Want

BY : AnkhesenpaatenRa
Category: Singers/Bands/Musicians > Depeche Mode
Dragon prints: 578
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. I do not know the Depeche Mode band personally, and I do not profit from these writings.


I want to know how it'll end. 
I want to be sure of what it'll cost.

© Recoil

   Alan slapped the wheel with both hands in a fit of temper. It was kind of irrelevant of Mister Random to choose this song to play in his car. 
   It stroke Alan today right in the morning. He was flooded with some strange feeling. It was so clear that he started to feel uncomfortable, though there were no grounds for it. He shaved nervously, ten times checking for no reason whether well enough, and splashed his face with perfume twice as he forgot he had already done it. And he suddenly came to hate his comfortable dark grey blazer, finding it bobbled, and put on his new black shirt. Hepzibah, his beloved spouse, who was applying makeup in the bathroom, looked at him very suspiciously. But he just couldn`t help it. His heart started missing a beat from the strange premonition. 
   He was planning his own business in the morning, but Hep asked him to pick her up so they could buy a wedding gift to Alan`s colleague: they were invited to the event next Saturday. 
"Very well," Alan said, "but you’ll go to the shop by yourself." 
"And why is that?" Hep objected. "He is your colleague. What if I choose something weird?" 
"Like I care," Alan said with a mischievous grin. 
"Right. Like you care," his spouse mocked him. 
   They both laughed when they went out heading to the car. Actually, they slightly disapproved the choice of Alan`s colleague and often chuckled with each other about the misadventures on his way to the family happiness. 
"If you can`t cope with the consequences, you`d better not put it out of your pants at all," Alan`s wife was kidding terrifyingly, as always. 
"Indeed," Alan grinned, "each of us should have been thinking about it from the start." 
   His spouse was offended by him because she decided he meant her. Of course, Alan hastened to assure his wife: 
"I did not think about you when I said that!" Now he caused even more embarrassing questions, like who he was thinking about, and when exactly he had time to put it out of his pants, and what she had missed. 
"Hep, I cheat on you only with the bottle of Stoli, cross my heart! I do it a lot, hard, and often - but with her only!" 
"That means you were talking about me," Hep said gloomy. 
"God bless you, woman!" Alan replied quickly. 
"Whom, then?" 
"It was just an expression."
"Alan Charles Wilder! You can`t say something that would be just an expression because you just can`t," Hep said. "The left turn." 
"Well, let us assume I was talking about my first wife. Feeling better?"
"Nope", Hep said. "I asked you to turn left. Now you’ve missed the turn. What`s wrong with you today?" 
"Shit! You`ve drowned me in empty talk!" Alan said de bene esse. "Why are women always talking that much?" 
"I don`t know why women are always talking that much", Hepzibah was as cold as a stone, "I mostly care when men talk too much." 
Alan`s lips formed a thin line. He got furious but tried to keep control with diligence. 
"Anything you say may be taken down and used in evidence?" he asked through the clenched teeth. 
   Hepzibah burst out laughing. Anyway, she decided not to press her husband too hard as he seemed in the wrong box today, so she turned it all into a joke: 
"Aye aye, sir! You`d been thrown into each other by passion! You are so emotional!" 
   Alan faked a smile. That wasn`t so funny for him at all. However, he thought it wouldn`t be polite not to support his wife`s mood. There was a second reason either. But mainly it wouldn`t be polite. 
"I wouldn`t call it passion, though…it was…" 
"It was?" 
"I think…I suppose, this person meant so much to me," Alan said emotionless, "too much. Overvalued." 
"A person", Hep`s voice sounded zonky, "Alan loved a person. Was it mutual?" 
Alan`s face  remained calm this time. He decided not to notice the provocation. He was on his guard. 
"I didn`t say it was him, Hep." 
"You didn`t say it was her, Al." 
"Shut up, Hep, or I say nothing." 
"Damn, you caught me!"
They both laughed again. 
"I used to believe it meant so much to me. That. Relationship. When I was young, I thought it was love in itself. Now I’m terrified to reflect on what it actually was." 
"Stop here and wait for me. It won`t be long." 
   Hepzibah seemed to have lost all interest in his revelations and opened the door of the car, letting the warm air into the conditioned cabin. Alan respired and set the collar of his black shirt right. He desperately needed some air. 
