Saturday, February 6, 2010

Stargazing

Title: Stargazing
Authors: Rolf and Ranger


"But I want to go over HERE," Matthew said, turning towards the candy store in the local mall.

Marc hooked a finger in the back pocket of Matthew's jeans and pulled.  "No, you don't.  Rolf said no candy purchases.  I don't intend on having to explain the bouncing you'd be doing by eating all that stuff."

"Just a TINY little bit won't hurt anything!"

"NO.  Come on."  Marc pulled Matthew along by his upper arm until they were past danger, then let go.

"You REALLY can be an ogre, you know that," Matthew pouted, rubbing his arm as if he were bruised.

"And you can REALLY be a brat sometimes."  Marc smiled to take any sting out of the words.  "I'll take being an ogre ANYDAY over seeing you in trouble, or more importantly, ME being in trouble."

"It's CANDY for goodness sakes!  Oh, never mind," Matthew said, dropping the subject since he knew he couldn't win.

Marc was too busy talking to Matthew that he almost missed the audio/video store.  "Maybe they have Dracula 2000 in.  Come on."

Matthew rolled his eyes to the ceiling.  "You and movies.  Rolf's worried about my sugar content, while you go and spend MILLIONS on movies."

"They won't give me a heart attack or put weight on.  Quit your bitchin'."

Matthew was just about to return a quick reply, but noticed that there was a video screen off to the side with a music video playing.  He left Marc in the movies and went into the music area.

Marc checked once to make sure Matthew wasn't heading out the door to the candy shop and went back to looking for Dracula.

Matthew stood entranced for the next two minutes as Val Quentin performed his newest love song "It Could Only Be You."  He couldn't help but watch.  Matthew knew Val was THE teen idol.  He'd seen that face on just about every magazine cover imaginable.  Every time he saw Val on the news, there were always screaming girls.  Even the talk shows with live audiences, Val could barely get an entire sentence out without someone nearly swooning, and many definitely screaming.  No matter who liked Val Quentin, Matthew couldn't help but be pulled in by the beat of the music, the words, and the looks of the man.  The video ended and Matthew moved on.  He found a listening post and put the headphones on and pressed a button.  Soul music, not his thing.  He looked through the selections and saw that they had Val Quentin's newest release on and pressed that button.  He started to move to the beat as he looked through the other selections, before someone pulled the headphones apart and then snapped them back on his head.  He ducked and turned around, ripping them off his head.  "What was THAT for?"

"Val Quentin?  You're listening to a teeny bopper?"  Marc asked, laughing.

"Yeah.  So what?"  Matthew snapped, hanging the headphones up.

"He's a TEENY bopper, an English one at that.  How old ARE you?"  Marc teased, unmercifully.

"Shut UP," Matthew spat, stalking off out of the store.

Marc paid for his movie, then went out to find Matthew perched against the fountain, still mad.

"I'm sorry," Marc said, leaning against the fountain.

Matthew didn't say anything, but his stance softened a little.

"Are you going to talk to me anymore?"

"I dunno," Matthew said, still not looking at Marc.

"Can I make it up to you?" Marc tried again when Matthew didn't say anything more.

Matthew pondered that for a moment, before taking the opportunity that presented itself.  "Maybe....."

"Ok, I'll bite.  What do I have to do?"  Marc asked, giving in.

"Turn your back for a moment while I visit the store," Matthew replied evenly.

Marc KNEW he had just been beaten again.  He waited a moment before saying "OKAY.  But if you come out of there -"  He stopped talking because Matthew was already at the storefront and heading in.  He shook his head in amazement and followed to make sure Matthew didn't purchase the entire stock of candy.

They got home about eight, Matthew having purchased and eaten a quarter pound of chocolate and had just popped in the last gummy bear on the steps into the house.

"Don't I get any more?" Marc asked as he shut the door behind him.

"No.  It was the last one, and VERY good."  Matthew headed down the hall to find Rolf.  He nearly ran over him as he turned the corner into the office.

"Hi, Sport," Rolf said, kissing Matthew after the near collision.  "Joe should be here in. . . .gummi bears?"

Matthew flushed a bit and ducked his head.

"I swear, you and Marc need to get your ears cleaned out."  Rolf swatted Matthew as he walked past him.  "Joe will be here in a few minutes so if you two could keep it down?"

Matthew smiled and went into the kitchen where Marc was getting a drink.

"And NO more junk food tonight!"  Rolf said as he disappeared upstairs.

Matthew went to the refrigerator and perused the shelves for something to drink. He began to swing his hips, and tap on the door.

"It could only be you," Matthew began to sing quietly, unaware that he was even doing it.

"Oh my god, what are you doing?" Marc asked, staring at Matthew.

Matthew whipped around the refrigerator door. "Looking for something to drink that has sugar and/or caffeine in it. What did it look like I was doing?"

"Well it looked like you were the British king of teen pop here!" Marc said with a giggle.

"ShutUP!"

Marc laughed again, and shrugged.

Matthew was just about to punch Marc in the arm when there was a knock on the door.  He turned to answer it and Marc headed downstairs.

"Hi," Matthew said, opening the door.

"Hi yourself.  How are you?" Joe asked as he entered the house.

"Fine," Matthew said as he shut the door before turning to yell in the general direction of the stairs.  "ROOOOOOOLLLFFFF!  JOE'S HERE!"

Rolf came downstairs a moment later.  "Hi, Joe.  Thanks for offering to help."  He turned to Matthew.  "Next time try walking to the steps, or upstairs for that matter?  We don't need to scream and wake the dead."

Matthew said a quick okay and headed downstairs, grabbing a coke along the way.  He disliked being corrected in front of anyone, no matter how many times it had happened before.

"Let's spread out on the kitchen table so we can see the plans and the problems associated with them."

Joe followed Rolf into the kitchen and they went to work on a way to get around a few sticky points with the law on a current building project Rolf was involved in.

Matthew flopped into the recliner.  Marc had already stuck his new Dracula DVD into the machine and was checking out the features.  Matthew wasn't all that interested in the movie and was hoping that Marc would just watch the highlights and then they'd move onto something else.

Marc wanted to see the movie, and began playing it.  Matthew was already in a crappy mood, and within fifteen minutes the two of them were arguing and wrestling for the remote.

"GENTLEMEN!  Upstairs, NOW," Rolf thundered from the top of the stairs.

The two boys were muttering at each other as they walked up the stairs.  They went silent when they saw the look on Rolf's face.

"Would you care to explain yourselves?" Rolf asked, eyeing both boys.

Matthew and Marc both blushed a little under the stare.  "HE was hogging the remote!" Matthew said, pointing at Marc.

"And HE was trying to take it away!" Marc returned in kind.

"You don't lose your cool over the remote.  What happened earlier?" Rolf inquired.

Neither of the two boys wanted to be there a second longer underneath that stare.

"I was teasing him about his choice of music," Marc replied quietly.

"What is wrong with the music?" Rolf asked.

"Just that he's listening to Val Quentin.  He's the teen-"

"HE IS NOT!" Matthew stamped in frustration.

Before Marc could reply, Rolf's very firm voice interrupted him.  "That is ENOUGH.  I asked for quiet so Joe and I could work, and instead you act like five year olds."

Matthew and Marc both blushed a little more as they realized that Joe was still in the kitchen with them.

"Marc, don't you have to work tomorrow?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then I suggest you head home and get some rest."

"Yes, sir," Marc said a little more quietly, turning to go downstairs to get his movie.

"No, Marc, the movie stays here.  You won't go to bed if you take that home."

Marc somehow knew that was going to happen.  He turned and headed out the kitchen door.  "Bye."

"Sleep well," Rolf said as Marc closed the door.

