Roger screaming was nothing new. At this point, neither Freddie nor John even responded when we heard his signature high pitched squeal from the other room. Out of habit, I put down my guitar and rushed over to see what was the matter. Thankfully, Roger seemed anything but upset which was a good thing. I really wasn't in the mood for any drama right now. Although considering the band I was in, something was bound to happen eventually. Roger was lying in the bathtub in his true form with his beautiful blue tail sticking out over the edge, reading a Buzzfeed magazine.
"Brian, look we're famous!" He exclaimed waving the page in my face. "We're featured in a personality quiz! Isn't that so cool? I love these things. They're so much fun. When polluting assholes just drop their copies into the water, I always snag 'em and bring them back for me and Clare to read up on surface culture and take all the quizzes." He explained.
"I don't think these are very accurate." I remarked, spotting the Which Queen Member Are You? quiz right next to the What Kind of Flower Are You?
Roger gasped. "How could you say that? Buzzfeed quizzes never lie. The other day I took the Beatles one, and I got Ringo. It's 100% accurate."
"If it were 100% accurate, then you'd literally be Ringo Starr." I stated.
"I wish." He laughed. "But that gives me an idea. We should all take the quiz and see who we really are."
So the next thing I knew, the four of us were filling out the quiz taking it almost as seriously as we would if we were sitting for exams. There wasn't any real science to these things, but it was a fun thing to do on a rainy afternoon. I answered haphazardly for once in my life not thinking too much, and I finished first.
"I got...John Deacon!" I announced. Was I surprised? No, not really. These quizzes were meaningless.
"That can't be right." Roger protested. "We're supposed to get ourselves."
"Hey! I got you, Bri!" Deaky laughed. "We got each other!"
"Everything is a lie!" Roger shouted, but he still continued to go through his quiz. He reached the end before Freddie. "I'm scared to see my results, but I have to face the music. I got....Freddie Mercury?" I couldn't help but laugh at Roger's confused face trying to piece all this nonsense together.
"Nice try, darling, but there can be only one." Freddie said. He had yet to announce his quiz results, but I expected him to hold back for dramatic purposes. Although he was being oddly quiet during the whole quiz taking process.
"Wait...I figured it out!" Roger proclaimed. "We're soulmates!"
"Brilliant observation, but our marks can tell you that more so than any Buzzfeed quiz." I quipped.
"No...well yes, but that's not what I meant. I got Freddie and you got Deaky. They're soulmates just like we're soulmates. Deaky got you, and so Freddie's probably going to get me. Isn't that right, Fred?"
"Oh yes. Mmhmm." Freddie spoke quickly. "Or maybe this whole thing is just rubbish." He took his answer sheet as well as the magazine itself and threw it in the trash ignoring Roger's protests. "We already know who the fuck we are and who our soulmates are. So why does it matter what some stupid magazine has to say about it?"
Roger retrieved the magazine from the trash. "I wanna bottle this and send it to Clare. I wonder what her results will be."
Deaky went to the kitchen to go make himself a plate of cheese on toast, leaving me and Freddie alone. Or we would be alone, but Delilah was perched atop the cabinet watching us. "Meow."
"You have no clue what you're talking about, darling." Freddie responded to her.
"It's a Buzzfeed quiz, Delilah! You stopped taking them seriously when they matched your personality to the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians instead of The Aristocats!" He shouted.
"Something tells me you didn't get Roger." I surmised.
"By his logic, I should have." Freddie sighed.
"So who did you get?" I inquired.
He rolled up his sleeve pointing to the name John Richard Deacon tattooed beside his muse mark. I shrugged, not seeing what the big deal was. "So you got Deaky. I did too. I don't see anything wrong with it."
"That's the problem, Brimi. You got each other. He was supposed to get me, not you. Or I was supposed to get Roger and it would fit into his soulmate theory. But this just doesn't make any sense. How could this happen?"
