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To You, Sweet Lady

Chapter Text

Some people say these are the worst of times ...

Brian May needs sleep. He has been told to get more rest many times over the years, starting when his mother ushered him inside as he stared, open-mouthed and wide-eyed into the universe, those trillions of stars blinking far above his curly ten-year-old head. He has been told to get sleep as much, possibly even more, than he's been told to eat. He wishes he could say that he takes the advice.

He tries, really; he does. But his mind keeps on whirling endlessly and will not stop, and his heart is buzzing after every show and his fingers are warm and aching after dancing with his old girl expertly, carefully caressing her strings.

She is the only one who has never failed him--never reprimanded or scolded, never told him he was wasting away his time and his talent. She simply begged to be played with all that she was, all she is, all that she has been since he and his father crafted her years ago.

She is home--the mahogany fireplace, the click-clack of his mother's knitting needles. She is a promise to play, a hope and help for a poor family, too poor to afford to purchase a guitar, even a knock-off Gibson, much less a real Stratocaster. She is blood and sweat and tears--the first in colour, second in work, and third whenever Brian feels utterly exhausted and spent, he curls up around her case and cries sometimes. No one has caught him in the act yet; the lads are busy, and they love the work as much as he does. And even when they all are out or busy or working in the studio, or anything, Brian is never alone; he always has his Red Special.

Mayhap he has begun anthropomorphising her--and how; seems ever since he finished sanding her and held her in his arms touching her strings tenderly for the first time, he's called her his Old Lady, his dear red love. She sticks by him: steady, steadfast, familiar, warm. He always carries her with him.

"You practically make love to that guitar," Roger had told him once, blond tresses swaying as he shook his head incredulously at the guitarist from behind his drum kit in rehearsal. "I've seen you on stage, Bri. The way you move as you hold her, how she makes that particular sound--" he raises and waggles his eyebrows cheekily. "Oh, and the fact that she, well, is a 'SHE'--"

"Oh, piss off," Brian grouses back. "You and your car-fucking song."

"I told you it's a meTAPHOR, Brian!" Rog snaps at him then and Brian ducks his head, dark curls obscuring his face to hide his smile, but he cannot hide his chuckling quite so well.

After a moment Roger laughs too and lays off the joke. But Bri's guitar is always there for him, Roger's naughty ridiculous insinuations nonwithstanding. That, at the very least, is true. She has been here with him through thick and thin, and even when nothing else makes sense to Brian, his music does. He can always play, through anything.

That much he knows.

Chapter Text

But if the world turns upside-down, baby I know you'll always be around, my my!

Brian curls up in his bed regretfully, a throbbing pain sluicing through his guts as another stabs into his arm. He had been in hospital for some time with hepatitis and gangrene. It had been hell, and it still hasn't stopped hurting; and then, damn...the boys had redone his guitar parts on the album.

Well, they asked him to redo them and Bri had nodded as best he could, trying to smile, but he'd been unable to look at Freddie's dear face since then, hear that murmur of "It's going to be alright, Bri my darling." He had turned away like a coward instead and practically run from the room.

He obviously can't play through everything.

Brian had run. In agony, in fear. After shaking his head and gasping out "... It's fine, I understand; I'll get started tomorrow." His voice is choked. John's gentle eyes follow the anxious exit of his lanky friend as he makes it to the door, beside which Roger stands with blue eyes wide.

The drummer reaches out to Brian and grabs his nearest hand. "Mate," he speaks huskily, that round face gentle and his eyes squinting ever-so-slightly as they do when he doesn't have his glasses on, when he's really showing his truest self and how he is feeling.

And Brian can tell that Roger knows what this is doing to him, that he feels the stabbing ache that cracks Brian's heart and jabs like knives into his stomach. But Bri also knows that if he stays here and talks to Roger he is going to completely lose it, and he cannot bear that. He already feels so useless and weak, he cannot--WILL not add blubbering like a baby onto the lengthening list of his failings.