Matthew was playing with the hem of his shirt.

"And you may go downstairs and get everything turned off and head upstairs for a bath."

"But, Roooolf -"

"Now," Rolf replied evenly.

Matthew turned and headed downstairs, only taking the chance to mutter when he was certain he was out of Rolf's hearing.  He got the tv and lights off and headed upstairs, muttering about how unfair life was.

He made his way into the bathroom and began to draw himself a bath.  As he began to slowly disrobe, he found himself dancing and singing that song again. Unfortunately, one of his dance moves was not as smooth as Val's, and he managed to knock over an array of toiletries.

"Shit!" Matthew exclaimed as he heard footsteps coming up the stairs. Big, heavy, disgruntled footsteps.

Rolf pushed the half open door wide and stepped into the bathroom.  "What is going on up here?"  he asked sternly.

Matthew was in the process of picking up the toiletries.  "I just sort of accidentally knocked them over."

"Are you sure you didn't throw them out of frustration?"

"Yes, I'm sure!" Matthew shot back, slamming a bottle of baby powder down so hard it sprayed a fine cloud of dust that covered the sink.

Rolf turned the faucet off for the bath and pulled Matthew to him as he sank down on the side of the tub.

Matthew thought he was going to be spanked and started to struggle.

"Stop it," Rolf said, as he pulled him down to sit upon his lap.  "Now, how about you explain to me what's gotten you so testy today?"

"It's nothing," Matthew said, looking at the bathroom carpet.

"How did all that stuff end up on the floor?"

"I SAID," Matthew started, before seeing Rolf's eyebrows raising in that familiar "You're two seconds from a spanking so you'd better rephrase what you were going to say" look.  He tried again.  "I was dancing."

"The music that Marc was teasing you about?" Rolf inquired gently.

"Yes."

"Which is?"

"You'd only laugh too," Matthew said miserably.

"You know me better than that, Sport.  And if it's a new artist, I probably wouldn't have a clue anyway."

Matthew smiled a little at that.  "Val.  Val Quentin."

Rolf looked confused for a moment before saying "The British kid that's taking America by storm?"

"Yes."

"Why would Marc tease you about him?"

"Because he says that Val's a teeny bopper, that I'm as silly as all those girls screaming at him."

"You know Marc is just teasing.  He doesn't intend for his remarks to hurt you."

"Yes, but he's said stuff all day," Matthew said as a pout slowly worked at the corners of his mouth.

"I'll have a word with Marc -"

"NO!" Matthew said, trying to get up.  "Marc would REALLY tease me then.  Forget it, I'll handle it."

Rolf kissed Matthew's cheek before letting him get up.  "Alright, you can handle it.  Now if you could PLEASE just finish your bath and get into bed without any more disturbances?"

"Okay," Matthew said, turning the faucet back on.

"Thank you."  Rolf headed back downstairs to wrap up the last few changes that needed to be made on the plans.

"What was that all about?" Joe asked as he put down his drink.

"I think Matthew was dancing and accidentally knocked the stuff off.  You heard of Val Quentin?"

"Yes, actually just a couple days ago.  Eric was telling me that he'll be here in town in two months time.  The tickets go on sale in a week and are supposed to sell out in hours."

"Sounds like he's popular."

"Just a little," Joseph replied, laughing.

Rolf worked with Joseph for another hour and headed upstairs when Joe left.  He found Matthew asleep in his book.  He gently removed the book and within twenty minutes had joined Matthew in bed. Rolf was still wound up over the legal mumbo jumbo associated with work, and was too wired to sleep. He knew the television would disturb Matthew and decided instead to catch up on some reading.  He tried a couple of his architectural journals but couldn't find anything that interested him.  He thumbed through the stack and found a copy of People Magazine, quickly scanning the pages.  He was just about to turn the page when he saw Val Quentin's name.

The article was fascinating, and Rolf was now curious as to what all the fuss was over.  The article was mostly about Val's US tour as it was the first time he'd left England and the surrounding areas.  He wondered if it were possible to get tickets, and if Matthew would enjoy it.  He looked over at Matthew, sprawled across his side of the bed and smiled.  Saturday he'd check.

*****

Rolf had to work pretty hard at keeping a straight face and not accidentally giving away his secret for a month and a half.  Two weeks before Val was to perform, Rolf could stand it no longer and told Matthew and Marc over dinner that night.

"Do either of you two have any plans Saturday the 11th?"

"Matthew is going to stand outside the arena and pay $500 for Val Quentin tickets," Marc said, kicking Matthew under the table.

Rolf looked quickly at Marc before Matthew could reply.  "If you don't have anything nice to say?"

Marc dropped his eyes quickly.

"Matthew, would you LIKE to go to the concert?" Rolf asked conversationally.

"Yes," he said, glaring at Marc, "I would."

Marc didn't dare offer a reply, not with Rolf staring right at him.

"What would you say if I had tickets for the show?"

"Don't tease me.  I went and stood in line that day, they were impossible to get," Matthew said, taking a sip from his coke.

Rolf pulled out something from under his placemat and held it up.  "You don't TRUST me and my sources?" He asked, grinning wickedly.

Matthew grabbed quickly at the tickets, his eyes going wide when he saw that there were, in fact, three tickets to Val's concert.  "WOO HOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  You're the best!"  Matthew said, nearly knocking his chair over as he bounded up to give Rolf a hug.

Rolf caught Matthew and managed somehow to keep both of them tumbling to the floor.  "Hey hey hey" Rolf said, trying to keep Matthew from bouncing.

Matthew carefully let go of Rolf and returned to his seat, smiling.

Rolf looked over at Marc.  "Now maybe we can find out why he's so popular."

"Yeah, I guess so.  Thanks," Marc said, not sure he was thrilled about going, other than the fact that it WAS one of the hottest tickets in town.

"Well don't sound so enthused. It's a concert, not a torture chamber." Rolf
said.

"Don't be so sure. I saw this Backstreet Boys special on television the other night, and those young girls have MIGHTY powerful lungs."

"Who cares? We are there to listen to VAL! His voice will carry over theirs." Matthew replied.

"I guess so."

"And even if it doesn't, you still get to SEE him!" Matthew added.

Marc continued to bite his tongue. This situation left Matthew open for so much ribbing. And just when Marc thought he was going to explode for the pressure, the phone rang.

"That would be for me," Rolf said, running to the office to take the call.

"So what are you going to wear? Your 'I love Val' bare midriff shirt?" Marc said, unable to contain himself.

"Shut the fuck up!" Matthew snarled. "You don't HAVE to go."

"I've got a ticket now," Marc said, smiling wickedly.  "And I can bring a camera and get pictures of you to show all our friends..."

Matthew stood up quickly, slamming his hands on the table.  The chair tumbled to the floor, clattering loudly, as the dishes on the table did the same.  Matthew leaned over the table towards Marc.  "You can go fuck yourself for all I care.  I CAN lose -"

Marc stood up as well, leaning towards Matthew.  "I have a TICKET -"

Rolf put the phone down, asking his client to hold on a moment, and headed into the kitchen after hearing the ruckus.  He walked in to find Matthew and Marc in each others's faces, seemingly ready for the fists to start flying.

"MATTHEW.  Pick your chair up and bury your nose in the corner," Rolf said, pointing.

Matthew was instantly ashamed, and aggravated that he was being corrected again in front of someone else.  "Marc -"

"Right now, and without a word," Rolf said sternly.

Matthew set the chair roughly upright and went to stand in the corner, huffing loudly.

Marc was just about to sit down when Rolf interrupted him.

"And you, young man, can come with me."

"I did-"

"I don't want to hear it right now," Rolf said, staring hard at Marc.  "I'm on the phone, and you two can't even sit in the same room without arguing."  Rolf waited until Marc had passed him and walked into the hall.

