|Kinda I Want To
Author: Guede Mazaka
A strange pattering noise slowly made its way into Ruud’s consciousness. He started to lift his head, but had to put it back down due to severe disorientation.
After resting a moment, he tried rolling over onto one side. His head didn’t hurt, but it did feel as if it’d been stuffed full of cotton, and there was an awful thick bitter taste in his mouth. He rubbed at his eyes, then pushed off his elbow into a sitting position.
“Cristiano called you seven times—well, that was hours ago,” someone said. They snorted and continued…typing, that was what the noise was. “I got fed up with it and turned off your phone. It’s over on the end-table if you want to check your messages.”
“This is Jens’ flat,” Ruud slowly said, looking around. He was still in the suit he’d put on in the morning, and he smelled…stale. His hair felt greasy when he ran one hand through it, and even though it’d been more than a few minutes now, he couldn’t seem to shake his grogginess. “Damn it, Robin, how did I get here?”
Robin was sitting on the floor, cross-legged with a laptop perched on one knee, and another laptop plus cables going to and from modem-like boxes scattered around him. He flicked Ruud an annoyed look. “How should I know? Odonkor came pounding on the door and when I was stupid enough to open it, he dropped you on me when you should’ve gone to Raúl. Or maybe a detox center.”
The strange lack of a headache and nausea—which made sudden sense as Ruud’s memories clicked together. He scraped his tongue over his teeth to get rid of its disgusting coating and pulled at his tie, then yanked it off over his head. Apparently Robin hadn’t done anything besides drag him straight to bed. “I wasn’t drunk. Damn it, I must’ve picked up the wrong bottle.”
That earned him a sharp look from Robin, who then shook his head in mock disappointment when Ruud glared back. “Ronaldo’s teaching you some of his tricks, huh.”
“It was just aspirin. I took the combo one that takes care of insomnia too instead of the…never mind.” Ruud pulled off his suit-jacket and dropped it on the bed beside him, then reached for his phone. And then he took his hand back. And put it back out and picked up the goddamned phone, thumbing it on as he did.
He winced when he saw the ‘recent call’ list: twenty-eight attempts by Cristiano, the first one starting…about forty minutes after he’d tossed back the wrong pill. He also had three voicemails and fifteen text messages, none of which he was particularly looking forward to checking. It was a pretty sure bet that he wouldn’t find an apology in any of them—Cristiano had been moody for the past two days and then yesterday evening, he’d gone off over dinner about how Ruud was being indecisive about meeting this Deco. Indecisive like he was trying to make sure Jens didn’t screw Deco, and by extension Cristiano, over the new contract because Cristiano damn well wasn’t going to bother reading through all the fine print.
“Odonkor said he thought you’d gotten drunk off vodka at work,” Robin said. Not sounding all that interested—more like he was getting uncomfortable with the silence.
Ruud’s mind flashed him an image of his hand around a bottle, but his mouth didn’t taste like it. The pills were by way of Raúl and had been leftover from a bout of serious insomnia several months ago, when Ruud had ended up going five days without sleep, so they’d probably knocked him out before he’d had any vodka. Not that he’d been thinking of mixing alcohol and sedatives, because that was damned stupid. But then, so was mixing alcohol and painkillers, and he had been thinking about that, apparently. Mostly he remembered being so angry he wished he could break Cristiano’s neck.
“Does Jens know I’m here?” he asked.
Robin stared intently at his computer screen, typing one-handed while with his free hand, he adjusted a knob on one of the many little plastic boxes around him. Occasionally he absently pulled at his nose.
His neck would be one Ruud wouldn’t mind breaking either. “Van Persie. I asked you a question.”
“And I just remembered that you got me jailed, so go to hell,” Robin snapped. A slight flush rose in his cheeks, peaked at the bones topping them, then slowly went back down.
After a moment, Ruud swung his legs over the side of the bed and put his elbows on his knees so he could press his head into his hands. Whatever part of those pills had been painkillers, it was definitely wearing off. “I told—”
“Jens told me you apologized. Not that that means anything,” Robin curtly replied. He hit a key so hard that it sounded like a double-strike, then put the laptop down. After slapping its lid almost all the way down, he got up and stalked out of the room.
Well, apparently Ruud didn’t need to worry about any unwelcome advances from that direction. Funnily enough, he didn’t feel that good about it.
He considered going after Robin, but tossed that idea—the other man obviously wasn’t in a mood to listen to anything right now, even if Ruud had felt up to having that kind of delicate conversation. And then Ruud’s phone rang again, and it was Cristiano, so the question of what to do was a bit of a moot point.
He took the call after the third ring. “Cris?”
*Ruud! Where have you been? Where are you? You said you’d be home hours ago!*
“That was before you showed up with Deco. Listen, Cris, we need to talk about how you did that—”
Cristiano’s voice flashed from worried to defensively furious. *I did what I did to make sure it got done. You promised me you’d do this, but every time I asked when you could see him, you said you were busy. I’m not letting you go back to your old habits.*
“My old habits?” Ruud snarled. “You mean like forward planning and tact?”
It went downhill from there.
* * *
Ruud’s argument with Cristiano was loud enough for Robin to hear it from the next room over. He hung around for the first twenty minutes, thinking maybe it’d be informative, but honestly, it was just like having a TV tuned to a soap in the bedroom. And Robin wasn’t particularly fond of soaps.
He slipped back in to shut his equipment down, then left to buy a quick dinner at the café across the street. When he came back twenty minutes later, Ruud was ending his call in a flurry of vicious Dutch and English curses, not all of which fluidly went together. Robin peeked in to see Ruud just keep himself from flinging his cell-phone into the wall. The other man slowly lowered his arm to stare expressionlessly at the cell for a few minutes. Then he grimaced and apparently started to check his voicemails.
Judging by his stony expression, he was going the masochistic route and listening to Cristiano’s first. That was going to take a while, and that also wasn’t something Robin was interested in sticking around to see.
