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My magnum opus

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MAC
It began like a normal enough night. I’d been going to Eric’s for a while now, and had become pretty familiar with all the regulars. There were the usual local bands that played, some good and some downright awful, and then the occasional out of towners like Joy Division would come in and mesmerise everyone, despite being complete twats offstage. Tonight, some no mark band without the slightest hint of talent was playing some punk number with lots of loud screaming. It’s moments like these I wish I didn’t have ears, I know I could outsing and outplay them all, and yet my own shite band I’d formed with Julian Cope hadn’t even played a single gig by the time he kicked me out. I sat drinking my beer, half watching the show and half attempting to drown out the horrendous screaming by watching everyone else dance. Completely unbothered. Until I saw him. This muscular blonde man, completely surrounded by birds. They were practically swarming him; I didn’t blame them, though, the lad looked like a god. I’d never seen him around before, but I already didn’t like him. He wasn’t even a scouser by the looks of him. Who the hell does he think he is, the wool, comin’ in actin’ like he owns the place. I scowled at him from across the room, but he didn’t seem to notice or care. Soon a lad I’d recently started thinking of making a new band with, Will Sergeant, came up and sat next to me. He was a homely and shy man, but with a cutting sarcastic humour you’d never expect. “Mac, I got us a gig! In 3 days!” He said excitedly, turning to me. I didn’t acknowledge him, still scowling with my eyes fixed on the blonde. “He doesn’t belong here” I mumbled to no one in particular, but Will overheard me, his curiosity peaked. “Who?” He asked, scanning the room in an effort to see where I was looking. “Les?”
“Dunno. Never seen him, don’t like him.”
“Ah, c’mon Mac, you’ve never even met the lad. He’s nice.”
“He looks like a cunt”
Will got up and walked off. I turned back around to my beer, assuming he’d just tired of the conversation. Suddenly someone tapped on my shoulder. I turned around to see Will standing there with the blonde man. “Les, this is Mac, another regular here” Said Will, smirking at me as he introduced us. I rolled my eyes, not caring if “Les” thought I was rude and arrogant. Most did, anyway. “Piss off Will” I said as I took another long swig of my beer. I set the empty mug down and eyed Les again, noticing now a hint of insecurity where moments ago he’d seemed very confident. He looked at the ground, avoiding my eyes. Obviously realising I’d made strong judgements about him. I decided I’d play nice for a moment, taking pity on him. I extended my hand. “Ian McCulloch, but you can call me Mac. Or Duke. Or McCull. Fine with all of ‘em.” Les’s expression changed again, slightly less tense, but he still appeared very shy. Up close, I noticed his eyes more. They were the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen on a real person, like those dramatically overdrawn ones in old paintings, expressive and emotive, and deep blue-grey like a stormy ocean. Eyes that could cast spells with a single glance. All the more reason to hate him. He pulled his hand away quickly as he noticed my expression changed again, silently pleading to Will for help. “Les, we got us a show in 3 days. Would you consider playing bass?” Said Will, still smirking. He obviously thought it was a hilarious game to make me uncomfortable. I sighed dramatically, ordering myself another beer. “Sure, sounds like fun” replied Les from behind me. Fuck, I’d expected him to say no. I turned back around, my eyes wide, nearly spilling my beer in the process. “Mac, we’ve got ourselves a bassist” Will grinned. The bastard.

LES
First impressions usually make or break a person for me. Usually I can tell right off if they’re worth my time or not. But somehow with Mac or whatever he liked to be called, that wasn’t the case. I’d only met him briefly, and he seemed to have countless secrets and alternate personalities. He was shy, but that shyness was hidden under layers of ego. It was as though it wasn’t ego at all, but rather things he’d tell himself to feel more confident. This I respected, but none of it explained why he’d been so cold to me from the beginning. I wondered as I knocked on Will’s door if this endeavour was a good idea to begin with, unable to explain really why I’d agreed to work with such a difficult personality. Guess I’ve just never been one to shy away from a challenge. I’d bought a bass that morning, a three string for 40£. The lack of strings didn’t bother me much though, I’d never touched a bass before in my life so it seemed the easier option to learn on. Will opened the door, “Mac’s not here yet” He said as he showed me to the room he used to practise his guitar. On a table there was a little drum machine set up. “What’s this?” I asked him, “yous haven’t found a drummer?” “No need” He replied, starting up the contraption. “Technology has our backs” He smiled, though only briefly as the thing wasn’t working. “So much for technology” I laughed, watching him slap it a few times until it finally started to play a simple beat. We sat down, unloading our instruments and idly playing. Neither of us really having any idea what we were meant to do. It was obvious we weren’t the most experienced musicians, but eventually we managed to come up with a melody that sounded halfway decent though there was still no sign of Mac. “Is he even coming? Seems like he didn’t like me much…” I said to Will, glancing at the clock on the wall which was surrounded by photos of him in his youth. I recognised one as our old school picture and smiled. Just then the door swung open, without so much as a knock. I turned to see Mac, carrying a small guitar case and a notebook. “Sorry I’m late” He said, sounding insincere. He took his seat at the far end of the settee away from me, setting his guitar case down and pulling out his notebook and a pen. “Yous got anything so far?” He asked, looking pointedly at Will. “A bit” He replied as he slapped the drum machine to life again, before nodding at me to begin playing that melody we’d come up with before. I glanced up between notes, noticing Mac sitting with his eyes closed and taking in the music. He seemed to be really feeling it, the emotion in it. Suddenly, I heard a crash and we stopped playing, looking over to notice the old school photo had somehow fallen. Its frame lay shattered on the floor. “Shit” said Will, quickly making his way over to clean up the glass. I glanced at Mac, who was by now scribbling furious notes onto the paper. I watched him for a moment, his dark bangs falling over his eyes as he wrote, line after line, biting his lip in thought. He looked much less intimidating like this, and almost beautiful. I looked away, shaking the thought from my head. After about 5 minutes of this, his head shot up again. “Done” He said, looking over at Will. I noticed he hadn’t looked me in the eye since he arrived. It was like I didn’t exist to him. Will finished cleaning up the glass and made his way back over to his chair, taking the paper from Mac and looking it over. “You came up with all this just now?” He asked, looking at Mac in shock. “Yeah, felt inspired” he smirked. As Will handed the paper to me, Mac looked at the floor shyly, no longer grinning. I took it and started reading the lines he’d written.

