Chapter sixteen : 1968 part two, Silence Is Its Own Reply

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George chewed his thumbnail, looking at the revised lyrics he'd written on a piece of paper. He'd shelved this song two years earlier in favour of some more fleshed out material, but had never given up on the idea of finishing it. It was in the same vein than 'Taxman', a social commentary about financial greed and class differences, rather marked by John's influence. He'd had a bit of trouble with the middle eight until his mum Louise had contributed a line during a visit home to Speke. He felt the song was missing something still and sighed, leaning back in his chair at the small table.

He looked up and his features softened as Ringo walked into the Abbey Road kitchen. He smiled to the drummer in a friendly way, greeting him fondly. The last thing George wanted was a repeat of his mate quitting the band. They'd managed without him but it hadn't felt right, and George had been glad when the drummer had consented to come back, covering his drum kit with flowers as a token of affection.

"Do you want to go up to the roof for a smoke?" Ringo poured himself a cup of tea, adding a splash of cream and a spoonful of sugar. George shook his head. "I've got to do a bit more editing on my song before we start recording." Ringo made a face, not liking the taste of cold tea, but he couldn't be bothered to reheat it. "I'll let you get back to it, then." He raised his cup to George in a show of camaraderie, walking out.

George nodded and stared at the open doorway long after Ringo had disappeared out of sight, pensive. He'd thought that his mate's return to the fold would restore some of the balance they'd lost, but things still felt off. It was something that had been brewing for a long time, but George felt John had exacerbated matters by bringing her into the studio.

In a few months, she'd gone from being that funky Japanese bird John would casually mention from time to time to being his girlfriend, the one he spent most of his days with. It wasn't unlike John to take a shine on people for a while, showering them with constant attention before seemingly forgetting about them, but George knew this one was serious. John wasn't hiding her away like some bird on the side, he'd come clean about it to Cynthia, and was filing papers for divorce.

He didn't want to have to choose sides between Cynthia and John, but the latter was his mate and they were in a band together. The friendship he'd had with Cyn, regardless of how superficial or not it had been, was over. John had made it very clear when she'd asked for divorce, ominously demanding of his bandmates not to have any contact with her anymore. He couldn't help but feel a bit sympathetic, though. They were in the same boat after all, the both of them had loved John, and now he'd fallen for someone else.

George had never seen John this enamoured with a woman and it hurt to see his lover look at someone else with such love in his eyes. He had nothing special against Yoko but he'd come to to resent her for coming to the recording sessions, dutifully sitting by John's side at all times, even going with him to the loo. He felt that she was a distraction from their process as a band, and brought bad vibes into the studio. He stopped with that line of thinking, knowing it was negative and unproductive, trying to focus back on putting the finishing touches to his song instead, almost immediately disturbed again by John walking in.

"Lo, George," John greeted, sounding somewhat cheerful and patting his mate's shoulder with distracted affection, checking the heat of the teapot and setting it back on the gas cooker when he found it cold.

George didn't reply, only nodding and going back to lyrics. John hummed to himself, glancing by the window to see if he could spot Yoko's taxi. She'd said (promised) she'd swing by in the early afternoon, just after she finished organising everything for her next exhibition. John was only to take a discreet part in it, not wanting to overshadow her art and bring her more trouble.

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