"Baz and I were smoking a lot of grass one night
and listening to Can's Mother Sky, laughing our heads
off and taking the piss out of it.
That's where that idea came from."
An interview on the first
completed recording of
The Bang Bang
Tom shifted, rolling onto his side, closer to Barry who moaned softly and tucked his head down under Tom's chin, his breath sighing soft against his chest.
Instinctively one of Tom's arms came up around his twin's back, fingers curling up into his hair, pulling him closer without waking him.
Despite what he'd first told Laura -how he had to keep Barry on a lead- he hadn't really been telling the whole truth. That he had to protect his brother as well. All the time. Despite Barry's obnoxiousness, his vulgar comments and… and the Other one… the one without a name and that….
Barry needed him. Tom grows on Barry, and Barry grows on Tom, it was like a pact. That's the reason why he wouldn't get a separation… one of the reasons. But he wasn't going to think about that…
A sound outside their room made Tom look sharply towards the door. Why the hell couldn't Eddie ever leave them alone? He listened for a moment, but there were no other noises. It must have just been the house settling. Tom relaxed.
Baz's hands were twisted together at the wrist under the covers. He was all pulled into himself as always, pressing against Tom. It was so natural. Barry's head on his shoulder, or a hand on his arm or his jaw when they slept.
Barry had always pretended to be Robbie's twin when they were little kids. Sometimes he would pretend that Tom came in from the marshes. Tom never liked when Barry did that. He would ignore Barry until Robbie had to go cook or something, and then they were twins again.
And then there was like a switch. He couldn't pinpoint exactly when it had happened, but then it was him, Tom, asking why they couldn't get separated. When Robbie finally told them the risks, it was Barry who was sitting there quiet, instead of him. After that, Tom stopped asking and Baz stopped pretending.
Ever since they came to Humbleden, Barry had changed. Slowly, almost unperceptively until you looked back and remembered how it was back at the Head.
Tom pulled away to look at his brother. Asleep like this you would never know he could be like he was up on stage. Insults flying this way and that. Sure, it was brilliant but it wasn't really what he'd ever expected of Barry who used to hide from the cameras, and still did sometimes. Barry who barely spoken for weeks after they'd left home. Sometimes Tom was struck by the change in him. So fucking desperate when he was singing. He wanted all eyes on him. Needed attention. Craved it like air. Like breathing. He wanted it all the time, but it really, really showed when he was performing.
But it wasn't that he was jumped up like. He didn't really want attention from Tubs and Spitz, and certainly not from Nick. He wanted it from Tom. And Laura… and that was a brass off. It was one of the things Tom hated about him. Or, well, not really hated; but that Barry talked to her like he did sometimes. Being a git. He hated that. How he had to be up in your face all the time.
And then there was Paul.
Tom noticed but didn't really notice how Paul was always at Barry's side, leaning over his shoulder, laughing with him. Tom had also heard the stories about Paul's fling with Chris Dervish, the lead singer of Paul's old band. He'd never really thought much of it. He'd seen Paul snogging with boys before. Paul was Paul was Paul and Paul didn't act like a nance so it didn't really matter. Paul had kissed Baz at the party, but they were all so high that he really hadn't thought anything of it. Nor, he thought, did Paul or Barry. But then something had happened that really made him start to think. Start to take all those little moments seriously…
It had been just the other night, and he'd kipped off a bit when Baz and Paul were smoking grass and really taking the mickey out of something; he wasn't sure what, but it was their laughing that had half woken him. He didn't even bother to open his eyes, but he remembered how their laughing had died down into those little sighs people make when they can't quite believe how stupid or funny something is, or why they're being daft enough to laugh at it, and then there was this weird silence except for the song they had playing over and over. It hadn't been weird then, but when Tom looked back on it, it had been entirely too long. And then Barry had said, "Do you want to kiss me, Paul?" and that's when Tom opened his eyes. He thought, for a moment, that he had dreamt it, in some half-awake state, but when he looked over at them from the end of the couch he knew that he hadn't.
His position had caused Barry to be half laying down, twisted around awkwardly so that his back was as much to Tom as possible, as though trying to cut him out of the situation. He was leaning on his elbows, facing Paul who was sitting cross-legged on the floor. They were watching each other, Paul's smile not entirely faded from his face. Barry looked totally serious, but there was something else there too. Something Tom had never really seen before. This intent expression. His eyes were on Paul like he was the only person in the world… only he looked unsure. That was the part that really made Tom's gut twist. The fact that Barry looked more troubled than anything. Like he'd thought about the situation over and over, and then stumbled upon it the wrong way, screwing it all up. That was exactly what it looked like… and the way he'd said those words. Like he was hoping desperately from them to be right.
Paul let out a soft, inoffensive laugh. He was smiling as he always did when something bothered him. He was never one to draw attention to himself, but his smile was a little strained as he looked down at the floor. "Barry…" he said, not quite sure what to do with himself maybe. He played with a loose thread in the carpet with one hand, the other holding the joint between his thumb and forefinger out near his shoulder, elbow balanced on one knee. Suddenly he wouldn't meet Barry's eyes, who kept saying, "Look at me, look at me," in that vague way he had, like he was dreaming. Like he was talking to 'It.'
When Paul finally did, Tom's stomach clenched because he could see the want there in Paul's eyes, and Barry must have been able to too because he brushed his fingers lightly along Paul's jawline. Paul had taken Barry's wrist and pushed his hand gently away. "Don't, Baz."
There had been an embarrassing ten seconds of silence, then Paul tried to break it by making another crack about the song. At first, Barry was detached, but then they were laughing again. When Tom finally sat up, Barry did too, without even thinking about it, just glancing at him briefly. It was clear that neither of them knew that Tom saw what he did. They continued on almost like normal, but Tom noticed more things now. How Barry wouldn't take his eyes off of the bassist until they went up to bed, and how Paul couldn't quite hold that gaze. There was something like guilt in his eyes, even through the laughter.
Tom wasn't sure what was going on. He knew for a fact that Barry wasn't like Paul… or wasn't into blokes and that. He was positive of it, even after all of this had happened. So why was his brother stringing Paul along like he was? If that was what he was doing.
Barry muttered something in his sleep, breaking into Tom's thoughts. He shifted, burrowing his face against the sheets, his hand reaching out suddenly until it touched Tom's stomach, just above the join. Barry relaxed, and soon he was breathing normally again.
The realization tore through Tom like a knife …cut them down the middle… and he froze, his eyes widening with understanding. Too many thoughts to understand at once flooded his mind, and he didn't try to sort them out. He didn't want to understand.
He didn't want to think about the loneliness, because… because there was Laura and the fact that Barry was getting to be too much for him… for both of them; too often.
He didn't want to think about this, or about the loneliness Baz must feel because he wasn't sure what was more important to him. His own life as it was, which meant he could make Laura happy too… or his life without his brother…