by M. hoppipolla
It takes Ricardo a while to realize where he recognizes the familiar face from. It has been years, but he suddenly remembers the now-forgotten legend that was Vitor Emanuel. Ricardo grew up watching him, dreaming that one day he could be like him. When he was five he told his dad he wanted to be just like Vitor, and that Christmas, Ricardo ripped open the box to see Vitor’s jersey, just for him. He wore it until he grew too big for it, then it hung on his wall for years after, long after Vitor stopped playing.
That moment when Vitor went down in a crumpled heap is just as vivid in Ricardo’s mind; he was around seven or eight at the time, and his memories are a blur of tear-filled eyes and his dad’s reassurances that Vitor would be fine. Yet days later the verdict was out: Vitor had injured himself so badly he would be out for at least a year. A year turned into a year and some months, before the club’s ultimately releasing him despite outrage from the fans. Young Ricardo asked his dad why they would do something like that, and his dad’s explanation was that that a team does what they believe is right, even if it’s something people don’t agree with. It was the first time Ricardo experienced heartbreak like that.
So it takes a few times going to the café before he recognizes Vitor behind the counter of a small bakery In Porto, especially now that he is a little greyer than he was twenty years before. He still looks great, Ricardo thinks; the greying beard has done wonders for him. Ricardo always thought Vitor was rather good-looking; once he had come to terms with himself, he’d started finding older, more refined gentlemen far more attractive, and Vitor certainly exemplifies that. Ricardo isn’t sure what to say to him when he puts a name to the face, not sure if the man wants to be reminded of his career or not. So Ricardo doesn’t mention football, just greets him with his usual smile that’s probably a little too bright for barely six in the morning.
“The usual.” Ricardo eyes up all the pastries laid out and watches Vitor pull out his favorite, wrapping it neatly and putting it in a bag and reaching for the coffee.
Ricardo grins, taking the pastries before answering, “Work, and then I have class after. It’s bound to be a long day, so this is my favorite part.”
Vitor smiles briefly, handing Ricardo’s coffee over. “So what do you study?”
“Sports management. I was never that good at playing, even though it was my dream. I figure I can do this and be a part of it.”
Vitor smiles, but Ricardo can see the slight sense of sadness as he nods. “I’m sure you will do great. I better not keep you here all day, although I admit your company is nice.”
Ricardo feels his grin getting bigger. “Don’t worry, you will see me again tomorrow. You know I’m always here, right?”
Vitor ducks his head to hide his grin and looks at Ricardo. “You are indeed. I’ll make sure to give you an extra pastry tomorrow.”
Ricardo laughs and heads towards the door. Did he really just flirt with his childhood idol?
Work is work for Ricardo, always enjoyable, and afterwards he heads across the city to class, using the lecture as an excuse to Google Vitor. He opens his laptop and types ‘Vitor Emanuel’ into search and hits enter, watching as the results pop up. He opens up the wiki page and a recently published article, wondering how in the hell he had forgotten all about his idol. He reads the Wikipedia page first, realizing that Vitor retired only a few years after the injury, not even thirty when he ended it all. Nothing after that: no coaching gigs, no assistant positions. Not a single thing. So what the hell had he been doing the last twelve years or so? He closes Wikipedia and clicks on the article, aptly titled ‘Vitor Emanuel: Local Hero Turned Forgotten Man’. Ricardo sends a quick thank-you in his mind to the journalist who had enough curiosity to seek Vitor out.
The journalist who had sought him out had found him living in New York City, finishing up his Ph.D in Economics. Ricardo raises an eyebrow; Vitor is intelligent, which is always a plus. It’s fascinating to see he had done something with his life, not becoming an overweight, gambling, drunk ex-player like many others. Ricardo glances up at the professor, who’s still rambling on and on, then scrolls down the article to see Vitor answering questions about everything but football. Clearly Vitor works hard to avoid all mentions of it, which Ricardo understands, but he is curious why, after all these years, he still didn’t even want to speak about the good that had happened. Ricardo quickly saves the article in his bookmarks, reminding himself to check later for more articles.
He sends his brother Hugo a quick text between his next class: ‘Remember Vitor Emanuel? He owns a café now, just figured it out.’ He stuffs his phone back into his pocket heads his next class, only the thought of Vitor on his mind. Maybe he was just a little obsessed.
About halfway through his class, he feels his phone vibrate; taking it out, he sees his brother’s name. ”Really? Dad will be in there bothering him if hears about this, so don’t tell him. He can’t keep his mouth shut.’ Ricardo laughs quietly. Yeah, his brother is right; their dad would be in there asking a million football questions, so he wouldn’t even bring this topic up. Not yet, anyway.
It is nearing night when Ricardo finishes classes. He heads out to the streets which were hardly ever quiet, people not quite ready to head home after a long day at work. He was supposed to meet up with a few friends, but he sends a quick text saying he can’t join them, that he’d make up for it later. Ricardo takes the metro back to his apartment, using the commute as a way to unwind, watching as the city passes him by. He’s nearly asleep when the train lurches to a halt, the overhead voice calling for his stop.
He is as happy as ever to be home as he climbs the three flights up to his apartment, digging his keys out from the bottom of his bag. He can’t see a thing in the dark hallway, using his phone to provide light. He should really complain about the lack of a light outside his door.
Stepping in, he flicks the switch on, leaving him to face the disarray that is his apartment. His mother would probably scold him if she saw it, and as she tends to show up randomly, Ricardo knows he’d better clean up. He puts his bag on the small table next to the window. He reaches for the door to the fridge, pulling out whatever leftovers he has, and gets them warming up again on the stove. It isn’t much, but it will do. He heads to his couch to watch the evening news, which is mostly politics and sports: boring, but the chatter kills the silence that fills the room.
Ricardo reaches for his laptop from his bag and clicks open a few more articles, going to images and opening a few. There aren’t that many, especially new ones of VItor, but a decent amount of old ones. He clicks open one which had to be from a year before Vitor’s injury back when they had won nearly every trophy there was to win. It is a beautiful photo of Vitor, Ricardo thinks, Vitor soaked with rain and holding the big trophy up high. He was gorgeous: perfect cheekbones, the right amount of hair, the dimple on his chin. Ricardo stretches his legs out, running his hands down his stomach to his crotch, so he can rub at himself. He shouldn’t be looking at photos of Vitor and thinking about his dick at the same time, but he also doesn’t care, at least not right now.
