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Evasion

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The first time George ever considered sleeping with a man was when Brian took him to see his house, although George hadn't realized it at the time.

It was back in 1962, when The Beatles were still playing during the lunch hours at The Cavern. John, Paul and Ringo had already left for the day, but George had gotten a late start and lagged behind, not eager to make the journey back home to Speke on foot.

It turned out he didn't have to. Brian caught up to him – well, ran up to him, more like – on the street, and told George his car was parked nearby.

"Would you like to come with me?" Brian asked. As he caught his breath, he smiled, his head cocked to the side in that familiar way George always found comforting and a little bit silly. "I need to stop at my house for a few papers to bring to the store later, but I can't imagine it would hold you up too long."

George felt a bit out of place as he stepped into Brian's shining, immaculate Zephyr Zodiac. The feeling only increased as Brian drove past the large houses and the tree-lined streets of Childwall: the affluent, mostly-Jewish section of Liverpool. Except for the time when Brian pointed out the All Saint's Church ("That's the oldest church in Liverpool," Brian said. "Ah," was George's response.), they spoke very little, mostly listening to the classical music Brian played on the radio.

"You'll live in a place nicer than this one day," Brian said suddenly.

The statement broke George out of his reverie. At first he wondered if he was so easy to read. Then he had to smile as he looked back at Brian. Sometimes he worried if Brian's promises for the band were little more than a twinkle in the eye and a crock of shit, but at that moment, he wanted to believe.

"Yeah, but it wouldn't have the oldest church in Liverpool, would it? It'd be crap, then."

Brian laughed. For the time, it put George at ease, but when Brian stopped his gorgeous car in front of his gorgeous house, George was back to feeling intimidated again. As he followed Brian up the slate gray pathway, George couldn't take his eyes off the house's beautiful white façade with red brick trim. Having grown up in council houses, he'd never known anyone who lived in a place like this, and never thought he would, either. Sometimes, George thought, John worked so hard to bring Brian down a few pegs it was easy to forget how high he was over them in the first place.

"Do you like it?" Brian asked. There was more than a hint of pride in his voice.

"Oh … yeah," George said as Brian directed him into the house. George looked around the house at Brian's furniture, all of it modern, shiny and new (although given his father's profession perhaps that was to be expected). George groped inside his trousers' pocket for his pack of cigarettes. "It's great. Really great."

Brian beamed. "Come along. I'll show you it all."

George followed obediently as Brian led him through every room of the house, occasionally pointing out an artifact or piece of furniture of which he was particularly proud. Some of Brian's stories were interesting; others not so much. George didn't think much about it until Brian led him into one of the bedrooms.

"I believe the papers are in here …," Brian said as he opened the drawer to the nightstand next to his bed. George sat on top of the covers, smoking a cigarette and trying to hide his impatience – this had been the third place Brian looked and George was getting tired and eager to return home.

"Ah, yes," Brian said, pulling out a stack of papers. "Here they are."

George smiled. He was about to ask if they could leave when the door opened. Brian's brother Clive stood in the frame, and all George could think was he hadn't seen anyone stare so angrily at him since the last time he saw Bruno Koschinder.

"Brian … what the bloody hell is he doing here?" Clive yelled.

At first, Brian looked as taken aback as George felt, but any surprise on Brian's face quickly turned to rage. "He's in the band I'm managing! What are you implying?"

"I don't care who he is!" Clive said. "Why is he on your bed?"

George blinked. He didn't know what was going on. Were the covers too expensive to be sat on or something like that? The explanation sounded stupid even to himself, but he tried to stand up, only to feel Brian grab onto his shoulder and hold him in place.

"He was just sitting here!" Brian said. He pointed his free hand toward George in the same way he had earlier showed off the artifacts in his house. "Honestly, Clive. Do you have so little opinion of me? Is that really the type of person you think I am?"

"This is all about the type of person you are, Brian!"

"What's going on?" George asked. "Did I do something wrong?"

"No," Brian said. "This isn't your fault." He gave George a slight squeeze on the shoulder and looked back at Clive. "Let's discuss this in the hall."

The two of them left, Clive slamming the door behind them.

The next ten minutes were agonizing. George stood, alone and awkward, in the unfamiliar room. Unsure of what to do, he continued to smoke his cigarette and tried not to listen to the voices outside. However, occasionally a phrase from one of them would float to his ears from beyond the door.

