He knew the gig was over when the man in the front row dropped his trousers. He'd been right in the middle of a bit, frantically pushing to keep the rhythm going, and then a man in the audience stood up, slurring, "You're shit!" at top volume, and then Julian was staring at the vast expanse of a flat, smooth rear end. The rest of the bit vanished from his head. The audience finally started laughing, mocking and sharp around the edges, and for a minute he was afraid he was going to be sick again, right on stage and not locked safely out of sight in the gents' toilets.
The only thing he could think to do was move upstage, singing in half lullaby and half folk song, "Hey there, Mr. Moon…shining doon…" For whatever reason, the man in the front row seemed to realize where he was then and pulled his trousers back up as he stumbled, cursing, towards the exit. Julian called a halt to his set shortly afterwards, to what he imagined was everyone's relief.
The wise thing to do, he thought, was probably go drown his sorrows in some Guinness, but he didn't want to walk up and have the other comics try to pacify him, or deal with the stares of any lingering audience members. He was sure there was an off-license open somewhere.
He ducked into the corner shop for a six-pack, ten minutes before closing. The car was in the garage, so in order to face the Tube he went round the back and chugged two cans, one after the other, lit a cigarette and squared his shoulders.
He was buzzed but not pissed when he got back to the flat. He put his Guinness in the fridge, got rid of the empty cans and put the kettle on. It was too late for him to play his records or noodle around on the guitar without bothering the rest of the flat, and he felt too jittery to watch television. He was hoping he could make his tea and retreat to his bedroom, but as he was heating the milk up Liam came into the kitchen, bright-eyed and smiling because he'd probably just had a brilliant musical idea or something.
"All right, Julian," Liam said. "Just get back?"
"Yep," Julian said, and turned the heat down on the hob.
"Do anything exciting?"
"No," Julian said. The kettle went off.
"Were you…working? Wherever it is you work?"
"Yep," he repeated. He wondered if he should offer to make Liam a cup of tea. Maybe it would offset how much of a prick he knew he was being. He couldn't seem to stop himself. The idea of talking about his job with anybody was too terrifying to even contemplate.
"Well, good chat then," Liam said. He opened the fridge. "Hey, is this your Guinness? Can I have one?"
"All right," Julian said. Liam took a can and headed back to his room, where Julian knew he would put on his headphones and attempt to edit sound on his cheap computer.
Julian looked into his teacup and didn't find any answers in it. The memory of the gig was still there, and the only thing that was keeping him from days of rumination of how he'd fucked up was sheer force of will.
He had a little Julian in his head, un petit Pettifer, and somehow little Julian was so much better at everything than real Julian. In his head, no one was funnier, more clever, more charming, but it never turned to anything tangible. There was nothing he could point to that indicated he was ever going to measure up.
He went round to Tim's on Tuesday. They hadn't had much of a chance to work on The Pod recently; Tim had borrowed a computer from one of his mates and was deep into creating a film about a wolfman in love with the moon. But it was time to discuss practical matters.
Tim greeted him with a can of lager at the door and ushered him into the front room, which was plastered over with sketches in varying stages of completion. Tim's eyes were wide and tired behind his glasses. "I've been scanning all night," he said. "I've got about five hundred more to go."
"What, all by hand?"
"Yeah," Tim said, as if it were a given.
"Can you scan in bulk?" Julian said, wanting to at least try to be helpful. "Put it in the document feed?"
"They don't come out straight. Ruins the quality. It's all right, really. I just fill up on coffee and then get lost in things for a while. Turns out looking decent. Not bad for a little story Waen and I knocked up together, isn't it?"
Waen Shepherd – another Yorkshireman, another musician, another comedian – had worked with The Pod on and off for years, sometimes as a backup dancer, sometimes as a character, swooping in like the conquering hero. He and Tim had clicked instantly.
Julian and Tim had started The Pod based on their shared love of electronic music. The point was that they were a collective more than a traditional comedy act, blending in music and comedy and performance and film together. Over the years they'd seen various performers come in and leave again, and then finally both he and Tim had drifted off and come back together and drifted off again, and somewhere over that period of time, Tim had slowly moved from 'comic' to 'animator,' and Julian wasn't quite sure where that left him.
Tim, using that irritating way he had of reading Julian's mind, said, "I don't know how this will affect The Pod, Julian. Maybe Julie B can go solo. Have his own collective without me dragging him down."
