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Who Knows How Long I've Loved You

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I think it’s best, for now, to go. I mean, I’m not playing well, everyone doesn’t need me there. I am, as I always have been, the fourth wheel to a tricycle, more so now than ever.

Out of EMI, I feel so very off. I have always been a part of a larger group, in later years, half of a couple. Now, I feel like I’m a single person, looking out onto a huge world that knows me better than I have ever known myself. I thought that only teens felt this way as they faced the big bad world head on, like that moment you first set your feet on the ground after years of pacing around school playgrounds. There’s no more trial and error, no more people picking up after you, no safety of the school gates locking you inside.

And there certainly isn’t the ease of losing friends and making them back the next day.

I’m that kid again. Well, actually, I never got the chance to be that kid in the first place, so here’s my first time. I walk away from my safety net, my home from home where I’m spent so much of my life. I walk to my car. I look at the sunny August day slowly fading into the evening. Its slowly becoming cold, not for the night, but for the end of summer. As I clamber into the driver’s seat of the car, I can’t help hoping that George will be a while coming home, because I don’t think I can stand seeing him right now, not tonight.

I start up the engine and pull away from the curb. The car chugs down the road at a snail’s pace, perhaps reflecting that part of me which doesn’t want me to leave. It’s the part that has me glancing in the rear-view mirrors more often than I should, watching the docile building whose insides are, no doubt, screaming and searing.

These days, everything seems to be like that.

We appear to be ok. We’ve done well to hide everything. All the fights and all the anger, to fans, has never happened. We produce music people still love, we do everything we can to keep smiles on our faces. We manage to keep our image and be cool.

Yet, from the inside out, we’re boiling. We can hate each other as much as we love. We’re worst enemies as much as we are all brothers. That’s what I can’t stand anymore. It’s the appearance of us, and the reality of it. I can’t pretend anymore.

We’ve had so many fights in the studio, it now feels like a bottled container for all our anger. We can quite normally talk outside of it, we’re pretty civilised, almost close. Then we venture in to produce some songs and…

“I am not doing another fucking take of your song, McCartney!” John yells. His hair is a lot longer than it used to be, down to his shoulders if it’s straight. Usually, however, the ends curl into small ringlets. He wears his iconic round-lens glasses and he looks a lot thinner. I barely can recall his chubbier frame from when he was younger and see that mop-top wearing man as the same to this one. I think it was back in ’66 when he started to lose the weight. Something about his leaner stature has made him a little more threatening to look at. It seems he should tower over Paul, but they are actually of a similar height.

“You don’t have to do it again!” Paul says quite calmly, though he does snatch a guitar off of its stand, “I’m telling you that I’m going to do another take.”

“Oh of course! Because you don’t fucking need us, do you?” John’s voice is breaking. He’s done a hell of a lot of singing today, and quite a bit of yelling at Paul. You can hear in the gravel texture as he spits out insults that his vocal chords are well worn out. “You are the Beatles, all by your fucking self.”

“Not this shit again…”  Paul groans. Paul is considerably more tired looking than I remember him. He still has the sweet baby face, but he hides it beneath a thin layer of stubble on his jaw. His dark hair is shaggier than it has been before. He’s taken to wearing polo necks or loose, woollen jumpers. There’s nothing wrong with his style now, he just seems to be done with looking sleek and smart, as we all have.

He rolls his eyes and sits down, slinging the guitar in his hands over his lap. John stands angrily by the wall. They rarely are physically close to each other these days. It’s a weird thing to notice, but when you’ve been so close to people all your life, you notice little changes in their behaviour. John and Paul constantly used to live on top of each other, if not all of us. They were always together, always sitting close, always talking, if not in the same place, then on the phone. Now, I see them more often in different rooms. They’re happy to take seats further away from each other. It may not even be a conscious thing, they may not see it, how even physically, they drift from each other.

“This shit again…” John mocks, “This shit again! What? You think that it matters to me if you want to knock off your own songs? Be my fucking guest, luv, as long as it means I don’t have to be in the same room as you.”

“Trust me, you won’t.”

For all of this, where had little Ringo been? Not that anyone would really give much of a shit. I was sitting at my drum set. I was smoking a cigarette with my drum sticks between my legs. I was keeping quiet though I wanted to scream. I can’t stand the sound of everyone fighting, my friends, all of them having a go at each other. It hurts.

It’s even worse when you think that two of them are meant to be in love, and the other, I’m meant to be in love with. The latter is not so difficult to believe, because George and I get on for the most part. But I listen to John and Paul’s fights and it makes me want to cry. The relationship I was always jealous of, that everyone was, whether they were gay or straight, everyone wanted what they had.

Where the fuck did all that love they had for each other go? It seemed to be endless, passionate, intense. Now, I see it weakening or converting to a passionate hate.

If I think of it any longer, I think I’m going to be sick.

I’ve long escaped Abbey Road and am wondering whether I should head home or not. There are several problems with both those options. Perhaps I’ll keep driving well into the night. The feeling of the road under me, the world passing by, is calming. I’ll drive home, then I’ll decide what to do.

You see, I hate to think about John and Paul, but right now, I can’t stand to think of me and George either. While we were going well, as well as we possibly could, the fight that happened in the studio just now has had me rethinking everything.

Oh God, I feel horrible. I really want to get under a scalding hot shower and burn away the shivers down my spine.

There was too much tension in the studio, so I wanted out. I was going to come back, originally. I’d just grab some coffees, something to eat. I thought about bringing something back for everyone in hope it might lighten the mood.

In the awkward silence hanging in the room, I waded through it to George, who was messing about on his own guitar.

George looks slightly thinner too. It might just be the lack of a mop-top adding to his look or having aged a bit or the drugs he’s been taking. The rest of his body is probably just as scrawny as it’s ever been His hair is long and wavy, curling against his slender neck. I adore having his head on my lap and running my fingers through his locks, rubbing the back of his neck as he falls asleep. I love him more than I can tell him, and telling him is becoming increasingly hard.

I nudged him and smiled when he looked up at me, rolling my eyes at the other two bandmates. Sometime, George would bite his lip to stop himself from laughing, or he might fix his hair to mask the smile on his lips. We often laughed at the fights that went on to forget just how heart-breaking they were.

He did neither of those things this time.

Ignoring his lack of a response and the obvious frustration in his dark eyes, I tried, “You want to go out and get a coffee?”

“No.” His reply wasn’t just cuttingly blunt in its shortness. There was a thick layer of spite in his tone.

Taken aback, I had no follow up question. I sat, dumbstruck, as he went back to plucking his guitar strings. Now, I really wanted out of this place. I took another drag of my cigarette, then grinded it out on the windowsill. Without George, I didn’t know where else to go.

I still don’t.

Time spun on in silence save for when we managed to get a recording done. I spoke to no one other than Paul. Paul hasn’t been so bad to me. Then again, neither had George. Paul wanted my help. He could drum perfectly well by now, but he still wanted me there. He told me how he wanted the drums done, I tried to make them as good as possible, but they didn’t sound right to me. I was too distracted to make my playing any good. Paul told me that I was doing fine. I really wasn’t.

Then came the moment that I had to speak again to George. Really, I’d had no squabbles with any of the boys. It was mainly them three who were at it, George least of all, though. I’m good at forgiving and forgetting, so I tried my best to forget George’s dismissing words as I kindly went over to offer him a cigarette.

“We can take it to the roof.” I offered with a smile.

What I got back was a glare and gritted teeth. “You always want to fucking escape, don’t you?”  He muttered.

“What?”

“I said,” He raised his voice just enough so that John and Paul might’ve been able to hear. They were too busy doing something else to take any notice of us, “You always want to escape, don’t you? You can’t stand being in a place where people are fighting, can you? Grow a pair, Ritchie. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you won’t really get far in here unless you fight.”

That wasn’t what the Beatles were about, fighting anyone to get anywhere unless we were fighting as a team. We wanted to get famous together, we wanted to get to the top, but only if all of us could stand at the peak together, even if that meant getting on each other’s shoulders.

I was deeply hurt, not that George had been mean to me, but that he now saw the Beatles as one big fight. If that is all it is, I want out.

There’s one thing, though, that really bugs me more than the disintegration of our band. It’s the fact that George is one stone cold, ice hearted bastard when he’s on coke, yet I don’t know whether he’d taken any today. It worries me to think he might have the capacity to be such a bitch when he’s sober.

I don’t go home, I head to a hotel. It may not be permanent and it may feel frightening, but right now, nothing makes me feel anything but terrified.

Chapter Text

Well, my hand my not be quite as wonderful as Paul, but he’s pissed off at me again and has gone out for a drive. Seriously, living with the boy used to be effortless, I can’t remember that time without thinking it’s a long, forgotten dream.

These days, he gets annoyed with me every time we ever go into the studio and won’t talk to me, or even sleep in our bed when we get home. I don’t think he quite realises how fucking irritating he can be too. He thinks it’s all me, when all I see is arguments stemming from him trying to take over the fucking band. Has he forgotten so easily? I created it, I carried it from Liverpool to Hamburg to England to the world. Of course, Eppy carried it too, and his shoes are too big to be filled by Paul’s dainty things. He had some kind of superiority complex, thinking he’s better than all of us because he can churn out shit song after commercial song after masterpiece by the dozen. How are people not bored with the same old shit he puts out again and again?

I love Paulie, but I’ve lost my ability to work with him.

I’d love to keep fucking him, though, which isn’t happening any more. It seems like ages since I’d last knotted my Omega, had him screaming my name, sitting on my lap. The images are too good to remember. They make me pulse with aching pleasure.

I’ve been on my rut for 3 days already. Yeah, it’s that bad. Paul doesn’t even give a shit about our mating cycles any more. His last heat must’ve been the last time I knotted him… or did anything remotely sexual with him.

Now, all I’ve got is my hand and a room to my own. I think I’ll be loud today, since no one’s home and there aren’t many, if any, reporters outside.

I miss the days when Paul and I would sneak away from important gigs to get off in the loos or some old broom cupboard. There are countless occasions at the Cavern where we’d swap with Rory Storm’s lot, rush away from the crowds and make our band spend ages looking for us as we got off in the loos. We couldn’t give a fuck about the smell- because we were often emitting some of our own- or the hygiene. It may sound overly grotty, but when we needed each other, we had to have each other.

I lie back against the pillows in the very large double bed Paul and I used to share. I grip myself tight, stroking hard, thinking of shoving a gorgeously young Paul into a cubical. I’d spin him around so that he was facing a wall, then I’d order his trousers off, make him put one leg up on the loo lid so that I could enter his slicked arse. He’d cry for me under the sound of the band playing. That’s how it was back then, music was everywhere. I’d pound into him on the sound on the drum, playing a rhythm on Paul’s special instrument.

Do you know what? I love to think of young Paul, my dearest, truest Paul that only ever spoke back to me as a joke, or fought with me because the make-up sex was bliss, but often my fantasies can’t help morphing his face into the one I see now. I think he is absolutely beautiful, barely aged but a little rougher. I like the stubble on his chin, of which I want to bite so that I may feel the texture on my tongue. I like his scruffy hair, because I imagine pulling it while he sucks me off. I don’t think I’ve told him how gorgeous he is in as long as we haven’t had sex.

Perhaps I should.

Perhaps I will tonight.

But I’m going to get off first, using my own hand, in case Paul is still in too bad a mood to fuck me. Of course, I’ll want another go later, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Christ, it’s been years since I’ve been an Alpha having to please himself while on my rut. Since I was 18, I had Paul.

It doesn’t take long to climax. I keep imagining having Paul in the toilet cubicles and that does me well enough. Taking some tissues from the bedside table, I wipe myself up. What’s next? Something to eat? Anything to distract me from the building ache below my stomach, wishing I could have a pretty Omega to knot…

I trot downstairs, thinking about today. It has been another shit day, mostly because Ringo decided to opt out of the session. Yesterday, our bandmate decided to storm out, which we all have does before. The only problem now is that we haven’t heard from him since. Not even George and Georgie’s meant to live with him. He’s worried. Of course, he is. The two have barely spent a day away from each other since they got together and now one of them has gone missing without so much as a phone call to say where he might have gone, or that he’s alright. We tried to call him, but we don’t know where he is. George said he didn’t go home last night.

We tried to talk properly today. George, Paul and I all sat around our studio while the technicians set up. We had instruments on our laps and cigarettes in hands. We tried to talk as friends, to express concern. That went down well. George ended up part blaming me and Paul for always fighting, though he did mention that he may have fucked things up a bit too. He can be a real fucking grouch when he wants to, as though he has any right to talk to any of us like that. He forgets he’s the younger one. Should he not be paying us some more respect? Most of all, his Alpha? But I wasn’t going to accept being blamed for his relationship problems. I told George that his lover is a fucking wimp, a born Omega with the wrong parts and that, if he couldn’t get his mate’s emotions under control, he should stop couching me on how to be with my mate.

This is when Paul cut in to defend his long time, childhood friend. We used to be that. Forget George, people knew that Paul and I had known each other for ages. No one ever suspected he and George to have such an extensive history. Still, he switched like a fucking girl, just because he wanted to fight. He told me not to be so rude and that George and Ringo had a better relationship than we do. I could’ve fucking slapped the shit out of my Omega at that moment. Just thinking about it makes me want to punch a wall so hard either it or my hand will break.

I think this band thing is pulling us apart, as partners in work and partners in love and partners in friendship. What I’m trying to say, is we’re fucked. I want to try and save it, but I don’t know how to. We can’t go back to not being famous, struggling for money, struggling to make something of our skiffle group. We can’t go back to Hamburg (and not just because of the flaming condom incident) nor can we retreat into the comforting, arching arms of the Cavern Club.

As I get out some bread for toasting, I hear a key in the door. I love that, when you live with someone for long enough, you can identify them just by their sounds, like their footsteps up the stairs while you’re lying in bed or their set of keys jingling in their hands as they find the right one for the right hole.

Paul walks through the front doorway, his face, emotionless. I haven’t the energy to be pissed off tonight, so I poke my head around the kitchen doorway and wave at him. He looks as though he doesn’t know how to react. He looks knackered.

“Toast?”

“Two pieces, please. Are you making tea?”

“No, but I can.”

“Please.”

See. What a nice conversation! I sink back into the kitchen where I put on the kettle. I leave the bread next to the toaster as the water will take longer to boil than the bread will to toast. I’m a good cook… or at least, that’s what I tell myself. I tuck my long, currently greasy hair behind my ears-it’s a fucking terror to maintain- then walk into the living room to see Paul, who is perched on the edge of the sofa next to the phone.

“Who are you calling?” I ask.

“George to see if Ringo is ok.”

“Have you heard anything?”

“No. Neither had George when we last spoke. I apologised to him for earlier. I think you should do the same.”

I don’t want to, but Paul’s words are softly spoken to me tonight. I don’t want to ruin his mood.

“I will.” I promise. “I guess I’m just a bit self-conscious at the moment.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time.” Never a truer word spoken.

Paul puts the unanswered phone down back on the receiver and rubs his face with both hands. I stand behind him, waiting for him to speak, to address me or something. Before he can, thought, the kettle whistles, telling me it’s ready. I go and pour us both a cup of tea. Very English of us. I put in the toast, which is done quite quickly, and I butter a slice for us each. When I emerge from the kitchen, Paul is lying on the sofa, his hands over his head.

“Sit up, luv, or you’ll spill this all down you.” I warn in an old, Liverpudlian housewife voice, “And I wouldn’t want burns all down my little Paulie’s body, now would I?”

“Would you put it on the table, please?”

I oblige, placing the cup on our coffee table and the toast on a sheet of paper because I’d forgotten to get a plate. Paul sits up eventually.

“Um… I’ve got another idea for ‘Back In the USSR,’ and, er… if Ringo doesn’t turn up, I could drum on it.”

“Sure… sure.” I affirm. I know it will cause problems later, we’ll probably get into a fight about him wanting to do as much of the playing on the song as he possibly can, despite there being two of us who wouldn’t mind helping. He’s such a fucking perfectionist. He thinks that no one is good enough except himself.

I ignore those thoughts, though, because I really haven’t any energy to start a fight. I don’t want to fight. I haven’t sat down with Paulie like this in far too long. I haven’t called him Paulie in much longer. Thinking fondly, I open my mouth and say the thought that came to me earlier.

“I like you like this.”

He gives me a strange look, “Like what?” He glances down at himself.

“I just… think you look really sexy with your long hair and stubble and colourful Christmas jumper outfits.”

He shakes his head, “I think I look tired.”

“Well, then tired suits you.”

We both share a small giggle. Paul then sips his tea and bites a slice of toast. For such a perfect man with such perfect lips, his bites are huge! Like shark bites! I always knew his mouth was huge, else how would he fit me in it. It makes me laugh out loud, to which he gives me another confused look.

“Sorry, sorry.”

“Are you laughing at me?”

“Yes and no.”

“Yes and no?”

“Please sleep in our bed tonight.” I plead.

It catches him off guard, “Why wouldn’t I?”

I don’t want to say that he never does anymore, he’ll go on a rant about it being my fault, that I’m the most impossible person to get along with nowadays and that nothing makes me happy anymore. I think hard about my answer as I chew a well-buttered bite of toast (I swear I don’t even bite as big as Paul does.) When I swallow, I smile.

“Just do it, my luv.”

After our light dinner of tea and toast, we both head up to bed. On the stairs, we discuss having a shower. However, that turns out to be code for ‘I want you, hard, against the tiled wall of our shower.’ Macca finally gets the hint that I might be on my rut, which brings him to his knees before we’ve even got into the bathroom. He tells me not to hide my rut from him, that he loves me, he wants me. He says words I have missed, filthy, dirty words said on his tongue, spilt into my mouth or around my member.

We do eventually move into the bathroom where I put on the shower. As I have my Macca, I tell him about my favourite fantasy of him in the Cavern. We share our nostalgia for a far simpler, easier time.

Chapter Text

I really need to stop walking past the phone. It sits, staring at me, motionless, sleepy. It’s shrouded in shadows, sitting silently on the small, mahogany side-table in the reception area of our house. It doesn’t stir, not a single sound do I hear from that direction at all. Perhaps I don’t hear it, I convince myself it is ringing, but I’m in the wrong room for it to be audible, so again I walk past, cursing myself as I head across the narrow hallway.

Ringo’s a big boy, he can run off all he likes. He doesn’t need me running after him. Not anymore. We used to be inseparable. We’ve grown up and we don’t need to be at each other’s sides like limpets.

We both know we still love each other.

Fuck, I hope Ringo still knows. Yesterday, I was a dick. I am such a dick. Ringo’s told me before. He doesn’t mind the drugs, he takes plenty himself, not one of us is clean at all, but he’s told me that he doesn’t like the coke. It makes me grumpy and unloving. I spit my worst insults or snap at him. I forget that I love him. I didn’t think it much true, I ignored his complaints, chalking them up to all of us being frustrated at each other, but now I see it.

All he wanted was a distraction from the same old shit John and Paul were yelling at each other about. It’s always the same with those two. It comes down to the same thing. John hates that Paul is trying to take over, while Paul hates that John can’t deal with his perfectionist stuff. Then they both shout about other recurring topics, namely John’s songs taking the B-side while Paul storms forth with commercial tracks. I’m lucky to get one track on the B-side of an album, even though I have to say that mine are fucking quality that no one appreciates! No one! So, John should stop fucking complaining. John also gets upset because Paul’s recorded a song or two on his own. The older man goes on and on about how his Omega ‘doesn’t need us!’ and he ‘thinks he can be the Beatles all on his own!’ I mean, it didn’t make me happy when I heard that Paul had done a solo song, but I didn’t get quite as heartbroken as John.

And Ringo wanted to get away front the fighting. It gets all too much, for me too. Why couldn’t I have looked past my high and my own anger to see that?

He asked me if I wanted to go out, get a coffee, act like a couple, or as close to that as possible since no one can ever know that we are mated. I may not remember much, I was high after all, but I can recall my words and the effect it had as they crossed Ringo’s face.

“You always want to escape, don’t you? You can’t stand being in a place where people are fighting, can you? Grow a pair, Ritchie. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you won’t really get far in here unless you fight.”

He doesn’t like fighting, I don’t think he ever has. He’ll apologise for anything, whether he had cause to do or not. He’d kiss and make up at first sight of conflict. The amount of times I’d sat in our bed with his arms around me as he told me how sorry he was, and I’d wondered why these words weren’t from my mouth, are countless. I’m a dick and I have no idea how to change. I’m too stubborn and too selfish for open, kind-hearted Ringo. How could I ever deserve a man like him?

For the last time- I promise myself- I walk by the phone. I head into the living room, which is the door in the corridor opposite to the bathroom. I’ve paced onto the tiled loo floor too many times to count tonight, just so I could see the phone. It’s like it has eyes and I must keep staring at it at all costs, else it’ll escape from me and I’ll never hear Richie’s voice again.

In the living room, I slump over the rigid back of our sofa, facing upwards to see the ceiling. The hard frame of it digs beside my spine, giving me a nice massage. I let my hands droop behind me, my legs hanging off the end. I can’t sleep, I can’t stay awake, I don’t know what to do and I’ve felt like this for a very long time. The only thing that’s kept me sane is now missing from my life.

For an entire day, I haven’t seen Ringo. I half expect him to walk through the front door with groceries or just with himself, having come home from some errand he ran alone. He’d kiss me on the forehead and run his hands over my body that’s sprawled over the sofa.

It’s so unlike him not to come home, even after a fight. As I said, it’s so often him who apologises whether he should or it should be me. We’ve rarely spent a night away from each other, and it’s never been unplanned. I feel scared and lost without him, not to mention how responsible I feel. It was my comment that made him stand up, not a word said to any of us, and walk out. I didn’t take any notice of it. Neither did John and Paul. We all assumed he’d be back.

