LPfiction

Category Linkin Park

3. Forever by lpfan503

Daffodils and Lilies

A/N: Welcome. :)


Within the next ten chapters lies the answer to the question, “how exactly did forever turn out for Mike and Chester?”


So… I hope you can follow this. It’s a mix of present day and memories, both Mike and Chester’s. I guess it’s flashbacks? But not really, since you will see both sides of the memory - kind of like a narration of their combined recollection of the story being told. If it’s a hot mess and you can’t follow, let me know. It makes sense in my head, but that doesn’t mean anything. I’ll restructure the whole story if this isn’t working. <3


**********


“Have you thought about it, love?”


Chester reached a hand toward Mike, gently brushing his silver streaked hair away from his forehead, smiling into his husband’s dark eyes. “I have, Mikey. Don’t you worry. Everything will be exactly the way you want it. And I won’t leave you alone for long.”


Mike nodded, letting his eyes close with the thought, I’m so tired. I’m tired of being tired. “I love you, Ches. I want you to know, I wouldn’t change a moment with you,” he whispered.


There were tears in his eyes that Chester couldn’t let Mike see. He rested his forehead on the bed and took a deep breath, fighting back the emotions that were threatening to take his voice. He turned his face out of the blanket enough to say, “me either. Not a single one. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Every bit of it, even if it brought us right back here. You’re my whole life, Mike Shinoda.” He felt Mike’s hand move, felt it land on his shaved head with the touch of a butterfly.


“And you’re mine. My life,” Mike breathed, his fingertips caressing over Chester’s velvety hair for mere seconds before the fatigue became overwhelming. “Stay,” he whispered.


“I’m not going anywhere,” Chester responded simply, lifting his head to slide his eyes over Mike’s familiar face, recognizing the moment his soulmate slipped back into sleep again, leaving him alone on the other side of consciousness.


**


The windows in the bedroom were open, the sheer white gossamer curtains blowing gently in the early morning breeze as Mike Shinoda sat quietly in his corner chair. He could hear his pencil scratching the paper as he sketched absently, a scene unfolding on the paper in front of him. Even though he’d always turned to art when he couldn’t sleep, or to relieve his stress and anxiety, it wasn’t doing much calm his mind at the moment.


The small antique bronze lamp that sat on the table between his and Chester’s chairs only illuminated the room in the faintest glow, but it was enough light for him to see his husband sprawled out on the white bedsheets. They matched the soft gray blankets in the dim lighting, but Mike’s practiced eye differentiated between the shades of white and gray easily, and he added more or less pressure to his pencil to perfectly replicate the scene in front of him.


Maybe I should do another art show. A whole gallery of pictures of Chester. The idea rolled around in his head for a moment. I only have decades of material to choose from. I’d need a whole floor, just for him.


He looked up as Chester stretched languidly in his sleep, then rolled over and grew still again, and a fond smile touched his lips. I wish I could sleep like that. Totally unconscious. Peaceful.


As if to contradict his thoughts, Chester smoothed a hand over the empty mattress in front of him, then called out sleepily, “Mikey?”


The sound of Chester’s voice was all it took for Mike to quickly abandon his sketchbook and robe in his chair and slide into bed, pulling Chester’s warm body against him and whispering, “I’m here, love.” Mike felt Chester melt against him, and he nuzzled his face into Chester’s hair, pressing a gentle kiss to the top of his head.


“What time is it?” Chester mumbled, his arms sliding around Mike with familiar ease.


“Early,” Mike murmured softly. “It’s still dark out. Go back to sleep, I’m right here.”


“You never sleep anymore,” Chester complained softly, squeezing Mike close.


It was true. Mike had been having a hard time sleeping for months, a restless feeling keeping him awake when he should have been able to turn his mind off. There was an energy that wouldn’t let him rest, and so far he hadn’t found a suitable outlet for that energy. “Sorry, love,” he whispered, “I don’t mean to keep you awake.”


Chester sighed, burrowing closer to Mike’s bare chest. “You’ve got to stop thinking about it.” He sounded only slightly more coherent than he had just moments earlier.


“I know.” Mike closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. He pulled the scent of Chester’s lavender body wash into his lungs and exhaled, willing himself to relax. He knew Chester was right. Obsessing over the past, over decisions made, wasn’t helping anything. He felt Chester’s lips against his chest and rubbed his hand down Chester’s back. “Go back to sleep. I’ll stay in bed, I promise.”


