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"The Questions of a Thousand Dreams - Part 4"
Title: The Questions of a Thousand Dreams (4/5)
Rating: NC-17 (more R for this part)
Warnings: Language, sexuality, slash (duh)
Disclaimer: I don't own The Monkees or Stephen Stills and make no claim that this ever really happened. It is purely the result of an overactive imagination.
Summary: Peter is eternally grateful to have found a temporary home with the Nesmiths. But he soon realises that it might not be all it's cracked up to be and calls in a favour from a friend. But while this may solve his initial problems, it only serves to dump them on his unsuspecting bandmate...
Author's Note: Argh, delays! Major apologies for taking so long with this. I realised that it was going to wind up as 5 parts put I have been stringing people along enough as it is that I wanted to wait until the whole thing was finished before posting it. So here it is, all in one go! It became something of a monster, as you will see :/ I hope it was worth the wait and that people are still on board with it. This part is partly inspired by this picture...
The next six months became a blur of activity. The Monkees positively exploded all
around the world, no teen magazine was devoid of their faces. So much happened in
such a short amount of time, weeks bled togather as they were told what to do and
where to be.
Things took a drastic turn for the guys when Mike took things into his own hands by standing up to Don Kirshner when they were having so little control of their identity. The others followed his lead and soon enough, they had significant control over their music. It was just what they needed and there was new found life and energy in the band.
But not everything was peaches and cream.
Mike never did find out what it was that Peter had wanted to tell him all those months ago, apparently it was no longer important. He was out of the house the following week thanks to his newly acquired pay checks. Mike didn't feel the instant wave of relief he was hoping for, instead feeling empty and somewhat at a loss.
While they tried not to let the sudden change affect them at work; it seemed impossible. The bond had been severed, leaving a tension that always seemed to linger around them. Though Peter didn't show it, he was hurt by the abrupt rejection, never receiving a solid reason for the decision. But rather than press the matter, he just accepted it, figuring it was a way out that didn't affect the band. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise.
Mike wasn't feeling much better about it. There were days when he positively hated himself for making the decision, wondering if he had been too rash. Days where he was so tempted to just call Peter in the middle of the night to see if he wanted to jam, to just talk...but ultimately, he knew it was the only way to stop the overwhelming thoughts and urges.
The dreams had continued for a couple of weeks after he moved out, until he was left with just the momory of them as well as that fateful day. But, over time, even those events became hazy. Visuals became distorted, as did the passionate words spoken. But, no matter how much he may have tried, he couldn't forget the sounds and the intense feelings of want they brought out in him.
However, once they had ousted Kirshner, Mike found himself facing a multitude of golden possibilities and as they began setting up for their third album, his mind was so preoccupied with finding a producer, writing new songs, planning sessions that he didn't have time to worry about anything else.
Unfortunately, when he came into the studio this particular morning, Fate decided to throw him a curve ball.
The others were already there; Micky talking to Chip in the booth while Peter was sat at the piano with Davy and another guy standing either side of him. Mike watched them out of sight, a small smile spreading across his face as Peter effortlessly played whatever came into his head.
"Are they recording this?" The unknown man asked, looking up into the booth causing Mike's heart to thud almost painfully in his chest.
It was him! Mike would recognise that face anywhere. Images long since locked away tight were suddenly trying to force themselves into his mind as he glowered at the man.
He continued to seethe for the next 20 minutes, watching as the two blonds bounced effortlessly off each other; joking, creating music, singing harmonies that were all too perfect to Mike's ears. As he watched them, a fleeting thought crossed his mind, one he was quick to chase away: That should be me.
His glowering was suddenly interrupted by Chip and Micky announcing their brief departure to which he nodded distractedly, not moving from his hunched position against the wall, arms crossed defiantly over his chest. He also belatedly noticed that he'd been so focused on Peter and his...friend, fuck-buddy, partner, whatever the hell he was, that he hadn't noticed Davy slip away either. Feeling a sudden sense of something that he refused to acknowledge as jealousy, Mike made his way into the recording room, just in case they wind of their sudden privacy and started to go at it then and there. As far as Mike was concerned, he's seen enough of that to last a lifetime.
As he entered the room, immediately catching their attention, Mike was surprised to find not a look of disappointment at being interrupted on Peter's face but a sudden glint and that infuriating smile that he always returned before he could think about it.
