Sheena (letterbomb_baby) wrote in 80_lightyears,
Sheena
letterbomb_baby
80_lightyears

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Paradise or Purgatory

Title : Paradise or Purgatory
Author : Sheena
Rating : PG-13
Pairing : Adrienne / Billie Joe
Genre : Uber-fluff!
Author's Notes : Happy Birthday Billie!!!!!!!



He falls asleep to Comedy Central and hum of an overworked air conditioner and sporadic fits of laughter seeping through the wall from the room that Mike and Tre are sharing; later tonight, they will go out without him, and flirt with pretty Floridian girls. He falls asleep in the crisp, hard-springed bed of a posh Miami hotel, wrapped in sheets that smell like unfamiliar detergent, still wearing his sneakers and Adrienne's ratty old Army jacket despite the thick, balmy June weather. Billie Joe falls asleep not thirty feet from a beach straight off a travel poster, behind a sliding glass door and tightly drawn curtains, warding off paradise with the drone of the television and a little abuse of the hotel's climate control system.

He has slept alone for fifty-two nights in a row, on hotel beds and the bunks in the bus and old, cheap couches in old, cheap dressing rooms; one place to toss and turn is as good as the next to an uprooted insomniac who's running low on Xanax and hasn't seen his the other half of his soul in the better part of two months. Billie is used to sleeping next to Adrienne - used to her weight and her warmth and her breath against his throat, his forehead, the nape of his neck. He sleeps best holding her, held by her, pressed against her in peace and quiet and perfect alignment - whether it be in their own bed in Oakland or a hotel in Berlin or a straw mat in a Bangkok hostile - so long as she's close to him, Billie is home.

In less than six hours, the alarm clock will buzz, and Mike will slip through the unlocked glass door invade Billie's room with coffee, track sand all over the floor and talk to him persistently until his responses start to make sense. In less than eight hours he will be in a cold cement arena, bleeding his heart and soul out in a string of power chords and lyrics straight from his diary, soaked in the deluge of frenzy pouring in on him from all directions in a chorus of ten thousand screaming voices that match him word for word. In less than twenty-four, he will be on the bus again, aimed north on I-95 and headed for Kentucky, laughing and drinking and planning out the set list for Lexington.

And tomorrow night, and the next, Billie Joe will dazzle thousands. He will do it every single night, in every single city that he can, from sea to shining sea and beyond. He will lift ten thousand hearts and move ten thousand souls and give ten thousand voices to ten thousand voiceless people who've never been taught how to speak for themselves. He will give people a place to call home, if only for a night, and the chance to simply be themselves right along with him. He will do what he does best.

But as for tonight, Billie Joe is sleeping alone, in a paradise that feels like purgatory without her.


* * *

She comes home on the last flight in, to a city that is not her own.

The sidewalk smells like cigarettes and airplane fuel and flowers that don't grow in California - tropical flowers, leaking sweetness into the thick, humid midnight air that even the diesel fumes can't seem to smother. She tips her chin up and inhales; for the past seven hours, she has breathed stale cabin air and the perfume of the woman seated next to her. Adrienne is used to airplanes - the bitter coffee and scratchy upholstery and cheap metal footrests that make it impossible to properly stretch one's legs. She has flown to New York and Paris and Tokyo, to from Stockholm to Sydney and London to Los Angeles. She has spent collective weeks of her life at cruising altitude - patiently counting the hours between Now, and her husband.

