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Title: “(and if you should fall) remember you almost had it all”
Author: bello_romantico, Kat, just me. :)
Rating: 14A
Warnings: Swearing, sensual memories, and sexual tension.
Summary: In the middle of the night, John and Paul share a bed, a conversation, and push the boundaries of what they now are (and have to be) to each other.
 
 
(and if you should fall)
remember you almost had it all

“What if we’d never become The Beatles?”

The unexpected question jerks John out of the slow and pleasant falling sensation of sleep and he starts a bit in surprise – he’d just been drifting off.

John groans lowly. “Wha’re yeh talkin’ ‘bout?” he mumbles sleepily, eyes still closed and voice muffled by his pillow. It had been such a long day full of the now mundane tasks of being famous – posing for a million pictures, signing a million autographs, answering the same questions a million times… always the same things over and over and over again. Sluggishly, in his semi-asleep state, John tries to piece together where they are – what hotel it is they’re staying in now – but he can’t even remember what day of the week it is.

Beside him, John hears Paul shift and the sheets rustle with his movement. “I was just wondering…” clarifies the younger of the two softly, “what would have happened if we’d never, you know… made it. Become The Beatles… you know?”

The tone of his friend’s voice makes something click in John’s head that all is not right and, blinking blearily, he opens his eyes. Paul is lying on his back, fingers clutched in the sheets resting on his chest, and he is looking up at the ceiling with a distant expression on his face – unreadable. Rubbing a heavy hand across his eyes, trying to clear the haze still hanging in front of them, John watches the younger man for a few moments before replying. “Well, we’d be a lot poorer that we are now,” he comments in typical Lennon-fashion, testing the waters with a joke – waiting for Paul’s reaction.

He doesn’t get one – the bassist simply stays still, his chest rising and falling steadily as he continues to stare up at the ceiling. He doesn’t even try to laugh.

There’s a troubled look to the set of Paul’s mouth and John knows there’s more to his question than he’s letting on. The guitarist sighs, but feels his heart rate pick up – he doesn’t like the look on Paul’s face.

“What’s this all about, Paulie?” asks John quietly, jokes forgotten as he looks up at his friend with a look in his eyes he spares for no-one else.
It takes Paul a moment to answer but, almost imperceptibly, he shrugs, a detached look to the motion. “Dunno,” he murmurs, “Just… wondering what you thought.”

The seriousness in his voice does nothing to calm John’s accelerating pulse, but spur it on – the last time Paul talked to him like this… Nervous, John chooses his words carefully, feeling as he’s treading on ice ready to shatter beneath him at the slightest misstep.
“Well,” he begins, “if we’d… well, never made it, I… suppose we’d still be back in Liddypool, yeah?”

In the dark, Paul seems to process this and nods slowly, agreeing. “Prob’ly,” he says, not adding anything.

John assumes Paul wants him to continue, so he does. “We’d… prob’ly be working day jobs at some local dock, or factory or something,” muses John, picturing the two of them in uniform – grease staining their hands and sweat gluing their hair to their foreheads; a world away from where they are now. The image, though one he’s never contemplated before, makes a faint warmth flicker in John’s chest, but he doesn’t dare contemplate why.

“We’d prob’ly still play the Cavern at night, though,” continues John, doing away with the previous mental image of Paul and himself, “just like we always used to – with George and Pete… We’d’ve never met Ringo if we hadn’t made it.” At the mention of the Cavern, the faraway memory of the dark, shadowy club and its muggy heat invades John’s mind in a flash – the roar of the tipsy crowd fills his ears and a vision of Paul’s young face illuminated in those cheap spotlights fills his mind’s eye.

A funny pang makes John’s entire body pull at the seams and the feeling – the sharp ache of it – reminds him of the way he felt after Paul walked away that night in Liverpool, that night after they were signed four years ago. It’s not a feeling John likes – especially when it reminds him of that night – and he swallows, trying to shake it off.

The night he’s sharing a bed with Paul is definitely not the time to be feeling anything at all (and especially not a feeling that feels suspiciously like longing).

Silence fills the room as John tries to push away thoughts of a future-that-never-was in Liverpool, but Paul’s voice interrupts the silence and John’s thoughts.

“And what about us?”

The question makes John’s head whip in his friend’s direction, raptly attentive and wide awake at this point – mouth dry and heart pounding traitorously.

John swallows again before replying cautiously – willing his voice to sound level – eyes fixated on Paul’s face for any hint of emotion. “What do you mean: ‘What about us?’

