"How," Ricky bemoans, "did they get this drunk?"
Cris shakes his head, not taking his eyes off the road. "I think it was the tequila."
"<Speak Spanish! Not all of us are tugas like you two,>" Sergio pipes up from the back.
"Look who's verbal again," Cris says under his breath, pointedly not switching out of Portuguese. If Ricky didn't know better, he'd think Cris makes the next turn especially sharp just to keep their charges in the back seat subdued.
"Oh boy. <You doing okay back there?>" Ricky says, half turning in his seat, the same way Carol always does when they're driving with Luca. He is not feeling particularly maternal toward Sergio and Iker, who glare balefully back at him, exuding the sharp smell of wine.
Sergio says, "<Nope,>" and Iker makes a face that says he agrees. His face is pale and sweaty, and Ricky is still worried that Iker won't make it and Cris will try to make good on his promise to skin Iker alive and turn his skin into a football and force him to try to save Cris's shots with the ball if he gets sick all over Cris's beautiful leather interior.
"<Do we need to pull over?>"
"<We are not pulling over!>" Cris snaps.
Ricky makes a familiar exasperated noise. "Look, you just keep driving if you want to scrub vomit out of leather, but I think we should pull over." He realizes that the noise is familiar because it's the one Carol makes when he is refusing to pull over for yet another bathroom break. Oh, bless.
"He can scrub it out himself," Cris says. "Sese can help him, the little tequila-enabling shit."
"Ugh, are you always this cranky when you're up past your bedtime?"
Cris takes his eyes off the road and gives Ricky an acid look. "You know exactly why I'm cranky, <and it has everything to do with the two fuck-ups in the back seat.>"
In the back seat, their captain and vice-captain moan gently as Cris curves along a bend in the hills. "<What did we ever do to you?>" Sergio grumbles.
Ricky tries to intervene, tries to stop him from saying anything with a quick, "<We are driving you all the way across the city, you know,>" but Sergio's done it. Cris is off.
"<For starters, I am driving you home because you got Iker —Iker of all people— can't-walk-can't-see-straight-vomiting-in-the-gutter drunk, he lost his keys so we have to go all the way to your apartment with its scenic fucking view to drop you two off because some of us have children and we are not exposing them to your drunken bullshit, you completely shot our plans for an early night away from work, which includes you two fuckers, and, oh, yes, you tried to give Iker a handjob in a cab.>"
Ricky watches Sergio open his mouth, close it, look self-satisfied, and start sneaking his hand into Iker's lap. Ricky barks out, "<Don't you dare have sex in the backseat,>" in a passible impression of Mourinho, which is when he realizes that he is also, actually, livid because Sergio and Iker have no idea what it takes to coordinate nights off from parenting when you already spend half your time out of town.
"<Ricky, why aren't you being nice to Sese?>" Iker murmurs, drawing out each vowel, slurring his words halfway to irrecognition, no matter how much better Ricky's Spanish has gotten.
Of course, Iker also has no idea that anything needs to be coordinated. No idea that they are interrupting anything.
"<He knows why,>" Ricky says archly.
Sese says slyly, "<Oh, yeah, I do.>"
They drive on in silence for almost a full minute until Cris asks, "Do you think he'll remember in the morning?"
Ricky shrugs and then, realizing Cris has his eyes on the road, adds, "Probably? If Sergio remembers one thing from tonight, it'll be that."
"And, of course, our taking them home isn't going to be enough to stop us catching hell from them later."
"Well, it's the two of them. You could pull them out from under a bus, and Sergio would tease you about not letting him die, and Iker would try to use your heroism as motivation to make you to train harder."
"<They're speaking Portuguese again, Iker— You're trying to stop us from understanding what you're saying.>"
"<You're right; it's very rude.>"
Ricky says, "Don't," before Cris can go off on Sergio, and Cris's mouth hardens into a thin line, which Ricky is going to take as a victory.
In a stage whisper, Sergio asks Iker, "<Do you think they're talking about how much they wanna fuck each other?>"
"<God, how could we possibly do that with you in the car?>" Cris snaps out. "<Just looking at your face is a total buzzkill.>"
"<Besides, watching you try to jerk off Iker has finally convinced me to take a vow of chastity,>" Ricky volunteers.
