The fire that doesn't burn (1/2)
The fire that doesn't burn
Stan is cooking, his hands moving quickly, knowing perfectly what they have to do; and Roger is sure those pancakes will be perfect as usual, as they always are...
The fire that doesn't burn
Stan is cooking, his hands moving quickly, knowing perfectly what they have to do; and Roger is sure those pancakes will be perfect as usual, as they always are when he’s invited at Stan’s home to spend some days together. On the radio there’s some U2 song that Stan loves and that Roger can’t name but knows it calms Stan before a match. Myla and Charlene are disputing on a toy they won’t care about anymore in five minutes, but that right now is the most important thing on Earth, while Alexia is quietly drinking her orange juice.
Put like this, everything is at its own place. Except anything is.
(or, Roger wakes up in a family that isn’t his.)
-I blame this on a series of things: the course of constitutional law, where we discussed language policy in Switzerland, something that got my mind starting to wander at how Stan and Roger communicate (I know, they speak in French. But French isn’t Roger’s first language, so I always feeling that for him it’s actually always a little difficult to use it, even if he’s been speaking it for so long – you know, that’s probably just my inner linguist speaking); the last Easter evening, spent watching Christmas movies (yes, for real) like “The family man”, which gave me the starting point of this all; the last Roland Garros, because yes (still not over the fact I missed Wawrinka-Murray because of university, seriously);
-the story is set around April of this year (actually, this is a completely useless information);
-title and quotes all over the story are borrowed from the song “Odio le favole” by Ermal Meta, which is actually another thing that I blame for the genesis of this story;
-English is not my first language, so please forgive my mistakes. (Also, it's unbeta'd, so every mistake is mine.)
- check the amazing playlist that thesaddestboner, who also created the beautiful art, made for this work because it's just perfect! You can find it @ https://thesaddestboner.dreamwidth.org/800393.html
-written for the round 5 of RPF Big Bang Challange.
“I don't know if you miss me,
I miss you and you don't know it.”
When Roger wakes up, he’s so buried in a pleasant, warm feeling, all wrapped up in his covers, that at first he doesn’t realize anything. He is in those first moments when you’ve just woken up and before conscience kicks in, everything is fine, you don’t remember anything, you don’t think of anything, you’re just feeling well. Then, unexpected, a feeling startles him. The feeling of the covers on his body is strange; he feels them on his entire body, as if he was naked, except for his briefs. And he totally doesn’t remember falling asleep nearly naked; actually, he remembers going to bed alone because of an headache while Mirka and his kids were watching a cartoon on the television.
He opens his eyes and see the wall in front of him, of a light shade of orange. Roger is sure that, at his home, the bedroom has light blue walls, and he is also sure he didn’t fall asleep in some hotel.
He turns around to see a sleeping figure next to him, warm, almost all under the covers, and a sigh of relief escapes his lips, knowing that Mirka will have an explanation for everything. She always has. Roger moves his arm toward her to caress his hair, and there stops, in shock. He might not be a hundred percent sure about the colour of the walls of his bedroom (he is, actually, but there might be a chance the morning light is colouring the room in some strange way, or, at least, he thinks it might be possible), but he can’t be wrong about this, Mirka has long hair, long and brown and he loves to card his fingers through them and gently wake her up in the mornings. What he’s just touched, though, are short hair. And it doesn’t make sense at all.
Then the figure stirs and moves and Roger’s eyes go completely opened in shock as he recognize the yawning body next to his. It can’t be true, he thinks. I must be still asleep. Because next to him there’s Stan, his best friend, and there is no way he’s naked in a bed with Stanislas Wawrinka. And, especially, the other man doesn’t seem at all having a problem with being in bed with Roger, his friend Roger Federer, since he was deeply asleep and now that the touch of Roger’s hand awoke him, he’s just not bothered by his presence.
«Why are you waking me up today too, it’s Sunday and we went to bed late, let me sleep some more, I’m begging you...», grunts Stan, slowly and messy, approaching him and not opening his eyes. Roger freezes as Stan’s hair touch his bare chest.
«Stan...», he murmurs, careful not to touch him and moving back a little, so that his head isn’t anymore touching him. «Stan», he repeats, louder.
«Mmm», just answers him, a hint of annoyance in the background. Only now Stan opens his eyes and watch him directly in his eyes, with something so soft in them that makes Roger’s stomach clench. It’s not what he expects when it comes to Stan, that’s for sure. «You are the most annoying person of this entire world when it’s morning, Roger. Seven millions of people on this Earth, and I got to end up with one who can’t let other people sleep when he’s awake. I swear this is enough Purgatory for me to go straight to Paradise when I’m dead.»
