Categories > Celebrities > Motley Crue > Shameful Metaphors

Danger (This is Hollywood)

by LauraiSlaxl 1 review

Nikki and Tommy's relationship comes to a head, and decisions must be made.

Category: Motley Crue - Rating: R - Genres: Angst,Drama - Warnings: [V] [X] [R] [Y] - Published: 2018-06-24 - Updated: 2018-06-24 - 7755 words - Complete

A/N: So... here we are.

I know it's unusual for someone to come back after seven years and update a fic, but this one has never let me go, even after all these years. I wrote this entire chapter in a day. I think a large part of why I didn't complete this fic when I was in high school was because I couldn't figure out an ending for it. This is likely not an ending I would've come up with at eighteen. But I hope y'all enjoy anyway.


“There’s a letter here.” A tight line appears between Nikki’s eyebrows as he pulls it out. “It’s addressed to both of us.” His mouth tenses. “It’s from Randall.”

My first instinct is to reach over and take it, but I manage to rein that in pretty quick. Sticking my hands in my jeans I watch him use one long fingernail to rip the envelope open at its top. He pulls the letter out, sticks the envelope in his own pocket. I wonder if he’ll use it later to cut lines or snort his heroin. Or if he’ll just burn it, watching the ashes and the sparks slide into the night on his balcony. Either way, I know I’m going to be in trouble because Randall knows our address, and because he had the audacity to write to us. Nikki can’t stand him. I feel sick.

His eyes scan the contents of the letter, lips moving silently for a moment over the words. When he rolls his eyes I begin to relax a little; when he hands the letter to me with a disgusted snort I know I’m in the clear. But when I start to read it myself he grabs my wrist and jerks me forward.

“Not here,” he snaps. “You read so fuckin’ slow, by the time you’re done half the building’s gonna try to sell to you.” He pulls me in the direction of the stairs. “Come on.”

We leave the lobby, where the P.O. boxes are stacked in dirty rusted confusion beside a long-unmanned front desk, slathered in graffiti and skid marks of various unclean origins. Upstairs in his room it only smells marginally cleaner—sex, burnt metal, leather, unwashed shirts. The stench of a two-week old bowl under his bed, covered in the last dredges of yogurt he either forgot to wash out or simply couldn’t be bothered. It always takes a few seconds to get used to the onslaught of odors when first walking in. But I know better now than to cover my nose.

When he’s locked his door behind us I sit on the edge of our still-unmade bed and read Randall’s letter while Nikki puts up his leather jacket and goes into the bathroom. Dear Tommy, it says, and Nikki:

Please accept this cordial invitation to my and Sheri’s Thanksgiving dinner.
Sheri is his girlfriend, the one I can hardly believe exists at times. He barely talks about her; I’m surprised she’s even being given credit in this letter. It will start at six-thirty on the twenty-fourth. Casual dress. Wear loose clothes! Then his and Sheri’s address, and his looping signature.

I set the letter down on the bedside table; walk into the bathroom. Nikki is doing his hair in the mirror; he’s got a show in a few hours. Aquanet hisses from the can, clouds the small space. His free hand is in his hair, teasing at the ends with those long fingers, the nails painted jet black, the skin a little smeared with dye because he forgot to put gloves on last week when he was retouching his roots. His eyes are haunted in his reflection. He looks so exhausted I chance wrapping my arms around him. It makes him jerk, but he doesn’t turn and hit me, so I count it as a win.

“Shit, Lee…”

I sigh into his skin. Sometimes it’s hard to believe we’ve been together for a month and a half. I have no idea if I mean it feels like not enough time, or if it feels far, far too long.

“So you want to go to Randall’s party?” I ask him.

He shrugs, which means yes. “If he behaves,” he adds, a little darkly, which means if he doesn’t talk to me without Nikki’s explicit permission. If he doesn’t look at me or laugh at my dumb jokes or do anything to insinuate there’s something going on between us.

“Hey,” I say, keeping my tone gentle, trying so hard for levity it makes my chest ache. “It’s gonna be Thanksgiving, Nikki. We have to count our blessings. Be thankful you’re the one with this ten-inch,” and I step back from him, gesture at my crotch. He stares at me for a few seconds, eyes tense and unwavering—then he laughs, that short, sharp sound like a dog barking, and he shakes his head, and turns back to the mirror. In spite of him—in spite of everything I know about him, he still looks like a goddamn angel. His hair like a halo in the too-bright fluorescent lighting.