"It's a Buzzfeed quiz." I cried. "You're overthinking this."
"But what if this is a sign? What if Deaky isn't happy with me?" Freddie paced around the room frantically. "Oh what did I do wrong? Maybe you and Deaky got each other because it's like your song, Brian."
"What song? Freddie, you're being bloody ridiculous!"
"It started off so well..." The muse crooned dramatically. His usual glow he gave off when singing was somehow darker. I read once that a muse's hue was impacted by emotions almost like a light up mood ring.
...They said we made a perfect pair
I clothed myself in your glory and your love
How I loved you
How I cried
The years of care and loyalty
Were nothing but a sham it seems..."
"Freddie, I swear I would slap you if I wasn't vehemently against violence!" I cut off his purposefully forlorn version of Save Me.
"I think I need a hug." He wailed. There was something so sad and vulnerable in his big brown eyes that I couldn't resist. "Come here." I pulled him into my arms for a gentle but firm hug like that I would give to a hurt baby badger. "You know you're being a total idiot right now." I told Freddie as he cried into my shoulder. 'Even idiots need a shoulder to cry on.' He thought back, probably too teary and sniffly to reply verbally.
"Um." Deaky cleared his throat. "Am I interrupting something?"
"John!" Freddie stepped out of my embrace. "Darling, I'm so sorry. I promise I'll be a better husband.
"What are you talking about? You're the best husband ever. I just wanted to offer you some of my cheese on toast." He extended the plate and Freddie wiped the tears from his eyes.
"Oh Brian, I knew it! The Buzzfeed quiz is bullshit! Deaky really does still love me!" Freddie exclaimed. "Thanks for the magical hug!"
"I'm not even going to bother asking what the heck just happened." Deaky said as Freddie showered him in kisses.
It turns out that Freddie wasn't exaggerating after all. He really did buy himself an exquisite manor within a garden, formally called Garden Lodge. Today he and John were officially moving in, and Roger and I brought them some housewarming gifts. Freddie was enamored with the glow in the dark fish tank gifted by Roger. He was watching in wondering as our soulmates set up the present in the living room. I wasn't sure if my gift could top this one, but it shouldn't be a competition. I figured I might as well unveil it to Freddie while we waited for Deaky and Roger to finish up with the fish tank.
"I've got a surprise for you." I announced.
"Oooh! Another present! I swear you spoil me, Brimi!" Freddie cooed as I led him and a following Delilah outside. I took in the peaceful ambiance of the lush green garden. It was the perfect environment for what I had in mind. "It's beautiful out here." I breathed in the fresh air. We were in the city, but the foliage surrounding us made me feel more in touch with nature, which I loved.
"You're always welcomed here, darling." Freddie said. "You have the key and your guest room is all prepared for you at any time. Roger as well of course." I was touched by the offer. Even though Roger and I would be moving into a mansion of our own within walking distance, it was still a comforting feeling to know that Garden Lodge was our home as well. "Thank you, Freddie." "Oh no need to thank me, my dear." He replied.
I pulled the protective cover over the birdhouse which I had already installed in one of the trees. As soon as I did, several birds flocked from overhead and burrowed inside. Freddie squealed with delight. "Brian, this is beautiful!" He sang and whistled back to the chirping birds. I showed him how the built in bird seed dispensary worked so he could feed the ones who dropped in.
"Oh, Delilah," Freddie purred, "isn't this everything we ever dreamed of! You and Romeo have so much space to run around and I--Darling, what are you doing?"
"She's climbing the tree." I stated the obvious. "I know how protective you are of her, but sometimes she deserves to live like a normal cat and roam free."
Freddie ignored me and stared up at the tree with his arms folded. "Delilah, young lady, you be careful up there! Don't do anything stupid!" With a sassy meow, Delilah jumped toward the birdhouse. Oh no! How could I forget that cats were natural predators of the little winged creatures? Those birds were goners!
"No, Delilah! We don't eat the cute little birdies. They're our friends!" Freddie scolded.