He sticks his hands inside his pants and underwear, grabbing ahold of himself and stroking slowly, then opens another photo which just happened to be one of Vitor being hugged from behind by a teammate. Ricardo imagines that being him holding Vitor close, even if Vitor is older now, with a little less hair on his head and a thicker beard. It doesn’t matter; Vitor is still handsome for his age. Ricardo closes his eyes, moving his hand faster. It has been awhile since he was with someone else. He thinks of both his ex-lover Diego and Vitor, mixing them in his mind as he both remembers and fantasizes at the same time. He arches his hips up, he feels his arm tense, but he knows he’s close and holds out until he finishes, then slumps back onto the couch with a gasp.
He looks down and the guilt washes over him like a wave, but not at what he has done per say, but about who he had thought about; shit, did he really just jerk off over his favorite childhood footballer? He uses his clean hand to exit all the tabs, closing his laptop before he goes to his bathroom, kicking his clothes off and stepping into the cramped shower. He lets the water wash away all evidence. He sighs and gently hits his head against the tiles. “Stupid, just stupid.”
He washes himself off before turning off the shower and grabbing a towel; he dries himself off, taking it with him into his bedroom. He ditches the towel along with his dirty clothes into his hamper as he pulls out new boxers and a pair of sweats. He sighs, knowing better than to text Diego, but he goes back to the living room, grabs his phone and sends a quick message; he calculates the time between Porto and Buenos Aires, figuring Diego might not answer yet.
Ricardo begins cleaning his apartment, and he knows he’s bothered by something when he finds himself scrubbing his floors and cleaning corners he normally ignores, but he doesn’t care; it takes his mind off of his loneliness, at least for the time being. He is proud of himself when he finishes, standing with his hands on his hips and looking at the clock: it’s almost midnight for him, which meant that Diego most likely will have looked at his message and hopefully answered back by now. Ricardo digs his phone out from under a pillow, finding a simple message: ‘Skype?’ Ricardo reaches for his laptop, opening it and turning his Skype on and clicking Diego’s name. He feels himself grinning as Diego’s face appears onscreen. That is the effect Diego has always had on him, ever since they’d been kids growing up together.
“How is Buenos Aires, is it how you remember it?”
“Yeah, it’s loud, unlike Porto. You know, Porto is kind of quiet at night, but here, it’s like nobody ever sleeps. I like it, though. It’s so nice to be home, you know, it’s nice to be back.”
Ricardo feels the pang of hurt, though he doesn’t say anything. Home might be where your heart is, but Ricardo sure thought Diego’s heart was with him. He nods and touches the screen, his voice cracking a little. “Guess you aren’t missing me much huh?”
Diego shakes his head. “I’m missing you, of course, don’t be ridiculous. I was looking to visit when I get everything together. Come for maybe a week.”
Ricardo bites his lip, remembering many nights spent with Diego, the way Diego’s body felt against his. “I’d like that. Let me know, I’ll tell Hugo, he can be just as excited.”
“That’s because he wants to get his ass kicked at FIFA.”
Ricardo laughs and shakes his head. “I won’t tell him you said that.”
“Good, or he’ll tell me to come play online right now.”
Ricardo spends the next few hours talking to Diego, only getting off when he feels his eyes closing and Diego forces him him to sleep. Ricardo barely makes it to his room, where he plugs in his phone before collapsing, dreaming of that gorgeous bright smile he loves so much.
Ricardo jerks out of his sleep as his alarm blares, knocking his phone off his side table as he fumbles for it before managing to dismiss the noise. He lies in bed motionless for a few seconds before lurching into his morning routine. He rubs his eyes and stretches before he makes his way to the bathroom, thankful for no women in his life to remind him to put the seat down as he takes his early morning pee. He stands at the mirror washing his hands before grabbing his toothbrush; when he catches his gaze in the mirror, the gold of his necklace flashes its reflection. It was the necklace his mother had given him as a child, São João, the patron saint of the city, hanging from it and it reminds him of his deed. Though it wouldn’t be the first time he’s kept the necklace on while performing various acts of sex, he’s not quite sure he wants to face himself after last night.
Returning to the bedroom with its too-small closet, he changes and steels himself against the long day ahead. He makes sure to quietly head down the stairs, as to not make noise and disturb the second-floor tenant with their habit of tattling on anyone they thought was too loud. Not like it is his fault the stairs echo through the entire building.
He zips up his jacket and makes his way down the street, the sun filtering through the buildings as it makes its ascent for the day. Ricardo is used to these early mornings, even if they don’t always suit him. He walks the few blocks to Vitor’s place, where he can see a few customers in place. He wonders how early Vitor has to be up in order to have everything ready to feed the poor fools like himself, all of them awake at this nearly inhuman hour. He heads in and walks the counter, where he flashes his smile at Vitor, who grins back.
“You look cheerful,” says Vitor. “A good night, I take it?”
Ricardo thinks back, his smile faltering slightly as he thinks of jerking off, but he doesn’t hesitate. “Pretty good. What did you do? Hopefully something fun.”
Vitor reaches for two of Ricardo’s favorite pastries, placing them in the bag. “I teach at night, for a few hours. I have an Economics class and a Philosophy class.”
“How do you have the time for all of this, cooking pastries and teaching Philosophy? I’m impressed.”
Vitor shrugs. “I don’t sleep a lot. I usually get maybe five good hours, but I’m used to it. On the weekends I catch up, sleep in and enjoy my time off.”
“You should hire people. I mean, you don’t do everything here, right?”
“My nephew works in here sometimes, and I have a young girl, maybe about your age, who does the weekend shift. So I do get a bit of a break.”
Ricardo takes the pastries and hands over his money. Vitor makes his coffee and Ricardo reaches for it, their fingers brushing together as the steaming cup changes hands. “I’m glad you get a break; you deserve it, I’m sure.”
Vitor laughs. “Now you are just sounding like my mother. She likes to remind me I’m not young anymore and I need to be getting plenty of sleep.”
Ricardo sips his coffee. “My mother does the same. I don’t think we are ever too old to be fussed over.”
