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2: Pieces
Chapter Two: Pieces
He shook. His teeth chattered. His eyes slowly rolled in every direction. He gripped the sheets. He was white--very white. You could see that even though it was night and the only light in the small hotel bedroom was the moonlight filtering in through the curtains.

John awoke in his bed across the room, tensed, and listened. He got up quietly and went over to Paul's bed and turned on a lamp. As soon as he caught a glimpse of Paul's face, he shivered, reliving his dream.

He'd been half-asleep the day that Paul awoke for the first time in three days--or did anything, for that matter. Before he'd gotten pissed-off-worried at that stupid doctor, he had been sitting next to Paul's bed doing nothing but watching for changes in Paul's condition. He hadn't had any sleep since Paul's illness became serious, about five days ago. He started to nod and dreamed he was in New York and Paul had come in--when they were a lot older and the group had split. Paul was ill and didn't speak. John brought him around--for he had gone unconscious--and then Paul mumbled some stuff and mentioned the name Linda. John had no idea who Linda was, but in the dream's setting, knew that he should. He started to fade out as he woke up, but Paul was still there, trying to reach him. He could feel Paul's confusion; he wasn't sure about anything as soon as John faded.

John now tried the phone, but it didn't work, so he ventured out into the hall and tapped on the other doors. He was greeted with complete silence even when he shouted at the top of his lungs. Medicine--doctor--where were they? John scowled darkly. Where the hell did everything and everybody go? He returned, cursing, to his and Paul's room and looked through the drawers, tables, and everything for something to help Paul.
Nothing--nothing! He went to Paul's bed.

"Paul?" he whispered. "Are you okay?"

Paul started shaking harder. John felt his forehead and then brought his hand away in shock. Cold--just like his dream!
"If this is my dream, then I'd better cover him up," he muttered to himself. He crossed over to his own bed and stripped the covers. He felt like a mother as he tucked the blankets all around Paul. He was scared; in the covering of night, facing no one but his friend, he let his armor drop. The armor of sharpness and hilarious insanity fell away, leaving genuine fear and concern.

He got up his courage and touched Paul's hand, just like the dream. Relief flowed through him. It was warm and now Paul had stopped shaking. He let go. Paul started shaking again. John sighed and took his hand again. Maybe he needs to know that someone's here, he thought. Maybe not consciously, why would he shake if no one were here? Why would his body care?

"John--John." An unsteady voice came out of the mound of blankets.

"I'm here, Paul."

"Good--good. Ca-can I ha-have some wat-ter?"

"Sure thing."

John got up and got him a paper cup of water from the bathroom.

"Thank you." Paul struggled to sit up, at the same time trying to keep from shaking. John helped him sit up and then took a chair and sat with him. Paul finished the water and then fell back into the pillows.
"You okay, man?" John's concern touched Paul.

"Yeah--I think so. Just don't go. Dreams--they're not good."

John stiffened. "What kind of dreams?"

"Just bad--there's one that's repeated a couple of times. I'm sick and I show up at your house in New York. We're older and the band isn't together anymore."

"Oh my God." John looked directly into Paul's eyes. "I've been havin' the same fucking dream and it's scaring the crap out of me--especially when I woke up and saw you."

"Saw me? What do you mean?"

John quickly saw that Paul had no memory of the uncontrollable shaking he'd gone through. But how? It had only been a few minutes ago. He told him and found that Paul sort of remembered it.

"What the hell is going on?" John put his head in his hands and his shoulders slumped. "How come we're havin' the same bloody dream? Does this mean something or something?"

"I don't know," answered Paul confusedly and then pain hit him so hard that he shuddered violently. "Oh God, help me," he started to moan.

"What's wrong?" John looked up.

"My head--John, please find the doctor!" Paul held his head and rocked slowly back and forth.

John almost said that the doctor wasn't home, neither physically nor mentally, but he didn't want to run the risk of scaring Paul. So he got up quickly and dashed back out into the hall. No one was in sight--not even their supposed 'bodyguards'!

"Fuckin' hell," he almost shouted and got on an elevator to the lobby.

When the doors opened, he could hear some girls talking.

