Wafflish

My Way 32

 

Hi, perchance you missed the start of Joe’s part in the update, I’ve included it all here. The new bit is in black type…

 

My Way

 

41 Joe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t want to go…you’re making me do it. Let me stay here, Mac. Stay with me. Just me. That’s what I want…but you won’t.

 

Joe believed this with every fibre of his being as he said it; it was a mere echo of dreams he’d nurtured for a wee while. Of staying forever in his attic hideaway…as safe as those sacred hours of early morn that seemed to belong only to Joe. Writing, reading, playing…pottering about to his heart’s content. Contentment. The holy grail. Worth so much more than it was given credit for by those who sacrificed it at the altar of ‘happiness’.  Joe wasn’t quite as daft as he oft made out, to cut himself some slack. No one else had offered of late…until Mac.

A belief that might well spring from stoned illusion—or batshit delusion—Joe had to admit, if only to himself. Chances were he’d drive himself doolally in a week if he did stay. Shortly before he found himself crawling the walls and chatting to the teapot.

It was comforting to wallow a while in his pipedreams though, because Joe was so, so weary of the fight. Dog-tired of being a product on a conveyor belt; churned out and swallowed up by the monster of his own making. Sometimes he was so bone-weary he could barely crawl out of bed…tramelled by too many forces making too many demands. Too many tainted dreams turned to dust. Sweet ’n’ sour sorrow that felt like failure. Scored into Joe’s skin as he paid the piper and danced the dance. Resenting them for snatching his soul away, even while trying to convince himself its integrity remained intact. Loathing that he let them.

It was akin to being trapped in an ever-contracting circle of snakes, knowing he couldn’t escape any sooner than flee from himself. Or his relentless, unmanageable emotions. Too many, too messy, too much. Feelings Joe could express far better in rhythm and rhyme, when that felt allowed. Even welcome. A way to finally unleash them, without fear of censure. To give them form, let them flutter free. Free? It had felt that way at first. Now they just fed the monster, fuelling the flames of the inferno that raged around him. A despair Joe tried to douse with much the desperation he clung to the tatty remnants of his wide-eyed dreams. Like a broken child clinging to a comfort blanket on a bitter cold night.

A despair he turned on Mac now, utterly certain that his bad-ass had his own piper to pay. Joe knew that his words rang true. Saw guilty indignation glint in the green before Mac quelled it, with but a blink. Crikey…he was good. Joe couldn’t have managed it; his eyes shared his secrets with all and sundry no matter what he said. Ever more ludicrous lies rustled up on the spur of the moment to twist people up in words…trying to distract them from truths so easily accessible elsewhere.

“You’ve signed a contract…put your honour on the line. The one thing you’re less likely to surrender than your reputation. I haven’t got one worth saving…and everything I crave is here. Now tell me who’s got most to lose if I refuse to go…”

The truth Mac had demanded went down about as well as a cup of cold sick. As oft tended to be the case.

““I cannae refute being called out as a cold-hearted bastard.” Mac acknowledged, as if Joe had accused him of such fallacious twaddle. “So, you should, by rights, have won. But.”

Bummer. Why was there always a but? This honesty malarkey was getting a tad out of hand. Quite why folk set so much store upon it, Joe had no idea. It was a Pandora’s Box of horrors waiting to be unleashed upon the unwary. The truth never went well. Especially when you got coshed over the head with a corker.

***

A fact Mac proved with his very next breath…and a plot cooked up by the divil himself. If Joe had been daft ’nuff to imagine he’d got the bad-ass all sewn up? He would’ve found himself tied up like a kipper when Mac seized upon the single frayed thread he’d left dangling and all-but strangled Joe with it. Scoundrel.

Mac’s ‘staring competition’ was so dastardly in its design, Joe didnae have a leg left to stand on to dispute that fact. Not least when his Achilles tendon had been severed with a single swipe.

“How long before you’re crawling the fucking walls for that shit? Two hours…four at the absolute outside?

Joe could do two without breaking out in a cold sweat. He’d never scuttled off stage to shoot up mid-gig, after all. Four was endurable. In a cramped t’fuck and twice as clammy fashion. Four days? The blackguard would park his unimpeachable bad-ass there for four bloody weeks, and Joe knew it. Probably pride his cussed self on four months with naught but few nanas and barrel of whisky to while away such purgatory. 

Oh, but he’d far from finished yet. Not content with that trial o’torture, Mac mooted the tie-break from Tartarus. ‘Six hours fix-free. Wide awake. Then choose one. Just one. No caveats or amendments. Smack…Or (cue demonic drum-roll)….Shag. Me.’ The scoundrel even had the utter audacity to serve up that doozy with a set of scales. 

An ounce of smack against the ten-tonne weight of bad-ass bravado-two-zero? Physics was far from Joe’s best thing, but he didn’t need to be Newton to figure that he’d go flying through the air faster than a bloody bullet sat on one end of a see-saw if a cannonball was dropped on the other.

There was a flaw in Mac’s cunning plan. Joe would have be dead not to notice that spot o’goalpost shifting. Someone who doesnae bottom ever cannot dangle such a carrot and expect to clean up in the scurrilous scheme stakes.

Mac clearly thought Joe was still ‘away with the faeries’ if he expected him to fall for that one. Hypothetical, my arse.

Clarification was called for. Joe bit the bullet. There was a lot o’them about. 

“Does ‘I do not bottom’ mean: You never have or…You won’t bottom for me?”

“It means I won’t. Full stop.” 

Mac had fessed up, whether he was willing to own that fact or not. Pah. Hoisted by your own petard, you wriggle-hipped hustler. A man who had never been plundered thus would not allow such a suspicion stand. It was a matter of manly principal. Or something such. Joe didn’t have the foggiest idea why that mattered but then, he’d never had a stick up his arse instead.

Mac was obfuscating. It was pointless poking away at something he had no intention of admitting any time soon. Sober. 

Ah well, where there’s a will, there’s a way. To wrangle the truth...still dish of the day, no doubt...t’die for? Or, hill to die on? Back at ya, Mr. McBadass. I believe the ball’s in your court…

Mac didn’t demur. Did, in fact, seem well-up for cramming the lid back on the candour box. Odd that.

Some truths are best told without words. Tinderbox truths. Told in tongues, stroked across skin, suffused in sighs…soft cries, like whispers on the wind. Stealing free in a tumble of endearments, too tender to survive the harsh light of day.

 One of which was…the bottom line. The real reason Joe was so obsessed about whether the baddest ass had ever been breached. 

You never have? Or, you won’t bottom for me?

The former was false…which left the latter. 

Despite the fact you’ve done it before, with someone else. Someone worth it.

In truth (being the blah-de-blah), Joe wanted Mac whichever way he came. He wasn’t fussed how. But. He couldn’t help but wonder (fret…fear) that it meant Joe was just a convenient port of call, a perk of the job, rather than someone Mac would ever care to share himself with. In any way. Let alone deem worthy of such a gift.

Unless. One hope did remain in that particular Pandora’s Box. If paranoia would permit Joe to believe it wasn’t just a loophole Mac could exploit and explain away:

Mac had only done it once (maybe twice for confirmation) and hated it so much, he’d sworn never to allow it again.

Joe would have to accept that. Whether it was a big fat fib, or not. Only an utter git wouldn’t. He might be a junkie scumbag, but he wasn’t a sadistic shit.

While on the subject of wriggle room…and dunderheads who leave it lying about for bad-asses luxuriate in?

So shove that up your pipe, and y’might smoke the truth out?  Had left the scoundrel all the segue he needed to bypass—nay, sashay past—Joe’s not-so-killer-line with Lauren Bacall aplomb.

“Speaking of…I’m gasping.” Mac reached out to snag the cigarettes from the bedside cabinet, tugged a couple out and popped one between his lips, then held the tip of the other to Joe’s. If you can’t beat ’em…

After doing the honours with the lighter, Mac shifted himself around, cig still in situ, to lean against the headboard. Hellish sexy he looked too, having pulled that off with more than a whiff of Brando, when by rights? He should have looked like a navvy on a dockyard with one gripped in his gob like that. The bad-ass oozed too much louche elegance for that ever t’be possible.

“Why are you being so tricksy, Mac? Truth being the terms, n’all. Y’can ask me anything you like and I’ll tell you true.” Joe shrugged. Oh crikey, he was forever landing himself in some tight spots to escape…which was p’raps part of their charm.

“Self-preservation. No, you would not…and y’know it. Not if it served you better to lie…or even for the hell of it.” Mac smirked, levelling him with a squinty stare. Unless he just had smoke in his eyes.

“Back up a bit…‘self-preservation’? You can’t toss that off and carry blithely on without a care in the world,” Joe gaped. “Self-preservation against what?” The more Mac said, the less Joe knew. It was most perplexing.

“You.” One word. Tossed at Joe with hot-potato-hand-grenade pizzazz.

“Me!? I haven’t got any nefarious plots up my sleeve,” he protested.

“I don’t think you have, right this minute, but you’d soon give me the slip if it served your purposes,” Mac smirked. “But that’s not the point. I have a job to do. One that will be tough enough, without being too bloody besotted to watch my own back, thank you very much.”

Besotted? The bad-ass? That was taking truth-twisting to…tongue twister tangles. Waterloo Bridge was Joe’s favourite, if Mac thought he was that bloomin gullible. 

“Besotted? By me? Do you think I fell off the Christmas tree? I’m hardly a catch. It’s been clearly established that I’m a junkie scumbag. Y’could trawl the banks of the Thames and take your pick, if that’s what floats your boat.”

“You know damn well it does not.” Mac spat before narrowing those glinty greens to spear Joe with a flinty special. “If I ever hear you call yourself that again, I’m going to flog you.” 

“Is that a promise?” Joe grinned.

“Fuck off. You know what I meant. They’re baying at the bloody door to tear you to shreds, don’t give them—”

“Lightweights,” Joe scoffed.

“I take it you mean that you can do a damned better job?” A knowing eyebrow twerked up in enquiry.

“Yup. Please don’t clobber me with logic, Mac.” Joe begged, when the badass looked about to launch into some spiel that would make Joe’s batshit brain shove its tralala fingers in his ears. “That’s the only straw I can clutch, so I’m clinging on tight.“

“They wouldnae be so hellbent on dragging you down, if they didn’t think you were worth the effort.” Mac argued, instead. “Where would be the sport in that?” A shrug that asserted itself as an unnassailable pronouncement on the proclivities of the Press. 

“That’s just tall poppy syndrome…” Joe’s shrug was a smidge limp-wristed, as a result. But then…The Rock would’ve been hard pressed to rustle up a worthy contender.

“No. It’s not. You’re a rare challenge, Joe Fitzgerald. The vultures don’t often get such rich pickings. Granted, you’d be a walkover if you were less bloody brilliant, but you’re a T-bone steak tossed into their midst…” Mac rolled his eyes alongside a rueful headshake. Despairing at whom? ’Twas tricky to tell. 

“You can’t claim that, when I’ve been ‘away with the faeries’ or shrieking Ooh Mac! for a good half o’the two days you’ve known me,” Joe shot him a side-eye, suspecting a scoundrelly ruse. 

“Yes I damn well can. Could have, ten minutes after I got here, in fact.” The bad-ass shot back.

“Oh…”

Oh? Is that all you’ve got?” Mac’s chuckle didn’t quite offset the fact he looked side-swiped. Astoundingly. Joe had chucked everything but the kitchen sink at him and the scoundrel was poleaxed by a single vowel? 

“Yeah.” Joe dipped his head, a bit abashed, despite himself—or Mac—he wasn’t sure. “I dunno how you can call me brilliant, when you’ve somehow managed to circumnavigate everything I’ve asked is beyond me. How d’you suppose I could get bored of you?”

“No matter how tasty a meal is, would you want to eat it every day?” Mac sighed.

“I do.”

“Are you comparing me to a bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes?” he spluttered.

“No, you are.” Joe snickered. “I’d compare you to a bucket of crunchy-nutters with a bunch of bananas on top.”

Can you actually fall for a man cos he strews nanas on your crunchy-nutters? P’raps that wasn’t the right question. It was his reason that mattered, was it not?

“You’re telling me that you could quite happily live on cereal and banana for the foreseeable—with nothing to let’s say cleanse your palette—when fancy struck?”

“Yup. So long as I could feast to my heart’s content, not survive on stingy rations,” Joe nodded.

“Well, I guess the proof will be in the pudding. Or not. Here y’go…” Mac bent over the side of the bed to grasp the neck of the guitar and plonk it across Joe’s legs. “I really would like to hear you play…”

 

 

 

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 30 – updated

Hiya…

I had a little fiddle with Mac’s chapter and added a bit of ‘business’ here ‘n’ there, embellishing a few things. I’m sorry, I do so hope it reads better now. While I was beavering, I readied a chunk of Joe’s chapter too, so I’ve included it here… 

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. 🥰

 

 

 

 

My Way

 

 

40 Mac

 

 

 

Mac loaded a tray with drinks and poured a bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes for Joe. With banana slices strewn on top. It was a bloody good job he’d brought such a big bunch, but partial as he was to his favourite fruit, Mac couldnae recall the last time a meal hadnae been built around one. Still, it could be worse…Bowie had survived on cocaine, milk, and red peppers at one point. Rock stars. Who’d have em…

Mac’s very own was sitting on the bed, strumming the guitar when he returned to the attic, playing the lilting melody from yesterday. The knowledge that the first song he’d ever heard Joe play had been inspired by Mac was far too gratifying for comfort. Both the knowledge itself, and the impact of said fact. Thank fuck for the tray, or that particular truth would’ve been all-too blatant. 

Mac now found himself cursing his own cussed refusal to familiarize himself with Joe’s back catalogue on the drive down. He had no idea how ‘his’ song compared, in stylistic terms, to those Joe had recorded and released. Having sold shed loads, it seemed likely that the record buying—oh f’fucksakes. Downloaders? Paying punters?  Music lovers, that would do…might revere a few likely suspects alongside him. One in particular. So they sure as hell couldnae hope to delight in a duet, or see them share a stage this lifetime. Suggesting Adele or Ariana as replacements to Joe’s fans would probably go down about as well as an apple martini rather than absinthe. 

