pairing: david silva/david villa
summary: footballkink prompt: David Silva was a quiet hard working student, with a part time job in a bar, until he met...
Silva wipes down the top of the bar as the bouncer, Nigel, ushers the last straggling customers out, holding them upright by their collars. As soon as the door closes behind them, Silva turns off the stereo, but he knows he’ll hear Bon Jovi in his head for the rest of the night.
He looks through his tips, thinks it was a good night. A hundred bucks tonight, a couple more over the weekend, and maybe he’ll be able to catch up on rent this month.
He closes the register down, asks Nigel to clean up the bathroom so he can get home, get to sleep. He has class in 5 hours.
Silva’s alarm goes off at 6:30. He hadn’t finished his reading before his shift started the night before, and he knows he has to be ready. Not that many people show up for a Friday 8 a.m. philosophy class, and he hates sounding stupid when he gets called on, even if everyone else in the room is half asleep.
He eats oatmeal at the breakfast bar, his feet swinging. He wants to turn on the television for some background noise, to help keep him awake, but his roommate’s room is right next to the TV and Silva doesn’t want to bother him, so.
Class is pretty empty, like he’d expected. A couple minutes before they’re supposed to start, a guy he knows a little bit, Raul, slides into the seat next to him.
“Morning, Silva,” Raul says, and yawns. He’s holding a travel mug in one hand and it smells good, makes Silva wish he drank coffee.
“Morning,” Silva returns.
“You work last night?” Raul asks as he reaches down in his backpack, pulls out a ripped up notebook and a pen.
Raul slouches over in his chair, leaning his head on one fist. “I don’t know how you do it, man,” he says, yawning again. Silva shrugs, and the professor begins speaking so he doesn’t have to say anything else. Later, when the professor calls on Raul and Raul struggles to respond, Silva points out the answer in the book. Raul gives him a relieved smile.
Silva pinches his leg, tries to keep his eyes open. He thinks about whether he has time to take a nap in the library between classes.
He gets home at 3, two hours before he needs to be at the bar. Pablo’s in the kitchen.
“Hey, man,” he says. “Didn’t hear you come in last night.”
“It was late,” Silva says, and he yawns. He’d studied during his break between classes. He doesn’t like sleeping in the library anyway; he’s always afraid someone will steal his stuff, even if he uses his bag as a pillow.
“It always is,” Pablo says. “You want some pasta?”
“I want to sleep,” Silva says. But then he thinks that he can sleep longer if he doesn’t have to make dinner before work, so- “Save me some?”
“Sure,” Pablo says.
“And wake me if I’m not up by 4:30,” Silva says, walking into his room. “Please.”
He gets to the bar early and it’s pretty empty; too late for the lunch crowd and too early for happy hour. The daytime bartender, Juan, is cleaning off tables.
“Ready for the madness?” he asks as Silva walks in, running a hand through his hair. He’d slept longer than he'd meant, ate a bowl of spaghetti standing over the sink; he thinks there might be sauce on his face.
“No,” he says. “Never ready.”
“Anything going on tonight?” Juan asks, walking back behind the bar to clock out.
“The usual, I guess,” Silva says. He starts pulling glasses out of the dishwasher, stacking them behind the bar. “Some new DJ is coming in around 10.”
Juan disappears into the back and then reappears a moment later, a bag slung over his shoulder. “Hey, you know who else is working tonight?” Silva asks him.
Juan smirks. “I think Unai said he’ll work the bar with you.”
Silva tries not to roll his eyes. He likes his boss, he really does, but he tends to get distracted, wander around yelling at people rather than actually helping with the bar duties. “Awesome,” he says. Juan pats him on the shoulder.
“You need anything before I take off?” he asks, but Silva says no and he leaves.