   No, not love. Fear? Envy? Hate? Rivalry? Control? Struggle for power? For respect? For love? Oh, no, he never loved anyone, he was quite confident so far. He wouldn`t risk his health for it. And at that particular moment mister Random decided to answer Alan`s question by playing ‘Want’. Want. Want! That`s it. Just like this. Not even desire, just want. I want, and fuck it all. I want, and I don`t give a damn of how it will end. I want, and I don`t give a shit of what it will cost. I just wonder how far you can go. I want to taste my own kind. 
   The cold sweat stood out on his forehead because the feeling became so intense…the feeling he thought he`d got rid of years and years ago. He felt the pain that made him paranoid this morning. There was only one person in this world that could make him painfully itching for no reason. The feeling of his presence was so clear; Alan even looked around through the car windows, with his head drawn into his shoulders. All he saw was a young pair, a girl and a boy, sitting on the bench staring at their i-phones, and a fat pigeon hobbling down the pavement. 
   "Idiot," Alan said to himself. 
   The cell phone quivered in his pocket. Unknown number. Alan looked at it for a while pondering whether to answer or not. Finally he felt uneasy that something had happened to his children, so he carefully said: 
"Hello." 
"Miller," spitted out his mobile, "I`m not at my place." 
"Hi, Dan," Alan said. 
"What are you doing right now, old boy?" 
"Performing my marital duty." 
"Succeed?" The producer was not confused at all. 
"Sitting in the car, waiting for my wife to return from shopping. Want me to visit you at your office?" 
"Oh, yeah, exactly", Daniel said after a minute, "but I am not in the Country at the moment. Come next Tuesday, for five-o’clock." 
"What’s happened…in general?" Alan asked. 
"Need money?" 
"Have to work?" 
"A little," Miller said. "Some sideline for two months or so, in the studio." 
"«Recoil»?" Alan specified. 
"No," Miller chuckled, "just some young unknown boy band", Miller started to laugh out loud to his own joke, "with some stupid French name…how do you put that?" he imitated Dave’s accent, "«De-pe-shi-e Mode»? No fear, man, nothing unnatural, just refreshing some old material. I am sorry, I have to go now, so see you next Tuesday. Alan? Hello, Alan, are you there? Alan?" 
"Yes, I am", Alan said when he finally could unclench his damn teeth. "Yes, Tuesday, that`s fine for me, Dan." 
   After the words «De-pe-shi-e Mode» - somewhere on the other side of the phone line, very clearly - he heard laughter. This laughter he could never confuse with anything in this world and could never forget. He heard it in his nightmares. And not only in nightmares. He hoped that he would never hear this laugh again, except maybe at his own funeral, but he wouldn`t really care in that particular case. 
   His forehead was covered with sweat; he turned the rear-view mirror and pulled Kleenex out of the glove compartment to wipe it dry. It was too impossible. He saw a pale mask with almost fully dilated pupils and a dropped jaw. 
"You are a beauty!" he told himself. 
   A second after the conversation Alan felt that it had all been a daydream, some sort of odd hallucination. Perhaps he should have slept more and drunk less the day before. 
   Hep was pretty happy when she returned with a big festively decorated box. He felt her perfume mixed with the warm air again and started to think that his mind was playing tricks on him. Still, his prudence made him push the "save" button. At his leisure on the evening, he would very likely check the international phone code. Just to kill his paranoia for the hell of it. 
"Let`s go," Hep said impatiently. 
"Wait a minute." 
   Alan`s fancy carried him away in time for two decades ago. 

***

I want to strangle the stars for all they promised me.
© Recoil

   It was raining. What a surprise for the London summer! Grey days, and humidity, and rain. However, it was warm in Miller`s Mute studio. Fletch was picking his nose thoughtfully. Alan was staring into the computer`s blinking screen. Everything was in place. There was a smell of burning only, as Martin decided to make himself a toast. 
"Martin, aren`t you burning something?" Alan shouted, irritated, not even turning his head. Fletch seemed not to care, and Dave had, as he explained, «dat rhi-d-itis»: he`d caught a cold and just couldn`t smell the infernal smoke that started to eat everybody`s eyes out. 
"No, I am fine, thank you," Martin announced very politely and charmingly. Then he laughed cheerfully, "Well…I think…I suppose…generally speaking…erm…I shall state the fact that I`ve already burnt the shit out of it! Besides, I`m not quite sure that I understand how it happened." 