Nevertheless, the melody that infiltrated Mac’s memory after one fleeting listen—now weaving its artful way around his heart—was world’s away from Wembley Arena. Its charms were far better suited to wreathing the air at Scarborough or Appleby Fair…or the Memory of a Free Festival, featuring pre-Hunky Dory Bowie and The Kinks. Love-child of Faithfull and Dylan, rather than Swift and Eminem. (Top selling f/m solo artists of the twenty-tens; courtesy of Mac’s recent search history).

It was the indefinable aura of bygone times he’d found so enchanting. As if he were being lulled by the whispers of wandering minstrels in cambric shirts following the clarion call of their muse… Okay, the Scarborough Fair nostalgia fest is getting out of hand. Mac would be in desperate need of a good dose of “London’s Calling” before stepping so much as a foot in that fair City.

“I’ve never seen a more splendorous sight slink through that door bearing bounty. Whatcha got?” Joe asked, neck like a periscope to peer over the edge of the tray. 

“Rum, water, crunchy-nutters and banana.” Mac reeled off, blanking the big ol’ beam his use of that sodding name inspired.

“Are you in cahoots with the vicar’s wife? She’s forever trying to fatten me up,” Joe snickered.

Never, in a long and inglorious career had that particular accusation been levelled Mac’s way.

“If I was, then I’d be shovelling steak and chips down you. I’m trying to keep you alive, despite your sterling efforts to the contrary. Drink this first…” he instructed, handing Joe a pint glass of water.

“Couldn’t you find a bucket?” Joe pouted, eyeing the water suspiciously. As if suspecting it might play host to a shoal of piranhas.

“That seemed counterproductive on the sick-encrusted front,” Mac noted with a nonchalant shrug. 

“Charmin’,” Joe huffed, pretending affront.

“Perhaps…but nonetheless probable.”  Mac’s poker-face had withstood somewhat sterner tests, thankfully.

After indulging himself in a long suffering sigh, Joe glugged the water as if drinking it for dare. Watching his Adam’s apple bobbing beneath ivory skin made the desire to sink his teeth into it as ridiculous as it was almost irresistible. But resist, Mac did. For now…

“There. It’s drunked. Aren’t you having something to eat?”

“I had a sandwich while you were away with the fairies. Here you go…eat these…” Mac handed him the bowl of bloody cereal, adding: “Then I’m done nagging… ”

“I don’t know why I’m putting up with all this bossy-boots business, y’know. Downright deviant of me, ’tis.” Joe grumbled.

“The latter I am prepared to believe. The former was a bare-faced lie,” Mac snorted.

“Just a titchy white one…” Joe conceded with an unabashed grin before turning his attention to his ‘trouble is they taste too good’ spoonful. A claim so clearly founded in fact, Adam had missed a trick in not slapping a contract with Kellogg’s on Joe’s table. A far less edifying fact? That first mouthful included a glee-inducing sliver of banana; proving that Mac’s potassium overload had rendered him delirious.

“I wasnae expecting your music to be so…melodic,” Mac found himself confessing as he lit a cigarette.

“You’d never heard it before?” Joe managed to ask, while pebble dashing himself in soggy cereal. “I’m glad. I thought it had become inescapable…”

“Not knowingly, at least,” Mac couldnae help but grin. “I only listen to dead musicians, according to Vince. I beg to differ, ‘though I don’t suppose Keith counts, being immortal, an’ all…but Dylan and Davies are very much with us.” 

“It was an era worth a wallow in forever though, so I don’t blame you one bit. Anyhoo, I’m doubly glad, cos you didn’t arrive thinking it was crap. Or worse…loved it. Then wound up gutted when you got here…” 

“I’d gleaned enough from Google to know that I’d rather make up my own mind, but that’s it. Sufficient to guess that the portaloo wasnae your finest moment…” Said loo almost won Mac’s poker-face war, it must be owned.

“I have no recollection of this incident. It was a complete fabrication…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” Joe declared with a lofty sniff. Then. “A bit like its floor…”

“Oh, give me strength. You. Are impossible,” Mac spluttered, dead-pan demeanour floored by a sucker punch. “Shut the fuck up and sing for chrissakes.”

“I’m not being difficult but…” Joe cackled with glee.

“Oh fuck off.” Mac grunted, snatching the dish out of his hand to dump it back on the tray.

“Cruel, that. Wafting fucks my way if you don’t intend following through. Cock tease.” 

“I thought you intended to play…” Mac pointed out.

“Am I singing for my supper now?” Joe asked with an irrepressible smirk that didnae detract in the slightest from the draught unleashed by his lashes.

“That sure beats the view from the other end of the telescope…” Mac sighed.

“I think I’d need to pilfer more rum than Jack Sparrow could polish off to fathom that…” The miscreant shot Mac a side-eye that suggested the recovery of his plot might require a compass. 

“Only one of us is being rewarded for my presence, Joe. In a much less worthy way.” Mac had aimed for wry…rueful at worst. Ballsed up both. Crap.

“If you’re shagging me for filthy lucre you should look into getting a better agent…” Joe plucked a string with a frown; erased by the incremental tweak of a tuning knob. Unless Mac’s hearing was too shot to shit to detect such subtleties, he couldnae detect a difference. Attunement, perhaps? Mac might be able to distinguish weapons by sound if there was an audible distinction, but Joe could probably identify the brand of bloody pin by the ting it made when dropped. This, while tossing off a quip so sharp it left Mac gaping in the wake of his own sour words.

Having cornered himself in an alley as dank as it was dark, Mac cut his losses. Distraction was about his best bet. It hadnae failed him yet. 

“I’d be prepared to stay for a packet of peanuts and a bottle of Irn Bru, so I got a damn good deal by my reckoning,” he shrugged. “You don’t have to sing it, if you’d rather not…” Mac threaded his fingers together and rotated his wrists to swing his arms skywards, arching his back to…knock the kinks out.

“That’s one helluva torture technique, Mr McBadass. Is m’supper off the table, if I don’t?” Joe bit down on his bottom lip, worrying at it while waiting for Mac’s response…which died in his throat when it dawned on him that Joe might just believe that being sent to bed without ‘supper’ was a possible—let alone probable—‘punishment’. 

Almost before Mac realised he was about to toss the set list to the wind, he’d grasped the neck of the guitar and hefted it out of the way. It landed on the floorboards with a discordant grunt of protest as Mac clasped a fistful of feathery hair and tugged Joe’s head up. To crush his mouth down on lips parted in wordless wonder and dart his tongue between them to claim what Mac couldnae forsake if he tried. 

Fuck…He’d never felt so craven in his goddamned life. Sing for his supper, for chrissakes? Mac could scarce keep his hands to himself even when Joe was unconscious. 

“Impossible…” Mac hissed, somewhat belatedly, smudging his mouth across Joe’s jaw. He seemed to be straddling Joe’s lap, although he wasnae sure when, or how, he’d got there.

Why the hell hadnae thought to whip his pants off first? A single layer of cotton that felt as thick as a slab of concrete when he tilted his hips, desperate for friction. Tongues tangling as hungrily as their hands clutched and hips writhed.

“I wouldnae give a shit if you never sang another word…” Mac muttered, eventually, at Joe’s ear. Then tugged on its lobe with tender-sharp teeth before fastening at his neck. 

“Mmmac…” Joe arched into it, clasping Mac’s nape, his meaning as clear as the mark that would be branded there long after they left for London. “Nor me, if it makes no neverminds…”  

“Easy to say…here, now…stripped of the warmth of spotlights…the adulation of thousands…”

“Mac…tell me what you want to hear. I’ve run out of ways to say the same thing…” 

Joe was right…their words were forever swirling in circles. Before whirling down the drain; neither believed nor negated. Banter flowing back and forth, doubling back, darting forwards, then retreating again. Like swordplay with tongues.

“And I might even believe you mean it,” Mac sighed, lifting his head. Fool that he was. Dooming himself to obsidian pools of liquid light, drowning deep, as dark as dread. “Here…now.” 

“But not in London, no matter what I say…” The distractions of the city were the surface scurf of the fears Mac could never express. Joe wouldnae want to hear them any more than Mac was willing to voice them. “And yet…I don’t want to go. You’re making me do it. Let me stay here, Mac. Stay with me. Just me. That’s what I want…but you won’t. You’ve promised Adam, and your boss…Vince? You’d never forgive yourself if you reneged on your word, or didn’t deliver what they’re expecting you to pull off. You’ve signed a contract…put your honour on the line. The one thing you’re less likely to surrender than your reputation. I haven’t got one worth saving…and everything I crave is here. Now tell me who’s got most to lose if I refuse to go.” 

Fuck. Mac blinked, staggered by the onslaught of Joe’s words and blindsided by brown.  Another means to an unfathomable end? A trap Mac had been too lust-drunk to notice until he’d lost the lot? Foiled, on all fronts. 

Crave. One word, salvaged from that torrent of truths. Prompting a flash of thought that scythed through them as the irrelevences they were.

“I cannae refute being called out as a cold-hearted bastard.” Mac stated, every word couched in icy calm. “So, you should, by rights, have won. But. Let’s say we did a deal…a staring competition, if you like…”

Midnight eyes widenedimprobable but trueagleam with intrigue. “All you need do is sit on a chair, one each, to decide whose truth stands. Yours, or mine. Based upon who folds first…now tell me you’d have a leg to stand on. How long before you’re crawling the fucking walls for that shit? Two hours…four at the absolute outside?

Joe’s inner flinch was so instinctive Mac felt it despite the determinedly blank stare boring holes in his head. “You know damn well that I could do four days with a canteen of water so…a bonus round seems fair. Playing to your specialist subject. One simple decision that makes the first result null and void. Six hours fix-free. Wide awake. Then choose one. Just one. No caveats or amendments. Smack…?” Mac held out an upturned palm“Or….”—raised his right, completing the set of scales as he added, “Shag. Me.” 

“Shag you?” Joe gaped. “But…y’said, ‘I don’t bottom ever’.”

“It’s a hypothetical choice,” Mac groaned.

“Well, it’s not a choice at all then, is it? It’s one hypothetical thing I can’t have, and one real thing I can have,” Joe huffed. Christ...it was like talking to a labyrinth. With landmines: “Does ‘I do not bottom’ mean: You never have or…you won’t bottom for me?”

“It means I won’t. Full stop,” Mac spat.

“That’s not what I asked. So full-stop-off,” Joe retorted. “You would’ve said straight out if you’d never had a cock up your arse…and we both know it. So shove that up your pipe, and y’might smoke the truth out.”

 

 

***

 

 

 

41 Joe

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t want to go…you’re making me do it. Let me stay here, Mac. Stay with me. Just me. That’s what I want…but you won’t.

 

Joe believed this with every fibre of his being as he said it; it was a mere echo of dreams he’d nurtured for a wee while. Of staying forever in his attic hideaway…as safe as those sacred hours of early morn that seemed to belong only to Joe. Writing, reading, playing…pottering about to his heart’s content. Contentment. The holy grail. Worth so much more than it was given credit for by those who sacrificed it at the altar of ‘happiness’.  Joe wasn’t quite as daft as he oft made out, to cut himself some slack. No one else had offered of late…until Mac. 

A belief that might well spring from stoned illusion—or batshit delusionJoe had to admit, if only to himself. Chances were he’d drive himself doolally in a week if he did stay. Shortly before he found himself crawling the walls and chatting to the teapot. 

It was comforting to wallow a while in his pipedreams though, because Joe was so, so weary of the fight. Dog-tired of being a product on a conveyor belt; churned out and swallowed up by the monster of his own making. Sometimes he was so bone-weary he could barely crawl out of bed…tramelled by too many forces making too many demands. Too many tainted dreams turned to dust. Sweet ’n’ sour sorrow that felt like failure. Scored into Joe’s skin as he paid the piper and danced the dance. Resenting them for snatching his soul away, even while trying to convince himself its integrity remained intact. Loathing that he let them. 

It was akin to being trapped in an ever-contracting circle of snakes, knowing he couldn’t escape any sooner than flee from himself. Or his relentless, unmanageable emotions. Too many, too messy, too much. Feelings Joe could express far better in rhythm and rhyme, when that felt allowed. Even welcome. A way to finally unleash them, without fear of censure. To give them form, let them flutter free. Free? It had felt that way at first. Now they just fed the monster, fuelling the flames of the inferno that raged around him. A despair Joe tried to douse with much the desperation he clung to the tatty remnants of his wide-eyed dreams. Like a broken child clinging to a comfort blanket on a bitter cold night.

A despair he turned on Mac now, utterly certain that his bad-ass had his own piper to pay. Joe knew that his words rang true. Saw guilty indignation glint in the green before Mac quelled it, with but a blink. Crikey…he was good. Joe couldn’t have managed it; his eyes shared his secrets with all and sundry no matter what he said. Ever more ludicrous lies rustled up on the spur of the moment to twist people up in words…trying to distract them from truths so easily accessible elsewhere.

“You’ve signed a contract…put your honour on the line. The one thing you’re less likely to surrender than your reputation. I haven’t got one worth saving…and everything I crave is here. Now tell me who’s got most to lose if I refuse to go…”

The truth Mac had demanded went down about as well as a cup of cold sick. As oft tended to be the case.

““I cannae refute being called out as a cold-hearted bastard.” Mac acknowledged, as if Joe had accused him of such fallacious twaddle. “So, you should, by rights, have won. But.”

Bummer. Why was there always a but? This honesty malarkey was getting a tad out of hand. Quite why folk set so much store upon it, Joe had no idea. It was a Pandora’s Box of horrors waiting to be unleashed upon the unwary. The truth never went well. Especially when you got coshed over the head with a corker.

 

tbc…

 

 

***

 

Wafflish

My Way 29

My Way

 

39 Joe

 

 

 

“Mac…?” Joe prised his lids apart and blinked a bit, trying to focus through the fuggy haze. His mouth felt as if it had been hoovered before being sanded dry. His nose belatedly noted that Mac was smoking, p’raps accounting for the misty wafts he was wreathed in. A fact that suited his bad-ass ambience so splendidly, he should, by rights, always come accompanied by his own cloud of dry ice. 

“Y’okay?” Mac smiled—if a smidge foggily—but there didn’t look to be thunder clouds brewing.

