Actions

Work Header

i was so ahead of the curve (the curve became a sphere)

Work Text:

The first time Jamie Tartt meets Roy Kent, Jamie is 14 years old. He’s just made the Manchester City youth squad, and Roy is fresh off of winning the Champions league with Chelsea. Manchester City is playing Chelsea, and quite honestly, Jamie is torn. Manchester City is his team. He plays for the youth squad, and it’s the team he wants to play for when he’s old enough. It’s the team he’s always cheered for.

But Roy Kent is the best player in the Premier League, captain of the England squad, and someone that Jamie really looks up to. He’s his fucking idol.

So he’s not mad when Chelsea wins, courtesy of two goals from Kent himself. He at least tries to save face by not cheering for the goals or singing he’s here he’s there he’s every-fucking-where in front of his teammates.

He does, however, dodge them to go round by the buses and try to catch a glimpse of Roy Kent. It turns out that Roy is one of the world’s most beautiful humans that Jamie has seen up close and personal. Jamie tries to file that thought away for later.

He manages to do more than catch a glimpse and Roy actually comes up to him.

“Hey kid,” Roy says. “Nice shirt.” Jamie had forgotten he was wearing his Man City shirt, as he’d gone to the match with the other lads. “I’m not signing that.” It’d be rude if it were anyone other than Roy Kent.

“I - uh. Oh, it’s mine. I’m on the youth squad.” Jamie manages to string out a sentence but he feels dumb. He’s almost never at a loss for words, but right now he’s a bit star struck.

“Right.” Roy nods. “What’s your name?”

“Jamie. I’m Jamie.”

“Nice to meet you, Jamie. Are you any good?”

“They all tell me I am.” Jamie grins. He’s proud that he’s so good. He loves hearing all of the adults around him talk about how he’s going to make the Premier League some day. “No one works harder.”

“Keep that up, kid.” Roy nods his head. “Maybe you’ll be here one day.” He holds up his pen. “Did you want me to sign something?”

“I don’t - can we just do a picture instead?”

“I reckon we can do that. Let go then.”

Jamie pulls out his phone and they do a little selfie before Roy excuses himself to go meet another, younger kid down the line.

Jamie doesn’t really have a word for the feeling in the pit of his stomach.

++++

The second time Jamie meets Roy Kent he’s 21, and they’re on the pitch. He’s playing his first match with Manchester City. Roy is older now, playing for the eternally mediocre AFC Richmond, and Jamie has the chance to play against one of his idols. He thinks about the bedroom back home at his mum’s house that probably still has a Roy Kent poster on the wall.

This is a moment in his life he’s waited so long for. He’s on the bench for most of the match, but he gets to go out at the 83rd minute when someone gets hurt. His nerves are going mad, not that he would ever admit to having any sort of nervous energy whatsoever.

He gets the ball and starts moving down the pitch. He can vaguely sense that someone is behind him and when he turns his head he can see Roy Kent charging for him, trying to catch him.

Jamie scores because Roy fails to catch up with him.

Jamie Tartt scores on Roy Kent.

He can hear Roy swearing as he slides to the ground but Jamie is suddenly surrounded by teammates and he’s on the ground.

It’s his first goal in the Premier League and he scored on Roy Kent. The great Roy Kent.

Jamie has never felt more alive.

++++

Jamie faces off against Roy a few more times through the years, but the next time he meets Roy properly he’s 23.

Jamie gets sent to Richmond on loan and he’s angry. They’re mid-table, and he knows he can do good there because they’re mediocre at best and they need someone great to give them some life. He’s going to be the best player on that squad, but it doesn’t seem fair. He scores every time he’s on the pitch, which admittedly isn’t often enough with City, but he doesn’t want to be stuck on a squad with a bunch of nobodies and an aging Roy Kent. He wants to get the kind of minutes he knows he’ll get playing for Richmond, but he wants to get them playing for Manchester City, his childhood team.

Somewhere deep inside he’s excited to play with Roy. Despite feeling like he’s being punished, this is something he thought about when he was younger - playing with someone you looked up to is something not everyone gets to do. Despite that, he feels angry; he feels like he doesn’t belong here.

Besides, his dad tells him it’s a good move, that he’ll get more time on the pitch playing for a team like Richmond, and he’ll be the one to get them closer to the top. They’ll be chanting his name until he can show Man City what a mistake they’re making.

He still feels like he’s being punished.

It’s his first day on the squad and he keeps expecting at least the smallest bit of fanfare. They’re lucky to have him, afterall.

The manager barely introduces him and most of the squad gives half-hearted waves. There’s no energy in the room at all, no spark. Jamie can already feel that this is hopeless. He wants to prove himself though, knows he’s good enough to play for a team like Man City. He doesn’t want to be here, but at least he can be the best.

Roy Kent comes into the room, and he’s much older now than the first time they actually spoke anything more than passing insults on the pitch. Jamie is not starstruck. That feeling in the pit of his stomach is just. It’s nothing. He knows Roy isn’t the player he used to be, and Jamie can score on him easily. It’s just, maybe he spent a good bit of his early career wanting to be like Roy Kent.

Sometimes he would pretend Roy remembered him, or at least admired his play type.

Roy does not. He barely gives Jamie a second look and turns to one of the other older players on the team and says something about fucking kids. There’s no sage advice or welcome to the team. Roy seems immediately resentful of Jamie being here at all.

To Jamie’s credit, he covers it. To anyone else it doesn’t look like he even notices Roy at all, and he decides from then on to just pretend that’s not literally the player he looked up to growing up.

He’s better anyway, and he’s going to prove it. He’s going to show everyone.

++++

He meets Keeley and honestly, he doesn’t date people. It’s so much more fun just to sleep with them and move on. But Keeley is nice and she’s pretty and she smells like sweets. He just likes being around her.

She tries to make him better, even when he goes kicking and screaming. Plus the sex is fantastic, and he doesn’t want to give it up after just one go.

He’s never really had a girlfriend before, not one that he just sees exclusively or even wants to see exclusively. He’s never had the time or attention span. He knows everyone is waiting for it to blow up in his face, but he honestly wants it to work with her.

He’s never wanted that with someone before.

++++

The day the rodeo clown shows up, Jamie knows this is going to explode in everyone’s faces. He’s honestly biding his time until he goes back to City at this point. He knows Richmond is a trainwreck.

It’s just, well, everyone likes Ted, and there are times when it seems like maybe someone in this organization actually understands how good he actually is. Kent starts acting even more like he owns the place, bossing him around and trying to make him stop giving Nate a hard time.

Other than that, though, Jamie actually starts to feel appreciated.

It’s disgusting, honestly. He belongs on a better team, a winning team.

But despite himself he’s starting to like these people.

Not that he can ever ever show it.

Even after he has an actual conversation with Roy the night of the auction.

Even after he completely fucks things with Keeley, like everyone knew he would.

Even after he gets a bit of friendly competition going with Rojas.

Especially after the night of the cleanse when he goes home happy and high off of the fumes of plastic burning and good tequila and Richmond til I die playing on repeat in his head.

