I'm not a big footie fan and having been forced to sit through a game this morning I took the time to scribble this down instead of actually watching. It's only short. It was also written prior to England's first match and proves once and for all that I am not psychic.
The red and white St George's cross fluttered across the doorway and temporarily obscured Nikki's view of the woman sat pensively in front of the television screen. Not that the tall woman needed to see Helen to know exactly what she was thinking, as the screams of delight or dismay that emanated from the room were not only loud but also very instructive as to the other woman's mood. From jubilation to utter despair in the time it took to...
"GOAL!!!!!!" Nikki jumped as the scream assaulted her ears and Helen began a breathless chant of "Owen, Owen, Owen." With a deep breath and prayer for July to arrive within the next forty seconds, Nikki entered the living room she shared with her usually sensible girlfriend.
"Nikki you missed a goal!" Helen informed her gleefully and pulling on the taller woman's arm, dragged Nikki onto the couch in time to see the third repeat of Michael Owen's somewhat unspectacular goal. "3-1, can you believe it?"
"Er, no," Nikki mumbled while squinting her eyes at the screen to see which team had which number of goals. She was a little surprised to find that England were in the lead, especially as Helen had only that morning given her a twenty minute lecture on the statistical superiority of the other team, while still maintaining that their boys could surprise everyone and pull it off. Not that Nikki cared, she'd wanted to spend the afternoon in the park, watching the jubilee concert the local church had arranged. "Is it nearly finished?"
Helen's head was only inches from the screen as she leant forward to follow Beckham's charge down midfield. "Another ten minutes, fourteen with injury time." Beckham was suddenly fouled by a bullet-headed foreign player and Helen was off her seat and swearing at the television set. "Did you see that? He should be sent off, his whole team should be disqualified. It's a disgrace!"
"He doesn't look too hurt to me," Nikki replied innocently, knowing nothing about football except that it wasn't something she wanted to spend her Sunday watching.
"Isn't hurt?" Hazel eyes swung on the other woman as if she'd suddenly sprouted a second head. "They know he's been injured and they are deliberately trying to bring him down. It's a conspiracy."
"Conspiracy?" Nikki began to wonder where the Helen Stewart she'd fallen in love with had disappeared to. "Don't you think that's taking it a wee bit too far?"
"You don't understand," Helen dismissed, her eyes once again glued to the television screen.
Nikki looked towards the images of grown men running around a field chasing a ball and tried to see what all the fuss was about.
In the detached logical part of her brain she could understand the adrenaline rush and surge of testosterone associated with watching sports that could give its supporters a sense of euphoria, but she still thought it a waste of a Sunday afternoon. Not that she'd tell Helen that, at least not after last time........
On Friday evening Nikki had arrived home all excited about the prospect of seeing the jubilee concert in the park. Her own memories of the Silver jubilee were fresh in her mind and strangely poignant as they represented one of the few occasions in her childhood when she was truly happy. Bounding into the living room she'd been about to impart her excitement to Helen when she ran into the England flag draped across the doorway. "What the f..."
"Hi sweetheart." Dressing in a red and white T-shirt proclaiming 'England for gold' Helen grasped Nikki around the waist and pulled her in for a very welcome kiss. "Isn't this exciting?"
"It's certainly getting there," Nikki purred as she proceeded to place tiny kisses against Helen's collar bone.
"I'm a little worried about the Argentineans but I think we stand a good chance of making it into the next round."
Nikki stopped her kisses and stared at her partner in confusion. "Argentineans?"
"Well I know they're not the team they were but they do still pose a viable threat." Oblivious to Nikki's confusion Helen began unbuttoning her lover's shirt. "But of course there's Sweden before that."
"Sweden?" Nikki could understand Argentina being thought of as a past threat; after all we had gone to war with them less than twenty years before, but Sweden?
"Hmmm," Once again oblivious to Nikki's lack of understanding, Helen removed her shirt and took a step back to admire her lover. "Very nice." She smiled.
Nikki blushed and prepared to receive her lover's welcome touch, only to have a T-shirt thrust into her hands. "What's this?"
"Oh I noticed you didn't have one already, so when I picked up mine I got you one too." Helen's smile was at once both smug and gleeful. "Try it on."
Wondering if Helen had suddenly succumbed to a clothing fetish she was unaware of, Nikki pulled the T-shirt over her head. Looking down she was disappointed. "It's a football shirt."
