At some point in the morning a note is slipped under the door to Beast's room. 'Meet me in the cabin' is all that is written on it in Loner's tight, neat handwriting. He always has that same handwriting. Of course, he means the Anywhere rooms, though those have changed a bit since the last time they went there. But when Connor enters, the one room is back to that same cabin in the middle of winter that was drawn from their shared memories of Andrew and Connor. Andrew himself sits on a couch, looking out the window, guitar on his lap as he strums out a little tune. And it is Andrew in appearance, as he was when they left the island.
A steaming mug of tea sits on the table in front of him, but he seems more invested in playing the instrument in his hands than in drinking the slowly cooling tea. Out in the snow, a bunch of red deer shuffle along, trying to dig out dead grass and hardy shoots out from under the white fluff.
The Beast receives the note, and tucks it into his pocket, making his way out into the hall and down toward the anywhere rooms. He opens the door, and when he's greeted by that familiar cabin, he steps inside. There's a pause there, in the kitchen, looking at the snow outside, and remembering the last time that he was there. The sound of strumming in the living room, though, draws his attention in that direction, and he makes his way slowly down that short hall, past the room that was his, the downstairs bathroom, and eventually comes to lean one shoulder against the entry to the living room, just watching as Andrew strums the guitar, studying him. He actually looks like Andrew, and that surprises him a little. He was expecting to see Loner there, looking like Loner, and so for a moment he just takes him in, before finally asking, "Writing something new?" It's not a tune he remembers.
"It's weird. Come in here and.." Loner wiggles his fingers by his head. "I can remember how to do this again." Even his accent is back from the mild Scottish burr to Andrew's heavier Glaswegian patter. "Apparently it's a new quirk of the rooms. Fucking memories change you back to how you were, now." He snorts and leans back into the couch. "Maybe if I spend enough time in here, I can remember how to play out there." He scoots over, making space for Connor on the couch. Indeed, getting closer, Andrew looks a bit wan, like he did when coming off of one of his drug benders. Exactly how he did back then. "I wanted to talk to you about something. Being.. Andrew.. just makes it a bit easier. So maybe it's a good thing."
The Beast pulls away from the wall and walks over toward the couch. "That would be brilliant, if you could learn something in here and then do it out there.. maybe even I could learn how to play." He chuckles a bit, clearly joking. Connor never had any musical talent at all, but that never seemed to bother him. He was more than content to just listen to Andrew. He had his own talents. He settles down onto the couch and puts his feet up on the coffee table, slumping comfortably and folding his hands on his stomach, just looking around the place for a moment and then studying that paleness for a moment. "It really does make us look just like we did, doesn't it?" Then he shakes his head and says, "But, anyway, you wanted to talk about something.." He turns his attention fully to Andrew then, his moments of taking in the new oddities of the anywhere rooms set aside for the moment.
The Loner squints a bit at Connor. "Oh it does." He says. "You never looked that different from Connor in the facility, but.. check a mirror." He lifts the guitar from his lap and sets it on the floor, leaning it against the couch's armrest. "Have you noticed that we get more time now. If we survive I mean. I got a year of Julian bouncing around in my bloody head. Not clear, but it's there. Those snapshots, like before the Lodge. But Andrew and Connor never got that. Just half a plane ride." He rubs the back of his neck, eyes flicking from Connor back to the windows.
"I don't know," Connor admits. "I've died all three times since the Island. Is that what happens now? You have memories of after? Caleb mentioned he had memories after Prosperity.." Then he nods and says, "I remember. We were on our way back to Heathrow, but that was only a couple of weeks after the whole thing happened, and then we were back here. We never even made it back to London." He follows Loner's gaze back over toward the windows, and watches the deer outside, as they wander by.
"Yeah, those that survived Prosperity had a year, and I think all of us that made it out of the lodge have the same. I have memories right up to the following summer." Loner sighs and folds his arms across his chest. "Andrew.. I had some things I wanted to tell you once we were back home. But we never made it back home. But those memories are still in my head. I decided on the Island, so I remember them clear as day, not a snapshot like this was." He looks over to Connor, noting him watch the deer. "That's different, too. The deer. They weren't here last time."
The Beast continues to watch the deer outside, though he's clearly paying attention to what Loner is saying, his gaze on the animals, curious, watching their behaviour, perhaps, to note if there's anything unusual or unnatural about it. Then he looks back over to Loner and asks, "What did you want to tell me?" He puts his feet down and pulls hiself up a bit, shifting slightly sideways on the couch so that he can look at him more directly.
"Remember on the beach, when I asked you why you stuck with me for so long?" The longer Loner refers to himself as Andrew the easier it is for him to do it. He looks to Connor, then leans over to press lips to his, hand going to his cheek. It is different than a kiss from Julian, a bit more insistent, quite a bit more confident. He pulls back after a moment. "I wanted to tell you that I thought I was in love with you then. Then I had decided to tell you when we got back home. I was worried to saddle you with my crap. So much fucking crap."