Even after --

His phone rings and his agent tells him he’s going back to City.

Fucking Lasso.

+++++

After he assists the goal that secures AFC Richmond’s relegation, after he effectively ends the Great Roy Kent’s career, everything is a lot less fun, and Jamie can’t figure out why. He loves winning and that’s what he does with Manchester City.

They win the whole fucking league. He should be celebrating.

He goes home after they win their final game of the season and the team is presented with the trophy; he skips the parties, turns down a couple of texts from people offering to hook up. And he drinks alone. There’s something that doesn’t feel so great about it all, and he’s only managed to finish half a beer all night. He’s staring at the big screen tv, his own face on the screen, talking about how excited he is to have played his part in their final win.

He’s not happy. His dad had pulled him aside again, given him a shout for not taking the glory on himself. Jamie always thinks what if this is the time I fight back?

He never ever does. Tonight he didn’t even have the energy to respond at all.

He’s got a card on his table, a little green American soldier sat on top of it. He doesn’t even know why he kept it. It’s a toy. It’s a mind game. He doesn’t believe Lasso actually cares about him.

He thinks about it a lot though, how that last night at AFC Richmond he had felt a bit like he was at home, how Keeley says Lasso hadn’t wanted rid of him.

Keeley tells him he stands in his own way a lot, and he’s not really entirely sure what she means by that because he’s 23 years old and a millionaire without a lot of obstacles and he’s, like, great.

But he also knows he should be partying with Phil and Raheem right now, and he’s sitting in his big empty house, staring at a fucking toy instead. He’s sitting here thinking about his ex-girlfriend, thinking about Roy fucking Kent who may never play again, thinking about fucking rodeo clown yee-haw sweet tea barbecue sauce not in Kansas anymore Ted Lasso and AFC Richmond.

“Fuck this.” He tosses down the green figurine and picks up his keys.

++++

Jamie drives. He’s not really sure where he’s going until he’s well out of Manchester, halfway to London. He hadn’t considered that it’s a four and a half hour drive and it’s well past midnight after a long day.

That’s how he ends up parked in the services right outside of fucking Birmingham, sleeping in his car, at nearly 3AM. He’s not sure why he doesn’t just go back into the city and get a room, but this seems as good as anything else right now. He just wants to rest his eyes before he either keeps going or wakes up and comes to his senses and goes right the fuck back to Manchester.

It feels like he’s only asleep for about two seconds but he opens his eyes to the bright light of the sun shining in his face. The car park is full now with families and loud groups all around. Jamie’s thankful for the tinted windows. He isn’t fully in the mood for any kids to come up and ask for pictures.

He does a quick stretch and then turns the car on. He realizes that he could change his mind now and go back home. No one would ever know that he’d had a sort of breakdown at nearly midnight after winning the Premier League. He’s got a bunch of text messages off his teammates just asking why he didn’t show himself last night. He could go to the club today, hang out, act like he’s the same as he was yesterday and the day before and the day before.

Somewhere in his mind he hears Keeley’s voice telling him he doesn’t want that, not really, and he’s angry with her probably for the first time ever. No one ever really gave a shit before her if he just coasted through life with a chip on his shoulder, everything to prove, and nothing to lose. He’ll make it a point to tell her about it later.

He’s not even sure what’s changed in the last twelve hours. Or maybe it’s been longer than that. Maybe this has been building for months.

He rolls his eyes at himself and these fucking feelings. He much prefers kicking balls around and not thinking about things. It’s easier to be emotionally stunted.

Jamie likes easy. Jamie likes being a simple lad who’s good at football and doesn’t have much to say about anything else.

He’s sat in his car debating which way to go when he mumbles to himself. “Fuck.” He pulls out his phone and shoots a text message to Keeley.

This is all your fault. He doesn’t expand or elaborate, just throws his phone down and heads for London.

++++

By the time he gets to London he has missed texts from the City captain and missed calls from his dad, respectively asking if he’s okay, the team had mentioned they hadn’t heard from him, and asking where the fuck he is.

He doesn’t respond to anyone, not even Keeley. She’s texted back as well, just a bunch of confused faces, and he knows he should give her some sort of explanation but there’s something he really has to do first.

It’s the one thing that’s been weighing on him the most heavily, besides not understanding what Ted Fucking Lasso is trying to do to him.

He pulls into the driveway of the large house. There’s only one other car, so at least he can be fairly certain Roy is alone. This is going to be hard enough with just the two of them, and he won’t be able to handle it if there’s an audience.

He rings the buzzer and there’s no answer so he rings it again.

And again.

And ag-

“Fuck’s sake, I’m - “ The door swings open and Roy stops mid sentence and just grunts. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

“I’m sorry.” Jamie mumbles it out, not meeting Roy’s eyes. He had meant to say it with confidence, because he means it. But here he is and he feels like shit because he probably ended Roy’s career.

“What was that?”

“I said I’m fucking sorry, alright.” This part is easy. It’s easy to be a shit and fight with Roy. “Guess you’ve started to lose your hearing.”

“Well you started off well.” He steps aside from the door, letting Jamie come inside. Jamie is more than a little surprised. “Well come in before I change my mind.”

“Right.” Jamie steps inside.

“Shouldn’t you be waking up with three women, still drunk from celebrating your big win? That’s what I would be doing if I were still 23 and had both of my knees.”

“Yeah, I guess I should be.”

“Right.” Roy pauses. “And instead you came here. To apologize?”

“I didn’t mean to fuck your knee.”

Roy sighs deeply. “This fucking kills me to say, Jamie, but that wasn’t your fault. As much as I’d love to make you grovel, I can’t let you blame yourself for - “

“Ending your career?”

“Cheers for that.” He turns to walk into the kitchen without inviting Jamie to follow, but Jamie assumes that it’s okay to do so. “I’m not offering to make you tea. The kettle is there if you can be arsed to make your own.” He sits back at the table. “And I’m most definitely not fucking feeding you. There’s scones on the counter.”

“I hate scones.”

“I know.”

Jamie shrugs and sits across from Roy at the table. He wants to make tea just for something to do with his hands, but it feels awkward to do that in Roy’s kitchen - even if Roy had actively invited him to.

Roy is just sitting there, sipping his tea and looking at Jamie. “So is that what you drove 5 hours for?”

“No.” Jamie scowls. “I - Maybe.” There’s a slight pause and he stands. “I should go. Thanks for - “ He pauses. “Well, nothing.”

“You’re a terrible guest.” Roy says. “Sit down, Jamie. I know you didn’t drive all the way to London to apologize to me for something that wasn’t even your fault.”

There’s a lot that Jamie could say, but he doesn’t know where to start. He hates his new found self-awareness more than he ever hated Roy Kent.

“You’re right, grandad. I have other things to do. People to see, you know. I’m very popular. People love me.”

“And yet you drove 5 hours to see me.”

“No.” Jamie twists up his face. That’s not exactly what happened. He’d been sitting alone thinking about a lot of things. Roy just happened to be the part he’d fixated on. It was the guilt. “Stop acting like you know me, old man.”

