Billy and Dom heard it first because they were always the first ones backstage. They had the fastest pre-show ritual-- a quick shag against a make-up table or anything else that was handy followed by a pint-- and the least interest in private contemplation or whatever the others did in the individual spaces they were accorded.
So, predictably, when Billy and Dom arrived in the big room where the craft services table was set up before the Wellington show, no one else was there. Billy pushed Dom's hair out of his eyes and Dom straightened Billy's shirt and then they grabbed their guitars and started strumming. They grinned at one another and Billy started the first verse of "Because of the Guatemalans". They were five verses in, just past the part about the sweat and the war and before the allusion to Chekov when Dom stopped playing and held up his hand.
"Do you hear that?" Dom was frowning, so Billy stopped mid-chord and listened.
Billy didn't hear anything right away, but Dom muttered, "wait," and the tense tone in his voice made Billy do as he said.
A few moments later, from the room next door, Bean yelled, "I don't know what the bloody hell it is that you--"
"You don't, Sean? How do you not--" That was Viggo, softer so Billy missed some of the words, but definitely upset.
Dom rolled his eyes. "Last show of the bloody tour and they can't let it go?"
Billy shrugged. Dom's hand was clutched tight around the neck of the guitar and Billy wanted to have a joke or something to distract him, but he was too exhausted and his own fingernails were pressing into his palms.
Bean and Viggo had been arguing across Asia, except every third day or so when they'd become inseparable, laughing at private jokes like they were trying to give Dom and Billy a run for their money.
"I've tried!" Viggo again, his voice sounding strained enough that Billy decided that he or Daisy would have to sing lead on "Ode to Vowels" tonight.
Dom bit his lip and glanced at the wall behind the food tables where the voices were coming from. Billy nodded and they put down the instruments and went over there, resting against a table, listening.
"You have, you're right. But what about what I want?" Bean's voice was husky from too many cigarettes. Billy thought the lot of them should quit smoking.
"And what is that? You want something other than the band and friends and family and the music?" Viggo's voice was usually so laconic, that the obvious frustration made Billy wince. But then, if Billy really thought about it, Viggo hadn't been relaxed in a month or more.
The voices next door quieted down again and Dom slumped against Billy's shoulder. "We should have figured out what this was about back in Japan. Wankers."
Billy didn't say anything, just tilted his hip into Dom's and waited. After the show, they were going to get drinks at the bar where they'd first met Viggo. Billy remembered the night they decided to form a band after two bottle of tequila and a plate of nachos, neither of which Billy would consider New Zealand specialties. Over the next two weeks, Viggo had brought a new discovery in every night-- an acting school dropout, a drag queen-- and introduced each them each as his favorite new band mate.
Dom stood up straight again when Bean laughed loud and angry. "Oh, I can tell how much you respect it, Vig," he said.
Viggo had brought Bean in last, the entire group assembled around a table. Vodka and chips that time. Viggo had smiled one of his craziest grins-- he'd lost a tooth somehow-- and said, "This is Bean. He's a welder." No one had asked if he even played an instrument.
"Have to delay the--"
"What are you fuckers doing?" Elijah interrupted from behind them, laughing.
Turning, Billy saw that Elijah, Orli and Daisy had come into the room from a door at the other side. Billy smiled a little. They could all ignore the arseholes in the next room and play a few songs to warm up.
"Bean and Viggo are at it," Dom answered, nodding his head at the wall. "Sounds bad."
Orli wrinkled his nose. "About 'the art' again? Vig should just let it go, you kno--"
"For God's sake Viggo." Bean's voice sounded like it was right against Billy's ear. On the other side of the room, Orli recoiled like he'd been pushed. "You don't even try to get it, do you?"
They couldn't hear Viggo's response, but no one in the room seemed willing to fill the silence.
Karl and Liv walked in, Sala and Sean just behind them, all singing the chorus of "the taste of strawberries", but they stopped immediately when they saw the looks on everyone's faces.
Liv looked around and opened her mouth, red lips pursed to say something, then collapsed into a frown when Bean's voice sounded again.
"I can't do this, Vig. I love you and I love them, but I'm not gay and I'm not an artist and I can't keep bloody trying all the time. I'm out." It wasn't the loud shouting of moments ago, but it was somehow worse and Billy probably could have explained why, but he refused to let himself try.
Billy turned his head quickly and saw Bean rushing past the door. Dom reached out and wrapped a hand around Billy's waist, his rings cold against Billy's skin. Billy turned again and looked at the rest of the group. He felt like he should say something, laugh it off as more of the same and isn't it just like them to take it to the last possible minute, but. Billy sighed and moved slowly back to his bass, Dom following just behind.
"Were they, um," Liv's voice was hesitant and the way her breath caught reminded Billy of a song Dom had written just the other day. "I didn't think they had started--"
"Yeah, that's new, right?" Elijah asked. "The uh, gay. Thing?"
Billy shrugged and strummed a few notes. It sounded terribly melancholy, so he took his fingers off the strings and started to set the guitar on the ground. A slight cough from Sala and Billy adjusted his motion to prop it on the stand.
"I think, like, some of it's new and, you know, the rest isn't really." Orli shifted his weight, back and forth, back and forth and twisted a curl between his fingers. Billy watched Orli rock back and forth again and then finally he moved, crossed the room and picked a piece of cheese off a platter on the table.
