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Title: Even God Needs a Little Assistance Now and Then
Fandom: Football RPF
Rating: PG-13 for language
Pairing: FC Barcelona gen
Summary: When Leo Messi scored that amazing last goal against Bayer Leverkusen, he didn’t do it alone.
Disclaimer: While inspired by real persons and events, this story is fictional.
Author’s Note: This is a bit of an experiment – one real life event told from three imaginary perspectives.


Leo

Just a few more minutes left to go… Ha, I’ve got the ball again… Dani’s open… Perfect, he’s got a clear shot now… but better keep pressing just in case… Wait, he isn’t really going to… RUN! Owwwwww! YES YES YES YES YES YES YES! FINALLY! Dani, it was all you, here I come, we did it, that was incredible

What? Well, I couldn’t have done it without you!

Ah, there’s the Mister, he looks pleased… And there’s Xavi, up in the stands with Geri – it must be killing him, not being able to play today, he must wish so much that he could be part of this… and yet he looks so happy for me!

I’m the luckiest man in the world.


Xavi

I’m worried about Leo. He's been very unlucky lately, and that just isn't like him.

I'll say this, you always know where you stand with Leo. When he’s happy, he’s smiling and joking around. When he’s not, he doesn’t pretend that things are fine. He just goes quiet.

(Not me. I only joined Geri two minutes ago, and he’s already threatened to find someone else to sit with if I don’t quit bitching. I know that he doesn’t really mean it, although I try to curb my tongue all the same. But it’s tough. I hate this, being able to see everything that happens on the pitch, but unable to do a single damned thing about it. Fucking calf muscle. Fucking thirty-second birthday. I’m already starting to feel like an old man.)

At least we’re playing well today. Tiki-taka triangles all the way up the pitch, so beautiful that I have to blink back tears. But the Germans won’t let us get anywhere near their box. They’re just hunkering down in their half, and ten against three isn’t good enough odds for the most talented player in the world. Not even if this were one of Leo’s best days, which it apparently isn’t.

I wish that I knew what was wrong. It’s obvious that Leo’s been low a lot lately. He’s even missed the occasional practice, no injury, no explanation. He’s disappeared for days after our draws, no tweets, no responses to texts. He’s still playing his heart out on the pitch, storming the goal, creating chances, but his shots just aren’t finding the net. Something is off. He won’t say what. But the constant criticism from the press, from the fans, can’t be helping.

We’re all standing with him in public, of course. Just like we are with Geri, even when his game against Osasuna was so weak that Pep actually pulled him off. That doesn’t mean we don’t discuss it in private. But no one seems to have a clue.

I’m only half aware of a sudden flurry of movement near the German box when something shifts unmistakably in the crowd around us and I realize that we must have scored. Geri nudges me hard in the ribs and pulls me to my feet, roaring his approval. “Did you fucking see that? Leo just pulled off a perfect pass and Alexis beat Cesc to it!”

I’m cheering too, but I know that this won’t be enough, not for Leo. It never is. Once again I curse my aching calf. If only I could be down there too.

As the halftime whistle sounds, I thrust a hand into my pocket and fumble for my phone.


Dani

I have to laugh when I check my phone in the dressing room at halftime. Leo needs a goal. It’s just like Xavi: short, sweet, and to the point. But does he think I’m blind? You’d have to be, not to realize how badly Leo wants to score. Or how many times he’s missed in the past month and a half.

Eh, well, that’s just Xavi. I text him back, Thx for the heads up, Pepito! But then I feel bad – it must be driving him crazy, not being able to take part in this game – so I follow that up with, Ur a crazy control freak but ilu. dont worry.

There’s no time to think once we get back on the pitch. Bayer Leverkusen stops hanging back now that we’re ahead. They’re too tall for us - we can’t stop them from scoring once they get into the box. But Cesc and Alexis team up almost immediately for our second goal, and we can breathe more easily again.

Some of us, that is. Not Leo. Even with a great assist and two goals for the team in an away game, he’s hungry for it. It’s become all too familiar - he gets chances, but he can’t get off a good shot. At the beginning of this game he was smiling even when things didn’t go his way, but now he’s getting that determined set to his mouth that makes me feel a little sorry for any defenders that get in his way. I keep running up the side, I try to link up with him, but it just isn’t working.