“Never, trust me.” Ricardo watches Vitor, the way he licks his lips, the way his hands move; it is something that he’s able to see up close, not just in a photograph or grainy videos on YouTube. The attraction is different from the attraction Ricardo had for Diego. Maybe for good reasons. Ricardo snaps out of his haze and takes his things over to a small table, taking advantage of his time off work to sit and enjoy his morning. He pulls out his current reading selection and finds his spot, losing himself back in the story.
Ricardo waits for the morning rush to die down before he makes his move, putting his things away as he goes to the counter. He takes the piece of paper on which his scribbles his number and slides it across the counter, saying softly, “Maybe we can meet, outside of here. Let me know tomorrow.” Ricardo isn’t sure why he says that, because the idea of it terrifies him, mostly because he knows he will end up asking about football and probably completely ruin the time. Yet he feels compelled to ask, because he wants to enjoy more of Vitor’s company, and not just the tiny interactions that happen once a day; he wants far more than that.
Ricardo’s heart pounds in his chest as he makes his way to school, panicking as he asks himself over and over if he really just did that. What if Vitor says no? What if Vitor says yes? What if he tries to kiss Vitor? He has to calm himself down as he sits and pulls his computer open, wondering why he hasn’t he seen anything about Vitor’s teaching before. A bit more creative searching yields Vitor’s university profile; he’s only been teaching at the other university across town since the beginning of the year, which explains some of it, anyway.
He closes his laptop and inhales deeply, wishing he could tell someone about this but knowing he’d be called crazy or a liar for it. Instead he spends the rest of the day with it on his mind, wondering if it was on Vitor’s too. He sort of hopes so, that Vitor would spend the rest of the day wondering about him while feeling just as nervous. The thought makes him smile a little.
He trudges through the rest of the night. He wakes far too early, his nerves forcing him out of bed even though he has nowhere to be until nearly sundown. He does his usual routine, but this time he takes longer to look through his clothes. He chews his lip a while before pulling on something a little dressier than he wears most days, though he can’t be sure whether it’ll be too obvious to Vitor that Ricardo has dressed up for him. He hopes it won’t; he doesn’t want to appear that he was trying too hard.
Ricardo takes his time leaving, getting to the café a little later and waiting at a table until the line is through; forcing himself to be satisfied with just catching Vitor’s eye and waving. Ricardo goes to the counter and leans against it, whispering, “So… did you think about it, what the note said?” Vitor is silent as he puts Ricardo’s pastry onto a small plate and Ricardo feels his heart sink, seriously wondering if the other man was now ignoring him or not.
Vitor slides the plate across the counter and looks to meet Ricardo’s gaze. “Is this a date?”
“It is if you want it to be. I…just wanted to talk to you, outside of the usual customer routine.”
“I’d like a date.”
Ricardo feels the smile spread across his face. “I don’t have anywhere to be until about five or so; I can wait for you to finish up here and then we could go somewhere?”
Vitor nods. “I close around noon. You don’t have to stay here all day, you can leave and come back if you’d like.”
“I’ll stay. I don’t mind being your company.”
Ricardo sits at one of the tables near the back, pulling out his book and putting his earbuds in to lose himself in it. He only looks up when Vitor brings him another coffee, with a napkin that says ‘it’s on the house’, which makes Ricardo smile to himself. He really feels like a teenager again, just like when he started to recognize his feelings for Diego. Having a crush at any age elicits the same feelings, it seems.
It is only once he looks up and sees no other customers, and Vitor putting chairs on the tables, that he realizes it must be closing time. He puts his things away and goes to help Vitor, grabbing the broom from his hands. “Let me help, to pay back for the coffee.”
Vitor doesn’t let go immediately, leaving their fingers entwined together as he looks at Ricardo, moving a bit closer; Ricardo swears his heart feels as if it’s about to leap up his throat. He swears that Vitor is about to kiss him, but instead Vitor moves back, not saying a word. Ricardo wants to grab the man, to pin him against the wall and kiss him so deeply, but he doesn’t, instead finishing his task and waiting on Vitor. They go out together as Vitor closes up shop, VItor locking the gate to the door, just smiling at Ricardo. “So where are we going?”
“We should get lunch. I know a place that’s perfect.” They walk step in step, Ricardo only realizing then that they are the same height, which amuses him slightly; Diego was always so much taller than him. They bump against each other as they navigate narrow streets, Ricardo leading Vitor to one of his favorite places that sits on the street overlooking the river; often he had come here with Diego, which might not be the best reason to pick it. Regardless, they take an outside table, where Ricardo peers over the menu, feeling Vitor’s gaze on him the whole time. He isn’t sure what to do, knowing he’s being watched.
They order, and Ricardo can feel the question burning inside him until he asks, against his better judgement, “I…I sort of know who you are, I mean…you are Vitor Emanuel, right?”
“I am. I assume you mean the man who played football.”
“Yeah, I kind of want to ask about um, that, the football thing…”
Ricardo trails off and watches Vitors’s face as he swallows a sip of water and shrugs. “What is there to know? I figured you’d ask, by the way. I saw the football patch on your bag. I wasn’t sure if you recognized me or not. After all, you might not be old enough to remember me.”
The flush rises on Ricardo’s cheek as he stammers out, “Oh, I, um…I remember when I was a kid. It took me a few times to recognize your face. I…I’m sorry this is awkward now, I know you don’t like to talk about the football thing. That was stupid of me to ask.”
Vitor reaches for Ricardo’s arm, squeezing it gently. “Who said I don’t like to talk about it? I don’t like to talk to the media, because as I said, what is there to say? I’m not a part of that world anymore, but it doesn’t mean I don’t ever talk about it. There is a difference Ricardo.”
Ricardo tries to swallow but if feels as if there is a rock stuck in his throat; he reaches for his water and gulps it down. “I really feel ridiculous now. I should have asked about other things, like your work now, like why you decided to make pastries.”
A deep laugh comes from Vitor. “You still can. If you want to know why, it’s because it was my grandmother’s store. When she passed, the rest of the family wasn’t as interested in keeping it open, so I wanted to make sure her legacy went on. That’s why I do it.”
“Oh. She’d be proud, I’m sure. That’s a sweet reason why you do it.”
“I’m sure she is; she always said she was proud of me no matter what I accomplished. I wish she were still alive to see her business become even more loved.” They are interrupted by their food’s arrival, Ricardo actually grateful so he can recover from his embarrassment as he mentally kicks himself for asking about football first.
