Roger looked out of the window of the train that was speeding through the countryside at an alarming rate. His entire world for the last year had been so slow moving that even though it was quiet inside the train the speed made him feel anxious. It seemed the closer they got to London the faster the train moved, almost reflecting the feel London would have with its crowded streets and traffic.
Roger huddled inside his blue duffle coat and stopped himself from pulling up the hood and hiding his face. But who would recognise him now? It had been all over the newspapers and tv the year before but he knew people forgot fast and moved on to the next scandal or tragedy.
What had he been? A scandal or a tragedy? He only saw a couple of the newspaper headlines before the bands managers had made sure he was safely in the sanatorium on a remote Scottish island, away from the reporters and ghouls.
A year and a half ago a former band member from Smile, Tim had kidnapped him and held him hostage for two months.It had been at first funny as it didn't seem for real. He knew this person and they had always got along but everything turned into horror when he didn't return the ex singers affection. He shuddered inside thinking about it. But he had been rescued and had gone back to Queen and doing gigs like nothing had happened. Except something had happened and his mind was lost for a time.
Freddie, Brian and John had been there for him but he could never keep it together to get through even one gig and after one outlandish incident after another and countless counselling sessions he had agreed to go away and take a break for awhile.
He knew the band hated replacing him. He knew himself he was the best drummer for Queen but they had managed to get temporary replacements by just borrowing from other bands who were happy ti help out. That way they got a quality musician but no long term contracts that would prevent Roger from joining them once he was all.
Roger looked at his watch and then back out at the dark drizzle outside. His face was reflected in the window and he wondered if the band would recognise him? His hair was just a bit shorter but he would let it grow and it was more light brown then the blond colour he had before. He felt suddenly hungry and opened up the paper bag of sandwiches and waved at the train attendant with the trolly of awful Brit Rail coffee. Even awful coffee would be okay if it took his mind off everything.
Roger knew his three friends would be meeting him at Euston Station. He wondered if they had changed at all. Probably not. There would be Brian, tall with the mane of curly brown hair, looking sincere and concerned. Freddie, wearing something flamboyant, ready to give him a hug and a kiss and tell him he looked gorgeous. Then John, quiet and shy but his emotions in his grey green eyes. Waiting for the moment to let the drummer know he was happy he was back. He loved them all but he loved one especially and had never had the nerve to tell him. Maybe, after all this time away? Or, maybe not.
"God, this is nerve wracking." Freddie paced the hall of the railway station, nearly colliding several times with hurrying passengers. He had tried to dress in a subdued manner but had ended up just wearing what he felt most comfortable in. A blue velvet jacket with a patterned pink shirt and a magenta scarf. His dark hair a mess just above his shoulders and his eyes outlined in eyeliner with just a hint of mascara.
Brian, tall and almost majestic felt just as nervous and tried to keep up a conversation with John who kept looking at his watch and swallowing. The year before when the drummer had been held captive had been the worse for the bassist. He hadn't known if his friend would be found alive or dead or any of the different combinations of awfulness that could have happened.
Finally, they saw the train pull into the station and the three stood together so Roger could see them. They were his family and they had missed him and wanted him back. It would show on their faces.
'I can't see him, yet.' Brian, being the tallest had more of a chance of seeing the crowed swarming before them.
'He'll probably be the last.' John, sensible knew that the drummer would feel nervous about seeing them again and would probably be one of the last. He was right. He saw the familiar blue duffel coat and the familiar face and smiled. Roger was back and now they could all get on with their lives again without that feeling of something missing.
Roger could see his friends in the distance. He saw Brian first, of course. Tall and lanky and anxiously scouting the crowd for him. Freddie, almost looking like an anxious parent and John, standing close to Brian with the shy smile.
Roger, wearing the blue duffel coat that seemed too big for him, waved his arm. They waved back and as one took a few steps forward. He was 'home' even before he reached them and then three sets of arms were hugging him and patting his back and then they were outside in the London air and looking for a taxi.
Roger felt relieved. He was back. No more wondering about any changes. Had they changed his room? Would the flat look or even smell differently? It didn't matter. The one he loved was here and that made it home.
He looked out of the taxi window with Brian and Freddie on either side of him and John sitting across. Brian and Freddie asking about his journey from Scotland. Was he hungry? They bet he'd like a Jack Daniels. They stocked up on all his favourite foods and drinks and even got new bedding for his room. He nodded and smiled and when he spoke even his own voice seemed raspier then normal.
'You look good, beautiful.' Freddie was saying and picked up a length of his hair and said 'Mmm, shorter but it will grow and my darling you need a lighter.' They all laughed at that and even John smirked and nodded and looked out the window.
Brian had taken his suitcase and effortlessly carried it up the three flights of stairs and Freddie was unlocking the door. John helped Roger off with his coat but the drummer had kept his eyes down not wanting anyone to see the fear he had at being back. It was just fleeting but there just the same. But it would pass. He put a smile on his face and took a deep breath to steady the pounding of his heart.