Joe had expected the bad-ass to still be cross about the bodge-a-bolt business. Unless he was saving it ’til Joe was less bleary of eye and foggy of thought. Ah well, even if he was miffy, or likely to be so at the drop of a syringe, he was still a sight to behold. Preferably a mite closer. Beside Joe. Inside him. There could be no finer way to wake up than that.

“Hmm…”

Despite the grogginess, Joe still felt strangely…content. P’raps because the world felt far, far away. It was tempting to pretend the future lived there too, when the present was so very vivid. As vibrant as bold splashes of oil on canvas, whereas everything else was but an impressionist watercolour, wrought in pastel hues.

Joe only knew Mac here, now, in this context. ‘They’ only existed in his attic haven. A little kingdom in the clouds where the rest of Joe’s life had never intruded. Infecting it. Not even the looming fear of faceless hands and endless demands could reach him here. 

The former were infinitely preferable and cared much more than Joe deserved. The latter deserved less than they cared a toss, for ought but facts ’n’ figures, bums on seats and sodding schedules. How Joe despised that word: it came complete with a rancid stench and tasted acrid on his tongue. 

No one had ever mentioned that his entire self, not just his career, would be controlled by everyone else. He loved the ‘show’ part but loathed the ‘business’ bit. Detested the politicking palaver and bean-counter bastards who couldn’t give a monkey’s about melody and rhyme. Joe’s preference for Show Business in absentia had come with a cost he hadn’t anticipated. He’d assumed that paying them to take care of stuff would mean he’d be left in peace to write and play. What transpired instead? Joe wound up employing them to get pissed off. A lot. With Joe. Coulda woulda shoulda…

He wasn’t even sure whose interests Adam beavered on behalf of, anymore. He knew that his manager was stuck in the uncomfy position of playing Middle Man, but ‘trying to keep everyone happy’ had somehow morphed into keeping the suits off his back. Adam’s back that is, not Joe’s. It felt a helluva lot as if Adam spent most of his time paying Joe lip service…while wrangling him into fulfilling bookings he could scarce believe he’d agreed to.

A stadium tour? Joe liked playing quirky venues and majestic old theatres. Somewhere with atmosphere, steeped in the magic of gigs gone by. Not cattle sheds cum aircraft hangers. A minor detail that didn’t seem to matter a jot…as long as the gravy train went tootling on its merry way. Just because Joe could fill stadiums didn’t mean he cared to. He would rather play five intimate gigs on consecutive nights in the same town, than one huge show to faceless thousands. That didn’t make ‘economic sense’. Apparently. It sure as shit-shows made sense to Joe. 

Mac had his back. He would keep Joe safe. He’d promised. Weirdly, Joe believed him. Or, believed that he’d do his damndest to try. Somehow sure that if it was possible, Mac would make it happen, whatever the bad-ass set his mind on. He was far too cussed to accept ‘can’t’. A word Joe heard all too often…whenever he expressed his own wishes. Or wanted to do stuff spontaneously, which freaked everyone the fuck out. 

“Smoke?” Mac asked, tossing the packet onto the bed. When the lighter whizzed toward him in its wake, Joe popped a cig between his lips and lit it, before inhaling that first lovely lungful and blowing the smoke ceilingward.

“Thank you for putting me to bed…and tucking me up. It was…” Kind of you? Generous? Gallant?  Rustling up the wrong reason would be unbearable. P’raps Mac had simply wanted to sit down and Joe had parked himself in the only chair before conking out.

“S’okay. You would’ve wound up with a crick neck…” Mac’s gruff mutter suggested he’d done nothing of note. Nothing special…which was far from the truth he insisted on. 

“Did we move house, in the interim?” Joe wondered, struck by the realisation that there was a very lot amiss. Underfoot. Joe’s stuff, specifically.

“One of us was going to fall flat on our arse surfing magazine covers,” Mac chuckled.

“Thank you…I keep saying that. Mac, why are you being so…kind? When I keep being a big trouble.”

Kind? An hour ago I damn near dislocated your shoulder and castrated you. I dread to think how uncouth your customary company is…” 

“Pft. You are the most cussed critter on Earth. You won’t even be thanked without wheeling out the flinty glint and arguing the toss about it.” Joe informed him through eyes narrowed to a squinty stare.

“Flinty glint?” Enquired he, spearing Joe with a topnotch special.

The bad-ass hadn’t batted an eyelid about being called a cussed critter. Then took issue with a far less impertinent phrase. Incomprehensible, he was. Unless. Joe flicked his gaze to the floor, which seemed much more…roomy than it had been a wee while ago. So much so…even the chair had a dearth of debris scattered around it. Aside from several skyscraper piles of stuff standing to attention against the window wall and the furniture itself…? The floor hosted but five things: the bad-ass feet, one plate, a bottle of whisky…and Joe’s journal. Open with a pen atop it, which was p’raps how Joe left it…yesterday? He’d never been precious about his own words…but that particular poem? Read by Mac? The bad-ass possibly wished he hadn’t. Found himself saddled with a mooning-in-June junkie nutjob.

That flinty glint, agleam with mean…

Was supposed to be keeping Joe out of trouble…not inspiring gushing tributes to its lethal sheen. Oh help. Flinging himself out of the window was starting to seem a fine way to spend the evening. Starting asap. Rather than face the fact that Mac had seen far too many truths for comfort. Knew he’d inspired a (not-at-all obsessive, plinths aside) tribute to his eyeballs. Um, it could’ve been one less syllable worse? A truth Mac mightnae be all that thankful for. Oddly nuff.

In Joe’s own defence? No one as sexy-as-fuck as Mac could reach his mid-thirties(?) without receiving rave reviews aplenty.

“I..um…are you miffed with me?” Joe cringed, scrunching one of his eyes shut as a precautionary measure. See…? He did have a sense of self-preservation, no matter what folk might opine to the contrary. Having never met Mac.

“Miffed?” The bad-ass shot Joe a side-eye…quite at odds with the wicked twerk of his lips.  

Even his features argued with themselves. Mac’s brows clearly snarked: ‘what the fuck d’you think!?’ But the sin in that smirk was as divine as it was devilish.

“With me, for writing it…”

“Joe…” Mac gripped the armrests of the chair and pushed himself to his feet before prowling Joe’s way. “Why might I be ‘miffed’?” he asked, crooking a knee to perch on the edge of the bed.

“Cos I’ve…appropriated your person. Or, you found it intrusive? Or…it made you uncomfy, when this is just—” Oh fuckfucketyfuck. Just…a shag for you? Just a job with a side-order of sex?

The words clumped in Joe’s throat like coal tar and refused to budge. He couldn’t moot those when they’d almost force Mac to say outright what Joe didn’t want to know. He wanted to cling to his hopes like the lifeline they were and let himself pretend, for just a little longer, that Mac might feel something for Joe. Not just as a shag. Or worse, Joe Fitzgerald

‘Cos I give a shit’… 

“’Intrusive’ is reading someone’s notebook without permission, surely?” Mac’s c’est la vie shrug was followed by: “I didnae mean to. I put it to one side, on the chair, because it was open with the pen on top, so I assumed it was your current one. Then sat on it.”

His fringe was obscuring the green and his gaze was boring holes in the bedcover, which made it tricky to tell, but his ever confounding bad-ass looked a bit rosy of cheek. Crikey. 

It was Joe who should be purple, or a charming shade of puce, in the shame-stakes. A spot of lyric perusing wasn’t a patch on the secret glee that thrilled through Joe’s veins upon finding that the baddest of all asses had sat itself down on his journal.

“When I extracted it…the title leapt off the page, and I couldnae help but be…curious.”

Curious!? If Joe had happened upon his own name, written by Mac, a herd of wildebeests couldn’t have kept him from it.

“S’okay, I don’t mind…you can read anything you want. Although you probably wished you hadn’t,” Joe sighed, kneading at his forehead with the heel of his hand. It was still a mite muzzy and reluctant to spring to his rescue. Or ‘spring’ anywhere at all, in truth (still the dish o’the day, no doubt).

“Why would I wish I hadnae read it? You might’ve taken such poetic liberties that I figured you must know another Mac…but I’d be a bloody idiot if I wasnae flattered,” the bad-ass grinned.

Okay…had the bad-ass been helping himself to Joe’s stash as well as his words? He really wasn’t making a jot o’sense.

Poetic liberties? Are you bladdered?”

“I am not bladdered. I may have had a tipple or two, but I’m sober enough to recognise myself in the mirror, thank you very much.”

Okay…he’d definitely snuffled something. Or two days with Joe had sent him nuts, bolts ‘n’ barking bonkers.

“D’you want me to destroy it? I won’t finish it, if you’d rather I didn’t,” Joe offered. If Mac thought the first verse had taken liberties with his reflection, he’d prob’ly think the rest belonged in the Hall of Mirrors.

“No…I want you to play it for me, if you will.” Mac mumbled from beneath his fall of fringe.

Play it? Mac wants to hear it? Well, duh.

“Really? Are you sure, it’s very rough? I’d better have a drink first, I can barely swallow.”

“Very. D’you want a cuppa, or something stronger? A glass of water, or three, would be a bloody good idea.”

“I’m not drinking three! One. And some rum. What time is it, Mac? It’s nearly dark now.”

“Getting on for nine…? We didn’t go to bed until what, nine a.m? Then slept till five…”

“I’ll never forget the next hour or so, but it goes a wee bit wafty after that,” Joe admitted.

“Speaking of fixes…can you factor in that we’ll need to leave for London by noon tomorrow? I’d rather not try to cram you in the car unconscious if I can avoid it. It would be like trying to pack a stuffed giraffe into a snuff box.” Mac rolled his eyes skyward, lips twitching with their wicked twerk.

“Okay… Joe grinned. That sounded far too fun to miss out on, which he would. 

Life sucks…then you die. And don’t even get to attend your own tribute. 

“Mac, will you just tell me what I must do one-by-one and then I can’t fret about the next thing before I do the first. I get in a panic if it’s all looming in a lump. It feels like staring up at a cliff and knowing I’ll never scale it…and that everyone’s waiting for me to fail.”

“Okay, no worries. That works for me if it seems less daunting to you Tomorrow is just rehearsal time booked with your band, that’s not a looming horror, surely?”

“No, not really. Well, it didn’t used to be, but this last year or so…I’m convinced that everyone expects me to fuck up, which makes me anxious…and then I get late…which means they’re all pissed off by the time I do turn up. Then things get tetchy, which makes me so uncomfy I…p’raps get a bit stroppy and stomp off…” Joe broke off, scrunching his eyes tight against the wave of bitter words that crashed through his head like a salt water into a seeping sore.

“The studio is booked for four p.m,” Mac told him, clasping Joe’s chin to impale him with conviction. “We will be there, so no-one will be pissed off. Just bloody grateful they haven’t been left twiddling their thumbs for…three…?” The bad-ass paused, lips pursed with an impudence that was just plain rude. Scoundrel.

Joe cringed into his shoulders a smidge.

“Four…six hours?” Mac amended, with eyebrows that kept pace with his counting up prowess. “Christ. All you’ll need worry about is your band dying of shock, when you saunter in on time. We’ll leave at twelve. Two hours on the road, traffic permitting. The hotel is booked, which gives us two hours to…settle in.”

“Is that p’raps a euphemism?” Joe couldn’t resist asking. It was not his fault, it was the glint that did it. Full gleam bright with bad-ass intent. “You are a wily ol’ cove, y’scoundrel. What you’re actually saying is: if we set off late for London, there won’t be time for hotel sex before I have to go to rehearsals. So I’ll have to wait for bloomin’ hours, cos you won’t shag me if I should be at the studio, instead.” Blackguardy bad-ass.

“I have no recollection of uttering a word of that…” Mac smirked. With a wink. 

Oooh. Ev-il.

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 28

My Way

 

 

 

37 Joe

 

 

 

 

“Smoke…or smack?” Whispered words pitched so low, they were too alluring to resist.

It seemed to be a choice. Joe was certain it was a challenge. It had become blatantly obvious that every time the bad-ass offered him a selection box of treats? One was a trap. Door slamming shut.

Mac might present it as a free choice, but Joe knew damn well that if he plumped for shooting up, it would be akin to shooting himself somewhat north of his foot. If he chose ‘smoke’ now, then he’d leaped all the landmines placed in his path—only one option would remainwouldn’t it? It was not as if the bad-ass had asked Joe to choose between doing the hoovering or hoovering up a line. A post-coital smoke with Mac was (in theory) a far more tempting prospect to sitting on his tod having a poke about, trying to find a functioning vein to fuck up.

Joe could bear the cramping for a few more minutes, if relief was on its way. Delayed gratification, rather than deprivation. A helluva lot different from being denied it—or even a ‘why is the smack always gone?’ situation—but Mac hadn’t and it wasn’t.

Joe was Making A Choice; easier to endure when he’d not been denied that liberty with the decision taken for him. That reeked of rehab. Mac was a wily ol’ wolf in sharp tailoring, t’be sure… Had anyone else attempted such wool pulling shenanigans, Joe would’ve given the sheep the slip and scarpered. But sabotaging the good ship Mac would sink all Joe’s future prospects faster than y’could say Titanic. Bummer.

“Smoke…” Joe rustled up a serene smile; for all the world as if that wasn’t the most perilous option on offer. Smack couldnae hold a candle to Mac on the lethal front.

The cosh of cold air was as brutal as the loss that beset Joe’s bum when Mac slipped from his body. After grabbing his discarded pants from beside the bed, the bad-ass mopped himself up a bit, passed them to Joe, and reached for the cigs on the cabinet. Joe gave himself a swipe and turned around to plonk down beside Mac, who lit a cigarette and held it out, filter first for Joe to take with his mouth before lighting his own. An act of gallantry every bit as confounding as the fact that the bad-ass, meanest mo-fo on the planet, blew out a languid stream of smoke with all the lofty allure of Lauren Bacall. As was his wont. 

Joe’s inner grin was vanquished mere minutes later by the shaft of pain that shot down his legs. He’d been doing his damnedest to ignore his griping guts, but the new agony felt like steel-jaw traps clamped to his thighs. His system was quite done craving what it required more than its next breath, clearly.

“Mac, I can’t stand it anymore—” Joe’s voice cracked when another stab of cramp grabbed his guts in a cruel fist and gave them a vicious twist.

