Summary: On the back seats of buses.
Notes: Kudos and the gift of my undying respect to anyone who can spot the Jayne Mansfield connection.
George used to have nightmares about buses, which was ridiculous considering his Dad worked for the Corporation. He would wake up shaking, visions of green double deckers bearing down on him, and let Louise hold him, rocking him back to sleep.
He had grown out of it, of course. Buses on the way to the Institute were crowded and damp when it rained and often smelt funny. He and Paul had drawn their perfect guitar in the condensation on the window and didn’t rub it off, so the next time it was cold outside they had sat in the same seats and watched it reappear.
It had been there one night when they’d come back late from the pictures. They’d had the bus to themselves and sat on the back seats of the top deck. One of the overhead lights had burnt out and everything had smelt vaguely of fusewire and scorched glass. George had put the nervous thrill he felt sitting next to Paul in the dark (with their thighs bumping and Paul singing quietly to himself) down to Jayne Mansfield, and said nothing.
Once, George had realised, he’d seen the legendary Lennon and his mates, on those back seats. They’d been drunk and loud, and George and his friends had sat at the front feeling young and awkward and sure they were being mocked. The next week Paul had spent the journey to school telling him all about a group he was in called the Quarrymen and their mad, genius leader, and how he could get George in if he wanted.
George wanted. So he had sat on the back seats fumbling his way through the standards while Lennon sneered at him and Paul smiled encouragingly, confusing him and making him want to cry in frustration. Eventually, Paul had piped up, “He can do Raunchy.”
John had looked at him silently for a second, and then grinned in a way that was neither friendly nor hostile. It was cold, and had made George think of sharks. “Come ‘ead then, Harrison. Give us Raunchy.”
George had sighed inwardly and closed his eyes. Something in Paul’s voice had been so hopefully, almost as if he was proud to bring George along to show Lennon; Look, I have cool friends, too.
If it pissed George off to be used as a bartering tool in Paul’s desperate fight for Lennon’s respect, it had rankled more to think of Lennon laughing at him, telling him he was no good when he knew he was. So he had played, and well. Not his best, but enough for Lennon to pronounce grudgingly, “Not bad.”
Paul had been pleased. He had been grinning when Lennon left, and hummed to himself the rest of the way to George’s stop.
“Ta,” George had said casually, “for getting me in.”
Paul had just grinned and waved to him out of the window as the bus pulled away. George went home smiling.