They were lying in bed, Xabi’s head in Steven’s lap, his captain absentmindedly stroking his hair, when the question came up. "How did you know you were in love with me?“ The question earned the Liverpool captain a confused look and a suspicious smile.
"What do you mean?” The Basque accented words filled the room and the other man’s ears.
“How did you know you were in love with me? What changed that made you say, ‘I don’t just love him, I’m in love with him’.” Xabi thought back. He tried to remember when he first realized he loved Steven.
“I’ve always loved you. From the first moment we met.” A blush crept onto the English man’s face and he smiled shyly.
“Not when did you know you loved me. When did you know you were IN love with me.” Xabi thought again, and thought, and thought. He couldn’t remember when he realized he was in love with Steven. But what was the difference between loving him and being in love with him?
“I don’t know. I don’t remember. What’s the difference though?” The question earned Xabi a confused face from the other man.
“What’s the difference between what?” Xabi laughed at the confused tone his lover took on.
“The difference between loving someone and falling in love with someone?” The confused face turned to the face of concentration Xabi was so used to seeing on the pitch. Steven’s eyes scanned the area around him, like it would give him some clue to the right answer. He twiddled his thumbs and his foot started a steady rhythm of tapping. It was a miracle to see the English midfielder so concentrated and yet not stressed. It was something Xabi knew few people saw, and it was a site to see.
“I guess…” Steven started as he broke the silence. “I guess there’s not one. I guess it just feels different.” Xabi smiled up at him and gently stroked his face.
“So when did you know you were in love with me?” Steven smiled and Xabi laughed as he knew the other man was remembering the day.
“It was about 6 months after you came. I don’t remember what we were doing. Maybe taking team pictures or something, but we were all dressed up. You had this gorgeous black suit on, red and black argil socks, and the most hideous tie I had ever seen. But I didn’t say anything, because by then I had figured out how fashion conscious you were. But you walked up to me, said hello then promptly stopped the conversation Jamie and I were having. Do you remember why?” Xabi shook his head.
“You said my tie was crooked. And that it should be a Winsdor knot not a Pratt knot. And I had no idea what the meant and you laughed and told me you would have to teach me a few things about fashion while you were here. And I laughed but I didn’t say anything because all I was thinking was no matter how much you teach me it’ll never look as good as it does on you. But you still fixed my tie and all I could imagine was you fixing my tie every morning when I left, forever. I didn’t picture anyone else tying my ties but you.” Xabi smiled again, looking up into Stevens eyes.
“I remember that. You want to know why?” Steven smiled and nodded his head.
“That was the first time I ever thought you had a really nice ass.” The older man’s face turned from happy to appalled in a matter of seconds.
“Don’t look at me like that! It’s not my fault you have a nice bum."
"I’m just upset it took you 6 months to realize it!” Xabi burst out into laughter pulling Steven’s face down to his and kissing him.
“Well I think I’ve made up for the six months I didn’t realize you had a great bum, haven’t I?” Steven smiled as he kissed the younger man again.
“Definitely. More than made up for it.” Both men laughed as Steven sat back up, beginning to stroke Xabi’s hair again.
“I think I remember when I fell in love with you.” Xabi relived the day in his head. He remembered every sight, smell and sound. The way the grass felt that day and the way the sun made a thin coat of sweat form on his continuously tanning skin. He remembered the way Steven’s hair was a little messy, almost a bed head look.
“Spit it out Alonso. I’m not gonna stay this gorgeous forever.” Xabi smirked at the comment.
“Now that’s a lie.” A quick wink and then Xabi began his story.
“It was after we won in Istanbul. We’d come back to Liverpool and you and I were both tired of everyone following us around. So we snuck off and went to that little park on the corner by that coffee place that we used to like but now we hate. You know which one I’m talking about?” The older man nodded as he intently watched the younger man tell his story.
“Well, we were sitting under this big, huge tree. You said it reminded you of Liverpool because it was bigger than all the other trees in the park. You were reading some book, the Sound and the Fury maybe. And you loved it. And you didn’t want to talk to anyone all week because you thought the book was so good that you would rather read than talk. And you were reading and I said something to you, and you set the book down, smiled, leaned over, and kissed me on the temple, smiling into the kiss. You said that one day like this with me was worth a thousand Istanbul’s. All I could think was that everyday should be like this. Everyday in every month of every year should be like this. When I went home that might I ha a dream that every day was like that, and it was the greatest thing in the world. It was a momentary utopia.” Steven was staring down at Xabi, a smile plastered on his face.
"What?” Stevie grinned.
“I wasn’t reading the Sound and the Fury. I was reading Huckleberry Finn. Because you told me it was a good book. And I was determined to impress you with the fact that I read books you liked."
"I wad just impressed with the fact that you stopped reading.” Steven leaned down kissed Xabi’s head.
“I’m glad you’re so easy pleased."
"I’m not easily pleased, amor. You just know how to please me.” Both men smiled at each other.
“I don’t know the difference between loving someone and falling in love with them, all I know is I love you and I will forever.” The older man grabbed the Spaniards hand and kissed it.
“I love you too."
"Words of love are works of love.” -William R. Alger