Wafflish

My Way 46

My Way

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57 Mac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac stood outside the door to Studio B. And that’s it—all he did—stood there like a spanner. Attempting to get a handle on whatever the hell was thrilling through his veins. Anticipation? That would’ve been bad enough, but this was worse—much more dangerous—than that. Mac clamped down on that thought, too…far too late. As it had been all along, from the off. 

About the best Mac could do was school his expression into some sort of neutrality…not least when there was no telling how many people he might encounter in there. One being the most lethal landmine to navigate, of course…and still Mac was couldnae quell the urge to surge forth with fuck all care for consequence.  

F’chrissakes…Pissed off with his own prevaricating, Mac turned the handle. Then realised he didnae have the foggiest notion whether striding straight in was on a par with walking into a darkroom mid-processing. Pillock. Pushing the door open a crack, Mac stuck his head in the gap…only to find himself blinded by the breath-snatching beam that lit up Joe’s face, and the whole goddamn world with it. 

Meanwhile, on planet earth, Joe had merely glanced up from his seat and smiled at Mac; fingers poised on the strings of the semi-acoustic guitar in his lap, half-wearing a pair of headphones.

“Hiya. Y’can come in…”

“Y’sure? I don’t want to intrude.” Mac found himself mumbling. Ludicrously, when he already had.

“I’m sure. Did you get on alright with Adam?” Joe’s airy tone belied the twinkle of mischief in those eyes. Would Mac ever become… ‘immune’ was too preposterous a notion to ponder. Was it possible to become so accustomed to them that Joe couldnae use them as weapons of mass destruction?

Mac assured him that they’d reached an understanding in a voice so tight, it sounded more menacing than he’d intended. There was bugger all he could do about that; his larynx was a minor cog in the chain of body parts wound far too tight for comfort. 

“Oh okay…” Having clearly lost interest in that subject, sans blood thirsty finale, Joe’s butterfly brain fluttered back to the imminent arrival of his bandmates. “D’you think we should whip through the set list, before I break the bad news? Or, get that out of the way first?”

“Bad news?”  His guts gurgled ominously, despite the fact Joe had mooted that choice in much the way he might ask Mac to express a preference for blue or red in a game of Battleships. Battleships? He’d lost his bloody marbles.

Joe’s vague mention of three, or four, new songs for the lads to learn seemed rather like the trail of smoke left lingering in someone’s wake when they’d walked past with a cigarette in the street. His thoughts had patently flitted off elsewhere. Precisely where, soon became all-too obvious.

“Won’t be a mo…I need the loo.”

 “Fuck no.” Mac shoved the door shut with his arse before advancing on Joe, face set in what might best be described as a bulldog chewing a wasp expression, fists clenched reflexively. Pointless, when knocking Joe out to delay what he was dead-set on doing sure as shit wouldnae result in a fully functioning Joe when his bandmates walked in.

Although…that did, in fact, seem preferable to shrugs of weary resignation. Best case scenario on the scale of annoyance that could attain contempt when they turned up to find Joe stoned, insensible. About ten minutes after being promised an improbably firing-on-all-cylinders Joe.   

Other than hand the miscreant an empty receptacle, there was fuck all else Mac could do, other than accompany him.

An announcement that—far from reaping the strop Mac expected—was met with an ominous gleam of triumph?  For the first time since the monster announced he was off to the loo…Mac couldnae help but suspect he’d just been played like a bloody fiddle.

A bitter truth that, to his utmost self disgust, didnae give rise to a flare of comforting fury. In fact it didnae give rise to fuck all, when it was too late for that. Mac had been rigid since he crossed the threshold. Possibly on Saturday. 

Right Fitzgerald…you asked for it. In not so many words, but Mac would have to be as blind as he was belated, if he hadnae cottoned onto just what distraction Joe craved. Suffice to say, dissuading him from shooting up would have been a breeze in comparison. All of Mac would have been on board with that particular plan.

“Lead the way…”

“Stu…?” Joe called to the bloke standing at a mixing desk in a sectioned-off part of the studio. “We’re just having five before the lads arrive…” he explained, rising to his feet before settling the guitar on his vacated seat.

“‘Kay…” Stu nodded, raising a hand to second the fact he’d heard.

“C’mon Mac…” Joe was at the door in three strides, tugging it open to peer out, as if to check the coast was clear in a chronic crime caper. One in which Badass McCafferty, the meanest mo-fo in the business, found himself scuttling about in a most unbecoming manner, in search of an empty loo. Or, a broom cupboard, if Jeopardy Joe had already toured enough cisterns to last a lifetime.

Mac sauntered out after him, in an effort to scupper the ‘scuttling’ part of that, at least. Excellent, McCafferty. Way to establish that you’re a cool as fuck badass to the bone. The coast was indeed clear; Adam had sequestered the lads to fill them in on the latest developments in the life and (very approximate) times of Joe Fitzgerald.

The upshot of this meant that Mac found himself bundled into a unisex bathroom; similar in size to the average downstairs loo in a suburban semi. Joe tugged the door shut with a definitive click and slid the lock into place before turning to lean against it.

“I thought you needed the loo..” Mac noted.

“I do…” Eyes wide, head tilted to his right, cherry pout ripe for the taking. “…but that would be a tad tricky.”

“Joe…? Which need did you intend on sating?  The truth.” Mac demanded, ensnaring inkwell eyes to ensure they couldnae spill a lie. Mac was strung too tight for bullshit.

The rug was promptly snatched from under his feet with a flair so audacious he really should have expected no less. It was, quite literally, breathtaking. Joe scrunched his eyes shut, robbing him blind. A few seconds of quicksilver fluidity later…he’d whisked his T-shirt over his head, popped the button of his trousers and tugged them over skinny hips, leaving Joe stark, and Mac staring, naked. Aside from the puddle of fabric at Joe’s feet and the shoes he toed off before extracting endless legs to dispense with his socks.

This left Mac standing, stranded in a confined space with a ridiculous array of porcelain wherever he turned. He sure as hell did not. Fuck. How did he ever get so fortunate? Mac had never done a damn thing to be worthy of Joe. Quite the contrary…

“Strip search. Thought I’d save you the trouble. Check ’em if you want to…” Joe smirked, poking the discarded clobber with a toe.

“Pointless.” Mac shrugged. “You wouldnae have offered them up if there was oot t’find.”

“Yes, I would. That’s exactly what I’d do…”  Yes. Mac realised…it was. Calling his bluff…which made confessing that fact…a double bluff. Or not. He didnae give a fuck. Either, left Joe in the buff. It would be downright insulting not to afford that due appreciation.

“You know damn well that doesnae matter a toss in your scheme of things. You also know just how thorough that search would need to be…” Mac reached out to flick the toilet seat shut. That bitumen gaze, ablaze with lust, agleam with anticipation. Enthralled. Enthralling.

A snatched off breath later, Mac was plastered to an extravagance of skin, fingers tangled in tufty hair crushing Joe’s lips to his own. The moment their mouths melded Mac was cut adrift, clutching liquid flame, fuelling the insatiable need to take Joe apart, strip him back to bone and put him back together. Whole. Which was fucking ludicrous. All of it. As was the fervor to taste, touch, take, give. Slake. Mac felt demented with it, a fact as dangerous as it was devastating. A need so subterranean it had never seen the light of day—or dark of night—he’d be long dead, if it had. Desire dulled sharpness. Distracted. Fuck…but he needed him. Needed this. Nothing had ever felt this…necessary in Mac’s godforsaken life. Snatching his head back, he tore himself free to drag in a jagged breath.

“Turn around and place your palms on the seat, legs astride.” Ground out as an order, in a voice so guttural it didnae sound like his own. “You’re gonnae to have to slum it, I’m afraid. No rubber gloves, sorry. ” Mac shrugged, tugging his cuffs to his elbows with a sharp flick of each wrist; as if he was about to perform surgery, or do the bloody washing up.  Yet, Joe did exactly as instructed, without a word, those eyes aglitter with God knows what. If they got any wider the damn things would devour him.

Mac slipped a hand into his jacket and retrieved the lube he’d stashed in its breast pocket before they left the hotel. Being prepared for any eventuality was…expedient.

“Fuck…” Joe grinned over his shoulder. “You’re scary, Mr McCafferty. You know what that looked like you were about to dish out, cos you intended it to,” he smirked.

“Scary, because I’ve proved more about you, than me…?” Mac asked, coating his fingers with slow deliberation.

“Y’do realise that no-one else would presume such a thing?”

“That doesnae make me less right.” Mac rasped as he clasped a lean hip with his left hand and slid a couple of—slick—fingers into Joe’s body. He might be a killer but he wasnae a sadist. He’d never got off on inflicting pain. Proving himself was far more…satisfying. Satisfying Joe? Might well prove the Everest of all peaks.  “Is this what you wanted all along..?”

“Yessss…” Joe hissed, pushing back, driving them deeper still. It was all Mac could do to hold off until all of Joe was as ready as the pleas that tumbled from his lips. He could scarce see straight, let alone focus…he could, however, crook his fingers, eliciting a far purer pleasure. 

“Mac!”

“‘Kay…” Mac bent to press a kiss to the nape of Joe’s neck before trailing his tongue down the far-too proud knots of bone snaking along his back. This while fumbling with his own flies and retrieving the lube he’d tucked into his pocket. Straightening up, Mac yanked his trousers and pants out of the way and slicked up. “The subterfuge really wasn’t necessary…y’only had to ask…” he pointed out, burying himself balls deep with one smooth thrust.

“Aaaah…’twas much more fun…for you…” Joe gasped. “…my way tho’.”

“For me?” Mac grunted, holding steady, against the need gnawing his nuts.

“Hmm… and y’know it, y’scoundrel.” Joe sighed. A sound so serene it was practically obscene. Mac did not dignify this with a response, other than easing back to unleash a snap of spine so fulsome Joe’s tufty head hit the cistern.

“Oof…y’brute…”

“I aim to please…” Mac grinned, pressing a kiss between the sharply jutting wings of Joe’s shoulder blades.

“If your aim was any truer I would’ve popped next door…” the miscreant purred.

“Shurrup and hold on tight…”  That was about the last thing Mac could recall uttering with any clarity…the rest was lost to pounding hips and white-knuckle heat, bitten off cries and breath snatching bliss. It wasnae tender and far from pretty. It was exactly what they craved. 

“Maaac….I-ah-ahhh..” Joe craned his neck around, those eyes imploring, as if Mac might—could—ever deny him. He bent to capture the lips offered up and curled his hand around Joe’s cock. Only then, did Mac fire-off the final flurry that blitzed his body in a rush so sublime it almost eclipsed the sticky warmth seeping through his fingers. 

.“Fuck…” Mac groaned, letting his forehead thunk onto sweat slick skin.

“And how…” came the sultry sigh from the vicinity of the loo seat.

 “You’ll be the death o’me Fitzgerald,” Mac grunted.

“Never on purpose. Besides, if you haven’t managed to off y’self yet, I doubt it’s possible. I’ll be a long time dead before you pop y’clogs…” 

“Not on my bloody watch, you won’t.” The vehemence of his own voice startled Mac. He hadnae intended—or expected—to unleash such a…snarl of sound. Blowing out a long breath, he clasped Joe’s waist and pushed himself up, keeping his head dipped to conceal his flaming cheeks.

“Mac? What’s wrong..?”  Joe straightened up, scuffling his feet closer together before turning to cup Mac’s face and raise it to that dredging gaze.  

“Din’t yer dare die on me, Fitzgerald.” Mac’s jaw was clenched so tight he wasnae sure his accent was decipherable.

“Mac…” His name was a cool breeze that stirred the rogue strand of hair falling over Mac’s eye as obsidian scoured his soul. “I never want there to be no…then.

 

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 45

My Way

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56 Joe

 

 

 

 

 

“Huh?” Joe stilled his fingers on the strings and scrunched his eyes to refocus before shifting the phones behind his ears.

The reason Stu had hollered his name instantly became obvious; the tinny tootle of Psycho Killer was trilling away in his trousers. Joe’s grin of glee faded pretty sharpish when he realised that delighting in its jaunty ditty p’raps wasnae the required response. Particularly when Joe had no idea how long it had been parping away for. Damndamn-quickquick. His guitar grunted a discordant protest when it twanged to the floor while Joe was trying  to cram his hand into his pocket. Fuffing out a f’fucksakes, he sprang to his feet for better ease of access and yanked the McBatphone out. Phew...still tring-a-linging, but how d’you do the chatting part? 