Vitor keeps his gaze on Ricardo, moving his foot to rub against Ricardo’s leg reassuringly. Ricardo glances at him, those big eyes staring, and the way Vitor is looking at him makes Ricardo feel as if Vitor is staring into his soul. They finish their lunch in near silence. Once he’s done eating, Vitor leans back in his chair and looks Ricardo over. “Your accent is a little different. Have you lived In Portugal all your life?”
Ricardo shakes his head. “No, I grew up in a lot of places. I was born in Lisbon, and I’ve lived in Brazil and Italy. My dad played football for part of my childhood.”
“The differences are subtle, I don’t think many others can spot it. Are you part Brazilian?”
“My father is. He came here for football many years ago, before he met my mother. She’s from here. So we grew up dividing our team between both sides of the family.” Vitor nods; it’s a usual story, many others living in the city tell a similar tale of their world divided.
Ricardo reaches for Vitor’s hand, just holding it for a second before letting go and asking, “Why Economics and Philosophy?”
Vitor pushes his plate away, then answers, “Economics, because I knew if I ever wanted to run my business, I needed to know it. I have always been good with numbers and money so it came natural to me. My father owned his own business and I grew up helping him on the weekends and during the summer. I watched how he knew everything about his business and how it depended on the economy. He was a laborer, mostly building things, and if the economy was bad he wasn’t getting work. I think it helped me to strive to understand that. When I first studied, years ago, I took a Philosophy class and I began to see everything differently. After that, I knew I had to learn more.”
“You should teach me; I nearly failed my Philosophy class. Maybe I’d pay better attention with you.”
Ricardo winks, not entirely aware that he’s done, but it makes Vitor laugh anyway. “I’ll teach you,” says Vitor. “I’ll even give you the tests and everything. If you don’t pass, well, I can find a way to punish you.”
“I’ll look forward to it, especially since if I pass, you’ll have to reward me.”
Ricardo can feel the flirting between them and he hopes Vitor does too, hopes he enjoys it just as much. Ricardo pays for their lunch and checks the time: still an hour or so before he needs to be at work. Ricardo leads him down the street to the local park and heads to his favorite spot, further inside the park near one of the fountains. He often came here with his mother as a child, and some of his favorite memories are of her reading to him and Hugo. He sits on one of the benches that face the fountain and smiles, Vitor sitting and putting his arm across the back of the bench. It’s then that Vitor moves to turn Ricardo’s face to his and kiss him gently.
Ricardo is not expecting the kiss at all, barely able to register it in his mind as his hands grasp onto Vitor, having his mind scream that this is Vitor Emanuel kissing him and that this is real. They both pull back as they hear voices coming closer, clear that neither of them is yet comfortable being out in public. Ricardo tries hard to hide his smile, making sure no one else is around as he leans in for another kiss, holding Vitor hard against him and biting his lip gently. “I need to go, but I don’t want to. I want to stay here all day.”
Vitor runs his fingers through Ricardo’s hair. “We can meet when you’re done. I’ll wait.” Ricardo smiles and kisses Vitor gently. “I’ll see you later.” Ricardo looks back at Vitor, his grin on his face getting bigger, barely realizing that for the first time in a long time, he isn’t thinking of Diego.
He isn’t sure if Vitor meant what he said, if he would still be up, but Ricardo texts anyway to let him know he can still come by if he wants. The reply is quick, just Vitor’s address, which tells Ricardo everything. He feels the sense of nervousness: not sure what to expect when he gets there, if they will talk or if it will go further. Not that he expects anything, really, since the kiss was just the icing on it all.
It takes Ricardo about forty-five minutes to get to Vitor’s flat, where he makes sure it is the right address before he presses the buzzer. “It’s Ricardo.” He hears the click of the lock and makes his way in towards Vitor’s door.
He doesn’t have to knock as Vitor answers, dressed down in a pair of well-worn pajama pants and a thin t-shirt that highlights his visible muscles underneath. Vitor pulls him into a hug. “Are you hungry? I have leftovers from dinner.”
“Starving. What did you make?”
“Some shrimp, rice, and vegetables. Sit, I’ll warm it up for you.”
Ricardo put his bag down and sits at the table, watching Vitor warm up his food and pour him a glass of water. “How was work?”
“It was fine. I’m doing this job for six months, shadowing a youth coach. I enjoy it, working with the kids. After the six months are up I hope to get my license so I can start to coach in my free time.”
“I’m sure you’ll be great at it. It sounds like you are passionate enough; that’s often all it takes.”
Vitor brings his plate over and sits it in front of Ricardo; grabbing a stack of papers, he puts on his glasses to read through them. Ricardo isn’t sure how it is possible for Vitor to be even sexier, but sure enough, the glasses do it for him. He eats the food, which is as delicious as he expects from a man already so good at baking. Once he finishes he gets up to wash his plate. “It was delicious, thank you.”
Vitor looks up from his grading and smiles. “You’re welcome. I’m glad you liked it.”
Ricardo sits back down, moving closer and looking at the papers. “Does this ever get boring?”
“Sometimes, when students write me dull papers. It’s all worth it when you get a really good paper or two, it’s those students who you really want to work with”
Ricardo runs his hand over Vitor’s neck, moving it down his chest and rubbing at it, then leaning to kiss his neck gently. “I don’t want to distract you.”
“I think I can handle it. You might have to try harder.”
Ricardo grins, moving his hand lower. “Nasty. I didn’t know men like you were still so feisty.”
“I’m not that old, remember. I still have plenty of wants and desires.”
Ricardo presses down, using his other hand to pull Vitor’s collar out of the way, then sucks on his neck. “Tell me what those desires are.”
Vitor takes a sharp intake of breath, and Ricardo knows he is chipping away at Vitor’s control. He pulls back, standing up and walking away from Vitor. “Finish your work, I’ll be in your bedroom.”
Ricardo is surprised at his own forwardness, especially since he and Diego had never…well he and Diego had always had their limits. They’d shared handjobs, and traded blowjobs, and they’d rubbed against each other to get off more times than he could count, but what if Vitor wants more than that? So he knows if Vitor wants it, he’ll give it, although he should probably tell Vitor about his lack of experience first. He waits, surprised that Vitor doesn’t immediately join him.
