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Was It All Worth It

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Chapter 1

1992

Melancholy was not something new to Brian, in fact, it was what he dealt with his whole life. But the past year was beyond anything that he had experienced before. Death of his father from lung cancer, now he felt overwhelming heaviness whenever he looked at his Red Special that they built together 30 years ago. He hasn’t even walked out the depression of his father, then Freddie put another dagger in his heart. Even after the funeral, he still couldn’t believe Freddie was forever gone. The man he knew for more than twenty years, shared more than half of their lives together. The man who was more flamboyant, charismatic, and full of life than anyone he knew. The man who was caring, generous, and kind who influenced millions of people in the world. Yet all the British press could write about was how his promiscuity led to his death. Brian would never forgive them for how they hunted Freddie down on his last few days on Earth essentially imprisoning him in his own home.

Doctors had said they could lose Freddie any day. Freddie had been ill a long time, and it was blatantly apparent during their last stay at Montreaux. In a way, Brian thought, it was relief that Freddie was gone, along with his suffering. Brian remembered when Freddie showed him his legs the last time they were in Montreaux, full of ulcers and sarcomas. Brian couldn’t hold in a yelp causing Freddie to apologize for scaring him. Rest in peace my dear friend. Brian thought, hopefully the other world is free of misery and full of joy.

Freddie’s words during his last visit to the singer still ring in his ears. If you didn’t have all the time in the world left, wouldn’t you regret that you didn’t even have the courage to ask? Yes he definitely would. He thought about the last 17 years with John, through the highs and lows, good and bad. They were twats for ever getting themselves in this situation, and even bigger idiots for letting it go on for as long as it did. Brian never doubted John’s love for him. But such a responsible and level-headed man, it would be a one in a thousand chance that John would decide to leave his family. John looked so good this afternoon too, an air of sorrow around him. Brian closed his eyes and relived this afternoon again, his scent, the taste of his lips, the prickly feel of his chin with three-day stubble. Because after his last push, it may really be the last time he got to hold and kiss the man he loved.

His father was gone, Freddie’s gone, the future of Queen is in question, and Jimmy, Louisa were still ignoring him. Emily was too young to know any different. Brian knew he was a failure as a husband, that’s been true from the start of the marriage. Now he was also a failure as a father. After Freddie’s gone, he wondered if he could ever play guitar again. And if John decided to end with him, what did he have left in this world.

Brian shook his head and turned off the record player. Another evening listening to old sound tracks and looking at yellow stained photos made his depression worse. He got up to close the curtains by the living room window in the small house he got in southwest of London after his divorce. The rain drops still tapping on the window panes killed his hope of looking at the stars yet again. Just as he was about to retire upstairs for another sleepless night of tossing and turning in bed, he heard the doorbell ring.

No one would knock on his doors anymore nowadays, especially not at this hour. Is it Roger? Brian pondered as he went to open the door. There he was, John, soaked from head to toe, trembling in the freezing rain like a leaf in the wind.

“Deaky!” Brian immediately dragged John inside and shut the door. “Why are you all soaked. You must be freezing, we got to get you dry.”

John’s arms were instantly around Brian’s neck, his torso pressed against the taller man’s chest. Brian felt the chillness on his skin as the icy rainwater soaked Brian’s shirt from John’s jacket. Brian’s long arms naturally wrapped around John’s waist.

“Deaky, you are shivering.” Brian rubbed small circles at John’s back in a futile attempt to get the man warm. “Come on, let’s get you changed, yeah?”

“I want to be with you.” John’s teeth chattered and speech was slurred. His voice was barely above a whisper, but Brian heard it, loud and clear.

Brian moved them apart a bit so he could look at the younger man’s green eyes covered in a mist of rain or tears. He wiped the rain from John’s face with his sleeve and cupped his cheek. “What did you say, Deaky?”

“I want to end this charade. I only want to be with you.”

Brian bit his lower lip so he could feel some pain to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. His mind went back to that moonlit night almost ten years ago, when two of them spent making love all night a small motel in Oxford. He leaned forward and smashed their lips together. The kiss was clumsy as both their lips were quivering too much, but Brian felt he needed it like the desert needed rain.

**

Brian drew a bath and put John’s cloth on the furnace in hope for them to dry faster. He went back to the bedroom. There John was, wrapped in his old bath robe, curled up in a ball on the carpet, looking incredibly small.

“Hey Deaky, let’s get you to the bath. It’ll warm you up.” Brian put his arm around the younger man.

John nodded, leaning on to Brian as he got up.

After settling John in the bath tub, Brian got up to leave but John wouldn’t let go of his hand. “Brian, stay with me?” His teeth still rattled and he was still shivering even in the scorching hot water. John almost begged.

“Of course, Deaky.” Brian smiled and stripped himself.

He sat in the tub behind John who immediately shuffled so his back was leaning against Brian’s chest, resting his head on Brian’s shoulder. Brian wrapped his arm around John’s torso. John is especially clingy today, not that Brian is complaining.

Brian kissed John’s temple. “Deaky, what happened? How did you come to the decision so fast?” He murmured.

“I had an adventure.” John chuckled lightly. “I saw what life would have been without you, and it was not worth living.”

Brian shuddered a bit at how close John’s words were to describe his thoughts in his own lonely sea of blues this evening. He raised his eyebrows, “did you fall asleep in a pub and had a dream?”

“You can say that.” John hummed.

“What about Ronnie? What about your children?” Brian didn’t want to ruin the moment, but he had to ask.

John sighed, “there is no easy way. I would have to tell her. She would be devastated of course and I would be forever indebted to her. As for Robert, Michael, Laura, Josh, Cameron and Luke, I will let them know I’m still their father. I won’t love them any less. Hopefully they will understand one day.” He looked up at Brian’s hazel eyes, “I just love you so much Brian. I can’t imagine what it would be without you. And I don’t think I can stomach the guilt whenever I face Ronnie and the kids anymore.”

Brian tightened his hold around John’s waist and showered kisses on his neck. “I love you too Deaky. You have no idea how happy you just made me.”

“Can you wash my hair then?” John shot him a pleading smile.

Brian laughed and reached up with his long arm to grab the shampoo, “as you wish Deaky.”

They stumbled their way from the shower to bed, never breaking the lip lock. John fell onto the bed first, Brian followed, falling on top of him. Brian nibbed his way down John’s neck to his collarbone to his chest, paying special attention to each of the nipples by lapping and biting on them causing the younger man to moan continuously.

“I miss you so much Deaky.” He continued his attack on John’s ribs, lower belly, and inside of his thighs. They had not been this intimate since they left Montreaux more than six months ago. Brian wanted to worship every inch of John’s body like a thirsty man finally able to get a sip of water, lingering on every sensitive spot he remembered until John was a whimpering mess.

Brian sat up on his knees, looked at the man breathless below him and smiled. Eyelids drooping down, green eyes dark with desire, lips swollen, and skin flushed, he had never seen anyone this beautiful. He leaned down to place a soft kiss on John’s forehead before reaching for the lube in the night stand.

John jumped slightly as Brian’s cool wet fingers prodded his entrance. “Are you okay Deaky?” Brian asked with concern, brow creased with concentration.

John nodded, “just cold.”

Brian warmed the lube with his fingers and other hand started stroking John’s hard leaking cock. He slowly inserted a finger into John’s hole causing him to whimper. Just looking at his lover wrathing below him Brian knew his weeping cock couldn’t last very long. But it’s been more than six months since they had done this Brian wanted to make sure John is stretched very well. He added fingers one by one and easily found the bundle of nerves what made John see stars.

As Brian was debating whether to add a fourth finger, John grabbed his hand. “Brian, I need you. Can’t last very long.” He choked out.

Brian nodded. He lifted John’s legs onto his shoulders and positioned his cock at the younger man’s entrance.

“Ready?” Brian asked softly.

John nodded. His eyes widened as he felt Brian enter him gradually.

“Fuck you are tight Deaky.” Brian let out a gasp.

“Brian,” John whimpered. Nothing could top the feeling of Brian inside of him, filling him.

“What’s wrong Deaky?” Brian was worried at John’s wince.

“Kiss me?” John choked.

Brian happily obeyed, sucking on the younger man’s lips. He found John’s hands gripping firmly on to the bedsheets and interlaced their fingers together while he started to thrust in and out. Brian was almost painfully slow, wanting to savor every moment, enjoying the beautiful sight of his lover below him, whimpering to every one of his thrusts.

They broke their lip lock as both of them were gasping for breath. John saw the reflection of himself in Brian’s hazel eyes, looking at him with such love as if he was the most precious thing in the world. John inhaled deeply Brian’s scent. He enjoyed every touch, every taste, every thrust that’s the man he loved. Brian glued their foreheads together, changed his angle hitting on to the special spot with every move, and started chanting John’s name like a prayer.

John couldn’t hold it anymore. His dick grinding between their torsos and Brian still thrusting in and out of him with slow, deliberate pace. The tension of last six month, their dear friend Freddie’s death, the emotional turmoil during the day that forced him to make the decision that will for sure change the rest of their lives. His cum spurted on Brian’s stomach, his head rolled back in ecstasy, and sentimental tears rolled down his cheeks.

Brian felt John’s ring of muscle tighten up on him. He fucked the younger man through orgasm until he spurted inside.

They lay there, plastered against each other in cum and sweat. John was still in another world until he heard Brian’s worried voice calling him.

“Deaky, what’s wrong? Did I hurt you?” Brian’s eyes were full of care, hand cupping his face and thumb gently rubbing tears away from his cheek.

Tears that didn’t seem to want to stop. John felt the pent-up emotions of the last couple of months rushed through him and he broke down. He buried his face in Brian’s chest and sobbed, ignoring the warm cum that’s leaking onto his thighs. Brian wrapped his arm around John, rubbed his back and whispered comforting words into the younger man’s ear.

Eventually, John’s tears dried up and he felt both physically and emotionally drained. His limbs felt heavy and he couldn’t keep his eyes open. He felt Brian cleaning him up with a wet towel, pulling him to his chest, and tucking both of them under the duvet.

The last thing he remembered was murmuring I love you to Brian and hearing Brian whispering good night Deaky, I love you too back.

Chapter Text

When John woke up the next morning, it did take him a couple of seconds to reorient himself with the unfamiliar surroundings. The drunkenness, seeing Freddie, the freezing rain, and coming to Brian’s house afterwards. He felt the guitar’s warm regular breath tickling his neck. Brian spooned him from behind. From the even breath, John judged the older man is still asleep. He carefully extracted himself from Brian’s hold and turned to face the other side and looked at his lover. Brian looked happy and peaceful in his sleep, probably the only sleep he has had in days.

John tucked some strands of messy curls behind Brian’s ear and ghosted his thumb across his eye lashes and cheek. John smiled. He always dreamt of waking up next to Brian like this every morning in the last 18 years and couldn’t even fathom a universe that this could possibly be a reality. Now it could be. John knew it was not a spur of moment decision he made last night. Seeing the future universes with Freddie, despite how unreal it sounded, still scared him to the core. He was as determined this morning as he was last night. John sighed. He could just leisurely lay here watching his lover sleep all day, but he had a long day ahead of him. He knew he had to get up.

John found his cloth all dry on top of the furnace. He got dressed and came back to the bedroom. Scribbling a note for Brian who was still sound asleep, John left after giving him a peck on the forehead.

The bassist felt so heavy as he got out of the taxi that he could barely lift his legs to walk to the door of his house. A sense of doom surrounded him. As he took a deep breathe and was about to open the door with his keys, a flustered Veronica rushed from inside. John looked at her quizzically.

“God you are finally home. I was just about to call your beeper. We got to go.” Veronica grabbed John’s arm and started walking toward her car.

“Where are we going Ronnie?” John followed, confused by the change in events.

“First day back to school after the winter break, I got a call that Laura had an accident on her way to school. Headmaster said she is fine, likely just some broken bones on her foot, and sent her to hospital. I need to see her to make sure.” A flurry of words came from Veronica in her agitated state.

The conversation John prepared minutes ago just before he entered the door was completely gone from his mind. All he could think about was his only daughter. He grabbed the car keys from Veronica’s trembling hands, “I will drive.”

John and Veronica rushed to the A&E as soon as they arrived to the hospital that Veronica had been told. Laura was there sitting on a stretcher looking rather brave.

“Laura!” Veronica rushed over as soon as she saw her daughter, “you scared us. Are you okay honey?” She grabbed the teenage girl in a tight hug.

“I’m fine Mum. They give me some good stuff. It doesn’t even hurt anymore.” Laura giggled. “Hi Dad.” She waved at John.

John hugged his daughter and kissed her blond hair. “What happened Laura?”

“I was catching up with Emma and Jennifer. Suddenly this car just came straight at us while honking slow though, we rolled our eyes but didn’t budge. She wouldn’t stop honking so we walked away just to make her stop. I slip on a black ice and fell, the car sled to close to me and hit my left foot. Now it’s broken and I can’t start on volleyball this term.” Laura pouted and make a grumpy face.

“Who drove the car?” Veronica asked.

“Amy, such a dweeb.” Laura stuck out her tongue.

The teacher that accompanied with Laura to the A&E spoke up. She is a middle aged woman with silver hair and pleasant features. “Amy is also a student at the school, ready to reach A levels. It was purely an accident, no malice intended. The lass is only 18 and she felt horrible about it. I know you two must be angry and scared to see Laura injured, but I hope we can resolve this without pressing charges.” Her voice was sincere but still got Veronica annoyed.

“Can we focus on our daughter before discussing this?” Veronica snapped, “I know it’s very important to you that no legal action is taken on the school, but if Laura doesn’t do well, we reserve the right to press charges.”

“Mum…” Laura pulled on Veronica’s sleeve, looking a little embarrassed.

John put his arm around Veronica’s shoulder and rubbed her arm gently. “We can talk about that after Ronnie.”

A young man who looked barely over 30 years of age came in through the curtain breaking this awkward moment. He shook hands with both John and Veronica.

“I see you must be Laura’s parents. We are getting ready to take Laura back for surgery.”

“Surgery?!” Veronica exclaimed. “We didn’t know about any surgery.”

“I’m sorry I should have made myself clear.” The young doctor apologized, “I’m Dr. Jones, one of the residents on the team taking care of your daughter. Some bones in her left foot sustained fracture and would need surgical repair. It would be a short procedure, involving pinning of the bones together. But to ensure her comfort, we would need general anesthesia meaning she would be completely asleep.”

“Oh my God!” Veronica squeezed Laura’s hand and gasped, “I didn’t know the fracture was this severe. My daughter never had surgery before!”

“I ensure you ma’am this is a routine procedure and we would take excellent care of her. She is in good hands.” Dr. Jones assured her.

John patted Veronica’s shoulder, “it’s okay Ronnie. The doctors know what’s the best for Laura. Like he said, it would be a short procedure.”

Veronica nodded but still edged closer to her daughter. To avoid further awkward moments, the teacher that accompanied Laura to the hospital found an excuse to leave. John still politely thanked her for taking care of Laura before they arrived. Preparing Laura for surgery still took way longer than they were initially told that involved endless paper works and signatures. After Laura was being wheeled to the operating theater and Veronica waved with teary eyes, John glanced at his watch and it was well past two o’clock. He heard his stomach growl and realized that he had not eaten anything yet today.

“Ronnie, you must be starving too. Now that Laura is in surgery, do you want to go to cafeteria and get something to eat?” John turned to his wife.

Veronica turned to John and gave him an odd look, “where were you last night John? Why didn’t you come home?”

John was taken aback. Honestly, his mind had not dwelled on Brian, the decision he made previous night, and the speech he prepared on his way back home this morning since he heard from Veronica that his daughter had an accident. He bit his lip. This was not a good time to talk about it with Ronnie, John decided. Not when she is still emotional from Laura’s surgery.

“I was at Brian’s, had a couple of drinks, fell asleep on his sofa. It was late and weather was bad, so I just stayed over at his guest room.” John mumbled, “sorry I didn’t call. It was late when I woke up and I didn’t want to wake up you and the kids.”

“Sure,” Veronica replied in a peculiar tone, but she didn’t push John further.

They sat in the cafeteria in silence. John sipped some lukewarm Earl Grey tea and took a bite of the stale toast. He could not remember the last time he was alone with Veronica without any of the kids around. Remorse filled his heart whenever he faced his wife. And since when did he and Ronnie have absolutely nothing to talk about. John sighed. This was what inevitability felt like, but it didn’t make him feel any less mortified.

The surgery was short just like doctor promised. They were led back to the recovery unit to see Laura in just little more than an hour. Still groggy from the anesthetic, she was resting peacefully on the stretcher.

“Laura honey,” Veronica tucked a strand of Laura’s blond hair behind her ear, “does it hurt?”

Laura shook her head, “they injected some numbing medicine behind my knee while I was asleep. Now my whole foot feels numb.”

The young doctor they met earlier was still at her bedside and smiled, “the numbing medication will wear off sometime in the middle of the night. So please remember to take some pain pills before you sleep tonight. We will keep you overnight but you should be free to go home tomorrow morning.” He shook hands with Veronica and John again. “Everything went perfectly, nothing to worry. Laura just have to use crutches for six weeks.” Before he left though, he did not forget to ask for an autograph from John.

Veronica glanced at the clock on the wall and groaned, “Blimey, it’s almost 5 o’clock. The boys are home from school. I got to go back and start making them supper.”

“Let me go back.” John offered, “how about you stay here with Laura tonight. It will be easier for you to take care of her. I will go back to look after the boys.”

Veronica looked at John skeptically, “you think you can prepare them supper?”

John chuckled, “relax Ronnie. I know how to use the phone to order pizza or sandwiches at least.”

Veronica sighed, obviously exhausted from the day’s unexpected events. “I guess one night doesn’t matter. It’s probably better this way.”

John gave Laura a peck on top of her hair. “Be good for Mum. I will bring pack a night bag for you two and bring it after dinner. Maybe I will take your brothers to come visit you too.”

Laura made a face, “please don’t Dad. I finally have a night free from them. Let me have some peace.”

When John arrived home, he found all his five sons waiting for him. John updated them on Laura’s condition. Boys were boys, after being assured that their sister was fine, they dispersed to mind their previous activities. John dug out the yellow pages from the bottom of the phone stand and started pondering what to order for supper.

When the phone rang, John wasn’t even quick enough to answer it despite sitting right by the phone. Must be Robert waiting for his girlfriend to call him, John thought.

“Dad.” John heard his oldest son’s voice from upstairs, “it’s for you. It’s Uncle Brian.”

John cringed a bit. He kicked himself for not calling Brian earlier and update him on the day’s events. He picked up the phone from living room and waited to hear the click that Robert had hang up.

“Deaky?” Brian asked in an uncertain voice, “are you there?”

“Hi Brian.” John quickly replied, trying to untwist the phone cord and juggle the heavy phone book with his hands.

“I missed you this morning. I was hoping I would wake up with you still in my arms.” Brian sounded disappointed.

“Sorry Brian. You were sleeping so peacefully. I didn’t want to wake you up. You probably hadn’t slept like that for a while.”

“You are right Deaky. I hadn’t slept like that for weeks, ever since Freddie passed. And I slept well last night because you were here. Because of what you said to me.” Brian said solemnly.

John was silent for a moment. The previous night of passion was still fresh in his mind. He could still smell Brian’s scent, feel his touch. Brian’s depressed voice made his heart sunk and he wanted to rush over to comfort the man, but responsibilities also weighed heavy on his shoulders.

