By the time Roger has dragged himself up the front steps to his flat, he knows he won't make it.
It is fucking grim and unfair. Involuntary, useless tears spring into his eyes at the concluding thought that, oh my God, I'm dying. He rakes through his thoughts, skims through all the knowledge he had gathered and saved from his biology years and in spite of all his wit, his mind comes up with nothing that could possibly safe him from his fate.
Every staggering step towards the front door feels like the last. Every breath he takes is another stab to his chest.
His hands are slick with blood when he miraculously makes it.
He collapses on the front door, in trying to shakily grasp for his keys. His teeth are clattering and he shivers from the cold that seeps deep into his bones when the first systems in his body are starting to fail. The only thing that is keeping him warm is the blood soaked through his clothes.
"Shit." He struggles to get the key to fit into the hole. "Fuck. Shit. Fucking bastard. Fuck."
He is dying. He can't believe it. He can't wrap his head around it, which is why he thinks he isn't curling up on the floor and giving up. It is a little too surreal. It can't be him. This can't be him.
His shaking hands close around the key hard enough to leave dents in his palm. This time when he tries, the key slips into the lock with a familiar click that almost get his gates flooding tears.
Limping into his and Freddie's flat is like an embrace. The thick copper taste in his mouth is momentarily forgotten when he inhales the scent of home.
Before he collapses, he at least has the decency to shut the door. Although he has left a nasty red trail behind that'll surely have people knocking on his door first thing in the morning.
But he won't be here to answer it.
First things first, with shaking hands and blurring vision, Roger unbuttons his coat and hangs it amongst Freddie's, as if this were any normal day.
He knows he shouldn't be closing his eyes, not now, but he can't help them fluttering shut when he takes a sharp inhale of Freddie's infamous fur coat. It smells exactly like him, with his lingering coconut shampoo and off-brand cologne. Roger stands there for one moment too long and his brain grow fuzzy, his legs get weak.
His hands have curled into the coat and it does the perfect job of soaking up Roger's silent tears.
"I don't want to die." He says, feverishly, but every word is a wheezing rattle now that the adrenaline has faded.
It had taken all of his energy to haul himself off the streets into the building. Just his luck, to die from a random stabbing one block away from his house. He forces himself not to sob, with every breath he takes, blood gushes from his chest and into his mouth.
He has never heard his heartbeat so fast as now, when he staggers back from the coat hangers to look at the damage.
One single glance says it all: damaged.
Roger inhales again and the pain starts to sink in. He is pain everywhere, his stab wounds hurt by far the most, but every bit of him is in shambles. Most importantly his legs are stiff with the sensation of a thousand pins and needles piercing him at once. As he crumbles to the floor he realizes he cannot distinguish the sound of his teeth chattering and his heart racing.
Okay. He gulps. Damaged beyond repair.
He is on the floor now, but not yet immobile. He is still on his hands and knees bleeding all over Freddie's precious carpet. Of fuck. He groans miserably, first because he knows he won't ever hear the end of it, but then, because he won't ever hear it at all.
A cold shiver runs down his spine when he crawls a few feet off the carpet to minimise the damage.
He tries to recall the last time they spoke... The last time.
Roger struggles to remember what exactly they had said to each other with his head growing fuzzy. They never part on bad terms or without at least one touch, not always a hug, sometimes they just brush shoulders as they pass each other or a touch of the hand. When Roger is lucky, he gets a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth. He can't remember the last thing Freddie has ever said to him or how he had found an excuse to touch Roger. It was probably something easy and comfortable, something forgettable.
He has slowly begun tilting sideways until he almost facepalms with the floor. He completely loses balance when he doesn't focus completely on his body. Which means focusing on the pain.
The pain is fucking unbearable.
When it had just happened, Roger had witnessed a drug exchange, by pure coincidence, by accident. But he had seen their faces in the illumination of the street light. All three of them had realized the same thing at the same time. Roger hadn't intended to be there or bust them, yet he was and he did. He tried to make a run for it. He hadn't made it far, before he was dragged by his collar into the same alleyway and stabbed, repeatedly, until he was crumbling and no longer able to scream. He tried to pretend he was dead very early on, trying to get them to stop, but the men hadn't fallen for it and continued the onslaught with their shiny pocket knives, dulled by the end of it.
They had left in a hurry. Left him for dead.
Roger had immediately decided he was not going to die in the dark alleyway alone. He got up to his feet, pressed his palms to the worst of his wounds to slow down the bleeding and hurried towards the flat.
The warmth of the flat is a welcoming contrast to his freezing skin, although he had forgotten that Freddie wasn't home. He is with Brian tonight.
Every nerve in his body cries out when he starts blindly crawling across the room. Breathing gets hard and he consciously has to force himself to keep sucking in breaths. Another sign that his systems are failing to keep up with normal commands.
Roger hauls himself across the room with much more effort than it should take. Every part of him is trembling when he grasps for the phone on the little wooden table. He sits up against the wall and drags the whole device down and into his lap with a crash of pain. Blood is everywhere. The floor, the carpet, the phone. The worst part is, that none of it is in his body. He knows that sooner or later he will be going into shock. He's already sweating profoundly and his heart is beating too fast.
Of course he remembers Brian's number, but the numbers keep going in and out of focus.
At some point, Roger almost nods off. He startles up when his chin hits his chest. He gasps and clasps the phone hard in his hands.
Not dead yet.