Paul sighs and shuts his eyes – finally a break in his blank, faraway stare – and, by this, John knows that they’ve reached the crux of this late-night conversation.

“I mean,” he begins, his face remaining neutral – a safe expression. “What would have happened to us had we not left Liverpool…? Not become The Beatles…? Not… become the great Lennon and McCartney?” Paul’s voice sounds grim, almost bleak, and his eyes never stray from the ceiling – again, a safe place for them to be. “I mean,” he continues, “what would have happened if we’d’ve stayed… just John and Paul from Liverpool?” Paul’s lower lip wobbles dangerously as he reaches the end of his explanation and he shuts his mouth straight away, a muscle in his jaw clenching the way it always does when he’s on the brink of tears.

Still, Paul won’t look at John.

The sound of ‘just John and Paul from Liverpool’ – the sheer, sweet simplicity of it – makes John feel as if his stomach has been kicked out. It takes him unaware and, for a moment, he’s left breathless, paralyzed.

He hasn’t heard Paul talk about them since...

“I-I don’t know what-what would have happened,” says John, fumbling with his words, tripping over his tongue. What was Paul doing? Hadn’t he said never to speak of it – them, like that – ever again?

“As far as I’m concerned, it never happened – I don’t want to ever talk about it again or have you mention it ever again. It was stupid, it was nothing – it’s over.”


John feels his throat knot at the memory, the words as fresh and as cutting as ever. God, he hates that snippets from that night are still stuck inside his head.

A lick of humiliation from those remembered words burns hotly in John’s chest and he uses it to rebuild his defenses – he can’t let Paul (even Paul in the middle of the night with his troubled eyes and hesitant questions) unravel all the work John has put into forgetting. John has worked bloody hard to forget everything and Christ – he’d say it’s a quite a feat that he can even be in the same room as Paul today without going fucking mad…

“You… you don’t know?”

Paul’s voice brings John back to the present and he attempts to collect himself, injecting a nonchalance he doesn’t feel into his response. “Well, I suppose we would’ve stayed friends, yeah?”

This doesn’t seem to be the answer Paul wants and he seems stung by it – his eyebrows furrow fleetingly as he seems to weigh John’s response.

“We’d’ve… stayed friends.” A pause. “That’s what you think?” asks Paul, at long last turning his head to look John in the eye, dark hair ruffled and falling into his eyes. His gaze is insistent and searching and it momentarily disarms John, his weak defenses crumbling in a heartbeat. The sight of Paul’s wide eyes peeking out at him from beneath that dark fringe of hair, messy from sleep, transports him back instantaneously to that time where –

John rolls suddenly onto his back – it’s his turn to avoid his friend’s gaze by looking up at the ceiling. “Yeah, that’s what I think,” he affirms gruffly, clearing his throat. “Don’t think we would’ve ever stopped being friends, do you?”

“Of course not,” protests Paul a bit too quickly. Gaze fixated on the ceiling, John hears rather than sees Paul shift underneath the sheets – he picks up on the slip-slide of skin against fabric that sounds loud in the silence. “Of course I don’t think that,” says Paul softly, calmer than before, “I never meant that we’d ever stop being friends…”

John smiles fleetingly. “Highly unlikely that,” he says more to himself than Paul, but he knows he’s heard him – John can almost feel his friend’s smile.

“What I meant,” continues Paul, “is if… if you and I – we – had we not… had I not...” There’s a silence where it sounds like Paul is searching desperately for words, but it all ends in a frustrated hiss of, “Oh, fuck.”

Looking around at the sudden exasperation in his friend’s voice, John sees Paul rubbing roughly at his eyes – the way he does when he’s angry with himself. “Paul –”

“No,” cuts in Paul darkly, avoiding all eye contact as he hoists himself onto his elbows, in the process of turning over. “Just forget about it,” he spits out bitterly, but the anger on his face drains swiftly when John’s hand fastens itself onto Paul’s forearm, stopping him.

Their eyes lock in a heartbeat.

John knows that it’s a huge mistake to touch Paul – he honestly hadn’t meant to, his hand had acted of its own accord somehow – but the fact that this is a huge, incalculably stupid mistake doesn’t really seem to register. How can it register when Paul is looking at him – really looking at him – for the first time in what feels like years? They stare at each other piercingly – as if daring the other to look away – and, simultaneously, their breathing shallows, coming out ragged. The sound of Paul’s heavy breaths in the darkness of their shared room echo loudly in John’s ears and, before he knows it, his entire body is hot and thrumming with a desire he hasn’t let himself feel in so long.
He lets go of his friend’s arm at once.