It was many hours later that I realised he may not come back, many more before I started to worry. I thought he might’ve gone for a drive, he might’ve gone to clear his head. It was only once I got home that I started to worry.

Last night, I barely slept. We may have spent more nights alone, in different rooms rather than in the same bed, but not having him in the house made me feel jittery. I sat up for hours in our double bed, over the covers, thinking of how I might be able to occupy my time, since I wasn’t going to sleep. I was half waiting for Ringo to turn up. He didn’t, which stressed me out more and more the longer I sat there, the longer I lay awake.

The phone! I rush to it. I don’t care that the sharp corner of the couch catches my spine right where it hurts, I have to answer the call. The ringing echoes through the house, the emptiness of the house. I pick up the receiver and almost shout a greeting.

Luckily for myself, I don’t say anything. A voice beats me to it.

“George?” Its Paul. I am not on best terms with him right now. Hesitating for barely a second, I slam the receiver back onto its stand and storm into the living room again.

Years ago, would his voice not have been a comfort, something I’d gladly hear when everyone else’s was against me?

I’m now alone, feeling like shit, and yet I would not seek any of my previous friends for comfort.

Today, I guess I was in a mood because of Ringo. John and Paul wanted to talk to me, pretending like they were concerned friends, as though they had no part in Ringo’s storming out. They asked me where he was and I, quite calmly, told them that he hadn’t come home last night. We talked for a while, but our conversations are never civilised for long. John had the audacity to ask me what I’d said to make Ringo piss off. Again, he thought he had no part in anything, he’s totally innocent. I had to retort.

“It wasn’t me!” I had… well technically lied, “It was you two, bickering like lively old women.”

And so, started the daily argument. Technicians were told to piss off, George Martin had warned us to keep quiet for just a moment, we didn’t listen to him, it was all the usual shit. Hurtful words were shot every which way. Even when Paul took my side for one moment, he didn’t manage to stay there without handing me a few small insults as John stood opposing.

There are no sides in our band any more. There really isn’t the band anymore at all. There is John and the band, Paul and the band, on the rare occasion, George and the band and the really, really obscure, Ringo and the band. I’ve felt like that since after Sgt Pepper’s, for everyone else, it took longer.

Back in the living room, I sit on the carpeted floor in front of the sofa, crossing my legs. My hands are balled up between my legs. I close my eyes and pray, I’m not sure to who, that Ringo might come back.

At the sight of the empty room once again meeting my gaze, I stand up and head to bed. I’m not going to sleep, but I’ll try to shut my eyes for long enough.

Wait… am I dreaming it. I haven’t walked up the first step when a familiar, attention stealing sound catches my ears. The phone again chimes out, too long since the first one for it to be Paul retrying my number. Maybe… Maybe…

This time, I’m cautious as I pick it up. I place it to my ear and listen. It’s obviously connected, there’s someone breathing at the other end. It means I didn’t imagine it ringing.

Then someone speaks. “Hello?”

“Richie.”

“George.”

“Where the fuck have you been!” I cry, feeling my knees give way with relief. I collapse on the small chair by the table’s side, “We couldn’t get any recording done today because you weren’t there.”

“I know, Georgie. Are you mad at me?”

“Right now, I don’t think I can be. Can you just tell me where you are?”

“I’m at a hotel. I have something to tell you, George.”

My heart stops beating, my breathing halts, air pausing in my lungs. I can’t even encourage him to spill all, I’m stuck in apprehension.

“I’m quitting the band.”

I can’t speak. I feel as though I’m still waiting, like I’m waiting for the real thing he has to tell me. Surely, he doesn’t mean that, surely, I didn’t hear that.

“George, are you mad?”

I swallow, dryly, “No… I’m not… mad.”

“Will you tell the others?”

“Ye-yes…” I mutter, my breath not starting again. I have this horrible feeling that…

“Tell them that there wasn’t much point of me being there. You three are much closer, you’ll work better.”

“Yeah.” I say automatically, until my thoughts explode from my brain into my mouth, rolling off my tongue, “Are you coming back? Home, I mean?”

“Oh,” Ringo hums, “Do you want me back?”

“Richie, I don’t think I could live without you.”

He doesn’t speak for a second. When he does, I hear a smile on his face, “There’s my real Georgie. I’ll come home tonight. I’ll be an hour or so. Have you had dinner?”

Do you know… I don’t think I’ve had a proper meal in three days, and if you know me well, that is a huge indicator that something is off.

“No…” I bleat.

“I’ll bring something home. I love you.”

Just before he leaves, I manage enough brain power to say, “I love you too.”

I can’t wait to see him.

Chapter Text

It’s like I have a counter in my head, an alarm that wakes me up every morning and flips a paper counter over onto the next number. 2 days since we last saw Ringo. Yesterday, the number 1 hung in my vision like it’s stuck to the lens in a pair of glasses. My mind reminded me for the entire time we were in EMI, that it had been 1 day since we’d seen Ringo. I wondered if he just might turn up randomly, knock on the door, ask if he could please come in, if we could forgive him for storming out.

He didn’t and we haven’t heard from him.

This morning, I wake up naked. It’s a little more surprising than it probably should be, but I haven’t slept in the nude for quite a while. Moreover, I haven’t slept beside John in about a week. His naked body is draped over mine. I feel his breath curling against the back of my neck. Maybe he thinks my back is an extension of the mattress, judging by the way he practically has me pinned down by the shoulders. I nuzzle the back of my head into his mess of fair hair.

Last night was fucking amazing. I haven’t had John while he was on his rut in what feels like a year. It was, no doubt, not as long as how it feels, but it was like we’d saved up so much love, he’d saved up every aching for me. The last time he had me like he did last night was when I was in heat. Nights like those used to be more frequent and didn’t need an excuse like being in season to be had. Too much has changed in too little a time.

John has changed too. Even looks just wise. His style has become so iconic. I mean, even though he hasn’t a shred of clothing on him at the moment, I know that everyone, no matter who they are or where they stand, they’d be able to tell who it was, sprawled in bed. Just the back of his head, the splayed hair, the shape of his shoulders. I see all of this as I manage to slip out from under him and creep out of the bed.

I can’t imagine anyone mistaking him for anyone else. He has a look, a style, an iconography unlike the rest of us. My young, suit-wearing, newsboy-hat-wearing, forth head of the Beatles John has now escaped.

However, looking at this John, I think I like him even more. He pisses me off, he’s a totally lazy dickhead with hurtful, underhand bullets sitting on his tongue, yet he is now totally him, more than he has ever been. You have to look at that and appreciate it after a long time of being what we were told to be.

I get dressed. I’m not hungry. I don’t want breakfast. I can’t even be bothered to shower. I run my hands under the tap in our bathroom and brush my teeth, taking away the bed-breath that is probably some combination of aged saliva and dick, because the latter of which happens to be what I was sucking last night.

I wonder if all those fans who’d happily fall at my feet would still love me if they knew what shit my breath smelt like in the mornings, or any of our breaths. I think these girls forget we’re human.

When I end up heading downstairs, I hear John’s footsteps upstairs. This is the moment I dread every day. The moment when we both wake up, we chatter and go about our daily routine, all the while the realisation that we will have to go into EMI seeps into our thoughts. We know we’re going to fight, we know we’re going to get upset with each other. We forget that we made up last night, or any night and we quietly dread setting foot into the place that holds every fear, every pet peeve, every frustration we’d ever faced. EMI was once our home…

Christ, I miss Eppy! He made everything so blunt and easy. I’ve tried to get us on track and I watch the band fall from under our feet, like the rug had been pulled hard from under us. I always end up falling on John, Ringo falls on George, we all push each other to try and stay up, which makes us fall faster.

I really hate recording this album, but there’s nothing I can do.

“Ready to go?” Dressed in a comfortable, purple shirt and a smart waistcoat over it, John emerges into the living room, leaning on the door frame.

I’m leaning on the back of the sofa, “Yes.”

We say nothing, we barely speak another word. We walk out into the cold morning air together, almost how we used to. I guess we never used to speak so much before, we didn’t need to say anything because of how well we knew each other. Now, however, it just feels like we don’t speak in case we say something wrong, and we are too afraid of showing weakness to each other anymore. I couldn’t stand if John knew how sick I felt every day as we walked up the steps into EMI. I wonder if he feels the same, but I don’t ask, because I know he wouldn’t tell me if he did.

I duck into the passenger seat, he gets into the driver’s. The engine starts up, the car jolts forward, my day feels like it has only just started, purely for the reason that all my problems are going to start now. I close my eyes and try to sleep on the way there, just so I don’t think about what we have to do today.

George arrives at the studio at a similar time to us. We catch him walking through the front door and join him, silently. He’s alone, which worries me. The number 2 floats in my peripheral vision. I actually am going insane in here. I can’t take control, I can’t save the band, I feel the floor being taken from my feet…

“Heard from Ringo?” John’s voice calms me. Wow, I didn’t know it still could. I shuffle closer to him as we walk down the stairs into the now infamous studio 2. Everything has been left as it was from yesterday. The fight even seems to be set up as it had been yesterday, hanging in the air. Does nothing leave this place?

“Yes… actually.” George says. He’s wearing a heavy coat that he forgets to take off as he picks up one of his many guitars. He looks like a proper diva in it.

“Really?” I chime in.

“Yeah. He called last night.”

“I called last night…” I mutter, bitterly. George hears.

“I know. I put the phone down.”

“I know.” Our tones do not change, our voices remain neutral. It’s as though we’re just telling each other what went on without consequence or feeling. It remains that way as he continues talking.

“He called to tell me that he quit the band because he felt like he was a shit drummer and unloved.” He states, matter-of-factly. I can’t stop my mouth from dropping open. No words come out, just a long sigh. This is it, the end of the Beatles. Fuck! I feel…

John raises his voice, “So, he’s fucking abandoning us?”

George looks equally as hurt as John does. Neither one can see me. I think I’m going to break down if I don’t somehow fix this mess.

The problem is, I’ve no idea how to, not anymore. Ringo may be past the point of persuasion. He’s rarely ever stormed out, never mind gone missing for two days.

“He abandoned all of us. Can we just get this shit together? We can all drum, right?” George snaps. He doesn’t actually seem angry at us.

“So, where is he?” I ask, not being able to move on. I mean, we can all drum, we could do this without Ringo, but I don’t want to. The Beatles can’t be a trio, not now, not when we’re all breaking apart. It’s the sign of the start of the end. I have to at least try and get him back.

“He’s… he came back home last night.”

“So, he hasn’t abandoned you, then?” John yells. Apparently, we’re starting shouting now, now before anyone else has properly turned up to record. At least we don’t have to send tons of people away so that we can have some privacy. “Why don’t you tell him to pull on a fucking pair of balls and get back in here and stop being such a fucking pussy?”

“I can’t fucking control what he does!” George cries back, “I’m his Omega, I have no power over him.”

“What a load of shit!” John spits.

In a moment of uncontrollable rage, I stand between the two and scream. I don’t know what exactly comes out of my mouth, whether it’s words or just an animalistic roar to shut the two up, but it has the right effect. I then tone my voice right the way down until it’s barely a whisper. “We’ll do ‘Back in the USSR’ first, ok? I’ll drum. Do you guys need the lyrics?”

They both seem startled by the bombardment of work suddenly thrown at their faces. It takes a moment for them to reply, but they see sense in just getting some recording done. I promise myself not to get into any fights today. My mind will be too busy working on how to get Ringo back in the band, rather than idly getting frustrated that John is playing the same bloody riff over and over again that doesn’t even go with the fucking song we’re doing right now!

Before we start, though, John stands up, places his guitar on a stand and declared, “I’m gonna go and touch myself.” I roll my eyes. I didn’t realise that he’d been on his rut for 3 days. He’d hidden it from me. It’s a sad revelation, the moment you realise that you don’t sense your mate’s season anymore. John can always smell me, I always used to just know his. I want to offer to help him, but he’s already escaped into the loos.

When I look back at the room, I see George giving me a confused look.

“He’s in season.” I explain.

A small ‘o’ forms on his lips. He rolls his neck and looks back down at his guitar. I do the same, but looking at the piano I’m sitting on. Really, I should swap and get on the drums. We’ll be doing that bit first. I prefer being behind a piano, though. I like to watch my hands press down the keys. John told me that my hands look proper sexy when I play piano. He especially complements me on ‘Lady Madonna,’ telling me I make sexy shapes with my fingers. It sounds weird, but I’ve watched his hands manipulating the notes on the piano, making chords beautifully. It is quite sexy, I’m telling you.

My mind doesn’t remain on the music, though. I think about Ringo. I want him back.

“How was Richie when he came home?” I ask, not looking up.

It takes a second for George to realise I’m talking to him. “Oh, he was sorry he didn’t speak to me for a couple of days. He felt really bad, but… he really has no reason to be.”

“Yeah…” I say. Ringo has no reason to apologise to any one of us. We should be apologising to him for ever bringing him into any fight we’ve ever had. He never starts on us. He endures so much with barely a complaint leaving his lips.

“He said that he’s ok to come home, if I don’t try and make him come back into the studio. He’s not angry at us, he’s frustrated with the situation, not us. He… I don’t know. He was nice yesterday. He slept in our bed and hugged me… like… we haven’t done much of that recently.

“No, neither have we.”

There’s a small bound of awkward silence, broken by George smiling up at me, “We haven’t spoken like this in quite a while either, have we?”

“No, I guess we haven’t.”

Chapter Text

I felt as though I was running back to what felt safe, to a familiar face, with my tail between my legs, but I remind myself that I wanted to get away from the band as a whole. I never wanted to end anything with George, I didn’t want to leave him behind. After all, I went to a hotel. It was all temporary. I knew I’d be back. I just needed to clear my head, to take a breath and stand away from the people I’d spent much of my life with, just to get myself back, because it was feeling as though I’d lost who I was. And I’ve lost my interest in drumming. I still love music, but I don’t want to venture back into the studio, not again.

I’m not joking, I’m not trying to get a rise or have anyone beg me back so I feel loved. I don’t want attention. I certainly don’t want a scandal. I’m doing this for me, not to make everyone else pity me.

I am also going back to see George for me, not for anyone else or what anyone else- like the other bandmates- might think. I want to just feel his hands on me, just around mine, or on my back, against my chest, holding me, hugging me. I haven’t seen him all of today, I barely saw him yesterday. The hotel I stayed in felt overly empty and big without him. I used one of the pillows to lay beside me because I couldn’t stand the feeling of a huge double bed all to myself. Funnily enough, though, I’d been sleeping on my own sporadically for the past few months. I guess I still like to have George by my side, metaphorically if not literally. In my fear that I might have walked out on him as well as the band, I wanted to have him closer than ever as I sat alone in the hotel room.

Thank God the roads are clear, because I really do want to see my Georgie. I want to tell him how much I love him, that I’d never leave him, not even if he asked me to. I couldn’t, for my own sanity. 

I zoom down the dark, winding motorway, the radio crackling softly in the background of my thoughts, waiting in anticipation to see him again. Lingering in the air is the smell of takeout that sits in brown bags. It takes up the passenger seat and I’ve put the seat belt around it to stop it from falling over. I hope it will taste better than it smells. I hope George will like it. It may not be anything fancy, but it may be a throwback to the shit we used to have to eat before we got famous, the stuff we’d eat out of the packets like in Hamburg or late night at the Cavern.

It takes no time at all to get home, to pull up in the driveway, food still hot, and awkwardly manoeuvre myself out of the car. I hobble around the back of it to the other side, jingling my keys in my hand. As I scoop up the many bags of food, there’s a sound from behind me, one loud enough to startle, but not unfamiliar enough to make me jump. I spin around to see the front door of my house wide open, an orange light leaking out from the many rooms inside and something, a tall, thin body creating a dark silhouette in the way. George stands, leaning on the doorframe, looking out at me. It’s so dark outside that I can barely see him properly, only very bright edges. I slam the car door shut and walk up to him, trying not to smile too wide or star crying with relief.

One day, can you believe it? That’s all it took away from this man to have me at his feet. I couldn’t walk out on him. I just couldn’t stomach it if I tried.

As I get closer, I see he’s not dressed in pyjamas or a dressing gown as you might expect this late at night. He wears a high neck, baby blue shirt with swirling orange patterns on it, still done up to the very top button, and trousers that are distinctly more tamely designed. He’s not wearing socks, his sleeves are rolled up a little, he looks like he’s just got back from a long day. A long day? At this hour? It must be 3 or 4 in the morning. I wonder what he’s been up to.

Most of all, I wonder what he’ll say.

“Hi.” I breathe, standing below him on the cold driveway pavement. I don’t think he knows what to say. His liquid dark eyes run all over me, all over my body, the food, our car. Oh yeah, I wonder how he got home today. No doubt he’s been recording, but I wonder who took him there and who drove him back. Perhaps he called a car. John and Paul do it all the time these days. It’s easier, especially with all the press everywhere. We’re not so easily followed.

His handsome mouth opens for a second without any words escaping, but it’s only for a second, like he’s connecting his mind to his vocal chords, “You bought me dinner?”

I laugh. He looks so pleased, though I can see him trying to hide he. He looks as though I’ve swept him off his feet, wooed him as I once had when we started ‘dating.’ I don’t really know if I should call it dating… more… fucking. Of course, I took him on dates, won his heart. He was the first person I’d truly wanted to mate with, I had to make it special. But before I had taken him on dates, I’d already fucked him. Well, I don’t know, it worked as well as any other relationship, we just started backwards.

“I said I would.” I remind him, handing him a bag. He scoops it up and pokes his nose into it. I can’t imagine how he would like the smell, but he has yet to have had dinner, he’s probably not even concerned about how it tastes.

I must say, and don’t laugh, that when he’d told me on the phone that he hadn’t eaten, worry set into my mind. He hadn’t eaten? George Harrison had not descended on any food in the house, or in the vicinity. Something had to be up. I look at him, he doesn’t look sick. I wonder if, at the studio, he had another fight and it was big enough to lessen his appetite. I do hope not. I know it may sound nasty, but I hope he’s just not feeling well. I don’t want it to be yet another argument.

I follow him into the house and we head into the living room. Tonight, there is no need for cutlery or plates. We place the food in their little, plastic containers out on our coffee table, sitting on the floor to be closer to it. We don’t speak for the first few moments as we fill our faces and our sections of the table with all the food we want to eat.

It’s George who pipes up first, “Thank you. I hadn’t realised I didn’t have dinner.”

“How did you manage that?” I asked, trying to sound both mocking and concerned, though it is hard to do so through a layer of half chewed bread in my mouth.

George laughs a little, “It’s been a bit shit and I’ve got a lot going on up here,” He points at his head, “So I just kind of… bypassed food.”

I feign a gasp, “My George Harrison would never forget food. It’s his one true love.”

He doesn’t seem to find that so funny. Either that, or something had gone down his throat the wrong way. His expression became solemn, he sat back from the table a bit, avoiding eye contact with me. “I have been feeling less and less like your George.”

What! I panic, “What do you mean?”

He sees the worry in my eyes and panics himself, “No, I don’t mean you, it’s not you. I upset you the other day. I can be such a fucking dick…”

“When you’re coked up.” I butt in. I don’t mean to sound so annoyed, but he always seems to forget that he’s on drugs when he upsets me. That is always the way. If he is able to see it, he might be able to stop it by not taking the drugs.

He looks at me apologetically, “Yeah, I know. The guys blamed me for you walking out…” His voice trails off as though he’s not talking to me, as though he’s scolding himself.

“It wasn’t just you. It’s all of you at once.” I explain, “You all fight, none of you can get along and I’m sitting there listening to everything, letting it play on my mind and not being able to play the drums because my mind is elsewhere.”

“I’m sorry.” He mutters.

Gently, I reach for his hand, “Look, I still love you, I’m not going anywhere now, ok. But I hope you know that I won’t be coming back to the band.”

“I know.”

I go to say something else, but I’m not sure what. I end up sitting there, looking at him as he looks into his lap. Our hands lay intertwined between us. I love you, that’s what I probably should say, but I can’t. Instead, I bring his hand up to my lips and kiss the knuckles. He smiles weakly up at me, then I suggest we get back to eating.

“Then,” I say, trying to sound more enthusiastic, “we can get into our bed and have a cuddle, because fuck do I need one.”

We laugh and use the bottom of the sofa as a back rest. I feel like falling asleep here with George’s hand in mine, on the floor like this.

Chapter Text

John sits with a coffee between his legs. Steam streams from the top of it, rising up and curling with his cigarette smoke that spills from his mouth. His hair is messy. His shirt is open to about mid-chest, but doesn’t make a fuss of it, you know, I don’t think it was done really on purpose, like to be sexy or distracting. It’s pretty hot in here and we’ve actually been doing some work for once.

We’ve got a good start on Paul’s song ‘Back in the USSR,’ which he played drums on. It felt wrong, of course it did, but he did a good job of it, given the circumstances.

But John has mostly managed to keep his mouth shut today, which I expect is why we’ve done so well. We’re preparing to do the next recording of ‘Back in the USSR,’ that’s how good it’s going. Still, there is something I can’t shake about him today. He’s very cold to me, silent. Usually, if he has a problem with someone, they know about it. I feel like there’s a problem, but nothing, not a word has been spoken about it. Not a fight to be had. He just sits there, downing his coffee, smoking, picking up his guitar and placing it on his lap over the coffee cup, strumming the chords for our song.

