Chapter 1: Exit Wounds
London, England, June 1974
“Mamma mia, here I go again! My my, how can I resist you? Mamma mia, does it show again? My my, just how much I've missed you. Yes, I've been broken-hearted, blue since the day we parted. Why, why did I ever let you go?” -Mamma Mia, ABBA
Brian had noticed Freddie seemed off ever since yesterday. It was just the two of them in the flat for the weekend; John had been invited to stay with Veronica’s family and Roger had gone home to visit his mum.
It wasn’t that Freddie seemed like he was ill; it was just that he’d gotten quiet. Brian often found him staring off into space. Honestly, he assumed it was Freddie’s anxiety acting up, it usually did when Freddie didn’t have anything to distract himself with, but when Brian suggested they head to the pub Freddie had vehemently shook his head.
Yeah, Brian thought. Definitely anxiety.
A little part of him wanted to ring Roger and ask him what to do; he always seemed to know how to help Freddie’s anxiety. But no, Freddie was his friend too, he could handle it.
Still, it was worrying when Freddie, his sweet, bubbly Freddie, barely spoke.
“Flat’s looking messy,” Brian said and indeed it was. There were take-away boxes everywhere, dirty plates and glasses piling up and all their beds were unmade. The floor was so grungy it made his nose wrinkle. They’d been lax ever since they got back from their tour. “Help me clean it?”
Freddie nodded, still not looking at him, seemingly barely hearing him. Sighing, Brian went in search of the cleaning supplies.
(Bloody good thing he did too, or he was willing to bet Freddie would have stayed quiet until his scent gave him away.)
Cleaning the living room and kitchen passed without incident. It wasn’t until Brian went to clean the bathroom that the world seemed to tilt on its axis.
“Fred, can you bring me the broom?” he called, as he emptied the waste-paper basket into a bin bag. He heard Freddie give a sharp, horrified gasp.
“Wait, Bri darling, I’ll clean in there!”
His shout and hurried footsteps startled Brian into dropping the bag, and the trash spilled out onto the floor-
And among the tissues, the empty toothpaste containers, make-up wipes and toilet rolls, was a pregnancy test.
It was positive.
For a moment, Brian quite forgot how to breathe. He could only stare at the test and think Oh my God, what the hell? before his stunned gaze slowly went to Freddie. His friend was standing in the doorway, eyes wide with terror; one hand covered his mouth as he took slow, deep breaths, like he was trying not to vomit. The other hand was pressed down on his stomach, his flat stomach that wasn’t going to stay flat for long.
It all clicked.
Freddie hadn’t brought anyone home, or stayed the night with anyone- how could he, when the world took one look at the mark on his neck and thought he was taken? There was, by all logic, only one person he could have slept with.
Brian and Deacy had both been away a month ago…
“So I wanna know, what's the name of the game? Does it mean anything to you? What's the name of the game? Can you feel it the way I do? Tell me please, ‘cause I have to know. I'm a curious child, beginning to grow.” -The Name of The Game, ABBA
Freddie wasn’t really sure what the trigger was. It just...Sort of happened.
Roger was his friend, Roger was his best friend. If there was ever a moment when Freddie thought Will we...? Are we going to...? What if...? it could be put down to the fake-dating confusing his instincts. The mixed scents were just causing some confusion. That was all.
But as they were dancing they ended up practically pressed flat against each other. Roger’s hands went to Freddie’s hips as they had a thousand times before. Nothing new, Freddie told himself. No biggie.
Except the way Roger was looking at him was new.
For a moment, time seemed to slow. For a moment that felt like an hour, they stared at each other, and Roger’s eyes flicked to Freddie’s mouth and- oh.
Roger’s thumb brushed over Freddie’s lips and the next thing Freddie knew, they were kissing.
He could blame it on the alcohol. They were both drunk, that was it.
(Though they weren’t that drunk at all, who was he kidding? Not himself, not really.)
“Let’s go home,” Roger said and Freddie nodded.
“I'm falling through the doors of the emergency room. Can anybody help me with these exit wounds? I don't know how much more love this heart can lose, and I'm dying, dying from these exit wounds. Wounds, when they're leaving, the scars you're keeping. Exit wounds. When they're leaving, the scars you're keeping.” -Exit Wounds, The Script
“He’s going to hate me,” Freddie sobbed and Brian’s heart just broke.
“No he won’t,” he said, hugging Freddie tighter. “He’d never hate you, Fred, never. ”
They’d long since moved to the sofa; as the whole story came pouring out, Freddie had burst into tears- so here they were, with a secret that seemed impossible to believe, and Freddie sobbing onto Brian’s shoulder.
He just couldn’t wrap his head around it. He hadn’t noticed anything different between them.
“Have...Have you talked about it?” he asked hesitantly, certain he already knew the answer- and sure enough, Freddie shook his head.
“You have to, Freddie.”
“I know,” Freddie mumbled, mopping at his eyes. “Sorry for the waterworks, darling.”
“Don’t be daft, I reckon you deserve a good cry.”
Freddie laughed weakly, but almost instantly drooped again.
“I don’t know what to do,” he said.
“If you want me to be here when you tell him,” Brian began, but Freddie was already shaking his head.
“I can do it,” Freddie said, but he didn’t sound so sure.
Brian got it. This...This changed everything. Sure, there’d been moments when he wondered, when he thought that they were maybe a bit too convincing...There had been times when he wondered if they’d get together after all, but- but he hadn’t really considered what would happen if they did.
But they weren’t together, were they? They’d had sex and then didn’t talk about it.
And now Freddie was pregnant and panicking.
It wasn’t exactly what Brian would call a relationship.
“My parents are going to kill me,” Freddie mumbled, tilting his head back and closing his eyes.
“...You’re keeping it then?” Brian asked gently.
Freddie shrugged, eyes still closed. “I...I don’t know. Maybe. I think so.” His hands went to his stomach, pressing down harder and harder, like he was trying to feel the baby out, like he was trying to find it. “I don’t know,” he repeated.
“We’ll be there whatever happens, you know that, right?” Brian tugged Freddie back against him, tucking Freddie under his arm. “It’ll be alright, Fred. This is Roger we’re talking about. He’d rather die than hurt you, you know that.”
That finally seemed to help; Freddie relaxed, sagging against him.
“Right,” he said. “It’s Roger.”
Which, of course, was when the front door slammed open and Roger came sauntering in.
“Hey,” he said brightly- but when he got a good look at them, when he saw the obvious tear tracks on Freddie’s cheeks, his smile vanished. “What’s wrong?” Just like that, he was on the sofa with them, on Freddie’s other side, grabbing Freddie’s hands. “Fred? What happened, are you okay?”
Freddie looked at Brian, and Brian took the hint.
“I’ll leave you to it,” he said, hauling himself to his feet. Before he left, he squeezed Freddie’s shoulder. “Call me if you need me,” he said and headed off to his room.
Just before he closed his door he heard Freddie say, “I have something to tell you.”
Please Rog, Brian thought- no, prayed. Please, for once, keep your cool.
Chapter 2: Me, Myself And Time
Roger and Freddie have an overdue discussion...
Hm, how's Roger gonna take it guys?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Say my name and everything just stops. I don't want you like a best friend; only bought this dress so you could take it off, take it off (ah, ah, ah). Carve your name into my bedpost, ‘cause I don't want you like a best friend. Only bought this dress so you could take it off, take it off.” -Dress, Taylor Swift
It happened nearly a week before Deacy and Brian went to visit their families. The four of them were lounging in the living room, stuffing themselves with Chinese take-away and knocking back the wine and beer; they had the TV on in the background, it was some news report bitching that an Omega got a government job that “should have” gone to an Alpha.
“Alphas get all the perks,” Freddie snorted, taking another gulp of wine. “That Omega guy’s more qualified, deal with it.”
Which somehow spiralled into a conversation about what perks their dynamics had; it was established pretty fast that Alphas...tended to get the best of everything.
“So Alphas basically run the world,” Freddie said with a drunken wave of his hand. “And Betas can get away with being sneaky and badass if no one’s looking...What do Omegas get?”
There was a brief pause. Roger admittedly drew a blank.
He choked on his beer when Brian snapped his fingers and proclaimed, “You get multiple orgasms!”
Deacy shrieked with laughter and fell off the armchair. Roger desperately tried to get his breath back, unable to believe Brian of all people had said that.
Freddie stared at Brian, but slowly he started to smirk.
“Hm, that’s a good perk,” he all but purred, and-
And it was like something in Roger’s brain short-circuited. His mouth went dry. Something in his brain went Freddie and multiple orgasms and he just- he couldn’t quite get the image out of his head.
He wasn’t blind. Freddie may have been self-deprecating about his looks, but he was a stunner; he knew how to draw people’s gazes just by walking into a room.
But Freddie was his best friend. They were fake dating to keep Freddie safe, not to subject him to more ogling, let alone from Roger.
It was the drink, Roger told himself, trying very hard to not look at Freddie, trying his best to clear his mind of all images and thoughts. It was just the drink.
(But was it really?)
“I'm over my head, and I know it, I know it; I'm doing my best not to show it, to show it. Whatever it takes to be what I was meant to be, I'm going to try. 'Cause I'm living the dream and I know it, I know it. I'm trying my best not to blow it, to blow it, and I know everything will be fine with me, myself and time.” -Me, Myself And Time, Demi Lovato
“Rog, can you please say something, you’re scaring me.”
Roger forced himself to resurface. He blinked hard, shook his head and tried to remember how to breathe.
Pregnant. Freddie was pregnant. Freddie was pregnant because of him, oh God he’d fucked up so badly; how was this keeping Freddie safe? Christ, he was no better than his father, he was no better than Prenter.
“I’m sorry,” Freddie mumbled and that finally brought him back to his senses.
“What the hell are you sorry for?” Roger burst out. Freddie looked exhausted and terrified, tiny enough to snap in half and that just would not do. “Christ, Fred, I’m the one who started this!”
Teary as Freddie was, he rolled his eyes. “It takes two to tango, darling.”
“Yeah, but-” He cut himself off with annoyed growl. “I’m the one who promised to protect you; how is this protecting you?”
“Are you mad?” Freddie asked quietly.
“Not as you,” Roger promised, taking his hand. “I just...I fucked up again.”
“Roggie, look at me.” Freddie didn’t give him a choice in the matter; he took Roger’s face in his hands and made him look. “I could have said no at any time. Did I say no?”
“Well, no, but-”
“Did I try push you off?”
“Did I in any way indicate I didn’t want it? That I didn’t want you?”
“...No,” he was forced to say.
“If memory serves correct I said yes, ” Freddie said, some of his typical fire coming back into his eyes. “So if I catch you beating yourself up over this, I’ll kick your ass, darling.”
Finally, Roger smiled (rather hard to accomplish with Freddie’s hands still squishing his cheeks.) “Sounds counter-productive, Fred.”
“Yes, well, so is sulking.” Freddie let him go, running a hand through his tangled hair and mopping at his tear-stained cheeks. “So...Are we going to talk about this or not? Because I’ve spent the past month thinking you- you hated it, or you thought it was a mistake, and frankly Roger I’ve been terrified you’d hate me for this. So can we please just fucking talk? ”
“Talk,” Roger said. “Right. Okay. I, uh....Fuck, you’re not mad?”
“No,” Freddie said. After a moment, he admitted quietly, “I’m scared.”
“Do you want to keep it?” Roger asked. Freddie shrugged; then he nodded.
“I...I think so,” he said. His hands went to his stomach and he bit his lip. “I mean...It’s yours, it’s not like I’m stuck with someone who’s going to- to hit me or take advantage or insist I stop working. It’s you, Rog, I- I feel safe with you around, you know that.”
He did know that, Freddie had said so before, but it still made him feel choked up. Suddenly feeling overwhelmed again, almost tearful, he pulled Freddie to him, hugging him tightly, burying his face in Freddie’s hair.
“I’ll be there,” Roger promised through gritted teeth. “No matter what happens, I promise I’ll be there.” Freddie clung to him and Roger did his best to stay calm, to keep his breathing slow and even; he blinked rapidly, trying to keep his eyes dry. Freddie didn’t blame him; Freddie didn’t hate him, Freddie wasn’t angry with him.
And God help them, there was a baby in there.
Cautiously, his hand slid down between them to Freddie’s stomach; after a moment Freddie rested his hand on top of Roger’s.
“Think EMI will fire us?” Freddie asked quietly.
“No,” Roger said; after all, they still had a contract. EMI wouldn’t let them go yet- but they wouldn’t make this easy either. He could hear Foster yelling from here, he could feel Sheffield’s condescending attitude from here. He doubted Reid would be pleased either. Christ, Deacy didn’t even know yet. And then there was Freddie’s family, and Roger’s family, even their fans.
It was a lot of people to tell. While he didn’t doubt his mum would be ecstatic, he knew enough about Freddie’s parents to know they’d be furious.
But he wasn’t going to worry about everyone else right now. He was going to focus on Freddie.
“Have you been to the doctor yet?” he asked.
“No,” Freddie said, shaking his head. “I only took the test yesterday.”
Roger licked his lips, feeling suddenly (and perhaps stupidly) shy as he asked, “Can I go with you when you do?”
To his relief, Freddie laughed, snuggling in closer. “Obviously, darling.”
That was one worry off his mind. Because Roger meant it; come hell or high water, if Freddie wanted him around he’d be there.
Because come hell or high water, Freddie was his best friend.
And Roger had promised to be there, he’d promised to protect him. Now that just...extended to their baby.
Their baby. Holy shit. This wasn't how he’d imagined having kids.
For a while they were quiet, both of them still with a hand on Freddie’s stomach. Through the course of their fake relationship they’d developed a few signals, asking silent permission to kiss each other if they felt the situation called for it, or even if they just felt like it.
Like right now. Roger tapped Freddie’s hip quickly, three times. Freddie pulled back to look at him; to Roger’s relief he was smiling. He nodded.
So Roger kissed him, cupping the back of Freddie’s head. It wasn’t a very long kiss, but he felt grounded again when they pulled back, easily returning Freddie’s smile.
“Everything okay?” Brian poked his head around the corner.
“I think so,” Freddie said. Brian’s shoulders sagged his relief as he grinned.
“I’m fearing Deacy’s wrath,” Roger said flatly- but he sure as hell meant it. Freddie may have been protective of Deacy, but Deacy adored Freddie. If he thought for even a second that Roger was screwing Freddie around, there’d be blood.
Typical really, that Freddie and Brian only laughed at him.
“I’m serious!” Roger protested- and his blood actually ran cold when he heard a key in the lock.
Deacy came in, carrying his overnight bag, beaming and humming to himself.
“Hey guys,” he said brightly. “How’s it going?”
“We have some news,” Freddie said with that Deacy-reserved sweetness in his voice; before he could say anything further Roger stood up.
“Bye,” he said abruptly and fled to his room. He’d just locked the door when he heard Deacy yell; “What!?”
And then, sure enough, came the thumping footsteps and the furious shout of, “ROGER TAYLOR, GET OUT HERE!” and then Deacy was pounding on the bedroom door, yelling at Roger to “FACE ME LIKE A MAN!”
Brian and Freddie didn’t come save him; he could still hear those traitors laughing.
And despite it all, Roger felt some of the tension leaving him. They could do this; they had Brian and Deacy, they had each other.
He’d worry about everyone else later.
RIP Roger, Deacy's gonna kill you.
Rog and Freddie haven't gotten everything off their chests; where would be the fun in that? 😉 We have a relationship to develop here!
Chapter 3: Thinking Out Loud
Freddie and Roger have their first checkup (and rather unwillingly break the news to some friends.)
I honestly didn't expect everyone to be into this, I'm so glad you're enjoying it so far 💕 (Though honestly every time I see I've left Jim out of the tags I go to add him out of habit. I almost feel guilty.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“People everywhere, a sense of expectation hanging in the air. Giving out a spark, across the room your eyes are glowing in the dark. And here we go again, we know the start, we know the end; masters of the scene. We've done it all before and now we're back to get some more. You know what I mean.” -Voulez Vous, ABBA
The walk home had been electric, that was the only word for it. The tension kept building and building; it felt like Freddie was receiving an electric shock whenever their hands brushed; he suddenly found himself blushing whenever Roger smirked at him.
The second their front door closed, Roger was on him, pressing him back against the door and kissing him deeply, hands tight on Freddie’s hips, nudging his legs open.
Freddie was all too happy to oblige. Damn if he knew what brought this on, but he wasn’t complaining.
There’d been some times when Freddie wondered, but- well, he figured it was all in his head. Just the fake-dating and scents confusing him. Just the hormones causing some mixed feelings.
But if this was anything to go by, it hadn’t just been him.
Next thing he knew Roger lifted him clear off the ground; Freddie’s legs wrapped around his waist automatically, biting down on a whimper as Roger’s lips went to his neck.
“Rog,” he gasped, and before he could say anything else, Roger pulled back and said, “Bedroom?”
Freddie nodded, already breathless, clinging to Roger as the blond Alpha grinned and carried him down the hall.
“I fall in love with you every single day, and I just wanna tell you I am. So, honey now take me into your loving arms. Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars. Place your head on my beating heart. I'm thinking out loud. Maybe we found love right where we are.” -Thinking Out Loud, Ed Sheeran
It took a little over a week to get an appointment.
Their doctor was a Beta name Tessa Atwood, which Freddie knew was the norm in this sort of job. She was blonde, with a round, friendly face and crooked smile.
As Freddie lay back on the table, she asked, “Comfortable, dear?”
“As I can be,” Freddie said, gripping Roger’s hand tightly. He had to admit it was a little embarrassing to only be wearing a short, paper-thin gown, but what could you do? As she poked and prodded his grip on Roger’s hand tightened- and to his shock, Roger growled.
He looked at his best friend with wide eyes, but Roger seemed equally surprised.
“Er, sorry,” he said to Atwood. “I don’t know what came over me, there. Ignore me.”
But their doctor only smiled, shaking her head. “I’ve seen worse, dear,” she said. “Every Alpha gets more protective during pregnancy, it’s only natural.”
“What’s the worst you’ve ever had?” Freddie asked, suddenly curious.
“Believe it or not, it was actually one young Omega’s older sister. She started accusing me of enjoying...Well, enjoying the examination.” Atwood removed her gloves, doing- well, something with the machines. Freddie didn’t even know what they were called. God, maybe he should have read up on how all this worked, he had no idea what to expect beyond that this would show him his baby.
“Huh,” Roger said blankly. He grinned at Freddie. “You can’t ever accuse me of being dramatic ever again.”
“Oh, shut up, Roggie.”
“Everything looks good,” Atwood interrupted. She pulled the- computer? Was it a computer? It sure looked like one- towards them. “See this here?” She tapped the screen; all Freddie could see was a black and white blur. It didn’t really look like anything. “See this here, Freddie, dear?”
“That’s your uterus, and this…” a few taps of the keys and the screen zoomed in on a little white thing, shaped like a peanut. “This is your baby, right here.”
It was just a little white dot. A little peanut. It didn’t look anything close to a person...But Freddie felt overawed all the same.
“Oh, wow,” he breathed.
Atwood smiled gently. “Congratulations, boys. I’ll give you two a minute, okay?”
Freddie didn’t even bother to nod; he just kept staring at the screen.
The door closed behind Atwood, and Roger exhaled shakily.
“Holy shit,” he whispered. “Fred, that’s our baby.”
It should have scared him. He’d been terrified before. But now he sagged back against Roger, unable to tear his eyes away from that little peanut.
“That’s our baby,” he agreed, still breathless.
Roger slipped an arm around his shoulders, hugging him sideways.
“You’re growing a whole new person,” he said, his voice cracking on a laugh, a stunned, perhaps amazed, laugh. “That’s... Holy shit, Freddie.” He quickly pressed a kiss to Freddie’s temple. “You okay?”
“I’m okay,” Freddie said, and this time he meant it. He didn’t think anything could go wrong right now. He just wanted to keep looking.
Brian watched as John paced restlessly; first their resident Beta had been sitting watching TV with Brian. Then he’d made lunch. Then he’d cleaned his side of his and Freddie’s room. Then he’d gone to buy more milk. Then he kept switching between sitting on the armchair and sitting next to Brian.
And now he was pacing.
“Deacs, they’ll be okay,” Brian said.
“I know,” Deacy said, but he was still pacing, glancing worriedly at the door every few seconds.
Brian rolled his eyes and grabbed the nearest magazine, trying to ignore the continuous pacing. Honestly, the pacing was making him nervous. He’d been calm enough until Deacy started to worry. Maybe worry really was contagious.
Then, finally, the door opened; Fred and Rog were back.
“Are you okay?” Quick as a flash, Deacy was in front of them, holding onto Freddie’s hands. “You’re okay, right? The baby’s okay?”
“I’m fine,” Freddie laughed. That morning he’d still been quiet and nervous; now he was glowing. Maybe it was the Alpha in Brian, but it was a good look on Freddie, he decided.
“How’d it go?” Brian asked, setting the magazine aside, and joining his pack at the door.
“Little over a month along,” Roger said, confirming what they’d already guessed at. “Atwood- the doctor- she says everything’s looking good. “Should be due next February.” His arm was still around Freddie’s waist, Brian noticed.
“And look!” Freddie pulled a little photo from his bag, beaming. “Look, that’s the baby!”
“...I can’t see it,” Brian admitted with an awkward grin. Deacy seemed to have zeroed in on it; he was cooing.
“See this?” Freddie said, pointing to a little white, wriggly shape. “The little thing that looks like a peanut? That’s it.”
“Oh…” Brian’s smile softened into something genuine, he couldn’t help it. “Wow, I- wow.”
“I know,” Roger said, looking at the photo. He couldn’t seem to look away and something in Brian relaxed. Roger was keeping his cool. Roger was genuinely invested.
“You’ve got a little peanut,” Deacy teased, but Freddie’s smile only widened.
“Yes, I suppose so,” he murmured sweetly, and Roger pulled him closer.
“When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, but I'll be there for you when the rain starts to pour. I'll be there for you like I've been there before. I'll be there for you ‘cause you're there for me too.” - I’ll Be There For You, The Rembrandts
The thing was, Mary’s friend Gina’s birthday was that weekend. She didn’t want anything crazy, just a party at home...Though typical of their group, what was meant to be a small party quickly got out of hand.
The girls’ flat was packed. It was a relatively large flat, larger than Queen’s actually, but there was still practically no room to move. Even on the balcony people looked squashed.
John knew that Freddie didn’t intend to let anyone outside Queen know of his pregnancy yet. His scent hadn’t changed much; it was a little stronger, but it could be brushed off as him being in heat. He didn’t want to say anything for at least another month.
“It’s meant to be safer after two months,” Freddie explained before they left the flat, and John was determined to honour his friend’s decision. It would be best to just carry on as usual. It would be best to pretend nothing had changed...But he couldn’t stop himself from checking in on Freddie more frequently than usual- in fact, Freddie was usually the one checking in on him.
And Veronica, his sweet, clever Veronica, noticed.
“Freddie seems happy about something,” she said, sipping her drink. “Like...Really happy.”
“Oh, who knows?” John said in an attempt to be blase- but Veronica and Mary both squinted at him.
