Sly, Stavros and Loubie were all sitting at a table with their manager, Amin. It was just a small meeting before their next stop. The tour had been going well, feedback was nothing but positive, and the funds coming in were more than any of them had hoped for.
“You heard me… You do know what that is, right Stav?”
Stavros made a noise. “Ach, of course I know what zat iz. I haff just… never seen nor been to one.”
Sly smiled and nudged at the blond man. “True, but it’d be fun, right?”
Stav was quiet for a moment. Loubie just looked from one bandmate to the other in hopes of an answer.
“…Ja, it would be fun…” His tone wasn’t very convincing, but deep down, he was actually quite excited. It was true, he’d never been to a pride parade or even seen one. But, the stories he’d heard, the experiences he’d been told. It sounded like a one-day paradise and he wanted in on it.
“Then it’s settled!” The boys looked up, watching as their boss fiddled with his phone. “I’ll get everything ready. We play in five days. That should be enough time to get your wardrobe, hotel and even some free time to enjoy Pride itself.” The tiger got up from his seat, a grin plastered on his face. “It’ll be a blast, just you wait.”
The boys watched as he left, Loubie being the first to speak after a small pause.
“Sooo… What do people do at this parade thing?”
Sly thought for a moment. “Well, Loubie my man. I know for sure they show off some fresh colors. It’s always so bright and welcoming. My uncle once said, ‘It’s probably the one place on earth you’ll ever feel at home.’ Him and his husband were always telling me about how fun these things are. Always full of love and good energy.”
“Zat isn’t much to go on, Sly… Vhat… vhat if something bad happens? There’s…so much going on in ze verld right now… I just…”
Sly wrapped a reassuring arm around his best friend. “Now now, Stav. I know things are bad… but, that’s not the attitude we need going into something so happy. Trust me, it’ll be a day you’ll never want to end. I promise.”
Loubie smiled. “I wonder if we can invite people… Uhm, y’know… like a date? Heh… maybe Cherri would like to go.”
Sly grinned. “Loubie, you smooth operator. You really got it bad for that girl don’t you?” Loubie just smiled and shrugged. Stav actually gave a small smile, happy to see that his friend had found such companionship.
Stav cleared his throat. “S-So… ahem. What… exactly are ve supposed to vear to zis thing?”
“I know a lot of people wear their flags. Y’know, like the Rainbow banner?” Stav nodded and Loubie perked up.
“What’s our flags? There's different ones, right?” Loubie inquired. Stav was next to brighten. Loubie was right, there was one for every part of the spectrum. But… surely they wouldn’t have his, right?
“You know it, lil man. We just gotta get ourselves educated!” He got up and walked over to his bunk, grabbing his laptop and returning to his boys. “Alright boys, let’s get this ball rollin’.”
3 days till PrideFest
Well, getting the info they needed was easy enough. Sly was pretty excited to work with their wardrobe designers to get him something stage-appropriate but still very loud and extra. Loubie’s was simple enough, he was happy just to have had a beanie made for the special occasion. He was also able to get Cherri to come early, happy to spend a couple of days with her as Pride approached.
1 day till PrideFest
Tonight, the boys had just wrapped up a meet and greet with fans, a small bar full of screaming groupies and loving listeners. Stav was a bit overwhelmed by being so up close and personal with a sea of strangers. It wasn’t even their first meet and greet of course, but it certainly was the biggest one thus far.
The night air was cool as it blew over the balcony patio. Stav felt like he couldn’t get enough of it as he sat there in a plush lounge chair. The mugginess from the bar was still heavy in his coat. Maybe a shower would help. He sighed, too lazy to get up, but too uncomfortable to relax.
“Stavros?” Stav didn’t need to look over for who it was. Sly was really the only one who called him by his full first name. “Ja, I’m here…”
Sly walked up, already in his pajamas, consisting only of some loose fitting bell bottoms.
“Hey, chief. You doin’ alright? Thought you’d be in bed by now…” Stav only shrugged.
“Well… can I join you?” Sly asked carefully. The eldest pulled his legs towards himself, making room for his friend on the chair. Sly sat down, looking over his friend.
“You sure you’re okay?” He asked again, adjusting himself in the chair. “Y’know you can always chat me up, man… No secrets, right?” Sly pulled one of Stav’s legs towards him, setting it on his lap.
Stavros watched as his childhood friend untied his laces, slipping the boot and setting it down on the floor. Stav flexed his foot, sighing softly. “I didn’t realize how long we’d been on our feet…” Sly pulled the other leg into his lap, repeating the process. “It has been a long day, brother…” He set the boot down with its twin, Stav giving his toes a wiggle.
“I zink new shoes are in order,” he chuckled a bit. Sly smiled, patting his friend’s thigh.
“You ready to talk? I know this whole concert thing has been bothering you since Amin mentioned it… so… What’s goin’ on in that head of yours?”
You really couldn’t keep anything secret from Sly. That afro of his might make it hard for him to see, but he can see right through you regardless. Stav watched as the hand on his thigh rubbed soothing circles along it.