" … have to think about what it looks like …"

"… would never do that, never …"

"… never liked that sort of music, Brian. People know … seen the way you stare at ..."

Eventually, Brian opened the door. He looked tired and worn out – even his clothes seemed to hang more loosely on his body – it was as if he'd just been through a two-hour-long tour bus ride instead of ten minutes behind a door.

"Come on," Brian said. "Let's get you home."

George followed Brian out of the room, trying his best to ignore Clive's icy glare. He didn't know what to say, and still didn't later as he sat in Brian's car, listening to the motor. Brian was silent as well, and the quiet was nothing like the amiable companionship of the ride to Brian's house. Despite what Brian had said, George felt strangely guilty about what had just happened and it seemed, from the sour, embarrassed look on Brian's face, that he felt the same way.

"Clive's younger than you, isn't he?" George asked.

Brian nodded.

"Well, he shouldn't talk to you like that."

Brian sighed, shook his head as he continued to keep his eyes on the road. "He … Clive is just trying to …"

George looked at Brian, eagerly waiting for him to complete his sentence. Brian just shook his head again, smiled like he was forcing himself to do so.

"Thank you," Brian said.

George nodded, but he was disappointed.

They didn't speak again for the rest of the trip home. However, just as George was about to open the door to his house, Brian called after him.

"George?" he asked.

Sensing Brian was about to tell him something significant, George met him back at the car.

"George, I …" Brian looked down at his lap, then up at George again. "You know I would never put you in a situation you didn't want to be in, right? You know I would never take advantage of you."

Brian spoke so sincerely, George didn't like to admit he still felt lost. "You mean as our manager?"

"No. Well, yes, but … but I mean as a person. I would never have you do anything you didn't want. I want you to know that."

George realized his heart was beating much faster than normal. The guilty feeling resurfaced in his chest again, and he recognized it this time. He'd felt it back in Hamburg, walking out with John and Paul in the red light district and visiting the brothels for the first time – a guilt mixed with excitement and exhilaration at breaking some sort of taboo. Except this was only Brian, and Brian's house bore as much resemblance to a brothel as the Queen's Palace to his own house. And the idea that Brian could be anything like those women was so ridiculous he couldn't even consider it.

So George tried to put the feeling out of his head and nodded. "I know."

Brian smiled. "Thank you. You're too kind, George."

George waved as he watched Brian drive away. He tried to put the incident out of his mind, although he found himself thinking about it still as he laid himself down to sleep that night. As he wrapped his hand around his cock and wanked himself off, he told himself he was remembering the old days. It worked, although after he came he felt ill at ease.

Still, it wasn't until months later that he thought about it again.

~*~*~

It was June 18, 1963 and by that time, everything had changed.

George didn't live in a place nicer than Brian's, but he was fast becoming able to afford one. The Beatles were heading to the top – to the toppermost of the poppermost, as John liked to say. Their days were filled with an endless deluge of performances and public appearances, most of them featuring screaming fans or nosy, stupid reporters.

So Paul's birthday party – held at his Aunt Jin's house far from London or the urban parts of Liverpool – was a welcome relief.

It was a lovely evening, warm with a clear, starry sky. The cool night wind, combined with the bubbly champagne in his stomach, lifted George's spirits as he stood nearby Paul. George didn't talk very much during the night, but that didn't bother him. Fame had been making him more assertive lately: the constant attention and questions required him to think fast and come up with a quick and pithy remark on a frequent basis, even if Paul and John were usually the ones front and center. Still, tonight he was glad to simply shadow Paul.

George liked to watch Paul. He always had, ever since he met Paul on the bus ride to school when he was fourteen, and these days they'd been together so much that Paul's voice and gestures were as familiar as the feel and sound of his guitar. He couldn't quite explain why, other than that Paul was his friend and he always felt a measure of comfort whenever he was around, liked how someone took such an especial notice of him whenever others dismissed him as an arrogant prick just because he was quiet.

And Paul was the consummate host tonight. George followed Paul as he talked with every person at the party – most of them fellow musicians – and asked them about their careers, giving them a bit of advice, as if it were the old days (although George realized Paul revealed less and less lately). Overall, the entire event had an overall warm and friendly atmosphere, and George was feeling absolutely gear.

Then they heard John.

