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Breaking Free

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“Hey, Bri,” John called as he entered the flat.

Brian looked up from his book and smiled at his friend. “Hi, John. Wow, take it it’s raining out there?”

John rolled his eyes and shook his hands, water droplets flying everywhere. “Yeah, believe it or not. I’m bloody soaking.”

“You look it. Go get something from my room to change into and chuck your wet things in the bathroom. I'll wash them later, if you'd like.”

As John smiled gratefully and headed towards the rooms at the back of the flat, Brian called out again.

“Better yet, get something from Roger’s room. He seems to have stolen my warmest and biggest clothing.”

“Thanks.” John disappeared quickly and Brian listened to the sounds of the wardrobe opening. “He not around today?”

“Nah, him and Fred went to the studio. You know what those two are like. They wanted to practice a new beat or something; I was half asleep when Rog was talking.”

“I thought I heard the front door this morning, but I couldn’t be bothered to go and check.”

Brian chuckled, shaking his head at the younger man. They’d split into two flats very early on as a band and so far, it seemed to be ideal. Even if Freddie kept a weird schedule and John valued his sleep, they seemed to work perfectly as roommates. Brian turned back to his book before he registered that it had all gone quiet down the hallway.

“John? You find something?”

More silence.

Brian put down his book and made to stand up when John suddenly reappeared. Any words died in Brian’s throat when he saw what John was holding; namely a velvet skirt and a cheap-looking make-up set. There was a flimsy bra hanging from his finger and a laddered pair of tights over his arm. Brian blinked slowly a few times before his brow furrowed.

“What–”

“They were in Roger’s room,” John said, quietly, slowly. “Down the side of his bed. I’m so sorry, Brian.”

Brian shook his head. “No,” he said, dimly aware that his voice sounded thick and choked at the same time. “No. They can’t – they’re not… he wouldn’t.”

Roger and him had been dating for an entire year. Roger having women’s clothing in his room meant that…

Brian spent many nights curled up in Roger’s room and those he didn’t were because he had Roger in his own. There was no way that Roger had… Brian couldn’t even think of the word, never mind push it past his lips. Roger wouldn’t do that to him. He wouldn’t bed someone else in the apartment that they shared and then leave the evidence on the floor of his room. There was just no way.

It had taken Brian a long time to believe that Roger really did want to be with him, and that he truthfully loved him, but now he was finally there and nothing was going to take Roger away from him now.

John was still looking at him with a pitying sort of expression and it hurt to look at.

“He wouldn’t,” Brian repeated and John softened.

“I know he wouldn’t.”

That was good to hear, at least. Brian knew what a special friendship Roger and John had and he was glad to see that trust remained at the forefront.

“But I’m holding an armful of women’s clothing standing in a flat owned by two men. Two men that are in a relationship with each other, I might add.”

“There’s got to be a reason. It could be–,” Clare's, Brian was going to say. But Roger’s sister hadn’t been round in weeks and Roger would never keep her underwear anyway. Brian sighed deeply, forlornly. “They’re not Clare’s.”

Echoing the sigh, John shook his head. “I don’t think so.”

“Are they clean?”

John lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Can’t smell anything. Nothing obvious on them either, so that's something, I guess. The make-up has definitely been used. There’s a lipstick and some eye stuff, I think. Kind of looks like the stuff Veronica uses.”

“Anything else?”

“I don’t know,” John said. “I wasn’t exactly looking for anything. The skirt fell out of the wardrobe when I opened the door to get a jumper and then I noticed the make-up on the floor by the bedside table. The bra was under the bed when I bent down to pick up the stuff. I’m sorry, Brian. I mean – it’s, well, you know; it’s…”

Brian was quiet. His head was spinning and he felt like he was being pinned to the sofa by an unseen but totally immovable force. How many times had Brian slept in that bed? How many nights had he fucked Roger to the point of utter bliss in the same sheets that Roger had stripped down some faceless girl?

Did Roger do it the same way? Did he undress his women in the same way that Brian always carefully took off Roger’s clothes, piece by skin-tight piece. Was that how Roger slid off that girl’s skirt, how he unclasped her bra and threw it down onto his floor?

It didn’t bear thinking about. Of course Roger would never do that. Even if he had grown tired of their relationship, he wasn’t the sort of person to cheat. Brian was ashamed for even thinking about it. Of course Roger hadn’t done anything, Brian scolded himself. It was utterly disgusting to even have thought that for one minute. But those clothes weren’t Brian’s, were they?

John cleared his throat and Brian jolted, lifted his head and looking back to his friend. He was still standing in the doorway to the lounge with women’s clothing hanging from his arms and an uncomfortable expression on his face. It almost looked like he was going to cry and that really was the last thing that Brian needed.

“I think you need to talk to Roger.”

Brian nodded, throat tight and stomach decidedly queasy. “Yes. Yeah, I will. I just – fuck, Deacy. I don’t know what I’d do if he told me…”

“I know.” John took a step forward and opened his mouth as if to say something else when the front door opened.

Brian watched almost in slow motion as Freddie and Roger fell through the door in stitches, laughing at some hilarious joke that John and Brian clearly weren’t in on. When Roger saw Brian, his smile turned softer but by no means dimmer.

“Hey, baby,” he said, fighting with his coat as Freddie fell into him again, whispering something that made them burst into fresh peals of laughter.

“Are you okay?” Roger asked when his laughter had died off again, brow furrowing in concern. “You look like you’ve just watched your dog die.”

Brian couldn’t say anything, but it didn’t matter because Roger entered the living room with his next step and his gaze fell on John.

They watched as Roger’s entire face fell even further, expression moulding into something akin to horror as he took in the items John held in his hands. Freddie quickly followed, head poking around Roger to see why it had suddenly all gone quiet.

“What’s the matter, darlings? You’re all terribly quiet.”

When he was met with even more silence, Freddie glanced between them all. It was almost comedic how his eyes automatically fell to John's arms and then flickered between the items there and Roger’s mortified eyes and back again. Back and forth, again and again.

Just as Brian thought he might be sick when faced with his boyfriend’s clear guilt, Freddie stepped around Roger and cleared his throat.

“Oh,” he said, voice as confident as it ever was and almost too loud for the awkward atmosphere. “You’ve found them. Good.”

“Good?” Brian let out a noise that was closer to a strangled cat’s howl than it was a word, watching as Roger winced violently.

“Yes,” Fred said determinedly, stepping subtly ever so slightly in front of Roger. “Rog and I were talking about new things for the band’s music videos. We thought that, well, women seem to sell, right?”

John squinted, not seeming to understand what Freddie was on about and Brian seconded that undoubtedly.

“But something even more fun,” Freddie continued, “would be for us to dress up as women. Can you imagine it?”

Silence. There was a long pause as no one said anything. John was clearly confused, Freddie hesitantly excited, Brian didn’t know what the hell he felt anymore, and Roger… well. Roger looked as though he was less than a minute away from crying.

“It’s–”

“It’s Queen, darling,” Freddie interrupted John, something not clearly distinguishable flashing in his eyes. “It’s what we do.”

“Dress up as women?”

“Push boundaries,” Freddie replied immediately. Brian let the conversation between their singer and bassist wash over him; he really wasn’t up to thinking about much at the moment. “Reach out to the fringes of society. Have fun, live life in new ways.”

“And these?” Walking further into the room, John lifted his arms. It would have been impossible for even a blind man to miss the way that Roger shivered and seemed to gag on nothing with the movement.

“For the video,” Freddie said breezily, far too overly-casual as he moved even closer to Roger, nearly blocking him from Brian's sight completely. “We started discussing it forever ago now and Roger just kept the clothes. We meant to tell you, of course, but we've been so busy.”

“Roger?”

“Right.” Roger’s voice sounded far away, broken in a way it never was. There was something unreadable in his eyes and his hands were white-knuckled by his sides. “The video. What Fred said.”

Freddie smiled, though it was incredibly fake. Something was wrong with both men and Brian hated the way that his stomach was clenching and bile was rising in his throat. Freddie was his best friend, had been for years; there was no way he’d cover for the man breaking Brian’s heart.

Right?

“Well. We only came to say hi, actually. Got more work to do – you know how it is, darlings. We’ll see you later, okay?”

Freddie wrapped his arm around the now-ashen Roger and started pushing him out of the room and back towards the front door. Brian let them go, heart beating so fast that he almost couldn’t breathe. He could feel John’s eyes on the back of his neck, but he couldn’t turn around. He might never move again, watching as Roger stared at him even as Freddie pulled him away.

Regret, Brian realised with a pang. That look in Roger’s eyes? It was regret.

 

 

Chapter Text

They were silent as they headed down the stairs of Brian’s building and out onto the street, neither of them speaking as Freddie bundled Roger into the van outside and staying quiet all the way back to Freddie and John’s apartment. As soon as they were in, Freddie locked the front door and nudged Roger through into the lounge. As soon as they were in, Freddie pulled Roger down onto the sofa with him.

