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29 September 2010 @ 06:08 pm
Lost Art of Loving  

Title: Lost Art of Loving
Rating: pg-13
Pairing: John/Paul
Disclaimer: the Beatles nor the prompt are mine. Neither are all of the quotes used in this story. I do not intend to make money from this, just a sh*tload of comments and a loving community. Peace on earth for everyone, you lazy people!
A/N: For the Beatles anniversary project. I figured I might as well do as required and write the fic about the prompt I chose and, this is it.
A/NII: An alternative title, thought up by our all-time favourite ficcer (quazonic) would be “Lost Fart of Murder”. Even though she might tell you something else. Think: Tyler Durden.

Prompt: ♫ G14. "A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession."

Lost Art of Loving

“All art is quite useless”, was the conclusion with which Oscar Wilde came up with in the infamous preface of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Art is useless, art is nothing except to serve a certain form of enjoyment towards the people. It is nothing, until you make something out of it.

The Beatles never deemed themselves useless, and certainly not John and Paul. Uselessness is something for the blind, for the joyless, for the idiots.

* * *

“Come on, John,” Paul says, plucking aimlessly at the strings of the guitar he holds in his lap. John’s. “It’s useless to keep going while you know it isn’t going to work today.”

“No, no, I can make it work,” John replies, bent over the paper and scribbling away, scratching at the words only to rewrite them with words that are even more quickly dismissed.

“You can’t,” Paul shakes his head again, and puts the guitar aside.

The rain is falling heavily outside, flooding the streets of Menlove ave. They don’t have a performance tonight, the band was disbanded last week, and yet John has never been more intent on writing this song.

“It’s going to be bloody brilliant,” he says, pushing his glasses back up his nose when they start slipping, “you’ll see.”

The light is dim and the patter of water against the windows the only noise audible now Paul stopped playing. The room smells of young men’s sweat, moist wood and the general cold of autumn, and it’s a year and some since they first met.

Empty cups sit on the desk, a cigarette pack next to it. John smoked one earlier, hanging out of the window so Mimi won’t notice the smell later on. The stench is in their clothes though, thick enough for John to practically smell Paul when he is in front of the house.

The light seems to dim further when the street lights fade into the dark at eleven. Paul is laying on John’s bed by now, head buried in the pillow and snoring lightly – his legs are hanging over the side because he is still wearing shoes, and he has one hand tucked underneath his chin.

John is still writing, though not without sneaking glances at Paul. He looks like a kid, John thinks to himself, even though the DA is still perfectly styled, even though for some reason no grease ever gets into his pillow and no dirt into his sheets. Paul has the perfect manners and the flawless skin, and John envies him a little because it makes the younger boy- no, man, to a work of art.

And John reads, so John knows art is supposed to be fairly useless. He knows the great Oscar Wilde himself wrote about it. But - when music is art and Paul is art, then art is all things important in his life. This would mean his life consists of nothing but art. Then, if art is useless, that means his life is useless, which is something he fails to understand.

If art is useful, however, if it is –

* * *

George Edward Moore said “A great artist is always before his time or behind it.” And sometimes, artists are both – they look both back, for inspiration no doubt, to stay in touch with their birth ground and the traditions of their family, of the people they admire, and at the same time look forward for their future. They will dress in leather like their heroes do, but wear pink caps like the people in a decade or two three beyond of them will.

* * *

“No, John,” Paul shakes his head, “I’m not going to wear that.”

“But you like the leather,” John protests, rubbing at his eyes. They’re red-rimmed, his mouth feels dry as sandpaper because he’s had too much to drink last night, and right now he would most rather just be in bed. His head is pounding along with the rhythm of his heart.

“I might, but I don’t like pink,” Paul scowls. The knit caps Astrid made for them, on the request of Stuart and John, don’t go well with the others. Pete already rejected his, and though George wears his’, John can see he doesn’t like it much either.

“We’ve got to do something to stand out,” he says, “cowboy boots and pink caps, along with the rock’n roll. Who else’s done that?” His voice is thick and raspy on the smokes he’s had, on the sick he just threw up in the toilet. The Kino should be glad he managed to get to the stall in time.