It took awhile before George could see what was happening; George and Paul had been far away from the source of the yells and sounds of struggle. Then, almost as soon as the fight began, the guests had crowded around John and Bob Wooler. George ran across the yard and pushed through the circle, but by the time he broke through, Billy Hanton and Billy Kramer had John restrained – each one holding onto one of John's arms. Bob lay on the ground, his bloody hands covering his face. A garden shovel with a handle stained with drops of blood lay close by.

Christ, George thought. This had been far from the first time George had seen John in a fight, but never this bad – never with a bloody shovel. And John still looked furious. He kicked and strained against Hanton and Kramer's grasps, his red face twisted into a scowl.

Pete Shotton ran up to John before George could even think of what to do, held onto his shoulders and shook him. It had little effect.

"The bastard called me a bloody queer!" John screamed.

Ringo and Gerry Masden crouched down at Bob's sides.

"He needs an ambulance!" Ringo said.

George felt a hand clamp down on his shoulder, which made him jump. Then he saw who it was and felt stupid.

"Could you?" Paul whispered in his ear.

"Right," George said.

He ran inside Jin's house, gave her a quick explanation before scrambling toward the phone. As soon as the man on the other end of the line assured George someone would be there soon and hung up, George heard a woman scream outside.

George couldn't imagine how the evening could get worse. When he reached the others again, though, he saw that it very much had. John had his hand clamped around a girl's – a screaming, crying, very angry girl's – breast. Cynthia stood behind him, begging, "Stop it, John! Please, stop it!" Kramer stepped in once again.

"You're nothing, Kramer!" John screamed as the bigger man pulled him off the shocked girl. "You're fuck-all! We're the best band!"

Kramer thrust a fist near John's face. "I'll fucking K.O. you if you don't shut up."

Paul approached the fray, and George – at a loss for what to do – followed his lead. John glared at both of them. "What are you two doing? Paul, kick this fucker out!"

"I think you need to calm down," Paul said, his voice even and firm. "You're embarrassing your wife."

"What the fuck do you mean by that?" John spat.

"I mean she's crying, John," Paul said, angry this time. "Haven't you noticed? What did you think I meant?"

She was crying. John looked back at Cynthia, and then squinted at Paul – then at George. The edge of his mouth curled in disgust.

George realized there was something else going on here.

Kramer led John away. Paul offered to go with Cynthia, but she shook her head and said she just wanted to leave. Paul relented when Kramer assured him that he would talk to her.

The ambulance arrived soon after to take Bob home. As soon as it – and the taxi carrying John and Cynthia away – was gone, Paul encouraged the guests to stay and continue to enjoy themselves. They did. After another glass of champagne, George realized not much of the mood had changed at all. It was as if John's actions were little more than a bad dream.

When most of the guests were gone, Ringo asked George if he wanted to go home with him, but George said no. He wanted to stay a little later. After Ringo was gone, George met Paul in Jin's living room, where he was putting some glasses away.

"What was all that about?" George asked.

Paul looked at George over his shoulder as if he was shocked George would ask such a question. He shrugged and picked up another glass. "John was drunk. You know how he is when he's drunk." He took the glasses into the kitchen.

"He's usually not that bad, though," George insisted as he followed Paul. "All that because Bob made a joke?"

"Guess it hit a bit close to home," Paul murmured, although it was soft enough George wasn't sure if he was supposed to have heard it or not.

But he did hear it, and George suddenly felt disoriented. "What do you mean?"

Paul looked at George, his large eyes even wider than normal. "You mean you don't know? At all? I mean, you know about Brian, don't you?"

George frowned. "What does Brian have to do with this?"

"Everything."

George opened his mouth to speak again, but then he suddenly understood. He closed his mouth.

"Christ, man, you really didn't know?"

"I …," George swallowed. In his mind he was back in Brian's bedroom, hearing voices arguing behind the door. The wicked tension he'd felt that evening returned at full force. "Well, I noticed he's not exactly … manly. But John makes cruel jokes ... And Brian never said …"

"Well, of course he wouldn't have said it. He's still Brian, isn't he?"

George rubbed his eyes. Jesus, he was an idiot. And then it all came together.

"So that trip with Barcelona, when John and Brian went away together while we were in Tenerife …"

"I don't know anything about it," Paul said. "That's what I say when people ask me about it."

