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Tuesday morning, 11:00 am
For a subject you’re so personally interested in, Women’s Lit is by far the most boring class you’re forced to endure twice a week. It’s repetitive and mundane and far too easy. It doesn’t help that you’re at your wit’s end from sleep deprivation. The entirety of class, you welcome any distraction you can get.
But what you’re not expecting is for the distraction to come in the form of a flower delivery man.
The door to the classroom swings open, and a spindly man wielding an unruly-sized bouquet of roses steps in. The professor ceases her lecture, frowning at the disruption. The sudden silence after an hour and a half of her lulling drone of a voice is jarring to your ears.
“Apologies,” the delivery man stammers, “but I have an urgent delivery for a Miss, uh…” He refers to a tablet in his hand. “Miss Y/N Y/L/N?”
Your professor glares at you with daggers in her eyes. This prompts half the class to swivel their heads around to you at the back of the class. You stiffen in your seat, your cheeks flooding with heat.
“Is a Miss Y/L/N here?” the delivery man asks again.
“That’s me,” you squeak. The man raises his chin in acknowledgment and walks down the aisle between two rows of desks to get to you.
“It’s your lucky day, ma’am,” he says with a polite smile and hands the bouquet to you. You take them, completely dumbfounded. A couple of classmates snigger. The professor taps her foot and huffs a sigh. “If you’ll just sign here as a confirmation of reception… And that’s it!”
“I’m so sorry,” you apologize in a rush to the professor as the delivery man makes his way out. Your peers have taken the brief interruption as an open invitation to break into their own side conversations now.
“I hope this is merely a one-time occurrence, Miss Y/L/N,” the professor says with exasperation. “I will not have you interrupting valuable class time for any more kitsy gestures from your secret admirers.”
Your stomach flips. “I won’t. I’m sorry.”
The professor sighs, looking at the clock on her phone. “Well, this little interlude squandered two of our ten remaining minutes of class, so I suppose we might as well end early. Please do remember to submit your book report on The Handmaid’s Taleonline by 11:59 Friday night,” she announces as the class begins to gather their books and laptops. You clutch the bouquet to your chest, fling your backpack over your shoulder, and make a beeline for the door before anything else can manage to embarrass you.
Standing in the hallway, you examine the roses. They’re beautiful, a deep scarlet red in color, and wrapped in ornate ribbons and packaging. There’s a note attached to one of the stems with your full name printed elegantly on the outside. You unfold the note and read a message from the bouquet’s sender:
Happy Tuesday, Y/N! I hope you enjoy these fake flowers from your fake boyfriend. Be sure you bring them with you when you come to our rehearsal today. With affection, John Richard Deacon xo
You smile, despite yourself. What an outdated, hackneyed gesture…but it makes you feel special. It occurs to you that this is the first time a boy has ever sent you flowers. And you’re glad they’re from John, even when the notion of romance behind the bouquet is entirely fabricated. A part of you finds his choice of words slightly odd...Fake flowers from your fake boyfriend. Well, the flowers certainly aren't fake. They're very real, bright red roses. Hmm.
You smell the roses as you head out of the Liberal Arts building and into the muggy outdoors. Passersby glance at the ostentatious red bundle in your arms, and you can’t help but feel proud to have the best fake boyfriend in the world.
Brian, Freddie, and Roger’s band rehearses in the basement of the Imperial College London recreation center. The university lets them reserve the dingy space for free—“free” being the keyword that rings like a bell to the desperate ears of broke college kids. The only downsides are: 1) the basement is where all the snooker and table tennis tables are set up, meaning the constant allure of distraction; and 2) the noise of their rehearsal is so cacophonous that you can hear it from outside the building.
You stand outside the rec center and chuckle at the muted sounds of Brian’s wailing guitar and Roger’s snare drum licks coming from the front doors. It’s not hard to see why most critics universally describe the band’s music with one common word: loud.
“Y/N!” a voice says behind you.
You turn around and suppress a groan. It’s Tara, sauntering up the steps to you with a huge smile. “Hey, roomie!” she exclaims.
“Oh, hey, Tara,” you say and plaster a smile on your face as well as she hugs you. Fuuuuuck, why is she here?
“Oh my gosh, are those from John?” She leans in to smell your bouquet of roses. “I’m so jealous! Those are beautiful.”
“Thanks,” you say. “Are you here to see—”
“The guys rehearse? Yes!” she squeals excitedly, her breath fogging in the cold winter air. “I’ve never seen them live before! Everyone says they’re really good. Especially Brian. Did you know Brian made his guitar with his dad out of a hundred-year-old fireplace—”
“Yeah, the Red Special, I know,” you interrupt her. You’d listened to so many hours of Brian raving about the Red Special that you could practically build one yourself at this point.
Tara just beams. “It’s amazing! I was over at his and Roger’s flat last night, and I made Brian play a song for me. He says he’ll write a song for me.” She throws her hand over her forehead in a dramatic swooning gesture. “Perks of dating a rock star, huh? Who knows, maybe your John will—”
“Whoa, whoa whoa whoa,” you say, unable to stop yourself from glaring at her. “You were over at his flat last night?”
Tara bats her eyelashes with the innocence of a sly red fox. “Yeah, he invited me over after our sushi date, while you were with John. Speaking of whiiiich,” she says in a singsongy voice, “you have a lot of tea to spill to me and Ron about that.”
You blink. “About…?”
She nudges your arm. “About you and John! I definitely heard you two last night,” she says with a wink.
Your nostrils flare. “Tara, we didn’t do anything like that.”
Tara gives you her best “sure, Jan” look. “I’m sure after a few drinks on Friday, you’ll spill everything, anyway,” she says with a wave of her hand.
You know Tara’s trying to be playful, but her words just exasperate you. It hurts more than you care to admit that Brian invited her over last night. What all did they talk about? What all did they…do?
“Well, what about you and Bri?” you say casually.
“We’re doing great!” Tara smiles a private sort of smile. “More than. He’s…” She bites her bottom lip and giggles. “…amazing. In every sense of the word.”
Never fucking mind, I don’t want to know anymore.
“Good for you two,” you say and make your way up the stone steps to the entrance of the rec center. She follows you inside, giggling like a stupid schoolgirl.
Have they kissed already? Or… Christ, if Tara had her way with him—and Tara has to have her way with everyone—they’ve probably already fucked. The thought sends a clench of venom to your stomach, making you feel like you need to hurl your breakfast. Or punch a wall.
Calm down, Y/N. You don’t know what they really did or didn’t do. You don’t know much, but you know she was over at Brian’s last night while you were with Deaky. You know she was over for a number of hours—she’d arrived back at your flat after midnight. And you know that for some reason, after she’d left him for the night, Brian wanted to text you and apologize.
But what about your phone call with Brian last night? The words he whispered so hesitantly, yet so earnestly…
“Just, um…Please don’t feel like you have to do anything you don’t truly want to do. Or be with anyone you don’t truly want to be with.”
You try to put the pieces together. Could it have meant something about his date with Tara? Did he…reject her advances? What if they haven’t fucked yet? Is Tara lying? Why would Tara lie? To preserve her dignity?
But…it begs the question; why would Brian want to reject Tara?
He wouldn’t. He’s pined after her ever since the party, when his eyes grew as big as moons at the sight of her curvy body in that red sequin dress, her mascara-smudged eyes, her drink sloshing over everything. She’s a siren, and her song is too enchanting for the likes of Brian May and all the other smitten, lovesick types she’s pursued before him. He doesn’t stand a chance to her seductions. She’ll eat him alive, and she’ll suck the life out of him, and once she’s had her way, she’ll kick him to the curb and leave him desolate and barren like a dying dog.
And the worst part? He’ll probably thank her for it.
You march inside the rec and toward the basement with a new resolve. You have to stop Brian and Tara before it gets worse. You have to find a way to pry his hands from his ears, to force him to listen to reason. You have to get him to see Tara for what she truly is…for what she’ll do to him.
You need Freddie Bulsara.
Once you reach the foot of the stairs and swing the doors open, the wall of sound hits you like a ton of bricks. The concrete walls seem to trap it in and multiply it tenfold; neither the carpeted floor nor the snooker tables scattered among the lounge seem to dampen any of the sheer volume.
