Steven has an odd love affair.
In nothing but his ripped jeans and a dirty t-shirt, Steven left the house. Left his friends cowering in the lounge. They weren't like him. They feared for their clothes and hair-sprayed hair. They didn't get wet unless they absolutely had to. Wetness to them was a brief shower or in the panties of some unsuspecting girl. But this was what Steven lived for. It was his moment of happiness, his break away from life.
He nearly skipped down the street, a smile on his face, eyes raised heavenwards as he watched the purple and black clouds, looked at the distorted sunlight that would soon be hidden, maybe for a brief time, maybe for the night. Bubbly blonde hair bounced around his face and he brushed it away, taking a deep breath as he savoured the sticky warm air. It wouldn't be like that for long. Soon, the levee would break and the air would clear, becoming crisp and clean as the streets were washed of dust and dirt.
Rounding a corner, Steven's blue eyes twinkled as he approached the park. An unseen electricity crackled through the air and a shiver snapped down his spine, the hairs on his airs standing firmly to attention. Yet he carried on smiling, happy and joyful, the bounce in his step never breaking. Weaving in and out of trees, along paths and around bushes, the blonde soon found the spot he was looking for. A secluded spot that overlooked a small pound. Beside it, a tree, far older than the city around it, stood proudly, branches and leaves stretching out over the water. An impenetrable canopy against what was to come. Out on the water a few ducks dove beneath the water, hunting out insects and grubs, completely oblivious as to what was about to happen. Or maybe, like Steven, they just didn't care.
His skin became goosebumped and he settled himself beneath the tree, back against the rough, gnarled bark. It rubbed against his thin shirt and Steven chuckled, scratching his back against it. Blue eyes, filled with wonder and excitement, flicked to the green canopy above him. The leaves fluttered in the slight breeze before falling still. The air became heavy, filled with the sweet, heady smells of flowers. Sighing happily, Steven let his eyes fall shut, body relaxing. He didn't often stay still, well not for long. This was the one and only time when his body stopped, muscles falling silent as he relaxed.
In the distance, a low rumble vibrated the air and Steven opened an eye, the smile still curving his lips. He counted, slowly, right up until twelve. Then a flash of lightning tore through the sky, crackling and striking the ground.
Twelve miles, give or take, that's how far away it is.
Out in front of him, the pond began to vibrate as the raindrops began to fall, first slowly but gradually picking up the pace until there seemed to be nothing but a film of rain before his blue eyes. Steven smiled, shivering with pleasure. His hands curled around his arms, gently stroking the goosebumps away. For him, there was no greater pleasure than sitting beneath the tree, his tree, and watching the rain. It was his guilty little pleasure, his one true love. Nothing else could compare to the brief moments he spent in the park, away from the band, away from the groupies, away from everything that disturbed his normally happy mind. This was where he reset himself and readied him for the next battle, whatever that may be.
Pulling his knees to his legs, Steven wrapped his arms around them, yawning a little as he laid his cheek against his knees. Another rumble of thunder, followed by a closer strike of lightning, simultaneously shook and lit the world. He smiled weakly, eyes feeling heavy as he listened to the gentle rhythm of the rain against the leaves. Pitter – patter- pitter – patter. Over and over, never ceasing, never losing the beat. The rain, Steven had decided, was nature's drummer, a phenomenon that could keep an unending rhythm. Perhaps that's why he liked it? Steven's smile widened and he shook his head. No, he liked it because it was soothing. It stopped whatever shit was going around his head and, maybe not for long, he could relax.
He'd discovered the tree and pond while out walking one day. It had become a better place to relax than on the porch. The tree leaked but so did the porch. At least here he could watch the rain water the plants and wash the ducks. And on the days it wasn't raining he could play with the ducks, feeding them old morsels of food that not even the others would eat. Tilting his head, Steven looked out over the pond, eyes twinkling as he saw the ducks. They were hunched up beneath a bush, beaks hidden within their feathers as they weathered storm. Just like him.
Steven's body once more twitched to life as something warm and damp slipped beneath the neck of his shirt. Looking up, he watched as rogue raindrops worked their way between the branches and leaves, dangling precariously above him. Arching his head against the trunk, Steven opened his arms, letting out a peal of happy laughter as, one by one, the drops fell and dripped, tangling in his hair, sliding along his arms and staining his clothes.
All around him, the thunder shook the ground, lightning tearing the air apart a moment later. Everything smelled different, cleaner, fresher, more alive. It was how Steven felt whenever he had one of these moments. It was something on a par to drumming; it soaked his body and cleansed his soul, leaving him feeling refreshed and far happier than when he'd left the house. He'd discovered the fountain of youth, Steven's fountain of youth!
A movement caught his eye and Steven let his head fall forward once more. In the distance a red umbrella was moving, dodging the rain and scurrying under trees. Frowning, he cocked his head. Who else would come out on a day like this? He watched as they closed in, the umbrella clutched close, their free arm wrapped around them as their head moved this way and that, hunting. Finally they stopped and looked around, obviously confused before their eyes moved to him. The umbrella moved once more and Steven felt himself smile, a little confused, as Axl walked over to him. Green eyes wide with fear, the singer moved beneath the safety of the tree, shaking the umbrella dry as they looked down at Steven.
“I've been looking for you,” the red-head said quietly. The tone of voice confused Steven; he wasn't used to the childish look that was imprinted on Axl's face.
Waving him closer, the blonde gestured for him to sit down, something Axl did instantly. He pressed himself against the drummer, head resting close to his as he looked out over the pond, green eyes seemingly trying to follow every raindrop to its destination.
“I don't like storms,” Axl whispered.
Steven blinked, confused, as he moved to look at Axl. He'd been here, happy and relaxed, and was about to have his peace and quiet shattered.
“Then why'd you come out?” he finally asked, not wanting to ruin his moment. “You could have stayed home where it's dry at least.”
Axl shrank against the tree, looking small and timid, emerald eyes looking to the drummer.
“They don't understand,” his voice, normally high pitched and screaming, or low and rumbling, was all but drowned out by the storm. “Don't understand why I hide when it rains.” The red-head shuddered, pressing himself even closer to Steven. “Izzy laughs at me but he doesn't know.”
A rare frown furrowed Steven's normally smooth brow. “Doesn't know what?”
But the green eyes just stared at him, blinking once or twice, the outspoken voice quiet and stilled. Fingers brushed against Steven's and he looked down, watching as Axl took his hand. He smiled the warm and welcoming smile that scarcely left his face and gave Axl's hand a reassuring squeeze. He shivered once more as another thunderclap smashed overhead.
“I'll look after you,” he whispered, arms looping around the singer's tiny frame. “The storm won't hurt you when you're with me.”
Axl nodded, head tucking beneath Steven's chin as he nestled closer, hands holding onto Steven. Resting his chin on top of the shock of red hair, Steven sighed happily, taking in Axl's frightened scent as he his eyes went back to watching the rain. The rain had been his first love. Now it seemed he had another to jostle for its place.