1 New Message(s) from Fabregas:
David stares at his phone. Spends a good five minutes trying to decipher the dots and lines Fabregas just sent him, before he gives up. Who knows how that punk's mind works. Kids these days. He types back,
what dz that mean?
David nearly chucks his phone out the window. By accident. He should probably get his arm checked later. Involuntary twitches can't be a good sign.
Silva is standing in his doorway. David carefully schools his face into nonchalance.
"Hey. What, uh. Is up?"
"Not much." Silva fidgets, looking down at his feet. David wonders if he's worried about the upcoming match. "I was just around. Oh, and Pepe asked me to remind you that we're eating with everyone today."
Right. "Thank you. I'll be down soon."
"Also," Silva says to the floor, "do you think maybe we could get lunch sometime?"
David blinks. They always meet up for lunch, whenever the national team is together and they get a day off. Him and Silva and Pepe, and sometimes Torres and Ramos, too. It's routine by now, and hardly something that needs asking. Or has Silva forgotten?
"Sure," David says anyway. "Just have to check when Pepe's free. How about Saturday?"
Silva looks disappointed. "Actually...maybe some other time. I need to, um. I need to take care of some things first."
"I see," says David, though he doesn't. "Well. Just tell me when."
Silva gives him that sliver-moon of a smile. "Okay," he says. Then, after a pause, "Are you wearing that to dinner?"
"Yes." David looks down at his outfit: print tee, white belt, newest pair of ripped jeans. "Why? You don't like it? It doesn't match?"
"No, you look great! The shirt, I mean. Looks great." Silva clears his throat. "Well. See you at dinner."
The door slams shut. David stares at himself in the mirror.
Twenty minutes and ten different t-shirts later, he's finally heading downstairs—when he remembers the mysterious missive from earlier and stops to check his phone. He has three new messages from Fabregas:
Its a picture of you
With a soul patch see :|-
Pepe narrows his eyes, rubbing his chin thoughtfully as he observes the subjects at hand. "Well," he says, followed by some variations on "hmm" and "mmhmm," before giving his final verdict:
"You have too much faith in Villa," says Fernando. "Two months, minimum."
"I think they're cute," Sergio says helpfully.
"What do you think, Cesc?" asks Pepe. "How much longer ‘til the coupliest non-couple finally goes official?"
Cesc glances across the room. He watches Silva laugh at something Villa said, notes the absurdly pleased look on Villa's face. It's so obvious, it's almost nauseating. Villa's jokes aren't that funny.
Cesc flips open his phone. "Two days," he says.
5 New Message(s) from Fabregas:
Saw you talking to silva at dinner
Your flirtings gettin nowhere you know that right
I can help
Villa answer your phone
Answer or everyone hears the d2 story Pepe has told me Things
David is trying to sleep when his phone goes off yet again. He slams his hand down in the general vicinity of the chirping ringtone. Which he really needs to figure out how to change. Preferably to something lame and horrible to match the devilish name currently lighting up the screen: Fabregas. The real Prince of Darkness might've been less annoyingly persistent than this. He hits the mute button and stuffs the phone under his pillow. Pulls the cover over his head.
The next time Fabregas calls, the vibration buzzes through every thread in the sheets. It's like being electrocuted by cotton.
"What do you want from me, Fabregas?"
"—oh hey, you finally picked up!"
The palm of David's free hand connects with his forehead. "It's the middle of the goddamn night. What is wrong with you?"
"Absolutely nothing, thanks for asking," Fabregas says blithely. "But I know what's wrong with you."
"Your crush on Silva is making you feel confused and helpless because romance is a foreign language to you. Therefore, you need a love coach. Which is where I come in!"
"I do not need unsolicited dating advice from a twelve-year-old!"
A pause. "Aha," says Fabregas with an absolutely unholy amount of glee, "so you do like him!"
David briefly considers smothering himself with a pillow. But that would take at least a few minutes, and he'd still be listening to Fabregas as he expired. David shudders. There are definitely better ways to go.
"—performance, but don't worry, Villa," Fabregas is saying. "I know all about the forbidden art of—"
David hangs up.
His phone buzzes once, twice:
Advice #1 You need to be more emotive with your face
All your expresions are the same shade of bitch
In the morning, David squints into the bathroom mirror. There are circles under his eyes. He frowns. Glares. Tries an intimidating look. A concerned look. A thoughtful look. Studies his reflection as he smooths his facial muscles back to normal and okay, maybe Fabregas has a point.
Sergio leans in. "What's up with Villa today?"
Pepe cranes his head to look across the field where Villa is jogging with Llorente. Behind him, Cesc pushes at his shoulders, protesting that they're supposed to be stretching, not gossipping.
Fernando rolls his eyes as he moves to calf stretches. "Learn to multitask." He squints across the field at the other two strikers. "Did he eat something bad?"
"His face does look funnier than usual," Cesc agrees half-heartedly.
"He keeps grimacing at people," Sergio says.
"It's starting to scare Llorente," Pepe notes.
They exchange a concerned look. Fernando frowns. Then his eyes widen.
"I think," he says slowly, "Villa is trying to smile more."
During lunch break, Cesc keeps his phone open under the table and watches Villa twitch every time a new text sets his pocket abuzz.
Silva is sitting across from Villa, and Cesc can see his face go from bemused to concerned to outright baffled by Villa's ongoing convulsions until finally the striker jumps out of his seat, pausing only to deliver a plausible excuse and a terrifying implausible smile, before stomping off to the sound of plate-clinking silence.
Cesc hits "send" one last time, and listens as a strangled yell echoes from all the way down the hall.
