|B-Sides: Addicted to Love
Author: Guede Mazaka
Thierry had to pinch his nose to keep his drink from going up it while he laughed. He finally managed to stop himself and just shook his head in disbelief. “I can’t believe it.”
“Well, these aren’t going anywhere, so feel free to take a minute to get used to it,” Robin snorted, leaning back. He flicked his fingers at the edges of some of the pictures scattered over the table, then glanced at the clock again. He hid his impatience well, his frustration less so and the huge crack in his uncaring act barely at all. “You’d think rock stars would at least learn to park their car away from a club’s security cameras while they’re sexually harassing groupies. All I had to do to get these was chat up the bartender.”
“Just talk, I hope.” It was meant to be a joke, but Thierry noted the way Robin’s face tightened and grimaced. “Sorry. I think I misspoke.”
Robin shrugged and looked at the clock again. A dry, slightly bitter smile touched his mouth. “No offense to you, because I know you didn’t mean it like that, but why do people think I sleep around? Even if I wanted to, you think Jens would stand for it?”
“Well…you give a certain impression. And correct me if you need to, but you do it on purpose most of the time. It’s easier to trick people into being honest if they think you’re not that attached to your boyfriend, yes?” Thierry slowly said. Then he caught himself, looking guilty, though that wasn’t entirely a slip of the tongue. Some people did it by making people think they weren’t worth paying attention to, and some people did it by being charmingly dense.
The other man flinched and slung himself around to stare hard at Thierry. Then he laughed and pushed himself forward to start riffling through the photos again. “Just don’t say that when Jens is around.”
“What? Boyfriend? Sorry, was I assuming—”
Robin flicked Thierry a sharp look, but it was more because the other man was disturbed than because he was suspicious, Thierry thought. His hands slowed, then resumed picking out photos, and resignation instead of anger underpinned his wry tone when he replied. “Not really. But I think Jens would hear it the other way around, and I’m not exactly his…that.” He glanced at Thierry again. “I don’t turn stupid when I’m away from a computer, you know. Just…never mind.”
The door was opening, which was why Robin had cut himself off. He stopped paying attention to Thierry, but Thierry was watching closely as Robin’s eyes sparked and he straightened up. He always was a vivid person, but he brightened in a way Thierry never saw anywhere else when Jens happened to be in the same room. He couldn’t help it at all.
“You’re late,” Robin said.
“Beckham ran late and fucked up my whole day,” Jens snarled, stalking behind Robin to take the seat next to him. He sat down and glowered at the desk. “What is this?”
And Jens had no clue. Thierry pinched his nose again, but this time, he was trying to stave off a migraine.
* * *
“I changed my mind: Cristiano’s really getting on my nerves again. I don’t even think it’s the withdrawal, because it’s been long enough so that that shouldn’t even really be physical anymore, right? It’s all in his head, and his head’s kind of messed up,” Phil said, pushing his hands down. He braced himself and eased his hips up and forward, then sat down again. “Now he wants to junk the last single completely and use some thing he apparently wrote last night. Acoustic. Do you see what the problem here is?”
To be honest, Timo mostly saw a staticky white wall of frustration. He stared at it, picturing the ceiling that he knew was behind it, then willed his bones to stiffen up enough for him to grab Philipp by the waist and lift them both out of the chair and onto the desk. Phil grunted and hissed as his back hit wood, twisting around so Timo’s knees buckled and he almost slid out.
“His signature sound’s a techno-pop base! The whole album’s built around it! Timo, I can’t—I just don’t think I can—” Somehow Philipp was still going on, getting out the words in between his gasps and groans. His breath stuttered as Timo pushed back into him and he threw back his head…to mumble more about fucking Ronaldo. “It’ll be a disas—ah. Ah. Ah.”
Hmmm, that seemed to work. Timo went in at that angle again, craning his head at the last minute to run his tongue up the underside of Philipp’s chin. The other man moaned and sprawled out beneath him, hands squeezing at Timo’s shoulder. He tensed up again after a few more thrusts, but this time it wasn’t because his mind was still off thinking about work. His eyes might’ve been rolling, but his attention was firmly on Timo now. And for the next few minutes.
