Had a dream that you reached for me in the night
Touched me soft and slow
Everything was wrong but everything was right
He didn’t know what had woken him up. Laying on his back, he peered up at the ceiling with eyes that were still adjusting to the darkness of his bedroom, an arm crooked behind his head and one resting on the pale blue comforter that seemed to be smothering him. It wasn’t as though he’d had a particularly early night and this was his body telling him he’d slept long enough. In fact, as the days passed he seemed to be going to bed later and later. Making an album was a fantastic process but it took time, lots of time, and he kept becoming absorbed in his work, only returning to the house for an occasional meal and to sleep. Kristen had told him before they crawled into bed earlier that she was worried, concerned he was over-working himself. Her tired eyes and attempt to talk him about Will’s latest grades told a different story. He knew he was needed more by her, by the kids, and…Lindsey sighed and turned over, burying his head in his soft pillow. It was fucking hard, the balancing act, he thought as he closed his eyes, trying to go back to sleep.
Sometimes he wished the bed was even bigger. Their daughter insisted on clambering in with them nearly every second night (one elbow into Daddy' s crotch, a knobbly knee into Mommy' s stomach) and taking up so much room that he found himself clutching at the pale purple sheets, trying to keep himself from falling off the side. Of course, sometimes he wished the bed was even smaller. The feeling of waking up to his wife curled up at his side, their baby girl resting on his chest, was enough to make him occasionally need to blink back tears when he thought about it too much.
"Mmmph," he replied into the pillow, turning his head slowly and opening one eye to peer blearily at his lover. "What 's it?"
"Big gap. Fix it," she murmured quietly, watching him in the darkness.
Lindsey bit back a grin as she rolled her eyes. “ I'm the poor, pitiful, pregnant woman. Surely you can move over and keep me warm, you oaf. ”
"Poor and pitiful, I think not! Though you were begging for me to have mercy on you earlier this evening … "
"Only because you wouldn' t stop torturing me with your damn tongue," she hissed, reaching for him. "C' mon, my side' s more comfortable anyway."
"Liar." But he shifted over, slipping a leg between hers and pressing a kiss to the tip of her nose. "Now you come here." Her long blonde hair tickled his nose and he breathed in the scent of her contentedly. "Just be thankful I'm so sleepy or you'd be begging again … " he said, yawning.
Laughing, his wife kissed his bare chest softly. “ Love you, handsome. ”
"Love you too, Stevie."
The second time he woke up, it was to the welcome sensation of a woman’s body curled up against his, a small hand stroking his bicep. Smiling, he nuzzled into his bed-partner’s hair, stopping suddenly when she looked up at him. Oh. He swallowed the moment of shock and kissed Kristen good morning.
He hated that some mornings he woke up expecting someone else to be beside him.
This time I think she’s here for good but I never really know
Nothing here remains, just a vision of her face
The implications of a crime, it always takes the place
He hadn’t done anything wrong. Which was why his frustration with the lecture he was currently receiving was making him clench his fists in his lap and stare doggedly at the curtains across the room instead of at his wife’s face. Generally, they had a very easygoing relationship - lots of laughs, lots of chatter about the kids (but mostly nothing of importance), lots of easy affection. Today, however, she seemed to be upset about one of the few topics that could strike a nerve.
"Stevie was here yesterday and you didn’t think that maybe it might be a good idea to tell me?"
"We were just in the studio," he explained for what seemed like the twentieth time. "She told me there was no point bothering you. I’d told her you were working on an important assignment."
"Lindsey, I trust you but you KNOW how I feel about her being over here. It would make me a hell of a lot more comfortable if I knew when she was."
"We were just in the studio."
"Doing what? What the hell is that meant to mean? Look, with us, I could be looking at the next year or so with barely seeing her or speaking to her because of an argument. I don’t want that. I’m just trying to make the most of how things currently are."
"Honey, you two have managed to stay good friends for several years now. Stop clinging so desperately to any small speck of her time and attention. It’s a bit ridiculous, to be honest, considering how long you’ve known her. I mean, you’re working on a solo album at the moment; why did she need to be here?"