Then, moving naturally, as if it’s something he always does, he stretches his neck and gives him a kiss, nothing more than a slight brush of lips, and Roger doesn’t have the strength to do absolutely anything; if possible, he’s in even more shock than before.
«Roger? Are you not feeling well?», asks Stan, worried at the complete lack of any type of reaction from Roger, who doesn’t answer, again, and looks frozen. «Roger?», asks again Stan, trying to get a grip on his hand. But, before he succeeds, Roger is jumping out of the bed and looking at him with what seems to be actual fear in his eyes, and Stan frowns at his behaviour.
«Where am I?», asks Roger, and he can feel his own voice trembling.
«Roger, did you go out of your head while sleeping? Where do you think you can be, if not in our home?»
Our. «O-our. Our home. We don’t have a home, Stan.»
The younger frowns. «What the hell are you babbling, Roger. Don’t say bullshit, it’s freaking early in the morning and you know I need time and a cup of coffee to start my brain when you wake me up this early.»
«No, I don’t know your brain in the morning, Stan, I don’t!», he replies, and his voice is pitched high now, so much that Stan stops rubbing idly at his eyes and gives him a stern look.
«Why the hell are you shouting now, you’ll wake up the kids too, and God knows if I can understand what they say when I’ve just woken up after just few hours of sleep...»
«Stan. We don’t have kids.»
That’s when Stan looks at him with something more than that mix of curiosity and annoyance. This time, Roger can feel it, it’s more like anger what radiates from him. «What the fuck are you saying, Roger. What the fuck. Why don’t you go in the other room and see Alexia, Myla or Charlene hopefully still sleeping and tell me if they don’t exist. You damn idiot.»
Roger’s heart jumps at least three or four beats. It can’t be true, Stan can’t have said those names, exactly those names. If this is a dream, it has to end right now because it’s starting to freak him out, and a lot. He draws a long breath, trying to relax. It doesn’t work.
Surely Stan isn’t helping at all his attempts, now, when he’s looking at him as if he’s a mad man. «If this is all some fucking sort of prank, Roger, I tell you, I’ll smash your-»
«Stan,» he interrupts the other man before he can hear whatever menace his friend was going to say. «Stan, I don’t know what the fuck is going on! I went to bed with an headache last night and when I woke up I was in another place, in a house I don’t know--»
«In a house you don’t know?! What the fuck, Roger, it’s years that we’re living here now, are you crazy?!»
«Fuck, no, listen to me! I wake up and it seems I have all another family, and-»
«ANOTHER FAMILY?!», shouts Stan, not caring (or probably not remembering anymore) about the daughters still asleep; Roger thinks he’s never seen him so angry, never, probably because Stan isn’t a man a lot of times really angry, apart from himself when on the court he’s not playing as he would like to. His words must have touched him, a lot, but he really doesn’t understand what’s going on. Stan jumps out of the bed and goes straight to Roger, his face promising at least a punch. On his nose. Hard. All this only if he’s lucky.
«Dads?», comes a tiny voice from the door, that has the power to stop whatever Stan was planning to do to him and his face. Roger sees him closing his eyes for the briefest of moments, as if trying to recollect his usual self and don’t show all the anger he has right now, before watching Myla.
«Hey, princess, good morning. I’m sorry if we woke you up», he says. Myla runs to him to give him a hug, and Stan picks her up, gives her a quick peck on her cheek. Myla laughs. Roger is completely frozen, seeing his daughter – it’s his daughter, no matter what Stan can say or else, that Myla is his Myla, his and Mirka’s – running to hug Stan and calling him dad. He seriously feels himself fainting this time, he’s not sure he can take anything more of all of this story. He leans to the wardrobe, his hand clutching the desk next to it, and breathes, breathes as if he was back on the tennis court and this was a Wimbledon final, and he had to calm down and concentrate himself, after a stupid mistake, the best that he can to win the match. In this case, to grasp a clue about what is happening around him.
«Let me down, I want to give a hug to dad too», he hears Myla say, and when he opens his eyes he sees Stan talking to her.
«Honey, your dad isn’t feeling really well, don’t bother him, ok?»
«Just a little hug, dad...»
The little girl runs and embrace Roger before Stan can say another word, her tiny hands around his legs. Stan shoots him a death glare, nodding toward the girl. Roger feels stiff; he tries at least to caress her hair, but he spends too much time moving his arm, and in the while Myla is already going away from him. Roger thinks he’d never said it and it’s something he thought he’d never said, but it’s with relief that this time he watches his daughter going away from him; he doesn’t know how to behave, what to do, not when he still doesn’t have a clue about what seems it’s his life here, wherever “here” is.
