Tangible Schizophrenia


Everybody Knows

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG
Pairing: Implied Pirès/Henry.
Feedback: Good lines, bad ones, etc.
Disclaimer: This is absolutely fiction and not real and I don’t know these people at all. Any resemblance to any real-life record company is completely accidental.
Notes: Happens between Paranoid and When I’m Gone. Title references the Concrete Blonde song.
Summary: Robert and Deco have a drink together.


Deco had changed, but he’d merely dropped his tie and switched his conservative cotton shirt for a conservative silk one. And possibly had stopped for a shoe-shine, since a faint trace of polish made its way to Robert’s nose. He met Robert promptly in the ground-floor lobby, like they’d agreed. Quite a few people were moving through the area so they had to restrain themselves to the usual vague pleasantries.

Robert was grateful for that. The mirrored surface of the elevator doors told him he looked crisp and calm, but beneath that he was still thoroughly rattled from Thierry’s…he’d honestly believed he hadn’t had a hope, and resigned himself to once again being the friend. And he still didn’t have hope, but he did have the taste of Thierry’s blood in his mouth.

“The garage is the other way,” Deco commented. He was still walking besides Robert, hands casually hooked over his trouser-pockets and looking around at nothing in particular.

“Premier’s only a block and a half away, so most people don’t bother driving. You’ve processed through security and everything, yes?” It seemed as if it’d be a light night as far as FC employees were concerned: Robert didn’t spot more than a handful of people walking in the same direction as them. He tried to remember what was being featured tonight, then suppressed a few swear-words as he recalled he’d meant to ask Thierry that.

It wasn’t an open mike night, since Thierry hadn’t seemed like he intended to go over, and Ruud had talked about going home early. It could be a showcase of another division’s act, but Robert didn’t remember hearing anything about that, and he did try to keep up at least with what was generally going on in-house. Most likely it was just a regular night, with a local DJ and entrance allowed to the general public within certain dress code and physical attractiveness limits.

Deco nodded. He hadn’t talked much during contract negotiations, but then, Cristiano hadn’t allowed anyone much speaking time. “Both the general one and Lehmann’s. Lehmann seems to take security very seriously…or is that standard for the label? Double gates?”

“No, he’s unusually careful. Which I think should be the standard, considering the media these days,” Robert replied. He had to gesture for Deco to see the alleyway to the VIP entrance. “I haven’t been assigned to him for long so I can’t tell you whether he always has done that or if it’s new.”

Interestingly enough, Deco swerved slightly to make sure Robert didn’t touch him. He did it carefully so if Robert hadn’t been looking for it, he wouldn’t have noticed it. “Who were you working with before him?”

Most people would’ve asked how long Robert had been working with Lehmann. Either Deco already knew that, which wouldn’t have been hard to find out, or he didn’t think it was important, which would be more telling. “Oh, half the teams in FC. I worked wherever I was needed, and only recently decided to go for a permanent assignment.”

“So Jens has his own security experts and his own lawyer.” Deco said that like a confirmation and promptly didn’t follow it up with a question or remark about Jens’ paranoia.

Then they entered the club and the darkness hit them like a palpable thing, a heavy blanket that slithered uncomfortably close while remaining just out of reach. The current music was heavy on the bass and was best heard if Robert concentrated on the vibrations coming up through his feet, and the air was strongly scented with cigarette smoke.

Instead of pausing for a moment to adjust, Deco kept on walking. He must have had cat’s eyes, since he didn’t run into anything while twice Robert stumbled over things at which he got a good look. His height and build didn’t seem to count against him either, though he was short enough so that Robert was forced to hurry to keep him in sight.

He finally stopped once he’d reached the bar. A double line had already formed before it; Deco looked at it, then stepped back and apparently remembered Robert. “Busy night.” He didn’t raise his voice, but instead timed his words to fall in between beats. “What do you drink?”

First sign of any socialization. “Let me catch my breath first. For a moment there I thought you were trying to lose me,” Robert said. And if Deco could hear his annoyance bleed into his voice, he was perfectly fine with that.

Deco actually grimaced at that. Then he stepped aside so Robert could shift from the crush of the crowd to the slightly roomier space just off the dancefloor. “I’m sorry about that. I spotted a couple girls taking pictures with their phones by where we came in, and wanted to get away before they mistook me for somebody famous.”

“What kind of agent isn’t fond of publicity?” Robert asked. But just as he spoke, a loud cymbal crash overrode every other sound in the club.

After they’d finished wincing, Robert checked Deco’s expression, but the other man seemed to have completely missed what he’d just said. So he left it there, and since a few spaces had opened up at the bar, took advantage of that opportunity.