When he’s done with his hair he takes my jaw in his hands and kisses me. As is usual of late it feels like something he’s doing because he forgot he had to earlier, like another thing on some invisible checklist, but I take it—what choice do I have?—and I kiss him back. I don’t touch him until he bumps our knees together, his signal. I tell myself it’s getting easier. He strokes my cheek with his thumb, and I shiver.

“I love you,” I say, when he pulls away from me.

He sighs. His eyes are momentarily on the hollow of my throat, where there’s a tiny scar now, pale pink raised skin. “Yeah, kid,” he murmurs, stepping back, turning to the door. “I know you do.”


It’s been nearly a month since Halloween. The bruise on my cheek is faded, but there are others, far more conspicuous. Scattered down my arms where he’s grabbed me because I’m not going fast enough, or I’m going too fast, or I’m going in the wrong room after a show, or I’m talking to the wrong person. On my leg when he pinched me under a table once because he was making a deal and I made some dumb comment. On my neck where he shoved me against a wall because he thought I was flirting with Lizzy Grey again. (I was asking Lizzy if Nikki would want anything special for his birthday.) At least the neck one can be construed as sexual. I’m glad it’s winter; I’ve been wearing nothing but long-sleeved shirts and jeans lately.

I’m not stupid, I know I should leave. But he’s Nikki Sixx, for fuck’s sake. I’d be a fool to let this go. Besides, I have no other home. And I love him, in spite of it all, in spite of what he’s done, in spite of what I know he will continue to do. In spite of the fear I feel when he gets that look in his eyes. Because there are other looks he gets too—the haunted dead look, when he thinks I don’t see him. The exhaustion. The sadness I still don’t know the origins of, will probably never know. The way he holds me at night after we’ve fucked.

You can’t change people. I know that. But most days, Nikki’s hardly a person.


On Thanksgiving we show up at Randall’s. I haven’t been to his house in a long time—he lives in Beverly Hills, near the house where they say that multimillionaire Jose Menendez lives with his wife and two sons. As we walk up the drive I count the cars—ten people, and growing. Nikki’s hand is tense in mine, and I can tell he’s already regretting this. I give his fingers a squeeze, and he turns to shoot me a look—don’t. But when I try to pull my hand away he tightens his grip. It’s an effort not to roll my eyes.

Inside Randall is playing the part of gracious host—which, of course, I know he isn’t, seeing as half the people here are Sheri’s friends, not his. He’s dressed like Clarence Darrow in his overlarge suit, his hair falling messily into his face. When he sees me and Nikki—or rather, when he sees me—his eyes light up. He ambles his way over to us and sweeps me into a huge bear hug. This isn’t going to be good.

“Hey, Randall,” I say, struggling to get away from him. Behind me Nikki is making soft warning noises. When at last I’m able to extricate myself from Randall Nikki immediately sticks his hand out, nearly grabbing Randall’s own to shake.

“Thanks for inviting us,” he says. His voice sounds like grinding ice. His eyes aren’t much better—the color nearly drained from them, so that all that’s left are twin circles of palest green, icebergs underwater.

“It’s my pleasure,” Randall says. He’s still speaking more to me than Nikki. I don’t really know what to make of the way he’s looking at me—I know he dislikes Nikki almost as much as Nikki dislikes him, but he has no reason to suspect anything’s amiss between us. And nothing is, not really. Nikki’s just—controlling. He’s told me that. It’s not like I’m doing a fantastic job of remembering it. Instinctively I can feel my hands reaching to rub at the bruises under my sleeves, and I have to take Nikki’s hand again to stop myself. But for once, he doesn’t seem to mind. His thumb rubs in automatic circles against my skin, and as always I feel myself melting against him.

Then Sheri walks up. She’s beautiful, really; she looks enough like Carly Simon she could be her lovechild. I’d feel sorry for her for having Randall as a boyfriend if she wasn’t… the way she is. Her eyes skate over me to fall on Nikki. Her mouth falls a little open—wet, circular ‘o’. Blowjob lips. I want to strangle her.

“Excuse me,” she says, “but are you Nikki Sixx?”


“Like, from London?”

“Yeah.” He’s laughing at her, but she doesn’t notice. No one ever notices how cruel Nikki is when he puts that veneer on. The devil could learn tricks from my boyfriend.

“Oh, my god,” Sheri says, and holds her hand out. “My name’s Sheri Castellano. I’m Randall’s girlfriend? I love your music, oh my god.”