Sweaty and exhausted, Timo caught himself on his elbows just as the tip of his nose grazed Philipp’s mouth. They both remained where they were for several moments, breathing hard and fast. The sweat dripped from Timo’s forehead and nose to Philipp’s face, and eventually Philipp stuck out his tongue to catch one of the drops.
“Okay, now I can listen,” Timo said. He grinned when Philipp gave him a half-hearted shove to the shoulder, then bent down to nuzzle at the other man’s neck. “No, I’m sorry, but I just…Ronaldo’s like the last thing I want to hear about when I’m getting reminded why you have the best ass on the floor.”
“Just on the floor? It’s a big company!” Philipp archly retorted. He held his offended expression for exactly one second before snickering, his head falling back as Timo’s mouth roamed towards the pulse in his throat. His arm slowly jerked itself up to lie over his eyes. “Argh, no, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t go off on you like that…I didn’t even ask how your day’s been, have I?”
Timo shrugged and flicked his tongue along Philipp’s skin, tracing the salt of a sweat-trail. “Eh, not much to tell. Leo still wants to get into John Terry’s pants, Posh Beckham was hitting on Thierry’s secretary—”
“Open relationship. Her turn to find the third for this week or something,” Timo said. He had to press his face into Philipp’s shoulder to muffle his laugh when the other man blushed. Considering how kinky Phil could get, he still seemed genuinely surprised to hear about all the sordid goings-on of other people. He’d worked in the industry so long and somehow he still woke up tousled and bleary and amazingly innocent…honestly, that was why Timo hated hearing about Cristiano. That jerk was so close to ruining Philipp’s love of music, but Timo wasn’t allowed to strangle him. It was just too frustrating to think about most of the time. “Oh, and I walked in on Micha fallen asleep on his keyboard again. And he called me ‘Torsten’ before he figured out who I was.”
Philipp put his arm back around Timo’s shoulders and tugged till he came up for a kiss. “Awww…did he blush?”
“Redder than you.” Timo nipped at Philipp’s lower lip, then backed off when the other man tried to lean up. He did it again, but got caught on the third try. Not that he minded when the end result was a long, sloppy kiss. “Though honestly, I’m kind of worried. I don’t think he’s gotten time off from work to get laid in a while, and you remember what happened the last—”
“Oh, my God, I still don’t like using that elevator. Not that it smells ‘cause the staff did a good job of cleaning it, but you know, just picturing what they must’ve done and…and…um.” Squirming enough to make the source of his discomfort known against Timo’s belly, Philipp looked up with an embarrassed, slightly hopeful expression. “Am I talking too much again?”
“No, you’re cute when you babble.” Whereupon Philipp looked annoyed, and Timo nibbled on his nose, and they got into a little bit of a wrestling match till Philipp’s ass suddenly clenched around Timo’s cock again and okay, second round was on its way. “Besides, that is hot to think about—hey, you think Micha deleted the security feed? Or just took it home?”
Philipp rolled his eyes. “Hildebrand.”
“Lahm,” Timo echoed, exaggerating the exasperated tone. He bent down to flick his tongue along the shell of Philipp’s ear. “C’mon. Think about it.”
“Oh, God, I am, God, can we have another time? I so need it to get through this afternoon,” Philipp groaned.
“Happy to oblige.” Hopefully nobody needed the office for the next twenty minutes. Actually, if they did—Timo didn’t really care. Philipp needed to relax almost as much as Michael did, and Philipp, Timo could do something about.
* * *
Lukas bounced into the chair and sent it rolling across the room to bang into Bastian’s, though it only moved Bastian a few centimeters because he’d grabbed onto the counter the moment he’d heard that crap Polish pop coming down the hallway. “Gah, turn that off. I already know I’m the one with the good taste in music.”
“You are not. There’s a difference between what’s good and what sells,” Lukas said. He grabbed onto the arm of Bastian’s chair and leaned over to completely block Bastian’s view of the computer. And then on top of that, he was bobbing and humming along to his really, really crappy music. “What are you doing? Is it important?”
“You’re just proving my—” Oh, never mind, talking wasn’t what they were paid to do anyway. Bastian threw his arm over Lukas to hold him still, yanked out the other man’s earphones, and then swiped Lukas’ music player while Lukas was still yelping in protest. He ducked Lukas’ snatch at him and shoved the stupid thing behind his back. “Just boring quality-checking. Why, is there something more interesting to do?”
