It took George a moment to register what Paul had just told him. Paul thought that Ringo liked George? As much as George wanted to believe that it was true—he couldn’t deny that his heart had leapt at Paul’s words—he knew that Paul was just misinterpreting the situation.
“You…you really think…?” George sputtered out a vague half-question before trailing off.
“Sorry,” Paul said. “I know it’s weird, but I can’t think of any other explanation.”
“I don’t know—” Wait. “It’s ‘weird?’” George asked, his worry growing by the second. “What do you mean by that?”
Paul’s eyes widened. “Oh—no, that didn’t come out right. I just meant—you know—there’s nothing wrong with it—but I never thought…one of us….”
George tried to piece together a meaning from Paul’s rambling. “So is there something wrong with it or not?” he asked, a bit more harshly than he meant to.
“Of course there’s not,” Paul said, placing his elbows on George’s kitchen table and resting his chin in his hands. “But…how are you feeling? I just figured it would be strange for you to hear that one of your best mates fancies you. That’s all I was trying to say.”
Staying quiet for a moment, George tried to figure out what to say. As much as George hated to admit it, telling Paul the truth was probably the best course of action. It was already hard enough keeping up one convoluted lie—adding a second would be nearly impossible. But he didn’t want to confess everything if Paul would just judge him for it. He needed to get more information first—make sure Paul could be trusted with this particular secret.
“How would you be feeling?” George asked him cautiously.
Paul gave him an odd look. “Why does that matter—”
“Just answer me.”
“God, alright, George,” Paul said, holding his hands up in defeat. He took a breath. “If I found out that Ringo liked me…I wouldn’t hate him or anything. But I’d make sure he knew that I wasn’t queer so he wouldn’t try anything with me.”
“So, you wouldn’t…stop being friends with him?”
“What? No!” Paul said. “I’m not an arse—I’m not gonna throw away a perfectly good friendship over something like that. Do you really have such a low opinion of me?”
“No, that’s not the point,” George said, gritting his teeth and clenching his fist under the table. Stay focused, he told himself as he took a deep breath.
“Look,” Paul continued. “If Ringo’s queer, then good for him. I hope he finds the man of his dreams—as long as it’s not me—hey, don’t roll your eyes at me, George.”
George would roll his eyes at Paul’s self-centered remarks as much he wanted, but he was relieved to find that Paul was accepting—or, at least, accepting in his weird, Paul way. Telling Paul the whole story seemed like a viable, safe option.
“George? You’ve been awfully quiet,” Paul said.
Alright, George thought, shutting his eyes for a moment. I can do this. He opened his eyes and looked straight at Paul. “Thanks for telling me, Paul,” he began. “But you’ve misunderstood this.”
Paul looked like he had questions, but he didn’t interrupt.
Here goes nothing. “Ringo’s not the one who’s queer—I am.”
“…What are you talking about?” Paul asked. “But the way he was talking about you is definitely something—wait, you’re really queer?”
As Paul’s eyes bored into him, George started to lose his confidence. “I am,” he whispered.
Paul sat up straighter in his chair. “Oh. Alright, that’s…alright.” He glanced down for a second before continuing. “Does anyone else know?”
“Just you and Ringo,” George said. “Ringo’s known for a couple weeks now.”
Paul nodded slowly. “Okay. Thanks for, y’know, trusting me with this.”
George gave him a small smile. “Thanks for being trustworthy with this.”
Laughing, Paul finally relaxed in his seat again, and George knew that he was truly on his side. “Wait—that still doesn’t explain any of Ringo’s behavior,” Paul said.
“Ugh.” George cringed. This was the part he was really dreading. “Here’s the thing—when I told Ringo, I…didn’t exactly give him the whole truth.” When Paul didn’t stop him, George went on to tell Paul everything—how he felt about Ringo, how he was too frightened to confess his feelings to Ringo, how he told Ringo that he fancied Paul instead.
As George finished up his explanation of how Ringo had been ‘helping him,’ Paul gave him a look of such incredulousness that George began to worry whether telling him was a good idea. Despite the hours that George had spent agonizing over all the possible ways this situation could play out, he had failed to consider one very important question—whether or not the truth was even believable.
Paul rubbed his fingers against his temples. “Okay…okay. So, you like Ringo?”
“But you told Ringo that you like me.”
