Tangible Schizophrenia


Musical Rooms

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: R
Pairing: Schweinsteiger/Podolski, Lahm/Hildebrand, Frings/Ballack, various others implied.
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: This is all made-up and I don’t know what any of these people do off the field.
Notes: I don’t know if Klinsmann ever actually tried this, but it is a pretty common tactic for forcing people to get to know each other. Some vague time pre-World Cup ‘06.
Summary: Everyone has to get new roommates! Disaster! But Bastian has a plan.


“…thirty-game winning streak! It was so beautiful, Phil,” Bastian moaned. “And now that Poldi’s all the way down the hall, I don’t know what I’m going to do. He said he’s not going to sneak games, but I know he will. He’s going to put up his score till he thinks he can say he beat me.”

Philipp tried not to roll his eyes too hard as he leaned over the pool table, since it was a difficult shot. Yeah, right, Playstation. The last time he’d checked, video games didn’t require making the bed bang into the wall all night long.

As far as he was concerned, Klinsmann making them pick new roommates for the next few days out of a hat wasn’t the most painful team-building exercise they’d ever done. It even had its advantages, since putting Bastian and Lukas at opposite ends of the hall meant it’d be at least fifty percent quieter at night.

On the other hand, Timo was now three rooms down and on the other side of the hall. They didn’t get to see each other much anyway, and now—

“Oooo, close.” Bastian moved to the other side of the table as the cue ball just grazed the seven ball, sending it spinning two centimeters shy of the right pocket. He stood his stick on its end and bent down to check an angle, then straightened up, shaking his head. That wasn’t at the layout, though. “Okay, okay, it’s only for two nights. But Neuville! I like him and all, but…”

“Has he forgiven you for the shaving cream?” Probably the fourteen in the left side, Philipp thought.

Sure enough, Bastian finally lined up for that one. He made a face, then bent down and quickly sent the ball bounding into the pocket. “Phil, I didn’t even remember about that. Damn. I dunno…you think he’d still be mad? I was worrying about Oliver’s snoring.”

“Lukas snores. Shouldn’t you be used to it by now?” Philipp flipped his stick under his arm and went over to the chalk-block on the wall. He rubbed his hands around it while Bastian knocked off an easy shot, then tried to bank one off three sides and missed.

Bastian threw him a funny look, then moved out of the way for him. “Um. Lahmi. Are you…trying to say something about Poldi and me?”

“Well, aren’t you…um…” It was kind of hard to make hand-gestures while holding a pool stick, so finally Philipp just bent over and took his shot. This one he made, which made him feel a little more secure. He really wasn’t that good with this sort of conversation and was always putting his foot in it, so he usually tried to just not go near it. But really, he’d thought it was a pretty open thing. “You know.”

The best-looking chance for his next chance meant he had to go around the table and pass by Bastian along the way. Philipp stood up and Bastian was still looking at him a bit oddly, eyes narrowed so much they almost weren’t visible—usually that was because Bastian was laughing, so it was eerie and maybe a little scary to see him doing it when he was serious—so he stayed where he was. Maybe he could jump over the table?

Then Bastian grinned, looking sheepish, and reached over to ruffle Philipp’s hair. He slid out of the ring of light coming from the overhead lamp, but his quick flush was still obvious. “Eh, yeah. It’s not a joke, though. Lucky bastard, Poldi gets David. He can be pretty fun sometimes…”

Philipp sagged inside in relief and quickly scooted around to take care of his next shot. The quick topic-change there had been kind of funny, but he decided he wasn’t going to chance asking about that. He’d just gotten saved, after all. “Could be worse.”

“How? You got Miro and he’s cool--oh. You mean Olli and Tim? Yeah, I wonder if they’ll just…” Bastian shifted his stick to beneath his arm and brought up his fists, slowly pushing them towards each other and making whooshing noises “…annihilate each other. You know, ‘cause once one starts puffing up, then the other guy…eh, I hope Olli wins. He’s okay under all the words. Tim’s just annoying.”

