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We Danced Into The Fire And Look Where It Got Us

Chapter Text

Beautifully calloused, tingling and tormenting fingers trailed slowly down the burning, slick skin of his front man.

 

The bassist breathed in, shaky, and released it: in a perfect scale of moans.

 

The singer picked up his speed, dexterous fingers plunging lower, teeth nipping at the elongated column of his throat, tongue swirling, in a rhythm all of their own.


Those torturous fingers clasped his sides, skirting down the grooves of his cut hips and shoving the name of it deep into his ear: my bass god is here and John, he better not be running anywhere before morning.

 

His bass god groaned in response which screamed: he’s not, Charlie. He’ll never leave your side.

 

The kisses were hot, intense, wild and free; sharing moans and saliva as they rocked to their own beat.

 

Together they groaned, grinding together as the perfect crescendo washed over them: the perfect rhythm section.

 

***

Bright blue eyes pried themselves open, his huge hands felt around the bed. Nothing. Then, a choked off scream filled the air and Simon bolted upright, calling his name, practically sprinting to the open en suite door.

 

He glanced down at John, hunched over the toilet seat, his face turned away. He wretched, climbing up into his shaking knees and again emptied the contents of his stomach. Simon’s eyebrow’s furrowed and within moments he was at John’s back, rubbing his quaking shoulders.

 

“Johnny, Johnny! I’m here, babe. What the hell happened?”

 

John took a deep breath and- no, not this time. He slouched back over the toilet bowl heaving, breaths coming up short. He wretched again and muttered: Charlie.

 

“John, what is it John?” Simon asked, trying to hide the panic in his voice. “It’s been three mornings of this, what’s wrong?”

 

He was met by short breaths and pants, parted lips and- Simon’s heart clenched. It was too late until John realised what he had done: having angled his face up to Simon at his back. His eyes were dimmed red, bloodshot, his cheeks covered in tears. The usual beaming smile forced itself to appear on John’s quivering bottom lip. He cursed under his breath and again, faced the toilet bowl.

 

“Just some..” He engulfed some air, holding it tight in his throat, “bad coke. I- I took. Ands got some” John again paused, this time to hastily wipe his face, “Columbian shit, Simon, I.. I didn’t. Fuck, it didn’t agree with me.”

 

Simon’s weary eyes traced John’s hunched form, rubbing circles on the small of his back. With one deft hand he wrapped himself around John’s bed hair, brushing his golden bangs from his face.

 

“It’s okay, it’s okay. I’m here, John, I’ll stay.”

 

John, near breathless, cocked his head and was met with a warm and beaming smile from the singer. He tried to match it with one of his own but it lacked conviction that he was truly happy.

 

“Thanks.” He muttered in a short breath. “Thank you, Charlie.”

 

At that John felt his stomach finally stop its churning and slowly, cautiously rose to his feet. Simon helped him, wrapping two hands around his sides and easing him upwards.

 

Together they stood facing the mirror, Simon’s head resting in the sweat slick skin of where John’s neck met shoulder. John reached behind him and clasped at Simon tighter, bringing his hands to settle around his waist. He cracked a small smile as Simon nuzzled his perfectly cut cheek and let out a small moan as those plush lips caressed his temple.

 

“I love you.” John breathed, moulding himself into Simon’s grasp.

 

”I know, I love you too Nigel.” John chuckled at the use of his given name and Simon could feel it.

 

He couldn’t help himself, he brushed John’s bangs from his flushed face and hugged him tighter, his hands enclosing themselves around John’s sweaty ones. Simon bought John’s trembling hands up to his lips and kissed them, feeling John immediately relax into his secure frame and hum his adoration.

 

***

Filming for the Arena album was almost at an end. It had been a while ride of countless sessions and hours on their feet. John’s calloused fingers were raw, his bass strings burning in his hands. He sighed as a wave of nausea washed over him. Putting a hand to his forehead he shut his eyes tight and steadied his breathing, praying for the mini bout of hell to quickly end.

 

Out of the corner of his eye Simon could see him: tired and over worked. Somehow John appeared in a worse state than the others.

 

John’s blazing red jacket was hanging loose, his shirt had crumpled and was half hanging out of his leather trousers. It appeared that he was gaining weight which Simon guessed he was thankful for, hoping that the weight was being put on for the right reasons. John’s usually hypnotic chocolate brown eyes weren’t as wide and awake as Simon figured they ought to be. The dark circles, the mussed mullet, it all sang of a plea for help. A plea that every band member knew that John himself would never let on.

 

“Think we got it.” Somebody, probably Russell, called.

 

He had been snapping more, Simon had noted, his patience wearing thin over the most pointless things. Simon had hinted to Nick who too had sensed a change. Simon had cursed, of course he had noticed the change in John. Nigel John Taylor and Nicholas Bates had been the best of friends since they were thirteen and eleven. Nick knew John better than anyone and together he and Simon worried endlessly about the bassist and his proclivities.

 

The cocaine. They’d settled on the cocaine both seemingly not convinced that it was the answer at all. At least, not this time.

 

He had first been exposed to it sometime in ‘82. Together he and Andy has experimented: Cocaine and John himself ecstasy at one of his countless parties with one of his countless birds. Or lads, Simon refused to dwell on it.

 

Every band member knew he was out of control, falling deeper and deeper into the drinks, balancing himself out with line after line, night after night. How Simon could keep himself by his man truly astounded him sometimes. It was the lifestyle, the schedule, the endless travelling and for John, boredom. His demise.

 

It has only been two years. Who knew how much life John still had pulsing through his veins. 

 

***

The following evening the band stalked off back to their hotel rooms, first stopping off at the bar.

 

Drinks were poured and laughter was shared. It was a well earned celebration for completing another day of recording and John’s inner turmoil.

 

“The usual, John?”

 

“Do you even need to ask?!” He barked back, taking in the crooked smile of Andy.

 

Within moments he returned, two beers in hand.

 

“Start light, Nigel.”

 

“You’re the boss Mr Taylor.”


“As are you, fellow Mr Taylor!” They clinked bottles as the rest of the band surrounded them at the table. John downed it.

 

“Hey, luv!” He beamed, immediately wrapping an arm around Simon.

 

Simon lips caressed his cheek. They all new about them, Simon and John, their love and intimacy and although they both couldn’t care as to what the boys thought of them, they still tried to hide themselves from the fans. From the world. Which, of course, was no easy feat.

 

“When is it coming out again?” Roger asked, before taking a swig.

 

“November.” Nick replied, in his calm yet booming voice.

 

The beers flowed and the voices were becoming a blur, the alcohol seeming to hit John quick. He pouted, looking down at his leather clad lap and he frowned. Excusing himself he felt his head spin.

 

He practically ran to the bathroom, barely making it and he was on his knees with his shoulders slumped and cursing anyone and everyone.

 

“Fuck, not again.”

 

“Your damn right not again. Johnny, baby, this isn’t right. Let’s head back to the room.”

 

John hadn’t even noticed that Simon had followed him. He clambered to his feet, almost tripping on the tail end of his red jacket as he did so.

 

“I’m sorry luv, I don’t know what’s going on with me.”

 

“Just get some rest. We’ll talk in the morning, okay?” Simon was met with a nod, a small smile from John.

 

They passed the other members on their way back with John hunched, clutching tight to Simon’s shoulders. His nails bit into the white leather of his jacket but Simon didn’t seem to mind. He held John tighter and he coughed out something about him needing a good rest to the other boys.

 

“Too much cock if ya ask me!” Andy laughed, his thick northern accent ringing through the air. “He’s bloody exhausted!”

 

“More like nowhere near enough, man.” Roger muttered which earned a hearty bout of laughter from both Nick and Andy.

 

“Just piss off.” John screeched, half into Simon’s shoulders. “Wankers.” At that, all the men stopped laughing. Appraising eyebrows were raised. Even from Nick, behind the eyeliner, his eyes sang of concern and irritation.

 

”Nigel.”

 

He turned to Nick and immediately the guilt sunk in. “Sorry, I.. I.. uh, I’m sorry Nick.”

 

“Charlie” Nick began, “do you want me too-“

 

“-No Nick, I’ll look after him. You’ve been doing so for far too long.” Simon cracked a small smile.

 

Chapter Text

Back in John’s hotel room Simon deposited John’s heavy body onto the king size bed. He landed with a small grunt on his back, his eyes were heavily lidded as he traced Simon’s lean form.

 

“Come here.”

 

Simon grinned, wild, crawling onto the bed to meet him.

 

“Can we—“

 

“—Johnny, you know I’d love too but,” John’s whimper cut him off for a moment.

 

John was looking up at him, a wry smile on his face. Simon could finally survey him: his cheeks had flushed and his skin felt hot to touch. Beads of sweat rolled down John’s forehead and Simon kissed him, a tender touch as John whined for more.

 

“You’re getting ill.” John opened his mouth ready to protest, “Tomorrow, babe. Tomorrow we can.”

 

Reluctantly John nodded. He couldn’t really argue with Simon here as he knew that his singer would always have his best interests at heart. He was ill, that was surely the answer to all of this.

 

“Do you want me to go?” Simon muttered as he began removing John’s boots, the chains on them clinking as they were dropped to the floor.

 

John didn’t answer immediately. He had already dived into his pocket and felt the familiar weight, the familiar touch of the bag. Of the powder.

 

“Christ, Johnny.”

 

“What?” He cocked an eyebrow, pushing himself up to rest against her head board.

 

“You’re ill John. Just for one night can you please lay off the damn—“ Simon had barely stammered out his concerns as he heard a sniff, then another. He groaned as John practically convulsed in his grip.

 

“Fine. Fuck it. You’re not doing yourself any favours.”

 

He didn’t hear John’s reply. Simon was already on his feet, heading towards the door. He didn’t hear John’s protests, asking of him to stay and to hold him. Kiss him. Kiss him deeper. To suck him. To suck him dry.

 

The door slammed shut and John heaved out a sigh. His eyes fell to the small bag on the bed side table, to the straw and he decided: why the hell not? Cautiously he cut another line, hovering mere inches above it as he took hold of his straw.

 

Another night of beer swirling and cocaine racing through his veins. Perhaps he was thankful for having a night off of the vodka. Although he wasn’t sure why, he hadn’t a slightest craving for it these past couple of weeks. It was strange, sure, but what seemed worse was the beer.

 

The smell of it, the taste of it. It just wasn’t the same. John was brooding the sudden disinterest, how he had downed the bottle and almost wretched on the spot. Then when he did, he was on his feet and running, something that he never did. He could hold his liquor damn well and for the love of Christ, one bottle of Budweiser wouldn’t be his downfall. He simply wouldn’t allow it.


***

Back in his own room Simon lay helpless, a victim of insomnia. He tossed and turned in the satin sheets, restless. Usually he’d never just walk away like that. He’d fight, be the alpha he knew John needed. But tonight, the fight just wasn’t there. The power and the flame, Simon just couldn’t ignite it. John was propelling himself further into danger and Simon felt powerless, watching from the wings.

 

His bassist was hitting bum notes, his band mate had a firm detachment in his smile. His boyfriend was having trouble, not just with the others but in bed with Simon too. Simon couldn’t put himself through another night of disappointment, awaiting anxiously for John’s body to respond to his touches, for the coke to let John respond to him.

 

Not tonight, Simon’s mind whispered. Tomorrow, it sang but Simon knew John would be fighting to make it through another day: too highly strung.

 

Eventually, he forced himself into a slumber, dreaming only of his beloved bass god who was riding the sensation Simon willed himself to believe that John still could.

 

***

Another week had passed and finally, finally they managed to have some times to themselves. Each band member stayed away from the studio, with Roger and Andy rocking out in the room one night, leaving Nick so he could call his girl and stay on the phone for hours.

 

Simon and John lay sweaty, panting, the singer’s hardness brushing up against the bassist’s cut hip.

 

“Again, seriously?” John chuckled, glancing down at the sly look that painted Simon’s face.

 

“How’s about it, huh?” He winked, as he scrambled above John, his lips hovering mere inches from John’s parted ones.

 

He craned his neck and shook his bangs out of his face, letting his piercing brown eyes focus on Simon’s striking blue ones. And then they were kissing, mouths moulding hot and heavy as saliva was shared and moans were dropped.

 

“Please, Simon.” It came out near breathless.

 

With that Simon roughly ground their hips together, itching to get closer, for John to feel his presence all around him. Simon’s hand plummeted to grip hold of John’s semi and slowly began to revive him.

 

“How are you feeling today, baby?”

 

He was met by a breathless ‘what?’ as John’s head lolled back into the pillows.

 

John hadn’t spoken much about his health. He hated, with a passion, when anyone dared to call him up on it. The dizzy spells, the mood swings. It all seemed to be typical John, some how, not that Simon really wanted to admit it to his face.

 

“You, John. You sweet little idiot Taylor, you.” Simon chuckled, half heartedly.

 

“Fine..” A moan was ripped from John’s throat as his member pulsed in Simon’s grasp. “F-fuck, yeah.”

 

Simon wasn’t convinced. He let go of John and rolled off of him, ignoring the whine that the lack of contact had caused.

 

John rose up onto his forearms, eyes searching for the warmth in those beady blues. He only saw the cold that had frosted over them. Without breaking eye-contact, John’s arm shot south and clasped around himself, tugging with a light touch. His lips were parted and his breaths were coming short and quick.

 

It was then he realised why Simon had turned away. Not again, he thought. Not tonight, he had hoped.

 

Reluctantly he let his near flaccid self go and bought both hands to rest on his bare chest. They lay in silence, John thinking he could almost hear the pulsing of Simon’s cock instead of his heartbeat. Without word he watched as for what was now the third night in a row after the odd night here and there if the same fashion: Simon had simply risen and was fumbling about with his leathers.

 

Within moments he was headed for the door, blue eyes fixating themselves on the dresser. On the white powder that littered it. How could he have missed it on is way in?

 

“You’re going to kill yourself with that one day.” He muttered, not even sure he had been heard. The door didn’t slam but it wasn’t exactly closed either.

 

“Wanker.” John groaned to himself, his rush beginning to wear off. After unceremoniously flipping off the now locked door he clambered over to his dresser, to his reflection in the mirror.

 

His eyes were wide, his hair was ruffled. He felt the sudden craving for a cigarette and pawed deep into the drawer. He was faced with two beauties: the nicotine and the cocaine, staring at him in the face, laughing and beckoning him to them.


Hold Back The Rain, huh?” He scoffed.

 

Wordlessly, he lit the cigarette and took a deep drag. Letting it go he moaned, head lolling back and a sudden wave or relief crashed over him. The cocaine could wait a few more minutes.

Chapter Text

The following night the group met. They crammed themselves into Nick’s room with two of the three Taylor’s taking up his king size bed. Nick himself was in the bathroom, evening up his eyeliner. John was sure he could do so in his sleep and was quite surprised to see his best friend even using the mirror at all, he was a pro at this.

 

“Nigel, what are you staring at?” Nick called to him over his shoulder.

 

John stood in the doorway to the connected bathroom, leaning heavily against the frame. He had to duck his head as, of course, he would’ve hit it if he employed his full height.

 

He took the two strides over to Nick and stood behind him, both men staring at themselves in the mirror.

 

“Nigel?”

 

“Remember when we used to do this? You teaching me how to apply that stuff?” He grinned, reaching for the wayward eye pencil before it rolled off of the sink.

 

“Yeah” Nick smiled, “yeah, I do. The mascara too. You’d always nearly poke your eyes out with that.”

 

John chuckled, clutching at his stomach which he could’ve sworn just flipped. He shrugged it off and steadied himself, clasping a huge hand on Nick’s shoulder. Together they stood as John traced the outer corner of his eyes, taking the deep breath he now knew helped to steady his hand and applied the colour. He drew a lovely line and turned to Nick who rolled his eyes and snatched the eye pencil from him.

 

“Hold still now.”

 

John ducked his head down but kept his eyes averted as the eye pencil bought out the best in his already striking gaze.

 

“Blush, for old time sake?” Nick sniggered, handing it to John who had miraculously produced a brush from nowhere.

 

“What kind of a new romantic would I be if I declined?”

 

“A gay man failing to be a new romantic in 1984, Johnny.”

 

He winked. “Fuck off.” Nick just rolled his green eyes. “Still a bunch of fairies huh?”

 

“I guess that came true. For one of us. I wonder which one?” Nick bought a hand up to his chin and schooled his beautiful face into a quizzical, teasing expression.

 

John was virtually cackling, feeling both victimised and adored all at the same time.

 

“Oh Nicholas, where would I be without you?”

 

“Probably best I don’t answer that Johnny.” He winked, as he removed himself from John’s embrace and headed back to the crowd.

 

“Christ, where would I be?” John asked no one in particular, staring down his newly made-up figure in the huge hotel en suite mirror. He glanced down at Nick’s abandoned make-up stash knowing it had to be here somewhere: his once beloved lipgloss. Nick was bound to have kept it, for sentimentality if anything: he was just that kind of a guy; the light John needed in his life.

 

He couldn’t suppress the grin when he found the shade he so desired.

 

“Some things don’t change, huh?”

 

He startled, over-lining his bottom lip with the dusty pink. John pivoted to see Andy’s bemused and what appeared to be slightly intoxicated guise.

 

“Nope, guess not.”

 

“Fucking fag.” Andy laughed and John, goddamnit, just had to join in. “Let me get that for you.”

 

John’s brows furrowed in confusion for a second until he realised that Andy was searching through Nick’s stash for a wipe or makeup remover. Something. If Andy had learnt anything from Nick since ‘79, he would fetch John a cotton bud or the makeup guru for a quick fix himself.

 

John took the cotton bud and raised it to his lips. “Thanks, man.”

 

He noticed that Andy was still staring, intently. It didn’t unnerve him as such but he couldn’t help feel a little self conscious. He knew where Andy was looking and it wasn’t at the pink tinge of his soft lips. It was fixed on his face, the newfound puffiness in his cheeks that the blush must have highlighted rather than have concealed.

 

Always one to just say it as it is, Andy began “so, why are you here and not out there in the arms of him?”

 

Him. Simon. John just shrugged, ruffling then smoothing out the gell in his hair.

 

“You guys have a fight or something? You haven’t snogged him senseless in a while and you barely talk now, it feels weird not gagging every-time we see your tongues meet.” His tone was light, John forced a smile that didn’t stretch itself very far.

 

“Honestly I, I don’t know. Nothing feels..” He paused, turning back to the mirror. His head felt heavy, spinning, his knees wanted to buckle and let his suddenly clammy body fall to the floor. “Andy, I-“

 

He tried to steady himself, clutching tight to the sink. Andy’s hands were already around him.

 

“Let’s head back to my room, John. We need to talk.”

 

John nodded and tore himself away from the sink. He caught Simon’s eye on the way out and couldn’t tell whether he had smiled or grimaced at the, if anything, slightly nostalgic look. Minus the flaming red hair John once flaunted with pride. Andy was shepherding him out of the door but it didn’t stop him eyeing Simon a final time before the door slammed behind them.

 

Moments later they were laying on Andy’s bed with John on his back and his hands behind his head. Andy looked down to him and John could see it. A difference, a change. It was coming, coming faster than he could say ‘Rum Runner.’

 

“I don’t know how much more of this I can do, mate.”

 

“Whatd’ya mean? Is it something with Tracey?”

 

Andy, impossibly, looked guilty. John had never seen such a look.

 

“Have you got any—“ before John could finish his sentence Andy pushed a small bag into his hands and John’s tired eyes suddenly perked up at the familiar exhilaration staring him in the face.

 

Together they snorted a couple lines and then, the words were pouring out faster than either could handle.

 

Andy associated the situation as John didn’t feel the same, he was restless, his boredom was taking its toll. John, on the other hand, could see that Andy felt boxed in, his creativity was having to take a back seat.

 

“We need a break. From.. this.” John stated, fumbling around in his pockets for a cigarette. “And soon.”

 

Andy barked out a laugh. “Yeah we do. I’m a guitar player, let me fucking play my riffs and shit!”

 

John knew exactly what he was referring too. He too felt that sometimes, more often than not, the guitarists in the group were buried too deep behind the synths and the vocals. They were New Romantics sure but, that was 1981. Times and the music scene was changing.

 

“Like a fucking power station, man!” Andy stated as John took another drag.

 

Somehow by 5am, when Andy’s head hit the pillow and he was pretty much dead to the world, they had decided on a side project. It would take place far from London, from the others and finally, finally they could rock out. Have a change, expand and explore. They wouldn’t have to sit dumbfounded and try to decode every Le Bon diatribe or be confused and even a little repulsed by Rhodes most avant guard looks and ideas. Sure they loved what they had achieved so far and Christ, neither could forget the rush that the past five years had given them.

 

Perhaps Roger would even be down for the project also. John had all night and the following morning to ponder his next move: getting away and starting afresh.

 

***

The headaches, the tiredness and the nausea had grown so frequent that, after Nick’s endless pleas, John finally agreed to go to a doctor. A doctor who was low-key, who would keep any and all rock-star diagnosis’ mute from the press. Or, one who take the bribe and keep his big mouth shut.

 

John took in his words, he was mostly sober and coherent by this point. They flung about his head, merciless, the sounds echoing off of the walls as though his piercing bass notes were knocking about his aching brain. The tempo increased, the percussion reaching crescendo when finally it hit him; hit home.

 

He was pregnant. Carrying a rock-star’s child. As a superstar himself at the peak of his career, aged only twenty-four.

 

He screamed his throat raw.

Chapter Text

Near as soon as the band had landed back at Heathrow, John was on the road. Cursing, he was caught in a huge backlog on the good ole M42 which added an extra forty-five minutes back to Birmingham. Back to Hollywood: to John’s Catholic parents and to his childhood bedroom which he hadn’t disgraced with his face in near a year. He couldn’t face the lonesome nights in his London flat in his current, perplexed state. At least back with Jack and Jean he may be able to get some peace but he was content that he wouldn’t be wasting his nights deeply submerged into his conflicted subconscious.

 

Nick and Roger had hugged him goodbye, he’d received a clap on the shoulder and a wink from Andy that went unnoticed by all others but spoke volumes of promise and excitement to him. However Simon just turned away, suitcases in hand. John kept up appearances, yelling bye to him as Simon too did the same, pivoting on his heel to face the bassist for a tenth of a second.

 

John strutted straight through Arrivals barely keeping the bile in his throat at bay.

 

The entire drive down he contemplated back and fourth and back and fourth whether to tell his parents. To tell them about Simon, the doctor, how it appeared the band was hanging by a thread. How he had felt that he was the instigator of it all. That and he knew, Simon thought the same.

 

He slammed his brakes, his slick black and red pinstripe Volvo screeching as he bought her to an anything but graceful halt. John was thankful that for once he wasn’t returning in the dead of night to awaken Simon Road: he’s back. The rockstar has returned, be thankful for this gracious return as he put you on the map, motherfuckers. He wasn’t so thankful to be returning to his bastard neighbours that still grated on his last nerve.

 

The last time John had been to Simon Road- huh, Simon, well isn’t that a trick of fate, John’s mind scoffed- was Christmas ’83. It had been memorable for his parents and indeed himself. He had walked into his front room and their beaming faces before being led to four gigantic sacks of fan mail, letters, interviews, requests and underwear. Always the most erotic underwear, worn and disgraced.

 

He momentarily eyed the sacks in his garage and within moments, in a blind fit of rage, he was tearing through them, yelling, sweating, tossing all the love for Duran Duran and the most fanciable male on the planet out and shoving it in his mother’s horrified face. Within hours he was back on a plane with a cocktail in hand, cigarette in the other. He told himself that this time, November 1984, that couldn’t happen. He was here and was here to stay. It was his home after all, right?

 

***

He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t bear the look of disappointment that was sure to possess his mother’s  face and bring down the surprisingly easy mood. John was thankful that the events of last Christmas went unspoken.

 

Bar. Bar sounded good. Roger. Roger sounded like perfection. But he can’t go to the bar, he shouldn’t be drinking. On some strange and absurd level, John had convinced himself to try and remain sober through July, in which he was due. The end of July 1985. Christ, that was forever away and a man like John was living for his nights, his wild rides, the rush and the thrill.

 

It was only nine months. He could do this. The drugs on the other hand, he wasn’t so convinced.

 

Roger, he was reminded, sounded the absolute way to go. Gloucester wasn’t a million miles away; they could meet in the middle. He plonked himself down on his worn in sofa, telephone in hand. Wrapping his long fingers around the chord, he awaited the familiar soothing voice of his drummer to knock some sense into him.

 

***

Gloucester was only an hour from Birmingham on a good day. They’d arranged to meet at what was now Roger’s local pub.

 

Roger took a single glance at John, waving him over. John’s walk was slow and unsure, miles away from the self assured strut Roger had come to know and love. It took perhaps five minutes for Roger to call him on his bullshit.

 

“Budweiser? Or are you heading straight to the heavy stuff?”

 

John hesitated before stammering out something vaguely resembling ‘no thanks, I’d rather just watch you.’ Roger just cocked an eyebrow.  

 

“John, man, what’s wrong? You’d never refuse a drink, especially with me.”

 

“I know, I’m just.. I, I’m a little under the weather I suppose.”

 

“Again?”

 

John nodded, sagely. He fumbled for the cigarettes he knew were burning an aching hole in his inner jacket pocket.

 

“Johnny, tell me, why am I here?”

 

“It’s been too long, Rog.” He barked, grin forced and fake.

 

Roger smiled his full and beautiful smile, eyeing John with a sideways glance.

 

“John.” He insisted.

 

They talked about well, pretty much everything. From their time together in the Rum Runner: working as waiters and failing miserably at making cocktails to all the late night jamming together; just percussion, trying to hammer out track after track.

 

The band’s success, the tours, some backstage shenanigans and then there was a lull. They both purposefully seemed to have agreed to avoid the last year. A break from touring, having a film soundtrack pitched to them and then fallen through, Arena… nothing.

 

John couldn’t be mad, it was impossible. Roger was the most humble and down to earth man he had ever had the fortune of meeting. If there was anyone he could reveal his innermost secret with, who he wasn’t completely terrified of letting down as he was with Nick, it would be Roger. His rock. His rock between multiple incredibly hard places.