Cris turns to him and gives him a momentary bereft look before Ricky yelps, "Oh, god, don't hit that cat!", and Cris has to look at the road again.
Sergio sniggers in the backseat. "<That good, eh?>"
They ignore him.
They had been so proud of their clean sheet, making it all the way to Sergio's building without anyone despoiling Cris's poor beloved car, that Ricky is almost surprised when Iker flops down onto the curb and vomits indelicately across his own lap. Behind him, Cris yelps, "<Don't get it on the tires!>" Ricky doesn't even have the heart to tell him off, that he could buy himself a new car, six new cars, so stop whining, because, oh, God, Ricky always tries to make Carol deal with Luca throwing up for a reason. Ricky makes a pinched face, moving to stand upwind of Iker, taking heaving breaths, trying to breathe through his mouth.
"Don't you dare," Cris hisses at him. Ricky makes a tiny whimpery noise in the back of his throat, and Cris doesn't melt at all, not in the slightest, and that is how Ricky knows that the situation is very dire indeed.
"Are we going to haul him up to the flat in that?"
"Can he walk? —<Iker, can you walk?>"
"<I think so.>"
They exchange a look; neither of them has been able to get a coherent word out of Iker since they got in the car.
"<How are you feeling?>" Ricky says tenuously, and the beady-eyed flashing glare that he gets in response is enough to convince him that Iker isn't going to die in the night.
"<Awful,>" he growls. He tries to stand, stumbles a little, and Sergio mostly catches him, losing his own balance in the process and stumbling over to fall into a bush. He swears prolifically into the night, loud enough that Ricky starts shushing him —don't wake the neighbors, please, please, Sergio— because wouldn't it be lovely if they got caught?
One of them on each side of him, they half-carry, half-cart Iker up the front stoop to the lobby. They stand there in the yellowish glow of the lobby's dim lights, waiting while Sergio tries six different keys on his key-ring and then gives up and uses the callbox to ring his own mobile and buzz them in.
Cris unceremoniously dumps Iker's deadweight onto Sergio's bed, and Sergio flops down next to him, cooing with surprising tenderness over Iker's limp, incapacitated body. Cris and Ricky exchange a look. "<Sese, you think you can find pajamas for Ikercio over here?>"
Sergio looks up at Cris with a withering look. "<Do I look like I sleep in pajamas?>"
"Sergio—" Cris starts.
"<No, seriously,>" he says.
Ricky rolls his eyes. "Iker is too far gone to get it up. Let them sleep how they want." They start the tense process of trying to get Iker out of his bile-sodden clothes, Ricky at his feet and Cris at his shoulders with Sergio lounging nearby to better interject the occasional cutting remark. Sure, they've all seen each other naked —as a group and in pairs and some of them more up close and personal than others— but there is an enormous difference between their captain stripping naked after practice for a shower and slowly undressing Iker until he is naked on top of Sergio's bed. There is a difference between watching Cris undress himself with deft hands and watching him undress someone else, the way his hands still know what to do the wrong way round, how he never fumbles trying to take off another man's belt. Cris has good, strong hands, and he keeps his nails neat and manicured, and Ricky can't, as it turns out, watch them on someone else, can't watch the gentle way they peel off the damp clinging fabric and expose someone else's skin.
Cris is a father. He has learned how to take care. He is only being paternal. But even Ricky has to scoff at that. Cristianinho isn’t why Cris can undo a man’s trousers with one hand. Ricky isn’t stupid.
But there are some things he prefers not to know.
"I'll get them something to settle their stomachs," Ricky says, abrupt. "Crackers and water, I think. That's what we— what you give kids when they're sick."
Cris looks up at him, confused, his face naked and raw and unmasked for once. Cris wants to ask him, but he won't. Cris never asks. "Get some paracetamol, too, or they'll be unbearable in the morning."
When he returns, the scene is quiet. Iker is mostly sitting up, looking more lucid than he has since their match ended. He smiles softly at Ricky, carrying his two plates of toast salvaged from Sergio’s nearly empty pantry. "<Thank you so much,>" he says. "<I'm sorry about all the trouble.>" Ricky smiles back, and it isn't till he reaches the middle of the room that the sharp smell of bile hits him. It rolls over him like a wave, and he feels the compulsive desire to be sick himself deep in his throat, and he swallows it down, wills himself through it.
