Chapter 1: Chapter 1
It's 1:00 am, and Leo still hasn't managed to fall asleep.
He keeps thinking of home, the familiar cracked yellow walls of his room, and the football posters that hang up in various states of age.
His new room is nothing like that. It's painted turquoise green and it smells of fruits and various spices, which makes sense, considering it's practically in a fucking grocery store.
Honestly, he doesn't know what his parents were thinking when they decided to send him to stay with his abuela in a small town for two months, while they tried to stabilise their job situation in a whole different continent.
He loves his abuela, he does, really, but she's even poorer than they are, which is why he's sleeping in a tiny closet of a room right next to the small store area. It's basically a shack.
God, he sounds so spoilt and whiny right now. He's not usually like this, it's just that he's not going to be able to see his parents and siblings for possibly more than two months, and he's only really just realised it now.
He somehow manages to fall asleep sometime around 2:00.
It's about 7:00 in the morning now, and the store only opens at 8:00 (he thinks?), so he's decided to set up everything, as a favour to his abuela, for taking him in.
There's an old fashioned radio on the counter, so Leo turns it on, because he still feels half asleep, needs something to get him going (and there's sure as hell no coffee around here).
It takes a while to get it working, but it's worth it, because once it does, it starts playing some cumbia music, which is practically all Leo listens to.
And, okay, normally he's not a dancer, he would rather die than dance in public, but there's something about the music that requires one to get up and move. So he does.
(He doesn't know what the fuck he looks like doing this, but it feels pretty great, so)
It takes him a while to notice that the radio isn't the only source of noise now.
He hears snickers and hooting laughter and he turns around in dread, because it can't be that one of the rare times he does this, is when he's seen, it can't be.
It's not even one or two people standing next to the counter, outside the shop, it's a whole group of boys, roughly his age, all jeering and making teasing comments.
Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit
They pause, briefly, when he turns around and stops.
They're all staring at him smugly, and then, one of them with a ridiculous haircut and pretty green eyes opens his mouth,
"No, why'd you stop, man, keep going, we're really enjoying it!"
This, of course, only starts up the laughter again.
Fuck, what does he do now?
He could've stayed and made it into a joke, laughed at himself, that at least would've made it a bit more bearable, but that thought doesn't occur to him.
He turns around, and runs, only to run right smack into his abuela, who is rubbing her eyes sleepily.
"Ah, Leo, what are you doing, always running about? Can't you see there are customers, you are supposed to serve them, instead you are running like a little boy!"
Leo is mortified, because, of course the guys hear the conversation too, and they start cackling even harder now.
"No- no, abuela, I can't right now, I, I gotta go, please."
"What's the matter, are you going to pee your pants like you used to when you were little?! Your mother told me you didn't do that anymore!"
Leo's eyes widen. "Wha- no! I-"
"Ai, cariño, you can tell me, I am not angry if you have ah, little, accident, I not mind."
"Aarrgghh, no, I just- I got to go."
He pushes past, leaving her behind in the doorway, confused.
He gets to his room and shuts the door, then leans against the wall.
Fuck, fuck, fuck. What a great first impression.
He doesn't know how long he stays like that for, until his abuela calls him.
"Yes? What is it?"
"Leo, I need to get something from the back, you come and stay out front, until I come back."
"Are- are those guys still there?"
After a moment of preparing himself, he makes his way to the front, to the counter.
He leans against it and shuts his eyes briefly, trying to process the situation.
Mierda! Why the fuck did I do that. What am I gonna do now, when I see them around, do I just play it off cool or do I-
He suddenly becomes of a slight coughing noise outside.
Another customer. Don't fuck it up this time.
He opens his eyes, only to be faced with the- the same sparkling green eyes from before. One of the guys who'd seen him before.
The boy has a wicked half smile playing on his face.
"What do you want?!"
"Whoa, man, I just came to pick up some vegetables, chill."
Leo realises how hostile he must've sounded and tries to sound more neutral this time. He also notices that the boy's accent is different to the one that he and his abuela have- it's not spanish, it's more melodic and softer than that, but he can't quite place his finger on it.
"Oh- ah, ok. Uh, go ahead then."
There's an awkward silence for a moment while the kid (kid? He doesn't look that much younger than Leo himself) picks out the things he needs.
Leo takes the opportunity to study him.
Although the other boy's tanned brown arms are covered in tattoos, which is something Leo usually associates with, well, maturity, there's something about his smile and eyes that screams youth and a childlike sense of innocence. He's lean and delicately built, as well, which contributes even more to the young look.
Also, Leo can't help but let out a small snort at the Mohawk the boy possesses.
The other boy looks up at the noise.
"So.... You gonna join dance classes for those sick moves of yours? I mean, that's wasted talent ther-",
He breaks off into chortles at this, eyes crinkling up and revealing pointy white teeth.
Leo glowers at him. He supposes the kid thinks he's funny or something.
"If you're done, please let me weigh and then you can pay." he says icily.
The boy stops snickering and straightens up, gazing at Leo half curiously and half mirthfully.
"Hey, you new around here?"
"What year you in?"
He doesn't bother asking the boy what year he's in.
Leo ignores him and weighs the vegetables on the scale.
The kid pays up and takes the bag from the counter, turning to go.
"Oh- by the way- you know I recorded you before, right?"
Leo freezes. "Wha-what?"
The boy gives him a wide grin (rather reminiscent of a Cheshire cats', actually), and walks away down the road.
Jesus fucking Christ. Why did that kid have to be there at that moment? No, fuck, why did he even happen to live in the same town?
His thoughts are interrupted when his abuela walks in with a crateful of apples.
"Any customers come?"
"Ah- yes. Abuela, do you know a kid who comes here, he has like, a Mohawk and Uh, green eyes and-"
He's cut off by the sound of laughter from her.
"Oh, you mean Neymar? Yes, I know him. Why, he bother you?"
So that's his name. Neymar.
Leo hesitates. "Um. Yes?"
She chuckles slightly. "Do not mind him, he is always playing around. I know him very well, he very funny, no?"
Leo just stares at her.
Neymar. Fucking Neymar. He would find this Neymar, and- and- well, he'd ask him what the fuck he was thinking.
So, Leo doesn't see Neymar again for a few days. (Which is good, really, because he doesn't quite know what he'd say if Neymar brought up the topic of his dancing again)
Anyway, he's been here for about a week now, and it's quite quaint, this town, with its bright painted little homes and narrow streets crowded with market stalls.
He's walking back to the store from the local library (he might be missing school for a while, but that doesn't mean he's allowed to slack off.)
It's pretty chilly, and Leo grabs his football out his backpack, it's always there, in case he gets bored or something, and dribbles it gently down the street as he walks.
It's peaceful and calm, but it gives him too much time to think about what his friends would be doing back home, and his girlfriend, Antonella, who hasn't called or texted him since he arrived here.
He's lost quite deep in thought and memories when he turns the corner and hears noises up ahead.
He looks up and- oh fuck, great. It's that lot again
They're all pushing each other around and joking about something, but he's sure that once he walks past, their attention will be focused completely on him.
He considers turning back and going a different way- but, no, he's hesitated too long now, and a couple of them seem to have noticed him.
Ah shit. Why do Neymar and his friends have to be everywhere at the worst times?
He's pretty close to them now, and they're all jeering at him, with Neymar standing in the middle of the group. (the group? What does he call them, Neymar and co, or something?)
"Show us your moves again, eh?"
"Come on, don't be shy!"
Of course, he ignores them, walks past, head slightly down, until he sees a tall dude with twinkling blue eyes step forward in an attempt to tackle the ball from Leo's feet.
