Author: Guede Mazaka
Jens leans over, trying to figure out what Thierry’s doing. It’d seemed like the other man had been in the process of taking off his bulky winter coat, but that wouldn’t require nearly that much grunting and twisting about. Part of Thierry’s coat is still stretched over his back, and Jens thinks that maybe it’s gotten caught or something so he reaches over, just touches where the bumps of Thierry’s spine strain up beneath the man’s cotton shirt, and Thierry jumps. He’s moving away from Jens, which is a pretty common reaction to him.
So Jens stands back. Saves his popcorn, which he’d balanced on the seat arm, just before it would’ve sprayed all over the floor. He’s been wondering how much of this outing was just politeness, the new captain sussing out how his teammates are taking to him, anyway.
“No, non, no, don’t…sorry, I’ve almost got it…there!” Thierry straightens up, his grin briefly flashing brighter than the trailers playing on the screen far in the front. The dim light curves around something extending down from his hand: a bottle. Then he puts his hand over the top, and there’s a slight popping sound.
The tang of alcohol is unmistakable, and for a moment, Jens’ bemusement overrides his disappointed cynicism. “You sneaked wine into a movie theater. I thought only Americans did this.”
“No, they sneak disgusting stuff like fried chicken and…and I heard pizza from somebody. This is different. In France, wine is to life like air is to life. You pair it with food, with celebrations…and especially with a good French film,” Thierry says, still smiling. He puts the top of the bottle to his nose and sniffs it. Even in the dark, Jens can make out the pure bliss that spreads over the other man’s face. Then Thierry tips the bottle towards Jens.
It isn’t that Jens has anything against wine, or Thierry. He likes both, though Freddie is always telling him he’s too damn conservative just because he sticks to European vintages, and he’d prefer to say he and Thierry are more on friendly terms than that they’re friends. It’s just…a little out of the blue for him. Getting offered a drink in a dark theater has overtones he doesn’t really expect from somebody like Thierry Henry, the class act of Arsenal.
He’s waited too long. Thierry drops back with that peculiar liquid shrug, expressing both regret and careless forgiveness, that only the French seem to be able to manage. “Well, you’ll change your mind.”
“This is why you asked for extra cups at the snack counter,” Jens blurts out. He’s made a mistake and it’s rubbing a sore beneath his skin, and just like on the pitch, he’s eager to make up for it but also furiously trying to keep from overcompensating. Mistakes are bad; letting them break his rhythm is worse.
Not that he had a rhythm, frankly; he’d been stepping out of the showers and Thierry had been standing by the side, street trousers on but still bare-chested and talking to Cesc, and then Thierry had tossed the invitation over his shoulder. Jens had stood there blinking for a second, so Thierry had completely broken off his conversation with Cesc and turned to face him, and then Freddie had come up asking what was going on. So what was Jens supposed to say except that well, apparently he and Thierry were seeing a movie? He’s not exactly polite on the field, but that’s much too exhausting to carry off the field as well.
“This is why I asked for extra cups. I thought about sneaking in glasses too, but I didn’t want to explain to the physio why I had glass pieces in my calves.” The movie’s beginning to start and Thierry apparently likes it so much he sits down without looking. That way he doesn’t miss a minute of what’s on-screen.
It’d looked like they were the only ones in the theater, but just in case, Jens sits down as well to keep from blocking anyone’s view. He actually doesn’t know what the movie is. He’d had to go home and tell Conny where he’d be, promising up and down that he’d stay home for the next weekend so she could go out, and then he’d had to fend off Freddie’s curious texts. Which he’d thought were a bit ridiculous, but now he’s thinking Thierry has some interesting sides to his private life. “Don’t tell me you stuck the bottle in your pant-leg.”
A tiny bit of white shows between Thierry’s lips. “My friend, how I get the wine is my business. Just enjoy.”