"To see me. Believe it or not, she’s actually enjoying spending time with me," he said bitingly. "It’s great."
"Yeah, I’m sure it is. Do I need to remind you of that conversation we had a few years ago after I saw the two of you backstage lock -"
"Oh, for christ’s sake, Kristen. Just stop. That was nearly a decade ago. I, WE, did not do anything wrong yesterday. She left before midnight, my wedding ring remained on at all times, and the most physical contact we shared was a hug goodbye."
His wife sighed and reached out across the kitchen table, resting a hand on his forearm. “Okay, okay. I’m sorry,” she said softly “I am, I shouldn’t… I just, sometimes I feel like you’re looking at me but wanting to see her and…”
Lying was a more forgivable crime than cheating, Lindsey reassured himself.
Ooh, such a strange sensation
When you finally open up your eyes
It should’ve been something momentous, one of those lightbulb moments one reads about or sees in a dramatic film. There should have been something BIG - all their cards being put on the table, all the unspoken words being said… Instead, he realized it late one evening as he drank a glass of wine and watched Kristen hanging up some newly framed family photographs on the wall. It embraced him, he embraced it, like a soft blanket being tenderly draped over his body, a comforting, familiar thing. He reached for it, clutched it in his strong hands. Not letting it go.
He was still in love with her. With his ex.
Lindsey didn’t really feel noticeably differently than usual, still felt that warmth and comfort that came from sitting in the living room surrounded by his children doing their own thing (he really needed to check Will’s internet history sometime, he reminded himself). But he looked at the pictures and the empty, hollow feeling that sometimes sat low in his stomach when he thought about Stevie, about their history, set in. He felt the same need for her as always, the same desire that sprang upon him at expected times, and the same curl of eager anticipation at the thought that he’d be seeing her for a recording session tomorrow. He’d always labeled (convinced himself to justify) those as an unfortunate side-effect of their unresolved past, of the fact that she was still a major part of his life.
He knew he loved her, always had, always would. Nothing felt as natural to him as the moments when he could hold his arms out for her and feel her rest her head on his chest, closing her eyes and just being with him. No words came as quickly or as honestly to his heart and his mouth as ‘I love you, Stevie’. But it wasn’t the protective love he felt for his children, it wasn’t the affection he felt for his brother, and it wasn’t even the appreciative, comfortable love he felt for his wife. It was the twisty, ache-y, longing, needy type of love that he’d always had for her, had tried to banish or bury too many times to count.
And he hated himself for imagining a photograph of he and Stevie on the wall instead of that awkwardly posed one of him and Kristen.
Taking another sip from his glass, he let himself picture it. Just for a minute. It was a habit he hadn’t managed to cure himself of, though he rarely indulged in it while he was with his family. For chrissakes. Screwing his eyes shut and leaning his head back, he took in a deep breath.
"Dad?" Squinting an eye open, he tilted his head to the left where the voice of his daughter was. She was observing him with a concerned expression. "Are you alright? You look a bit…"
"Um, no. Fine, darling. You’re doing your homework?"
"I was. Until I noticed you."
"I’m just thinking."
"Maybe you should stop," Leelee said, smirking. "Makes you look like hell."
"Love you too."
The next afternoon when Stevie arrived (only fifteen minutes later than planned), he held her slightly longer than usual, his fingers coming up to tangle in her wavy hair. She gave him a curious look when he lifted his head from the crook of her neck, his hands coming to rest possessively at her waist. He opened his mouth to tell her the conclusion he’d come to last night - I’m still in love with you, I need you, I want you - and she must have realized. Soft brown eyes widening, her face stricken with some strange strangled emotion, she held a hand up to him. Stop. Stop. Not that.
And so he said nothing, pulling away from her and smiling sadly as he opened the studio door for them. It was for the best that those words didn’t cross his lips, he knew that, truly. They were already a broken mess that couldn’t truly be repaired; there was no need to break anything else.
Sometimes Lindsey wondered if that something else (his family, his peace, his mind) was already broken and he simply hadn’t acknowledged it yet.