“Hey, you came here. You’re free to leave.”

“Right then.” He nods. “I’ll, uh. See you around.” He turns to see himself out.

 

+++++

He winds up at Keeley’s, and she’s happy enough to let him crawl into her guest room and go to sleep after he tells her what happened. He doesn’t know what’s wrong with him, but he doesn’t try to get her into bed. He knows that’s not what they do anymore, and it’s a bit weird because he’s never really been friends with a girl before.

Especially not one that he’d had a lot of really mindblowing sex with with.

Keeley is different. Special.

He wakes up a few hours later to the smell of coffee and something that smells like supper wafting up the stairs. For a moment he’s confused because he lives alone and he feels like it should be morning, when the last 24 hours come rushing back to him.

This time yesterday he had just finished winning the Premier League but was dodging his teammates' pleas to come out with them. He picks up his phone and he has a handful of text messages but he doesn’t read any of them. He’s not even sure what he’d say.

I skipped out on team partying because I was having some sort of a weird break down and had to see my old old teammate for reasons i can’t quite explain even to myself is really hard to convey in a text message and no emoji really fits.

He makes his way downstairs to find Keeley in front of the oven, two coffees on the table.

“Are you hungry?”

“I s’pose.” He sits in front of one of the coffees and takes a sip. “How long was I out?”

“Just a few hours.”

“I should probably go back home in the morning.”

“I s’pose.” She turns around and smiles at him and then comes over and puts a plate in front of him, sitting across the table with her own plate. “So, you came all the way here to see Roy then?”

No. I came to - I had all of these thoughts in my head. They were confusing. Manchester just - “ He twists up his face. “It’s weird because that’s where I’m from but ever since Richmond, it doesn’t feel - “

“Like home?” Keeley isn’t hiding her smile very well. “You know, everyone here likes you, Jamie. You just get in your own way.”

“I was sent away.” He pokes his chicken with his fork and generally just plays with the food on his plate. “I was never really appreciated at Richmond after Lasso showed up - “

“Not true, but continue.”

“We won the league yesterday, and I didn’t even want to celebrate. I’ve felt a bit shit ever since we knocked Richmond down and I fucked Roy’s knee.”

“You have feelings, Jamie. It’s okay to be aware of them.”

“I don’t like it. This is your fault, you know. I never felt things before you.”

“I’m happy to take that credit.” She pauses. “Roy’s knee isn’t your fault. It was bothering him before that day, and it was only a matter of time, but I’m sure he told you that.”

“Not exactly.”

“This is a good thing. It’s good to see you thinking about other people.”

“I’m glad someone is enjoying it.”

“Eat your chicken, Jamie.”

Jamie does. He’s tired of talking.

++++

He’s glad the season is over because he doesn’t really feel like going back up to Manchester. He’s spent a couple of days holed up in Keeley’s guest room, and he keeps hearing her talk to someone in hushed tones on the phone. He can only guess that it’s Roy. They’re probably talking about Jamie.

He doesn’t know why he cares.

“Will you be okay for a few hours?”

“Going out?” He raises an eyebrow.

“Maybe. Are you going to be okay?”

“I’m not a child, Keeley.” He kind of doubts that himself, and he can tell by the look on her face that she does too. “And I’m just a bit - “

“I’m worried about you, Jamie.”

“Don’t be.” He doesn’t understand why she’s worried. It’s not like he’s really having a breakdown. He just fled his home to come hide in Keeley’s guest room and he’s avoiding everyone else that he knows. “Who were you talking to?”

“Nobody.”

“I thought it was Roy.”

She slow blinks. “Why would it be Roy?”

“Talking about me, I reckon.”

“Neither of those things are true, and I was talking to the person I’m going out with, and no I am not telling you who it was.” She gives him a challenging look, as if daring him to ask her more. He doesn’t dare.

For one, she’s a bit scary when she means business.

He also still thinks whoever she was talking to, it was about him.

“Jamie, I promise you. Not everyone is out to get you. You can stay here as long as you want, and I’m not going to force you to talk about anything you don’t want to talk about. I hope that you respect me in the same way.”

“Yeah, of course.” Jamie nods. He’s a bit confused, but there’s nothing really new there. “I’ve been ignoring everyone. I don’t want to talk to them.”

“You should probably at least give people a sign that you’re alive.” She smiles a little. “I’ve got to go. Make yourself at home.”

She grabs her bag and jacket and heads out.

Jamie decides if he’s going to let people know he’s alive, he’ll do it the right way.

++++

Everyone had been confused or upset that he hadn’t gone out for a huge celebration, so that’s what he does. He finds a club and he goes and buys drinks for everyone. The plan is to get shitfaced and maybe drunk dial someone he knows in London for a quick shag, but he barely gets a couple of beers in him before he spots some of his old teammates in the VIP section. He’s sure they know he’s there but they’re not approaching him, and he doesn’t know if he’s allowed to approach them.

Not that he feels bad about anything he said in the press. It was all true.

He ducks out before he makes a fool himself and decides that, yes, he needs to go talk to Isaac and Colin.

He knows Keeley isn’t home, but he doesn’t want to be alone. There’s really only one option.

It’s less than an hour before he’s ringing the bell at Roy’s house.

The door swings open and Roy just stares blankly. “No.”

“Is Keeley here?” He’s pretty sure she’s not, but at least he can pretend there’s a reason besides I didn’t have anywhere else to go and I kind of just wanted to be at your house. “She took off earlier, and I thought she might be here.”

“Do you see her car? No, Keeley isn’t here.”

“Oh.” Jamie just kind of stands, waiting to see if Roy is going to let him in, but he doesn’t say anything. “I guess I’ll just go.”

If there’s one thing Jamie hates it’s not feeling sure of himself. He has no idea why he’s in London at all, let alone at Roy’s house.

“Jamie.” Roy sighs and nods toward the inside, walking away and leaving the door open.

Jamie looks behind him and ducks in, closing the door behind him. “I think I’ll head back north tomorrow.”

“Do you want to go back to Manchester tomorrow? Because it kind of sounds like you would rather do anything else.”

“I don’t know.” Jamie feels out of his depth. He feels like he’s on the edge of something, and he’s not sure whether to jump or run screaming in the other direction. Only he has no idea what that something could possibly be. “You’ve played for a lot of teams, right?”

“A few, yeah. I wouldn’t say a lot.”

Jamie rests back against the door, rather than going all the way in and sitting down. Making himself at home in Roy’s house just feels wrong and awkward. “I fucking hated it in Richmond.”

“Yeah.” Roy snorts. “No shit. Everyone knew you thought you were too good for us. You’re such a prick.”

“No, listen. Like. I’m good. I work hard, and I wanted to show everyone that I could carry the team, and it never felt like it was enough, especially not for the fucking Great Roy Kent. Do you know - “ he sucks in a breath. “I was excited to play with you, and you had already decided what I was. So that’s what I decided to be.”

