Empty swimming pools [BxB]

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Everlong


Lennon walks out of the pristine townhouse in Belgravia he just had his appointment in, inhales a deep and necessary gulp of air and puts his sunglasses on. This is his third session with his therapist and he is finally past that awkward stage where he doesn’t want to share the most ugly moments of his past with a complete stranger. It doesn’t feel good, it is not easy but it’s making him feel lighter, like all the bad stuff he has on his mind he can leave in that room. Therapy doesn’t make him weak, it takes a strong man to admit he needs help, William told him once, and he often repeats that to him, how strong and brave he is for trying to take care of his mental health.

After another deep breath, the tension unwinds some and he lets the warm air of London wash over him. He reaches his car and once inside he taps the address William sent him into his GPS. It’s where his recently purchased apartment is and it’s the first time Lennon will see it.

He doesn’t know how to feel about that. For the past month since they became boyfriends William’s been spending almost every night in Lennon’s house with the exception of a few times when he went to his sister’s or when Lennon worked with the band on their new album in Nate’s studio which usually means an all-nighter. And then there was one night when Lennon decided to sleep over at Sam’s house because he felt guilty that suddenly all of his free time is dedicated to William. He doesn’t want him to feel excluded, Sam rarely ever came to his house anymore, and there’s a strange feeling inside his chest that he is losing his best friend since the things with William became official.

But the reason why Lennon is wary about William buying a flat for himself is that he fears it means that William doesn’t want to spend time with him. Yes, it’s irrational. Yes, he is still very much insecure. But just because he’s never been happier and he’s afraid to lose it. He wants to be with him all the time. Now that he’s finally learning how to love, and more importantly how to love himself, he is scared that this change will disrupt his fairytale and burst his bubble.

After parking the car just across the street from the entrance to the building he scans the busy area of Soho in Central London. The media had more than enough of Lennon’s face lately and he could do without paparazzis today. Even though he never really tried to hide himself before or care what the world would think about his business, now he is being a bit more careful. Because the public doesn’t know about his relationship with William yet. They are not hiding it, a lot of people in the industry know, especially when William waits for Lennon in the studio to finish his recording sessions or when Lennon has his friends over and William is at the house. But they both want to keep it away from prying eyes of general public who would surely manage to complicate their current bliss. There is always speculation on social media about if they are dating or not, sometimes there’s a picture taken of them, but nothing that would imply they are anything more than just mates hanging out. That’s why he is not that much worried if someone does take a picture of him entering William’s building, he is never going to confirm or deny anything.

He hurriedly crosses the street, the sunlight reflecting back off of the glass window of the modern building blinds him as he appreciates rare summer days like this. He enters the building and goes to the private lift and soon after he is in front of the door that William deliberately left open for him and walks inside. That perfect million dollar smile flies his way when he sees him and Lennon can’t help but smile back. He can’t help loving him more and more every day.

- Hey.

- Hi. Wow. - he looks around. - This is...amazing. Charlotte had to do something with this?

The light is flowing freely inside the large living room through the floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s no curtains or blinds yet to stop it. The penthouse is immensely. A sea of white carpet stretches as far as the gigantic sliding glass doors on the opposite side. Cream-hued leather couches, plush club chairs and steel-framed glass tables and shelves are arranged in the vast living room area.

- Of course she had. - William drops some boxes that he is unpacking and immediately walks towards Lennon. He comes behind him, his strong arms slip around Lennon’s waist, dragging him closer until his back is pressed against William’s chest. His cells are buzzing. Memories of the way William fucked him in the shower last night tease his mind. Beating hearts, bodies becoming one, melting together, fingers pressing into wet skin. - So, you like?

- Yeah, yeah. - the flat is perfect but his mouth goes dry as a rush of anguish sweeps over him. He has to stop this cacophony of thoughts and erase this stupid feeling. - Sorry, didn’t bring you a house warming present.

- Oh, I think you did. - William’s breath tickles his skin, just under his ear and his palms slide down the front of his jeans. - Can I unwrap it now?

- Smooth, Will. - Lennon’s breath staggers and he laughs awkwardly. Lennon is never awkward when William flirts, moreover he is the one that mentions sex in most random moments with no trace of shyness, sends nudes when they’re not together and sometimes even takes control in the bedroom, fucking William if he is in that kind of mood. But now William just arches a brow, his smile disappearing completely.

