Disclaimer: I don't own the Beatles, never had and don't really think I'd want to either. I would, however, love to meet them and it makes me sad that I was born so far into the future :((.
ALSO, this story takes place during the summer of 1964 when the Beatles were traveling the United States and Canada for what was known as their first combined United States/Canadian tour, not to be confused with their first ever United States tour that had taken place several months earlier during the winter months :). Just putting that out there in case there was any confusion.
ANYWAY, this is the first fanfic that I've EVER managed to talk myself into posting and it took a lot of convincing SOOO please review go easy? Be honest, but gentle. No flames :)). I'm harmless and would LOVEEE to hear what you think. I'd REALLY appreciate it, thank youuu :)
Follow the Sun
It was August 28, 1964 and the Beatles had just arrived safely as a whole at their destination in the midst of New York City; successfully marking the second time any of them had ever set foot on northeastern United States soil. They were several weeks into their first official American/Canadian tour and excitement as well as jetlag flowed through each of them as they were whisked about like fragile cargo, all while being shielded by heavy security from large crowds of screaming fans that had somehow managed to slip effortlessly into every nook and cranny.
Since their Ed Sullivan Show appearances in Miami and New York several months back, it had been brutally brought to their attention that things had all but remained the same within the city. The fans, much more familiar with them and their music, were crazier it seemed and willing to do anything, anything to see them, or so their road manager Mal Evans had put it. According to him, they were in for even worse a culture shock than what they'd had to deal with their first time within the region.
Initially, the Beatles weren't overly disturbed by the release of information as they'd already completed several shows within several cities of the country by the given point of time. They had begun touring in Daly City, California, ended up in Las Vegas, Nevada, traveled north to Seattle, Washington, continued further into Vancouver, British Columbia, came back to Los Angeles, California, before moving on to Morrison, Colorado, and most recently Cincinnati, Ohio. Judging by what they'd already experienced, they had readily presumed that there wasn't a place that could be crazier than Los Angeles. That, however, was a statement made on the flight over and one by one, as New York manifested before their very eyes; the Beatles were beginning to eat their own words.
There were signs everywhere, most of which portraying a wide variety of colorful not to mention musical messages that ranged from: 'Please, Please Me, Beatles! to 'Love Me Do, Paul McCartney!' to 'I'd Be Happy Just to Dance with John Lennon', to 'I'll Give You All My Loving!' and so on. In addition, existed several artistically drawn signs, scattered about. Some with various pictures of each of them placed creatively inside crudely drawn hearts and others using supplementary means of affection-related depictions in a struggle to stand out, a feat that seemed near impossible in the presumably growing mass of people.
It seemed, fans had stationed themselves in every possible open space from the airport entrance, to the airport exit; and from the airport exit to the awaiting limo, in high hopes that they'd be able to snatch up a Beatle and bring him home. Much like a child finding a stray puppy on the sidewalk, and bringing it home to family for love and cherishment. Only, instead of a band of stray puppies, they were four Beatles. Four British rock sensations straight out of Liverpool, England, and in America for what very well seemed like the first time. In a way, they were like strays. Strays that every living thing seemingly wanted to get their hands on. And despite the considerable amount of time that had passed since their preliminary rise to fame, it all still felt very much like a dream. At least that was how things felt to George Harrison as he clambered third into the waiting limo, following band mates Ringo Starr and John Lennon. He didn't doubt for a minute, however, that the others harbored similar, if not the same, feelings regarding the overall state of affairs.
Both John and Ringo had grabbed the seats closest to the window on either side of the limo, and George frowned, realizing with growing dejectedness that it wasn't going to be much of a scenic ride for him on their second trip through the foreign, energetic, concrete excitement that was New York City. Having been sick with the flu over a good extent of the tour, nothing had been very scenic for him anywhere thus far, let alone New York. And to make matters worse, not only didn't he get a window seat on the flight in, but he had managed to be sick, the very last time they were in New York on what had then been their first official U.S. tour. Needless to say, the current arrangement in seating left him disillusioned.
"Awful sweet of ye' blokes to offer me the window seat," he muttered, sitting down in the large space that was situated between John and Ringo, "Considering I didn't get one on the jet either." His disheartened glare shifted from John and then lingered on Ringo who promptly waved off George's insignificant frustrations, not quite seeing his cause for concern, "Aw come off it, Georgie," he responded, "Paulie hasn't gotten a window seat today yet neither but to be fair, neither Johnny or me got window seats last time we were in New York on the plane or in the limo."