Paul and I have been talking like we’re young friends again. Apparently, John’s on his rut, so Paul says and the younger man has actually been having him for the past couple of days. I’m not sure if that is the cause for peace, because I can feel that is something not right, something specific about me. Anyway, Paul asked me how Ringo’s been doing. It’s been a weird thing, coming to work without him, even weirder that I see him every night when I go home. I forget that he hasn’t come with me, that he wasn’t there to witness fights or conversations or recordings or ideas. I talk without context at times, forgetting that he’s been away for 4 days now.

4 days. None of us thought it would last this long, none of us really believe it’ll last the week. Maybe it’s just me hoping that it won’t, because I look in Ringo’s eyes when I’m talking about the studio and I see something that I’m not sure how to place. It’s a hardness, a strength. I think he feels better away from the craziness of the studio. He’s happy to be at home or running his own, private errands. He has space and time like he never has had before. A big part of me worries that he truly is out of the band for good.

In any case, Paul tells me he hopes for the best. He wants me to tell Ringo how missed he is, whether he’ll listen or not. I’ll tell him tonight when I get home.

Right now, however, I’m sitting on the stairs that lead up out of the studio, having a break. We all are. George Martin is doing his thing in the control room with a very focused, yet pleased look on his face. Since we’ve not been having a go at one another, he’s been a lot happier to just get down to work. Nothing is too painful.

Paul is pacing the room, darting from instrument to instrument with a cup of coffee in his hands and a sandwich that he keeps returning to sitting by his piano. He’s been quite energetic today. He wears a soft, red jumper whose colour has faded a little and that has been worn so much, the neckline has stretched somewhat. It might have even been John’s judging by the oversized look, which is sweet. Its sweet to see him wearing something that belonged to John, just like he belongs to John, he still does, no matter how much they fight. He has complained a few times of the top being too hot to wear in the studio, but he plays sometimes with the sleeves so fondly I wonder if he actually wants to take it off or if he’d rather sweat like a pig in it.

Then there is John, who sits amongst all the instruments. I want to know what the hell I’ve done to make him so quiet to me. It’s more disconcerting that he is quiet, rather than being loud and assertive. I study every look he shoots in every direction. He never looks over here. Come on, there has to be something up if he can’t even bring himself to look my way!

I finish my food- a sandwich and a packet of crisps that wasn’t as nice as expected- and I stand up, walking over to Paul, who is standing over his iconic bass at the moment. I tap him softly on the back as I walk past him. I’m actually heading off to the toilet and I want him to come with me, because it’s the only place we might get to have a private conversation. As he shoots his gaze up in response to me, I notice, in my peripheral vison, John looking up. Ah, so now he’ll look.

“Loo?” I mutter. Paul nods and follows. There’s nothing weird about two men going to piss together, right? Sometimes I forget what the outside world might think if ever they looked into our recording sessions. In here, no one bats an eyelid if you head off to the toilet and your best mate comes too. No one really notices the little things you do.

“You alright?” Paul asks, dripping energy from his lips.

“Yeah, I wanted to ask you about John.” I say, trying to keep things as light-hearted and jolly as he is so that he doesn’t get worried about anything. It’s never an easy thing to ask to talk about one of the other guys once you’ve made a point of making sure they’re out of earshot. People immediately assume bad news.

Thankfully, Paul seems too distracted to be concerned, “Yeah, what about him?”

We push the toilet door open and go about our business as we still talk. We don’t find that weird either. We’ve fucked in the same room as each other, we’ve peed in smaller toilets and way closer together, we’ve had every awkward situation thrust in our faces many a time. This is nothing.

“Is he ok with me?”

“Why wouldn’t he be?”

“He seems to be ignoring me a bit.”

Paul shrugs, “Probably distracted. I told you that he’s on his rut, right? We haven’t been in here yet, to… you know. He might need it soon.” We both chuckle a little. This room is not only a bathroom, but it has acted as our private meeting place and our fuck chamber for when we’re in heat and we can’t stand being in the studio without relieving ourselves. I laugh when I think of the times Ringo has brought me in here. One of the most memorable times what when he pinned me against the wall and knotted me so slowly, teasing me, that I had slicked all the way down my thighs and coated the front of his too. He laughed as I groaned, begged and cried for him. I couldn’t care less who heard me, if anyone did. It was so perfect back then.

“I know, I know. Just, I don’t want anything to be awkward. I haven’t got any problem with him at the moment.” I say as I wash my hands. Paul comes and washes his by my side before we start to head back.

“Wow,” He gasps, half laughing, “Are you telling me that we’re going to have a whole day without any fights?”

“I can’t promise that, but I can promise that we’re going to get some work done.”

He pats me on the back, looking delighted, “Then let’s get some done.”

Before we actually get into the studio, Paul stops me and smiles. “I know that you’ve been feeling a bit shit about Ringo not being here.” He says softly, “We’re all feeling it. We do love him so much, we all love each other like we used to, it’s just…”

“…so hard?” I offer.

Paul nods, “And we will keep fighting, its not going to be easy.”

“I know.”

There’s not much either of us want to say. I think he was just warning me, letting me know that he is well aware of the reality. Four men who’ve been in each other’s company since being teenagers, having so many loses, gains, pros and cons, you can imagine the strain it puts on our relationships.

But then, there are times like these when I’m thankful to have gone through every bit of it, because you know who true friends are.

And my true friends are those who tell me to get off my arse, stop complaining and get on with work.

Chapter Text

Today… today has been a good day! Fuck has it been good. How many times in the past week have we been able to just sit down and get some bloody work done? With a recording in the bag, along with several others we could’ve chosen from, we’re starting to build up a song and, though I do miss Ringo, I’ve got to say that I’m proud of my drum part.

God, though, I do hate being on drums. I’ve no idea how Ringo manages to look so cool and collected. I’m constantly strapping my brain into gear, forcing it to focus, to play the rhythm at a constant, right speed. I feel overly self-conscious on the drums. I wish Ringo would come back.

It’s been four days without him. I’ve noticed that George has seemed a bit down in the dumps and I’d like to stay that, if I were in the same position, being without my Alpha at work, I’d be the same way. Unfortunately, that is not the case. If John wanted to piss off for an hour, a day or something, things might be a little easier.

No, I shouldn’t think that! He’s not been so bad. He’s been quite willing to work, which is strange considering how far into his rut he is. It usually lasts a week and by this time- his 6th day- he’ll have gotten so sick of the aching, building up like a balloon ready to pop, that he has no attention span at all. Usually, he’ll want me where ever he can take me. We had a short rendezvous just outside studio 2 when it was very quiet this morning, but nothing since. I guess it might be dying down now, or, less likely, he just wants to get on with work. I doubt the latter.

I walk past him a few times in our break. I totter to my piano and over to my bass, sit on the drums stool and check the strings on John’s acoustic guitar. He doesn’t really pay any attention apart from offering me a drag of his cigarette. When I accept, I stand very close to him. I’m not desperate to fuck, I’m more trying to gauge his mood. He seems distracted, but I can’t tell if it’s because of his rut or some other reason. I notice his eyes swiping up my body as he meets my gaze.

“Feeling ok?” I whisper to him.

He nods, “Fine. You?”

“Great. If we can get Back in the USSR done, we can look at starting one of your tracks, yeah?” I suggest enthusiastically.

John laughs loudly, “Can you ever talk about anything other than work? I am your mate, you know.”

I laugh back, “I guess I could.” But we fall silent after that. I go back to doing whatever I have been doing and George walks over to me when I’m fiddling with my bass. He taps me on the shoulder as he passes, gesturing for me to follow him. Having nothing much else to do, I happily oblige.

We walk to the toilet together. George, I’ve noticed, is walking quite slowly, lethargically, as through something is dragging him down. Everything apart from his guitar playing seems to be this way. It’s as though he puts everything he’s got into playing guitar, then has no energy left for normal, day-to-day tasks. Being without Ringo has really put him down. I try to stay enthusiastic, keeping us lot working instead of hanging about, feeling shit for ourselves. It should prevent fights, giving us less time to do so, but John always takes it as me trying to take over, to manage the band. I hate when he says I’m trying to be like Brian Epstein. I know, deep within me, I’ll never be like him. He was one of a kind, a friend as much as a manager, but if no one else will pick this band up off the floor, why can’t I be the one to try?

Instead of getting pissed off at my own mind for bringing up John’s hurtful words, I distract myself by talking to George. I’m glad we’ve been able to talk a bit more over these past few days. Even our friendship has been strained since we’ve come back to the studio. It seems we’ve all had little pet hates we’ve put up with for all these years, and they’re all coming out now, in petty, little fights when we should be working. It’s very frustrating.

“You alright?” I ask. George reacts almost as though I’ve startled him, like he didn’t know I was hear. His head shoots up from looking at the floor, his long, chocolate-brown hair flipping around his neck as he moves so sharply.

“Yeah,” He replies slowly, taking a moment before he adds, “I wanted to ask you about John,” with some forced energy lifting his words.

Responding calmly, I ask him what about John, though I think I know what’s up. John hasn’t been arguing. It’s giving me the creeps a bit, because he hasn’t been happy, fun, high John either, but as I said, it can’t be much. He’s probably just distracted because he’s on his rut.

The only thing is, George assumes there is something else up. He worries that John’s got something against him. I doubt it very much. He’s been quiet to me too. I tell George it’s all fine. I make a joke about John and me coming in here to have a quick one to calm John’s rut for a while. We both laugh.

I’ll ask John tonight if everything is ok, just to be on the safe side. I don’t tell George my plan, because I know he’ll tell me not to do it. He’ll worry that I’ll say something like ‘George thought you were being nasty to him today…’ and it’ll look like he cares too much what John says. God, both these boys put too much thought into how each other sees them. It’s pathetic, really. The only person that never did that was Ringo. I can partly see now why he left. He’s far too nice and far too genuine to hang around with us.

After our trip to the loo, George and I return to the studio, though outside it, I do stop him for a second. It’s so obvious that he dreads walking through these doors that I feel horrible if I just let him go through that pain alone. I softly take his shoulder and hold him back before he opens the doors. He swings his tired body against the wall, leaning on it as he very gently smiles, waiting for me to speak.

“I know that you’ve been feeling a bit shit about Ringo not being here. We’re all feeling it. We do love him so much, we all love each other like we used to, it’s just…” I trail off as I think of what to say.

He nods and looks away from me as he finishes my waning sentence “…so hard?”

I continue, thinking all the while of Ringo. “And we will keep fighting, its not going to be easy.” The thing is, I want Ringo back, I really do, but I see now why he’s gone. It’s probably easier for him, I hope it is. If I was in his position, I probably wouldn’t have waited this long and this far into this album to leave. As soon as I’d seen the worst of how it could be, I would’ve been out of this studio. I say the worst, but I don’t doubt that we’ll keep making worse situations for ourselves, beating it like it’s a personal best or something.

All George can reply with, whether he knows my true intention or not is, “I know.” After that, we walk into the studio as if all is normal.

For the rest of the day, well into the evening, we finish ‘Back in the USSR’ and start on John’s song, which is ‘Dear Prudence.’ That goes pretty well, though we get close to fighting when John decides to do a run through without giving us enough instruction. He’s so lazy, hoping we’ll just play and everything will just happen, come together like magic. I have no idea what I’m doing and, as I’ve already said, I’m not confident on the drums. It’s bad when I know exactly what I’m doing, it’s even worse when I don’t. Somehow, I manage not to shout at him and we get a vague outline of what we’re doing ready for tomorrow.

Finally, at around 11 O’clock, we decide to call it a day.

John packs up his things and goes to grab his coat and hat from a chair piled away in the corner. George has sprinted out the door so quickly, he’s like a cartoon character leaving a dust imprint of himself in the air. I think he’s excited to get home to Ringo. As I gather my things up to leave too, I remember an idea I had earlier that I have to ask George Martin about before I leave. More importantly, though, I must do it when John can’t hear, or else it won’t work.

“Ready, luv?” John asks from the other side of the studio. I look up over at him, blankly trying to think up an excuse to go into the control room and speak to George M.

“Meet me in the car, I’m going for a piss.” I tell him, much to his pleasure, because he laughs loudly at me.

“Of course, luv.” He leaves a second later as I pretend to walk towards the toilet. I do feel bad about this, but I decided I was going to do it a while back…

I’m going to do a track all by myself. I know that I can, I’ve got it all planned out. I just don’t really want anyone interfering with it, and there will be a day, most probably next week, that I’ll be able to come into the studio earlier than John and George, so I’d really like to get it done.

One thing about this album, it has to be a double one. I don’t really want to, none of us do, and not just because of how awkward it is to be in the studio. We all want to finish up this contract with EMI and this is the quickest way, just doing as we’re told, but, despite what people may think, we can’t think up usable material lightning fast. We’re expected to do 28 or so tracks. Meanwhile, we’re all getting into fights, can’t stand the sight of one another and really don’t want to be here. Either we all need a huge break or we’re going to break apart. I do pray it’s the former.

With John gone, I nip into the control room.

“Paul, I thought you’d left!” George M laughs, startled by my sudden appearance, “I’m very glad all of you got some work done today, it was almost peaceful,” He adds.

“Yeah, I know, it was good.” I say, smiling happily into the studio. Then my brain snaps me back into action, “Erm, could I have a word with you about something?”

“Aren’t you already?” He jokes.

I laugh softly, “Yeah, I guess so. I was wondering if studio 3 might be free next week. I have something I want to start. The other guys don’t really need to know about it. I just want it recorded.”

His expression turns surprised as he nods slowly, trying to understand what I’m asking of him, “Ok, that should be fine. Studio 3 will be open, so if you want to come in and use it, you know what to do. Have you told anyone else about it?”

“Not yet,” I admit, “I might let John know tonight, just so he’s not pissed off to high heaven.” We laugh together, though I have no intention of telling John. With my thoughts hanging over me in shame, I head out to see my lovely mate of whom I am going to probably lie to and hide from. I am a shit person.

Oh, and I’ve got to ask him if he’s got some problem with George. This could be really fun…

“Had your piss then?” John says to greet me as I duck into the passenger seat of the car. He’s sitting with his legs either side of the steering wheel and I notice his hard-on pressing through his dark jeans.

“Uh hu,” I mutter, “Should we get going?”

I strap myself in and John sits up properly as he starts the engine. He pulls off onto the road, the street lamps being the only source of light in the car, as it is incredibly dark. I’m so used to going home at this time of the night that my eyes adjust really quickly to the darkness. I study John’s face as shadows are thrown over it. He looks quite content, quite normal, very handsome. His round-lens glasses sit on his nose, hiding his eyes from me. I’ve noticed how discoloured the glass is getting from all that smoke rising up. He chain smokes, we all do. I didn’t realise the effect it can have on something like glasses. They’re turning yellow. To be fair, I can’t see them so much in this light.

“Today was good.” I say optimistically as I gaze at him. I think he was starting to notice that I was looking his way, I felt I had to say something.

“Yeah, it was.”

“You did a lot of work.” I observe.

John chuckles, “I know, it’s a bit unusual, isn’t it?”

“Yeah!” I laugh, “I was surprised.” We both giggle for a moment. It’s like how we used to be, laughing all the time, making jokes about everything. John’s laugh is infectious, twinkly and loveable. I hate to ruin the mood, but I have to be serious again. “But… erm, George was… he thought you were ignoring him a bit. I was wondering if you’re ok?”

He shuffles in his seat, repositioning his hands on the steering wheel. In a low voice, his smile dropping off his face, he says, “I’m fine.”

Oh, come on! No one who says they’re fine is actually fine. “Are you pissed off at him for some reason?” I ask.

He grinds his teeth, “No.”

I sigh loudly. It’s so frustrating being with John, knowing him so well,

“John, you’re lying.” I state.

“So what if I am?” He murmurs, “If George has a problem with me, he should’ve said.”

“He doesn’t have a problem with you, that’s exactly the thing. He asked me if everything was ok with you, because he doesn’t want to have a problem with you. He wants to keep the peace between all of us.”

We both fall silent. Oh my God, this man makes me want to scream out in frustration. It used to be in sexual frustration, when he used to make me slick for him and give me not a bit of release. Nowadays, he’s so annoying because he refuses to tell me anything and, because I know him all too well, I can tell things about him, like how he’s feeling, just by small gestures or expressions or changes. He thinks he’s hiding all of this, but by trying to hide his emotions, he’s displaying them for me.

I watch his eyes roll and hear him sigh. His hands tap angrily on the steering wheel or the gear stick. Then he opens his mouth and looks over at the window closest to him as he mutters, “I want Ringo to get the fuck back into the studio…”

Chapter Text

Not everything is so fantastic when you have a lot of money and not much to do. When George returns home after being at the studio all day, I always seem to be home too, waiting for him. In traditional- though the world is moving on quite a bit- Alpha/Omega pairs, the Omega stays at home waiting for the Alpha, especially true when the former is in heat. Yet, here I am on the fourth day running, sitting at home, waiting for George.

I have actually done something today, though. I have been out, I went for lunch, but that’s not the exciting thing. I wrote a song! Can you believe it? I’ve never been one for writing songs before and, even if I did, I’d feel totally intimidated by my bandmates, so much so that I’d never show it to them. Now, I don’t have the pressure of three wonderful songwriters ready to criticise my idea, and trust me, had I stayed in the studio at this time, there would certainly be some bloody harsh words tossed about.

I do, though, really want to show George. He’s a great songwriter and he’s an incredible composer. I want his input and I’m not afraid to ask him for it. I feel as though there has been a great weight taken from my mind. When it’s just me and George, it’s all a lot easier.

He strolls through the door and treads through each room on the ground floor of our house to find me. When he sees me, his arms are thrown around my shoulders, his lips crushed against mine.

“Hard day?” I ask, once I have my lips back to myself.

“Actually,” George replies, not loosening his grip on me, “It’s not been so bad. I’ve missed you, though, I have.”

“Well, you’ve got me now.” I say, stroking his back, “You’ve really got me.”

As we go into the living room instead of hanging out in the hallway leading away from our front door, we do our usual thing of exchanging stories of the day. I hear that they’ve finally finished a song in the studio and are moving on. John’s been icy to George and Paul’s been a good friend. It’s weird now, because I know these men that George talks about well enough to be my brothers, yet they feel like work collages I always hear about and never meet.

I tell George about my escapades into small cafes, wearing hats and scarves in the middle of summer just to hide my distinctive likeness. I tell him that no one recognised me and that I have to take him to one place, one restaurant that I know he’ll love.

“The portions are so big, you could give it to an elephant and it would still leave some!” I laugh.

“Sounds like my kind of place.”

We then talk about dinner, all the while, I’m wondering when I should bring up my song. George seems pretty tired and I offer to cook. He slumps on the sofa in the living room, still wearing his coat and refusing to take it off, saying that it’s too bloody cold in the house. I follow him onto the sofa, promising to cook in a while, once I’ve had my fill of kisses from my Omega. I lay on top of him, straddling his thighs, and I persuade him to part from his coat. It’s funny; when I’m kissing him, he seems to do as I say.

I think I’ll leave my good news until later. I’ve got some catching up with my lover to do. Then I’ll get cooking or he’ll have a go at me.

This is how it should be. I should have my Omega by my side, laughing, joking with him, snogging him until his lips are swollen and visibly well-kissed. I should be doing as I please with my time, making my own projects, doing my own thing every day. I have the time and money, what the hell was I complaining about before.

As George and I make out, he switches to be on top. He’s practically weightless, though those long legs of his take some folding to get in the right position. I squeeze my fingers into the tight crease between his thigh and calf and pull him close to me. Fuck, this is delicious. I may not like sitting at home like some trophy wife all day, but when I get to have my Omega moaning on top of me as soon as he gets home, it’s worth all the names I could get called.

The only thing to spoil it now is the doorbell ringing through the house. If we were upstairs, we might’ve gotten away with pretending- to each other more than to the person ringing- that we didn’t hear it, but downstairs, there is no lying. It trills out loudly, trying to grab one of our attentions. George pauses with his tongue flicking upwards to taste my top lip. I stop breathing as though we’d just been caught out by the press.

“I’ll go.” George says, pulling up his shirt collar which seems to have been tugged wonky. That might’ve been my fault. He swings his right leg off from over me and hops into action, heading for the door. The person rings the bell again, probably wondering why the hell we’re taking so long.

I get up too, albeit a few steps behind George. He’s already opened the door by the time I’m on my feet, and I slowly pad towards him as I button up my shirt again and fiddle with the jeans that have thick lines in them from being folded in odd positions. I brush them off while standing in the hallway. When I look up to see who is on our doorstep, I’m greeted with the sight of a telegram boy, all dressed up in a uniform that’s slightly too big for him. I can see his bike, leaning on the wall around our driveway.

“Erm… telegram for Mr Starkey?” He says quietly.

George smiles, “Yes, I’ll take it.”

“Ok…” He hands over a slip of brown paper and tips his cap to us both, meeting my gaze for a moment. There’s a twinkle in the kid’s eye when I think he realises who we are, but he hasn’t a chance to say anything to us, because George has too quickly shut the door. He spins around on his heels, grinning, and stretches his hand out with the telegram laying in his palm.

“You read it? Who’s it from?” I ask, taking it from him.

“I’ve no idea.” He mutters and walks up beside me, planting his chin on my shoulder, his arms around my waist.

I look down at the telegram and study the top inscription, which is handwritten by someone. It has a name and a time. The time reads 11:45. It’s about 1 or 2 in the morning now. I wonder how the hell they got someone to deliver this now!

“It’s from Paul.” I say, quietly, “It says… You're the best rock'n'roll drummer in the world. Come on home, we love you.” Reading the words for the first time out loud, before I’d even taken them in in my head, I’m not sure how to react. I stare down at it for longer than I should while I feel George move his head from against mine. He’s looking at me, probably waiting for some kind of reply, a reaction. Nothing comes.

“That’s nice of him.” George optimistically states.

I’m not feeling so jolly about it. “Why does he want me back?”