Silva doesn’t mind happy hour, because most of the customers order food and that means he doesn’t have to take care of them. He knows he won’t have much to do until 8 or 9, and he pulls out a textbook, Astronomy. He doesn’t know anything about science, doesn’t really think he has the head for it, but his college requires at least 6 science credits, and he’d always thought there was something cool about the stars and the planets. It turns out they’re less cool when you’re trying to calculate how far they are from each other, what they’re made up of, but he’s trying.
A couple hours later it’s a full bar, and like he’d expected Unai is nowhere to be seen, but Silva doesn’t mind that much. He knows he’ll clean up in tips and then maybe he can turn over some of his shifts next week, get a full night’s sleep. And the DJ’s not bad, hardly playing any 80s music, which is really all Silva can ask for. Overall the most annoying thing about the night is the girls in the corner who keep ordering mojitos and only tipping a buck, even though they take fucking forever to make.
Silva’s tired, but really, he can’t complain.
At one point the DJ takes a break, makes his way over to the bar. Silva smiles at him; he’s a small guy, still bigger than Silva, as most people are, and his features are sharp, dark. He asks for a water and a gin and tonic, and then says, “On second thought, hold the tonic.” Silva likes him.
“What’s your name?” Silva asks, filling a tall glass with ice water.
“Villa,” the DJ says, holding a hand out. His handshake is firm.
“No obnoxious DJ name?” Silva asks. They’ve put the stereo on and it’s loud, so Silva’s shouting, leaning in towards Villa.
He gives Silva a half smile but doesn’t answer. He still has his headphones around his neck; they’re huge and red. He has diamond studs in his ears. Silva usually gives the DJs their bottom shelf liquor, since it’s all on the house, but he goes for some higher end stuff for Villa; figures it’s a silent way of thanking him for not playing Journey. He looks pleased, tips his glass at Silva.
The night goes quickly and last call comes faster than Silva expected. Villa’s shut down for the night (the stereo’s back on, and Silva is subjected to Bon Jovi for the first time all night, but it’s okay). Nigel is starting to escort groups out, check the bathrooms.
A tallish, broader man approaches the bar. He’s been drinking whiskey all night, him and a group of other loud men, but Silva doesn’t see the others anymore, remembers them closing out their tab half an hour or so earlier.
The man’s eyes are bloodshot, and Silva eyes him warily. “Time to go, man,” he says, bent over the counter, running a rag over it.
“One more,” the man says, leaning over the bar towards Silva, and Silva guesses he’s trying to look charming, or alluring. It isn’t working.
“No can do,” Silva says. He looks for Nigel, or Unai, but no one’s in sight.
The man leans in closer to Silva, close enough that Silva can smell the booze on his breath. “You’re cute,” he breathes. “You should come home with me.” Silva starts to step back, but the man snatches a hand out, surprisingly quick for someone so drunk. He gets a hold of the back of Silva’s head, holds on tightly.
“Come on,” he’s slurring, right in Silva’s face. He’s pulling Silva toward him, over the bar, and the shelves below are pushing into Silva’s shins painfully. Silva tries to remove the man’s hand with his own, but he’s got a good grip on Silva’s hair. Silva’s eyes start watering.
“Get the hell off me, man,” Silva says, but the man just leers, and then someone walks up beside him.
“I think he said get the fuck off him,” and Silva sees it’s Villa, feels a weird sense of shame, like he should have gotten out of this situation himself, or shouldn’t have gotten into it in the first place.
“Who the fuck are you?” the man asks him, loosening his grip on Silva’s head the slightest bit and looking over.
Villa grabs hold of the arm that stretched out toward Silva and says, “Fucking let go, man, Jesus,” and then the man does let go, but only to swing his now-free arm in Villa’s direction and punch him in the mouth.
“Shit,” Silva mutters, “Shit,” and hops up over the bar to check on Villa, now sprawled out on the ground. Nigel appears, finally, and has the guy hauled up and out before Silva can explain what happened.