Stifling a laugh, Philipp put another ball in the pocket. He had to lean over the table for his next shot and went too far, having to catch himself on his elbow so the table rattled. He muttered an apology while Bastian nudged the balls back into place. “No, I meant—Schweini! Put that back! It wasn’t there!—Torsten and Jens.”

“You’re kicking my butt,” Bastian laughed, apparently leaning over Phil. His thigh casually brushed up against Phil’s hip and his body heat filtered down over Phil’s back. Somewhere in the back, somebody opened and closed a door.

Phil nailed the ball anyway, so if that was supposed to be a distraction…nope. When he glanced up, Bastian was just looking down at him, smiling and friendly, his face open and free of any devious ideas. At least for the moment.

“What about Fringsi and Lehmann? They get along fine,” Bastian asked.

“Um, well, I meant them and Michael, actually,” Phil muttered. He only had to slip over about ten centimeters for the next shot, so he didn’t bother getting up. “I don’t know…it just seems like Michael’s tense and since Torsten’s not going to be his roommate for two days…you know…”

After a moment, Bastian flipped around to lean his ass against the table-edge, snickering. “Lahmi, you never get this gossipy back at the club. I didn’t think you noticed that stuff.”

“What stuff?” Timo had been the one to walk in, apparently. He sounded a little weird: on the curt side, though when Phil looked up, he just got a broad smile and a wave. Then Timo glanced at Bastian and…oh, he must’ve seen Bastian brush against Philipp.

Bastian blinked, sensing the hostility and completely clueless about it. He would be; that was just how he was, always bursting in on people but being so happy about it that most of them ended up okay-to-glad he hadn’t stopped to ask for permission. “Balla being annoyed that he and Torsten won’t get much together time this trip. And Torsten’s with Lehmann, and since Klinsi’s messing with you goalies so much Balla’s just been trying to stay out of it and let Jürgen be the one they’re mad at. So he can’t even go down and knock and ask if Torsten can give him his toothbrush back ‘cause Jens might answer.”

Ew, sharing toothbrushes? Philipp didn’t even do that with family.

Timo was making a face too, but it wasn’t quite one of disgust. “Bastian…that was really perceptive of you. I thought with all that junk food you eat, your brain must have turned into—”

“Hey.” After an affable swat at Timo’s arm, Bastian backed off. He went all the way over to the rack and put away his stick.

Frowning, Philipp finished shooting and then straightened up. “Where are you—”

“Gonna find Poldi or Metze and see if they wanna do anything. You beat me so badly my ego needs an emergency transfusion,” Bastian grinned, nodding at the table. “See you later.”

Philipp glanced down, then blinked. Oh.

By the time he looked up again, Bastian had left and Timo was randomly flicking the balls still left on the table, so they couldn’t have started up again anyway.

“So what else were you talking about?” Timo asked, very carefully casual.

“Not what you think. Bastian’s just always like that. He doesn’t mean anything by it.” Philipp racked his stick, then went back over to the table to start putting the balls away. The plastic triangle wasn’t anywhere in sight, so he checked on the floor—not there either. “Besides, he and Poldi are like glue when they’re together.”

Timo shuffled his feet, kicking one heel into the floor over and over. He drummed his fingers on the table while Philipp crawled around, trying to find that stupid triangle. “Well, Lukas isn’t at Bayern.”

Something caught Philipp’s eye: the corner of the triangle sticking out from beneath a nearby chair. They must’ve knocked it under during the game and not have noticed…and he didn’t crawl over and get it yet because Timo was starting to sound really…moody. He didn’t usually get this bad; they both understood that some things just had to be worked around, and neither of them wanted to make things more difficult than they already were.

“Sorry,” Timo said a second later. “I’m cranky. I hate this room-change thing. Hanke already gets on my nerves.”

After a moment, Philipp realized his butt, which was about all that Timo could see right now, probably wasn’t very good at conveying sympathy. He twisted around and patted Timo’s foot, then started to swing himself out from under the table. “It’s only for a couple days.”

