Ringo doesn't think he's whole. Paul proves him wrong.
Warnings: There'll be discussion of sex in this and some swearing, but nothing graphic.
Disclaimers: I do not own the Beatles.
Paul didn’t understand for a long time and it was even longer before he dared broach the subject. Ringo and him talked about everything, everything under the sun. They had spilled out their souls to one another.
Everything apart from this.
Sex was good. Paul was good at sex and sex between him and Ringo should have been good, should have been the best because it always is when it’s with someone you love, but it wasn’t.
It was never good.
And Paul did not understand why.
He couldn’t speak his thoughts because he was scared of what Ringo would say, what he would think, whether he’d hurt him if he mentioned that when they made love, it felt like no love was there.
He couldn’t fathom why it didn’t work between them.
Outside of sex, everything outside of sex, was the best. Everything was different with Ringo and it was the best kind of different. They were friends and they were lovers and Paul had never been with someone who loved him so vehemently, so earnestly, so passionately. Ringo gave him everything. He looked after him, listened to him, gave his heart and soul and seemingly everything that he could. Yet there was still something missing.
The key that Paul was so used to being in relationships, the thing that was supposed to cement your love and burn your fire for one another just wasn’t there. It didn’t make him stop loving Ringo, not for a second. What it did though was made him worried. And scared. And frustrated, because he knew that he was good, yet clearly he was doing something wrong.
Was he hurting Ringo? Had Ringo been hurt by someone else? Was that why it didn’t work, was that why he saw the light leave his eyes when Paul would begin to undress him, when his kisses roamed further than his lips and his hands moved beyond his waist.
But one explanation would always return to him, a terrifying thought, one that made Paul’s heart pump ice and the colour and heat drain from his face like water down a plug hole; maybe Ringo didn’t love him. Maybe he was kidding himself that he did or was just plain lying. Maybe he didn’t love Paul.
Ringo had been away for the week and all through that week, the thoughts had grown worse and worse, unlikely and ridiculous scenarios, each one more dramatic and heart wrenching than the last. By the time it reached the day when Ringo would be getting home, Paul knew that something needed to be said. There was no way that he could hide it now, no way that he could keep this from Ringo, not when the drummer knew him so well. Even if he didn’t say, he would still know something was wrong.
From the minute Ringo stepped into the room, Paul knew he’d be able to tell something was. He was too jittery, his hands were trembling and his smile was too big, too false. He was trying so hard, too hard, to pretend that everything was okay.
He didn’t try to speak when his drummer walked in, knowing that he’d give everything away as soon as he opened his mouth. Instead, Paul launched himself at him, smiling at the cry of surprise and delight that came from Ringo. The bassist had been so busy worrying that he hadn’t realised just how much he’d missed his boyfriend.
But he had.
All worry was washed away as he melted against Ringo. All that mattered were the strong arms wrapping tight around him, the small, fleeting kisses against his skin, the comforting, familiar scent that had been missing for far too long. Ringo didn’t speak; he merely smiled, hiding his face against the crook of his neck, only moving to press kisses against the nape of his neck.
When Paul spoke, he still didn’t relinquish the grip he had on Ringo, his knuckles white as he gripped his shirt, “I missed you. Don’t ever go away again.”
Ringo smiled, planting another small kiss, “What, not ever? Wouldn’t ye get bored of me?”
Paul shook his head vigorously, “No,” he murmured, pulling out of the hug a little only to press his lips against his drummer’s lips, cheeks, nose, anywhere and everywhere because every touch reminded him that he was home, “No, never.”
Ringo’s smile faltered as he looked into Paul’s face, seeing sadness welled in his dark eyes, seeing that being home didn’t bring him enough relief, “Hey,” he murmured, cupping his cheek with a calloused hand, “What’s the matter? What’s ‘appened?”
Paul’s composure crumbled as all of the worry and fear that had so blissfully left him for a brief moment of reprise came rushing back, rising and swelling and pushing his heart into his throat, eyes blossoming with tears. Like trying to protect himself with a broken shield, Paul attempted to put a stopper on the over spilling emotions.
“Nothin’!” he said brightly, sniffling and looking away from Ringo, “nothin’, b-baby, I’m fine.”
Ringo’s large, gentle hands pulled Paul’s face back to him, his brow furrowed with worry and care, “Then why’re ye crying?”
“I-I’m not,” Paul choked, trying to pull away, but his other half persisted, as calm and patient as he always was.
“Yes, ye are,” he murmured, “What happened? Did you and John have a fight again?”
“No,” the bassist shook his head, rubbing away at the tears that were leaking out of the corners of his eyes, “i-it isn’t, John, it…” he looked up into Ringo’s open, earnest face, the sapphire eyes that glistened with worry and Paul could feel something break inside in knowing that he was going to hurt his drummer, “I love you. You know that, right?”