   Dave roared with laughter, jumped up immediately, and ran to Martin to check out his achievements in that primitive art of cooking. Soon his buoyant laughter filled the kitchen, mixed with his advice to Martin to start lecturing in Oxford on "How to prepare a toast and not burn your house down". Dave said that Martin was a true professor - he never knew before that bread could be turned into this condition in a toaster. Dave was also very interested if Martin used lighter fluid or preferred old-style kerosene. Martin`s invariable "heh-heh-heh" was the only answer. 
   Fletch stopped reading his newspaper and decided to go and see what was happening. He started chuckling in the hall already. Soon his wise commands were sounding from the kitchen with such professionalism as if he was a surgeon performing an operation. 
"Spatula." 
"No, use the fork." 
"Second one." 
   Finally Alan couldn`t stand it anymore and went downstairs to take part in this serious event. He shouldered Fletch aside, as the guy was obstructing his view. 
   Martin was half-lying on his stomach on the kitchen table concentrating…well, nobody could say that he wasn’t trying to…but his thirty-two teeth smile was shining on his happy face while he was holding the toaster with his both hands. 
"Oh, fucking cunt! I can`t tear it off… Mart, did you spread some glue on your toast? Huh?" 
"No. Shall I?" innocently asked Martin. "Remind me the next time. I will…spread." 
"Ouch! Fuck! It`s fucking hot…I will fucking spread ya…shit! WHAT?!" 
"Heh-heh-heh…" 
   As previously mentioned, Martin was half-lying on his stomach on the kitchen table. He was…let us put it that way…topless. He had taken off his sweater; probably, he was too proud of his fresh summer tan which he got despite the rainy weather. Dave rolled up the sleeves of his checkered shirt; he was carefully scraping the toaster`s insides. 
"How do you usually do it in the morning, Mart?" 
"I am afraid your idea of my morning routine is somewhat wrong, Dave," Martin`s smile was heard even in his voice. "I don`t usually do it in the morning. I usually go to the City by the morning train. Then I wake up. Sometimes." 
   Now it was Fletch`s turn to laugh, as he began recalling all the times he had dragged sleepy Martin out of the train onto the platform. Alan also started to laugh and decided to do everything like it should be done. 
   He estimated the disposition to find his way to get to the toaster. On the right side of Martin there was Dave manipulating his hellish pokers. Fletch looked preoccupied and was breathing noisily and heavily through the nose. With a mischievous grin Alan decided that he had no choice and lay down on Martin`s back as he was: with his shirt and a leather vest on. 
"Let the Master do his job!" Alan jeered, catching up Martin`s body quite unexpectedly from both sides, very carefully, like a baby’s, but very efficiently as if he meant only business. Alan didn`t realize how it dawned upon him to lie down onto half-naked Martin. Well, Martin walked around half-naked from time to time, so the lads got used to it. Alan didn`t want to show that it bothered him, because nobody in this studio was bothered at all. That`s why he did it. 
   Alan pulled the grid off the toaster by holding it with his right hand that lay exactly on Martin`s. He consciously restricted Martin`s freedom to move, making him feel helpless at that point. Suddenly, Alan felt how the body underneath him strained. He virtually saw goose bumps running down Martin`s spine, but this tension was not hostile. He`d rather decide there was something sexual in it; well, he could be mistaken, though. 
   A strange wave of energy rushed over him from Martin, as he realized that this guy underneath was not actually caring much to win his freedom back. On the contrary, somehow he chose to obey and found the situation highly amusing. Alan felt Martin relax under him, melting like ice, subjecting to him willingly. Alan could swear that everything happened at that exact moment. To be more precise, he realized that it would happen between them in any case. Sooner or later. 
   Dave`s gaze slipped absent-mindlessly over Martin`s totally relaxed pose and stopped on the lad`s temple. Then slowly moved onto Alan. 
   Alan anxiously pushed his ass back because the feeling of Martin`s obeying body stung him right on his groin. He suddenly caught himself imitating the fact of the most enthusiastic peering into the depths of the old toaster in the crossfire of Dave and Fletch`s stares. Actually, he was just trying to lower his head closer to Martin`s bare shoulder, because the smell of his skin was the main thing that he wanted to feel - the more the better. It was Alan`s trial not for Martin but for himself. It became utterly clear to Alan that it was the very first moment when he began to perceive his friend as a sexual object. And he was wondering how it would end. He wasn`t in love - he had never actually been in love with anyone before; let`s say Martin retained his interest. Alan never lost his head. Well, it seemed like this. That’s why he was pretty calm and just waited for the natural barrier to trigger. He was sure it would. And he would no longer want Martin. So he was teasing himself and his friend quite shamelessly. 
