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I.

So many people rave about England. The heavy fogs, constant rain, and rolling green hills are romantic. The architecture is either quaint, or awe-inspiring. The people and the accents are charming, the tea and scones are delicious. London is one of those “must see” cities, and you’ll never want to leave.

Jeff thinks all of this is a lie. He hates England the moment he sees it. Right now, he’s sitting in the backseat of a town car as it drives him, his mother, and his horrible new stepfather through the streets of London. He’s barely paying attention to the landmarks. Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s are overrated anyway.

Instead, he’s glowering, trying to tune out his mother as she chatters on about how much he’s going to love Earl Richie’s beautiful estate. Jeff is certain that he’s going to despise the estate, because well, he hates everything Earl Richie stands for. Right now, he’s not even his mother’s biggest fan, because she started this whole mess.

It was just going to be a “little trip to England.” Next thing Jeff knew, she was announcing her engagement to the “true love of her life.” His mother has always been a social climber, having a dozen broken engagements since his parents’ divorce. Jeff would take any of these previous men over Earl Richie though. His new stepfather has made international tabloids for his antics, including attempting to crash Royal Family functions by attempting to pose as a pizza delivery man, having a collection of over 500 teddy bears, and generally being insane.

That’s not the worst part though. Before this, he had been happy, despite his crazy mother. He’d been living with his father in California, the land of year long eighty degree weather, gorgeous beaches, and Disneyland (which everyone knows is the happiest place on Earth). Somehow though (Jeff doesn’t even know, and partially suspects Earl Richie of bribery of some kind), his mother has taken him to live in England for a year, to “bond” with his new stepfather and get to know “the proper life a British aristocrat.”

Jeff would rather stick needles in his eyes than attend a polo match or go to the school his mother has picked out for him (what the fuck is Eton anyway?), but because he’s sixteen, there’s nothing he can do about it. He can’t wait until he’s eighteen. On that day, he’s planning on changing his name and moving to a private island in the South Pacific, where Earl Richie and his teddy bears can never find him.

His mother excitedly screeches something about being ten minutes away from darling Richie’s house.

“Great,” Jeff mutters under his breath. “Ten minutes away from Hell.”

II.

Jeff has changed his mind.

Earl Richie’s house isn’t hell. It might come close, but no.

Eton is hell. Jeff gives them props. Hell is cleverly disguised as an age-old boys boarding school, but appearances are deceiving.

For one thing, they have to wear uniforms. Hideous blue blazers and button down shirts. Every hour of the day is regulated for studying or sports or homework. They all have to meet with tutors, and you get detention for talking back.

Jeff gets detention a lot.

Being stuck “writing lines” almost every day isn’t why Eton is hell though. It’s the people. All of the boys are stuffy brats, from aristocratic families. They talk about their polo ponies and summer trips to Greece and who saw so-and-so at what garden party, and Jeff can hardly stand it. He doesn’t even know what to say half the time (apart from snapping that polo seems like the dumbest and most pointless sport of all time, which hasn’t made him very popular). None of them know about California, about palm trees or jacaranda blossoms or the bright blue of the Pacific. Instead, they had asked him if he knows movie stars.

He’d called them idiots. This hadn’t made him very popular either, but he doesn’t care. He’s miserable right now. His entire life, he’s been able to fit in effortlessly, but now, his accent and everything about him stick out like a sore thumb.

The only place he’s felt slightly at home at is on the soccer field. At least the British appreciate soccer, even though they call it “football.” For the first week after classes, he would go out and furiously kick soccer balls into the net as hard as he could, imagining them to be Earl Richie’s face.

Then, Jordan had showed up, and ruined everything.

Actually, Jordan is the reason for Jeff’s misery. Take every boy at Eton, combine all of their irritating personalities and cocky assurances due to having grown up with everything, and you have Jordan.

He’d appeared on the soccer field one day, started making commentary at all of Jeff’s plays and how Jeff needs “anger management skills” and that Jeff is “a good player” but not as good as him.

Jeff had called him a bitch and told him to fuck off. Jordan called him a wanker in response, and said this wouldn’t be the end.