Likely unsettled by John’s silence, Brian asked hesitantly. “Did you change your mind about what you said last night Deaky?”

“No!” John blurted out while violently shaking his head, dropping the phone book on the floor. He got up and walked around to make sure he was alone in the downstairs living room and then whispered to the phone, “I meant every word I said last night Brian. I was planning to talk to Ronnie today while the kids are at school, but Laura had an accident…”

“Gosh, is she okay?” Brian interrupted in a worried tone.

“Yeah, it’s a minor accident on her foot.” John let out a deep breath. “But she still had to have surgery to fix it. With all that going on I didn’t think it would be a good time to discuss this with her. But Laura is okay now and should be able to come home tomorrow.”

“Thank God.” Brian murmured, “I’m sorry Deaky. I should’ve been more understanding.”

“I’m sorry too Brian. I should’ve called you earlier.” John looked around again and lowered his voice. “I have made up my mind Brian. I love you and I want to be with you, only you. I will talk to Ronnie after Laura gets better and this is all settled.”

“Okay Deaky. I am sorry about Laura. I hope she feels better soon. Love you.” With that Brian hang up before John had a chance to say bye.

John put the phone back on the stand. He slumped on the sofa and rubbed his temples before picking up the phone book again.

Chapter Text

Insecurity was a feeling that Brian really detested. Yet that was the word of the week for him. It’s been a whole week since the night John came to him in the freezing rain and promised him a future together. And that was also the last time he had seen his lover.
He knew he should be more patient and give John more time. But this insecurity was really a hard feeling to stomach, causing him wanting to crawl out of his skin and slowly eating him alive. Brian was beginning to think maybe he dreamt the whole thing. It was not unfathomable since sometimes he felt he had a lot of trouble telling reality from imagination. That night of passion played in Brian’s mind over and over again. Their fingers interlaced together, him buried deep inside of John, nibbling on his lips. It had to be real. Brian reminded himself.
He thought about calling John again, but couldn’t deal with making small talks with Veronica if she was to pick up the phone. He tried keeping himself busy to maintain some degree of sanity, reading astrophysics journals, going through and tidying old records, even writing down some ideas of new songs that come up once in a while, and persevering in trying to reconnect with his children. There is some hope that he may be able to at least see his youngest daughter Emily soon.
But at the end of the day, his mind was still infested with John, what would happen next in their 18-year relationship, and the old days when Freddie was still alive. It was a good thing he was meeting Roger for luncheon today, at least something to keep his mind busy.
Brian picked a restaurant near Kensington market thinking it would be nice to go back to their old neighborhoods. Roger was late, as usual. As soon as he arrived, Roger ordered beer and started complaining about his messy affairs.
“It was really a stupid idea marrying Dominique when our relationship had really ended just for Felix and Rory.” Roger went on, “this divorce had generated more paperwork than I could ever imagine. I think I spent enough money to help the lawyer to put all his children through Uni in America.”
“Well we all make dumb decisions Rog. Some more than others.” Brian couldn’t help his sarcastic comment.
Roger stuck his tongue at Brian. Then asked in a softer tone, “how are you holding up. You look like shit.”
“Still alive.” Brian sighed, “but just barely. Everyday life feels like a trance.”
“I know what you mean.” Roger took a gulp of his beer. “You know Bri, I was 300 feet away when I got the call from Peter saying don’t bother coming, he’s gone. 300 feet! I didn’t even get to see him for the last time. I didn’t get to say goodbye.” The drummer’s voice was shaky.
Brian patted Roger’s arm, “you did Roger, at his funeral. Freddie knows.”
Roger rubbed his eyes and face with the palm of his hands and wrinkled his nose. “I don’t know what we are going to do without him. He can’t just be gone! What about the stuff left over in the studio? We have to tidy them up and put them out in an album. God, I don’t know if I could listen to his voice in the studio without breaking down like a little girl.”
“We will. Eventually.” Brian replied, “no one could possibly face those recordings now. Let’s wait until it doesn’t hurt this much. Time will heal.”
“I hope so.” Roger sounded tired, “how is Deaky by the way. I haven’t heard a peep from him. Haven’t seen him since Freddie’s funeral.”
Brian stared at his hands laying on the table, contemplating whether to tell Roger what had been going on. Their food arrived breaking up this silent moment.
“Brian?” The guitarist glanced up as he was playing with the pasta on his plate with his fork, Roger looked concerned. “What’s going on with Deaky?”
Brian sighed. Fuck this, he had to talk to someone. And Roger was his best mate for more than twenty years. “We met a week ago, me and Deaky. We talked and I kind of forced him to make a decision, me or his wife and children.”
“What?!” Roger exclaimed, dropping his fork on the table. Good thing they were in a private dining room or that would definitely have draw attention to them. “Who gave you that dumb idea?”
“Fred.” Brian murmured quietly and Roger was dumbfounded.
Brian exhaled. “The last time I saw Fred, he asked me. If I didn’t have all the time in the world, would I regret never being together with Deaky because I didn’t have the courage to ask. I thought about it, and I would. So I decided to follow Freddie’s advice and asked.”
Roger shook his head. “I don’t know Bri. If it was anyone else, I would say go for it. But Deaky? So responsible and levelheaded. The sun would rise from the west before he would leave his family. But then again, you two have dragged this on for too long. Did he give you an answer?”
“He did.”
“What did he say?” Roger asked curiously, “can’t leave Ronnie and kids?”
“He said he would, if that’s what it took to be with me.” Brian replied quietly.
“Holy shit!” Roger gasped, covering his mouth with his hands, “Deaky said that?”
Brian nodded, “he came by that night after I asked him in the afternoon. He told me, stayed the night, and left the next morning.”
“And then?” Roger raised his eyebrows.
“Then nothing. That was the last time I saw him, a week ago.” Brian said gloomily. “The following day I called his house, he told me Laura had an accident ended up needing surgery for her foot but should be okay to go home the next day. I had not heard from him since then.”
“He could just be too busy with everything at home, Laura being injured and to sort out everything. Or he could have just changed his mind.” Roger regretted as soon as he made the joke because the guitarist just looked so depressed close to suicidal. “Brian, I was joking. Just give the man some time to sort out all the affairs.”
Brian shook his head, “no you are right. I’m beginning to think I dreamt the whole thing and he never showed up that night at all or never said those things. I bet it’s the booze. He smelt like alcohol but didn’t seem drunk.”
Roger stared at his food. He suddenly lost all his appetite. This is it, the end of Queen. He thought. Freddie is dead. Brian and Deaky break up.
***
When John came home from his morning walk, he found the house quiet, which had been unusual for the past week. Laura had been home from school nursing her injured foot and as most mothers have with teenage daughters, there was a great deal of friction between Veronica and the girl. And John hated being caught in the middle.
The past week had not been easy for John. As he contemplated his speech with Veronica regarding their futures, he also considered how feasible it is for him to leave them. Finances would not be an issue thankfully. He had more money than what he knew what to do with and would be very happy to continue providing for Veronica and the kids. But he wondered if they would ever forgive him for what kind of a jerk he had been to their mother. Would they even ever talk to him again. Likely not for a long time. John thought depressingly. There were spurs of moments he wondered if he should just take the easy way out and forget about the whole thing, to continue live his life in a lie just like he had for the last eighteen years. Then he was always reminded by the bleak future universe he saw with his dear dead friend.
John exhaled deeply and curled his hands in fists. He knew he had to do it. It’s time to face his real self and he was done with lies. Laura went back to school and Veronica was sitting at the kitchen table leisurely looking over a magazine. This is good a time as any.
“Ronnie, can we talk about something?” John asked carefully as he pulled the chair to sit across from his wife.
Veronica looked up from her magazine expectantly. John took off his jacket and folded his hands on the table. He took a deep breath and began, “I want to tell you something about myself. I think I am…Wow, this is hard.” He chuckled nervously and looked at Veronica in the eye, “I think I am bisexual.”
“There is someone else. Another man actually. I have been with for a long time. I love you and the kids Ronnie and that’s why I am telling you the truth. I don’t think I can continue lying anymore.”
John watched Veronica for any sign of shock, fury, or wrath. But nothing. All he could see in her soft brown eyes was anguish.
“It’s Brian isn’t it.” Veronica said in an eerily calm voice.
John nodded. He wished he had some tea with him because his mouth is so dry, he could barely make a sound. “You knew?” He coughed out.
Veronica shook her head and closed her eyes, “how stupid do you think I am John? All those nights you said you guys spent in the recording studio and I saw picture of Roger drunk at a party somewhere on the tabloid. All those dinner parties we had with Brian and Chrissie when you guys exchange looks that you thought were oh so subtle. All those hickeys and bites that I found on you that I am sure I did not leave. Those times we were together in bed, as rare as it had been ever since Luke was born, you stare far into space and I knew you were thinking of someone else. And it might be a news to you John. Chrissie and I do talk to each other.”
Drowned by the overwhelming guilt, all John could mutter was “I’m sorry.”
“Just tell me John, what did I do wrong?” Veronica’s voice was becoming shaky as she began to sob, “ever since I married you, I tried to be a good wife and mother. I supported no matter what choices you made. You had to tour, to make music. No problem. I look care of the kids so you had nothing to worry about. I made sure you were comfortable at home. I don’t know what else I could have done to prevented this. I almost wish it was another woman. At least I can compete. But this?
John quickly grabbed her hand and said, “no Ronnie. It’s all my fault. You had been great, perfect actually. And I for sure don’t deserve you. I had been a jerk, a twat, a failure. I deserve all the names under the sun.”
Veronica shrugged his hands off, covered her face with her palms and sobbed quietly. John wanted to comfort her but didn’t think his touch would have been welcomed. He quietly got up to pour two glasses of water, one for Veronica and one for himself, and laid a box of tissue by her side.
After her sobs subsided, now eyes swollen, voice hoarse and on top of that, Veronica felt she had a killer headache. She dried her eyes and asked, “how long this been going on?”
“Too long.” John bit his lip, “eighteen years actually.”
“Eighteen years?!” Veronica gasped and looked up in pure shock, “we hadn’t even been married for eighteen years. You are saying it started before we were even married?!”
John nodded, not knowing what to say.
“Why did you marry me then, when you knew you are fag.” Veronica shouted, almost spitefully.
John knew he deserved it, but it still hurt like a dagger in his heart. “I wasn’t sure about myself. It was a mistake. I’m sorry Ronnie. I…”
Veronica replied with a shaky sigh and facepalm, “I hear that my husband of seventeen years is queer and cheating on me with another man. And all you could say is it was a mistake. Our marriage was a mistake. Six children were all mistakes! How do you expect me to respond to that John?!” Her voice was filled with emotions and barely above a whisper.
John wanted to pat her shoulder but decided against it. “I’m not expecting you to ever forgive me Ronnie. I will leave, set you free from this marriage. This house, everything belongs to you. You and the kids will be provided for, don’t ever worry about money. The kids.” John exhaled, “I will tell them the truth, that it’s all my fault. I hope one day they can have the heart to forgive me. I would like to be involved in their lives, like a father I always will be. If you are okay with it, of course.” John stuttered at the end.
Veronica looked at her husband fiercely, as if willing all her strength in her brown eyes. The air was so thick that John found it hard to breath.
“John, have you considered just continuing on? You are a rather famous person and this would be all over the tabloids. Have you thought what effect that would have on your career, on me, on the kids? How would they face everyone at school? How would I face my friends, my parents?” She closed her eyes slowly and there was almost a hint of plead in her voice, “it’s been going on for long enough and not going to stop. You have proven that. I would tolerate it as long as you keep it away home and you care for the kids. Just for the kids’ sake.”
John frowned. He had considered that before but didn’t think Veronica would agree that it. As the images of the future universes he saw with Freddie a week ago floated in his mind again, John shook his head firmly. “No Ronnie, that’s not fair for you. And for the kids, I want them to know the truth about their father, however ugly it may be.”
It was actually the first time since this tense conversation started that John actually saw fury in Veronica’s usual soft brown eyes. She gritted her teeth, “fine! Then I want you to leave now and never come back!”
“I think I should wait until the kids come home and tell them the truth.” John opposed.
“You will do no such a thing.” Veronica snapped. “I will tell them their father is gone when they come home. You are leaving this moment and never to see them again. I will call the Coppers if you don’t leave!” She even grabbed the phone off the hook on the wall and threatened to dial.
John put up his hands, “I hate it has to come to this Ronnie. I will go if that’s what you wish. Please take care of yourself, Robbie, Michael, Laura, Josh, Cameron, and Luke. If you need any help for anything in the future. I’m there.”
***
After parking his car, Brian dragged his feet as if they were filled with lead and shuffled toward his house. After lunch with Roger, he is now even more convinced that John had changed his mind. That is why he was a little confused when he saw John’s Volvo parked in front his house. When he turned around, there he was, sitting on the steps of the porch with a forlorn look on his face, a small knapsack by his side and a bass guitar hanging on his back.
“Deaky!” Brian rushed forward, totally flustered, “you are here!” He could have kicked himself. Days and nights dreaming this moment, now that’s all he could manage.
John stood up and gave him a sad smile, “I have no where else to go Bri. Will you take me in?”
Brian picked up the knapsack and grabbed John’s hand leading him toward the door. As soon as they were inside, he had John’s arms around him and was squeezing the daylight out of the younger man.
“God Deaky. I thought you changed your mind on me.” Brian choked.
John buried his face in the crook of Brian’s neck and rubbed small circles on his back. “Never. I love you Brian and I’m never changing my mind.”
“I love you too Deaky, so much.” Brian was still dazed from the pleasant surprise.
“I have burnt all my bridges and only have you left Brian. You can’t get rid of me even if you wanted.” John murmured, warm breath tickling his neck.
Brian let go of the younger man a bit and touched their foreheads together before kissing his lips softly. He knew that days ahead were still long and hard, full of obstacles. But he did have all he needed right here with him.

Chapter Text

“Deaky, look at this.” Brian appeared in front of him holding an art piece in the home décor section. It was a painting of an old beggar sitting by the street. “Do you think it would look good on the wall by the dining table?”

John shook his and replied with a facepalm. “No Brian. It’s fuckin depressing and not to mention hideous. I will lose all my appetite.”

“It’s art and you don’t understand.” Brian said grumpily, “but fine, you are skinny enough as it is. Can’t have you lose more appetite. I will try something else.” The guitarist disappears behind the shelves.

It had been about a week and half since he came to Brian’s door and pretty much moved in. Albeit they had lived together as flat mates for a short period of time before they both got married, but John was still surprised at how easily their domestic lives just blended together. Waking up in each other’s arms in the morning was one of the most blissful feeling in life, something John had yearned for years and now finally became a reality.

John did miss his children terribly. Does Laura’s foot still hurt. Did Cameron’s grades improve. Did Robbie finally pick a major for Uni. Brian sees that and tries in many ways to cheer John up and keep his mind off thinking about that. Sometimes it’s painfully obvious but John still felt warm at heart. Like suggesting they go shopping today. John came with just couple changes of cloth and his favorite bass guitar. He needed essentials from razors to boxers. Brian also proposed to change his minimalist way of life since his divorce and they should decorate the house together, to change the house into a home for both of them. It was sweet really, until they realize how much they both detested shopping.

John hummed some bass tune to himself as he wondered down the aisle of home décor section. His heart skipped a beat when he heard the familiar boyish voice that belonged to his youngest son. He turned around and there Luke was, down the aisle, along with his mother and brother Cameron.

For a good half of a minute John froze on the ground. He did not know what to do. He wanted to go up to them but scared his presence would not be welcome.

“Dad!” Cameron and Luke’s voices took John out of his jumbled thoughts. The boys were running toward him. Without thinking too much, John squatted down and held his arms open ready to catch them in a hug. But before they got far, Veronica grabbed their arms and pulled them back.

“He’s not your father!” She snapped at them while throwing John the iciest glare she could manage before dragging the boys toward the other direction, as far away from John and as quickly as possible.

John still squatted down, watched them disappear around the corner while he still could hear Cameron wailing to his mother. As he stood up, he felt a bit dizzy so he closed his eyes and leaned against the shelves.

“Deaky?” John opened his eyes and saw Brian in front him with a concerned look on his face, obviously observed the scene just before. John offered him a weak smile.

“Are you okay?” Brian asked while rubbing John’s arm.

John nodded and gave him a weak smile. “Brian, I think we should start head back. It’s almost time for your interview anyway.”

Brian nodded. “Sure, let’s go.” He put an arm around the younger man’s shoulder and lead them toward the exit.

John was even quieter than usual on the drive home. He sat on the passenger seat with a desolate look in his green eyes while staring at the road ahead. When Brian stopped at a red light, he grabbed John’s hand and put it on the stick and covered with his.

“Deaky, I don’t have to go to this TV interview. Let’s just go home.” Brian stroked the back of John’s hand.

Brian’s calloused fingers somehow soothed John’s heart a bit, he tried to give his lover a bright grin, but he knew it still come out to be a feeble attempt. “No Brian. The program set up this with you weeks ago. It would be disrespectful to not show last minute. Don’t worry about me, I’m fine. It’s something I expected after… you know.”

The guitarist sighed, “but it still hurts like hell, I know.” Been there, done that.

John leaned his head on Brian’s shoulder as Brian started the car after light turned green. “I have faith that Ronnie will come around. She is a reasonable person with a kind heart. But for now, just having you with me is enough.”

Without taking eyes off the road, Brian kissed John’s velvety hair.

Brian dropped John off at home before continuing to the TV studio for his interview. John went inside after waving Brian goodbye. Still feeling dejected by not being able to interact with his sons in the mall, he poured himself a dry gin and listened to some old records. He didn’t know what he was thinking because listening to Freddie’s voice did not help with the situation, just brought him to tears. Turning off the record player, John let out a deep sigh and wiped his eyes dry. He decided to keep his mind off things by putting away the little stuff they did ending up buying from their shopping trip.

As he was organizing the bathroom cabinet to put away his razors, 2 small bottles of pills and a crumbled-up note paper stuck deep in the shelf caught his attention. He stretched his hand to reach down and grabbed the bottles. The labels were smeared from wetness, but John could make out the pills were prescribed to Freddie Mercury before his death. It was a bottle of pain medication and a bottle of sedative for sleeping. Why would Brian have Freddie’s left-over pills. John had an uneasy feeling about the suspicion he came up with. Curiously, he reached to grabbed the crumbled-up note paper and straightened it out. A razor blade still in its wrapper that was buried in the note paper fell out onto the floor. John’s heart sunk when he saw Brian’s writing on the note paper and the razor blade falling out, but he was absolutely mortified when he read what the note actually said.

Freddie, I know you would be disappointed at me, but I really don’t know how long I could go on anymore. I thought the divorce and kids not talking to me were bad enough. But it’s nothing compared to what I went through the past year. Both my father and you passing away in such a short period of time. I thought the world was ending when Chrissie left me taking Jimmy, Louisa, and Emily with her. Nowadays it hurts to just inhale to stay alive. When I look at our old days, they were always filled with playing guitar and music. We had a great time and a lot of fun. The guitar had given me so much. Now with you and my father both gone, I don’t know if I can ever play the guitar again without this insufferable pain.