Joe poked at it a mite gingerly, then bodged it a bit, heart hammering a fretful tattoo. Glaring at it didn’t work either. It took no notice, but then, Joe couldnae psycho-killer stare it into submission. It might’ve occurred to him roundabout then that he was waiting for it to stop. On accounts of being convinced it would do just that, the second Joe solved the riddle of the sphinxter clenched in panic. Thereby breaking his promise in one fell swoop the very first time Psycho-Killer came a-calling. Fuckfuck…phew…finally:

“Mac!? Sorry, I didn’t hear it! I had m’headphones on.”

“No problem.” Mac’s husky voice lapped at Joe’s earlobe, sending shivers of flame licking along his veins. “Do you want to play Glastonbury this year, or not. Your call.”

“Mine?” Joe frowned, sure he must have interpreted Mac’s words wrong, somehow, being all of a flutter.

“Yeah…yours…”  As warm as rummy honey on a wintery night. Drizzled into Joe’s lughole, hell bent on driving him demented, he was sure of it. 

“Well…” Joe would like to play Glastonbury. He’d missed it last year after having a bit of a mishap en route, then p’raps got a lot lost…when it was so many folk to fuck up in front of. He’d puttered off without responding to Mac. Mac…the only answer in Joe’s world that made sense. “Will you come with me?” Joe asked, a tad tentatively. Possibly because it was mid-March-ish. Glastonbury was still three months away. So not fair—downright cruel in fact—to ask Mac to commit to enduring Joe until then.

“’Course I will…” he replied with an audible shrug, as if Joe had asked something reasonable.

Unless…it was a ruse to lure him into a false sense of security and secure the yes they wanted …a spot of scoundrelly subterfuge. Paranoid? P’raps? Prob’ly…but that didn’t make Joe wrong.  Even paranoid peeps had good reason to be suspicious once in a while, surely? Mac might be playing along for now, pretending that he’d stay, purely to keep Joe sweet. That made more sense than it didn’t, when he must’ve expected Junkie Joe to be a nightmare on narcotics, incapable of toeing Mac’s terms. If the bad-ass was just browsing, then it didn’t matter a jot what Joe added to the window shopping list, did it?

“Will you stand at the side of the stage, so I can see you?”

“If you want me to.” Instant credit granted, with nary a pause to ponder liability clauses. No need, when playing with Monopoly monies, o’course. So why not moot a promissory note? 

Mac agreed with nary a quibble. The scoundrel either thought he was on one helluva roll or…was a stone cold unscrupulous killer. Oh. Who inexplicably tossed Joe a lifeline to cling to.

“Done. D’you wish to play any of the other festivals?”

“Do I have to?”

If the bad-ass said ‘your call’ again, it would be impossible to persuade himself that Mac hadn’t been breaking Joe in gently. Dangling Glastonbury as bait to see if he’d bite, before promptly coshing Joe with a fistful of festivals.

“No.” One word. With nary a second of sinister silence that shrieked volumes. It wasn’t even the single syllable snap to a slapped hand on the snaffle. It sounded like seashore kissing sand. So, Joe told the truth. 

Verbal vomit that possibly accosted Mac’s ears much like the scrape of teeth across tines. Finished off with a claxon screech justification, in case Mac assumed that Joe just couldnae be arsed to drag his junkie-carcass round the festival circuit. Unless frogmarched by force. “…I think they’ll be hoping I’ll throw a strop, or set fire to m’self…”

There it was, the dark dread truth. The hunger he’d triggered…fuelled, fed. By turning himself into a font of plenty for the rapacious thirst of the press to guzzle on and spew out. 

“No problem. Just Glastonbury, sorted.” Sorted? That’s it? Done ‘n’ knuckle dusted? 

No let’s talk it over later while I’m coaxing a thousand yesses from your lips, stroking reassurances across your skin…with words as hollow as a heart without hope? Pipe dream promises that dissipated when dawn crept through the curtains and Joe found himself trussed—bound by his own word—on the altar of the morning.

“Mac?” His name slipped free before Joe could stop it. He had no idea what he wanted to ask. Just needed, to say something—anything—that wasn’t this. That was theirs. Something tangible to clasp and remind himself that they hadn’t been a figment of his own lyrical fancy. “I…nuffin.” It was pointless. Dipshit daft. There was nothing Mac could say on the phone—at the drop of a hat—to assuage the snakepit of fears. “Thank you.” Anyhoo…for being you, being here.

“Then.”

Fuck. Joe’s breath cut off. He felt his heart stutter in his chest before starting a giddy gallop so hectic it left him lightheaded. Properly lightheaded, in a whizzy sort of way. For one white-as-a-sheet-faced freeze-frame second, Joe thought he might keel over. His skin broke out in a sheen of sweat, as if his pores had unleashed a sudden flash flood. One word. A whole world within it. Theirs. Crikey. Mac could bring Joe to his knees without so much as a glint of green. The bad-ass was more lethal than even his own reputation. Typical…Mac could only be surpassed by himself. Scoundrel.

“Then…” It wafted out as a wisp of wonderment. Unless it was just an echo in his head, Joe wasn’t quite sure. His hand sort of flopped to his lap as he sat, amidst a torrent of words like summer rain. 

Then

 

Wide asleep pupils pinned,

From station to station

Then. Came a thunder clap 

A steel-sprung snare trap

My lean mean lethal machine

A clash of contrasts as extreme

As whispers in the wind.

Or the soft susurration

Of summer rain

To soothe, succour, sustain.

 

As snug as the hug 

Of a drug haze

Lazy days, lost ways 

A last-past-the-post maze

Of nowhere fast.

A Nowhere Man

With no hope plans

All tattered, torn, 

So lost, forlorn

What a blast

It’s been.

The future is green…  

*

 

“Joe, y’okay?”

“Yeah…thanks. Sorry Stu…” Joe winced as he bent to pick up his guitar, plucked a string, then flinched afresh when a discordant twang assaulted his earholes. “Won’t be a mo.” A few tweaks of tuning pegs later, Joe picked up where he left off…

Hmm…I sigh

No reason why

Or why not

One last shot

To be or not 

To be

Me.

 

In your dreams…in your dreams (backing vocals taunt/refrain)

 

CH:

As hollow as a heart without hope 

Smack sodden, strung out on dope, 

And pipe dreams in the sky dreams

The lost boy left behind beams

Safe on shore Lost no more

Mon amour Dur à cuire…

 

*** 

 

As hollow as a heart without hope. What was the point in hoping when Joe would destroy it? When he knew full well that he’d shred Mac’s trust as swiftly as the dreams he’d turned to dust the minute he got his mitts on them?

In truth, the most he could hope for was that Joe Fitzgerald might, one day, be deemed better than he deserved, by virtue of stealing himself away. When all that remained of the pantomime he’d become were the fleeting slivers of magic they believed he’d managed to wring from himself.  Then maybe, just maybe, those might linger in the mists of memory…gilded by nostalgia, granting his ghost pardon.

Oh, if only…but Joe wasn’t dead yet. He’d long felt it lurking, lying wait in the wings. A living death vanquished by a gleam of green. A sinuous sweep of spine so sublime that Joe had never felt more alive in his life. A terror so exhilarating it left him teetering on the edge of a cliff, aching to fling himself into eternity.

It was a very lot like the lady said…love is a losing game. Its loss, a burden too heavy to bear. Shit, how Joe missed her. So…why not toss the lot in the pot, if there was a hope in hell that his psycho-killer wasnae just killing time.

Speaketh of the divil…

“Hiya…” Joe felt a shit-eating grin smear itself across his face when a finger-tingling fringe and laser beam greens peered ‘round the side of the studio door. “Y’can come in…”

“Y’sure? I don’t want to intrude.”

Joe was hard pressed to think up an instance where a Macish intrusion might prove unwelcome. Nope. Nary a one presented itself for perusal. Joe didn’t try very hard though, it must be admitted, cos there were way too many hards flaunting themselves for comfort. He’d just fit three into as many sentences. Odd that.

“I’m sure.” Joe had never been surer. Of anything. Or anyone. “Did you get on alright with Adam?”

“We’ve reached an…understanding.” Mac’s lips twisted in a serpentine smile as sinister as it was incendiary. It sounded a very lot as if said understanding had been prised from Adam with a crowbar.

It was the bad-ass. In the studio. With the dagger-tipped glare…

Psycho Killer/Qu’est-ce que c’est…I did it my waay…

 

“Was that as painful as it sounds?” Joe asked. “Or… should I assume that’s a ‘refer you to my previous reply… ’ sort of question?”

“He’ll be here in a minute…” Mac glinted with a wink. “A couple of the lads just turned up.”

“Oh, okay. D’you think we should whip through the set list, before I break the bad news? Or, get that out of the way first?”

“Bad news?” Mac’s sublime features had a bit of a scuffle at this point. Bemusement and worry at war with a side-eye serving of suspicion. As sexy as fuck and twice as flammable.

“Not bad-bad, just a mite miffsome…I just want to add three songs to the set list. Maybe four. Won’t be a mo…I need the loo.”

“Fuck no.” The bad-ass shoved the door shut sharpish. Literally. With a flick of his butt.  “Joe. They’ve just bloody got here.”

“I’ve had lots to drink! ” Joe protested. “You put the pineapple juice in it! That’s just cru-el.” 

“I’m coming with you,” Mac declared. Firmly.

Ah…now there was a sentence not to be sniffed at. In fact, Joe couldn’t have cooked it up better himself.

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 44

Hiya 🥰  Please excuse typo’s, I’ve done my best, but it’s so long…

 

 

 

My Way

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55 Mac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Mr Fitzgerald…Do mine eyes deceive me?” grinned the stocky bloke standing with an elbow propped on the receptionist’s desk. His sandy hair was well-cut, his clothes, designer casual. Not too showy, but none too shabby either. “Now there’s a sight I never thought I’d see this side of six…unless you’re under the impression it’s actually Tuesday.”

“Cheeky blighter. I am well aware of the fact it’s Monday, thank you very much, Mr Harris. Mac…this is Adam. Adam…My bad-ass. Quite why I’m faffing with introductions when that’s like a lamb chop introducing a shepherd to a cleaver, I know not.”

“Lamb Chop? I can only think of one similarity, but Shari Lewis would turn in her grave.” They hadnae been here two minutes and a Glasgow kiss would suffice by way of greeting. Adam turned to Mac and extended his hand, “Thanks for coming, It’s good to meet you, Mac.”

“Glad I did,” Mac kept to facts. Ignored Joe’s snigger. Gripped Adam’s proffered hand.

“Are the lads here, Adam?” Joe scratched at his head, neck, inner elbow, scoring his skin with ragged nails. Gone was the fluid, gawky grace Mac had grown accustomed to. The long lines of Joe’s body were strung tight with tension; every twitch staccato, unscripted.

“It’s not even half-three.” Adam pointed out, nodding at the clock on the wall. “They’ll probably turn up at around five…expecting a three hour wait.”

“You said four o’clock,” Joe frowned.

Mac had to suppress a snort, because the crumpled brow and pouty lower lip were priceless. If not as justified as they might’ve been, had Joe’s band been bastards for deeming it a fine idea to arrive at five, for a four o’clock session. That might commence at eight. If their luck was in.

“I did. Fully expecting you to arrive four hours later, if there was a fair wind and favourable weather,” Adam smirked.

“Adam.” His name sounded as crisp as a very different four letter word. “We’d never met, so I’ll assume those expectations were founded on previous form…rather than my proficiency.” Mac raised an enquiring eyebrow, regarding Joe’s manager with a daggered glare that spoke more eloquently than ‘tosspot’.

“My apologies. It was more a case of…mission impossible, than casting aspersions.” Adam did, at least, have the good grace to appear abashed. Perhaps having recognized how insulting his assumptions had been…if say, it was your job to ensure that Joe turned up at the designated hour. On the right day.

