“What do we think of Tottenham?”
The response that comes back is fierce and resounding.
Jensen laughs and shouts again. “And what do we think of shit?”
Jensen repeats the verse one more time and listens to the applause coming from every corner of the tavern. The crowd gathered to watch the first North London Derby of the season is bigger than he expected, but he loves seeing all the red and white (along with a few navy and gold) jerseys spanning from wall to wall. He grabs his Guinness and smiles, catching Tahmoh’s gaze and nodding.
He and Tahmoh founded the Ruby City Gooners—an Official Arsenal Supporters Club—almost seven years ago. Back then, the two of them watched Arsenal games with only a handful of British expats at any bar willing to open early enough. These days, thanks to soccer’s booming popularity in the United States, they pull at least fifty people for regular games and well over one hundred Gooners for big-time matches like this morning’s showdown with Arsenal’s bitter North London foes, Tottenham Hotspur.
Stupid fucking name for a stupid fucking club, Jensen thinks, smirking to himself.
They’d been fortunate to find Grey’s Tavern. Charles Grey, the owner, was a huge fan of the English Premier League, reaching out to Jensen and Tahmoh and inviting them to make Grey’s the official home of the Ruby City Gooners. That had been two years ago. Charles keeps the Guinness taps flowing, the full English breakfasts sizzling, and makes sure to have every relevant sports channel included in his digital cable package.
At the other end of the bar, Tahmoh starts up another chant as the crowd watches the Arsenal players exit the tunnel at the Emirates Stadium to take the field.
“And it’s Ar-sen-al! Ar-sen-al F. C.! We’re by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen!”
Jensen’s about to join in when, out of the corner of his eye, he sees the front door open. A man and woman wearing red jerseys walk into Grey’s and look around. Jensen grins, about to head over and welcome the newcomers—all Arsenal fans are welcome, whether they’re visiting town or eager to see what being a fan of the Premier League in America is really like—when he notices the badge on their jerseys.
So they’re not Gooners after all. The crest on their jerseys—a bird that looks vaguely like a dragon over the letters L.F.C.—marks the tall guy and the petite brunette tucked under his arm as Liverpool fans.
Grey’s has built a reputation as one of the best soccer bars in the city, so it’s not surprising that fans of other teams show up to watch games from time to time. Now that Jensen really looks, he spots a small group of Reds gathered around the end of the bar closest to the door. One of the eight flatscreens mounted over the bar is broadcasting Liverpool’s match against Newcastle, the fans making due without commentary as the bar’s sound system is turned to the Arsenal match. One of the many benefits of being Charles Grey’s favorite club.
The new guy catches Jensen staring and he smiles. For a split-second, Jensen is pissed off. How dare a guy that good looking be a Liverpool fan? Not to mention, probably straight. Which is a straight up crime given the shape of his mouth. It’s wide and friendly, and Jensen has no trouble imagining how it would stretch to accommodate his dick, his hands over the guy’s defined cheekbones as he slides in and out...
While he doesn’t hold anything against Liverpool specifically, Jensen loves Arsenal and only Arsenal. He shakes off his disappointment and turns away from the couple to watch the match kick off.
Fifteen minutes later, Jensen is cursing out loud as Aaron Ramsey’s cross sails over Olivier Giroud’s head, the ball heading out of bounds for a goal kick.
“Come on, Rambo,” he mutters, “you’ve gotta do better than that, man.” The fans around him offer similar commentary. Arsenal’s had the better possession, but Spurs have threatened with two dangerous counter-attacks. Arsenal needs to score soon to settle the game into a rhythm the Gunners prefer, and a goal would have the added bonus of silencing the Spurs fans in Emirates Stadium who braved adversity to watch their team get destroyed. Serves them right.
Jensen looks to his left where the Liverpool fans have just let out a collective sigh of frustration. The guy he locked gazes with earlier is hovering empty-handed at the back of the group.
As if the guy can feel Jensen’s eyes on him, he glances over.
“Did you need a drink?” Jensen asks suddenly. What? He’s just being polite.
The guy smiles. “I tried,” he says, “but I don’t think he heard my order.” With a few dozen Arsenal and Liverpool fans crowded between him, his girlfriend, and the bar, it’s no wonder he hasn’t been able to get the bartender’s attention.
“Hey, Ian!” Jensen has no problem shouting over everyone. Ian, the stocky 22-year old working their end of the bar, immediately looks up and finds Jensen. “Do your job and get this guy a—” Jensen pauses and looks at the guy.
“A Harp! Put it on my tab.”
The guy steps closer to Jensen and offers a sincere thank you. “Genevieve had no problem getting served,” he explains, “but that’s not really a surprise.”
“Ian always gives the girls priority. Can’t blame him,” Jensen says, “given that he has to deal with mostly dudes during these games.” Ian returns with Jared’s cold pint and hands it over. “If he hits on your girlfriend or something, just let me know and I’ll kick his ass.”
“Oh, Genevieve’s not my girlfriend. I’m Jared, by the way.”
His earlier disappointment evaporates in a flash. It takes Jensen a few seconds to reciprocate the introduction. “Jensen. I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.”
“First time,” Jared admits. “Seems like a cool place. Genevieve warned me that it was an Arsenal bar. You guys have a crazy turnout.”
“Yeah, you picked a crazy day to show up. North London Derby, and all.”
“I don’t have cable hooked up yet at my new place. Coming here is better than trying to watch the livestream on my phone.”
Jensen’s about to respond when a sudden surge in noise hooks his attention. Mesut Özil’s got the ball and he’s racing down the side of the field, Giroud and Alexis Sanchez sprinting up the middle towards the goal. Shouting along with Tahmoh and a hundred other Gooners, Jensen watches Özil cross the ball into the penalty area, his pass freakishly accurate. The ball comes down close to Alexis, who doesn’t wait for it to bounce before firing a perfect volley that beats the Spurs’ keeper at the far post and slams into the back of the goal.
Grey’s explodes with cheers and applause. Bodies slam into Jensen from all sides as his fellow Gooners celebrate the goal (doubly sweet when they come against the fucking Spurs). He hugs at least a dozen people and his hand stings from the number of high-fives he distributes. Tahmoh leads the assembled Gooners in a chant after which Jensen cups his hands over his mouth and shouts.
