Mac slumped, spent, onto the smooth expanse of Joe’s chest, slick with sweat. Smack slick; its sheen as thick as mist on glass. “I’m knackered,” he admitted, too sex-soused to force himself to his feet, as he ought…having cut himself so much slack of late, his skin should be bagging round his bloody ankles. Fitting—when it sure as hell felt as if it no longer should—fit, that is. The more time Mac spent with Joe, the less he resembled himself. The self he’d spent twenty years whittling down to sinew and bone; eradicating all that was soft, fleshy, yielding. Weak. Superfluous responses stripped back to the holy trinity of traits he’d deemed…definitive. Instinct, strength, tenacity. Honed to formidable foes; all else sacrificed to their service.
Or, so he’d believed. Never having had cause to question its credence. It was an unequivocal fact. Until Joe. Who was, apparently, the perfect combination of elements to combust that belief.
The unequivocal answer to…who the fuck is Joe Fitzgerald? The precise application of force necessary to expose the chink in Mac’s armour, it transpired.
He’d killed for lesser crimes. Against himself, indisputably.
“I’m sorry…” Tentative fingers smoothed a few stray strands of fringe away from Mac’s face, rather as if Joe suspected they might be snapped off. Sorry…?
“F’what?” he mumbled, into Joe’s neck.
“I made you drive in the dead o’night to not go shopping in Harrods after scarcely any sleep, then—”
“Stop there,” Mac cut in. “Don’t thank me for that, as if I’d bloody serviced you.”
“I wasn’t-well, I didn’t mean it that way…”
“Maybe not…but it would’ve felt that way.” F’fucksakes. Felt. Feel. Like a sodding stuck record.
Mac did not feel; he’d built an entire life on that fundamental tenet. “I need a smoke…” he sighed, planting his palms on the rug to peel himself off Joe’s skin.
After (finally) hefting himself to his feet, Mac went to scrounge up some cigarettes. An ominous rumble in his guts prompted him phoneward to order some room service and book a full English breakfast. As partial as he was to a banana, if Mac was forced to leave their suite without ingesting some bacon? Chances were, he might tear someone to shreds with his teeth. For the simple satisfaction of sinking them into flesh. Two days with Joe and he’d wound up with Lecterlike lusts.
Breakfast ordered and a supper tray on its way, Mac had a swift wash and donned a complimentary robe before sweeping the balcony doors open and unearthing the smoking accoutrements.
“Breakfast is being delivered at midday, so we’ll be able to head off whenever you want, after that,” he told Joe, letting the second robe puddle onto his prone body.
“Thank you. Midday? Ugh…what time is it now?”
“Getting on for five a.m. So, we’d better get some kip or be the walking dead tomorrow—oh hang on, I’ll go and get that.”
“Who is it?” Joe frowned.
“Supper…?” Followed in Mac’s wake as he went to retrieve their room-service.
It was waiting outside the door as he’d requested, so he brought it inside, filled the empty bowl with crunchy-nutters and doused it in milk from the jug he’d ordered. After locating his switchblade, he pulled three more bananas off the much depleted bunch and sliced one up to strew atop Joe’s staple diet.
“Here y’go. Eat.” Mac ordered, dumping the tray on the coffee table.
“Strewth, it’s like living with Stalin,” Joe grumbled.
“Ah yes, the infamous crunchy-nut force-feeder of Soviet peoples. Shurrup and get it down your neck.”
“Can I have some gin in this?” Joe pouted, peering into the glass of orange juice as if a piranha might leap out and bite his nose off.
“Phhh. Bossybugger chuntermutter…keep your wig on…”
Mac just raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips. This was ridiculous. He was…rather enjoying himself. He’d be carted off in a strait-jacket before the week was out. Thank fuck his records had been redacted.
“Okay...fuff. So-rry. Thank you.”
“Y’welcome. Crunchy-nutters. Eat.”