On the screen, a very, very young Catharine Deneuve—so young Jens almost doesn’t recognize her, though he’d had a crush on her as a teenager for about six weeks—is putting off her husband. “Do you not want the popcorn, then? I should have bought a smaller box.”
“Of course I want the popcorn,” Thierry snorts. He’s got two plastic cups in his hand and is filling both of them up. “That’s why I brought chardonnay, though Deneuve’s really more of a cabernet sauvignon, don’t you think?”
Chardonnay and popcorn? And he’d always considered Thierry genuinely high-class. Their new captain’s…well, food taste isn’t the same as football judgment. Or so Jens hopes. “Or…maybe port.”
“Hmm.” Thierry appears to seriously consider this. “Depending on the movie, I suppose. For Huit Femmes I could see that.”
He hands Jens one of the cups just as a shocking assault occurs on the screen, and Jens completely misses the plastic waving in his face because he’s stunned, eyes glued to the movie. What kind of movie is this? Is it one of those—
--and then Catharine’s face softens, its terror going to a strange, lustful surrender, and Jens really doesn’t know what to think. He shakes his head, as if that would make the scene change, and that’s when he notices the cup. He takes it with a mumbled apology for making Thierry hold it so long.
Thierry waves it off, his hand lingering to dip down. Between the dark and the movie, he misses the box the first time and his fingers skid along the center of Jens’ stomach. He immediately apologizes, but with a little easy laugh on the end to say he didn’t mean anything by the touch, and grabs himself a handful of popcorn. Jens opts for drinking the wine first, and then turns to see if Thierry really is—yes, the man’s alternating sips of wine with crunchy popcorn, and with every sign of enjoyment.
It’s a good chardonnay. Good enough to make Jens slouch down so he can wince without being called on it. He still has his Coke sitting on the aisle floor by his seat, but he doesn’t touch it because he has a feeling it wouldn’t go well with the wine’s finish. He just watches the movie, which is…not exactly what he thought Thierry would go for, but definitely not what it’d seemed like from either the very beginning or the first surprise twist.
Occasionally Thierry reaches over for more popcorn. The box isn’t nearly as big as its price should’ve warranted, but halfway through the movie, Jens is amused to realize that Thierry can’t help pacing himself. He’s spacing out his snacking so that he’ll probably finish right when the movie does, yet he can still eat at an almost constant pace.
It’s probably a good thing that the film is as absorbing and subtly thoughtful as it is, since normally that sort of thing annoys the hell out of Jens. But he barely notices, busy as he is trying to follow the plot and to figure out what the movie’s saying.
“More?” Thierry whispers, and Jens actually jumps. His seat rattles and Thierry winces, then hisses an apology.
He holds up the bottle and Jens is opening his mouth to decline when he happens to glance down into his cup, only to find it nearly empty. Funny: Thierry’s right; the movie does go better with wine. He swings his arm over and absently listens to the splash of the wine into the cup as he goes back to the film. What the hell. Why not? Of all things she could’ve done with that face, Deneuve is working in a brothel for fun, so Jens might as well have wine and popcorn and Thierry Henry. He’s getting a bit hungry; things are stirring restlessly in his gut and…and okay, he closes his eyes when he puts the kernels in his mouth. At least he’s trying it.
…it’s not all that bad, actually. The salt goes well with the alcohol’s edge, and the smooth silky finish of the chardonnay pairs excellently with the butter.
There’s a little chuckle from beside him, but Thierry’s watching the movie when Jens looks over. Watching the movie and smirking to himself a little bit. Jens rolls his eyes—he supposes Henry has earned the right to that—and eats some more popcorn. He’s paid to help support the captain, not feed him.
* * *
Belle de Jour leaves Jens a little unsatisfied when the lights go up. He shuffles his feet along the floor, but he’s not quite ready to get up yet, to let the movie go. And to be perfectly honest, he found some parts of it disturbingly erotic, and they’re sticking with him. He thinks maybe the wine has gotten to him too, since he feels too warm and even though he wants to keep sitting, he can’t hold still.