Brian’s the first one you notice. He looks radiant today in a simple white shirt—half-buttoned to reveal a sliver of the tanned skin of his chest—his favorite pair of worn blue jeans, and sneakers. His lanky frame is hunched over the red guitar strapped around his shoulders as his fingers fly across the fretboard. At the sight of his teeth biting down on his bottom lip in a show of acute concentration, your whole body feels suddenly elated with warmth.
The band doesn’t notice you and Tara come in, so you lead the way to a bench at the side of the lounge. Tara grips your elbow and whispers into your ear: “This is so exciting!”
You just nod back, gritting your teeth. Something about Brian catches your eye… It’s a red piece of fabric wrapped around his forearm, right where his white sleeves are rolled up. At first, you think it’s a bandana, or a sweatband. But you’ve never seen him wear anything like that before. You squint, trying to focus.
No, it’s a silk headband. Tara’s silk headband.
You feel your elation deflating like a popped balloon. Well, there it is. She’s left her tag. Marked her territory.
You clench your hands into fists… but immediately unclench them when you realize John Deacon’s been glancing to the side of the room, trying to get your attention. You meet John’s eyes. He gives you a wink—a knowing sort of wink. You can’t help but smile.
You have John here. Maybe things aren’t going to suck so bad after all.
The band continues with the song—a song of Fred’s called “Stone Cold Crazy” you’d only heard them rehearse a couple of times. You lean back and watch the guys play. Freddie Bulsara treats band rehearsals as if they’re actual performances—sans the costumes and glam. He struts about the front of their setup as if he owns the world; and he might as well one day, with that million-dollar voice. Behind him, Roger Taylor looks like he’s sitting upon an Iron Throne of drums and hi-hats that completely engulf his sweaty, slender frame. Brian—ever the fiddler—obsessively tweaks with his amp, his effects pedals, his pickup knobs on the guitar, his beautiful lips parted in a sensual way he’s completely unaware of.
And then there’s John. You almost don’t recognize him—he looks like a complete natural. His head bobs and his hips sway to the music, completely juxtaposed to the deft way his fingers move. His technique is impeccable, and you try but fail to focus on something else other than the index and middle fingers of his right hand.
Jesus Christ. Why do they all have to look so sexual?
The song ends with a flourish of riffs. Fred looks back at Rog with a final cymbal crash and laughs heartily. “Yes, Rog, sic’ em!” he shouts, giving the sweaty drummer a high-five.
“We were really groovin’ that time around,” Roger says and turns to John. “And you stuck with my tempo, mate. That’s not easy. Good job!”
John beams, but stays quiet. Brian’s quiet, too, practicing a missed lick over and over again. Freddie looks over at the guitarist and shouts over the noise, “What about you, Bri? What’d you think?”
Brian stops and looks up; you realize he’s scowling. “Better, but seemed a little off after the second verse.”
Roger scoffs loudly. You get the impression that this isn’t the first time today Brian’s been picky. “Christ, Brian, what this time…”
Brian draws his eyes back down to his guitar, still practicing the riff on repeat. “Sounded like a second inversion from the bassline. Made the harmony sound a little unstable.” He glances furtively in John’s direction. “Can we run it again?”
“We’ve already run through Stone Cold Crazy twice!” Roger whines, twirling his drumstick. “It’s past noon. I have places to be.”
You sit up a little straighter in your seat on the bench, Tara doing the same beside you. You feel like you’re watching a reality TV show. It’s hardly a rare occasion to see the three hysterical queens in a spit like this, but you can sense the tension rising more than normal today. It probably doesn’t help that currently, John Deacon’s the only one who knows you and Tara are here observing. He glances over at you, his brows furrowed. You just shrug.
“Brian, stop harping on our guest,” Freddie scolds.
“He’s not our guest, he’s an auditionee!” Brian says.
Roger makes a sound of disapproval. “He’s the best we’ve ever had! You’re gonna scare him off! You don’t gotta blow a fucking fuse like you always do—”
“Uh, lads?” John says meekly from the corner. “I’m right here.”
None of them pay him any heed. “I’m just saying,” Brian says, “we have a lot of people coming on Friday to hear us play, and I think it’s worth going over the show one more time to smooth out the kinks.”
“The ’kinks’? And let me guess, none of those ‘kinks’ are from you?” Freddie says angrily. “You’re expecting all of us to be perfect” —he pops the p—“before you even attempt—”
“Oh, don’t be so fucking ridiculous,” Brian says.
“Guys, we have company—” John tries to intercede.
No one hears. “You’re no perfect little princess yourself, Brian! You were the one dragging during Keep Yourself Alive!” Roger accuses. “And it’s your own bloody song!”
“I’m playing what I always play!” Brian defends. “You’re always trying to push tempo—”
“I keep us from dragging! That’s what I do! I’m the fucking drummer! It doesn’t help when you try to fill every damn second with riffs—”
“I’m trying to slow it down—”
“Well it doesn’t need slowing down! It’s—God, it’s creeping at the moment!”
“Will you two hags just pipe down?” Freddie says, a manicured hand on his hip.
Roger doesn’t listen. “God, it was sooo slow! And it was getting even slower! You always try to play this like I never—”
“That’s enough out of you, both of you! Just can it.”
Freddie manages to stop the boys’ arguing for just a few breaths. But then Roger hits a hi-hat with frustration and glares at Brian.
“You do slow down.”
Brian throws his hands in the air and huffs, “Oh, fuck, slowing down…”
Freddie groans. “We sounded fine. End of story. John, darling, we’d love to have you in the band—”
“Hold up!” Brian interjects. “You’re just going to make an executive decision here, Fred? This is not what we agreed on. We said we’d give him a trial run on Friday!”
“He sounded great on every one of our songs,” Freddie says. “He’s clearly practiced his arse off. He’ll be fine!”
“Can we stop talking about me like I’m not in the room?” John says calmly. Freddie and Brian don’t notice, but Roger gives John a sympathetic smile.
“We need to rehearse another time before Friday,” Brian insists. “This is our most publicized performance yet, and if we want to have any shot at all of making it big-time—”
“I don’t think we’ll have any trouble at all making it big-time, darling,” Freddie drawls. “I’ll make sure of it myself.”
“Oh, what, like it’s single-handed effort?” Brian scoffs. “You’re not the only member of this band, Fred.”
“No, but I’m the lead singer, Brian,” Freddie mocks, “and if it weren’t for me, you lot would still be playing with mediocre bassists and wearing drab tee shirts at gigs…and playing Zeppelin covers!”
“Fucking tee shirts,” Brian curses under his breath.
“Don’t tell me you don’t remember the way you lot used to dress onstage? Pah!” Freddie makes a dismissive swiping gesture with his hand.
“Hey! Not me!” Roger complains. “I’ve always dressed high fashion!”
Freddie looks back at the drummer with endearment. “No, not you, Roger darling.”
“What are you saying, then…!?” Brian barks.
“Come on, Bri,” Freddie sneers. “I’ll give you credit, you look better now than you did a year ago. I much prefer your hair curly to straight. But I was half a second away from nominating our dear friend Tim Staffell for Queer Eye season four.”
“Piss off about Tim,” Brian says. “And wasn’t it your band Wreckage that did all the Zeppelin covers? I’m pretty sure that was your bloody idea—”
“You’re one to talk, Brian, your Facebook cover photo is the Physical Graffiti album cover!” Roger says, laughing.
“That’s not the fucking point!”
Tara bristles beside you. “They all really love to hear the sounds of their own voices, don’t they,” she whispers in your ear. And for once, you agree with her.
Except for John. He watches all of this unfold from the sideline, completely helpless to stop the locomotive of drama that’s barreling at full-speed before him. Given the exasperated look on his face, he probably doesn’t even care to try. You wonder if the others know about his superpower yet—the power to make you curl up and die with two aptly-worded sentences. You would know; you’ve witnessed it yourself.
The shit-show continues. “No, you’re right, it’s not the point,” Freddie says matter-of-factly, letting the microphone swing from his hands by the chord like a pendulum. “The point is, you lot brought me in the band, you let me fix your lack of theatricality, and if we can all just do our own bloody parts, we don’t have to worry about whether or not we become famous!”
