(death, I suppose.)
You know how some days when all you really need is your favourite pillow and some honest-to-goodness sweet fluff to curl up with? Yeah, this really is not it.
(prompts shamelessly stolen from 1sentence again. seems like it's all I can write these days.)
He wasn't even there when it happened.
(He had to learn about it on the news, watch the reactions of those closest to him, read what everyfuckingbody had to say about it, and he wasn't even there.)
His cheeks are cool and he knows that if he touches them they'll be wet, but there are no tears.
There are no.
They are so young, so so young; he was so young.
The past tense have such sharp teeth and Stevie doesn't think he'll ever understand.
He can't remember the last time they met, they spoke, they fucked, they kissed, their last laugh, smile, words.
He thinks it was good game or I'll call or shut up, but it's all so wrong and he doesn't really remember.
They were never gentle with each other (every thing about them was always rushed always frantic like they always knew time was running out, they never had the chance), never.
If only he could have one more day, one more chance; yet sometimes he thinks (because he does, think, a lot, too much) they already had their chances, some they took and some they'd just let them pass by untouched.
They say when you die, you'll go to hell if not one person sheds a tear for you; but you'll go to heaven if many do.
Stevie takes a look at the thousands, he thinks it wouldn't make a difference whether he does or not.
He was a top man, king among us, he says and then they're rushing him off so that the next player in line can have his turn.
If Frank were here, he'd say that Stevie can learn something from this (he always did, that stupid twat, life is a journey, everything happens for a reason, we can learn from them, and Stevie thinks he'd rather not).
It's all a blur now, if he thinks back (he wasn't there, but he's seen the moment so many times now, overandoverandover), but it was all so simple; just a fall, just a snap, just a collision, just a second and it was all just so simple.
They were never each other's firsts (they both knew it, with each regretful look, each unspoken apology, each mumbled excuse), and even now, Stevie's still waiting.
He never thought it would change, never wished for it to, but for once, can't he just-
He waits for someone to tell him to snap out of it, stop moping, stop thinking, stop hurting, stop just stop; but they don't, and no one really notices.
Letting go is so hard, they say (they always do), you just have to learn to; but Frank was never his to start with, so Stevie doesn't need to, he doesn't.
It's unfair (but oh so typical) that he should look this good even now, wrapped up neatly in a wooden box; nobody else ever does, and that's because nobody should be allowed to, Stevie thinks.
(He reaches in and strokes the back of his hand against one smooth polished cheek.)
Someone comments that it's really crowded in there as they step in, and he's answering even before he realises it. (Yeah? Well it's lucky that he's always liked a good party then, ever the attention-whore.)
They stare at him, before Michael coughs and grins (don't mind him, Stevie's quite the soulless bastard, even rolls his eyes for effect).
They turn away, slightly embarrassed, and Michael lays a gentle hand in the small of his back.
He arrives at the funeral and the first thing he sees is Frank's picture: black-framed, huge (he thinks, that woman doesn't have a single subtle bone in her body), and he's grinning toothily but his eyes are wide like he was caught by surprise and it's the single most ridiculous thing Stevie's ever seen.
He wants so badly to laugh then, right in his face, but he manages to stifle it just in time.
And only fools rush in... (but I don't even believe in Elvis, he whispers to no one in particular) he chuckles and takes a deep breath, his cheeks stinging from the cold, and the leaves crackle loudly beneath his feet.
It's a beautiful autumn day when he dies.
He dreams of Alex, Lexie, Lily and Paul dying and wakes up screaming in the middle of the night (Alex shoots him a concerned look before carrying a crying Lily out of the room), he thinks he's going mad.
You going to eat that son? He looks up to see his dad walking by, huh? Yeah, sure. Just not very hungry right now.
He takes the sandwich and pushes it reluctantly into his mouth, forces himself to chew until his dad walks on, satisfied.
The first time they train without him, nobody really talks; he doesn't quite remember what actually went on, just that it was all so quiet, like they were just after David left, 'cept different though they all knew neither one of them were ever coming back (that and John and Rio like to wear their pain plain for all to see, wrap their sorrow round their shoulders, and Stevie thinks he's never hated them more).
He never even got to say it, it occurs to him standing before his grave, not in his head, not to his face, not out loud, not in the way that really matters.
(Good. Bye. Good BYE. Good fucking bye. Goodbye.)
Most of the boys had stopped wearing their black bands after two games, though Rio, John and the other Chelsea lads still put theirs on proudly before each match.
He glances at his thrown across the bench, then tugs once at his collar and jogs out to the pitch.
He was lucky, they say, could've been worse, could've hurt. (Stevie stares at them, then excuses himself inaudibly and leaves.)
No one feels safe anymore, they're talking about taking measures, Carra holds up the papers, points out the paragraph. Yeah? he takes it and scans through the lines, well maybe they should've thought of that before- and dumps it on the bench. C'mon, measures or no, still have training.
He sees him in every blue shirt, every central midfield, at the start of every training, in that smile, in Luis' fucking pink jumper (if he didn't know better, he'd say that Frank's haunting him, he laughs).
When Frank said he was giving him a book for Christmas, it wasn't exactly what he had been expecting (You're giving me my own autobiography? What the fuck Frank, at least gimme something I hadn't written. Like yours. ...wait, you went out and bought this? And what is that you've written comments on all the pages?!).
Stevie picks it up, mutters stupid obnoxious twat, and carefully smooths the edges of the book.
