Title: Luke and Val
Authors: Rolf and Ranger
Luke was busy in halls of the arena, checking out security. He'd left Val onstage for the soundcheck, since it wasn't something he could help with, and he was able to hear some of what was said by radio, and the rest through the sound system as it was checked out. From the way the stage manager was talking, things weren't going well at all. Luke finally gave up and headed towards the stage to see if he could stop this before things spiralled out of control.
"Stop, STOP," Val yelled halfway through the song. When the instruments fell silent, he turned glaring eyes towards his new backup singer. Val hadn't appreciated the newcomer's somewhat abrasively confident attitude. He'd shown Val no deference for what Val thought he was owed, and he was going to make SURE that this person realized - quickly - who he was dealing with.
The performer merely looked back at him with irritating self-possession and a patient smile that said he knew all about star performers. Val strode over microphone leads and stray drummers, aware that the regular band members were melting out of reach rapidly with proper deference.
"For a START, you don't know the music," he said sharply. "I can
"I know the music as it's written, it's not exactly my fault if you sing as you feel like on the day. With your OWN timing and your own slur on the lyrics," the singer said bluntly. "I'm not going to slur MY performance to keep up with yours."
"In case," Val began patiently, "You HAVEN'T noticed, you're employed to be MY backing singer?"
The man just smiled, jaws clicking, and Val's blood pressure promptly rocketed.
The stage manager had left the booth and was quickly headed towards the stage. Luke was nowhere in sight and things were going downhill quickly. He had just mounted the stage when the backup singer answered.
"Yes, I chew -"
"SPIT IT OUT!" Val promptly demanded, stamping his foot. He was at a slight loss for words when the singer spit it out near his feet.
"Five minutes!" the manager announced as he strode towards the two and everyone else abandoned the stage as if it were a ship in danger of sinking.
Val recovered his breath, stared at the gum and produced one of his steam engine shrieks that made people flee still faster.
"HOW DARE YOU-"
"You said spit it out," the singer said easily, with enough amusement to really boil Val's blood. Val, beyond reasonable thought, lunged a step closer and slapped the singer across the face with all his strength.
The stage manager got in between the two before another blow could be exchanged. He was facing Val. "Val, get off this stage and cool down," the stage manager managed to say levelly.
Val, beyond all reasonability, slapped him too. "
The stage manager, at the end of his tether, pulled out his radio and hissed into it, the hiss of a distracted man.
"McNeil, report to the stage, immediately."
Luke's purposeful walk immediately became a jog as he made his way back to the auditorium.
The backup singer had recovered from the shock, and piped up from behind the manager. "You just earned yourself a lawsuit, you talentless queen-"
"For Pete's sake SHUT UP!" the stage manager thundered, finding someone he could safely shout at. "OFF stage, I'll speak to you later!"
"You will NOT!" Val screeched back. "You're fired, and if you set
Hurling over the microphone stands in his way he stormed off stage performing one of his Vivien Leigh flounced that ended with a door slammed so hard the stage shook. The stage manager took a deep and somewhat unsteady breath and picked up his radio again.
"McNeil, Luke, PLEASE-"
Luke burst through a door on the far right of the stage, bounding up the stairs two at a time. He strode quickly over to Mr. Edwards. "What happened? Where's Val?"
"That little shit -" the singer began.
"Get OFF THE STAGE," Mr. Edwards bellowed, shocking the backup singer into complying quickly.
When he could gather his thoughts, he faced Luke. "Mr. Quentin had a disagreement with that prat there. He -"
"Where did he go," Luke interrupted quickly, having seen both of the hand prints making their presence known.
Mr. Edwards pointed toward the door that Val had pranced out of.
"We'll take an hour lunch while I get Mr. Quentin sorted," Luke said, striding towards the door.
The stage manager breathed a mute sigh of relief and turned, raising his voice.
"OKAY, EVERYBODY, LUNCH.
"Bill?" Luke demanded from the door. The stage manager glanced at him. Luke raised an eyebrow, hand on the door.
The stage manager hesitated. Like all the permanent staff, he was actually very fond of Val. But his head was aching, his ears were ringing and the slap outlined across his face still hurt.
"Fifty-fifty to who started it," he said honestly, "But Val finished it."
Luke nodded and headed out of the door.
He ran Val to earth where he expected to find him: sitting on the stairs under the stage, alone, arms wrapped around his knees, outraged- as the hurled phone and keys at the foot of the stairs showed- but with tear-filled eyes and dripping lashes that promptly raised to his with appeal that would have knocked Bambi out of any Oscar running.