"You can face that corner," Rolf said, pointing at it.

Marc went without a word and faced the corner.

"I'm going to finish my phone call.  If I hear ONE sound from either of you, you'll be spanked."  Rolf went back down the hall and picked up the phone again.

Rolf's threat left both boys silent.  He finished up his phone call fifteen minutes later, happy that he had landed another client.  He went and poured himself a cup of coffee and settled back at the table to drink it.  When he was finished he stood up.  "Marc, Matthew, come here please."

Marc turned from the corner and walked slowly back into the kitchen.  He didn't know what awaited him.

Matthew turned around and stood close to Rolf, his head down.  When Marc joined him, Rolf started.

"What was that all about?"

Matthew shrugged, and Marc just kept looking at his feet.

"Marc, I'm talking to you."  Rolf waited until Marc looked up.  "WHAT did you say to Matthew?"

Marc started to mumble a reply, knowing Rolf wasn't going to like what he said.

"Speak clearly or wait in the corner," Rolf said sternly.

"I....I teased Matthew again about Val."

"That's what I thought.  Do you WANT to go to the show?"

Marc only took a second to answer that.  It was THE hottest ticket in town and he wanted to go for that reason alone, though seeing what all the hype was about was going to be interesting as well.  "Yes, sir."

"Then let me make something perfectly clear.  You will NOT tease Matthew again about this, or your ticket will be used by someone else.  And I WILL spank you.  Understood?"

Marc looked back down at his feet.  "Yes, sir."

Rolf turned his attention to Matthew, who stiffened when he felt the gaze shift.

"As for you, young man, there will be no more displays of that temper of yours."

"Yes, sir."

"What will happen if I see any temper?"

Matthew blushed and started fidgeting in embarrassment.

"Matthew?" Rolf prompted again.

"Spanking and early bed?" Matthew said quietly.

"Exactly.  The two of you may clean up from dinner now."

"You wash, I'll dry," Marc said, heading towards the kitchen sink.

"How come I always have to wash?"

"Because you are too slow at calling it!" Mac said, laughing.

Matthew sneered, but couldn't argue with that defense. The dishes were quickly taken care of and the remainder of the night passed without incident.

*****

Marc worked hard at keeping his mouth shut, not wanting to give Rolf any reason to not take him to the show.  EVERYONE he knew was jealous of him and his ticket, and he was enjoying every minute of it.

Finally, Saturday arrived.

"Guys, you ready?" Rolf asked from the top of the stairs.

"YES!" both boys said in unison, bounding up the steps, two at a time.

Rolf wanted to tell the elephant brigade to slow down, but thought better of it.  "Dinner at Pacos, then the show?"

"Pacos?  YES!" Matthew said upon hearing one of his favorite restaurants.

"Sounds great!" Marc said, heading out the door to the truck.

Rolf followed the bouncing Matthew out the door, locking it behind him.  Once everyone was buckled in, he drove to the restaurant, getting his table almost immediately as he had it reserved.  Good thing, too, as there was already an hour wait.

Dinner was a lively affair, Matthew chattering almost nonstop in his excitement.  Marc kept his mouth shut, but was looking forward to the opportunity to tease Matthew yet again, as he thought Matthew was acting like a 12 year old girl with a crush.  He was just going to wait until they were AT the show, where Rolf couldn't take his ticket.

The opportunity soon presented itself.  Dinner was over and soon they were at the arena, Matthew about six steps in front of Rolf and Marc who were walking entirely too slow for Matthew's taste.  When they finally made it past the ticket taker and into the arena, Rolf was recognized as an old friend wanted a moment to speak with him.  This made Marc happy, as he was about to burst from holding in his comments. Marc wasted no time.

"Stay within sight," Rolf said as he turned back to speak with his friend.

Matthew and Marc moved a little deeper into the front lobby.

"So did you tell your friend Macarena that you were coming to the girly show?"

"Her name is MARINA! And she knew I was coming to the VAL concert!"

"That's what I said."  Marc smiled, pleased with himself.

They walked around the front end, waiting for Rolf, to go to their seats.  They walked by a souvenir stand.

"There it IS!" Marc said, pointing.

"What? There what is?" Matthew said, whipping his head around.

"That pink shirt, a perfect souvenir for you, along with the Val doll."

"You WILL like Val by the time we leave," Matthew spat.

"Fat chance.  My tastes run a little higher than twelve year olds, and girls at that.

"Fuck OFF," Matthew said, turning quickly on his heel and walking away.

Marc was torn between wanting to follow Matthew and staying within sight of Rolf.  He decided he'd wait for Rolf, and then changed his mind as Rolf would want to know why Matthew had taken off in the first place.  He quickly turned to follow Matthew but try as he might, he couldn't locate him.  Finally he just headed to his seat, sitting down alone.

Rolf talked with his friend for several minutes, then looked around to find Marc and Matthew.  He shook his head when he didn't spot them and headed towards his seat, finding one head instead of two.  He sat down.  "Where is Matthew?"

"Bathroom?" Marc replied.

"You don't know?" Rolf asked suspiciously.

Marc wriggled uncomfortably.  "I can't watch him from here," he replied quietly.

Rolf sharpened his gaze and his voice.  "I'm going to look for him.  You aren't to leave your seat."  Rolf stood up without another word and headed back out to the hallways, scanning the crowd for his lover.

Marc mimicked Rolf and stuck out his tongue, before slumping back in his seat.  He was having second thoughts on having come to the concert in the first place, even if he was five rows from the stage.

Matthew had continued around the hallways until he got to the area where Eric was usually stationed.  He saw him helping a harried mother with two hyped up daughters to find their seats.  He waited until they were gone before approaching him.

"Hi Eric."

"Oh, hi Matthew!  Where is the rest of the gang?" Eric asked.

A scowl crossed Matthew's face.  "Rolf was talking with one of those ENDLESS friends of his and Marc was being a butthead."

"Ooookay.  Well...are you excited for the show to begin?"

Matthew broke into a smile.  "Yes, I can't wait.  He's got an awesome voice."

"That he does," Eric replied.  He did a quick look around, then pulled Matthew closer, sliding something over his head.

Matthew looked down when something hit his chest and immediately realized it was a backstage pass.  "Eric!  You ... you didn't!  Did you?  Is it real?  I mean --"

Eric was laughing.  "Yes, it is.  That doesn't get you back to his dressing area, but if you're in the right location, you might catch a glimpse of him.   He sometimes meets with his fan club before the show, I've heard, and also with any of the under privileged children or wish kids."

Matthew couldn't stop smiling to save his soul.

"Now, before you go back, you need to go tell Rolf where you're at."

Matthew quickly hugged Eric and practically floated around the corner and out of sight.  As soon as Eric was out of sight, Matthew stopped.  He wasn't going to tell Rolf, because that would require that Marc knew, and he wasn't in the mood to listen to yet more teasing.  He waited for about three minutes, then dashed back around the corner.

"Hey, slow down!" Eric said as Matthew bounded up to him.

"Okay, OKAY," Matthew said, passing by Eric and heading down the hallway, disappearing around another corner.

A few minutes later, Rolf walked up.  "Hi Eric," he said, shaking hands.

"Hey, how are you?"

"Pretty good, though already regretting not having brought earplugs," Rolf said, looking at another group of about 10 young ladies.

"That would have been good, but those piercing shrieks make it right through them," Eric said, laughing.

"There isn't much that's immune to that sound.  Hey, you wouldn't have seen Matthew anywhere, would you?"

"Yeah, he just...wait a minute.  Don't tell me, you haven't seen him since you walked in the door, right?"