«Go back to your bedroom, yes? You and Charlene get ready, and wake up Alexia too, I’ll make you all breakfast, I bought those cereals you love so much, sweetie, the ones with chocolate too», says quietly Stan, caressing gently her hair; it seems there’s nothing more of that anger he had before, as if talking with Myla made him come back to his usual self. The little girl flashes him an enormous smile before running away, presumably in her room.
«What am I doing here?», whispers Roger, his head spinning faster and faster. He must look completely devastated, because Stan, now, puts his hands on both sides of his face, a worried expression painted on his own, and for a moment Roger is grateful, grateful, because right now the world stopped spinning like crazy and his nausea feels a little better – but in a twist of seconds he realizes what’s happening and where he is, and jumps back. Stan’s face is so broken he almost feel bad. Almost. He just needs the time to realize what he’s actually thinking to understand that no, he can’t have just thought that. He’s already going crazy with enough questions without worrying that much about hurting Stan.
«Listen. I’ll go down and get the breakfast ready for the children, while you come back down to Earth, ok?»
Roger hears him and sees in his mind an image: his daughters, sitting at a table he has never seen, eating the breakfast Stan prepared for them, laughing at the funny faces he would surely pull for them, his usual cup of coffee in a hand, smiling. The world starts spinning faster again.
«No. I have to go. Away.»
«To go where, Roger, it’s Sunday morning and---»
But Roger runs, runs out of the room brushing past him, accidentally hitting him in the shoulder and feeling his own body burn at the touch. He shivers, lacking the courage to look at Stan; instead, he runs in the corridor, in the way he feels is the right one for the exit, picks up the first jacket he finds and throws himself out of the door, not before having the time to hear Charlene’s voice, calling for Stan.
Roger realizes soon that there’s more or less nowhere he can go; he doesn’t even know where he is. He’s sure last night he went to bed and he was in Basel, but this house isn’t the one he went sleeping in, and surely the city he’s now wandering in is not Basel, not even another place in Basel that’s not his home. He’s sure, he knows it too well not to be aware of it.
He feels he’s already been here, though, the place is not completely unfamiliar. If only his head stopped hurting so much, as if someone put a nail in it, he would probably focus better on how to recognize this city.
“...I told you you had to try this place, Roger. Told you that, whatever Basel has, it can’t compare to this.”
Roger rolls mockingly his eyes at Stan, but laughs in the while. It’s true, Stan was right, he’d never tried a better hot chocolate than the one he made him taste at this small place in Lausanne, but for nothing in the world he’d give him the satisfaction of saying that something here is better than in his beloved Basel.
Lausanne, he remembers snapping back from the memory. He remembers spending some time here with Stan on holiday as his guest, having him as a guide to a city he liked but never fully appreciated, too absorbed in the dreams of his career at the time. That house in which he woke up, though, didn’t look like the one Stan used to own. Another thing to add to the pile of situations that, this morning, don’t make sense.
God, it’s all that Roger can think. He doesn’t know if he just woke up with this headache that is threatening to kill him or if he’s giving it himself, with all his thoughts. He just knows he feels like throwing up now, in this alley.
He lets himself fall on a bench, taking big breaths that are supposed to help him calm down, but that aren’t really working. Actually, they can’t work, because he just can’t calm down. He doesn’t know what to do, where to go: he should be able to come back home (his stomach clenches at the idea of calling a place that’s not his real home like that, but he can’t help it) but it would mean deal with a Stan that is sure they’re married, and with (Roger’s stomach does a flip here) their three kids too, and he just can’t, not now. Though, he can’t just sit down on a bench forever, hoping that at some point everything will be back to normal - even if he might, since Roger just doesn’t think he can actually do something to convince Stan they’re not a family at all.
The weather though is cold enough to make him shiver, so he collects himself and just walks into the first café he can find, and it’s with relief that he welcomes the fact that the young waitress doesn’t give away any sign that she has recognized him; probably it’s not the first time he sits here, since it’s near where he’s supposed to live. Roger even manages to give her a little smile when she comes back bringing his coffee, and then gulps it down in one go, enjoying the relief of having something warm running in his stomach, so tormented this morning.
There are some newspapers laying on the little table next to his, and Roger picks them up. He’s not sure about what he’s searching on them, but he flicks rapidly through the news until he reaches the sport section. Seems like Switzerland NT is having troubles to gain enough points to reach the qualification for the next World Cup, and Roger, despite the situation, cringes inside a bit. He searches some more, there aren’t big tournaments on at the moment in the tennis world, but there’s some news about it all the same. Roger gasps when he sees it: a photo of him and Stan laughing together, his own arm slung around the younger’s waist, in an article that talks about their tennis academy, that is already proving to be very promising.