He sets the plates down on the nightstand next to Iker. "<Can you eat something?>"
Iker makes a little moue of distaste. "<Yes, thank you.>"
Ricky hands him the piece of bread, feeling a little silly, and watches him begin to tear off little pieces, eating them tentatively. He tries to pretend that it's just him and Luca, sick with a tummy bug, sitting up late into the night, so Carol can get some sleep. He strokes Iker's hair, curling a few strands behind one ear, and kisses his temple. He pours out three pills from his little bottle and offers them to Iker, who doesn't take them, just presses his open mouth to Ricky's palm, and sucks them off of it, awkward and too intimate. Ricky hands him the glass of water, which he dutifully sips. "<Can I get you anything else?>"
Iker shakes his head, winces, drops it back against the pillows. "<Shit.>"
Ricky putters over to the bathroom. It is all gleaming white and blue tiles, except the spray of brilliantly red vomit, dotted with chunks of half-digested fruit, that streaks across the floor and part of the wall by the toilet. It is only through conscious practice that Ricky manages not to swear. Cris has Sergio sitting on the edge of the bathtub, one leg in, one leg out, fighting with the limp corpselike immensity of him to get him into the tub without hitting his head on anything.
"Don't just stand there," Cris says, exasperated. Ricky comes over and realizes why Sergio needs a bath. There's vomit in his hair for goodness's sake. He lifts Sergio's legs, and Cris hoists him under his arms, and they drop him into the tub to the sound of his weak protests that he can wash himself, dammit, which, no, Sergio obviously can't.
"You keep him up; I'll wash his hair," Ricky says. He has experience bathing squirming little boys after all. He pulls the detachable showerhead down, rinses Sergio's hair as he squirms under the cold water, and then massages one of the various heavily scented products on the shower shelf into it.
"That's body wash!" Cris squawks.
Ricky doesn't even look up at him as he washes the suds out of Sergio's long hair. "So?"
"So you don't use body wash in your hair."
Ricky rolls his eyes. "You use it on your pubic hair; you can use it on your head hair."
"I do not use—"
Ricky looks up at him, bracing the back of Sergio's head in one sudsy hand. "Seriously?" And Cris falls quiet.
After they give Sergio a bath and then settle him in next to Iker, they scuttle out of the room, leaving the bedroom door open in case the drunks need anything. Ricky leans into Cris's space a little, and Cris spreads one hand over Ricky's hip. "Come on," Ricky says. "I made coffee."
Cris looks at him, confused. "It's three in the morning."
"And we just put two grown men to bed after cleaning vomit off them, so I think we've earned a cup."
Cris cocks his head. "Oh, oh. Is this like—" He switches abruptly into his rusty English to say, "<'Let's have a cup of tea'?>"
It's Ricky's turn to be confused, reminded suddenly of all the ways that Cris is still completely foreign to him. "Sure? Let's just—" He presses on the small of Cris's back to get him to move toward the kitchen, but it succeeds only in bringing them closer together. And Cris is leaning in and brushing their lips together, soft and light, the faintest hint of his tongue wet against Ricky's lips and then gone. Cris lingers in Ricky's orbit for a moment, and he breathes in the smell of him, sweat and cologne and another man's vomit.
Ricky coughs in the back of his throat. "Maybe, we should head out."
"It's three in the morning," Cris says, "and I'm dead on my feet."
Ricky raises his eyebrows. "You want to stay?"
Cris shrugs. "I want to sleep."
Ricky says, "Oh, sleeping, huh?"
Cris says, "Among other things," and then he's tilting his head, dipping back into Ricky's space, when, from the bedroom, Sergio shouts, "<You can sleep here if you want, but don't you dare fuck in my house!>"
Cris pulls away, drawing in a breath, and Ricky is about to tell him not to —it's on the tip of his tongue— when Cris shouts, "<Shut your fucking mouth and go to sleep, you piece of shit.>"
Ricky lets out the breath he's holding. "He'll remember that in the morning."