 

He swallowed his pride, focused his chocolate brown eyes on Roger’s own and let out “I’m pregnant” in a quivering, barely audible breath.

 

Roger dropped his cigarette into his pint.

 

His eyes were wide, his mouth hung open. John had never felt more scrutinised, his cheeks a flame and he stared down at his leather- clad lap. Roger knew there was nothing of any interest there.

 

“John, are you—“

 

“—Yeah, Rog. It’s true.”

 

They sat in silence for what felt like an eternity until Roger stated that he needed another drink: anything to try and understand this.

 

Returning with a second pint and determined to keep his second cigarette alight, Roger sat back down and looked at John as he bit his bottom lip, kept his eyes down and hands fumbling in his lap.

 

“Johnny, I,” He hesitated, taking in a breath, “How long have you known?”

 

“Only a week.”

 

“How far along are you?”

 

John raised his eyes, bringing his hand to his lips to bite a cuticle: the ultimate tell that he was nervous. “Just.. under a month.”

 

“A month?!”

 

Roger was perfectly calm. He radiates warmth and re-assurance. He asked whether it was Simon’s in which John’s face momentarily blanked. Then, without warning, John burst into tears.

 

Roger had never seen such an awful sight. He had cried in front of John before and sure, John had emptied his soul to him too but this, he had no context for this.

 

“It all makes sense now.”

 

John took a shaky drag of his cigarette, coughing as the nicotine burned his throat.

 

“What does?” It was a mere whisper.

 

Roger licked his lips, bringing both hands to rest atop of the table. “You and Simon… the distancing. Wow.”

 

It seemed to hit them both like a freight train. He was pregnant. A new life was growing, John had his own rocker son or daughter on the way.

 

“Does he know?” The forbidden question.

 

John’s teary eyes said it all.

 

“He doesn’t.” Roger confirmed. “Don’t you want him too?”

 

“I don’t.. I” He paused, looked up to the ceiling and engulfed a huge and shaky breath, choking out a sob, “I.. help.”

 

“John, what can I—“

 

“—Just help me.”

 

Roger shot an arm forward, enclosing his nimble fingers around the bassist’s clammy ones.

 

“I need.. need too” he sobbed, full of shame, “Rog, fuck.. I need to get away.”

 

John gulped, thick. He hastily wiped the tears from his cheeks, not that they stopped forming.

 

“John, please don’t hate me for this but, Christ, do you” Roger stuttered as John gripped onto him tighter and tighter, “Do you want this baby? Can you—“

 

The words rolled off of his tongue with such a conviction that he scared them both by how badly he wanted this.

 

“Yes.” He took another drag, “Yes, theres nothing I could want more.”

 

Roger was momentarily stunned. Then a huge, beaming grin swept his beautiful face and his eyes sparkled.

 

“I’m with you all the way, John, if you want me.”

 

“I want you, Rog. I, fuck I sound so needy.”

 

“Don’t, John. You have every right to be. It’s okay to be vulnerable and cry.”

 

Emotions were at a high, milking the bassist dry. He agreed to spend the night with Roger and his new bride Giovanna. They had plenty more to discuss.

 

He wasn’t a hundred percent on his little side project, no, his other little side project as such yet but with Roger’s support he hoped, prayed, that at least one would turn out okay. The one involving his fingers plucking at his bass strings until they bled. That one was bound to bring him some happiness, some familiarity.

Chapter Text

The non drinking, non smoking Bass God stint lasted a mere three weeks but John had his reasons: he had to keep up appearances. All the high class parties, the women flocking to his table, the top ups, the high pitched giggles and the bleach blonde highlights were a sea of chaos. The endless men that caught his wandering eyes.

 

His morning sickness was still severe. He never picked up anyone nor, could he let himself be lured in by the endless tempters. John couldn’t bear the thought, his conquest awaking to see him in his state, panting and disheveled. The press were on his case enough about his next bird, never mind his next lad.

 

Finding solace in his stark white, slick bass guitar; many of the nights that had once been in the grasp of his beloved singer now consisted of a single, melancholy strum of Planet Earth, a muted Rio who John was sure he was no longer dancing on the sand with, Like The Wolf inside him was no longer Hungry and whatever the hell Reflexes he may or may not have been able to hold back.

 

John avoided Hold Back The Rain at all costs.

 

He lay curled up in a crunched ball, all six feet and one inch of him cramped into his childhood bed. John couldn’t lie to himself, he’d debated back and fourth on calling Simon, setting up a time and place to just listen. To immerse himself in the mythical poetry, letting himself get lost in the mystical vocals.

 

He craved the hot and tender touches that ignited flames of blue and silver, singing across his heated skin.

 

Before he knew it, his thoughts had wandered far enough that so had his digits. Creeping lower, deeper, he caressed the newfound stretches of skin and sore nipples. His dexterous fingers plunged further south to his aching member which pulsed mercilessly in his light touch.  He didn’t have to do much, already fisting at himself as the images grew clear and wild. Wild and tormenting.

 

A beautifully tanned body blanketing his own pale and slender form, the mixture of sweat and saliva, the gentle rocking of hips turning ruthless, animalistic. A perfect scale of moans to accompany the perfect bassline.

 

His pants became louder, his head lolling back into his pillows. The quivering of his perfectly plush bottom lip turned bloody as he bit it. His moans, deep and guttural, were torn from him as his pulse raged from adagio to andante, to allegro and vivace. Then, his violent crescendo left him speechless, basking in the slick that coated his quivering fingers.

 

Simon.” He choked out, with a lustful groan.


***

It was perhaps one of the hardest things he’d ever had to reveal.

 

John had recited the words over and over, mentally preparing himself for the loss that would burn in Simon’s baby blue eyes and for the dismay to caress Nick’s ruby painted lips. He still wasn’t sure where Roger stood but having known him long enough, John was well aware that the split had to be hard on him.

 

Roger didn’t have a clear side, he’d never side. It just wasn’t a part of the drummer’s easy going yet democratic nature. He was loyal to John and to the rest of the band: always had been and, John prayed, hopefully always would be.

 

But for now he had Andy. Plus a one way ticket to New York.

 

The revelation hadn’t ran smoothly. A band meeting was called with John stumbling out the details: sharing the spotlight; the creative indifference and an aching to explore and expand… as a musician.

 

He couldn’t look Simon in the eye the entire confession. He clutched tight to his flowing, oversized black coat; being sure to keep it firmly wrapped around him at all times.

 

As his Volvo screeched out of the car park he ran the screaming match through his mind, desperately trying to rewind to the moment John’s bombshell had hit them.

 

Whatever happened, from here on out, the Fab Five would never be the same as the dynamic skewed to run at its own tempo. Did he feel guilty? Absolutely. But could he be the only soul to blame? Absolutely not.

 

It would only be one single anyway, that was the idea. This wasn’t a goodbye but as the December flurries beat down on him and he trudged his way back up the drive, already packed, John was itching to be whisked away.

 

To whisk he and Andy away. John, Andy and John’s baby away.  

 

His stomach churned, he grinned wide with excitement. This was it, his moment. 

John had a final doctors appointment in Birmingham. He stammered out a plea that Roger go with him, as blood was taken and vitals were checked. Not that John would admit it out loud but he still had a slight needle phobia. It was either that or he just craved the reassurance that he was still doing the right thing.

 

Roger’s hand resting atop of his as another tube was filled told him everything he needed to know.

 

***

Recording for The Power Station had so far ran alarmingly well. The supergroup had smashed track after track; the Taylor boys having perfectly gelled with Robert and Tony.

 

Although John had been so hopeful, he hung to Roger’s every word and couldn’t help but stifle the tears that were already forming incase he was rejected. He cursed his raging hormones.

 

Yes.”

 

Happy tears fell. John leapt into the air, almost decking Andy as he crashed through the door.

 

“Is he in?” Andy whispered.

 

“Yes? Froggy, y-you mean it, you’ll..”

 

None of the three Taylors could hide their excitement.

 

“Call me that again and I’ll bail out right now.” Roger joked, poorly conveying any real sense of irritation.

 

John gave Andy the brightest smile and an energetic thumbs up who, in turn, fist pumped the air with a kinetic energy far surpassing John’s own.

 

Roger would be able to record with them after New Years, he was adamant to spend Christmas with Giovanna. Just the thought of at least one out of the three Taylors having a perfect family Christmas made John’s heart clenched. He made a mental note: call mother and let her know how well this is going.

 

“Three Taylors are better than two, you know that.”

 

The line began to fade. John just about heard: “Still cocky, aren’t we Johnny?”

 

John was beaming, the notion of the reunion running wild through his veins.

 

Roger heard him exhale. “Go easy on the cigs, mate.”

 

He took a final drag of his cigarette.

 

“Yes, ma’am.”

 

“Wanker.” Roger scoffed as John chuckled.

 

“That too.”

 

John put the phone down then strutted on down to the recording studio. He had a glimmer of hope, the reassurance that this split was going to work: they had a purpose.

 

Roger would surely make the record, even if he’d only agreed to make John happy. It would be worth it. Roger was the final piece, the desired piece to John’s already near complete puzzle.


***

 

The festive air was still fresh as he bid farewell to 1984. John took a moment to reflect then forced it out of his memory. A man like John always looked forward, anxiously awaiting the thrill. He couldn’t bear to glance back and disappoint himself.

 

The Power Station had been three years in the making. A mere want then a craving, a temptation and finally his dream was coming to fruition. He had power, they all did. It was about time he could call the shots without worrying about his image; exotic locations and sharing the spotlight five ways.

 

He’d be sharing it four which, he couldn’t be more excited to do so.

 

“It’s bloody great, man!” Andy clapped his shoulder as John leant forward, hovering over the sound deck. “Blast it!”

 

“All the way?” John winked, already sure of the answer.

 

“All the fuckin’ way.”

 

The guitars roared, the vocals slick and pristine. The bass, damn, the bassline could seduce any listener with it’s thumping beat penetrating deep: leaving it’s mark.

 

“I told you it was a good call.”

 

“No, Johnny, you didn’t tell me. You’ve been on about this since ’82. Always got a hard on for T-Rex, huh?” Never the suave one, Andy waggled his eyebrows and neither man could suppress a grin.

 

Together they sat, John’s feet propped up on the deck, beers in hand and cigarette smoke filling the air. John felt choked, a strange wave of nausea hitting him right out of left field. He took in breath after breath, wavering, to steady himself.

 

Andy cocked an eyebrow as he rose from his seat, yanking the bottle from John’s clammy touch as though he feared John would drop it or throw it without warning.

 

“John.” He croaked out after taking a drag, “The hell is this? You’ve been stalking about, lookin’ like you’re about to fall flat on that pretty face for weeks now. What’s wrong?”

 

John kept his eyes down, his lips were parted and moving but he couldn’t form any sound. If he did, it was surely a frustrated groan but he wasn’t angry.

 

“Just some.. bad coke.” Turns out his reflexes weren’t completely attacked, he was already fumbling in his pockets for his little bag of powdered revival.

 

“Bullshit.”

 

John fished out the bag and set it atop of the table in front of him, hands already jerking in anticipation. Next came the straw. He nodded to Andy who readily declined, with a raised eyebrow and a pout.

 

Oh well, more for this Taylor then.

 

 “John? You can’t avoid whatever this is forever, man. Don’t run.”

 

The worry in Andy’s voice, or was it sympathy, was a complete foreign concept to him and judging by Andy’s hasty delivery: the concern was new to him too.

 

John dodged the question, repeatedly. He barked back line after line, stalling for a smoke, before finally he upped to meet Andy on the sofa. He let slip a small moan as his suddenly heavy body sank into the plush leather.

 

“For Christ’s sake, Tigger.”

 

“You haven’t called me that in a long time.” John stated, a touch of nostalgia in his voice as he chopped another fine white line.

 

They weren’t arguing but the raise in both voices was unmistakable. Just two friends hashing it out but John was done. He wouldn’t fight. He never had been much of a fighter: hiding his fear behind thick rimmed glasses or not; it was immature and Andy could clearly knock him out within three punches, or more likely, maybe only with one.

 

“John, for the last freaking time, please just tell me what the fuck is—“

 

Andy probably wouldn’t even notice. John could be hobbling around approaching eight months, the sight of his feet long forgotten and perhaps only then Andy would recognise something was amiss.


He was done with his game. The cocaine soared through his veins yet John felt anything but a high. It was time to crash.

 

“—I’m pregnant.”

 

John snorted the second line.

 

“Due in, uh” His head jerked, bringing a hand to hastily rub his nose, “July.”

 

The thick vapour swirled without mercy around John’s queasy form, threatening to choke him. Threatening to pull him from the sofa and throw him into the wall: so the smoke could forcefully bang every vulnerability out from his conflicted mind.

 

“Sweet. Fucking. Christ.” Andy downed the bottle in one. “Bloody hell.” His voice died off as he chuckled, content on understanding.

 

John felt sick. He was ready to void his guts and, knowing Andy that the mere prospect of him throwing up would just encourage him to laugh harder, he fought with determination to steady his stomach. He threw his head back, hitting the wall to stare aimlessly at the ceiling. John hissed as the light caught his tired eyes before plinking his deft hand up in front of them. Not now.

 

It was far too late until he realised. The tears were rolling down his cheeks, his chest was rising and falling with uneven heaves. Andy was staring at him, intently, as though he wanted to hug him. Wordlessly, John flung his huge body into Andy’s short but supportive, open frame. It wasn’t the first time in the six years they’d spent together that he had broken down in Andy’s arms. However this time it was different: a whole new rush of intense emotion. All of John’s walls and guards were stripped down and he cried, shameful, into the chains on Andy’s leather coated shoulder.

 

Andy just held him. For once his common sense prevailed hushing John and clutching him tighter. It was incredibly uncharacteristic for the both of them but for John, Andy decided, he’d be there. He was here with him now, far from any of the more open support he knew John deserved. Far from Nick and Roger. Far from, well, the man Andy was adamant in his mind, who should be here consoling John. The man who should be smoothing the damp hair that had fallen into his eyes and brushing his perfectly plush lips over the wayward tear tracks.

 

John was thankful he didn’t ask. It went unspoken between the two that John was keeping Simon in the dark. The reasons for John to run to New York and form all these connections were endless and had seemed a little rushed at first but finally, finally it was all starting to sink in to the guitarist.

 

“Hey, hey Tigger.” He began, voice hovering above a whisper.

 

“Fuck, I.. I ugh.” John couldn’t look him in the eye, the fear of having disappointed and appalled him pulsing through John’s drug craving veins. “I’ve never bloody cried.. so damn much.. Ands, I’m sorry.”

 

His breath was caught in his throat as John felt a calloused, string beaten hand land on his chin and angle his head upwards. Their eyes met: sorry for what, you loveable, bumbling idiot?

 

“For getting knocked up? You should be apologising to Simon’s cheque book.” Andy winked and John’s lips quirked, a smile tugging at them.

 

Within moments, the air had cleared, the smoke seemed anything but stale. John could breathe again.

 

“Do Robert and Tony know?”

 

John shook his head.

 

“Do you want to tell them?”

 

He hesitated. “Eventually yeah, if anything they’ll see the bump and be on me non-stop.” He laughed, the interrogation scene being pieced together in his mind.

 

“Alright, man.” The thick northern accent hang in the air. “Whenever you’re ready. I’ll be waitin’.”

 

John smiled broadly, baring his adorable over bite and momentarily threw his back as his laughter flowed free. He could stop hiding the weight, shoving his much too long for his liking fringe in his face to cover the lack of glass-slicing cheekbones. He didn’t have to excuse the tiresome eyes; the odd refusal of a drink.

 

It was Andy for Christ’s sake. He could never not love him. He just prayed to the divinity he was sure would turn him away at heavens door, that Andy kept quiet. He was a self proclaimed blabber mouth but the look in those eyes spoke volumes: he’d be keeping this secret and he’d give John no reason not to trust him.

 

“Wanna spin it again?”

 

John was already halfway to the sound deck. He took his seat and jacked up the volume entirely: the two men banging their heads to Get It On and its booming drumbeat.

 

Murderess is next, I can feel it in my bones, Ands.”

 

“Whatever you say, boss.” He stretched out the final syllable, provoking a laugh from John. A laugh he hadn’t graced the world with in a long time before Just moments ago: long and hearty.

 

John had already spilled his guts anyway. There was no turning back now. Besides, he had a record to finish; a reputation to uphold. He had a bass that he longed to touch.

Chapter Text

Chains clinked, heads throbbed, pulses ran hotter as the lights went down. Metal clashed, restraints latched tight. The drums pounded and the synths screamed: penetrating his disturbed soul to a dangerous, perverse and homoerotic corruption: Reckless and so hungered.

 

The water filled his ears, also, drowning every last feeing to a numbness so foreign and frightening as he saw it: the wheel, the body. Bound, tightly wound. The victim was plunged into the murky black, held hostage to the vile crashing of the roaring waves.

 

The screams of pure horror, the gasps of disbelief. The sounds raw, sneaking up on him, cornering him, signalling him out as helpless, useless. The shame pounced, pounced like a tiger.

 

His subconscious weld him to the Volvo and kept him there. Bloodshot eyes were wide and fixed to the screen, barely able to tear themselves away.

 

The struggle, the victim slipping further into the deep. He could hear the men jumping in after him, diving with reckless abandon to free the shackles of the wheel’s vice-like grip.

 

John held on for dear life, tears streaming as a limp, pale, lifeless figure breeched the surface; his metal chest plate ripped and discarded. Hair skewed, jaw slack.

 

John screamed his throat raw finally thrashing himself free from his nightmare. Panting, he scanned his damp sheets as an unbearable fever submerged him; leaving him  winded, quivering, aching to be touched.

 

For Simon’s torturous, delectable touch.

 

***

That night had passed in a blur. A vodka fuelled, coke reinforced blur. John somehow, in a place he couldn’t name, had encountered one of his biggest idols. The man responsible for so many films he’d lost himself in: whether it be the suave 007 on the hunt for his next prize or, for to be the lucky bird who’d be swept off of her feet.

 

John honestly wouldn’t have minded either of those positions. He was ready to admit that the thought of such power and such submission were both incredibly arousing. He liked his art a little perverse, why try to hide it?

 

He was on the phone to Roger the following morning, the sweats having finally worn off.

 

“We’re doing it.”

 

A long pause, “What?”

 

“I think, we’ve got it, Rog. The next Bond theme!” He couldn’t hide his thrill. It was a childhood dream, or it probably would’ve been if he had picked up a bass before turning seventeen.

 

Another long and excruciating pause from the Gloucester end of the line: “What are you talking about?”

 

“No more shitty Bond themes. It’s our turn.”

 

Roger couldn’t hide his skepticism nor could he completely mask his excitement.

 

“What did you do?”

 

His words flowed quick but he didn’t stumble, retelling the events with the notorious Cubby Brocolli. When’s there gon’ be a Bond theme that don’t suck ass? Would you like to write that theme, John, that don’t suck? Wait what, let me pick my jaw up off of the floor... YES, y-yes, sir, yes!

 

Although it pained John dearly, the boys had to reunite. Such an opportunity was a once in a lifetime honour. This was it, the comeback.

 

“You and me, Rog. Get your ass down here so we can try and hammer out something for…” He paused for unnecessary dramatic effect knowing full well that Roger was rolling his eyes, “A View To A Kill.”

 

Neither man could hold back their laughter.

 

“The hell kind of a name is that?!” Roger stated, clutching at his chest with mirth.

 

“Beats me but hey, we’re doing it. It’s set in Paris. I see it now.. us all stalking about the city, you drumming atop the Arc De Triomphe, Nick and I roaming countless galleries… Andy a villain up the Eiffel Tower, French guys.. it’s just, it’s perfect.” John’s voice was light, swooning, for the first time in weeks.

 

Roger felt it, not wanting to pull him from his wet French dream too quick but there was a much bigger weight on his mind.

 

“Charlie’s going to have a field day writing for that title. Poor sod.” It was a joke but John didn’t miss the intention: the matter of fact.

 

“Fuck.” He muttered, more into his shoulder than through the phone. “He won’t know what hit him.”

 

“He really won’t. You sure uh,” Roger paused. Always the rock between a multitude of hard places. “You’re okay with this, seeing him for—“

 

He was cut off by a huff, some Brummie sounds that he couldn’t quite decipher and then, John continued.

 

“—For the good of the band. Yes.” He ground out, gearing up for the challenge.

 

Roger’s disbelief was audible through the chord John had nervously wrapped around his fingers.

 

“Whatever. We can do this.” John took another shaky breath, tears somehow forming in his eyes. Goddamn hormones. “We, note my confidence, will do this. Get the first Bond theme to number one.”

 

“Alright a toast too… A View To A— shit, Johnny. What was it again?”

 

Kill.”

 

“Yeah, drink to that.”

Chapter Text

John strutted through the airport, eyes shielded and head down. He thought it funny that nowadays he could, more often than not, just walk through crowded cities without the body guards; without swarms of fans flocking to his torturous honey. Even in New York, for his self proclaimed Cathoholic Mother’s sake. But even with this newfound, he supposed he could call it, freedom- John still knew he had to try and keep as incognito as he could. Heads turning as the lights flashing out are so bright, he found an old voice croon in his mind. However, that didn’t mean that in the here and now, he would stop to perfect his pose.

 

He was at JFK, amongst hundreds in the midst of the evening hustle and bustle. Roger’s flight had been delayed near four hours- fucking snow on the ground and Gatwick never being able to clear it efficiently, assholes- and he cursed, slumping into a quieter corner of Arrivals. John fumbled for his bag, pulling out his diary and pencil. He had never been much of a lyricist himself but when an idea struck, he had to run with it. He was always more of a journalist, documenting his days stuck in the crummy Citroên running up and down the country then doing the same in a lavish tour bus.

 

Satisfied with a few notes that he had added to his so-called ‘Victor Hugo set list’ he put down his diary and waited. With a flick of his wrist, he noticed that it was approaching 20:00 hours and it was a long night without his little helpers, to sit through.

 

John yawned, wide, and stretched his arms up above his head.

 

“Oh fuck.”

 

Maybe he had missed the recent lull in press coverage but that didn’t mean he was ready to whore himself, or the life growing inside of him, out to… whatever teeny-bop magazine had just remembered that his face made them and their brand identity.

 

John’s shielded gaze raised, anything but willingly, and his mouth dropped open, anything but reluctantly. He roamed the figure; lean yet lightly muscled who was decked out in a lovely mid to high end priced grey pinstripe jacket, with shoulder pads so high it screamed that he wasn’t to be ignored. He wore delectable leather trousers that, John noted, he himself had once owned with his favourite shaped studs running down the sides of those scarily long legs.

 

John’s eyes traced every lump and bump; the tight-fitting leather leaving little to nothing to his already vivid imagination. He felt his mouth water before suddenly turning dry as his own beautiful chocolate brown eyes landed on some even more, impossibly, stunning blue ones. They gleamed, catching the light as the man smiled: his dimples were the most adorable sight John had ever been privy too.

 

He was blonde. His hair was spiked, frosted tips appeared to glow like a halo. His jaw was set, perfectly cut, and his lips were parted: dripping in sex. The man flashed John a toothpaste advert ready grin and impossibly: he melted.

 


Without thinking, or anything coherent forming in his head, John motioned the man to take a seat. He had bags in hand and a cigarette in the other.

 

“Do you mind if I have one of those?” John asked, pointing to the cigarette packet crowning from the man’s left pocket.

 

The figure looked down at himself then back to John’s ever-growing smile. It didn’t quite reach his eyes yet but his confidence was growing, there was time.

 

The man smirked, nimble fingers pulling a cigarette free. He passed it to John and their fingers brushed in that cliché way John had began to notice in the films where both would shiver and automatically an attraction would be formed.

 

He cursed inwardly at the irony. The promise pulsing through him: starting at his finger tips.

 

The man just watched him, knowing full well that John didn’t have a lighter.

 

He chuckled before asking, “Have you a—“

 

The man brandished it and leant forward.

 

“Thought you always carried.”

 

John bit his lip. “Trying to.. cut down.”

 

Their eyes locked, shielded brown on striking blue, as the flame was ignited. Between them, the cigarette sparking as John inhaled. He closed his eyes, with a moan, mere inches from the open and inviting gaze of the mysterious and tempting stranger.

 

“You’re not doing a very good job are you, Mister Taylor?” The man chuckled and John couldn’t ignore his shiver. The sound grew, like a scale, reaching a perfect sound that made John’s chest flutter.

 

Despite himself, John laughed. He threw his head back momentarily than returned his gaze, bringing a hand up to cover his face. He cursed the embarrassment.

 

John knew better: he’d had scores of men, alphas and betas, pull him into their laps: with cigarettes lit and shots downed.

 

For erections to brush his leather restrained own.

 

John snapped from his daydream, the nicotine swirling about his suddenly heavy head. He hadn’t heard what the figure before him had said. His words bled into a rhythm, perfectly crafted, singing volumes of praise and promise: protection and perhaps, friendship. Perhaps, more than a one night stand which John was no longer sure the man so craved.

 

When he could re-engage it became apparent that no, he wasn’t a reporter and no, he wasn’t trying to corner him for any juicy details of the break up- split. The split.

 

“You really are more beautiful than your pictures.” He was British. A Londoner as John could immediately tell, feeling more comfortable.

 

John couldn’t help but blush a little. He was just thankful that his round shades could hide the glimmer in his eyes.

 

“I always thought,” the figure paused to take a drag, aiming the exhale away from John like a true gentleman would do, “they were edited. Chosen only to reflect you in the best light. But now I know that you, John, are dazzling in any and all light.”

 

John clung to every word.

 

He fumbled with a reply, stuttering out a thank you and grinning from ear to ear. Inwardly John cursed his wave of insecurity, he had spent years burying the vulnerabilities that he had once hidden so deep behind the thick rims of those glasses and the thick fringe falling into his eyes. The eyes that gave everything away.

***

Both men moved to the little café, passengers seeming more sparse as night crept on them. He had almost forgotten why he was here, at JFK, in the first place.

 

Oh right, Roger- his mind laughed- Anything for Roger.

