Category Archives: Jogi & Hansi: The Löw Adventures

Jogi & Hansi’s Christmas Deliberations

Resuming his quest from last year Hansi will stop at nothing to convince Jogi to wear a Santa hat. So far nothing was working, not even the offer of special scarf time. Hansi however is not giving up. He’s sure his latest plan will work, that Jogi won’t be able to say no to the Freiburg hat he’s gotten him. When would Jogi ever say no to something with the Freiburg badge on it, this Hansi is sure will work. Ever since he’d seen the schedule for the final games before Christmas Hansi had worked it all out in his head. It was too perfect to miss, last Christmas it was Jogi’s team that H96 were playing and now it’s his. This time round it will be perfect since Jogi will actually be at home and he’s certain not to be disappointed. Hansi however sensibly keeps his thoughts in the matter to himself, obviously they’ll be watching the game but bringing the matter up would not be a good idea. Hansi has no wish to listen to yet another rant on the subject. The game may have been a year ago but that won’t stop Jogi from going on about it. The situation is made even more perfect by the fact Freiburg play on Sunday and in a delicious twist of irony they’re playing the other Munich, 1860 at home.

This is the main part of Hansi’s plan, of going to the game together and convincing Jogi to wear the hat. Last year he’d gone by himself to Freiburg’s game, he’d had no choice since Jogi wasn’t at home. Well he didn’t have to go to the game, indeed it’s not how Hansi would have chosen to spend a cold Sunday afternoon, watching two teams slug it out in the beginnings of a relegation battle. But Jogi had asked him to go, he couldn’t so he wanted Hansi to be there for him, for his team. Jogi had asked in such a way that Hansi just couldn’t say no, though truth is he rarely could say no to him anyway regardless of how he asked any question.

The same cannot be said for Hansi, he has to work a little harder to get what he wants. Though he gets the feeling that on this occasion Jogi may just be toying with him, that he has every intention of giving him what he wants, he’s just making him work for it. A fact which becomes clear when Hansi makes his latest attempt.
“Jogi, wear the hat for me, please.”
“No way elf lord, you can wear what you want but I’m not wearing that stupid hat, no matter what you offer.”
Jogi said no but the way he did gave Hansi a completely different answer, as does the look in his eye. The look he always gets when he calls Hansi elf lord. Hansi knows he’s onto something now.
“Are you sure about that, are you sure there’s nothing I can offer that would get you to change your mind?”
“I don’t know, let’s see. Just why are you so keen to get me to wear this hat anyway, you’re normally trying to get me out of clothes, not into them.”

Now Hansi is sure he’s on to something and that Jogi is most definitely toying with him. Question is what his game is and just what does Hansi have to offer to get what he wants. One thing is for sure Hansi does not intend to go along with this; he knows how Jogi expects him to react so he does the opposite, taking the conversation in a completely different direction. Hansi doesn’t know it yet but he’s still giving Jogi exactly what he wants. Somehow Jogi always ends up getting what he wants. Changing the subject Hansi asks “Tell me, Jogi, what do you want for Christmas?”

“You’re giving up, just like that?”
“Maybe, will you tell me?”
“Why won’t you tell me?”
“You already know.”
“Yes but other than Freiburg….”
Hansi finds himself unable to finish his sentence with Jogi physically preventing him from doing so. Before he can remove Jogi’s hand he gets a very important order from Jogi,
“Hans-Dieter, I’m not saying it out loud and neither are you. Do not curse them, do not do that.”
Removing Jogi’s hand Hansi replies “You don’t believe in curses and superstitions.”
“When it comes to Freiburg and to this season I do.”
“So there’s nothing you want that I can get you?”
“No. I already have what I want. You belong to me, that’s all I ever wanted.”
“Jogi, I always belonged to you. I can’t even get you a new scarf?”
“You’re not getting me a scarf, not after last time.”
“That was just because you lost our bet. I’ll get you one you like this time.”
“I don’t think so.”

Having to convince Jogi to wear the hat was one thing but getting him to come round about the scarf is another thing all together. And a most odd task at that. It’s all very strange indeed, the idea of having to convince Jogi to accept the gift of a scarf. Not knowing what else to do Hansi falls back on his tried and trusted back-up plan. Figuring he’s going to need more than just his elf lord smile here Hansi takes an altogether more proactive approach. Much to his surprise however it does not initially have the desired effect.
Quickly unbuttoning Jogi’s shirt Hansi is about to make his next move when he finds his progress halted.

“Hansi, I don’t think you should undress me now. I’m not going to be able to focus if…”
Ignoring him Hansi takes his hand back and places it in a most pleasing place.
“If what Jogi?” replies Hansi teasingly.
“If you put your hand there” answers a very satisfied sounding Jogi.
“Don’t you want Hansi’s hands to be happy?”
“I want all of Hansi to be happy.”
“That can be arranged.”
“Not until we’re done talking.”

Hearing Jogi’s reply causes Hansi to stop what he’s doing and to move back so he can see the look on Jogi’s face. He wants to make sure Jogi’s not kidding, to his disappointment Jogi seems to be serious. Hansi’s not giving up so easily though, he has one final ace up his sleeve. One which cannot fail to work.
“Jogi, what if I were to get you some very special scarves, a pair you can use to remind me once and for all that I belong to you. How about that?”
“I get to be the scarf lord this Christmas?”
“My sweet devilish little Jogi, you can be the scarf lord whenever the hell you want. Any day of the week, anytime of the year.”
“You know there is something else I want.”
“Tell me.”
“But it’s not something you can buy.”
“Tell me anyway.”
“I want Bayern to win their last game before Christmas.”
“Why do you care about that?”
“The same reason I don’t want you wearing the same hat you wore last year. You wore that hat last Christmas and Freiburg only drew, very unluckily so.”
“Of course, you don’t care about Bayern winning. You just want revenge.”
“I’m sure you’ll get what you want but I can’t guarantee it’ll happen.”
“I know, just promise me you won’t wear the same hat.”
“I won’t, not as long as you promise to wear yours.”
“Ok, deal.”
“Really, just like that. It’s that easy?”
“Yes, what did you expect?”
“I thought you were going to make me work harder for it, I thought you had one of your master plans” replies a somewhat disappointed sounding Hansi.
“No, I just wanted to make sure you weren’t going to wear that hat again.”
“You were always going to say yes, weren’t you?”
“I was, but only if you agreed not to wear the same hat. What are you disappointed about?”
“That I didn’t get to finish undressing you.”
“There’ll be plenty of time for that. You’ll have me to yourself all Christmas. Just think of it, me, you, the cabin, under blankets in front of the fire. What more could my little Hansi want?”
“Actually I had something else in mind.”
“I don’t like the sound of this.”
“Jogi, I know you like going to the cabin but it’d be nice to go somewhere else, somewhere warmer.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Think of how much fun it’ll be. If we go to the cabin I’ll have to get you out of all those layers but if we go somewhere warm then you’ll be wearing hardly anything at all.”
“Why so impatient, I thought you liked undressing me.”
“I do, I just like what comes afterwards even more.”
“Good things come to those who wait, good build-up play is important, you know that.”
“Can we have one conversation without you bringing football into it?”
“Who said I was talking about football?”
Not giving Hansi any chance to enjoy what he just said Jogi continues “I don’t want any surprises Hansi.”
“This isn’t a surprise, that’s why we’re talking about it now.”
“Ok, so I don’t want any more surprises.”
“Just two more, please. I have two presents for you which I know you’re going to love.”
“Hansi, I said….”
Jogi stops, not remembering the rest of his sentence or what he’s unhappy with. Just this minute neither of those things is important. Lost in Hansi’s smile, that special elf lord smile of his which is reserved for him and him alone Jogi can’t think of anything, let alone get any of his words back. Noticing this Hansi takes hold of his hand and asks “What’s the rest of that sentence?”
“Nothing, it doesn’t matter” comes the reply from a distracted sounding Jogi.
“I know you; I know you were just about to complain about something.”
“I was but it doesn’t matter now.”
“Why doesn’t it matter?”
“Because when you smile like that nothing does, nothing other than you matters.”
“Does that mean you’ll agree to go somewhere else for Christmas?”
“That smile of yours will get you almost anything.”
“But not this?”
“I like going to the cabin, it’s nice and peaceful up there. I don’t get why you want to change our plans.”
“Change can be good sometimes.”
“This is important to you?”
“If it wasn’t I wouldn’t be asking. I’m not asking you to give up all your Christmas plans for me, just to compromise a little. Will you do that for your elf lord Hansi?”
“Depends, what does my elf lord have in mind?”
“We can both get what we want, we can go the cabin first so you have your winter fun then we can go somewhere warm.”
“This is all because you’re too impatient to undress me.”
“I’m not going to deny that’s true but it’s not what this is about.”
“You don’t need to lie to me.”
Thinking about how Jogi stopped him from undressing him a short while ago it crosses Hansi’s mind that finishing the job would be a lot of fun and would distract Jogi from all of this. Trying his luck he says “Forget about all of that, how about you let me finish undressing you now.”
In a playful mood Jogi slowly does up the buttons Hansi undid earlier and replies “No, you can wait. I think you need to learn some patience. You don’t get to unwrap your presents before Christmas now, do you?”

