Fräulein Slash (frauleinslash) wrote,
Fräulein Slash
frauleinslash

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Pepper: Love Me Do, Part One

Name: Pepper - Love Me Do, Part One
Fandom: None; original
Series: Pepper
Pairing: Alex/Marco (AU)
Rating: T; some language.
Word Count: 3,636
Summary: It's the summer of 1965, Beatles fever is still in the air, and Alex Ford is a peacock in a sea of pigeons. A new neighbour brings colour to his otherwise black-and-white world for the first time, and his resolution to keep his illegally-inclined heart concealed in a secret scrapbook filled with George Harrison suddenly falls apart.

 

{{P E P P E R;;

 

It’s the summer of 1965.  Harold Wilson has just come into power, and the white heat of technological revolution is in the air – even if the weather isn’t quite keeping up.  London is a busy place to be; girls in short-shorts hand flowers to strangers in the street, businessmen rush past them with red faces and mixed groups of teenagers wander round laughing at it all in tight trousers and blazer jackets with bowl haircuts.

 

Somewhere in a park in the middle of Harrow, a girl with a mod-cut flicks a switch on a portable record player, and the sound that pours out makes everybody nearby smile.

 

It’s the summer of 1965.  Harold Wilson has just come into power, but it’s the Beatles that really rule England.

 

The Fab Four. :D

 

{{L O V E   M E   D O;;

 

It just wasn’t done to be completely out of the ordinary in 1960s London, and some small part of Alex Ford didn’t quite sit right with that.  What Alex Ford did sit right with was his motley crew of friends, who he was sharing the picnic mat and the radio with.  It was Lucy’s record player, and Lucy was Alex’s girlfriend; in the general scheme of things, that meant it was Alex’s record player, and that meant it was OK for him to reach over and turn the volume up now.  Nobody else’d be allowed to do that – little things like that which made him different from everybody else were a comfort.  It could be said, he supposed, that he was the leader of this little group – that made him different, too.  Why was he the leader?  Well, he had a girlfriend, for starters; when you were seventeen in the sixties, having a girlfriend was quite a status-lifting thing.  His hair fell far more naturally into the choppy moptop style than anybody else’s.  He was extraordinarily beautiful in a way that’d have been considered odd ten years ago – now it was the height of desirability.  His eyes were an honest blue – trust me – that twinkled with mischief when he wasn’t trying to be sincere.  Maybe it was wrong that it was all about aesthetics; at least Alex was a nice guy, too.  He could be pig-headed, arrogant and selfish sometimes, but on the whole he tried to be fair.  Lucy loved him, her friends were into him and his friends wanted to be him.  It was a good life – he liked it, anyway.

 

Lucy leaned over and threaded her arm through his, head tipping into his shoulder.  It earned a few disapproving looks from the older folks, but that didn’t much bother him.  You’d never guess from the way he dressed – because goodness only knew that everybody got defined by what they wore – but Alex was really quite into all this free-love business.  Well, so were Lennon and McCartney, and there was nobody Alex admired quite so much.  It wasn’t a cliché back then – everybody admired them.  Every young person, anyway, he supposed; his mam tried so hard to get the Beatles, but she just couldn’t.  Shame, really.  Alex’s mam was pretty cool on the whole, so far as mams went.  His dad did a better job of liking the Beatles – even snagged him concert tickets, sometimes.  His dad worked with music; okay, maybe that was another contributing factor to his leadership, too.  He was just generally regarded as a cool customer; add free tickets and you had yourself a winner.

 

There were certain things about Alex that might detract from this ‘winner’ status, though – that was why he kept them under wraps.  He liked cooking, even if he wasn’t very good at it, and mentioning that would be social suicide; even Lucy probably wouldn’t like it.  It just wasn’t done – same with his enjoyment of knitting, which was the hobby that produced all the ice-cool chunky scarves and thin-knit vests that he’d always claimed his mam kindly made for him.  The main problem, however, wasn’t just social suicide – it was illegal.  Alex was old enough to know what looking at George Harrison and thinking that meant, and that it wasn’t about to go away.  He was also old enough to know that if he didn’t keep it a secret there’d be trouble, and not just with his girlfriend – as such, he’d never, ever acted on or talked about any of his romantic impulses that didn’t lean towards girls, and didn’t plan to.  Ever.

 

In fact, if he was perfectly honest, he didn’t really care much about Lucy anymore.  He just kept her around because... well.  Some men were really obvious about it, and he didn’t know if he was or not.  If he kept Lucy around then nobody’d suspect anything – not unless they found his scrapbook, anyway.