Mac wasnae pissed off, but he thought it expedient to point out that he had every right to be. Might have been, had the issue of efficiency—or lack of it—not concerned whothefuckis Joe Fitzgerald. Nevertheless it wouldnae hurt to keep Adam on his toes. Mac didnae have to answer to Joe’s manager, the record company was footing the bill. He’d been employed to ensure that his charge arrived when and where he should be, in a fit state to function. It was not part of Mac’s remit to appease Adam. He would play nice, if shown the same courtesy, but he sure as shit didnae intend to take any crap from Joe’s…entourage. No matter how high up the food chain they believed themselves to be.

“Fair enough,” Mac nodded, cranking his lips in a smile as tight as his temper was wound. Way out of proportion for the threat Adam posed, when he seemed a decent enough bloke. It wasnae so much his lack of faith in Mac that irritated him, more his…general air of presumption. Towards Joe, in particular. Was this how everyone treated him? Like a recalcitrant child who must be pacified, coerced and cajoled into behaving as required?

This was a lot to assume in a short space of time, but the evidence was undeniable. Not least in the patronizing tone Adam adopted when speaking to Joe—or about him, on the phone—albeit disguised as good humoured forbearance. As intensely annoying as this was, the peril it placed Joe in, was worse. Pillock. The miscreant was far too sharp not to use being belittled thus to his own end. 

“Which room is booked, Adam? I need to get some stuff down, I’m not fussed how long the lads will be. I just want someone to twiddle knobs ’n’ stuff.”

“Studio B…everything’s set up ready. You’ve been writing?” Adam seemed surprised, and yet Joe had been scribbling away all weekend. Between sex and smack fixes, at least.

“‘Course I have. Is my rum in there? Oh, before I forget, I need a tux. A white one. For the gigs.”

“A white tux,” Adam repeated, nonplussed.

“You said that as if I’d requested a tutu and dog collar,” Joe noted. Accurately. “The latter wouldn’t be a bad idea, now you mention it. Or, a padlock on a chain. Either will do. Fucknows why I’m still standing here gassing, I have stuff t’do. My rum?” he reminded Adam, in tones that suggested ‘do keep up, dear…

“Yeah…it’s in the studio. A tux and a dog collar. Or a padlock. On a chain.” Adam repeated. Again. Strewth. Mac sure couldnae beg to differ on the do-keep-up front.

“Yup…and don’t forget Mac’s sugar. With black coffee in it.” Joe winked his way. “I’ll be in Studio B, if anyone wants me…” The latter was tossed over his shoulder with an impish grin.

Mac did his damnedest to smother a smirk as Joe weaved his way over to a nearby door, singing softly to himself. Fucknows how long he might continue to be amused by his own rug-tugging technique, but the next few hours would do. For now.

“May I have a word in your shell-like, somewhere more private?” Mac requested, turning back to Adam when Joe had disappeared through the door. 

“Sure. I hope he hasn’t given you too much grief? How the fuck you managed to get him hereearlybeggars belief.”

“I have my methods.” Mac shrugged, answering the latter and ignoring the rest.

“I’ll say. Come through to the kitchen, I’ll make us a cuppa.” Adam agreed, readily enough, before indicating a second doorway leading from reception. “I haven’t seen him this…I dunno…switched on? For months,” he sighed, heading straight for the kettle when Mac followed him into a kitchenette of sorts. The way Adam invariably referred to Joe as ‘he’ or ‘him’ was really starting to chap Mac’s ass.

“Joe was plenty ‘switched on’ when I arrived on Saturday…you’d only just left, surely?” Mac asked, seating himself at the table and extracting his cigarettes from his jacket pocket.

“Yeah, but that was diff’rent, I’d sat sentry all night, so I doubt he had time to get…lost en route to let you in the front door.”

“You don’t seriously expect me to swallow that, do you?” Mac snorted. “Joe is quite capable of getting ‘lost’ in a portaloo…and well y’know it.”

“Well…I had perhaps pointed out that you were…”

“The meanest mo-fo in the business? Or, the bad-ass sent to whip his arse into shape?” Mac enquired, dry as dust.

“I…um, might’ve mentioned the former…”

“The latter is Joe’s interpretation of it,” Mac finished for him.

“Yeah,” Adam sighed, turning to pour boiled water into the two mugs he’d prepared. “Does he actually call you that? My bad-ass?” 

“Indeed. I find it…amusing,” he lied, knowing that Adam would consider this a ‘quirk’ Mac had deemed harmless enough to indulge. Not least when condescending appeasement tended to be Adam’s go-to method of ‘handling’ Joe. A fact gleaned in person and through Joe’s offhand remarks over the weekend.

“He likes nicknames. Between you an’ me, it’s…promising that he’s given you one.” Adam confided.

Mac found himself all-too willing to likewise confide that Adam was pissing him the fuck off. Patronising prick. However, letting Adam sense his distaste, rather than drilling it into his head was more tactical, for now. Regretfully. Suspending Adam in a state of ‘edgy unease’ would suffice, when Mac had more immediate concerns to impress upon Joe’s manager.

“Glad to hear it.” His tone implied that he couldnae give a shite. “Thanks,” Mac nodded when a mug of coffee was placed before him. “Can I have a copy of Joe’s itinerary for the rest of the year? I need to know which bookings have been confirmed, and which are just pencilled in as possibilities.”

“Sure. Everything in the diary for the rest of the month has been booked to promote the album. That’s released next Friday, the five gigs this week are a warm up for the tour proper.”

This was news to Mac. He’d asked Joe whether the gigs had been arranged to promote a new release, but the conversation had segued elsewhere. Nor did Mac have the foggiest idea whether the forthcoming album would be Joe’s second or seventh.

“So, we’re looking at five dates in small venues? To promote the album before the full tour. And, Joe is on board with all of this—by which, I mean—has he agreed?”

“Yeah…” Adam nodded.

‘Agreed’? Or informed when Joe hadnae been able to recall whether he’d eaten for a fortnight? Let alone care if he had a future to fret about. Mac wanted to discuss the imminent dates with Joe before making any further judgements. Far more pressing were the diary entries that had only been pencilled in, as yet. Mac had every intention of scoring through as many of those as possible, at least for the foreseeable. Joe needed a few months freedom from ‘expectations’ to just bloody breathe. Without anyone else breathing down his neck.

Barring one exception.

*

“Do you happen to have this diary handy? I need an overview…the long range forecast, if y’like…” Mac explained, reprising Adam’s quip to dress up the deck scrubbing in some shipmate camaraderie. A successful voyage aboard the good ship Joe apparently being dependent on ‘a fair wind and favourable weather…’ Rather than competent Captaincy…and the skill to chart a feasible fucking course. Other than that, life on deck was clearly swimming along just fine.

“Yeah, I’ll go and fetch it so that y’can have a gander.”

While Adam scuttled off to procure said oracle, Mac drained his coffee and lit another cigarette. A gander. F’fucksakes. He was hard pressed to think of a less fitting term for ‘meticulous attention to detail’. Nor, a more befitting one for motley crew methodology.

“Sorry to be so long…” Adam apologised, finally returning a second smoke later. “I stuck my head in the studio door to see if all was well—”

“Was it?” Mac interjected, hackles on high alert, which was absurd, because Adam didn’t seem agitated, or even concerned. In fact, his expression hovered somewhere between bemusement and the smug satisfaction of a man who’d handed over fifty pence for a packet of rizlas and received a fiver change.

“He was playing a song I’d never heard before…bloody brilliant, it was too. He was so wrapped up in it, he didn’t even notice I’d come in. It was like walking in on a flashback to the first album. Fuck. It used to feel as if there was nothing, nothing except that melody and the words he was weaving through it. For him, I mean.” Adam shrugged, lips twisting in a wry, regretful smile.

Okay. Mac could—for the first time—understand why Joe might’ve selected his manager. What the hell had happened to Adam along the way, that he’d become such a willing cog in the machinery Joe despised? Money, success…the caché he now enjoyed in the music business? By virtue of the very client he feared would blow it for him? It was, in all fairness, a ruthless game.  One in which the major players were frantically trying to sustain their cash flow in a world afloat with multiple means of accessing free music.

“Thank fuck for that. I’d begun to wonder why the hell Joe ever believed you had his back.”

“What…what d’you mean? Of course, I’ve got his back!” Adam protested, with slack-jawed self-righteousness. “I get battered left right ‘n’ centre, as he does his damnedest to destroy every dream we had!”

We? From where I’m sitting…there is no ‘we’. There is Joe. Then, there is you/them. It doesnae matter a damn what I think though, it’s Joe’s truth that matters: which side of the divide he feels that you’re serving,” Mac clarified. “Cannae you see that? Or, have you blinded yerself to whothefuck keeps you in Rolex’s?” He flicked a glance at the gleaming gold affront to discrete wealth and taste squatting on Adam’s wrist before continuing:

“For what it’s worth…I think you’ve acquired a mindset that considers Joe a potential problem. For you. A fly in your fancy ointment.  He’s not an investment in your future. He is a far from perfect person, like the bloody rest of us. All I’m asking is that you remember which side your bread’s buttered…and afford Joe’s feelings the same respect as every other fucker’s in the industry.”

“Are you suggesting that I’m about to find myself out of a job? Has he sai—”

“No. You are.” Mac interrupted. “Joe hasn’t indicated that he’s dissatisfied with your managerial efforts,” he smiled. Reassuringly. Rather as an alligator might. “Right, let’s have a gander, shall we…?” Mac flicked the A4 diary open and leafed through the pages, giving each a cursory glance before flicking to the next. “How many festivals do you have in mind?” he asked idly, after happening on a second, a scant few pages after the first. They hadnae been marked as bookings, yet. Only the name/location of the event had been noted.

“Four…maybe five?”

“Has Joe agreed to play four…maybe five?” Mac’s tone sounded as tart as a nettle sting, but he didnae give a toss.

“We haven’t really discussed—”

“Then don’t bother. Too much bloody hassle for too random an audience.”

“But there’s less hassle,” Adam protested. “He pretty much just has to turn up and play—”

Just?” Mac glanced up to shoot him a daggered stare from beneath glowering brows. “Forget it.”

“But he loves playing Glastonbury!” Adam squawked. So convinced of this did Joe’s long-time manager seem, Mac found himself willing to consider a compromise.

“Okay, if that’s the case…” Mac extracted his phone from his inner breast pocket. “I’m a reasonable man, Mr Harris. Glastonbury, it is. If Joe agrees.” He turned his attention to the screen and affected checking his messages. Waiting…

“Didn’t you say his phone was probably in Marlborough? It’s pointless anyway, he never answers the damn thing.” Adam sat back and folded his arms. Satisfied that he’d finally attained terra firma.

“I’ve given him my backup phone,” Mac shrugged, tapping speed-dial.

Joe…please answer the phone, f’chrissakes, or I’m going to look a right prat. You promised. Four…five…six... Mac was debating whether to slit his own throat, or Adam’s— on eradication of witnesses grounds—when a breathless voice gasped:

“Mac…? Sorry, I didn’t hear it, I had m’headphones on.”

“No problem. Joe, do you want to play Glastonbury this year, or not. Your call.”

“Mine?” One word that spoke volumes.

“Yeah…yours,” Mac rasped.

“Well…would you come with me…” That so-soft voice was hesitant, as if Joe were asking for the bloody moon. His amendment was worse. “…if you haven’t left already?” 

“’Course I will…”

“Will you stand at the side of the stage, so I can see you?”

Mac could all-too clearly picture the oh, so persuasive puppy dog eyes that accompanied this plea. As lethal as they were irresistible, even as a ghostly imprint on the back of Mac’s eyelids. “If you want me to,” he confirmed.

“Okay then…if you promise.” 

“Done. D’you wish to play any of the other festivals?” Mac asked, shooting a ‘Joe’s call, not mine’ glance Adam’s way.

“Do I have to?” Words so wary they were an answer in themselves.

“No.”

“I don’t really fancy it very lots. It’s a faceless mass of people who haven’t come to see me. There are always peeps I recognize—know by name—in my front rows. That feels…comforting, but the festival crowd makes me all fidgety. I think they’re hoping I’ll throw a strop, or set fire to m’self…” 

Mac bit back the urge to knock Adam the fuck out, which would be as self-serving as the tosser seated opposite.“No problem. Just Glastonbury, sorted. I’d better let you get on, sorry for interrupting.”

“S’okay…Mac?”

“Yeah?”

“I…nuffin’. Thank you.”