"…I was too sick then to enjoy it or even care…" George grumbled.
John's tone revealed his indifference as he gazed out the window closest to him, "That's not our problem now, is it?" he snapped, "Who are ye' anyway, the bloody queen of the Nile? Y'see one cloud, y'see 'em all!"
"This isn't about the bloody clouds!" George sighed in exasperation, "Y'both bloody well know we don't get to do much sightseeing as it is while touring. Seeing as I didn't get a view on the jet this time around, the least either of y'selfish gits could do is offer me one in the limo! I'd appreciate it more than the lot of ye' that's fer sure."
"Sod off, would ye'?" John muttered offhandedly, "Y'should've thought about that ahead of time…" He then added, "Maybe you'll get one on the way to the show later on, yeah?"
"It'll be dark, y'git!" George retaliated, "It won't matter then…" He couldn't help a fleeting sensation of annoyance towards John. He was being such a wanker today, more so than usual.
"Then you'll see it tomorrow when we leave fer Atlantic City, New Jersey," Ringo added via way of solution, "Paulie too, if 'e wants,"
John scowled, "Speaking a' Paulie, what's taking 'im so long?"
"Ira and Mal took him to the loo," Ringo responded, "Must've needed to go badly."
George cracked a smile, "Poor bloke couldn't wait to poo it seems…"
Ringo couldn't help laughing, "'Ey, it happens, mate."
"Well 'e better bloody well hurry up," a new voice added in contribution to the subject, "We're running on borrowed time as it is."
All three Beatles glanced across the limo to where their manager Brian Epstein had taken a recent seat, what might as well have been fifteen feet away, "And what's the matter with ye', Eppy?" John asked, his tone taking on that mischievous edge it often took on when he was about to mess with someone, "George, Ringo, and me, we not good enough fer ye' over 'ere? Need to fucking sit way the bloody fuck in west Hamburg just to be away from us?"
"Don't start, Lennon," Eppy cautioned, his voice taking on a warning edge as he regarded him with wary brown eyes.
John shook his head, a slightly playful frown tugging at the corner of his lips, "Why so formal? We went over this last night, Eppy, call me Johnny." Both George and Ringo had to fight to keep their laughter in.
Eppy rolled his eyes, in no mood for John's joking, "Lennon, I swear…"
"Aw, now you've gone and hurt m'feelings, love," John mock pouted, managing to remain serious despite his playful acting, "I thought we had something! Didn't last night mean anything to ye'?" More laughter.
Eppy blushed furiously, but said nothing as George and Ringo's laughter filled up his silence. He shifted his gaze to the still open limo door and growled in frustration. Paul was just making his way down the walkway alongside Mal, the band's Head of Security: Ira Sydell, following closely behind him. He'd been taking his sweet time probably mugging for his fans no doubt, one ploy he did not approve of when time was dwindling as it was. Eppy had no real way of knowing what really kept the bassist but by this moment, he was too annoyed and too tired to rationally decipher anything. Paul was supposed to be the responsible, organized one and that was all that mattered. Currently, he was the reason they were falling behind schedule.
"'Ey Macca, get yer arse in 'ere would ye'?" John snapped, his tone portraying sudden irritability, a far cry from the lighthearted banter he had dished openly at his manager, "It's getting late and the rest of us, the normal ones…we're knackered as 'ell!" He ran a hand through his hair, feeling suddenly drained of his exhaustion-induced hyper-activeness. A slight headache gnawed its way into his skull, helping him to realize that the aspirin he had taken earlier that morning, had worn off. Fighting off a groan, he scowled instead.
"Johnny's right, Paul!" Harrison agreed, a conveniently placed yawn emerging to emphasize his own tiredness.
Within seconds, Paul ducked into the limo behind Mal, beaming grins at all its inhabitants. "'Ello boys," he greeted them, his warm brown eyes sparkling.
"'Bout time!" John grumbled, "The rate ye' were taking it, I thought we'd have to spring fer a new bassist. 'Ol Eppy would've agreed!"
"A new band is more like it," Eppy muttered hastily, his own continuous display of displeasure fueled by jetlag.
"Must've been some poo," George mused aloud, ducking out of the way just in time to avoid a slug to the arm courtesy of Paul.