"Michael!" He greeted, standing up from the piano, "This is my friend, Stephen. Think I've probably mentioned him to you before."
Stephen held out his hand which Mike met with a firm shake, a slight frown on his face. Stephen? Why doesn't that sound right?
"Don't remember you mentionin' him, no."
"I'm his best kept secret," Stephen replied jokingly, following with a wink.
"No shit," Mike countered, completely without humour, releasing the younger man's hand. Stephen cast a glance over at Peter that clearly said 'this is what you were getting worked up over?' to which Peter responded with a 'be nice' glare.
"Steve's living with me at the moment..." Mike's eyes narrowed, that feeling that definitely wasn't jealousy reaching boiling point.
"Really," was all he had to say on the matter, while his thoughts were going a mile a minute. I did that. I forced him out and basically threw him into the arms of this...this...guy. Who the fuck is this guy!?
"Yeah, about 2 months after you kicked him out," Stephen responded, receiving an even more serious glare from Peter for his trouble. Peter, however, didn't fail to notice the flinch Stephen's comment had elicited from the Texan, making him somewhat hopeful; maybe he regretted the decision more than he let on.
He noticed Mike about to bite back so Peter quickly interrupted to dispel further argument, "Have you seen Chip, I need to ask him something?"
"He took off with Micky 'bout 5 minutes ago. Don't know where to," Mike replied, never taking his eyes off Stephen who stared back, a goading smirk playing on his lips.
"OK, well, I'm gonna go look for him. Stephen-"
"I'll stay here and wait," he finished, still keeping eye contact with Mike. Peter watched them both for a moment with some trepidation, knowing that while they had plenty in common and could be great friends, the situation seemed to be headed more towards a fight between two cock-sure, alpha male Texans. He would be surprised if he came back to find them wrestling each other on the floor. Peter raised an eyebrow at the thought, why isn't that as disconcerting as it should be?
"Look, I'll be as quick as I can, need to get some recording done today, after all." Mike finally broke eye contact, looking to Peter to give a nod. When he turned his back on them both, Peter mouthed to Stephen 'Play nice!' who responded with an oh-so innocent 'Who me?'. Knowing that Stephen had come to develop some irrational grudges against Mike for the way he'd treated his friend, Peter wasn't convinced it was a good idea to leave them together but he didn't have much choice. And, strangely, he was picking up the hostility from Mike too though he wasn't sure what had brought that on. But Mike could be strange like that, forming opinions before he got to know anyone. So, with one final warning glance, Peter disappeared down the hall, leaving the two 'rivals' alone together.
They stood in silence for several moments, Mike leaning against the wall, arms crossed in front of him while Stephen supported himself against the piano.
It came as a surprise to both of them when Mike was the one to break the heavy silence.
"Known Peter long?" He enquired, gaze remaining fixed on the floor.
"'Bout 5 years, I'm guessin'. Met back in the Village when folks went around sayin' we looked alike." That caused Mike to look up in surprise. Sure, the hair was kinda the same colour and they were about the same height but that's where the similarities ended for Mike. Stephen didn't have the well-defined physique, the dimpled smile, those mischievous caramel eyes...
"-played together for a bit 'fore we got bored and went our separate ways." Stephen's voice suddenly cut through his infuriating thoughts, forcing him to pause for a moment as he processed the information.
"Don't look so separate to me," Mike grumbled but Stephen heard him loud and clear.
"Yeah, well, we just seem to ping back to each other. Tempting fate to keep us apart, I guess."
"Uh-huh. How'd a Texan like you end up way out in the Village anyhow?" It came out more as an accusation than a question but Stephen wasn't about to be intimidated by it.
"I'd wager about the same way you found yourself out here. Musician's gotta go where the work it; you went west, I went east."
"And now you're shacked up with Peter."
"How's that workin' out for ya?"
"...Pretty good. Don't see much of each other, really. He's workin' all hours and I'm off doin' my own thing."
"That's a real shame," Mike muttered snidely causing Stephen to frown, "No time to play music together?"
"Well, we mess around with some-"
"No time to just hang out..." Mike was starting to get more irate, not even listening for a response from Stephen.
"We get the odd-"
"No time to fuck him under your own roof instead of someone else's?"
It was out of his mouth before it was even a complete thought in his head, his words
just pouring out as a stream of consciousness. He didn't know what had possessed
him, he did not want to have a conversation about this, let alone outwardly acknowledging
the fact that it had happened and he'd seen it.