I shouldn’t complain because I had a wonderful life considering what an unfaithful cheat I had been. I deserve every single grief I get from Chrissie and my children they way I treated them over the years. In reality, it probably is a better thing for me to stay out of their lives. Who would want a father who was a cheating scoundrel? Even for Deaky, whom I still love to death, but I am starting to think it would be better for him if I was forever gone. He would finally be able to have a normal life with his family. It would be painful for the short term but in the long run, it would be good for him. I think I will take your advice and ask him though Fred. It would be one in a million chance he would say yes, but at least that finally put a closure to our ridiculous relationship.

I will miss Roger terribly. Losing his 2 best friends in a short period of time is difficult to swallow. But he has his children, his family, and his carefree personality, he will pull through. When I was helping Peter and Jim organizing your stuff, I subconsciously hid two bottles of your leftover pills. I know it’s a coward thing to do, but I was never as strong as you guys thought. When I think about the past, I can’t help but feeling all the best days are behind me. When I look into the future, the depressing bleakness makes it arduous for me to breath. It is a first day of New Years and I have no desire to carry on forward. I will go talk to Deaky tomorrow or the day after, likely the one last time. Maybe I will join you soon my dear friend, save a spot for me on the table.

                                                                                                                                                       Brian

The crumble water stained piece of paper dropped on the floor from John’s trembling hands, all the muscle tone from his legs are gone and he fell onto the cold bathroom tiles. He choked out a suppressed sob, but couldn’t stop the tears streaming down his cheeks. John hugged his knees to his chest and started crying like a baby on the bathroom floor. He was mad at himself for not sensing how bad Brian’s depressions actually were, to a point he thought of ending his own life. John thought about how agonizing it is now not being able to see his children, but at least he had Brian with him, comforting and loving him all hours of the day. But Brian had to endure all this alone for years.

If it wasn’t for the strange forces in the cosmos that allowed him to see the future universes with Freddie, John was pretty sure he had no courage to leave Veronica and his kids for a life with Brian. He shuddered at the thought of how close he was to losing the man he loved. John had no idea what he would have done if Brian actually carried out his thoughts in the letter.

As if all the energy were drained from his body, John sat on the bathroom tiles for a long time, even after all the tear were dry from his eyes. His mind was in a dark place, until he heard the front door click open.

Brian was concerned about John the whole afternoon causing him not being able to focus on the questions during the interview. The TV host was understanding when he had to cut the interview short. It was already getting dark as he was leaving the studio. When Brian returned home and all he saw was darkness, he had a sunken feeling in his heart and horrible imagines in his head.

“Deaky? Are you home?” Brian called as he rushed inside. He turned on the lights and felt his heart racing as he checked every room of the first floor with no sign of the bassist. He relaxed a bit when he ran upstairs and saw a faint light from the bathroom. The relief was short lived however, when he saw John’s state, curled up in a ball on the cold damp bath tiles, tear stains on his cheeks which had lost all the color, shivering uncontrollably, while toying with a sharp razor blade in his hand.

“Deaky? What’s wrong?” Brian asked softly as he knelt down beside John, almost afraid to touch the younger man in such a fragile state.

John responded to his voice, looked at him with those sad, swollen green eyes. He picked up a piece of crumbled paper from the floor and brought in front of Brian. “Did you write this Bri?”

Brian sunk to the floor as he immediately recognized the piece of paper along with the two bottle of pills that were lying on the counter top. He wrote that letter on New Year’s Day when his mind was in a very dark place. The wrath of hopelessness was eating him alive. Brian thought he threw it out but guess he forgot with everything that had happened in the last couple of weeks. He quickly grabbed the piece of paper, the razor blade from John, dumped them in the trash can along with the two bottles of left-over pills.

“Don’t worry about that. I was a bit drunk when I wrote it.” Brian chuckled nervously.

“Did you mean it Brian?” John asked quietly with a hoarse voice. “Were you actually thinking of ending your own life?”

Brian was silent. He didn’t know how to respond. The fact is, he did, on multiple occasions.

“Did you think about your children? About Roger? About me? How would we feel if you did kill yourself?” John turned to him, looking at him with those pleading eyes full of sorrow that Brian couldn’t help but pull the younger man into a hug.

“I guess you did. You even mentioned in the note, that your leaving would be better for us.” John sobbed, “how can you possibly think that?”

Brian carded his fingers through John’s hair, “I was at a very dark space. I thought without me, you would be able to just focus on being with your family, live a normal, happy life.”

“Brian, would you be happy if I died? For whatever reason.” John asked solemnly, gripping onto Brian’s shirt as if his life depended on it.

“Of course not Deaky! I don’t know what I would do if you were gone.” Brian felt all the oxygen just left his lungs.

“Then by what logic would you think I would be happy if you killed yourself?” John cried, his body still trembling.

Brian had no response but continuing to rub circles on the bassist’s back while the younger man went through another fit of choking sobs in his arms. “I’m sorry.” He murmured. “I’m sorry Deaky.”

“Brian, can you promise me two things?” John asked when he found his voice again. “Can you promise me never to think that way again? Whenever you have depressing thoughts like that, just know I would follow suit if anything happened to you.”

“Deaky, I won’t let anything happen to you.” Brian replied firmly.

“Then you have to keep yourself safe and well.” John reasoned.

Brian nodded. “I will try. What’s the other thing?”

“That you will see a therapist.” John lifted his head off Brian’s shoulder and looked at the guitarist in the eye, “you need professional help Brian, please even if it’s for my sake.”

Brian sighed. No matter how much he didn’t want to admit, he knew John’s words were true.

Chapter Text

The press got a wind of John’s divorce just as they were capable of getting hold of everyone’s dirty secrets. The British media always had the ability to make mountains out of molehills, so they had a field day with this report. Especially when some sneaky reporter got a smudgy picture of John exiting Brian’s house, it was all over the tabloids. The stories were ugly about how Brian and John were both cheating on their wives. Some reports that the house was actually a brothel in disguise. Some reports they both had mistresses living in that house. Some reports they were both homosexuals just like the dead singer Freddie. Some stories were so ridiculous that they couldn’t even fathom how someone could possibly think of writing it in black ink on white paper. These rumors got them a lot of attention and was actually beneficial for promoting Freddie’s tribute concert. But after the successful concert was over, it became nothing but a nuisance.

One thing that was common to Freddie’s situation was how Brian and John became imprisoned in their own home. For weeks there were reporters camped right outside the house making it extremely difficult to come in and out of the front door. Roger learnt it the hard way when he made a visit to his friends. The drummer was immediately caught by one of the reporters.

“Mr. Taylor, what do you think about the bass player Mr. Deacon’s divorce from his seventeen-year marriage?”

“I think that is his business, not mine, and definitely none of yours.”

“Is it true that he was cheating on his wife?”

“I don’t believe so, but again, it’s none of your business.”

“Is it true that Mr. Deacon is gay just like Freddie and is shagging the guitarist Mr. May? Do they have AIDS as well?”

Good thing at this point, Roger is already at the front door.

“Geez, how the hell do you two live in this condition?” Roger complained as soon as he ducked in the door.

“By not leaving the house.” Brian responded drily. “Last time we were outside was the tribute concert for Freddie.”

“How do you get anything done then?”

John led the blond drummer to a blond young man in his early thirties who was organizing the keys handing by the hallway leading to the living room. “Meet Kyle, our live-in personal assistant that Miami introduced to us. He has been a great help.”

Roger shook hands with Kyle but still rolled his eyes, “I can’t believe this. It would drive me mad.”

John exchanged a helpless glance with Brian and shrugged his shoulders, “what can we do? Good thing the press never had very long attention span. It’s already much less people than a week ago. Hopefully they will completely lose interest soon.”

“You should really call the police and get rid of them. This is definitely a violation of privacy rights.” Roger cursed.

“What good would that do.” Brian sighed, “just creates even more commotion and give them more things to write about.”

“How about just telling them the truth about you two.” Roger took a sip of the tea John handed to him. “Why does it matter anyway.”

“I don’t think we are ready.” John shuffled his feet uneasily, “at least I don’t think I’m ready yet.”

Brian walked over and squeezed John’s hand, nodding in understanding.

****

1993

One good thing about the press is that their attention span is so short. Almost as quickly as it started, the fervor about John’s divorce as well as his secret relationship with Brian had died. With almost zero musical productivity since Freddie’s death and avoidance of the spotlight as much as possible since the tribute concert, the public almost forgot the existence of the remaining members of Queen.

A thing that did nag Brian at the back of his mind was Kyle, the PA that stayed with them during the two months surrounding the tribute concert they were practically imprisoned in their own house. He was a great help, both John and himself liked the young man a lot. But as far as he remembered, before Kyle left, he did not return his set of keys to the house and yard.

Brian even called Miami to inquire about it, who had been their manager for so long and practically became a member of the Queen family. “Miami, this Kyle lad. Where did you find him?”

“He’s my sister in law’s second cousin once removed or something to that effect.” Miami replied over the phone. Hearing the slight concern in Brian’s voice, he asked, “what’s wrong? Did he do something bad?”

“No, no, he was very good, John and I liked him a lot.” Brian cleared his throat, “it’s just he forgot to return his set of keys for the house before he left. I have been trying to contact him for weeks with no success.”

Miami rolled his eyes. He knew Brian could be such a worry-wart sometimes. “I know he’s in Germany for another job. I can try to help you call him, but no promises. If you are really worried, Brian, I suggest you change the locks to your house. It’s the safest that way.”

“I know I’m probably overthinking this. But you can never be too safe.” Brian sighed. Honestly, Brian thought to himself, if he was in the house alone like before, he could care less. But he couldn’t stand if anything happened to John because of his carelessness.

Brian and John enjoyed the simple domesticity of being nobody. They read, watched movies. John worked on little projects building electronic devices that he always enjoyed doing. They wrote some music, even played instruments on good days that wasn’t so painful. The main venture for both of them though, is to reconnect with their children.

Brian was more successful in that front. After years of perseverance, he was finally able to be back in Jimmy, Louisa, and Emily’s lives. Father of six, John was great with children. He always wished he had more girls. Very quickly, Louisa and Emily loved their Uncle John. Especially Emily, the six-year-old girl saw John as her best friend. Being the oldest, Jimmy took the longest to crack but eventually also warmed up to the bassist.

When Brian turned 46, all three of his children came and celebrated the birthday with their father for the first time in five years. Brian was over the moon, especially when his son gave him the best birthday gift.

“Dad?” Jimmy came to the kitchen to help Brian cleaning up trash when the party was over and most guests have left.

“Yeah?” Brian looked up from the sink.

The fifteen-year-old boy gave him a guilty look, “I’m glad we are okay now. I use to really hate you and said horrible things. I’m sorry. But I am very happy that you are back in my life.”

Brian gave his son the warmest smile, “thank you Jimmy, that means a lot to me. I made many mistakes in the past and will be forever indebted to your mother. But I will always be yours, Louisa’s and Emily’s father as long as you will have me.”

Jimmy smiled sheepishly, “I would like that, very much. Happy birthday Dad.”

Brian immediately dried his hands and pulled the boy into a tight hug. “Thank you, son.”

John saw this scene that made his heart swell from outside the window. It had been bittersweet for him to have Brian’s children visiting more and more often recently. He ecstatic for Brian being so happy knowing his lover held this pain inside for years. But he couldn’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy when he counted the days since the last time he had seen or talked to his own children.

“Uncle John?” Emily tugged the hem of John’s shirt, “why do you look so sad?”

John smiled at the girl’s childish voice. He bent down and picked her up. “I’m not sad, Emily. Tell me, did the princess have fun today?”

Emily nodded happily, “so much food, and it’s so nice to see Rory again. I had been begging Uncle Roger about it for weeks.”

“Your Uncle Roger’s memory is not what it used to be.” John teased.

Emily giggled, then asked, “can we go play with the swing, Uncle John?”

“Sure thing,” John started walking toward the swings while carrying Emily.

The girl wrapped her small arms around John’s neck, “Uncle John, I heard Daddy say you have many kids too. Do you think I can meet them sometimes?”

John felt a pang in his heart but kept on walking. “I hope soon Emily. I’m sure they will love you.”

Chapter Text

1994

“Deaky, have you seen my black shirt? The one with the stars?” John quickly shoved the box inside the door of the closet and closed the door as he heard Brian’s approaching footsteps.

“Deaky? What are you hiding?” Brian asked curiously as John shut the door a little too fast.

“I’m not hiding anything Brian. What makes you think that?” John gave the guitarist a quick smile.

Brian raised his eyebrows but decided not to push it as he had other things occupying his mind. “Do you know where my black shirt with the stars is?”

“It’s at the dry-cleaners Brian. Just wear something else, you will be late for your meeting.” John suggested.

“I guess.” Brian said grumpily. He pulled the bassist in for a quick snog, “remember we are going to Miami’s for dinner tonight.”

After John heard the front door shut indicating Brian had left, he let out a relieved breath. Turning back to open the door, John reorganized the boxes that he hid in this locked closet. Twelve boxes exactly, one box for each of his children’s birthday that he had missed. It’s been two years since he last saw or heard anything from his kids. Every time it was one of their birthdays, he John couldn’t help but to buy a present hoping that he could give it to them one day. He was too embarrassed to let anyone know, including Brian, how pathetic he actually is.

Fuck this. John thought as he slammed the door shut, locking it in place. He glanced at the clock on the wall, 3:00pm, almost time for school to end. He had to do something or he was afraid that his kids will forget who their father is. Determined, John grabbed a jacket and went to his car.

He still remembered the way to Cameron and Luke’s school like the back of his hand. The school yard was quiet as the pupils were still in class. Not wanting to be conspicuous, John parked by the trees by the side the school yard and walked through the bushes to the metal railing surround the school yard.

Not long after the crisp bell rang signaling the end of the school day, John saw groups of kids rushing through the double door in front of the building. John watched attentively, scared that even blinking might cause him to miss the sight of his sons. He couldn’t believe his luck, there they were, Cameron and Luke, coming out of the school front door together. John grabbed onto the metal railing in attempt to calm his trembling hand from excitement. He drank in the sight of the boys eagerly. Cameron was chubbier than last time he saw him and Luke definitely grew taller, even taller than his older brother.

Unfortunately, the boys didn’t stay in John’s field of vision for long as they left the school yard and boarded the school bus. But he was content, just a simple glimpse of them was enough, for now.

**

Since that day, it had been rather a routine for John to come spying on his two youngest sons at the time when classes end whenever he could. On the days that Brian was home mid-afternoon, which thankfully was not a lot since he got involved in the animal rights groups to save all the badgers in England, he would just find an excuse to go for a drive. Brian never questioned because John was always back at most half an hour.

It’s been two weeks since John first snuck to the school yard. This day Brian was home, but he didn’t pay too much attention when John left. The bassist did what he had done for the past two weeks, parking behind the trees by the side of the school yard and walk across the bushes. To his surprise, a chubby boy in school uniform appeared behind the trees, obviously waiting for him. It was Cameron.

“Dad?” Before John had time to react, the boy rushed over and threw his arms around John’s waist. “I missed you Dad. Why couldn’t you come see us?”

Cameron’s sad voice nearly brought John to tears. He weaved his fingers through the boy’s spiky short hair. “I miss you too, Cameron. I miss all of you. I wish I could come see you guys.”

“I thought I saw you the other day, standing behind the railing looking at us,” Cameron let go of John and started talking excitedly. “I tried to catch you yesterday but you were gone already, so today I came early waiting for you.”

“Why did you leave early? Are you skipping classes Cameron?” Sounding stern, he was getting his ‘father’ voice back.

“No, no.” Cameron immediately shook his head, “Miss Richards had something important to do this afternoon so she dismissed us a bit early. Dad, can we go to the park down the street and chat? I have so much to tell you.”

“Sure Cameron, but what about Luke?” John asked as he heard the school bell rang.

“Luke has football practice today. He would be busy for another hour and half.”

“Okay.” John nodded, can’t help but feeling a bit disappointed.

They walked to the small, quiet park that is a block from the school. Cameron led John to the pavilion in the middle and sat by the picnic table inside.

“Do you come here often Cameron?” John asked as he looked around the empty park with nothing but a seesaw and a slide.

“Yeah,” Cameron nodded. “I come to do homework a lot, especially if I have after school class and missed the school bus. I wait here until Luke is done with his football practice.”

“Aren’t you cold?” John looked at his son and shivered a bit.

The boy shrugged his shoulders. “It’s alright. It’s better than home, at least quiet.”

“Who would drive you and Luke home?”

“Sometimes Robbie, usually Michael.”

“Robbie must be in Uni now. Where did he end up picking? What is he studying?” John asked, feeling depressed not knowing anything about his children.

“Robbie is in the Uni you went to Dad, Imperial College of London. He is studying something with a lot of numbers, accounting is what it’s called? Laura said Michael wants to go to the same Uni and study what you did before you became famous.”

John smiled. Being under the spotlight for more than half of his life, he didn’t want his children to live the same Rock n’ Roll life he did. Looks like at least Robbie and Michael chose paths that would most likely lead them different lives.

“I wish I was as smart as them. I am the dumbest in the family.” Cameron’s voice suddenly became sunken causing John to be concerned.

“Why do you say that Cameron?” John’s brows were knitted in a frown.

“Because I am. Michael, Josh, Laura, even Luke have good grades without even trying. Robbie got into the best Uni in the city. I try hard but my grades are still bad. That’s why I have to take those stupid after school classes.” Cameron pouted and looked like he was on the brink of tears.

John put his arm around the boy in attempt to comfort him. “Do your Mum, brothers or sister help you with school work?”

“Mum is so busy I don’t want to bother her. Josh and Laura are always unhappy. I think they just miss you too much Dad. Robbie lives at Uni now. Michael helps me sometimes, when he is not with his girlfriend, that is.” Cameron mumbled.

“Well, how about if I help you Cameron? I will meet you here on the days you usually come and I will help you with your schoolwork.”

“Would you really Dad?” The boy’s brown eyes glittered with pure joy as he looked up to his father.

John nodded, “of course. What days do you come?”

“Starting February, I will have after school class on Tuesday and Thursdays again. Those are half hour so I will come here at 4. Luke’s football practices are on the same days so I wait for him here until 5 and Michael comes to pick us up.”

“It’s a deal then.” John held out his pinky which the boy immediately hooked his around.

John drove with the ecstatic feeling at the prospect of meeting with Cameron on regular basis and hear the latest about the rest of his children. The day only got better when he got a glimpse of his other son Michael driving by to pick up his brothers as he was leaving in his Volvo.

Still in a joyful mood, John hummed as he entered the front door. Brian met him at the threshold, with a concerned look on his face. “Deaky? Where did you go? How come it took you 2 hours to get cheese and toast from grocery?” Looking at John’s apparently empty hands, Brian raised his eyebrows. “Where are the cheese and toast?”

John scratched his head, “I just took a drive. Thinking about stuff and got lost track of time. I guess I forgot to go to grocery store after all.”

Brian frowned, obviously not buying what John is feeding him. “Are you okay Deaky? Where did you go?”

“Oh, just around the neighborhood.” John avoided Brian’s skeptical gaze as he turned around the hang up his jacket.

It was quite evident that the younger man did not want to tell Brian his whereabouts this afternoon. Brian understood the importance of keeping space and privacy, but it still hurt. After all they had been through, he thought they were done with keeping secrets from each other. Nevertheless, Brian decided not to push it, giving John time to tell him when he is ready.

He changed the subject, “Deaky, remember we had dinner at Miami’s two weeks ago? Roger was there too and we talked about tidying up Freddie’s leftover work and record them into an album?”

“Yeah?” John replied hesitantly.