Paul inhales deeply and looks away quickly. “Just forget about it,” he repeats, chest rising and falling quicker than it had been before.
Fingers still tingling from the feel of Paul’s bare skin, John wets his dry lips before speaking – before taking the plunge. “What if... what if I can’t forget about it?” he asks, willing his face into a defiant expression. It wouldn’t do to be wearing eyes full of sorrow.

Paul’s nostrils flare briefly. “John, I said to forget –”

“Well, what if I can’t forget anymore?” interrupts the older man, a quiet fire in his voice. “What if I’m tired of forgetting? What if I’m tired of you telling me to forget things I don’t want to?”

At the resentment in John’s voice, Paul looks around with furrowed eyebrows and a startled look. “John –”

“No,” says John, cutting across his friend once more, “What were you going to say?”

Nothing,” replies Paul stubbornly, jaw tensing.

What were you going to say?” presses John with gritted teeth, looking up at Paul still half-upright in the bed, perched on his elbows.

Nothing!” hisses Paul viciously, eyes flashing dangerously and he sits up fully in a flash, sheets pooling around his middle.

“Obviously, wasn’t ‘nothing’,” comments John, voice rising like Paul’s as he props himself up on his elbows. “Could barely string two bloody words together –”

“Shut up!” exclaims Paul, hands curling into fists in his lap. “Just shut up, John – I told you to for –”

“Yeah, yeah, I know – to forget about it!” practically shouts John, sitting up as if a current of electricity ran through him. “Well, how about this, Paul?” he sneers, “Fuck forgetting it! I want you to tell me what you were about to say.” At this point, John’s face is hovering dangerously close to Paul’s cowering one. “Go on – tell me!”

Cornered, the younger man tries to back-pedal. “John, look –”

“Just tell me what you were going to say.”

“I...” And for a moment, it really looks like Paul is going to tell him – his large eyes go soft and honest – but the moment passes and he sighs, looking away. “I wasn’t going to say anything – just let it go, John. Please.”

At Paul’s defeated look, John feels his anger leave him and the hand he’d been holding in mid-air drops to his side, fingers stretching as they release coiled tension. Exhaling in frustration, John shakes his head slowly, still keeping his face close – too close – to Paul’s.

“What are you doing?” he asks quietly, that stubborn break in his heart choosing now to ache, “What are you doing, Paul? You-you talk about what things would have been like had we not become the Beatles... You wonder what would have happened if we’d’ve stayed just John and Paul... What are you trying to say?” John arches his brows questioningly and tilts his head to attract Paul’s gaze again – it works. Taking full advantage of the eye contact, John whispers, “What are you saying?”

Despite his best efforts, John just can’t keep the hope out of his voice.

Minutes crawl by and all falls silent as John watches the conflict apparent on Paul’s face pale in the darkness. The younger man mouths wordlessly for a few seconds, a crease between his brows, and, finally, he simply looks down, running a hand through his hair. His little shoulders heave up and down before he begins.

“It’s just that,” he begins tentatively, hand still tangled in his dark locks, “Sometimes... I just wonder... if I would have been happier without all this.” This is admitted with downcast eyes and a voice so soft it borders on a murmur – as if it’s shameful to say too loud. “I just wonder if…” continues Paul, “if I might have been happier had things never changed – just... stayed exactly the same as they were.”

When he finishes, Paul sucks in a little nervous breath and still does not look up.

The air conditioning in the hotel room suddenly sounds very loud and John swears he can hear the distant whoosh of cars passing twenty stories down on the street below. Paul’s confession hangs heavily in the air and, for a moment, John can do nothing but simply stare – stare and stare and stare, thrown off by the importance of his friend’s words. He must mean… Surely, he must mean… Never taking his eyes off Paul, John’s throat knots as the most exquisite pain of vindication come too late courses through him. He doesn’t know what to do – how to respond to this – because, all this time, he’d thought...

At once, little snippets in time – Paul’s fingers folding with his under a table, Paul’s eyelashes fluttering in ecstasy, Paul’s laugh soft in his ear, Paul’s fingers trailing higher and higher on his thigh, the tightness of Paul’s arms wrapping around him, Paul putting on his t-shirt inside out in the morning, Paul’s nose crinkling in a smile – flood through John’s mind and he can scarcely think straight. Can he believe that perhaps he hasn’t been the only one longing for what they used to have?

