Want

Several years ago I wrote a trilogy about Depeche Mode. This part, 'Want', is the second, from 2012. When I finished the first, 'SPAL (Sex. Pain. Angel. Love)', I thought that Alan's character was left uncovered, looking a typical anti-hero. But stereotypes are something I do not like, so I decided to show the situation described in SPAL from Alan's viewpoint: what and who he saw as right or wrong, with the benchmark switched.

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5. Chapter 5

 

  Several months had passed.
  Alan was sitting hiding his face with his palm. Depeche Mode gathered in a body. They were listening to Maestro Gore`s demos. All of them: Dave in shorts, jolly as a sandboy, serious Andy, and Miller and staff. They were listening intently:

There's a new game
We like to play you see
A game with added reality
You treat me like a dog
Get me down on my knees
We call it master and servant

  But only Alan was red as a tomato. Maestro Gore felt splendid. Dave was sitting near him, singing the refrain loudly right into Martin`s ear - he loved the provocation indeed. Martin was smiling enigmatically like Mona Lisa and squirmed from time to time when Dave`s breath or lips accidentally touched the sensitive skin under his ear. In Alan`s not so humble opinion, Dave was teasing Martin shamelessly - it was probably even more shameless than Martin`s revelation about their sexual practice. The other people in the room seemed to be truly blind if they couldn`t sense the air melting around those three.

It's a lot like life
This play between the sheets
With you on top and me underneath
Forget all about equality
Let's play master and servant


  The problem was that Alan had a full erection when he heard something like that from Martin. He had it right now, too. He was recalling their last time: when Maestro was in especially fuckful and slightly bombed condition - which did not affect his sensibility to the other man`s caresses at all - and their shagging was a remarkably enchanting extravaganza that time.
“Ha! Ha! Ha!” Dave applauded loudly. “Can we repeat it once more? Mart, you fucking son of a bitch, you rock! Huh, Al?”
“Yes,” Alan said quietly.
“Do you like it?” Dave asked.
“No.” 
  Dave laughed out loud together with Andy and Daniel; they all found Alan`s gloomy face comically funny. 
“Oh, our Mister Good Boy is so embarrassed at our bad manners! Mart! You`ve made him blush!” Dave said sarcastically and started to sing along in the most obscene way he ever could:
“Ooohhh, yeah…come on! Let`s play master and serva-a-ant! Oh, come on, Al, just give it to me!”
“Heh! Heh! Heh! Heh!” Martin sounded loudly and clearly over the others.
“Come back to earth, Alan, baby! People fuck here!” Dave was visibly flattered by Martin`s reaction to his joke, so he continued his mockery with more enthusiasm. “I understand, of course, that you haven`t been told in your conservatoires or by your grandmothers and grandfathers – lifelong members…members of the Royal Geographical Society…of Sussex – that people fuck doggy style, but you`re older than us, you`re a grown-up man, Alan! You could teach us!”
  Martin was already crying with laughter, tears running down his face. Dave actually couldn`t get the whole hysterical humour of the situation for Martin, so he thought it was all about his own, unique and authentically Dave`s, drollery. Thus, he continued to scoff at Alan`s high blood, and delicate psyche, and the fact that a thought of anal-izing someone in a role-playing game shocked him. Martin was holding his belly and whimpering with laughter.
  Alan removed his hand from his face; his lips became thin. He suddenly got so mad that he could hardly suppress the desire to hit Martin in the face right there, in front of everybody, and to say something very scabrous and dirty about how a couple of days ago Martin was kneeling, naked, and giving him his mouth and his ass like a good whore in all thinkable and unthinkable positions, and asking for more. He wanted to jump on Martin, collar him, and lustfully share with Dave his primeval rapture that made him cry hysterically when Martin had said those three and a half sacred words to him. He wanted to look into Dave`s eyes and ask him, “Do YOU know how your own guts and brain can explode from that happiest “I love you” scream under a swish of a leather belt making a fruity slap on a craved defenseless flesh underneath?! From another ecstatic cry, and then swish, and then again a portion of that deadly poison?!  “I. Love. You. Alan.” Do YOU, Dave, know how it can kick a hell out of you and how you spasmodically press your lips together not to sob aloud, just letting euphoric tears silently flow down your cheeks?! Because you go mad from the desire to entwine your body with the one beneath, to sink into your deep kiss, to go further under his skin, and stay like that in your desperate and unsatisfiable thirst for fusion and intimacy. When all you want is to throw off all defensive shackles and to cry like a baby, holding HIM with your whole body. Because that kind of “I love you”, it is killing you. It is totally wrong, because you are the one who has to be the strongest and to give pleasure to the one submissive to you. He shouldn`t be able to feel your limitations and break them, but he does because his “I love you” is much stronger than you can imagine. It`s a step beyond the bounds of sex and sensual delight, on the edge of pain. How to remain who you are and to bring that kind of pleasure? How to remain who you are when it`s tearing up your insides? How to do it when you are going blind with tears, and your hands are so eager to tenderly caress his sensual neck and his lips, and your lips are so willing to kiss his eyes and forehead? Because you mustn`t touch his lips with your own - it`s a taboo, as you will immediately lose control and take him at once in some hysterical oblivion. There it is, only forehead and eyes and neck, moaning desperately through your teeth the primitive: “Love you, love you, love you, baby, with every single cell of my body, with my every move, with my every breath. It`s ME who loves you - you`re just feeling my love, drinking it and getting high from it.” Making another slap, giving pain without giving pain, just to bring maximum pleasure, and hearing an ecstatic confession – all of this is so perversely and unnaturally glorious that you can`t describe it!” And there you go…they hadn`t even fucked each other yet to feel that. Alan hadn`t even fucked Martin but he was about to yell in orgasm.
Alan wanted to explain everything to Dave clearly and vividly and then ask, “Do you fucking know, you, little bastard, that`s the moments worth living for?!”
  Alan sighed and rubbed his face, especially his lips and jaw, because his anguish mingled with a severe attack of sexual frustration. He got fucking hard from it all, and it was a dangerous cocktail. But his good breeding, conservatoires, and grandmothers who were lifelong members of the Royal Geographical Society, as Dave had named them, did their part, so Alan regained his presence of mind. He sighed, staring at his own fingers, and silently asked Miller:
“Do you really think that censorship will admit it into rotation?”
  Miller was replaying “Get me down on my knees” and shaking his head, focused on a song:
“This is good, I think,” he said, “I like it. Das ist gut, as they say here. Well, we`ll tell them this is a deep social satire. They would hardly dare show they don`t get it. Life fucks and rapes all of us in every imaginable position. Topical. Burning. We`ll release it as a single!”
“What the fuck did you just say?!” Martin, Dave, and Andy choired.