A tennis academy in Lausanne. He and Stan opened it after having both retired. He’s retired. What.
Roger starts feeling again shivers on his arms, and this time it can’t be the cold weather, since the place is warm enough – well, at least it was until some seconds ago. Roger reaches the back of the chair for his jacket and wears it, knowing that it won’t stop the shivering, but he does it either way, in the attempt of doing something reasonable. He wears it and his nostrils are full now with a scent he hasn’t noticed before, too absorbed in his thoughts and his panic. He feels his cheeks reddening as he recognizes it for the scent that he breathed this morning in bed. He picked a random jacket, the first one he found under his hands before running away from the house, and probably (definitely) he picked Stan’s one.
There’s a lump in his throat as the memories of that morning come back, the hurt look on Stan’s face being the biggest problem. He’s seen his friend in a bad mood many times, he tried his best to cheer him up many times after a match in which Stan was frustrated because he just couldn’t play how he knew to, and how he wanted to. He’s seen the difficult moments after he and his wife, Ilham, got divorced, and the worry on Stan’s face at the idea of not knowing what to do in order to do the best for his daughter. And still, when he thinks of the face he gave him this morning, when Roger told him that this wasn’t his family, he’s sure that he has never seen his friend so upset, never.
And now he’s left him, alone, thinking his husband has gone crazy. A pang of guilt hits him, inevitable. He might have never married Stan in his life, but he’s among the most important people of his life, and he guess he can count them on the fingers of one hand. He hates hurting Stan, he hates even the thought of it.
Roger comes back home a lot of hours after he ran out of it, his hands deep down the pockets of Stan’s jacket, his headache still throbbing like hell and without the faintest idea of what he’s going to do or even to say. Stan opens the door when he rings the bell, acknowledging that he has no keys for this place, and the love he sees in those eyes makes his heart clench, because he knows the Roger that lives here would have never done that to Stan, and he too would have never told his Stan that he’s basically a liar, but he doesn’t know how to act like this Roger. Hell, if this Roger even exists, he doesn’t know anymore what to think. He enters the place and leaves the jacket where he found it, in absolute silence. He fidgets with it, carefully tucks it away while deciding what to say. Then, he finally turns and faces Stan, when he feels the time that is passing is a lot, and he doesn’t still know anything.
«I only know that I am Roger Federer, but of all this, of this house, of us... I don’t have any memory», I’m sorry, he’s on the verge of saying, but something in the hurtful look on Stan’s face makes him reconsider saying it. He feels it inside his chest: it would more than probably just hurt Stan more.
«I understand», he only says, and he sounds gentle, more than one could have ever expected. It’s not true, Roger knows, he’s the first that doesn’t understand and it’s happening to him, but he appreciates his answer. He feels something warm, inside his chest, now. «What about we talk about it?»
Roger nods, not trusting his voice at all right now, and goes into the kitchen, following Stan, who gestures for him to sit down while he pours something in a cup, probably tea, and brings it to the table with a plate of biscuits that Roger knows he himself made; he remembers waking up as a host in Stan’s house and finding him baking them, not just once. He’d smile at the memory, had him been in another situation.
«You probably didn’t eat anything, all this time outside home...», says the younger, low-pitched voice and eyes fixed on the ground, almost shy. Roger can’t tell why he’s behaving this way, but he takes one biscuit even if his stomach is still too clenched to eat something. He just doesn’t want to disappoint this Stan who’s being so gentle, even if he ran away from him as if he was poisoned this morning. Roger watches him pouring something else in his coup, something darker, and the words just slip out of his mouth before he can think twice:
«You shouldn’t be drinking coffee this late, it’s bad for your health.» Stan doesn’t answer, but flinches and makes a strange face, as if he’s just hit him with a punch. Maybe this is something here Roger already told him? He can’t know.
«Where are the kids?», asks Roger, trying to distract him.
«Already went to bed. Myla... Myla made a drawing for you, says she’ll give it to you tomorrow. I didn’t know what to tell her when she asked why you weren’t there today.» Stan stops there, his Adam’s apple moving once up and down. Roger is silent for a while, something heavy settling in his stomach. He wouldn’t say it’s guilt, he doesn’t really know this family, but he wouldn’t have a different name to give it.
«I’m sorry for this morning, I didn’t want to run away like a thief, and leave you alone with the kids and having to make up things for them, but I was so scared. I still am. I don’t recognize anything in this life. Stan, for how crazy it can sound, this isn’t my reality. Last night I went to bed in my house, in Basel, I remember telling Mirka I wasn’t feeling well, and actually, my headache is still here, but that’s the only thing that’s the same as last night.»