He retrieves his hand from mine to shake hers. He holds her hand longer than he needs to. His fingers are like vices around hers—his hand could envelop her neck twice. I want to say something—but I have no idea what I would say. Instead I have to stand there watching as Nikki shakes Sheri’s hand like he’s got his fingers in her cunt. I have to watch as he flashes her that wiseass smirk he usually reserves for me when he’s going to eat me out.

“I was at a concert of yours last week actually,” Sheri is saying, ignoring or else just not noticing her newest guests come in. “You played like five Hendrix covers, I thought I was going to—” She kind of glances at me, like she’s debating whether to say it, then plows on: “I thought I was going to come in my pants.”

I’m going to murder her. Nikki just laughs, soft and indulgent—he’s heard far worse from other fans. Hell, he’s done worse with other fans… Just the thought of it has me turning, storming off into the kitchen. There are beer bottles already piling up in the sink, an open half-empty pizza box—even though it’s Thanksgiving!—on the counter. Randall is nowhere to be seen, presumably still entertaining Sheri’s guests at the door, and I grab a Coke from the ice chest and swallow half of it in three gulps. The carbonation shoots straight into my gut and I burp, acid scorching my throat. I have to lean against the wall, press the can to my forehead. Despite it being about forty-five outside I’m sweating.

Nikki finds me a while later, nursing my Coke, my hands shaking from hunger and the drink. He’s got this look like he wishes he’d shot up before we came.

“Jesus, that girlfriend’s a trip,” he mutters, leaning around me to grab a beer for himself. His eyes dart to my Coke and he snorts. “No one’s gonna card you here, Lee,” he says. “If you want a beer just take one.”

“I would have if I wanted one,” I snap. It’s not the smartest thing I’ve ever said, but I can’t stop seeing him—the way he shook her hand. The way he let her flirt. And I’ve been beaten for talking.

His eyes darken. “Hey,” he starts. “What the fuck crawled up your—”

“You can’t flirt with other people in front of me and then tell me I’m not allowed—” I’m trying to keep my voice low, but even in the din of Randall’s other guests I know I’m almost shouting. And I know that’s far from my worst transgression. Nikki is staring at me like he’s never seen me before. When he reaches between us to grab my forearm I think he’s going to break my wrist. He’s close enough to me to hide it, so to an outsider it might look like we’re just talking, soft and intimate, like boyfriends should. But his eyes are like pitch, and he’s breathing nearly through his teeth.

“I can’t?”

I shake my head; I’m already almost crying. “I didn’t mean—”

He jerks my arm down. It brushes his crotch; I can feel he’s half-hard through his jeans. I don’t know if it sickens me or scares me or if I’m fucked up enough that it turns me on, too.

“Shut the fuck up,” he hisses, and then turns just as Randall comes up. His own brow is furrowed with concern.

“Is everything all right?”

Nikki doesn’t even so much as glance my way. “I’m sorry,” he says, “but Lee’s sick, we have to go.”

“What?” Randall’s eyes dart between us. “But you just got here—”

“I’m aware of how to tell time, yes,” Nikki says, cold.

“We haven’t even eaten yet—”

“Lee is sick, I said,” Nikki snaps, and tugs on my arm.

“Yeah,” I say. My voice comes out more shakily than I meant it to, but perhaps that only acts as a backup to Nikki’s lie. “I’m sorry, Randall.”

He’s still looking between us like he doesn’t quite know what to say. “I, uh,” he says, finally, frowning. “All right, well…” He holds his hand out. “It was good to see you anyway, Tommy.”

“Yeah,” I say, and don’t shake his hand, because I’m not a complete idiot. His frown deepens, but he doesn’t say anything else. Nikki leads me out, hand pressed to the small of my back, thumb digging into my spine. Outside the cold sends sharp shards of glass into my skin. I think for a moment of the turkey, the potatoes, the cranberry sauce even though I’m not a huge fan of it—and then I think of Sheri talking about getting wet for Nikki’s bass solos, and I stumble onto the driveway. The door shuts behind us.