***

  Things that happened afterwards were not entirely unexpected for Alan. It entered his life subtly and gently. Too gently and too subtly to decide anything.  Too imperceptibly to realize what had happened. He just walked into the studio one day and saw Dave nervously clutching his beer and giggling uncontrollably. Miller was screaming at him:
“If you ever approach Martin Gore`s home closer than one hundred meters, I will call a policeman!”
“So, one hundred and one are allowed then?” Dave giggled.
“If I see you crawling his way, I will kill you. I`ll kick your guts out!”
  Alan felt his eyebrows rise up in surprise. He had surely missed something from the last time he saw Martin. Dan was freaking mad. Dave looked strange. He was drunk and shaking and acting more weirdly than ever. Y` know, Dave behaving more weirdly than ever – that was a wake-up call! Alan stopped near angry Dan, who was standing in front of Dave with his hands on his sides and his glasses on the tip of his nose.
“Something happened?” Alan asked, but no one paid any attention to him.
  It was even stranger. He started to feel nervous.
“What the hell were you both doing?” Dan asked angrily. “What the frigging fucking hell?!”
  Dave burst out laughing - inadequately under the circumstances, from Alan`s viewpoint – and suddenly poked his finger right into Alan`s belly:
“Ask Alan. He is a MASTER of those things. Oh, he surely can tell you what to do at nights!”
  Alan gloomily slapped Dave`s hand.
“Dave, are you fucking nuts?!” 
“I DON`T CARE WHAT ALAN DOES AT NIGHTS. LET HIM FUCKING SCORCH CARAVAGGIO`S PAINTINGS WITH A BURNER ON HIS FRIDGE IF HE LIKES! But Fletch has never complained about trying to resuscitate Martin after an attempt to intoxicate himself to death after that, fuck you sideways!” 
  Suddenly Dave`s face changed. The corners of his lips were looking down now, like some sad doll`s, and two big heavy teardrops slid down his cheeks. 
“He hates me, Dan!” he said sobbing. “He doesn’t  LOVE ME-E-E-E-E!!! Neither does he love you, by the way.”
  The speed of switch in Dave`s emotions was astonishing. Again Alan had to slap his hand, more angrily.
“Aye aye, sir, Martin told me by himself!”
  Alan felt as if someone kicked his abdomen good - he forgot how to breathe. He hoped that he was still dreaming and all of that wasn`t real. Fucking bullshit. Anyway, he seemed to have managed to save his face, because Dan saw him closely but didn`t show any interest. All his interest was in Dave now.
“Dave, I`ve warned you about Martin, haven`t I?”
“Yeapp.”
“Have you understood?”
“Yeapp.” 
“Now get back to work, Dave!” Dan`s voice became calmer, so it relaxed Alan a bit.
  Dave turned around, heading to the main room, but suddenly froze. 
“Daniel Miller!” he called.
“What do you have to say to me, David?” Dan replied with the tone that could be more suitable for the school for mentally retarded children.
“Dan, why doesn`t he love me?”
“Dave, I`d be a lot more surprised if he`d found a reason to love you. Because I do hate you at the moment! So get thee done! Be gone already!”
“But he did love me!”
  Alan was praying silently to help this evening of revelations come to the fucking end. He had had enough already. But Dave slid his crazy glance at him and said:
“It is HIM who turns Martin against me!”
“Dave, if you are not satisfied with your relationships with other people, it doesn`t surely mean that it`s their fault or someone else`s,” Alan replied quietly and politely. “Who am I to judge you, but have you ever thought that it could be your own fault?” 
  Daniel hee-hawed loudly:
“Oh dear, what would I do with this funny farm without you, Alan!”
  Strangely, but Dave laughed too, although his eyes didn`t show he`d got Alan`s joke.
“Dan! Tell him to love me!” Dave whined half-jokingly, but Dan howled at hearing that. “Dan! You are older than us! He will obey you! Tell him, Dan, damn ya?!”
“Walk your way, Gahan, and don`t try my patience anymore `cause it has its limits!”
  Alan automatically moved down the corridor after Dave, but Daniel called him:
“Alan, come to my room for a couple of seconds. Is anything wrong with you?” Dan sounded very anxious, and Alan followed his gaze to find out he was holding his abdomen tightly, as if he had some colic pain.
“No, I am fine, thank you.”
  He followed Dan.
“Need a pill?” Dan asked. “Don`t bear the pain!”
  Alan started giggling foolishly at that good old parents` advice. “You don`t need to bear the pain!” Oh, dear God, if a pill could help everything! “You don`t need to bear the pain”, huh!
“Don`t worry, I will die anyway,” Alan replied.
“As you wish, lad. But you can call me if you need something. Take a seat; I will not keep you long.”
  Alan sat on a couch near Miller`s table. Dan was sitting on the edge of it, his arms crossed. He rolled up the sleeves of his red checkered shirt and stared at his own wrists thoughtfully. His jaw muscles were moving angrily. Still, when he addressed Alan, his voice was calm and peaceful:
“Alan, it`s just all I wanted to ask. I know you and Martin are pretty close now.”
  Alan felt something stab his belly.
“We are good friends, I think,” he replied.
  Dan looked at him perplexed, for he thought that Alan didn`t need to specify.
“Yeah, that`s what I am talking about. Can you…clarify what happened there? I mean…ask Mart?”
  Alan lifted his eyebrows.
“With God`s help. But what`s wrong, Dan? The last time I saw Martin and Dave and everybody, they were happy and joyful and even not too drunk. What`s happened?”
“Well, from my point, it started like that. I was working early this morning. Later, about noon, I was distracted from my mesmerized staring at a financial report by a human screaming blue murder and the sound of a dull surface hitting a hollow surface. Or vice versa.”
  Alan laughed nervously. Dan continued:
“So, I went out of my office and saw Fletch trying to break Dave`s head against the sink, swearing the most obscene way I ever heard from that gentleman. My ears and brains melted as I tried to imagine all the things Fletch promised to do with him.”
“Ha-ha-ha!” it was so hard for Alan to suppress his laugh.
“So funny, huh?” Dan grumbled.
“I`m sorry, Dan.”
“So, while I was trying to save the face of your irreplaceable frontman and to isolate Fletch, who was out of his mind, Martin called and in a voice of a dying swan told me that he was unable to visit any of his deeply adored work places, for which he was terribly sorry, as he felt slightly sick. You know, I decided it was just a hangover and wanted to fuck him right into his scull for it, but suddenly Fletch asked me not to press Martin. I promised I would be as tender as a mother and would even breastfeed him if Fletch stopped beating the shit out of Dave and explained himself.”
  Alan rubbed his face. He took a bottle of water in one hand and a glass in the other.
“So, what did Fletch say?”
“Fletch announced something like this, “I come. They`re there. The fuck I know what they`re doing; fighting. Yell heard from the beginning of Mart`s street. The door`s locked. I smell a clusterfuck!” Then Dave rushed out of Martin`s door, and Fletch saw Martin trying to make his all-time record for drinking C2H5OH, as much as possible at once – in order to die, as Fletch thought.”
“Oh shit!” the glass fell from Alan`s hands, spilling the water on a carpet. “Excuse me.”
“It`s all right, that was exactly what I said, too.”
“I`ll clean it up,” Alan said and grabbed the broken glass, course cutting himself.
  He froze, for some reason stunned by the sight of his own blood flowing down his finger.
“I`ll do it myself,” Miller pushed him back onto the couch. “I`ve had enough of human losses today in your pack of mates. So, Fletch said he had saved Martin for future generations with a good old two-fingers-up-the-throat method and a cold shower, and had made him sleep it off. In the morning he checked the patient`s vital signs - moaning, swearing, and begging to be shot down - and handed Mart to his mother and sisters, who had just returned from their French leave. He announced that their son and brother poisoned himself with an oatmeal cookie at five o`clock tea, but he was a lot better now, and they could even try to give him some soup or a pair of toasts – and left for the studio.”
“Have I got you right?” Alan asked. “You are trying to say that Martin has displayed a kind of suicidal ideation?”
“I like the way you put it. Yes, some suicidal ideation indeed, with his attempts to die from self-intoxication.”
“But why?” Alan asked. “I`ve never suspected anything like that in him. Why would he do that?”
“That IS exactly what I want you to ask Martin.”
  Alan laughed in a high-pitched voice - absolutely foolishly, in Dan`s view - though it was not typical of him. He wanted to tell Dan that it was easier to teach a lamp post to recite Kant than to have a heart-to-heart talk with Martin. But Miller`s face was dead serious. Alan licked his finger to stop the bleeding - and to hide his smirk, too.
“I just want to know where we`re heading. I mean, does it happen to be so serious? How come those motherfuckers who fight here every day have suddenly become so bleeding fucking sensible?” Dan said. “I want you to talk to him because you are the one who can talk to them all, and they trust you without pretending to have dementia or falling into anabiosis.”
  Alan smirked; he knew what Dan was talking about. Well, he desperately wanted to know the truth already; of course, he had his own personal reasons.  So, he nodded and got back to his work, sucking his finger thoughtfully. He was freaked out, to say the least. “Neither does he love you, Martin told me” was tearing his mind apart and made his heart jump. No, Alan knew Dave was quite a loose-tongued bitch indeed, but why would he misinterpret Martin`s words? There is no smoke without fire. At that point he realized that Martin could have already been dead by then. A wave of nausea swept over him. He suddenly thought his feelings were far too egoistic. He went to the telephone and called Martin; his sister picked up and told him Martin was sleeping. Alan went to his work area somnabulistically - as if he could work today! Why, he imitated some labour orgasm for two hours, but the thought that he was to go and see Martin was haunting him.