“How I hate that this owns you.” The muscle in Mac’s cheek ticked ominously, but he remained true to his word. “’Kay…I’ll leave you to it and head off for a shower,” he sighed, stubbing out his cig before swinging his legs over the side of the bed. “I didnae expect you to hold out so long…” he acknowledged with a wry twerk of lips. “But don’t overdo it to compensate, f’chrissakes…”

“Mac..?” Joe asked, hating the hesitancy in his own voice. It made him sound as small and crumpled as he felt, but he had to ask, needed to know. Mac’s first words were too startling to let lie.

“Yeah?” He glanced over his shoulder, raising an enquiring eyebrow that might’ve seemed snarky, if not for the smudginess of the green. Softer, sans flinty glint.

“Why does that matter?” Joe wondered. Aloud. Loon.

“Because I give a shit. That’s why.” Mac muttered, before springing up to stalk off with nary another word.

 

***

 

38 Mac

 

Because I give a shit. That’s why…

F’fucksakes.

You’ve got me…

Oh, if only you knew…

 

If Mac couldnae keep his goddamn mouth shut, Joe sure as hell would. Know.

‘Because I give a shit’ was at least preferable to: I’m scared shitless of falling for you…but that was scant consolation. 

While Mac was on a roll? He might as well add: Worse still…I’m terrified that you’re going to steal yourself away. And even if—by some miracle—you manage to survive you? That you’ll be whittled to an empty shell of all you were, those inimitable eyes as barren, bereft, as a soul stripped to naked need.

He may have muttered something about fearing that Joe would wind up a twisted parody of himself while stomping from the room, but hopefully not loud enough to hear. Mac flicked off the shower and scraped his fingers through his hair before grabbing a towel. What the hell would greet him when he walked through that door? He’d been ten minutes, tops. It took far fewer than that to die.

Mac was buggered. In every way except that one. Surely he could keep a grip on something? He had fuck all else left in his Bergen. How the mighty have fallen. Thirty hours with who the fuck is Joe Fitzerald and Mac was clinging to the fact his arse remained unconquered territory. 

*

“F’chrissakes! What the?!” Mac stormed over to Joe and grasped his wrist to yank the arm out of harm’s way. “Drop it.” He spat, pressing back until Joe’s shoulder joint protested when the miscreant just stared, mute, at Mac.

“No,” Joe growled, through gritted teeth.

“Joe…” Mac warned, forcing a deadly calm into his voice as he nudged the arm back an increment. Joe was sitting in his chair, a tie dangling from his right elbow, the crook of which was botched to fuck with a sodding great crater glistening scarlet in the light.

“OOWW!” Joe hollered. Egregiously.

“It does not hurt that much.” Mac stated. As fact.

“It’s my arm!” he huffed. “I know!”

“It doesn’t hurt half as much as that sodding eyesore, and y’know it,” Mac snarled.

“Well, it wasn’t going to hurt for long, was it!? Mac, give me back my arm, I’m not dropping it! OOOOOW!”

“Drop it. Or I’ll clench my fist. Hard.” 

“Not FAIR! PFFFT.” Joe sulked, letting  the syringe clatter to the floorboards.

Mac relaxed his fingers until they were merely cradling Joe’s balls.

“Oohh…”

“You are impossible. Christ, c’mere…” Mac clasped his dandelion head, tugging it to his bare chest. He’d only donned pants after his shower, having neglected to take any clean gear with him.

“I couldn’t find a vein! I didn’t do it on purpose…it’s frustrating.” Joe whimpered, allowing his body to sag against Mac. “I’m hurting…”

“I know…just calm down. It was useless poking away at…that, it looks like the goddamn Grand Canyon. I’ll need to clean it up, you’re bleeding,” he sighed, stroking Joe’s sweaty fringe back before bending to press a kiss to the top of his head. Mac inhaled, long and slow, breathing him in, then forced himself to pull free and scoop up the dropped syringe. “Y’can have it back in a minute, but you’ll need a fresh needle. I want to get that cleaned up first, or it’ll go septic.”

“Mac…what did you mean before?” It would be easier to withstand waterboarding than those eyes, Mac was sure of it.

“When?” he asked, too casually, rooting around for antiseptic and gauze in the first aid box he’d brought. 

“Why d’you give a shit if I wind up a parody of m’self…that’s what you said, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah. Why? Because you’re worth more than that.” Mac muttered, tearing open a packet of sterile wipes with his teeth before tugging the tie loose to dab gingerly at the gaping wound.

Oooft… I’m not.”

“Sorry. It’s a…mess. Yes, you are.” When he’d done swabbing it down, Mac squeezed a dollop of cream into the crater, which was about the size of a five pence piece.

“Ooh..”

“Are you this bad at the doctors? Five year olds make less fuss than you,” Mac snorted.

“I’m suff’rin…everything hurts more!” 

“Pft…a likely story. Bet you’re always the same.”

“Shurrup. I’m not good at being a patient.”

“Or at being patient either, if the state of your arm is indicative. It looks as if you’ve been bodging it with a bloody bolt. There. Now leave that alone for a few days, f’fucksakes,” Mac instructed, slapping some adhesive gauze on top and smoothing the edges down.

“You are the hottest nurse I ever had, that’s for sure.”

“I’ll give you bloody ‘nurse’, y’monster. Find a clean needle, then you can have the syringe back.”

“You’re very bossy,” Joe grumbled, levering himself from the chair.

Christ…was Mac ever going to get accustomed to the sight of Joe unfolding himself to full height? It wasnae just the sheer length of his limbs, it was their inelegant grace. Rendering each movement a mesmerizing contradiction in terms.

“You like it,” Mac tossed over his shoulder, bending to scoop up the debris.

“Only cos it’s you…” Joe huffed, foraging for a clean needle. “Can I have the syringe back now?” 

“No.”

“Are you going to do it!?” Joe looked staggered, as well he might.

“No, I’m bloody not. Nor will I ever shoot that shit into your body. I havenae binned the needle yet. Here. Now don’t keep poking away from every angle or I’ll throw the fuck up.”

“You’re stayin’?”

“I havenae much choice in the matter,” Mac grunted.

“Thank you,” Joe murmured, examining his left arm intently before tying its forearm off. The scarring was worse on this one—but older—pitted with healed-over craters and livid splotches.

“How many times a day are you shooting up?” Mac asked, attempting to sound conversational, rather than accusatory.

“Three…four? Ish. Okayy…” Joe blew out a breath when blood clouded the chamber, then pressed the plunger with a sigh of such utter, heartfelt relief, Mac’s throat clenched around what felt like glass shards. A smile smeared itself across Joe’s face as he flopped back in his seat, letting his head loll to one side. The syringe fell forgotten to the floor.

After scooping Joe’s limp, horribly lifeless body from the chair, Mac carried him over to the bed and lowered him onto it before arranging him on his side.  Fankyou…” He was semi-conscious this time, at least. But all skin and bone; the former so pale it was bleached to much the same shade as the latter. He looked like his own corpse. 

The fact Joe also looked peaceful in that state was almost worse. 

His lifeforce was so vivid, vibrant, the contrast was an agony in itself. With a heavy sigh, Mac dragged the duvet over Joe’s nakedness and headed down to the kitchen to pour a stiff drink and rustle up something to eat. He’d no sooner downed his first shot than started fretting about leaving Joe alone, so Mac cobbled together some banana sandwiches, grabbed the whisky bottle and hurried back upstairs.

*

After polishing off his butties and washing them down with whisky, Mac lit a cigarette and sat in Joe’s chair, trying to make some sense of the last two days. Staring at Joe’s recumbent form sure didn’t help matters. Mac just wound up watching the gentle rise and fall of the duvet, far too slow for comfort.

Realizing that insanity beckoned if he sat monitoring Joe’s respiratory rate, Mac pushed himself up and gathered the detritus to bin it. Collecting up some of the crap littering the floor seemed about the only thing Mac could ‘sort’ any time soon, so he focussed on that, rather than losing his mind. After making a satisfying tower of cd cases and stack of vinyl, he started piling up the bomb blast of hardbacks, paperbacks, and notebooks.

Fuck…does he read all of this? If Mac hadnae spent the last thirty-odd hours with Joe, it would be impossible to reconcile ‘Junkie Joe’ with the softly spoken, hypersensitive reality. A man who devoured Camus…Baudelaire…Wilde…Dickinson…Dostoevsky… 

Even the bog-standard paperbacks had been penned by the likes of Orwell, Woolf, and Forster. Notebooks…dozens of them, stained, tattered and overflowing with fucknows what. The one closest to the chair was lying open with a pen dropped on top, so Mac placed it on the seat, figuring it was the most current.

There. Five perfect piles, which would no doubt be demolished by an unwieldy limb…or sent crashing to the floor when one was tugged from the bottom. Oh well, it was done…and satisfied Mac’s sense of order. At least he could walk across the room without going fucking flying.

Time for another drink and a smoke. Wasn’t it always.

After parking his arse on the chair, Mac tipped the bottle to his lips for a swift slug, then raised his thigh to retrieve the notebook he’d just sat on. It had been left open at what appeared to be the start of some lyrics or a poem but Mac wasnae about to read them when that seemed intrusive. Until the first word all-but leapt off the page and stabbed him in the eyeballs, so he could hardly not see it. Or read it for that matter.

Fuck. Mac blinked, but the words remained the same. Scrawled in an almost illegible, spidery hand. Did Joe still mourn the loss of another Mac? It wasnae a rare nickname. There must be a million Macs knocking about south of the border. As suppositions went? That one was too preposterous for even Mac to believe, and he’d mooted it. It was—quite clearly—a work in progress.

Mac

O those eyes of tourmaline green

That flinty glint, agleam with mean

Glimmering with a lethal sheen

Dangerous with dark desire

Tempered rage and deadly ire,

Ablaze with lust and bad-ass fire… 

It sort of fit Mac. If you squinted a bit. Through a haze of opiates. His eyes didnae do that though, did they? He’d need a mirror to discern as much; a notion that suggested he may have necked rather too much whisky. Both before and after eating the sum total of two bananas and a few slices of bread since fuck knows when.

Okay…enough. Joe spent his life stoned, which meant Mac would be best advised to stamp down the smug before his head swelled. Joe was just taking (far too forgiving) liberties with poetic license. Much as they stretched credulity, it was hard not to feel…flattered that Joe found the raw material worth expending precious words on. A fact that assured they couldnae be about Kyle McCafferty, at all.

“Mac..?”

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 27

My Way

36 Joe

 

 

 

I do not bottom, Joe. Ever. I do not bottom…Ever.Ever.Ever.Ever…

 

Bugger. Or not. Ever.

Never-ever was a very long time—unless Joe popped his clogs o’course—in which case, it might be sooner rather than later. A lot less longer to hope that never-ever meant definitely-maybe…

Thus, it was a waste of the time Joe did have left to fret about that. Tick-tock. Time was a tricksy devil. It could lull you into a false sense of security just as fast as it could smash your dreams to smithereens.

All hope is lost? Tended to be a question of tense…

Present: I do not bottom ever—is a helluva lot different from—Past: I have not bottomed ever.

And altogether different from: I will not bottom ever… 

A flicker of future possibility Joe snuffed out. For now. In the meantime? The present was a gift, not to be sniffed at. Mac slinked over to the bed and snagged the lube off the cabinet. That glinty gaze skimming the L shape formed by Joe’s body—as if he were trying to decide which bit to scoff first—while slicking up. Watching the deft sweep of Mac’s fingers was second only to watching plush lips trawl the length of Joe’s cock. By the time Mac had clambered up and nudged Joe’s legs further astride with first his left, then right knee, Joe was strung tight enough to shatter.

He had no idea what dastardly design the scoundrel might embark on…but it wasn’t a feathery tongue of flame skimming across Joe’s shoulders. The fizzle of cooling flesh should’ve been audible when Mac retraced its trip with a blazing breeze of cool breath blown across damp skin.

“So responsive…” he murmured, pressing plush lips to Joe’s nape as shiversome fingertips traced the rails of his ribs.

“Mac…” His name whoosed out as if Joe had been holding his breath. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had touched him this way, when he’d grown accustomed to grappling hook hands and grasping fingers that clawed his flesh, scoring half-moon scars. Clutching too tight, leaving livid bruises in their wake; a snatch ‘n’ grab that left Joe feeling bereft. So alone…he’d slip off to seedy haunts, seeking higher highs to feed a need that couldn’t be sated. A thirst impossible to slake…when he hadn’t known what he sought. A lie Joe had clung to for comfort, rather than face a future too bleak to bear. The death of divine idylle.

“Mac…” Joe begged, his voice breaking on something like a sob after enduring the searing slalom of Mac’s tongue down his spine. The scoundrel paid no heed, just ratcheted the knot of need even tighter when he paused to dapple at Joe’s coccyx. “Pleease…

“Joe…” The bad-ass was abruptly cleaved to Joe’s back, reaching round to cup his jaw and steer his face toward Mac. It was with a muttered expletive that he mashed his mouth to Joe’s, a smidge off-centre in a messy smear of moist warmth before claiming conquered territory.  Releasing Joe’s jaw, Mac splayed his palm across Joe’s chest and cupped his balls with the other. Cradling them with an aching tenderness made all the more stark by the plundering intensity of his kisses.

“Mac…take me,” Joe gasped, tugging on Mac’s lower lip with his teeth. “Now. Please…” Too impatient to wait, he arched his back in a bid to make matters more…snug.  

“Joe…no—”

“Yesss…”

“But—” 

You…” Joe pleaded.

No.” Mac yanked his head back to spear Joe with a glint so flinty it was flammable.  “You are not using me as another form of self abuse,” he growled, locating the knot of gnawing need and thrusting a slick finger into Joe’s body.

“Ah…more,” Joe gasped, pushing onto it. “I wasn’t…just-wanted you.”

“You’ve got me,” Mac snarled, swivelling that deranging digit. It had no sooner eased back than plunged forth, alongside a second to scissor with the first. His lips were but a breath away, too tempting to resist, so Joe released the bedstead to clutch buzz-cut hair and meld their mouths once more. A heady duel of tongues; abrupted when the bad-ass brushed that brain-boggling spot and Joe’s head snapped back with a “MAC!”

Now you can have more…” he rasped, tugging his fingers free about a shiver of anticipation before Joe felt the blunt press his whole self craved.