I lie alone and watch you sleep
I’d reach for you but I might weep
If you should tell me I must keep
Away, away, away
He found her curled up on the sofa, her arm arm wrapped tightly around the large, multi-colored cushion she’d brought in earlier in the day (to lighten the mood, she’d claimed). Only a small amount of light allowed him to take in the scene in front of him, the thick curtains blocking out all but a glimpse of moonlight. Lindsey had sent the cameramen home an hour and a half ago, after they’d started emitting disgruntled murmurings about how late it was, and he’d spent his time since then trying to perfect the tone on a new guitar part he’d come up with. Unsatisfactorily. Leaning against the doorframe, he smiled as Stevie let out some bizarre kind of snuffling noise and shifted, burrowing her head into another of the plush cushions.
"Stevie?" he whispered, kneeling by her, a hand light on her shoulder. "Stevie, time to wake up." Her brow furrowed and she smacked her lips, causing Lindsey no small amount of amusement. He pressed a soft kiss to her forehead and when his knee clicked (oh god, he wasn’t that old, was he?) and he tried to get back up to his feet, he found a small hand clutching his forearm, trying to stop him.
"No. Sleep now." Her eyes still closed, she held tightly to him, a nail pressing a light mark onto his skin. "Linds, sleep."
Lindsey looked around the room, its darkness and quiet stillness reflective of the entire house’s state of being right at that minute, and he sighed. It WAS late, after all. He’d told Kristen not to expect him home early; that they had lots of work to complete. Surely he could afford to stay just a little longer…
"Mmmpf. C’mon, plenty of room." And his ex-girlfriend patted the couch awkwardly with a limp hand, squinting one eye open and peering at him.
"Told her to go ages ago. You’ll take me home, right? Wanted to stay and watch you."
"Well, how did that work for you, what with you being in a different room, sleeping like the dead?" he smirked.
"Think I’ll always do my recording with you like this from now on. Much more peaceful," she said, her words slurring as she grabbed onto the sleeve of his shirt. "Tired, Lindsey. Have a nap."
And so he carefully laid down on the sofa, his body a mere inch from touching Stevie’s, his eyes looking right into hers. His feet were hanging off the edge but he couldn’t bring himself to care overly much. It wasn’t particularly comfortable but… She smiled at him, her fingers trailing along his shirt collar, her thumb occasionally touching the bare skin there, a light caress. So normal and so not. Not now. He watched as her movements slowed and her hand fell away from him, her eyes closing. And she slept again.
He watched her for a long time, his hands aching to come to rest on her waist, to draw her closer to him. He wanted to have her head on his chest, her legs entwined with his, her soft lips leaving a smudge of lipstick on his neck. She’d been happy today, teasing him, being affectionate but this physical longing was something he tried not to indulge in too often - it had led too far a couple of times in the past few years with unpleasant results (doors slamming, slapped cheeks, so many angry tears, recriminations and the terrible, terrible guilt). No, he couldn’t hold her like that now. Because while they had both given in before to that temptation, they’d also both resisted and refused. It was always a possibility.
Lindsey hated being resisted and he hated being refused. Rejection from Stevie was a familiar feeling. And a constant fear. So he watched her sleep, the time passing slowly as they lay together quietly, her soft breathing and the chime of the clock in the hallway the only interruptions to the contented silence of their peace.
Sometimes we analyze
Pretending we didn’t die
Wondering if the stars are crazy
He’d been told to look to the future, to move past ancient history, to stop dwelling on the what-ifs and could’ve-beens. He’d tried.
His hotel room was filled with light, the windows open and letting in a soft, cool breeze. Lindsey watched as she came out from the bathroom, a small smile on her face. Beautiful. They’d happened on each other in the lobby an hour ago and when Stevie had slipped her hand in his, squeezing tight, he’d led her back to his suite. She didn’t ask, he didn’t answer.
"You could play me one of the songs you’ve been working on?" she suggested hesitantly, still a few feet away from him, obviously looking for something to distract her from the elephant in the room (the bed was just too big, too conspicuous, or maybe it was just him who couldn’t stop imagining her laying on it, her legs bare, her…).