12 New Message(s) from Fabregas:
Advice #2 Show him you care!
Like actually talk to him because your face alone isnt gonna convey your meaning
Allow me to demonstrate why
"hi my name is David Villa its nice to meet you :|-"
"I scored the winning goal in extra time yay :|-"
"I dont get how social media works :|-"
"Dsquared sale this weekend :|-"
"Fabregas you are annoying me :|-"
"Pepe you are my only friend :|-"
"Silva you are the light of my life the sun in my sky the joy of my days :|-"
You see what I mean
Hiding in the bathroom isnt gonna help you know
David thunks his head against the door. Of the bathroom stall. Where he is hiding. He is hiding in a bathroom. Damn Fabregas and his texting and his advice. And damn himself for taking Fabregas' advice, which had done nothing but make Miñano ask him during morning practice if he'd pulled a muscle, which in turn earned him a disappointed look from Xavi who happened to overhear the conversation, which just made David want to set things on fire.
And now he's here. In a bathroom. There is literally no way this day can get any worse.
David is suddenly, absurdly grateful for the years of training focused on developing his balance and reflexes, as it's pretty much the only thing that saves him from falling into the toilet when his knee spasms at the sound of that voice. Maybe he did pull a muscle, he thinks wildly. Maybe he should report to the physio.
But he'd still have to get past the person standing outside first.
"Silva." His voice comes out as a croak.
"Are you okay?" Silva sounds concerned. "You haven't been yourself all day."
"Then why are you hiding in a bathroom stall?"
"I," says David, then realizes he doesn't know where to go from there.
After a silence, Silva sighs, "This is because of last night, isn't it? I can tell. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make things awkward between us."
Last night? "What are you talking about?"
"You can stop pretending," says Silva. "I know when I've been rejected."
The initial shock makes David reach for the lock on the door. Lingering disbelief makes him open it all the way. Silva is still standing there, on the other side, arms folded around himself and looking sad and small.
It takes David a moment to find his voice. "Silva, I didn't—"
"Don't." Silva's voice is sharp. "I know I made a mistake."
"But I don't know that!"
David's heart is pounding for some reason. "I never rejected you. I didn't even know."
Silva stares at him. He frowns. "I asked you out to lunch."
"We always go to lunch!" David swallows a nervous laugh. "I thought you meant you wanted to get lunch with Pepe and everyone else. I didn't realize."
"You didn't realize," Silva echoes.
David feels awkward all of a sudden. He rubs the back of his neck. "I'm pretty bad at this. I mean, Fabregas has been trying to give me advice, but I can't tell if his advice is bad or if I'm just doing everything wrong, like, I was trying to frown less during practice but apparently it just looked like I was in pain and then Xavi—"
Silva has one hand on his arm, a tacit shut up, you idiot, but he's smiling the smile that sends a spasm right through the center of David's chest. David swallows the rest of his run-on sentence.
"You're not bad at this," says Silva. "You just need—"
David's phone chooses that exact moment to start ringing again. Before David can even read what the text says, Silva has snatched the phone from his hands. Silva glances at the screen, then slips it into his pocket, out of sight.
"You need to stop listening to Cesc, for one," he continues. "You were doing fine without him."
Silva's smile turns suddenly shy. "Well, I asked you to lunch, didn't I?"
Right. A thought occurs to David. "Could we try that again, actually? The whole you asking me to lunch thing. Now that I know what you actually meant."
Silva laughs, and his half-moon smile is nothing less than full happiness. "We can try it as many times as you'd like," he says.
2 New Message(s) from Fabregas:
Ready for third and best piece of advice?
He likes you too you dumbass
Cesc is in the middle of winning an argument on Krispy Kreme vs. Tim Hortons when his phone buzzes. He glances down at the screen while Fernando carries on with his dead-end line of reasoning.
"—but the glaze," Fernando insists, then narrows his eyes at Cesc. "What's so funny?"
Cesc doesn't even bother trying to hide his grin. He holds out his phone to show Fernando the two texts from D.Villa:
Thanks for the advice Cesc, but you can stop now. Don't want to hear any ringing on our date tomorrow.
Remember, I know where you sleep :)
Bonus Outtake: On the plane...
Villa is asleep, neck bent and head propped against the window at a ninety-degree angle. Unlike Albiol, who tends to nod off with his mouth open, and Xavi, who re-enacts entire football games on his face, Villa just...closes his eyes. If not for that small detail, he might as well have been awake.
Fernando, Sergio, and Pepe are crammed into the empty row of seats in front of Villa, peering over the backrests at his sleeping face. A bit of turbulence rocks the plane. Villa stirs—Pepe sucks in a sharp breath—but doesn't wake. They let out a collective sigh.
Fernando looks down at the phone in his hands again. Looks back up.
"Mother of God," he breathes. "Cesc was right."
The awe in his voice is apparent. Beside him, Sergio and Pepe nod in unison.
Silva pops his head in beside Pepe's. "I thought you're not supposed to use your phone wh—"
"Shhhh!" Fernando claps a hand over Silva's mouth, nearly taking Pepe's eye out in the process. He raises one finger to his lips. His eyes are stern. "Don't wake him. We may never get another opportunity like this."
Silva pushes Fernando's hand away. "Another opportunity for what?"
Pepe snatches the phone from Fernando and passes it to Silva, pointing at the text currently displayed on the screen. It's from Cesc. Silva frowns at the punctuation marks.
"I don't understand."
"It's a perfect picture of Villa," Fernando hisses. He tugs on Silva's hand until the phone is adjacent to Villa's face in his line of vision. "Look."
Silva blinks. Then his eyes widen as he finally sees it: