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Fat Boy from Pinner

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The first time he wears his school uniform, he is 7. His mother takes a long drag off her cigarette, gives him the once over. “Hm, looking right chubby,” she sniffs. “I don’t imagine you’ll be much of an athlete, Reggie.”

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“Is dinner ready? Or did you feed it all to that boy?” He hears his father from the upstairs landing. Reggie wonders if his father thinks he'd really eat all of the food in the house and if it has anything to do with his father's unwillingness to hug him.

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Young Reggie pinches his thighs as he looks at his short, stocky frame in the mirror. He is 9 and some children who outran him in the park laughed as he struggled to catch his breath. His father catches his red face, streaked with tears before dinner and tells him to clean himself up with a sneer. Reggie is hungry, and he notices when his mother ladles a smaller than usual portion of mash onto his plate.

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Reggie hits a growth spurt and loses some of his baby fat when he’s 11, but he’s still round faced and gap-toothed. He shrugs off the thick jumper during his first time playing piano for the Royal Academy, and out of habit places his forearm in front of his belly, feeling exposed. Hours after his audition, he stands alone in his room, pulling at the scratchy jumper fabric, imagining if it might look better on him if he were slender.

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“He takes after my side of the family,” Sheila drawls. “He’ll be bald as an egg by 20.” Reggie glares at his mother, crestfallen at her casual way of dashing his confidence. He notices the fleshiness on his mother’s arms, the extra curves of flesh on her hips as she leans back in her seat, and Reggie wonders for a moment if his mother might actually be right.

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Reg has decided his name will be Elton from here on out. He wears a colorful tie and a ribbed jacket to meet Bernie Taupin. The first thing he notices is Bernie’s kind eyes. The next thing he notices is how slim Bernie’s legs and waist are compared to his, and Elton hunches forward in his seat, hoping the table will hide the fact that his thighs are spreading out over the chair.

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Dick lives up to his name. He picks at things that don’t have much – shouldn’t have much—to do with their music or Elton’s ability to play. He barks that Elton has fat hands, short, pudgy fingers…those of a “midget boxer,” he said. Elton feels his blood pressure rise and a flush in his face as he hammers away at the keys. He might not have the reach of someone with long, slim fingers across the keys, but fuck if he won’t prove he can more than make up for it with sheer energy.

When Dick calls Bernie “the good looking one,” Elton studies Bernie’s face carefully for any signs that he agrees with that assessment. Not out of jealousy, he’s realizing, but because he is terrified that Bernie might agree with Dick.

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“C’mon, it’s just over this way.” Bernie slurs playfully. They’re drunk off their arses and having a dizzy time of it taking shortcuts through the neighborhood back to their flat. Bernie slinks sideways through a gap in a broken fence, and even in his drunken state, Elton doubts he’ll fit. Bernie’s blissfully unaware that the red flush on Elton’s face as he squeezes through the small gap isn’t just due to the alcohol in his blood. Sucking in a lungful of air, his stomach drops as he feels his bum and hips catch on the sides of the opening, reaching an arm out to steady himself when his momentum is brought to a sudden halt. For a terrible few seconds, Elton imagines himself wedged in the fence all night. Bernie turns when he hears the fence creaking with Elton's desperate efforts to pull himself through. Offering red-faced and thoroughly embarrassed Elton a hand, Bernie smirks as he tugs him through. “Shall I call the fire brigade?”

“Hah. Very funny, Bernie.”

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When Elton leans in to kiss Bernie on the roof later that night and his friend pulls away, Elton briefly wonders if it’s his face or body or both…later he berates himself for thinking Bernie would be so much like everyone else—so superficial, so uncaring, so cruel. He cries alone in the loo, imagines the flat planes of Bernie’s slender body undressed, and wonders when he became so goddamned wretched.

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Elton blushes when his mother gleefully recounts how young Reggie used to raid the pantry for chocolates when he thought no one was watching, and Bernie chuckles into his morning cup. “Even after a full plate in the evening,” She crows.
He catches Bernie’s eye, sees the twinkle in it over the breakfast table, and chews the inside of his lip. Bernie grins. “Is that true, Reg?” Elton is too humiliated by his mother’s most recent bid to destroy his life to notice the affection in Bernie’s voice. Elton growls and pushes back from the table, storming out of the room in fury. His stomach is empty and he wishes he’d eaten something before closing himself in his room. When no one is around, he shovels the cold sausages into his mouth, imagining that Bernie might think him pathetic if he could see him now.

 

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Elton decides he’s going to fake confidence until he truly, truly feels it. In a moment of unadulterated glee, he buys the white overalls with the money Dick gave him. He takes a shuddering breath as he changes into the stage gear in the grimy bathroom of the Troubadour, shimmying and yanking the overalls up his thighs. For a moment he is worried they won’t fit after the past few weeks he’s spent stress eating crisps and Sainsbury cockles and bacon sandwiches and ice creams. He winces when he realizes that the buttons are straining slightly over his hips when he bends forward. He swears that when he finds the jackass who designed slim-fitting jeans and tight bell bottoms and slinky jet setter wear, he’ll kill them with his bare hands.

That stupid look on Bernie’s face as he tells Elton that the Beach Boys are out there sends his heart into a quick squeeze, briefly seeing red as his blood pressure spikes. He storms into the men’s room stall and plunks himself down on the toilet seat, full well knowing he’s throwing a tantrum, but he doesn’t care. They can all kiss his fat ass for all he cares.

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Elton’s heart plummets when he sees the tall beauty standing next to Bernie. The long, sinewy limbs, the taught, slim waist… those pert breasts and graceful neck… her high cheekbones and pouty lips… Elton thinks she looks like a ballerina as she floats over the candlelit pathways, her trim frame fitting perfectly in the embrace of Bernie’s arms. He feels 3 feet tall and lumpy and miserable as he watches them disappear into the woods together at Mama Cass’ party.

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John squeezes Elton’s hips between his thighs as they plummet toward climax. He feels John’s heels dig into the ample flesh of his backside, pulling him deeper. As Elton cums and thrusts his hips clumsily into his lover, for a brief moment he wonders if John can feel how much his soft belly jiggles as it slides over the tip of John’s cock. John paints their fronts with his ejaculate, rakes his fingernails across Elton’s upper back, tenderly looks Elton in the eyes, and Elton forgets that he’s the fat boy from Pinner for one glorious moment.

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It’s 1970 something (not that Elton’s keeping much track), and Elton is hungover and scarfing down a bacon sandwich…two to be exact, when John rounds the corner to their room and regards him with a disgusted look for the umpteenth time since they moved in together. Elton has not eaten for days, snorting coke to keep his energy up during gigs. He’s come down from his high and his stomach is empty except for viciously acidic booze induced bile. John should understand this, but all Elton sees in the handsome Scotsman’s face is a sneer akin to the likes of his father. “Clean yourself up.” John spits. He gives Elton a quick but meaningful look up and down, eyes locking onto his bared waistline. “And for fuck’s sake, you don’t really need any more of those, do you?”

“Actually I think I do, John.” Elton snaps. “If you’d thought about giving me a moment’s break in your scheduling, you’d realize I’ve been fucking running on fumes for days.” He hates himself for pulling his dressing gown closed anyway to hide his flabby middle. Habit.

John rolls his eyes. “Shall I have Jonathan arrange to get your pants taken out again, then? Or will I have to haul your soggy arse out to waste more money on clothes that’ll be too tight in a month?”

 

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It’s just before their stupid fucking pool party, and Elton is in his dressing room surrounded by his beautiful hoard of clothes. He screams in a rage and throws the pair of pants that won’t fasten onto the floor—he swore they fit him last week, or was it last month?—and rips a sheer tunic just for the spite of it all. Finally Elton settles on a pair of loose fitting white pants with a drawstring waist, not bothering to find a shirt. Grabbing the pair of wretched pants (they had his initials placed on the back pockets with rhinestones), he makes his way to the bathroom. He thinks about John getting his cock sucked by the poolboy as he jams his fingers down his throat and vomits up the food he ate earlier. Elton’s fucking mother and gran and fucking god knows who else is waiting for him, and he grinds his teeth as he uses the bedazzled pair of too-tight pants to wipe the vomit and bile off his face. They’re only good for rags now, and Elton might hate the pants more than he hates himself.

Chapter Text

In a panic upon finding out that it IS next week, Elton scrambles to pull his dressing gown closed. His mother will say something to him about his paunch regardless, but he'll try his best to buy some time.

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Elton inwardly snarls as his mother picks at his thinning hair, shrugging her pointy nailed hands off his head by ducking forward. As if to throw her criticisms in her face, he pretends to be saucy and confident in his open dressing gown in front of the Andersons, letting it fall open as soon as she picks at him. He’s heard it all before and knows what might be in store for him if his mother catches him alone:

“Would it kill you to show some modesty, Reggie?” She’d emphasize his birth name just to irk him. She’d add a little sing-song to her voice in a thinly veiled attempt at gaslighting him into believing everything she says is just a sweet little joke because of course, he’d always been “too sensitive” and taken things “too seriously.”

“You’re a piano man and a singer, not a model for god’s sake. Even YOU’VE got your limits…”

And just like that, he predicted, she’d find a way to insinuate she’s so concerned for him, because Oh My, what will happen to his career if he lets himself go any further? Always the contradictory and insipid veiled insults, and Elton’s just too hungover and anxious at the moment to puzzle over what the fuck a flat stomach has to do with his ability to make money.

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Elton’s knocking back vodka, sulking alone and remembering the vulnerable moment when he let John see just a little bit of his shame. They’d only just started seeing each other regularly (whenever John was in the same town, of course) and Elton was needy and lust filled. Some memories for him are hazy at best, but this one fills his head as if he’s living it all over again…

He’s been wined and dined nonstop for the first few months into his post-Troubadour explosion onto the scene, and sex with John is the cherry on top of his fantasy life. John pushes him onto the hotel bed, pounces on him. Leans over him and husks, “I believe I’ll be taking you tonight.” He ravishes Elton’s neck and kisses him hungrily, working his way down his body. Elton blinks unseeing at the ceiling as John’s searing mouth on his goosefleshed skin numbs him to all other sensory input. He feels John’s teeth drag across his tender stomach, and he flinches instinctively.

“Sorry,” Elton says as he gently holds John’s head in his hands, hoping it’s enough to keep him from focusing on his belly. “It’s…s’not my best feature, I know.”

John stares up at him, processing for a second before he flashes that winning smile.

“Darling,” and oh, Elton is smitten again as soon as he hears that thick brogue. “You’d be a fool if you think that’s gon’aeh stop me from givin’ you everything.”

Elton can barely absorb what his handsome lover is saying, because the next thing he knows, John has all but ripped his pants and underwear down and is pushing his legs up. His asshole is being massaged with a lubricated finger and it’s all he can do to stammer out an “I love you,” before he’s being passionately fucked. Now he’s remembering he was roughly and painfully fucked with minimal consideration for his comfort, but hindsight is 20/20.

And now Elton grimaces, slouching low in his chair. Tears sting at his eyes and he drunkenly struggles to determine exactly when John started to use that insecurity against him and whether or not that was the bastard’s plan from the very beginning.

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Elton is being fitted for a new costumes and he’s long since stopped being personally involved in the process of cobbling them together. The giddy thrill of picking out quirky finds in small shops fizzled out as soon as he became too famous—and perpetually too drunk or high or both—to go shopping whenever he pleases. The young, squirrely man who is holding the measuring tape over his body chatters away, partially to keep the mood up in the bustling room and partially, Elton surmises grimly, to kiss his ass and keep a paycheck coming his way. The man pulls the tape taut around his waist and Elton reflexively sucks in his stomach without even realizing it.

“Ah, ah, we need a natural measurement, Mr. E.”

Elton blinks and for a moment he feels like the shy 20 year old entering Dick's office for the first time. “Oh, er, sorry.”

He lets out his stomach and wills his body to relax, exhaling. The soft flesh ensconcing his navel bulges out ever so slightly, and the young man makes the grave error of allowing a small giggle to escape. “There we are,” He adjusts the tape out a few more centimeters and then pulls it tight again. Elton wrinkles his nose. The younger man is clinical but the damage is already done.