Thierry, on the other hand, just seems to have mellowed out as time had gone on. He sprawls easily in his seat, slid so far down that his head lolls along the high back. “I never do know whether she’s day-dreaming again or not at the end. Nicole, she likes to think yes since she likes happy endings.”
“Doesn’t everyone?” Jens hasn’t managed to get all the butter off his fingers with the napkins he’d taken from the snack counter, so he digs around in his pocket to see if he’d left a tissue—always a necessity for any parent—in it. The seat’s a bit cramped and he has to twist oddly; his right foot skids on the edge of a wet puddle and he nearly cracks his head on the top of the seat in front of him.
“Oh, watch out!” But Jens is already recovering, so Thierry withdraws his hand. He stays forward, resting his elbows on his knees and looking thoughtful. The lights are up, but it’s still dim so the shadows draw hollows in his cheeks and throat, carving him into some alien, elongated thing. “Well, probably, but I can’t always think that it’ll happen all the time. Sometimes it seems like you have to pay, even if you don’t really deserve it.”
Tissue found, Jens scrubs his hand till he can rub his fingers together and feel their calluses catch on each other. He tosses the crumpled-up tissue into his cup and starts to put that down on the floor between his legs when he sees the mystery puddle he’d slipped on a moment ago. It tracks around the corner…to the Coke he’d completely forgotten about. The water’s all from the condensation on the sides. “Well, do you want her to be day-dreaming?”
“I don’t know. Séverine’s such a difficult person, you know…she’s flat and icy on the outside, but there’s so much going on beneath that it’s shocking it doesn’t show. Sometimes I think I admire her, because she knows what she wants and she does try to get it. But then I think: she spends so much time trying to escape her life as it is, and does she ever stop to ask exactly why she does it?” Thierry shifts to rest his chin on one hand, peering down at the bottle his other hand holds. He swings it by the neck between his knees, slow and steady like a metronome. Out towards the row in front, in towards himself. Out and in. “She really isn’t much of an adult, either at the end or the beginning.”
The wine is probably what is telling Jens there are extra meanings in that. He’s seeing things, alcohol taking him into that hazy no man’s land where reality and dream blur…possibly the same land in which the movie’s ending had taken place. Which doesn’t make him particularly happy.
However, Thierry doesn’t seem bothered at all by anything. He stares at nothing in particular, looking solemn for another moment before a smile easily slides onto his face. Then he looks down, shaking his head. “Good thing not everyone is so complicated. Someone like her, you could know her for years and not really know her. You could spend all your time trying to understand and you really wouldn’t unless you were brave enough to ask. And then you’d have to ask the right way…”
“You could just watch it and enjoy it as a kinky-sex thing,” Jens says. He sounds a little too forceful. He probably needs to get up and leave before he does something that pisses Thierry off, and they’re not even on the pitch. They’re on the same team, for God’s sake, and he respects Thierry and…sometimes he just has a problem with his temper. It’s been a much, much better season so far than last year, but he’s still working out the fatigue of having to prove himself yet again. “If you like blondes.”
Thierry’s eyes narrow, mostly in thought but maybe a little bit in irritation. Or something else. Like the something else that his long, considering look at Jens could be taken as, under different circumstances. If they were maybe in a dark nightclub somewhere, and Jens was once again thinking he might just flop under the intense pressure from all sides—it’s a constant marvel to him why the sheer frustration alone hasn’t taken him out at the knees yet.
“I do.” The two words roll around in Thierry’s mouth a bit before he fully lets them out, carefully savored. He flicks his eyes over Jens, then leans back so he can bring up the bottle, apparently to read the label. Maybe he’s forgotten what the hell he’s brought here. “But you know, I just can’t. I want to know what’s wrong. I don’t want a perfect face all the time.”