“Mmm-hmm,” Chester hummed in response, and he felt his thoughts slipping back into sleep.


Somehow the sound of Chester’s breathing, the warmth of his body, managed to lull Mike to sleep just as the sun was rising. Just a few weeks ago Chester had finally brought up his concerns about Mike’s irregular sleeping patterns, and this day, when he woke just before eight, he wasn’t surprised to see his husband completely knocked out next to him.


He lay looking at Mike for a few minutes while his mind shed the residual fuzziness from being asleep all night. He’d always loved the way Mike’s jet black hair and darker features looked against a white pillowcase, even more so now that there was an occasional glittering strand of silver in his locks or his beard. One of the things they frequently laughed about was their obsession with white sheets. They were normal and comforting, and after years and years of sleeping on white hotel sheets, neither of them could imagine having anything else.


He’s finally asleep. I wonder how long he’ll sleep this time. I feel like I hardly see him in the mornings anymore. I can’t think of the last time we had coffee together. I miss watching him wake up over his first cup. The way he rubs his eyes with his whole hand, and the little yawns and smiles. Chester stretched and turned over, grabbing his phone off the charger and checking the time. I bet he’ll sleep until noon. I’m not going to bother him. I’ve got stuff to do anyway. A full out grin passed over his face as he thought about the surprises this day had in store for his husband. He’d been working on his surprise for over a month, and planning something with the added challenge of not slipping up and giving it away had been thrilling.


Keeping it a secret from Mike had been easier than he originally thought. His husband hadn’t been as attentive to what was happening around him as he usually was, which was currently working to Chester’s advantage. He’d been immersed in his art lately, and Chester was glad Mike had something to keep his mind occupied, but it clearly wasn’t enough to wear him out during the day. They still lay down together each night, but Chester knew once he fell asleep Mike was getting out of bed. He woken up more than once without Mike by his side, where he’d slept for years.


It seemed as though each night were different. Maybe Mike painted, maybe he sketched, and Chester would find him still working when he woke up. Sometimes Chester awoke and the entire downstairs had been dusted, even though they had a housekeeper. Once he’d woken to the smell of a freshly baked apple pie, and the two of them had eaten pie in bed for breakfast and then swapped blow jobs - and Chester decided right then and there that the combination of warm pastries and oral sex was truly a great way to wake up.


All of that was before Mike’s sleepless nights started to worry him, before Mike started to sleep during the daytime.


Chester remembered the days he used to sleep when the sun was up, and he was still in denial that Mike - his Mike - his touchstone, his strength, his savior, was struggling. That denial was the reason he was so sure his surprise plan would be a catalyst, a push in the direction of making things right again. He couldn’t go back and undo what had been done, but he wanted to make things better. They still had too much life ahead of them to spend it on opposite sleep schedules and longing for the past.


**


“Ches?”


Chester sat upright suddenly, his back aching from the position he’d fallen asleep in. “What is it?” he asked, his brain instantly on alert at the sound of Mike’s voice.


“Love… come lay with me?” Mike asked, his voice low and needy. He let his eyes drift across the room to the open windows, and a smile touched his lips. “I was dreaming about you.”


“Oh, you were?” Chester said as he got up and rounded the bed, carefully crawling in on his side and laying as close as he dared to Mike. “Is this okay?” He searched Mike’s eyes for any sign of pain, but his husband looked more alert than he had in days, his eyes sparkling.


“You’re fine.” Mike smiled as Chester lay a slender hand on his chest, right over his heart. “I was dreaming about this room. I think it might have been a special day, an anniversary day, or something. I was drawing you, and the windows were open, like you have them now. You blindfolded me.”


“I remember that,” Chester nodded with a grin, the memory flashing through his mind before he pulled the blankets tighter around Mike’s shoulders.


“Tell that story, Chester. Tell me about it again.”


Mike’s dark eyes were pleading, and Chester would do anything, tell any story Mike wanted if it would make him happy. “You were whiney in the car,” Chester giggled softly, remembering. “For once, I actually surprised you.”


“Mmm-hmm,” Mike mumbled as he shut his eyes. “I’m listening. Tell me.”