  Dave couldn`t be still either. He feared Fletch, and Alan felt strangely sick of him. Dave started to beg permission to go to Ramones’ gig. A cigarette, three coffees, a cigarette; Alan didn’t know why he was staring at the monitor any more.
“Ramones` gig was last week”, cut off Dan. “What did I tell you about Martin?”
“What if he needs something?” Dave suggested. 
“If he needs something, Alan can give it to him!”
“But…why Alan?!” Dave asked more aggressively.
“Because Fletch can`t stay at Martin`s house every night! He has his own life!”
“Dan, no problem with that,” Fletch began, “I am Martin`s neighbour. What`s the point for Alan to go to that ass of Earth? He kind of can be beaten there just because they don`t know his mug yet and he looks like he`s not from the block…”
  But Dan interrupted him:
“I need you today, Fletch, for some financial stuff.”
“It`s not hard for me at all,” Alan gave voice at last.
“So go now!” Dan said impatiently.
“What about me?” asked Dave. But his voice remained the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.
  In the train, Alan had scrutinized The Times, trying to distract himself from thoughts. He read all adverts, including ones for lost pets, counted numbers in stock market data, and meditated for some time on a shot of Lady Diana in a new dress beside her husband. The process captured Alan, and stupid thoughts gnawed at him no more.
  Using a map he reached Martin`s house and knocked on the door. It was opened by a woman who must have been Martin`s mother. He said his name was Alan Charles Wilder, and that he was a musician from London, Martin`s colleague, and that their labour collective had sent him to check on the patient and ask if he needed anything. Even if she was surprised, she didn`t show it.
“Please come in! Thank you, he feels much better now. I don`t think we need help, but once again thank you for your kind attention.”
“It`s our duty. No, it`s nothing, really. I am sorry to disturb you, Mrs Gore. You have such a nice house.”
“Oh, thank you, young man! Give me your jacket, Mr Wilder, I will put it in the wardrobe. Martin`s room is upstairs. Martin!” she called louder, “you have guests from work!”
“Which one?” Martin answered warily.
  The sound of his voice broke the ice inside Alan`s stomach, and it all started to feel so natural as if nothing had happened.  A secret hope that everything would be fine and nothing would ever change rose in him like a phoenix from the ashes. He didn`t realize how much he had been worried until he heard his voice.
“It`s me, Mart,” he said entering the room.
“Al?!”
  Martin was sitting on his bed, one leg under his butt, and playing something absent-mindedly on a guitar. He seemed really fine. Well, he was a little bit pale, and his face in general seemed strange, but in a creative sense the day was obviously more productive for him than for all of them. Alan wished he could ask Martin, “What the heck are you doing, you little motherfucker?! How can you behave so devil-may-carishly?!” But he couldn`t find proper words not to trigger Martin`s emotional outburst – at least until he would know what had provoked Martin`s breakdown. Anyway, it looked like Alan should play a grown-up there. 
“Here I am,” he said gloomily. “How are you?”
“Would you like some tea?” Martin`s mother appeared in the doorway.
“Thank you, Mrs Gore, please don`t worry about me!”
“Oh, Mr Wilder, it`s nothing at all. I`ve just made tea and I`d be glad to treat you to some!”
  Martin stood up from his bed in one fluid motion, put his guitar onto the floor and touched Alan`s shoulder.
“C`mon,” he whispered, “all resistance is vain. It will just prolong your sufferings.”
  Alan followed Martin downstairs, staring at his reddish blond fluffy nape and feeling all range of contradictory emotions at once. 
“Please my mother,” Martin said quietly, but Alan heard it all. “So rarely has she got a chance to talk good English to someone of my friends. She`s happy I`ve met somebody decent at last.”
“Oh, I don`t know, Mart. I am so flattered by your words, but, you know, deep inside I am not sure the fact you`ve met me is a reason to make your mother happy,” Alan retorted sarcastically.
  The loud and joyful “hah-hah-hah-hah” showed that the patient was more alive than dead. 