And then came the fateful moment. Tracy practically shoved a glass of beer into Freddie’s hands. Freddie took a long sip, still speaking with Brian and Roger- and he froze, looking horrified with himself. His big brown eyes darted around the room and he must have missed Veronica’s curious stare, because he spat the mouthful of beer back into the glass, shuddering. He wiped his hand across his mouth and poured the beer down the sink.
“Oh!” Veronica gasped, eyes wide. She and Mary stared at each other, and after a moment where John swore they were telepathically communicating, Mary’s mouth dropped open.
“No way,” Mary said.
“No way,” John agreed desperately.
“He’s pregnant, isn’t he?” Veronica hissed gleefully. “Oh my God, that’s so cute! How’d Roger take it? It is Roger’s right? Oh, who am I kidding, of course it is, he can’t sleep with anyone else. Are they together now? Why didn’t you tell me!?” She slapped his arm, not giving him a chance to answer- and to his mounting horror, she ran to Freddie.
“...Damn it,” John muttered with a wince.
“He’s pregnant,” Mary repeated, somewhere between shock and awe. “He’s... Are they dating?”
“I...I don’t think so,” John was forced to admit. He frowned into his own beer. “They’re still just friends.”
Mary hummed thoughtfully, frowning at Roger. Freddie shot John a pleading look over Veronica’s head; Roger and Brian looked equally stumped in the face of her rapid questions.
Sighing, John went to them, Mary right at his heels.
“How far along?” Veronica was asking eagerly.
“Only a month,” Freddie said, still looking a little dazed by all the questions.
“Oh, that explains why you’re keeping it quiet,” Veronica said with a nod.
“Ronnie,” John sighed.
“Oh, right, sorry.” She grinned sheepishly, but she still looked excited.
Mary’s smile was more gentle. “You’re okay, Freddie, sweetie?” she asked, pouring him a glass of water.
“I’m fine,” Freddie said, though he gulped the water quickly. “Just...It’s a lot.”
“You’d better be taking good care of him, Rog,” Mary said with mock sternness, waving a finger in the Alpha’s face. Though her eyes were steely, so maybe it wasn’t mocking at all.
“I will,” Roger said; he barely looked at her. His arm was still around Freddie’s waist, as it usually was at these sort of gatherings. They had people to fool after all. But his hand was stretched out, just skimming Freddie’s stomach.
No, they weren’t dating and John knew that.
Maybe he had more questions than he’d initially realised.
Deacy has questions, that's for sure.
Chapter 4: Spread Your Wings
Not everyone's happy about the baby...
What's this? Family drama? Always. For those of you who've been looking forward to the Bulsaras' reactions, I hope I don't disappoint.
On the plus side, at least Paul's pissed off.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
EMI Studios, London, July 1974
“You're the King of The Sleaze, put your money where your mouth is Mister Know-All. Was the fin on your back part of the deal? (Shark!) Death on two legs, you're tearing me apart. Death on two legs, you never had a heart (you never did) of your own (right from the start).” -Death On Two Legs, Queen
Freddie threw up three times that morning; the second he woke up he had to run for the bathroom, then the smell of Brian’s coffee made him sick, then he threw up his breakfast. Sure, he’d expected morning sickness, but this just wasn’t fair.
Add on that they had a meeting with Foster today and his already rubbish mood plummeted. He leaned weakly against Deacy in the back of the van (when Brian had offered him an arm Roger growled, much to Roger’s own embarrassment and Brian’s growing amusement), keeping his eyes shut. They were driving slowly, but he still felt woozy and the passing scenery didn’t help. Best to just shut it all out.
God, he wasn’t looking forward to this. He’d never felt comfortable around Foster or Sheffield for obvious reasons, but ever since that damn nude photoshoot he was constantly on the lookout, alert for their next trick, their next mind game. He knew all too well what they thought of him; they looked at him and saw a toy, not a person, and he was getting more and more worried about what they’d do about his pregnancy. They couldn’t order him to do anything in regards to the pregnancy, but they could make life difficult, he knew that.
Maybe they’d try humiliate him again. Maybe they’d find an excuse to dock his pay again.
He was sure Miami would be fine, if not outright happy, with it; Reid might worry about how he could work like this, but otherwise he’d be fine.
But Foster and Sheffield? If they thought this would cost them money they’d make trouble.
“Okay back there, Fred?” Brian asked.
Freddie could only shake his head, too afraid to open his mouth. He’d managed some toast before they left and he’d like to keep it down, thank you.
“Deacs,” Roger said.
“On it,” was the automatic response; and then there was a cool breeze on his face and he cracked an eye open. Deacy had rolled the back windows down somewhat, still keeping a steady arm around Freddie’s shoulders.
“Nearly there,” Roger said and Freddie nodded again, going through his breathing exercises. Sure, they were for anxiety but he'd found they helped with nausea too.
“The baby hates me,” Freddie mumbled, leaning against the van. “That’s why they’re doing this.”
“It’s just hormones, Freddie,” Brian said; Deacy had run ahead into the studio to find a vending machine. Meanwhile, Roger and Brian hovered protectively.
“Well, the hormones can fuck off,” Freddie said.
Thank God, Deacy came back, practically sprinting, water bottle in hand.
“You’re a lifesaver,” Freddie told him, gladly taking the bottle.
“Slowly,” Roger reminded him. Freddie flipped him off, but did as he was told.
And there was Reid. And Paul was right behind him. Fabulous.
“You deal with them,” Freddie grouched; he turned his head away and kept sipping at the water. Roger edged even closer, slipping an arm around Freddie’s hips, already snarling at Prenter.
“Rog, calm down,” Deacy whispered, though of course it did no good. Roger just kept snarling, and Reid laughed, “What’s with you, Roger?” before he stopped dead, only a few steps away.
“Freddie,” he gasped.
“What?” Freddie said, more surly than he meant to sound.
“Well...Congratulations,” Reid said, blinking rapidly and Freddie’s sagged against Roger.
“Sorry for snapping,” he mumbled; thankfully Reid waved a dismissive hand.
“Hormones,” he said dismissively. “I take it this is why it’s been so hard to get hold of any of you?”
“Correct,” Brian said.
As Reid began to ask questions, Freddie dared glance at Paul- and he nearly laughed out of sheer surprise. He’d never seen someone look so appalled before and he’d seen his grandparents’ faces when he went into heat.
“You’re. Pregnant, ” Paul hissed through gritted teeth. He’d gone white. For a moment Freddie wondered if he’d pass out. His fists were clenched, his eyes were flashing and he glared at Freddie’s (still flat) stomach like it was the most disgusting thing he’d ever seen.
Foster and Sheffield scared him; so did Paul sometimes. A lot of the time actually. But Freddie still knew how to stand up to him.
“That’s right,” he said, forcing some brightness into his tone, steadfastly ignoring his still-churning stomach. He’d seen himself in the rearview mirror, and he looked a mess; he was pale and clammy, his hair was tangled...But he still managed to smile. His hand rested on his stomach, partially out of instinct to protect, partially in the hopes that would somehow help the nausea. It seemed to; he felt a little less woozy and dizzy.
“Yep, he’s pregnant,” Roger said and Freddie had to bite back a laugh again at how smug he sounded. He grinned right at Paul, and Freddie had never seen him smile at Paul before. “Two months along now,” he added sweetly, his hand tightening on Freddie’s hip. Paul was starting to snarl, but Roger’s grin just widened.
Honestly, Freddie was sure that if Paul was on fire, Roger would just sit back and let it happen.
“Everything okay?” Reid checked.
“Just morning sickness,” Freddie said, taking one last gulp of water before closing the bottle. “It’ll pass.”
Reid tutted sympathetically, but Paul just kept glaring. Reid nudged him impatiently, jerking his head at Freddie; Paul took a deep breath before managing a choked “Congratulations.”
“Thank you, dear,” Freddie said
Roger kept his arm around Freddie’s hip as they turned towards the studio and went inside. If anything, as they reached the lift and Reid pressed the button for the fourth floor, he pulled Freddie even closer, shooting a glare at Paul over his shoulder.
“Down boy,” Brian whispered, clearly amused.
Foster clearly wasn’t amused. He took one sniff and his face contorted in an ugly glare.
“Are you kidding me?” he snapped.
“Ray,” Reid said tiredly.
Foster was clearly struggling with his temper. The man had a temper to rival Roger’s; they’d already seen him throw things too many times to count, he yelled at everyone, except those who out-ranked him. The way he spoke to his assistant was disgusting and he was never happy with Queen’s progress for long. No matter how much money they made him, it was never enough in his eyes.
Paul had gone white, but Foster went red.
“You needn't think you’re getting to slack off because of this,” he snapped, clenching his hands together on his desk.
“I won’t need any time off until after they’re born,” Freddie pointed out with forced patience. He was willing to bet whatever paternity leave deal EMI offered would be shit.
“I mean it,” Foster said, voice raising slightly. “No breaks. I don’t want any temper tantrums, or whining; you’re here to work. ”
“I know,” Freddie said; Roger was starting to snarl again; even Brian’s teeth were bared.
“Good.” Foster frowned at Freddie’s stomach again, before rolling his eyes at Roger. “Calm down, Taylor, I’m not touching him am I?”
Roger only continued to glare suspiciously and Foster huffed, running a hand through his hair.
“Right then,” he said, apparently calming down. “So long as this doesn’t get in the way of recording and promotional work, we can work with this.”
Oh don’t do me any favours, Freddie was tempted to snap. Thankfully, that was when Miami arrived.
“Sorry I’m late, traffic was awful,” he said. Freddie watched him, waiting for his reaction as he leaned against Roger. Miami kept babbling about traffic and then suddenly cut off mid-sentence. He stood completely still, sniffing the air. His eyes landed on Freddie.
“Oh!” Suddenly, he looked gentler than Freddie had ever seen him, smiling softly, eyes brightening. “Congratulations, boys. When’s it due?”
“February,” Freddie and Roger said together.
“That’s not too bad then,” Foster cut in.
Roger rolled his eyes; as soon as Foster turned to talk to Reid, Brian mimicked Foster’s facial expressions, contorting his face and mouthing “Blah, blah, blah.” Deacy grinned before he copied him; he scowled, narrowing his eyes and waving his finger mock-disapprovingly, shaking his head.
Freddie pressed his hands over his mouth, desperately trying to bite back a snort; he had to hide his face in Roger’s shoulder.
“Everything okay, Freddie?” Miami asked quietly.
“Oh...Still just a little sick,” Freddie lied. He chanced a glance at his friends; they were both sitting perfectly still and silent as if nothing had happened, though Deacy caught his eye and winked. Smiling, Freddie sat up straight- well, straight enough. He kept his head on Roger’s shoulder.
He only half-listened to the rest of the meeting; they had a photoshoot next week, an interview in a month.
“He’s all better,” Foster said, nodding at Brian. “So we were going to get you to finish your tour…” He frowned at Freddie’s stomach again. “Maybe you can still do the UK, but…” He gave another impatient huff, as if Freddie was being perfectly ridiculous, as if he’d planned this just to annoy Foster. “Well, circumstances being what they are, we’ll think of something. Meanwhile you’d better start thinking of your next album.”
Our last one with you, Freddie thought triumphantly. All four of them were instantly smiling, sitting with more confidence, glancing at each other happily. One more album and they were out of here.
“We’ll think of something,” Roger said; he was clearly fighting to keep a straight face, to keep the sheer glee out of his voice.
One more album and they were free.
His stomach gave another lurch and he tilted his head back, taking a few deep breaths, both hands on his stomach- and he once more caught Paul’s furious gaze. God, if looks could kill…
But it hit him then; Paul couldn’t accuse them of lying anymore. Freddie was pregnant. Who would ever believe Paul now? Foster and Sheffield already believed wholeheartedly that Freddie and Roger were dating, but Paul had tried to prove, time and time again, that they were lying.
But who’d believe him now? Who’d even listen?
“How is this protecting you?” Roger had asked, but to Freddie’s own surprise maybe this did.
“Spread your wings and fly away. Fly away, far away. Spread your little wings and fly away; fly away, far away. Pull yourself together ‘cause you know you should do better, that's because you're a free man.” -Spread Your Wings, Queen
Telling his parents was a mess.
He’d called them to tell them he had some news and they invited him over that Saturday. Of course, Roger came with him. Both of them were nervous; Freddie felt sick and this time it wasn’t from morning sickness. He had no idea how they’d react- actually, no, he had an idea. It wouldn’t be anything good.
Kashmira opened the door, took one breath and just stood there gaping.
“Freddie, oh my God,” she gasped. She glanced nervously over her shoulder; he could hear the telly and even from here he could hear his mother pattering about in the kitchen. Quietly, Kashmira slipped onto the front step with them, closing the door gently behind her. “They’re going to kill you!” She looked at Roger and narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “Listen here, if you think you can just knock up my brother, you can-”
“Kash!” Freddie clapped a hand over her mouth, staring her down. “Excuse you, but I’m the older sibling, in case you forget. Omega or not, I’m a big boy. And no, we’re not engaged, no we’re not dating. Yes, we’re raising it together. That answer all your questions?”
She pushed his hand away, looking a little shamefaced. “Sorry,” she mumbled. “Just...Worried I guess.” She bit her lip and threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly. “I’m happy for you though, I promise.” All the same, she still frowned at Roger. “But how did this even happen? ”
“Well…” Roger was actually going a little pink, awkwardly rubbing the back of his neck. Freddie rolled his eyes, hugging his sister.
“Well, when two adults get drunk sometimes they-”
“I don’t actually want to know!” Kash protested, laughing. But her smile died when she looked back at the house. “Oh, Freddie, they’re not going to like this.”
“I know,” Freddie said, trying to sound confident and failing miserably.
He’d never heard such loud yelling before.
Bomi had taken one look at him and exploded, yelling at him for being so irresponsible, so careless, so dishonourable and so easy- which in turn, set Roger off.
“Lay off him!” Roger yelled, which only turned Bomi’s ire on Roger. They’d been yelling at each other for the last ten minutes- or was it twenty? Freddie had long since lost track of the time. He stood behind Roger, both hands on his stomach, just doing his best to not succumb to the panic attack he could feel building in his chest. His breathing kept hitching unevenly, his hands trembled and his eyes stung. He couldn’t seem to get enough air.
“Papa, stop, you’re frightening him!” Kash finally shouted.
To his shock, that shut Bomi up. Well, it stopped him from yelling, it didn’t stop him from talking.
“I just can’t believe you, Farrokh!” Bomi said sternly, shaking his head. “I always knew you were wild and unruly, but this? What Alpha will want to marry you now? Where do you think you’ll get in life like this? He won’t even marry you!”
“We’re just friends,” Freddie mumbled, still too shaken to even protest the use of his birth name.
“That’s exactly the problem! If he cared as you say, he’d do the honourable thing!”
“Oh for God’s sake, would you shut it? ” Roger hissed. “Hate to break it to you, but it’s 1974! This is England, not Zanzibar! We don’t marry our kids off the second they’re of age, here!”
“What did you just say to me?” Bomi voice was dangerously low and quiet, but it didn’t stay that way; he exploded again. “You dare lecture me? You!? YOU GOT MY CHILD PREGNANT! We trusted you to look after him! You swore you would! You call getting him in trouble looking after him!? ”
“Papa, stop,” Freddie pleaded.
“Be quiet, Farrokh, I don’t want to hear another word out of you! This is disgraceful!”
“You should move back home,” Jer said firmly. “You should stay with us. We can take better care of you than- him. We warned you, didn’t we? You need a nice Alpha, someone that will actually look after you, not- not this. ”
“Mama,” Kash said warningly.
“Actually, Mrs. Patel’s son is around your age,” Jer added brightly. “Sanjay, you remember him? He said he likes your band.”
“Are you kidding me?” Freddie’s voice was flat and dead. “Are you actually serious right now?”
“You’ve run wild since you were a child,” Bomi huffed. Roger edged closer to Freddie, reaching back to take his hand. “We were- mistaken with Dazmen, I can admit that. But you clearly can’t be left alone and we can hardly leave you with such careless people. This- hoodlum won’t take responsibility, your other so-called friends didn’t protect you or your honour! For goodness’ sake, child, don’t you see? You need someone to-”
“Keep me in line,” Freddie finished.
“To look after-”
“To beat me into submission,” Freddie said, voice growing louder. He was still shaking, but for an entirely new reason. “To force themselves on me until I push out a bunch of mini-Alphas for them. To show me off like I’m a pretty little doll.”
“Bāḷaka,” Jer began, but Freddie spoke over her, grabbing Roger’s hand.
“Shut up,” he snapped. “I’m going to talk and you’re going to listen.”
“Don’t you dare speak to your mother like-”
“I wanted it!” Freddie yelled over Bomi. Both his parents jumped in surprise, but Kash came and stood beside him and Roger. “Okay? You hear that? I wanted it! I wanted him to fuck me, does that shock you? I’m not some innocent little virgin, that ship sailed years ago! Hell, we didn’t even have sex the once, it was at least three times!” He turned to Roger. “Three, right? I’m remembering that right?” he checked. Roger nodded mutely, more shocked than Freddie had ever seen him.
“Farrokh Bulsara!” Jer gasped, eyes wide. Bomi was openly gaping.
“You heard me,” Freddie said, standing as tall as he could, flipping his hair off the mark on his neck. “And it’s Freddie Mercury, damn it. So there you go, your precious little doll is actually a slut like Bapuji said!”
“You’re not a slut,” Roger said fiercely.
“Oh, but according to them I am!” Freddie laughed, slightly hysterical now. Maybe it was just hormones. Or maybe it was everything. Maybe it was years and years of hurt, fear, and embarrassment boiling over. He rounded on his parents, eyes blazing. “If you say one more word about marrying me off, I’ll walk out that door and I swear I won’t come back. I won’t answer your calls, I’ll tell my friends to send you away if you come to our flat. I will never see you again and you’ll never see my baby, understand?”
Kash took his other hand, squeezing tightly, while their parents both stared at him in shock. Jer looked seconds away from fainting. Even Bomi looked dazed, like he’d been dealt a nasty blow.
“So are we going to discuss this properly or are you just going to continue to yell until I leave?” Freddie demanded.
Slowly, shakily, Bomi sat down. Jer hovered uncertainly, but she nodded, biting her lip.
“Good,” Freddie said. Roger was still staring at him; Kash was smiling. “Good,” he repeated, a little shakily.
“When...When are you due?” Jer asked quietly.
“February,” Freddie and Roger said. Kash’s smile widened.
“Well, you...You’d best sit down,” Bomi said, and his voice actually shook. He gestured to the sofa. “Both of you. Far- Freddie, I…” He cleared his throat awkwardly. “You’re well?”
“I am,” Freddie said. He sat, Roger still holding his hand.
“...I’m sorry,” Bomi said. “For- for all the shouting when you're in this condition, and…”
“The slut shaming?” Roger said coldly. Freddie tensed again, but Bomi nodded.
“Yes,” he said. He took a deep breath. “Tell us more? Have you been to the doctor yet?”
“I’ll put the kettle on,” Jer murmured, bustling away to the kitchen. Kash sat on the arm of the sofa, hovering close to Freddie.
Freddie held himself tensely for the rest of the visit, but, slowly, he managed to tell them everything with Roger’s help.
Roger didn’t let go of his hand.
Outside, Freddie nearly collapsed.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe I just did that,” he breathed, pressing his hands over his mouth, leaning against the van. He felt light-headed, weak kneed; his limbs shook, his hands tingled with sudden pins-and-needles. For a moment he was worried he’d be sick. “Oh, my God, Roggie, I can’t believe I just did that. I yelled at them, I really yelled at them. Fuck, I told them I’ve had sex!”
“You did,” Roger said; his laughter sounded stunned, but he hugged Freddie close anyway. “You did brilliantly, Fred. It’s about time you told them to fuck off.”
“Thank you, darling,” Freddie mumbled into his shoulder.
“What? I didn’t do anything.”
“You stuck up for me,” Freddie explained, holding on tighter.
Roger laughed again, more gently this time. He kissed the top of Freddie’s head.
“Oh, do you know what you got into? Can you handle what I'm 'bout to do? ‘Cause it's about to get rough for you, I'm here for your entertainment. Oh, I bet you thought that I was soft and sweet; you thought an angel swept you off your feet. Well, I'm about to turn up the heat. I'm here for your entertainment.” -For Your Entertainment, Adam Lambert
“Fred, you ready to go?” Roger called.
“Just a second!” Freddie peered at himself in the mirror, turning every which way. He was wearing the new shirt Mary had found for him; it was a button-up, in a deep burgundy colour, longer at the back than at the front; the back fell in neat folds nearly to his knees, the front just skimmed past his belt. And it was sheer. That too. More sheer than anything he typically wore off stage. Ugh, maybe his nipples were a bit too obvious in this.
“Freddie!” came Roger’s impatient voice again, and the bedroom door opened.
“Rog!” Freddie protested, but Roger just blinked at him.
“Wow,” he said. “You- you look good.”
Freddie glanced in the mirror again. His hair was in its natural state, a mess of waves and curls falling to his shoulders; his eyeliner was perfect if he said so himself, his favourite bangle slid up and down his wrist, and his black leather pants clung to him. All that was fine. It was just the stupid shirt he was worried about.
“It’s not too much?” he asked, and immediately felt ridiculous. He wore much more flamboyant things on stage- but that was on stage, that was a show; that was all part of the performance. He wasn’t performing now. He was heading out with his best friend and he trusted Roger to tell him if he looked stupid or not.
“It suits you,” Roger said, looking him up and down. “Mary’s idea again?”
“You know her, she gets a fashion idea, she immediately wants me to test it out,” Freddie said with a smile. “So...It’s okay then?”
“Fred,” Roger laughed. “You’re sexy as hell, okay?” (And why did that make his smile widen?) “Now grab your jacket and let’s get going.”
Roger turned and marched away; as he grabbed his jacket, Freddie glanced in the mirror again. After a moment’s hesitation he undid the top two buttons.
Like Roger was constantly telling him; if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
And oh, look at that, another flashback; we'll be getting a few of them for a while.
Freddie finally utterly let rip on his parents and really, you can't blame him. Roger's gonna have to find a way to stop Freddie from feeling bad about it.
Chapter 5: Castle
Roger is forced to ask a favour of Foster and Sheffield.
Some mild and not very graphic sexual content right at the start; if you wanna skip it ends at the "A Million Dreams" lyrics. I'm practicing, okay? 😅
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Every lover known in comparison is a failure, I forget their names now, I'm so very tame now, never be the same now, now. I-I-I see how this is gonna go. Touch me and you'll never be alone. I-Island breeze and lights down low, no one has to know.” -...Ready For It?, Taylor Swift
Roger almost felt lightheaded; he just couldn’t seem to get enough air. He had Freddie under him, writhing and gasping and he kept waiting to wake up. Because there was no way this was real. This had to be a dream.
Freddie sure looked like a dream, cheeks flushed, eyes squeezed shut, hair fanned out around him, gasping for breath. His nails dug into Roger’s arms, groaning when Roger ground his hips down. He still had his jeans on. He should probably do something about that.
“Damn it, Rog, hurry up, ” Freddie demanded.
