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We all gotta start somewhere.

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“I can’t believe zis is verking out so vell!”

Stav had been in high spirits ever since their successful first gig at The Lamplight. That one night set them up very well. They had done a set every night for the past two weeks and had been paid handsomely for it. Soon afterward they were picked up by a friend of Mr. Pinkwater’s.

Not really a record label type-deal, but landing a manager, (an actual manager,) and being given several gigs at other high-end clubs, was nothing short of a victory for them. Now they were sitting in their manager’s office, waiting for their tour schedule.

“Yeah, who'da thunk that we’d be livin’ that high life, rubbing elbows with the muckety mucks all professional-like.” Sly was reclining in a chair a little too loose for Stav’s liking, but the older man really couldn't do anything to stop him.

Stav let out a sigh. “I vouldn’t exactly call it ze ‘high life,’ Sly. Ve vere barely able to pay zis month’s rent vith zat last gig ve did. Ve should be so grateful… right Loubie?“

Loubie was sitting in his own seat, smack-dab between his bandmates, too preoccupied with the manicured room. For a moment, his eyes settled on a set of gold records that hung on the wall behind their manager’s desk.

“Hey, fellas… you think we’ll be that good one day?” the smallest member mused.

Sly let out a small hoot of joy. “You better believe it, Loubie baby. We’re gonna be the next big thing. Ain’t nobody gonna stop this freight train!”

Stav smiled. At least they were staying positive about all this. He vividly remembered a time when he thought this band idea wasn’t even going to work.

 

“He’s right, Loubie… Ve’ll make it. Ve’ve just got to-”

Stavros’ words were cut short when the door to the office swung open.

Their manager, a rather gruff but smiley-looking tiger had barged in with a rather cute looking secretary.

“Afternoon, gentlemen! Glad you all could make it. Hope I didn’t keep you waiting?”

Sly lifted a finger in subtle protest.

“Actually-”

“Of course not, ve’re happy to wait on progress, Mr. Amin,” Stav interjected before another word could come out of his bandmate’s mouth.

“That’s what I love to hear. Now, Mr. Pinkwater is an old friend of mine. He did you,boys, a real favor. Being handed over to me will be the best thing you boys have ever done. And, as a thank you, we’ll be doing one last set at the Lamplight. But, this time, we’re goin’ to be throwing a big ol’ party. Celebrities, A-listers, famous singers, you name it. It’ll be your big send-off before we hit the road on the tour. You three already have some hype going for you, so getting an audience to show up won’t be a problem. Besides, you won’t be performing alone, you’ll have several opening acts, and you yourselves will be the opening act for a couple of other groups as well. It’ll balance itself out so well, people will be screaming for an encore.”

The three smiled brightly.

“So uh, when’s the party?” Loubie asked.

“Ja, how long do ve have to get ready?”

Amin smiled. “Three weeks. I’m sure you boys will be ready by then, right?”

“Of course, three veeks is nussing.”

Sly and Loubie just flung a couple thumbs up in agreement.

“Excellent! Now, onto the rest of the tour.”

The cute secretary handed Amin a folder, and they quickly got to work.

——

“So tell me, I hear y'all are strugglin’ with the rent. Not that that will be a problem in the near future.”

Stav chuckled nervously. “Oh…. Ja….uh. That first gig at ze Lamplight… U-uh.. save our skin? B-But, the verk that Mister Pinvater has given us has been so much help...so ve’re making it verk.”

Amin shook his head. “Now now, Stav, no need to be embarrassed. I remember when I was just like you three, barely making ends meet, livin’ with my mother as we both worked our hides off. If you don’t mind, I’d like to take a look at your digs. Y’know, evaluate the situation.”

Stav shifted in his seat, but Sly beat him to the punch with answering the question.

“Of course, homie. Our casa es su casa!”

Loubie nodded eagerly. “Yeah yeah, su casa!”

Stav sighed and melted into the seat. Honestly, he had known this would happen one day, just not so soon.

———

“Well, it’s not too shabby, I’ve certainly seen much worse.”

Stav and Loubie were leaning against the shelves that the Leader so often slept on, while Sly followed Amin around the dingy storage garage.

“No home is perfect, Amin my man.” Sly looks over at Stav, lifting his hat a bit, giving the eldest a wink. “It’s the family that makes it perfect…” he added.

Stav rolled his eyes, doing his best to suppress a smile.

“Aw man, c'mon Sly, that’s sappy!” Loubie whined.

Amin chuckled. “Well… I did say that I’ve seen worse, but this place has a lot of character… But, we can’t have you all sleeping in a dive like this. What kind of manager would I be if I didn’t take care of my boys?”

Stav shrugged. “Vhat else are ve to do? Zis? It’s been our home for ze last six months…”

Amin sighed " Well, guess we all gotta start somewhere.… Wait. …Where are your beds?” he laughed a bit awkwardly.

Stav unceremoniously patted the vacant shelf that Loubie was sitting on. Loubie pointed to his drums and Sly gestured to his makeshift hammock.