Robin did a quick check to make sure nothing that’d tip off Ruud’s moral sense—if that was even working right now—was easily accessible, then headed out. During the elevator ride down, he did wonder if maybe it’d be a better idea to go back up and knock Ruud out. After all, the last time Ruud and Cristiano had had a major fight, it’d ended with Robin crawling out of a flaming car-wreck—fine, that hadn’t entirely been the other two men’s doing, but Jens might not have been quite so angry if they hadn’t also been fucking up things. And the result of the fight before that one had definitely all been on Ruud’s shoulders.
Not that Robin had any regrets about moving from Amsterdam to Jens’ apartment, but it did prove that Ruud had a habit of lashing out in extreme ways when he was upset over Cristiano. And once again, Robin also had to wonder what the other man saw in that spoiled prick.
He didn’t think about it that long, since he didn’t care about Cristiano all that much and Ruud had dropped off his list of people with which he wouldn’t mind doing business. Though Robin still didn’t really want to retaliate against Ruud; he just wanted the man to stop letting disasters happen that kept Jens out overnight or longer. Speaking of which, he could stop thinking about the gossip now and start thinking about what he needed to do if he was getting back before Jens did.
A couple of hours later, Robin was slipping from the kitchen door of some nondescript diner into one of the back booths. Once seated, he picked up the napkin and rubbed hard at the side of his face and his fingers. He checked the paper and it was covered in gritty black streaks.
“What the hell have you been doing?” Cesc asked, coffee halfway to his mouth. His eyes were a little wide and he did look slightly suspicious, but overall he just seemed exhausted. His shoulders were slouched, his shirt was badly wrinkled and the hollows in his cheeks stood out like he’d been starving himself. “You look like you’ve just come from the sewers. Kind of smell like it, too.”
“That’s from back there, not me. Great place you picked.” Robin jerked his head at the kitchen, then straightened up and dropped the napkin as a waitress approached. He fended her off with an order of “whatever my friend had, thanks” and a smile, then turned back to Cesc. “So?”
Cesc normally jumped right into sharing the gossip, but this time he sat back and drank a couple swallows of coffee like he’d been ordered to do it. Eventually the corner of his mouth sort of twitched and he took a deep breath, looking like the next thing he was doing was going home and falling into a coma. “I have a feeling you already heard, but Cristiano brought in this Deco guy without telling anybody today. Sorry, but you’re not going to get a first impression from me—I wasn’t there long enough. Sent you the dirt I do have on him.”
“I got that. Haven’t had time to look through all of it, but I’d like to hear more about why he lost his other jobs,” Robin said. He picked at the gunk beneath his nails.
“You’ll have to get it from someone else. You know he’s really Brazilian? He has Portuguese citizenship now, obviously, but yeah. I can’t really dig into what he got into over there.” If Cesc had sounded any more listless, he’d have crumpled up like paper under his own weight. His fingers traced little circles on the counter-top.
“No kidding.” Robin watched the other man till his coffee came. He just added sugar to it since he didn’t trust this kind of place to throw out expired creamer. “What’s with you? You’re acting like somebody went and died on you.”
Cesc half-smiled, and that half was pure sarcasm. “You’re just worried you’ll have to go back to sneaking around Jens’ back to find out what’s going on in the office. Look, I’m fine, you’ll still get your daily rumor newsletter, now what about what you’ve got for me?”
After a few seconds, Robin reached into his jacket and pulled out a folded-up newspaper. He dropped it on the table between them. “It’s pretty boring. The only interesting part is in the book review section.”
Why Cesc cared who his uncle was sleeping with was his business, Robin supposed. Though he did note the little twitch in Cesc’s fingers before he picked up the paper.
By now, Cesc was a lot more casual about it and didn’t make it look so obvious that they were resorting to dumb spy-movie moves. He flipped the paper so it stood stiffly up, glancing over the column on the front left, then put it down but kept his hand on top of it. “Street talk says that Carrick over at MU has something on the hook. It’s Canadian-fake-English, has curly dark hair and whines about its problems with FC in bars to the wrong people.”
“Sounds pretty,” Robin drawled. He finished off his coffee and tossed down a couple bills as he got up. “See you later. If you haven’t worked yourself into your uncle’s examination room by then, anyway.”
He didn’t think he imagined Cesc’s start at that, but unfortunately, Robin didn’t have the time just then to follow up on it. If he hurried, he’d barely have time to get this crap rinsed off of him before Jens showed—if nothing had delayed the other man again.
* * *
Jens had stripped to his dress-shirt and trousers by the time he made it to the kitchen. His back and neck ached. His mind was too tired to string more than two thoughts together at a time. His throat was sore from all the fast talking he’d had to do, and swear to God, if anyone remotely reminded him of something Portuguese right now, he was going to kill it. Actually, maybe he’d just go for the next thing he saw—
--he paused, then put his folded suit-jacket down on the kitchen table and dropped tie, cuff-links and balled-up socks on top of that. “What are you doing?”
Robin went from standing on his toes back to fully on his feet as he put the box he’d just gotten from the top cabinet on the counter. The muscles in his back looked like they’d been made from bunched-together satin and moved like said satin bundles were being slowly drawn through the circle of a forefinger touched to a thumb, like a magic trick seducing the eyes. His hair was damp and a trickle sloped from his hairline down along the groove of his spine to disappear into the white sheet he had loosely wrapped around his waist. Very loosely: the tops of his hipbones curved up from the soft folds. “Snacking. Hey, you’re home. I don’t know if you got the message, but Ruud was here. He just left twenty minutes ago, though.”
“No, what are you doing with my bedsheet?” Jens said. He went over to the counter and got out a glass, then filled it with water.
“Is this one of the ‘six-hundred-count Egyptian cotton’ ones? You know, I really can’t feel the difference between it and a five-hundred-count.” After opening the cereal box top, Robin shoved one arm in up to the elbow. He pulled it and a handful back out, then began munching away. “Calm down, Jens,” he mumbled. “Ruud ripped a big part of it while he was arguing with Ronaldo or something, so you’d have to pitch it anyway. And he also got the bathroom towels all stained cleaning up some other mess he made, so I had to use this for now.”