“Hm...No,” Roger said, unable to hold his grin back. He leaned down to bite at the mark on Freddie’s neck again; he’d never seen it so dark before, they’d never done this before and he kept waiting for Freddie to push him off. His hand drifted from Freddie’s hip up to his chest, lightly rolling his nipple between his fingers, beginning to pinch tighter. Freddie’s blush darkened, Roger’s grin widened and slightly hesitantly, he said, “Hey, Fred? Remember what Brimi said? You know, about what perks Omegas have?”
“What?” Freddie looked at him blearily. “You mean the orgasm joke? What about it?”
He admittedly felt like a bit of a perv for asking, but damn it he wanted to know.
“Well- how many times can you cum?”
That startled a laugh out of Freddie.
“I don’t fucking know,” he laughed. “No one’s exactly taken their time with me, darling.”
“Twice?” Roger grinned, hitching Freddie’s legs over his shoulder. “Three times? Four? ”
“Rog, I don’t- I don’t fucking know, Christ.” Freddie pressed a hand over his mouth, still giggling. “Most people quit after two; there, you happy now?” His free hand slapped Roger’s arm. “Pervert.”
“Wanna find out?”
Slowly, the giggles died down; Freddie stared at him with big, curious eyes. It seemed to really hit him then, what position he was in; his legs over Roger’s shoulders, Roger looming over him, naked while Roger still had his jeans on. For a long moment, he was quiet. Roger couldn’t read the look on his face; a little shy maybe, but he had that stubborn clench in his jaw that Roger knew so well. His hands cupped Roger’s face, pulling him down to kiss him.
“Okay,” he breathed when they pulled back. He smirked, poking Roger on the nose. “You’ve a reputation, darling. Live up to it.”
“Every night I lie in bed, the brightest colours fill my head; a million dreams are keeping me awake. I think of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see. A million dreams is all it's gonna take, a million dreams for the world we're gonna make.” -A Million Dreams, The Greatest Showman
The sound of the baby’s heartbeat filled the room; Freddie wondered if he’d ever stop being amazed by it. The movies and TV shows always made it sound deafening, but it wasn’t as loud as he’d expected. At first he’d worried that meant something was wrong, but Atwood waved his concerns away.
“It’s strong and steady,” she said reassuringly. “Baby’s doing fine in there.”
He caught Roger sagging in relief at that and Freddie squeezed his hand.
“Okay, darling?” he asked quietly.
“Okay,” Roger said. “You?”
Freddie smiled. “Perfect.”
As they made their way back to the van, Freddie took his hand again.
“You didn’t growl this time,” he teased.
“Look at me go,” Roger laughed, swinging their hands. “I’m a fucking adult. ” But slowly, his smile faded. “Hey, Fred- what do we...I mean, what do we do about space? Our flat isn’t that big as it is, should we- should we try and find somewhere else?”
“What, the two of us?” Freddie asked, stopping. It seemed like such an obvious thing to think about, but it had totally slipped his mind. Where the hell would they put the baby when it was born? It should have been an obvious question.
Roger’s cheeks were starting to go pink. “Only if you want,” he said quickly. “Our rooms barely fit us and I don’t want to leave the kid in the hallway.”
“Good point,” Freddie said. He smiled softly. “You’re probably right.” Roger was right, he knew; their apartment simply wasn’t big enough for the four of them plus a baby, not to mention all the baby essentials. But one obvious problem remained; “We can’t afford a new flat, darling.”
“Yeah,” Roger sighed. They reached the van; he frowned as he opened it, he frowned as he offered Freddie a hand in and he frowned as he drove.
At last, he spoke; “Maybe EMI will give us an advance on our money?” he suggested. “We can always pay it back later if that’s what they want.”
“Do you think they’ll listen?” Freddie asked doubtfully.
“Only one way to find out, right?” Roger said, shrugging. “We’ve to go see Foster after the photoshoot tomorrow; I’ll ask then.”
“I’ll stay with you,” Freddie said, but Roger shook his head.
“I’m not having you there if Foster starts screaming,” he said. “Letting you get upset’s not good for the kid.” He kept one hand on the wheel, while the other briefly pat Freddie’s stomach; it was just starting to swell a bit.
It was the one thing that could persuade Freddie to back down.
“At least take someone with you,” he insisted.
“I’ll see if Miami or Reid will come,” Roger said. “Otherwise I’m sure Bri or Deacy will.” He laughed. “Besides, Deacy knows all about accounting and that shit; if they lie to me or try screw me over he’ll know.”
“I'm headed straight for the castle; they wanna make me their queen, and there's an old man sitting on the throne that's saying that I probably shouldn't be so mean. I'm headed straight for the castle. They've got the kingdom locked up, and there's an old man sitting on the throne that's saying I should probably keep my pretty mouth shut. Straight for the castle.” -Castle, Halsey
The photoshoot had been tense. Mick’s assistants had been insufferable ever since the nude photoshoot in ‘73. Sure, they shut up whenever they thought Roger might hear them, but they always stared at Freddie and if Roger wasn’t in earshot their comments just got more and more degrading.
But this time, as soon as the scent hit, everyone fell silent. No one was stupid enough to push their luck; no one wanted to risk Roger’s wrath, not when “his” Omega was pregnant.
“Congratulations, guys,” Mick said, though he was blinking rapidly with surprise. “How far along?”
“Two months,” Freddie said. “Nearly three.”
“The press don’t know yet?”
Mick nodded. “Alright then. I’ve a few looser shirts if you want?”
That was the thing about Mick, Roger thought; he often acted like Freddie was dimwitted, but then he turned around and actually did something helpful. Roger could never quite figure him out.
Either way, they were both thankful for it. The press wouldn’t be finding out until they couldn’t hide it anymore.
“Places, people!” Mick called to his assistants; the previously gawping Alphas all snapped back to work, finishing the set-up. “Right. All of you to Sophie and Denise for make-up, I’ll have George bring your outfits to the dressing room.”
The photoshoot, although tense, went well. Despite the surprised staring from Mick’s assistants it was a million times better than their previous leering. They were, to Roger’s amused surprise, all on their best behaviour. Even that little perv around Deacy’s age, who was usually the most ballsy of the lot, behaved himself. He caught Roger’s eye and ducked his head, barely even glancing at Freddie.
(Roger could get used to it.)
But then came the meeting with Foster.
Really, it went as expected, though Roger was annoyed when Sheffield joined them. As per usual, they ended speaking over Queen, only letting Roger and Brian talk; they barely acknowledged Deacy and spoke over Freddie or outright told him to shut up.
And Sheffield just kept staring at Freddie; it wasn’t the hungry, lustful stare that Prenter gave him. He looked mildly surprised, maybe even a little curious.
“I suppose some congratulations are in order,” he said mildly.
Roger pulled Freddie closer; all four of them exchanged surprised glances.
“Thank you,” Freddie said cautiously.
Sheffield nodded almost respectfully; Roger honestly had to do a double-take. Even Reid looked surprised.
“Well, if we play our cards right you can still do some UK shows,” Sheffield said. “Nothing too taxing; we wouldn’t want to risk your child.”
Seriously, did this guy have a conscience after all, or did he just have a pregnancy kink? Roger didn’t trust him. He knew him too well to blindly thank him and trust him.
As the meeting ended, Roger and Deacy stayed behind. Reid had some business with Elton, so it was down to the two of them to try and persuade Foster and Sheffield to do the unthinkable- to actually do something kind.
“Listen,” Roger said. “I have something to ask you two.”
“We’re listening,” Sheffield said.
“Freddie and I- well, we’re gonna need our own place, what with the baby on the way, but…” Damn it, he hated having to ask them. “Well, we can’t afford it.” As they damn well fucking know, screwing us out of our money, not even paying Freddie equally. “So I was wondering- maybe we could get an advance on our royalties? We can pay it back later if you want.”
“They don’t need that much,” Deacy added; Foster rolled his eyes at him. “Just enough for a down-payment.”
“Hm…” Foster tapped his pen against the desk. Sheffield almost looked bored. They looked at each other and Roger wished he could even guess what they were thinking.
“No,” Sheffield said calmly. “If you want a new home you’ll have to pay for it yourself.”
“We will pay for it ourselves, we just need-” Help. A favour. No, he could feel bile rising in his throat at the thought of pleading, of letting them think he and Freddie owed them. “We just need an advance on our wages. You keep holding back on us, I’m not asking for a loan, I’m asking for my wages. I’m asking for Freddie’s wages.”
“You heard him,” Foster snapped. “He said no- and before you think of throwing a tantrum, Taylor, he owns this record company, so zip it. Reid and ‘Miami’ can’t help either, so don’t bother.”
“Two months along now, isn’t he?” Sheffield asked with that infuriating poise.
“Yes. Why?” Roger asked suspiciously. Deacy bristled, glaring at Sheffield.
“Just wondering,” Sheffield said. “Ray here wasn’t too sure when he told me.”
Roger would be lying if he said it didn’t make him uneasy; he had to hold back a shudder at the idea of these two discussing Freddie’s pregnancy, discussing his baby.
He’d trust them when hell froze over.
“Off you go now,” Foster said with his usual sneer. He waved them towards the door. “The answer is no. ”
“Sorry boys,” Sheffield said, smiling.
Roger growled before he could stop himself and Deacy grabbed his arm, tugging him away.
“Come on, Rog, let’s go,” he muttered. “We can call Miami when we get home.”
But as they headed towards the lift, Roger remembered that Foster said Miami couldn’t help.
Still, it was a chance Roger was willing to take.
Hm, what is Sheffield up to?
Chapter 6: Waiting For Superman
Freddie's hormones make themselves felt. Roger and Miami take a stand; meanwhile, Freddie and Roger get a nice surprise.
Let's see what Sheffield and Foster are up to, shall we?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I've been waiting for a good time, waiting for the right time, trying to tell you- look what you made me do! It's freezing in the morning, and I'm so bored of boring, waiting ‘round for you. But look what you made me do!” -Look What You Made Me Do, Emma Blackery
As the pregnancy progressed it seemed like everything hit at once. If Freddie wasn’t puking his guts out, he was lying in bed with no energy. If he was up and about his back and legs practically incapacitated him. His stomach was swelling faster than he’d have thought possible; he wasn’t sure he could hide it from the press anymore; he was starting to look further along than three months. And then, to top it all off, his heat hit.
That was another thing Freddie hated about heats, he decided. They didn’t quite stop during pregnancy. Instead of a monthly problem they became a tri-monthly problem. He’d hoped, with his irregular heats, that he might only get one or maybe none at all.
No such luck. His head throbbed, no matter how much water he drank he still felt thirsty; his back ached, his legs ached and after lunch his stomach started churning. He’d only had some soup and a sandwich but it suddenly became a real struggle to keep it down.
And yet, just his luck…
“Oh, he’s cute,” Freddie said; they were gathered together in the living room, searching in vain for a good programme.
“The weather man?” Brian said, raising his eyebrows. “He’s a bit...old, Fred.”
“And bald,” Deacy added.
“He looks a bit like the guy from ‘ Aristocats,’ ” Roger laughed.
“...Yeah,” Freddie sighed, slumping in his seat. “Sorry, I don’t know what’s with me lately.”
“Well, it’s your third month,” Brian said. He avoided eye-contact, quickly switching through the channels. “And according to those baby books you’re going to be a little- wound up…”
“You can horny, darling, we’re all adults here.”
Deacy snorted, Roger wheezed and poor Brimi went bright pink.
“Yeah,” he said. “That.”
“Right,” Freddie said. He struggled to get comfortable as the pain in his back grew. “Oh fuck this, I’m having a bath.” He hauled himself to his feet, waving away Roger’s hand and stomped off to the bathroom.
His discomfort only seemed to grow; the next day he made the mistake of trying to wear his favourite flared pants, only to find that, of course, they didn’t fit anymore.
He burst into tears.
Deacy must have had a sixth sense, became he came barrelling into their room.
“What’s wrong?” he asked frantically. “Are you hurt? Is it the baby?”
“I’m fat! ” Freddie wailed. Call him vain, but he’d always been the smallest of the four, the lightest, the “lithe” one as the tabloids put it. And now he was the fattest.
“Oh, Fred.” Deacy hugged him, swaying them both back and forth. “You’re not fat, mate, you’re pregnant. You’re growing a person. ”
“I’m fat and it’s Roger’s fault,” Freddie mumbled. Deacy chuckled, running a hand up and down his back.
“Hm, yeah, that’s on Roger,” he agreed. “Here’s an idea; you throw your joggers on and I’ll make some tea, yeah? Think you can handle some lunch?”
“Tea please,” Freddie said, wiping at his eyes. “Sorry, love.”
“Eh, it’s Roger’s fault,” Deacy said, laughing.
Damn right it was Roger’s fault.
Brian wasn’t sure what he expected when he got home, but Freddie yelling, “I’m fat and it’s your fault!” at Roger sure wasn’t it. Freddie threw a sofa cushion at Roger’s head; luckily Roger ducked and they were both left gaping at the angry, red-faced Omega.
“Fred,” Roger began warily.
“Shut it, Roger. I’m fat, I’m sore, I’m sick, I’m horny, I keep crying at every little thing and that’s all on you! I can’t fit in my favourite clothes anymore, you prick! I know I said my ass was too small before, but this is ridiculous! ”
Brian bit his lip to keep from laughing. It’s not funny, he told himself sternly. Freddie’s serious; he’s upset, don’t laugh.
Roger was gaping wordlessly. Deacy, still sitting on the sofa and sipping some tea, looked all too happy with how things were going.
“I...I can take you shopping?” Roger offered weakly.
Brian expected another explosion. Instead, Freddie instantly brightened.
“Okay!” he chirped. “I’ll grab my shoes.”
“What, now? ”
“Yes, now,” Freddie snapped, hands on hips. Huh, Brian realised. It wasn’t just Freddie’s stomach, his hips did look bigger.
And he tried not to look, really he did, but Freddie’s butt had grown.
He wasn’t the only one who noticed; Roger was outright staring, even poking his head around the corner to keep looking.
“Just friends,” Brian snorted. He went to the kitchen, setting the groceries down.
“We are,” Roger said; he was still staring after Freddie.
“We’re friends, Rog, but I don’t stare at your ass.”
“Shush!” Roger hissed as Freddie came back. “Ready, Freddie?”
“Yep.” Freddie marched ahead to the front door; Deacy was clearly biting back laughter. “Move it, Blondie.”
The door closed behind them and Brian looked at Deacy.
“Just friends,” he repeated.
“They’re hopeless,” Deacy sighed. “Absolutely hopeless.”
“You took me for everything that I had and kicked me out on my own. Are you happy, are you satisfied? How long can you stand the heat? Out of the doorway the bullets rip to the sound of the beat. (Look out!) Another one bites the dust.” -Another One Bites The Dust, Queen
Sheffield and Foster hadn’t lied; Miami hadn’t been able to help. He’d accompanied Roger and Deacy to EMI to plead their case, but the executives hadn’t budged.
“We’re not under any legal obligation to give them an advance on their wages,” Sheffield pointed out.
They’d refused to budge, so of course Roger was suspicious when Sheffield rang him, asking him to come into the office that evening. Just him. No Freddie, Brian or Deacy.
“Of course,” Roger said; his voice came out calm enough, but his heart was pounding. As soon as Sheffield hung up, he called Miami.
“I need you to meet me at EMI in half an hour,” Roger told him.
“What’s wrong?” Miami asked.
“Sheffield wants to meet me- just me, he said to leave the boys out of it. I don’t know what he’s up to, but I don’t like it.”
“I’ll be there,” Miami promised.
Roger hung up, biting his lip. Brian was in the shower, Deacy was out with Veronica and Freddie had gone to lie down and rest. He could just slip out, but...No, that wouldn’t be fair.
He went to Freddie and Deacy’s room.
“Fred?” He opened the door; Freddie was lying on his side, one hand on his stomach, playing a Beatles album on low-volume. “Freddie, I’m heading to EMI, okay?”
“What? Why?” Freddie sat up; he still looked pale and peaky. “Is everything okay?”
“I don’t know,” Roger admitted. He crossed the room and pushed Freddie’s hair off his forehead, quickly kissing his forehead. “You know Foster and Sheffield, they’ll find anything to bitch about. I don’t think I’ll be too long, okay?”
“Do you want me to come?” Freddie asked. He tried to push himself up off the bed, but Roger gently pushed him back down.
“Nuh-uh, you rest,” he said. “Miami will be there, it’s fine.”
Roger couldn’t blame Freddie for looking so wary; god knew he was nervous.
Miami was already there and waiting for him.
“I’m sure it’s nothing,” he said, but Roger wasn’t so sure. Sheffield had been weirdly nice lately, whereas Foster had only sneered more and more. Something was going on.
“Mr Taylor,” the receptionist said brightly. “Mr Sheffield’s expecting you in his office.” She eyed Miami warily.
“Don’t worry, they’re looking for him too,” Roger lied. The receptionist nodded and waved them along.
“Why would he want to talk just to me?” Roger asked, as the lift carried them to the top floor.
“I don’t know,” Miami admitted and he didn’t sound happy about it. “But whatever they’re trying to pull this time, I’m with you.”
It helped a bit. Not a lot, not enough to calm him down, but it helped.
“Ah, Roger,” Sheffield said with an icy smile- an icy smile that dropped when Miami followed him in. “I believe I said I wanted to speak to you. ”
“You said not to bring Freddie, Brian or Deacy,” Roger reminded him with forced cheer. He flung himself into one of the armchairs, legs spread, arms thrown over the back of the chair. Freddie wasn’t the only one that could summon a mask; he put on the cocky face he used for the press, the I’m invincible attitude he used for their shows and watched Sheffield’s jaw twitch. Foster, in the seat across from Roger, was already going red with anger. Miami came and stood behind Roger, radiating calm.
“Rather impromptu meeting,” Miami said calmly. “What’s all this about?”
“...Right.” Sheffield seemed to shake himself out of his annoyance; his business smile was back in place, his eyes almost seemed to say You can trust me. Bullshit. Roger didn’t trust him at all.
“It’s about your request,” Sheffield said. “For the down-payment.”
“Yeah?” Roger sat up a little straighter, sure that Sheffield was about to find an excuse to withhold their wages entirely, or dock them.
“We might be able to help,” Sheffield said and Roger exchanged startled looks with Miami. “Providing you do us a favour.”
“It’s about Freddie- well, about the pregnancy. You haven’t announced it yet, correct?”
“That’s right,” Roger said. Right now their announcement plan boiled down to Let the bastards figure it out themselves. They’d had an interview before their photoshoot last month, but Freddie had been too ill to attend; Brian, Roger and Deacy hadn’t seen any reason to say anything beyond “Bad flu.”
“Well, here’s the deal,” Sheffield said. “We’ll give you the money and in turn we handle the announcement. Deal?”
His gut instinct was to say “Sure!” because- really? That was all?
But this was EMI. This was Ray Foster and Norman Sheffield.
And Roger Taylor was no idiot.
“Handle it how?” Miami asked. Foster shot Miami a look of disgust, Sheffield pressed his lips together but stayed stubbornly smiling.
“A photoshoot,” he said. “Freddie’s popular; imagine how many fans will be happy for you. Maternity- or in this case, paternity- photoshoots have proven very popular in the past.”
“...What kind of photoshoot?” Roger demanded with narrowed eyes.
“I just said-”
“Mick’s expressed interest in another nude one,” Foster said. “I still don’t understand why, he’s not much to look at.”
“That’s my fucking boyfriend- ”
“Ray misspoke,” Sheffield said, holding his hand up to silence him. “Isn’t that right, Ray? He didn’t mean to offend you, Roger.”
“...That’s right,” Foster said, gritting his teeth. He sounded like those two small words physically pained him.
“You want to hurt him again,” Roger said. “No. No way.”
“Be reasonable. Our Freddie’s quite the sex symbol- and it’s only natural that your fans will want to celebrate with you. Imagine the sales! The royalties would be more than enough for a down-payment, Roger, be reasonable. Your sales shot up overnight last time.”
Roger’s hands were shaking. He’d remember that photoshoot until the day he died. He’d remember the taunts, the harassment; he’d remember how Freddie had been near tears the whole time, he’d remember the panic attacks leading up to that ‘shoot, he’d remember how quiet and withdrawn Freddie had been; he’d always remember how triumphant Sheffield and Foster had been afterwards. He’d always remember how Freddie was forced to act repentant, how he’d acted more like a doll than a person until Sheffield and Foster were satisfied. He’d never forget the hungry, lustful stares; he’d always remember how an entire room of Alphas had stared at Freddie, naked and teary-eyed on the floor, how almost every one of them tried to put their hands on him; he’d always remember Prenter’s possessive leer.
“Absolutely fucking not, ” he snarled. “Not happening. You’re not doing that to him again, I won’t let you.”
Just like that, Sheffield’s expression closed off. He was back to looking completely unapproachable.
Foster meanwhile, laughed.
“I think you’ll find you’ve no say,” he said. “Handle the announcement however you want, but we’ll still arrange the ‘shoot. Your loss, Taylor. He’s ours to do with as we please, he signed that contract of his own free will.”
“I think you’ll find that clause only covers single Omegas,” Miami said coldly. Roger twisted around to look at him; their lawyer looked calm and composed, but Roger could see his fists were clenched behind his back. “Freddie’s isn’t single, as you well know. Roger’s his Alpha- and if Roger says no to anything to do with Freddie, you can’t move ahead.”
“I beg your pardon, Jim?” Sheffield hissed.
“Feel free to check your own contract,” Miami said with a humourless smile. “But I memorised the wording. You can’t make Freddie do anything his Alpha had expressly said no to.”
That was the loophole; last time, they hadn’t asked Roger’s permission. Last time, they’d kept him in the dark until the whole thing was arranged, until Mick had been paid in advance; they’d waited until Roger couldn’t do anything to stop them. Because they hadn’t asked. This time, they went straight to him; this time, they thought they had something over him.
But they didn’t. Because Roger would rather die than put Freddie through that again for any reason.
“And you can’t make Freddie do anything in regards to our baby,” Roger said with a triumphant grin. “Because that’s nothing to do with you, it’s nothing to do with our image. It’s our private business.”
“It’d be in your best interests to comply, Roger,” Sheffield hissed.
“No,” Roger repeated. His eyes flashed, he was snarling before he could stop himself, growling under his breath, because he knew Sheffield, he knew what he was like.
“I know why you want him naked,” Roger snapped. “And it’s nothing to do with money.”
Well, not entirely to do with money.
Because Sheffield had made inappropriate comments and innuendos the moment he’d met Freddie- but he was careful. He always did it when Roger couldn’t hear him.
“Watch yourself, boy,” Foster snapped.
“Roger,” Miami said quietly.
But Roger barely heard them; he and Sheffield were locked in a staredown, both of them snarling.
“I don’t give you permission,” Roger stated clearly, deliberately. “You’re not in charge of the announcement and Freddie won’t be doing any nude photoshoots. You leave our baby out of your little power plays, do I make myself clear?”
“...Crystal,” Sheffield said. He was actually shaking with anger.
Foster was less controlled.
“You ungrateful little bastard!” Foster yelled. “We didn’t have to take you on! Who would with an Omega frontman!? You should be down on bended knee thanking us!”