Stan quirks an eyebrow. «Mirka?»
«Oh. In my world, I met this girl at the Olympic Games and, uhm, we fell in love, she was a tennis player too and-»
But the younger interrupts him. «Roger, I know who Mirka is. She used to be your manager when you were playing, and your girlfriend too before us, and she’s also the mother of our daughters. Well, of two of them.»
Roger feels something like an headache adding to the headache he already has, hearing these words from Stan. «Mirka is my wife. And we’re both still playing... Actually, you’re probably in the best moment of your career, you managed to win some titles in the last years. While here, we’re both retired, right? I saw an article about our tennis academy.»
Stan furrows his brow. «You saw an article?»
«Uhm. Yeah, this afternoon, I ended up in a café at some point, and I wanted to know more about where I’ve ended, so I tried to see on a newspaper there if the sport section had something about me. Guess I was lucky?»
«Roger Federer searching about his own life on a newspaper, in Lausanne. You could have stopped whoever in the streets, and they would have told you everything, probably even the colour of the blanket you were wrapped in when you were born.» And Stan is laughing at that, his eyes are crinkling at the mere thought of the situation, and Roger feels his body relaxing a bit at the sight.
«Yeah, and probably ended up in a police station», snorts then. «Anyway. I’m married and I have four kids, I have twin boys too. Where are they?»
When he talks about his kids, two of them happening to be two of the exact kids that are sleeping in the next room, that’s when he can see Stan frowning again, looking jealous of what he’s just said: a family, a different one, their daughters with someone else.
«They never existed, here», he just say, dryly.
Stan pours himself another cup of coffee. This time, Roger knows best than to say anything, and just lets him drink it.
«There’s something wrong», he says.
«I know», it’s all that Roger can answer. The tea and the biscuits calmed him down a bit, and though he still feels completely out of place and time, he’s feeling a bit better now. Well, if he just shuts down his brain screaming that no, nothing is fine.
«I think you need to rest some», tells him Stan, softly, and Roger can’t disagree. Despite the incredible situation and the fact that he wants to know everything he can and how to come back home, he finds it tiring and tiring to stay focused on what’s happening, on putting his words in the right order and understand everything Stan says. The day is wearing off on him, this rollercoaster of emotions surely doesn’t help.
«But you haven’t told me anything, and-» I want to know, Roger was going to ask, but he finds himself yawning in the middle of the sentence. Stan smiles at him basically threatening to fall asleep on the table, and gestures him to follow himself, and Roger just does as told without trying to question further, until they reach the bedroom he escaped from this morning. He looks at it for some moments, remembering what happened, and this time he’s sure he feels kind of guilty for that. He was freaking out, but for Stan it must have been just as difficult as it was for him.
«I can sleep in the other room», Stan says when he sees him standing there on the door and not moving, absorbed in his thoughts, but Roger stops him.
«No,», he pleads, his big, dark eyes fixed in Stan’s ones. «Don’t... don’t leave me alone, please. It makes no sense, but if there’s something that can keep me grounded, on whatever ground we are right now, it’s you. Talking with you now is the only thing that made me feel better during this day.». He always has, he thinks. When the world was spinning too fast, with his many trophies and the glory and the long tournaments away from home, the presence of Stan was always reassuring. His friend would never treat him like the God of tennis, all the contrary; he got over his youth crush very soon, as they started playing doubles together, and in private they’ve always been nothing else than best friends. It has always felt great to know there was someone to whom he could always talk about everything, it’s not so easy to find it when you’re living the uprooted life of the professional tennis player.
Why the hell is he even thinking about this now.
«Ok», he just says, giving him at first a suspicious look but then relaxing, and goes under the covers, careful to stay on his own half of the bed, and not near the centre of it, where he was this morning. Roger quickly changes into his pyjamas, and joins him in the other half of the bed. He’s too tired to do or say anything else, and his eyes can’t stay open a second more when he leans his head on the pillow; but, before actually falling asleep, he can sense Stan staring at him in the dark, vigilant and curious. Also, probably scared of him. Maybe worried too.
When Roger wakes up, it takes him some moments to remember what happened the day before. For a brief moment, he thinks he’s just dreamt of that all, but then he opens his eyes and the wall in front of him is still orange, so no, he’s not imagined anything. He lets out a long breath in something similar to exasperation.