From Pepper.  Me and Alex share the same taste where George Harrison is concerned. :P

None of them were likely to find his scrapbook, because he kept it tucked under the floorboards out of sight.  That was also where he kept his diary; both these things could be used as incriminating evidence if anybody ever guessed about him, and so total secrecy was required.  He’d had a few near-misses with his younger brother, Dan, who had no concept of privacy and just liked to burst into his room whenever he felt like it, but so far as he knew he’d managed to keep them entirely to himself.  There weren’t any mucky fingerprints on either, at least – they were the most tell-tale signs that Dan had been somewhere, and so far George wasn’t grubby, thank God almighty.

 

His best friend James coughed, drawing him out of his train of thought; Lucy looked at him in a way that somehow combined reproachfulness and fondness.  “You are a ditz, Alex.”

 

“Yeah; ‘s all part of the appeal,” he said, grinning, and looked over to what James was looking pointedly at.  At first he didn’t get what he was talking about, and then he noticed – a new family were moving into the house the Baldwins had lived in before they’d left for the country.  Amongst them was a boy that looked to be their age – a prime opportunity, in Alex’s opinion.  Their group was already quite big; the biggest in the park at the moment, because lots of the other mini-groups came to sit with them, clamouring for their attention.  If Alex was the leader of their group, their group was the leader of all the others.  They were popular, in a word.  They led the area.  The new boy would be quite sought-after – there was a certain coolness about being unknown to everyone – but he imagined they’d be able to snag him quite easily, if he was alright.  He’d only seen the back of his head so far, so he couldn’t even see whether he’d be a moody Mary or not.  “Oh, right.  We’ll have to get on that.”

 

“No,” said James, pointedly.  “We won’t.  Listen.”

 

It took Alex a moment to see what his mate was getting at, and then he heard – they weren’t speaking English.  He couldn’t put his finger on what language it was; all he knew was that he didn’t understand it.  It sounded romantic, poetic; but it wasn’t the language itself that was James’s problem.  It was the fact that they weren’t English.  Alex didn’t have much of an issue with immigrants coming into the country – he claimed he just liked the new food they brought in, but really he didn’t have any problem with it at all – but James always had.  He got it from his dad, whose workplace was, in his own words, ‘crawling with them’; made Alex uncomfortable whenever he went over, so he didn’t go over so often anymore.  “Oh, right.”

 

“Italians,” James said; it was almost a hiss.  Alex remarked silently that anybody meeting James for the first time today would be getting such an unfair picture.  James was usually clever, perceptive, spontaneous and a right laugh.  It was just when something got his back up that he got to be unpleasant; Alex was willing to forgive him his vices most of the time, because he was his best mate, and the good outweighed the bad.  His job was to pull the leash when he got to be too much, not to muzzle him completely.  That was nobody’s place.

 

“Jimmy,” he said quietly.  “Don’t stare.”

 

James looked away with disgust, tugging at the grass that poked out from the edge of the rug.  “I suppose.  Just pisses me off, like.  Going around thinking it’s their own country...”

 

His voice was a little too raised; a little too bristly.  Lucy and her doe-eyed friend Sam had stopped talking, surprised by the tone he was taking – even the other boys had fallen quiet for the moment, and only the Beatles failed to feel the silence as they continued to bleat into the lukewarm, windless air.  Feeling that the mood was going to be spoiled, Alex cut over his friend as he spoke.  “Jim, I can’t hear the radio.”

 

This was Alex’s tried and tested way of making James stop; he used this method because it didn’t wound his friend’s ego.  Wound someone’s ego and you had yourself a problem – that was how fights started.  “Aye, sorry.”  He regained his composure – usually James was effortlessly cool, too – and leaned back; perhaps he’d noticed that a few girls sitting nearby were looking at him because he was good-looking and not because he’d just been about to start off on a rant.  Alex grinned at him and leaned back himself, enjoying the brief burst of half-warm weather.

 

Lucy slung her arms over his shoulders from behind, humming Love Me Do along with the radio.  He smiled up at her, mustering every bit of enthusiasm that he could.  Thankfully, it was more or less convincing – it convinced her, at least.  He couldn’t keep up just smiling for very long, though; trying to move the mood on from the bit of tenseness that had overcome them when James had noticed the new neighbours, he started singing along.  Alex was by no means a very talented singer, but he wasn’t terrible; given his place in the social hierarchy and everyone’s mutual agreement that the Beatles were practically deities, it didn’t take very long for other people to start singing along too, and some of the girls even started singing the harmonica parts.  Noise wasn’t usually a problem in Harrow, except during the summer; the park regulars – men with dogs, mams with prams – threw disapproving looks over, but everyone their age sensed a rise in the atmosphere.  This was what summer was for; this was the sort of summer you read about in books.  Hardly anybody didn’t know the words, but those that didn’t started clapping along.  The song ended quickly after that with the familiar crackle of the record player, and there were a few muted cheers before everybody just got on with what they’d been doing before.  It was quite a surreal moment; so surreal that Alex just had to laugh for a second – get out of Lucy’s arms and just escape for the good of his own good humour.