   Martin used to behave like some bimbo. He was absolutely dysfunctional in life, showing his naivety and disadaptation to “life in general”, as he called the way of things in Basildon: in particular, his fights with the local rednecks who beat the shit out of him and Fletch almost every time. Occasionally they managed to escape, though. They would return from work in London by the last train, and it was quite difficult to avoid the beating. Nevertheless, Martin took it as a necessary evil; he did not care to resist, just sometimes, when he was in the mood, complaining or joking with his colleagues on "the world we live in and life in general". 
   The story of how Martin drove his girlfriend to the movies - and how later, after a couple of hours, Fletch dragged home a hero lover whom he found sitting in a puddle in a state when he was drunk to reaching the Earth’s orbit, puking all around - cheered even their manager Miller. Every time he heard the narrative, he even took off his glasses to wipe the tears of laughter. Martin giggled, self-satisfied and embarrassed at the same time. Somehow he was able to look both embarrassed and self-satisfied simultaneously, for example like when Dave had asked him for a lighter, and Martin told him to look in his yellow jacket. Dave also found a pack of marijuana in his pocket, and female stockings, and a candy. Dave couldn`t help noting this fact: he entered the studio with a pensive air, with the stockings in his hand: 
"Martin, and why exactly do you need THAT?" 
"Heh-heh-heh," Martin would giggle, self-satisfied and embarrassed, and pretty sure that it was an irrefragable answer. 
   Alan was older - much older, as it seemed at that moment - and he strongly suspected that Martin`s buffoonery,  deliberately unassuming manner, his unnatural suppleness (especially admired by Daniel Miller as Martin always did what he was told with no questions) were just Martin`s way to win. 
   Much later, when Martin had rooted under his skin, so that ripping him out went as painful and disgusting as ripping out Alan`s own inner organs, a spleen or two kidneys one after another, Alan was horrified to realize that his young friend was just compensating his overdeveloped self-centeredness, rigidity, and aggression. Being a skeptic, Alan should have had suspected from the beginning that such a bunch of shiny angelic qualities was not given for free on this earth. But at that moment Alan just thought it was Martin`s boyish manner of compensation to look more successful in his friends` eyes. Alan pitied him for that. And made advances to him as if trying to give Martin some support that he didn’t have. 
   Later Alan realized that he shouldn`t have had listened to Dave`s stories either. Intentionally or not, Dave put Martin down by saying that he was just copying him, Dave, and his bygone bearing of a bully - because Martin was the quiet one and jealous. In fact, Alan believed it and relaxed, yet he shouldn`t have. 
   He understood much later the reason why Dave was so eager to put Martin down in his eyes, but at the time Alan just thought he could probably help that simpleton Martin achieve something that rang true. Especially since Martin regarded him with some degree of cautious respect and seemed to be flattered by Alan`s attention. Idiot. He`d better listen more carefully to the intonations of that damn self-satisfied “heh-heh-heh” than to Dave. That was what Hep, his wife, told him once, and he could not disagree. 
   Hep loved Dave. He seemed very sweet, simple, and sociable person to her, just like her husband. She didn`t love Martin and called him “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide in one” because he seemed so sweet and nice, especially when drunk, but at the same time he was quite a rude monster, a misanthrope, and a scum. Hep said that she always hated men like Martin. Alan suspected she had some particular personal female reason to hate Martin, but he never consciously cared to analyze it to make Hepzibah love Martin. His inner psychoanalyst was pretty shocked when he realized that he, Alan, loved Martin, and that was more than enough. He barely survived this idea. 
   By the time Alan realized that fact, Martin didn`t love him in return any more. Well, let`s say, Martin no longer needed him. He took everything he wanted. Martin was a fast learner; he had a phenomenal memory for the things of his interest. 
   Hepzibah helped Alan fight the ghosts from the past, assuring him that he had made the right choice; Alan wasn`t that certain when he was all by himself. 
