Chapter fourteen : 1967, Dripping Clouds and Indian Tea

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George poured himself a cup of Masala Chai, the scent of spices and herbs filling his nose, surrounding him as he walked back into the living room. He took a cautious sip, watching the steam curl above his cup before he placed it onto the coffee table. John was supposed to stop by that afternoon. They hadn't agreed on a specific time, not much of a point on doing that with John, but George found himself checking his wrist watch all the same.

He settled into a cross-legged position on his plush cushion, hands briefly stroking the carpeted floor before he grabbed the sitar that waited against the low coffee table. He'd taken to the instrument and Eastern music in general with a great deal of enthusiasm. George wanted to do something Indian-inspired for their next album and so he had immersed himself in the culture, hoping to turn the others onto it, as well as their fans. He'd discovered a sense of peace through the teachings of Krishna, something that he hadn't thought to be possible surrounded as he was by the madness of being a Beatle.

Things had calmed down somewhat though, and there were no longer crowds of teenage birds hanging 'round outside his bungalow at all times. They still came by, some of them even boldly knocking on the front door, asking for pictures and autographs, but thankfully there was no more of that mania that used to go along with it. George moved his slender fingers across the sympathetic strings, playing an afternoon raga. He closed his eyes, knowing the melody by heart, and lost himself in the music.

It had been happening a lot recently, George engrossing himself so deeply in all things related to Indian culture that it didn't leave him much time for people who didn't share his interest. One of these people was John. He knew that he hadn't been spending enough time with his lover lately, but John had his own stuff going on that didn't leave a great deal of time for George either. He almost, almost missed touring because of that, since it had seemed to be the period when he and John spent the most time together, and quite easily, too.

"You shouldn't be leaving your front door open like that, you know," John said, leaning in the door frame with a soft smile on his face. Startled by the sound of his voice, George's once confident hands faltered on the strings and he lost the melody of the piece. Had it been anyone else's fault he would've been annoyed, but he'd been expecting John. George smiled sheepishly, setting the sitar to rest across his lap. "I hadn't even noticed I'd left it open. I must've forgotten to shut it all the way when I grabbed the paper this morning."

John grinned. "But what if a groupie had sneaked in and then proceeded to claw your clothing off?" he teased with a mocking gasp, stepping in and giving a light chuckle, knowing that this wasn't very likely to happen anymore these days. Not that George wasn't as handsome as ever with his hair longer and that smart little moustache of his, mind you. John hadn't fully gotten used to it yet, but he quite liked it. He thought it suited George's face.

Paul had been the first one to decide to grow a moustache to hide the scar he'd gotten from that car accident a while ago, his sense of vanity seemingly kicking in delayed. He'd showed up with it in the studio and, in an odd burst of sympathy or perhaps a lingering sense of follow-the-leader, they'd all grown a moustache to match his. John thought his own made him look rather goofy, like an oddly prim Victorian gentleman. People seemed to find that it made him less intimidating to talk to though, and that was good enough for him. But George's was good. His lover began playing his sitar again, picking up where he'd left off with ease, briefly looking over at John as his shut the door.

"You must have me confused with Paul. No gate birds to be found here." John cooed, watching George with both eyebrows raised, shaking his head. "Yeah, right. Who are you trying to convince with that, eh?" He rolled his eyes playfully, knowing fully well that George got his fair share of birds, as they all did. John didn't mind or, rather, didn't allow himself to mind. George wasn't his in that way, and he never would be.

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