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only you (and you can hear me)

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it didn't seem like an ideal arrangement, at first, but they figured they could make it work. 

they'd been told to find a place to write together, which had seemed like a fine idea in theory, but these things rarely go according to plan. they'd only stayed at that first flat for a month or so, before ending up at elton's mum's place for another few weeks, which wasn't a whole lot better - far too crowded, with little privacy. it was bernie who'd suggested that they look for something else, but elton wasn't about to argue.

the new place was small and cheap and a bit cold and everything about it screamed struggling rockstars - but it was an improvement. despite its size, there was room for elton's piano and bernie's little writing desk and all of their other things. the fact that there was only one bedroom wasn't great, but they figured they could deal with it.

they'd tried a few different things over the first couple of weeks - they'd take turns sleeping on the couch, or the floor, or they'd coordinate their sleep schedules, with bernie staying up late to write lyrics and elton getting up early to wind melodies into those lyrics. however, nothing seemed to work as a permanent solution - it always ended up with one of them struggling to fall asleep, or waking up sore and groggy. it hadn't been until one chilly autumn night that elton had brought up the idea that maybe, possibly, sharing the bed might be a good idea. bernie was reluctant at first, but after a bit of convincing, he'd decided it would be worth a try (although at that point, he was willing to try almost anything in order to stay warm through the night). 


 

"what's your zodiac sign?" elton asks. it's late, and he should absolutely be asleep right now, but it's one of those nights when sleep just doesn't want to come, no matter how dark or cozy the room is. he's got bernie cuddled up in his arms, long hair tied back in a loose bun, eyelids heavy (but not so heavy that he's at risk of drifting off to sleep; not yet, at least). underneath the thick quilt and fleece sheets, they're wrapped up in one of bernie's old plaid flannel shirts, using it as a sort of makeshift blanket - such measures are sometimes necessary on chilly winter evenings.

"dunno," bernie replies, face pressed against elton's shoulder. "m'birthday's may 22nd. what does that make me?"

"a gemini, i believe."

"interesting. and what are you?"

"well," elton starts, voice still barely more than a whisper, "my birthday's march 25th, so that makes me an aries, which i think is quite fitting, because people born under that sign are supposed to be fiery... and passionate... and honest." elton slows his words a bit for emphasis. "and then gemini -  i think that means that you're curious, and gentle, and a bit nervous, at times."

"i see." bernie doesn't know the first thing about constellations or zodiac symbolism or anything of that sort, but he'd be content to listen to elton ramble on about those things forever. "so, gemini, and aries - are those two supposed to be compatible, then?"

"does it matter?"

bernie thinks on that for a moment. "i suppose not, no." it's not like he'd start doubting his relationship with elton if he found out that their star signs weren't supposed to be compatible. if he's being honest with himself, he's not sure how much of this stuff he actually believes; mostly, he just likes hearing elton talk about it.

"i'll admit that i don't know much about that part of it," elton finally says, after a long pause. "i guess it's just - i don't like the idea of relying on the stars for something like that. i think it's fun to learn about what your zodiac sign says about your personality, but even then, i know that's not always completely accurate. to me, it just seems silly to decide whether or not you're compatible with another person based on your sign."

"makes sense."

elton says nothing, just pulls bernie a little closer, holds him a little tighter. bernie runs his fingers over elton's bare back, along the ridges of his spine, and elton sighs in contentment. sure, it might make more sense for them to keep their clothes on under all the blankets, especially during these really cold nights - but then they wouldn't get to do this. 

"what are you thinking about?"

"how soft you are," elton replies, pressing a light kiss into bernie's hair, "and how you do such a good job of keeping me warm. what about you, angel?"

the pet names always catch bernie off guard. elton only ever uses them when he's sleepy or drunk - he'll call bernie sweetheart or baby or something else along those lines, as casually as if he was using bernie's own name. angel has been a more recent development, and bernie's not sure where that one came from; he certainly doesn't see himself as resembling any sort of divine being, but maybe elton does, for some reason. who knows.

