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Candy Striped Hell

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Chapter Two


~*Regrets Like Fuck*~


Rewind to a year before the shooting, and life itself is imploding in the wake of the Glam!Nation tour.

They’ve got a second album on the boil - well on the way to completion now, another tour planned for later that year, and life is good.

And someone out there likes Tommy.

Likes him a lot.

He keeps getting presents, which isn’t new in of itself – fans are generous people, and he loves them for it all the more, and while he doesn’t eat the food; Adam’s press staff have dibs on that; he does enjoy the books, DVDs, links and posters he gets sent. If someone wants to send him a handmade knitted figure of himself and Adam, well that’s the fan’s prerogative, and he’ll just stick it on the next tour bus, and tweet about it non-stop, because then he’ll get a whole fucking army of the glamily in knitted form, and Adam thinks they’re kinda cute.

No, whoever this is is determined that he’ll notice these presents, so they’re wrapped in a soft pink and white candy stripe paper, with different coloured bows on them. It takes him a while but he figures out what they mean – gold is food, usually sweets and always red or pink and white striped in some way; red is books; blue is images - DVDs and photos, and green is something he’ll never guess.

Everyone thinks these presents are kinda strange, and Tommy would suspect Adam of sending this shit, but there’s no way in hell Adam could be sending anything what with his schedule as insane as it at the moment. And besides, Adam wouldn’t be so… intimate with the things. Books are one thing, but a DVD of his favourite porn star’s best acts which he’d been wanting for a while, is just something that Adam wouldn’t do. For one thing, she’s blonde, and buxom, and so not Adam’s type that it’s not really funny. So yeah, who the hell else could it be?

He doesn’t eat the sweets, and turns the books over to other people, and binned the DVD as well, because try as he might, the presents are creepily close to his heart – they’re his favourite sweets, his favourite books, his favourite porn star, and it’s like someone knows him so well, but isn’t revealing himself. How could this mysterious stranger know that he loves Stephen King’s Carrie but only the version with the cover of a washed out white image on a red background that is only sold in Europe. How could this person know that he loves candy canes but only the fresh, tart peppermint ones that are handspun using imported flavoured sugar, with cinnamon afterburners in the bottom of the box that’s only sold in one store in LA? How could this person know that he really loves the smell of lavender and sandalwood, and send him candles which are, according to the bottom of the box, genuine handmade candles from Italy, shipped to the office by a courier?

How come this stranger know that he’s addicted to ahem… a certain porn star, when he’s pretty sure he’s never tweeted or even spoken about it with any of his band mates. Hell, he even left all his porn at home when he went on tour the first time, and didn’t let anybody else read his internet history when he was on the tour bus, and in motels and hotels.

He’s started to get just a little bit paranoid but everyone thinks it’s cute, and so he doesn’t raise too much of a fuss over it.

Three days later, he regrets that decision. Regrets it like fuck.

He went out the previous night – to some club he didn’t even know the name of and sat himself down at the bar with the intention of staying out at least three hours, because he cannot take another night of lounging at home, doing fuck all for the fifteenth night on the go. Didn’t get hammered, but got nicely buzzed, a couple of beers, and some whiskey shots, and he hooked up with a nice chick who recognised him from the TV. She didn’t even ask about the stage gay, and that was a big plus in Tommy’s book. Nothing happened in the end, part from some kissing against a wall that got pretty hot and heavy, before she sauntered away, leaving him propped against a wall with a raging hard on and a rapidly departing buzz. Great. He loves women, would happily worship them most nights, but damnit, that’s just fucking unfair for a guy.

But that’s not why he regrets not making a fuss. Nah, he’s okay with that because that’s her right, and she can walk away at any time, and he’ll just go and try again another night with someone else. See, he’s not a misogynistic asshole at all, he knows about women’s rights and he can even respect them. He’s a fucking gentlemen, that’s what he is.

Because the next morning, he arrives in the press office at Adam’s agency, and there’s another present for him, a pink and white striped envelope this time. He rolls his eyes, and gets snarks from Monte and Isaac but they leave it at that, going back to talking to some people in suits and really snooty expressions. They’re far more interested in their own futures right now, and they’ve got some other prospects they need to hash out with the suits, and Tommy’s just fine propping himself up against a column and drinking his coffee with his eyes shut. Adam’s there as well, talking to Lane about tour dates, and album shit that Tommy’s not nearly paid enough to be interested in at this ass-crack-of-dawn time. Seriously. Who the fuck schedules a meeting at eight in the morning? He’s a rocker at heart – and proper rockers do not rise from their pits at least until after twelve.

So yeah, he doesn’t regret not making a fuss, and he’s clutching the envelope with two fingers around his bag of cookies (fuck Adam’s health food lectures, the sun’s only just up, and he wants a sugar hit like two weeks ago) until he steals Monte’s chair at a side table, and puts his coffee down so he can open the envelope and figure out what crazy thing the stranger has sent him this time. He slides a finger under the flap with one hand, and rams a double chocolate and hazelnut half cookie into his mouth with the other. When it comes to food, Tommy Joe Ratliff can multitask like a bitch.