“And we need a bassist,” Roger adds.
“We need a John Deacon!” Freddie says excitedly, smiling at John like he’s a puppy in a pen just waiting for a forever home. “Look at him! He’s perfect!”
“It’s not a shoo-in position! Fucking Christ,” Brian mutters. “I thought we had an agreement? Trial performance on Friday, official band discussion, and then we agree on a new member.”
“You and all your fucking agreements,” Roger gripes. “First it was an agreement about the groceries, and now it’s the agreement about bassists…”
“He’s practically an expert!” Freddie vouches for John. “And he can build amps, and repair equipment, and write songs—”
“What about singing?” Brian asks, turning to face John. “Can you sing?”
John goes completely stiff. “I…”
“Who cares if he sings or not?” Freddie says. “John, you play perfectly.”
“Don’t we want a fourth singer? For backups and harmony?” Brian asks the band. “I think it’s pretty important, and well, if you can’t sing, mate—”
“Brian, let it go!” Roger shouts. Your heart sinks at Brian’s words. This is exactly what you’d been fearing. Brian’s so angry, he’s never even going to give John a chance to pass the audition. And it’s all your fault. You were the one who provoked him. And now he’s taking it out on John. You want to bury your face in your hands.
“Am I the only one who thinks it’s important to find another backup vocalist?” Brian asks angrily.
“Don’t fucking nitpick,” Roger retorts. “If this is about Y/N…”
You perk up. Tara presses her hand to her mouth and laughs silently.
“Y/N?” Brian stammers your name. “What does this have to do with Y/N?”
“I don’t know, mate, I’m asking you!” Roger says
“Wait, I thought you’re dating Tara?” Freddie whirls to John. “And I thought you’re dating Y/N?” He throws his hands up in exasperation. “What is going on? Why doesn’t anyone tell me anything anymore?”
“Neither Y/N nor Tara have anything to do with this,” Brian practically growls.
“Really? Are you sure?” Roger accuses. “‘Cause I’m not convinced!”
“Convinced about what?” Freddie shrieks.
“That Brian’s not being a right tart toward John because of what’s going on with Y/N and—”
“Enough, Rog!” Brian yells.
“I swear to all that is holy, if someone doesn’t tell me what is going on this instant, I’m going to have an aneurysm,” Freddie declares.
“Yeah, Brian, what is going on?” Roger says, pointing a drumstick at Brian. “Care to tell the class?”
“Well, why don’t you ask the women of the hour themselves?” John says, calmly but loudly enough to be heard over the other boys’ yelling. They all three follow his gaze over to where you and Tara sit on the bench.
“Hello, boys,” you both say at the same time.
They stare at you and Tara, wide-eyed, and the sudden silence in the room feels somehow even louder than the bickering. No one says anything for a while.
John is the first to break the stillness, pulling his bass off his shoulders and setting it on a stand. He straightens and crosses the room to where you sit.
“Hey, babe,” John says. “Sorry you had to hear all that.”
Funny that John should try to apologize for the others’ antics, when it’s all your fault. You stand as he approaches, smiling up at him. “I got your flowers,” you say and hold up the bouquet, trying not to laugh at how lovey-dovey you’ve made your voice sound. “They’re beautiful.”
John reaches you now. You know—and you know he knows—everyone is watching at this moment. But it takes you completely by surprise when he pulls you close by the small of your back and presses a warm, long kiss to your forehead. It makes your whole body feel like it was just jolted with an electric shock.
“Not half as beautiful as you,” he murmurs. Your face burns. He’d barely spoken the words above a whisper—certainly not loud enough for his bandmates across the room to hear. Gotta work on your volume, bud.
Maybe he hadn’t intended them to hear.
Over John’s shoulder, you see Brian gaping at you, still as a statue, completely at a loss for words. His eyes flit from your face to the huge bouquet of roses in your hand. You can’t hold back a satisfactory grin.
“Hey, where’s my bouquet?” Tara jokes, breaking the awkward moment. Brian’s shoulders sag, and Freddie huffs a sarcastic laugh.
“Okay, boys,” Freddie sighs. “Rehearsal’s over. I decree it.”
Freddie wraps up the chord to his microphone and stashes it on one of the amps. From his drum set, Rog starts tapping out an anxious rhythm, filling the basement yet again with noise. Brian rips the connector from his guitar and turns away to start packing everything up.
“Wanna come see my bass?” John asks, and you nod. He grabs your hand with his and leads you over to the setup at the side of the lounge. He looks down at you and winks—again.
That fucking wink of his is going to be the death of you. Your heart flutters in your chest. John’s got the whole fake boyfriend thing down to a tee. He’s so good at it—maybe too good.
John picks up his guitar and starts doodling around, pointing out the different parts of the neck and body. You pretend to be interested, but you can’t meet his gaze. Feelings of guilt override everything else. You glance over his shoulder at the others. Tara has flitted to Brian’s side, where they talk to each other at a low volume. You strain to hear, but you can’t.
Three things happen.
First, Brian smiles slyly at Tara and unties the headband from his forearm, handing it back to her.
Second, Tara giggles loudly and kisses his cheek, before throwing her arms around him in a full-body hug.
Third, Brian wraps his arms around Tara’s waist, and his eyes meet yours. And it’s almost as if he knew you’d be looking.
Your blood boils red-hot in your veins. Oh, I see what you’re doing, Dust Boy. He’s trying to get back at you. He wants you to see how happy he and Tara are. He wants you to feel bad for provoking him during your fight yesterday.
“You okay, Y/N?” John asks you, his gray eyes full of intensity. It makes you feel even worse, how badly he’s invested in your well-being.
You smile up at him a little. “Yeah. Thank you for the flowers, John.”
He lifts his brows in a devious expression. “Did they…serve their purpose?”
You frown. “Purpose?”
“I’m hoping Brian noticed.”
“Oh.” So that’s why he bought the flowers. He knew it’d make him seem like the world’s best boyfriend…and he knew it’d make Brian jealous. “I…I think he did.”
“Then I’m doing my job correctly. Speaking of which…” John doesn’t look to see if anyone’s watching; he just takes both of your hands in his and holds them up to his lips, kissing the right one, then the left.
Butterflies explode in your stomach. Behind his back, Brian is clearly watching…as are Roger and Freddie.
“I’m free for the rest of today, love,” John says, more loudly now. “Let’s go get lunch together?”
You open your mouth to answer, but Freddie beats you to it, an apologetic grin on his face. “So sorry, John dear, but Y/N has promised herself to me this afternoon.” Freddie snatches one of your hands from John and loops it through his arm like an escort.
John looks confused, so you explain. “Freddie and I are gonna do some catching up. Lots of stories to tell me about your winter holiday, right, Fred?” you say, turning to look at Freddie and giggling with him.
“That’s alright,” John says and smiles. You feel bad, though; he likely had plans in his mind with you, and you’ve clearly burst his bubble. “Will I… Will I see you later?”
“Let’s make it a date,” you say with a wink.
Freddie leads you away and toward the exit. “So sorry you had to hear our little row, darling. We’re all just a bunch of hysterical queens. As if I’m not enough as is for the whole lot.”
“It’s okay, it was entertaining,” you say, patting his arm.
“Fred!” Brian shouts. You and Fred turn around to face him. Brian gestures to all the amps and cases and equipment. “Are you going to help us pack up or not?”
Freddie waves him off. “Eh, looks like you guys got it handled. Besides, that’s why I decided to become a frontman, not an instrumentalist…nothing to pack up.”
“Oh, come on, Fred, let’s go help them,” you urge him.
“I suppose we could go fetch the band van and bring it around to the front…” Freddie pretends to consider. “Oh, silly me, I almost forgot that I don’t know how to drive!”
The other three groan. You hold back a snort. You know Freddie well; usually, he has no qualms about helping everyone pack up all the equipment and load the band van. But he’s the pettiest person you’ve ever met, and you’d bet a hundred bucks he’s being difficult on purpose—just to spite Brian for starting a row.
“Well, will you at least take a stack of flyers?” Roger asks. You nod, and he crosses the lounge to you with a handful of event flyers on red paper. The band’s logo—which Freddie had designed with all of their zodiac signs—is printed at the top, followed by text reading, “The Band Formerly Known As Smile,” as well as the event details, beneath it.
