Salem Petrov (Salem_Daiki)
I'm going to my first soccer game in 7days #KindOfExcited

Max Priest (FatherMax)
Salem_Daiki it's still called football. Welcome to England :P

Dane Crawford (D_Crawfish)
Salem_Daiki you lucky bitch . what game?

Salem Petrov (Salem_Daiki)
FatherMax f u bro :) D_Crawfish Arsenal v Manchester City

Harleen Bhattal (HarleyBhat)
Salem_Daiki you and what money? #YouLuckySwine

Text message from Kanani to Bailey
Kanani: Bailey plz plz plz dont do this 2 me
Bailey: Nani luv u know how i feel abt dogs
Kanani: how long have we been friends?
Bailey: 2 long if u srsly think i'll let u keep a dog in my house
Kanani: But u kno how i feel about Edward
Bailey: Tell me u didnt name ur dog after a twilight character
Kanani: ...no
Bailey: Yes i kno how u feel thats y i said u can move and in the meantime i wouldnt sell the dog
Bailey: o & i need a favor
Kanani: -.-

To: theghostsofsalem
Cc: rabslocket96; crawfishdane1017
From: theharleenquinzel
Subject: Getting our numbers in order
Alright, I ran through production costs and talked to Prof Mulbery to get a handle on a company who could mass produce everything until we get enough for our own facility if we get that big. We have a pretty solid 12% profit margin even if we price everything low to start out with. Go you Salem! Anyway, I put the spreadsheets for the sales projection and profits as an attachment below. Look over them, get back to me, and Dane better get started on the marketing end of things.
Harley

Arthur Bailey (ArthurBailey)
Actually really nervous/excited for this game.


The last time Salem had seen grass that green he'd been twelve, which had coincidentally been the last time he'd ever played soccer for his middle school team…or at all actually.

Arsenal's Emirates stadium in Highbury about a million miles outside Salem's basic level of comfort within the London metropolitan area, was like a whole other planet. A red planet. He felt considerably out of place as he meandered sheepishly towards will call in his usual beat up Vans, black slouch skinny jeans, and a thick MIT sweatshirt with his hair tied up in a ponytail and a pair of Aviators covering his eyes. Usually, his verging on emo attire didn't bother him, but he felt ridiculously out of place amongst the blue collar, clean cut London soccer fans converging on the stadium for their seats.

The bored teller raised his own eyebrows at Salem as he handed over a ticket, and Salem rocked back on his heels and mumbled a thank you, narrowing his eyes in a sign of discomfort behind the tinted shades of his glasses.

With a sigh, Salem turned and ducked his head, letting his overgrown bangs fall forward to obscure the view of him as if it was really Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. He followed the signs to his section and had barely stepped foot into the stadium's fresh air when he heard someone calling his name.

He paused and frowned, looking around before he spotted the slip of a figure down the stairs closest to the field. The familiar Polynesian woman waved at him, looking just as casual though no less glamorous as when Salem had first seen her at Tip Top Thai on his date with Robert weeks ago. Carefully, Salem picked his way down the stairs, reaching the same level as her at the same moment she pursed her glossy lips at him and asked, "You're Salem Petrov?"

Salem quirked an eyebrow and pushed his Aviators up, "That a problem, princess?"

"Nope," she blanched, hardly convincing. She cleared her throat awkwardly, "I'm Kanani Kapuana, Bailey's—"

"Fake girlfriend?" Salem whispered conspiratorially. Kanani narrowed her eyes on him while Salem smirked and shrugged, "I know."

"He forgot to mention you're a comedian," Kanani sniffed as she lead him into the row towards their seats.

"This from the woman who tried to hide a dog from him."

"Oh my God, it's a Cocker Spaniel not Marmaduke."

"He hates dogs."

Kanani waved a hand airily, "Whatever. It's not nearly as big a deal as he's making it. I mean, kicking me out is a little much."

Salem didn't say that since Kanani crashed there and accumulated her crap rent free, it made sense for him to put his foot down about a dog he didn't want and would undoubtedly wind up taking care of. Just like how Salem had kept his mouth shut about how he probably could use a comfort animal considering he played once a week with an away game roughly every two and had practices nearly every day albeit not for very long, the occasional team lunch, and almost no social outings. He was just alone a lot, even when Kanani was in town since she was a model through and through right down to the glamour, drinking, and almost excessive partying, an animal or a consistent roommate would be good for him.

Instead of saying all that, though, Salem joked, "You could move into my room when I move out to bigger and better things."

Kanani whipped her head around to gape at him, "Oh my God, yes! How many are they? Do they like dogs? How much is rent?"