“Ray,” Sheffield said warningly.
“So he has to take his clothes off, so what? It’s not as if he hasn’t before, or do you expect us to believe the stork knocked him up?”
Roger jumped in shock; he’d never heard Sheffield shout before.
He took a deep breath and spoke; “It’s not happening- and don’t try go behind my back. Like Miami said, it’s illegal. He’s mine, not yours. There’s no ‘our Freddie’ in this, he’s mine. And I’m saying no.”
Miami had a hand on his shoulder, but Roger shrugged him off, standing up.
“My answer is no,” he said firmly. “My answer is never. ” He turned to Miami. “Let’s go.”
To his surprise, Miami spoke; “If you go behind his back and try to make Freddie follow your demands, he’s well within his rights to go public about this. And whose side do you think the public will be on? You underestimate Freddie because he’s an Omega, but people love him. Sure, Norman Sheffield and Ray Foster are big names in the music industry, but to the average person?” He shrugged, looking them over coldly. “Not so much. Say the name Freddie Mercury on the other hand...and people listen. If they think you’re abusing him they’d never stand for it.”
“Abuse?” Foster sputtered. “It’s not abuse!”
“It will be if you ignore Roger’s decision,” Miami pointed out calmly and Roger smirked.
“I think that’s everything covered,” he said. “Now leave Freddie and our baby alone. ”
And he swept out, ignoring Sheffield calling his name.
“She's talking to angels, counting the stars, making a wish on a passing car. She's dancing with strangers, falling apart, waiting for Superman to pick her up in his arms, yeah. In his arms, yeah. Waiting for Superman.” -Waiting For Superman, Daughtry
“Don’t say a word to Freddie,” Roger said as soon as they were outside. “I mean it, Miami, not one word.”
Miami looked at him sadly, but he nodded. “My lips are sealed,” he promised.
Roger ran a hand through his hair, rooting in his pockets for a cigarette.
“I wish I could say I’m surprised,” he said tiredly. He found a cigarette, lit in and took a deep drag. He could feel his shoulders instantly relaxing. “Like- I really wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not.”
“Neither am I,” Miami said. “How’s Freddie?”
“Hormonal,” Roger said, smiling despite it all. “He made me take him shopping, says it’s my fault he’s fat.”
“Well…” Miami trailed off with a teasing smile.
“Oh fuck off, not you too,” Roger laughed. He shook his head, leaning against the wall. “I just wish they’d leave him alone.”
“Me too,” Miami said. “But think about it: you’ve just one more album before your contract is up.”
“The sooner the better.”
What he didn’t expect when he got home, was to find Freddie asleep on the sofa. The TV was still playing and there was no sign of Brian and Deacy.
And just like that, all the rage and tension melted away.
The fluffy woolen throw was pulled up over him as a blanket, right up to his nose; he was curled up as small as he could.
Finally relaxed, finally genuinely smiling, Roger tip-toed over.
“Freddie?” He pushed Freddie’s hair off his face. “Fred, wake up.”
“Hng? Roggie?” Freddie’s eyes cracked open; he pushed himself up, smiling sleepily. “How’d it go? What did they want?”
“Just nagging me to make sure you keep working,” he lied. “Accused us of slacking off, the usual bullshit.”
Freddie rolled his eyes, running a hand through his tangled hair. “Let me guess- morning sickness is no excuse? ”
“Got it in one,” Roger said, his smile feeling slightly more forced. He hated lying to him, but damned if he was going to tell the truth about this; damned if he was going to risk Freddie and the baby’s health.
“I think they need hobbies,” Freddie said, rubbing a hand on his stomach. “Or to get shagged. Maybe they just have a serious case of blue balls, darling.”
“ Christ, Freddie, the last thing I need to think about is Sheffield or Foster getting it on!” Roger laughed. He sat on the edge of the sofa, tucking an arm around Freddie, resting his cheek on Freddie’s head; his free hand joined Freddie’s on the baby bump. “Feeling any better?”
“Still sore,” Freddie admitted. His smile had an embarrassed edge to it. “Sorry for all the yelling.”
“Eh, I figure a few tantrums are allowed,” Roger teased. “You haven’t even threatened to chop my dick off yet.”
“Don’t give me ideas, darling.”
That was when he felt it; a little nudge against his hand.
Startled, he sat up straight and saw the same shock on Freddie’s face.
“I think so.”
And there it was again, that little nudge against his hand.
“Holy shit,” he whispered. Their baby was kicking; that was their baby, he could feel it against his hand. Holy shit was an understatement. Awe didn’t even begin to cover it.
I’ll never let them hurt you, he thought fiercely. Never.
Freddie laughed shakily; his eyes looked suspiciously wet.
“Hi, Peanut,” Roger said. “Take it you don’t like Foster and Sheffield either, hm?”
“Good taste,” Freddie said, smiling. Despite his obvious fatigue, he was glowing.
It just hardened Roger’s resolve and he repeated the old promise to himself, again and again: Protect Freddie.
No flashbacks this time as it ended up being longer than anticipated; the flashbacks have been moved to the next chapter. But hey-ho, Roger stood up to Sheffield and Foster!
Some lore: Omegas still get their heats during pregnancy (every three months instead of every month) and Alphas still get their ruts every TWO months during pregnancy.
Chapter 7: Do I Wanna Know?
Winifred Taylor meets the Bulsaras. Freddie and Roger come to an understanding, but a storm is brewing on the horizon...
Alright, there's some sexy times starting at the "Do I Wanna Know?" lyrics and ending at the "No Light, No Light" lyrics if you wanna skip that.
(That said, I didn't keep hesitating and feeling awkward as I wrote it this time. It's either practice paying off, or listening to that particular song helps 😆)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Keep your feet on the ground when your head’s in the clouds. Well go get your shovel, and we’ll dig a deep hole to bury the castle. Bury the castle. Go get your shovel, and we’ll dig a deep hole to bury the castle, bury the castle.” -Brick By Boring Brick, Paramore
When Freddie woke up his cat was fast asleep on his stomach. Ziggy was a fat, orange and white tabby cat who tended to ignore everyone else by Freddie. He was usually quite cuddly, but as Freddie’s bump became more obvious the cat became outright clingy- he’d spent five minutes howling when Freddie was in the bath yesterday until Brian managed to coax him away with treats.
Considering how warm and fluffy Ziggy was, this was actually quite welcome.
And considering today’s plans he definitely needed his cat to cuddle.
Winifred Taylor was coming over. No big deal, she was always lovely. But his parents and Kashmira were coming over too and that was what made him nervous. He wasn’t sure he trusted anyone to keep their temper.
There was a knock on the door and Roger poked his head in.
“Fred? Breakfast’s ready.”
Truth be told he didn’t have much of an appetite. Combine morning sickness with his general anxiety about today and he knew he’d just throw it all back up.
But he had a baby to feed and a tiny kick drove that point home. Ignoring Ziggy’s rather indignant meow, Freddie lifted the cat up and followed Roger to the kitchen.
(He was right; barely twenty minutes later he was stuck in the bathroom getting sick.)
John had only met the Bulsaras a handful of times and he tried not to judge, really he did, but all he could think was Seventeen, Freddie was seventeen and you tried to marry him to a stranger, you tried to pack him off to India again.
But Freddie seemed to have forgiven them- or at the very least, he was trying to. And it was Freddie they had hurt, Freddie they treated like an idiot for years, Freddie they had ignored, Freddie they had locked away during his first heat...He’d better stop that train of thought before he worked himself up. The point was, Freddie was trying to get along with them, so John would to.
He liked Kashmira at least. She was sweet with a similar sense of humour to Freddie- and she was just a kid herself. She hadn’t done anything wrong.
All the same, John was glad that Winifred arrived first; there was never any awkward silences with her around. (And sue him, it was nice to have another Beta around sometimes.) She all but skipped into their flat in a long floral print dress, beaming at them all.
“Rog!” She held her arms out and Roger literally ran across the room to her, hugging her tightly. “How’ve you been keeping, love? Still no help from EMI?”
“No,” Roger said, rolling his eyes. “But what else is new?”
She nodded and tutted sympathetically, but then she spotted Freddie, sitting on the sofa, and her eyes lit up.
“Oh, sweetie, look at you!” she cooed. In the blink of an eye she was next to Freddie, squeezing his hand. “You look further along than three months, Freddie.”
“I know,” Freddie said with a wry smile. He pulled a face at his bump; Ziggy nuzzled it curiously.
Winifred hugged him, though she was careful not to crush the baby bump. “Any news on the gender yet?” she asked.
“Not yet,” Freddie said. “But our next scan is tomorrow, so...Fingers crossed.”
“Well, you’re glowing, sweetie,” she said with an approving smile. She turned and waved her finger at Roger. “And you- you said you were just friends!”
“We are!” Roger protested- though John couldn’t help but smirk at Roger’s pink cheeks, he couldn’t help but be amused when Freddie ducked his head.
“Hmm…” Winifred shook her head. “You’d better be looking after him, Roger.”
“I am, Mum.”
Smirking, Winifred caught John’s eye and winked; Brian hid his grin behind his hand. But then, almost shyly, Winifred turned back to Freddie, her hand hovering uncertainly over his stomach.
“Rog says the little one’s kicking,” she said. “Can I…?”
Freddie nodded and her face just lit up. The poor woman looked like she was going to cry as her hand rested on the bump, and John could tell when the baby kicked because she let out a watery little giggle.
“I’m going to spoil you rotten,” she promised the baby.
Clearly the universe didn’t believe in giving any of them a break, because a knock on the door announced the arrival of the Bulsaras.
John looked at Brian and rolled his eyes before he could stop himself; Brian however, nodded in sympathy.
Kashmira was fine. He liked her a lot. Jer was...okay. She had her moments, she seemed to be learning and John could actually have a conversation with her.
But Bomi? John still didn’t feel comfortable with him around.
It was awkward, but you didn’t need Brian’s genius intellect to see that coming.
Roger watched his mother, Jer and Bomi and just- marvelled. Winifred knew how Freddie ended up in England, but unlike Roger she kept her cool. Looking at her, you’d never guess she’d been told anything about them. She smiled sweetly, chatting earnestly about doctor appointments, and baby furniture and how her boss was just so patronizing.
Surprisingly, she and Jer had something in common: they were both Betas who’d married Alphas. They’d both been sneered at for “reaching above their station” by society.
That broke the ice between the two mothers at least; Roger could see genuine sympathy in his mum’s eyes. Her smile only grew as she asked Kash about school, nodding along with her answers, reminiscing about her own school days- but whenever she spoke to Bomi, Roger saw her eyes dim, saw her smile fade ever-so-slightly. He doubted anyone else noticed; the only reason he did was because he’d grown up with her.
“Oh, and Freddie’s such a sweetheart, he always offers to help out at dinner when he visits,” Winifred said brightly.
Jer blinked in surprise. “You learned how to cook properly, baby?” she asked Freddie.
Freddie shook his head, only picking at his lunch; laughing, Winifred tucked a strand of his hair off his face.
“Stop hiding that lovely face, sweetie,” she chided gently. “No, Jer, as far as I know he doesn’t cook much- he and Rog both- I just mean he always helps make the tea or offers to carry the plates, set the table up, that sort of thing.” She turned to Roger and raised an eyebrow. “Unlike this one,” she added pointedly.
“Someone’s in trouble,” Brian whispered, grinning.
“Thanks, Mum,” Roger said flatly.
“You okay, Freddie?” Kash asked, reaching across the table for her brother’s hand. He looked clammy; he’d barely said a word and Roger had put that down to anxiety, but the way Freddie had a hand pressed to his mouth told him otherwise.
He shook his head, mumbled something like an apology and fled the room; the bathroom door slammed shut behind him, but Roger could still hear him getting sick again.
“Shit,” he said, pushing himself to his feet; Jer had also shot to her feet, but Roger raced past her.
“Freddie!” he called. He tried the door and growled when he realised Freddie had locked it behind him. “Fred, come on, open up.”
“Go...Away…” Freddie panted.
“Freddie, please. ” Call him paranoid, but he hated that the door was locked; he knew it was just morning sickness (though maybe he should just call it all-day-sickness at this point), but he couldn’t stop his mind from conjuring the worst possible outcomes- namely Freddie passing out and hitting his head, which he knew wasn’t going to happen, but still. Damn it, stupid Alpha hormones; they just stressed him out even more.
“Freddie?” Jer appeared behind him and knocked tentatively at the door. “Your friend Brian says there’s medicine for you in the kitchen, darling. Please come out.”
“I’m fine,” Freddie said weakly, but he gagged again and Roger felt surprisingly helpless. Atwood said the new tablets would stop Freddie from being sick during the day or at night, but they hadn’t worked at all.
“You’re clearly not!” Roger protested; Jer nodded in agreement even though Freddie couldn’t see her. “Fred, just let us in.”
Finally, the lock clicked and Roger forced himself to open the door slowly, rather than slam it.
Freddie was sitting on the edge of the bath, pale and shaking and sweating. Roger was over there in two quick strides, kneeling in front of him and taking his hands.
“Oh, my darling,” Jer murmured, hurrying right after him. “Was it the food? I thought you said you were on new tablets.”
“They’re clearly not working,” Freddie mumbled with an annoyed edge to his voice. He almost immediately winced, ducking his head even further. “Sorry, Mama,” he added.
“It’s fine,” she said gently. Hesitantly, she ran a hand through his hair; when he didn’t flinch or move away she relaxed, sitting on the edge of the bath and wrapping an arm around him, still stroking his hair. “My poor little love,” she said. “Growing a baby’s hard work.”
Roger looked at her and for once, as Freddie leaned against her and closed his eyes, he didn’t want to yell at her; for once he didn’t want to take her to task for everything she did and everything she didn’t do. For once, he relaxed in her presence.
And for the first time in a long while, Freddie did too.
“And you can tell everybody this is your song. It may be quite simple but now that it's done.. I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind that I put down in words...How wonderful life is while you're in the world.” -Your Song, Elton John
Atwood listened carefully to Freddie’s list of continued symptoms; the ever-growing cramps, the persistent sickness that lasted all day and well into the night, as well as headaches and migraines, and fatigue.
“If they’re still persisting we’ll have to try a new pill,” she said worriedly. “I’m sorry, dear, I really thought that last one would fix it.”
“It’s not your fault,” Freddie said tiredly, biting back a yawn.
“It’s not yours either,” Atwood said firmly. “I know that face, plenty of new parents get it. You’re not doing anything wrong, dear; some people just have a rougher time of it than others.”
After that was the scan; as always, Freddie held Roger’s hand tightly, trying to ignore the twinge of embarrassment as Atwood slipped a finger into him, prodding around. Roger squeezed his hand tightly, snarling, clearly struggling with himself. He’d been fine last time, but the weaker Freddie felt the more protective Roger got. He’d taken to glaring at Brian again whenever he offered help (though he was quick to apologise for doing so).
“Okay, everything looks good,” Atwood said. “Any pain, dear?”
“It’s probably the only place I’m not in pain, darling,” Freddie said, rolling his eyes. Atwood huffed in amusement, fiddling around with those damnable machines. And just like that, the black and white scan was on the screen.
Whatever Atwood saw made her nod to herself and smile- and Freddie’s heart seemed to skip a beat when she turned to them and said, “We can tell the gender now if you’d like to know?”
Freddie tilted his head up to Roger; Roger smiled down at him and nodded, so Freddie turned back to Atwood and said, “We want to know.”
Her smile widened.
Outside, Roger held his arms out to Freddie; laughing, Freddie flung himself into them, laughing all the more as Roger picked him up and spun him around.
“Holy shit!” Roger laughed. “Holy fucking shit!”
“I know!” Freddie clung to him, absolutely giddy. His head was pounding but what did that matter when they knew? Roger was grinning at him, eyes shining, hair gleaming gold in the sunlight and before Freddie could even think about stopping himself, he kissed him.
He immediately pulled back, mortified.
“Oh shit, darling, sorry,” he babbled. “I just- I mean I...I forgot the signal, sorry, I…” Roger was just looking at him. He expected Roger to put him down, or brush it off like nothing...But instead he smiled, pulling Freddie back down to kiss him; it wasn’t a quick peck. It was long, slow and deep, and Freddie could practically feel the surprised gazes of other passers-by on them. An old lady muttered “How unseemly!” as she ushered a younger, heavily pregnant woman into the hospital. Fuck them all. What did Freddie care?
“We’re talking about this, right?” he gasped as he pulled back, unable to catch his breath. He could already feel his face heating up. He’d like to blame that on hormones too.
“We are,” Roger agreed. Slowly, he set Freddie down, though he kept his arms around his waist, bending down to press his nose against the mark on Freddie’s neck, breathing deeply.
“Do we tell Brian and Deacy about the baby?” Freddie asked; Roger pulled back and his grin was outright evil.
“I’m thinking we leave them hanging for a while,” he said.
For a moment he wanted to protest, but he thought of Brian and Deacy constantly pestering them and damn it, but if this worked out the way Freddie wanted it to then they’d be so unbearably smug.
Maybe they deserved to be kept waiting.
He smirked, hugging Roger and resting his head on his shoulder.
“Sounds good to me, darling.”
“Do I wanna know if this feeling flows both ways? Sad to see you go; was sorta hoping that you’d stay. Baby, we both know that the nights were mainly made for saying things that you can’t say tomorrow-day. Crawling back to you. Ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few? ‘Cause I always do. Maybe I’m too busy being yours to fall for somebody new.” -Do I Wanna Know?, Arctic Monkeys
If Freddie stopped to really think about it, he’d admit that he expected this to be over with pretty fast. For all Roger’s teasing, he expected them to fuck once and go to sleep.
Evidently Roger was serious.
He’d finally kicked his jeans and underwear off, as flushed as Freddie and shaking with aftershocks. Freddie’s cramped bed really wasn’t the ideal place for this; Roger couldn’t even lie down properly, he had to sprawl half on top of Freddie, his face pressed against Freddie’s neck. Speaking of, the mark was throbbing, and he shivered as Roger ran a curious finger over it. He knew marks were meant to be sensitive (not as much as bond marks, but close enough), but it had never felt this sensitive.
Then again, Roger had never put in such an effort to marking him.
Then again, they’d never slept together before.
Christ, that had really just happened. He wanted a moment to wrap his mind around it, to just think about. He half-expected Roger to stumble off to the shower and that would be that.
He jerked in surprise when Roger slipped a finger back into him.
“Rog- oh! ”
His nails dug into Roger’s arm; at Roger’s smug little chuckle, Freddie slapped his bicep. Roger didn’t waste any time either; he was still a little shaky, but he soon had three fingers back in Freddie, thrusting roughly, and Freddie clung to him, eyes squeezed shut. He felt almost dizzy; damn it all, he hadn’t had sex since this fake relationship started and he hadn’t expected to have any until it ended. The last thing he expected was this.
(There’d been moments when he wondered, when he hoped- but he didn’t really expect it to happen.)
“Fred?” Roger’s voice was still a little hoarse. “Freddie, look at me.”
Gasping, biting back a whine, Freddie forced his eyes open- and Roger’s expression entirely took him aback. Still blushing, still a little breathless...And he looked awed.
“What?” Freddie asked; he hated how his voice cracked, but Roger’s breath hitched and his fingers slowed.
“You’re fucking gorgeous,” he breathed and- and Freddie just couldn’t handle it, he didn’t know if Roger even meant any of this, or if he was still tipsy. He looked like he meant it, but did Freddie dare get his hopes up? The awe on Roger’s face, his own confused tornado of emotions, combined with Roger’s fingers just teasing now, had him burying his face in Roger’s chest with a whimper.
“Oh, look at that,” Roger teased. “Is the great sex symbol himself tired already?”
Somehow, that did it. That made something in Freddie’s brain just snap. If Roger didn’t mean it, if this was just a one-off deal, then fuck it all to hell Freddie was going to make the most of it.
Growling, he shoved Roger onto his back, wincing when his fingers were pulled out too roughly. Roger let out a surprised yelp but Freddie didn’t give him any time to recover; he pinned Roger to the mattress, hands tight on his wrists.
“You wish, darling,” he said roughly, and Roger’s grin grew.
“No,” he said, slightly breathless. “I really fucking don’t.”
“You want a revelation, you want to get it right, but it's a conversation I just can't have tonight. You want a revelation, some kind of resolution, you want a revelation. No light, no light in your bright blue eyes, I never knew daylight could be so violent. A revelation in the light of day, you can't choose what stays and what fades away.” -No Light, No Light, Florence And The Machine
“Well?” Brian demanded as soon as they were home. “Do you know?”
“We know,” Roger said happily, his arm still snug around Freddie’s waist.
“And?” Deacy was actually bouncing on the spot. Roger almost felt bad- key word being almost.
“And you don’t know,” Freddie said sweetly and Roger watched with mounting glee and amusement as Brian and Deacy slowly realised…
“What!? You’re not telling us?” Brian looked like a wounded puppy, but Roger’s grin widened.
“Not yet,” he said cheerfully; Deacy’s eyebrow twitched. Brian wilted on the spot.
“You do realise we’ll know once you start buying baby things?” Deacy pointed out.
“Then you’ll just have to wait until we start shopping,” Roger said and it was truly a struggle not to laugh. He momentarily squeezed Freddie tighter, smiling down at him. Freddie’s hair curled about his face, his eyes caught the light, almost glowing and Roger had to fight to keep quiet, to not just say it all in front of Brian and Deacy. They’d wait until Brian and Deacy were asleep to talk properly, that was the plan; they’d been too giddy in the car and anyway, the drive home wasn’t nearly long enough to explain everything he was feeling. He wasn’t even sure one night would be enough.
Damn Brian and his perceptive eyes, he started to smile.
There was a frantic pounding on the door.
“Guys?” came Mary’s voice. “Are you home? Freddie!?”
Instantly, Roger’s stomach sank. Something was wrong. His immediate thought was that Mary was hurt, or her dad was sick, but as Freddie ran to open the door he saw that Mary was holding a magazine tightly to her chest.
“I have some news,” she said weakly.
“Darling, what’s wrong?” Freddie asked frantically. “Are you hurt? What’s going on?”
She shook her head, handing him the magazine; whatever she wanted him to see, she had it book-marked...And suddenly Roger knew.
He should have known. Foster and Sheffield had been eerily quiet the last three days.
Freddie read the article and paled; his next breath came in a shaky gasp and Brian went to him, reaching him before Roger could.
“Fred, you should sit down,” he began- but when he saw what Freddie was reading he blanched.
“Oh fuck,” he breathed. He looked at Roger with wide eyes. “Rog…”
Roger snatched the magazine from Freddie; he barely heard Mary’s soothing words, or Deacy’s frightened questions. He could only stare at the article’s title…
“BABY QUEEN! ROGER TAYLOR AND FREDDIE MERCURY EXPECTING!”
Underneath was a blurry image from a security camera and Roger knew that reception all too well; it was EMI’s reception with it’s big marble desk and potted plants- and walking through that reception was Queen. Roger and Freddie were hand in hand and a red circle had been drawn over Freddie’s stomach, highlighting the baby bump.
