It’s not birthday themed but it is a pretty special one. It turned out to be a little longer than I originally intended as well, hence why it’s posted in two parts. This follows on from the very first piece I wrote, the beginning I’d already written and posted previously but I thought seeing as how it turned out to be so long it deserved to be posted in it’s entirety.
In the moments following Jogi’s surprise arrival, the two of them stood there in silence, merely gazing into each other’s eyes. Nobody moved, the air was still, silent but for the sound of Jogi breathing. In that moment neither of them needed to say anything and neither of them needed to move. They were not standing right next to each other, Hansi still by the door and Jogi frozen in place just outside. They did not need to be, they had shared the same space for countless hours, at matches and conferences and training sessions. Their closeness was already such that they didn’t need to be close together now.
When movement did occur it was Jogi who made the first move, walking slowly but purposefully towards Hansi. Hansi put out his hand which met Jogi’s chest as he approached, not to stop him but as a reminder of all the times he had done so previously, as a sign that those moments had not gone unnoticed or un-cherished by him. This time he was not stopping him from doing something stupid, this time when Jogi stopped upon feeling Hansi’s hand he reached up and took it and let Hansi lead him into the house.
There were so many things to talk about, so many things that needed to be said, so many questions about so many moments that Hansi wanted to ask. Maybe because there were so many things to say, they ended up saying very little to each other. Neither of them knew where to start. Jogi usually so commanding and decisive was helpless, he may have been the one who phoned Hansi and driven here but he had no clue as to what would happen next. The man who always had a plan, who thought of every possible eventuality had none here. Just as on the pitch when he needed a new idea he turned to Hansi, ever reliable Hansi who always knew what to do and say so that he could figure out what to do next.
He looked up at Hansi who was still standing, having led Jogi to sit on the sofa. Instead of sitting next to him Hansi had remained standing there, one of his hands still holding his and the other caressing his hair. As Jogi looked up at him, Hansi had let go of Jogi’s hand and started to turn away, suddenly aware that he was still in his pyjamas and intending to go and get dressed. Indecisive he may have been in regards to everything else but here Jogi knew what he wanted, he was not going to let Hansi go anywhere, not just yet. He grabbed hold of his hand, pulling him towards him. Before he knew what was happening Hansi found himself sitting next to Jogi on the sofa, so quickly and without warning had Jogi pulled him over that Hansi was almost sitting on top of him.
Feeling Hansi close to him, Jogi pulled him even closer, so close that he could smell his hair and so that Hansi could nestle his head into his chest. Jogi loved how sweet Hansi looked right now, in his t-shirt and shorts, his hair still a little messy and the sleep that he hadn’t time to rub out of his eyes yet.
He lay back, allowing Hansi to snuggle up to him, the perfect position for him to fall asleep. They remained there like that for a while, not saying anything or doing anything. Jogi was wide awake the whole time; he wanted to remember every moment of this. Hansi still not fully woken up yet and basking in the warmth Jogi provided could not help but drift back into the sleep that he had not long ago woken up from. Every so often he would wake up with a start, as if he was unsure whether or not the morning’s events had been a dream or had really happened. Each time he awoke with a start Jogi was there to remind him that it was real and to tighten his grip on his hand.
After lying there for some time Hansi decides that getting dressed may be a good idea, that is if he can convince Jogi to let go of him. Getting up Hansi attempts to free himself from Jogi’s grasp.
“Please don’t leave, Hansi.”
“Jogi, I’m not leaving you, I’ll never leave you. And besides, we’re at my house, remember?”
“Hansi’s house, we’re at Hansi’s house” answers Jogi, more to himself than anything else. Hearing how Jogi repeats himself this way Hansi knows he’s not going to let go of him anytime soon.
“I have a better idea, how about you come with me to get dressed?”
“Will you let me dress you?”
“Anything you want, Jogi.”
“So if I want to spend the rest of the day by your side I can?”
“You can, I meant it. I’m not leaving you.”
This time when Hansi attempts to get up Jogi not only allows him to but he gets up as well. Hansi makes his way upstairs with Jogi trailing behind him, still holding on to his hand. Only when they get to his room does Jogi let go. Standing there in front of the wardrobe Jogi need not say a word for Hansi to know what he wants, just like at work he knows exactly what he’s thinking. It’s one of those times Hansi knows what Jogi’s thinking even before he knows himself.