Rolf looked quizzically at Eric, before replying "Right."

Eric shook his head.  "I just handed over a backstage pass and asked that he tell you where he was.  I didn't THINK he'd had time to find you."  Eric looked around again, pulling an usher over.  "I'll be right back.  Come on Rolf, let's go find him."

Matthew was wandering the halls when he heard Rolf telling Eric he was going to have a few words with himself.  He looking around in panic, trying to find someplace to hide.  He tried a few doors down the hall, finding the first three locked.  The fourth one opened and Matthew quickly darted in, watching out the crack and closing it quietly when he spotted Rolf.

He nearly went through the roof when he stepped on something soft and a clear, indignant voice said behind him,  "OW!"

Matthew spun, heart pounding, not sure which scared him more. Someone else in his closet or the sound risking attracting Rolf's attention. A hand slipped under his, pulled the closet door shut and snapped the light on.

A slightly built, very pretty and extremely pouty young man looked back at him out of large, and melting blue eyes under a heavy blond fringe and long eyelashes. Untidy, wearing a tatty shirt hanging out of stained jeans, he looked pretty much how Matthew felt, which took away his immediate urge to yell back.

"Hi." he said eventually. The pout intensified.

"You're in MY cupboard."

"I'm in your WHAT?" Matthew began, and then halted, alerted by the strange accent. "You're English."

"You have a real gift for the blindingly bloody obvious." the boy retorted.  "Go away."

"In a minute-" Matthew stopped staring with an effort and pulled himself together. "I'm sort of hiding-"

"From who?"

"My boyfriend......." Matthew said uncomfortably. Blue eyes glared into green for a minute, then the mobile mouth of the younger boy twitched and a sudden smile brought his face to life.

"Hiding?"

"I've sort of-"

"Pissed him off?" the boy suggested. Matthew nodded, then joined the boy in a giggle, unable to resist the grin. The younger boy's eyes twinkled at him.

"What's he like?"

"Now he's mad? About eighteen feet tall and breathing fire? What are you doing here?"

The boy stifled another laugh.

"Hiding from -"

"Your boyfriend?"

"THIRTY feet tall and breathing fire."

The two grinned at each other, and on impulse Matthew held out a hand.

"Matthew."

"Daniel," the blond boy readily responded, gripping his hand.

"Matthew!" a stentorian voice demanded in the corridor outside. Daniel put a hand over Matthew's mouth, stifling his own giggles.

"Shhhhhhhh......."

Matthew managed not to make a sound as he heard two sets of footsteps walk purposely past the closet.  He did raise his eyebrows suggestively when he was able to hear Rolf remarking to Eric that he'd have a thing or two to say to Marc if Matthew had run off because of him and his teasing about Val.  The rest of the conversation was intelligible as Rolf and Eric rounded the corner.

Daniel let go of Matthew's mouth and stood back.  "Close one."

"Yeah," Matthew said, stepping back and knocking a broom over.

"SHHHH!" Daniel hissed.  "I'm NOT about to get caught because you have big feet!"

"I do NOT!" Matthew said indignantly, looking down.  "Well....maybe I do," he laughed as he noticed that his foot was about three sizes larger than Daniel's. "How long you been here?" Matthew asked as he surveyed the small area.

"Fifteen minutes until you came barging in," Daniel said as he sat down on an upturned bucket.

"Sorry.  Not used to finding closets occupied by anything other than brooms and mop buckets," Matthew said.  "At LEAST nothing that ever talked back,"  he finished, laughing.

"And I'm not used to getting visitors when my butler and maid are off duty.  I have no tea or biscuits to serve you," Daniel finished, laughing.

"You serve tea and BISCUITS?" Matthew asked incredulously.

"Biscuits, yes.  Don't you LIKE biscuits?" Daniel asked, just as surprised.

"I eat biscuits in the morning, with bacon and egg, sometimes sausage and egg," Matthew said.

Daniel looked horrified until it dawned on him.  "Biscuits!" he said, laughing.  "Cookies to you Americans!"

"Cookies!  Biscuits are cookies?"  Matthew said, laughing.

Both boys heard footsteps again and swallowed the rest of their laughter, nearly choking.  When the danger had passed again, Daniel spoke.

"I could really GO for some bis-- cookies," he said.

"Me too.  I don't think Pledge and Mr Clean would quite satisfy me," Matthew said, looking around at the cleaners on the shelf.

Daniel gave him a look of purest mischief, eyes twinkling.

"There's a Dairy Queen over the road........ I've been begging to go since I arrived in the states."

"You've never BEEN to a Dairy Queen?" Matthew said in shock. Daniel opened the closet door a crack and peered around it.

"Coast's clear- come on, lead on McDuff......."

"What about your boyfriend?" Matthew said doubtfully. Daniel grinned.

"What about yours?"

"He'll go nuts."

"So will mine. Come on."

Matthew grinned, unable to help himself, and followed Daniel into the corridor. Daniel led him swiftly through the halls, dodging the crew with ease. Matthew looked around him eagerly, but was trying too hard to keep pace to see anything worthwhile. Daniel led him out of a fire exit, and Matthew glanced across the car park lot to see the Dairy Queen sign across the highway. Daniel lifted his feet off the fire escape, leaned his elbows on the rails and slid to the ground.

"Over the fence and off we go."

"What are you, an expert escape artist?" Matthew asked, looking at the fence with trepidation.

Daniel grinned and took off, scaling the fence with ease.  He dropped onto the grass on the outside and looked back at Matthew.  "Come on, before someone pokes their head out of the doors!"

"I can't climb this fence!" Matthew said.

"It's easy.  And you've got a couple inches on me, you could easily pull yourself over."

"And I also have BIG FEET that don't fit into the fence like yours," Matthew said as he tried gaining a foothold without success.

"Jump, then," Daniel said, looking up at the edge of the fence.

Matthew tried jumping, but without success.  He looked around quickly, trying to find a gate or another way out.  He eyes settled on a box a little further down the fence.

Daniel followed his gaze.  "Yes, use that.  Come on, we're SO close!"

Matthew dashed towards the box.  He put a tentative foot on it until he was certain it would hold his weight, then easily pulled himself over the fence and dropped down beside Daniel.

Both boys took one furtive look behind them, before walking quickly up to the highway.  They successfully managed to dodge traffic and finally walked into the Dairy Queen.

Daniel looked around him in wonder, pictures of all the delicious ways they fixed ice cream on every available wall space.  He spotted the cooler of frozen cakes, opening it up and standing there with his mouth wide open.

"Dan?  Daniel?  What do you want?" Matthew said from the counter, having already placed his order for a large hot fudge sundae with extra hot fudge.

Daniel turned away from the freezer and headed up to the counter.  "What's good?"

The girl at the counter smiled even more when she moved her eyes from Matthew to Daniel.  "I haven't yet found anything I don't like," the girl said suggestively.

"I've never been here before," Daniel said, still surveying the menu.

"You're from England, right?" the girl asked.

"Yeah.  We don't have these over there."

"How about I make you a banana split?  That's got to be one of the largest and more flavorful ways to eat the ice cream," the girl suggested.

"I don't want bananas.  Just ice cream and toppings, LOTS of toppings," Daniel said, smiling sweetly.

The girl just about melted herself, but went off and concocted a dish of the soft serve ice cream, ladeling on toppings and sprinkling on chocolate pieces, nuts, cookies, until she had no more room.  When she sat that on the counter, Matthew spoke up.

"If you can make that for him, make one for me, WITHOUT the nuts.  Please?" Matthew smiled his most sweet smile.

The poor girl was flustered, but went off and made another concoction.  When she got back to the counter, Daniel was already trying his.