“Ahhh!” Joe gasped when Mac buried himself hilt deep in one sharp snap of hips. Stilled. A sudden silence, as sharp as the stretch. The blissful burn of pleasure pain, scarlet bright behind Joe’s lids as he released a raggedy breath. “’Kay…”

The next wee while eclipsed words. Even if Joe spent forever weaving them in tapestries of sound. He’d never be able to nail it, never encapsulate such all-consuming fullness…or the scintillating sweep of Mac’s spine, thrusting harder, faster, deeper. Slowing right down, just to drive Joe demented. He was sure of it, relished it, forgot the terms, demanded more. Got it…and how. Jack-hammer hips and snatched off cries, bliss blazing through Joe’s veins like wildfire, razing all reason to ashes. 

Promising him the more that spawned untold moons-in-June; as if he might conjure it with rhythm and rhyme. That elusive something he’d known must hover just out of reach, ever withheld, no matter who, what, how, where Joe sought it. That mythical more, taunting him with its absence. Goading Joe to seek another source, rather than mourn the loss of something he’d never had—might never know—if it was unknowable. As unattainable as talking to animals or gliding on the breeze like a wingless bird. Flights of fancy beyond his reach in the real world; a comparison too cruel to tolerate. Clean. 

“Mac…” Joe sighed when a forearm clamped across his body like a satchel strap, cleaving them closer still. Fingertips resting at his right shoulder, Mac’s elbow level with Joe’s bottom rib. More fragile than the rest, as fragile as Joe felt in Mac’s steely embrace…and yet, safer. In more danger than he’d ever been. 

Mac answered with his lips, crushing them to Joe’s before snatching them back alongside his hips. Then the bad-ass—as if hell-bent on putting himself to shame—began to build a blistering pace, surging with greater urgency. Short, sharp snaps that pounded Joe’s prostate until he was juddering wreck, clinging on by the skin of his teeth. After sliding his diagonal arm down to circle Joe’s waist, Mac tightened it to grind himself deeper still. The slick press of his chest at Joe’s back was a wall of hard heat, the only solid thing in his buttery-boned world. 

“Fuck…” Mac gasped, cutting short a guttural groan. “Joe…”

“Yesss…” Joe could scarce hold on. In a white-knuckle-tight to the bedstead sort of way. His cock was so desperate for friction, it felt like a silent scream. The sheer relief of being enclosed in firm fingers almost finished Joe off before the tattoo intensity of Mac’s hips could stake their claim. With incomparable aplomb, as inimitable as…him. Joe was done for. The damn burst, unleashing wave after wave of blinding bliss, spilling from his body in a white-hot rush. Only then, did Mac fire off a final shuddering thrust, triggering a chains-across-cobbles-Joorr as pulsing warmth flooded Joe’s insides.

The sudden stillness shrieked with the weight of words unsaid. As sacred as the silence in church when please be seated scuffles cease. Mac blew out a breath like the ruffle of turning pages before pressing his lips into the curve of Joe’s neck.

“Thank you…” That popped out unbidden, more hiccup than word.

“For what?” Mac asked, raising his head to tilt it in a wondering sort of way. 

“For…” Oh bugger. “…refusing.”

The reason he’d given for that, rather than the prepping Mac had insisted on.

Oh, if only you knew…” 

“Knew what?” Joe chuckled. The bad-ass had adopted the drum-roll timbre of Movie-Trailer-Man. 

Can The Rock obliterate a terrorist enclave with naught but a twinkly grin and bulging jockstrap? Will he triumph across the most treacherous terrains on Earth and still make it home in time to read his kids a bedtime story? Find out next week in the new nail-gnawing, sweat-glistening blockbuster of thrills, spills, and glutes t’die for: Between The Rock and a Hard Place. Coming soon to a cinema near you…

Mac had imparted more tantalizing gravitas in five words than Movie-Trailer-Man had managed to muster in a thirty-second spot. Lightweight.

“How impossible it—” Mac broke off with a frown before finishing: “—You are.” 

“I have the meanest mo-fo on the planet to keep me out o’mischief tho…” Joe sighed, too sex-soused to rustle up the rest of his five star review.

“What’re you after?” A query so arch, it suggested that Mac was forced to suffer all sorts of shady shenanigans. How rude.

“Nuffin…” Blimey, the telling truth malarkey had got way out of hand.

If he didn’t keep a very beady eye on the bad-ass, Joe was in grave danger of finding himself turning up for stuff—on the right day—before he knew what had hit him. Let alone had chance to scupper such pesky Machiavellian plottings.

Pah. If the scoundrel thought Joe was going down witho— Dang. Hoisted by his own petard. Again. 

 

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 26

Hi…

Thank you for being here and for your support. Here are the next two parts…

 

 

My Way

34 Joe

 

 

 

 

“Gnrrr…”

Hmm…at last. He waketh. Joe had managed to doze off, eventually, lulled by Mac’s soft snuffs of breath at his back. As safe as safe can be, encircled by strong, sure arms. A haven that felt far too much like the finishing flourish Joe’s hideaway needed…to make it a home. A new hatstand would’ve been a much better bet. Particularly at the rate Joe kept promising to scoff them. 

*

Sung as the hug of a drug haze

Lazy days, lost ways

A last past the post maze

 

Of nowhere fast.

Nowhere man. With a no hope plan

Tattered, torn, lost, forlorn

What a blast

 

Its been.

The future is green.   

 

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

 

CH:

Pipe dreams in the sky dreams

A lost boy left behind beams

Safe on shore

Lost no more

Mon amour

Dur à cuire…

 

*** 

 

Joe’s mind—despite its opium ’n’ orgasm extravaganza—wasn’t the slightest inclined to while away a few hours in sated splendour. Instead, it was fizzing about in a rearranging the furniture frenzy. Shoving stuff aside to make room for a spot-lit Mac centre stage; burnished bronze with a crown of thorny-lights. P’raps on a plinth. That last bit was possibly a smidge excessive, but moderation had never been Joe’s very best thing and he was far too busy to learn. Plinths don’t build themselves. 

Nevertheless…snooze he did. Eventually. For a wee while…before waking with a bit of a start. Heaven knows what that meant, but it must be a thing, so Joe went with it. Where was he? Waking with a start…that was it: the fortunate consequence of a fidget. Mac’s. It was p’raps an absence of warm weight that woke Joe when Mac’s arm slid away as he turned over. It was daytime, o’course, and they hadn’t bothered getting into bed, beneath the covers. So, when Joe—struck by the sense of something missing—peered a mite blearily over his shoulder, his eyes popped open pretty sharpish upon being treated to a sight to behold.

After that, Joe’s lids were less inclined to shut up shop than stick pins in themselves. So, he turned over to face Mac’s back and lay, admiring its intricate play of muscle and bone…the sublime sweep of his spine… All gift-wrapped in skin like runny honey. Sleep seemed the least interesting thing on the planet at that point, which was an excellent thing indeed, when Joe would’ve been much miffed to miss the next part. 

He hadn’t curved himself around Mac, spoon-style, while admiring the scenery but the slumbering bad-ass had better plans, it seemed. Whether these unfolded as a result of a fidget too far, or Mac’s body was drawn to the heat of Joe’s, he knew notand cared lesswhen Mac shifted enough that sleep-warm skin sizzled his own. That’s how it felt. Bzzzzt. Joe did attempt to hold his hips at bay. His cock was just brushing the bubblicious butt, not wedged in happy valley. That was all Mac. Typical.

Joe was all geared up to accept his medal for services to bad-ass-kind…when that very blighter all-but robbed him blind. If it hadn’t been for the tighty-whiteys, matters might have got a smidge sticky. Joe was so wound up with nowhere t’go he was coiled like a steel spring about to sproing. A splendid onomatopoeia, if e’er there was one. Joe could barely breathe, even before Mac snuggled closer. The kind of close that left Joe’s so-oven-ready-it-was-radioactive boner doing a fine impression of a frankfurter lucky enough to be nestled in the very best of buns. 

Mac’s subconscious self sure didnae seem to mind where it was parked…least of all his spine, if its arching antics could be considered indicative. It was impossible to keep still after that. Only rigor mortis could have held Joe’s body as rigid as his cock. Trying not to twitch was a tad similar to attaining stasis on a bouncy castle.

It was a raspy rumble in Mac’s throat that alerted Joe to the fact the bad-ass was emerging from slumber. He didn’t seem aware of waking…until he actually clamped a palm to Joe’s thigh. It very much felt as if Mac was scrabbling for purchasetrying to tug Joe innot shove him away. Then he froze, alongside a sharp intake of breath.

“What are you doing..?” he mumble-grumbled.

Not ‘alf as much as I want to be doing…was the honest answer to that. Nevertheless, Joe wasn’t convinced that such sterling truth-telling efforts would reap their just rewards.

‘Joe. Please remove your cock from the crack of my arse,’  was perfectly polite. It was also a mite too fulsome on the fuck-off-front to ignore. Joe p’raps did his best though… luxuriating in a last few seconds of bliss while bickering about the fact that it was, indeed, still there. A fact Mac professed to be miffed about, without making any attempt to shift himself in the slightest.

“Joe!” he growled. Eventually. Oops…time to get up. Not in a fun way. Sad sigh.

The bad-ass then speared Joe with what was p’raps supposed to be a withering sneer, but was, in fact, as sexy as fuck. Joe didn’t tell him that either—which was not fibbing—it was omitting to mention it. The next part Joe was not responsible for at all. It was instinct pure and simple; not a plot he’d prepared earlier. He couldn’t be charged with murder if he hadn’t planned to off someone, after all… So, it was bumslaughter at the very most.

Nevertheless, Mac soon recovered from his rude awakening to embark on a bit of banter, none o’which was a jot important, like most joys in life.

Joe did p’raps ask something he’d resisisted almost since Mac stepped through the door… despite suspecting that his insistence on truth wasnae a two-way street.

“Have you ever killed a man, Mac?”

True to form, his response? ‘If I told you that, I’d have to kill you…’ Fessed up nothing, and confirmed far more than Mac knew. A lot like his sexuality, in fact. All o’which tended to suggest that Joe’s bad-ass-bodyguarder was a gay assassin. He could, o’course, be a bi or pan serial killer with a contract…but he sure as sharp shooters wasn’t a straight babysitter.

Speaking of which, Joe couldn’t remember the last time he’d wanted to do anything except shoot up the moment he opened his eyes. Let alone indulge in chit-chat, which was staggering itself. Not content with that feat, when Joe finally got around to his morning ministrations he found himself bamboozled by the bad-ass again.

“What’re you doing?” Mac demanded, instead of lighting the cig he’d been cussing about for the last ten minutes. When Joe told the truth and nothing but, as instructed, he wasnae too chuffed about that either. There was just no pleasing some peeps. 

It was a lot like waking up with Oscar the Grouch, but less whiffy. Mac did, in all honesty, smell luscious; even his sweat seeped sex. A scent so heady that a few hours spent snuffling him would be a splendid thing in itself—which seemed a fair ‘nuff admission—it being quite a climb from that to scaling the giddy heights of the plinth.

“Joe…c’mere…” Mac’s tone didn’t seep sex, it was saturated in it. A lot like mozzarella stroodles drizzling off a three-cheese margherita pizza.

Joe found himself dragged Macwards as if being sucked into an inexorable vortex; as irresistible as licking sugar off his lips mid-doughnut scoff. The food fandangling was getting a tad out of hand. Joe was ravenous.

The moment their mouths melted together Mac pounced: faster than a bad-ass in hot pursuit of a spot of mischief. Too fast to follow how Joe ended up flat on his back on the bed, which mattered not when he did. Smothered in bad-ass, plush lips ravishing his own in a heady tangle of tongues. 

When the bad-ass snatched himself from the kiss, Joe feared it had been a mere ruse in a dastardly scheme to distract him from his stash. Or that Mac had only demanded it in order to prove his dominion over his desperately-craving-self. Joe was wrong. Very. 

“Tell me what you want,” Mac snarled, before naming a few of Joe’s favourite things. One or three of which he’d possibly mooted in the last few minutes. “Choose one.”

Okay. A degree in quantum science wasn’t required to conclude that choosing smack would obliterate all other options. For farrr longer than Joe could survive and stay sane while sharing the same airspace as Mac. Let alone bed. It was a question of cravings. Joe was far more inured to enduring a skag-free few hours than being frozen out by Mac. They’d scarce begun. In fact, there could be no finer time to dismiss it as scratching-an-itch-sex. Or, worse a one-off shag to shut Joe up. 

“You.” There was no other answer. Not when Joe knew that no one else could come close. He’d already chosen; promised Mac that there would be only him. A scarily easy vow when Joe knew damn well that once he’d fixed on something, he craved it to the exclusion of all else. He’d never felt that way about a person before. Just things. It was terrifying.

“Thank you.” Kryptonite green gleamed with a warmth so unexpected it snatched Joe’s breath away. Mac was, without exception, the most mesmerizing man Joe ever had the misfortune to meet. ‘Misfortune’ because Joe was, without doubt, going to lose his bad-ass long before that felt bearable. Thank you…?

“What for…?” Joe wondered—aloud—being as befuddled as he was baffled.

“I don’t know…” That made two of them, but it didn’t matter overmuch when the sentiment itself was an unanticipated gift. 

“I am sorry,” Joe apologized—although he wasn’t sure what for—a reciprocal gift of sorts? Possibly on accounts of being a pain in the butt since the bad-ass came to whip Joe’s into shape. 

“Joe?” Uh oh. That sounded dangerous. Joe should’ve planned an escape. How far was the drainpipe from the attic window? Or…p’raps cosh Mac with the door stopper? There was a teeny flaw in that cunning plan. A guitar might do?

“Yeah?” 

“I am not.” A new shrug, alongside a wry twerk o’lips. The most mind-boggling one yet. 

Whathefucketyfuck? Not sorry…about?  The blighter was the most inscrutable scoundrel on Earth. The inescapable agent of Joe’s doom? Would damn well delight in it, the blackguard.  

 

***

 

 

35 Mac

 

 

 

Making Joe choose was cruel. It was also a surefire way of fathoming a few truths. ‘Facts’ Joe couldnae confess. Not with wordsit was too easy to promise all he presumed Mac wantedand even mean it, at the time. Joe was an addict. His truth wasnae set in stone. Mac was willing to bet he’d vowed ‘never again’ on countless occasions. Possibly believed it, once or twice. 