“Yes, we’ll have a new pair of pants made for you within the week, Mr. E. A flattering cut with a wide waistband. Not to worry, sir.”

Elton pulls away, startling the young man.

“What the fuck’s that supposed to mean, eh?” Elton snaps.

His temper is an open secret and probably something all of his staff are warned about before they even sign on for work, but the assistant still shrinks back in fear.

“Er, nothing sir. I-I just meant that, you might prefer ah, a more relaxed fit. You’re sitting at the- the piano, after all—“

He'd never admit it, but when he yells he sounds like his father.

"And what the bloody hell do you know about it?!" Elton snarls. "I've played shows wearing all sorts of fucking costumes, the likes of which an ass wipe like you would NEVER be able to pull off! I don't need your fucking fashion advice, and if you can't do your fucking job then I don't fucking need you!" His voice has built to a roar and he knows he'll be ashamed later, but for the moment he gives in to that familiar red-hot feeling in his chest.

Before he knows it, Elton’s storming out of the room, veins throbbing in his forehead. The assistant and his team are left to pick up the items Elton knocked to the floor with a sweeping motion of his arm on his way out.

He does another bump of cocaine and tells himself he’ll wait to eat anything until someone thinks to bring him food. If they believe him to be a drama queen, fucking hell, he'll be a drama queen.

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Elton is lying on the bed and can’t quite decide if John was once kind and loving and slowly grew to hate him over time or if John is a monster and incredibly skilled at hiding it. Elton’s only conclusion is that Elton Hercules John is an asshole for ruining a good thing or for being too stupid and lovestruck to realize he’d been had for a fool. He’s stoned as fuck and the world is a blur, and all he needs is John’s hands on him, his only tether to reality.

In his haze, Elton’s flipped over onto his hands and knees, face pushed down into the bed with a rough grip on his thinning hair. He tries to lift his head, somehow, but his head feels like a cannonball atop his shoulders.

He struggles again to look over his shoulder, limbs heavy and eyes blurred without his glasses. He’s brought out of the haze for a split second with an abrupt slap to his ass. They’d played at some kinky things in the past, but this somehow feels more purely sadistic than playful. John has long since abandoned any pretense of safe words or explaining to Elton what he wanted to do; now he just does it and Elton hates himself enough to let him.

Elton hears himself moaning in pain and it reverberates through his brain. Harsh hands are squeezing his asscheeks and spreading him and then they’re pinching his soft love handles hard enough to leave bruises. Elton’s high on painkillers and scotch and he still feels it, so he knows John must be particularly displeased with him.

Before he’s penetrated roughly, his haze is pierced for a fleeting moment, cruelly, just long enough to hear John sneer, “Pathetic. Remember this next time you decide to throw a tantrum. You’re a lucky pig, you know that? You can pay someone to fuck your fat wide arse, but I do it because I actually give a damn.”

He passes out and falls into a heavy oblivion, but when he wakes and remembers those words clear as day, Elton’s second conclusion is that he wasn’t nearly as high as he’d hoped.

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Elton selects the largest, gaudiest rings to wear on several fingers. He’s decided he will own his pudgy fingers and look like a goddamned King in the process. He smiles to himself as he imagines how lovely the ruby red jeweled ring will look next to his favorite teal and silver pinky ring. The only problem is that the rings hurt to slide over his abused knuckles, raw skin eaten away by stomach acid and knicked by his sharp teeth every time he shoves his fingers down his throat.

He’ll play the loudest he’s ever played, hammering away at the keys like a man possessed, making it appear effortless. He’ll cope. He always has and always will.

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He doesn’t feel well, for once due to a fever and cough and not drugs or drink. Surprisingly, John orders him to rest up and get better, tucking him into bed with a tenderness Elton hasn’t seen from John in years. Elton's too starved for affection to notice that the way John looks at him as he closes the door is watchful like a dog checking on a buried bone.

He’s too tired and ill to get up and search for his cocaine stash or to try and drown the medication with vodka, so he falls into a deep sleep when the cough syrup takes effect.

