - broken hand to realise that he missed his friend, missed him not only as his friend, but as his lover, as the one person understanding him even without words needed. When Fernando left he wasn’t able to cope with the new situation. The only way of dealing with this deep longing for his friend, who had left, now living on the other end of the fucking world, was to cut off everything. He sent messages back, but Nando had to start the conversation every time, until they did not write anymore. Sergio thought his friend was just tired of always being the one initiating the conversation. He never took any effort in getting back to talk. There were missed calls, messages, that told him that Fernando would come back to spain, that he would stop playing professional football and Sergio sent a short message back, posted a picture of both of them on his social media accounts, but never called his friend. He couldn’t, afraid that he would fall for him again, that everything - the time, that had passed, the distance between them, him being all silent - didn’t work out and in the end he had just hurt Nando for nothing at all. Had hurt himself for nothing.
There was a long silence. Sergio was sure that Fernando would not answer. It would have been only fair, if he just hung up. It was selfish to call him only when he was hurt and bleeding on the floor and needed someone to pick him back up again and he knew it, but still he was hoping that Fernando would forgive him.
“Temple of Debod. In half an hour.” And just like that Fernando hung up.
Sergio sat there not moving, shocked for a second. He never thought that he would actually give him the chance to meet him. Not tonight… never actually. Slowly he opened his eyes, not sure if he just dreamed the call, then he started moving. He got up from the floor. His hand was still hurting, but he ignored it, just went to the hallway, grabbed his jacket and the keys for the car and left the house.
It took him more like the thirty minutes Fernando gave him. The traffic lights cut through the darkness, when he got closer to the city. Madrid was filled with lights. It was almost christmas.
The cold made small clouds out of his breathing, when he reached the parking lot and got out of the car, afraid that Fernando was already gone, because he was too late. Too late again! He should have stopped Fernando in the past… He should have told him how he was feeling instead of deleting him from his life entirely.
But with the second blink he found his friend, leaning against his car casually, arms crossed in front of his body and a shiver went down Sergios spine. He was shaking again, when he made a few careful steps to reach Fernando.
“Nando…”, he said softly. In his dark chocolate brown eyes tears started to rise, when he reached out, and tried to take his friend’s hand. For a second the older one just stared at the hand, then he shook his head. “Walk first”, he said with a sharpness that let Sergio freez in his jacket.
Nonetheless he followed his friend up the path to the temple, where the whole city was at their feet. They met here in the past, often when they both were happy or sad, when they had a reason to celebrate or when they just missed each other. They had been here, when Fernando told him that he would leave for japan. After that Sergio never came back here. It didn’t feel right without Fernando.
“Nando listen… I’m sorry. I… I had no right to text you… I…” He stopped, not sure what to say. Not sure why his friend even wanted to meet him, after all this time, that he went just silent. He took a glance towards the lights of the city. It felt like all the people, the streets, every house in the city was lying to their feet. Like the sky fell down and all the stars were shining from down there. His eyes focused for a little while on the familiar view of his city. The city that was a home for him just as much as for Fernando, then he looked up again, searching for the familiar warmth of the brown eyes of his friend.
“You have no right. That’s true!” The words were cold, but in the brown eyes Sergio could see the pain and the feelings he had in his heart as well. “But I missed you too!”
Sergio gasped, tried to calm himself. He held his breath, not sure if he would just fade away, when he tried to move, say something or only breath. He was not sure what to say. What would be the right thing to say after all the time they passed only hurting each other? Mostly him hurting the older one.
“I…”, he said breathlessly, carefully getting closer to the other man, taking his hands, that were lying on the cold stone of the balustrade in front of him and reaching out for his friend. This time Fernando did not stop him from touching his shoulder, but he turned his head away now staring into nowhere, or maybe focusing on some of the lights down in the city.
“I didn’t know what to do without you”, Sergio finally managed to say between two deep sighs. “I didn’t like the thought of you being on the other end of the world but I knew you had to go… So I thought everything would be easier if we just stop seeing each other, talking, texting… I thought it would also stop my feelings for you…”
“And did it…” Fernando paused in the middle of the question, turned his head again and looked at him. “...stop your feelings?”, he managed to say, sounding like he had screamed all day, his voice scratchy and almost breaking.
“No! Never… Not a single second of every day you were gone.”
They talked for a long time after that. Only when Sergio began to shiver, because of the cold air around them they decided it would be better to leave. They walked back to the cars in silence. Sergio was still feeling sick because of letting his team down, still was worried for their future, but everything seemed a little less dark and cold. There was light on the horizon somewhere.
When they reached the cars Sergio let out a heavy sigh. He lingered around the black car Fernando had driven here and looked to his friend, the dark eyes filled with questions still unspoken. He bit his lip, lowered his eyes and tried to find the right words, but as always Fernando was faster. He took his hand, the one still hurting, but not as painful, as in the beginning. For a second only their fingers were touching softly, then he pulled him into a hug, his hand panning the back of his head, slowly stroking through his hair. Another sigh escaped Sergios lips and he looked up, to find the shyly looking eyes he always loved.
His hands went up, covered the cheeks covered with all those beautiful freckles. Another deep look into those eyes, then he went closer and brushed Fernandos lips softly with his. “Please… please Fernando. Never leave me again!”
And then - in that moment in between the darkness of the parking lot - he realised that losing a game was nothing compared to losing someone that means the world to you.