Uncharacteristically, Roger couldn’t force his mouth and his brain to cooperate. What was he going to say? How exactly was he meant to get out of this one? Freddie had covered for him very well, but he still had to explain. And there was no way to do that without telling the truth.

The truth being that he was perverted. That he liked things that were wrong, unnatural and just plain weird. No matter what, he was going to lose Brian. It didn’t matter how he phrased the truth or if he told a lie, the long and the short of it was that he was going to end up losing the best thing that had ever happened to him.

He felt his body twitch and subconsciously leant closer to Freddie, who automatically wrapped his arms around him. It was strange for Freddie to be silent for so long, but fuck, was Roger glad for it. It was giving him some time to sort his thoughts out, jumbled and racing as they were.

And it wasn’t like Roger thought he could get away with this forever. He’d imagined being caught numerous times; he’d just sort of hoped that he had more time to come up with an appropriate speech. Reasons, excuses, apologies. Anything that wasn’t him being reduced to a shivering mess unable to speak. Oh, and facing the loss of his boyfriend. That would be good too.

Roger had no clue how long they sat there in silence, only that the sun had started to set, leaving the room in a weak light, long shadows coming through the window and the sky the same dark and dingy colour Roger was feeling inside.

“Fred?” It was the first word that Roger had spoken in hours and he wasn’t surprised to find it totally void of emotion. Stronger than he’d expected, sure, but still weak.

“Yeah?” Freddie stirred as though he’d been dozing, but he was attentive as soon as Roger needed him. His hand resumed its stroking of Roger’s shoulder, calming the younger man almost subconsciously.

“They’re mine.”

Silence. Deafening silence.

“The clothes,” Roger clarified. “And the make-up. I bought them for me. I wear them sometimes. Mostly around the house when Bri isn’t there.”

Roger nearly choked on his boyfriend’s name, but now he’d started spilling everything he just couldn’t stop.

“I’ve been out like it once. There was this bar round by uni that Tim took me to once or twice.” And wasn’t that a lovely memory to bring up? Well, if he’s feeling like shit, he may as well drag everything up at once.

“I could never get the look quite right. Never liked being on my own either. Preferred it when I was at home. Even by myself at home was better than being out and alone feeling like a freak.”

God, he was pathetic. Freddie must gave always thought that Roger was a little bit weird, but Christ, now he had the proof. Roger was a freak. Even as eccentric as Freddie was, he didn’t do shit like this.

Oh well, now that Roger was talking and confessing, he might as well continue. He’d never told anyone any of this before, never dared to share this side of him for fear of ridicule.

“I would pretend… I do pretend I’m waiting for Brian.” He sniffed loudly and turned his head, shifting closer to his friend. “I put on the make-up and curl my hair, put on a bra and tuck one of his shirts into a skirt of mine. I'll walk around the flat doing the housework or some shit. It got so easy to pretend that Bri would come home and–,” he cut himself off as his voice finally broke and the tears came.

“Oh, darling.” Freddie tugged Roger so that they were almost one, tucking his head into his neck as he pressed kisses to Roger’s messy hair. “How long?”

“Always.”

Roger could remember the first time he’d found out that it was actually a thing. It was back when he was dating Tim, on one of their dates at the pub near the older man’s pub. It had taken the surprisingly-innocent Roger nearly half of the evening to realise that all of the beautiful women in the bar weren’t actually women.

Roger had gone back the following week, not sure what the feelings were stirring in his stomach. It had taken a long time for him to realise that it was longing. And it wasn’t longing for the men themselves, but rather the freedom that they had. It was a want for the way they looked so soft and feminine, how their masculine features were made to look so delicate. Roger had been exposed to something he hadn’t known he’d wanted and as soon as he had seen it the want was never going to go away.

There was something about the short clothing and long hair that Roger wanted desperately. So he’d gotten it. Piece by piece, he’d built his collection. It was only tiny, but Roger couldn’t risk anyone finding it. The way the tights slid against his legs and the feeling of the bra around his chest. His hair was already long, but when it was curled so carefully to frame his face he felt amazing. He liked the way his eyes looked when outlined with dark liner and how much bigger his lips looked when they were shining with sticky lip-gloss.

“He’s going to leave me.”

Freddie was quick to soothe Roger, lifting a hand to cradle blond hair. “Of course he won’t. Brian loves you.”

Roger scoffed, though the sound was weak and lacked impact. “Enough to put up with this?”

More silence. Roger knew that wasn’t a fair question to have asked because as much as Freddie would want to say yes - like anyone would - there was no way that anyone could promise that. Because what Roger liked wasn’t exactly normal, was it? There was no knowing how someone would react to this. Especially when Roger had been lying by omission for so long.

“At least you aren’t cheating.”

Roger let out a wet chuckle, small and humourless. Freddie tilted his head and rested his cheek atop Roger’s crown.

“Have you got much?”

Roger shrugged. “A couple of bras, five skirts. One make-up set that I’m pretty sure was left by a girl after a party or something. No wigs though; I like my hair.”

“As you should, darling. There’s no need to cover your lovely locks.”

They fell into silence, only broken by the occasional sniffle from Roger and the gentle rubbing of Freddie’s palm against Roger’s shirt.

“Are you okay?”

Roger swallowed thickly and gave another little shrug. He bit his lip and turned his face even more into his friend’s chest. “I really don’t want to go back.”

“I know.” Roger closed his eyes as Freddie started stroking his hair, shoulders slumping. “But they’ll want to talk to you. We did kind of rush out of there.”

“I really, really don’t want to face them tonight.”

“Okay.” Freddie let his head fall back to rest against the sofa cushions and Roger could have cried with relief.

“Thanks, Fred.” Roger’s voice was almost inaudible, but the tiny kiss he felt against his crown and the squeeze of his arm told him Freddie had heard.

 

/

 

How Roger got any sleep was beyond him. His stomach was in knots and his hands had not stopped shaking. He woke up on the couch feeling like he’d been on a three-day bender and winced when he opened his eyes.

“Morning, gorgeous.”

Roger groaned as he sat up and looked over to Freddie in the doorway to the kitchen. “Morning, Fred. God, I feel like shit.”

“Well, you look as amazing as always.”

Roger managed a half-smile at his friend as he raked his hand through his hair. It was well past his shoulders now and needed a damn good brush after a night lying on the sofa. No matter how it looked, his hair was something that he honestly loved. When he had been younger and living under his dad’s roof, he had always been made to have it cut short. Mature, his dad would bark at him. It was professional and manly. The hair style of a member of a respectable family who would go on to do great things. The style that Roger had chosen now would have made his father have a fit – if he’d ever seen it. His long locks were definitely something representative of each artistic person, the very sort his dad hated. They had they added bonus of making Roger look very feminine in certain lights or even like a woman from behind. His hair was just so him and Roger loved it. He loved brushing it out, loved tying it up and letting it fall back around his shoulders at the end of the day. He also adored the way that Brian tangled his fingers in his hair as he fucked into him hard and deep. Roger shook himself out of it and twisted his hair into a loose bun at the back of his neck.

“Did John come home last night?”

Freddie shook his head as he walked into the living room and handed Roger a steaming mug. “No. I assume he stayed with…”

“Right.” Roger nodded when Freddie trailed off. “Of course.”

Freddie took a sip of his own drink as he sat down on the armchair opposite his friend, waiting patiently for the other man to start talking.

“Are you going to tell them?”

“No.”

Roger smiled slightly at how quickly Freddie replied. 

“Of course I wouldn’t, Rog. But you will.”

Roger’s head snapped up. “What?”

“I know you, darling. I know you and I know them. It’ll be okay.”

Roger’s fingers tapped out a rapid staccato on his mug, knuckles white and forearms tense. He wanted to deny it. Wanted to run off to Mexico and burn off his fingerprints. But he knew deep down that Freddie was right.

“Where do I start?”

“Well,” Freddie said kindly, leaning back and crossing his legs, “you can start with me.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Well,” Freddie said kindly, leaning back and crossing his legs, “you can start with me.”

 

/

 

 

It was daunting, talking about it for the first time. It wasn’t a conversation that Roger had ever had before and he had no idea where to start. How was he supposed to look his best friend in the eye and tell him that he liked dressing in women’s clothing?

“How did it start?”

Roger tried his best to not shrug in immediate response and push the query aside. It was a good question, but honestly Roger had no clue.

“I don’t know,” he finally said. “I knew I was bisexual when I was a teenager, but I hid it for so long. I had to, living at home with my dad. When I went to uni, I finally let myself explore. Just looking at guys, you know? Flirting a little more openly, dancing with them in clubs after a few drinks. And then I met you.” Roger looked up and smiled softly at Freddie.

“You and I opened that stall in the market and I started to want more of all the things I’d never been allowed. I started letting myself want more. Bright colours, bold patterns. I grew my hair our and started wearing skin-tight stuff. Staying out later and later, going on date after date. And then there was Tim.”