Elton dreams he’s 21 again and he and Bernie are in a candlelit tent. Bernie caresses his hair, smiling at Elton with those kind eyes that crinkle in the outer corners. Elton feels unashamed and removes his shirt, his heart skipping a beat as Bernie appraises his bared torso with a lusty gaze. Suddenly, Elton realizes his belly is covered in bruises and scratches, and Bernie catches his hands as he tries to cover himself.

Bernie plants gentle kisses on his stomach, gently fondling the flesh with his warm hands. He pulls Elton close and embraces him, the flat lithe planes of Bernie’s naked chest pressing against Elton’s plump pectorals. They’re heart to heart and he presses his body into Bernie, craving his warmth.

Bernie curls his arms around Elton and his calloused hands rub his back, silently spelling out that everything will be okay after all…

Elton wakes up with a sob, tears spilling out of his bleary eyes and soaking the pillow beneath him. He’s still tired and his body aches as he curls up into himself and cries himself back to sleep.

Chapter Text

“Amazing, Elton!” “You were fucking incredible!” “We came out just to see you!”

He barely processes the buzzing of some excited fans who made it backstage and entourage shouting out to him. He’s still feeling fuzzy after his stint in the hospital, the booster injection site on his upper arm still stings. Elton is quickly ushered into the dressing room. The Dodgers uniform is studded with rhinestones and heavier than it looks. He peels it off, grimacing at the cold sweat and ensuing chill.

He’s alone for the moment, and he takes a second to look at himself in the mirror. His eyes carry heavy, dark bags underneath, and his cheeks appear sunken. He lets the uniform fall to the floor, silver and blue giving way to his sallow skin underneath.

His legs are trembling from the effort he gave at the concert, first jumping up onto the piano and then eventually kicking the bench away (as they expected of him) to squat athletically over the piano keys. His thighs are thick and muscular as they’ve always been, but he’s a bit surprised to see that the outlines of the muscles are actually visible. Pinching his inner thigh where he had a little more flesh a week ago, a sickening swell of pride twists up inside of him when he realizes he hasn’t had anything but antibiotics and water for the past few days.

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John says nothing and passes Elton the newspaper in the backseat of the car the next morning. On the front cover, he’s there in his bedazzled Dodgers uniform, standing triumphantly over the crowd. The headline reads “Another Home Run for Elton!”

Elton gives a wry smile and folds the paper to hand back to John, but John pushes it back at him.

“Read the next line.” John says, and Elton can’t quite put his finger on it, but John sounds strangely smug.

Elton swallows nervously and looks down to see the caption: “Elton John looked lean and healthy as he played to a sold out arena.”

Suddenly he feels sick to his stomach.

John kicks his leg. “Don’t say I never clean up your messes.”

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He gives Bernie an eyeful, spreading his thighs and reveling in how they spill out of his hot pants. He’s in the midst of what he’s come to recognize as his indulging phase; to counter, he supposes, how much he normally hates himself, he alternates by occasionally soothing himself for days on end by consuming everything he can get his hands on from food to clothes to sex. They’re sitting in his private plane, and Elton’s trying to forget that John is chatting up a young assistant by the counter just a few feet away.

Bernie wrinkles his nose slightly and looks away, but Elton practically melts into the upholstery, the chemical cocktail in his blood heightening the sensation of the fabric rubbing against his legs. He’ll make Bernie look at him, that bastard…

He’s rolling and hasn’t come down since just after the Dodgers Stadium concert. Gone temporarily is the shy, hesitant lip biting of Reggie. Elton can almost hear Bernie calling his name, urgently, needy, only wanting him…

“Elton!”

Shit, is he really that high?

“Elton!”

“Yes, sorry, what?”

“I think I need a break.”

Well, goddamn everything to hell
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Elton catches John, for the last time, chatting up a slender, long-haired man in the backstage corridor. He’s no different than any of the others, in that he physically looks like nearly the polar opposite of Elton in every possible way. Lithe legs in tight jeans, flat abdomen, tight, smooth skin and high cheekbones with thick hair.

Elton stopped being surprised a long time ago, but he’s no less furious and hurt.