“Dressing me isn’t enough, is it? You want to pick my clothes too?”
“Can I do that?”
“Like I said, whatever you want.”
Jogi doesn’t say a word in reply but no words are required for Hansi to know how happy he is. There’s no trace of happiness on his face either, at least not for other people to see. You have to know Jogi like Hansi does to know he’s happy right now. It’s the kind of thing you can only know after spending so much time with someone, after being by their side day in day out, year after year. The kind of thing you learn without even knowing you’re learning. Just like Hansi knows not say a word to Jogi as he picks out his clothes for him. Knowing Jogi as he does he’s more than aware talking to him would be futile, that he won’t hear a single word you’re saying.
So Hansi stays quiet as Jogi begins the process of undressing him, not even when Jogi pauses to leave his hand in a most pleasing place does he say anything. He’d like to but he keeps quiet, instead looking appreciatively at Jogi. Hansi stays equally quiet when Jogi dresses him, just enjoying the moment whilst it lasts. Only when he’s sure Jogi is finished does he say what he’s thinking.
“You want to spend all day by my side; you could always spend the night here too, if you want.”
The look on Jogi’s face makes Hansi wish he hadn’t said a word of this but he doesn’t know why. He really can’t work out where he’s gone wrong, nor what could make Jogi look so panicked. It’s an expression Hansi’s familiar with, that’s not the problem. The problem is he’s not used to being the one who makes that look appear on Jogi’s face, he’s usually the one who fixes it. With no answer forthcoming from Jogi he asks “Did I say something wrong?”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“You need a minute to think?”
“No, more time won’t help.”
“Are you worried about being too blunt?”
“Forget about that; just tell me what you’re thinking.”
“I can’t stay here.”
“It makes you unhappy, and I don’t want to make you unhappy but I can’t stay here, I can’t sleep here. Not without, without….”
In the silence Hansi works it out what he’s done wrong, what it is that’s made Jogi panic so much. Now it’s so obvious to him he wonders he could ever have made such a mistake. Caught up in the excitement of the moment he’d completely forgotten just who is standing in front of him, just who it is that he’s dealing with.
“Jogi, I’m sorry, I should never have said that. That was really stupid of me. Asking you to sleep here, just springing it on you like this, I know better. It’s just all of this is so new, I really didn’t think.”
“You understand it’s not because of you, that it’s not because I don’t want to be with you?”
“Trust me; I know it’s not that. It’s because it’s a surprise.”
“Not just that.”
“This is scary, Hansi.”
“I know, it’s scary for me too. Exciting but still scary.”
“I don’t want to get this wrong.”
“There’s nothing to get wrong, not here. It’s not the kind of thing you do right or wrong. This is not the time or place for you to be worrying about perfectionism.”
“I really don’t want to get this wrong.”
“You won’t, don’t worry.”
“What do we do now?”
“This is unusual.”
“Yes, normally you always know what to do; you never ask me so directly for help that way. Normally you just need a word or a push in the right direction; you’re never asking me for help like this.”
“Am I getting it wrong?”
“Jogi, relax, you’re not getting it wrong.”
“I’m annoying you now, aren’t I?”
“No, never. Listen to me, I know you, I know what you’re like, I know all your quirks. Better than anyone else in the world I know all of this, and I love you anyway. Just please stop worrying so much.”
“I can’t help that.”
“I know. How about we just sit here for a while?”
“That’s all, whatever you want.”
“We can talk too, right?”
“Yes, we can talk.”
Hansi is plenty used to Jogi and all his strange little ways. He hadn’t been lying when he said any of that. Used to it he may be but it still makes him smile how literal Jogi is. He doesn’t know or understand why exactly, all he knows is it never fails to make him smile.
Taking hold of Jogi’s hand he leads him over to the bed, he sits down but Jogi doesn’t follow. Instead he stands there nervously holding on to Hansi’s hand.
“Jogi, are you ok?”
“You want to come and sit here with me?”
“Come on then.”
“Being that close to you, it’s….”
“It’s what? I don’t understand, you just spent half the morning lying next to me on the sofa. You must have hugged me a thousand times, it’s no different.”