Leo sees it coming a mile away, of course, he's done this millions of times before, sidestepped or feinted past big heavy defenders, so he neatly touches the ball through the guy's long legs, collecting it on the other side and continuing.
There's a split second of silence and then the whole group erupts into laughter and shouting.
Leo can just imagine the mortification that must be on the guy's face after being nutmegged.
"Shit Geri, he just wrecked you, man!"
Leo continues dribbling calmly, but when he turns around with a slight smile on his face, the first thing he sees is Neymar with his head tilted to the side, surveying Leo with newfound interest.
When he gets home- (It doesn't quite feel right, calling it home)
Anyway, when he gets home, he dumps his bag on the small mattress in his room and makes his way back out to the main part of the place, only to see Neymar, sitting on one of the chairs tasting various sweets from the displaying cabinet.
Leo stops dead in his tracks.
"I- what- you-," he splutters, "what- what are you doing here??! Get out, the shop's closed!"
Neymar smiles deviously. "I've got special permission. Don't you know I'm a VIP?"
"What? No you're not, you can't just fucking waltz in here and start eating the sweets like that!"
"Ai, Leo, what is all the noise?"
Leo spins around to face his abuela. "He's in here after hours, that's what!"
She walks over to Neymar and places a hand protectively on his head.
"Leave the poor boy alone, he only come here for rest!"
Neymar widens his eyes innocently and nods. "I mean, I just thought I'd drop by and say hi, but if you really don't want me here- then, well- I suppose I'll have to go."
Leo's grandmother puts her hands firmly on Neymar's slim shoulders and sits him down again, glaring at Leo.
"No, no, you stay. Leo, see what you did to the poor boy. He sad now."
Leo sits down on another chair defeatedly.
I can't believe this little shit, playing innocent.
Abuela pats Neymar's cheek fondly. "You stay here, I bring you more, okay?"
With that, she leaves Neymar and Leo alone in the room.
Leo stares resolutely up at the ceiling, determined not to look at Neymar, who he's sure is staring at him now.
After a bit, Leo takes a chance and angles his head just slightly so he can see what Neymar's doing.
Jesus Christ, he's still staring at Leo.
Now he's finished the brownie he was eating and is sucking the remaining crumbs from his fingers, all the while gazing at Leo from underneath his rather long eyelashes.
What? What is that supposed to mean, some kind of sexual innuendo or something? God, this kid was weirder than he thought.
Leo really wishes he hadn't seen or thought that, because it's making his pale cheeks go rather red. He purposefully diverts his gaze back to somewhere safer, like the wall.
After a while, Neymar almost whispers, "Hey."
Leo pretends he didn't hear.
"Leo, is it? Hey, you play football, man?"
At this point, Leo really can't pretend that he can't hear, so he moves his head to face Neymar with a slight sigh.
"Yes. Yes I do."
Neymar grins. "Oh cool!"
He keeps grinning for a bit, but then it falters when Leo doesn't say anything more.
"Are- aren't you gonna ask me if I play?"
Leo exhales heavily. "Do you play?"
That obnoxious grin is back on the other boy's face when he answers. "Yeah, we play matches every Sunday! You should come along and join on the weekend, man, it'll be fun."
Leo pales even further at the prospect of spending more time with Neymar and his idiot friends. "Ahh- well- you know, I would, but- Uh, I'm really not very good, so, uh, yeah, I'll pass, thanks.", he lies quickly.
"Nah, it's cool. We don't judge. I mean, you play with us, we could teach you how to play for real, dude!"
Okay, that, that, annoys Leo, the fact that this kid thinks he could teach Leo a few things about football.
"No, I don't need your help!" he snaps.
Neymar looks taken aback, and he looks so lost and shocked, with his big green eyes, like a seal, that Leo feels guilty for a second.
Only for a second, though.
"That time of month for you, bro?" he recovers with a smirk.
He opens his mouth to retort, but just then, his abuela walks into the room with a bag full of what appears to be baked treats.
Neymar gets up from the seat. "Ah thanks so much. I gotta go, it's getting pretty late."
She embraces Neymar in a hug. "Okay, walk home safe. You come visit my grandson soon, eh? He very lonely here by himself, good to have friend to play with."
Neymar shoots Leo a wicked grin. "Oh, I will, definitely."
Leo nearly dies.
He has to pretend to be nice until Neymar finally gets out, and then he slumps against the wall.
It's then that he realises that his stay is going to be really awkward.
Hope you enjoyed!
I know it's really light hearted now, but I promise it'll get more serious in about chapters 5/6.:)
Leo's been in this town for a while now, and he's starting to think that it's maybe not all that bad, he's even gotten to know a few more people, and they all seem pretty nice (except for this one girl who seems to have a major crush on him and has started following him everywhere recently).
Right now he's lying on the bed reading a book, which is slightly boring, but he knows that if he looks like he doesn't have anything to do, his abuela will just give him a list of chores to keep him busy.
Just about then, he hears the door creak open.
"Leo, get up, we going now."
"Going? Going where?"
"You know, we walk to football pitch, watch team play."
"What? Wait, you mean watch the local team play their match?"
He snorts and settles back down. "Like I don't have anything better to do than watch them."
"No, is very nice, I watch them every Sunday. Come on, you need to go out more, you starting to look like that one from Harry Potter, what's his name?"
Leo sighs. "No, I'll stay."
She makes a tutting noise. "You only don't want come because they better than you, you are embarrassed."
"I bet they're not better than me."
"Well, come and see then, I think they are."
He stews it over in his mind for a moment. He has a feeling this is a ploy on his abuela's behalf to persuade him to come, but on the other hand, he can't it slide that she said Neymar and his group play better than him.
"Fine. I will then."
She smiles and gives him a knowing look before leaving the room.
A few minutes later, he's dressed in one of his usual drapey polo shirts and a pair of old football shorts.
He's still annoyed at the fact that he was coerced so easily, but he still slightly looks forward to the prospect of watching football, even if it's simply a local match.
When they arrive, however, the crowd surrounding the dirt field is larger than he presumed.
This many spectators for a local match? Odd.
They somehow manage to shove their way into an area where they can at least decently view the match, and Leo waits with unexpected eagerness.
After a couple of seconds, he catches sight of a group of teenage to young adult boys huddled at the sideline. The first person he recognises is the tall kid who had tried to tackle the ball from him that day in the street.
He glimpses a flash of yellow in his peripheral vision, and turns his head slightly to see the referee walk on to the 'pitch'.
As he cranes his neck to see what's happening, he notices that there seems to be confusion among Neymar's team.
He taps his abuela on the shoulder. "What're they doing? The other team's ready, why aren't they on the pitch?"
She squints. "No, I don't know. Oh- they not have enough players- one down."
He catches a glimpse of Neymar standing amongst the others, possibly the shortest one in the group.
Suddenly, Neymar turns his head to look at the crowd, looking thoughtful. His eyes sweep past Leo- then flick back just as quickly, widening in almost shock.
Feeling awkward at this unwanted eye contact, Leo subtly diverts his line of sight, pretending to be gazing at the air above Neymar.
He's still monitoring Neymar's actions though, so he's confused when Neymar yells something excitedly at his teammates, nudging them and pointing at Leo.
Within the space of a few seconds, all of Neymar's teammates are staring at Leo- along with the rest of the crowd.
He instinctively attempts to move behind abuela, cheeks flooded with red.
"What- what're they doing?" He mumbles.
"Oh, they want you to play! Go, go!"
"W-what?" He stutters, peeking out slightly.
On the makeshift pitch, Neymar and a couple of others are gesturing and beckoning wildly.
