Did it make her a bad person that she automatically felt satisfied at hearing one of Lindsey’s songs when she knew it was about her? Well, self-centered at the very least. Though that wasn’t exactly news…
He sat beside her at the console and pressed play on the tape deck. “So, number one. Sad Angel.”
Stevie smirked at her musical partner. “Angel, really?”
"Well, naturally. You’ll be pleased to note that I left references to dreams, fires and rooms for some of the other tracks."
Rolling her eyes, she grabbed Lindsey’s hand as the song started to play, all driving guitar and fast rhythm.
As the chorus began and she heard space for her harmonies, he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I hope you like it.”
She did. And not just because she felt that familiar thrill of possession and tenderness that he was still writing about her. The main feeling of gratification came from the fact that he cared; cared about her and cared about what she thought. She liked when he made her feel wanted, and not just needed. Stevie knew that she was necessary to him; however, sometimes the fact that he might crave her approval and help was far from clear.
The track ended with a click and she released his hand, turning in her chair to face Lindsey properly. He looked a tiny bit anxious but also extremely proud and Stevie resisted the sudden urge she had to muss up his hair.
"I like it."
Stevie was fairly certain she could count the number of dinners she’d shared with Lindsey’s family on one hand. On one finger, in fact, considering that last night had been the first… All her anxiety had left as soon as she realized the presence of the three children meant that the burden of conversation would not be put upon the adults but that stories of sport and school friends and a newly released music video by a popstar she’d not heard of would dominate chatter at the dinner table. They attempted to occasionally bring her into the conversation with all the subtlety of a herd of (very well-meaning) stampeding buffalo and she had been glad for it.
However, tonight Will and Leelee were out visiting friends and Stella was fairly quiet, focusing on eating her nachos with an intensity that made Stevie smile. And so Kristen, Lindsey and her were attempting to make small talk. Awkwardly.
After a five minute discussion of the importance of contrast and balance in decorating, Stella sighed melodramatically and dropped her fork beside her now empty plate. Lindsey caught Stevie’s eye and she grinned to herself as she continued watching the ever-increasing signs of boredom in her ex’s youngest daughter. She choked back a laugh and tried to ignore Lindsey as he looked at her with mock frustration.
"Alright there, Miss Nicks?" he teased, smiling softly at her.
"What were you laughing at?" Stella asked bluntly, curiosity in her eyes, plate and fork forgotten in light of the interaction taking place.
Stevie was fairly sure the seven year old hadn’t inherited Lindsey’s tendency towards indirectness and couching questions in meandering pompous statements… “You just reminded me of something. I was just laughing because of how patient your father is these days.”
"Sometimes, I would yawn loudly at dinnertime when I got bored and your dad would give me a big telling off."
"Was it his fault you were bored?" Stella questioned, smiling cheekily.
"Well, that was rude of him." She paused, glanced at her mother then continued. "Did you have dinner with Dad a lot?"
"Unfortunately for him and his moods, every night for years."
"Best years of my life," Lindsey interjected. "Stevie was a pretty good cook back then, Stel."
"Unlike you, Mr ‘how-do-I-make-the-coffee-Stevie?’ Buckingham." She turned to his daughter, trying to ignore the hurt that was barely disguised on Kristen’s face. "He barely stepped foot in our kitchen, sweetie, and I for one was glad for it."
Stevie didn’t miss his occasional forays into their kitchen. But right now, as she relished the feeling of warmth and family and teasing affection, she missed the fact that, once upon a time, it had been THEIR kitchen.
Now she was an interloper. And she hated it even as she cherished every moment of it.
Sometimes Stevie worried that one day they would start recording harmonies for a new song and they wouldn’t be able to make it work. She’d long accepted that her vocal limitations were becoming greater as the years went on but her ability to harmonize perfectly with Lindsey was something she felt inherent to her very being. The way their voices wrapped around each other’s was a reminder of that fateful first meeting and of all that they’d done since - the children, the songs, they’d made together.
Because as much she liked to claim bragging rights as a solo artist, as much as she resisted giving Lindsey TOO much credit, he was always in her songs. Even the songs that weren’t about him and didn’t have his creative fingerprint on had his mark - simply because he was a part of her creatively and emotionally and had been for most of her life. He bled through her work as she bled through his.
Leelee sat on the sofa next to her, quiet for once, and they watched as Lindsey set up the microphones and other equipment. His oldest daughter hadn’t seen them recording together before and had asked if she could come and watch and Stevie had been more than happy to oblige her. “What song are you going to do?” she asked, genuine curiosity evident in her youthful voice.
"It’s called Without You. A very, very, very old song."
"From when you first joined Fleetwood Mac with Dad?"
"Before that, even. He disagrees with me, of course, but I’m pretty sure I wrote it when we still lived back in San Francisco, before we even moved to LA."
"Indeed," Stevie agreed, laughing. "It’s a nice song though."
"About Dad?" Leelee asked.
"Well, of course. According to him, I’m unable to write about anything else."
"Such a liar," she smirked.
He was. But it was too close to the truth for Stevie to refute his daughter’s words.
She was upstairs in the large guest room the Buckinghams had prepared for her, sitting cross-legged on the bed, when she heard the raised voices. Lindsey’s was instantly recognizable - she’d had him angry at her more than a few times, after all. The other? Oh. Kristen. Kristen had always been polite to her, erring on the side of coldly possessive rather than loudly jealous, and this was something different altogether. This was serious.
Stevie uncertainly got up to close her door, trying to block out the noise but her curiosity got the better of her and she found herself leaning against the wall, listening to the conversation that was taking place in a room only a few feet away.
"Look, Kristen, I’ve explained this time and time again…"
"Yes, you have. And I’ve so appreciated your explanations as to why you have to always act like you’re in love with Stevie in, oh, every fucking interview, every live show, every photoshoot, every -"
"Hey, hang on a moment. I don’t -"
"Every time you talk about her, for god’s sake!"
"That’s not true. I’ve told you numerous times about how many fights we’ve had."
Kristen’s voice was quieter now, more intense and Stevie felt an involuntary shiver run up her spine. “Yes, and Mr Superior, I also know that having fights and being in love aren’t mutually exclusive.”
"That is true."
"It is. You’re right. Also, you’re right when you said you weren’t sure if I’d like this new photoshoot you did today. Seriously, Lindsey?! You really thought these were a good idea?"
"We didn’t actually choose the poses, right. We’re the subjects, not the photographer."
"And so it didn’t occur to you to say ‘maybe that’s not a great idea’ when a mere photographer told you to basically grope Stevie and look like you want to make love to her in numerous photographs."
"Oh, for Christ’s sake. It’s just a few photographs. We’re in a BAND. We were in a relationship. Believe it or not, people like seeing us play up that aspect of our history."
"I do believe it. I just can’t believe how obviously you both get a kick out of playing it up as well. I, I -" Stevie wrapped her arms around herself and tilted her head slightly, feeling almost shameful at still listening. "I just wish you weren’t so obvious. At least if I could pretend you -" And sniffles.
"Kristen, darling, don’t. Don’t."
"I’ll be in our bedroom. Make sure Stevie gets home safely. Then we’ll talk."
Footsteps faded. Lindsey sighed. Stevie closed the door.
She was alone. And lonely.
Lindsey picked up immediately, his voice warm and comforting through the telephone. “Stevie?”
"Yes. Talk to me."
And so he did.