Disclaimer: As much as I wish it were otherwise, I don't own Train's lovely music. Any resemblance to anything at all (people, places, things, the English language, etc.) is purely coincidental.
Today and Every Day (I Love You)
Forever can never be long enough for me
To feel like I've had long enough with you
Like every day, his pen tapped out a soft rhythm on the battered notebook in front of him, the page covered with a neat scrawl of notes and words. Xavier hummed softly under his breath, trying to fit the pieces of the song together like he wanted them. Even as he did, though, a part of his attention was wholly and entirely focused on the redhead who wound between the tables.
The waiter—Galen, Xavier thought, having seen the nametag he wore on occasion—smiled, and laughed, and talked with other couples in the small café. It was a beautiful smile, Xavier reflected wistfully, scratching out a word in the second line and replacing it with another. And Galen was handsome, too, tall and solid without being bulky, big enough to make Xavier feel nearly petite in comparison. Xavier prided himself on not having a type—he valued personality over looks, and his desires often changed—but if he had had one, Galen would have been it. Cheerful, and sarcastic when needed; strong and gruff, but gentle at the same time; loud and boisterous, but capable of quiet kindness when he saw someone who was hurting.
Pen still tapping out the beat of his newest song, Xavier abandoned his train of thought and lifted his head to stare out the window at the rain. He had been watching the other redhead for almost two months now, closely enough to know that he saved pennies and thanked people for even the smallest tip, and held the door for anyone instead of just women. He was friends with a girl who went to the local university and a few of the business owners on the street, but seemed to keep to himself a lot and not act as outgoing as appearance—and that shockingly bright red hair—indicated he should.
Xavier loved that about him. He loved all of Galen, even though he knew it made him creepy and stalkerish and probably borderline criminal. But love Galen he did, from the man's dark red eyebrows to the way he bounced slightly on the balls of his feet when he was especially excited. It was adorable.
Forget the world now we won't let them see
But there's one thing left to do
Kendal, the drummer in his band—and it was Xavier's band, more than anyone else's, because he had sweated and bled and collected just the right members for an easy harmony, and then taken them to where they were today—swore that he was a coward for not saying anything, that Xavier Kristoff of the Midnight Tempest (or, as the fans called them, Mid-Temp for short) shouldn't have played the quiet stalker for months on end and then done nothing with the information he collected.
Xavier had asked—quiet reasonably, he thought—whether Kendal believed he was planning to confess, or if he thought Xavier was going to blackmail the waiter.
Kendal had not been amused, and had responded by saying that, apparently, Xavier was doing neither.
In a fit of juvenility, Xavier had sicced Moira, their wardrobe designer, on the bleached-blonde man and felt a thousand times better.
Now that the weight has lifted
Love has surely shifted my way
Today and every day
If I ever get the nerve to say "Hello" in this café
Say you will
Say you will
It hurt, sometimes, to see all the other laughing, happy groups in the café, and to know that only he was alone. It was the same in the band, too, which was the reason he had started frequenting the shop to begin with. Kendal had Solomon. Lucas had Heidi. Rhett and Misty both had their significant others—Misty a stern, bespectacled, and uptight librarian type named Naomi whom Misty absolutely adored and Rhett their production manager, a laid-back man they all simply called Spider. Being around them was like signing himself up for a voluntary torture session that he could sometimes withstand, but which often grew too overwhelming with the reminder of just how alone he really was.
Long, slim fingers, calloused from guitar strings and piano keys, reached out and traced a series of musical notes on the fogged-over window. His father had kicked him out when he came out of the closet—stupid man was crazily supportive in everything else, but having a homo musician for a son? That was just too much. Xavier didn't mind, not really. He could understand it, as painful as it was. What he really couldn't forgive, however, was the fact that he had been barred from ever seeing his little sisters again. That was a blow he couldn't recover from.