Delilah licked her lips, and I knew there was nothing either of us could do to stop her. I blamed myself for not anticipating the inevitable. Delilah swatted her paw in the birdhouse to get to her prey. Suddenly, she mewled out in pain, and I realized that her paw was stuck. Poor thing couldn't get it out and was clearly hurt.
"Oh God!" Freddie hyperventilated, "No! No! No! Not Delilah! Brian, do something! Please, do something! We need to help her! Delilah, darling, hang on!"
I stood up on my tiptoes so I could reach the branch where the birdhouse was resting. Unlike Freddie, I tried my best to handle the situation calmly. "Okay, Delilah, I'm going to pull your paw out. It might hurt a little, but it won't be as uncomfortable as having your paw stuck in there any longer." I tried to get her paw out gently, but I had to give a bit of a yank to be successful. She hissed in pain, but only for a second, then she went quiet indicating that her agony was over. I examined the paw for any damage, thankfully not spotting anything besides some superficial bruising.
"I-Is she okay?" Freddie whispered.
"She's a tough girl. I think she'll be fine." I assured him as I pet Delilah, trying to get her to stop shaking. Eventually, she eased against my touch and purred. Now, Freddie was the inconsolable one, and I felt horrible.
"Delilah, why would you scare me like that?" Freddie cried. "You know how much I hate it when you get hurt. Come here, darling."
Despite her paw, Delilah was well enough to respond to Freddie's command, leaping from my arms into his. I had never seen a cat so keen to her master. She mewled softly, showing support, and even licked away Freddie's tears as he sobbed. "I hate it when they hurt you."
"They?" I questioned.
I caught his wide fearful eyes and without even reading his mind I understood. The lab rats. Those bastards! "Ah, Fred." I sighed, wrapping my arms around him and Delilah. "I promise I'll do everything to keep you and Delilah safe." It was something I vowed when we left the tower, and I still took the promise with a grave seriousness.
'You've kept your promise, and I love you for it.' Freddie thought as the last of his tears fell. He purred down to Delilah as he stroked her fur in a comfort before singing to heal her paw.
"I've got you, Fred, always." I murmured, holding him steady as the exhaustion from his healing magic overtook him.
'I won't glow. I promise I won't glow. I have it under control.' Freddie would reassure me endlessly on the rare nights I gave into his request and let him sing acoustically. Love of My Life was a fan favorite, and it was easy to see why. It was such a special song. So we were beginning to include in the setlist more often. Reluctantly, I agreed to some more. I always admired Freddie's relentless focus while singing acoustic tracks live. Nothing could undermine his dedication to mastering the notes and passion, but it was clear he put forth so much more energy in these songs. It was no easy feat to repress your body's own natural routine, but if anyone could do it, it was Freddie. I still never let my guard down and spent most of the time holding my breath as I strummed the accompanying acoustic guitar. I could never manage to say no to Freddie's pleas, but performing risks like this was bound to give me a sheer heart attack some day.
One good thing about Freddie singing 39 was the mesmerizing harmonies he created with Roger on the bridge. My voice was fine in the lower register and blended quite well with Roger's falsetto, but I could never achieve that same richness and depth as Freddie. Each note was executed so perfectly it was scary. With a voice that powerful it was no wonder he could use it to harness magic.
'FUCK!' For a moment I thought Freddie had found a way to somehow scream the profanity while still hauntingly singing that beautiful bridge. No, that wasn't the case. The word was simultaneously shouted in his head and it was loud enough for me to overhear without consciously using our connection. I knew something was wrong when I picked up on a subtle quiver in Freddie's vocals that sounded almost unnatural. Was that a voice crack? So muses' voices weren't as flawless as I thought. Not even Roger and Deaky seemed to notice that anything was off let alone the audience. I was quick to assume that this was the calm before the storm. 'You're going to glow, aren't you?' I didn't even look at Freddie as I addressed him mentally. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the slightest movement of his head in a nod.
