Tangible Schizophrenia



Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13.
Pairing: David Beckham/Ruud van Nistelrooy, implied David/Ruud/Victoria
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: This is all fiction and I don’t know what these people really do in their spare time.
Notes: Set in early August just before the beginning of the ’06-07 season.
Summary: Ruud isn’t looking at the upcoming season in the right way.


From where he stood on the balcony, the people in the room looked like sparks, gilt-and-jewel flames that flashed back and forth. They were beautiful and happy and a complete lie.

He probably was a little tipsy. Normally he didn’t drink much champagne at these sorts of events, preferring to save that for when he didn’t feel constrained from fully expressing himself, but tonight seemed like a reasonable exception to the rule. Besides, everyone said that Spain was more relaxed than England. He really should start working to absorb the atmosphere, fit in, try not to be pushed off the ship and have to make a fast jump again. Which of course was why Ruud was out here.

Well, that was why he was drunk. And rather contentedly so, considering the circumstances. He probably couldn’t stand right now without giving away his true state, but the stone benches ringing the inside edge of the balustrade were long enough to accommodate his whole body when he laid down, and the shadows thrown by the bushes behind him would keep most people from noticing him. His dress shoes—so stiff, as if he were one of those hopeless cases who thought society existed only on the pitch—had stopped hurting several minutes ago.

He was having a little bit of difficulty with breathing, his collar digging into the front of his throat too much for his taste. So he tried to pull his arm up to deal with it, only he seemed to have rolled over part of his sleeve. Once he’d pulled that loose, the side of his coat-jacket snagged on his watch and briefly blotted out the glittering party inside. Ruud sighed and tugged at the knot of his tie till he could get his fingers above it and undo the top button of his shirt. Then he put his arm down and David was leaning over him.

Becks looked very well, blond and tanned so he glowed even in the dark, with the picturesque champagne glass dangling from his fingers. “’ey. Sorry I never came up to welcome you properly…thought I’d do that now. Since you’ve finally lost that mob around you.”

“They were all reporters wanting to know about Fergie and Ronaldo and the goddamned national team. You should’ve just punched a few out of the way,” Ruud snorted. He reached down and swung his hand with great care—probably the comical exaggerated care of the sloshed, judging by how David’s eyes flicked down—till he found his glass. Which he discovered was empty once he’d lifted it. “And what happened to your mob?”

“Got rid of them. I think Vicky’s having fun jerking them about. She’s a great girl like that.” David glanced around, then turned and sat down on the edge of the bench, boxing in Ruud. He plucked the glass from Ruud’s hand, but didn’t replace it with his own full one. “I think you’ve had enough. You’re supposed to be classy, remember?”

Ruud decided not to make a lunge for either glass, which probably was going to be his last sensible decision of the night. “Well, I managed to leave Man U without getting a real boot to my head, so I’m not complaining.”

He had a brief, viciously satisfied moment when David winced, but the high died quickly away to put Ruud back with that bitter, lingering aftertaste in his mouth. He put up his other arm, hooking it over the railing, and tried to roll over, but the bench wasn’t wide enough. Though he tried anyway for several moments, acutely aware of how David was sitting silently by, like it was too pathetic to even laugh at. Of course David probably had the right of it; he wasn’t as dumb as people thought and he could be pretty damned good at reading emotions even if he never could keep his lies straight—that was why he generally told the truth and got jeered for it.

Finally Ruud gave up and laid back down, but he’d somehow scooted himself back, or David had moved, so that the bench no longer could hold him when he was flat down. He had to lie tilted on his side, and if that was the case, then he might as well sit up.

David gave him a hand, which Ruud shrugged off. So David waited a second, then gave Ruud a hand again and got him leaning up against a pillar. Dusted him off and straightened his coat, then reached for Ruud’s tie.

Ruud batted that hand away and kept his arm up in case he needed to do it again. “You never knew how to do it right.”

“Well, it’s been awhile. Maybe I finally learned.” Flash of that famous smile.

In the two years that they’d overlapped, Ruud had never really bought that veneer and he didn’t now, no matter how much champagne was coursing through his veins. He rolled his eyes and let his head fall back against the top of the short pillar. It wasn’t comfortable at all and he’d maybe even have a pressure bruise, but it was better than looking at David and remembering.

“Madrid’s nothing like Man U—I know, I know, but they never get it. They think all football’s like the Premier League, and Spanish football’s not the same at all. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, what they do,” David said. He paused and Ruud could hear him swallowing, could hear the tiny fizz of bubbles bursting against the man’s damnable mouth. “Madrid’s one of the top clubs in the league here, and it’s a whole different game they play. It’s not—”

“You’re still starting on your national team,” Ruud snapped.

