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Candy Striped Hell

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~*Serious Like a Bitch*~



It’s his phone that wakes him up, not his three different alarm clocks, or Mike’s banging on the door, twice.

Fever blares out from somewhere under his pillow, and propels him face first out of the dream he was having about Cabo, and white sand beaches. Shit, he’s gotta stop letting Cam near his phone – she’s always doing dumb shit like that, changing his ‘tones. The phone keeps on vibrating, rattling his skull because he won’t move his head from the pillow while he searches for the phone from hell one handed. He finds it teetering on the edge before going down the back of his mattress, and that’s one hell of a good save, because he has no idea what the hell is down the back of the bed. It’s been two years since he checked, and he doesn’t know in the name of God above could be growing in the seething mass of shit that got shoved there.

“Speak, fucker.” He’s still knackered, and is not in the mood to be polite to whoever woke him up at… he checks the time on the screen… eight in the morning, fuck it all. He wanted to sleep until midday, at the earliest.

“You know, one day you’re gonna answer like that to your mama, and she ain’t gonna like it.” It’s Sutan. Bright, and pervasive as sunlight into his sleep deprived mind, Sutan has officially made Tommy’s hate list for today.

“Yeah, well, you’re my Tranma not my mama, so bite me.” He rolls over, now on his back in the middle of the bed. The sunlight peeks in around the two layers of blackout curtains and he raises his middle finger at it. Now he’ll never be able to get back to sleep. He debates on the merits on getting up for a piss. Can he truly be bothered?

“That’s me, and only if you’re good~” Sutan trills at him, slurping at something that sounds suspiciously like…

“Is that coffee I can hear?” Tommy Joe has a preternatural ability to tell when there’s coffee around, and Sutan makes it just the way he likes it; cream laden, sugared up to the max, and with a chocolate dusting over beautiful, deep French roast. He’s practically drooling just thinking about it. Hot, sweet and soooo gooood…

“If you get that flat ass out of bed and in the shower in the next fifteen minutes, I can have one here with your name on it just like that!” Sutan snaps his fingers, and Tommy Joe has to wipe the metaphorical drool from his chin at the thought of one of those coffees at this time of the morning. “I’ve got full-fat cream here and Belgian chocolate to dust it with…” Temptation has Tommy by the nuts.

“I love you, you know that?” He would cross hot coals barefoot and blindfolded for one of Sutan’s excellent coffees, and Sutan knows it. Knows it, and loves to torment him with it, regularly. There’s been many a time he’s worn experimental makeup, weird clothes – hell, even drag on one memorable occasion – in exchange for one of those coffees.

“Of course you do, darling. How could you not love me?” Sutan slurps the coffee again, just to make him jealous. “Adam says to tell you that your bodyguards will be there in half an hour, so you need to move that non-existent ass out of your bed, and downstairs. And since when do you have bodyguards, by the way?”

“You haven’t heard?” Tommy is actually no longer horizontal now, sitting on the edge of his bed, trying to locate a pair of jeans that don’t have weird stains on them. Nope, the pair from last night have a pasta stain right in the crotch from when he dropped his dinner before he gave up the pretence of eating and went to bed last night, and the pair by his wardrobe are practically forming sentient life forms on their own. Adam would have a shit fit. Tommy just avoids looking at them.

“I flew in last night from Mexico, darling. Still in the car, on the way to the agency. Nobody’s told me anything. So come on, spill!” Sutan moves the phone away his ear, and Tommy can hear him swearing at the traffic. It’s LA, and it’s just before the work day – the traffic is hell, and Sutan is one of the few people who can still make his way to work in twenty minutes or less. He drives like an Egyptian taxi driver on crack, and they’ve all given up wondering how he manages to do with a coffee in one hand, and fixing his hair with the other. Horns blare in the background before Tommy hears the screech of brakes and Sutan comes back on the phone. “God, LA is insane. Now, tell me how you got bodyguards!” Sutan’s on a mission – Tommy can hear it in his voice. The man is curious as fuck, and he’s like a Rottweiler with a chew toy; he won’t give up for anything,

“I got a stalker.”

