A/N: Hey... So it's been a while... yeah. I won't say anything about my other stories, cause I don't really want to say anything about them at the moment. This update is about THIS story. Thanks for reading! I hope you like it...
Soccer Terms You Might Find Useful While Reading
Chelsea FC: Soccer (football) club in the southwest of London England - colours are blue and white (at home).
Stamford Bridge: Home stadium to Chelsea.
Everton FC: The other soccer team from Liverpool England.
Real Madrid CF: Soccer club in Madrid, Spain.
Box: Is the area about 18 meters from the goal in a box shape (obviously).
Cross: When a player kicks the ball into the box in hope that a team mate will get it and score. Or... a fancy name for a pass into the box.
English Premier League: The top league of professional teams in England. Teams include Chelsea, Everton, Manchester United, Liverpool...
4th Official: Referee on the sidelines that manages player substitutions and informs teams of added time
Added Time: The clock doesn't stop in soccer, so if a player is injured, or if there are any delays in playing, the Main Official (referee) will just add on minutes at the end of the first half (45 minutes) and the end of the game (90 minutes)
To Chelsea With Love
The noise in the stadium rose substantially as players from the home side of Chelsea Football Club walked out of the Stamford Bridge tunnel along side their opposition for the match, Everton. Annie almost covered her ears as the Everton crowd, more specifically the men immediately surrounding her, broke out into crude chants about a certain Chelsea player, but she didn't want to stick out too much even though she had a Real Madrid soccer scarf around her neck and a lack of Everton coloured clothing. The father and son next to her already used up their amount of socially acceptable eye rolls before it was deemed rude, for all they know, she really could have been an Everton supporter. One very lost and confused Everton supporter. Annie, however, was not. She wasn't even a Chelsea supporter, though they were the main reason for why she was in London.
The cold air whipped around the pitch and Annie wrapped her scarf tighter to block out the wind. Everyone had sat down, but not quieted down, for the beginning of the game. Everton began with the ball but possession was immediately taken away by the Chelsea side. The father next to her shouted out some profanities that she was certain her father or any suitable father would never shout out in front of their son, but Annie was even more shocked when the son agreed and responded with his own profane cheer. She had never seen a father look more proud.
From her past experiences with soccer games, she remembered the basics, but this atmosphere was completely and totally different than she had last witnessed. This was so far from rainy Saturday mornings on the sidelines of a soccer field in the middle of some neighbourhood park. She had an actual seat instead of a folding, lawn chair that sat in the back of her car all week for the once or twice it was used over the weekends. People were cheering! And the speed! She had no idea humans could run that fast. She had no idea he could run that fast. That is if her suspicions were right and he was number 5 in the Chelsea blue.
Her suspicions were confirmed as soon has he touched the ball. The Chelsea supporters cheered, "He's young, he's blue, he can more score goals than you! Mike Davis! Mike Davis!" in perfect synchronization that made Annie believe this was not the first time they had sung it. She had to laugh when his face came up on the big screen in a replay. He was exactly as she had remembered minus his charming boyhood innocence. Michael Davis had definitely grown up since she had last seen him.
Her daydreams were cut short when she was jostled into standing by the surrounding fans. Apparently Everton had just missed a chance to score and the father and son duo were spouting off obscenities at the referee for not calling a penalty. And no less than a minute later when the Everton defense was down, did she see number 5 make a run inside the box, catch a cross and send it across the goal line. 1-0 Chelsea.
Annie managed to control her growing smile and only clapped once in fear of being attacked by the Everton fans all around her. There was a resurge of the Mike Davis chant from the supporters across in the HOME section. Only now was she thinking that she might have felt more at home and safer over there.
Although Annie had very little knowledge of the English Premier League, even she could see that Everton never stood a chance against a team like Chelsea. After the initial chance in the first five minutes, Everton never seemed to gain any ground in the game. Right before half time, Chelsea was up 2-0 and the crowd, from either side, was all over Michael Davis.
The second half only got worse for Everton fans and just as the 4th official held up the sign for 2 minutes of added time, Chelsea was up 4-0. Once again, with Annie's little knowledge, she knew it was a sound trouncing. The game ended with the wind knocked out of the Everton supporter's sails, but she clapped along with them as they cheered their team on even in defeat.
But now came the end of Annie's plan. She had found out which team Michael played for, which wasn't exactly difficult since he was the hometown hero for making it big. She booked a flight to London, got a hotel and tickets to the game, all of which just proved that she had too much money kicking around her account to make such a spontaneous trip. Now that the game was over, she had to figure out a way to talk to him. She had everything in her speech planned out. She'd tell him how sorry she was, how success meant nothing without him, how she should have believed in them…
All Annie had to do was actually get herself into a situation where she could talk to him. She had managed to track down the number to Stamford Bridge the night before, and after figuring out how to dial a local number she spoke to a rather snooty customer representative that said under no circumstances could she have a player's number, no matter what her relationship was with said player. However, this was all after Annie was informed that "Shelia" didn't have that kind of information and Annie caused her to say such things because she didn't believe her. It actually turned into a defiant act on Shelia's part by her really saying that even if she did have his number, she wouldn't give it to Annie. Apparently, she didn't gain any sympathy for Shelia, but Annie knew she didn't deserve any.
The stadium emptied out rather quickly, beer was considerably cheaper in the bars near by for drunken celebrations. Annie stayed in her seat and flipped through her program looking at all of Michael's printed stats. He was apparently very good. She was in the middle of reading about his childhood (which she already knew by heart) when an usher coughed from beside her.