"It's an England shirt," Helen corrected.
"It's a football shirt," Nikki repeated.
"Really Nikki, do try and look a little more enthusiastic, people would think you weren't excited." For Helen the idea of anyone, let alone Nikki, not being interested in football was like the Pope suddenly announcing he was converting to Judaism. "I thought we could hang a flag from the roof on match days too. So do you think you could get it up there by Sunday morning?"
"What?" Nikki hadn't been living under a rock, or even in Larkhall lately, so she knew it was the World Cup that month but she'd never in her wildest nightmares imagined it impinging on her world. "But we're out Sunday."
"Out? Don't be silly, it's Sweden on Sunday." Dismissing Nikki's claim, Helen went about setting up the other necessary items for the forthcoming World Cup. Miniature English flags were attached to the fireplace, new batteries for the television remote control were placed within easy reach and an extra little table was brought in to accommodate the icebox she would be using on the actual day to store drinks. "Do you want to invite people round, or watch the match on our own?" She finally asked Nikki.
"I can't, I'm out," the dark-haired woman repeated.
"But Nikki, it's the World Cup," Helen explained patiently, secretly fearing Nikki had metamorphosed into a non-comprehending three year old.
"So?" Nikki shrugged, her eyes taking in the red and white decorations and determined looking Scot in front of her. "Besides, you're not even English, I thought you supported Scotland?"
"Well normally yes, but they're not in it so I'm supporting England." Helen was actually sick to her stomach that her home team wouldn't be competing but after living in England for over ten years and having fallen in love with one of its people, she felt more than happy to support the English team. "Just don't tell my father."
Helen's mention of her father was accompanied by a secret smile that warmed Nikki's heart, especially as the usual reaction to the man was a sour look and misting of beautiful hazel eyes. Jonathan Stewart had not taken the news of his only child's choice of partner very well and that was even before he found out Nikki was a convicted criminal. From that moment on, things had only gotten worse between him and Helen, until finally they couldn't even bear to speak to one another. "I won't," Nikki promised, even if the request had been made in fun.
"So it's settled then, Sunday morning and early afternoon are for football," Helen proclaimed.
"Now hold on," Nikki protested. "What about the jubilee?"
"The World Cup is much more important, it only happens once every four years."
"And I suppose a Golden Jubilee pops up every fortnight, does it?" Nikki was getting angry and with her anger came the famous Wade stubborn streak.
"Er." Realising she'd kind of scored an own goal with her last comment, Helen ignored Nikki's question and began removing her England T-shirt. "You do realise that at the end of the game all the players have to swap shirts, don't you?" Helen's non sequitor drew a puzzled frown from Nikki, before brown eyes were distracted by the most welcome sight before them. "And being a true supporter I think it my duty to honour the tradition." The words had barely passed her lips when nimble fingers began slipping Nikki's T-shirt from her body. Their conversation came to an abrupt end.
Several hours later as the two lay cuddling under a blanket of red and white flags, Helen had quietly mentioned what a pity it was that they'd miss the football, after all the trouble she'd taken in arranging the decorations. Spotting the tiny pout that had assailed her lover's face, Nikki could deny her nothing. "I guess if we packed the picnic before the game and got Trish and Paula to save us a good spot, we could manage to do both."
"Are you sure?" Helen wanted to know, while inside she was doing a little jig.
"Sure I'm sure." And with those three words Nikki condemned herself to spend the next month as a football widow......
A white clad figure ran across the television screen, a ball seemingly attached by an elastic band to his feet. Yellow blurs of movement appeared to throw themselves at the boy but he merely skipped past them and drove on towards the rectangle of promise at the farthest end of the pitch. With each defender he passed Helen's hand slipped further and further up Nikki's thigh, in an unconscious gesture of excitement. For Nikki, the excitement had nothing to do with the man on the screen and when the ball finally slipped past the goal keeper and Helen nearly jumped on her lap in joy, Nikki's restraint fled and she pulled her lover in for a passionate kiss.
"Nik...football...hmmm...yes..." In the time it took for a hand to travel the length of Helen's spine and cradle her aching breast, football had ceased to have any significance in her life. "Shirt...off..." She mumbled between kisses.
"But the game's not over," Nikki whispered, her lips nibbling on an exposed earlobe.
"Sod the game Wade, I want you out of that shirt right now."
"Yes coach." With a silent reminder to watch more games with Helen, Nikki threw her shirt across the room. "Score!"
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