  Anyway, the strong black tea cheered Alan up, for he had been hungry since the morning. He worked hard on bread and butter and cookies, but it did not prevent him from discussing Lady Di`s new gowns with Mrs Gore – she had also read The Times, including adverts for lost pets and stock market data. Martin`s elder sister hung around them for a while but soon lost all interest in Alan, as he paid no attention to her except mentioning that he had two brothers.
“What do they do for a living?” Mrs Gore asked.
  As soon as she learned they were classical musicians, Mrs Gore melted completely and just sat there and listened to Alan`s story about his studies in musical college. Well, actually he didn`t say he had left his family with some sort of a scandal and hadn`t talked to them for a couple of years by then. He decided this information was excessive at that moment. Probably, he wanted to enjoy the feeling of family warmth he had lost some time ago and now suddenly regained. Alan didn`t have the guts to spoil that magic moment.
  Martin stood silent. His face showed that he was happy to keep quiet for a while, and that he was deeply thankful to Alan for the opportunity. Alan looked at him askance from time to time and noticed that his hands were shaking, but he carried himself well. Leaving out of account that he almost dropped his tea-spoon five times in a row, he bore up inhumanly well.
  Martin`s big white dog came to greet them and ate Alan`s last toast at once. Mrs Gore tried to send the dog out, but he preferred to hide under Martin`s chair, completely forgetting that he was much bigger now. Martin laughed and patted the dog`s neck and ears:
“Go away, boy,” he said, and the dog didn`t try to disagree and left as his master said.
  Alan thanked Mrs Gore for the tea and went back upstairs to Martin`s room.
“So, what`s happened after all?”
  If he didn`t ask now, he would never do.
“Erm...I…probably got drunk,” Martin sat down on his bed again.
“I am aware of that fact,” Alan considered all the pros and cons and sat right near Martin. “That`s not what I am asking you about.”
“I believe I got drunk and…that`s all, that`s it…I am almost sure of it,” Martin repeated.
“Ah, Fletch told us everything. And how he resuscitated you, too,” Alan retorted calmly.
“Everything?” Martin asked.
“Almost,” Alan answered, “but with this almost I can`t sleep, can`t eat, can`t do anything.”
“What?” Martin asked with the most innocent and sad of all the available tones.
“Four simple letters. D-A-V-E.”
“So what?” the same word as it had been, but some thorns were almost showing now on Martin`s skin.
“That is exactly my question, Martin. So what?” Alan asked through the clenched teeth.
“I`ve told you already that nothing happened.”
“Martin,” Alan crossed his arms on his chest nervously, “I hate ultimatums, and I am very sorry, but if you refuse to talk to me right now, I will leave,” Alan was pretty stunned with his own courage to say that, but there was no other way to win. “I will not just leave your room, Martin - I will leave your life in a very wide sense because it all fucking hurts my heart, and you are fucking around. I was not sent to you to play cat and mouse!”
“I can`t talk about that,” Martin moaned silently but desperately. 
“So, I can go now?” Alan asked.
  He stood up to make his intentions clear. Martin embraced his own knee and froze staring bluntly at the wall. The clock was ticking the long seconds away, but he showed no sign of life.
  Alan crossed the room to see Martin`s vinyls. His eyes were blunted; he didn`t see what he was looking at. At that time they all didn`t know yet that Martin was a great professional artist to keep a pause, so Alan just hoped this pause would end before his patience was violently tried. But it was not that simple: Martin stayed in his anabiosis and obviously felt good there. Much better than Alan who was nervously scratching himself; in his heart the hell fire of hate started to rise. He almost reached the door when he heard something he didn`t expect to hear. He hoped that Martin would surrender and say something like ‘please don`t go’.
“Break up with me,” Martin said.
  Alan thought he misheard.
“Leave me. I hurt you. I don`t want to, actually.”
  Well, he was ready to go - until Martin asked him to. Martin`s voice was too serious and calm, but the point was rather harsh, so he sat down on Martin`s bed again. Then he took a pillow and lay down parallel to Martin.
“You know what, Mart?” he said thoughtfully. It had grown dark by that moment, but they didn`t turn on the light. “I know it already. And still, I`m here. Or even that is why I`m here. You know why?”
“Why?” Martin answered with his lips only.
“Because our relationship means something to me. Because it happens that you mean something to me. I know you get sick from that sort of banal talks about love, but I respect you...”
“I don`t deserve any,” Martin replied surprisingly hard but not aggressively.
  Alan even half rose on the bed to see Martin better. Ah, come hell or high water!
“Do you love Dave?”
“I can`t say that I am sure of that fact at the moment,” Martin replied.