"It hasn't – " Julian started but Tim held up a hand.
"You need someone who's in this for life, Julian. I don't think that's me anymore. You need someone who's going to let you grow."
Julian had the feeling that Tim was probably right. It still meant he was on his own. He finished his lager and took his leave, trying not to notice Tim's sad eyes.
"I've seen you on the telly," the kid told him. "The Open Mic Awards, was it?"
Julian barely remembered the Open Mic Awards. He'd been half-drunk from lager and terror during the actual performance, but it must have gone well because they'd told him he'd won. He mainly remembered standing on stage, naked without the comedy to protect him, feeling like a cross between a nervous schoolboy and a prize pig. The award was still at his parents' home in Leeds.
He didn't know how to say thank you without sounding like a twat. The kid – somewhere between sixteen and twenty, big blue eyes and equally big, badly dyed hair – was smiling winningly at him and Julian knew he had to say something. Julian said, "You've got your hair on backwards."
It was an idiotic thing to say, but the kid just laughed instead of taking offense. "I know, it's ridiculous," he said, and fluffed his fringe. "I take it off at night and then put it back on in the morning, and sometimes I don't get the angle quite right."
"A hair hat," Julian said. He was thinking that he was a little drunk.
The kid laughed again. "That's good, yeah. I'm Noel. Fielding. I'm a comedian, too. My material's a bit like yours."
Julian raised an eyebrow at him. The kid – Noel – looked barely old enough to be even walking, much less performing.
Noel turned bright pink but didn't mention it, so Julian wasn't going to either. "Come and have a drink with us," Noel said. He had slightly rabbitty front teeth, a crooked back molar that showed when he smiled. Julian felt oddly connected to him, which might have been because of the teeth.
"Yeah, all right," Julian said.
Noel led him to the table where his mates were. Julian shook hands and tried to be polite as they offered congratulations. Most of the names passed by in a blur, but two of them seemed to form a set with Noel – Nigel, dark and professorial, and Dave, fair-haired and blue-eyed with the face of a leprechaun. From what Julian could gather from the chatter around him, they were all somehow connected with the art college in Croydon.
It suddenly dawned on him that he was absolutely in the way like he always was. They were probably all going to go do something exciting and arty that he wouldn't understand, and everyone was probably wondering who the tall Northern weirdo was sat at their table. His hands felt too big and his thought was, You need to get out of here now before you say something stupid.
"Need to be off, I'm afraid," Julian said, downing the rest of his drink.
Noel, surprisingly, looked disappointed. "But you've only just sat down. Do you want another drink?"
He wanted about ten more drinks, which was about the number where he felt comfortable. "Got to get moving along."
"Oh," Noel said, still strangely crestfallen. "Where are you playing next? I'd like to come see you again."
Julian told him about the gig he was doing on Wednesday, and the smile was back in full force. "I'll see you there then," Noel said, and Julian really thought he meant it.
Noel came to his next gig, and the next, and the next, and the one after that, until Julian got used to seeing him, until he began looking for Fielding's bizarre hair in the crowd. Sometimes Dave came along, or Nigel, or sometimes it was an ever-changing entourage of art school students, canny, sharp-featured boys and punky, glamourous girls, all trailing in Noel's wake.
Noel sought him out after every show, buying him drinks, laughing at things he said. He kept assuring Julian that he was a comedian, too, but he was cagey when Julian asked what clubs he'd performed at. Julian half-suspected Noel was lying to try to impress him. The other half of him was curious to see what Noel was capable of.
When he saw Noel's act – when the other comic on the bill decided to fuck off and Julian had only to slightly nudge Noel in the direction of the stage – he thought, Well, hello, sir. Noel was very young and very raw, but there was a whimsical poetry in his delivery, an intriguing sense of melancholy behind the absurdity. It would have been nice if Noel had been a little less good, justified Julian's suspicious nature as well as not making him work so hard on his own performance when he got up on stage after Noel, but nobody ever got everything they wanted.
When he went to the bar after the show, hoping to find a quiet moment to congratulate Noel, Noel saved him the trouble by breaking away from the crowd of people singing his praises and coming up to him. He raised shining eyes toward Julian's and said, "I told you I knew what I was doing! It went all right, didn't it? Did you think it was all right?" His emotions were spilling out of his Camden-cool body, adrenaline and gratification, and it had been a long time since Julian had met anyone with that much pure need and love of performing. Anything he could say paled in comparison.