Instead, it takes Vitor a bit before he enters the room, going and turning on the lamp before sitting on the bed. Ricardo rolls to his side while reaching his hand under Vitor’s shirt, tracing down his spine. “When was the last time you had sex?”
He feels Vitor’s muscles tighten, hearing the sharp laugh almost barked out. “It’s been awhile, if you want to know. Am I supposed to ask you now? Is this how it works?”
“Well, I’ve never been fucked, if that’s where you’re going. Or been the one doing the fucking. Other stuff I’m more familiar with.”
Vitor looks over his shoulder, moving to lay on the bed and pull him in for a kiss. “Whenever you want to go all the way, we can do it. I’ll wait for you.”
Ricardo slides his leg between Vitor’s, moving his hips and holding onto Vitor’s shirt. “I want to see you naked, I want it off.” Ricardo tugs on it and pulls it off, letting it drop to the end of the bed, then kisses his way down Vitor’s chest.
Ricardo rubs at the perfect amount of body hair that is sprinkled across Vitor’s chest, making his way down to pull Vitor’s pants to his thighs.
Ricardo rubs his cheek against Vitor’s crotch, licking at the outline of Vitor’s cock through his underwear, making sure to keep his gaze on Vitor the whole time. He pulls Vitor’s cock out and licks at it, putting the head between his lips and moving his mouth. He knows he used to be pretty good at this — at least Diego used to tell him that all the time, and he is pretty sure the noises from Vitor reaffirms that.
Ricardo holds his gaze and it hits him: he is sucking off his football idol. He is sucking off the man that he used to watch play, the man that he wanted to be when he grew up. He lets his mouth slide off slow, panting as he reaches for his jeans, which are now feeling even tighter than usual. He kicks them off and begins messing with this shirt, cursing himself for wearing one with buttons. Vitor laughs and helps with the bottom few, running his hand over Ricardo’s stomach, snapping the waistband of his underwear. “Come here.”
Ricardo leans forward, his necklace falling between them, and Vitor takes the tiny saint between his finger and looking at the image. “I hope he doesn’t mind what might happen.”
Ricardo snorts, “I don’t think he will; he’s seen it before.”
Vitor raises an eyebrow, mouth curling into a smirk. “Kinky.”
Ricardo kisses Vitor, laying his body down onto of Vitor’s. He feels Vitor’s hands running down the back of his underwear to grab his ass, moving them to pull Ricardo’s underwear off. His hands always moving, touching Ricardo in ways that make him gasp, “Working with your hands makes you good at this.”
“I guess it does. I know all the ways I can make you come.”
He is right with that one. Ricardo can sense how close he is, squeezing his eyes closed as he comes onto Vitor’s hand and stomach, dropping his head to Vitor’s chest. “Fuck.”
Vitor kisses his neck, holds him close, kissing his ear as he murmurs, “You’re beautiful.”
Ricardo lifts his head and moves from Vitor’s embrace to work his way down, taking Vitor back into his mouth. He rubs at Vitor’s thighs as Vitor arches his hips, Ricardo feeling his cock down the back of his throat. He nearly gags but it feels so good, so he pulls back only a bit to allow Viitor to move his hips and set the pace. They keep up with each other until Ricardo is surprised with the warm liquid down his throat, and he coughs a bit as he pulls back to swallow it. “Sorry, was just caught off guard.”
“I’m sorry, I should have warned you.”
Ricardo waves his hand, leaning down to kiss Vitor. “It’s fine, really. I don’t mind.” He lays on his stomach, rubbing at his eyes. “It has to be late for you; I know you have to get up early.”
“I’d rather be awake for this then asleep. It’s much better than a dream.” Vitor runs his hand down Ricardo’s back, pressing gently at his muscles and watching Ricardo closes his eyes as Vitor reaches for the light Which sure enough, it is no more than five minutes later Ricardo is lightly snoring.
Ricardo opens his eyes and is confused for a second, unsure where he is, until he remembers, which then leads to wondering where Vitor is. He looks for his phone, not immediately seeing it, and assumes it must be in the kitchen still. He gets up and heads that way, picking up his bag, then reaches for his phone. He looks at the time and swears, realizing he already missed his first class. It’s useless to even go at this point, he thinks, seeing a missed text from Vitor and opening it:
Sorry I didn’t wake you, you looked like you needed sleep. Come by if you want or I can see you later. Also your mouth is heaven.
Ricardo laughs softly and heads to Vitor’s bathroom, figuring Vitor he won’t mind if he uses his shower; he looks for an extra toothbrush and luckily finds one in the medicine cabinet. He brushes his teeth before he goes to Vitor’s room. He pulls on his jeans and almost pulls on his shirt from last night but opts instead to look through Vitor’s closet, seeing a few t-shirts and finding one that is from his days in New York City (at least that’s what he assumes from the lettering), and he chooses it. He also sees his underwear, which he definitely won’t be wearing, and stuffs it into his bag to wash later. He takes a photo of himself and attaches it, sending his reply:
Found an extra toothbrush, hope you don’t mind. Also took a shirt from your closet, if you want it you have to come get it. See you when you get off.
He presses send, whisking away the photo along with a copy of his address, then heads to his apartment where he sends a quick email to classmates to ask for notes. Ricardo is seriously grateful he does not have to work today. It’s not until he’s sitting with his reheated soup and waiting for Vitor that he realizes he hasn’t thought about Diego, at least not until that very moment. He wonders what Diego would say if he told him about Vitor.
He wonders if Diego would believe him at first, if he would get jealous at the thought of someone else touching him. He isn’t sure how he’d feel if it was reversed, if Diego were to tell him he was with someone else. He decides against telling him, for now anyway. Besides, he doesn’t know what this thing with Vitor is, or what it could turn into, so he tells himself it’s better to wait.
He is half-asleep listening to some godawful afternoon novela when he hears the knock. The drowsiness is gone as soon as he gets up to open the door to let Vitor in. Vitor smirks, kissing him. “Nice shirt. It looks good on you.”
“Thanks, I’m thinking about keeping it.”
Vitor closes the door behind him and tugs Ricardo closer. “Did you make it to class?”
“No, and I really should blame you, it’s all your fault.”