When no response was immediately forthcoming, Mike dared a look up to stare into a completely unreadable face. To his credit, the blond managed not to look as shocked as he felt. He knew he had to play this very carefully, not so much for his sake but for Peter's. If he were to find out that Mike somehow knew, he'd probably have a conniption.
But Stephen did wager that this probably had a lot to do with the sudden awkwardness Peter had described between them. He instantly felt some of his animosity towards the older man melt away in light of this curious evidence and was keen to get to the bottom of it.
As casually as he could muster, he hoisted himself up to sit on the piano, responding with a totally non-committal, "Ah."
Mike continued to stare at him, an incredulous expression taking over his features, "Wh- That's all ya gotta say? 'Ah'!?"
"Well, what do ya want me to say?"
Mike didn't know how to answer that. Maybe he wanted him to deny it so he could rant some more. Or perhaps he hoped he's prove him wrong, assure him that it was all a bad dream, that everything was back to normal. He was in no way prepared for the bluntness he received.
"We haven't had sex since I moved in and it had been over a year since we'd had sex before the time at your place. Not that's any of your business."
"Then why are you telling me?" Mike snapped, feeling his mind about ready to break.
"Well, ya seemed to be all worked up about it so I thought-"
"I am not worked up about it!"
"...Listen man, to flip out as you undeniably just did over somethin' that happened close to hald a year ago...that says 'unresolved issues' to me."
Mike didn't like how nonchalant Stephen was acting, it was making him feel like a drama queen. But this was a big deal, wasn't it? He wasn't being irrational...was he?
"Don't get me wrong, I get that you wouldn't be cool with it, two guys screwin' around in your house." He saw Mike twitch slightly and couldn't help but smirk, just a little bit.
"It's wasn't that it was two guys..." Mike responded, not really paying attention to what he was saying as he tried to compose his thoughts.
Stephen's eyebrows rose in realisation as he almost whispered, "...It was because it was Peter." This could be good. Very, very good.
Mike on the other hand did not like the look on the man's face, nor the direction the conversation seemed to be veering in. Deciding he had had more than enough of the other Texan's company, he made a move to end the absurdity of their exchange.
"I'm gettin' a coffee," Mike mumbled as he strode past Stephen, heading towards the door. Just as he was partway out of it, Stephen's voice drifted to his ears.
"If you wanna talk about it..."
Mike spun round, ready to jump down his throat when faced with that smug expression; but instead he found the blond watching him curiously, maybe even imploringly, making the older man falter.
Sensing his barriers wavering, Stephen pressed further, "You ain't gonna find anyone more qualified to talk to about it, after all."
That...was a good point. Maybe it hadn't been such an unconscious admission, like he thought. Maybe bottling it up was just making things worse, what if he'd just had an outburst like that with anyone else? Perhaps he saw this as an opportunity to get it all out with someone that might understand what's happening because he sure as hell wasn't any the wiser.
Cautiously, Mike made his way back into the room, still not convinced that this man, whom he didn't even know, wasn't about to humiliate him in some way.
He retained his previous position against the wall but made no further attempt at conversation. Stephen sighed, figuring he was dealing with a reluctant customer here and would have his work cut out for him...but at least said man was still in the room.
"Alright, let's do it this way, hm? You ask a question, then I'll ask a question."
"...Alright," Mike responded, already starting to regret his decision to stay.
"You go first," Stephen prompted, figuring it might settle him a bit.
"...When did it start?" Mike kept his gaze down, not willing to fully commit himself to the discussion.
"Uh, well, like I said, we met about 5 years ago so just a little after that, I guess."
"Ah," Stephen interrupted, holding up a hand, "You ask a question, I ask a question."
Mike tensed, not wanting to be put in the spotlight but relented, nodding for Stephen to go ahead.
"How did you find out?" He asked, genuinely perplexed.
Well, wasn't that a loaded question. There was no way Mike was going to come out with 'well, I heard you and then decided to take a look and wound up staying for the whole show while having a pretty good time myself'. No, he was going to keep his cards close to his chest.
"Came home at lunch that day and...I heard ya...up there," he said, this time looking up to shoot an accusing glance at the musician.
"Ah. He always did have lousy timing," Stephen replied with a laugh, hiping to lighten the mood. It didn't work. Realising this, Stephen signalled for Mike to ask his question.
"Do you...get together often?"