Seriously? When would Neymar stop being such a little shit that always got him into uncomfortable situations?
"Yes, you wanted to show how good you are, eh? Quick, go!"
"No- no way! Don't I have to be registered with the club to play, anyway?"
She furrows her brows in confusion. "What? No, no, they need one player more, go!" She says forcefully, gently shoving him in the direction of the pitch.
He glances around him, and becomes conscious of the fact that many others are also enthusiastically encouraging and nodding for him to play.
He sighs. Ah well. He'd never been one to turn down a match, anyway.
For a second, as he walks onto the pitch, he feels fleetingly like he's being subbed in for a World Cup Final, like the flickering street lights around the pitch are actually stadium lights, and like the crowd is wearing sky blue and white.
Then he blinks, and snorts at his own idiocy.
He becomes aware of Neymar jogging up to him with a beaming grin written all over his face.
"Didn't think you would come, but you couldn't resist seeing me again, could you?"
Leo splutters and wonders why this stupid boy always manages to rob him of his rather good comebacks.
"No. I- I just was bored. And I just- you know- thought I may as well come."
A guy with rather intense looking eyes and a terrible haircut comes up to them.
"You're Lionel, right?"
"Okay, great, I'm Cesc, you'll be defender with Geri, yeah?"
"Oka- wait, defender?"
Cesc stares at him. "Yeah. Why, don't you know how to play?" He asks, frowning slightly.
Leo stomach sinks slightly. "Oh- yeah, yeah I do, nevermind. Yeah, that's cool."
"Alright, off you go then, try to let Geri tackle the big ones."
"The one standing over there that looks like a giraffe."
Cesc begins to run back, then turns his head slightly.
"Oh, and Lionel?"
He grins wickedly. "Try not to get sidetracked with dancing, okay?"
Leo stares after him, and shakes his head.
Neymar snickers from besides him.
"I dunno, you're kinda little to be a defender..."
Leo glowers at him and curtly turns away.
"Just kidding. Good luck, man." He says as he jogs past, lightly slapping Leo's stomach with his hand.
For most of the match, Leo is sedentary and doesn't touch the ball, mainly due to Geri swooping in all the time and taking care of the situation whilst glaring at Leo.
Leo thinks that perhaps he still hasn't forgiven him for the nutmeg incident.
Then, somewhere near the end of the match (it's 2-0 to their opposition), there's a tall, well built striker rushing straight at Leo. He expects Geri to come in from somewhere and slide tackle the guy, but then he notices with slight horror that Geri is situated far too up field to have any chance of getting even close.
So he doesn't think. He just wings it. As the guy makes to side foot the ball past him, he neatly taps it out of the striker's reach.
The ball is practically at his feet now. He has at least three people he could pass it to now, but he doesn't think about that (he barely ever actually thinks in football, anyway- mostly, he relies on instinct).
And it seems that instinct was the right choice, because it carries him past five (or six?) opposition players, so easy, like plastic cones, and it takes the ball to the back of the net, bottom right corner.
Suddenly, after a moment of silence, there's cheering and whistles from the crowd, and he turns to see Neymar standing in shock, green eyes wide open.
The other boy holds out both his hands for a high five, so Leo indulges him, only for Neymar to pull him into a tight hug afterwards, squeezing him so tight Leo has difficulty breathing.
Oh. That was unexpected. And.. Nice.
Neymar releases his waist, to grab his face with both of his hands. He smiles joyfully, a wide, pointy toothed smile full of mirth.
"Dude, you never told me you could play that good!"
Leo just grins foolishly, and thinks that Neymar's long tan fingers on his face feels far too intimate for a football match in front of a crowd of people.
He's not left alone with his thoughts for long, however, because a split second after, the others begin to attach themselves to Leo too, ruffling his hair and congratulating him. Even
giraffe Geri joins in, giving Leo a grudging smile.
Eventually, they realise that they're still losing and that there's only 7 minutes left.
They disperse, and Leo is still defender, but Cesc whispers to him that he can move forward if he feels like it.
The rest of the match is gold, with Leo assisting Neymar to score the equaliser and Cesc tapping in the ball in the last minute for 3-2 victory. After the final whistle blows, they crowd in again in a tight, sweaty muddle, and a pale, shy looking guy with almost black hair comes up to Leo and tells him that this is the first match they've won this season.
Later, when most of the crowd disperses, and the rest of the guys are getting their things and heading home, Neymar and an another dude who was on the team saunter up to him.
Leo notices that the other guy is (objectively) attractive, with black hair and tanned skin over lean muscles and an angelic smile. He feels the need to instantly like him.
"Hey, I'm Rafinha, you did pretty good out there today, man. You play for a club back home?"
He scratches the back of his neck awkwardly. "Oh, yeah, I pla-"
Neymar interrupts. "Yeah, duh. You know what this means, right?"
Leo stares at him blankly. "What?"
"You gotta play with us in matches every Sunday, you're like part of the team now, man!"
Rafinha rolls his eyes. "It's alright, Leo, you don't have to play with us if you don't wanna, don't listen to this moron- it'd be pretty great if you could, though."
Leo finds himself almost hypnotised by Rafinha's smile. "Ah- what? No, of course. I'll play..."
He grins. "Look forward to seeing you next time then." With that, he begins to walk away, after shoulder bumping Neymar on the way.
Leo realises that it's just Neymar and him standing on the pitch now, although there are still a few people around the edges.
Leo tries to think of something to say, so as not to make it awkward. Neymar is still staring off into the distance, appearing to be in thought.
"Um- good job in the match." He manages to get out.
Neymar starts, as if he just realised Leo is still there. "Huh? Oh thanks man, you weren't too bad either- you know, for a newbie."
Neymar snickers and looks like he's about to say something else, then his eyes fall on something behind Leo. He grins.
"Old lady! You here to take him home?" He asks, nodding his head towards Leo.
Leo's abuela smiles at Neymar indulgently.
"No, Neymar, I have to walk and pick up new supply fruits, you walk him home?"
Leo's eyes widen. "Walk me home? How old am I?"
Neymar beams. "Yeah, 'course! I'll take him home, don't worry." He lets his gaze fall to Leo, and grins slyly.
"Ah you always so helpful cariño! Leo, don't be stubborn. I am not letting you walk alone, in the dark, think of what could happen, you-"
He sighs. "Yeah, alright, fine then."
Leo's abuela tells them to be careful about twenty times more and finally leaves the pitch, leaving Neymar and Leo alone in the place.
Neymar picks up his bag, hooking it over one shoulder. "Right! You ready to go, then?"
Leo rolls his eyes. "You don't actually think you're coming with me, do you? I can get home by myself, thanks."
Neymar's eyes widen. "No way, dude! You can't do that shit, I gotta come, I told the old lady I would, didn't I?"
"She'll never know, come on, just go."
Neymar shakes his head firmly and grabs Leo's arm tightly, pulling him along.
Great, Leo thinks, now I'm gonna be stuck with this moron alone for half an hour.
As they trudge along the streets, Neymar steadily maintains a (mostly one sided) conversation.
"Hey, you think you can get me some of them dulce de leche things when you get home?"
"You know, the ones that are like brownies."
Leo snorts. "No. Is that why you're so keen to walk me there?"
Neymar looks slightly hurt. "Why would you think that? Here I am, trying to be nice and make sure you're-"
"Yeah, yeah, shut the fuck up."
Suddenly, Neymar freezes in the middle of his sentence. Leo follows his line of sight, to glimpse a figure standing on the other side of the road, leaning against the lamplight, appearing to be talking on the phone, not seeming to have noticed them yet. He glances back at Neymar, and is slightly alarmed to see that he's still frozen in shock.