John smirked, rubbing slightly at the bridge of his nose where the dull, nagging headache seemed to originate from, "Seems like Eppy may need to let loose, himself…" he muttered flatly.
Paul seated himself finally between John and George and gazed in Eppy's direction. Eppy's glare said it all. Paul grinned sheepishly, "Was I long?" he dared to ask.
"Not 'alf as long as your walk will be from the hotel to your show if ye' pull that crap again," Epstein growled, "We have a bloody deadline to keep to!"
John temporarily closed his eyes, his headache not quite responding well to Epstein's verbal anger. "Yeah, yeah Eppy, 'e get's it…" he muttered, his native Scouser accent asserting itself thickly with the ongoing wave of exhaustion that plagued him. Pressing a hand against his forehead in attempt to alleviate the building pressure, he wondered vaguely if anyone else had a headache or if it was just him. For whatever reason, he just couldn't seem to shake his…even after downing what seemed like half a bottle of aspirin that morning. Fending off another urge to groan, he removed his hand from his throbbing facial ache and tilted his head back, his eyes still closed. For a couple more seconds, he relished in the new-found darkness before forcing his eyes back open, the magic dying with the action. Fucking head…
"You all right, Johnny?" Paul asked too suddenly. John couldn't help giving a startled jump in reaction to it, "Yeah…yeah, I'm fine." He scrubbed at his eyes and sat up, avoiding Paul's gaze, "What kept ye' anyway?" he asked, despite knowing full well what the answer was. He just wanted a change of subject…Anything to keep his mind off his exhaustion-induced nag of a headache.
Paul gave a puzzled smile, almost failing to catch a hold of John's spur-of-the-moment question before coming into a playful boast, "Don't ye' know by now?" he asked, puffing his chest out in confident pride, "The birds can't get enough of me in this country…or anywhere, really. Gotta keep 'em entertained 'fore they lose interest." He threw a smirk in the direction of his best mate, "You'd know something about that least of all, Johnny," he teased good-naturedly.
"Oh come off y'high horse, would ye', princess?" John retorted, lazily returning the smirk in a tired fashion, "We can't all be 'alf as pretty as ye'."
"You don't even make the half-way point, Lennon!" Paul countered playfully, "Just putting that out there in case ye' had the nerve to flatter yourself."
Ringo chuckled at the typical banter shared by his two band mates while George and Eppy displayed their annoyance with a roll of the eyes. "Don't listen to Paul, John," Ringo stated, "Yer more than pretty in my eyes."
John grinned comically, "'Ear that, Paulie? Rings thinks I'm pretty!"
"So does Eppy," Paul teased, "and that's not saying much."
"Jealous?" John countered, a smug look dominating his tired features, "What can I say? Ol' Eppy's got good taste."
No one noticed as Eppy shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Paul opened his mouth, a witty return comment about to tumble out when George chose that very moment to make his building annoyance show. "Fuck, ye' guys! Yer both pretty! You too, Rings! Now sod off all of ye', happy?"
Paul and Ringo were well into laughter by the end of their band mate's outburst. John would've joined in but for the sake of his head, beamed an amused smile instead. "Harri, y'fucking fairy," he stated playfully, "Who'd a known?" He turned suddenly serious, "Don't let on to Eppy though. 'E'll be on y'like a fly to a tart!"
Ringo laughed even harder and Paul joined in immediately. Even Eppy and Mal had to crack smiles and George found he couldn't suppress a grin no matter how annoyed he felt.
It was hard not to laugh at John when he was being this silly. Outspoken to the point of brutal honesty, sharp-witted, mischievous, and often rebellious, he could either build one up or knock one down, depending strongly on motive and his mood, which to George's surprise had practically done a 180 from that morning. John had been so crabby and easily irritated upon waking up, the others found they had to bloody tiptoe around him to avoid his explosive wrath. When it came to John Lennon, he had the mentality of a wild and untamed wolf. Cross him the wrong way and he was quick to bark. Really piss him off and he'd bite without hesitation; otherwise he was similar to a playful puppy that sometimes went a little too far in its antics. It wasn't exactly the most delicate balance situated within their band leader, but John could easily switch between the two in a flash. No one ever really knew what to expect when it came to initially approaching the musician. On a regular basis, he wasn't the easiest guy to read, his brown eyes often cynical and guarded, holding everything from rebellion to bitterness to amusement to mischief. Anyone who knew him, truly knew him, were aware that they simply reflected his view of the world.