Ringo’s eyes widened and fear bled into his features, “Paul, are you dying?”
Paul had to laugh. He didn’t mean to, not when the poor thing looked so scared, but he couldn’t help it, “No, Ritchie,” he gave a watery smile, squeezing his hand, “no, I’m not dying,” his smile brightened a little as Ringo sighed in relief, “I do need to talk to ye about something though.”
Whatever relief the older boy felt rushed from his system and his eyes grew round once more. It took him a moment to speak that time and when he did, it was barely raised above a whisper, “Are ye breaking up with me?”
More tears spilled onto Paul’s flushed cheeks, “I hope not,” his stomach clenched as he saw Ringo’s sky blue eyes turn into a sea as tears welled in them.
“You hope not?”
Paul nodded, wiping his cheeks with one hand and grabbing Ringo’s hand with the other, “Cm’on. We should sit down for this.”
He walked a few paces, Ringo’s limp hand slipping out of his own. The young man hadn’t taken a single step, “Oh,” Paul said stupidly, staring at the now very frightened, very shell shocked drummer. He went back to him, pulling him into his arms, holding him as tight as his arms would allow, “I’m sorry, Ringo. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare ye,” he planted a kiss to his cheek, his fingers buried in his hair, “we’re not breaking up. I love ye very much and we are not breaking up, okay?”
“Okay,” his arms, which had been limp at his sides, suddenly reached up and wrapped themselves around Paul, squeezing all the breath out of him, “okay. I love you.”
Paul sighed, relieved at those words and pressed another kiss against him, “I love you too,” he pulled out of the hug, looking into the not-so-scared face of his boyfriend, “we just… I need to talk to you about something, okay?”
Ringo sniffed and nodded. The worry was still there and the fear lingered in his gaze, but the drummer assented, “Okay, Paulie.”
Paul nodded, leading Ringo into the living room and sitting him down on the sofa. Taking a seat next to him. He didn’t speak, not at first, playing with, for the first few minutes, Ringo’s rings, which was a favourite pastime of his when he was distracted or worried. The drummer let him, finding the action forever endearing, even now when fear was eating at his gut and uncertainty was festering in his stomach. He didn’t push him, just letting him play, because he knew Paul would eventually speak.
“Ye don’t like our sex,” the bassist blurted out, before he could think of putting any sort of finesse to his blunt words, “a-and I’ve been around Ringo, b-before you and I know when people are ‘avin’ a good time an’ I know when they’re not an’ baby, ye’ve never ‘ad a good time with me,” he looked up, eyes spilling with tears and fear widening his eyes.
Ringo stared at him, a mixture of surprise, fear and grief mingled on his face. He didn’t speak, his fingers still held loosely in Paul’s hands.
“I-is it me?”
At this, Ringo seemed to jolt awake, “What?”
“Did… d-did I do something-”
“No!” he leaned forward, cupping Paul’s face in his palms, looking so concerned and desperate, “no, sweetheart. No, it was never you,” he kissed his forehead, eyes shut tight, “ye’ve never done anythin’ wrong.”
“But then… Why?”
Ringo opened his eyes with some reluctance, his warm hands moving away from Paul’s cheeks, “It…” he shrunk back against the sofa, like he could hide away if he pushed back hard enough, “It’s always been like that.”
Ringo drew his legs up to his chest, wrapping his arms tight round his legs, “Me and sex,” his voice had become small and his eyes stared unseeing at the wall in front of him, “It… it’s like there’s somethin’ missin’. Somethin’ that everyone else got but me. Like there’s somethin’ wrong with me,” colour blossomed in his cheeks and Paul saw, probably for the first time in their time of being together, that Ringo was ashamed, “I’ve never liked it. Not with you, not with girls, not with boys, not with anyone,” he shook his head and swiped at the tears spilling down his cheeks, “a-and I don’t know why. I’ve just always been like that.”
Paul stared. His mouth wasn’t working because he simply no words to say. Out of all of the explanations he had expected to hear, this was not on his list. He hadn’t even known that simply not liking sex was even a thing. He had just assumed that everybody had sex in their relationships, but apparently not.
Paul’s mouth only kicked into action when Ringo rose to his feet, “Ringo?” he didn’t get a reply as the drummer walked back round the sofa, “Hey!” he reached out, grabbing the back of his jacket, “Where are you going?” his heart crumbled as Ringo turned to face him, his eyes burning with molten sadness, tears rolling down his cheeks.
“I need a walk,” his voice, quiet and controlled, told Paul that he was trying very hard not to cry, “and… and ye need to think,” his eyes, melting with sadness, met Paul’s. He cupped his cheek, a thumb caressing it lovingly, “ye need t’ think about what ye want, Paulie. Ye need to think about what ye need,” he bent down, pressing a kiss to his forehead, before turning and heading out the door.