"What's up, you look like you've seen-"
Neymar immediately claps a hand over his mouth and half drags him behind a large trash can in an alleyway. Leo wrenches his hand off, confused.
"What the fuck are you doing?"
Neymar shakes his head frantically and motions for him to be quiet, keeping his eyes on the other guy. Something tells Leo he should probably comply.
After what is probably a few minutes, but seems like an eternity with Neymar's sharp elbows digging into his shoulders and his breathing down Leo's neck, the other man on the side of the road seems to end his phone call and he continues walking back the way they came from.
Leo feels Neymar physically relax and hears him sigh of relief.
"Alright, we can keep going now. Get up."
Leo stands, brushing off his clothes. "That's it? You're not going to tell me why you suddenly just freaked and hid from that random dude?"
Neymar blinks. "Nope."
"What?! You have to, you can't just drag me into this."
Neymar makes a sound of annoyance and scratches the back of his neck awkwardly.
"No, it's just- uh- me and that guy don't have- um, a good history. We're enemies, I guess?"
"Right." Leo knows full well that that answer's full of shit, but he doesn't probe any further, mainly due to him being too tired to.
They continue walking, but Neymar looks uneasy and doesn't say anything.
He tries to think of a topic to break the sudden silence that's sprung up.
"So... You watch football as well?"
Neymar smiles. "Yeah, all the time, man."
"Who's your team?"
Leo's rifles through his mind, trying to recall whether he's heard of a club called Santos.
"Um- is that European, or-"
Neymar looks offended. "You don't know Santos? Of course it's not European. 'S Brazilian."
"Ah. I don't really watch all that much to be honest, I just play."
Neymar beams proudly. "Best club in the world."
Leo doubts that that's true, but he's not one to insult people's football teams, so he lets it slide.
"So you're Brazilian, then?"
"I'm from Argentina."
Neymar smirks. "Yeah I know."
Leo starts. "What? How?"
"Dude, I've known your grandma for like, 9 years now. Also, it's pretty easy to tell by your accent."
Neymar glances at him coyly. "You know we're better than you, right?"
"You know, in football- we dominate."
Leo scoffs. "Yeah, sure. You forgotten the Beijing Olympics? 3-0?"
"Five World Cups, man. How many do you have, again?"
"You know you're really fucking annoying, right?"
Neymar leers at him. "They all gonna hate you if you speak the truth, no way to avoid that."
They argue back and forth, only pausing once when Neymar's hand accidentally brushes against Leo's- there's an awkward silence for a moment (Leo even considers saying 'No homo', then scoffs inwardly)- and Neymar breaks the ice by bringing up another example of why Brazil is superior to Argentina.
They almost head straight past the store/Leo's temporary home, then Leo notices the familiar faded red lettering on the green walls and catches Neymar's jersey, pulling him back.
"We're here, you nearly went past it, idiot."
Neymar looks, for a second, almost resentful, like he's disappointed that they've arrived already- then his usual bright eyed look appears again.
"Alright. See you later, then!"
Leo stands there awkwardly, then realises that Neymar is waiting for him to go inside before leaving.
Leo feels something akin to sorry for him then, because he looks slightly exhausted, standing outside in the frigid breeze. It's beginning to drizzle gently.
He doesn't know whether to thank him or-
"Uh- you can come in- I can get you one of those brownies- if you want, I mean." He manages to stutter out.
Neymar's eyes light up. "Really?"
He looks hopeful for a second, then his face drops like he just remembered something.
"Ah, actually, I should probably get going- thanks, though."
Impulsively, Leo shouts after him. "Wait! One second."
Neymar turns back, surprised.
Leo rushes inside, scanning the cabinet for the dulce de leche brownies. He grabs two of them and shoves them into a paper bag, running back outside.
Neymar is leaning against the wall.
"Here." Leo says, gentle throwing the bag to him.
Neymar barely manages to catch it, startled. "What-" He peers in the bag, then beams up at Leo, teeth on full display and eyes crinkling up. Leo thinks how young and
pretty innocent he looks when he smiles like that.
Leo just nods and smiles slightly, leaning against the doorway, and watches him walk down the dimly lit street.
*'Sim' is Portuguese for 'yes'.
a few more quick notes:
The thing where Neymar goes for Santos- in case you didn't know, Neymar used to play for Santos FC (since 2003) back in Brasil, before he came to Barça.
And leo has also stated in interviews that he didn't use to watch football as a child much, only play.
Also, dulce de leche is a type of confectionery that's popular in Argentina and also can be made into a brownie, of sorts.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and please do comment if you can, I like seeing what you guys think of it :)
The days wash past and weekdays are full of solitary football and study and work, but the weekend brings company in the form of Neymar and his friends. (Leo thinks they're maybe his friends as well, now.) Sundays are pulling on battered football boots and running onto the dirt with the others by his side, maybe winning the match and then walking home not alone.
Neymar is still obnoxious and teasing, but it's quiet on the few occasions when he doesn't turn up to matches, so Leo sticks by Andrés, a quiet midfielder who doesn't seem to need words to communicate with Leo. Cesc, although he may have seemed strict and formidable at first, is really almost as bad as Neymar- the two of them, along with Gerard, bring much liveliness (and annoyance) to the locker room. All in all- it's not as bad as he would have thought, this place. He thinks he'll maybe miss it when he leaves.
Leo can hear the rain drumming an angry rhythm on the tin metal rooftop, and the occasional boom of thunder disrupting him from reading the old 2002 World Cup magazine he's found in his bag. He'd been kicking the football around outside before, until the rain had began to pour down miserably.
As he's beginning a page outlining the promising teams of the tournament, he comes to hear faint shouting outside. He pauses and strains his ears. The voices seem alarmed and urgent, and Leo is startled to recognise that one of them is Neymar's.
"You go that way! Go!"
"Where are you going?"
"I don't know, this way? Quick, go! Before they come!"
He gets up from the chair and removes the old sheet of cardboard they use in place of curtains for the window. Leo can barely see anything through the torrent of rain, but he makes out the figures of two guys- one of whom, he's sure is Neymar.
"What is it, Leo?" His abuela's voice comes from behind him.
He turns back. "Oh- nothing, I just saw Neymar and some other guy out there- the other kid just ran off now."
"Stupid boy, why is he standing out in the rain? Get him in, quick!"
"Listen to me!"
Leo grumbles and gently opens the door, wincing at the splashes of water that hit him immediately. He calls out to Neymar.
"Hey! Neymar! What're you doing?"
Neymar whips around. "Oh- hey, man! Uh- nothing- but I've really got to go now-"
"Do you want to come in?"
Neymar looks surprised. "Me? You want me to come in?"
Leo sighs. "Not me, she wants you to."
Neymar bites his lip, glancing around nervously. "Actually, I don't think it would be a good-"
"Just shut the fuck up and come in, she'll get mad at me later if you die in the rain or something."
Neymar hesitates for a second, then bounds through the doorway, half knocking Leo over in the process.
Leo follows, shutting and locking the door.
Neymar is not largely soaked, due to him having draped a jumper over his head. Still, it's not pleasant when he casually throws the dank jumper into Leo's arms and shakes his head to get droplets of water out, making them land on Leo.
Leo gags from the smell of the wet jacket and chucks it to the side. "Ungrateful little shit." He mutters under his breath.
Leo's abuela hurries in with a large blanket, draping it around Neymar, who sits down on the floor, leaned against the wall.
Neymar looks perfectly at home, smiling charmingly at Leo's abuela and answering her questions enthusiastically.