Laughing, she came over to him and rested a small hand on his arm (and why did her touch have to feel so momentous every time?). “Your songs? I could listen to one?”
"Oh. Um, no. I’m kind of in the middle of one right now. Besides, that’s work."
"Well… It’s just we don’t have much time for anything else anymore."
"Because we WORK together, Lindsey."
Frowning, Lindsey took her hand off his arm, clasping it in his own. He could feel the slim bands of her rings as he played with her fingers absent-mindedly and he wanted to take them all off. Take off her rings, take off his. Take off her clothes, take off his. Just them. He placed a strong arm around her waist and gently pushed her over to the bed, indicating for her to sit down.
"We don’t just WORK together. We’re more than that, surely," he said, sounding a bit too upset - petulant? - over the possibility he was wrong, even to his own ears. "After all the shit we’ve gone through, Stevie?"
"No, no," she reassured him, resting her head on his shoulder and placing a hand on his leg, her touch warm through his jeans. "Of course we’re more than that. I just don’t want to make things more difficult than they already are. You know what talking about other things does to us."
"Clears the air?"
Stevie let out a short bark of laughter and kissed his bare skin just above his clavicle. He needed a damn turtleneck; she couldn’t expect him to have no reaction to that, for god’s sake. “Not exactly. I seem to recall a full week of the silent treatment when I dared to bring up Kristen not that long ago when we were talking about our interactions onstage.”
"Because she had nothing to do with it," Lindsey insisted, his grip on Stevie’s hand tightening. "There was NO need for you to bring it up and to suggest that I was using you as some kind of sick foreplay in order to -"
"Okay, okay, calm down, Lindsey. You see what I mean though? Discussions like that never result in anything good."
"As opposed to discussions about our work?!" he scoffed. "Is this the time for me to bring up a fun little memory of you slamming down the phone on me because I had the temerity to ask if we could change the running order of two songs in the set?"
"I’d had a bad day," she defended, not even sounding convinced by her own words.
"Apparently you’re always having a bad day when I try and talk to you, then," Lindsey muttered, staring out the window, watching two birds circling each other in the air. How fantastically poetic and apt.
"Oh, for christ’s sake. I’m going to leave, okay?" She lifted her head from her bandmate’s shoulder, and moved to get up. He didn’t let her. Not this time.
His arms suddenly surrounded her, a fortress, keeping her firm against his chest, her face smooshed into his light blue T-shirt.
"Mmmph," she protested. Or tried to protest. She wiggled in his arms, coming up for air, her upturned face displaying surprise in her soft brown eyes. Her lips were parted and he watched with a hint of trepidation as her brow furrowed. God, he was in for it now, wasn’t he? "What the fuck?"
Well, she hadn’t slapped him yet. Or cursed him exactly. That was a good sign. Maybe. “What?”
Rolling her eyes, Stevie made a half-hearted attempt to escape his hold but he didn’t let go, enjoying the feeling of her breasts against his chest, the feeling of her thighs against his own far too much…
"Sorry. I just… Don’t go."
The expression in her eyes softened and she looked at the bed. “You want to talk, then?”
"Yeah," he said on a sigh. "Yeah, I do. I was looking though some old photo albums the other night and came across some from the seventies and, god, I just lost myself in it. And then I remembered you leaving and the yelling and how you told me you hated me and I threw that fucking book so hard against the wall that Will came downstairs to see what was wrong."
He placed a finger against her lips, letting it linger there as she watched him with a wary gaze. “So soft…” he whispered before blinking hard and removing himself from that particular temptation. “Anyway, I wanted to talk about why you said you hated me.” Stevie looked slightly puzzled at the bluntness of his last statement. For crying out loud, he couldn’t be much clearer. “You told me you’d always love me, I can see you still do, but you told me you hated me.”
"Yes. Because I did," she said, speaking as if to a child. "I did hate you. And I loved you."
"Why do you have to be so complicated?"
"Just to ruin your life."
"Well, it’s worked," Lindsey said with a sigh and let go of Stevie, flopping back to lay on the bed. "I’m ruined."
