Empty swimming pools [BxB]

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Lover, please stay

- Man, are you ok? You look like you’ve seen a ghost?

Sam shakes Lennon just after he comes to the bar. Air is getting thinner in this place, it is hard to catch a breath, he wants to get out in the fresh air but then realises he can’t because William and Nina are there somewhere. So he decides to go to the bar.

- I think he snorted something dodgy in the bathroom. - Nate says almost casually - What did we tell you about doing lines with strangers Len, you can’t trust they will have good stuff, remember the gig in..

- Shut up Nate, I didn’t take anything. - Lennon growls. - But I sure want to now.

- What happened? - Jorja comes close, pushing Nate away and grabbing Lennon’s arm.

- He went after her. I need a drink. -

He says with a shaky voice, not looking at any of his friends. Bartender is pouring him straight gin and he can’t wait for the hard liquor to soothe his dry throat.

William told him they will try, whatever that means.

That he cared about him, whatever that means.

Not that he needed words, because William’s body told him so much more than words have. But then Nina saw them in front of the restrooms and at first he didn’t even register her. He was so happy, his brain became cotton candy and everything sweet in the world. He fell to his knees to try to make William stay, it was desperate, he could’ve never believed that he would ever go that low, that he would beg on his knees for love. Literally.

But he begged, and he sucked him dry, and William said they will try. Since that moment, Nina wasn’t in the picture from Lennon’s perspective. So seeing shock on her face, her eyes rigid, narrowed, cold, hard he didn’t care. At that moment Lennon knew that he was the enemy. But it doesn’t matter, in this war called love, everything is fair.

He doesn’t want to surrender, this feeling is too important to let go, and he will fight for it.

Lennon most definitely didn’t plan on Nina to see them in action, his only goal was to get William away from her for just a moment, because she just wouldn’t let go of him the whole evening and it was driving Lennon insane. It just escalated from there. His only thought was that he just won the battle. He gets to be with William. But when Nina ran away and William ran after her, Lennon’s confused mind realised one thing - he might have won a battle, but not the war.

- Hon, you need to slow down on the booze. - Jorja is concerned. - Come, let’s go home and we’ll talk about it, whatever it is I’m sure we’ll figure it out.

- I have to talk to him, not you Jo. But he didn’t come back inside. - Lennon downs another drink, letting the liquor burn his throat and stares desperately at the entrance. It’s been half an hour, maybe more, he can’t take the uncertainty. So he takes his phone out of the pocket and starts typing a message. He doesn’t know what he wants to write and when he does it’s dumb, his drunk mind is blurring his vision, typing words is a task he can’t complete. Next thing, he’s calling William’s number, walking away from the bar into the more quiet area so he can hear better. Pickuppickuppickup his brain is impatient.

- Hello? - Lennon hears a voice on the other side but it’s not the one he wants to hear, his heartbeat quickens. He opens his mouth but words don’t come out. He looks again at the screen but it still says William.

- What do you want, Lennon? - Nina’s voice is not how he remembers it. - Don’t call him ever again, do you hear me! - she’s raising her voice and Lennon can feel her pain for the first time.

- N.. Nina .. I’m sorry I.. please, can I just talk to William? I need to... - he’s smaller than a mouse, his voice is shaking and he doesn’t know what is happening - why does Nina have William’s phone? Are they still together? Why would he give her his phone? Where is William?

- No! - she shouts. - You don’t need anything but to stop playing your little seductive games with my boyfriend! Do you hear me, Lennon? Stop disturbing us!

Us? She said us. Lennon is about to pass out, he is leaning against the wall, somewhere in this busy but less noisy corridor. There’s people approaching him to say hi, he thinks he sees Dua Lipa passing by and shouting Afterparty at Chiltern Firehouse, Lennon but all he is doing is trying to process Nina’s angry words on the phone.

- This is not what I wanted Nina, please understand. I just want to talk to Will, it’s really important. I won’t disturb you anymore, promise, we... We are.. - he wants to say in love.

