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Fire with Water

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He's been fast to react when Jimmy collapsed.

He learned this type of behavior very well. All these fidgeting, nervousness, irritability. He kept eye on Jimmy since they started tour and for good. He knew it's hard to jump back to business after almost three years but he was angry, what the hell was Jimmy thinking?

Paul had a feeling that something was off and when in the middle of conversation Jimmy mumbled weak excuses and headed to the bathroom Paul got it. Immediately. He slipped from his sit and followed casually, pretending it's all fine. No need to attract attention. As soon as he closed the door separating himself from the rest of his fellow musicians and members of the crew he almost broke into run thinking on the way how far had Jimmy gone. Was he supposed to call a doctor? No, he had no time. He broke into the loo to catch Jimmy's annoyed sight.

'What on earth are you–'

He didn't finish, his speech began to tail off right before Jimmy faded out, falling into Paul's hands. It was so fast Paul didn't even had time to think anything, only long after the accident he started to question if Jimmy would die had he not stuck around but when it happened his head was as empty as a new page in his notebook while they were working on songs. Beeing so thin Jimmy still seemed heavy, Paul gently put him on the floor, keeping his head on his shoulder, shaking him.

'Jimmy? Do you hear me? Come on', he called with no luck. Jimmy didn't response, he was unconcious and damn pale, moreover he started twitching, there was scary creaky noise coming from his throat like Jimmy wasn't able to breathe. Paul didn't hesitate even for a moment, he didn't care if he would leave a mark or cause Jimmy's unsatisfaction, he slapped his cheeck. At first it was a weak but it brought no improvement and Paul went hard. Sound of coming slaps rang in his ears along with hysterical inner voice whispering that he should stop it now because Jimmy is goner, Paul didn't want to believe it. No way he would stop fighting, he lost one fight already, not this one. Not again. 'Come on, don't do that to me. Come back', he pleaded.

Green eyes opened slowly and Jimmy stared at him blindy, not really recognizing anything around. These huge dark pupils sucked Paul's soul out of him, he was looking in Jimmy's eyes and seeing another. Someone younger, someone who had different hair colour and different fate. He tried to get rid of this image, keep himself busy taking care of Jimmy, holding him, convincing him to talk.

'You're so loud', Jimmy grimaced, 'Wait, did I–?'

'Yes, but you're safe. I'm here with you, how do you feel?'

'I cannot breath and, oh god, do you feel it? What's wrong? My heartbeat–Shit, am I gonna die?'

'You won't, it's all right. Look at me, no fuss, take a deep breath, let's count it. In and out, in and out, you're doing good, see'

Repeating after him Jimmy seemed to calm down a little. Still his heart was on a race jumping so hard in his puny chest as if it wanted out. Jimmy moved, tried to sit up himself, his hands and legs were shaking badly. He looked down on his palms with growing panic so Paul caught them. They were cold as ice and blue, his lips turned blue as well. No, not now. Not here. Not in front of Paul. Unbearable heartache made him cringe, he bit his cheeck from the inside untill physical pain overtook.

'Look, how many fingers?'

'Two?', Jimmy said unconfidently and blinked.

'Yes, now?'

'Five'

'Okay. Good. You are fully conscious and fine, just a little cold'

'I cannot feel my arms'

Paul squeezed them harder. He massaged Jimmy's palms roughly, pressing hard, trying to make up conversation to keep his attention.

'How do you feel? What do you remember?'

'I'm dizzy–I think we were talking and I felt bad, I came here, you broke in and I fell down'

'Exactly. You're correct, see, you remember everything'

The door knob turned. Both of them twitched and Paul could swear he didn't remember closing that door. Luckily he did.

'Hey there, how long are you gonna take?'

Wyman. Jesus Christ, whoever but not him. Paul could see tension between Jimmy and the rest of the guys, he shared their pain and related to their annoyance with Jimmy's reckless behavior, his binge drinking and performing high but he couldn't be angry at Jimmy for more than a few hours. He couldn't abandon him all alone between these people. Of course first intentions were good, many like Jeff and Eric were enthusiastic to help Jimmy to get back on stage but Jimmy digged his own grave putting his dangerous pleasures ahead of everything. Paul saw it already and he was aching for Jimmy and tried his best to stay calm and act as everything was perfect yet even he couldn't be always positive, blind and forgiving. He heard Jimmy and Jeff fighting a couple of times and, yes, Jimmy deserved it but seeing his fake cocaine-boosted smiles and sad empty eyes always left Paul mellowing. He tried to keep Jimmy company as much as he could and now they were in this together without a question.

'Just a few minutes', Paul shouted over his shoulder with Jimny clinging to him and white as first snow.

'Don't let him in, don't let him see. I don't want anyone to know', Jimmy gibbered, obvoisly scared. At least he realized what was happening around, good sign.

'Of course'

'Are you fucking someone or are you having constipation?', hissed Bill impatiently. Jimmy on the other side went almost hysterical.

'Jesus, do something, make him go away'

Paul gritted his teeth. It was tough shit. He tried to come up with something but his brains were in a state of deep stress, he was only able to spit out, 'Not your business, okay?'

Wyman cursed and pulled the knob again. However seeing that Paul wouldn't give up he sweared and left letting Paul turn his attention to Jimmy again.

'Do you feel my touches? Better now?'