“Then.” Mac assured him, in response to…nuffin’.

“Then…” How the hell Joe had made the same word sound as if he’d sighed it while sinking into a jacuzzi, Mac couldne fathom. Not without crippling himself.

“Okay. Glastonbury it is.” Mac told Adam, tucking the phone back into his pocket. “As y’can see, I’m happy to compromise, as long as Joe’s well-being isnae in jeopardy. I’m not an unreasonable man Mr Harris, but I dinnae give a shit about corporate crap, or people pleasing. I can get Joe wherever you wish—whenever you want me to—but cannae guarantee he’ll be ‘fit to function’. Unless you back me on this, or…I cuff him to my wrist twenty-four/seven.” Moving swiftly on…

“I’m not here to score points against you. I’m just doing my job. I will do that, and well. The way I see fit. My way. You’ve employed me to ensure that Joe arrives where and when he’s scheduled to. In a fit state to function.” It bore repeating. Ad infinitum.

“Every stipulation has been proposed in a bid to ensure that’s physically possible. Joe will fulfil every booking for the promotional period you’ve outlined. After that…? The three of us can discuss the diary for the rest of the year. In the meantime, make no further bookings, but rest assured, you need not worry on the writing front. Melodies and lyrics were tumbling forth all weekend. Joe wanted to come in today and get them down. Everyone else appears to want exactly that, too. Product. But he’s not a fucking machine. He’s fragile, and he will break—if you don’t give him just that—a break. Joe needs you and I to take care of all the crap, so he can concentrate on doing what he does best. That’s not much to ask of us.” Mac girded his loins and bit the bullet. In for a penny… “I need your help as much as you need mine. If we work together, we can pull off precisely what we’re being paid to provide: Joe Fitzgerald.” 

What a crock of shite the tail end of that was. Two days with Joe and Mac had turned into Mary bloody Poppins. He’d wind up with ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ as a sodding ringtone if matters progressed apace.

 

 

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 43

My Way

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54 Joe

 

 

Blimey…the bad-ass had just dispatched Adam with a flea in his ear as if he’d been a minion on Mac’s payroll. Done with a cool disregard that was a wee bit chilling. In a sub-zero sort of way. If Joe had met this particular Mac first…the Psycho Killer theme tune would’ve been a helluva lot more than a spot of mischief. He still didn’t think it was a million miles from the truth, but Mac was much too…multifaceted to be a stone cold killer. Despite his dead-eyed demolition of Adam, Joe knew damn well that Mac wasnae the psychopath he seemed at pains to portray. 

In fact, he’d be prepared to swear blind that the bad-ass had been all-but heroic when Joe had deserved far worse than the withering derision Adam had been dealt. All o’which begged the question: was Mac a villain or vigilante? Righter of wrongs, or remorseless reprobate? 

MacDuff or MacBeth?  

Mayhaps too trite?

Too black and white?

Too basic to believe,

Rudimentary, naive?

Why either, or?

In a civil war

To the death.

It might be as simple as Mac didnae split the difference. Just did what needed to be done. An equal opportunities assassin.

Joe may have done a spot of digging (his own grave) to see what his spade would chink against. An irresistible bit of Grootish button pressing to see how big the bomb blast would be. He’d got a very lot more than he deserved too…but that sure as ‘scuse me while I kiss the sky hadn’t been divvied out as Joe expected. The bad-ass was a tricksy devil, t’be sure. Trouble-shooting with Kryptonite green as the lush twerk of those lips set about shredding Joe’s worst intentions. Much as he might wish the last two days had impacted on Mac measure for measure? There was too much Machiavellian malarkey afoot to let himself believe that his Mac was…real.

The bad-ass must have mastered the art of appearing to be what his clients required to have acquired such kudos in the world he prowled so peerlessly. It was this mastery of masks that made Mac more dangerous than his ninja skills. The scoundrel had even sussed the one truth Joe had intended to keep schtum about.

Top-notch artillery Mac tossed onto the table as if it were nought but a trinket. A ten-a-penny bit of tat, when in fact, he had Mjölnir clutched in his mitts. A weapon no-one else had been able to pick the fuck up, let alone lay claim to. This was an itty bit irritating.

Was Joe just so worthless that Mac had no compunction in using him to get the job done, both in bed and out? The two weren’t mutually exclusive o’course…only one of those might be true. If so, which one? Why bother splitting the difference, when Mac sure had not? He was pulling both off. Joe’s head hurted. Think. There had to be a way, somehow, to prove his suspicions. Mac might be the meanest mo-fo in the business, but what was the bad-ass willing to barter in the heat of battle? Just how far would Joe have to push to find out?

It was a win-win whichever way Joe looked at it. He was quite prepared to toss the lot in the pot with nary a care for cussed conditions. Sooo, he would only lose if Mac decided that Junkie Joe was too tedious to be worth the trouble, or his time, and took his torture kit home. Well….he’d just have to make damn sure that Mr McCafferty didnae have chance to get bored. And while Joe was at it…how the bejeezus could he (l)earn Just Mac’s first name?

Nevertheless, the next few hours were a different kettle o’kippers. First up, Joe had to ensure that Mac was worth his weight in gold to those who needed convincing that he’d deliver the goods. If that was suitably pliant Joe? Then that’s what they’d get. It would be a hoot anyhoo, for a few hours.

My terms, my way? Had Mac really charted each course so ruthlessly? Every careful step along the byway? Only time would tell. Speaking o’which…the bad-ass had to be a Bowie fan. A  snippet of info par excellence. Joe was on a Station To Station roll on the nuggets of knowledge front. 

Knot in hankie: tell Adam to procure white tux, black fedora, waistcoat, fitted shirt.

In Time keeping terms? Mac had indeed ensured that his Thin White Junkie wasn’t too late to be late again…

*

“Right, c’mon then Trouble… ” Mac’s glinty grin was way more than a wee bit devilish. How was Joe supposed to keep his wits about him, pay heed to pesky plots, stomach Adam’s crap and its own cramps too? All this while persuading the lads to work on some new stuff with two sessions to go and nary a spot of practice since…their last gig? Oh and remember to…remember something else. What was that? Bugger. It sure as starving t’death wasn’t that. Is it time to go home yet?

“I can walk anyway, which seems to be so far beyond expectations, I think I’ll go for a stroll around the studio and then we’ll be done for the day.” Joe decided, pinning on a Cheshire cat with the cream-of-all-cunning-plans grin.

“I can’t argue with your first point, fucknows what time Adam was expecting us to fetch up. Insulting bastard.” Mac grunted, shoving the car door open with a snort of disgust. “Nice try…shift yer arse before yer heid explodes and Salivating Valet gets his just deserts.”

Mac still has a bee in his bonnet about that? His accent had been on the Irn Bru, tae boot. P’raps he just got snippy when folk touched his stuff? It wouldnae do if Mac’s AK-47 had been tampered with when he needed it most, after all. Blimey. Adam had better see about hiring the bad-ass a bodyguard for meet ’n’ greets. Sure to be a breeze, that.

“Mac?” Dang. That came out sounding as small as Joe felt, all of a sudden, while watching him exit the car like liquid latex .

“Yeah..?” When Mac glanced back, for one blink and miss it moment, a flicker of warmthawarenessflared in glacial green. Gone, in a lowering of lashes. Replaced by steel trap resolve.

“S’okay…doesn’t matter.” Just checkin’.

“Joe? I—” Mac broke off, clenching his jaw so tight, it made the muscle tick in his cheek. “Let’s get this over with.”

“Then…?” A word barely louder than a wisp of breath, it hovered in air heavy with those unsaid. 

“Then.” An infinitesimal nod and gleam of laser beam green before Mac snatched his gaze away to…square his shoulders and tug on the cuffs of his crisp white shirt. Worn with an open collar and the fancy schmancy black suit, he looked divine. Deadly.

Joe blinked and tried to swallow the sticklebrick stuck in his throat. Which Mac was real? The steel-sprung bad-ass, as flinty as fuck, fuelled by icy fury? Or the brutal tenderness seething beneath it, as molten as magma? Ruthlessly restrained, the latter felt twice as fierce. Infinitely more lethal. Both? Neither? Either…whichever served him best? 

Blimey. Ten minutes in a car with the former was akin to being fed through a flippin shredder. The contrast was so mind-boggling, Joe’s brain might see fit to start spitting grey matter out of his ears like ticker-tape if he didn’t shift himself sharpish. He needed a pen. Paper. A white tux. Ha. There it was—slippery little sucker—he hadn’t forgotten. The wholly unexpected glass of rum. With pineapple juice…my way, my terms. Joe was willing to bet there’d be no titchy brolly in it, the blighters. 

‘Shifting sharpish’ hadn’t been his best ever plan, it had to be admitted. Joe scrambled out of the car in such a flurry, he damn near fell flat on his face and snapped himself in half. He felt pretty sure he had lots more arms and legs than he’d got into it with. 

“Oow…fuck.” He might’ve whimpered a bit, being crippled of cock and busted of kneecap.

“Y’okay?” Mac snickered, with no concern whatsoever for Joe’s pitiful predicament.

“Do I look okay?” he huffed, much miffed.

“Poor Joe…” Ooh. To accompany said affront to his person, Mac reached out to scruffle Joe’s hair.

Poor Joe scraped himself off the pavement, intending to deliver some rather ripe expletives. A string of salty slurs that puttered to a stop on the tip of his tongue when Mac abruptly blew out a weighty breath and raked a ‘f’fucksakes’ hand through his hair. 

“Christ. C’mere…” he muttered, throwing an arm across Joe’s shoulders to tug him in for a manly-hug-between-mates. That felt anything but. Joe’s entire self all-but sighed against tightly-coiled strength, like a floppy rag-doll. Except, he felt sort of brittle, as if a wisp of wind might shatter him. 

“What the fuck am t’do with you…” or something such, was mumbled into Joe’s hair. The fleeting press of plush lips was p’raps wishful thinking…with wiiiings. “Shall we..?” Mac inclined his head toward the door, letting his arm fall away.

Nary a word that wafted through Joe’s head was an acceptable answer to that, so he just nodded. Then followed in the wake of an incentive so sublime, it could even lure Joe in there, to face fucknows what at stupid o’clock.

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 42

My Way

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53 Mac

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Psycho Killer…’

 

F’chrissakes…the miscreant was too wily by half. Even when Joe appeared to stay on script, he was plotting its subversion. His, was a magician’s gift for misdirection. Sleight of hand in which my terms, my way…promptly became Mac’s terms, Joe’s way. The latter was such distant kin, it scarce seemed related, let alone traceable to source. 

The swiftness with which he’d conjured a way to amuse himself while still seeming amenable was…staggering. All things considered. The plotting potential of a firing on all cylinders Joe didnae bear thinking about. Heaven help anyone who stood in the path of Trouble in full possession of his faculties…which went a long way to explaining how present matters might have come to pass. Or, put more prosaically: why they hadnae been addressed before the shit hit the fan so spectacularly that some bright spark finally saw the light. Mac sure as hell couldnae rustle up another reason why they’d seen fit to hire half-baked babysitters to mind the man some fuckwit had blithely dubbed Heroin Houdini

‘He chews ’em up and spits ’em out like cherry pips’.

‘Psycho Killer’ was the impertinent tongue Mac had threatened to bite off. Served up inserted into Joe’s cheek, instead? It might almost be considered acquiescence. Joe’s way, of course. 

It could even be argued that said ringtone had its wool-pulling merits. No one with a scintilla of sense would expect Joe to go down without a fight or, at the very least, some form of protest. A fact Mac was counting on. It would make the win all the sweeter…and its outcome more effective.

He knew damn well that Joe was enjoying this new game more than he’d be prepared to admit. Even to Mac. Especially to Mac. Joe might want him physicallyfor nowand delight in trying to wriggle his way out of the restraints Mac placed on him…but the moment that began to pall? Or, something shiny proved too tempting to resist? Joe would slip free faster than ferret up a trouser leg. Mac would need eyes up his arse…in every way. Not least, when that was the only card he could count on; to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, if all else failed. If Mac was prepared to bring it into play.

Nevertheless, for today, Joe seemed content to comply with Mac’s terms. First impressions counted for much. They would suffice, for now. They had to. He couldnae rely on anything else. The only other certainty looked about to make a break from its bath-towel confines.