Not even missing a beat, I took over on the vocals.
'...In the year of '39 came a ship in from the blue..'
Deaky understood what the switch in lead singers signified. As Freddie went quiet to avoid a glow, Deaky grabbed his hand and pulled him into a spontaneous dance sequence that was both adorable and distracting enough for the audience not to care that the muse wasn't singing. I could tell Roger also was straining his voice on the backup vocals to make up for Freddie's misstep, and he nearly broke the tambourine he was smashing it so hard. I stifled a laugh and tried my best to continue.
After the show, as soon as we made our way into the dressing room, Freddie nearly tackled me in a hug so tight I could hardly breathe.
"Brimi, I was so scared!" His confident, powerful stage presence that had the entire stadium in the palm of his hand now withered to this sobbing boy in my arms. I shushed him and returned the embrace.
"I'm so sorry! I put us all at risk. I thought I could get through the bloody song without glowing, but I fucked up. I was trying so had to suppress the glow that my voice even cracked. That's never happened to me before. It must have sounded horrible. Our reviews are going to be horrendous."
"Freddie Mercury!" I scolded, "Do you hear that? They're still out there, applauding us, begging for another encore, cheering for you. You sounded as good as a God and you knew when to stop singing so you wouldn't glow and endanger us. I'm proud of you, Fred. You handled it like a pro."
"You're not mad?" Freddie sniffled. I shook my head. How could I ever be mad at this amazing man who I was honored to call my best friend?
"I've got a surprise for you!" Miami entered the studio proudly, but he was met with a deadly glare from Freddie. He must have picked up that trick from Deaky who could stare a man to death.
"Now is not the time, Miami." I said. "Freddie is dealing with some things right now."
"Um, where are the other two if you don't mind me asking?" Miami wondered.
"Deaky is such a sweetheart he offered to trek all the way back home so he could bring Delilah here to come cheer me up, and Roger said he was getting us coffee, but I'm not sure what's taking him so long." Freddie explained.
Which left me in charge of comforting Freddie as of now. Not to boast, but I thought I was doing a fairly decent job. Then Miami held up the magazine, the very thing that put Freddie in his sour mood. "Well whatever is going on, you should drop everything and take a look at this. Not only are you on the cover, but this entire issue of Rolling Stone is dedicated to Queen. Can you believe it? You boys really have made it big!"
"Believe me, darling, we know all about the magazine." Freddie spoke in an icy cold tone that was almost foreign to the typically sweet muse.
"I'll um leave you two alone then." Miami detected Freddie's vitriol and backed off. "Congratulations!"
"It's hardly worth celebrating." Freddie scoffed as our lawyer turned manager made his exit.
"Come on, Freddie. He meant well. And the publishers and journalists all had good intentions too. The only one making this a bigger deal than it should be is you. We should be proud." I insisted.
"Proud of this?" He cried opening to the very first page featuring a photo of Freddie with his large teeth prominent.
"What the hell was I thinking smiling like that? Why couldn't I just hide it with my lips like I always do?"
"I think you have a beautiful smile, Freddie. You shouldn't have to hide it, and I don't understand why you're so ashamed of it. Like I said it's beautiful."
I took Freddie's hand and lowered it from his mouth. He shook his head. "If there's one thing I hate in this world it's stereotypes, but my bloody teeth make me look like a stereotypical muse. We're all born with extra teeth and larger mouths for larger ranges, but it seems like it's only noticeable on me. Because of this picture more people are going to imagine the muse stereotype and eventually I'll be exposed and ruin everything!"
"Don't be ridiculous, Freddie!" I shouted. "No one suspects an thing. Overbites aren't exclusive to muses, and yours is hardly noticeable. Honestly, I think it suits you. I couldn't imagine you any other way. And don't pay attention to any of those nasty stereotypes. Queen is what's real. The four of us are true to ourselves rather than what society deems us to be. Shouldn't that be what matters in the end?"