“Because we love you, Richie. We all want you back!” George kisses my cheek. I haven’t moved my head, my eyes are stuck, mulling over the words.

“Were you a part of this?” I shoot a look at him, holding the paper in one hand, pointing at him with it.

He moves away and creases his brow, “No, why would you think so?”

“You said you supported me. Is this some kind of way you all thought up to get me back into the studio?”

George starts to look physically annoyed. His eyebrows knot, his expression hardens. There’s a level of confusion in his face that probably stems from lack of understanding where my sudden hostility has come from.

I’ll tell you where! It’s come from standing for hours in a studio where everyone is having a go at everyone, even me, and I’ve done nothing to piss anyone off. It’s come from doubting myself. It’s come from being told I’m supported by the person I love, then having an indication that they are going back on that.

“No, of course it’s not. We all want you back, Richie, but read it! It’s from Paul, not from me, and I do support you in walking out. Fuck, if I had the guts to do it and leave everything behind, I would, let me tell you! I would never be sneaky and try to make you do something you wouldn’t want to do.” George yells, then looks me hard in the eyes, my hostile, accusing eyes and he says, “But if you want to believe that I did this, then fucking believe it. Shows just how well you know me.”

He storms off upstairs, leaving me to feel fucking sorry. I didn’t mean to blame him, I didn’t…

I let a few moments go by, in hope it might defuse some of the anger. I head into the kitchen and put the oven on to heat it up. I make a drink for myself and potter around, looking for the sheet of paper that has my lyrics on it. Not now. I’ll tell him about it once I’ve apologised.

Once about 20 minutes have passed, I head upstairs too. I find George lying face down on our bed, pillows over his head and under his feet. He’s such an odd thing. I have to stop myself from laughing as I stand in the doorway of our room. Softly, I knock on the door. I see his foot twitch, but he doesn’t bother acknowledging me.

“Georgie, I’m sorry.” I breath.

His head pokes out from under the pillow, his long hair splayed over it. His eyes are shut. “I’m sorry.”

I cock my head to the side, “For what?”

“I didn’t get Paul to send you a telegram, I promise for that part, but I can understand why you got upset back there and why you’ve left and I really do promise that I support you, even though I haven’t recently.” He turns around onto his back and props himself up on his elbows. He opens his dark, chocolate-coloured eyes with sincerity brightening them a little. Boy does he look handsome, but my brain cannot focus on that. I can’t quite believe that’s he’s apologising again. I’ve no idea what to say, so he carries on.

“I know you came back to me and I know you said that you weren’t mad at me or blame me, but I sort of blame myself for you walking out, because I was an arsehole that day. I know it was heading that way anyway, but it was my fault that it happened on that day. And I don’t listen to you well enough, which I should.”

My heart skips a beat. I have not known another soul that George has openly, happily apologised to. I want to wrap my arms around him, but I do need to keep some of my ground, instead of crawling into his comforting arms.

“Well,” I chuckle a little, “I can’t argue with that, but please don’t blame yourself. I shouldn’t have got mad at you downstairs.”

“No, you should’ve got mad at me and never come back home. Why are you so sweet, Richie? If you were anyone else, they wouldn’t have come back to me.”

Christ, I’m going to cry. I grit my teeth, “I love you. I can’t live without you. You were high, that’s not how you really are to me.”

“You take so much from all of us and you fucking stand your ground. I don’t blame you for pissing off out of the studio, I really don’t. You have every right to, and you can send a telegram back to Paul and tell him to stick his up his arse.”

We laugh, though I’m fighting back tears. I wipe my forehead nervously and when I look back up at George again, he’s off the bed. He pads around it, heading for me, his hands reaching out to smooth against my chest. They run up until the tips of his fingers are touching my neck, then we kiss again.

“No more sorrys for now.” I tell him between kisses. He nods, but says nothing else. I sneakily push him back towards the bed.

He buckles against the mattress, bouncing a little, because he’s so bloody light. I wait for him to steady before climbing up on top of him as I had when we were on the sofa and I tenderly lick his jawline.

“Oh!” I suddenly remember, as though this seems to be the right time to tell him, “I wrote a song.”

He bursts out in laughter, though I know he’s not taking the piss out of me, “You wanted to tell me that now.”

“Yeah,” I giggle back, “Seemed like the right time.”

He rolls his eyes, looking so very handsome with a smirk on his lips, “Well, not the best timing ever. Could we finish with this, then you tell me about it?”

“Then I make dinner?” I tease. He takes it a little more seriously.

“Maybe you could do that before you show me your song.”

I kiss him hard to shut him up.

Chapter Text

“If George has a problem with me, he should’ve said.”

Ok, I know for a fact that George has many problems with me, but this time, it’s the other way around. Yes, I’ve got something against him and yes, I may have been less than kind to him. It’s not anything unusual these days. We all fight, we all scrap on each other, but we fucking get on with our lives. We don’t go to our friend’s mates like we’re old women and bitch about each other. If we’re going to bitch, we do it to each other’s faces.

But if old Georgie wants to play it this way, I will too. I sit quiet and when Paul tells me something, I don’t give him a smidge of information. George can go fuck himself.

“He doesn’t have a problem with you,” Paul sighs, “That’s exactly the thing. He asked me if everything was ok with you, because he doesn’t want to have a problem with you. He wants to keep the peace between all of us.”

Fucking peace keeper! He’s never been interested in keeping the peace before. He’s the fucking hippy and he can’t get along with any of us. Not my problem.

I shut my mouth, ignoring the fact that Paul is gazing at me, watching me as though I’m a movie and I’ve yet to reveal my twist.

Well, there isn’t any fucking twist. I’m angry and that’s it. George is just going to have to get over himself.

As the only sound between us, the car’s tires gripping on the road, builds, I feel the familiar heat of my rut building within me. Paul, in my peripheral vision, is looking as handsome as ever. I just want to consume him. I’d happily pull over and take him in the car, but I can’t be sure that no one will catch us. Even if it’s some hobo on the streets, he might let slip that he was sure he saw Paul McCartney getting fucked by John Lennon and the rumours would escalate. Still, I wonder if it’s worth all the hate we’d get, just so we would fuck as we please.

I have to think of something else. The first thing that comes to mind is… well, Paul, bent over on ur dressing table. I shake that a side. The next image is of the same variety. Chirst, I need to think of something not sexual at all else I might come untouched.

My mind zips through a load of people that will turn me off at the moment. George comes to mind. I’m so pissed off at him, I look past the fact that he isn’t bad looking and play on my anger.

Well, the problem is, I’m not actually pissed off at him. I’m somewhat jealous.

He acts as though he’s so sad as he pads around the studio. He mopes about, barely talking, focusing on the work in hand or running off to call Ringo. You see, he still has Ringo. His mate hasn’t abandoned him. He has abandoned everyone else, though. By leaving the band, he’s left us as a trio and we’ve had to hide it from everyone.

But George is fine. Ringo sits at home waiting for him. He has no right to act all sad.

Ok, I’m upset at Ringo, more than anyone, yet, as much as I want to, I can’t hate him, not like how I thought I felt about George.

Stuck in a loop of wishing I could hate my friends and realising that I can’t, I really have to say anything, just so my mind won’t get bored and go back to thinking of fucking Paul.

 “I want Ringo to get the fuck back into the studio…” I concede. God, I sound fucking weak. I hate the way Paul almost looks pleased that I admitted something. He acts like I’m a child who has finally called him ‘daddy.’ I’ve called him daddy before, I guess, so this is the next exciting thing.

“So do I.” He admits, though I already know this. It’s not news to me. It pisses me off that he feels like we’re having a moment, a connection now that I’ve got something off my chest. I know he wants Ringo back, but it’s not like he actually thinks we need the drummer. Come on, Paul could knock off song after song on his own if he wants. I suspect he’ll be the first to piss off out of the band and make some hits with only his name on the credits. I grind my teeth, angrily.

“But it doesn’t fucking matter, because he’s not coming back.” I mutter. I’m not sure if Paul hears, because there is another long silence before he decides to speak, only, not quite on the same line of conversation as I was heading down.

“But why were you pissed off at George.”

“Wasn’t.” I lie. Well, it’s sort of a lie anyway. I was pissed off at George, but more so Ringo. More actually at Ringo, but through George… look, I don’t know. I feel as though I’m constantly angry these days and if I’m not incredibly turned on- like I am right now- my default setting seems to be ‘short fuse.’ I think it’s just natural to play the angry guy, else I would have Paul right here, touch him as I’m driving, instead on messing around with the gear stick. I don’t think that would work out so well.

“Really?” Paul looks unconvinced. I sigh loudly. What the fuck am I meant to say?

“I wasn’t pissed off at him, ok? He just seemed so fucking sad for no fucking reason!” I blurt out. I ache like hell. All the guards I put up to protect myself and the blocks I place in my throat to stop me from saying whatever comes to mind have broken down. I spread my legs a little and turn my hips downwards. I can’t get any friction where I need it.

“He has a reason.” Paul counters, “He misses Ringo.”

“He fucking has Ringo. Ringo didn’t leave him, he left us!” I can’t take this anymore. I draw the car up to the second lane, then take the first chance we can to get off the road. I park up in a residential street, ignoring Paul’s requests to talk. He asks me where we’re going, why I’m angry at Ringo, but ignore everything. Only once we’re parked do I acknowledge Paul at all. I look right in his hooded eyes with a desperate expression on my face.

“What?” He asks, “Why are we here?”

I turn my body around a bit, having one of my legs up, bent on the seat, “Because I can’t… I can’t do this right now, Paul. I fucking need you.” I tell him. His eyes dart down indiscreetly. There is a very obvious tent in my trousers and I’m aching against the fabric. He now can’t look away. “Will you please… please… me?” I couldn’t think of what else to say, but I think I’ve said the right thing. Smirks take over our serious expressions and a soft laugh escapes Paul’s throat.

“You know, I always knew that bloody song was about getting a chick to go down on you.” He chuckles.

I shake my head, “It was my way of asking you if you’d give me head.”

He laughs even louder, “You didn’t need to write a bloody song about it.” His hands dance up my thighs. I remember him telling me how much he loves my thighs. He squeezes them gently as he glide up them, then his fingers fiddle with my zipper. “You don’t even need to ask twice.”

After a quickie in the car- it may not be as good as knotting him, but god it’ll hold be until I get home- we set off again and, as though we’d done nothing, Paul wants to get back to our conversation. To be honest, I’d totally forgotten I was ever pissed off or we’d had a serious conversation.

Seriously, it’s a bit of a downer.

“So, you’re angry at Ringo, not George?”

I organise my thoughts. “I’m not angry at anyone,” Which is technically the truth, because I couldn’t give a fuck about anyone right now.

“Before, you seemed angry that Ringo left.”

“Aren’t you?” I ask.

Paul looks forward at the winding road in front of us, “I miss him.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” I point out.

“No, I’m not angry at him.”

“Then neither am I. I miss him too. I want him back. But George is acting like Ringo has left him the way he’s left us, yet he gets to see him every night when he goes home.”

Paul shrugs, “So… I don’t get it. You’re annoyed that George is upset that Ringo isn’t in the studio…” He works out. I mean, isn’t that what I just said. Once that seems to have clicked, he continues, “But, I know we fight, right, but wouldn’t you miss me if I wasn’t going to ever be in the studio again?”

It takes a moment for me to think of a reply. Do I kid about? Say, nah I wouldn’t miss him? I’d probably get more work done if he wasn’t there? Or do I say, of course I’d miss you. It doesn’t feel right without you.

I opt for both, “I might get more done, but I couldn’t imagine you never coming back.”

I picked right, because he giggles, “We’d all get more work done. But you see. Don’t be mad at Georgie. He’s struggling.”

“We all are.” I add. Paul nods.

“Let’s try and get Ringo back.” I say, “I bet he will, eventually.”

I agree, “He’s a sap. Do something nice for him, he’ll be back.”

“Ok. When we get in, I’ll send him something.”

We fall silent because we’re not far from home. I’m feeling all hot again. Christ, I thought this rut was fucking waning, but no. I’m half way hard again when I park the car up. Before I get out, Paul reaches out his hand and clasps his fore finger and thumb around my chin. Without saying anything, because I expected some kind of soppy love message like all his bloody songs have in them, he kisses me. I know he’s trying to be sweet, but god does it turn me on.

I want to have him as soon as we’re inside, but he insists on sending Ringo some telegram. Better fucking work, else it really won’t be worth the wait until I can knot my Omega.

Chapter Text

Ringo jolts backwards, out of me and groans loudly. I’m not far behind, with a hand wrapped around myself to finish me off.  The amount of times we’ve had to clean these sheets, no one who had ever come into our house and sat on this bed would ever do so again if they knew. If only anyone knew. I’m giggling and panting, flopping over onto my back so that I can see Ringo, who has fallen onto his side and is trying to catch his breath. He looks so bloody handsome. How the hell does he do it? Even with his hair half sticking up all which ways, half stuck to his face, he manages to keep that rugged handsome look. I’m not sure how I look, but I doubt I’m at all as pretty as he is after sex. I want round two almost as soon as round one is finished.

Gaining some energy, I crawl on all fours over to my alpha. He relaxes for me, smiling lazily as I stick out my over-used, wet tongue to lick him, all up his legs and over his torso. God, I hadn’t realised how much we’ve been sweating. He tastes like pure salt, but there is also that familiar taste that I can only describe as ‘Ringo.’ There is nothing to liken it to. And it’s addictive.

Softly, Ringo laughs as I snog his stomach. I really should start cleaning up, but I want Ringo again, I really do.

I hope it’s not my bloody heat again, hitting me right when I’m not expecting it.

“You alright, Georgie?” Ringo giggles. I tickle the sensitive part of his stomach with my tongue again and again until he exhales sharply, his body flinching. It’s too cute.

“I’m fine.” I tell him, my words vibrating into his skin.

“Get off, you loon!” He laughs, pushing me away jokingly. I lie back with a feeling coursing through my veins that I have not had in quite a while. I feel… content. I’m happy, I’m calm. I’m not angry, or uncomfortable. I don’t feel as though I have the weight of the world, the fans and the critics, all leaning on my shoulders. Right now, there is nothing but Ringo and me. That’s all I care about.

“Show me your song, luv,” I request as I stand up, finally ready to tug the covers off from the bed. I also need a shower; we really sweated quite a lot. I guess it’s because of how overly hot it is. I didn’t really notice the heat, but it has crept up these past few days. Humidity has seeped into our home, mingled with the warmth already there. I decide, after collecting the bedding, bundling it up in my arms, to open a window. The cold night air breezes in. Perfect.

Ringo shuffles off downstairs a few steps ahead of me, undressed and clad only in his dressing gown. I follow, carrying the come soaked sheets, ready to wash. As we go down, Ringo starts telling me about his song.

“I want your help for the sound, but you mustn’t laugh about the lyrics.” He warns.

We get down into the kitchen and I, before I put all the stuff into the washing machine, kiss Ringo, “I won’t laugh at anything you do, luv.”

He grins widely at that.

Once my hands are free, I sit on one of the dining room chairs while Ringo fishes a scrap of paper out from one of the kitchen surfaces. He then instructs me to get up and taps his lap once he sits down as a gesture for me to sit on him. Jokingly, I straddle him again, kissing him with the intensity that I used to muster when we were younger, when we were two horney little teenagers, only just mated, back in… oh what was it now… 1964? It feels like decades long since passed.

Ringo tells me off, tells me to sit properly. Sometimes, I forget how dominant he can actually be. Savouring one last kiss, naughtily, I spin around and sit with my back to him. He wraps his hands around my waist, presenting the paper with his lyrics on it on my lap so that I can read it.

The page is titled, ‘Octopus’s Garden’ and the first thing that strikes me is the escapism written between the lines, the subtext of the lyrics.

I’d like to be under the sea in an Octopus’s garden in the shade.

Instantly, I feel transported to a quiet, serine place. Proudly, I sling my arm around Ringo’s shoulders and kiss him, as though I have not tasted him enough today.

“Are you even reading it?” He mocks once he has his lips back.

“Yes, I’ve read it,” I insist, “And they’re so good, Richie. I know I said this as an insult before, but I don’t mean it that way now, you always want to escape, don’t you?”

Blushing a little and turning his head to the floor, Ringo nods. “Yeah, I guess so, but I only want to escape if you can come with me.”

“Oh Richie, you sap.” I ruffle his hair, overwhelmed with how calm I’m feeling. It’s funny how nice it is to feel this way, yet, because I’m so not used to it, it makes me feel so very strange, like I’m meant to be doing something, meant to feel stressed, uptight. Looking at Ringo, though, I can’t feel that right now.

I stand up and grab my guitar that sits in the living room, waiting for me. I then take up a seat opposite my Alpha and strum a set of chords.

It was late already when I had come home tonight and it was only getting later. Time slipped away from under our feet as I made up a tune to Ringo’s song. We must’ve spent much of the night, stealing the early morning hours away, composing and writing. We made a great team, losing all track of time until we could see the sun peeking through our windows. I hadn’t, for a long time, chosen to stay awake all night and I’m so very glad I did tonight. It made Ringo smile, it made me feel like I was doing something constructive. We only stopped because Ringo reminded me that I had to be in work at some point that morning.

“Oh, don’t remind me.” I had whined, but Ringo clasped a hand around me and dragged me up to bed.

“It’ll be fine, I promise.”

Now, I’m wide awake, dragging on whatever clothes I can find in the wardrobe. Ringo’s fast asleep, snoring as he always does. I tip-toe about, so not to wake him, because he does look so peaceful and its rare these days to feel so peaceful.

I know that, today, I’m going back into the battle zone. I’ll probably end up in a fight. All I can think about is that I hope Ringo has a lovely day. I’ll miss him dearly, but I won’t wish he was with me, because I would rather he be at home, happy and calm, not in the midst of us hot headed bastards fighting.

Before I head downstairs, I kiss Ringo on the back of his head. He doesn’t stir. I wish him good dreams, then quietly skulk from the room.

Downstairs remains the way we left it last night. There are papers all over the dining room table. Two of the dining room chairs are far from tucked in and two glasses of water stand, ageing by their side. My guitar leans on a third chair, looking like an old man in need of a lie down. Boy, did it get a working last night… or this morning.

I quickly gather the papers so that there’s less mess for Ringo to wake up to, then I check the time. I best be out. I don’t like going without breakfast, but I can’t decide what to eat. I always lose my appetite when I’m going into the studio anyway.

Paul and John are already there, as they always are. Paul is in the control room, playing back some tracks that we’d already recorded. Oddly, John says hi to me when I walk in. I suspected he might still be pissed off. He’s stylishly dressed in a psychedelic, high neck shirt with bright orange patterns swirling all over it. His trousers are no less flashy, with their brown colour broken by sporadic splashes of red. He peers over his iconic glasses to see me.

“Hi.” I mutter.

I see Paul look over at me too. He waves. Everything is nicely civil, it seems.

“You ok, John?” I ask as I take up a seat opposite him. He looks a bit surprised that I’m talking to him. I can’t be bothered to hold a grudge at the moment, so, as long as he keeps the peace, I shall too.

“Not bad. You’re in a cheery mood. Been off with your Alpha all night?” There’s a bit of bitterness in his words that I’m not sure where it has come from, but I let it brush over my head.

“Yes, actually.” I say lightly, “Which reminds me,” I look over at Paul and beckon him into the room. He slides off the pair of headphones he’s wearing and walks into the studio, fixing his hair. “I’m guess it was your idea to send that message to Ringo.” I make sure I’m laughing calmly. I don’t want either Paul nor John to think I’m mocking or accusing them.

Paul looks guiltily at the floor, “Perhaps, yes.”

“Well,” I’m not going to fight today, I’m not going to fight, no matter how much shit that message got me into yesterday. “It was a really nice gesture.”

John glances up at me for just a second, then, cases his gaze back at Paul as he says, “We all want him back, you know.”

“I do. He knows it too.” I admit, “But… erm, I don’t think he will come back.”

Paul nods slowly. John taps his foot as though he really wants to go somewhere, anywhere.

“No, well, give him our best, will you?” Paul says, “Don’t let him forget that he’s always welcome here.”

I’m about to thank him, tell him that I will, when John abruptly stands up and storms away. Paul watches him, then looks at me with wide, worried eyes.

“What’s up with him?” I mouth, “I thought we were good.”

Paul just shrugs.

Fuck… I thought today was going to be all good…

Chapter Text

“We all want him back, you know.” It’s a surprise to George when John opens his mouth, not an insult or snide comment on his lips. To me, however, it’s less unexpected. I’m proud of him admitting that he misses Ringo, both to me and to George. Ok, I’m a little surprised he said anything to George, since John isn’t the best at giving up grudges. Even if he’s proved wrong or the right, he likes to be mad at a person for the longest time possible, before it gets boring.

I drop my right hand onto John’s shoulder for comfort. He gazes back down at his lap. I notice that he’s fiddling with the watch I bought him some Christmases ago.

“I do. He knows it too.” George affirms, avoiding eye contact with either of us, “But… erm, I don’t think he will come back.”

A soft sound like footsteps starts tapping away in my ear. I glace down just long enough to catch sight of John banging his heal into the floor, uncomfortably. Trying to ignore him- I mean, I really didn’t want him to get even more angry, when he’d done so well to be peaceful today- I smile at George, saying, “No, well, give him our best, will you?” I don’t mean to sound quite as sad as I do, but I guess there’s no hiding it. The problem is, if one member of the band really does leave, I can just see the rest of us being picked off, one by one. Ringo, then George, because he’d be happier off with Ringo, then John and I will be left to tear one another to pieces. “Don’t let him forget that he’s always welcome here.” I add hastily. I’m always full of hope

John, however, is full of nothing but anger. He pushes it down when he wants to really try with us, you know, when he wants to be friends, when we’re all cool with each other, but it simmers beneath the surface because he never deals with it. He talks to me, yeah, but it’s always the same thing. He wants to be pissed off and everyone to know how he feels. We know, we can see, and it’s still not enough for him.