The first sentence confirmed what he already knew; “An anonymous source at EMI tells us that Mercury, Roger Taylor’s Omega and the frontman of Queen, is now three months along and due in February.”
His heart was pounding, his hands were shaking, he could barely even see straight. Snarling, growling, he ripped the magazine in half and dropped it on the floor.
He looked at Freddie’s big frightened eyes and snapped.
With an angry shout, he turned and punched the wall so hard his knuckles bled.
The angst is just beginning...
Chapter 8: Scandal
The boys meet with Foster and Sheffield. No one's happy.
EMI really do have a way of ruining everything, don't they?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Hey scandal, they're gonna turn our lives into a freak show. They'll see the heart-ache, they'll see our love break. They'll hear me pleading, we'll say ‘For God's sakes!’ over and over and over again. Scandal! Now you've left me there's no healing the wounds. Hey scandal, and all the world can make us out to be fools. Here come the bad news, open the floodgates.” -Scandal, Queen
That very evening there was a call from Foster; he wanted them all to come into the office tomorrow to “discuss these unfortunate events.”
Roger wasn’t fooled for a fucking second. Foster and Sheffield were responsible for the leak, he knew it. It was because he’d told them off, because he said no. They never took it well when they didn’t get their way. They always found a way to make Queen miserable whenever they disagreed or stuck up for themselves.
He sat at the kitchen table as Freddie cleaned his bleeding knuckles, wrapping them up, and the whole time Freddie didn’t say a word. He still looked too pale and although his hands were steady his lower lip trembled.
“We’ll find out who did this,” Mary vowed, but Roger knew. One glance at the fury on Brian’s face and the tired resignation on Deacy’s told him that his boys knew too.
But Freddie didn’t give a hint as to what he was thinking. If he knew who was to blame he didn’t show it.
And although Roger wanted nothing more than to hunt those bastards down, he couldn’t help but feel responsible. He should have known they’d lash out. He should have known they’d find a way to take back control.
And he knew how society worked. He knew who’d get the brunt of the criticism.
He was proven right the next day. The drive to EMI was quiet; Freddie was wearing one of Roger’s coats, the better to hide the bump with, but he could see the anxiety swimming in Freddie’s eyes. In the back of the van, Deacy was biting at his thumbnail and it was obvious Brian hadn’t gotten much sleep.
None of them had. They were all preparing for the press to swoop in. Hell, Roger had expected to wake up to a crowd of them outside their apartment building.
Instead, they were waiting for Queen at EMI.
There were at least twenty reporters outside EMI’s front doors and although security were frowning at them, they made no move to keep them back or ask them to leave. Instead, as Queen approached and the reporters pounced, security stood back and watched.
(Maybe Roger was paranoid, but he was willing to bet they’d been told to stay back.)
“Freddie!” one man yelled, shoving his mic in Freddie’s face. “Any word on the gender yet? Isn’t this reckless before marriage?”
And that started a tidal wave.
“Do you and Roger have any plans to bond soon?”
“When’s the wedding?”
“What do your parents think?”
Roger wanted to scream. The press normally ignored Freddie, but here they were shouting over each other and crowding him. The cameras flashed so rapidly that Roger’s eyes stung and Freddie buried his face in Roger’s shoulder, clinging to his arm.
“Alright, the lot of you back off!” Roger shouted over them. Brian, openly snarling, took hold of Freddie’s other arm and began to elbow his way through the crowd, leading them to the door. Deacy pushed ahead of them, keeping the reporters right at the door back, glaring at security.
“What about the child, Freddie, it deserves a proper family!”
“Are your parents angry? Disappointed?”
“Freddie, why did you hide it?”
“Your fans deserve to know!”
“Get him inside,” Roger muttered to Brian; he could see the tell-tale signs of an anxiety attack building; Freddie had his eyes squeezed shut, he was trembling all over and his breathing was rapidly becoming irregular. Brian nodded, taking Freddie from Roger and ushering him inside. Deacy held the door open, shooting one last glare at the crowd before slamming it shut in their faces. The front doors were glass, but thankfully Brian had the sense to move away from the doors and windows. Just like that, they were hidden from the reporters’ line of sight.
And Roger stood in front of the doors, fists clenched, trying not to shout.
“Listen here,” he snapped. “We’re not answering any questions about our baby and the next time you swarm my boyfriend like that you’ll be hearing from our manager! Got it?”
Although most of the reporters looked annoyed, some nodded in agreement; being an angry Alpha came in handy. People tended to listen, even if it was only for a little while, even if it was only to shut him up.
When he rounded on the security guards they at least had the grace to look ashamed.
“You’re fucking useless, ” Roger snarled. One security guard looked away uncomfortably, the other ducked his head, while the third winced.
Roger stormed inside, slamming the glass door so hard he was surprised it didn’t shatter.
When they reached Foster’s office, Miami, Reid, Prenter and Sheffield were all there. Sheffield almost looked bored, sitting cross-legged on one of the armchairs; Foster, on the other hand, couldn’t keep the smug smirk off his face. Reid looked tired, Miami looked angrier than Roger had ever seen him and Prenter, of course, didn’t seem to care at all, though he too smirked at Roger when they came in; he glared at Freddie’s stomach but stayed obediently by Reid’s side.
“We’ll get to the bottom of this, boys, don’t worry,” Sheffield said smoothly. “I can’t imagine who would do such a thing.”
It was you, Roger thought furiously. And I bet those tabloids paid well.
Because when it came to Sheffield and Foster, money was at the root of it all. No matter how much money they had, it was never enough. No matter how much power they had, it was never enough.
They were easily the greediest people he’d ever met.
He never thought he’d hate anyone as much as he hated his father until he met them.
“You really have no idea?” Reid asked, frowning.
“So far, no,” Sheffield said.
“Well it was obviously someone who had access to the security cameras.”
“We’re working on it,” Foster cut in. Miami’s eyes narrowed suspiciously; Freddie glanced at Foster, his hair falling in his eyes. Unlike the previous night, his suspicion was obvious now.
“In the meantime, we’ve arranged an interview with the BBC on Friday,” Foster continued.
“What?” all four of them cried. Freddie’s hands flew back to his stomach.
“People have questions about your next album,” Foster said with a shrug. “Come to that, we have questions. Have you even picked a theme yet?”
“Not yet,” Brian said through gritted teeth.
“I told you, no slacking off,” Foster snapped, glaring solely at Freddie. And although Freddie was clearly exhausted, he glared right back.
“They won’t be asking about the album, they’ll be asking about the baby, ” Roger protested.
“So what if they do?” Sheffield cut in smoothly. “It’s only natural that your fans will be curious. You can clear some things up.”
“Such as?” Brian’s tone was clipped.
“They don’t seem to appreciate being kept in the dark,” Sheffield said.
“We’re allowed keep some things private,” Freddie said, finally sitting up straight. “I don’t...I don’t want to tell them about my baby.”
“Well isn’t it just too bad that what you want doesn’t matter?” Foster sneered. “So long as you work for us, you follow our rules. If they ask about the album, you’ll answer. If they ask about the kid, you’ll answer.”
“Ray, for goodness’s sake,” Reid protested. “Be reasonable. Some of those questions get very personal. It’s just Omega modesty shining through.”
“Omega modesty,” Foster snorted. “Good one.”
“I won’t answer,” Freddie swore. “I won’t. ”
“Good luck with that,” Sheffield said.
“They have a right to privacy,” Miami said coldly. “As you well know.”
“These questions will be asked until the child is born,” Sheffield said. He looked at Miami steadily, like he hadn’t a care in the world. “They should answer sooner rather than later. Like I said; clear the air.”
Roger desperately wanted to punch him. He wanted to sweep the stationary and paper-weights off Foster’s desk, he wanted to rip the gold discs off the walls and smash the windows. He wanted to slam Foster’s head against the desk.
He could feel his hands starting to shake; for a moment everyone’s voices sounded muffled.
But then a familiar hand, small and warm, closed over his.
Startled back to reality, he looked down; Freddie was holding his hand, steadily meeting Foster’s condescending gaze.
“Thank you for the advice,” Freddie said flatly. “But we’ll handle this in our own time.”
It seemed to take a moment for the two Alphas to hear the Fuck off in that sentence, but when they did their smiles fell into almost simultaeneous glares.
A long, tense pause followed. Miami pressed his lips together in a vain attempt to hide his smile; even Reid looked momentarily amused.
Freddie just smiled sweetly, still holding Roger’s hand, still grounding him.
Finally, Sheffield managed an icy smile.
“And the walls kept tumbling down in the city that we love; grey clouds roll over the hills, bringing darkness from above. But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing changed at all? And if you close your eyes does it almost feel like you’ve been here before? How am I gonna be an optimist about this?” -Pompeii, Bastille
The press were still waiting as they left EMI, but Miami was a trooper; he helped them push through the crowd and the reporters were fast to back off when the heard the words, “I’m their lawyer.”
“It’ll be okay, boys,” he said as they reached the van. “We’ll sort this out.”
“We know who it was,” Roger said. Miami nodded.
“But we’ve no real proof,” he said tiredly. He gave a wan smile. “But we’ll figure it out, I promise.”
“I just don’t understand why, ” Freddie said.
“Money,” Miami said and Freddie instantly drooped. What little sparkle he had in his eyes today just died.
“Yeah,” Freddie mumbled. “That’d be it.” Roger helped him into the van and they were soon heading home.
“We’ll handle this,” Brian said when they got inside. “We will.”
“Oh please, we all know how this will go,” Freddie said flatly. He flung his borrowed jacket off, throwing it onto the coffee table. “I’m going to be called an irresponsible whore until this child is born, they’ll accuse me of not thinking of the baby, they’re going to call me stupid and reckless and-” His voice broke. He flopped onto the sofa, burying his face in his hands. “I’m fucking sick of this, I hate them.”
“I won’t let them away with it,” Roger promised. He pulled Freddie close, ignoring his whine of protest. “Freddie, I swear, I won’t let them talk about you like that.”
“They always have, darling, you can’t stop them,” Freddie said tiredly. The worst part, Roger thought, was that it was true. The press had always been the harshest with Freddie, constantly saying that he needed to be reigned in and reminded of his proper place.
And maybe Roger hadn’t been able to shut them up in the past, not really, but there was no way he’d take this lying down. The press had no idea what they were talking about; Freddie wasn’t irresponsible, he was already doing his best to take care of their baby. He’d stopped smoking, he’d stopped drinking, he didn’t even eat junk food much anymore. He rested when he needed to, he didn’t push himself. It wasn’t his fault he was in so much pain, he did what he could to elevate that.
The press wouldn’t see any of that and Roger knew it- but if they thought for one second he’d let them insult Freddie and call him a bad father, they had another thing coming.
And if Sheffield and Foster thought he’d take this lying down, they’d better think again.
He knew they were responsible for the leak. They were responsible for how anxious and stressed Freddie was.
Those bastards were going to pay.
Let the angst and drama begin.
Chapter 9: Look What You Made Me Do
Freddie's anxiety rises; after an interview that goes south, Brian comes up with a plan...
Freddie deserves happiness, damn it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“But I took your hand, promised I'd withstand any blaze you blew my way. 'Cause something inside, it solidified, and I knew I'd always stay. You can build me up, you can tear me down, you can try but I'm unbreakable. You can do your best, but I'll stand the test. You'll find that I'm unshakeable.” -Heart Of Stone, Six: The Musical
The day before their interview was Deacy’s birthday. Originally, they were planning on taking Deacy out but with this stupid interview they couldn’t afford to be too tired or hung over the next day.
The plans changed; they were still throwing him a surprise party, but now they were staying home. Veronica was staying the night (poor Brimi had volunteered his bed to Freddie and was now sleeping on the sofa); everyone else would hopefully go home.
So while Roger distracted Deacy all day, Brian went to collect Deacy’s mother and sister from the train station and Veronica and Mary offered to decorate the flat, Freddie went to collect the cake.
And that was when things started to go wrong.
People were staring. That wasn’t too unusual; in fact it was becoming a regular occurrence since their Killer Queen performance on the BBC. Even the whispers weren’t unusual.
But then he realised what people were saying.
“What does Roger see in him?”
“-totally to trap Roger-”
Again and again, the whole walk there; “Slut, slut, slut.”
He tried to block it out. He clenched his hands to keep them from shaking, but he still nearly dropped the money as he collected the cake. The cashier looked at him and Freddie, to his increasing dismay, saw recognition in the man’s eyes. He looked at Freddie’s stomach and frowned; as he turned away, Freddie heard him mutter, “Stupid slut.”
“Slut, slut, slut.”
Part of him wanted to demand an apology; he wanted to stick up for himself like usual, he wanted to snap that it wasn’t fair. It took two people to make a baby, why was he the only one being criticised?
But he froze. He felt dizzy, he wanted to throw up. He clutched the cake box so tightly he was afraid of crushing the stupid thing and wrecking Deacy’s day. God, if he went home like this, all shaky and quiet, he’d definitely ruin Deacy’s day. He had to get a grip. He’d faced worse than this. What the hell was wrong with him?
“Slut, slut, slut.”
Damn it, he was so, so fed up; he was exhausted and sick, and when he reached the end of their street he started to run. He just wanted to get home, he wanted everyone to stop staring; he wanted all the pointing and sneers to just stop. It wasn’t just Freddie; it felt like they were laughing at his baby, sneering at his child and he couldn’t stand it. Sudden tears blurred his vision- he wanted to blame it on hormones, but it wasn’t that, not entirely. He ran the entire length of the street to their flat, nearly tripping into the front door.
“Slut, slut, slut.”
This wasn’t fucking fair.
“Slut, slut, slut.”
“No I’m not,” Freddie muttered, without knowing who he was even meant to be talking to. He was alone in the dimly lit corridor, clutching a cake box to his chest, trying to get his breathing under control. Who the hell was he trying to fool? The baby kicked again and again, each kick growing in strength; it didn’t help the urge to throw up.
He wiped at his eyes and plastered a smile on his face as he went upstairs. Just his luck, Veronica and Mary took one look at him and knew.
“Sweetie, what’s wrong?” Mary asked, taking the box and setting it aside. “You’re shaking.”
“Just sick,” Freddie said, which wasn’t quite a lie. He looked around and forced another smile. “The decorations look lovely.” They did; the girls had put up streamers everywhere and scattered handfuls of confetti on the kitchen table and strung up a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHN!” banner over the sofa.
“...Someone said something, didn’t they?” Veronica asked gently; of course she realised. She was an Omega too, she was all too used to being leered at and looked down upon.
“Nothing worse than usual,” Freddie said with a dismissive wave of his hand.
“I’m sorry,” Mary said, looking anguished. “I should have gone instead, I-”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Freddie pushed past her, avoiding eye-contact. “I can’t hide inside all the time, that would be stupid. Anyone else want tea?”
“You should tell Roger,” Mary persisted, but when Freddie frowned at her she sighed, folding her arms. She looked to Veronica, but Veronica only said, “I’m with Freddie.”
“Okay, fine,” she sighed. “ Fine. But I still think you should tell him.”
“Later,” Freddie said. Because fuck it all, it was Deacy’s birthday; today was not the day for tears or anxiety.
Fuck everyone else. They didn’t matter; his friends mattered. This was Deacy’s day, and Freddie wouldn’t let anyone (not even himself) spoil it.
BBC Studios, London, August 20th
“You may have my number, you can take my name, but you'll never have my heart. Let the sky fall. When it crumbles, we will stand tall, face it all together.” -Skyfall, Adele
As much as Brian despised miming, he had to give the BBC some credit; their interviews were usually interesting. Theirs were some of the first interviewers to actually address Freddie directly, or ask him relevant questions.
Not this time.
The interviewer was a Beta woman named Lisa, smartly dressed in a dark blue suit and highheels. They’d never been interviewed by her before, Brian couldn’t even recall seeing her on TV before. She was new, and that made Brian nervous. He didn’t know what to expect from her.
She didn’t leave him wondering for long; she smilingly introduced him, Roger and Deacy, but described Freddie only as “Roger’s Omega.”
There was polite applause from the audience, but Roger drew himself up; his grip on Freddie’s waist almost looked painful.
“Let’s get one thing clear,” Roger snapped. “His name is Freddie, and he’s our lead singer.”
To Brian’s increasing frustration, Lisa only smiled. “Of course,” she said sweetly, but she didn’t correct herself; she launched straight into the questions, thankfully asking about their next album.
“You’re expected to have it out by next year,” she said. “But there’s rumours about the album’s theme already. Can we have any hints, Brian?”
“Oh...All I can say is we want to change things up,” Brian said. “Really show off what we can do.” It was all they had so far; they wanted this album to be theatrical; they wanted to push their limits and cross boundaries. They just weren’t sure how yet.
“Mysterious,” Lisa laughed. “And, well, I’m sure your fans are concerned- you’re all recovered now?”
“Completely,” Brian replied.
“But you’re not finishing your tour?”
There was a brief, awkward pause. “Well…”
“Though I suppose you can’t now,” she said, with a pointed look at Freddie’s stomach. She seemed oblivious to Roger’s glare. “Roger, can we expect a proposal any time soon?”
Roger gave an awkward laugh, holding Freddie so close that the Omega was nearly on his lap. “That would be telling,” he said. The audience let out an exaggerated “Oooh!” while Lisa’s smile widened; she winked at the audience before turning back to Roger.
“Oh, you have to make an honest man out of him!”
The audience laughed and clapped, but Queen stayed stony.
“Well,” Roger said slowly. “I won’t be proposing on TV, will I?”
“I...Suppose not.” Lisa seemed bewildered as to why he wasn’t playing along. She turned to Deacy. “Well, happy late birthday, John! Can we expect any more songs from you on the next album?”
“I’ve a few ideas,” Deacy lied smoothly. For a few minutes she just asked about the album, John’s birthday and what it was like to work for EMI. Brian was just daring to relax when she said, “Any news on the gender, Roger?”
“We decided not to know,” Roger lied, clenching his jaw.
“Oh, why not?”
“Considering the news was leaked before we wanted it to be, we figured it’d be safer to not look ourselves.”
There was another uncomfortable pause, but Lisa nodded in agreement. “I see,” she said; she certainly looked sympathetic. “I’m sure this is a difficult time for you, Roger. Any idea who did this?”
“It’s a hard time for us, ” Roger finally snapped. “Actually I’d say it’s harder for Freddie since he’s the one everyone’s bullying.”
“Rog,” Freddie said tiredly. He’d been pale and drooping from the moment they got up; he’d been sick twice and had been left shivering for the entire drive to the BBC. For once, he’d seemed almost grateful to be ignored, but not now.
“Bullying?” Lisa tilted her head. “I’d hardly call it bullying, Roger.”
Finally, there was some bloody emotion on Freddie’s face. He finally looked annoyed. “Then what do you call it, dear?” he asked icily. She glanced at him, raised her eyebrows and looked back to Roger. Before she could say anything, Roger cut over her; “ I’d call it bullying. What else do you call someone making stupid allegations and calling someone a slut or an idiot?”
“Well…” She raised her eyebrows pointedly at Freddie’s stomach, shaking her head. “Like I said, I wouldn’t call it bullying.”
No, Brian thought. You’d call it a fact.
Freddie went even paler, though his eyes were flashing. Brian had a lovely image of hitting Lisa on the head with her high heels. There was snickering from the audience and that did it; Roger pulled Freddie to his feet.
“Forget this,” he snapped. “I’m not doing any interviews with someone who thinks it’s okay to treat my boyfriend like shit.” Ignoring Lisa’s shocked stare, Roger pulled Freddie away, back in the direction of the dressing room.
Brian turned to Lisa with a sharp smile.
“Well, that goes for me too,” he said brightly. “We’ve always said we won’t do interviews where Freddie is treated badly.” He followed Roger and Freddie, Deacy right at his heels.
Roger had indeed brought Freddie back to their dressing room; Freddie was doubled over, gasping.
“Fred?” Brian ran over, wrapping an arm around him. “Okay, deep breaths, it’s okay.”
“I’m sick of this,” Freddie sobbed. “Fuck, it’s only been a week and I can’t stand this anymore.”
“Freddie, please, you have to calm down,” Roger pleaded. “It’s not good for the baby.”
It was obvious he was doing his best; he breathed in sharply, holding his breath before he released it slowly; his eyes were still closed, his hands were shaking terribly, but his breathing slowly began to even out.
“Boys?” Reid was in the doorway, frowning. “Look, I...Sorry about all that. I get it, I do, but Foster’s going to lose it.”
“When does he not? ” Deacy huffed; far from intimidated, he just looked annoyed. “We can handle that creep.”
Brian looked at Roger; he seemed torn between shouting and crying, teary-eyed but clearly furious. And then there was Freddie, still shaking, eyes still closed as he forced himself to keep calm.
If there was anything Brian could do to help them, anything he could do to keep that baby safe, he’d do it.
Foster wasn’t about to intimidate them into silence.
“But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time. Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time. I've got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined; I check it once, then I check it twice, oh! Ooh, look what you made me do.” -Look What You Made Me Do, Taylor Swift
As soon as they got home, Freddie went to rest and Roger followed him. While Deacy set about making lunch, Brian made a call to Miami.
“Miami, it’s Brian. Listen, we all know it was Foster or Sheffield that leaked the pregnancy. Maybe it was both, I don’t know. I don’t care. But we need a way to make them shut up and leave Freddie alone. He...He’s so stressed and anxious, this isn’t healthy. He’s already sick and in pain, this isn’t helping.”
“I know,” Miami sighed; he sounded as upset as Brian felt. “But what proof do we have?”
“Well, like Reid said, it was obviously someone who had access to the security cameras,” Brian said. “They both do.”
“So does the entire security team,” Miami pointed out. “They’ll just blame it on a member of security.”
“Maybe so,” Brian said, his brain in a whirl, ideas flying through so fast he could barely keep up. Slowly, he started to smile. “That may just work in our favour.”
“Head of security...Philip, right? Has a family, new baby and all.” He’d been one of the few people to genuinely congratulate Freddie and Roger. He’d shown them pictures of his family; his Omega husband, their four small children and their newborn. “Young kids, his husband’s on unpaid paternity leave...And EMI isn’t exactly paying him well either.”
“Where are you going with this Brian?”
“I think it’s time to think like Sheffield,” Brian said. “And make Philip talk.”
Planned for next time; doctor appointments, Brian and Miami confronting Philip, and hopefully the last of the flashbacks.
Chapter 10: Play With Fire
Brian, Deacy and Miami make their move.
I'm feeling a little more focused today; took some time to myself to try and process the shock, so while this chapter isn't exactly what I wanted, I'm feeling much happier with it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Can't look back, can't look too far ahead. I got the point, I got the message. I'm just a little bit caught in the middle, I try to keep going but it's not that simple. I think I'm a little bit caught in the middle. I gotta keep going or they'll call me a quitter. Yeah, I'm caught in the middle.” -Caught In The Middle, Paramore
Brian felt almost sick with nerves. Today he, Deacy and Miami would be confronting Philip while Roger and Freddie went to the doctor.
As Brian bustled about making breakfast, Freddie flipped through a book of baby names.
“Find any good ones?” Deacy asked with faux innocence. Freddie nodded without looking up.
“Yeah, I really like-” He cut himself off, frowning suspiciously at Deacy. “Nice try, darling.”