"You're simply the most wonderful person in the world," Daniel said in his rich, English accent.

"And I couldn't agree more," Matthew added, trying not to get outshown by Daniel.

The girl couldn't stop smiling, and she'd completely lost the ability it speak.  She rang up the order and Matthew pulled out a few ones in order to pay for his part, waiting on Daniel to do the same.  When Daniel kept eating the ice cream, Matthew spoke.

"You owe for half?" he suggested.

Daniel blushed, swallowing what he had in his mouth.  "I'm sorry mate, I don't have any cash on me.  Pay you back at the arena?"

Matthew nodded, pulling out the rest of his change and paying for the ice cream.  The two boys left the speechless cashier and settled into a booth, diving without words into their ice cream.

Rolf searched about as much of the area as he could without demanding entry to restricted areas, and found no sign of one blond, green eyed, 5'10 brat.  Or at least not the one that belonged to him. Eventually he gave up scanning the same corridors over and over, and called to Eric.

"I'm going to go back and talk to Marc, and find out what's going on here."

"Maybe Matthew went back to join him." Eric said reassuringly. Rolf grimaced.

"Or possibly he went back out to the car. Or home."

"He wouldn't take off without letting you know."

Rolf gave Eric an askance look. Eric grinned.

"Have faith. I'll keep an eye out for here and corral him if I see him."

"Thanks." Rolf headed back towards the public areas of the stadium, fought his way through gathering crowds and found Marc sitting alone in the middle of three seats. Marc concentrated very hard on his program at the sight of him, getting visibly smaller. Rolf sat down beside him and tapped the program.

"Hey."

"Hey?" Marc looked around, trying not to sound too worried. "No sign of Matty?"

"No. And I'd like to know exactly what happened before he vanished." Rolf settled back in his seat, fixing Marc with a steady look that it was difficult to either look at or look away from.  "He's been looking forward to this concert for weeks, do you want to tell me why he vanished the minute I left you two alone together?"

"Want to?" Marc said, quietly.

"Let me rephrase that. WHAT happened when I left the two of you alone, or needn't I ask?"

"No sir, probably not," Marc said, dropping his eyes.

Rolf continued to stare, waiting for the gory details.

Marc squirmed uncomfortably, before looking up. "I continued to rib Matthew about being here. And he took off, after I......suggested he buy the hot pink t-shirt with Val's face plastered on it."

"Did we, or did we not already discuss that the comments were to be left alone?"

"Yes, sir," Marc said quietly.

"Do I have to remind you that you too are attending this concert, on your own free will? Or at least you will be, should Matthew turn up?"

"I know, sir."

"We will discuss this when I get you home."

Marc squirmed in his seat, knowing full well what that meant. "Yes, sir," he responded quietly. "Can I help look for him?"

"No, I think you have helped enough, don't you? You may remain right here,  and you are not to leave unless Eric or myself tells you to. Understood?"

"Yes sir. And I am sorry for making him run."

Rolf let out a grunt and headed back up the steps. He was greeted in the corridor by Eric, who was accompanied by another gentleman, someone dressed mostly in black, tall, solid and definitely irate. Rolf recognised the expression if not the face. Eric gave him a slightly hassled glance.

"No sign? It's the day for it, we've got another brat gone AWOL too."

"Mine." the man in black said shortly. Rolf had sufficient sympathy to hold out a hand despite his anxieties over Matthew.

"Rolf Monet."

"Luke McNeil." Luke shook his hand firmly. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be taking up police time- you get your brat sorted out."

"I'm starting to think he headed home," Rolf said grimly. "A friend of ours has been teasing him when I'm out of earshot-"

"Marc?" Eric asked. Rolf nodded.

"I'm guessing Matthew's pretty upset."

"And most likely keeping very quiet somewhere," Eric finished. "Rolf this is a BIG stadium, with a LOT of boltholes. Chances are that you won't find him, there's nearly twelve thousand people here."

Rolf didn't answer, but the thought of Matthew upset and not being found was not a pleasant one, and both other men were sympathetic to it.

"Will he answer if you put out a message on the speaker system?" Lukesuggested. "I know for a fact mine won't, but- Matthew is it? might be more receptive."

"It's worth a try." Eric agreed. "The other thing I'd suggest is checking the back halls and the carpark here- he had the pass to get into these corridors, he may well have looked for somewhere quiet around here."

Eric's RT buzzed static, then put out a code. Eric gave them an apologetic look and headed for the nearest door, pulling the RT out to reply. Luke shook his head at Rolf.

"Suppose I show you how to get into the carpark?"

"What about your partner?" Rolf said, startled, following him. Luke pulled a face.

"The concert isn't going to start without him. WHICH he's well aware of. And I have pretty much a whole team out looking for him. His majesty declined to co operate with the stage manager and change the direction of his entrances at short notice. I'd imagine once he shows up, the stage manager will be happy if he jets in from above on a high wire so long as he performs."

Rolf stifled a grin. Luke cast a quick look at him and smiled faintly.

"Quite. This is the back door- hey, Sally!" he added to a teenager in black who was sitting on the steps, smoking. She glanced up and smiled.

"Hey Luke."

"Seen Val anywhere?"

"Yes- he was in the car park here with another guy about ten minutes ago - blond, jeans- they were on the steps, talking. I thought it was an interview or something."

"See where they went?" Luke demanded. Rolf tapped his shoulder.

"If that was Matthew with him, I KNOW where they went."

Luke's startled glance followed Rolf's nod towards the Dairy Queen sign across the highway.

"Dairy WHAT?"

"Dairy Queen.  It's an ice cream shop," Rolf said, eyeing the fence and the busy highway that separated them from the Dairy Queen.

Luke's eyes were traveling the same route, easily picturing Val scaling the fence.  He was going to make certain that Val knew crossing a four lane highway for ice cream wasn't going to happen again anytime soon.  "Come on, my truck is -- wait."  Luke huffed in frustration.  "The truck won't hold four of us."

"I've got mine out front," Rolf volunteered.

"I'll get you a pass to park back here.  They'll have your name at the gate over there," Luke said, pointing.

Rolf turned and opened the door, heading back through the maze towards the public areas of the arena.  He spotted Eric and stopped for a moment.  "Think we might know where they are, across the street at the Dairy Queen.  Skip the announcement over the speakers until we get back, hopefully two brats in tow."

"Will do," Eric said, turning to direct a stagehand to their destination.

Rolf quickly walked back around the arena, taking a moment to quickly look and make sure Marc hadn't moved.  He fought his way out of the arena and into the parking lot, happy that it wasn't as mobbed now that most of the people were there.  The warm up band was scheduled to start any moment now, so most people had already parked and made their way into the arena.

Rolf slid into the driver's seat and made his way to the side of the arena.  He had to persuade a traffic officer to allow him through areas already full of cars to get back to the back, but once to the gate the security officer there let him immediately pull through.  He spotted Luke and drove in that direction, Luke walking purposely towards him.

Rolf barely came to a stop before Luke had the door open and a foot on the running boards.  "Thanks.  I hope both ARE together," Luke said, closing the door.

"Yes," Rolf said, driving out of the arena and working his way towards the Dairy Queen, wanting to make sure Matthew was safe and sound.

They were half way towards the junction that would get them onto the highway when Rolf cleared his throat, a thought occurring to him.

"You ARE talking about Val Quentin aren't you?"

Luke nodded, somewhat sourly. "THE Val Quentin. Five foot four of unquenchable energy and cheek. I'm his bodyguard."

Rolf looked at him, startled. Luke growled.

"Exactly. But he has about all the awareness of danger of a kitten, and he doesn't stop to think when he's excited. "

"I'm sure Matthew had something to do with persuading him out of the building."