Nikki isn’t so angry with me he’ll hit me in front of Randall’s house—but it’s a close thing. We walk to the bus stop, where thankfully one is just pulling up, and ride back out to Nikki’s street. He’s quiet, dark profile against the streetlights. The expression on his face makes him look like a film noir villain. I don’t know what to do—how to calm this situation. I don’t know what he’s going to do. I wish I could just take his hand, except that it’s tainted with her, and even though I’m not supposed to be angry over it I can’t help myself, it’s like stewing in my chest. If I took drugs, if I was worthy enough of him for that, I would just suggest we shoot up when we get home. Nikki on heroin is so mellow he’s almost a different person. But he’d see right through that if I tried it. So I keep my mouth shut, and soon we’re at his street, and then we’re at his apartment. One of his dealer friends is slumped over the front steps, snorting coke off a handheld mirror, the owner of which is going down on him, holding her hair out of the way as she swallows his cock down her throat. He sees me staring; he laughs, guttural ugly sound, sniffs violently, eyes bloodshot:

“What the hell’re you staring at, kid?”

“Leave him alone,” Nikki snaps, pulling me closer to his side. Inside we bypass the abandoned front desk and head straight upstairs and into the apartment. As soon as the door is closed he’s slamming me into the wall. My heart is pounding so hard I think I’m having a heart attack. His arm comes up, closes over my throat. His eyes are caverns. I’m so terrified. He’s snarling like an animal with his lip curled up over his teeth and he looks like he’s going to rip my throat out and I want him to kill me. I’m having trouble breathing.

“Don’t,” he spits, gunfire, “ever fucking tell me I can or can’t do something again. Do you hear me?”


His arm presses in harder. “And don’t fucking interrupt me. You little shit. Goddammit, Lee. You’re such a fucking retard. You thought I was flirting with her. What the fuck do you think I am?”

After a few seconds he gives me a shake, and I realize he wants an answer. I have to move my head so I can get enough air. “She said she almost came at your show,” I manage. “And you laughed.”

“Because I’m maintaining a fucking fanbase,” he snaps. “It has nothing to do with me wanting to fuck her—Jesus Christ. I’ve already told you I don’t like women. What the fuck?”

His arm is still throttling me. I can feel tears running down my face and I don’t know if it’s because I’m barely getting oxygen or if it’s because his logic is so tight, and I know it’s wrong, and it makes sense anyway, and I want so badly to hate him for it, but I can’t… “You were touching her,” I whisper, “you had her hand in yours for like fucking ever,” and then, finally, he releases my throat so he can hit me. Hard. Punching my jaw with such force I’m surprised it doesn’t crack. I know I’m going to have a bruise there for a long time, maybe some weeks. He’s commendable for putting it where he could’ve easily sucked it in with his teeth and his tongue, drawing blood and fucking me. He should be fucking me now. Not hitting me like this.

A sob escapes my throat. I can’t help it. He shakes his head; he looks disgusted. He’s stepped away a little, staring now at the spot where he hit me. “I was being polite,” he snarls. “I was shaking her hand because that’s what you do, Lee. Maybe when you grow up you’ll learn that, too.”

Oh, my god. I want—I want—I can feel my hands curling into fists. I want to hit him—to kill him—I don’t know what I want. I’m crying, and he’s staring at me, and out of nowhere I hear myself saying:

“I’m grown up enough for you to fuck me, anyway,” and I say, “Why won’t you fuck me, Nikki? You can barely even fucking touch me when we’re screwing around, why won’t you just fuck—”

He grabs me again. Not quite by the throat, but close enough that it cuts me off mid-sentence. He turns me around by the shoulders, shoves me harder against the wall. I hear something crack in the cheap plaster. His voice by my ear snarling dark like the devil he says:

“You really want me to fuck you?” and I can feel he’s fully hard now where he’s pressed against my ass.

“I want you to fuck me,” I say, sob, gasp. “You’ve never fucked me. You know I’ve been ready since the night we met and you won’t even look at me—”

“Goddammit, Lee,” Nikki interrupts, slapping his hand over my mouth. “Do you ever shut up?” and I want to tell him yes, of course I do, whenever you ask for it, but he’s already working my pants off, and his right behind, and when his fingers shove inside me barely slick with spit the pain of intrusion is such that I can’t focus on anything at all.


The week following, there’s a show at the Roxy. The bruise on my jaw has blossomed into something crepuscular and ugly, violent stain on my skin, poisoned galaxy. It’s a strain to pass it off as a hickey, but most of the people we interact with are either too strung out or too high or otherwise too amused at the idea of poor, innocent Tommy Lee being involved in bedroom activities to ask any questions. Also no one is stupid enough to ask Nikki any real detailed questions about anything regarding his personal life.