Jens pulled out his cell phone and PDA to scroll through his messages. He had gotten something about Ruud, but hadn’t had the time to read past the part about David taking care of it. “Where is he now?”
“I think he went over to his apartment to have part two of his fight with Ronaldo.” Done with his handful, Robin started sticking his fingers in his mouth and sucking them clean. “Cleaned up after him already. Nothing’s broken, just looked like he spilled a bunch of stuff. Still might want to do something about him, though. He said he wasn’t drunk, but that he’d taken the wrong painkiller.”
Great. Send one away for rehab and the other one got the habit. Much as Jens didn’t want to get even more drawn into the Ruud-Cristiano tangle than he already was, he didn’t have many other options now. Stupid idiot Dutch.
He slightly revised that statement when he lifted his glass of water and just glimpsed Robin flicking an over-the-shoulder look at him. After a long sip, Jens put the glass down and then tossed his cell and PDA next to it. He caught a look of something else and grabbed Robin’s wrist, pulling it towards him.
Robin stepped back and tried to turn, but Jens curved his other arm around him to grab onto the counter, tightening the space too much for that. “What the hell is under your nails?” Jens asked.
A thin, broken line of black rested just above the quick of three of Robin’s fingernails. This close, Jens could smell a trace of grease beneath the soapy damp scent coming off Robin in waves. He bent Robin’s hand up; Robin put up enough resistance to make Jens push him forward into the counter-edge. “Ow. You know, you could probably see better if you weren’t trying to bend my arm over my shoulder.”
“You were eating with this hand? What are you doing, trying to poison yourself?” Jens took his hand off the counter and put it on Robin’s hip, pinning the other man in place. At least that was the idea, but the sheet shifted loose beneath his fingers and he had to shuffle them quickly onto Robin’s bare waist to keep his grip.
“You’re such a clean-freak,” Robin muttered, jerking his hand free. Then he went still, breath hitching, as Jens sniffed up the side of his neck. Water on his skin began to soak into Jens’ shirt.
The rest of him smelled fine, so Jens pulled away and picked up his PDA again, ignoring how Robin had been turning towards him. He sent off an automatic alert to security at Ruud’s flat, then started composing a message to send to whoever was free for tracking Ruud down. One-handed, because Robin was starting to twist and push, getting annoyed and impatient, so Jens did give in enough to feather his other hand over the front side of Robin’s hip. He drew his fingertips along the top fold of the sheet, which kept slipping down till finally he touched a few coarse curls.
Robin snarled irritably in Dutch and smacked his other hip back, then pointedly slid it along the line of Jens’ cock. His arm knocked into the cereal box and sent it skittering down the counter, spilling all over the place. “Okay, you are being one serious bastard right now. You know what I was doing…damn it, Jens…”
Jens twisted his hand around and pushed two fingers down behind the sagging sheet till he grazed Robin’s prick. He scissored it between his fingers and pulled it out, then idly began rubbing his thumb in circles over it. If Robin had been that desperate, his hands were free to do something about it, but he kept them on the counter. “Look, I’ve got a distraught agent running around who’s either verging on alcoholism or barbiturate abuse. I need to know where he is. I need—you know, I really do need a second assistant. Thierry’s out, so is Freddie and David…Cesc would be better for setting on Cristiano…”
“Can I interview them? I’ve got time to do--ah.” Robin hissed through his teeth, jerking so his prick leaped away from the nail Jens had just flicked against its tip. He slowly leaned back against Jens, suspiciously docile while Jens trailed fingers up his chest. “I’ve got a couple good questions.”
“Like what?” Jens snorted. A hot tongue suddenly wriggled against his ear and he flinched, misspelling a word. Encouraged, Robin immediately bit Jens’ earlobe and only let go when Jens gave his right nipple a hard half-twist.
Even then, Jens had to jerk his head to pull his earlobe from between Robin’s teeth. The other man whistled his breath and pushed himself back, rubbing his ass insistently into Jens. He was starting to get a response. “Like if they think it’s ethically right to cruise for a fuck at work.”
“That’d be funny if you asked that,” Jens dryly said. He shoved his hand back down and gave Robin’s cock one long, firm pull, cutting off the other man’s indignant reply.
Then he put down his PDA and got Robin by both hips, pinning the other man tight against the counter. He couldn’t think of anyone free and trustworthy, so he’d likely have to go find Ruud himself and in that case, it could wait the few minutes he needed to make sure his first reaction on finding Ruud wouldn’t be to crack a blunt object over his head.
Robin leaned over before Jens even said or did anything, the sheet rustling down to expose his buttocks. It was still stuck somewhere in the front so he couldn’t get it the rest of the way down, though he tried to with a couple kicks. One of them nicked Jens in the ankle and he slapped Robin’s right buttock, then pushed in and wrenched the other man’s hands back while Robin was still gasping and humping up in reaction.
He took off his belt and looped it once around Robin’s wrists before threading the end back through the buckle. The red mark on Robin’s ass from his slap was already fading, but when he traced a fingertip over its blurry edge, Robin arched and groaned. The other man bucked backwards as if trying to fuck himself onto Jens’ finger right there and almost slid off the counter; Jens had to lift him back down.
“And then there’s ‘if your boyfriend hit on a coworker and they turned him down, what’s the proper response?’” Robin continued. He twisted and shook his leg, sending himself diagonal by a few centimeters, to get the sheet completely off. “Hope you appreciate I really wanted—to do something—nasty to Ruud—”
“You’re still annoyed about that?” Actually, Jens would’ve blamed that more on him, if he’d been in Robin’s position.
Keeping one hand on the small of Robin’s back, Jens moved off to reach for his trousers, then winced as his feet reminded him of how sore they were. He looked at Robin for a moment, then kicked the sheet out of the way and got down on his knees. He could hear the other man moving around, trying to see what was going on.
He put his hands on Robin’s thighs and held them down, then leaned forward so the end of his nose just grazed the inside of Robin’s right leg. Robin cut himself off halfway through a grunt and stilled, holding his feet stiffly parallel to the ground. Jens reached down, tickled his fingers along the sole of one, then let Robin’s recoil push his face between the other man’s legs.