Salem blinked at her in shock. Let's take a breath from the over-excitement train. "I was kidding."

"I wasn't."

So he'd noticed.

"I'm a great roommate. I mean, I don't have a lot of shit, don't need a lot of space, and am almost never home plus I have all this money I never use and subsist on a diet of cheese cubes and Kool-Aid."

"Tell me you're kidding."

"Of course," Kanani waved a hand before pausing and frowning, "mostly. I mean I eat like a pig so it's kind of all gorge and purge, you know?"

Sighing and squeezing the bridge of his nose, Salem stared down at the unnaturally green field, eyes trailing over the assembled players to look for Bailey. "I'm going to imagine that you're kidding for my peace of mind."

Kanani giggled and slapped his arm. Salem yelped and shot her a hassled look while she continued smiling angelically, "Happy Birthday! Yesterday, right? I love birthdays. My grandparents always throw me this big ass shindig and invite the whole family in my hometown, Pahala, it's on Hawaii—that's the island not the state, although it is a part of the state. Fun."

Salem gaped at her rambling, run-on and nodded, "For sure."

"Why are you moving out?"

"Wow, you are a topic jumper, huh?" Salem mused. Kanani sighed in annoyance while batting her eyelashes at him, and he scowled but answer reluctantly, "I just need some space. I know a guy who'll sublet me his studio in Camden for six months when he moves in with his girlfriend in January."

"You know a lot of people," Kanani frowned.

"Yep."

"In the biblical sense?"

Way to pry.

"No." Salem answered shortly, in no way interested in getting into this with Kanani. Where does 'in the biblical sense' come from? The Bible's pretty anti-getting it on if I remember correctly. He chewed on that for a minute until a sharp crack went across his head. Salem yelped again and shot a shock, outraged look to a far too innocent Kanani.

Kanani frowned at him, "Well?"

"Seriously?" He demanded. Sighing and rolling her eyes, Kanani nodded her head and waited. Salem ran his fingers through his bangs and shifted in his seat, resting his chin on his knee and wrapping an arm around the leg he'd folded to his chest. Looking away from Kanani, Salem's eyes went back to scanning the mass of Arsenal players and decided soccer fields were too damn big. Everyone looked like a spec in the ocean, just kind of getting lost. "I'm a serial dater."

"You're kidding," Kanani deadpanned, freezing with her Blk water almost at her mouth.

Who the fuck would ever buy black water for any reason? I don't care that the Manso brothers from Housewives of New Jersey endorsed it. How about no? Really, his comment had saved her from her very, very poor judgement. Black water?

He eyed her drink distrustfully as he reiterated, "Problem?"

"It's just you and Bailey—"

"Are friends," he rolled his eyes. Saying that line over and over and over again was getting old.

"Right but he's—"

"A total but justifiable manslut?"

Grimacing, Kanani shrugged, "Kinda."

"Well, we're friends…and he's temporarily off sleeping around."

"Since when?" Kanani demanded.

Salem frowned at her in confusion. Honestly, he'd expected her to have known. He realized that Bailey had some trust issues (okay, enough to make any self-respecting therapist's head spin) but Kanani seemed generally privy to most information that Bailey had. Apparently, Salem had poorer judgement than he'd thought. "Since last Friday when Caroline pulled him in to talk about discretion."

Kanani glowered to the field for a moment before promptly responding with, "That atrocious whore. No wonder he's been such a bastard."

"I still think he's gonna kick you out," Salem informed her dryly.

"Duh, yeah, I know. I just meant his attitude in general. I mean, hell, I took a job getting photographed in couture ballgowns in fucking New Zealand to get away from him. New Zealand! Can you believe that?" Kanani huffed, shaking her head while Salem frowned at her, wondering whether he should even bother commenting.

"Is something wrong with New Zealand?"

Kanani ignored his question and fumed, muttering, "I see you asshole. I see you. And you'd better get laid soon so I don't kill you…or wind up in China."

Salem frowned at her, thoroughly confused. What was wrong with New Zealand? And China? He was beginning to think that it was all Kanani. That the chick was more than a little bit crazy verging on total raging nutjob wacko that he wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole even if he'd been straight and into that kind of thing.

Wisely (if he did say so himself), Salem choose not to respond.

Eyes scanning the field, the sea of red players seemed to blend together as everyone moved onto the field, getting into position as the game prepared to start. Silence fell over the stadium, and Kanani straightened beside him, eyes zeroing onto the field with laser-like focus. In the stillness, Bailey's number popped out from amongst the throng of players, standing slightly back from the front line with a thin activewear headband in to hold back his mass of hair and dressed in head to toe red and white.