“…I’m not sure how to feel about… Being fully ‘out’ in public. It’s quite a scary thought, to be honest…” He let his head fall back, eyes focusing on the inky sky. Sly never stopped his actions.
“If It’s been bugging you this whole time, I can only imagine how scary you must think it is…”
“…Ja.” Stav said softly. Sly gently moved the other’s legs off of him, scooting up closer.
“You know, you really don’t have to be scared. And, I know your feelings are not something to ignore… but, think back to when you first came out to me… you told me and we’re still here… and now look at us. We’re touring together, the one dream we’ve had since high school comin’ true…we’re older, but still so young and we’re only just starting to live our life, Stav.”
Stav looked over at his friend, eyes tired and full of worry.
“Look, buddy. It might be scary out there in the world… but, it’s also new and open minded, y’know? Pride will be full of people who are exactly like you, most of them are scared of what people think, but the thought of being happy in your own skin really kicks the fear right out of you…so jus-”
The meaningful words were cut off by a small kiss. It didn’t last long, but it really left an impression. Stav pulled away and smiled. “Since vhen did you get so wise…?” Sly was dumbstruck, his mouth hanging open in shock.
“I-I… uh.” he stuttered, Stav’s hand reach up to close the mouth. “…Thank you Sly…” Stav stood, grabbing his boots.
“Good night…” he muttered softly as he walked back into their suite, leaving his friend still unable to cope with what happened.
Day of the Festival
“What do you mean ‘you didn’t make a wardrobe request?’” Stavros was sitting there in the prep trailer with Loubie and Amin, feeling like a child who was being scolded for not cleaning his room.
“I… I don’t have an excuse.” He sighed, removing his shades and setting them on the counter. “I wanted nothing special. Forgive me, I didn’t mean to cause trouble.”
The manager let out a sigh. “Well, we can’t do much about it now. And where is Sly? It’s an hour to showtime, and I’m not in any mood to have the show delayed.”
“He said that he was runnin’ out to get somethin’,” Loubie spoke up.
“Of course he did…” The manager sighed, rubbing his temples. “Okay…okay, I’m not mad Stavros. But, please. Next time you’re not on board with something, just tell me. Alright? The last thing I want is any of you boys to be is unhappy!”
At this point, Stav was wishing he had stayed in bed. “It’s not that I’m off-board…I just-”
With a rather loud bang, the door to the trailer swung open, causing everyone to jump. But, to Amin and Stavros’ relief, it was Sly.
“….Sieh dich an..” Stav mumbled under his breath as the other waltzed in, completely taken by the other’s outfit.
Amin grinned. “Now that’s what I’m talking about. You look like you’re ready to spread the love!”
“You know it, Boss!” Sly laughed. “Sorry I’m late, everybody. Just scopin’ the layout before we hit the stage.” He rested a hand on Amin’s shoulder. “Hey. You mind giving me and my boys a moment?” Amin nodded.
“Of course. But you’re on stage in an hour. Don’t be late.” The manager patted Stav’s shoulder before exiting the trailer. “It’s all good, Stav. Just relax.”
“Yes, sir,” Stav answered softly. Then they were alone.
“Vell, don’t you look… impressive?” The eldest broke the silence. Sly grinned brightly, causing the other to smile in return. “You like? I totally make this look work.” He spun around, showing off his outfit. “It’s… certainly bright…” Stav noticed a paper bag that was clutched in his friend’s right hand. “You did some shopping?” Sly nodded. “Yeah man, but we’ll get to that later.”
Sly turned to Loubie who was reading his phone, the shorter dog smiling from ear to ear. “Loubayyyy. Lovin’ the hat, man.” Loubie looked up. “Huh? Oh! Yeah, it’s pretty sweet huh?” The beanie was done up in black, gray, white and purple yarn. A representation of the Asexual flag.
“You’re killin’ it, man.” Sly complimented.
Loubie smiled and hopped out of his seat. “Thanks, man. Hey, Cherri is here and I said I’d chill until we go on. I’m gonna bounce!”
“Have fun!” Sly shouted after him as the little dude made his exit, leaving his bandmates to themselves.
Stav sat there looking a bit spaced out. Sly pulled up a seat, placing himself in front of his friend.
“How you doin?” Stav just shrugged. “I got an earful from Amin for not getting a special wardrobe piece for today… I feel a bit bad, but I didn’t want anything special… All the outfits we saw the other day… they looked too… ’Loud.’ That’s not me, I’m not loud…”
Sly nodded. “I can dig it. Not everyone has to dress up today… But… maybe it’d be good to at least get in the spirit of things.” Sly set the paper bag on the counter, walking over to the shelf that belonged to their makeup artist.
“Vhat are you doing?” Sly came back with a small an assortment of bottles that made up the colors of the rainbow. “We’re gettin’ you ready for pride, brother.” He started opening bottles and Stav started to become uneasy. “H-How exactly does pain-!” Sly reached over and put a streak of red along Stav’s cheek. Stav quickly pulled away, wide-eyed as he turned to look at the mirror.