It was all clean down there, more musky sweat in the damp soap-scent, but still fresh. He slid his hands up and pushed aside Robin’s buttocks. Took a bite at one on the way to putting out his tongue and running it up the cleft of Robin’s ass. Robin jerked, shuddered and moaned. Jens repeated the gesture and Robin let out a surprised noise, then started to ask something.
He stopped when Jens flicked his tongue-tip in a half-circle, then pressed hard with it till part of it slipped inside of Robin. Jens got his thumbs up between Robin’s buttocks and forced them farther apart so he could push his tongue more forward; he had to shift sideways to avoid Robin’s feet, which were banging against the drawers and making them rattle. Robin whined and twisted madly against Jens’ hands, then subsided with a soft hiss when Jens slammed him back by the thighs. A little sweat was already finding its way to Jens’ tongue as he pushed it in and out of Robin, stinging his tastebuds.
He pulled his tongue all the way out and threw all his weight against Robin’s legs as he scraped his teeth over the hole. Got his jaw rattled by the way Robin was desperately bucking; he put a hand forward to feel the state of the other man and Robin hitched himself up so hard he nearly lifted his whole upper body off the counter. The thud from him coming down made the floorboards shake.
Jens backed off to avoid getting caught in that and then got a little distracted by the view. He loosely encircled Robin’s right ankle with his fingers, rubbing over the bone with his thumb, and with his other hand, drew patterns over Robin’s inner thighs with the spit-trails he’d left. Robin shivered and stretched, getting his left toes on the floor and hooking his right ones in a drawer-handle and trying to spread his legs an extra few centimeters. He lost both footholds when Jens leaned back in and bit his way up the inside of Robin’s right leg, going from knee all the way to the perineum behind the ball-sac. Once there, he slid his tongue along it and then dipped into Robin again—nearly gagged because Robin somehow shoved himself back and got himself seated more firmly on Jens’ tongue. He whimpered when Jens promptly pulled away. “Damn it, Jens, please--”
“Thank you for not doing something stupid to Ruud,” Jens said, clamping his hand on the back of Robin’s left knee. He leaned forward and shoved a finger into Robin, then squeezed in his tongue alongside it and that was it: Robin jerked so he slammed himself into the counter-edge, screaming, and came so Jens could hear the come splattering on the counter.
By the time Robin made his first attempt at moving, Jens had gotten back up and picked the sheet off the ground. He’d untied his belt from Robin’s wrists and tossed it aside, then shifted the other man over to scrub at the counter with the wadded-up sheet.
“Yeah, I’m still annoyed at Ruud. That was the first time I’d ever been in jail.” Robin hauled himself further up onto the counter, then got an arm under himself and slowly lowered himself onto his feet. He staggered a little before he got his balance. It probably didn’t help that his eyes were focused below Jens’ waist.
Jens paused, then looked at him again. “What?”
“The other times, I got bail or it got settled before they could put me in,” Robin said, shrugging. He glanced at Jens’ face, then stepped up and started tugging at Jens’ trousers, only half-covering his discomposure.
It took grabbing his wrist to make him look Jens in the eye. “That was the first time.”
“Yes—what? Don’t tell me I faked you out about my record or anything,” Robin snapped. He ducked his head and was apparently going to nuzzle at Jens’ neck when Jens forced his head up by the chin. His irritation cracked enough to let Jens see a flash of fear in his eyes, like when he’d been begging Jens not to throw him out. “Don’t tell me you would’ve done something else if you’d known, either. You don’t work like that.”
“No.” And as usual, Robin being able to read him that well didn’t make Jens feel comfortable. “You really were worried back then.”
“You get that now and not when I was nearly killing myself?” Robin’s brows arched over eyes that were more nervous than sarcastic.
He tried to jerk his chin down again. This time, Jens let him, though Jens kept his hand cupped over Robin’s jaw. He ran his thumb over Robin’s lower lip, feeling a bit of tongue come out to meet that, then pulled the other man forward. Robin was still shaking a little, though he settled during the course of the kiss. His hands grabbed almost convulsively at Jens’ sides, but eventually loosened and then dropped lower.
“You’re still hard, in case you forgot about that,” Robin dryly commented when they came up for air. “Want me to take care of it?”
“I think I’m going to break my rule about you not messing with FC people and ask you to track down Ruud,” Jens said. Though he settled his hands on Robin’s shoulders instead of reaching for his PDA.
The other man tensed up and shot Jens a glare. Then he got the edge of humor in Jens’ voice and relaxed, though he still didn’t look too amused. “Ruud can go fuck himself,” he said as he dropped to his knees. “I’d rather suck you off.”
* * *
Ruud had hailed a cab, went back to the office and gotten his car before he realized he didn’t have his cell phone on him. Which meant he’d left it at Jens’ apartment. Which meant his plan to at least avoid dealing with Lehmann tonight was…well, royally fucked. Damn it.
He sat in his car and glared pointlessly through the windshield for several minutes before he finally gave up. There wasn’t any other way he was getting his phone back, and he damn well wasn’t leaving it where Jens could get to any messages Cristiano might leave. Especially right now.
Jens’ car was in his space when Ruud pulled back into the garage complex, which killed any last hope he might have. The best chance he’d have now was to say as little as possible, try not to listen too closely to what Jens said, and just walk quickly.
He got up to Jens’ apartment fast enough. His hand paused in the air as he lifted it to press the call-button and he cursed beneath his breath, then made himself push it. And…then he tried again after a good two minutes had passed.
The door opened that time. A little snappishly, and the Jens standing in the doorway was one Ruud hadn’t quite seen before: barefoot, with shirt-tails hanging out of his trousers and flushed cheeks. It was a little odd considering his temper, but Jens didn’t usually get red in the face when he was drunk, climaxing, or screaming his head off.
Then Ruud looked over Jens’ shoulder and saw Robin padding out of the kitchen with nothing but an abused-looking bedsheet keeping him from being naked, and that probably explained that. He’d been pretty drunk at Cristiano’s launch party, but he did remember…that unique sight. “Jens. Sorry to come back, but I left my phone here.”
