So I packed up my things and I faced up my doubts
You know, I think I will grow my hair back out
Nevermind what you think
Nevermind what you like
I'll take it out to the streets for somebody else to admire
John carefully folds the white shirt emblazoned with a bright cartoon image and then places it in the suitcase. The pile of laundry is half his and half Roger’s. Every time he grabs one of Roger’s, the uneasy knot in the pit of his stomach tightens a little more until he is trembling and sorting the clothes more by feel than sight because he can’t bear to look at them anymore. Each shirt holds a memory, each pair of pants a trap for his unwary sense of nostalgia to fall down, past the branches covering the pit and straight onto the sharpened spikes below.
He longs to sweep up all of his things into a messy pile and dump it into his car with a dramatic, I’m leaving you! But Roger isn’t home, he hasn’t been home for five days doing God knows what and so John forces himself to keep quietly folding. And besides, he isn’t the one to make a scene, not the type to storm off stage during a sound check or lock himself into a cupboard until he gets his way. Good old dependable Deaky. Always there when you need him. No matter how long you’ve been away indulging your own bloody whims.
Well, not this fucking time.
He catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror over the dresser and stops packing for a moment to analytically examine what he sees there. His eyes are blank and distant, revealing none of the emotions churning through his gut but they are also tired and it makes him look old. His lips are pressed into a thin line and his hair is starting to get a bit long behind his ears. Roger hasn’t been nagging him to go get haircuts lately. Roger likes John’s hair short and has been cutting his own progressively shorter. If questioned, he would say that the 70’s were over, but John knows the real reason. He is surprised that the beard isn’t making a reappearance as well.
His hands hover over a shirt that Roger gave him and he almost crumples it up into a ball and unpacks the bag and decides to give it one more week. He holds himself motionless as the desire and uncertainty sweeps over him and he struggles with his willpower as he always does, internally and never letting a hint of the conflict manifest physically. Distantly, he hears the front door slam and it breaks through the storm in his head and hardens his resolve. Now is the time to settle this. Tomorrow he may be too much of a coward.
Did you sleep last night and do you remember dreams?
Do I ever cross your mind and do you ever think of me?
When you think about your life are there things you would reverse?
Sometimes people discount John or forget he is there because he is so quiet. But John watches. He watches when Freddie hides his shyness behind an imperiously issued command or a flamboyant temper tantrum and when he soaks up flattery like the desert ground absorbs an unexpected shower. He watches when Brian’s eyes linger a bit too long on a beautiful woman with a showy, blazing confidence and when he is just a little too slow to return a phone call from home. And he watches Roger on stage. It is easy to explain and nobody thinks anything of it. The rhythm section must work together, shouldn’t it? And of course the bright and outgoing Roger should lead and John should follow.
But he is not looking for the beat when he falls back and turns upstage towards the drummer. He studies the way Roger plays with an intense focus, interrupted only by a few quick glances at Freddie and his theatrics, a quick smile at Brian during one or the other’s solos and a nod to John as a new song starts. He observes the way the sweat starts to gather on Roger’s forehead a few songs in and then beads up and runs until he wipes it away. He sees the muscles tense and jump in Roger’s back as he plays, his mouth working in the way of drummers and he wonders what else those muscles, that mouth are capable of.
When John takes the soft and silly little boys to his bed, boys that are half-dazzled and falling over themselves from the fame, he closes his eyes and he remembers. Freddie isn’t the only one who knows where to find them. They fulfill some sort of dark need but John always finds himself unaccountably angry afterwards and disgusted at the way they casually ask about other members of the band, other rock stars and actors. John likes to watch but he has no interest in seeing the slick and calculating look behind the boys’ eyes as they add him to their tally. It’s a simple transaction, he reminds himself. I take, they take, simple. But there is something else, someone else he wants. So when he hears the faint sound of moaning coming through the thin walls of the hotel suite, he doesn’t hesitate to creep silently down the hall and into the other room.
Roger’s door is ajar. He and Freddie came stumbling back into the suite twenty or so minutes ago and John is not surprised that he was careless enough to leave it open. Brian was dead to the world, Freddie passed out and he, by all accounts, should be fast asleep. John nudges the door open with his foot, remembering the layout of the room enough to know the door isn’t visible from the bed.
The room is dark except for a shockingly white splash of moonlight falling across the bed. John is lost in the gloom, but Roger is lit in a near spotlight, the ethereal glow making him look even more cherubic than usual. His clothes lie in a trail on the floor and he is splayed out on the bed, languidly stroking himself, head thrown back and pale throat exposed.
John wonders why Roger has come back alone. He knows that the other man is between steady women at the moment although the lack or presence of a girlfriend has rarely affected his activities on tour. Maybe he had been tagging along with Freddie at the gay clubs for a lark. No matter, watching him alone like this is far to be preferred to having some bimbo in the way, distracting everyone.