He gave Noel a ride back to his flat – some student tip near the college. Noel, suddenly shy, said, "Do you want to come in for a cup of tea?"
"Yeah, all right," Julian said. He was tired and sweaty but full of the sense of something about to happen, so when Noel followed up the offer with a mock-serious look and a promise that he'd never leave, what really surprised Julian was that for the first time in a while, he had no desire to.
He'd gathered up enough contacts over his years of knocking about the standup world to know that if he and Noel had the right script, they could show up at the Paramount door and come away with funding for a program, or even a film. They just had to write the show first.
"Something like the Goodies," he told Noel over the phone. "The Goodies with a John Coltrane soul."
"I don't understand jazz," Noel said. "Something a bit more rock and roll. Chuck Berry soul."
"Johnny B. Goodies," Julian said.
Noel laughed. "Exactly. I'll practice my duck walk."
Noel's flat was cramped even by student standards and had no privacy, so Julian brought him round to his. He didn't think they could write effectively in the front room, so he brought Noel into his bedroom, steeling himself for cracks about his lack of furniture. The first big paycheck Julian ever had, he'd spent on a frankly enormous bed that filled his room. He had enough problems sleeping that he needed a comfortable bed, and he was tall and had no desire to squeeze his giraffe legs and hulking shoulders into a tiny mattress.
Noel was enthralled. "I've never had a bed like this," he told Julian. "You could race horses on it. It's brilliant."
Julian didn't know why he continued to be surprised by Noel's enthusiasm. Maybe there was a point where it ran out, but he hadn't found it yet.
He couldn't very well be rude and not say anything, so he said, "I've got a small horse, actually."
"Do you now."
"Yeah. Called Zanzibar. Take him out for a canter over the duvet. He loves it."
"You make him a paddock out of the pillowcases."
"He eats my sheets every night. I've been telling him not to." Julian sprawled out over the mattress. "We'd better get to work before he comes back."
It was Julian's first prolonged exposure to the Fielding brain, and it was an experience. Noel seemed to have ten different ideas generating at once, most of them funny, linked together by occasionally tenuous logic and delivered at considerable speed. It was all Julian could do to write them down.
It was only when Noel said, "A jungle, but an English jungle, full of carnivorous hedgehogs and bear-size badgers," that Julian stopped writing. Noel looked at him. "What? What did I say?"
"That's the place to start," Julian said. "The forest. You start from that place and we can go anywhere. Once the rules are in place, we can hang anything we like from the structure. A forest full of dragons. Two woodcutters in search of a mystic animal. Forest rangers who get tired of the forest and start a zoo. Flying from one part of the forest to another."
"Like –" Noel held out his hands. "I – I'm better with drawings than words," he said apologetically. Julian handed him the pen and paper and watched him scribble, lower lip drawn in between his teeth. Noel handed the paper back, saying, "It's rough, but –" There were two figures in obvious flight, carrying rucksacks and axes, a smoking cannon underneath.
Julian smiled. "Exactly."
He didn't remember falling asleep. He remembered that it was late, and his hand was cramped from writing, and Noel was yawning, and he thought he'd stop writing for just a minute. He must have fallen asleep shortly afterward, because the next thing he knew his mouth felt like it was full of hot sand and there was something that felt like a moth wing brushing against his cheek. He cracked an eye open.
What he'd thought was a moth was Noel, brushing his fingertips against Julian's face. "What," Julian mumbled.
"Julian," Noel said, voice sleep-thick and urgent, "Julian, I'm sorry, but – I've really got to piss."
"'S down the hall on the right," Julian said and shut his eyes again.
"I know, but I can't actually move."
He wondered if Noel was crazy. Then he realized that the reason Noel couldn't move was because Julian had somehow wrapped himself around him like an octopus and one of his legs was pinning Noel down. His hand had crept underneath Noel's shirt and his fingers were pressed against a fleshy nub that was most definitely a nipple.
"Oh, God," Julian said and rolled over to the other edge of the bed. Too embarrassed to even state the embarrassment, he curled his legs up and shut his eyes. He heard Noel hurrying across the floor and shutting the door.