**


“Ches, you know it drives me crazy to be blindfolded, and being blindfolded in the car is a million times worse than when you do it in bed. I’m thinking through every turn you’ve made, and I know we’re close to the coast. I can only assume Santa Monica.” Mike twisted his hands together in his lap, fidgeting restlessly with his fingers in the absence of something else to occupy his always active mind as Chester’s light laughter hit his ears.


“I can’t tell you,” Chester nearly sang, his voice pitched with excitement. “Stop trying to ruin the surprise, Mikey. Let me enjoy the fact that I have finally managed to be a step ahead of you on something.”


“A step ahead?” Mike’s thoughts were methodically ticking through scenarios that might be applicable to the situation he found himself in currently, but he couldn’t figure out what his husband was up to, even though he felt he knew Chester better than he knew himself.


He could easily picture Chester in his mind. Every angle and curve, every long line of his body. Each and every tattoo, and he could mix from memory any type of media - oil, acrylic, watercolor - to paint those tattoos in their exact colors. He knew from touch and sight every definition in the abs Chester still worked on every day in their home gym. There was an endless supply of gauges and plugs his husband wore in his ears, and Mike could picture each and every pair. He knew the shape of his head and the texture of his hair, especially now that it was shaved again. Mike knew Chester’s body intimately, and while his eyesight was stolen from him, he painted pictures in his mind.


“One whole step,” Chester confirmed, chuckling again. “I have to say, though, it was way too easy to get you to agree to wear that blindfold.”


“Well, it’s been a while since we used it,” Mike complained lightly. “Here I was thinking you were gonna blindfold and ravish me, and you took me out and dumped me in the car. What a buzz kill,” he teased.


Chester smirked. “Sorry. Sometimes I just have to trick you to get what I want.” Chester smoothly pulled his Mercedes into a parking spot, and he saw Mike shift forward in his seat as he felt the movement stop.


“Can I take it off?” Mike asked, lifting his hand up toward his face. He laughed as Chester swatted his hand away.


“No! Wait a second. And don’t touch that blindfold.” Mike heard Chester get out of the car, and in record time he was opening the passenger door. “Here, take my hand and I’ll help you out,” Chester said, grabbing for Mike’s hand. “No cheating.”


All of Mike’s teeth were on display as he smiled wide. “Never. I’d never ruin your surprise. Whatever it is, Ches, I can tell you’re excited. You have that sound in your voice.” He let himself be helped from the car, and he heard traffic in front of them. “I love your voice. I’ve always loved your voice,” he added tenderly.


“Sometimes I think that’s all you want me for, is my voice,” Chester teased. He knew that Mike would know he was only joking, even though it had been a sore subject between them years ago. Once they both finally admitted their feelings for each other, and once they were both very secure in their commitment to each other, it had become a running joke. “And hell yeah, I’m excited.” He shut the car door behind Mike and listened for the automatic beep indicating that the Mercedes had locked itself. Satisfied, he put his arms around Mike and stood behind him. “Are they still closed, Shinoda?” Chester husked in Mike’s ear, pleased when his husband nodded without saying a word. “You ready?” Mike nodded again, and Chester reached up to loosen the knot on his makeshift blindfold.


Mike eagerly opened his eyes, and found himself looking directly at a building across the street from where Chester had parked the car. It was black, with white windows and awnings, a red door, and he could see a second floor terrace. It wasn’t big, but it looked posh even at a distance, and Mike cut his eyes over to Chester, who was grinning ear to ear.


“I have no idea what this place is,” Mike said, waving a hand across the street at the building, still in the dark about Chester’s big surprise.


“Well, let’s get you over there and find out. I didn’t want to cross the street with you blindfolded, or I’d have waited to take it off until we got inside. But, this will work. Come on, Mikey.” Chester grabbed for Mike’s hand, tugging him along behind him. “I promise, it’s worth it.”


They crossed the street, Mike still trying to figure out what Chester had planned, and they were inside the red first floor door and he was reading the hostess stand sign before it started to dawn on him what was happening. “Venue 66,” he read slowly, just as he was confronted with a framed picture of himself with Chester. It was from their honeymoon, their smiles bright, the crystal ocean and lush greenery of Maui behind them. “Chester, our anniversary is still a week away!” he protested with a grin as he realized what was happening.


“Surprise, Mikey.” Chester wrapped his arm around Mike’s waist and pulled him in close to him, nuzzling a kiss right behind his ear as he flung his free arm out. “Look around, the whole place is ours for the night.”