"Let him," Cris snaps. "Come on. Let's go have coffee. —Where'd you leave your jacket?"
"It might be in the car? Iker was sleeping on it at one point."
"I'll go down and check," he says, but when they reach the entryway, it's right there hanging on the coat rack. Cris steps over to it, fishing through the pockets. "You shouldn't hang it up like this," he says. "You'll stretch out the neckline."
"Oh," Ricky says, "I'm sorry; I didn't realize that the fashion police— Why are you texting on my phone?"
Cris doesn't even look up. "I'm letting Carol know where you are. Go pour our coffees."
Ricky throws up his hands. "I can do that! She's my wife."
"But you weren't going to."
"Well, she knows I'm with you tonight."
"I am not a place."
Ricky watches him hit send and slide the phone into his pocket, sighs, gives it up as a poor job, and goes to finish their coffee, Carol forgive him. He pours out two steaming cups into mugs so dusty he has to rinse them off first and then adds plenty of milk and a spoonful of sugar to each. Cris leans up against him, looking over his shoulder. "You take your coffee black," he says.
"Not after bathing Sergio I don't." Ricky adds extra sugar to Cris's.
"Is that for me or you?" Cris mutters into Ricky's shoulder.
"Who do you think?" He sips his to check that it's just right, sweet and milky and gentle. "Here," he says, handing the other mug to Cris, who hooks an arm around him to take it. They sip slowly at their mugs, and Ricky leans back into Cris, feeling him warm against his back. Cris presses up against him in turn, mouthing wetly at his neck, and Ricky is about to tell him to stop because they are in Sergio's house and they just mopped vomit off him when Cris's crotch vibrates against Ricky's ass.
"Oh!" He sets his mug down and takes a step back, pulling Ricky's mobile out of his pocket and unlocking it to read whatever text message he's just gotten. Cris smiles, and Ricky doesn't like the look of that.
"It's from Carol."
"What does it say?"
"It says: 'thanks cris give him a kiss from me xo.' Put your coffee down."
Ricky puts his coffee down. Cris makes his romantic gentleman face, which involves pursing his lips into a pout and tilting his head just so. "Don't do that," Ricky says, and Cris says, "Don't do what?"
"Make that face."
Cris grins, gives a little regretful look, and is about to kiss him when they both hear it over the hush of their own quick breaths: the sound of wood creaking and low, breathy moans.
"Oh, my God," Cris says.
"They definitely are."
"Cris, they were so drunk. How are they— How can they—"
Cris kisses his cheek. "There. From your wife."
"Tell her I say thank you," Ricky says, suddenly too close to Cris. He can see the freckles on his skin, the ones that don't show in photos.
Cris says, "You can tell her yourself. Bed?"
Ricky looks at him a little sadly. "Sergio has a one-bedroom flat."
Ricky gives him a tiny, narrow smile. "Why," he says, "did you think I didn't want to stay over here?"
"I assumed you were too polite to fuck in someone else's guest bed."
"No," Ricky says in a terse little voice. "I am too polite to have sex on someone else's couch."
"Well, now that we're listening to him scoring an own goal, I feel like he kind of deserves it."
Ricky throws up his hands, speechless. "I am not having sex with you on Sergio's couch while listening to him and Iker."
"Well, I'm not driving home at four in the morning. —What about Sergio's bathroom?"
"I am not bargaining with you as to where in our professional colleague's apartment we are going to have sex."
"He deserves it!"
Cris deflates. "I know."
Ricky leads the way into the living room. "Oh, God, there's only one couch."
Ricky wakes up to a crick in his back and Cris's bulk cutting off the circulation in his left arm and Sergio yelling. By the time Ricky's gotten his eyes to focus properly on the man, Iker has appeared next to him. Cris mumbles, "No," and buries his face into Ricky's shoulder and, in doing so, manages to tug most of Sergio's throw blanket off of him, leaving Ricky unpleasantly cold and exposed and staring at Sergio Ramos's limp penis.
"<Why are you naked?>" Ricky asks, incredulous.