Like an angry toddler, he stands up and storms off. I try so hard not to roll my eyes. ‘We fucking dealt with this!’ my mind cries at him.

“What’s up with him?” George mouths at me, “I thought we were good.”

I resist the urge to sigh, to get mad myself. I take a silent, deep breath and paint a sunny smile onto my face.

“Is he doing much at home, Ringo, I mean?” I ask, turning away so that John can’t hear too well. Ringo is a soft spot at the moment, but I do want to hear how he’s doing, even if John doesn’t. One thing that really bothers me, though, is that John puts so much energy into hating people. If he put half as much into trying to get them to love him, he might have Ringo back in a split second. Ringo might now have even walked out in the first place, if that were true. But my John is too hostile.

“Er, yeah,” George replies, his tone quietened, “Actually, we spent all night doing this song.”

“A song?”

“Yeah, Ringo wrote it. I put a sound to it. It’s lovely, honestly.”

My eyes grow wide, “Ringo wrote it!” I squeal in a hushed scream, “No, he can’t keep that to himself.”

George laughs quietly, “Well, I don’t know if he’s planning to do anything with it…”

“Tell him that I want to do something with it! Can you play a bit to me?”

George looks overly flattered. He sits down in one of the many chairs scattered about the place and pulls up an acoustic guitar. He warns me not to laugh at the lyrics, because he loves them, because Ringo did so well writing them. I promise as I pull up a chair opposite him.

As quietly as possible, he strums an E chord, “I’d like to be… Under the sea… In an Octopus’s Garden… In the shade.”

I’m enchanted by the gentle sound of it. I can imagine all sorts of effects, sound and instrument wise, that would make the tune… well, the only way I can put it is a classy version of ‘Yellow Submarine,’ a good version, way better than whatever crap I wrote for that one. To be honest, I’m wholeheartedly jealous of Ringo now. He’s going to come out with a fun solo song while I’m here, trying my best to get an album out, still stuck in the looms of EMI’s contract.

George stops singing, a giant, genuine smile on his face that tells me he was thinking of his Ringo the whole time he played it.

With a whiny tone in my voice, I say, “Tell Ringo to come back. Please. That song would be so good.”

“Do you think he would come back…?” George ponders, “If you told him that?”

“No harm in trying!” I optimistically suggest, “I doubt he’d want to talk to me, though. Will you ask him for me? Just ask him if he’d collaborate with me…”

From over in the corner, John’s voice travels, “Like you used to collaborate with me.”

“What, Luv?” I ask, trying to keep things cheery.

John doesn’t look over at us, “Oh nothing. I just remember when you wanted to work with me.”

Not this again. He’s always the one who doesn’t want to write with me anymore. He hates working with me in the studio. He won’t show me his songs. How am I supposed to collaborate with a person who hides everything from me?

And it hurts even more now, because I always thing we’re over this stuff, we take a step away from it, stand up to the way we’re feeling, then we’re pushed ten steps back. And that hurts when you’re progress is constantly ruled obsolete again and again.

“John, please…”

“Please what, Macca? I said nothing.”

God, I want to punch him. I stare at him, him being all unflinchingly confident, standing on his own.

A second later I become aware of George’s hand on my upper arm. When I look at him, he tells me, just with a blink of his dark eyes, to ignore him.

“I’ll ask Ringo tonight.” George promises. I smile back at him. He has been a good friend when I’ve needed him.

The rest of the day goes a similar way. We get the backing track and main vocals all done up for ‘Dear Prudence,’ but not without John making malicious comments directed at me the whole time. He mutters things under his breath, or fucks up the lyrics deliberately to piss us off.

It gets hotter in the studio, it fills with humid air. It’s never a good time to be in the studio, least of all when it’s so boiling that our tempers stand on the very end of our last straws. Anything will set any of us off, and John seems desperate to do just that. He fucks up take after take because he knows how much I hate redoing the drumming. He acts workshy, lazing about, finding drink after drink or food after food to stuff into his face. He just doesn’t want to get anything done.

During one of our breaks, I decide to, since we’re at the end of recording another song, bring up an idea for a tune I had written. The lyrics told the story of a guy and girl meeting. It reminded me of an upbeat folk song.

I shared it with George, explaining that a friend had given me an idea for the chorus, “You know, Jimmy always says ‘Well, life goes on, brah. Well, it started from there and…” I showed him the lyrics.

George looked at it and smiled, while John hovered over his shoulder.

This was the worst part. I watched John’s eyes scan the words, then, coldly announced, “It’s shit.”

No one, not one person has ever straight up told me that my work is shit, least of all a man, my lover, who should be supportive. He used to tell me how to improve, or ask if he can help write it. I suddenly feel cut down.

“Fuck off, John.” I mutter, my voice having lost all volume.

“Oh, come on, Macca. It’s a load of old granny shit. Just fucking look at it!”

I look away from him, focusing on the floor. I feel a burst of tears and anger shooting up within me and I really don’t want to let it out yet. I ignore it as best I can.

“Even George thinks its shit, don’t you, Georgie?” John’s voice is chipping away at my energy. I peer up at George, gritting my teeth. He hasn’t noticed me, he’s looking over my shoulder at John, making stern eyes at him. He mouths something, but I don’t catch it.

“See, don’t lie to him, Georgie. You may be his best fucking friend, but it’s kinder to…”

“George…” I say under the sound of John’s rant. His eyes beg John not to do this, beg him not to speak, because he can see what it’s doing to me. George has always been able to see things. Ringo is so lucky to have him.

But does he really not like my song?

“It’s not… great…” He admits. I feel my heart plummet. “But it will sound better when we put it to…”

“Shut the fuck up,” John interjects, “You’re just trying to be nice.”

“And you’re just trying to be an arsehole.” George spits back. I feel as though I’m in the middle of a fight between my parents, something I never really witnessed. I feel sick.

Furiously, I stand up and face John, squarely.

“What, Paulie? I’m just trying to do what’s best for the band and the album, like you always say you’re doing.”

“I try, John! I try to get things done! But because you’re fucking mourning over his Alpha leaving,” I point accusingly at George, “You want to put everyone off.”

I hear George Martin telling everyone to have a break. People file out the doors. I take no notice. I’m still staring at John, boiling inside. He looks taken aback, but like he’s about to step forward and punch me in the face. I can already feel the sting, though. He doesn’t need to take a swing at me, he’s hurt me enough.

“I don’t mourn…”

“You do!” I yell, before he can finish his sentence, “You’ve been fucking pissed at him for days.”

George is trying not to laugh, or get angry himself, I can’t tell which. His lips are stretched into a half smile while his brow knots.

“Go fuck yourself!” John screeches, “I’m not pissed at Richie for leaving. I’m pissed off at this whiny dick because he acts like Richie’s abandoned him.” He nods his head towards George, who stands up and steps back a bit. He’s now angry, really angry.

“You have no idea how it feels.” He breathes.

“Are you serious? You still have Ringo at home, you can still go home and get fucked by him,”

“And you still have Paul where ever you go! Everywhere!” George explodes, his voice shredding. He tones it back as he utters, “And you fight with him constantly, and you don’t look at him twice. You don’t fucking realise what it would be like not to have him around.”

As angry as I want to be with George for not only not liking my song, but lying to be about it, I can’t be too annoyed at him when he says things like that. I feel jealous of Ringo when he does, because Ringo must rarely get the kind of shit I do. George can be cold-hearted, he can be cutting, but John wants to break me down, snap me in two or shatter me, just so that he knows he has power. He doesn’t need to do it, because I’d let him overpower me, I’d bow at his feet and kiss them, yet he still does, and it hurts ten times worse.

Right now, though, he has no idea what to say. He can’t look at me. He scowls at George, looking as though he might lash out. I want to protect George, but I’m sure that, should John do anything, George will hit back. I stand a little between then and watch John’s eyes deliberately avoid me.

“John… I don’t care if my song is shit. We want to get this album done…”

“Maybe it would be a little fucking easier if Paul wasn’t here, and I just fucked him when I got home.” He says directly to George, as though I’m not even there. My heart tears in two. I try to catch John’s eye, I try to tell him that I’m hurting, physically hurting, but he doesn’t see. George yells so loud it grates on my eardrums and I find myself yelling out,

“Will you both please just shut the fuck up!”

I know John is going to make some painful quip at me, so I place my hand up in front of his mouth. “Please.” I beg, “Please can we just get on, now.”

George shrugs his shoulders, picking up is guitar. I have to stare John down for a little longer before he does the same. God, I’m not sure I can work, I feel like I’m going to collapse, but if I don’t work, I don’t know what else I’ll do with myself.

In fact, I think if I don’t keep myself busy, I might collapse, rather than it being from doing too much work.

Chapter Text

I thought I’d surprise George by coming to get him. I got a lift up to the studios, dressed in heavy clothes to disguise myself- even though it’s boiling hot out- and waited by our car until he came out. I had to hide from everyone that passed, yet still have a look at who it was in case it was George.

It’s not that I regretted coming, but when George did eventually emerge from the studios, he was not looking happy. He was closely followed by Paul whose face was a tomato red and he looked like he’d been shouting. John was not to be seen. Something told me that today had not been a great day.

I flag George down, smiling gleefully to see if I can lift my mood. As soon as his eyes catch a glimpse of me, his expression changes. When he came out, it was hard, he seemed so deep in thought. Now, he looks drained. Without a word, he flings himself around me. I bury my nose in his hair.

“Luv…” I hum, “Luv, are you ok?”

“Bad day.” I hear a voice pipe up from behind him. Paul stands with his hands plunged in his pockets, his weight shifted on one leg. I’m not sure how to act. I haven’t spoken to Paul in almost a week. 

I’m guessing, though, judging by the fact that George seems to know that Paul is here and he doesn’t react to his presence, that he hasn’t been the problem today. I think I should be nice. George must’ve invited him here. Maybe we’re giving him a lift home… maybe he doesn’t want to go home today.

I think the latter is more likely.

“Bad day for you too?” I ask Paul while George heads around to the driver’s side of the car. I open the back door for Paul, assuming he’s coming with us, no matter the reason why.

He seems almost pleased that I talk to him so cheerily. He gets into the car and waits for me to do so as well, before he replies, “Not great.”

“He’s staying with us tonight.” George explains. I nod, smiling sympathetically. I may not know what’s gone on, but I can have a pretty good guess. George pulls the car out onto the road. It’s not that late, for once. It’s mid evening, the sun is just about going down. Streetlamps are buzzing softly, with streams of orange glow tossed onto the pavement.

There’s tension in the car that I feel like I’m the cause of. None of us really know what to say, because Paul and I haven’t had any contact since I walked out of the studio. Perhaps I could apologise for that, but it would be getting into too serious a conversation too quickly, and I also don’t feel sorry for leaving, I really don’t. I miss everyone, but I miss how it used to be, not how it has been.

Thankfully, I’m not the first to talk. Paul is.

“I heard you wrote a song, Richie. George told me.”

“Really?” I feel all self-conscious. My cheeks begin to colour.

“Yeah,” George chimes in, “I hope you don’t mind, but I played a bit to him.”

“I don’t mind at all.” I feel proud. George wouldn’t have played Paul my song unless he thought it was really good, and after all the work we did for it yesterday, I’m beyond flattered that he likes it. I don’t even care if Paul thinks it’s good or not, I’m just happy that George likes it. I put my hand on his thigh.

“Well it sounded really good… and…” He leans forward a bit, “I hope you won’t be mad at me, but I’d love to record it with you.”

I can’t be mad at the moment. Paul has had a hard enough day without me having a go at him. I wish I’d thought the same thing yesterday before I went off on George. I hope he doesn’t hate me as I say, “I’ll think about it. You’ve got some good ideas then?”

He doesn’t seem to hate me, he just looks surprised. I feel one of his hands come down and squeeze mine hopefully. I know he wants me back in the studio and Paul does too. After yesterday’s telegram, I have been thinking about it, but I’ll stick to my guns for as long as I possibly can. Being out of the studio has done me good, it really has. I feel happier, I have more time for myself and for George. Do I really want to give that up to head back into an unwelcoming hole of hate?

Well, as I say, I’ve been thinking about it.

“Yeah, I’ve got some ideas.”

“When we get home, you could pitch them to me.” I offer, then add, laughing, “I’ll probably say no to all of them.”

Paul gets the joke, “Well, you’re not in the band any more. You don’t have to take our shit.”

“Yeah…” I chuckle.

We sit, driving home, the world around us darkening at a pace so slow that we don’t notice it. Before we have done so, there are two streaming lights pouring from the front of the car, lighting the road ahead.

Now that I’ve seen Paul again today, I’m wondering just how bad it could really be if I go back to the studio. I could see, when Paul made the joke of me not being in the band any more, that George hated the thought of it, so he might be happier to have me back, by his side all day long, (though I suspect he’ll get sick of me at some point.) Paul seems to want to record with me again. He must be drumming at the moment. I wonder how he’s finding it. I would ask, but I can’t find the volume in my voice to break the silence.

The only loose wheel is John. Judging by Paul not wanting to go home with his Alpha today, I bet he’s not great. Sometimes, John can be a little terrifying. I know that he is prone to hitting to get his emotions out, and he probably packs quite the punch. I really hope he had never hit Paul, thinking about it. I never really considered that before. Still, all the more reason to accept Paul coming over, to be nice to him and hang out again.

I debate whether to re-join the band or not in my head as pull up to our driveway. Once out of the car, though, I put my arms around George and promise to make him feel better, because he looks so very exhausted, even a little pale. The three of us walk up to George and my house and, once we’re inside, collapse in a heap on the sofa.

“Dinner?” I ask, as though I need say no more. Apparently, I don’t, because George knows exactly what I mean.

“Can we order out?”

“Of course.”

We spend no time picking where we want out food from. We don’t really care, as long as there’s food and we don’t have to cook it. I call up the place, then return to sitting in the living room with the two Omegas.

“Right,” I announce, “What went on today? You both seem like you’ve had a bloody hard day’s night.”

We all have a giggle. It never stops being funny to think that we wrote a song based on one of my ‘Ringoisms’ as George calls them.

But the joking stops almost as soon as the two boys start to reminisce about their day. They tell me about more fights, more sadness, more insults. Paul looks like he might cry, George looks like he needs to punch something, but in all of this, there is something they’re not telling me. They don’t tell me why George was so upset, what got under his skin, because my George is a bit hot-headed, but he wouldn’t have started shouting just because John was having a go at Paul. Usually he leaves all of that. I push for the full story, but they both fall silent.

“I’m gonna go and piss.” George proclaims and I smile at him as he goes. Left with just me and Paul in the room, I’m not sure what to say.

“How’s drumming going?” I try.

“I hate it, Ringo. I have so much respect for you now. It’s not easy, is it?”

I shake my head, “And it can’t be easy for you when John wants to have a go every two seconds.”

He shakes his head very slowly, “I thought everything was ok. He was fine last night. We…  well, you can guess what… and he told me… something, really opened up to me. I thought I was getting through. Then he said some stuff today…”

“And you wonder how far you’ve got.” I finish. He looks over at the window as though he wants to escape. I know the feeling all too well. Every time I used to set foot in that studio, I wanted out. “Was it that bad, though?” I ask, “That you wanted to stay here tonight?”

Paul looks back at me. He looks like he was just off in his own dream world, probably writing a song in some beautiful, remote land. “I couldn’t stand to be in a room with him by the end. We weren’t fighting, but it felt like, when we were alone, that we would.”

“Can I ask you something?” I say, quickly. Paul nods. “Do you think that John would ever hurt you?”

Instantly, Paul shuffles uncomfortably. He balls his hands up together and squeezes them between his legs. His eyelashes flutter. I think he’s fighting back the urge to cry. I sit forward to make it seem cosier, more like I’m comforting him, without touching. After a moment of swallowing his tears, he licks his full lips and opens them.

“I don’t think so.”

“So, he hasn’t.”

“No. I promise you. The moment he hits me is the moment I leave him, as much as I love him.”

I take a sigh of relief. I had a horrible image of Paul cowering as John stands over him. It’s so bad that I think it’s believable, but you never can tell with people, even your closest friends.

Fondly, I rub Paul’s elbow to let him know that I’m here, then we sit together in silence until George comes back.

And when he does, the phone is ringing. He goes off to pick it up.

I look at Paul and smile, “I’m thinking of coming back into the band.” I thought I might as well tell him. “But don’t tell George.” I add.

Paul manages to smile widely, “Really!”

“I’m just thinking of it, so don’t get you…”

“Paul!” George calls from the corridor. “It’s John. Do you want me to tell him to bugger off, or to suck his own dick?”

I can’t help but chuckle. Paul looks like he might laugh, but instead stands up, walks out to where the phone is and replaces George. I hope everything is ok

Chapter Text

Fuck this. Just fuck everything.

Paul thinks I don’t see him get into George’s car and be whisked off into the evening, but I do and fuck am I glad. I can’t stand to see him tonight, no matter how fucking horny I am.

I drive home, probably speeding all the way, but no one pulls me over. If they did, I can see myself getting arrested for assaulting a police office. I’d lose my fucking rag with them if they said anything, anything. If they commented about my being a Beatle, if they ask me whether I knew how fast I was going, if they requested to see my licence. I don’t care what they’d say, whether they’re within their rights, whether they’re being nice or arse-y. I’m the mood to smash their faces in, anyone’s face in.

Who cares if I got arrested. I certainly wouldn’t. It’s one sure-fire way to get the hell out of my contract, right? I can see the headlines now; ‘Beatle imprisoned after roadside assault, John Lennon has become an awful role model to our children, The Beatles are the Devil!’

Well, I don’t give a shit anymore. I’m not a fucking Beatle. I’m John Lennon, not John Beatle. Does anyone see me as anything but part of a band?

Paul used to. Paul used to get it.

Oh, fuck him. I’m not thinking of that arsehole right now, certainly not thinking kindly of him.

Christ am I dreading tomorrow. I don’t want to go into the studio, I just fucking don’t. Who would really give a fuck if I didn’t turn up. No one went stomping around to Ringo’s place to pick him up and drag him back, they sure as hell won’t do that to me. No one can make me do anything.

Certainly not now. Not when I have the money and fame that I do. People can shit on my fame, but I’ll still be loved, there will always be fans.

I get into the house and toss open the cover of my piano. It sits, sturdy in our living room, overused and abused. I feel like getting totally lost in music. I feel like drowning myself in waves of my own voice, of loud, crunchy chords that tug on your eyes, demanding to be felt, not only heard.

I sling my coat and bag on the back of the sofa before sitting up at the piano. I don’t really know what I’m playing, what the fuck I’m singing, I don’t hear any of it. All I’m aware of is my own thoughts…

…and Paul’s words repeating like an endless stream. His and George’s words.

How could George say that I don’t appreciate Paul, that I don’t realise what I’ve got? How could he say I’m trying to be an arsehole? He’s the fucking arsehole. How could Paul say that I was sad about Ringo leaving the band when I told him that in confidence? It’s like he doesn’t know me at all, because, if he did, he wouldn’t have gone around and blabbed.

I hear the patter of rain, a few streams hitting the outside world, under the sound of my playing. It’s as annoying a sound as Paul talking, shouting at me as though he has a right.

“Words are flowing out… like endless rain.” I start to sing. I stop playing the piano, I just sing. “Nothing’s gonna change my world. Nothing’s gonna change my world.”

For all I hate the rain, the sound of it and it being a fucking nuisance, because it makes us English lot scared to set foot out of our houses, it does inspire me. How fucking cheesy is that? It sounds like something Paul would say ‘Oh the rain is so inspiring, Oh the sun makes me smile.’

Still, I feel as though I should write a song. There is always paper beside the piano, so I bring it up and start scrawling a few lines, nothing major, nothing any good.

Funnily enough, the words don’t turn out to be so angry as I had meant them. They sound more… cosmic. As I write them, my mind turns to Paul. Not because I’m sorry, but because I always feel as though I should show him my songs. It’s out of habit.

We rarely ever write together anymore. We sort of gave that up. Now, it feels like we write our own stuff, even George, and we just play it as ‘John and the band’ or ‘George and the band’ or ‘Paul… Paul and himself.’ The dick wants to do everything himself. The amount of fucking times he’s tried to tell us exactly how he wants stuff done, then he gets frustrated and does it himself, god knows why he’s still in the band. He could fucking make his own silly love songs all by himself. And, knowing him, the songs would fucking sell.

I wish I wanted to collaborate with him still, but it’s impossible. Everything has to be his way. He says that I’m the inflexible one, that I’m stubborn, but obviously he has never looked into a mirror. I should bring one to Studio 2 and tell him to regard it, then he might see that the very epitome of inflexible and stubborn stares him right in the face.

He’s always been bloody like that. The only time he ever lets loose is in the bedroom. There, there is no power play because it is all tipped in my favour. I say something and he does as he’s told. Why? Why can he do that in there, but can’t make small compromises in the studio.

Maybe I really am such an arsehole, that I am all he says I am, lazy and arrogant and stubborn, but I can’t see any other way to be. I’m not going to be pushed around, just as he will not. I can’t even imagine giving my control up for the purpose of a bit of play, fucking about in the bedroom. There is no way he’d ever get me to budge outside of our private time.

But I really don’t know how it went so wrong. I don’t understand what has changed to make us lose the ability to work together. He suddenly got all controlling, but I can’t see a specific point in which he snapped, he changed and became like that. I run through all the years we have been together and I see glimpses of controlling, but nothing, nothing like it is now.