"What happened?" Luke asked immediately, having grown used to the look, which had no effect when there was a story to get to the bottom of.
"That singer, he was MEAN!" Val began, wanting to get Luke on his side immediately.
"Don't give me ANY crap, Val. I want to know what was said that gave what you thought was the right to slap both him
Val jumped a little, not at all happy that Luke knew about those slaps. They were the kind of thing that Luke tended to take VERY seriously- a good deal more seriously than Val thought at all necessary.
He put his head down on his arms again, letting the tears flow and sobbed a little, focusing on just how unkind everyone was and how much pressure he was under and how much he needed the sympathy and support of Luke- who put a hand under his chin and turned it up, pulling his arms down.
"Turn it off, Val, I'm waiting."
When the pitiful attack didn't work, Val got angry again. "That stupid fu- man," he amended, having at least enough self preservation at the current time not to add to it, "wasn't following my lead! I'm the one he's supposed to be backing up, NOT the other way around!"
"Did you confront him about that?" Luke asked without a beat.
"Yes, I did!" Val stated forcefully. "He then proceeded to tell me *I* was the one that was screwing up!"
"Were you?" Luke said bluntly.
"NO!" Val said furiously. "Whose side are you on?! He's a stupid, arrogant little tart who thinks he's putting up with me on his way to the top and he can't sing for bloody toffee,
"So you slapped him?" Luke was relentless.
"He wasn't listening!" Val yelled. He was at a disadvantage, not able to get up with Luke standing over him.
"DOES that give you the right to slap someone?" Luke said firmly, his eyebrow raising questioningly.
"He spat GUM at me!" Val said furiously, "I don't have to take that from ANYONE; he actually SPAT the gum at me!"
Luke stifled the urge to smile, then a following surge of grim displeasure at anyone showing that kind of disrespect to his brat in public.
"Did he? I'll speak to him about that."
"He's FIRED, I won't work with him!" Val said furiously.
"You'll do what's in the best interests of this company, young man." Luke's gaze never wavered from Val's. "Now, tell me why you also slapped Mr. Edwards."
Val swallowed audibly, knowing there was probably no reason in the world that Luke would accept for that loss of control. He dropped his eyes.
"I'm waiting," Luke said unhelpfully.
"He sent me offstage!" Val said, trying to sound pitiful and instead coming out with plaintive.
"In front of
"Which let's face it, is how you were behaving," Luke said shortly. "Why did he try to send you offstage?"
"To shut me up!" Val said furiously. Luke waited, looking at him until the fury turned slowly to a flush.
"How about to try and prevent you causing any more of a scene and to let HIM handle things the way he's paid to? Bill Edwards has been a good and loyal friend to you, Val; how dared you hit out at him? How dared you hit out at ANYONE, especially in an environment where they're intimidated from hitting back as you deserve? You're in a powerful position on that stage."
Val sat, stung by those words. His anger left him about as quickly as it had come, leaving him with a nagging twist in his stomach that things were going to only get uglier from here.
He hadn't really meant to slap Bill. Bill had been a pretty good stage manager, always willing to work with Val when things didn't sound right. Trusting that Val could hear some things he couldn't, and knowing that Val knew his limits and exactly what the audience wanted to see from him
"What do you have to say for yourself?" Luke asked mildly.
"He didn't do anything to defend me!" Val said with an attempt at sustaining heat, scanning furiously through to try and find an excuse- any excuse- that might hold water.
"That bitch SPAT at me and he just ordered me offstage-"
"WHAT do you have to say for yourself?" Luke said again, a little louder. Val flushed.
"I lost my temper.... I WAS provoked-"
"What should you have done?"
Val flushed still more. "Spoken to you."
"And I would have dealt with it, quietly and efficiently, in a way that maintained your dignity in front of the crew. Seeing you screaming and stamping and behaving like a five-year-old in a tantrum won't have done much for it. Will it?"
"He said he was going to sue me," Val tried.
"That is something that could have been handled FAR easier if you'd kept your hands to yourself," Luke said firmly. "We'll discuss that later. Right now, we're going to head into your dressing room. Come on," Luke said, holding out his hand.
Val stood to his feet slowly, putting his hand in Luke's and trying to hold his composure for the long walk to execution.
The corridors were full as they were always full, but the crew were too used to Val hand-in-hand with the large and grim-faced bodyguard to look twice. Everyone melted out of Luke's way and a few looked curiously at Val, there was a lot of muttering and whispering as they passed. Val quickened his stride and burst into the dressing room ahead of Luke, hot-faced.
"EVERYONE's gossiping, did you hear all that?!"