“Miami called today, said he booked us recording studio. We can start to work on it here in London in two weeks and when ready, we will go to Montreaux to finish the album.”

The bassist was silent. As much as he wanted to turn Freddie’s last pieces of work into an official album, he dreaded the process. He didn’t know if he was ready to listen to Freddie’s voice.

Noticing the younger man’s apprehension, Brian went up and wrapped his arms around John’s waist. “It’ll be difficult Deaky, but we have got to do this, for Freddie.”

John sighed and leaned into Brian’s chest, resting his head on the taller man’s shoulder, “I know Bri. Don’t worry, we will get the album done.”

Chapter Text

“You know, it’s uncanny. Whenever I hear Freddie’s voice through the speaker, I still feel he’s right here with us.” Roger lit a cigarette as he and John smoked in the tearoom of their recording studio.

“How do you know he’s not.” John puffed a smoke, “I bet he is laughing at your ridiculous haircut right now.”

“Brian’s sci-fi mind is rubbing off on you Deaky. You got to be careful before you become crazy like him and curly hair start to grow out of your head too.” Roger stuck out his tongue at the younger man.

John snickered and finished the last smoke before putting the cigarette butt down.

“Roger, I’m done, it’s your turn now.” Brian called out to his blond bandmate as he entered the tearoom.

“Oh, here comes the fun killer.” Roger reluctantly killed his half cigarette as he saw Brian enter the room.

John smiled. He got up and grabbed his jacket off the back of the chair. He glanced at the clock on the wall that read 3:30pm. “I think I’m done for today. You guys okay if I leave now? I will finish my part up tomorrow.” He said as he put on his jacket.

“Sure thing.” Replied Roger, “but where are you going Deaky?”

“Got to take care of some business.” John smiled mysteriously as he turned around to start walking toward the door.

“Deaky…” Brian called as he grabbed John’s shoulder.

John patted Brian’s hand on his shoulder, “I will see you at home Brian.” With that, he zipped up his jacket and walked toward the door.

“Recently, he’s been leaving at this time pretty frequently. Where is he going?” Roger’s curiosity is getting the better of him.

“Your guess is as good as mine.” Brian shook his head and poured himself some tea.

“But you two live together.” Roger commented.

“That doesn’t mean we are joined at the hips.” Brian took a sip of his tea. “There’s got to be some personal space.”

“Aren’t you curious though? What if he has a hot date?” Roger wondered.

Brian almost spurted his tea. “Hot date at 3:30 in the afternoon? For what? Tea party?”

Roger got up from his chair, grabbed his coat and run toward the door while yelling, “I’m going to bounce early too Brian, will finish tomorrow.”

“Wait.” Before Brian could react, Roger is out of his sight.

Just as Brian is finishing his tea and getting ready to go back to the recording studio to get more work done, his mobile rang. Roger was on the other end telling him to come to an address in southwest of London.

“What the hell.” Brian muttered. Concerned that it might actually be something serious, Brian grabbed his jacket and left the studio.

The address Roger sent turned out to be a small, quiet park at the side of the neighborhood street. Roger was hiding behind shrubbery looking into the park. When he saw Brian, he waved the guitarist over.

“What are you doing here?” Before Brian could continue, Roger covered his mouth.

“Would you please lower your voice.” Roger scolded in a hushed tone.

Brian frowned and looked at the direction Roger was staring. To his surprise, he saw John, with a boy of 11 or 12 years of age whom he did not immediately recognize.

“That’s Cameron.” Roger whispered. Brian suddenly remembered. The boy was indeed John’s second youngest son Cameron. They haven’t seen him for a couple of years, he has grown quite a bit compared to Brian’s memory.

So that’s what Deaky has been doing all those afternoons. Brian realized with a heavy pang of guilt in his heart. Oh Deaky, his sweet, considerate Deaky. He mustn’t want Brian to see how pathetic he was trying to reconnect to his children so Brian wouldn’t feel sad for him, to relieve his lover the burden of guilt for the situation which Brian know he has caused.

“Dad, I wish you could visit us sometimes.” Brian heard Cameron complain. “We all miss you so much. Laura was crying to Mum the other day wanting to see you after they had a big row. Josh is quiet and Luke is snarky, but I know they both miss you.”

John sighed and hugged his son. “I know Cam. You have no idea how much I miss all of you. You can bring them here you know, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If they want to come.”

Cameron nodded. “I will ask them.”

“How is Robbie? Is he enjoying uni? Enjoying the freedom?” John asked.

“I think so. Robbie still comes home once a week or so. Michael is so jealous of him. He keeps going on about how he can’t wait to start Uni and move out of home. He is also going to the same Uni as Robbie.”

John couldn’t help but laugh at his son’s childish comment. “How is your mother by the way.”

“She is okay. I think she just works too hard and is too tired. That’s why she is short with us sometimes and why she and Laura just can’t get along.” Cameron replied sadly.

John rubbed the boy’s dark hair, “you help her Cam. You are a big boy now.”

Cameron nodded. “I do Dad. I wash the dishes on Monday and Tuesday while Laura does them on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Luke does the weekend. Josh helps to clean the table and kitchen.”

“That’s good. You are all such good kids. Dad is proud of each one of you.” John turned and brought a gift box out of the bag sitting on the bench. He handed it to his son and said, “it’s Luke’s birthday tomorrow. Can you pass on the present I got him? Don’t let him or your mother know it’s from me to avoid unnecessary fuss.”

Cameron’s face lit up in a smile. “Oh, don’t worry Dad. I won’t tell Mum. Luke will say something sarcastic but I know he will be ecstatic to get a gift from you, Dad.”

Brian wiped a drop of tear from the corner of his eye. He turned and walked away causing Roger to follow him quietly. He can’t bear looking at the scene anymore. He didn’t regret giving John the ultimatum two years ago because he had been so deliriously happy these past two years that he didn’t think it was possible. And he was sure John is equally as happy.

He knew there were consequences. He knew there were wounds. But he didn’t expect them to hurt this much. Watching the interaction between John and his son in the park, Brian felt multiple kicks in the gut. He felt even more painful than when his own kids wouldn’t talk to him.

“I’m sorry Deaky. I will try to make it up to you.” Brian murmured under his breathe while a plan was forming in his head.

**

Brian was pacing anxiously back and forth on the porch in front of John’s old house in Southwest of London. He was not able to get a wink of sleep the previous night which he spent watching John in peaceful slumber while stroking his now soft graying hair. This early spring morning, Brian snuck out of the recording studio the first chance he got.

Even if Veronica did give him a chance to speak, Brian was not sure what he was going to say. He had not felt this nervous for a long time. He just knew he had to do this. He had to do this for Deaky.

“What are you doing here?” Veronica shot Brian an icy glare as she was coming up the porch from her car. She was still pretty and well put together, but definitely looked older and thinner than the last time Brian saw her a couple of years ago.

“Ronnie?” Brian said hesitantly.

“Please stop calling me that. And you should know you are not welcome here, Mr. May.” Veronica snapped.

Brian sighed. He knew this was going to be difficult. “Ms. Tetzlaff, I came to talk to you.”

“I don’t think we have anything to talk about. I have a busy schedule today so if you could please leave.” Veronica walked past Brian toward the front door of the house.

Brian stood between the woman and the door. “Veronica, please just hear me out for a minute. I want to talk to you about John and your kids.”

Veronica froze at the mention of her ex-hushand’s name. She turned away from Brian, “if you are here to laugh or pity at me. I suggest you leave now. I get it! John left. He left me and the children. You have him now. What else do you want?”

“Veronica. I now you don’t want to hear me say sorry, but I really am. It’s a difficult situation for everyone.” Brian took a deep breath. “John loves you. He never stopped loving you. He left because he loves you and wants to be honest with you. He loves his kids and it’s breaking his heart to not be able to see them.”

“Well, he should have thought about that before he left.” Shoulders shuddering, Veronica’s voice cracked and Brian could tell she was crying. He tentatively put a hand on Veronica’s shoulder which she immediately shrugged off. Brian sighed and walked in front of her. “I know you are angry Veronica. I know you hate me. You hate John. But did you think about the kids? John is still their father. Can you tell me now that they don’t miss him?”

Veronica sobbed harder while Brian offered her a tissue. He continued, “when Chrissie first divorced me, she didn’t let me see Jimmy, Louisa and Emily for a good four years. I missed them so much that it was killing me every day. In the end, she backed down because she knew they missed me too. I know this is hard for you Veronica. John had hurt you deeply and you want to get back at him by not letting see the children he loves. But I also know each one of your kids miss John. Do you think it’s fair for them to deprive the chance of seeing their father?”

Brian did not say anything else, just offered more tissues to the teary woman. They stood there in silence except for Veronica’s quiet sobs. When she calmed down, she asked, “John told you to come today didn’t he? He doesn’t have the guts to see me himself.”

Brian shook his head and smiled sadly, “no. John doesn’t know about this at all. He understood you are angry and respected your decision. I came because I couldn’t stand to see John, you, and the kids all suffering so much. You have always been a kind and generous woman Veronica. I don’t expect you to change your mind. You need to take your time. But just think about what I said okay?”

Brian zipped up the collar of his Jacket and walked into the early spring rain. He never expected to hear the words, “Luke is going to have a birthday party today afternoon. Everyone will be here around 5. If John wants to drop by, it’s not the worst thing in the world.”

Brian was so excited that he almost ran up to Veronica and gave her a hug. He stopped himself and just choked out, “thank you Veronica. Thank you so much!”

As Veronica went inside the house, Brian could not tell the drops on his face were rain or tears of joy.

**

John rang the doorbell of his old house. His clammy hands were carrying an oversized birthday cake. Veronica opened the door and him rather an ardent glance.

“Hi Ronnie, how have you been?” John offered an awkward smile.

“Oh just peachy.” Veronica replied drily. “But let’s just cut the small talk please. The kids want to see you, so thank you for coming.” She stepped aside to let John come in through the doorway.

“Thank you so much for letting me come, Ronnie.” John said sincerely as he came in and set the cake on the kitchen table.

“Oh, don’t thank me. Thank Luke,” Veronica said sarcastically,” that brat said the only birthday he wants was for you to come on his birthday. At least you have the decency of bringing a cake, saves me a trip to the store.”

The birthday boy was playing video games in the living room. When he saw John came in, he dropped the controller and ran to his father.

“Dad! I’m so glad you can come.” Luke jumped onto the bassist. John picked him up and swung him around.

“Happy birthday Luke! You are getting too big for me to do this.” John chuckled as he felt some vertebrae in his back crack, not that he cared at all.

“Thank you for the present. Cam was trying to be secretive, but I knew it was from you as soon as I saw it.” Luke beamed when John put him down.

“Dad?!” A sharp pitched squeak caused John to turn around, Laura was running down the stairs, almost tripping on the step. In half a second, a mob of blond hair was buried in John chest.

“I missed you so much Dad.” Laura’s voice was shaky.

John kissed the top of his daughter’s head and nuzzled her hair, “I’m here princess. Dad missed you too.”

Laura’s twin brother Josh was not too far behind her. He did not show as much emotion as his sister, but the redness around his eyes gave John a glimpse of what the teenage boy was hiding inside.

John pulled him into a hug. “Josh, how are you?”

“I will be better now that you are here.” Josh sniffed a bit and murmured while burying his face on the crook of John’s neck.

Cameron was the next one to come down the stairs, with the biggest grin on his face. He tugged John sleeve while John rubbed his spiky hair.

“So glad you could come Dad. Now Laura and Josh would be happier.”

“Be quiet.” Josh’s face turned crimson. He gently pinched his younger brother’s chubby cheek while Cameron stuck his tongue out at him.

When John heard a regular pace approaching from the stairs, he looked up. Robbie was standing on the steps, brows knitted in a frown, staring at John with a rather cold and harsh gaze. He is taller than John remembered, even taller than himself now. John returned with an uneasy smile. He bit his lip and felt a sheen of sweat on his forehead. He expected that it would be the hardest for his oldest sons Robbie and Michael to forgive him.

But being the oldest of six siblings, Robbie naturally had great self-control. He walked in front and John and gave him a nod before continuing to the kitchen to help his mother set out the cake.

“Can we eat the cake yet? I’m hungry.” Luke is starting to whine to Veronica.

Veronica handed Robbie eleven candles to put on the cake, then turned to Luke. “Remember your manners Luke. Wait for your older brother.”

“But Michael is probably with Theresa, it would be a long time before he even considers coming home.” Luke pouted.

“This is where you are wrong mate.” Robbie smiled knowingly.  

The front door clicked and came in a tall, good looking teenage boy with curly dirty blond hair. Michael, John murmured. His second oldest son who was never that close to John, always preferring his mother’s company better.

As soon as he saw John in the living room, his handsome features were marred by rage.

“What are you doing here?!” Michael stood in front of John, overpowering him with height advantage.

“Hi Michael. Nice to see you.” John greeted quietly, ignoring shooting pain in his heart.

Michael turned to scan everyone in the room and his eyes rested on Veronica, “did you invite him Mum? Why? Hasn’t he hurt you enough?”

Veronica sighed, “Michael, it’s Luke’s birthday and your brothers and sister want to see him. No matter what he did to me, he is still your father.”

“I don’t have this lying cheat of a father!” The teenage boy bellowed. A crisp hand fell on his cheek so fast that Michael did not have chance to duck away. His brown eyes widened in surprise staring at his sister raising her hand in the air.

“You take that back! Yes, he has made mistake. He had done wrong things, but that doesn’t change the fact he is still our Dad.” Laura’s sharp voice cut through the tension in the room.

Michael rubbed his cheek that is red and burning in pain. He looked at his brothers and sister one by one and shook his head, “I can’t believe you, all of you. How can you stand here under the same roof as him after what he had done to Mum. And what he is still doing to Mum, disgustingly living with another man in sin.”

Ouch that hurt. John felt his chest had just been splayed open.

“Michael, that’s enough!” Robbie raised his ‘big brother’ voice as walked to Michael from back of the kitchen. “This is Luke’s birthday and Luke wants him here. So just be quiet for your brother’s sake.”

“No!” Michael responded with a holler. He took a deep breath, “well, if all of you want him here. Then I will have to leave because I refuse to stand under the same roof as this disgusting scoundrel.” With that, he ran out of the house slamming the front door behind him.

John felt a bit shaky and slumped on the sofa that was behind him. Seeing the anguished look on her father’s face, she snuggled close to him and squeezed his hand. “Don’t worry about that Michael brat Dad, he’s always hot tempered. Always talk before he thinks.”

John gently touched his daughter’s blond hair and gave her a reassuring smile. Michael’s words pierced his heart like an arrow, fast and swift. But at least Josh, Laura, Luke and Cameron were happy to see him. Robbie can tolerate being around him. This is already better than what he hoped for.

Feeling the awkward ambience, Luke wailed again, “let’s lit the candles and cut the cake. I’m starving.”

Chapter Text

1995

Made in Heaven album release press Conference

“Was making of this album especially difficult for you three?”

After receiving a nod from the other two bandmates, Brian began to talk into the microphone. “This has definitely been an intensely emotional journey. Listening to Freddie’s voice in singing in the studio, I think we all broke down one time or another. But we persevered and kept on going. We owe it to Freddie and all the Queen fans around the world to allow everyone to hear the last words of the rock legend Freddie Mercury.”

“Which one was Freddie’s last song?”

“That would be Motherly Love.” Roger answered, “unfortunately Freddie was not able to finish the vocals before he got too sick. Brian here did the rest for that song, a very brave thing to do.”

“What would be the future of Queen after the release of this album?”

The three bandmates shook their heads and exchanged unsure glances. After quite a long pause, Brian spoke up, “we haven’t thought about that much. We are just taking things one step at a time for now. Freddie would have wanted his songs to be played generations to come and we would want Freddie’s legend to live on. But as to how we are going to do that, we don’t yet know.”

“In the last three and half years since Freddie’s death. You three had been out of the spotlight other than the tribute concert a couple of years ago. You can say that you are taking time to focus on family life, but both Mr. May and Mr. Deacon are divorced. There are obviously rumors that Mr. May and Mr. Deacon are in a homosexual relationship and living together, is that true? Was this because Freddie was gay too?”

Commotion arise among the reporters, with a lot of suppressed ‘cooing’ and ‘owing’ sounds. The anticipation heightened in the conference room. Brian shook his head and Roger cursed under his breath. The dreaded questions were bound to come.

Diffident in nature, John hated publicity to the core. He usually just sat quietly in press conferences like a puppet. However, today the shy bassist made the boldest move, even by Freddie’s standards. He grabbed Brian’s hand, which was lying on the table, into his own, intertwined their fingers together and announced into the microphone. “I will take the liberty to fulfill your curiosity today. Yes, the rumors are true. Brian and I are in a relationship and we are living together in the same house. I am not going to go into the technicalities of labeling our relationship but I will tell you we love and care about each other immensely. We still love our children dearly as well as our fans. This is strictly a private matter and should have no bearing on what we decide to do professionally as a band.”

Needless to say, this announcement, especially coming from John, not only shocked all the reporters, cameraman, security guards in the room as well as the two bandmates sitting beside him and Miami who was standing behind. Silent enveloped the conference room as everyone was trying to find their bearings after the shocking news. Roger took advantage of it and clapped his hands, “alright, if there are no more questions, that would conclude this press conference. Thank you for coming everyone.”

Brian and Roger stared at John in awe on the whole ride back home until John was rather embarrassed.

“Okay guys, you can stop now. What is done is done. I cannot go back there and take back my words.” John said in an annoyed voice.

Roger shook his head, “oh wow Deaky, I never thought you had that in you.” He turned to Brian and winked, “he must be something in bed, isn’t he.”

“Shut it!” John smacked Roger’s arm causing the blond to let out a wild laughter.

John turned to Brian and asked hesitantly, “you are okay with me announcing it, right?”

Brian smiled brightly and put his arm around the younger man’s shoulder, “of course Deaky. I have been wanting to say the truth a long time ago, but never found the courage you had.”

The press had a field day with John’s statement. The story was told and retold in every entertainment TV programs, tabloids, and radio talk shows. No car parked outside their house this time though, because John already told them more than they needed to know. All the publicity was a great promotion for the album and boost for sales.

However, distressing things did start to happen to Brian and John shortly after the surprise announcement. Like those phone calls to their house with no one talking on the other end that are happening with increased frequency, almost once every other night. When Brian try to trace the caller from the phone company, all he got was number of certain pay phone booths around the city. Like when Brian parked his car on the street for an animal rights meeting, after the meeting was over, he found that his back tires were slashed causing him to almost drive into a ditch. This morning when Brian checked the mailbox before breakfast, he found yet another blank paper with pasted letters from magazines and newspapers calling them obscene names and threatening their lives, the third one they had gotten so far.

“We should do something about this Deaky, this has gotten too far.” Brian suggested as he dropped the hate mail onto the breakfast table.

John glanced up while chewing on his cheese with toast. “What do you want to do? Tell the police? They will just call this a prank and not bother doing anything. Didn’t you have the last one tested for fingerprints with no results.”

Brian sighed, “I know. I guess whoever is smart enough to wear gloves. I’m just worried this will get to our kids too.”

“I asked Veronica, she has received nothing and notifiers nothing weird. Did Chrissie hear anything concerning?” John asked while sipping his coffee.

Brian shook his head.

“Besides, it seems very childish and nothing serious. And all those letters are aimed at threatening us, no mention of our children. It’s probably just some bored individual not agreeing with our lifestyle. Stop worrying so much Brian.” John gave his lover’s hand a squeeze.