“I’ve rung down for a car. It’ll be here in half an hour…so, unless you plan on making an admittedly fetchingfashion statement? You might want to get dressed, before that thought goes any further.” Mac informed him, with a ‘deadpan’ expression that possibly nailed ‘constipated’ instead.

“It’s too late. The thought has polished off its main course and is about to tuck into its pudding,” Joe grinned.

“It should be well-fed then, and will even have time for a post-meal smoke before you get dressed. Sorted.”

“Ah!” It was a toss up whether his lips or eyelids were wider apart. Or, which of those had a greater impact on Mac’s comfort levels.

“I need a wash and shave, so please button your lip, before you trip over it.” As good a reason as…the real one. “You have less than thirty minutes. Be ready.”

Yessir, Mr McBadass, sir.” A response which, of course, came complete with a heel snap and salute. “Strewth, y’might want to work on issuing some orders sans glinty special and stiffy. Just sayin.”

“I don’t have a bloody boner.” Mac snorted.

“I didn’t say you did.” Joe pointed out.

“Fitzgerald. Get dressed. Twenty-five minutes.”

“If you keep this up, I’ll have to cram it in my pants with a crowbar,” the miscreant chuntered. “You’re ev-il.”

“Evil? I’ve barely begun.”

“Ooh…I was counting on it,” Joe purred. About a glacial glare before flashing his palms in a ‘don’t shoot’ parody. “Okay okay…get dressed. Twenty minutes…I knooww.

“Twenty-three.” Mac corrected.

*

Twenty-three minutes later, or thereabouts, found them in the lift heading down to the foyer. Joe was even wearing clothes. The latter possibly being the most astounding part of all. Not only was Joe dressed, he looked…well, suffice to say, Mac found himself wishing that Joe was not. This wasnae the most helpful, or comfortable, of thoughts. Particularly in a lift, en route to the studio Mac didnae have a choice but insist on. 

“Mac? T’is very swish in here n’all, but….” Joe shot him a grin, nodding toward the gaping doorway while peeling himself off the wall.

“Hm? Fuck, sorry.” Mac blinked. Tearing his gaze from the too-tight T-shirt shrink-wrapped to Joe’s nipples. “Are you cold?”

“Cold? I’m sweating up a storm, it’s suffocating in here.”

“C’mon…sorry.” F’chrissakes. Focus. Two days sequestered with Joe had—in no way, shape or form—done bugger all to prepare Mac for the reality of Joe-in-the-outside-world. He not only knew this; he should be forewarned, and thus forearmed. Being the latter was impossible when said intelligence classed Joe a hazard waiting to happen—an utterly unpredictable one—t’boot. If Mac didnae get his head in the game pronto, it wasnae going to be pretty.

“S’okay, you were miles away…or wishing you were, anyhoo.” Joe sighed, gazing around at the vast marble foyer as he weaved his way to the plate-glass doors. A waist-swivelling arm-swinging ‘walk’ that seemed likely to lure low flying aircraft into land.

“I’m not wishing myself further away than the few miles to the studio,” Mac assured him, before adding, “What’s wrong?” Joe’s sigh had sounded too heartfelt for the quip it was tacked onto.

“Nuffin’. I’m just…edgy. I want to go, I just…it’s like walking into a wall of why/what/where/the fuck have you…? That’s before Adam clobbers me with whatever’s been cooked up in the cauldron of doom. ”

“Forget that crap…I’ll sort it. Did you part on good terms with the rest of the band?” Mac asked, inclining his head to acknowledge the doorman who did the honours, then thanking the driver waiting beside the open rear door of their car. 

“I think so…unless I’ve upset someone in the meantime,” Joe grimaced, folding himself into the back seat. “I just want to jam, tinker around with some stuff my head’s fit t’bursting with. We’ve only got two days to rehearse for the gigs, but I need to work on the new songs. That’ll go down like a cup of cold sick.”

“D’you need the rehearsal time?” Mac found himself grinning. Fucknows why.

“It makes no nevermind to me, I’ll remember the words…or I won’t. Playing the setlist through for a fortnight won’t change that. I do want to see the lads, I just wish…” Joe tailed off, unwilling, or unable, to put those wishes into words. His chin was propped on his fist as he stared from the window with a glassy gaze that suggested he saw nothing through either. 

Mac’s phone abruptly shattered the silence, trilling Garson’s jazz intro to ‘Time’. A ditty that made Joe’s head snap around, wonder writ…what else? In those eyes.

Upon extracting it from his jacket pocket, a cursory glance at the screen revealed the name Mac had been expecting to see for several hours. “Adam…”

“Mac, thank fuck for that. Joe’s not answering his phone, is he still asleep?”

“No…he’s wide awake. Seated beside me—”

“Why isn’t he answering his bloody phone then?” Adam interrupted.

“It might be in Marlborough…I havenae clapped eyes on it since I arrived.”

“Oh, for Godsakes, I left it on charge. So, I knew that couldn’t be the—hang on…in Marlborough? You’re actually on your way?” Adam sounded nonplussed, Mac noted with satisfaction. 

“We’re about ten minutes away…” Mac shrugged. A deadpan demeanour away from a most indecorous snigger. 

“From Marlborough?” Adam…guessed? Assumed?

“At fourteen-fifty? We’d be a bit bloody late if we were.” Mac pointed out. For all the world as if that was a preposterous notion.

“Ten minutes away…from the studio?” The voice on the other end of the line squawked. 

“Yeees.” Mac drew the vowel out, as if he were speaking to someone rather slow. In all fairness,  he’d yet to be convinced otherwise. 

“Oh, I-um, is he…okay?”

“Joe? Are you okay…?” Mac enquired.

“Me?” The twinkle in Joe’s grin didnae bode well. For Adam. Mac should probably feel sorry for him, but he didnae do ‘pity’. “I’m crippled, but other than that—”

“Crippled!?” Adam spluttered.

“Don’t fret yerself, he hasnae been kneecapped to get him in the car.”

Adam was gonnae get very wearing.

“Don’t tell me he’s too stoned to walk…” Very fast.

“Okay, I won’t. I could kill for a coffee though, if you can rustle one up. Black, three sugars…and some rum for Trouble. With pineapple juice.”

“Pineapple juice…” Adam repeated.

“An excellent source of Vitamin C, I believe. We’ll be with you presently,” Mac ended the call with a rueful eye-roll that made Joe snicker in glee. Probably punch-drunk on the unexpected prospect of rum. “Christ, Adam had better hope that coffee is strong…” Mac blew out a long breath as he pocketed his phone. 

It wasnae one iota as long as the day promised to be…

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 41

My Way

52 Joe

 

 

 

 

“Aah!” Joe’s eyes snapped open when a lightning bolt blitzed his body. His spine damn near jackknifed in shock, jolting him from a sleep so deep he might’ve thought he was dead, had he been in any fit state to ponder it. “Mac!” he gasped. No one else on Earth could’ve pulled off such a serendipitous awakening…particularly when Joe got around to peeling his eyelids apart.

“G’morning…” dripped from the lips hovering above his ear, about a waft of breath before the bad-ass tugged on its lobe with tantalizing teeth. The fingers torturing that heaven-sent knot of nerves swivelled oh, so slowly, scissoring as they swept back and forth. As an alarm call, it sure beat having a bucket o’water emptied over Joe’s head. 

Hmm...if I wake up, will you stop?”

“I sure as hell don’t intend taking you unconscious,” Mac rasped.

“Top o’the mornin to ye, then…jusdonstop…” Never, ever, stop…oooh.

“I don’t intend to…” Miraculous words, smudged across his jaw as Mac continued his merry ministrations. Joe had no idea how much of that he’d managed to utter aloud…but oh, how he wished it was all of it.

All of it was precisely what he promptly got, barely a sharp intake of breath later, when Mac whipped his fingers free and promptly obliterated the ache of emptiness with one smooth, sure surge. The guttural groan that grazed Joe’s ear was one helluva wakey, wakey rise ’n’ sublime soundtrack. Cocooned in sinewy strength, cradled by—impaled with—hard heat. There could be no finer way to wake up, even if Joe felt about as fit as fiddle after a fight with a ten-tonne truck. Said sumptuous spooning might not’ve been quite so breath-snatching, but still oozed its very own charm. The bad-ass must’ve decided that the peerless swish of his serpentine spine would have to suffice when sheer pounding pizzazz wasnae possible. As its customary endeavours were practically a superpower, this was a thing t’be Marvelled at indeed. Joe didn’t seem to be doing a very lot else, it must be admitted, other than squirming a lot and grappling Mac’s thigh in an effort to tug him closer still.

“More…” Joe pleaded, arching his back and dragging on the leg he’d clutched, strung too tight to stay still. The need was too intense, not just for friction, for him—more of him—all of him. A potential too unsurpassable to pass up, or settle for less. “Mac…harder..”

“S’impossible…” he groaned, slamming into Joe p’raps as hard as lying on his side would allow. “Cannae…” Mac gasped. “Like this…” As luscious as it was, Joe would have to wait (for what’d feel like) forever for the Full McMonty he craved, which wouldnae do, at all.

“Hold on t’me then…” The arm around his tum tightened as Joe patted about, searching for the edge of the mattress to clutch in order to haul himself onto his front. “‘Kay…” After straightening his legs a smidge, Joe tugged hard. Mac caught on fast and threw his weight forwards, which resulted in a supremely prostrate Joe with a bad-ass on board.

The next wee while, after a swift hitch of his hips, was a paradise of pounding. More than a mite akin to being plugged into a power source so potent it could raze the world to the ground. Scorching bone deep, boiling his blood, blistering through his veins. Nothing—no one—had ever compared to this. To Mac.

Joe’s head and heart may have always known what they coveted, but his body had settled for craving someone who might…salve a hollowness so profound, he’d forever felt full of it. His failure just fuelled his attempts to find a feeling that might fill it, instead. He never had. The ever-dwindling hope was so deadening that everything—everyone—he’d done had been but a desperate desire to feel alive. Efforts so futile he’d redoubled them, over and over again, ad infinitum, in an ever-spiralling dance with death. Here, was Joe’s more; personified in this man. Here, was paradise found when it had been worse than lostunfindablean opium pipe dream only realizable in rhyme. Here, in the tattoo intensity of sledge hammer hips, pounding away with inimitable aplomb. Here, when Joe had abandoned all hope that the real world could ever compare to the inner one he’d spent forever curating. Before doing his damnedest to obliterate it, when the comparison became too cruel to bear.

“More…own me, Mac.” Oops, that had leaked through his lips. Joe heard the bad-ass’ breath hitch, sensed something teeter in the silence…wondered which way it would fall.

Time itself was suspended in the trembling stillness while Mac weighed Joe’s runaway words. Would he find them wanting? Wackadoodle p’raps? They might’ve gone AWOL, but Joe had meant them. That’s what he wanted, had forever wanted, and he didn’t give a flying fuck if that wasn’t PC. Plod approved. He ached for Mac to claim him, imprint himself on Joe’s flesh. Drill that truth home. Be Mac’s home. Be the everything Joe could never be, to a man like Mac. A lone panther on the prowl, in pursuit of a very different prey. Intent on proving himselfp’raps to himself, first and foremostthe most formidable, infallible, foe on Earth. Or thereabouts. An enemy every bit as relentless as those hips.

In those shimmering seconds, stretching foreveras far back as Joe could remember, into the future he might never meethe waited for Mac’s verdict. Breath abated, suspended on a knife edge of need. To know.

Mac withdrew, almost all the way, and paused. Sadist. Then. Unleashed that steel-sprung spine like an opening salvo in the siege on Joe’s senses that ensued. A bliss blitzing battle to le petit mort. Paradise. 

“Yesss….” he heard himself hiss,  but after that there was nothing but Joe’s heartbeat hammering in his ears, the slap of skin on skin, curses, sighs ‘n’ soft cries. Joe could scarce keep still; he was a mess, a squirming, quaking, hot mess of moremoremore. White heat flaring through his veins like wildfire, consuming everything in its path. So exhilarating that his entire self felt like a scream of freedom—p’raps a wee bit weird—when consumed by all he’d ever craved, and the sure fingers that enclosed Joe’s cock. “Aahh…”

Mac shifted a smidge before unleashing a flurry of short sharp thrusts. The world, both inside and outside his head—Joe could no longer tell where one ended and the other began—shattered in a cascade of ecstasy as light-shot scarlet exploded behind his eyelids. 