Villa sits up, his hand at his mouth, and when he draws it away, there’s blood there. Silva bends over him, helps him get up. “Come on, come in the back. You’re bleeding, Jesus.”
Silva leads him into the employee bathroom, and then leaves him leaning up against the counter while he goes to get towels and ice. When Silva gets back, he’s inspecting his wound in the mirror.
“The fucker was wearing a ring,” he says, and his speech is slurred behind his swollen lip.
“Stop talking,” Silva says, and wets a paper towel to dab at the cut. He gets it clean and then puts ice wrapped in a towel up against it. Villa winces at the cold.
“You didn’t have to do that,” Silva says. He lets Villa take hold of the ice pack himself and steps back, leaning against the bathroom wall.
Villa lifts the towel a little. “Whatever, he was an asshole.”
Silva laughs. “That’s true.”
Villa lifts the towel more, inspects his lip in the mirror. “That’s gonna look nasty tomorrow,” he mutters.
Silva feels responsible, so he says, “Sorry.”
Villa scoffs. “Don’t. Not your fault.” He turns back toward Silva, the ice clutched in his hand, away from his face. For a moment, they just look at each other. Villa starts to smile, as much as he can without hurting his lip, which isn’t a lot.
“What?” Silva asks finally.
“Nothing,” Villa says. He puts the towel back against his face, but then, “Hey.” And a pause. Silva lifts an eyebrow. He’s starting to feel how tired he is again, now that the adrenaline is wearing off. “Hey,” Villa says again, and then, “Can I have your number?”
Silva freezes. He’s too tired, too many creeps hitting on him tonight, and now-
“Is that why you-“ Silva starts, gesturing towards Villa’s face.
“What?” Villa says, and he’s surprised so he says it too quickly and winces at the pain. “Wait, no. I was just. No.”
Silva rolls his eyes, steps forward a little. He pushes the ice back at Villa’s lip. “Okay. Well. I don’t think it’s a good idea. But thanks for the help anyway.”
Villa keeps looking at him, his eyes serious. After a minute, he moves the ice down again and says, “Okay, how about this. I’ll give you my number, and if you feel like calling, you call. And if not.” He pauses, looks toward the ceiling. He smiles a little. “If not, then I guess I’m just some stranger you got punched in a bar.”
Silva rolls his eyes again, but when he goes home that night, falls into bed with his jeans still on, it’s with Villa’s number in his pocket.
Silva thinks about calling, he really does. He’s just so busy with school and with work, and then by the time he does decide to call, one night that he has off, that he can’t study anymore, he realizes that he washed the number with his jeans, and he can’t read the digits anymore.
It’s weeks later, when Silva’s almost forgotten about it- almost- that Unai tells him Villa is DJing again. “Oh,” he says, “Okay. Cool. He was good.” He pretends not to care, pretends he isn’t wishing he was dressed a little nicer, had gotten a little more sleep last night.
The bar’s already packed by the time Villa gets there to set up, so Silva doesn’t see him until he takes his break and heads to the bar for his drink. “Gin hold the tonic?” Silva asks, and Villa smiles, nods.
“Your lip looks okay,” Silva says as he pours, glancing up with a tiny smile.
Villa puts his hand up to it instinctively. “Hurt like a bitch for days,” he says. “But yeah, hardly a mark now.” He takes the gin Silva’s poured while Silva gets him an ice water.
He waits until Silva hands him the other glass, looks him right in the face and leans in when he says, “You never called.” He smiles when he says it, like he’s teasing Silva. Silva hopes Villa can’t see his face flush in the dark bar.
Silva opens his mouth, thinks about how to explain, whether Villa really wants to hear how busy Silva’s been, how he washed the number like an idiot.
Instead, what comes out is, “Come home with me.” It surprises them both.
Villa’s face goes serious. Silva licks his lips.
In the end they go to Villa’s, because Silva lives with Pablo and their apartment has thin walls, but Villa lives alone and Silva doesn’t think his apartment has thin anything. It’s one of the nicest places Silva has ever seen in real life.