When we arrive, Nikki heads straight backstage. No kiss goodbye, no last heated look. Since we fucked last week he’s been giving me the cold shoulder, as though it were me who coerced him into it, into having me against the wall like I was his one-night stand. It’s almost as if he’s angry that we had sex, although that doesn’t make any sense, because it isn’t as if we’ve been virginal up to this point. But he disappears, and I move to stand against the wall, away from the already drunk crowd pressing up sweating and exhaustive towards the stage. Let some girl catch Nikki’s sweat on her forehead. I could give a fuck.

I’m nursing a Dr. Pepper and wondering if Nikki would even notice if I were to just go back home when I feel a hand on my shoulder. I’m almost hoping it’s Nikki, ready to apologize, but it’s Randall—of course it’s Randall. Who else could it possibly be? I glance towards the stage—London haven’t come out yet, so I’m safe, but I don’t want to talk to him. He’s leaning in already too close, as he always does, as he always has. His breath is hot on my cheek. He’s been drinking.

“I need to talk to you,” he says, lips almost against my ear. “Outside.”

“I can talk to you fine right here,” I say, but he shakes his head, points to his ears. Reluctantly I let him lead me through the crowd and out the door onto a side street shrouded in darkness. He’s hunched in at his shoulders, hair hanging into his face. He looks miserable.

“Sorry,” he says, and I can tell from his tone he’s trying to make a joke. “I’m not seventeen like you, huh? I can’t hear shit.”

I shrug. “What do you want, Randall?” I ask. “I have to be back inside for the show.”

“Yeah,” he spits, “because you look like you were really fucking enjoying yourself in there just now.”

It’s the first time I’ve ever heard him raise his voice at me, and it startles me. I step back from him—I’m taller than he is, but I have no intention of getting caught up like that again with another person. I’m a slower learner than most. But, eventually, I do learn.

He sighs. He looks like he wants to touch me, but isn’t allowing himself. “Sorry, Tommy,” he mutters. “I didn’t mean—shit. I’m just. I’m concerned about you, okay? After Thanksgiving—”

“I was sick,” I say. “I didn’t want to stay at your house because I wasn’t feeling well. Nikki took me home. I’m okay now.”

He frowns. Something about the pull of his mouth or else just the way he’s staring at me reminds me of a dog. “You seemed fine when you got there.”

“Yeah, well.” I cross my arms. I’ve started to shiver. “Is there anything else you want, ‘cause I really wanna go—”

“I don’t like how he treats you,” Randall blurts. “Okay? There. That’s it.” He folds his arms too, mirroring me. “I don’t like how he talks to you, I don’t like how he drags you around. I don’t like that I barely hear from you now that the two of you are shacking up.”

I shake my head. “It isn’t like that.”

“No? Then what is it like, Tommy? Because I’m really, I’m curious. I mean it, I want to know from you what it’s like living with Nikki Sixx, if he’s not abusing you.”

My hands are on my sleeves plucking and pulling. Somewhere in my stomach I feel something beginning to roil. “He isn’t abusing me,” I say. “He just likes… he wants to spend time to ourselves, he’s tired a lot from the band, from the shows. You know.”

He’s still frowning. “Why does he drag you around by your arm all the time?”

“He doesn’t do that all the time,” I say, and then, realizing what I’ve said: “I mean he doesn’t do that, ever. I don’t know—what the fuck are you talking about? Jesus, Randall. You’re seeing shit. He doesn’t, he never uses force with me.” Except when I’m acting out, except when I’m disappointing him, except when he’s irritated with me over something I’ve forgotten, some rule of his I’ve broken again because I’m only a teenager, only a fuck-up. “He loves me.” Sometimes. When he thinks I’m sleeping, and he strokes my hair, kisses my temple. When he feels guilty about it and holds me and tells me he’s sorry. When he protects me from the other dealers, confusing me until I want to throw up.

“Okay,” says Randall, doubtfully. “Because I just—”

“Randall.” I step away from him, around his massive bulk of a body. “Look. I get that you’re looking out for me, or whatever, but I’m fine. We’re fine. Really. I love him, I’ve never been so lucky in my life. I have to go back inside now, the show’s gonna start and he wants, he likes seeing me in the audience.” And before Randall can say anything else, I rush back inside, flashing the X’s on my hands at the security guards as I push my way towards the front of the crowd. London are just coming out, their hair a mile high, their makeup thick, evil under the strobe lights. Nikki spots me almost immediately and shoots me a cocky grin I’ve missed desperately. Something almost like an apology in the silver-green of his eyes as he grinds out the first notes to the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen”.

I grip the front of the stage and scream with the others. I scream until tears come to my eyes.