"I’m sorry?" she said mockingly, following suit, removing her shoes before laying next to him, only a inch between them. If he just moved over tiny bit… "I just, I’m trying to be honest but it just pisses you off, doesn’t it?"
She smirked and turned her head to look at him. Patting his cheek affectionately, she told him it wasn’t usually intended to do so. Emphasized ‘usually’. The bitch.
"I’m sorry, you know," he said, letting the words escape before he’d thought them through.
"It’s called an apology, Stevie. I’m. Sorry. Would you like to practice the words with me?"
"Smart ass. No, why are you apologizing?"
"Being honest. And trying not to piss you off."
"Well then, pray continue, Mr Buckingham," Stevie said, waving a hand at him.
"Shall I be richly rewarded for my troubles, madam?"
Laughing, she pressed a quick kiss to his stubbled jaw. “We’ll see. Depends on how good the apology is, I guess.”
"Does groveling earn me bonus points?"
She merely raised an eyebrow.
"Ah, I see how it is. Madam just wants me on my knees. What a surprise…" Winking, he took one of Stevie’s hands in his own, tracing small spirals along her pale wrist, the thin gold chain there enchanting him. He stared at it. He couldn’t meet her eyes for this. "I, I’m sorry for flaunting her."
"All of them."
"I was trying to hurt you," he said, his hand drifting to her blouse, fingering the edge of it mindlessly, eyes widening at the bare skin he could glimpse as it rode higher. He was hopeless. "I was looking at those pictures and…"
"No, not really," she said, smiling sadly at him.
"Do you ever regret it?"
"Stevie," he said, finally meeting her eyes. "Do you?"
"Never. Always. Something in between."
"Me too," he sighed, his open palm coming to rest on her stomach, and his head falling to her chest. One of her hands came to his hair, his curls tousled by her nimble fingers, and he closed his eyes. Yes. That. Breathing in her scent this close was like some kind of fucking balm to his soul - always had been. He felt her drop a kiss atop his head and smiled. That too.
"Are you happy, Lindsey?" she asked suddenly, breaking the silence, her fingers stilling. He kissed her soft skin, just below the neck (he just wanted to nibble there, just a moment, just once, just…), trying to find an answer. The right answer.
"Always. Never." He lifted his head from its resting place and moved so he was hovering slightly above her, braced with his arms on either side of her. "Something in between," he acceded.
And then she lifted her face to his, closed that inch of distance between them, kissed him.
"Right now, though?" he murmured as he took a breath, breathed her in, smiling as her lips searched for his again, her hand reaching down and stroking him confidently. Madness. This was utter madness. It was so wrong. So damn right. He hated himself. He loved her. He resented the magnetic pull, cursed the fates, refused to remember the ring on his left hand. "Completely, " he moaned, his words swallowed by her eager tongue, her eager hands, her eager body.
His eager heart responded. As it always did.
She is watching
She is hoping
He’s trying not to be obvious about how quickly he’s hurrying Kristen to her car.
His girlfriend’s hand is small and soft in his. He swings their arms gently as they walk down the corridor, and smiles down at her. Very cute. She’d promised to come and see the show and had done so and wasn’t it nice to have someone there for him? Someone reliable and appreciative? The air was brisk and chilly around them as they enter the parking lot and he feels a slight shiver run through her as she puts an arm around his waist and burrows her head into his warm black coat.
"You could, if you wanted to, I mean, come back with me?" she asks hesitantly, hopefully. Gently, he removes his hand from hers and opens the car door for her.
"Not tonight. We’re traveling tonight. Another show tomorrow night."
"Aren’t you exhausted?"
Grinning, Lindsey kisses her, long and hard. “I have LOTS of energy left in me.”
She laughs lightly (and god, he adore how light and carefree and fun she is) when he breaks away from her, and rolls her eyes. “Yes, I’m well aware, Mr Buckingham. Pity I can’t help you with that.”
"My thoughts exactly."
And she drives away into the night. Lindsey does wish that she could help with that - she’s lovely, young and lithe. Very enthusiastic. However, there’s something he wants more than her gratifying fawning and enthusiasm tonight and he can no more deny that than he can deny his own being.
