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Divided Demons

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The studio is relatively cold, but that doesn’t bother the duo singing their collaborative duet. Kiki and Elton sing with bright smiles, their eyes playfully entranced in each other’s as they sing and dance to the song. Elton feels contempt for a moment, feeling lively and rightly distracted from the looming loneliness that tends to shadow him every hour of every day.

Elton glances towards the large window encasing the recording booth, still smiling brightly as he makes eye contact with the sound engineer who also seems to be smiling and enjoying his job at that moment as well. Then he walks in, seemingly slicing through the positive atmosphere with his intense presence; Elton feels his blood run cold and his stomach do about a thousand summersaults a second as he makes direct eye contact with the man.

John Fucking Reid gives him the brightest smile, easing into the atmosphere to everyone else, but to Elton, he feels like all of the dominos he struggled to set up have suddenly collapsed on him. He feels a little more boiling hot as each second goes by, and he even wipes some excess sweat that begins to form on his forehead. He clears his throat as he feels more sweat on his neck dripping down his back and he sings an awkward note, unable to look away from those cerulean blue eyes. Reid’s dashing smile sends Elton’s heart rate beating at cardiac arrest levels, and the musician smiles apologetically at Kiki, placing his hand on her shoulder and waving to the sound engineer.

“Uh, let’s take a break,” Elton says with red beginning to dust his neck and ears.

“Yeah, alright,” the engineer replies through the scratchy intercom with a toothy grin. Ray Williams smiles and gives an encouraging thumbs up from behind the engineer, but Elton barley notices as his attention is distracted between Kiki Dee and John Reid.

Kiki smiles at Elton, resting her hand on his upper arm before retreating into the sound booth. Elton leans over awkwardly as he watches Reid disappear towards the door into the studio, and he nervously adjusts his shirt and wipes his hair in place, hoping he looks somewhat presentable. Kiki and Reid brush passed each other, smiling politely at one another before she enters the sound booth and Reid closes the door behind her, turning to face Elton with a smirk playing at his lips.

“John, it’s good to - uh, so you’re here?” Elton stumbles over his words, awkwardly leaning against the music stand with a bashfully dopey grin spreading widely across his face.

“I’m back for business and I promised I would come see you, did I not?” Reid replies with a raised brow and a knowing smirk. Elton lets out a breathy chuckle as he cards his fingers through his hair before flattening it out again out of nervous habit.

“Hey, Elton -” Elton jumps at the startling sound from the intercom and looks over at Ray who is bent over the microphone, “- you wanna try again or go for a pint?” Ray asks with an innocent smile. Kiki is leaning against the board beside him and smiles knowingly at the sound engineer before quirking her brow at Elton, as if silently challenging him.

Elton’s eyesight is soon distracted by John Reid slowly backing up towards the broom closet. He opens it and leans against the back wall, smiling devilishly at Elton and beckoning him over with a deliberate wave of his hand. Elton’s smile grows as he stares lovingly at Reid, his face bursting aflame as he waves dismissively at Ray.

“Yeah, you should go for a pint…” Elton says dismissively, not breaking eye contact with John Reid. As he saunters towards the broom closet, Kiki and the sound engineer chuckle light-heartedly as Ray leans back and lifts his brows at them in confusion. Kiki drags Ray out as the engineer follows, and Elton quickly closes himself and Reid into the cupboard before urgently pressing into the man, kissing him passionately.

Elton fervently kisses Reid, his fingers dancing across the man’s back and carding up into his dark hair as he is shoved against the wall. The other deepens the kiss for a moment before they both pull away, panting and gasping for air. Elton nervously flattens his hair, smiling like a dopey teenager in love and clears his throat nervously.

“I missed you,” Reid says in a low voice, leaning his forehead against Elton’s.

“I missed you too,” Elton replies with his eyes shut. He smiles as he continues to lean his head against Reid’s lovingly.

Elton goes in for another kiss, but Reid straightens up, lifting his wrist to look at his watch. “Shit, I have a lunch meeting in thirty minutes,” Reid looks at Elton and smiles at him, pressing his palm against Elton’s cheek and smiling wider when the red-headed musician leans into his touch. “Unfortunately this reunion must be cut short, my dear.”

Elton nods in understanding and flutters his eyes shut when Reid pecks another kiss on his lips. Elton sighs and opens his eyes, watching in a daze as Reid straightens himself up and opens the closet door. Elton finally recognizes that a broom has fallen on him at some point during their heated makeout session, and he awkwardly straightens himself and the closet before exiting after Reid.

“I’ll see you around, Elton,” Reid says as he backs out of the studio, smirking at the man.

“I’d sure hope so. We do work together,” Elton says with a playful grin and a raised brow. Reid rolls his eyes with a gentle grin before leaving the studio. Elton finally breathes again, not realizing he was holding his breath. He gasps and bends over the soundboard, chuckling to himself and shaking his head, bemused.