“Yeah, but…” Timo tipped his head, grimacing, and that was all he needed to do to say how much two days really was worth, when they had to go months in between visits. Then he gave himself a shake and looked down, pulling up a half-hearted smile. His expression mostly was teasing. “Did you just actually pat my foot?”

Philipp opened his mouth to stutter something, then closed it. He wasn’t embarrassed so much as a little annoyed now, he decided: there were inconveniences, but was he the only one trying to deal with them like an adult? Honestly, since they had even less time it was really stupid to waste it complaining or fighting…and Timo’s hair was doing that thing where it fell into his eyes and Philipp’s fingers itched to push it back.

So instead he grabbed Timo’s foot again, then slid his hand up to the ankle, dipping his fingers beneath the top of Timo’s sock. The other man blinked and was starting to say something when Philipp rubbed his fingers in a circle around the bone-hump, then drew them up the inside of Timo’s leg. “What? You don’t want me to pat you?”

Timo’s eyes went very wide beneath his bangs and he bit into his lip. Something creaked as Philipp curled his way out from beneath the table, settling between Timo’s legs; he glanced up to see white-knuckled fists clenched on the table edge. “Phil?”

“We don’t get to room together—that’s not something I like. But then you take forever and ever to get back from dinner and I end up listening to Bastian complain about how he and Lukas can’t fuck now and that’s not fun either,” Philipp snorted, pushing both hands up Timo’s legs. The trouser fabric started to ride up with them, but only till he got to Timo’s knees, and then it slipped out from under his palms and fell back down. He did it again, feeling how the hard smooth shins led to the slight wrinkles of the knees and then to the flexing give of the thigh muscles. “We could’ve sneaked off and done something, but now it’s too late to even go out.”

The moment ‘fuck’ had come out of Philipp’s mouth, Timo had swallowed whatever else he’d been about to say. Hard, so the bump in his throat had sank down and then very slowly come back up. It secretly puzzled Philipp why him swearing always seemed to do that, but he wasn’t about to bring it up when he had an erection rising into view only centimeters from his face.

“I missed you.” Philipp rolled off his knees and back onto his feet, then rose up from his crouch, doing his best to press as much of himself as he could against Timo. “What took you so long, anyway?”

Timo opened his mouth. Closed it. Breathed hard and stared hazily at Philipp and finally sort of croaked: “Hanke wanted to argue about which bed he got.”

“Seriously?” Philipp said, stopping. What was the point of that?

“Oh, my God, Phil, that was a pain in the ass and can we please not go over it now—” The table creaked again as Timo’s right hand came around to touch Philipp’s hip, then move to the small of his back. It pressed down, trying to bend him, and Timo craned down as well, hissing when Philipp dodged. “We still have enough time for—”

Philipp ducked again, then grabbed Timo’s jaw when the other man tried a third time for a kiss. Not hard; he just splayed his fingers over Timo’s mouth, then had to snap them shut when Timo tried to curl his tongue past them. That sent a shudder through Philipp, but he twisted away before Timo’s hand could reach around and get between their bodies. Doing that accidentally angled his hip to run right against Timo’s erection, making the other man groan and urgently pull at Philipp. And Philipp was kind of tempted, but he was still annoyed and also now a little interested in what would happen if, say, he just stiff-armed Timo away and pushed at the other man’s chest. “Up.”

“What? On the table?” Timo mumbled into Philipp’s hand.

Timo’s hand tried again to get at Philipp’s groin, but Philipp intercepted it and tugged it back to press the palm against the green felt. “Up. Come on.”

“It’ll be so uncomfortable…” But Timo hitched himself up and wriggled till he got his ass over the edge, then gingerly started to lean back.

To be honest, Philipp just was trying to stay connected to the other man while he followed, but he lost his balance and grabbed for the nearest thing, which happened to be Timo’s shoulder. And then he toppled over, which made him shove that shoulder down, and Timo’s head hit the table with an audible thunk.