"Val has a tendency to do whatever occurs to him at the time." Luke said dryly. "And think it through later. If we think at all. When I get through with him for vanishing out of the arena, alone, AND heading into an unsafe, unchecked area IN a strange country-"

"He probably won't be recognized." Rolf said instinctively, trying to reassure the hardening tone in Luke's voice. Luke nodded.

"That's the one reason I haven't got the police involved. In London he COULDN'T do this. He'd be mobbed." Luke cast an anxious glance at the heavy traffic ahead and tried to stop his hand tapping restlessly on the dashboard.

"I'm sorry, you don't want to hear all this. Tell me about your Matthew."

Rolf grinned.  "Five foot ten inches of unquenchable energy, always living up to his nickname of Tigger for his ability to practically bounce nonstop.  He is smart, intelligent, but is driven by emotion more than anything else.  He enjoys life to the fullest, choosing to do whatever makes him happy, or choosing not to do whatever he doesn't feel like doing at the time, regardless of the later consequences."

"That sounds familiar," Luke said with a dry smile.

"I thought it might," Rolf said with a sidelong glance.  He grimaced when he saw emergency lights at the intersection ahead.  "Looks like an accident ahead."  He took a quick glance in his side mirror and took a quick right.  He only had to drive about a mile out of his way in order to return in the opposite direction.

Luke could barely keep himself from tapping out his growing frustration across Rolf's dashboard.  He took a quick look at his watch and huffed in exasperation.

"Still about 30 minutes before Val is to go on, right?" Rolf ventured.

"Yes.  The warm-up band is to finish their set about 8:30, and Val needs to be backstage at that time.  The band can stay out longer if necessary, but we don't want to do that," Luke said as Rolf pulled into the parking lot.

Luke had the door open and was halfway out before Rolf could cut the power to the truck.

The two boys were polishing off the last of their special, delicious treat.    Their backs were to the door, so neither knew of the tornadoes coming directly toward them. Rolf put his long legs to use, and managed to be right behind Luke when he entered the shop. There was no hiding, and  "Daniel" and Matthew were spotted immediately. Luke and Rolf attacked from each side, making sure there was nowhere to run to.

"Excuse me, could you tell me where the Val Quentin concert is being held?"  Luke asked standing next to Daniel.

Daniel was unable to look up, that voice and tone all too familiar.

Matthew turned his head and was ready to make a response when he heard a familiar clearing of the throat.

It occurred to him, rather abruptly, that he'd left the arena without mentioning the fact to anyone, and was sitting eating ice cream when to all intents and purposes he'd been missing for-

"About an hour." Rolf said mildly, seeing his glance at his watch.

Matthew glanced up at him, not quite sure of his reception. Daniel's lip was out but he saw Matthew's expression and instantly got to his feet, losing the  pout.

"Don't be mad, it was my fault." he said quickly to Rolf. "I got him to come with me, it was my idea."

Matthew waited for the polite, 'Thank you but Matthew isn't a sheep' reply, but it didn't come. Wondering if Rolf was as susceptible to Daniel's blue eyes as he was, he looked for his partner in some surprise. Rolf put a hand on his shoulder.

"If you've quite finished the sugar poisoning, I think we need to get Val and Luke back to the arena, and then we'll deal with our problem."

"Val....?"  Matthew said, confused. The big, forbidding man in the black jeans and t shirt, pulled Val out of his chair.


"MR Quentin, you have about twenty minutes before you have to be onstage,  and you're not even changed- I suggest we get moving? NOW?"

Matthew blinked, looking at the untidy fair hair and blue eyes of Daniel.  It took a moment of looking to match the boy in front of him to the beautiful and immaculately groomed, costumed man he'd seen in publicity photographs.  Then he blinked. Val gave him an apologetic shrug and left it there.

"The warm up band can do another set." he said cheerfully to Luke as they headed for the carpark. "That's what they're paid for."

"They're already raising cain about their contracts-" The conversation dropped to a muted, whispered argument as Val and Luke reached the carpark.  It stopped in the car: Val chatted at length and charmingly to Rolf and Matthew about the local scenery while they drove back to the arena while Luke sat silently, big, forbidding, face grim. Matthew cast him one or two nervous looks, glad it was Rolf next to him. Val however dug the big man in  the ribs as they reached the arena, leaning across him to get the door.

"Well come on then Gorilla, out of steam?"

"I am saving all my energy." Luke assured him. Val grinned. Luke caught Matthew's eye and a faint shadow of a wink close one grey eye for a second.    Then he took a firm grip on Val's hand and looked for Rolf.

"You two won't get in the main doors, come through the back with us and we'll get you re seated."

They were led into a busy corridor where a small crowd promptly mobbed Val and Luke.

"Stay there." Val said airily over his shoulder, heading for the dressing room. Luke shook his head, followed him and shut the door. The crowd scattered, even more noisy and flustered. Rolf pulled Matthew out of the way and they both flattened themselves against the wall.

"What did Marc say to you?" Rolf said in Matthew's ear.

Matthew was still in shock, not believing he had just hidden in a closet, climbed over a fence and ate ice cream with one of the hottest stars of  the music groups.  He looked askance at Rolf and replied "Who cares?!  I just had ice cream with.....THE Val Quentin!"

"I care, young man, because I have just spent the last hour looking for you, worried to death that you were distraught over what Marc said," Rolf said, trying to make sure Matthew heard him.

Matthew just shook his head as the hubbub increased when someone knocked and the door was opened to allow someone entrance into Val's dressing room.   Rolf gave up trying to talk to Matthew, knowing that between the state of shock he was in, and the excited voices of the rest of the crowd outside the dressing room, it wouldn't be worth it.

Five minutes later, Luke reappeared, looking over the people until he met Rolf's eyes.  He walked over towards him, but his eyes remained on Matthew.

Matthew liked the look of Luke, but something about that steely grey gaze sent his stomach plummeting, almost as much as Rolf's blue gaze did when he was in trouble.  He took a step closer to Rolf.

Luke smiled inside before speaking.  "Val is dressed and ready to go, and wanted a word from you before he'll leave the dressing room.  Go on in."

Matthew's eyes lit up, and he nearly mowed a few reporters down as he walked up to the door.  He took a deep breath before opening the door, trying to ignore all the questions he heard being asked.  He shut the door behind him, instantly quelling the din.

Val stood up from his dressing table, his hair slick and shining, his face transformed by small touches of makeup, and his dirty and torn jeans traded in for sleek, black leather pants, topped by a sequined blue tank top, setting off the blue eyes to perfection.

Matthew's heart stopped for a moment, before he noticed a change in Val's face.  He quickly swallowed what he could of his surprise, and tried to remember the Daniel he had met in a closet.  "Luke said you wanted to see me?"

Val appreciated the return to candor.  "Yeah.  I wanted to find out where you were sitting, because I've come up with a great idea to help you get your friend back."

Matthew broke into a huge smile.  "We're in the fourth row on the left - no right side of the stage when you look out.  What are you going to do?" he asked conspiratorially.

"Oh, you'll find out soon enough," Val said airily.

"But-"

"Trust me on this one.  I know what I'm doing."  Val and Matthew both jumped at the loud knock.

Luke and Rolf walked in.  "Val, it's time we got you backstage," Luke said.

"And we need to find our seats for Mr. Quentin's entrance," Rolf said, a hand on Matthew's shoulder.

Matthew wanted to say so much, but didn't know how to word any of it and there was no time.  He was certain that was the first and the last time he'd get to speak to Val.  "Good luck," he said, being propelled out the door by Rolf.

"Thanks again for your help," Luke said to Rolf, as he shepherded his charge down the hall, his voice echoing in the small tunnels, making sure people were out of his way.