   But let`s return to the Mute`s kitchen and to the burnt toaster. At the time Alan was overwhelmed with a research interest - so it seemed to him, to be correct. He was mesmerized by the chemistry flowing between their bodies, his and Martin`s. It was like they were making love in front of Dave and Fletch, and those two had no idea of what was going on. 
   Alan was still staring into the toaster`s insides and lowered his face almost to Martin`s shoulder, slowly sniffing the scent of his skin. It smelled like honey. Not the most distinguished scent in perfumery: too down-to-earth and too literal, somehow even too natural, not very pleasant from the very beginning; but nevertheless catching and calling you to feel it over and over again, making you drool realizing that nothing could smell better and be sweeter than that. 
   Alan closed his eyes for a second to imagine himself moving down along Martin`s spine with light kisses, stopping right between his shoulder blades, and found with perverted preciseness that he was absolutely ready to go to the next stage, and fought the temptation to taste Martin`s skin… At that very moment he felt that Dave was burning a hole in his forehead with his like-an-optical-sight stare. 
   Exactly at the time Alan, triumphant, pulled out the grid with the remains of the burnt toast, graciously giving Martin the opportunity to slip out of his sudden embrace. 
"Who`s wearing the trousers here?" Alan asked victoriously, waving the grid in the air. 
"Heh-heh-heh," Martin said very eloquently and took away the grid. A look askance, however, was enough to make it clear to Alan that Martin understood what was happening between them. 
   Alan cheerfully poured himself a glass of vodka with orange juice and knocked this “screwdriver” back at one gulp. The crazy idea that, contrary to his expectations, nothing was over yet and he was somehow subconsciously waiting for Martin’s response, oddly enough cheered him up. 
   It appeared that he began to see advantages of the work for this strange band. Well, a couple of. And he still saw Martin as a sexual object. He couldn`t help it. He just wanted more. However, at the time it did not scare him at all. 
   He was wondering what Martin would do, what his response would be - now it was the most important. The morality of his behavior, as well as the consequences, he would think over tomorrow, maybe. Now he was a hunter, and it was hell fun. The funniest part was to hunt in front of the lads who suspected nothing; but yet he was quite aware of the idea to find a way to have some privacy with Martin here. 
"Alan, what are you doing there?" Dave asked, waving at him to go back to the studio. "Wondering whether you should sample the burnt toaster, man?!" 
"Very funny, Dave," Alan said. "Can`t believe it is your idea." 
   They worked late into the night. At first Alan shuddered from each move of Martin; he mocked himself for the fact that he behaved like an eleven-year-old girl at a school dance, and it cooled his ardor a bit. However, Martin kept his distance and showed no sign that what had happened earlier that day was not the result of Alan`s vivid imagination. By two o`clock a.m. Alan convinced himself that the sexually yielding flesh under him was just a figment of his sick imagination. 
   Alan was standing over the sound controls, with his body weight shifted on his hands, and trying to think about the song. At that very moment Martin rubbed his bare arm against his, hard as a man should but nonchalantly like a cat would. Alan was already drunk enough to look Martin in the eyes and sober enough to realize that was precisely what he was waiting for the whole day. 
   God, he saw this picture from the studio a thousand times afterwards. Martin and him, shoulder to shoulder. It looked innocent as hell. It looked as innocent as it was actually not at all. He never knew what was going on inside Martin, but he knew what was happening to him. And it was far from innocent. 
   They were recording “Stories of Old”.

Take a look at unselected cases
You'll find love has been wrecked
By both sides compromising
Amounting to a disastrous effect

© Depeche Mode

“Love,” suddenly Martin said, “I see love as a con-so-la-tion…some kind of the consolation prize and some great reward…for the…erm…life routine. You know, the booby prize given to those who came…last.”
“Interesting theory,” Alan said, “although controversial.”
“I mean sex. And booze. They somehow compensate the desperate boredom of existence.”
Alan nodded intently: 
“I agree, particularly with the booze part. Are you so bored with life?”
“Yes, I am,” Martin said honestly.
“And why is that?”
“I don`t know,” Martin answered too buoyantly to believe truly how bored he was. “Probably because nobody gives it to me.”
“Hm. Come with me; I can give you something,” Alan said grimly.
“What?” Martin tensed a little in response to his proposal. Alan could not help enjoying a couple of minutes of pure triumph over his fellow.
“A drink. And what did you expect?” 