  Alan`s guts were turning into hellish spirals, but he decided to survive. He wanted to hear more of what Martin would say.
“I was drunk,” Martin said.
“I think I`ve heard it before,” Alan replied.
“And he came in.”
“Came in?!”
“Through the window,” Martin specified. “Sometimes it`s easier to go in or out here. I use this way myself quite often.”
“Never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo,” Alan recited, looking outside Martin`s window to see the way with his own eyes. 
“Well…he knows everything about us,” Martin said calmly.
  Alan nodded. He had already realized that, but he couldn`t understand why the fact was so shocking for Dave. Well, that interested him most.
“He asked why am I worse than him. I mean, why is he worse.”
  Oh, it explained everything. Alan bit his thumb not to spit out something that he would regret.
“Why is he worse than you?” Martin scratched his knee thoughtfully. “I can`t answer such sort of questions, to be honest. So, he asked why he couldn`t have what you have.”
“What is it?”
“It is me.”
  Alan had to confess that no breathtaking thriller could compare to Martin`s monotonous speech. 
“And what happened next?” he asked through the gritted teeth.
“Nothing,” Martin answered. “Well, something had happened, actually. But I felt really sick. I don`t know what I did wrong, but I have never been hurt so deeply…I`ve never felt so…”
“Fucked up,” Alan prompted.
“Fucked up,” Martin agreed.
“You love Dave,” Alan repeated, and it wasn`t a question any more, although Martin answered:
“I`ve never put it that way.”
  The worst thing was Alan knew Martin wasn`t lying. At the same time, he didn`t disagree. So, that was a question of terminology. 
“May I smoke?”
“To the window.”
  They both turned round to some hands-and-knees positions and shoved their faces outside the window, staring at the street lamp light like a lump on a log and trying to light cigarettes with trembling hands.
  Alan realized that now he had three feelings at once, and he fucking didn`t have a clue what to do. He knew that the band had formed long ago before he joined them, and they had their laws and limitations. He understood it was not that simple with Vince, too: in fact, those charming nice guys, Dave, Martin and his personal assistant Fletch, pushed him out. Dave, Martin, Fletch…ah, he almost forgot Dan. Dan was on Martin`s side now as well. Dave treasured too much his position of the second person in the hierarchy, and Martin never pushed anyone, although he was pretty suggestible. Up to a point. He had his inner core, and if he had it, you could try to knock a nail into his forehead - he`d probably miss it.
  Alan knew that Dave was unwilling to give Martin to him mostly because of that - Martin was something that was his. His, not Alan`s. So…that`s why he actually went to Martin`s place to finish their relationship but then suddenly saw he had no reason to think that Martin was dishonest with him. Everything had happened exactly how he told Alan!
  So, he knew now that Martin didn`t lie to him. And if he said that nothing had been between them two, Alan had to believe him. There couldn’t be, aside from some sort of interest in each other, and there wouldn`t if he hadn`t appeared. He, Alan, diverted Martin`s attention from Dave and became more interesting for him than Dave was. Nothing would ever happen between Martin and Dave. He felt it was his fault that it had happened between them that day. Dave`s feelings were so awfully animal and predictable; but then, he felt jealous indeed for his sudden rival, because Martin`s feelings were never predictable. To be honest, Alan felt like telling Martin that without him those games with Dave would hardly continue, but the thought that he could go down that far to play at the same field with Dave made him sick.
  Anyway, it was him who had tea with Mrs Gore, and it was him, not Dave, who was now standing on all fours with his ass in the air on Martin`s bed and smoking at his side in some mutual fucking withdrawal.
  It was dark outside. The street lamp light hit his eyes too bright. Alan looked at his watch and realized that it was almost nine o`clock. What a surprise! He thought that only half an hour had passed from that tea ceremony. 
“I have to go, I think,” he said hesitating, for he felt uncomfortable to hang around Basildon at night.
  If he had to go, he had to go now!
“I don`t want you to go,” Martin said.
“You said “leave me”, that was what you said,” Alan replied. “You made me sure that you are going to get rid of me.”
“I didn`t mean it.”
  Alan`s sarcastic manipulation didn`t impress Martin much.
“I will never tell you to leave of my own will.”
  Wow, that sounded like words of love. Besides, it started raining outside, and there, in Martin`s room, it was warm. It strangely felt like home. Alan didn`t know what would happen next - he just thought that to stay was the best idea ever. Even if he would blame himself the next day, it looked great! 