“You’re not blaming me for you being a dickhead.” Roy snorts. “You were a prick long before you got to Richmond.”

“Whatever. Why am I even here?”

“That is the question.” Roy rolls his eyes. “Listen, Jamie, I’m sorry I didn’t kiss your feet when you showed up thinking you were going to be the savior of the team, but you were a fucking dickhead.”

“I get it. Anyway, that’s not the point. I hated it in Richmond because I got sent there and it felt like I was being punished, and I wanted to be the best. I was the best, and then Lasso showed up and acted like being good at football wasn’t good enough, but being good at football is all I know. Keeley tried to make me see that I could be more, and I fucked that up. Lasso tried to make me think I needed to be more, and I just - I don’t know. Ever since I was a kid, just being good at football has been all there was.”

“Why are you saying this to me, Jamie?”

“Maybe I just need to say it to someone. Maybe I hoped you would understand. I don’t know.”

Roy shrugs to himself. “Go on.”

“I don’t know. That’s it. I felt like I was getting there. The night before I got recalled I felt like maybe I could actually be a part of the team, you know. And then Lasso let me get sent back, and Manchester City is good. I know I should have been happy, but - “

“But you’re not the best at City, Jamie. You’re not even close.”

“I fucking know that, okay? Don’t you think I know that. I don’t get minutes in every match. It doesn’t really feel - I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t really feel like anything. Even winning the trophy, it didn’t really feel great. It felt like I was winning with the wrong team.”

“Your heart wasn’t in it. That’s why you’re here.”

“I guess that’s why I’m here. I guess I just worked that out.” His voice drops low and he looks at his feet. “Anyway, sorry I bothered you. I guess the way I am - “

“A bullshit cocky dickhead?”

“Yeah, that. I guess I just don’t really have - “

“Friends?” Roy raises an eyebrow. “I’m not -”

“Cheers.” He pushes back from the door. “I was aware. Just don’t tell the Daily Mail Jamie Tartt was in your house crying about how he doesn’t have any real friends. Thanks for nothing.” Jamie’s glad he never fully went inside because it’s easy to duck back out.

He doesn’t know where to go from here, maybe back to Keeley’s, maybe back to the club. He doesn’t really fancy another 5 hour drive in the middle of the night, so he ends up just driving around London for a bit.

He can’t believe he had ended up at Roy’s house, essentially whining about his life. He’s sure Roy’s going to have a field day later. Everyone’s going to love hearing how Jamie Tartt is a whiny little prick who feels sorry for himself when he’s a rich, talented, gorgeous football player who’s often surrounded by beautiful people - none of whom know the first fucking thing about him.

Why does he even care so much what Roy Kent thinks, anyway?

It’s 3am before he realizes he’s just been driving around for hours and could be halfway to Manchester if he had wanted to. For the second night in less than a week, Jamie finds a car park to pull into and sleeps in his car.

This is becoming too much of a habit.

++++

He wakes up to a loud tapping on his window and blinks awake, stretching his arms up high.

“I don’t want any, thanks,” he says, assuming that it’s someone offering to sell him something or ask for money.

“Jamie Tartt, open this car door right now.” He turns his head to see Keeley staring down at him, angry look on her face. “Do you have any idea how worried I was!?”

“What?” He screws up his face in confusion and opens the door. “What are you doing here?”

“Roy said you left his house, like, 12 hours ago? We’ve been looking everywhere. I was afraid you were dead somewhere.”

“We?” He looks around at her to see Roy leaned against her car, pretending to look in the other direction.

“What is going on with you, Jamie?” Her features soften, and she uncrosses her arms. “You have friends, you know. Even though you apparently don’t think you do.”

“I -” He looks at Roy, slightly betrayed that he even told Keeley what they talked about, but Roy just looks away again. “Sorry,” he says, quietly.

“You should be. I was about to start calling hospitals. We’ve been driving around for, like, 2 hours.” She goes around to the passenger side and hops inside his car. “We’re going to mine. Drive.”

“I don’t need a babysitter.”

“Just in the last week you’ve run away from home, showed up at Roy’s doorstep, fled, showed up at my doorstep, gone back to Roy’s in the middle of the night, and run away to sleep in a car park. You need a babysitter. Now drive.”

Jamie does what she says. He can see Roy following them in her car and wants to ask why. He can see her texting from the corner of his eye, and he knows it’s not Roy that she’s texting, but he daren’t ask who it is. She’s already angry.

“How did you even find me?”

“Well, I thought you’d be at the house when I got in and you weren’t. I wasn’t too worried because you know, you probably found someone else to meet up with. You were always good at finding someone else.” She shrugs. “But then Roy asked if you’d said anything after you got back last night, and I didn’t know what he was talking about. Your phone is dead, by the way. We both tried calling you and it was going straight to voicemail. Charge your fucking phone, Jamie, so your friends know you aren’t dead.”

“Roy Kent is not my friend.” It comes out a bit more hurt than intended.

“Not the point, Jamie. Also not true, but we’ll unpack that later. My point is, people need to be able to reach you, and you need to talk to us. You need to talk to me.”

“I - “

“When we get to the house, Jamie. Keep driving.” She doesn’t pause long. “I called Rebecca because she has connections, but mostly we just drove around until someone spotted your car. You can’t just disappear on people.”

The thing is, Jamie’s never had to think or worry about not disappearing on people. No one’s ever really cared all that much if they didn’t hear from him in a few days, not outside of people who work for the teams he’s played for anyway.

They get back to Keeley’s and go inside, with Roy not far behind them. He hands Keeley her keys and says something in her ear. She rolls her eyes and takes her keys. “Come inside, Jamie.”

He follows her as Roy goes back up the driveway and into his own car.

“Told you he wasn’t - “

“Shut up, Jamie.” She sits on the sofa and pats the spot beside her. “Sit.”

He does as she asks but just kind of looks around. He’s suddenly very aware of how much sleep he’s gotten and how long it’s been since he’s had a shower.

“Talk.”

“You just told me to shut up.”

She glares at him. “Why are you here, Jamie?”

“You forced me to drive here.”

“You know what I mean. Why are you in London? Why do you keep turning up on people’s doorsteps and then running from them?”

“You left me here yesterday, so I went out. I wasn’t having fun, but I didn’t fancy coming back to your empty house, so I went to the only person I could think of.”

“Who was Roy?”

“Yep.” He doesn’t elaborate, and he’s honestly not sure that he could if he wanted to.

“You’re going through something, aren’t you?”

“This is all your fault, you know. Before I met you I never felt anything besides just, like, knowing how great I am. You kept telling me I had potential and made me want to be better. You and fucking Ted Lasso, making me feel like just being good at football wasn’t good enough. All of the sudden it was like. I had to be a good teammate and that didn’t just mean scoring a ton of goals so we won games. I had to be a good boyfriend and a good person, and that’s just not me. It never has been. Roy knew it. Roy still knows it. He knew it the day I got to Richmond, and he’s still happy to tell me what a dick I am and how much we’re not friends.”

“Did he actually say that, Jamie?”