She notices Leo standing around staring.
"Go make some mate for Neymar."
Neymar intervenes hurriedly. "Ah, no it's fine, thanks. I don't drink mate. Tea, on the other hand..." He trails off and Leo glowers at him.
He sighs and makes his way to the kitchen.
It takes a while for him to make it (he's not used to being a maid, for fucks sake), and once he does he carefully walks back to Neymar, taking precaution not to spill it. He notices that his abuela is not in the room (he can hear her shuffling around in the back), and also that Neymar's usual care free look is gone, replaced by a tense, fretful expression. It looks out of place on his face.
Neymar doesn't seem to notice when Leo walks in, instead picking at his jeans pensively.
Leo leans down, holding the cup out, yet Neymar still doesn't seem to acknowledge him.
From this close, he can see small scars on Neymar's cheeks that he hadn't noticed before, and also his rather long lashes fluttering against his skin.
Neymar glances up suddenly, meeting Leo's eyes with his own vibrant green ones, and Leo's startled, not able to move back without spilling the tea. Neymar still seems to be half in a daze for a few seconds, thinking about whatever, not saying anything, and he's aware of the small amount of space between them, and small puffs of Neymar's breath.
"Your tea." Leo mutters quietly, breaking the silence.
"Uh? Oh, right, thanks." He takes the cup from Leo's hands, freeing him from the awkwardness of the situation.
"What were you even thinking about so hard, anyway? Didn't know you were capable of that."
Neymar grins. "Stuff. Sit down." He says, patting the space on the floor next to him.
Leo is dubious. "Why?"
Neymar sighs, shaking his head. "You're so difficult, man."
Leo scoffs, but takes a seat anyway, resting his arm on his knee. He watches Neymar sip the liquid, monitoring his expressions carefully.
"What's it like?" He asks hesitantly.
Neymar pulls a face. "Not so good, man, I recomme-
"Ah, fuck off." Leo turns his head away from Neymar, sighing. He hears Neymar laugh slightly.
"I'm joking dude. It's good. Thanks."
It's pleasantly quiet for a while, and Leo's beginning to think that maybe Neymar's not irritating all the time, until his voice breaks the silence.
"Um. Could you like, turn on the TV please? You don't talk much, man, it's getting boring."
Leo grabs the remote, which is thankfully lying close enough so that he doesn't need to get up, and turns on the ancient box tv (Neymar is lucky if it works, most of the time half the screen is grey.)
He's pleasantly surprised to see that there is a football match playing, even though it's a premier league match (he doesn't much like english club football).
Unfortunately, Neymar seems to think he's actually a commentator, and keeps chattering to Leo about what that player did wrong, and what this player is fantastic at. Leo tunes him out eventually. He's on the verge of shutting his eyes and taking a nap, when Neymar startles him with a shout.
"Dude! Did you fucking see Sturridge, man? It was like, this close!"
Leo nods tiredly, when Neymar suddenly leans forward and places a hand on Leo's knee.
He keeps it there as his eyes are fixated on the screen, monitoring the movement of the ball getting dangerously close to the goal. Leo is very aware of the warmth of the other boy's hand and the way his grip is getting tighter every time the player on screen dribbles past another defender. Leo is too preoccupied to watch the match, focusing on Neymar's long fingers instead.
Suddenly, a player takes a long, powerful shot, rocketing it past the startled keeper and into the net. Neymar whoops, releasing Leo's knee- only to sling an arm around Leo's shoulders, pulling him into a hug and messing up his hair with the other hand.
Leo feels a slight blush creep up his face at the sudden contact, trying to breathe under Neymar's enthusiasm and blur of limbs.
"Why are you so excited, anyway?" He manages to gasp out, "you don't even watch premier league."
Neymar beams at him. "You know the dude who just scored, right? Coutinho? Yeah, well, we used to be bros. Back home, in Brasil."
"No, seriously! I have like, photos and stuff, man, we still keep in touch."
Leo still can't seem to believe it, but Neymar looks fairly earnest so he lets it slide. Neymar flicks his eyes back to the screen, only for it to turn grey.
"Oh, great. It's having one of its moments. It'll be back in 10 minutes."
Neymar lapses into silence again, and Leo's slightly worried now.
"Hey- Neymar?" He begins tentatively.
"You know how you were with the other guy before, outside? What- uh- what were you doing , exactly?"
Neymar hesitates. "What? Oh, nothing. Just- you know, fooling around."
Leo raises an eyebrow. "No, really."
Neymar sighs, knitting his eyebrows. "I- it's kinda complicated, man. There's lots of stuff that goes on in this town that you don't know about, and-"
"Oh, yeah? Like what?"
Neymar bites his lip. "Look- it's just- nothing."
Leo rolls his eyes. "I'm not a fucking idiot. I know you weren't playing fucking hide and seek when you were running from someone out there."
"It's none of your business, man, why do you even care so much anyway? You're not even from around here, it doesn't matter." Neymar snaps.
Truthfully, Leo is rather shocked. This is the first time he's seen Neymar lose his patience and snap at someone. He can tell, though, that Neymar is not so much angry at Leo, as he is nervous.
Suddenly, Leo is reminded of the presentations they used to give at his old primary school about making sure you're there for a friend in times of need and that you always ask them about what's going on to make sure they're okay. He snorts inwardly at the thought of asking Neymar if he's okay or some shit like that- but actually, he's a little worried about Neymar's behaviour- on a person to person basis, of course, not as a friend caring for another friend or something like that.
His thoughts are interrupted by the obnoxious Nokia ringtone of his phone in his pocket. Neymar glances at Leo as he fumbles around for it, pressing answer. He only notices, after pressing it, that it's from his girlfriend, Antonella. He stands up, moving to the other room for privacy, pleasantly surprised that she's calling.
"Hey Leo." She sounds a little off- Leo notices there's a tone of apprehension in her voice.
"Hey Anto, what's up? Sorry I didn't call before, by the way- I thought you might be busy."
She pauses for a bit. "Oh- nothing much. Actually- Leo- how long are you going to be there for? Do you know when you're coming home?"
"Well- another three weeks, I think? Don't worry, though, it's not that much."
He hears her sigh slightly. "Yeah- see- that's the thing, Leo."
"You- it's getting kind of hard to- stay close, you know and-"
"What? No, I'll be home soon, and then-"
"No, even when you're here, you're always so- detached- we don't talk for weeks at times- and that's how you are, and that's cool- but- that's not how I am."
Leo feels a little overwhelmed. "And?"
"I don't think we're really, you know, all that great together."
"So, that's it then?"
"We've been friends for a long time, Leo, and we still will be- but- come on. You never really liked me like that, and neither did I."
"Oh." He doesn't really feel anything. Just a little lost.
"Are you- alright?"
"What? Oh, yeah. Yeah. You're right." He startles himself by saying it- but it's true- what she's saying.
"Yeah. Sorry, I've got to go now- um- I'll call you tomorrow, maybe?" He feels alright right now, maybe a little weird, but he's not sure what'll happen if they continue talking.
"Oh. Yeah. yeah sure. Bye, then." She sounds unsure.
As he walks back to where Neymar's sitting, he honestly feels- a little shocked, but relieved.
"Who was it?" Neymar asks curiously.
He thinks about lying and saying it was his parents, he's really not in the mood to explain to Neymar about his romance issues, and wishes that Neymar would head home soon. After a pause, he decides just to let it out.
"Uh, just my girlfriend from back home."
Neymar snickers slightly. "Why, did she call to dump you?"
Leo averts his eyes. "Ah. Yes, actually."