“And you let Ringo hit on you in front of me to try to get me to hit on you, too?”
“Yeah—well, no—maybe?” Now George was getting confused himself.
“For God’s sake,” Paul sighed, dropping his head into his hands. “You swear you’re telling the truth about all this?”
Paul stayed still a few seconds longer before bursting into laughter and shaking his head. “You’re a bloody idiot. Why the hell did you think that telling him all that was a good idea?”
“I panicked, alright?” George snapped. “Now are you just gonna sit there and laugh at me, or are you gonna help?”
“God, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Paul said, fighting off one last bout of laughter. “There just seems like there would have been a much easier way to deal with this—”
“You think I don’t know that? I know I fucked up—but I don’t know how to fix this. Please help me?” George asked, his angry tone turning to pleading at the end.
As Paul stared into George’s eyes, he finally seemed to grasp the seriousness of the situation. “Yeah, of course I’ll help. I’m not really sure how, though.”
“Just tell Ringo that you’re not interested in me so he can drop this whole stupid plan,” George said.
“Mm,” Paul said, placing his index fingers against his lips. “I guess that could work. But you realize that’s only a temporary solution, right?”
“What do you mean?”
“You really are an idiot,” Paul scoffed under his breath. “Ringo cares about his friends a lot—and he especially cares about you. He’s not gonna rest until he finds some bloke you can shag…or a bloke who can shag you? I’m not sure which way you—”
“Fucking hell, please stop.”
George avoided looking in Paul’s eyes after that disastrous exchange. But Paul did have a point—there was no way Ringo would give up on this. “Then what do you think I should do?” George asked.
“Unless you want Ringo to play matchmaker for you for the rest of your life, you need to tell him the truth.”
“Why? Why do I have to tell him?” George asked, slamming his hand onto the table a bit harder than he meant to.
“It’s already obvious that he wants you to be happy—and that he will go to insane lengths to help you be happy. He’s not going to be some cruel piece of shite who calls you terrible names and exposes your queerness to the world. Worst-case scenario, he’ll just politely turn you down and then get on with finding you someone else so that you can get over him faster.”
George considered Paul’s words. Ringo really could be too nice for his own good sometimes.
“And best-case scenario,” Paul continued, “you might just wind up with the boyfriend of your dreams.”
“Hah, yeah right,” George said.
“What, you don’t think that’s possible?” Paul asked. “Listen, I get that all of Ringo’s weird conversations with me are just because of that stupid story you made up for him, but you should have heard the things he was saying. He said an awful lot of nice things about you, and some of them seem a bit too nice for someone who was supposedly only saying it for the sake of a friend. I think you have a good chance here.”
“…You’re sure about this?” George asked.
“Well, no, I’m not sure, but what have you got to lose?” Paul asked. “Won’t you regret it if you never even try?”
George thought about it. “I guess…I guess I could try telling him. But what do I do if he rejects me? I’m sure I’d get over it after a while, but…god, that would hurt.”
“Then you can head over to my flat and cry your queer little heart out,” Paul laughed. “Seriously though, my door’s always open—especially for you, Georgie.”
Looking Paul in the eyes, George smiled. “Thanks.” The thought of coming clean to Ringo was terrifying, but knowing that Paul had his back made it a little less scary.
For the next half hour, George and Paul figured out a plan for how George would tell Ringo the truth. First, George would tell Ringo that Paul had only been calling to ask him about a chord sequence. Then, since they still had a few days off before they had to be back in the studio, Paul could easily avoid further conversations with Ringo. That would give George plenty of time to prepare himself for the big reveal.
After they worked out the details, George was surprised to find that Paul was expressing genuine curiosity about his feelings. They talked about what George liked about Ringo, and it felt nice to finally be one-hundred percent honest about the situation with someone.
George was so damn lucky to have Paul in his life. He made sure to tell Paul that as they said their goodbyes. Paul was grateful for his words, but he wasn’t too thrilled about the crushing hug that George gave him before he could squeeze out through the door.
Once he had the flat to himself again, George settled down on the couch and just lay there, working through all the emotions—both good and bad—that the events of the day had brought on. There were a lot of things to be worried about, but overall George felt happy—free, even. Yes, if being honest with Paul felt this good, then being honest with Ringo would surely feel even better. It would be alright. It would.