“I find your original idea to canoodle, as you could name it, with your family behind the wall pretty perverted,” he told Martin laughing.
“We will be quiet,” Martin said, sending his cigarette stub somewhere over the neighbours` fence.
  Alan wanted to comment against it, but he had a choice - to eat his own stub or to end running around the house and asking where to drown it; so, he just repeated the manoeuvre. Martin shut down the window, and Alan grabbed his leg right over his knee not to let Martin stand up.
“And fast.”
“I can`t be quiet with you,” huskily said Alan.
“I am a boy. I can find something to shut you up,” cynically but tenderly Martin said, moving his leg to escape, but Alan just tightened his grip, making Martin fall down on him. He was caressing Martin`s thigh through his pants from the inside, just where it was necessary. Martin gasped over his ear, and it obviously made his day.
“Or you can sleep on a folding bed, if that so…” 
“I believe a folding bed will be creaking far too loud if I do,” Alan found his lips, feeling that they were searching for his, too.
  They twisted in a tight lock, unable to be apart even for a second, because when they did, it felt like being cut off from a magical fresh spring. Their bodies came to life as their lips entwined. Alan put his palms under the belt of Martin`s light-blue jeans, and now they were lying somewhere beneath his waist. Martin`s lips slid down onto his chest, kissing it in the shirt opening and making Alan arch his back and draw his hands down further, unashamedly displaying his desire.
  He felt wanted as always. And he felt skilful. That was the thing that got him hooked on Martin, apart from the pure pleasure of shagging someone. Alan wasn`t much more experienced at that time. He four-flushed like hell because he got hard from Martin`s interested stare addressed to him. He was afraid he would lose his courage in the process…but he actually forgot about it. It seemed so natural, what they both were doing. Not at the point that it did not turn him on - oh, fuck no! Of course, he would go insane from the thrill he felt when sitting all day and planning their next encounter; but it just all happened so naturally. It was easier with Martin than with a girl, because Martin was a guy; he knew what the other guy wanted, and Alan knew that too. He learned to see what Martin wanted just from the look on his eyes. It wasn`t difficult because Martin was hard every time, almost.
  When Alan started to see Martin from the sexually frustrated point of view, even he was surprised to know how often Martin appealed to sex in his own routine behaviour. Martin`s long stare; the way he licked his lips; his manner of speech, probably annoying at first, slow and arrogant and provoking, hiding all the sins under the baby-like appearance, shining with the most charming of the smiles. All those Martin`s features suddenly were brought in a sensual alignment, and Alan realized that it all was for a good reason. Martin wasn`t flirting with people, but he made them think about sex. Up to a point, he made them think about sex with him. Devil may know if he realized it himself – barely, Alan thought; it was just his nature.
  Martin was like a cat. Independent when full up, and so greedy for caresses. Why not stroke a cat? See, he`s hanging around, purring, and fawning upon you? You are a frigging asshole if you don`t stroke the cat - it`s against  human nature! But if you don`t want to stroke him, he has never meant it; he just would fuck you and the fact that you exist, too!
  If even Alan himself gave up his brain to the pleasure of that cat and only months later realized what he had done, Dave with his animal sensuality was moving towards Martin`s call instinctively. Unlike Alan, Dave was totally free from self-reflection bouts and pangs of humiliated self-conscious that had to follow the sordid desires of its master. Dave would fuck those kind of problems and let go! He didn`t give a damn that this sex-appeal wasn`t applied to him alone. Alan saw that Fletch behaved like enchanted; sometimes even Dan, whose attitude to Martin was sceptical enough, acted as if Martin put them all under some sort of mass hypnosis.
  But Alan was the one who suffered most, for aside of him no one associated all this Martin`s sex-appeal with the reminiscence of his naked skin against their naked skin; convulsive breathing; whimpering in unison with the rhythm of their over-excited cock; his rushing heart under their hand; his sweetest moans exploding in their mind. Alan was the one to suffer from the fact that seeing Martin`s stare under those heavy eyelids with long fair eyelashes and his mouth swollen from their kisses, he desperately wanted to lay that body precisely and cynically on a control board and make with it all that he really wanted to.