  Martin laughed out loud in his own authentic manner, and Alan understood that he appreciated the depth of his humour.
“My last train has just left,” sadly said Martin, looking at the clock on the studio wall and clinking glasses with Alan.
“Well, let`s drink to the train,” Alan said. “Call your mother.”
“What`s the point if I won`t be home tonight?” Martin asked, and that put Alan in a deadlock for a few seconds. Then he decided to answer him in the same absurd manner so that his words would reach Martin more easily:
“Call your sisters then.”
“They are sleeping already.”
“I think I understand you,” Alan took off his vest and put on his leather jacket. “Well, Mister Gore, and what are your plans for tonight? Can I engage you to visit some God-forbidden place called nightclub just around the corner and to drink with me a cup of misanthropy, caused by watching people around, to the bottom?”
“It sounds surprisingly alluring,” Martin said, “as compared to my planned night at the station. I am all yours.”
  Martin quickly pulled on his chunky knit white sweater and worn yellow leather jacket, jumped into his shoes without untying the laces, and now he was bouncing impatiently. Alan was still standing before the mirror, combing his hair and smoothing it back. Then he held the comb out to Martin.
“I’d better not,” Martin shook his head; his face suddenly looked as if he was about to cry.
  Alan laughed. Martin`s complicated relationship with his hair, stiff rebellious African curls dyed into hellish yellowish-white with some sort of class hatred, had already become a byword.
“All right, Angela Davis, the heroine of the African people, shall we stay or shall we go now?”
“Heh-heh-heh.”
They walked down the street and just reached the bus stop.
“Hey, where are you going?” Martin asked when Alan spontaneously ran across the street to a rough sleeper in a TV box under the bridge.
“Wait a minute,” Alan said. He quickly sat down in front of the homeless man, threw him some coins, and raced back. “You never know what tomorrow will bring,” he shrugged sheepishly as if embarrassed about his display of kindness as a shameful act of weakness in Martin`s eyes. “My Grandma used to say so.”
  He was afraid that Martin would make fun of him like his friends always did. But Martin`s face showed no trace of a smile. He was quite serious; he repeated Alan`s route and left the homeless some money without saying a word about that at all.
   After walking a few hundred meters to the left, they stopped for some time to stare at the brightly lit storefront of the Musical Instruments Shop. They were just standing there and poking each other in the ribs, like “look, this one is really cool”. Alan avowed to be gathering his own collection of rare instruments and every now and then was pointing with his finger to show Martin what he already had and what he needed.
    Martin was leaning against the window, his nose buried in the glass, enclosing his face with his palms on both sides from the streetlights to see what was inside. From the point where he stood Alan could see pretty well, but he was more interested to look at Martin: the latter was staring at the instruments with the same absolute ecstatic lust as a child gazing at a confectionery counter. So, he was just standing there and smiling as he looked at Martin. Alan felt surprisingly good. The rain had stopped; it was dull and damp but warm. The air was thick and left chewy sweetness in the mouth and viscosity on the teeth like semolina pudding. Martin made him smile constantly; Martin himself smiled so that it crunched behind the ears - he seemed to be absolutely happy.
  Alan wanted to come up and cuddle Martin close to absorb this sudden feeling of absolute happiness. He felt Martin exuding it and thought that if he came up now, the happiness would overflow him as well. Martin was still shining with it, even when he shared his secret by telling Alan the heartbreaking story of how his mother had thrown his collection of rare records off. Alan comprehended all the suffering of Martin`s wounded soul, but he just laughed out because he just couldn`t help it. Martin was not offended; he laughed in response, adding by the way and rather cruel that he would never forgive her. The streets were empty; their steps echoed loudly. They were intoxicated with the night.
   Then the guys started a football game by hitting an empty beer can all over the place, bending in half with laughter because first Martin, in the heat of the game, bumped his forehead into a post, which made Alan roar and rush his back to a phone booth, so now Martin almost fell laughing about that.
“Are you not ashamed of the way you’re scoffing at your friend?!” giggling Alan asked Gore.
“Oh…no! Not at all! Can you…re….ha-ha…repeat it once again?”
“Shit!” Alan bumped his head into the club door. “Martin, aren`t you going inside, huh?”
  Martin was howling with laughter, hugging the post on the other side of the street:
“A-a-ah…you….just…just leave me here…ha-haaaa-haaaa!”