The Scarf Bet/One Year and One Day


Plan the ultimate celebration for the person you’re closest to, and tell us about it. Where is it? Who’s there? What’s served? What happens?

When I first saw this I thought I had nothing to write about. Which would have been disappointing because I really wanted to write something for the daily prompt today. I would have liked to have done so yesterday since it was then that it was one year, but today is in a way even more perfect. Since it’s not only one year and one day since I started writing the Löw adventures, it’s also my birthday and Germany are playing France tonight. Also Bosnia are playing Ireland in their qualification play-off for the Euros next year. I hope all goes well for Mensur Mujdza and his Bosnian compatriots.

I wouldn’t throw anyone a party, ever. Not even if there was someone I was close enough to. So I have nothing to write about in that regard. I can however write a little something about tonight’s celebrations. It’s not in celebration of a person, not exactly, it’s more a celebration of an idea. Of the idea of the Löw adventures. Where else would I be on match-day but in front of the TV, well my laptop this time since it’s on German TV. As for who’s here, no-one but myself and my mascot Manuel. He won’t steal any of my snacks or ask stupid questions. We have pizza with meatballs and also double chocolate chip cookies, still warm from the oven. And specially ordered crisps from Germany.

Also on it’s way from Germany is my new shirt with Ginter on the back, unfortunately not here in time for the game but as long as it gets here.

As for what’s happening, football. And a little something special. A new Löw adventure to mark the day. But first a few pictures. First of the gift that did get here in time, my new scarf which amusingly enough there turned out to be two of, so I gave one to my mascot to wear. Also one of the football themed cake I got decorated with a few extras. I may not like parties but doesn’t mean I’ll say no to cake:


And secondly a picture of the scarf of Jogi’s which gave me the idea for the following story:

Joachim Löw - half-time interview - Hoffenheim v Dortmund 15One of the things Hansi loved most about Jogi was his obsessive focus, the way in which he devoted himself completely to whatever he happened to be interested in and especially so when it was directed towards his own self. As it usually was in situations like this, but right now Jogi wasn’t focusing on him. He was here lying beneath him, indeed having some fun right now had been Jogi’s idea but his mind was elsewhere. And given what he’d spent the weekend obsessing over, Hansi had a pretty good idea what was more interesting than himself this minute. Despite his distraction Jogi was paying enough attention to notice when Hansi was no longer there and made no secret of his displeasure. The second Hansi lay back next to him Jogi grabbed hold of his hand and placed it back where he wanted it.

“I thought we were going to have some fun, Hansi.”
“I thought so too, but not when you’re thinking about something else.”
“I’m not; I’m trying not to anyway.”
“You’re thinking about scarves right now, aren’t you?”
“Yes but I’m trying not to.”
“And you’re not thinking about all the fun we could have with some very special scarves now, are you? You’re thinking about the game, about what scarf to wear.”
“And you say Hansi doesn’t know everything, I think he does.”
“If I knew everything I would know how to get you to stop thinking about scarves and start thinking about me.”
“Get back over here and I’ll soon be thinking of you.”
“No you won’t, not until you’ve picked a scarf. I think you need to make it up to me.”
“How do I do that my scarf prince?”
“You think Wolfsburg will beat Bayern tomorrow, don’t you?”
“I think so.”
“How about this, if you’re wrong, if Bayern win tomorrow night, I get to pick your scarf for the game.”
“And what about if I win?”
“In that case you’ll have to come up with a suitable punishment for me. A suitably devilish one, something befitting my scarf lord.”
“Ok, you’ve got a deal.”
“Just one more thing, you have to stop thinking about scarves right now.”
“Even if I wanted to use one of those scarves on you?”
“That you can think about. You know given the bet we just made, I think you should come to the game tomorrow.”
“No, I’m staying here.”
“Even if I promised we could wear matching scarves.”
“Still no. But you’ve just given me an idea. If I’m right, if Bayern lose, then the next time you come to a game with me you have to wear a Freiburg scarf.”
“Even if it’s not a Freiburg game?”
“Yes, that makes it even more fun. You having to go to a Bayern game with my team’s scarf wrapped around you.”
“That’s not what I was expecting, I thought you’d come up with the idea of some special scarf time.”
“We can do that too, you don’t need to lose a bet to get that. In fact you don’t even need to ask.”

Hansi may not have much time to come up with a plan but he’s not going to let that or anything else stop him from gaining maximum enjoyment from this. In actuality Hansi’s not sure what he’s more excited about, the prospect of getting to choose Jogi’s scarf or getting to win a bet against him. Both are exceedingly rare events and almost equally special.

Every spare moment he has he spends online picking a suitable scarf for Jogi’s punishment. Looking through them it’s difficult to prevent his mind from returning to thoughts of the previous night. Jogi may be wrong in his score prediction but there was one thing he was right about last night, Hansi needed neither to lose a bet nor even ask for some special scarf time with his scarf lord. That he got without saying one word.

None of his words however had succeeded in convincing Jogi to come with him this evening. Hansi would have loved for him to come anyway but now he had some extra motivation. It would have been perfect, Hansi could picture it. At the final whistle him getting out the special scarf and tying it around Jogi’s neck before he knew what was happening. With Jogi refusing to come he would have to settle for texting him the second the game was over and showing him the scarf later that night. Of course what Hansi didn’t know was that he wouldn’t have to wait that long, he wouldn’t need to wait until the final whistle for the result to be beyond any doubt. Ten minutes is all it took for it to be decided. So fast did it happen that Hansi was unable to text Jogi when each goal was scored, not something he would normally do but at half time he had been thinking of doing just that should Bayern equalise and then score the winner. Because it’s what Jogi did at half time, lording it over him that he was going to win the bet.

Come the end of the game Hansi did no such thing, all he did was text Jogi a picture of the new scarf along with six words “Enjoy your new scarf Captain Löw.”
It doesn’t take long for Jogi to reply and it’s not difficult for Hansi to imagine him furiously tapping out the message.
“This isn’t funny, Hansi. I have to wear that on TV tomorrow night.”
Hansi’s equally quick and equally pointed response is “Bet against Bayern and pay the price.”
“You’re really going to make me wear it?”
“I am, in fact when I get back tonight I want you wearing nothing but that scarf.”
I guess you’re the scarf lord tonight.”
“I guess I am.”

The whole way home Hansi thinks of nothing but Jogi and that scarf, if things go his way he’ll not only get to see Jogi wearing his new scarf but may get the bonus of some extra time with his scarf lord. The long journey passes by quicker than he expected for lost in dreamy thoughts about the scarf in his hand nothing else exists at this moment, nothing but the wonderful pictures in his mind. Whether Hansi had won or lost this bet it would have felt like winning, how could it not when either way he got to go home to Jogi.

The Final Game

They’d finally done it; the trophy sitting next to Jogi on the floor is really theirs. The winner’s medal hanging around his neck is real; it’s no dream this time. And neither is the wonderful sight of Hansi lying asleep before his eyes. Here on this night everything Jogi could ever have dreamed of is no longer a dream. But only one of these things belongs to him, only one of them is really real. For Hansi may be lying here before him, all stretched out and fast asleep. And he may be sitting here by his side, just inches away from him. Yet he can’t do what he wants to do, he can’t reach out and take Hansi’s hand in his.