Roger isn’t overly loud but his soft gasps and low moans resonate through John and make him carefully and silently undo the front of his trousers to gain room. Roger exudes a sexuality that is nothing like the melodramatic overdone guise taken by Freddie on stage. As John examines him, Roger’s arousal has taken him under and he reacts, fully and sensually, but also naturally and honestly. John watches as he stretches out one leg, his toes curl and then relax.
Roger’s hand on his own cock moves business-like and without flourish but John feels a slightly illicit thrill from witnessing this private act. He longs to also touch the other man, to bury his hands in the golden tresses turned silver in the moonlight and to wrap Roger’s slim, elegant cock in his hands and drive those moans past his lips. John can tell that he is getting close now, from the way he quickens his pace and the tension in the muscles of his arms. At the last moment, Roger’s hand moves higher and pulls down his foreskin, the tip of his glans glistening wetly.
John is rarely surprised. Especially not by Roger, the one he watches so very carefully. So as Roger’s completion pours out in uneven milky spurts over his lithe hand and John hears his own nickname driven past the drummer’s lips, he doesn’t believe it at first. Roger’s feet arched and tensed against the mattress in his moment of climax and John finds himself staring at them, mouth slightly open in disbelief. The name was spoken quietly, in a husky gasp that could barely be heard. But then the blond repeats the name in a sigh and John backs out of the room, afraid to stumble and fall and wake up in his own lonely and wetdream-stained bed.
And I can still recall the hour when you first let down your walls
I thought I might've died right there floating up above it all
But it scared you to love, to need someone, so you killed it all instead
After that, it had been almost laughable how easily John found his way into Roger’s bed. A few drunken sessions clumsily making out behind a pub, a hurried hand job in dressing room, it was all very clichéd, really. And now here he was, Roger writhing beneath him while he ghosts love nips down the side of his neck. He knows that Roger is drawn to him through some strange compulsion, both attracted and repulsed, his lust driving him to the other man. Every time he swears is the last, every time he breaks his oath, a crawling and shameful sinner.
He circles a nipple with his tongue as Roger inhales sharply and his flesh hardens. He knows it is not healthy for Roger to view their relationship as an addiction but he can’t help feeling a dark and twisted satisfaction at being the object of such fiery need. Suddenly, it is Roger watching him on the stage and he wants to preen from the pleasure of it.
He makes his way down Roger’s body, tasting him, mapping out which areas elicit the biggest reactions, the most desperate moans. He goes to take the other man’s lovely cock into his mouth.
Roger abruptly pushes his head away. “No, please…not that,” he gasps.
John looks up at the other man curiously and feels a vague foreboding shudder through him. “Don’t you want me to fuck you?” he asks.
He sees Roger’s pupils dilate at the frankness of the words. “Yes…God, yes,” he hisses and then misdirects. “I just, I’ve never done…it…before.”
“I know.” John thinks too late that he should have put some emotion into the words, to disguise the truth of them.
Roger pales. “How—how do you know that?”
“I can just tell,” he lies. Roger looks skeptical. “Does it even matter? It’s easier this way, anyway.”
“Yeah…” Roger sounds skeptical.
“Turn over,” he whispers.
He takes his time. He luxuriates in each step of the process, massaging Roger’s ass until he is thrusting into the bed helplessly, covering his back in kisses and hard sucking bites especially right at the sensitive place where his neck joins his shoulder. He slowly works the lube warmed by the heat of his hand against Roger’s flesh, rubbing his perineum with a slow patience that makes Roger crack and nearly impale himself on John’s finger. He steadies the other man with a firm hand to the small of his back and then works the finger past the tight ring of muscle and into Roger millimeter by agonizing millimeter.
Roger breaths quickly in short, shallow pants. As he tenses against the unfamiliar intrusion, John strokes his side and breathes, “Relax.” He ignores his own weeping cock and concentrates on the hot, slick feel of Roger. He avoids hitting the other man’s prostate until he has two fingers into him and then presses the spot with a deliberate firmness that has Roger nearly scrambling to all fours and off the bed.
“Bloody hell, what did you do?” Roger gasps.
John smiles and pushes Roger back down with the weight of his body. He takes the opportunity to rub against the back of Roger’s thigh, leaving a sticky cold trail of precome. “Getting fucked has its merits, you know,” he replies with a chuckle.
By the time he has three fingers buried deeply enough into the man to make his pinky ache with the strain, Roger has resorted to incoherent babbling interspersed with the words, John and please.
“Oh, God, yes.” Roger moans and John has to replay the last few seconds wrapped up as he was in what he was doing. Ah.
“Well, if you insist,” he husks and enters Roger with a clean and measured stroke. He pauses each time Roger tenses but he manages to adapt to the new intrusion quickly. A few minutes of slow thrusting has both of them panting and shaking from the strain.