“Yes, he actually said that.” Jamie shakes his head. “Anyway, that’s not the point. I just want to go back to before.”

“Before when you were a proper dickhead who no one liked? Who didn’t like anyone else and constantly thought everyone was out to get him? Though, I’m not sure that’s changed.”

“Just back before - “ he waves his hands around - “before this. I liked just being good at football and not really worrying about how some old man feels if I smash his knee up.”

Keeley frowns. “Jamie, you’re becoming a better person. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“It’s confusing. I don’t really understand all of these emotions, like. All I’ve wanted since I was a kid was to be on a Premier League team where we win the whole fucking thing and everyone adores me, but it turns out it’s not much fun when you wanted to win it somewhere else. And my dad, my fucking dad. It’s still not good enough for him. I’m not good enough, and I’ll never be good enough. I won the league and I just kept thinking, if I hadn’t gotten recalled I could have been winning games with Richmond. I could have been partying with Isaac and Colin, and Ted would have been telling me how good I was, and Roy would still have his fucking knee, and everything would be less confusing.”

“So what you’re basically saying is that you’re angry at me for making you a better person, even though it’s actively made you a better person, and you’re angry with Ted for making you feel like you needed to be a good teammate as well as a good football player, even though now you want to be a better teammate as well as being good at football.”

“I - “

She mumbles something under her breath about Roy that he doesn’t quite catch.

“I’m only going to say this once, Jamie. You’re a good person. Stop feeling sorry for yourself about it.”

“Can’t I just pretend none of this ever happened, go back to Manchester, and never speak to any of you ever again?”

“Is that what you really want?”

“No, I suppose not.”

“I didn’t think so.” She’s quiet. “I know this is odd, your best friend being someone you spent a lot of time naked with, but I am, you know. You have friends.”

“Best friend, huh?” He pauses. “I have mates, you know. Lads on the team that I talk to, that I drink with and talk about girls with. No one I can talk about this stuff with.”

“Well you have me. And believe it or not, you have Roy.”

“Roy said - “

“Roy’s a dickhead like you.” She smiles. “You both just push each other’s buttons, but maybe you shouldn’t do that so much. Maybe now that you’ve figured out you actually want to be a better person, you should figure out why you keep winding up on Roy Kent’s doorstep.”

“I just feel guilty about his knee.”

“You know, not even Roy thinks that was your fault.”

“He said that too.”

Talk to him. I don’t mean go over there, ramble about nonsense, and then flee the scene. I mean talk to each other, like grown men.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Jamie’s already decided he won’t be doing that, but Keeley doesn’t challenge him on it. Instead she offers to make them lunch and then asks him if he’s going to stay a few more days.

He does.

++++

What he doesn’t do is talk to Roy again before he goes back up to Manchester. While he’s not really close to his teammates, and he’s not really sure City is the team for him anymore, he feels like he owes them at least going back up for the last few days before everyone leaves for the summer. There’s not anymore matches to play, but he needs to go back to the club to get his belongings until they go back next season. There’s some media stuff as well that he’ll need to be there for.

He also has a meeting with his agent. He doesn’t know if it’s going to come to anything, but talking to Keeley really made him come to the decision that he wanted to explore his options, especially if going back to Richmond was one of them.

He’s packing some things at home, thinking he might go stay down in London for a bit, when his dad shows up one day. He almost doesn’t answer the door at all, but he can’t bring himself to do that. He still wants his dad to be proud of him, despite everything.

His dad mentions that he heard a rumor Jamie was shopping other clubs and wanted to know why he wasn’t in the loop, and Jamie doesn’t have an answer for him. He just wants to do this on his own now. That’s not what his dad wants to hear and he leaves with mumbled assurances that Jamie is going to regret his decision.

Jamie doesn’t think he will.

++++

Jamie is officially signed to Richmond near the end of July. He doesn’t tell anyone, not even Keeley, because he doesn’t want to mess it up.

He still hasn’t talked to Roy, but Roy doesn’t play for the team anymore, officially having announced his retirement a few weeks earlier in the summer.

He’s rented a house until he can find something more permanent and he’s just getting settled when the news breaks and his phone starts ringing. Keeley is the first to call.

“You dick! Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Didn’t want to say anything until it was final, did I? Wanna come see my new place?”

“Are you here now?”

“I’ll text you the address.”

“Can I bring someone?”

“Not if it’s Roy Kent.”

“It’s not Roy, fuck off.” She laughs. “I’ll be there in a bit!”

It’s not long before his buzzer goes off and he stops unpacking clothes to open the door. It’s not Keeley.

Roy is standing there, all blank stare and gruff exterior. Jamie wasn’t expecting to see him and he gets this strange feeling in the pit of his stomach he can’t quite place. “I thought you were Keeley.”

“Do I look like fucking Keeley?”

“No, I - “ He makes a face. “I told her not to bring you.”

“What are you talking about? I haven’t even talked to Keeley.”

“Then how did you know I was here?”

“I still work for the team, dickhead. Also, it’s in the news that Jamie Tartt has signed with a Championship team. Can I come in, or are you going to make me stand out here?”

“Oh right, yeah. Come in.” He steps aside. “I’m not making you tea.”

“Didn’t ask, did I?”

“I guess not.”

“What made you come back?”

“Don’t know. A lot of things, I guess. Have you ever just felt like you belong somewhere? Like, it never feels as good when you’re anywhere else. I didn’t want to be here until I was somewhere else, and then I realized this was exactly where I wanted to be.”

“That sounds fucking ridiculous.”

“Cheers.”

Roy grunts a little. “Keeley’s coming over?”

“She is, yeah. She’s my best friend, you know.” He doesn’t know why he’s trying to compete with Roy over Keeley, like back when he was dating her and got angry every time they made a joke with each other about him. It just feels like the thing to do - compete with Roy. It’s one thing he hasn’t gotten out of his system.

“Don’t know why you’re telling me that.”

Jamie just shrugs and sits on the sofa. It’s his own house, and he’s an adult, and he rationalizes that it’s not rude to not offer Roy the same. If he wants to sit he can, but Jamie isn’t going to kiss his ass.

Roy sits on a chair at the opposite end of the room.

“What are you doing here?”

“Good question. You could never answer it either, when you kept turning up on my doorstep.”

“I was just going through some stuff,” he mumbles under his breath. “Don’t read too much into it. You were just the first person I thought of because I felt guilty, and because I looked up to you once and thought you might be able to - “ Jamie shakes his head. “Doesn’t matter. That’s all over now. I got there in the end.”

“I never said we weren’t friends.”

“You did.”

“No, I didn’t. That’s just what you heard.”

“You called me a dickhead.”

“You are a dickhead.”

“So are you.” Jamie can feel himself getting frustrated. He doesn’t know why Roy still makes him feel this way, twitchy and on edge.

“Okay, fair.” Roy snorts. “We’re both dickheads, then.” He pauses. “You know, if someone had asked me six months ago if we were friends, I would have said no. Fuck no, not that prick. But you turned up on my doorstep to apologize for something you didn’t even do. I never gave you enough credit.”