“I’ll give them out to everyone I know,” you tell Roger. He winks at you.
Freddie begins leading you out the door again when Brian shouts out, “Wait! Uh…Y/N?”
You turn to face him once more. “Yes?”
“Do you still have my Imperial College sweatshirt I gave you?” he asks.
“Um, yeah, I think so. Why?”
Brian’s face is impassive. “I need it back tonight. Can I drop by sometime this evening to pick it up?”
A thousand questions whirl in your mind. What’s that supposed to mean? Is he trying to take back everything of his that you’ve accumulated over the years of being friends? Is he trying to make an excuse to come see you? Is he mad at you?
“Sure,” you reply hesitantly. “What for?”
“I need to go out to chart the movement of a couple of stars for a class assignment. I was going to make a trip down to Richmond Park tonight—”
“He’s taking me stargazing,” Tara says wistfully, appearing beside him and clutching onto his arm.
Brian barely skips a beat. “—and it’s supposed to be a bit chilly, so…”
As much can feel your world start to crumble at Brian’s words, you try your best to mirror his stoic expression. “You can pick it up whenever, I’ll be home all night,” you say simply. Brian nods and turns away, and that’s that.
“Aw, I wanna go on a stargazing date!” Roger whines.
“Rog, what about that girl you were steady with?” Tara jests. “Jessica, was it?”
“Nope, that’s long over…”
The conversations fade as you let Freddie lead you up the stairs from the basement and into the main lobby of the rec center. You feel bad about leaving John alone down there…well, alone with a slutty drummer and a mismatched couple with the hots for each other. You’ll make it up to John later.
You and Fred walk outside and into the cloudy London day. “To Shezan’s, then?” you ask Freddie. “I’m buying, remember?”
He clasps his hands together excitedly. “Oh yes! Let’s get going.” The two of you turn right and head down the sidewalk to Freddie’s all-time favorite Indian restaurant.
“So, is that how all band rehearsals go when I’m not there?” you ask, laughing.
Freddie nods. “It’s basically just a big cockfight. But Brian’s especially pissy today for some reason. I’m pretty sure he’s on his period. How was your morning so far, love?” He turns to glance down at you, and then dramatically shifts from smiling to frowning. “You know what, never mind, I just remembered I’m supposed to still be mad at you.”
“Freddie!” you laugh, nudging him. “Don’t be mad. I’ll tell you everything. That’s why we’re doing this lunch date, remember?”
He makes a humph noise. “Why am I always the last to know everything?”
You snort. “Freddie, this is literally the first time ever that you’re the last to know something.”
He sulks. You walk in front and turn to face him, making a pouty puppy-dog face. It works; he can’t help but smile.
“Oh, I can’t be mad at you for real, Y/N, you’re too adorable!” He leans forward for a friendly hug, and you giggle, hugging him back. “But you need to spill the tea. Everything. All of it. Now. Spill it!”
“Get me a huge bowl of tikka masala, then we’ll talk.”
Freddie nods knowingly. You grin at him, your anxiety somewhat dissipating. Thank God Freddie’s not mad at you for real. Lord knows you’ll be needing him on your side in the days to come.
It takes about ten minutes of walking to reach the restaurant. The air is frigid today, and the heavy clouds look as if they’re right on the cusp of rain. Freddie rambles about his life, his winter holiday spent with family, a new song he’s been writing, the upcoming gigs Queen will be playing in Cornwall, the various jobs he’s been working to maintain a living wage.
“By the way…” he starts as you and he enter the restaurant. “I told Brian and Roger last week.”
“Told then what?” you ask.
“I told them…you know.”
You frown, confused for a second. But then it hits you. “Oh!”
Freddie nods quickly. “Yeah.”
“Well…how did they react?”
He shrugs. “I tried not to make it a huge deal. They were fine with it.”
You nod understandingly. Freddie had been wanting to come out to his friends for a long time now. “I’m proud of you, friend.”
He squeezes your arm. “You’re not the only one who knows anymore,” he comments with what seems like relief. “But it’s still not…”
“Official. I get it. Your secret is always safe with me, Fred.”
You and Freddie take a seat by the back corner. You set your bouquet of roses on an empty seat and look over the menu. The waiter stops by your table, and you and Freddie order.
“Speaking of secrets…” Freddie looks up at you through his dark eyelashes, a dangerous expression on his face.
You laugh and say, “What?”
“I’m about to explode, unless you tell me in five seconds what the hell has been going on.”
You sigh. “Okay… I don’t even know where to start.”
“Why don’t we start right at the part where, um… I thought you’ve been in love with Brian May for the past two and a half years?”
Right. You take a deep breath. You’ve spent all of last night and this morning thinking through precisely what you want to tell Freddie about your whole Brian/John situation. In order for this to work as planned, you’re going to have to execute your story perfectly, without any holes in the narrative. And depending on how dodgy the accounts Fred’s already heard from Roger is…this could prove to be very difficult.
You only have one shot.
“I still am in love with Brian,” you begin.
Freddie throws his hands up. “I don’t get it. I am… I am completely lost. I don’t understand.”
You narrow your eyes at Freddie. “You haven’t even given me a chance to explain yet!”
“I am going to detonate.”
“Don’t be so dramatic.”
“I’m just impatient!” he whines.
“Oh, trust me, I know you are,” you laugh. Freddie shakes his head, the hint of a smile on his face. “Will you just let me explain?”
“Okay.” You clasp your hands together and look at Freddie directly in the eyes. You must choose your words very carefully. “I still like Brian, a lot. More than a lot. But a lot has happened. And an opportunity presented itself…”
Freddie prompts you to continue with a raise of his dark brows.
“…to date John Deacon.”
“And that helps…how?” he asks.
“…to fake date John Deacon.”
Freddie’s eyes grow wide. Something swells in your lungs—is it relief, that finally someone else knows about the secret you’d been harboring? Is it anxiety, given Freddie’s less-than-admirable history of keeping secrets?
“You mean to tell me you’re fake dating John Deacon?” Freddie says slowly.
He looks around confusedly. “So the flowers, the hugging, all of that was shite?”
“He’s my fake boyfriend.”
“What the fuck does that even mean?!” He looks like he’s about to flip the table. Coming from someone as gentle-hearted as Freddie, the thought makes you want to giggle.
“It’ll all make sense in a second. But—”
“What’s the point of it? I don’t get it?” he insists.
“I told you, I’m about to explain everything! But Freddie…” You glare seriously at him and then drop your voice. “Farrokh Bulsara, I swear to god, if you even so much as think of telling this to anyone, I will come into your apartment and rip out those pretty little vocal cords while you sleep.”
Freddie doesn’t even bat an eye. “Risk-taking, heedless threats… Remind me, Y/N, are you a Scorpio?”
“Hmm,” he frowns. “How uncharacteristic.”
The waiter brings your food by, then, and you immediately begin eating. But Freddie’s frown just deepens as if he’s letting your admission sink in, looking gradually more and more confused.
“I don’t get it!” he says. “I made Roger tell me everything he knows, and all he told me was something about Tinder profiles? I am so confused—”
“It doesn’t matter, okay?” you say, your mouth full of curry and jasmine rice. You’re cautious about going too far in-depth about the nativity of this whole fiasco. The less you can say, the better. But you can tell by the dissatisfied look on Freddie’s face that he’s not going to stop pestering you until he gets the whole story.
“It does matter!” Freddie exclaims. “Why’d you pretend to match with him on Tinder? Something’s not adding up…”
“Freddie, for once in your life, can you just try to live without the nitty-gritty details?” you snap at him.
Freddie just throws his head back and moans like a child on the brink of a temper tantrum. “Come ooooooon, Y/N… You promised you’d tell me everything! You promised.”
You pinch the bridge of your nose. Could it really hurt to just tell Freddie everything at this point?
Yes, it could really hurt. A lot is going to be on the line if you tell Freddie. It would be foolish to wholeheartedly trust him to keep anything a secret…especially from Roger. The two boys are like brothers. Soulmates. They tell each other everything. And Roger’s already blabbed his mouth away…
You can see the worst case scenario so clearly in your mind. Freddie tells Roger, Roger tells Brian. Boom. Your friendship, any chance you’ve ever had with Brian…poof, gone.