"Miss? You have to leave now, I need to clean the area."
Annie stood up flustered and turned beat red from embarrassment. "Right, I'm sorry. I'll leave."
She straightened her coat, checked her pockets and began to climb the steps to the nearest exit.
"I want my scarf back."
Annie lost her footing on the last step before the corridor. She was the furthest thing from graceful and the voice that caused her to stumble did not make another comment yet waited for her to reply. Her heart quickened as she saw him standing on the touchline closest to the section in a perfectly tailored suit with a Chelsea blue tie. This was her chance.
"I…ah," she managed before she smiled sheepishly. "Hey."
Michael's head slumped and she was hoping that he was trying to hide a smile. He wasn't. When he looked up at her again, even from her distance she could tell he fighting something a lot more hateful than a smile.
"Why are you here, Annie?"
Annie almost started into her prepared speech, but noticed the usher that had cleared her out earlier was sitting in a chair nearby in complete awe of their conversation. Well, probably not so much their conversation but Michael Davis standing right there. She decided against pouring her heart out in front of some stranger.
"Can we maybe go somewhere and talk?"
Michael sighed, loud enough for her to hear, and spun around on the spot. He looked back up at her.
"Four Seasons lounge in Chelsea, ten minutes up the road. Eleven o'clock."
He walked back to the tunnel without another word and without looking back. It took everything Annie had to hold herself together. She had no idea that he could or would still hate her. No one holds a grudge for three years; it was unheard of, even if she possibly broke his heart.
The usher starred at her from where she sat on the top step. "Yeah, I know, I know. 'I've got to clean up the area'," she mocked whipping a few stray tears off her cheeks. Annie didn't wait for a response from the clearly speechless usher before she walked up the final step into the empty stadium corridor.
The contents of her luggage were strewn across her hotel room before Annie finally decided that she had nothing to wear. If she were meeting Michael for a business lunch or a power briefing – she had every outfit for the occasion. But an I'm-sorry-please-give-me-another-chance-because-I-think-I might-still-be-in-love-with-you outfit was not among the many clothes she had brought. Though, she didn't really know what she was looking for. She wasn't too sure how many girls had gone through the same situation she had – the whole story of boy falls for his female best friend, but she selfishly rejects him because his life wasn't perfect. Well, not her idea of perfect anyways.
In the end, Annie went shopping for her Meeting Michael dress (it had to be a dress) and was waiting in the Four Seasons Lounge at a quarter to eleven. A respectable time for one who doesn't want to seem desperate, but in reality left too early from ones hotel in fear of not being able to find the specified location. At ten after eleven, Annie began to worry. Maybe she got the time wrong? Maybe she was in the wrong place? But then when her watch ticked to eleven-thirty she was just pissed off and when he came walking coolly through the door five minutes after that, her anger melted away.
Michael spotted her immediately and walked over to the table that she had been defending for the last forty-five minutes. He nodded at her as he sat down and flagged down the waiter to order some carbonated water, he then turned his full attention on her.
"I don't understand why we needed to speak when you could have just given me my scarf after the game," he said.
"I – ah – I think we, well I think I should talk," was Annie's response.
Michael leaned back in his chair and gave her a look that told her to continue. It also told her that this better be worth it.
"I'm sorry. You actually have no idea how much I am. I was young and stupid and you were one of my best friends! I had no idea about how you felt until you told me."
Michael took a sip of his water, completely unfazed.
"I didn't realize this until you left. It was about a month after you moved here, and I was going crazy, no one ever got me like you did and now we weren't speaking, I honestly must have cried for three days out of frustration or anger that you were so selfish to ruin our friendship and move away. But then I realized, I was frustrated because I didn't want just a friendship with you and I was really angry with myself. You were the one that got away. You are the one that got away."
He sat up, and Annie met his eyes. Michael leaned forward to wrap both hands around his glass. "You do realize how cliché you sound and that you've had three years to work up something better than that."
Annie almost smiled. "It's all I've got."
"That and my scarf." He tilted his head.
Annie reached for her purse and pulled out the Real Madrid scarf she had stashed in there. "It's almost become more of my trademark than yours."
Michael did smile, or smirk, at this. "I doubt that."
There was an almost comfortable silence between the two of them.
"I never stopped," Michael finally said.
Annie nearly died. "What? Stopped what?"
He looked around the room quickly and then back at her. "You know what."
Annie's hand tightened around the scarf that lay on the table between them. "I can't say that I never started until you left."
"But we're here now," Michael sighed. "And you've come two years too late."
Her heart shattered. "I would spend the rest of my life apologizing if there were any chance you'd forgive me."
Michael rolled his eyes and leant back, but then sat up again. "I've already forgiven you. Can't you see that? I forgave you the moment I saw you in the crowd of Everton fans looking just as out of place as you always did. And I fell even more for you when I saw this scarf." He prodded it with his finger.
"Then why -?" Annie tried but Michael stopped her. He gave her the saddest look she had seen in years.
"Because you're too late, Annie. I have a wife and my first child's on the way."
Annie swayed in her seat. "Michael...I… – but I love you."
He closed his eyes briefly and opened them so she could see his tears brimming. He suddenly shot back the rest of his water and stood up. She looked up, her own tears falling, as he stood over her. Michael kissed the top of her head and she jumped into his arms for a hug that was far too late to lead to anything.
"I have always and will always love you, Annie," he spoke in her ear before pulling away entirely. "I'll see you around."
And he left, without his scarf and without looking back.