Rolf took hold of Matthew's hand and began to pull him towards the stairwell. Matthew was still in utter awe.

"Pretty exciting encounter." Rolf said, trying to snap him out of his shock.

"I'll say." Matthew replied walking with Rolf, but still turning around and looking back.

"And won't Marc be surprised to-" Rolf started, before getting cut off.

"NO! Don't mention any of this to Marc. Not until later."

"Why not?"

"Just please, not until after."

"Alright just as well since he wouldn't be able to hear you through the cheers."

They quickly walked up the stairwell and thru the corridors. They made it to their seats, just before the lights fell. Marc was relieved to see Matthew following Rolf. But was quickly made uncomfortable when Rolf took the seat next to Marc, leaving Matthew on the end. He cast a few anxious glances towards Matthew, but Matthew was concentrating all his attention on the stage. For a minute or two it looked very like a deliberate effort not to see Marc, and Marc didn't miss Matthew's hand in Rolf's. Marc wished he was close enough to say something, wishing too he'd not needled Matthew quite so hard- then the first few notes of one of Val's most famous songs drifted over the arena and Matthew along with most of the rest of the crowd, was on his feet and oblivious to anyone but Val Quentin. Marc turned his attention back to the singer, pulling a face at the pretty boy on the stage. Really rather strikingly pretty he had to admit. And with a better voice thanhe'd expected. By the end of the third song he was leaning forward, attention caught. Val finished the song amidst cheers and screams from the audience and the lights lifted a little. Val shaded his eyes to peer at the audience and walked across the front of the stage, waving to people.

"Hi, it's great to see so many of you from the US! And you ALL understand the songs, this is incredible! They told me in Britain you'd all need translators."

"I'll translate for you Val!" Someone screamed from the crowd. Val laughed and waved to her.

"I'll call you the minute I need an interpreter darling. You know there's several things I love about the US after just twenty four hours here. The first is the traffic. Wow. You guys REALLY know how to do a traffic jam.  Britain has NOTHING on you. And the ice cream here......incredible. But you know I was a little worried when I came on tour here, because I was told that in America they think of me as a teeny bopper. Yes really. Shocking, isn't it?"

Val grinned at the howls of protest from the crowd. Marc sank a little lower in his seat.

"And," Val went on charmingly, "That there are people in this crowd tonight who need proof that I'm worth coming to see... well, a friend of mine is here tonight and I'd like to do a little proving to him. Seat number H579.  Mr Marc Diabolo...... "

Marc's heart thudded. People around him were screaming and pointing, the spotlights swirled over the audience and then focused on him. Val shaded his eyes and smiled.

"Mr Diabolo, come on down."

Marc shook his head. Rolf fought Matthew off with one hand and Marc sincerely hoped that Rolf would save him- but Rolf pulled him to his feet and steered him to the end of the row.

"Go on Marc. Go and see for yourself what you think of this guy."

"I think I want to go home!" Marc said loudly, but two stagehands were waiting in the aisle and he had no choice. On stage Val winked to the band who began a slow, steady beat and Val went to dance with the drummer.

"I was working in the lab, late one night when my eyes beheld an EVIL sight..... the Monster from his tomb began to arise and...."

Matthew screeched with pure joy. Val turned up his collar and gave a sinister smirk at the audience.

"..suddenly to my surprise he did the Mash!  He did the Monster Mash...!"

Marc was pushed firmly onto the stage. Val stopped the song and batted his eyelashes, waving coyly to Marc over the microphone.

"HelLO big boy."

The audience cracked up. Val saw Marc's look of terror deepen and laughed, jogging across to him.

"Hey come on. I only bite the people I REALLY like."

He grabbed Marc's hand and towed him into the middle of the stage.

Marc was blinded by the lights, pink to the tips of his toes with embarrassment, and at the same time, completely unable to catch his breath.  Seeing Val up close and personal was another thing altogether.  The blue eyes were captivating, the smile magnetic.

Luke stood up, keeping an eye on Val.  This was not a scripted part of the show and changes always made Luke's hair stand on end, always wondering what Val's ultimate reasons were for whatever he was doing.  Having anyone this close to Val was a huge security risk, as well as cause for possible riots by the crowd, everyone imaging themselves in the lucky person's shoes.  He pushed the talk button on the RT.  "Keep eyes on the front row Dan.  Tony, you keep your eyes on stage."

Val stepped into a spotlight pool and pulled Marc after him, keeping hold of his hand as he winked at a girl in the front row.

"I know. Isn't he cute? Is that REALLY a word in this country? Well Marc, I hear you think I'm a teeny bopper?"

The audience screamed protest. Marc wondered whether it was possible to die from sheer embarrassment. Val batted his eyelashes.

"Do I LOOK teeny? Honestly?"

Luke rolled his eyes skywards. Up in the seats, Rolf corralled Matthew, pinned him to his seat and blocked enough of the aisle with his legs to prevent Matthew bouncing out of control.

"uh.. .no..." Marc was stammering. Val signaled to the drummer who started a gentle beat, and steered Marc towards the pianist.

"Well Marc. This is Joey. And he isn't teeny either- hit it Joey."

The pianist grinned and drifted into a gentle, familiar tune. Val propped Marc against the piano, kept hold of his hand and began to sing.

"You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss," Val's voice floated over the gentle sounds of the piano.

Half the crowd was laughing hysterically at the look on Marc's face while the other half was swooning, imaging themselves in Marc's shoes.

Matthew was one of those laughing.  He thought he was going to bust his gut from laughing and would have rolled on the floor save for the fact he wouldn't have been able to see Marc's face, which was, at this moment in time, absolutely priceless.

Val winked slowly at Marc, a gesture only seen by Marc.  "A sigh is just a sigh, the fundamental things apply as time goes by."

Marc was certain his face would have burst into flames, save for the sweat that was beading up.  If it wasn't for the piano, he'd have been in a puddle on the floor, dying of embarrassment.

"And when two lovers woo they still say I love you, on that you can rely, the world will always welcome lovers...as time goes by," Val sang, alternately staring directly at Marc and singing only TO Marc, peppering that with huge eye rolls and funny faces at the crowd.  He wanted the crowd to think he was showing Marc up and they were eating it up.

Luke was trying very hard to figure out what hell Val was thinking, when his eyes fell on Rolf and Matthew, and an empty seat.  It clicked then, that this must be the reason Matthew ran.  He shook his head in amazement at the obviously quick friendship that had been struck between Val and Matthew.  The business they were in made having friends almost impossible, and having friends that lived their lifestyle was almost unheard of.This probably was the first time Val had met another couple. And he was certainly making the most of it. Relaxing slightly against the curtain, Luke folded his arms and his lips twitched as he watched the young man captured by Val being serenaded by his blue eyed, wicked smiled lover.

In the middle of the stage, Marc was starting to have a serious problem with standing upright. Val softened his voice, the music dropping for the last phrases. Actually, Luke knew, this like many of the old songs was one of his favorites and his golden voice sang the beautiful lyrics with real love.

"Its still the same old story- a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die....... the world will always welcome lovers,"

Val paused and held the mike out to Marc. Who swallowed hard. Val laughed and held it out to the audience who sang the last line for him.

"as time goes by."

Val blew them a kiss, squeezed Marc's hand and delivered him to a waiting stagehand, who had to chase Marc in order to keep up with his rapid exit from the stage. Val snapped the mike cable around, the musicians struck up a quick time and Val's voice pursued Marc down the aisle.



You're the top, you're Mahatma Gandhi,
You're the top! you're Napoleon brandy,
You're the purple light, of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery, you're Garbo's salary, 
You're cellophane!
Val turned around on the stage, staring directly at Luke to finish the song.   He still needed brownie points for having left the arena unsupervised.