If you really wanted to ensure Freddie keeps his mouth shut, you’d hold something against him as leverage. But just the thought of blackmailing your friend like that makes you feel sick inside.
Even when you know exactly the kind of leverage you’d use…the kind that’s in the form of Jim Hutton, senior botany major. Freddie’s secret crush.
It is the absolute worst idea you’ve ever had, and you cast it away yet again. Nope. Never, never, never. You would never do that to him. It’s going to have to be by faith alone that Freddie keeps your secrets.
“Okay, I’ll tell you everything,” you sigh, finally giving in. Freddie perks up immediately. “Settle in, though. It’s a long story.”
You outline everything to Freddie, from the very start, between spoonfuls of Indian food… The godforsaken house party. The way Brian looked at Tara in her stupid red dress. The diner. Brian being a horny dumbass. You being a drunk dumbass. Your stupid fake Tinder/double date idea. The way the stars aligned just so horrendously and matched Brian and Tara on Tinder. John owing you a favor from Government class last semester. Meeting John in the coffee shop. Pretending to match with John on Tinder so he could be your double date. Roger seeing the two of you and misinterpreting it as a real date. Roger confronting you about it in the market, and you stupidly confirming it. Your fight with Brian. Telling John about it. John agreeing to fake date you until you can win over Brian.
Everything, sans the weird sexual tension between you and John. But Freddie doesn’t need to know that.
By the end of it all, Freddie’s rubbing his temples. “You’ve really dug yourself into a hole, haven’t you, Y/N?” he says.
“So everyone but me thinks that you’re dating John?”
“Yup,” you confirm.
“Christ… You want to know what I’m thinking?” he asks.
“That you’re kind of a genius,” Freddie says, grinning.
“What do you mean?”
His grin grows. “It’s a crazy, and I mean a batshit crazy plan… But I think it just very well could work. With Brian.”
Does he mean about winning Brian over? You’re not an idiot; you know it’s very likely the worst masterplan you’ve ever hatched, ever. And you know the chances of things working out in your favor are slim to none. But Freddie seems to think it could work… You’ve come to the right person for help.
“You can’t tell anyone, Fred.”
He nods. “Okay, Y/N.”
“Freddie.” You take his arm and squeeze. “You can’t. Tell. Anyone.”
He pretends to zip up his lips. “Mum’s the word.”
It’s not enough. “Look, I know you and your history of spilling secrets,” you tell him. “This has to be different. I’m trusting you—”
“Oh, ye, of little faith!” Freddie cuts you off. “Haven’t I kept your secret about Brian for years?”
“You’ve only known since that one party last semester,” you say. The one where everyone else had conked out, and you and Freddie were the only ones left awake, sharing secrets over a bottle of wine. Coincidentally, the same party in which Freddie had drunkenly come out to you and confessed his crush on Jim Hutton.
His face twists as he backtracks. “Well, it’s been five whole months and I haven’t told anyone!”
“You haven’t gained my full trust yet.”
Freddie cocks his head. “But you trust me enough to tell me everything you just told me?”
You chew the inside of your cheek. “I trust you…because you’re my friend. But also because I need your help.”
Freddie considers you for a long moment, his brows pulled together, his brown eyes scanning your face. Beneath the table, you cross your fingers in your lap.
“What kind of help?” he asks.
Secrets take a toll on the keeper, but perhaps even more so on the one entrusting others to keep them.
By the end of your lunch date with Freddie, you’re completely exhausted. You drag yourself through your afternoon Argumentative Writing course in a daze and thank your lucky stars when the professor lets everyone out thirty minutes early…only after assigning the first paper, due on Friday.
A nap, you groan internally as you trudge back to your apartment. All I need is a nap.
At least there’s a significant weight off your shoulders. Freddie knows all your secrets now, and he’s vowed to keep them. With his help—and the plan you and he had just devised while at lunch—Freddie will be able to free Brian from the evil clutches of Sister Tara, all while ensuring that John has a fair chance at passing his audition with the band.
Your phone rings—it’s John. He’s gonna want to talk with you about that clusterfuck of a band rehearsal. You don’t think you’re mentally ready to even think about it. And yet, you feel guilty yet again. You accept the call and hold the phone up to your ear.
“There’s a really big man with a teeny tiny puppy in the courtyard, and you have to come see it.”
You smile. “And you thought of me?”
“You gotta come see it,” he says again.
“The courtyard by your dorm hall? Are you there right now?”
“Yes, you gotta come.”
“Okay, goodness,” you say, laughing. John’s enthusiasm is contagious, but you’re on a one-track-mind right now. “As much as I love a good comical size difference, I gotta be honest.”
“I desperately need a nap, I’m so sleep deprived.”
“Oh,” John says sympathetically. “Me too. I was up way too late dissembling this old guitar amp I found. I’ve been yawning all day. What kept you awake?”
Anxiety. Guilt. The overwhelming weight of your mistakes. “My neighbor’s dog.”
He chuckles through the phone. “I can see why you’d want to be nowhere near any dogs,” he says. “I’ll leave you be.”
“No, it’s not that,” you reply, “I’m just so sleepy. I need to go home and crash for a few hours.” You feel nervous again, suddenly needing to apologize to him about what you witnessed at the rehearsal. It’s silly that you feel like you should apologize for Brian’s behavior, but you do feel like it’s inherently your fault that he was being so bitchy to John.
You have Fred now to help mediate, though,
John hesitates before saying, “No pressure, but my dorm’s always open, if you’d like to come crash here while I study. I mean, well, it’s kind of loud, but I have my own room. Granted, it’s kind of out of the way for you…”
“You’re not really making much of a case, are you,” you laugh.
“I’ll let you use my noise-isolating earbuds while you sleep,” he offers.
“My bed is super comfortable.”
“…Okay, I’m sold.”
“Really? You’ll come?”
“Sure.” You smile, despite yourself. “Where do you live again?”
John gives you the name of his dorm hall and directions to get there; it’s directly next to the student union center.
“I’ll be there in five?” you say, yawning.
“I’ll meet you outside the front doors.”
You hang up, and then immediately chastise yourself. What the fuuuuuuck am I doing? Agreeing to take a nap on my fake boyfriend’s bed while he studies? The anticipation of seeing him—of seeing his dorm room, the place where he lives, the bed where he sleeps—is overwhelming.
Okay, calm down. It’s not like you agreed to anything else. You’re just napping. Lord knows you need it right now; the espresso in your system from this morning is wearing off.
Five minutes later, you reach the front of John’s dorm, busy with the comings and goings of undergraduate residents. You spot John standing next to the doors, waiting for you. You notice he’s changed into a cozy jumper and a pair of sweatpants. He smiles with a flash of white teeth and waves.
“There’s my fake girlfriend,” he says, much too enthusiastically.
“Shhh,” you shush him, glancing around. It strikes you as a bit strange just how excited he’s been acting about fake-dating you. You’d have thought he’d be more standoffish about it, if not completely ticked off. Quite the opposite.
He greets you with a hug so warm that you’d be foolish not to reciprocate it. “Thanks for the hug, but no one’s even watching, Deaky,” you chuckle against his chest.
“I know, but you look cold. I see you still have your roses,” he says, gesturing to the bouquet in your hands.
You smile appreciatively. “Where’s this large man with the small dog you mentioned?” you ask, pulling away to look around at the courtyard.
“They left. I know, a tragedy. But look, I took pictures.” He pulls them up on his phone and shows them to you, and you giggle.
“That’s so cute. Do you remember when that weird kid with the rolling backpack tried to convince Professor Frost that his dog ate his take-home quiz?”
John throws his head back and laughs at the memory. “I almost forgot about that!” He looks down at you, still smiling. “Let’s go inside?”
You nod and follow him inside the dorm hall. It certainly is much louder here than the relative stillness of your apartment building; students congregate in groups studying or working on projects, while others play table tennis and video games in the lounge. John leads you upstairs to the second floor and down the hallway.
“Where did you live your first year?” he asks you.
“Southside dorms,” you answer. “They were less hectic than this.”
“Yeah, sorry,” he says, looking back at you sheepishly. “Warned you it was loud here.”