"mmm, not a whole lot, to be honest." bernie almost wants to ask elton how he learned about all that zodiac stuff, but he figures that conversation can wait for another day. in the time that he's lived with elton, he's realized that some conversations are best suited to the late hours of the night, but this probably isn't one of them. plus, he's got other things on his mind - things that can't really wait til morning. "i was actually, er, just sort of thinking about the song we were working on this evening."

"ah." elton hums the first couple lines, and bernie fills in the empty spaces as best he can - blue jean baby, L. A. lady, seamstress for the band. he knows that he doesn't have the same clear, confident singing voice that elton does, and it doesn't help that he's half asleep, but he tries his best.

elton responds accordingly - pretty eyes, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man. he gives bernie a look as if to say well, you're the one who wrote it, what's next, but bernie stays silent. 

"i think that's enough from me," bernie finally says, after a long enough pause. "you can finish this one."

"hmm?" 

god, he's oblivious sometimes. 

"sing to me, elton." bernie keeps his voice soft, not wanting to force elton into anything. he's learned that there's something very vulnerable about the entire songwriting process when it's shared with another person, especially in a relationship like theirs, where the lines between writing partners and best friends and lovers have become so blurred. (to be fair, there's also a certain degree of vulnerability that comes with lying in bed with one's lyricist, limbs all tangled, clothes discarded to the floor, and being asked to sing a bit of that new song, on the spot. bernie recognizes this. he wouldn't be offended if elton didn't want to, but he also knows elton well enough to know that he probably wouldn't refuse.)

after a moment, elton's expression shifts from confusion to understanding, and he complies, singing bernie's lyrics back to him as softly and as sweetly as he can. he punctuates the end of each phrase with the gentlest touches he can manage, running his fingers though bernie's hair, tracing patterns on his bare skin, pressing kisses along his face and neck and chest. 

but oh how it feels so real

lying here, with no one near

only you, and you can hear me

when i say softly, slowly... 

bernie does his best to keep his eyes open, watching elton getting lost in the lyrics, but he's been awake for far too long, and sleep is finally starting to look sort of appealing.

as if he's read bernie's mind, elton pauses before continuing into the next bit of the song, leaning in to kiss bernie once more. this one's slower than the others, but not quite as gentle - there's something aggressive and needy in the way that elton cups one hand around bernie's cheek and tangles the other into his hair. however, there's still a certain softness there, in the way elton nibbles on bernie's lower lip, in the way elton sighs into bernie's open mouth. 

"thanks for that," bernie whispers as they pull apart. "i think i was starting to drift off a bit there."

"that's fine," elton replies. "we can sleep soon, if you want. i know it's late."

"okay. i wanna hear the rest of the song first, though."

elton gives him a sweet little smile and picks up right where he left off. 

hold me closer, tiny dancer

count the headlights on the highway

lay me down in sheets of linen

you had a busy day today

hold me closer, tiny dancer

count the headlights on the highway

lay me down in sheets of linen

you had a busy day today

elton's voice drifts off a bit at the end, and bernie can tell he's getting sleepy too. 

"that was beautiful," bernie finally says, breaking the silence that now hangs in the air. "really, really good. you're so amazing - i hope you know that."

"thank you, bernie." it's too dark to see, but bernie's fairly certain elton's blushing right now. (he's never really been good at taking compliments, but that doesn't mean bernie won't keep giving them.) "i, er, i think that one has a lot of potential - but we can talk about that tomorrow. i'd like to sleep now."

"mm-hmm." bernie's actually been ready to sleep for the past hour or so, but if you asked him to chose between rest and late-night conversations with elton, he'd pick the latter every single time. "goodnight, then. love you." 

"i love you too. sleep well." elton presses one last gentle kiss to bernie's lips. within a few short minutes, they drift off, still wrapped in each other's arms, happy and warm and content.