“Joorrr…” Resounded round his head like a rumble of thunder when Mac shuddered to a trembling halt, filling Joe with the very essence of all he was. The living, breathing, bad-ass embodiment of more.

The more he’d waited forever for. Mac was the most deadly of all addictions. A troika of cravings too insistent to resist: a mind, body, soul, assault on Joe’s system, which was too accustomed to its customary fix to function without it. Even Mac couldnae sate its clamour for that unless he could cook up smack in his nutsack.

*

Joe was splayed on his front, suffused in bliss, sublimely smeared in bad-ass, when a rather rude rat-a-tat-tat shattered his reverie.

“Whoosat?”

“Bacon.” Mac sounded far too satisfied about this happenstance for actorly chaps to have come calling at the crack o’dawn. So chances were, said rudery heralded the breakfast Joe dimly recalled being threatened with last night. Rather than a footloose-and-fancy-free so-I’ve-popped-round-for-a-visit thespian.

It was tricky to say which of those Joe fancied less, in truth (still a scoundrelly stipulation, no doubt). The scoffing-sort of bacon not being the least bit appetizing to his bottom of the budgie cage palette, and the Kev-sort not being tempting in the slightest, when Joe had rump steak ensuite, as ’twere.

Mac hefted himself up and bounded off the bed with startling alacrity for someone who’d snatched about forty-winks in the last forty-eight hours, so the bad-ass was either more than a mite peckish, or he had a freaky bacon butty fetish.

Wrapping himself in rashers à la Gaga sounded a helluva lot more fun than than a smacked arse, Joe had to admit. ‘Bacon butty’ soon proved a mite optimistic, cos the tray that was shortly plonked on the bed niffed to high heaven of far too many foodstuffs. All served up on silver salvers (or something such) with domes atop them, hiding the horrors lurking beneath. The sheer stench o’which suggested eggs…and some gloopsome gunk or other that made Joe’s guts chunter in protest. 

Mac’s flinty glint would’ve been infinitely more gratifying aimed Joe’s way, but tragically, it was not. It was flambéing whatever was under the hat he tilted to have a wee peep beneath, before replacing it to reach for the cigs on the bedside table.

“I’m starving, but I need a smoke first…” Mac sighed, tugging a couple out and passing one to Joe before lighting his own.

“I hope you don’t expect me to scoff one of those…unless you fancy seeing it again in a slightly more mix ‘n’ match fashion,” Joe informed him, once he’d lit up and inhaled that first glorious lungful of the morn.

“It would’ve been rather ungallant to just order one for myself,” his ever confounding killer noted, adding; “I could eat a bloody bison, so a few strips of bacon won’t be a hardship. Surely you’re sick of the sight of crunchy-nutters?”

“Not happening, but I’m still full up ‘nuff, thank you kindly. I’m off to cook up my own brekkie while you’re scoffing yours. My insides are screaming from the top o’the morning to my toes. I’ll never be fed up of them though, so it’s pointless to keep asking. I’ll make do with an all-you-can-eat buffet if I can’t have my favourite, but if I can, then that’s all I want. See? Easy peasy to please, me.” Joe shrugged.

“You’ve missed out a significant part of that equation, one that makes you impossible to please—or, to be more specific—stay pleased for more than five minutes,” Mac chuckled. Chuckled? The scent of bacon must have sent him squiffy.

Please sir, can I have some more is only a problem if I can’t. Things p’raps get a mite messy then…but that’s cos I get fed up having my wrists slapped. I’m not flippin’ five,” Joe fuffed.

“Chances are, that’s because those eyes are bigger than your belly,” Mac snorted, “Or at least, they’re bigger than your body’s capacity to survive their appetite.”

“That’s a McFancy way of calling me a greedy pig, isn’t it?”

“If the cap fits,” the scoundrel grinned.

“Humph, well I hope it’s a baker boy one, cos it’ll be a cold day in hell before I sport a baseball cap backwards.” Joe sniffed.

*

Joe hadn’t fibbed to Mac, even his teeth were screaming. His bones hurt and his guts were gnawing on themselves, griping in gnarly knots. His first fix o’the day didn’t do a lot but alleviate that and quell the craving for a wee while, so Joe figured that he’d soon be good t’go…if he was a smidge more moderate than was his wont of a morn.

The crater on his wrist looked a bit icky in an oozing green gunk sort o’way when Joe pulled its bad-ass bandage off. It didn’t niff none too pleasant either, so he cleaned it up a bit and plonked a nipple sized plaster atop it. His arms didn’t actually look too bad, he decided, having hosted scant rations of late. Less scab-than-skin, which must count as a plus, surely?

Joe was trying not to tick too many boxes in the bad-ass’ books. An admission that made him feel suddenly very small and very…scared. A surge of panic that left him so light-headed Joe sank to his haunches, to be closer to the floor in case he keeled over. It was a long way to fall and he didn’t fancy the headlines if he cracked his own open on the loo. Junkie Joe Bogs His Clogs.  A life in loos. They’d prob’ly never forgive him for the fact they couldn’t claim: From a Waterloo portaloo to the Wellington Suite. At least he’d come up in the world before bogging his clogs? That was sure to make the Major proud…

Upon finding himself struck by a spot of vanity that hadn’t visited his shores a very lot of late, Joe decided to bodge away at his leg, instead. Mac must’ve been half-starved, cos he contented himself asking Joe to leave the bathroom door open as he slinked over to the swish dining table. Nary a bad-ass darkened the doorway, either; he just called out ‘y’okay?’ every wee while, so Joe was left to his own devices for the duration. A fact that somehow didn’t cause when-the-cat’s-away repercussions. This is getting riccidoodalus. Particularly when he had to potter off to studio and would soon find himself coshed with whatever-the-fuck Adam had stashed up his sleeves. 

When he felt relatively more human, Joe’s newfound particularity about his person sent him scuttling showerwards. Crikey, it was quite a morning of firsts. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had managed to rouse him in any fit state to function, let alone attend to his toilette. But then, no one else had ever been worth waking up to, nor had they happened upon the perfect button to press for an alarm-call par excellence. Mac was more than a mite scary on the cunning plot front.

A fact said bad-ass proved beyond any shadow of doubt when Joe emerged from the shower, sporting a few towels here ’n’ there.

“Answer this when it rings. No matter what,” Mac instructed, passing him what appeared to be a batphone. ’Twas screeching scarlet and looked as if it might self-destruct if Joe did not do just that afore 10-9-8-7-6…seconds had elapsed.

“Why would I do this?” Joe asked, eyeing it a tad warily.

“Because I said so…but if you’d prefer a less Stalinesque explanation: I promised to get them off your back. In order to persuade Adam et al that I can deliver on my word? Proof that it can be trusted wouldn’t go amiss. Other than my rep and what it’s costing them, they have no hard evidence that I will deliver the goods—you. I suspect they reckon you’ll prove my fatal flaw…when in fact, that’s an insult to your ingenuity. How very predictable that would be…”

Mac let that linger in the air…like a particularly tempting carrot. Blighter. “You can do far better than that. We can…if you’ll be my secret weapon.”

“I didn’t expect you to cotton onto that last bit, let alone trust me ’nuff to count on it. So, that’s all I have t’do? Answer the McBat phone?”

McBat phone, f’chrissakes,” the rascal spluttered. “Is there any all about it? How often do you answer your own?” Mac shot him a knowing side-eye, garnished with a glinty special.

“Well…it gets lost.”

“Odd that…does it tend to get lost when it’s ringing in your back pocket too?” Oooh…evil.

“Um…sometimes?” Joe pinned on a ‘picture of innocence’ expression (p’raps aided and abetted by his fluffy white towel turban). It had got him out of a fair few scrapes, it must be admitted.

“Pick a ringtone…” Mac instructed with a smirky twerk of lips. Scoundrel. In Joe’s defence? It was the smug’s fault…

‘Psycho Killer‘ had tripped off the tip of his tongue to flaunt itself with nary a care for consequence before Joe could rustle up a request for a less suicidal ditty. 

As death wishes went, it was quite a corker…

 

 

 

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 40

My Way

51 Mac

 

 

 

 

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.

“Your supper.”

“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.

“Drink it.”

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 worsepatheticwhich 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.

“Hmm…”

“F’chrissakes. No. Sleep.”

“Meanie…”

“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.

“Hmm…”

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.

 

 

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 39

Hi, I hope you’re having a fabulous weekend. 🥰I’m sorry it’s been a while, I’ve been beavering away, but it took forever to write…

 

 

*

My Way 

50 Joe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A low moan rumbled in Mac’s throat when Joe melded their mouths as he’d demanded, but their lips had no sooner met than Mac seized control, darting his tongue between Joe’s teeth. Snatching his breath away with the sheer intensity of kisses as heady as the husky musk of Mac’s skin. Greedy? Joe could never have enough of this. Of him.

A hand was slipped inside Joe’s robe to starfish across his bare back as Mac encompassed his nape with the other. The bad-ass didn’t miss so much as a beat when he shifted on the seat, bracing himself to rise to his feet, powered by tightly packed quads alone. How Joe ached to trace those wiry mounds of lean muscle with his tongue; learn, taste, every inch of Mac’s body. Find every secret spot that made those glinty greens spit sparks. Glean every sacred thing that might drive Mac to the very edge of himself and beyond… 

‘Beyond’ being Mac’s base line…so nothing less would do. Everything he did, had done, intended to do, being precisely that. Beyond the norms that bound men to banality. Driving himself beyond the endurable, beyond the limits of ninety percent of all who dared. Let alone won. Joe might be wrong o’course, there were other Special Forces units, but the bad-ass sure as sharpshooters hadnae been in a run o’the mill regiment. That’s why Joe had asked Mac the very specific: have you ever killed a man. Not men. Of course he had…which is why Joe knew the answer to his question. Mac would have issued an, ‘ex-forces, what d’you think’ shrug, if he hadn’t known damn well what Joe wanted to know. 

As a bodyguard, Mac put his life on the line to protect people who paid for that undeserved privilege. He could’ve said self-defence, shit happens. He hadn’t. Mac had killed in cold blood, and they both knew it. He might’ve done so for Queen and Country…but that was just a matter of jurisdiction. And splitting hairs. It didn’t make his targets any less dead. The truth remained the same. 

All o’this whizzed through Joe’s head at warp speed after being carried across the room and lowered…onto a rug. Not the bed. The floor. As he’d specified. Mac had taken him at his word without so much as a mention of fancy schmancy sheets and foam memory mattresses…let alone whisked Joe off to the bedroom regardless. 

“Don’t move an inch…” he ordered, pausing for long nuff to plant a soul scorching kiss on Joe’s lips before shooting off to rustle up some lube and—it soon transpired—strip naked. Strewth. Joe could weave words for the rest of forever and never do his lean, mean, lethal machine justice. Mac sure as Shermans wasn’t built like a tank…he was the high performance personification of his very own classic car.  Or, p’raps the human incarnation of that particular cat. As sleek as he was deadly. Divine. Predatory, as he slinked to Joe’s side and stood, staring down as if deciding which bit to devour first. Or, hack off. A fact that was p’raps part of his charm, Joe had to admit. To himself.

While thinking all this, he might’ve forgot the part about not moving an inch when he could do some moving-swiftly-on stuff instead. Figuring that a bit of a fidget wasn’t technically moving anywhere, he wriggled out of his robe and pants, then lay back to await the consequences of shifting a smidge. 

“Um…I didn’t move anywhere else?”

“I’d paddle your arse if I didn’t think you’d enjoy it too much,” he found himself informed, which wasn’t as true as Mac suspected.  It didn’t tickle Joe’s fancy enough for its own sake, and delayed gratification wasn’t his very best thing. Far from his favourite waste of time. He never ate starters either…they weren’t worth the wait for dessert. 

“You came armed with paddles?” It had to be asked, when the answer would be worth reaping.

“Nope…but there’s no doubt a Gideon bible in a drawer somewhere.” See? Kinky cat. “So, tell me…did you move purely to wind me up?” Words that dripped from Mac’s lips to sizzle Joe’s skin. Like hot wax cooling on clammy flesh. “Or expediency?”

