Title: Cornetti and Brioches in the morning
Pairing(s): David Beckham/Fredrik Ljungberg, David Beckham/others, Fredrik Ljungberg/Markus Rosenberg
Genre: RPS AU
Summary: Fredrik is a Cinderella in love with the wrong prince.
Author’s Notes: Professionalism is an AU series. It’s my take of what things would be like if these guys aren’t playing football. Have you ever thought what David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg would be if they had zero football skills? Well I did. Hence I cooked up this warp little fic. I hope you will enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the mentioned. This is purely a work of fiction, spurn by my imagination.
Four years back, I was taking orders and cleaning greasy tables at one of those British Authentic Fish and Chips diners which were invading the whole town. It wasn’t a very satisfying job but I just needed the money to buy records. I was in my last year of upper-secondary school, playing football, ice hockey and handball, going to the movies with friends, getting love letters from girls just like any other boy of 18.
It happened one day when I met the fussiest man ever in my life. He was dressed conspicuously in a sharp suit with a signet ring on his pinkie. He wanted his fish drained of oil from the fry, and he wanted his chips with ‘a slight pinch’ of salt, crispy and when I asked him what drink he would like, cola or iced water, he replied no, and took out a silver flask from his jacket pocket. I wrote down his order and brought it to the kitchen, confused as to why would such a man eat at a place like this that was absolutely ‘downgrading’.
Needless to say his order took quite some time than the average ones as he was so particular about the oil. We paper-toweled his fish, changing the paper twice when the oil seep through it thin. When I brought to him his plate of fish and chips, he was tapping his sharp leather oxfords at me, a sign of his impatience.
Without a word of gratitude he begun slicing his fish into tiny pieces quickly and squeezed the lemon onto the golden brown crumbed skin of the fish before tucking in. The other waiters were sniggering at his manners, which were a girl’s.
He was a fast eater, chewing silently. And when it came for the bill, he asked me a question that would change my life.
“Excuse me, but would you like to be a model?”
At this point, I turned my suspicions on him fully. Perhaps he is a Soviet spy? A serial kidnapper? Whatever he was, he wasn’t up to any good.
“Why don’t you think about it? Here’s my name card,” he said as he dropped a crisp piece of 50 Kronas and left immediately.
I looked at his card and read the words:
Models 1 Agency.
Just then, the nosey waitress Martina snatched the contact card from my hands and squinted at the words.
“Well, what’s this, another gay admirer?” she said snidely, Sweden is known for our very open policy on sexuality. Frankly speaking, there were a couple of guys who come into the shop to hook me up. I don’t know whether it’s supposed to be flattering, but I find it dead embarrassing. I have a homo’s face. As Jules, the dish washer puts it.
I watch Martina as she squinted at the words printed, “Model’s 1”? She shrieked, her palms came into contact with my back, hard, and I choked. Again and again, she dealt me with slaps that were tagged with different swear words.
“The lucky bastard has just been scouted and may make it big!”
“Jerry Hall is from Model 1!”
Martina kept on blubbering as I drifted off into dream land.
Well almost, his wife…
Now if I could get in touch with her, it’s as good as knowing Jagger!
Then I could meet the rest of The Stones! Think about it!
Of course, that’s a silly little fantasy of mine.
Because two months later, I packed my bags to Madrid, one of the fashion capitals of the world.
My mother was very proud. Rather of herself than me. Her boy was going to be dressed in the finest! She sent a letter to her sisters and her friends, telling them that I am going to be a model. But I had better known her intention, which was to show off to everyone that she passed her ‘ beauty genes’ to me.
My father… He wasn’t at all glad.
Picking up his cigarettes and his morning papers, he gruffly said, “One woman in the family is enough!”
Filip, my younger brother, was more interested in getting Spanish football kits.
“Get me Maradona’s please! Cruijff too!” he begged.
He must be crazy! There is no place in Madrid for Barca’s jerseys.
I made my debut on Giorgio Armani alongside another Swede, Markus Rosenberg, or rather Mark. None of the other boys believed we were Swedes because they thought ‘all Swedish people are blonde’. And then, I concluded that most models are dumb. So Swedish people are blonde but they can’t do something about their hair colour? I hate being stereotyped, like all Americans love hotdogs and all Brits drink tea and the Chinese eat anything and everything? That’s rubbish!