'Kinda'

'I'll get you water'

Jimmy grabbed his shirt. 'Don't. Stay with me, I don't think I can make it. I–I cannot hear you very well, I'm gonna pass out'

Paul bent closer to him and said to Jimmy's ear, 'You won't, do you hear me better now?'

'I can see your hair', Jimmy said instead pointing at his chest.

'Keep on talking, tell me a story'

Jimmy looked confused. His lips moved without producing any sound, he shook again and Paul gave him a tight squeeze.

'When me and Jeff were teens–Once we went to the beach. Did I tell you I cannot swim?'

'Yes, I know'

'This fucker–This fucker though it's a joke. He pushed me into the ocean and I almost drowned'

'How old were you?'

'I have overdose, right?', Jimmy said as casually as if they were discussing what are they having for dinner.

'No', lies. He had to lie for Jimmy's sake, otherwise things would get worse. Paul remembered it, all he should do was to provide Jimmy comfort, reassure him about his poor condition.

'Seventeen, about that'

'How do you feel now?'

'Hell, great', Jimmy suddenly sparkled. Now his eye shined with rapture, this sort of look and change of behavior sent chills down Paul's spine. Oh, how he wished Jimmy would look like that at him under normal circumstances. Jimmy moved closer almost pressing his nose into Paul's, 'Did you ever notice what a beautiful eye colour you have?'

'It's normal'

'No', Jimmy insisted, 'It's so beautiful. I feel so damn good and this hand massage is amazing. Have I ever told you how nice you're?'

'I think you're talking rubbish', Paul replied sourly. He knew this well too. Koss used to say it to them every time he was high as kite when his dope was good. When it wasn't...It was another story, rather sad. Then they would get him through the darkest hours and Koss used to repeat what a good friends they were. Fucking awesome friends who couldn't help him in the end.

Jimmy smiled deliriously and this moment Paul realized coke took over and carried him away to some sort of artificial heaven Jimmy created for himself since Bonzo passed away. Koss did the same, only Paul couldn't afford being wasted and lost in his grieve. It was fucking unfair.

In his life he fell in love with men twice. There was something painfully common between them even their appearance and behavior was different like fire and water. Koss was young, unconfident and burning with passion. Jimmy carried this flame inside his heart too but he kept himself cool, even rough and arrogant sometimes. Paul knew him long enough to read between the lines, now since Jimmy lost the most important thing in his life he let himself open up, reveal his weaker sides. Not to everyone, only to someone who gained his trust. Paul did. He was surprised to know how gentle Jimmy was inside, how easy to hurt, how much pain he got from every poke that critics loved to give him.

From the first time he saw Koss playing Paul knew he was special. Not just an incredible guitar player, there was something more in that small teen with raw soulful technic and wild mane of curls. What Paul didn't realise was that he fell in love. He was too young and bald to notice, he grew closer with Koss abnormally fast but he failed to admit to himself that there was much more than their share of musical tastes and strong emotional connection. When he found out it was too late and to his own shame he felt a little relieved when Free broke up. He thought less they see faster he would get Koss out of his head. It didn't work. When he came back it was late again. He wanted to save this fragile gentle young man from himself but they all failed, they terribly failed Koss, they let him down which resulted into tragedy. Paul was smart enough to learn from his mistakes and stuck to Jimmy when the problems occurred. Of course he wouldn't even dream of any sort of relationships outside of friendship but seeing Jimmy's struggles made him hurt. Jimmy rolled down the same road, Paul saw it all already. He was agonizing thinking about how useless he is, he and Jeff were the first ones who encouraged Jimmy to get his guitar out of the closet and play. He watched as ones beautiful talented man was becoming a rust wreck. Drugs took everything from him, his skills, his creativity, his self confidence, his sence of reality. Paul didn't shy away from him no matter what.

'I've seen the cosmos', Jimmy continued meanwhile, 'And I thought that's it, I'm done. And then I heard your voice, I always loved your voice'

Yeah, his voice that's all Jimmy sees. Sadly. Paul felt the smell of his mouth, some booze and fruits, as he was talking. Jimmy had fruity cocktails this noon, a lot of cocktails that could get bunch of people drunk but it wasn't Jimmy's case. He looked straight in Jimmy's face just to get lost in green haze, for a moment he thought everything was possible. For a moment he slipped into dream of kissing Jimmy right now, telling him everything. The miracle was broken as Jimmy giggled and rubbed his shoulder.

'I was always a little jealous of poor old Koss, not like I was unsatisfied with Percy–'

'Fine', Paul interrupted and pulled away, 'I see you're getting better, so why don't we go back and forget all of it'

Jimmy moved aside as well feeling his growing coldness. Their moment was over, they had responsibilities and Paul was worried about how Jimmy was going to play. Of course he always pulled the best he could out of himself balancing on the edge of disaster, still Paul felt fed up with Jimmy right now, with his lack of liability, with his stupidness that put his live on risk. Or maybe he didn't want to admit that he was angry at himself for inappropriate thoughts, he couldn't confess no matter what, it would do more harm than good, it would break Jimmy's heart. Paul couldn't betray his trust and this fragile image of normality they built up. Still he couldn't withdraw from feelings he had.

Anyway he pushed the door leaving Jimmy behind. Sure he was ready to catch him every time Jimmy falls, for now it was just enough.