“Your goal scorer! Alexis…”
The rest of the bar shouts back. “SANCHEZ!”
It takes a full three minutes before the noise settles back to pre-goal levels. With Arsenal in the lead, the tension that’s weighed on Jensen’s shoulders since kickoff begins to ease. He’s also pleased to see that Jared hasn’t rejoined the rest of the Liverpool fans. The guy is grinning in Jensen’s direction, lips wet from the condensation on his pint glass.
“So, a new place,” Jensen ventures. “Did you just move here?”
Jared nods. “Genevieve and I got hired by DigiFocus a couple of weeks ago.” Between breaks in the action in their respective matches, Jensen learns that Jared and Genevieve were recruited away from their former digital media firm and moved here together, choosing separate apartments in the same complex close to downtown.
Jensen waves for Ian to get them each another beer. During the halftime break, Jensen steps away to find Tahmoh. Together they wander through the bar, clapping their regulars on the back and introducing themselves to new members and guests. By the time that’s done, there’s only a few minutes left before the second half kicks off.
At the Liverpool end of the bar, Jared and Genevieve are laughing with the other Reds, sweeping hand motions as they vent about certain plays in the first half. Their game remains a scoreless draw. They shouldn’t be worried, Jensen thinks. Liverpool’s had the better chances by far, and Newcastle is bound to collapse in the second half. It’s just a fact. When he looks up again, Jared is bent forward, talking only to Genevieve. She’s smirking, nudging Jared with her elbow. He suddenly looks right at Jensen, and Jensen feels like he’s just taken a kick to the gut.
A few minutes later, Jared is offering to buy their next round.
“How’d you become a Liverpool fan?”
“He asked, totally judging,” replies Jared. his eyes tipped with humor. Jensen smiles instead of bothering to deny it. “It’s all Genevieve’s fault, though. She spent two years in England during college, and came home with a new obsession. Her dad’s a big fan, too. The enthusiasm was contagious,” he says. “She can hold her own amongst all the guys.”
They both look over to where Genevieve is the center of attention amongst the Liverpool fans. Not only is she objectively beautiful, but recalling some of the comments he heard her make during the first half, she clearly knows her team; it’s no wonder the guys are so distracted.
Not Jared, though. At least not by Genevieve.
Midway through the second half, Jared asks how Jensen got into Arsenal.
“I was at kind of a low point,” he recalls, the memory no longer carrying a sting, “and I was going out more than I should have been, drinking way too much.” Jared’s eyes are soft as he listens. “Anyway, I ended up going home with this guy, and when I woke up the next morning, ridiculously hungover, he was watching the World Cup. He cooked me breakfast, started explaining the game, and I got hooked.”
He doesn’t mention that the guy in question was Tahmoh. After sleeping together just the once (and hanging out for an entire lazy weekend watching World Cup games), Jensen saw the potential for a lasting friendship. They’ve been close ever since, and Jensen was thrilled when Tahmoh finally settled down with his current boyfriend Jamie who comes to games from time to time.
“Why Arsenal though?”
Another easy answer. “After the World Cup was over, I started following the Premier League. The first full season I watched was the year Arsenal went undefeated in the league.”
“Ah,” Jared nods. “The Invincibles.”
Hearing that from Jared’s lips shouldn’t send a frisson of want down to Jensen’s toes, yet he has to repress the shiver so Jared doesn’t notice.
“Kind of difficult to root for any other team after that,” Jensen says. “Tahmoh and I founded this branch, like, seven seasons ago.”
“Just take the shot!” Genevieve’s exasperated shout cuts into their moment. Jared and Jensen turn to the Liverpool game just in time to see Coutinho do exactly that, his swift strike curling around the goalkeeper.
Before the Liverpool fans can even stop celebrating their breakthrough goal, Jensen and the rest of the Gooners hold their breath as they watch Santi Cazorla pick out Giroud from a corner kick. His header is too much for the Spurs’ keeper to deal with, and suddenly the rest of the bar is jumping and singing. Once again, Jensen leads the chant to celebrate the handsome Frenchman’s goal.
“Na na na, na-na-na-nah! Na-na-na-nah! Gir-ooooooud!”
Jensen cuts himself off after his fourth beer. Arsenal has a comfortable lead, so he allows himself to get caught up in conversations with some of the Ruby City Gooner members he hasn’t seen in a few weeks. Every now and then his eyes find Jared, that wide, white smile and fluffy brown hair easy to spot.
The game ends 2-0 in favor of Arsenal, and one goal is all that was needed for Liverpool to down Newcastle. Jensen’s spirits are high and he loses track of time until he feels a sturdy palm drop on his shoulder.
“Hey, we’ve gotta head out,” Jared says, Genevieve standing just behind him exchanging phone numbers with another Liverpool fan. “I have to meet the guys who are delivering my new desk.”
There are too many people hovering for Jensen to say what he really wants, so he settles for, “You’ll be here for the next Liverpool match, right?”
Jared nods, hair swinging over his ears. “It’s always better to watch with a crowd.” Then, with a flash of his dimples—how did Jensen miss those?—he adds, “You’ll definitely see me again.”
The first time, Jared is walking into Grey’s just as Jensen is leaving. He looks even better today—Jensen isn’t sure how that’s possible—in a slim-fitting Liverpool t-shirt and dark jeans. The sunglasses on his head keep his hair from falling across his broad forehead.
“I saw that Arsenal won,” Jared says, offering a congratulatory high-five that turns into a half-hug slash chest-bump. He notices the car keys in Jensen’s hand. “Not gonna stay to watch Liverpool? I might need the moral support.”
“Manchester City, right?”
Jared groans. “We’ll be lucky to tie.”
“Shut up,” Jensen says, knocking Jared’s shoulder. “City looked like shit last week. With Aguero injured, you might crush them.”
Jared’s expression brightens. “Hopefully Sterling gets nervous playing against his old club.”
Jensen silently curses the fact that his boss scheduled an important meeting for early Monday morning. If he didn’t have to go home and prepare, he’d absolutely stay to provide whatever kind of support Jared needs to make it through what’s sure to be a contentious match.
The following week, Arsenal and Liverpool play on different days. The chances are slim that Jared will show up when his team’s not playing, but that doesn’t stop Jensen from glancing at the door every so often, hoping to see a tall silhouette.