After a couple more fruitless grabs, Lukas flopped down over both chairs with an irritated huff; his hands landed on rather strategic places on Bastian’s thighs. “Give me my mp3 player back and I’ll tell you.”
“No. You’re ruining your shitty taste even more by listening to this stuff, and that means that Lehmann’s not going to have a reason to put up with—” Bastian choked once, then groaned and sank back in the seat as Lukas twisted their tongues together. He belatedly felt the other man stick one arm behind his back and abruptly slammed his weight down, but too late: Lukas dug out his mp3 player and shoved it into his jeans pocket, crowing in victory. “What, you want me to come and get that?”
Lukas went still, eyes darkening. Then he gave himself a quick shake and crawled back over Bastian, hands going pretty much anywhere and everywhere. “Well, yeah, but you want to check out who Legal sent up this time?”
Bastian blinked. “They actually sent somebody up? I thought they said Jens had to get his own lawyer ‘cause he was giving too many of the house ones nervous breakdowns!”
“Come and see,” Lukas grinned. “Then come and get me. I dare you.”
* * *
Cesc slouched further in his chair, looking at the ten centimeters that separated his foot from Robin’s side and thinking longingly about making it disappear. “You asshole. I should be slamming the door in your face that you’d even think you could ask me after what you did.”
“Well, you didn’t, and that says a lot about you, doesn’t it?” Robin absently replied, intent on the bunch of wires in his hand. He stripped the plastic coating off the ends, then twisted them together with a pair of pliers, occasionally looking up to see if anything was coming through on the computer monitor. “I bet you’re hoping I wrap this up by sucking your cock dry.”
Whatever reaction had been about to make Cesc twitch got crushed as the monitor suddenly flickered to life, displaying a very familiar room. He frowned and sat up, digging his fingers into the arms of his chair. “Holy…oh, is this why you wanted to hide in my office to do this? There’s no way Lehmann would say yes to you bugging his own office.”
“There’s no way those bugs are staying either; he knows how to find them now, so don’t get all excited. I just wanted to test out the system before I moved it,” Robin muttered. He fiddled a little more with the wires and the audio suddenly crackled to life.
That startled Van Persie into banging his head on the bottom of the desk, but Cesc didn’t really notice that because the monitor was way too fascinating. “Oh, look. It’s our new in-house lawyers. Wonder if they’ll last any longer than the other ones.”
“Let’s see…I know one quit because she had a nervous breakdown, one because Lehmann yelled him into having some kind of attack—not a real heart attack, but chest pains, and…what was…right, that other one because Lehmann tried to strangle him.” Cesc tilted his head, noting Robin’s indulgent smile out of the corner of his eye. “Well, these two are a lot prettier, anyway.”
Robin stopped smiling. He twisted around and put one arm on the desk, pulling himself up enough to see for himself. Several minutes passed. All Lehmann seemed to be doing was briefing the two men on something, looking like he was talking to anyone else, but Robin stayed in place.
“Why me?” Cesc asked.
The other man’s shoulders twitched. “Well, your uncle’s no moron. If somebody told him you were trying to fuck around with Jens, I think he’d believe that, and not that Jens was trying to corner you.” Robin drummed his fingers on the table, then abruptly ducked down and started disconnecting the wires. “Stop trying to mess with me, Cesc.”
Fucking bastard. Fucking know-it-all son of a…Cesc kicked his heel at the floor, then dragged it over in a short arc. He felt the bitterness rise up his throat, then stab out in all directions as it exploded…and then fade, after a few moments. Well. He wasn’t an idealist, after all. “I guess I’ve got enough to worry about between Cristiano and now those MU assholes I beat up. You wouldn’t happen to be able to do anything with that, would you?”
Van Persie shot him a half-interested look over one shoulder. “Why?”
“Because me helping means you can spend more time working on Lehmann. Though good luck there—he’s fucking paranoid. He’s always looking out for when somebody’s going to betray him, so it wouldn’t take much,” Cesc said, slow and careful and deliberate.
Robin turned around to look at him again, hard and long. Then Robin shook his head, laughing a little. “Sometimes I think I kind of like you. I just wouldn’t want to fuck you.”
“I’m beginning to think the same way. Convenient, isn’t it?” Cesc checked his watch, then got up. “Time to go spoil the brat. I’m free later though, if you want to follow up.”