How perfect it would be, to lie down next to Hansi, to allow him to wake up wrapped in his arms. Were he to do so Jogi was sure it would be the best feeling in the world. Better and sweeter than anything, even better than winning the all important trophy that’s now in their possession. Instead Jogi sits and keeps watch over Hansi, dreaming of what he’d like to be doing.

Their final summer together is coming to an end. This trip will be the last trip they ever take together. The journey home will be the last time Jogi gets to revel in watching a sleeping Hansi on the plane. Sitting here Jogi didn’t want the summer to end. He wanted to stay here forever, with Hansi and the trophy next to him. He didn’t want to let Hansi go. The trophy he didn’t care about so much, you can always win other trophies. But there’s only one Hansi and he can’t imagine feeling this way about anyone else. Can’t imagine dreaming about anyone else the way he does Hansi. Replacing him is going to be simply impossible. Who could ever learn the ways of Jogi as quickly as Hansi did?

The day Hansi asked him if could take the new job Jogi surprised himself with his answer. Upon hearing Hansi’s request his immediate reaction was no, absolutely not. He didn’t want anything to change, not unless it absolutely had to. And the thought of Hansi not being by his side was simply unbearable. Despite all of this Jogi found himself saying yes. It made no sense to him, not until now. He thought at the time because he said yes, it meant he didn’t love Hansi as much as he’d thought. It was only now he understood it was precisely because of how much he loved him that he said yes. That Hansi being happy is more important to him than anything else ever could be, even if that means him no longer being where he needs him to be. All summer Jogi thought about telling Hansi, he realised he had to tell him. If he didn’t Hansi would never be by his side again in any sense. But as the weeks crept past, as the preparations for their departure continued, still Jogi said nothing.

Before he knew it the tournament began and still he kept his feelings to himself. And now it was over. The trophy was won and at the next game they played Hansi would be saying his goodbyes. Jogi wrongly thought that saying yes to Hansi leaving would force him to say something, to finally tell him just how he felt. So far he’d been proved wrong on this count and it seemed it would cost him dearly.

It seemed as if this would be the closest Jogi would ever get to Hansi. That helping him up to his room after he’d celebrated far too much and putting him to bed was the only way he’d ever get to be so close to him. Putting his hand as close to Hansi’s as he dared, Jogi tried to tell a still sleeping Hansi just how he felt about him.

“I’m sorry I let you go Hansi. That I never told you how I felt. I guess it’s too late now. I thought I could do it, I was sure I could. I never thought I’d be saying goodbye to you. You’re Hansi, you’re always there when I turn around. No matter where we are in the world, you’re always there. Who am I going to hug now?”

Getting up from the floor Jogi picked up the trophy. He was about to turn to leave when he noticed Hansi’s medal is still round his neck. There was obviously no way he could leave it there. Here Jogi was presented with a perfect excuse to be close to Hansi and yet he’s reluctant to take it. Even though he knew he had to. At least he had an excuse in case Hansi woke up. Knowing this made Jogi no less terrified.

Before going over to Hansi, Jogi carefully put the trophy back on the floor. For a minute he stands there, watching Hansi just like earlier. He knows what he has to do; it’s just a case of talking himself into it. It’s not laying a hand on Hansi that he’s afraid of, it’s the opposite. He’s afraid he’ll never want to let go.

Rainy day Jogi

Singin’ in the Rain

Safe inside, toasty warm, while water pitter-patters on the roof… describe your perfect, rainy afternoon.

My perfect rainy afternoon would look something like this. A Sunday afternoon, two Bundesliga games on TV, two not three, not a 2.Bundesliga game too. And not just because I don’t like getting up early on Sundays, no, it’s because in the past five weeks Freiburg have played on Sunday four times. They drew, won, lost and then drew again. And in that month they also got knocked out of the DFB Pokal, and Mensur Mujdza scored an own goal against Eintracht Braunschweig which kicked off their fight back. So I’m glad the month of Sunday’s has come to an end.

But to get back to the point, my perfect rainy afternoon, like I said two Bundesliga games, than a break for reading until Sportschau and then Tagesthemen to get a little bit of extra footage. No stress, no people, just football, books and the wonderful sound of the rain outside. All whilst wrapped up in my wonderfully soft and warm Freiburg blanket with my mascot. And some time to dream about rainy day Jogi of course. This brings me to what I really want to write about, a new Jogi chapter.

Lying here with Jogi wrapped in his arms Hansi thinks he couldn’t be happier. He’s wrong, there is one small thing which can make him just that little bit happier. Lying here he can’t think of anything but Jogi, he certainly can’t focus on the game he’s meant to be watching with him. He stopped trying to pay attention long ago. All he can think of is Jogi here in his arms, of running his fingers through his hair. Listening to the rain outside Hansi thinks about the one thing that could make this perfect situation even more perfect. Hansi used to hate the rain, especially when he had to go out and play in it. But ever since last summer he loves the rain almost as much as he does Jogi. For now the rain conjures up most pleasant images and feelings. It no longer puts in his mind the miserable memories of the times he had to play in such weather. Now it makes him think of last summer, of how irresistible Jogi looked in his wet navy blue shirt, the way it stuck to him, his hair all slicked back and best of all, that adorable lost look on his face.

Just what caused him to look so lost Hansi never got to find out. Whether it was because he’d remembered it was raining, or if he’d realised what he’d let happen to his shirt or he was annoyed at realising he was going to need to change his shirt, Hansi didn’t know. It didn’t matter, nothing could take that memory away from him. Nothing could take away the memory of his rainy day Jogi.

Thinking back to that day Hansi recalled what took place after the final whistle. Of him going to hug Jogi as usual and finding himself being pushed away almost. Because whilst Jogi had changed shirts at half-time, taking off his navy button down shirt and exchanging it for a polo-shirt of the same colour, it had been for nothing. Because much to Hansi’s pleasure he’d done exactly the same as the first half, he’d once more completely forgotten about the rain and had proceeded to get this shirt just as wet as the previous one. Thus when it came to the final whistle Jogi was initially reluctant to hug Hansi, he didn’t want to ruin his shirt too. Hansi had firmly put him straight on this count, he wasn’t going to miss out on his special Jogi hug for anything. Not when the next one could be the last.

Remembering this very special hug, of how he hadn’t wanted to let go him, Hansi could not help show how content he is just this second. The contented sigh unfortunately for him did not go unnoticed by Jogi. It seems he’s not entirely focused on the game either.

“What are you thinking about Hansi?”

“What I’m almost always thinking about, you.”

“And just what exactly makes my Hansi so happy?”

“Rainy day Jogi.”

“Hansi, I love you more than anything else in the world, even more than Freiburg but I’m not ruining another shirt for you. Not this year anyway. You’ve had your quota of “rainy day Jogi” for this year.”

“So I get more next year?”

“You do, it’s our summer tradition now. But it is a one time event. If you get it all the time, it won’t be so special.”

“You’re wrong there Jogi, you’re always special.”

“You’re still not getting what you want Hansi, keep dreaming.”

“I will Jogi, I most definitely will.”

Out of Reach

Out of Reach

Write about the one X that got away — a person, an experience, a place you wanted to visit. How much would you change about your life to have it within reach again?

It’s not healthy to obsess over things that could have been, to think about how things should have been. That being said I do plenty of it, I try not to but it’s easier to obsess over things from the past rather than trying to fix things now, which is what makes it such a tempting prospect. Whilst I spend quite a bit of time thinking that way, I don’t think there truly is one that got away, in any sense. There are people I miss and things I miss, but I wouldn’t go back. Things are what they are. I think things happen when they are meant to.

So I’m going to turn the rest of this prompt over to a Jogi adventure. For him there is one that got away, that one being Hansi.

Hansi was never out of reach, he was always where he was meant to be and Jogi didn’t have to ask for him to be there. Not once did he ever tell him where he needed to be. He always just knew, right from the start. Right from their very first game together, from the moment when in a moment of celebration Jogi turned around and Hansi was right there. Ready for him to wrap his arms around him, and so it began, from that moment on Hansi was always there. In good times and bad, he was always there for him. Whether it was to celebrate a goal with him or to keep him out of trouble, Hansi knew where he had to be.