Connor nods, when Andrew asks if he remembers the question on the beach. He remembers everything about the Island, as clearly as if they'd just returned. Maybe not the time before or after as clearly, but those moments, he does. He leans in to meet the kiss, resting one hand on Loner's knee as they bridge the distance between them. He doesn't draw back far, just enough so that he can find Loner's eyes. He listens, and then leans in to kiss him again, this one lasting a little bit longer before it breaks. "I loved you too. Crap and all. I really wanted you to find that place, where you were happy, where you could take a break, and do some solo work. I wanted to be there with you, to watch out for you, but also just to be with you."
"This was the place I wanted to buy." Andrew leans back after the second kiss. "You taking care of me here was the first time I realized my feelings. Fuck, I'm not going to lie. I liked looking at you before then, but.. it was different afterwards." He lays down, putting his head in Connor's lap, shifting so he can look up at him, legs dangling over the armrest. "I wanted you to know. Julian wasn't the first time I was in love with you."
Connor shifts a little bit back so that Loner can rest his head in his lap. He lets one hand fall into his hair, and strokes his fingers through it gently. He smiles a little and says, "I liked this place. Mostly I liked it because we were alone here most of the time." His fingers pause in their stroking and he says, "And Marc wasn't the first time I was in love with you." He's quiet for a time, just looking down at Andrew. "I just never knew how to tell you, or if I should."
"Curse of this place. Never remembering beyond those lives until we get back." Andrew seems content to lay there, hands folded together on top of his chest. "I want to promise you something though. If you'll promise the same to me." His eyes flick upwards, steady on Connor. "I can't say we'll always be together in those lives. Or that we won't love other people in them. Hell, way things go we could end up brothers at some point." He laughs and shakes his head. "But when we come back here. I want us to promise each other we'll come back to this cabin at least once each time we find ourselves here and just.. be with each other."
The Beast's fingers continue their idle drift through Andrew's hair, content to just be ther with him. He nods and says, "We can't promise anything about lives we have no control over, no memories to tell us who we are to one another, even though I'm still going to try, whether it's possible or not.. to find you in each one." He lets out a little bit of a chuckle and says, "Matthew and I /were/ brothers in Prosperity." So he's already been through that strangeness. But then his expression grows a little more serious and he says, "When we come back here, then I promise, we'll come back to this cabin and be together. I want to be with you."
"Good, because with two lives of being in love with you in my head, I'd be a bit upset not having that." Andrew smiles faintly, snuggling deeper into Connor's lap with a soft sigh. "I won't even be upset if you spend time with other people you've loved in those lives. We can't control who we are there, or the memories we come back with. I just want to make sure I have my time with you." He shifts onto his side so he can look out the window again, curling up a little on the couch. "I'm sorry Andrew.. I couldn't tell you, that we couldn't spend our lives together there."
Connor lets Andrew shift, and lets his other hand come to rest on his shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "There's no one else that I've loved," he admits. "I think I could have loved Matthew, if the three of us had made it out together. I think I could have loved both of you in that lifetime. I definitely cared for him. But we never got the opportunity to see what would have happened." He just studies Andrew's profile as he looks out the window. "I won't begrudge you time with others that you've loved, though. I might be a little jealous," he admits with a wry twist of his lips, "but I'll keep that to myself." He shakes his head then and says, "Neither of us knew.. that that was all the time we had, that we were going to end up here. These things happen, when you take for granted that you have time. At least now, we can make what we can of what time we have when we have it."
"Well, I'm not going to say that night we had there wasn't enjoyable. The three of us I mean." Andrew sighs, moving his hand to Connor's thigh. "The only times I've felt love for someone so far, it's been.. well." He squeezes Connor's thigh lightly. "Callum was incapable of love, and Glenn was.. a mess. But I can't rule out what will happen in the future. Hopefully, it's someone we can both learn to at least like. Lucas wouldn't be bad." He laughs softly. "Or Matthew again." He lets out another of his sighs. "But I want you to know, I'll always come back for you here. And I just wanted to know you'd do the same."
"No, there's no telling what will happen in the future," Connor agrees. "It's not something that we decide, really." He sighs, and then nods, a faint chuckle following that. "Caleb's not a bad guy. I've had nothing but respect for him in three lives now." He then says, "We should check on Matthew at some point, see how he's doing." But then his focus turns back to Andrew and says, "I will always come back for you here, too. I promise you that."
