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Um... *blushes*. So. I seem to have gone over to the dark side. And I was just going to post this to AO3, but I'd like to join a football fic comm, and I want them to see that I have something to offer. And so. *hides*

Title: Reset
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Football RPF
Pairing: Gen, with a bit of Messilla bromance.
Summary: The 2011 Club World Cup Champions visit David Villa in the hospital.
Disclaimer: While inspired by real persons and events, this story is completely fictional.
Author’s Note: This is my first Football RPF fic. Both positive and critical comments are appreciated.

It was Puyol’s idea to dedicate the Club Cup Final to El Guaje, and it’s also his idea to take the trophy to their fallen teammate once they get back to Barcelona. Leo is torn - he’s exhausted from the tournament, the time changes, and the long flight from Japan - but when Puyi, Cesc, and Gerard pile into a taxi and send him a series of texts, he decides to meet them at the hospital before heading home.

When they invade his room, David is in a fresh jersey, all smiles, his bandaged leg propped up outside of the blankets. They take turns kissing him and clasping him on the shoulder. There are cameras. Leo poses for pictures with the rest, knowing that they are good P.R., but he is glad when the photographers leave the room and they can all relax.

“I saw the final,” David says, kissing his fingers. “Magnificent. You especially, Leo.”

Leo shrugs and smiles. He played well, he knows that, but the game had left him feeling drained, not exhilarated. He’ll be going home early on holiday, missing their next game against L’Hospitalet for the Copa Del Rey. Pep even agreed to let him return a few days late, after the rest of the team will have started gearing up to have another go against Osasuna. It’s a strange feeling, being grateful for a break.

But David is still talking to him, head tilted upwards so he can look Leo in the eye. “You know what I admire about you the most?”

“His fashion sense?” Gerard deadpans, reaching down to ruffle Leo’s damp, no-nonsense hair.

“His articulate interviews?” Carles offers. Cesc snickers, and Gerard guffaws. Leo blushes, recalling his curt words to the Japanese comedian at the end of the tournament. He’d been ambushed despite firm instructions to his assistant, but he still feels bad about being so rude.

“Your single-mindedness,” David answers himself earnestly.

“Easy to be single-minded,” Gerard grins, “when you have only one neuron.”

“Eh, La Pulga has plenty of neurons,” Puyi puts in. “It’s just that they’re all in his legs.” He and Gerard exchange a high-five over David as he leans back in the bed, laughing out loud.

“Very funny,” Leo says. Far from being offended, he basks in this evidence of his teammates’ acceptance and gruff affection.

“Seriously,” and Gerard points at Puyi, “at least this one uses his head.” Their team captain thrusts his chest out in mock self-importance.

“Although,” Cesc counters, “he uses it for just one thing – to grow hair!”

Puyol growls and rounds the corner of the bed with his usual astonishing speed, and Cesc takes refuge behind Gerard, who laughs. “I think that’s our cue to leave and let this poor guy get some rest.” He shoves Puyol ahead of him and turns to Leo. “You coming?”

Leo glances automatically at David, who much to his surprise mouths the word, Stay?

“In a minute,” he tells Gerard. “You guys go ahead.”

“Remember,” Gerard says, wagging a threatening finger, “the doctor says no sex for at least a week after the surgery.” He and their other teammates exit with a flurry of good-natured nudges and a noisy burst of laughter.

Leo is left alone with David, and for a moment, neither man seems sure of what to say.

At last Leo remarks, “Saw your video message to your fans. Gerard says they must have had you on the good drugs.”

“Oh yeah? Like you’ve always been such a model of decorum.” David punches a fist in the air and mimics in a sing-song slur, “Tre’ y tre’ y tre’! Visca Barca… i visca Catalunya!”

Leo feels himself blushing again. He barely remembers his own behavior the night they celebrated the Triplet, although the footage is everywhere. He does remember the killer hangover that kept him prostrate on the couch for the rest of the weekend.

“So. I hear that cup wasn’t the only trophy to come home on the plane.”

Leo smiles. “Yes. Xavi and I both were recognized.”

“Also that snot-nosed Brazilian kid.”

“You are just jealous because his hair is even more awesome than yours,” Leo teases.

“No one has hair more awesome than mine,” David says severely. “Seriously, though, what did he do for Santos in the final? Nothing. There should have been three Barca players standing up there.”

“Yes, well, if you hadn’t broken your leg,” Leo starts to say in a soothing tone, but David is having none of that.

No seas tonto. I meant that Andres should have been up there.” Leo stays silent, and David sighs and twists his torso to turn his face towards the wall. “Even if it hadn’t been for the fucking leg… you know how many games it had been since Pep let me start?”

“Yes,” Leo says, even though he’s pretty certain that this was meant to be a rhetorical question.

Sure enough, David keeps talking as if he hasn’t even heard him. “Game after game, coming on in the last five, ten minutes… like I’m some kind of raw recruit who can only be trusted on the pitch once the rest of you have guaranteed the win. Joder, Leo.” He shakes his head. “And I can’t blame him, not really. I was having such a lousy streak.”

“You are the best striker Spain has,” Leo tells him sincerely. “You’ve been running around on a stress fracture. Of course you were not at your best.”

David sighs again. “The club probably feels like they wasted a lot of money on me.”

“That’s not true,” Leo says immediately. “You were a great addition. Whether or not you score in a given game, you are good for the team.”