“Paul,” says John suddenly, hoarsely, and the younger man looks up, starting a bit at his name. There’s a worried twist to his mouth and, in the shadows, his eyes look a bit fearful. “Paul,” says John again because – as stupid as it is – he likes saying his name, “Why?”

“Why what?” asks Paul defensively.

“Why would you be happier if things had never changed?”

Paul’s mouth diminishes to no more than a tight line and his eyes flick all over John’s face, nervous and restless, as his face drains of all color. He doesn’t – perhaps can’t – speak.

“Come on, Paul – tell me,” urges John, that tiny spark of hope making his heart beat faster, “Why?” He needs to hear Paul say the reason – he needs to hear the words from his mouth. He’s never spoken about them since that God-forsaken night after they were signed by EMI and John needs to hear him to come out and just say it.

“I can’t,” says Paul, gaze on the sheets when he speaks.

“Tell me,” demands John, a fire in his eyes. He needs this – needs this more than he cares to admit. “Tell me!”

“No,” whispers Paul, shaking his head as his voice breaks.

John struggles with himself for a moment as he refrains from hitting something. “Goddamnit, Paul,” he chokes out, voice shaking as his eyes mist over. “Spit it out – say it!” nearly shouts John, slamming a hand down on the mattress beneath him.

In a split second, Paul’s gaze is plunged into John’s and his eyes are shining as well, an almost angry set to his mouth. “You want to know? Well, here it is, John – I would be happier without all of this – would be happier if things had never changed – because we’d still be together,” he fires back at John, his eyes flashing and voice fierce, “Still together as more than friends – like it used to be!” At this point, Paul is close to shouting and John can do nothing but watch and listen almost rapturously. “I’d be happier because it could be you and me without all those ridiculous, screaming birds, the photo-shoots, the recording studio, the interviews…” Paul trails off in frustration, sighing heavily. “If nothing had changed,” he continues in a gentler tone of voice, frown softening, “we’d still be two nobodies… and no-one would give a bloody damn about us. We could… we could even fucking run away together and nobody would care.” At this, Paul looks away in the distance as if picturing it – the now impossible.

“John,” he says, bringing his gaze back to his friend, voice going even quieter, “I’d be happier without all of this if I still had you. I mean, sometimes, you drive me fucking crazy, but… but nothing you do has ever really bothered me.” He sighs after this, closing his eyes, “I still love you,” he whispers, “I’ve never stopped.”

Completely exposed, Paul falls silent and crosses his arms over his chest in a nervous gesture, looking away, a funny light sparkling in his eyes as he swallows. He doesn’t look at John who, in turn, can’t seem to look away from Paul, the older of the two in an emotional, gob smacked sort of stupor.

In the silence that stretches on after Paul’s hushed confession, John feels his heart being pulled in a million different directions by so many emotions – hope, disbelief, confusion, love – and he can hardly bring himself to believe… Hardly dare to...

“The things… all those things you said that night…”

“Didn’t mean them,” murmurs Paul, still looking away.

“Didn’t mean…?”

“Not a f-fucking word of it all,” says Paul, faltering, his eyelashes shimmering with tears.

A voice that sounds very faraway in his mind tells John that he should be mad at Paul – for making him believe he didn’t love him anymore, for putting him through Hell – but seeing his friend going to pieces in front of him stops any anger he might have felt.

Paul looks as broken as John’s felt for years.

“You made me believe…”

“I know,” says Paul, closing his eyes, a grimace of pain flitting over his features. “I’m so sorry.”

John can’t speak for a moment, then, “Why?”

Paul takes a deep breath that rattles through the room and he continues to look off, those childlike eyes flitting with shadows. “I felt like I had to,” he says, features contorting in some unspoken anguish. “You-you always said you wanted to go to the ‘toppermost of the poppermost’,” whispers Paul with a fleeting smile that vanishes quickly, “a-and I knew that if anyone ever – ever – found out… about us…” Paul doesn’t finish and John’s heart twists, his entire chest ripping with the writhing of his heartstrings.

In the moonlit room, white sheets around their waists, simply in their underwear, lumps in both their throats, John finally understands. Knowing that Paul did what he did because he thought it was for John… He nods silently, accepting.

“I’m sorry,” whispers Paul again, voice breaking.

“No,” says John thickly, “Don’t. I-I get it, Paul – I do.”

