Esteban had never felt more relieved in his life when he looked in the mirror. He was normal sized again, not the tiny toddler he had been for the last couple of weeks.
Somewhere deep down, very well hidden, Esteban kept telling himself, he was slightly disappointed as well. Being a toddler had actually improved his life and career in multiple ways.
Firstly, the pictures that had circulated of a tiny Esteban had given him a lot more publicity. He didn’t particularly care for his publicity, but he understood very well that in sport, especially a media driven sport such as F1, the way the fans saw you was almost just as important as any other quality. And fans had adored tiny Esteban.
Secondly, it had given Esteban the chance to really have some care free time to himself, more or less. Normally, even when he had his time off, he still had many obligations in regards to the team. But while he was small, the only obligation he seemed to have was to smile occasionally and just be adorable, which, according to the reaction Esteban had heard, had sort of come natural for him.
The third thing being tiny had helped him with was his relationship with his teammate. Before Esteban had been a toddler, he barely even spoke to Checo, and if they did, they only fought. But when he was small, Sergio had actually been very kind to him. Thinking back on it, that was probably what had surprised Esteban most. Even though his memories about the whole toddler thing were a little blurred, there was still a lot Esteban did remember.
He remembered Sergio being kind to him, but what had startled him most, had been Sergio promising him to protect him even if he was big again. He wasn’t entirely sure Sergio had actually meant it, or if it was just to comfort him at that time, but Esteban appreciated the gesture nonetheless.
He hadn’t actually spoken to Sergio since becoming normal sized again. His parents had flown in to take care of him after a while, even though Sergio had apparently told them multiple times he was fine with taking care of Esteban as well if that was easier for them, so Sergio wasn’t there when he woke up normal sized again. After that, Esteban was a little embarrassed to admit he had been avoiding Sergio.
Today, however, it would be a little more difficult to avoid his teammate with the big team meeting scheduled in the afternoon.
Esteban felt uneasy going into the meeting room. He had intentionally tried to arrive a bit later, so Sergio wouldn’t have the chance to talk to him, but when he entered the room, he noticed hardly anyone was there yet.
“Meeting is pushed back by an hour.” Sergio called out to him from the other side of the room. Esteban felt himself tense and only nodded in return. Sergio got up and came over to him, surprising Esteban by hugging him briefly.
“Happy to be normal again?” Sergio asked as he pulled away. Esteban nodded and smiled a bit stiffly.
“Yeah, it’s a lot easier.” He answered. Sergio took a step back but still stayed closer than he ever had before. Esteban was unsure how to act now around Sergio and felt a little uncomfortable.
“I… eh… wanted to thank you… for, you know…” Esteban couldn’t seem to find the right words. Sergio smiled and nodded.
“That’s alright, anytime.” He seemed to stress the last word and Esteban blinked in surprise.
“I meant what I said, you know.” Sergio continued, a little more hesitant now. “I will be there for you even if you’re no toddler anymore.”
Esteban stayed quiet and after a while Sergio seemed to think he made a mistake. He stepped away from Esteban, who looked a little flustered as well.
“I… sorry Esteban, I’m sure you don’t need me and…” His words were cut off by Esteban tightly hugging him. Sergio chuckled and hugged back, kissing the side of Esteban’s head. Esteban rested his head against Sergio’s shoulder.