Every single game since the first one without him Jogi rued having let him leave. It didn’t matter that he would be going home to him or that he spent every single night wrapped in his arms. It should help, but it doesn’t. Because him being at home doesn’t change the fact that he’s not in the place Jogi wants him to be, the one place he needs him to be. Of course he knew he’d miss Hansi, but he hadn’t thought it would be this way. As each game went by Hansi told him it would get easier, that he would get used to him not being there. Jogi trusted Hansi, more than anyone else in the world. But he was wrong about this, it didn’t get easier with each passing game, it just got worse. As time went on instead of adjusting to Hansi not being there, each game he found one more thing he missed about him and one more thing about the replacement that was different.

The first game he’d been there Jogi was so grateful someone was there that for a moment he forgot it wasn’t Hansi. A fact he still felt guilty about, even guiltier did he feel about what happened during the second game. Caught up in the excitement of the moment he’d turned round, part of him expecting to find Hansi there ready to hug him as always. It was only when he turned round that he realised, just for a second he froze. He wanted to celebrate, but it felt wrong. Before the game Hansi told him it was fine when he’d asked, yet still he couldn’t do it. Couldn’t be that close to anyone other than Hansi, not yet. Even knowing he was going home to a Hansi hug, to as many Hansi hugs as he wanted in fact, he still couldn’t do it.

Truth is as the months went by Jogi was in some ways slowly getting used to the new order of things. Not that he would ever admit it, to himself or to anyone else. But things were about to get even stranger, the USA game would change all of this. Jogi would go from slowly but surely getting to used to how things were now to missing Hansi more than ever before. Having him there, so close but yet so far was torture. In every single way it was wrong and every second he wasn’t thinking about the game all Jogi could think about was how Hansi should be by his side. How he should be the one wearing a matching navy blue shirt with him tonight. Going to greet Klinsi at the end and exchanging hugs, just for a second Jogi could pretend it’s still summer, that Hansi is just behind him. Just like he always was. But of course he’s not, and now Jogi never wants to turn around. Never wants to see anyone other than Hansi there.

Of course he can’t keep it up forever; sooner or later he will have to accept it. If not for his own sake then for Hansi’s. He knows Hansi hates to see him looking so lonesome, if he’s not going to deal with this for his own sake, he’ll most definitely do so for Hansi’s He can’t bear to think of Hansi worrying so much over him, of him feeling that way because of him. The only thing he wants in the world is for Hansi to be happy, and there’s little he wouldn’t do to make that so. Even if it means putting his own feelings aside.

Thus he made a promise to Hansi, that he would in some way show him that he was coming to terms with the new order of things. But not during the Scotland game, he couldn’t do that. Not on the day that marked one year since the first time without Hansi by his side. It had to be the Poland game, he wouldn’t do such a thing on the day marking one year without Hansi, but the Poland game was perfect. A turning point, for them and for the team. Revenge for the defeat last year, a whole year since the replacement was here and finally their first real hug. The first time he celebrated with him. It still doesn’t feel right, it never will. But he did it, not for himself but for Hansi.

His precious Hansi that he loved so much. So much so that he let him go. Jogi missed Hansi more than ever and felt like he would do anything to get him back. Anything for him to be back by his side, keeping him out of trouble, celebrating with him and keeping watch over him. But he knew letting him go was the right thing to do. He may not be his assistant anymore and he may not be standing next to him during those all important moments. But if he’d never let him go then Hansi wouldn’t be here right now, he never would have told him how he felt. Jogi loved having Hansi by his side, more than anything else in the world. But nothing beats coming home to him every night. Nothing beats lying here watching him sleep. Hansi belongs to him now and to him alone. This is how things are meant to be. For truth is, however much Jogi misses Hansi on the touchline, he’s never been closer.

Verbotene Liebe: Jogi & Hansi’s Summer Anniversary Part 2

If such a thing were possible, Jogi had even more fun in Brazil the second time around. The reason for this being that this time he was not be glancing longingly at Hansi and thinking of the fact that he would never stand by his side again. Now Jogi possessed everything he ever wanted and on those early mornings on the beach instead of dreaming Hansi was there, he actually was. For his part, Hansi no longer needed to stay in the shadows, to watch Jogi from afar as he used to do on those early summer mornings. Now he could walk in the morning sun with him, holding his hand and strolling along the beach. For both of them it was as perfect as they imagined it would be.

Just as Hansi no longer had to dream he was walking along the beach with Jogi, so he did not have to imagine that Jogi was really lying here asleep in his arms right now. This beautiful Brazilian summer’s day was really real and could not be more perfect. The two of them lying on the beach here with no-one else in sight, Hansi really couldn’t think of one way in which this day could be made even better. He could not be happier right now if he tried, a beautiful day out here on the beach, Jogi asleep on his shoulder, the calm and pleasing breeze ruffling his hair. Hansi wouldn’t move for anything right now. The warm sun bearing down on them, combining with the warmth exuding from Jogi made Hansi sleepy, yet he would do everything he could to stay awake.

This was the kind of moment he wanted to remember and treasure forever. He focused on the calming rhythm of Jogi’s breathing, the soundtrack to his life. Always there, ever present, always to be relied upon, his ever reliable and predictable Jogi. The only movement Hansi allowed himself was to move his hand up to Jogi’s chest, so that he could not only listen to him breath but feel it as well. If there was anything else going on around them, Hansi wouldn’t have been able to hear it. He only had eyes and ears for his Jogi-Bär.
Trying to stay awake Hansi thought of all the things they could be doing on the beach if they weren’t so content lying here like this. He thought of playing football, barefoot on the warm sand. A friendly game except Jogi didn’t know the meaning of the word, no matter who he was playing with he was always the same, competitive over every last little thing. It would still be fun for Hansi, watching Jogi show off, seeing his hair flying around and if Hansi made him run enough, maybe he would take off his shirt.

He also thought of the water, of whether or not when Jogi woke up he could convince him to go for a swim. Hansi would appreciate cooling off as well but part of him wanted to stay lying on the beach, purely so that he could watch Jogi walk out of the water. How Hansi loved his hair when it was wet. Feeling Jogi starting to stir, Hansi started to think of how he could convince him and more importantly how he could talk him into getting his hair wet. Still not fully awake Jogi looked up at Hansi with a sleepy expression on his face, in this sleepy state he did not at first register the playful look in Hansi’s eyes nor did he have any idea what his little elf-lord was planning. Moving his hand upwards to brush his fringe slightly back as usual, he then let it settle on top of Hansi’s which was still resting where he had left it. Hansi’s free hand went to where Jogi’s had just been, whilst he was thinking about what to say he busied himself with smoothing down Jogi’s hair. Not that it needed fixing in any way, but Hansi never needed a reason to do so and Jogi never had any objection.

Happy and comfortable wrapped in Hansi’s arms, Jogi had no intention of moving at all, not until Hansi had worked his magic that is. Whilst Jogi slowly began to wake up Hansi had hit upon a genius idea as to how to talk Jogi into doing what he wanted.

“How about going for a swim Jogi?”
“I’d rather stay here with you.”
“So if I get up and go swimming then you’ll stay with me there?”
“I suppose, but I’m not getting my hair wet.”
“You’re going to deprive me of that wonderful sight? Of your famous “wet look?” You know even if I hadn’t already fallen in love with you, I would have done so during that game. I had no idea that you could look even more adorable. And to think of all those times I reminded you to wear a jacket, to think of those missed chances.”

Looking at Hansi once more and by now fully awake, Jogi became aware of the game that Hansi was playing and what his intentions were. He had no real objections now to the proposal but he wasn’t going to let Hansi get what he wanted quite so easily, at least that’s what he thought.

“And what’s in it for me Hansi, if I agree to your demands?”
By way of reply Hansi lowered his hand a few inches and just in case Jogi failed to discern his intentions, in a playful tone of voice that matched the look in his eyes from few moments ago, answered: “Trust me Jogi; I’ll make it worth your while.”

With that Jogi couldn’t protest even if he wanted to, even a token display of resistance was beyond him now. Wresting himself free from Hansi’s grasp he got up and began to unbutton his shirt. To his surprise he felt Hansi reach out and with the same hands that just a few moments ago were tempting him into thinking all kinds of thoughts, the kind of thoughts that most definitely could not be acted upon out here on the beach, prevent him from completing the task of removing his shirt.