You're sublime, you're a turkey dinner,
You're the time, of the Derby Winner,
I'm a toy balloon that's fated soon to pop;
But if baby I'm the bottom you're the top!
Marc barely made it back to his seat without falling.  His legs were complete jelly and he couldn't seem to drag enough oxygen in to breathe properly.  He collapsed into the chair, shaking with adrenalin.

Matthew leaned over and grinned wickedly at Marc, then stuck out his tongue until Rolf put his hand on Matthew's leg and warned him to stop.

Several people around Marc were whispering and pointing, and a few even tried talking to him.  Marc was still in shock and also still enthralled with Val that he paid no attention.

Val continued on through his concert, never slowing down.  He had the crowd singing along with him, cheering and laughing at his jokes, falling silent when he sang only with the accompaniment of one guitar and a single light as the rest of the band took a quick break.  When he left the stage the crowd went wild, just about everyone with a lighter had it turned on, and it only took thirty seconds before the entire crowd was chanting "Val, Val, Val!" including Matthew and Marc.

Val ran over to Luke as the crowd grew louder.  "I want to see Matthew again.  Get him backstage, okay?"

Luke nodded as Val quickly made his way back to the curtain, then burst through to thunderous applause to finish three more songs before leaving the stage for good.

A stagehand made his way to Matthew's seat and told him to wait by the stage stairs after the show. Matthew glanced at Rolf who shook his head and nodded.

"I don't know, I bring you out around an English guy for two hours.... Go on. Be careful, we'll wait here for you, twenty minutes MAX."

Matthew dodged Marc, tousling his hair.

"Jealous yet?"

"Get LOST Mocoso." Marc said sourly. Rolf raised an eyebrow at him.

"Well? Are you?"

*

There was no answer at Matthew and Rolf's front door. Muttering slightly, Marc headed around to the garden gate. He'd nearly turned down the invitation to lunch- except Rolf had extended it and Matthew's addition on the answer phone had been heartfelt and hopeful.

"Marc please? Don't be mad? I miss you- come over and spend today with us?"

Marc had had to live through MAJOR embarrassment from their friends, each of whom Matthew had gleefully told about Val's song to him.  He had gotten fed up quickly with the teasing, but refused to confront Matthew about it as he had no legs to stand on, as he had done the same to him.  And Rolf had made it perfectly clear that there wouldn't be a repeat of that when he had taken him home.

Marc was just about around the corner of the house when he heard unfamiliar voices.  "What is this, a damned party?" Marc groused, only having wanted the company of Rolf and Matthew.

He just about turned around and left.  Upon further reflection, he guessed it could only be neighbor stopping to say hi as there wasn't a car in the driveway.  He turned the corner walked up towards the steps to the back deck.

"Hi Marc!" Matthew exclaimed as he turned around in his chair.  "Come on up."

Marc saw a muscular gentleman talking with Rolf, and a thin, mop haired boy talking with Matthew.  It wasn't until Rolf stood up for introductions, that he realized that it was Val Quentin in the flesh.

"Marc Diablo, this is Luke McNeil, and Val Quentin, who I think you've met before?"

Marc stuttered out "Hi" and excused himself quickly to get a drink inside.

Luke shook his head in resignation, while Rolf stifled a laugh.  "Go inside and talk to him Matthew," he said, sitting back down.

"Let me?" Val said slipping to his feet. "I kind of started this, I'll see if I can help any."

Matthew hesitated but Luke nodded.

"Charm is something he does professionally," he said apologetically to Rolf as Val slipped inside. "Honestly. Birds out of trees. Shy boys out of kitchens- he'll be fine."

Val slipped around the kitchen doorway and gave Marc a smile as Marc glanced around.

"Hi there."

"Hi," Marc said stiffly. Val came to get a glass out of the cupboard.

"I thought I'd have a glass of whatever you're having. And thank you for being such a good sport at the concert the other night. I was glad when Matthew said he'd invited you today."

Marc flushed but didn't answer. Val leaned against the counter.

"If its any consolation, Luke nearly wrung my neck about having you on stage. Never mind about me and Matthew disappearing like we did. Luke ISN'T pretty when he's annoyed either."

"Rolf sort of...." Marc paused, flushing still darker. Val waited.

"....pointed out that torturing Matthew was his exclusive right.."

Val smiled. That same, sweet, beautiful smile from the stage. Marc looked up at the bright blue eyes and promptly fell into them.

"He's not getting ALL the attention," Matthew said, quickly getting to his feet and heading for the kitchen.

Rolf was the one shaking his head this time.  "Marc wanting no attention and Matthew needing it all.  Does Val have any idea what he's gotten himself in the middle of?"

Luke smiled easily, luxuriating in the simple fact of being outside in the sun, talking with friends as if it were normal.  "Val needs that type of attention more than you'll ever know."

Rolf sat back, a thoughtful expression on his face.  "I could take a wild guess and say that you both could use some time like this.  Being on the road and away from home for such long periods can't be restful, and then on top of that fending the press away constantly."

"We have a place in England in the hills that we don't get to often enough."   Luke continued talking, a friendship blossoming without effort.

"Trading war stories?" Matthew asked as he walked in on the tale end of the conversation between Marc and Val.

Marc snapped back to reality quickly and turned to Matthew.  "Right, Peanut.   And please, ever so kindly, share YOUR war story of the night?"

Val laughed and turned to Matthew.  "Yes, go on?" ending with the usual British question mark.

Matthew's eyes lit up mischievously.  "Oh...right," he said somberly.  "After I was given a SHORT twenty minutes with you after the show, Rolf dropped me off at home and told me in no uncertain terms to get ready for bed.  He then had to take Marc back home, which took....forever, if you ask me. You know how the waiting is the worst part, right?"

Matthew stopped as the other two nodded cautiously.

"Well....after having to wait for SO long, I heard Rolf come home and park in the garage.  Then his steps, slow and heavy up the stairs.  I knew...well, you know how you just KNOW things?"

Matthew stopped again, both boys nodding slowly, both saying yes.

"Well.....he came upstairs and sat on the edge of the bed.  I was burrowed under the covers.  He...pulled them back slowly."

"Then --" Matthew finished tragically.  "He kissed me goodnight."  A wicked smile followed that pronouncement.

Val and Marc looked at Matthew, then each other.  "Let's GET HIM!" They said together, chasing Matthew outside and down the steps, laughing wildly.






~The End~


Copyright Rolf and Ranger 2010

10 comments:

Sierra said...

terrific

Anonymous said...

what fun!

Ranger said...

Thank you!

Swetz said...

OMG! Seriously, this was like over-the-edge awesome! lol.. I could see the whole thing play out, laughing, jumping...I ran around the house twice before I could finish reading this.. LOVED it!

Ranger said...

Thanks Swetz! We love these guys too.

Anonymous said...

I am reading through these wonderful stories again for what seems like the umpteenth time, dont ever stop writing guys I love all your stories so much. Keyx

Melissa Williams said...

Love how u blended the 2salami groups of chatacters. L love val and luke and next i am going to read about the other 33 boys. Great job with this.

Anonymous said...

I love val! please write more <3

Lady in Red said...

Great crossover! Now I'm definitely going to read MMR after...so good! :-)

Sweets said...

I randomly found these stories and I LOVE them. Val and Luke are my favorite.

Most of the artwork on the blog is by Canadian artist Steve Walker.

Rolf and Ranger’s Next Book will be called The Mary Ellen Carter. The Mary Ellen Carter and other works in progress can be read at either the Falls Chance Ranch Discussion Group or the Falls Chance Forum before they are posted here at the blog. So come and talk to the authors and be a part of a work in progress.





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