In a shaky grasp he brings the phone to his ear and holds onto it like his lifeline. His breath comes out in short laboured bursts in rhythm with the beeping tone of the connecting line.
"Please." The painstaking wait forms a lump in his throat. "Pick up. Please pick up."
Roger bumps his head back against the wall and is this close to giving up and coming to terms with dying alone, in the whole sense of the word. Utterly alone.
Until a soft click causes the beeping to end and the sound of Freddie's voice vibrates warmth right into Roger's ear.
"Brian May's residence, who do I have here?"
This is possibly the most selfish thing Roger has ever done.
He licks his lips and realizes his tongue is dry as a cork. "Freddie?"
"Oh Roger, it's you." He pulls the phone away from his lips and calls out to Brian, presumably, "It's just Roger." Then he goes back to speaking directly into the phone. "Everything alright over there? Did you need anything?"
Roger swallows thickly. All he tastes is blood from where he had bitten through his tongue during the attack.
Speaking hurts, more than anything. He cannot watch his chest when he does it. The sight of blood gushing when he forces air out of his lungs is sickening.
"I just wanted--" He wheezes, high and painfully.
Freddie clears his throat and the rustling suggests that he adjusted the phone. "Come again, dear?"
"Just wanted to... To hear your voice." He forces past his lips.
Freddie remains quiet for a hot second and then he asks with that loving mirth in his voice. "Are you drunk?"
I wish "No." He swallows again. This time to stop the blood from dribbling out his mouth when it had come surging up spontaneously with a gush of oxygen. "I don't want to be alone right now." He sounds sickly young, and small. His brain is too woozy for him to even imagine how Freddie would interpret his behaviour, but he is selfish in this. Entirely selfish.
He knows he should say something, anything about what had happened to him. But Freddie would just try calling an ambulance. He would get off the phone and make a ruckus. Their last moments would be filled with panic and hazard. Maybe the medics would make it to his flat on time and perhaps they would even break through the door before he was dead, but he knows he wouldn't survive the ride to the hospital. He knows he wouldn't want to die in the arms of a strange nurse, trying to breathe the life back into him and deforming his unsavable body in the process before his funeral.
After a long pause of just Roger breathing heavily into the receiver, Freddie continues, although a bit more hesitant.
"Well, alright. I'm still with Brian, working on that song he kept going on about-- not going too well I'm afraid." He sighs, "I might not be home until tomorrow afternoon I fred, if we also want to work on my song before we get the studio after five. You don't mind opening the stall without me, do you?"
When his vision starts to go black, Roger allows his eyes to fall shut. He is breathing a lot slower now, although his lungs don't seem to fill up anymore. He is sitting in a puddle of his own blood and his skin and everything underneath is ice cold. Talking seems almost impossible now and he worries that only half the words he is thinking are being vocalized.
"I don't mind." He utters.
"...If something is wrong you can tell me, Roger--"
"I'm sorry." Roger doesn't have any sensation in his hands anymore. The fingers around the phone are numb and stiff without any blood circulating to them anymore. "I made a mess of your carpet."
Tears slip out from the corners of his closed eyes at the admission. He will be in such a state when he finds the place like this. When he finds Roger like this.
"You better clean that up before I'm home, dear." Freddie answers, although his voice rings with laughter. "Can't leave you alone for five bloody minutes, can I?"
"No." Roger's lips barely part as he speaks in a toneless whistle.
Freddie earnest, worried voice carries across the line and Roger holds his breath for a moment, just to hear him a little better over the wheezing of his lungs and the ringing of his ears.
"If you need me to come home right now, you know I will right?"
He knows Freddie can tell that he is crying. "I know."
Freddie has heard Roger cry perhaps a handful times in their joint life and none of those times did Roger want to talk about it. Freddie skillfully avoids outright mentioning it.
"You can also come over to Brian's place and have a couple of drinks with us? Talk about his song. I feel a little awful now, leaving you there all alone."
The white noise of cars rushing by and wind howling outside becomes a faraway memory. Roger stops feeling sensation from his body altogether and doesn't know how he is still holding the phone to his ear. Everything is okay now, he thinks a little sadly. It doesn't hurt at least and the warm sensation of euphoria spreads from the growing point of light in the darkness of his mind.
"Freddie." Roger forces himself to wheeze while he still can. "Freddie, I love you."
With his eyes closed, he can picture it perfectly, the way Freddie's dark eyes always light up when he says it. When he reaffirms how deeply and truly he feels for him.
Without skipping a beat, Freddie echoes the words back. "And I love you, Rog. Of course I love you." He chuckles curtly, still obviously concerned. "You know that."
Roger tries to say something else. He tries to push the words past his lips and the air through his lungs, but the struggle no longer has any use.
His vision gets consumed by the growing light and his physique disconnects completely from his mind. Moments later he is floating into space and relieved from communication with his body. He sees nothing, feels nothing and hears nothing, other than the blissful melody of Freddie's voice lulling him into a dreamless sleep.
"I could give you a little preview of the song Brian had written up, I think you'll like it actually, although it won't be the most exciting to drum. It's still very good. I know I'm very proud of it...
This will be acapella after three beers so no shit from you, thank you. It's two in the morning after all. Can't expect me to be at my best around the clock.
Alright. We are still working on the lyrics, but you listen carefully.
Once I believed in everyone. Everyone and anyone can see.
The night comes down and I get afraid of losing my way.
The night comes down and it's dark again.
Once I could laugh with everyone. Once I could see the good in me. The black and the white distinctively. Colouring, holding the world inside.