When Ruud had first asked him, Robert had contemplated actually making this a social outing. Deco wasn’t quite his type, but the man was good-looking and the few times he’d gotten a word in before Cristiano, had shown traces of a dry sense of humor. And though work and hobbies generally kept Robert well-satisfied, he wasn’t stupid enough to pretend he didn’t have physical needs. He’d been getting a little edgy.

He was very edgy now, and feeling an irrational resentment at having to be in a club full of uninhibited, careless, beautiful writhing bodies. So he ordered his drink and had it on his tab before Deco could say anything.

The martini Robert got tasted like the mints Thierry had once offered him after a working lunch. He put it down after the first sip and cursed himself for being—well, practically ancient for the entertainment industry and still a fool, and then made himself pay attention to Deco.

The other man was certainly paying attention to him. The moment he caught Robert’s eye, he nodded towards his own drink. “Free, or taken out of the paycheck?”

“For me, out of the paycheck. For you, out of Cristiano’s paycheck. I believe that’s how we set things up,” Robert said, leaning against the bar. He idly traced a fingertip in the condensation forming around his glass. “This is Premier. What do you think?”

Anything Deco could’ve said would have told something about him. He nodded and made an approving face. “This is where Cristiano had his FC debut. I remember him telling us all about it over the phone—his mother had it on speaker.”

“I think I missed that one. How was it? Did he enjoy it?” Robert didn’t want to drink any more of his martini and he didn’t particularly want to flirt or even talk business with Deco, but he couldn’t just ditch the man. Tempting as it was. He did, however, stay in his place; if there was any suggestive leaning to be done, then Deco could do it.

Deco shrugged and stood comfortably in place, occasionally sipping at his drink. He seemed to be watching the dancers by the upper-level railing. “He was very excited. Thrilled. He talked a lot about how good of a fresh start it’d been and how it was an omen for his future. He definitely had no idea that you’d be putting a drug-test clause in his contract.”

That was worded like a barb, but Deco had a remarkably emotionless tone that, Robert recognized, left any reading of him up to the observer’s prejudices. “You didn’t object to that, though I understand FC left informing his family of his rehab up to him, once he was able to make that decision.”

“No, I didn’t,” Deco agreed. He frowned into his glass and swirled it, then resumed sipping.

“So how are you related to him?”

“I’m a distant cousin on his mother’s side. My branch of the family moved to Brazil a few generations ago, but we still keep in touch with everyone else. The family is a very important thing for us.” A little bit of steel crept into Deco’s voice, and the look he gave Robert was pointed as a needle. But then that all went away and he was back to slightly detached.

Robert ran his tongue around the inside of his mouth, then asked for a glass of water, which he hoped would help rinse out the taste. “What did you do in Brazil? Same thing? What’s the music scene in Brazil like?”

Ruud had made it very clear that pre-Portuguese citizenship Deco was a very, very big and important unknown. He’d had dark circles under his eyes and a little bit of a testy undertone, and had had stop once to take a call from Cristiano that hadn’t improved his mood, which had made Robert wonder how trustworthy his comments about Deco were. But Van Nistelrooy hadn’t gotten his reputation from nothing and Robert’s view of him was skewed, since Robert mostly had seen him when he was politely trying to get Cristiano to shut up for a moment so other people could speak.

“More or less, but I was more of an unofficial agent. I haven’t been to Brazil in a while, so anything I could tell you would be wildly out-of-date,” Deco said. He shrugged and abruptly drained the rest of his drink. “I came back to Portugal to get a law degree so I could do things properly.”

“The vast majority of agents I meet don’t have university degrees, let alone that,” Robert replied, a little bemused.

Deco looked sharply at him. Then the other man suddenly grinned. It transformed him, cracked off the thick polish and left behind somebody who was younger, more passionate, and hungrier. “I know. I was one, and what I learned from that told me the law degree’s a good idea. Robert, I’ve seen the club and whatever music they’ve got on right now is giving me a headache. If you don’t mind, I think I’m heading home now.”

“I’ll call you a cab. No, it’s all right—I should introduce you to the staff anyway,” Robert said, more than a little relieved.

It hadn’t been long and he hadn’t learned much, which would disappoint Ruud. But then, Robert had done it as a favor and not because he owed or was under any sort of allegiance to the man, and frankly, he was more concerned with himself right now. He did insist on seeing Deco into the cab to make sure the man really left, but after that he went back inside and commandeered a table.

He didn’t let himself get drunk. He drank just enough to blur the sharp angles and make the world a little kinder on the eyes, and then he watched thoughtless young people laugh and cry and rage at each other till he’d re-convinced himself that turning Thierry down had been a good idea. And then he went home, and managed to salvage a relatively good night’s sleep after all. It was a dull sleep, without dreams, but better than none at all.