“It’s okay,” you assure him. “I’m sure it’s exciting to live around so many friends.”
“It can be… I kind of keep to myself, though,” John admits. You and he finally reach his room at the end of the hallway. He unlocks the door and pushes it open. There’s a small shared space, comprised of just a cluttered double-sink counter and a bathroom. Two large doors indicate the two bedrooms of the dorm room; one for John, and one presumably for a roommate.
“Who else do you live with?”
John shakes his head with an amused sort of disdain. “I have a flatmate named Paul. He’s kind of a dick, but he’s never really around. This one’s my room,” he says, pushing open the door to the right.
John’s dorm room is different than you’d expected. It’s a spacious layout that he’s adorned with evidence of his various hobbies. A number of guitars in cases lean against the wall, along with various amplifiers, one of which is completely dismantled, revealing an open circuit board and wires.
“Is that the amp you’re fixing up?” you ask him.
“Yeah. I’ll need to replace a couple of parts, but once I do, she should be like new.”
“That’s really cool,” you say. He beams proudly.
You keep looking around. John’s desk is clearly an engineer’s desk, inundated with textbooks and half-finished designs on draft paper and all sorts of tools, from graphite pencils to calipers to bow compasses. The white concrete walls are relatively unadulterated, save for a couple of posters of his favorite bands. Everything in John’s room looks as if it has its own designated spot. And the twin-sized bed is neatly made with a navy blue comforter, which beckons to you like an oasis in a desert.
“Make yourself at home,” John says. He throws his stuff down in the corner and kicks off his shoes. You follow his lead and do the same, trying but failing to suppress a yawn. John notices and snickers.
“Bed’s all yours,” he says. It’s all the permission you need, and you groan in gratitude and let yourself sink down onto his comforter. He was right; the bed is extremely comfortable.
“You’re a godsend,” you say with another yawn. John takes out his laptop and settles at his desk while you stretch out and make yourself comfortable. It’s the first chance you’ve gotten all day to lie down and relax, and it feels great. Exhaustion threatens to overcome you, but you need to talk to John.
“So this morning was kind of crazy, wasn’t it?”
John snorts, his eyes illuminated by his computer screen. “It was certainly…something else.” He looks up and draws his eyes to yours. “What…?”
“What all did he say to you?” you ask. You don’t even need to specify who he is. “Before I got there.”
John sighs deeply. “I could tell he was holding back. I get that the bloke’s picky, musically speaking, but he was picking me apart. ‘Your A-string seems a bit flat, mate.’ ‘Can we bring the bass volume down a little?’ ‘Maybe you shouldn’t dance around so much.’” He scoffs.
“He didn’t yell at you or anything, did he?”
“Only at Roger and Freddie.” He scrutinizes your face. “Let me guess. You’re feeling guilty.”
Your face crumples in a grimace. “It’s because it’s my fault.”
“Your fault?” John shakes his head. “It’s not your fault.”
“You warned me,” you say miserably. “You warned me that Brian might get upset and take it out on you. And I didn’t listen.”
John purses his lips. “Wasn’t anything I didn’t sign up for.”
“John, you didn’t sign up for anything!” You groan and flip onto your stomach, hiding your face. John’s pillow smells like his skin. “I didn’t ever mean for Brian to get pissy at you.”
John stands and sits at the edge of his bed next to your sprawled legs—just the way he had done yesterday on your bed. “I know you didn’t, love,” he says. The stupid pet name makes your stupid heart do stupid flips. “But I agreed to help you. Even if that means taking the blunt end of the stick.”
“How is that fair to you?”
“I think it’s fair,” he says. “Look, I’ve had some time to think about it. And if I can help a friend in need end up with the love of her life by being her fake boyfriend… Well, then, I’m going to be the best fake boyfriend this world has ever seen.”
You are, and that’s the problem.
“Don’t feel bad, Y/N, because I want to help you,” he adds.
You still hide your face.
“Hey. Look at me.”
He taps your ankle twice. When you finally peek out, his eyes are warm. They search your face before trailing down and up the rest of your body, a small smile on his lips. A pleasant shiver runs down your spine.
“It’s okay,” he whispers.
“But what if Brian hates you?” you whisper back. “What if he tries to cut you from the audition?”
“Brian doesn’t hate me, I don’t think,” John says. “I think he’s just frustrated and jealous and he’s just…taking it out on me.”
You grimace. “I’m sorry, John.”
“I’m not!” He shakes his head. “I think we’re in a good place. Frustrated and jealous. Isn’t that what we wanted?”
“Well, Can you admit that me being your fake boyfriend is helping make Brian jealous?”
“Okay, can you at least admit now that there’s a pretty high chance that Brian secretly likes you back?”
You think back to your text conversation with Brian, to the phone call that kept you up too late last night. To the furtive glances at your bouquet of roses, to the strange request to retrieve his sweatshirt from you tonight.
“There’s a chance.”
“Alright.” He pats your ankle again but keeps his hand there. “Then I’ll keep doing my job, if you keep doing yours.”
“What’s my job?” you ask.
He doesn’t skip a beat. “Being beautiful and making boys jealous.”
His gaze remains intense, even as his smile fades. Your breath catches in your throat. There’s a dark undertone to his words that you can’t even begin to decipher.
“John,” you whisper. His hand on your leg feels electrifying.
“I can’t tell if you’re being really sweet to me on purpose, or if you’re just method acting.”
“You know… Staying in role, even when the camera’s off.”
His eyes glimmer. “It’d be pretty hard not to be sweet to you, Y/N.”
The tension. It’s back. John’s gray eyes don’t release you, but you’re a willing captive. Nothing could break this moment…
Nothing but a big, fat, horrendously-timed yawn.
John laughs at you endearingly, You turn your face away, embarrassed, but you laugh with him. You swear you feel the hand on your ankle squeeze a little before he pulls it away and stands up.
“No, you made me yawn!” John says, his mouth opening wide. You giggle at him. “You need to sleep,” he declares.
“Looks like you do, too.”
“Can’t. I have homework. Do you want some water?”
“No, that’s alright,” you say, but he’s already crossing to the bathroom sink with a plastic glass. He holds it under the faucet; you smirk when he looks at his reflection in the mirror impulsively runs a hand through his fluffy hair.
“Here you go.” He returns and hands you the glass. You smile in appreciation and take a sip. “Now, sleep. Goodnight.”
“John, you look pretty beat yourself. Are you sure you don’t wanna…”
He shakes his head. “I wish, but I have a lot to do. Besides, you’re using the bed.”
“Right.” What were you even thinking?
“Oh! I almost forgot.” He reaches in a drawer beside his desk and pulls out a pair of earbuds. “They’re noise-isolating.”
“How does it work?”
“Well, you just put them in your ears… Don’t worry, I cleaned them,” he laughs when you take the earbuds. You situate them in your ears, and immediately, all the sounds of the room vanish.
John smiles and mouths something that you can barely hear.
“What’d you say???” you shout, just to be silly.
John cringes at your voice and pulls out one earbud, cackling his lovely John laugh. “They work pretty well, don’t they?”
You nod and take the earbud back. “I’m going to take the fattest nap.”
“You can plug them into your phone and listen to music, if you want.”
“That’s okay. I’m too tired.”
“Sleep well,” he says, settling down again at his desk. You re-adjust both earbuds and roll onto your side. Except, for whatever reason, your brain finds the back of John’s head too intriguing. So you roll onto your other side, facing the wall, shut your eyes, and let your exhaustion overtake you.
You wake up a total of three times over the course of your afternoon nap in John Deacon’s dorm room.
The first time, you stir awake with a sudden shudder. The temperature of John’s room has grown so frigid, and the skin of your arms is covered with goose flesh. You shiver again and huddle into a ball. You have no way of knowing how much time had elapsed, but you get the sense it wasn’t any longer than fifteen minutes.
“John?” you call out, taking out the earbuds. The gentle, unamplified sounds of a bass guitar fill the room. You crane your head to look around for him. He’s sitting at a stool at the other side of the room, facing slightly away from you and gently plucking on a guitar. But he wears a pair of headphones, which are set up to his amp.
So much for doing his homework. His fingers move across the frets gracefully, deliberately, and yet as if each fingering is completely new. His profile is turned slightly, so you can see the gentle frown of concentration on his face while he plays.