John was probably right, Brian sighed. He couldn’t expect everyone to be understanding. After John’s announcement at the press conference, there must be some angry fans that feel they had been back stabbed. Besides, police would definitely not take this seriously with no link or clue to go on. But Brian still couldn’t stop having this notion in his stomach.

1996

“Deaky!” Roger got up from the recliner as he saw his friend walked through the door of the lounge. He grabbed John in a bear hug which John gladly reciprocated.

“Roger, you and your ridiculous shades.” John laughed as he shook his head. “Can’t you just wear regular glasses or get contact lens?”

“Hey, I’m a rock star, not a nerd.” Roger sat back on the recliner chair and beaconed John to sit on the leather sofa beside him. “Come sit. Anything to drink, Deaky? Coffee? Tea? Booze?”

“Tea would be fine.” John replied as he sat down.

Roger used the phone on the side table to order tea for John and more wine for himself.

“You have gone soft Roger. You drink wine now? No more hard liquor?” John snickered.

Roger shook his head, “not getting any younger, Deaky.”

“So this is where you hang out now? VIP club lounge.” John raised his eyebrows as he looked around the fancy room.

“Just some peace and quiet from home, mate.” Roger lit a cigarate while offering John one.

John shook his head. “I quit. Brian made me.”

“I knew this would happen!” Roger exclaimed. “So where is Brian?”

“He’s coming from the recording studio. Will be here any minute.”

Roger leaned back and sighed, “since we made that Made in Heaven album, we don’t get to hang out as much anymore. I feel like I haven’t seen you two in ages. What have you been up to?”

John poured himself some tea and sipped. “Brian has been busy recording his solo projects, and also saving all the badgers in England. I have just been a home body really, reading some books, spending time with my kids. Oh, I enrolled back into the master program in electrical engineering at uni, the one I dropped out in 1974. But this time I think I will transition to doctorate program.”

“Oh wow, good for you Deaky. Brian will be so jealous.” Roger laughed.

“Who will I be jealous of?” Brian’s voice came from behind the pair as he walked through the door.

“Brian!” Roger set down his wine glass and jumped onto the taller man.

“Wow easy Roger. You are not as petite as 20 years ago and my back is not as sturdy.” Brian chuckled as he tightly hugged his blond friend.

Brian bent down to gently peck John’s temple before sitting down beside him on the sofa causing the bassist to flush for a short moment. Even after so many years, John still blushes at Brian’s intimate gestures in public even though this is just in front of Roger.

“Deaky is just telling me how he enrolled back into his doctorate degree he left 20 years ago.” Roger filled Brian in on the conversation.

Brian smiled proudly and rubbed his lover on the back, “I know. It’s great isn’t it? I am going to get my astronomy doctorate one of these days too.”

“Of course, you will.” Roger rolled his eyes.

“What did you call us here for Roger?” John asked, “it can’t just be because you missed us.”

“Well, I do miss you guys.” Roger said matter of fact. “But I also have something else on mind.” He turned to Brian, “I heard the demo of the song ‘No-one But You’, Brian. I think it’s great. We should record it.”

“I sent you that months ago Roger! You just listened to it now?” Brian pretended to sound hurt. “And yes. For your information, I do plan to record it.”

“Well, I am a busy man.” Roger snorted. “And no Brian. I meant ‘we’ should record it, as Queen.”

Brian and John shared a look before John replied reluctantly, “I don’t know Roger. I haven’t been playing regularly for a while.”

“Come on Deaky, even Roger thinks so.” Brian rubbed John’s shoulder, “you are so talented you will find the groove in no time.”

“Yeah Deaky. Think of it as a tribute to Freddie.” Roger knew the bassist could not refuse if their dear friend’s name was mentioned.

John agreed just as Roger expected. He and Brian exchanged a grin.

Brian poured himself a cup of tea, “I agree we should make and perform more music as Queen. But to do that, we need a new singer.”

“What are you saying Brian? Don’t tell me you are suggesting to replace Freddie.” John sounded surprised.

Brian shook his head, “never. We can never replace Freddie and nor do we ever want to. But when I went to see him the last time a couple of days before he passed, he told me clearly that his last wishes were for us to continue making music and perform our music to the next generation. In order to do that, we do need another front man. What do you guys think about Robbie Williams?”

“The kid from Take That?” Roger asked.

Brian nodded, “yes. I met him a couple of months ago at an event. He’s a good kid. He can definitely sing and perform. I got a call from Miami earlier today. Turns out he had been looking for a front man for us as well and he mentioned Robbie. I think he will be great for us and he is interested.”

“He’s a bit young don’t you think?” Roger pondered.

“That’s what we need, youth and energy.” Brian chuckled, “no one wants to see old ladies still rocking away. Besides, we were the similar age when we started. Deaky was even younger.”

Roger shrugged his shoulders, “you got a point. Yeah, Fred told me to keep on making music and keep his legacy alive as well the last time I went to see him.” Even after so many years, thinking about their charismatic friend still made Roger snuffle. “Let’s get together with him and discuss to see if we are on the same page. We need to do Freddie proud.”

Brian turned to the bassist, “what do you say Deaky?”

John got up and turned to look at the London skylines out of the window. He was quiet. He did not like this idea one bit. Just the picture of them on stage or studio with another person singing in Freddie’s place made him sick. Yet he cannot argue with Brian and Roger because he was the only one who didn’t have the balls to go visit Freddie one last time before he passed. He regretted it so much that to this day he could not think about the last days of Freddie without shedding tears.

‘I’m sorry Fred.’ John mumbled to himself as he felt his eyes getting watery. A pair of strong and familiar arms hugged him from behind.

“What’s wrong Deaky?” Brian whispered to his lover’s ear, “thinking about Freddie?”

Tears streamed down the younger man’s cheeks. John turned in Brian’s embraced and rested his head on the taller man’s shoulder.

“I don’t know if I can do it Brian.” John’s sobbed quietly, “I can’t imagine playing on stage with someone else in Freddie’s place.”

Brian kissed his forehead and tenderly stroked John’s soft hair with his fingers, “it’s okay Deaky. Fred wouldn’t be mad at you even if you can’t.”

Pictures of Freddie filled John’s mind. How Freddie took care of him when he first joined the band. How supportive Freddie was of his relationship with Brian even though they were both married men. How devasted he was when Freddie told them about AIDS. John really hated himself for being so weak. He couldn’t go visit Freddie during those last days. Now he couldn’t even help to carry on Freddie’s last wishes?

Roger came over too and hugged them both. “It’s okay Deaky. It will be hard for all of us. But it is what Fred would have wanted so we all give our best shot okay?”

John sighed and nodded. He cannot refuse to that.

Roger smiled and wiped off the remaining tears from John’s face with the back of his hand. “We are getting ahead of ourselves anyway. Let’s start with recording Brian’s No-One But You, just the three of us. Brian and I will sing. We see how that goes and we go from there.”

Chapter Text

1997

John watched the last edition of No One-But You demo with a satisfied smile on his face before he heard the door bell rang. He let out a yawn before getting up to answer the door.

“Uncle John!” Emily jumped onto John as soon as the door was opened, wrapping her skinny arms around John’s neck and legs around John’s waist. John almost stumbled by surprise before steadied himself and held onto the young girls’ torso. Last four years of bonding had made Emily and John thick as thieves. The nine-year-old girl always clung to the bassist whenever she sees him. Brian had joked multiple times how jealous he is of the affection John gets from his younger daughter.

“Careful there, princess.” John chuckled while closing the door with his leg and carried Emily inside the house. He glanced at the clock on the wall, “blimey, can’t believe it’s 4 o’clock already. Well, you Dad is still not back from his meeting yet. Don’t worry, he knows you are coming for dinner tonight. You will just have to hang out with me for a bit.”

“I love hanging out with Uncle John.” Emily replied excitedly, “can we go watch TV?”

“Did you finish your homework yet?” John raised his eyebrows.

“No,” Emily shook her head and pouted.

“Let’s go upstairs. You finish your homework and I will do my homework with you while we wait for your Dad. Then you can tell him what you like for dinner.” John put Emily down by the stairs.

“Okay.” Emily ran up the stairs to the study. John followed after grabbing some journals to read for his doctorate thesis.

Emily sat by the desk in the study while John curled up on the couch by the window. It was a relaxing, peaceful afternoon. John turned on the lights early as the dreariness of the mid-January makes it seem like darkness fell before teatime. The quietness in the house, the warmth from the radiator and the coziness of the couch, John dozed off after barely finishing 2 pages, with the book covering his face.

“Uncle John! Wake up, something’s not right.” John was woken up to Emily’s panic voice and forceful tug on his arm. He immediately knew something was wrong. Something was horribly wrong. It was warm, way too warm that John had to take off his jumper. The air was so thick that he felt the constriction in his chest. When John tried to take a breath, he coughed uncontrollably. He grabbed Emily’s hand and promptly ran down the stairs.

John thought he had seen a lot in his life, being around the around and all. But no previous experience had quite prepared him for the scene on the ground floor. The house was engulfed in orange, red and yellow flames. The smoke was thick that John couldn’t see even half a meter in front of him. His eyes were tearing up that he could barely keep them open. John froze for a second, dumbfounded not knowing what to do, until he heard the sharp pitched cry from Emily who was trying to pick up some old records from the bookcase.

The hanger of the ceiling lamp snapped and the enormous object was falling from directly above Emily. In a split of a second, John ran over and shielded her with his own body. He couldn’t help but yelp in pain as he felt the hot metal rods made contact with his right thigh.

“Uncle John! Are you okay?” John heard Emily’s heartbreaking cries among the thumps of falling planks and crackling of wooden walls. He tried to get up but his right leg refused to move. John rubbed his eyes and squinted trying to figure out if there was any way out of the burning house. The doors were too far away and covered with flames. As much as John could make out, the closest exit that was still not yet consumed by the blazing fire was the side window that was about five feet from their current position.

He grabbed a blanket from the floor and wrapped it around Emily. Gritting his teeth, John tried to stand up again and only made it half way before his leg gave out and crashed onto ground. He pushed Emily toward the window, “listen to me princess, run toward that window and climb out. It’s the only chance to get out of here.”

“No! I am not leaving without you Uncle John.” Emily was crying uncontrollably.

John sighed. Considering the dire circumstances, he was surprised at how calm he found himself. There was really no time for argument or persuasion. With all his strength, he crawled with his hands, dragged his right leg, while pushing the sobbing girl toward the side window.

When they finally reached the window sill, John slammed it open. The freezing mid-winter air cut on John’s face like knife but the bassist found it rather refreshing. He couldn’t stop coughing from the mixture of smoke and cold air. Barely able to get any air into his lungs, he still grabbed Emily wrapped in the blanket and practically throw her onto the frozen ground below.

“Uncle John!” Emily reached up with her hand and tried to grab John’s hand through the window but John pushed her away.

“Run Emily!” John bellowed through the smoke, “or I would be mad and never forgive you.”

Emily could see the flame reflecting in John’s green eyes matching the fury in his voice. Still with tears running down her cheeks, she turned around, stumbled and limped across the yard toward the incoming flashing lights.

The sound sirens steadied John’s nerves a little bit. For half a second, he was contemplating the feasibility of climbing out of the window himself with bleeding fingers and a broken right leg. As soon as he clung onto the outer ridge, he heard a loud creak. Before John was able to hoist his weight with his arms, the bookcase by the corner of the wall fell onto the ground, trapping him under. When John knocked his head onto the edge of the window sill as he slid to the ground, everything went black.

**

Brian impatiently chopped his fingers on the steering wheel while waiting for the traffic light. The light aroma of the cheesecake from his daughter’s favorite bakery filled the car. He got it for Emily to apologize for the meeting going overtime. Brian doubted his daughter minded though, sometimes wondering whether her visits are to see Uncle John or her father.

As the guitarist saw lighted up night sky and heard the sirens when he turned onto his street, he had this sinking feeling in his stomach. When he got closer, Brian was absolutely horrified by the scene in front of him. The picture was exactly what Brian imagined hell to be. The house he shared with John was consumed by flashing multicolored flames and clouds of smoke covered the whole neighborhood. Clusters of police cars, firetrucks, and ambulances blocked the road. Brian stopped the car in the middle of the street and jumped out.

He ran to the crowd which gathered in front the house, or the ground where the house used to be, looking around trying to find anyone who was willing to tell him the story. People were either busy ignoring him or shaking their head at his frantic questions. He reached in his coat pocket trying to find his phone to call John but realized he left it in his car.

“Dad?” Just as Brian was panicking to his core, he heard a weak, familiar voice from behind. He turned around and there was Emily, wrapped with a blanket sitting on a gurney. Her blond hair was darkened with ash and face was dirtied with dust. Her eyes were swollen and there were still fresh tears on her cheek.

Brian rushed over and enveloped his daughter in a bear hug. Relief rushing over him like rain upon desert. He closed his eyes and felt tears dripping down. “Gosh Em,” he kissed the girl’s long blond hair.

“Dad, I’m sorry.” Emily clung to Brian’s sleeves and sobbed into his coat. Brian was slightly alarmed by his daughter’s apology.

“Are you okay Emily? Hurt anywhere?” Brian let go of the girl and checked her over from head to toe.

Still wiping tears away from her eyes with her hand, she nodded. “ ‘m, fine Dad, just twisted my ankle. But Uncle John…”

Brian bent down to check Emily’s ankles, the left one was swollen to the size of a baseball. It took half a few seconds to click what his daughter is trying to tell him.

“What about John? Where is he?” Brian’s head snapped up and started to look around looking for the bassist in the crowd.

“So hot, so much smoke, so much fire….” Emily was crying convulsively, “he threw me out the window…told me to run…he’s still in there….”

For a moment Brian forgot everything. He forgot who he was, where he was. He forgot how to breath, how to walk. He felt dizzy, slipped, hit his arse on the black ice and it was only then he realized he had been holding a breath. Brian stumbled up and started sprinting toward the burning house, not even making it to half way across the yard before uniformed officers stopped him.

“Sir, please, for your safety, you cannot go any further.” A sturdy police officer in mid-forties grabbed both of Brian’s arms.

“I’m the owner of the house. Deaky is still in there! My partner is still in there!” Mob of dark curls flailing around, Brian was hysterical.

The officer frowned, not really understanding what Brian is trying to convey but relegating it to the stress of the event.

“Yes Sir, the girl told us. Her uncle is still in there. We have lads working on trying to get him out of there now. We can’t have you go and injure yourself. Then we need to spare men power to save you.”

Brian struggled against the hold, but only made the lock on his arms get tighter. In the end, Brian was drained of energy to even holding a standing position. He knelt on the frozen ground, not caring how the icy surface burnt his knees through his thin trousers.

“Please save him. Please…” the guitarist sobbed quietly.

It couldn’t have taken very long, because later on when Brian calculated, the whole time in front of the burning house couldn’t have taken more than 15 minutes. But to the guitarist, it might as well be 15 hours, or even 15 days. In the end though, a group of firefighters did carry a gurney out of the raging flames directly to the ambulance.

Brian tried to edge closer to the gurney but his attempts were futile as John was immediately surrounded by a group of paramedics. Behind the crowd, Brian could see all the exposed skin of John was almost completely blackened, covered with soot. There was absolutely no recognizable feature. Brian could only guess that the dark fluid seeping onto the ground were John’s blood.

Feeling totally useless, Brian went back to Emily and put his arm around her slim shoulders. She looked up at him and asked anxiously, “is Uncle John okay?”

Brian shook his head and only tightened his arm around her shoulder, “I don’t know princess.” He felt his heart tighten to the point of pure agony the more agitated the paramedics became.

When they packed John up to the ambulance truck, Emily tugged on his father’s sleeve, “Dad, you should ride with Uncle John. I’m fine, this nice lady will take me to the same hospital.” Emily pointed to a police woman standing beside them with a heart shaped face who nodded.

Brian considered for a moment, as much as he wanted to dash up there and hold his lover’s hand, he couldn’t let go of his daughter after an event like this. Also seeing the busy and stressed states of the medics that are climbing into John’s ambulance, he didn’t think his presence will be welcomed. He smiled at the policewomen and rubbed Emily’s shoulder, “it’s okay Em, I will take you to the hospital.”

With that, Brian carried his daughter on his shoulders and walked toward his car that was still abandoned in the middle of the street.

Chapter Text

Emily was checked over thoroughly in the A&E and determined to only have a right ankle sprain. No bone was broken so all she needed was cold compresses and a nice bath. Brian could not relax however, because he found out John was taken directly to the operating theatre as soon as the ambulance arrived at A&E. The red-haired nurse gave him a suspicious look when he tried to inquire more about his lover’s condition, reiterating that those information could only be passed on to families. Frustrated but don’t know what else he could do, Brian went back to the waiting room and called both Chrissie and Veronica.

“Emily!” Chrissie arrived first with Jimmy and Louisa. She enveloped Emily in a big hug. It’s been a while since Brian saw his ex-wife, but the encounters in the last couple of years had been more amicable than early in the divorce. It did help that she now has found new love and married again.

After Jimmy and Louisa both gave Emily a hug and greeted their father, Emily settled in her mother’s lap.

“So what happened Em?” Jimmy asked. The question also took Brian away from his wandering thoughts. He realized through all the events of the evening and his overwhelming concern for John’s status, he had not talked to his daughter regarding the circumstances of that afternoon.

Emily snuggled to the crook of Chrissie’s neck and started slowly. “I was doing my homework and Uncle John was reading a book upstairs in the study. After a while, I felt really warm and smelt smoke in from the door. I went out of the room to the second-floor landing and saw dark smoke surround the stair case. I went back to the study and saw Uncle John dozed off. I woke him up. He led me down the stairs. I was coughing so hard I could hardly breath. My eyes are tearing up and I could hardly see what was in front of me. When we got to the first floor, the whole house was in flames.”

Emily choked on sobs while her brother gently patted her back. “I was so scared and cried. I saw on bookcase beside me were some old records that Dad and Uncle John treasured so much. I tried to gather them in my arms but heard a snapping sound above me. When I looked up, the ceiling lamp was ready to fall and smack me in the face. I don’t remember but I think I yelled for help. But even before that Uncle John was there pushing me away so the lamp hit his leg.

He couldn’t stand but the flames were getting closer to us. We couldn’t figure out where the door was so Uncle John pushed me toward the closest window. After we finally got there, he wrapped me in blanket and dropped me on the ground outside. I reached out my hand wanting to drag him out of the burning house but he only told me to run as fast as possible. I listened to him, thinking he would climb out himself right after me, but he never did.”

Everyone was silent except for the soft sobs from Emily who buried her face in her mother’s bosom. Oh God Deaky. Brian felt as if someone reached his heart and squeezed every drop of blood out. It was when he felt the drops on wetness on his hand that he realized tear was streaming down his face.

Brian mumbled a ‘thanks’ when Louisa handed him a tissue and dried his eyes.

“How is Uncle John?” Jimmy asked, a frown marring his young handsome face.

Brian shook his head, “still in surgery. They refuse to tell me anything. I called Veronica, hopefully she will have better luck in getting more information.”

Two young men barely twenty years of age rushed into the waiting room with the blond one grabbing the first nurse he sees and ask about his father John Deacon, causing quite a commotion. Brian immediately recognized the older one with short brown curly hair to be John’s oldest son Robert. Brian had met with Robbie a couple of times so the young man nodded politely when he recognized the guitarist and walked toward him, dragging his younger brother with him. Brian had not seen Michael in the last few years since John and Veronica’s divorce became public. From the dirty looks the blond boy is throwing him, it’s obvious the younger man would like to keep it that way.