“What?” Jamie stares at Roy like he’s confused by what’s happening.

“I’m trying to apologize for being a prick. Keep up. You came to Richmond, and I knew players like you. Young enough to be playing in the Academy but good enough to be in the first team - knows he’s good enough and suddenly thinks because you’ve got a blessed right foot you don’t have to think about anyone else; you’re gonna save the fucking team and be the hero, but it’s not for anyone else. It’s just for yourself. You were a selfish prick, and I knew it.” He sighs. “Or, I guess I decided that before I even knew you. I was right by the way, but it still wasn’t fair. I should have given you the chance.”

“You should have.” Jamie says, calm. “But I get why you didn’t. I was a dick too. I always had too much to prove to too many people. I wanted to be the best because no one ever told me there was more than being good at football. Now I guess I understand there’s also being a good friend, a good person, a good teammate.”

“We are friends, Jamie.”

 

“Oh. Okay, good. Yeah. Good.” Something inside him feels like it’s doing backflips because even after everything there’s this little voice in his head saying Roy Kent says you’re his friend.

“Good.”

No one smiles and they don’t hug or even move the slightest bit closer to each other, but it feels like a step, anyway.

There’s a buzz from the door, and this time Jamie knows it is Keeley, unless fucking Ted Lasso has shown up at his door. He doesn’t know if he could handle that. “That’ll be Keeley.” He stands up to go let her in. If she wasn’t bringing Roy, he’s curious as to who she is bringing.

Jamie goes to let her in and Keeley wraps him in a hug. “Welcome home.” There’s a warm feeling deep in the pit of his stomach because that feels true. It feels like he’s home for the first time in a long time. They break apart and standing just behind Keeley is -

“Rebecca?” Roy pops his head around.

“Don’t stare, Roy.” Keeley smiles.

“This is who you’ve been sneaking about with?” Roy actually seems surprised, which makes Jamie feel a little better about not knowing.

“Do you have a problem with that?” She stares at him like she’s daring him to say something. “Because I cou-”

“Nope, no problems.”

“Your home is lovely, Jamie.” Rebecca speaks up, breaking up whatever is happening between Roy and Keeley.

“Thanks.”

“Let’s move this out of Jamie’s doorway, shall we?” Keeley and Rebecca go inside and Jamie finally does offer to make tea for the ladies.

He still makes Roy make his own.

++++

It becomes comfortable and familiar, having a group of mates he hangs out with when it’s not just going to the club to drink and pick up a quick shag. Sometimes it’s Keeley and Roy, or Keeley and Rebecca or just Keeley even. He doesn’t see Roy on his own for a while. It’s like since they’ve made peace with each other, there’s no real reason to keep popping up on each other’s doorsteps.

He sees Roy around the club when he’s there to train and they say hello. They don’t snipe at each other much anymore, not in a mean way, and it’s nice. Jamie’s never actually had people he didn’t feel like he was constantly on edge around, afraid he’d disappoint them or he wouldn’t be good enough in the end. Jamie’s never been a people pleaser, not in the way that he would change himself for them, anyway. But he prides himself on being the best, and it’s strange to have people who care about him and don’t expect him to be the best all the time.

He hasn’t heard from his dad since he signed with Richmond. He’s trying not to be affected by it.

It’s about a week before training officially kicks off for the next season, and Jamie’s just lifting weights, trying to make sure he’s as fit as he can possibly be. Isaac and Colin are running on the treadmills.

The thing is, Jamie hasn’t really talked to most of the team since he got back, half embarrassed about the way he acted now that he’s on the other side of it. He’s also more than a little afraid Isaac is going to punch him in the face. Roy had told him about the TV. He doesn’t fancy a chair being thrown at him in real life.

He nods in their general direction, and they wave half-heartedly but it seems like enough. At least they aren’t going to beat him to the ground. He finishes and goes to the showers and when he’s coming up Roy is chatting with Keeley down the hall. Jamie still isn’t sure if he’s allowed to interrupt, but they go quiet when they see him anyway and he feels a bit of a tit.

“Hey?”

“Hi, Jamie.” Keeley smiles at him in a refreshing way only Keeley can.

“Jamie.”

“Grandad.” Hey, he never said he couldn’t still be a thorn in Roy’s side.

Roy just kind of grunts and rolls his eyes, but there isn’t as much anger behind it as there would have been a few months ago.

“We were just going to grab a coffee. Did you want to come?”

If Jamie didn’t know any better, he would think Roy was desperately trying to convey something to Keeley through his eyebrows. He’s not very good at it though because she obviously doesn’t notice.

“I just finished up, so yeah. Sounds great.

“Great.”

“Is Rebecca coming?” It’s still a bit weird calling her Rebecca. To be honest, when Jamie was around the first time he never really spoke to her much at all. Even he was intimidated by her.

“Not today, no. She’s got a meeting with one of the team’s minority shareholders or something. She didn’t say, but I think it might be Bex.”

“The fit girl who’s having her ex-husband’s love child?” Keeley and Roy both give him a harsh look. “What? It was in The Sun!”

“Anyway, no, she’s not coming.” Keeley shakes her head at him. “Just the three of us, I’m afraid!”

There’s a tension in the air that Jamie doesn’t quite understand. He and Roy are fine now, so he can’t imagine it’s to do with him, but they had just been talking before he came up so it must be.

“You know, I think I’ll just go see if Colin and Isaac want to go out tonight. You two have fun.” Jamie figures he needs to bridge the gap with the rest of the team anyway, and something about Roy and Keeley is putting him off.

++++

He mends fences by taking the team out on the Saturday night before training for the season officially starts. He buys them all many rounds of drinks, despite having taken a reasonable pay cut when he came to Richmond from City. He figures he owes them.

Rojas gets wonderfully wasted and it turns out when he’s drunk he’s a massive hugger, even more so than when he’s sober. It’s hilarious, really, except when he’s trying to hug Jamie. Richard just starts rambling at everyone in French and no one knows what’s going on. He’s friendly with Colin and Isaac again, and it’s nice to feel like he’s a part of the team. Even when he went out with the lads in Manchester it never really felt like he was one of them. His heart was never there. This feels like home.

After about 4 drinks he starts to realize something is missing. Being out, drinking with the lads has always been part of Jamie’s life, and it’s always been fun, but he’s never had real friends who weren’t just teammates.

His friends should be here.

He pulls out his phone and opens iMessage and starts a group text to Keeley and Roy.

@ the club, many drinks on me he adds a row of pint emojis.

Keeley sends back the z’s emoji, and Roy just sends a simple no.

boring and old

He pockets his phone. He could find someone to go home with, but that doesn’t seem fun, and the hottest girl here is already chatting up Richard. He could probably duck out without anyone noticing, but he definitely can’t drive right now. He needs lots of water and for someone to go home with.

gonna drive myself home if someone doesn’t come drink with me

There, that will get Keeley here. She wouldn’t dare let him drive like this.