He can practically hear Sutan’s mind go to a grinding halt over that one. Probably what it sounded like yesterday when Tommy’s mind did exactly the same thing when he found out as well. It’s two long minutes while Tommy pulls on his jeans, and starts rummaging around his wardrobe for a t-shirt before Sutan speaks again. “You. Got a stalker. You?” The amazement in the voice is tempered by worry, and confusion.

“Yep.” His favourite Metallica t-shirt still smells like tour funk even now and something else as well, and so do all his other favourites. Fuck. He meant to do laundry sometime last week, but he forgot – somewhere in between the boredom and fifty hour marathons of True Blood, CSI, and some other shit that he’s had saved up for a while for his insomnia nights. “Real stalker. Took photos of me and everything.” It’s easier for him to process that now that he’s gotten over the actual implications of being under surveillance by someone he doesn’t know.

“Photos?” The voice on the other end of the line stutters over that word.

“Yep. A lot of them.” He finds a black t-shirt with a silver Celtic cross on the back, and gives it a sniff. For some reason it smells fresh, and Tommy digs further into the back of his closet to find out why. There’s a green duffle and it’s got several more items of clothing stuffed in it. Ah, it’s the bag he took to Adam’s when he stayed over for a weekend last month; they had an epic marathon of films and shit, and just hid away from the world. It was nice. The shirt smells like Adam’s home – warm, spicy, and safe. He pulls it on, because he needs something that makes him feel safe today. He purposefully avoids thinking about the connotations of linking what it means that he thinks of Adam as safe, and reality.

“Okay.” And that right there is telling more than anything else. There’s jokes about crazy fans, and obsessive people; they’ve all laughed about Adam’s weird worshipping glamberts, and all the band have occasionally suggested that one of them might be carried off in the trunk of a car by an obsessive freak, but that’s just joking. That’s just fucking around with friends when there’s security guards, and locks on doors, and bulletproof glass on the windows of the tour bus. The minute it becomes real then Sutan gets serious. Serious like a bitch. “Okay, you’re gonna come in with the bodyguards, right?”

“Yeah, Adam made me leave my car behind at the agency.” He’s actually dressed now; he’s even wearing socks, and shit, so he opens the door and then remembers. “Shoes.” He reminds himself, turning around and reaching for the tallest pair of shoes he can find. He needs something to make him feel taller than the world today; something that will make him able to stand eye to eye with Adam and maybe actually win an argument with the man. For once in his life.

“Don’t wear your creepers today, sweetie.” How the fuck did Sutan know he was reaching for them? “Because when you’re stressed, you wear high heels, darling. More stressed you are, the higher you go.”

Do not, he thinks. And, “They’re creepers. Not high heels.” He feels morally obligated on behalf of his straightness, gender, and non-drag tendencies to point out the difference between the two. Adam can wear medges or what the fuck else he’s calling them, because he’s Adam. Tommy Joe has his creepers, thanks, and they’re not high heels. Girls wear high heels. Girls wear platforms, and wedges, and have different names for whether or not it’s a spike, made of cork, whether it has an inny-bit or an outie-bit, or whether it’s high high, or just high, and what the fuck is the difference is beyond him but men (and he draws an invisible line between men like Tommy Joe and men like Adam because Adam isn’t quite like any other men Tommy fits into his own category) don’t wear high heels. Tommy Joe is a man. Thus he wears creepers. “Why?”

“I dunno. Check your phone, sweetie, Adam says he’s texted you. He just told me to tell you “No creepers for the kitty”!”

“Kit – Wait, what? Kitty?” He’s going to kill Adam when he gets to the agency. Ever since he said it on stage, the fans have run with it, and now Adam’s taken to calling him it to other people! He is not a fucking pretty kitty. He’s not!

“I think he likes it.” No shit, Sutan. “Now, you get dressed, and wear flats, and when you get to the agency we’re going to have a sit down and a talk about this stalker thing.” That’s the last thing he wants to do right now, because that means acknowledging that it’s real, that someone is really there to stalk him. Saying it is one thing. Discussing it brings a whole new level of reality about it that he seriously does. Not. Want. “Sweetie, we need to talk about it.” He knows that Tommy is gonna do everything he can to get out it, so he ups the stakes. “I’ll make you coffee~!” That last bit is a blatant bribe, and he tells Sutan this while searching out for a pair of something flat-ish. “You know it!” Sutan’s coffee will wake the dead for another taste, and Tommy’s a long way from dead.