"<Why are you not?>" Sergio replies. "—<Wait, are you seriously not?>"
Ricky yawns hugely. "<I'm not going to sleep naked on your couch, Sergio.>"
"<Yes,>" Sergio says, suddenly sly, "<but just to clarify, you are perfectly happy to sleep on my couch with Cris?>"
Ricky blinks at him. "<There's only one sofa.>"
"<So you two are actually fucking. You don't just make out when you're drunk,>" Sergio says, triumphant.
Ricky gives him a funny look, but it's Iker who says, "<They don't drink.>"
"<But you said— Oh!>" Sergio points at him. "<You lied to me.>" And then it comes back to him, Cris sneaking a kiss once the rest of the team were all well and drunk or gone home, and then it hadn't stopped at just the one kiss, stupid but hey, and then of all fucking people, Sergio, miraculously and exquisitely drunk, had stumbled upon them, and Ricky had given him the same line he'd used the last time he'd been caught kissing another man: "don't we all do stupid things when we're drunk?"
Ricky says, "<Please put on some pants if we're going to have this conversation.>"
"<You're married!>" Sergio squawks. "<Oh, shit, you're married and you have kids and you're— You're all—>" Sergio gestures up and down. "—<all you. Kaká.>"
Iker puts a hand on Sergio's shoulder. "<Maybe, this isn't the time.>"
"<Shut up, this is the exact fucking time! —Cris, are you hard?>"
Cris grumbles into the blanket, shifts, wraps one leg around Ricky's, and then Ricky can feel Cris stiffening against his thigh, rubbing ever so slightly against him.
Iker sighs. "<Come on, Sergio. It's first thing in the morning. He's only human.>"
Cris cracks an eye open and half sits up, glaring at them. "How are you two not hungover?" He makes a face and repeats himself in Spanish.
"<Oh, we are,>" Iker says darkly.
"<Why aren't either of you wearing anything?>"
"<This is my house!>" Sergio says crossly. "<I don't have to wear pants in my own house.>"
"<Well, that's nice. Iker, could you throw me mine?>" Cris says.
Ricky stares at the ceiling and wonders if he can just die on the spot. Cris is rifling through his pants pockets. "<Actually, why don't you go make us coffee?>"
"<What a good idea,>" Iker says flatly, turning and leaving without comment.
"What time is it?" Cris asks Ricky, bending over him, their faces close together, his breath warm and foul against Ricky's lips.
"I don't know. Early."
"Ugh," Cris says, flopping back down. "Doesn't matter. We'll go to your place. I bet Carol will make us breakfast. —<Sergio, you're still standing there.>"
"<Yes, this is my apartment. I live here.>"
"<Yeah, well, I'm okay with you watching, but I doubt Ricky is.>"
"<Watching what— No.>"
Ricky looks at Cris, realizes that he's pulled a condom and a packet of lube out of his pants. "Really?"
Cris grins down at him, his horrible shit-eating grin, the one that can make Ricky do just about anything, even on a bad day. "<Really.>"
"<All right,>" Ricky says, stretching his sore back, arching up against Cris like a cat, even though the very idea of it makes his skin crawl, "<but you're doing all the work.>"
Cris shrugs, yawns, says, "<Okay.>"
Sergio says, "<Guys, I'm still here.>"
"<I noticed,>" Cris says. He says, "<Be loud, okay, baby?>", and then ducks down under Sergio's horrible, scratchy throw blanket as if to suck Ricky off. He feels Cris's mouth linger over his belly, his breath hot by his belly button, and relief floods through him. There are some lines even Cris knows better than to cross.
Sergio is staring at them, though. Ricky coughs. "<Sergio?>"
"<Cris and I would like a little bit of privacy as our prize for not leaving you by the roadside to choke on your own vomit or, worse, be found by the paparazzi. So. Why don't you go put on some pants?>"
Cris slides up, propping himself up next to Ricky. "Sorry."
"I know," he says, running his fingers over the faintest shadow of stubble along Cris's jaw.
"You smell terrible," Cris says, and Ricky instinctively pulls away, embarrassed, but Cris grabs hold of his arm, keeps him there, looks at him a little sadly, one thumb worrying the inside of Ricky's wrist. "Really?"
Cris lets go of Ricky, but stays lying there, facing him. "You think that little of me?"
Ricky stares at him, blinking slowly against the bright morning light. Perhaps, he has been guilty of an injustice.