Next matchday, it’s Jared who’s heading out after the early game Saturday morning as Jensen pulls up. Catching sight of Jensen, Jared lopes across the parking lot and meets him as he’s stepping out of his car. He’s alone; there’s no sign of Genevieve. Jensen tried—he really tried—to get to Grey’s earlier, knowing Liverpool played before Arsenal, but burying his head under a pillow to avoid the cheery Saturday sunrise caused him to miss his alarm.
“Did y’all win?” Jensen asks, voice not up to full strength without his first cup of coffee (which Ian better have waiting for him).
Jared’s shoulders slump. “West Ham is tough this season. It was 1-1 until stoppage time when we gave away a bullshit penalty.”
“That’s the fucking worst,” Jensen says, fighting a smirk. On the inside, he’s a relieved. Liverpool’s been in good form lately and they were starting to creep up on Arsenal on points.
“Don’t pretend like you’re not a little happy about that,” Jared says. Clearly Jensen needs to work on his poker face.
Turns out Jared can’t stay for Jensen’s game. Apparently a few of his new coworkers invited him to spend a day on one of the lakes an hour away.
“I know, right?” Jared laughs. “I have a feeling I’ll need most of tomorrow to recover. Hey, you don’t want to come with me, do you?”
“To the lake? I’ve never met any of your other friends.”
“So what? I’ve only known these guys for a few weeks,” Jared points out. “Is that a yes?”
Jensen sighs. It would be so easy to give in to the desperately eager look in Jared’s leafy-green eyes. “My sister would kill me,” he admits with regret. “I’ve gotta be Uncle Jensen this afternoon and tomorrow.”
If Jared is disappointed, he doesn’t show it. “I know exactly what you mean,” he says. “My brother has two kids and when I lived nearby, I was usually the first choice for date-night sitter.”
Jensen pictures Jared being used as a jungle gym for two rambunctious children and suffers a stab of want straight to the gut. He scowls—Jared gets him aroused in the weirdest fucking ways.
“Next weekend, though,” Jensen says after Jared turns in the direction of his truck. “We play at the same time, right?” He forms it as a question like he doesn’t already know their respective schedules for the next month and a half.
When Jared calls back, “I’m pretty sure we do,” Jensen has a funny feeling that he’s just as familiar with the schedule as Jensen. That’s the thought that carries him into the already crowded bar where Ian, the patron saint of tired football fans, is already pouring coffee into an empty mug in front of the barstool Tahmoh saved for him.
Jensen tries to duck away from the accusing steel-blue gaze of Tahmoh’s boyfriend, but Jamie’s got him pinned against the bar. His birthday is in two weeks and Tahmoh needed Jensen’s help with the details of what’s going to double as a surprise engagement party. Which, obviously, is a secret Tahmoh is attempting to keep from Jamie.
Behind Jamie, Tahmoh’s expression is a blend of amusement and apprehension, smiling while his fierce stare warns Jensen not to fold like a cheap suit. Jamie eases off just enough for Jensen to slip around him, managing not to spill a drop of his Guinness.
“Get your boyfriend off of me,” Jensen pleads, stepping behind his best friend who shrugs and says, “What do you expect me to do?”
Undeterred, Jamie moves between them, hip-checking Tahmoh out of the way, his focus entirely on Jensen. Switching tactics, Jamie drops his voice.
“C’mon, Jen,” he says, one arm wrapping around Jensen’s waist. “I hate surprises. Please tell me?”
If this is what Jamie’s like when he flirts, it’s no wonder Tahmoh never stood a chance when they got together. He wants to cave—it’s those damn eyes!—but Tahmoh would straight up murder him, and getting murdered is a pretty strong deterrent.
Jensen decides to flirt back. “Sorry, baby,” he purrs, pulling Jamie against him while Tahmoh looks on, trying not to laugh. No one else in the bar gives them any flack; Jensen and Tahmoh aren’t the only gay members in the branch, and the fans who have a problem with it quickly learn to either keep it to themselves or find another bar.
“I made a promise. You’re awfully pretty when you beg, though.”
Tahmoh cracks up, the corners of his eyes crinkled with laughter. Jamie, not a man to be put off, smirks and says, “You have no idea.”
He swings around, Jamie still tucked against his side, and comes face to face with Jared, whose beaming smile begins to fade as he takes in the way Jamie is positioned under Jensen’s arm. Jared is wearing his Liverpool jersey again, paired this time with soft, threadbare jeans that Jensen imagines he might be able to rip off like tissue paper.
“Sorry,” Jared says, “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
The music playing in the tavern cuts off. Behind the bar, Ian fiddles with the remote controls until the sound system starts blaring the pre-game commentary. Jensen smiles, listening to his fellow Gooners clap as the Arsenal players walk out onto the pitch. It sours quickly when he realizes Jared’s expression has gone flat, his gaze moving around the bar to focus anywhere but on Jensen.
Before Jensen can say anything, Jamie elbows him in the side and extends his hand towards Jared.
“You must be Jared,” he says. “I’m Jamie Bamber.”
Jared appears briefly befuddled before he shakes Jamie’s hand. “Sure, yeah. So you’re…” he trails off, meeting Jensen’s eyes.
Like taking a football to the face, it finally hits Jensen.
“Oh, Jamie,” he stammers, shoving the grinning idiot towards Tahmoh. “He’s Tahmoh’s boyfriend.”
As if providing evidence to the fact, Jamie grabs Tahmoh by the hand.
Relaxing the tense line of his shoulders, Jared smiles. “Oh, okay. It’s nice to meet you.”
Jamie’s blue gaze is sharp. “So you're the guy Jensen talks—”
Tahmoh cuts him off at the same time Jensen steps in Jared’s direction and asks, “Need a beer?”
“Definitely,” Jared responds, laughing.
Instead of splitting apart to watch their respective matches, Jared and Jensen linger between supporters’ groups. There are plenty of goals to celebrate on both sides—Liverpool is already ahead in an easy match against Aston Villa while Alexis Sanchez has already scored twice for Arsenal in their home match versus Stoke City—and a lot of trash talk being fired back and forth to go along with the scoring.
“How the hell is Mertesacker still a starter?” Jared asks after the Arsenal defender fails to clear the ball for the second time.