So he gasps and pulls himself free from the grasp of Roger's callused hand, charging down the hall of the studio and making it back to his miniscule hotel room, where he collapses onto the bed and curls into a ball, pitiful. He is a pitiful excuse for a person, never mind a musician. He could have--ought to have told them all to sod off, that his guitar work was fine; or said if they thought it was so awful, why didn't one of them just go ahead and play?

...Which he knows isn't fair, Brian heaves out a heavy sharp breath now and clutches his guitar closer to him. It is Sheffield, always him, their manager, who wants them to pound out their next album now now NOW, health concerns be damned, got to get that money! Besides, Brian hasn't said a word to anybody about how weak and in pain and utterly wretched he still feels. Honestly, he feels like absolute shite, achy and exhausted so much of the time and yet he STILL can't fucking fall asleep. Honestly he just wants somebody to hold onto him and allow him to sob into their shoulder. Not Chrissie, though; he has to take care of her, not the other way around. That's not how it works. Besides, she isn't here.

Brian twists and turns atop the blankets, trying desperately to get comfortable, and finally he dozes off and falls into a fitful sleep, half-remembered and half-created guitar solos echoing inside his head.

Chapter Text

The best of times are when I'm alone with you; some rain, some shine...

He wakes an uncertain amount of time later to darkness and to the surety that he is no longer alone. He had not bothered to turn off the light in his room, of that he is certain; nor had he tucked himself into bed, but here he is now--his clogs have been removed and his long body rests beneath the covers. And the overhead light is off. A shadowy figure leans against the headboard beside him, with a bit of space in between the pair of them, humming in a high sweet voice.

Brian clears his throat. "...Roger?" He inquires, voice rough and quiet, scratchy from sleep. "Rogie, is that you?" His friend has been known to sneak into Brian's room to crash some nights--when too drunk to recall his own room number or if he leaves a girl--incredibly early--to find her own way home.

But an amused voice that is decidedly not Roger's replies "Try again, Brian love."

Brian flings himself to his feet, practically falling out of bed and sprawling on the floor as he fumbles for the light. He turns on the lamp at his bedside to see a soft smile, deep, dark hair, almost black but with a reddish sheen...auburn? He wonders, and does not know. Rich mahogany-coloured eyes stare back at him. There is a strange, beautiful someone sitting on his bed. No, this is not real life. It's fantasy. He has got to be dreaming. Though why in hell would he...? Not finishing that thought, he sputters out "Wha--I'm sorry, who are you, and what-- I--" he cannot formulate a complete query or even a full sentence. Smooth, Brian. Bloody brilliant you are supposed to be. Well fucking done.

Still smiling, the figure, who has the shape of a woman, leans in, tapping silvery-white fingertips against his guitar case. "Take a breath and think about it," she speaks gently, softly inviting him to take a look and see that the case is empty.

There is a roar in Brian's ears as his heart begins to pound. Oh, no. "Where is my guitar?" He demands.

She spreads her arms with a significant glance down at herself and then back to him. "Still right beside you, Bri."

What? No, this is ridiculous. Utterly absurd. What did he drink before he went to bed?

"You haven't been drinking, Brian," that soothing voice says. "You haven't eaten recently, either." He could have sworn he hears a muttered something about needing to fix that. "...Do come and sit or lie back down before you fall."

"I'm going mad," Brian croaks, running shaky fingers through his disheveled black hair. "That's it, I've finally cracked from the bloody strain. Perfect timing. Or this could be a dream, or a sick joke." He stares at her. "Are you joking?"

The figure on his bed purses her lips. Her body thrums, almost; it's as if it is shivering in time to the acoustics of her voice somehow. "I'm not," she stresses, and then sings "Boy you'd better begin to get those crazy notions right outta your head--" And Brian hears the twang of his Red Special in there somehow--as a part of her, AS her. Tears prickle at the corners of his eyes. He has no idea what to do about this or why or how it's happened, how to even begin quantifying or explaining it, but he believes.

He also has no earthly idea how to refer to this being. Somehow 'Old Lady' no longer seems appropriate. But she is his-- "Red? You're my--you're the--"

"Yes, Brian," she reaches over and pats his arm, thin fingers pliant like strings. He jumps and shrinks backwards even as he had managed to sit back down on the bed. "Red Special, in the flesh. Oh come now, we've known each other since you were fourteen years of age; don't start getting all shy on me."