Freddie bristled at the name of Roger’s ex and Roger dropped his gaze again. “Well, one night about six months into our relationship, he took me to this little pub, out of the way on the other side of High Street, where all the staff were… well, you know. Like me. But even more so. They were fully made-up and I’m pretty sure half of them dressed up all the time. They looked so natural and so at ease in their dresses and makeup. They were just so beautiful, all of them; so delicate and so soft. No judgement, no questions. I wanted it. It hit me like a fucking train. I wanted that look, that image. Didn’t know which part I wanted more; I just knew I wanted it all.”

Roger bit his lip, suddenly fascinated by the swirls of milk in his mug. “I don’t think Tim had a motive for taking me to the bar. Not right at the beginning, anyway. He’d never hinted that he wanted a girlfriend, or that he wanted me to change in any way. But, I don’t know. Things just never really felt right after I’d found that place. Or found that need, I guess. Tim started to make comments when he noticed something was off, just here and there. Nothing major or too direct to start with, but… well. You knew him. You know what I’m talking about.”

Roger gave a self-deprecating chuckle and Freddie reached out to take his hand. Tim had turned out to be a bit of a shit-head and Freddie had taken the brunt of the breakup. “The clothes started, well I let it start, when we broke up. I went back to that pub that night we saw Tim with the guy from the front desk at the library, remember?”

Quirking a slight smile at the venom in Freddie’s eyes, Roger squeezed his friend’s fingers. It looked like Freddie remembered that day all too well – it had only been about three weeks after Roger and Tim had called off their relationship and it had shaken Roger pretty badly. Enough that he’d fallen into quite a few beds in the following weeks and spent more than one night hunched over the toilet with tears falling down his cheeks and John holding his hair up out of the way.

“Well, I went that night and started talking to a couple of waiters,” Roger continued. “They were all really nice to me and I found myself wanting to spill all of my secrets. I felt encouraged, you know? Brave. Like I could actually do something that I wanted after so long of having to check every small decision. The next day I got the train to Manchester and bought a skirt from a little boutique there. It was only cheap and didn’t exactly fit right, but it was mine. I could put it on and feel…”

Roger shrugged and took his hand out of Freddie’s grip, falling back on the sofa and sighing. “I don’t know, really. Free, I suppose. Pretty, definitely. I’d brush my hair and put stuff on my lips; pretend I was something more than boring old Roger Taylor, university dropout and parental disappointment.”

Freddie reached out swiftly and kicked Roger on the shin. “You’re a lot more than that, arsehole.”

“Oh darling,” Roger clasped a hand over his heart, “you say the sweetest things.”

Freddie kicked him again and Roger’s smile became a little more real. He took a sip from his mug and licked his lips.

“You really want to do it for a video?”

Freddie nodded thoughtfully as he settled back in his chair, lifting his leg and tucking it up underneath him. “I think so. I know I just said it to cover you, but I think we could pull it off. Only if you think you can do it, darling. I would never make you do it if you didn’t–”

“I know, Fred. I know.” There was a comfortable silence in the room for a long moment before Roger sighed. “I have to tell him, don’t I?”

It was hardly even a question, but Freddie nodded anyway. Roger sighed again and set down his mug on the coffee table, running a hand through his hair.

“Fuck. Haven’t even got my good-luck underwear cause I’m pretty sure I last saw them hanging over Deacy’s arm.” Roger heard the laugh that Freddie tried to bite back and gave him a tired smile. “You coming with me?”

Freddie returned his smile and blew him a kiss. “Always.”

 

/

 

Roger didn’t think he’d ever felt so nervous in all his life. And wasn’t that just ridiculous? It was only Brian, after all. His best friend of however many years; his bandmate, his boyfriend. If Roger believed in soulmates then he might even go as far as to say that Brian was his. There was no way that Brian would ridicule him or reject him, right? Brian loved him. But would he believe him?

Roger hadn’t actually been with a woman since he and Tim broke up, but he had been somewhat of a playboy before that. Maybe Brian thought that Roger was going back to that lifestyle, had gotten bored of their relationship and been unfaithful. Not that Roger would ever do that. No, what he did was even more fucked up than that.

Roger stood outside his flat, hand raised to knock but not actually moving. God, this was his fucking house and yet he was struggling to open the door and walk inside. He didn’t have to knock to go into his house, surely. The longer he stood there, the more time he had to think about what he was actually doing. Which was confessing his deepest and darkest secret to the love of his life. No big deal.

Roger took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He was being such an idiot, standing on the doorstep to his own damn house when he didn’t even know if Brian was home. As soon as he pushed open the door it became clear that yes, Brian was home because there was the other man sitting on the sofa. He was wearing worn jeans and a baggy maroon sweater, his feet bare and most of his hands covered by the long, woolly sleeves. If it had been any other day, Roger wouldn’t have hesitated in running forward and throwing himself at his boyfriend looking so invitingly comfy, but today his feet were planted firmly on the floor.

“Hey.”

Brian didn’t startle at Roger’s voice, but simply lifted his head slowly and gave a small smile. Something loosened in Roger’s chest at that and he swallowed thickly.

“Hey, Rog. I didn’t know if you’d be coming… well.” Brian cleared his throat and licked his lips. “I see you found some clothes last night, then.”

Roger nodded, glad for the excuse to look down as he tugged at his shirt. “Yeah, well. You know Fred. I think we each have enough clothes at each other’s places to move in.”

“That’s true.”

They lapsed into silence once more. Roger hovered awkwardly by the door before he finally let out a deep sigh and walked into the living room.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m sorry – what?” Roger cut himself off when Brian’s words registered and he stared at his partner like he’d gone mad.

“Are you okay?” Brian repeated, brow furrowing in concern. “You ran out of here so quickly yesterday. Are you feeling any better?”

Roger’s heart swelled at the blatant concern in Brian’s voice and he swallowed thickly as he lowered himself into the armchair.

“I’m okay,” he promised, only half-lying. He wasn’t the best he could be, but he didn’t feel as sick as he had done last night. With Brian looking at him like he always did, so openly and longingly, Roger felt a strange burst of confidence. 

“I’m sorry for running out,” he continued. “I just – I couldn’t, I needed to…”

When he trailed off, Brian gave a half-smile. “I know. And it’s okay; I had John.”

“Right.” At the mention of his friend, Roger began to feel the nerves fluttering in his stomach again. “Is he…”

“Confused.” Brian’s smile fell flat and he lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Like me. Very confused. Hurt. Trying not to jump to the very worst conclusions.”

Roger flinched and stared down at the ground intently, looking at the patterned carpet without actually seeing anything.

“What did you come to?” he finally made himself ask, voice hoarse and not really sounding anything like his.

Brian let out a slow breath. “It looks like…” he sighed as he broke off and Roger waited, his heart nearly beating right out of his chest, “like you’re cheating on me.”

Roger had almost known that that was coming, but it was still a punch to the chest. He didn’t bear look at the other man and instead let himself fall forward as though his strings had been cut. Bracing his elbow on his knee, Roger dropped his head into his palm where the tears started to fall. It was a wonder that he actually had anything let to cry, but somehow he managed.

His heart twisted at the thought of cheating on Brian, or maybe at the thought of Brian thinking him capable of cheating. That was probably what hurt the most; Brian had been there to witness Roger’s lifestyle after his breakup with Tim, but for whatever Roger had done, he was never disrespectful. And all of the bed-hopping had all stopped from the moment that Roger had begun to realise he’d been feeling something deeper towards Brian anyway. Just the mere thought of cheating on Brian was enough to make Roger want to hurl. There was just no way.

But maybe it was easier to let Brian think that than have to come forward with the God’s honest truth.

Roger buried his face in his hand as his shoulders shook. God, he felt like shit. He was such a shit boyfriend, such a useless and worthless friend. More thoughts began to race through his head, all as self-deprecating as the last. They were poison, dripping with venom like tentacles of a monster wrapping around him and holding him tight.

Roger jolted when he felt the cushion beside him dip and an arm curl around his shoulders to pull him against a warm body. He started to lean into the touch before he registered the familiar scent and he pulled away to blink up at Brian.

“What?”

Brian reached up slowly and brushed away a few tears dripping down Roger’s cheeks. “You’re crying, Rog. You really think I’m going to stay over there?”

Roger sniffed loudly and a fresh wave of tears hit him. Brian reached up and cupped the back of his head, fingers tangling in long blond hair as he guided Roger to lean on his shoulder. The gentleness of the embrace made Roger cry even more and he lifted his hands to clutch at Brian’s sweater. He curled his fingers into fists as he choked back sobs, feeling more pathetic with each passing minute. Brian didn’t loosen his hold, merely stroking Roger’s back and swaying them slightly where they sat.

The minutes passed in silence before Roger finally tried to pull away, having had enough embarrassment for one day. Anyway, the longer he spent in Brian’s arms the harder it would be to pull away when Brian inevitably broke up with him.

Pulling away was also a lot less painful than being pushed.

“Hey,” Brian whispered, his hand cupping Roger’s cheek and wiping away even more tears. Christ, where the hell were they all coming from? “Talk to me. Please, Rog. I hate seeing you like this. Tell me what’s wrong.”