“Hoo… We got a lot of work to do, but no worries!” He wrapped an arm around Sly’s slender shoulders. “Once we’re on this tour, you’ll be livin’ like kings! Stayin’ in hotels, great food, great people. And once we’re done, you’ll be the most well-known trio on the West Coast!”

Stav sighs a bit. “Zat does sound nice, ja?”

Loubie nodded.

“It’s settled. In three weeks, you’ll be the hometown heroes you’ve always dreamed of being, and then, you’ll be the next big thing. I can feel it.”

The tiger enthusiastically patted Sly on the back with enough force to worry Stav that he might hurt the other accidentally.

“I’ll send a driver for the party. You boys have a good night!”

With that, Amin made his exit, leaving the three to themselves.

It was quiet for a moment. A bit too quiet.

“Vell… I don’t know about you two, but… I could use a drink…” Stav murmured suggestingly.

Sly and Loubie couldn’t deny their leader a little night out. After all, this would probably be the last time they’d have time for themselves.

=======

“Man, I always love how bumpin’ this place is…”

Stav nodded in agreement, nursing a glass of vodka as he vegged out on one of the VIP luxury couches.

Sly looked him over. “Looks like you’re in a good mood, Stavros…”

Stav took a sip. “How can I not be, Sly?” the words rolled off of Stav's tongue, his voice deep with a calm tone. “Things are finally looking like ze’ll be better… Is zat not a reason to be happy?”

Sly scooted closer.

“Don’t get me wrong, brother. I’m just as happy as you. Hell, even Loubie can’t contain himself!”

A couple of nights after their first set, the drummer had caught the eye of a sweet thing named Cherri. She was cute, delightful and had a dreamy smile, all of which appealed to their friend. Sly smiled as the two young lovers danced among the other clubbers, twisting and laughing, probably having the time of their life.

“Ja… It’s good to have a vin once in a vhile.”

Again, Sly scooted closer, his hip touching Stav’s. Stav wasn’t one for public displays of affection, but it was dark enough in the club to let this small action slide.

“You know, that could be us too… enjoying this win. Whaddya say?” Sly had smoothly wrapped an arm around Stav’s shoulders, the other only smirked.

“Oh? Is zat so?” Stav downed the rest of the glass, clapping it rather loudly onto the table. He got up and out of Sly’s embrace, throwing the other a smug look. “Who says I can't enjoy the win on my own?”

He smiled and walked out onto the dance floor, his hips already swaying in tune with the song.

“Hachi machi…” Sly grinned, following the other in hopes of a possible bump ’n grind.

——–

“You think he’ll be okay, Sly?” Loubie was holding onto one of Stav’s hands while Sly lifted the rest of him.

“Unsinn! Mir geht es vollkommen gut, Loubie…”

Loubie giggled. “Man, you know you’re not supposed to let him drink too much…”

Sly shrugged beneath their bandmate. “Who am I to deny a brother’s victory toast?”

Loubie fiddled with the doorknob and held it open for his friends. “Come on, Stavros, let’s get you cleaned up and-”

“Wooooah! Sly, check it out!” Sly lifted his hat a bit, (with some difficulty).

“…Huh…”

The last thing Sly was expecting to see was his pal having a grand old time jumping up and down on a bed. “Ain’t yo’ mama teach you manners, Loub?”

Loubie just chuckled. “Ay, look you and Stav gots one too!”

Sure enough, there were two more beds, each on their respective sides of the room.

“Maybe mister Amin brought them?” Loubie pondered, now sitting properly on the bed.

“Maybe so, Loub. It sure was a sweet thing he did…”

A grumble brought back Sly’s attention to the matter at hand.

“Oh, right…C’mon Loubie, help me get Mister Proper into the shower.”

“Ach, ich brauche keine Hilfe…” Stav wobbled out of Sly’s hold, making his way over to the shower. He had barely gotten halfway there, trying desperately to remove his turtleneck… only to get himself stuck in the damn thing.

“…Slllllyyyyyy,”

Sly just shook his head, a small smile tugging at his mouth. “I gotcha..”

After what seemed like an eternity, they finally got Stav into his new bed. The thing must have been very comfy, for the poor man was snoring the minute his head hit the pillow.

“Hey Sly?” Loubie was sitting on the edge of his bed already in his PJs.

“Yeah man?” Sly was barely getting out of his clothes and into his nightwear, setting his hat on one of his speakers.

“You think this tour thing will make us famous?”

Sly smiled. “I have no doubt that we’ll be making it big, Loubie. Besides, s’long as we got each other, I think we’ll be fine.”

Loubie sat for a bit, his eyes moving from Stav’s sleeping form back to Sly.

“Everything okay, Lil’ man?” Sly asked, wondering if the other was worried about something.

“Yeah, yeah yeah. It’s good, it’s good.” Loubie smiled. “…Night, Sly!” Loubie finally added as he curled up with his pillow.

Sly smiled back and flopped over onto his new bed with a contented sigh.

“Sleep tight, brothers.”