Next to him, Stan is still sleeping – Roger isn’t sure about how much later than him, but he knows Stan passed some time studying him before giving in to sleeping. During the night, he’s moved nearer, not enough to touch him with the whole of his body; probably even while he was sleeping he remembered that this Roger isn’t used at sharing a bed with him. His right hand, though, is clutching Roger’s shirt, low, near his belly. Habit, affection, possessiveness, fear: Roger wouldn’t be able to find the reason behind the gesture, but he doesn’t move anymore in order not to wake him up.
Not that this is a problem for much longer: the alarm clock starts ringing with an awful sound that makes Stan startle and roll over to shut it down as quick as he can. Then, he looks at Roger, unsure, probably trying to check without asking if he’s still out of his mind.
«Uhm... good morning?», murmurs Roger, unsure. He can feel Stan’s disappointment at the confirmation that his Roger isn’t back, even if the younger doesn’t say anything about it, or even just pull a face.
«Good morning», he answers back, stretching a bit. Then, he gives Roger a very serious look. «Listen... I understand you’re still not the same person I’m married to, but please, please. I don’t have the strength to understand what’s happening, figure out how much I have to explain it to three kids. Kids which, unfortunately, I have now to wake up because they have to go to school. And even if I tell them that their dad isn’t feeling well and is still resting, they’re still coming here to make sure everything is fine, because I’m sure it’s what they’ll do, and say they can’t leave if they don’t give their dad a kiss to make him better. So, please, help me and try to act as if you were living a normal Monday morning in your family, try to act as if you belong here, like their dad always do.»
Roger blinks at the stream of words Stan just said, and at the speed he spoke; he isn’t sure he can do this, but he’s also sure he can’t say no to Stan. He can never do it, surely he won’t when Stan is looking at him with those pleading eyes, with that expression painted on his face, the one of a man who just wants nothing to touch the serenity of his family.
«Good», he says then without waiting for Roger to say it out loud, and slips out of the bed and of the bedroom. Roger can hear his voice, muffled, in the other room, waking up the daughters.
He takes his time with a shower, feeling his stomach knitted because of the anxiety. He’s Roger Federer, and at the same time he isn’t, or, better, he isn’t the Roger Federer this family expects to see.
When he finally reaches the kitchen, he’s surprised by the normality that the scene in front of him displays, just as if everything is perfectly at its place. Stan is cooking, his hands moving quickly, knowing perfectly what they have to do; and Roger is sure those pancakes will be perfect as usual, as they always are when he’s invited at Stan’s home to spend some days together. On the radio there’s some U2 song that Stan loves and that Roger can’t name but knows it calms Stan before a match. Myla and Charlene are disputing on a toy they won’t care about anymore in five minutes, but that right now is the most important thing on Earth, while Alexia is quietly drinking her orange juice. When Roger approaches him, unsure about what to do, Stan touches briefly his curls, probably out of habit, and God knows how he hates when someone does that and how Stan couldn’t care less and do it all the same, and how he still lets him always do that.
Put like this, everything is at its own place. Except anything is.
«Just sit down, and bring this with you», whispers Stan, giving him a big plate full of the pancakes he’s just prepared, and Roger does as he’s told. As soon as he sits down, Charlene comes nearer to him and looks at him with big eyes.
«Dad, I’ve thought about it,» she declares.
«About... what? I’m sorry, I can’t remember now...», he tries to make some excuses, searching for Stan with his eyes but the man is too busy with cooking right now, so he probably hasn’t even heard his daughter.
«The dog? Oh. The dog, yes. Sure. It’s amazing, sweetheart.»
Charlene’s smile could lit up the entire house now, bless her. «Really dad I can? Heléne says his dog is having puppies next month, and she can give me one!»
«We already talked about it, Charlene», Stan’s voice arrives with Roger’s relief because he has no clue about what the Roger in this world wants about having a dog at home, and about who this Heléne is. «Are you sure you can take care of a dog?»
«Yes, dad. I promise I’m going to play with it every day. And Myla and Alexia too.» The other two girls exchange a look between them before nodding, and Roger can’t help thinking Charlene promised them something to get them answering in her favour now.
«Mmm. And what about feeding it? You know a dog doesn’t live thanks to air only, right?» Stan talks while putting some jam on his pancake, his fingers smeared with it, in a way that makes Roger’s hands itch with the desire of cleaning them. He brushes past these thoughts quickly.
«But dad», starts Charlene, frowning. «You always make us breakfast and lunch and dinner, so there’s no need to cook for him too, I can give it some from my plate.»
Roger can’t help smiling at the cuteness of that sentence, and Stan too can’t keep his expression straight at those words. «What about I cook some more, so it can have its own plate and you will eat enough and not disappear?», says and gives her a wink.