On that very same show, I met an acquaintance, Kaká who is Brazilian and the muse of Armani. He wasn’t like the others despite being on good terms with the designer. He wasn’t arrogant and pretentious, but rather timid and soft-spoken.
DON’T YOU KNOW? HE’S ARMANI’S NEW TOY BOY! The boy sitting next to me getting his hair done snapped.
Shrugging, I decided I had enough of his continuous bitching and slipped the earphones of my walkman in.
Many people wondered what we do before the show, and I’ll fill you in. Well, we basically arrive at the venue pretty early, maybe 5 hours? The make-up artist and the hair stylist pass us around each other, and- okay you can gasp, but we actually mess around, it depends on whose show you were doing. Giorgio was pretty relaxing and we got to dribble the ball around while waiting for our turn with the fitting of the clothes before getting a quick Polaroid shot of each individual then, the show starts.
Some of the other older models were smirking at us, giving their friends snide glances under their half-lidded eyes as the artist does their brows and lashes.
I heard a lot of stories about the fashion industry before I left home, and most of it weren’t very nice. Basically, they all say the industry is nasty and if you want things served to you in a silver platter, you got to claw and fight your way for it.
It’s not me, I don’t do such things just to get my way. I don’t have to get things my way.
I can be myself.
I can’t change just because the environment around me demands.
I won’t, lose myself.
The words are in my head, in the morning when I wake up, before I start a show, at night before I sleep and times when I wanted to scream so badly. It really works.
Perhaps once there was a time where the mantra broke.
If there was a vision of the perfect man, maybe David Beckham is the answer.
Apparently, according to Kaká, David has been the ‘It’ boy for the last two years. He had scores of contracts and was the face of many campaigns, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Versace… You name it, he has graced their catwalks and was shot in their clothes in ads. Between whispers, others say he was even offered a million to escort some American Actress to an award show.
… DAVID IS A GIGOLO! Someone hissed under his breath.
Ah...Jealousy. It’s always common when you’re on the top. Many people would think of a million ways to bring you down.
YOU KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF HIM! A model called Michael snapped at me, when I was caught looking at David.
Yes, I remembered, it was Kaká who introduced us. But we didn’t exactly hit of particularly well or so because it was so brief. David was the kind of person at the party, whom you would say ‘hi’ he would shake your hand limply, his eyes would rover about as he was not interested and the next moment you’d know, he would flit to the next person he has his eyes on.
I was not very captivating, and I didn’t have enough charm to mingle long with him. So he took his champagne glass and left.
It wasn’t till a month later when I met David again. By that time I was a regular for Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabanna, flying back and forth from Milan and New York. Markus my fellow Swede and I room together now; he too was a regular walker for CK and D&G.
CK has just launched a new fragrance and being their ‘employees’, we were invited to the cocktail party, at a new museum celebrating minimalism- you know how Calvin Klein is… Markus was taken ill that day and decide to spend the night in his bunk sleeping. I arrived alone at the venue, in my casuals. Jeans and another one of my many concert tees.
I sure stood up (like a sore thumb) among the sea of ladies dressed to kill and men in their smooth suits. Gosh, even the waiters looks tons better than me. Feeling out of place and with no one to talk to, I slid into the corner near the exit trying to make my wine last as long as it could. I didn’t want to go back to the table and get stares.
Then, the exit door open from behind, and I jumped a little in my Pumas, the smell of cigarettes drifted in with the cool evening breeze and someone tapped my shoulders.
“Got a light?” the stranger asked. The overpowering smell of his cologne hit me. Spicy and minty.
“Sorry, I don’t smoke,” I shook my head and apologies. The dim light of the museum affected my sight of the stranger, but I could catch a glimpse of his smile.
“It’s alright, just thought you might have it on you.” I smile a bit. It’s my hair. I got it dyed a dark brown and then highlighted a red fin across it. I loved it. It was a reminiscent of Sid Vicious. Flip side of the style was that many people assumed I was a skinhead and thus the whole smoking, swearing, shooting up persona comes in. What did I say about being generalized?
“May I have a swig of that?” his finger pointed at my glass.
“Mighty cold out there,” he commented as I passed him my drink.
What was I doing? I usually didn’t share my drinks with others. I have a certain thing about saliva consciousness.
Maybe I was lonely...