Neymar's smile fades off into an awkward look. "Oh. Shit. Sorry, man- I didn't mean-"
Leo laughs, feeling a bit hysterical. "No, it's alright. I don't mind."
Neymar stares at him. "You don't mind your girlfriend broke up with you?" He asks incredulously.
Leo smiles slightly. "I dunno. We were really good friends before that, but I never actually liked her romantically or anything. I think we were both just pretending."
What the fuck, he hears Neymar whisper under his breath.
"How do you even be friends with a chick without liking her romantically, man? Like, unless she's ugly, I guess, but-"
Leo sneers at him. "She's not ugly, trust me. And we're not all horn dogs like you, we're capable of thinking about things other than banging someone."
Neymar makes a face. "Shut up. I don't need to think about it, man, I can just do it-"
"Says the one who just got dumped. I bet it's because she thinks you're an ugly motherfucker, isn't it?"
Leo pretends to be upset. "That's not cool, man. I'm really self conscious. You- you're so hurtful." He looks down, fake frowning.
Neymar's eyes widen and he looks anxious. "I- I was joking, you're not ugly, see?"
He reaches out to stroke Leo's hair, making him move back a little. "You have- uh- beautiful long dark locks, and deep soulful eyes and-"
Leo bursts into laughter, not able to contain it anymore, leaving Neymar confused.
"Deep soulful eyes? You're so full of shit! Ha! I can't believe you fell for that!" He wheezes.
Neymar blushes and retreats, running a hand through his hair. "Yeah, well. I was just being nice. And I'm not full of shit."
Leo straightens up, looking seriously into Neymar's eyes. "Oh, so you actually think I have beautiful long locks and soulful eyes?"
"Oh, go away!"
Leo catches a glimpse of the clock hanging on the wall, and is startled to realise that it's 9 already. He hadn't noticed the time go by. As of right on cue, his abuela walks in from the kitchen purposefully.
"Hey- it's gotten really late- aren't your parents going to be worried?"
Neymar looks thoughtful. "My parents." He murmurs, trailing off.
His abuela intervenes. "You shouldn't walk back home this late. Stay here, you can go back tomorrow."
Neymar smiles, looking grateful. "Thanks."
Leo's frowns. "Wait- but- does that mean you're going to be sleeping on the sofa, then?"
His abuela looks incredulous. "No. In your room."
"My room? What about me?"
She waves her hand, sighing. "We will find another mattress for Neymar, you just be quiet and go clean it up before he goes in. It looks disgusting."
A bit later, his room is (relatively) tidier and they've managed to find an small old metal bed frame and a mattress for Neymar to sleep on. Unfortunately, Leo's clothes and practically everything has been shifted to under Leo's bed. He knows he's going to have a great time sorting it all tomorrow.
They've turned off the lights, but Neymar keeps rolling around, making the frame creak every 2 minutes.
Leo sighs. "Could you, not, please?"
"Mm." Neymar seems half asleep, but settles, anyway.
All he can hear now is the wind howling gently, and a steady dripping of left over droplets from the storm.
From the soft moonlight shining in through the small window, he can see Neymar's delicate features illuminated by the light, eyelashes fluttering softly and chest rising up and down gently. Leo smiles to himself slightly. Even with the ridiculous, 'tough rebel' haircut, the Brazilian still manages to look somewhat soft and naïve. There's just something endearing about him- Leo can see why he has many friends, and why the girls in town have little crushes on him (as he's noticed during his time here). Thinking of girls leads him to think about his phone call with Anto, earlier. Not about what she had said- not even about their relationship. He thinks of what he said to Antonella earlier.
I'll be back in three weeks.
He feels a slight pang in his chest at the thought of leaving it all behind, leaving Neymar behind. He'd been so eager to return home, before- he doesn't know why he's so hesitant now. Perhaps he'll slightly miss Neymar's jibes and the way his eyes light up when he's about to crack a joke. He drifts off to sleep dreaming of gathering up everyone in this town and taking them back home to live in a giant hotel with him and his family.
Yeah, so, hope you enjoyed! As always, comments and kudos are greatly appreciated!
Also, you can find me on tumblr at- http://blaugranasky.tumblr.com
(I'm sorry, I can't hyperlink on the device I'm using)
Leo has a free day off, no study to catch up on, no football match, so-
He doesn't really know what to do. He considers going to Neymar, except, come to think of it, he doesn't even know where Neymar lives. Not even which part of town.
He's restless, so he decides to hang around town for the day, explore or whatever, maybe get one or two souvenir things to take home.
He hasn't much been paying attention to where he's going, just wandering around and catching the next bus, roaming from area to area. Except, it's evening now, brilliant orange fading to that shade of purple he's never liked much, and he's not quite sure how he got to this area- it's rundown, much like most of this town, but in a more- unfriendly way, if that even makes sense. Instead of the pleasant smiles from before, the various assortment of people on the street scrutinise him suspiciously, shoving past.
Ah, so. Maybe it wasn't the best idea. He can't see anyone who looks friendly enough to be asked for directions from, and the crowded ramshackle buildings seem to be leaning over him, almost threatening to suffocate and collapse.
So it's only natural, that after a while, when he sees a familiar face in the distance, his immediate thought is to shout out.
Neymar stops, a few metres away, barely visible in the crowd, and looks around puzzledly until he catches a glimpse of Leo. His eyes widen and he looks shocked for a moment, before hastily shoving past the crowd to reach him.
"What are you doing here?" He says under his breath, looking almost fearful.
"You shouldn't be here."
"Why the fuck not?" Leo says, getting a little annoyed by his hostile attitude.
"Just- nevermind, come with me." Neymar says rushedly, gripping Leo's arm tightly and pulling him along.
Neymar nervously tells him to shut up, and something about the tone of his voice compels Leo to obey.
Neymar takes Leo to a small undercover area consisting of tarp strung over four wood poles, and he's silent for a while, carefully watching the people passing by.
Neymar finally turns to face him, eyes flashing green in the near dark.
"You know how far from home you are, right?"
"Uh. I guess-"
"And you know that this part of town isn't for people like you?"
Leo gets annoyed at this. "What do you mean, people like me? What-"
Neymar frowns at him, taking a step closer to be heard properly. He shakes his head.
"I mean, it's dangerous for you to be here, you-"
"Which movie did you steal that line from?" Leo chortles, shoving him lightly.
"Leo- don't- it's not funny!" He whines childishly, glaring at him slightly and only persuading Leo to laugh harder. Neymar stands there and glowers while waiting for him to stop.
"Are you done? Yeah, thanks, dickhead."
"Yeah, yeah, sorry. What were you going to say?"
Neymar uses a lot of melodramatic pauses and emphasis on words to inform Leo that he is, in fact, on the opposite side of town from his abuela's house, and that he needs to get back as quickly as possible.
"Well, I can't go right now." Leo states.
"It's started raining, idiot. Pretty heavily, in case you haven't noticed. I'll wait until it passes."
"Oh." Neymar says, glancing outside the little area. He's (miraculously) quiet for a while, looking thoughtful and glancing at the time on Leo's watch.
"Actually." He says after a while. "You can't go back."
"Not now. It's gotten too late."
"It's fine, I can walk back-"
"No, you can't." Neymar insists firmly. "Can't go walking around at this time of night around here, especially not in this weather."
"You can't, man."
"I don't see why-"
They argue back and forth for a bit, Leo saying that his abuela is going to kill him for staying out so late, and Neymar saying that someone else will probably kill him if he goes walking around now anyway. Leo finally decides to call his abuela (14 missed calls, Jesus Christ), and tell her that he's staying at Neymar's place for the night. She protests initially, yelling at him for not picking up her calls, but seems relativity soothed and reluctantly agrees when Neymar grabs the phone from Leo and says something to her.