Sighing, he turned back to his notebook, casting another surreptitious glance at the redheaded waiter, who was laughing and joking with a slim blond man and a petite raven-haired girl—his friends, whom Xavier had seen quite a few times. He wondered, every time he did, if the woman was a girlfriend, the man a lover. He got jealous over people he didn't even know. Love was turning him into a needy bastard, it seemed.
With another soft sigh, Xavier pushed his black fedora—a gift from his sister Annabel, which she had snuck out to send to him for Christmas, saying that all real musicians should own one—further down over his distinctive purple-and-blue hair and slouched in his seat, wondering if he would ever just stay there at some point and fade into the background so much that no one ever noticed him again.
With his luck, it would probably happen.
Before he could test his theory, though, the door of the café swung open, admitting a tall man with spiky black hair under a fiddler cap, to minimize the attention given to the long scar across his cheek, the grey rose tattoo on his other cheek, and the black cobra underneath it. An old guitar was slung across his back. When Xavier glanced at the door—because, really, he had nothing better to do besides mope and feel lovesick—he spotted the dark-haired man and swallowed back a groan. Solomon had found him. And, judging by the look Xavier was getting, the band's self-appointed problem-solver (who was forever ignoring the fact that he quite often made problems even more complicated with his "help") wasn't about to write this off as a "Xavier thing," as Lucas and Kendal usually did.
"Did you have to come, Sol?" Xavier asked wearily when the man had approached, though he carefully avoided his band-mate's knowing gaze, focusing instead on the half-finished song in front of him.
Solomon smiled fondly at the top of his bowed head as he took a seat, and then reached out to flick the fedora's brim down so the hat covered the singer's eyes. "Yes. You've been moping enough that even Rhett noticed—and you know how he is about anything that isn't Spider or his precious keyboard."
When Xavier just muttered something unintelligible in response, the guitarist frowned at him. "Come on, Kristoff. Kendal told me what this was about. It can't be all that bad, right? I mean, he refills your coffee, and you leave enough in tips to run a small country. At least he knows you exist. That's a start, isn't it?"
Xavier simply shook his head and returned to his song, jotting down another verse about watching true love from afar.
Together can never be close enough for me
To feel like I am close enough to you
Galen usually hated Cornerstone, the small café that he worked at. It catered to couples, and he knew of little that was more depressing than being surrounded by a nest of lovebirds and yet completely on one's own.
But then, sometimes, he didn't, because he came in.
It had started a little over two months ago, or thereabouts. Galen couldn't remember the first time he had seen the man at the corner table, but over time, he had become a permanent fixture there, about as permanent as Old Man Walker coming in to get his pound of French roast ever Monday morning at eight-seventeen on the dot.
This man—who Galen had never seen in the area before, which was odd, because he was Galen's age and probably in college, which meant that Galen had probably passed him (and missed him) somewhere on the campus—this man always came in around mid-morning, always took the same table or waited until it was open to sit down, and always ordered one cup of plain black coffee, one latte, and one slice of lemon-poppy seed pound cake. He left good tips, which Galen appreciated, and he wrote the entire time, never looking at the other people in the café, just occasionally glancing at the slowly worsening weather outside the window before going back to what he was doing.
Galen found it enthralling, this apparent easiness with himself and his surroundings.
"Just say something," August insisted, after they finished laughing about the most recent exploits about Assistant Professor Lea and her forever exasperated son, Michael (who always seemed more adult-like than his mother). She had caught his lingering glances at the slim man by the window, who was tracing what looked like musical notes in the condensation on the glass. As always, a black fedora was perched on his head, obscuring his hair and half-hiding his face, but what Galen could see was delicate and finely boned, just like the lean hands on the tabletop.
August noticed his attention straying again and smiled slightly, punching him gently in the shoulder. "Galen, you look like a lovesick gorilla. Just go over, refill his coffee, and ask him if he wants to go somewhere after your shift. It can't be that hard."
Galen glared at her for making it sound so simple—and it wasn't, he insisted to himself, crushing the traitorous inner voice that whispered that she was probably right about this, just like she was right about everything else. "August, you're forgetting that we're both men. What if he's straight? What if he's got a girlfriend? Or—" he added quickly, seeing the look on her face, "a boyfriend? I doubt someone who looks like that—" Just in case she had missed the captivating elegance and restrained grace of what they could see of the man, he gestured covertly towards him "—is going to be unattached."
