"It's been a long time," Tom said, as he entered the studio. "I was just taking Gi in for a meeting and I thought I would stop by and say hello."
"Come in, dude," James replied, taking off the headphones and stepping out of the recording booth. He embraced his friend tightly and they sat down on the sofa opposite the mixing desk. "How's things?" asked James.
"Thing are good," said Tom. "Been writing, as usual. I had a barbecue at the weekend."
"Oh yeah, where was my invite?" teased James, elbowing Tom in the rib.
"You only got back to the UK yesterday!"
"Had you invited me, I might have come back earlier."
"Charlie came to see us," Tom replied, and James fell silent.
"Yeah, I messaged him on the off chance and this time he actually came," explained Tom, wringing his hands. "He asked about you."
"I know this is a touchy subject, James."
"No, its fine," he insisted.
"He misses you."
"He misses me?" James spat, unable to hide his emotion.
"He says he wants to see you."
James composed himself and cleared his throat. "I can't imagine why."
"Just think about it, please. I had him write his number down on a napkin for you," said Tom, digging into his pocket and pulling out a folded napkin and handing it to James. "I just don't want you to regret -,"
"I don't regret anything," James snapped. "It's him who should have regrets."
"I know, I know," Tom soothed. "I just wanted to give you the option, just in case."
"Thanks," James replied, running his hands through his hair and exhaling deeply. "You're right, it is a touchy subject. It's been ten years, for God's sake."
"Yeah," replied Tom, with weight to his voice. "Maybe it's time."
"For you both to start being honest with each other…"
James looked at Tom, digesting his words and nodded. "Maybe you're right," he said.
James sat in his garden that overlooked the Cornish landscape, with his MAC in front of him, the sound of Skype's dialling tone waking him from his daydream. He accepted, seeing the faces of Tom, Danny, Dougie, Harry and Matt and their manager Fletch in separate squares across the screen.
"Hi," James said, and the boys all chorused a reply from their various positions throughout the country.
"I just wanted to check in with you guys and see how you were all doing," said Fletch. "Obviously, the last tour did really well and I just want to discuss ideas about where you guys want to go from here?"
"Tour was great," Matt agreed. "Honestly, I'm just happy to be here and riding the crest of this wave."
"Me too," James laughed.
"Although, when we were at Tom's for a BBQ, Charlie came over," said Matt, and James stiffened, feeling his heart beating in his chest.
"Oh really," replied Fletch. "What did he have to say?"
"Well, he said he wanted to meet up and talk."
"With you and James?"
"Yeah," Matt nodded.
"I wouldn't worry too much, mate," Harry chimed in. "Charlie has made his feelings perfectly clear over the years. He probably just feels a bit guilty."
"Maybe he's changed his mind," added Danny.
"Yeah, and pigs can fly," James added bitterly.
"I think it's worth hearing him out," replied Fletch. "If you want to?"
James said nothing, but looked away, not wanting to continue the conversation further.
"I think if it's possible, we should hold off, at least for a bit. We've had two successful tours and an album off the back of this and I think we should take some time to think about what we want," said Tom. "Maybe get together in the new year?"
"I think that's a great idea," Fletch agreed.
"Besides, we think Gi might be pregnant, and so I need to take care of my family first before I commit to anything," Tom added.
"That's amazing!" Everyone cried, with choruses of "Congratulations!" But it only made James feel all the more bitter that he had been left alone, left behind and everyone else was happily moving on.
"Okay guys, we'll catch up in a couple of weeks," said Fletch, and everyone said their respective goodbyes to each other.
James was the first to hang up, wanting to escape back to his cottage, to retreat to the comfort and the silence inside. He put his MAC down on his desk, laid down on the sofa, and for the first time in many, many years, he cried.
James opened the door to Matt's house with his own front door key.
"I thought I heard someone," Emma said from the kitchen, as Isabelle and Ace ran towards James for a big hug. He bent down and hugged them both; feeling completely relaxed holding them close to him. As he got up again, Matt stood before him and embraced James tightly.