Silva looks around with wide eyes, trails his fingertips over the marble counters. “Jesus,” he says. “Jesus.”
Villa looks embarrassed. Silva notices there aren’t any pictures or anything on the walls, nothing that really makes the place personal, makes it feel like a home. He hooks a finger through Villa’s belt loop, lets him lead Silva into his bedroom.
It’s not something he does that often- ever- going home with people from the bar. Going home with anyone. He’s tired but he doesn’t mind it when Villa pushes him down, traces his tongue lazily over Silva’s torso, takes his time. He likes it, likes how Villa squirms when Silva brushes his hand over his cock, how he’s strangely quiet, strangely sweet, the soft noises he makes when Silva opens him up with two fingers, the way he squeezes his eyes shut when he comes. Likes the way how afterwards, Villa stays up, asks him questions about himself, actually seems interested in the answers.
“I’m gonna be a teacher,” Silva says, after Villa asks what he’s in school for.
“Oh yeah?” Villa asks. His fingers trail down Silva’s spine, push into his lower back. “What grade?”
“I don’t know,” Silva says. He yawns, presses his face into a pillow that feels expensive under his skin. “First, maybe.”
“You’ll be good at it,” Villa says. Silva wonders how he knows.
In the morning, Silva slips out early, leaves his number scrawled across a notepad in the kitchen. He makes it home with just enough time to eat and grab his textbook before he has to leave for class. Later, when he drags himself home for a nap before work, Pablo’s watching TV and looks up with a smirk.
“I heard you come in this morning,” he says. He stands up, moves into the kitchen where Silva’s pouring a glass of water. Silva turns toward the cabinets so Pablo can’t see his face.
“Sorry if I woke you,” he mumbles.
Pablo laughs. “You didn’t.” He pauses, like he’s waiting for Silva to say something. Silva just gulps at his water. “So who’s the lucky lady?” Pablo asks eventually.
Silva flushes again, pushes past Pablo into his room. “It’s not like that,” he says, and he supposes it’s technically true.
He falls into his bed. The sheets feel cheap under his cheek.
It’s a routine Silva falls into too fast for him to really make sense of it. He goes to school. He works. He goes to Villa’s. He catches an hour or two of sleep, here and there, whenever he can manage it. On nights that Villa’s out of town on gigs, he works extra hard, tries to get homework done so he doesn’t have to do it after the bar, after Villa, before class. In the end, he drops Astronomy and Intro to Anthropology; he doesn’t have time to keep up with the reading, can’t get a handle on the math.
He expects Villa to be happy when he mentions it, because Silva will have more time now, but instead his brow furrows like he’s disappointed.
“You shouldn’t have to drop classes because you’re too tired,” he says.
Silva’s confused. “Well, I didn’t know what else to do. Something had to give. It’s just two classes, anyway,” and he doesn’t know why he’s trying to explain.
Villa continues to look mildly upset. “You should quit the bar,” he says suddenly. He looks at Silva plaintively, like it’s the most obvious solution in the world.
Silva taps his fingers on the arm of his chair, raises an eyebrow. “Yeah, great idea. Then I can go ahead and drop the rest of my classes too, ‘cause I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to pay for them.”
Villa bites his lip, looks at the ceiling. Finally he just shrugs and says, “I can pay your tuition.”
Silva looks at him sideways. “Shut up,” he says, not knowing whether to take him seriously or not.
“Why?” Villa asks. He shrugs, like it’s not even a big deal that he basically just offered Silva thousands of dollars, for no reason at all.
“Because,” Silva says, “because that’s, like, literally insane.”
“Well, it’s not literally insane,” Villa says. “Maybe you should take a vocab class too.” He’s smiling, nudging Silva’s leg with his toe, but Silva doesn’t feel like joking.
“I’m serious,” Silva says. “Don’t say stuff like that.”