Sutan hangs up the phone with a “Take care, sweetie.” that’s somehow less sparkly magic and more worried that he probably intended, and Tommy makes a dash for the bathroom before he pisses his only clean pair of pants left. He makes it just in time, and when he’s finished stands in front of the mirror in the hallway, trying to figure out what the fuck his hair is doing today. It’s got a bit in the back that’s gone all flat, but the rest of it is sticking out in every direction including straight up from his shower last night – trying its hardest to be a Mohawk without the gel and hairspray that it actually requires. He scrubs a hand through it, and that really doesn’t improve it; now he looks like he’s had a bad electric shock. Sutan’s gonna love the new look. Not. The man freaked when he went pink.

Fuck it, Adam’ll just mess it up with stroking it, or grabbing it, or running his hands through it again, so why he’s bothering to make an effort, he doesn’t know.

He takes the stairs two at a time, running into his room to try to find a pair of shoes that will meet with Adam’s approval, and suddenly he realises he hasn’t got a single pair that match that description. Even his lowest creepers are at least an inch high, and when Adam says no to them there is usually a good reason. Once it was a beach trip, then a long walk through a park, then a visit to a stable and there’s been many more occasions where Adam’s spontaneously decided on a trip out somewhere, and the glamily is pulled along helplessly in his wake. Especially Tommy. It’s always Tommy that Adam pulls the puppy dog eyes, practically forcing him to agree to go. Fucker knows he can’t say no to him.

Fuck it, he thinks. He can hardly go barefoot, can he? Adam might not mind, but Lane is all about appearances and that won’t fly with her while they’re in LA and not working. He reaches into his wardrobe, rootling through the shit that the bottom to see if he’s got something in there that will meet her approval and Adam’s requirements.

Straining fingers brush against something in the back of the closet, and Tommy gets down on his knees and really reaches for whatever it is. It takes some pulling, but he finally brings whatever it was to the light of his room. Ha! It’s a pair of converse, but they’re his pair from years ago – black and worn out in places, and going grey in others from overuse. He used to love these before he got sick of being a short-ass and started wearing creepers. He slides them on and wonders of wonders, they still fit perfectly. It’s been seven, nearly eight years since he’s worn them – they’re a part of his life long before he met Adam and the glamily; it’s like the meeting of the two halves of his life. The pre- and post-Adam lives he has now. His fingers caress the worn canvas, and he thinks of all the times he’s worn them – running down alleys with old band mates, doing some half ass parkour with men he thought he’d be friends with for life while they’re high as kites, and drunk off their asses. He doesn’t even remember half their names, now.

There’s a knock on the front door, and Tommy can hear Mike banging on the floor of his room. “Answer the fucking door, Ratliff!” he bellows. Tommy sticks a birdie up at Mike’s door as he hurries past, and goes to ‘answer the fucking door’ just as the man asks.

As he suspected, it’s Callum and Robert, hulking out on his porch. The wood creaks ominously under their combined weight, and they don’t look entirely at ease. “You ready, Tommy?”

“Gimme a second.” He pats his pockets – phone, keys, wallet, iPod and headphones; all there – “Yep. I’m good.”

“Right.” Tommy pulls the door shut behind himself, and they walk to the car – the nice BMW from yesterday, with black leather seats, air con, and tinted windows. Callum holds open the back door on the passenger side, and Tommy climbs in. When the door shuts, he takes a deep breath in, releases it slowly and gently. Inside the car is quiet luxury, the peace of money, and the security of a well-made German car. Robert slides into the passenger seat, and Callum starts the car. It rolls away from the curb and Tommy’s house with a deep, rich purr. He digs himself deeper into the comfortable seat, takes his phone out of his pocket and heads straight to his text messages. Just as Sutan said, there’s one there from Adam. He opens it, and an involuntary smile edges his lips half a degree upwards.

Dont worry bout a thing, glitterbby. gonna make sure ur safe 2day. promise <3”

He's holding Adam to that.