Oh, we should have
Should have got it right
Oh, we should have
Should have got it right tonight

People come
I count every one
Faces burning, hearts beating
Nowhere left for us to run

The pictures on my wall
Are about to swing and fall
Love it all
Love it all

It was simple, but it fit perfectly with the instrumentals Will and I had put together.“These are great, Mac” I said, smiling as I handed the paper back to him. He took it, saying nothing. “Wanna sing it?” said Will, his guitar once again in his lap. “Sure” Mac replied, and we started playing again. He worked the lyrics into a melody, singing in a haunting tone that echoed that of Bowie, but with an air of mystery about it that Bowie lacked. After singing the last line, he stood up and grabbed his guitar again. “Great, we’ll perform that one. And monkeys” He said as he left. “He’ll warm up to you eventually” said Will in an effort to reassure me. “Hope so” I replied, making my way to the door as well. “I’ll be back tomorrow if that’s alright, I have no clue what ‘monkeys’ is meant to sound like.” Will laughed, “yeah, sounds good. I’ll play it and you can fit your bass over it.”

MAC
Though we’d only played a longer version of monkeys, the show went surprisingly well and we’d ended up being signed to a small label, and acquiring a manager. We, well, me and Will, had decided that ‘pictures on my wall’ wasn’t quite ready. I avoided talking to Les as much as possible, his very presence irritated the hell out of me. I hoped we’d find a new bassist eventually, one more experienced and less… like him. But every time I’d bring up the idea to Will he’d shoot me down. “He doesn’t even know how to play, fucks sake Will” “neither did we until about a year ago, just give him a chance. He’s the best beginner bassist I’ve ever heard, I know he’ll become great” he just wouldn’t budge. No matter how I fought him. In the next months, we wrote a few more songs, played a few more gigs, though our growing popularity had little effect on me. I’d thought for sure actually being in a band and getting somewhere was what I deserved, but I simply couldn’t enjoy any of it with him next to me on stage, eyeing me up all judgemental-like. As if he thought himself better than me. As if anyone could be better than me. A year into this and I’d barely exchanged a few sentences with him. Eventually, we were signed to a bigger label with the ultimatum, “get a real drummer or else”. We ended up taking on this young posh lad from trinidad, ‘Pete’, not the most experienced but he suited us very well. Part of me felt bad for him, having to enter late into our strange dynamic. He seemed a bit uncomfortable at first, but after a few weeks he began to warm up to us. He pulled me aside after a show one day, “why do you never speak to Les?” “I do” I replied simply, not wanting to get into the details when I wasn’t even sure myself. All I knew was that every time I looked at him I felt irritated as all hell. “I’ve never seen you and him talking” he pushed more. “Because we have nothing to talk about. I work with him, that’s all.” “You only speak to him through me and Will. That’s a bit strange, I think.” I knew he was right, but I didn’t feel I owed him answers. We made our way to the hotel where we’d be staying for the night. I noticed Les and some bird chatting it up in the lobby, and she was all over him. He was all laughing and blushing. I looked over at Will in disgust at the sight of them, suddenly feeling sick to my stomach though I couldn’t explain why. “The hell’s gotten into him?” I managed to say to Will, trying to wipe the sight from my mind. Will looked over, a smile forming on his face when he noticed what I was talking about. “Finally, I’m happy for him” he said, still smiling. “What do you mean ‘finally’? He’s always got birds hanging around him.” “Yeah, friends, but he’s never gotten one into bed before. Hope he works it out this time.” Said Will, making his way to the lift. I froze, the nausea suddenly replaced by jealousy. I explained it away as me wanting the girl for myself. An evil plan formed slowly in my mind. I turned to two of the stage crew members who had come in behind me. “What do you say we pull a prank on the bassist” I smirked. Naturally, they were on board. We all snuck up to Les’s hotel room, one of the crew members deciding to strip completely naked and hide in the closet while I and the other crew member hid behind the curtains. We waited patiently for what felt like hours, before we heard the door handle begin to turn. I tried to hold back laughter, as the two of them entered hand in hand. I peeked out, and the sight of them made me lose my control. I started crying laughing at the shocked expressions on their faces, as the naked crew guy in the closet jumped out and went running off. Les’s eyes were wide in horror, as obviously he’d never expected me to pull such a thing. The girl rolled her eyes and walked out without a word, leaving him and I alone in the room with the other crew member. “You should’ve seen yourself” I said through uncontrollable laughter. “Piss off, Mac” he said angrily, sitting down on the bed. “You’ve barely spoken a word to me since we met, and now you pull this shit? What’s wrong with you?” I knew he was right, but honestly I didn’t know why I’d decided to do this. All I knew was that I was glad I’d succeeded in ruining his chance. The crew member made his way out, still laughing a bit, leaving Les and I alone. “C’mon, it was funny” I said, avoiding his eyes. “No, it would’ve been funny if you were my friend. But you’re not, you’ve made that clear from day one. Get out of my room.” He said, laying down and staring up at the ceiling, looking quite sad. I almost felt sorry for him for a moment, but I obeyed his wishes and left him alone.