"Nah. This has been the first time since we've come to LA. Probably happened every few months back in the Village. Not like we had a schedule of anything, it was just as and when."
"So why then?"
Stephen gave him a chastising look but Mike wasn't about to back down, he wanted answers, dammit. "Think of it as a follow-up question..."
Stephen didn't think it would be wise to challenge him so answered with a shrug. "He just needed to get laid but by someone that knew all the right buttons. I didn't ask what brought it on," he lied. It was obvious to the blond that Mike was struggling to deal with everything, asking questions, answering questions but he could also tell that he wanted to talk about it, he was determined to see it through. But then Stephen asked the one question sure to stump him.
"Why so interested?"
That was what truly eluded him, why was he so worked up about it? Why was it always there in the dark recesses of his mind? Why was Peter always getting under his skin? Why, why, why?
Stephen physically saw the older man clam up and he gave an irritated sigh.
"Look, man. I'm just tryin' to help ya out here, no ulterior motives, no plans to go away and share this with the world. So why don't you cut me some goddamn slack and tell me what the problem is!?"
"I don't know!" Mike yelled back, propelling himself off the wall. Stephen kept a neutral face but inside he was patting himself on the back. He knew that an outburst would somehow cause Mike to let his guard down, now was the time to really dig.
Mike was starting to pace across the room, thoughts in overdrive. "It's just...it's always there, in the back of my mind. And I can't look at him the same."
"Well, that's gotta be normal. I would imagine that owuld be the same if you heard anyone you know having sex, gotta be a little disturbing." But Mike shook his head, vehemently, suddenly so much more animated.
"No, it's not the same. It doesn't disturb me, well, not initially, at least. It's different, I wanna...To-" He couldn't finish the sentence, whether because he couldn't admit it or he didn't even know what the rest of it was, he wasn't sure. But Stephen knew.
His eyes widened in comprehension, "...You wanna fuck him."
Mike stopped his pacing to face Stephen, silently rolling the idea around in his head. Is that what it is? I just want to experience it for myself? Just bizarre curiosity, nothing else? He mentally shrugged, figuring it was more than he'd come up with so far.
"Yeah, I wanna fuck him. I guess a part of me needs to know what it's like and once I know, I can move on and everything will go back to being as it was, right?"
Stephen nodded absently, but inside his heart had sunk to his stomach. He knew that Peter would be more than happy to jump into bed with tall, dark and handsome here but for a quick fuck? While that might solve Tex's problems, Peter would be left feeling like shit, though he undoubtedly wouldn't admit it, and Stephen wasn't about to bring that on his friend. He had to tread very carefully from here on in.
"I mean, it works for you two, right? You can just fuck and then things are normal between you the rest of the time. I mean, you don't have...feelings for each other or anything?" The burst of energy was quickly subsiding and he was getting nervous again, back in dangerous waters.
"Uh, well, there was a slight hiccup in the beginning. Ya gotta bare in mind that I was 19 and I wasn't by any means inexperienced, with chicks at least, but I didn't quite know how to feel about it and thought I was in love with him for a bit there. But we sorted it out, he'll put you in lines if things get weird, don't worry about it."
Mike paused, processing the last statement before scoffing dramatically. A little too dramatically, Stephen thought. Maybe everything wasn't quite what it seemed with this guy.
"That wasn't what I was worried about, believe me. I just didn't wanna tread on any toes."
"So he's not...queer?"
Stephen had to stop himself from laughing, it was such a preposterous idea but it was a fair question. "No, he's not queer. He just...likes what he likes."
Silence fell again as they both took their thoughts inward; Mike wondering why the hell he was actually discussing this, why had he just admitted to practically a total stranger that he wanted to fuck his friend? And Stephen wondering just what Mike's real feelings were. He was convinced that there was something more to it but also knew that he wouldn't get it out of him in so many words.
"Look, man. This may all sound great in your head but you don't wanna go in all guns blazin'. He ain't gonna like that," Stephen said in an attempt to backtrack; not wanting to get Peter mixed up in something that was just going to get majorly complicated.
Mike faltered, "But you were just goin' on 'bout how it ain't weird an'-"
"It's not weird for us, we've known each other for years. You don't think it's gonna seem just a little weird to him if you pounce on him out of nowhere? You practically threw him out on the street without explanation, man."
Mike bristled at the accusation, not appreciating the reminders. But it was a fair point. They'd been pretty distant lately, it probably wouldn't be too well received if he suddenly attacked him with the intention to fuck his brains out.