 

As he looked up to get away, however, he found his gaze drifting over to the new family.  Italian, right?  He had just stopped laughing properly when he realised that the boy their age had turned around to clap as well, a smile on his face like the sun was shining behind those clouds a lot brighter than it really was.  Tiny little pinprick-dimples in his cheeks highlighted an innocently happy expression; he had not yet become disillusioned with Harrow.  It was still new to him – this first impression of it as a vibrant place with a love of music wasn’t particularly representative, and he’d soon see that, but it was a nice way to enter a new home, Alex supposed.  That innocence rendered Alex thoughtless, let alone speechless; the slight crease at the corners of his eyes was perfect, the thin frame clothed with such effortless-looking style was perfect, and possibly most importantly of all, well... his hair was perfect.  Maybe even George Harrison perfect.

 

For one terrifying, amazing moment, the boy’s eyes – deep, brown, darling – met with his, and after a  moment spent frozen over, his post-laugh expressionless mouth turned up into a wide grin.  He tried to look welcoming; instead he just looked wicked in all the best ways.  Still incapable of thinking, he tipped his head towards the company – an obvious invitation.  The boy’s smile turned bashful, and his eyes tipped down momentarily as he mustered the courage to turn to his dad.  Alex watched with curiosity as a few curt words were shared; apparently he wasn’t best pleased that his son wanted to disappear just as they were first getting into the house, but begrudgingly allowed him to go; the son did, at least, look quite apologetic.  Within moments, however, he was making his way over nervously.  Only when he was within a few feet of their mat did Alex think about what James might say, and for a moment he panicked; it didn’t take long, however, for him to remind himself that he ruled the roost around here.  James was distracted talking to the girls that’d been eyeing him earlier, anyway.

 

Finally, the boy reached them.  Choosing to be kind – though he usually liked to put prospective new people through their paces – he stood up and patted the boy on the shoulder once he’d brushed a few blades of grass off himself.  “Wotcher,” was the first word he’d ever say to Marco Santos; later he’d wish he sounded cooler or less Cockney, but for now it seemed to suit.  “Welcome to the block.  I’m Alex.”

 

“Thank you.  I’m Marco.”

 

There wasn’t much of an accent, but it was enough to make James’s ears prick up.  He looked over at Alex sternly, waiting to see what he’d say to this boy.  The thought process he was going through was obvious – surely Alex didn’t intend to befriend this foreigner?  The trouble was that Alex did.  Why not?  Free love, liberation, tolerance.  All that jazz.  Why not, indeed.

 

“You like the Fab Four, right?”

 

“Who doesn’t?”

 

Right answer.  Lucy smiled up at him as Alex sat down, shielding her eyes from the sun; he’d earned her approval already.  Then again, Alex mused, winning Lucy’s good opinion was easy – she was still dating him, wasn’t she?  It was James’s opinion this Marco would have to fight for.  “Oh, exactly.  They could tell us to jump off a cliff and us daft lot would.  This is Lucy, James, Patty, Sam, Danny, Harry and Charlie.”  Most of them offered greetings or a little wave; James offered nothing, but Alex supposed that was to be expected.  “You have a sit down here with me and Luce.”

 

“New kids on the block get all the fancy treatment,” Sam teased, batting her eyelashes at Marco and leaning over to touch him on the knee with a hand.  “Where’d ya come from, Mark?”

 

“We moved here from Brighton,” he said shyly, apparently not used to being the centre of attention in a group like this.  “And it’s, er, Marco...”

 

“Right; Marco.  That’s what I said,” she said, fiddling with one of her pigtails.  God, she got on Alex’s nerves.  More so now than ever, actually.  “Don’t sound like anyone from Brighton I ever heard.”

 

“I’ll say,” James commented darkly, earning a frown from Alex before he turned back to Marco to try and rescue the situation.

 

“I think she means, like, originally,” he said kindly, trying to keep the peace.  This was going to be harder than he thought.

 

“Well, my parents are Italian, but I was born in Brighton.”

 

“Oh.  That’s cool.”