“Please, Fred, this is killing me.”
“Maybe this’ll teach you not to be so nosy,” Roger said with a grin. Brian barely refrained from pointing out that he and Freddie still hadn’t really sorted themselves out. If you asked him it was clear they had real feelings for each other; they were all but together, but they still hadn’t had a discussion about it.
But he’d worry about that later. For now, he had a security guard to interrogate.
Roger couldn’t help but frown as Atwood shook her head and wrote out a new prescription.
“I think I’m taking more than enough tablets,” Freddie joked weakly.
“For the nausea and pain, yes,” Atwood said. “These will help keep your anxiety in check.”
Freddie sighed, but took the prescription. Roger had to admit, he’d been worried about Freddie’s anxiety levels; they just seemed to keep growing. The more tired, ill and in pain he was, the more anxious he got that he wasn’t taking good care of the baby. The more the press heckled him, the more anxious he got. Roger had never seen him so wound up before.
Outside, Freddie kept scowling at the prescription.
“This is ridiculous,” he said. “Everyone else can carry a baby without needing an entire pharmacy’s worth of help! I haven’t needed anxiety medication since I was thirteen! ” He looked wretched, crumpling the paper before Roger could stop him. “...Am I doing something wrong?” Freddie asked quietly. “I just...Shouldn’t this be easier?”
“You’re doing nothing wrong,” Roger said fiercely. He grabbed Freddie’s hand, tugging the Omega against his side. “Freddie, some people...Just have a harder time of it than others, that’s all.”
Freddie sighed somewhat impatiently, one hand resting on his stomach. “I just hate feeling like I need so much help all the time,” he said. “I feel like I can’t even look after the baby on my own.”
“Yeah, well, I hate feeling like I can’t help either of you,” Roger admitted. He patted the baby bump, smiling at the small kick he felt.
“You help plenty,” Freddie said.
Roger wasn’t sure he agreed with that; if he had his way, Freddie wouldn’t be feeling so ill all the time; he wouldn’t be in pain. If Roger could magically fix everything, he would. He wished it could be like the films or TV shows: an easy, happy pregnancy with no troubles at all.
But he couldn’t snap his fingers and make it all better.
So instead he managed a smile and asked, “Speaking of the baby, how’s Peanut?”
“Kicking a lot, ” Freddie laughed; he instantly lit up and Roger never wanted him to stop looking like that. Like he was glowing. “Seems to crave sweets a lot.”
“Well, I can help with that.” He twirled the van’s keys and grinned. “How about we grab some ice cream?”
Freddie beamed up at him; he let go of Roger’s hand, and pulled Roger’s arm over his shoulders instead.
“Lead the way.”
“These golden ashes turn to dirt. I've always liked to play with fire. Play with fire. Play with fire. Fire, fire. I've always liked to play with fire. Oh, watching as the flames get higher. Oh, I've always liked to play with…” -Play With Fire, Sam Tinnesz
Brian wondered if Philip had been expecting this; he took one look at Brian, with Miami and Deacy standing behind him and went pale. The surveillance room was dark and cramped; the cameras on the walls showed almost every inch of the building, the car park and the outdoor smoking area. A quick glance showed Sheffield in a meeting with Foster and other executives. Perfect.
“Any luck on finding who’s responsible for the leak?” Brian asked, folding his arms.
“None yet,” Philip said, glancing at the cameras.
“Hm...You’re sure about that?” Brian asked. He glanced back at Miami; the older Alpha nodded encouragingly. Brian continued, frowning down at Philip. “Because we got a call from Sheffield yesterday,” he lied. “Something Reid said struck a chord with him. See, Reid said that the leak had to come from someone with access to the cameras…”
Philip was going paler and paler.
“Seems Sheffield thinks it’s you. ”
“Me!?” Philip was white as a sheet, hands shaking.
“You,” Deacy said cooly.
“He’s already talking of firing you,” Miami lied. “There was an...argument with Roger about Freddie’s health. Sheffield’s worried that if anything happens to the baby that he could be blamed.”
“But it wasn’t me!”
“No?” Miami raised an eyebrow. “I don’t believe you.”
“It wasn’t!” Philip protested. “I swear, it wasn’t. God, Sheffield, he- he can’t fire me, my husband, he-”
“Has just had a baby,” Miami finished. “We know.” There was a photo of Philip’s husband and their children on a little desk in the corner. “So that’s why I’m struggling to understand why, as a father, you’d put another pregnant Omega at risk. Freddie’s very ill, Philip. He-”
“It wasn’t me!” Brian was startled to see tears in Philip’s eyes. “It wasn’t me, I promise, I’d never, I- Freddie’s a good kid, I’d never put a baby at risk like that!”
“So if it wasn’t you then who was it?” Brian demanded. “Let’s say I believe you, and it wasn’t you. Who was it?”
“I don’t know…”
“You’re lying,” Deacy cut in. “You’re head of security. You have to have seen something, you know. ”
Miami strolled over to the photo, bending down slightly to get a better look. “Cute kids,” he commented. “Your husband’s on unpaid paternity leave, isn’t he? Money must be tight, hm? Maybe you hoped the tabloids would pay well- after all, Sheffield doesn’t.”
“But it wasn’t me!” Philip stood up so abruptly his chair fell. A tear escaped and he pressed his hands against his eyes. “It wasn’t me, it was Sheffield!”
Silence reigned. Philip looked sick.
Miami started to smirk.
“Bingo,” he said.
“...You knew,” Philip realised.
“Of course we did,” Brian cut in. “We’re not idiots. The man owns this company, of course he has access to the cameras.”
“But you knew it was him too,” Miami said. “Did he admit it, or were you there?”
“...I was there,” Philip admitted in a mortified whisper. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, I know I shouldn’t have gone along with it, but- but you’re right, money’s tight right now. We’ve five children, my husband’s stuck looking after them alone all day, we’re…”
“Struggling,” Deacy finished quietly. His eyes shone with sympathy, even as he did his best to glare. “So are we. So are Rog and Freddie, even more so now.”
“I know,” Philip said, avoiding eye contact.
“Sheffield paid you off then?” Miami asked.
“He gave me double my salary,” Philip said. “Said he will do until my husband’s back in work.”
“You do realise Sheffield would gladly sell you out? We’re not joking about that; you’re his shield,” Miami pointed out. “It’s your word against his.”
“But it’s not! I have the tape.” Philip turned back to the monitors, pressing too many buttons to count- and suddenly, they were looking at the surveillance room; they watched as Sheffield walked in and spoke with Philip; they were clearly arguing, but eventually Sheffield won out. Philip pulled up footage of Freddie and Roger wandering the halls; the angle gave them a clear view of Freddie’s baby bump. Sheffield nodded in approval; Philip reluctantly handed him a tape, and Sheffield left.
Philip pressed a few more buttons and the camera switched to the hallway; they watched Sheffield, holding the tape, head to Foster’s office. Another press of a button and the footage sped up; after a moment, Sheffield left Foster’s office, still holding the tape.
“There,” Philip sighed, slumping tiredly, fumbling for the fallen chair. “You see? It was him.”
Brian and Deacy looked at Miami; their lawyer had a small smirk on his face.
“Perfect,” he said. “We can work with that. Philip, we’re going to need that tape. We’ll take it from here.”
“But…” Philip eyed them warily, but they were deadly serious.
“This isn’t a game,” Miami said coldly. “This is an invasion of privacy, something you can be sued for. This is something Sheffield would gladly let you take the fall for. Now, we’re going to need that tape. I promise, after this Sheffield will be in no position to threaten you.”
“Please,” Deacy said. “We’re just trying to protect the baby.”
That did it. Philip nodded; he still looked frightened and pale, but he gave them the tape.
“I suck your mind, you blow my head. Make love! Inside your bed, everybody. get down make love. Get down make love. Get down make love.” -Get Down, Make Love, Queen
The mess on Freddie’s stomach was nothing compared to the mess between his legs, and Roger was doing his level best not to stare.
“You okay?” he asked, propped up on his elbow. Freddie nodded, humming tiredly, eyelids drooping. The only light in the room came from the streetlamp outside, glowing orange and no one looked good in that light, but Roger couldn’t look away all the same. Freddie’s hair was a mess, the mark on his neck was nearly black, the darkest it had ever been. His chest heaved as his breathing slowed back to normal, hickeys littered his neck and chest and bruises in the shape of Roger’s fingertips were already forming on his thighs and hips. What’s more, he smelled more like Roger than he smelled like himself.
He looked a mess.
He looked beautiful.
“Hm?” Freddie cracked an eye open with a tired, vacant smile.
You’re beautiful. You’re amazing. I can’t believe we just did that. I can’t believe you wanted me to do that. Did you want me to do that? I didn’t hurt you, did I? Are you sure you’re okay? You’re too good for me, I love you.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
“We should clean up,” Roger managed in a weak croak. “I mean- shower…”
Freddie’s smile wavered, but he nodded and allowed Roger to help him to his feet.
Roger wanted to kiss him. He wanted to hold onto him and never let him go.
Instead, he went ahead and set the shower up, searching for Freddie’s favourite fluffy towels.
“Another day, and you've had your fill of sinking. With the life held in your hands are shaking cold. These hands are meant to hold. Speak to me. When all you gotta keep is strong, move along, move along like I know you do.” -Move Along, The All American Rejects
After the doctor's appointment, it was a quiet afternoon. Roger and Freddie lounged about, watching TV or flipping through the book of baby names. Right now they were curled up on the sofa, Freddie tucked up against Roger’s side with Roger’s arm thrown over his shoulders, holding him close.
“I was wondering- maybe we could pick a Persian name?” Roger suggested. “Or an Indian one?”
“Why?” Freddie asked, seemingly genuinely surprised.
“They’re gorgeous,” Roger said. He pointed to a name he particularly liked. “They’re gorgeous,” he repeated. “They grab your attention. I think it’d really stand out.”
“...That is a pretty name,” Freddie admitted, but there was a certain reluctance in his voice. “I don’t know, Rog. I just...People are cruel about anything different.”
“I’ll stop them,” Roger said, perfectly serious. The kid wasn’t even here yet, but if anyone did anything to hurt his baby, he’d ruin them.
“I know you would, darling,” Freddie said with a smile.
Which was when Brian and Deacy came home- and to Roger’s confusion, they had Miami with them.
“What’s all this?” Roger asked.
Brian held up a tape with a triumphant grin.
“We’ve got it,” he said gleefully. “It was Sheffield who told the press about the baby and we can prove it. ”
Freddie dropped the book; Roger froze, gaping at them- and slowly, he started to grin.
“Seriously?” he asked. “We’ve got him?”
“We’ve got him,” Miami confirmed.
Brian popped the tape into the VCR and they all sat back to watch; by the end, despite his mounting anger at Sheffield, Roger was grinning broadly.
“Game,” he said lowly, viciously. “Set. Match.”
They did it! Where will this take them?
Chapter 11: Death By A Thousand Cuts
The boys confront Foster and Sheffield, and some secrets are revealed...
It's time! But how will Foster and Sheffield react?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
August 24th, EMI Studios
“We stole our new lives through blood and name. In defense of our dreams, in defense of our dreams. We were the Kings and Queens of promise. We were the victims of ourselves. Maybe the children of a lesser God, between Heaven and Hell. Heaven and Hell.” -Kings And Queens, Thirty Seconds To Mars
John felt giddy. For the first time in their whole career with EMI, they had the upper hand. They could finally fight back; they finally had Sheffield and Foster backed into a corner.
If the executives had been suspicious when Reid called them to arrange a meeting they didn’t let on; they were all gathered in Sheffield’s spacious office at the top level of EMI. It was a large room, luxurious; it had a few watercolour paintings hanging on the walls (which had mildly surprised John: he wasn’t sure what he expected from Sheffield, but it wasn’t watercolours), it had plush grey sofas and matching armchairs, a thick fur rug, a few potted plants; Sheffield, of course, had his own record player and a stack of vinyls, as well as his own coffee machine- and (best of all) he had his own television and VCR in the corner. It was one of the brightest rooms in the building what with all the windows; unlike Foster, who kept his office chilly, Sheffield’s was well heated.
The Queen boys all sat together on the sofa, each of them dressed to kill and all of them sitting as perfectly straight as they could. Reid sat in one of the armchairs, barely biting back a frown (he hadn’t been happy once Brian informed him what was going on) and, sadly, Prenter sat next to Reid. Every time he looked at Freddie’s stomach his face contorted with disgust.
Well, John would be lying if he said it didn’t amuse him at all.
Just as Sheffield was getting impatient, Miami arrived with Foster in tow- and Miami, smirking, was holding the tape.
Was it John’s imagination or did Sheffield go a little pale at the sight?
“Will someone bloody tell us what this is about, already?” Foster demanded as he took a seat. As usual, he had his sunglasses on, frowning around at them all.
“It’s about the leak,” Roger said.
“We’re looking into it,” Sheffield said smoothly. He looked suspicious, wary even, when the Queen boys all smiled at him.
“No,” Brian said. “You’re not. Miami?”
His smirk widening, Miami popped the tape into the VCR; Foster went red and Sheffield definitely paled as the footage began to play.
“We had a word with Philip,” Brian said coldly. “Seems you offered him double his salary in exchange for his silence.”
“He’s lying,” Sheffield sputtered. “That could be any tape.”
“It could,” Miami agreed. “But I’m willing to bet that if I called the tabloids and explained I’m the boys’ lawyer, they’d tell me who their anonymous source is quick enough. Or am I wrong?”
“You sold us out,” Roger spat. “It’s your fault the press have been hounding us and harassing Freddie! Give us one good reason why we shouldn’t sue?”
For the first time ever, Sheffield actually looked panicked. He cleared his throat, smoothing down his suit.
“Now, now. No need for us to be too hasty. I’m sure we can-”
“There’s no we in this,” Freddie snarled; both hands rested protectively on his stomach. “You sold our private information, you had no right. ”
Foster growled; he was so red that John wondered if he would pop a vein. “Keep your mouth shut, you little-”
“Shut up.” Freddie turned to him furiously, eyes blazing. “This is my baby we’re talking about, you had no right to go to the tabloids! You sold us out for cash. You want us to keep quiet? Convince us it’s worth it.”
“I beg your pardon?” Sheffield gasped.
“You heard me,” Freddie snapped. Roger rested a hand on Freddie’s stomach; Freddie relaxed minutely, but he glared Sheffield down.
“I think you’ll find the boys are right,” Miami said mildly. Calmly, as if this happened every day, he took the last empty seat, crossing his legs. “You want to keep this out of court, don’t you?”
Lips pressed together, fists clenched, Sheffield nodded.
Miami smiled. “Perfect. So let’s talk.”
The Queen boys looked at Sheffield expectantly. Foster went to speak, but when Sheffield raised his hand he kept quiet. John waited with mounting impatience for Sheffield to make up his mind.
Eventually he sighed. “What do you want?”
“Well, the down-payment I asked for would be lovely,” Roger said cheerfully. He wrapped an arm around Freddie’s shoulders, smiling. “You keep holding back on our wages; I’m sure we’d all like the money you owe us.”
A muscle in Sheffield’s jaw twitched, but he nodded. “Done.”
“No more springing interviews on us at the last minute,” Brian said. “You can’t get pissed at us for having plans we can’t cancel, or being away when you don’t warn us that you have an interview set up. Same goes for photoshoots. From now on we all get a say in the arrangements.”
Foster scowled, Sheffield looked like he wanted to shout at them, but he nodded again.
“No more nude photoshoots without my, or Roger’s permission,” Freddie put in quickly- and oddly, Foster scoffed, while Sheffield looked more annoyed than ever. Roger’s eyes flashed, but he looked at Sheffield expectantly.
Finally, Sheffield huffed and said, “Fine. Fine. Have it your way.”
“I think that’s all,” John said with a sweet little smile; he wanted to laugh at the looks of disgust on Sheffield and Foster’s faces.
“Well, no more leaking our private information, obviously,” Roger drawled. “But that goes without saying, yeah?”
Reid looked disapprovingly at the executives, shaking his head. “This was all completely unnecessary,” he said. “I can’t understand why you pulled this, Norman.”
Sheffield didn’t deign to answer, but Foster rounded on Reid with a furious glare. God, if looks could kill they’d all be dead.
Miami sorted through his briefcase, and held out a sheet of paper.
“It’s a written agreement,” he said. “You and Ray just sign your names at the bottom. We want this agreement in writing, I’m sure you understand?”
“Are you fucking kidding me!?” Foster exploded. “Who the hell do you think you are!?”
“I’m their lawyer,” Miami said coldly. “A verbal agreement isn’t enough. You’ve already broken the law- in fact, if you count that photoshoot last year you broke your own contract by going behind Roger’s back too. You’ve done that twice now.”
It was funny, really; when they’d first met Miami they’d all be intimidated and wary- and they soon realised Miami was intimidated and wary of them too. But now...John couldn’t imagine anyone else going out of their way to help them like this. Surely other lawyers would be more inclined to do what Sheffield and Foster wanted?
But not Miami; that man knew how to cover any loopholes.
Gritting his teeth, Sheffield signed the agreement; Foster snatched it so hard an edge tore, and as he signed he was vibrating with anger. John dimly wondered if it was possible to have an anger-induced heart attack. He almost hoped so.
Foster shoved the paper back at Miami; their lawyer appeared completely unruffled. He simply stored the paper away again with a little smile.
“I believe we’re done here,” Reid said. They all stood, but as they moved towards the door, Foster muttered, “This is all Taylor’s fault anyway.”
Freddie gave an impatient huff; he looked back over his shoulder, clearly unimpressed. “And how could this possibly be Roger’s fault, darling?” he demanded.
Foster glared at him; as usual, he looked at Freddie like he was a particularly annoying insect. “Funny you should mention nude photoshoots,” he said. “Seeing as that’s what started this in the first place. If Taylor had just did what we asked we wouldn’t have needed to take such drastic measures.” He lowered his sunglasses, glaring over the top of them at Roger. “Isn’t that right, Taylor?”
“What are you talking about?” Freddie asked, scowling.
To John’s growing concern, both executives suddenly grinned.
“Oho…” Sheffield steepled his fingers together. “Well then. This is interesting.”
John was totally at a loss; one look at Brian and Freddie told him they were equally confused, but Roger went bone white...And even Miami looked nervous.
What was going on?
“We had an offer for Roger,” Sheffield said smoothly.
“Shut up,” Roger hissed.
“I said we’d give you the down-payment for a new home, whatever amount you needed...If he let us handle the announcement of your pregnancy.”
“Sure you did,” Freddie scoffed.
“Oh, I’m not lying, my dear.” Sheffield’s eyes were gleaming. He was enjoying this. “We wanted to do a photoshoot; as I told Roger, paternity shoots are very popular. Think of the sales!”
“I said shut up! ” Roger barked, but Sheffield continued, unflinching; “It was just another nude photoshoot or two, nothing to get worked up about.”
Freddie flinched backwards, paling. Unbidden, memories of last year’s nude photoshoot came back to John; all the lewd comments, all the pinching and groping; all those eyes just staring, all the laughter...And all of it was directed at Freddie. All because he stood up for himself, and for John. It had made John want to cry, and it hadn’t even been aimed at him.
“Rog?” Freddie turned to him, looking completely lost. “Rog, what are they talking about?”
“I see they didn’t tell you,” Sheffield said, shaking his head mock-disapprovingly.
“Well, Jim was there too,” Sheffield said with a cold smile. Stunned, John gaped at Miami and Roger; they both looked horrified.
“That’s none of your business,” Roger croaked.
“No, but it is Freddie’s. ” Sheffield turned to Freddie, smiling slightly more warmly, a You can trust me, I promise, look on his face. “Perhaps I should have asked Freddie from the start. What do you say, my dear? I’m sure you could use the extra money for your baby. The sales were phenomenal last time- and who can blame them, a pretty little thing like you?”
If he’d hoped to entice Freddie he miscalculated; Freddie looked sick. His hands cradled the baby bump protectively; he bristled like an angry cat, even as he looked embarrassed.
“Not a hope in hell,” he hissed. He turned on his heel and stormed out; John ran after him, closely followed by Roger and Brian.
“Freddie!” He caught up with him easily. “Are you okay?”
“No,” Freddie said through clenched teeth. Reid, Paul and Miami were hurrying after the four of them; Miami looked concerned, Reid looked confused and Paul looked outright gleeful.
“Fred, wait, please-” Roger reached out for him, but for the first time ever, Freddie jerked away.
“Don’t.” Freddie glared at him, punching the button for the lift with too much force. “Just don’t. ”
“Freddie,” Miami said cautiously- but he shut up when Freddie turned his furious gaze on him, drooping slightly. He and Roger both looked like chastened children, and John understood why they hadn’t said anything, really he did. Freddie was stressed enough as it was; John would have kept this quiet too if it was him.
But he also knew Freddie wouldn’t see it that way.
“‘Cause saying goodbye is death by a thousand cuts. Flashbacks waking me up, I get drunk, but it's not enough, ‘cause the morning comes, and you're not my baby. I look through the windows of this love, even though we boarded them up. Chandelier still flickering here, ‘cause I can't pretend it's okay when it's not. It's death by a thousand cuts.” -Death By A Thousand Cuts, Taylor Swift
The drive home was awful; they should have been triumphant and laughing, but Freddie was quietly seething, and Roger kept glancing at him warily. Freddie didn’t even answer Brian when he asked if he was okay.
Not good. So not good. Fuck, he should have told him the truth when it happened; he should have found a quiet moment to tell Freddie he knew why Sheffield and Foster leaked the news. He should have said something, shit. They were finally getting on track and now...God, was this it? Would Freddie even want to date Roger after this?
The second they got inside, Freddie flung his jacket onto the sofa, turning to glare at Roger, hands on his hips.
“ Well? Care to explain why you and Miami lied to me?” Freddie demanded.
“Maybe we should go,” Brian suggested weakly, edging back towards the door.
“Don’t bother.” Freddie just kept glaring at Roger. “No, come on Blondie, tell me. You lied to me. What, did you think I couldn’t handle it? I’m not that fucking fragile, Roger!”
“I know you’re not,” Roger said, and he could admit he sounded desperate.
“Then why? You know I hate being lied to! I can handle it, Roger! Just because I’m pregnant, just because I’m an Omega, doesn’t mean I’m fucking fragile!”
“Then fucking why? ”
“Because I can’t handle it!”
That seemed to throw Freddie; his glare faltered, and Roger, exhausted, his mind in a whirl, collapsed onto the sofa, burying his face in his hands. “I can’t handle it,” he repeated, mindless of Brian and Deacy’s stares. “I couldn’t...I couldn’t watch them do that to you again, I just couldn’t. I’d never seen you so scared before, Freddie. Fuck’s sake, you were panicking the entire week leading up to that ‘shoot and the way those bastards treated you made me sick. If I had to watch an entire room of Alphas treating you like a toy again, I’d fucking lose it. I can’t handle it, okay!?”
It was horribly silent.
Cautiously, Roger looked up. Freddie was staring at him; one hand rested on his stomach and he looked seconds away from crying.
“...Why?” he asked quietly.
“I just told you-”
“Why can’t you handle it?”