"How many people ask?"

"Enough. Too many."

"But you haven't actually talked to John about it?"

"Would you want to have that conversation?"

George shook his head. He leaned back against the wall of the kitchen.

"You know," Paul approached George, stood next to him. "We've always had an understanding with each other, haven't we? And Cynthia's had a hard enough time being left alone so often with the new baby. There's no need to embarrass either of them, right?"

"I just … I just never thought John would be the type to …"

"We don't know what he did," Paul said, although he didn't say that in the right voice, said it in the type of voice you use for talking to the press, not one of your best friends.

George suddenly felt sick, the tension from before wreaking havoc on the alcohol in his stomach, making it burn. His face felt warm with shame. How could he not have known? Clive's anger. That speech Brian made about never taking advantage of him. Christ, he'd been on the man's bed. George suddenly felt angry … repulsed, even. For a moment he hated Brian and was disgusted at John. What had Brian said to make John do that? Or was John just as much of a queer and all those girls just a lie, then? Who the hell was he associating with? George thought he knew them!

Paul touched George's shoulder, and the tension inside him jumped to a fever pitch. He thought of what he'd done alone that night after meeting Brian, and he thought of how every time he'd been with one of those girls in Hamburg Paul and John had only been a door away. He yanked himself away from Paul.

"What are you doing?" Paul asked, both surprised and hurt.

George sighed. "I'm sorry." He wrapped his arms around Paul, trying to ease his discomfort as Paul hugged him back. "I don't know what came over me," he lied. "God, this must be the worst birthday ever."

Paul chuckled. He slapped George on the back as he pushed himself out of his grasp. "I've had better, yes."

George let Paul walk him outside, even though the gesture still felt uncomfortable. As he waved goodbye, he tried to reconcile what he had just heard with what he knew of Brian and John, and himself.

George liked Brian. He liked Brian a lot. Maybe about as much as he liked John and Paul. And when he thought of how miserable Brian looked that night he felt sorry for his earlier reaction. Brian was a good man. Ever since he became their manager George always felt he had their best interests at heart. Christ, what had he been thinking? Brian meant everything he said that night. George knew that, and George knew Brian would treat John the same way. Besides, if anyone was more likely to push something like that it would be John, wouldn't it?

George asked himself how John could do that with Brian. Then, before he could stop, George asked himself if he could with Brian. Or maybe not with Brian.

God, he was being daft. George sighed and tried to push it out if his head. This would all make more sense in the morning, he told himself. He'd drunk too much. He'd heard some insane news. He just needed time to work this out. That was all.

That was all.

~*~*~

One week later, George still had trouble looking his bandmates in the eye.

He couldn't quite explain why he'd been feeling so weird, why he wanted to flinch when one of the guys – especially Paul or Brian – touched him, or why jokes that he once laughed at with a clear conscience now made him fidgety. Usually he had no need to do so. They were back on tour now, and their schedules were so packed that he could temporarily lose his unease on the bright lights of the stage or in the controlled madness of traveling.

During downtime, it was a little harder. Usually John and Paul had presence and energy enough for the four of them, and while George liked having fun (or "fun") as much as the rest of them, Ringo had a tendency to throw himself more into it than George, once again leaving George as the quiet, standoffish one. It wasn't so bad. Actually, at his most calculated and predatory George could admit it worked incredibly well for him when it came to getting women. And at times like this – his most introverted, it was also nice to have them as something of a shield.

Or it was, until John seemed to turn on him.

Once, when George was trying to practice on one of the beds in their hotel room, John accidentally bumped against his back. Before he could tell himself not to, George instinctively curled in on himself, around his guitar.

"What's with you?" John asked. He sounded like he'd been keeping that question back for days.

George turned his body away from John. "Nothing."

"Nothing, eh?" John stepped closer to him.

Aiming to ignore him, George began to play on his guitar again. John gripped onto George's shoulders, massaged them. George yanked himself away from his grasp.

"Oi! Leave me alone."

John laughed, then reached out a hand and tickled George on the side. George knocked his hand away, but John was persistent. His hands kept attacking George, looking for new places to tickle or poke him.

"Don't touch me!" John squeaked, in a high-pitched parody of George's voice. "Don't touch me! Don't touch me!"

Paul suddenly entered the room. Embarrassed, George took the momentary distraction as the opportunity to pull away from John.