“The first one would’ve been daft in case it made the latter pointless?” Joe hedged, not having thought it through in advance. His ‘very best things’ list wasn’t very long. ’Nuff said. “P’raps…neither? I just wanted to…give you less time to change your mind…”

Change my mind? Look at me, Joe.” Joe was looking. It was…hard not to. Very. “Does that appear likely…?”

In truth… No. But Mac was so much more than met the eye. A staggering achievement in itself. He was also a cussed sod, who prided himself on feats of endurance far more excruciating than a chronic case of cripple cock. Pointing out that particular truth? A swift perusal of outcomes suggested it mightn’t be advisable on the end game front. Dr. Strange had nothing on Joe. 

“When was the last time you cut y’self some slack?” he asked instead. Being blessed with the wisdom of Tony Stark on a bender, t’boot.

“Every breath I take in your presence?” Mac snorted, dropping to his haunches and grasping Joe’s ankles to snatch them apart. 

“Suicide would be preferable?” Joe guessed, on the grounds that goatee-bearded genius types couldn’t top that rationale. 

“In collateral damage terms, certainly.” Mac shrugged, crawling between Joe’s legs. “Thus answering your initial question…I’ve done nothing but cut myself some slack since crossing your threshold…perhaps even that.” Mac planted a palm either side of Joe’s head to hover over him on all fours. Not a jot prudent on the consequences front.

Clearly.

“So, why? What do you want, Mac?” Joe murmured, all-but boring holes in the scoundrel’s head with a dareyou stare t’die for. In all likelihood. 

“I want…” When he paused, Joe wondered if he was about to witness the first time his bad-ass had bottled it for…ever. “…To watch you come apart.” This in a voice as dark as the glint in those greens. “Wrap your legs around my waist…”

Strewth…that was the last thing he’d expected Mac to want, let alone ask for. They may have done it, briefly, a hasty legs over the shoulders job, mid-way through the first time. Joe had scarce been able to see straight, let alone think it through. As a request, it was so much more…intimate, as close as close can be. That’s what Mac wanted? Rather than shoot himself in the nuts by noting any of that, Joe just nodded. Stayed schtum and simply wound his legs around Mac’s waist before locking his ankles. 

“Christ…” the contrary sod groaned, slamming his lids shut. Cussed. To the last. He’d order tripe as his last supper on death row, Joe was sure of it. No dessert. Nope, not even blancmange, which tasted as fun as it sounded.

The rush of relief when Mac retrieved his right hand to slip a slick finger into Joe’s body without further ado was boundless. Negating the need for words and abating the ache of emptiness—briefly—before the gnawing need for more flexed its talons.

“Please, Mac…” Joe begged, pushing back as best he could and clenching his muscles tight when the scoundrel started a languorous sweep back and forth. “More…” Joe whimpered, when the languid too ‘n’ fro became torture too sweet to bear. He’d never been more grateful to be gifted a finger in his flippin life. The glint of dark fire that gleamed in Mac’s eyes was sin itself when he brushed that mind-blitzing knot of nerves. “Mac!” Joe hollered, under seige of too much, never ever, enough. “PLEASE!”

“More…or me…” Mac’s tone was too knowing to qualify as a question. Joe kept that fact to himself, when he might wind up with neither any time soon, when soon couldn’t come soon nuff. 

“You…” had scarce left his lips afore Mac whisked his fingers away, replacing them with a blink-and-miss-it nudge of pressure, before burying himself balls deep with one sure thrust. The darkness behind Joe’s eyelids bled scarlet as the bliss blazed its way through the burn. Full at last, full of him. Impossibly full, thrumming through every fibre of his being as if his heart might burst. Feeding, fuelling that gnawing desperation to feel—truly feel—for the first time in far, far, too long. Teetering on the brink of his very self, clinging to Mac, when only he could hold the abyss at bay. “Morrre…” Joe pleaded, snatching at the tufts of rug snarled in his fists as he pushed back, urging him on.

“Don’t want t’hurt you…” Mac rasped.

“MAAC!” he shrieked, clenching tight. “Please…

“F’fucksakes…” Mac clasped Joe’s waist, grinding himself deeper before dragging his hips back, almost all the way, before unleashing that superlative spine. Joe tightened his grip, tugging him in closer, when there was no close enough. “Look at me…” Mac demanded.

Joe felt strangely reluctant to peel his lids apart; safe in his cocoon of Mac and midnight darkness, studded with starry flecks of light. The sliver of sight he braved was touchpaper to flame. The ferocity of Mac’s focus, fixed on Joe’s face, made his traitorous cheeks flame crimson as if he’d been caught snaffling his stash from the bad-ass’ back pocket. Mac rolled his hips, with slow deliberation, holding Joe’s gaze hostage.

What was he looking for? How Joe hoped he’d found it. Unless…he dreaded doing just that. A scouting tactic; Mac in reconnaissance mode. As Joe feared.

“Promise me…” Mac growled, with a glint that could prob’ly cut glass. It was impossible to tell where passion blurred with…fury. Suppressed rage, balancing on a knife edge of need. Joe p’raps shouldn’t find that…exhilarating, but he’d caused it. Mac felt it. Its very existence was intoxicating. “You won’t…steal yourself away. Swear it.”

Joe’s batshit senses had far from finished their loony bin application, it seemed. After a brief flirtation with bursting into flames, his body all-but sighed against the rug, buttery boned and leaden-limbed. From combusting to road-kill in a snatched off breath. 

“I…won’t.” If you won’t.

“I’m not going anywhere.” Mac glowered. 

Huh…did I say that last part? Joe didn’t think so, but his system had gone haywire and Mac was buried in his body. He was capable of wayyy worse, it must be admitted. And Mac was capable of farrr more than Joe (understatement wasn’t on his list either, oddly nuff) had given him credit for. As the bad-ass promptly proved. Crushing his mouth down to capture Joe’s and punish him with kisses every bit as incendiary the swish of that oh, so sinuous spine. Slamming into Joe over and over, nailing that scintillating spot, nailing Joe to the rug with the full force of that daggered glint. As promised. Obliterating all else. Joe couldn’t keep still, couldn’t stop squirming, couldn’t get close enough, when that was impossible. The need, too intense to surmount. An immense press, spiralling from the low, burning heat, ever-building, like a fire ball about to blow, too much to bear.

“I-I-Mac!” He was there, in an instant. Sure fingers curling around Joe’s cock, as Mac fired off two, three, hip-snapping thrusts and spasmed; unleashing a scorching bolt of white-hot bliss as pulsing warm flooded Joe’s body, fuelling the ecstatic rush.

*

Joe lay, in the aftermath, with the flecks of his former fears fluttering around him, settling in the silence.

Leaving space aplenty for a new terror to slink along in their wake. A seducer on the prowl; in shadowy form still, lapping at the edge of his consciousness. He knew Mac thought him a two bit tart…mayhaps found his tastes too…eclectic full stop. But. A Big One. As Joe had proved. That was only true until his appetites executed a screeching halt, the moment Joe happened upon his…well, anything.

His favourite breakfast cereal used to be Kellogg’s Variety Pack; eight titchy boxes to choose from every morn. A large part of their allure, in truth (becoming a bit of a habit, which ne’er went well). Until. He’d tasted crunchy-nutters for the first time.

Joe had scoffed them every single day for two decades. Unless he’d been a smidge…indisposed. Only one thing would stop him from saying exactly the same in another twenty years. If the scoundrels stopped making them, cutting off his supply? Joe would just have to make sure he stockpiled ’nuff to last for fifty.

Hence, the new horror lurking on his horizon. Joe sure as slinky rascals couldnae buy a McMansion to fill to the rafters, could he, if…McCafferty wasn’t there...  

Ooh.

McCafferty, McCafferty there’s no one like McCafferty...flinty-glinted fiend of feline-hipped suavity…  

‘Twas an itty bit irresistible…a lot like the bad-ass. Joe’s very own man of mystery. Cat.

And that, was that.

 

 

***

 

 

 

Macavity: The Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot

 

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 38 Updated

Hi, I updated it with the rest of Mac’s chapter…

 

My Way

48 Joe

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Joe wished he hadn’t admitted any—all—of that stuff. Trying to stay on the straight ’n’ narrow never went well; he just drove everyone else round the bend, or to drink. Or both.

The bathroom was…shiny. Sunstroke shiny. Blinding bright and gratuitously greige. Joe squinted at the sprinkle of smack marching in single file across marble, willing it to be ’nuff. It was even less than he’d hoovered up after his mad dash to the loo on Mac’s first day, but he didn’t want to nod off. He wanted, needed, Mac. Joe had waited too long already and it was all too new, too…tentative to wait. Worrying. Afraid that Mac might come to his senses, wonder what the fuck he’d done that for, berate himself for sinking so low, then slam the brakes on.

Joe just hoped to hold the craving at bay, pacify it for a wee while, in a ‘swift snack to tide him over till supper time’ sort of way. Rather than indulge in a gourmet dinner with all the trimmings. That was the most fucked up part; needing it purely to function. Having to take it, just to attain ground zero. In trying to escape from himself, Joe had become a slave to a task master even more relentless…and now? He was too scared to stop, not least when everyone blamed the smack for his mishaps, rather than the true culprit. If he stopped, it would soon become all-too clear that they’d bought into a lie. See Joe for the bedsit busker he really was, knew himself to be, and realise he really wasn’t worth the piece of paper his name was written on.

On that note, what if Joe couldn’t…write? What if he couldn’t create anything without his failsafe fuel? What if every word worth a damn was wrested from somewhere he couldn’t access without assistance? Every silvery sliver of melody, gilded with the sheen of opium dreams? Worst of all would be facing that fact—knowing for sure—rather than just suspecting. That he was nothing without it. As talentless as they’d sneered. As talentless as he feared. A fact that would leave Joe stripped naked on a stage, lashed by the scorch of spotlights, exposed as a charlatan. Then exhibited in high definition on the front pages of the papers, stroblit by the unforgiving glare of flash. As the world watched on…and snorted in derision.

Peace of mind, the reassurance of having secured his fix would have to suffice. Joe took too much, too often—its delivery too direct—for a swift snort to do more than becalm the clamour. The physical craving would ease off in a few minutes, but the mental one would be satisfied in a sniffy jiffy. Those last few words were mayhaps more fitting than he’d meant them to be…

*

“Y’okay?” Mac asked, when Joe emerged from the bathroom after a blissful wee while relishing the rush of relief. The scoundrel was lounging on the sofa, glass in one hand, cigarette in the other, looking a lot less harassed than Joe had left him. Odd that. 

“Yeah…fine. Mac, will you promise me something?” Joe rued his question the instant it tumbled from his lips, unbidden. 

“If it’s legal…and not too heinous,” he snorted.

“T’is legal…heinous?” Joe sighed, sinking down beside him. “Is your call, methinks. Will you—oh, thanks for the tea,” A reprieve when Joe’s middle distance stare encompassed the cup and saucer on the low table before him. He reached for it, regretted its rattle. A staccato stutter of betrayal. Judas. “—tell me when…you’ve had ’nuff? I-I…can’t bear that…you might…” Crap, that sounded pathetic, even before the clincher, “…stay if you’re wishing yourself away. I—”

“Before you go any further,” Mac interjected. “I believe the phrase is ‘back at ya’. You didnae choose me, or even want me here, I’ve been forced upon you…without so much as the freedom to dispense with my services when I piss you off.” After a wee pause to drain his drink, he added, “This, while being saddled with the occupational hazard of wondering what the fuck everyone wants from you—when they always do—while knowing that nothing you give will ever be enough. They’ll always be left wanting. More. I sure as shit wouldnae trust anyone, if I was in your shoes. I’d suspect the worst case scenario, and act accordingly. Preemptively, more often than not.” 

The glint that glittered in the green was as sinister as it was as…hot as hell when Mac glowered the last part. Joe knew that he should be blown away by the bad-ass’ powers of perception—insights not a single soul had cared to share before—but blinking a bit was about the best he could rustle up. The headiness of his brain and the blood that headed south made mustering ‘staggered’ far too hard. 