“It’s different, it’s very different.”
“I’m in Hansi’s house; this is your room and your bed. I’ve spent so much time dreaming about this, it has to be perfect.”
“I told you to stop thinking about it that way. It’ll be whatever it is, whatever it’s meant to be.”
Cautiously Jogi sits down next to Hansi on the bed but doesn’t move any closer to him. Hansi wants to wrap his arms around him, to pull him close and to lie back with him in his arms. Yet he doesn’t, he can feel it’s not quite right. For whatever reason Jogi’s not ready. Despite what he said to Jogi he wants it to be perfect too, so he waits until he feels like Jogi is starting to relax a little. Though he soon realises he may be in a for a long wait because it occurs to him Jogi rarely if ever truly relaxes, not in front of other people, not when he’s aware other people are there. Only when he forgets his surroundings and that there’s anyone else there has Hansi ever seen him truly relaxed. That and those early mornings in the summer when he got up to watch him run by himself. He probably shouldn’t ask but he can’t help himself. Never before has he felt able to ask such questions, in fact never before has he seriously thought about asking them. He’s wondered about these things but it’s never occurred to Hansi to ask about them or to give them any serious thought. It’s only now he’s beginning to do so. Partly because of the way in which everything is changing, not being by Jogi’s side anymore is making him question things he’s never given a second thought to. Today’s events are making him do this all the more.
“Jogi, you always worry so much. You’re always so nervous around other people, why?”
“Because I don’t know what they’re thinking.”
“You mean you don’t know if you’ve done something wrong?”
“If I promise to always tell you when you’ve made a mistake, would that make you feel better?”
“I’d rather not make any mistakes to begin with.”
“I know but I can’t do anything about that.”
“It might help.”
“You want a Hansi hug now?”
“A Hansi hug” repeats a clearly amused Jogi.
“You like that?”
“Very much, a Hansi hug. Yes, I’d like one. It’s just strange, normally when I hug you there’s no time to think about it.”
“Don’t think about it, just do it. Whenever you’re ready.”
Jogi sits there awkwardly for another few minutes before eventually allowing Hansi to wrap his arms around him. It’s a little strange at first, a little uncomfortable. But when he allows Hansi to fully wrap his arms around him it feels right, as if it’s where he’s meant to be. Soon enough Jogi is curled up next to him and without saying a word or asking his permission Hansi is running his fingers through his hair. Without thinking he says “This is perfect, I could stay here forever.”
In response to his words straight away Hansi can feel Jogi tense up slightly, he tries to hide it but he can’t hide anything from Hansi.
“I’m not staying here tonight, right?”
“Not unless you want to, I didn’t mean that. It was just; I just need to pick my words better.”
“It’s nice sitting here like this with you.”
“You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to but would it make it easier if we were in your room right now? Would it be easier for us to sleep in your bed?”
“You want to sleep in my bed?”
“No, I mean yes. I… This isn’t easy.”
“You’re getting confused.”
“I am, I don’t want to say the wrong thing.”
“Just tell me what you’re thinking.”
“I was thinking that being in a familiar place would be easier for you. I’m not saying we have to, I was just wondering if us sleeping in your bed would be easier, if you would be a little less anxious.”
“It might be easier. But I’m not sure I can do that, not yet.”
“There’s no rush, I can wait.”
“You’re always patient with me, even when everyone else gets frustrated. You’re always patient, you always know what to do and say.”
“But not here?”
“This is new, for both of us. I know this is strange for you but I don’t have all the answers here. I’m almost as lost as you are. But we’ll find our way together. I can still help you, and you can help me.”
“I never need to help you.”
“You do, you just don’t know it.”
“How do I help you?”
“Just by being you. With you I always know I can count on you saying exactly what you mean, that you’ll always be truthful even when the other person doesn’t want to hear it. That you’ll never tell me what you think I want to hear.”
“But that’s only because I never know what someone might want to hear.”
“Maybe so, but I still appreciate it.”
“You’re not angry that I can’t sleep here with you?”
“No, I’d like you to. I’ve wanted you to be here for a long time. But I’ve waited all those years, a few more days won’t hurt me any.”
“What if it takes longer than that?”