John Reid exits the building and enters the back of the business car, trying to not look at his watch too often. The driver peels out onto the road and drives through awful traffic. John wonders why in god’s name did he even bother stopping by to see Elton in the first place. Then he remembers the man’s immediate submission to him and he smirks to himself before coughing and attempting to straighten out his appearance.

The car finally pulls into a parking spot on the street outside of a restaurant. He exits the car and meets with Paul Prenter at the entrance to the restaurant's patio, straightening his jacket out and acting suavely nonchalant. Paul checks his watch and then looks at Reid with a raised brow in question.

“Where the hell have you--”

“--I just had to stop by somewhere for business,” Reid interrupts with stoic features. He carelessly looks off towards the tables. “Where are they?”

Paul sighs, slacking his shoulders as he turns and gestures vaguely towards the table of four men with long hair; one of them wearing the flashiest white jacket Reid has ever seen. He offhandedly thinks Elton would like that jacket, but he shakes the thought out and marches forward, not waiting for Paul to follow.

“Get me a drink,” Reid orders. Paul sighs again, stopping in his tracks to steer towards the cafe as Reid walks towards the young band laughing about something unimportant. John Reid suddenly grabs a chair from the neighbouring table and drags it over, not saying anything else as he sits down and looks at them with calculating features. They all nervously adjust themselves and Reid gives a strained smile.

“So this is Queen,” Reid points at the flamboyantly dressed man, “and you must be Freddie Mercury. You’ve got a gift - you all have. So tell me, what makes Queen any different from all of the wannabe rock stars I meet.”

“I’ll tell you what it is,” Freddie says. “We’re four misfits who don’t belong together - playing to the other misfits, the outcasts, right at the back of the room who are pretty sure they don’t belong either.” Reid lets a hint of a smirk play at the corner of his lips as he nods along. “We belong to them.”

“We’re a family,” the curly haired guitarist, Brian May adds with a smile.

“But no two of us are the same,” the blonde drummer, Roger Taylor, says with his eyes hidden behind dark aviators.

A cup is placed in front of Reid, and he looks up, acknowledging the man. “Paul,” Reid says, then looks towards Queen. “Paul Prenter, meet Queen...our new signing.” The four young men try to hold in their smiles of excitement as they all exchange looks with each other. “Paul will be looking after you, day to day--”

“--It’s a pleasure--”

“--If I can get you on the radio, then maybe I can get you on television,” Reid explains, ignoring Paul’s interruptive quip.

“Top of the pops?” Roger asks, trying to hide his smile.

“Hopefully,” Reid replies.

“And then?” Freddie asks, gesticulating his hand in an almost dismissive wave, urging Reid to go on.

Reid smirks. “ And then the only biggest television program in the country...no one’s even heard of ya…” Reid says as John and Roger struggle to hold back nervous laughter. “Look, I admire your enthusiasm. If it goes well - if it happens, I’ve got a promotion tour in Japan in mind…”

Freddie nods, looking off and pulling his lips in a thin line. He nervously rubs his fingers together and flicks his head towards John Reid. “We - we’ll want more…”

“Every band wants more,” Reid says with a lifted brow.

“Every band’s not Queen,” the quiet but resourceful bassist, John Deacon, quips in, causing everyone to proudly smirk. John Reid exhales through his nose, a soft laugh, and he smiles down at the table before lifting his eyes and brows up at the four young men.

“Alright, then,” Reid says, leaning back in his seat, watching the four men with calculating eyes. “Let’s just see how this all plays out, then, shall we?”

 


 

One Year Later...

 

Elton flattens his hair for the umpteenth time this evening. His leg bounces underneath the table as he searches the restaurant with nervous anticipation. He waits with bated breath, feeling lost in the fogginess of his mind. He feels on edge and wishes he took some snow before coming here. This is a bad idea, he realizes, and he starts overthinking his escape route, his eyes distractedly flickering from one end of the dining hall to the next.

He jumps at the sound of the chair across from him being pulled out, and Elton blinks in confusion. He makes eye contact with the man sitting across from him, but wonders why the eyes he’s looking into are dark and not the bright blue he was expecting.

“Hi, sorry,” the man says nervously, reaching his hand out. “I’m Freddie. Freddie Mercury. John Reid told me on the telephone that he will meet up with us later.”

Elton lifts his brow, taking the man’s hand and shaking it politely. “Uh, Elton John,” he introduces with a meeker sounding voice than he intended. Elton retreats into a stiff sitting position and watches the raven-haired man look seemingly everywhere but at himself. Elton awkwardly flickers his gaze to the floor but looks up when he hears the man clear his throat. Freddie seems just as nervous as himself.