He can see the door has left been ajar even as he gets off the elevator, and he smiles to himself as Stevie’s face appears and the gap widens. Yes. This is what he wants. Desires.
She beckons him with an outstretched hand and how many times have they played this scene over the years? Endless cycles. “You called, m’lady?” he asks, grinning as he walks over to her, a small carry bag in his hand.
"What a surprise."
She walks back into the room, Lindsey trailing her. She’d booked the most lavish suite for their two day stay here, naturally, and it’s all decked out appropriately. There’s nothing better than making love to Stevie in the darkness of the night with all those candles and shadows and scents, to be quite honest, and he wonders if she’d mind moving straight to the bed. After all, they do have a flight to catch not that too many hours from now…
Apparently, his sometime-lover (he’ll always love her) can read his mind and she takes his bag from him, puts it on the floor, and slides a hand around the back of his neck, fingers playing with the dark curls there.
"I don’t like seeing you with her," she says quietly, her lips soft against his jaw.
He doesn’t apologize. They both know what a mess this is without him trying to justify or explain his decision not to break it off with Kristen while he and Stevie ‘re-connect’ on tour. Maybe if they eventually sit down and talk things through, maybe if they try and make something more of this, maybe then…
"At least this girl seems nice."
"I’m not," she says, with a grimace but also a hint of pride.
"Never," he agrees with a grin and wraps an arm around her waist, pulling her up hard against him.
Stevie kisses him fiercely and he almost jumps back from her when he feels her pinch and twist his nipple. Hard. “Take that back,” she demands, glaring at him.
Laughing, he turns them around and starts walking them backwards towards the bed, his large palm low on her back under her black blouse. “Naughty. And nice. And not on the bed yet. Which is something which needs to be changed.” He lowers her to the mattress gently, nuzzling her neck as he leans over her, his jeans tightening as she starts to unbutton his shirt and tilts her hips up to meet his, her kisses hot and wet and so familiar. “I’ve been waiting so long for this. God, Stevie…”
"What, since last night?" she laughs, tossing his shirt onto the floor, her eyes flickering appreciatively over his bare chest.
He pouts. “Waiting’s hard.”
"Not even going to touch that."
"You’re making it worse."
"You have a filthy mind." Smiling gently, she kisses Lindsey’s shoulder. "I was impatient too. I’m not good at waiting. And watching *her* hands all over you didn’t exactly -"
He kisses her quiet. They’re playing a waiting game here (what is this? what will they let it become? is it inevitable that it will destroy them again?) and he’s not sure of the rules. He never has been.
Maybe there are no rules - just dreams and hopes and wishes. And fears.
I see clues that you leave behind
White or blue, I know it can’t be mine
I want to look for what I might find
He isn’t sure what he feels. Pressing play again, he puts his feet up on the dashboard and leans his head back against the passenger seat he’s sitting in.
He *does* feel the ever-present itch to FIX things. He could’ve done a better job on THIS song or THAT song, he could’ve added a brilliant guitar part just THERE. It’s an annoying compulsion to have when he’s trying so hard to not give a shit about Stevie’s solo music. I mean, he cares, always has (cares desperately that she’s so capable and able to do this without him…) but he should be over this by now and he definitely shouldn’t still be craving the nights they’d spent talking, making, feeling music together back when they were just kids with dreams and hopes and nothing in their way.
Some of the songs are fairly easy to figure out and he smiles as he remembers the first time Stevie had played Annabel Lee to him, a hesitancy in her singing which is long gone now. There are songs about other men (and god, he HATES that) and some about not much at all. And then there are songs about him. He knows what those ones are. She’d actually had the temerity to cling to his hand slightly more tightly when they’d gotten to those tracks as they’d listened together yesterday. Like he wouldn’t know.
He just wishes he could work out what she wants. It’s all very good to sing of dreams, oceans, angels, fear, singing, magic and broken hearts but is it her just drawing on familiar imagery, is she just letting herself be drawn into a story in her mind? Or does she want something from him?
Can he even give it to her?