That night, we’re lying together in bed when Nikki rolls over, covering me with his body. He smells like hairspray and sweat and alcohol and leather, but this is the closest he’s been to me in a week, and I’m not complaining. He strokes my hair out of my face and kisses me, so tenderly I wonder—

“Is everything okay?” I whisper, when he pulls back.

He rolls his eyes. “Yeah, no shit,” he mutters. “What, I can’t just—” But then he stops himself. Bites his lower lip. Drags one hand through his hair where it’s falling out of the spray and gel. When he cups my jaw at the sensitive spot where he hit me his skin smells chemical.

“I’ve been acting like shit,” he says, staring at some spot over my head. “I warned you when we first got together that I’d treat you like shit, and you didn’t listen.”

I don’t know if he expects an apology from me or what, so I stay quiet. After a few seconds he sighs. Strokes my hair again.

“I really like you, kid,” he says, almost too soft for me to hear. “I just—I have no fucking idea how to show it.”

I’m not sure if I’m an idiot for believing him. No, fuck that: I am an idiot. But I can’t help it, I surge upwards to kiss him. He startles against me, like he always does, but when he relaxes it’s his tongue in my mouth, his lips soft on mine, his hand sliding down to unbutton my jeans. He’s kissing me, kissing me, kissing me, and my body is hot, feels like I’m being electrocuted everywhere. Feels almost like I’m dying.

“I love you, Nikki,” I say, as he kisses his way down my now-exposed chest and stomach. “I fucking—I love you.”

“God help you,” he says, sarcastic, but there’s no bite to it, so I smile. He makes a sound almost a laugh. Then he takes me in his mouth.


December 11th rolls out bright and cold. When I wake up Nikki’s still sleeping, and even though I know I shouldn’t, I run my hand down his arm, kiss his shoulder until he wakes. He’s still asleep enough as he rolls over that I chance whispering, “Happy birthday,” to him, and he surprises me, kissing me instead of snapping. He’s very nearly smiling when he pulls back.

“Thanks, kid,” he mutters. He sits up and stretches; his ribs are slatted against the pale expanse of his skin. “Fuck, I’m old.”

“Twenty-three isn’t that old,” I say, though of course it is to me. He snorts into his hands, drags them down his face.

“Oh, god,” he mumbles, and struggles off the mattress. Because it’s his birthday he does three lines of blow in the bathroom before we even leave. He’s on edge as we walk to Sunset, sniffing like his nose hurts, rubbing at it, at his eyes. We go to his favorite restaurant for lunch—tacos of questionable origin and beer—and his eyes, his hands, his feet dance as he stares restlessly around. He laughs sharply at nothing. His hands shake against the table.

“You all right?” I ask him, as he pays our check and we leave. He shoots me a look:

“Yes,” he says, too fast. I’ve never seen him this way. I wonder if he’s always like this when he does coke, except that the first night we met, he wasn’t nearly this aggressive. Perhaps it’s just the quantity. I almost want to tell him to slow down and not take any more, except I know how well that would go over, and we’ve had a good few days, slow, almost gentle.

“Okay,” I say instead, and I take his hand. It’s his birthday, anyway.

Nigel and John throw him a party. It’s a club which they somehow have the money to rent out for the night as a private venue. Lizzy is there, of course, but I avoid him, I know better. So are several other of their musician friends from varying bands—L.A. Guns, Strait from the Vain, Rentboys—and some of Nikki’s drug dealing buddies… and Randall.

Wait. What?

I see him thankfully before Nikki does. I grip Nikki’s wrist and turn him subtly away; thankfully he’s still struggling against the effects of the coke from earlier and doesn’t notice.

“I’m going to the bathroom,” I tell him. “I’ll be back soon.”

“Okay,” he says, laughing. I lean into the good mood like a sunflower blossoming in full sunlight. “I hope you’ll be back in time for presents.”

“Of course,” I say. The scarf I bought him is shoved into my shirt.

“I bet you got me something good, huh, kid,” and he presses his hand between my legs, squeezing upwards. I make some kind of undignified sound, and he breaks away from me, still laughing. Nigel grabs his other arm to haul him away, talking about drugs, and I rush off towards Randall. He’s leaning against the wall, ignoring a tiny girl trying to talk to him with a margarita in her over-jeweled hand. When he sees me coming he straightens up, nearly shoving her to the side. He opens his mouth and I take his hand, pull him into the bathroom. I think about locking the door except that I don’t want drunks banging on it desperate to piss or puke.