“I’m not cheating on you.” Roger wet his dry lips and tried to swallow around the lump in his throat before he spoke again, voice hoarse. “I promise, Bri, I’m not. I wouldn’t.”

“I didn’t want to think you were. I didn’t really, I just – well. It was hard to think of another reason. I didn’t want to–”

“I know.” Roger swallowed again, barely holding it together. “But I’m not, I swear. I wouldn’t, Bri. Baby, I love you. I love you so much.”

Brian surged forward and wrapped his arms around Roger once more.

“I know,” he said into Roger’s hair. His fingers were curled tight enough to hurt, but Roger loved the feeling. He wanted the pain, wanted to know that Brian was there and holding him. “And I love you, angel. Talk to me. Roger, please.” Brian’s voice wobbled and Roger was struck by the desperation he heard there. “Nothing can be this bad, nothing.

And Roger wanted to believe him; he really, really did. But he’d heard so many horror stories at the club and, on top of that, he’d had so many years of his dad spitting filth and beating him down. Roger wanted to trust Brian, but he couldn’t just expect the man to be okay with something like this. Not many people were that accepting of things they couldn’t – or wouldn’t – understand.

Brian pulled away and, though Roger longed to follow the embrace, he let him go, teeth digging into his bottom lip in a weak attempt to keep in his whine. Holding his boyfriend’s gaze, Roger took a deep breath. His heart was thudding and his hands shaking. He didn’t dare move, didn’t even blink as Brian cupped his face once again, thumb sweeping softly over his cheek.

“It’s me, Rog. You can tell me anything.”

“They’re mine.” The world seemed to stop as soon as the words left Roger’s mouth. “The clothes.” Whose voice was that? Roger barely recognised it. “The skirt. The bra. They belong to me. They’re mine.”

Silence. It stretched on and on, only broken by Roger’s choking breaths and the occasional sniff from Brian. Their gazes were still locked as though they could never look away. Brian didn’t say anything for a long time, nor did he stop the gently stroking of his thumb. His other hand lifted to cup Roger’s other cheek as he gave the tiniest hint of a smile.

“Okay, sweetheart,” he said quietly, so softly, “it’s okay.”

Chapter Text

Frozen, Roger sat there for a long moment. Okay?  It wasn’t fucking okay. Not by a long shot. He would never be okay.

Before he could open his mouth to reply, Brian took the time to lean forward and pull the other man into one of the tightest hugs he’d ever had. Roger thought about pulling away, but when Brian’s hand found its way to his hair once more, he fell forward bonelessly. This time he really was out of tears, but his entire body started to shake as he worked himself up into a right state again.

He buried his face in Brian’s neck and took huge, gasping breaths in a weak attempt to calm himself down. The wonderfully familiar scent of Brian helped him remember where he was and he gripped the back of Brian’s sweater even tighter, no doubt stretching it beyond belief.

“It’s okay, Rog,” he heard distantly, unclearly. It was like he was trapped deep underwater, everything around him fuzzy and undefined. He fought against the haze, pushing closer towards the man he loved before he could collect himself. “I promise, baby. You’re okay.”

God knows how long they sat there, wrapped up together in the silence of their small flat. It was long enough for Brian’s voice to go hoarse, but he didn’t stop murmuring. Roger chased the voice he knew so well and somehow managed to follow it back to full consciousness, wincing at how husky it had gotten. Brian smoothed his hand over Roger’s back patiently, seemingly having no problem with staying there all night if that was what was needed.

“You’re such a silly thing,” Brian was saying as Roger began to drift back into the moment, shifting on the sofa slightly and slowing Brian’s hand to a stop. “Look at you, all worked up over nothing. It’s all okay, angel. My little worrier. You back with me now?”

Though he was beyond tempted to close his eyes and pretend to be asleep, Roger nodded against Brian’s neck. Taking one final calming breath to surround himself with his partner’s wonderful scent, Roger lifted his head.

“Yeah.” He cleared his throat and sniffed. “Yeah, Bri. I’m here.”

His head hurt, his eyes felt puffy and God knows they must have been red as hell. His voice sounded like gravel and all he wanted to do was pass out and never wake up again.

“So.” Brian slid his hands round Roger’s body until he could interlock their fingers. “They’re yours?”

Roger nodded, not trusting his voice any more.

“Just those?”

A shake of his head.

“Do you have them for a reason?”

Another nod.

“A reason like the one Fred gave us?”

A pause before Roger have the slightest shake of his head, eyes dropping to the floor and fingers clenching around Brian’s impossibly tight.

“I wear them.” The short, sharp words left Roger’s mouth before Brian could ask any more questions. “I put them on and I wear them around the house. I bought them because I like how they feel, like feeling pretty.”

“You’re always pretty,” Brian blurted out as if he couldn’t stop himself. Roger startled and Brian gave an unashamed shrug, staying quiet for Roger to continue explaining.

“Well, yeah – no,” Roger took a moment to collect his thoughts, clearly flustered by the other man’s words. “It… I don’t know, Bri. What do you want to know?”

“Everything.” Brian squeezed Roger’s hand, his tone heartbreakingly honest. “I want to know it all.”

 

 

 

/

 

 

It was easier in his room.

Despite the initial panic he’d had at walking into his bedroom to see the skirt and bra John had found laid out on his bed waiting for him, Roger felt a little more in control when in his own space. He felt a little less vulnerable than when they’d been out in the living room, where anyone could walk in, where he couldn’t hide. Now though, he invited Brian to sit on the bed whilst he crossed the room to the wardrobe. When he had a few foot of space between them, Roger relaxed a little and took advantage of opening the doors and having his back to Brian to set his face and rub his eyes.

“Where did John find it?”

“I don’t know,” Brian said and Roger could feel his eyes fixed on his back. “Something was on the floor I think, one of them. He went into the wardrobe for one of my jumpers, so maybe the skirt fell out of there.”

“Right.” Roger gave a humourless chuckle. “I never was any good at tidying up.”

Taking a deep breath as he finally opened the door all the way and reached right to the very end of the rail to pull out a few items usually hidden by masses of other brightly coloured items, Roger spoke again with turning around.

“That was the first one I bought," he said about the skirt on the bed. "It came from Manchester, some tiny boutique on the outskirts of the city.”

“When did you get it?”

“After Tim.” Roger’s teeth dug into his bottom lip and he waited until it really hurt before he released the red skin. “A month or so after we broke up, I think; I don't know really. About a year before you and I finally got together, anyway. It was the only one I had for months. I used to only get it out when you would go away for a weekend, go home to your parents or something. I’d keep it right down in the corner of the wardrobe to avoid anyone ever finding it so every time I got it out I’d need to iron it before I could wear it.”

He coughed and cleared his throat, rubbing at his temple in a pathetic attempt to stave off his headache. His mind was all over the place and he just wanted to crash. “So, this one. This was the second one I got, I think. Yeah, yeah, it was.”

Roger turned on his heel and showed Brian the dark blue skirt in his hands, tiny diamonds dotted in a hard-to-see pattern. “I actually got this one from our stall. Well, it’s not our stall anymore. But I went there a few months back and pretended I was buying for Clare. That was weird, let me tell you. It was a very strange feeling and I don’t like to think about that experience when I wear it.”

Brian’s lips quirked up as he took the skirt from Roger’s outstretched hands. There was a moment where it seemed as though Roger wasn’t going to give it up, but when Brian didn’t pull away, Roger released it with a small wince and turned to get another.

“This one I got in Swansea, I think,” he said before Brian could make a comment. “Maybe Cardiff. Either way, that was a fun trip, trying to make sure none of you nosy fucks went through my suitcase before we got home.”

Brian huffed a laugh and when Roger turned to hand him the next item, he was shocked to see how carefully his blue skirt was laid out on the bed. Brian really was an angel and Roger didn’t deserve him in the slightest.

With that thought in mind, he handed Brian the skirt in his grip and took a moment to appreciate how lovely the man’s fingers looked against the bright purple of the material. Too bad he would never get to see that beautiful combination when the skirt was on his body.

Swallowing down the rush of ill-timed lust, Roger turned and reached into the wardrobe again. “This one doesn’t really go with my colouring, but it’s got such a nice shape to it that I had to have it. I wanted to get Fred to…”

“To what?” Brian asked when Roger trailed off.

“I was gonna ask someone to keep an eye out for the same style in a nicer colour, but obviously… I didn’t know how to phrase it. Not with someone so close. How was I meant to explain it? I couldn't just ask someone to look out for a skirt for me without giving a reason.”

“What’s wrong with it?" Brian asked as he stared at Roger with a shrug. "It’s cute.”

Roger bit back a laugh at Brian May describing a pink skirt as cute as he held the skirt against his waist, spinning to demonstrate what he meant.

“It doesn’t go with the blond. The pink is just too, I don’t know. It just doesn’t go. Doesn’t suit me.”

Roger threw the skirt down on the bed with a shake of his head. Before he could turn back to find the last one, he froze as Brian picked up the screwed up ball of fabric by his side and carefully smoothed it out again. Brian was treating Roger’s clothes like they were something special, something treasured. To Roger they were, of course, but seeing Brian recognise that made Roger’s heart nearly beat right out of his chest.