Brian stood up to greet them, “hi Robbie. Is Veronica here too?”

Robert shook his head, “I got a call from Mum and we came directly from Uni which is two blocks away. Mum and our other siblings are on their way.” He turned to the blond boy, “this is my brother Michael, I don’t know if you remember.”

Brian smiled at him while Michael avoided his glance.

“How is Dad,” Robert asked worriedly.

“He’s still in surgery.” Brian sighed, lowering his head trying to hide the guilty look in his eyes. He could not face John’s children without feeling responsible for failing to take care of their father.

“What the hell happened?! How could he be stuck in a house fire? Dad would never be that careless!” Michael’s hollers were accusatory, aimed directly at Brian.

Brian was silently staring at the floor. Robert tugged on his brother’s sleeve whispering for him to stop yelling as it was catching attention from the other people in the waiting room. Emily let go of Chrissie’s arms and looked up at Michael, rubbing her eyes drying off the tears.

She looked at Michael and said in a pleading voice, “I’m sorry. It’s my fault. Uncle John was trying to save me or he would have been able to escape the house.”

Michael’s face flushed bright red to the tip of his ears and eyes burned with fury. He stared at the young girl intensely with an intimidating stance, but Emily kept looking at him with the same apologetic but unwavering gaze. Both Brian and Jimmy edged closer to Emily as if worried Michael would be mad enough to hit her.

That did not happen though. Instead, Brian found himself at the other end of Michael’s angry fist. The young man’s hard knuckles smashed onto Brian’s jaw by surprise causing him to tumble onto the ground knocking down the chair behind him.

“Dad!” He heard Emily and Louisa’s shrieks and Louisa was immediately by his side. Emily would have been too if it wasn’t her mother holding onto her reminding her of the sprained ankle.

“This is all your fuckin fault!” Michael yelled with vehemence. “It’s your fault Dad left, our parents divorced, our family is broken and home is shattered! Now Dad’s injured, bad, in surgery. If it wasn’t for you, he would have never left! None of this would have ever happened.”

“You fuckin stay off my Dad!” Jimmy jumped up and pushed Michael away. He lifted his fist in air and was ready to punch the blond-haired man but Chrissie grabbed onto his arm.

“Stop it Jimmy.” She said sternly. “Violence is never the solution.”

On the other side, Robert locked down both of Michael’s arms while Michael struggled vigorously but futilely against his brother’s hold.

“Michael, stop now. I mean it.” Robert’s never raised his voice, but the sense of authority was indisputable. The younger man quieted down and to everyone’s surprise, started sobbing. The 19-year-old boy turned around in his brother’s arms and buried his face on Robert’s shoulder.

“If he doesn’t get better, the last thing I said to him would be I never want to see you again.” Michael choked out in his raspy voice. Robert patted his brother’s back and murmured comforting words in the younger man’s ear.

By now they have gathered quite a crowd around them in the waiting room. People gawking and glaring at them while whispering and hinting to each other. It didn’t help as they recognized Brian to be the guitarist of Queen. Not that Brian cared even a single bit. Michael’s words pierced his heart and drowned him in a sea of guilt. As if a black hole draining all his energy, Brian closed his eyes and his mind went to a very dark place. Louisa and Jimmy helped him up. He wiped off a speckle of blood where his lip cut on his teeth and already felt his jaw throbbing.

A physician in white coat and scrubs rushed in the waiting room in a rather anxious state and asked, “family of John Deacon?”

Robert, Michael and Brian all looked up immediately.

The doctors sighed, “we are still operating on Mr. Deacon. His spleen ruptured and right femur fractured, both from blunt trauma. In addition, he sustained significant burns to areas of his right shoulder and back. The most concerning thing now is that he’s bleeding profusely and the hospital currently is low on O negative blood, which is Mr. Deacon’s blood type. I came to ask if any of you would have the same blood type as Mr. Deacon and willing to donate.”

“I’m O negative.” Brian answered promptly, ignoring the pain in his jaw when he spoke. He rolled up his sleeves put out his forearm, “please take my blood.”

Chrissie tugged on his shirt from behind, “Brian, you forgot? You had hepatitis before.”

The doctor shook his head. “I’m sorry Mr. May. Even without that history of hepatitis, you wouldn’t be eligible to donate blood. You are gay.” He paused as if it caused him great distress even to say that word. “The risk of HIV infection in that population is too high.”

Brian didn’t think the day could get any worse but the physician’s harsh, cold words just condemned him to hell. All the tone from his muscles are gone in an instant, Brian sank down to the chair.

“Bollocks, I think I’m A positive.” Michael muttered in frustration.

Robert walked up to the doctor, “I believe I’m O positive. Would that work?”

Looking at everyone else among the group who all shook their heads, the doctor sighed and nodded reluctantly, “it’s not ideal but as this is a life-saving emergency, it will have to work.” He led Robert out of the waiting room to have blood taken.

Chapter Text

After Robert had came back to the waiting room looking slightly pale and dizzy, there had been no more updates on John. Veronica came not long after with their other four children. Thankfully, Laura, Josh, Cameron and Luke despite being worried and anxious, were all friendly and polite with Brian, no more accusations.

Evening turned into late night and turned into morning. The waiting room was empty except for them. Emily had fell asleep in Chrissie’s arms a long time ago. When Chrissie could not keep her own eyes open, she decided to take Emily and Louisa home after asking Brian to call her with updates on John as soon as he hears them. Jimmy wanted to stay with his father.

Brian felt numb sitting in the extremely uncomfortable plastic chair in the waiting room. He felt as if his spiritual existence crawled out from his skin. His chest was empty since his heart was not there. It is in the operating theatre where John is fighting for his life. Brian was offered food and drink multiple times throughout the night, mostly by Jimmy, but he shook his head each time. He could not feel thirst, could not feel hunger, could not even feel pain.

Brian never liked to be alone with his thoughts for too long because his mind always went to dark places. But hours sitting in quiet chill waiting room overwhelmed with anxiety and frustration, it was impossible not to reflect. And Brian did. He thought about his father, his Red Special, his music, Queen, his marriage, his children, his divorce, Freddie’s death, Roger, and most of all, John. Maybe it was fate that he would meet and fall in love with the cute shy bassist with long brown locks at the age of 23. Maybe it was punishment from his previous life that Veronica had to be pregnant just as he and John were revealing their feelings for each other so John felt he had to marry her. Seventeen years they played the cat mouse game, loving and torturing each other. Was it all worth it? Brian squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. Brian thought what would have happened if they were able to act on their feelings earlier back in 1974 before John had a chance to propose to Veronica and got her pregnant. Would they have been happily together all these years or would they have broken up long time ago. He thought what would have happened if John was able to draw the line in the sand after his first child was born to never see Brian again, which also meant leaving Queen. Would their lives have been happier?

What if John refused to divorce Veronica when Brian finally asked him to after Freddie’s death? Would he really be able to finally break off with the bassist? Or would he have actually carried out the plan he formulated killing himself. Brian honestly didn’t think John would ever have the courage to leave his family. He did say something about seeing the future on that first night. When Brian prodded him later, the younger man just smiled mischievously but refused to answer. The guitarist made a mental note to himself to annoy him for an answer when John gets better, if he does.

No, no! Brian bit his lip and shook his head to prevent his mind going there. All his life, he had never contemplated what it would be without John. If they weren’t lovers, or even if they weren’t friends, as long as he knew John is well somewhere in the world, Brian felt he could be at peace. Just knowing if he really missed the younger man, he could always sneak by his neighborhood and catch a glimpse, he could always inquire about him from Roger.

What if John was really gone? Brian never thought about that. He never thought he had to. But now sitting in the cold waiting room, he was forced to face the reality that John might really leave him, this time forever. Brian realized that it’s not like he wanted to die if John couldn’t make it, it was a conviction that he sure would. The fact of the matter is, he seemed to need John like he needed air.

Brian never planned needing someone like this, like needing an element for ongoing survival. Not his parents, not his children, but if John stopped breathing, so would he.  

And why is it, the person who was so important to him, was also the person he could not protect and help, even in the minute ways? He wasn’t at home when this happened. He couldn’t rush into the house to save him. And in the hospital, he couldn’t even give John his blood to save his life, despite being the only person to have matching blood type.

A gentle tug on his arm caused Brian to turn toward his son, Jimmy was offering him a box of tissue. Brian hadn’t even realized until now that tears were streaming down his cheeks. He smiled sheepishly at the young man and murmured ‘thanks’.

“Dad, I can see you two love each other deeply.” Jimmy whispered in Brian’s ear, “he wouldn’t do this to you. He won’t leave you and hurt you like that.”

Brian squeezed his son’s hand. Jimmy is right. Brian thought. His Deaky would never hurt him like that.

When it was hitting the darkest hour before dawn, everyone dozed off except for Brian. He asked the receptionist for blankets and tucked them around Jimmy, and each of John’s children. When he reached Veronica, she was looking at him with kind brown eyes and greeted him with a smile. Brian smiled back and handed her a blanket. He wanted to say something, maybe apologize, maybe compliment but felt it would kill the moment. There was an understanding past between them and words would be superfluous.

As daylight filled the waiting room, Brian looked through the window and saw yet again dreary grey skies. The surgeon that talked to them the previous evening reappeared in the waiting room again, looking extremely tired and even more grumpy than the night before. His scrubs were blood stained. John’s blood. The thought made Brian cringe.

“I can give some good news about Mr. John Deacon. We removed his spleen and stopped the internal bleeding, fixed his right femur fracture, and did free grafts on the burnt areas on his body. We were even able to take the breathing tube out at the end of the operation. He will stay in ICU for a couple of days to monitor for bleeding and infection. But I am optimistic that he will be fine.” The doctor tried to put on a smile.

The relief was apparent among them. Brian felt he could finally breathe again.

“Can we see him?” Laura asked anxiously.

The doctor took a look around and turned away from Brian, almost purposefully, to face Veronica and her children. “ICU limits to three visitors maximum. Since Mr. Deacon has a big family, I will say family only and limit it to three please.”

Brian was not a violent person but at that moment he would have punched the surgeon if it wasn’t for the fact that he just saved John’s life.

Michael got up and turned to Veronica, “Mum, it’s been a long night. Why don’t you take them home? Robbie and I will stay with Dad.”

“Hey, I want to see Dad too.” Laura smacked her brother’s arm.

“Okay Laura, you can stay too.” Michael rolled his eyes.

Veronica nodded and hugged her three oldest children, “okay, but don’t make yourselves too tired. Let me know how he does.”

“Alright then, I will take you there.” The doctor beaconed them to follow him to ICU. Michael followed swiftly with Laura not far behind. Robert looked like he wanted to say something but decided against it as the doctor started to leave.

He went to Brian and offered him an apologetic smile, “Michael has a hot temper but he is not a bad lad really. He is still getting around accepting you and Dad. I hope you won’t be too mad at him. Don’t worry Brian, I will make sure you are updated on Dad’s condition. And as soon as he is out of the ICU, I’m sure you can come visit.”

Brian shook Robert’s hand and nodded gratefully, “thank you Robbie. I…” His took a deep calming breath but his voice was still hoarse, “I will be okay. Just call me later and tell me how he is.” He pleaded.

“Will do.” Robert squeezed the guitarist’s hand and ran after his brother and sister.

Soon everyone was gone, only Jimmy still sat beside Brian. It was only then Brian realized with the home he shared with John burnt down, he had no where to go.

“I can offer you my dorm,” Jimmy said, “I’m sure my roommates won’t mind.”

Brian chuckled and shook his head. “It’s okay son, I will get a hotel somewhere.” He attempted to stand up but his legs were wobblier than he expected after hours of sitting on the plastic chair.

“Wow, easy there, Dad.” Jimmy caught his father from falling.

They edged slowly to the front door of the hospital which was getting increasingly busy and crowded. Jimmy was very much bothered by how all passers-by turned their heads and stared at the guitarist, not sure whether it’s because they recognized Brian May or it’s because the horrible state his father was in.

Just as they reached the front door of the hospital, a familiar blond head with sunglasses rushed toward Brian.

Roger enveloped Brian in a bear hug and started blabbering, “thank god you are okay. I just came back from Paris, saw the news on the train and rushed here as soon as possible. Is Emily okay? Is Deaky okay?” He turned to Jimmy and messed with his hair. “Hi Jimmy, more handsome every time I see you.”

“Emily is fine. Deaky saved her life. Deaky’s hurt. He was in the operating theatre all night, but now seems like finally out of danger.” Brian sighed.

“Holy shit.” Roger exclaimed, “what the hell happened Brian? How did the fire get started? And why aren’t you with Deaky now he’s out of surgery?”

Brian didn’t think his heart could sustain anymore hurt but Roger just proved that wrong. He lowered his head and averted Roger’s gaze, “his kids are with him now.”

Roger bit his tongue, seeing Brian’s dejected face he wanted to kick himself. He put his arm around his best friend, “as long as Deaky is going to be okay. Where are you planning on staying Brian? How about coming to my place? There is plenty of room and Debbie will be thrilled.”

Jimmy definitely like that idea. He let out a sigh of relief, “thank you Uncle Roger. I was concerned about Dad being alone in this state. I feel much better to have you looking after him.”

“What do you say Brian?” Roger asked.

Brian welcomed the idea too. It was definitely a time he did not want to be alone. He nodded.

“Splendid.” Roger opened up his right palm in front of Brian and raised his eyebrows.

“What?” Brian frowned confusedly.

“Your car keys mate. You are in no state to drive.”

Brian muttered while he dug in his pockets for car keys, “I knew it. You have been waiting to get your hands on my car for years.”

Chapter Text

Brian would never admit it, but he thanked all the stars that Roger is with him that day and the couple of days afterwards. The events of the last twelve hours had left Brian utterly drained of emotions and energy. He sat quietly by the passenger seat.

“Brian?” Roger peered over to the seat next to him while keeping the eye on the road, “what exactly happened last night?”

Brian was silent, shuddering a bit at the thoughts of the scenes in the previous evening. He closed his eyes, leaned on the headrest of the seat and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I don’t know Roger. I went home from a meeting, annoyed that it went overtime because I knew Emily was having dinner with us. When I got close to home, all I saw was the house burning in flames, totally unsalvageable. Emily was sitting on a gurney and Deaky was still trapped inside.”

“Oh shit.” Roger uttered. “How did it happen though? Aside from you, Deaky is the most responsible person. How did the fire start random? It couldn’t have been an accident.”

No, it couldn’t. Brian nodded and whispered to himself. With his mind occupied with John’s condition the previous night, Brian actually had not given much thought to the logistics of how the fire could be started until Roger mentioned it. The more he thought about it thought, the more he did not like the implications.

Eyes still closed, Brian shook his head. “I don’t know Roger. Let’s talk about it later. Yeah?”

“Sure thing.” Roger nodded, not wanting to push the guitarist further into distress. To lighten the mood and relieve Brian’s troublesome thoughts, the blond drummer went on about his trip to Paris, to go watch some auto show apparently.

After arriving at Roger’s house Brian exchanged some pleasant greetings with Roger’s wife Debbie, who force fed the two men sandwiches and some Earl Gray tea.  After the long overdue food, the guitarist looked like he could fall asleep with eyes open.

“Come on, let’s get you some rest.” Roger beaconed Brian to follow him as he led them to the guest room.

“I guess you didn’t get any sleep last night.” Roger commented as he was searching through the closet trying to find some pajama that would fit Brian, but settled with just an oversized t-shirt and long shorts.

“How could I?” Brian shook his head. When he remembered how the doctor flinched uncomfortably telling him they can’t take his blood because he’s gay, his voice started breaking and trembling, “when Deaky is still in surgery and bleeding profusely, not knowing if he could make the night. When the surgeon asked if anyone could donate blood to Deaky, I was the only one with the same blood type. I wanted to give him blood, to save him, just to do something for him but they wouldn’t let me, because I’m gay.”

Roger swiftly turned around and his jaw dropped, “they said that?!” When he saw the older man burying his face in his hands and quietly weeping, Roger immediately sat down beside Brian and put his arms around the guitarist.

Still quivering, Brian leaned onto his life-long friend’s shoulder, “he said the risk of AIDS in the gay population is too high. I had never been with another man but Deaky. I don’t even know if I’m gay because I had never wanted to be with another man than Deaky. I just needed to do something to help him because I’m absoutely useless without him. If Deaky couldn’t make it, there is absolutely no point for me to carry on.”

 Roger shuddered, because he completely believed what Brian said. What would he do then, losing two best friends at once? And with Freddie already long gone, he would be the only one left. What would be the point of anything?

The drummer decided to shake off that frightening thought. He gently rubbed his friend’s back. “It’s over Brian. Deaky will be fine. You will be able to see him soon. He’s so unbelievably strong sometimes, like he broke up his marriage to be with you; like he announced to everyone in the world that you two are together; like he saved Emily from a burning house. Deaky loves you mate, he would never leave you.”

Despite being seemingly insensitive sometimes, Brian knew Roger was still a sweet lad at heart that he had knew for thirty years. His comforting words did make Brian feel better. But he still loathed the idea of being along. After settling in the king-sized bed and the blond drummer was getting ready to leave, Brian gave Roger a pleading look and asked hesitantly, “Rog, can you…?”

The older man’s voice was light and almost sounded child-like, Brian bit his lip and stared at the duvet, looking almost small on the bed. Being best friends for almost thirty years, it is extremely rare to see the guitarist in this vulnerable state. The blond drummer immediately understood what Brian needed.

He sat down on the arm chair beside the bed and picked up a magazine from the night stand, “get some rest Brian, I will be right here.”

Brian grinned at him weakly and murmured, “thank you, Roger.”

**

When John first woke up to the rather brightly lit hospital room, he couldn’t tell whether he was alive or dead until he heard the familiar banter between Michael and Laura. Since toddler age, those two never stopped fighting. He almost groaned after realizing absolutely everything hurts like bloody hell that he almost wished he could go back to blissful slumber. John tried to speak but his voice was much hoarser than he expected so it was barely above a whisper. A bit frustrated, he ended up clearing his throat.

“Dad! You are finally awake!” Laura shrieked when she turned around as she heard John trying to clear his throat. She immediately threw her arms around her father’s neck. “You had us all so worried! How do you feel?”

John winced slightly when Laura’s arm hit a sore spot on his right shoulder, but it was totally worth it in his opinion. “I’m sorry princess. I feel pretty good now that you are here.” It was a lie, John felt like shit as he is getting use to the pain.

Robert woke up from his impromptu nap with Laura’s excitement. Rubbing his eyes, he shot John a blinding bright smile, “glad to see you back with us Dad.” He leaned down and gave his father a gentle hug.

“Michael, aren’t you going to say something now that Dad is awake?” Laura pulled her brother to John’s bedside.

John struggled to sit up in bed which Robert immediately helped, rearranging the pillows for his father. Ever since his divorce with Veronica, all the encounters with his second oldest son had never been pleasant. John tried to grin brightly at Michael, but the effort still came out to be hesitant at the best. “Thank you for coming Michael.” John said in a raspy voice.

To his surprise though, the blond boy sat down by the bedside and buried his head in John’s shoulder, even careful enough to avoid the dressing on the wound.