“No,” Paul repeats. “I’m not going to do it.”

John turns his back to Paul, his face to the wall, and tries to doze off. He knows Paul will come around to it eventually, because Paul always does what he says in the end. After all, otherwise they wouldn’t have been in Hamburg now.

His sheet is too thin though, and the veil between them and the outside world made of liquid and pills. They live at night and they live in the cold, in one set of clothes they never wash. The room stinks of cigarettes and booze and vomit, and he isn’t sure how long he will be able to hold out anymore. To hold on to this lifestyle, except it is the rock and roll they longed for, and it is the friendship he has always wanted. Like the mould on the ceiling and the piss-stench of the mattresses.

It’s where they are supposed to be. For now, anyway. Because later, later is too far away to think of. They are here today, and will still be here tomorrow.

* * *

According to Charles Horton Cooley, “an artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” Maybe it is true. Maybe not. Maybe it all depends on the artists’ prime goal: does he want to be famous? Does he want to be loved? Does he want to be free? And, maybe even, does he want to be an artist at all, or does he not have a choice? Does he have to become an artist not because he loves painting, or words or music, but because it is what he best at – even if he would prefer a career in science?

When the artist is not sure of wanting to be an artist himself, is it a success to be one of them, or does this mean they are nothing but a failure? Is that what is important the world, or himself?

* * *

“It’s not a bad song,” George Martin tells him. Paul sits at the piano, shaking his head. John knows he doesn’t agree, but George is right. It’s not a bad song, not at all. Just different from what they have done so far.

It’s just difficult because Paul wrote this on his own, and John is sure that after a night’s sleep he’ll hear it back and love it more than anything he’s done together with John. That it is going to be credited Lennon/McCartney on the album won’t matter. Not to them. It’s Paul’s song, that’s what it is.

He doesn’t know if this is what he wants. There are books and there are films, there are people in the streets shouting out for them. Paul surely adores it, as does Eppy, but John isn’t so sure if he does. His marriage with Cynthia is basically on the rocks already, even though Jules is only three (or was it four?) and he is tired.

John is tired. He is tired of playing the witty one, of playing along with Sullivan and Paul and the rest, he is tired of always putting on an act while he would most rather stay home and read. And then, even at home he can’t get any rest because there will be Cynthia, talking the ears off his head. He understands she wants to tell about how Julian is doing, but the time he needs- the time he needs for himself, the success is taking its toll and he doesn’t know how to handle it anymore.

The song writing is his only outlet, and it seems so crude, so much in stride with how he feels about their success – even though it is flattering, yes it is. He just doesn’t feel like they deserve all of this, with his fat logged body and Paul who does all the proper work. He can’t function without McCartney, not as well and it makes him feel insecure.

It is starting to fall apart, everything too tight at the seams so water gets in. Other people get in. They don’t all have the same friends anymore and Neil and Mal seem different persons from who they were before. Paul and Geo are the same, to a certain extent, but their interests start to waver too and Paul’s behaviour has become a little more outgoing, a little more daring when he goes clubbing. When he is on stage, John can see the lights in his eyes – not as much when they are writing anymore. He’s seen them just now, when Paul played his song for George Martin.

* * *

“A good painting to me has always been like a friend. It keeps me company, comforts and inspires.” Hedy Lamarr wasn’t exactly right. John kept a picture of Paul and himself in his home studio, something everyone must have seen. He looked at it when he was at a loss of words or at a loss of chords, when he fought with Cynthia again and when he phoned to the studio, saying he wouldn’t be coming in. He looked at it when he drew and when he mixed tapes.

Something might be said about John leaving it up there after he met Yoko, but then- the same would go for him leaving the picture right there in all after he moved out.

* * *

“Are you sure?” John asks George. The producer shakes his head.

“I don’t know, John.” George Harrison and Ringo are sitting on the other side of the room, Yoko is sitting next to him, and John is discussing- matters.

“So he just?”

“Yes,” George nods this time.

And they know it is falling apart, there are tensions and fights and so much more than just that. There’s Yoko and Linda and he isn’t sure of anything anymore. The band has reached its boiling point and it won’t be too long before it is going to break. John is sure of it.