Ringo was sort of glad that John was out when he arrived. John cared very much for a lot of people, but he didn’t always know how to express that and crying was most definitely not his area of expertise. George could handle crying, at least, he could handle Ringo crying. Which was good, because he was crying a lot.
He couldn’t even explain himself when George opened the door to him, he just stood on his doorstep and howled. George didn’t ask. Calmly, whatever worry and confusion he felt locked firmly on his inside, he led the sobbing drummer into his house and there he stayed for the next few hours.
George’s arm was wrapped round his shaking shoulders, the older boy leaning against his side as he managed to explain in broken sentences that skirted around gut wrenching sobs, what had happened. George listened, frowning with concern and sympathy as Ringo finished his story, burying his face against his friend’s shoulder.
He didn’t speak for a minute or so, his long fingers alternating between carding Ringo’s hair and rubbing his arm, “It doesn’t mean that ye’ll break up, ye know,” he murmured.
“Course it does,” Ringo groaned, “I-I don’t want sex, George and ‘e does, ‘ow c-can we stay together?”
“‘e loves you,” George replied simply, “I’ve never seen ‘im like that with anyone else.”
“B-but,” Ringo pulled his face away, his eyes still spilling tears, “‘e wants somehtin’ I can’t give ‘im,” he sniffed, wiping at his cheeks with a sleeve, “this is all my fault. I should ‘ave acted better, I should ‘ave seen that ‘ knew, I should’ve-”
“You should ‘ave told ‘im,” George answered firmly, pulling out a hankie and pressing it against Ringo’s palm, squeezing his hand tight with both of his own, “Paul’s yer boyfriend. ‘e loves you. ‘e would’ve wanted to know this,” he offered a kind smile, squeezing his friend’s shoulder, “ye should talk to him.”
“‘e isn’t gonna stop lovin’ ye just cos you don’t wanna fuck ‘im.”
“Ye say it like it’s not a big deal,” Ringo mumbled, wiping his cheeks with the handkerchief, “What if… what if this ends cos of me?”
“I don’t think it will,” George pulled Ringo back into his arms, “I don’t know how it’ll work, but that’s only cos I’ve never ‘eard of people ‘aving to deal with this before. But it doesn’t mean it can’t work Rings.”
“And what if it doesn’t?” Ringo mumbled, tears leaking out onto George’s shoulder.
“Then… then it doesn’t,” George sighed, resting his cheek against Ringo’s hair, “but I don’t think that’ll stop ‘im loving you.”
It was dark by the time Ringo got back, but he knew Paul wasn’t worried; if he had been, he would have rung George or John, and he and George had suffered no such interruption. His walk back was slow, his feet dragging across the pavement because he was playing for time, which was rather stupid, considering that they lived together. He’d have to face Paul eventually, but Ringo seemed interested in drawing out his own misery.
He was scared. He was scared that this was it, that the very thing that had caused their relationship to crack would be thing that would make it fall to pieces entirely. Ringo desperately didn’t want this to end, but he knew that if that was what Paul wanted, he couldn’t be selfish about it. He couldn’t beg for him to stay, he couldn’t plead or try to convince him otherwise.
This was his fault. It wasn’t Paul’s, it was his and his alone.
There was something wrong with him, something that no amount of Paul’s love could fix. If he needed to leave, then Ringo would let him. Paul was more important than what he wanted. He was always more important. He came first, even if that meant letting him go, he would always come first.
Ringo had barely shut the door behind him when something solid hit him, making him stagger back into the door with the force of it. He felt almost winded and he tried to wheeze out a few words, before a small voice cut across his raspy attempts.
“What’d I tell ye about going away again?”
Ringo blinked, before his his expression of surprise melted into a smile. He wrapped his arms tightly around Paul, rubbing circles into the quivering back, “That I wasn’t allowed t’ do it?”
Paul nodded against Ringo’s shoulder, “That’s right. So that’s the last time, okay? You’re not allow to go ever again.”
Ringo didn’t speak for a minute or two, allowing his breathing to even out and his hand to run up and down Paul’s spine, “Ye sure that’s what ye want?”
His bassist pulled away a little, still tangled up in Ringo’s arms, but now his eyes were on his, burning into the older boy’s blue ones, “Yes.”
Ringo sighed, “‘ave you even thought about this?”
“Yes, I ‘ave, Ringo!” Paul exclaimed, “I don’t want to leave you!”
“I don’t want to either,” the drummer said softly, cupping his bassist’s cheek with his hand, “but that doesn’t mean we can make this work.”
Paul’s glare would have smouldered if it hadn’t been watered down with tears, “Yes, we can. We ‘ave to.”