"Heh. The skinny little priss's feelings are hurt. Macca, give him a hug. That'll make him right as rain."

George tried to walk into the room Paul had just left.

"So you want it to be private, eh?"

"Come on, don't pick on him," Paul said.

"Aw, look George. You got a big strong man to protect you. Isn't that sweet?"

George closed the door behind him, hating the both of them. When Ringo asked him what was wrong, George blamed it on having a bad day.

He really did try to get himself out of his funk. He knew the way he was treating the others was wrong. John kept it difficult, though. Over the next two weeks John made a game out of trying to touch him whenever his back was turned, and if he wasn't doing that, he teased George mercilessly.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you needed to get laid," John said once. "Are birds not working out for you anymore? Maybe your keeper can fix that one."

George pretended he didn't hear that, even if the words made his blood run warm.

Although, that incident was nothing compared to another that occurred later. It only lasted a minute. The band was getting ready to go onstage at a concert, and as the announcer spoke, John leaned over to George, whispered in his ear.

"Paul would, you know. He told me."

George stared at John, his mouth open in shock. John just smiled.

The announcer said their names.

~*~*~

With John's revelation, George couldn't deny what he wanted, now. The thrill he felt whenever Paul was near, the thrill that hearkened back to the Reeperbahn and that afternoon with Brian – George now had to acknowledge it. He had to admit to the siren call of an experience new and different and absolutely forbidden ….

More than once he'd thought about it. More than once he'd let his gaze linger on Paul or his body a little longer than normal. Sometimes, when he did this, he would catch John staring at him, giving him the same smile he had before the concert. (George couldn't help but feel there was something weirdly smug about it.) Other times, Paul would look back, as if trying to measure something, and then he would shrug and neither would say anything.

The tension was driving George insane. At one point he even thought of talking to Brian about it, but then George remembered how he'd reacted to learning the news about him and realized how much of an insensitive jerk he'd be.

Still, he wasn't prepared to do anything about it. The idea of going to Paul and actually asking him would assuredly be humiliating, and even if Paul did want it, that wasn't an assurance he would say "yes." So he determined to put it out of his mind, anyway, even if it wasn't easy.

~*~*~

Then John, once again, forced the issue.

As soon as the latest concert was over and the four of them were all inside their hotel room in London – a suite with a living room and two bedrooms, this time – John whispered something to Mal, who stood sentinel by the door, then locked the door behind him. George noticed John carried a large cool-box under his arm.

Ringo placed his suitcase down by the side of the couch. "What was that about?" he asked.

John smiled. "I told Mal to send all the girls away. Thought we haven't had a night to ourselves in awhile."

Paul, who was loosening his tie, frowned. "You could have asked us first instead of deciding this on your own."

"Oh come off it," John knelt down next to the coffee table and placed the box on top of it. "You can go one night without cunt, can't ye?"

"That's not the point," Paul said, although he sat down in the chair opposite the couch and coffee table, assumedly considering himself to have just said his piece.

George followed suit and sat cross-legged on the floor next to the table. Ringo sat next to John on the couch.

"What's in the box?" Ringo asked.

John opened it, revealing four glasses and multiple bottles of Krombacher Pils sitting in ice.

"Thought we'd remember the old days," John said. He handed a glass to Ringo.

"As if I'd forget," Paul said. He took a glass and a bottle for himself.

"Yeah," George said. "I think we drank enough of this in Hamburg to piss it for a year."

"So you don't want any, then?" John asked.

George reached out his hand for a glass.

They spent the next hour or so like that, chatting and drinking, telling jokes as John offered again and again to fill up the glasses of the others. About three glasses in, George felt more comfortable with the others than he had in awhile. Although it helped that John was being particularly nicer than normal.

"More?" John asked, and he poured George another glass. It took a few minutes for George to realize John hadn't waited for a response.

After six glasses, George noticed John seemed more intent on filling up the others' glasses than drinking from his own. In fact, George was starting to suspect John hadn't even finished his second.

Then, while drinking his seventh, things started to get weird.

"So," John leaned forward, folded his hands and rested his elbows on his knees. "I think we have some unfinished business here, don't we?"

George immediately felt his stomach drop. He looked over at Paul. Paul seemed about as out of it as he did. He half-sat, half-lay across the chair, rubbing his left eye with his index finger.