The streak ran along the front of his cheek almost up to his eye. “…U-U-uhm, I don’t zink-” Sly rested his unpainted hand on Stav’s thigh. “Come on Stav…I promise this’ll be good for you… and I swear to not make you look like a clown. Cross my heart!” And he made an ‘X’ over his heart to prove it.
Sly reached over and repeated the process to the other cheek. “Just relax, you sweet thing, I got you…” Regardless of the reassuring words, he remained stiff the entire time Sly painted. Soon, he had crudely painted rainbows on each of his cheeks. He examined the other’s work, actually feeling quite happy with how it looked. It reminded him of a painted warrior, ready to face a battlefield of enemies.
“…I… It’s not bad.”
Sly grabbed the bag he had set down. “Of course not, I said I’d make you look pride ready… and I did.” He held out the bag to his friend, gesturing him to take it.
“Vhat is zis?” Sly just pressed the bag into his friend’s hand. “It’s for you… open it!”
Stav took the bag hesitantly. “….A gift? Really?” He opened it, his eyes widening the moment he caught sight of the bag’s contents.
“…Sly..” the younger man smiled.
“Go on!” Stav pulled out a folded up flag, setting the bag down so he could unfurl it.
“…Vhere did you get this?” He held up the large demisexual banner, his eyes tearing up.
“There was a vendor outside selling all sorts of flags. Thought it’d be nicer for you wear since you didn’t order an outfit.” Stav lowered the flag, looking confused. “…Vear it? How? You can’t vear a flag, Sly.”
“Sure you can!” He took the flag and draped it over his best friend’s shoulders, tying it at the front. “There… see?” Stav turned to look at himself in the mirror, his eyes still very teary.
“…I don’t know vhat to say… I…” He took a deep breath. “…Sank you… You didn’t have to do zis.”
Sly reached into the bag and pulled out a pair of dark purple sunglasses, the lenses in the shape of hearts. “Of course I did…” He slipped the new shades on, smiling happily at how amazing the other looked. “What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t have your back?”
The older man smiled, sniffling a bit. “…Still a better one than me.”
Stav threw his arms around the other in a tight hug. “Sank you, Sly… Zis means so much, you haff no idea…” Sly returned the hug with gusto. “Anytime Stavros… now.” He pulled away.
“How about we go have fun? And no more crying- “ he grabbed a tissue from the counter and patted away the tears. “It’s a happy day, remember? Our fans wouldn’t want us lookin’ sad on such a great day.”
Stav laughed. “Ja… You are right.” He took a deep breath, steadying himself.
Sly and Stav left together, Stav completely engrossed at how the flag he wore flowed in the breeze as him and his friend walked to the stage area. Sly was also enjoying it. Stav had this impossible way of making himself look either distinguished or elegant no matter what he wore. Sly slid his hand against Stav’s, lacing his fingers with the other. Stav stopped in his tracks, looking at the other questioningly. Sly stared back, the two holding a silent conversation as their eyes locked.
The conversation ended with Sly pulling the other along. The gesture wasn’t new, they had held hands when they were younger. Always together no matter what.
Stav once again became stiff, the sight of the sight of the Festival only a few yards away. “Vhere are we going?” Sly pulled him close.
“We’re goin’ to pride.”
Stav looked in wonder, his eyes taking in everything. All sorts of people could be seen and heard. Some singing, some shouting and almost everyone laughing and smiling. All the colors of the community were being flown. “…Zis is amazing…” Sly smiled. “Of course it is…it’s the one place where no one will judge us… Why wouldn’t it be amazing?”
“I…I just didn’t sink-”
“Oh my gosh!” Both of the boys whipped their heads around, catching sight of two girls looking rather starstruck.
“A-Are you Stavros- OH mygodandSlytoo!” She squeaked, Sly looking rather pleased with himself.
Stav looked a bit embarrassed. “Yes, that’s us…Can we help you ladies?” Stav offered. The taller of the two women spoke up. “Yes… I… My girlfriend noticed your flag and-” She held up her wrist, she wore a bracelet that at the demi flag on it.
“It’s nice to see others like me… It’s my first time coming to this and… I didn’t think I’d see someone else with that flag. especially not the leader of my favorite band!” She looked hopeful. “C-can I get a picture with you?”
Stav looked like he was about to burst. “Of course!!” The taller girl smiled. “Really?!” Stav nodded eagerly. “Yes, come! We take a selfies as vell!” The girl all but screamed. Stav’s heart was pounding, he hadn’t felt his excited in years.
After the small photo shoot, (and a couple of autographs), they made their way to the stage area. There was a DJ playing some really upbeat music, he was a young looking elephant. Someone they’d never even heard of, but he was doing a rather good set, at least the crowd was into it.
Loubie and Cherri were chatting with Amin, when the other two joined them. Amin was delighted to see that Stav was wearing something for the occasion. Loubie and Cherri thought Stav looked amazing as well. Sly also complimented on Cherri’s cute bi-flag dress.
“You boys ready?” The manager asked, his tone much happier now. Stav could hear the crowd of people yelling as their band was announced. He smiled and nodded, giving Sly’s hand a squeeze.