Looking at it now
It all seems so simple
We were lying on your couch
They were at Lando’s place, just curled up together on the sofa. Lando was playing on his phone, as always, ‘that’s what happens when you date a 20-year-old, Carlos,’ Caco would always joke when he’d complain about Lando always being distracted, neither of them meant it, but Lando would always look guilty afterwards.
Carlos had been trying to read a book, but the chaos of trying to read around Lando, in his arms, against his chest, had long since been abandoned in favour of playing gently with Lando’s curls and intermittently dropping kisses against his temple, not really seeking attention, just wanting to show him affection. He deserved it. God, Carlos loved him so fucking much.
‘Lando,’ he spoke his boyfriend’s name softly, when he was finally bored of just watching the way he’d make sweet little faces at whatever he was looking at.
‘Hmm?’ was all he got in reply, Lando still thoroughly engrossed in his phone. Carlos sighed a little and rolled his eyes, lovingly but exasperated. Sometimes, sometimes Lando made him feel rather old, he was only 25, but some days those five years felt so insurmountable.
‘Lando, come on,’ he spoke with a little more force this time.
‘Sorry, sorry,’ Lando apologised, his phone immediately turned off and dropped down onto the sofa, instantly forgotten.
He carefully turned himself over in Carlos’ hold so that his front was flush against Carlos’, holding himself up slightly on his elbows so he could look him in the eyes. Carlos couldn’t help leaning up to kiss him softly, he just looked so perfect right now. Then again, to Carlos, he was always perfect, so perhaps he was slightly biased.
‘You’re sure you’re alright with me signing that contract? Leaving for Ferrari? It’ll inevitably change things for us, not being in the same team. We won’t have nearly as much time together,’ Carlos asked nervously. That was why he’d come over in the first place, to talk to Lando about the offer he’d gotten from Ferrari. It was like a dream for Carlos, they both knew that, but that didn’t just erase the complications. Carlos wanted this, but he wanted Lando more.
‘I already told you, I want this for you. This is your dream Carlos, to race in red. I would never want you to give something like that up for me. We can make it work, I know we can, because I love you and you love me and that’s everything,’ Lando answered him. He seemed so certain, so sure of himself and of them. Carlos was sure of them too, but he did worry that Lando was giving way to naivety, believing everything would work out just because he wanted it to.
Carlos didn’t have the heart to say that out loud though. Perhaps he should have, perhaps they could have avoided a whole lot of mess if he had. But could he be blamed for not wanting to burst this bubble?
‘Come here,’ he told him, pulling him down, into another kiss, more passionate, heated. They would talk seriously about it all another time.
You took a Polaroid of us
The rest of the world was black and white
But we were in screaming colour
And I remember thinking…
They’d ended up in lockdown together in the UK. Carlos had thought about going back to Madrid, really, he should have, his family were there. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it, leave Lando all on his own for who knew how long, he just couldn’t do it.
Today, Lando had dragged him out to the garden to sunbathe, having finally gotten bored of streaming inside. The idea of Carlos and him in lockdown together had been to spend time together but Lando couldn’t stay away from gaming for more than 12 hours at a time. It was nice to finally actually have his boyfriend’s company.
Lando had talked him into a game of football, deciding to see if he could beat Carlos as the realversion, seeing as it had long since become clear he couldn’t beat him at fifa. He couldn’t. Their t-shirts had long since been discarded, the heat ridiculous for England, meaning it was an absurd idea to still be wearing them, especially when the alternative was his boyfriend shirtless.
Football had at some point been abandoned in favour of making out nice and slow, Lando pressed up against the goalpost by Carlos’ body. Hand placed firmly on the small of Lando’s back while his boyfriends’ arms were draped over his shoulders.
Eventually they finally had to break away for air. Looking at Lando really did things to him. They’d only been making out and he already looked utterly wrecked, the picture of debauched youth.
He was just about to suggest they take this back to the bedroom when Lando’s eyes suddenly lit up and a grin broke out on his face. ‘Wait here!’ he proclaimed before running off inside, leaving Carlos alone and confused in the middle of the garden.
When he returned, he had a polaroid camera in hand. He knew Henrik had been trying to get him interested in photography. He didn’t think it had actually been working. It would seem he had been wrong. He raised an eyebrow at him, only serving to increase Lando’s grin as he wandered back over to him.
When he arrived at Carlos’ side, he immediately slipped and arm around Lando’s waist, on pure instinct alone. He watched as Lando fiddled with the camera a little before finally lifting it up, pointed towards them, telling Carlos to smile. Just before he could hit the button to take the picture, Carlos moved to kiss his cheek, eliciting a laugh from his boyfriend, who proceeded to take the photo.