Philipp winced and started to apologize, but then he noticed how Timo was staring up at him and stopped. He blinked hard, trying to get the heat ripples out of his vision, then scooted himself all the way up so he was straddling Timo’s waist. Timo reached for him and he grabbed the hand and pushed it down, leaning forward so both Timo’s wrists would stay pinned. “‘It’ll be so uncomfortable,’” he mimicked. “Timo, I just want to be with you right now. Could you stop complaining long enough for us to do that?”

Eyes wide and mouth open, Timo hastily nodded. His tongue flicked out and over his bottom lip; Philipp couldn’t help but reach over and trace where the tongue had gone with his finger. But then Timo tried to grab him again so he had to push that hand back down. He shifted as he did and Timo’s head dropped back, a long groan rattling out of him. The warming bulge beneath Philipp’s butt stiffened a little more, and when he deliberately pushed himself around on it, Timo jerked his head so much that he hit a nearby ball and sent it lying into the corner pocket.

Wincing, he turned back to Philipp. “Okay, okay, I’m really sorry, now could you—”

Philipp leaned over and kissed the spot on Timo’s forehead that had banged into the ball, then drew a figure-eight with his tongue. He trailed more kisses down between the eyebrows and over the nose-bridge, lifting up when Timo tried to tilt his head towards him.

“—God, Phil--please—”

The plea in Timo’s voice made Phil’s breath catch. He had to hold still where he was for a moment, certain that if he moved too soon, he’d collapse. Then he dove down for Timo’s mouth, letting the other man’s wrists slip out from under his fingers so soon nails were digging into his shoulderblades, and—

“Phil! Timo! I have the best idea—whoa.”

Philipp…didn’t even want to look. He stiffened, then willed himself into a leaden slump so Timo wouldn’t get up and kill Bastian, burying his face in Timo’s neck. Timo growled and made a couple credible attempts to get up, but finally gave up. “Bastian, you’re dead. I’m going to use your head for the ball tomorrow.”

“Um. Sorry. By the way, door…lock…good things…but just listen really quick, okay? They’re going to watch us change rooms, but I don’t think they’ll come back. And when they’re checking curfew they just walk through the hallways, so we could switch rooms and they wouldn’t be able to tell! There’re balconies so it’ll be really easy, and…look, I’ll work out the details. Just be ready when you get the signal, okay? Okay…um, bye.”

Quick skittering of feet retreated, and then the sound of the closing door. After a moment, Philipp pushed himself up. “Sorry.”

“Why are you apologizing? I don’t want to kill you,” Timo snorted. He cupped his hands around Philipp’s face and pulled him back down.

They tried for nearly a minute, but finally Philipp had to pull himself away again. “This isn’t going to work now, is it?”

“No, and I am going to slaughter Schweini. Make porkchops out of him.” With an exasperated sigh, Timo let his head drop back. He moved his hands up and down Philipp’s back, but it didn’t do anything to revive the mood. “How’s Munich?”

“The team or the city?” Damn, Philipp grumbled to himself. Most of the time, he thought people were too hard on Bastian, but sometimes he could understand way too well. “The funniest youth soccer team visited us the other day…”

And that was basically how they spent the little time they had left till curfew. Talking, catching up with each other, and it was good. It was great just to be able to talk to Timo and not have to imagine all the little quirky smiles and eyebrow-lifts, but it was still edged with that little bit of irritation at Bastian’s interruption. But that was what happened sometimes.

* * *

Philipp was just about to answer when something tapped at the balcony doors. He frowned, twisting around in the armchair.

“What was that?” Miro said, leaning out of the bathroom. His hair was still damp and bits of shaving foam were stuck to his freshly-smooth cheeks.

The tapping came again, only harder and accompanied by a muffled hiss. “Lahmi! Open up! It’s freezing out here!”

“Oh…oh, God, it’s Schweini,” Philipp said, jumping to his feet. He’d been so busy…well, sulking…over what Bastian had done that he’d completely forgotten what Bastian had said. Frankly, he hadn’t thought the other man was being serious—never a good idea with Schweini.