Offering Joe a choice would reap a fact so clear-cut Mac wasnae sure he wanted to learn it. That very much depended on the result, of course. Who the fuck wanted to compete with the lure of opium dreams? Mac needed all the help he could get. It was full metal jacket time.

A full metal jacket bullet is a small-arms projectile consisting of a soft core (often lead) encased in a shell of harder metal, such as cupronickel, or a steel alloy.

A definition that didn’t ring any bells whatsoever. Certainly not enough to recite it, verbatim. 

Mac was pissing in the wind. He had no idea whatsoever which option Joe would choose. If any. He was just as likely to select ‘pizza’. For breakfast. Or a curry, come to that.

“You.”

Fuck. How often did life hand you the answer you’d hoped for, when you ventured down the multiple choice alley of dreams into dust? Almost never, Mac had discovered. Particularly when the response meant more than it should. In which case, it was downright deranged. 

My terms. My way? It had all gone to hell in a Hawker Hurricane. He found himself thanking Joe, rather than admit any of that. A plan that promptly backfired in his face when asked ‘what for’. The lie Mac uttered didnae deserve the apology it engendered. Or eyes so soft, contrite, he couldnae allow himself to trust them. Was Mac so warped with cynicism he assumed that everyone had ulterior motives? Undoubtedly. It tended to save time…and lives.

“Joe?”

“Yeah?” One word and yet, it sounded so wary, it was a wonder Joe hadnae ducked. Or hid under the bed. In this instance, it was hard to rustle up a less fitting reaction. Or a wiser one.  

“I am not.”  Mac owned. He wasn’t made of bloody concrete. Even metal melts or corrodes if exposed to extreme circumstances.

Joe was a walking, talking, extreme circumstance; in past, present and future tense. On every sense. Certainly all six of Mac’s (fact, not airy-fairy fiction, according to sensory specialists). Mac’s equilibrioception—perception of balance—had been shot to shit since he’d crossed Joe’s threshold. He’d never felt so off-kilter in his life. Joe was the most perilous person Mac had ever been paid to protect. Or dispatch.

He had to face that fact, when lying to himself would be lethal. Every bit as lethal as the addiction that might snatch Joe away, making a mockery of every belt and beret Mac had sweated bullets for.

A far greater foe than Joe’s ‘people’. Or the journalists who focussed on it to the exclusion of all else. Willfully oblivious to the fact that addiction was the result of—not the reason for—the problem in the first place. Ever intent on belittling those so broken, they’d drink Loctite to glue themselves back together, if they thought for a second it would work.

Hoping for compassion was pointless, when it was far more profitable to track their prey. Hovering like vultures in hope of rich pickings. Playing the blame game in bold type and lurid headlines…

‘Junkie Joe’s Portaloo Passion’

True. Apparently.  ‘Shamed star’s drug-fuelled romp with a leggy lovely…’ served up with your Great British Breakfast by your Super Soaraway Sun.

Joe was journalistic heaven waiting to happen. But they didnae give a fuck about (nor grant a column inch of grudging gratitude to) the gift horse that kept them in nose-ups and fry-ups. 

“You’re…not?” The wonder writ so large in those eyes sat like shrapnel in Mac’s throat.

“No…but…” Mac let that linger, as if a pause might add weight to featherlight words.

“Uh-oh…Am I in trouble again, already?” Joe’s head sank into his shoulders, as if he were trying to make himself as small as the five year old his expression suggested.

“No…let’s just call it a helpful hint. I do not bottom, Joe. Ever. So. If I should happen to find myself hosting so much a wandering digit, I will break it. Just To Be Clear.”

“Okay. Darn it,” Joe tutted. “It’s a pity I haven’t got a dog.”

“A…dog.” Mac repeated, raising an enquiring eyebrow.

“You could’ve relished informing me that you’d chop it off and feed it to him, then. Tragic that.” 

“D’you want a thick ear?” Mac snorted.

“Nope, oddly ’nuff. If there’s thick in the offing…that woudnae be my preference. Just sayin’…” For all the world as if there was any doubt whatsoever that Mac would follow through. Worse, he knew it. They both did.

“Kneel on the bed and grip the bedstead.” Uttered in tones as cool, calm and collected as Mac could muster. Monster boner permitting.

“Hmm…don’t mind if I do.”

“Quelle surprise.” Mac sighed, with an eye roll that probably fooled no-one. Least of all himself.

“I’m full of ’em,” Joe beamed.

“You’re full of something else too, Fitzgerald. So shurrup and turn around, unless you want gagging.”

“I’d rather have cuffs to tell the truth, supposing it’s still the order of the day an’ all,” Joe grinned. Before swiping it off sharpish with the back of his hand and an “oops…” Eyes huge, horrified. Oscar-worthy. “Sorry,” he trilled. “Turrning…”

 

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 25

My Way

32 Mac

 

 

 

Mac was aware, even as the dream unfolded, that he shouldnae allow…even this. Way too dangerous. Too risky, too vulnerable. Stay sharp, stay strong. Stay on top. No exceptions. His former self, long vanquished. Voided. 

So, why…why…in this dark, dread dream, were Mac’s toes curling in pleasure as his spine arched? Aching toward the nameless need. Fuck, it felt good. A few more minutes…stolen moments of yielding to blameless, shameless, yearning.

“Gnrrr…” Morefriction…weight…pressure. Something, anything, more. Mac groped blindly behind him; clamped his palm to cool skin. A leg, too lean. His eyelids snapped open. Only to find himself staring at a silver-grey wall, and a sloping ceiling. Joe. Crap. 

That…would be Joe’s cock, then. Parked in Mac’s butt crack.

“What are you doing..?” he groaned. The most ludicrous query Mac had ever made in his life. In his own defence, he had just woken up…but really. It was still unpardonable.

“It’s…cosy?”

“Cosy?”

“Is it not? You seemed real cosy just. P’raps even…not quite cosy nuff…”

“Joe. Please remove your cock from the crack of my arse.”

“It wasn’t me! Honest. You turned over…then shuffled back a bit…closer.”

“That doesn’t alter the fact that it’s there. Still.”

“True…”

Joe.

“I am telling it to move…it’s just not listening.”

Mac was going to kill him in a minute. Christ knows why he hadnae just bestirred himself. Rather than conduct the most ridiculous conversation with the most impossible person on Earth. Mac hadnae had enough sleep to shift anywhere sharpish...and it was imperative that he…call the shots. Insist that Joe move. That was it. 

“I am working on it…” Joe assured him, with a twitch of hips. 

Gnnrr. Mac gritted his teeth. “Joe!” he growled through them. About a split-second before Joe threw his body weight forwards. Rolling Mac onto his front, with Joe still plastered to his back. Cock still nestled in situ. 

Mac didnae waste words. Just dragged in a deep breath, planted his palms on the bed and bucked, twisting his torso to toss Joe off and flip him face-down on the bed. Wrists pinned to the pillow, Mac sitting astride his waist.

“Don’t try that move in the dark, or yer mightnae live to regret it…” Mac rasped, low and lethal at Joe’s ear. “…long enough for me to realise who the fuck you are.” Who the fuck…indeed. Never had Mac’s words come back to haunt him with quite such gallows humour.

The ones he’d all-but snarled at Joe? Reaped no sign whatsoever of being cause for concern. Unlike Joe’s response, which sure as hell was; from the twerk of his lips to the question they unleashed.

“Have you ever killed a man, Mac?” The gleam in those goddamn eyes was every bit as monstrous. The only death that should incite such delectation was By Chocolate Cake. In the real world, rather than John Wick’s, at least.

Mr Prissypants was back in the building. Apparently. Aided and abetted by a critical lack of caffeine. 

“If I told you that, I’d have to kill you…” Mac snorted, rattling off the requisite response. Hardly inspired, but Christ…he hadnae even had his first smoke of the day. In the wake of being so rudely woken, at that. 

“Are you…miffed with me?” Uttered in a voice as small as those eyes were huge. Imploring. 

Mac slammed his own shut. “Aye.”

“D’you…want a cuppa?”

“Aye.” 

“Can I p’raps—” The grin in Joe’s voice was louder than the one on his face when Mac darted a death stare at him. Three strikes and you’re out, yer miscreant.

“NO.”

“I didn’t finish!” Joe protested.

“Call it a wild guess,” Mac grunted.

“Rumbled. D’you want me to say sorry?”

“Are you?” Mac shot him a side-eye, arching an ironic brow.

“Um…nope, but I don’t think you are, either. You didn’t seem to mind…at the time.”

Mac didnae dignify that with a response. “I thought you were making tea and finding the cigs,” he remarked, instead. In tones best classed as Rickmanesque. 

Okayyy…crikey. D’you want fanning while I’m feeding you grapes, too?”

“I’ll let you know when I’ve had a cuppa…and a smoke.” Mac retorted, releasing his skinny wrists to…dismount, for want of a more fitting expression.

“Yes sir, Mr-bad-ass, sir…” Joe chuntered, while scrambling up to (hopefully) procure said necessities.

“What are you doing?” Mac asked, shoving a pillow behind his back before leaning against the brass bedstead. A packet of cigarettes and a lighter had just sailed through the air to land beside him, but rather than potter off to make them a cuppa, Joe started rummaging around in his desk drawer.

“Shooting up.”

“F’fucksakes…” Mac let his head thunk against the wall. 

“I didn’t fib…?” The butter-wouldn’t-melt-and-blink-combo was abominable. Grown men couldnae be adorable. Or considered thus. Particularly while parched. 

“That’s not a fat lot of consolation this side of a bloody cuppa,” Mac grumbled.

“I’m multitasking! I can cook this up while waiting for the kettle to boil.” 

“Joe..c’mere…” Mac murmured. His brain having decided—rather reluctantly on the lack of nicotine front—to crank into first gear. 

“Yeah?” Joe glanced up and egregious eyes flared wider still when they flicked to the left.  Away from Mac’s face. Sudden silence, when Joe’s foraging fingers stilled in their search. Without a word he started toward Mac, who watched, entranced by the nonsensical grace of long, lean limbs.

“Kiss me,” Mac demanded.

“Hmm…always…” Joe’s words were as soft as his smile when he bent to press his lips to Mac’s upturned mouth.

Mac shot a hand up to clasp the back of that feathery head—hair like duck down against  his palm—as he snaked his right arm around Joe’s waist. Then threw himself forwards, using the momentum of their bodies to flip Joe onto the bed, flat on his back. Twin pools of limpid darkness stared up at Mac, as serene as moonlit lakes. 

“Mac…” 

“Hmm?”

“Please…”

“I thought you were going to shoot up…” Mac parried, before melding their mouths to plunder pincushion lips. Kisses so heady, hungry, it took a hurricane force of will to snatch himself free a few minutes and forever later. 

“I was…will but…don’t stop…” A plea garnished by a grappling hook gaze.

“Tell me what you want…” Mac ordered, tossing his last sliver of sanity into the pot. “Smack. Please. Don’t stop. In swift succession. Choose one.” Served with a snap of hips.

You…” Joe hissed, obsidian ablaze with need, burning dark fire. Brimming with lust and undiluted longing. Trained only and entirely on Mac. Intoxication itself.

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 24

My Way

 

 

30 Mac

 

 

Mac headed downstairs to make himself a hot toddy while Joe ‘sorted himself out’ before bed.

Having somehow agreed to the monster’s earlier suggestion (most likely in a post-orgasm moment of madness aided by sheer exhaustion), Mac figured it would be wisest to make himself scarce for a few minutes. Not least when he knew damn well that if he had to witness the sight of Joe shooting up, he’d throw a fucking fit. He couldnae be responsible for his own actions if forced to watch Joe inflict what felt like a dance with death closer to the final curtain on himself .

“I have no idea how many, let’s call them ‘members of your entourage’, you’ve treated as toys to discard when you’re bored of playing with them…”

His own words were howling through his head like an arctic wind; so bitter cold, they should by rights, have chapped his lips on their way out. Mac hadnae intended them to sound so harsh, but despite deploring that they had, he wouldnae retract them if he could. He’d meant them. Had needed to impress that fact upon Joe…before Mac found himself snarling them in Joe’s face when they’d corroded his ability to suppress them. 

They had, at least, served the fuck-off façade all too well. Mac hadnae been sure where the mask ended and the man began, before today. Nor had he wanted to, suspecting that knowledge would be the polar opposite of power. Being proved correct was no consolation at all.

Mac had spent a decade clad in the meticulous image he’d constructed to thrive in the career he’d chosen. Survival was paramount of course, but once he’d done his utmost to ensure that, it hadnae proved sufficient. He’d wanted to be the best in the business, the superlative ‘bad-ass’ on the books. Bad-ass, f’fucksakes.

He’d been hell bent on McCafferty being the byword for lethal cool in a crisis. The go-to-guy in worst-case scenarios. A hair-trigger temper and rage eveready to rescue him when imperative had propelled Mac to the top of his profession. A fact that didnae bode well for the safety of those touting their wares on the celebrity circuit, but there was bugger all he could do about that. Bodyguarding…kept him busy. He’d rather be doing something a damn sight less tedious, but a life spent exclusively taking out the trash wasnae wise if you wished to retain some semblance of humanity. Hostage situations were more satisfying, but less frequent, as a freelancer. Honour alone dictated that Mac wasnae about to tread on the toes of his former fellow Blades. 

 The words he’d spat at Joe may have sounded frigid with cold and barren of feeling, but they’d been far from it. Freeze-dried in fear was nearer the truth.

“Considering me a shiny new acquisition would be…foolish.”

Sheer snark had made that a reprimand, ringing with contempt. Rather than a plea, drenched in dread. Christ, he was pitiful. Why hadn’t Joe told him to fuck off? Why let Mac get away with such crap, when Joe had plenty of people more than willing—nay, eager—to do his bidding? Mac couldnae bring himself to believe that was precisely why. It was too base, too simplistic a reason. The real reason was much more complex—it had to be—because Joe was. 

How he’d love to learn the secrets, dreams and fears writ so large in those eyes; luminous with liquid light that defied their dark depths. Blinding him to their truths; all Mac could see was his own incompetence, mirrored back.

So, why the hell was he humming while drizzling honey into his whisky? For all the world as if Mac was dead set on flinging himself into the flames of his own downfall? He was pouring hot water into his drink when it registered that said ditty was uncannily akin to the melody Joe strummed earlier. Too much like it for comfort, if he had any sense.

