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22 September 2008 @ 09:34 pm
the pursuit of perfection  
Title: The Pursuit Of Perfection
Pairings: Daniel Agger / Steve Finnan, Daniel Agger / Martin Škrtel
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Nothing more than the product of a restless imagination.
Notes: Set in the second half of the 2007-08 season, i.e. the period where both Steve and Martin were Liverpool players.
Feedback > life. If you feel the need to give constructive criticism, please do.

Daniel had no tolerance for mediocrity. It was a weakness of the lazy human spirit, settling for anything less than the best. Daniel, equipped with two strong arms and two stronger legs, a sensible brain and an articulate tongue, saw himself as no lower than any other human being. It was therefore evident that he should act accordingly. And it was with this philosophy that he ascended on the pursuit of perfection which governed his life.

Daniel was meticulous. A tattooist once used a slightly pale shade of green on one of his tattoos, which Daniel couldn't bear, so he went back and got it remedied such that the tattoo would look just so, resting happily on his bicep.
Daniel was clean. He never went to sleep unless every single dish was washed, dried, and cleared away, scrunching up his nose in distaste whenever Steve would leave empty bowls and plates in the sink, remnants of food still stuck to them.
Daniel was obsessive. His furniture was arranged as symmetrically as possible, the clothes in his wardrobe arranged according to colour, and his day carefully planned down to every separate minute.

In football, it was winning - never drawing, certainly not losing - which served as the best indicator of his own personal success. He would never tolerate a stitch in his side, vowing to run harder and further during training for weeks, until the slightest discomfort would leave him in peace. He, unlike his teammates, listened to every word Rafa Benítez said to him, just in case it would improve his game by the tiniest degree. His diet was flawlessly strict, and he adhered to it without even the most fleeting of desires to stray. He watched the sports channels with interest in the days leading up to a match, furtively analysing the strikers he'd be facing and making sure that they couldn't get past him.
Didier Drogba's careless treatment of Daniel's defensive technique in the first Champions League semi-final of two seasons ago was akin to torture - and in the week that separated the first and second legs, Daniel made sure that it wouldn't happen again. Which, of course, it didn't, Daniel being the artfully thorough researcher and planner that he was.

He was the architect of preparation meeting an ideal consequence - he sought perfection, and found it by any means he could. Steve called it overthinking. Daniel called it necessity.

So it was when his relationship with Steve began to resemble something less than perfect, that Daniel felt a searing rush of panic, which only escalated every time he overthought what his lover did and said.

He thought he could taste the incomparable sweetness of a woman on Steve's tongue once. The lights on, revealing both of their imperfections as they both stubbornly tried to ignore them, while the noise from the streets outside invaded their private utopia, Daniel kissed Steve back with the slightest frown lining his face.

He thought Steve looked tired lately at training, his tackles mistimed and his breathing ragged as he hastily tried to recover his mistakes. In the last match they'd played, Steve had been outfoxed by a much younger opponent, Daniel watching with wide eyes as Carra had hurriedly cleared up the mess. Steve now took off his kit more gingerly than he did a year ago, and walked more slowly towards the showers, his skin revealing bruises that he never used to get.

When they had sex, Steve moved slowly as Daniel raced to the finish. Daniel came before he did, often already lost in the breathless haze of post-orgasmic elation when Steve finally released. A sign, Daniel noted, that they were no longer in sync.
Steve could finish off Daniel's sentences before he'd even thought how to end them himself. But this was slowly turning from sweet to tedious.
Daniel no longer found humour in the fact that Steve fell asleep during the war movies he liked to watch. It was now a symbol of discontent and disinterest.

Steve's hesitations meant unhappiness, his eagerness meant desperation. When he was tired, he was bored. When he was happy, he was faking it. Daniel replayed every conversation, every touch, every look, over and over in his mind, as he worriedly saw his perfect creation losing its life.

It was the culmination of seemingly stark inadequacies which had Daniel restlessly tossing in his bed, believing himself to be unsatisfied with a relationship that was gradually revealing its inherent commonness. Problems were beginning to surface, delicately and reluctantly revealing themselves as Daniel searched for them anxiously. The shine was slowly dullening. The honeymoon period was ending.

Martin presented the opportunity of something new - of reparation, and of rebuilding the flawless walls that sheltered Daniel from the mediocrity that scared him so. He brought youth where Steve was slowing, aggression where Steve was softening, success where Steve was failing.

So in a sterile and cold hotel room, Daniel sought in Martin the perfection that Steve could seemingly no longer give to him. Tracing Martin's tattoos with his sweaty fingertip, the way that Steve traced his, Daniel closed his eyes and desperately tried to feel climaxes beyond anything he'd experienced before. He tried to find comfort in the coolness of Martin's pale skin, and approval in his guttoral moans.

But it was an empty quest. It was nothing more than sex, a body inside his, a tongue lashing against his torso but never against his mouth. Martin, like all the others, was flawed.

Or, Daniel pondered as he slowly climbed down from his created high, maybe it was he himself who, like all the others, was flawed.