“I thought you wanted to go swimming, Hansi.”
“I do.”
“So let me take off my shirt. It’s not like you’ve ever had any objections to me doing so before.”
“No I haven’t.”
“Then why are you stopping me?”
“You should leave it on.”
“Why? Tell me, why should I ruin one of my shirts?” You’d better have a good reason for even thinking such a thought, Hans-Dieter.”
“Trust me, I have a good reason.”
“Tell me, your undisputed shirt master can’t wait to find out how his one true apprentice plans to betray him.”
“One word, Jogi, Recife” answered Hansi, smiling in that way that he knew Jogi could never resist.
“You want me to get my shirt wet, just like that day?”
“Very much so. That day was torture, you know that? Seeing how irresistible you looked with your hair slicked back, your shirt soaked through and that unbearably sweet lost look on your face when you realised. And there was worse to come. Watching you change out of that shirt and drying yourself off, your hair flying in every possible direction. In that moment I could think of nothing else and all I wanted to do was to take the towel out of your hands and take over.

Jogi doesn’t say anything in response and from the look on his face, Hansi is unsure if he’s heard a single word he said.
“Are you listening?”
“I’m listening. I heard every word. I was thinking about what you said. About you helping me out of my shirt back then.”
“Does that mean you agree?”
“It does. On one condition.”
Hansi knows what’s coming next. Earlier he’d told Jogi that he couldn’t read his mind which was true. But he knew him well enough that it often seemed like he could. There were many times when Hansi knew what Jogi was going to say before he knew himself, like now.
“Let me guess, you’ll say yes if I agree to us getting new shirts when we get home?”
“How did I know I was going to say that?”
“I know you, Jogi. I know how you think, I know every inch of you by now and I’m happy to say that I mean that literally.”
“How about when we’re done swimming, you can help me out of my shirt like you wanted to back then. Once you’ve done that you can get to know me even better.”
“That was my plan.”
“You don’t make the plans, Hansi. I make the plans, I’m the boss.”
“Not here you’re not; not now. Besides I don’t work for you anymore. And tell me, if you’re the boss then how come I can get you to do anything I want?”
“What makes you think that?”
“This” replies Hansi as he smiles his special elf-lord smile at Jogi, the one that made him fall in love with him, the one that makes him feel like nothing and no-one else exists. The smile which every time he sees it makes him feel like the happiest man alive and makes him so delirious with happiness that he forgets what he’s meant to be doing. Every time it had that effect on him, without fail, no matter how he was feeling before hand, he would feel a thousand times better after it. And now was no different, in this moment Hansi had Jogi at his mercy. He didn’t however take advantage of this and see what else he could get Jogi to agree to. Instead with one hand, he affectionately reached up to Jogi’s fringe, flicking it back in the usual manner. So lost in Hansi’s smile was Jogi that he didn’t do what he usually did, his hand did not follow Hansi’s and do exactly the same thing as was his usual habit.

Still lost in the delirious happiness of Hansi’s smile, Jogi paid no notice to Hansi redoing the buttons of his shirt. It was only when Hansi began the process of unbuttoning his own shirt that Jogi snapped back to his senses. As Hansi had done to him, Jogi prevented him from completing the task at hand.
“No way, Hans-Dieter, if I’m ruining my shirt then you have to ruin yours too.”
“Really Jogi?”
“Yes, you get rainy day Jogi, then I should get rainy day Hansi”
“Ok, Jogi, I do what you do.”
“Just slower is all.”
“What, you think I’m slow? I’ll show you how slow I am.”
Before Jogi can protest or even knows what’s happening Hansi unbuttons his shirt and removes it in one clean sweep.
“Hansi, what are you doing; now I won’t get my rainy day Hansi.”
“You don’t normally have any complaints when I get undressed this fast.”
“Well this time I do. Please put it back on.”
“Seeing as how you asked so nicely, I’ll do so, or would you rather do it for me?”
“Most definitely”

Jogi takes the shirt from Hansi and taking all the care and time you would expect him to, he redresses him. For once he’s happy to be doing so; usually he’s most disappointed at having to redress him, not this time. They’re both dressed and ready now but Jogi shows no inclination to move anywhere. Not even when Hansi takes hold of his hand is he interested in doing so.
“Come on Jogi, it’s just a shirt. You have lots of shirts, more than, well more than anyone else I know.”
But only one Hansi, I know. This is a onetime deal, you know that, right?”
“I do know. After this I’ll put to bed the idea of rainy day Jogi, I promise.”
Jogi smiles at this, taking it in a far more literal way then Hansi intended, not that he has any objections at this particular misunderstanding.
“You can put me to bed anytime you want, Hansi. There’s something I won’t ever argue with.”

Smiling back at him Hansi stays quiet; his only response is to pull Jogi’s hand in the direction of the water. Jogi lets him playfully half drag him there, not really resisting but its fun to make it seem that way. He no longer has any real objections to Hansi’s proposal but as they reach the water’s edge he has one final comment to make on the matter.

“The things I do for you Hans-Dieter.”
“I’ll make it worth your while, don’t you worry.”

Walking into the water Jogi keeps hold of Hansi’s hand, gripping it even tighter when his shirt begins to get wet. Hansi notices and can’t resist making a quip of his own.

“I hope you’d protect me as much as you do your shirts.”
“Hans-Dieter, I’m sacrificing one of those shirts for you. What more proof do you need? You’re worth more than all of my shirts, scarves and stickers combined. There is nothing I would protect more than my beloved Hansi.”
“You take everything so seriously.”
“When it comes to you I do. Like I always say you don’t make jokes about shirts, scarves, stickers or Hansi.”
“Why do I come last in your list?”
“You’re not last; you’re so special you need a list all to yourself. There’s nothing or no-one else in the world special enough to share a list with Hansi.”
“I assure you, you’re special enough to have your own list too.”

Not a word more is said between the two of them. Hansi is happy dreaming of what’s to come later and Jogi is trying his best to do so. Not until they’re almost completely immersed in the water does Jogi speak.

“Here you are, Hansi, your rainy day Jogi.”
“Not quite Löw-man, I haven’t forgotten. You have to get your hair wet too.”
“Elf lord smile or you get nothing, Hansi.”

Hansi complies, smiling at him in that special way which always gets him what he wants. The kind of smile which makes him melt in a way you wouldn’t have thought possible for the ruthless master tactician Hansi knew him to be. Lost once more in Hansi’s smile, Jogi’s complaints of a few moments ago are forgotten. A dreamy expression on his face he lay back in the water, an expression made even dreamier when Hansi came up behind him and ran his fingers through his by now wet hair. With what Hansi’s hands were doing and the pleasant warmth of the water, Jogi is in seventh heaven. Nothing other than Hansi exists right now. Nothing other than his strong and yet gentle hands which these days get him in to as much trouble as they used to get him out of. It was because of said hands that Jogi did not hear a word Hansi was saying.

“I could stay here forever. I could stay anywhere as long as you’re there.”
When Jogi doesn’t reply Hansi continues.
“But I know you don’t want to stay here, even though I’m here. Not for a second more than is necessary.”

Jogi doesn’t reply this time either, leading Hansi to do the one thing he knows will get his attention. He removes his hands from Jogi’s hair. The source of the distraction gone Jogi should be focused once more. However to Hansi’s surprise he remained in his contented state and instead of complaining he did and said nothing, didn’t even search for Hansi’s hands to return them to their rightful place.

“Jogi, I think your hair is plenty wet now.”
This time Hansi gets a response, though not the one he was expecting.
“I’m sure it is, Hansi. But what’s the rush?” asked a very relaxed sounding Jogi.
“Are you serious? All that work to get you out here and now you don’t want to leave?”
“Don’t be so impatient, relax Hansi.”
Laughing incredulously Hansi replies “You’re telling me to relax? You?”
“Yes me, who else would be telling you? There’s no-one else here. Why so impatient anyway?”
“To be perfectly blunt about it, I can’t wait to get you out of that shirt.”
Hansi has Jogi’s full attention now and he couldn’t put his hands back where they were, even if he wanted to. For Jogi turned to face him the second he finished his sentence.
“Well now that you put it like that. Your Prince of Löw is here to serve.”
“If you’re a prince, does that make me the king?”
“I guess so, but only for today. You’re the King of Löw.”
“So you’ll do whatever I command then?”
“Haven’t I done enough already?”
“You have. Except I don’t want you to do anything, in fact I want the exact opposite. You don’t to do anything but be there.”