Brian flushes. "Well, er--I --you're..." Damn it, pull yourself together, Brian May, you sound like an absolute moron. "...You aren't --you haven't got any clothes on, for one thing. Here." Not clothes in the conventional sense, anyway. He fiercely tamps down his awareness of the remark he would most certainly hear from Roger about that statement and jumps up to grab a robe for her, one of Freddie's silk ones that he'd let Brian borrow when he was so sick at the hospital and Bri hasn't given it back yet. He feels a twinging of guilt in his innards as he holds it out, eyes averted from her form. He feels her weight rise off the bed as she takes the garment from him.

"Alright, you can lift your pure and innocent eyes now," and she is laughing. He swallows and rubs his hand across his face before looking at this person directly, deliberately for the first time.

She is petite, well, short; far shorter than he -- as practically everyone is. Her eyes are rich and dark as the bridge of his...well, of her guitar form. And he has already seen the silvery sheen of her fingers because of her...strings, though the rest of her skin is darker. She has several marks on her arms in the shape of the dowels he and his father screwed into the face of--good god. This is baffling. Brian shakes his head a bit and swallows hard again before whispering "...What are you doing here, like this, with me? And why is it that I'm not going mad, exactly? Because, I'm sorry, but this is absolutely bonkers. I am having a conversation with my ruddy guitar!"

Rolling her eyes, Red cracks "Please, it's not like you haven't talked to me before."

Brian blushes even harder, if that's possible. "Yes, but--" But you never talked back before. What in the bloody hell is going on here? Why is this HAPPENING to him?! All he wanted was to try and get some actual sleep before everything almost certainly gets fucked up in the studio tomorrow....

Bri's breath speeds up and the look on his face; well, everything about him and his body language telegraphs anxiety and his guitar knows him well. She moves to his side. He had stood up again when saying that he was having a conversation with her, which is completely understandable--she knows how strange that is. Now she gently asks him in a matter-of-fact tone: "There's something wrong, isn't there? What is it?"

He shakes his head, closes his eyes. This is ridiculous. But she is standing, waiting for him to speak, and finally: "They want me --er, us, I guess-- to redo all of my guitar parts on this album. They're not... obviously they aren't good enough," and Brian drops abruptly onto the bed, putting his face in his hands. "... I'm not well," The tall man admits. He hasn't told anyone else, but who will she tell? The speakers? Roger's drums? Hell, John's bass could be a chatty Cathy for all he knows. This is a strange damn day. "That's why the parts are piss-poor. What if I don't get better and the boys, they--" he chokes on the words that he hasn't dared to say aloud before, though he's certainly thought about them; in his hospital bed before surgery, and even after, and every time since that he does not feel at his best. He is scared. He has to tell her, however--as utterly mind-boggling as this situation is, it affects her as well. "...what if they decide they don't want, can't use me anymore, and they find a new guitarist for the band?"

"Oh, Brian." Sitting beside and wrapping her arms around him, Red pushes her newly acquired fingers through the guitarist's curls and is so pleased that she can do so. He falls into her at the touch, practically collapses like a tiny frightened child, and suddenly he is weeping. She strokes his hair and murmurs gently to him. "There now, let it all out. That's a good lad." She thinks back over all the times his fingers flew across her strings, through her heart, and she was crying out his pain for him. Now, though, she allows him the space to expunge his wails of fear and grief and is grateful, no; what is the proper word? Ah yes-- she feels privileged to be able to give him a hug.

"You are so gifted," she utters eventually after he has cried himself out and his shoulders have mostly ceased their shaking. Her melody, her notes can now form words, and words mean everything. "Truly a wonderful guitarist, and I'm not just saying that because I'm me...okay, maybe I am a little," she allows, and Brian sniffs and actually smiles. He almost chuckles. Sweet victory! "But the point is that you have never stopped working. You're stubborn, and--to paraphrase Roger a bit: you worked your bleeding arse off on this, Bri! Gonna make the rest of us look bad!" Now she chuckles warmly, eyes studying his face. "Do you recall that, when Roger said--?"