“Leo,” David corrects him, not unkindly, “I’m not like you. Scoring goals is my job. If I can’t do that, I have no place on the pitch. And Pep has many good strikers now, younger, faster than me. He’s right to play them.”

“You will score for Barca again,” Leo says. He means it.

“Will I?” David asks the wall. Abruptly he turns back to look Leo in the eye. “Leo, tell me something. How did you do it?”

Leo is at a loss. “Do what?”

“When you were sidelined and couldn’t play… how did you handle that? I know you, Leo. Football is all you want to do. How did you keep your spirits up?”

“This from the man who made the video I watched yesterday?” Leo says, trying to get a laugh.

David dismisses this with a wave of his hand. “That was for the fans. I’m talking to you now.” And Leo realizes, not for the first time, that he is probably the only person in the world whom David will talk to about this. Because he knows that they are the same in this respect. Because he knows that Leo will not mistake his self-confidence for arrogance, or its lack for anything other than clear-eyed self-assessment.

“It was always hard at first,” he says honestly. “I cried all day, every time, because I was so disappointed to be taken out of the game. But I know that there is more to life than football. You know it too. You have your wife, your girls. Good will come out of this. They will have more time with you for the next few months. Remind yourself, when you lose patience.”

David is smiling at him, a little wryly. “Out of the mouths of babes.”

“You asked me,” Leo says, a little nettled, then wonders at his own irritation. The jet lag must be catching up with him.

David spreads his hands, conciliatory. “I did. And it’s good advice. Thanks.”

Leo is quiet for a moment, exhaustion settling on him like a heavy blanket. Then he rouses himself, deciding that this is the best opportunity he will ever have to ask. “David… we are always downplaying any conflict to the press, but… do you ever resent me for…” he pauses, struggling to phrase his question correctly. For occupying your position? For stealing your thunder?

But David is giving him a small, knowing smile. “Leo. When I’ve said that playing beside you is the greatest privilege of my career, I meant every word. How could I possibly resent you for being such an asset to the team?”

Leo finds himself swaying a little on his feet as David continues, “Do I ever wish that I were playing the center forward position? Sure. Would I trade that for the joy of running at your side? Never. When I’m better, Pep can play me as much or as little as he sees fit. Just being on the same pitch with you, even with my butt warming the bench, is the chance of a lifetime.”

Leo’s vision is starting to blur, his eyelids fluttering shut. Suddenly, without warning, he pitches forward and only saves himself from falling by grabbing hold of the footboard.

“Leo,” David says sharply, “you’re asleep on your feet.”

“I guess your speech was just that interesting,” Leo jokes, but a huge yawn in the middle spoils the effect.

“Come over here and lie down,” David suggests.

Leo begins to protest, but the older man interrupts him. “If I let you leave now and you fall asleep at the wheel, your Papi will come back here and beat me to death with my own leg.” David grabs his ensheathed left thigh in illustration, then shoves it to the edge of the bed and shifts his hips over after it to make space. “Come over here,” he repeats, patting the edge of the mattress invitingly.

Realizing that he can barely keep his eyes open, Leo stumbles obediently to the empty side of the bed and lies down facing David, his right hand falling into the space between them. As he drifts off, he is dimly aware of the warmth of his friend’s hand enclosing his fingers and an affectionate kiss being pressed to the top of his head.

It feels like coming home.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 3rd, 2012 03:52 am (UTC)
I can't read RPF, and even if I could I know nothing about football and it's players. Well, okay, I know there's a ball and you kick it into the other team's goal. I suspect you already had a handle on that. :)

What I do know is that you are a gifted writer, and they'll be lucky to have your contribution.

Also my phone keeps auto correcting "gifted" into "cuffed."
Jan. 3rd, 2012 04:01 am (UTC)
Aww, you're sweet. Football RPF is definitely a guilty pleasure. Up till now, a secret guilty pleasure. Sigh.

And ha ha, your phone. I get weird autocorrections all the time. Although I'm not sure what it says about the folks at Apple (or whatever) that they think "cuffed" is more likely to be meant than "gifted."
Jan. 3rd, 2012 10:49 am (UTC)
Awwwww Messilla! I loved tehm here but I must say that I loved El Equipo moc moc even more. They are teenagers! I swear!
Jan. 3rd, 2012 01:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks so much! I love gen Geri, Cesc, and Puyi joking around together - I wish that I could find more of it in fic (or, even better, on YouTube).

And LOL your icon! Xavi is so understatedly adorable.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
This is actually quite lovely! Your voices are sincere and believably, not too heavy handed despite the subject, and I warmed to it as it went on. Messi falling asleep on his feet threw me a little I must say but that's a minor niggle that didn't spoil a perfectly enjoyable read. Thanks :)
Jan. 3rd, 2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much for taking a chance on a new author and even more for commenting! I have written a lot in other fandoms although this is my first footie fic. I'm really glad to hear that you found the voices believable - IC dialogue is very important to me. And traveling back from Japan gave me the worst jet lag I've ever had, so that's my excuse for the somewhat self-indulgent ending ;).
Jan. 3rd, 2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
If you're embarrassed, I can only imagine how I should be feeling... :)

Said this to you before, but it never hurts to say it twice, no? Loved it!
Jan. 3rd, 2012 07:29 pm (UTC)
LOL - I'm not embarrassed about participating in that community so much as admitting my newfound interest to my f-list after previously coming out quite strongly against House RPF. I hate feeling like a hypocrite.

Thanks so much for both your private and public comments on this, though! :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )



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