George couldn't help but look at him with a bit of admiration. He radiated ultra-confidence, not only at times that called for it, but at times when he was even a bit insecure, which George and the band had grown to see was quite a bit despite his knack for not showing it. There were often times when his confidence brushed shoulders with sheer arrogance. In this state, John was likely to openly verbalize his thoughts, no matter the consequences it would bring. Thoughts would come to him and he'd inadvertently shoot his mouth off without taking time to assess the situation, a common occurrence that took place often when something was bothering him.
George on the other hand relished in his own quiet nature where he was happily bliss. He spoke only when he felt like it, and shut up when he didn't, a concept that flabbergasted not only their fans but the press as well, giving them the motive to label him the 'quiet Beatle'."
John in contrast was seen as the loud one or sometimes the witty one as he was always throwing about humor during press conferences and on stage during shows. He had this uncanny ability to say something completely crazy and comical, all the while, maintaining a cynical expression as the world around him dissolved into laughter. A riot he was. Unlike George, it was when John was being uncharacteristically quiet that it was often suspected that something may really be wrong. John was hardly quiet…even when in one of his many brooding moods. George had the ability to be a bit of a riot himself as did Paul and Ringo. But heaven knew that with particularly strong personalities like Lennon and McCartney in the works, he didn't necessarily need to be forced to change his ways and become increasingly outspoken. Why should he? He was happy as he was and the band was happy as he was.
Ringo was seen as the adorably funny Beatle. A bit of a background mascot really, with his short, small frame that often took center stage over the fact he was the oldest out of all of them. It wasn't entirely fair in George's eyes but he didn't believe for a second that the good-natured, high-spirited, mild-mannered drummer took it to heart. Ringo was more than capable of holding his own and boy, he could get the press going too when he wanted to, as could Paul with his charm and endearing smile. Paul was the cute and charming one or so he'd heard. Personality wise, he fell somewhere in between John and Ringo, a bit more gentle and toned down, than John, but equipped with the upfront presence that people tended to overlook when it came to Ringo…
"Fuck, it's bloody cold in 'ere…" John grumbled petulantly, cutting instantly and unknowingly into George's tired, jetlag-induced thoughts. Blinking away the haze of his thinking, he glanced towards Lennon who was now sporting a tired frown as he vigorously rubbed his arms up and down where goose bumps were actually visible.
"Aw, yer heart's not freezing in your chest again is it, mate?" Paul teased, drawing laughter out of Ringo and even a tired George, "Tends to 'appen when it's three sizes too small!"
"'Ey good one, Paulie!" Ringo commemorated his friend, grinning.
John didn't smile. "At least I'm the right size where it counts, y'bloody sod!" he countered, well in the midst of another uncharacteristically, extreme mood swing. Laughter rang out once more but John wasn't in the mood to bask in it, "Y'gits can't tell me y'ain't cold!"
The others shook their heads, laughter fading, "It's actually quite comfy in 'ere," Ringo confirmed. To prove his point, he stretched out so his back was against the window he sat beside and playfully draped his feet across the legs of George, folding his arms behind his head and closing his eyes as if in a true state of bliss.
George didn't waste time reacting, "Get off me, y'idiot!" he snapped, hastily shoving Ringo's legs off of him, "Do I look like a bloody hassock?"
The drummer returned back to his most recent position, a satisfied grin on his face.
"'Ey, Eppy, Mal, y'blokes cold over there?" Lennon called to both their managers, "What about Alf?" he asked; changing the focus to their driver without so much as waiting for their answers, "Is he cold?"
Locked in deep conversation with each other in regards to the impending show, both Epstein and Mal frantically waved him away, getting the point across that they weren't to be bothered with such frivolous antics at such a crucial time.
"How can y'even be cold?" Paul challenged his friend suspiciously, "This limo's barely spitting out cool air as it is!"
"I just am!" John snapped, "Fuck, Paul! I don't fucking question yer body chemistry!"
Paul shrugged, choosing from experience not to say anything more on the subject. John was knackered. That much was obvious. He knew that he'd gotten little sleep the entire extent of the tour and his nerves were frayed, making him moody and unpredictable. Two things often took place when John was overtired. He got grumpy or he got silly and giddy. That was it. But over the course of this one day, their band mate had switched back and forth so much between the two; it made him a bit uneasy. It made him wonder if the guitarist was slowly cracking up…going insane…
Frowning, Paul watched as John drew his feet onto his seat as if to generate additional heat and leaned his head back against the window, closing his eyes as his bangs fell into them. "Tired?" he dared to question his friend, despite the obvious truth winking him in the face.