And, as if to reinforce his words, the door opened, and a fierce-looking man with tattoos and a scar badly concealed by a hat entered, making a beeline for the fedora-wearing stranger. He sat down easily, as if certain of his welcome, sliding his guitar out of the way as he did.
But August was already shaking her head, a small smile on her face. "No, I think that if he did have someone, he would hardly be spending every moment in here, don't you?" With a last pat on the shoulder, she dragged Nathanael back out into the rainy afternoon, leaving Galen to ponder how someone so violent and bossy (and tiny) could be so perceptive. He looked back over at the two men by the window, watching their familiar—but not intimate—interaction, and couldn't help but let himself wonder.
You wear white and I'll wear out the words I love you
And you're beautiful
Xavier sighed softly as Solomon stole his notebook. The other guitarist had joined him in the café for the past three days, and as much as Xavier hated to admit it, the brunet's presence was actually a comfort. But that only went so far. He held out a hand in silent order, one eyebrow raised.
Solomon ignored him, scanning the words and lyrics written there. His own eyebrows rose in impressed surprise. "This is what you've been working on? It's great. Could be our next single." He tugged his ever-present guitar from the corner and pulled it from its case, tuning it with a few efficient movements. His fingers picked out the melody Xavier had noted with the ease of long practice, softly humming along. After a few moments of disgruntled silence, to which there was no reaction, Xavier joined in, fingers picking out the accompanying piano melody on the tabletop as his soft tenor joined in, flawless in its timing.
"Now that the wait is over
And love has finally shown you my way
Silence rippled out around them in waves, as people slowly ended their own conversations and just listened, turning to look at the pair. Xavier smiled softly to himself, enjoying the sound of his music coming to life, turning from a collection of scribbles something that everyone could understand.
"Today and every day
Galen turned to look at them, too, surprised. The dark-haired man had his head bowed, eyes closed and a look of concentration on his face. The other man had pushed his fedora back, revealing a face that was startlingly handsome in its angular beauty. His eyes were also closed, and there was a peaceful smile on his face that said clearly that all was well with his world, that this music was everything he needed. Long fingers tapped out an unheard melody on the tabletop, and his soft voice reverberated through the warm, coffee-scented air.
Then his eyes opened, and flickered over to where Galen stood. They both froze for a moment, and then the man's smile deepened slightly, and he sang quietly,
"If I ever get the nerve to say 'Hello' in this café
Say you will
Say you will"
Galen thought his heart might rise right out of his chest, then sprout wings and fly. Before he could help himself, he smiled back. Seeing it, the man's eyes lightened from complex hazel to nearly gold and sparkled with joyful amusement. His voice seemed to spill through the café like warm honey, rising as if it carried a prayer, a wish, a dream, and he sang as though it were akin, for him, to breathing.
You'll always be
Happy by my side
I promise to
Sing to you
When all the music dies
Xavier felt as though he were standing on top of the world, as it always did. There was no fear, no hesitation, only the feeling of something incredibly beautiful and perfect filling his chest and sliding into the center of his being.
And so, when Galen smiled at him like that—like he was something special, something wonderful, something beautiful—he smiled back with everything that was in his heart.
"And marry me
Today and everyday
If I ever get the nerve to say 'Hello' in this café
Say you will
Say you will
Solomon saw it and grinned, fingers dancing, and Xavier wasted a moment wishing that the others were here, too, to finish the song. Maybe Rhett on the violin, even though he usually tried to avoid the instrument. Heidi on viola, for a deeper sound. Put Lucas on guitar, too, to reinforce the sound. Himself on piano, and Kendal on drums—with a stern warning to keep it light. That would work.
The last few chords faded from the air, and he closed his eyes with a sigh that bordered on delight. Music was his life, and at times like this, he wondered how he had ever lived without it. He couldn't remember, but it had almost certainly been next to impossible.