***
“Mac! Jesus, you’re still asleep? It’s noon already! We need to check out of our rooms in an hour!” I slowly opened my eyes and crawled out of bed before showering and packing the rest of my things up, all the while mentally preparing myself to deal with him again. I hoped he hadn’t told the others about my little prank, it was harmless and funny. I made my way down to the lobby with my bags an hour later, rejoining the others. Will scowled at me, making it clear that Les had indeed told him about the prank. “Not ok, Mac.” He said. Pete appeared unbothered, not wanting to involve himself in our drama. “You should apologise to him” He offered, attempting to play mediator. “Fine. Sorry Les” I didn’t care and wasn’t sorry, but I didn’t enjoy having Will upset at me too. When we got back to Liverpool, Will pulled me aside. “We got a show in Brussels next week; I want you to drive down there with Les.” “What? No! Why should I?” I protested. “We’ve been a band for over a year now and you two still don’t get along at all. It’s getting on me and Pete’s last nerve. Some time alone with each other should do yous some good, get to know each other a bit.”
“Will, that’s EIGHT HOURS of driving!”
“I know. And I don’t expect you to drive back together, just there. Otherwise we’ll find a new singer.”
“You’re implying I’M the problem?” I scowled at him. As if he could find another singer and lyricist as good as me.
“He’s made multiple efforts to get on with you. You’ve been nothing but cold to him since the first day you saw him”
“Because he’s a twat who thinks he’s better than me!” It was clear, however, that I wasn’t going to win the argument and I’d have to make the trip with Les. This was supposed to be my band, and here Will and Pete were making all the decisions for me. Especially Pete, being the newest member and all, who gave him authority?
The week before flew by much too fast for my liking, and before I knew it I was carrying my bag up the walkway to his house. “Mac? The hell are you doing here?” Les asked, shocked. It occurred to me then that Will hadn’t even told him I was coming with him. “Taking the trip with you” I replied, trying my best not to sound irritated. “Oh… uh… ok I guess” he said quietly. He grabbed his own bag, loading it into the tiny two seater car, and a few minutes later we were off. He’d put the top down, and the radio in the back was blasting music. The same music I liked. After about 30 minutes of this, I spoke. “You don’t have to try and impress me with this kind of music, you know” I said, staring out at the green countryside. The wind was pulling my hair back, irritating the hell out of me, and I felt self conscious at how I must look. “I’m not. I like it” he replied, starting to sing along a bit to show he knew the songs too. I liked his singing voice, if I’d be honest with myself. It was soothing in a way. Though not as good as mine of course.

LES
I knew Will had put him up to this, but I didn’t really mind it. It was necessary, and he was being civil enough so far. I glanced over at him, thinking it quite funny to see his hair blown back. He had an innocent face, ethereal almost, with long skinny limbs and rosy cheeks and full lips. He looked like an Angel. Especially in this moment, with the sun in his eyes and the wind in his hair. I looked at him often during concerts, certainly not out of attraction to him, but because his presence at the microphone was mesmerising. When he was singing it was almost like he was an entirely different person, completely taken by the music. It was the only time he didn’t get on my nerves. He caught me looking at him, “staring, are you Pattinson?” He smirked, still not meeting my gaze. I wondered why he never looked me in the eye, it was strange as he seemed to be fine making eye contact with everyone but me. “Nah, I just think it’s funny to see you with your hair all blown back.” I turned to the road again, laughing a bit. He leaned back in his seat, just out of reach of the wind, and shut his eyes, soon enough falling asleep. Typical of him, always sleeping.

MAC
Those blue eyes I’d tried so hard to avoid now gazed intensely into my own, before he pulled me in and kissed me passionately. “Fuck, Les” I moaned in between kisses, running my hands up under his shirt and feeling his perfectly toned body as he pushed me down onto the bed, climbing on top of me and pinning my arms down. “Take me right now” I whispered in his ear, as he undid his trousers and thrust into me. “Oh god! Yes!”
Suddenly I was shaken awake, looking around to see I was still in the car with Les. And all that had been just a dream. “Christ, Mac, what the hell were you dreaming about just then?” he asked me, his eyes fixed on my trousers. I quickly crossed my legs, my face growing bright red. “N-nothing! Just some bird.” I said, hoping I hadn’t talked at all in my sleep. “Must be some bird” He laughed, seemingly believing my lie. I sighed in relief, though now forcing myself to stay awake for the rest of the ride.