Not until he hurtles forward and crosses the ball to me on the wing in the last dying moments of the game.

It’s a beautiful assist, and we’ve surprised the defenders - I have a clear shot. Everything goes clear and quiet in my head. One touch, two, and it’s now or never.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see that Leo hasn’t dropped back after making the pass – he’s still heading towards the goal at top speed, probably in case of a rebound. No need to think – my hips twist automatically and my foot sends the ball soaring into his path. For a split second I think that I’ve made a mistake, that there’s no way for Leo to get there in time and I’ve just given up an easy goal for nothing.

But then he launches himself defiantly at the ball, sliding several meters on his ass as he neatly nutmegs the defender and nicks it into the net.

He’s back on his feet almost immediately, all smiles, pointing his finger right at me as he runs across the pitch. Our teammates try to intercept him, Cesc, Thiago, but Leo doesn’t let them slow him down, just slaps their hands in passing as he keeps trotting towards me.

When he gets close, I open my arms, and he hops up and down on his toes a little, too excited to speak, then rushes forward and grabs me in a huge hug. He’s warm and damp and smells like clean sweat and bruised grass. Almost immediately I get rocked back as Cesc pushes his way into our celebration from behind Leo, then Thiago and Isaac join in. I wait for them to leave, still cheering, before I pull Leo closer, pressing my temple against his, and whisper in his ear, “Un golazo fenomenal. You know I wouldn’t have tried that with anyone else, don’t you?” Leo doesn’t answer, but I know that he heard because his breath hitches and he squeezes me even tighter.

It’s only when we finally peel ourselves apart and I look around that I see the Mister smiling on the sidelines, looking as delighted as his dignity will allow. Then my gaze drifts up to Xavi on his feet in the stands, pumping his fist next to Geri and grinning like a madman, and I suddenly remember his text message. He catches my eye and points straight at me, mouthing, You, and gives me thumbs up with his free hand. And without even hesitating, I point and mouth, You, right back at him.

Nothing makes Leo happier than scoring goals. And nothing makes Xavi happier than orchestrating them. Let him think that he had a hand in this one even if he never set foot on the pitch. After all, God wants us to be as happy as we can. And nothing makes me happier than helping Him out a little every once in a while.





Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
cuddyclothes
Feb. 18th, 2012 04:49 pm (UTC)
I like this a lot. Even though I know nothing about football/soccer, I could follow the action and I liked the interaction between the three men.
flywoman
Feb. 18th, 2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
Hey, thanks very much for commenting! I am not getting LJ notifications today and just happened to notice this when I checked my friends page.

I'm glad that you enjoyed story this even though you're not a football/soccer fan much less a Barcelona fan. It was a bit of an experiment, writing about a real life incident from the three PsOV. Leo's voice may be a bit of a parody but I believe he thinks simply and very much in the present, especially on the pitch. Xavi is a senior player who coordinates a lot of Barcelona's attacks and admits himself that it's hard for him not to be in control. And as for Dani, he and Leo do have a special relationship on the pitch, but I admit that I was just tickled by the idea of such a happy-go-lucky guy being acutely aware of what his teammates need and giving it to them.

The title is a pun, per my usual M.O., because "assisting" is the technical term for passing the ball to the player who scores the goal, and Leo Messi is frequently referred to as The Messiah or even God ;).
jezziejay
Feb. 23rd, 2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
It's like an actual review of the game from inside the players' heads - which is interesting, like looking at the game from a different angle. I just love how you write their comaraderie - you can really feel how much they care about each other. It's very, very sweet - one of those pieces you read that leaves you smiling :)

Leo doesn’t answer, but I know that he heard because his breath hitches and he squeezes me even tighter. Man hugs - I have such a thing for them...

And that photo is so effin CUTE!!!!!!!
flywoman
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC)
These guys really are ridiculously sweet, as far as I can tell. Dani in particular is kind of scary-looking but a total teddy bear, always tweeting to his followers to have a beautiful day because God loves us and commands us to be happy...

And that photo is so effin CUTE!!!!!!!

Ha ha, Leo is always adorable. I just can't even.

Thanks so much for commenting!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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