"...he said that about 'Teo Torriate' during the work on our last album," Brian whispers. He lifts his head to look at her, hazel gaze wide with awe as she beams. "You know that... because you were there." You're always there for me, he wants to say, but that would truly be too sappy and ridiculous even on this night during these particular happenings. Even for him. Especially for him.

She nods. "So I know exactly how good you are," she informs him now. "Did I mention how stubborn?" Brian's eyes crinkle and he actually laughs, a light, real sound that makes her feel like she is soaring. She inwardly marvels at being able to say these words, to give Brian the comfort he so desperately craves and deserves. "I know you will not quit until you get this right, because I know you. And the boys love you." Even when made of wood and metal she could ascertain that because she was made from, and is played with, love. So much love. Her tone grows steely: "And if they ever DO try to throw you out of the band, they will answer to me."

Her fierce protectiveness is a sight to behold. Brian swipes tears from his face, feeling a trifle better though his mind continues to whirl. "How?" He asks her.

"Hm?" She replies absently, brushing tears from his face with her, well, Freddie's, sleeve. Brian flushes again, in surprise this time.

"How will they answer to you? How did you even become... Are you going to remain human? Oh my god, how will I be able to play in the studio tomorrow if you're like this? I--"

"Shh, Brian, calm down. Deep breaths, love. I've got you. I will take care of you--done it thus far, haven't I? Now do come back and get some more sleep, come on. Things will be better and brighter in the morning." She fluffs up his pillow for him as best she can and exhorts him to get back in bed, honestly. Which he does. She pulls the covers up underneath his chin and tucks them snugly round him, and Brian knows for certain now that it was she who had put him to bed earlier. Turning off the light once more, she leans over and kisses him sweetly on the forehead. "Good night, Brian."

"...Good night... er, Red." Brian remains bemused but feels himself beginning to relax nonetheless as she chuckles and hums softly.

The guitarist eventually drifts off to sleep to the reassuring hum of quiet vocals, a gentle remonstration and reminder all at once: "Pull yourself together, 'cause you know you should do better --that's because you're a free man."

Chapter Text

Brian wakes up alone, with his guitar in her case as usual, and he scrambles up from the bed after recalling...well, he doesn't rightly know WHAT he recalls-- if it was a dream or if he is truly going mad. He stares at the polished wood and lacquer of his Special and cannot immediately touch her. What had happened last night? What in the world had he been ON?

He looks around the room, almost panicking, and then he spies the robe, Freddie's robe. It is folded neatly on top of the little round table that always exists in these kinds of hotel rooms. Brian freezes and then he walks over slowly, tiptoeing as if that would somehow improve the situation or make his brain work any better. But no; he remembers that robe had been hanging up last night, and he had gotten it down out of his closet to put on his...the visitor who was somehow his guitar, and now it is neatly folded and laid on the table with the sash gathered on top of it and Brian cannot fathom this possible dream that has consequences, however small and mundane they may first seem, in reality.

He stares dumbly at the folded robe for what seems like ages, a headache forming behind his eyes.

He jumps and bangs his hip into the table as a loud knocking sounds on his door and precedes Roger's high voice: "Brian, get your lanky arse up, mate! We're wasting daylight! I already have to wait endlessly for Freddie, please don't force me to thump you for being late to the studio too!"

Rubbing his hip and meandering over to the door, Brian opens it. "Right. Sorry. ...Hey, you didn't happen to see anybody come out of my room earlier this morning, did you, Rog?"

Roger's eyebrows disappear into his fluffy fringe as he blinks. "Erm, no. Hell no. What, did you have someone in here with you??" His ever-cheerful countenance breaks into a sunny smile. "Oh naughty, naughty Brian! Do tell!"

"Sod off," Brian grumbles, "it wasn't like that." He hesitates for ages as he turns round to pick up his now-locked guitar case--the guitar remains inside it, he had checked. With a bulk-shattering sigh he adds "Well. ...I don't know what it was like, to be honest."