Ringo speaks up. “We might as well go home.” John shakes his head, even though Yoko squeezes his hand. She might have an influence on him as a person- but not on his decisions.

“We are going to wait and see why Paul is taking so long.”

When Paul eventually arrives, it is with swollen eyes and flushed cheeks, and he quietly announces he is leaving the band. John stalks out of the room, angry, because it is ridiculous- Paul convinced him to stay last year. Paul convinced him they would be able to save the band. And now, now—now.

* * *

“An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.” George Santayana is the one who said this. The Beatles gave their own twist to this; they changed the real world to such extent the real world became any artists’ dream. Fainting girls. Stadium after stadium filled. Fame across the world.

And then the human soul breaks, for we are such fragile beings.

* * *

“No, I still love John,” Paul says when a radio station asks him, the DJ raising his eyebrow. “We talked everything out before his death.”

It still feels strange, saying that. Paul has always thought there would be a reunion, but now – and only ten years ahead – all hope was smashed into the floor. It’s not exactly true either, but he isn’t going to tell all the little details. The world doesn’t need to know – Linda and Yoko don’t even know.

“Do you think there would have been a reunion if he hadn’t been shot?”

Paul nods his head. He is still a little confused, three months after, and briefly forgets he has to talk. “Yes,” he says, and there is the tremble to his voice he knows of before. “We would have.”

“Alright people, those are the questions the public wanted to ask Paul!” The DJ continues his chat and Paul stands up from his chair as a song starts playing. It’s Roxy Music, he thinks, their cover of Jealous Guy.

His thoughts flash back to what everything was like in the sixties, when everything was still right, but finds he can’t do it anymore. There have always been problems with the Beatles – if one thing wasn’t right, then there would be something else. And now he’s got Wings anyway, and Linda, and his contact with both Ringo and George is just fine.

It’s just. It’s still not right.

It’s not right because John isn’t here anymore.

* * *

“A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.” Albert Camus. Most art quotes have a ring of truth to them. Most other quotes do as well, lyrics and poetry, but above all- art. Because a work of art is not just a confession, it is an image someone conjured, so one might say it’s a snapshot of a peek into someone’s mind.

And then there is the art that is useless. The art that is admirable, and the art that only exists to provoke. Bagism. The art of music, and then-

The most important art of all: that of loving.

* * *

And if I say I really knew you well,
What would your answer be?

quazonic: Paul - water squirtquazonic on September 29th, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)

Irma || you call yourself a killer, but the only thing that you're killing is your time says (1:53 AM):
lost art of murder
Garden Gnome says (1:54 AM):
not bad XD
Irma || you call yourself a killer, but the only thing that you're killing is your time says (1:54 AM):
lost art of loving?
Garden Gnome says (1:54 AM):
Irma || you call yourself a killer, but the only thing that you're killing is your time says (1:54 AM):


That said, I love this fic. xD
L'amour, la malade lamentable: [Beatles] All: Strawberry Fieldsdidzease on September 29th, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC)
FY! (jk, jk!)

beatmy_heartout: John/Paul Ed Sullivan smilebeatmy_heartout on September 30th, 2010 09:03 am (UTC)
Ughhhhhh beautiful.
grl_in_redgrl_in_red on October 1st, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
Very beautiful. I get so excited when I see that you've posted something. And I'm never ever disappointed. I got very teary near the end, when Paul tells them he's leaving the band. John's discontent was very palpable, I think. It often seems to me that after 1964, there's almost no time when I can point and say, "there, there he was completely happy". There was always something.

My favorite is the beginning. The atmosphere was very present, if you know what I mean. And very sweet. Something I can imagine quite easily, and yet very powerful.
semolina_p79semolina_p79 on October 3rd, 2010 03:59 am (UTC)
I love how you linked this all together through the quotes from beginning to end. Beautifully done.
lucyinthesky93lucyinthesky93 on September 20th, 2011 11:53 pm (UTC)
I need to take a moment to just appreciate the beauty of this story. Really and truly gorgeous! Wow. Off to read more of your work.

And I hope you don't mind I sent an application to join the community! :3