He’s so beautiful. How had you spent so many months sitting beside him in Government, or across a table from him in the library, without coming to realize just how ethereally beautiful he is?
You’re so cold. You have half a mind to crawl under the comforter, instead of laying atop it. But the idea of getting between the sheets of John’s bed is so strangely intimate that you immediately veto the idea.
You huddle up and shiver again, your eyes about to drift closed again…when you hear a small sound from John. He’s…humming. It’s so faint that you can barely hear, but the humming grows a little louder as John seems to get more comfortable with the tune. You don’t recognize it at all, but John’s voice is a subtle, lush baritone.
Smiling to yourself, you let the sound of John’s gentle voice carry you back to sleep.
The second time you wake up from your nap, your consciousness is muddled; you’d clearly been asleep for much longer this time. You feel a gentle pressure in your palms, and when your eyes flutter open, you’re looking straight at John crouched beside the bed.
He carefully removes the earbuds from your ears. “Sorry to wake you,” he murmurs, holding both your hands in his. “You’re shivering.”
You groan softly. His hands are a stark contrast to your frigid ones, which almost tingle with the heat radiating from his skin. You’re so cold, and he’s so warm. In your reduced state of consciousness, it’s all you can think about.
“You can get under the covers,” John says. You don’t object. With his help, you shimmy yourself under the covers, too sleepy to care about how weird it might have seemed before. His sheets smell clean and feel warm.
“Aren’t you tired?” you mumble.
He smiles with his eyes. “Yes, but that’s okay.”
“You can nap, too.”
“But I offered the bed to you,” he says. “I’m not going to kick you off.”
Your eyes still feel heavy, and you can’t keep them open. “You don’t have to, I can make room.”
He chuckles at you. “You’re silly.”
“‘M serious.” You grasp for his warm hand and pull it weakly toward you.
“You… You wouldn’t mind?”
You’re too tired to say anything; you just scoot your body closer to the wall. John deliberates for a minute before finally giving in. He climbs on the bed, the mattress shifting under his weight, and pulls the covers on top of him. His body heat radiates under the comforter, and you lean closer to him against your better judgment.
Ahh, warmth. You turn on your side and settle in once more, but not before glancing at John. He lays on his back, as close to the edge of the mattress as possible. He’s staring up at the ceiling, his expression somehow relaxed and alert at the same time.
“Nap now, homework later,” you whisper. He glances down at you and smiles.
“Later,” he agrees, closing his tired, gray eyes. You close yours, too.
You dream this time. In your dream, you’re standing in the middle of the road next to the college library. Except the road is still—no cars, no pedestrians—and shrouded by a thick fog. You’re alone, and when you call out, your voice becomes lost in the mist. You don’t know which way to turn. Suddenly, a figure appears in the distance, but you can’t make it out. You stride toward it, but you can’t tell who it is. It’s a man, a man with long, dark hair.
You shout John’s name, but the man doesn’t respond. You shout Brian’s name. Nothing. At last, the figure steps closer, and the face that materializes is Freddie’s.
“You’ve really dug yourself into a hole, haven’t you, Y/N?” he says, an echo of exactly the words he’d told you earlier today, and his voice rings out through the fog.
The third time you wake up, you’re not cold at all anymore. In fact, you’re quite hot.
* It doesn’t take long before you realize the source of the heat. John is no longer curled up at the opposite edge of the mattress. Instead, he’s pressed up against you now. His arm is draped over your chest, and his breath is hot on your neck.
You whisper his name in surprise, but he doesn’t move. He’s fast asleep, you realize. His skin is sweltering against yours, and although the covers have been cast off during your sleep, you’re now almost too hot. Though not uncomfortably so.
Despite John’s warmth and the addicting scent of his skin, you attempt to shift away from under his arm and toward the wall. You want to avoid any awkwardness when he wakes up. But your movement stirs him anyway. He immediately reaches back out for you, his hand grasping your waist. He hugs your body, his whole torso flush against your side.
You gasp at the sensation of his groin against your backside. You’re definitely awake now. But he’s not. A thin sheen of sweat coats the small of your back. His grip on your waist is strong and sure, despite that he’s asleep. You couldn’t move away if you tried…
Not that you want to.
John’s lips part and a breathy sigh escapes him. You’re terrified of waking him up, of the humiliation that would ensue from both parties if he opens his eyes to this. So you attempt once more to shift your hips away from his…
He grasps you again and brings his pelvis back against yours, clinging to you like you’re his life support. He’s…he’s hard, you realize. His sweatpants do nothing to mask it. You can feel all of him pressed between your thighs.
You exhale shakily. That didn’t work at all. What do I do now?
If you really wanted to move, you still could pry his fingers from your waist and roll away. But the jostling of the bed would surely wake him up.
And you don’t want to move. John’s hot breath fanning out over your chest, his body against yours…it’s doing more to your own body than you’re willing to admit.
But you can’t admit that. You resolve to push him off and not let this go any farther.
Until he moves again, grinding against you ever so softly. Another low, involuntary moan comes from his throat. At the end of his breath, you hear a simple word from his lips.
It’s so quiet, you think at first you imagined it. But it happens again… the gentle buck of his hips, followed by your name in a low moan.
A tremor of heat overtakes your stomach, right down to your core.
He’s dreaming about me.
The idea of his name on your lips like this is so intimate, so…sensual…and paired with the carnal bucking of his hips, his erection rock-solid between your thighs…
Wetness pools at your entrance. Each time John moves, his cock seems to rub against it. There’s a low ache deep inside of you that you haven’t felt in a while.
Despite your better judgment, you arch your back and press into John’s hips—a small movement—just once. He responds with a low growl that you can feel reverberating in his chest against your back. His cock twitches. Your breath rushes in with a sharp inhale. Sweat beads on your forehead. You’ve never felt this hot before in your life…in both senses of the word.
But it’s wrong. You shouldn’t move. You should stop John before it goes on any longer. He’s asleep, and he’s your friend…or fake boyfriend, or whatever. This should not be happening… Fake boyfriends and fake girlfriends do not fake dry hump each other.
No, this is real, and it’s happening now.
And if you make him stop, he’ll wake up to find himself grinding against your ass. There’s no way you could pretend to have slept through it. He’ll be humiliated. And things will never be the same again.
You gasp again when John thrusts against you harder this time. The bulge in his pants is literally pulsing and radiates a moist heat. Your body screams at you to press harder against him, aching for friction. But your mind screams at you not to move a muscle. You are so frustrated in so many different ways that you sigh out a high-pitched moan. He seems to hear it in his unconscious state.
“Feels so good,” John mumbles. It feels strange to not say anything back, but you have to be quiet. Every contact point between your body and his feels like an explosion of desire and tension. Your shirt has ridden up your waist, revealing a small sliver of skin. His fingers find it and dig into the softness of your belly, seeming to try to pull you even closer. Your own fingers yearn to move as well, to travel down your tummy and under the hem of your pants…
No. Do not go there.
John’s ministrations seem to intensify. His breaths become shallow and rapid, a low moan on nearly every exhale. His hips thrust deeper and longer. You have absolutely no idea what to do. As much as your body betrays you, your mind is on high alert. What’s going to happen when John finally wakes himself up from this wet dream…his crotch inevitably sticky?
It can’t happen. You have to wake him up.
John buries his face in the nook between your neck and your shoulder. A shuddering moan comes from his throat. You need to wake him up now. You pinch the skin of his forearm—hard.
John gasps a huge intake of air, his body jolting awake. You lie motionless and close your eyes, feigning sleep. John props himself up to a sitting position, panting. The sudden loss of body heat, replaced by a rush of cool air against your sweaty skin, is jarring and miserable.
“Fuck,” he curses between gasps. You don’t need to look at him to know he’s uncomfortably, undeniably aroused.
As are you.
You continue to breathe in a slow, rhythmic pattern. John spends a few minutes trying to calm his heaving pants, as you try to ignore the pulsing ache in your core.
Slowly, as to keep from waking you, John rolls out of bed and crosses to the door. It creaks open, and then closed. And then you’re alone.
And you let your hands sneak low, beneath the hem of your pants, beneath your underwear.
