“You’ll be the death o’me Fitzgerald,” Mac chuntered, for all the world as if it was Joe who kept dishing out a body ‘n’ brain-stewing brew of badassery as incendiary as it was sublime.
“Never on purpose,” he promised. “Besides, if you haven’t managed to off yourself yet, I doubt it’s possible. I’ll be a long time dead before you pop y’clogs…” Joe pointed out. Having become quite convinced he’d been sent an immortal mo-fo to sex him into submission.
“Not on my bloody watch, you won’t.” The bad-ass bit out, rather than parry Joe’s words with the pithy retort he’d expected. The vehemence of his response suggested that Mac was a wee bit insulted by the notion that Joe might commit the unforgivable feat of sullying his rep sheet. That sure made a lot more sense than Mac suddenly found his own feet fascinating.
“Mac? What’s wrong..?” Joe asked, spinning on his heel to cup Mac’s face and tilt it up a tad, to see what was afoot (as ’twere) in those glinty greens. Crikey. It was like staring into cauldrons of fiery fury ‘n’ icy fear, cooking up a toxic stew. One that could turn you to stone with one flinty stare…or sizzle you where you stood, with much the pizzazz of lightning strike on a lone tree. The words Mac forced through gritted teeth were even more astounding.
“Don’t you dare die on me, Fitzgerald.”
Logic (not Joe’s very best thing; part squillion) dictated that said demon deed might hog the top spot on Mac’s remit. Instinct, aided and abetted by that McMolotov cocktail of emotion? Indicated that logic couldn’t have conjured such a concoction on its lonesome, so that was a crock of shite.
“Mac…” Nothing Joe could say would tell the scoundrel more than Mac could glean from Joe’s gaze. So, he just stood there and let his eyes do their Very Best Thing, bar none. Spilling his secrets. A skill they delighted in showing off, as often as possible, to all and sundry. While Joe rode pillion protesting his innocence; ignored by one and all (even when he was) cos his eyes shouted louder. And delighted in a spot of mischief, whether he’d done the deedy or not. It was most unfair. Thus, it was only fair that they were, for once, screaming from the same hymn sheet as Joe told the truth that mattered most. “I never want there to be no…then.”
“I believe you…” Mac sighed, scraping his fingers through his hair. “But what you ‘want’ doesnae count in your game of Russian Roulette. You know that’s true. If you hold that barrel to yer heid, yer cannae will away the bullet that might be in the chamber when you pull the trigger.” His wry smile suggested resignation, rather than wrath, when Mac clasped the sides of Joe’s head and tugged it down to press a strangely tender kiss to his temple. Maybe the spot Mac targeted made it feel so. P’raps it was the kiss itself. “For what it’s worth, nor do I…”
For what it’s worth? It was priceless. Nor do I…what? Want you to die? That went without saying, his bad-ass rep would be ruined. This, despite the fact Mac couldn’t stop Joe from shooting up forever if he was dead-set on doing so. Other than render him comatose, so that Mac could have a kip…which seemed a smidge counterproductive, on the whole. The only other nor do I—that made any sense was—want there to be no ‘then’.
He was still standing, having a bit of a blink, when the badass bent to scoop up Joe’s stuff and press it into his arms. A state of bewilderment so acute it accompanied the wrangling of Joe’s legs into his trousers and the tugging on of his T-shirt. That Mac might-just-might-p’raps not want there to be no ‘then’ was too miraculous to be true, so Joe point blank refused to believe it.
“C’mon then, Trouble…now get yerself in there and knock ’em dead.” Mac ordered, flinty glint in full force, as if he’d flicked some internal switch. Engage Badass Button. Exterminate.
“The latter is more your department, dear sir. So much so, I’d be an itty bit inclined to ask the requisite is that a pistol in your pocket... but I’d better not push m’luck.”
“Now you are lying. You have no notion of said concept, and yer know it. As evidenced by the fact you just did…while maintaining that you had no intention of doing so. I rest my case. In answer to the question you didnae ask? No, it’s not…but that is exactly where it’s remaining. At least till…” Mac cocked a brow alongside a devilish twerk of lips.
“Then.” Joe couldn’t have stopped the big daft grin that smeared itself across his mush if his next fix depended upon it. So, it was a damn good job it did not…’cos the craving was something chronic.
Ah well, a drink would have t’do for now…Joe wanted to get the new songs down. Really Wanted To. In a shimmer of—absent for so long—excitement sort of way. A miracle in itself, when Joe couldn’t recall feeling fizzy about anything for longer than he cared to, let alone new songs.
Not even the thought of a fully loaded syringe fired him up any more. It just inspired the sort of anticipation that preceded relief. Relief so sharp it was easy to pretend that pressing the plunger down would send smack ‘thrilling’ through Joe’s veins. It was a pretty convincing substitute. For about twenty seconds…until it hit you. That was it. The best you could ever hope to feel again. The absence of gnawing need became nirvana. Peace of mind so precious, you’d sell your soul to the devil for it. Its worth beyond measure.
Until…unless…it was measured against a present worth being present for. Present. One word. Pregnant with meaning. A gift. Here ’n’ now. Mindful. A holy trinity Joe found himself willing to trade with serenity for a while. He couldn’t remember when he’d last had such a fine ol’ time of being comparatively compos mentis. No matter what Joe cooked up to cosh Mac with, the scoundrel just side-stepped it with a distraction t’die for, or batted it back with quick fire wit and a wicked grin. Lethal. It was a very lot o’fun.
Most staggering of all? The weekend had proved something he’d feared was no longer possible: Craving something more could make the customary craving less. Less. It didn’t eradicate it. His body required it to function or it refused to do bugger all else. His brain screamed for it when it could no longer bear the chaos running riot in its absence. Ironically ’nuff…he now felt a helluva lot like that about Mac. Joe needed him. Brain and body both. Thus, with much the swiftness he’d become addicted to smack…he’d wound up with another. One he could never earn enough to afford. Literally without price. Borrowing his bad-ass for a wee while was about all Joe could hope for.
“Mac? How long is your contract for?” Joe asked, while following him from the loo. “Only…you agreed to come to Glastonbury but that’s three months away…”
“It’s open-ended…so you’re stuck with me. Unless, of course, I’m found surplus to requirements.”
“So, if I’m dead…or do something so dreadful they decide you’re not doing a good job? But those are just their contract terms, surely? You’re not stuck with me…so you might’ve had ’nuff by next Friday, let alone June.”
“Tell you what, I’ll do you a deal,” Mac shrugged. That was a tricky one to decipher. Casual-as-yer-like? No-skin-off-my-nose? Take-it-or-leave-it? As-cool-as-fuck? Pah, the scoundrel was quite capable of cramming at least two, three, of those into it. “I have no intention of being branded a lightweight.” Mac declared. “Should it transpire that I find you intolerable, I’ll finish you off myself. Oh, by the way…did you have something particularly fiendish jotted down for next Friday?”
“Nuffin’ special…” Joe pinned on his most seraphic smile. Weirdly, it was not-bad-at-all; a fact that proved there was no justice in the world whatsoever. Mac was staying. He wanted to stay. Until Joe dropped dead, one way or the other, which was a win-win, whichever way he snuffed it.
“Joe. When you’ve quite finished swallowing me…get your arse in there f’chrissakes or I’ll pa—”
“You didn’t pack your paddles…and I really doubt that’s a Gideon in your pocket. Perv. I dunno, cannae take you anywhere…” Joe tutted, shoving the studio door open. Before the bad-ass could bat that back, bible or no…