Charlene looks ecstatic.
«Come on, go and take your jackets and bags, I’ll be waiting for you in the car, I will drive you all today, your dad has an headache and can’t.» All the three girls give Roger an apprehensive look that he brushes off with a gesture of his hand. «Stan is just exaggerating, I haven’t slept much, but I’m fine, don’t worry about me now.»
When they’re all out, Stan talks to him: «I bring them to school, when I come back, we can talk, ok?», and brushes his fingers lightly on his curls. Definitely an habit. Then, the girls are back, and each of them has to leave a kiss on Roger’s cheek before going out.
Being immersed in the silence, which is what Roger had wanted since he woke up here yesterday, now feels strange. He understands it now, that this breakfast hasn’t been at all unpleasant, all the contrary; it felt like being in a real family. He puts the plates in the sink, washes them quickly (his Stan hates doing that, his Stan loves to get them dirty and prepare a lot of different dishes, so when he’s invited at his home it’s always him who washes them), and then wanders in the house.
There are some photos on the shelves in the living room. Some of the daughters together, in different places, always smiling. One with only Stan and a goat, and Roger wonders why they should have that photo in a frame. One with him and Stan finely dressed, smiling, a glass of champagne in their hands, looking at something that’s not in the photo but that’s clearly amusing, judging from their expressions.
«It’s the day of our wedding», answers Stan to the question he never asked. He didn’t hear him coming back, too absorbed in the study of the photos, but he’s not startled. «And we were watching my drunk brother trying to invite Serena Williams to dance with him.»
«It makes sense», chuckles Roger. «So, we’re married?»
«Yeah. Three years ago. After we won the Davis Cup», Stan smiles fondly at the memory. «You were fidgeting all the ceremony with the buttons of your jacket, you don’t know how much I wanted to take your hands in mines to make them stop.»
«How did it happen? I mean, how did we ended up... together?»
Stan sits down on the sofa. «After the Olympic games in Beijing. God, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you as drunk as that night, when we got back to the hotel you were having troubles even staying on your legs. And I wasn’t in a better situation, but at least my legs still worked. So, I brought you back in your room and made you sit on your bed, while you kept babbling something incomprehensible, still don’t know what since the day after you didn’t have a clue about it. I was telling you goodnight, even if it was almost morning, and you just didn’t let my wrist go. I tried to open your fingers, and you made such annoyed sounds, I couldn’t help laughing at those. But, as I said, I was pretty much drunk too, so the laughs made me fall on the bed with you, and I was finding it hard to get up after it. Because of the laughs, and because you started kissing my neck too, which at the moment felt like being in heaven.» Stan looks up at him and frowns. «Roger, are you feeling well? You’ve become so pale, have a sit», and makes some room on the sofa for him.
But Roger never sits, lost in his thoughts and memories that Stan’s words have woken up.
Severin told him back when they started playing doubles, that the younger Swiss looked at him completely starstruck, and he laughed, because yeah, at the time everyone was starting to look at him like that, so he didn’t even found a reason to talk about it. Plus, as soon as they found that they actually played well together, Stan lost that look very quickly. On the court, they clicked together just perfectly, and outside he never said anything about having feelings for Roger, never gave the idea of wanting something more from the older Swiss.
He’s lying to himself. No, it’s not true that nothing ever happened between him and Stan. The night in which they won the Olympic gold they got completely wasted, and they kissed. Not something incredible, not something that made their head spin, head over heels and unicorns and all, no, just pure happiness mixed to their drunkenness. The day after they laughed about it – it was actually pretty much a miracle they remembered it, considered how drunk they were that night, but that was it. They didn’t even had to discuss it.
Maybe it’s not that they didn’t have to discuss it. Maybe they just didn’t do it; Roger can’t say he avoided it on purpose, but surely wasn’t all that eager at the idea of talking about drunk kissing his best friend. And Stan never pushed, or, at least, Roger doesn’t think so.
«Roger?», asks Stan, evident worry in his tone of voice.
«It’s just... What you told me about us, it happened to me too, kind of. In my world, we kissed after the Olympic Games, but then nothing more happened. I guess, it’s not what happened here?»
Stan gives him a little smile. «Definitely not. Well, the days after had been kind of awkward. We flew back together to Switzerland but soon you went to Basel and I got back home too, and we didn’t really have the chance to discuss about what happened – not that one of us had perfect memory of it, actually. So I just got on with my life, happy enough with the gold medal and sure that all that happened between us happened just because of the alcohol. Except, a month later, I found you ringing at the doorbell in the morning – you’ve always had this habit of waking me up so soon when there’s something you need to get off your chest, always. When I opened the door, you didn’t even leave me the time to understand what was going on, or just to wake up properly, and you were kissing me.»