"It's not fair, Brimi. Elvis was a muse and his teeth were perfect! From what I remember of my parents, I didn't inherit this from them. Why did I have to be born as Bucky the freak?" He shuddered. 'That's what Bob and some of the other lab rats would call me. Bucky, the miserable muse freak.'
"Whatever they said to you or called you wasn't true. You know that, Freddie. You're magnificent with so much talent that no one could ever top it. I wish you would see yourself in a better light. Besides, you're so worked up by the picture that you didn't even bother to read what wonderful things the critics and fans are saying about you on the next page." I reminded him.
"I read it, but I doubt they'd still say those nice thing if they knew I wasn't human. But in the end all that matters is the opinion of my family. You're the ones who count. And you'll love me no matter what, won't you, Brian?"
'You don't even need to ask.' I thought.
The world seemed to stop the day John Lennon died. It was one of those senseless tragedies that hit you hard. I never got a chance to meet the legend, but I felt empty inside upon hearing the news. Roger was unnaturally quiet throughout the whole day, and I could tell he was also feeling this unspoken numbness that sat in the atmosphere. I let Roger spend his time peacefully lounging in the garden with our rescued badgers and fox cubs to comfort him. It was how I normally healed from these types of things, but today was different. So I went to visit Freddie and Deaky to see how they were handling things.
Freddie was alone, curled up on the couch with a blanket covering most of his body, his eyes blankly glued to the telly. He looked so very small in that position, unlike the flamboyant Freddie we all knew and loved.
"Where's Deaks?" I asked as I sat down on the couch to join him. Freddie barely reacted to my presence. "I sent him to the store to pick up some milk." He murmured. 'I want to be alone.' He thought. That was when I noticed Delilah's absence. She must be in another room, abiding by her master's request to leave him be. But I knew Freddie. Loneliness was the last thing he could ever want.
'...And it was indeed confirmed in the autopsy that the now late John Lennon was an undercover muse. Police are interrogating his wife as well as his former Beatles bandmates. While fans all around the civilization are in mourning, we cannot forget that we live in a society of law and order. If the rules are breached there will be consequences. As such all magical creatures including muses must be registered in the civilization's official database and unless otherwise specified by a judge or higher up official, they must live to serve their purpose as to be determined by their placement in the auction house. Anyone hiding magical creatures will be fined and imprisoned for up to-' I turned off the news report, feeling sick to my stomach.
"They're going to interview the shooter later." Freddie spoke softly. "He's in jail now, but he might get off because...because...Oh, Brimi, why wasn't it me instead? I should have been the muse shot, and John Lennon should have been spared."
"Don't say that, Freddie." I shushed him. "It shouldn't have been anyone. No one deserves that fate."
I was unable to stop myself from crying alongside him. Without saying another word, I pulled Freddie close, securing the blanket around him even tighter. "Is this the world we created?" Freddie sobbed. I had no answer because it was the world we lived in and was a horrid reality. So instead I sang a more positive tune.
"Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky..."
Freddie went quiet, wiping his eyes as I continued to soothe us both with the late muse's beloved song.
"...Imagine all the people
Living for today (ah ah ah)..."
And before I knew it, Freddie was peacefully asleep in my arms. I gave him a sad smile as I continued to hold him. Some day one day things would be different.
"...You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one."
It was never my intention to stop Roger from visiting his family, so I was appalled when he timidly asked for my permission to see his mother on her birthday. "Honey, of course you can go. You don't need my permission. Take as much time as you need. Say hi to Clare for me. And please please avoid the nets."
Now I was wide awake, tossing and turning in my cold lonely waterbed, worried sick about my little siren. I knew better than to believe that Roger would leave me, but sometimes late at night when our minds are allowed to wander, our greatest and most outlandish fears come to fruition. What if he decided that he had enough of the surface world and moved back into the ocean permanently? I suppose that was a better outcome than something tragic happening like a shark attack or getting caught in a net. I didn't know what I would do if any harm came to Roger or his family.
