Category Linkin Park

What I Haven't Got by hearts.on.fire

What I Haven't Got

A/N: I hope this finds everyone well. I know the last few days have been hard for me, and maybe for you too. This idea popped in my head a few weeks ago and I couldn’t get it out. So, here we are! I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for reading and please leave a rating and review to let me know what you think!!

What I Haven’t Got

Chester Bennington leaned against the farthest left brick column of his front porch, squinting against the sun to watch his twin girls chase each other around the driveway. His brunette wife ran after them, scooping Lily up into her arms and spinning her around, squeals of laughter rushing out of her. He turned his eye towards the street, the large moving vans obstructing his view. A particularly shrill screech drew his attention back to the driveway.

Talinda squeezed the olive skinned four year old before placing her gently down on the ground and placed a loud kiss on Lily’s cheek before releasing her. Lily immediately took off down the driveway towards her sister, narrowly missing the two movers that were carrying a particularly cumbersome dark oak desk towards the trucks. The two men stumbled a bit, pausing to balance themselves and readjust their grip.

“Careful, Lily!” Talinda called out, but Lily was oblivious as she grasped Lila’s hand, pulling her twin sister towards the lawn where they collapsed onto the grass in a fit of giggles.

Talinda shook her head, a smile across her lips and a brightness in her eyes. She turned towards the porch and caught Chester’s eye. Chester’s lips twitched into an uncomfortable smile. Chester quickly looked away, his expression replaced with a somber emptiness within a second. Her heart sped up a bit as worry coursed through her. She closed her eyes briefly, steadying her nerves with a deep breath before turning her attention back to the twins. It’s going to get better. It’ll be better after the move. He’s going to come around. He just needs a change. Her anxiety left as quickly as it came, her worries put to ease by her declaration.

Chester sighed and walked towards the steps of the porch, the boot on his right leg clunking against the wooden planks awkwardly. He gently lowered himself onto the first step, instinctively maneuvering with his right foot raised off the ground. He shook his head, remembering that he could bare weight on his foot with this new less restrictive boot. After months of having a cast on the leg, it was strange to be able to walk like a normal person. Well, almost normal. The doctor said it would take several weeks still for the extensive breaks in his ankle to heal completely.

Chester chewed at his bottom lip absentmindedly. He felt hollow, numb, unsure of how he felt or how he was supposed to feel as his life was packed away neatly into trucks. It was only six weeks before that Chester had made the sudden decision to move his family back to his hometown of Phoenix. After all that the last few months had brought, the thought of moving “home” gave him a sense of comfort and security. He longed for the desert hills and prayed desperately that the dry quiet heat would wrap around him and take away this feeling that had overcome him. Desperation, hopelessness, confusion. Anger, misery, emptiness. And an overwhelming sense of loneliness above all else. The one thing that his soul seemed to yearn for was teasingly unattainable and the realization had broken him in a way he had never felt before. Phoenix would offer a restart of sorts. He needed the distance to bring him back to his life- to his wife, to his kids. He needed desperately to separate himself from what was pulling his heart away from them. I just need some space, some time away from him. This can’t keep going like this. I know it can’t.

Chester managed to pull himself back to the present and was startled as his wife seemed to appear out of thin air beside him.

“I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to scare ya,” Talinda said with a small smile as she sat down next to her husband on the stairs. A heavy silence filled the space between them and Talinda cleared her throat. “Looks like they’ve almost got everything loaded. I was going to go inside and tear Tyler away from his video game so they can get the last little bit.” Chester nodded vaguely. Talinda frowned. “You okay babe?” she asked, reaching out to put her hand on Chester’s knee.

“Of course. I’m fine, “ he said, automatically trying to make himself look more relaxed, consciously bringing his shoulders back and down and forcing a smile onto his face.

“You sure? You’ve been so distant this week. Are you having doubts about Phoenix? Because I’ll go tell them to put all the furniture back right now,” she said with a grin, hiking her thumb towards the movers. Chester chuckled a little, shaking his head. “Cause I’ll do it. I promise I will. We can rent the house in Phoenix out or something. And the Robertsons’ haven’t closed on this house yet, maybe we could do something about it.”

Chester smiled, putting his hand on Talinda’s. A sharp twinge of guilt shot through him as he looked into the eyes of his selfless, adoring wife. “No, baby. I’m not having doubts. It’s just… I don’t know. It’s kind of weird going back I guess.” His gaze fell away and his fingers ran across the fabric of his jeans nervously.

