Neil walked down the corridor towards Take That's dressing room. The lighting cues on their set had been a tad off the night before, and he wanted to ask Mark about the best way to approach the lighting blokes about getting things back on track for tonight.
He was standing in front of the dressing room door when the unmistakable voice of Robbie Williams drifted out into the hall.
"Why have I got to be on the bottom again?"
Neil checked the hand that had just about been about to knock on the door, and stood there like a gape-mouthed pillock.
"You're the biggest." Was that Mark?
"Howard's the biggest," said Rob again, and with a slight whine in his voice that couldn't help but make Neil smile.
"Tallest, maybe," said Howard. "But you've got at least a stone on me."
"Thanks for pointing that out, Doug." Neil could almost see the pout on Mr Williams' face.
"If the biggest goes on bottom," said Gary, "then the smallest should go on top." Neil blinked in surprise. Barlow was involved in this? Whatever this was?
"But I don't want to be on top," said Mark. "I like getting squashed between Howard and Jay. Or Howard and Gaz. Or Howard and--"
"You haven't got a thing for Howard?" Rob broke in. Neil could hear a bit of affront in Rob's voice.
"'Course I have," said Mark. "He's cuddly." And yeah, Mark was always one to go for a cuddle, wasn't he? Even Neil had been on the receiving end of a Mark Owen cuddle, and he wouldn't say no to another one.
"Did you ask—" Chris came up on him without him noticing, and Neil shushed him with a look and a gesture, just as Howard spoke up.
"I'll give you a cuddle, Markie."
Chris' eyebrows just about disappeared into his hairline, and Neil gave him a smirk.
From inside the dressing room, the sound of scuffling and laughing supplanted all talking. There was an "oof" that sounded like it might have come from Rob, and a giggle that definitely came from Mark, and a "'ang on a bit" that was definitely Gary Barlow.
Neil was for sticking around, hearing what came up next, as it were, but Chris always was a spoilsport and started dragging him down the hallway.
"I think we can wait to talk to Mark for a bit, don't you?" Chris whispered.
Neil tried to hang back, more than a little disappointed he wouldn't get to hear the rest of whatever was going on inside that room.
It was time to give the boys the three-hour warning before the night's show, and since Skippy was otherwise engaged, James had been elected to do the honours. As he approached the door, he thought he saw the Pet Shop Boys blokes disappear 'round the corner. They were a bit out of the way from their dressing room, but that wasn't his concern. He shrugged, and started to knock on the door, just as he heard a crash, and a thud, and muffled giggling.
"Oi, you lot!" He yelled, banging on the door and rolling his eyes. Grown men, and they still behaved like kids more often than not. "You better not be playing pile on again!"