Putting out a hand for Hansi to take, Jogi replies “I’ll be wherever King Hansi wants me to be. Lead the way.”
His request fulfilled Hansi takes the offered hand and with it firmly in his grasp, he and Jogi walk out of the water. Back on dry land, Hansi stops to enjoy the truly wonderful sight in front of him. A few moments ago Hansi was the one hurrying Jogi along but just this minute he’s in no hurry to go anywhere.

“Why’d you stop, Hansi?”
“I want to enjoy the view. I don’t suppose you’d let me take a picture?”
“What do you need a picture for?”
“It’d be a nice memento.”
“You don’t need mementos, you have me. Besides you have plenty of pictures of me in the album I gave you. Wet look Jogi’s in there.”
“How about lost look Jogi, is he in there too?”
“What are you talking about?”
“That match, when you came back to the bench, you had this adorable lost look on your face when you realised your shirt was wet. I’ve never seen anyone look so sad and lost because they’ve realised it was raining.”
“I wasn’t sad because of the rain. I was sad because of what happened to my shirt.”
“And are you sad now?”
“No, I’m just happy I’m here with you. And I’m not sad about the old one either.”
“Really, why not?”
“Because you liked it. If it makes you happy then I’m happy.”
“Allow me to make you even happier and get you out of that shirt.”
“Go ahead, I’m not stopping you.”
“Not here. Definitely not here” replies Hansi, the glint in his eye leaving no doubt as to the type of thoughts he’s thinking.
“So get our stuff and we’ll leave.”
“You’re giving me orders again. Am I the king in name only?”
“I guess I’ll always be the boss and you’ll always be my assistant.”
“Even when I’m king for the day?”
“Even then. Hansi rules my heart but I give the orders.”
“So you do” replies Hansi as he begins to get their stuff together. Noticing Jogi standing there watching him, he asks “aren’t you going to help?”
“Earlier you said I didn’t need to do anything, that all I need to do is be there. Well, I’m here.”
“Indeed you are my ever literal Löw.”

Jogi true to his word doesn’t do a thing as Hansi works as quickly as he can, his anticipation for what’s to come making him hurry. To his surprise there’s no complaints from Jogi as he quickly bundles up their belongings, none of his typical perfectionism is evident here.

Silence reigns on the short walk back to the hotel, the two of them walking hand in hand, content just to enjoy each other’s company and to think of what’s to come. The silence is only interrupted when it begins to rain.

“Did you plan this, Hansi?”
“No, how could I? Just what do you think I am?”
“A German. A very handsome, delectable and devilishly smart German.”
“Not smart enough for what you’re thinking or devilish enough for that matter. What, do you think I studied the weather reports to deliberately get you wet in the rain?”
“I guess not.”
“Trust me; the only thing I’m plotting is getting you out of that shirt.”
“If you didn’t plan this, then why don’t we have rain jackets?”
“That I will admit to. I didn’t plan this whole thing but I did deliberately not bring those, just on the off chance it did rain. So I could get my rainy day Jogi. Not that it matters, you’re already wet.”
“Did you plan that, what happened at the beach?”
“No, I came up with that just before I told you about it.”
“Ok, Hansi, I believe you.”
“Not that it matters since we’re already wet, but I’m glad we don’t have rain jackets now. As glad as I am that you seem to have forgotten you had one on that rainy day in Recife.”
“I didn’t forget, why does no-one believe me?”
“Because it’s you, it’s so easy to believe that’s true. And if you didn’t forget about it how come you didn’t notice when it went missing?”
“It went missing?”
“Yes, after you took it off you passed it to me, I kept hold of it for a few minutes in case you came to your senses and came back for it. Then I put it to one side, I was thinking about hiding it just in case you did.”
“I thought you said you weren’t that devilish.”
“I’m not; if I was I would have gone through with the idea of hiding it.”
“You may not be that devilish, but I most certainly am, I brought the scarves.”

Hansi’s only reply to this is to start walking a little faster. He was already looking forward to getting back, now he really couldn’t wait. And neither could Jogi who also quickened his pace.

Back in their room Hansi prepared for what he’d been waiting so long to do. He’d been waiting over a year for this moment, for the moment back then he didn’t know was ever actually going to become a reality. This was one of those things that really is worth the wait and will definitely live up to all expectations.

“Take all the time you want, Hansi.”
“I plan to; I’m in no rush now.”
Hansi begins to undo the buttons of Jogi’s shirt, taking as much time as possible. When he’s finally done he helps Jogi out of the shirt, just like he dreamt of doing on that day. The task finished he moves on to drying his hair, a task Hansi could take all day to complete, if only he didn’t know what awaited him afterwards.
“Fun with scarves now, Jogi?”
“Fun with Hansi first, I have to get you out of that wet shirt.”
“And then?”
“Then the scarf lord returns.”

Verbotene Liebe: Jogi & Hansi’s Summer Anniversary Part 1

The first part of the final summer related adventure. And post number 644, perfect, made even better by the fact that it wasn’t deliberate on my part.

Ever since Hansi had returned from the Czech Republic, Jogi had been unable to keep his eyes off him and right now was no exception. Normally Jogi hated lying around waiting for Hansi to wake up. He liked to get out of bed and start the day the moment he woke up. Today was different, not only was he waiting but he was doing so patiently and willingly. The sight of a sleeping Hansi before him helped with that. Jogi may want nothing more than to get the day started and more importantly share his all so special plans but there was nothing like the example of German perfection before him to calm any such impatience.

Jogi had been determined to keep his plans to himself, saying little over the past few days. He was worried if he talked too much he would accidentally say something. In saying nothing he’d said everything. Hansi knew something was on his mind but he had no idea what it was. From Jogi’s questions about what they were doing that summer, his constant checking that Hansi was going to be around the next few weeks, he wrongly thought it was the impending start of the season that was on Jogi’s mind. Thought that Jogi was checking without really asking that Hansi would be around for the first game of the season, since of course the second league started slightly earlier. Never would he have guessed that Jogi was planning a surprise. Such a thing was so out of character as to be almost unimaginable.

Thus Hansi had no idea that Jogi had something special in store for him, not until he woke up to find Jogi watching him. Whenever he woke up to find Jogi watching him as he was now, he knew he had something planned. Hansi recognised all too well the excited look in his eyes, and the equally excited way in which his hand went up to his fringe.

“What do you have planned for me my master planner?”
“How did you know I had something planned?”
“How could I not?”
“But I didn’t say anything.”
“And in saying nothing you told me everything. When I wake up to find you watching over me like that, I know you’ve got something special in store for me.”
“I can never surprise you, Hansi. I don’t like that.”
“You can and do surprise me, Jogi. Rarely a day goes by without you surprising me in some way; it’s just rarely in the way you intend. It’s ironic, I’ll give you that. You who loves to plan just about everything can only surprise me when you don’t plan to.”

Jogi looked crestfallen in his usual special way, the way that Hansi found both adorable and heartbreaking. It was made especially adorable by the fact that he could and did look like that in response to the smallest of things. Things that seemed small but weren’t to him; to him they were as important as any work related decision he ever made. At other times Hansi was unable to stop himself from enjoying a little that kind of look on his face, especially when it was sticker related. It was the contradiction of it that Hansi enjoyed so much, that meant he still found it as funny and as adorable as the first time. Knowing it was about something that really was important here prevented him from deriving any enjoyment from it whatsoever.

“Please don’t look like that, it’s not ruined. I don’t know what you have planned, despite what you think I can’t read your mind.”

Jogi doesn’t answer him, not with words at least. Instead he reaches over to his bedside table and picks up a package that he hands to Hansi, a package which is of course perfectly wrapped. Hansi takes the package from him, he wants to ask what it is but he can tell from the look on his face that he’s not going to get an answer were he to ask. Instead he sets about opening the package under Jogi’s watchful gaze, being careful to do so in line with his high standards. As he removes the paper he waits to see what Jogi will do, to see if he’s going to tell him what the gift is and what it means but all Jogi does is take the paper from him and neatly fold it up. Something which Hansi can’t help but be amused by, Jogi however pays no attention to this, and it’s not because he’s too focused on perfectly folding the paper up. All of his attention is fixed on Hansi and his reaction to the gift; he doesn’t care right now about Hansi finding one more of his quirks amusing.

