Disclaimer: I don't own Bend it Like Beckham

Old Injuries

The Cricket game was coming to a slow, expected end. Tony could barely hide his impatience. He couldn't even remember why he'd wanted to watch in the first place, besides the fact that Joe had suggested he come; but that wasn't really a reason.

As fine as Joe was, he was with Jess.

And Tony was just a friend.

Even when Jess was in America and it was just Tony and Joe…

The game finally ended and Tony was snapped back to reality as Joe jogged over to the sidelines. He grinned and took a sip of water as Tony stood; tossing the football he had brought from one hand to the other.

"Well?" Joe queried, his Irish accent thickened by his panting breath. "What'd you think?" Tony shrugged.

"It's still dull," he said. Joe laughed and tossed his water bottle aside before giving a short nod towards the ball in Tony's hand.

"What d'you say we kick 'er around for a bit?" he suggested. Tony grinned.

"Sounds good," he said. He dropped the ball and punted it out onto the field. He jogged after it, noting out of the corner of his eye as Joe began to tug off his shirt. Tony reached the ball and tapped it with his foot, turning back towards the sidelines in time to see a shirtless Joe running towards him.

He tapped the ball with the outside of his foot as Joe neared, turning with the ball to go around Joe. As he stepped forward, Joe's foot caught his and he fell to the ground. He pushed himself up as fast as he could and glanced over his shoulder as Joe made an unhindered shot on the goal.

Tony groaned as Joe's hands shot up in the air in triumph.

"I thought you played," Joe taunted, punting the ball back to Tony. Tony laughed a little, the sound nervous and shaky even to his ears. He stopped the ball with his chest and let it fall to his feet.

"I haven't in a while," he called back as Joe jogged over. "Not really since Jess left, anyway." Joe nodded.

"Want me to give you a shot?" he asked. Tony glared at him.

"I'm not that out of practice," he shot back. He slipped his toe under the ball and nudged it up to his knees, juggling it a few times before letting it fall back to his foot. He swung his leg back and kicked as the ball neared the ground, it sailed over Joe's head and Tony ran swiftly after it.

He could hear Joe's heavy breathing even as he reached the ball, but he didn't turn to look. He knew the other man was getting closer, but he pushed any thought of his opponent out of his mind as he twisted his body to kick the ball into Joe's goal. He missed, barely, but as he ran to retrieve the ball and try again Joe streaked past him, sprinting faster than Tony had ever seen.

Halfway to the ball, Joe fell. Tony watched as the other man's knee gave out, collapsing underneath his body and pulling his weight down onto the injured body part. A piercing cry reached Tony's ears, the pain in it stopping Tony's heart for a moment before he rushed forward to help his friend.

"Joe, are you all right?" Tony queried as he knelt down next to the other man. Joe grabbed for Tony's hand and squeezed it tight, rubbing his leg with his other hand. His teeth were clenched and his eyes were closed as he lay back in the grass. Tony tentatively laid a hand on Joe's shoulder, willing the other man to say something.

Anything.

"Do you need to go to hospital?" Tony queried when Joe said nothing. The man shook his head. His teeth unclenched and he took in a gasping breath, his eyes popping open. Tony squeezed his shoulder even as he squeezed Tony's hand even harder, shaking his head as he did.

"No, I'm all right," he said, using Tony's weight to pull himself into a sitting position. "I'm fine, just forgot about it is all." He pulled his pant leg up, revealing the scar adorning his knee. He glared down at it, his one hand still holding Tony's.

"What happened?" Tony queried, staring in awe at the injury

"It's nothing," Joe said, quickly lowering his pant leg. Tony pulled his hand from Joe's and caught the hem of the pants before Joe could pull it too far past his knee. Tony carefully rolled it back up. He glanced at Joe, whose eyes were on the ground, before lightly tracing over the scar with the tips of his fingers.

Joe shuddered slightly and Tony pulled away, but Joe caught his hand and pulled him forward. Tony fell to the grass beside Joe, his eyes fixed on the man's chest. He swallowed hard as Joe's fingers slipped under his chin and lifted his head so that their eyes met.

"I pushed myself too hard," Joe whispered, his voice almost reverent as his face inched closer to Tony's. Joe's warm breath hit Tony's lips, and Tony felt his tongue flit between them as his eyes fell closed and Joe's lips pressed lightly to his. The kiss was slow, their lips barely moving and tongues hardly doing more than teasing.

Joe twisted his head slightly, tilting a little to the right, he opened his mouth further and teased Tony's lips with his tongue. Tony felt his lips widen, his own tongue hitting Joe's just as his mind caught up to the situation. He pulled away, falling back into the grass. He sat up, leaning on his elbows, and stared at the other man as they both caught their breath.

"What is it?" Joe asked, raising a hand to trace his thumb across Tony's cheek. Tony turned away as hot tears stung his eyes.

"What about Jess?" he queried through clenched teeth. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Joe dropped his hand. It fell to the grass by Tony's leg, nearly touching Tony's knee, and the young man wished he could shift just slightly to accidentally brush them together.

"You're right," Joe said quietly. Tony looked at him, his eyes were focused on a point behind Tony's head and he was absentmindedly pulling at the grass by Tony's knee. Tony coughed quietly, clearing his throat.

"Am I?" he asked. "She's been gone for what, a few months?" Joe looked up at him, his eyebrows raised in confusion.

"What's that supposed to mean?" he queried, his voice harsh. Tony raised his hands as much as he could in his defense.

"I'm just saying," he stated, his voice quiet. "No, I'm asking: is that enough time?" Joe nodded slowly, his fingers still playing with the grass. Tony watched as Joe shifted his weight slightly and moved his hand slowly to Tony's knee. He stroked the young man's knee lightly with his knuckles, a sad smile growing on his lips.

"I think it is," he said. "I don't want it to be, but I think it is." Tony smiled and sat up, catching Joe's hand in his. He leaned towards the other man, more confident now than he had been, and placed a gentle kiss on Joe's lips. Joe caught Tony's waist with his other hand and sat up as well. He pulled back from the kiss, trying to hide the smile on his face.

"Perhaps we should go elsewhere," Joe suggested. "We're a bit exposed here." Tony laughed; he leaned his forehead against Joe's and sighed.

"Perhaps we should," he said and laughed again. Joe laughed as well and pressed his lips to Tony's, laying the young man down on the grass.

They weren't going anywhere.