Category Linkin Park

Wait For Dawn by hearts.on.fire

Never Going To Get Any Easier

A/N: So. This is my first fic in… 14 years? Some of my old stuff is actually here. But no way am I owning up to that. Even my username was awful. Ah, to be young and stupid. Anyway, I’m so excited! But I’m also terrified. I have the first three chapters done and the whole thing loosely planned out and I’m really passionate about this story. There is going to be some tough subject matter in this one. But I really hope you stick it out with me. I would love to hear any of your thoughts and feedback. If there’s anything you think I can improve on, please, please leave me a review and let me know. And with that said, here we go. Enjoy!

Chapter 1 – Never Going To Get Any Easier

July 22, 2016

“Okay. Can you try the last part again? It just needs a little more. Start at the bridge going into the third chorus.”

I nod my head and look out from the recording booth. I see the flicker of the candles and the string of red lights that hang on the ceiling of the booth reflect in the glass in front of me. I glance around the now familiar studio space of Sphere Studios. The back wall of the room in front of me is covered in plush, dark green tufted fabric. Mike and Brad are sitting at the desk that faces the recording booth, lined up behind all their recording equipment like it’s their fortress. Brad’s leaning back in his chair with his arms behind his head, calm, collected. Mike on other hand… Mike’s got a pen in his hands and he keeps running his thumb frantically over the small metal clip. His forehead is slightly scrunched, showing wrinkles that weren’t there five years ago. His mouth is drawn tight leaving his expression serious and intense. I can tell he’s getting stressed. We’re getting closer to deadlines for this album and things haven’t been coming together as quickly as he would like. I can practically see the wheels turning in Mike’s head as I look into his onyx eyes. He looks up from the desk and makes eyes contact with me. His eyes immediately warm and a little smile comes over his face. My heart melts a little.

I hear the track start again through my headphones. I take a deep breath and nod my head along to the rhythm. I place my hands up against my headphones and wait for the right beat. I lean forward towards the mic and open my mouth, trying my best to give the lyrics more emotion. “If I fall, get knocked down, pick myself up off the ground.” Before I can move onto the next line the track stops and I hear Mike through my headphones. “Try to really punch those last words. If I fall, get knocked down.” He says, clicking his pen at the words fall and down. Brad nods, leaning forward to press the talk button and says “Think like, old school Chester. Give it some fire.”

I laugh. “Yeah that’s the problem. I’m too fucking old for this. I’m not 25 anymore ya know. This isn’t as easy as it used to be.”

I see Mike grin at me and shake his head. “You’ve got this. Try it again.”

I hear the track start up again and get myself together. I start the bridge again, pulling air deep from my lungs and clenching my fists as I bounce to the rhythm. I see Mike giving me a thumbs up when I sing the first two lines. My lips pull up into a smile as I move through the bridge and into the chorus. My eyes close as I finish the last two lines of the song. “For my battle symphony, for my battle symphony.” The track comes to an end and I look up to both Brad and Mike nodding their heads.

“Okay Chester, that was it. We’ll run it again later.” Mike says. I take my headphones off and set them on the stool beside me. I walk out of the booth and come to sit in the empty seat beside Brad. Mike pushes a bottle of water toward me and I take a long swig from it.

Immediately Brad and Mike are off in their own little world talking about the drums for the track. I take the time to pull out my phone and pull up Instagram. I scroll through my feed, smiling every once in awhile as I catch Mike’s movements out of the side of my eye. He always gets so animated when he’s talking to Brad about music. I hear Brad crack some joke and my eyes can’t help but flash up when I hear Mike laugh. His laugh is one of the best sounds in the world.

He buries his face in his hands, still chuckling. I watch him run his fingers through his thick dark hair. He looks up at Brad and continues their back and forth banter. He’s got a smile that could light up the whole of California on his face. A small smile creeps onto my face as I put my phone back in my pocket.

I interrupt the teenage like back and forth that’s going on between the two and say “So, does this mean we’re done for the day? You just gonna keep acting like school girls or are we going to get some work done?”

Brad chuckles and clears his throat “We’re actually making good progress. We should be able to finish up most of the vocal tracking by the end of the summer. There’s just still little tweaks to some of the tracks we’ve gotta figure out now that me and the rest of the guy have most of our parts demoed.” Mike nods and thumbs through a stack of papers. He pulls one out of the stack and I see his eyes flash up to me with…hesitation? Embarrassment? Brad sees the paper Mike is looking at.

“Oh, yeah. That’s the biggest one I think we need to work on. How about we go over “One More Light?” Since you’re singing it now instead of Mike there’s a few things we need to change.” Brad says, looking over at me.

My heart drops a little in my chest. I understand Mike’s expression now. We make eye contact and his eyes soften like he’s trying to tell me something without speaking. Not today. I just can’t today. I try to think of something to say to Brad, something casual and flippant. Before I can come up with something, Mike speaks up. “I think we’re good for today. There’s just too much with that one to tackle today.”

Brad nods his head. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. Mike smiles at me and nods subtly.

Brad stands from his chair and stretches his arms over his head. “So, when are Anna and the kids coming back Mike?” I see the brief sinking of Mike’s expression, it lasts just a second. He nervously shifts his eyes towards me. “Umm, they’re flying back on Friday.”