The front of the album is blank, giving Hansi no clues as to the contents or what Jogi’s intentions are in relation to any plans he has. Opening it, before he can see what the contents are a piece of paper greets him, one of Jogi’s by now familiar lists. Now Jogi looks at him expectantly, this is what he’s been waiting for, for Hansi to read the all important list and to see the picture underneath on the first page.

Scanning the page Hansi sees the flight times listed, but before he reads the rest in more detail he looks up to find Jogi watching him, he clearly cannot wait to tell Hansi what this is all about. Before Hansi can even ask this is exactly what he does and he can only listen in silence as Jogi reels off his plans, as easily as if he had the list in front of him. Explains about going to Stuttgart first and then flying to Brazil, but he gives no explanation as to why they need to spend a whole day in Stuttgart. He lists the times and the dates but provides no explanation as to why those particular dates, not that Hansi needs any reminder of what the last one means. He doesn’t need Jogi or anyone else to remind him it’s the day they returned from Brazil last summer. When Hansi is sure that Jogi is finished reciting the list in front of him he asks his question.

“Why do we have to spend the day in Stuttgart?”
“Look at the first page and you’ll find out.”
Hansi does so, removing the piece of paper to see underneath a picture of him and Jogi from the Ireland game all the way back in 2006.
“This is from our first match, against Ireland.”
“Yes it is.”
“And this is supposed to tell me why we have to spend the day in Stuttgart?”
“It does tell you.”

Attempting to gain himself a little time to think and to work out what Jogi means, Hansi asks about the album.
“What’s in here?”
“Pictures from every match you were by my side for. They’re all there, from the first to the last.”
“What about the Austria match and the Portugal one, are they here too?”
“The Austria one is.”
“But not the Portugal one?”
“I wasn’t there for you to be by my side, that doesn’t count.”
“You made this yourself?”
“Someone else chose all these pictures?”
“No, I did that.”
“Then why did you answer no?”
“Because you asked if I made it, and I didn’t, I chose the pictures but I didn’t make the album.”
“There’s my Jogi, direct, honest and literal as can be.”
“What do you mean, “there’s my Jogi”, I never went anywhere.”

Weighing up his reply, Hansi tries to decide if he should attempt to explain or to at least ask him about this. He always likes to explain when Jogi takes something literally or misunderstands something. He never liked to say “it doesn’t matter” or some similar such thing. He would hate for Jogi to feel like it wasn’t important enough for him to understand or that he didn’t care whether he did or not. At the same time he wasn’t sure if it was better to just explain or to wait for Jogi to ask, Hansi knew from experience that going with the latter option may mean waiting a long time. Hansi had told him that it was ok to say you were confused, had reassured him countless times on this point in fact. Still Jogi’s perfectionism ruled or so he thought, and as he often did he would respond with nothing but silence leaving Hansi to pick up the thread of conversation once more.

“Tell me, Jogi, when you misunderstand something, would you rather me say nothing and wait or explain as soon as I realise?”
“I don’t want to talk about this, Hansi.”
“I get that, I do, but I need to know what to do, what’s best, what you prefer.”
“If you think you need to explain, then do so. I won’t be offended.”
“I can do that. I just wish you would say something sometimes, I wish you would just ask. I’ve told you its ok not to get something. I know how much of a perfectionist you are but I can’t help you if I don’t know you need help.”
“It’s not just about me being a perfectionist.”
“Is this about you worrying what other people think?”
“Not really, they think I’m strange anyway probably. It’s more that people get annoyed with you when you ask things like that. They don’t explain or answer your question, they say things like “you should know what I mean” and other such unhelpful things.”
“You don’t have to worry about that with me, I told you its fine to ask.”
“You say that now, you might not be so patient when I’ve asked lots of times. You might end telling me it’s not important, that it doesn’t matter. I don’t want you to get sick of me.”
“That could never happen and I’d never say it wasn’t important, you knowing what I’m saying could never be unimportant to me.”

Sure that he’s done all he can to reassure Jogi, Hansi gets back to looking through the album and flicks through all the pages, looking at the pictures Jogi has chosen. He wasn’t lying, every single game is there; win, loss, or draw. Every moment Hansi wants to remember and even the ones he’d rather forget. Happy, angry, frustrated, each and every last special moment he and Jogi shared.

Getting to the end he sees the pictures from this summer past, the ones that make him so happy and yet sad at the same time. He still can’t believe that he’ll never stand by Jogi’s side again. There’s been several matches since then, matches he’s been at and yet it still doesn’t seem real, the idea that he won’t be there. He reaches the last page and still finds no explanation; nothing to indicate what he’s supposed to take from this, what it is that he’s failed to understand. He knows he’s trying to tell him something but he has no clue as to what. It’s frustrating, normally Jogi is so direct and to the point that his intentions are never in any doubt. Being cryptic like this is not his style at all; not being used to this makes it all the more frustrating for Hansi.

“Jogi, please tell me what it is I’m supposed to have taken from this.”
“Are you pretending not to understand so I’ll feel better about you ruining the surprise?”
“First of all, I didn’t ruin the surprise, and secondly if you don’t want me to know you’ve got something planned then maybe you shouldn’t let me wake up to the sight of you watching over me with that wonderfully devilish grin on your face. And no, I’m not pretending, I really don’t know what it is you’re trying to tell me.”
“You gave me the idea, Hansi, back in February; you gave me the idea then.”
“With the trip to the Schwarzwald Stadion on Valentine’s Day, that’s what you mean?”
“The one and only.”
“So you’ve got something special planned in Stuttgart?”
“I do, but you can’t ask any more about it. I won’t tell you, back then when I asked you why we needed to go there you asked me to trust you. You said: “Trust me, I have my reasons. Trust your elf lord and all will go well.” So now I’m asking you to trust your sticker lord.”
“Ok, I trust you, I won’t ask anymore, I promise.”

Hansi kept to his word and didn’t ask anymore about what Jogi had planned. It was driving him crazy, trying to figure it out but he stuck to his promise. At least Jogi seemed not to notice that he was trying to work it out, so focused was he on getting everything in order for their trip that he paid no mind to such things. In fact Jogi was so focused on picking out shirts to take that Hansi wondered if he even remembered that he wasn’t going to be travelling alone. Hansi got his answer to such musings when he found himself dragged into the bedroom so Jogi could pick his shirts too.

Hansi didn’t know if he should complain about the fact that he was expected to stand here and not express any opinion whilst Jogi rifled through several different possible choices or if he should just enjoy the view in front of him. When Jogi had told him to stand there he’d given him express instructions not to move, instructions which Hansi was thinking of disobeying just this minute and reminding Jogi as he’d done once before that breaking the rules could be fun sometimes. Thus the next time Jogi handed him a shirt instead of just taking the shirt out of his hand, he took hold of his hand as well.

It took a few seconds for Jogi to grasp that Hansi was holding his hand, he’d already began to turn around to get back to the ever growing pile of rejected shirts. When he did, he was in no doubt about what Hansi wanted. He did not however take the bait.

“Not now, Hansi. There’ll be plenty of time for that in Brazil. Who knows maybe it’ll rain and then you can have even more fun.”
“You’re evil sometimes; you know that, now you’ve said that I’m thinking about you all the more.”
“Well, now you know how I felt then. I had to sit next to you for eight years thinking those thoughts and never being able to do anything about it.”
“Eight years? You were thinking of me all that time?”
“I’m not saying anymore about it, not now, not here.”

Jogi was back to being cryptic again, ever since he’d told Hansi he’d been like that, being careful about what he said. It was more than a little disconcerting, Hansi was used to Jogi being direct and speaking his mind. Him being so careful and considered in not just his choice of words but what he said was making this just that little bit stranger. As if the idea of Jogi planning a surprise wasn’t strange enough, now Hansi had this to contend with too.

The next day Hansi was to get his answer, was to get all of his answers in fact. He would soon find out why they needed to spend the day in Stuttgart, what it was Jogi wanted to do there and whether or not Jogi had really been thinking of him all that time. In the meantime, he could not wait to find out all of this. There was nothing more he wanted to do than to ask Jogi why they were spending the day in Stuttgart. He’d asked the moment Jogi woke up and was told to wait. He asked again when they got in the car and got the same answer. It wasn’t until they arrived in Stuttgart that Jogi said another word, then and only then did he tell Hansi why they were there and where they were going. Now he was back to being as blunt as he usually was, but he still wasn’t telling him what he wanted to know most of all.