Salem's lips curved into an automatic smile as his gaze landed and lingered on the familiar man. Even from this distance, even from not seeing him in person in three months, even watching a sport that tended to bore him to tears, Bailey made his breath catch and heart pound and hands sweat and dick twitch like he was a horny fucking teenager not a 21-year-old with plenty of healthy relationships under his belt and another one he should be nurturing instead of pining over a closeted baby star soccer player with commitment issues.

Situation: fucked.


For a second, Bailey thought Carey was already drunk when he greeted Bailey by yelling out: "Mate! You were on absolute fire tonight!"

Bailey pursed his lips together and narrowed his eyes on his red-haired Irish friend before someone attacked him from behind. An arm roped around his neck and tried to force him down into a headlock, but he slipped it quickly by punching Rafa's side. Shrugging off the dark look Bailey shot him and the attempt to shrug him off, Rafa slunk back over and threw an arm around Bailey's neck while he sighed and slanted a sideways look at Rafa who grinned. "Trying to impress your girlfriend?"

Yeah, that's it. Bailey nearly rolled his eyes, but since he could hardly explain why he'd played like a recruiter was looking to take him to…well…the Premier League for his impossibly sexy gay friend, a lie was clearly better suited than the truth.

The Twelve Pins was a pre-game hangout for fans, and a post-game hangout for the team's younger members, which generally included Bailey (dragged out by Carey) and Rafa (who was nearing thirty but continued to pretend he was ten years younger than his actual age) and half of their twenty-four man roster. They came often enough that they'd basically become furniture. First, it had been a bit crazy when fans had wandered in talk and ask for autographs, now they played drinking games together and argued over the chances of other football clubs and rugby teams. One of the midfielders had even started an inner pub fantasy football team.

Ridiculous.

Carey waggled his eyebrows and leered at him, "Kanani was here, huh?"

Bailey shook his head, "That's quite enough from the two of you."

Sam, their usual bartender, smiled sympathetically at Bailey. "Just water today or you want a virgin drink?"

The immature, overgrown brats that Carey and Rafa were collapsed in a fit of giggles while Bailey sighed and nodded at the bartender with a grateful smile, "Yeah, may I have that strawberry and watermelon thing you gave me last time?"

"Sure thing, Bailey."

"And can I have a—?" Rafa started.

"You're cut off," Sam retorted, shaking his head.

Rafa gaped, "I just got here!"

Sam nodded sagely, "This is me taking preventive action."

Carey chuckled while Rafa groaned in annoyance. Shaking his head and fighting a smile, Bailey plopped himself down on a barstool, eyes scanning the crowded bar for any sign of him. His heart pounded wildly in anticipation. I feel like a fucking retarded teenager. Next thing you know, I'll be waxing poetry, doodling our names together on a notebook, and getting a couples tattoo like Irial and Crispin. Bailey scowled at his own thoughts. Their whole lives were basically a monument to their love affair.

That was some kind of sappy Bailey hoped never to emulated and knew that regardless he'd never have someone to have that with despite the fairytale romance most of the United Kingdom believed he'd been living for the year or so he'd been parading around the island with Kanani. Literally, there'd been a whole spread in one of the rags about it like living with someone who was perpetually in and out of the country was any fun let alone if they were shagging.

A ripple seemed to move through the crowd a moment before it parted like the Red Sea to let Kanani through. She hadn't bothered to change between the game and their outing, wandering in looking like a walking model for Arsenal wear in her Arsenal brand scarf, earrings, jersey, and team jacket that she'd apparently stolen from Bailey's closet. Pausing to flit her gaze between the three men, she settled on Sam with a saucy wink and a coy smile.

"Hey lover."

Sam snorted as he refilled Carey's near empty beer and slid Bailey's girlie pink drink on the counter beside him. Kanani eyed it with a single, perfectly plucked eyebrow raised. "Alright, darling, if you say so, and I'll go get you that old-fashioned, eh? Since you never drink anything else."

"I'm a simple gal."

Everyone laughed while Bailey tossed her a dry look as she slid close to him at the bar, leaning up to whisper in his ear. "You were unbelievable. Sure, you don't want to give baby boy another ride?"

Unamused, Bailey stared at her levelly, expression hard.

Taking the proffered drink from Sam, Kanani smiled innocently, "I brought him, don't worry."