LES
“Fuck, Les” Mac said, out of nowhere. I looked over noticing he was still asleep, although not every part of his body was. What on earth was he dreaming about? I shook him awake, questioning him about it. He just blushed and explained he was dreaming about a girl he’d been seeing or whatnot. Sure, a bird named Les. I thought, laughing. Come to think of it, I’d never seen him with anyone. Man or woman. After a few minutes of awkward silence, I decided to ask him a little more about this girl. “So, who is she” I said, smirking. “Uhh… I… she’s blonde. And fit. Can’t recall her name, seen her at Eric’s a few times.” “I think you told me her name” I replied. Now was my chance to get him back for the prank he’d pulled on me. “N- I’ve never mentioned her” he said. He seemed all nervous, more so than I’d ever seen him. It amused me. “I think you have” I replied, stopping the car at the next petrol station. I decided to play a little game with him, out of curiosity. I reached over and grabbed his chin, lightly, just enough so I could turn his head to look at me. “You know, you’ve never really looked me in the eyes before” I said, enjoying the terrified expression in the place of his usual confident one. I gazed deep into his eyes, inching my face closer and closer to his, slowly. He didn’t move, he just froze, closing his eyes as I got as close as possible to him without our faces actually touching. I stayed like that for just a moment, before releasing him from my grasp and getting out of the car to fill up the tank as though nothing had even happened. I looked over at him, still frozen with an expression of shock on his face, and laughed to myself. Who’s got the upper hand now?

MAC
All these questions, Jesus. I must’ve said something, why else would he care so much? My heart was racing in my chest as he pulled into a petrol station, my eyes fixed firmly ahead. Under no circumstances could I look at him after what I’d just dreamt, after what he might now know. Suddenly he grabbed my face, gently, turning my head to look him in the eye. I froze, unable to move or even think. He inched closer and closer to my face, painfully slow. I didn’t know whether he was about to kiss me or what, so I just shut my eyes, bracing myself, with this inexplicable electric current raging through my entire body at his touch. And then just like that, he released me, getting out of the car as if he hadn’t even done anything at all. I tried to process the situation to no avail, wondering if I’d just hallucinated the whole thing. I must’ve looked a sorry sight, my face frozen in an expression of horror. A moment later, he got back in the car and we were off again, the rest of the drive passing us by in silence apart from the music on the radio. I decided when we returned I’d need to find a girlfriend immediately, to prove to him that I’m not gay and that he has no power over me.
***
“‘Scuse me, who’s that blonde over there?” I asked, gesturing towards a pretty enough girl standing at the bar. “Dunno her. Why? You like her?” I was enjoying a night out with my friend Gary. He was nice, unlike his bandmate Julian who I’d still been holding a grudge against. I desperately needed some time away from Les, and was keeping an eye out for any attractive girls. Anything to get my mind off him and what had happened on that road trip, and to prove to him as well as myself that the dream had only been a dream, uncontrollable and unwanted. “She’s fit, from what I can see anyway.” I said. Gary just laughed, getting up and making his way over to the girl who was with her friend. I saw him talking to her and gesturing over at me, though I couldn’t hear what they were saying. Nor could I see her facial expressions that well. Damn my eyesight. After a while, he came back over with the girl and her friend. “Mac, this is Lorraine” He said, before leaving us alone to chat. We ended up hitting it off quite well, and making plans to meet again. I strategically placed our date on a day when I was sure Les would be at Eric’s, wanting him to see us together so he’d get the idea.

LES
“Who’s that with Mac?” Pete asked. I turned to see him walking up to the bar with a beautiful blonde on his arm. For reasons I can’t explain, the sight of them filled me with anger. I’d never met the girl, but I hated her. “No idea” said Will, making his way over to them. Pete and I followed. “This is Lorraine, my girlfriend” Mac said, smirking as he looked directly at me before kissing her passionately. “Mac, have some decency, we’re in public” I said, trying to sound calm. “Sorry” He said, still grinning though his eyes were now fixed on the girl. “I’m knackered, think I’ll call it a night early” I said, quickly storming out before any of them could reply. As I made my way home, tears filled my eyes. I couldn’t explain it, something just felt horribly wrong with this situation. I explained it as a fear that this Lorraine girl would divide the band, that she’d take away from our creative force by taking up all of Mac’s time, but something in the back of my mind told me it was more than that. That it was because I wanted Mac’s time for myself. I barely slept that night, tossing and turning at the thought of the two of them going home together. I didn’t know why it bothered me so much, I should be glad that he’s found someone. I’d only met her for a few minutes, maybe she’d do him some good. As the hours ticked by though, I lost all sense of rationality. I wanted that girl gone out of his life.