He scrambled over and yanked open the balcony door, then backed up so Bastian could get in. Then he leaned outside to see if anyone else had seen. The balconies on one side were empty, though when he went all the way out, he could see that the light in Lukas’ and David’s room was on. He turned around only to find a bemused Oliver looking at him.

“He made it over,” Neuville said. “I was terrified we’d have to scrape him off the ground in the morning.”

“Hey, have some faith.” Apparently all warmed-up again, Bastian came back out. He briskly rubbed his hands on his trousers and nodded towards the railing. “Besides, they’re not even a meter apart. You can touch the next one just by leaning over…and what do you mean, ‘in the morning’?”

Neuville rolled his eyes, then waved to something behind Philipp and Bastian. “Well, of course I’m going to seize the moment and finally get some sleep first. Sorry, Miro. I forgot and thought Philipp was in with David, otherwise I wouldn’t have let them bother you.”

“Bother me with what? I was just shaving,” Miro said. It was a little bit nippy and he hadn’t put on a shirt yet, so he stayed inside. He didn’t look upset, but he didn’t look like he was going away either, which didn’t make Philipp happy.

“We’re switching rooms,” Bastian told him before Philipp could stop him. “Lukas is getting Timo across the hall into his room—”

Sudden screech from the far end of the hall, followed by a strange, repetitive clanking sound that got louder and louder till it passed the door to Philipp and Miro’s room. It kept going but grew softer, and that was when Philipp figured out that that must have been a cart.

Bastian looked annoyed. “That would’ve been it. Damn it, I hope Poldi saved some of those pies. This hotel charges a lot for room service.”

“What did you do?” Philipp glanced at the door, then out and towards the left again. One by one, the lights in the two intervening rooms went on. Weird sounds were still coming from the hall. He looked back and forth and finally decided that it was a better idea to stay where he was, since Bastian was on the balcony. He had a better chance of keeping things in hand that way.

“Oh, Timo’s fine. I told Lukas to be careful.” Giving Philipp a pat on the shoulder, Bastian moved to get onto the railing next to Torsten and Jens’ room. Then he frowned and got back down. “Right. I almost forgot. So…Lukas and I weren’t sure how you wanted to do this. David didn’t want to trade places with Timo, so he’s gonna come down and share with Oliver and I’ll go over there with Lukas—”

For a moment, Philipp stood there and stared and let his mouth hang open. Then he slowly put his hand to the side of his head, as if that was going to make anything including his sudden headache better. “Bastian…” The sound of his own voice shattered his shock and sent him right into panic “…Bastian!”

He stared wildly at Oliver and then Miro, then was spinning around again to look at who knew who when something grabbed his shoulder. Bastian yanked him back, then gave him a shake. “Lahmi! Phil! Calm down, calm down…look, Oliver says everybody knows and they’re okay. They’re not going to go running to anyone. I mean, we’ve all got things that are between the team only.”

“He’s right for once,” Oliver said, leaning over. “Really, Philipp. It’s okay.”

Which was a little bit comforting, and then a little bit not, because…“You already knew?”

Miro coughed off to the side. He scrubbed at the side of his face with his hand. “Phil, during practices and games we spend more time with each other than with our family. Don’t worry—it’s not obvious. And we are fine with it. At least, I really am.” Lopsided grin. “I can’t believe that the Catholic Church is right about condemning my teammates for something like that. Men wrote that down—men make mistakes.”

He leaned over and fuzzed with Philipp’s hair just as Oliver chuckled, breaking the solemnity of the moment. “Just make sure you don’t make any during the game. Right, Miro?” Oliver added.

“Phil won’t. He’s good like that.” And Bastian was off and running again, like nothing had even happened. “But anyway, back to the problem. I don’t know where to put you and Timo. The room isn’t big enough for Miro to go in with Oliver and David…”

The sound of metal grating distracted all of them so they turned towards the left, where Torsten was poking his head out. He looked the wrong way at first, but nobody made a move so when he did look the right way, they were all still there. He frowned. “What’s going on?”