“I’ll think about it,” Robin said, sounding like he already was.
* * *
“Late meeting with Ljungberg.”
“What about this weekend—no, damn, I have to do Lehmann’s computer then and I have to get it done before he’s back in town, so that’ll take up all my time.”
“Early Tuesday morning before everyone else gets in?”
“Torsten, you might not be as walking-dead as Lahmi is, but before your third cup of coffee, you’re still pretty sluggish. And I might be too cranky if Leo brings his latest boyfriend home the night before.”
Sometimes Torsten wondered if Lehmann had discussions like this, since he was the only other person Torsten could think of who’d need to plan when he got to have sex. Except it wasn’t really a comparable situation, since Lehmann seemed to enjoy being sadistically over-organized, and Van Persie probably just ignored schedules altogether and…not what Torsten wanted to be thinking about. He shoved his hands under the faucet, then rolled his eyes at himself when he realized he hadn’t turned on the water yet. At least he’d been lucky enough to run into Michael in the bathroom, since God knew what would’ve happened if he’d deliberately tried to find the other man. Probably something involving pineapples, vintage LPs and Schweini, given the history of their previous attempts at dating.
“How does everyone do it?” Michael wondered, rinsing the soap off his hands in the sink one over. He scrubbed hard between his fingers, then flicked the water off of them before turning off the faucet. “It’s not like they’re any less busy.”
Well, no, but most of them didn’t have Michael’s over-developed work ethic. “They don’t go home to fuck.”
Michael choked, ducked his head into his arm, then sputtered into a light laugh. He walked over to the towel-dispenser and dried off his hands. “Yeah, but I was looking forward to a bed,” he wistfully said. “I’m not flexible enough, I guess…my back hurt so much after the time in the elevator.”
Sometimes Torsten wondered if that university of Michael’s had been a cave or something, because people just didn’t…say that kind of thing…that matter-of-factly. Well, no, Van Persie had come out of the same place, so that couldn’t be it.
He turned around only to find that Michael had missed his whole flinch because the other man was staring curiously at one of the restroom stalls. After a moment, Torsten moved up beside him, but at the same time, Michael took one step forward and put his hands on the either side of the open door, peering around the inside of the stall.
“It’d be really crowded. And—” he tested the walls “—how do these stand up to it? They don’t seem that strong, given the way…ah, Schweini kind of…I didn’t mean…”
“It’s okay, Micha. Everybody’s walked in on those two,” Torsten snorted. He trailed after Michael, not really sure where the other man was going with this. Maybe just plain intellectual curiosity? Michael could get geeky at the weirdest times.
Giving one wall a rap, Michael cocked his head and eyed something further down. Then he grimaced. “I feel really sorry for the cleaning staff. I just…I don’t know how it’d work. It’d be really…”
His eyes drifted upward and across till they hit Torsten, who was watching Michael as closely as possible, and not just because Micha was amazingly easy on the eyes. A bit of a flush started in Michael’s face and he quickly glanced down, then back up. He absently pulled his lower lip beneath his teeth as he awkwardly shrugged. Torsten raised an eyebrow, Micha coughed, and it was all just very…not-quite.
“Worse than an elevator, huh?” Michael finally said.
“As far as your back goes.” Torsten bounced once on his feet out of nerves, then reached for Michael’s shoulder and leaned forward.
He nearly lost his balance at how hard Michael yanked him in the same direction. Their mouths met and then their bodies slammed up against each other, and never mind about maturity or sanitation because Torsten was on fire all over and he wasn’t leaving till he’d burned himself out. And Michael seemed to agree, already moaning deep in his throat and grabbing at Torsten’s hips.
Torsten just barely remembered to pull the door shut. He fumbled for the latch, but Michael’s hand suddenly palmed over his erection—Micha took a bit to get going, but lost his shyness fast once he had—and his hand flew back to Michael’s side. Belly. Thigh. “Fuck.”
“Me? Or you?” Michael gasped against Torsten’s mouth.
“Fuck.” Mad ripping at clothes. “Whoever’s got their trousers down first.”
* * *
Lionel stopped and took his earphones out when he saw Bastian and Lukas coming. Lukas slowed a little bit to explain the rush: “Checking out the new lawyers who just got assigned to us.”