Turning back to the wardrobe, Roger’s hands began to tremble as he reached in to pull out the last skirt that he owned. This one was by far his favourite. He’d only bought it a few months before, too scared that having five skirts was one too many and risking far too much, multiplying his chances of being found out by an unprecedented amount. Not that four was any better really, but he wasn't known for his common sense when it came to this weird fetish.

But then he’d seen the skirt through a window walking home from a pub late one night and he’d fallen in love almost instantly. He’d tried so hard to resist it. Nights passed and Roger actually suffered from a lack of sleep, which was just ridiculous. All of his dreams, both daydreams and those that came at night, were plagued with the image of that damn skirt. He imagined buying it, wearing it at home for when Brian would come in from a long day at the studio. He pictured it over and over again, how his lover’s eyes would glaze over and he wouldn’t be able to resist the sight in front of him. Fantasy-Brian would surge forward and push Roger against the closest surface, thrusting up against him as he mouthed at his neck, sucking dark bruises into pale skin. They would have sex right there, Brian too gone to control himself when faced with that skirt. He’d whisper in Roger’s ear how much he loved it, how beautiful he looked, how nobody would ever be able compare.

Roger had longed for that to come true so he denied himself no more. Of course it never actually would happen, but when he had the skirt in his hands, it was so easy to pretend.

And now Brian would see it for the first time.

“Fuck.”

Roger let out a chuckle, punched from his throat as though he hadn’t expected it as he held the skirt in front of him for his partner to see.

“It’s… fuck,” Brian continued eloquently, his voice no more than a breathed whisper. “Did you have this made?”

Roger shook his head, hands slack as he let Brian pluck the skirt from them. “No. No, it was from this place in town. I saw it and… I couldn’t not have it.”

“It’s my colour.” Brian swallowed as he ran his thumbs over the waistband and tugged a little to feel the stretch of the material. “It’s…”

“The exact colour of the Red Special,” Roger finished for him. “I know. Almost uncanny, right?”

“Yeah. Wow. And you wear this–,” Brian cut himself off suddenly, eyes wide as they flickered between the skirt in his hold and Roger’s face.

“Here. Yeah. It’s my favourite one. I wear it when you're not here for a long period of time or if I want to feel pretty. It goes well with…”

“With?” Brian prompted softly when Roger closed his mouth without finishing his sentence.

Roger lifted his chin and stood his ground, jaw set and eyes sparkling with another round of tears. Was he really about to do this?

“With your white shirt.” Yes, guess he was. “You know the one? Fred got it for you a while back; large grey buttons down the front. It goes well with that red skirt and a black bra.”

Brian choked on air and Roger felt his cheeks flush an instant scarlet. That was too much, right? Brian had just been taking it all so well and Roger had sort of let himself fall into a false sense of security. He’d forgotten what he was talking about, forgotten who he was sharing his darkest secret with. The shakes came back as he realised what the fuck he was actually doing. God, it was surreal. Ridiculous was a better word, actually. It was insane; no, he  was insane. 

“Right. Forgot about that, didn’t we?” Roger swallowed and tried to keep his voice from breaking. Lingerie was a step over the line. “Too weird?”

Brian was off the bed in a flash and standing in front of Roger before the man could blink, the skirt abandoned on the bed as he ducked to meet Roger’s gaze.

“Show me.”

Roger jolted when he felt large hands curl over his hips and he shook his head softly. “What? No. You don’t mean that. Trust me; you don’t want to see it.”

“I do, Rog. I want to see everything; I want to know it all.”

“Fuck.” Roger choked out a half laugh and turned his head to hide in his palm. He felt as though he might actually vibrate right out of his skin, his hands shaking almost violently and his knees feeling as though they were going to give out at any second. “How are you not running for the hills yet?”

A hand curled around Roger’s shoulder and a soft voice washed over him. “Not yet, sweetheart. There’s nothing to run from.”

Roger turned into the body next to him and let out a sob, clutching at Brian’s forearms with weak fingers. “You promise?”

“I’m still here, Rog," Brian said, pressing a kiss to messy hair. "In it for the long run.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Roger only had two bras. He wished he had more, but lingerie was a lot harder to explain than skirts. They were also a little too feminine to deny, even to himself. If he wanted to pretend that he was ‘normal’, then he needed to not have women’s underwear in his closet. Or that was his reckoning, at least, because bras were definitely womanly; there no two ways about it. There was something definitive about buying a piece of lingerie, about putting that item on his manly body and committing to the look that seemed to confirm his desires. And it was terrifying. Even when he was on his own with the door locked, it was so scary to actually fasten the bra around his chest and let himself become like all of the men he’d spent hours staring at in the club. Like all of the women, even.

But there was something so wonderful about it at the same time. It was so freeing, so soothing. The lace scratched against his nipples in the most welcome way and the tightness of the band restricting his breathing when he pulled it hard enough to leave indents in his pale skin was so relaxing. It wasn’t something he let himself indulge in very often so he was yet to get used to the feeling. He relished every stolen moment.

As Roger didn’t actually have breasts that needed to be controlled, he could pick the bras he wanted because of how they looked instead of how they worked. He only had two now, but they were gorgeous. It seemed that the fight he’d had with himself over waiting had paid off as the shop he had bought from had just introduced a new range of bras when he’d gone in with the pretence of buying for his girlfriend.

He’d picked the first one almost as soon as he’d walked through the door. It was black – an easy colour to hide against the dark inside of his wardrobe or under his bed – with a lacy band. The cups were barely there, just small scraps of material to cover his nipples and make the pale expanse of his chest even starker. He’d bought it on the first visit to the small boutique, almost running home with it hidden under his coat, all wrapped up in delicate tissue paper.

But the second one had taken him a little longer to find and he’d had to go back to the shop a couple of times. Knowing he was limiting himself to two or three pieces only, Roger had wanted to get himself the nicest bra he could. On a day that he wasn’t crippled with self-guilt and hatred, he saw it. Another black bra, but this time with a hint of red sewn along the frilled edges around its cups. Roger loved it, though he knew he wasn’t worthy of it.

“Hey, Rog.” Brian’s hesitant voice cut through Roger’s thoughts and brought him back to the present. “You ready? You don’t have to do it today. Or ever, for that matter.”

Roger shuddered and gave a jerky shake of his head. “No,” he said, pulling out of Brian’s embrace and crouching down to reach the bottom drawer of the wardrobe. “No, I want to. Rip it off like a plaster and all that.”

“Roger, stop. Sweetheart, please, look at me.”

Roger’s hands stilled on the handle and he looked over his shoulder at his boyfriend. Brian knelt down next to him and reached out slowly, cupping his hand around Roger’s neck and flicking blond hair away so that he could smooth over the soft skin there.

“It’s not a plaster, okay? None of this is not meant to hurt. If it’s causing you pain, then we don’t do it; it’s as simple as that. Anyway, there’s no time limit on this. You don’t have to rush through it all now because I’m not going anywhere. If you don’t want me to see, then don’t show me. It’s okay.”

Roger leant into the hand and gave a wobbly smile. “I don’t deserve you, Brian May. Nobody will ever deserve you.” He leant forward and pressed his lips to the corner of Brian’s mouth briefly, swiping his thumb over the same place before he turned back to the drawer and pulled it open sharply. “But I’m doing this right now.”

When the drawer was open, it was clear to see inside at a pile of clothing that didn’t look much like lingerie. Roger reached in and pulled out an old pair of jogging bottoms, a screwed-up shirt that looked suspiciously like John’s and a denim jacket.

“Pretty sure Fred’s been looking for that,” Roger murmured as he chucked it to one side. “Remind me to give it to him later, yeah?”

Brian muttered something affirmative, but Roger’s attention was firmly back on the drawer where there was no longer anything hiding Roger’s other bra; his favourite one. It was made of a silky material with an intricate lace detail decorating the cups. Even when Roger finally owned the piece, he wouldn’t let himself put it on for fear of ripping it. Well, that, and the fact that Roger wasn’t delicate enough for a stunning piece of clothing like that, wasn’t beautiful enough to earn such a perfect treat. He couldn’t resist stretching out his hand and letting his finger dance down the edging of the right cup almost dreamily, sighing ever so slightly at the softness. There was something about the feel of the silk material that grounded Roger.

“You saw the one John found, yeah?” Roger asked, shuffling subtly away from Brian’s touch. “Well, that was the one I got before this one. So, I bought it, God, I don’t know, must be well over two years ago? The very first time I ever got one was even before that. Some girl left one at Fred’s after a party and…”

Roger coughed and bit down on his bottom lip to stop himself from talking, teeth digging into the soft flesh until it hurt viciously.

Brian reached out quickly and caught Roger’s lip, pulling it free. “Don’t do that, baby, please. What were you saying?”