He turns it upside down, and a whole bundle of photos fall out onto the table, at least a hundred of them.

A moment ticks over, and then another, and then another just for variety’s sake. Because this isn’t happening. His cookie doesn’t turn to ash, but it sure gets stickier and less chocolate goodness in his mouth so he has to force it down with a gulp of coffee because this is just… creep-city creep out.  He turns over more of the photos and feels the cookie want to revisit him in short order again.

Because there’s him.

 Him and that chick, her wrapped around him like a second leather jacket. Her stroking his hair in the bar, him giving her his patented half smile. Him on his own in the bar, talking to the bar tender. Him chugging back shots of whiskey, and him on his own in the alley outside, the expression on his face frustrated and his fists clenched after she walked away leaving him hard and wanting. There’s him getting in his piece of shit car on the way home, and him getting out of the car in front of a take-out place, some Chinese place that does wicked dim sum whenever he wants it. Him coming out with a bag of take out, him waving goodbye to the staff, him waiting at a stop light, eating a prawn cracker straight out of the bag, one hand on the wheel, the other out of view in the bag.

And then he goes even colder because there’s him. This morning. Getting coffee, getting back into his car, entering the agency building. Not two hours ago. He wants to throw up.

And then there’s a postcard sized piece of card, and on it is printed, “Was she worth it?” in really shitty calligraphy font.

And then he’s hunched over, feeling really cold, and shaky, and Adam asking him, “Tommy, what’s wrong?” as he kneels beside him on the really nice hardwood floor. Monte picks up one of the photos, “Oh shit,” and Tommy can’t help but think that’s the right sort of senti-fucking-ment, because he’s got a stalker, it’s all official and shit, because the fucker is taking photos of him now.

Monte shoves one of the more general photos from this morning at Adam; him in the coffee shop this morning, and Adam goes very very very still. His hand stops stroking Tommy’s hair, even, for a whole fifteen seconds, and Lane whistles low and long.

“Oh, hell.” Isaac’s got a thing for stating the obvious, but this time it’s true as all… well, hell. Because stalker creep has just gone from about weird, to plain all out freaky, and Tommy is so not down with that. For sure, he’s not down that. He wants his life stalker free, thanks very fucking much.

Lane’s beckoning over one of the secretaries, and Adam’s demanding they call in the police, because as he says, “This is creepy shit, and it’s gotta stop now!” And now Adam’s doing his toppy shit, but Tommy’s just happy with Adam carrying on stroking his head, because that means he can close his eyes and not focus on the world right now. Because the world, right now, is a scary place, and that’s not what he’s cool with. Not at all. He liked the world when the biggest thing he had to worry about was whether or not the barista made his coffee right. He can just stay here, and Adam can keep doing that thing with his hand, because right now, that’s the only thing that’s preventing him from flipping out something weird.

Because, let’s face it, while he’s a big showman inside his head, Tommy Joe knows that Adam is the main man, and the one who everybody loves. Adam’s the one the girls go gaga over. He’s just the bassist, but someone fixating on him like this is just wrong. As much as he loves Adam, he loves being able to go into a store and not be recognised, he likes being able to go to the grocery store and be able to do his thing in peace, not have everyone clambering over shit to get him to sign their boobs (well, okay, maybe a few fantasies about that last one but nobody needs to know that). He’s only there for stage gay and the music. And some other stuff, but that’s not important right now. Adam’s supposed to be the crazy magnet, not him.

Monte is rubbing a hand on his shoulder, and Isaac is looking lost, and Lane is looking fucking pissed, and Adam is practically vibrating with energy right now. Lane comes over again and says, “Police are coming.” And that makes this shit realer than it was five seconds ago, because now the fucking fuzz are coming to take his statement and the photos.

“Tommy.” Someone’s calling his name. “Tommy!” It’s Adam, kneeling down again to look him in the eye. “Lane wants us in one of the conference rooms. We need to move.” And Tommy knows he knows the meaning of those words but right now his brain is just stuck on this, just stuck on the fact that some creep out there is taking photos of him without his permission, and that’s one hell of a brain breaker. “Tommy, we need to move. Stand up.” And suddenly he’s on his feet, and moving in some direction he doesn’t remember discussing, but Monte’s brought his coffee, and Lane’s got his bag of cookies, so he’s not left anything important behind and Adam’s got his hand in his, pulling him along. And he lets him do that, because when Adam’s doing his dommy shit, he’ll not let anything stop him, so it’s easier not to argue.

And maybe Adam'll make it all alright again.Because that's what Adam does.

All Tommy Joe has to is trust.


If only it was that easy.