 

John just listened, he wasn’t keen on revealing all himself and was incredibly thankful that together they kept the conversation light. The man’s voice was magical, mystical, flowing thick with a slight cockney twinge. He chuckled when the intensified notes bellowed and shivered when the man’s words grew breathy.

 

John had perked up when the man revealed his career: an impressive, alluring pilot. Pilot. He was reminded of the rush he once felt, making models of jets and cars as a child. John would spend hours locked away in his room, working to perfect all the details, ensuring the colours were always as close to the originals as he could get. He was a stickler for the details even then.

 

John admitted, “I had wanted to join when I was younger. But I knew physically, this frame,” he glanced down, pouting, “wouldn’t ever have been able to.. uh, handle it.”

 

John immediately brushed of his vulnerable tone, favouring to steer the conversation away from his childhood dreams. Besides, he’d accomplished his teenage dreams and exceeded far past any and all expectations: he couldn’t complain.

 

”British Airways hiring?”

 

“No, John!” The man was near cackling, “a fighter pilot. I could never fly a chartered airline—“

 

“—Too Slow?” John chipped in, raised eyebrow inching above the circular frame of his darkened glasses.

 

“Precisely. I live for the thrill.”

 

Maybe nowadays he wasn’t as educated about contemporary jets as he was with cars but he still had to ask, “What do you fly?”

 

F-18 Hornets, in the Royal Air Force.”

 

John had to momentarily pause to pick his jaw up off of the floor.


The man kept talking about his job. The highs of flying, going Mach 2, breaking the sound barrier, all the crazy stunts from the Immelmann turns and split S’ that he had fascinated himself with since Primary School. John was suitably in awe as the words, full of hearty laughter, dropped from those lovely lips.

 

They talked for what felt like an eternity, in anything but awkward silence. It was easy, perfect. Just perfect.

 

His huge hands clasped around his peppermint tea, he wouldn’t forget the look on the beautiful stranger’s face when he had ordered. I always figured a rockstar such as yourself would only take it one— —uh, black? He had pitched in and together they both laughed: John’s own chuckles forming a perfect melody with the lower, more guttural below of the man. Yeah, John-can I call you John? Black.

 

Coffee makes me sick these days, he had to stop himself, haven’t the foggiest as to why rang thick in his Brummie tones.

 

The words were flowing, the drinks were long gone. Without warning, a long, dexterous hand shot forward and clutched at John’s face: hovering for a split second before landing on his sunglasses. Both hands slowly, gracefully, peeled them from John’s face and in a tender moment of intimacy John let slip a throaty moan, following the hands as they retreated. His eyes slipped shut and his golden locks fell into his face. John was smiling, small, but it portrayed his understated beauty in all the ways he didn’t feel he could anymore.

 

His face glowed, a dash of embarrassment coating his puffy cheeks.

 

Finally, he pried open his eyes and took in the darkened, hungry look of the baby blues before him. Before he could comprehend it he was leaning in with his hand resting atop another hand, so foreign yet so familiar, pausing mere inches for the lips that parted for him.

 

“I didn’t..” John paused to lick his lips, “even ask you.. you know, your name.”

 

The man grinned, plush lips caressing John’s slight acne ridden skin, “name or callsign?”

 

“Name.” John breathed, wondering immediately if the callsign would’ve helped him to define himself.

 

“Charles.” He whispered, breaths interweaving with the bassist, “It’s too professional for a man such as myself. Friends call me Charlie. Comrades call me Tiger.”

 

Charlie.

 

Tiger.

 

Seven and the Ragged—

 

John’s eyes bugged out of his head, every emotion from fear and disillusionment rushing up to choke him; to pull his long limbs from the table and within moments he was running, bag slung across his shoulder, through the sparse hallways not even bothered about covering himself.

 

He rounded a corner and slipped into the bathroom. His cheeks were wet, tinged red. John couldn’t even remember when he had started crying. Had Charles seen the tears? If he had, why hadn’t the handsome motherfucker laughed?

 

Was John himself even aware of this cruel trick of fate?

 

His head span, the cream walls seemed to close in on him; swirling about his tired mind in colours he was sure were taunting him. They screamed in blinking red and black and red and black. Danger, warning, death. Love.

 

It took all of John’s strength and a sudden group of teenage boys who just gaped at him, from throwing his fist into the mirror and watching, screaming, as his heated reflection burned before his tearful eyes.

 

He stumbled, at first, as a hand clapped his shoulder. The fingers wrapped themselves around him, the weight familiar and re-assuring.

 

“When am I going to meet you without you having tears in your eyes?”

 

John immediately wiped at his face, cursing his hormones before falling into the open and awaiting embrace.

 

“Fuck, Rog. I’m so happy to see you.” He practically threw himself at his drummer, who stated that he was still to wash his hands.

 

“Oh yeah, right.”

 

They disengaged. Roger washed his hands and John studied him: the dark circles, the slump in his shoulders. John stepped back and swore, almost falling over Roger’s luggage that littered the space between them.

 

Then, in a swift and cheeky tone, “I thought you were meant to be waiting for me in arrivals. Not here, for a Taylor reunion in the toilets.”

 

Roger stepped behind John, motioning him towards the sink. John squinted as he took in their silhouettes, the steady hand on his quaking shoulder. Together they surveyed the other, their reflection. Roger’s lip tugged upwards, both knowing that John lacked the conviction to grace him with a beaming smile.

 

Roger didn’t know why but, he knew better than anyone, that if John didn’t want to elaborate he wouldn’t and, if he did, Roger would be the rock for him as always. They were the perfect percussion, sometimes the bassist needed the drummer to guide him: his tempo; his beats.

 

Now resting his chin on John’s shoulder he muttered “we best get to the taxi otherwise I’ll be falling asleep on your shoulder, Johnny.”

 

Roger was met with a little chuckle. “Fans think we are gay enough.”

 

Roger beamed, happiness breaking through to John.

 

“If only they knew how right they were.”


“Yeah, Tigger. If only they knew.” Roger let it linger, shoving his wedding ring in John’s howling face.

Goddamnit, John’s laughter rang through the toilets. To each bewildered onlooker and surprised fan.


***

The two superstar Taylors posed for pictures on their way to the taxis up front, taking a moment to sign anything and everything the fans had on them.

 

John was surprised as to where all these fans had just appeared from, the sounds of a little girl murmuring the infamous why-y-y-y-y, don’t you use it? melting his heart. He found himself performing a duet, taking a hold of her tiny hands and dancing with her; much to Roger’s amusement. That was a definite Simon move.

 

They rocked out, heads banging as Roger and the little girl’s mother cheered them on. John was laughing, hysterical, as she flung her tiny arms around his neck as he crouched down to hug her goodbye. She buried her head in his mullet, brown locks painting her flushed face.

 

”Wow, you’ll make a wonderful father someday.” The mother smiled, thanking John for his time. “Who would’ve thought it?”

 

“Exactly my thoughts, ma’am.” John noted, with a smile meeting her own.

 

The girl yawned, slowly defecting back to her mother’s side to clutch at her leg.

 

“Wouldn’t put him in charge of any meals though,” Roger’s brummie accent pierced the air, “If it was down to John, it would be pizza and chocolate night after night.”

The three adults laughed as the little girl stifled her yawn at the mention of ‘pizza’, suddenly no longer tired.

 

“What can I say, Rog? I’m a sucker for Bourneville.” John winked, the notorious chocolate factory only half an hour from his and Roger’s childhood homes.

 

Cadbury’s all the way.” Roger agreed.

 

John knelt down and hugged her again, silently cursing that he had nothing to offer her of any value on him in the moment. He flashed her another dashing smile and she giggled, beckoning Roger down for a group hug. Her mother readily snapped a picture and bid them farewell.


***
 

Roger heaved his larger suitcase into the boot as John initiated a game of Tetris with the other, failing miserably, as together they tried to fit every bag in. Howling, John slammed the boot and led Roger round the front. He opened the car door and held out a hand to motion him in. Roger just rolled his eyes and clambered inside.

 

“How far to your place?”

 

“About ninety minutes, plus or minus.”

 

Fuck.”

 

“Yup. Welcome to The Power Station, Rog!” John was grinning ear to ear as Roger chewed his bottom lip. Then, he deflated. “Is something wrong?”

 

Roger hesitated. “No, no. It’s nothing. I’m just.. sorry John, I’m too shattered to even think about drumming right now.”

 

John smiled, softer this time. He decided to stay quiet, keeping all his burgeoning thoughts and questions at bay for the ride back. He watched as Roger’s hypnotic eyes began to slip closed before turning away from him, gazing at the midnight through the window. He watched the endless lights and deserted streets, as they grew closer and closer to Times Square.

 

John was more than willing to pick Roger up and carry him in bridal style, for his own amusement, but the sudden pain in his lower back shook him from his daze. Oh yeah, right. Pregnant. Shouldn’t carry heavy shit.

 

He nudged Roger awake, knowing it was nearing seven AM back in England: the man had skipped the night and the initial Jetlag further West was always a bitch no matter how often they flew.

 

“You know I would carry you if—“ He was cut off by Roger’s infectious laughter. “You’re too.. uh, you know, heavy for me, now.”

 

“Heavy?!”

 

“Yeah Rog, you do weigh a bit.”

 

“Asshole, it’s all in the arms.”

 

John sniggered, resisting the urge to reach out and grasp those strong and supportive limbs.

 

Roger immediately saw that was what John wanted to do. He raised an appraising eyebrow before opening his stance again. John fell into step and enveloped his arms around the drummer.

 

“God, I missed you, man.”

 

John didn’t escape the ‘fairy’ that was half laughed into his neck.

 

“Love you too..” He coughed ‘wanker’ into his hand and was met by a shove from Roger.

 

“Just get me to my bed in one piece.”

 

“Now that’s an offer a man simply cannot refuse.” John raised his eyebrow, tone dropping in mock- seduction.

 

Roger cocked his head, laughter falling free. Together they scrambled from his taxi, luggage surrounding them.

 

”Let me.” John grabbed his arm as Roger fumbled for his wallet. John brandished thirty dollars from God knows where with a smile, motioning Roger to his bags.

 

They were faced by a huge sky scraper; the dim of the lights beckoning a sleep- deprived Roger inside. John was thankful that he was never really moody, unlike himself, when the tiredness got the better of him.

 

“Which floor are we.. fuck!” Roger groaned as the realisation, the sudden quirk of John’s lip, told him all he needed to know. “Christ, Johnny. It’s a little far from Birmingham.”

 

“Only a little?” Their laughter intertwined.

 

The Taylors would be wracking up a monster bill in the penthouse. Neither man could hide their excitement.

Chapter Text

He was thankful to have scored a Number 1 after what felt like so long away from the top spot: home. The Christmas Charity single by Band Aid sat firmly at the top of the charts and Do They Know Its Christmas? did indeed play over and over throughout the festive period.


John had seen the video and had come to the realisation that he and his fire engine red self promoting, he always had an outfit relevant to each tour, Duran Duran jumper had been featured more than Simon. Wow, he considered himself a lucky bastard, holding his own amongst the biggest names in the UK industry. He and Andy managed to keep it together, the collaboration was a complete dream and he got to meet (and intimidate) said biggest names in the business. He couldn’t help but snigger knowing Simon was terrified to sing with Sting.

 

The boys kept their distance from Culture Club, of course. Although John admired Boy George’s Make-up from afar: very avant guard. Classic New Romantic. Were Spandau Ballet even there? John couldn't remember. He surely met a Kemp on the way. What he did remember were the high pitched giggles of the Bananarama girls as he chatted them up and Geldof’s face as they finally got some time alone to discuss the cause and crack joke after joke; he really was a swell guy. To say that he wasn’t a little star struck amongst the likes of Paul McCartney and Phil Collins was an understatement. Midge Ure receiving virtually no credit for his efforts was indeed criminal.

 

***

 

The Power Station crew would be ringing in 1985 with a surprisingly small celebration, in terms of scale. For each member though, they were overjoyed. The album had finally come together, Roger’s hypnotic snare beats and tantalising long solos were indeed the final piece to the puzzle.

 

The five of them lay limp with nicotine and tequila swirling about their minds. John, thankfully, had only the former whirling about his body having declined Tony’s offer and was met by an amused raised black eyebrow. John now occupied the sofa, letting his fringe fall into his eyes; his hands behind his head.

 

He pretended not to see the worrisome look painting Roger’s face as he reached for another cigarette.

 

John figured that Andy was keeping Robert and Tony occupied so, at the feeling of being caught in Roger’s headlights, he upped with Roger following him out of the room.

 

“John, you.. uh, I, I think..” Roger began, with a deep breath, “You really need to watch it.”

 

John exhaled, the smoke thick when surrounding them. If anything, it drew him closer into Roger’s space. He was trembling, a shaky hand bringing his cigarette back up to his lips.

 

“How far along are you now?” John turned away, knowing full well that A) Where this conversation was heading and B) Roger probably had a better idea of that than he did.

 

“Two months.”

 

Shit, John surprised himself that he did in fact know how many days ago that breezy November morning was, when he’d found out. That day in the rock doctor’s crummy office, head in his hands before he had smiled what was quite possibly the biggest and least forced smile of his life.

 

“How many have you had?”

 

For a brief moment, whilst he bought himself back to reality, John hesitated.

 

“How many what, Rog?” John replied, feigning innocence. Or to stall for time, trying to mentally total the cigarette total for the final day of 1984.

 

Roger’s eyes narrowed, the sign that his patience was wearing thin and, if John wasn’t careful, he’d be giving in way before Roger did.

 

“John.” He insisted, tone non-negotiable.

 

He heaved out a sigh, bringing his hand to his forehead and rubbing at his eyes. “Oh, I don’t know.. four?”

 

Seven.”

 

John dropped his gaze. He knew full well that death stick number seven was pulsing between his lips.

 

“Don’t you understand what you’re doing? Please John, what you’re doing to yourself.”

 

John was silent, he took another drag. He pretended that killing myself wasn’t his first and only answer.

 

“Of course you fucking don’t. What are you even running from, this time?”

 

John looked up, challenge burning in those intense, brown eyes. His own appeared angelic in comparison.

 

“The addictions? The baby?” Simon didn’t go unheard. “He’s not even here for Christ’s sake Johnny. If he knew, he’d be killing himself day after day when you turn him away to shut him out! Have you even stopped to think about him?” Roger stammered out, voice in a desperate attempt not to hitch too high. To not scare John into a deeper silence.

 

John wanted to blame the tequila that Roger had consumed however, it had only been two shots. This was him, the liquid had only provided a little courage: he was not at all ready for this conversation. Not now.

 

Roger went on an on, telling him, pleading with him: to cut down; to get help. And this, this was only about his smoking.

 

“Why won’t you let any of us bloody in?” Great, Andy. “It’s not fair on ‘im.” He clapped a hand on Roger’s shoulder who stiffened in agreement then, immediately he found his voice.

 

It became heated, fast. The others weren’t oblivious, Andy having joined Roger’s side leaving Robert and Tony to stand between the arguing Taylors without any context of the situation. They didn’t know Roger as well as John did but, hearing an outburst like that wasn’t in his character. It was like saying he would leave Duran Duran for good: the lapse in judgement it was mother fucking unheard of.  

 

The words became distorted, John’s head blurred the yelling into insults, to targeting and finally, the missile that had blown him out of the sky. He was, simply, a sitting duck on their radar.

 

It hadn’t ended well. John’s pulse raged, his hands shook and he couldn’t bite back his words. He too hurled insults, each one delivering a hit to his own pride: it was Roger. And Andy. John would never act as repulsive as this, they were his friends. The best of friends. One’s who had followed him all this way, putting family on hold for him and hisdreams.

 

Sensing his defeat, he huffed out a frustrated groan and stared heavily at the floor.

 

Hold Back The Rain, right? That’s what I’m fucking meant to be doing, isn’t it.” It wasn’t a question.

 

He shoved his hands in his pockets and marched on past the crowd, actions voicing his frustration, heading straight for the lift down. He ignored Andy’s hollers and Robert’s calls of concern, lips sealed tight. John bit back every retort, slamming the button and praying for the lift to arrive sooner. He didn’t turn back, not once.

 

“Fucking assholes.” He grunted.

 

John stumbled through reception, the clock having just past eleven. He slipped past the doors and a full body shiver overtook him, having left his coat inside. Rubbing his hands up and down his arms he picked up his pace, storming straight back towards the hotel. It would be a long walk traipsing through the snow, slipping on the ice as it crunches beneath his boots. Hopefully it would be enough time for the raging fire inside him to be burnt out, or at least, reduce it to a spark.

 

Besides, there’s only fire to blame. Simon had tried to teach him that years ago. No man had gotten very far in thatfight.

 

Along the way he kicked the odd mail box, slid his way across the snow-covered roads and gave an unceremonious middle finger to the taxi that had almost hit him. Then again, this time shoving two beautiful fingers up as another taxi sped around a corner and he hadn’t moved.

 

John was wrong, he couldn’t be any more wrong about his current, perplexed state. Running high on nicotine and fury, fury that would be fuelling his eventful return up to the penthouse. John was banging his head against the wall of the lift, tears burning hot streaks down his flaming cheeks.

 

Storming back into the penthouse; he made a beeline for Andy’s room knowing full well what he was after. The clock would be striking midnight in moments and he might as well fucking celebrate.

 

John swiftly grabbed the bottle, murmuring- reciting back the argument. He swigged, then, downed it, heaven on his tongue. The gulps were audible, the liquid burning his throat as it pooled in his stomach. Next, the cocaine followed. He hurriedly chopped it, snorted it, and was well into his second line.

Ten.

 

The vodka bottle was half empty.

 

Nine.

 

It was launched into the mirror.

 

Eight.

 

His fist followed.

 

Seven.

 

The blood poured free.

 

Six.

 

Reckless punches flew.

 

Five.

 

He retreated, glass pierced his skin.

 

Four.

 

The glass sliced him open.

 

Three.

 

He fell to the floor, screaming in pain. He couldn’t look at his foot, stained red and raw. He couldn’t feel his hand, streaks of blood were trailing down his arm.

 

Two.

 

“Here’s..” his voice was a whisper, cracking,  “to a better.. nineteen.. eighty.. fi—“

 

His world came crashing down, the cheers and fireworks boomed their way upwards. The only sounds keeping him clinging to consciousness.

 

One.

 

His world snapped itself to black.

Chapter Text

Sirens blared, monitors beeped. The sounds were shrill, coming faster than what they should’ve been. The ringing was unavoidable, growing in intensity; any and all sounds crashing into one huge ruckus of pure torture.

 

Voices had been heard, they were gritty and distorted. People were talking to him, slapping him in the face. Touches to his sweat slick chest were unavoidable, the shakes and the jolts weren’t tender, nor violent.

 

Eyes tried, with determination, to pry themselves open. Lips parted, then closed. Breaths were heaved, shaky and proving futile.

 

Sirens blared, monitors beeped. The sounds were coming faster than what they should’ve been. The lights, pure and white, burned behind eyelids. They didn’t open. They couldn’t. They wouldn’t dare.


***

“John… John! Holy..  John, talk to… just… its me!” Words were formed but they weren’t heard.

 

Shapes were being formed, they were hazy and distorted. He tried to adjust, clinging to his sound of his name. Over and over. The voice was bleary, as if it was being choked of by salty tears, or strangled. Strangled by the very situation that John had put the man through. What had he put this man through?

 

“John… Please.. open your eyes, please!”

 

John shifted, heart pumping in slow and irrational movements. The simple action of raising a hand or braving the sight of the man proved too much: too exhausting.

 

He settled for a groan.

 

Nigel.”

 

He couldn’t associate the voice. It was rich, familiar, booming with a subtlety that was trying desperately to shake him out of… whatever the hell he’d gotten himself into this time.

 

“Nigel, come on.. you.. can, Johnny, you can do it.”

 

Murmurs, low and persistent. They weren’t alone.

 

Who’s Nigel? Who are you talking about? That’s the John… what do you mean his name is Nigel? Who’s Nigel?

 

Rich and powerful contrasting soft and subtle. John attempted to pout, only wheezing to vocalise his frustration. At that he felt the sudden body heat, hands palming at him: his stomach; his head.

 

“… John.. he, he’s awake!... need a… doctor.” He couldn’t piece it together.

 

A blazing white light was flashed at him, his eyes flinging open then shutting again with a hiss. He was being spoken too, tubes and liquids running from him; irritating beeps portraying the sudden rise in pulse. He groaned as he shifted and this time, his chocolate brown eyes could adjust.

 

John’s mouth dropped open, breath hitching on the single syllable: “N-“

 

“John, John!” He has never heard the keyboardist so worried. His thick, rich and silken voice was cracking, trembling even more as he continued to speak. John couldn’t muster up any more of a response; eyes falling to the ruffled… black. Black hair: so, that was why John couldn’t identify him.

 

Nicky.” He took in his sights: Nick’s face was bare, neither contoured nor heavily lined. He was pure and open, the tiredness wreaked from the slump in his shoulders and the red blotches high up on his cheeks. John knew what that meant, having seen a mussed Nick countless times before. Back when they were young, the weight of the world crushing his little shoulders. He knew Nick well enough for the guilt to overcome him and within moments he too, somehow, was crying. Apparently that was the only greeting possible from him these days.

 

“Wha…” He sniffed, groaning when he couldn’t lift a hand to wipe the wet coating his puffy cheeks, “happened to me?”

 

Nick leant forward, tissue in hand. His deft hand caressed John’s jaw, tilting it upwards. The move was slight, cautious, and John pressed himself into it wincing as he felt the coolness of Nick’s pinky ring. His touch was grounding, it felt like home.

 

The tears were dabbed lovingly from John’s eyes. Nick gripped at his shoulder, rubbing small circles onto his shivering form. John could see white, the casing enveloping limb after limb.

 

“Nick, what did..”

 

“I don’t know, Nigel.” John stiffened. He gulped audibly, seeing Nick roll his next words around in his mouth. “Apologies, I really haven’t any idea.”

 

John pouted, thankful that contorting his face was now an option.

 

Nick’s weary green eyes focused on John. Without a word, he knew precisely what John wanted to hear and, being the caring big brother he was; formed the explanation.

 

He told John as much as he knew in his thick, soothing and grounding tones flowing into John’s ringing ears. His right arm was in a sling, two fingers broken. There had been multiple stitches in his foot with countless deep scars of where shards of glass had been retrieved. Nick also had a compact, retrieving it from within his blazer pocket. He angled it up to John, to his forehead.

 

There was a huge, gaping cut. Two no, three stitches that disappeared into his hair line. He had a bruise beneath his left eye, seemingly having settled a few days ago. It was in that strange purplish phase. Nick’s cautious hand pointed to it then, two tender fingers caressed it. John immediately winced: Nick removing his digits as though he’d touched something hot.

 

John tipped his head, Nick knowing to bring the compact closer for a better inspection. His left eye was swollen, slightly, with a little bump atop of his temple. The cut was, thankfully, stitched cleanly. John knew it was there but it didn’t cover his entire forehead, it inched across to the left.

 

“Nigel.” Nick breathed, putting down the compact and stapling his fingers together. He bought his hands up towards his face and heaved out a sigh, calculating his next move. “Why on Earth would you do this to—“

 

“—Myself?” He interrupted, eyebrows furrowing.

 

“Yes.”

 

John pretended not to hear the word again. This wasn’t new, as such, he’d be a fool to try and deny it. He’d been loopy on morphine throughout shows before, after having smashed up hotel rooms and taken himself down. He had barely clung to his senses as the pulsing beat of The Reflex rang through Düsseldorf, then Munich, and Hamburg a few nights later. John barely remembered any of those concerts, the entire end of 1982 was still a my body is broken in multiple places and I have myself to blame, as always, cocaine-raving blur. 

 

How eerily familiar the scenario was didn’t escape John’s mind.

 

Something in John’s mind clicked into place. With sudden strength he bolted upright, hands coming to rest atop of his stomach. His eyes widened at his own movement and he silently thanked Nick for having pulled the bedsheets high enough up on his frail frame as though the weight gain was concealed. John figured he was still hidden well enough but his tears were falling again, clutching tighter at the life he still hoped was growing inside of him.



“Nick, what about my—“ John gasped before shaking his head. He cleared his throat at Nick’s raised black, he really couldn’t believe the keyboardist had dyed it, eyebrow. “Where’s.. uh, Roger?”

 

Nick focused his gaze even harder, impossibly, onto John. He cocked his head and pursed his lips, John knew what that expression entailed in a heartbeat. Nick was internally fumbling with how to deliver him the next blow.

 

“Please, I need to see him. Is he here?”

 

Nick upped, reluctantly letting John go. He headed back towards the door, his satin black shirt seemed to glimmer as it caught the light.

 

“Nick, where are you.. fuck.” John collapsed back onto the bed as, within moments, he was faced with his rhythm section.

 

Roger too appeared disheveled. His stripey shirt was half tucked into his trousers, his jacket hung loose and his hair was rumpled as though he had spent every night roughing it outside of John’s hotel room or… wait. Sweet Lord.

 

“Rog.” John rasped. He muttered, stumbling, as he tried to piece that fateful night back together. What he had said to Roger, what insults had been hurled and whether or not they had gotten physical. John grimaced, having little to no recollection of this particular incident. “Somebody please… What day is it?”

 

Nick and Roger shared a look. “January Seventh, John.” Nick relieved him.

 

The realisation crept up on John faster than he could sing ‘Some Like It Hot’. Seven days. He’d been bound to his bed, held hostage by the tubes, kept alive by the tubes. By the looks of it, Roger indeed hadn’t left his side in those seven crucial days. He hadn’t been stable or, John figured, he would’ve been awoken much earlier. Not only until Nick.. how long had he been here? Where even was John?

 

“Are you in the States? Christ, how did you even know about all.. this?“

 

“It’s been front page news since January Second, you poor sod.” Nick stated in that tone he would acquire when having to deliver to heavy facts.

 

Panic thrummed through John’s veins. “I’ve been in the US three days, Nigel. I only wish I had gotten here sooner, I really figured you would have been discharged.”

 

John cast a glance to Roger, who was standing at the far edge of the bed: inches away from his cast. His eyes were firmly averted, finding something on the floor incredibly interesting.

