It was all Geri's fault.
That was Leo's first thought when he found himself alone at Manchester City's parking lot, blinking dumbly at the place where the bus used to be. Where the bus that was supposed to take him and the team to the airport, and then back to Spain, used to be.
Leo blinked again, and started looking around, maybe it was a prank? The bus wouldn´t really leave without him, right? He didn´t think he was that important, but he´d like to think at least someone would have noticed his absence. Or he at least expected Geri to notice, since he had been the one who had asked Leo to go check the locker room for his wallet (which he hadn´t found).
He waited for a few minutes, wishing Geri would just pop up and tell him it was all a joke, and when nothing happened, Leo started panicking. He went to pull out his phone, when he remembered he had given it to Luis to make a call, and then had forgotten to ask for it, because of course he had.
The Barcelona player let out a weary sigh, before deciding to walk back inside the stadium, the last thing he needed was for the media to catch on to what was happening and create a fuss, or for the fans to get ahold of him. He went in the direction of the pitch, because it was the only place he knew the way to, other than the locker room.
He wasn´t expecting to find someone else on the pitch, and it didn´t take him too long to recognize the other player as Leroy Sané, one of Manchester City star players. Leo stayed in the tunnel, watching as the younger man kicked ball after ball into the goal, every ball hitting the net with impressive accuracy, and yet Leroy didn´t appear to be satisfied, a frown on his face as he went to collect the balls and place them in front of the goal again, this time missing a couple shots and growing more frustrated.
Leo wasn´t surprised, he got the same way when he felt he hadn´t had a good game, and he recognized Leroy´s actions for what they were, a way to get rid of the anger he had. Anger that was most likely directed at himself. The Argentinian frowned, the guy was probably exhausted after the game, and if he kept practicing like that he could easily get injured.
Hesitating a little, Leo walked into the pitch, just as the 22-year-old kicked another ball, sending it crashing into the left post and right into Leo´s waiting arms. The Manchester City player froze, staring at Leo open-mouthed, and Leo smiled at him, trying not to seem too awkward.
“You shouldn´t be doing that.” Leo winced at the unintentional harshness of his own words, he cleared his throat and tried again, pronouncing the words slowly so the kid could understand him in his broken english, “I mean, you should rest, if you strain yourself you could get injured.”
The other player just stared at him, opening and closing his mouth a couple of times in shock.
Leo smiled at him, a real smile this time, something about Leroy Sané reminded Leo of Neymar, back when the Brazilian had been new to Barcelona and all he would do was gape at Leo instead of talking to him.
Feeling much more at ease, Leo got closer to Leroy and handed him the ball.
“You had a good game today, you just missed a shot, it happens to everyone, trust me.”
Leroy just stared at him some more -- for so long that Leo started to wonder if his english was really that bad-- before finally smiling shyly, his cheeks turning pink.
“Thank you. It means a lot.” They stood there, smiling at each other, until Leroy frowned again, staring at Leo in confusion. “Wasn´t your bus leaving immediately after the game? Kun was complaining about not being able to catch up, or something.”
Now it was Leo´s turn to blush, grinning sheepishly at the City player.
“Yeah, we were supposed to leave immediately after, but the bus kind of... uh... left? Without me?”
Leroy stared at him again, probably trying to determine if it was a joke, and when Leo stared back at him, the player´s eyes widened.
“They... left? Are you going back alone?”
Leo shrugged at him, biting his bottom lip in discomfort.
“I would, but I don’t have my wallet, or my phone, or anything really, all my things are in the bus.”
The German frowned, looking in the direction of the tunnel with a thoughtful look.
“I could… get Kun?”
The suggestion took Leo by surprise, and he mentally face-palmed, how could he have forgotten Kun? A wave of relief hit him then, his friend would help him no matter what, and he would be discreet if Leo asked him to.
Leroy must have seen the relief in Leo´s face, because he started directing Leo towards the locker room, pausing in the way to look around and make sure no one would see them, or rather no one would see Leo, probably understanding the mess they would have to deal with if word got out that Lionel Messi was roaming Etihad stadium with a Manchester City player. The Argentinian smiled at the kid in thanks, feeling incredibly grateful for his help.
When they were about to enter the room, Leroy turned to him, a troubled expression on his face.
“Everyone´s in here, they´ll see you. If you want I can bring Kun here?”
Leo stopped to think; Kun had never said anything but good things about his teammates, just like Zaba and Ota, plus they all seemed at ease with them, so Leo could probably trust them. He finally shook his head, signaling his companion to go ahead.
