Different Kind of Love (Chapter 1)
Cult Leader!Elvis x Y/N
Premise: AU, what if Elvis chose alternative spirituality over Hollywood.
Y/N is new to California and still finding herself, you’d only every known Elvis Presley to be a rocker, you had no idea what he’d become after finding a whole new way of thinking.
Warning: mild religious themes
Note: 1,900+ k words, Takes place in the mid 1960s
Summer time in California. Your first time here but, you’d heard so much about the scene. Something special was going on. New music, new ideas, it was enough to get any young person to make a little pilgrimage. How could you stay away? Yes your family threw their worries. They said you’d turn into a useless druggie out there on your own. But you knew it was worth the hitchhiking that got you here.
The breeze, the sky, the beach, it all made sense why they called it paradise. You had plans to do some waitressing to pay rent to get you by but work wasn’t really on your mind. While you still had some cash in your pocket you found a couch half good enough to call home to tide you over.
You met beatniks, artists, every type of cat that hung around a club or two. But what made you feel most alive was a breeze in the dead of night that made everything go away.
“You haven’t heard of Elvis?” A voice suddenly brought you back to the present moment. Her hand had slapped the table in such a way that it was hard to ignore her. You shook yourself out of your passing thoughts. “Elvis. Come on now.” The woman across from you in this little coffee house not far from Hollywood had a face like a rat and a smile like a princess. She called herself Daisy. Sometimes Lavender, or Rose. As she put it ‘my flowers depend on the day’.
“Oh… yeah, of course I remember him. Still got a couple of his records,” you made a slight expression, “yeah, shame he never made any more music, don’t you think?” You pondered as you lifted a cup of coffee with too much sugar to your lips. You couldn’t help it, it’s how you liked it. Dark and sweet.
The woman across from you laughed right back, “oh, he still makes music alright,” she had a coy look on her face now, like she knew something you didn’t. Oh, she savored that too, you saw it on her lips.
“Don’t fool with me now,” you quipped back, “Elvis hasn’t laid down a track in years. He split with his manager and everything, it was big news.” You recalled the newspaper article clear as day, it was a big ruckus. Elvis Presley, rock superstar stepping back from the business, turning down a renewed contract.
“Go down Orchard Avenue sometime, hm? Sunday night, you might just hear something you like.” the flower girl sipped her black coffee as if she was in on a joke you wouldn’t get. People like her were the sort that knew everything. Also the type that made you feel like you knew nothing.
And if she claimed Elvis Presley still made music? That was enough to get you heading out to Orchard Avenue on a Sunday night.
It was a time of night when things cooled down, where you could really smell the air. Daisy, Posey, Marigold, whatever her name was right now, she told you all about how to find this street. It wasn’t too far out from LA, closer to the canyons. You hitched a ride like always and found yourself walking down the road, halfway wondering if she was fooling with you. Just picking on the new girl for a laugh.
You were this close to turning back when you heard it.
A beat rocking, a guitar jumping. It sounded like gospel.
And attached was a voice you couldn’t forget even if you tried. From crickets populating the night to nothing but jive grabbing the night around you. It dragged you down from the well kept picket fences one block back to the wire fences with colorful fabric and prayers tied around the outside.
And the lyrics beckoned.
You got to sing you children sing
Sing you children sing
I only know one thing, hey! hey! hey!
Sing you children sing, everybody
Sing you children sing
Sing your troubles away
It came from a good house, one bought with good money. You didn’t know a thing about real estate, but this place cost at some point in time. Though some of the foliage had been allowed to climb the walls up to the balcony. Like arms outstretched.
The lights shown out from every window like it was a party. But it didn’t sound like one, there weren’t any fights or random shouts leaking out from the window sills. Just something like harmony.
You weren’t invited. But, you found for parties like this, less than half the people there were ‘invited’. The door was half open, they were in full swing. That was more than an invitation right? Surely they wouldn’t mind one more? That seemed the vibe you’d come across lately after all.
As you found your way through the well kept garden, down to the door, getting in was a little hard than you thought. Not because anyone was keeping you out, no. But because people were in such a frenzy. Praising and calling.
From the inside you saw some pictures hung of various religious figures, but too hard to make out to place any names. But then, your local preacher had something similar on his walls. Nothing wrong with that.