“Fringsi!” Bastian grabbed the railing, hiked himself up and was over just as Philipp belatedly made a snatch for the other man. He landed safely, but with a loud thump that Philipp was sure everyone else on the floor had to have heard. “Nothing to worry about, just some rearranging…”

Torsten had jumped back when Bastian had leaped the railing, rattling something inside, but now he straightened himself out and came all the way onto the balcony. He folded his arms over his chest. “Bastian, we’re doing this for a reason.”

“Bastian!” somebody hiss-shouted.

When Bastian and Torsten turned to look, they parted just enough for Philipp to see it was somebody on the very farthest balcony. But then Torsten leaned back in before Philipp could find out who it was.

“Hang on,” Miro said from behind Philipp. He came around to the front, then crouched down and bent over, his hands back like he was grabbing for something.

After a moment, Philipp got it and scrambled onto the other man’s back. He was dizzy for a second and scrabbled at Miro, but then his fingers slipped over Miro’s shoulders and he could steady himself again. “Thanks.”

“No problem. Honestly, I’m curious to see if Schweini can pull this off. This is much more fun than trying to find a good movie on the TV.” Miro started to move right, then went back left a few steps. “Sorry, Oliver—is that good?”

“That’s fine,” Oliver said. He added something else that Philipp didn’t quite catch and Miro laughed.

Philipp wasn’t really paying attention, since he could see all the way to the last balcony now. He spotted Timo and for a second completely forgot that they were risking their necks and probably going to be in serious trouble soon, and gave the other man a wave. Timo hesitantly waved back; beside him, Lukas had his hands on the railing and was bouncing up and down so Philipp could barely see David standing behind them.

“Bastian! What if you’d fallen? Don’t you think about these—and don’t you start, Podolski!” Torsten snapped, turning back and forth, back and forth. He looked like he was getting a little dizzy now, but he didn’t seem any less annoyed. “We’re supposed to be getting to know—”

“And I stayed in my room for an hour and a half and Oliver and I had a good talk. But now Oliver wants to rest up and I want to get Lukas into a bed,” Bastian said in a matter-of-fact tone. It was scary and okay, a little admirable how comfortable he was now that he didn’t have to worry about the rest of the team finding out. “Hey, wait a second. If Per moves over to room with Hanke, then you can get over with Micha and Miro can go with Jens. Then Timo and David can come down, and we’re all happy.”

Torsten flushed bright red and kind of flailed his arms around. He’d probably been trying to gesture for Bastian to shut up, but Bastian sort of had blind spots when it came to that stuff. Once they’d realized that, people always tended to move their hands more dramatically, like that would help. “Schweinsteiger!”

“What are you doing, Frings?” “Who’s out there?”

Michael and Jens came out at the same time. Per followed a little after, but Philipp didn’t really notice because…because…okay, he rooted for Timo in practically everything, but Lehmann was really built. And only wearing a fluffy white towel, which was slung so low on his waist that Philipp couldn’t help seeing that the man was curly blond down there, too. He really couldn’t help it—it was just there. He immediately looked back down the row of balconies, feeling guilty anyway…only to catch Timo staring too. Philipp was relieved, annoyed, jealous, and then he got tired of being confused so he finally settled on maybe seeing if Timo liking his hands being held down went anywhere else. Once they figured out the whole room issue, and damn it, Bastian had him convinced to go along with it and he hadn’t even noticed.

“What’s going on?” Michael demanded, whipping his head back and forth. “Timo, aren’t you supposed to be—and Bastian! What are you doing there?”

Jens had a cell phone to his ear. Once he had gotten a good look at everyone, he apparently decided it was no big deal and dropped back just inside the room to continue his conversation. Which was in English, interestingly enough. “No, Freddie, nobody’s died yet. Though I’m sure that Michael’s thinking about changing that.”

“I just wanted to say good night to Poldi,” Bastian said, so innocent that butter couldn’t have melted in his mouth.