“I’m sorry Dad, for everything. For all the nasty things I said, for the way I treated you. I still love you Dad, though it did take you being hurt for me to realize that. I spent all last night praying that you would be okay so I have a chance to apologize. And if it wasn’t for Robbie being so brave to donate his blood to you, I really may not ever have that chance. I’m sorry Dad, a thousand times.” Michael blabbered between his sobs.

John felt his eyes stung with tears as he felt the wetness through his hospital gown. Finally, Michael forgave him. “It’s okay Michael. What I did to your mother and all of you was abominable. I deserve all the wrath from you. I am so lucky that all of you are so forgiving to me.”

After he let go of Michael, John glanced over at his oldest son. Robert looked a bit pale and tired, leaning his head on the back of the arm chair. John himself was merely a boy when he became Robert’s father. There were times through the years he can’t help selfishly thinking if it wasn’t for Veronica being pregnant with Robert, he would have just broken off the engagement with her and never had to drag out the lie for seventeen years. But now he wouldn’t give it up for the world. He’s fortunate to have Robert as a son, who had grown up to be a wonderful young man.

“Thank you, son.” Green eyes twinkling with gratitude, John said to Robert.

Robert grinned at his father sheepishly, “what are you talking about Dad. I was glad to do it. I just wished my blood type was a closer match then I would have been able to help you more, made the doctors’ jobs easier.”

“As far as I know, you saved my life.” John smiled. He looked around the small ICU room, obviously hoping to see someone else. When he couldn’t find him, his face dropped a bit.

As if reading his father’s mind, he shot Laura a hinting look and Laura nodded briefly. “Come on Michael, let’s go downstairs to the cafeteria to see if we can find some cheese and toast that Dad likes.” She started dragging her brother toward the door.

“I’m pretty sure Dad can’t eat that yet Laura.” Michael reluctantly followed her sister.

“Then we will find some gooey stuff that he is allowed to have. We will ask the nurse on the way…”

After the brother and sister are out of the room leaving John a bit perplexed what the siblings are playing at, Robert got up and sat by John’s bedside.

“Dad, Emily is fine. No cuts, nothing broken, just has a sprained ankle. I didn’t hear the full story from Emily but it is a pretty heroic thing you did, Dad.” Robert commented proudly, “just next time be more careful. I don’t think we can all go through this again.”

John chuckled, “I’m sorry. Emily is just a child after all, there is no way I could leave her behind.” He played with his blanket with his long fingers and lowered his eyes. “Robbie, I didn’t want to ask in front of Michael and Laura,” John continued hesitantly. “Is Brian alright? If you don’t want to answer, that’s fine…”

Robert smiled, “it’s okay Dad. Brian is also fine. He was here all night while you were in surgery, we all were. It was a difficult night for everyone, but I think especially for him. The surgeon who operated on you..” Robert leaned in a bit and lowered his voice, “I think is a bit homophobic and not very nice to Brian. When Brian wasn’t allowed to give you his blood to help save you, that hit him hard. He wanted to stay badly but the rule here is ICU is for family only. I guess the doctor didn’t consider Brian to be family so he had to leave.”

John sniffled his nose a bit, sadness washed over him at the mention of Brian not able to visit. As much as his heart ached, he knew right now Brian must feel ten times worse.

“Thanks Robbie, for being so understanding. I know it’s difficult…” John mumbled.

The young man shook his head, “it’s actually not. I had a difficult time to comprehend years ago when you and Mum first split. But now I see it. It’s quite simple. You love each other. I actually didn’t think I saw how much you loved each other until last night, but just seeing the look on Brian’s face, as if he would rather die. Then everything became clear. The more I thought about it, the more I agree why should it be different from any other two people who love each other. And he had such good self-control, didn’t even flinch when Michael punched him.”

“Michael what?” John shot up his eyes, looking at Robert in surprise.

Robert laughed lightly, “yes, Michael was a mess last night. I honestly thought he would have punched Emily but he punched Brian instead. No major harm done though, just a bruised jaw and cut lip. He feels horrible about it. I’m sure he will apologize soon.”

John shook his head, “we need to do something about his temper.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure Brian will be able to visit as soon as you are out of the ICU.” Robert patted John’s knee encouragingly after still sensing John’s disappointment not being able to see Brian.

John smiled sadly, leaned back on the pillow and dozed off under the influence of the residual sedative effects of anesthetic.

Chapter Text

When Brian woke up from his nap, he could actually feel a soft ray of sunshine on his face. Outside the window, the sky had cleared up for the first time in god knows how long. He turned around, the arm chair Roger occupied was empty and the clock on the night stand showed 1:30pm.

Brian rubbed his eyes, grabbed phone that was by the bedside and dialed Chrissie’s number.

“Hey Brian.” Chrissie recognized his voice immediately. “Jimmy told us John was going to be okay. Thank God! How are you holding up? At Roger’s?”

“Yeah,” Brian replied. “I just woke up, wanted to make sure you guys knew John was going to be fine.”

“Next few days, I will go to hospital to visit him and thank him for saving our little girl’s life. I can’t imagine what would have happened if it wasn’t for him thinking fast enough.” Chrissie’s voice was shaky on the other end. “And Brian, no more hard feelings. I’m glad we are okay now.”

The words were heartfelt, making the guitarist grin from ear to ear. “I’m glad too Chrissie. You have no idea. By the way, is Emily around?”

“Yeah.” Brian heard Chrissie calling for Emily on the other end.

“Hey Dad,” Brian can’t help but smile to his youngest daughter’s cheerful voice, “how are you feeling? Did you finally get some sleep?”

“Yes Emily. I am doing well. How is your ankle? Does it still hurt?”

“Only when I walk on it. I want to go visit Uncle John. When can I go visit him?”

“When your ankle gets better Em. And Uncle John needs rest too. He was hurt pretty bad. We can go in a couple of days. I’m sure your Mum will take you.”

“Okay. I can’t wait to see him.” Brian could see Emily pouting on the other end. “Just tell him I love him when you go visit.”

Brian felt his heart twinge a bit. He would do just about anything to be with John right now, but he suspected it would be very difficult. After hanging up the phone with his daughter, Brian jumped out of bed and changed. Damn it, they can stop him, but he was going to try.

When he got downstairs, Roger was sitting by the couch in the den, still reading his magazine. Some obsessions never change, Brian chuckled. Since thirty years ago, it’s always Brian looking at stars, Roger reading magazine, and John building little devices. Freddie, Brian thought with sorrow, if he was still alive, would be playing with his cats.

“Rog, how is it so quiet? And where did you hide my car keys?” Brian walked up to the drummer.

“Deb took Rufus and Lilly to her mother’s for the afternoon.” Roger grabbed the keys from the counter behind him, “where are you planning to go?”

“Hospital.” Brian snatched the keys from Roger.

“Oh, we can go visit Deaky?” Roger got up excitedly, “then I’m going with you.”

Brian sighed, “I don’t know. The arse of the doctor specified that ICU was family visitation only, but I want to give it a shot. Maybe he’s not there.”

“It’s worth a shot.” Roger shrugged his shoulders. “I will still come with you.”

**

“Visitors for John Deacon?” The receptionist at the nursing station eyed them suspiciously, “he already has quite a crowd in there with him. ICU is strictly for family visitors only.”

“We are family.” Roger replied defensively. “We are his brothers.” When the receptionist raised her neatly plucked eyebrows, Roger blurted, “I mean cousins.”

Brian covered his face with his palm.

“I’m sorry gentlemen. I will have to ask you to leave. The limit for visitor in the unit is three at a time and he already have three kids in there with him right now. You can come visit when he gets moved to a private room in regular nursing floor. The visitation rules are more lenient there.”

However, just as she finished talking, she turned around to answer the phone. Roger dragged Brian with him and they snuck into the ICU behind the receptionist’s back.

“What the hell are you doing Roger? If we get kicked out of this hospital, I may not be able to visit Deaky for as long as he is here.” Though sounding agitated in a whisper, Brian did not slow down his footsteps.

“Be quiet. Do you not want to see Deaky?” Roger shushed his friend.

Coincidentally, they saw Josh walking out of a room with his two younger brothers Cameron and Luke.

“Uncle Brian, Uncle Roger.” Cameron waved at them. “You coming to visit Dad?”

Brian nodded awkwardly while Roger greeted them. “How is your Dad?”

“He’s asleep. He seemed so tired, just talked to us for about 10 minutes before falling back asleep.” Cameron replied sadly.

Josh looked around, as if checking for the whereabouts of John’s nurse. He pointed to the glass door about twenty feet away, “he’s in there if you want to peek at him. But be quick, his nurse is really Nurse Ratched.”

“Thanks mate,” Roger patted Josh’s head and rushed toward John’s room hauling Brian with him.

John laid there with eyes closed, peaceful appearance on his face, but looking incredibly small in the huge ICU bed, especially with the oxygen tubing around his nose. The deep cut on his right cheek went directly to Brian’s heart. Cords, lines and drains came out of the blanket the bassist was tucked under. Brian bit his lip when he saw the edge of the bandage wrapped around John’s right shoulder poking above the blanket. He was almost scared to see how much wounds the younger man actually suffered on his body.

“Deaky!” Voice hoarse like sand paper, Brian rushed to John’s bedside. Afraid to mess or accidentally disconnect a line or cord that might be lifesaving, he reached out and tenderly brushed caressed John’s face with his trembling fingers, ghosting over the ugly cut. John did not wake up, but leaned to his touch even in his sleep.

“What are you doing here?” Brian almost jumped up at angry high-pitched voice that came from behind him. Josh was not joking, a plump woman red-head woman wearing a tight nursing uniform skirt in her forties stood by the doorway with her hands on her hips.

“We didn’t know we weren’t allowed in. No one stopped us so we just came to see John.” Roger spread his hands and shrugged his shoulders, batting his eyelashes to act innocent.

“The ICU is for family only. Please leave now or I will call security.” Nurse Ratched yelled attracting other nurses to come through the door.

“It’s okay. It’s okay.” A calming voice came from behind a crowd of white uniforms, Brian breathed out in relief when he saw Robert squeezing through the group of nurses. “You ladies know them. They are my Dad’s closest friends, practically same as family.”

“I don’t care if they are John Major, Bill Clinton, Princess Diana or the bloody Queen. They need to leave now!”

“They are leaving now, no worries. Come on Brian, Roger.” Robert beaconed them to follow him.

Once safely in the ICU waiting room, Roger let out a deep breath, “blimey, that was fun.”

“I haven’t been humiliated like that for a long time. Thank you, Roger.” Brian said sarcastically.

Robert shook his head, “I’m surprised they are this strict here, especially Caroline. I tried calling your mobile phone earlier Brian, but I think it’s out of battery. Dad’s doing pretty well, just need to sleep off the residual anesthetic. The doctor said he should be able to be moved to regular nursing floor tomorrow or the day after. You guys can come visit then with no restrictions.”

“Thank you, Robert. I was just hoping I could get a glimpse of…” Brian blushed. He lowered his head and shuffled his feet. Embarrassed was an understatement. Facing a man young enough to be his son, Brian felt he was behaving like a teenager in love.

Robert chuckled, “I understand. Don’t worry, I will give you a call everyday for updates and let you know as soon as you can come hover over Dad.”

Brian practically turned into a shade of purple.

**

As they were driving away from the hospital, Roger whistled, “that was fun.”

“Yes, please remind me to never bring you anywhere again.” Brian remarked.

“I don’t know why you are complaining. You got to see Deaky didn’t you? Would you have seen him if I didn’t come with you?” Roger teased with smirk.

Brian shook his head. In his heart though, the guitarist was secretly happy to get to see his love. He would sleep better tonight but would never admit it to Roger.

“What are you planning to do now Brian?” The drummer yawned beside him.

Brian realized only then that he was driving rather aimlessly. “I guess I will have to get my life back in order.” He replied cynically, “first by getting some cloth that fit me.”

“Ungrateful bastard.” Roger muttered.

When they passed by the neighborhood Brian was still living in the previous day, he suddenly got the urge wanting to see his burnt down house, to see exactly how much damage was done. However, as soon as they got out of the car, Brian regretted the decision. The spot where their house occupied was now a pile of black ashes. All those memories of his first home with John, all the old records, old photographs, all gone. Beside him, Roger was quiet. It was obvious the stark contrast between the house and the hill of debris had left the drummer a bit shaken. Especially when he realized just how close he was to losing his two best friends.

“Mr. Brian May and Mr. Roger Taylor.” Brian turned toward the two men in suit and ties walking toward them from the side of the house, one is stout with receding hair line in his middle age, the one is younger and leaner with sharp features and short light brown hair.

“I’m inspector Foster and this is Sergeant Jones from Metropolitan police. We are tasked with investigating whether there were any possible foul play surrounding the fire at your house.” The two men extended their hands to Brian and Roger which they shook politely.

“Nice to meet you and glad you are here. I do think this fire is rather odd.” Brian nodded.

“Well, since we are fortunate enough to catch you two gentlemen here, would you have time to give us a statement now so we don’t have to ask you to make a trip to the station?” The inspector asked.

“Sure thing. There is a café two blocks from here, would you like to go there? It’s a bit chilly to talk on the street.” Brian suggested.

“Agreed.”

They drove to the café Brian mentioned and meet the coppers there, lucky it was rather empty in the middle of the afternoon. After everyone got settled and ordered their drinks, Brian started, “I wasn’t actually here when it happened. I can only tell you what I saw and the recount from my daughter Emily. You should ask John, when he gets better.”

“We will.” Inspector Foster was a bit short, seemed annoyed at the guitarist telling him how to do his job.

“Well, I came home around 5:30 in the afternoon and saw the house was already lighting up in flames. My daughter Emily was sitting on a gurney and John was still trapped inside.” Brian paused a bit, still shuddering from the dreadful image from the previous day. “After we were in the hospital, Emily told us that they were upstairs. She was doing her homework while John fell asleep. It was less than an hour before she felt it getting too warm and smoke too heavy. She woke John up, they went downstairs and saw the raging flames. The fire had progressed rather fast.”

“What kind of stove do you have Mr. May?” Sergeant Jones asked.

“Gas stove. But we never had a problem with leaking before. We are very careful about that.” Brian added.

“How about Emily? She’s only 9 or 10 right? She might have turned on the stove by accident while Mr. Deacon was asleep.” The inspector mentioned.

“No, she would not to such a thing.” Roger immediately shook his head, “Emily is very bright and extremely mature for her age.”

Roger would always stand up for friends. Brian smiled.

The inspector shrugged his heavy shoulders, “through the debris, we did find some old fraying electrical wires that would easily ignite a spark especially in the dry weather during the winter months. With favorable oxidizing conditions and combustible gas like butane or propane, fire would get out of control very fast. That’s how more than 95% of house fires start.”

“It can’t be that easy.” Brian shook his head. “I can feel there is something malicious about this fire. I know it has been dry weather recently and some of the electrical wires in around the house are old. We haven’t gotten around to replacing there, but there is no leakage with the gas cylinder or stove.”

“Kids get very curious sometimes and touch things that’s dangerous.” The sergeant said with a smug and nonchalant tone that really got Brian and Roger riled up.

“Emily is ten years old and she’s not stupid.” Brian’s head was feeling heated and getting defensive.

“Alright Mr. May.” Sense the tension around the table, Inspector Foster beaconed his subordinate to be quiet, “do you or Mr. Deacon have any enemies that you can think of who might have done this.”

Brian leaned back on his chair. He had been so worried about John’s condition and did not yet have a chance to think about this carefully. He does have speculations though. A lot of things happening over the past couple of years, seemingly unrelated, now the dots start to connect together.

“There might be.” Brian said slowly, still deep in thought, “two years ago, not too long after John publicly announced our relationship, we did receive threatening letters in the mail and dead-end phone calls for a while, few months I would say. I also had some prank pulled on my car, like slashed tire or broken windshield.”

“Brian! Why didn’t you tell me?” Roger exclaimed beside him.

“Why didn’t you bring it to the attention of the police at the time?” Inspector Foster asked.

“Because there was absolutely no trace of evidence. We didn’t want to waste your time, waste tax payer’s money, or have the press get a wind and say nasty things about it. We thought at the time it would just be pranks, as long as nothing serious occurred and our kids weren’t affected, we would let it go. Now I do realize that we should have taken it more seriously than we did. But those pranks did stop.” Brian bit his lip and sighed deeply.

“Do you still have those threatening letters?”

Brian shook his head. “Well of course not! They would have been burnt in the fire, wouldn’t they?!” Answering for the guitarist, Roger snapped.

“Then I’m sorry. But we can’t help you in pursuing that line of inquiry. You should have brought it to the police attention at the time, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. But unlikely though because in our professional opinion this fire is most probably accidental. Think about it, Mr. May. Not only your house is secured by a lock, there is 10 feet tall fence surrounding your yard that is also secured by a lock. Yes, you can say they don’t need to get into your house to start a fire, but they have to get close to your house to have the fire posing any danger to the people inside. That means they would have to get in the yard. It wasn’t broad daylight, but it was still tea time and plenty of people were about. To climb a 10 feet tall fence, not only extremely difficult, but very noticeable.” Inspector Foster was trying to sound reasonable, but Brian was still annoyed by his condescending tone.

“They must have the key to the yard!” Brian proclaimed.

“What? Did you lose the key?”

“Yes, we did.” Brian nodded. Like a light flash went on in his head, this all made sense now. “We had a personal assistant about 4 years ago, when the reporters were camping outside our house. He had a set of keys to the house and the yard and he never returned the keys when he left. I changed the locks for the house but since the yard had a different kind of lock and the locksmith at that time couldn’t do it. I forgot to change the yard lock all this time! Oh shit!” Brian gritted his teeth and folded his hands into fists.

“Who is this personal assistant?”

“His name is Kyle. I can’t remember his last name. Our manager introduced him to us. I can ask him.”

The inspector and his sergeant glanced at each other quickly, clearly not really interested in finding out who this Kyle person is.

“Mr. May, that was four years ago. Even if all those events are connected, which I doubt, it makes no sense for anyone to wait this long to set a simple fire which really doesn’t need a lot of planning and risk you changing the locks. Those threatening letters to warn you before they do this made even less sense.” Inspector Foster shook his head. “But for completeness sake, we will look into this Kyle person and we will take statements from your daughter Emily and Mr. Deacon.” The two police officers were getting ready to leave.

“Well, if that’s the stance you are going to take I would rather you not see them. I don’t want you blaming this on my daughter and my partner.” Brian bellowed in a low voice.

“We have to get statements from them regardless Mr. May. It’s our job.” The inspector rolled his eyes dramatically before they left, but it did not escape Brian and Roger how they flinched uncomfortably when Brian referred to John ‘my partner’.

After the two coppers left, Roger shook his head in disgust. “The Mets are full of wankers. Glad to see that’s how are tax money are being spent. No wonder this country is going to the gutter. I bet they would mark this case an accident as soon as the paperwork is done.”

Brian was quiet. The sudden wash of guilt eating him alive. If only he remembered to change the locks to the yard, maybe none of this would have happened?

Roger was becoming concerned with Brian’s silence, and the shame clearly written on his face. “Brian? You can’t be thinking this is all your fault. No one could have known. Yes, maybe you should have taken those threatening letters more seriously. I would have brushed them off too. And honestly, it was two years ago so everyone would have forgotten about them.” He put an arm around his friend’s shoulder, “you know what. We will ask Miami to hunt down that Kyle person and grill him for what happened to those keys.”