Mike did as he was told, scanning the intimate space that appeared to be set for a fancy dinner, white linens on the table and silver chargers with napkins and menus at each place setting. The center of the table was full of rustic aluminum buckets, filled with daffodils, lilies, and greenery, and Mike scrunched his nose playfully at the combination. “Ok, Ches. What’s the deal with the flowers,” he teased. “That’s a very untraditional combination you’ve got going on there. And it looks like we’re expecting others?”


“All the guys, their partners, Jim and his wife, Ryan and Amir and their wives, Trish and Dan, and Tal and Maro.” Chester ticked the list off with his fingers and flashed a grin, then paused for a minute as Mike dropped his hand to step forward and look at all of the pictures he’d brought in for the hostess stand display. There was the first ever picture of the band, and Chester couldn’t remember but thought it was taken in 1998. There were snapshots of every conceivable style change he and Mike had gone through over the years - their baggy clothes and dyed hair, piercings and bracelets, all the way to Mike’s flannels and Chester’s bold print shirts. There were pictures from award shows, pictures of the two of them with their first Grammy. Pictures of the two of them with their newest Grammy just a few years ago. Pictures of their wedding, pictures in the studio, pictures from vacations and tours.


Mike reached out to pick up a picture from Linkin Park’s last ever show together. Chester watched silently as Mike carefully ran his finger down the side of frame and inspected it, almost reverently. He could tell just from the expression on Mike’s face that he was thinking about it again. He’s wondering if we made a mistake. I shouldn’t have put that one here. I was right. That’s what’s been on his mind so much lately.


“Hey,” he said quietly, tugging on the sleeve of Mike’s deep purple dress shirt, “I didn’t mean for that one to upset you.” He held his breath as Mike turned to focus his dark eyes on him.


“I’m not upset. You know how I get about it. I still can’t believe you don’t miss it.” Mike looked down at the picture in his hand again before he placed it back with the others. “But you were right, love. It was time,” he forced himself to say. At the time Linkin Park decided to end their touring career after twenty-five years, Mike really thought that they would keep making music, that going into the studio and making an album would be something the six of them wouldn’t be able to stay way from for very long. But as the weeks slid into months and the months turned into years, Mike was forced to realize that his bandmates were enjoying the new phase of their lives. They were all busy being husbands and fathers, and their children were all growing up.


It had been a mutual decision, just like every decision Linkin Park ever made - and everyone but Mike seemed to have adjusted to their new reality.


Chester nodded, not quite sure that Mike really believed what he was saying, but determined not to start a conversation they couldn’t finish before the others arrived. Selfishly, he didn’t want it to detract from what he had planned either. In fact, he was trying very hard to get Mike’s mind off what they no longer had, and focus it on what they now had together. Their life the way they’d dreamed, the life they’d planned together before they ever knew it could be a reality. He wanted this night to remind Mike of everything they had gained together, and as he started to remind him, to tick those things off a list, Mike turned to Chester and took his hands.


“I love you,” he husked with a smile. “I can’t believe you planned all of this. And I thought I was going to surprise you next Thursday.” Mike rubbed his thumbs over the backs of Chester’s hands. “Thank you for planning this for us. I already think it’s fantastic.”


“I love you, too.” Chester leaned close, pressing a soft kiss to Mike’s parted lips. “Oh! You asked about the flowers… you’ll probably think it’s stupid…” Chester felt a sudden pang of uncertainty as he glanced over at the centerpieces he’d insisted upon. He wasn’t entirely sure the symbolism was as meaningful as it seemed in his head.


“Really, love? After all this time, you think there’s anything you can do that I would find stupid?” Mike rolled his eyes and pulled Chester closer. “Just tell me. Don’t make me guess. All the suspense of the drive over about did me in, you know.”


With a sassy smile, Chester asked, “well, you know about, like, ‘traditional anniversary presents’, right?”


“You mean, like paper for the first anniversary, and so on?” Mike looked around, but he wasn’t making the connection just yet. “What about them?”


“There’s flowers to go with them. And the ten-year anniversary flower is the daffodil.”


Mike couldn’t hold back the amused snort. “Really? A Daffodil? That’s so… random!”