"It wasn't the best I've ever had," Martin said bluntly as he sat on the side of the bed, turning coldly away from Daniel.

Slut, Daniel couldn't help thinking as he pulled himself up and out of the hot, sticky mess left behind on the bed. While Martin gazed disinterestedly ahead of him, Daniel dressed himself and slipped out of the room.

He crawled quietly under his blanket, the head of his bed resting calmly against the hotel room wall that separated him from Steve. It wasn't the best I've ever had. It was coarse and rough, it was devoid of any meaning, and the only purpose it served was the realisation of everything that was wrong with the world outside of Daniel and Steve. In a few heavy thrusts and invasive moans, it spoke of coldness, desperation and loneliness. It spoke of everything from which Daniel and Steve had managed to escape. And everything of which Daniel had somehow lost sight.

Remembering nights of warm love-making, conversation, understanding and compassion, Daniel, with Martin's smell still swimming along his skin, fell asleep imagining Steve's soft breaths tickling his neck, and contentedly dreamed of his faithful, trustworthy lover washing away everything that had tainted Daniel that night. Trying to run away from the apparent flaws he'd been a part of for so long, he had somehow failed to see just how perfect it already was. And he now realised that it was his own search for something more that had had him seeing less.

It wasn't the best I've ever had.

For the first time in his life, in an unfamiliar city with an unfamiliar man underneath him, Daniel was happy to have been mediocre.

mood: determined
music: coldplay - warning sign
alessaalejaboo on September 22nd, 2008 11:57 am (UTC)
o.m.g this is so beautiful and powerful. wow! and it feels so true and real.
you're one great writer

(the sad thing is i might just picture dan doing something like this, even in a small amount)
and martin rulz
presque: dannycasi_casi on September 23rd, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, that's really very kind of you. ♥

the sad thing is i might just picture dan doing something like this
It is sad, but I'm just happy that you agree with my characterisation. :)
azamilust_demolition on September 22nd, 2008 12:10 pm (UTC)
me likes
tho, i imagine steve being all that daniel is in this one
but its beautiful, and true. if you look for imperfections, you'll find them

you wrote martin škrtel. how did you write škrtel? where are you from?
presquecasi_casi on September 23rd, 2008 12:47 am (UTC)
Thanks very much, I'm glad you liked this!

i imagine steve being all that daniel is in this one
Yeah, I predicted a few people would disagree with my characterisation, but I've personally always seen Daniel as a perfectionist!

Are you asking how I got the accent on the 's'? I copied and pasted it from his Wikipedia page! I'm Australian, so the accents aren't on my keyboard - I've managed to load a few on, though. :)
azamilust_demolition on September 23rd, 2008 07:19 am (UTC)
well, to each it's own

hah, i thought you were from around here somewhere, cuz we write š along with all the rest in the alphabet
(tho we don't have Q, W, X and Y... but we have Č (and Ć), Š, Ž and Đ)

ok sorry i was just amazed by your dedication
presque: dannycasi_casi on September 24th, 2008 10:32 pm (UTC)
Haha no need to apologise!

I just feel that it's not too much effort to get the accents right. I know some people consider it to be a spelling mistake if they're wrong, so I try to spell the names right as often as possible!
(Deleted comment)
presquecasi_casi on September 23rd, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, I'm glad you enjoyed this!

the imperfection of being perfect
Ooh, that's a good line! I wish I'd written it!
ombu_treeombu_tree on September 22nd, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC)
that was so sad and sad and sad then *DING* a spot of happiness shining through *sighs happily*

I was almost outraged at the beginning until almost the end... ah. but you were right again.
I really don't know how you do it.
Am now scared of posting my own fic but don't worry, will do anyways, and you can tell me how to fix it maybe? ^_^

p.s. POOR STEVE *cries bucketloads*
presquecasi_casi on September 23rd, 2008 12:49 am (UTC)
Oh, sorry to put you through such a rollercoaster, but I'm glad you liked it in the end!

Thanks so much for your compliments, you're very kind!
cill_daracill_dara on September 22nd, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)
You write in such an amazing and powerful way...I'm astounded.

Not only for the writing style, which flows perfectly, but also and mostly for what you convey with this piece. I felt exactly the same way Daniel felt: the desperate tension towards a perfectly planned perfect life, the fear of not being able to control everything (Daniel can't control his lover and this frightens him to no end), the discomfort when you can't see perfection and desirability in your significant one, the need of escaping and the failure when you realize that what you did means nothing at all.

Fortunately, the last experience opened his eyes and made him realize the importance of what he has.
presque: dannycasi_casi on September 23rd, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
Wow, thanks a lot for that, it means a lot! ♥

What you wrote there is exactly what I was trying to get across, so I'm really glad that's what you took from it.
paulii_oh_yesh on September 22nd, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
Definitely a new take on Dan (that I've seen anyway). It's really well written and it just flows. And this has satisfied my Fagger love so much. Thank you!

presque: dannycasi_casi on September 23rd, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much, that means a lot! ♥

I'm glad I could bring something new to the Dan character. :)

And oh, I think everyone's thirst for Fagger needs some quenching after having to say goodbye to Finns. :( So I'm glad I could help!
sophiamoonsophiamoon on September 22nd, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
Some strong imagery here.