Roger froze. Tell him, he thought. You have to tell him. He swallowed, trying to force the words out, but when he opened his mouth he only managed a strangled whimper.
“Why can’t you handle it?” Freddie repeated.
He still couldn’t get the words out. Freddie was looking increasingly impatient; Brian and Deacy looked torn between fascination and the urge to flee.
As the silence continued, Freddie’s face crumpled.
“Forget it,” he muttered, turning away.
“I love you!”
Freddie froze, looking back at him in shock, but now that he’d said it, Roger couldn’t seem to stop. “I love you,” he repeated, standing up. “I love you, Jesus Christ, I love you. ”
“Oh, holy shit,” Deacy breathed. Roger didn’t look away from Freddie; Freddie with his ruffled hair and painted nails, Freddie in his flowing blue ‘maternity’ shirt; tiny, nerves-of-steel Freddie, who easily had the most beautiful eyes Roger had ever seen. Freddie, who stormed over, grabbed Roger’s face in his hands and kissed him roughly, deeply, holding on so tight that Roger stumbled back a step; his arms automatically wrapped around Freddie’s waist, pulling him in closer.
He wasn’t sure how long it was until they pulled away, but when they did, Freddie was beaming.
“I love you too,” he said softly.
“Finally!” Brian and Deacy groaned; Roger flipped them off over his shoulder. Laughing, Freddie pressed his face against the crook of Roger’s neck.
And Roger couldn’t fathom ever letting him go.
Brian leaned down to whisper in Deacy’s ear, “You might need to stay in my room tonight.”
“We might need to stay out tonight,” Deacy said flatly- but his eyes were shining as he looked at their friends. Brian had to admit his heart swelled when he looked at them; he’d never seen either of them look quite so happy before.
Though he was sure Deacy had a point; knowing those two, it would be best to stay out of the flat tonight.
They said it! Took them long enough 😉
Chapter 12: Paper Rings
Happy birthday, Freddie 💕💕
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Tell me I'm your national anthem; ooh yeah, baby, bow down, makin' me so wild now. Tell me I'm your national anthem; sugar sugar, how now, take your body downtown. Red, white, blue's in the skies, summer's in the air and, baby, heaven's in your eyes. I'm your national anthem.” -National Anthem, Lana Del Rey
Roger had known Freddie wouldn’t just drop it. He knew they weren’t done discussing it.
He’d just hoped Freddie would wait until tomorrow.
They’d pushed Freddie and Deacy’s beds together at the start of the night, and now they lay together, sweaty and tangled, and the bedsheets were an utter mess (sorry, Deacs.) Freddie’s head lay on Roger’s chest, his arm thrown haphazardly over Roger, one of his legs pressed in between Roger’s own while Roger held him close, one hand tangled in Freddie’s hair, the other tracing absentmindedly up and down Freddie’s side, occasionally stroking across his stomach.
“We should clean up,” Roger eventually said reluctantly. He really didn’t want to move.
“Not yet,” Freddie mumbled, though he pushed himself up on his hands, leaning over Roger. He suddenly looked much more serious. “Rog, about earlier…”
“Yeah?” Roger asked with a sudden spike of dread; if Freddie told him he’d changed his mind, he didn’t love Roger after all, he might actually die here and now.
“You can’t keep secrets from me like that,” Freddie said firmly. “I mean it. I know you were trying to protect me, I know you- you had good intentions, but you lied to me, Rog. I’m not going to break if you tell me something bad happened, you know that. And...darling, it’s Foster and Sheffield, I need to know if they’re trying anything, especially if they’re trying to do something to me again. You can’t just keep me in the dark and hope I don’t find out. I need to know what’s going on. Miami knew and I didn’t. You didn’t even tell Brian or Deacy, but we have to know. I have to know.” He cupped Roger’s face in his hands, forcing him to keep eye contact. “Got it, darling?”
“Got it,” Roger sighed. His hand ran up Freddie’s arm to play with his hair again, twirling a strand around his finger. “I just...I’ve got two of you to protect now. I didn’t want to scare you or stress you out. You were a wreck last time, Freddie, and I hated it. I couldn’t do anything to stop it, but I could this time so- so I did, you know? I never want to see you that scared again.”
“You won’t,” Freddie said; Roger gently tugged on him and he smiled as he allowed Roger to shift him onto his lap instead. “We had the upper hand on them this time darling. Let’s keep it that way. I’ve enough people acting like I’m helpless without adding you onto that list.”
“...Okay,” Roger said, albeit somewhat reluctantly, because he was meant to look after Freddie, not stress him out even more.
But he wasn’t stupid enough to throw all this away because of his pride. Communication. He could do that. He knew damn well Freddie would kick his ass and never forgive him otherwise. He wasn’t about to risk that.
“Good,” Freddie said with a happy little nod. He lay back down, peering up at Roger through the thick curtain of his hair, pouting exaggeratedly. “You’re still not entirely off the hook, darling.”
“Are you kidding me?” Roger laughed.
“Not at all,” Freddie said with a smile. “You lied. You’ll have to make it up to me.”
“I can think of a few ways…” Roger’s hand drifted back down to Freddie’s ass but with a huff of laughter, Freddie twisted away, crawling off the bed.
“Hm, no,” Freddie smirked over his shoulder. “We have to wash up, remember?” he asked, throwing Roger’s words back at him. He didn’t even grab his housecoat, or anything to cover himself; he simply pranced to the bedroom door.
“Fred, Brian and Deacy are home!” Roger hissed; he hopped off the bed, grabbing a spare blanket off the floor. He tried to wrap it around Freddie who was looking increasingly amused.
“They left an hour ago, love,” Freddie said; he opened the door, dropping the blanket, and made his way to the bathroom. “And it’s nothing they haven’t seen before anyway.”
“Wait, they did? ” Roger asked, hurrying after him. Sure enough, the door to his and Brian’s room was hanging open- the light was off and there was no sign of Brian and Deacy. The flat was eerily silent. “Huh...I didn’t even hear them.”
Freddie snorted, eyes brightening.
“Well, Rog, I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“Kiss me once 'cause I know you had a long night. (Oh!) Kiss you twice 'cause it's gonna be alright. Three times 'cause you waited your whole life. (One, two, one two three four!) I like shiny things, but I'd marry you with paper rings, uh huh, that's right. Darling, you're the one I want, and I hate accidents except when we went from friends to this.” -Paper Rings, Taylor Swift
It had been the best week they’d had in a while, Brian mused. Roger and Freddie were now sharing a room (with a new double bed) and were currently flat-hunting (which he admittedly felt a little bereft about; it would feel strange not living together anymore), and... Well, now they were together at long bloody last.
He didn’t think he’d ever seen Roger so happy, and the same went for Freddie. They’d been fake-dating since they first met Reid, so to outsiders they didn’t seem any different, but Brian knew them. He lived with them. He saw the differences.
All four of them were physically affectionate, but those two were curled up together more than ever. They were kissing without cameras around, they were sleeping together (and if Brian had bought earplugs that was his own business), they were...they were just happier. They’d always been close, but Brian swore it was like they could read each other’s minds now; one glance seemed to count as a whole conversation. They fell into this new pattern so easily, not questioning it at all. They were still best friends first, and somehow that was what Brian found the sweetest.
He was overjoyed for them, and still a little smug about being right.
To top it all off, Sheffield and Foster had actually been behaving; that was perhaps the biggest surprise. They’d given Roger and Freddie the money for a start, which Brian had been sure they’d try to get out of doing. They’d arranged another interview with the BBC, but for once they’d actually checked with Reid (who in turn, checked with them) if the boys were even available for it.
After last time he wasn’t looking forward to it, but he could grit his teeth and bear it. Besides, the interview wasn’t until the 7th.
Right now, Brian’s biggest concern was Freddie’s birthday, and what he should buy him- which, as luck would have it, was when Roger came barrelling into his (and now Deacy’s) room.
“Right, so, I have most of Freddie’s present,” Roger said abruptly. “But I’m pretty much out of ideas, so- wanna come shopping?”
“What a coincidence,” Brian said. “I haven’t even started.”
“Is that a yes?”
Brian had always preferred shopping with someone else to help; he liked getting second opinions. Unless he was absolutely set on what to buy, he always found it handy having a second pair of hands and eyes around.
So far, Roger had already bought Freddie a new jacket with a fur trim he’d had his eyes on (“It’s fake fur, Brimi, quit frowning!”) and some cologne Kashmira had suggested. That sounded like enough to Brian, but Roger was insistent that he needed something else to top it all off.
Never let it be said that Roger Taylor did things half-assedly.
They were wandering through Kensington Market when Roger spotted it; a necklace in a shop window. A simple enough necklace really; the pendant was two cats, one black and one white, curled around each other in a mimicry of the yin and yang symbol, dangling on a thin silver chain.
“Oh!” Roger’s eyes lit up, a grin spread across his face; he practically flattened himself against the window. “Bri, do you see that!”
“I see it,” Brian smiled.
“It’s fucking perfect!”
Brian had to admit he was right; it was right up Freddie’s alley. Roger darted into the cramped shop, dragging Brian with him by the wrist; he was practically vibrating with excitement as he bought it.
From the smile on Roger’s face you’d have sworn he’d just discovered something priceless; he swaned out of the shop, strutting around the market happily.
“I still need to find him a present,” Brian pointed out.
“We will, don’t worry,” Roger said, still beaming.
“You know, I could buy something for Peanut if you tell me the gender,” Brian wheedled; he smiled. Roger smirked, elbowing him.
“Nice try, Brimi.”
“Worth a shot.”
A bit of filler, really, but at least it's some fluff for you all. Thanks for reading! 💜
Chapter 13: Tiny Dancer
It's Freddie's birthday; their friends are still trying to the guess the baby's gender, and the boys have an interview.
I've bad news: my nanny died in the early hours of Saturday morning. As far as we can tell she just collapsed, though the coroner should be getting back to us today about that. There's a lot of angst coming up in this story, which I'm really not in the right mind-set to write about at the moment. So I'm just gonna...take a few days to try get my head on straight I guess?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“You take me over you're the magic in my veins, this must be love. Boom, clap! The sound of my heart, the beat goes on and on, and on and on and- boom, clap! You make me feel good. Come on to me, come on to me now.” -Boom Clap, Charlie XCX
Their cramped apartment really wasn’t the best place for a big party; for once, even Freddie agreed to keep things small, if only because the baby was draining his energy but then Elton offered to throw the party at his house (read: insisted they throw the party at his house.)
On strict orders from Brian, Elton had (with Bernie’s supervision) kept things relatively small. There was their pack, of course, along with Mary, Chrissie and Veronica; Kashmira was invited, though they’d kept this party from Jer and Bomi. All in all, even though Freddie couldn’t drink, everyone else could, and Elton’s parties were pretty notorious for getting out of hand. Best leave the conservative couple away from all that.
Then of course there was Bernie, Clare Taylor had gotten an invitation, and there were a few other artists that mostly just wanted a drink and an excuse to get a look at Freddie’s bump.
Still, Roger had to hand it to Elton, it was one hell of a party. There was non-stop food and drink, the cake was huge; four tiers all in different flavours with bright yellow icing. The DJ was great and the bright, over-the-top decorations were right up Freddie’s alley. For whatever reason there was a bunch of balloons floating in the pool, as well as what appeared to be a sex doll lounging on one of the deck chairs, and he couldn’t quite tell if that was on purpose or not. Neither could Bernie, who only shrugged helplessly.
“It’s Elton,” he said, which admittedly did explain everything. They both glanced to the side, where Elton was positively losing it over Freddie’s bump.
“You’re looking further along than four months. Barely four months, even!” Elton said; he had both hands on the bump and was absolutely beaming with joy. “I can’t get over it, love, look at you!”
“I’m huge, darling, I know,” Freddie said, rolling his eyes- but he was smiling. Elton shook his head.
“You look fantastic,” he said firmly. “Absolutely gorgeous.” He turned to Roger and Bernie with a grin. “Isn’t he gorgeous, boys?”
“Beautiful,” Roger agreed instantly, though he may have been biased. Freddie had straightened his hair as per usual, wearing it in a simple half-up half-down style; he was wearing one his new (and current favourite) loose smock tops, a deep purple one with short, lace sleeves. He had repainted his nails and had thrown on a few gold bangles. So yes, Roger agreed he looked amazing. He looked perfect.
“You do look great, Fred,” Bernie said, raising his glass in a salute. “Honestly.”
“Thanks, darlings,” Freddie said with a small smile. He looked back at Elton and raised an eyebrow. “Now, dear, why is there a sex doll by the pool?”
“Tiny dancer in my hand. But, oh, how it feels so real, lying here with no one near, and only you, and you can hear me. When I say softly, slowly...Hold me closer, tiny dancer. Count the headlights on the highway. Lay me down in sheets of linen, you've had a busy day today. Hold me closer, tiny dancer.” -Tiny Dancer, Elton John
Of course, the pile of presents was huge. There were clothes, some make-up, different colognes, shoes, records, a record player, a new camera, jewelry, art supplies, cat things, baby things…
“You still haven’t said if it’s a boy or a girl,” Bernie said with a sheepish smile as Freddie unwrapped a yellow blanket with a teddy bear pattern. “Yellow seemed neutral enough, you know?”
“It’s adorable, I love it!” Freddie all but squealed.
He wasn’t the only one to buy something for Peanut; Clare had bought a toy bunny and a brightly coloured rattle.
“Just going to put it out there,” she said, staring Freddie and Roger down. “I want a niece.”
Neither of them so much as twitched.
“...I was hoping you’d react,” she admitted with a scowl.
“Nope,” Roger said with a smug grin. “We’re keeping quiet for now, and you have Brian and Deacy to thank for that with all their meddling.”
“But we were right! ” Brian protested.
“You were still nosy,” Roger said. Freddie shrugged, still holding onto the blanket.
“It’s your own fault, darlings.”
“Please?” Deacy pouted; his eyes even watered. Freddie quickly looked away.
“Don’t fall for it, Fred,” Roger said, thrusting his presents into Freddie’s arms. “Do not fall for it.”
Thankfully the presents provided a distraction; Freddie clearly loved the jacket (and laughed when Brian once more frowned over the fur lining), he smiled appreciatively at the cologne, and threw Kashmira a knowing glance, but his eyes lit up when he saw the necklace.
“Rog, it’s beautiful,” he said, beaming.
“More cats,” Elton laughed.
Freddie immediately went to put the necklace on, struggling with the delicate clasp, trying to keep his hair out of the way.
“Here,” Roger said, gently holding Freddie’s hair aside. “I’ll get it.” He had the necklace in place in seconds, smiling as the pendant swayed against Freddie’s chest. Their eyes locked and Roger leaned in to kiss him, cheerfully flipping off the cat-callers.
“You do look gorgeous,” Roger whispered when they pulled back. “Elton wasn’t joking.”
“You have to say that,” Freddie said with a teasing smile. “You’re the reason I’m fat.”
He could feel his smile turning smug as he looked Freddie up and down. “Yeah,” he said happily. “I am.”
“ Christ, you’re such an Alpha sometimes, Roggie.”
“An Alpha that has every intention of fucking you into the mattress later,” Roger said smugly. Freddie raised an eyebrow, folding his arms.
“Oh, do you?”
“What’re you two whispering about?” Chrissie asked.
“Nothing!” was the hurried response. Freddie reached for the next present, throwing a smirk at Roger over his shoulder. He leaned against Roger as he opened it, and Roger leaned down to whisper, “Love you, Fred.”
Freddie’s smirk softened into a smile as he squeezed Roger’s hand.
“I love you too, darling.”
BBC Studios, September 7th
“So what are you after? Don't you like my colours? I'm confident, I know it scares you, scares you. Bye-bye, good riddance, the rules have been rewritten. I'm better without you, and that's the truth, I'm not part of your agenda.” -Agenda, Emma Blackery
Freddie eyed the pile of medicine with a scowl; aspirin, ibuprofen, those stupid vitamins that tasted God-awful, Xanax of all bloody things, surely that was overkill? He felt less anxious on them, but he still felt annoyed about it; he hadn’t needed anxiety medication since he was thirteen. Why did he need an entire pharmacy’s worth of help to carry a baby? He’d expected to be in pain, but not like this.
His head was throbbing so hard he had to squint; the light was killing him. All the same, he turned away from the medication with an impatient huff. He’d ride this one out, he was sick of taking so many pills.
Still, he reluctantly grabbed some to take with him to the BBC today; the last thing he needed was for this to develop into a full on migraine on live TV.
Their interviewer was a Beta man, one they’d seen before, named Anthony. He was tall and chubby with thick (albeit greying) brown hair.
“First things first,” he said with a slightly awkward smile. “I feel I should...apologise for the last time you were here, boys.”
That was a surprise. Freddie wondered if Anthony had been authorised to say that or not.
“Thank you,” he said warily. He wasn’t exactly relaxed about this; he didn’t want to sit here and listen to more slut-shaming or passive aggressive bullshit. To his surprise, there was none of that; Anthony was respectful enough. When Freddie and Roger declined to answer any baby questions he didn’t push it.
“I hear you’ve been ill, Freddie?” he asked, and he did look concerned. “I don’t want to stress you any further, but we’re all wondering about the gender and due date.”
“I’d prefer to keep that private for now,” Freddie said firmly.
Anthony nodded and changed the topic to their living situation; “Any plans to find your own place, boys?”
Freddie could see the smug gleam in Roger’s eyes; hell, even Brian and Deacy looked amused as they all remembered the scene in Sheffield’s office. God, Freddie wished he’d brought his camera to that meeting. The look on Sheffield and Foster’s faces had been priceless.
“We’re looking,” Roger said smoothly. “Gotta find the perfect place, you know?”
Anthony nodded with a small smile. “Excited, Roger?”
“About the baby? Of course.”
“Are you hoping for an Alpha, Beta or Omega?” Anthony asked- and Freddie blinked in surprise. Honestly, it wasn’t something he’d thought about. He’d been more caught up on Do I want a boy-or-girl? The dynamic didn’t really bother him…
Though if he was totally honest with himself, he knew life would be easier for this baby if they were a Beta or Alpha. If they were an Alpha they’d have such an easy life. If they were an Omega...He shuddered at the thought of his baby having to go through any of what Freddie went through. He could practically hear his grandparents’ rants about modesty and an Omega’s proper role from here.
“Well, we won’t need to worry about that until they hit puberty,” Roger said with a shrug, though Freddie could hear the faint surprise in his voice and supposed it hadn’t occurred to Roger either. Though surely there were parents who hoped for a certain dynamic? He knew his parents had expected him to be an Alpha or Beta, but that was because their whole family consisted of Alphas and Betas. But what had they hoped for?
The baby gave a sudden sharp kick, so harsh that Freddie's hands went to his stomach.
"Oh, is the baby kicking?" Anthony asked brightly. Freddie nodded, holding back a wince at the sudden twisting feeling. He leaned against Roger as it slowed to a stop, barely listening to what was being said. He certainly wasn't in the mood to discuss how often the baby kicked to the whole nation, thank you.
Thankfully, they switched to talking about the album, who they’d first broken the news of the pregnancy to, any planned photoshoots…Well, by now they thankfully had more ideas for the album; Deacy had shyly admitted to them that he wanted to write a song for Veronica. This was their last album with EMI, this was their ticket to freedom; it needed to be their best yet. They needed to show off what they could do, they needed to be bigger and better than ever.
Foster wanted another song like Killer Queen, they knew that. But no. They could do even better than that, Freddie was sure of it.
Of course, there was the added factor of How do I record an album with a baby around? but he’d figure it out. He always did.
(And if the idea of bringing the baby to a recording session just to laugh at people’s faces made him smile, well...That was his own business.)
I'll be back in a while, I guess? Thanks, guys 💜
Chapter 14: City Of Angels
It all comes crashing down...
There's a miscarriage tag, guys...so, trigger warning for miscarriage up ahead.
This is partially based on fact; both my mom and one of her best friends have nearly identical stories: they got to four months and at the scan were told there was no heartbeat detected. My mom was bleeding, so they knew right away. But her friend didn't bleed, so she was told to wait two days and come back.
I am feeling...somewhat better? This was a little cathartic in a way. The priest doing the funeral was actually one of my nanny's best friends since they were kids- you don't expect to laugh at a funeral, but he had some great stories.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Hope went away as a smile turn to tears, now there's lines on the face of the girl with the stars in her eyes. Sing me a symphony, one for the lost and in between; city of fallen dreams, city of angels.” -City Of Angels, Arrows To Athens
The problem is, there’s never really any great signs, or catastrophes leading up to things like this. No tragedies. No accidents. Nothing that Freddie could point at and say “That’s what caused it.”
Not at first anyway. Not for a while.
It was just another appointment. He was twisting the cat necklace around his fingers absentmindedly. All he was thinking about was what plans they had for dinner and did he have to call his mother today?
But then he saw Atwood’s smile falter. She’d turned on the speakers, but the room stayed silent. He felt a flicker of unease as she stared at the screen, looking at every angle; she didn’t start to smile again. If anything she looked frightened.
“What’s wrong?” Roger asked sharply. “Do you see something?”
“Not what you expect to see at four months,” she murmured.
“What does that mean?” Freddie asked, twisting the necklace tighter. Atwood cleared her throat and stood, smoothing down her skirt.
“I’ll be right back, boys,” she said, not looking at them. She left quickly. It almost looked like fleeing.
“Oh God, what’s going on?” Roger groaned; he looked sick. Freddie kept twisting the necklace, peering at the screen, at the blurry black and white image of the baby.
The longer they sat there, in the silence, the more the panic grew.
And it hit him then: silence. Atwood had turned the speakers on. They should have been able to hear the baby’s heartbeat. The more he looked, the more it dawned on him that he couldn’t see any movement on the screen. Dread washed over him; for a moment, everything blurred, the room spun. He couldn’t hear a heartbeat. He couldn’t see any movement.
It hit him like a tonne of bricks that he hadn’t felt the baby move since the BBC. There’d been that sharp kick, that sickening twisting feeling…
That wasn’t just a kick, was it? Freddie thought bleakly. But he hadn’t bled. He should have, shouldn’t he? Wasn’t that how it worked?
He clutched Roger’s hand, and Atwood came back in with a tall Alpha doctor behind her, an older man with thinning hair. Neither of them smiled; Atwood wouldn’t look at them. She was pale, her hands were shaking. The man behind her looked at them with obvious pity.
Roger squeezed his hand so tightly it hurt and Freddie braced himself, every fibre of his being preparing to deny what he already knew.
“There are moments that the words don't reach. There is suffering too terrible to name. You hold your child as tight as you can, and push away the unimaginable. The moments when you're in so deep it feels easier to just swim down.” -It’s Quiet Uptown, Hamilton
It didn’t feel real. None of it. Roger expected to wake up; this was all just a nightmare, just a stupid nightmare. He’d wake up any moment now.
But he didn’t.
He wanted to throw up as this new doctor, Doctor Abraham Waters, explained what had happened. As he explained what would happen.
“We’ll have to remove it,” he said gently.
“Our baby isn’t an it, ” Roger snarled, clutching Freddie tightly. His boyfriend had his eyes closed, shaking all over. He didn’t cry, but Roger felt seconds away from doing so himself.