I decided it was best not to face these worrisome negativities alone. It was the middle of the night, but Freddie always answered his phone. Sure enough on the first ring I heard his smooth posh voice. "Hello, darling, you've reached the one and only Freddie Mercury." I immediately felt at ease again. "Fred, it's me. Do you mind if I come over?"
"You don't even need to ask, Bri. you know you're always welcomed here, dear. Deaky and the cats are sleeping, but that won't stop us from having a good time! I'll pour you a drink. It'll be ready by the time you get here."
I could always rely on Freddie for good and bad. His company would take my mind off of everything. As promised, a glass of champaign was already waiting for me on the table when I arrived. Freddie raised his own glass. "Cheers, darling. To Queen and the perfect little family we created."
"We're a bit dysfunctional, but perfect nonetheless." I agree, clinking our glasses. "Cheers." I didn't regret giving Freddie a call as we sat by the fireplace enjoying our drinks, chit-chatting about nothing in particular. Eventually, I felt my eyelids grow heavy. I let out a yawn. "I think I'm going to head in. Thank you for this, Freddie."
"Oh anytime dear, and I've got a surprise for you."
I paused at the threshold leading to the guest room where Roger and I usually stayed if we spent a night at Garden Lodge. The waterbed was in there, set up and ready to go.
"This way." Freddie gestured away from the bedroom, and I followed him curiously. "Now, you can sleep anywhere you'd like. You know I want you to feel at home here. But I prefer you only use that guest room when you're sharing it with Roger. Deaky and I imagined that you'd probably stay here separately more than together on nights like tonight when you're apart to combat the loneliness." He opened the door to another room, revealing a beach theme with the walls and ceiling all painted beautifully to reflect the ocean. The floor tiles were also decorated to reflect sand and shells. It was a warm and bright room that was fitting of Roger's bubbly but rebellious spirit. I nearly doubled over laughing when I spotted the waterbed in a bedframe shaped like a car.
"This is Roger's room obviously. Let me show you yours." Freddie opened the door to the room adjacent to Roger's, and I gasped taking in the beauty. The walls and tiles were painted in a rich black coat, but there were several designs scattered throughout made to resemble twinkling stars. However, the highlight was the ceiling. I stared up in wonder at the painting of the solar system with every detail from the planets to the solar rings completed with accuracy. "I used one of your space books for the modeling when I painted it. I hope you like it, dear." Freddie said.
"I love it!" I proclaimed. "Freddie, it's perfect!"
I lay down on the bed with a perfect view of the stars and planets. Thoughts of my Roger are always close, but thanks to Freddie's distraction, they seem further away like another galaxy. I still missed him dearly, but I could cope.
"You get some rest, darling. Do you want me to sing you a lullaby?" Freddie offered.
"No, Fred, you really don't have to--"
"Ooh, you make me live
Whatever this world can give to me
It's you you're all I see
Ooh, you make me live now honey
Ooh, you make me live..."
"Didn't John write that song for you?" I felt funny hearing it sung to me even if it wasn't in a romantic sense.
"Of course he wrote it for me, but if he wanted it to be our song, then he would have gotten those lyrics engraved on my ring instead of Just You and I. I think it's perfectly fine if I sing this song to my best friend and save other things for the love of my life." Freddie replied.
"Meow." Delilah poked her head through the doorway.
"One of my best friends." Freddie corrected himself rolling his eyes at the cat. "It's late, Delilah. Go back to sleep, my other best friend." Satisfied with his answer, she went back to her room.
"...Oh, you're the best friend that I ever had
I've been with you such a long time
You're my sunshine and I want you to know
That my feelings are true
I really love you
Oh, you're my best friend..."
And as I fell asleep listening to Freddie's sweet voice lull me there, I realized how blessed I was to have a best friend like him in my life.