It starts like this.
The lights are down and the base is pumping faster than Fernando’s heart can keep up, and Olalla is gripping his fingers tightly, gluing him to reality and away from the flashing lights and the escape that is all around him.
Sergio had warned him this was a bad idea. That he shouldn’t have brought him to this trashy club on the west side of Liverpool that smelled of sex and need and bad decisions. But Fernando had laughed and insisted that he come along, come along and teach Olalla how to dance (no one dances like Sergio).
And it wasn’t like Sergio ever meant his half-hearted pleas to let him stay home and rot on a Saturday night, because he’s up and challenging the darkness around him and daring the sweaty bodies to compete for his attention as he tests himself in the air, not molding himself to the rhythm of the music like most of the dancers, but taking the beat, taking charge and making it his own.
Olalla clears her throat and Fernando turns to her, glad the fakeness of his toothy smile is masked by the dark and smoke.
“I don’t want to learn how to dance like that, Fernando,” she states pointedly, “Too much… skin.” Her cleanliness and starch and pressed blouse begin to wilt and sag as cigarette smoke licks at her frown. “You just keep on dancing with the boys, I don’t mind. But the sitter will be wondering where we are and-?”
There’s something about the way Sergio moves that makes Fernando want to run.
He wants to run and rip Sergio away from the mass of bodies surrounding him. He wants to just tear at him and silence the girl with the dark (purple?) lipstick and the plump woman with the hair extensions and place him away from the rest in a dark and damp corner where he can just keep dancing and dancing and lick at his skin and the pain and
Sergio dances like he plays. He doesn’t play within the parameters of his position like the other players, yielding to the inevitable goal or two, but stakes his claim in the grass and doesn’t budge. And just like when Sergio dances, Fernando is mesmerized.
It starts like this.
Sergio’s new to the squad, just wearing in his new training gear and his smile and laughs amongst the other boys, who can’t tell if they love him or really love him yet.
Fernando doesn’t really talk to him for a while because he doesn’t guess there’s really any reason for their paths to cross. Sergio’s loud and beautiful and always in everyone’s business and he’s… he’s not. But Fernando guesses wrong and Sergio’s pulling him over to the side of the pitch after practice one night and he’s disgusting and sweaty and wants to go to sleep but when Sergio asks him (no, tells him) if he wants to go eat with him at this Italian joint down the corner, he pretends to think about it but really his heart is pounding ‘yes’.
“Here,” Sergio says later when Fernando emerges from his hotel room in a pair of respectable slacks and a buttoned shirt, “Blue looks nice with your skin.”
He slips on the baby blue v-neck without another thought.
They go out and eat and Fernando spends the entire rest of the Selection pretending that Sergio’s playful remarks and shining eyes don’t remind him of summer and of the fact that he’s maybe been wasting all of this time in his life so far and this isn’t exactly what he knows it is but then, Sergio kisses him.
It doesn’t happen for a while. For a while, Fernando tricks himself into praying that it’ll never happen.
But they’re sitting back in the hotel room they’re sharing during a week of training and Fernando’s flipping through the channels, trying to ignore the way Sergio’s hand is brushing against his because Fernando is too old to be blushing in his cheeks at something like this. He is too old and wise to believe in getting what he wants.
It just so happens that Sergio’s found a channel that’s playing flamenco, and Fernando forces down a smile as Sergio leaps up from his bed and for a moment, he’s only joking when he tosses his hair back over his shoulder and wiggles his hips and Fernando just laughs appropriately. But because he’s Sergio, he’s soon closing his eyes and letting the music take him over.
Fernando just watches. He wishes he could learn to take the important things in life seriously, the way Sergio does.
The song has faded into something muted and sexy. Sergio ties his hair up and stares at his reflection in the full length mirror.
“Have you ever been in love?”
Fernando isn’t taken aback. For one of the first and last times in his life, he doesn’t turn and run.
His answer is no of course not, but they both know that Sergio isn’t looking for an answer. He’s looking for a promise.
“Oh,” Sergio says, and there’s a pretty grin painted across his face as Fernando stands to meet him in the glowing light of the television screen, “me neither.”
There’s an awkward moment that hangs together right before their lips meet, but it’s a nice kind of awkward. A warm kind.
Fernando falls asleep melted inside of Sergio’s arms sometime later fully unaware of the 2 missed calls from Olalla on his phone and of how this memory will haunt him and drain the bottles of vodka on his counter but he’s not thinking about reasoning or logic or even of himself now. With Sergio, he’ll learn, there isn’t ever any room for thinking. Only for feeling.
He isn’t thinking now, and he isn’t sure how Sergio’s shoulder fell into his tugging hands and how his knees landed in the middle of the floor of the club’s dirty bathroom, but there’s at least light here and he can see Sergio’s panting form and anger in the reflection of the mirror.
“What the fuck, Fernando?”
His voice is groaning and laced with want and starving and Fernando’s heard all before but he never thought he would hear it like this. Because Sergio’s hard and bulging in his pants and his mind is still on the dance floor and Fernando is just something small beneath him on the cheap checkered tile.
“I said, what the fuck?” Sergio is dragging him up now off the floor and against him and Fernando is pretty sure that his lip is bleeding but he doesn’t get the chance to check in the mirror because Sergio’s licking it all away from his quivering chin.
There’s a moment that seems to hang in the air when Fernando just wants to sink into Sergio and letting him have him but it doesn’t last long because Sergio’s shoving him away again, pinning him against the sink.
“Don’t you have a fucking answer for me, Fernando?”