And perfection is so imperfect.
presquecasi_casi on September 23rd, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
Thanks a lot - I didn't intentionally go for imagery, but I'm glad it crept into the writing anyway. :)

And perfection is so imperfect.
liversanliversan on September 22nd, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
Beautifully written as others have said. Amazed at how tight everything is- no unnecessary words or images.

I like that in the end Daniel's panic at losing perfection is soothed by Steven's "inherent commonness."
presque: dannycasi_casi on September 23rd, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you very much, I'm rather flattered. :)

Amazed at how tight everything is- no unnecessary words or images.
This especially means a lot to me, since I'm always worried about being too verbose. Very reassuring, thank you!
Tesstessalonso on September 22nd, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
Oh this is fabulous. I love everything about it, from the list of Daniel's personality traits to the gradual changes as Steve ages to the harshness of remorse when Daniel realises what he's done.


Edited at 2008-09-22 06:49 pm (UTC)
presquecasi_casi on September 23rd, 2008 12:56 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks a lot! *blushes* That's very kind of you, I'm just glad you enjoyed it so much! :)
deathinacavedeathinacave on September 22nd, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
Ah!! This is fantastic! really reminded me of 'Against Nature' by Huysman (I know Ive probably spelt that wrong, but cant be bothered to walk over to my bookshelf(horrendously dangerous pile beyond obsitacles of inhumane messiness) because, i too am imperfect!!).
So fascinating, so crisply written - quite remarkable!
presque: dannycasi_casi on September 23rd, 2008 12:57 am (UTC)
Oh, I must read that, then! :)

Thank you so, so much for that lovely comment - I'm flattered, really. ♥
D: Jude & Lucyoh_so_blase on September 24th, 2008 04:20 am (UTC)
oh wow, this is beautiful.

the pictures that played in my head and the feelings in me as i read this were brilliant. pure, raw, realistic goodness. their characterizations seem so spot on and just...guh.
love it.

and yes i, too, see how this could happen. sadly.
presquecasi_casi on September 24th, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, thanks so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed this, and that you found it realistic. I'm flattered. ♥
The Bavarian Skipper: daniel aggertxorakeriak on September 25th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)

I love how Dan's perception of the relationship he has with Finns changes over time. It's not even that Finns changes (or at least I didn't read it that way), it's just that Dan starts seeing him differently, becomes more and more aware of the little things they don't have in common and forgets the big things they share. And I guess that even though it's not explicitly mentioned here, Finns is going through the same.

It's only natural that Dan goes to look elsewhere for what he's missing. But what I find so awesome about this story is that instead of finding what he's looking for (a perfect lover), Dan finds something else: The realisation that love isn't made to be perfect, but that the simple fact of loving someone and being loved in return is perfection in itself.


*adds to memories*
presque: dannycasi_casi on September 26th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
Oh, thanks so much! I really love what you wrote there - all those ideas were floating around in my head and I so desperately wanted them to translate in ficcery, so I'm oh-so-glad that you took so much from this. ♥

even though it's not explicitly mentioned here, Finns is going through the same.
Hmm. To be honest, I never really thought about what Finns was going through. That probably makes me an incredibly incomplete writer, doesn't it? *sighs* But out of curiosity, what made you think that Finns was experiencing the same? Was it the fact that we all pretty much tend to see more flaws over time?
The Bavarian Skipper: steve finnantxorakeriak on September 26th, 2008 05:24 am (UTC)
Well, you know me, I just can't stop interpreting fic. *is a dork* :)

But out of curiosity, what made you think that Finns was experiencing the same?
Your hint at Finns cheating on Dan with a woman might just be a figment of Dan's imagination, but there are other things. He's grown to be more careless with his body, getting bruises, and he's less eager in training (which might not have anything to do with Dan, but it could have). He falls asleep during Dan's favourite movies, which Dan interprets as disinterest but for which I have a different explanation: that the romance is gone, everyday life has set in, and Finns just can't be bothered to be polite all the time anymore. And I'm sure it's nagging at him as well, because that's normal. :)

Maybe I'm interpreting a little too much into this, but as I said, I never know where to stop. *hides*
presquecasi_casi on September 26th, 2008 09:06 am (UTC)
I don't think you're dorky at all, I'm actually really grateful to you for putting so much thought into this, and pretty honoured, really. :)

I wish you'd write more fic. I'm sure you'd be a brilliant writer - you seem so thoughtful and thorough. I really must rummage through that journal of yours and find some!
The Bavarian Skipper: cuddlertxorakeriak on September 26th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
♥ It's my pleasure! And I'm very grateful to have such great fic to analyse. :D

*blushes* Thank you, that's really kind of you. Well, you're gladly invited to check out my fics any time you like. :)