The next day, Jeff had gone to the soccer field and Jordan had been there again. And the next day, and the next, always with some kind of insult or commentary.

That’s still not the worst part. Jeff had started ranting to his semi-sane roommate (he only talks about polo on occasion) about Jordan, and then found out that Jordan is not just some rich bastard, but the rich bastard.

Rich bastard as in the Queen’s oldest son. The Prince of Wales. Apparently, you don’t cross him either, so according to his roommate, Jeff is fucked. It didn’t help either that his roommate had started laughing at him, said he couldn’t believe Jeff didn’t know, that everyone knows who Jordan is, and that he really must be an ignorant American.

“Excuse me for not studying the tabloids like a preteen girl,” Jeff had snapped, before deciding that he officially hates everyone at Eton.

III.

It’s been a month, and Jeff still thinks Eton is hell.

The other boys are still snobs, and worse, Jordan “I’m the fucking Crown Prince” keeps following him, watching him on the soccer field. Jeff has taken to holing up in his room or the library, where he curses grey weather and the snobs and Earl Richie (who’s once again tried to crash a Buckingham Palace soiree) and attempts to will himself back to California. It never works. Fucking Dorothy, and “there’s no place like home.”

He’s lying on his bed now, glaring out at the rain (it always fucking rains here. If the sun comes out for an hour, people declare it was a “beautiful day”). It’s late at night, but he’s been sneaking out to the soccer field at insane hours, to try and avoid Jordan. The past couple of days, he becomes successful.

He decides the rain can suck it, and gets up, grabs his sports bag from the closet. It rains so much, that he’s used to getting caught in downpours and getting randomly soaked by now. Besides, if he gets pneumonia, maybe he can leave Eton.

IV.

It’s raining pretty hard, but Jeff doesn’t care all that much. He slams another ball into the net, pleased with himself. Maybe he’ll try out for the team in a couple weeks. Of course, fucking Jordan will probably there too, and--

“Hey wanker.”

“Fuck.” Jeff hisses under his breath. Okay. Jordan is officially a stalker. What did he do? Bribe someone to let him know when he left the dormitory?

Jordan gives him a cat-and-mouse smirk, unfazed at Jeff’s torment.

“What’s that? You want to fuck? Goodness knows you need it.”

Jeff flips him off again. Great. Now for some insane reason, the creepy stalker Crown Prince is hitting on him. Or messing with him. Jeff doesn’t know which.

“Do you have any other tricks besides flipping people off?” Jordan goes over to the net, retrieves the soccer ball, and starts dribbling it between his feet. “No wonder you don’t have many friends.”

“Do you have a point of being here?” Jeff lunges forward, attempts to take the ball. Jordan nimbly skirts away from him, smirking wider.

“Of course. I enjoy pissing you off.”

“Fuck you bitch.” Jeff glares. “You can play with yourself.”

“You always call people bitch too. Seriously. Get some new tricks.”

“You always call people wanker, bitch!” Jeff yells over his shoulder, as he heads toward the locker room.

V.

In the next week, Jeff’s life gets slightly better, and then it gets worse again. Better because he makes the soccer (football) team, and worse because of course, Jordan makes it too.

They’re both two of the best players on the team, so naturally, the coach insists they partner when they play one on one in warm-ups.

Jeff officially hates the world now. He really hates it on days that Jordan steals the ball from him, or gets more goals in. He snarls every obscenity he can think of at him, and Jordan just smirks, which is all the more maddening.

“Play nice boys....” Their coach will occasionally remark, almost lazily.

Jeff would rather eat lead, go hat shopping with his mother, or attend one of Earl Richie’s “teddy bear teas” than “play nice” with Jordan.

VI.

“Good one,” Jordan remarks as Jeff slams in a particularly vicious goal.

Jeff pauses, slightly out of breath, stares at Jordan for a second.

“Did you just give me a compliment, bitch?”

“I’m not completely heartless, wanker.” Jordan gives him a slight grin. Not quite a smirk. “Of course it’s not as brilliant as one of my goals one have been...”