So, it has been him to decide everything here. It’s strange, when he thinks of how reluctant he’s been about talking to Stan about Beijing.
«And then... Well, it has been hard at first. It took time for you to find the courage to tell Mirka all that happened, and the same was for me with Ilham. That, and coming out to the world. I told you countless times that I didn’t think the world was ready for this, and at some point you just couldn’t care less, since when we won the Davis Cup, the first thing you did was kissing me in the middle of the court. Not that I complained,» he smirks, «I’m still sure I would have never had the guts to do that. Luckily, you did it.»
Roger feels his cheeks flushing at the memory he doesn’t have, but that he can picture so easily in his mind. When Stan wins, he’s shining, but when they win together, there’s nothing more beautiful in the world than the smile he always gives him, and the way his eyes crinkle, curving all his face in the movement of his mouth. So, he has no problem at all imagining how easy it would be to just go and kiss him in the middle of a crowd, when he looks at him like that.
«I guess you were right about the world not being ready for that.»
Stan lets out a brief laugh. «Of course I was right. Well, I must admit I expected it to be worse, I kind of expected not to be able to step a foot on a tennis court anymore, and even if sometimes I felt like that, in the end I could always make it. Maybe it was because one of the people involved was one of the greatest tennis players ever, not to mention one of the most loved? I don’t know. But well, the first times were truly awkward. Our friends supported us, and of that I’m still grateful, but surely not everyone was that happy in the locker room, and we both knew that. And also, when I stepped on the pitch I was sure everyone would see just our kiss and not how I play anymore, no matter all you told me, I couldn’t help myself. You, on the contrary, looked just perfect, as usual.»
«It’s true! You just kept on winning, as if nothing happened, and I couldn’t understand at all how you did it. You always had this infuriating ability of leaving everything that wasn’t strictly related to tennis outside the tennis court... While I started being not concentrate anymore on the game, it was harder and harder for me to keep playing. I was desperate, and near the point of leaving you; after all that mess that we started I’d have enjoyed our life together just so little, if it meant I couldn’t have my tennis back. And then, of course, you pointed out that leaving you wouldn’t have erased the fact that everyone on Earth now knew about what happened between us. Talking about one of those infuriating ability of yours...»
Roger feels his lips stretching in a knowing smile, because he might have not lived this scene in particular, but many times happened that Stan was nervous about nothing really serious, and he’s always found a way to calm him down.
«It wasn’t that easy, again, not to me. I still don’t know how you accepted all that without even blinking, you would just ignore the slurs on social media, the nasty comments from famous people, the annoying questions from the press... While I thought I was going mad. I took some weeks away from you after we had that discussion, I needed to clear my mind off, and I went to Sweden to train with Magnus for some time. Turned out, that was the best decision I could take, since I found out I missed you too much to leave you, and that I couldn’t focus on tennis if I knew you were feeling bad too. I realized there that even if I stopped seeing you, that wouldn’t have meant I’d been able to play tennis like I did before, I would have missed you too much. You and my tennis, at that point, were too entwined to let go of one of you and choose the other.»
Roger is almost embarrassed at that sentence: it’s probably the best thing ever a man like Stan could have told him, it means he can’t choose what he’s done for all his life over him, what he’s dedicated his whole life to, not anymore. It’s probably the best way he could find to paraphrase an “I love you”.
«I must love you that much, if I agreed to live together in Lausanne.» Roger flashes him a smile, trying to get himself too out of the embarrass. Well, actually he’s the only one who’s feeling uncomfortable with Stan telling him that he matters to him more than everything in this world.
To： @grassone 爱您，不多说了
To： @grassone 爱您，不多说了
END but their story will never end
【翻译】Between the Weekends
Roger Federer/Stanislas Wawrinka，
Magnus Norman/Stanislas Wawrinka，
Roger Federer/Marco Chiudinelli
Between the Weekends
By haruhiko (iacobus)
Roger Federer/Stanislas Wawrinka，
Magnus Norman/Stanislas Wawrinka，
Roger Federer/Marco Chiudinelli
Between the Weekends
By haruhiko (iacobus)
Stan差点绊住自己的脚，在他及时停下跑步机之前。Roger以一个罕见的充满愤怒的姿态站在门口，他仍然穿着他比赛时的装备，仍然穿着那件可笑的开襟毛衫。 仅仅只有头巾被取下来了。 Seve，Mirka，Edberg都不在这，但Chris Kermode在，一只手谨慎的搭在Roger的肩上。
( 2lja )