“I needed to speak to you anyway,” Jens said. He stepped back to let Ruud in.
“You can take it out of my paycheck. I’m sorry about that—I lost my temper a bit, and…” Ruud came in and stood by the door while Jens locked up. He wasn’t intending to stay long, but Jens glanced at his shoes and that meant Jens intended him to stay, so…Ruud sighed and bent down to take those off. “I really didn’t know that Cristiano was flying him in.”
“I believe you about that.” Jens turned around and started walking into the next room. He didn’t bother looking at Robin, who was strolling pretty slowly towards the bedroom and making no attempt to hide the fact that he was avidly watching.
After a moment, Ruud reluctantly followed him. Once they were both in, Jens shut the door—he paused for a moment to signal something to Robin—and then leaned against the wall. He had to do that, since the room didn’t have any furniture. It did have some windchimes, big windows that currently showed the nighttime city lights, and some plants nestling around an interesting fountain, which consisted of a split bamboo spout trickling water into a wooden basin.
Jens lifted one hand, then put it down. He shook his head and muttered to himself before looking up at Ruud. “All right, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t understand what the problem is. Ronaldo’s off drugs, you’re sleeping together, you can’t be distracted by the possible conflict-of-interest now, Robin’s not hitting on you…now what?”
Ruud blinked and let the pause go on for too long before he tried to reply, and right then his nerves slipped out of control so he stammered a little. “I—wait—I don’t know. I tell Cris exactly what I’m doing and why, and I ask him if he’s got any problem with it. Obviously he does if he’s going to pull stunts like today, but he doesn’t tell me then and I can’t torture it out of him.”
‘It wouldn’t be a bad idea’ went through Jens’ mind. He didn’t try to keep Ruud from seeing it, either. “Look, is this a completely personal issue at this point?”
“Not if Cristiano figures the best way to get at me is through my professional life, I’d think,” Ruud said a little too sharply. He grimaced at himself and looked away, out the windows. It was a nice night. Too nice to go home and spend it locked in his flat arguing with an uncompromising Cristiano. “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever been in this room.”
“You haven’t.” Jens started to add something else, but was cut off by a knock on the door. He let out an irritated sigh and opened it to have a quick conversation that was too low for Ruud to hear. Then he abruptly yanked the door open further and stalked through it, roughly shouldering Robin out of the way. “I’ll be back in a second. We’re not done here.”
Robin put up a hand to keep himself from running into the doorframe and gazed after Lehmann with raised eyebrows. “Guess that wasn’t good news,” he muttered. He’d gotten dressed and was wearing track-pants and a wrinkled gray button-down that didn’t look like it was his size. “Oh, your phone.”
He tossed it over to Ruud, who only decided to catch it at the last moment and so had to scramble to keep it off the floor. Even then, it was really tempted to drop the thing in Jens’ fountain. “I’m sorry.”
“What?” Blinking, Robin slewed around to face Ruud.
“For the mess in Portugal. That didn’t have anything to do with you,” Ruud said. In the end, he just made sure his cell was off and stuffed it into his pocket.
Robin stared at him for a long time, with no particular expression on his face. Then he shrugged and slouched back against the door-frame. “I’m not going to waste my time going after you, believe me. Actually, I want my knife back.”
It was Ruud’s turn to be confused, though after a moment he did remember. He winced and spread his hands in another apology. “I threw that out—I didn’t want Cristiano finding it and asking about it.”
“Oh. Well, I should’ve seen that coming,” Robin said with a half-laugh. He smiled humorlessly at his feet. “Never mind. It didn’t have any sentimental value or anything like that—it just was a good knife.”
“It still feels like I should make it up to you,” Ruud muttered. He shoved his hands in his pockets, but they quickly grew clammy and cold so he pulled them back out. The floor in the room was chilly tile and his feet were starting to numb, so he shuffled about a bit. He ended up about a meter closer to Robin.
The other man glanced sharply at him, then laughed a second time as he shook his head. “Forget it, Ruud. I didn’t do rebounds even before I hooked up with Jens.”
Ruud felt his inhale tear as it went over his teeth. The exhale burned in his throat; he took a quick, fast step towards Robin, whose eyes widened slightly but who didn’t move back. “You know, you’re right. We’re already even anyway because you owe me for introducing you to Jens.”
“Introduce? You stood around while he tried to strangle me,” Robin incredulously said.
He did try to step back this time, but not fast enough to keep Ruud from grabbing his arm. “You smart-ass little punk, you liked that. You still like it. That’s all—Jens fucks with you better than anybody else you’ve met so far, plus he’s a pretty wealthy catch. But you’re just another whore whether it’s money or not, and all anybody has to do to get you on your knees—”
Robin did get his elbow into Ruud’s belly, then a glancing hit on Ruud’s jaw. Ruud let his head snap back and turned with that to get his arm around Robin’s waist. He threw the other man back up against the door—Robin spat curses at him in a pained voice—then lunged for Robin’s throat.
His fingers did graze it, but Robin twisted under his hand so instead it slipped to the frame. Then the other man threw himself sideways—he lost his balance and Ruud reached down to grab him by the ankle, but got a look at Robin’s face on the way and hesitated. His stomach lurched, then twisted hard and instead Ruud ended up slamming his hand against the ground to catch himself. He grabbed at his mouth and dry-retched into his palm.
“I am not a whore,” Robin hissed.
Ruud looked up and a fist caught him on the point of the jaw. This one was hard enough to nearly make him black out; his hand hit something hard and that was how he knew he’d been falling backwards from the blow. He tried to catch himself on the doorframe, but a hard grip seized him by the back of the neck and flung him back into the other room.
Jens walked in afterwards, shutting the door behind him. His other hand was slowly flexing by his hip, but otherwise he looked dangerously in control. “You’d better have a decent explanation for that. My mother just gave me an eighteen-piece cutlery set.”