“What the fuck are you doing here!” I say. “How did you even get the address of this venue?”

He laughs, but there’s no humor in it. “It’s a public venue,” he says.

“Yeah, but it’s closed off for the night, for Nikki’s thing, his party.”

“I got in,” he says. “Friends with the guard,” and he holds out his wallet. Oh. Right. I roll my eyes.

“I can’t believe—” I take a deep breath. “Why are you here?” I ask again.

He takes a step towards me, and then another, until I’m backed nearly into the sink, my ass pressed to cold ceramic.


“I’m desperate,” he says, the words tumbling out in a hoarse rush. “I need you. I need you to see—you’re miserable. You’re not happy here, with him, you—he’s killing you, do you understand?”

I blink. It takes me a few seconds to realize who he means. “Nikki isn’t—”

“Please don’t give me that bullshit, Tommy.” Pinching the bridge of his nose, he inhales, he sounds like he’s in pain. “I’ve tried to, to word this in my head for a while now, but I can’t, I’m not eloquent like he is, I’m not smart enough. All I can say—fuck. All I know is that I want you.” His hand comes out, it cups my jaw. His thumb fits right over the bruise on my jaw which by now is barely visible, faded highlighter yellow. “Goddammit, Tommy. I want you so much.” His voice breaks. When he kisses me I freeze, my hands gripping the underside of the sink, my legs pressed a little into his. His mouth is warm, dry; he tastes like clove cigarettes and beer. I think I should be shocked, or anyway more shocked than I am. But he’s always flirted with me. Always looked at me out of the corners of his eyes, even when Sheri was in the room. Something in my chest feels unsteady. Ready to explode.

“Run away with me,” he breathes, pulling away from me, pressing our foreheads together. “Please.”

“Randall,” I say again. I try to push him off, or at least away from me, but he’s so much bigger than I am that he doesn’t even move. “Randall, I can’t. I don’t—fuck, I don’t like you that way. I’m sorry.”

He groans. “Kid…” He strokes the sore spot on my jaw. “You deserve so much more than what he’s given you,” and he leans in again, kisses me harder. I can feel him trying to maneuver his tongue into my mouth.

“I can’t—” I whimper, bracing one leg against the floor, and then I feel the warm spray of blood hit my chin as Randall’s throat is slit open. His body slumps against mine, his blood gushing out against my face. As I stumble backwards, falling against the sink, I see exactly what I knew I would see—Nikki, standing in the doorway, knife in his hand, murder in his face. He’s so high on coke his pupils are just pinpricks against the sheer hellish green of his irises. His right hand is drenched in blood. His teeth are bared.

I want to scream. Randall is on top of me, and I’m on the filthy tile floor, and I’m covered in his blood. My mouth is open but I can’t make any sound come out. Nikki’s stepping forward, the knife still outstretched—he’s saying something, but I can’t hear it over the high ringing in my ears. I can’t hear anything except that goddamn ringing, and the black swirling in front of me, so viscous it’s nearly audible.

“Lee—” I hear, like doom, and I pass out.


The nurses are very kind. Janice, the blonde one who first gave me ice chips when I woke up, takes my pulse, doesn’t make me talk. She looks concerned at all the bruises, but she doesn’t say anything. The other, Cheryl, asks me gentle, noninvasive questions:

“Did you know the man who died?” “Did you see his killer?” but I can’t answer. My tongue’s been too dry since everything happened to talk, and anyway, even if I could, what would I say? Besides the horror of feeling Randall’s blood on me every second I’m awake, and having him follow me into my dreams until the morphine takes over, and sometimes still even then, I can’t even begin to consider betraying Nikki. The idea is too horrendous. Even after everything. I don’t know what it means, any more than I’ve known what anything regarding him means since I met him. So I just take my ice chips and my morphine and the saline drip they have me on, and I try to talk, secretly, quietly, when everyone’s gone, and I don’t tell Cheryl or Janice anything.

The third night I’m in Cedars-Sinai I’m half-awake staring at the clear liquid in the bag beside my bed. If I close my eyes I’ll hear Randall whispering to me, begging me to run away with him. I’ll feel his breath on my face, his blood on my neck. If I stay awake I see his reflection in the morphine, on the ceiling, on my bedclothes. I watch it slide down into the IV, into my veins. My eyelids are growing heavy—

The door opens. I think it’s Janice coming in for an early shift until I see his frame, his profile. That ridiculous fucking over-the-top hair. Those shining emerald eyes glistening in the half-light coming under the bathroom door.