He’s not sure Villa understands, but he nods anyway.
Somehow, Silva ends up with a key to Villa’s apartment.
It starts one night when Villa has a job across town at a late night club. He tells Silva he doesn’t have to wait up, but Silva wants to, he really does, and he figures he’ll get some studying done while he waits. Which he does.
And then he goes to Villa’s, and Villa tastes like gin and smells like smoke and he’s warm, so warm, and he’s biting at Silva’s hipbones and holding Silva down, and then he’s taking Silva in his mouth, his fingers gripping Silva tightly, and it feels nice, it feels so nice-
Silva falls asleep.
He falls asleep, and when he wakes up, Villa is staring at him, his chin resting on Silva’s hip, a smile slowly spreading across his face, and he laughs in disbelief.
“You were fucking asleep!” he accuses, sitting up on his knees.
“No, I wasn’t,” Silva protests, dragging a hand across his eyes. He knows he’s lying.
Villa hits a knuckle against his knee, says, “You’re a bad liar.” He moves to lay down next to Silva.
“I’m sorry,” Silva says, and he yawns. He doesn’t know what else to say, so he just says it again, “I’m sorry.”
Villa laughs. “I told you that you didn’t have to wait up for me,” and his voice is soft. Silva knows he isn’t mad.
“I wanted to.”
Villa’s quiet for a moment and he says, “I’ll give you a key. So next time you can wait here, and sleep if you want.”
Silva feels bad so he doesn’t argue, and that’s how he ends up with a key to Villa’s place.
That week in Philosophy he can barely keep his head up, even though he called out of work Thursday night. He doesn’t see Raul slide in next to him because his head’s down in his book, his burning eyes closed.
“Late night at the bar again?” Raul asks, nudging Silva’s elbow.
Silva picks his head up, grunts. “Didn’t work last night.”
“Oh,” Raul says, and doesn’t say anything else.
Silva doesn’t know why, but he says, “Actually. Actually, I’m kind of seeing someone. And it’s taking up a lot of time. So.”
Raul looks surprised, because of what Silva said or because Silva is talking at all, he doesn’t know. But he looks surprised, and after a moment he says, “Hey, man, that’s great though.” He stretches his legs out in front of him, smiles vaguely in Silva’s direction. “Can’t just be all work and school all the time, right? At the end of the day there’s more to life.”
And Silva wants to say, but it was easier before, or to ask Raul, how do other people do it all? Instead he just lays his head back on his book, thinks about how he didn’t know you could be so happy and miserable all at the same time.
“Why don’t you ever play music when we’re here?” Silva asks. It’s a Saturday and for once they’ve managed to get up before noon. Villa got bagels- he remembered Silva’s favorite, everything with garden cream cheese- and they’re sprawled out over the couch with a newspaper spread between them, a rare moment of rest and quiet.
Villa sets down the section of the paper he was reading. He has cream cheese on his cheek. “I don’t know,” he says. “I don’t want to be that guy, or annoy you or anything.”
“It wouldn’t annoy me,” Silva says, and leans over to swipe the cream cheese away. Silva thinks he suddenly looks really happy, and wishes he’d said something before. Villa stands up and walks over to his stereo system.
“I know the perfect thing,” he mutters, and a moment later music comes bursting
through the speakers. With all his nice things, Silva expected a good sound system, but this- this is more than he could have imagined. He thinks it’s like he’s sitting inside the song.
Villa comes back to the couch, sits next to him, careful not to make him slosh his tea. He looks happy, hopeful. “You like it?”
And Silva pauses, nods. He does like it, he really likes it- the music’s happy and the singer’s voice is low, calm- it’s a song that sounds just like Saturday mornings on the couch, like sunshine spilling in the windows, like being lazy with someone you love- but he can't say that, so instead he just sips his tea, traces his fingers over Villa’s face. Rests.