- Hey, what’s up? Something’s up. - Lennon swallows and steps away, trying to put some distance between them.

- No.

- You don’t want to go to my dad’s house today? Because if you changed your mind I completely understand.

- No Will, I didn’t change my mind, we’re gonna go get Cooper and have a nice dinner with your family.

- Only dad, Charlotte and Jack. So no extended family because that would be a nightmare. - he laughs. Lennon slowly walks around the room, avoiding William’s eyes.

- Sure, I’m good with that.

- Is it the flat? You’re freaking out, aren’t you? Baby... - William reaches for him again but he turns away and escapes his touch. His arms, his hands. They are fire on him and he needs to keep his cool in order to say what he thinks.

- Look. - he begins clearing his throat. - I get it, you can’t live in Four Seasons with a dog but why don’t you just bring Cooper to my house, you’re there all the time anyway and there’s a garden? - his voice raises, his words stumbling over each other. William is quiet at first, he studies him, those thoughtful eyes of his not missing anything.

- Because you’ll be going on tour in a couple of months and the theater is a five minute walk from here. It’s so important for me to get into it, they are taking a huge risk with hiring me and I want to spend as much time there. When you’re in London I will obviously come to yours but when you’re on tour I don’t want to lose time on traveling from your house to the theatre. You know what it’s like with traffic in London. If I can afford it, why not. I’ve never had my own place in London so there’s that too.

When William got the job as an assistant director in the West End theatre a couple of weeks ago it was the happiest Lennon ever saw him. Well, except when Lennon wakes up every morning entwined and tangled around him in ways no one has ever been and William whispers in his ear how happy his boy makes him. But this job is clearly something that makes him bursting at the seams with energy he never had when he was at the head of a record label. So Lennon will always support him. When he sees how challenging it must be for William to be in a relationship with someone who goes on tours around the world and is surrounded by so many people who want a piece of him, he will make sure to support his career as much as William supports Lennon’s.

- Shit...I’m being dramatic again. - Lennon drags a hand through his hair, frustration surging through him, annoyed that he keeps making a fool out of himself, that he keeps fucking up, dooming the two of them.

- No, it’s ok. I get it. You know this is your home as well? I made sure there’s everything you need here. Come... - he drags him by his wrist and starts showing him around the place. - There’s a beautiful rooftop terrace through that sliding door, our apartment is the only one on the top floor and you told me how you love to chill on the rooftops. - Our, he said our, he always talks in plural now, Lennon’s heart beats faster. - You can read there, or invite your friends to hang out after a night out in town. - then he points to the opposite corner. - There’s a place for your guitars over there, a small music nook with piano and record player, I’ve even got a storage crate for your vinyls, I don’t have any yet but hopefully we’ll fill it. We could go to Notting Hill next week and you can help me pick some bits and pieces at Portobello market. I’m... - William’s expression softens and his blue eyes are honest. - Lennon, listen, I told you when I met you, I don’t consider one place home. I have a flat in New York and I don’t call that a home. The house we’re gonna go to today where I grew up, that’s not my home either. You are. Okay? - his eyes stay pinned on Lennon. Then he cups his jaw, thumb tracing his cheekbones. His touch is warm and Lennon is powerless. - Wherever you are I’m home, baby.

- That’s so fucking cheesy and mushy, Will but damn, I’m loving it. - he bites his lip against a smile.

- Hey you wrote the whole album about me, and cried on stage singing about me, I don’t know who’s the mushy one. - William jokes and pinches Lennon’s nipple that peaks under his silky half unbuttoned shirt. For a moment they just stare at each other, Lennon feels the heat of his body when he steps closer. The electricity of it thrums over Lennon’s skin, his heart drumming against his ribs so loudly.

- Will. - Lennon shifts closer until he feels William’s heavy breath tickling his cheek and nose. - I’m sorry, baby. I love you. I love you so fucking much that it’s making me crazy, that sometimes I don’t know how I’ll ever survive it.

Words of love are rare on Lennon’s lips. Not because he doesn’t mean them, quite the opposite; he means them so much that he doesn’t want them to lose meaning by overusing them, by repeating them automatically. William dips his fingers into Lennon’s waistband, teasing the skin under it with a scrape of his nails. He is bumping his nose to Lennon’s.

- I know. - he then leans and presses a delicate kiss to the corner of his lips. - I love you too.

