The Apprenticeship

Vienna Barnes is given the opportunity of a lifetime when she is offered an apprenticeship to work for her favourite football club, Sunderland AFC. Sunderland AFC are one of the biggest clubs in the North East. After pulling off the greatest escape in Barclays Premier League history, the Black Cats are back in action, and sitting nervously towards the bottom of the table. Just as Vienna arrives at the club, a bombshell is dropped, and owner Ellis Short sells the club to a mystery new owner. This new owner is determined to keep themselves a secret from the footballing world, and the media are therefore forced to keep possibly the biggest secret and scandal in footballing history. Soon, all begins to fall apart at the club, and the new owners drive Sunderland into the ground. Thinking on her feet, Vienna steps in to offer her help in any shape or form. With problem after problem unveiling, will Sunderland AFC still remain intact by the end of the season?

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34. And So it Begins...

Extra long chapter for you guys!

Just wanted to ask, I'm trying to come up with ways of getting my story noticed a little more. I'm working so hard on this, and the views are showing me that I must be doing something right to have gotten well over 1300 views in less than 40 chapters!

On average I'm getting roughly 25 views per chapter which is really good, so if you're reading this and you haven't liked this story...go ahead! It won't hurt you I promise! :P

All I'm saying is it would be lovely if the amount of likes/favourites could be appropriate to the amount of views. But thank you for the never ending support you guys are giving me, it's so lovely to see all these views on my story! :D

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"Are you cold?"

My face snaps towards Seb and my eyes widen in surprise - he's actually talking to me..., "Oh! No, I'm alright." I stutter, nervously rubbing the side of my arm.

Down by the gates to the academy are a swarm of paparazzi, and as soon as they see Seb and I they begin shouting in our direction. A few cameras flash, but we make our way in the opposite direction, and cut through the fields of football pitches that cover the main outside land of the establishment.

Seb's pristine, patent black shoes click against the concrete floor and all I can do is follow him, with no words coming out of my mouth no matter how many times I rack my brain for something to say. What am I supposed to say to my IDOL...?

'How are you doing then?'

''How was your day?'

One of those would be quickly followed by an apology for my stupid awkwardness to which he would end up thinking I'm just an absolute mess.

"I know where I'm going...trust me." Seb laughs.

He laughed. He actually laughed, and his laugh is so cute. He's taking me somewhere too, I don't know where and to be honest I'm not entirely bothered. As long as he doesn't turn on me...I should be fine. I highly doubt that he would, but hey, you never know with people these days.

"You don't talk much do you?" He smiles.

Fuck that smile. Oh lord I'm going weak at the knees.

Wait, what am I doing? Talk to him Vienna for goodness sake!

"Southampton!" I blurt out, "That erm, wasn't great..."

I really am the most ridiculous person in the world. Nice one Vienna. Another massive fuck up in front of your idol, what a brilliant person I am.

"Oh the game? Yeah...I don't even have any words for that." He sighs, "I think after the first own goal we lost ourselves a little. Then it just kept getting worse and worse. It was embarrassing, and the bosses agree too - they didn't hide their feelings either."

I question Seb on what he means and he doesn't hesitate to explain, "They called a meeting with us all after Gus had caught them talking about us all. They all basically said that we are an embarrassment to the club, and that we needed to get ourselves together else there would be serious repercussions. I get that they're so angry, but to walk straight into the club and throw yourselves around like that, it just...wasn't very professional in my eyes."

We appear out at the back of the academy and I immediately spy a set of benches lined along the tall, thick hedge that surrounds us. I'm guessing Seb does too because he motions for me to follow him in that direction, and sure enough, he gently places himself down on the closest bench to us and I do the same.

"Well, they sound...interesting?" I laugh, "Maybe they're just nervous, I dunno."

Seb shrugs his shoulders and lets out a deep sigh. He's normally so positive about everything going on at the club, always saying how the players are going to push to get those points and always having the right attitude when heading into games, to see him like this is quite worrying. It just makes me think that maybe something is brewing; something that we don't know about.

"So what was all that back there? With everybody in the hall?" Seb asks, and I turn to face him, my legs trembling at the sight of my idol, "I mean, Gus dropped it in to one of the trainings that there was someone on the apprentice programme that might be a fan. But I don't get it...I'm nothing special. I'm just a footballer!"

"You are!" I protest, "I don't know. I grew up being a fangirl, and I basically idolized the likes of Justin Bieber for years. I've erm..." My eyes begin to water and I bite down hard on my lip to prevent myself from crying. I could not look more embarrassing right now.