Maybe I just needed someone…
Or maybe it was the scent he wore, that drugged, whatever the lure was, it was obvious he has quite a way with women and men.
“I know this isn’t Rome, but have you been biking around the city at night?’ he asked, swiping away the moistness of his lips.
“No, I uh- I take the bus, then I walk…” I replied lamely, and wanted to slap myself silly for putting myself in a way dorks do.
The stranger let out a little laugh and pulled out something from his pocket; it was jingling in his hands, like spare change.
“Come on then,” he cajoled me, taking my arm in his leather clad one.
We got out of the stuffy place as he held me by my wrist, leading us to a screaming red Vespa.
“A friend loaned it to me when I got to the city,” he explained, handing me a helmet. He crossed his long leg over to the other side and started the scooter.
“You ready, mate?” he turned around and through the lens of his goggles; I could see the same startling Hazel eyes that jolted every woman in magazine pages. I gasp, wondering if it was part to my drunkenness that I see him, David Beckham- the supermodel!
“Hold on tight,” he warned as he kick start the accelerator, My hands were firmly planted on the metal that handle that supports the spare wheel at the back of me.
“Your first time in Milan?” he asked over the roar of the traffic.
“By the way, I haven’t got your name yet!”
“Fredrik!” I shouted over the gust of wind that blew against us when we rode.
“Freddie? May I?” He couldn’t recognize me. He couldn’t remember that I was the rookie boy in Mr.Armani’s show that Kaká introduced. Then again, why should he? I was nobody and he had many other names in his mind.
He turned to face me just as I was to nod my head to his question and our helmets clashed, the sound, an endless ringing in my head, throbbing badly along with the alcohol’s effect.
“I’m sorry!” my voice was barely recognizable as I let out a tiny squeak.
“I’m David,” he laughed again, “is your head fine?”
“Yes it is!”
Eleven, and the roads were not as busy, we were speeding down the asphalt, zipping in and out of the lanes, passing by the many grand boulevards and magnificent cathedrals, screaming out heads off into the cold night air. We forgot time, we forgot where we were and I forgot where I lived- the model agency’s apartment.
“You don’t have a curfew do you?” David asked as he pulled up in front of a low, stoic grey building. I bit my lip trying to register his words. But I gave up, my brain clearly wasn’t thinking after being sloshed, I am one who doesn’t hold drinks too well and that has become a joke among friends.
“Let’s get you inside shall we?’ his eyes glint with cheekiness as he winked. The blood rush to my head just got faster and faster, my heart in sync, the rhythm in speed of a death metal band. We walked up two floors, but it felt like ten, because my feet were heavy with weariness and my head was woozy from the slight concussion earlier. David was going on about the house, I could make out the words ‘friend’s’, ‘duplex’ and ‘nobody’ weaving them into an interpretation on my own.
By now, my legs were jelly and I leaned onto his sturdy frame as he went through his leather jacket for his keys. I was making all sorts of weird noises, and I wasn’t aware of it myself till the next morning. But David told me I sounded ‘just like a cat who wants some milk’.
Well, maybe I did sound like desperate kitty because ten minutes later after a lot of groping and tender little kisses on certain erogenous zones, triggering a full-blown lust, the crave for the sense of touch. Soon, the next thing I knew we were on the leather couch, hips thrusting, bodies breeching, grinding our freed erections against one another. My headache just got worse, the pain was swelling beyond control and it was starting to get numb when David got his lips around the head of my cock, the pressure of his tongue running and licking the slit was enough to start a brain hemorrhage.
“Stop it!” I pleaded. I was going up in flames in any minute from now.
Looking insulted, his eyes turn up at me. “Why?” He got it wrong. I didn’t mean that.
“Please, do me.” I begged, wishing for him to be on the same track as I was.
I never did talk much especially when breath was drawn away from my lungs.
“I- I want you to feel…” The euphoria was better than the first and only time I did coke in a club back home.
We are demanding, young and impatient.
Never keep someone waiting. It’s rude.
Seems like David knows his manners! Because he didn’t beat around the bush, but was always got to the point, was never selfish but instead put other’s pleasure before his, like the boy all mothers wanted as a son, David certainly didn’t waste natural resources and was a great help at cleaning up.
I woke up to the smell of vanilla, strong, sweet and warm, Cornetti and Brioches! Markus and I always eat them because they are always available from the bakery when we sleep in.
“A cuppa for you?”