His mouth moves along his jaw, gentle butterfly kisses eliciting goose bumps along Lennon’s skin. He brings William’s lips back to his, hungry for everything he’ll give him now. They press their fingers into the skin and open their mouths to welcome insatiable tongues. When he kisses him like this it’s as if he is sealing his words. Claiming him like he never has before. Letting him know now once and for all that he made a home for him in his arms. All William wants is Lennon, whatever the address, whatever the longitude and latitude of the plant Earth and that knowledge crystalizes in Lennon’s chest until it’s an integral part of him. The least he can do is trust him, fully. And enjoy this new, beautiful apartment.

- Show me the bedroom. - his ring cladded fingers are on the belt of William’s shorts and William’s breathing quickens. He pushes Lennon towards the hallway that leads to other rooms and they are stumbling, walking backwards as they chuckle and kiss clumsily, battling mouths, tongues and hands as they try to take control over the kiss, grabbing and squeezing, pushing and pulling. When they are at the door of the master bedroom Lennon turns around. It’s beautifully stark with cream-coloured walls, steel blue bed linens on an enormous bed, and dark wood furniture.
- Jesus, baby, this bed is massive, are you planning an orgy?

- Maybe. - he licks his lips with a teasing smile. - I know sometimes my dick is not enough, maybe two will fill you up better.

Lennon knows he is just teasing, he’s always been enamoured with this feral sensual side of him, dirty talk that is lighting fireworks of pleasure in his veins, bluntness that pushes him over the edge, but the image William just painted in his mind is driving him deeper into the bottomless pit of desire. He just turned him into a puddle of want with the image of two cocks filling him at the same time and he thinks he won’t be able to leave this room. William pushes Lennon’s messy hair back, pulling him back to reality quickly with a slap on his ass cheek and quick peck on his lips.

- Come on, sweet cheeks, let’s get going, dinner is at 3 o’clock. Jenny will kill us if we’re late. - Lennon groans and drops his head on William’s shoulder, realising that the testing of the new bed will have to wait.

- Jenny?

- One of the maids, but she’s more than that, she’s worked with us since I was seven years old. Oh, one more thing. - Lennon watches him shamelessly adjust his crotch before he pulls out a small metal object from his pocket. He places it gently on Lennon’s palm and that stokes more fire in his stomach.

- A key?

- Yup. For this place.

*

They walk on the gravel towards the entrance, stones crunching underneath their shoes. It’s a sprawling estate tucked in the lush greenery of Surrey, a magnificent mansion built from sandstone, castle-like with medieval pillars and arches. It’s not too big but the architecture and the scenery takes Lennon’s breath away.

Once inside they are greeted by a butler and Lennon can’t picture a time when this place was William’s home. He understands now the pressure he must have felt all this time, the struggles within him as he was trying to reject the world so deeply ingrained in him. Yes, Lennon has more money than he can count now but this type of luxury comes with a special type of baggage.

Lennon sees William’s sister, she’s talking to an older lady Lennon soon meets. Jenny. Charlotte is as lovely as he remembers her from that day at her house. She kisses both of his cheeks, her blue eyes honest and warm. She says quietly and lovingly Welcome to the family and thank you for making my brother so happy and Lennon feels like that strange mental barrier he erected to protect himself is gone, and here he is, still in one piece, accepting the warmest hug from a person he can call family. Very soon she will give birth to this tiny precious human and William told him a few weeks ago that they are going to be the coolest uncles who will take the little one on all the Edge of Revolution concerts and buy all the ridiculous toys that will make Charlotte’s and Jack’s life miserable. And the idea should have been intensely distressing, but instead it made him feel warm and happy.

He meets Jack next after which he ushers them further inside the large dining room. William’s father looks up from his conversation with another butler when they approach.

- Thank god. If you were five more minutes late Jenny would have come out of the kitchen with her sharpest knives screaming bloody murder. - William’s father says, wearing an impeccable suit, his tone strict and domineering. Lennon might see now where William gets his dominant trait he often uses in the bedroom from.

- We’ve got held up. - William says casually and Gabriel hums, eyeing William and then Lennon pointedly.

- I’m sure you were. - Lennon’s cheeks are heating with embarrassment under this man’s gaze even though he’s never been shy about anything sexual before. But he’s never met the parents of his boyfriend before so that might be the reason. William gently places his palm on Lennon’s lower back sensing discomfort radiating from him in waves. Lennon wants this to go well, it would mean so much to William. He wants to be accepted like Jack is, but the truth is, he might not be. Not only because he is a man, but because families and Lennon didn’t go so well together.