“Then I’ll wait, whatever you need. Just don’t forget to tell me what’s going on with you. I need to know how you feel, ok?”
“You know I’m not good at this, that’s why you’re reminding me.”
“Yes, is it ok for me to remind you like this?”
“It’s fine. I’m really not good at these things; I don’t think I can say what I want to say. I’m not sure I can say how I feel.”
“You’ve already said the most important thing of all, anything else can wait. I can wait.”
“But I want to be able to tell you those things. I want to tell you how I feel about you, how I’ve felt since that very first day, how happy it makes me when you hug me. About all the times I dreamed about you and wished you were here.”
“Forget about all that for the moment. All that matters is you’re here now.”
“It’s more than enough. You don’t need to be able to say anything more, not now, not today.”
What’s left of the morning passes in a peaceful silence, Hansi sitting there with Jogi curled up against him. The whole time Hansi kept running his fingers through Jogi’s hair. Jogi had been worried about not being able to tell Hansi how he feels and Hansi can understand how he feels but unlike Jogi he’s not worried about it. Sitting here with Jogi he’s happier than he’s ever been, happier than words could ever do justice to. Jogi’s not the only one having difficulty putting his feelings into words. Hansi would love to tell Jogi how glad he is that he came over here and how unbelievably happy he feels to have his arms wrapped around him. It’s not only because he’d prefer not to interrupt the silence Hansi chooses to remain quiet. He’s not sure there are any words which could adequately describe how he feels. Thinking it over it occurs to Hansi how strange it is to be sitting here in silence with Jogi. Not only that but sitting here comfortably. Hansi knows Jogi about as well as someone can know another person. He knows all his quirks and what makes him nervous or uncomfortable. He’s well acquainted with how awkward Jogi finds silences, even with people he knows. So Hansi understands how big a deal this is.
His thoughts turning to the morning’s events and what Jogi said Hansi wonders what Jogi’s plans are for the rest of the day. If indeed he has any plans. Jogi always has a plan for everything but this is the one thing he can’t plan for. For the time being Hansi keeps his thoughts to himself, wanting to enjoy the silence for as long as possible. More to the point he wants to keep hold of Jogi for as long as possible. Only when he felt like he couldn’t begin to feel his arms anymore did Hansi admit defeat and let go of Jogi. Looking up at Hansi confusedly Jogi asks “Why’d you let go?”
“I had to, it’s the only reason I’d ever let go of you.”
Looking at his watch Hansi works out how long they’ve been sitting there. Realising the time he enquires “Jogi, are you hungry?”
“I am if you are” is Jogi’s none too helpful reply.
“Seriously, yes or no?”
“Then let’s go eat.”
Offering his hand Jogi replies “I go where you go.”
Hansi takes Jogi’s hand but stays where he is. Looking Jogi up and down Hansi can’t keep the smile off his face. Noticing the smile but not picking up on Hansi’s none too subtle eyeing of him Jogi nervously asks “What are you thinking?”
Still grinning Hansi answers “It’s just so strange, seeing you like this. Your hair all messed up and your shirt crumpled and almost un-tucked. All those times at work your shirt was un-tucked I wanted to fix it for you.”
“And you can” smiles Jogi.”
“And now I can” smiles Hansi back as he gets started on the task in question. Without saying a word he straightens out Jogi’s shirt and smoothes out the creases in his trousers. He takes his time, enjoying every single moment but it’s the final part of the job he saves the most attention for. Looking into Jogi’s eyes Hansi begins to fix his hair. Taking all the time in the world he finally slightly moves back Jogi’s fringe as he’s watched him do so many times. Taking hold of Hansi’s hand once more Jogi comments “You didn’t need to do that.”
“No, I didn’t. I just felt like it. Do you mind?”
“Not at all” smiles Jogi contentedly.
For a moment Hansi can do nothing but gaze at Jogi smiling, it’s all too easy for him to get lost in Jogi’s wonderful smile and the look of dreamy contentedness in his eyes. He only snaps out of it when he feels Jogi taking a tighter grip of his hand. Pulling himself together Hansi gets up from the bed and apologises saying “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you wait.”
“It’s ok, I’ve waited for what feels like forever for you, a few more minutes won’t hurt.”