- We? There’s no we. Lennon, don’t you understand? William will never leave me. Not for someone like you, come on, he was only confused, he made a mistake, you can’t possibly think you two had something? - there’s a flicker of amusement or mocking in the way she’s talking to him now. Who is this woman, that can’t be Nina. Lennon is becoming more and more frustrated, he lets himself slide all the way down the wall, putting his elbows on his bent knees and lowering his head.

- Give me. William. On the phone. Fuck! - he loses his temper finally. He doesn’t care who sees.

- He doesn’t want to talk to you, Lennon. Stop calling. - she hangs up.

Out in the venue the party is raging. All his friends are having a good time, he can see them smile and joke and drink. He can barely hear anything as he runs his fingers through the hair repeatedly. Shit! He can feel the rush coming over him, pounding in his ears and the tight pressure on his chest getting stronger.

With long strides he heads towards the exit, he has to go away from this place. In the loud mess that his thoughts are, William’s face is a steady constant, the only thing that is certain and absolute, even though nothing seems alright, he can hear that voice saying that he cares about him and that wasn’t a goodbye.

Lennon is outside now and he’s successfully avoiding anyone else who wants to talk to him. He finds himself on the street looking for a taxi but ironically there’s none, the rain is picking up and he laughs at himself at the situation. Can something good happen? Someone puts a hand on his shoulder.

- Hey. Need a ride? - Lennon almost jumps at the contact and there’s only one face that he hopes he will see.

- Matty.. It’s you.. You scared me.

He can’t be more disappointed to see Matty. They are friends, not close friends but party friends and they might have fucked a few times in the past when both were bored or high but he could not stand his face the whole evening.

Matty was very persistent the whole night, there was no doubt he wanted to hook up. Even though Lennon bluntly let him know that he’s not interested, William noticed how close Matty was and Lennon really didn’t want it to become a problem with William. But he couldn’t do much more without giving their relationship away; he couldn’t just go and talk to William when Nina was attached to his hip the whole time. Only thing he could do is stay close, keep his eyes focused on William the whole time, barely listening to what Matty was saying. He even lied a little and said he never had anything with Matty, he couldn’t risk William thinking that Lennon is sleeping with everyone. Even if he did before he most definitely doesn’t want to now. And the truth is, he can’t even remember his few times with Matty. He can’t even understand why he thought any of his past lovers were fun because after William, he never wants to fuck any of them ever again.

- I’m sorry I scared you, darling. Come on, my car’s right here. Shall we go to the after party? Or to yours? - he hugs him and comes closer to his face, now wet from rain. Lennon doesn’t like it.

- I’m gonna go home. Not feeling like partying tonight.

- That’s a first coming from you, babe. - he laughs. - But that’s okay. I love our own private parties. Come.

- It’s fine. I will get a taxi.

- Taxi? In this weather, on Saturday night? Good luck with that. - Matty laughs again and grabs Lennon by his arm pulling him toward his car. Lennon follows like there’s no willpower in him to do anything else. - You seem upset, Lennon, I saw you running out. Everything ok? - Matty questions and Lennon just stares at the wet concrete, not really listening to Matty, Nina’s words playing over and over again in his head, tears on his face mixing with the rain.

- Not ok. Just want to go home.

- Come on, let’s get you in the car. - Matty opens the door for him and soon after they leave.

The drive is almost silent, Matty obviously realising that something is wrong and doesn’t want to intrude, and Lennon is grateful. He is staring at his phone in his lap, hoping it will ring and that it will be William. The car suddenly stops and when Lennon looks outside the window he realizes they are in front of his building, this colourful and lively neighbourhood still beaming with people despite the rain and late night hours.

- Hey. We’re here. Lennon? - he turns and looks at Matty and his handsome cheerful face that he was always attracted to.

- Matty... thank you.

- Lennon, listen, I don’t want to ask questions, you’re obviously going through something. But just want you to know, I’m here for you, I can... help? - Matty is touching Lennon’s cheek with his cold knuckles.

- Matty...

- I can come up. We’ll smoke if you want. I have some really good shit. - Lennon drops his head, his hair falling over his tired face. - Relax. I can make you feel better. You know I can, babe. - Matty is coming closer, he starts slowly sliding his hand down Lennon’s thigh purposely and Lennon is turning his head away from him. There’s only one person that can make him feel better.