“You don’t mess with the Big Fucking German,” Jensen counters, defending his team instinctively, pointing to the screen where Liverpool has just conceded a corner kick. “Seriously, though, you’re playing one of the worst teams in the league and they’re still managing to get shots on goal.”
“At least our goalkeeper can make the easy saves,” Jared scoffs. “Y’all should see about getting your money back for Cech.”
“Not on your life,” Jensen argues. “The man’s a legend! Bet you’d trade half your starters to have Luis Suarez back, though.”
Jared groans. “No kidding. The guy was certifiably crazy but at least he knew how to score.”
They continue ribbing one another throughout the first half. Just before the halftime whistle, one of the bar tables behind them clears out and Jared immediately claims it, waving Jensen over.
“I’m starving,” he says. “Someone at the bar ordered the Egg Sammy and it smelled amazing.”
They wind up splitting the massive breakfast sandwich. Jensen feels slightly off balance for a moment when he catches Tahmoh watching them eat with an up-to-no-good expression on his face. Tahmoh leans down so that Jamie can whisper something in his ear, then tosses Jensen a wink. Obviously he's passed on all of Jensen's comments about Jared to his boyfriend; the two of them remain focused on Jensen and Jared throughout the halftime report, quietly conspiring.
Jensen darts into the men's room during the last commercial break before the game resumes. All that beer has to go somewhere, after all. His phone chimes as he's drying off his hands, his attention on his text messages instead of the hallway, which explains why he suddenly stumbles into a wall of muscle.
“Excuse me, I—” He cuts himself off when he sees the way Jared is grinning. It’s a bit of a struggle to realign his thoughts away from the sense memory of Jared’s solid chest against his own.
“You know Arsenal plays at Liverpool next Saturday.”
The fact that Jensen’s had the match highlighted in his calendar since the week they met isn’t something Jared ever needs to know.
Jared nods. “It’s pretty obvious we need to have some sort of bet, right?”
That’s definitely something Jensen can work with. “What were you thinking? Beer for a month?” he suggests, more ideas already taking shape. “Loser has to buy the winner a jersey of his choice? Or maybe the loser has to buy the winner’s jersey and wear it,” he says, picturing the delicious sight of Jared in a proper Arsenal jersey. He’d look fantastic in the gold and navy away kit.
“Actually, I was thinking blowjobs.”
If Jensen was drinking a beer, he would’ve choked on it. As it is, his breath sticks in his throat and he sputters until the whole lung-throat-mouth system rights itself. Jared continues to smirk, utterly nonplussed.
“You can’t tell me you haven’t thought about it,” Jared says.
“I remember the way you looked at me the first time I walked in here. Like you were imagining your dick in my mouth.”
Jensen’s brain might be liquefying, but he has enough of a grip to remember that Jared is one hundred percent right. Jared’s mouth has taken top-billing in several of his recent go-to fantasies when he felt the urge to jack off.
“So what do you say?”
Jensen glances towards the bar to make sure no one is about to invade their unexpectedly naughty hallway discussion.
“Just so we’re clear,” he manages with a slow tongue, “you want to bet blowjobs?”
“Winner’s choice,” Jared explains.
Jensen frowns. “Choice of what?”
“Time. Place. Whose dick gets sucked.”
“Sounds fair,” Jensen mutters, which is a mild way of saying he thinks it’s the greatest wager ever posed in the history of sports betting. “Shake on it?”
Jared must think a handshake isn’t sufficient given the terms of the wager, which is why the next thing Jensen feels is Jared’s mouth on his, hard lips leaving an impression on Jensen’s before he pulls away just as suddenly, grinning from ear to ear, dimples carved into his cheeks.
The rest of the game is a blur for Jensen. He accepts another beer from Ian and lets Jamie drag him into an open space near the bar, keeping him away from the Liverpool fans. A good thing, no doubt, because Jensen doesn’t know if he’d be able to stand next to Jared for another forty-five minutes and function like a normal human being while his mind remains stuck on the shape of Jared’s mouth when he brought up the idea of having Jensen’s dick in it.
Arsenal does win, Jensen knows that much. Tahmoh is singing and the rest of the crowd joins in when the final whistle blows. Jared and Genevieve, who showed up during halftime, and the other Liverpool fans are celebrating, too, and the bar volume is suddenly louder than it’s been all morning.
There are a thousand ways Jensen could interpret the devilish twist to Jared’s lips as he and Genevieve are leaving the bar. All he can think about is the wager. Jamie pokes him in the ribs when he’s gone on staring at the door for too long, his brain caught in a loop. He’s not exactly used to dealing with things like this during matches. Sure, he’s gotten aroused by a brilliantly taken free kick (and anyone who says they haven’t is lying), or by the way Olivier Giroud intimately cuddles his teammates after scoring.
He’s never crossed into wantsexnow like this before. Besides Tahmoh, the only other gay men in the Ruby City Gooners are Nigel and Chris, who’ve been following Arsenal since before Jensen was born. Jensen doesn’t get hit on during game, let alone propositioned (albeit through an enticing wager).
Now that the possibility is almost guaranteed, Jensen realizes that sex in relation to an Arsenal match sounds fucking fantastic.
It creeps up on Jensen throughout the week. He’s at work when Tahmoh sends him a link to yet another Arsenal vs. Liverpool match preview, and instead of concentrating on the content, Jensen can only think about what might happen after the final whistle. The next day, scrolling through the notifications on Ruby City Gooners’ Facebook page, Jensen sees that Jared liked the group a few days ago, and there, on Tahmoh’s clever graphic announcing the match, he’s posted a comment consisting of three emojis: a soccer ball, a banana, and a wink.
Jensen will forever feel the mortification of getting a semi at his desk from fucking emojis.
Then, as if life wasn’t difficult enough, the texts start. Jared must know better than to devolve into full-on sexting, but his messages rapidly go from banter to innuendo. Jensen fires back the best he can, but every text leaves him dizzy with want.
He fills Tahmoh in on his ordeal while they’re over at Jamie’s house playing FIFA 16.
“I could always punch you in the dick,” Tahmoh offers while, on the screen, a digital representation of Gareth Bale heads the ball past Jensen’s keeper.
“What the hell, man?” Jensen screeches, pausing the game.