“Hey, that’s not my fault you didn’t set an alarm.”
Ricardo strokes at Vitor’s beard. “I’m still going to blame you. I mean, it was all your fault I was naked in your bed.”
“You wanted it.”
“Yeah, I did, I enjoyed sucking off my childhood idol. Dream come true.” As soon as he says the words he regrets them, especially as he sees the look on Vitor’s face change. “I didn’t mean it like that, I’m sorry. It was stupid of me.”
Vitor pulls back. “Was this the plan, just to get me into bed? Maybe to sell your story to the papers that Vitor Emanuel, ex-footballer, is a gay man?”
“No, I swear, Vitor, it’s nothing like that. I mean, if I hadn’t known who you were I probably still would have flirted, I swear!”
Vitor shakes his head. “Look, I’m not here to be your fantasy fulfilled. I’m sure you have dreamed of this, wanted this, and you had me. So that’s about as far as it should go.”
Ricardo moves back a bit. “Is that what you think this is? That’s really not fair. I said it but I didn’t mean it, it was a joke. Maybe I did jerk off to you, but is that really that big of a deal?”
Vitor rubs at his face, sighing. “You’d understand it if you were me. I’m not going to waste my time here.”
Vitor turns around, going out the door. Ricardo scrambles for his shoes as he follows Vitor down the stairs. “Vitor, please don’t, I’m sorry. I don’t want you to walk away.”
Vitor keeps walking, not looking back, and Ricardo isn’t about to be like all the women from cheesy romance films and chase the male lead down the street. He stands there with his hands at his sides, not sure if this really happened. He ignores the looks cast his way and he heads back to his apartment, slamming his door. He wants to scream, maybe break a few things. Instead he chooses to grab a few beers from his fridge, sitting and drinking as he stares off into space. He isn’t sure who he should call, if anyone at all, but he reaches for his phone anyway to send a quick message to Hugo. His brother has never judged him before and Ricardo sure as hell hopes he won’t start now.
It is a few hours before Ricardo hears the knock at the door, already a little past wasted at this point. Hugo is there with food in his hands. It catches Ricardo off-guard. “For me?”
“For us. Also, you look like shit. What happened?” Ricardo shuts the door as Hugo walks in and sets the food down before he looks his brother over. “Have you been crying?”
Ricardo shakes his head. “I just drank a lot.”
“I swear, if this is over Diego, I’m leaving. I’ve been through this once already.”
“It’s not Diego, it’s someone else. You won’t believe me when I tell you.”
“Try me. Eat up, too, or you’ll really be sick later.” Ricardo pulls some of the food out and puts it on a plate. He barely even tastes it. Taking a deep breath, he spills everything to Hugo, who sits in silence through most of it, only occasionally making a comment.
Ricardo finishes and looks at Hugo. “I don’t know what to do now. I like him, not because he’s my childhood idol, but because I enjoy him as a person. I just, fuck, this sucks.”
Hugo nods, sipping his beer. “If he likes you too, then I think he’ll forgive you. GIve him a day or two, then go talk to him. He’ll hopefully understand.”
Ricardo sighs, “I hope.”
Hugo puts his arm around Ricardo, the forever protective big brother. “Cheer up, let’s not worry about it for now.” Hugo stays the night, falling asleep on Ricardo’s couch watching a terrible American film. Ricardo does his best to try and forget about Vitor for the time being, still hoping maybe Vitor will forgive him. He falls asleep in Vitor’s shirt, the scent of the other man still on him as he drifts away.
Ricardo avoids Vitor and the café at all costs over the next three days. He wants to see him, wants to apologize, but Hugo’s advice is the best: maybe with time Vitor will think about it and see Ricardo didn’t mean what he said, at least not in that way.
On the fourth day, Ricardo is heading back from errands as he walks past the café. He thinks about it for a long few moments before going inside. He waits in line, finally getting to the front where Vitor can see him. Ricardo nervously taps the counter. “Hey, the usual if you have it.”
“Of course,” Vitor replies, reaching for the wax paper to put the pastry in.
Ricardo bites his lip, noticing that Vitor is avoiding his gaze at all costs.
“They’re on the house.”
Ricardo sighs, “I still should pay, I–”
But Vitor holds a hand up. “It’s on me.” Ricardo nods and heads to a table, eating slowly and still feeling the knot in his stomach twisting and turning. He’s not sure how he should feel about the interaction.
He sits and waits till it’s closing time, surprised that Vitor doesn’t ask him to leave. Ricardo sighs as Vitor walks past. “So are we just back to customer and owner, or can we still be something? I like you a lot, Vitor, not for the reason you think. I just…I want to maybe try this, if you want the same thing. I know you enjoyed our time together too, don’t pretend you didn’t.”
Vitor stops to look at him, rubbing at his beard. “My ex called me last night. It’s been five years, but he wants to meet up. I said yes.”
Ricardo’s heart drops. “Oh…of course. I mean if he wants to get back together, it make sense.”
“I didn’t say we’d do that, but I do want to see him. I still love him.”
Ricardo nods. Well, this is some timing, he thought. It seems life is taking him for a ride. “Okay. Um. I guess just call me whenever, if you want…I better go, though.” Ricardo stands up and heads for the exit, not sure if he wants to laugh or cry at the way things are turning out. Maybe this is all just some sort of cruel joke. He stands there for a second staring at the sky, almost as if asking why him.
He gets back to his apartment and takes his phone out, texting Diego, mentally calculating the time difference in his head, not sure if Diego would be awake at such an awful hour:
Thought I had met someone, apparently they want to see their ex.
Ouch. Wanna talk? I’m available.
Ricardo reaches for his laptop, where he waits for Diego’s gorgeous face to pop up, and smiles when it does. “Hey, you.”
“Hey. You look awful, but in a really good way.”
Ricardo laughs, “What a compliment, you always know how to make me feel special.”
Ricardo spends the rest of the day talking to Diego, reminiscing on old times, reminding Ricardo that yeah, he does love Diego, and probably always will, but their love is probably better kept at the friendship level. They only hang up on each other when Diego leaves for work, Ricardo lying there and still feeling slightly sorry for himself. He debates whether or not to text Vitor, his fingers hovering over the screen before typing out the message,
Still want to talk, clear the air…meet me tomorrow?