The camera was soon left forgotten on the table inside, the picture still developing beside it, as Carlos dragged him off to the bedroom, fully intent on making love to his boyfriend until he was nothing but a whimpering, shuddering mess of bliss.
When, that evening, Lando had to move the camera and the picture off the table for dinner, he found the picture fully developed and excitedly ran into the kitchen to show Carlos. His boyfriend could only smile at his childlike glee as he entered, waving the polaroid enthusiastically at him.
When he looked at the picture, he was stunned. The sunlight had left everything around them almost black and white, colour seeping out of it. But they radiated warmth, colour glowing from them. All he could think was that that was so very perfect, so them.
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods?
Are we in the clear yet?
In the clear yet? Good
When the season finally restarted in July, four months late, things were better than ever. They were basically just living together completely now and Carlos wanted it to be like this forever. He wanted to be with Lando every day for the rest of his life. It was too early to propose to him, he knew that, Lando was too young, but one day, one day he would.
His contract with Ferrari had been announced now, everyone knew this would be their last season as teammates. The fans were all devastated at the thought of them just never speaking to each other again now they weren’t teammates, moving on. If they only knew.
Lando opened the season with his first ever podium and Carlos was the proudest he could have possible been. They celebrated hard in public, before sneaking away to have their own private celebrations back in Lando’s hotel room. Lando held Carlos through the various stages of emotion after Monza, the excitement of a second podium, a P2, but the frustration of being so fucking close to a win.
They were just so deeply in love, so fucking happy. Carlos loved Lando in a way that was beyond what had ever thought he could feel for someone. He wanted things to stay like this forever, wanted to love him like that until the day he died.
Looking at it now
We were built to fall apart
Then fall back together
But then things were starting to get complicated. Lando had sworn he’d be fine, he could handle the move, them no longer being together 100% of the time, they were adults in an adult relationship, it was alright.
But then he was getting jealous when Carlos would talk to Charles towards the end of the year, trying to build up a rapport in advance of becoming teammates, resentful of Carlos’ new team, bitter about him having to go to Italy just before Christmas, meaning he wouldn’t see him again until just before the New Year, Carlos spending Christmas in Madrid while Lando went home to his family for the holidays.
Carlos knew it wasn’t intentional, and he didn’t mean for it to hurt him, he wasn’t trying to be possessive or make things difficult. But it did. It killed him to see the sullen look on Lando’s face when he caught him talking to the guys in red, to see the sadness and worry in his eyes when he made a joke ‘Ferrari friends’ snarkily when Carlos had gotten distracted by some Ferrari mechanics wanting to have a chat when he’d been on a walk down the track with Lando. He hated to see him like that, but he also didn’t know what to do.
Lando was less affectionate these days, had never liked being touched much generally, but Carlos had always been the exception until now. Now, Lando would pull back half the time, flinch away, ‘not tonight Carlos, I’m tired,’ when Carlos hadn’t even wanted sex, he’d just wanted to hold Lando for a while.
He talked to him less as well, had always told him everything, but now was hesitant to say anything more than small talk. They spent all their time together still, Carlos trying to soak up every second of their remaining time as teammates, and would play the part when the cameras on them, but the second they were gone, it was like the switch flipped back off again, he would say very little, still going through the motions of their life, their relationship, but it was all so fake, so mechanical.
Carlos was terrified. He didn’t want to lose him, but he wasn’t sure he could go on living like this. It wasn’t fair to either of them, it wasn’t working. He wanted to fix things, but he didn’t know how.
My necklace hanging from your neck
The night we couldn't quite forget
When we decided
To move the furniture so we could dance
Baby, like we stood a chance
Two paper airplanes flying
And I remember thinking…
Over winter break, after the mess that was December, things got a bit better. Carlos came back to the UK, to what was now basically their shared flat, in time for New Years. He had to go back to Maranello a couple more times between then and winter testing in mid-March, but he made a point of calling Lando often, texting constantly, telling him he loved him, telling him he missed him, telling him he couldn’t wait to have him back in his arms again soon.
It put a dampener on his start with Ferrari, desperately trying to salvage his relationship with Lando, trying to drag it away from the brink. It was all so fucking messy, such chaos. His heart was near constantly aching, he was exhausted at the effort involved in trying to hold things together.
Lando admitted one night, into the darkness of their room, the lights long since gone out but both of them restless, unable to sleep, that he was just so terrified that he was going to lose Carlos, that it felt like it would hurt less when Carlos inevitably realised he was just some dumb kid who didn’t deserve him and finally packed up his things and left, if he’d already distanced himself from him. He’d been preparing for impact for months. Carlos’ heart broke.