Mac McCafferty, bad-ass extraordinaire, was still humming as he dropped a cinnamon stick into his toddy before giving it a stir and lifting it to his lips.

 

 

***

 

31 Joe

 

 

It was with a fulsome sigh of relief that Joe gave himself over to the shimmer of serenity stealing through his veins, suffusing him in peace. Lids heavy. Head light. Heart sore…no more. His eyes fluttered shut…up, up and away, he wafted. Off to the velvet cocoon of a cotton wool world and nowhere he need be. Nothing Joe must do, say, hear, feel, think. No fears or self-flagellation. No coulda-woulda-shoulda done anything at all…

Mac

O those eyes of tourmaline green

That flinty glint, agleam with mean

Glimmering with a lethal sheen

Dangerous with dark desire

Tempered rage and deadly ire,

Ablaze with lust and bad-ass fire… 

*

Hmm…I sigh

No reason why

Nor why not

One last shot

To be or not 

To be

Me.

 

***

 

“Joe…”

“Hmm..?”

Cool fingers at his brow, sweeping sweaty strands aside. Cupping Joe’s face…still so fuggy they felt…tender…and yet, steadfast, sure…

“Look at me…”

“Hmm…” Joe forced his heavy lids apart to peer up into…“Green…”

“Green…?”

“Gleam…”

Okayyy. You’re going to get a crick neck propped up like that, can you lie down?”

“With you…too?”

“Yeah.” Mac nodded, sending a frond of fringe tumbling in front of one eye, trembling in the light. Light? It should be night. “’Kay…Stay…”

“I told you I’m staying. C’mon, lie on your side…safer, just in case…” Hendrix?

“‘Kay…” Joe agreed.

“Go on, then,” Mac grinned.

“Oops, I forgot.”

“Christ, we’ll be here all day…” Mac’s eyes rolled aloft with a tut, peasants…sort of sigh. The world is full of ’em. What can y’do…?

Then the bad-ass straightened up and strode to the end of the bed, gripped Joe’s ankles and tugged. Hard. Wheeee….it was a somewhat swift lie down, it must be said. There was a moment, just before Joe’s ankles were clamped in a death grip, when he noticed Mac was only sporting a pair of pants. A fact that proved beyond all doubt the distracting superpowers of that flinty glint. They were tighty-whities, at that…an even more staggering feat.

“Is the window open?” Joe asked, squinting up at it, as bleary as can be…

“The window?” It was behind Mac. Oddly ’nuff. Turning a tad, he glanced over his shoulder, thus presenting Joe with the profile of the most perfect posterior on the planet. “No, it’s not. Aren’t you cold?”

“I’m all flushed, s’hot in here.”

“If you want it opening, the room could do with a bit of bloody fresh air.”

Do I want Mac to open it? Oohh. Decisions, decisions

It was about level with Mac’s face, requiring a wee stretch…and a bit of a jiggle, being a smidge sticky an’ all. A bit of a no-brainer, t’be sure. Having a bad-ass was better than telly. 

“Please.”

Just watching Mac walk was an untold pleasure. Golden globes tightly encased in brighty-whities, wiggling off to the window. The muscles of his back danced, gliding beneath burnished skin as the devilish dimples winked in saucy appreciation. Up went sinewy arms, the taut tush tightened, munching on the pants in the process. Blimey…and the jiggling was yet to come…hmm. ’Twas like watching twin mole hills under a blanket of snow, just before they popped up to play. 

“’Kay?”

“Hmm…much better.”

“What’re you cooking up now?” Mac asked, eyes narrowing with suspicion when he turned to face Joe.

“Me? Nothing.” No fibbing. At all. The buns had already risen…to the occasion. Splendidly. It was a good job Joe was lying on his side. He shifted his top leg a tad, shielding all evidence of here’s one I prepared earlier…

“Hmph.”

“Come to bed, before you fall over. It must be, what…eight, nine, in the morning?”

“Yeah…’kay.” Mac raked a hand through his still damp hair (so Joe couldn’t have nodded off for long) before letting his arm flop down. Shoulders slumping as he surrendered to exhaustion.

The front view was every bit as glorious as the back, in truth (still being the order of the day, no doubt). Bone structure hewn from bronze, his buzzed undercut with trailing tendrils on top; seal slick and darker when wet, as dark as the twerk of those lips. A lean, mean, fighting machine, taut ‘n’ twinkly nipples begging to be tongued to attention. Laterwards. He needed some sleep. Mac seemed, for once, to agree. He did, at least lift his left leg to clamber onto the bed, which was a start.  After cocking it across Joe’s calves, Mac stretched out behind him. Paradise. Inches away.

“Joe?”

“Yeah?” He craned his neck toward Mac, peering over his shoulder.

“Promise.” His eyes gleamed malachite bright while searching Joe’s.

“Promise. I’ll stay here…it’s easy ’nuff to be sure I have…” Joe aimed for airy, with not a jot of pleeease snuggle up and spoon me. He was somehow sure Mac would startle from slumber if the proverbial pin was dropped. It was prob’ly part of the training; if you didn’t stir, it was stabbed in your eyeball. Alertness, Lad! Stay sharp, stay alive. Or something such.

“Yeah…but then you’ll think I don’t trust you.” Mac sighed.

“Y’don’t,” Joe smirked.

“True, but y’know what I mean…”

“I think so? Mac…?”

“Yeah?”

“Will you…hold me?”

Mac nodded, a wee twitch of his head and swallowed visibly. Adam’s apple bobbing up and down so temptingly Joe yearned to chase it with his tongue. Then the import of that nod hit him and Joe blinked, bewildered. Had Mac just agreed? To spoon him, with nary a quibble? Did Mac want to? Snuggle up beside Joe? Smack was playing havoc with his heartstrings, it had to be.

Joe knew not. It was very hard to care when a strong, sure arm encircled his waist and Mac wriggled a bit closer to Joe’s body, which felt as if it might go off like a fire alarm. The bad-ass held his hips at bay—a mite, not much—his cock wasn’t wedged between Joe’s cheeks, despite tightening his arm a tad. 

Joe’s whole self all-but sighed with serendipity. “Thank you…for everything.”

“Y’welcome…” Mac mumbled. His huffs of breath were a warm caress, nuzzling Joe’s nape. Then. Impossibly, Joe felt the soft press of lips to oh, so sensitive skin, sparking a sizzle down his spine.

Hmm...Sleep tight, Mac.”

There. Strewth. Joe’s medal had better be in the bloomin post.

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 23

Hi, I hope you’ve had a great weeked. Here are the next three parts, I was on a bit of a roll. Please excuse typos, lots of this has been written today and is very much a WIP, so it hasn’t been edited t’death… 

 

 

 

My Way

27 Joe 

 

“I’m going upstairs…before I cannae rustle up a reason not to wipe that smirk off your mush,” Mac huffed afore swishing off in his wee kiltie. Very fetching it was too, hugging the bountiful bum with aplomb.

Joe had never expected to find himelf envying a bath towel, it must be admitted. It was impossible not to crave being melded to the bad-ass in a similar fashion, but it was hard to imagine Mac—no. No, it was not.

Despite Mac’s general air of fuck-offery and glinty-eyed glare, Joe had glimpsed a gleam of something so astounding mid-shower, he’d written it off as a whisky-warmed, sleep deprived Mcblip on his gaydar. If this had been a one-off, Joe might even believe that. But it hadn’t…a wee hint of it earlier, in the attic, had made Joe blink a bit, too. Was it possible that the badass had been plundered thus? Maybe not for a long time…but that butt sure-as-snuggle-closer hadn’t seemed too adverse to being spooned in a semi-conscious state. Joe felt almost sure he’d briefly emerged from slumber to find himself curled around Mac’s body. A Mac who really hadn’t seemed to mind the bounteous bum being cradled by Joe’s hips, as cosy as can be. He’d stirred, grunted, wriggled a bit, then sunk back into that halfway world where awake and asleep seem much of a muchness.

While Joe was willing (in theory) to do the hosting honours without being miffed about never receiving a reciprocal invite…he’d have to be bloody dead not to covet the baddest ass on Earth. Or hereabouts, in Joe’s bloomin bed. 

While he could be content to bottom for the forseeable if Mac was doing the topping? Joe couldn’t, hand on heart, promise that such close proximity to the sublime swell of Mac’s arse wasn’t going to drive him demented. Or, that his choke chain wouldn’t start chafing a tad after a wee while. 

This truth-telling lark was getting out of hand. Trouble was, Joe did have a teeny tendency to All or Nothingness. Now and again. Hence matters going a mite amiss on occasion. Mac may claim to want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but Joe’s tongue might p’raps run away with itself a smidge more than Mac bargained for.

Joe was pondering all this while drying off after the most sublime shower he could recall for…ever. That done ‘n’ dusted, he donned His-n-His towelling attire and set off in search of Mac.

Mac…!?” 

“Yeah?” When those dulcet tones wafted down the attic stairs, Joe skittered up, only to stop sharpish in the open doorway. Mac was standing, staring out of the casement window, still clad in his kiltie, dimples like devil’s thumbprints peeping o’er the top. Stroked by the first fingers of dawn filtering through the skylight, his skin gleamed a sultry shade of gold. Beyond beautiful, from back or front.

Joe had a dim recollection of reading that Johnny Depp had fallen for the rear view of Vanessa Paradis. Her neck in particular—which had seemed most reasonable—her nape being both swanlike and exceptionally elegant. That noted, he now found himself struck with newfound empathy for the fate that befell M. Depp during his perusal of paradis.

Joe’s poetic appreciation of the McCafferty rear ended a bit abruptly when his hips propelled him across the room to wrap his arms around Mac’s waist. His legs were p’raps a tad wider apart than customary for a spot of window staring, so it was very cosy indeed. Apart from the minor matter of two towels too many, it was a stance not to be sniffed at. 

“What’re you thinking?” Joe murmured in Mac’s shell-like before pressing a kiss to the tip of his ear.

“Nothing really,” he mumbled. Fibber. No-one who replies ‘nothing really’ is ever thinking nothing. Really.

Even if Mac had been musing about nowt before Joe arrived, which was doubtful, this didnae seem probable with Joe’s cock parked in happy valley. He might be silently seething ‘get the fuck off me’ but surely the bad-ass would vocalise this with a bit more…vigour?  A quick peer over Mac’s shoulder confirmed that his cock sure didn’t seem to mind, which p’raps explained why Mac hadn’t stomped off. Again. Stomping with a stiffy to express miffiness would be a tad tricky. It was a tossup whether the wee kiltie would help, or hinder, matters. 

“Do as I say, not as I do..?” Joe wondered, ghosting his lips along the top of Mac’s shoulder. 

“Nothing important,” Mac amended, rather than take issue with that particular truth.

“Okay…” Having scored one unexpected point, Joe was content to quit. Everyone was entitled to thoughts they’d rather not share. “Are you having a kip now?”

“I told you—”

“Mac, what if I don’t go abed for three days? I often don’t. You’re being daft, I’m not going to hoover up my entire stash if you fall asleep. If I sort myself out now, I can come and lie beside you. I’ll bring my jottings so I won’t get twitchy if I don’t snooze off. Okay?”

“I…don’t—”

Mac, you’re doing it again. I’m going to get fed up and fibalot if you take no notice when I tell the truth, it’s a bit flippin’ frustrating,” Joe huffed. “Unless, o’course, you’re arguing cos you’d rather have a shag, instead.”

 

 

 

 

***

 

 

28 Mac

 

 

Mac stood by the attic window, gazing inwards, rather than out. Despite being exhausted, he was too restless to sit down; staring out of the window seemed to justify standing around like a spare spanner. The room was too littered with crap to make pacing feasible, and it wasnae a state of mind Mac cared to project when Joe walked in. Cool, calm and collected was far preferable, even if he felt anything but.

Still, the fields dotted with sheep and leafy lanes leading to a world-away from this, were but a backdrop to his thoughts. Thoughts like a seething snakepit of rapidly unravelling resolve, riddled with dread, and poleaxed by how-the-fuck has Joe-Fitzgerald capsized the plan panic. Deadly efficiency swept aside by a flutter of hurricane eyelashes and a mouth far too gifted for Mac’s own good. Much too skilled at word weaving and wielding them with finesse. Way too bewitching, whatever the bloody hell he did with it.

These most unwelcome musings were rudely interrupted by the pesky provocateur himself, who scampered up the staircase before stopping dead. Mac had to force himself to remain still, rather than glance around, when he wanted to know what mischief Joe might be up to now. That seemed as good a reason as any. Particularly the most pressing one. Mac needed to get a grip. Thirsting for the sight of Joe Fitzerald was a straitjacket short of insanity. 

Nevertheless, Mac held himself static; a far too befitting description when the fucking air was fizzing with it. As were his veins, which was worse, hence his reluctance to sit down. Mac felt—rather than heard—Joe weave his way towards him. His skin was prickling with awareness, his heart hammering louder than Joe’s footsteps. Ridiculous. He’d just had the best bloody blow job for longer than he cared to remember. After fucking incredible sex. 

Long scar-smattered arms, with a fresh eye-sore despoiling Joe’s right wrist, wrapped around Mac’s waist. The moment they completed their circle, he knew damn well what he’d craved. Perhaps even why he’d presented himself like a tableau for the taking. F’chrissakes, if Mac couldn’t stop endangering himself, how the hell was he supposed to keep Joe safe? 

When Mac didn’t demure, the circlet tightened, clamping Joe limpet-like to his back; clammy chest plastered to his own warmer skin, scorching it. Worse, much worse, was the hungry ridge of hard heat wedged in the crack of his arse. Worse, because he’d wanted it there. It was all he could do not to arch into it, rock his hips, just a little. Fuck-NO. As if all this wasn’t minacious enough, those far too ripe and ever-ready lips brushed Mac’s neck as three simple words scored his skin.

“What’re you thinking?”

The answer to that impossible question was, of course: you. Cutting his own tongue out would be wiser than telling the truth. Hypocrite. Fuck knows why Mac bothered lying, the likelihood that Joe would let the ludicrous ‘nothing really’ slip past him was…zilch.

“Nothing important…” Couldnae be considered a lie. It was bloody blasphemy.

