A short ficlet in apology for my absence. Trying out unusual combos…any prompts or requests?? :)
The whistle blows, cheers erupt; elation and dejection in equal measures shared. Blue and red blurs lope off the pitch with raucous cheers and barely restrained tears. Behind the crunching boots and sweat-slicked bodies, the well trodden pitch quickly empties save for a swearing silhouette behind the goal posts.
Bent double, Julian’s hands – when not waving off any and all offered assistance - are clasped firmly to his face. Oozing past clutching fingertips, merciless red stains blossom hungrily across his soccer shirt and the brunette’s language is far from polite as he curses the goaler of St. Patrick’s. The six foot neanderthal had kicked off the ball in his fury at letting the fifth, deciding goal chip over his shoulder, and it was just Julian’s luck that he had been right in its path as the umpire called the game. If his nose was broken, heads would roll.
The tired thud of sneakers echoes across turf, and next moment a strong arm is around his shoulders and pulling him in the presumed direction of the changing rooms. Blinking away sweat, Julian glances sideways into the dark eyes of his team captain; briefly registers their concern as they pass rooms of shouting, over-excited males – till at last, an empty corner is found and the brunette slumps gratefully onto the bench. His helper disappears for a long moment in which Julian wonders whether it would be better to dramatically bleed to death on the mud-trampled floor of the changing room than to appear in public with a disfigured profile. At least the bloody scene could be considered aesthetically pleasing in its own macabre fashion. Julian Larson with a swollen face? Less so.
Just as he’s wondering whether Alex Pettyfer would show up to his funeral, team captain Derek reappears by his side with a wad of tissues and a bottle of disinfectant. Impervious to the boy’s whimpered 'lebbe dieee', he impatiently begins swabbing at the blood. After his feeble attempts to wriggle away are thwarted, Julian resigns himself to the gentle dabs and biting sting, inwardly grateful that the smeared tear tracks go unmentioned.
The pile of blood soaked tissues tumbles across the linoleum tiles as the room slowly empties, the victors keen to hurry off to the after party. As the door swings closed a final time, Derek leans back to have a better look at the newly cleaned up Julian. Under the scrutiny, the brunette gingerly rubs the tip of his nose before grinning lopsidedly.
'What's the verdict doc? Am I gonna die?' The expected eyeroll greets him in response.
'Somehow I think you'll live to be an ass another day. You've got a graze here..(‘ow!’)…but I don’t think it’s actually broken.’
'You sure? It feels normal?'
Derek’s hand is warm in his as he pulls it to his face, sliding off the bench to where the captain is kneeling in front of him.
'Yes pretty boy, you're going to be fine'. The boy's voice is low, breathier than usual, and his fingertips seem to trail from the graze across Julian's cheekbone of their own accord.
Later they would wave it off, Derek blaming it on the adrenaline rush of the game, Julian on the accident. At the time, though, it seemed perfectly normal to lean in – slowly, gently – and close the space between them. To let lips part and fingers tug at team shirts beneath the phosphorescent glow of the abandoned changing room. To crash back against the lockers none too carefully as the disinfectant bottle rolls off unheeded. To clutch; to curse; to crave.
Showered, in bed – back to the wall or eyes to the ceiling, the hazy memory would give way to restless dreams of a moment. A kiss. Metal on the tongue, and the copper taste of blood.
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