MAC
“Your bandmates will be here? I’m so excited to meet them all!” Lorraine said happily as we made our way over to the bar. “Yeah, I think you’ll like them” I said, smiling. I liked this girl, she was funny and easygoing; our personalities seemed to fit very well together. But still, my thoughts were mainly of Les. I was just dying to see his reaction when we walked in. When the three of them made their way over to us, I introduced Lorraine to them as my girlfriend. Despite us not having had that talk yet, I didn’t care. It was more dramatic that way, and I figured it would certainly enrage Les. I was right, I watched his face turn to an expression of rage as I made direct eye contact with him before kissing her deeply, with tongue, making sure he was watching. “Have some decency, we’re in public” he said, a hint of pain in his voice thinly veiled in an effort to sound calm. “Sorry” I replied, grinning at Lorraine, purposely avoiding looking at him again. I felt slightly guilty, he seemed much more upset than I’d anticipated. “I’m knackered, think I’ll call it a night early” He said after a moment, gone before any of us could even try to convince him to stay. “Hope he’s ok, we only just got here” said Will, looking concerned as Les walked out. “Maybe I should go after him?” Offered Pete, handing me his beer. “Nah don’t, he’ll be fine I’m sure” I said, my arm still around Lorraine though my mood slightly less upbeat than it had been moments ago. I’d done this on purpose to prove a point, though now it was hitting me that I’d used this poor girl who hadn’t any idea that she was in a setup. I decided I’d see it though anyway, take her out a few more times. She was nice enough, and I couldn’t deny I was attracted to her, but something in it didn’t feel completely right. I told myself it was just too early to know. The rest of the night went by slowly, I kept wondering if Les was sound, though doing my best to focus on my date. She seemed happy, obviously not realising anything was up. “Shame about Les” she said as I drove her home, “it was nice getting to know Will and Pete though, they’re great lads.” “Next time, I’ll take you out just us two” I said, kissing her after I parked the car outside the front of her house. “Sounds nice” she smiled, making her way up the walkway. I watched her go, lost in thought for a moment. Wondering to myself why kissing her didn’t spark that same electric current I’d felt when Les had simply touched my face. Nothing really made sense to me anymore.
***
Les didn’t speak to me for a solid week, and I didn’t even see him again until the next band practice. I’d spent most of the days leading up to it with Lorraine, and brought her along with me to the practice as she was curious how we worked together. Les avoided me as much as possible, though shooting the occasional scowl in my direction when he thought I wasn’t paying attention. Lorraine sat pressed up against me, her head rested on my shoulder. She shut her eyes while we played, not sleeping but rather feeling the music. I liked that about her, she had the same love for music as I did. A lot of the same interests too. I figured Les was just jealous that I was able to pull and he was still alone, and probably still bitter about me ruining his chance that one time. “That’s a nice bassline, Les” said Lorraine cheerfully, lifting her head up and smiling in his direction. He ignored her, frowning slightly as he continued to play. She turned to look at me, her eyes saying “he doesn’t like me, does he?” I put my arm around her, whispering in her ear, “he’s just jealous I got someone as fit as you.” She laughed, leaning her head back on my shoulder. Suddenly Les stopped playing, throwing his bass down and storming out of the room without a word. “The hell’s gotten into him?” Will asked, looking over at me. “No clue” I replied, shrugging. “Maybe someone should go check on him, he’s seemed a bit off lately” Pete chimed in, always one to try and keep the peace. Both he and Will looked over at me, making it clear that I’d have to be the one to go talk to him.

LES
All throughout the practice, those two were all over each other. It drove me mad. Who does she think she is? This isn’t her band. She made an effort to compliment me, obviously noticing my disapproval at her presence there. I blatantly ignored her, no way would she interrupt my playing. I glanced over to find Mac whispering in her ear, looking over at me as he did so. She laughed, also looking at me. Fuck this, I’m done I thought, throwing my bass down and storming out. I made my way to an empty room down the hall, slamming the door shut behind me. I leaned against the wall with my head in my hands, hearing the door open a few minutes later. “Piss off, Will. I need a moment for myself”
“Uh… sorry. Just making sure you’re sound” said a voice that definitely wasn’t Will’s or Pete’s. I looked up to see Mac standing in the doorway, without Lorraine. “Clearly I’m not. Just leave it, will you?” I said, hoping he’d just go away. He didn’t, instead shutting the door and sitting beside me. “The hell’s gotten into you? You’ve been acting strange for days now”
“It’s nothing, Mac”
“I don’t believe you”
“Piss off”
He rested his hand on my shoulder, and I moved away.
“Leslie just tell me the truth. I know you have a problem with my girlfriend.”
“No, my problem isn’t with her. It’s with you. You and your ego, always showing off how much better you are than the rest of us. Since day one. I’m sick of it!” I said, near yelling at him. His expression turned from one of concern to hurt.
“Fuck you, Les” He said after a moment of silence, standing up to leave. Damn it. I hadn’t meant to upset him that much. I grabbed hold of his arm in an effort to make him stay, accidentally pulling him on top of me in the process. Both of us lay shocked for a moment, our faces mere centimetres apart. My heart started racing at the contact, but I was frozen, unable to move away. I lost all sense for a moment, closing the distance between us and pressing my lips gently to his without thinking it through. He jumped back a bit, his eyes wide. “Mac, I’m s-“ before I could finish my sentence, he kissed me with more passion than I ever thought possible in my life. I moved us so he was beneath me, pinning him down and grinding my hips against him as I ran my tongue along his bottom lip. He parted them just enough for me to enter, intertwining our tongues. I moaned softly, and he bucked his hips up against me, moving one hand under my shirt and the other through my hair. Suddenly there was a knock at the door, interrupting us from our spell. “Yous sound in there?” Said Will from outside. The two of us shot up, just looking at each other. “Uh, yeah. Just talking” Mac shouted. “Right, hurry up though” He replied, walking off again. “What the hell just happened” I asked Mac, still processing it all. “I… I don’t know” he said. “W-we should head back…” he helped me up and we made our way back to the practice room, both our shirts strategically placed to hide any evidence of the encounter.