 

John had perhaps a million burning questions but, in the heat of the moment and his pride thrown out of the window, he requested Nick give him and Roger a minute in private. Nick swung his head back over his shoulder, black hair falling into his eyes as Roger simply shrugged; once again taking it upon himself to be the bigger man. John didn’t miss Nick’s hand brush his arm as he strolled past Roger, almost like the apology that Nick was well aware his baby brother didn’t have the energy himself to give. Or the willingness to do so

 

The thought of Nick knowing about that night hit John right out of left field. The thought bulldozed over him, the shame settling in quick. John came to the conclusion that Nick could recite New Years Eve back to him better than he could, with all the gory details left in full. He ground his head deeper into his pillow.

 

As soon as the door shut, his eyes flung open and a hand came to rest on his stomach.

 

Sod the press. Sod Nick and him knowing far too much. John had more important, more crucial things in mind: the life trying to spark within him as he readily diminished that fire.

 

“Rog, please.. tell me I,” He cut himself off, welling up and cursing, “didn’t l-lose, oh god. No, did I lose her?”

 

His voice was haunting and it was evident as Roger took in a shaky exhale. He startled as a cautious hand draped atop his own, gripping at him with a light touch.

 

“It’s barely been three months and I—“

 

“—Thankfully not, John.” A ghost of a smile was tugging at Roger’s lips. “You won’t get so lucky again.”

 

The fear dissipated, his entire body stopped its shaking and almost melted. John thanked the divinity he wasn’t even sure he still believed in repeatedly, over and over, prayers and hopes and wishes filling his mind. With a choked off sob, John bought his hand up to swipe the tears from his face as he managed a smile.

 

He inhaled a large gulp of air, releasing it slowly then let his gaze flicker to Roger again. There were a million questions simmering but his eyes were dropping closed again. John slapped himself in the face, grinning as he was rewarded by a chuckle.

 

“I, uh. Shit.. how long have you been here, with me? Beside my bed?” He didn’t dare to use the word ‘friend’. Not even ‘mate.’

 

Where he stood with Roger was clearly not up to him in this moment.

 

They shared a heated glare, two sets of brown eyes threatening to spew tears full of salt, broken bonds and truth. Roger’s face hardened, in a way John had never seen before.

 

“Since I found you, John, submerged in blood and glass.”

 

John knew exactly how long Roger had been here. He was the one who had found him, he and Andy, they would’ve called the ambulance and had braved the storm with him.

 

“You and your broken Vodka bottles are nothing new to me. Neither are the drugs. There were at least two lines cut.”

 

“Oh my god, Roger.” His cheeks were heated, lower lip trembling as he fought the next wave of tears back. John’s voice broke, his hand trembled as he tried to reach for the drummer.

 

Roger had witnessed every moment; every aided breath John could grasp, every test and every sample taken. The thoughts of what else Roger had seen, horrified him.

 

John couldn’t piece it together. He settled for a horrific scene, the virtual murder shredded the entirety of The Power Station’s perfect run. It’s little life has been thrown off course because of John and his own selfishness but, it dawned on him, hadn’t that been the entirety of the project? A chance to run and hide himself behind what he thought he so loved?

 

It seemed that Roger had been talking to him, his words were a complete blur. All John could focus on was the haunting imagery of the glass. Smashed and abused. His blood. Tainting the ground beneath them. The white powder. His high, his saviour. Looking for the thrill. 

 

What hadn’t he broken that night?

 

He hadn’t broken just his mirror but the trust, respect and care of the men who had stood behind him in it: as he examined the stretches in skin; the bulges and newfound weight.

 

John had the haunting feeling that there wouldn’t be much more of Roger standing by his side. He had thrown the poor man right into the firing line time and time again. Roger would ride or die for John and, although he was crumbling inside, he wasn’t sure just what his heart could take if no- when Roger would finally pluck up the courage and leave him. Leave him to fend for himself and the band that meant the world to him.

 

Leave him to fight his inner demons alone.

 

This, in the here and now, was the telltale sign that they didn’t have much time left together. The fact that Andy wasn’t here either, well, he was already known for being a flaky bandit but John didn’t blame him for not wanting to waste the gruelling hours in the hopes of having a conscious bassist tomorrow.

 

How much more could Roger take? John was clueless, mortified at having abused their friendship so. The drummer didn’t deserve any of it and he should be miles away from here in the loving arms of his wife, taking the break he’d so desired. Not holed up in a crummy hospital watching another pathetic attempt at John ending it all.

 

Despite himself and the rush of emotions lashing out at him, John found his eyes heavy and dropping closed.

 

How much more Roger would take was sure to be wearing thin. John only prayed that when he eventually woke up, he’d still have a familiar face at his side who wanted to see his eyes open again.

Chapter Text

Two weeks had passed and John was mostly tied to his bed. The thought of hobbling down to the studio had crossed his mind but getting the courage to do so was another pointless endeavour not worth doing. He had been informed of: the albums completion; press junkets and interviews were being lined up but, thankfully, his fellow Taylors ensured no one would be talking to him live. He accepted the odd phone interview but John was to pose for no photos or participate in any broadcasts to promote the supergroup.

 

Although one shoot was required for the album art and the hell with it. He posed behind them all, the camera man laying on the floor for the perfect high angle shot. Only the delicious curves of John’s throat, highly powder defined cheekbones and lips could be seen.

 

Nick had left him two days back, under the guise that his project needed him. That and, how could it had slipped his mind, Simon was writing a certain theme for a certain franchise that had John quaking in his (one) suede boot. He was incredibly grateful to Nick who had managed to help keep their place in order whilst John was held captive elsewhere. There was even a little ‘yay, you survived basket of goodies from England laying atop of his golden sheets: records; magazines; a demo tape for something he’d get back too later; all the Cadbury’s he could’ve asked for. That and beans, he missed Heinz with a passion.

 

“God bless you, Nicholas.”

 

John had arranged with Nick to fly across in late February to work on the theme tune for A View To A Kill, in the hopes that the lyrics and the backing synths were already more than developed. Roger and Andy would be leaving before him, as he had other commitments in New York before the eventful (Re)Union Of The Snake was due to take place: Ealing Broadway- London; February Twentieth.

 

London. London meant Simon. London meant sharing a hotel with Simon. London meant seeing him, breathing the same air as him. Fuck.

 

John fought with determination, to keep his thoughts from straying back to those blinding blue eyes, the golden hair, the plush lips and those fingers…

 

Voice cracking on the single syllable, John cursed the hot spill of fluids as they coated his slender fingers. When his eyes had slipped shut and when his mouth had dropped open: he had no idea. He hadn’t a clue of the time, or how long he had lain solitary, a casualty to his wandering dreams turn quaking nightmares turn a torturous reality.

 

It was the longest he’d gone without sex since before the band had released their first album and his days of a simple wink in a girl’s direction practically ensured him company until morning. Or, the simple rest of a strong hand atop of his hand would have him shivering, panting on his back as he was taken. Devoured, riding sensation as he fell deeper and deeper victim to the raging fire pulsing between his legs. That and, those legs of the man before him, whoever it may be that night.

 

He just couldn’t. Sex was off the table, he knew that. John was losing control of his body. There were new addictions and pains, irregular trips to the bathroom that annoyed the hell out of him and the morning sickness still drove him mad. However he was reminded every once in a while, of who he was doing this for. His little bundle of joy, thankfully he had stopped grimacing at the baby-related cliché’s that his mind now so readily formed, who he was itching to meet. It was only January, he still had a while to go. The first trimester, the most dangerous of them all, was almost at an end and, he’d put her through a whole hell of a lot.

 

But hey, there would be a literal New Moon On Monday and last time la Luna, all jokes aside, he really did want to make a change for the coming astrological phase.

 

Thankfully, after his little hospital stint, reality had rushed up to him and slammed him head first into a brick wall: what he was doing was wrong, unhealthy. Ruining the chances of his unborn child getting the best start in life. His money could only stretch so far.

 

It would be hell however John vowed, to his Cathaholic mother at least, to cut back. Upon returning to the hotel suite, he promptly dumped all liquor bottles down the toilet. He hadn’t touched a cigarette. The cocaine was still there and the cravings were still wild but, one line. One was better than three or four. Okay, maybe the odd cigarette every few hours but alcohol was, ironically his biggest evil of them all, surprisingly out. John thanked the waves of nausea that had crept up on him out of nowhere for the repulsion and he was reminded of the early days, the undiagnosed -as he had come to call them- days of blaming his alcohol intake for his sickness.


***

John hadn’t wanted to live 1985 with secrets that tore him apart inside. It was a New Years Resolution that, unconsciously, he had already failed. Robert had apparently visited him multiple times in the hospital and, although it pained him dearly, he wanted to confess.

 

Together they took up the plush sofa in the midst of the gigantic living room. Each had a cigarette and, as the nicotine swirled about his already heavy head, John let out in a single breath:

 

“I’m pregnant.”

 

John would never grow tired of the reactions he provoked from those he loved dearly. He had been terrified to tell Robert, in fear of the shame and judgement that was sure to be forming however now, he was in far too deep to care.

 

“Three months. Due in July.”

 

John had always been incredibly self conscious. Whether he blamed the glasses or the hair falling into his eyes, he no longer had either to hide behind and besides, he couldn’t camouflage his bulging stomach from the guys that much longer. The mood swings, the changes in behaviour; they weren’t oblivious nor stupid to these changes.

 

He was incredibly relieved to find Robert just staring at him, intently. As though the ghost of a smile was painting his handsome face.

 

Too easy, he doesn’t believe a word of it.

 

“Yeah, yeah. I’m an idiot Omega who really is pregnant. Laugh it up, twat.”

 

Robert leant forward, they were inches apart. He swiftly stubbed out his cigarette and, without warning, yanked John’s from him.

 

“Hey!” He interjected, hand jolting forward in hope of retrieving his still lit cancer stick. “Wanker!”

 

Wordlessly, Robert lurched forward and slapped John across the back of the head. His face creased up, sending his one good arm to massage where the blow had landed.

 

“Well, that’s new.”

 

“Why in Holy hell are you smoking to beat the band then, Taylor?”

 

Oh okay, that wasn’t what he had expected.

 

“What?” John turned back to him, eyebrows furrowed, “I really.. shit. I really thought you were pissed at me for getting knocked up not for the smoking.” He couldn’t help but giggling through his words.

 

Robert rolled his eyes, a grin coating his sun-beaten skin.

 

“You best cut down on these or, my God,” Robert ignored John as his mouth parted, retort ready to fire, “Stop it altogether. Don’t you want the best start in life for your child?”

 

John felt queasy. Having had the same internal argument since waking up to Nick and Roger, to Roger’s inevitable concern and perhaps finally the health risks were starting to hit him.

 

He hadn’t even stopped to think what having a rockstar father would mean for a child. She’d be in the limelight, growing up for the camera learning how to dodge and manipulate the press.

 

It would be perfection if John himself could perfect his own tactics, there.

 

It wasn’t long until he was whimpering, floodgates near breaking point, clinging to Robert’s pristine white shirt and slick black tie. He felt two soft hands caress his back, although his stomach felt chaffed, he melted into the embrace; a single tear caressed his cheek.

 

“Don’t you see.” He broke off, with a choked sob, “I.. I can’t! I mother fucking can’t do it! There’s too much, too many.. you know, temptresses.”

 

“Temptresses, Christ. Sometimes Taylor, you really are a moron.” Robert barked out his laughter. Was that meant to mask his concern?

 

The two huge hands pulled John away from him, settling on his sides. Their eyes locked and John felt his pulse rabbit. His lips parted as he shivered in Robert’s tight grasp.

 

“Bollocks, John. You need help, it’s never too late.” He steamrolled over John’s attempts to butt in and correct, to challenge and complain.

 

There they sat slumped in John’s penthouse living room for what felt like an eternity. Words and tears flew free beyond John’s control, he could feel another pulsing headache burning behind his eyes. A shaky, breath- hitching, John again fell into that supportive frame, hearing the singer croon the support he could offer, who John could talk too, the professionals who would be willing to help him make a change. Those who would force said change.

 

“It’s all for your.. baby. Holy fuck, that is an incredibly scary prospect.” Robert was laughing, low and rich. It was oddly comforting and John half hiccuped his own laugh, creating a beautiful and reassuring melody.

 

“John, apologies for being so forward here but who is the father of this little miracle?”

 

John stiffened. He bought his left hand up to wipe at his nose and resisted the urge to reach for the abandoned packet of lung rotting relief lying on the coffee table. The waft of nicotine, in that moment, was an impossibility. John wanted to say he knew better but would be fooling nobody.

 

With a deep huff, his Brummie drawl cracked on “Simon.”

 

John couldn’t look Robert in the eye. He focused on something above his shoulder and considered that a win: it wasn’t the floor or his own tattered fingernails.

 

He was laughing and, some crazy how, John found himself joining back in. As the backing vocals, this time. Where he would always much rather be: supporting the main act. He hated it the other way around.

 

“Now that has page one written all over it. Duran inbred.”

 

“Duran inbred, that’s the best bloody one!” Together they howled as John perked up, hearing Mr Newcastle grate through the door. “They’re all over each other. All. The. Damn. Time!”

 

“Bullshit.”

 

“Trying to deny, Johnny, is bullshit.”

 

“Twat.” John grinned, “Hey, Ands.” He was about to get up to hug him before both Robert and Andy kept him pinned to the sofa.

 

“Gotta go easy on the foot, mate.”

 

“And that child.” Robert pitched in, voice low.

 

Andy dropped down beside him and then they hugged, laughing in John’s satin clad shoulder. He was oddly cautious, not bulldozing himself into John’s needful embrace; being careful to watch the bandages. John leant into Andy’s warm leather, smiling.

 

Andy muttered into his ear, he almost missed him state: “So, you’re telling all the people who probably had respect for ya now?”

 

John chuckled. “Just those who actually care about me and aren’t using my face for extortion purposes.” He quipped pulling away, meeting Andy’s bright, sparkling gaze. John could smell the beer on his breath and he shivered.

 

“Leather and extortion. That’s the JT wet dream.” Robert stated.

 

John started laughing.

 

“Plus the whores and his druggie buddies!” Andy continued.

 

John stopped laughing.

 

“We calling Simon a whore now?” Robert couldn’t keep a straight face, neither could John.

 

Goddamnit, the giggles overtook him again and together they were cackling, wild and free. John didn’t dare answer.

 

It went without saying that Robert would be keeping his secret. It also went without saying that the lack of cigarette smoking clogging his lungs was painful, in all the right and wrong reasons.

Chapter Text

Slamming the alarm clock, John groaned as he turned to slam his head back into his pillows.

 

John missed the days in which he was on tour and a super special, secret note would be shoved under his hotel room door to detail the events of the day.

 

They were always concise, immediately to the point:

 

DAY: MONDAY 18, FEB

TODAY IS: ULTRASOUND DAY.

 

He had always laughed at those notes half expecting them to state, and sometimes wishing they indeed did, YOUR NAME IS: JOHN in the demanding and pushy tones of his tour managers and friends.

He lay on his back, hair skewed, still in last nights clothes. He had gone out somewhere, gotten hit on, nearly kissed a man with a mullet that matched his own in terms of hairspray and extravagance and snorted a line of white heaven. Probably two lines, he had company and keeping up appearances amongst the sea of naked men had to be done: not that he removed more than his leather trousers in the process.

 

“Five.. mo’ bloody... minutes.” He choked out.

 

Reluctantly, he slipped himself from his cocoon of golden sheets, the satin made a weird ‘shushing’ sound as he collapsed, falling like a sack of coke-thin potatoes, to the floor.

 

“Fucking foot.”

 

Trying to latch onto the bed to heave himself up, he felt a surging pain in his right wrist.

 

“Fucking hand.”

 

They were both still bandaged although, thankfully, he would be removing his sling the night before flying back to London.

 

He stumbled into the bathroom, wincing at the light that blinded him. John surveyed himself, grunting, and refused to shave under the pretence of being too tired and not wanting to cut his pretty jaw. He splashed his face with cool water, fumbled for the towel he knew was somewhere behind him and cursed again as he tripped ceremoniously on the soap that coated the floor.

 

“The hell?”

 

His lotions and creams had been splattered, bottles half empty. His toothbrush was nowhere to be seen and shaving foam littered the wet tiles. What in the bloody hell had happened in here last night?

 

“Sweet Lord and Baby Jesus.” John rasped, rubbing at his tired eyes and grinning like a loon. 

It was probably best that he didn’t let his torturous imagination get the better of him, in this instant at least.

 

***

He slumped through the doors, practically glueing himself to the pristine cream walls as he snuck around the corners. He fell through the sets of double doors, making weird faces as new smells of cleanliness and sterilisation hit him.

 

He wore an oversized, boxy black coat in which his hands were shoved in deep. His hair flowed free to conceal his face. He kept his head down and sunglasses firmly planted in place.

 

“Appointment at Midday. Taylor.” He fiddled with his leather glove as he uttered the words, they still felt strange rolling off of his tongue.

 

“Take a seat, Mr Taylor.”

 

John began to stalk away but a high pitched giggle forced him to turn back. The woman was beaming, blonde curly locks falling into her face as seductively, she bit into her painted red lip.

 

Rolling his eyes behind his shades, John headed back to her desk. Leaning over he listened to her thick Bostonian drawl, raised a comical questioning eyebrow and hand to his face before replying. “Hmmm, you may indeed request my services, luv.”

 

She shoved her perfectly manicured nails into her desk drawer, giggling, to retrieve a piece of paper. When John took a closer look he recognised silhouettes and when she held it up to him it caught the light.

 

John couldn’t help but smirk: Tigerbeat.

 

“Where should I sign? Atop of the lipstick stain here, or here?” He pointed to each lavish kiss, “Or perhaps in the only corner where I haven’t been assaulted by some dashing red lips?” He pouted, waggling his eyebrows.

 

She blushed violently as he slipped the pin up back over the desk. She held it tight to her chest, wreaking of both embarrasment and desire.

 

“The military era was always one of my upmost favourites. I can never get enough leather!” John flashed her another dreamboat smile as he ran a slender finger down his trousers, hands settling in his belt loops. The woman blushed deeper, stifling a moan as John pivoted on his heel and began to walk away.

***

A gruelling twenty minutes passed by. He watched, sneaking glances at the other men who passed through the dreaded doors. Some were further along than him, the tiredness in their stances vocalised that. Some were still new and coming to terms with it.

 

Then, the appointment before his crashed through the door. Two men threw themselves at eachother, kissing, the omega being hoisted up and thrown into the air. A sea of applause erupted from the men surrounding him and he just watched, lips pursed, as they strolled towards the door hand in hand, snogging the entire way. He couldn’t help but feel a warmth; seeing other men in his position. Seeing the love in their eyes, the excitement and most definite unsurity.

 

He almost missed the doctor call his name.

 

“Shit.” He rasped under his breath, scrambling to his feet. He hobbled in behind on his crutches and took in a deep exhale: here goes nothing, John.

 

“First visit?” The nurse leant over, helping him with his coat.

 

John nodded, wincing as she accidentally caught his sling. He was nervous, of course he was. No amount of cocaine could hide that, the endless front page worthy pouts and smiles wouldn’t get him anywhere. They’d see through him in a heart beat.

 

“Okay, John.” A soothing, very masculine voice flowed, “please, take a seat. How are we feeling today?”

 

John blushed. He clasped his hands together atop of his stomach and rolled some words about in his mouth.

 

“John,” he was prompted, “how are you and baby doing? How have the first twelve weeks been for you, first and foremost?”

 

“Hell.” He chuckled, embarrassed and even more vulnerable.

 

He could stare thousands of screaming, sweaty fans in the face and smile, grind, party and frolic on stage. But here, in the close proximity amidst the endless pregnancy charts, tools and scary things that he didn’t recognise, this close and personal to the doctor: he couldn’t raise his gaze from his hands.

 

“Nausea, pain, tiredness and swelling?” The nurse asked, prompting John to lie back.

 

“A shit load. Everything just bloody hurts.” What was the doctors name again?

 

The two professionals shared a knowing glance. Then, the nurse turned to John and lay her bright red fingertips atop of his shoulder. He jumped, eyes landing on the wry look creeping onto her face.

 

“I’m afraid, Mr Taylor,” He could’ve sworn she stretched out his name, “it always is but, at the end of the day, it’s all gon’ be worth it, ain’t it?” She winked.

 

He found himself nodding along, latching onto their words and letting their voices carry him through the appointment. Only when a thick, cool gel was applied did he break free from her reassuring gaze.

 

“Fucking hell!” John giggled, immediately apologising for his language.

 

Doctor… Adams, that’s it, just grinned as he moved the wand. It caressed him in small, circular motions. John found himself clinging to the tingly background music that flowed from a tiny radio in the corner of the office.

 

His eyes began to slip closed, Adams kept on talking to him: asking more questions in which he found himself more able to answer, with little hesitation.

 

Wild Boys! Wild Boys! Wild Boys!

 

His eyes flung open at the pulsing beat, the raging snare and heated synth. Raising his head, John’s gaze landed on the radio. Both the Doctor and Nurse laughed and, within moments, the station had been jacked up to full volume.

 

Wild Boys! Wild Boys! Wild Boys!

 

John’s cheeks were burning, chuckles filling the room.

 

Of all the songs to play during his freaking ultrasound, it had to be this one. The world was conspiring to torture him, to embarrass him in any which way a cruel divinity would.

 

The implications, the lyrics held such a… homoerotic and suggestive tone. John had almost missed the hitches of breath, focusing on the thick beat.

 

“Wild Boys fallen far from glory. Reckless and so hungered.”

 

The nurse began singing along. John quirked his head, mouth dropping open to expose his adorable overbite. Damn, she was good.

 

“On the razors edge you trail. Because there’s murder, take it Dan!”

 

“By the roadside!” The Doctor pitched in, voice low and silken. He really didn’t seem the type to like a teeny-bop band such as Duran Duran but, they were trying to break that mould now, weren’t they? No, hadn’t they broken that mould?

 

“To hell with it. Help me up, please, luv.” John grunted, sensing the relief of those around him. He took the Nurse’s perfectly manicured hand and eased himself into a sitting position, opening his diaphragm and...

 

“Wild boys, never lose it. Wild boys, never chose this way. Wild boys, never close your eyes.” John paused, taking a huge breath. “Wild boys. We’ll never not bloody shine!” He sang, well, tried to sing.

 

There were reasons he did the backing vocals: plenty of completely logical and necessary reasons. However this time he had Doctor Adams and Nurse, he squinted, Olson to sing his parts.

 

Then came the infamous instrumental. John caught the mischevious glint in the Nurse’s green gaze, knowing full well what she wanted to see.

 

“Here goes nothing.”

 

John stretched back so he was again bound to the chair, hands outstretched. He writhed, slamming his head into the headrest in perfect time to Roger’s thrumming drum beat. Three cymbals, he ground his hips into the chair. It wasn’t quite being tied to a Volvo, decked out in chain metal but John took to the stage: it was a strange and not at all necessary moment but he would be extra as the event called for it.

 

Doctor Adams was howling, the ghost of something darker having overcome Nurse Olsen’s eyes. She licked her lips as John did, he gifted her a seductive wink and let his head crash back into the headrest a final time.

 

As the song faded out, Simon’s screams dulled and Nick’s synths and Andy’s raging guitars came to a end. John too was cackling well into the next song.

 

“I think we’ve had enough fun for one appointment, don’t you agree ma’am?” John asked, a tinge or bemusement still evident in his voice.

 

“Oh, Mr Taylor, I wouldn’t be so sure.” Her tone sounded mischievous, a sly grin painting her guise.

 

John had all but forgotten the wand until the Doctor placed it back onto his slick skin. He shivered.

 

“Well, John. It seems that Rio of yours is a beautiful dancer.”

 

“What!” He yelled, cocking his head up to the screen. Oh right, ultrasound. “Is that?” His bottom lip trembled as he squinted, cursing the fact that he again favoured his contacts over his glasses.

 

“Yep, John Taylor, that’s your baby.”

 

John croaked out a sob, bringing his one good arm up to his face. His mouth hung open in wonder, his eyes bleary as he studied every little shape. It was blurry, the grey fuzz was hard to associate. John noted that it looked a little like a seahorse. Couldn’t the male species of them get pregnant, too?.

 

Doctor Adams pointed different anatomy out and John clung to every word.

 

“Are you happy, John?” The Nurse had leant down, lips inches from his left ear.

 

John’s eyes never left.. Rio. Rio, what a beautiful name for such a beautiful place. And for the rock and roll foetus, his brows furrowed as he mulled it over: Perfect.

 

“Can you k-know, the uh, the gender this early, Doctor?” He stammered out.

 

“Yes, but with the position your baby is in, it’s indeed hard to determine. I would recommend in the next Ultrasound, when they are more developed.”

 

Although a little dissapointed, John nodded.

 

“Andy bet me fifty pounds and a stage dive that it’s a boy.”

 

“Stage dive? You better not in your condition, Mr Taylor!”

 

Both the Doctor and Nurse chuckled, John felt immediately at ease.

 

He studied the foetus, his Rio, intently. Determined to remember every little fuzzy lump and bump, he payed extra close attention. He wallowed in the feeling of the slick gel, the doctor and his ministrations and finally, finally it all felt real.

 

John was dazed, running on a new high that was unlike anything he had ever felt. His child was indeed beautiful, a dancer.

 

Never in a million years did John think he’d have a name for the unborn child in the womb. Never. The boys were sure to rip him to shreds over it but, for the remainder of the nine months, it was Rio.

 

John and his Rio, dancing on the sand.

Chapter Text

Two days later and he was quivering in his (still) one suede boot, chains clinking, having overslept and trying to duck through the crowd without being recognised or falling flat on his face every time some idiot stumbled into his crutches.

 

He kept his gaze averted, cursing the fact that he would be taking a chartered airline that practically guaranteed enraptured fan after fan would be lining up to meet him, to chat, take a photo and be generally convinced that their meeting was aligned by the Gods. That it all meant something to him. Something special, something sacred. Sure, since the blur that was the sex-crazed tour in 1983 fangirls hadn’t been swarming with the sole purpose to jump him but that didn’t mean it couldn’t still happen.