 

Sam’s conversational ability seemed to have dried up; thank goodness for that.  Alex decided to cut in, hoping that things were going to get easier soon.  This boy was very handsome, but given that Alex’s inclinations weren’t shared by most people who shared his gender, too, and that he wasn’t too keen on being thrown into prison, too much trouble with James and his brash opinions might not be worth the effort.  It’d be a shame, though.  It certainly wouldn’t be hard on his eyes to have someone like this around.  “Born and raised right here, myself.  Bit boring, really.  I’ve been in the same park for seventeen years now.”

 

“I’m not one for change, me,” James chipped in sulkily.

 

“I am,” Alex said reasonably.  “Sick of seeing the same stuff over and over again.  New faces stir things up a bit, right?  Last few families that moved here didn’t have anybody our age; it’s good to have someone new again – even if that someone won’t just sit down.”  Marco blushed and sat down quickly, earning a cheery grin from Alex.  “That wasn’t an order; I just feel all awkward with you standing up.  Did you not feel like a giant?”

 

“No, I... I think I forgot.”

 

Alex laughed, and pulled him over a bit with a hand on his shoulder – he let go after a second or so, of course, because friends didn’t hold contact for longer than that, and he was Marco’s friend.  Friend.  “You’ll do; you’re just as much of a ditz as the rest of us.”

 

“That’s a good thing,” Lucy clarified kindly as Marco looked a bit confused, and then smiled bashfully.  “You just perk up a bit, yeah?  Whatever Alex says, he’s probably trying to be nice.”

“Might take a while to get used to.”

 

“I’m still getting used to it; he’s dead queer, our Alex.” Danny said fondly, messing up Alex’s hair.  At first it was funny, but not for long – not only did the use of the word ‘queer’ put him on edge now that it had that other meaning as well – it seemed to have put both him and Marco on edge – but he cared very much about what his hair looked like.  As soon as his disapproving yelps turned to a more serious tone, Danny let go; further evidence that though they all mucked around together, there was a clear line drawn between them, and when Alex wanted you to stop, well... you stopped.

 

“Hey, Luce; put I Feel Fine on.”

 

“Naw, Harry – should be Marco’s choice.”

 

“Oh, I don’t know... Twist and Shout?”

 

Calls of agreement came up from all around the mat, even from people that weren’t actually with them; Alex confirmed the choice as it was his role to do.  “Yeah; throw Twist and Shout on, Luce.”

 

“Can do.”

 

The effect of the new record on the rest of the young crowd around them was stunning, especially as Alex turned it up.  A few brave souls got up to dance first; before more than a few beats had finished, Alex was up too, and that meant everybody else followed.  Marco was getting a pretty intense induction into their world, Alex supposed, but he seemed to be managing OK; he looked awkward as Sam tried to dance with him, so he turned Lucy – who it was his duty to dance with, really, especially given the lyrics – towards the middle more and let go of one of her hands so that all four of them could dance together.  At first Marco seemed a bit shy, which Alex supposed was only natural, but after a while he started to enjoy himself.  Everybody around him had completely let go; that was just the sort of crowd they were part of.  It made it easier for other people to relax, too.  The mams-with-prams and dog-walkers moved on, irritated, and as people walked by in the street they either shook their heads, mourning the lack of total obedience in modern youth – or perhaps jealous that they’d never dared when they were this age – or smiled over at them.

Though Alex spun Lucy around as usual and returned any flirty grins she shot his way, Alex’s eye seemed to want to remain almost constantly on their new addition.  This wasn’t a good thing.  He tried to force himself not to watch the new boy self-consciously twist and grind with the rest of them, but it was incredibly difficult.  Usually Alex liked to channel all his male romantic interest into George Harrison; at least then there were no real-life problems.  He was going to have to stare at the scrapbook for hours tonight to try and force whatever it was he liked about Marco into the guitarist – it just wouldn’t do to develop any sort of attachment.  He couldn’t chance losing his cool – he just couldn’t.  He had a lot to lose.
 

This time, the cheer didn’t stop with the song.  The music continued and so did the dancing.  The picnic mat was kicked aside as they kept getting it twisted in their feet, and even when it started spitting rain slightly nobody stopped dancing.  They sang – even shouted – the words to the songs and threw themselves into the music to extents that teenagers had never thought to go to before.  It was the most alive Alex had ever felt, but he couldn’t help but wonder if he’d have felt so alive had he not been standing opposite from such a dear.  James had his back to him, evidently still displeased that he was keeping their company even if they seemed to have their musical taste in common; he could only hope that this tension would die as James saw there was nothing alien about Marco.  Why he was so sure there wasn’t anything alien about Marco even though they hadn’t met all that long ago, he wasn’t certain – what he did know was that it was unfair to treat Marco like an outsider because of his heritage, and he was determined not to let James do that.

Part Two

Tags: original, pairing: alex/marco (a), series: pepper
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