MAC
Great, now I’ll have to face Lorraine and pretend nothing happened. I walked back into the room, acting as normal as possible, sitting down next to her and quickly picking up my guitar to cover my lap. The rest of the practice went by without another problem, as both me and Les were too stunned to feel much of anything else. Luckily, Lorraine didn’t seem to notice anything was wrong. I drove her home after, the two of us chatting casually about music. It was surprisingly easy to be around her, and I felt really comfortable despite my confusion about the whole Les situation. “So Mac, what is this” she asked nervously as I pulled up in front of her house. “Like… what are we?” I thought about it briefly, before coming to the conclusion that it would be in my favour to keep her around. “You’re my girlfriend, unless you have any problems with that” I said, smirking. She blushed, trying to hide her smile as she opened the car door. “‘Course I don’t have a problem with that” she replied, giving me a quick kiss before leaving. I drove back home, trying my best to feel content and push all thoughts of Les out of my mind.
***
Some months went by, with Les and I more or less avoiding each other unless it was necessary for us to speak. I made sure I was never alone with him, bringing Lorraine to as many practices and shows as her schedule would permit, which luckily was nearly all of them. I was beginning to actually feel something for her, a love of sorts, though a bit lacking in passion. More like a close friendship. I didn’t mind though, she was the only truly stable thing in my life and I clung onto that as much as I could. We’d started work on our second album by now, and I was convinced it would be the greatest album ever made. Tonight was the last show of our first tour, and though Lorraine wouldn’t be able to make it I wasn’t worried. As we finished our set and the crowd screamed and clapped for me, I felt on top of the world, if only briefly. All I’d thought I ever wanted from life was coming true; I had a beautiful girlfriend, I was fulfilling my dream of being a rockstar, on a fast track to international fame, and my face was already in magazines. Not on the cover quite yet, but it didn’t bother me. I knew it wouldn’t be long. Still, I felt something was missing. Some void in my heart that no amount of bevvies, sex, or praise could fill. “Think this calls for a celebration” Pete said, grinning as we walked offstage, the crowd still going wild behind us. “What’d you have in mind?” I asked him, knowing full well the answer. “Drinks, obviously” he replied. So the four of us headed to the nearest pub. We sat down at the bar together, me and Les on the ends with Will and Pete in between us. “Who you looking at Will?” Pete asked, noticing Will’s eyes had wandered to the corner of the bar. What appeared to be a goth girl was sitting there alone. She was pretty enough but not my type really, from what I could see at least. Will didn’t answer. “The goth bird?” Pete asked, also looking over in her direction. “She’s fit” he stood up to go and talk to her. “I saw her first!” Will said, grabbing Pete’s arm. “You can come too, let her pick” he smiled, obviously knowing full well who she’d choose. I watched them as I drank my beer; it was amusing. The three of them chatted a bit, though she appeared to be turned towards Pete most of the time, touching his arm up and leaning into him. After a while, Will seemed to give up, coming back over to us. “Think I’m gonna head home” He said, looking defeated. I felt bad for him; by far the least attractive of the group, he always went home alone. “There’s always next time” I said, smiling slightly as he left. I watched as Pete and the girl left too after a while, arm in arm. And by now it was just me and Les, still two seats apart. I was too drunk to care at this point, and moved over into the seat next to him. He shifted away from me slightly, without leaving his stool.