"We know The Beatles are staying here," one girl insisted. "Let us see them."

"But it's late; they're sleeping," answered the clerk lamely.

"Liar." The other girl spat the word and then she turned to study the wall and then she saw--John.

"JOHN!!!!" His name tore out of their throats.

He quickly thought. Should he go out and speak to the clerk and demand where everyone (and that idiot doctor) had gone? Or should he let himself be torn to pieces by the girls? He almost stepped back into the elevator, but a picture of a sick, pale Paul sprang into his mind. He put out a hand to stop the girls from colliding into him and amazingly, they stopped mid-step.

"Later, girls," he said. One of the girls fainted at the sound of his voice. Her friend crouched over her.

Thank you, God! he thought fervently and rushed over to the clerk, his bare feet slapping the tiles of the lobby floor.

"Where the hell is the doctor?" John demanded of the clerk.

"What doctor?" the clerk replied demurely.

"Don't fuck with me, man!" John shouted and grabbed him by the collar. "Where're our security guards? Where is the bloody doctor?!"

The clerk shied away. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about."

John was seeing red but calmed himself.

"Look, man," he said earnestly, "my mate's upstairs deathly--" he choked on the word "--ill and he really needs a doctor!"

The clerk cowered a little.

"Just tell me your friend's name," he said.

John fumed.

"Are you bloody ignorant? Or just thick? Paul McCartney! Now you'd better get him some help!"

Realization dawned on the clerk.

"You're--you're--" he stuttered.

"John Lennon!" John shouted. "Now do something!"

"What do you want me to do?" the clerk asked demurely.

"Not this again!" John moaned. He leaned over the clerk's desk and was about to say his request again, but then two people came up behind him and he felt arms go around his waist...

"...get off me, just get off--!" John thrashed his arms about wildly in a desperate attempt to shake the two girls.

"What's wrong with you, John?"

The voice was familiar; it had a thick Scouse accent. Two hands shot out and gripped John's arms as he struggled vainly to fight them off.

"I think he's sleeping." Another familiar voice, this one deeper.

"Well, let's wake him up!" The first person shook him gently.

John opened his eyes, ready to defend himself, but instead looked up into the amused and concerned faces of George and Ringo.

"Good morning," Ringo said cheerfully.

John looked around him and saw that he was wrapped in a sheet and was lying next to Paul's bed.

Paul's bed?

How did he get there? He'd gone looking for the doctor, yelled at the clerk and was floored by two fans in the lobby! What was going on? He wondered for the millionth time.

"Uhhh..." he started.

"Shhh, John, it's okay. Just a dream." Ringo motioned to George to move back to give John some space.

John, however, did not notice this as his "dream" went through his head. He stood up, looking hard at the floor. Fans, clerk...Paul. John hurriedly turned towards the bed, muttering, "It was so damn real," and his eyes flickered over the empty bed. Was Paul okay? He was too sick to get out of bed unless-the room reeled before John. He hadn't noticed it, but felt somebody holding him up.

"John?" George sounded worried. This wasn't like John, not at all.

John did not answer. He was too dizzy and was scared he would throw up on someone if he opened his mouth.

"Are you okay?" It was Ringo's voice this time, touched with concern.

"Yeah." John regained his sense of balance and faced the other two. "Where's Paul?"

George suddenly seemed interested in the ugly green and orange-coloured carpet (which Paul had called "vomit") and Ringo averted his eyes.

"Where is Paul?" John repeated.

They didn't answer.

"You're a lot of help," John muttered and went to his suitcase for some clothes. As he put a shirt on, he said again, "Where--is--Paul?"

"We don't know," Ringo replied softly, timidly meeting John's eyes. "We came in here to give him some medicine and we found you on the floor and the bed empty."

"Paul is sick," George said thoughtfully. "How could he get up and go somewhere?"

Greenish-hazel eyes met his.

"He didn't."

A lone figure lay on a rock by a river, wrapped in a long, black, woolen coat with a rainbow-coloured scarf and wearing pajamas. It was very cold out in the early morning; the frost hadn't melted away and probably wouldn't. A chilly wind swept over the river, lightly spraying the sleeping form. He came to with a start.