He opens the newspaper the next day and there's this huge tribute to him that spans a full 4 pages; Frank's giant face stares silently up at him, he glances at it, thinks huh, I always thought he had blue eyes as he flips the page.
Stevie doesn't smoke; he cannot, he shouldn't, it ruins the lungs, the body and Stevie's an athlete he's responsible for his own body, and fuck he doesn't even know how to.
(Carra finds him outside the parlour after, trying to light a smoke. Says I didn't know you two were close, and takes the cigarette from his hands.
Stevie bites his lip and looks away.)
They call in this woman to sing at the burial, and she's standing there before the open grave, singing (about light and love and God's children) like she's just lost her whole family of five.
Stevie cringes slightly, moves slowly backwards, sidestepping a sobbing Elen and her girl band of emotional support, and sidles to the edge of the group.
As they carry Frank out, he's gripped by the sudden urge to run in front of them, to just stop everything and shake him awake; Alex whispers to him and he realises that he's been gripping her hand too tight. (He smiles, forces himself to relax.)
He can't stop thinking about it, turning the memory over and over in his mind, picking at it like an old scab.
(He knows he should. Stop. But he can't he just can't-)
They've never said it to each other, never (those three completely useless priceless forbidden fucking stupid words); 'cept maybe he might have once, or Frank that one time after, but it's all maybe's and might have's and Stevie can't remember anything clearly anymore, and time obscures everything, especially memories that the dead cannot verify.
He finds an old voicemail accidentally one day (hey, erm this is Frank. Lampard. And I don't know if you, I mean I just thought- just. Just call me yeah? When you get this.), from when they were still new, this was still new, saved in the depths of his phone; he listens to it, the hesitancy in Frank's voice and closes his eyes.
Lets it wash over him.
Some days he finds himself sitting on the curb outside his bathroom, knees drawn up to his chest, mind blank (and then Alex walks in; he looks down, pretends to adjust his socks).
Stevie likes his room, the one where he keeps all his trophies and jerseys; the ones that really matter, he holds them to his heart. (The lads've always liked this room too, not just for the machines and pool tables, but they understand what it means; perhaps not entirely but still, they always yell no Manc shirts allowed every time they walk past.)
He walks to the end (where no one ever goes because it's just too damn far and God, Stevie really have you been playing for this long already?) where a lone blue shirt is kept, reaches out, and turns off the light.
If he stops to think about it, Stevie'll laugh and he'll say that it's so wrong that even in death Frank still has as much power over him as he had when he was alive, maybe even more.
He wonders if it were him, instead of Frank, if it were him (it's wrong, he shouldn't think this, it's useless it's pointless and he loves them, but ohgod he wishes-), would Frank even bother.
He wouldn't, Stevie decides in the end (or he decides that he doesn't want him to; because this needs to end now, stop, but god he doesn't ever want it to).
Hey want to have hot against-the-wall sex with me? Frank had looked so completely sure of himself as he pressed Stevie back into the wall, grinning and that was so bad he has tears in his eyes just remembering it now.
It's when he's standing in the middle of his shower, naked and wanking desperately to the memory of a dead man that he thinks, he really needs help.
He drives all the way to Carra's (mumbles something about football and Liverpool and Alex doesn't even question, she never does) and crashes on his couch.
They haven't said a word since that night Stevie showed up at his place, dishevelled and delirious (Stevie still doesn't know if he knows, or how much he knows, but Carra's a smart man; and Stevie doesn't think he wants to know).
I don't even dream about you, you know that? I don't, that's right. I don't, and I don't need you and I don't want you and I don't- love you. Love you. I said it loveyouloveyouloveyoustupidfucker come back comebackcomeback. Please. Come back.
He tries to punch a wall, stands there like an idiot with his fist raised and it hurts just holding it back, but he can't he can't because they're facing Everton next week and Rafa will have his head, and he can't even.
Daddy? Lily tugs at his sleeve; he starts and blinks at her for a moment, while she stares curiously back up at him, then he's bending down and scooping her up in his arms, burying his face in her hair.
He sits her down, Alex? and takes her hand, I- (love you) don't- (ever leave me); he bites his lip, stay, okay? Please.
She frowns, then nods hesitantly (okay, the children are already in bed so we can stay up for awhile I guess, but you still have training in the morning yeah?); he smiles, and she gives a small laugh, still a little confused.
He dreams of Frank that night.
(He pushes past Frank on his way out, and almost makes it to the doors; hey wait, where are you going?
Stevie shrugs the hand off, out, he doesn't even bother turning around.
But Eriksson wants us in his room now.
Do you really think- and this time he does turn around, forget it Frank, just- leave it. He looks up at Frank, and they're eye to eye for a moment, before he looks away, tries to leave.
Okay, wait. I'm coming along.
Look, I don't know what you think you're doing but-
And that's just it isn't it? he cuts him off quietly. So what now, Stevie, this is it? The hand is back on his arm again, Stevie clenches his jaw, and refuses to be the first to look away.
In the end, it's Frank who does. C'mon, they're famous for their beers here, I'll buy you a drink, smile back in place.
And Eriksson? he arches a brow questioningly.
Well.. if you want we could ask him along, I suppose, Frank furrows his brows, then grins. Nah, I'll phone him. He'll understand.
Stevie eyes him skeptically for a second, then laughs, his first genuine one of the night, and allows Frank to lead him out onto the streets.)