“So, uh, this is quite lovely. Wouldn’t you agree, darling?” Freddie asks, chewing his bottom lip.

Elton smiles politely, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. Where the hell is John? “Uh, yes, it is,” Elton replies, feeling like he wants to throw himself off of the nearest building or bridge to cut through the tension he has caused. Why the fuck am I like this?

“Sorry, I have no idea what I’m doing. I was not expecting Reid to leave us here waiting for him whilst we awkwardly talk until we both want to turn into dust,” Freddie says with a nervous chuckle. Elton’s smile grows more genuine at that, and he bows his head nervously, scratching his neck.

“I was under the impression I was just having supper with John. I had no idea he was bringing you along,” Elton admits feebly. “Not that I mind your company,” he waves defensively, ”you’re quite talented. You sing and play the piano, right?”

Freddie smiles but moves his lips to conspicuously cover his teeth. His cheeks dust with crimson as he tries to hold back his bashful grin. “Uh, yes. I quite like your music, if I’m being honest, Mr. John--”

“--Please, don’t call me that,” Elton chuckles, “Mr. John is my father,” he says with dramatic flair. At that, they both laugh, finally feeling like they have released the tension. “You can just call me Elton,” he adds after they have calmed themselves down.

“Alright, Elton,” Freddie says, as if testing the sound of the man’s name on his tongue. Elton feels something inside of him jolt to life, but he attempts to keep calm and nonchalantly sip from his wine glass. “So, tell me about yourself. What do you do besides work on music?” Freddie asks conversationally, and Elton shrugs.

“Um, I,” he casts his gaze to the floor, “I like to shop.”

“Oh? What do you like to buy?” Freddie asks, his eyes lighting up brightly. Elton shrugs, smiling nervously before leaning on his palm, covering his mouth as he considers his thoughts.

“I don’t know, anything that catches my attention, I suppose?” Elton says bashfully. This man must think I’m such a bloody loser.

“That’s wonderful, darling!” Freddie exclaims with a wide grin. Elton catches sight of Freddie’s large teeth before he covers them up with his lips again. “I would love to shop, but I’m afraid me and my bandmates are still fresh and upcoming, not very wealthy or anything. The last record company we had a contract with before EMI were absolute scum and, well, my bandmates and I are getting by with this last album.”

“Your last record, A Night At The Opera, right?” Elton inquires with a tilted head.

Freddies eyes widen in horror and he smiles apprehensively, scratching his neck. “Oh, you, uh...you know of our last album?”

“Yes?” Elton says, feeling slightly confused since they share the same manager. “It’s quite good. I really enjoyed Seaside Rendezvous. Oh, and Bohemian Rhapsody - what a marvellous song,” Elton boasts gleefully and Freddie’s blush darkens.

“Oh, uh, thank you,” Freddie says, trying to act cool and collected.

“You and all of your bandmates contribute to the songwriting, correct?” Elton asks, leaning on his hands with an easy grin.

“Uh, yes. Seaside Rendezvous and Bohemian Rhapsody are actually two songs I wrote for the album…” Freddie says, his face still flushed and hot. He smiles gratefully at the waiter as he sits up and orders a glass of champagne. Elton’s eyes widen for a moment in response to Freddie’s statement; he sits back and tries to act natural as the waiter leaves.

“Well, you’re very good with words--” Elton blushes, looking off to the side, “--I’m not very good with words, myself.”

Freddie smiles endearingly at Elton. “Well, you’re good with writing music pieces, and that still takes quite a bit of skill and talent.”

Elton looks up at Freddie, smiling and slowly sitting up. This man seems shy but also lively and full of kindness. Elton almost feels unworthy to be in Freddie’s presence. Freddie’s smile reassures him and gives him a warm and fuzzy feeling that he hasn’t felt in a while. Elton shoves it deep down and returns Freddie’s smile, trying to act normal.

The champagne is placed in front of Freddie, and he lifts it up. “Well, um, a toast to us,” Freddie says with a smile. “To a new friendship.”

Elton mirrors Freddie's grin and raises his wine glass. “To a new friendship,” Elton responds as they clink the cups together before they each take a sip, not breaking eye contact. Elton watches Freddie as the man places his cup down and straightens out his jacket. Elton almost sighs in content, but quickly clears his throat and looks away, placing his own cup down and trying to not draw attention to himself. His gaze catches John’s at the entrance, and Elton’s easy grin returns. His stomach flips and his heart pounds at the sight of John, but then he feels his insides turn into mush as he watches Freddie wave the man over.

Elton feels suddenly conflicted and doesn’t understand why. He picks up his wine glass and guzzles the rest of its contents down, enjoying the warm buzz the alcohol gives him. He relishes in numbness and is quick to order another wine as John and Freddie shake hands before they both take their seats.

“Sorry I’m late,” John says, “so, what did I miss?”