Stephen could see the confusion building on Mike's features so, figuring he was almost there, he made his final comment, "Maybe ya just need to talk it out. Why not just see if it's still affecting you later on, before you go do something drastic, hm?"
That did it. With another slight pause, Mike slammed a fist down onto the piano Stephen was still sat on before slumping down onto the stool, burying his head in his arms across the keys in resignation.
"He's not even my type, y'know?" He laughed without humour, "Even if he were a chick, I mean."
Stephen chuckled lightly, feeling a little bad at causing the Texan so much conflict, "Hey, don't sweat it man, that's just how he is. Doesn't seem to matter your age, gender, sexuality, availability...that man will draw you in. And you know what makes it worse? He doesn't have the damndest clue. He doesn't know how...desirable he makes himself, doesn't realise how much folks want him and dammit-"
"-it just makes you want him more."
The comment was muffled and barely audible but it was out there and stopped the blond in his tracks. Not only was it a very honest yet subconscious statement but it was the tone that caught him off-guard. Not only was it obviously sincere but there was also more than hint of misery there too. It suddenly became clear to Stephen what was going on, even if the dark-haired man hadn't figured it out yet. He just hoped he was right, otherwise he was about to seriously fuck things up...
Breaking the sudden silence, Stephen leapt off the piano, turning to face a startled Mike.
"OK, let's start this again. You wanna fuck Peter?"
Mike frowned at him in confusion, "But, you just said..."
"Forget what I just said, I changed my mind. You wanna fuck Peter?"
"Yes, we know this, what of it?" Mike snapped, getting on edge again.
"Hey, cool it, I just wanna help ya out. He ain't a push-over." Mike sighed deeply, running a hand over his face to school his expression as he stood up.
"OK, 'm sorry. Continue."
"Right, now...We got two scenarios here: top or bottom." Mike frowned, not immediately cottoning on to what he was getting at. "Now, from what I can gather," and from what I've been told, Stephen thought, "you're intent on topping, right?"
Suddenly, everything became clear and Mike flushed at the implication. "You're damn right I'm gonna top," he said, indignantly.
"You sure? Not that I blame you but letting him take control, whoo, that's a whole other ball game. The guy knows what he's doing, for sure. Slow and torturous but sooo damn good..." Stephen caught movement from the corner of his eye, seeing Mike shift awkwardly, an uncomfortable look on his face.
"Uh, right so yeah, top. Any thought on position?"
Mike clenched his fists together, trying so hard to not just flee from the scene, his brain threatening to shut down but he persevered, "Just the same as-" Mike caught himself before he could finish with 'you did it', instead saying 'normal'.
Stephen raised an eyebrow at the ambiguous statement, "Normal?"
"Just...from behind, with him..." He couldn't finish the sentence, he was rapidly wishing the ground would just swallow him up.
"Bent over? That'll work," Stephen finished for him, not at all embarrassed by the conversation and attempting to get Mike in the same frame of mind. "Keep either of you from freaking out if you approach from behind, I guess."
"You think he'd freak out?" Mike asked, sudden panic in his voice.
"Who knows, probably not, not once you're in the swing of it. One thing to bear in mind with Peter is that...well, he can be pretty enthusiastic when he's on the receiving end. It can be a little...overwhelming if you ain't prepared for it.
"Overwhelming?" Mike asked, more out of a sense of duty than any real need for elaboration, he knew exactly what Stephen meant.
"Yeah, well, he can get pretty vocal, he's quite a talker if you're doin' it right."
"So you're sayin' he's easy to please?"
Stephen had to think on that for a moment before being able to put into words what Peter was really like. "Easy to please; yes, you could say that. Easy to satisfy? No chance. He's hard work but it's not for nothing'."
Another silence fell, Stephen assumed the conversation was over but Mike unexpectedly broke the silence, actually continuing the conversation of his own volition.
"What about buttons?"
Stephen frowned at the bizarre question but mentally shrugged, offering his opinion, "Depends on if you're in a hurry. If you are, just rip 'em off, I say."
Mike looked back at him blankly before shaking his head, "No buttons. You said you knew what buttons to push, what can I do?"
This time it was Stephen's turn to look blank. But the question further proved that he was making the right decision...he hoped. "Uh, well, there's a coupla things to try," he started, trying to recall specifics himself, "Thicken up the accent, he's a sucker for a southern accent." Mike seemed heartened by that point, that was certainly something he could do.
