John’s feet are cold even though he's been jumping around on stage for hours. He hasn't had time to wash socks since they made the move to Kaiserkeller so he's not wearing any and his toes are frozen and his heels covered in blisters. And it's his birthday and no one has even mentioned it yet. They've probably forgotten as if being in Hamburg means birthdays don't matter anymore. And all he wants is to take his shoes off and have a drink. No. What he really wants is Paul to at least smile at him. At least making fucking eye contact but he doesn't because he's too bloody busy ignoring him.
They're half way through ‘Long Tall Sally’ when John realises he's been staring at Paul's mouth for ages. George elbows him in the back.
“Sorry,” George mouths, but he isn't.
Paul's been out of sorts for days, maybe weeks. John doesn't know why. He says he misses his own bed, he misses reading English papers and drinking English beer, he even says he misses Dot but that's just a lie.
Okay, maybe he does know why Paul is out of sorts. Maybe they argued. Maybe they were screaming at each other at the top of their lungs. And Paul said they had to do something about Stu because he couldn't play for shit and he never could and the only reason he was in the band is because they needed a bass player. And John said Paul couldn't stand not being in charge and he'd just love for John to step aside so he could call all the shots. And anyway he was just jealous of Stu.
Paul's face was so close to his he could feel his breath, he could feel the spray of his spit on his cheek when he shouted. They grabbed hold of each other like they were going to come to blows, panting like racehorses. All at once John wondered what it would be like to kiss Paul. Just like that. And he could see from the expression on Paul's face he was thinking something similar. What it would be like to kiss John. But of course they didn't because that would be queer and in the end they just pissed off to the bar and ignored each other. And they kept on ignoring each other. John's sick of it. And he's sick of daydreaming about kissing Paul. He can't seem to get it out of his head no matter what he does. And it's his birthday and Paul ought to at least call a truce today of all days. But he doesn't.
When they're finally done with their the lads buy him a beer, clap him on the back, many happy returns and all that. They’re all laughing and John feels ten times better than before except Paul still isn't looking at him. And that sours things a little. Then the barmaid with the huge tits grabs John's arm and pulls him into the bog, sits him down on the toilet lid and ties a scarf around his eyes, he can smell her perfume on it. He can't see a thing, a shiver of excitement tears through him.
“Alles Gute,” she whispers. “Happy Birthday! This is a present for you. Your mates give it to you.”
Then she kisses him and presses his hands on her breasts. He's still reaching out for her when he feels the next girl, her tits are smaller and she smells different too, like powder, she puts a hand on John's cock through his trousers. Her mouth tastes like peppermint candy. The next girl sits in his lap, she's giggling in his ear, rose-scented and silky skinned, her breasts are bare, she puts a nipple against his mouth and he sucks it eagerly.
“How many of you are there?” he calls out when he feels her pull away.
No answer. He puts his hands to the blindfold to remove it and the next girl pushes his hands away. John reaches for her but she dances away from him, puts her hands on John's cheeks and covers his mouth with her own. John's heart is exploding out of his chest. He can feel the scratch of the beginnings of scruff above his lip. But even before that he just knows. It's Paul. He's breathless, grabbing hold of him, pulling him onto his lap, opens his mouth wider so he can taste Paul's tongue. Paul’s straddling him, rubbing against him till he moans into the kiss. He's hard as a rock and so is Paul and it's the best fucking birthday present of his life.
When they stop to catch their breath John tears off the blindfold, he's shaking all over. Paul is staring at him, eyes dreamy with lust, his lips swollen from kissing. He straightens John's collar almost absently, a self satisfied smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. Then he leans in and presses his lips to John's ear.
“Happy Birthday to you,” he whispers.