John will still be his manager. Of course John will…and just like that, Elton knows he’ll also meet his mother again for brunch the following Sunday like clockwork. Rinse, lather, repeat. Elton absently cuts up his next line of cocaine, smirking ruefully at just how much influence the ones who hurt him the most hold over his life.

For a brief moment before the manufactured and fleeting euphoria takes over, Elton remembers when he was just simply “Fat Reg” to the boys in the band and he’d thought he might look at a newspaper ad.

Bernie wouldn’t want to see him these days, anyway.

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He’s vaguely aware that everyone in the club is staring up at him, but for the moment he’s king and center of his own feverish world.

There are hands on him, grabbing and caressing every part of his body. He’s stripped down until he’s only wearing his underwear. He doesn’t feel ashamed that the waistband of the tight black thong bites into his doughy stomach (John pointed this out to him) or that he has dimples on his behind (he told him this, too). All he feels is warm, calloused fingers guiding his face to another hungry kiss, mouths on his weeping cock, strangers’ hands pawing at his soft parts like he’s everything they’ve ever wanted…

He’s so far gone that he can’t tell one mind-blowing orgasm from the next, after several partners unsure of how much of it is the drugs telling him he’s having the best fucking time of his life and how much of it is the contractions inside someone’s body milking the cum from his swollen dick.

Then he’s writhing on the floor, covered in lubricant, and he’s lost track of how many tongues have been in his asshole or wrapped around his cock and whose hands are holding his legs apart as he’s fucked again. He’s nestled against a wall of bodies, lean and taut and beautiful but all there for his pleasure and his alone.

Elton wakes with a start in his bed, too sober and too terrified to even look down at the shower floor when he cleans himself.

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And of course his mother had to tell him he doesn’t do anything. And naturally, she went right in for the kill, focusing on his insecurities and had to remind him he’s had it easy since he dangled his “fat little legs” in front of a piano.

Elton is adorned in the most expensive clothes. He’s got his choice of a table at the most exclusive five star restaurant in town. He’s adored by the public, and has fucked and been fucked by lust filled partners in private.

But all it takes is his mother’s scorn and he fears he’s still the chubby crybaby in suburban Pinner. He’s unwanted by his father. He’s unwanted by Bernie. He’s unwanted by John. What else does he have?

The following night, Elton scowls as he thinks about his mother’s admonishing tone. He’s got nothing. He is nothing. He’s empty and nothing will change that. He’s had his dinner plate taken from him before he could finish as punishment, the taste of potatoes and butter lingering on his tongue the only remaining evidence of his family sitting together in the kitchen and his grandmother smiling reassuredly at him while his parents fought over how best to handle him.

So he only does what comes natural to him: He raids the kitchen in secret, filling an emptiness in his lonely little belly with sweets and cold butter on bread.

He thinks of this in a drunken haze, polishing off the bread basket and all but growling under his breath at the waiter to stop staring and fucking get him some more butter. He gulps down a Gibson brought to his table, then orders a richly sauced steak au poivre and frites. The salad brought to his table is left untouched for the moment, as he angrily recalls John ordering a salad with no dressing at a restaurant once, to humiliate him during an argument.

Elton sulks and dowses the salad in front of him with a sweet vinaigrette dressing, stabbing his fork into the greens for each mouthful. He makes short order of the tender beef dish and chips next.

He’s aware of eyes on him. He knows people have been staring. He knows the waiter is gawking at him. They know who he is, and he knows they’ll talk about it in secret. How embarrassing it is that he eats like that in public. How his receding hairline and his growing paunch make him look even older. How sad it is that the talented musician often seems high or drunk in public these days.

 

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When Elton sees Bernie again, it’s not for long. In any other life, they might catch up and laugh about when they sang “Streets of Loredo” together in the coffee shop. But Elton is too quick to assume everything Bernie says must be in judgment and malice and criticism, and Bernie is too quick to be his reasonable self.

So, Elton binges on ice cream to feel something, anything other than shame… while Bernie stands up and walks out.

 

To be Continued.

Chapter Text

Heart attack. Not surprising.