“Balla’s in the men’s toilet fucking Frings,” Lionel replied. Then he yelped and dodged backwards as Schweinsteiger’s skidding stop nearly took him into the wall.
Poldi’s one-eighty wasn’t much better, but at least he swerved away from Lionel. Though that wasn’t for long as he promptly whipped about and grabbed Lionel’s shoulders. “Micha? Really? Which one?”
“Lukas, you’ve seen that,” Bastian gasped. He bent over with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath.
“I have not. You did, and anyway, that was only after—”
“Um, I think Frings would kill both of you,” Lionel hastily said. He really liked Micha, both as a friend and as a roommate, and though he and Torsten were more like friendly acquaintances, he didn’t want to get on that man’s bad side either. Frings was a lot more dangerous than he came off. “I was just giving you a heads-up so you’d know to find somewhere else—anyway, lawyers?”
Bastian started to make a face, then spotted something behind Lionel. He lunged out and grabbed both Lionel and Lukas by the arms, then hauled them into the nearest room, which happened to be a studio with a window to the hallway.
Schweinsteiger dumped them all down on the floor, which wasn’t really that easy on Lionel’s knees. Lionel started to point that out, but got Lukas’ hand over his mouth. Poldi loomed up before him with a manic grin on his face. “Ssssh!”
“Listen,” Bastian hissed.
Voices were coming down the hall: Lionel recognized Thierry’s, but the other two were new. The one doing most of the replying to Thierry was French-accented, but the other one was…Brazilian accent? Interested now, Lionel shoved off Lukas’ hand and cautiously edged upwards till he could just see over the windowsill.
The French voice belonged to a tall, whippet-lean man with a longish face—though not nearly as long as Van Nistelrooy’s—that was softened by a dusting of a goatee. It looked elegantly masculine on him, though it probably would’ve looked like ridiculous on almost anyone else. He was walking right alongside Thierry, while a few paces behind was a younger man with floppy dark hair and big doe eyes. They all were dressed in perfectly-tailored clothing, but something about the way the third man moved made it seem like he hadn’t fully grown into his suit.
“Robert Pirès,” Lukas whispered. His breath tickled Lionel’s ear so badly that Lionel had to bite down on his knuckles to keep from giggling. “The other one’s his paralegal. Didn’t catch his whole name—”
Lionel frowned, trying to remember details from the last guy he’d dated from Legal. “Um, I think that might be Ricardo—everyone calls him Kaká. His parents are friends with somebody on FC’s board and that’s how he got the job, but people like him. He’s supposed to be really good for his age, but he’s still working on his degree.”
“You sleep with him yet?” Bastian asked.
“No. God, I don’t jump every Brazilian,” Lionel hissed back. “I—hey. Hey, wait. I thought Thierry was straight.”
Kaká had gone on ahead, probably to get the elevator or something like that, but Robert and Thierry had stopped just a meter past the window and were animatedly chatting. Thierry was flashing his smile around and laughing, which was normal, but then he gestured a little too hard and his tie flopped over. Pirès casually reached over and flipped it back, then smoothed it down, and Thierry…faltered a little, Lionel thought as he narrowed his eyes. Maybe it was just surprise; people who didn’t know Thierry’s preferences usually at least knew that Lehmann had some kind of weak spot for the man and treated him accordingly.
“I think he’s telling him that.” Lukas lifted his head a little too far and both Bastian and Lionel automatically reached over to shove him down.
Thierry had pulled his arms in, his hands moving in a smaller space. He looked more serious, and Robert looked apologetic as he replied in a rush. In no time at all, Thierry was shrugging and making his ‘well, c’est la vie’ face, and Robert was clearly relieved. Then Kaká called and Robert walked off, leaving Thierry looking after him with a peculiar expression on his face. Like maybe Thierry was sorry now.
“Oh,” Bastian said. He sat down and pressed his hand to his mouth, in deep thought. Then he looked up at Lionel. “Hey, so are you still with that other Brazilian guy? Or did you hook up with the Mexican again?”
Lionel rolled his eyes. “I have work to do.”
“We’re just gonna find out this Friday when we all head down to Premier’s,” Lukas snorted.
“Well, then I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you,” Lionel shot back, scrambling out from between them. “No, really, I’ve got work to do. I left Terry alone with my woofers and I have to get back there before he swipes ‘em from me.”