“If… we’d’ve never been signed, I would have never –”

“I know,” says John through a closed throat, attempting a smile that comes out weak.

Paul nods vigorously, his mouth shut tight as his eyes shine in the faint silvery moonlight peaking through the gap in the curtains.

“I still love you, too, by the way,” mutters John, the words tearing another chunk out of his heart. Paul freezes, but, after absorbing the words, begins to blinks furiously against tears, nodding as he bites his lips violently.

“I know,” he chokes out and John suddenly has never loved him more.

Without warning, John moves forward, the sheets rustling as he does so, and puts an arm on either side of Paul, enclosing him. Worriedly, Paul glances up with wet eyes and John holds the eye contact as he slowly inches his knee over Paul’s body, so that he’s straddling him without quite touching him. The room has suddenly increased in temperature – or so it seems – because John can feel the heat from Paul’s skin – or is it his own skin burning so hot?

Paul’s lower lip quivers dangerously as he looks up at John and he exhales tellingly – his breath trembles. “John –”

“Lie down,” whispers John, his voice rough, never taking his eyes off of Paul as he conveniently ignores all the voices shouting ‘No’ in his head. Paul’s Adam’s apple bobs as he swallows, but does as he’s told and lies back, covered in the shadow of John’s body. The mattress creaks a bit when his head hits the pillow.

Supporting himself on his knees and left hand, John brings his other hand to hover over Paul’s chest, his fingers shaking, barely grazing the skin. He lets out a breath – just feeling that heat so close – and stares at his fingers almost touching Paul. It would be nothing – just the slightest of movements – and it would be skin on skin… just like it used to be…

“John,” says Paul in a strangled voice, “we can’t…”

“I know –”

“We chose this –”

I know –”

Paul shivers. “I want to, though,” he hisses and shifts almost imperceptibly. That tiny movement – just the slightest angling of his hips – makes John’s blood go thick and heavy in his veins.

“Then just let me… touch you,” says John haltingly, his breathing heavy as he slowly lowers his hand a fraction of an inch to finally feel the warmth of Paul’s flesh beneath his fingers. John’s palm and fingers mold instantly to the gentle curve of Paul’s abdomen – finally, skin on skin. The pair of them release sighs and the simple touch – the only intimate one they’ve had in years – turns back time and, suddenly, they’re back in John’s bedroom in Liverpool, awake in the middle of night with nothing to do but feel.

Paul’s chest rises and falls rapidly under John’s hand and the older man can see that his friend’s control is slipping. Watching in rapt fascination, John trails his fingers lower and lower – with a painstaking slowness that has Paul clutching the sheets – until he reaches the top of Paul’s underwear. “John,” pants Paul softly, the sound doing nothing to put out the fire in John’s blood, “Don’t –”

But the rest of Paul’s plea is forgotten once John slips the tips of his fingers just beneath the band of his underwear. Paul’s mouth falls open and his head pushes into the pillow, his face a silent shout as he inhales a few quick breaths that catch in his throat. The sight of Paul practically coming undone at just the slightest touch makes John’s belly tighten and his muscles quiver with desire. In awe of the beauty of Paul’s face, John unhurriedly moves the tips of his fingers under the elastic from Paul’s right hip back to his left, drinking in every breathless sigh and pleading moan that sounds vaguely like his name.

As John’s hand continues to slide back and forth, back and forth along the soft skin just below Paul’s hips, the younger man feels a soft whine building in the back of his throat. Paul’s white teeth peak out, biting his lush lower lip so as to not whimper and John can’t take it anymore – fluidly, he leans forward, his body rolling over Paul’s, and lowers his face so that he’s a breath away from that mouth. “God,” Paul breathes out, hands still fisted in the sheets at his sides. Their bodies are now flush with the other and for a moment, neither of them move.

Everything feels so right again.

The pair of them practically shake with the restraint they’re exerting not to go further than simply lying one on top of the other. “John,” tries Paul again, his breath ghosting over his friend’s lips and slipping into his mouth, “we can’t do this… We just can’t do this anymore…”

“Fuck, I know – I know,” nearly sobs John, eyes shut tight, the tips of his lips just brushing Paul’s as he speaks.

“If we do this… we won’t be able to stop,” says Paul, his knuckles turning the same shade of white as the sheets.

John snorts softly, humorlessly. “You’re right – always right,” he spits out, a wry smile pulling at his lips, not making any moves to pull away.

“I know I am,” says Paul, but the words are empty of all emotion.