Ricardo knows that Vitor might not answer immediately, so he forces himself to get up and search his kitchen for any food he can make into a meal. He cooks whatever he can throw together, then sits with the food as he finishes his homework. Eventually he checks his phone to see a message from Vitor, telling Ricardo to meet him after class at a provided address. Ricardo smiles and texts back that he will see him then.
Ricardo isn’t sure who’s on his side right now, but it feels good. He hopes that maybe he can convince Vitor that this isn’t about having him because of who he was, but because of who he is. Ricardo just hopes his attempts at reconciling won’t go down the drain.
Ricardo heads to Vitor’s university after class, getting off at the stop and making his way to the campus as he searches for the building he needs. He finds it and heads to Vitor’s classroom, where he waits down the hall as the students filter out.
Vitor sees him soon enough and Ricardo just raises his hand to let him know he’s here. Ricardo waits, letting the students finish up their goodbyes and last minute questions before he goes to meet Vitor. Ricardo wants nothing more than to hug him, to feel him again, but he stops himself. Vitor scratches his own head and smiles. “Come with me to my office.”
They head down the stairs. Vitor leads him to his office, which is about as big as a closet. Ricardo knows he should speak first: it’s probably better to clear the air. “I want to apologize. Looking back, I think I was feeling really…I don’t know. I was just so happy in a sense, not because of you being famous or anything, but because I truly enjoyed what happened. I don’t know why I said that, as if it matters who you were in the past. I mean, it does, but you know.…”
Ricardo feels even more idiotic, hoping the floor might open up and swallow him, but Vitor nods. “I’m sorry I lost my temper. I’m so used to people wanting to know me for what I was in the past, not for who I am now. I’ve had plenty of people seek me out because they realize who I am and want to hear the story. I didn’t want you to be that person.”
Ricardo looks before grabbing Vitor’s hand, squeezing it. “I’m not, I swear. I promise I’d never betray you like that.”
Vitor stands to close the door, then moves to stand in front of Ricardo and lifts his chin up. “I also need to apologize, Ricardo, for hurting you the other day.”
Ricardo isn’t quite sure what he means, but Vitor answers his question before he can even ask it: “My ex did call me, but he has someone already. We’d never get back together. It was childish to even bring that up.”
Ricardo feels a sense of relief. “I understand. I really do. I know what it’s like to have someone in your past.”
Vitor leans down to kiss him softly. “Let me make it up to you. Come back with me.”
Vitor drives them back to his place, and as soon as they get there he heads for the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. He turns to face Ricardo as Ricardo stands in front of him, running his hand under Vitor’s shirt. “Tell me about football. What was it like? I’ve only played with friends”
“Amazing, it’s just amazing. It’s a rush and a high, you go out there and suddenly all these people are yelling your name. Especially as a goalkeeper! The whole world stops when the ball is coming at you, and making a save is the biggest adrenaline rush you can get. It was amazing. In some ways I’m so thankful I got to experience that, even if for the briefest amount of time possible.”
Vitor checks his coffee, pouring two cups as he hands one over. “I was so devastated when I was injured, because I kept thinking life was over. That nothing would ever be the same. I got a chance to experience life in a whole new way after that, though. I spent all that time in the hospital and in rehab thinking about what I wanted, and I realized I had still been hiding myself.
“I had known about my feelings towards men, and I had acted on them, but I could never be a professional football player and be gay at the same time. Not back then, and to be honest, not even now. While I was doing rehab I was sent to Madrid, where I met Raúl, my ex. I really fell in love. I then thought about it and said to myself, what was more important, to be able to do what I loved in football or to be able to love someone, to be loved, and to have a life that wasn’t about hiding?”
Vitor sips his coffee before putting the cup down, leaning to kiss Ricardo softly, VItor’s fingers pushing his hair from his eyes. “So for me, leaving football was the best thing that happened to me. I lived my life as just Vitor, with my lover, with the ability to walk down the street and know that I could go home to the man I loved. People think I don’t talk about football or watch football much because I’m still so devastated about not being able to play, but the reality is, I’m happy.
“I don’t talk football because I’m not ready to tell the world that I’m a gay man and I’ve been one my whole life. Because they will still find a way to put that on the news for weeks, to try and interview me, to talk to friends and family and everyone in my life. I don’t need the whole world to know. My parents know. My friends know. The football world, I don’t identify with it anymore. I’m not a part of something that still can’t accept people of all kinds, that those who are gay have to hide themselves just to play the game.”
Vitor pulls Ricardo into a hug, kissing his neck. “That’s why I don’t want to be your idol. I’m not that man anymore. I’m me, just Vitor. That’s who I want to be forever.”
Ricardo touches Vitor’s jaw. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking right. It wasn’t fair to put you in that spot.”
Vitor smiles, playing with Ricardo’s hair. “It’s okay now, I’m just glad I could tell you. It’s rather liberating.”
Vitor’s hands move down Ricardo’s back, holding him there, and Ricardo closes his eyes. It’s the most wonderful feeling, to have everything in the world be right again, to be here with Vitor.
Vitor lifts Ricardo’s head, tracing his lips. “What about you, what about your lovers?”
“I only had one, Diego. He’s Argentinian and he was here for football. We were best friends growing up. We’d fool around a lot and I loved him. I mean, I still do, but back then I just thought he was perfect. He is more interested in his football and faith. Not that I completely blame him, I just know that I come behind those two things in his life. He lives in Buenos Aires now where he plays football for a living. I’m happy for him, but you always wish that life wasn’t so complicated.”
Vitor kisses him again. “Life doesn’t have to be complicated for us. There’s nothing to stop us from having this, from being something.”
Ricardo grins as Vitor leads him down the hall to the bedroom, stumbling back onto the bed when they get there. Ricardo pulls Vitor’s shirt off, kissing on that perfectly stubbled neck and jaw, feeling Vitor’s hands pushing his pants down. “I want to devour you. I want to taste every inch of your skin, to watch you shiver.”
Ricardo arches up, holding Vitor’s head in place as he licks up Ricardo’s thigh, peeling his underwear off to take Ricardo into his mouth. It’s like his apology extended to this, not that Ricardo is complaining at all. He wants to watch, but the intensity is too much; his eyes close, hands moving to clamp down on Vitor’s shoulders as his mouth meets Ricardo in places he didn’t know would feel so good. He definitely hadn’t experimented that much with Diego, never thought sex could feel this fantastic.