“Yes, Comrade…” the miscreant smirked, but did pluck a sliver of banana from the bowl to pop in his mouth before picking up the spoon, so Mac refrained from comment. Swiping his own off the tray, he sank onto the sofa to polish them off with a packet of peanuts, then extracted the cigs from the pocket of his Berkeley bathrobe. The smoke that soon filled his lungs and the sound of contented crunching made Mac feel strangely…serene. Was he just too dog-tired to be arsed to gnaw all possibilities back to bone? If not, he should swallow his gun. Before his buckled coat arrived. All threats to Joe must be eliminated. No exceptions.
“Mac…” Joe implored, after slurping the remains of the milk and dropping the spoon in the dish with a pointed clatter.
“Go on, but bear in mind we’re getting up at midday, whether you’re willing, or not.”
“That’s not going to be as much fun as it sounds, is it?” Joe grinned, with an impish twinkle. And milky moustache. He looked about six.
“Correct…and I will be an utter bastard in the morning, if I don’t get some sleep. So, you’d best bestir yourself sharpish.”
When Joe pottered off to butcher another vein, Mac shrugged the robe off with a heart-heavy sigh and climbed into bed. He lay on his back, staring at the ceiling, for fear of falling asleep. ‘Waiting’ would be worse—pathetic—which left him suspended in pessimistic purgatory. What the hell else could he do? Mac couldnae stand over him, clucking away like a bloody mother hen. F’fucksakes, Joe was a fully-grown adult. Sort of. He was a liability on ludicrous legs. How long had he been gone? It felt like three hours. Three minutes was ample time to die in.
Mac threw back the duvet and leapt out of bed. Seconds later, he stood, looming in the bathroom doorway, staring down into infinite brown with pinprick pupils.
“Mmmaac...M’gerrup in meeny mo…” A smear of a smile was aimed Mac’s way.
“C’mon.” After tugging the tourniquet loose, Mac gave the seeping wound a swift swab, then clasped limp wrists to haul Joe to his feet. He swayed, like a dandelion stalk in the wind, before toppling forwards to slump against Mac. “Can you walk?”
“Was workin’…on it.”
“I’m sure you were. I’ve got you…c’mon, let’s go.” After draping the unbutchered arm around his neck, Mac clasped Joe tight to his side and staggered over to the door he’d left gaping wide. “I’d sling you over my shoulder but I’d rather pass on being pebble-dashed in crunchy-nutters. Weirdly enough.”
“You should go, y’know…m’a shitshow…left…right…off we go…righty oh…s’bedtime now?”
“It’s way past your bedtime. C’mon, in y’get,” Mac grunted, extracting himself from Joe’s armpit. Just as the miscreant lifted a leg...and down they went in a tangle of limbs. Of course.
“F’chrissakes. No. Sleep.”
“You’ll get a fat lip in a minute.” Mac informed him mid-attempt to struggle free from far too many Joe-parts. “Shift yourself a bit, my leg’s stuck…”
“So ’tis…hard…but not as—”
“Don’t you Dare. Shurrup and shove over,” Mac snorted. Christ, even his cock had lost the plot. Or hitched itself to Joe’s. Same difference. They had to be at the studio in ten hours and he still hadnae slept a wink. Heading to London early had seemed such a splendid plan. Yup. Leaving plenty of time to ensure they made it to the studio. Excellent.
Once he’d managed to disentangle himself, Mac wrangled Joe around and rearranged the duvet to cover him. Then, finally, crawled into bed and flopped down with a sigh of relief that left ‘sheer’ lagging a long time ago, on a planet far, far away…
“Y’okay…?” Mac murmured, pressing a kiss to Joe’s nape.
The cool, crisp sheets were soft, so clean they smelled like spring. The clammy clatter of sharp corners and unwieldy limbs Mac gathered in close, did not. One was an untold pleasure. The other—though much welcome—was exemplary laundering.