He surprised Lando one day, not long after, with a present, technically it was for Valentine’s but really, he’d already had Lando’s real valentine’s present for months, this was just something to try and assuage Lando’s doubts. It was a simply chain with a little charm hanging from it, their initials engraved on it, intertwined. He told him he hoped it would remind him, even when they were apart, that he loved him, would always love him, that he was not going anywhere. Lando had cried as he’d put it on him, but for once the tears were happy ones.
Lando had demanded they move all the furniture out of the way in the living room, wanting to slow dance with Carlos, a completely random idea, neither of them really danced, but it was Valentine’s day and he had those big puppy dog eyes and it sounded like the kind of thing they would be doing because things were getting better.
But in real life, things aren’t that simple. It didn’t just fix because they wanted it too, because they said all the right things. Another season started and this time everything had changed. They saw each other far less, would go weeks at a time when Carlos couldn’t get back to the flat to spend even a day with Lando. The calendar was packed and the team wanted him in Italy constantly.
Things were slowly falling apart.
Remember when you hit the brakes too soon?
Twenty stitches in the hospital room
When you started crying, baby, I did, too
But when the sun came up, I was looking at you
And then the crash happened. They’d been racing, Carlos trying to get past Lando, for a good points position. Lando was ahead, but Carlos had the faster car, he knew he had more pace. It should have been an easy move.
But they’d had another fight before the race, a huge blowout, something getting more and more frequent in their lives as their world came crashing down around them. They’d screamed at each and Lando had cried his eyes out as he’d yelled at Carlos to leave, to get the fuck out. Carlos couldn’t even remember what the fight had been about, most of their fights didn’t really have a point anymore.
They’d fought and Lando was angry and bitter and jealous and afraid. He was just 21, a dumb kid who was terrified of the way he was so madly in love with a person, that that person held him in his palm and could crush him so fucking easily. He was just so angry, couldn’t even remember why they’d started fighting, just remembered hearing Carlos tell him to grow up and feeling himself boiling with rage.
He shouldn’t have defended as hard as he did, if things hadn’t ended the way they had, he’d have received a black and white flag for unsportsmanlike behaviour, not the first he’d received this season for a move blocking Carlos.
But he couldn’t let it go, couldn’t let him just get past him and drive off into the distance when that felt like a sick metaphor for where their relationship was heading. He wasn’t thinking clearly, his mind clouded by all the sadness and anguish and pain he felt, by the despair that clung to his heart, by visions of Carlos walking out of their hotel room rather than staying and trying to fight for them, by all the doubts that were overruling everything else now.
He hit the breaks into the corner too soon, his car veering off course as he locked up, his rear clipping Carlos, even as he tried to take evasive action to avoid a collision. He couldn’t really remember the actual impact into the wall, it was all quite a blur. He knew his car had buried itself pretty deep in the tire barrier, Carlos’ hadn’t. He was so fucking thankful for that, if something had happened to Carlos because of him, he’d have never forgiven himself.
He remembered the sharp pain in his leg as his mind tried to refocus, that being the only thing he could think about, at least until he heard Carlos’ voice, yelling at him. He thought it was in anger for a moment, until he realised it was fear. Carlos was calling out his name and he sounded terrified. Lando didn’t know how long he’d been sat in the car, he shifted but a spike of pain going up through his body, emanating from his leg, told him to stay put.
Carlos had to be held back by marshals and they pulled Lando from his car, placed him on a stretcher and quickly assessed the damage. His race suit was slashed open at the leg and he had a nasty looking gash, a long one no less. Carlos felt his blood run cold. He broke free of the marshals and demanded they let his go with him wherever they were taking him. The medics said he needed to go to the medical base to get checked but Lando needed to go to the hospital. Carlos couldn’t have given less of a fuck about himself. He refused to leave Lando now.
Lando heard rather than saw Carlos storm over and argue with the medics. When he felt a hand take his, he knew Carlos had won said argument. He wasn’t particularly surprised; the Spaniard had an iron will when it came to everyone except him.
They were sat in a hospital room, Carlos having been made to go through a check before he could go and sit with Lando, being found to have sustained no serious damage from the crash, just bruising that would fade with time. He got to Lando just in time to hear the doctor say they’d need to stitch up his leg. He’d known they would, it was pretty clear, looking at it, there was no way that wouldn’t need stitches. But he also knew Lando was terrified of needles and from the look on his face, verging on an anxiety attack.
He stood by his side, holding his hand tightly, trying to distract him. It wasn’t really working. Lando cried his heart out, despite all the painkillers, he was just so fucking scared and Carlos couldn’t fix it. He realised at some point that he was crying too.
Lando had fallen asleep not long after it was over, with the help of some medication because he’d been so worked up. When the sun rose the next morning, having been at the hospital, sat at Lando’s bedside, for god knows how many hours, not having slept for a single moment, completely unable to do anything but hold Lando’s hand and replay everything, from the moment he’d met Lando, to realising he was in love with him, to the best two years of his life with this wonderful man, to the crash, over and over and over.