“Oh, Martin,” Alan shook his head, still smiling, and stepped through the door. The guard cast a sidelong look at him; Martin, however, did not follow. Alan glared at the corridor walls for a few minutes, then opened the street door:
“Uh…Martin?”
    Martin stood right behind the door; he opened his mouth in amazement while he was gazing at the flashing sign of the club. When he finally could speak, his voice was expressing some very strange emotions:
“Alan Wilder, this is a gay bar!” he said. “You`ve brought me to a gay bar, Alan Wilder?”
“Dammit, Martin! Fuck you, don`t act like you were born yesterday!” Alan said and grabbed him by the hand. “Hey, do you know another place that is open now, at night?! Come on, let`s go, for sure you can buy a drink here.”
“Oh, really? I thought clubs should serve some free drinks for the girls,” Martin gave his thirty-two-teeth smile to the guard. “If that’s so, I think you should know that I am an open lesbian.”
“Martin fucking Gore!” Alan said strictly.
“Heh-heh-heeeh,” Martin fucking Gore replied.
  There were just a few people inside the club, and it was relatively quiet. Some tables were occupied, and several pairs of shadows were moving to the music somewhere closer to the dark corners. The light was dim, and the music itself wasn`t loud enough to make them scream into each other`s ears. An average club; so, they drank a couple of beers there. A beefy hairy dude strolled past them. He was wearing an American policeman-style leather cap. Martin pointed his finger at him with childlike simplicity:
“Look, Al, Andy was performing in a cap like that!”
The dude was obviously staring at Martin, but Martin was not confused at all because he couldn`t see him. He was busy with his beer mug.
“Was it your idea?” Alan asked skeptically, lighting a cigarette.
“No, that`s Dave. He`s our designer,” Martin said.
“Oh, my God, where am I?”
“I…I was wearing a cross-harness, you know, like the one this dude is wearing on his boobs,” Martin chuckled. “It`s so nice.”
“Isn`t it?”
“Well, I like it,” Martin said.
“I`d say, you`d better stop pointing at him,” Alan said carefully.
“Whom?”
Alan showed with his chin.  Martin squinted to see the guy more clearly but failed and just forgot about him.
“«Shall we play?» Huh?” half-kidding, Alan asked somehow between this and then.
“What?” 
“The play.” 
“What play?” Martin looked utterly uncomplicated, and the subtle hope that was born inside of Alan died a natural death.
“BDSM,” Alan said grimly. “Bondage. Domination. Sadism. Masochism. Do you know what I mean?”
“No, I think I…probably…do not…know,” Martin`s cheeks suddenly flushed so bright that Alan could swear he felt the heat emanating from them. “Well…yes, I know actually…But in general, like…no.”
  Martin buried his embarrassment in his mug of beer. They sat together side by side on high stools at the bar. Martin seemed to feel a little uncomfortable here at first, so he leaned into Alan`s space lightly, resting his thigh and arm against Alan, as if he thought he would be safer like that. It appeared Martin trusted him; at least Alan did not feel it was a trick. Later, when they drank a little, Martin relaxed a bit but did not move away from him.
   Alan had often seen Martin sitting with Dave like that, leaning against him with his whole body, therefore Alan considered himself particularly favoured and did not resist. Well, he actually liked it in a certain sense. He just didn`t want Martin to know about it, so he was just sitting there afraid to move his leg or his arm not to frighten Martin off. 
    They sat there in silence for quite a while. Suddenly, Martin turned to him and gasped:
“Do you?” Alan felt Martin`s breath with his neck. And he felt creeps. It was probably a bad idea to bring the guy here…indeed, he started to feel that he wanted to play with him. Alan warily glanced askance at Martin and met his shiny emerald gaze full of interest and admiration. Obviously, Martin found a way to cope with his previous embarrassment, and now his face was showing pure interest and admiration. This face was showing admiration for him, Alan Wilder. Damn. Alan realized that he would definitely have to lie to Martin. He would do anything not to betray those sparkling emeralds.
“I do,” he said very seriously, hoping that the natural paleness of his skin would hide his emotions.
“Tell me,” Martin said, “how it goes.”
“Martin,” Alan pushed his beer aside, “I guess it is very incorrectly to ask.”
“Why?”
“Well, Martin, there are some things…beyond…”
“Beyond what?”
“You know, there is such a thing as one`s personal life. For example, I am not asking you how you usually jerk off, right, Martin?”  