Solomon slid his guitar back into its hard case and stood, flicking the brim of Xavier's fedora again. He kept the notebook, tucking it into his jacket. "I'll run this by the others. See you back at the Pit, Fearless Leader." With a two-fingered salute, he sauntered back out into the cloudy morning. Xavier rolled his eyes, watching him go. "The Pit" was part living quarters, part studio, and all madhouse. By the time he got back, Lucas would no doubt have already run the song by their agent, Heidi would have set up recording sessions, and Kendal would be practicing—even the quiet parts—as loud as was humanly possible.
The rest of the band had decided, in their first-ever unanimous decision, that they were getting him a soundproofed room for Christmas.
The soft clearing of a throat drew his attention back to reality, and he looked up, only to feel his own mouth go instantly dry. Galen offered him a slightly tentative smile, and then asked hesitantly, "Uh, I noticed that you haven't ordered anything to eat yet. My shift ends in twenty minutes, if you want to get something down by the pier."
Breath catching, Xavier wondered faintly if he were dreaming, but, looking up into Galen's handsome face, he knew that even his dreams weren't this good. He reached up and, on instinct, caught the redhead's hand where it hovered uncertainly by his side. Entwining their fingers, he smiled up at the other man and nodded.
"Yes," he said with all the sincerity he could inject into his voice. "I'd love to."
If Xavier had thought Galen's smile was beautiful when directed at other people, it was nothing compared to what it was like when directed at him.
"Good," Galen said, squeezing his fingers gently. "I'm glad."
Their first kiss was on the pier, there on their first date. The second followed shortly, as did the second date, and the third, and the fourth. Kendal teased, Lucas taunted, Heidi cooed, Rhett remained coolly indifferent, and Solomon gloated. Xavier—and Galen, once he was introduced—couldn't bring himself to care. They were, as August put it, disgustingly happy together.
Xavier felt strangely validated when the song—their song—became an instant hit, and their next album hit the top of the charts and stayed there.
Privately, Galen thought it was very much a storybook romance, a fantasy come true, and reveled in it—especially when, two months after their first meeting, Xavier asked him to move into one of the spare rooms in the Pit.
"Is that the last of it?" Kendal asked, dropping his pile of cardboard boxes onto the already cluttered bed.
Solomon grinned, adding his own burdens to the pile. "Yeah, that's it. You guys going to clean this off tonight, or is the room just for show?"
From where he was stacking books on the shelf, Xavier shot the guitarist a glare and gritted out, "Solomon."
Raising his hands in surrender, Solomon laughed, then hooked an arm through his boyfriend's and pulled the taller man out of the room. "All right, all right. We're leaving. Just remember, lovebirds, we've got an interview tomorrow about the new album, and they're going to want you able to sit in a chair, Xavier." He paused, turned, and winked. "That said, ride 'em, cowboy. Good night, Fearless Leader."
The door slammed behind them.
"I swear," Xavier muttered, running a hand through his multicolored hair in aggravation, "I'm never letting him watch old American cartoons again."
Galen chuckled, then dropped to the ground to sit next to the singer. "Yeah, but then he'd just go for something worse," he pointed out, ghosting his fingers over the back of Xavier's neck and delighting in the shiver the action produced. He grinned lazily. "What do you say we prove him right and leave the unpacking for some other time?"
"How about never?" Xavier suggested with a grin, leaning back for a kiss, even though the angle was awkward. "If I have anything to say about it, you'll never use this room, anyway, so it's kind of pointless."
"Hmm." Galen pulled the smaller man up with him, then pulled him close for an easier kiss, even as he steered both of them back towards the door that connected to Xavier's room. He drew back just long enough for a grin and to murmur, "That sounds good to me," before Xavier had them through the door and onto the bed, clothes flying in their wake. Galen didn't think he'd ever been stripped quite so quickly or efficiently.