Get an uber and go sleep it off Keeley is absolutely no fun since getting all loved up. She used to be well up for a night out with him. Though, he supposes it was a bit different for them back then.

nope, gonna drive; he adds a car emoji to the end and pockets his phone before going up to the bar to order a water.

He spends some time watching the lads over in the VIP section. He really does like them. It’s a shame it took him so long to realize it. Someone taps on his shoulder and he turns to look at them.

“You’re Jamie Tartt.” It’s a cute blonde, long legs, tits out, bright red lipstick. “Wanna buy me a drink?”

He knows 6 months ago he absolutely would have taken her up on it, but he kind of just wants to be drinking with his friends right now. He thinks about texting Keeley again. He knows Roy is a non-starter.

“Not tonight, love, but do you see that lad there?” He points out Colin. “He has a Lamborghini, and he’s very very single.”

She laughs and makes her way over, and Jamie figures he’ll have to tell Colin later that he owes him. He turns to the bar to order another beer, even though he kind of just wants to go. At this point he’s being stubborn about calling a car. He’s slept in his car before. He can do it again.

The bartender slides the beer in front of him but someone else’s hand wraps around it before he can take it.

“I think you’ve had enough, don’t you?”

Jamie looks over to see Roy standing next time. He’s wearing a t-shirt that looks like one he probably sleeps in, and it’s kind of tight and Jamie can’t really focus.

“Thought you weren’t coming, grandad.”

“Thought maybe you needed someone to save you from yourself.” He gets the bartender to bring Jamie a water. “Drink this and then I’m taking you home.”

Or, you could get yourself a drink and stay and have fun. I know it’s past your bed time because you’re old and have to be asleep before dark, but - “

“Shut up, Jamie. You’re off your fucking face. It’s sloppy.” It strikes a nerve Jamie didn’t even know he had.

“You’re not my dad, so fuck off.”

Roy sighs. “Jamie.”

“Roy.”

“I’m really not trying to be your fucking dad, alright. Just come home with me.”

Jamie blinks a couple of times. He’s sure that Roy didn’t mean it the way it sounded, right.

“Well if that’s what you - “

“Jamie.”

“Okay, okay. Lead the way.” He puts his hands up in defense.

He can feel the team watching his back, but he has to focus more on walking than on what this must look like to them.

++++

Jamie wakes up in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar room with a steaming cup of coffee next to the bed. He’s still fully clothed except for one of his shoes. He takes the coffee and steps out of the room. It looks more familiar once he gets down stairs.

Roy is in the kitchen making what smells like a full english.

“It’s fucking noon, so you’re lucky I didn’t wake you up four hours ago. You would have deserved it for what you pulled last night.”

Jamie only vaguely remembers texting Keeley and Roy and asking them to come out followed by both of them turning him down.

“How did I get here?”

“I kidnapped you.” Roy rolls his eyes and puts a plate down at the table. “You’re fucking eating that whether you want to or not because I cooked it.”

“Okay.” Jamie sits at the table and stabs at the eggs with his fork. “I only remember you refusing to come out.”

“And then you threatened to wrap your car around a tree unless either Keeley or me came to get you, so I did that. You fucking dickhead.”

“Aw, you really care about - “ Roy turns to glare at him, daring him to finish the sentence, so Jamie closes his mouth. “Thanks.”

“You’re such a prick.” Roy lets out a hollow laugh. “Every time I think maybe - you just. Fuck.” He sounds actually angry. Jamie hasn’t felt this much anger from Roy in a long time, and it makes him actually ashamed.

“I wasn’t really going to do that. I do know better.”

“I fucking hate mind games. I don’t like being tricked.”

“I’m - “

“I’m not finished.” Roy seems serious, and any other time Jamie would be a smart ass, but it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do this time. “You keep getting - people care about you, you little prick, and it’s not fair because you do this thing where you get really close to making it seem like - fuck.” He drops another plate down on the table and sits across from Jamie. “Just eat your fucking breakfast.”

Jamie is rarely speechless, but he doesn’t know what to say to Roy. Usually just some smart comeback does it, but Roy seems really frustrated and angry, and Jamie’s learned enough about himself and the people around him to know that it would be like poking a bear that’s already got his teeth out. He just eats his eggs.

“You’re going to hang out here with me watching tv until your blood is no longer 90 percent vanilla vodka, and then we’re going to take my niece for ice cream.”

“Okay.” Jamie is too ashamed and too hungover to question anything Roy is saying.

“Okay.”

They finish their breakfast in silence.

++++

It’s almost 4 before Jamie realizes this is the first time he’s really spent a lot of time with Roy without Keeley as a buffer. After breakfast was over Jamie had thrown on an old t-shirt and some trackies of Roy’s, so he wasn’t wearing last night’s club clothes to watch tv. It’s alright being here in Roy’s house, doing a lot of nothing.

They haven’t talked much because Jamie’s still slightly afraid of poking the bear but they’ve watched some tv and both of them make comments about what’s on and how stupid some of the people on the shows are. Jamie’s self-aware enough to know there’s something about this entire thing that he doesn’t quite understand.

“What time are we going to take your niece out?”

“Her mum is going to drop her off in about an hour.”

“When can I go home?”

“If you’re fucking dying to leave you can go. I’m not actually holding you hostage, Jamie.”

“No, I want - this is the first time we’ve really, I mean since we - “

“Words, Jamie.”

“Well, we decided we were friends, and then we just sort of only saw each other when we were either at work or Keeley was with us.”

“Because I find being around you fucking hard, Jamie.”

“Oh, well. I mean, if I’m so hard to be around - “

Roy makes a soft grunting noise and moves from the chair he’s sitting on to sit on the sofa beside Jamie. He’s suddenly very very close.

“Shut up.”

“You’re so confusing. You’re not my friend, and then you are my friend. And then you never want to be alone in a room with me and - “

“Shut up, Jamie.” And then Roy shuts him up.

By putting his mouth on Jamie’s. Jamie freezes for a moment before closing his eyes and kissing Roy back.

“Oh.”

“Right.” Roy turns back to the tv. “Do you still want to go home?”

“No.”

“Good.”

“Good.”

++++

Roy’s niece is the most fucking adorable human being Jamie has ever met. She’s also really excited to meet Jamie. Later Roy tells him she’s like that with everyone, but Jamie’s absolutely sure that’s not true.

They go for ice cream and walk around the park until it starts to get dark and then they take Phoebe home. Jamie gets to meet Roy’s sister, and it feels a little heavy. It feels really heavy. He’s not really sure what’s happening, to be honest.

They get back to Roy’s, and Roy kicks his shoes off. “Do you want dinner?”

“Are you cooking?”

“Of course I’m fucking cooking. Go find something on tv.”

Jamie thinks about googling how do you know if you’re on a date with your sort of fit older friend who up until today you didn’t even realized liked you very much Instead he texts that exact question to Keeley.

are you on a date with Roy????

That’s what I’m asking you.

maybe ask him

you are no help

When he pockets his phone Roy is standing in the doorway, arms crossed, leaned against the frame. “Tell Keeley I said hi.”