"They're bound to gossip, Val; you just gave them a star performance to admire." Luke shut the dressing room door and locked it firmly. Val stamped, near tears of frustration and strained nerves.
"It's NOT FAIR!"
"What's not fair, Mr. Quentin-" Luke took a seat and yanked Val to him by one hand, tipping him easily over one knee. "That you took unfair advantage of your position to behave like a brat? Bill and the singer you're less than happy with would be at risk of their jobs if they slapped you back. I, on the other hand, am not."
Luke shifted Val's weight and began to peel him out of tight jeans.
"Luke!" Val spat, trying to fight his hands to no avail, finding himself bare assed and vulnerable before he could coherently fight this attack on his dignity.
Luke easily handled his squirming lover, used to all the moves he'd make and preventing most of them with ease. As soon as he had Val's pants down, he pulled him closer around the waist and rested his hand lightly across his bottom.
"Remind me, please, of what you'll NOT be doing in the future," Luke said conversationally.
"Slapping ANYONE!" Val said trying to twist around. "Luke, pleeeeeeeeease, not here-"
"You made a scene here without any concern for who was watching or how embarrassed your victims were." Luke brought his hand down hard across Val's small and perfectly formed behind, eliciting a shrill screech from his penitent.
"You're in a responsible position, you have a duty to behave BETTER than anyone else in this arena."
"I WILL!" Val said quickly, twisting again. "Ple- OW!" he yelped as a second swat caught him on the other cheek.
"When you have a disagreement and find yourself getting too angry to think straight," Luke swatted again, "you STOP and take a break. And if you find that you can't come to an agreement, you find me, and we'll sort it out. You do not ever raise your hand to an employee of yours, or anyone else for that matter, again!" Luke said, punctuating each word with a solid swat on the rapidly reddening bottom.
Val kicked, squirmed and yelped, mostly in temper. Luke, reading the body language and long since familiar with it, quit talking and concentrated on spanking, quickly and soundly turning Val's tight little backside scarlet and continuing until Val's screeches became softer and a good deal more pathetic and tearful. Then he paused and rubbed his smarting palm over both hot cheeks.
"What are you NEVER going to do again?"
"Hit out at anyone," Val said quickly and emphatically, "I won't, I really won't Luke, I promiiiiiiiiiiiise-"
In that tone he sincerely meant it for the moment. Luke gave him six more measured swats to drive the message home, hardening his heart to the sobs following each one, then set Val on his feet and helped him dress.
"You'll apologise to Bill
Val grimaced as he pulled his pants straight, tears still coursing down his face. He walked over to the corner and laid his hot face against the cool wall, giving into feelings of self pity. When that didn't elicit any response from Luke, he settled down and worked on catching his breath again, knowing he was going to have to look as if he'd not been spanked in less than an hour, which was going to be a tall order.
Luke went around the corner and found the tray of sandwiches he'd ordered for their lunch and quickly ate one. He kept an ear out for Val, hearing him settle down fairly quickly once he realised he was stuck there for the long term. When the twenty minutes were up, he went back in to the main area.
"Figured out how you're supposed to behave?" Luke asked.
"Yes, sir," Val said from the corner.
"Then come over here and eat a sandwich. You can stay right here, I've got someone to speak to," Luke said, opening the door and locking it behind him.
Val threw himself into a chair. And then very hastily got up again.
Half an hour later, Luke watched Val glide across the stage, once more the soul of charm and sweet temper, and throw his arms around Bill's neck. From the hug he got, Edwards bore no grudges. Few of the committed, permanent staff did, accepting Val's quirks with quite remarkable affection considering what they put up with.
Across the stage, Luke caught the somewhat cautious pout of the young backing singer. Backed into a corner by a large, soft-voiced and steel-eyed bodyguard, he'd quickly admitted his behaviour had been provocative, he was lucky to be keeping his job and he needed to rein in his attitude immediately. Luke actually suspected that some of what he'd just given Val would do the young man a world of good. But watching Val expertly adjust the microphone, just as expertly flick his hair into position and fix the sound crew with a smile that dazzled them into stopping drinking coffee and turn on his mike, Luke shook his head.
The young backing singer was fiddling with his own mike, unnoticed and without anything like Val's natural and entirely artless magnetism. The staff might be staring, they might be gossiping, but they moved around Val onstage like people circulate around a fire on a cold day. Luke fixed the boy with a somewhat amused smile, long used to prima donnaeing of a style and flair this boy would never be able to aspire to.
"Kiddo, you are outclassed, outmanoevered and OUT of your league."