- No Matty. I am sorry. I... I gotta go.

- Ok ok, we don’t have to do anything, we can just talk, I can just stay with you until you fall asleep, make you a cup of tea.

- Thank you. Truly . But I want to be alone.
Lennon pulls him into a hug and kisses his cheek, Matty opens his mouth to say something else but Lennon opens the door and closes it saying goodnight. The two-floor house before him stands in a row of similar-sized houses. He goes in, climbs the second floor, clenching his hands in tight fists as he walks into the living room to pour himself a drink. Filling the crystal highball half full, he brings it to his lips. His hand trembles and the liquid sloshes over the edge of the glass, leaving a wet trail on his Armani dress shirt, but he doesn’t care about the shirt or the stain. It would take amnesia or senility for him to forget this night.

Nothing could have prepared him for the actual experience of spending hours in William’s arms cocooned in the darkness. He didn’t know their breathing could sync like that. This evening’s pain proved there is a name for what he felt - love. Terrifying, heart-consuming love.

It snuck up on him, then whacked him in the head like a hammer. William had been making a home inside him since the day he walked into that backstage.

He sits on the kitchen stool, he’d sat on so many times when he was writing songs, staring at the empty beer bottles that his friends and he left earlier. In the corner of the living room is the old piano from Lennon’s childhood, the only thing he has left from his father.

Lennon is a brilliant player but that instrument clearly wasn’t getting any attention these months - the closed fallboard is stacked with newspapers, mail, and books. Crumpled laundry hides the bench entirely. He loves the piano, but couldn’t connect with it lately like he did with guitar.

Lennon walks from the kitchen to the piano, quickly clears all the rubbish and with strange determination gets his guitar, journal and pen. He sits down and lifts the fall. And then the row of pure ivory keys march into view. The sound they create - the music they sing, stirs wonders in Lennon’s soul.

The lyrics swim through his brain like a wakeful dream, the notes relaxing him, enabling all the emotion to come out. He feels powerful, optimistic.

He knows he only has one day before William goes back to New York on Monday. Lennon doesn’t even notice when the daylight starts coming through his window, his coat lost on the floor, sleeves rolled up, hair in a bun and papers filled with lyrics everywhere. When he finishes he takes a digital voice recorder the band uses when they are writing at home and sets it on the piano. He starts playing. His voice is smooth and clear and quiet yet powerful.

It is the promise of tomorrow. It is his love letter to William.

*

He must have fallen asleep because the next thing he remembers is Jorja covering him with a blanket. His eyes are wide and scared in realisation that he fell asleep and that he must be late.

- Jorja. What time is it?

- It’s 11 in the morning. Are you ok? What’s all this? - Jorja sits next to him on the sofa where she found him, and looks around the living room.

- I...I was writing music. I shouldn’t have slept. Shit. I have to go. - he stands up, still looking confused from his sleep.

- Wait, Len. - Jorja grabs his hand and pulls him back. She is still dressed in her outfit from last night, clearly just returning now from the after party. - Where are you going?

- I have to find William, I have to ... give him something. Before he goes to New York.

- So last night? You guys didn’t manage to talk? I saw you running out.

- I couldn’t find him. Nina found out about us. And she told me not to go near him ever again.

- Oh my god, Len. Are you sure it’s a good idea to go looking for him now? - Jorja questions.

- I have to, Jo. I’m fucking out of my mind since he told me he would leave her. They’re fighting now, it’s normal that she’s upset and he is probably trying to be nice and explain everything, that’s why he still didn’t call me.

- Right... But Lennon...- she tries to talk but he’s not listening.

- I will just go and give him this, this is a song I wrote, I know, I know, it’s me we’re talking about but yeah, I wrote a song for him, and I’m not ashamed, I just care so much about him that I will do anything to make him see that. After he listens to this, I will know if he really wants to be with me.

- That’s ... lovely, honey. I’m glad that you get to write again, that you feel so inspired. I’m so happy for that, and I am happy that you finally fell in love. - Lennon flinches as soon as he hears those words. - You’re so different, like you don’t see anybody else in the world but him. It’s just one thing I’m scared of. You might get hurt, Lennon. Are you ready for rejection?