The parties you’d been to, involved people slumped over themselves doing cocaine and shots. But here, everyone seemed high on something else. Managing to get inside you saw the center of it all. All type of people your age, were hanging around, all hip and colorful. There was a man just by the wall, beating his guitar strings and singing out like it was a church service, right in the middle of the night.
It couldn’t be him… could it? There were too many jumping bodies near you, it was hard to get a look, you had to jostle and stumble to get a close enough look to the point where you tripped on someone’s jutted out leg and there you were landed just right at his feet of a man wearing a pair of perfect brown leather boots and a tall white suit.
You wondered if you ruined the night, if people would cast an ugly look… but the music didn’t stop. The only change was his now direct eye contact on you.
The last time you saw him was in a blurry picture in a newspaper article, a muddy sort of picture where you couldn’t make out a cheek bone from lips. But right here, right now. You saw it all. His black hair was just as tossed and falling down his forehead, his blue eyes just as twinkling like he stepped off an album cover.
God, his smile, a joyous smile as he ramped into another chorus. His hand reached out and helped you up. Like you had been here in the crew all along. His hips jiving and shoulders grooving, it was infectious.
You couldn’t help your own little smile and shake and response. He laughed for half a moment, enjoying your response to his call.
By the time it ended, you couldn’t help but give a semi curtsey to the clapping crowd as Elvis himself held your hand. “Ain’t she a natural, then?” He chuckled, “where’d you trip in from, honey?”
Usually you’d expect folk to get on with their own conversations, and a few did, but those closest to him stayed just as keyed in. You didn’t suspect anything for now, after all it was The Elvis Presley. Couldn’t blame them after a song like that.
“From the East coast… A girl named after flowers told me about all this, a real peach. Or, a peach blossom,” you pointed out, which got a big laugh from those around you. You’d never thought yourself to be funny. You’d never met a happier bunch. “I… Your’e really… Elvis Presley?”
For a moment the vibe around you shifted, as if you’d said something in another language that didn’t sit quite right with the locals. But when Elvis’s kind expression didn’t falter, the moment passed. “You’re a fan of my early work then, darling?”
“Ha, I, guess I am,” you admitted, “but this was, I tell you what, you were better than any pastor I heard in church.” This one got a better reaction from those around you.
One of the girls shouted out, “better than any radio!” With another, “better than any school teacher!” Thrown in by another in the crowd. They sure were enthusiastic at this time of night, you wondered how they did it.
“Better than god?” Elvis added on, which got a big laugh and a few whoops. Alright, flower girl had completely turned you in the right way, this was the best Sunday night since you got here.
You’d always hoped Elvis Presley had kept on with music, you knew that gospel had been a big part of his sound. So seeing him rocking out with a bunch of young people, doing some worship songs? Wasn’t that just about the best thing? And without the confines of a church it all felt so much more relaxed. It was a real scene to be in, that kinda space.
It was well worth staying for a while. Not that you could leave. It’s not like anyone was keeping you from going. But it felt like very step you took, someone else got to chatting with you. Or asking about your life, or what you enjoyed. At some point you thought you’d want to talk with Elvis again, who’d gotten to strumming his guitar for the delight of those closest to him.
Every now and then he shot a grin your way. But it seemed every one else was just too chatty to let you linger back to him.
By now a handful of people had headed out, the group had dwindled. You wondered, did they live here?
By the time sunrise was coming, you couldn’t believe it. That everyone was still just as energetic. Clearly you had a lot to learn about California. “Hey now,” Elvis truly was a savior right now, putting an arm around the nosey guy that had been chatting with you for too long. “Let her breathe, man, let her breathe.” He leaned his head towards you, “why don’t you catch a bit of sleep here, darlin’… we got the room, hm?” To which clear agreement was shown.
“Oh, I couldn’t, I’m supposed to go job hunting tomorrow, I gotta get myself going,” you tired to say, but clearly no one here would have it. Especially Elvis.
“Can’t go looking when your eyes are dark, can you?” The words got some snaps from the lingering folks in the room, a couple had passed out. You wondered if they had taken drugs or if they’d been awake for days. Either way, the fact that you’d only had coffee and a few bites today was hitting you and your knees were getting weak. Elvis must have noticed because he caught you before you could fall. “Come on now let me help you lay down…”
Your eyes went to the door. It was incredible to be near a celebrity but, shouldn’t you be heading out on your own? They must have known everything about you but, what did you know about them?
Elvis must have got your look because he turned your gaze from the exit and back to the hallway he was leading you down.
“Let me help you get some sleep…”