You stupid fucking cunt, Julian told himself. He'd ruined everything before it had even begun. He'd had his hand on Noel's nipple. Noel thought he was some old twisted sex pest and he'd tell everyone he knew and never speak to Julian again and Julian would be right back where he started, and it was his own fucking fault. Stupid, stupid, failure, cunt.
He heard the door open and kept his eyes shut. "Julian?" Noel said.
Julian didn't answer. If Noel had anything to tell him, he could tell it to Julian's back. It would make things easier.
"I've got a brother," Noel said.
It was the last thing Julian expected to hear, and it startled him so much that he turned his head. Noel was sitting cross-legged on the bed, fidgeting with his hair. "What?" Julian said.
"I've got a brother. He's eight years younger than me. We shared a room when we were younger and – when he was really little, he'd get scared at night. It was usually my fault, because I would fill his head up with stories about the ice monster who lived in the fridge or the things that lived under his bed or whatever, I'd drive him mad. So when he got scared he used to get into my bed. I'd tell him it was a hassle, but – I never really minded. It was…cozy. The two of us, safe as houses."
Julian looked at him. Noel's face was absurdly hopeful. "Cozy," Julian said.
"Yeah. Also I figured if the ice monster attacked, I'd just toss Mike at him and run away. No point in him eating the both of us."
"You're ridiculous," Julian said, but he was reasonably satisfied that he wasn't about to be abandoned. "You hungry? I could rustle up some eggs and toast."
"Yeah, awright. Just brush your teeth first. Hippopotamus breath."
"Fuck off," Julian huffed, but went to brush his teeth.
They got into a discussion about seventies television shows in the kitchen over breakfast. At some point Liam came staggering in, bleary-eyed and probably late for work. He gave both of them a puzzled look. Noel said cheerfully, "Awright, mate?" and Liam waved at him before grabbing his tea and heading out. "Nice bloke," Noel said and crunched into his toast.
When Noel told him about his idea for a character with the legs of a ram who wandered the forest looking for a wife, Julian nearly fell off the bed laughing. Encouraged, Noel went in the character voice – deep and slightly posh, with a musical lilt to it. Julian said, "He sounds like he's singing."
Noel nodded. "I thought he could sing. About looking for someone and not wanting to be alone."
"I'll get the guitar," Julian said.
He thought a simple Old English ballad style of playing would fit best, so he strummed and let Noel improvise the lyrics. Noel sat with his legs to his chest, and when he sang, "Or will I always be alone?" Julian saw the melancholy he'd sensed with Noel on the first night, suddenly open and laid bare.
He'd stopped playing the guitar, and Noel looked at him. Julian said, "He should have someone to sing to. So he's not just wandering the woods by himself."
Noel thought about it. "Yeah, we could bring someone else in. Give the song some direction."
"A duet," Julian said. "I can probably change the music up when they come together. Make it a bit more psychedelic. So he's building his energy up and then he –"
Noel smirked. "Musically ejaculates?"
"Sure, if you like."
Noel's face brightened. "Genius."
He woke up late, and hungover, and the one thing he felt capable of doing was getting tea. He stumbled into the kitchen and put the kettle on. He was fumbling in the cupboard for his mug when Liam came in.
"All right, Julian," Liam said.
"All right," Julian said. "Want a cup?"
"Yeah, sure," Liam said. He watched Julian take the mugs down. "Uh, Julian?"
"Yeah," Julian said.
"My cousin's gay."
Julian blinked. "Well, good?"
"And my manager at work, I think she's gay too. And I don't have a problem with it."
Julian stared at him. Liam said, "And everyone else in the flat feels the same way. So we don't want you to ever feel like you can't talk to us, or –"
"You think I'm gay," Julian said.
"We – aren't you?"
"You think I'm gay," Julian said. The absurdity of it all suddenly hit him and he began laughing.
Liam flushed. "Well, you can't blame us, can you? Noel comes over all the time and you two lock yourselves in your room and laugh all night, and then in the morning he's here making breakfast with you. And ever since he's been around you've been all smiley and happy instead of being a miserable Northern bastard like you usually are. If he's not your – boyfriend, then –"
"He's – he's my – we're writing a film together," Julian said. "I met him at work."
"Oh," Liam said. "That's different. Well, even if you were gay, that'd be fine too."
"Wow, thanks," Julian said. "Still want tea?"