Roger's brows lower in reply to that and he squints in real, honest concern. However much he teases Brian--relentlessly, alright; but he has to keep him humble somehow--he truly cares about this stubborn, perfectionistic, utterly impossible but sweet man who takes care of everyone but himself always. Tipping his chin and locking eyes with the tall man as Brian carefully closes his door and they begin heading down the hall together, Roger asks "Bri, what's going on with you? Everything alright, mate? And don't say 'yeah, it's fine' because I can tell it's not, so. What's up?"

Air hisses out of Brian's cheeks as he tramps beside his much-shorter friend. He would have to shorten his strides when walking with anyone else, but Roger has an endless supply of energy and steps quick. He always has done, taking probably three or four strides to Brian's one, but easily keeping pace with him. Which means that the guitarist won't be able to ditch him in order to avoid the question. Bugger. Inhaling deeply, Bri recalls the (possibly dreamt) words that his Red Special said to him last night: he is gifted. And he knows he shouldn't be afraid to ask for help. Dream or not, this is important. So "--I'm worried about the album," Brian admits.

Roger scoffs. "Oh, really? YOU, worrying over the state of our music and if it's 'just right' or not? Such a shocker."

Brian cuts his eyes at him. "No, Rog, I mean ME. Whether or not I can do it. I ..." He chokes on air briefly and shuts his eyes. Come on, Brian, just say it. This is Roger. Oh, shite, it's Roger. He really ought to have talked to John first, that gentle quiet steadiness of his would've benefited this sort of conversation a lot. Or Freddie; Fred is always so sweet about things like this, he has a warm way about him that allays any and all of Brian's fears in short shrift. But Rog is standing here waiting loyally with his eyes as big as saucers, and Bri has to tell him now. "...I hurt, Rog," he admits. "From the hepatitis, and-- from what happened to me after, there's still pain. And I'm so tired all the time. But I'll be fine," he adds instantly. "Don't worry about me, I can handle it. I'm just mewling like a--"

"Brian, shut the fuck up and don't be ridiculous," Roger declares. "You're a sodding idiot if you think that a, I'm just not going to worry about you. But b, now that you've SAID something, we can help you out, mate. I, we all, want to help. Why the fuck is that so difficult for you to understand?"

Bri's lips quirk up in a slight smile. Bless Rogie and his vehemence. "I don't know," he says.

Rog snorts. "Well you'd better get to figuring it out, buddy, because you're stuck with me. You're stuck with all of us." He nudges Brian's midriff with his elbow. "We're always going to be here to help you out. You don't ALWAYS have to be the one who takes care of everybody else. Got it? Jesus, Brian, let someone take care of YOU for once in your bloody life. You deserve it."

Brian lowers his head, curls obscuring the tears that come to his eyes unbidden. Damn emotional response mechanisms. But this means so much. "Yes, I've got it. Thanks, Rog."

Roger rolls his eyes in exasperated fondness. How Brian still doesn't know what he means to all of them-- "I swear, for a bloody astrophysicist, sometimes you can be incredibly fucking thick."

Indeed. Brian glances fondly down at his Red Special and then over at Roger. But despite his occasional --or common-- thickness, he has got people in his life who are happy, somehow, to deal with him and help him anyway, and Brian May will forever be thankful for that.

Chapter Text

"Brian, you doing alright, mate?"

Bri's fingers falter on his guitar strings and he lifts them away carefully as though they might bruise the surface. "...What? I'm fine."

"You're holding that thing like it's going to break, love," Freddie calls over.

Brian explodes. "She's not a THING, Fred!" She's brilliant, and possibly alive, oh sweet Lord God I'm going mad.

Brian closes his eyes and shakes his head back and forth rapidly, swallowing hard. He looks up to see John studying him, those grey-green eyes of his wide with shock and concern, and the sight of Deacy looking like that makes guilt coil in Brian's gut. He bites his lip and then adds, hating the fact that he is saying this even as he expels the words: "You already have a problem with my playing, lads, so how much different is this, really?" Brian rips his headphones away from his hair, catching up a few curls and wincing at the pain. Tears come to his eyes unbidden and he snarls out "Oh, fuck it!" What is he even doing here?? "I can't--"

He hears Roger murmur something to Freddie as he spins away from them all, shoulders shaking as he lifts the Red Special away from his body oh-so-gently. "I'm sorry, Red," he whispers, his throat working and mouth dry as he places her gently down. "I'm not...not gifted, not what you think I am. I'm sorry."