“Yeah?” Jeff kicks the ball toward him. “Try me.”

Practice is ending, and they’re the only two people left on the field. This is how it always is. For two people that so violently dislike each other (well Jeff is certain he violently dislikes Jordan), they spend a lot of time together.

It’s because of soccer though, Jeff tells himself. As annoying as Jordan is, he still gets to play, forget about England and his mother and his awful life for a little bit. Plus, the days he actually does beat Jordan at one on one are more than satisfying.

This has become their routine even. Main practice, then they play against each other, hurling insults all the while, before breaking to the locker rooms and then going their separate ways, only to do it all again the next day.

“You know I’m going to win.” Jordan tells him. “Why even bother?”

“I beat you last time.” Jeff gives him a smirk.

“That was luck.” Jordan says easily. He’s kicking the ball between his feet, slowly. “So,” he continues. “What is your story anyway? I know you’re American, which explains the piss poor attitude.”

“Why do want to know?” Jeff shrugs. “You know the basics. I’m from California. My mother moved us to England because she remarried, and if you call it Cali or ask if I know any movie stars, I’ll kill you.”

“Do you know any movie stars in Cali?” Jordan asks, without missing a beat.

“Okay, that’s it!” Jeff darts forward, surprising Jordan, who actually almost falls down, as Jeff gets the ball from him again.

“Oy! You bastard!”

“Told you I was going to win, bitch!”

“I’ll get you back!”

VII.

The next evening, Jordan randomly shows up in Jeff’s room with a bottle of vodka.

“It’s the good shit,” he says in explanation, holding it up. “This will make you happier.”

Jeff hasn’t gotten alcohol in months--he’s not good enough friends with any of the boys to ask for it, so he lets Jordan in without question. His roommate is out, so they end up pouring shot after shot, start laughing about girls and how stupid Eton is. Jordan starts rambling about his family, and how much being the Crown Prince is actually lame because he can never have any fun and gets called the “royal bad boy” for racing Ferraris with mystery girls, and then his grandmother is not amused, but he would so rather (Jeff starts mocking the way he says “rather” and laughs until tears start pouring down his face) be a bad boy that be a goody two shoes like his brother Byron. Apparently, Byron even wants to be next in line. Jordan says he can have it.

Jeff tells him about California, about hooking up with girls on the beach and how you can totally get some by asking if they need help with their sunscreen. He tells him about his old house, about the palm trees and frozen yogurt stands and how it’s never rainy and California is pretty much fucking paradise. Jordan admits he’s never been (Jeff once again makes fun of his pronunciation of “been,” to which Jordan replies that at least he doesn’t say dude all the time--what is the point of that word anyway?) but going to California and learning “the sunscreen move” would be pretty great, as long as it wasn’t some bullshit “royal visit” and body guards weren’t trailing him everywhere.

Jeff almost mentions Earl Richie and his teddy bears, but catches himself just in time. It’s around then they hear a monitor coming down the hall and force themselves to be quiet, eventually switch to water. Jordan stumbles out an hour later, says “bye wanker” and lightly punches Jeff on the shoulder as he leaves.

VIII.

Later that night, Jeff wakes up gasping. His sheets are sticky too, and he curses himself, trying not to wake up his roommate as he takes care of things. Of course, he’s had these sorts of dreams before, but they normally feature girls.

“Get yourself together,” he mutters, trying to banish the dream, of him shoving Jordan up against a locker room wall. “Come on. You love girls. You’ve written love letters to boobs before...” (He had been drunk when he’d done that, but his friends had thought it was hilarious).

The point is, he can’t stand Jordan. All Jordan did tonight was supply him with free (and delicious) vodka. Sure they might have had some drunken laughs, but he’s still an arrogant bastard.

IX.

They keep playing one on one after practice, have even reached a point where they walk to the locker room together, still insulting each other. Sometimes, Jordan has a flask of vodka, and they take little nips of it, before the evening meal.

Today is just part of the routine.

“...There is no way you will ever be better than me,” Jordan is saying, as they head inside to change. “Face it, bastard. Football is a way of life in England. In California, you’re too distracted by your beaches and your surfboards and your pretty girls.”