Delighted, I was. Nobody has ever served me breakfast in bed before. Not even my mother when I was sick in bed. For someone to do such a thing for me, he has to be the one.
“The one, Ljungberg, is the one who will hold your hand through rain or shine, okay, maybe not so, because he will be holding the umbrella when the rain comes pouring. ” Martina stated, squeezing the dish rag dry.
“That’s all?” Jules snorted.
“The one also loves you unconditionally-“
“Whoa! Big word huh!”
“Shut up will you!” She sprinkled some water at him. “I’m trying to tell the boy here who is THE ONE!”
“So, the one also loves you unconditionally even when you’re old, white and wrinkly. He will go to the ends of the earth… just for- you.” She paused, trying to be dramatic, batting her eyes as if she was on camera.
Jules sniggered and the other boys laughed out loud.
“What a pretty picture you paint, Martina!” they whistled.
“Straight out of a romance novel! You certainly have been reading!” Simone ducked just in time when the sponge came flying in his direction.
Funny how easily contented I could get. My friends say I’m a fool. What is a fool? Someone who got a nibble of the cake and declared it the best he ever had and then, doesn’t fight for the whole slice.
We went out for a couple of months. I’m mainly based in Milan and David is everywhere. We talk on the phone but it was expensive. Time is expensive. Then, we rarely got to see each other. Soon, he was hounded by the Americans. They are absolutely crazy about him. He gets tons of letters from girls contemplating suicide if he wouldn’t see them.
He was on NBC’s morning show, performing a skit on Saturday Night Live and hosted MTV. It was inevitable that he would soon settle down in Tinseltown. The ladies of the silver screen adored him; their husbands traded style tips with him. He was everyone’s best friend.
Then, I saw it coming.
“We can’t go on anymore,” he said. Just like the lead in the any Box Office film would to his girlfriend before he left her to ‘save the world’.
Could I say ‘no’?
I must be insane because I did.
“If you love him, let him go…”
It’s a soap opera, my life. And I hate soaps because all the channels are just full of never-ending sagas that reduce me to tears- of boredom whenever I’m alone in our Milan apartment.
That happened two months ago. Everything around me is silence. The phone doesn’t ring now. People talk to me, but I can’t seem to hear what they are talking about. I get letters, but they weren’t from him.
I miss him.
So much, every time I closed my eyes, I saw the two of us on the scooter, riding down the streets of Milan.
We went our own separate ways. David spent most of his time being filmed and I was working my butt off to become a regular in Boss, Gucci, Gaultier and Calvin Klein. I was climbing up the rankings with Markus and the numbers on our paycheck extended.
A stroke of luck!
New product launches, advertising campaigns, the new season’s collection gala premier, these are all opportunity points in a model’s career. You know how every designer has a muse or maybe what you call an inspiration? Calvin Klein spotted me after his runway in New York Fashion week.
“I’ve never seen you before,” he commented.
“Are you new?”
“Yes and no Mr. Klein, I’ve been here for more than year now.”
“What’s your name,” my mouth runs dry, I’ve never been able to hold someone’s attention, and now one of America’s biggest names is interested.
“Swedish,” I declared proudly; British models are monopolizing the trade. Elizabeth Hurley. Kate Moss. Jodie Kidd. Naomi Campbell.
He let out a chuckle and I felt like I had played myself like the fool I was.
I can never seem to choose the right words to say what I mean.
“I like you Swedes! There’s an air of freedom about your country!” he exclaimed.
“Sexual freedom,” OH! My mouth couldn’t help it. He laughed at me.
“Free,” Mr. Klein went on, “from all inhibitions.” A waiter offered us a platter of Carr’s with pâté, a very popular finger food served during receptions at all shows.
“And that’s what CK is about, can I say an attitude that says ‘I don’t give a shit’, pardon me.”
“It’s alright, Sir.”
“Ah… you Europeans and your manners. Just call me Calvin.” He crunched on the olive of his martini.
“So where was I? Yes, Fredrik, we would like you to come aboard and be the next face. You’re going to be Helen of Troy, Fredrik, your face will launch a thousand sales!"
“What do you think?”
“I do like it,” Truth is, I just didn’t care anymore, actually. Lately, walking down the shows is like taking a trip to the doctors- a heart of dread and uncertainty.
You know how happiness is short-lived? I had the papers delivered to my front steps the next day with David hogging the headlines again.