You’re so incredibly wet. Letting your fingers become covered in the slick that drips from your entrance, you press hard against your clit. Oh, fuck. Your hips jolt upward reflexively. The ache low in your stomach glows with warmth at the pressure.
Biting your lip to stay quiet, you add friction. Your fingers move in a familiar circular pattern with a mind of their own. You have no idea how long John intends to stay in the bathroom…but you simply cannot help yourself. But from all of John’s grinding and the hot, breathy moans of your name on his lips, you’re already so close to release.
And it sneaks up on you, every muscle tensing, a dazzling array of stars bursting behind your eyes. You turn and bury your head in John’s pillow, unable to help the animalistic noises that emit from your throat. It takes every ounce of effort to keep them as quiet as possible.
There’s no time to let yourself recover. You pull your hand out from between your legs and resume the exact position John had woken to see you in.
And just in time. The door opens again, and John comes in. You keep your eyes shut and pretend, yet again, to be asleep. But an aftershock betrays you. Your body quivers with a delayed wave of pleasure.
Please don’t be looking, please, please, please.
** You hear the opening of a drawer, the shifting of clothes. Meanwhile, you focus on your breathing, trying to keep it steady and deep—the way a sleeping person’s breathing would look.
Minutes pass. Then, you sense John approaching the side of the bed. He crouches, and then—-ever so gently—caresses your cheek. You pray that he can’t see how rapid your pulse still beats in your throat. He touches your face with a feather-light pressure for a little while, and then his hand moves to stroke your hair. Gently at first, and then with more insistency.
“Y/N,” he murmurs quietly. He’s trying to wake you up. You stir a little and roll onto your stomach, pretending to resist being awoken.
John chuckles. “Y/N, love, it’s time to wake up.”
“Mmmm.” You feel sore, and you ache in a different way; with relief, not desire.
“Sleepy girl,” John says under his breath. He brushes your hair from your neck, and his fingers linger on the soft skin there. Your pulse is still racing. There’s no way he can’t feel it.
“Y/N,” he says again. You sigh and turn to face him, resting your other cheek against the pillow. “You’ve been sleeping the afternoon away.”
“How long,” you mumble, eyes still drooping. You should win an Academy award for this stellar performance.
John checks his watch. “Just a few hours”
“Mmmmmmmm.” You stretch your body and bury your face again. John laughs softly again.
“If you keep sleeping, you’ll never get any sleep tonight.”
“Did you sleep?”
Does he know you were awake? Does he know you…finished the job?
The thought makes you feel warm all over again.
“‘M up,” you say, forcing yourself to sit up properly. John smiles, pats your knee once, and stands up straight.
“Sleep well?” you ask him.
He just nods. “Did you?”
You nod, too. He goes to grab his sneakers from the corner of the room.
“I’m going to get dinner. Want to come?”
So he’s just going to pretend like nothing happened, is he? You’re so frustrated, you could yell. So much just happened. So much just changed.
And he has no idea. Because he was asleep. And he thinks you were sleeping, too.
“No, I should probably get back home. Thanks for letting me crash here, though.” You stretch again and remake John’s bedsheets and comforter. You move slowly to put your shoes back on and gather your backpack and the bouquet of roses.
“Want me to walk you down?” John asks.
“No, that’s okay. Thank you anyway.”
You make for the door, but your name from John’s voice stops you. “Y/N.”
“Yes?” You turn to face him. John stares at you with an expression of yearning. As if he desperately wants to tell you something. As if he doesn’t want you to leave.
“Never mind,” he whispers.
The next thing you know, you’re hugging him. No words are shared. You revel in the way he wraps his arms around you and makes you feel so small. You can hear the steady beat of his heart in your ear pressed against his chest…and the way it accelerates when you hug him tighter.
Finally, you pull away. “Bye,” you whisper with a small smile and head out the door.
You exit John’s dorm room and step into the hall, exhaling a shaky breath. So much has happened today. You can’t muster up the energy to mull it all over. All you want to do is go home, make a microwave brownie, maybe start on your two papers due Friday, and try not to think about Brian coming over later to take his Imperial sweatshirt back from you.
You go down the stairs and toward the exit when you’re stopped by the RA at the front desk. “Do you live here?” he asks.
“No, I’m just on my way out,” you say quickly, trying to leave before you can get in trouble. You’re not supposed to be in the dorm unaccompanied by a resident.
“Y/N, is it?”
You frown and finally look up at the RA. It’s Jim Hutton.
“Jim?” you say. “You live here?”
Jim nods. He’s a handsome guy, with a bulky frame, dark hair, and the beginnings of a mustache that would look horrible on any other college kid and yet suits him well. His eyes are kind as he smiles up at you from the desk.
“It’s been awhile,” he says. “Since the—”
“The Halloween party,” you finish his sentence. You and he had first met this past October at a costume house party. You’d known about him for months, though—he had been all Freddie ever talked about. “Yeah, I remember. I didn’t know you were an RA?”
“Yep, second floor.”
You start. “Is John Deacon one of your residents?”
“Yes, in fact,” Jim chuckles. “How’d you know?”
“I was just hanging out with him. He’s my boyfriend.” The word slips out of your mouth with absolutely no hesitation.
Jim just nods again, understandingly. “How’s your friend Freddie Bulsara, by the way?” he asks.
You feel giddy at the thought that Jim asked about Freddie. Freddie will scream of excitement when you tell him. “He’s doing fine! Busy as always.”
Jim gives you a curious look. “Well, tell him to reach out and say hi sometime! Haven’t heard from him in a while.”
Poor Freddie. For somebody so flamboyant onstage, he can be painfully shy when it comes to people he has a crush on. “Tell you what,” you say, casting off your backpack and reaching inside. You pull out one of the red event flyers Roger had given to you. “This Friday, Freddie’s band is playing a gig. You should come.”
Jim looks at the flyer with a twinkle in his eye. “I’ll try my best. Thanks, Y/N!”
You nod and bid Jim farewell, feeling good. For all the work Freddie’s going to be doing helping you with your love life, it’s the least you can do to help with his.
It’s past eleven p.m. and Brian still hasn’t texted or called about retrieving his sweatshirt.
Sighing, you put your phone down and stare at a blank Word document on your laptop screen. The inspiration to begin writing this essay simply will not come, not even fueled by a microwave mug brownie and a long, hot shower. You can barely concentrate, anyway.
You glance at the chair beside your desk, where you’d draped Brian’s sweatshirt. It’s a heather blue color with a drawstring hood and the Imperial College London crest sewn on the front. You can’t help yourself from reaching for the sweatshirt again and bringing it to your face. It still smells of Brian, even after the months you’ve had it.
It had been early November, just on the cusp of winter. Freddie had invited his closest friends over to his flat for a night of board games and laughter before the grind of finals studying began. You’d walked back with Brian and Roger, and you’d forgotten a jacket. You’d only shivered once before Brian offered his sweatshirt to you without any preemption. And you’d never given it back.
It pains you more than you’d care to admit to have to give it back now.
But is he even coming? Or has he already gone on his idyllic little stargazing date with Tara?
But you hear a knock at the front door. Frowning, you set your laptop down on your bed and roll off to answer it. He hadn’t texted that he’s coming up or anything. Carrying the sweatshirt, you open the door for Brian.
“Hey,” Brian says with a tight smile. Or…nervous?
“Hey, here it is,” you say tersely. You hold out the sweatshirt. He just looks at it, but doesn’t take it.
“Are you busy?” he asks.
“Umm, kind of. Not really.” You’re still holding out the sweatshirt. “Why? I thought you were going stargazing with Tara.”
“Tara’s not coming,” he says tersely. You frown. Did she stand him up or something?
“Sorry to hear…” You shake the sweatshirt a little, prompting him to take it. He finally does. “Well, if that’s all you need—”
“I’m taking you instead,” he says. “Right now.”
✧・ﾟ:* ✧・ﾟ:* ✧・ﾟ:* ✧・ﾟ:* ✧・ﾟ:*
And now…some bonus Queen boys pics that gave me serious MOTH vibes!!!
fuuucccc me up
LOOK HOW HOT THEY BOTH LOOK
FREDDIE bein so sweet
Freddie luvs deaky!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! uwuwuwuwuwuwuuwuwu