The Loner runs his hand back and forth on Connor's leg, nodding his head slowly. "For now, though, I just want to spend an evening here with you. Just.. have the days we didn't get after the island." He closes his eyes, but he humms softly, not falling asleep, but rather just enjoying the moment. "Singer falling in love with their bodyguard. Seems almost cliche, doesn't it?"
"Guy falling in love with the one who rescued him from a life on the streets?" Connor asks with a little bit of a grin. "I don't care if it sounds trite." He seems content to let everything go for the time being, and just focus on having that time that they didn't get to have. "I couldn't wait to get back after that insanity on the island, back to home, the cold, and the damp, and some quiet time alone together."
"Well, it's kind of romantic and adorable in its own way." Andrew scrunches up his nose. "I know, I've refused to.. pick a name. And I really want to know who I am, but I'm fine if you call me Andrew. For you.. I'm happy with that name." He sighs, eyes still following the deer. "He was fucked up and broken. I.. was fucked up and broken. Except when you were around. I felt like everything was the way it was supposed to be, when it was just you and me."
Connor lets his hand slip from Andrew's shoulder to his back, just rubbing it lightly, between his shoulderblades and down along his spine, in slow circles, as he watches the deer as well, with a less critical eye now -- just enjoying their presence. "I'll call you Andrew, then," he agrees, "Until you find your real name, and then I'll call you that." He's always respected Loner's desire to know who he really is. "We can figure all of that out when it comes." He says, "We were both a little bit broken, but at least we were broken in ways that suited each other."
Andrew stretches out as Connor rubs his back. After a moment he pushes himself up, sitting next to Connor, though leaning in to rest head on shoulder. "You weren't broken. Not to me." He reaches out to take Connor's hand in his, turning to kiss his shoudler. "And I love you, but I was not a little broken. I was a lot broken. You just were very good at keeping me together. And alive."
Connor shifts a little to lean against Andrew in turn, resting his cheek against the top of Andrew's head. He smiles a little wryly and says, "Okay, you were a lot broken, but you were less so when we were together, and I guess I hoped that, maybe I could help, find a way for you to find someplace, doing something, that would let you be happier more often, less strung out, less stressed." He says gently, "I'd be a very bad bodyguard if I didn't keep you alive," with a bit of a grin.
"I would have been, I think. If we got back here." Andrew runs his thumb along the back of Connor's hand. "That was the decision I made before we left. End the band, launch a solo thing. Less touring, just writing the music, recording it. I had enough money I could have done that. Ask you to be my partner rather than my bodyguard. Buy this place and just live in peace." He sighs softly again, closing his eyes. "I think it would have worked, too."
"I think you would have done better in smaller venues, doing a solo thing, but perhaps doing small tours, limited engagements, intimate spces, with plenty of down time in between. Doing it the way that it's done with the band.. it just took too much out of you," Connor says as he gives Andrw's hand a small squeeze. "I would have said yes if you'd asked, or I would have stayed with you as your bodyguard if you didn't. It would have made me happy just to see you here."
"Bodyguard for a touring rockstar is one thing. Being here with some musician who didn't really need protecting on a daily basis when not on tour is different." Andrew lifts his head to look at Connor with a sigh. "I wanted this to be your home, our home. Seemed the natural next step between us. I'm sure you had things you wanted to pursue, and you could have done that, too. Instead of needing to worry about me all the time."
"Do you think I would have stopped worrying about you all the time?" Connor asks with a little bit of a chuckle. "I'm afraid that would be a constant, whether or not I was your bodyguard." He turns to look at Andrew and says, "And it would have been, my home, with you." He reaches out with his other hand and lightly traces the line of Andrew's jaw, down along the side of his neck. "So now it is. As much as we have a home anywhere.. this will be my home with you. And maybe I'll take up a hobby now that I don't need to make sure stage rigging isn't going to fall on you, and there are probably a lot fewer fans who are going to track us down here.." more like zero.
"I wonder how far this place goes?" Andrew says, squinting at the window. "As I recall, the pub in town was pretty good." He laughs softly. "I mean, even if it's only spending a day or two with you here every time we come back, it'll be worth the coming back." He sits up straighter with a shake of his head. "It'll be like having a life outside of that.. place that's all our own."
Connor glances out the window and says, "Maybe there will be people at it, now. I remember last time we didn't go because there wouldn't be anyone there. At least we could grab a pint and feel normal for a little while." He straightens a bit when Andrew does and says, "I will take whatever time we have. And however far we can go in here. Even if it's just this small cabin, that's enough for me."
"Maybe." Andrew leans forward and grabs up his tea from where it was sitting, but one sip makes him wrinkle his nose. "Ech, cold." He gets to his feet. "Want a cup? I'm going to make fresh." He leans over to kiss Connor's forehead before stepping in the direction of the kitchen. Seemingly content with those words spoken by Connor. "There's cake in the fridge, too. There's always cake in the fridge, here."