'So, everything, I think, is how you must remember it.' Freddie threw his arms out, encompassing the living room and its shabby but comfortable couch and there was a new rug in the middle of the floor. They'd got rid of the one that Roger had been sick on the last day he was there, thank god. There a few new plants and the stack of records still looked as if it would topple over but everything was clean as if they had all tried to make it feel welcoming.
'It looks great.' Roger was surprised at hearing his own voice and turned to look at John who was looking worried as if he'd forgotten something. The bassist seemed to hesitate then said he's get the drinks out.
'Oh, is it okay for you to drink, Rog?' Brian asked softly. He had no idea if the drummer was on any special medication or had the all clear and was completely better. That would a discussion for later.
'Yeah, it's okay. Just can't go crazy.' Roger said the word casually but the others stared at him. It was going to be like this for awhile, wasn't it? Everyone, tip toeing around him. He tried to put on the Roger Taylor smirk and succeeded somewhat because soon the music was on the turn table and there was a bowl of crisps and a large glass of Jack Daniels for him and beer for the others. He smiled gratefully when John handed him the glass. The bassist trusted him to go slow with it.
They discussed what the band had been up to. The drummer had really not been able to follow it much. There were no newspapers or television at the sanatorium. Just books and mindless activities. He was allowed a small radio though and he'd managed to keep up with the newest records and heard a little about the band. They had pretty much kept all recordings on hold till he returned. A replacement drummer was okay for gigs but not for any permanent recordings of them. He was grateful for that. More then he could say
'The place looks really clean.' Roger frowned wondering who had done the brunt of the cleaning but he soon was told that their girlfriends all had a part in it and as he looked from one to the other he wondered what had he really expected? That someone who didn't know that he loved him would wait for him? It was ridiculous. He took a deep breath and bit his lower lips trying to calm himself down. Three sets of eyes were looking at him.
'Are you tired, Rog? it was a long train trip.' Brian was looking at him with concern. His friend looked thinner since they'd last seen him and there was something different behind his eyes. He'd lost his self confidence but that would come back. After all, he was still Roger Taylor and would lose none of his popularity with the fans.
'Just a bit.' he admitted and then frowned. 'Is my room?' He didn't know if it was the same sleeping arrangements. Before he and John had shared a room. Freddie had the biggest room at the end of the hall and Brian was in between.
'Unless, you'd like the room to yourself, Rog, you're still in with me.' John smiled at him.'I've made room in the closet for anything you've got with you and your clothes are still as you left them. Well, you left them in a heap on the bed but they are in the closet now.' John looked so sincere that they all laughed at how John was still picking up after the drummer.
'Thanks Deaky.' The drummer smiled and fluffed his hair at the back. It was a habit of his and that always made Freddie smile as it usually made a mess of his hair and the singer would pat it down again. He leaned over to smooth the blonds hair and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.
'Welcome back, sweetheart.' The older man said sincerely and there was a quiet moment where the other two nodded in agreement.
'Queen is complete!' Freddie stood up.' And we need something more to eat then crisps. Bri, you can help me get a meal ready and John can get Roger settled. The singer headed towards the kitchen and Brian rolled his eyes and followed him.
Roger and John were in their old bedroom but the bassist was looking as if he wanted to say something.
'Rog, if you'd rather have the room to yourself, Bri is okay to switch and you can have his room. You know, if you want privacy, yeah?' John was clasping his hands together as if nervous of the answer but the drummer reassured him he was still okay sharing, that it would be nice not be alone.
John let out a sigh of relief and nodded. "Great. I was hoping you would say that.' He turned and lifted the suitcase onto the bed and left Roger to unpack it. He sat on the bed and watched the drummer stand in front of the open closet and touch the clothes he hadn't seen in a year.
'You look great.' John said softly and Roger nodded but didn't turn around. He didn't trust himself not to breakdown. He had been warned at the sanatorium that he would have bad, good and better days for the next few months but if tried to be calm and take his time he shouldn't even need medication. He was happy about that. He would try his hardestH he didn't want to got back to the island.
Roger moved back and forth putting his few belongings in the closet and chest of drawers. John had made sure he had the largest drawer in the chest. They chatted about nothing in particular. Tomorrow the band would rehearse with Roger again and John said they were all looking forward to that.
Roger wasn't sure how bad he would be. It had been a year since he'd even held a pair of drumsticks. He pushed that out of his mind and asked John about their girlfriends. John indicated none of them were serious relationships, after all they were still all together in the flat.
'I guess Roger's girls will be out in full force.' The bassist chuckled and Roger blushed. The fact that he had been sexually assaulted for three months, thankfully had been kept out of the press. He doubted if his fan base would want to know about that. What girls would want to have sex with him if they knew?
Dinner had been wonderful. His favourite pasta dish was presented and bottle of wine were opened as they sat around the small table in the small kitchen. Roger felt surprisingly hungry and had two helpings of the pasta. They all laughed as Freddie leaned over and wiped the sauce from the corner of the drummers booth with his thumb. It was as if the last year hadn't happened.