“I…don’t, actually.” Another dry heave wrenched at Ruud’s gut and he wrapped his arms around his mid-section, staying down on his side where he’d fallen. The agonizing squeeze around his stomach eventually eased off and he made an attempt to get up, but only got as far as sitting before he felt too nauseated. “Except that I haven’t seen Robin in a while and I was still under the impression that he was a self-serving thrill junkie. I’m really surprised you’ve gone far enough to acknowledge him in public—I know he’s on payroll, but do you really think you’ve got any control over him that way?”
He froze as Jens abruptly stepped forward, but frowned in confusion when the foot slowly withdrew. From all appearances, Jens would’ve liked nothing better but to have a go at strangling him, but instead the other man turned around and pressed his head against the door for a second. Then he spun around again and jabbed a finger at Ruud. “Get this through your head: you’re not getting fucked right now. Not by me, not by Robin…in fact, I’m locking you in the utility closet if I have to so you don’t go looking for the Beckhams either.”
Ruud blinked. And again. And slowly became aware that his jaw was hanging slightly open. He shut it, swallowed hard, and then said, “You knew about that?”
Jens rolled his eyes. “One, it’s my job. Two, you weren’t exactly discreet. I’m shocked Cristiano never heard about any of that, considering how every damn time you get depressed, you go out and fuck whoever’s nearest. I’d send you to a therapist, but I can’t think of any in this town who wouldn’t fuck you if you asked.”
“I—” Well, that was true. “I only started it after I met Cristiano. Believe it or not, I used to be a fairly together person.”
“That’s nice. It’s not all that useful for right now, but it’s nice,” Jens sarcastically said. He opened his mouth, but after a moment, just sighed and stared at the windows. “I’d like to fire you right now just for what you tried to pull with Robin, but I kick you onto the streets and Ferguson goes home and opens a bottle of champagne. Having you around distracts him from what else we do.”
Ruud slowly got to his feet. His stomach still felt a little uneasy, but he probably wasn’t going to collapse again. At least physically. “You and Robin—so that’s real? Are you sure that’s a good idea? I mean that seriously this time.”
“It’s not really any of your business.” Jens briefly switched his cold gaze to Ruud, then went back to looking at the night sky. His voice dropped and his mouth twisted a little. “He fucks things up for me, but I know that. I work around it.”
“In several meanings of the phrase, I’m guessing,” Ruud muttered, pressing at his belly. The muscles there weren’t going to relax any time soon, and he probably was well on his way to a cramp. “Can I…apologize to him?”
“Stop trying to change the subject. What are you going to do?” Jens snapped.
Ruud didn’t have an answer and didn’t try to spit out a place-holder. He stood there and tried to pull together the shreds of his dignity, but it was a little hard when he thought it was a worthless cause anyway.
Jens did wait for several minutes, but finally he lost patience and stalked out the door. He didn’t entirely shut it behind him so a thin sliver of yellow came through; something occasionally passed in front to block it.
Eventually Ruud came forward and hesitantly pushed at the door to see what it was. It only moved a few centimeters before something on the other side stopped it. Ruud paused, thinking carefully. “Robin, I’m sorry. I—it wasn’t about you again.”
“Thanks,” Robin said, voice heavy with sarcasm. He shifted, pushing the door a little further closed. “I noticed you stopped yourself.”
“You weren’t—enjoying it.” It was the truth, but that didn’t lessen the taste of disgust in Ruud’s throat.
After a tense pause, the door suddenly swung open. Robin stood well back from it, warily watching Ruud, and over his shoulder, Ruud could see Jens writing on a pad of paper as if he were really trying to stab through it. “You’re a shit, but I can sort of understand that. Six months ago I probably would’ve been enjoying it,” Robin said. He was calming down in spite of himself. “Stop trying to tell me that I’m walking on thin ice here. I know that, thanks.”
That was too quiet for Jens to have heard. And when Robin saw where Ruud was looking, he smiled with his lips closed. For a moment, he looked very young in the eyes, but he kept his chin up.
“Especially when you’re one of the ones scraping at it,” he added. He backed up a pace, looking like he was going to shoot off another retort, but instead just turned around and stalked away. He went into the hall instead of towards Jens, who was just putting the cap on his pen.
Jens tossed the pen down and looked at something on the wall, out of Ruud’s range. He tapped his fingers against the table-top till Ruud was standing in the doorway, then snapped them up into a fist. “I’m not giving your place extra security any longer. If you want to keep the paparazzi off you and Ronaldo, then you figure out how to do it yourself.”
“What?” Ruud had expected something more like an extra-heavy workload or being sent off on long business trips. “That’s risking your biggest star, plus giving you more damage-control to do. Every day the tabloids will be going on and on about—”
“So have him move out,” Jens said, turning to face him. The other man was still oddly composed; he really should’ve been shouting and shaking his fists by now. He just raised one eyebrow at the incredulous look Ruud gave him. “You can’t have it both ways. He’s a world-famous pop-star—he’s never going to be the dirty little secret in your closet.”
“So either I break up with him or I turn into his arm-ornament for the paparazzi photos?” Ruud snapped.
A flicker of surprise went through Jens’ face. “You think those are your only options?”
“Aren’t they?” All his frustration suddenly boiled over—Ruud whirled around and hit the wall. Then drew back his arm to do it again, but gasped and jerked when his wrist was intercepted.
He didn’t have any time to adjust before Jens had already let go. The other man briefly hooked a hand around Ruud’s arm to yank him out of the doorway before dropping it and continuing to move on. “Ruud, this is my apartment.”
“Why the hell are you being so calm about it, then? Why are you being so calm about everything?” Ruud snarled. He turned around to keep Jens in sight, but somehow taking the first step after the other man sucked all the energy from him, leaving him slumped in place. “Lehmann, damn it—”
“Because what you want me to do right now is get angry with you and choke you senseless, and like I said, I’m not about to fuck you.” Jens pointed down the hall. “Guest bedroom is that way. Don’t make me take you there. And in the morning, you’d better have made up your mind about what to do.”
For a moment, Ruud was going to tell him to shove his timelines up his ass, because things didn’t work that way. It wasn’t just that people could plan and plan and still get screwed over; they could have a plan work out fine and still be in a mess because sorry, but psychology wasn’t really a mind-game. Though it would’ve been nice if emotions and thoughts could be organized like a filing cabinet.