He is here, somewhere - tucked away in this sprawling, glittering paradise of stucco and glass and tall, bending palms. The hotel address is chicken scratch on a receipt from Seven Eleven - a place she's never seen in a city she's never had reason to notice. She feels a bit like James Bond, reading it off to a harried Cuban cab driver; there is something vaguely illicit and thrilling about traveling alone in an unfamiliar place when everyone thinks that you're somewhere else. Only Ollie, who's watching the boys, has any idea that she's not sound asleep in California, curled up in one of Billie's old sweaters and the downy expanse of their black velvet comforter. She is supposed to be a distant comfort, keeping some semblance of normalcy for the kids and for Billie, who gets homesick every time he's away and road sick every time that he isn't. Adrienne, who understands this paradox of loyalties better than Billie Joe himself does, is perfectly content to be the constant among a thousand variables. Billie Joe Armstrong is an Aquarian poster child, ungrounded and transitive; his very nature is like water tumbling over rocks, in perpetual transit through all the little trials of life, never truly resting or still. Adrienne, conversely, is the perfect Taurus - settled and steady and stubborn, standing with both feet on solid ground, a steadfast anchor in Billie's world of ever shifting tides.

They drive through the city to Coconut Grove - Adrienne with her sandals piled next to her backpack and her bare feet kicked up on the hot vinyl seat of the cab, and the harried Cuban driver snapping out terse, clipped Spanish curses into a cheap pre-paid cell phone, and the neon Miami boulevards sliding past the windows like shimmering tropical holograms. She gives her cabbie a cigarette, and so he doesn't mind when she lights one herself - rolls down the clouded window of the cab a bit, lets the smoke out and the newborn summer midnight in and her imagination free to weave through the streets ahead of them to the room that she has pictured for Billie here.

"We're right on the beach," he said on the phone. "I don't even have a window, or a patio - just a sliding glass door and a bunch of friggin' sand."

"That sounds gorgeous, actually," she'd replied, cradling the phone between her ear and her shoulder and sidestepping Joey on her way through the living room with a hamper of laundry.

"It sounds," Billie replied flatly, "like if I open the back door for some air, I'm gonna spend the rest of this fucking tour shaking Miami beach out of my luggage. Mike and Tre's room'll look like the fuckin' Sahara by tomorrow morning, you mark my words." A full day of down-time in a vibrant southern city seems to have done little for his spirits; when Billie wants something, he is single-minded in his desire, and very little can dissuade him from his dark spell save for that on which his mind is set; right now, Billie wants his family, and he's not about to give a little thing like tropical paradise the chance to cheer him up.

Adrienne pictures it now; Room Twenty-Seven - with cream-colored walls and a teakwood bed and the beach just a step beyond the sliding glass door, and Billie steadfastly ignoring all of it. She pictures him curled up on his side, knees tucked up, face nestled into the crook of his own arm, which is how she always finds him when he goes to bed before she does.

She pictures him just the way that he is.

* * *


The first thing that he thinks is, coffee.

He thinks it in a half-sleep, when the sliding-glass door rumbles in it's track and the bright glint of morning seeps through his eyelids; Billie buries his face beneath his arm and shifts a little in the tangle of bed sheets. Mike is here. Mike has coffee. Mike is letting the morning into his room, and in a minute, Mike will talk to him; he will make Billie open his eyes, get out of bed, pack his shit and get on the bus and help him figure out a shortcut to Lexington.

Billie Joe doesn't want to do any of those things. He wants to go back to sleep, go back to dreaming, go back to Oakland where he belongs. He wants to walk barefoot in his own kitchen and make his own coffee and kiss Adrienne good morning in the slanted slice of sun that lights a warm, golden patch just next to the coffee pot around eight a.m. Billie wants his family and his home, or a few more hours of peace at the very least. He isn't ready for morning just yet.

But morning, it seems, is ready for him; the roar of the surf has invaded his room on a fresh salt breeze, and the light is stroking at his eyelids with bright little fingers. Next will come Mike's lazy, padding footsteps on the bare floorboards, and sand all over the place, and the sharp tang of coffee cutting into the scent of the ocean. Then it will be the conversation, short and simple at first - but pretty soon, Billie will have no choice but to become fully conscious.

And so he tries to cut Mike off at the pass, burrowing into the pillows and turning a shoulder to the door and murmuring, "Gimme one more hour, man; one more hour, and swear to god, I'll get up. But leave the coffee."