It was always worse when he found that he must fend for himself. However now, his hormone crazed fans would be lurching, be jumping and him and his child and that prospect, if it indeed came true, scared him shitless. It was lethal.

 

***

John couldn’t sleep. Nor could he find the strength to remove the Virgin issue blazing red blanket that did nothing to warm his body temperature and was such a sore on his irritated eyes. His glasses didn’t hide much, there. Having booked his one way ticket back to hell so late, he didn’t fancy the first class extortion and reluctantly settled for business class.

 

He couldn’t escape the sideways glances, with the fuck off riding in his eyes appearing amplified through the thick and round frames. Being in no mood to socialise, he huffed and grunted his way through the entirety of the gruelling nine hours- fucking turbulence slowing us down, as opposed to slicing the journey time- he recalled in distaste. He had spent the entirety psyching himself up for the inevitable reunion.

 

The snakes would be spewing their venom within minutes. Whether he’d be struck with that bite or would be the one to lash out himself, was beyond him. He couldn’t stand to think about it almost certain, his temper would ensure the latter. Was he the snake?

 

John’s mind plagued him with guilt, a running commentary of ‘what-ifs’ and ‘what the bloody hell are you doing, asshole?’ He bombarded himself with worry after worry.

 

How could he think straight when the man he so… Christ. The man he so what? His mind stilled, the whirring of incoherent words finally coming to a gracious halt: no longer suffocating him.

 

“It’s all for the, uh. Good of the band.” He wheezed, wrapping the blanket higher up his body. John didn’t dare to remove it, in case some beady-eyed sod stared a little too hard and started making their own totally unfathomable connections that would have the tabloids creaming themselves in no time. Although to John, the press were surprisingly much less of a worry than what he thought they ought to be in the confinement of his 747.

 

He did however momentarily pride himself for what he so wanted to call ‘creative genius’ that had taken over aboard his flight. His deft hand had fingered his tattered notebook, scrawling illegible notes alongside his ‘Victor Hugo’ set list that still needed a better, more understandable name. Whether it would get him anywhere, who knew. Only time would tell, there. And if it did, it would be a hell of a notorious- huh, that sounds promising- comeback, hopefully he’d still be with band members that wanted to be at his side: sharing the spotlight again.

 

John touched down on home soil with the raging beat of his own T-Rex cover blasting in his Walkman and a distinct scowl firmly in place. Intent on slumping his way through the overcrowded, over stimulating Heathrow, fans flocked to him: screaming in delight as pulses rabbited and hormones soared. He ducked past them all, not very kindly, yanking his suitcases from the carousel and then proceeded to stalk straight through the Arrivals gate.

 

A little flicker of a memory, his last time in an airport, arose. He stopped to drop his bags and stood stationary amidst the sea of chaos. The image of that little girl; her voice and how she had swooned when he crooned in her tiny ear; the look of adoration from her mothers striking hazel eyes. The words you’ll make a wonderful father someday had touched him deeply and again, he found himself reliving them. Two tender hands rubbed at his chest with a sigh. He couldn’t hide his smile.

 

Today, he decided, the fans could wait. Today, he needed a bed and a nice stiff drink.

 

Shit. Not a drink: the heavenly liquid hadn’t caressed his eager tongue in near four weeks. Not since the delicate glass of his beloved Smirnoff littered the floor and his blood tainted the pure, innocent cream tiles.

 

Something else. What other delicacies were at a rockstar’s disposal, again?

 

He then found himself incredibly Lonely In his Nightmare, having already pushed out the heart-clenching memory of euphoria from just minutes before.

 

With a flick of his wrist, he checked his watch and his eyebrows furrowed. He headed for the taxis, crutches proving more frustrating than ever.

 

He let his mind drift, wandering further, deeper. He blamed the lack of sleep for the blinking lights that flashed a single, solitary name over and over. In blue and silver, singing to its own sultry beat.



***

“Two more days.” John grunted, flicking through the channels and reluctantly settling on Top Of The Pops.

 

Two more days before the inevitable (Re)Union Of The Snake, as he now called it. He couldn’t help but snigger every time the phrase sprung to mind, unsure whether it was genius or pure stupid.

 

“Crummy chart.” He sniggered, as they counted down to the new number one. He’d never even heard of the band that had claimed the second spot and was content on keeping himself in the dark about:

 

“Who the fuck are A-…huh? Ha. A-ha?” He wondered, out loud.  “They’ll never get anywhere with a name like that, surely.”

 

Although John couldn’t deny that the front man was beautiful no, hot.

 

“These guys make Spandau look as though they crawled outta the dumpster and us..” He trailed off, shaking his head.

 

He stared a little longer, relaxing back into the hotel king size and decided that fine, okay. Not such a crummy chart after all. He’d have bloody Take On Me stuck in his head all day. How a man could sing that high was truly beyond him, he was suitably in awe.

 

John had always found it odd, watching a countdown without seeing himself crop up at an undoubtedly high chart position. Granted that The Power Station album had another month until its release. The idea of re-entering the charts, for once in his life, didn’t terrify him. For the supergroup it wasn’t about chart positions, fancy videos and elusive promotional tours. It was about the music: rocking out and having a good time; making memories and lifelong friendships.

 

For what would become the title track for A View To A Kill though, all those anxieties swirled about his head again. There was a hell of a lot riding on this single track. Their sound, the cooperation... this single would be added to a rolodex of iconic Bond lyrics and instrumentals.

 

They had the likes of Paul McCartney and Shirley Bassey to compete with; for fucks sake.

 

The prospect of messing this up petrified him more so than those first nights on tour where his hands were barely able to strum in time, terrified of the bum notes ringing through the arena and the fans coming to hate him, ragging on his talent, from the get go.

***

Two days later, John smacked off his alarm clock with a grunt, half submerged in his cream covers. He had tossed and turned again that night, then again had settled for lolling his head back so it collided with the headboard as the sunlight beat its way through the curtains. His brunette hair dangled into his eyes, in dire need of a trim and some hairspray, and suddenly: he felt incredibly self conscious.

 

Hobbling to the hotel en-suite he grasped ahold of the sink. He squinted as he surveyed himself, half awake.

 

“Christ,” John’s hand traced the stubble coating his jaw, “looking bloody great today.” He groaned.

 

The jet-lag was still reeling, his gaze was bleary and unfocused having skipped another nights sleep and not having taken any liquid courage or white salvation to compensate for his loss.

 

White salvation. Oh shit, fucking damn it, shit.

 

His nostrils tingled, he licked his lips a couple of times uncontrollably. Shutting his eyes, he engulfed some sharp air, hands clammy and rubbing together. Falling forward, he again clasped the sink and breathed through the craving, fist banging against it. He uttered violent curses as the pain lashed out from his temples. His entire body felt numb, quivering, as the tears formed and the swears dropped.

 

Would someone please explain? The reasons for this shoddy behaviour? His mind miraculously pieced together in the highs of his own personal, private power trip.

 

John fell to the floor, his body suddenly incapable of taking his weight. Feeling his stomach lurch, he shuffled to the toilet and barely made it in time. Voiding his guts, a sweat settled on skin that coated the goosebumps and made his hairs stand on edge.

 

“Mother..” He cut himself off, again facing the toilet, heaving. “.. Fu.. fucker.”

 

Later content that he had nothing left to watch come back up, John crept to the wall of the en-suite. It wreaked, he scrunched his nose and let his head tip backwards, cool against the slick tile. He just sat there for however long, the time in which he’d be seeing the band again creeping up on him faster and faster.

 

He trembled, jittered, on all fours with his face now inches from the floor as his fist collided with it.

 

Perhaps he was screaming. Perhaps it was all tears. He didn’t know and his brain didn’t care to try and decipher what were his other options. All he knew, in that horrific moment, was that he was aching. Craving for the easy way out. Starving for every escape route he’d been so fortunate to have known he could take. Then again and again.

 

The lack of provoked euphoria didn’t stop him from longing after the one touch who, John had once felt, was near as perfect a high as the unmentionables. Not quite a saviour but pretty damn close in the moment of back arching, toe curling pleasure.

***

The taxi ride through to Ealing was the longest of his life. John, in the midst of the February haze, stared out of the window: people and vehicles passing by in a blur before the low level fog, or was it just soot?, swallowed the figures whole.

 

“Which Taylor are you again?” A thick cockney accent asked. “J, uh, J.. James? Jack?”

 

“John. Bass.” He answered half-heartedly, eyes not leaving the sight from outside the tiny window.

 

“Oh, that’s right. My daughter has photos of you plastered all over her wall. I’ve never stopped to take a closer look.”

 

Only when the taunting, mystical tingles of a track he knew so well poured out through the stereo did he snap from his daze.

 

Was I chasing after rainbows?

One thing for sure, you never answered when I called.

 

He flung his head back, grinding into the cheap material of the head rest. His eyes snapped shut as he bit his lip, exposing the column of his throat. His Adam’s Apple bobbed, the prick of tears behind his shut eyes were burning.

 

And I wiped away the water from my face,

To look through the eyes of a stranger.

 

Bringing his now cast free right hand up to his lips, he bit into the cuticles of his fore and middle fingers: the ultimate tell he was nervous and desired, if anything, contact. Up close and personal. Tender and protective.

 

For rumours in the wake of such a lonely crowd,

 

At that, John broke down. He swore, breaths hitching to an irrational pulse.

 

“Is everything alright?”

 

Trading in my shelter for danger.

 

Wanting to bury his pathetic little outburst in his hands, he found himself hunching over and stifling sobs as the chorus came around again.

 

“John? What, is it ‘cuz I didn’t know your name at first? Christ, you musicians can be so full of yourselves.” John wasn’t listening.

 

The vocals intensified, the hurt in that voice echoed throughout the small space. It pounced at him like a tiger clawing its way into his head. The sounds wouldn’t leave, trying to deafen them with internal screams and guitar solos he demanded himself hear instead proved futile. They were all being dulled by Simon’s lingering notes. That and, the breaths John may or may not have imagined him taking penetrated deeper into his hurting soul; his clenching heart.

 

The heart that John knew, better than ever, was weeping for him. To be held, caressed, wanted and taken care of. The heart that would make his own feel whole, encasing him in those strong arms and not let him run away like a coke-strong fool again.

 

To not allow John to focus his attention, his own love and adoration, for the vile substances that got him through his measly day.

 

He wallowed in the embarrassment, shoulder’s quaking at the back of the taxi as they pulled up. John near missed the grunt of the driver who, had been babbling the entire journey, demanded his fee. He payed and tore himself away from the newfound comfort of the backseat, hands quivering as he took in, feeling queasy at its height, the skyscraper.

 

Simon’s apartment building.

 

Everything told John to bolt, to run as fast as the crutches and stitches would let him. Knowing it wouldn’t be far, he was never much of an athlete anyway, he staggered his gait and plodded up the stairs one by one. He tapped the buzzer.

 

The wait for a correspondent voice was torture. John was still shaking, face flushed and cheeks aflame. Nick’s booming voice let him up and, in a desperate attempt to hang onto consciousness, his head repeatedly hit the wall of the lift the entire way up. Thirteen floors and now his head hurt, great. Real smart, you asshole.

 

Clambering out, thanking no one in particular that he had had the luxury of riding up alone, he paused. Plastering his back to the wall beside the lift, he engulfed a large breath and held it. He swiped at his damp eyes and fumbled for the sunglasses half hanging out of his jacket pocket.

 

John had worn the largest shirt he could find, one that would hang off of his now not so slender body nicely without looking idiotic. He made a mental note to not remove his coat unless it was strictly necessary: in case the building was burning and all of a sudden his body temperature was through the roof and they were all running for their lives.

 

There may be no fire but once he slipped through that front door, there might as well be. John knew, disappointed in himself first for thinking so, he’d prefer to crash and burn. Go down in the flames he was certain were to ignite at any moment.

 

He stood, already exhausted, and overwhelmed with emotion, outside. The thin walls were the only thing separating them, this time. It should be easy, he could fall into Nick’s arms, laugh at Andy’s jokes and stare Simon down with besotted and beautiful eyes.

 

His hand hovered above the golden knocker. Retreating, he made a fist. His heart was racing, the beats pounded through every inch of his body racing from adagio to vivace in seconds. He bought a hand up again and, swallowing his pride, he tapped it. Once, twice. Three times and he was virtually falling through the door wondering when had he started leaning so heavily against it?

 

All eyes were on him: the flush in his face; the rumpled hair and clothing. The boot that still trapped his foot, the crutches that had dropped, lifeless, to the floor.

 

All that John was certain of was that, there and then, his stumbling and the state of his clothing even made Nick’s so-called ‘dancing’ in New Moon On Monday look as flawless as Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. He made the other boys look good. It was a strange change of pace.

 

None of that mattered. A single, frosty gaze scrutinised him: glancing over and staring hard. It was the one gaze he couldn’t face, biting his bottom lip and scratching his forearm for the sake of moving.

 

That gaze was raging, violent and impossibly colder than anything he had ever known.

 

That gaze singled in on him, lining up, a target warning ringing through his head. He couldn’t move, couldn’t bend over to fetch his wayward crutches and just stood, mouth now agape as, for the first time in months, he was seized up by the singer. The singer, who was a mere two metres away, standing up straight with a gaze sharp as flint.

 

Why John was over-analysing that look was beyond him. He was a deer in the headlights: well and truly fucked as though he had just waltzed off of stage and was trying to hide the fact that he had fallen flat on his pretty face moments earlier. He couldn’t do it. Couldn’t face the scrutiny.

 

Finally something, a slender and manicured hand, braced his shoulder. He immediately sprung into action, having stared dumbfounded for who knew how long straight through the blue. The crutches were in Nick’s grasp and he took them, steadying himself before hobbling over to the sofa.

 

John made it apparent to sit as far from him as he could, keeping his eyes averted at all times.

 

It was just one song. One little number that made his stomach churn and head spin. One measly little number that would be the comeback.

 

There was far too much riding on it. John was inches away from spewing his guts right then and there but wouldn’t, wouldn’t dare let himself sink that low. Not with his company. In his, one of his, houses.

 

He wouldn’t dare raise his eyes and take in the look of a stranger. The stranger who still left his mouth watering, who’s savoured touches on his skin left him reeling.

 

The same stranger that left him shaking, quaking, rocking into the dead of night with shamefully good orgasms.

 

The stranger who had given him the greatest gift of them all: the life blossoming inside of him that ensured John would never be alone with his nightmares, his cravings, his search for himself again.

Chapter Text

The taxi ride back was even worse than the trip there. John sat stationary, chocolate browns fixing themselves on the tiny droplets as they rolled down the tiny windows. He replayed the day over and over, the words yelled and the things that were thrown. It wasn’t just him, however, that made the unceremonious reunion one of the worst days in his life.

 

How he hadn’t just launched himself into Simon’s strong arms and just bawled was well and truly behind his comprehension.

 

Simon had been staring intently, as had Nick. Two sets of beady eyes roamed all over him, trying to associate any changes in physicality. The changes in behaviour John was broadcasting from the damn BT Tower back home.

 

The craving for his beloved powdered revival hadn’t even been so severe, at first. After traipsing out of the apartment building John had taken a single whiff of the smog-ridden air and had practically collapsed. He was on all fours, jolting, tweaking as he ran a desperate hand under his nose as desperate teeth cut into a trembling bottom lip. He groaned, it was choked off. He tried to stand, he stumbled back into position. The rain beat down all around him, his clothes soaking through and sticking to the new bulges around his mid-section. His black, oversized satin coat hung loose and his ruffled mullet was now plastered to his forehead.

 

There he lay, on all fours and screaming, drenched through. Another rock bottom.

 

***

Three days later and he found himself crutching his way into a coffee shop with Nick, barely being able to hold back the bile that rose in his mouth every time the strongest of drinks slid past him. The smell was intoxicating, vile.

 

“Peppermint?” Nick raised a now again blonde eyebrow, “Peppermint tea? That seems much more of a Nigel drink to me then John fucking Taylor.”

 

Coffee makes me heave. It’s terribly missed.

 

John had just forced a smile and plopped himself down into a chair. Out of the corner of his shielded eyes, only by his glasses but they still acted like protection, he noticed a little swarm of girls forming. He groaned inwardly as Nick took his seat, sliding in with such grace it captured John’s thoughts by making his tired eyes settle on Nick’s angelic face.

 

The conversation wasn’t easy, it wasn’t the typical banter that had John laughing like a buffoon whilst Nick somehow kept his composure completely: the only momentary raise of a sardonic eyebrow and pout being the tell that he was holding back his chuckles. It was strained, John was calculating and re-calculating every word. Every breath. He was leaving pauses for where there should’ve been retorts and when it came to Simon… well, let’s just say Nick almost got a teapot to the head.

 

“You both cannot go on like this John. If for no one else, for the good of the band. We need you both back on top form, minus all the tears and bloodshed you both seem to be leaving behind.” Nick gulped at his black coffee, letting the steam swirl and frame his beautiful face.

 

John took another hasty gulp, wincing as the liquid burned his tongue. He would have let his fingers drum atop of the table but he refrained, knowing the tapping sounds would only drive Nick up the wall. John couldn’t chance irritating him anymore than how he already had.

 

He cursed himself at the prospect his glasses only enhanced the worry in his eyes; the wall he was erecting between them.

 

“John?” He had barely heard Nick’s words having lost himself long ago, riding the accents and personifications in his booming voice. “Nigel, you have to explain. Charlie and I are at a complete and utter loss.”

 

John’s head snapped up, eyes watery and hands quivering. He paused halfway to bringing his fingers to his lips, knowing his nervous biting of a cuticle would be the ultimate surrender: Nick would anticipate so much.

 

Taking a shaky breath John tipped his head back, hitting the brick wall behind. He uncrossed his legs and slumped further into the plush of the booth, jacket falling open and hands resting uneasily at his sides.

 

He missed the genuine look of concern in Nick’s heavily lined eyes. The black, to John, meant repulsion was staring back at him, laughing.

 

Reluctantly focusing on Nick again, John ran his eyes over him: his bolero jacket; the shine in the golden buttons; the intricate swirling detail that added some bling to his shoulders. Underneath Nick wore one of his beloved striped t-shirts, in which he would claim bought his outfit back down into the casual category. At first John had smirked, having also opted for stripes over spots. Although the pattern on his shirt was no where near as elaborate as Nick’s. They still matched though, John had found some comfort and nostalgia in that fact.

 

John was completely clueless as to how long Nick had been talking for. He focused his attention elsewhere, again trying to force the nausea that passed every time an innocent person glided past them with the strongest coffee he could imagine. Fucking cravings, wait. Did that even count as a craving, not wanting it?

 

Time for a major elephant in the room. The mood had shifted, the lull in Nick’s husky baritone finally pulled John from his daydream.

 

“I have something for you.” Nick pulled out something small, black and slick, from within his bolero pocket.

 

A single finger, nails coated black, slid the mystery object across the slick wooden table to John who sat dumbfounded.

 

John felt the familiar tap on his bladder. Again, Rio? “I’ll be right back.” He upped and headed to the loo, resting heavily on his crutches.

 

When he returned he examined the situation, having all but forgotten what Nick had previously said to him. For the first time in about half an hour, he found some words.

 

“What the hell is this?” He picked up the cassette, letting an oddly unfamiliar weight into his grip.

 

“I knew that you would have forgotten about the first one I sent you—“

 

“—Huh, what first?”

 

“Real articulate there, Johnny. Yes, the first demo tape I sent you: Election Day.”

 

“Election?” John’s brows furrowed as an adorable bout of confusion swept his face. “Nick we don’t have an election for another, shit, when’s the next general election?”

 

Nick rolled his eyes, a smirk tugging at his pink lips. “You’re not old enough to vote, yet.”

 

John’s lips parted, exposing his overbite. He cocked an eyebrow as he mentally tried to wrack his brain.

 

Nick could read his expressions like a single waft through last month’s Vogue. “No luck remembering?”

 

John sighed, shaking his head. He swept the brunette curls from his face, noting how overgrown they had become.

 

Nick, again using his incredible telepathic skills, stated: “Just a little trim, for the dead ends. Then maybe try some gel up top, highlights and sweep your fringe up and out of your face.”

 

The way Nick’s words were flowing, such professionalism, it felt as though he was walking through concept art for a shoot. A shoot… about John.

 

Holy shit.

 

“Holy shit.”

 

He’s onto me.

 

“You’re onto me.”

 

He knows too much.

 

“You know too much.”

 

Nick’s attention landed back on the panic in John’s face. He cursed, knowing that the blush highlighted his puffy cheeks and the little cluster of spots on them. Also the craters on his chin.

 

“What do I know, Nigel?” Nick asked and John couldn’t tell if he was playing coy.

 

John sat still, shaking. Trying to desperately ignore the trembling in his fingers and legs beneath the table. He leant forward, stapling his fingers together. He let his head fall into his hands. Whether he was stalling for time or not he wasn’t sure.

 

“John. Just listen to the damn track, please.”

 

The irritation in Nick’s voice caused him to jerk his head upwards then eyeballing the cassette that sat between them.

 

He fumbled in his coat pocket for his Walkman and almost dropped the cassette into his teacup as it felt hot to the touch. John shoved it inside and wound the tape.

 

A pulsing beat thrummed through him, the vocals were soft yet haunting. The key was drawing him in, making him ride the highs and lows of such mystical lyrics.

 

Sometimes you have no choice,

Sometimes you've got no voice to say.

 

Nick paused, scanning John’s face. “You don’t like it?”

 

We can decide this,

There'll be no tears.

 

“That unfeeling bastard!” He ground out.

 

No tragedy.

Try, I wouldn’t break and cry,

If you walk away and leave me.

 

“Christ, John. We are in public here.”

 

And leave me.

 

“He’ll fuckin’ leave me.”

 

“Johnny.” He bulldozed straight past Nick’s warning siren.

 

“And I’ll fucking leave him. That’s what this is about right? You assholes.. it’s, it’s all over and I.. I, not just the band, I.. need you.” John took a shaky breath, tears pricking at his eyelids, “now more than.. ever.” He rasped.

 

Hey, goodbye.

Goodbye is forever.

 

“Johnny!”

 

Goodbye is forever and forever.

 

Cunts. You’re both done with me, right? I’ve put you through it all and now you’re bloody done..” He downed the rest of his drink. “Like I was done with.. with..”

 

“With whom, Nigel?”

 

John froze, surveying the heavy look in Nick’s eyes. His hackles were raised, the tug of those pastel lips looking anything but innocent.

 

“Simon or Duran.” It wasn’t a question.

 

He muttered, sputtered. Every noise was incoherent, dropping off of his tongue as the tears broke free. John placed his Walkman on the table, yanking out the cassette.

 

He slammed it on the table in front of Nick, getting as far as reading ‘So Red The—‘ before he was on his feet, ignoring Nick’s calls for him to come back and just talk to him. To hash out whatever inner demons had consumed poor Nigel’s soul this time. John didn’t listen, he sped up and headed straight for the door- slamming it behind him.

 

He stumbled onto the street, diving headfirst into the rainstorm. He was soaked through within minutes.

 

Traipsing through the gloomy streets of West Ealing, he hadn’t a clue where he was going. The only places he knew here were bars that wouldn’t be opening for hours, a Sainsbury’s fit for a midnight Vodka haul and a certain apartment sky scraper that made him queasy when he took in his sights.

 

John paused, his stomach flipped.

 

Oh fuck.

 

Diving behind the canopy at a bus stop he pressed his back into the glass, hands massaging his temples. He could feel his vomit rising up into his throat, the quaking of his stomach making it near impossible to stifle—

 

Oh fucking fuck.

 

He hunched over, voiding his guts onto the grass. John was thankful that he was alone, at least, he thought he was alone.

 

“Goddamnit!” He yelped, wiping at his lips. “Knew I shouldn’t have downed the damn drink, sorry Rio!” He blinked, hearing his words echoing in his mind. He had just apologised for distressing his child. With a sigh, John readily accepted that this was the first of thousands of apologies to come.

 

There were people milling about as rush hour snuck upon him, silhouettes all blurring as his mind formed wild shapes and blinding colours.

 

John’s left eye twitched, his shoulders slumped. He could feel the man’s presence before he could see him.

 

Raising to his full height, he wrapped both hands around himself and bit into his bottom lip.

 

“For Christ’s sake, John.”

John stiffened.

 

“John, Johnny!” The voice called.

 

John couldn’t move, his feet were rooted to the ground. His lip began to tremble, his hands began to shake as he clutched at the soaked fabric tighter. He hastily buttoned it up, something he never did and fingered his red scarf.

 

“John, not again. What have you been drinking?”

 

John swatted away the hand before it had the chance to land on his quivering right shoulder.

 

He began to shuffle, ramming his hands deep into his coat pockets.

 

“Don’t fucking touch me!”

 

“John?” The voice sounded bleary, inching closer and closer. “John, what the hell is all this?”

 

John was finally moving. He hightailed it in the other direction.

 

“John! You can’t keep fucking running from me.”

 

Fuck yeah I can.

 

“Bloody hell.. John, baby!”

 

John froze, crutches threatening to fall from his grasp. His mouth hung open, panting, as he slowly tilted his heavy head back.

 

“Johnny, Baby, please- just, talk to me!”

 

Baby.” He repeated, in a short breath.

 

His eyes were watery, blurring over the blonde silhouette.

 

“Baby.” John repeated, voice like stone, wrapping his arms around himself before stumbling backwards.

 

He took a final glance, a weak stare into those bleary blue eyes and John was hobbling… he didn’t know where. He slipped across the street, murky puddles lapping up his calves, his boot soaked and chains clinking as the crutches barely kept him aloft.

 

John pretended not to hear the constant calls of his name: First, actual first, middle and last. John found a secluded shelter and backed himself into the wall, throwing down his crutches and burying his face in his hands.

The words vodka, whiskey, champagne, tequila, were blaring in his mind. In pink neon, blinking over and over as a shrill siren rang through his head.

 

Blow.

 

John’s silk jacket pockets felt so incredibly empty without his stash of cocaine, having stripped away the cigarettes and flask.

 

Big C.

 

His hands ruffled through them basking in the illusion, the comfort, that they were still there. His saviours: survival kit. The only thing that would get him through this.