By the time he worked through all of that, Jens had left. Technically Ruud had a clear line of sight to the front door, but he had to doubt that he’d have an easy time waltzing out of here. And anyway, he…well, there was his office.
“Fuck,” Ruud spat out, and turned. Then he stopped himself so roughly he had to stumble to regain his balance.
Wasn’t his damned wall to kick in, after all. He shook his head and laughed at himself, and slowly went towards where Jens had pointed.
* * *
The only part of Robin that showed was his feet, and that was because he had them up on the back of the couch. “So when’d you start yoga, anyway? Does bending like that keep all the blood from your brain so you act like a loboto—ow! Asshole!”
“Feet. Off,” Jens growled. He dusted off his hands as he went around the front, swinging wide to avoid Robin, who’d nearly spilled off the couch head-first.
“I just took a shower,” Robin grumpily muttered. He twisted around a couple times before realizing he’d just have to get off and then back on. With an annoyed look at Jens, he flopped around to get his arms down first, then dragged his legs from the cushions.
Robin spun himself around and scrambled back onto the couch in an odd hurry. When he noticed Jens was poking around in his desk instead of coming over, he sank back in a tangle of limbs and pout that still somehow managed to look graceful.
“Were you listening in just now?” Jens glanced at the headset dangling from Robin’s hand. It was wired to a bizarre-looking console and a laptop sitting on the side-table.
The other man stared curiously at him, then nodded. He shifted position a few times, tossing the headset from hand to hand. “I knew you weren’t going to get rid of him. You didn’t really dock him for landing me in jail either, but that’s fine. I’m not going to throw a fit, so don’t get paranoid on me.”
“Why not?” Jens asked.
Robin frowned. “Wait, do you want me to get upset? What would be the point? You have to keep Ruud around, I know why you have to, and it makes sense to me.”
“That doesn’t make sense to me,” Jens said after a moment. He shut the drawer in which he’d been digging and came over to sit down on the sofa by the other man. “You aren’t mad that I didn’t punish him for falsely accusing you?”
“I thought that was all about teaching me a lesson…which I thought I’d learned, but now you’re confusing me.” The headset flew over Robin’s shoulder to clatter on the console as he abruptly stretched out his legs. His glance towards Jens as he put his feet up on the coffee-table wasn’t as provoking as usual. “Are you…worried about me here? Because now I’m worried about your sanity. I mean…it’s not like you were going to let Ruud see it through. Either time. And I don’t get why over Cristiano, but I can see why he’s be acting like this.”
“I can’t. There’s no possible reason for that stunt he pulled a few minutes ago.” Jens faced forward, then down so he could look at the small box he was turning around and around in his hands. “I do things for professional reasons that I don’t personally like,” he muttered. “I’d like to kill him.”
A hard weight dug into his shoulder. He snapped the box out of its spin, then turned to look at Robin, who appeared to be trying to chip in Jens’ shoulder with his chin. For some reason, Robin had a huge, almost goofy grin on his face.
“I knew that when you made me return Ferguson’s car after you fucked me over it. You’re stuck with me anyway, but that was a nice bonus,” he said. He tucked his arm between Jens’ elbow and side, then tightened it like a coil of wire when Jens shifted. His hip bumped up against Jens’ thigh, then rode over that to firmly plant itself on top, and then he reached around to pull the box in Jens’ hand up to where he could see it. “So what’s this? Needle and top-secret drug that’ll make Ruud stop acting like a dick?”
“No. Thierry just told me there’s some problem with the Chels and I don’t think I’ll have it straightened out before Christmas. Which means I’m working through the holiday and have to do this early.” No matter how Jens tried, he couldn’t quite bring himself to say exactly what it was. So he just gave the box to Robin. “It reminded me of you, but don’t take that as a suggestion.”
That weirdly happy smile was still playing around Robin’s lips as he immediately started picking at the tape at one end. He got it open, slid out the wooden case inside and flipped it open. His brows twitched together and his mouth went to a straight line, though his lips weren’t pressed tightly together.
It was a long moment before he finally looked up, and even if the rest of his face still didn’t have an expression, his eyes had electric sparks in them. “It’s one of those Japanese knives, isn’t it? Is this the one that never needs sharpening?”
“No, it does, but that’s damned expensive steel, so I assume it’s good,” Jens said.
Robin snapped the lid down and carefully put the case and box to the side, dropping his arm around Jens’ neck as he did. His ass slid further onto Jens’ lap. He started to shake his head as a disbelieving smile crept onto his face. “You are so nuts.”
“I didn’t buy it so you could get yourself into—”
Before Jens could finish, Robin grabbed his head and pulled their mouths together in a fierce kiss. He sucked at Jens’ tongue, then dropped forward to press as much of his body as he could against Jens’ chest. His eyelashes dusted off Jens’ cheekbone as he tilted his head, pushing his neck into the hand Jens had raised to curve around it.
“Ruud’s in the guest room,” Jens eventually pointed out.
Robin interrupted his purring to snort into the crook of Jens’ neck. His hands didn’t skip a beat in unbuttoning their shirts. “Well, if he can’t sleep because we’re fucking too loudly, he deserves it. Besides, it’s not like it bothers you any.”
“My cock does not do all my thinking for me, unlike some people.” Jens pulled Robin up so the other man’s weight wasn’t pressing quite so hard on that.
“Nope, but I like how it’s thinking right now,” Robin said, licking each word directly into Jens’ ear. He slid his hand down the center of Jens’ chest till it was resting on Jens’ erection and leaned on it while he shifted to straddle Jens.
Well, if Jens fucked him now, then he would be too tired to pounce when Jens had to wake up and go back to work. Which was…damn it, in another four hours. Jens snarled at the clock and yanked Robin over so they were using more of the available space.