“Lee,” Nikki whispers. “Don’t scream, please.”

I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. But I just shake my head, and he draws up a chair, sits beside me. He’s wearing a hoodie and sweatpants. Two full bags slung over his shoulders. His makeup is smeared, ugly. He looks thinner than he did three days ago.

“You were in shock,” he says, still with his voice as quiet as it’ll go. “That’s why they’ve kept you in here.”

I know that. I’m not an idiot. I want to say this, but when I open my mouth all that comes out is a hoarse rusting sound. So I glare at him, instead, and he sighs.

“Sorry,” he says, clearly not meaning it. “I just—okay, look. I’m sorry I killed him. I was high. I think I had a bad batch of coke or something, I was going off the fucking walls paranoid—I hated him, Lee, I hated him for a long time. You’re not stupid, you must’ve known that.”

I won’t give him the satisfaction of nodding. But he must see my acquiescence in my eyes, because he continues, “Look, I could apologize all night and it wouldn’t be enough. But that’s not gonna—fuck. It won’t change him being dead. And it won’t change that they’re still looking for his killer.” He glances over his shoulder at the door to my room. “And that we need to go.”

I raise my eyebrows at him.

“It’s four in the morning,” he says—he reaches out to take my hands, and I flinch backwards, I can’t help it, I swear there’s still blood crusted under his nails. “It’s the only time I could get here. I had to sneak in past the guards downstairs and make sure the nurses weren’t looking. They don’t suspect me yet but I know someone’ll have seen me go in that bathroom and not come out.” He exhales, sharp, runs his hands through his hair. It’s such a familiar gesture as to make me ache. Those same hands that have beat me. Cut lines. Measured spoons. Held my cock. Spread me open.

Killed a man.

“You can call a nurse in here,” he says, like he knows what I’m thinking, “and I won’t blame you. Or you can leave, right now, with me. I have your shit here, and my shit, and no one at the apartment’s gonna look for us; none of them are gonna give a shit I’m gone. Nigel and the others—” He cuts his eyes away. “They’ll cover for me. And if they don’t, at least they don’t know shit about what went on, at least none of them saw the knife.”

I bite my lip very tightly. I’m angry with him, this careless way he’s speaking of it. Yet I don’t know what else I could’ve expected, not from Nikki. Not about Randall.

“Whatever you decide, Lee,” Nikki says, gripping the side of my bed now, “I won’t object to it. But you have to decide now, before the morning shift starts. We have to get the fuck out of here, or else you have to raise the alarm, turn me in.” His eyes are on mine, slate gray in the dim light. That heady intense gaze that drew me in from the beginning, from when I was still fifteen, scrawny and confused and recently realizing just how fucking queer I am, staring at the scariest motherfucker I’d ever seen on bass guitar, wondering when I would become him.

Nikki isn’t a good person. He isn’t a kind person. But he’s also all I have. It’s either him or foster care for another year, because I know my parents would never take me back, and I certainly don’t have enough money to legally emancipate myself. In two months he’s become my whole world. That desire I have to change him still so strong, clinging to my ribs, to my spine, to my heart. That every time I’ve said I love him, I haven’t entirely been lying.

I think he knows even before I do that I’m going to rip the IV out of my arm. Struggle out of bed, shrug off the shock blanket still wrapped around my shoulders. Step into the soft slippers I’ve been using to shuffle to the bathroom. Cling on his arm as he walks us both out the door, down the hall, down a back stairwell, out the door. Where his supplier, James O’Neill, is waiting in a beat-up Mazda, looking like shit, but aware enough of himself to drive us out of the city limits as the stars to the east slowly begin to gray out with the oncoming dawn.


“Where y’all are headed?”

“North,” Nikki says, shortly. He’s been letting me cling to him for the past three hours, since James dropped us off at the truck stop on the outskirts of Los Angeles proper. I wonder how long it’ll last. But there’s something strangely soft about the way he’s holding me against him, something that feels more like permanence than anything else I’ve experienced with him. “As far north as you can take us.”

The trucker shrugs, jerks his thumb back. “Got space in the bed if you don’t mind riding without seatbelts,” he says.

Nikki shakes his head. “We don’t mind,” he says, and leads me around to the back of the truck, helps me up. When the door is closed again the truck starts forward with a lurch. Nikki catches me as I stumble, leads me in the pitch dark to a bundle of blankets at one corner. Together we hunch down in our hoodies with the frozen metal pressed all around us, our hands curled together, the asphalt singing under the tires.
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