All I see is laughs and giggles. Times we were in front of cameras, not even hiding our love for one another. Times we were alone and couldn’t stop laughing. I don’t even think we were high for every time. I think we just cracked each other up.

All I can remember are passionate nights, then rushing about to try and hide the fact we’d been fucking. I can remember kisses in the strangest of places, just because we had to get a taste of each other, just because we knew we wouldn’t get caught. Toilet cubicles, wardrobes, cupboards, back rooms and invisible corners. How we never got outed is amazing.

These days, though, no one would believe that Paul and I are in love. Not a single person who knows us. They all think we hate each other. Fans have no idea, they don’t see what we do. They’re kept out of all of this. For all they know, we’re all best friend, laughing away in the studios. They might believe that we love each other, though it would be easily dispelled with all the evidence of fights we have.

Fondly, I find myself writing;

Sounds of laughter, shades of life are ringing through my open ears…

And I know I’m writing about everything I remember about myself and Paul when we were younger. Everything I just recalled, all the fun and fame we went through, because it’s those memories that stick, not the ones where you fight, not the moments you’ve spend crying. I remember a lot of little, happy, content moments as clear as day, while I forget, so very willingly, the shit moments.

I get snapshots of memories. The day my mum died and I held onto Paul for so long that his body left an imprint on mine. The day we found out Stu had died and we cried because we were so mad that he left the band when he did. The days when I felt fat and ugly and I screamed at Paul to leave me the fuck alone. The day Eppy died and…

…and the Beatles were changed forever.

I think it was then. I think it was that moment, stepping back into the studio without Eppy. It was in that moment the world turned on its head. It all felt so wrong.

Ok… ok, I need to stop thinking about all this shit. I feel the way I did when I wrote ‘Help,’ only, I don’t want any help. I don’t want someone around, I don’t want someone to get my feet back on the ground. Back then, I was singing to Paul. Now, I’d sing it to myself.

Well, alright, I do want Paul back, but I always do. I find myself sitting, bored, feeling like shit and I know I’ve done it to myself, but I so wish I hadn’t.

With song lyrics in my hands and a head of frustrated thoughts, I skulk to the phone and dial George’s number.

I’m going to regret this. I can’t decide whether I’m going to regret this or what I did earlier more. I’ve always hated crawling back like a fucking little wimp after a fight. I’m so very rarely sorry.

“Harrison.” George’s deep, monotonous voice comes through. He sounds tired. I bet he fucking is after today. I’m surprised his voice isn’t completely broken, after all the bloody shouting.

Mine doesn’t sound so good, “Is Paul there?”

I get no reply, not really. George moves away from the phone and yells, “Paul! It’s John. Do you want me to tell him to bugger off, or to suck his own dick?”

Fucking arse. I could slap him right now. I don’t hear Paul’s reply, I just hear shuffling. It’s a good sign, though. I mean, he’s still on the phone.

A second later and Paul’s voice travels down the wire, “Yeah?”

“Come home.”

“Fuck off.”

“Please, Paulie. I have a song that I want your help on. It’ll be purely work.”

“No, are you fucking kidding. After today, you’re gonna need a much better excuse to get me home.”

“The house is on fire.”

“No, it’s not.”

I sigh loudly, “Yes, it is. I need my Macca to come and put the fire out.”

“If this is some kind of euphemism for your rut, go and fuck yourself.”

“It’s not.”

“John, I’m staying here tonight, OK? I’ll see you in the studio.”

The phone goes dead. Blinded as a flash of red passes over my eyes, I slam the receiver down, almost breaking it.

Fuck him. Fuck everything.

Chapter Text

“Georgie.”

It was late and I was dropping off to sleep. I was wrapped up under the duvet in mine and Ringo’s bed, the familiar feeling of my Alpha’s arms around me as I slowly lost consciousness.

But he called me. I felt his chest against mine. He was lying on his stomach, leaning over to me, his head hovering over mine.

“Hu?” I muttered. I’d wanted to sleep since we’d gotten home that evening, and boy was I sleepy after eating so much at dinner. I felt ten sizes bigger, but not uncomfortably so. I could happily drift off into warm dreams of… perhaps of Octopus’s gardens far away from here.

Ringo’s voice woke me again, “Georgie.”

“What is it?” I didn’t mean to be so cutting, but when I’m tired, I’m grouchy. I opened one eye and saw Ringo smiling back at me, looking excited.

“Can I come into the studio again?”

“What?” My mind was far away, over the hills, gone at that time. I didn’t properly hear what he said, but it slowly seeped into my mind as he repeated the words. I opened both my eyes fully, cocking my head.

“Can I come into the studio again?”

“Why… why would you need to ask me if you can?” I laughed. Ringo turned his head down slightly, as though he were embarrassed, “We’d all kill to have you back. But are you sure it’s what you want?”

“Yes.” He said definitely, “I miss you all and I’d love to record Octopus’s Garden with you and… Georgie, I see when you come home and you feel shit, I want to take care of you.”

My heart melted. I had to do something for him, I had to. I kissed him on the forehead and old him to stop being so silly. He can come into the studio any time he liked.

“And I don’t need taking care of,” I joked, “You bloody Alpha.”

He giggled as he fell asleep.

I didn’t get to sleep for another hour, but I didn’t mind much, because I stayed awake for Ringo. I’m knackered now, of course, but to make Ringo happy, I’d spend a week not sleeping.

I crept to the phone once he was asleep- I can always tell when he won’t wake up, because he snores quite loudly- and called one of the studio technicians. Luckily, he answered. Sometimes I wonder if these people ever get any rest. They have to deal with us for hours in the studio, then they go home and will still answer business calls well into the night. I told him to, early in the morning, order tons of flowers into the studio. I have this idea that is too good. I really want the studio to feel better than it has, to make it feel nice and calm. Flowers, flowers are a sign of peace and love. I told the technician to make sure the flowers were in there before 7, so that, even if we get up early and go in, they won’t be seen.

This morning, I tell Paul my plan. He promises to take Ringo to breakfast as long as I drop them off. There’s a place we’ve gone to a few times before, which is only a short walk from Abbey Road. If I drop them there, they can walk back to the studio and it’ll give me half an hour or so to set things up. I’m bouncing around the place in excitement and nervousness, because I want to get things over with. I hate waiting. I hate waiting for Ringo to shower, for him to brush his teeth. I don’t want to wait for Paul to get dressed, for him to spend ages doing is hair to perfection. I don’t want to wait for me to pour myself a quick drink because I wake up parched. I want to get in the car as quick as possible, then I don’t want to wait for the journey to be over, I just want it to be over already.

Ringo, sweetly, tells Paul that he’s coming into the studio today. Paul, pretending as though he hadn’t heard it from me first, jumps for joy and asks me if he might kiss Ringo. I gladly say yes, watching as surprise crosses my Alpha’s face. Paul’s lips grace his cheek just barely, but it makes him blush. I giggle. Paul is so excited to have the whole band back.

Though, I can tell he’s worried about John. He doesn’t know if he’ll turn up today. I can see him when he thinks no one is paying attention to him. He looks so deep in thought. He wouldn’t say much about the phone call last night, but I know it’s been annoying him, stuck in the back of his mind. He does look happy, however, once Ringo tells him that he’s coming back. He promises he’ll take the job of drumming off the poor bassist’s hands. That’s when Paul asks if he can kiss him.

Pretending that it’s a spur of the moment thought, Paul insists he take Ringo to breakfast. Ringo wouldn’t turn that down for the world. And Paul saves me on the excuse as to why I won’t be at the breakfast. He asks me to go and see if John is already in the studio. I say I’ll go, only if they bring me breakfast for my hard work.

In the car, we’re all a little joyful, like we’ve smoked a little too much non-standard brand cigarettes. I drop Ringo and Paul off, then drive up to EMI. Straight away, I spot John’s car, sitting, badly parked in the car park. I’m not looking forward to this.

But I also am. I skip up the steps as though I’ve never dreaded what lay ahead. The smell of the place, which is very distinctive, doesn’t bother me like it has in previous weeks. It feels like it used to, when I liked coming to the studio, when I looked forward to playing music, when I felt like a Beatle.

I get into studio 2, where two things are lying in wait for me. John, slumped in a chair, and piles of bouquets of flowers in every shade of colour I can think of. I sling the small bag I have with me down in a corner and drag off the long trench coat I mistakenly decided to wear this morning- it seems like it’s going to be another hot day. It makes enough noise for John to hear me and to sit up a bit, instantly querying why a technician had brought up a load of flowers ‘for George Harrison.’ He doesn’t even bother saying hi beforehand.

“Does he have some kind of obsessive crush on you?” He asks.

“They’re for Ringo.” I half explain as I walk over and start sorting the stems by their colours.

“Luv, this is a little too much.” He warns.

“No, it’s not.” I counter, “He’s coming back to the studio today and I wanted to make it feel special.”

John doesn’t say anything for a while. I wonder if he’s still in the room, but after yesterday, I couldn’t really give a shit. I don’t look up at him, I just continue to sort the flowers out. There is any number of types. There are bright sun flowers that smile widely, as big as Ringo’s grins. There are roses in a whole spectrum of colours, their petals all curling around, tall and handsome. There are lilies, sleek and elegant. There are smaller flowers whose names I cannot think of, if I ever knew them. Then there are a gorgeous few that are like clusters of brightly coloured dust clasped together and tied at the base by green vines. I start to bring the many shapes, shades and colours over to Ringo’s drum set.

“He’s coming here?” John pipes up after I’ve brought the majority of flowers across the room. It’s taken long enough for him to reply, long enough for the question to sound out of context.

“Yes.” I reply.

“What are you doing?”

I can feel his eyes peering over my shoulder. I stand up and stand next to him. I tell myself what I tell myself every morning and, though it never works, I always hope it will, ‘No fights.’ I won’t fight. If I don’t have something nice to say, I say nothing.

“I’m going to spell out ‘Welcome back Ringo.’”

“In flowers?”

“Yes.”

“You fucking hippy,” John laughs. I want to smack him, but I refrain. “If he’s coming in, why didn’t he come with you? And where’s Paul?”

I get back down on my knees and start writing ‘welcome,’ choosing a bright red theme for the word. It starts to look a little like our Sgt Pepper’s cover.

“They’re at breakfast. I dropped them off. Paul took him to breakfast so I could do this without him knowing.”

I hear John hum. He picks up a flower and rubs the petals between his fingers.

“Does it look ok?” I ask, standing up, having finished the first bit.

“Looks alright.” He shrugs, “Would look better if you made it a bit thicker.”

“Like how?”

Looking almost reluctant, John gets down on his knees next to me. He won’t meet my gaze as he starts to perfect the ‘welcome’ bit. It makes me grin. He doesn’t want to help, because it makes it look like he wants Ringo back so desperately- like we know he actually is. I start on the ‘back’ and watch as John goes over every letter I create to make the lines thicker, adding more and more flowers to the mix. There’s so many, by the time we’ve finished the message, we start decorating the drum set itself, tying flowers to the stand of the cymbals and twisting the stems of some around the drum sticks. I can’t wait for Ringo to walk in. I really can’t!

 

We stand back to look at our creation. John and I rarely collaborate, yet here we are, having made another type of art. The flowers are decorated perfectly. The ‘Welcome’ is in varying shades of red and pink, the letters all cursive and pretty. The ‘Back’ is in soft purples, lavenders, blues. It sits beside the Welcome, backed by a layer of healthy green. Below that is ‘Ringo’ in huge, block letters, coloured in oranges and yellows, bright as it could possibly be. We proudly smile at one another. I think we’re ok now, us two. We’re ok for now.

To look casual for when Ringo comes in, we decide to go and play our guitars, or at least seem as though we are. We take up chairs at a suitable distance from one another- quite far, so that no one knows we’re actually on good terms, because they’d know something was up-  and start picking randomly at strings, me on my electric guitar, John on his acoustic.

I hear Paul’s voice first, 10 minutes later. It travels from outside as he shouts back to someone in the corridor; I don’t think it’s Ringo he’s talking to. He comes through the door first and I really try not to smile at him, because I know that he’ll be followed, followed closely by Ringo, who looks as though he’s walked into a museum. He looks around everywhere except at his drum set or me. I think he’s checking what’s changed.

“Looks good.” He mutters, “Looks groovy. I think I’ve missed it.” He walks in and places his bags by a chair. His eyes dart around the few people in the control room. I’m glad he hasn’t seen it yet, my present to him. I can’t wait, though. My heart thumps in my chest, hard.

“You’re crazy if you have.” Paul laughs. He’s seen the drum set. He’s smiling from ear to ear. It, however, drops when he sees John. I hear him whisper, “You ok?” to his Alpha. John looks up, eyelashes batting, not knowing what to say.

I’m so busy looking at them that I miss Ringo’s initial reaction to the flowers. I catch him gazing at his drums, his eyes running over the beautiful arrangement. He breaths, “oh!” and pauses in his movements. “George…”

“You like it?” I ask.

“You did this?”

“Yes, Richie.” I look at John, about to credit him too, but he shakes his head, subtly. He does walk over, taking Paul’s wrist and dragging him too.

“For me?” Ringo gasps.

“It says you’re name, you git.” John laughs.

There’s tears welling in Ringo’s eyes. I pry one finger of mine into his hand, but he doesn’t want to hold my hand. He tugs me forward and pulls me into a hug, a tight, warm, fond and loving hug.

“Thank you.” He breaths, “Georgie, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

He holds me for longer than I expected. His hands stroke the back of my neck while he buries his head in the crook between my shoulder and neck. He seems to be crying, but looks practically perfect when he pulls away, not a redness to his cheeks nor a wetness in his eyes.

When he does pull away, though, we both catch sight of an equally as tender moment. John had picked up one of the roses from our collection and gifted it to Paul. Paul has a giddy look on his face, cheeks flushed, eyelashes fluttering.

John catches us looking and laughs, “You’re having a moment, we can have one too, alright?”

To which Paul places a hand on his cheek and pulls him around for a kiss to shut him up. I’ve always loved seeing them two kiss. They’ve always looked so perfect, lips locked around lips, soft and gentle. It’s even better having seen it for the first time in ages.

As we start clearing up the flowers- Ringo insists on picking his favourites to take home- I look around at my friends and see… well, my friends. I have not done that in a long time. I see my two friends acting like lovers. I look at Ringo and I see my best friend, my lover, my Alpha.

“Can we all just try something?” I say, “Just for one day, no fights.”

“No fights.” Everyone else agrees.

Chapter Text

No fights. We promised it again and again.

With Ringo back, fights were minimal for the rest of the week. We all just wanted to get along with recording. The more we recorded, the quicker we could end this hell of an album.

But we all knew it wouldn’t continue without a hitch.

The hitch this time? Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da. My song. Already we’d tried to do some take of it before Ringo had returned, but I knew how John and George felt about it. They hated it. They lost interest in it really quickly and begged for us to move on. It wasn’t sounding right, so I didn’t mind much.

When I brought it back up again, there were reluctant moans in the studio.

“What’s that?” Ringo had asked, being the only one not to have heard it. I explained, I showed him the lyrics. George kept quiet for the most part. It was John who decided to rip me apart and ignore our ‘no fights’ promise. It was like he was trying his hardest to start a fight, despite everything.

“Do we really have to do it? It’s a load of shit. I thought we already gave up on that one.” He groaned, placing his guitar down in a huff.

I rolled my eyes and looked back at Ringo, “It’s a song. We’ve tried to do it already, but it might be easier with you here.”

It wasn’t.

Being ever the sweetheart, Ringo convinced John and George to have a go at it again. After far too many takes, even Ringo started to hate it. I started to feel like everyone was against me, fucking everyone. Yeah, the track wasn’t sounding right, but that’s not to do with my song, my lyrics. It’s to do with everyone else putting no effort in.

Furious, I suggested that I go and record it on my own. That was a bad idea, of course. I think it gave John an idea that I might go and record a song by myself. That’s not going to be great for today.

“Oh, like you did with yesterday?” John had said, standing with all his weight on one leg. They must’ve been hurting by then, if his were anything like mine. We’d been standing for much of the day, standing, playing, getting angry at each other. We were all so drained by the end of it, if not already exhausted then.

“Yes, like with yesterday.” I snapped back, “And you remember what that was like.”

“Yeah, shit that fans lapped up.”

“C’mon,” Ringo butt in. He was obviously getting irritated with the fighting starting again as well as being equally as frustrating having to play this song again and again. He wanted to be nice to me, keep the peace, but he also really didn’t want to have to try and record this fucking song. Even I was sick of its sound. “You can’t criticise Yesterday.”

“I can criticise what I want.” John countered, “But we’re not talking about Yesterday, anyway. Ob-La what the fuck ever is shit and there’s a fucking reason you’re not getting the right sound. It’s a crap idea, ok? You’re not going to get it to sound good, that’s it. Just stop trying.”

I gritted my teeth, “No. I’m not going to stop trying. I’m not you, John.”

“What do you mean, you’re not me?”

“Simple as. I’m not you. I don’t write meaningless, heartless bullshit and I want my songs to be as good as they can be.”

John looked ready to murder me. Meanwhile, George was sitting by Ringo, trying not to get involved. He shook his long, wavy locks of brown hair over his eyes and kept his head down, his attention focused on his guitar. He was retuning it, not that he needed to. It’s always been his comfort thing, something to take his mind off what was going on around him. It is his thing to do when there is nothing else to do.

Ringo, on the other hand, was watching the fight with tired, hooded eyes. This was not what he had come back to the studio for. He knew it would happen again, he must’ve known, but just like me and just like George, he hoped that it may not, in some corner of his loving mind, he prayed it might all be ok.

His expression reflected that, the disappointment in his bright, blue eyes, the way his mouth was slightly parted as he drew in deep breaths. I’ve no idea what made him want to come back, but I wouldn’t have. Not for the sweetest smile nor the most genuine of promises from any one of my friend’s mouths.

The day ended on… well, a half positive note. After fighting for ages, John decided that, the only way to move of from Ob-La-Di was to finish it, so he sat on his piano, started playing the tune, then sped it up.

“C’mon, this is way better!” He shouted over the top of the chords. Seeing no other way to get the song recorded, I picked up my bass, Ringo got to matching John’s speed and George, albeit reluctantly, started to play his guitar. We managed to get the whole thing done and at half the speed of before. It sounded ok. I’m just glad it’s all done now.

But the fighting won’t stop and, as much as I’d believed in my own promise to keep the peace, I know now that I’m going to break it, specifically today. A few days ago, I booked studio three to record a song. No one else other than George Martin and some technicians know what I’m doing. This is going to cause havoc.

I get up early. It’s a nice, reasonably warm morning, yet I feel bitterly cold inside the house. I tiptoe around on the wooden floorboards in our living room, stand awkwardly on my heels in the kitchen and don’t dare venture into the bathroom until I have socks on. I then leave a note on the kitchen surface to say that I’ve gone to the studio early. This isn’t uncommon for me. John is used to waking up, not having me in bed- mostly because I’ve slept elsewhere in the house- and finding out that I’ve fucked off to EMI. I don’t remember when I started doing it, but he never really bats an eyelid. I guess he knows me so well to assume I’ve got an idea in my mind that’s bothering me enough to abandon him for a morning. He doesn’t mind as long as I leave him the car. He prefers to drive instead of being driven.

I call up to get a driver, then sit around in the living room while I wait for them, feeling overly jumpy, a bit too on edge. I guess I fear John coming downstairs and asking me why I didn’t wake him. Ok, I have a reason that he would buy, but I just know he’d be able to tell that I have an ulterior motive. Even after so long of having a turbulent relationship, we do know each other all too well.

Still, I don’t feel all that bad for John. I feel guiltier that I’m not using Ringo or George. I haven’t had much quarrel with either of them. John has, but John seems to like to fight.

The driver comes and I get into the car. Outside is warm enough for me not to need a coat. The sun pokes through fluffy, white clouds, it’s rays sending shadows over the pavement while lighting other areas in a warm bath of orange. There is no traffic, not on any road, so I arrive at the studio nice and early, with a couple of long hours to play, to get the arrangement right on my song.

This will not be my first solo song. ‘Yesterday was,’ hence why John would bring it up whenever I threatened to produce a song on my own. He never seemed all that hurt about it before this album. Recently, things that didn’t bother him before have been brought up as though they’d been simmering beneath the surface. If you know John, one thing you know is that he doesn’t keep quiet for very long. When he’s not happy, no one is, because he makes sure everyone is aware. I doubt very much that he was particularly bothered by anything, but he wants to pretend.

And I’ll let him pretend. I don’t take much notice.

Thinking of all this adds more fuel to the weakening fire that made me want to record all by myself. It had been waning, but the past few days, the previous weeks, the bad memories that fill my mind, they all begin to pile up. I’m going to do this to make John see that I don’t need him professionally. I guess I’ve always hoped demonstrating this to him would knock him into action, might give him a clue, that I could leave, yet I stay. Perhaps it would make him more willing to keep me around, he might start making an effort with me again. Before this, I couldn’t think of a way other than leaving the band for good- or doing ‘a Ringo’ and leaving for a little while- to make him see.

Once dropped off, I head into EMI and walk my way into the unfamiliarity of studio 3. I’ve been I here before, we all have, but I haven’t on my own. It feels strange, it feels wrong.

I may have gotten used to coming into EMI on my own, walking into an empty studio 2, doing my own thing, but I am not used to the different surroundings, the motivation for being in here, the lack of company that I usually have when I’ve been in previous uncomfortable situations. Still, I ignore the pang of guilt in my stomach, telling me that I probably shouldn’t be doing this and I set up.