"I just saw you playing one day and I noticed how much you were putting into the game; I couldn't stop smiling at you and from then on you just became my favourite player. You're one of those players than in my opinion, plays for their club, and not for their pay check." I send compliments flying in his direction, and my insides turn to mush as I notice the slight curl in the corners of his mouth, "It's just...oh never mind."

"No no! Continue please." Seb smiles, placing a gentle hand on my shoulder.

"...I, erm, struggled...for quite a while, m-mentally." I stutter, "I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder this summer, and I had some previous issues before that."

My eyes are fixed on the floor, and as I frantically try and work out how to make this sound less like I'm a psychotic mental patient with a fascination for Swedish footballers, "I'm so much better now though!...I just have panic attacks sometimes."

"That's fantastic. Really, that's great." He encourages, pulling I think the most adorable face I have ever seen.

I can't believe this is actually happening. I'm sat, at the Academy of Light, as a special guest to one of Sunderland AFC's regular lavish events, talking to Sebastian Larsson. My idol. This time a year ago, if you had explained the current situation that I am in right now to me, I would have laughed in your face. This is all I could ever dream of, and finally he understand why I idolise him so much.

"You just helped me. When I was really low, and really struggling in life you made me happy. That's the whole backstory with fangirls really, because people like you make us happy when we're down. I stuck with you, because your happiness stuck with me." I confidently explain, as a certain calmness washes over my trembling body, "I don't know why I suddenly wanted to idolise a footballer, but things happen...I'm not some sort of obsessed, crazy freak by the way! I really don't want you to think that. Oh God."

My face is shielded by my squidgy hands, and to my complete surprise I can hear Seb chuckle lightly. In one swift move I part a pair of fingers, therefore allowing a slight view of him. He's grinning right at me and opens his arms out, beckoning me in for a hug, "Come here." He smiles.

I take in a deep breath, and scoot up the bench towards Seb, cautiously moving my hands around his shoulders. He smells fucking beautiful. I never thought I would be this close to the man that has helped me through so much, and to be honest I never would have thought that he would react in the way that he has done.

"I don't think you're a freak at all." He says, holding a tight grip round my back, "I feel, honoured that I've helped you through all this. Even if I didn't physically play a part in it!"

As Seb and I detach ourselves from each other, I notice how cold the air has turned and rub the tops of my arms with my hands for warmth.

"Do you think we should head back?" I ask, "They'll all probably be wondering where we are."

He gladly agrees with my request and we begin the lengthy walk back to the main hall. I don't have a slight doubt that Dean and Chris have conjured up some stupid rumour as to where Seb and I are right now, and the whole group is convinced by this.

"I mean it. I'm just a simple little footballer, nothing special." He chuckles, "The fact that I...the fact that I could inspire you like this, it means a lot for me to hear this. I guess I could call you my number one fan!"

"Hell yeah!"

I grin uncontrollably at his outburst of laughter, and as we turn the corner to the entrance of the academy, we are greeted by Will. He raises his hand in acknowledgement of our presence, and I can't help but feel I'm going to go on another walk, with yet another footballer.

My my, I am popular today.

"Alright guys." Will greets us, "Mind if I take over here Seb?"

"Oh yeah, of course mate. I need to head back to my wife, but I will definitely be seeing you again Vienna!" He smiles, waving at Will and I, "See you later."

We both watch as Seb strolls confidently into the building, skipping up the set of steps towards the entrance and disappearing from sight. I turn to Will who has a cheeky grin on his face, "What's up?" I laugh.

"Just, I haven't spoken to you in a while. Wanted to see how you were. Plus, they're all convinced in there that you've tried it on with Seb so I wanted to come and check to see if you were both alright."

Typical. I knew it. I'll kick the lads ass' I swear.

My hands clasp together, and I blow into them for warmth, "Jeez it's freezing out here. Do you wanna go inside?"

Will notices my actions and takes off his suit jacket, placing it around my trembling body, "Better?"

I can't help but grin like a little child as Will's jacket fits me fairly nicely. I'm so glad it's not too tight on me else that could have been a tad embarrassing.

"Come on let's get you inside. I wanna talk to you for a bit." Will informs me, placing his hand on the small of my back to guide me inside.

Will leads me through the drabs of people clinking their glasses, and yelling at each other even though they're stood right next to each other, and through to a room underneath the set of stairs. There are a good hundred set of chairs facing the opposite end of the room, where there is a length desk with a couple of chairs behind. One thing that stands out to me are the set of microphones all jumbled together, facing the centre chair. It suddenly dawn on me, that this is place where Ellis Short revealed to the press and the media that he would be leaving the club.