“Let go, Deaky, I won’t break.”
John doesn’t need to be told twice and quickens his pace, hitting that sweet spot with unyielding accuracy. The first wrings a strangled cry from Roger, but soon he is speechless with the pleasure of it and moving in time with John.
John feels his orgasm building relentlessly and knows he will not be able to hold out much longer. Roger is tight and wet and the deep wicked heat of him was making John lose all control.
“Come for me,” Roger wails and that is enough, John is coming in waves that build until he is lying in a shattered heap on Roger’s back, shaking and wet with sweat.
Roger starts coming and John is not surprised to see tears start collecting in the corners of his eyes. He know how intense the first time can be, the unfamiliar sensations and emotions assaulting one all at once. John holds Roger as he sobs, slowly softening inside of him and suddenly knows that it is going to be very hard if he ever has to give this up.
Roger slowly quiets and breaths, “God!” There is more than a touch of embarrassment in his voice. “Where did you learn to fuck like that, Deaky?” He rubs his face clean of tears and sweat with a pillowcase and gasps for air.
John smiles and doesn’t reply. There are things that Roger doesn’t need to know. “That wasn’t the half off it,” he whispers into Roger’s hair. “Stay with me tonight. I have plenty more to show you.”
“Alright, love,” Roger murmurs sleepily, half-conscience, but the words still make John’s heart clench painfully and he pulls the man closer, tight to his chest.
Maybe time will tell you
Why I got so much hell to sell you
Please, please understand me
Oh, you can't just dance around me
Roger is jumpy and nervous at the album release party and the colored flashes of light bursting in the close, sweaty press of the club Freddie had picked out catch the whites of his eyes like a deer in the headlights. A shudder runs through his body, under his skin, when John catches his hand and pulls him close, possessively. He frees himself a bit more roughly than strictly necessary and growls, “Not here!”
Anger curls in John’s chest but he doesn’t let it touch his face and holds himself perfectly still. “What? So we are fucking living together. Living together fucking. But I can’t even touch you in a club? Can’t even get coffee with you without Freddie or Brian or one of your horrible friends there?” The words are snarled in his head but out loud they are evenly and calmly pitched.
Roger turns away and John stares at a muscle jumping in his jaw as he clenches his teeth tightly. His eyes are bright with panic and John wonders if this is it, if finally he has pushed the skittish drummer too far.
“Are you ashamed of me?” His voice is quiet but low but it carries.
Roger startles again and almost touches John. Almost, but not quite. “Not of you…just of…”
John turns from the other man and stalks away before Roger has time to say the words, words that cannot be unsaid.
He leaves but he doesn’t go far. He finds a dark alcove with a good view of the floor and watches the blond head that gleams in the dim smokiness of the club. A buxom redhead that John recognizes as always being somewhere on the periphery of things, parties, making music videos, concerts, comes up to Roger and brushes a strand of hair from his face. John studies the pair as Roger throws his head up and looks around the room wildly. John frowns and silently slips into the crowd, as invisible as the suspicion threading through his body and making his heart pound harder than necessary. He moves with the crowd seamlessly and no-one notices him. Finally he is close enough to overhear the conversation his erstwhile lover is holding with his pretty admirer.
“This is really not a good time.”
She pouts in disappointment and throws back her shoulders just enough to better display her assets. John watches Roger carefully and sees exactly where his gaze is drawn. “When will be a better time?”
“Next weekend?” John bit his lip, he was spending next weekend with his parents.
The girl playfully swats Roger on the ass as he half-turns and scans the room again. “If I didn’t know better I’d think you had a string of other girls on the side.” John picks invisible lint from his sleeve and thinks, then she doesn’t know about the brunette with the dog, or the librarian or the girl with the short skirts then.
“Next weekend,” Roger repeats and he turns away from the girl and to the bar where he orders a whiskey neat and downs it in one go. A large man turns and looks at the rock star who has suddenly pushed up to the bar next to him. He nods after the exiting girl and says, “I saw you turn her down. God, it must be true what they say. Your band is really full of a bunch of queens.” Roger gapes at him and then whirls away, pushing clumsily through the crowd and towards the door. John follows, effortlessly wending his way through the tangled web of people dancing and laughing and touching. He feels cold inside.
I still remember holding you, just out of sight of her
In the deep, dark parking lot pressed up against my car
With your hands around my neck, I felt the pounding of your heart
And the summer night was giving in to the lure of Autumn's sway
I can't seem to forget that night or how I heard you say,
That I'd just die if you ever took your love away
Oh, and I'd just die if you ever took your love away
Roger leaves the club in a blind stumble, staggering past the bouncers unseeing. He finds his own car in the valet lot through sheer luck and goes to open the driver’s door before realizing that the valet has the keys. He rests his forehead against the car for a moment. John kicks a pebble accidently and it skitters off into the darkness with a betraying clatter. Roger looks up quickly and blanches as he sees John.