And now, at the end of it all, he was stuck sitting in a hospital room by Freddie’s bedside. Freddie was still unconscious; a small part of Roger supposed that was for the best. His stomach...It was suddenly much flatter. Even unconscious he looked pale and clammy, like he was ill. Just like that, the glow was gone.
Just like that, their baby was gone.
Roger couldn’t stand it. How could he be expected to just sit here?
My baby’s dead, he thought. Our baby’s dead.
“Roger?” Atwood poked her head around the door, her face tragic. She glanced at Freddie and winced, opening the door fully. She took a cautious step inside. “I’m sorry,” she said weakly. “I know this is hard-”
“Get out,” Roger hissed, standing up. He looked at her and, suddenly, he just hated her. She was their doctor, she was meant to help. She was meant to make sure this all went well, she was supposed to help keep Freddie and the baby safe. How could she stand there and claim to know anything? She should be sorry, this was her fucking fault.
“Roger, I just-”
“I said GET OUT!” He grabbed the nearest object, a small table lamp, and aimed it at her head, prepared to throw it. “GET THE FUCK OUT!”
She was smart enough to run.
Sobbing, Roger collapsed back onto his seat, burying his face in his hands. He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t possibly do this alone.
Struggling to see past his tears, he ran into the hall, down to the payphone. He waited, biting the back of his hand as it rang.
And then, thank God, came Brian’s voice.
Just like that, Roger was sobbing again. “Br-Brimi…”
“Roger?” Brian’s voice raised, made sharp with fear. “Roger, what’s going on? Are you okay?”
“No,” Roger said. “You...You and D-Deacy need to get- get down here. Please, I- I can’t do this on my own.”
“...Okay,” Brian said quietly. “Okay, we’ll, uh- we’ll be there as fast as we can. Rog, I-”
Roger hung up, unable to listen any further. He was still crying, struggling for breath; ignoring the shocked stares and whispers of passers-by, he went back to Freddie.
Brian knew. There was only one reason Roger would call him, crying like that. Christ, when was the last time he’d seen Roger cry?
Roger had taken the van, so he and Deacy were stuck with the bus. Fighting back panic, Brian clung to Deacy’s hand. The Beta’s eyes were already teary as he slouched in his seat.
“It’s gone, isn’t it?” he asked quietly.
“Yes, I think so,” Brian was forced to admit. The lump in his throat just kept growing and he squeezed his eyes shut. It didn’t do any good; the tears still escaped.
Roger took one look at them, sobbed, and flung himself into Brian’s arms.
“I’m sorry, Rog,” Brian said, holding him tightly. Deacy joined the hug, finally crying openly. “I’m so, so sorry.”
“I can’t fucking believe this,” Roger gasped; he was clinging to Brian so tightly it hurt, his nails digging into Brian’s skin. “I just- this can’t be fucking happening, this isn’t fair. ”
No, it wasn’t. If Brian was honest he couldn’t believe it either.
He looked at Freddie over the top of Roger’s head; their resident Omega was still out cold, oldly flat now and it turned Brian’s stomach. This shouldn’t be happening. Neither Freddie or Roger deserved this.
Sniffling, wiping at his eyes, Deacy went to Freddie’s side. He sat in one of the rickety plastic chairs and took Freddie’s hand, holding it between both of his. He pressed a kiss to Freddie’s knuckles, his breath hitching again, letting out a weak sob.
“This isn’t fair,” Roger repeated, face pressed against Brian’s shoulder.
“It’s not,” Brian agreed, hard pressed to keep from crying again. “It’s- fuck, Rog, I’m sorry. ”
That was how a young nurse found them; Roger sobbing almost hysterically in Brian’s arms, Brian crying silently into Roger’s hair, and Deacy crying and gasping as he held onto Freddie’s hand.
“Alpha Taylor?” she asked cautiously. Roger pulled away from Brian, turning to face her.
“Doctor Waters needs to speak with you,” she said. Roger nodded and, with obvious reluctance, followed her. He glanced back at Brian and Deacy; he looked at Freddie and wavered, clutching the door frame.
“We’ll stay with him,” Brian promised; Roger nodded and left.
Perhaps foolishly, all Brian could think was Alpha Taylor. It was such an old fashioned way to address someone, and that girl had barely looked older than Deacy, bright eyed and rosy cheeked. It was how his parents addressed some people, how his grandparents addressed people.
But what did that matter? What did that matter at all?
He staggered to the bed, collapsed into one the chairs and did his damn best to sort himself out.
Not that it did much good.
Waters looked shame-faced when Roger came in; he held a file in one hand and tapped his desk with the other.
“I’ve been looking over your Omega’s files,” he said, gesturing for Roger to take a seat. “It says here he’s been on constant medication?”
“Yeah,” Roger said. “The first dose didn’t work, so Atwood changed it.”
“And added more,” Waters said. Roger nodded. Waters sighed, opening the file, flipping through it.
“I...I’m afraid Doctor Atwood made a terrible mistake,” he said slowly; Roger’s fists clenched, his chest grew tight with dread. He didn’t want to hear this, but Waters continued regardless; “Aspirin, ibuprofen, some of these vitamins and Xanax...They’re not safe during pregnancy, and certainly not in this dosage. The risks are too great; birth defects, health issues for the carrier and baby, stillbirths...And miscarriages. Such medication should have been changed as the pregnancy progressed- at the least, the first dosage was the safest. It didn’t work right away to be sure, but they needed time to kick in.”
“She changed them right away,” Roger said numbly. “When Freddie mentioned he was still getting sick all the time...She just upped the dose…”
“I’m sorry, Mr Taylor,” Waters said gently.
“So this is Atwood’s fault.”
“She made a mistake.”
“But she’s not the one who has to deal with the consequences,” Roger growled, suddenly vicious, suddenly furious all over again. He had a target. “I do. Freddie does. Our families do. She gets away scott-fucking-free!”
“Or am I wrong? Do I get to sue over this? Does she lose her job? Does anything happen to her?”
Waters’s silence was enough of an answer.
“Fuck you,” Roger spat. “Fuck the whole lot of you.”
He stood so quickly that his chair fell sideways; he slammed the door behind him, huffing triumphantly when he heard something fall off the wall.
The brief sense of victory only lasted until he reached the lift; as it took him back to Freddie’s floor, despair washed over him again. He could be as angry as he wanted, he could break whatever he wanted, he could yell until his voice gave out...But what would it really accomplish?
“You can’t fight all your problems away,” Brian had told him again and again throughout the years. He’d never really understood that until now.
“Every time I try to fly I fall, without my wings I feel so small. I guess I need you, baby. And every time I see you in my dreams, I see your face, it's haunting me. I guess I need you, baby.” -Everytime, Britney Spears
It was the longest drive home ever.
Brian drove, Deacy sat with him in the front; in the back, Roger held Freddie close. As soon as the doors had closed, Freddie had burst into tears and nothing Roger did or said seemed to calm him. He’d stopped sobbing, but he was still crying, still shaking and occasionally gasping, and Roger couldn’t stand it.
It was, logically, not a very long drive, especially with such light traffic, but it felt like years passed before they reached their flat. Brian pulled to a stop and they all sat there silently, none of them willing to move.
Freddie twisted his necklace around his fingers, biting his lip and wiping uselessly at his eyes. Roger held onto him, unwilling to let go for even a second. He couldn’t summon the strength to just open the door and climb out. Simple enough task. It suddenly felt impossible.
Finally, Deacy sighed and hopped out of the van. He pulled the back door open and held his hand out to Freddie, who looked at him blankly for one long moment. Finally, he wiped at his eyes again and took Deacy’s hand, allowing the Beta to help him out of the van.
That was the cue for Roger and Brian to follow. Gritting his teeth, Roger got out of the van, instantly enveloping Freddie back into his arms. He let Deacy and Brian wrap an arm around them both; he forced himself to put one foot in front of the other, and made his way inside.
Freddie went straight to their room; Roger followed with Brian and Deacy at his heels.
Freddie had barely said a word since he woke up. He was still quiet now; he kicked his shoes off and collapsed onto the bed, curling up small. Roger curled up behind him, spooning him. His hands automatically rested on Freddie’s stomach, but Freddie smacked them away, guiding them up to his chest instead.
Brian lay in front of Freddie, letting the Omega bury his face in Brian’s neck and Deacy spooned Roger. It was the first cuddle pile they’d had in a few weeks, and it just wasn’t what Roger wanted. Not these circumstances. Not like this.
Despite himself, it helped. He could breathe a little easier, surrounded by his pack, his boys. He didn’t ever want to get up again, he didn’t see how he could. How could he just...behave normally after this? Yet having his boys around him, clinging together, helped.
And then Freddie spoke in a hoarse little whisper; “It was a boy.”
Roger’s heart twisted and Brian sniffled before he asked, “Huh?”
“It was a boy,” Freddie repeated flatly, but he was shaking. “Rog wanted to name him Heydar.”
“I like that name,” Deacy said, his voice cracking. Roger could feel his tears soaking into the back of his neck.
“Me too,” Freddie said- and just like that, he was sobbing again, nearly screaming in anguish.
Roger’s grip on him tightened, holding Freddie as close as he could, failing to keep his own sobs at bay; Brian hushed them uselessly, running his hand through Freddie’s hair.
“It’ll be okay,” Brian said helplessly.
“But it’s not, ” Freddie sobbed. “Not now. ”
No, it wasn’t. Roger tried to imagine getting up and making dinner, and drew a blank. He tried to imagine waking up tomorrow and going about his day and he couldn’t.
For now, he let himself cry; wrapped in Deacy’s arms, pressing his face against Freddie’s shoulder, he let it out.
“I hate this,” Freddie said, slightly muffled by Brian’s chest; his fellow Alpha was still making comforting noises, looking as lost as Roger felt.
I'M SORRY, you guys have all been so nice that I nearly changed the plot entirely- but PLEASE keep in mind that there IS a childbirth tag too, and a happy ending one. I promise, things will get better and they WILL have a baby eventually; the gender, name, dynamic and career of this kid are all picked out. Happy endings only in this series.
(For my birthday tomorrow does anyone wanna get me a time machine to Live Aid, pretty please?)
Chapter 15: Hold Me Now
Freddie's not doing well; Jer and Winifred arrive to look after their sons.
I promise the angst will not last forever, but I'm not going to just fast-forward to the end of this; as with Pushing Through The Darkness this will take some time, but I also promise it's not pure angst up ahead. We have some comfort and happy moments coming too.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Your dreams and memories are blurring into one; the scenes which hold the waking world slowly come undone. You'll come undone. Oh, you go to sleep on your own, and you wake each day with your thoughts, and it scares you being alone. It's a last resort.” -Sleepsong, Bastille
Roger expected an outburst. He expected Freddie to scream and cry, or maybe break something. But as he shakily explained what Doctor Waters had told him, as he reluctantly told the truth, Freddie just stared at him blankly.
“Freddie?” Brian took his hand. It was obvious he hadn’t slept a wink either. “Fred, are you...Are you okay?”
Wordlessly, Freddie pulled away. He stood up, not looking at any of them, and went back to their room.
“Shit,” Roger groaned, burying his face in his hands. “Fuck. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
“You had to,” Deacy said gently. And yeah, Roger knew he had to tell Freddie the truth, but...But he’d expected an outpouring of emotion, he hadn’t expected silence. Freddie had been so still and silent that, for a moment, Roger was worried Freddie hadn’t understood.
Then he heard sobbing coming from their room and his heart shattered all over again.
All three of them stood, but one pleading look from Roger kept Brian and Deacy away.
“Just...Let me handle it,” he said; he didn’t sound confident, he didn’t feel it, but he went ahead alone.
Freddie wanted to die. The ground could open up and swallow him right this second and he wouldn’t care. He’d welcome it.
It was his fault. He’d complained about the meds but he’d taken them anyway. He hadn’t liked it, but he’d still gone along with it. If he hadn’t needed so much medication in the first place this wouldn’t have happened. He should have just put a brave face on things, he should have grinned and bore it. Plenty of people did every day. If he hadn’t been such a fucking weakling, if he’d just gotten on with things...If he’d just stopped taking the meds for a little while...Maybe if he’d put his foot down…
The next thing he knew, he was crying again, sobbing so hard he choked on his own breath.
He’d forgotten to lock the door; he should have, because there was Roger, cradling him close and trying to calm him down, when all he wanted was to be alone. Why did Roger come after him, why did he bother? He should have been furious.
Your fault, your fault, this is all your fault.
“I’m sorry,” Freddie gasped out. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I-”
“Don’t,” Roger said. “No, Fred, it’s- it’s not your fault, none of it. It was Atwood.”
He’s lying. It’s your fault. You fucked up, you killed your baby; your baby’s dead because of you. He’ll hate you now, and who can blame him?
Freddie clutched at his own hair, squeezing his eyes shut. He wanted his brain to shut up, he wanted everything and everyone to go away. They were meant to go shopping for baby things soon, but they couldn’t do that anymore and that was his fault, his fault, it was all his fucking fault.
I shouldn’t have taken those meds, he thought, despairing. I should have thrown them all away.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated, mostly on autopilot. “I’m sorry, darling.”
Roger just kept saying that it wasn’t Freddie’s fault; he insisted it was all Atwood’s fault, the fault of the entire damn hospital, that no-one realised those medications shouldn’t have been mixed sooner.
“It’s not your fault,” Roger said firmly, but there were tears in his eyes. Freddie wasn’t sure he’d ever seen Roger cry until this happened.
Somehow, that made it worse.
When Freddie only looked at him silently, Roger’s face became creased with panic.
“Freddie?” He cupped Freddie’s face in his hands. “Sweetheart, you’re listening, right? It’s not your fault.”
But for the first time ever, Freddie didn’t believe him.
“So we'll just cry, cry on each other's shoulders. Cry until it's over. Can't it just be over? And we'll just cry, cry, cry until it's all gone; been holding on for too long.” -Cry, Jason Walker
He didn’t leave his room again. He didn’t see the point. He lay in bed, curled up in a ball, staring at the wall. Deacy brought him lunch and he had to force himself to eat it. What was the point?
Freddie could almost convince himself it was a nightmare. It didn’t feel real, not really. He felt sluggish; he felt like he was standing outside his body, staring at himself. Maybe it hadn’t fully sunk in yet? His hands kept going to his stomach out of habit, waiting for a kick- and every time he did, he felt like screaming. He wanted to get up and break something, scream and throw things until he collapsed of exhaustion.
He didn’t move. He couldn’t bring himself to get up.
He could dimly hear the other three talking, though he couldn’t make out the words. He should probably go join them. He knew they had to tell...Well, everyone. They had to tell everyone what had happened. Every part of him recoiled from the thought; if Freddie had to listen to the press blame him, if he had to put up with his parents' pity and everyone else’s scorn, he might actually go insane.
Fuck it. Let the others handle it.
No, that wasn’t fair. He couldn’t just leave Roger to handle it all. It was Roger’s baby too, Freddie should be looking after him as well…
He still didn’t move.
Bless Brian’s heart; he handled the phone calls and had the sense to do so when Deacy and Roger were in the kitchen. He rang Reid, he rang the Bulsaras and he rang Winifred. Each time, it felt like he was getting stabbed; he didn’t go into all the details, God knew that wasn’t his place. He kept it brief and moved on, though he couldn’t dissuade Jer and Winifred from insisting they’d be over as soon as possible.
“I don’t know,” he said weakly, glancing warily towards the kitchen and down the hall at the closed bedroom door. “I...I don’t think they want company.”
“Nonsense,” Jer said briskly. “I’ll be there soon, just give me a while to sort things out over here, dear.”
As for Winifred, she didn’t even give him the chance; she just said “I’ll be there,” and hung up.
Sighing, head reeling with exhaustion, Brian went to the kitchen. Roger was staring at his cup of tea like he wasn’t quite sure how it had gotten there; Deacy had a small pot of soup cooking on the stove.
“Er...Jer and Winnie want to come over,” Brian said.
“Oh fuck. ” Roger rested his forehead on the table, defeat radiating off him. “No, tell them to fuck off.”
“I tried,” Brian said. “Well- I told them you didn’t want company.”
“I don’t want to see my mum yet,” Roger said, his voice cracking. “If I see her, I’ll start crying again. And Jer…”
“You’re worried she’ll make it worse,” Deacy guessed. Roger shrugged, but when he sat up straight again, he nodded.
“Yeah,” he admitted. “She, uh...She has her moments…”
Didn’t Brian know it. She already believed Freddie was helpless; if she came over and saw him confined to his room she’d freak out- which was understandable, but he doubted Freddie would appreciate it. Brian wasn’t even sure if Freddie wanted her here. Would he start crying again or freak out?
And as for Roger, he looked like death warmed over; there were dark circles under his eyes, he kept drooping with exhaustion and it didn’t even look like he’d brushed his hair. He’d just thrown on an old tracksuit and was still barefoot.
“Maybe you should get dressed,” Brian suggested.
“You can say I look like shit, Bri,” Roger said with a wry smile. He shook his head, hauling himself to his feet. “Yeah, probably should...Fuck, I’ll hop in the shower, can one of you tell Fred they’re coming over?”
Brian glanced at Deacy; the Beta kept stirring the pot of soup, biting his lip nervously. So Brian shoved his hands in his pockets to keep them from shaking, said “I’ll do it,” and went to fetch Freddie.
To say Freddie was unimpressed would be an understatement. As Brian hesitantly explained that Jer and Winifred were coming, he scowled. He rolled onto his stomach (oh God, he could do that again), pressing his face into the pillow.
“I don’t care,” he said flatly. His throat still ached from all the crying. “I really don’t.”
“You don’t want to be in bed when your mum comes, do you?” Brian rested a hand on his shoulder. “Fred, you should get up.”
“I don’t care,” he repeated through gritted teeth. “I don’t fucking care.” Before he knew it, he was furious. Furious with Brian for calling her, furious with Jer for inviting herself over, he didn’t want to see her. She’d just baby him and shake her head; she’d talk to him like he was stupid and helpless, she may even avoid the topic entirely. Fuck, he wasn’t in the mood. “Tell her not to bother.”
“She’s already on the way.”
“I’m not talking to her.” He glared at Brian over his shoulder; Brian was so startled he flinched back. “I don’t want to fucking see her, why did you call her!?”
“She’s your mum,” Brian said gently. Freddie shook Brian’s hand off his shoulder, burying his face in the pillow again.
“When has that ever mattered?” he snapped. A dim part of him knew he was being unfair; Brian was only trying to help, he’d only done what Freddie hadn’t wanted to do himself. Jer was trying more than she ever had before; once upon a time, Freddie wasn’t sure she’d even have turned up.
Maybe that wasn’t a fair assumption either. He didn’t know. He didn’t care. He didn’t want to see anyone.
“Go away, Brian,” he said. “I mean it, just fuck off.”
“I said fuck off!”
Sighing, Brian left with one last “ Please just think about it.”
Fighting against the wave of anger in his chest, Freddie screamed into the pillow. He didn’t want to see Winifred, he didn’t want to see Jer; he didn’t want to see any of their friends, or Bomi, or Kash...He just wanted to be left alone today, just one fucking day, was that too much to ask for?
But as the silence dragged on, the anger melted away; despair crept back in and he felt almost absurdly guilty for yelling.
Well done, now Brian will hate you too.
Roger came in, soaking wet and wrapped in a towel.
“Er, did Brian tell you-?”
“He did,” Freddie said, looking away again.
“Oh…” He could practically feel Roger’s concerned gaze. He heard the little clicking noises of the hangers knocking together as Roger went through the wardrobe. “Are you- are you okay with seeing them?”
“No,” Freddie said.
“Well- Fred, maybe if you get up for a bit it might help? A bath might help?”
Don’t be so stupid, he thought. He went to say so, but when he glanced at Roger, his boyfriend looked perfectly desperate.
He’s already pissed and you know it. Now Brian’s pissed too. Don’t push it. Just humour him, is that so hard?
He sighed and nodded. “Maybe, darling.”
Though he didn’t believe that either.
“Waking up and letting go to the sound of angels. Am I alive or just a ghost haunted by my sorrows? Hope is slipping through my hands, gravity is taking hold, I said I'm not afraid that I'm brave enough. I will not give up until I see the sun. Hold me now ‘til the fear is leaving, I am barely breathing.” -Hold Me Now, Red
It had taken Roger literally taking Freddie by the hand and forcing him to sit up to get anywhere. He’d barely been able to look at the paternity clothes in the wardrobe, and he knew Freddie’s old jeans wouldn’t fit again just yet, so he grabbed a loose T-shirt and the paint stained leggings Freddie used to wear when he had a big assignment for college.
Thank God, when they got into the kitchen Freddie actually ate, even if it was just a tiny bowl of Deacy’s soup. He kept twisting the cat necklace around his fingers; he looked at Brian warily as their guitarist cleaned up. To Roger’s confusion he mumbled, “Sorry, Brimi.”
Brian gave a tired smile, wrapping an arm around Freddie’s shoulders. “Nothing to be sorry for, mate,” he said.
Before Roger could ask any questions there was a knock at the door; Jer had arrived. Roger and Brian exchanged wary glances as Deacy went to answer the door. They heard Deacy offer to take her coat, they could hear her shoes tapping on the wooden floor and before Roger was ready to see her, there she was.
She stood sheepishly in the doorway, holding a tupperware box of cheese biscuits.
“Hello,” she said with a shaky smile. She set the food down and, to Roger’s shock, she hugged him tightly.
“I’m so sorry, my dear,” Jer whispered. “If you need anything- well, you know where to find me, yes?” She smiled at him weakly; her eyes brimmed with tears when she turned to Freddie.
“My poor baby,” she said, enfolding him in her arms. “Darling, I’m sorry.”
Freddie didn’t move. He sat, staring at the table- but sudden tears streamed down his cheeks. He gasped, then sobbed- and the next thing Roger knew, Freddie was bawling his eyes out on Jer’s shoulder. She cooed and hummed in Gujarati, stroking his hair.
“I’m here,” she said, switching back to English. “I’m right here. Let it out, baby, it’s okay.”
It was enough to make Roger want to cry. Brian bustled about, making everyone cups of tea; Deacy held Roger’s hand tightly and, despite his previous misgivings, Roger suddenly desperately wanted his own mother.
He didn’t have to wait much longer. There was a frantic knocking on the door. Winifred didn’t wait for an answer; she burst in, ran straight to him and hugged him so hard she nearly knocked him off his chair.
“I got here as fast as I could,” she gasped, clearly out of breath. “Oh, sweetie, are you okay?”
“No,” Roger said- and sure enough, he was crying again. If he kept this up he’d be stuck with a migraine before long, but he couldn’t seem to stop.
“It’s going to be alright,” Winifred said, resting her cheek on top of his head. “I’m right here. You leave today to me, Rog. You take as much time as you need.”
So, forever? Roger thought, because he couldn’t see an end to this. How did you move on from this? Who could he even ask?
For now though, he followed Winifred’s instructions; he let her (and Jer) take charge, obediently eating what they put in front of him, relieved to have the chance to simply not think for a little while.
Jer and Winifred will never be best friends, but they make a surprisingly good team.