  Martin looked at him with a strange smile. Or rather, Alan couldn’t understand if Martin had such strange shaped lips or he was smiling at him in a very strange way. He was peering right into his eyes, not blinking at all, like a snake hypnotizing its prey.
“Give me your hand,” Martin said all at once. “Look, you just have to put your hand on…you know…just like this.” He showed how, firmly and painfully grabbed Alan`s wrist, and started to move his palm up and down in the very distinctive manner. Then he laughed aloud.
   Alan leaned back abruptly and nearly fell off the chair. Blood rushed to his head. He opened his mouth unable to make a sound. He had not expected that sudden aggressive provocation from Martin. He was too relaxed, or too tired, or too drunk; he believed Martin`s childish behaviour, so innocent and pure, and his brain couldn`t switch into another position so quickly. He realized what had happened only when he saw that Martin was laughing at him. Alan gave him a morose look while climbing down from his stool:
“I need to pee,” he hissed through his teeth.
    Alan went to the loo stiff-legged. The feeling of warmth and trust had left him without a trace. Now he was shaking inside, with a little help of nicotine and alcohol, but mostly from the ice rocks in his stomach. Anger and irrational fear seized him. Alan was angry with himself and afraid to screw up in front of Martin. All night he had been waiting for Martin to response; no sooner did he relax than he was immediately caught off-guard and hit straight between the eyes by Martin. 
    Alan cursed himself that he hadn`t taken Martin`s prior words seriously enough: “Sex and booze against the boredom of existence”. Oh, well, so we are having fun now. We are making fun of Alan, now! The fuck you don`t know how to play, baby! What a fool I was to think that it was just a figure of speech!
   That was no accident - that was Martin`s answer to his question. Martin was expecting the next movement from him now. And if he could not respond adequately, he would fucking fall from his pedestal like some cormorant with turpentine in its ass.
    Alan moaned over the urinal, burying his forehead in his fist that rested against the grey-painted brick wall.
“The fuck you don`t know how it goes,” he said to his own cock, scaring the shit out of two gays who were cuddling in a corner. Well, he was not trying to talk to his cock; it`s just nobody else was around. Martin was not there. “And what the hell are you doing to me right now? Damn, what a fool I`ve been!”
    On the other hand - Alan thought washing his hands - there was also a positive side of Martin`s behaviour. He obviously showed his interest in the game and was evidently trying Alan out, otherwise he wouldn`t do that. Well, that was definitely the positive aspect of the issue. Alan looked into the mirror, turned his head to one side then to another, proudly throwing out his chin. Let`s see who will win!
“So, let`s play then,” he said to his own reflection.
  Alan returned in a much better mood, sorting through the options of how to respond to Martin`s provocation. Only later would he finally realize that that was the exact moment he swallowed Martin`s bait and was hooked through his cheek like some stupid fat carp. He would figure it out afterwards. 
  But at the time he knew what to do, and something told him that the answer would probably not come easy to Martin.

***

Alan came home in the evening and turned on his computer immediately. He didn`t even undress, just took off and threw away his shoes. That damn laptop had never booted for so long. It seemed to mock him, proposing a couple of urgent updates and really buzzing while downloading Skype. When he finally got to the site with the phone codes, his hands were shaking with hatred for this insidious piece of iron. 
     However, it was worth the wait. His intuition did not fail him. Alan pulled out his phone and looked at it with the warmest affection he possessed. Yes, there was a good reason in the morning for the feeling like he was hit by the truck. His poor nerves could not help but feel the vibrations of the noosphere when THIS was approaching him.
   As he suspected, his cell phone showed the code of a sweet small California town called Santa Barbara. The place on a map that he was usually too scared to look at. Alan rubbed his forehead and chuckled. So, California, then. If Miller called him from Santa Barbara, then it is not that bad with his ears and brains. So, this phone number has something to do with Martin Gore. The hell he will erase it now!
    Alan wasn`t sure at that moment whether it could be of any use to him, but the idea to erase it seemed monstrous. California. The image of California reminded him of a song. The very thought about this place suddenly inspired him to turn on this old song, the one that was too hard to forget, even though he hadn`t listened to it intentionally for ages. But today there was something wrong with his mood. The train of thoughts and memories was impossible to stop now. Hence, it was easier to succumb than to resist it.



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