Vitor moves back slightly, running his hand down Ricardo’s stomach. “How far do you want to go tonight?”
Ricardo reaches for Vitor’s fingers, licking them. “I’ll do whatever you want, I’m yours tonight.”
That is enough for Vitor to get what he needs, slicking his fingers up as he teases Ricardo, kissing his inner thigh. “You are gorgeous, every inch of you is perfect.” Ricardo gasps as the first finger makes its way in, not painful like he expected, just slightly uncomfortable at first. Once he gets used to the sensation, Vitor begins to work a second in. The hint of pain that washes over with the pleasure explains why people enjoy it so much. Vitor smirks, licking at him and moving his fingers. Vitor’s eyes are watching as he hits the spot that has Ricardo making low noises, hips pushing down, begging for more.
Vitor slips the condom on and positions himself. Ricardo nods as Vitor slowly moves in, feeling his heart beating faster as he braces for the pain, longing for the pleasure to sweep over him. It takes a few moves of Vitor’s hips, a little more lube, and that’s when he detects the burning intensity growing inside himself. Vitor leans down, kissing at Ricardo’s neck. “You feel so amazing. I can stay inside you all night, make you feel this way as you get off over and over,” Ricardo groans, holding onto the back of Vitor’s neck, his cock twitching against his stomach.
Vitor reaches down, stroking Ricardo and smiling at the far-out, dazed look on Ricardo’s face. Ricardo wraps his hand around Vitor’s, setting the pace he needs, and Ricardo swears the noises coming from him are noises he’s never made before; he’s close to feeling an out-of-body experience. The orgasm hits with a bit of surprise and a force that has his body jerking with each spurt, everything feeling sensitive to touch, still twitching as he lets his hand fall to his side.
Vitor kisses him and pulls out slowly, pulling the condom off as he works himself to a finish, coming on Ricardo’s thigh. Ricardo reaches down to touch Vitor, a smile forming. “I’m not sure I’m even alive.”
“You are so alive, you make me feel twenty years younger.” Vitor moves to lie back.
Ricardo throws a leg over Vitor as he holds onto his arm, eyes slowly closing. “Give me another hour and we can do it again.”
Vitor laughs, stroking Ricardo’s hand. “You might need to give this old man two if you want that again.”
“Holding you to it.”
It’s a few weeks after that when Ricardo thinks about asking Vitor to a game. He’s not sure what Vitor will say, but it’s almost end of the season and Ricardo has the time to enjoy a game. Who better to take than Vitor? Ricardo’s laying on Vitor’s couch when he asks, “I have two tickets to a game; do you think you’d want to go?”
Vitor strokes Ricardo’s legs. “I think I will. It’s been a few years since my last game but I think it would be fun.”
Ricardo isn’t sure if he’s heard that right, but he kisses Vitor out of happiness, so thrilled he can’t help himself. “I guess I better get you a jersey.”
“Don’t push your luck. I have an old shirt I can wear, so I’ll try and blend in and make sure people don’t recognize me.”
“If they do, we can lie and say you’re his twin. No one has to know.”
It’s the next weekend that they head out together, Ricardo laughing at the ridiculously worn t-shirt that Vitor actually owns; the fabric is so thin it could nearly pass as see-through, but it looks great on Vitor so RIcardo isn’t complaining. They make their way to the metro station, watching as it fills with fellow fans all packing themselves onto the train heading to the stadium. Ricardo stands face to face with Vitor, holding onto him as their bodies sway together. Vitor holds onto the railing, his other arm around Ricardo’s waist, not seeming to care in that moment about the possible eyes on them. Many are focused on their own surroundings, everyone else pressed against each other, whether they’re friends or strangers.
The train lurches to a stop at the station near the stadium and they file out, Ricardo making sure Vitor is with him as they head to the street, feeling the rush as he sees the stadium come into view. It always gives him a tingle up his spine, hearing the songs and chants, seeing the lights blinding them all. It is a sense of home. Ricardo turns to look at Vitor, watching his face as he takes in the stadium that he had once played in. Ricardo reaches for Vitor’s hand, taking it in his own. “You okay?”
“Yeah, it’s just…I forgot how beautiful it is.”
They make their way to the gates, where Ricardo pulls his tickets out and passes through the turnstile. He leads Vitor towards their seats, which are quite high up, but still an amazing point from which to see everything below; in spite of the view, Ricardo is more interested in watching Vitor’s expressions, especially the smile he’s trying so hard to fight but has to let happen. The joy is contagious as Ricardo put his arm around Vitor and whispers, “This is your home, embrace it.”
The game is a beautiful experience, to be able to yell, sing, and celebrate with 60,000-odd other fans, to be this collective unit drowning in the wave of colors blending together. The game ends in their favor by a comfortable margin. Ricardo feels proud he could take Vitor to a game that would make him a fan again.
Together they file out onto the street with other fans, Ricardo buzzing off the high from the win and the few beers he had, singing along with the other fans as they all make their way into the night. He’s still singing even as they find themselves surrounded by fewer and fewer fans, arms out open as Vitor pulls him close and kisses on his neck. “Thank you for taking me.”
“I’m just glad you came. Remember why you fell in love with football in the first place?”
Vitor wraps his arms around Ricardo’s shoulders, pushing him against a wall and leaning to kiss him. Ricardo runs his hands under Vitor’s shirt as they make out in a nearly deserted street, ignoring the few looks thrown their way as Ricardo moans, “We’re going to get caught.”
“Oh well, I’d take you here if I could.”
They laugh, Ricardo stroking Vitor’s cheek as Vitor presses his lips to Ricardo’s wrist. Ricardo sways, pulling on Vitor’s hand. “Come on, handsome, take me home and you can tell me all about your favorite memories.”
“I’ll tell you about my first trophy, my first parade. It was magical being up on that bus, seeing the thousands of fans below screaming your name. There is nothing like it.”
Vitor puts his arm around Ricardo as they make their way back to his place, Ricardo holding onto Vitor’s hand and smiling. “When the team wins the league, I promise we’ll be the ones out in the street, celebrating the parade just like the old days.” They walk off, the stadium lights behind them, streetlights illuminating the path, and Ricardo thinks, this is home.