One night Silva’s up late, studying in Villa’s kitchen. Villa pads out, eyes blinking heavily in the light, before he reaches for a glass, starts filling it with water.
“You’re still studying?” he asks. Silva grunts a response. “I don’t know why you do it,” Villa says. He takes a long sip of water before he leans over Silva’s chair, dragging his lips across Silva’s temple. His mouth is cold, and Silva shivers.
“Because I want to be a teacher,” Silva says. But his eyes are heavy, and even as he says it, he wonders if it’s true or if he’s just so used to saying it he can’t remember how to say anything else.
And life goes on like that for a few months, until one day they’re laying in bed and it’s late and Villa says, “Silva, I got offered a gig.”
Silva turns over to face him. Villa’s on his stomach, propped up on his arms, facing Silva. His face is serious. “That’s good,” Silva says, feeling like he’s not understanding something. “Where at?”
“New York,” Villa responds.
“Oh,” Silva says. “This weekend?”
“No,” Villa groans, rubbing a palm over his face, like he’s frustrated, like Silva isn’t keeping up. “A permanent gig.”
Silva looks at him for a beat, lets the words sink in. Then, he forces himself to say, “Oh, wow, that’s great. That’s really great. Wow.” Villa just looks at him, his expression blank. “When do you leave?” Silva has to look away from Villa’s face then, looks up at the ceiling instead.
“As soon as I can,” Villa says. “Next week, probably.”
Silva nods, keeps looking at the ceiling. He feels Villa put a hand across his chest. “Silva,” Villa says, waits for Silva to look over at him. Silva does. “I want you to come with me.”
Silva stares at him, waits for the punch line. When it doesn’t come, he says slowly, “I have school. Work.”
“Quit,” Villa says, just like that, like it’s the easiest thing in the world.
Silva pushes Villa’s arm off his chest, looks at him incredulously. “I can’t just quit.”
“Why not?” Villa’s looking at him with this blank expression that infuriates Silva, makes Silva wonder if Villa really knows him at all, if he’s ever listened to anything Silva said.
“Because I want to be a teacher,” Silva says, and he’s grinding out the words.
Silva sits up now, pushes the sheets off him and starts to look for his boxers. “What do you mean, do I? Of course I do.”
“So come with me. Take classes in New York.”
Silva finds his boxers, pulls them on angrily. “I have to finish this semester, I already paid for it,” he says, getting more worked up the more calm Villa looks. “And I have a job, a good job, that I can’t just leave.”
Villa seems exasperated, sits up in bed, sheets tangled around his waist. “What are you going to do, Silva, stay at the bar for the rest of your life while you pass one class a semester because you’re working too hard?”
Silva’s bent over, picking up his jeans, but at that he straightens, and his head clouds with anger. “I will do what I have to do to get by!” he yells, and Villa flinches. He’s never heard Silva’s voice so loud; Silva’s not sure he’s ever heard himself that loud. “Not everyone has shit handed to them on a fucking platter, okay? I do what I have to do. I can take care of myself. And I was doing fine before-“
Villa’s voice isn’t loud; it’s the opposite, low, dangerous. “Before what?”
“Nothing,” Silva spits.
“No, say it,” Villa says, and he’s still eerily calm. “Before me, right? This is all my fault?”
Silva doesn’t answer, focuses on zipping up his jeans, and Villa continues. “Your perfect fucking life where you just went from school to work to bed and back again. What a fucking joke that is, Silva.”
And that makes Silva snap a little bit, and he sneers, “Yeah, because you had so much going on. Look at this place,” he says, gesturing with wide arms around Villa’s apartment. “It’s like a fucking museum. What kind of life did you have, Villa?”
Neither of them say anything for a long time; they just look at each other. Finally Villa says, quietly, “I’m not the one holding on to that. So.”
And Silva says, “Well, I’m not going to New York, so drop it.”