“I get that. But, I want you to be sure sweetie. I just want you to be happy.” She pulled his hand up to her lips and placed a delicate kiss to his knuckles.

“I’m going to be happy. I promise baby. This is the right choice.” He reached his right hand out and tucked her long black hair behind her ear, his fingers grazing against her jaw “I promise.”

She looked at him, trying to decide if she believed him or not. There was a strangeness in his eyes. Over the last nine years, Talinda had learned to read Chester’s every expression, every twitch of his lip, every scrunch of his forehead, every nervous pull at his plugs. But ever since he broke his ankle, her husband had slowly been replaced with a stranger. It seemed that with every bone that was broken, he too was shattered. and hehad barely managed to glue himself back together.

Talinda knew that Chester felt enormously guilty when his injury had caused the band to cancel their latest tour. Suddenly going from being on stage every night to being practically bed bound had made much more of an impact on the singer than she ever imagined it could. His soul was fueled by the screams of the crowd and his heart was powered by the infectious energy that live shows brought, and when that was ripped away from him by his own body he was devastated.

But he was out of his cast now and he was slowly able to take back his life. Next month the band started back on tour and Chester would be cleared to return to his normal activity level by then. But still, the peculiar emptiness remained in his brown eyes. There had to have been something else, something more that had caused this dramatic change in her husband. She just didn’t know what that was.

The sound of a car on the street pulled both of their attention away from the awkward moment. Chester put his hand over his eyes in an attempt to block the sun reflecting off the metal truck. He heard the turn of wheels and the sound of a vehicle turning into the driveway. He craned his neck to see as Talinda stood up and called for the girls. A dark blue Mercedes SUV pulled into the drive and Chester’s heart skipped a beat. The twins ran onto the steps and squealed with delight when they recognized the SUV.

“Daddy, it’s Uncle Mike!!” Lila said, forcing herself into Chester’s lap and tugging on his arm excitedly. Talinda picked Lily up and waved to Mike as the SUV came to a stop.

“What’s Mike doing here?” Talinda asked casually, fighting to keep Lily in her arms.

“I’m…I don’t know,” Chester said, stumbling over his words.

“I’m gonna take the girls in, make sure they’ve got all their toys packed.”

“Okay,” Chester mumbled as he shifted his position nervously.

“It’s gonna be weird not having the guys just show up, isn’t it?” Talinda said sadly. Chester nodded. “Alright, tell Mike we’ll be back out in a few minutes.”

Talinda closed the front door as Mike’s car door opened. The emcee stepped out dressed in gray shorts and a black t shirt. He looked up to the front porch and smiled at Chester as he shut the car door. He adjusted his baseball cap nervously as he walked up the driveway. Mike was grateful that his sunglasses were covering his eyes. Two hearts sped up as Mike reached the front steps, sitting down beside his frontman.

“Hey man!” Mike said, his voice higher than intended as he patted Chester on the back.

“Hey,” Chester said, sitting up straight then casually slumping back down and resting his chin on his fist before shaking his head and sitting back up with his hands intertwined in his lap. “What’s up?”

Mike took off his sunglasses and placed them beside him on the porch. He chewed nervously on his bottom lip for a second before swallowing hard.

“I just hadn’t heard from you in a while. I’ve tried calling a couple of times. And I’ve texted a few times,” Mike said, trying to keep his voice calm and casual.

“Yeah, sorry…. It’s just been really busy around here. Getting everything ready for the move. Been real busy,” Chester said, running his fingers through his hair and shifting his weight.

“Yeah, I get it,” Mike said, nodding and dismissing Chester’s concerned voice with a wave of his hand. Chester nodded back and looked down, picking up a piece of a leaf and rubbing it in between his fingers. “Yeah,” Mike said again before silence swallowed up the air between the two.

Chester continued to destruct his leaf and Mike took his baseball cap off, running his fingers over his hair before putting it back on. Mike’s heart pounded as the repressive quiet continued.

“Um, I just wanted to see you before you left, I guess. Everything ready to go?”

“Yeah, almost. We should be leaving in an hour or so I think,” Chester said, dropping the shredded remains of the leaf. Mike nodded again.