So he’s engaged to the pop-princess Victoria Adams.
It was barely one month since our split and he is engaged.
I can’t put a finger to what this means. I don’t want to think about it.
The papers never reached Markus that day because I tossed it out of our apartment.
A week later I was in their studio doing a shot for their famed tight whities. Then, the negatives were developed and sent for printing. They called me to go down and view the pictures. But I didn’t want to go out, so I declined politely and hung up the call. Is there a point in seeing the finishing when you were involved in the process?
“Freddie,” someone called me from behind. It could only be Markus. Since we were the only two in the house.
“What’s wrong with you?” he queried, his eyes shone with concern. His arms were by the side of his pajamas- consisting of an old worn out K-Swiss shirt.
“Nothing’s wrong.” The call woke me up from a rare Saturday where I could sleep in and that irked me. And now, Markus is looking at me with his big eyes, imploring.
“You haven’t been much of yourself lately, I’m just worried. That’s all.”
“Well, you can stop worrying now. I’m the new face of Calvin Klein.” I gritted my teeth. Why can’t he just go back to sleep, or eat his Cornetti and Brioches? Why can’t he just go be himself? I’m sick of it.
Can’t anyone see that I’m not? Yet they still ask when they know the answer in their heads. They are on tip-toes around me, fussing and treating me with extreme caution. I hate it. I just want to be treated just like I was before I left home.
I walked towards my room without a word and he calls my name again.
“Freddie! Please!” his hand is on my arm, pulling me, then, the unfamiliar but warmth feeling started to spread when his arms circle my waist. I can feel his head between my shoulder blades, resting.
I don’t know if anger dissipates by melting, because it’s a fire.
This whole while, these few months, the black hole within me, the void that David left was replaced with negativity that was slowly eating me away. I hardly recognize myself.
Where was the teenager who worked at that damned Fish & Chips diner? The waiter who had gay customers stalking him? The punk with the dyed black hair and the red fin whom everyone knows as ‘Sid’? The boy who had an objecting father, a doting mother and a pesky little brother- the boy who had a family?
I went out less frequently, I spend my time coop up with the feeling that David gave me, I thought he made me the most special person on earth. I’m the one whom he serves, whom he feeds Cornetti and Brioches to by hand, the one who wakes up with aromatic coffee brewed with his love and time.
“I always love you, since the moment we crossed paths at the agency,” Markus whispered.
“I wanted to be roomed with you, I kept my fingers crossed and you were my roomie!”
“Everything was going my way, and then David came.” He continued confessing, his eyes drooping in spirit.
“I thought God must be screwing me up, first he gives you to me and then he snatches you away from me.”
“That morning when I woke up I went to the living room and I see David, and I know what had happened. It broke my heart.” ‘my heart’, the way he said it sounds like it was made of paper, flimsy, light, easily crushed and blown away by the wind.
Was I capable of wrenching anyone’s heart?
Did I hurt him that bad?
My head goes through the moments I had with David. The morning we first woke up together. Coffee. Cornetti and Brioches! It hit my head.
“Markus,” I pried his fingers off my waist and held them in my hands, firmly.
“The Cornetti and Brioches, did you buy them or did David get them himself?”
I want to know. The truth.
Markus kept his silence, and I waited patiently.
“You don’t have to speak for him,” the truth came to light. “I know.”
David can’t even pronounce Cotoletta alla Milanese when he takes me out for a date, let alone Cornetti and Brioche.
What was I thinking?
How could I be fooled?
David hated sugars; he hated eating them because they ruin his physique. He doesn’t even take coffee because the caffeine slows down his metabolism and turns his teeth yellow. He’s a total health freak.
End of debate- he IS a FREAK. And I am a freak for loving one.
“I’ve been so stupid,” I told Markus, “are you sure you love me?”
He nods his blonde head sincerely. “I really do.” He hugs me again, clinging on, afraid that I would leave him.
I may not love him as much as he loves me in return now but I know I will love him more as the days pass.
It takes two hands to clap.
Watching Björn Borg on television, I found out that love has to be exchanged to be experienced; it’s a give and take thing. Like a tennis match- we serve to start a game and return the serve to continue play.
“What you waiting for? The Cornetti and Brioches are going to run out fast!” I take his hand in mine and we walked to the nearest deli, never letting each other go.