Brian folded his arms on the table and buried his face in them. He sighed, “no use Roger. It’s too late. There is nothing wrong with Kyle. I bet he has no clue what happened to those keys either. What it comes down to is I should have remembered to change the lock on the yard.”

Chapter Text

John was utterly relieved to be finally moved out of the ICU after two days. That room was too small, too loud, too many people in and out, and smelt horrible. Now this room on the nursing floor is private, huge compared to his old room, and had a window. Despite the gray sky and dreary fog that was classic to January weather in England, John was glad to be able to finally see some natural daylight. The next feat, John thought, was to convince the doctors to let him leave.

But to go where though? John considered sadly, now that the first home he shared with Brian is gone. John learnt from Robert that Brian had been staying with Roger for the last couple of days which made John feel slightly better. At least someone is with him and looking after him. John is usually a diffident person, but after the life-threatening event and the depressing environment that is the hospital, he missed his love desperately.

“Hi Dad, you look much happier today. This room is not bad, much improved from before.” Michael walked through the door and greeted him with cheerful voice.

“Hey Michael,” John grinned at his son. “I hope you are not skipping classes this morning.”

“Of course not.” The young man giggled, “my first class is at 10. Ready for your tea?” He handed John a cup of Earl Grey.

John took the cup with his left hand. His right arm still hurt quite a bit whenever he tries to move it due to the burn on the shoulder. He had a sip, relishing in the calming aroma. “Hmm, this is excellent. It must not be from the cafeteria downstairs.”

“Of course not. The tea in that cafeteria taste like sewage water. This is from the coffee shop down the street.”

Michael set his coffee cup on the bedside table and sat down by John’s bed. He gave John a sheepish smile and started slowly, “Dad, there is something I need to tell you.”

John glanced up from his cup of tea.

“The night you were in surgery. I was out of my mind worrying, frustrated and angry. I ended up punching Brian because a part of me blamed him for everything that had happened.” Michael lowered his head, “I’m really sorry.”

John chuckled, “you shouldn’t apologize to me Michael. I wasn’t at the receiving end of your fist.” He patted Michael’s shoulder affectionately, “don’t worry about it. It’s understandable. Brian wouldn’t be mad at you. But I think you should still apologize though.”

Michael nodded. “I will definitely apologize, when I get a chance.”

“Looks like you might have a chance now.” John raised his eyebrows.

Michael turned around. There Brian was, standing by the door, a little startled when he saw Michael by John’s bedside.

Michael walked up to the guitarist. He vaguely remembered when he was merely 4 or 5 years old and John brought him and Robert on tour with them to Brazil, how kind and patient Brian was with them. There was a time that he hated the guitarist with all his guts, almost wishing Brian was dead, because he blamed this man for why his father left. It took a couple of years. Michael was still not able to fully understand, but he was starting to accept.

“Hi Brian, I’m sorry.” Michael bit his lip and apologized. “I was out of my mind that night and it was easier to blame it all on you. I’m very sorry.”

It’s obvious that Brian was more than surprised by the apology from the hot-headed young man. “It’s okay Michael. Don’t worry about it. I’m glad it has worked out.” Brian smiled.

It was a rather awkward moment. Michael shuffling his feet, Brian not know whether any friendly gesture was appropriate, and John just watched from afar with an amused look in his green eyes.

“Right.” Michael mumbled clumsily. “I will have to get to my class.” He turned around and waved at John, “I will come see you later, Dad,” before almost runninging down the hallway then swearing under his breath that he left his coffee on John’s bed-stand.

Brian walked in with timid steps, heart melting when he saw the pair of green eyes shining with love. John was looking at him with a lopsided smile. With messy stumble on his chin and an ugly cut on his cheek, Brian didn’t think he had seen John more beautiful.

“How are you?” John asked, voice still raspy.

It really had only been three days, but to the guitarist, the wait was agonizing. Brian felt his heart was at his throat, and tears wetted his eyes. With overwhelming emotion washing over him, he seemed to have lost the ability to respond. He rushed over to John’s bedside and buried his head on the bassist’s slender left shoulder.

John was a little astounded by Brian’s emotional reaction but quickly cherished the warmth and gentleness of Brian’s hug. He carded his fingers through Brian’s unruly curls. When he felt wetness on his t-shirt and the guitarist’s muffled sobs, John sniffled and moisture began to form in his eyes as well. That day in the heat of the fire when John was really doubting that he would make it out, the lasting he thought was how sad and lonely Brian would be. After finding that letter outlining Brian’s plan for suicide, John made the guitarist promise that he would take good care of himself. Yet John could not accomplish the same thing.

“Gosh Deaky, you are so brave, so selfless. But please don’t ever do that again. I love you so much. Coming home that day, seeing the house in flames, and hearing that you were still inside! I would have ran in to find you if they didn’t stop me. And that night when you were in surgery, I was so scared. I already made the decision I would just quit if you didn’t make it Deaky.” Brian blubbered on John’s shoulder.

Salty tastes were on the tip of his tongue when tears rolled down John’s cheeks. He didn’t want to think about what Brian meant by quitting. “I’m sorry Brian. It was definitely a frightening experience. I think I only made it because I was so worried about you, how you would be able to handle it if I was really gone.”

“I wouldn’t be able to handle it.” Swallowing his sobs, Brian lifted his head from John’s shoulder and looked deeply into those green eyes now also covered with a mist of tears. He cupped John’s face and wiped the tears with the pads of his thumb. The cut on the bassist’s other cheek looked less angry compared to two days ago but still pained Brian to see it. He didn’t even want to think about what other wounds must be on the younger man’s body.

John smiled through his tears, “it’s over though Brian. Emily is okay, and I will be okay.”

“Thank God.” Brian sighed. “The last two days, even though hearing that you are doing better, but not being able to see you, still drove me insane. After Robert called me this morning telling me you are out of the ICU, I came as soon as I could.”

“You didn’t miss anything Brian. I slept most of the time.” John tried to lighten the mood.

“I still wished I was able to be here, just sit by your side, even if I wasn’t able to hold your hand.” Brian sniffled, drying his eyes with a tissue he got from the bedside table.

“I understand Brian.” John said sadly, “Remember when you had hepatitis, like twenty years ago? I felt the same thing, when I stood outside your room and watched through the window when Chrissie sat by your side.”

Brian nodded and offered a wistful smile. During the years that they were both married, Brian always felt he was the more jealousy one. Every time he heard Veronica was pregnant, and that was a lot of times, Brian would feel happy for John to be welcoming a new life into the world. But at the same time, he cannot help feeling a pang of resentment. John never seemed to show the same kind of anguish with him and Chrissie. Now Brian realized he had read the bassist wrong all those years. John had exactly the same struggle as he did. Just imagining John peeking through the window watching him suffering from hepatitis but not able to come in made his heart ache.

He squeezed the bassist’s hand, “I wish there would be a day, we wouldn’t have this issue anymore.”

John shook his head, “I’m not so hopeful Brian. It’s the way it is and we accept it when we chose, you know. But it’s worth it though, every ounce of pain and every drop of tear. I love you Brian.”

“I love you too Deaky.” Brian pecked John on the forehead and eyelids. He wanted to thoroughly snog the younger man but they are far from private in the hospital room.

“How’s the house Brian? Are you staying with Roger now?” John asked, wanting to change the subject.

“I’m afraid the house doesn’t exist anymore Deaky.” Brian sighed, “all that’s left are ashes and debris. Thank god I stored my Red Special and you left your favorite bass guitar at our old studio after we recorded No-one But You. Yes, I am staying with Roger. But I actually just found a great flat for us to stay at temporarily until we sort all the insurance details out and you got better. Then we can buy another house together, for us.”

“A lot of memories gone, our first home together.” John sighed, a forlorn look on his face.

Brian gently brushed John’s cheek with his fingers, “we will create more memories together Deaky, as long as you are here with me. Maybe we can even design and build our own house.”

“That sounds great!” John beamed, but quickly turned into a grimace as the cut on his right cheek burnt when his lips curled too much upward.

“Are you okay?” Brian asked with concern.

John quickly nodded, brushing off the burning pain on his cheek and asked, “how is sweet little Emily? She must be traumatized by the fire.”

Brian shook his head, “she is actually way more mature than we anticipated. She is doing pretty well. Her ankle sprain is healing well and probably can go back to school on Monday. She’s just nagging her mother to come visit you. They will come by tomorrow probably. Chrissie wants to thank you in person for saving Emily’s life.”

“It really wasn’t a big deal.” John commented sheepishly. “I didn’t think too much about it.”

“Don’t ever say that Deaky. What you did was heroic. You are the strongest and bravest person I know. And as Emily’s father, I want to thank you too for saving her life.” Brian paused a bit before continuing, “but as your partner though, I wish you would be safe and well. I wish I could protect you from all the danger.”

Partner. John pondered joyously. He liked the sound of that.

“Deaky!” Roger’s exclamation broke the moment of sweetness between the couple. The drummer, with a flashy leather jacket and sunglasses, waltzed through the door. He pushed Brian out of the way and enveloped John in a bear hug.

“Careful with his wounds and dressings Roger.” Brian scolded from behind.

“Of course, Brian. I’m not dumb, despite what you may believe.” Roger rolled his eyes while carefully releasing John back to his pillow cushion.

“I hope I didn’t interrupt anything.” Roger put his hand up. “I already give Brian a thirty-minute start.”

“As if you care.” Brian muttered under your breath.

“You never interrupt Roger. Always great to see you.” John gave the drummer a toothy grin.

“Oh my God you gave me a good scare Deaky.” Roger rambled on as he pulled a chair for himself beside John’s bed, “I just got settled on the train from Paris when I saw the news reporting your and Brian’s house had been burnt down and you were in critical condition. I spent the whole ride panicking and taxied to the hospital as soon as the train arrived at the station. Thank God you are okay, grumpy here is okay, and Emily is okay.”

Roger joked lightly as he always did, but John could tell what a horrific train ride that must have been for the blond drummer.

“I’m sorry Roger.” John reached out with his left hand and messed with Roger’s hair causing the blond to smack his hand away, “I feel sorrier for you that you are stuck with Brian right now.”

“I know right?” Roger stuck of his tongue, “such an ungrateful bastard. I don’t know how we dealt with him day in and day out all those years ago. I don’t know how you still deal with him now.”

“Hey, I’m still here.” Brian added sarcastically.

Those light-hearted moments always felt so good. They are almost back to twenty-five years ago when they were young and carefree, when the four of them shared the same flat and felt like all they had in the world were each other, and that was okay. Thank you Freddie, for saving me from the blazing fire. John whispered silently to their dead beloved friend never doubting the singer was the guardian angel for all of them. Are you watching us? Are you missing us just like we are missing you, wishing you were here?

Chapter Text

The rest of John’s stay in the hospital was thankfully uneventful. Chrissie brought Emily with her to visit John and thanked him sincerely. It was very heart warming. After many difficult years, finally both finally families made peace with Brian and his relationship. It was worth it to be almost killed in the fire in John’s opinion.

Cameron would bring his homework and finished them on the small table in John’s hospital room. Laura would bring in scones she baked at home. Robert and Michael would come by whenever they didn’t have morning class. Josh and Luke came less often but would always visit their father when they were done with classes and extra-curricular activities. John was very thankful for his considerate children. It even seemed like they organized their trips to the hospital to be separate so John always had someone to chat with but not so many people to tire him out.

It was a rather busy time for Brian. He wanted to make sure he had the flat ready in living conditions, make sure all paperwork for the insurance claim on the house was in order so they would have the fund to build their new house as soon as possible. He tried going to the Mets and get some updates on the development of the case from Inspector Foster. Just as he and Roger expected, they did the absolute minimum they needed to do to close the case and written it off as gas leak accident. The eagle nosed sergeant took statements from both John and Emily. But it was obvious he only did so because it was required of him. He showed no interest in knowing more information about the events that could have led to the fire. At least he wasn’t condescending to them, Brian sighed.

Brian and Roger tried to pursue their own investigation by bombarding Miami regarding the whereabouts of Kyle. Miami told them on the next day that Kyle was still in Germany, now married and settled down there with family. That set of keys to Brian’s house and yard was unfortunately lost years ago. And their only line of evidence led to a dead end.

These things made Brian feel extremely uneasy. It could be all coincidence like those homophobic lazy arses in the Mets believe, but Brian highly doubted that. He thought it was way more likely there are still some mad freaks out there wishing him and John dead for whatever reason. Brian was sure he and John were the targets of the fire. Emily was just unlucky to be there at the wrong time. The prospect of them striking again made him shudder and wishing he could keep an eye on John every single second.

Of course, that was not possible. Brian had to run around the city trying to get their lives back in order. He would spend every night in John’s rooms though, despite the bassist’s protest. John’s concern was valid. Those were not well rested nights for Brian. He constantly had the same nightmare of the fire burning down the house, but this time, they were too late and John never made it out. When he sat up on his sleeping bag in the middle of the night in cold sweat, the silent hospital hallway albeit for incessant monitor beeps and nurses’ light steps seemed fearfully eerie. Brian felt he was jumping out of his skin and even wished he could have a shot of brandy or scotch to calm his nerves.  He would get up and sit by John’s bedside, watching the younger man in equally nervous slumber, with frown knitted between his eyebrows and beads of sweat on his forehead.

John recovered rather fast considering the ordeal he had been through. Tubes and lines were removed, dressings got smaller, and John was even able to walk using crutches with his pinned femur. After a long ten days in the hospital, John was finally able to convince the doctors to let him leave.

**

“So what do you think Deaky?” Brian asked excitedly as he pushed John’s wheelchair inside the doors of their new flat in Sutton.

John got up with his clutches and walked inside. It was a medium sized flat, two bedrooms, a den, a living room and dining area. Modernly furnished and minimally decorated, everything inch of the flat screams Brian. The space could not be compared to the house they lived in before, but it was sweet and cozy. John was thoroughly impressed that Brian could pull this off in one week, operating on minimal sleep. It did not escape John that Brian must have not slept more than 4 hours every night in that hospital room. The dark circles under his eyes and increasing strands of graying curls made it apparent.

“It’s incredible Brian. And even more fascinating to think you did all this in a week, among hundreds of other things I’m sure. Thank you.” John limped back to the guitarist at the landing and leaned into him, nuzzling his head on the taller man’s shoulder.

Brian wrapped his arm around John’s waist and rubbed small circles on his back. “It’s nothing compared to what you had done Deaky.” He helped John inside and settled him on the couch in the living room then went to put away the wheel chair.

“It reminds of the flat the four of us shared twenty-five years ago.” John sighed blissfully.

“Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad. I thought you like this place.” Brian pretended to be angry.

“I do. What’s wrong with the flat we all shared? It was nice.”

“Really? The radiator only worked half of the time. There was only enough hot water for one of us to wash our hair each day. By the way, when it’s finally my turn to wash my hair, I was never able to finish the shower without shivering in cold water. The stove that takes forty minutes to boil a pot of water. The kitchen window that never shuts properly. The walls are so paper thin that whenever Roger brought back a girl, it’s like live porno.”

John giggled as he reminisced all those things that Brian mentioned. “We all had long hair back then Brian. I still miss that time though. We had barely enough money to live on but no care in the world. I wasn’t convinced we could make a living with Queen even after our second record album. But I always thought that was the best times. It was so much fun and life was so simple.”

“Yeah, until you had to go propose to Veronica and got her pregnant and made everything complicated.” Brian regretted as soon as those words left his mouth. He walked over to the bassist and wanted to kick himself when he saw John’s flushed cheeks and the dejected look in his green eyes.

“Deaky, I’m sorry. I don’t know what I’m saying.” Brian sat beside the bassist on the couch and cupped his face, feeling the warmth of the crimson cheek.

“It’s okay Brian. You are right.” John said bitterly, “it wouldn’t have been so complicated and so difficult for everyone if I didn’t mess it up in the beginning.”

Brian pulled John in for a hug and John naturally leaned his head on Brian’s shoulder. “You did what you thought was the best at the time. There is nothing wrong with that. What we did over the years was abominable by many standards, but it’s all alright now. Everyone forgave us. Veronica, your kids, Chrissie, my kids, we are all okay now Deaky.”

John nodded. “Still, if I had just a bit more courage back then, breaking up with Ronnie instead of proposing to her. I probably would have made everyone’s lives much easier. There wouldn’t have been so much guilt, disappointment, anger, and tears. And if it wasn’t for Freddie, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to confront Ronnie with the truth five years ago.”

“I was equally a twat for marrying Chrissie.” Brian murmured. Then he heard the mention of Freddie’s name he got utterly confused. Brian moved them apart a bit so he could look at John’s face.

“Freddie?” Brian asked curiously, “how? I thought you didn’t go see Fred until his funeral.”

“No, I didn’t.” John mumbled sadly, “but Freddie gave me a hint.”

“What hint?”

John smiled mischievously and buried his head in Brian’s chest, avoiding his questioning gaze. “It doesn’t matter anymore Brian. I’m just glad I did.”

“You are not going to tell me?” John chuckled as he could hear the older man pout. He shook his head and continued to nuzzle in Brian’s neck. The guitarist laughed and wrapped his arm around the younger man. Those quiet moments were those that he cherished the most and didn’t want to end.  

“Brian?” John murmured, still cocooned in Brian’s hold.

“Hmm?”

“What do you think of the fire? I kept thinking about it in the hospital. It’s very suspicious. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem the copper had much interest in investigating it.” John felt Brian’s arms froze around him. John lifted his head up and looked at the guitarist. Brian’s handsome features was marred with torment and agony filled his hazel eyes.

“Brian, what’s wrong?” John reached up and touched Brian’s face.

“Deaky, it’s all my fault.” Brian’s voice cracked. He was hoping in vain that John would not ask about that.

John frowned with concern, “what are you talking about Brian?”

Brian took a deep breath, “do you remember Kyle? He was the PA we had a couple of years back. When he left, he never returned the keys to us. It turns out he lost them long time ago. I told you I changed the locks just to be safe. But I didn’t. The lock of the house had been changed but not to the yard. And I think that’s how the fire was set. Some bastards came through the yard, poured petroleum around the house and lit it on fire.”

“But why? We don’t have any enemies Brian. I can’t think of anyone who would do such a thing. No one hate us that much except, oh shit...” John’s eyes widened and he clapped his hand to his mouth with a horrified expression on his face, “those threatening mails a while ago, was it like in ’95?”

“I think so.” Brian replied stoically.

“But they stopped. It was only for a few months then they completely stopped.” John gasped, “how is it your fault Brian? It’s my fault. I shrugged those off and called you a worry wart.”

“No, if I remembered to change those damn locks in the last four years. None of this would have happened. You wouldn’t have almost died.” Brian’s whole body quivered when the ‘d’ word came from his mouth.

John sighed, wrapping his arm around the older man’s waist, he winced at the pain on his right shoulder due to the uncomfortable position but decided to ignore it. “Brian, don’t do this to yourself. We both should have been more careful but it, but ultimately, it’s those sick bastards who are to blame. What I’m worried about is whether those bastards are still out there. Are they going to try again? Are they going to go after our kids.”

“I think our kids are safe, thank god. Whatever problem they have seems to be solely aimed at us, not even Roger. Emily being there was probably just pure bad luck. But I’m afraid they will strike again Deaky. The Mets wrote the case off to accidental fire already. Miami and Kyle couldn’t offer any help. Just promise me to be careful, okay Deaky?” Brian lightly kissed John’s thinning hair.

“I will if you can promise the same thing.”