Villa does. After a moment where Silva hunts for his shirt in the quiet room, Villa says, “You don’t have to leave. Come back to bed.” But Silva’s tired of being told what to do, so instead he walks out, doesn’t look back.
Silva’s phone doesn’t ring and doesn’t ring, to the point that he wonders if it got shut off for non-payment again. But when he asks Pablo to try calling it, it works just fine. He’s just not getting any calls.
Two weeks pass and Silva figures, that’s it. He’s gone for sure. He thinks it’s probably for the best.
Now that Silva has all this free time, he gets to sleep a lot more. Many days he falls asleep on the living room couch, some awful television show on in the background to drown out the noise in his head.
He knows Pablo’s worried, has seen the look on his face like he knows something’s up but doesn’t know what to say, a mix of pity and sadness. Silva knows that Pablo knows from the way he sometimes wakes up with a blanket over him, or a glass of water on the table next to him, the way Pablo always makes extra food now and leaves it out for him, even though he only ever picks at it.
He knows Pablo’s worried, but he doesn’t have the words to reassure him, so he just sleeps.
Raul asks him if he wants to get together to study for their philosophy final. They meet at the library on a Saturday afternoon.
Raul shows up late, dark sunglasses over his eyes and a large cup of coffee in his hand. He looks happy though, smiles at Silva and spreads his stuff out over a large table in the back corner.
“How’s it going, Silva?”
“Fine,” Silva says. He’s paging through his notes from the semester, marking off all the days when he wasn’t awake enough to write anything down and hoping Raul can fill in the holes.
“How’s the bar?” Raul sips his coffee, looks uninterested in studying philosophy. It’s nice outside and Silva can’t blame him.
“Same old,” he says. It is, really; the same old customers, same old music, same old, every night, in and out.
Raul roots through his notebooks idly, looking for something to start on. “Yeah?” he asks. “And that relationship still keeping you busy?” He’s distracted when he says it, and Silva considers not answering, doesn’t know how to answer. But then Raul looks up, waiting expectantly.
“Oh,” he says. “Oh, that’s kind of over.” It’s the first time he’s said it out loud.
Raul keeps looking at him, and Silva sees pity creeping over his face. He doesn’t like it and looks away. “That sucks, man,” he says. “Did something happen, or…?”
He trails off, and Silva doesn’t know what to say; I don’t want to talk about it, or, Yes, something happened, I just don’t know what, or no, nothing happened, and that’s the problem. In the end he just says, “He got a job in New York and had to move, so,” even though that wasn’t it, not at all.
“Sucks, man,” Raul says, shaking his head. “But hey, if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen, right?”
Silva says, “Right,” but he doesn’t really believe it. He opens his philosophy book.
Silva goes to a career fair on campus. He doesn’t mean to; he just stumbles on it one day between classes and he figures it can’t hurt, that he should see what’s out there, for the future. He sees a section for schools, all the way at one end of the hall, but without thinking about it he walks the other direction, slowly, circling around, looking at everything there is, all the options he never really even thought about: architecture firms, banks, engineers, government agencies, laboratories, theaters, publishers, retail stores, photography companies. Some of the representatives catch his eye, smile, but he doesn’t stop.
He gets close to the schools. In the end though, he doesn’t talk to them, instead stands listening to a bank representative talk about loan agreements and commissions, pretends to be interested.
One day he trades shifts with Juan, works the bar during the day. It’s different; he likes it, likes that it’s so empty and he can mostly just sit, but he gets barely any tips so he knows he wouldn’t be able to do it often.
A couple hours in, in the quietest part of the afternoon, a man comes in by himself and sits at the bar, orders scotch on the rocks. Silva gets it for him and then goes back to his book. He can feel the man’s eyes on the top of his head.
Eventually he looks up, shoots the man a hesitant smile. “Can I get you anything else?”
The man shakes his head and continues to look openly at Silva. After a pause, he says, “You new here?”
Silva marks his page and sets his book down. “Nope. Usually work nights though.”
