They were due to start performing any second now. Ty, Lu, and Johnny were plucking absentmindedly on their guitars, and Ringo himself was ready with his drumsticks. Rory, on the other hand, was barely keeping his eyes open. He looked like he might collapse in sleep at any moment, taking the mic stand that he was using as support down with him.
“Rory!” Ringo whisper-shouted, making Rory jolt awake with a gasp. Ringo motioned him over before the crowd got too restless.
“Yeah?” Rory crossed his arms and made himself as intimidating as he could with half-closed eyes.
“You gotta pull yourself together, mate,” Ringo said. “We’re on for over an hour.”
“I’ll be f-f-fine,” Rory said. Ringo doubted he even believed himself.
It wasn’t that Ringo was unsympathetic—this Hamburg schedule was brutal on them all. But without their lead singer, they were screwed. Probably end up fired, too. “Get over here,” Ringo said softly, inviting Rory behind his drum kit. “I’ll help ya wake up.”
Rory sighed as he crouched down beside him. “How?”
Ringo thought for a moment. Then, with a smirk, he slammed his sticks down onto the drums.
The blast sent Rory tumbling backward in shock, and the other three turned around and snickered. The cymbal crash still echoed through the room. But Ringo just grinned as Rory glared up from him on the floor, holding his ears.
“What the f-fuck was that?” Rory yelled.
“Hey, I’m just helpin’ you out. If you manage to fall asleep after that, you’ve got bigger problems.”
Slowly, Rory got to his feet. He shook his head and walked toward his microphone. But halfway there he turned back toward Ringo. “…Thank you.”
Ringo gave him a thumbs-up and got ready to play. His ears were ringing, and Rory would certainly get revenge, but if it meant that Ringo got to make music onstage with his friends longer, then it was more than worth it.