“Are you following me?” His voice is high and cracked and John winces at the accusation in it.
“Yes,” answers John, simply and openly. He sees the guilt flash in Roger’s face, guilt followed hard by anger. Roger comes around the car, catches John’s wrist and spins him around. John trips on an uneven bit of pavement and then stumbles against the side of the car. Roger is pulled after him and lands roughly against John. The collision knocks the breath from both of them and John can feel the rigid, cold metal of the side of the car pressing into him and bending his body into an unnatural curve.
He gasps for air. “I wanted to see where you would go. Where you think you can run to to escape your own desire.”
“Fuck!” Roger exclaims and John thinks that this time he has gone too far because now Roger’s hands are around his throat and his dark eyes are wild and John cannot see the whites of them. A red haze falls over his vision as Roger’s hands tighten.
“Can’t you just leave me alone?” Roger growls and shakes John desperately.
“You don’t want that,” John manages to choke out.
“Yes, I do!” His fingers spasm and then he renews his grip on John with a howl. “Fuck, no, I don’t.” He took a breath that was almost a sob. “Please don’t go, John. I think I would just die…if you ever took your love…”
“God, Roger. I can’t…” His voice is a rough keen in his own ears. His desire and his resentment towards the other man build until they merge and he is helpless under their influence. John catches Roger’s mouth with his own and kissed him deeply, right there in the open, pushed against Roger’s car. Roger’s hands slowly relax and loosen and John feels the rush of blood to his brain as a dizzying and euphoric rush. He can feel Roger’s heart pounding slightly out of step with his own and feels an answering hardness against his erection.
Roger tears away from the kiss and tries the passenger door of the car with a frustrated rattle. Miraculously, it opens and they tumble together into the ridiculous rock star coupe in a tangle of limbs and lips. Roger takes him with fumbling, school boy haste, awkwardly positioned across the front seat of the car. The gear lever digs painfully into his side and he comes with sharp and aching intensity as Roger wraps a hand around him and jerks him off by raw force. Through the haze of his arousal, he has the naïveté to think that this public fucking must have broken down some sort of barrier in Roger.
He has rarely been so wrong.
And how much time do you think that we have?
If I wanted to, I could start over again
Let the good night decide who she wants me to find
And I'll never let you drop another tear in my eye
John sits motionless on the edge of the bed as the sound of the door closing fades away. He doesn’t respond when he hears Roger toss his keys onto the console table in the entryway and call his name, hesitantly and tinged with guilt. He listens to the sound of footsteps on the stairs and the quiet creak of the bedroom door being swung open. He doesn’t look at the other man, not yet, because he knows that the sight of Roger would break him.
“What are you doing?” Roger’s voice is flat and John can tell that he isn’t asking, not really. He already knows. That is the thing that people forget about Roger, that he is an intelligent man.
“I’m done with this, Roger. I can’t be your secret anymore, the thing you come home to when you are tired of pretending to be something you’re not.” He almost does not recognize the sound of his own voice, it sounds deadened as it falls into the silent room.
Roger shifts and John still does not look at him. He smooths down the front of his shirt and silently mouths the words before Roger says them aloud. “I just need a little more time.”
John stands swiftly and some of Roger’s laundry avalanches from the bed. His annoyance at hearing those same damn words again gives him the courage to face Roger and when he takes a step forward the drummer flinches. “Do you think I didn’t know about all your pretty girlfriends, Roger?” Roger opens his mouth to defend himself, but John presses on, heedless. “I waited for you! Gave you time to decide!”
He waits for Roger to speak. Roger bites his lip and stares at John pleadingly. Hell, he’s beautiful, John thinks and he almost gives in. But he thinks of all the sleepless nights wondering if Roger will come home and all the handsome night club strangers he could have if terrible, mercurial beauty was all that he wanted.
“You can’t fucking decide, can you?” he snorted and almost felt pity as Roger shrinks back. “Well, I’ve gone and decided for both of us.”
It hurts, he decides. It hurts to see Roger’s eyes glisten in the dim light of the bedroom. It hurts to brush off his touch as John picks up his bag and pushes past him, headed out of the door. He wonders how long it will take for him to stop watching Roger. Maybe long enough for him to notice someone else, someone who isn’t afraid to have his eye resting on them.
He wonders if it would hurt more to hear Roger crying for him left behind in their bedroom or to hear no sound at all coming from the room. He can’t decide and so he presses his hands to his ears and tightly closes his eyes as he stumbles down the stairs.
Maybe your work will love you
When I'm just not there to hold you
Maybe your pride can be your companion
Oh, but I just won't be there to stand for it
Not one more minute will I stand for it