Ringo shook his head, “Just because ye love me doesn’t mean ye can fix me.”
“Ye don’t need to be fixed!” Paul cried, glaring.
“Of course, I do!” Ringo snapped, his own brow morphing into a scowl, “I… I don’t want to sleep with you. You, Paul,” his voice faltered a little, “I love ye more than anything and I still don’t want t’ sleep with ye. I’m broken, I’m a freak, I’m-”
Paul’s voice had turned harsh, jolting Ringo out of his speech. The tears had disappeared, evaporated in the burning glare that sparked his eyes. He placed both hands on his drummer’s face, bringing them close, not letting their eyes move away, “don’t you ever say that about yerself again,” his fingers tightened and Ringo’s breath hitched, but Paul was relentless, “not ever. Okay?”
Ringo’s eyes were wide and staring, his voice scarcely louder than a whisper, “Okay.”
Paul’s expression softened and his hands that were gripping his face so tightly loosened, “If people knew what we’re doing they’d call us that too. And you and I both know that what we ‘ave isn’t wrong, that it doesn’t make us broken,” he pressed a kiss to Ringo’s lips, a long, desperate kiss that they both wished could have gone on for longer, but now wasn’t the time, “they’re scared of what’s different and that’s why they’d call us names. Yer different, but ye don’t need to call yerself things like that. I know that that’s not what ye are.”
“But that’s how I feel,” Ringo whimpered.
“I know. That’s ‘ow we both felt at first. But we both know that it ain’t true,” the older boy allowed another kiss to be planted, “we’re just different. Now you’re just different in a different way.”
“Not good different,” Ringo mumbled.
“Yer my Ringo. What other kind of different could it be?”
Ringo sniffled, “It could be a bad different. I think it is.”
“I don’t think so.”
“But… how can it be good?” Ringo looked down, pulling Paul’s hands from his face and holding them tight in his own, “Somethin’s missing from me. Ye don’t… Ye don’t have all of me. I’m not whole.”
“Ritchie,” Paul’s slim fingers lifted up his drummer’s chin, though he could get their eyes to meet, “Ritchie, I do have the whole of you. You…” he shrugged and offered a smile, “ye’ve never wanted sex. Ye can’t be missing something ye’ve never ‘ad, can ye?”
“But…” Ringo’s eyes darted nervously from side to side before fixing on Paul, “if… if ye want, we can still-”
“Ringo,” Paul rose an eyebrow, “I’m not goin’ to have sex with ye if you don’t want it.”
“Ringo, sex is only good if the other persons ‘aving fun too,” he squeezed his hand, “and ye wouldn’t be havin’ fun.”
Ringo looked down at their hands, thinking, before he seemed to come to a decision, “Okay,” he muttered, his gaze rising to meet Paul’s, “okay. If you won’t have sex me… ye can ‘ave sex with other people.”
Paul stared, spluttered and yipping, before he managed to blurt out indignantly, “Ringo! I’m not gonna cheat on ye!”
“Well, you don’t ‘ave t’. ‘m just sayin’-”
“Well don’t just say!” Paul stared at him, shaking his head, “you idiot, don’t you get it?” he grabbing one of Ringo’s hands and pressed it to his chest, “I love you. I don’t want anyone else but you and if that means that the only sex I ever get is jerking off fer the rest of my life, then fine. It’s fine,” he said firmly as Ringo started to protest, “we’ll work this out, Rings. I’m not going to give up just cos things might get hard.”
The blue eyes, no longer fogged with tears, widened, “You mean… you still want to be with me?”
Paul nodded, smiling, “Yeah, ye daft bugger. I still wanna be with ye.”
Ringo blinked, before grinning a little, as though hardly daring to believe it, “We’re staying together?”
Paul grinned, wrapping his arms around Ringo’s waist, “Yeah, Ringo. We’re staying together.”
Ringo let out a laugh, hugging Paul tight and spinning him round, grinning at the cries of surprise and giddiness. The spinning skidded to a halt and Ringo and Paul, still tangled up in one another’s arms, still grinning like idiots, collided, a soft crash of lips against lips, kissing with passionate, giddy, fervent love.
Even when they pulled away, they still both had the same expressions on their faces, the same, silly, giddy and adoring smiles, both reflecting the love that burned within them both.
“I…” Ringo grinned and shook his head, almost in disbelief, “I don’t know how we’re going to do this.”
“I don’t know either,” Paul said honestly, “but I know it’ll be okay,” he pulled Ringo in tighter, the silly, adoring smiles widening and brightening with breath they took, “cos what we’ve got Ringo. It’s worth it.”
“Yeah, Paulie,” Ringo muttered, his smile shining out like sun beams, “it’s worth it.”