Leo ends the call, sighing tiredly and shoving it in his pocket.
"So. Are we going to your place, then?"
Neymar looks at him incredulously and snorts. "No. We can't walk all the way there. I know a motel though, near here, and the guy knows me really well, he'll let us stay there for the night."
"What about your parents though? Won't they get worried?"
Neymar studies the ground, not answering for a bit. "uh. No, my parents won't mind."
Neymar seems uncomfortable and Leo doesn't prod any further, following Neymar as they make their way through a shortcut of a series of ramshackle little buildings to avoid having to walk in the storm.
The guy behind the counter scrutinises Leo suspiciously after saying an abrupt hello to Neymar.
"This is my friend, Leo."
The guys scratches his bald head. "Okay, but why did you walk all the way here to introduce me to your fucking friend? I don't wanna meet anymore of your goddamned friends, I already see enough of that tall kid-"
"Ah, no. It's not that. We were wondering if we could, like-"
"Stay in a room for the night? For free?" The guy asks accusingly, frowning.
"Yeah. If that's cool." Neymar smiles brightly and not so subtly reaches for a set of keys on the desk.
"Kid, you're like a fucking leech. This is- what, the fifth time you've done this? Why don't you just come and go as you please, don't even ask me anymore, it seems to belong more to you than me anyway."
Neymar grins at him comradely and slaps his shoulder as he swipes the keys, throwing them up and catching them again.
"Thanks Masche. I know I can always count on you, man."
Leo half smiles at the counter dude apologetically as he jogs to catch up with Neymar.
The room is small and smells faintly of ammonia, peeling wallpaper yellowing slightly and emitting a lonely, abandoned vibe. It has one large bed in the corner.
"Wow. You sure have great links." Leo says sarcastically as he sets down his backpack that he was carrying around before.
"Be fucking grateful, man."
"Yeah. I'm so grateful of the-" he pauses and peers closely at the small scuttling things on the floor. "-fucking cockroaches on the floor."
Neymar glances at the things and shrugs.
"You want anything to eat?" Neymar asks, stretching his arms.
"There's nothing here."
"Sure there is. Masche always has some snacks and shit."
Leo frowns. "Why don't you just leave the poor guy alone." He says pityingly.
Neymar snorts and bounds out the room and Leo shakes his head.
He takes a while, and Leo thinks of going downstairs and getting him, except that would mean getting past the large cockroach currently running back and forth along the door entrance, and he's not quite sure if he wants to do that.
Neymar skips back eventually, leaping gracefully over the insect. He brandishes a bag of biscuits and two cans triumphantly.
"Praise the lord." Leo says dryly.
Neymar sits down on the edge of the bed and drags a small table close to it to set down the things. Leo reluctantly joins him, leaning back against the wall.
"Here's your beer, man."
Leo starts. "I don't drink." He frowns after a moment of thought. "Wait, aren't you too young-"
Neymar raises an eyebrow. "I'm 18." He says pompously, opening a beer can.
"Oh. Right, yeah."
Leo nibbles tentatively on the stale biscuits as Neymar finishes his beer in silence, feet knocking on the floor rhythmically.
Neymar turns to face him suddenly after a while, and Leo notices his eyes look happily glazed, like he's tipsy even though it's only been one can.
"When are you going back to your city, Leo?" He asks, moving intently closer, eyes wide.
"Uh. Like, a little more than two weeks?"
Neymar visibly droops and reaches for the other can of beer, popping it open. Leo watches him apprehensively as he swallows a considerable amount in one go.
"Maybe you should stop drinking-"
"No way! If you're not gonna drink it, then I will."
Leo sighs. The last thing he wants to deal with is a drunk Neymar.
Neymar groans suddenly and falls back on the mattress, sprawling out and gazing up at the ceiling. The second can falls onto the floor, empty.
"What?" Leo asks, startled.
"Leeoo." He half whines, throwing an arm in front of his eyes to block out the harsh fluorescent white light.
"Yeah, what is it?" Leo asks slower, grudgingly realising that Neymar's kinda drunk at this point, somehow. He must've drank downstairs before, as well, leo realises.
"Leo, why don't you like me?" He asks pitifully. Leo's surprised.
"What? Why wouldn't I like you?"
Neymar sighs heavily and squirms around a bit. "You're leaving me." He says, so sadly that Leo feels guilty for some reason.
"No, I'm not." He lies, hoping drunk Neymar will accept the lie.
Neymar stares at Leo with large green eyes, like he knows Leo's lying. He squirms around some more and Leo watches him, feeling a bit empty.
"I know you still don't like me anyway." Neymar says matter of factly, staring firmly at the ceiling.
"What? Where did all this come from?" Leo asks, perplexed and seeing no end to Neymar's drunken nonsense.
Neymar switches his striking irises onto Leo, looking up at him differently somehow, lip caught between teeth.
"I never what?"
Neymar stares at him long and hard, and Leo begins to feel uncomfortable. What is he taking about?
"You never wanna touch me."
Leo's mouth goes slightly dry and he dearly hopes he interpreted that wrong. Neymar tilts his head to the side a little and the corner of his mouth lifts up in a would-be smirk.
"I don't understand."
"Don't act dumb." Neymar says, still gazing at him intensely.
"Neymar-" Leo begins, voice choked.
"Neymar." The other boy repeats mockingly.
Leo barely comprehends what's happening, all he knows is that Neymar's raspy voice just sent a tingle through his body and that the atmosphere in the room completely changed in those few seconds.
"You're drunk, you don't know what you're saying-"
Neymar laughs slightly, gazing at him through half lidded eyes and moving slightly so that he's leaning back on his elbows, still lying down.
"Amor." He says in a lazy drawl, dragging out the word, and Leo's mind understands that this is all completely ridiculous.
"Oh, fuck. Say it again, man. My name."
Leo's face is bright red by now, his ears this close to spontaneously combusting.
"I- I don't know what's gotten into you-" he stutters.
"Nothing. I've wanted you for so long, Leo." Neymar wets his lips and snaps his hips up hard in the air. "Throw me on a bed and fuck me--"
Leo claps a hand over Neymar's mouth, heart pounding erratically and dick half hard in his jeans. Neymar wrenches Leo's hand off and lazily hooks his fingers in Leo's belt loops, tugging him forward in his moment of surprise. Leo nearly falls on top of Neymar, but he manages to place a hand on the bed so that there's about 4 cm between his face and Neymar's pretty one.
Leo's frozen in shock for a few seconds as Neymar stares at him intently, long eyelashes blinking slowly and eyes still clouded with lust. His breath is warm on Leo's neck.
Eventually, Neymar slips a hand on the back of Leo's neck, attempting to push his head down to meet his lips. He writhes under him, rutting against his hip bones and Leo snaps out of his daze then, jerking out of Neymar's grip and sitting up.
"No, Leo-" Neymar whines, and Leo half leaps up from the bed, dizzy.
He stumbles blindly away, managing to make his way to the conjoined bathroom. He doesn't look back at Neymar, for fear of what would happen if he saw Neymar like that again, Neymar under him and at his mercy-
He shuts the door and locks it, leaning back against it and breathing shakily.
After a while, when his breath has returned to normal, he stands up properly and goes to the sink to splash some water on his heated face, trying to avoid looking into the cracked mirror.
He shouldn't have let Neymar drink those beers. Fuck, he shouldn't have been here in the first place. He wishes this mess would sort itself out, that he'd go back to the room to find that Neymar actually wasn't there, never had been, and this had all just been a disturbing dream.
