"I'll call very night, I promise." Anton said hugging his mother goodbye. He didn't want to let her go, almost as if he held her long enough, she would be ok. Reluctantly he let go, and proceeded out of the door and back towards their car. Zachary decided to drive back to let Anton rest and so he wouldn't be distracted behind the wheel.
Once the pair returned to their flat, Anton couldn't get in fast enough because of his emotions coming to light. Anger, sadness, anxiety; all blossomed in his mind as residual anxiety from his many sleepless nights about someone finding out he was gay also made its presence known.
All Zach could do is just embrace Anton as he felt his shirt become damp from his lovers tears. He hated seeing Anton so distraught, sad, depressed; he hated how his lover has to deal with so much with his mother being sick, the immense pressure he is under from fans and managers on top of not feeling safe enough to reveal his biggest secret with his teammates out of fear of hatred and distain for his orientation. Questions like: will he break? Will he retire quietly due to stress? Will he be outed? All of these buzzed through Zach's head, and probably the most important question was 'will I be there for him? Do I love him that much?' Zach laughed at the thought, but as he began to really think about it, there were many cute guys out there that are far more attractive to him than Anton is to him... 'Is my love for him fading?' He thought as his lover regained his composure. 'I may be an asshole for doing this, but I have to...' Zach thought once again.
"Anton... We need to talk..."
"What's wrong?" Anton said sitting upright on the couch. Zach could feel his emotions churning as he looked on Anton's unsuspecting face. Zach took a breath. "I don't... I...."
"What is it?" Anton said putting a hand on Zachary. "I don't... I don't love you as much as I thought I did..." He choked as he slipped the ring off his finger. "W-what? But I thought--"
"My love for you isn't as strong as yours is for me, and I can't lead you on anymore..." Zach said as Anton's world crumbled around him. His heart collapsed in his chest as the one person he thought he could rely on got up, packed his things and left, leaving Anton to sit alone in his dimly lit flat. The only sounds filling the room were the sounds of Anton's weeps.
The days that followed killed Anton as he felt like he was trapped in a room with nothing in it; No character, no color. Anton struggled to even get out of bed in the morning to go to football training during the week, and the upcoming Euro League game against Juventus weighed on his mind as well. His performance has been lacking due to his mother being sick and him being alone. It was a miracle to him that he hasn't broken himself yet.
The ride to Stamford Bridge was nothing short of uneventful; Anton was driving unusually slowly considering his average speed is at or 25 mph over the speed limit. Tonight should be exhausting; first, Anton gets to ride a bus with his teammates to Heathrow, then he gets to fly to Italy and play against one of the premier European teams, Juventus, then it's the same thing back. Another aspect weighed on him as he pulled into the parking lot, and climbed out of his car; "should I come out to the guys?" He thought.
He alarmed his car and made his way over to the bus to check in with the assistant managers and to find a place to sit. As he made his way down the aisle of leather covered seats, he sat next to Topher (pronounced tofer), a younger guy on the team at his 19 years of age. "Hey flash!" Topher smiled with his green eyes shining bright through his long black hair. "Hey Topher." Anton smiled weakly. The bus shortly began to move as the rest of the teammates took their seats and began lightly talking.
"Alright boys," the team captain Jack Harper began.
"Tonight, we're gonna go into Turin and take those Italian fucks down, yeah?"
"Eeeeeyy! Easy!!" The only Italian player on the team, Enzio laughed with a smile as the rest of the guys started laughing as well. "Oh right, forgot you were here too..." Jack cooed as Enzio tossed a sock in Jack's direction. "May I just say," Roberto, a center back, said as he stood up. "I'd rather be Italian than a Frenchie!" He mocked as he pointed at Anton. Anton just shrugged and smiled. "I mean hey, they are all fags down there anyways... You can't tell a Frenchie from a fag!" He laughed. Anton put on a good face as his heart sank further in his chest.
Anton checked his phone to look at the time, but he had forgotten that there was a picture of Zachary and he at the beach back in 2015. "Whose that?" He heard to his right. He quickly hid the picture and got a bit angry. "Nobody..." He said coldly. "Well obviously he isn't 'nobody' flash..."
'God damn it, why does Topher have to be so smart and witty?' He groaned in his head. He closed his eyes, and said it. "He was my ex boyfriend.." He said under his breath. Topher leaned in real close and flipped over the phone that was still on the lock screen.