"It's not morning yet, baby; sleep as long as you want," says Adrienne.

Billie Joe opens his eyes onto moonlight - bright, clean, liquid moonlight pouring in like silver-blue honey, dripping through her hair as she stands there in the doorway; a Seraphim in tattered jeans and rattan flip-flops and one of Billie's black dress shirts left open at the collar. The sea breeze is toying with her hair, tugging tendrils loose from the band at the base of her neck and brushing them against her face in stray wisps of ebony; Adrienne, real and within reach for the first time in fifty-two days.

Billie Joe is pretty sure that he's still dreaming, even though his eyes are wide open and his left arm is numb from pillowing his head and he has to take a piss; reality is rarely, if ever, this kind to him. The Fates have never before served him his heart's desire on a proverbial silver platter; usually, they throw him their table scraps and let him make due. Billie fell asleep tonight ready to face another month without her, getting by on phonecalls and photographs and the friendly affection that he gets from Mike and Tre. He was ready to drink too much, smoke too much, distract himself with twenty more shows and a few hundred games of solitaire in between.

"That can't really be you," he informs his wife. "You can't really be here."

She smiles a little, as the slender fingers that Billie so loves to kiss curl into a fist - and then she raps softly on the doorframe once, twice, three times. Bone and skin on wood and metal, sure and solid and echoing like the hymns of Heaven against Billie Joe's ears. This isn't a dream, and he hasn't gone crazy; his wife is standing in the doorway of this posh Miami hotel room, with it's cream colored walls and it's teakwood bed, on the beach just beyond the sliding glass door.

And Billie Joe cries.

He cries because he's still drowsy, still tired, confused and surprised and a little overwhelmed; he wasn't expecting this, wasn't prepared for this, doesn't have the slightest idea how or when or why or what the hell he did to deserve this little miracle. He cries because fifty-two nights of sleeping alone have hurt him in ways that he cannot admit to anyone but her - and suddenly she is here with him, unannounced, against all odds.

She leaves her sandals at the door, padding soundless and barefoot over the threshold and through the moonshadows to the bed; Billie closes his eyes, for a moment, as her meager weight depresses the edge of the mattress. "Shhh - hey, no tears," she says softly, and places one delicate hand over his. Billie curls his grip around the tips of her fingers, and uses it to tug her down on top of him.

And then they are kissing - slow and sweet and just like always, and suddenly Billie Joe cannot fathom how he's survived the past fifty-two days without this. He lets her kiss him through his tears, parts his lips to hers and tastes comfort on her tongue. He melts between her and the mattress, relaxing in earnest for the first time in over a month.

"I missed you," he whispers, sliding his arms around her slender frame and burying his face against her throat - her hair smells like shampoo and cigarettes and the scent of California. "I missed you so fucking much..."

"I know." She's perched beside him, curled in and over him like a human blanket, kissing his hair over and over. "I know, because I missed you, too."

Billie breathes deep, inhales the scent of her, rolls his head back against the pillow to look up at her and asks, "How the hell did you get here?"

"Airplane." Adrienne lifts her chin a little, and jerks her head in the general direction of Miami International. "As soon as I got off the phone with you, I booked a late flight online and brought the boys to your Mom's house."

"You're amazing," he declares.

"I know that, too," she replies, and her smile is worth twice it's weight in gold. Billie winds his arms tighter around her shoulders.

"I can barely sleep without you," he whispers. "I lie here, at night, and I cry like a bitch until I pass out - and no matter how many blankets I have, I'm not warm enough. I'm having panic attacks every fucking day, now; and I can't eat much, because my stomach's been hurting..." It's everything that he's been swallowing for weeks now, again and again, because the only person who can make it better hasn't been here to listen. There has been no one to soothe him while he cries it all out; Billie Joe is too proud to beg for affection from his band mates, or admit that sleeping alone is so hard for him that he'd rather be beaten unconscious each night than try to relax without Adrienne holding him. "...And I just want to go home, Adie. I don't know if I can do this, anymore; I just want to go home, and hug my kids, and sleep next to you at night. I just want you with me..."

