It's too quiet when Orlando pulls out his headphones. His music usually gives way to Felix chattering or video game sounds or at least their driver's radio lowly playing. But right now, nothing really goes to his ears. The bus is not moving either.
It must be late at night, and slowly, it dawns on Orlando that he's fallen asleep at a weird time of day and is now fully awake. Pushing the curtain of his bunk aside, he realises only Sam seems to be asleep. There's a soft snore coming from behind the curtain of his bunk, and all others are empty. The sounds change. Orlando can make out distinct chatter, as well as gentle acoustic guitar melodies.
He walks into the lounge. Hugo's there, alone with a guitar, and he doesn't even notice Orlando until the singer sits down next to him.
"You're awake," he simply states.
"Yeah… you too. Where are we?" Orlando tries to make out shapes behind the darkened windows.
"In a forest in Germany, apparently. We're stuck I think. Rupert and Felix and everyone's outside to see what's up or get help or whatever."
"And Sam is asleep I think," concludes Orlando.
"I wasn't gonna state the obvious," smiles Hugo. "Actually I'm glad you're here, I… erm, I think I've written something decent."
Orlando shuffles closer, pulling his legs to his body. It is not terribly warm in the bus and aren't you always a little cold after sleeping?
"Just decent? I don't wanna hear it," he says, and, "Hugo, I'm joking", when Hugo doesn't react.
"I'm serious, let's hear it."
Hugo smiles a bit. "It's… not very good, I guess."
"You said it was decent!" Orlando chuckles.
"Yeah…," Hugo drawls. "Maybe it isn't."
"Maybe it is."
Hugo sighs. "Alright. I'll do it."
Orlando leans in, listening carefully. Hugo often does not dare to sing very loudly, and right in this moment, with Sam sleeping down the corridor and the nightwood surrounding them, it wasn't the right moment for singing loudly anyway.
Thought I'd find it easier
Under lock, chain and key
Thought I'd find it easier
To just keep you to me
Hugo sings quietly, slowly, his fingers lightly pulling the strings.
When the wisdom and the patience
Of the world's wasted on me
That's when I shut down my relationships
Watch them floating out to sea
He's got his eyes closed, which is rare, and seems to be completely lost in his own track. It's sad and beautiful and Orlando doesn't completely understand, so he sits on and listens in awe, honoured that Hugo is sharing this moment with him.
I understand that it never ends
She's waiting 'round every corner, 'round every bend
And it hurts to know that I won't know if you knew how
The summer went
I understand silence
Felix always says he's not thinking about lyrics when he's faced with them, he cares more about the music and writing the music, but it is completely beyond Orlando how that is even possible. He knows that he himself thinks too much. But Christ, if Felix can't even appreciate Hugo's talent for words that are simple, yet let your emotions well up like a tidal wave that floods your tear ducts, he's beyond help.
If possible, Hugo gets even quieter, his playing gets softer, and he repeats the last verse.
Someone to call a best friend
Someone to be here when it ends
When you're scared and lost, don't let it all build up
Break the silence
It's hard to breathe. It takes Orlando a minute to realise it's not the air, it's his throat. He hadn't realised he's been crying. Wiping away a tear doesn't help.
Orlando tries to hide his face, but Hugo, with a light chuckle, holds his hands away.
"Oh, poor child." He's still laughing, why is he laughing? How can he possibly be laughing after this?
Hugo puts his guitar away next to him and shuffles closer to Orlando. "Was it really that bad?"
Orlando shakes his head. He can't look at Hugo like this, it's ridiculous. He's always been very emotional and a quick cryer, but Hugo has not deserved this reaction.
He takes a deep breath. Inhales. Exhales. "That was the most beautiful and heartbreaking thing I've ever heard," he whispers, voice not completely there yet. And then another sob comes rumbling from the back of his throat.
Hugo smiles. "I feel like this is a positive cry, so it's all alright." He gently puts his arms around the singer's hunched shoulders. "You can keep crying if you want."
"It's definitely a positive cry." Orlando is already laughing again, but mostly at his own stupidity.
"C'mere," Hugo whispers and pulls Orlando into a weird side-hug before realising that it's not really comfortable for either of them.
"Can we just cuddle?," Orlando asks.
"Yeah, yes definitely. Please."
They somehow work it out. Like finding the flawless sleeping position, they turn and slide and move and lean and it clicks suddenly, falls into place, the planets align, and it's the most comfortable Orlando's been in days. Even when it means that he's basically in Hugo's lap, but otherwise he wouldn't be able to rest his head on top of Hugo's, who's pressing the side of his face to Orlando's collarbones. It somehow fits perfectly.
"Are you still crying?," Hugo inquires after some moments of silence where breathing next to each other is enough.
"No… I. I-I'd like to have this on the album," Orlando says. "Unless you're not ready for that, of course."
"It's just a rough draft." Hugo sighs. "I don't think I'd be ready now. But the album will take some more time, so maybe I am by the time we're actually doing it."
"I just love it a lot," Orlando admits. Then, "Do you ever… wanna talk about it?"
It sounds so cliché, but there's literally no way around asking like this. When Hugo wrote Grew Up At Midnight, it took him some time to actually talk about it, but Orlando has the feeling that this will take even longer. If it ever happens.
"And if this goes on the album… I just wanna make clear that I want you to sing it yourself."
"Do you want me to cry?" Hugo chuckles. "You know I'm not exactly in love with my own voice…"
Orlando moves his head from where it rests on Hugo's and looks at Hugo until he catches his eye.
"I'm not gonna sing it. We don't even have to play it live, ever. I just want you to… try at least. Please. We can't keep this song a secret."
Hugo sighs. "Let me work on it. I'll see how releaseable it will be eventually."
"That's the spirit!" He kisses Hugo's forehead softly before resting his chin on his head again.
"And now let me nap for at least a minute."