And just like that a huge wave of tension washes over the room. Brad goes from nodding in response to Mike’s response to freezing completely as realization sweeps over him. He suddenly gets very fidgety and quickly grabs his hoodie from the corner of the desk.

“Oh, cool, cool. I’m sure ya’ll have…plans then. Well, I’ve got lots of stuff to do tonight. I promised I’d help Elisa with dinner and Jonah needs help with a science project.” He pulls the hoodie over his head in record time and grabs his cellphone and keys from the desk.

Mike nervously runs his hand through his hair and sheepishly says “You don’t have to rush off. I was thinking about playing some pool and trying to track some more beats a little later.”

Brad shakes his head quickly. “Nah, I’ve gotta go. You guys…have fun.”

I chew at my lip as I make eye contact with Mike. He looks like a little kid who got caught drawing on the walls. Mike says “Well, let me walk you out then.” Brad nods and looks at me with a quick “Bye Chaz. See you later.” I nod at him and he’s out the door before I can even respond. Mike follows him out of the room, looking back at me briefly with a half smile half grimace on his lips.

These last few years have been full of awkward good byes and countless uncomfortable situations. Most of those moments were caused by yours truly. In 2012 when I told the guys Talinda and I were getting divorced, they were all shocked. However, nothing could top the looks on their faces when I came out as bisexual during a random band meeting in 2013. All the guys were supportive of me, just as I expected. But there was definitely a subtle change in my relationship with the band. Over the years since, Mike and I grew closer and…more physical. By this point I’m almost positive everybody knows we’re together. Brad is the only one either Mike or I have ever discussed it with though. Everybody else tries to act oblivious, but they’re all terrible actors. When it does come up somehow, everybody is quick to come up with a laundry list of things that need their immediate attention. I know a huge part of their issue with our relationship is of course Anna. Anna and Mike are still married and as far as anybody knows Anna is unaware of Mike and I’s relationship. My heart speeds up briefly. Call it what it is Chester. Affair. We’re having an affair. I draw in a quick breath as I feel the familiar ball in my chest come to life. I get out of the chair and pace nervously for a minute before walking over to the corner of the room and sinking onto the couch. I try to keep myself from sinking into the feelings of guilt, shame, and sadness.

I hear Mike walk back into the studio but keep my eyes closed. I feel him collapse onto the couch next to me. He snakes his right arm behind my back and pulls me closer to him. He gently lays his head on my shoulder as his left arm drapes across my lap. I can feel his warm breath on my neck and I sigh and let my eyes open slowly. I look over and see his dark eyes staring at me. I smile despite myself and press a gentle kiss to his forehead. I wish it was always like this. I wish we could stay like this forever.

He places a tender kiss to my neck and mumbles into my skin. “So, what do you want to do? Do you want to stick around here? I don’t have to track those beats tonight. We can go home and relax. I think I’ve got leftover Chinese food.” I lay my cheek against the side of his forehead and make some non-committal noise. “I’m not really hungry yet.” I feel him tense next to me and I know I’ve given myself away. He can always tell when something’s bothering me. Half the time he knows before I do. He pulls away slightly to look at me. “What is it? I’m sorry I said that about the track to Brad. I didn’t mean to answer for you. I just figured after last time you weren’t really up to working on it again.”

I shake my head, memories flashing in front of my eyes of the last time I was working on One More Light. It was just me and Mike that day and we were just getting into tweaking the vocals. There’s just something about that song…. Long story short I ended up having a mini breakdown and Mike had to hold me on the couch while I cried myself out for about fifteen minutes. I remember him saying “I don’t get why this one’s different babe. I mean, I understand it’s a tough subject, but so is almost every other song. What’s different?” I had brushed away the question that day and thankfully we had never got back around to it.

My eyes distinctively flick away from Mike’s, tension making me want to avoid eye contact. I know if I say this out loud what response I’m going to get from him. But I hate holding my feelings back from him. I feel like he’s earned my trust and when I’m not honest it feels almost disrespectful. He’s dealt with enough of my emotional baggage that he has the right to know where my head is.

I squeeze his arm a little before saying “It’s not about the song. Just with Brad…. The way he left so fast. Anytime Anna comes up it just makes me feel awful. It seems like that part is never going to get any easier.” I brace myself for what’s about to happen. Before I had even finished my words, I felt his body tense next to mine. By the time I finished my last sentence he had pulled his arms away from me. I look at him and see a flash of anger in his eyes. His mouth falls into a frown as he takes a deep breath and lets it out through his nose quickly. My arms immediately wrap around myself and I suck my bottom lip into my mouth, nervously chewing at the flesh.

“Really, Chester? It makes you feel awful? What about me? How do you think…” He stops midsentence and quickly stands up. He shakes his head and pulls his finger through his hair. He turns to me and there’s venom in his eyes, the loving expression that was there mere moments ago lost. He opens his mouth to start talking and then closes it again. He lets out an exasperated sigh.

“You know what? I’m not doing this with you. Not again. You knew what you signed up for. You’ve wanted this for, what? Fifteen years? Now you’ve got it and you need to decide if you can handle it or not.” He throws his hands up in the air and takes two steps back.

“I’m just…I’m going for a drive or something. I’ll meet you back at the house later.”

I move forward on the couch and I go to reach out to him. He looks at me, his expression dripping with fury. “No.” He says simply, his words harsh and cold, before turning and walking out of the room.

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