Tahmoh shrugs. “You’ll be too distracted by the pain to get turned on.”
Jensen doesn’t think it’s possible, but Jamie is even less sympathetic.
“So the hottest guy you’ve ever had the chance to screw—”
Tahmoh chokes on his coffee. “Hey!”
“Excluding you, ‘Moh, obviously,” Jamie concedes before getting back on Jensen’s case. “So a blowjob is going to happen, regardless of who wins?”
“Winner’s choice.” When Jensen repeats Jared’s explanation, Jamie groans.
“What the fuck are you whining about, then? You either get to have the guy you won’t stop talking about on his knees, or you get to suck his dick. You’ll be happy, no matter what, because I know how much you love dick, Jensen. Tahmoh’s told me—”
“I don’t want to know what he’s told you!”
Once Tahmoh stops laughing, he reaches over and claps Jensen on the back. “I don’t know why you’re so worried. Jared’s already put sex on the table. You don’t have to wonder whether or not he’s interested. Just relax, Jen.”
It’s not Jared’s interest that worries him, however. Rather, it’s the length of it.
His interest. Not his dick. Though he’d be lying if he said he’s not curious about that, too.
It’s just that Jared failed to mention what comes after the conclusion of their bet, and when Jensen considers the possibility that there might not be an after, something not-so-pleasant starts churning in his stomach.
He does his best to take Tahmoh’s advice—proving he might actually be crazy—and relax, but when Saturday morning comes, Jensen is awake before his alarm goes off, staring wide-eyed at the ceiling and wondering if he should stay in bed until Monday, instead.
When his phone chimes, Jensen prays it’s not Jared. The deities grant his wish, because it’s from Tahmoh.
Good morning. Southampton’s kicking the shit out of Sp*rs.
Jensen smiles until the next message pops up.
Get out of bed. If you don’t show up, Jamie says he’ll give Jared your address.
That doesn’t sound too threatening, Jensen thinks.
And he’ll tell Jared that you’ll be waiting for him wearing nothing but lace panties and football socks.
Jensen’s reply is succinct yet appropriate.
After a shower that’s more thorough than what he’d normally bother with before a game, Jensen spends too long picking out which Arsenal jersey to wear, finally settling on his newest, the 2015/16 navy and gold away jersey. Not only do the colors and subtle diamond pattern look good on him, but despite ordering his regular size, this jersey (in true Arsenal fashion), is tight enough that Jensen’s nipples show through no matter what he wears underneath.
Jensen walks into Grey’s just in time to watch the Tottenham players trudging off the field as Southampton celebrate their 3-1 victory. Ian pours Jensen a coffee before he even has to ask, and he finally begins to relax.
The routine is comfortable. Jensen greets Ruby City members as they arrive in ones and twos, sips his coffee, and tries not to think about what’s going to happen after ninety minutes of football. Grey’s fills up the closer they get to kickoff, fans from two clubs coming together. Still there’s no sign of Jared. Jensen tamps down on the panic, lets the arrival of Tahmoh and Jamie distract him while the teams emerge from the tunnel and take the field. From where he’s comfortably tucked up against Tahmoh’s side, Jamie catches Jensen’s eye and winks. No wonder his friends nearly missed kickoff.
“Looks like they had a good morning.”
Jensen grabs the bar to keep from toppling off his stool. He turns to find Jared at his shoulder, wearing a bright white Liverpool jersey and a grin.
“When did you sneak in?”
“Came in off the patio,” he explains, nodding towards the far door. “My car wouldn’t start. Gen dropped me off on her way to see her parents. I couldn’t miss this game—so much at stake.”
“In the league, obviously,” Jared adds with a smirk. “That seat taken?”
When Jensen saves a seat at the bar, people know better than to attempt sitting down. Ian would chase them off—Jensen tips him way too generously.
What follows is an excruciating test of patience that Jensen fails. In multiple ways. He’s not cut out for waiting. The game is intense, which makes everything worse. Each time there’s a near miss, a corner kick, or a blatant foul, Jared finds a way to touch him. His wrist, his shoulder, just above his knee. The sum of it is that, by halftime, Jensen is strung out on fleeting touches, drunk off Jared’s attention. It’s not enough.
“Frustrating, huh?” Tahmoh claps Jensen on the shoulder, nearly causing him to leap out of his skin.
“You have no idea,” he grumbles.
“I was having a pretty good time,” Jared chimes in, licking his lips. “Watching, I mean.”
Behind Tahmoh, Jamie is trying to choke back his laughter. Asshole.
Jensen’s best friend is clearly eager to dissect the first half, single-minded in the way of all true fans. Normally Jensen would be just as talkative, if he wasn’t having so much difficulty controlling his tongue.
“We were stuck playing in the midfield too often,” Tahmoh says. “Sanchez and Cazorla just couldn’t penetrate the back line.”
Jared agrees. “Definitely not enough penetration.”
“We couldn’t get the ball back once we lost possession—that’s gonna come back and bite us in the ass.”
Beneath the bar, Jared’s hand creeps back onto Jensen’s leg.
“Gotta work on that man-to-man coverage.”
“It’s like they’re playing for a draw,” Tahmoh complains, “and that pisses me off. Don’t they want to score?”
A firm squeeze, then, “Someone is definitely going to score, just gotta be patient.”
Tahmoh huffs, oblivious when it comes to anything other than the game on the screen. “We can’t afford to waste anymore chances.”
“You won’t,” Jared says, looking at Jensen. “I’m pretty sure about that.”
The pressure on Jensen’s thigh increases. Between that grip, the double-edged commentary from his friends, and the way Jared’s gaze feels too intense in the moment, Jensen needs to get away from the bar. He slides off his stool while the other three are debating the brunch menu and rushes into the empty restroom hallway.
He takes refuge in his temporary safe haven until he’s blanketed by a long shadow.
“You okay?” Jared asks in a tone that’s softer than what Jensen expects, given what he was saying at the bar.
“I just needed a minute.”
Jared rubs the back of his neck, glancing down the hall to make sure they’re alone before he says, “I kinda know what you mean.” His hazel gaze is quick, darting. Following it is like trying to watch a series of rapid passes on the pitch. “Listen, if you want to call this off—”
“I never said that. Are you saying that?”