“We’re going to the stadium, Hansi. That’s why we’re here.”
“For what reason?”
“You don’t get to ask that. I didn’t get to ask you so you don’t get to ask me.”
“All I’ll say is this; you took boots that day in case I needed them. You won’t need boots today.”

The only thing Jogi’s answer told Hansi was that he wasn’t planning on leading him out to the centre circle like he did that day when he asked Jogi the all important question. He should have known better, Jogi was unlikely to give anything away now, not when he’d gone to so much trouble to keep this secret to begin with. And him feeling like the surprise had been ruined no doubt made him all the more determined to keep his final reveal under wraps. Hansi just hoped this really was the final reveal; he was not enjoying Jogi’s attempts at being secretive. Before at times he’d thought him a little too direct and had not only wondered what it would be like if were less so but had actively tried to encourage this. He was no longer keen on such a thing. Now more than ever he appreciated Jogi’s usual directness and could not wait to have him back. If this is what Jogi was like when planning surprises, Hansi sincerely hoped he didn’t make a habit of it.

Arriving at the stadium Jogi continued his silence, saying nothing to Hansi, merely taking hold of his hand as they walked in. When they got to the touchline, Jogi stopped and turned back to the technical area, to the seats where he and Hansi had sat on that night so long ago. Where they’d sat several times since and where they’d never sit again together.

Now he was ready to tell Hansi the reason for being here. Still holding onto his hand, he made sure that they were standing exactly as they had been that night. Hansi stood there mystified as Jogi put his arm in place so that his hand came to rest on his shoulder. Only when he completed this task did he begin to speak.

“A lot of things happened here, I took charge of my first ever game here. I won my first trophy here. I stood with you for the first time here. And I fell in love with you here, Hans-Dieter. Right here, that moment here is when I knew I was meant to be with you and only you. That I’d never love anyone else the way I love you.”
“That’s what you were trying to tell me with the photo from the Ireland game?”
“Yes. At the end of that match was the first time you put your hand on me, the first time you hugged me. That’s when I knew you were the one. I didn’t ask you to be there because I didn’t need to ask, you just knew what to do. You always know what to do and you’re always where I need you to be.”
“All that time, Jogi, and you never said a word.”
“I didn’t know how to or even if I should, but I thought about it a lot. Especially last summer in Brazil, I couldn’t stop thinking about it then.”
“When did you think about telling me in Brazil?”
“During the semi-final mostly, at several points during that match in fact, almost right from the start. When the anthem was being played, I felt you take a deep breath. I don’t know why you did that or what it meant exactly or how I knew what to do. All I know is I felt something during that moment. As if you needed me to reassure you that I was still there, that I would never leave you, afterwards I thought you might have been thinking what I was thinking.”
“And what was that?”
“That whether we won or lost this match the next one would be the last time I stand by your side like this. And that I didn’t want that to be the case.”
“When else during the match were you thinking about telling me?”
“The second goal, when you came out of nowhere and hugged me. I thought about how you might never hug me like that again. I was happy about the goal, about how everything was going, but most of all I was happy seeing how happy you were. Seeing that look of pure joy on your face, feeling you grab hold of me the way you did. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Were you thinking about such things then, Hansi?”
“Why do you ask? Is there something that makes you think I was?”
“There is actually. When I turned to you and asked you “is this really real” your answer was really confusing. It made me think you might know how I felt, which just confused me even more.”
“I don’t remember that, I don’t recall you saying that or my answer. But you do, don’t you?”
“I do. You said “this match is just like you, Joachim; it’s too wonderfully weird and perfect not to be real.”
“I said that?”
“You did. The night after the match I kept playing those words in my head over and over again. I couldn’t stop hearing them, even if I wanted to.”
“So tell me, why that day? What made you wake up and decide that was the day you were going to tell me?”
“I woke up thinking of you, thinking of how I wished you were there. I thought of all the times we’d travelled together and of all the times we’d had breakfast together. And I realised, that wasn’t going to happen anymore, I was never going to see you in the morning like that ever again. I was never going to get to see a sleepy Hansi again, or get to watch you sleep on the bus or the plane. I realised that not only did I need you to be there, but I wanted you to be there.”
“So there was no real reason why you picked that day?”
“Not really, I didn’t pick it. It just happened; I’d been waiting for the right moment, until I found the courage to do it.”
“You get the point that I’m always trying to make then, that you don’t always need a plan. That it’s ok to just “wing it” sometimes?”
“No, I still don’t agree with that. Not having a plan for telling you made that the scariest moment of my life. Having a plan would have helped I think.”
“I don’t want to argue with you, not now, but you’re wrong. Having a plan wouldn’t have helped; it wasn’t because you didn’t have a plan that you were afraid. You were afraid because there was no plan to be had, because this wasn’t something you could prepare for. This is what I’ve been trying to tell you, you can’t prepare for everything. Your lists and schedules and plans can only get you so far.”
“I don’t agree, Hansi. A plan may not have helped that day but it’s because of a plan that we’re sitting here today.”

Hansi couldn’t find a way to argue with that and honestly, he wasn’t trying very hard to. There were times to set Jogi straight and to point out the flaws in his logic; this was not one of them. Here and now Hansi wanted to do nothing more than enjoy the memories they’d created together here.

It was all so perfect coming back here where it all began, in more ways than one for as Jogi had said, this was not just where him and Hansi stood together for the first time but here was where Jogi had taken charge of any team for the first time ever. It was made even more perfect by the fact that this was not only where their time together began but where it ended, at least in terms of matches played on German soil. Here was the last time they had stood together before departing that summer, the friendly against Chile being the last of the preparation matches before the World Cup.

Hansi however was not thinking of that match; was not thinking about any of their matches in fact. Standing here watching Jogi he was picturing all the times Jogi stood here without him, of his time in charge of the team here. Reminiscing about those days amused Hansi, thinking of how Jogi was back then and how different he was now. To think of his complete lack of taste in clothes and how such a thing would not be possible now. He made no attempt to hide the look of amusement on his face whilst he thought over all of this; consequently not even Jogi could fail to notice it.

“What’s so funny, Hansi?”
“I was just thinking about you being in charge here.”
“And that’s funny to you?”
“No, not at all. I was just thinking about the pictures of you I’ve seen from back then. Of your, how shall I put it, your lack of taste in certain things back then. I couldn’t imagine you wearing such things now.”
“Hansi, I love you, I do but…”
“I know, I know, don’t joke about the shirts. I know the Löw rules. I just couldn’t help myself; standing here with you I couldn’t stop myself from picturing you back then. Will you forgive me this one time, seeing as how it is a very special occasion?”
“I will forgive you, but you’ll have to make it up to me in Brazil.”
“I’m sure I’ll have no problem doing that” replied Hansi with a devilish look in his eyes, leaving no doubt that in this instant he was the one who had something special planned, many special things in fact.

Already his mind was coming up with several different ways in which he could make it up to Jogi who for his part was giving the subject some thought as well. A few moments ago he’d been content to stand there reminiscing and observing the smile on Hansi’s face, yet now he could not wait to leave. An impatience which was all too clear in his actions and his words. Tightening his grip on Hansi’s hand and pulling him in the direction he wanted to go, his words contained his customary directness that Hansi was coming to appreciate so much.

“Actually, why wait till we get there? I have a better thought, we’re going to go back to the hotel right this very moment and you can start making it up to me right away.”
“Sounds like a plan, Löw-mann.”
“It’s not a plan, Hans-Dieter. It’s an order.”
“An order, I stand corrected my ever precise Germanic pedant.”

Hansi did as he was told back at the hotel, they may have only spent one night in Stuttgart but in that one night he already went some way to making it up to Jogi for his shirt related joke. Later that night whilst he was lying in bed wrapped in Jogi’s arms, Hansi thought back on their first and last match in Stuttgart. Wondered if back then Jogi dreamed about him, if he thought about him being wrapped in his arms like he was right now. Hansi knew there was no point in obsessing over such things, yet still he could not prevent himself from thinking back to how much fun they could have had back then.