"John," Paul muttered. "I don't think this is the time for that …"

"Time for what?" Ringo asked. He looked the worst of all of them. He'd been lying on the couch, almost asleep, and pushed himself up off it after he asked the question.

"Oh, don't tell me you haven't seen it," John said. "The two of them can't keep their eyes off each other."

Ringo looked at George, then at Paul, then at John again. "What?" he repeated.

"He's making jokes," Paul said. He stretched as he forced himself to sit upright in the chair. "He's been picking on George for weeks."

"Oh? I don't hear him defending himself," John stared straight at George. "That's why you're not talking, isn't it? Too busy wondering what big brother Paulie's spunk tastes like?"

George could feel the blood drain out of his face.

Ringo glared at John. "What is wrong with you? Is making fun of Brian all the time not enough, now?"

"Tell me I'm wrong, George."

George immediately wished he hadn't drunk so much, wished he could think of some snappy comeback. "No," he finally said.

"'No,' I'm wrong or 'No,' you don't want to?"

"Leave me alone."

John snorted, leaned back on the couch. "Oh, I see how it is."

The chair beneath Paul screeched across the floor as he stood up. "That's enough, John!"

"'That's enough.' 'Stop it.' 'Leave me alone.' Funny, I never hear 'I'm not a queer,' from any of you."

"I think it'd go without saying," Ringo said acidly.

"I don't know …," John picked up his glass, slowly rotated it about the rim in his hand. "I don't think you can ever really know the whole of a person. Didn't you say that to me once, Paul?"

Paul crossed his arms and looked away from John.

"Come on, we're among friends, aren't we? Don't tell me none of you were ever curious." John had his eyes on George again. "Isn't that right, George? No harm in trying it just once, eh?"

"John –"

"Let him fucking speak for himself, Paul!" John said, never breaking his gaze. "Come on, George. I think even you know you want it by this point. Why don't you go for it, eh? Nobody here will say a thing, will we, boys?"

George couldn't do anything but look back at John. The beer was slowing down his thinking, was making him horny. The truth was he did want it, but he wanted to walk away just as much, and at this point he didn't know what would be worse.

(He supposed the manly response to this situation would be to punch John in the face, but that was even more unthinkable than what he really, really wanted to do.)

"Come on," John cooed. "Come on, George." It was almost like hypnosis.

"John, please," Paul said. "If he doesn't want to, don't make him –"

"It's all right," George said. His voice came out quiet. He wasn't even sure if it was audible over his thick breath, but the shocked look on Paul's face, the triumphant look on John's, showed him that it was.

George crawled over to where Paul stood, sat on his knees in front of him. He reached out his right hand and laid it on Paul's thigh. When Paul didn't knock it away, didn't do anything but look at George in disbelief, George stroked up and down, moved his thigh to Paul's hip.

Please, George thought. Please, Paul, fucking do something. He wasn't sure if he was ready for this, but to be rejected after admitting what he wanted would be incredibly humiliating, almost devastating. The memory of a groupie doing this to him – kneeling in front of him and begging for his cock – came to mind, and he felt both disgusted, then guilty with himself.

Paul stroked his cheek, sighed. For some reason it seemed to George like an apology. Then Paul drew back and unbuckled his belt.

Out of the corner of his eye, George saw Ringo get up. John pulled him back down.

"I'm not watching this!"

"Oh no," John insisted. He wrapped an arm around Ringo's shoulder, holding him down. "We're all in this together."

Paul paused, then pushed down his trousers and underpants all at once. George closed his eyes, choosing to feel for Paul's cock rather than look at it. It felt half firm in his hand. He stroked it a few times, quick and hard. Paul whimpered softly above him. Then, before George could think about it anymore, he closed his mouth around Paul's hard cock, shoved it back in his throat.

The mass of it struck him at first. Paul's cock reached back farther in his mouth than he expected, made him gag. George pulled his mouth away, coughed.

"Are you all right?" Paul asked.

George nodded. He wiped his mouth with the back of his left hand, his right still wrapped around Paul.

"Got a little too excited there, eh?" John asked.

George ignored him. He tried again, taking Paul in his mouth slower this time. He began by sucking it – just the tip at first, then progressively deeper and deeper as he moved his mouth up and down the shaft. Paul responded to it well, moaning low in the back of his throat. It made George bolder, less ill at ease.

