Status: Active, updates may be very slow though, but bare with me

Shoulder to Shoulder


Over the next week or so Juan and Elena spoke near enough every day. They would meet up after Juan had training and spend the evening going to the movies or walking down by the Southbank. The football season had just started, so at the weekends, Juan was usually in different parts of the country playing for Chelsea. Although that weekend, Chelsea were playing a home match against Newcastle United. And, after searching online for a decent price, Elena had managed to get herself a ticket for the match. She hadn’t told Juan though – she wanted to surprise him after the match.

The Friday night before the match, Elena and Juan were on the phone. They’d gotten into the routine of speaking to each other on the phone every evening, even if it was only for a couple of minutes.

“Are you nervous about the match tomorrow?” she asked as she rifled through her wardrobe, trying to find something suitable to wear to the match.

“Not really,” he replied. “I feel like we’re ready, we’ve trained a lot, and everyone is feeling good.”

They spoke for a few more minutes until Juan decided to bid her goodbye; he needed rest before the game. After they hung up, Elena threw her phone onto her bed and picked out an oversized white blouse from her wardrobe. She was just holding it up to herself when her mum walked into her room.

“Ooh, what are you dressing up for?” she asked her daughter.

Elena placed the shirt on her bed and decided that it was what she wanted to wear…now she only had to find some bottoms. “Nothing, I’m meeting up with Lila tomorrow afternoon.” She lied casually to her mother. It felt weird because usually, Elena told her mum everything, but this was something new, and it felt all the more special that it was between her and Juan only.

“Oh okay then, I haven’t seen you in such a long time, it feels like you’re never around anymore.” Her mum said, taking her daughter’s hand and turning her around so they were looking at each other.

Elena instantly felt guilty, she’d barely spent any time with her family - all she’d been doing was seeing Juan. “I’m sorry mum, I’ve been working and hanging out with Lila before we both go back to Uni.” Her mother nodded understandingly, she gave Elena a hug before bidding her goodnight and leaving the room.

The next morning Elena showered and then went downstairs and began going through the kitchen cupboards. She located the eggs, flour and the milk and started whipping up a simple pancake batter. She still felt bad about what her mum said, so she was making amends – and that began with making her family breakfast. Her brother was 25 and no longer lived at home, but he usually came home every Sunday morning to see everyone.

She chopped up strawberries, and washed some raspberries and blueberries, placing them in individual bowls for people to put on their pancakes. Then, Elena turned her attention to the stove; she’d heard her parents bustling around upstairs, so she knew it was only a matter of time before they meandered downstairs. Knowing this, she began pouring the batter into the hot pan and making the pancakes.

The front door slammed closed, and she heard her brother call into the house. “Morning all!”

He came into the kitchen with 2 or 3 of the Sunday papers for our dad to read. “Hey El, you’re cooking breakfast? This is madness!” He joked, poking her in the side as he went to the fridge, no doubt looking for juice.

“Well, Dan, I thought I’d be nice and make you all some pancakes to eat. But I guess if you’re so flabbergasted, you won’t want to eat any of them then?” She asked, moving the plate of freshly cooked pancakes away from her brother. He reached out quickly and tried to grab one right off the plate, but Elena slapped the back of his hand with a wooden spoon. “Nuh-uh.” She reprimanded him.

Moments later both of her parents entered the kitchen and they both displayed the same surprise that her brother had shown. She had to admit it was rare that she was cooking breakfast for everyone and it was rarer that she was up so early in the morning!

The pancakes went down a storm and the family all sat in the lounge and watched TV for a few hours. It was nice spending time with her family, Elena didn’t realise how much she had missed the quality time with her family and she’d have to make the most of it before going back off to university.

It was around 3:30 when Elena left home for Stamford Bridge. It took around an hour and 15 minutes to get from her house across to South West London. The trip on the Tube was rather uneventful, but as she drew closer and closer to Fulham Broadway station, the number of blue shirts she could see seemed to multiply by the second.

After the various turnstiles and security checks, Elena finally made her way into the stadium and to her seat. The section in which she sat was towards the front of the Matthew Harding Lower. From her seat, she could see all across the pitch, only about 6 rows back from pitch and she looked out directly across to the dugout. As she arrived the two teams made their way onto the pitch to rapturous applause.

As usual, Neil Barnett, read out the team sheet, Newcastle first, some members of the team receiving minimal applause, others gaining a low murmurs of boos majority Chelsea fans. But when it came time to read out the Chelsea team, each name got huge cheers and many caused songs with the player’s names embedded in the lyrics to be sung. Despite coming all this way to see Juan play, Elena wasn’t even 100% sure he was in the team. She let out a sigh of relief, when second from last his name was read and she let out a loud cheer.

The match itself was very positive from a Chelsea viewpoint. The boys were dominating and Newcastle didn’t have much of a say, and 20 minutes in the Blues were awarded a penalty. Elena’s breath caught in her throat, she hated penalties. The Champions League final earlier that year had almost killed her.
The new, young player Eden Hazard stepped up to take the spot kick, and he scored! The rest of the half carried on in the same vein, Newcastle tried to force themselves back into the game, but to no avail. And on the stroke of half time Juan’s countryman and good friend Fernando Torres doubled the Blues’ lead with a delicious strike from a Hazard pass.

The second half was much more uneventful, and Juan got taken off 15 minutes into the second half for Ramires. Newcastle were unable to fight back and the game ended 2-0 to Chelsea.

Elena sent a text to Juan, letting her know that she was there. It took a few minutes for him to reply and tell her to come around to a different entrance and that she’d be let in. She did as instructed and a young guy in a Chelsea tracksuit met her and led her into a different bit of the stadium that was only for players, their guests and staff.

She waited for a minute alone before she noticed Juan walking towards her. A few other players were also making their way out of the dressing room, but she didn’t care. She jogged over to Juan and hugged him close and gave him a kiss. “Well done, you were great today!” she smiled.

He couldn’t help but feel surprised. “Thank you so much. I had no idea you were coming here today.”

“I know,” Elena touched his bicep. “It was a surprise!”

Juan asks if she wants to come back to his flat for the evening and she agrees. He tells her to wait for a second, he goes and grabs one of the other guys who was talking to Fernando Torres and brought him over. “This is Oriol, we live in the same apartment building, he lives below me.” Juan told her.

Elena shook his hand and introduced herself before Oriol spoke. “We sometimes drive to matches and training together, as we live in the same place.” He smiled warmly at her.

The three of them left and the drive back to their building took less than 10 minutes. Once they had said goodbye to Oriol, they went up one more floor and into Juan’s apartment. Elena had been there before, but not for long, usually she was just coming by to meet Juan and then they went out.

His apartment was nice, it was average sized, which was expected for Central London which was pretty pushed for space. Nicely decorated with a dark wooden décor around the lounge and dark marble design in the kitchen. It was really nice place. Juan opted to order pizza for them, and as they waited for it to arrive they sat on the sofa and began to watch old reruns of Friends on the TV.

The night passed calmly and they both fell asleep on the sofa, Elena’s head resting comfortably on Juan’s shoulder.
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Woo, I'm powering through this story - two chapters in one day!