 

Line.

 

John had contacts everywhere. It was West London for Christ’s sake, he could be baked out of his mind within the hour if he knew the right people.

 

Ball.

 

He sure as hell did.

 

Snow.

 

There was a whole Rolodex of places, names beaming in bright lights that blinded him behind his eyes. Endless phone numbers, endless names… John was well aware of what he craved. It was far too easy for him to get it.

 

Bump.

 

Bump? Coke baby, always coke baby.

 

He slammed his head back into the wall, over and over, adding insult to over stimulated, imaginative injury.

 

The words white, white, white, pulsed through his veins, lighting sparks across his skin, making his mouth water and his nose twitch. Bringing a hand up to his eyes, he rubbed at them profusely, barely biting back his screams of frustration and cowardice. His whole body was trembling, the neon whizzing about his head cast a ray of violent, dizzying spells. He fought to keep himself upright, slamming his head back into the wall and letting his cries of pain break free.

 

“White lines!” He ground out, voice shrill. “Fucking.. b-blow away. Shit!”

Chapter Text

Lights shone. Shots poured. Lights blared. Lines chopped. Lights burnt. Shots downed. Lights blinded. Flashing red and black, red and black. Surging in euphoria, higher and higher, he’s never coming down.

 

The stench of leather and extortion was rife, violently penetrating the sticky heat of sweaty bodies that filled the dance floor in a black blur. The sea of men roared. Drinks were poured and saliva was shared. Powder was huffed and skin was bared.

 

Spliff in hand, he was traipsing, falling, howling as he rode the waves. The destination was blinding, enticing, a pleasure he’d never even known. Hand down his own leathers, fumbling to have them ripped free.

 

He was on his knees, slick metal enclosed around both wrists. Stretching out, hissing at the light that doused his form in the devils red. Fingers pried. Skin stretched. He screamed, writhing and bucking wild. Hips cocked, nails raked across his sides. Hands clutched tight, bruising deep within the shadows.

 

He was slapped, choked, taken faster and deeper. The slap of slick skin on skin was violent,  groans ripping from multiple throats, damp fingers abusing over stimulated flesh. He slammed his wrists into the wall, back arching, voice hitching, cock surging as he was filled. Over and over.

 

Juices rained down on him. Juices thrust deep inside him. Pretty face caressed and yanked from side to side. Lips bruised. Eye swollen. Begging for more, trembling with the immense want.

 

John’s body convulsed, the highs of orgasm so intense that he was crying: tongue desperate for another hot mouth to claim it. To be dominated, shamed, to be fucked within an inch of his life.

 

Another line and he was on all fours, whips dangling from all around him. Erect members dripping onto his drenched skin. He panted, mouth dry. Beads prodded. Beads filled. A rough hand on himself, tugging with no finesse. He was stretched, slapped, bruised and burning.

 

Lights shone. Metal clinked closed. Lights blared. Tawse pierced skin. Lights burnt.  He was suspended. Lights blinded. Flashing red and black, red and black. Surging in euphoria, higher and higher, he’s never coming down.


***

Awakening to a sea of loose limbs and rumpled bedsheets, John was well and truly on a freight train to the worst crash of his life. Having blacked out sometime shortly after his fourth cock of the night, face down as he was driven into his own mattress, his hair was ruffled; head pounding with pulsating beat after beat.

 

Groggily, he pushed himself up to take in his sights. His bedroom had been trashed, sheets sticky and condom wrappers littered his carpet. Deftly avoiding the huge body to his left, he hobbled out of the bed and clutched the wall as he slid into his connected bathroom.

 

He couldn’t even turn on the light. The, surely, afternoon sun was enough as it broke through his blinds. Squinting, he clung to his sink. John almost had a heart attack at seeing another figure naked, dripping, in his freaking bath tub. Who, once he had had a closer inspection and ignored the sudden surge of oxygen down south, was not alone.

 

He couldn’t count. The numbers hurt his head and bringing his hand up in front of his face to count on his fingers was far too demanding at whatever the hell the time was. How many men? Women, wait no. N-no, no women. Women aren’t needed… there. Fuck.

 

John whirled back around so he faced the mirror again, keeping his weight off of his almost healed foot. His bloodshot eyes widened in surprise before narrowing in repulsion. Bringing a hand up he rubbed at them profusely, stopping in between movements to survey his body.

 

John screamed.

 

His skin was littered with bruises, fresh and sore. His backside had faint hand prints engraved into it which, when John made the idiotic mistake of running a finger over, made him hiss at the tenderness. It was then that the pain washed over his face, finally able to associate the bruise under his left eye. It was beginning to swell, still a ruby red that could rival the shade of his favourite Dior lipstick.

 

Speaking of lips, leaning even closer to the mirror, they were bruised. Bruised deep. He could see the bite marks and ran his tongue across his lower lip, wincing at the blood that had dried and was beginning to crust over.

 

John hadn’t even realised that he was being spoken too until he felt a sudden surge in body heat. A man, through his one good eye, appeared to be blonde strutted straight out of his bathroom. His skin was a delectable tan, lightly muscled and  his left arm was covered in ink. John had always liked tattoos but his slight needle phobia surely meant that he’d never be getting any or, at least, not for another couple decades. Maybe a tribute piece would be nice, someday.

 

His one non-swollen bleary eye shamelessly roamed the man’s butt as he retreated, beautifully round and perky before cursing the wasted opportunity of not catching sight of the situation up front.

 

He hadn’t heard a single word but what John could identify was that the men, two, three, wait no, four- Sweet fucking Christ- all bidding him a humble farewell amongst the whisper of retrieved clothing.

 

Which was incredibly weird in and of itself but, he figured, he was better off not questioning it.

 

“We’ll keep ya secret!” The guy doused in a leather jacket, studs and clingy jeans called; northern accent thick that John couldn’t place.

 

“My.. what secret?” Too many secrets. Too many bloody secrets.

 

The man just looked down at John above his aviators, hand waving ambiguously and John followed it with his mouth parted and eye wide.

 

He glanced down at himself, the engorged stomach, his entire body on show. He was speechless, mouth working fast but no words were being formed.

 

The other man, the hot blonde, simply winked. His eyes sparkled as he finished dressing himself in a tight white vest and denim shorts, ones that perfectly moulded to his lightly muscled body. He smirked as John had to fight with himself to tear his lustful eyes away, settling on something on his window sill.

 

“Big day today, Johnny!”

 

“Yeah, ya best get a move on!”

 

Now feeling incredibly embarrassed John plopped himself back down onto his bed. He hissed and flopped onto his side, ass not being able to take any pressure. He yanked the sheets up above himself, acting as though they hadn’t already been privy to those forbidden extra inches of flesh. That and, the protruding stomach that was finally beginning to really show.

 

“Is it, I mean.” He mumbles from his pillow, the realisation sneaking up on him. “Yeah, shit, it is.”

 

The four men shared looks, laughter and an overly camp embrace. John found himself burying his face back into his pillows, having caught a whiff of his sheets and coming to the immediate conclusion that it was all too much. Too stimulating.

 

“Oh, poor baby. He hasn’t a clue!” The guy who’s moustache would prove no match for Freddie Mercury bellowed, provoking further laughter from the rest of the group.

 

John was about ready to yell back when he bought his head up. The door had shut. They were letting themselves out. Well, they most certainly knew the way.

 

Scrambling to his knees, he pointedly ignored his semi as it brushed against his thigh. He flipped himself so he was facing his bedside table: littered in shot glasses and several burnt out cigarettes. He reached for his alarm clock- 14:23, huh. Not exactly an irregular occurrence- and desperately wracked his brain when—

 

“—Fucking hell, I’m so late” John called, stumbling out of bed. “Nick’ll kill me!”

 

***

He considered it a miracle that he brushed his teeth, added another several layers of hair product to his already crunchy mullet, shoved on a baggy shirt and trousers, yanked on a coat and was speeding through West London within half an hour. Already well aware he had missed his cue.

 

They were already disappointed in him, John knew that. He acted as though it didn’t hurt but, oh well.

 

Pulling up to a screeching halt outside the familiar sky scraper of doom, John slid out of his Aston Martin and crutched his way up the steps. This time it was Roger to buzz him up, the momentary relief radiating through the speaker.

 

John was thankful that although he spent the entire thirteen floor ride up again bashing his head against the back of the lift; he felt much more at ease than the last time.

 

Perhaps it was the last of the cocaine he hadn’t realised was still pulsing through his twitching veins. Either that or he had taken a serious blow to the head that had knocked all senses from him last night. It was most likely the latter, shit.


***

Keeping his head down, he tried with might to not let his detachment show or to vocalise it in an incredibly lewd, offensive way.

 

They had vocals now, a base layer of synths which meant the that he and Roger were about ready to work on percussion.

 

Roger though, he could see everything. From the shiner on his bottom lip, the flush in his face. John kept his sunglasses firmly in place the entire time which usually meant, to the other guys, that he was low tide crashing onto party beach. However this time, fingers tapping irritably atop of his thigh, he knew he was having anything but fun. Roger knew that. John was well aware that Nick did too, even probably suspecting something more sinister behind his shades.

 

He wasn’t even sure how it had happened but Nick had upped and yanked him from his seat, pulling him out the door to corner him in the corridor.

 

“The hell?”

 

Nick’s pulse was surging, the flames sparking atop of the surface. John was thankful that he had dyed his hair back to blonde, he was less intimidating that way although he knew better than to assume innocence and naivety from the keyboardist.

 

They spoke, harsh and blunt, for about twenty minutes. John barely biting back retorts and leaving in stupidly long silences when he had nothing plausible to say.

 

When Nick spoke, voice like stone, John could feel everything. Anything and everything. He felt his heart harden, crumble, patch itself together and finally, finally shatter into a thousand tiny shards of piercing glass. Nick powered on and John tried desperately to cling to his tone. He failed, miserably, favouring the warning sirens and alarm bells that rang in his own head.

 

“When were you going to tell me?”

 

“Tell you what, Nicky? You’re going to have to be a little more specific.” John’s eyes hit the floor.

 

A soft, dexterous hand clutched at his chin to angle his face back down to Nick. John slumped, back braced against the wall, barely able to hold his gaze.

 

“John.”

 

He sputtered incoherence, idiocy, the whole lot. Nick perused him, cornering him, both knowing full well who was going to win this band battle.

 

Nigel!” He boomed, arms folded across his navy sequin blazer.

 

John was well and truly caught like the deer who get ran over by the headlights, never mind just being seen. He engulfed a shaky breath, head hitting the wall hard. Staring up at the ceiling, he ran the words in his mouth.

 

Surprisingly, Nick delivered the blow for him.

 

“I know, John. I’ve known for a while.”

“Known what? What do you mean you.. what do you know about me?”

 

Nick raised an eyebrow, dusty pink lips pouting. “About the baby, idiot.”

 

John was stunned into silence. It was a miracle that he wasn’t screaming but that didn’t stop him burying his face in Nick’s shoulder and bawling.

 

“You fucking... how the hell do you even know?!” He spat, more into Nick’s shoulder than anything. “I tried, tried so damn hard and you just.. mother fucker.”

 

He felt two hands clutch at him, massaging his back in small and circular motions as tears stained the satin. Nick held him nice and tight, being the rock John needed in that moment.

 

He remained in the embrace until his cries dulled to quickened breaths and finally a choked off hiccup. Reluctantly, John pulled away and kept his gaze firmly on the tile beneath his feet.

 

“Why did you not mention it to me before?”

 

John screwed his eyes shut, desperate to prevent another rainstorm.

 

“I’m not mad at you, if that’s what you’re so afraid of. What are you so afraid of?”

 

John’s head snapped up, stained with tear tracks. “Everything.” He rasped, full of shame.

 

His mouth dropped open as he felt the air closing in on him, turning and returning to choke him and end his suffering right in that very corridor.

 

“I t-thought that, uh” John hastily swiped at his eyes, “you would be—“

 

“—Well, I was incredibly surprised when I realised but that had more to do with the fact of you wanting to keep it. I honestly did not see that one coming.” Nick admitted, trailing off with a small chuckle. “And Charlie of all men… you really got fucked up didn’t you baby brother?”

John tried to laugh and found that he couldn’t. He bought his hand to his face, bruised lips began to chew a cuticle.

 

“You should also stop that.” Nick batted John’s hand away from his face. “John, Johnny, look at me. Look at me.”

 

He didn’t budge.

 

“Nigel. Look at me or I’ll begin my interrogation into that black eye.” He gestured to John, surveying the settling bruise.

 

John slowly raised his gaze. Nick’s smile was warm, his eyes tinged with something he couldn’t quite identify. He simply held out both arms and John fell into step. He flung himself at Nick, gangly arms wrapping around his slender body in a comforting embrace. 

It was like coming home after a six month pilgrimage full of blaring guitar solos and crack. 

 

“When did you, you know.. shit, when—“

 

Always one to know exactly where John’s (mostly sober) head was at, Nick eloquently finished his sentence: “When I found out you’re carrying human life.” He paused, letting it linger in the air with a chuckle, “That’ll take a long time to get used too, I’ll tell you that.”

 

John smiled. It was weak and didn’t reach his eyes but still, it was progress.

 

“I had noticed something was amiss months ago, we all did. But I couldn’t put my finger on it.”

 

“Still, when? What? How? Why? And the other question word. When?” John yelped.

 

Who.” Nick enforced.

 

“That too.”

 

Nick delivered a single, heavy glance as the realisation hit him. As though someone had whacked his bass into the back of his head. Shit but did it hurt. 

 

“It was the hospital right? You found out at New Years?” John muttered, eyes finally focusing on Nick’s own, who simply nodded. “Sly fucker.”

 

“Are you calling me sly, Nerdy Nigel? I should be saying that too you, keeping me in the dark all this time.”


“Nerdy?”

 

“Naive. Narcissistic. Nauseating. Neurotic... They are the perfect summation of a certain Tigger so, take your pick.”

 

Neurotic? Now, did that sound interesting.

 

“Fair play.” He added they final word in a whisper, more into his hand than actually into the real world. “Cunt.”


“Such foul language from such an innocent looking, man-whore of a father. No child should be bought into the world heading you run that pretty mouth.”

 

“Wait, what? Man-whore?” John snapped his head up, an adorable confusion atop his guise. “Shit, Nicky. Gonna need a swear jar!”

 

Both men broke out into fits of laughter, Nick’s bellow harmony with John’s cackle.

 

“A fucking swear bucket.”

 

Nick continued: “A crate.” The laughter began to fizzle and John hiccuped. “I just wish that you had spoken up earlier. Christ, Johnny. How are you doing this alone?”

 

“I’m not alone. I’ve had Roger and Andy by my side, they’re always by my side.” The words just rolled off of his tongue, the latter he was no longer so sure off.

 

Nick let the lack of conviction in John’s voice slide. “Still, I just wish you had spoken to me about it beforehand. We’re supposed to be the best of friends.. brothers. It’s not the sort of thing you can keep in the dark and well, that stomach can’t be hidden forever.”

 

John looked down at himself and heaved out a hefty chuckle. “Well, you’ve got me there, Bates. I’ll need your help keeping it outta the press though, I’ve come close a couple times.”

 

“But of course, Nigel. You should not be alone like this, in your state. I won’t allow it.”

 

The ghost of something vaguely comforting painted John’s face. He bought his hand up and again had it swatted away before his teeth could sink in.

 

“Thank you, Nick, I really.. I—“

 

“Don’t mention it. You never do anyway, greedy asshole!”

 

Nick had him there.

 

***

 

They were out in the corridor for near an hour, both now sat on the floor laughing and joking about everything from how idiotic John had been to keep himself hidden from Nick, why Nick had refrained so long from telling him he had always known and somehow now they were planning the big reveal.

 

“A pregnancy photoshoot? Seriously?! Isn’t that like, oh I don’t know, for women who are incredibly vain and conceited?”

 

John cut himself off at the raise of Nick’s brow. “Oh, har-har. Laugh at the incredibly vain and conceited omega who will let his big brother plan and execute his pregnancy photoshoot!” John was now laughing through his words, sounding so foreign as they rolled off of his tongue. “It better have an edge, nothing soft and floaty. I mean it, Nicky!”

 

Together they both sat there planning: the logistics and tactical manoeuvres. The ideas were bouncing off of each other perfectly, they were in such a melodic sync that John’s chest felt light and he knew that Rio definitely approved.

 

“Alright, alright. Keep your maternity underwear on.”

 

“Hey! I don’t even have any. Am I supposed to have some?” John cocked his head. “I’ve never even heard of them.”

“Have you read into Omega pregnancy at all?” Nick stated bluntly, knowing full well what John’s answer would be.

 

He shook his head. “It was just, just so hard to.. I don’t know. Hard to believe for so long. Does that even make sense? Like, the first time we played Brighton. When Tel Aviv opened the curtains upon the incredible crowd of screaming fans, every teenage girl in Britain seemed to have her own teenage meltdown vaguely in time to its pulsing beat. It’s all so bloody surreal and I don’t think I really could believe it until I saw it. Saw her. At the ultrasound. I have another booked for the end of March, hopefully then I can see her properly.”

 

“You found out the gender?”

 

John paused to lick his bottom lip. “Not uh, exactly. It was the position or something. The doctor said we would know for sure the next visit but he, they, both seemed so damn sure on a girl. Holy fuck, I’ve had it in my head for weeks now that I’m having a daughter.”

 

“I bet she’s a beauty.”


John had never answered back fast. “You fucking know it. My Rio, am absolute stunner.”

 

Laughter broke out, the keyboardist clutching his chest with mirth.

 

“Did you just.. Rio?! Oh sweet Lord, Johnny. Don’t tell me you’re actually naming your child after a place, one that you’ve never even visited! That’s just.. oh my fucking God!” Nick was cackling, tears forming from behind his eyeliner.

 

Wrapping an arm around John’s neck, he was encouraged to let his head fall into the junction of where Nick‘a navy satin collar fizzled out into his neck.

 

“N-no, I won’t. But for the remainder of the nine months, we are going by Rio. Don’t like it, tough!”

 

Nick’s laughter began to die down.

 

You’re nowhere near smart enough to come up with that on your own. Come on Tigger, out with it! Who gave you the—“

 

“—I can perfectly come to these ideas by myself, thank you very much.”

 

Nick hummed his disbelief, rolling his eyes so hard that they could see his brain. His brain which, to John at least, was shimmering with endless glitter and tied off with a lush satin bow. Glitter that would match his suits, it would change every day. He loved it, only wishing that he too could have some sparkle in his head.

 

“It was either Andy’s stroke of genius or you’re seeing an obstetrician with a serious Duran fetish.”

 

“Maybe not so much Doctor Adams but his receptionist. Boy, she was practically creaming herself when I gave her an autograph!” John broke off into a chuckle. Then, softer, “What are ya going to do with me, Nicky?”

 

“Buy you endless rounds of baby naming books and force you into lamaze classes.”

 

“La— what?”

 

“Seriously, Nigel?”

 

John couldn’t suppress his grin. “You wanker, I know what they are!”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Nick had him there. Oh well.

 

“How many weeks are you?”

 

John paused, trying to calculate and failing miserably. “It’s March in a couple days so, uh, about twenty- ish?”

 

Nick just rolled his eyes. “So we have another twenty-ish weeks to educate you and ensure that you can still hold a bass over that stomach.”

“Hold a bass over my.. Holy fuck. I hadn’t even thought about that!”

 

John broke away, brown eyes landing back on Nick’s hazel as he held out a hand and helped John back into a standing position. He leant heavily against the wall, feeling a little shaky whilst he got his weight in the right place.

 

“Don’t look at me. You’re the bassist here, you’ll have to work it out.” Nick winked, knocking on Simon’s door.

 

The panic sunk in again as John watched Nick’s figure blur back into the nicotine fuelled, overworked and near ready to perspire, musical frenzy. It was then he realised that intense vocals, picking up speed and fumbling with different keys, were drifting down the hallway.

 

“That fatal kiss is all we need now, isn’t it, Rio?” A smile tugged at his lips before graduating into a full blown, much needed grin. “Indeed it is, you clever thing.”

 

Nick peered his head, a mish mash of dirty blonde fading into black, out of the door.

 

“You're already talking to it and everything! That’s adorable!” He mocked, eyes wide and beaming.

 

The embarrassment sunk in quick but John couldn’t bring himself to care, not one bit.

 

“Move your molasses, Taylor. Wait-“ Nick held his hand up, black nails catching the light, “cover your eye.”

 

John fumbled for his sunglasses. “Thanks, big brother.”

 

***

 

He could hear Roger drumming on the table: the beat strong even if it was only one layer of intense sound. Andy was plucking away at his guitar strings, delivering fret after fret of pure power.

 

Slipping back on his sunglasses, he dived headfirst into the fray: a beautiful smile painting his lips and a sudden joy radiating from his stance. He kept his longline, oversized black jacket buttoned, shoving his hands inside the pockets as he rocked back and fourth to the beat.

 

He basked in Nick’s warm smile as he stood at his keyboards. John smirked to himself as the keyboardist added a distinct snare- like synth layer, horns and a blaring sound that seemed to resemble a bullet tearing through the air. John grinned even wider at being privy to that special little dance his big brother always did when he was well into the groove.

 

“A chance to find a phoenix for the flame. A chance to die.” Andy joined in, two perfect sets of vocals; smooth and mystical contrasting abrasive and wretched, reaching a whole new octave.

“But can we dance into the fire. That fatal kiss is all we need.”

 

Andy strutted over to him, guitar in hand and signalled to John as he smiled his own huge, crooked smile.

 

“C’mon Taylor, let us ‘ave it!”

 

“Dance into the Fire!” He sang not at all in time or in key. “Fuck Ands, what’s the next—“

 

“—The fatal sounds of broken dreams.” Simon belted and John’s eyes widened.

 

The threesome rattled off the chorus, gaining in momentum. Gaining in clarity. Nobody could deny the hope that beamed from John, even though Simon’s words had struck a little closer to him than he wanted himself to admit. Dismissing the thought, a smile returned to his face and there was a glint of something special hidden not too deep in his concealed eyes.  

 

It was working. Whatever the hell he did, or more to the point didn’t do, was working. It would be baby steps, small and over calculated but at this rate; they’d be filming atop of the Arc De Triomphe or the Notre Dame in no time. And the Eiffel Tower, of course, John just couldn’t have his Paris fantasy without it.

Chapter Text

Now inching towards the five month mark: John’s March had so far been a whirlwind. He had been back and forth to the UK, setting up camp with Nick, finishing up Duran’s next single and searching for a film crew ready to make the music video. Simon and Nick has scoured locations and were set on the Eiffel Tower. John couldn’t conceal his excitement when he had heard; cuddled up in his golden satin sheets back in New York with Roger and Andy on either side.

 

He was finally rid of that fucking boot that had trapped his right foot since January. It felt strange to walk on but he was getting the hang of it.

 

But what had been the most incredible milestone of his month, only so far: Power Station were set to release their album on the twenty-fifth, was his second ultrasound. This time both Roger and Nick were with him and he was incredibly gracious for their support. He again was overcome by immense feelings so intense that he couldn’t draw his eyes away. His little bundle of joy was no longer so little although still looked like a sea horse. John could start to pick out features on his own and when he was told that he indeed was having a baby girl: his heart had swollen in his chest and he was crying oceans. Maybe enough tears were shed that Nick could get a cruise over.

 

All sorts of thoughts flowed through his mind. He wondered if she would grow to have his cut throat jawline and nimble, bass ready fingers. There was no doubt that she’d be undeniably tall; the genes practically confirmed that already.

 

Would she be a show girl or more timid such as himself? Would she even want a life in the spotlight? If she didn’t, if handling the life of rockstar wasn’t for his daughter; John was not yet so sure he could bid it all goodbye. Ultimately, when the time came, Duran would be forgotten. Right? They were losing popularity, the fan base were growing older and they were growing with them; into all directions.

 

Maybe now was the time to step back from it all. Once A View To A Kill premiers, there would be no stopping John from stepping back and focusing on himself for a couple of years.

 

Who was he kidding? The last thing he wanted to focus on would be himself. But Rio though, she was shining. Shining bright, getting ready to show him all she can.

***

The Power Station album release had been a huge success. The album was already gaining credibility, the likes of Some Like It Hot already making it into the charts had John grinning from ear to ear. He couldn’t believe his luck upon hearing Get It On playing through the stereo in his limousine for the first time. Both he and Andy had shared a look, Andy and Robert shared a congratulatory shot. Tony was beaming as he threw an arm around John and pulled him into an embrace.

 

“I can’t bloody wait to see Bang A Gong on TOTP back home!” 


Robert cocked his head, with a chuckle. He knew full well what John had meant. “It’s Get It On, Johnny.” 

“Shit, yeah. It’s the, isn’t that the uh, you know, American title or something? We’ve been here so long that I keep getting it confused.”


Both Robert and Tony nodded their approval. Andy raised his near empty beer bottle.

 

John just wished that Roger could be here. He had played for these tracks and was indeed a huge part to his sound. John still felt an immense guilt. They were sharing Roger: Power Station and Arcadia. And, in Roger’s own words, he truly felt as though he’s got one leg on one and one leg on the other.

 

“Like he’s got elastic bollocks. Typical Rog.” John laughed, although it didn’t last long, into Tony’s strong shoulder.

 

“Who’s got what now?” Robert bellowed, a little tipsy.

 

“I ‘eard Rog and bollocks. Not in that order.” Andy stated, never the suave one.

 

John didn’t answer. He replayed Roger’s words over and over and felt his head spin.

 

Drinks had been poured around him all night, countless tempters had all but downed shots for him. They all made offerings and John had just stood there, half wondering if they would genuflect before him so that he would accept their offering- the other half of him wondered how in holy hell would he get through the night without a single drink.

 

What would the press say? It was completely unlike him. He hadn’t been promoted to ‘The Wildest Of The Wild Boys’ like Andy had whilst being in the US, which still surprised and even hurt him a little, but a completely sober and alert John fucking Taylor seemed out of the question. Besides, no one would buy it anyways.