LES
Two stools apart. Just enough distance to keep this situation from growing more awkward than it needed to be. I’d decided to head out once I finished my beer, but suddenly I felt Mac move up next to me. I shifted to the far end of my seat. “Ever heard of personal space” I asked him coldly. “I was just tryin’ to get closer to you, Leslie” he said, sounding much more wasted than I was. I hated his use of my full name. I hated his use of my name at all, lately. His voice had gone from soothing and calm to resembling that of nails on a chalkboard to me in the past months. “Well you’re too fuckin’ close” I said angrily, shifting away even more, as much as my stool would permit without toppling over. He shifted as well, leaning into me and gripping my forearm. I jerked my arm away. “I said back off” I nearly yelled this time, hoping he’d get the message. A few moments went by without another issue, and I returned to my beer, noticing the pub was nearly empty by now. It was just us two and a few old drunkards nursing their 5th-odd glasses of whiskey or whatnot. Suddenly, I felt Mac’s lips brush against my neck ever so lightly, sending shivers down my spine. That’s fucking it I thought. I stood up, grabbing him and turning him to look at me. “I FUCKING WARNED YOU” I screamed, causing everyone left in the pub to stare at me in horror, including Mac, his skinny arm still tightly in my grasp. I tugged him off the barstool roughly, throwing whatever money I had down on the counter and pulling him out the back door, into a dark alleyway. “YOU BARELY SPEAK TO ME FOR MONTHS, YOU BRING THAT BIRD OF YOURS EVERYWHERE WE GO, YOU NEVER OFFERED ME A SINGLE EXPLANATION FOR ANYTHING AND NOW THAT SHE COULDN’T SHOW UP YOU’RE ALL OVER ME AGAIN. FUCK YOU, MAC” I pushed him hard against the brick that made up the wall of the pub. He responded by throwing a punch directly at my lip, and blood started running down my chin. I went to punch him back, before noticing tears streaming down his face, “I’m sorry, Les… I…” he choked out, his voice barely above a whisper, as he slid to the ground and buried his face in his hands. “I- I don’t know what’s wrong with me” He said between sobs. I took pity on him, sitting next to him with my back against the wall. I said nothing, just put my arm around him and pulled him close to me, letting him cry into my shoulder. “I don’t know anything anymore” He whispered. I held him tighter, “me either” I said, turning slightly to look at him. He noticed the blood on my chin and reached up to wipe it away with his thumb. “I’m sorry. Really” he said, his hand still lightly touching my face. I hated how right this sort of closeness with him felt, none of it made sense to me at all. “I don’t love her, you know. Well I do, but not in the way you’re meant to love a bird. More in the way I love Will and Pete.” he said after a few moments of silence. It hurt that he didn’t mention my name, as if he didn’t consider me to be someone he loved. I moved slightly away from him again, staring at the wall deep in thought. I was aware he hated me, it shouldn’t have come as a shock to not have been mentioned, but it hurt nonetheless. “Are you gonna tell her that?“ I asked, without making eye contact. “I can’t. I need… I need to keep her around. My family would…” suddenly it hit me what he’d meant. He loved me in the way he was supposed to love her. “You’re sure you can’t love her properly?” I asked him, wrapping my arm around him again. “It just… it doesn’t feel right. Not like this…” he said the last words so quietly it was barely audible, his innocent brown eyes looking up at me in the dim light, still red from crying. I never wanted to let him go, I wouldn’t have cared much if the two of us had died just then in that alley, wrapped in each other’s arms. Free from the ancient morals imposed on us by society, from all the stigma and judgments and hate. I knew that once we returned home we’d have to go back to how it was, to pretending there was nothing between us, denying the feelings that overwhelmed me every time I so much as looked at him. “I do love you, Les” he said before kissing me softly. “More than anyone else.”

MAC
I never wanted to leave the comfort of his arms. “I do love you, Les” I said, barely able to get the words out without sobbing. I placed a gentle kiss to his lips, tears once again streaming down my face. “More than anyone else.” He pulled me as close as he possibly could, kissing me with everything he had in him, holding nothing back. I’d never been so overwhelmed with emotion in my life, a mix of the deepest sadness I’d ever felt and pure unrivalled devotion to him. He pushed me down against the cold ground, climbing on top of me in much the same way he had all those months before as his tongue intertwined with my own, only this time we didn’t care if we’d be caught. We didn’t think of anyone but each other. It was mid-January, and colder than usual, but the heat of his body on top of my own made the chill in the air unnoticeable. “Les… Leslie” I moaned in his ear, “take me, right now.” He undid his trousers before helping me with my own. “You’re sure you want this?” He said, looking me in the eyes. “Fuck, of course I do. I’ve wanted nothing more since I met you, I just wouldn’t let myself admit it” I said breathlessly before pulling him in for another kiss. Each one deeper than the one before, both of us knowing this would be the first and likely the last time we could ever be together like this. He was extremely gentle with me as he thrust himself into me, kissing my neck for a while before moving back up to my lips again. In all the months since I’d met Lorraine, it had never felt so right with her. Waves of intense pleasure like I’d never known it before coursed through my veins. “Les, fuck” I moaned, a bit too loudly. He kissed me again in an effort to silence me, knowing full well the consequences if we were caught. Somehow, the idea of this turned me on even more. Everything seemed to fade around us as he went faster and faster, both of us reaching orgasm at the same time before collapsing in each other’s arms, a mess of blood, sweat, tears, and each other’s come. He held me close, looking deep into my eyes, and I began to cry again. The realisation set in once again that I could never truly be his, nor he mine. I clung to him as tight as I could, both of us sobbing and kissing again and again, unwilling to get up and return to the cruel reality of tomorrow.
***
The next day, I returned back home to Lorraine, both me and Les having agreed to act as though nothing happened. It was out of our systems now, we were drunk, etc. etc., we’d talked it all through. Deep down I knew it was all bullshit, and knew it was the same for him, but what else could we do? We were civil enough with each other in the next weeks, admittedly on better terms than we’d been before that night, though still never alone together. We both avoided it at all costs, an unspoken rule. Eventually Lorraine and I moved in together, making it all the easier to avoid any possible drunken mistakes; he was living with Will and Pete, and I was living with her. There was nowhere we could go anymore. Stupidly, however, neither of us had considered one important detail: touring.
“Alright lads, you’ll be playing a festival in France” our manager told us, fairly last minute which wasn’t exactly uncommon for him. I glanced over at Lorraine, about to invite her along when she looked at me, “I can’t go, I have work” she said, looking a bit sad. “It’s fine, it’s only a few days. And we’ll have plenty more” I reassured her, pulling her into a hug. A week later, we were off to France on our heaven up here tour to play this massive outdoor festival. And because it was a massive outdoor festival, there were drugs. Tons and tons of drugs. Pete managed to get a hold of some weed, which we all had a bit of before we went on. In my case, it was more than just a bit; and mixed with the multiple beers I’d downed before it I was beyond out of it by the time we got on stage.