* * *
Cristiano took off his headphones first and looked intently at Ruud. His mouth moved, but these headphones were top-notch and Ruud couldn’t hear a thing. He waved for Cristiano to stop as he took his own set off, then looked up. “What?”
“I said, what did you think?”
Ruud watched his fingers trace the edge of the padding on the headphones, trying to figure out how to word it. He heard Cristiano sigh impatiently and glanced up to check the other man’s expression, then resigned himself to just offending Cristiano’s pride. “Anybody who knows even a little tabloid gossip will be able to guess what it’s about. Are you crazy? Do you want paparazzi stalking you into the bathroom now?”
“Like they don’t already?” Cristiano snapped. He angrily shoved off the floor with his foot and sent his chair spinning around, his head thumping down on the back. After going around once, his feet hit Ruud’s legs and he stopped. He started to say something, then cut himself off and slapped his hands to his face. “You’re worried about them stalking you.”
“Yes.” The exclamation point on the end of that just barely got stopped before it came out of Ruud’s mouth. “Goddamn it, yes. I’m supposed to be invisible—nobody’s supposed to pay attention to what I do. That’s how this works, Cris—and when it stops working? Then I might as well hand you over to some other agent.”
Cristiano paused, then yanked down his hands over his face. He sat up in the same motion, but oddly enough, he looked more disappointed than upset. He looked at Ruud for a long moment, then glanced down as he pressed one hand to just below his mouth. “Look, I know you hate it, but I don’t really care what happens behind the scenes as long as I can make the music I want to. What I hear--” he gestured towards his ear “—comes out there.” Pointed to the soundboard behind him. “You’re the one who thinks about the other things. Whatever you think works is fine—no, that’s wrong. Whatever you think works is fine, as long as it’s not you shipping me off to Bath again.”
For a moment, Ruud just wanted to reach out and shake Cristiano till some sense knocked into place in the man’s head, because that was such naïve thinking and Cristiano, for his own good, should’ve learned better by now. Except it was clear that Cristiano knew what he was saying, and was deliberately deciding this. Which made Ruud look at his own hands again.
He grimaced and shoved them out of sight, then frowned when he noticed something shaking on the edge of his vision. He looked up and Cristiano looked away, pushing his trembling fingers behind his back. “It’ll stop in a moment,” Cristiano curtly said. “Don’t look at me like that. I don’t even want it anymore.”
Ruud suppressed a sigh, making a note to warn Cesc not to let Cristiano into downtown for a few more days. He stretched out his leg and hooked the base of Cristiano’s chair with his foot, then jerked so it came rolling over. He pulled Cristiano out of the chair while the other man was still complaining and dragged him over, settling one arm around Cristiano’s back. Cristiano’s voice quickly drifted off and he buried his face in Ruud’s neck.
“Okay, I’m lying,” he finally muttered. “But really, I don’t want it as much as I want you.”
The problem was, a good agent wanted control over everything, and wouldn’t hesitate to cut off something that was having a bad effect on their clients’ output. Or what they thought was a bad effect, and Ruud couldn’t honestly think of a single agent who wouldn’t call him one on Cristiano. The sensible thing was to transfer Cristiano to somebody else and get rid of the conflict-of-interest, but Ruud was damned if he’d get to the point where he had to talk somebody else into letting him see Cristiano.
“What did you think of the actual song?” The other man shifted to a more comfortable position on Ruud’s knees. “Did you listen past the lyrics at all?”
“I loved it,” Ruud said after a moment. “It’s much better than the first—better than most of your album, actually—damn it, Cris, get your tongue out of my ear. We’re not doing it here. I’ve got a whole apartment for that.”
Said tongue only moved as far as Ruud’s neck, straying dangerously close to his collar where it seemed like his skin was beginning to emit steam. “But you liked it! I just—oh, release whatever. I just wanted to make sure you heard this one.”
Ruud tightened his hands on Cristiano, then sighed. “I’ll talk with Lahm and Lehmann,” he muttered. “Though I don’t want you complaining about too many meetings with Marketing, because this time you brought that on.”
“I won’t, I won’t,” Cristiano promised. He kissed Ruud’s neck again, his hands straying down Ruud’s chest. “Sorry, my hands just want to celebrate…”
“So does your cock, apparently.”