John expected that Roger would probably not be very chatty to start with. Not like his old self but he looked the same and the colour was already coming back into his face. He'd missed him so much and he'd been the worst effected by not being able to visit him on the island. Only Roger's mother and sister and the band manager, Jim, had been allowed. The rest of the band could write to him but only about everyday stuff, nothing that would upset him but of course they wouldn't have done that anyway.
There was just one problem After Tim's arrest and into his first year of imprisonment and after his appeals were exhausted he had decided to talk about what he had done and one of the daily tabloids had the scoop. No one wanted to tell Roger about this. So far, the management team for Queen and the lawyers had been able to stop any publication. They would give it a few more days before telling him. John dreaded it.
John had rearranged their beds so that they were at right angles to each other with a low table in between in the corner. They could talk to each other more easily, the bassist said and Roger smiled at him. It was a great idea and the new bedding was better then the stark white at the sanatorium. Roger asked if John's girlfriend had chosen it and he had shaken his head, It was all his idea. The covers were a light blue with matching pillows and the drummer was surprised at John's new found style.
'I'm sorry, Rog. About everything.' John and Roger had their showers and were just about to turn off the light. Roger leaned on his elbow and looked over at the brunette whose head was so close he could see the little crinkles around his eyes.
'Sorry, about what, Deaky?' He really didn't know what the bassist had to be sorry about.
'Just...I wish I'd been able to get to you sooner. We all did, of course. I just..' He pressed his lips together.'I just wish it had been different an nothing had happened and you didn't go away for so long. I ..I missed you, Rog. Really, missed you.' The bassist lay back on the pillows and reached behind him to turn off the lamp.
'It's okay, Deaks. Really.' Roger didn't know what else to say. He wanted to tell him and he couldn't. Words just stuck in his throat and he'd spent so much time talking about his feelings to the doctors that he never wanted to talk about them again. Ever.
The nightmare was always the same. He'd told the doctors he didn't have it anymore. If he hadn't they would never have let him out. In the dream he was stabbing Tim over and over again. He didn't care about the blood or if it was right or wrong. He just wanted him dead so that he wouldn't haunt him anymore. But how could a living person haunt you? He pushed his face into the pillow and tried to dream about something else and not cry. He had to keep it together or he really would be out of the band.
When he woke again in the middle of the night he opened his eyes and frowned for a second wondering where he was till he felt the hand holding his on the pillow. He looked over at John who had put his arm out to hold his hand. He must have heard him.Roger smiled and went back to sleep.
Freddie looked up from his morning paper and coffee to see what he thought he'd never see again. Roger standing there in pyjama bottoms and bare chest , fluffing his hair and peering at the coffee pot. Still can't see worth a damn. the singer thought to himself, remembering the drummers poor eye sight.
''You look good enough to eat.' The singer stood up, dropping his paper and hugged the younger man in a tight embrace. 'I have missed you so much.' He kissed the drummers cheek and pushed him down onto a chair.
Coffee and toast, alright?' He asked, holding the coffee pot. The drummer was indeed a sight for sore eyes even in a half asleep state he was gorgeous and the last year seemed to have disappeared having him back.
'Yeah, great.' Roger felt he was in heaven. Not having to get up and get dressed and go to the hospital dining room with the other patients. It was a nice place, he recognised that the sanatorium was an expensive one and only VIP clients but it was still a place you couldn't leave and no one hugged you at breakfast.
Roger looked fondly at Freddie and smiled as a hot cup of coffee was put in front of him. He'd stopped smoking but still felt the occasional urge to light up that he tried to dismiss.
'This is nice.' Was all he could say. He was use to talking to someone different each morning at breakfast. Some of the residents, like himself, were there for a long time but some only just for a couple of months. More like rest cure. He'd only meant to be there for 6 months but things had transpired that his say was extended.
'Hey, morning.' Brian yawned in the doorway. "I heard al the racket in here.' He smiled and squeezed Roger's bare shoulder. The drummer looked up at him. He loved Bri. He was serious and sincere and a pain in the ass sometimes but that was because he cared and wanted to do the right thing. He was the first person Roger had seen when he was rescued from the cellar.
Brian had never told anyone about finding Roger. How awful it had been to see their friend in the condition he was in. It was heartbreaking and Roger had known that the tall, serious guitarist would never have told a soul. The police knew about it, that was enough. But the guitarist has always wondered how the horror the fragile drummer had gone through had affected his psyche.
'Enough for me?' John pulled out a chair next to Roger and pulled his hair over to one shoulder. Roger loved the bassists hair. The deep brown colour, the waves over his shoulders. He'd missed that sleepy looking morning Deaky.
For a moment the loneliness of the past year washed over hm. It was all Tim's fault that he had lost what he had. That he had to rebuild his world if he could.
'Okay, Rog?' The two words sent the drummers heart pounding again.He had wondered if after a year he would still feel the same. And he did.
"Yeah, okay.' He nodded and looked at his three friends. They all expected him to be the same old Rog. The one before Tim had screwed his mind up. He hoped he could be that person again.