***

  Anyway, they had to break their kiss. Alan was standing in the center of Martin`s room in a penalty position, smiling like a retarded and covering his erection with the Iggy Pop`s The Idiot vinyl. Martin was playing mommy`s good boy, and Alan couldn`t help enjoying such a hypocritical artistic action.
  Oh, it is so dangerous in Basildon at night! And his colleague lived so far from here! Alan slobbered over a variegated pillow-case on his folding bed when trying to help Mrs Gore, shifting the vinyl from one hand to the other. Martin was biting his lips not to burst out laughing, because unlike Mrs Gore he perfectly felt Alan`s pain and passion for Iggy Pop`s works at that moment. So, when at last the beds were made and the lights turned off, Alan jumped to the door, locking it with a key and swearing quietly, dived to Martin`s bed under his blanket, silently grabbed him, and pulled him atop of himself, continuing just from the place they`d intermitted.
  They woke up with the third ring of the alarm clock, swearing and trying to get dressed and eat something on the run. Fletch was waiting on the corner of the street on the way to the station, impatiently passing up and down a Bazildon side road. Well, Fletch was waiting for Martin, actually. He was surprised to see Alan, but there was no time for a sophisticated small talk, as their train was to leave in ten minutes or so; besides, sleepy and malicious Alan was not in the mood to talk, so he just shook Fletch`s hand and kind of greeted him. Fletch shook Martin` hand as well and spit:
“Hurry up, we are almost late.”
  And ran up the street at a noble pace. Martin was somehow bouncing beside him, and Alan was trying to accommodate, changing his allure from Fletch`s to Martin`s but anyway feeling rather uncomfortable. So, when they reached their train, he was so tired that he just crashed out onto Fletcher`s shoulder as soon as they found their seats. Martin was sleeping opposite, with his face pressed against the train window.

***

I want to see you insert yourself into glory.
I want your touches to scar me so I'll know where you've been.

 
Those images of the past, one brighter than another, filled Alan`s mind unexpectedly. He was sitting in Miller`s office aware of the date, but alcohol warmth flowing down his body was the best lubricant for his memories, making them bloom like a spring garden.
  Miller`s voice was soothing. He was speaking about Martin`s divorce and all that Santa Barbara soap opera. He told Alan about the musician fired by Martin and gone right to Dave`s open arms. About life and customs in the village of California, and also about all Mr Gore`s escapades. Alan laughed at this heart-wrenching tragedy. No, it was not comradely, and it wasn`t good in a masculine way at all, but he was happy that Martin had divorced Susanne. Well, Miller was really worried about Martin`s drinking too much now - in his case it did mean something! He had never appeared onstage without having had a bottle or two, as he knew him, and he was almost sober. As Martin explained, that helped him release terror.
 “You fear people?” Alan used to ask him.
“No. It`s nothing in particular. Just…I just fear.”
  Alan would laugh at him until he saw Martin`s panic attack with his own eyes. After that he decided it would be really better to let Martin drink. It wasn`t that obvious, by the way, whether he was drunk or not. When they were young, one could never see that clearly in any of them. They never behaved more inadequate than they were when they were buzzed. Although, were they adequate when sober at all?
  Miller told him the story of Martin`s deadly combat for his children and of division of property. 
“One must be an idiot to divorce in California!” Alan said.
“That was exactly what I`d said,” Dan nodded. “Martin told me that one must be an idiot to be born Martin Gore. I couldn`t find an answer to that.”
  Alan hooted with laughter. He couldn`t help it. He was laughing loud, and tears were flowing down his face. He probably hadn`t laughed like that for ten years or more. Unaccustomed, he even felt bad from that kind of wicked laughter - he was fighting for his breath now, and his stomach hurt. 
“Shall I pour you some more whiskey?” Miller asked carefully.
“Go ahead!” Alan answered.
“Actually, I was quite surprised that he started talking about you,” Miller`s tone was very serious now. “Jonathan told me that Martin`s Santa Barbarian boozing companions confessed they were forbidden even from saying your name.”
“Oh, now, that`s something interesting,” Alan smirked.
  Miller was probably afraid to hurt him by telling that, but Alan wasn`t hurt at all. So, HIS feelings were still alive. Even if they were closer to hate, that was much better than nothing.
“So he asked you to talk to me, right?”
  Maybe it was the booze, but Alan felt that long-forgotten feeling of inadequate rapture was starting to warm him up inside.

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