Bri feels a presence come up behind him and then a strong hand takes him by the shoulder and spins him round. Freddie. "Oh, darling, what's wrong? Your notes were fine, you're just moving and playing like you're brittle, and we can't have you breaking on us. That would be a ghastly story in the papers, you know. Think of it: 'renowned Queen guitarist Brian May shatters to pieces in the recording studio. Services will be held - he is sorely missed, and his band cannot go on without him'." Freddie's tone is light and playful but his sentiments are sincere. "We would be in shambles without you, Brian."

Brian freezes, his head bowed in shame, long fingers clenching and unclenching as his shoulders shake just a bit. His voice cracks as he whispers "... Really, Fred? You would?"

Freddie reaches out and puts a finger under Brian's sharp chin and pushes it up so that Bri must, is forced to, stare into his eyes. Their rich brown depths are filled with love and incredulity but also full of real understanding, because Freddie himself wonders whether or not he is deserving of anyone's esteem. He and Brian understand one another so well. So his voice is serious as he says "Of course, Brian. We can't do without you. I promise you that."

"...And we wouldn't want to, mate," Roger puts in, leaning out from behind his drum kit as John furiously nods. "Without your guitar solos things would be bloody fucking boring around here."

Brian lets out a half-chuckle, half-sob as Freddie pulls him into a hug. His chin presses atop his friend's broad shoulder as he locks eyes with Rog. "Oh, I'm sure that Deacy would be able to handle it," he says, an undercurrent of something almost bitter in his tone. "...He can teach himself to play anything."

Freddie's arms tighten around Brian and then he leans back away from him to look into his face, eyes narrowing with irritation on behalf of John. Brian regrets speaking as he had almost instantly; he longs for that comfort and warmth from Freddie, he needs, wants, aches for another hug; he always feels so bloody cold.

But the bassist bounces a bit and dips his head, long hair swaying. "Maybe I could learn, but I'd never be able to master your particular sound, Brian. It's part of what makes us Queen."

Brian chokes and squeezes his eyes shut. He's a fucking arsehole. Automatically reaching out with a trembling hand, he opens his eyes and says "John, I'm so--"

John shakes his head. "Don't worry about it. You're having a time at the moment." But his voice trembles a bit at the tail-end of the statement, and Brian wants to say something else, but can't quite manage to articulate it before Roger is up and throwing a hand around to squeeze Deacy's slim shoulders, blond hair dipping next to his face as he says something that makes John laugh. Brian envies that. He is so very serious, and dark, and sad; whereas Roger is so bright and cheerful and shiny that he can lighten anyone's mood in an instant. But his anger is bright too, and flashing, and screams out into the open world, into the void like lightning. Brian stews and broods and carries his hurts, his baggage with him.

And that is what is happening now as he looks back at Fred whose eyes are still upon him as he stands there, steadily. Brian wants to weep, suddenly; just collapse into Fred's neck and bawl like a baby. But he is a grown fucking man and he cannot break like that. So he shakes out his arms, and swallows, and says "...Okay. I'm okay now. Let's--continue recording."

"Yeah?" Roger looks over with a smile. "You're good? Atta boy, Bri!" He rubs John's shoulder as the bassist looks at Brian too, and Freddie is still studying him. He has to be strong.

"Are you certain you're alright, darling? We CAN take a break, you know."

"No, I mean, I know we can, but I don't need one. Honest." Brian does his best to smile as he pulls off his outer shirt and reveals a thin grey one beneath before turning to pick up his guitar again.

Something flashes in Freddie's eyes for a moment, there and gone, but then he is nodding and he beams, squeezing Brian's shoulder before letting him go and running back to the microphone. Brian swallows, hand slightly shaking as he had raised it in an attempt to take Freddie's; but too late, he has departed Brian's space already, taking his warmth and comfort with him. Brian swallows hard and rocks backwards in an attempt to settle himself. Come on. You can do this, you have to do this, Brian. Roger and John take their places again.