"How are you?" he asked softly, and James nodded.
"Come and sit down," said Matt, guiding James through to the lounge and half-pushing him onto the sofa. "We need to talk."
"Yeah, that's the whole reason I told you to come over."
"Okay. What do you wanna talk about?" asked James.
"You, James. You look like shit. You're depressed. You haven't written a song in weeks. What's going on with you?"
"Nothing," James sighed. "I'm fine."
"You're not fine. And you know how I know you're not fine? Because this is exactly how you were ten years ago."
"This isn't about Charlie."
"No," insisted James. "No, it's not."
"Well, I don't believe you, and as your best mate, it's up to me to help you when you can't help yourself," Matt shrugged.
As he said that, Charlie stepped in through the door, and James practically recoiled in horror.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, almost gasping.
"I need to talk to you," Charlie said softly.
"Charlie has been here all day with me, and we've been talking loads… about everything…" replied Matt. "Now you two need to talk… and when you're ready, we'll all talk… all three of us."
James said nothing, and looked away, trying to steady his heartbeat, so he only heard Matt leave the room, leaving him and Charlie, together and alone, for the first time in ten years.
"I need to talk to you, James, and I know you need to talk to me too," said Charlie.
James tried to fight back the tears, but just the sound of his voice made them spill over onto his cheeks.
"You have to know that I never meant to hurt you, James," Charlie said, sitting down on the footstool opposite him. "I did what I thought was right. I was confused about my feelings, confused about who I was, and being in the band was doing nothing for my identity crisis. I had to get out, get some space because we were with each other every minute of every day. I had Camilla to think about -,"
"And what about me?" James spat. "Did you think of me, at all?"
"Yes, of course I did. But I knew that doing what was best for you and me was to get space, and by doing that I had to leave the band."
"It just didn't make any sense," replied James. "You said you loved me and then you quit and left me."
"Like I said, I needed space, and so did you, otherwise we would have been wrapped up in that alternate universe together, forever, and it wouldn't have been healthy. You know that deep down," said Charlie.
They sat in silence for a moment longer, letting the words wash over them.
"Talk to me, James," whispered Charlie.
"I am still so angry at you for leaving. I don't care if it's been ten years. I cannot believe you would leave me like you did, not after everything we said, not after everything we shared together. I get it, you had a girlfriend and you had… me, whatever we were… and I understand that was confusing for you, but you could have just told me, you could have just talked to me!" James cried.
"I knew you would talk me out of it. I knew you would tell me to stay and then I would and we would have got nowhere."
"What was I to you?" asked James. "Was I just a thing on the side, or did I actually mean something to you?"
"Of course you meant something to me," insisted Charlie, taking James' hands in his. "You meant everything to me… you still do mean everything to me."
"But you're married, and you have a son. So nothing can ever happen between, can it?"
"Anna and I have… an understanding," Charlie said tentatively. "Before we married, we had a long, long talk, not just about us and our future but how I feel about you, and everything that happened between us in those two years. She knows about us, and she knows you're sort of… an exception to the rule… you're actually sort of an exception to every rule."
"What do you mean?"
"I wouldn't consider myself bisexual," said Charlie. "It's only you James. It's always been you... just you."
"So where do we go from here?" James asked.
"How about here?" Charlie replied, cupping his face and kissing him delicately on the lips. "Or here," he whispered, travelling down his jaw and onto his neck. "Or how about I promise you I won't leave you again? Not this time."
"To me, that sounds perfect," James replied, wiping the tears from his eyes.
The Daily Grind
Since their split ten years ago, it looks as though Busted set to get back together. Charlie Simpson, Matt Willis and James Bourne have reportedly been in talks for months about their alleged reunion and possible arena tour, after the success of the super group McBusted tour months earlier. Did we ever see this coming? No. Not in a million years. Apparently pigs really can fly!