He started to use his tongue, trailing it against the underside of Paul's cock as he sucked. The taste was what struck him at first, the pre-cum salty and slightly sour in his mouth. It did something to his head. He'd been eager before, but John's teasing had left him too embarrassed to get truly excited. Now that'd changed, and George could feel his own cock strain against his trousers.

George wanted to reach down, undo his fly and touch himself, but he was still conscious of John and Ringo watching him. He opened his eyes, glanced over at them. John still held onto Ringo's shoulders. His mouth was close to Ringo's ear, whispering something George couldn't hear, and John ran a hand up and down Ringo's thigh. Then, George saw Ringo lean his head back and moan, saw John reach inside Ringo's pants.

It was strange. It should have been humiliating, having his friends watching him and wanking each other like that. Yet, among many other things, the events of the past year had given him a very strong taste for being presented as an object of desire. He felt more aroused than ever. He gripped the back of Paul's thighs, pushed him forward and took him further back in his throat than ever. This time, he didn't gag.

Paul cried out – sudden and loud. His hands moved over the back of George's head, ran through and twisted in his hair. George moaned around Paul's cock, and Paul made another desperate noise. Paul gripped onto him harder, making him cry out, then held his head still and fucked his mouth.

"Ahhh, that's it," John purred, his voice temporarily drowning out Ringo's harsh breathing. "That's it."

George wasn't sure he liked it so much. He struggled not to choke, breathed harshly through his nose, as Paul hit the back of his throat again and again. Yet it didn't last long. Paul let out a strained, harsh cry, then came.

The liquid – salty and hot – filled his mouth, dribbled down his lips as Paul pulled out. George struggled to keep it in as he groped for the nearest glass he could find, then spat into it, panting when he was done.

George wiped his mouth, trying to clean it, although the taste of Paul's come lingered on his mouth despite his efforts. He raised his head to look at the others. Paul had collapsed back into the chair, his trousers tangled about his ankles and his cock mostly limp in his lap. Ringo looked back at him, his eyes wide and confused. George had no idea what was going through his mind, wasn't sure if it was judgment or arousal or pity. Then there was John, smiling, triumphant John. His eyes made George want to sink into the floor. George was still incredibly horny, his cock fully erect inside his clothes, and even though he was on his hands and knees on the floor, crouched so John probably couldn't see him well, it seemed like John nevertheless knew everything he felt.

"Well, that was far too short," John complained. "I thought alcohol was supposed to keep you going for longer, Paulie. Are you that bad or is George that good?"

"Fuck you," Paul said.

John laughed, ran a hand through Ringo's hair. "Look at the poor things. I just barely got Ringo here ready. And George looks likely to explode. You're not going to leave the boy like that, are ye? He's so desperate and ready for you. I bet he'd even take it in the arse for you."

George inhaled sharply. He glanced back at Paul, hoping he didn't look as pathetic as he felt.

"Why don't you take off your clothes?" John asked. "Maybe that'll get him going again."

"John …" Ringo protested. "They don't have to. We can just …"

"No," George stood up slowly, his legs shaky and weak. "It's okay." He took off his jacket, pulled his turtleneck over his head.

"George …" Paul got to his feet, pulled his pants up around his waist in an attempt to cover himself. "You don't have to do that. I can suck you off, too. I don't mind."

"I'm fine," George said, bitterly this time. The truth was he wasn't fine, but he wanted more and he was tired of the others protecting him. He wasn't 17 anymore, and was starting to resent how they continued to treat him as if he were.

George removed his trousers. He tried to ignore how exposed he felt as he lay himself on the coffee table, let his legs hang open. Paul stood at the end of the table, near George's feet. Paul palmed his cock, then leaned over and stroked George's hair.

"You should turn over," Paul said. "The girls say it's easier that way."

"Oh, yes," John said. "The girls say that."

"You're one to talk," Paul snapped back.

John glared at him. George didn't want to say anything, but considering John's hand was still buried in Ringo's pants, he thought Paul had a good point.

George turned himself over, his arms wobbling as he got on all fours. Paul's hands slowly ran up his back, gently pushed his shoulders down to the table. George let his upper body collapse to Paul's guiding touch, folded his arms together and rested his forehead on them.

"I suppose you have something for this?" Paul asked John.