"I'm with you now, baby; I'm here, now, and I'll be here tomorrow. I'll be there in Lexington with you, and in Atlanta after that; and next weekend, the boys and I will be with you in Denver." She kisses him, again, and presses her forehead to his. "You can do this, Billie; and you don't have to do it alone..."

"But I just want things to be normal for you. I want things to be normal for Joey, and Jakob. I don't want them to grow up on a fucking tour bus or in some shitty hotel room. I don't want them to spend their whole summer vacation jet-lagged and homesick and missing their friends. It's not their fault that I'm famous - you don't have to--"

"--We want to." She cuts him off gently, but firmly, with a soft press of her fingertips to his mouth. "This is 'normal' for them, honey. Green Day is normal for them, and so are you. They'll be home all week long, taking swim lessons and practicing for Pop Warner tryouts and playing video games with their friends. Right now they're visiting their grandmother for the weekend, just like a million other 'normal' kids; and next weekend, they'll see their Dad, and watch him play guitar - just like 'normal'." She brushes a few stray strands of hair from his face, then a few stray tears from his cheekbone. "They're not babies anymore, Bill - they're two well adjusted kids who are perfectly content to spend alternate weekends at Ollie's, and can't wait to see their Dad next Saturday."

"I love you," whispers Billie. "Love you, love you, love you, love you, love you."

"I love you more," says Adrienne.

And then they are kissing, again, and Adrienne is sliding over him in earnest, hugging his hips with her knees and sitting right down on his thighs and leaning in close to level her mouth with his. Adrienne is on top of him, pressed flush to him, sliding her hands inside the ratty old army jacket and under his tee shirt and over his stomach. Billie shivers, and whimpers a little into the kiss - he's gone fifty-two days without hands on his bare skin, especially in such tender places.

"No wonder your stomach hurts," Adrienne croons, smoothing her palms over the stress-tense muscles of his abdomen. "You need to relax, baby..." Billie, for his part, is in the process; the heat of her hands is melting the tension out of his stomach with every passing second. It is one of his favorite spots to be touched, and Adrienne knows it; now she touches a few of the others, as well - the contours of his face and the soft curves of his sides and the tender hollow at the base of his throat. She curls her fingers through his hair, cradles his jaw in her palm while she kisses him and smooths her thumb steadily over his cheekbone. She does all the things that comfort Billie the most, until his tears have subsided completely and he has melted beneath her in earnest.

The sex is everything that it should be - sweet and slow, drenched in moonlight, with the beach close enough to touch and the sound of the waves rolling in through the sliding glass door on a warm salt breeze that kisses their bare skin even as they kiss each other. The sex is mostly gentle foreplay, more for comfort and connection than the simple sake of orgasm. The sex is just what Billie Joe needs after fifty-two days and nights without so much as a kiss, let alone the sort of intimate affection that he needs in much the same way as most people need water; she cannot kiss him deep enough, hold him tight enough, touch him in a spot that doesn't feel good because there is no such spot on his body. The sex nearly makes him cry, again - it's too much emotion releasing itself too fast.

The sex is nothing short of perfect.

And when it's over, she holds him - lets him press close to her and tuck his head under her chin, and traces slow concentric circles on the small of his back with her fingertips, which is a surefire way to put Billie Joe right to sleep. They lie together in on the tangled bed sheets, wearing nothing but the salt breeze and the moonlight and each other, breathing one another's breath and sharing slow, languid kisses. Billie soaks up the fresh air and the sound of the ocean and all of the sweet things he's been missing, barred out of his room with drawn curtains and a sliding glass door. He falls asleep to the surf and to her heartbeat, falls asleep stretched out and peaceful in this unfamiliar bed.

He falls asleep in paradise, this time, instead of in purgatory.
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