It didn’t convince Michael, and Philipp could see that while Bastian kept Balla distracted, Lukas was hustling David and Timo over into that balcony. He had to cover his mouth fast to hide his smile when Per shrugged and started helping with that.

“That’s not what you just said to me. Micha, he wants to move everyone around so he and Lukas can—” Torsten broke off right there and took a step back. At first Philipp thought it was because Torsten wasn’t sure if it was okay to talk about that, but then Frings whirled and pointed. “David! Timo—don’t do that! Be careful!”

“We’re fine, we’re fine,” Timo muttered, swinging wide of Torsten as he dropped down. He dodged Torsten’s half-hearted attempt to grab at him, then casually nodded towards Jens as he jogged the short distance across the balcony.

Jen’s hand came out in a sarcastic wave, then withdrew. His voice got softer, like he was walking away from the door. “It’s just the kids trying to screw each other. No big deal…”

“Hildebrand! Odonkor! Get back here!” Michael growled. He was loud enough for there to be an echo, which made them all wince and briefly crouch back towards the rooms.

Amazingly enough, nobody came out to see what was going on. The coaching staff must have had ear-plugs in or something.

David glanced around, then shrugged and came back out. He easily hopped the railings between Torsten’s and Philipp’s rooms and continued on, only pausing to give Miro a high-five as he went to leap the railing to Oliver’s room. Timo, however, was blocked by Torsten and Bastian, who immediately started arguing again. “Oh, come on, Micha. I talked to Oliver and Lukas talked to David. I mean, normally we’d be sleeping now so what’s the point in staying in the same rooms?”

Michael put his hands on his hair, then pushed his fingers into it while looking supremely pained. “Why can’t you sleep?”

“You’re making all this noise,” Torsten agreed. “And what about in the morning? This is dangerous.”

“I’ve got that covered!” Bastian protested. “Just hear me out.”

While they were busy, Timo carefully slid around Torsten and Bastian till he could get up against the railing. He grinned up at Philipp. “Liking it up there?” he whispered.

Philipp made a face at him; he was so getting it the moment he…right. “Are you coming over here, or am I going over there?”

Timo shrugged. “I don’t know. Lukas and Bastian didn’t get that part figured out yet, did they?”

Miro’s shoulders shifted. He put up his hand just as Philipp was grabbing for his head for balance, steadying Philipp by the elbow. “Just come over here, Timo. I think I can guess what Bastian’s trying to do.”

“…go over there? Then you’ll be relaxed,” Bastian said.

Both Michael and Torsten were blushing now, and Torsten kept pressing the heels of his hands into his temples. He groaned and shook his head. “Schweini, just stop. Micha doesn’t want me to come over.”

“Why not? I mean…you’re good-looking and all. I don’t mind running behind your ass.” Bastian blinked, like he had no more of an idea than any of the other gobsmacked people standing on various balconies why he’d just said that. Then he lifted and dropped one shoulder as if to say whatever. He took a step back and actually looked up and down Torsten, who now was staring at Bastian like he might need a fire-hose. “Hey, Lukas? What do you think?”

A thump just beside Philipp and Miro made Philipp look down, so he missed seeing Lukas’ initial reaction. But he was seeing that Timo was all right, so that was good. He looked back in time to see a broad, understanding smile spread over Lukas’ face. “Well, if you can’t come over, I guess I could understand Torsten.”

“I know…great calves…I bet your hair feels really nice, too. It looks really fluffy right now. Did you just dry it?” Bastian said, doing a little walk-around. He stayed about half-a-meter away, which was barely enough to keep Torsten from doing anything, like punching him. Or jumping off the balcony to get away. “Oh, hey, is that why Jens is only in a towel? Did you two—”

“Schweinsteiger!” Jens bellowed from somewhere in the room.

Michael somehow rushed up to the railing and just barely kept his momentum from sending him over it. His face had settled into that cool, utterly determined expression that spelled disaster for anyone getting in his way. “Torsten, get over here.”