“How are you doing?” Mike said nervously, making eye contact. Chester stared at him, getting lost in Mike’s onyx eyes, trying to communicate what words couldn’t to him.

“I’m fine,” Chester said, still staring at the other man. Mike paused for a moment, trying to read Chester’s expression. He couldn’t tell what Chester was feeling but he knew damn well Chester wasn’t “fine.” Mike smiled sadly and sighed.

“I’m serious, Mike. I’m alright. You’ve got to stop worrying about me,” Chester said, his gaze finally breaking away. Mike sat in silence, unsure of how to reply. “I mean it Mike. I know that I scared you. I know that I got into a really bad place. And I appreciate you being there for me, I really do. If it wasn’t for you….” Chester let out air quickly through his nose as he tried to find the words he was trying to say. “Well, just, thank you. You….”

“What, Chaz?” Mike whispered.

“I don’t know what would have happened without you. I just couldn’t dig myself out, you know? I couldn’t bring myself back up. I was so lost and so depressed and I just…. Nothing anybody said made me feel better. Except you. I mean, you’ve always been there for me. And I think you’ve always understood me. But this time….” Chester words faded away. This time it was different. This time something changed in me, changed with us.

The week after Chester’s first surgery, he didn’t move from the bed for five days. Not because he couldn’t physically. He had the cast, they showed him how to use the crutches. But with each passing day his mind became darker and darker as his self-doubt and self-hatred sucked him down into the void. He was weak. He was a failure. He wasn’t a real man. He was broken.

Mike had been out of town. He was doing a string of interviews about ending the tour and trying to do damage control. On day six, Talinda couldn’t get Chester to eat or drink. Nothing she said helped him. She sent the kids in to snuggle with him and cheer him up. Chester only snapped at them and screamed for Talinda to come get them. So Talinda called the only person she could think of. Mike. He canceled his remaining interviews and flew home that night.

Over the weeks and months, Mike came over almost every day. On the days when he couldn’t, he would constantly call and text Chester to make sure everything was okay. Mike had seen Chester depressed before, but this was different. It broke Mike’s heart. Chester was usually so boisterous and full of life, but now he was just a shell. Chester blamed himself completely and was convinced that his accident would be the end of the band. Chester poured his heart out, telling Mike every dark and twisted thought that entered his head. Mike always knew exactly what to say, or when to say nothing at all. The bond between Mike and Chester’s relationship had always been strong and unique. But, something shifted during those long days they spent together. Everyday Chester looked forward to Mike’s visit. Sometimes it was the only reason he could find to drag himself out of bed each morning. When Mike left each night, Chester’s heart ached. He missed him, he needed him. The days Mike couldn’t come over, Chester spent his time in bed, watching TV and doing his best to avoid any and all interaction with his family.

Chester could tell something had changed for Mike too. He could see it in his eyes. His gaze would linger just a little too long. His fingers would pause when he accidently brushed up against him. His voice sounded a little too relieved when Chester would answer the phone. His smile was a little brighter each day that he walked in the house. A few times, their feelings would slip out in the middle of conversations. Chester would say how much he missed Mike. Mike would say how he didn’t want to leave. No further words were ever said out loud. Only the desperate searching stares that each hoped said the millions of words they couldn’t.

After several weeks of this routine, Chester started to see the damage that was being done to his family. Talinda had started sleeping in the guest bedroom. The kids never even bothered to tell him hi when they got home from school. He was losing them. He had become too attached to Mike, and whatever these feelings Chester had for him were growing with every day they spent together. Chester cried himself to sleep night after night before he made the decision to move to Phoenix. He didn’t want to lose whatever this feeling was. He felt safe when Mike was with him. But was it worth losing him family?

Mike looked down at his Vans, his hands folding into his lap and his body closing in on itself. There was so much he wanted to tell Chester, but he knew they were walking a very thin line. Any second they could tip their relationship one way or the other and change their lives forever. Mike didn’t know how to define what he felt for Chester. He didn’t know quite how to explain what had changed between the two of them. But, he was certain that Chester felt the same. He saw it in his dark honey eyes. Mike took a quiet breath and glanced up quickly to see Chester looking out into the distance, his lip pulled in between his teeth and his thumb carelessly rubbing along his jawline.

“Chester… I don’t want you to go.” Mike said softly. Chester immediately placed his hand to his chest, the sharp pain that come with Mike’s words surprising him.