The wind ruffled his dark hair and took the colour out of his face, though there hadn't been any in it for the past week. He shivered and brought the coat around his knees and tucked his scarf around his neck securely. He had no idea where the scarf or coat had come from and he also hadn't a clue to where he was.

Illness had screwed up his sense of direction and location so all he could do was look around dazedly. The sky hung low with icy, unfriendly storm clouds that looked ready to dump sleet on the already-frozen world and have no pity on him even if he was sick.

He stood up, little bits of ice falling off his clothing, and started across the banks of the river to something familiar--it could be anything, but he wouldn't find it if he didn't look. He shuddered violently as he took a step and before he could take another, he collapsed, unconscious, onto the frozen ground.

"Well, what do you think we should do?" George was very concerned about Paul under his mask of calmness. He found it very strange that it was he who had it and not John. He pictured Paul wandering around the city in his condition. It wasn't pleasant.

"Obviously we should find him!" Ringo was a little sharp. He was scared, thinking, Did someone kidnap Paul and drug John or something?

"But where do we start?"

"I don't know. Let's get a car and drive around."

"And you expect to just find him like that!" John was seething with fury. "Do you think we'll just pull up to a park and find him playing ball with some kids? D'you think he'll say, "Oh, sorry I ran away like that"?"

"What do you suggest we do, then?" George retorted.

John sat on Paul's bed, head in his hands.
"I don't know, I don't know, I don't know."

"Let's go." Ringo took John's arm and led him down to the parking lot, George following.

"Does Brian know?" John asked, not refusing Ringo's pull.


"Where is he? Where'd that doctor go, too?"

"We don't know." This time it was George who answered. John said nothing. They passed their bodyguards, but shook their heads at them.

"Just goin' to the lobby," George lied.

Luckily for them, the guards believed it and only smiled affably at them. John put a hand in his coat pocket that he'd so hastily put on. He found nothing. Then he felt something on his head.

"Looking for your hat?" Ringo said with a half-smile. "I found it earlier."

John nodded thanks and pulled it down securely. He put his thick glasses on and tried his best to keep himself under control. He couldn't help thinking of what Paul had looked like with his glasses on...

...They were in the recording studio and John and Paul were leaning on each other, laughing uproariously. Paul snatched John's glasses and paraded around, still laughing that infectious laugh. John had rolled about and when George and Ringo came into the room, they chuckled.
John smiled at the memory but another memory, this one of Paul's empty bed, shoved his smile back into fear.

They quietly went out to the parking lot, past all the yelling fans, and ordered a car of their own, no chauffeurs, they insisted. They buckled themselves in, George taking the wheel, Ringo in the back, and John up in the front so he could look for Paul. They drove off.

"Where do you think he'd be?"

Ringo broke the silence and the nervous trains of thought on Paul and his possible whereabouts.

"Dunno." George kept his eyes on the road.

John stared out the window, scanning the banks of the river that ran alongside the road.

They'd been driving around London for about two hours. They were now in the only place they hadn't been--the river road.

It was raining a little and a fine silver fog lined the river. John almost turned away from the colourless scene; it reminded him of his own worries and Paul.

But something caught his eye. Barely distinguishable, he saw a scarf flutter. It looked like it was caught on something and it was brightly coloured. Then he saw something dark and it looked like what the scarf was caught on. He was about to dismiss the scene, but everything about it nagged at him. He felt compelled to go over to that scarf for some reason.

"George, stop the car."
George pulled up to the curb by the riverbanks.

"What now?" he asked.

"I don't know--" John disappeared into the rain.

George looked at Ringo, who shrugged.
They buttoned their coats and caught up with John.

They all saw him at the same time--dark-coated, rainbow scarf around his neck, still and motionless.

"Oh my God!" George burst out. "That's a person!"

John quickly bent and pulled the figure off of the rain-soaked, frosty ground, throwing over his shoulder,

"It ain't any person, George--it's Paul!"

Chapter Three

Copyright 2000 and beyond: Lissa Michelle Supler/Strawberry Sunshine
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