"Then where––?" Bailey started tensely as a body slammed into the bar next to him. Rafa narrowed his eyes on the figure while Carey just seemed amused. The action hadn't surprised Kanani in the slightest apparently as she continued to sip her drink like nothing had happened. Whirling his head around, Bailey fought a smile at the harassed look on the Salem's face, someone (probably the too-amused Kanani) having forced him into a jersey with Bailey's name on it. Glancing over at Bailey, his jade eyes met Bailey before he huffed and shook his head.

He couldn't resist.

Bailey smiled, ignoring his friends choking on their drinks. "Interesting attire. I had no idea you were so into branding."

"Shut the fuck up," Salem said slowly, warningly even as his lips started to curl up.

"Guinness, Sam," Bailey ordered before the bartender could even ask. Sam hesitated, shooting Bailey a questioning look, but he didn't look away from Salem who smirked without looking at him and shaking his head. Throwing up his hands, Sam nodded and turned to get the order. Bailey turned and yelled, "And put it on my tab!"

"Look," Salem started, "I know I'm poor college student with no skills, but I can pay for my poison."

Bailey tugged on the end of Salem's ponytail, smiling down at him, "It's your birthday."

"Please. Way to overshadow my birthday with your awesome superman routine. How many goals did you get today?"

Blushing, Bailey shifted uneasily with a sick feeling spreading through him. He hadn't seriously upstaged Salem's birthday, right? He hadn't meant to. He'd just been doing his job, doing what he loved, playing the game he loved, the best way he knew how to play it. And showing off, he thought to himself, you can admit you were showing off, arse. You were trying to be impressive and more attractive to someone who's smart and funny and open and has way more going for him than you, and instead of impressing him, you ruined his birthday. That's really nice. Go me!

"A lot!" Carey barked out a laugh, appearing on Salem's other side while Bailey still frowned, biting the inside of his cheek and silently berating himself. Rafa frowned as he looked between them, and Salem lightly kicked his shin. "Like four. Arsehole wanted to dominate today for his lovely lady friend, right?"

Kanani sputtered, nearly spitting out her drink; Sam shot her a poisonous glare, and the model raised her hands innocently like she'd done nothing.

Right.

"Why do you still need to impress her? Its been a year." Rafa remarked.

Bailey kept his eyes trained on the toes of his Timberland boots wishing that the floor would swallow him up. The stunned disbelief radiated off Salem in waves while Kanani's disapproval was evident. She was a hopeless romantic. Her last girlfriend had doused his hallways in rose petals, bought her chocolate, and played a Luther Vandross loop for her welcome home (entirely unaware that she'd had a roommate). Good times.

"This is why your girlfriend hates you, Rafe." Kanani beamed innocently at him.

Salem ducked his head to hide his smile while Rafa's face clearly asked what the fuck she was talking about. Carey scoffed, "I thought they hated him because he can't keep his dick in his pants."

"Neither can you," Rafa shot back.

Carey nodded knowingly, "Right. But I don't actually really have girlfriends. I have dates not girlfriends so that they don't leech my money from me and expect commitment."

Stifling a laugh, Salem leaned towards Bailey, the scent of his aftershave washing over Bailey. His whole body stood at attention immediately, mind flashing back to the three days he'd spent breathing in the scent that was uniquely Salem, growing more and more delicious as the stench of marijuana had faded away. Tasted delicious too, the part of his mind that clearly hadn't a lick of common sense reminded him. Salem's hot breath whispered over his skin, "Your friends are crazy."

Bailey smiled sheepishly up at Salem, the older man cocking his head and smiling thoughtfully at him. Lust darkened his eyes, and Bailey swallowed the rising urge he had to touch Salem any way he could. Not the time. Not the place.

"I'm Carey Ahearn," Carey introduced himself to Salem who grinned and nodded. "That slag there is Rafa, Rafael Correa."

Salem nodded, "Bailey talks about you all the time."

No, I don't. Bailey shot Salem a questioning look, and Salem shrugged discreetly, nodding to Rafa and Carey who looked extremely pleased with that lie.

"I'm Salem Petrov, Bailey's friend."

Rafa raised his eyebrows, "I didn't realize you had such interesting friends. Where'd you two crazy kids meet?"

"Rio," they answered in tandem.

"So you've seen him play before?" Kanani asked curiously.

"Like that? No," Salem shook his head. "That was…I don't even like soccer, and I know that was incredible." Bailey's eyes shot up to Salem who smiled at him indulgently. He ducked his head and bit his lip while Salem leaned into his side and smiled at his friends, "Shots?"


A/N: The Twelve Pins actually is a pre-game hangout for Arsenal fans (gotta love Google) but probably not a post game hangout for the team *shrugs* research only goes so far.