All the memories come flooding back about the beginning of my time here. When we witnessed that game in the one of the VIP rooms in the stadium, and how I caught Ellis talking to the Janoskians over the phone. Then when everything spiralled down from there, and here I am; talking to one of our newest football players...as you do.

"Wow." I blurt out, causing Will to snap his head towards me as he places himself down on the edge of the stage, "I can't believe Ellis was sat here about a month ago man. It's crazy."

"Mmm, I know. Now we've got a bunch of Aussie kids as our new owners." He laughs, urging me to sit with him.

"Shush you." I gently whack his arm and perch myself on the chair in front of him, "Seb told me what happened, but maybe you just need to give them time to settle in."

"They gave us absolute hammering after what happened at Southampton! I know we weren't great but what they said was wrong." The tone in his voice takes a dramatic turn, "If that's what they're like when the first come in, I don't know what's going to happen

"Wow I never knew people felt that strongly about them. Does anyone else feel like this?" My eyebrows push together in curiosity.

"No one's really spoken about it, of course it was quite recent so there's not really been much of a chance for any form of debate."

I watch as Will gives me a sort of half hearted smile. He looks so run down and bothered by the situation, and it really makes me wonder what is actually going on at the club.

"You're a cool girl, you know that? You seem so easy to talk to and you don't seem fazed by the whole footballer status - it's nice to talk to someone normal for a change." He smiles at me again and my insides melt at his sweet compliments.

I begin to question Will on what he means, because surely everyone's normal - even if you're famous. We're not talking about some A-list singers or actors that are in the news 24/7, and everyone's really sick of hearing of. I only really know of the footballers at Sunderland because I'm a die hard fan. I'm pretty sure the majority of people you would ask outside of Sunderland would have no clue of the likes of Will Buckley, or even Ellis Short - but the Janoskians, yes.

"What I mean is," He begins, running a hand through his hair gently, "Apart from your very close friends, and of course the lads in the team, everyone just wants to talk to you because you're a footballer and you have a decent amount of money. I've only really become well known because I was taken up to Sunderland, but there's a lot of jackasses out there that don't have good intentions."

"Well I have good intentions, so you don't need to worry about that." I laugh.

I briefly check my phone and send a quick text to Sophie informing her of my whereabouts, to which she replies that she's coming to find me. Good luck with that. Even I didn't know that there could be a room around here, so she'll probably get bored and give up after some time.

"Listen, can I get your number?" Will suddenly asks, shooting me a cautious look as if he's just eaten my secret stash of oreo's in my room (which if anyone asks, is a no go area...seriously), "Just so we can keep in touch...I like talking to you."

Has a footballer actually asked me for my number?...What on earth is happening. All thoughts of Henry and James have completely disappeared from my head, and I willingly add my number into Will's list of contacts, (the urge to note down Seb's phone number was almost too much to bare).

"Thanks." He grins, "I'll text you as soon-"

"Look at you two all cosy!" A voice bellows through the room as the doors burst open, "Well isn't this just the cutest thing in the world?"

My entire body spins round to face the door to find Sophie with the biggest smirk on her face, skipping down the short little walkway in between all the chairs. She's is slowly followed by Zoe, who looks absolutely terrified at the state of Sophie.

"Is Will your new obsession now? Poor Seb!" She jokes, sitting herself down on my lap.

Sophie's breath stinks of champagne and she can't stop giggling in a really high pitched voice - which is so fucking annoying I feel like throwing her onto the floor.

"She kept asking for you so I couldn't let her go on her own." Zoe informs me, letting out a deep sigh at Sophie's actions, "I'm trying to find her some water but all they seem to have around here is alcohol."

"There's a water fountain in the corner." Will smiles, pointing towards the small water dispenser in the corner of the room, and Zoe's face lights up.

I was actually having such a lovely time talking to Will, because he seems so down to earth. I'll absolutely kill Sophie once she sobers up.

Will motions towards the door and whispers to me if we should leave the girls to it. Without a moments notice I lift Sophie onto the floor, ignoring her whimpers and telling her that 'everything's going to be fine, just lie down and go to sleep', before grabbing my bag and taking a brisk walk to the door. This 'brisk' walk soon turns into a run as Zoe shouts at us to come back, but Will and I head towards the main hall again, laughing to ourselves and her cries soon die out.

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