“You like dreaming? Pretending things aren’t as they are?” Jens has to ask. The lights are dimming again—another movie’s starting. He ignores it. “I think if you always see things as they are, then you wouldn’t do too well, either.”
“Well, of course people should aim beyond what they have now for what they want, but it doesn’t seem that good to hold it all inside. If she’d just explained things to Marcel—no, if she’d just kissed her husband properly, once, with something of what she picked up on the job…I wonder where things would have gone from then.” Thierry carefully sets the bottle down on the floor on its side so it stays against the back of the row in front. Then he lifts his arms over his head, stretching. “There’s dreaming, and there’s putting each thing in the part of your life that it should be in.”
Jens absently checks his watch. The movie was a long one, and he’s going to get home very, very late. So he’s tired too, with the wine working at him, and the odd ideas of the movie swirling in his head. That’s probably why he and Thierry are talking like art students instead of footballers. Though that’s kind of nice, to be honest. He doesn’t get to unwrap himself this much from the game too often, and Thierry does make sense even if it’s on several levels that Jens really isn’t that comfortable discussing. Mostly since people don’t tend to show interest and so he’s rusty.
“Sorry, am I getting boring? I ramble when I’m a little…” Thierry rocks his hand from side to side “…so just let me know what I’m doing.”
“Don’t you know what you’re doing?” Jens says. They’re both twisted around to face each other at this point. A football couldn’t make it between their faces.
Irony that’s a little bit harder and a little less glossy than Thierry usually shows quirks his eyebrow. He doesn’t put up his hands when he leans in, and neither does Jens, so it seems like an awkward kiss, only their mouths meeting. And Thierry is tilting so he isn’t even meeting Jens square-on, but instead his lips come down across as if he’s going to bite off a chunk of Jens’ face.
He doesn’t. His mouth seals and he sucks instead, smoothly shifting to fix on Jens’ lower lip till Jens loses his nerve and opens his mouth, and then Thierry’s tongue has slipped in and is wreaking havoc with Jens’ composure. The side of the seat-arm bangs into Jens’ knuckles, or maybe he’s smacked his hands into it in an attempt to do something. He makes some kind of surprised, raspy noise in his throat that Thierry draws out into a moan, running his tongue across the roof of Jens’ mouth.
Jens finally gets his hands over the seat-arm, but Thierry’s rising up and at first Jens thinks he’s leaving—but no, fingers slide into the hair on the back of Jens’ head, firmly holding him in place, and another hand drops into his lap. He thinks of the popcorn earlier, thinks he maybe can still taste some of it in Thierry’s mouth, dipping into the hollows beneath Thierry’s tongue with his own. A palm grinds its way up the inside of his thigh and he scoots back till his ass hits the other side of the chair. His knee hikes up till he can hook it over the seat-arm, and Thierry arches up higher to get over it. The heel of Thierry’s hand presses into Jens’ jeans where the inseam joins the crotch, searing the outline of it into Jens’ prick.
The far chair arm digs into Jens’ back, and then there’s only the aisle afterward so Jens has to use one hand to cling to the top of the seat in front of him to keep from falling. He puts the other one on Thierry’s back, meaning to do something with it, but Thierry makes him forget what when his mouth drags hotly off of Jens and trails down Jens’ jaw and throat, not pressing hard enough to leave marks but enough so Jens bends backward into nothing but air. He teeters, the fulcrum Thierry’s hand rolling over his cock and sometimes sliding down to shape his balls beneath the denim, and Thierry makes full use of it. If Jens doesn’t fall and crack his head—
--thumb sliding beneath the zipper teeth as Thierry pulls the tab down with his fingers, teasing beneath the waistband of Jens’ boxers—
--it’ll be a pretty good goddamn fucking—
--Thierry’s mouth glancing over his chest, leaving little burned spots as the man doubles over farther and farther to meet Jen’s prick, which is rising up to meet him—
The chair back creaks and groans beneath Jens’ hand, louder than his own noises. He’s gripping it so hard his fingers have compressed the foam padding so that he can feel the wood core, grind out the shape of a knot in it. The theater’s already dark so when he throws back his head, he can’t tell whether there are holes in his vision or not, and even when he looks back down, he can’t see Thierry anymore: the man’s a dark shadow flowing back from Jens. But he can feel him: feel the flat of his tongue wriggling against the underside of Jens’ prick, the scattered heat of his breath gusting back up Jens’ belly, the sharp pain of his grip as he grabs Jens’ right knee and suddenly forces it down so Jens’ heel cracks against the floor.