“I was jus-”

“It’s okay. I wasn’t in the room. Dinner’s done.”

Jamie stands and goes into the kitchen. Roy has made the table and it looks really nice and elaborate.

“Is this a date?” He doesn’t mean to blurt it out, but well.

“That was the intention, yes.”

“Oh.”

“Well it doesn’t fucking have to be if you’re that freaked out about it.”

“No, I just.” Jamie takes a breath. “I mean I know you keep saying we’re friends, but I was kind of always getting the impression that I was the kind of friend that you didn’t actually like very much.”

“Don’t be a fucking prick, Jamie.”

“Cheers.”

“Jamie.” Roy’s features go a bit soft, and Jamie isn’t used to that. “Maybe being around you is just fucking hard, alright?”

“Alright.”

“Now, eat before your food gets cold.”

++++

It turns out making out with Roy Kent is really fucking amazing. They finish eating and then go in the lounge and put a movie on Netflix that they stop paying attention to within about 10 minutes. Jamie thinks maybe they need to talk a little more, but he’s fucking tired of talking and Roy’s mouth feels really really fucking amazing on Jamie’s.

They’re stretched out, Roy lying on top of Jamie, and usually Jamie would be pushing for more, but it feels nice to just do it like this. Slow, no rush, clothes on. Maybe it doesn’t go any further at all, and he’s okay with that.

He’s never been okay with that.

It’s never felt like this before.

Solid and real, like it’s the beginning of something bigger. Jamie likes that feeling. He reckons he could fly right now if he wanted to.

They end up making out until it gets late and Roy takes him up to the bedroom, Roy’s bedroom, and they just go to sleep, close to each other but not on top of each other. Jamie gets the feeling Roy isn’t the type to cuddle. He doesn’t want to risk it, anyway, even though he does like a bit of it himself.

He goes to sleep to the sound of Roy breathing, and it’s. Yeah, it’s pretty fucking great.

++++

Roy’s alarm goes off ungodly early when it’s barely even light out and when Jamie wakes up, Roy’s arm is curled around his chest and he’s feeling for his phone with his other hand. So it turns out he was wrong about Roy not liking a bit of a cuddle. He’s really never been happier to be wrong before.

By the time they both get woken up and cleaned up enough to leave the house they barely have time to get to work. They have to go together because fuck if Jamie knows where his car actually is. If anyone thinks them showing up together, with Jamie in a shirt that’s just slightly too big and a pair of sweats he would absolutely never normally be caught dead in is weird, no one actually says that.

Jamie doesn’t say anything to Keeley, and she doesn’t ask.

Training goes well. For the first time Jamie takes all the direction he’s given and he doesn’t try to fight or push his way into doing whatever he wants, and Ted looks impressed and proud of how much he’s grown over the last however many months. He tells him as much after training is over and Jamie feels like he’s on cloud nine.

It turns out his car is actually at the ground. Keeley had picked it up yesterday morning. He hadn’t asked, and it’s weird to have friends that just do things for him without expecting anything in return.

It is a little disappointing, though, that it means he’s going home instead of back to Roy’s. He hasn’t seen him at all today, and he can’t find him after training is done, so he just stops by Keeley’s office to thank her in person for his car and then goes home. It’s a bit weird being there alone sometimes.

Jamie’s never been great at being alone. He used to just go find someone to shag or find a party to go to or anything to keep from being alone with his own thoughts because they were always too confusing or too frustrating. It’s only the last few months that he’s been okay with quiet reflection.

But now he really just wants to be making out with Roy.

are you busy? He wonders if it’s pathetic to already be texting Roy. He used to text Keeley first all the time, but that was almost always to ask for sex. He gets the building feeling that that’s not what this is all about.

A couple of hours pass and he still hasn’t heard from Roy so he gives up and decides to call it a night.

Maybe it hadn’t been as much fun for Roy as it had been for Jamie afterall.

++++

The next day Jamie barely makes it to training on time but he makes it nonetheless. He’s in the training room after drills, just running on the treadmill in nothing but a pair of shorts. Everyone else has pretty much gone, but he’s just running off some ...whatever, feelings or something. He still gets confused sometimes when things are too much or he just doesn’t feel like sorting them out.

He looks up and sees Roy standing in the door frame, smiling just ever so slightly. “Hey.”

“Hi?” Jamie raises an eyebrow. “You have time for me now?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You took off before training was over yesterday, and then you never texted me back, so I just figured you changed your mind.”

Roy goes over to stand in front of the treadmill. “I was busy.”

“Okay.”

“Jamie, don’t be a child.”

“Don’t call me a child. You could have at least said Yes, Jamie, I’m busy. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

“Okay, you’re right.”

Jamie makes a shocked face. “Did - Did Roy Kent just say I was right?”

“Shut the fuck up.” He’s laughing though, so Jamie figures it’s okay. “Do you want to go home with me?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“Good. I’ll cook.” Roy looks behind him and there’s no one else around so he ducks in and just gives Jamie the absolute quickest kiss possible. “Just follow me in your car, that way you’re not stuck again.”

He’s gone before Jamie can say anything. He actually goes home first and does a couple of things. He showers and changes clothes because he’s fucking fit, and last time they had a date he was wearing Roy’s trackies. He also throws some stuff in a bag like clothes for tomorrow and a toothbrush so he’s prepared.

By the time he gets to Roy’s it’s starting to get dark. He doesn’t let himself in because he doesn’t think that’s where they are yet.

“What the fuck, Jamie? Did you get lost?”

“No, I just went home first.” He holds up his bag. “People will start to notice if I keep showing up to training in your clothes. Also, you deserve to see Jamie Tartt at his hottest.” He waves his hands over himself as if to be like this is your gift, me in tight jeans.

Roy rolls his eyes and pulls him inside, kissing him before he can say anything else, and Jamie right ought to get used to being kissed by Roy. He closes his eyes tight and slips a hand up into Roy’s hair.

“You’re a fucking idiot.” Roy says. “Unfortunately, I seem to be into that.”

“Lucky for me.” Jamie pats his beard. “Lucky for you I’m apparently into grandads with bad knees.”

“You little fucking shit.”

Jamie grins. “What’s for dinner, old man?”

“I fucking hate you.”

“Not what you said a minute ago.”

Roy grunts and then pulls Jamie in to kiss him again. “Come on, your food is getting cold.” Roy tugs him into the kitchen by his wrist and Jamie absolutely does not wish they were holding hands because he’s not a 13 year old girl.

Dinner smells really great, and Roy sits across from him and all he can think about is that he gets to sleep in the same bed with this man again. He doesn’t know what this is, but he’s really excited to find out.

For the first time in Jamie’s life, he feels like it’s all coming together. He’s playing for a team that appreciates him where he feels like he belongs, with people around him who doesn’t have to pretend to be hard or tough or uncaring with. He has a best friend who he can talk to about anything.

He has Roy.

And yeah, it took him a while to get here, but Jamie feels pretty fucking great about his life.