- I... I think he cares about me, Jo. I feel it when we’re together.

- Ok. You know best. - she hugs him firmly and he feels grateful for her support. - Just one more thing.

- What?

- If you’re going to serenade your first love before he goes away across the ocean you might want to take a shower and change.

- Same goes for you. - he gives her a once over and walks towards the bathroom- God knows in what toilets you have been doing the nasty until 11 in the morning.

- Fuck you. - she gives him a middle finger and he only smiles and blows her a kiss.

- Love you. I’ll shower first though.

Soon after, Lennon is in Jorja’s car, driving in the direction of William’s hotel. Sunday is as grey and wet as the previous day and it doesn’t look like the clouds would go away anytime soon. When he reaches the hotel his mind is filled with memories of nights he spent there. How could’ve he fallen for somebody, so fast, so deep?

Lennon couldn’t have imagined the connection of looking into someone’s eyes while he came. The pleasant ache in muscles he’d never used in this manner before - not that he wanted to be sore, but from the knowledge of how he got that way. Their shared grins when their limbs were too noodley to go another round again.

He goes straight to the lift but changes his mind, thinking that he might run into Nina if he goes straight to William’s door. So Lennon goes to the reception desk, white envelope in his hand.

- Good morning. How can I help you, sir? - a man in black suit asks him with a smile. He looks familiar, but that’s no surprise considering that Lennon visited this place a few times in the last couple of weeks.

- Hello. I’m here to see Mister William Hamilton-Smith. His room number is 507. Can you please call him and tell him I will be waiting in the lobby? Or I can go up, whatever is more convenient for him. - Lennon’s voice is shaky but determined.

- I’m sorry sir, but you just missed mister William.

- W... what do you mean? - he brushes his long hair away from his confused face.- Oh...Well, I... will wait.

- No, I’m sorry, what I meant is that Mister Hamilton-Smith checked out from his suite. He’s not coming back.

- Are you sure? Because his flight is only leaving tomorrow so why did he check out already?- Lennon isn’t even listening to what the person is saying to him. He can’t believe William is not here. Where can he be? Did he take an earlier flight? He could be staying with his family. Yes! Lennon remembers when William was staying with his sister Charlotte before he picked him up from Fabric that night.

- I’m so sorry, I really need to see William and, I... I know he stays in this hotel every time he comes to London. So you must know him well? Am I right? - Lennon looks straight into receptionist eyes like he’s trying to force him to do what he says.

- Well. With him being the owner of this hotel chain yes, I could say I know Mister Hamilton- Smith. He does spend an awful lot of time here.

- Owner, right. - Lennon remembers that conversation.

- Well his father is, but Mister William will certainly take his father spot when he retires.

- Ofcourse. My question ... Charlie? - he reads the name tag from the mens blazer and smiles. - Charlie, my question is, well, funny thing - I’m sure he’s staying with his sister Charlotte, and I know she lives in Chalk Farm but I can’t remember the exact address. - Lennon smiles his biggest grin, it is so fake but he couldn’t care less. Charlie raises his eyebrow, not impressed.

- I’m not sure I am supposed to do that.

- But you saw me here, Charlie, I’m sure you remember me. - Charlie just looks at him blankly - Mister William and I are close friends and I’ve been visiting quite often during his stay. I assure you I’m not some crazy stalker, even though that’s exactly what a crazy stalker would say - and he laughs uncomfortably- Anyway. The only thing I want is to deliver this envelope to him.

- I ...don’t know.

- Please. Charlie. It’s really important. - Charlie looks around, like he doesn’t want to be here.

- Fine. - he sighs in surrender - I hope I don’t regret this.- Charlie types something on his computer and after a few seconds he writes an address on a piece of paper and hands it to Lennon. - Here you are.

- Thank you, thank you, you are the best! I’ll make sure that you get some concert tickets, Charlie, as soon as we start touring again. - Lennon reaches over the desk and grabs the man by his collar, kissing his cheek with a big smile. He leaves running out leaving confused man wondering what concert tickets is he talking about.

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