* * *
It took him a whole damn night, but Fàbregas finally got back to Cristiano about where Ruud had gone. Honestly, what good was the assistant if he didn’t know where the man he was supposed to be assisting was? And he’d actually yawned at Cristiano when he’d told him, like he’d just rolled out of bed instead of doing his work. Lazy jerk.
But never mind that—Cristiano was mad at Ruud, stupid thick Dutchman who would have to be the man Cristiano fell for. What the hell was he doing over at Lehmann’s apartment? Where the hell was that?
“We’re here,” Cesc mumbled. He put the car into park, then folded his hands over the steering wheel and put his head down on top of them. And didn’t move for the next couple of minutes. “Oh. Right. It’s the penthouse.”
Cristiano drummed his fingers against the window. “So why are we waiting?”
“With all due respect, Cristiano—” Cesc paused, then slowly raised his head to blink blearily at Cristiano. His expression was quietly stone-like. “I think I’m running a fever. And that’s Ruud’s car over there, so I’m just going to go home before I throw up on you, okay?”
He didn’t look like he was kidding. He looked pretty disgusting, actually—all red-eyed and waxy and fine, he could go. It wasn’t like Cristiano always needed somebody to open the damn door for him.
“You’re welcome,” Cesc muttered. He reached over and pulled the door on Cristiano’s side shut, then peeled out of the garage before Cristiano could respond. Well, he wasn’t totally out of energy.
But never mind, never mind. Cristiano gave himself a shake and stalked over to the elevator. And got himself all the way up to Lehmann’s apartment without any disasters, and he swore to the Virgin Mary that if Ruud started on about how he was so helpless, he was going to hit his boyfriend. He was going to—
“Oh, great,” Van Persie said when he opened the door. He stared at Cristiano with a curled upper lip, then turned around. “Cristiano’s here. Hey, would you mind if I tried out something on you? I just want to make sure it’s not defective—”
“I wouldn’t have bought it if anything had been wrong with it.” Jens stalked into the room. He grabbed Robin and swung him around hard enough for the momentum to send Robin skidding on his feet a couple meters once Jens had released him. Then he looked at Cristiano. “I didn’t want to have this discussion, but I need to point out that one, Ruud’s an employee of mine, and two, our company does have rules against agent-client relationships. Fuck with me again and Ruud’s getting sent to Los Angeles.”
Cristiano felt his jaw drop and couldn’t really do too much about it. “You can’t do that!”
Somehow Lehmann’s eyes got an evil green glow to them. He pursed his lips and leaned forward, paused, and then carefully drove in another verbal dagger. “Of course I can.”
“He—he wouldn’t. Ruud would quit first,” Cristiano said. He dug his nails into his palm and tried to get a grip on himself; he wasn’t a moron, he wasn’t that inexperienced anymore, and this was how the game was played.
“Honestly, I think he’d side with me. You embarrassed him.” Jens rippled his fingers once against the doorframe. “Los Angeles, Ronaldo. Summer home of David Beckham.”
And what was that supposed to…no, no way. “David Beckham is an overdressed airhead.”
All Jens did was look thoughtfully at Cristiano’s left earring and go “Huh” in the most bored and contemptuous tone ever. Eventually his gaze shifted back to Cristiano, who was now terrified and furious. He pursed his lips again, then casually pushed back from the door.
Robin had left, but a disheveled and unshaven Ruud had just come into the room. He saw Cristiano and Jens and frowned, eyes narrowing, but didn’t come any closer. And when Jens sauntered out of the room, Ruud still stayed put. And when Cristiano shut the door and took a few steps forward, Ruud moved backward.
Cristiano went back till he could lean on the door. He needed that. “What were you doing all night?” he finally asked. His voice shook and sounded small and he fucking hated himself for it. He hit the door with his fist—that got Ruud taking a step towards him. “Please tell me you weren’t—you two aren’t—again.”
“No.” Ruud scrunched his eyes shut and pressed his hands into them, then gave himself a shake. He looked up at Cristiano again. “No, we weren’t. We aren’t. But damn it, Cris, you bring out the worst in me. I can’t—I couldn’t even go home, to my own damned apartment. I can’t—you know, I just can’t do this.”
Now Cristiano was gouging his nails into the door, and even then he felt like the bottom had suddenly dropped out from under him. “No, wait—I’m sorry--but you kept putting off Deco’s trip out—”
“It’s not just about him—”
“And I’ll—I’ll stop asking you to meet the rest of my family, and—”
“Cris, shut up,” Ruud snapped. He threw up his hands, then slowly brought them down to pull at his hair while he stared up at the ceiling. “I—God, don’t even threaten me with the drugs. I…you need to move out. If you can’t trust me enough to talk things through before you do them, and—and if my first reaction is to leave instead of talking to you, then it’s really too soon. It’s not working, and…”
Cristiano swallowed hard, concentrated like he’d never done in his life, and tried to speak without crying. “Are you breaking up with me?”
It took too long for Ruud to answer, even though when he did, it wasn’t a no. Not yet. “I just want you to move out,” he sighed. “Get your own apartment or house or what-have-you. We started off all wrong, so maybe…we can start over, and get things straight this time, or…but we can’t keep going like this.”
He didn’t look up when Cristiano came over, or when Cristiano touched his arm. Cristiano bit his lip and grabbed onto that, then yanked at Ruud’s elbow to get the other man to bend down. As soon as Ruud was within range, he threw his arms around the other man’s neck and tried to put everything he was and everything Ruud meant to him into the kiss.
And he thought it was working—Ruud’s hands came up and clutched at Cristiano, and Ruud kissed back and then goddamn him, Ruud tried to say something. When he couldn’t, he made them separate so he could get it in. “Cris, we’re not breaking up.”
“If you say so,” Cristiano mumbled. He couldn’t help the trace of bitterness that crept into his voice. Or putting his head down on Ruud’s shoulder and taking what he could get anyway. “Can I…may I come back with you for today? I’ll…Deco said he’d be busy all day, but I can…he can get me and take me to his hotel room. If…that’s what you want.”
Ruud pressed his palms against Cristiano’s back and rested his chin against Cristiano’s head. “Thank you,” he finally said.
Though Cristiano didn’t feel welcome at all.