George heard John laugh, then the sound of something being caught. After a minute, George felt a cool, slick liquid being slathered on him. He moaned through his gritted teeth. It made him feel vulnerable, yet the sensation was so good it was tempting not to care.

Paul's fingers pressed lightly against his entrance, ready to push in. "Tell me if this hurts."

"Pansy," John said.

Paul pushed one finger inside. It didn't quite hurt, but it didn't go in easy. The finger felt far thicker than it should have, and whenever Paul pulled away George's body seemed eager to push it out.

George was unsure if he could do this, was almost ready to call it off. Then Paul leaned over him, stroked his neck with his left hand.

"Relax," Paul whispered. "It's okay, George. It's just me. Don't worry about John. Just let go. Let go and it won't hurt. I promise."

George moved his head so he could see Paul's face. Paul smiled at him, and while a part of him resented being talked to this way – thought of Paul giving this same speech to any number of girls he bedded, another part of him remembered getting the same smile whenever Paul greeted him in the morning on the bus, whenever they snuck away to meet John at the art school, whenever they weren't playing in Hamburg and had a moment to themselves. Something inside him ached, and even though he still wanted this desperately, he wished it hadn't happened this way.

Paul tried to push another finger inside, and George forced himself to relax, told himself to do so over and over. The second one went in easier, and eventually George found he could tolerate the extra intrusion. Then, just when he started to get used to it, he felt something much thicker enter him.

The first thrust shocked him, took his breath away. He heard Ringo say something, but it seemed to be strangled into another cry of pleasure. George told himself to put it out of his head, to try to enjoy it.

Paul started to move inside him. Relaxed, George had to admit it felt better than he had expected. It didn't feel as satisfying as fucking someone. Even now his cock ached to be touched, was stiff and wet with precum. Yet being entered this way, feeling his body adapt to the invasion before forcing it out again; it felt incredible, sent waves of pleasure throughout his body.

The thrusts had come slowly at first, but as George became more and more used to it, Paul increased his pace, pushed harder. George tried to push back, but his body still rocked against the table. He had been mostly silent, but now he couldn't keep back the small, embarrassing noises of pleasure.

Despite what Paul had said, George looked over at John and Ringo. They weren't watching them anymore. John had Ringo's cock out of his trousers now, stroked him rapidly. Meanwhile, John's face was buried in Ringo's neck, sucking on it. Ringo tossed his head back and, with a loud, low groan, came over John's hand.

George couldn't take it anymore. "Paul. Paul, toss me off. Please."

"Hold on," Paul said, his breath heavy. His thrusts came faster than ever, and before George realized what was happening, Paul's second orgasm rang in his ears. He came deep inside him, although as Paul pulled out, George could feel Paul's come dripping out of his body.

"Please," George moaned again, and Paul finally, mercifully touched him. It only took him three strokes before he came.

When it was over George let himself drop onto the table. His limbs felt weak. His eyes had trouble focusing. It was if, he realized, his body suddenly remembered he was drunk. He could feel Paul's hands on his shoulders again, let himself be coaxed until he was sitting upright.

When George did sit up, when he had a chance to look at the others, he saw Ringo looked even worse than he did. Ringo lay half-sprawled on the couch, his eyes fluttering, as he was struggling to stay awake, until they finally closed. Meanwhile, John wiped his come-stained hand on Ringo's trousers, smiled at the others.

"Well, I think we learned a lot," he said. "Ta." He stood up and walked into one of the bedrooms, closing the door behind him.

George looked at Ringo, who showed no signs of waking up again anytime soon, then at Paul. Paul continued to rub his shoulders, a smile on his face.

"You all right?" he asked.

George nodded.

"That's good. I'd worried you weren't. You looked so nervous, I couldn't be sure. But, well, John said you'd told him you wanted me to do this. I guess he was right."

The second-to-last sentence hit George like a splash of cold water. He suddenly didn't feel so drunk anymore.

"John … John said I told him I wanted you to fuck me."

Paul nodded. "I couldn't believe it. You reacted so badly to hearing about Brian but … well, you're all right now, aren't ye?"

George didn't respond.

Paul's face fell. "George?"

"I … I should take a shower."

George stood up, and stumbled toward the bathroom, ignoring Paul's entreaties as he closed the door. Part of him felt bad about it, knew he was making Paul worry, but another part of him, a bigger part, didn't care.

End Part One.