“For the last time, bitch. It’s called soccer.”

“You’re skirting around the real issue.”

“Which is?”

“That I’m better than you, and you don’t want to admit it.”

“Who beat you today?”

“Again.” Jordan shoves his shoulder. “That was luck.”

“Lies.” Jeff shoves him back.

“Don’t shove me!”

“You did it first.”

“That was a tap.” Jordan smirks at him, glances around the locker room, and then--

“This is a shove,” he says, grabbing Jeff roughly by the shoulders and pushing him up against the nearest wall, and--

Jeff doesn’t know what comes over him. He blames the adrenaline, maybe the fact that it’s been forever since he’s had any kind of action (save for nights alone, when his roommate is out, which don’t count), but suddenly, he’s grabbing fistfuls of Jordan’s shirt, is kissing him hard on the lips, biting down slightly. He feels Jordan start at first, and then holy shit, Jordan is kissing him back, also grabbing at his shirt, muttering things about how Jeff is a wanker for taking this long to get the hint.

Jeff will analyze all this later. Right now, he’s too focuses on moving down Jordan’s neck. Jordan has him pinned against the wall, so it’s a little hard to do much but--

“Not your turn to kiss me.” Jordan pushes him away. “You can take care of me later.”
He’s also moving down Jeff’s neck, then stops for a moment. Jeff lets out a little gasp.

“Are you kidding me?” He snaps.

He doesn’t care that they’re in the locker room, that anyone else could walk in. All he wants right now is for this to continue.

“Such impatience.” Jordan chuckles slightly, pauses another beat, before slowly starting to kiss him again.

“You’ll pay for this later,” Jeff mutters. Jordan is slowly starting to move downwards now. Jeff arches into him, tries to kiss him again, but Jordan shoves him away again.

“I look forward to it,” he tells him, as he undoes the button on Jeff’s pants.

Jeff’s last thought before he loses it completely (Jordan starts admonishing him for being so loud) is that for the first time in awhile, he doesn’t hate the world.
X.

Later that night, when the high has worn off, Jeff doesn’t feel as confident. He’s confused actually. He, Jeff Schafer, the player of California, has made out with a guy. Done other things with a guy, and enjoyed those things.

He’s so fucking confused.

At that moment, his door opens. Jordan is standing there, bottle of vodka in hand, and wearing his customary smirk.

“Hey there, bastard.” He holds up the bottle. “Drinks and a reprise?”

Jeff stares at him for a moment.

“What’s wrong? Are you evaluating your poor execution of certain techniques and thinking how to improve upon them?”

“No!” Jeff flips him off. “For one thing, I don’t need to improve anything.”

“I told you the first time we met.” Jordan puts the vodka down on a table, starts pouring shots. “You’re good, but not as good as me.”

“You--it’s--that’s not the point!” Jeff sighs, picks up the shot, and downs it. “It’s just...have you ever done that before?”

“Made out with a guy?” Jordan shrugs. “Not as far as we went today, but so? We had fun, didn’t we?”

Jeff is quiet for a moment.

“The pouting obviously indicates yes.”

“I don’t pout.” Jeff pours himself another shot.

“Please. You could win a pouting of the month contest.” Jordan also reaches for a shot. “Look. We’re stranded at Eton. When we can, we go to London, find hot models and whatnot. In the meantime, why can’t we have some fun? You obviously didn’t object in the locker room.”

Fun. Jeff thinks. It had been fun, as much of a bastard as Jordan is. Then, it’s true that there’s not many options at this hellhole, so why not make hell a little bit more interesting?

“Fun.” He echoes.

“Yes exactly.” Jordan smirks. “Now over there is a bed. I suggest we take advantage of it.”

Jeff can’t help but agree. He’s up for a little fun, especially after the past few months. Of course, Jordan is still an arrogant bastard, but he’s now his arrogant bastard, with benefits.

Maybe there’s some good things about England after all.

Coda.

“Hey bitch,” Jeff says to Jordan, as they pass each other on the soccer field.

“Hey wanker,” Jordan replies.

And that was love.