Disclaimer: This is not a Twilight fanfiction.

Well, hello there!

I have ventured into a new realm with my writing. It's a story about sacrifice, about love, and it's based on real events but taking a lot of liberties with it. You may or may not recognize some of the characters, but hopefully, whether you do or not won't affect how you feel about the story.

For those of you taking this adventure with me, this story is completely written, consists of 29 chapters which are being edited, and I will post on Saturdays.

Packy is my partner in crime, but this isn't betad, so all mistakes are mine.

Enjoy!

Ronnie.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Chapter 1.

They lost.

He's sitting on the turf, head on his hands while they pull at his hair.

My stomach twists inside of me. He is not one to take defeats easily. I know how much this means to him. Approaching him tentatively, I lower myself into a crouch next to him. My hand reaches for the back of his head, my fingers run in his soaked hair.

"Not now, CeeCee." Even though his head is down, and his hands shield his face, he knows it's me. In spite of his use of my standard nickname, there is nothing loving about his tone — he is pissed.

"You did your best, Mats." I still try to comfort him. "Don't beat yourself up over it."

When he lifts his head, I know I've done something wrong. The anger emanating from his eyes makes me drop my hand at once.

"My best?! That was clearly NOT my best." He is seething, panting harshly as he glares at me.

I notice the bruise that's starting to form in his cheekbone from where he clashed heads with one of the other team's players. "Are you okay?" I reach for his face, trying to help him in any way that I can, but he flinches away from me.

I sigh, dropping my hand again and he replies with a groan, lowering his head back onto his arms.

As Mats retreats to his shell, I notice the shape a few yards away from us: Lukasz Piszczek, Mats' teammate and friend. He stands with his hands on his hips and still noticeably panting.

Mats was not the only one to work hard on this game.

When our eyes meet, Lukasz looks down.

My eyes search the rest of the field. It's just the three of us since everyone else has retreated to the locker rooms.

I wonder why Lukasz is still out here.

My eyes make it back to him, and he sends me an apologetic glance — he knows Mats is being an asshole.

"Are you okay?" I mouth the words. He still pants profusely, so I worry.

He nods his answer and his hand stretches, pointing a finger in my direction. "You?"

The exchange is quick and somehow awkward. I've known Lukasz for as long as I've known Mats, but we've never been close. He has always kept to himself.

I glance back at Mats, placing a hand on his arm, but he gets up suddenly and a little too quickly, making me fall on my ass.

"I need a moment, okay?" His voice is sharp and clipped, straining with the effort of not losing it. I know him — This is him trying not to be more of an ass than he's already been.

We've been together for four years, Mats and I. He's impulsive, sometimes explosive, but he has a good heart.

I still look at him, astonished as he walks past me — my mouth hanging open and my ass still planted on the turf. He storms off the field without another word and not even a glance back in my direction.

I wipe my hands on my jeans to get rid of the dirt as I get up. I'm a bit embarrassed by Mats' outburst but luckily, when I turn to Lukasz, I notice he's now facing the opposite direction, both hands on top of his head.

This has been a difficult season for Mats, I tell myself. The harsh criticism he received after the last European tournament affected him in the worst possible way, and he hasn't been the same since. He's under the overwhelming impression that he has to be flawless now, but that is obviously too much to ask, even for Mats. His overthinking of every play has taken a toll on his game, on his confidence, and especially on his mood.

I try not to think too much about it. I've tried to be as understanding as I can possibly be, but at the end of the day, him treating me this way hurts. Especially since I'm sitting on this bench — on a Saturday afternoon in Dortmund — alone, instead of studying for my finals back in Dusseldorf.

Lukasz walks by me on his way to the showers, and when I look up, his eyes are on me. He gives me a sheepish smile, halting briefly in front of me, but with a shake of his head, he keeps going into the tunnel.

A few seconds later he's out again though, and walks back closer to me.

I peek at him in confusion. We've never really interacted before. Nothing more than the usual greeting each other during a team's event. He keeps to himself most times, and even though he and Mats are very close, I've always felt like he doesn't like me.