Elton didn’t even know what hit him, so he’d never had time to get the “life flashing before ones eyes” bit before falling down the stairs. Now he’s got what seems like an eternity in this damned bed to think things over.

Ironically, the doctor focused on his cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, and diet more than the fact that he literally choked his heart nearly to death on cocaine and booze and a nasty chronic electrolyte imbalance from vomiting. Elton wondered ruefully if John hadn’t paid the doctor off to avoid saying anything about the addictions…John was still in the business of managing him, after all, and with that came a lot of scrambling about covering up his messes. Unfortunately that seemed to entail keeping Elton high and drunk so it could be business as usual, with a massive weapon to use against Elton if he misbehaved. 

Elton takes a sip of water, quenching his parched mouth, and sets it back on the bedside table.

 

...No one visits him.

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He’s supposed to follow a schedule in rehab, and it’s a struggle at first. Particularly the regular meal times in lieu of, oh, his custom of snorting coke or getting wasted. As far as food goes, Elton has to admit that it’s pretty good.

He fills his plate with mashed potatoes and some chicken, and then pauses a moment before taking some green vegetables, too. He’s been using seltzer water with a little lemon in it to substitute the throat hit and the burn he’s still missing from alcohol.

The woman at the counter asks him if he’d like some gravy on his mashed potatoes, holding up a ladle full of the glossy and fat-laden concoction for emphasis. Elton politely declines. It isn’t until he gets to his table that he realizes he declined not because of John pressuring him to look svelte for a photoshoot, but because he wants to keep his cholesterol in check for his health’s sake. Smiling to himself, Elton raises a forkful of chicken to his lips and tells himself he’ll try the gravy soon, just not today. The chicken is warm on his tongue and he feels he can taste as if for the first time in his entire life.

He’s always been quick to cry, but these tears as they fall silently down his face in relief are something new.

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Elton’s counselor hands him a journal and a pen and tells him “Enough with the self-pity. Get on with it.”

She’s firm but kind, and he knows she’s more than a little tired of his dramatic threats to leave. She’s found him more than once out on the curb with his bags packed, sobbing as he tells her he can’t do it and he’s going to leave and fuck off. But he’s come back inside each time. And he knows she’s right.

The first assignment is to write a list of things that he feels are wrong with him.

The list is easy for him to scrawl out by name:

Alcoholic.

Sex Addict.

Cocaine Addict.

Drug abuser in general.

Anger Management problems (a giant asshole, actually).

Bulimic.

 

Then he is supposed to write why he feels he has those struggles. Alcohol, Sex, Cocaine, those are pretty easy:

Alcohol makes me relaxed when I’m anxious or scared I’m going to fuck up during a performance. Loosens me up. Sex makes me feel good. Okay, the shrink’s going to want me to say "Sex makes me feel wanted because I never felt wanted in my life." Boo hoo. Still feels good to get my rocks off. I’m shy sometimes and feel an idiot or like I don’t know what I should say and when I use cocaine it makes me feel like I can say anything to anyone and I’m clever and funny and interesting. Harhar.

Elton freezes up when he gets to the bulimia portion. Why does he binge on food and then throw up?

"What a stupid question.” He mutters to himself, scrawling angrily.

I struggle with bulimia because I eat a lot when I’m hungry and then I throw it up. Simple enough, really. Fucking cunts.

He looks at the page. To see his own handwriting spell out that he throws up gives him a sudden and profound surge of shame. He knows that’s not all of it. He knows he’s got to be honest.

His heart twists in his chest as he crosses out his prior statement and begins, shakily:

I struggle with bulimia ..... because I hate being fat. Hate being ugly. I am afraid to gain weight. Probably started worrying when I was about 20. I know I need to eat and it feels good when I do, but I remember all of the times I’ve been told I ought not eat that much and I get pissed at myself and I –

 

He’s crying and can barely see the page.

 

-I throw up because I hate myself and I deserve it.

 

Elton throws his pen to the floor where it clinks against the dull grey tile and rolls under his cot. He slams his journal shut and marches off to find that lady with all the cigarettes.

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“Surprised you know how to use one of those.”

Elton turns around, and there is Bernie.

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To be concluded!