‘Kay.” To his astonishment, this gross defamation was allowed to go unremarked upon. Instead, Joe elected to focus on Mac’s lack of sleep. Both facts being suspicious in themselves. Together? They were an air-raid siren assault on Mac’s senses. Joe furthermore insisted that he often didnae sleep for three days. Then promised not to ‘hoover’ his entire stash should Mac submit to slumber. No doubt veritas. He’d be far more inclined to inject it.

Mac’s protestations were cut off by a tongue as quick as a whip with a mind to match. Scything through his pitiful attempt to rustle up a convincing argument against what was a reasonable proposition. Unless it was being put to you by Joe.

“Unless o’course, you’re just arguing cos you’d rather have a shag instead.”

This was not true. Until Joe mentioned it. Mac had been blanking his own boner. Despite the impossibility of ignoring Joe’s.

“No, that wasnae why I quibbled—or tried to—before being rudely interrupted. Twice.” A palm abruptly clamped across his cock. Mac sucked in a breath as sharp as the shaft of lust that blazed through his body.

“Odd that, cos your cock certainly seems to be…up for it.”

“I’m knackered,” Mac growled.

“Y’could just lie back ‘n’ think of ye olde England, if y’like. I don’t mind a bit, I’m happy to please m’self, as ’twere.” This was whispered into his ear, swiftly followed by Joe’s tongue, and the bolt of hot want that shot straight to Mac’s groin. Not content with the groan he wrenched from Mac’s lips, Joe tugged on his lobe with teasing teeth.

“Joe…” Mac growled.

“Hmmm…?”

“F’fucksakes…” he hissed, his teeth clenched tight enough to shatter.

“Exactly. Mac…can I sit on your cock? Pleease…”

Mac’s head, which felt far too heavy for his neck to support, started sinking against Joe’s shoulder. “‘No’ is going to sound a lot like a fib…just saying.”

“You’re insatiable…” Mac groaned.

“It’s not my so-hard-it’s-quivering cock in my hand,” Joe pointed out.

“If you think I’m going to lie there like a dildo, while you entertain yourself on my cock, you’re barking up the wrong tree, Fitzgerald,” Mac snarled, when a sudden surge of energy, from Christ knows where, blazed through his body. One moment Mac was standing there—suspecting he might keel over if Joe wasnae propping him up—the next, his self-preservation instincts finally kicked in. Spinning around, Mac ducked beneath Joe’s armpit and hoisted him onto a shoulder, ignoring his gasp of shock (and his own irrepressible smirk) while striding over to the bed.

 

***

 

29 Joe

 

“If you think I’m going to lie there like a dildo, while you entertain yourself on my cock, you’re barking up the wrong tree, Fitzgerald…”

No one else could’ve wielded a wodge of obscenity with such sublime finesse. Mere moments later, Joe found himself flat on his back on the bed. Dumped there by a bronzed god who stood, hands on hips, glinting at Joe in the lazy light where dawn gives way to day. 

“I have no idea how many, let’s call them ‘members of your entourage’, you’ve treated like toys to discard when you were bored of playing with them…” Mac growled. “But. Considering me a shiny new acquisition would be…foolish.” 

Mac tossed foolish at Joe with all the potential of a hand grenade; one he’d have to juggle like a scorching hot potato if it took physical form, mid-lob.

Mac was every bit as lethal as Joe had been promised. Twice as intoxicating. Every move as swift and precise as a blade slicing the air. The rare exceptions? Those intriguing glimpses behind the curtain when Mac’s iron-clad control slipped a smidge…but those perversely made him more compelling, rather than less.

“I do not intend to repeat myself again. A summation, if you please.” Mac ordered. Strewwth. ‘Twas a wonder Joe’s marbles didn’t melt out of his ears; his bones went distinctly buttery. Crikey, he could barely blink, let alone form a sentence.

Joe could, however, remember every word with utter clarity. On accounts of them being all-but branded on his brain. 

“You’re not…a toy. To discard, when I’m done. Playing…” Joe managed. As if his mouth had been hot-wired to comply with dastardly decrees.

“Pray continue…” Mac oozed. Like treacle drizzled over Joe’s naked chest. 

“It would be hot potato hand grenade to—”

“Where the hell did you get the potato?” Mac spluttered, despite clamping his lips shut the second he’d sent the spud sailing Joe’s way.

Playing hot potato ping-pong with Mac was much more fun than playing anything else, with anyone else, it must be admitted. Shiny new toy or no.

Quite why Mac kept banging on about such a travesty of truth beggared belief. Joe didn’t have the foggiest idea how he’d contrived to diminish—demolish—his importance to such a staggering degree. In a matter of hours, he’d made himself the most prized ‘acquisition’ Joe had ever got his mitts on. Acquisition in ‘hired to protect Joe’ terms. Not in a personal property sense. Could anyone ‘own’ Mac? Had a single individual ever done so, rather than (ultimately) the Commander-in-chief of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces? The Queen herself. 

No son of Major Fitzgerald RM could fail to recognise the stamp of military in Mac’s meticulous manner. Or packing technique. He hadnae been a bloody squaddie, either. Mac’s metaphorical boots were buffed to such a high sheen, his toe-caps were blinding. 

While the Press had made great play of the fact Joe’s dad was a decorated Marine, they’d never paused to ponder his wee son’s pride in that fact. Only the Major’s lack of it in the inglorious fruit of his loins. Joe had devoured every snippet of info he could glean along the way, with much the appetite he’d consumed guitar chords and narcotics. In a nutshell, he knew his stuff. 

He also knew ’nuff about his bad-ass to feel pretty sure that Mac’s Japanese Endurance Show proclivities had been no mere tease. Mac was quite capable of tackling one of the most arduous training regimes in existence and emerging amongst the ten percent who survived it (literally on occasion). If Mac hadnae earned himself a coveted beige beret, Joe would have to eat his hatstand (again).

All of which guaranteed high stakes, but the only ‘toy’ Joe had clutched in his sticky mitts? Was the gun he’d grabbed, all geared up and raring to play the ultimate game of Russian Roulette. With the man who’d been named his nemesis. 

Trouble was, Joe was starting to wonder if he wanted to win at all, if that meant he’d lose his bad-ass. Blimey, it would be a helluva hard job to conceal that truth, so Joe would have to make very sure Mac remained blissfully oblivious.

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 22

My Way

25 Joe

 

 

 

 

The melting of tension in the too-taut set of Mac’s shoulders was palpable as Joe massaged shower gel into the gnarls knotted beneath burnished skin. His bad-ass stood, head tipped back, lids closed, cloaked in a kind of calm as Joe smoothed a sponge across the sinewy planes of his chest…down arms that seemed sculpted by sweating it out in combat, as opposed to some fancy schmancy gym. Allowing himself to be turned for Joe to swirl soapy circles across the entrancing interplay of muscle and bone lacing Mac’s back. Leaving him all molten bronze, more amenable than imaginable when he’d arrived in a blaze of bad-assery.  

Joe didn’t think Mac would protest if the southward sweep of his palm ventured where it was itching to…but decided it would be best to seek permission. Seeing as he was endeavouring to toe the terms, as t’were. Here ‘n’ there.

“D’you want me to finish washing you?” Joe murmured, for fear he might shatter something…precious.

“Yes…”

Just yes. No ifs ’n’ buts, nor prevaricating t’boot. Mac was the most confounding creature Joe had ever met. His bad-ass bolshiness was as hot as hell but it was the glint in his grin that kept Joe guessing. He could never quite get a read on Mac; his eyes and mouth oft seemed at odds. Those glittering greens might be spitting sparks…while his lips twitched with a wicked twerk. What’s more, both were intentional; two expressions at once. On one face. Scoundrel.

Joe’s hands were actually trembling in anticipation when he sank to his knees before Mac. His cock was glistening a blood-engorged bronze, as thick as it was weighty when Joe finally furled his fingers around it. Lust-heavy lids flared wide when Joe flicked his tongue at the droplet of water clinging to its tip. The green was dark with desire, marbled like malachite in the spotlights. 

“Joe please…” His throaty rasp was the first time Mac had expressed a wish for something, rather than telling Joe what he intended to take. No…give. Everything he’d ‘taken’ had been a gift. He’d punished Joe with pleasure. Or, more precisely, the promise of its withdrawal, if—when—Joe failed him. 

If that was Mac’s game? Joe could play ball. Mac’s way, ’tis then. Joe would just have to do a damn good job of making the bad-ass rue the rustling up of his oh, so cunning plan.

In the meantime… Joe closed his lips around the head of Mac’s cock. At last. Ooh, this. His scent was as luscious as the taste that exploded on Joe’s tongue while drawing Mac deeper into his mouth. Deeper still, all the way, ’til he bumped the back of Joe’s throat. Mac let his head thunk back against the tiles with a groan that sounded lots like Joe’s name, “Joor…” ground out through gritted teeth. Swiftly followed by a sharp gasp when Joe hollowed his cheeks.

“Fuck!” A hand found his hair, clutching tight during a lingering retreat in which Joe mapped every millimetre he could reach with his tongue. Revelling in every rumbly moan and broken breath he coaxed from Mac’s lips. Sucking harder, faster, mixing it up, slowing right down and eliciting a grumble of protest when he let Mac slip from his lips. Glassy green struggled open to peer muzzily at Joe like a mole from his hole, disturbed from a snooze. Still as sexy as sin itself. Somehow. Devilishly dishevelled.

“Take what you want, Mac…” Joe whispered. Who better to watch and learn from, than Mac himself, lulled by whisky and languid steam-soused air…

“Gnrh…” A half-arsed protest that didn’t sound a lot like ‘no’, so Joe swooped, whisking his hand away to fasten around the hilt of his cock.  ’Twas with a groan like grinding gears that Mac dragged himself back and paused, afore unleashing a thrust so smooth it was a melody of motion…most at odds with the slamming of his head against the wall.

Joe watched, rapt as Mac flexed to and fro, sinuous spine building a momentum as sublime as the sight of his bad-ass lost to bliss. Each breath more ragged, his jaw ever tighter. There was a brief gleam of green when Joe swallowed him down before Mac screwed his eyes shut, praps trying to stave off the orgasm tantalizing Joe’s taste buds. A tad too late…

“Joorrrrrr!” Never had his name sounded as erotic as the r’s that rolled off Mac’s tongue when his hips spasmed and stilled, trembling as he spilled in a hot rush Joe swallowed down. Nor had he seen a sight as magnificent as Mac in that freeze-frame moment Joe committed to memory. Head thrown back, baring the golden arch of his throat, tendons standing as proud as the customary tilt of Mac’s chin. Hmm…

Joe took his own sweet time relinquishing Mac’s cock, sluicing him clean along the way. Releasing him reluctantly, Joe clasped thighs that could crack walnuts and slithered the length of Mac’s body while straightening up. 

“Jorr…” His voice sounded parched, as if Mac’s throat had been sanded. Joe pressed a kiss into his hair, inhaling its heady scent, rather than risk shattering the perfect stillness. Even the sultry air seemed suspended. Locked together in a swirl of steam like sea mist; a thousand unsaid words or none at all shimmering in the silence.

 

***

 

26 Mac

 

Mac reluctantly raised his head, dreading all he deserved to see in that devouring gaze. A gleam of triumph…smug satisfaction…maybe worst of all? Himself, skinny-dipping in pools of drowning darkness. Laid bare, mirrored back. 

Their gazes met. Christ…will I ever get ‘used’ to those eyes? Did anyone? Was that possible? Might there ever come a day when they didnae seem extraordinary and were just ‘Joe’s eyes’? Even unuttered, those words sent a shiver of awareness down Mac’s spine. Now, he’d lost his thread of thought. Something along the lines of not being clobbered by his own inadequacies as he’d feared? Instead, Mac found himself staring into black holes of liquid longing; as haunted as they were haunting. Vulnerability so raw it snatched his breath away. Where the hell was the triumph? The smug satisfaction? Mac couldnae compute what he should see with the writ-too-large-to-misread reality.

Joe had brought Mac to his knees merely by sinking to his own. My way. My terms? Obliterated mid-blowjob…and yet, Joe looked…lost. Mac’s head was awash with white noise, too blindsided to see straight. Did that even make sense? How much whisky have I drunk, exactly? Nowhere near enough, was the answer to that. If he was unconscious, then he couldnae think at all. That would be a result. Nor could Mac drown. In brown. Or embark on a ludicrous internal monologue while doing so.

As Post-Special-Forces professions went, Mac’s suited him just fine. His least-fit for civvy street short-comings? His finest assets. The more furious he felt, the more efficient he was. Maintained at a low simmer, the rage kept him sharp, as lethal as the reputation it served. The perfect release valve to syphon off some spleen before tackling the tattered remnants of the rest of Mac’s life. Until who the fuck is Joe Fitzgerald, of course. Agent Provocateur, par excellence. 

This torrent of inner effluent left Mac feeling as if he might suffocate in the steam-filled confines of the cubicle. He needed some air, sharpish. Shutting off the shower, he scraped his sodden hair back and…attempted some sort of sentence.

“Joe?” Well…it was a start?

“Yeah?” 

“What are you…up to, when you’re done, dry, whatever…?” 

“Going to my room for a smoke and a drink? You needn’t worry. Promise.” It was damn near impossible to doubt such wide-eyed sincerity…as many must’ve found to their cost. Nevertheless, Mac decided to give Joe the benefit of the doubt. He may have lost his mind but: why lie when that would be obvious before many minutes had elapsed? Mac needed to know if Joe’s word was worth fuck all.

Kay. Don’t make me regret it…or you’ll find yourself on a choke chain.” Mac tossed over his shoulder before snatching up a towel to give himself a perfunctory swipe. Then tugged a dry one off the rail to secure around his waist. It was a bit bloody wee but it would have to do.

“Choke chain?” The expression on Joe’s face segued from blameless innocence to incorrigible leer in the blink of an eye. “Hmm, kinky.” Topped off with a wink.

Joe…

“The growl and glinty glare isnae helping matters, y’know,” Joe grinned. As unabashed as he was unrepentant about that.

“I’m going upstairs…before I cannae rustle up a reason not to wipe that smirk off your mush.” Mac retorted, turning to stomp from the bathroom. A ‘bad-ass’ exit possibly best pulled off in anything but a tiny towel skirt.

 

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