Lukasz stalls in front of me, a hand scratching the back of his head. He opens and closes his mouth a couple times, until he finally sits next to me.

"I'm sorry," he says, looking down at his hands. I can feel the warmth emanating from him.

"What are you sorry about?"

"He really shouldn't treat you that way." Apologies swirl in the blue of his eyes as they meet mine.

I'm a little taken aback by his words. I was hoping he had not noticed Mats' little outburst. I feel a bit embarrassed now, insulted, defensive... "He's frustrated. He must be exhausted and-"

"So am I," he interrupts. "But you don't see me yelling at you."

"I know, but-"

"Don't make up excuses for him, Cecilia." His voice wraps around my name with sincerity. He feels strongly about this. I've never had him address me like this before. "It's not right."

I glance back at him, I can't help but feel judged. "I don't see how this pertains to you," I add a little defensively.

"That was appalling to watch," He counters with a frown. "I felt like I needed to say something."

"And now you have... so?" I cross my arms in front of me.

"Right..." He runs his hands on his thighs a couple times before getting up. "I shouldn't have said anything. I'm sorry."

His apologetic expression is so genuine, it disarms me. I know I shouldn't be upset with him. He's done nothing but try to be nice to me, and here I am being nothing but a bitch to him.

"Lukasz?" I call behind him as he is about to re-enter the tunnel.

He turns his head in my direction.

"Thank you," I say.

He grins briefly again with a nod, before retreating into the tunnel.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Later that day, we're at a sponsor's dinner. I sit at our table, surrounded by a couple of Mats' teammates, but feeling completely alone. On one side, I have Marcel and Kayla — all smiles and giggles. On the other side, Robert and Ania struggle to keep their hands off each other.

I can see Mats from where I'm sitting. He's at the pool table, with Mario and Marco. They seem to be having fun and he seems to have relaxed a bit. Probably the alcohol he has ingested has helped a bit too.

Lost in thought and half way through the song is when I realize everyone has left the table and are now on the dance floor.

I twirl the straw in my drink wearily, wishing we'd go home soon.

"So... no dancing?" His voice takes me by surprise.

Lukasz sits next to me, the collar of his shirt opened. His tie is a little loose and a small grin lights up his features.

"No. Mats doesn't dance," I respond matter-of-factly.

"Would you like to?"

"Well, yeah..." I snort. "But you try getting Mats to do something he doesn't like to do."

I love dancing. It's one of the things I miss the most.

He sighs into his drink before he turns to look at me. "I meant would you like to dance... right now... with me?"

His eyes are so blue, I lose track of myself for a second.

I look over at Mats; he's laughing loudly, one arm around Marco.

"I don't know if that's such a good idea."

"You're right," he says before tipping his drink. "I'm not much of a dancer anyway. You save me from embarrassing myself." He chuckles softly into his glass.

"I've seen you dance." I tease, quirking my eyebrow. "You're alright."

His smile stretches impossibly wider as he stares at me. I have seen him dance, with his girl. I notice, and not for the first time, that she isn't here.

Before I can ask where she is, Mats comes back. He sits roughly next to me, his arm sloppily dropping over my shoulders. As I try not to spill my drink on my dress or him, his fingers grasp my chin and he turns my face to his. His lips are on me next, wet and tasting like scotch.

When his tongue slips in my mouth, my hand flies to his chest over the open collar of his neck — in warning — trying to calm him down. With a little grunt, he leaves my face. His eyes are almost shut — he's drunk.

"Did someone have too much to drink?" My fingers run over his jaw and push some of his hair behind his ear.

"I'm done. Let's go," Mats says, running a hand on his hair and getting up.

I turn to Lukasz to say goodbye, when I realize he's gone. I frown in confusion, staring at the empty chair, when his words from earlier today replay in my head.

That was appalling to watch…

I quickly dismiss the foolishness of my thoughts, grab up my things, and rush out behind Mats.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

I would love to hear what you think, so please leave me a review! :)

Ronnie.