LES
Mac could barely stand up as we walked on stage. He had a handkerchief tied around his head, which looked awfully silly but he didn’t seem to care much, and he could barely stop laughing long enough to form a sentence. I was worried it would affect the performance, I’d seen him drunk before many many times but never like this, and never before a show. As we began our set however, his voice was good as ever, and his rhythm guitar, despite being slightly more erratic than usual, sounded amazing and perfectly fit the vibe of the festival. He played the thing so angrily I thought the strings would break. Everything was going fairly well, until we got to the title track. Midway through the song, he stopped singing and began making these whorish moans and screams as he hit his head over and over, causing the handkerchief to fall to the ground. I fixed my eyes on a random member of the audience, desperately trying to ignore him and focus on my playing. And then, once I’d calmed down again, we began the next song. Mac lifted his guitar off him, shedding his plaid shirt to reveal a black undershirt with an interesting cut. This man knows exactly what he’s doing. I thought to myself, focusing as much as I could on the strings of my bass. Once again, midway through the song, he put his guitar down again and began pulling at his shirt, revealing his skinny shoulders and dancing around me, far enough away to avoid any strange looks or rumours but too close for comfort. I just watched him, barely able to play. I adjusted my bass slightly, covering my lust for him. Eventually, he stopped this dancing and returned to the microphone:
“When I fall in love, it will be forever, or I’ll never fall in love with you”
With each word, he got closer and closer to the mic, and by the last “with you, with you, with you” he was nearly putting the whole thing in his mouth. At this point I didn’t even care anymore. He was provoking me, on purpose. That much was obvious. He saw this as a game, and it was a game I would gladly play. After we finished our set and walked backstage, I quickly pulled him into an empty dressing room, pinning him against the wall. “You want to play games with me, huh? I can play them right back” I whispered, kissing and biting down his neck. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t care. He moaned, pulling me in closer to him and grinding against me lightly. It became increasingly clear to me that there was no way I’d ever really be able to go back to normal life, I needed him and he needed me. He reached his hands up under my shirt after a while, before lifting it off over my head and kissing all the way down from my lips to where my trousers began, undoing them and pulling them down before taking every inch of me deep into his mouth. “Jesus, Mac” I tried my hardest to be quiet, as the pleasure of his tongue running down my length, swirling around my tip, and his lips alternating pressure in the perfect rhythm became nearly too much to bear. I didn’t even hear the door handle turn.

MAC
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as the door started to open, not caring enough to stop. I took him even deeper in my mouth, all the way to the back of my throat, watching out of the corner of my eye as Pete walked in. I watched his eyes grow wide in shock as he saw us, but he said nothing, just quietly left the room. I shifted my focus to Les’s tip, circling it with my tongue and adding my hand. “M-Mac… fuck! I’m gonna..” I took him deep once more as he came endlessly into my mouth, swallowing every last drop. Wiping my face off, I stood up again and kissed him. He didn’t mind, tugging gently on my hair as he slid his tongue between my lips. There was a knock at the door, “uh.. you might want to hurry up” Said Pete nervously. “Sure, be right out” shouted Les, probably still unaware that Pete had seen us. I wondered what he’d say, if anything. Les pulled his shirt back on and headed towards the door. I grabbed his arm, “Les…” He turned to face me, his blue eyes meeting mine. “I think we should… I don’t think I can…” he smiled, though I couldn’t get the words out it was clear he knew what I meant.
“I can’t stay away from you either, Mac. It’s impossible. Every time I’m not with you you’re all I think about”
“You think we can make somethin’ work?”
“I don’t know. But I want to try anyway. We have to”
I walked out first, and Pete looked at me knowingly. “Mac… come here, you have to see this” He said, grabbing my arm and pulling me with him until we were out of earshot of the others. “I…” I started, unsure how I’d explain it. “No, I know. I know everything, have for a while now. I mean c’mon, your lyrics aren’t nearly as vague as you like to think they are. I won’t tell anyone, just try not to let it get in the way of any band related stuff ok?”
“Yeah, thanks” I smiled at him. “Wait… does Will know?”
“No, he still thinks you two hate each other” Pete laughed, “It’s funny, I could feel the sexual tension between you two from the first day I met you all.”
***
Will drove the van on the way back, at Pete’s insistence, so Les and I could spend the entire drive wrapped tightly in each other’s arms.