"I'm resting m'eyes… What do y'think, genius?" John attempted to snap, his antics failing miserably, "Don't be soft…"
Paul wasn't sure why, but his frown deepened at this. Maybe it was his coming to the conclusion that John looked and seemed even more tired than he'd initially realized. Nonetheless, he left his friend alone to rest. They still had a half hour before arrival at their hotel destination.
John was thankful when Paul didn't pursue the subject any longer. Truthfully, he was fucking exhausted. And he wasn't sure if it was due to the building heat outside brought on by the arrival of summer in the United States or the nagging jetlag but he felt bloody out of it as well. He was aware he had woken up in not so great a mood which had successfully made the first few hours of the day a living hell for his band mates as well as their managers. He'd been downright mean and condescending and for the life of him couldn't quite figure out why. He knew he hadn't slept much the entire tour thus far. Long, crazy, late nights on stage paired with endlessly screaming fans gathered outside every last building they stayed at, succeeded in keeping him awake much longer than the others.
Sometimes the noise level was intense enough that he'd get no sleep an entire night and crash the next day, forcing the other Beatles to cover for him and tell Epstein and Mal as well as press that he wasn't feeling well and wouldn't be with them. Other times, found him pushing himself through an entire day filled with interviews and publicity events when he was obviously knackered as hell. John hated those moments with a passion, especially when it led to the occasional, random reporter asking him personal question such as whether or not he was on something. Granted that by that point, he had normally indulged in his fair share of a smoke and then some, it wasn't anyone's business whether he was high or not and he had no problem letting the press know exactly that.
Paul could always tell when John felt off. His musical genius suffered, and he often had a hard time concentrating on anything, succumbing to constant bipolar mood changes that were well above average in frequency. How John had managed to make it through all the public affairs lately was beyond him, though adrenaline often played a large part. 'Adrenaline,' John mused. He could certainly use a shot of the stuff right about now among other things. It was possible he was becoming one of the walking dead. Truth be told, he felt well on his way to fulfilling the status. 'Becoming a…what was it? …Mummy? …No, that wasn't right… Zombie…? …Wait, yes… zombie… Christ, Lennon, yer losing it. Barely had it to begin with…' Annoyed with the unusually sluggish state of his brain, John gave his head a sudden and violent shake to clear it free of the cobwebs that seemed to have been super-glued to it by crafty spiders. The overdone attempt sent his world into a surprising spin and he found himself frowning as he squeezed his eyes shut against the unsteady, betraying scenery. "Fuck…" he murmured, grimacing. Since when would such a head motion dizzy him so?
"John?" John Lennon jumped uncharacteristically as Paul's voice filled his ears. Forcing his eyes open, he was grateful to find that everything had returned to its rightful place. Now if only his feeble breakfast would. John frowned, realizing he hadn't eaten much over the course of the entire day. He'd managed a bowl of cornflakes that morning but only because he had known then that he had to eat something or keel over later. Weirdly enough, he hadn't even been hungry then…and weirder still, didn't feel that hungry even now... Nerves probably. Sometimes, they made him feel physically sick…
"John!" Paul repeated, this time managing to get his friend's attention, "I heard ye' swear. You all right?"
"Nothing gets by ye', does it?" John responded, his voice coming out more tired and aggravated than anticipated. He then paused, realizing in his barely functioning mind that he was again sounding like a bastard. "Y'know I'm fine, Macca," he sighed, managing a tired apologetic grin as if to confirm his statement, "Just don't like turning into a bloody ice pop." It was a partial truth as he was still annoyingly cold, though the dizzy spell had flushed his face something awful.
Continuing to take in his friend's haggard appearance, Paul's eyes narrowed in increasing skepticism, "You look a bit off-color, John," he uttered, a hint of concern embedded within his tone, "Y'sure you're all right?"
"I told you I'm fine!" John grumbled, his irritability rising to match Paul's concern, "Now put a sock in it would ye'?"
"Fifteen minutes," Paul told him, not letting on to whether he believed him or not, "Rest." Somehow he had the feeling that every second that John could get to close his eyes was crucial. He wasn't sure why, it was just a feeling.