"Then we're both agreed." Xavier sounded a touch breathless as he sat up over Galen's now-bare body, eyes nearly glowing golden with emotion. He leaned down to press a soft kiss to Galen's chest, right over his heart. Galen's breath caught, and he closed his eyes, one hand coming up to twine in soft indigo-and-lavender hair. They had made love before, neither of them able or willing to hold out for very long after the first month, but this felt special. They were together, living in the same place, in a house that could very well be a home. That made all the difference in the world.
With a quick flex of muscles and limbs, Galen rolled them over so that he was on top, and then stared down at the deceptively lovely man underneath him. Xavier was strong and steady, the driving force and inspiration behind the entire band's success, even though he would never dream of taking the credit. He was fierce and focused and brilliant and kind, and Galen couldn't believe that he was really here, that they were really together in all senses of the word.
"You know, don't you?" he asked, throat suddenly tight with emotion. "That you've always been the one, ever since I first saw you in the café. That I…love you."
And Xavier smiled up at him, that same smile that had so captivated him when he first saw it, and reached up to cup Galen's face in his hands.
"Yes," he answered, in a voice that held every answer Galen had ever needed, even to the questions he had never thought of asking. "I love you, too, Galen. Ever since I first saw you in the café." He leaned up, and their lips met in a long, slow kiss.
Drawing back, Galen chuckled softly, then let his hands slowly trail down Xavier's sides, making the smaller man gasp and arch up into him when Galen gently grasped his erection and stroked. Xavier twisted away from the touch, then hissed out, "Damn it, Galen, don't you dare tease me!" Whatever he had been planning to say next was lost to a soft cry as Galen's fingers dipped further down, finding the opening that was still stretched from their earlier activities in Galen's former apartment.
"Lube? Condom?" Galen asked, gritting his teeth to hold back the spike of lust that shot through him.
Already overwhelmed by the feel of the exploring fingers, Xavier threw his head back and gasped for breath. "Under the pillow. Hurry!"
Galen chuckled, rolling the condom on, retrieving the tube and clicking it open, and then spreading the cool gel over his burning erection. "Impatient."
With a growl, Xavier wrapped his legs around Galen's waist, then rolled, flipping them over and impaling himself in one smooth movement. His head fell back and he groaned as he sank down reaching behind him to grip Galen's legs. There was something about making love with Galen that always overwhelmed him completely. And it always was "making love," and never fucking. It was different, as though every sensation was amplified a hundred times, as if Galen was the only one, now and forever—and if Xavier had his way, he would be.
Not to be outdone, Galen thrust his hips upward, burying himself in Xavier's heat in one last, sharp push, and Xavier cried out, his grip tightening before he sat upright and began to lift up and down, moving in quick, instinctual rhythm. Galen groaned and gripped his hips, eyes fluttering closed as they rocked together.
"Close," he hissed, fingers tightening enough to leave bruises on Xavier's skin. He managed to unclench one hand and slide it around, grasping Xavier's cock and jerking quickly. Xavier keened at the unexpected stimulation and arched backwards, trembling as he came with a long cry.
At the feel of velvet-silken muscles convulsing around him, Galen gave a guttural groan and thrust upward one last time, his orgasm rolling through him and leaving him breathless and exhausted, but strangely energized as Xavier's more slender body collapsed over his. They lay together for a few long moments, gasping for breath, before Galen chuckled, bouncing his lover on his chest.
"Ride 'em, cowboy?"
"Shut up," Xavier grumbled into his chest hair. "It was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing—I have no plans of ever listening to that smug bastard."
"Yes, dear." Galen got rid of the condom and cleaned them off with a stray shirt, then rolled over, tucking Xavier into his side, and kissed his forehead softly. "Are you sore?"
Xavier scowled at the wimpy kiss and pulled his head down for a real one, with lots of tongue and skin contact. By the time he released him, the question was long forgotten, and Galen drew him back against him, pulled the covers up over their bodies, and dropped to sleep with a whispered, "Love you, Xavier."
Awake in the darkness, Xavier looked up at the ceiling with a smile, then closed his eyes and whispered in return, "I love you, too, Galen."