Sean rolled his eyes. "No, Orlando, I don't think we do know." But even the irritation seemed forced.
"Because, Viggo's always, well--" Orli put the cheese in his mouth and chewed instead of finishing his sentence.
Karl and Liv sat on the leather couch and Elijah dropped to the floor at their feet. Daisy looked around at the other empty chairs, but frowned and just leaned against the wall. Sala busied himself moving a xylophone out of the corner and towards the door. No one else finished Orli's sentence, either.
Sean didn't ask for anymore clarification, just shrugged and wandered over to an armchair to sit. Twice he seemed about to say something, but stopped each time.
Billy felt as lost as they looked and he turned to Dom, counting on him to tell them all that they were being idiots, that Viggo and Bean were nutters and did they forget they had a show to do in thirty minutes? Because that was what Dom did, he laughed at it or he got fucked off and shouted at people to get over themselves. But Dom wasn't laughing and he didn't look angry, he just sat in his chair, twisting his rings around his fingers and watched Orli examine the contents of the fruit basket.
Five minutes of awkward silence and Billy couldn't remember this group ever going quite so long without talking or singing. The crunch of food between Orli's teeth was the loudest thing in the room, punctuated by the occasional clang of metal keys and Sala fussing over the instruments.
When Viggo walked in Billy hadn't been so thrilled to see anyone in a good long while, even if he did look as somber as the rest of them and even if Billy was probably more than a little done with this whole game. At least Viggo seemed ready to speak.
"Um," Viggo stuffed one hand into the pocket of his jeans and let the other dangle against his leg. "I guess you," Viggo squinted as if the light was too bright. "Sean and I had an argument and he's gone to--" Viggo reached up and ran his hand through his hair. "I guess what happened was."
Billy couldn't take anymore hanging sentences, so he stood up and walked over to Viggo. Billy reached up and rested a hand on Viggo's shoulder. "Did he go back to the hotel?"
Viggo shrugged, the cloth of his shirt rough under Billy's palm. "Bernard's talking to him." Viggo took a deep breath and nodded at Billy. Billy took his hand away.
"Sean said he can't be in the band anymore," Viggo said. Billy wondered if Viggo knew exactly how much they'd heard. "He loves us all, but he needs to be home, with his daughter and--" Viggo's voice didn't break so much as trail off and if Billy thought he could, he'd tell Viggo to consider that an accomplishment.
Dom opened his mouth and Orli swallowed whatever he was eating, both looking like they had something to say, but Viggo just shook his head. "No, I think he's really left. Bernard's talking to him, but."
Billy searched his head for the right thing to say in this kind of situation, but all he came up with was a pair of lyrics from "Guatemalans": darkened skies under fruited trees/bleeding hands, broken families. It seemed a little melodramatic, even now, so Billy kept quiet. Apparently no one else had figured out what should be said, either.
Bernard came in a moment later, everyone looked at him and Billy tried not to feel disappointed when Bernard shook his head sadly. There was a pause, then Bernard coughed. "Someone'll have to make the announcement." Another pause. "Shall I?"
Dom kicked out his foot and pressed the top of his garish red trainer against Billy's ankle. Billy looked up at him and frowned. Dom shook his head slowly and it occurred to Billy that they could still do the show. They had a back-up drummer and they'd done gigs without Bean often enough. It was the end of the tour, there were fans out there waiting and if nothing else, they'd always had the music before. But even as he thought it, Billy dismissed it, didn't even bring it up for the group to consider and just stared ahead at the black leather cord around Dom's neck, not meeting his eyes.
"Well, then," Bernard said and started to turn back to the door.
Viggo shook his head and followed. "No, I'll do it." Everyone watched as he left the room.
"So, lads. Liv," Bernard smiled a little at Liv and then looked around at the rest of the group. "This is the end of our little run?"
Dom laughed, short and bitter. "Isn't it always a lover's spat that breaks up a good thing? Guess we'll all just run along and find a new life since Viggo can't make Bean love him."
"Dom, come on," Orli stepped away from the table and took a step toward Dom. Dom didn't look at him and Orli didn't take another step.
A silence that felt like minutes and then Karl asked, "Do you want to keep on without them?" He scrubbed his hand through his hair and scooted toward the front of the couch like he might stand up. He stayed where he was, though.
Dom shook his head and looked at Billy. Billy sighed.
"That's not what he means," Billy said. "I think." Billy stopped, not sure what he thought. "It's kind of hard to have this decision just happen. Like this."
"I don't think anyone could have stopped it." Orli shook his head a little too emphatically. "Not us. Not even them."
No one said anything to that and when Viggo came back, Sala and Lawrence helped rush them all out a back door and into the waiting cars.
show your stubz!!
p&f are reuniting and i'm totally happy for the fanz out there who get to see them for the first time. BUT some of uz are STILL HOLDING TICKETS. show your stubz with pride!
RE: show your stubz!!
I've got mine!
RE: show your stubz!!
EEEEEeeeeeeeee! Wellington stub reunion for me to!!
RE: show your stubz!!
RE: show your stubz!!
I'M SO JEALOUS YOU GUYS! *sigh* I wish I'd even KNOWN about the band back then. Oh well, CANNOT WAIT FOR THE TOUR!
RE: show your stubz!!
RE: show your stubz!!
here i am!!!