"Yeah, all right."
They had to make money somehow, so both of them were still performing. Noel still came to Julian's gigs (Julian could usually tell when he was there by the raucous, squawking Fielding laugh), but now Julian would come to Noel's gigs and hang around the back watching Noel's ever-growing coterie laughing in the audience.
He could tell that Noel was struggling a bit this night. His focus was off and the story was getting away from him, which Julian knew had to be upsetting for him. Noel pushed himself incredibly hard to make his routines airtight while still seeming ramshackle. The members of the audience who weren't Noel's mates were getting restless.
When the drunk in the audience shouted, "Fuck off, queer," Julian saw Noel crumble. His head whipped around, blue eyes blazing and lips white with fury, and the audience was already drawing in its breath before Noel said, in full South London snarl, "I'll rip your fucking face off, you cunt."
There was no coming back from it, and Julian could see the realization on Noel's face. He walked off stage without saying his closer. Julian pondered finding the heckler and punching him in the eye, but Noel was more important.
Noel wasn't in the bar, or in the tiny closet the club called a green room, so Julian went outside. Noel was leaning against the wall in the alley behind the club, glowering at nothing and alternating biting the tip of his thumb and sucking it. People on the street were walking past and looking suspiciously at him, and Noel didn't glance up but he curled further into himself with every stare.
Julian put his elbow on the wall and positioned himself so he was blocking the view into the alley with his shoulders, keeping Noel out of sight. If someone wanted to stare, they could stare at Julian.
"Who the fuck does he think he is, anyway," Noel said, not looking at Julian. "Is this how he fucking lives his life? His boss does something he doesn't like and he just shouts at them? Why didn't he just get up and fucking leave if I was so fucking bad? Shouting out like a maniac. Fuck him."
Julian didn't say anything. Better to let Noel vent as much as he wanted.
"I know it wasn't the best thing ever, but you just don't go around shouting at people. I mean, sorry if I'm not an absolutely perfect person. I still don't like being shouted at. Maybe I'm shit at everything, but I'm still a person."
"You're not shit at everything."
"That fucking routine is shit," Noel said. "I can't get it right. I've tried and tried. They could at least pretend not to notice if I'm horrible."
"People get drunk and they think they can shout at you," Julian said. "You know your material's good, Noel. It's just when you tell the audience that you're going to kill them that they get a bit scared."
Noel's shoulders slumped. "I lost my temper. He caught me off guard and I – I'm still pretty shit at everything."
"You had a bad night. It happens. You can fix whatever's wrong later."
Noel looked at him. "What if I never get better, Julian?"
"You will," Julian said. "Look, want to come back to mine and do some work? I could use some creative juices."
Noel thought about it. "Yeah, all right. Dave and the others – they're still inside. I don't want to go back in there."
"I'll tell them," Julian said. "I'll drive you back. Take the keys."
When Julian went back in, Dave looked worriedly at him with round blue eyes and asked, "Is Noel all right? Julian, do you think it's all right?"
Julian wondered if it was because he was older that everyone seemed to think he had any fucking clue what he was doing. "He's all right. We're going back to the flat to work on the script. I'll talk to you later, yeah?"
"He takes things hard," Dave said.
"Yeah," Julian said. "I've got him."
When Julian got to the car, Noel was hunched in the passenger seat. Julian started the car and Noel looked at him and said, "I was shit tonight."
"You didn't seem as confident as you usually are. Are you tired?"
"Knackered," Noel said. "Maybe that's why I shouted at him. That can't be good for the audience, can it? Having some comedian screaming like a drunk supply teacher."
"It's harder to get back in once you get involved with someone calling out. You can't call them a cunt and then go back to talking about your pet wasp."
"Oh, God," Noel said. "Horrible. I don't know why I'm like that. People have been shouting at me since I was five years old. I should be used to it by now. I couldn't walk out of the house without someone calling me a cocksucker." He stared at the windscreen and then turned to give Julian a watery smile. "They didn't know what to make of me."
Julian took a hand off the wheel and rested it on Noel's shoulder. Noel didn't say anything, but leaned silently against Julian's hand.
At the flat, Noel retreated into the bedroom while Julian made tea. When Julian came in, carefully holding the steaming mugs in front of him, Noel was already asleep, curled up on the bed, grunting softly and chittering.