I dread the moment when John, or any of my friends find out that I’ve recorded solo. I don’t even know when it’ll happen, whether they’ll walk in on me, whether someone might let it slip or much later on when the whole album is being put together, and that unknown strikes even more worry and sickly dread inside of me.

Chapter Text

Our house, mine and Ringo’s, is now full of vases of flowers. Everywhere I go, I’m reminded of the little message I created in the studio for him. Everywhere I go, it makes me smile. Flowers are so very beautiful and will never cease to make me happy, just like Ringo does.

When I wake up every morning, I’m treated to the sight of a single, purple lily in a narrow, glass vase by my bedside. It stretches its long petals to face the window, where streaks of the sun peeks through. When I turn over to hug Ringo before I get up, a hibiscus smiles brightly at me. It’s warm yellow that fades in the middle into a vivid orange gives me a striking wake up call.

Outside our bedroom, there is a table that we keep odd bits on. Now, it’s got a vase that you can hardly see, because the flowers inside spread their huge petals and thick leaves over the rim. There are all different types and numerous colours. Neither I nor Ringo are much good at flower arranging, but we don’t need to be. Any load of flowers, dumped in any type of vase or container, we like to see. They’re pleasing, no matter where they sit.

In our bathroom, we have a very stout vase on the windowsill. Some small, more wild plant sit inside. Little, pretty dandelions and buttercups sit in a very thin layer of water, their stems making for a layer of green and heads making a sunny yellow one. It’s nice to see as I shower and I always open the window so that the steam from the water doesn’t drown or suffocate them.

Downstairs, there isn’t a surface not covered in flowers. The dining table has three vases with lovely, different flowers all perched inside. The kitchen surface has smaller flowers lining it at the back. The downstairs bathroom has a similar arrangement to the upstairs one and the living room is akin to a forest floor. If ever I walk around the coffee table, I’m brushed by petals and long leaves. When I walk through the doorway, I’m greeted by the sunflowers that Ringo loves so much.

This morning, I change the water in one of the vases, just to make sure it’s properly clean, so the flowers live as long as possible. I wake early enough to wander downstairs without dressing and potter about without a purpose.

Once I’ve checked the flowers, as though they are my new pets, I go up and wake Ringo. He’s sleeping on his stomach, both hands under the pillow, his face turned towards the left. I kiss that magnificent nose of his and watch his long eyelashes flutter as he comes to.

“Morning, Luv.” I say. He opens one tired, blue eye and groans. “Gonna get up?”

“Do I have to?”

“You’re the one who wanted to come back to the studio. It’s your fault that you have to get up now.” I laugh. He giggles too and pushes himself onto his back. Both his bright eyes open and he smiles at me, making them even bigger and more beautiful.

“What time is it?” He mutters, “Have we got time for...?” He looks down at my barely dressed body. I still haven’t been bothered to get some kind of clothes on. I’m dressed in an open dressing gown. I look at his watch which sits on his bedside table, shaded by the flowers.

“I think so.”

He pulls me down into a heated kiss as I climb up onto the bed, simultaneously dragging the covers off his legs so I can straddle them. As he keeps our lips locked, he pushed my dressing gown off my shoulders. Taking the ends of the sleeves now bunched around my wrists, I throw the garment onto the floor and Ringo’s hands wrap around me. I thrust up into his fingers, moaning loudly, arching my back, breaking the kiss.

“Come back here, naughty.” He laughs, moving one hand up my body to the back of my head and pulling it back down to kiss me. He whispers in my ear, telling me not to move until he says it’s ok, then taps my butt to make sure I understand. He strokes me. I can feel each movement as I’m pressing against my belly, his hand runs up my length and hits my stomach again and again. I can feel myself slick in excitement. The smell reaches both our noses. Ringo’s alpha instinct kicks in.

“Fucking hell, Georgie!” He groans. The fingers on his free hand runs around to the back of me and parts me, dipping in the thick layer of slick, “You want me, Luv? You want me bad?”

“Yes, Richie,” I find myself pleading, “Please Richie.” He stretches me wide, then guides his member inside me. I yell his name so loud I’m not convinced that the neighbours haven’t heard me. But, it’s not as though I have any care. I ride my Richie until he climaxes inside me, loudly proclaiming that he loves me and I’m so sexy. I laugh a little until I spirt over his chest.

After cleaning up, we hurry to get dressed and out the door. Paul will probably kill us if we’re late. As we leave, I quip to Ringo that we might need to pick some flowers up on the way home, because I don’t think we have enough. He laughs and kisses me on the cheek, his left hand squeezing my hip fondly.

Today, even in the morning, it’s nice weather. I forget to wear a coat and Ringo, who walks outside with a scarf on, removes it as soon as we’re in the car. Neither of us really want to go to the studio, but we’re too busy thinking about each other to care. Ringo drives and holds my hand for almost the entire journey. We play the radio loudly and sing to some of the hits that crackle through the speakers. I’m so glad I have Ringo back, coming to work with me every day, holding my hand through the good and bad.

And here’s the bad. We park up and see John getting out the car. We’re not on the best of terms at the moment. I did promise Ringo to just keep quiet, but it is difficult. With John, everything is difficult. We get out of our car and skip up the steps of EMI. John follows behind Ringo, muttering some formal ‘hello’ to us as he joins our small pack.

“How are you?” Ringo tries. He wants to be friends with everyone. John wants to have no friends.

“Fine. You?” He doesn’t sound so cutting to Ringo. They’re both still ok with each other. That’s because my Ringo is a peacekeeper and a sweetheart. He doesn’t want to fight or make anyone upset.

“Great. Lovely morning, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, lovely even though my Omega decided to piss off in the morning.” John spits. Ringo does so well to sound concerned. I’d just tell John to stop fucking complaining.

“Oh, he did? Is he here already then?”

“Yeah.” John quietens as we approach studio 2.

“It’ll be alright, Luv. He probably just had an idea and wanted to start on it.” Ringo assures.

But when we get into the room, it’s undisturbed. There’s a few technicians running about. George Martin is in the control room. Paul, however, is nowhere to be seen. I watch as John’s eyes dart around, looking for his Omega.

“Where the fuck is he?” He mutters, heading into the control room.

“Pissed off already.” I roll my eyes at Ringo. He smiles sympathetically.

“Yeah, but I get why. Imagine if you hadn’t been there this morning,” He gets closer to me, his lips parting as though he’s going to kiss me, “I would’ve have been able to-“

“What the fuck!” John’s voice bursts into the room before he does. “Can you two fucking love birds stop making out and give a fuck about what’s going on!”

“What’s going on?” I shout back, stepping towards him, but Ringo catches my arm before I look too much like I’m threatening him. Sometimes, I’m so thankful Ringo has a clearer head than me. I step back.

“Paul’s off in studio 3, the fucker.” He starts to storm out of the studio. I follow, with Ringo letting go of my arm. When I turn around to beckon him too, he shakes his head. He knows it’ll end in a fight. I want to go, though. I want to defend Paul. I hope there is a way to defend him.

On John’s tail, I jog through the corridor and push the already swung open door into studio 3. Paul is sitting on a chair, mic-ed up and playing an electric guitar. He jumps when we burst in, the shock in his eyes obvious. Then the shock turns to guilt.

“The fuck are you doing?” John questions.

Paul straightens himself out, “Recording.”

“Recording what?” John spits, his face turning red under his long hair and rounded glasses.

“A song.”

“Which fucking song?”

“It’s called-“ He doesn’t get to explain, John’s too pissed off to hear its name.

“So, I know nothing about this song. What? Where you going to record it by yourself?”

Paul’s eyes widen remorsefully, “Yes, John, I was.”

“Are you fucking serious? Why the fuck would you want to do another song by yourself?” He doesn’t let Paul answer, “You don’t think any of us are good enough for you anymore. You stay in this band, pretending to us that you want to be here, but you’d be fucking fine on your own, wouldn’t you?”

He peers back at me. I can see tears squeeze out of the corner of his eyes. He now addresses me. “You see how your best friend treats you? He doesn’t give a shit about you. He thinks he’s ten times as good as any of us, and you’re going to stand by him?”

“Fuck off John.” I tell him.

Well, I am a little hurt, but I stay quiet. I’m not sure why I’m still here, but I can’t tear myself away. I watch as John really goes off on Paul, yelling, crying, looking like he might punch the living daylights out of the younger man. It’s a frightening scene. I think I stay just to make sure that John doesn’t do anything. I can’t stop him from hurting Paul with his words, but first time he hurts him with fists, I’ll fucking hurt the man back for Paul.

“John, I just wanted to…” I don’t think I’ve ever seen Paul so weak. He barely shouts back. He remains seated with his guitar over his lap. His hand grips the neck nervously, while the other one is hidden behind the guitar’s body. I think he knows he’s actually in the wrong here and has no reason for it, not one that’ll stop John from shouting. He sits and takes it, trying not to cry.

“I can’t believe you’d go out of your way just so avoid recording with me now. You fucking lying arsehole, McCartney. Don’t fucking bother coming back into the studio when you’re done here. Don’t even fucking bother coming home tonight. What’s the point, right? You’ve got a hand, why would you need to fuck me?” John then storms out. I stay.

Paul looks at me apologetically. I’m not sure how to feel. I’m not sure what to say.

He speaks first, “I knew this was going to happen.”

“Then why did you do it?”

“I… I had a reason, but… it seems shit now.” He shakes his head and closes his eyes for a second or two. A small tear forms, but he wipes it away quickly.

“Yeah, seems a bit pointless. You made him angry. Why?” I can’t bear to see this. I can’t understand why he would’ve done this. Ok, now I’m annoyed, not because he wants to record without me. I’m more pissed off that he could see what was going to happen, yet he did as he pleased anyway.

 “I… I wanted him to see that I don’t need him, but I want him…”

“I think you’re showing all of us that first part.” I bitterly say. I then leave. What more can I do? I hear him whisper my name, but he knows I won’t walk back. I walk into studio 2 where the atmosphere is no nicer. I really don’t want to do any work, and neither does John. He wants to bitch and plot revenge. It’s only once George Martin suggests we start on one of John’s songs that we actually do some work.

Paul does eventually come back into the room. John doesn’t send him away like I expect him to. Even at the end of the day, Paul goes home with him, but I can tell, it’s not ok at the moment.  

I’m so happy that I have Ringo and that we haven’t fought. He holds my hand on the way home again and sits, hugging me, on the sofa all evening once we’re home. I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Chapter Text

I thought, I had hoped we were past the stage- or at least he was- of leaving little notes and pissing off to work early. Fucking hell, I assumed, for as much as Paul hated to work with me these days, we’d still be commuting to work together instead of purposely avoiding each other. I mean, we may not always be on such great terms, but days have been worse than this, nights have been far more painful than last night, yet we’ve still managed to share a car. Why? Why today of all days, when things have been ok, would Paul get up, leave me a note and fucking order someone to drive him to the studio.

I don’t even care if he has an idea, or if someone asked him to, or if he has any valid reason, that boy is going to get a fucking bollocking when I get to work, fucking trust me.

I look outside at the sun streaking in from the window. Short sleeves it is for me today. I pull on a crappy while polo neck and drag on whatever jeans I can find that aren’t dirty. I really do not give one shit about how I look. I could turn up stark bollock naked, what the fuck would it matter.

I don’t bother eating breakfast, I’m already running late. Oh, naughty John who never takes his work seriously! I’m going to get a right earful when I turn up. Paul will be tapping his watch, shaking his head in disappointment at me. he’s not my fucking mother, yet he’d like to think so, wouldn’t he.

Well, to please the arrogant, little arsehole, I get into the car hungry, tired and in a right mood. Boy is he going to get it. He better fucking prepare for me, because I’m really not in the mood to hold back. If I take a swing at him, he better be ready to duck if he doesn’t want to get hurt.

Everything has just built up to this. You may think I’m an arsehole, that I’m violent and overaggressive. Well, fuck you if you think so. Nobody fucking sees what I do. No one goes through what I do. I never really noticed it before, but my little Paulie is a perfectionist prick, an anal fucker who has to have everything his way. He runs around the studio, making sure everything is perfect, but by perfect, he means ‘his way.’ And it’s not just me who wants to slug him one, trust me. George way ready to knock the boy’s teeth out when Paulie came pottering about, insisting that George play a certain way. Well, as if that was not enough to piss Georgie off, Paul started to suggest that our guitar player, a boy so well-versed in the art of strings, would be better off surrendering his electric to Paul. Of course, Georgie wasn’t going to take that lying down. I watched, quite proud, as the youngest of our group told Paulie to go fuck himself. If I had been George, I would’ve said far worse, but Paul got what he meant.

Ringo’s the only one who’ll put up with any of us. He loves us all equally and absolutely. He sees the best in us rather than the worst. I’ve got to hand it to him, he’s a proper Luv. George is lucky to have someone so kind, because he’s the exact fucking opposite. When he’s been doing that fucking coke, he’s constantly in a foul mood. And I may not be the best when I’m high, but I’m never like him, I’m sure, though I know Macca would surely disagree with me.

I see the wonder couple, George and Ringo, getting out of their car. What fucking fun this is going to be! Ringo is kind and says a soft hi. I nod back at him. George barely looks at me. If he’s going to play it the childish way, I will to. I ignore him while Ringo pipes up with, “How are you?”

“Fine.” I manage, “You?”

“Great. Lovely morning, isn’t it?” How is he so chipper? He gazes at the sunny day around us as before we’re enveloped in the darkness of EMI. Take one last good look, Luv, that’s all the fucking sun you’re going to see today.

We get into studio two, but it’s empty. Where the fuck is Paul? His stuff isn’t even here. Did he fucking lie to me? My blood boils. I dart into the control room where George Martin is sitting.

He looks surprised to see me, almost scared. Does he fucking know something?

“Where’s Paul?” I demand.

He taps the excess ash off the end of his half-smoked cigarette, narrowly managing to get it into an ash tray before it falls onto the table, “He’s just popped out at the moment…” He says shakily. I know he’s lying.

“Where is he?”

“John…”

“Don’t fuck with me…”

“He’s in studio three.”

Why the fuck would he be in there. My mind goes completely blank with one word, just one word spinning around it. No.

No, he’s not gone and done another ‘Yesterday.’ Don’t tell me he has. Don’t tell me he got up this morning, having not told me about his plans to produce a song on his own, and written me a note, lying to me. Don’t fucking tell me he’s softly crooning into a microphone blindly unaware of how that might make me feel.

If he wasn’t going to get it before, he’s going to fucking get it now.

I storm out of the control room, barely hearing George M calling my name, because I’m yelling myself. I summon George- who’s Paulie’s best fucking friend- to come with me, to see what that little fucker’s up to and, with not another thought in my mind, I shoot through the corridors and melt through the door to studio three so quickly people would think I’m a ghost.

George’s pattering footsteps follow me and halt by the doorway. We both see Paul at the same time, sitting in a chair, sitting, singing, playing his guitar. My fucking god, I’m going to kill him.

“The fuck are you doing?” I yell.

Paul tries to act normal, but I can see that he’s uncomfortable, he’s remorseful. He better fucking be.

“Recording.” He replies casually.

“Recording what?”

“A song.” His voice is cold and quiet, not an ounce of volume to it. Mine sounds like a lion’s raw next to his pathetic whimper.

“Which fucking song?” It’s not one I’ve heard of. Not even one we’ve talked about or one I might’ve seen around. I feel sick with fury. I feel ready to punch anything, anything you put in front of me. “So, I know nothing about this song. What? Where you going to record it by yourself?”

 “Yes, John, I was.”

I don’t hear my own reply. Words stream from my lips, they spill from my throat, they can’t get fast enough out of my brain. People say we are blinded by anger, I’m deafened. I hear nothing, not his feeble replies, not George’s answer when I try to show him what kind of a friend he’s stuck by all this time. A friend who’d go behind George’s back when he’d done nothing to him. I don’t hear anything and I see red, bright scarlet hazing over my eyes.

Finally, I have nothing more to say. It takes a while, it takes much of my energy and shreds my vocal chords to the point I’m not sure how much singing I can do today, but I finally stop, making sure Paul is hurt the way he has hurt me. I then turn on my heels and go back to studio two.

My heart is thumping so hard in my chest that I cannot breathe right. I take a minute outside studio two’s door, catching my breath and stopping myself from crying. I ache, all over and it hurts even more when I actually walk into the room. Ringo instantly asks me what’s up and I can feel my heart speed up again.

“Paul’s a prick.” Is all I can say. Ringo pats me on the shoulder comfortingly, but it doesn’t help. It irritates me more and it takes what little energy I still possess not to punch him.

By the time we have to go home, I’m willing to let Paul in the car. I had told him not to bother coming home, but I’m too drained to stop him. We’re silent for much of the journey and we don’t talk all night. I make sure my alarm is set way before his for the morning. Oh, trust me, I’m going to get my own back on him, if it’s the last thing I fucking do.

I wake up this morning with a sore throat. I’m so tired, yet I couldn’t sleep much of last night. I’ve been planning, writing, preparing for this morning. I write a note for Paul on a shitty sheet of paper, but I deliberately use one that has the lyrics of a song on it, a song that he hasn’t seen. It’s called Julia, and I’m going to record it once I get into the studio.

And I’m not going to be so crafty as to use studio 3. I haven’t booked anything. I’m going to use our time, I’m going to use our space and I’m going to make my song all without him.

I’m all too proud of myself when I hop in the car and drive off. I’ve booked a driver for Paul, ready to call upon him just after he wakes. It’ll be the stab in the heart he needs, after stabbing me in the back.

Christ, when did we get like this? I know how, I don’t need to ask how we got like this, just when did it all start. Who knows how long I’ve loved Paul, and who the hell can tell me how long I’ve hated him for. I never used to taste the bitterness in my mouth when I say his name. I use his nicknames, my terms of endearment, as I mock him, they’re no longer evidence of my love. I swear I still love him, there are parts of me that love him so much, too much. I guess it just hurts like hell when he does some things, because I love him so much and it feels like it’s so one sided now. I can’t explain it. I’ll never be able to communicate this feeling if I can’t even work it out myself.

I long for the old days, the Hamburg days and the early fame, even the days of Sgt Pepper’s, or the obscurity of my Liverpool days. I went through so much pain then, yet I’d swap it any day for the pain I feel now, because I had Paulie back then. He was there when I most needed him.

I need him now, but he can’t be there for me. He’s the problem, not the solution.

In the quiet studio, I eventually sit. I’m ready to make music, my music, solely mine and I’m ready to make Paul angry. I’m ready to fight with him.

He turns up about an hour after I do. I’ve got a lot of my song recorded- it is only me and an acoustic guitar after all- and I’ve been waiting for him, sitting there, under a mic, waiting for him. He turns up on his own, walks right into the room and just stares at me.

“Hello Paul.” I say. I try to sound as chirpy as I can, really to stick it to him, but I can’t. My heart skips several beats as my breathing tries to catch up. Paul looks blankly at me. This is what I’ve been waiting for. This is what my mind has been daydreaming about. I have not thought much about my song. All my thoughts have been centred around Paul. Even if I tried to think about my lyrics, the tune, the guitar, trying to be in the moment, I kept thinking of what time Paul might walk in, which bit I might be singing, which chord I might be playing, how it will affect the mood.

Now, however, I can’t even hear my own voice, never mind what sound the guitar is making or what mood surrounds us. I do make a point, though, of listening to Paul.

“You’re… recording without me.”

“Yes.”

He bites his lip, “Can we… will you just…?” He gestures to outside. I follow him. I can’t wait to hear his full reaction, to see the hurt written on his face. I want him to feel the way I did and I want to witness every last moment of it.

He guides me into the toilets, where we’ve often fought. We’ve also fucked in here a few times. We always look to these lovely, well-kept loos for privacy, whatever the reason we might need it could be.

Standing next to the cubicles, Paul crosses his arms, standing rigidly. I lean on the sinks opposite him. I really try not to burst out laughing.

“I know what you’re trying to do, John.” He says.

“I’m only doing what you did to me.”

“I know.” He replies all too quickly, “I know you’re trying to hurt me, because I hurt you. We could go on like this forever or try and track it back to whoever pissed the other off first, and we’d be here all night. Can’t we just talk?” He looks fatigued. All the colour in his cheeks has gone as though someone had dragged it out of him. His eyes are very dark and hooded, with bags beneath them.

“Talk? Like you talked to me when you were going to record on your own? Like you did when you wanted to record Yesterday?”

“Please…” He groans, “Stop talking about Yesterday. That’s over with. There’s nothing either of us can do about it now.”

I now laugh, loudly, almost hysterically, “But it still fucking hurts, Paulie. Did you know that? I may not have said it at the time because I assumed it might be a one off. But you really don’t need us anymore, do you?”

“No, I don’t.” He bluntly replies, “But I want you, I want to be with all of you.”

“Then prove it. How can we believe that when you keep pissing off on your own? How are we meant to know that you’re not getting bored of us?”

I see tears forming, running down the crease beside his nose. They stream down his cheeks and hang off his chin before they can stand it no longer. They fall off and splatter on his clothes, soaking their remains into his fabric.

But I take no notice. I’m too angry. Especially when he starts yelling at me.

“You think I’m the one who doesn’t want to collaborate with you anymore, John, but I started going off on my own because you never came to me! We just stopped writing together, we stopped liking each other’s company.”

“Bollocks.” I mutter, “What a load of shit. I always loved writing with you, I’ve always loved your company.”

“Then why can’t you stand being with me anymore. You can’t sit in a room without yelling at me. You can’t talk to me about anything. I remember days when you felt like shit and you told no one except me and I helped you through all of it.”

I don’t know what happens to me. I turn around and feel my own tears being to flow like a pair of angry waterfalls, furiously splashing into a pool of cutting rocks beneath me. I turn to face away from Paul and slam my fist down onto the surface, a little too hard. I don’t feel the pain, I just feel a huge stop, a huge, hard thing forcing my fist to pause.