“I’ve got to.” Chester said, his eyes suddenly burning and a lump forming in his throat. “And it’s not like we’re never going to see each other. We’ll be back on tour in a couple of weeks and you’ll be sick of me. And we’ll be in the studio before you know it, and everything will be just like it’s always been.”

“I don’t think so.” Mike said, shaking his head. “Stay here. Please.” His adrenaline was pumping through his veins like lightening. What was he saying even trying to stay? Chester glanced around nervously, making sure Talinda was still inside.

“And then what?”

“I don’t know. Just see…see what happens.”

“Mike, come on. You know that sounds crazy!” Chester said, shaking his head. “I’ve got to go, Mikey.”

“Why?” Mike whispered.

“You know why! This has gotten too…. It’s gotten complicated, Mike. I need you too much.” Chester said, shaking his head.

“Well, I need you too Chester!” Mike quickly stood up and turned to face the older man. “I don’t know what this is. And… God, I don’t know. This is going to change everything if you leave Chester.”

“I know, that’s why I have to do it.” Chester stared at Mike, his heart aching at the site of the hopelessness.

Mike sniffed, blinking furiously and quickly running his arm under his nose. What the fuck was wrong with him? This was Chester he was talking about after all. Chester… his bandmate, his best friend. And that should be where their relationship stopped.

“Mikey, it’ll be okay.” Chester reached his hand out and cautiously placed it on Mike’s knee.

“God…” He tilted his head back and squeezed his eyes shut. “Chester, I don’t know why this is so hard for me. It’s like something is ending. But I don’t even know what it is. I feel like I’m losing you, somehow. But, I don’t even have you. “

Mike put his hand on top of Chester’s, lacing their fingers together. He sniffed again and looked over at Chester, their eyes meeting. He squeezed Chester’s hand as his breath caught painfully in his chest.

“Come on, Shinoda. Get it together.” Chester tried with everything he had to sound confident and light hearted. He pulled his hand away from Mike’s as smoothly as he could. “It’s just Phoenix. It’s not like I’m moving to China or something. It’s just a quick plane ride.”

Mike nodded slowly. He looked defeated and lost. His eyes were dull, and his face sunk as Chester took his hand away.

“Come on, Mike.” Chester pleaded. He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t walk away leaving Mike like this. He wouldn’t be able to…. “Please, Mikey.”

Mike could never deny Chester anything. And as he looked at the terror in Chester’s eyes, he knew what he had to do. Mike took a deep breath and forced himself to smile.

“Right, it’s just a plane ride. Things are gonna be fine.” Mike said, standing up and reaching for Chester’s hand. He pulled him up.

“Yeah?” Chester asked, begging for understanding.

“Yeah, it’s gonna be okay. For sure.” Mike patted Chester on the back and nodded. Chester eyes lit up and he smiled from ear to ear, elated to hear those words. Even if he knew they were forced, even if they were both unsure what the future would bring. “I do understand, Chester. I really do.”

Chester nodded, reaching out and squeezing Mike’s arm. His fingers lingered there and they both smiled sadly at each other.

“I’ll miss you,” Mike said quietly.

Chester put his hands into his pockets and looked down, the familiar sting in his eyes returning. “Me too, Mikey.”

“I’m gonna go.” Mike said suddenly, pointing to his car. “Umm, so fly safe. And will you let me know when you land?”

“Of course. You don’t wanna see the kids and T? They should be out here in just a second.” Chester said, gesturing with his chin towards the house.

“Just tell them I said hi, okay?”

Chester nodded and pulled his arms across his stomach. There was a pause and silence filled the space between them. Time stood still and neither of them knew what to say. A tear fell onto Chester’s cheek and Mike took in a long shaky breath. Their hearts pounded in their chests as the gravity of the moment weighed down on them. Mike leaned forward and put a hand on Chester’s arm and placed a soft kiss on his cheek. Chester’s eyes fluttered shut and his heart ached at the feel of Mike’s lip against his skin. Mike pulled away slowly.

“Bye Chaz.” He said with a smile. “See you later?”

“Yeah. See you. Bye Mikey.” Chester said softly.

Mike turned away and walked down the steps. They both knew the next time they saw each other it would be different. Whatever had happened between them over the last few months was over. As Mike walked away, both of their hearts broke as they accepted that they would never know what might have been.

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