Pairing: Ian Thorpe/Pieter van den Hoogenband
Rating: Hard PG-13 to soft R
Summary: Ian is willing to admit he has problems. He just doesn’t see what this has to do with it.
Author’s note: Written as a birthday present for shubassdk, who much prefers fluff to this. Er. Sorry?
Christina calls him the day after and asks, "Did you fuck him?" Ian doesn't find that funny, so he wants to tell her to shut up. He does. "Shut up."
She's laughing like she's always laughing. The oldest and the smartest, but never the best. "Oooh, hit a nerve, did I? Well, sorry, okay? How are you? Are you very tired?" And they chat like that for over an hour, even though it could all have been summed up in about a minute. Perhaps a sentence.
Yes, I fucked him, and no, you can't hear about it.
He calls his mother Margaret, because calling her Mum is juvenile. He loves her more than he loves swimming, but telling her that won't help anything, and she already knows, besides. She never calls him, but his father does, and hums on the line, trying to find new ways of saying your mother would like to talk to you. It angers him that she can't tell him that herself. But then she's there, and she crackles through the line, lines and wrinkles around her voice just like her mouth. She sounds self-deprecating, mother away from grown-up son.
This stunning photograph for sale, only 200 euros...
They are mirror-images of each other, and yet, they're really not. He can't explain it any better, although Christina tries every time she has the both of them in her line of vision.
Which isn't often.
"So, congratulations," Pieter says. His accent is a bit off, like he swallowed something and hasn't given himself the time to chew it properly. "Isn't it a thrill?"
Ian smiles tightly at him. "Were you going to finish that?" he asks, but knows what the reply will be.
A long, taut silence, like the wait before the whistle. Two lines drawn further away from each other, until they're released with a snap. With a bang. Off we go. But Pieter's bangs are always silent.
Ian doesn't approve, but then he doesn't approve of a lot that has to do with Pieter. Especially not all the medals he managed to win from right under his nose. Especially not the smug grin on his face or the way his accent makes his words thick and snapping, almost blending his "I would never miss a meal like this," into obscurity.
But still, he doesn't yank on Pieter's hair when he settles down to suck him off again. At least, not anymore than Pieter likes.
There's shower-room steam all around them, but Ian is stone-cold and not thinking about his mother's wrinkles and her voice through the continents.
And he is in control.
It's the oddest things that spring to mind, sometimes. And some of the most obvious.
He remembers the colour they painted their kitchen when he was four, and the recipe for that raspberry cake his grandmother used to bake. He remembers, too, Christina when she gave him his first skin-mag. The glint in her eyes and the secretive smile she gave him when she curled his fingers around it.
I know something you don’t. And she blinked and looked away.
It wasn't until he rolled it out that he discovered why. It was full of naked guys, doing things to each other that he had no name for, but made him blush anyway. So he threw it away. He wasn't that, never wanted to be that, and she could go hang herself with her innuendo and her "sophistication". He wrapped it in two kinds of plastic and then put it in a bag before he dropped it in the big dumpster a quarter's walk from their house.
He's willing to bet Pieter never did that. He's fucking Dutch, and they've never had these problems.
Ian is willing to admit he has problems. He just doesn’t see what this has to do with it.
Pieter’s bangs always come afterwards, and they’re always silent. You just need to listen for them, because you’ll blink and miss them.
All in all, they’re competitors. All in all, they’re enemies, of a sort. All in all, they fuck each other, sometimes, when adrenaline runs high, but it isn’t anyone’s fucking business.
And Pieter can just shut the fuck up.
Adrenalin feels good, rushing to his muscles, his head. It makes his eyes focus, he sees the world in pin-pricks, and only what’s necessary. His vision is narrow and complete, and he could draw maps of the water, every movement of his body. No thought beyond what it will take for him to win this, to beat them all. No existence beyond the water, rushing over him. Reconstructing him in its image.
It feels so good when existence is this simple. He doesn’t understand why everybody doesn’t do this.
His father is limitless, effortless. At times ageless. But the existence of his children narrows him down. He is not the man he used to be, but he is the father he has slowly become. His edges come from being fitted to his role, because you can’t find a tailor to measure you properly when you’re in a hurry. That’s why he’s so awkward. It’s the reason he drinks so much.
Or so Christina claims.
She claims so much, and half of Ian’s time is spent disproving her. In the other half, he swims.
When Pieter fucks him, Ian doesn’t feel jealous. It helps that he can’t see his smile, because Pieter prefers him on his hands and knees, with one hand carelessly jacking him off whenever he remembers it, or Ian curses loudly enough to get his attention.
In fact, Ian feels elevated. He can have this. He’s having this. He’s being given this, he’s taking this, and by God, by God, he doesn’t care, okay? It’s not any of their business, it’s not even his business, but he’s doing it and it feels good and his mind is melting and fuck you, Pieter, fuck you, for making him want this, and just, everybody, go away and leave him alone, alright? He’s almost there, almost there, this close to winning this battle, and, Christ, Christina, just go away? Just go away.