As soon as they both entered, all eyes were on Leo, who once again tried not to show his discomfort at all the attention, and he followed Leroy through the locker room, avoiding eye contact as much as he could, but keeping his head up. The room was silent, not a sound could be heard but that of his and Leroy´s footsteps, and Leo sighed in relief when he finally heard Kun´s voice, singing along to a Maluma song under his breath.
His friend´s voice cut off mid-song once he noticed Leo standing in front of him, and a wide grin appeared instead, immediately making Leo relax.
“Leo! What are you doing here? You said you were leaving after the game.” The last bit sounded like an accusation, and Leo could only sigh in exasperation, both at the accusation and at the question, feeling too embarrassed to explain his presence when there were so many people listening.
Leroy, however, felt no such thing, and he immediately started explaining everything to Kun, much to the culé´s horror.
“The bus left without him! And he doesn´t have anything because he left his bag in the bus, and if the press finds out he could get in trouble, or his team could get in trouble, or our team could, and i found him in the pitch, or well, he found me, and we didn´t know what to do, and—“ Kun was looking at Leroy like he´d gone crazy, actually, the whole team was staring at him in the same way, and Leo felt bad enough for the kid to place a hand on his shoulder, effectively making him shut up.
Kun appeared to be speechless, a rare occurrence, but today had been full of rare occurrences, so Leo wasn´t too surprised. He was surprised, however, when his friend bursted into peals of laughter, having to hold onto the bench to not fall over. Leo stared at him, unimpressed, and kicked him in the shin when the laughter didn´t stop. Kun heaved a few breaths, and when he looked up at Leo, he had tears in his eyes, which just made Leo kick him harder.
“Are you done?” The Barcelona player couldn’t keep the irritation out of his voice, he was anxious and embarrassed, and his friend laughing at his situation wasn´t helping.
“I´m sorry, I just… wow, that´s… You gotta admit it´s kind of funny,” His friend looked the opposite of sorry, but he was smiling at Leo with that familiar dorky smile that always made Leo´s heart beat faster, and as much as he tried to keep frowning at his friend, he could feel the corners of his mouth twisting up.
Just then, Pep Guardiola -- as in Manchester City´s coach, and FC Barcelona´s former coach--, entered the locker room, frowning at the players in confusion when no one acknowledged him, and following everyone´s gazes until he spotted Leo, who could only give him a sheepish grin.
Immediately, Pep turned to Kun and gave him a disapproving glare, “What did you do?”
Kun gaped at him, giving him the most offended look Leo had ever seen, but didn’t have a chance to defend himself, as Pep kept talking.
“Actually, it doesn´t matter. What happened?”
Leroy, who had been quiet since his outburst, started explaining once more, this time a little more composed, “I found Leo on the pitch, and he says his bus left without him, and he didn´t have a way to contact them, so I—“
“Wait, the bus left? Without you?” For the first time in the conversation, the coach addressed him, and Leo straightened up unconsciously, nodding.
“If we get you to the airport now, is there a chance you can still catch the flight?”
Leo shook his head with a grimace, he knew the flight was scheduled to take off as soon as the team arrived at the airport, and he also knew it was unlikely his teammates would notice his absence at the airport, not when everyone was exhausted after the game, and certainly not with the screaming fans and press. He mentally cursed at Geri for getting him in this mess in the first place.
Pep cursed, bringing a hand up to rub his forehead, but quickly looked at Leo again, speaking with urgency, “Who knows you´re still here?”
The question took Leo by surprise, but he answered quickly, “Only the people in this room,”
The coach let out a sigh of relief, and looked around at his players, “No one says a word about this, am I clear?” He used his “coach voice”, as Geri used to call it, and all the players simultaneously nodded.
“All right, come with me.” Leo´s former coach ordered, turning around and walking out of the room. After slight hesitation, Leo followed him, giving Kun and Leroy a look.
As soon as he exited the room, Pep´s whole demeanor changed, he smiled at Leo, fondness shining in his eyes, and Leo smiled back, accepting the hug from his former mentor. It had been a while since they had seen each other, and even longer since they´d had the opportunity to talk.
“Sorry about that back there, I had to make it seem like it was very serious, otherwise they would probably start asking for pictures or something,” The older man rolled his eyes, but his voice was fond, “I´ll contact your team personally, and try to work something out, alright? Don´t worry too much.”
Leo sighed in relief, apparently the other man still had the ability to calm him down with a few words.
“Thank you, Pep, really.”
The man smiled at him, and put his arm around Leo´s shoulders, just like he used to do.
“At least we get to catch up, huh?”
Just as Leo was about to answer, there was the sound of a door slamming open, and Kun appeared at the end of the hall, rushing to meet them.
“Sorry, I was getting dressed. So, what´s the plan?”
Pep sighed in exasperation, and Leo merely smiled at his friend, he had a feeling it was all going to be okay after all.