“Fuck, I need a drink,” Roger muttered under his breath before he shook himself and lifted his eyes back up, pulling away from Brian. When he spoke again, his voice was a little stronger. “After some huge party, when we were clearing up, I found a bra. At first, I was just fucking around with John, teasing him and chucking it around to watch his little face flush bright red. And then someone else came in, I don’t even remember who. Don’t think I’ve seen them since, them or the friends they called in. Anyway, they started joining in and one of them dared me to put it on. You know me, of course I did it.”

Brian gave a tiny smile and Roger matched it for a moment before it fell away and his gaze dropped back to his twisting hands. “This was after I had realised I had a thing for women’s clothing, but I hadn’t actually taken the first step to wear the clothes. Anyway, I put it on and we laughed about it for a minute or two, joked about how well it fit me and that. Then we just all went on with the clean-up. It wasn’t until I got back here and I realised I still had it on that I noticed I didn’t not like it. It was weirdly comfortable, strangely normal for me to be wearing it. I got rid of it almost immediately, though. Felt too weird to have someone else’s bra, you know?”

“But you wanted one?”

“Yeah.” Roger started to clench his hands into fists, eager for the sharp sting of his nails in his palms. He kept his nails a little on the long side to counteract the otherwise manly appearance of his hands and now he was glad for that as they left sharp indents in his already-calloused skin.

“So you got one for yourself?”

God, Brian was so calm. He was like a rock in the middle of a storm, completely solid and never so much as swaying. How was he taking this so well? People underestimated Brian May and Roger himself had clearly, stupidly, been one of those.

“Yes. I went and, well. It was only a shit one, my first. Cheap and cheerful. I stopped on the way back from my parents’ one weekend, got off the train somewhere about halfway home and managed to get into a tiny place literally minutes before they closed. I’d just had such a shitty weekend with that asshole of a man I call my dad and I just needed something. Something to make me feel alive, you know? Anyway, before I could stop myself I grabbed and bought one of the first ones I saw and ran out of there before I could convince myself to put it back. It wasn’t exactly pretty, but it lasted me a month or so.”

Roger could feel something rising in his throat as his stomach churned almost violently. He stroked over the bra again as he recalled old memories he didn’t often let himself dwell on. “It ripped pretty easily. I remember having an argument with dad about something a few weeks later and coming home literally vibrating with anger. No one else was here and I just needed to break something, to scream it out. The bra was so easy. It represented just about everything I was angry at and by the time I’d finished, it was in pieces. Took me about six months to work up the courage to get another. That one was the one that John found. It’s my practical one.”

Roger nodded down to the bra in front of them and nearly jumped out of his skin when Brian reached out and covered his hands with his own, squeezing them softly.

“And this one?” he asked when Roger fell silent.

“This was my special one. It, well, you know, I couldn’t – didn’t want, it was the first…” Roger swallowed and ripped himself out of Brian’s hold suddenly. “I can’t do this,” he said, jerking his head from side to side as his breathing began to quicken. “I really can’t – I have to…”

He surged to his feet and all but ran down the hallway to the kitchen, his head spinning and his hands shaking. The all-too-familiar feeling of a panic attack was rising up the back of his neck and he tried desperately to think through his breathing techniques. How did he normally bring himself back? When he was standing in the wings and terrified of running on stage, how did he calm himself down? When he was standing on his doorstep about to face down his dad, what did he always tell himself was waiting for him at home?

Brian. It was always with Brian.

 

 

 

 

//////////

 

 

 

 

Brian followed Roger into the kitchen, moving at a much slower pace than that of the younger man. He let Roger storm ahead, but when he reached for the bottle of vodka on the side, Brian made a protesting noise in the back of his throat.

Without touching Roger, Brian skirted around him and walked calmly over to the sink, picking up a cup from the drying rack and filling it with cold water from the tap. In silence, Brian turned and walked back over to Roger, standing behind him but not touching as he reached around and placed the glass down on the side.

Brian waited until Roger reached out with shaking hands and forced himself to empty nearly the whole glass. When he dropped it back onto the side with a startling-loud noise, Brian curled his hand over Roger’s thin wrist.

“Take a breath,” he said firmly, kindly. “A slow one, in an out.”

When Roger finally let out a very ragged breath, Brian loosened his already-weak grip and made to move away to give Roger the space that it looked like he needed. Before he could, however, Roger gave an almost-whine and Brian froze in place. He didn’t spare another thought before he blanketed himself over Roger’s back, pressed close from head to toe. Brian was practically pinning Roger to the counter, his arms wrapped tight around the blond’s waist and one of his legs slipped between Roger’s. It felt as though Roger was still trying to get closer and Brian took the hint. He buried his head into Roger’s neck, resting his cheek on his lover’s shoulder and pressing soft kisses to the sweet-smelling skin.

They lost track of time as they stood there in silence, the only sounds being the water sloshing in the glass when Roger lifted it intermittently to take small sips. Brian didn’t know what to say. He had so many questions burning on his tongue, but what he wanted to know wasn’t important. What did matter was that Roger came back to him, that his beautiful smile lit up his face once more.

“I love you.”

The words seemed small, meaningless. Almost insignificant against the tension still hanging in the air. They were far too small in the quiet room. But at the same time, they meant everything to Brian. He found it hard to talk about his feelings, writing them down in song form was much easier, but saying things out loud was difficult. Somehow, Roger had started to make it come a little easier. Roger made everything easier. Nothing could change that, not even this.

Brian was of the firm belief that there was nothing in the world that could ever change the way that he felt about Roger Taylor.

“You hear me?” Brian shifted his head, pressing his forehead against Roger’s clothed shoulder as he held him tighter, fingers splayed below his ribs to feel each one of Roger’s deep breaths.

“Nothing you do will ever make me stop loving you. You might think that’s ridiculous, far-fetched. You might not believe me, but it’s true, okay? You are it for me.”

Brian pressed even closer and let out a shaky breath when Roger’s hands finally dropped to cover his.

“You are everything.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Brian was of the firm belief that there was nothing in the world that could ever change the way that he felt about Roger Taylor.

“You hear me?” Brian shifted his head, pressing his forehead against Roger’s clothed shoulder as he held him tighter, fingers splayed below his ribs to feel each one of Roger’s deep breaths.

“Nothing you do will ever make me stop loving you. You might think that’s ridiculous, far-fetched. You might not believe me, but it’s true, okay? You are it for me.”

Brian pressed even closer and let out a shaky breath when Roger’s hands finally dropped to cover his.

“You are everything.”

 

 

There was another long moment of silence; maybe seconds, maybe hours. All too soon, Roger lifted his hands and prised Brian’s steel grip away from his stomach. Brian protested when Roger pushed him backwards, but he went anyway. His teeth bit into his lip as he tried not to beg Roger to let him hold him again, knowing that Roger was still working through something. Brian stood there, body suddenly freezing cold with Roger’s warmth, staring at his partner’s back as he wondered what he had done wrong.

Before Brian could open his mouth, Roger cleared his throat as if to speak and Brian’s heart thumped wildly. There was another pause where Brian waited in nervous silence and then Roger lifted his hands. Watching as Roger unbuttoned his shirt and let it fall to the floor at his feet, Brian hated the rush of lust that burnt through him at the sight of beautifully pale skin, unblemished apart from a long, vertical scar starting at the nape of his neck and running halfway down his back.

Roger lifted his hair into a messy knot at the back of his head, long tendrils falling out of his hold and his scar was made infinitely more obvious. Brian had stared at that scar more times than he could remember, had traced it with his fingers and kissed it with his lips. But he’d never been told where it had come from – other than an accident when Roger had been a child. Brian had asked, but Roger had always just laughed it off. Waved Brian away with some story of an accident that he couldn’t really remember the details of.

“My Dad,” Roger said slowly, carefully, before he seemed to change his mind. It was unlike him to be so nervous, so unsure of his own thoughts. “When, when I was about ten, Clare was really into dresses and dolls. She was a couple of years younger than me, so it was the sort of thing little girls liked, right? Anyway, one summer she got bored and decided that she wanted to expand her collection. I was basically a real life-sized doll to her and she begged me for weeks, a full month probably, before I said yes to let her use me. It wasn’t for anything like… it was just that she was my sister, you know? I didn’t want to be shoved into a dress and have to play dolls with her, but at the same time I wanted to please her. So I finally gave in and let her dress me up. She stuffed me into one of her dresses – I was a thin, lanky kid so it fitted me shockingly well, to my disgust – and she put these sparkly clips in my hair. It was close-cropped back then so she couldn’t tie it up, but she managed to scrape it back enough for those horrible things. God, they hurt.”

Brian smiled at that, but it went nowhere near his eyes and it quickly fell from his face as Roger carried on talking. His neck moved beautifully with each word, drawing Brian’s eyes to stare at his back.

“I must have been dressed like it for an hour or more. It wasn’t too long, but it was long enough. I remember it beautifully. Dad came home from work strangely early. It was a gorgeous summer evening, one of those nights where it seemed that bedtime would never come because the sun was just so bright, you know?”

Roger swallowed and his other hand stretched out to dance along the counter, fingers tapping absentmindedly as he spoke again.