The man nods, tips his glass and looks down at it. Then he sets it down and holds out his hand. “David. Pleased to meet you.”
Silva smirks at the name and shakes his hand. David asks, “What?”
Silva’s thinking of another David, one far away, but he says, “My name’s David too. But call me Silva.”
David eyes him but nods. “So what do you do, Silva?” And, for whatever reason, Silva just starts talking, tells David how he’s been in college for a few years and how he works a lot at the bar and how he thought he wanted to be a teacher but he can’t quite remember why.
“You’re young,” David says, “It doesn’t matter if you know what you want. You probably won’t want it in five years anyway.” Silva pours him some more scotch. David studies him. “And what else?” he says.
Silva doesn’t know what he means and says so. “I mean,” he says, “You got a girlfriend?”
Silva shakes his head.
Silva ducks, shakes his head again.
Silva shrugs. “I’ve got school, I’ve got work, I can’t just…”
David scoffs. “Can’t just what? Have a life?” Silva shrugs.
And Silva says, just to get the man off his back a little, “I just broke up with someone actually.” It’s easier to say it now than it was the first time, with Raul. “So I’m just. Taking some time or whatever.”
David still looks unconvinced. “Time for what? To be away from people?” Silva doesn’t know how to answer that; he shrugs. David asks, “What happened?”
Silva gives his now standard answer. “He got a job in New York and moved.”
David nods slowly and doesn’t look at Silva when he says, “And why is that a deal breaker?”
Silva gropes for words. “I don’t- he wanted me to come, but I have- I mean. I have a life here.” David looks at him, waits. “So we fought. And, yeah. That’s it.” He doesn’t really know why he’s telling a stranger all this, but it’s nice to get it out, nice to have someone listen.
David finishes his drink, reaches for his wallet. “That’s rough,” he says finally, and Silva thinks, that’s it? David gets his money out, tells Silva it was nice to meet him.
“Silva,” he says, right before he leaves, and Silva looks up. “You seem like a smart kid,” he says. He’s pulling a jacket on. “So quit being so stupid.”
He walks out and Silva stares after him before looking at the money in front of him. There's a big tip. Silva lays his head down on the bar.
Silva thinks he sees someone who looks like Villa in the crowd of the bar on Saturday night. It isn’t the first time he’s thought that, but it’s been 2 months and he’s starting to get tired of it. Every single time, it makes his heart stutter, makes him sweat a little, and he asks Unai to cover the bar while he goes out back, gets some fresh air.
He leans against the wall of the building, looks up at the sky. He thinks about his Astronomy class, the one he’d dropped, and he wonders if he’d stayed in it, if he’d still like looking at the stars, or if the magic would be gone.
“There you are,” a voice says at his side, and then, just like that, Villa’s there. Silva stares at him. The moments tick away in silence, only broken when one of the doors to the bar open and music from inside spills over them. “Are you…” Villa starts, taking a step closer. “Are you okay?”
Silva gapes at him, says dumbly, “You’re not in New York.”
Villa holds his arms out to his sides, looks down at himself. He looks back up at Silva, shrugs. “So I’m not.” And he smiles.
“Are you… I mean… why?” Silva asks, and knows he’s still gaping.
Villa steps closer still, looks up at the sky like Silva had been doing moments before. “Turns out,” he says, and looks back at Silva, “There’s not anyone worth taking a punch for in New York,” and he’s smiling, his lip quirked, still smiling when Silva pushes off the wall and into him, presses his face into Villa’s neck.
“I don’t know if I want to be a teacher,” is the only thing he can think to say.
“No?” Villa asks, his hand coming up to stroke the back of Silva’s neck.
“That’s okay,” Villa says into Silva’s hair.
“Yeah,” Silva says.
After a moment, Villa says, “I think you’d like New York.” Silva feels him still, waiting, and Silva thinks, yeah, maybe he would.