He felt the wince go down David’s back, but like always, Becks just twisted and let it keep on rolling. It bothered him but he managed to let go of it. He was magic like that, and never mind the poor passing or whatever people wanted to blame David for at the moment. David even managed a dry chuckle. “Eh, well, we’ll see about that. Wait till McClaren settles in proper and gets going, and then tell me I’m even going to get another cap.”

Ruud felt his mouth twist. He wanted to pat David on the shoulder. He wanted to punch him and walk away to somewhere quieter. He just sat there like the drunken sack of a player he was. “So you do read the papers. Well, then you’d know that they call Madrid—”

David turned around and put his arm across Ruud to hold onto the balustrade. He didn’t need the support; the sudden flare of anger that lighted his eyes and hardened his jaw held his body tense and ready. “Ruud, man, it’s good to see a familiar face but the next words out of your mouth better be nice. Because Madrid’s my team now, and it’s a lot of things but a last-ditch home for over-the-hill wankers isn’t it. You want to be one of those, you take a long walk back over the Channel.”

Surprise reined Ruud in for a moment, long enough to make him thoughtful. Turn his snarl inwards again. “Well, what do you think I am?”

“A bloody stupid mistake on Fergie’s part,” David promptly responded. “No, seriously—I have respect for the…for what the man can do, but I’ve been wondering lately. You’re still one of the best strikers in the world.” Half-grin, slightly less polished and a lot more true than the one he’d shown Ruud before. “Pélé says so, so it must be true.”

“You always had a smart mouth. I just couldn’t believe Fergie didn’t throw the whole damn gear bin at you sometimes,” Ruud said, mostly wry beneath his sharpness. He could feel his edge dulling, his anger slipping away, and for a moment he clung to it, wildly trying to drag it back out of the fear of what he might have left if that heat went out.

David cocked his head. He still had his arm thrown out, only a step away from trying to embrace Ruud. “Long as you’re scoring goals for us, you’re still a footballer. And when you don’t—”

“—there’s America?”

“Well, maybe. If we break down soon, because I think they might be coming up,” David snorted, looking away. He leaned forward, his hand sliding along the stone railing till his knuckles bumped into Ruud’s shoulder. “But I wasn’t planning on going that fast, and you’re not going to either.”

“You’re still cocky, too. Oh, God.” Ruud was being entirely sarcastic now, no fury or bitterness backing that up.

Grinning, David raised his glass to Ruud, then took a sip. Then he made an exaggerated apologetic face and held the glass out to Ruud. “Sorry, man. Forgot you didn’t have one…you still want it?”

“No.” You stupid optimistic bastard, Ruud added in his head as he pushed David’s hand aside. He used David’s arm as a guide, pushing his hand up it till he could round it over David’s shoulder, but managed to maneuver his other hand through the empty air between them to David’s cheek. The stubble there rasped against his thumb as he leaned forward.

He’d never bothered while at Manchester, turned off by all the attention Becks got anyway, always mentally blocked off the noise whenever talk had turned to David’s prowess off the pitch. And this press of mouth and mouth didn’t live up to the billing of top English stud, but it was soft and it gave time for Ruud to adjust, to open his lips to David’s tentative tongue, to regain his balance when he surprised himself by shivering and moaning. Because he was still drunk, and possibly that was why he was tolerating David right now.

He hoped not, actually. He hoped this growing warmth in his gut, its tendrils of slackness that smoothed away the tension in his body like even the alcohol hadn’t been able to, was real. He hoped he’d get up in the morning and look out at the city and think, I can play here instead of they pushed me here.

David ended the kiss, pressing his forehead to Ruud’s and pulling his mouth away. His fingers shifted over the back of Ruud’s hair, tangling in it and shaping over the curves and bumps of the bone. “Think I’ve left Victoria too long. Come on—she’ll meet us at the car.”

“‘Us’?” Ruud said. “I didn’t think she liked me much.”

“She liked you fine—you just never bothered to talk much to her. Or me.” Dead honest, as straight as David’s benders weren’t. “But come on—we’ll give you a ride home, and maybe we can do something about that.”

Ruud tried a little honesty of his own. “I don’t have a home here yet.”

With a laugh, David slipped his arm under Ruud’s, and Ruud almost automatically lifted his. Then he realized what he was doing, and then he slowly bent his arm around David’s neck, leaning forward till he could smell the sweat mixing with the other man’s cologne. “We’ll work on that, too. If you’re game, you know.”

“I…” Ruud breathed in, running his tongue around his mouth and not tasting the sourness anymore “…I’m game, David.”