- I apologized to Jenny already, she’s forgiven me. - William says smiling and then the awkward moment is gone as Gabriel smirks, extending a hand to him.

- You must be Lennon. - they shake hands and his dark blue eyes narrow at Lennon. - Welcome.

- Thank you, sir. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.

- I can’t see that to be true after what William must have told you about me. - Gabriel’s smile is wider as he attempts a joke. William scoffs and moves to sit down, showing Lennon to sit next to him.

- Nothing too compromising, sir. Just the usual amount of homophobic. - Lennon jokes and smiles apologetically right after and William laughs next to him. He expects rage from where William’s father just sat down, but as he looks at him only thing he sees is an appreciative smile. William’s hand comes to rest on his thigh under the table, warm, those prominent veins crisscrossing along the top and squeezes in comfort.

- I suppose I deserve that. - he spreads his linen napkin on his lap and the butler comes with the wine bottle, pouring it with skill. Lennon politely refuses, the only thing he gets drunk and high on now is his boyfriend’s kisses and medical marijuana that helps him with the occasional pain in his back.

Dinner is surreal. Everyone exists like nothing happened. They discuss the weather and town gossip and Charlotte’s pregnancy. William’s father asks for Lennon’s health and casually lets them know that Nina Perry will never dare to step her foot in England again. They read about it in the news, her being dropped from The Forgotten and back in New York but they rarely talk about that topic. Cooper joins them from somewhere, probably hearing his owner’s voice, wildly waving his tail and licking William’s fingers excitedly as he pats the adorable dog on its furry head and Lennon could hardly stop himself from grinning each time he looked at William next to him. The food is Michelin star quality, and after dessert they slowly move to the sitting room while Lennon excuses himself to quickly go to the bathroom.

The walls feature gorgeous oil paintings and throughout wide corridors there are tables with gold Roman vases that hold bouquets of sunflowers. He stops to take a look at one of the paintings, admiring the style and the colours and then he glances at the other one that’s right next to it. His heart is pounding with a sudden sharp pang of fear as the eyes of the young man in the painting are staring straight into his. And it’s a mirror image of him only eight years younger.

- Are you alright?

- I’m...

- It kind of looks like you, it’s striking. - the voice of Jenny echoes around the space, a darkened expression crosses Lennon’s face as he chews his lip and nods. He needs to get out of here. He needs some fresh air.

- Excuse me. - blood pounds inside his veins as he flees through the opened glass doors at the end of a long corridor and then runs down the stairs once outside. He gets a sense of relief when he breathes in the warm, fresh air and the bright sun rays hit his face. He accidentally finds himself in a vast garden, he sees a swimming pool and walks towards it. He puts his head into his hands and drops down onto the freshly cut green grass right on the edge of the pool, trying to organize his thoughts, to make some sense of the fact why is his portrait in the house of his boyfriend’s father. He made sure to leave the tattooed inked frame on his back empty, hollow, without lines of his miserable face and body, without colours of shame and sorrow. Just blank. But this frame, golden and thick and real, so so real makes it all undeniably true.
Minutes pass and he sees William coming towards him, a worried expression on his face. He doesn’t know how long will pass until he’s sick of Lennon’s theatrics. He approaches him slowly and sits down on the pool’s edge after taking his shoes off and dips his legs into the pool. There’s silence for a long time.

- I can’t believe I didn’t connect the dots. - William whispers. - I’m so fucking sorry you had to see that painting.

- This is the first time I’ve seen one on someone’s wall. I knew they were out there but... What is...Why didn’t you tell me you have my portrait in your house, Will?

- I didn’t know it was you. I... When Jenny just told me that you were staring at that painting and then ran outside like you’ve just seen a ghost, I looked at it and ... and then I saw. I really saw. The beauty mark. The eyes. - William scoffs. - No wonder I fell for you right away when I met you, I was obsessed with that painting since the moment we got it.

- What?