Fernando smells cheap perfume. He guesses that the perfume comes from not from Sergio, but from the bronzed skin he was running his lips over the moment before Fernando decided to… what had he decided to do?
“You fucking shove yourself up in my face and knock my girl’s drink out of her hand and drag me back here and you don’t have an answer?”
Fernando whimpers against him, muttering that he’s drunk and he’s sorry and he doesn’t know what just happened but Sergio cuts him off.
“Don’t you dare use my own excuses against me,” Sergio bites, rocking his hips into Fernando’s splayed body, “We both know better than that.”
“Sergio, I just...” Fernando stammers, and he’s wiping a hand across his lip and watching the blood run across his hand because he just can’t look Sergio in the eye now, not when he’s so close and breathing against him like this.
“You just what ?” Sergio spits “You can’t stand to see me get some? You’re getting laid every night now, why can’t I?”
It’s at this timid display of jealousy that Fernando finally comes alive.
“I don’t sleep with her, Sergio, I can’t now and—“ He chokes as Sergio grips at his wrists against the cheap marble he’s lying and lying and they both know it because they’ve heard it so many time before, “--I don’t want it anymore, I don’t want her anymore so can’t you just come home, Sergio?”
There’s a moment when Fernando thinks Sergio is just going to laugh at the absurdity of his words and at the fact that he really has no reason, no incentive to believe them, but he doesn’t and instead he leans forward and brushes his lips to his ear, quietly. Like they are lovers.
“Go back to Olalla,” he whispers, thrusting him against him and Fernando can’t help it; he’s spreading his hips apart and groaning. “Go back to your wife, Fernando. You don’t know what you want.”
“Sergio, I want y-“
“Prove it,” he bites back just because he knows that Fernando can’t. Not in the way he wants.
“There’s the babies,” Fernando sputters, aching against him, so hard in his pants, “I’m a father now, Sergio, I can’t just…”
“Fuck you,” Sergio snarls, biting at the side of his neck just to feel the tenderness of what he’s about to break.
“Please, Sergio?” Fernando begs because he can feel his cock against his leg.
“Yeah?” Sergio snorts against his skin in the way that makes him feel like a little boy again. Like a child. Like nothing.
But he still shivers and shakes against him now and he just wants to feel Sergio’s weight against him like this forever so he doesn’t respond, hoping and praying that he will finally decide to fuck him.
But Sergio’s got a pretty girl with purple lipstick and a dirty conscious and so he’s leaving Fernando to fall to his knees against the concrete, opening the door of the bathroom.
He steps outside and leaves Fernando alone with the bright lights.
Sergio doesn’t realize that he is Fernando’s home.
Fernando knows its coming. He can feel it spilling out of his throat now.
They’re back in some hotel room again, only this time it’s nicer than before and has separate beds and room service because they’re a big deal now, they’re winners and they’ve won cups and they’ve made a name and a legacy for themselves and they can’t just go out on the street anymore. Sergio’s eating all of the publicity up, dazzling interviewers and grabbing endorsements because he was born for this. He’s beautiful and happy and young and it hurts.
Fernando kind of misses the small hotel rooms.
But he watches Sergio anyway, splayed out on their bed, just pretending to flip through the channels on the television and he wants to reach out and touch, but there’s that feeling of dread bubbling up deep inside him again and he settles for sitting up and fingering with a blister on his foot.
And suddenly, just when Sergio is leaning over the side of the bed to grab his socks, it overflows.
“I’m getting married.”
There’s a long hard stare from Sergio that Fernando would later try to classify as bruised and broken.
“To Olalla. She’s pregnant.”
Sergio nods for a long moment before leaning over to kiss him.
Fernando feels his heart quicken in his chest and he doesn’t pull away.
“Remember?” Sergio says after they’re curled up together, their clothes neglected in a pile on the floor. There are a thousand memories of grass stains and tears and crumpled sheets that he could be talking about, that Fernando could play back over and over in his mind or recite or watch in the mirror as he stares at his reflection and wonders what exactly happened to him? and what went wrong? He nods against Sergio’s chest.
“Yes.” He remembers.
Sergio says nothing.
“I wish it didn’t have to be this way,” Fernando says after some time, “Olalla just… she’s made everything so hard for us.”
He isn’t expecting the cold laugh that escapes from Sergio’s lips against his skin. “No,” Sergio says, and it’s the first thing he’s meant all night, “she makes it easy.”
Fernando pretends like he doesn’t hear him. The next morning shortly before dawn, he watches Sergio’s steady breathing and the way his fingers curl into the sheets and the slight part of his mouth before he packs up and runs again.
The club really comes alive when morning hits.
The last few drops of liquid are drained from glasses, and when those last few songs come on, Fernando watches the drunkards and fools and sluts toss off their lipstick and hairspray and heels and glasses and finally just dance. They are tired and worn and it shows on their faces, but they are giving the night one last chance to turn their lives around, to fix them. It’s those last few dances, slow and angry and desperate, that Fernando finds himself believing in.
He twists shaking hands together as he sits at the bar and just stares, lost not in the music of the movement in front of him but in the pain put on full display for him, and he finally gets to feeling that maybe, just maybe, he knows how to dance, too. Maybe he knows how to dance like Sergio, now.
He hurts like Sergio and now he stands up and he dances, his body grinding and melting into the other bodies as they try and work up the sweat that will ease away that desperate need to be loved, to feel and to hold again. Mistakes can’t be solved on the dance floor, but they can be burned away with heavy breathing and the sliding of slick skin. Tonight, this is enough.
Olalla’s left a few hours even though she’s seen Fernando like this, so in love with the dark, because she trusts with all of her heart that in the end, he will run away to her.
He goes home.