"he's hot..." Topher said quietly. Anton shot his head around and looked at Topher. He knew Topher wasn't kidding. "You're---"
"Bisexual." Topher answered quickly and quietly. "I'm scared though D-dude... I don't... I don't want anyone to find out.. Please don't say anything ok?" Topher said looking at the ground.
"I won't say a thing." Anton said smiling as the bus rocked forward towards Heathrow.
"S-So..." Topher said as he broke the silence.
"Are you like... Are you seeing anyone?" Topher added. Anton was a bit taken back by the 19 year old's question. "No, I'm not." Anton laughed as the thought of him and Topher being together entered his mind. But In an effort to get it out of his mind, he thought of Zachary, and instantly got upset. "Yo flash, you ok buddy?" Fellow forward Ben Kippen asked from across the aisle. The bus soon went quiet and Anton could feel eyes on him as he looked around the bus. "Come on flash, tell us. We're your teammates; hell we're family." Hans, a defender said from a few rows back. "Ok..." Anton said quietly as he stood up using the seat to hold his balance. "I don't know if you guys knew before, but I'm... I...." Anton couldn't say it; football was his life, and he doesn't want to risk it just because his teammates are curious. Anton shifted his weight and looked at the ground.
Anton opened his eyes as he hears laughter. "That's it?! Come on flash, do you really think you couldn't tell us that? Besides we kinda already--"
"Woah!! Hold on!" The manager, Felipe Rosario said, standing up as he gained his balance. "I know everyone is reeling from Anton's revelation, but we are going to keep this behind closed doors for Anton's benefit. Drunken fans can be dangerous, and especially if they are homophobic and God for bid Anton has a bad game--"
"I have something to say too..." Topher said as he stood up too. His youthful eyes scanning the bus as he announces his bisexuality. Mr. Rosario was dumbfounded, not only did he need to protect Anton, but now 2 players from harassment. But he also saw the potential in this development; Chelsea can now be a team that means something, one that gave not one but 2 LGBT athletes an opportunity to play openly. He decided to get on the phone with his superiors.
"Honestly I'm a bit steamed you guys couldn't trust us to tell us. I mean after all, I couldn't care less." Said Alex, the goalkeeper. "I've woken up after heavy drinking next to a guy; I don't give a fuck, and neither should you guys."
"No you just like to stick your dick in any hole you can get in, you sod!" Jack said as Alex mocked him. Everyone laughed as the manager got off the phone and made the announcement that the ownership will fully support Anton and Topher should they choose to come out publicly.
The bus rocked as it pulled up to the airport, the guys grabbed their bags and adjusted their club suits as they disembarked their bus to get on their chartered plane. Press lined the walkway as flashes and lights illuminated the early morning sky. Some players stopped to answer questions, others just wanted to get on the plane and leave; Anton was one of them.
Anton stuffed himself in the front of the plane as he buckled himself in to the soft leather seat. Topher sat right next to him once again. Anton always had a fear of flying; which is interesting because he flies all the time. He grasped the belt tighter and tighter as the plane was sealed and began taxiing. He felt a hand on his, and saw Topher looking at him. "It'll be ok." He said as Anton looked deep into his green eyes. Anton rested his head as the plane made its way up to the runway. A deafening sound rumbled as the engines blasted the plane forward. Anton squeezes tightly on the armrest as the plane gathers speed. The plane shakes as Anton squeezes down on his eyes, almost as if trying to block out the sun. The plane lurched a bit and the shaking stopped. Anton opened his eyes as the plane turned and ascended into the crystal blue sky. "See?" Topher smiled.
"Not so bad after all." He added as Anton breathed heavily; resting his head on the back of the seat. Anton shook his head in relief, and opened his laptop and started watching film about Juventus's defense setup; trying to find gaps he can exploit. Anton soon got bored; his eyes wandered to Topher sitting next to him who had fallen asleep which was somehow possible through all the noise from the engines and banter coming from their teammates. His eyes roamed over his youthful body as he examined the taught, flawless skin on his arms, the way his arms were perfectly proportioned with his body; his pecs not too bulgy. He was tempted to reach over and touch him; to feel his body. He reaches over the seat, and just as soon as he decided to, he woke up. "Anton?" Topher said with a tired, confused look in his eyes. "N-nothing..." Anton said as he turned to look out the window. As he watched the clouds slowly pass, he felt a hand caress his crotch. It was Topher!
"I can be naughty too, Anton." He said with a cheeky grin. He continued to slowly slide his hand up and down Anton's hardening shaft; "we're roomies on this trip, Flash..." He winked.