“Not at all, but if it’s making you uncomfortable…”
“I’m uncomfortable because every time you open your mouth, I want to stick my dick in it,” Jensen mutters through his teeth.
Jared stares at him in silence. His eyes have taken on a rich, deep golden color. Far from being offended, he looks like he’s willing to let Jensen do just that. He’s breathing hard through parted lips, and Jensen can only hold himself back for so long before he’s leaning up to kiss Jared. There’s not much finesse in the kiss thanks to the combination of nerves and anticipation. Not that Jensen minds—he’s been thinking about Jared’s lips since they made the bet last week.
A round of singing from the bar reminds Jensen that they’re not alone. He breaks away reluctantly, appreciating the way Jared’s mouth is wet and bitten-pink.
“We can survive the second half, right?”
“Or we could leave now,” Jared suggests.
“We made this bet,” Jensen says, “we’re seeing it through.”
“I’m not gonna make it easy on you.”
As they head back to their seats, Jensen thinks he’d be disappointed if Jared did.
Now, as the game progresses into stoppage time, Jared is standing behind Jensen, his hands on Jensen’s shoulders like a promise of what’s to come. If it wasn’t for that physical contact, Jensen would’ve forgotten all about the bet. For a moment, none of that matters. Jensen just wants Arsenal to fucking score.
A tense silence falls over the crowd as Arsenal’s goalkeeper quickly rolls the ball back into play after Liverpool fails to score on a corner kick attempt. Alexis Sanchez is quick to take control of the ball, dribbling past a Liverpool player until he’s breaking towards the Liverpool goal, Giroud and Ozil making up ground on the wings.
Giroud cuts inside his defender and Alexis picks his head up to see the run. Like everyone else in the room, Jensen holds his breath as Alexis crosses the ball into the box with pace.
The tall Frenchman is there to meet it, heading the ball straight past Liverpool’s keeper.
Jensen starts screaming. He’s not the only one, either. The entire crowd, save the Liverpool fans, are on their feet with their hands in the air. He loses Jared in the ensuing melee, hugging fellow Gooners left and right until someone starts chanting Giroud’s song. Tahmoh throws his arm around Jensen’s shoulders, his grin a mile wide.
The chaos lasts until the final whistle blows. He won’t remember anything that happened on the field after Giroud’s goal. Arsenal didn’t lose; that’s all that matters.
As fans leave or break off into groups to rehash the pulse-pounding second half over another round of drinks, Jensen spins and finds Jared smiling at him.
“A draw,” Jared sighs, “we didn’t plan for that.”
“No loser?” Jensen asks.
Jared shrugs. “No winner, either.”
“So what does this mean?” Their teams won’t play each other again for months, and Jensen’s been too consumed by this bet and its consequences to simply let it go.
“I don’t know,” Jared says, and then he winks. “We should probably have another drink and talk about it. At my place.”
That’s a plan Jensen can get behind. Or get on top of—whatever Jared wants.
They settle their tabs quickly, Jensen trying to ignore Tahmoh and Jamie. Both are congratulatory and approving, but where Jamie’s expression is full of mocking humor, Tahmoh’s shows the barest hint of concern.
Jensen figures he’ll deal with his protective best friend later, sometime when he’s not about to hook up with the man of his (very dirty) dreams.
“Didn’t know you were a Star Wars fan,” Jensen comments, noting the framed deco-inspired art prints around the room.
Jared hands him a bottled beer and smiles fondly. “I work at a tech company. They don’t hire someone unless they know Star Wars trivia.”
“Definitely. Plus, she’s the best Warcraft player I’ve ever met. You don’t want to mess with her.”
It’s a little sobering for Jensen to realize that there’s more to Jared than he knows. Things he hopes he’s given a chance to learn after their bet is settled.
Speaking of which…
“I guess we should’ve thought about a draw,” Jensen says. Feels like the room is suddenly ten degrees warmer when Jared meets his direct gaze.
“Maybe this is for the best,” Jared offers, approaching deliberately, bringing his long, lean frame alongside Jensen’s. “There might be a way we can both get what we want.”
“Yeah? What were you gonna ask for if you won?”
Jensen has thought about it at least a dozen times and he’s desperate to hear what scenarios revved Jared’s engine. He lets Jared take the bottle from his hands and set it on the counter behind them. They’ve only stood like this twice before. Jensen only has to lean up for their lips to meet. Inches apart, he can see Jared’s pupils dilate as lust consumes them both.
“I would’ve asked you to push me to my knees. Then you’d tell me to pull out your cock.”
Jensen watches his Adam’s apple bob, struck speechless by the visual Jared’s painting.
“All I could think about was sucking you down, listening to you moan and telling me how good I looked with your dick in my mouth.”
Add that to the list of things Jensen didn’t know about Jared: his ability to light a fire with nothing but words.
“What did you want?’ Jared asks, like he hasn’t reduced Jensen’s control to ash.
“Doesn’t matter,” Jensen tells him. “I’m all about what you want right now.”
Jared smirks. “How noble.”
“Shut up and get on your knees.”
“Not yet,” Jared mutters against his lips. “That’s not the only thing I want.”
The sensation of Jared’s mouth brushing Jensen’s borders on romantic, more intimate than what they’ve shared at the bar. Jensen tips his head, demanding more, and Jared gives it, the two of them knocking into the counter as they rush to touch one another.
Jensen’s Arsenal jersey is so tight, it feels like Jared’s hands are directly touching his skin, outlining the musculature Jensen tries to maintain with his three-times-a-week visits to the gym. His nipples are hard when Jared brushes his thumbs across them, sending a wave of arousal down to his cock.
They grind against one another right there in Jared’s kitchen. Jared exploits his newfound knowledge, keeping light pressure on Jensen’s nipples through his jersey until Jensen’s cock can’t get any harder. Jensen fights back with lips, tongue, and teeth, ensuring that Jared’s neck bears his marks from chin to shoulder. He couldn’t care less if Jared has to show up at work on Monday still wearing the evidence of Jensen’s claim. If he only has Jared for one day, Jensen plans to make the most of it.
“I believe you said something about being on your knees,” Jensen whispers, tugging the flesh of Jared’s ear between his teeth.
“Bedroom, now,” Jared says, “because you won’t be able to walk when I’m through with you.”