Torsten looked extremely relieved and wasted no time doing that. Then he actually yelped and jumped back into Michael as Bastian breezed by him, heading for the other end of the balcony. Michael turned to yell after Bastian, then abruptly changed his mind and just headed back into his room, Torsten on his heels. Which left Per standing out on that balcony, looking vaguely amused.

“Mind moving over to Hanke?” Bastian threw over his shoulder as he jumped. He landed almost on top of Lukas, then immediately slung an arm around the other man’s neck.

Per glanced over his shoulder inside the room, then made a face. “No, not at all. I don’t need to know that much about Michael.”

He started hiking himself over the railing just as Jens wandered back out, looking thoroughly annoyed. “Is everyone done yet?”

“Well, I think I need to come over to you. I’d like to get some sleep,” Miro said. He swung Philipp down into Timo’s arms, then put one hand on the railing, looking at Jens.

“You and everyone else…” Jens went inside, which apparently was a ‘yes’ since he left the door open.

After he’d hopped over, Miro immediately followed Lehmann, shutting the door behind him. Then there was another thunk as David and Oliver went in, which just left…Phil and a very chilly breeze that made him wrap his arms and legs around Timo, burrowing hard into the other man’s neck. “Cold.”

“Okay, okay…” Timo slid his hands beneath Philipp’s thighs and hiked him up a bit, then turned around and walked inside. “Glad we finally got all that figured o—”

Philipp wriggled down and grabbed the back of Timo’s head and kissed him hard. Whatever Bastian had done to make this impossible, he’d taken it back because the moment Philipp’s lips touched Timo’s, it was all heat and hunger. He dragged his hands down Timo’s back and the other man arched while he was still walking, sending Philipp off-balance. And he never really did recover from there, his head spinning and the blood pounding erratically in his ears. By the time Timo flopped them on the bed, Philipp was moaning and rubbing himself up against Timo’s leg, his nails stuck too deep in Timo’s back to get them to move anywhere.

Luckily, Timo had no problem being the one whose hands took care of things this time and very shortly afterward, they were lying in a sticky, satisfied, warm mess on the bed. Well, except for the side of Philipp’s butt that was getting the draft from the open door. He wriggled off Timo’s prick and nuzzled the underside of Timo’s jaw. “Cold.”

“And tired,” Timo mumbled. He grunted when Philipp bit him, then sighed and rolled over to get the door. Which he did in about two seconds, and then he was sliding back against Philipp, licking his way up Philipp’s stomach and then mercilessly rubbing his head against the ticklish spots on Philipp’s sides. He grabbed Philipp’s waist and held it in place. “I don’t know how you deal with Bastian during the league season. Just tonight wore me out.”

“He wore you out?” Philipp finally twisted free, but instead of moving away he dragged Timo up so he could pillow down on top of him.

Timo snorted and petted Philipp’s back. “C’mon. You know what I meant. Stop teasing…oh, my God, you almost killed me on the pool table. You—not Schweini. Okay?”

“Mmm.” Sleep was starting to creep up on Philipp, but then he remembered something. “Hey. Did you know…that they know? I mean…everyone else?”

After a moment, Timo raised his head to frown at Philipp. His hand swept up to curl around the back of Philipp’s neck. “Well, I kind of guessed when nobody seemed all that surprised about where I was going just now. Though damn it, Jens is going to let me have it the next time Klinsmann benches him. Why? Are you okay?”

“Yeah, just kind of surprised.” Philipp put his head back down. “I’m relieved, too.”

“Yeah…did it matter?”

When Philipp checked, Timo still had his head up and looked a little concerned. He didn’t lie back when Philipp found his hand and threaded their fingers together. “No, but it’s…easier, a little. So I’m happy about that.”

“Well, I like it when you’re happy.” Soft thud as Timo’s head hit the mattress. “Though you can be pretty fun when you’re annoyed…where did that come from?”

“Show you tomorrow,” Philipp mumbled, snuggling down. He felt a hand drift over his shoulder and head, then back down. Comforted, he closed his eyes.