I hear Paul gasp and run up next to me. He takes my hand and turns it up so he can see it.

“You could’ve broken it, you silly git.” He warns, pressing lightly on my knuckles. He presses too hard on the one below my middle finger and it hurts. Instead of telling him so, I push him back, hard. Too hard. I hear him crash into the cubicle doors.

Fuck… I’ve really messed up this time. When I turn around, Paul is twisting his arm around to see a big, white scratch down the back of it from where he’d almost fallen into a cubicle. He looks up to meet my gaze, his eyes welled with so many tears, they explode away from his eyes like small mines.

“See,” He cries, “You can’t even tell when I’m fucking trying to help you.”

As he leaves, I feel pain. Not in my hand, I feel it in my heart, as though someone had stolen a part of it.

Chapter Text

I had so wished it would be better. Of course, I did. Someone had to be hopeful and try to keep the peace between everyone. Someone had to be friends with everyone else, be the glue that stuck four members of a hot-tempered band together.

Why did I come back? I wanted to be with Georgie. I wanted to be with Paul and I hoped I might be friendly with John, because he seemed to be lacking in the friends department. Everyone needed a friend who stuck by them and didn’t get into petty fights. I’m still that guy, but it’s just not working. The fights have gone back to being daily. We are doing more work, but that’s because we’ve all sort of got separate projects that we borrow each other for. I’m doing Octopus’s Garden, so I get Paul or George to help me one day, then George and John the next. George has got this lovely song called ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ which makes me feel so emotional whenever I hear it. But he recruits me and Paul to help with it mostly, only letting John in when we request it. He’s got a real thing about John at the moment, and John seems to have a problem with everyone but me.

George and Paul, I’ve noticed, aren’t best of friends anymore, which breaks my heart. They were the longest friend, far before John invited either one into the band all those years ago in Liverpool. However, they are still more civil than the apparent lovers of our group. John and Paul are in a vicious battle that neither one is winning. Yesterday, Paul recorded a song on his own. Today, I think John did the same. Paul won’t tell me much about what happened when John and George stormed into studio 3 to find him and he won’t say anything about what went on today. He won’t say much at all. The weird quietness on both their parts had started the moment George and I walked into the studio when we arrived in the morning, neither were speaking. They didn’t even look at each other. And what really bothered me was how hot it was in the room, yet Paul was wearing a cardi that he would not take off for the entire day. It gave me a really bad vibe.

At the moment, he sits in the back of our car, looking like he might fall asleep. He’s staying with us again tonight, because he wouldn’t go home with John. He’s still wearing that bloody cardi with the ends of the sleeves wrapped around his hands. It’s bothering me. Everything is. The silence is what’s annoying me most, though. It leaves me too much time to think, too much time to observe the two people around me.

I look at George, because he isn’t stressing me out as much as Paul. He’s driving, his face expressionless, the shadow of the road reflected in the darkness of his pupils. His swooping, long, brown hair brushes his sharp cheekbones. His wonderful, long, thin hands are stretched out on the steering wheel, lightly guiding the huge car around him whichever way he pleases. Even in this dull lighting, his outfit looks vivid, very striking. He wears a thin, flowing shirt whose front is decorated with ruffles, while his trousers are striped red and brown. The vertical lines make his gorgeous legs seem elongated. I really want them wrapped around me.

Ok, I’ve suddenly gone from concerned to turned on. One extreme to the other. I really am in a mess at the moment.

The one thing that stops me from feeling like I’m in a total heap of nonsense, is George. I wrap my fingers around his which, in turn, are wrapped around the gear stick. His touch makes me drowsy like some kind of drug entering my system so fast that the journey home is over in a second. I really don’t want to get out of the car, because it’s cold outside, cold and dark, but George walks around to the passenger side of it and coaxes me out with a gentle drag of my wrist.

Paul is already waiting for us at the door, having walked straight up to it. His arms are crossed over his chest and legs are clamped together. He looks really uncomfortable.

You see, I want to ask what’s up, what’s wrong. I’ve wanted to since we got into the car, since this morning in fact, but I know he won’t say anything with three of us around. If it was just me and him, he might open up. As I said, I’m the only person in the band who is really close to everyone. I have become the glue sticking layers of the band together. While the others might fall apart from each other, they stick to me. It’s just what I have to do. And I know that Paul would be more comfortable talking to me rather than George, because they’ve fallen too far apart.

Our house is warm and cosy, with Paul laughing about the number of flowers we still have. It’s the first time I’ve seen him smile all day, so I try to make him laugh even more.

“Oh, we’re going for this new, hip fashion. It’s called ‘Hippy Rainforest.’ Very chic.” I quip, putting on my best posh voice.

Paul giggles, “Oh yes, I can see it.” He knees down on the sofa, facing the back of it so he can peer over and see me and George. 

My dear Omega comes over to me, threading an arm around my back, “Can you believe,” He says to Paul, “that we threw so many of the flowers away?”

Paul shakes his head, “You have so many still!”

I chuckle guiltily as George smiles at me, fondly and loving, “I didn’t want to chuck any away at all.”

“I know you didn’t, Luv.” He whispers, then kisses me. Once we break from it, I look to Paul. The poor Omega has averted his gaze. I feel bad. He must miss this, miss those tender moments from John. I break away from George quickly, so not to upset him any more than I already may have done. Ah, sometimes I forget that George and I are watching our friends slowly fall out of love. That’s what it looks like, at least. We’ve all fallen far out of our original friendship with each other, but John and Paul have fallen the hardest. It makes me look at George and be beyond grateful. I want to kiss him again, but I know I shouldn’t. 

He offers to go and make dinner. I take the opportunity to talk to Paul, if he’ll talk.

“You want to take your jacket off?” I ask, “It’s pretty hot in here.”

Nervously, Paul looks down at his left shoulder, “Um, yeah, can I just…?”

“…dump it where ever.” I offer. As he removes it, he is precise and careful, his movements, rigid. I feel like he’s hiding something from me. He sits very still as well. He gets comfortable, then barely moves. I really wonder if he’s ok.

“Hey, what happened earlier?” I ask, lowering my voice, “Is everything ok?”

He rolls his eyes, “If things were alright, I wouldn’t be here tonight.”

I nod my head, understandingly. He still tells me nothing, though. I watch him, expectantly, hoping he might just mention…

“I’m sorry, Richie.” He pipes up, “I’m really just… I can’t talk about it at the moment. I’m kind of deciding what the hell to do with myself.”

Well, I guess I am prying. It’s just that… I’m worried about him. I apologise for snooping, then stand up. I might as well go and make myself useful in the kitchen with Georgie. Paul seems to want to be left alone. He deserves it after the shit day he’s had.

As I’m leaving, though, I peer over my shoulder and catch glimpse of Paul’s arm. From just under his shoulder downwards is a huge scratch, red raw. It’s not deep enough to have bled, but it’s still left a wide and long mark. I pause in the doorway, staring back at it.

My worst fear is that John might’ve done something. It’s always been a fear of mine. I turn my body so that it matches the direction of my head. I know I can’t just walk out of the room and ignore this. I really can’t. As much as I know Paul can defend himself, he’s a strong man and isn’t stupid, I have to be a good friend. Even if he hates me for it.

“Hey Paul.” I breath. He turns his head around to see me. I walk a few steps closer so that George can’t hear me. I think Paul might take it better if its only me who’s asking. “What happened to your arm?”

Realising that I can see it, he clasps his other hand around his upper arm and rubs it self-consciously. His eyes become all big and innocent, sad like two bright moons with the light sucked out of them.

“It was just an accident, I promise.” He tells me, his voice barely above a whisper.

“Was it John?”

Quickly, he shakes his head, “Not really. He didn’t mean to push me into the door the way he did. We were in the toilets and he’d punched the sink.” He draws in a long, deep breath to calm himself and order the thoughts in his mind, “I went to look at his hand to make sure he didn’t hurt it and he pushed me back. He was angry, though, and he didn’t mean to push me that hard.”

“Paul…” I gasp, “You can’t excuse him for that!”

“I’m not.” He replies defensively, “That’s why I’m here and not running back home to him.”

“But you’re making up excuses for him, for why he hurt you.”

His eyes start to well. I dart forward and place a hand on his shoulder. Weakly, he rests his head against my knuckles. I feel his eyes dampening, him crying into my hand.

“I excuse too much of what he does to me, Richie. I know, but I don’t think I could live without him.”

I hate this. I start to cry too. I can feel it now, the ending of the band. Either John or Paul will go and George and I will be left, helpless on our own. Sure, we’ll all probably be ok, as in, we’ll get solo songs and albums done. We’re all pretty talented. But I’d feel helpless, like I did when I left the band on my own. I’d feel again like a boy who knows so little about themselves, yet everyone else knows everything, everything about me. At least I’d have George. I couldn’t imagine the pain John and Paul would have to go through as they headed different ways, suddenly all alone.

I get down on my knees and have my arms up on the back of the sofa, hugging Paul. I promise that, no matter what, I’ll be his friend, through everything. I’ll be his and George’s and John’s friend, even if they hate each other so much I can never see them all at once ever again.

Chapter Text

There it sits. The White Album. The Beatles. I thought it would be our last, I was sure. I’d fucked up so much in it that it felt like an end to everything. We’d finish the album, we’d finish our contract, whether we still had things to do, and we’d finish with each other.

That is not the case.

Paul is back with me now, but I was sure he’d leave me. I counted on it. I was ready to move out of our house, I was ready to drink my life away, lost without my only lover I’d ever had. Then he came back to me, head hung, apologies on his tongue. He had nothing to apologise for. Everything was me. I’d fucked up so much while recording this album, I should apologise for all the shit that’s on there- even Paul’s huge pile of stinking bullshit that is ‘Ob-La-Di Ob-la-Da.’ I like to think that, had I been a better mate, he might never have wanted to record such a load of old granny crap.

It’s not the same. Nothing is the same. Paul and I share a house, share a room, we share pillows and the duvets at night, but that’s about all we really do together now. My heart breaks when I think of all the fun we used to have writing songs together. Our ‘writing’ sessions used to be what I looked forward to, and not just because half the time we allocated for song writing, we’d end up fucking. It was just being with the man that I’d loved since I was 17. I was his muse, he was mine. All those songs that teenage girls could only hope we’d sing to them, we sung to each other.

Now I write songs to piss him off, to fight with him. He fights back. That’s the best we can do now. Bouncing off each other, writing songs at each other, rather than to each other.

And everything is even worst when I look at George and Ringo. They look bloody happy. Still, after all the shit, still after all the fights, they kiss and love with the passion and intensity they have ever had. I try my best to smile when I’m around them, I grin and stand in the background as their love continues to get deeper the more shit they wade through.

Why couldn’t Paul and I be like that? We’ve gone through so much worse than a couple of fights. We’ve lost so many people along the way. My mum… Paul’s mum… My uncle… Stu… Eppy.

And you know, I’ve worked it out. Why we’ve fallen apart, I now know. It was Eppy. He left us. He passed away, leaving us as a point in our career where we could go many different ways. Having stopped touring, we could easily be hated as much as we’re loved. Having fucked up with some things I’d said, we were hated by many. Having broken from our original mould, we could easily blossom into a band with strong personalities, or, as we have done quite as effortlessly, grown too much, fallen away.

Since we’d swapped tailored suits for casual clothes, harmonicas and single takes for double A-sides and effects, we had no direction, nothing. We didn’t know when to stop and when to plough forward, so some of us did one, the others did the opposite. That’s where the fights started and I can’t see them ending.

I wrap myself around Macca at night, because I rarely feel mad at him at night now and I cannot sleep at the moment, no matter hard I try. As I lie there, stuck in a state of unflinching conscious, I take the time to memorise the feeling of his body. I feel the softness of his hair like a load of wispy feathers brushing my face or my fingers. I feel his skin touching mine, the hotness and the smoothness. I smell him, remembering his distinctive smell. The thing is, I still love him, I have to love him. I really do. He doesn’t see it, but it’s because I don’t know how to show it anymore. At night, I try to make myself remember exactly why.

The White Album perches, mocking me in a window. As I wander along a street, I catch sight of it. It’s colourless cover stares brightly at me. The caption, written in black, reads our name, ‘The Beatles.’ Christ, am I sick of being called that now. It was bound to happen.

Did you know that, at one point, we were going to have a coffee stain, a ring of soft beige on the cover, but it was deemed too much of a statement? Like it was effortless, bringing out an album, a fucking double album with 30 tracks on it. We decided against it, me personally, because it was nothing like what had actually gone on when recording the songs. It was hellish. I think the cover should be red, bright red with two horns sticking up from the top.

“Look,” Paul says, pointing at the album, “I wonder what the serial number on that one is.”

We have a joke about serial numbers. They each have a unique serial number on it to create the idea of 5 million copies being sold. Ringo and George have a 0000001. Paul and I don’t own a copy.

I try to squint and see what the number is, but my eye sight is too shit to be able to even see my own reflection in the shop’s window.

“I’m not sure.” I say quietly and keep walking. Paul walks with me.

We haven’t been into the studio for several days now. God, it’s been a weight off my shoulders, placed my feet back on the ground. Paul and I haven’t fought in long enough for us to seem like friends. Now, that really is something.

We haven’t seen Ringo or George since then either. I don’t know if it’s us or them that’s keeping away, but I’m somewhat glad. I want to get to know my Paulie again before we’re all grouped together and stuffed head first into that fucking EMI studio for the millionth time.

Paul and I head home after that. At home, because it’s so fucking hot, we strip down and go to bed. It’s not late and we’re not that tired. It’s just the one place in the house we’re least likely to be snapped by reporters. You see, if we keep the windows open, the curtains and blinds drawn, we’re sure to see a flash of the press’ camera, and we really can’t afford a scandal of any sort right now, never mind something that might out us as gay. It might be legal, but it is no more acceptable than it was before. As if the Beatles didn’t have enough bad press, we’d get more death threats than our barely sane minds can handle.

Paul lies on his stomach on the bed, reading a book that’s wedged between his fingers. I’m sitting up by the headboard with a pad of paper resting on my lap. I’m sort of writing a song, but nothing really gets written. I keep gazing at Paulie, watching sweat trickle down his back. The outline of his spine is so subtle in this position and I really have the urge to follow the fading lines with my tongue. Out of boredom, my mind swims in these sorts of heady thoughts, even though they don’t feel all that sexual to me. It’s out of wanting to feel Paul in every way possible before I fuck up again and he refuses to let me near him.

Giving into my fantasies, I place my pad of paper on the pillows beside me and get up on all fours. Slowly, I crawl, my arms either side of his butt, my legs straddling the back of his. I glide up until my lips are hovering over his ear and I’ve lowered my crotch to rest on his lower back. He makes a noise as though all the air escapes his body. It’s just a joke, a mocking groan, to let me know I’m annoying him, but he turns his head and kisses my arm having pushed that thought aside.

“What are you reading?” I ask, moving my lips down his neck. He drops his head so that the back of his neck arcs towards me.

“Nothing.” He mutters.

I bite his shoulder softly. He gasps a little.

“I miss you.” I say.

He spits out a short laugh as I glide my tongue to his upper arm, my eyes closed as I savour his taste, “I’m right here, you dimwit.”

When I open my eyes, I see the slight scar that a small push left while we were recording the White Album. I’d shoved Paul too hard. We never spoke about it afterwards. This was the only mark I’d inflicted on him that I never asked to see.

“You don’t hate me?” I whisper. I feel his head move to see why I’ve paused. I feel his dark, hooded eyes gaze at me.

“No.” He replies weakly, “I couldn’t. You know that.” We don’t speak for a few minutes. I spend the time kissing the very top of his back, every bone I can taste through his flesh, I nibble at. Then he pipes up again. “Do you hate me?”

“Of course not!” I exclaim. “I could never. You must know that.”

He hums and gets back to his book. I get back to kissing him. I hope there are moments like this in our future, common and quiet. If I will ever wish, someday, for the perfect day spent with Paul, I will wish that we spend it here…

…in bed.

Chapter Text

“I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we've passed the audition.” John quips as the small crowd around us cheer. They laugh. I laugh too as I turn back and start taking down the equipment.

We’ve just been playing live. It’s been years since we’d ever thought of doing so.

You know what? I think I’ve missed it. There’s something about seeing John standing behind a mic, guitar slung over his shoulder by my side. It’s comforting to hear Ringo’s steady drumbeat pulse on behind me. I feel like a moptop again. I even would go as far as to say I feel like a Beatle again, because we’d long given up thinking of ourselves like that. George may not be where he always used to, sharing a mic next to me, stepping forward to sing endless ‘YEAH! YEAH! YEAHs!’ but it’s as good as it was. Things may not be the same, yet anything that feels even slightly akin to the past sends a rush of pleasant nostalgia through me.

What I wouldn’t give to go back to 1963.

The thing is, we hated that era by the end of it. We hated our image, the fans, the music. But really, we did have a lot more fun. Our music was a lot more fun. We were a lot more fun for people to watch. The best people get to watch now is our latest, awful movie and the few appearances we make here and there.

Back then, we were four little boys from Liverpool, loved world around. We had each other without constant fights. We had Eppy to guide us. Things felt simpler back then.

If I could go back, I’d insist that life isn’t so bad. I’d hold on to every laugh, every concert, every fan I met, every studio session. I’d enjoy creating every song and releasing every album. I’d hold on to John every chance I got. I still do, because of course I’m worried about us. Everyone is. But if I was back in 1963, I’d share every bed with him and make sure every moment was dedicated to making him smile.

He grins at me as we head to the stairs. Ringo and George are in front of us. Funnily enough, they look bloody happy. In the background, John and I probably look like perfect friends, we probably look almost happy too, but we’re not like Ringo and George, not anymore. I watch as Ringo fixes the huge collar on George’s dark, fluffy coat. George smiles at him, flicking his head back to get his long hair out of his face. Ringo then even helps with that. He wipes a few strands away from George’s forehead, tucking them behind his ear. All while they lazily plod down each step together.

Behind us, Billy walks. Seriously, George was right to bring him up. It’s great being able to jam with another artist, and one as talented as Billy. Totally worth it.

“Paul?” John’s voice attracts my attention as though he were crying for help. I immediately look at him. “That was alright, wasn’t it?”

I purse my lips, jokingly, “I think we should’ve done some early stuff. You know… for the fans.”

John holds his chest as he laughs. I like the brown coat he’s wearing, but I like the black turtleneck underneath much more. As he throws his head back in giggles, I see his slender neck half covered by the black fabric. John would never cease to turn me on, I know that much.

“So what now?” He asks. I shrug. We didn’t really plan this far. We hardly planned the concert, never mind what the fuck we’d do after. We all head down the stairs to the ground floor and file into one room. George lights up a cigarette which he shares with Ringo.

“We could…” I begin, but I trail off when he word ‘Lunch’ is mentioned. I look George’s way. It would most likely be him already thinking about food. If I did not know his voice better than my own, I would still have thought it was him.

He glances at me as though he were inviting me with his eyes. Or perhaps I’m just that hungry I’d happily tag along whether he asked or not.

“Anywhere nice to eat around here?” Billy asks.

“Plenty.” Ringo replies. He shrugs at me. Now that I take as an offer.

“I’m cool to come. That’s if you want me there.”

“Course you can come, I though you would anyway. You…” George makes a point of looking at John who is trying to calm his messy, wind-blown hair by coming his over-worked fingers through his fair locks. He uses the refection in the glass of a display case. “…both can come.”

Not that these two are on bad terms, but John and George rarely bother to hang out with one another. There was some kind of fight in the studio. A big one. I try and forget it. Both Ringo and I did. I’m surprised George asks him, but I guess he knows that John would probably follow were I go anyway.

“I could do with grabbing something.” John mutters as he finally gets his hair to an acceptable state and turns around to smile, almost genuinely at our youngest band member. Funny, George has long outgrown that babyish look that made it plausible to people that he is the youngest. They can hardly believe it now. “All that singing… I certainly need a drink.” John tugs loosely at his tired throat.

“That makes two of us.” I add. He nods at me with a smile. We both shredded our vocal chords out there.

“I’ll get a car.” Ringo offers. George nods at him. The older man heads out to the reception area, leaving us lot in the room to separate into pairs. George sits down with Billy, I walk over to stand in front of John who had sat down on one of the chairs against the walls. I bury my hands in the pockets of my blazer as I gaze at him.

 “Macca.” He says, looking up with a cheeky sparkle in his eye. A sudden image of him in 1964 washes over my eyes as though it was drawn on tracing paper and held over his face now. Only the cheeky look remains exactly as it was. He never lost that ‘Hard Day’s Night’ wit, now did he? As much as he might like to deny it still exists.

“Yeah?”

“Nothing. Just like saying your name.” He admits. I chuckle inwardly. He’s totally insane. I haven’t quite felt like this in a long time. I actually feel like… I want him. Perhaps I’m going into heat. I haven’t actually wanted him while I was in heat since…

Well, it’s been too long.

And for what feels like forever, I open my mouth with a dirty thought at the tip of my tongue. “You can call it all you want tonight, if you like.” I narrow my eyes to get the meaning across.

He looks surprised, pleasantly so. “Oh, I think I’d rather get you to scream mine instead.”

Ok, his filthy voice is the same as when he was younger too. He always lowers the tone, practically whispers, and he smiles. You can hear the smile in his words.

“Truce?” I say optimistically, “Just for tonight.”

“Why just for tonight?” He counters, cocking his head.

“Fine. Just a truce?”

“Sure.” He holds out his hand for me and I take it. He yanks me down to sit beside him.

I do hope this truce lasts.