Connor chuckles at the reaction to the cold tea and says, "You always make the tea and then forget to drink it." He accepts the kiss to his forehead, and gives Andrew's hand one last squeeze before letting him go as he heads off toward the kitchen. Connor remains where he sits, just taking in the room, and the deer outside one more time before he pulls himself up to follow, "Tea sounds good." Then he laughs, "Of course there is. Spice cake, no doubt." When they reach the kitchen, he goes and gets the cake out of the fridge, as well as two forks, and sets it down on the counter while Andrew makes tea. He just peels back the covering and he sticks a fork in, pulling free a bite, and then offering it over to Andrew.
"And I always will." Andrew states with a shake of his head. "Maybe it won't be so bad to be called Andrew." He fills the kettle and sets it on the stove, flicking on the burner. "I don't accept that it's my real name, but.. Coming back from being Julian..." He dumps his tea in the sink and digs a pair of fresh tea bags and a second mug out of the cabinet. "Having what Julian and Marc did, it made me think of Andrew and Connor, of us." He walks over to take the offered bite of cake with a smile, resting his hand on Connor's shoulder. "It felt right. It felt right in a way nothing else has."
Connor can't help but chuckle, "So much wasted tea. May as well dump it into a harbor or something." He says, "You know I don't know that Connor is mine either, right? I just.. it's the one that feels most like me, and it's the one that I'm choosing to represent who I am here, now, until I find out more." He slides an arm around Andrew when he comes over and takes the bite, pulling him in closer. "Despite dying again and again, none of it hurt the way that it did when I woke up back here, having lost what Julian and Marc had."
"You're the fucking Englishman, dumping tea in a harbor doesn't bother me. I gotta stand with my countrymen and aprove of anything that puts the English's backs up." Andrew laughs a bit as he's pulled in closer. "I'll give you a pass." He's certainly cheerier than he's been in a long time. Or Andrew ever was. But maybe that's what having what he wanted after the island does to him. "Julian.." He frowns slightly. "He was broken after the lodge. He lost a brother, a friend, his love.. I think he suffered more than Andrew ever did, and yet.." He presses his lips together. "He somehow carried on. Pulled himself back up and kept living. Never gave in like.." He rubs his arms, some of the track marksfaintly visible, confirming that it is Andrew, as he's only ever sported those then. "He was a tough little shit."
Connor's lips twitch with amusement. He was the one who made the joke, after all. "Will you?" he asks, "Give me a pass for being an Englishman? I'm fortunate, I suppose, then." There's a smile on his lips that Connor rarely wore, but Connor spent a lot of time being serious and careful, and watchful, because he had to be. There were flashes of humor here and there, but none quiet like now. He seems, less restless, more relaxed. His expression falls a little, remembering Julian's pain. "I should have been there with him, with you," he says once more, quietly, and he glances down at the marks on Andrew's arms. He reaches for one arm, running his thumb lightly over the marks, "At least I was here for you." He lifts his gaze then and leans in to steal another kiss from him, this one slow, and soft, and only parting reluctantly.
"You'll need it. We're in Scotland. Don't need you getting your skull split at the pub, I'll have to vouch for you." Andrew chuckles softly, teasing Connor a bit. "You were, in a way. He thought about Marc a lot in that year, what Marc would do in any given situation. It got him through a lot." He sighs as he looks at his arm in Connor's hand. Only being distracted by the kiss pressed to his lips, hand drifting up to the back of Connor's neck. "Andrew needed you more. So I'm glad we made it out together."
"True, I'm going to need you to be my bodyguard around here," Connor laughs, "I guess we'll just have to look out for each other, now." He doesn't seem to mind the thought of that at all. There's a sadness that comes over his expression, thinking of Julian again, but he nods, glad at least, that he'd made it through. It's clear, though, how very much he wanted to be there with him. He rests his forehead against Andrew's and says, "And I've needed you. So I'm glad we're here now, together."
"Well.. we'll see what the next lives hold in store for us." Andrew chuckles uneasily but is cut off by the sound of the kettle whistling behind him. He breaks away from Connor to go prepare the two cups of tea, knowing at least how Connor likes his. He brings the pair of mugs over to the table and sets one down by Connor, placing the other in front of himself as he takes a seat. "And this is always a little something only you and I will have. I wonder if we fall asleep upstairs if it will let us linger a little longer."
"Yeah, we'll see," Connor says with a sigh. He definitely doesn't seem enthusiastic about that, but for the moment, he doesn't want to think about it. He brings the cake over to the table while Andrew gets the tea. Once settled there, he pokes a fork into the cake and takes a bite, himself, before saying, "Well.. maybe we can go upstairs later and find out. Even if I can only fall asleep with you, and not wake up with you.. we can always come back here."