“Clare and I were outside in the garden. She had a tea party sort of thing set up, all her dolls around us in a circle. There were little cups of pretend tea and Mum had done her some sandwiches; tiny little pieces of bread with maybe one slice of cheese on them. Clare spent most of her summers outside in the garden doing stuff like that, but I never really joined in. Anyway, Dad suddenly came home. I remember looking up and seeing him walk out of the house, his suit still perfect and never a hair out of place. Dad laughed when he saw what Clare had set up. He came over and asked Clare if she was having fun and if she would pour him a cup of tea.”

Roger’s voice was horrible when it was so flat, so void of all emotion. It wasn’t how Roger should sound in the slightest. Brian wanted to go to him, to take the man in his arms and kiss him soundly. His feet were planted firmly on the floor though, frozen in horror as he listened to Roger’s story, knowing where it was going and dreading having to hear the confirmation. He wanted to ask Roger to stop, to tell him that he didn’t need to talk about it. Tell him that Brian didn’t actually want to hear about it.

Of course it was worse for Roger having to live through it, but the mere thought of someone marking Roger’s body with anything other than love made Brian want to cry. Or punch someone. He couldn’t promise that he wouldn’t, when all was said and done.

“The laughter stopped when he saw me though,” Roger continued hoarsely. His hand flexed where it was holding up his hair, gripping his locks far too tightly and Brian winced in sympathy.

“He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He couldn’t believe that Mum had let me do it, or that I’d let myself be dressed up like a fucking doll. A poof, a fairy.” Roger cut himself off with a sharp shake of his head and the grip of his hair tightened even more, knuckles going a ghastly white.

Brian stood still as if stuck in cement. He wanted to say something, but there were no words coming to his mouth.

“He grabbed me by the collar of Clare’s dress and dragged me inside. Mum was screaming at him, but Clare was crying and she didn’t know who to go to. Dad ignored them both and just yelled that he wouldn’t have me for a son – a boy who didn’t know how to be a man. Said he wasn’t raising a sissy, a homo. Screamed at Mum that she had pandered me and it was all her fault. He didn’t want two girls either – he said he had one of each and he liked it that way.”

“Jesus Christ,” Brian murmured, aghast.

Roger let out a small noise, halfway between a scoff and a sob. “Then he took off his belt and…”

Throwing caution to the wind, Brian surged forward and pulled Roger into his arms, only pausing to twist him so they were finally chest to chest. Roger’s hand was still tangled in his hair and Brian covered it with his own as his other arm wrapped around Roger’s bare waist, hand curling over his hip and holding him close. Though he’d only been a matter of feet away from him, Brian couldn’t stand not touching his partner when the sadness was practically pouring from Roger. Even if his embrace couldn’t erase the pain from all those years ago, Brian had to try.

“I’m so sorry, baby. Oh my Roger. I’m so sorry.”

Roger started shaking and Brian squeezed him closer, his own eyes filling with tears and knees threatening to buckle.

“I’ve got you, sweetheart,” Brian murmured, not really thinking about what he was saying but meaning the soft words falling from his lips all the same. “You’re safe now, I promise you.”

 

 

/

 

 

 

“Why did you never tell me?”

It had taken some coaxing, but Brian had finally convinced Roger to move from the kitchen and to get into their bed. Well, into the bed in Brian’s room. That had somewhat become their unofficial shared room over the months that they had been living together as a couple. Added to that fact, Roger’s room still had his clothes littering the bed and the floor, which wasn’t really going to contribute to the relaxed atmosphere that Brian had been aiming for.

Brian was propped up against the headboard with Roger curled up on his chest, one hand stroking knotted blond hair and the other tangled with Roger’s fingers against his stomach. His words were soft, but there was no mistaking them or pretending that they hadn’t been heard.

“It was a long time ago,” Roger finally replied, his voice just as low. His fingers flexed in Brian’s hold and his shoulders noticeably tensed for a second.

“Things like this don’t have an expiration date, Rog. It’s been years and it’s obviously still hurting you.” Brian didn’t want to push, but he also couldn’t let it go. He kept his voice quiet and soft as he pressed his fingers down onto Roger’s scalp ever so slightly more firmly.

Roger didn’t say anything for a long time and Brian stayed silent as well, focusing instead on the beautifully-rhythmic dancing of Roger’s fingers against his bare hip.

“He had hit me before,” Roger finally muttered. Though he didn’t clarify who he was talking about, it was pretty obvious. “Not often, but not rarely either. But it was never because of anything other than me just being a brat. That time, after the tea party, was the first time he’d ever actually used words to explain why he hated… well. And this was even before I knew I was queer.”

Brian tensed up at that and bit down on his tongue harshly to stop himself from interrupting. He finally let out a long and calming breath and it seemed to work on Roger as well, as the young man gave his hand a barely-there squeeze and started talking again, voice only slightly shuddery.

“I hated being in one of Clare’s dresses. Hated it the whole time I was doing it. I didn’t like the way it felt or the way it looked. It was so tight and so girly, all pink and flowery. Thought it was the most humiliating thing in the world and could only thank the Lord that none of my friends were there to see me. Then when Dad started going on about me being all of that, I didn’t know what to think.  I was so young; I barely had anything figured out. I don’t think I even liked girls at that age, you know? I didn’t know what he was going on about, didn’t know what half the words meant only that they sounded like poison the way Dad was spitting them at me. Just thought it was all shite, to be honest. So imagine my surprise about ten years later when it turns out he was right and I actually am a queer freak.”

Brian couldn’t keep quiet any longer and he tightened his arm around Roger. “You are not a queer fr- that,” Brian snapped, venom clear in his voice. “You’re not, Rog. You’re not any of those things. Just because you like men or you like wearing dresses doesn’t mean you’re a freak. And nobody should ever say that to you.”

Roger didn’t say anything and Brian sighed, knowing in his heart that Roger didn’t believe him. “There’s more isn’t there?” he asked, not really needing confirmation. “There’s another reason that you never said anything.”

There was a long silence before Roger turned ever so slightly and hid his face in Brian’s chest.

“I didn’t want you to agree with him.”

Brian’s jaw dropped open as his thoughts screeched to a halt. Had he really heard that right? After so many years of friendship and love, did Roger really think so little of him? Was it all of them, Freddie and John included, Brian couldn’t help but wonder, or was it just him?

“Why the hell would I agree with him?” Brian was trying very hard not to get angry, but it was difficult. Betrayal started to build up inside of him and his throat burned. “When have I ever done anything to make you think I believed anything that he did? I’m in a relationship with a man, for starters. That in itself should tell you something.”

Roger let out a half-sob and twisted further into Brian’s hold, still hiding his face from Brian. “I know, I know. I never said it was rational, did I? But he was my fucking Dad, for fuck’s sake. If he felt that way about me, then what’s to say you wouldn’t too?”

Brian felt the fight fall out of him instantly and he tightened his embrace, taking his hand off Roger’s back and rubbing up and down his arm instead. He wished he could just pull the duvet up over them and hide them both from the rest of the world forever, or at least until all of the pain stopped.

“Okay, sweetheart,” he soothed, tears still stinging but now for a different reason, “it’s okay.”

“I’m sorry.” Roger’s voice was muffled but his pain was clearly audible.

Brian sighed and craned his neck to drop a kiss to Roger’s hair, feeling hopeless and unfairly defeated. “You’ve got nothing to be sorry about, Rog. You didn’t do anything.”

“I should have told you. I should have told you everything long before now.”

“No,” Brian disagreed quietly. He wasn’t sure if Roger was talking about his penchant for clothing or his history with his Dad, but it didn’t really matter. Roger was entitled to his secrets as much as anyone, especially such deep ones with so much rooted hurt. “No, you shouldn’t have. You told me when you were ready. I’m just sorry that I never knew, is all. And I’m sorry for all of the times that I tried to force you to go home, to ring your Dad and tell him about our gigs.”

“I should have.”

“No.” Brian squeezed Roger tighter as a fresh wave of anger burnt through his chest, catching the other man’s legs between his so that Brian was surrounding him completely. “No, you shouldn’t have. That man has no place in our lives, okay? He never did and now, I can promise you, he never will.”

Brian pretended not to hear Roger’s loud sniff and just lay there, starting to hum a tune low under his breath.

 

 

 

After a long time, when Roger’s breathing had evened out again and his tears were drying from Brian’s shirt, Brian’s curiosity got the better of him.

“What did your Mum do?”

“Held me,” Roger replied softly, his voice a little warmer than when he’d recounted the memory with his Dad. “I’d stopped crying by the time Dad left again. He stormed out when. after… anyway. I have no clue where he went, but Mum stayed. She put Clare to bed – as angry as the little thing was to be shoved into her room, she understood that something bad was happening and she went. She knew she had to. And then Mum came into me. She didn’t dare take me to the hospital. I don’t know how she managed to patch me up; I don’t want to think about it too much to be honest. But she did.” Roger swallowed and rolled his shoulders as best he could under Brian’s arm.