Jensen couldn’t care less where they end up, so long as his cock ends up in Jared’s mouth. Jared can’t keep his hands to himself, groping Jensen’s chest through his jersey as they stumble their way towards Jared’s bedroom. The only piece of decor Jensen notes before Jared pushes him back onto the bed is a framed match-day program from Anfield bearing a looping signature in black marker.
“Did you get Steven Gerrard’s autograph?” he asks as Jared’s fingers set to work on his pants.
Jared doesn’t look up, consumed by a single objective. “Went to a game with Genevieve last year. She had players signing whatever she wanted.”
“Who’d they play?”
“Fuck, Jensen,” Jared curses, shoving Jensen’s pants down over his hips. “Do you want to talk about that game or do you want me to suck your cock?”
Jensen laughs. “By all means, don’t let me stop you.”
A sound that’s half relief, half exasperation comes from Jared as he finally gets Jensen’s cock out in the open. Jensen’s never thought his size was anything to be ashamed of, but the way Jared looks at his hard length makes him want to preen. Like Jared’s never seen anything he wants to put in his mouth more.
Jared teases him briefly, soft touches circling closer and closer to the base of his shaft, running gentle fingers through Jensen’s pubic hair. It’s thorough, intimate. Something Jensen isn’t used to when it comes to hooking up. He arches his back, pressing his hips into Jared’s hands, desperate to go further. Feels like he’s been on edge for weeks as this game played out. Going back and forth, flirting the length of the midfield, until now, when Jared is making a drive towards goal.
“Let me just get a condom.”
Jensen hisses. “Shit, yeah. Right. Sorry, I didn’t—”
Jared winks as he pushes up from the bed. “Safety first.”
Jensen deserves a yellow card for not thinking about it. Their banter withstanding, outside of the bar, he barely knows Jared.
“Vanilla Ice Cream,” Jared says, brandishing a flavored condom in its metallic brown foil. “I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth.”
Fuck. Jared should just kill Jensen now, because he doesn’t know if he can take much more of Jared’s clever mouth. He hasn’t even had the pleasure of feeling it around him yet, and he’s nearly a goner.
“Sounds good to me,” he manages to say, eyes wide as Jared’s fingers make short work of the foil wrapping. Part of him is grateful for the barrier that’s going to be between his skin and Jared’s mouth. The potential for embarrassment is off the charts. Jensen is willing to try anything that gives him a chance to last longer.
Less than sixty seconds later, Jensen realizes that he’s a complete idiot.
Jared fits the condom over Jensen’s cock with almost no fuss, driven by a single-minded focus that Jensen envies. He licks his lips purely for Jensen’s benefit before dropping down, his lips flirting around the crown as Jensen tries to push his hips against Jared’s grip.
Normally, when Jensen’s partners used condoms to blow him, the sensations were dull, every shot off target. He would spend his time fantasizing about how it might feel without a layer in between, using those images to get off rather than the reality of thrusting into a willing mouth.
Not with Jared. Jensen’s unprepared for the way Jared’s mouth seals around his cock, every swipe of his tongue shooting straight up Jensen’s spine. He applies himself to the blowjob as if there’s nothing else in the world he wants, mouth hot and unrelenting. It ought to be impossible with the condom between them, but Jensen can almost feel how wet Jared’s mouth is around him, the pressure from his tongue licking around the tip.
“You weren’t kidding,” Jensen groans, “you look fucking pretty with my cock in your mouth.”
That’s clearly the right thing to say. With a wanton moan, Jared doubles his efforts, teasing Jensen with his fingers while his tongue moves to rub up and down the length of Jensen’s dick.
Jensen wants to grab Jared’s shoulders and haul him up, if only to gain a split-second of relief. Taste the artificial vanilla on Jared’s lips, give himself a chance to take a deep breath, though it would do little to slow the rampage in his blood. It’s not hard to imagine having this beyond today, learning the texture of Jared’s mouth, the weaknesses in his body, the best strategies to take him apart.
Don’t get attached.
It ought to be his mantra, but Jensen’s heart won’t cooperate. It has severed all ties with Jensen’s common sense, reveling in the idea of getting to know Jared, settling down with him.
It was just a bet. Remember that.
The only problem is that Jensen is having trouble remembering anything at this point, dedicated to fighting the urge to come too quickly. Jared knows exactly how to touch him, his hands strong and sure around Jensen’s hips, his thighs, between his legs. It would be so easy for Jensen to spread his legs, take this even further. To ask Jared for more.
With no warning, Jensen’s cock slides into Jared’s throat. The feeling is indescribable. If Jensen could think right now, he’d only be able to recall one guy who was willing and able to deepthroat his dick. And if he could recall that, he’d know there was no comparison. Jared is the star here, worth everything that Jensen could offer.
It no longer matters what Jensen wanted out of their bet; this beats the majority of his fantasies. Hoping to live up to Jared’s desires, Jensen can do nothing but moan for him, incoherent sounds that must mean something to Jared, because he sucks even harder, his fingers leaving bruises where they dig into the muscle of Jensen’s thighs.
Jensen has an equally tight grip on Jared, clinging to his broad shoulders through his white jersey, knowing that if it rips in his hands, he’ll have to buy Jared another one.
Which is absolutely unacceptable, of course. Jensen refuses to spend good money on a Liverpool kit.
Just as suddenly, his dick is no longer stretching Jared’s throat. Jensen tries to take a breath, find his footing, but it’s just a ruse. Jared’s tongue whips across the underside of his cock, sweeping from side to side as it moves closer and closer to the head. Jensen tries to move with him, to hold out for just a few more minutes, but Jared has thoroughly battered through his defense. With nothing more than a hand around the base of his cock and Jared’s tongue working some sort of magic, Jensen comes. He’s so blissed out he doesn’t even register the loss of heat when Jared pulls off, his fingers swift and nimble as he removes the condom.
As if that wasn’t enough, Jensen glances down just in time to catch the look on Jared’s face as the last drops of come land on Jensen’s stomach. It’s a look of pure heat, pure want, and Jensen knows that he won’t be able to keep his heart from interfering. He’s one hundred percent committed to making sure this relationship goes beyond this afternoon.
It takes a moment for Jensen to catch his breath, long seconds spent watching the downsweep of Jared’s eyelashes against his cheek when he blinks dazedly.