But there's also a part of him that wanted to listen to Neymar, to push him down onto the mattress like he'd asked and let the Brazilian leave his marks and-
"Fuck." He whispers, nearly about to shout, but afraid that he'd disturb the other guests in the motel. His head is still whirling so he sits down on the grungy floor of the bathroom, head in hands.
When he decides to venture back out, Neymar is asleep, curled up tightly on the bed, cans and biscuits fallen on the floor.
Leo seriously considers sleeping on the floor, but decides against it due to the insects, and lies down on the other side of the bed, as far away from Neymar as possible. He hopes Neymar doesn't remember this when he wakes up.
Leo wakes to an empty room and ruffled blue sheets, rumpled like someone had pushed them hurriedly to the side in a hasty attempt to leave. He just sits on the edge of the worn mattress for a few seconds, fingernails digging into the edge of the cheap fabric, before taking note of a half-crumpled bit of manila paper on the bedside table.
There’s some shit scrawled on it in straggling, hasty kind of lettering and Leo has to read it two or three times before it registers that it’s Neymar that’s left him a note telling him to get his shit and meet him downstairs by 9:00.
Maybe it’s because the gesture feels kind of distant- cold, even, after the events of the previous night- and Leo isn’t one to impulsively jump to conclusions- but he can tell that whatever semi warm atmosphere and comradery they shared last night- before the thing happened, that is- has completely deflated now. He feels oddly stiff and void, kinda weird inside like he always does when he gets caught up about pointless shit, so he tries not to linger on it too much.
Eventually, he manages to dredge up enough incentive to drag his ass to the bathroom and do a half assed job of cleaning his teeth (of course, they didn’t bring any tooth brushes and the only tooth paste supplied is some off brand shit that looks like it’s been fermenting for years, so Leo makes do with his fingers and a cautious dollop of said paste).
Outside it’s windy in the way that makes your nose and ears and other extremities sting with cold. He glances up, almost losing his footing on the rickety external staircase, and sees that the sky is done up to match, all insipid and sombre.
Neymar cuts a solitary outline against the monotonous backdrop of cheap second story homes and grey brick wall, and Leo hesitates for a second, watching him from a distance. He’s got his hands shoved deep in his pockets, hunched over slightly, and jittering his foot in that way that he does when he’s bored.
Eventually, Leo clears his throat, ascertaining that Neymar knows he’s arrived. Neymar starts slightly, and glances back.
“Hey.” Neymar says, and if Leo thinks it sounds half-hearted, then he’s probably just overly anxious about the whole situation and reading into everything too much like he tends to do when he’s on edge.
“Sorry if I’m a bit late or anything, uh-“ Leo says, pausing a second to rejig his backpack on his shoulders. “- took me a while to wake up.”
Neymar nods and offers him a lukewarm smile as acknowledgement. Leo fucking hates the way some of the tension he’s been holding in his body eases so blandly at that.
“Um,” Neymar says, pushes a hand through his hair and looks around. “look, I-“ he pauses.
This is it, Leo thinks, this is when he finally addresses the offbeat, borderline freaky shit that went down last night. He has to actively focus on resisting the warm tide of self-consciousness that rushes over him, stagnating in his cheeks and colouring them a warm red hue.
“-I kinda have to be somewhere soon, so I’m probably gonna have to leave you at the bus stop- you know, if you’re okay catching it by yourself back to your area, that is.”
“Oh.” Is Leo’s initial response, oddly disappointed but simultaneously more than a little relieved.
Neymar raises his eyebrows. “Oh?” he repeats questioningly.
“Oh- yeah, that’s fine. I’m fine with that, yeah.” He recovers clumsily, shuffles his feet around a little in lieu of further response.
The walk to the nearest stop is pretty uneventful by all measures, and there’s an uncomfortable silence that diffuses around them. They fall in step easily, leaves crunching in harmony as they walk, and for the first time since they met, Leo is hyper aware of Neymar’s presence next to him. He catches himself glancing to the side from time to time, maybe subconsciously hoping for some kind of gesture or conversation starter that will assure him everything’s alright, it’s cool, chill between them, but Neymar’s quiet.
It’s fucked, he thinks. It’s all so fucked, this would be mate ship, the rest of his time here, hell, maybe even his own distorted view of his sexuality. And he’s pissed off with himself for it, which doesn’t even make sense anyway, ‘cause it’s Neymar that initiated the whole (completely unwarranted) affair, but there’s a part of himself that’s in chaos because it’s not like he himself was totally fucking against it, either.
“Well, this is your stop. Next bus should get here in like 15 minutes, I think- uh, that’s the one you need to catch.”
Leo’s not quite sure whether this warrants a proper goodbye, or a thanks for the help, or anything, but he doesn’t want to sound too formal, so he just nods and gets out a soft “See you” before settling down on the small wooden bench.
“Okay- well, I’m off then, I guess.” Neymar says, shoves his hands in his pockets. There’s a slight pause, and he opens his mouth slightly like he’s going to say something more-
But then he just turns on his heel and takes a small path to the right of the stop, and, well- that’s that, Leo guesses.
The next week passes in a kind of haze, vague and slow and surreal, like wading through a sea of molasses. Leo mostly spends his days inside his room at the shop, draped on his mattress and reading, watching vaguely as the undulating light and shadows thrown on his wall by the sun filtering through the leaves stretch and bend and contract with the passing of time. It’s kind of therapeutic in a way, he thinks. Inside these four yellow walls he’s not compelled to think about sorting out The Neymar Problem, his mind is numbed temporarily from that anxiety. He hasn’t seen Neymar since he left at the bus stop. He hasn’t seen the others for a while, either, and he feels like it’d be weird for him to hang out with them without Neymar. Sometimes he thinks about calling Neymar or waiting for him at his usual spots he frequents, but it feels intrusive and uncomfortable, and god knows Leo’s not the type to initiate anything, so.
Some nights, when it’s late, like 12 or 1, and he can’t get to sleep, he’ll lie on his bed with a hand down his pants and tries to think of Antonella and the other girls back home, even if it does nothing, ‘cause- well, it’s what teenage boys are meant to do, right. But sometimes, there’ll be like these weird intrusive thoughts instead where he thinks of Neymar instead, just random shit, like his smile and his eyes, and that night, and those are the times when he thinks he feels something click, something different- but of course, he stops, just- flicks the lights off and shuts his eyes instead. He just figures that maybe Antonella breaking up with him has fucked up his psyche or something.
So uh don't really know if anyone is still reading this anymore, but hey, I finally updated after 3 years! Anyway, this was technically meant to be the last chapter, but i kinda split it in two and i'll probably post the final one sometime before next Sunday. Coming back to this fic and editing the last two pre written chapters after a pretty long time was kinda confronting, and I now see the gaping plot holes and blech conclusion i had planned, so i will be tweaking that a little- but for the most part, I've kept the writing style and the storyline mostly the same as I had planned back in the dark days. Hopefully this is the start of me continuing to wrap up or keep writing the other 10 million football WIPs I have, but this fic definitely takes priority lol
Also, concerning this fic and other fics I have which were all obviously posted like around 2015/2016- back when Barça had an almost completely different squad- uhh idc about reality, man, I'm still living in our Treble winning glory days lmao. Yeah obviously I'm not gonna change around the characters of pre existing fics just cos those players don't interact much in rl anymore (unless they're non AUs). Either way, it feels good to be back in the football world, fic and all ;)
ANYWAY, as usual, all comments and kudos are appreciated so much, and also thanks so much to every single person that sent me a message or a comment or anything telling me to update this dumbass fic- it actually really motivated me :)))