“I know,” Chester agreed, grinning at the sound of Mike’s laugh. They had always been that way, and once they started down the path of entertaining each other, it was hard to stop. He could feel the joy resonating in his body from seeing Mike’s smile. “I kept looking at the little chart, at each flower that’s been assigned to a milestone year, and the thirty year anniversary is the lily. So I thought, why not both? I know to everyone else, this is ten years of marriage for us. But we both know it’s a different sort of anniversary. If you want to break it all down, to be real about it, this year is thirty years for us, Mikey. Thirty.” His eyes glittered with amusement as Mike stared at him.


Thirty years. I’ll never understand how time can go by so quickly. Mike looked at his husband, a wave of nostalgia and longing crashing over him. It’s Chester. It’s gone by so fast because of him. And we’re in our fifties… we could potentially have less years left than we’ve already shared. He shook away the distressing thought and leaned in to take Chester’s mouth again in a sweet kiss. “I love all of it,” Mike murmured against his lips before he pressed in, again, sucking Chester’s bottom lip into his mouth the way he’d been doing for years, the way he knew made his husband’s knees weak. One thing that hadn’t changed in ten years was the love he had for kissing Chester. His Chester. After ten years of marriage, there were still days that it didn’t seem real.


He pulled back, the separation of their lips making a soft, wet sound, and gently pushed Chester’s glasses up for him. “You’re such a romantic. Daffodils and lilies, such a unlikely pair.”


“I’d say that about us, but everyone seemed to know before we did,” Chester mused, dragging his fingers down the front of Mike’s shirt as he stepped back. “You ready to celebrate the fuck out of this evening, love?”


“Let’s do it,” Mike said, lacing their fingers together again, turning toward the door as the first of their guests arrived. He was looking forward to an evening with everyone back together again.


**


“There was karaoke,” Mike said, his eyes opening a little, catching Chester off guard.


“There was,” he confirmed, “and I think you sang more than I did that night.”


“Your voice… you were tired.” Mike focused his eyes on Chester, his gaze serious. “You were right, you know. When it was time to stop. I never told you that, love. When we ended… when your voice was tired… it was hard for me to understand. I’m sorry if I took it out on you.”


“Shhh,” Chester hushed, shaking his head a little. “You don’t have to…”


“I want to. I don’t know if there will be anything beyond this, Ches. I don’t want anything left unsaid between us.” Slowly Mike reached his finger toward Chester’s bottom lip, feeling the tremble as he touched him. “Even though you know. You’ve always known me.”


“And you’ve always known me,” Chester affirmed, kissing Mike’s fingerprint.


“Please,” Mike begged softly, “come here, Ches. Kiss me.”


Chester inched his way over, his hand coming up to cup Mike’s cheek, his thumb stroking over the salt and pepper facial hair he loved. “I love you,” he breathed, gently brushing his lips across Mike’s, light as the sheer gossamer curtains blowing at the windows.


He felt Mike’s fingers curl under his chin, urging him closer, and Chester allowed the kiss to deepen on Mike’s terms, being careful not to press in too hard.


“You’re afraid to hurt me,” Mike murmured, pulling back just enough to speak, his lips grazing over Chester’s. “I don’t hurt, Ches. I’m just tired. Kiss me like you mean it. Kiss me like the room is covered in daffodils and lilies, like we’ve got all time in the world.”


Chester’s hand slid down to grip Mike’s pajama shirt in his hand, twisting the fabric as his heart twisted in his ribcage. All the time in the world. I wish we had all the time in the world.


**********


A/N # 2 - A RESPONSE TO YOUR REVIEWS/EMAILS


This doesn't pick up where Confession left off. We're way in the future. Like, Mike and Ches are nearing 70. They have lived a lot of life together, and clearly very happily based on how close they are right now. It took me a while to get this posted because 'forever' is a long time. It would be impossible to tell a linear story and cover 30 years of their lives. Secrets covered 10 years and it was a struggle.


I promise you that almost everything in this story will be good memories between them. Life happens and it's hard, of course, and the reality is that we don't live forever. You guys have trusted me this far with this story and this Mike and Chester. 400,000 words of these two. Trust me when I say that this might get emotional toward the end, but the goal is to show their life and their marriage, not to make you unhappy. Of course I understand if this isn't what you wanted/expected... but this is the route I've chosen, so I hope you'll come along. <3


****


TBC

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