“Take me out of the game, coach,” Jensen pants. “I’m done.”
Jared laughs against Jensen’s thigh, warm breath ghosting over his skin.
“I plan on returning the favor,” Jensen swears, attempting to roll over. Jared pushes himself further up the bed until they’re gazing directly at one another.
They look ridiculous, Jensen realizes. Jared is still wearing all of his clothing, although his beloved jersey has suffered at Jensen’s hands. Jensen’s pants are stuck around around his knees, his own jersey rucked up around his stomach. High enough that he didn’t get any come on it, thank goodness.
He’s about to share a smile with Jared when he notices the expression on his face. Hope in the upturned corners of his mouth and the shine of his eyes, arousal in the flush that spreads from cheek to cheek and across the bridge of his nose.
“You don’t have to,” Jared says, although his body curves in Jensen’s direction. “The bet is over.”
“Screw the bet,” Jensen mutters, bringing his lips close to Jared’s. He kicks caution to the wind. “You could’ve taken me home the first day we met.”
Jared’s mouth opens to form a response, but Jensen is there to kiss him back into silence. There’s a small part of him that is worried about what Jared might have said, but the greater part couldn’t resist kissing him for another second.
It’s as good as before. Scratch that, it’s better. With his own feelings out there, Jensen no longer needs to hide his intentions. He can kiss Jared and want more, and hopefully leave Jared wanting more, too.
Realizing he’s trapped by Jared’s knee pressing down on his half-pulled down pants, Jensen pushes him away with a grin, stripping out of his jersey before staining becomes a problem.
“You weren’t hiding much with that jersey, but damn.” Jared whistles. “I’m pretty sure you mentioned something about reciprocating?”
Jensen crawls towards him once he’s kicked his jeans and underwear to the floor.
“If you ever shut your mouth—”
“I thought I showed you the best way to do that.”
Jared smirks, and a sharp spike of lust hits Jensen square in the chest. He reclaims Jared’s mouth, kissing that fiendish smile into submission, as frantic hands free Jared’s cock from its cloth confines. Jensen’s pleased to see that Jared is full and flushed, far exceeding the mental picture Jensen was using for his nightly solo sessions.
Now it’s only a matter of deciding how to return the favor. Jared’s chest heaves as he crosses his arms and pulls off his jersey, head falling back onto the mattress with his hair fanned out in every direction. Looking down at Jared’s wide sprawl, Jensen is struck by his options. He could use his mouth, show Jared that he’s not the only one with a remarkable oral skill set. Or he could take them all the way. Jensen likes getting fucked every now and then; seeing Jared’s cock, he has a feeling he would love it. He wants to leave something for later, perhaps for a day in the (hopefully) near future.
Right this second, he wants to do something they can build on. That, and he can’t resist feeling Jared’s cock filling his fist, mapping him out by touch.
The handjob is quick and intense. Jared’s been turned on since the kitchen, fully hard since going down on Jensen. In a matter of minutes, Jensen is able to wring an orgasm out of him, while, at the same time, watching Jared’s face twist in pleasure before going slack in satisfaction.
Jensen finds himself lying naked next to Jared as he catches his breath. The silence is comfortable, no pressure to fill dead air with questions or trivialities. Just being beside him, desires fulfilled (for the moment, anyway), is better than nice. Eventually, though, one of them has to say something.
Even if it’s totally unexpected.
“I’ve got two steaks in the fridge.”
Jensen looks over and finds Jared staring at the ceiling. He won’t meet Jensen’s gaze.
“And I’m pretty sure the United game only kicked off, like, twenty minutes ago, if you want to watch.”
It’s sweet, the way Jared is talking around what he wants. This from the man who told Jensen (without blushing) how he envisioned himself sucking Jensen’s cock.
“Are you asking me to stay and hang out?”
Jared smiles, finally looking over. “I’m coming up with ways to keep you occupied until we can do that again.”
“You could’ve just said that,” Jensen tells him, shuffling closer so he can feel Jared’s warm skin. “But I won’t say no to football and steak.”
“A man after my own heart,” Jared sighs, squeezing Jensen’s thigh before hauling his long body off the bed and striding into the adjoining bathroom.
“We never really settled the bet,” Jared muses as the Manchester United game enters stoppage time. “No winner, no loser.”
Jensen grins. “I felt like a winner.”
That earns him a short, hearty laugh.
“Still, we should think of something,” Jensen says.
Jared reaches across the sofa and settles his hand low on Jensen’s stomach, thumb sliding back and forth across the fabric of his jersey.
“I have an idea about that…”
His jersey draws quite a bit of attention from the other Ruby City Gooners, most of it good-natured teasing (and Jensen doesn’t need to hide that it’s the result of a bet), but he still feels awkward and uncomfortable. Enough so that he starts wondering why he let Jared talk him into this.
The tavern door opens and Jared walks in alongside Genevieve. One look is all it takes for Jensen to remember why this was worth enduring the stares and the mocking.
Jared is wearing Jensen’s home jersey, classic Arsenal red with white stripes accentuating the breadth of his shoulders. The tapered fit shows off his torso in glorious fashion. Jensen’s mouth is watering, and it’s not in anticipation of the cold beer Ian sets on the bar in front of him.
He briefly entertains the thought of grabbing Jared and rushing home where he can truly appreciate the sight of Jared wearing the colors of his beloved team. Spin each and every one of his fantasies into reality.
There are games to be played, however. Genevieve is already ordering their drinks, leaving Jared to slide into the space Jensen has reserved for him, perfectly positioned between the screens broadcasting the Arsenal match and those showing Liverpool.
They don’t have to hide (Tahmoh and Jamie have blazed a trail when it comes to public displays of affection), but Jared and Jensen share a secret smile when Jared reaches for his hand.
The fantasies can wait. Jared’s coming home with him, and that’s enough.
Taking his role as a temporary Arsenal fan seriously, it’s Jared who raises a beer to the crowd of Gooners, taking one deep breath before shouting at the top of his lungs…
“We love you Arsenal, we do! We love you Arsenal, we do!”
And as the other fans join in, Jensen is speechless, knowing somewhere deep in his heart that he’s already in love.
Even if Jared is a Liverpool fan.
(No one is perfect.)
(Jensen can always change his mind.)