Jens’ upper body goes back at the same time and he hangs in the air while he finishes falling. He doesn’t hit his head, though; Thierry hauls him back by the leg and arm so his ass skates across the seat again.
The first time Thierry tries to climb over him, Jens can’t bend back far enough because the seat is too damn cramped. It isn’t from lack of trying: he’s breathless and shaken till everything’s rattled loose, and he’d like nothing better than to lie down while Thierry presses over him. But it’s the seat arm; Thierry says something nasty in French to it and tugs on Jens’ arms. Somehow they get Jens’ ass pushed up the seat arm and then resting on it, and that is not comfortable at all but Thierry has thrown himself over Jens, the ridge of his erection burning its way into the side of Jens’ thigh while he pulls Jens’ hand towards it, and Thierry’s mouth is coming back up as well and Jens decides he’s willing to put up with everything for that, right now.
* * *
Later Jens is going to have to ask if Thierry paid off the usher or something, because God knows somebody should’ve kicked them out by now. He’ll have to come up with something to explain his soon-to-be cranky back as well…but he’s glad they haven’t gotten up yet. There’s still a little time left in this strange, separate place where he’s got his back smashed into the chair and both his legs hiked up over the seat-arms, and this is so Thierry can sit on his knees between Jens’ legs and lazily pet at Jens’ prick while they talk about football—not the game, but the other things, the crap that comes with the game but has to stay out of it or else it’ll turn everything rotten.
“If I ever have a season like last season, I’ll—I don’t know. But I didn’t pull myself out of Germany for that.” Jens grimaces. He has his arms looped up around Thierry’s neck, just resting there for now. “And Klinsmann. He’s going to kill me with this rotating bullshit.”
“He won’t. If the English couldn’t kill you, he couldn’t.” Thierry possibly winks; some kind of action scene with lots of fireballs is playing on-screen and the flickering light makes every blink look like a wink. “Wait till you get to the French.”
At that, Jens has to roll his eyes. He knew that was coming, but honestly…it’ll be Germany’s year if he has a say. If they let him have a say.
“I’ll be waiting, anyway. I’m looking forward to finally getting a chance to shoot some balls at you,” Thierry laughs. He pats Jens’ shoulder, just in case that was taken the wrong way. “I want to win the Champions League. I want that cup. I want this to be the best team in the league, and I want to go to the World Cup and dance around that one, too.”
“Well, I can do one for you,” Jens concedes. He shifts, then winces as his back twinges at him. It would’ve been slightly more convenient if Thierry had decided to do this in the locker room, after Jens was all warmed-up and stretched out and…but then, Jens would never talk about this shit in there. It went back to screwing up the game—just screwing up in general. “I will do one for you,” he corrects himself.
Thierry smiles. “Good. I think I’d enjoy splitting a bottle of champagne with you.”
“Chardonnay’s good for once in a while.” Which is about as close as Jens can safely get to mentioning the other things that don’t get to come in here, but that are waiting for them. He shifts again, winces again, decides he can wait another few seconds. “What goes with champagne?”
“Perfection,” Thierry says, and he’s amused and sad and very, very knowing. “That’s why the bubbles. They pop.”
Jens smiles after a moment, and it actually comes naturally to him. “That’s fun, though.”
Thierry rolls his eyes and slips back down. “We’d better get a bottle, then.”