- I was 17 or 18, I don’t remember exactly, when my dad bought the painting. Or he got it, he has lots of friends in the art industry, you’ve seen how much art there is. Anyway, the day he put it up, I remember coming from school, walking down the hallway to the dining room for dinner and I just stopped in front of it. I was mesmerised. At first I couldn’t figure out if it was a boy a or a girl, the face was so young and feminine, but then obviously when you look at the body, you can see it’s a man’s body, young man, and I swear it’s the first time I felt this... Rush? I don’t know. I had only been with girls at that point and I had only felt that kind of attraction towards a girl, I thought I was very much straight but... Soon after... This is so ridiculous and stupid. - he shakes his head in disbelief, his own words surprising him. His hair is golden under relentless sun and Lennon loves everything about him. - I had a friend in this play we were doing at school and he was gay. I started seeing him differently. I began to wonder about how would his body feel, what would kissing him be like... and we became boyfriends soon after. But the reason I did make a move on him, the reason I realized I’m also attracted to boys was that bloody painting. I was imagining doing all those things with the boy on the painting. Painting of you.

- I was your bisexual awakening?

- Fuck. It’s stupid, isn’t it? Can’t believe I just admitted that to you. - his bare feet are making circles in the water. - I love that beauty mark of yours and I knew there was something familiar about it but I didn’t know what. Meeting you that day in New York felt like a reunion. When I started listening to your band I never actually paid much attention to how you guys looked. I only listened to songs on my phone. And after I met you I barely ever came to this house. I forgot about the painting. I never connected it with you.

Lennon can’t speak. Can only stare. William already painted a picture in the depths of Lennon’s imagination, the two of them, perfect forever, battling demons, fixing the broken parts of Lennon’s soul. But he’s been chased by the dark and despair for too long. And it’s coming for him again. A feeling of doom creeps into his gut, giving him emotional whiplash with feelings of love and contentment he was lost in just mere minutes ago at the family dinner he was now clearly part of. But then he looks into his blues, diving deep into them and finds himself there. Finds an island where he can escape when all of the dark heavy clouds of mistrust and past chase him. Like right now. He can be brave this time. Lennon’s hands cup William’s face, holding it still, clinging to him like they are the last souls left on earth. A smile tugs at his lips.

- I think this means one thing. You’ve been looking for me all your life. Do you feel it? We’re meant to be.

William presses his forehead to Lennon’s. And just like that with a simple touch, he manages to calm the tornado of unpleasant thoughts in his brain.

- I just hate how we got here. - William whispers. Lennon angles his chin and kisses him with quick tenderness.

- So do I. But I feel that if something happened differently I would have never met you. That if you never had that painting of me you would’ve never fancied me when you saw me. That if you never left that first time I wouldn’t have known how much you mean to me and vice versa.

- Yeah but all of those things brought you pain. You don’t deserve it. I hate that I was lusting over a painting of young you when the story behind it is so horror-like and gruesome. I’m sorry.

- Stop that. You didn’t know. Nobody did. I’m kind of loving the fact that I turned you gay. - Lennon smirks and William shakes his head as his mouth curves in a smile. His face is a breath away from Lennon’s, his lips so close.

- And I’ll stay gay for you forever. - he is smiling now, that smile that disarms him of every negative feeling he has and butterflies flatter in Lennon’s stomach at that word.

- Forever?

- There is no way you’re getting rid of me after everything we’ve been through, love. You are mine. Always. - William says and Lennon hooks a hand behind his neck and kisses him again. He is so lost in this man, so fucking lost that he have no hope of ever finding his way back. They kiss for a while with no urgency, just enjoying each other, enjoying every slide of tongue against tongue, making up for the years he was supposed to be kissing him. Kissing him just to kiss him because if nothing else happened but that, he’d be happy. When they separate, Lennon sighs.

- Yours.

*

- How’s the water?

- A bit cold, not too much. - a mischievous summer-dream smile is touching William’s face. - Come on. Let’s take a dip.

- What? Right now? Shouldn’t we go back, what will your family say?

- They’ll say I’m crazy about you. Come on. - Then he is pulling himself off the cement edge and stripping off his t-shirt and shorts. Staying only in his underwear, William turns around and with a big, childish smile on his face jumps into the pool with a splash. He dives under the water and resurfaces with a gasp. He wiggles his eyebrows at Lennon, daring him playfully as he floats on his back and glides to the centre of the pool. There was a time when he dived in a pool but there was no water. Only cold hopeless emptiness ready to drown him. Not anymore. He watches how water droplets stream down William’s sharp cheekbones to his gorgeous lips and the love for him is pulsing through his veins with fierce pride. Because they made it. - Are you gonna jump or what?

- Yeah. I’ll jump.

THE END

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