“I tend to believe what I want to…’til I don’t. Or can’t fool m’self anymore. I’ve always accepted people as they are—hoping for the same in return I guess—do unto others…” Joe snuffed out a soft sigh. “Until they make that impossible. I can’t change that, not when my…foibles have always been so much…more for them to accommodate. Even if they weren’t, changing how I treat people because I’m ‘famous’ would be obscene. I’d rather be dead than be that person…” Joe flicked his eyes to Mac’s face, fearing censure. Wincing in expectation of the stream of ‘shoulds’ the bad-ass would deem it imperative to issue. Part and parcel of his job; to keep Joe safe, just as he’d promised.

“Joe…” His name preceded a fulsome sigh. Uh oh. “I will do my damnedest to keep them off your back. I meant every word I said…all you need do, is be you. Am I right in supposing that you’d prefer fans who want exactly that, rather than punters who buy into what the record company is trying to sell?” Mac levelled him with a stare so penetrating it could probably lick Joe’s bone marrow. That shouldn’t sound erotic. Not a jot. Shoulda woulda coulda...

“Yes…” Joe nodded. “The big ol’ machine is geared to promoting an…image I could never live up to…but it’s more than that. I don’t want to be sold as better than I am, better than them, when I’m not…I can’t live that lie anymore than I could’ve stayed in the closet,” he sighed.

“That’s probably why they’ve made such a fuck awful mess. They’re used to selling a product that’s willing to be sold as such, to shift units, put bums on seats. It’s a deal with the devil. Not many turn it down, or even want to…rail against being elevated. Feted…lifted aloft on the shoulders of the rest.” A rueful head shake that made the overhanging tendrils of Mac’s hair tremble in the lamplight. He didn’t say ‘even me’, but Joe saw it glint in the green…alongside a sliver of something so impossible it must’ve arrived holding hands with the faeries.

It was way too weird a word to leave room for any others, so Joe let it flit away, along with a trillion others and none at all…which left him feeling sort of floppy. So, he shifted himself around to…stretch out a bit, legs hanging over the arm of the sofa, head resting on Mac’s lap.

“Are you quite comfortable?” The bad-ass asked, eyebrows ’n’ lips twerking in tandem.

“Yes, thank you,” Joe grinned.

“I’m glad someone is,” Mac snorted. “But to answer your initial question: I accepted the gig because it was a challenge. I’m staying because…I want to. I don’t need the paycheck and I sure as fuck won’t come up smelling of roses when I’m done.” If all of Joe had felt ‘floppy’ it sure as strewth wouldn’t have stayed that way. “Landing up to our necks in it is far more likely…” he shrugged, reaching forward to grab the whisky bottle and glug a fair slug before leaning back with a satisfied sigh. 

“How does your way of winding up neck-deep differ from mine?” Joe wondered, squinting up at Mac, who just shot him a flinty special. About a devilish smirk before coshing him with this:

“Let’s just call that a…personal question for now…”

Goddammit. His bad-ass was bloomin’ lethal…and that had bugger all to do with whether he offed Joe or not.

 

***

49 Mac

 

 

 

 

“Are you quite comfortable?” Mac asked, resorting to snark when a warm wave of pleasure rippled through his body, riveting him to the spot. The shaft of lust that accompanied the sudden landing of Joe’s head in his lap effected a double tap, freezing him there. The mind-boggling array of limbs stretched across the sofa were the finishing flourish to this Failure Drill. Of Mac to his seat. Mozambiqued. A metaphor to die for. 

Perhaps he should retire and pull an Andy McNabb. 

A cunning plan that left Mac far too busy plotting Bravo, Zero Brains to man his own battlements. If there was another explanation for betraying himself with his very next breath, Mac didnae care to fathom it. In his own defence, the saboteur in his pants had a lot to answer for. It sure as hell didnae bear repeating but, suffice to say? As suicidal soliloquies went; his last words would probably prove all-too prophetic.

“Landing up to our necks in it is far more likely…”

At which point, Mac sat back and downed a wee dram or three. For self-preservation purposes. Before he spewed any more lethal weapons for Joe to wield his way…

 

*2*

 

It had not escaped Mac’s notice—crack shot sniper that he was—at this precise moment in time? His charge seemed to be in better possession of his faculties than he. Which should have been…alarming, to say the least.

Was he just too weary to be arsed? Christ, he wasnae in his dotage yet. A few hours lost sleep and a midnight drive couldnae compare to trekking the Brecon Beacons in fuck awful weather with sixty pounds of kit crammed into his Bergen. Nor nine weeks spent sweating in out in the jungles of Belize under pressure designed to break the hardiest of bastards, all hell-bent on proving they couldnae be. A weekend spent babysitting a wraith-like smack addict should be a breeze after enduring thirty-six hours of interrogation resistance. In theory.

Enduring extreme conditions couldnae hold a candle to Joe Fitzgerald in the exhaustion stakes. Endless limbs fidgeting in a constant flurry of movement as he wafted from one wisp of whimsy to the next. Fluttering off half-way through one thought to follow anothermomentarily more tantalizingthread. It had proved pretty much impossible to second guess him, which left Mac constantly on edge. Shackled there by his own conviction, and the ever growing certainty that, if anticipation was indeed the best form of defence? Mac was fucked. 

As if Joe’s enchanting charm wasnae crippling enough, the frenetic intelligence Vince had cautioned Mac against was lethal. Joe was far too capable of wrong footing and outwitting anyone who stood in the way of whatever flitted through his head. Trying to second guess him was pointless when fathoming what the fuck he might do in the first place was impossible. 

Mac’s brain might feel as if it was about to melt out of his ears but physically, he was wound so tight he could scarce marshall his remaining marbles, let alone Joe. Being saddled with a perpetual hard on for…two days, sure hadnae helped matters. Had it only been two days? It felt like three minutes and forever. What day was it now? The early hours of Monday? Mac had arrived on…Saturday. In the interim, his carefully curated self had been blown to oblivion. Two days? The miscreant had pulled that off in the first two hours. Minutes. Worse, the more time he spent with Joe, the less Mac felt certain of.

He’d find himself thinking he’d sort of found his footing, then the rug would be pulled from beneath his feet with a swiftness that left him floundering. There were too many Joes for comfort. His mood swings were as quicksilver as his wit…the excesses Mac had presumed sheer self-indulgence now seemed… intrinsic. Just Joe. Who possessed no internal calibrator to adjust his input or output levels. He had but one setting; everything cranked to the max. Even sedated, Joe was still so much more than anyone Mac had ever met. Smack sure as hell didnae sedate his sex drive.

Another suspicion kept reinserting itself into Mac’s consciousness, further muddying the mire. Would Joe be disappointed if the answer to ‘have you ever killed a man’ was no…as Mac had begun to believe? Would the truth fuel Joe’s romantic fantasies…or extinguish them?

Was it any wonder that Mac had lost the bloody plot in which said question played a part? Not least when he couldnae help but suspect the twist in that particular tale would come as no surprise whatsoever.

“Mac?”

“Hm?”

“What are you pondering?”

“You…” Mac muttered distractedly.

“Oh. In a bad way? Have I done something amiss?”

“No…”

“No? Crikey, I’m slipping.” Joe grinned. “You’re having a dreadful influence on me, y’know. I’ll be schmoozing ’round a stage crooning mood music in my slippers and smoking jacket next.”

“I don’t doubt you could pull it off too. Quite how you’d manage to subvert that scenario until it dripped with decadent whimsy, as opposed to being sing-a-long-a-Bing, I know not, but that doesnae make it less true.”

“You’re puddled…or piddled, Mr McBadass. Oh, that reminds me, I want a white tux, so I’ll have to ask Adam, cos I need to go to the studio when I wake up.”

“I thought we were off to Harrods…wasnae that why we drove here tonight?” Mac frowned.

“Oh. I forgot…I have to go to the studio first, cos I needMac...” His name scorched his crotch when Joe pounced to blowtorch a blast of breath through Mac’s trousers.

“Fuck!” He gasped, head snapping back as his hips spasmed off the seat.

“I thought you’d never ask…” Joe yanked on the button and fumbled with the zip, before scrambling onto his knees. Mac was still reeling when the waistband of his pants was pulled clear of his cock… the relief of being freed from their confines promptly eclipsed by the mind-mangling heat of Joe’s mouth.

“Hmm…” F’fucksakes…

“Joestop. NO!” Mac clasped a fistful of tufty hair to tug when the miscreant didn’t seem the slightest inclined to pay heed. Oh Christ...lips glistening in the lamplight, plump, parted, that midnight gaze glazed, cloudy with confusion.

“You don’t want me?”

“What the fuck? How the hell did you come up with that?” Mac groaned.

“You s-said no…” Bewilderment muddied the brown; bottomless, breathtaking.

“F’chrissakes…” Mac released the handful of hair to clasp the back of Joe’s head and crush his mouth to his own, hell-bent on obliterating all doubt. “Of course I do…” he rasped, after dragging himself from the kiss. “You couldnae have had a closer view of that truth.”

“I’m sorry, there was only the no and Imy head hurts, it’s too full up of stuff. Mac, please fuck me…” A noise very like a sob sounded in Joe’s throat when he thunked his forehead to Mac’s chest. “Please…”

“Joe…look at me…” he murmured, stroking his tangled snarls of hair. The midnight eyes he raised to Mac’s face glistened, as if brimming with stars. “How the hell could you think I didnae want you? This, despite knowing damn well that I’m just a ‘distraction’? I could be anyone but I’ll do…I’m here. How the fuck d’you think that feels?” Mac demanded. Much to his own dismay…and utter self-disgust.

“I don’t want distracting…or anyone else…just” Joe cut off mid-sentence, his brows crumpled in a frown. “Feels?

Oh crap. If Mac had a gun handy he might have swallowed it. It would’ve been a sure fire way of shutting himself up. He had no right to feel fuck all. He was just a bloody bodyguard. Here, with Joe, because he’d been employed to be.

“Forget it…I’m just…tired. Stupid,” he sighed, pressing the heel of his palm to forehead. 

“I don’t want to,” Joe pouted. “I can’t just ‘forget’ I’ve made you feel bad. What did I do?”

“You haven’t done anything. It’s my bad.” Mac sighed. “I thought you wanted distracting…?”

“I don’t want distracting from you. I want you.” Joe insisted, eyes, huge, imploring.

“Same difference..” Mac shrugged, forcing his lips into a smile he feared was rueful, at best.

“No. It’s not.” Joe shifted so swiftly he’d straddled Mac’s lap before he could mutter the flippant ‘doesn’t matter’ on the tip of his tongue. “It’s specific. You can’t ‘distract’ me from wanting you, that’s a snake scoffing its own tail sort of sentence. Mac…I want you. Inside me. Nail me to the floor with that daggered glare…make me safe. Make me sure for a…wee while that you want to be here. If you don’t take, I can’t believe you’ll stay. Why would you, when you’ve got nothing to gain. Nothing worth having. Everything to lose….”

Mac let him finish, blindsided by this snow flurry of nonsense. Freezing him in his tracks. Biting into his cheeks like wind burn. What the hell was Joe waffling on about? Snakes, nails and puppy dog taieyes. Huge, begging to be believed while stabbing Mac with beliefs so far from truth they were travesties.

His brain felt fit to combust. It hadnae recovered from being scattershot with fragments snatched from a cascade of lyrics he’d heard just once, couldnae be sure he’d heard at all. Too lost in velvet soft tones to commit them to memory while whisked away on the wings of a melody as crystal clear as a mountain stream, sparkling with sunlight. It was, in fact, impossible to focus on anything in Joe’s presence. Nor when he wasnae—present—that is, and Mac didnae know what the fuck he was up to. Nothing worth having? His senses were too deranged by the dark appetite ablaze in Joe’s eyes to muster a single thing worth the weight of those words. Let alone counter them. So Mac just waded in, for all the world as if he were dead set on dragging Joe from a burning car before the bastard thing exploded.

“I’m not even going to waste my breath, when I know damn well you won’t believe me. I havnae got the patience to take that apart piece by piece when it needs a bloody bomb blast. Listen to me. I fully intend to make you so safe, you’ll live to regret it…for as long as you can endure it. More to the point, I’m too crippled to focus on anything but going nowhere. Least of all when ‘nailing’ you, anyway you wish, has become every bit as distracting as the fact you’re crushing my nuts. So, please…shut up and kiss me, f’chrissakes…”

 

 

 

***