Anton blushed; he took a hold of Topher's hand and moved it away from his crotch. "This is wrong... We're teammates--"
"I just.... I can't Topher ok? Please dont push me to do things ok?" Anton said looking out the window; he heard Topher sigh, "fine. I'm sorry."
Once the plane touched down in Milan, Anton was happy to be back on solid ground again, but his mind wondered; back to his situation with Topher in the plane, how Topher was so confident, so in charge of his feelings and of his desires. Anton couldn't help but acknowledge how good looking Topher was for his tender age.
Anton pushed the thought from his mind as the team made their way to the coach bus outside to take them to Turin. The game isn't for another few hours, so the manager is having his forwards do some practicing of penalties and some agility courses.
It was a pretty lukewarm day at the stadium when they finally got there; the whole team had nerves much like Anton did. It was kind of the feeling you get when you are really excited about something and your insides shake but your muscles don't. Anton never did like that feeling at all; it made him feel like he was going to throw up.
Anton followed the others into the dressing room, and began peeling off his clothes at the nearest set of lockers. Anton opened his duffel bag he had picked up outside and pulled out his tight fitting kit. He noticed that a few players left their underwear on and slipped on their cups over them. 'Strange...' Anton thought. They had never done that before that he can recall, but he paid little attention to it as well. He soon was adjusting his cup, and sliding up the under armor thermal briefs because it's cold today. He sat down on the bench behind him and strapped on his shin pads, and slipped on his stockings. He noticed Topher sitting down next to him as he slipped on his jersey, "hey flash... Um... Are you nervous about tonight? I am..." He said as he visibly shook. This was no doubt Topher's biggest game of his very young career, and who can blame him for being a bit nervous? Anton consoled him as Topher shook quietly. "It's ok bud. I'm scared too."
"Really?" Topher said with shock.
"Of course. Even for me, I get nervous before every game." Anton said as he pulled up his soccer shorts and slipped on his tight fitting jersey. "It's just... Why I like football." Anton said as he fetched his cleats. "C'mon." Anton said waiving for Topher to follow him. "Practice time."
As the other guys made their way to the field, Anton's cell phone went off. He dug it out of his bag, and saw it was his mother.
"Mother?" He answered in his native tongue.
"Hi, Anni. Your father and I made our way to Turin this morning; we wanted to come and see you play." She said with a cheery voice. Anton's heart went berserk. "Mother, don't you think you should stay home and rest? After all--"
"Anni, I'm 58 years old, it's time for me to live my life the way I wish it to be, and I wish to see you play, and that's what I am going to do. I'll see you then, Anni! I love you so much." She said as Anton was rendered speechless. "I love you too mother." He said as he hung up the phone. He took a deep breath and headed outside to the practice pitch.
Anton was startled as the manager appeared at his side. "Are you feeling ok? You look a bit dazed..." He said observing the player Chelsea paid 8.8 million pounds for. "Yes... I am fine.." Anton said looking at his boots (cleats).
In reality, Anton was not fine by any means. His mother and father made the trek to Turin today from Nice, and he couldn't be more nervous to play in front of them, especially his father.
"Ok off you go then. Run between these sliding cutouts, and score a goal at the end, ok? GO!"
Anton kicked the ball forwards a bit as he ran towards the first cutout; kicking the ball to the left as he moved with it. "Faster Flash!! Move your ass, you got 15 seconds!!" The manager called. Anton pushed on; his concentration starting to fade as he dodged another cutout, his nerves got the better of him, and he tripped on the third cutout. His foot got caught between the bases of two cutouts, and he felt his foot twist, and crack as his momentum took him one way, and the cutouts took his foot the other way, causing his ankle to twist. A terrible pain filled Anton's leg and ankle; Anton grabbed at it while he rolled on the ground In agony, he looked down at the swollen ankle and he knew it had been sprained.
"You ok Flash?" Asked Alex as he ran over as well as the manager and a few other players to help Anton up. "No I'm not ok! Can't you see that?!" Anton exploded as Alex was surprised at Anton's outburst of anger towards him. "Sorry.." He said being helped up from André and Claus. "Can you put any weight on it?" Asked Felipe, the manager. Anton put his foot to the pitch and tried to stand on it but the pain shot up his leg, causing his knee to buckle. Anton shook his head no as he grimaced at the pain.
"Now what are we gonna do?" Asked Claus as he slugged Anton's left arm over his shoulder. All eyes were on Topher. "M-Me?"
"Here's your chance kid, you up for it?" Asked Felipe.
Topher reluctantly nodded yes.