Julian decided not to wake him. He drank his tea, and then Noel's, and then settled down beside him. Noel twitched and then looked at him, still asleep, eyes unseeing.
"Shh," Julian said and ran a hand over the back of Noel's head. Noel made a contented hum in his throat and immediately stilled.
They had enough of a script to begin shopping it around. Julian secured a meeting with a producer whose name he got from a friend of a friend and swore Noel to secrecy about the meeting, not an easy feat considering Noel's chatterbox tendencies.
They sat in the office like schoolboys. Noel was wearing what was probably the Fielding version of a business suit, which was a pink blazer over a skintight button-down and trousers that were too big for him.
The producer seemed to think Julian was in charge, so he went into the pitch with Noel chiming in at appropriate moments. Julian stressed that Boys in the Wood was a takeoff on the Singleton film, to show that they could make cultural references when they needed to.
The producer let them get through the pitch and then said, "First off, love the title."
Julian felt his heart sink, but he kept his face impassive. The producer said, "And I love what you're doing, it's so creative. Julian, I know you're well-known on the standup circuit, and Neil –"
"Noel," Noel corrected softly.
"Noel, you've…you've been in…you're obviously very creative. My main concern is that you're not going to find the funding that you need to film this. I mean, you've got yourselves flying out of cannons, jumping into different sets, different locations, all with their own set of characters…this isn't a program, it's a universe."
"We can scale back," Julian said. "We want it to look homemade, don't we?"
"Even homemade would cost millions of pounds," the producer said, looking a bit stricken. "It's just…there isn't enough money in the world for what you're trying to do. I'm sorry."
Afterwards, they sat in Julian's car trying to process what had just happened. Julian said, "Well, that could have gone better."
Noel was chewing on his index finger. "Are you sorry you ever met me?"
Julian blinked at him. "What?"
"I – I know I don't look like a good investment. If one of your mates, one who's not in uni, one who knows what they're doing, if you were working with them instead of me, maybe you could get more money. You could make a brilliant program all by yourself. You're way funnier than I am."
"No," Julian protested. "I don't –" He didn't know what he was trying to say. It was something about how this would have never happened without Noel. It was about how empty he had been without Noel, how lonely, and how he never wanted to let Noel go now that he had him. He didn't know how to say any of that. Finally he just put a hand on Noel's shoulder. "We'll do this together or we won't do it at all, Fielding. They don't like what we've got now? Let's make a new one."
"A new one?"
"Yeah," Julian said. "Fuck them if they don't want to take us on. We'll make the fucking thing ourselves."
"We will, won't we? A better one. Fuck them. Can't even get my name right. Start the car, Barratt, I've got to go buy some supplies."
It took some maneuvering, but Julian managed to score a performance slot at the Hen and Chickens. They'd finally come up with a name – Noel had come up with the name based on his younger brother's hair – and after some serious scaling down of the show, had something that they could actually perform.
They had their first proper rehearsal in Julian's front room. Somehow it got more and more involved, until Noel had a pot on his head and his fingers curled into claws and Julian was wrapped up in a curtain, shouting, and then Liam got home from work.
They both stopped dead, but Liam just looked at them and said, "All right, Julian. Good to see you, Noel," and went to his room.
"Start again?" Julian said from among the curtains.
"Yeah, awright," Noel said, and carried on.
The show went by too fast. It was a rush of hot lights and lager and waiting for the sound cues to hit, and then afterwards it was over and Dave and Nigel and Lee and what seemed like everyone he knew were gathered around him and Noel, telling them how well everything had gone, how funny, and Julian could hardly believe it.
He reeled out of the pub with Noel, still shocked that they were going to get a chance to perform again in a weeks' time, and Noel was laughing and spinning around him, hair still sweaty from the show and eyes gleaming.
The poster Noel and Dave had made to advertise the show was on the wall next to them. There was the name, the Mighty Boosh, and then under it, some disappointed punter had drunkenly written, "are shit."
He and Noel both looked at the writing for a minute. Then Noel looked at him and burst out laughing all over again.
And Julian was laughing too, laughing so hard his stomach hurt and he had to grab onto Noel to keep from falling. They stood in the street, clutching onto each other, and it didn't matter what anyone else would think. It was only Julian and Noel, and Julian told himself to hang onto that moment where they were the only two people in the world.