"If you're certain that you're fine, let's fucking do this, darling!" Fred crows, teeth flashing under the lights as he waves for their producer to roll the tape again.

Brian breathes, and sighs, and launches into the guitar riff of their newest song.

Chapter Text

"Drinks, Brian?"

Bri sighs as John asks that question so timidly of him after they've done recording. He feels the thrum twanging still through his fingers and works them a bit, glancing at Deacy through the curtain of his midnight curls. "...In a bit, yeah," he manages, trying to offer a smile that he is sure looks like a rictus bloody grin. Great. "Think I ought to go for a walk first."

Get out his kinks and his idiotic self-loathing rage, perhaps; the heavy freeze of anger that is still dogging at his heels from when he exploded earlier. He wonders if John will say anything, but Deaks just nods at him and walks to the door with Freddie, hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans jacket, and leaving Brian to feel an ache bloom and grow and spread through his heart.

Rog looks back over his shoulder and offers a cheeky wave and obscene gesture after John obviously mutters something about what Brian has chosen to do instead of going for drinks with them right now. He is almost persuaded to change his mind, but at the sight of John and Roger giggling about something and Freddie beaming fondly at them, the ugly green-eyed monster of jealousy rears its fiendish head and Brian turns back to put his guitar in her case. He therefore does not see Freddie blow him a fond kiss as he leaves. Nor does he register the gentle understanding in John's backward glance, or the flash of concern in Roger's.

The lights go out in the rest of the studio and Brian is alone now as he sighs and puts Red down. He runs a hand through his hair and looks away for an instant, only to hear a disapproving "Oh, too big for your britches to go out with them?" He jerks and whirls back to see Red, sitting in her case with legs folded and fingers tapping on her arm. Her mahogany gaze bores into him. "What was all of that, Brian? You traumatised poor Deacy."

"I--" he instantly swallows in shame, even as his heart is thumping madly because here she is again and is he more insane to imagine this happening twice? A jacket hangs by the door and she grabs it, slinging it round her shoulders, and he sees clothing on her shapely legs and torso this time. How on Earth did--no, leave it, Brian, he remonstrates himself. Wait. Hang on, hold the bloody phone- "... Traumatised? I HARDLY think--"

"No, you wouldn't, because you were so involved in your own hurts that you didn't think about his." Cocking her head, Red adds "Did you take to heart anything that I told you last night? You can't keep doing this to yourself and the boys."

She raises an eyebrow as she studies him, and Brian's shoulders slump. He feels like a chastened child. "...I know," he admits. "It's just--" I feel so much and my worries are endless and "... I haven't gotten a good night's sleep since I have no idea when, save for last night, at least."

She shakes her head and sighs. "That isn't all of it, and I know as much as you do, you stubborn man." She leans forward and up onto her toes to ruffle his curls fondly, and Brian blinks, unable to stop a tiny smile from flitting across his face.

"I'll--I will talk to Deacy," he promises. "I just really do need to take a walk first."

"And you ought to eat," she reminds him. "You haven't had a thing since breakfast."

"Err... I-- didn't exactly eat breakfast," Brian admits hesitantly.

Red gasps and whacks him lightly on the arm. "What! Well that's certainly part of your problem, Brian May--you are most assuredly hungry." Shaking her head at him in a fond manner "What am I going to do with you?" She asks.

Bri ducks his head. "I don't know," he offers. And then because he cannot help himself: "But... please don't leave me."

Red's features soften and she leans against his side. "I would never," she says. "Now let's go--I'm sure there are ample places to get a meal around here, and I've simply got to try some food!" The guitarist stares. "What? It won't be a problem, just close up my case and let's go."

"So you're...not a figment of my imagination, then?" Brian asks her as he obediently holds open the studio's door, slinging his case over one lean shoulder. "...Or am I going to look mental, talking to myself?"

She winks at him but does not answer his questions. "It depends on what you believe," is all she says.

"Ugh. Are you always going to be this bloody cryptic?" Bri rubs his curls in frustration. Red laughs at him, skipping ahead down the hallway and out into the world.