 

He remembered the tequila he had downed when Robert wasn’t looking. He hadn’t refused a smoke nor a line. However, John didn’t really feel a high. He was starting to wonder why he hadn’t fallen victim to another night of blazing euphoria and came to the immediate conclusion: he had a new high, it would come naturally. A much more time consuming high that was forcing him to grow up and get a new perspective on his world.

 

John wasn’t seeing his fame in such distinct black and white anymore. He only hoped, maybe only the cocaine hoped, he would be seeing the world in all the colours of those models down in Antigua once the album hit the top ten. When Roger was back for a press junket. When Power Station broke it, in a big way, in the UK. Nick being proud of hearing his baby brother’s pounding bass on BBC Radio One, maybe even beside Arcadia later in the year. When Power Station would go on tour.

 

But more importantly, John noted with confidence, that he would be cherishing the visions of his world that would surely arrive when she was finally born. Her light; her colour palette. It would surely expand far beyond his own beloved black and white with red hues for optimum danger.


***

John was back in England with the sole purpose of the budgeting the next video. They had gotten the green light and the soundtrack was almost complete.

 

It had startled him so much that John had dropped his fork full of spaghetti into his lap, tomato sauce painting his cream trousers.


“You’re starving my daughter you know?” Nick was howling at the pissed expression as John hurriedly wiped at his crotch.

 

John readily agreed, as long as Nick dyed his hair back to blonde for it. Nick wouldn’t let him backtrack on his offer even when the doubts began to flood his mind back in his bed later that night. John lay awake, restless, thinking over Nick’s words again and again. He knew he would have to pluck up the courage and do what was right. Nick wanted him and John would be there.

 

Duran Duran were hanging by multiple creative- difference, spotlight sharing, threads enough as it is. He would stop at nothing to be included. He was thankful, truly, although the prospect of another unscheduled meeting did scare him shitless.


***

John scrambled to the set, ducking past the crew and trying to immerse himself in the crowd.

 

“If he catches me, Nick’ll be dead.” He muttered, scratching his nose. “Fucking dead.”

 

He caught up with Nick pretty quick, the stench of all the excess hairspray lured him to his flame. John was the moth to Nick’s gothic, intoxicating flame. He had seen clips of the Election Day video and was relieved Nick hadn’t asked him to feature in it. If John was honest with himself, which lately he realised he really had to be, Nick’s look was scaring him a little. John thanked no-one in particular that he had held up his end of the bargain: bright blonde hair glimmered in the studio light.


John still couldn’t believe that they had managed to coerce Grace Jones to feature on the track. Now that, goddamnit, he was insanely jealous.

 

“It’s just a single scene, right? As you said?”

 

Although Nick found it incredibly idiotic, he loved John too much to upset him and promised his scene would be over quick and he could have security help him scurry out the backdoor.

 

“So, what am I doing again? Just hold this and smile like a twat?”

 

“Just do what you do best: stand there like a pretty twat. You’re coming out the closet, too.”

 

“What!” John perked up, a flush of embarrassment coating his cheeks.

 

Nick just laughed, low and soft. He crooked a finger, the black nail polish glinting in the candlelight. John followed, almost in a trance as Nick lured him closer and closer. Further and further from the brightness of the outside world and thrusting him deep into Arcadia: the gothic fantasy that was once both Nick’s and John’s deepest desire.

 

Upon first hearing the band’s actual name, and having prototype album art thrown in his face by Andy back in the states, John had shed a tear at the nostalgia. All the memories, the torture he, no, Nigel had put himself through all those years ago. Together he and Nicholas had battled for weeks to come up with the perfect band name: ‘Arcadia’ being one of the favourites on his roster.

 

It was still incredibly weird to hear it and see it plastered all over his mind. As though Nick was trying to delve deep into John’s subconscious to uncover Nigel. To penetrate through the safe that had locked all those precious memories of the two of them away.

 

John was finally ready to admit that even without Nick at his side, he was happy. Even without Nick’s hand’s on his waist or resting head on his chest. He felt a sudden pang at the feel of those lips, of course John would never forget. They had both been wearing the same lipstick: ruby red lips had shyly touched; smeared and sparked something deeper between them. It was more than friendship: the bond was far too deep to be broken. A young, shy and impressionable Nigel had loved Nicholas Bates from day one and John was only thankful that Nick still wanted him to be a part of his project, even if it was only for a brief two-second cameo. How could John have declined?

 

Nick calling to him, the clouds of his day dream parted and John took his cue. He listened carefully, taking a hold of the scroll, the contract and slid behind the door.

 

The makeup artist finished him off, adding a hint of blush to his cheeks so the low orange light wouldn’t wash out his pale complexion.

 

“Still gorgeous. Even with that stomach.” She rasped, eyes firmly on John’s own as they widened.

 

He couldn’t think of anything to say so he just smiled, grabbing her face and angling her even closer towards him.

 

He flashed her an incredible dream boat smile and, impossibly, she melted. John couldn’t deny that knowing he could still make women weak at the knees in his current state was a relief. Maybe he could retain his sex-symbol status even as a father. Didn’t women like men who could handle babies more?


***

John had pretty much been tucked under the arm of one security guard and bulldozed- until Nick yelled ‘be careful, EMI has invested far too much in him for you to ruin him now’ and John had flipped him off with a laugh- him out of the studio. As far as John was aware, he hadn’t been spotted by anyone significant whilst shooting.

 

Although he couldn’t help but be tormented by his thoughts. What if he had seen me? What if he hates the shot? Does he even know I was here? Did Nick tell him he asked me to feature?

 

Did they shoot above the waist? They better have shot above the bloody breasts!

 

Knowing Simon would be wrapped up with shooting for another three hours or so, Nick met John back at their recording studio.

 

Hovering at the sound deck, he gave John a proper listen to The Flame.

 

Straight to the heart,

Straight for this precious shining.

How do you dare?

Step into my flame.

 

John had a huge smile painting his face throughout the entirety of the track and was drumming along with the beat. Nick knew what he was doing and a pang of guilt filled him: John was marking out where the bass notes should be. 

 

“I still cannot believe that look! What were you even thinking? Cheeky sod.” Nick stated, when the line in which John would come out of the closet played.

 

Never give me any chance,

To wander back from this innocence.

 

Nick raised his eyebrows twice in quick succession, with a huge smile that exposed his teeth in lieu of what John had improvised earlier.

 

What was John wandering into too? Back to Duran? Wasn’t that what the contract had meant? Would there even still be a Duran Duran for him to return too? Would Nick even still want him? Would he still even want… Simon?

 

“Cheeky sod indeed” John grinned, bringing his second pickle to his mouth.

 

“I’m not supposed to be laughing in that video! It’ll ruin the aesthetic.”

 

John cocked his head. “But you did. Looks as though I have succeeded in ruining another Rhodes’ masterpiece! Oh, how will we both continue to bloody live?” He exclaimed, gesturing wildly, far too over dramatic that perhaps he could rival Simon’s own nerdy and awkward acting.

 

“You should be an actor. That’s an Oscar-worthy performance right there.” Nick deadpanned.

“Blow me! I can act just fine, I’ll have you know.”

 

Who was John kidding? There was no way he was an actor. Or…

 

Oh shit yeah: Time Cop. A single episode, a complete flop. John shook his head, dismissing the thought.

 

Time Cop?”

 

John’s mouth dropped open. “H-how, fuck, how did you even… when did I even tell you about that?”

 

Nick didn’t answer. He raised a jet black eyebrow and making that face he would before taking a drag of his cigarette: all cool and collected.

 

John thought it incredibly sweet that Nick no longer smoked around him.

 

“I’m going to be on Miami Vice too so suck on that. A chance to thoroughly redeem myself.”

 

Nick barked out his laughter, it was anything but graceful for once.

 

“Fuck you, Nicky!” He joined in. Both men didn’t believe a word he had said.

 

“Thanks for these, Nick.” He licked his lips, the juice having stained them, and sighed at the taste. “I’ll always prefer the ones here than in the US. It’s all processed bollocks over there, you know?”

 

Nick sat across from him, lips quirking up. “Typical Johnny. Not even pickles are safe from his wrath!” Then, lighter: “No Johnny, I don’t. I’ve never been a pickle fan and you know that!”

 

“Yeah, I do.”

 

“Besides, I learnt the hard way. Now I’ll always carry a jar with me and have at least two awaiting your gracious return to my place.” He smirked as John bit into his third pickle.

 

“Pregnancy cravings are fucking weird. Like, I have no idea what I want but Rio.. she uh, she’ll just scream for something and she’ll get it.” John admitted, a slight tings of embarrassment was evident in his voice.

 

Nick smirked even harder at that, barely biting back his laugh.

 

“Sound familiar?” He winked.

 

“Andy?” John sounded coy, pretty sure Nick hadn’t meant the guitarist.

 

“Him too.” John nodded his approval with a small grin, “you better get that child of yours under control, Nigel. At this rate she will be calling the shots and ordering you both— never mind, let her have her way.” Nick broke off chuckling, clutching the lapels of his rich, noir jacket.

 

John pouted as he licked the savoured pickle juice from his fingers. He took his time, devouring each digit. He pointedly ignored the bubbling laughter he was provoking from the keyboardist but couldn’t deny how good it made him feel.

 

Nick’s laugh was absolutely precious and John was honoured to be privy to such a private show.

Chapter Text

John lay awake, insomnia having claimed his tired soul for yet another restless night. Listening to the light April breeze as it brushed against the blinds, he yawned. He propped himself up: naked limbs sprawled out atop the huge bed; crumpling the rich; golden satin sheets. He fisted at them, knocking his head backwards onto the headboard with a dull thud.

 

The same narrative had overtaken enough of his nights that he knew, purely by the sounds, what the time roughly was. Sure, his party days were far from over but he’d be fooling nobody if he stated that he was still one hundred and ten percent positive on backing himself fulfilling that lifestyle. He’d had a good, coke-fuelled, run.

 

At this moment, the lull told him that no more limousines would be passing by that night and he was too high up for any street illuminations to bleed through the thick, velvet curtains.

 

“Almost 04:00, time for the last stragglers,” He paused, rubbing at his eyes, “to head.. back for drinks.. home.” Home. “Whatever.”

 

He fought the urge to dwell deeper into the thoughts: being back in his apartment in London; having Simon stay for the night and he’d be hoisted up into those strong arms and thrown down, animalistic, atop of his own bed and they’d be wresting, clothes flung to the floor: the goal for Simon to end up on top to swiftly, lovingly enter—

 

Again, his head collided with the wall. The mullet was mussed, greasy, strands falling into his eyes. He noted that first thing in the morning, well no, after he finished voiding the admittedly few contents of his stomach: he should wash it. He couldn’t remember when he had actually taken the time to properly wash his hair; the lingering stench of hairspray made him scrunch his nose in distaste.

 

Tipping his head back, his eyes slipped shut before he groaned; lurching forward with a sudden bolt of pain. He went into panic mode, ready to lash out as he felt it again thrash at him.

 

It was duller, the second time. Approaching more of a sharp twang than a sharp jolt. John stabled his quickened breaths, clammy hands running across his naked arms. He was trembling, bodily, as his arms dropped lower. Subconsciously, or maybe consciously- he didn’t stop to dwell upon it, a huge palm settled on his stomach. 

 

He felt uncomfortable again, this time his chocolate brown eyes shot open at the sudden movement. They beamed, already welling up.

 

“Sweet fucking Jesus.” John voice cracked, rubbing small circles across his chest.

 

She tapped, knocked, then kicked. Calling him, beckoning him to feel her; to relish the feeling that she was here and moving. Most definitely alive and kicking.

 

“Oh Rio, Rio.” It was shaky, small and lyrical, “You really are a dancer.”

 

John’s brows furrowed, replaying what he had just uttered in his mind. He couldn’t help but bark out a snicker: he figured he’d never be the sort of father to talk to his unborn child like that but now; countless thoughts of playing to her, serenading her, were running through his mind.

 

He only hoped that she’d love a bass player: the tremors; the pulsing notes. The execution of power from such a big beat.

 

John must have been crying out louder than he thought as his bleary eyes caught the light that forced itself through the door to his suite. Clambering to his feet, he hunted for his boxers and headed to the door; huge hands carefully massaging his stomach to comfort her.

 

He hissed at the lights in the living space, searching for who had turned them on. Heading straight for Roger’s room, eyes still watery, he burst in to find him tossing and turning: another victim to the dead of night.

 

“John? Is everything—“ Roger cut himself off at John’s gigantic smile, radiating warmth.

 

“Shit, I didn’t mean too wake you but uh, you just have too.. you know, Rog, uh.” He trailed off, the realisation of his excitement and a sudden need to keep Roger awake to feel his… stomach. “Christ.” John heaved out his laughter, like bells, throwing his head back as he did so.

 

“The fuck are ya doin’ up?” A thick northern accent boomed from the doorway.

 

Andy, hair ruffled and pouting as his dressing gown hung open to expose his chest, strutted in. He regarded John, “at least you have boxers on this time. Gave us a bloody eyeful the other week.”

 

“And who’s fault is that?” He smirked, crossing his arms.

 

Andy didn’t answer.

 

John clambered onto Roger’s bed who immediately scurried to one side. John sighed, the delectable satin felt like heaven on his naked skin.

 

“She’s kicking! At least, I think she’s kicking. Whatever. Rio has her own drum beat!” He stammered out, tears threatening you fall again.

 

“The hell is she.. kicking?!” Andy recited, turning to Roger as both pairs of eyes widened comically in unison. “Wait, Rio? Tigger, did you seriously call her.. fucking Rio?”

 

All three Taylors broke out into a laughing fit, John swiping the tears from his eyes as his chest shook with mirth.

 

“Yeah, piss off. She’s Rio and she’s kicking.”

 

“You’re nowhere near smart enough to come up with something like that on your own, Johnny.” Roger regarded him, eyes roaming John’s near stark naked form. “Who’s idea was it?”

 

John was right, he was sure to be ripped apart but funnily enough: he couldn’t care less.

 

John deflated, muttering. “The doctor’s.”

 

Roger and Andy laughed harder, Andy slapping his knee the way John would when he was cackling and trying to stop himself before he gave himself the hiccups.

 

“Well, I suppose we’re doing this thing then.”

 

“Yes, you indeed are. C’mon Ands, assault me. Make me your bitch!”

 

Andy met the perverse look in John’s eyes, his mega-watt smile and, rolling his own light eyes, decided to give John what he apparently really wanted.

 

“Should I just.. where? Here?”

 

Andy slipped in beside John, who now took up the middle of Roger’s king size bed. Both men placed a hand: Roger’s supportive and strong contrasting well against Andy’s slender and slick; onto John. He moaned, then squealed as Rio took to the stage again, her own drumbeat vibrating through, unmistakable.

 

“Bloody hell.” Andy muttered, leaning closer. “How does it feel?”

 

John was giggling, eyes wide and sparking. “It’s the weirdest fucking thing, man. It just, ugh. I can’t even… describe how.. Christ. Ands, it feels amazing!”

He felt like a school boy who had just learnt about something vaguely over-stimulating for the first time. John wanted to say the example was the way his emotions had washed over him the first time he had been privy to the nude female anatomy in his biology text books however, if anything, he had felt this excitement (arousal?) for the first time when flipping page after page of fighter jets, tanks and weaponry. Then, more often than not, with Nick: sharing clothes; failing miserably at applying makeup and parading about the murky streets of Birmingham in a woman’s blouse, scarf and fire-engine red lips. Plus a delightful pasty pink blusher, he could never skip it; Nick simply wouldn’t have allowed him to skip it. And the eyeliner. Always lots of eyeliner.

 

He had always been a very peculiar little oddball, if he said so himself: Nigel.

 

“Don’t make me cry for your knocked up ass now, Johnny!” Andy joked, hastily wiping at his face. Then, to immediately lift the mood: “Typical Le-Bon, huh? Never does what’s rehearsed.”

 

Despite himself and the momentary ice that had frozen over out of nowhere, John sniggered although he wasn’t sure if Andy had stated those words in a particularly nice fashion.

 

Roger’s tone spoke of disbelief, John grinned again.“I can’t believe that one of us will actually have a child.”

 

Maybe this child would love to be parading about the filthy streets in the dead of night, holding a perfectly made up face high and not giving two fucks about who would frown upon them. Or maybe not. John hoped his little bundle of joy would inherit Nick’s makeup skills as opposed to his own: they would be doing them both a favour, there. And, not that he saw it as a bad thing, maybe not inherit his big brothers love for sequins and sparkle. It could get very messy and John was already a very disorganised man.

 

“I am still a child and Tracey wants kids.”

 

All three Taylors laughed in unison, bringing John back to reality. Andy was obviously not at all ashamed in his comment.

 

Hopefully, they would inherit John’s love for fashion: Male and female. Tight fitting and flowy. Leather and chiffon. Punk and angelic.

 

“So is John.”

I’m what?

 

“Precisely.”

 

Oh right, still a child. Focus.

 

Twits.” John stated, feigning being offended.

 

Turning to Roger, he raised an  eyebrow and delivered his best front page pout. Roger just chuckled again, at the prospect of John having confirmed his point.

 

“What ‘bout you?” Andy crawled up to Roger. “You and Gio see yourselves with kids someday?”

 

Roger nodded as a huge smile painted his beautiful face, eyes sparkling. Andy and John shared a look.

 

“Are you keeping something from us, Froggy?”

 

Roger slowly turned his head up to the smirk on John’s lips. “Call me that again and—“

 

“—Are you making babies and not telling us?” He waggled his eyebrows, leaning down into Roger’s space, who giggled. “He is! He’s broody!”

 

“What’ya talking ‘bout, Tigger! He’s here with you right now!” Andy, feigning innocence, knocked into John’s shoulder. “I don’t think he’d enjoy that very much, mate.”

 

Sniggers erupted again.

 

“What are ya talking about, Ands? You know he loves my ass!” John was howling, acting as though he hadn’t crawled into his drummers bed with the intention of having Roger feel him up.

 

“Sure, Johnny. How could anyone keep themselves outta there!” Roger blushed at Andy’s words.

 

“Watch it!” John’s voice was light, “my backdoor isn’t just, uh… open! Wait, shit!”

 

“It’s open to sexually precocious frontmen though!”

 

“Wanker!” John slapped the back of Andy’s head. It was only light but he acted as though it hurt, provoking more giggles from John.

 

“You cannot deny it, though, can you Johnny.”

 

John turned back to Roger, smirking, “Who’s side are you on, little frog?”

 

Perhaps it was the first time Roger wasn’t completely one hundred percent a democrat as he found his voice, “Not yours, you asshole!”

 

“Yeah, Frog-gy,” he let it linger. “I can bloody well tell!” John couldn’t hide his smile, placing his hands back on his stomach.

 

Neither man could stifle their laughter as they again bubbled at the surface.

 

Maybe his child would be forever embarrassed at the thought of their father parading about in women’s clothes, more makeup than was strictly necessary and half of a BDSM warehouse coating his pasty skin.

 

He pouted, dismissing the thought. Coming back to his senses, he let himself be enrapt in the silence.

 

John was incredibly thankful for the surprisingly easy going nature. He felt as though he was becoming more open about himself, his situation and he couldn’t hide the excitement at the prospect of not being the only soon to be father in the group. Assuming, that was indeed what Roger had meant.

 

Roger, who didn’t like the spotlight on him, had settled back down into the pillows. John leant towards him and ran his hand through Roger’s jay black hair, ruffling it with a little giggle. Roger just pouted, leaning into the embrace and causing John to laugh louder.

 

“Best get you some condoms, Rog.”

 

“Like you’re one to talk, Johnny!” Andy rasped.

 

John, with a pout, eyed him.

 

“Even know how they work?” Andy gave a lop-sided grin.

 

John again pouted. He gave an unceremonious middle finger and found himself trying not to laugh.

 

“It’s clearly not his responsibility.” Roger whispered and John had to do a double take.

 

The three of them were practically convulsing with laughter. Now wasn’t the time, nor could he form a light-hearted retaliation, against him being on the bottom.

 

He did like to switch but with Simon… well, he’d be on his knees faster than either man could sing ‘This is Planet Earth.’ That and, faster than Simon could take a single breath. His omega would be ready, waiting, dripping in anticipation knowing full well that he would be relinquishing control.

 

Oh yeah, current situation. Three near fully nude band mates sharing a bed discussing safe sex. The usual.

 

Minutes passed in near silence. John lay still, just listening to the other Taylors and their heartbeats. He listened to his child, who’s own rhythm was thrumming wild through his veins. He couldn’t help but smile brighter as he felt a kick again, Andy’s chuckle confirming to him that no, it wasn’t a dream. This was far from it. And here they were, freaking rockstars, lying awake at 04:30 with tender hands caressing his engorged stomach.

 

That prospect made John both want to hurl and cry. Thankfully, he was through with his tears and his stomach felt, if anything, for the first time: stable. As if his Rio’s movements were the only thing that could ground him; to remind him of the next and biggest step he would be taking in life.

 

Rio was a dancer. John couldn’t wait to find her on the sand.

Chapter Text

The sacred tape was flown across the Atlantic, wrapped over and over, as though if it fell into the wrong hands: it would be the end of the world. If this tape held more than the theme tune and some actual secrets to the universe; the band would be guaranteed top billing through endless Bond-esque shady deals; women trying to seduce them and pry for information; matter of life and death situations that would probably involve rope and guns to the head.

 

But this was the real world. They’d have their chance to immerse themselves in Ian Fleming’s head soon, they had to hear the track first.

 

Andy was fuming. He wound the tape over and over, ignoring Roger’s warning of wearing it out and them all forgetting what notes and accents they hit.

 

He was fuming over the lack of guitar. As was John. The two of them appeared buried, mercilessly plunged deep beneath Nick’s synths and Roger’s powerful drumbeat. He had immediately picked up on Andy’s warning siren and Roger just kept quiet; hiding any and all emotion he felt the track.

 

Things exploded pretty quick. Both Andy and John raging over the track. Andy tried to pull it apart, knowing full well why so little of the guitar sections had been heard.

 

“They’re fuckin’ mad at us, right? C’mon Rog, that’s it ain’t it? Mad we left them and that the albums doing great.” He spat, before taking a deep swing of his Budweiser.

 

“N-no, that can’t be it. They know better than that.” Roger muttered, eyes landing on John and looking for support.

 

The fight bled out of John in an instant. He felt tired, plonking down onto the living room sofa. He let his head fall into his hands, running them through his over grown hair. He winced as he yanked out a strand or two, before letting them flutter to the floor.

 

John had cut down to about three cigarettes a day, not every day: he prided himself on his off days and was determined to make it two. He lit his cancer stick, head lolling back into the pillows as the nicotine swirled about his head. That relaxed him some, he figured it was better that then both he and Andy cutting lines out of rage for a three day, guns blazing rave.

 

John couldn’t deny it: he was bitterly disappointed over the lack of both bass and guitars. Although he knew he hadn’t been the most agreeable or approachable throughout the entirety of the song’s production. He was already aware of the delay in bass but he did feel for Andy.

 

Although he hoped, prayed to the divinity who was sure to turn him away at heavens door, that when Andy was delivered his character’s background for the video he would perk up.

 

At some point in John’s wallowing, Andy had upped and sauntered out. The tape had been ripped from the stereo and now lay abandoned by John’s feet atop of the coffee table. Andy had taken his guitar with him, the other two Taylors clung to the harsh strum that seemed to emphasise all he was feeling.

 

Roger sat down beside John on the sofa, resting his head in his hand as he turned to face him. John raised his head and shuffled to get comfortable.

“How are you both feeling today, Johnny?”

 

John smiled, coming to bring a hand atop of his stomach. He might as well be honest, that’s what Roger would want to hear.

 

“Shattered. All this travelling, muscles ache that I didn’t even know I freaking had!” He fixed his chocolate browns on Roger’s own although Roger looked much more awake than John.

 

“Is there anything I can do for you? You want anything?” Roger was climbing out of his seat.

 

John was about to open his mouth but was silenced as Roger read his mind, already half way to their mini fridge. He returned moments later with water and pickles. Goddamn pickles, John perked up.

 

He chuckled eyeing the jar. “Thanks, Rog.”

 

“It’s a pretty strange craving, if you ask me.” He stated, flopping back onto the sofa besides John. Roger laughed at the glimmer in John’s eyes, how the tiredness had just seemed to evaporate.

 

“I wouldn’t” He paused to lick his fingers, “know ‘bout that. I’m just thankful it’s not like… uh, oh I don’t know, something weirder? Something that would make others gag?”

 

The sly look on the drummers face told John that he had just walked into a trap. Not that he knew what the trap was.

 

“Your very existence is enough to make some… gag.” Roger stated, voice unusually confident and John’s mouth hung open. “And not just the ladies.”

 

John was laughing so hard that tears were forming and now his stomach hurt. About fifteen different dirty scenarios, quickly arranged in order of deflowering the virgins to ruthless strap on’s and vibrating butt plugs formed in his head.

 

Solid Gold. Oh my god, what’s this?!

 

“Jesus, Froggy. You’re gonna kill me!”

 

Roger smirked.

 

John wouldn’t dare to admit it but recently, more often than not, if he could force himself to sleep he would be bombarded with erotic dream after dream. They were growing stranger, more wild and clear. It was as though he could see everything, touch every precious inch of skin that was so lustfully available in front of him. Behind him. All around him. Sometimes there was only one man, sometimes three or four. Sometimes their faces would be a blur and other times, times he couldn’t shake from his mind no matter how hard he tried, he knew exactly who was stood before him.

 

His hormones were surely driving him into madness, his own orgasms left him rocking well into the night, quaking in nothing but desperation and shame. He was finding it harder and harder to keep those.. urges, he supposed he could still call them, at bay. For his and his daughter’s sake.

 

He knew Roger would never judge him but he was also pretty sure that this was a new level of intimacy that the drummer wouldn’t want to breech.



Wait, what was he even thinking? It was Roger for Christ’s sake. Roger, who has the most beautiful smile to brighten up the most beautiful of faces. His eyes sparkle, his cheekbones are delightfully cut and profound. He’s so open, wearing his heart on his sleeve.

 

There he sat mere inches from John, hair ruffled, shirt half hanging out of his trousers; staring at him.