Brian stayed quiet. He wasn’t used to Roger’s short sentences and stilted speech; he was used to Roger always being the most confident person in the room, commanding attention and generally shouting above all other voices. This was a new side of his partner, one that Brian had never seen so much of. Sure, Roger had his moments of vulnerability and insecurity where he would withdraw or seek out comfort, but never to this extent. It was unnerving.

“I don’t really remember all that much about any of it after that,” Roger murmured, his hand toying with Brian’s waistband. “I just remember being confused. I had no idea what I’d done to make Dad so mad. Obviously, I knew that boys didn’t wear dresses and I knew I’d have been teased something awful if my friends had seen me, but I just couldn’t understand what I’d done to make my Dad hate me so much.”

Brian squeezed his eyes shut and pressed a kiss to Roger’s hair. He had so much he wanted to say; he wanted to scream and yell on Roger’s behalf and then smother the other man with love until he believed that it wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t the time for it, though, so Brian bit down on his tongue until it bled and focused on staying as calm as he could.

“I stayed in bed for a few days, stayed locked away in my room for even longer,” Roger continued, his fingers starting to tap out an uncharacteristically erratic pattern. “Dad reappeared a week or so later, I think. He might have been there the whole time, but I never saw him.”

“What happened? After, I mean.”

“Dad only had one child after that. He tried to send me off to boarding school, but Mum wouldn’t let me go. She fought him for months. I remember her shouting that no matter what he wanted, there was no way that she’d ever send me so far away. They used to yell at each other when Clare and I were supposed to be asleep.”

“But you weren’t.”

“No. I’m not sure how she won that argument in the end, but she did. Dad just sort of gave up. Stopped everything, really. Stopped talking to me, stopped treating me like his child at all. Doted on Clare when she gave him the time of day, but barely acknowledged me until I was a teenager. Till I went off to uni, actually. That pissed him off too – it was the wrong college, the wrong degree, the wrong career choice, the wrong instrument and band. I still can’t win.”

“You win with me.” Roger sniffed against Brian’s neck and Brian tapped on his shoulder. “Sit up, sweetheart. Look at me.”

It took a long time for Roger to do ask he was asked, but he finally pushed himself up. He didn’t look at Brian as he scrubbed at his red eyes and flicked loose strands of hair away from his face.

“What?”

Brian reached out and curved a finger under Roger’s chin. “Look at me, sweetheart. You know you never deserved that. None of it, Rog, I swear. You’ve never done anything to deserve a single day of pain in your life. You’re perfect.”

Roger snorted and Brian gave the tiniest of smiles, his hand sliding up to cup Roger’s face. His heart melted when Roger turned his head the smallest angle to nuzzle into the touch.

“Alright,” Brian conceded, “you’re an annoying shit at the best of times, but you know you don’t deserve to be hurt. Especially not for something you like doing, something that makes you feel safe.”

Roger closed his eyes as he repositioned himself, shuffling closer to Brian and lifting his hand to cup Brian’s to his cheek, pressing his cheek more firmly into the touch.

“I guess the clothes started as a way to fuck with him. Dad, I mean,” Roger sighed, stretching his back, body bending from side to side without dislodging Brian’s hand. “Not that he would ever see me in a dress, of course, but I think I liked imagining the look on his face when I stood in front of the mirror all dolled up and looking more feminine than Clare.”

Brian laughed. “Yeah, I bet he wouldn’t be too pleased at that, would he?”

“It’s not the only reason, though,” Roger said, giving a tiny smile and lowering a hand to run over Brian’s legs, flicking off pieces of fluff sticking to his pyjama bottoms. “It’s really not. Never wanted him to be too associated with it, you know? I wanted my dressing up to always be a good thing, never marred by him. I don’t even want be thinking of him when I’m like it.”

“So what do you think of?” Brian removed his hand from Roger’s face, sliding it down the man’s neck and down his spine, rubbing soft circles at the base of Roger’s scar. He was glad that his boyfriend was finally starting to relax again, starting to act more like his usual self.

“Not a lot,” Roger confessed. His lips quirked up and he squeezed Brian’s knee. Brian covered Roger’s hand with his own, holding it there and soaking in the warmth of Roger’s touch. “Putting those clothes on is meant to be a release; a way to get out of my head. The whole point is that I stop thinking.”

“That makes sense.” Brian swallowed before he spoke again, the words tumbling out in a rush. “Is it the only time you feel like that?”

Roger’s smile softened as if he knew exactly what Brian was trying to ask without actually saying the words. “No, doll, it’s not. I feel that way when I’m with you, too. You’re my release. My safety.”

Brian’s heart beat loudly in his chest at that, a wave of love so sudden that it nearly hurt. “I always want to be that for you. I just wish I could have been it for so much longer.”

Roger’s smile dimmed a little and Brian cursed himself. This wasn’t about him; this was about Roger.

“You were always it, Brimi,” Roger said and Brian melted. “Even before we got together officially, you were the one I sought out. I just couldn’t stand the idea, the sheer thought, of you looking at me like I was a freak. Like I was something different, something disgusting.”

Brian bit his lip again to stop himself from muttering something, choosing instead to nudge his leg into Roger’s in silent support.

“I know you wouldn’t, Bri. I always knew it rationally, but no one’s ever called me logical, have they? It was my worst nightmare. Imagine looking into the eyes of the person you love the most in the world, the person that brings you back time and time again, and having them look at you like you’re nothing, like they don’t want to be wasting the energy on you. I feel so loved with you, baby. With every touch, every word you throw my way. Every time you kiss me and the way you look at me in the studio or after a show, like I’m the most amazing man in the world. I didn’t want it to go away. Didn’t want John to stop talking to me, or Fred to stop throwing himself on my lap whenever we went out. I couldn’t stand the idea of Queen breaking up and it all being my fault; no more shows or even practice sessions, ripping each other apart and screaming till we’re hoarse. No more John stealing my cigarettes or Freddie waking me up at 3am with song lyrics he needs me to write down makes me not want to wake up, Brian. No more Queen makes me not want to exist.”

Brian’s hands stilled and his heart skipped a beat, body running cold suddenly. “Don’t say that, angel. Jesus, don’t say that.”

Roger deflated and he rubbed his hand soothingly over Brian’s leg. “I’m sorry, baby. I just – you don’t know. The thought is just not…”

Brian surged forward and pulled Roger into a tight hug. One of his hands cupped the back of Roger’s head and held him against his shoulder. “You will never lose us. None of us, Rog. We all put up with Freddie’s smoking, clothing obsession, and constant lateness, and John’s bitching, perfectionism, and partying till all hours. We do it without complaining because that’s just them, Rog. That’s what a family is. You show the parts of you that you want to hide and you’re loved for them anyway. Your want to dress in skirts isn’t something that we would have to ‘put up with’ anyway, but even if it were, we would. None of us are going anywhere, my angel. I swear to you.”

“I wish you could make that promise. Because I didn’t think my Dad would ever…”

“Your Dad wouldn’t know a good thing if it slapped him in the face,” Brian growled, fisting his hand in Roger’s hair, using the touch to ground them both. “I can say with certainty that I’m here for the long run. I’m here and Fred is here. Who was the one who ran after you, huh? The first one you told? Fred. And John adores you, so he isn’t going anywhere either.”

“This is something so different though, Bri. It’s not normal.”

“Maybe not,” Brian conceded, pulling back from the hug ever so slightly to meet Roger’s sad gaze. He felt like a broken record, repeating the same things over and over, but he didn’t know what else he could say. Brian was willing to wear a sandwich board and march up and down High Street yelling about how special Roger Taylor was if that was what was needed, at this point.

“But being in love is sticking by that person even when it’s hard. Even when you’re mad, or you’re in pain, or you’re stuck in the same argument that doesn’t seem to have an end. Being in love means not walking away when they going gets tough. And this isn’t tough, Rog. This is just you.”

Roger sniffed, his eyes still red but with no more tears coming forward. The muscle in his jaw was jumping and Brian recognised the signs of his boyfriend trying not to cry.

“I love you,” Roger whispered, his lips close enough to share Brian’s breath. “I love you so much.”

“And I love you. Dresses and all. Make up, pants, bras, heels. I love every single part of you, angel. You are it for me.” Brian dropped his head down into the juncture of Roger’s neck, closing his eyes and tightening his arms around Roger’s waist. “What more can I do? Please, Rog. I don’t know what else I can do to make you believe me. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face, my darling, but I love you. Nothing, nothing, is going to change that. Not this, not you leaving the band, not you wanting to be an actual woman.”

“I don’t,” Roger cut in and Brian nipped the skin in front of him.

“I know you don’t, but I’m saying that it wouldn’t matter if you did. You’ve been my best friend for ten years, Roger. You’re not getting rid of me. You’re my bandmate, my roommate, my fucking soulmate. You are mine and I am without a doubt, 100%, as-sure-as-the-sky-is-blue yours. What can I do to prove that to you?”

Roger gave a hitching breath, a sob that Brian felt through his own body.

“You can stay,” he whispered, sliding one hand into Brian’s hair and dropping the other to interlock his fingers with Brian’s. “You can stay.”