Knowing full well just how impatient Jogi can be Hansi asks “You’re not at all impatient right now?”
“No, I’m here with Hansi, that’s all that matters.”
Keeping hold of Jogi’s hand Hansi leads him downstairs and out to the kitchen. Along the way he ponders how relaxed Jogi is, it’s certainly at odds with the highly strung and very impatient perfectionist he’s well acquainted with. It’s not often he gets to see him like this and it makes him happier than he can describe to realise he’s the reason. On the way down Hansi kept his thoughts to himself and they remain silent as he makes lunch for them both. Though he takes great pleasure in observing the way Jogi can’t take his eyes off him. He’s certainly not subtle about it, but then why should he be. From now on he no longer needs to hide how much he loves to watch Hansi. It’s no longer necessary to hide his ever wandering gaze or to keep his looks of longing to himself. Jogi keeps watching Hansi even when he puts the plates down on the table and sits across from him. It continues to fascinate Hansi how Jogi was so nervous not that long ago and now he’s so relaxed. Hansi wonders if Jogi’s even noticed the sandwich in front of him. Curious as to what he’s thinking Hansi asks “Jogi, what’s with you?”
“It’s just strange, being here with you.”
“You’ve eaten here lots of times.”
“I have, but this is different.”
“Before I couldn’t do this” replies Jogi as he reaches across the table and places his hand on Hansi’s.
“You’re right” is Hansi’s reply before he intertwines their fingers.
For the time being their lunch lays forgotten as Hansi enjoys having Jogi close to him once more. Eventually he knows he has to let go, yet he refrains from actually doing so. Leaving it to Jogi to point out “You have to let go of me now.”
“I never want to let go of you.”
“I wish you’d told me that a long time ago.”
“Things happen for a reason, even if we can’t see it. This was meant to happen now, in a sense it’s a good thing I left.”
“You may right about everything else but you’re wrong about that, don’t say that. I let you go but you leaving could never be a good thing.”
“Even though it helped lead to this?”
“Yes. It might have been what needed to happen but I’ll never say or think it’s a good thing.”
All of a sudden Jogi lets go of Hansi’s hand, for a moment Hansi thinks about grabbing it back but he quickly comes to the conclusion it’s not a move he should make nor would Jogi respond well to it. Not a word more is said as they begin to eat their lunch. Not until out of nowhere and without even looking up Jogi asks “What’s next Hansi?”
“You mean with us?”
“No, today, what’s next today?”
“Whatever you want.”
“That’s not helpful.”
“You can stay here if you want or we can go to your place, really I don’t mind. I’m happy with whatever you want.”
“You won’t be offended if I don’t want to stay here?”
“Not at all.”
Returning to eating his sandwich Jogi says nothing further but Hansi can tell he’s thinking something over. He’d prefer to just ask him straight out what he’s thinking but he’s well aware rushing Jogi never helps. Thus he waits not at all patiently for Jogi to share what’s on his mind. It takes a few more minutes of silence before Jogi asks “What about after that?”
“I don’t know, we’ll just see what happens.”
“No, that’s not good enough, it’s not right. I need a plan now.”
“Can’t we just wing it?”
Placing his hand next to Jogi’s but not actually taking hold of it; merely giving him the option Hansi reminds him “You can trust me; you’ll be safe with Hansi.”
“Don’t put it like that.”
“You make it sound like I don’t trust you enough, it’s not about that.”
“Listen to me, I didn’t mean that. I know you trust me. But you haven’t had a plan for any of this so far and you’ve survived, maybe you can get through the rest of it without a plan too.”
“You think so?”
“I think I don’t need any more of a plan than knowing I’m going to spend the rest of the day with you.”
“You’ll keep me out trouble, won’t you? Same as always.”
Smiling suggestively Hansi replies “Actually I think I may want to get you into trouble.”
Jogi says nothing in reply, he doesn’t have to. No words are needed to express his amusement at Hansi’s choice of reply. The look in his eyes is enough to tell Hansi how much he appreciates what he said. It’s the look in Jogi’s eyes Hansi is thinking about as they finish their lunch, it’s what Hansi’s still thinking about even afterwards. No matter what else he tries to think about he can’t stop picturing the glint in Jogi’s eyes and the playful look on his face.