Part 9a: Assorted Nibbles
Part 9b: Keep on Turning
Sean flips open his phone, glances at the caller i.d. and chuckles as he clicks the button to answer. "Hel--"
"Sean Bean, where are you?" Bernard asks. He never was one for rabbitting on, something Sean has always appreciated about him.
"I'm in England. Sheffield," Sean answers. He taps the ash from his fag and watches it fall to the ground. "Twenty meters from a construction site. More detail?"
"God, no. I don't know anything about construction and I don't intend to learn." Bernard scoffs and the sound grates against Sean's ear. He takes a drag and grins around the filter. "I'm interrupting?"
"No, on a break." Sean glances over his shoulder at the site. Everyone's just coming in from their tea. "I can talk."
"Do you have to ask to take a break? Punch one of those time cards?" It might sound condescending if Sean didn't know Bernard. "Working for the man, as the lads say."
"It's not exactly 'working for the man' when you own the business, is it Bernard?" Sean drops the butt to the ground and crushes it under the heel of his boot and fumbles for something to do with his hand, finally settling in to tapping a beat out against his thigh.
"I suppose that makes you the Man, then, actually." Bernard pauses. "Why aren't you here, though, Bean. That's the question."
Sean sighs and tips his head back staring at the sky without really seeing it. "The simple answer is that I'm working. Also, I have a daughter I'd like to watch grow up as sentimental as that might sound to a man who's perfectly happy with pictures of his family eating dinner without him."
"Now, Bean, let's not start bickering," Bernard says. Sean rolls his eyes and keeps tapping against his leg. "I'm a decent father and you're still in a snit over last time."
Sean realizes that the beat he's tapping is "Proud Mary". The Ike and Tina version and he frowns because now it'll be in his head all week. "It's not a snit. I'm not meant to be in a band, Bernard. I don't want to."
Bernard scoffs again. "Bloody bullshit. Who doesn't want to be in a band? Touring the world with your mates, playing music-- which you do love, no matter what you'd have me believe. Plus, there are perks. The band's still got all your stuff in the rider."
Sean thinks about interrupting, but he knows he just needs to let Bernard talk himself out.
"It's not the same without you, Bean." Bernard stops for a breath and Sean shifts his weight from one foot to the other. "We're going to do it either way," Bernard says. "And that'll work okay, because it's not like before." Behind Sean, the sounds of construction are starting up again.
The word 'before' is full of heavy meaning, crystal clear all the way from Los Angeles and for Sean that's enough reason not to be back in the band, work and fatherhood aside. Sean can think about the band and he does-- loads of fond memories there that he wouldn't trade for the world and his best mates-- but Sean's waiting for the day he can think about it, about 'before' without all the messy emotional entanglements, without seeing Bernard pleading with him and Viggo's confused angry glare.
"--Bean, are you even listening to me?" Bernard asks. "I know what you're worried about and it's changed, mate. Viggo's not--"
Sean pulls the phone away from his ear when Bernard is cut off abruptly and checks to see if he lost the connection. It looks fine, so he presses it back. "Hello? Bernard?"
"Beanie!" Dom shouts.
"Dominic," Sean says, smiling wide. "Thank God you were there. I think Bernard was about to talk about feelings or emotions or something."
"It's never just a cigar with that one," Dom says mock-seriously. "I think he has latent mother issues. Confidentially, of course."
"Aye, of course." Sean laughs. "How are things there? Has Liv threatened to quit yet?"
"Twice today," Dom exhales loudly and Sean pats his pocket for his fags. "I think Lij was crying the bathroom after the recording session and Orli and I had to restrain Karl to keep him from taking his mandolin to Sean's PA."
"You and Orli restrained Karl?" Sean inhales and drops his lighter back in his pocket, breathing out grey smoke that curls and then blends into the air.
Dom laughs and Sean remembers the way Dom's eyes sort of bug out when he's amused. "Well, only for a second, but that bloke is quick. He disappeared out the back door."
Sean can't believe someone gave Astin an assistant. "Sounds brilliant. Do you know when you'll be over here, yet? It'll be great to see you all together."
"I don't know anything about the dates, mate, but Bernard's on top and he'll let you know." Dom stops for a second and Sean just waits, inhaling and exhaling, listening to the shouts and clatter behind him. "So you're definitely out, then?"
Sean nods, even though the only thing that can see him is a squirrel a few meters away. "Aye. I'm on a job and me daughter and--" There's still all that heaviness and Sean resists the urge to sigh again.
"I know, I know. But I had to ask. Not just because Bernard's still out here glaring at me, either." Dom coughs a little bit and Sean hears Bernard shouting something. "It is different, you know. I can tell and it's not just because we want to think that."
Sean believes him. Bernard's right, the fact that Peter and Fran are going on tour without Sean is proof that a lot of things have changed, that time has healed things for Viggo and the rest the same way it has for Sean. But still, everyone tap dances around the old wounds and Sean knows he's not ready to risk reopening them. It's not brave and it's not admirable, but Sean's comfortable and he likes where he is and he thinks it would be downright foolish to put himself in a situation where that could all fall apart. Again.
"I believe you, Dommie. But," Sean bites lip. "I'm where I need to be."
Dom sighs, but Sean can picture him nodding and pulling at his rings. "All right, then. It's always your call."
Sean smiles at that and starts to respond, but from behind him he hears Simon, the foreman, call "Oi, Sean? We've hit a snag." Sean nods and holds up one finger.
"I've got to get back to work," he says into the phone.
"Ooooh, something exciting? A blowtorch emergency?" Dom asks.
"Possibly. We'll talk soon, yeah?"
"And I'll make sure you get the dates for the gigs over there. I'll see you then," Dom says.
"You'll buy me a pint. Give my love to the rest," Sean says fondly. "Keep them from killing one another. Or any miscellaneous personnel."
Dom laughs, "Will do."
Sean closes his phone and heads back to the site, frowning only a little and singing "Rollin', rollin'" to himself.
Part 9c: Unsigned, Unsealed, Undelivered