Both have their eyes closed, faces screwed up in emotion, noses pressing into one another. More time passes and still they do not move. John does nothing to lift himself off Paul and Paul does nothing to push John off of him. They stay pressed together – lips a breadth away – swallowing the other’s breaths.

“Are you going to kiss me?” asks Paul quietly, never opening his eyes.

John’s eyes flutter open a slit, his pulse tripping in his veins. “Do you want me to?”

“Of course I fucking do,” grits out Paul, a note of pain in his voice as his brows knit in emotion. He breathes deeply, collecting himself. “It’s just… can we stop after that?”

His timid question hangs in the air as John’s hands tighten a bit around Paul, wishing he were staring into his eyes instead of his eyelids. Unhelpfully, his mind conjures up images of their legs entwining, sliding against each other, skin slicked in sweat, but he swallows and shakes the thoughts away. “Yes, we can,” affirms gruffly.

Paul sighs and John’s body rises and falls with the motion. “Then kiss me,” he whispers, eyes closed, a sadness in his voice that sends a chill up John’s spine. The tears that trickle from his eyelids, down his face, and disappear into his hairline don’t go unnoticed by John.

The muscles in John’s face wrestle against sobs and he masters himself by swallowing roughly. They both know this isn’t good for them – both know that they can’t be together like this anymore because of the decisions they made and that moments like these will only make staying apart harder still – but like the drugs they so avidly consume, it’s an addiction. Unlike marijuana, John has come to realize, love is a stronger addiction and stays in your system all the time – even after three years his desire for Paul has not dwindled. It’s done nothing but intensify. Love not only snares the mind, but also the heart – which is what makes it so dangerous. Paul is John’s greatest and most unshakable addiction and he knows that just one taste won’t do.

He doesn’t think that if he kisses Paul again he’ll be able to stop this time.

And because of this, John cannot bring himself to take what he so desperately wants and needs – he can’t bring himself to lower his lips to Paul’s.

For many minutes, all that can be heard throughout the hotel room is the duet of shaky breaths – inhale, exhale, inhale, exhales. Swallowing vainly against the sobs in his throat, John does not kiss Paul, but simply looks down through watery eyes at the man he can never have – the loss seeping through him like ice water. With a little jolt, John notices that Paul has opened his eyes and is now looking at him with wistfully, mouth quivering.

“You couldn’t do it,” he says softly.

“I wouldn’t be able to stop,” says John in guise of an explanation and Paul nods, his forehead brushing John’s as he does so. At the contact, the older man closes his eyes and leans his forehead into Paul’s, holding him tighter to him.

Paul unclenches his fists and lets the sheets slip from his fingers – gently, he threads them comfortingly through John hair. “We can never go back… can we?” asks Paul, knowing the answer already.

John shakes his head, a grimace on his face, still fighting against tears. “No,” he croaks, “No, we can’t.”

“To the t-toppermost of the p-poppermost, eh?” says Paul, attempting a laugh that comes out all watery. John looks down at the man beneath him – that brave, childish smile on his trembling lips – and the older man feels those burning tears finally spill over.

“The toppermost of the poppermost,” repeats John to himself as the tears drip down the bridge of his nose and onto Paul’s cheeks. “Fucking stupid I was…” he whispers, shutting his eyes. “Didn’t know I was already there with you.”

And with that, Paul chest heaves, his face crumbling, and he’s sobbing messily – the anguished sound ringing in John’s ears and filling up the dark hotel room.

The next morning, the sunshine spilling through the gap in the gauzy curtain catches in the dried tear tracks on their faces and, as they rise, slowly rolling off one another, they don’t speak of last night. In fact, they never speak of them ever again.

The only other time they ever come close to talking about them again is after a show, a few months later. The roaring of the crowd still buzzes in John’s head as he sits tiredly in his dressing room and, when the door bangs open to reveal a sweaty, disheveled Paul, a guitar hanging off his back, he isn’t surprised.

“‘Yesterday’…?” asks John without preamble, the question not needing to be finished.

“Yes,” replies Paul without missing a beat, his voice soft, eyes burning.

John exhales and feels his heart fall a little bit inside his chest – no-one around, a fragile Paul in his doorway… It would be easy… So, so easy…

“Try not to look so sad when you sing it – you’ll upset the birds.”

John can’t bring himself to look at Paul because he can picture all too clearly the disappointment on his face.

“Okay, John,” murmurs Paul after a moment’s silence and he leaves quietly, shutting the door gently behind him.

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