As the sunlight broke through the blinds and spilled onto Lando’s face, he looked like an angel. Carlos’ heart just kept cracking.
Remember when we couldn't take the heat
I walked out and said, "I'm setting you free"
But the monsters turned out to be just trees
And when the sun came up, you were looking at me
I remember, oh, I remember
It hadn’t been long after that, things had kept going downhill. He had hoped they’d sort their shit out after the crash, but somehow things had only gotten worse still. They’d ended up in a fight over how the crash had happened, neither willing to admit they’d both made mistakes.
After the fifth fight about it in the space of two weeks, Carlos finally gave up. It broke him to do it, but it just wasn’t healthy anymore. He loved him with everything he had, but maybe that wasn’t enough. Maybe this had all been a mistake. Maybe this was the end.
He was due to fly back to Maranello that night anyway, honestly that had probably been where the fight had come from, Carlos had promised him this week together, had sworn this time he wouldn’t have to cancel last minute, like he had a lot recently. And then he’d had a call to say they needed him back at the factory and it couldn’t wait.
‘I love you, Lando, with everything I have, with all that I am. But this just isn’t working anymore. We’re both miserable. I love you but I can’t do this anymore. I’m setting you free, Lando, I’m setting you free.’
And with that he took his bag and left. He didn’t know what would happen next, ending this, it wouldn’t be as easy as just walking out and not coming back, their lives so integrated by now, but he just had to remove himself from the situation, so they would finally stop fucking hurting each other.
Three days of silence and he came to the conclusion Lando was done fighting for them, done trying to cling onto what they had. It hurt like hell, but he understood. He’d rushed Lando into something he wasn’t ready for, had let him walk blindly into this, knowing things wouldn’t be as easy as Lando was trying to believe they would be. That was on him.
But then there was a knock at the door to his Maranello apartment. He wanted to just leave it, didn’t want to see anyone ever again really. His heart was shattered into a million pieces and he really couldn’t face anyone right now. But the knocking carried on, getting more and more persistent until he finally got up and answered the door.
Lando was the last person he had expected to see stood in his doorway, nothing but himself and the crutches he was still using while he leg healed. Before Carlos could get out anything more than his name, Lando was on him, crutches dropped just inside the door, arms round Carlos’ neck, lips crashed against his own, desperate and hungry, begging for something, Carlos just didn’t know what.
‘I can’t live without you. I can’t. I won’t. It’s been three days and it already feels like I’m in hell. I love you and I can’t stop loving you and I am so fucking sorry that I’ve been such an asshole and an idiot and someone so unlovable. But I can’t live without you Carlos, I can’t. Please, please, just give me one more chance. I’ll do anything. I know that doesn’t make everything better, I know we have shit to work through, but I want to do that with you. Please, just one more chance,’ he begged.
‘Always,’ Carlos replied, not even needing to think. They’d been something adjacent to broken up for a total of three days and all Carlos knew was that he would give Lando as many chances as he wanted. It might destroy him to do it. But he’d do it anyway.
He let Lando hop up and wrap his legs around his waist and within minutes, they were in the bedroom, clothes discarded, wrapped up in each other, never wanting to let the other go again. They fell asleep, limbs mingled together, Lando resting against Carlos’ chest.
When Carlos woke up early in the morning, the sun just coming up, he found Lando up on his elbows, fingers ghosting across his cheek, Carlos becoming vaguely aware that the gesture was probably what had woken him up. The soft smile on his face brought an equally loving one to his own.
‘I love you, I’m so sorry, for everything. I’ll never let your down again, I swear,’ Lando whispered softly.
‘I know, mi amor, I know. I love you too.’
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
In the clear yet? Good
It had been a little over two years since that morning and so much had changed. They worked through their issues, talked things out, learnt to be better. Things weren’t always easy, their problems didn’t just magically go away, but they were both finally fully committed to figuring it out. They talked things out, stopped yelling, they made sure to make time for each other, stopped trying to make promises they couldn’t keep.
They were led in bed, curled up together, Carlos held Lando’s hand up in his own, letting the light glint off the silver bands on their ring fingers. He’d asked Lando to marry him six months ago, over the summer, during a stay in Madrid, visiting his family. Lando had of course said yes, tears streaming down his face.
They’d gotten married a few weeks ago, the best day of his life. Lando looked so perfect as he walked down the aisle to him. Saying I do had been the easiest thing he’d ever done, hadn’t hesitated for even a fraction of a second, neither had Lando.
‘Te amo, mi amor,’ Carlos whispered as he brought Lando’s hand down to his lips, brushing soft kisses against his knuckles, then one pointedly against the band.
‘I love you too.’
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
In the clear yet? Good