 

He must have said something, tongue diving down to lick at his bottom lip. If he had, John hadn’t heard anything.

 

It was far too late until John realised what he was doing. How he had somehow crept even closer, the space between them so small that it might not even exist. He had leant in, lips parted and gaze averted, just hovering: waiting. Waiting, full of tension not that he could define what type.

 

He couldn’t see Roger’s face nor could he find the strength to pull back and speak. He stood stock still, breath hitching as he could feel the warmth of the other man. How his scent filled John’s nostrils, how his very presence was visibly affecting him.

 

John had gotten close countless times before. He had always blamed the alcohol swirling violently through his system and the drugs clogging his better vision. But he didn’t have that anymore. Only the single lit cigarette as, like Nick, Roger now also refrained from smoking in his presence.

 

It dawned on John far too late that he had brushed his cheek up against Roger’s own, his hair pushing up against the smooth skin. His lips had caressed his cheeks but he hadn’t dared to delve any lower, those mere millimetres felt like a mile. He shouldn’t cross that mile, he couldn’t do that to them no matter how much he may have wanted too.

 

The mile was crossed and the fire was ignited within him, lips a flame as they moulded perfectly into Roger’s own. The kiss was slow, breathy, lips caressing every inch. John slowly broke away, both hands resting against Roger’s cheeks to perfectly frame his face.

 

“J-John. Johnny, please” Roger licked the moisture from his lips. “Don’t.”

 

Roger’s hands wrapped around his arms and pried them from his own face.

 

John couldn’t even deny himself the sudden impulse. It had been years of the perfect percussion and not only onstage.

 

“Johnny, I” John couldn’t look at him. “I.. uh.” His voice trailed off.

 

John had no clue how or when but there he now lay, alone, biting his bottom lip and overcome with embarrassment. It was almost as though he could feel those plush lips on his own, the warmth of them had been so incredibly stimulating that it was driving John further from reason. He found it increasingly more frustrating that he couldn’t control his urges, his body was thinking for itself and leaving his confused little head too far behind.

 

He couldn’t fathom anything Roger had said. He had only caught the glint in his eye as he had whispered something that was surely an apology, the seemingly unnecessary reminder that he had a loving wife at home.

 

John ground his head into the pillows as a single, hot tear rolled down his burning cheek. This broke way for more, coming in streams then torrents: again cursing his lack of bodily control. He felt sick and perverted all at once, wiping at his face not that the tears would stop.

 

He lay there motionless for however long, only the hasty rise and fall of his chest was the tell that he was still breathing. He forced himself into a slumber, eyes raw and irritated, without changing his clothes or putting out his cigarette.

 

He let it fall, catching the tail end of his satin jacket as he did so. It caught a spark, the sudden light enough of a distraction to pull him from his inner torture. Hurriedly, he dabbed at the tail end and swore. The burn mark wasn’t huge but his jacket was surely not they only thing he had ruined tonight.

Chapter Text

John awoke to ringing in his ears, a blaring guitar riff and a sea of broken glass, amber liquid coating the floor and the remnants of precious white powder staring at him in the face. Laughing, taunting. He hadn’t moved from the following night. He couldn’t piece together how he had gotten the bottles then smashed them all around his feet.

 

Something within him snapped and he bolted upright. His head swam as he rubbed the back of it, wincing. He changed a glance down, slow and cautious. No, no glass was in him. No glass had penetrated his scarred skin. He breathed a huge, shaky sigh of relief as he hurled his weight: rising to his feet.

 

Deftly avoiding the glass that littered the ground, he hopped over the mess and traipsed back towards his bedroom, the nagging of his wearisome brain guiding him straight to flopping down atop his unmade sheets.

 

Halfway to his bedroom he paused, pivoted on his heel and defied all odds. He hobbled straight to the open door, barely able to hold his gaze.

 

He screamed his throat raw.

 

Glass littered the bed, the sheets torn and stained with blood. The smell was raw, the stench flooding his nostrils and bile was rising in his throat. Feeling his stomach quirk, cursing his daughter then immediately apologising, he sprinted to the en-suite and fell above the toilet.

 

This wasn’t purely morning sickness. John groaned: he wasn’t sure if he was more frustrated or furious with himself for the unholy amounts he must have drank.

 

Chest heaving and sweat rolling down his face, John tried desperately to piece last night back together. He wretched, body laying limp as he continued to void his stomach.

 

His bottom lip trembled as he shakily rose to all fours. Again, his pulse surged and ears pricked at the sudden voice behind him.

 

“Christ, John. The bloody hell happened in ‘ere?”

 

John flushed the toilet and stumbled to his feet, wiping at his mouth. He could barely look Andy in the eye, gaze pointlessly averted back to the chaos of what was always the most pristine of the three bedrooms.

 

He brushed passed the guitarist and immersed himself in the room. John felt the stench of blood hit him again and he realised far too late that he was shaking, muttering, tears streaming in hot torrents down his puffy cheeks. He almost decked Andy as a hand was lain atop of his jittering shoulder.

 

“Watch it, man.” Andy avoided the hit.

 

John took two more laboured steps and his weight collapsed, knees giving out beneath him. He swore, voice hitching as his tears streamed beyond his control. John was a small pile of black and red, hunched into a pathetic little ball as he buried his head in his hands. He shuddered at the sudden body heat saw Andy folding two arms around his quaking form.

 

“On my own, cried before.”

 

Desperate to stifle his tears he almost missed the tender, smooth voice that magically filled his ears.

 

“Through a broken window, Johnny.” A pause for a breath. “There’s a broken dream.”

 

John’s head jolted up, he turned as Andy knelt back down in front of him.

 

“I had to find the hard way, Love is not what it seems.” The poetry flowed, rhythmic. Mystical.

 

John’s mouth dropped open, he couldn’t form any words. Any more of a response was too much of an ask in the moment. His eyebrows furrowed, tears threatening to fall again.

 

He lurched his huge body forward, wrapping his arms desperately around Andy’s slender frame. John settled his head in his shoulder; tears soaking straight through the black satin and leaving a mark. Andy just held him, in a oddly tender embrace. He continued to sing, soft and sensual: nothing like John had ever heard before.

 

Andy truly had an incredible voice and, it wasn’t the first time that the thought crossed John’s mind: he wished the fans could hear Andy more. John knew that he wished he could: another reason why Power Station had been god sent.

 

John couldn’t recall the guitarist being so vulnerable, his voice sounding so haunting as it just had then when he had sang to him. Not even in their countless cocaine fuelled escapes had Andy ever seemed so… not Andy.

 

“Had to find the hard way. Love is not what it seems.” The voice trailed off, Andy had been rocking back and forth as though he was marking out guitar riff after riff.

 

“W-What, shit.” John was still crying like a pathetic little girl, “Who did you.. Ands, who did you write that for?” He stammered out, trying to focus his hazy gaze on Andy’s shielded light eyes.

 

Andy didn’t answer. A hundred questions whirled about John’s mind: a melody; a bass line. The realisation hit him in an instant: this wasn’t for him. This song was not for any of them. It was for Andy, just Andy and that was the way it should be.

 

Andy withdrew his arms as John’s face screamed his confusion, his upset: mouth working fast but no sound dropped from his plush lips.

 

“D-do you,” he sniffed, “have.. you know, more?” He let it linger. “More lyrics?”

 

Andy’s smile was soft yet it didn’t reach his eyes. It sang of the strange fondness that seemed so alien to John in terms of their Duran days. Although in terms of Power Station: John felt at home. Still, he didn’t know where to look.

 

“Those aren’t.. those lyrics, they aren’t.. his.” John stated, voice cracking on the final syllable.

 

After a beat, Andy shook his head. “No, Tigger. They’re mine, all mine.”

 

John focused his bleary eyes on the floor, on the shards of glass that he had only now realised lay inches from them both. He shifted so he could rest against the foot of the bed, tossing the wayward stained sheets as far from him as he could.

 

Andy followed suit. They sat still in a prolonged silence. Only breaths could be heard, quickening then deepening as finally John’s tears stopped their flow.

 

He lay a heavy head on Andy’s shoulder. He heard a soft chuckle and watched Andy remove his glasses and John brushed the guitarists long black hair from out of his face.

 

John engulfed the air, although it threatened to choke him.

 

“He’s gone, isn’t he.”

 

It wasn’t a question.

 

Bringing his hand up to his face, John nervously began devouring his cuticles. He felt his shoulder pinch, his breaths grow erratic and swore he wouldn’t cry again. Andy didn’t deserve that: he wasn’t here to play psychiatrist. Even when his friend’s hormones were surging far beyond his own control.

 

Andy didn’t need to answer, John knew everything he needed to know in that moment. They let the silence take over as John buried his face deeper in Andy’s neck, the bastard tears clogging his vision again.

 

John had no idea how much longer he could keep Andy there, having demoted him to his personal rock. His rock between multiple incredibly hard places that even John wasn’t sure he’d want to Andy to have to breech. That was Roger’s job… Roger.

 

Roger, who’s walls were smeared in blood. Roger, who’s satin sheets were tainted with glass, the vodka stench filling the murky air.

 

Roger: who John had driven away for the final time. Roger.

Chapter Text

Neither Taylor had spoken of what John was calling his most pitiful moment of hormone-crazed weakness. It was just another episode in a series spanning six, sex driven and deluded years. He had wallowed in it, replaying the night over and over; torturing himself by how little he could remember.

 

If anything it was Andy’s words, the look of guilt in his eyes that were all he could focus on. Andy hadn’t a clue what had happened… or maybe he did. Maybe Roger had told him before he left, had John even given Roger the chance to tell him? Did John chase him out? Did John force Roger out?

 

Had Roger abandoned me without a second thought?

 

A million and one questions whirled around his tired head, making him  queasy and choking him with little remorse. The guilt was strangling, the thought of what he had lost. The feeling was far too familiar, it both lingered and haunted him. Why was he still taking it?

 

***

Two gruelling weeks had passed and John hadn’t heard a word from Roger. He kept forcing the idea upon himself that Arcadia was calling: that’s where Roger is. That and only that is the real reason he left.

 

John truly suffered from that strange form of narcissism in which the patient assumes they are the instigator of everything bad in the world of those who bring the only joy to their own: making it his own fault.

 

“That can’t be a bloody thing, you moron.” He muttered into his pillow, hair plastered to his sweat-slick forehead.

 

He had hardly slept in the last two weeks but that wasn’t important. He didn’t need sleep.

 

“Where do these thoughts even come from? Rio, I need an opinion.” He lay two huge hands atop of his stomach, shuffling back so that his head popped out from underneath the rumpled sheets. “Am I losing it? Is Daddy well and truly… shit. Crazy?”

 

Is who well and truly crazy?

 

“On second thought.” He added after a beat, “don’t answer that. I’ll let Nick answer, beat some sense into me.”

 

Daddy. Sweet Lord, Taylor.


***

John was growing, inching closer and closer to the days in which, assuming he hadn’t already passed them, trying to hide himself would look even more idiotic and pretentious than before. He had passed the beginning, crucial stage with anything but flying colours but here he was: April 1985. Almost six months pregnant.

 

Bloody hell.

 

He had began noting down in a journal how he was feeling day by day: whether it be his thoughts on the stretches of his skin or, how his hormones were driving him wild. It helped to steady his mind somewhat and proved to be pretty much the only comfort.

 

He pointedly ignored documenting the swelling of his nipples. That was just strange. His ministrations sent wild shocks through this body, the pulses ruthless as his nether regions were virtually attacked but still, his diary didn’t need to know about all that.

 

John had noticed, appalled at himself for how long it had taken, that day by day even Andy was beginning to slip from him. Andy. His partner in cocaine raving crime. Andy.

 

He would be heading out more, frothing pints in hand, more than ready to join their endless groups of friends on endless pub crawls around New York. Although every vein thrummed willingly for John to join them, for those veins to absorb every last drop of delectable amber liquor, he decided that no. No, no. Finally letting his better senses (and the Nick within him talk) John kept as far from it all as he could, holing himself up in his bedroom (sure that Nick would have plenty to say to that) and wrapping himself in his sheets: as though they really were his cocoon.

 

At least when alcohol was involved one Taylor could always control himself… right? Wasn’t that what he was like? Rog has never had any problems with a little hot liquid pulsing throughout his little, firecracker of a body… has he?John willed his thoughts, traitorous and all the more confusing, to stop.

 

Did Rog once mention an issue with Champagne?

 

“Cryptic bastard.” He coughed out, more into his pillow than into actual existence.

 

It was safe to say that he thought about the drummer non stop. When Roger’s birthday rolled around, April 20th, John debated back and forth for hours about whether to call him. To apologise, to poorly sing Happy Birthday across the cracking line, to immerse himself in Roger’s undoubtedly loving Gloucester home. That entire Saturday was pure torture. Not even a line of powdered courage allowed him to leave a message.

 

John couldn’t even think back to how he had acted on Simon’s last birthday. His mind lived to play tricks on him: whether or not he knew about the baby; whether or not he was sober enough to get through Simon’s more privatecelebrations without a hitch.

 

Thinking that John knew himself about ten percent, he quickly came to the conclusion that:

 

 

“A) Nah, too early and stubborn. B) Abso-fucking-lutely. Charlie didn’t deserve a damn thing, you prick.” John groaned, ignoring the sudden quirks of his shoulders and quivering of his bottom lip.

 

Bringing his fingers up to his lips he began nibbling at his cuticles. He quickly began to bite at them, eyes darting about the poorly lit room: as though looking for any remnants of Roger, Andy, Nick and…

 

Simon.” He chokes out, letting a single tear caress his cheek.

 

The following night and the same torture ensued. This time his thoughts were wild, raving: plaguing him with all the arguments, the fights, the look of disappointment in those baby blue eyes. Those baby blue eyes that told so much, never betraying Simon the way John’s engorged browns did. Simon could hide his emotion, he was an actor- in theory. He was born and raised to be on stage and knew the first rule: to hide every insecurity behind that wall. Your stage persona is all they want too see, to marvel at: revelling in your success.

 

Having broken some form of fancy idol he had drunkenly picked up God knows where in lieu of smashing his precious Smirnoff into a thousand tiny shards of unmistakable feelings and promises, John lay helpless on the sofa, long limbs sprawled and bass in hand.

 

Although he could barely find the strength, he clutched tight to his beloved four strings.

 

“Is there…” He paused with a sniff, “anyone, o-out there? Anyone.. please, out” The floodgates broke free, what was he even crying over? “Outside?”

 

Hunched over in a pathetic ball of black and red, John played for hours: callouses on his abused fingertips were red raw and threatening to bleed if he made it through another album.

 

For the first time in months, John let his fingers wander miles away from nowhere, where he knew the wind doesn’t have a name.

 

“People, people tell m-me” He hastily swiped at his face, cheeks aflame, “I have.. haven’t changed at all.”

 

His fingers were shaking.

 

“But I do, d-don’t feel..” He bit into his bottom lip, hard enough to bruise. “The same.”

 

He removed the strap from around his shoulders.

 

“And I guess you’ve had that feeling too, you.. can’t laugh.” He let out a pitiful laugh, “can’t laugh all.. the time!”

 

John dropped his bass.

 

The single, melancholy strum echoed endless nights of just that. Each night the set list was getting shorter and shorter, he’d be lucky if he could make it through A View To A Kill in one piece: barely being able to keep the pulsating beat in mind.

 

There was already a delay in which he played it, strumming with little conviction and confidence. How simple. The thought terrified him, his lack of creative flair was taking its toll, his happiness in tow. All hanging by an incredibly worn out thread, in knots and knots, that no amount of haunting, breathless Hold Back The Rain lyrics could even begin to unravel.

 

Simon’s warning. John’s line of fire.

 

Chapter Text

Although the Power Station boys had somehow pulled out every trick, called in every favour to keep John out of the press these past few weeks: not even John’s conscience could keep him from avoiding MTV.

 

MTV made Duran Duran. Duran Duran made MTV. Enough said.

 

They so graciously requested the two Taylors’ for a half hour segment: the chart countdown.

 

Both Taylor boys were higher than the fucking fireworks set off in New Moon On Monday.

 

John was stumbling throughout the studio, blinking so slow and mouth hanging open that it looked as though he had suddenly lost about twenty IQ points as soon as the camera man pointed at him. He was slow to respond, head rocking back and forth to simulate a nod and understanding.

 

Andy was loving it, the two of them trying to embody a mini Morecambe and Wise… or something. They couldn’t have been further away.

 

Andy Taylor and John Taylor didn’t even deserve that pristine of a comparison.

 

It was the ZZ Top video that did it. Cursing inwardly, John couldn’t tear his eyes away as ‘Legs’ played, taking in delicious limb after limb. He had to drape his questionable mustard scarf atop his lap, sitting cross legged in a stool beside Andy.

 

He felt the familiar tap, then insistent shove on his bladder and he groaned. The video drew to a close and John felt that familiar prick down south.

 

Again Rio? I’ve peed six times already today and.. oh shit!

 

He was high enough that his acting skills jacked up from ‘shy guy who’s down to fuck’ to ‘narcissistic shit who’s down to fuck’ within moments: knowing he could play this out.

 

Hang on a second girl.

 

“I can’t, Ands, I can’t do it man!” He quipped, leg bobbing irritably.

 

Andy, eyes blown wide, turned to look at him with a wry smile in place. He knew full well what game John was playing.

 

What did I just say, Rio? Impatient as always, just like your father.

 

Andy egged him on and John just screamed: “I can’t take it anymore! I’ve gotta go to the bathroom!” And out he ran.

 

Aaaaaaaand, the foetus wins this round.

 

The audience could blame the more than likely erotic scenery and how deeply the bassist claims to have been affected, his leather trousers proving suffocating. However Andy, probably more than a little turned on himself, knew perfectly how to make it into a slightly suggestive joke.

 

“You promised me you wouldn’t play Springsteen!” John called over his shoulder, halfway to the stage door.

 

Andy just flung his head back to face the camera, smirk in place as the door behind him closed.

 

“And now for some Bruce Springsteen!”

 

John sprinted to the bathroom, ducking stage hand after stage hand. He rounded the corner, panting, then sighed in relief at finally making it. After he was done he quickly surveyed himself in the mirror: jaw slack, cheeks flushed and he felt the sudden rush.

 

Before he could comprehend it, his right hand had delved deep into his jacket pocket and he was fumbling for his prized possession. The familiar weight, the comfort. Hurrying, hands shaking, he poured out the powder and hunched over, diving back into his pocket for the straw he knew was burning a hole not too deep inside there.

 

He took in a huge snort, lifting his head as it jerked uncontrollably: fighting to have his eyes land back on his reflection in the suddenly blurry mirror. He jumped into the air, bottom lip trembling and legs twitching. He engulfed a breath of coke littered air and stumbled out of the bathroom, trying to associate his surroundings.

 

The corridor was long and winding, the walls were probably muted but right then they screamed in blinding neon, fuchsia and turquoise, swirling about him in blaring shapes. Lots of triangles turning weird squiggles that seemed to sum up the era to a tee.

 

John laughed, miraculously avoiding tripping on his own feet, fumbling for the double doors that probably opened back into the studio. Andy must be there, anxiously awaiting his own turn to slip away and revive those aching veins. Probably.

 

Where even was John, again?

 

***

“How could you let that tail go, man?!”

 

John cocked his head up, squinting, looking to put the grotty face to grainy voice.

 

“She’s hot! She was all over ya, John!”

 

He still hadn’t found the man.

 

John’s eyes scanned the club, a sea of red and black, mystical shadows that were blurring together: blurring under the strobe lights. The aroma was rich, stifling, full of drinks and drugs. The stench of sex was rife.

 

“W-what was.. you know, her uh.” He trailed off, talking into his cocktail glass.

 

“Which one?.”

 

“The one who.. the little one, brown hair. Wanted me to meet… uh, somebody. Her friend?” John stammered out, perking up as the drink swirled about his heavy head.

 

“Oh yeah, the model.”

 

Cocking his head, John delivered the inquisitive look that tended to paint his face at the word: “Model?”

 

“Yeah, think so. Renée.”

 

The name didn’t ring any bells. But then again, he was more than a little inebriated at the sudden ‘holy shit, did we part that morning on bad terms?’ though filled his mind.

 

He had probably already fucked her. She didn’t even seem too interested in him, tonight.

 

“Re.. wha?”

 

Simonsen. Renée Simonsen.”

 

“Simon.” He simply stated.

 

“No, no, John. Simon-sen.”

 

John nodded, still clueless. “Simon.”

 

A small smile began to tug at his lips, eyes too tired to be roaming the room for her silhouette.

 

“I ‘ad a wank to that fine ass just last night!” Someone called, laughing manically from the other end of the bar.

 

“True that!” Another so and so called, sparking a mass sea of agreement.

 

Who had a what over who? Whom? Is it who or whom?

 

“There ya go, peeping Tom!” The guy, decked out in a sweet suit that surely couldn’t rival his beloved Anthony Price, lay a huge hand on his shoulder.

 

Whom.

 

“She’s kinda hot. Her mate’s even hotter, Johnny, just check out those legs.”

 

John couldn’t find her. She was wearing a jacket, wasn’t she? Covering those tits? Not a skimpy dress? Who the fuck knows.

 

“Sounds like you..” John drunkenly tapped the mystery guy right across his breastbone, “you should screw ‘er!”

 

“I’ll take her hot mate thanks! You should get at her, man. She likes ya!”

 

Fucking doubt it.

 

“Does she now?” John wasn’t convinced. Nor could he bring himself to care. “Why she.. she even in New York?”

 

Laughter erupted, John just sat there.

 

“New York’s a long-ass way from Birmingham, JT!”

 

“Yeah, John. I get the feeling, we’re not in America anymore!” Some guy, voice low and grating, barked remotely into John’s direction.

 

The moment eventually passed, the awkwardness was suffocating but miraculously John was laughing at that prospect that the girl didn’t want him. More astonishingly, John didn’t want her. He was a-little repulsed even though she had approached him.

 

Didn’t Nick say something about hiring her? That ass?

 

Turns out it was her hot friend who wanted to bed him that night. This… Renée was just the wingman. A pretty clueless as to who she was dealing with, wingman. John snorted.

 

“You takin’ any birds home then or not? Why we makin’ the effort, Johnny?” The guy wrapped his huge arm around his body and John set his head atop of the strong shoulder.

 

He made a dismissive gesture and winced at how much effort that took out of him. Missing the raised blonde eyebrow, John craned his head into the damp neck mere centimetres from his lips. He parted them, tongue jutting forward.

 

“You sure ya feeling alright, JT? You’re really going to let these babes go?

 

“What babes?”

 

Fingers were pointed and John, mouth agape, failed at following them.

 

“Whatever man.”

 

Before John had time to associate, another wave of burning voices, all with some bullshit that just had to be said at that very moment, bombarded the club.

 

John caught glimpses of: is that? It is! That’s John Taylor. Not guitarist, bassist. Whacked outta his mind. Not good. Not looking good. Looking podgy. Where’s the cheekbones at? And inwardly groaned. Outside, he was sniggering.

 

John reluctantly had to withdraw his tongue. He barked out his drunken laughter into the man’s neck, chest shaking as the words flung wild about his head.

 

“Y-yeah! Me, I look all.. all royally fucked up and fat! You’d n-nev.. never guess why!” He hiccuped.

 

The guy cocked his head, taking in the sudden sly look that painted John’s face.

 

“Ya wanna know.. know tha shit?” He teased, over and over, laughing as his drink had been miraculously topped up. Once, maybe twice. “Yeah, you wan’ know the good shit!” He screamed, glass in hand.

 

After a good five minutes of John’s demanding tone turn giggling fits and hiccups; his limbs were loose enough that his tongue just let rip, steamrolling onto his drinking/confession buddy and the crowd of shoulder pad wearing hopefuls that materialised out of nowhere at their table.

 

“I’m, fuck.” He couldn’t steady himself. “You’re gon’ luv this!”

 

Where’d this lil glass come from?

 

He blurted out “I’m knocked up, man!” And his arms were flailing before he downed the shot, without a wince. “Knocked up good!” John let the final syllable linger.

 

Oh, Tequila. Nice. Somebody’s out here makin’ it rain!

 

The silence in the room was deafening. Even John every cocktail under the sun pooling in his stomach Taylor could bloody well hear that. For about three seconds, anyway.

 

Then his ears were ringing, the sound shrill and piercing. Mouths were moving, eyes were widening but John… John wasn’t having any of it. His head swam, the tsunami filling his brain and yanking the helpless organ side to side, rocking up and over, up and over as though Simon was captaining the boat. As though they were in Antigua again and the storm kicked in.

 

Simon. Antigua. Fuck.

 

Shakily, he rose to his feet. Determined to not let any of these stragglers see anymore of him and the tears that were likely to fall at any moment. He took maybe two steps and his body came crashing to the floor: limbs flailing out from beneath him.

 

He tried to laugh, he really did but it was more a series of halfhearted grunts that punctuated his struggle at getting back to his feet.

 

He was alone, well and truly, traipsing out of whichever club he had disgraced that night and stood solitary, mind reeling, in the middle of the street. Rain beat down around him, cooling his alcohol flush skin. His clothes were plastered to him, hair skewed as he began the long, worrisome, drunken meander through the murky streets of downtown Birmingham.

 

Somehow, he’d eventually end up back at good ole’ 34 Simon Road: the way his drunken fairytales always ended; submerged in his rumpled red sheets, chest bare, water and Ibuprofen at his side and a towel draped over his eyes.

 

He figured that he would make it through this night one way or another. And if singing pick and mix verses of The Reflex and Is There Something I Should Know (and doing the little accusatory finger thing at an innocent house when screaming the words ‘You’re about as easy as a nuclear war’) the entire way back would keep him conscious, he’d do it.

 

“Without no.. you know d-doubt, no shame gon’ fall upon.. upon the, sweet.. the people of Hollywood!” He ceremoniously barked out the infamous Twentieth Century Fox theme as though that was Hollywood’s (the other, more notorious Hollywood’s) actual anthem: head held high.

 

About twenty minutes and half a dozen puddles later, the realisation hit the bassist: “Kings Heath? How in the bloody.. fuck, did we end up down ‘ere?” Shit.”