"Eye contact's always good...talking music will get his attention, though I'm sure you know that already."
"What about turn ons?" Mike asked, now sitting on the piano, paying rapt attention to the blond, making mental notes as he spoke. Stephen had to suppress a laugh at his newfound interest.
"He's pretty sensitive, 'specially his back. Run your fingers over it and he'll be putty in your hands. Everything else is pretty much a given, I guess. Well, except the button, course."
As expected, that caught the older man's interest, "The button?"
"You can't miss it and you'll surely know when you've found it because he'll totally lose it, guaranteed. He's loud at the best of times but you hit that spot and he'll go into an uncontrollable frenzy; bucking and writhing and groaning..."
Mike zoned out, eyes glazing over as he was suddenly hit with a barrage of memories; Peter undulating gloriously on the bed, the urgent pants, desperate moans and passionate mutterings becoming almost deafening in his mind. God, he wanted that for himself, wanted to cause those sounds, be the one to make Peter completely lose control.
To his horror, a small whimper escaped his lips, abruptly shaking himself out of his vivid fantasy. His eyes quickly focused on Stephen who was failing miserably at hiding his smirk.
"Problem?" He asked, with a none too subtle glance at the dark-haired man's crotch. Mike followed his gaze only to be filled with more horror when he realised how painfully hard he was. He shifted a little, trying to relieve the ache and the obviousness of the bulge.
Stephen found himself suppressing yet another laugh at the older man's discomfort. It was almost like revenge by proxy, for all the crap Mike had put Peter through the last six months. But, as much as he was enjoying making him squirm, he didn't want to scare the guy off, not when they were so close so he abruptly changed the subject.
"Speaking of buttons, you need to watch out."
Mike cleared his throat, composing himself before asking in a slightly broken voice, "Why?"
"Well, it's all very well knowing what get him going but he has the damn frustrating ability of finding and memorising all your buttons; buttons you didn't even know you had and by god he will use them against you every subsequent opportunity."
"Well, shit, that doesn't matter," Mike retaliated, still a little agitated by previous events, "Ain't like he's gonna get said opportunity. Just a one time thing, get it outta by system. Got it?"
Stephen couldn't help but think it sounded a lot like he was trying to convince himself more than the blond but made no mention of it, instead responding with an "uh-huh".
"Mick's doin' a quick coffee run so I asked him for a black and one white if you're sticking around..." Peter's sentence drifted off when he noticed both men practically jump out of their skin as soon as he re-entered the room. He looked from one to the other, trying to determine if they had been arguing or something but nothing suggested it.
He edged further into the room, casting a questioning glance to Stephen who gave a grin that did nothing to ease his concerns.
"Did I miss something?"
"Nah, just shootin' the shit," Stephen quipped without pause. "Oh, by the way, ol' Mike here's comin' over for dinner tonight," he added, causing Peter's eyes to widen and Mike's to almost bulge out of his head.
"Oh, yeah? Uh, ok, I can dig it." He looked to Mike to see the slightly dazed look on his face but when he realised he'd been spotted, he tried for his best nonchalant smile and was thankfully saved from responding by the loud entrance of Micky trying to juggle several cups of coffee.
While Peter was distracted with helping Micky, Mike grabbed Stephen harshly by the arm, whispering incredulously in his ear, "What in the hell-!?"
"No time like the present! Just remember: eye contact, sensitive back, thick accent and music. Oh and, uh, you can never go wrong with a bit of alcohol," he said, counting the points off on his fingers. Before Mike could panic further, Peter turned around causing them to break apart as they were handed their coffees.
"Think I'll take it to go, thanks Pete. Catch you two later," he said with a jaunty wave and a slap to Peter's shoulder as he took his sudden leave.
Peter stopped him just on the other side of the door, out of earshot from the others.
"You're up to something." A statement, not a question.
Out came the innocent expression, followed by an unassuming, "Who me?"
Peter just glared at him for a few moments longer before prodding him in the chest with his index finger, "I'm watching you, Stills..."
"Quit being so paranoid, Tork. Now get in there and make some big bucks." Peter kept his finger pointed at the younger man until he disappeared back into the recording room.
Stephen took a sip from his coffee before looking to the heavens and hoping against all hope that he was reading this right and making the right decision.
Otherwise his life really wouldn't be worth living.